Hasn’t Science Disproved God?
by Jonathan Sherwin
“Ladies and Gentleman, the captain has just switched on the seatbelt sign in anticipation of upcoming moderate turbulence.” A string of words never followed by a cheery, “enjoy it!” When the bumps start I instinctively look out the window, just to make sure the wings are still there. I’m suddenly rudely aware of the extent that I’m not in control. Additionally, the thought occurs to me that if airplane disasters are simply statistics then every flight is a reduction in my odds.
So just how dangerous is turbulence? To answer that question, I turned to that master of knowledge, the Discovery Channel. Three words: airplane disaster documentaries. I was hooked. Human error, mechanical failure, unpredictable weather – I soaked it all in. You may think it an odd way to deal with undesirable high-altitude stress. Maybe so. My rationale was that the more I understood the more I would feel OK (as if my knowing that human error was the number one cause of airplane crashes was going to help me when I was strapped in to seat 49J with as much command over the elements as an Englishman with his BBQ hoping for that “perfect summer evening”).
My obsession with these re-enacted disasters did however bring some consolation. Through these dramas I learnt that airplane crashes are taken very seriously. They are investigated at great depth with the knowledge gained from the studies used to make future flights safer. As I learnt about the resulting developments in airplane technology my fascination with the complexity of airplanes grew and grew. I am in total awe of how advanced these modern vehicles are.
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Men have sat in rooms and thought and schemed and sketched and calculated and come out with things like Concorde. Absolutely incredible. Airplane designers have my total respect. Airplane economy-section planners on the other hand … I digress.
As with my marvels at airplane technology I am profoundly in awe and wowed by scientific discoveries. As I write, NASA’s Martian rover, aptly named ‘Curiosity’, is scrambling around the Red Planet at the beginning of its two-year mission to see if conditions were ever suitable for life. Utterly fascinating…
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