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Jon Cleland Host

Ed- great to meet you!  


            Interesting background.  I think our ability to tell stories is key to any culture, and I see the Universe Story as so essential to our future.  Your technology could be extremely helpful.  It’s great to connect here.  You can see some of my stuff by looking around online.  You’ll find that I feel a spiritual connection to all of life on Earth, an overflowing gratitude for our Ancestors (all the way back to stars!), and that everything I do is to help build a just, healthy, and sustainable future for all.  


My background – I was raised Catholic, and in college realized that I simply didn’t buy it anymore.  From the position of an Atheist, I wanted more of a connection to our human family, so my first step in constructing a rational, real, and living spirituality started when I realized that our Neolithic forebears, in culture after culture, celebrated the Winter Solstice.  It’s a spiritual time that encompasses humanities deepest religious roots.  So over a decade ago, I started watching the sunrise every Winter Solstice.  This changed my life by opening the door to a celebration of this life and of our earth.   Soon after, my wife and I added celebration of the Summer Solstice as a celebration of the joyful life of summer.  The celebration of the Equinoxes followed, as did the celebration of the Celtic Holidays, which are the thermal equivalents of the Solstices and Equinoxes.  As a whole, these eight holidays connect me to our Earth, to life, and to our human family.   Somewhere along there, we realized we were celebrating the Pagan Wheel of the Year.    With an evidence-based worldview and Pagan holidays, I’m a Naturalistic Pagan (www.naturalpagan.org).      Of many different activities related to that, my most recent endeavor was helping craft the Pagan Statement on the Environment, which we just released today (Happy Earth Day!)    It is at http://www.ecopagan.com/  , and you can add your voice by signing it.  


Academically, my B. S. and Ph.D. (from Northwestern University) are in Materials Science (a field that includes Chemistry, Mechanics, and Physics).  I’ve been a research scientist for the past 18 years, with about a dozen peer-reviewed papers published, including one in the journal “Nature”.   Most of my work has been in the field of silicon, though I’ve done some nanoparticle work too.  My wife and I do a lot of different things to bring science to kids.  We wrote a book on celebrating birthdays by atomic number (really fun!), the 18 second book trailer is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Tyck37klw 


OK, back to the topics.  


First- Duane, since you aren’t staying on any given topic, I’ll have to conclude that we agree that the Universe doesn’t meet the first criteria for life – metabolism.  I still hope for a response on many of the other topics listed (including simply giving us the text of the “living Galaxy article”, which you seem to have.  Is there a reason why you won’t answer that after I’ve asked it at least 4 times? ((F))   ).  Do we agree on the list in ((H)) – that these are methods of pseudoscience and should hence be avoided?  etc.


Next – I too am concerned with Duane’s characterization of “the dominant perspective of scientific materialism” sounds like the same strawman I hear creationists use.  That’s why I asked you, Duane, to explain if you mean methodological or philosophical materialism/naturalism – because in my many times engaging creationists and other pseudoscientists, that was very often at the root of the problem.  


About SRI stuff – it’s a whole topic I don’t have time for now (unless we focus on it instead of bringing up more topics), but one point does come to mind.  Even if such communication were shown to be real, it really doesn’t show that the universe is “alive”.  After all, before the understanding of electrical conduction, the telegraph would be a similarly “unknown” way to communicate, and all the same arguments that Duane made could have been made then on the basis of an unknown way to transmit information by copper wire in 1700 AD.  We know now that such communication is quite possible – and yet it doesn’t show that the universe is any more “alive” then it was in 1400AD. 


I think that Ed, your point that what Duane (and I, for that matter) want is to show that the Universe *has value* is correct.  We want the Universe treated with reverence, regardless of whether or not it is “alive”, or if there is some unknown communication method, or whatever.


Happy Earth Day everyone!