Category Archives: secularism

The Past Decade in Science and Certainty


A link to my essay on Lynn Margulis, “Evolutionary ‘Naturalism,’ Chance and Conspiracy,” was shared in this month’s Environmental Evolution newsletter.

Also, watch the preview of Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis rocked the boat and started a scientific revolution

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Lynn Margulis, Evolutionary ‘Naturalism,’ Chance and Conspiracy

“The endosymbiosis hypothesis is retrogressive in the sense that it avoids the difficult thought necessary to understand how mitochondria and chloroplasts have evolved as a series of small evolutionary steps.” -Thomas Uzzell and Christine Spolsky, 1974

The above old quote may make us chuckle now that Margulis’ theory has been vindicated by DNA analysis. Uzzell and Spolsky imply that endosymbiosis seemed to them too easy and naïve, like a myth describing how the first humans sprang from sown dragon’s teeth. Even though there was nothing prima facie impossible about the idea — no physical laws violated — these critics nevertheless felt that the endosymbiosis hypothesis was tantamount to a “revival of special creation.” [1] Symbiogenesis, the idea championed by Lynn Margulis, is here associated with the supernatural because it was considered to be a rare and too fortuitous event. Continue reading

May 11, VN Alexander on Nabokov at Library in Rosendale, NY

rosendale WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 7 PM FREE

“Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry: The Artist as Scientist”

Victoria N Alexander

Public Scholars, NY Council for the Humanities: In collaboration with the NY Council for the Humanities, the Rosendale Public Library presents a slide/lecture on the controversial novelist and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, that reveals his insights into the mysteries of mimicry and how the scientific community responded to his studies. Fantastic images of insect mimicry will be used as examples of how important art is to good science. This event is made possible through the Public Scholars program with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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The Science of Making Choices

What happens in your body when you choose to go right or left?  What makes your choices? your Self? What does the word “choice” really mean?

VN Alexander, PhD discusses the science of making choices from a complexity science-biosemiotics perspective. From “Science, Art and Biosemiotics” series, produced and directed by Lucian Rex.

To read more about this topic see The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature and Nature. 

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Atheists sue over WTC cross

Statues of mythological and/or fictional characters and themes can be found in state and federal parks all over the country, like this statue of Neptune at a city park in Virginia Beach.  As far as I know atheists don’t try to get these removed. The American Atheist Organization is suing to remove a cross from the WTC memorial.  The “cross” is actually a section of welded I-beam that was found sticking up from the rubble after 9/11.  Witnesses found the coincidental resemblance to Christ’s cross significant. While I don’t agree that such coincidences are supernaturally caused, I think they are interesting. Significant coincidences are at the heart of all “chance” phenomena which lead to the emergence of life, language, and art. (That’s my natural philosophy in a nutshell.) I could no more reject public tributes to Christianity than I could to any great work of fiction. Somehow it just doesn’t piss me off.  I understand it as art. It doesn’t bother me that others take it differently.  (I even have a portrait of a black Madonna hanging in my home.  It’s a really cool painting that my great-grandmother brought over from Poland.)  That’s why I think there is something up with AAO’s president David Silverman who isn’t able to detach himself emotionally from the power of religious symbolism.  He released this statement about the WTC cross Continue reading