At times Nature can be cruel, but there is a raw beauty in the struggle for survival. Consider the alligators, one of the oldest predator species. The alligator is an apex predator, but can still fall victim to team work. A dog pack’s tightly knit social structure and survival-of-the-pack mentality enables it to defeat even such a fearsome predator as the alligator, as seen in this graphic photo from Florida.

For the protection of the squeamish, after the cut.


…or why we need to teach people more field biology.

Found cat

Image from Grrlscientist, and thanks to Noni Mausa for the link.

I’m reminded of a time when I was a callow youth when my mother and I accidentally trapped what we thought was some sort of cute little marsupial. Thinking it could have been an endangered beastie, we did the socially responsible thing and called the local park ranger to come identify it.

She took one look at it and pronounced “It’s a rat.”

One of the slurs thrown around against atheists is that without religion, or at least without God, we’d be left with nothing. Atheists are popularly believed to be nihilists, believing in nothing, caring for nothing.

This could not be further from the truth.

PZ Myers has written a beautiful, brief piece, “An atheist’s creed”, that describes what he believes. We do not need to believe in fairy tales and engage in wishful thinking to see the meaning and beauty in the world.

People often ask, “But if there’s no God, what’s the point?” — life is the point, not some wished-for but never seen After Life. Life is a journey, and the purpose of the journey is to travel, not the destination. I’d like to live forever, and I’d also like a pony and a plastic rocket, but just because I won’t get any of them doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this Current Life. This is not a dress rehearsal, and a rose is not less beautiful because it is finite.

(Click image for larger view, or see here.)

I’ve posted this cartoon before. I think it’s important enough to post it again.

I think nihilism gets a bum rap. Perhaps the term itself is now so indelibly linked to negativity, anomie, cynicism (according to George Bernard Shaw, “The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it”) and despair at the pointlessness of existence that the term itself is poison, but then two years ago I might have said the same thing about atheism. But I think people get it wrong. Existence isn’t pointless. Existence is the point.

Remember: there are squirrels.