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Chuck Lunney
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Of course, you all realize that the local weather (i.e., relating to the ice on your driveway) isn't at all correlated to the global climate, don't you? And the fact that January 2010 was the warmest January on record for the globe isn't at all interesting, is it? Or the fact that the warmest year on record (1998) was an El Nino year -- the same thing that's happening this year? Or the fact that while 2008 was cooler than the decade's trend, it was still warmer than ANY year prior to 2000 except 1998 (which is a known exception because of El Nino). Regardless of whether the warming is man-made or not, the effects will be profound and worldwide -- and sticking your head in the ground and squawking about fudged data (false claims) and religious faith (bigotry and lies) doesn't make the problem go away. Learn some science and logic, people. The earth is going through an extreme warming period, and shows no signs of stopping. If we don't start adapting and adjusting now, the costs will be monumentally higher for our descendant's generations.
Toggle Commented Mar 4, 2010 on Global warming fraud at Unfettered Letters
There are good things for many people in religion - a sense of community, a feeling of purpose, a connection to something larger than themselves, and above all, a meaning for their lives. But there is also the bad to counter it -- the group-think division, the reliance on dogma and doctrine, the discouragement of questioning and challenging the doctrine, etc. Even you, JT, in the very post you attack KCF, use the same black-and-white thought process you accuse him of. Speaking of "haters", "demagogues", litmus tests, etc. Those are the words of separation and splitting. There are no "evil" person in the world, and there are no purely "good" people. Everyone is a mix, and the shading and hues of personal ethics, morality, and humanity are a spectrum as diverse and expansive as the number of individual humans. Individuals may have a greater propensity towards good/evil/selfish/generous, but not even then is there any single person with only one trait.
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Susan, I haven't read L'Engle since high school. One of these days, I should re-read her stories. And I agree that moderates in a group who don't condemn/deny the radical and violent members of their overarching group can end up providing a legitimizing cover for the offenses. That's one reason I don't respond to Iggy, and have said numerous times that he's wrong in what he writes and how he acts. I do think there is some ethical responsibility to not only one's own actions, but for anyone else who professes membership or allegiance to a mutual group. I don't agree with all of what is written by the more strident athiests, but I don't know of any who have committed crimes SOLELY on the basis of atheism. On the other hand, religion is often the sole ingredient needed to commit some of the most heinous, violent acts of terror and injustice.
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JT wrote: "Why is Bill suddenly editing? What value has Bill suddenly put above the most cherished of his ideals?" Perhaps civility, topicality and relevance are also important to him? (continued) JT wrote: "Bill would never sell out his values, and seek to squelch Fred Phelps, would he?" Would you allow Fred Phelps to talk at your church? Don't you value free speech? JT wrote: "Shouldn't Churches have the right to rally against those who choose homosexuality? Of course, in the name of Free Speech and Free Press, it must be allowed." I don't see anywhere in what Bill wrote that those groups don't have the free speech right to say what they want. The point was that by doing so, we dehumanize and delegitimatize. And that makes it harder for civil discussion and rational, reasonable exchanges to take place. You are free to preach hatred, evil, immorality and injustice all you want. But don't expect that to resonate with others who are more open minded or less prejudiced than you to agree. And, those who disagree with the church's stances are also free to speak out against such behavior -- as Bill explains very well above. JT wrote: "Those ideals are the most important, by far, and should be especially cherished by a reporter. What could be more sacred than Free Speech and Free Press to a reporter? Nothing." Once again with the black-and-white thinking, JT. A reporter isn't just a pen chasing the next story. Reporters are people, too. Some may be very focused on specific issues, but I highly doubt that the majority would rank Free Speech and Free Press as "more sacred" than everything else (although those would probably be fairly high on their lists). And being free to speak doesn't mean you should abandon your manners and civility in the process. We've seen that too many times on the comments here (and elsewhere).
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JT wrote: "I watched various videos on Dawkins' site where supposedly rational speakers were paraded through to make one nasty comment after another about believers, people they did not know and have never met." And I've watched similar events held by religious groups where atheists, people of other faiths, blacks, gays, etc were all attacked and insulted from the speakers -- and with the nodding, smiling consent of the religious leaders. Why focus only on one side, JT? You do realize nastiness, insults and marginalization are spewed out from all sides? JT wrote: "ALL believers were labeled in derogatory ways. Judging from Dawkins warm reception of such abuse, I'd say that it was, no doubt, a prerequisite for speaking at any Dawkins event." Substitute blacks, atheists, or any other marginalized group for "believers", and switch "Dawkins" to "the church", and you'd have an equally valid statement. JT wrote: "I began to admire how governments allow those who regularly feed from government troughs to attack religions as they do. Just like Bill, our government values Free Speech and Free Press more highly than any other ideal." Evidence? Last I checked, the Faith-Based Initiative was still thriving under the current president. And why shouldn't the First Amendment rights be valued in our Constitution?
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Thank you, Bill, for taking some control of the comments and trying to get the focus back on your posts and constructive discussion. Maybe there can actually be some productive exchanges back and forth now, rather than the petty insults and sniping (yes, I admit I'm guilty of that, too). FWIW - I've always enjoyed your posts and insights, although I don't always agree with your conclusions or viewpoints.
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JT, did you bother to read the references I cited? Did you see that what you are trying to say is actually against what Shannon theory states, and more specifically, isn't related to the "information" in the genetic code in the way you're trying to connect it? In fact, Shannon theory ISN'T used (generally) in examining biological sequences (because it deals with information and noise differently than what natural systems do). And again, given your prior admonishment of me for rude behavior and insults, I find it almost funny that you have, in all your comments today, managed to insert insult after insult, personal attack after personal attack, in each and every post. Does the term "hypocrite" ever cross your mind as you post? As to your question regarding info being added to the genetic code, I've got to ask what you're referring to. Are you talking about the genomic sequence of a living organism or a population genome? If that is the type of genetic code you're talking about, then I can give you plenty of examples of information being added (and subtracted, and modified) by natural processes. If not, please clarify. Oh, and if I was a researcher in genetic biochemistry and working on computational bioinformatics related to information content and generation in DNA, I certainly wouldn't be publishing here -- sorry, Bill, but your blog just doesn't have the panache of a Science or Nature when it comes to big discoveries. :)
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Last comment I'll make to Will/Adam: I did not specifically call you "vermin", I was referring to all who had insulted, attacked, and used rude behavior which JT had condemned just a couple days ago. That not only included you, but myself, Cole, Iggy and JT. Once again, you focus only on individual words, and miss the actual meaning of the message. Learn to read for comprehension -- it'll improve your life dramatically. As to who is a hypocrite -- I notice you didn't bother mentioning JT. Funny, that. He's the one who's spent the last several days admonishing me and Cole for sinking to the level of exchanging insults -- and then he goes and does exactly that himself. Pot, meet kettle. Beam, meet eye. Hypocrite, look in the mirror.
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JT wrote about Shannon Information Theory and entropy. Sorry to tell you this, but you've got a lot of your "information" wrong. The entropy Shannon described in his theory is different from the actual physical entropy described in physics. Look at these: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/information/shannon.html http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/information/gitt.html http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/information/infotheory.html for a better description of the issue. 300 words is far to small to accurately explain the situation, although it is plenty to post errors and lies in abundance. Basic summary: the words used in the multiple theories are the same, but they refer to different things. In Shannon theory (dealing only with commuication protocols), randomness will generally decrease "information". But in other theories from different disciplines, most specifically physics and computer science, randomness will actually INCREASE the amount of information -- with potentially no limit, depending on the conditions and variables in the system. IDists like to conflate the multiple theories and come up with something that sounds scientific, but actually turns out to be nonsense when actually analyzed for content.
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JT wrote: "I can't help it that Cole's life and KCFreeThinkers.org's life are target rich environments. If it weren't for insults, then they'd have nothing left to say. So I must communicate with them in their language of insults if I am going to communicate at all. But I can communicate in their language so that they can understand. So I will." And yet, just the other day you chastised me for responding in kind to Will/Adam. Funny, that sure seems like a blatant double-standard and special pleading from you. I've yet to see any chastisement of Will/Adam for their posts with no information content, insults and non-productive hate-mongering. You have no problem bashing those on the other side, so why are you reluctant to condemn the same behavior from those who side with you? Does that large stick poking out of your eye hurt much? Seems to me the tiny mote in my own is only a minor irritant in comparison. Think about it...
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JT, I thought you were above insults and personal attacks? I thought you said you wouldn't stoop to that level, and that we should all rise above such petty and demeaning things? I see you just can't resist (which is sad, really). I've given up hope for Will and Adam to be civil and polite, but I was hoping you'd be a reasonable man. Guess you like it down in the gutter with the rest of the vermin, eh?
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Cole wrote: "Hey, Chuck, missed you last night" Yeah, sick kids and wife made it impossible for me to leave the house yesterday. Glad you all had a good discussion. So, just Jim representing the theists again?
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About the Big Bang singularity: In the context of all of universal physics, the Big Bang is not complex, it's a straightforward process that is driven by the most basic rules of physics. While it is clearly a very significant event in the universe's history, that doesn't mean it has to be mindbogglingly complex or convoluted. Often, the largest overarching explanations of science are actually very simple and universal rules. Gravity (and the other three nuclear forces) are pretty much all that is needed to explain the Big Bang. And it's also the most empirically confirmed theory in all of science (just slightly more statistically confirmed than evolution or quantum theory). Complexity is usually derived a multipicative repitition of very basic rules. A good example of infinite complexity deriving from very simple rules is the Mandlebrot set (http://www.math.utah.edu/~pa/math/mandelbrot/mandelbrot.html). The forms and structure bounded by the set is nearly unimaginably convoluted and infinitely long and complex (at all scales). But the formula to generate such complexity is very short and simple z(0) = z, z(n+1) = z(n)*z(n) + z, n=0,1,2, ... That's it. One simple equation to make infinite complexity. Makes you wonder what other simple explanations there are for seemingly impossibly complex things.
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JT wrote: " isn't it interesting that the wisdom in the Bible for living is still as valid today as it ever was? Proverbs is interesting that way. It talks about those who join together to attack people who have done nothing to them, and the misery they cause their own soul. It deals with respect for others, and for authority." You could say the same about the Hindu Vedas, Buddhist Sutras or Hammurabi's Code (among many others). Common sense and humanistic ethics are human characteristics, and it's not surprising they are found in the basic doctrines of nearly all religions. Supernatural religions each insist those things are "given by God", but isn't it interesting that they are all so similar, across the globe? Almost as if they derive from common ancestry as a social cultural species. And now that we've got the ability to research and compare cultures around the world, as well as study into psychology and sociology of people, we can find the common paths and patterns that drive humans to develop ethics and society. No need for gods or supernatural -- all of it is an emergent complex of behaviors and emotions that join us all as a worldwide family.
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Apparently, I can dial a phone and not realize it! I'd tried calling Jim Christensen several times over the last couple days to invite him to Borders on Sunday, but each time it would go straight to voicemail (and inform me that that his "voice mailbox is full. Please try again later"). Last night about 11:00, I was getting ready for bed and went to put my phone on my dresser (so the dog wouldn't eat it), but it slipped and started to fall. I lunged and grabbed it, but I must have hit the "Call" button by accident. I quickly cancelled the call, but realized the last number I'd dialed yesterday was to Jim -- so that's who's number was called. About 30 seconds later, my phone rang -- it was Jim. Luckily, he wasn't asleep, but driving somewhere, so I didn't wake him up. I apologized for the late hour and explained the mistake, but then added in the invitation to meet this weekend. He sounded surprised about it, as if no one had told him about it. He said he'd look at the comments here today if he got the chance, and see if he could make it to Borders. He asked me to call him today, when he wasn't trying to drive and I wasn't heading to bed. So, once again -- Come to Borders (91st and Metcalf) Sunday evening from 7:00 - 9:00 to discuss Dawkins' latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth (and anything else that comes up in conversation). The offer to buy the first cup of coffee for any of the theists is still on the table -- Adam, Will, JT, Trapblock, etc. I've bought Jim a couple rounds, and I'm willing to spring for yours, too. All you've got to do is show up.
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Adam wrote: "Chuck, just to get this straight...you believe the Jews of the Old Testament were genocidal war criminals. Right? And the fact that they were a former slave people fighting for survival is irrelevant. Correct?" No. Try reading for comprehension next time. I wasn't talking about the PEOPLE, just the description of God. The ancient Jews were no more violent, genocidal, or otherwise different from any other culture of the time. Standards, ethics and morality change over time, and like most groups, the Jewish people have kept pace. God, however, is supposed to be unchanging and immutable - so a description of God from 3500 years ago shouldn't be any different from what God is today. Adam wrote: "So, you agree with the approach they took in World War Two, where did not fight, and Six Million were slaughtered?" Considering I wasn't even talking about the PEOPLE who wrote the bible, but the Deity described therein, it doesn't matter a whit. Get it through your head -- I'm comparing God and Saddam. If the ancient Jews fit into the analogy anywhere, they would be comparable to the Iraqi people. Adam wrote: "You can't have in both ways in the constext of the historical situation." Well, if you actually read what I wrote with comprehension and understanding of the analogy in mind, you might actually figure out the intent. As it stands, you're so focused on finding anti-semitism in every little thing, you can't figure out what to do when none actually exists in an argument.
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"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." --Thomas Jefferson Is there any chance Will, Adam, JT, Trapblock or any other Christian here who would accept/agree with President Jefferson? Have you ever, even once, questioned the very existence of God? Do you use critical thinking, reason and strict questioning when examining the claims of your religion? Do you agree with the last statment about which one Jefferson thinks God would approve of more?
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JT wrote: "We should each police ourselves in regard to appropriate blogging, and we should help our neighbor when they wander into dangerous territory, too, so that they don't wander over the line. It's good sense, it's good etiquette, and it's the right thing to do." A very sensible, reasonable and judicious post. Thank you. Now, are you going to apply that standard to both sides, or continue to only beat it over the head of the atheists? I expect you to not be hypocritical in your condemnation of offensive, impolite and defaming comments. As you say -- it's the right thing to do.
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Will wrote: "A particulary vicious post at 9:59 am yesterday compared the God of the Old Testament to Saddam Hussein." What was "viscious" about it? Just because you personally don't like the comparison doesn't mean it's invalid. Will wrote: "So, after elaborating on how bad Mr. Hussein was, I suppose Mr. Lunney fully supported Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq." Ummm, no. I've written previously about the Iraq invasion and the lack of planning, justification and support it was given by Bush & Co. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless, arrogant, petty, manipulative, lying dictator who did everything he could to subjugate his people, eliminate opposition and maintain power for over 30 years. But none of that was enough justification for a pre-emptive full-scale attack. Yet the comparison to the Old Testament God is apt, in my opinion -- both ordered followers to commit genocide. Both used intimidation, force and violence to maintain control over their rule. Both endorsed rape and murder to indimidate and subjugate people. Both considered their rule absolute and any dissent was considered a direct challenge to their authority (and ruthlessly quashed). The main difference, as I see it, is that Saddam Hussein at least had the excuse of being a falliable human. God gets no such pass, if one takes the Bible as a literal description of history. Of course, to be able to make such a comparison you have to have read the Bible for comprehension.
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Will wrote: "But the larger problem is the attack on Judaism that this implies; the charges are a misrepresentation of the Old Testament." I wasn't attacking Judaism as it is practiced now -- note I was referring only to the specific descriptions of God listed in the Old Testament -- which are NOT the entire structure of modern Judaism. There has been a lot of rabbinical teaching and exposition on the import of the Torah, such that for most Jews (except the uber-conservative ones), the tales told in the Torah are not necessarily literal, but simply stories to provide guidance and teaching. Will wrote: "but since we know Chuck and his buddies think the Old Testament is fiction, and since it was written by Jews, you have the argument used by Nietzsche and others that the JEWS have foisted a massive fraud on mankind. (In fact, that is what Hitler's favorite philosopher, Nietzsche, wrote in The AntiChrist)" 1. Even if it is fiction, there can be many good moral/ethical teachings from it. But the God as depicted in the Old Testament doesn't show much of that. 2. What I wrote has nothing to do with modern Judaism or their interpretation and explanation of the Torah. 3. Hitler was also used Martin Luther to justify his atrocities against the Jews. Gee, you know -- the same Martin Luther who started the whole Protestant movement (of which you happen to be part of). Will wrote: "I mean, what kind of people would support such a religion based on such things?" Yeah, I agree. Anyone who thinks the Bible is 100% literally true and infalliable is an ignorant fool. Good thing the vast majority of Christians and Jews don't. What about you?
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JT -- what "smear" campaign? I've merely said that I won't be polite to them, as they are impolite to everyone else (and like you are starting to be). I have called them liars (backed up by the multiple comments they've made about atheists that are fabrications or outright falsehoods). I've called them cowards (because they make grandiose boasts and claims, then fail to ever back them up). I've called them "kids" (because that's what Jim Christensen called them, and I think I can trust him on that). I've called them obnoxious and offensive (because of the numerous insults and personal attacks they've made over the year). Now, unlike you, Will, Adam, and Iggy, I back up my claims and opinions with fact and evidence. I also try to not be a hypocrite, and I'll call out offensive and insulting behavior on both sides. I think I read somewhere that one shouldn't mention the mote in another's eye, while ignoring logs in one's own. Seems that little gem of knowledge wasn't read for comprehension by you, JT. Now, rather than spending time exchanging insults, perhaps you would care to engage in some actual constructive discussion about Bill's blog postings? I've posted several comments over the last few days that don't relate to Iggy, Will or Adam -- why focus on irrelevancies and tangents when you could actually be showing how much theological knowledge you have?
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Iggy, please. There is no reason to insult Andrew (or Will or Adam) like that. You DON'T know if he's mentally challenged or has any other condition. Speculation like that is offensive and not appropriate. Whether or not he shows up to meet people has nothing to do with such things. I still think his/their failure to meet is an indication of immaturity and cowardice, not any medical condition. Speaking of meetings -- the invitation is still open for all to come meet at Borders (91st and Metcalf) on Sunday evening from 7-9. I'm hoping to discuss (at least a little bit) Dawkins' book, but the conversation will probably ramble away from that within minutes. And I will be personally calling and inviting Jim Christensen today, so hopefully he'll be able to make it (if he's not proctoring study hall).
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It's interesting to hear a Nobel Laureate criticizing a religious text. While much of the Bible can be considered good literature (and some of it not so good), there can definitely be a case made that in many of its books the ethics/morality it teaches about God aren't in line with what most would consider "good". It doesn't take a great writer to recognize that many of the depictions of God in the Bible aren't exemplars of "good morals". I'm reminded of a line from a movie, "With great power comes great responsibility." God, as described, is more like a viscious tyrant who enslaves and tortures his subjects, not a benevolent monarch who cares for them. Especially in the Old Testament, the God depicted is one who is cruel, vindictive, arrogant, petty, jealous and just plain mean. Anyone who has actually read the Old Testament (let me clarify: read for comprehension) can see that. Please, some theist (Bill, perhaps), explain why the actions and attributes of the God of the Old Testament are not in most cases ethically identical to the actions and attributes of Saddam Hussein throughout his reign of terror in Iraq. Why is it OK for a God to violate the very basis of human morality, when we condemn even kings and presidents for not a tenth of what is claimed righteous by God?
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You're all invited to meet and discuss Dawkins' latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth, at Borders cafe (91st and Metcalf) on Sunday evening from 7:00-9:00. Of course, given the past history of such gatherings, I doubt we'll be able to stay focused on the book for very long, but it should be a fun and entertaining evening. Of course, I expect Will, Adam and JT to "run away". But if they want to pass on the invitation to Jim, it would be appreciated. And Bill - I know you read the comments -- you're invited too! I'd love to meet you in person.
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JT wrote: "publishing private conversations is revealing private information. That's exactly how it works. You are mistaken when you thought differently." It wasn't a "private conversation", JT. It was a public gathering in a public location with no expectation of privacy. Add to that the fact that it was mentioned several times TO THE LAWYER that the things we talked about would be written about on this blog and possibly elsewhere on the internet. Therefore, it was NOT a "private conversation". Therefore, YOU are wrong. 100% and without doubt. (but since you weren't there, how would you know what was said or not said?) JT wrote: "And when you deliberately publish private conversations in an attempt to demean, belittle, embarass, harass, etc., then you're doing something that you know is wrong. You've definitely wandered into bad territory there. Even if the law doesn't call it wrong (but it often does), you still *know* its wrong, don't you, Chuck? Did you get permission to report what others said to you in private conversation? And, worse, others involved say that you have *misreported* what was said, too." 1) It wasn't "private" (see above) 2) It wasn't wrong -- Jim showed up, had no issue with the topics and conversation, and didn't ask for anyone not to report any of the discussion. 3) Permission was given, by Jim himself. 4) As you weren't there, it is simply a case of two conflicting reports. As it stands, the only people who have any credibility in such matters are those who were actually present (of which, we've got three here reporting on it). The others (Will, Adam and you) are using HEARSAY. Last time I checked, that wasn't considered to be credible. Given the history of lying, insulting, attacking and whining from Will and Adam, do you really think that they should be considered "credible" sources for reporting on a discussion where they weren't even present? Why accept their hearsay, and dismiss the reports from individuals who WERE there? Once again, that log seems to be interfering with your vision.
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