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Robin Lionheart
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It's ironic that you cite “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” (which, by the way, was cosmologist Martin Rees’ aphorism, not Carl Sagan’s), to introduce using what is absent (what wasn’t said, what isn’t there) as evidence. Indeed, this “absence of evidence” maxim is one you should unlearn, since it is false. Frex, if you investigate the Monster Under Your Bed by looking underneath your bed, and find an absence of evidence for said monster, that is, in fact, evidence of the monster’s absence. Or to put it in mathematical language: P(monster|~evidence of monster) < P(monster|evidence of monster)
Toggle Commented Feb 22, 2011 on Evidence of Unlearning at Unlearning 101
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So instead Moses murdered those children with swords for his god. Saul, I should have said. Saul slaughtered the Amelekite children, Moses slaughtered the Midianite children. I slipped and started talking about a different God-ordered genocide. My bad.
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What I am sure of is that human-caused global warming is bogus What makes you so sure, danielg? Do you know something the experts don't? I ask because 97% of climatology researchers disagree with you. A poll of researchers listed in the American Geological Institute's Directory of Geoscience Departments "found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role".
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This reminds me of something I a comment I left on a Christian blog, to a user who deplored "soulless and bloodless rationalists": If by "bloodless", you mean "devoid of emotion", if you imagine we rationalists are incapable of such feelings as love, then it is you who are lacking in empathy.
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Bob the Angry Flower has a take on the ontological argument I'd never considered before. Bacon Lovers, Rejoice!
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2010 on Ontology of the Devil at two or three . net
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Also, if you actually regard Gandhi as an incomparable genius and your intellectual superior, then why don't you become a Hindu?
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2010 on Former Atheists: A. N. Wilson at two or three . net
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And why stop at Ghandi, Bach and Beethoven? ... Newton, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, it's endless. Do atheists actually regard these incomparable geniuses as their intellectual inferiors? Argument from the authority of playwrights and artists? Isaac Newton was also one of the last alchemists, and sought to produce the philosopher's stone (a material that could transform lead into gold). He also looked for a Bible Code, and thought himself chosen by God for the task of understanding Biblical scripture. Newton was wrong about many things. A modern high school student is more knowledgeable than Isaac Newton about the universe, thanks in part to the work of Newton centuries ago. Michaelangelo is certainly a greater sculptor than I. But why should I regard him as a great intellectual? Can you name one of Michelangelo's great ideas? Bach's? Beethoven's? Shakespeare wrote great plays and poems, but what would make him an authority on metaphysics?
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2010 on Former Atheists: A. N. Wilson at two or three . net
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Minor correction, Christians don't really have a doctrine about masturbation. Ha! Seriously? Have you never met a Roman Catholic? "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." -- St. Clement of Alexandria, "The Instructor of Children", 191 CE "... masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act...the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes 'the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.' All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship." -- Pope Paul VI, "Persona Humana", 1975 CE Pope John Paul II reaffirmed this Church doctrine in 1993 CE. To hammer the point home, I could post quotes from Orthodox Christians and other denominations on this topic, not to mention various other early theologians. Suffice to say, many Christians do, indeed, have a doctrine on masturbation. Out of context, and ignoring the many passages showing God's mercy, one might conclude that. How come no one talks about all the people Hitler didn't kill? No matter how nice he may have been to people who weren't his victims, it cannot excuse attempting global genocide. Ignoring the wickedness of men burning their children to pagan Gods could be seen as a failure of justice on God's part as well if you want to see it that way. So instead Moses murdered those children with swords for his god. That's ~so~ much less wicked. If I was a Christian, I would recognize such commands as contrary to NT Christianity. So, you'd say "No, God, I won't do that, because that's against the New Testament"? Wasn't it contrary to OT Christianity too, like the Ten Commandments? Yet God ordered it. Should Moses have said, "No, God, your command is against those slabs you made me?" My reaction is God did do that with Israel, and God is still just, and wicked nations bring judgment on themselves. So, if I understand you correctly: Your reaction is that commanding people to kill infants is moral, when those infants are born in a wicked nation. My reaction is that commanding people to kill infants is immoral. You're making excuses for wickedness, danielg.
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Questions about biblical doctrines don't depend on fundamentalist Christians, they depend on the Bible. Such criticisms come both from outside and in. Within Christendom, more fundamentalist Christians have derided those who ignore the Bible's rules about premarital sex or masturbation or divorce or homosexuality or whatever else as "cafeteria Christians". You can believe whatever version of God you like, but if you identify what you worship as the God of the Bible, then it's fair to respond by questioning the character of the Bible's versions of God. Stories about Noah and the flood, or Sodom and Gomorrah, or the Passover, or God's many other biblical atrocities, portray a malevolent, genocidal God.* Or to ask: If God commanded you, "Now go and attack New Orleans, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey", would you go kill men, women, and babies for God?** * If you regard God's atrocities in Bible as metaphorical and not literally true, are the stories of Jesus and his resurrection metaphorical too? How do you choose which parts are metaphorical and which are literal? Is your personal salvation metaphorical or literal? ** If your reaction is "God wouldn't do that", see 1 Samuel 15:2-3.
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Loud and public piety is the domain of the hypocrite and the shallow. Jesus says as much in the Sermon on the Mount, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6 NIV)
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OK, I'll give it a shot. "Yet I would contend that Obama and the liberals are abusing power in a more egregious fashion and with less warrant." The best possible light I can think to put on that would be: The Obama administration is defending warrantless wiretapping and immunity for the telecomms that implemented it, both of which Obama voted for, and the speaker may presume Obama is engaging in the acts of illegal surveillance he is defending. Despite making a show of closing Guantánamo, the speaker blames Obama for operating other torture gulags, ex. Bagram. The speaker might presume people who voted Republican to support police state tactics, and that people who voted Democrat would regard Obama's continued support of Bush's abuses as a betrayal. Therefore, in replicating Bush's abuses, the speaker deems Obama "more egregious", "with less warrant" (or mandate), and more hypocritical. It's worse when Obama acts like Bush while pretending to restore the honor of the White House. However, my best possible light doesn't sound to me like something you would have meant.
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So, not only are you comparing cap-and-trade to wiretapping reporters and torture gulags, you're contending the cap-and-trade is worse because it's "more egregious" and "with less warrant"? That's insane, danielg.
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So necessity is the plea for infringements of human freedom like warrantless wiretaps, suspending habeas corpus, extraterritorial torture gulags, and... economic incentives for reducing pollution. One of these things is not like the others.
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Louis probably intended to be more pejorative than it sounded. You and your ilk in the reality-based community, you.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2010 on Hitchens argument is not great at two or three . net
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"Every day" is also a gross exaggeration by Tavis; domestic terrorism is not an everyday occurrence in the US. I am aware of terrorist attacks on American mosques, but not ones where the perpetrators have been identified as specifically Christian. Most recently, on May 10, an unknown middle-aged white man went to the Jacksonville Islamic Center in Florida while about 60 people were there for evening prayers, carrying a can of gasoline and a pipe bomb, which he planted on the outside of the building and detonated. Parts of the explosive were found 100 feet away on Route 9A. Fortunately, no one was injured. The next day, the Council of American Islamic Relations offered a reward for information leading to the terrorist's arrest. To their credit, among other groups, New Covenant Ministries, a church across the street from the mosque, has contributed $5,000 more to the reward, which is now at least $20,000. The September 26, 2008 terrorist attack on an Ohio mosque got more press. A gas was sprayed in the window of the day care room of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. In the room were the babies and children of the parents who were engaged in prayers. Terrified mothers ran to collect their babies and flee the gas as it burned their eyes, throats, and lungs.
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If our senses and our mind were designed with the purpose of properly receiving and interpreting data, we could trust them much more than we could if we arrived at our present state by a blind, random, purposeless process. Yet our senses and our mind do not always properly receive and interpret data. This flawed "design" (assumed without evidence), is clearly not entirely trustworthy. On the other hand, it makes sense that blind, undirected natural selection favored our rational minds, flawed as they are. While mutations may be random, they get filtered through the sieve of natural selection. Natural selection is not random.
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It's not about how you are I define anything. It's about the issue or being being discussed. When you speak of "being which nothing greater can be conceived" it is different than simply speaking of a perfect island or perfect butler. Anslem argued that the being which you conceive would not be the greatest unless it existed because existence is greater than non-existence. No, it's no different. I can swap "perfection" for "greatest conceivable" too: The Perfect Butler is the butler greater than which no butler can be conceived. Whatever special pleading Anselm uses for his figment, can be applied to any other figment. (And by the way, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been defined as the Being Greater Than Which Nothing Can Be Conceived.) Again, that's as much time as I want to spend on the argument because I don't use it. At best, it's too philosophical, complex and prone to misunderstanding. Nor should you use or defend it, because the ontological argument is stupid. You should know we'll easily tear it to pieces.
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Since your arrogance and bad manners are at least as bad as the religionists you deplore, I see no reason to engage you. That's one way to back out of a losing argument, I suppose. Nowhere in this thread have I "deplored" religionists the way you have deplored "soulless and bloodless rationalists", Louis. If you wish people to treat you with courtesy, perhaps you should first work on your own.
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Define reality. Since I've entertained philosophical wankery this far, I suppose I might as well go all the way. A college student once asked Philip K. Dick for a one-sentence definition of reality. Philip told her, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." There is a real world, an objective reality, that none of us perceive directly. Our experience of it is filtered by our five senses, we only get sense impressions which our brain interprets as best it can. For example, when I see the beige footstool in my living room, I don't actually perceive the footstool directly. Light bounces off of it to reach my retina, my retina transmits the pattern of light to my brain, and my brain analyzes the pattern and constructs a model of the footstool. My brain interprets the sensory input and constructs an internal virtual world to model what reality is like. Sometimes this process can go wrong. Our senses can be fooled, and our brains can misinterpret the sensory data. When I mistook that footstool for my sister's dog, for a moment, my subjective virtual world did not correspond to objective reality. Reality is the real world outside your mind, as it actually is, independent of the virtual worlds we construct in our minds. Postmodernists reject the idea of an objective reality. They argue that reality is a social construct, that everyone has constructs a reality in their minds and they're all equally valid. It's a vapid, ridiculous idea. Irrationalist: Just cause you reject the idea of telekinesis doesn't mean it's not real. Telekinesis is real to me. I could levitate right off this balcony if I wanted to. Rationalist: Show me. Irrationalist: All right, I will! *crash* Rationalist: Your arm looks broken. Shall I call a doctor? Irrationalist: No! Bring me my healing crystal! Rationalist: But... Irrationalist: It's real to me! Why should I just accept your assertion that rational tools (like Cin enumerated) are the only means of discerning and having a relationship with reality? As I argued above, you shouldn't "just accept" anything. Don't take anything on faith. Put it to the test. Reason gets results. Reason is effective. Reason works. (If it didn't have any advantage, we shouldn't have evolved our capacity for it.) Indeed, I do think you rationalists are bloodless: not literally, as you would assume, but poetically, metaphorically. There are other ways to investigate reality which don't conform to rationalist or religionist norms: love is one If by "bloodless", you mean "devoid of emotion", if you imagine we rationalists are incapable of such feelings as love, then it is you who are lacking in empathy. (I can "know" my beloved much better through love than by hooking him up to machines and measuring his physiological responses or dissecting him, or than by praying for God's will in the matter) If you don't rely on any evidence and just love him from afar, passively admiring him and fantasizing about his wonderfulness, you'll never really know him at all, because love does not in any way investigate reality. You get to know your beloved by empirical evidence, by observing his behavior, his words, his body language, and certain physiological reactions of his too (if you know what I mean, and I think you do). (And if you dissect him, you might learn about human physiology, but there's not going to be a "him" left to get to know.)
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Typical answer of the soulless and bloodless rationalist, ignoring an entire universe of experience and thinking it can be "measured" and quantified down to "physioloical reactions or oxytocin levels." Pathetic. I deny your charge of bloodlessness, as I cannot ignore my direct experiences of my own blood. How curious that you describe "measuring" and "quantifying" evidence of something as "ignoring" it. I can't do both at once. Love isn't magic. It's not some vaguely magical newagey "energy", but a rather commonplace emotion, hence a product of brain chemistry like any other emotion. And it's bloody marvelous. [Cineaste:] Love is also not a way of knowing or investigating reality. Another bloodless reaction from the rationalist camp. Please provide evidence for your assertion. An illustration: A woman is told that her husband was seen in town, when he had told her he was on a business trip. "You must be mistaken," she insists, "I know in my heart he wouldn't lie to me." Her friend tells her that her husband was seen in a hotel with another woman. "Oh no," she insists, "I know in my heart he would never cheat on me." Her friend had the foresight to grab the credit card carbon from the trash after her husband checked out. "That must be someone else with the same name," she insists, "I know in my heart he is faithful to me." Love is not a way of knowing or of investigating reality. Following the evidence is a more reliable way of getting correct answers than 'following your heart'.
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Agreed, Tavis is making no sense. Tavis could have made a point if instead of "post offices and schools", he'd said "abortion clinics and mosques". But then he goes on to cite Columbine? Seriously?
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People can gather followers who believe them to be a messiah. That's not the issue. Indeed it isn't, how fast legends grow is. Pay attention. There is a man in India (if a man he can be said to be ;-) named Sathya Sai Baba, who claims to be a divine reincarnation of a saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi. Followers report that he has performed many miracles, such as healings, levitation, weather control, materializing rings and necklaces, appearing in two places at once, changing water into other drinks or gasoline, changing granite into rock candy, appearing in visions, and emitting brilliant light. Not to mention his miraculous conception. He has at least 6 million followers (though his devotees claim many more). I shouldn't be at all surprised if, when he eventually does die, believers report him making postmortem visitations, and his legend lives on. There's an infinity between any two points in space you can name. Those are not actual infinities. Those are probable infinities. Sure you could take any distance and perpetually divide it into halves, but that is not the type of infinite I am speaking of. You're saying there are probably, but not actually, an infinite number of points between two points? You probably didn't think that through. Think of a hotel with an infinite number of rooms with an infinite number of guests. If one more person came, would they have room? Of course, there is an infinite number of rooms. Hilbert's Hotel is a model used to demonstrate various counterintuitive (but true) properties of infinite sets. A hotel with an infinite number of rooms is absurd, but that doesn't mean infinite sets are absurd. You could look at time like Hilbert's Hotel. Instead of rooms, take an infinity of seconds, extending from time 0 on into an infinite future. Would there be room to insert one second into that timeline? Sure, just bump every second forward by one, and stick that second in at time 0. Just like adding one guest to Hilbert's Hotel. If the universe has had an infinite regress of events as part of the past, then it would have been impossible to arrive at this present moment. If the universe has had an infinite regress of events as part of its past, then it would have been impossible not to arrive at this present moment.
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I do think reason is a better avenue for assessing reality, but it is not the last word as Robin has stated. For instance, can you rationally prove why you love someone? I don't recall making such a statement, but I'd agree with it: out of all the ways we have to assess reality, reason is the best in that class. If you think it is not, then what's better? (However, if you did have something better, you'd still have to use reason to demonstrate its superiority!) I'm not sure what your incoherent question "can you rationally prove why you love someone?" means. If you mean "can you rationally prove that you love someone?", sure, one could back up such a proposition with various lines of evidence, such as your behavior, your physiological reactions, or oxytocin levels in your brain. We could even see love on an MRI. Rationalism has its limits too. Analyzing emotions isn't one of them.
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Karma's a superior soteriology to penal substitution, which is morally bankrupt. Not sure what you're getting at about karma having little ability to transform society. We could fault it for being a doctrine to make quiescent slaves, though Jesus is just as culpable with his parable of the good slave. What's more, God's explicit endorsement of slavery and instruction in the art of enslavement in the Old Testament was a recipe to transform society for the much worse.
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"tracks closely"? You exaggerate. 1, 2, and 8 aren't parallel, 4 is a stretch, and you ignore "homosexuals" to make 9 line up.
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