Saturday, January 19, 2008
I want born-again Christians to see that I have not backslidden; that is, I have not gone backwards or fallen away from a higher plane where I once lived, but I continued to develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually so that I outgrew the faith of my youth. I did not fall into sin; I did not get mad at God; I did not become jaded because I witnessed hypocrisy. Nothing bad happened to me to instigate this journey. Yet I now have more peace and joy than I ever had as a Christian, and I give more of my time and money to charitable causes. The day I realized I no longer believed that God exists, a huge weight fell off my shoulders and I felt like I was set free from a lifetime of bondage.
If President Ryan actually believes what this code implies -- that students should be taught that all political ideologies, creeds and “lifestyle orientations” are equal, and demand equal respect – then his “vision” of higher education is stupefying. Students are supposed to be taught that all ideas are not equal; they’re supposed to learn how to judge the merits of different and conflicting ideas and how to back up their judgments with reason. Mindless respect for all points of view is not an element of critical thinking.
Conservative writer bashes Mass Effect for being "filth"
Even in the face of criticism, McCullough has remained firm in his argument. To say that McCullough is a little off the mark would be polite. His descriptions of his 15-year-old son playing such vile filth first and foremost neglects the fact that the game is clearly rated M for Mature: a rating which dictates that the game is for players over the age of 17.
Rock Band sells 2.5 million songs online
Is wrapping a game around songs the secret to increasing interest in purchasing music? It could be. The wide demographic reach of Rock Band may be giving existing music a new audience: younger gamers are finding they like Molly Hatchet, and older gamers may find that Queens of the Stone Age are worth a second listen.
John Adams on the Unalienable Right to Commit Blasphemy
Adams is quite clear that the unalienable right to liberty of conscience means the right to blaspheme or in particular to doubt the truth of the divine inspiration of the Bible, which Adams himself personally did. When Adams stated the Christian religion “has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which, I think, will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated,” an evangelical Protestant might hope he were referring only to Roman Catholicism. But this is wrong. Adams, himself a lifelong, committed theological unitarian believed the entire institution of orthodox Trinitarian Christianity was corrupted. And those “corruptions of Christianity” were defined by Adams’ and Jefferson’s spiritual mentor, Joseph Priestley, as the Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, and plenary inspiration of scripture. The Bible itself was “corrupted” and Adams believed man had an unalienable right to use his reason to edit what he saw as “error” from the Bible exactly as Jefferson did.
profiles in humanism: clarence darrow
Rather, I bring this up, because Clarence Darrow should remind us (at least he reminds me) that we are all human beings with the same frailties as everyone else. We have strengths, yes, but many more weaknesses. Therefore, we should judge each human being and their life on its own merits rather than through the narrow prism of our own often limited and sometimes privileged experience. Otherwise we run the grave risk of grinding up the lives of undeserving people in the cruel machinations of own ignorance for the selfish comfort of sleeping a little more soundly at night.
Mob rule of the terrorist kind
There was another incident in the same area some months ago when a group of ten youths on bikes attacked a retired Brigadier (S C Sharma) in Navi Mumbai just because they were “angered at being ticked off by the victim’s wife for speeding’. Incidentally, after these bikers were arrested, hundreds of villagers gathered in support of the youths! I do know what has happened to the case now, but why should hundreds of people support those who assault a senior citizen? It’s scary!
Worse, they discover that they are the reincarnations of some sort of Korean spirit or whatever, and that the dragons are after them, and a whole bunch of other mystical mumbo jumbo, and never ONCE do they question it! If Robert Forster sat down next to me and told me that I had to meet a girl named Sarah and keep her from the evil Baraki and Yoo Gi Ho so that she could become the Good Moogi before she turned 20, I’d punch him right in the fucking face. Mainly for being in Rise: Blood Hunter, but also because what he just told me made no sense whatsoever. But yet, everyone buys it, no questions asked. Even Roswell guy’s friend, who is played by Darryl from The Office; the character you would expect to be like “you’re crazy!” is totally fine with all this nonsense. In fact, he’s more incredulous to Roswell’s request to simply find the girl than he is to all the stuff involving dragons and the like. Also, his character disappears from the film TWICE and no one seems to care either time.
Exterminator, we have a pest problem
The Sparrow is about a Jesuit who goes on a journey to Alpha Centauri with some friends after music is broadcast from the area, and comes back, alone, broken physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and any other way a person can be broken. I was really disappointed by this book, because it was a great idea with a great lead ("They meant no harm").
Huckabee: Amend Constitution to be in 'God's standards'
"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."
The layers of politics
The double standards are for all to see. A tearing-up man is sensitive; a tearing-up woman is playing for sympathy or is evidently too weak for office. A man with rhetoric is a leader, a visionary; a woman with vision and steely determination is a bitch. A man, who had no control over who sired him, and therefore his race, is somehow superior to a woman, who had no control over the same factors. How long, I wonder, before someone defocuses from the Mormon-Evangelical-Catholic divide and notices that Barack’s middle name is Hussein?
FSTDT Top 100
Technology and science are often lumped together, but are totally separate and unrelated things.
Technology makes peoples lives easier. Technology is the product of inventive geniuses who were inspired by God. Inventions and innovations improve life.
Science causes confustion and makes things complicated. Everytime there is a new discovery the old discoveries and old wisdom are discarded! And theories get more and more complex. Science makes people confused and complicates things. Who is the author of confusion? Satan of course. The bible it the opposite of science. Biblical wisdom NEVER CHANGES, and anyone can get it. Scientific wisdom is always changing and contradicting itself, and really nobody gets it.
Please don't insult our intelligence by lumping science and technology together. They are as different at night and day.
How to Read the Bible Like a Fundie
Take the subject of morality. Fundamentalists like to claim that morality is impossible without the words of the bible to guide us. Before god showed up on the mountain and told Moses all about it nobody knew that lying, cheating, stealing and killing people were wrong. And if it wasn't written down in the pages of the Pentateuch we'd be a loss to know how to act today. Yet, they themselves do not follow all of the intense moral code found within the pages of holy scripture. In the book of Numbers the people of god are told to put to death a man who was accused of gathering firewood on the Sabbath. I did the same thing this fall, on both a Saturday and a Sunday, and not a single fundie was screaming for my execution.
My Religion Involves Screaming Gibberish
The point is that my freedom to practice my religion is not absolute. In fact, there are many limitations on what I will be able to do in the name of my religion. Christians, you are no different. When an atheist questions your intrusive proselytizing, gay bashing, or your insistence in training your children to preach biblical nonsense at me in the store because you think its cute, you do not get to cry persecution. This is not persecution. Your religious freedom has limits. Instead of whining about Christmas wars because you overheard me complain about not wanting to listen to your Jesus-crap when I'm shopping, you should ask yourself what you would do if you had to listen to Satanic death metal every time you went to the grocery store.
Is Religion More Than an Enabler?
For instance, it seems some religious people in the States, who are otherwise fair minded and decent, oppose gay rights and are unwilling to treat gays fairly precisely for religious reasons. If that’s the case, then religion appears to be more than a mere facilitator, more than a mere enabler — it seems to actually change people’s practical morals from fair minded and decent behavior to behavior that is neither fair minded nor decent.
The Point of Religion?
Humans evolved as a social animal living in small groups. Most of us need little prompting to treat the members of our group with respect, compassion, kindness — even love. After all, we evolved to do that. It’s to a large extent instinctual. We’re almost always ready to “better mankind” so long as “mankind” is the group of people we hang out with.
On the other hand, there are very few Gandhis, very few Martin Luther Kings, very few people like Jesus — very few people who somehow realize in practice the notion the whole world should be treated with kindness, compassion, respect, and love. To most of us, such a notion is “wild”, suspect, perhaps even immoral.
Quazy Quistian Question # 4
Anyway, you've read the result. Now I'm beginning to think that some Christians disdain all evidence about everything, not only religious matters. This might be a clever ploy, because if they admit that they accept evidence for anything, they'd have to at least wonder why there's none to support their silly beliefs. On the other hand, it might not be a clever ploy; it might just be stupidity.
Are converts accepted in Hinduism?
In other words, those who are not born Hindus would (by being re-born) eventually become Hindus (provided they live right.) A cool idea for any religion, as it presumes that a Hindu (caste also comes into this as being just a Hindu isn’t enough) is at the top of re-incarnation heap. If one went by this, everyone is already on their way to become a Hindu, even those from outside the belief system…they just haven’t got there yet. And those who haven’t got there yet aren’t Hindus…they aren’t ready to be Hindus.
Progressive Christians Finally Opposing Christian Extremists
He's right that a non-Christian group opposing Christian extremism will be demonized as a persecutor. We atheists know all about that! Personally, I would welcome a well-organized and vocal coalition of progressive Christians willing to oppose extremism. They could be powerful allies in protecting church-state separation and other shared goals.
FDA says food from cloned animals safe
“Both the animals and any food produced from those animals is indistinguishable from any other food source,” Sundloff said. “There’s no technological way of distinguishing a food that’s come from an animal that had a clone in its ancestry. It’s not possible.”
Green light for hybrid research
Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.
The Mind-Brain Problem - A Creationist Rebuttal
The biggest problem with dualism is that the materialist neuroscience model explains all observed phenomena - there is nothing left for the dualists to explain. They are clinging to the notion of “qualia”, that subjectivity itself needs a separate explanation, but they have not made this case. Often they use mere semantics to make it seem as if something more is needed, but there isn’t. Further, the dualist hypothesis does not generate any hypotheses or predictions that distinguish it from the materialist hypothesis. Every prediction points to materialism as the answer.
Is information essential for life? No.
As for Turing machines - there's what I would call a simple test (the Turing machine test): If you can use the system to compute, then it's a computer. Since computability is well-defined as what can be done on some Turing machine, this makes concrete any claim that "Nature" is or uses a computer. To avoid Matrix style speculations, which are themselves only Pythagoras revivified, let's say that a physical system is an IPS in the Turing sense if it can be used to compute something. Hence, a human-abacus system is an IPS (and indeed, human-most thing systems can be, potentially, because of the ways humans can act as Turing machines), while a set of beads on strings in a frame on its own is not. My Mac is an IPS to a high degree of approximation, ignoring the possibility of power or component failure, which doesn't happen to pure Turing machines. It's damned good at computation, and if I set up the right programs, it can compute without my intervention.
As skeptics, we encounter dissonance reduction on a regular basis. Why do ‘true believers’ refuse to listen to reason, even when the facts are piled in front of them? Because they are invested in their ideas so strongly that they will do anything to continue to justify them. Geology shows that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, not 6000? The young-Earth creationist contends that geology is wrong. Rupert Sheldrake and Dean Radin (remember them?) get asked difficult questions by skeptics? They turn around and criticize skepticism itself. The list goes on and on.