Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another chink in the free will armor

Brain runs programs without us applying conscious effort to them. Clearly these are rather fated processes. Why aren't the other processes fated, then?

Monday, March 30, 2009

If I ran the atheist bus campaign

I'd run this copy

Because real estate deals with flammable shrubbery aren't justification for segregation and apartheid.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

People united for chaos and violence

The citizens of Oakland now officially deserve their fate. They don't seem to understand which people are trying to help them, and who's really hurting their community.

Let's just be clear: When a black dude with a police record kills four cops in your city, this does not promote tourism. And if you want OAK to prosper, you may want the people who have a choice about where to go to spend their money to consider doing some business in Oakland, instead of just driving through on their way to the airport or A's game.

Let's also be clear: If a guy shoots and kills four cops, and the cops shoot him dead, the cops did not commit "genocide".

I hope that someone on the black community over there stands up and says the right thing. It sets us all back when it seems that folks are opposed to law, order and civility. No one's going to care to help a community that seems to celebrate people leading them further down the path to destruction.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The power of prayer

Do you believe in an interventionist god? One who actually meddles in our universe, bending the laws of nature, like an invisible Superman? If not, then Jesus, Mohamed, Old Testament magic are all stories. Hard to have conventional religious faith without the interventionist god.

On the other hand, if you do believe in it all, and miracles, and the like, why not just pray your cancer away? If prayer can help cure your cancer, a little, why can't it go the whole way? If god can do some of it, he can do all of it, right?

Well, tragically there are some small minds out there suffering from the hobgoblin of foolish consistency: This pilot decided to pray instead of prepping the plane for crash landing. I'm amazed by his faith. But I suppose he believes in an interventionist god.

Religion: helping you die while the pilot asks his imaginary friend to take the controls.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yay VT

Wish we were doing the same here in CA, but we will, and soon.

I like Obama's idea of the states as individual test labs for government policies. If it works in a state, it could work on a national level. If a policy causes trouble in a state, it'll cause similar trouble nationally.

So it will be interesting to watch as the social fabric of the state of Vermont fails to collapse. I'd be thrilled to find an intellectually honest soul who's opposed to marriage equality on the grounds that it's harmful to society who's got the guts to predict VT will now devolve into the last days of Rome, and provide clear objective metrics for this prognosticated devolution.

I predict divorce rates (incidence per marriage) in VT will remain reasonably flat. There will be an initial spike in marriages per capita, as the pent-up demand among same sex couples is discharged, but that'll be it. Hard to say if number of marriages overall goes up, given that I think it's on decline overall as an institution. I'll say that VT's marriages per capita number should remain reasonably close to its historical ratio vs. marriages mper capita in the rest of the nation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You go, France.

Monday, March 16, 2009

End marriage

Fine with me.

"If you're in the marriage business, do it equally. And if you're not going to do it equally, get out of the business."

What happens when your laws are based on religion

You go to jail for "adultery".

Somehow, the bus ad I saw for Islam yesterday seems less appealing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guns don't kill people

They just make it a lot easier to kill a whole bunch of people in a short amount of time.

Hard to imagine someone going on a stabbing spree where innocent bystanders get stabbed and killed, and you end up with double digit deaths all at the hand of one person. Yet today we have Alabama and Germany where folks have used guns to kill many people in a short amount of time.

Would these troubled people have acted out violently without guns? Sure. Would they have taken out so many people without guns? Doubtful.

Countdown until the NRA comes out with an announcement about how we shouldn't blame guns for this starts now...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

MSNBC and Cardinal Levada are morons

A straw man is a flimsy construction of your opposition's argument, that makes it easy for you to look like your argument is better. Age old rhetorical device, most effective when your opponent's not actually there to defend yourself. It doesn't prove anything,it's just rhetoric.

So when I read this post on MSNBC, where the journalists don't read the works they're reporting on, I was annoyed.

It is not the scientific community, but fundamentalist Christians who find evolution antithetical to their religious belief. Their problem is that if evolution is true, Genesis is false, and if Geneisis is false then some of the bible is false, which means not all of the bible is true, and they believe the bible's all true. They're the ones who find science wholly incompatible with faith. Thus, their mission to get faith into science classes, and thus our mission to get faith off the planet.

No one says evolution proves God's non-existence, especially not Dawkins, and especially not in The God Delusion. Evolution does prove that Genesis is a bunch of stories. And that has consequences for the credibility of the Bible, which may lead one to believe that the whole thing is a bunch of stories. Clearly the Cardinal, and the AP and MSNBC editorial staff haven't got the time to see if the book says what they say it does.

If you want to prove the non-existence of God, just use the problem of evil. God cannot be both all powerful and good and there be evil (suffering) in the world. It shows that our concept of God is incompatible with the observable evidence. And just like in Physics, if your theory is inconsistent with observations, your theory gets shit canned. Theory of god: file along with four elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Problem of evil is hard to escape. If one tries to argue that all suffering is human-casued, then Pompeii, Katrina, south Asian Christmas Tsunamis and every tornado in Oklahoma shows there's natural evil in the world. Anthrax, Hanta virus. Does an all powerful and benevolent being put that stuff in the world? I'm sure an all powerful being could find a way to make a world without Hanta virus. If the Hanta virus is necessary, then there's ome other set of laws in the universe that this being can't get around, and all powerful goes away. Or God is a prick, which, if we read the old testament, isn't hard to believe.

Evolution isn't incompatible with God, just Genesis. The miserable state of existence, however, is wholly incompatible with God as conceived in the Christian world.