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Showing posts from January, 2012

The Rapture: directed by Roland Emmerich

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A friend from my church days posted this on Facebook. Apparently this gets some people really emotionally worked up. I thought it was hilarious.

Probably not the best time to proselytize...

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Apologetics 101

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The First Cause Argument:
Everything has to come from somethingThe universe is a thingErgo, the universe had to come from something. Like God.p.s. - God doesn't have to come from anything The Design Argument:
The universe was designed to support lifeHow do we know? Because we're alive!Ergo, God designed the universe The Morality Argument
I think some things are just wrong, regardless of what anyone else thinksThat proves there is a transcendent source of moral valuesErgo, God gave us morals The Ontological Argument
God, by definition, has to existErgo, God exists The Argument from Reason
If God didn't exist, there wouldn't be any reason for me to believe I am reasoning about thisI'm reasoning about thisErgo, God exists The Teleological Argument
Things that exist now are more complex than things that used to existThis proves that the universe was designed to eventually produce these thingsErgo, God exists
That should get you started. If any of these don't make sense…

Adam and Eve, and the bullshit train

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I meant to comment on this the other week, but I've been busy. Over at Huffington Post, Biblical scholar and evangelical Christian Pete Enns has an op ed about the non-existence of Adam and Eve, and why this should not be a problem for Christians. First, I do have to give him credit for at least acknowledging the fact that Adam and Eve did not exist, which is more than can be said for the majority of Protestant pastors:
Evolution is a threat, and many evangelicals are fighting to keep Adam in the family photo album. But in their rush to save Christianity, some evangelicals have been guilty of all sorts of strained, idiosyncratic or obscurantist tactics: massaging or distorting the data, manipulating the legal system, scaring their constituencies and strong-arming those of their own camp who raise questions. Right, so the non-existence of Adam and Eve poses some serious problems for Christians, and they haven't handled it very gracefully. So, what's the solution? Re-i…

Heard on Facebook

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"I believe in morality, which is doing what is right regardless of what I am told... not in religion, which is doing what I'm told regardless of what is right."

Paula Deen has diabetes

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Huffpo has a link on Facebook showing Paula Deen stuffing her face with a cheeseburger. This probably wouldn't be a big deal, save for the fact she was recently diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. She complained about the lack of support, but swiftly secured an endorsement for Viktoza (a diabetes drug).

Type-2 diabetes is not cancer. Or, more aptly, it's not Type-1 diabetes. Type-1 is childhood-onset, and it's genetic. There's nothing you can do about it. Type-2, on the other hand, is a preventable disease brought on by lifestyle choices. Paula Deen cooks crap, eats crap, and she's fat. Here's a radical idea: eat healthy food and exercise regularly, and you won't be fat and you won't get Type-2 diabetes.

So pardon me if I don't roll out the sympathy parade for some who lives an unhealthy lifestyle and promotes unhealthy eating – even to kids. You reap what you sow. 


My religious philosophy in a nutshell

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Report: The vast majority of Protestant pastors are creationists

(via Crocoduck.com)

Nothing like starting a day with a facepalm: A survey of 1000 Protestant pastors conducted by Lifeway Christian Resources found that an overwhelming majority of them are evolution-denying creationists and believe that Adam and Eve were real people. Writing for Crocoduck, Josh Engen echos my thoughts to a tee:
I think most of us can agree that LifeWay’s survey is painting a pretty terrifying picture here. In most of the world, pastors have a far more influential voice than scientists, teachers or politicians, and we’ve been stuck with a group of leaders who insist on speaking authoritatively about a subject that they know nothing about. Precisely. I've talked a bit about the problems that Adam & Eve's non-existence poses for Christian theology [more], and as I've said, Christians take one of two ways out of it: they either choose to reject science, or they make shit up to plug the gaping holes in their theology. It appears that while the well-ed…

Steve Novella takes on Chinese medicine

I'm a big fan of Steve Novella, and his recent blog ripping apart the stupidity of Chinese medicine is a prime example. It's a must-read.

This isn't a small deal. Being a personal trainer, I hear a lot about various aches and pains and the lengths people will go to fix them. Every time a client says, "I have an appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow!" I have to bite my tongue. Being in a professional environment I have to voice my opinions judiciously, and I generally don't tell people what I really think about chiropractic (like, it's a fucking pseudoscience and a total rip-off) unless my opinion is solicited directly. It's not just chiropractic, of course; I hear a lot about "detox" diets, acupuncture, Mona Vie, miracle foods and all other manner of pseudoscience and outright bullshit.

People are gullible, and it's easy for those well-versed in the language of woo to sound credible through the use of sophisticated-sounding language.…

Movies that I'm supposed to hate, but don't

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I saw Underworld: Awakening this weekend with a few friends. We all liked it. One of my friends is the same one with whom I saw the first movie in 2003, and we both liked that. Critics, on the other hand, have always dismissed them. My dad saw Red Tails, which is getting mostly negative reviews, probably because people love to hate George Lucas. But my dad apparently enjoyed it quite a bit.

I also really liked The Immortals a few months ago, which has gotten ho-hum reviews. It was directed by Tarsem Singh, the same guy who directed The Cell. The Cell also got ho-hum reviews, and I freaking love that movie.

Anyway, I was reading the box office report and audiences apparently really like the new Underworld movie based on CinemaScore, which I had never heard of. According to Wikipedia, it's a research firm that has audiences score movies on an A-F scale, and it's exceedingly rare for a film to get an F. One of the few to be totally hated by audiences? The Box, starring Cameron Di…

The 10 Commandments: the basis of our laws and morals

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NonStampCollector does it again:

It's really tempting...

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Spied on Facebook...

You have no idea how tempted I am to reply to stuff like this. Just smart ass crap like, "Or, do other stuff." Then I tell myself to pick my battles.

I'm also amused by the dichotomy of a praise-the-lord post being immediately preceded by a post by a flagrantly blasphemous metal band.

A new kind of Euthyphro

Does God have reasons that rationally justify his moral commands, or are they arbitrary and simply to be obeyed?

This is why I think this is worth thinking about: I've heard a lot of theologians say that we are to obey God's commands – that the mandate for obedience intrinsically follows. Why? What's in it for us? God says, love thy neighbor. Did God just pull that out of his holy rear? Or are there good, logical reasons why I ought to love my neighbor?

Here's the trick: if there are rational reasons why I should be kind to others instead of cruel, then I don't need to resort to obedience as a reason to do them, and God is irrelevant. But if commands are simply to be obeyed, then we've rendered rationality irrelevant.

Discuss.

Obama on secularism

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A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page, and I think it's a great quote. But in my view, it doesn't only apply to the legal side of things. Any discussion of morality must ultimately be explained in humanistic terms. The de facto theistic retort, which boils down to, "it's wrong because my interpretation of my holy book says it is," doesn't get us very far.


The (bogus) historicity of the Old Testament

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[Note: This is sort of a preview of the work-in-progress that is my book (with edits to make it more blog-friendly), taken from the second chapter: "Why I Am Not a Christian"]
The Old Testament is full of some extremely barbaric stuff – ritual human sacrifices, slavery, rape, genocide, stonings – and most of it is commanded by the Hebrew god. But if there's a saving grace to the stomach-churning cruelty, it's that it probably never happened. The Old Testament is almost entirely fictional. But shouldn't this be problematic? Isn't the Bible supposed to be the Word of God? How do Christians (and Jews, for that matter) reconcile this? How do they amend their theology to account for the fact that this is all just made up? Let's look at some of the more significant historical claims in the Old Testament, and how we know they are false:

Happy birthday, Ken Pulliam

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Today would have been Ken Pulliam's 52nd birthday. I didn't know him personally (though I certainly wish I could have picked his brain over a glass of Scotch), but I read his blog regularly, and respected him greatly. I took it as a tremendous compliment that he followed this blog, and his picture in my "followers" list acts as a reminder of a great mind lost far too soon. I wish his family well on what's surely a rough day for them, and I strongly encourage my readers to check out his outstanding blog:


Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity


A really simple way to unhinge God from morality

Yeah, you know that old canard: without God in the picture, there's no reason to consider anything right or wrong, to treat anyone kindly instead of cruelly.

So, try this. Think of someone you love. Your wife, husband, gf/bf, best friend, mother or father, black cat, etc. Imagine there were no rules. No commandments or laws. What's stopping you from gutting that person and bathing in their entrails? Remember, it's not illegal and there's no commandment not to do it. So why not go for a nice warm intestine bath? Next time someone shows you their brand new baby, why not just take the baby and toss it in the street? And don't let your friend's dog drool all over you – just stab it a few dozen times! Can you think of one single reason, just one, why you might not think it's a good idea to do any of these things?

I'd wage that any reasonable person can think of several. First of all, we have an innate sense of empathy toward others most of the time that acts…

Hitler blaming

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Larry Moran over at Sandwalk has a post up where he's talking about Christians' attempts to link Hitler with Darwinism and atheism. It's a pretty desperate ploy for anyone who knows anything about history.

I'm pretty sure Hitler didn't invent the idea of being a would-be world-conquering tyrant. Let's not forget all the Christian imperialists who conquered the land most of us are now sitting on, slaughtering and enslaving much of the native population. The Spanish Christians even implemented Encomienda, which was the systematic regulation of Native American labor through slavery, brutality, and forced conversion. Or shall we go back to the Saxon wars, where the pagans of Northern Europe were conquered and forced by the sword to convert to Christianity? Ever wonder why Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are on dates that originally coincided with pagan holidays? Some might argue, per our war in Iraq, that Christian imperialism is alive and kicking – I …

Steve Novella on the supernatural

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This talk is branded as a talk about consciousness, and it is that to an extent – he talks a bit about dualism and the implications of neurology. But it's really just a good general talk about what constitutes good science and why appeals to supernatural explanations are simply worthless.



I especially like the line at the end, in reference to the Discovery Institute's claim that science should change to accommodate supernatural hypotheses; Novella points out that we don't dismiss supernatural hypotheses because we have some bias against them, but because they are untestable and unfalsifiable: "They want to change the rules because under the rules that work, they lose."

Where did the good blogs go?

I have a pretty decent list of blogs bookmarked. I don't read them every day (most of them aren't updated every day anyway), but I at least visit them every few days or so and check on the content. It's a mix of skeptic blogs, atheist blogs, science blogs, and yes... a few Jesus blogs.

But I don't really read any of the blogs that got me into the atheist blogosphere. I don't even remember the last time I visited Pharyngula. PZ's thickheadedness in the "define atheist" and elevatorgate incidents really turned me off from the guy. Jen over at Blag Hag is starting to sound no different than the blame-the-patriarchy feminists she used to incisively critique. Luke at Common Sense Atheismdoesn't even really blog anymore, and the stuff he does now for Less Wrong is so bloated and needlessly esoteric that it's hardly worth the trouble. John Loftus seems more interested in self-promotion than in dialogue over at Debunking Christianity. And Unreasonable…

A defense of evidentialism

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The YouTube user "Evid3nc3", who's done a thoroughly outstanding series of videos on his deconversion from Christianity to atheism, has a new video up today in which he defends his epistemological stance of evidentialism against common misconceptions. Being that I'm an evidentialist as well, I can only say... I concur.

Seriously this time

I'm working on a book. Yeah, I hear you saying, like we haven't heard that before. Everyone knows that when you say you're "working on a book" you're actually spending all your free time playing Skyrim.

That's partially true. Okay, maybe even mostly true. But here's the thing about me and books: I'm not deluded enough to think that a whole lot of people are going to care about what I have to say on things like morality, cosmology, evolution, or theology. I work as a personal trainer for a living, and spend most of my spare time failing at shred guitar. I'm not some Harvard or Oxford academic, and while that doesn't sound like the most exciting line of work, it usually is enough to convince people that the book you're writing might be worth a gander.

So instead of focusing on a single subject as I've been inclined to do in the past, I'm going to basically tell my story. I'll be starting by detailing my life as a Christian, …

Stephen Pinker on "The Better Angels of Our Nature"

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I'll continue to blog my thoughts on this new book. In the meantime, here's a great interview that gives a good overview of the synopsis and answers some common questions.




h/t: Harry

Update: Another.