Monday, June 29, 2015

Can Someone Please Explain?

Now that the right to marry is shared equally by all under the constitution, conservatives and religious zealots are tying themselves into knots, furious that such a horrific thing should ever come to pass.

"We're heading down the slippery slope", they say.  "Polygamy will be next.  And then marriages based on incest and bestiality."  This is the end of traditional marriage.  What would the God of Abraham say about the abomination of polygamy?  Well, perhaps they shouldn't use that one as an argument for "traditional" marriage.  It seems that Christians abandoned the traditional Jewish practice of polygamy, and adopted monogamy from Roman culture (you know, the evil empire they so despised).  But they didn't abandon the tradition of slavery until more recent times.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Presidential Material - The Donald Gets Tough

Donald Trump is a tough guy, and he wants you to know it.

Trump is famous for using the phrase "You're fired!" on his television show The Apprentice.  He even tied to trademark that phrase, which created business problems for people like Susan Brenner.  But that's the nature of the business world.  The sharks gobble up the little fish.  The tough guys win.  Ultimately, the  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected his attempt.  Oh, well.  I guess he thought that would work better than his attempt to remove a little old lady from her house in Atlantic City so he could build a limo parking facility at his casino, the Taj Mahal (which eventually failed).  That attempt didn't work, either.  The little old lady won.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Maybe There Is a God

The Supreme Court has ruled that marriage equality is the rule of the land in all fifty states.  This ruling was not a big surprise, because most constitutional scholars have predicted this outcome for some time.  But theists across the country are suffering from great distress because they no longer get to impose their ridiculous beliefs about who is allowed to marry upon the rest of us.  Mike Huckabee says this is "an out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny".

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reppert Misses the Boat (Again)

When I first encountered CS Lewis' Argument from Reason, I told Victor Reppert that the assertion that rational thought can't arise from non-rational matter is unjustified.  His rationale for making this claim is that there are no mental elements (or "psychons") at the fundamental level of physical reality, and therefore there can be no physical structure that comprises a rational mind.  This argument is purely a priori.  It relies on a theistic presumption about mind, with no empirical data, and in fact no scientific knowledge of cognition whatsoever.  It is armchair philosophy at its worst - completely divorced from any empirical knowledge.  I pointed out some literature that might help him gain a better understanding of what is within the grasp of scientific inquiry, but of course he refuses to read it.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Craig on Scientism

I have sometimes been told that I am guilty of scientism.  If that's the case, then I suppose it would be worthwhile for me to find out exactly what it is that I'm guilty of.  The term 'scientism', when used by Christians (or more generally, people who adhere to a rationalist epistemology, as opposed to empiricism) is a pejorative that refers to someone (usually an atheist) who is blind to all avenues of human inquiry except for science.  It seems to imply a lack of morality, a failure to appreciate the arts, and even an inability to recognize the truth of logic.  In short, it describes someone who is devoid of humanity.

WL Craig expresses two main problems that he sees with scientism:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Subjective Morality of CS Lewis

In The Poison of Subjectivism, CS Lewis blames subjectivism for the evils of totalitarian states.  "Until modern times, no thinker of the first rank ever doubted that our judgments of value were rational judgments, or that what they discovered was objective."  That may be true, but it ignores the fact that those thinkers did not always share the same values and moral judgments.  So Lewis, ironically, states his opinion that value judgments are objective, despite the fact that there is no universal agreement as to what these supposed objective values are.  He calls the idea that men can create value by rational means a "fatal superstition", even as he bases his own values on his religious superstition.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stupid Theist Tricks: Projection

Of all the debate tactics that theists employ, none is more frustrating and infuriating to me than their habit of trying to make others appear guilty of the very things for which they themselves bear the greatest culpability.  This is similar to a tactic used to great effect by Karl Rove in running George W. Bush's presidential campaign or 2004, now known as "swiftboating".

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Skeptical of Science: "Appendix Doesn't Seem to Serve a Function"

This is a continuation of my commentary on cl's "TheWarfareIsMental" blog.  As I noted in my earlier post, despite his claim that he is respectful of science, cl seems to be distinctly skeptical of various aspects of modern science, as evidenced by the way he takes issue with the distinction between real science and pseudoscience.  As I read more of his posts in the "Science" section of his blog, I came to realize that his skepticism is due to the creationist beliefs that he holds.  If science is right about evolution theory, then that would present a major challenge to his religious and creationist beliefs, and that's the fundamental reason he finds true science difficult to accept.

In today's discussion, I'll focus on another post that is labeled as "False Argument #3", where cl castigates the authors of a high school biology textbook for including the statement, “The appendix is a vestigial organ that does not seem to serve a function in digestion today.”  That word vestigial seems to have hit a nerve for one who believes in creationism.  In support of his own ideology, he needs to tear it down, and he attempts to do so without understanding the issue.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Stupid Theist Tricks:  Piety as a Cover for Bigotry

We've talked about this before (here and here).  But there is no end to the bigotry of some Christians (particularly against gays), and no end to the creative ways they try to rationalize their bigotry and make it sound as if they are the ones who have been wronged when the rest of the world pushes back against their hateful discriminatory practices.  Let's examine some of the seriously flawed logic they employ.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stupid Theist Tricks:  Claiming Ownership of Morality

How many times have we heard theists claim that atheists can't say what is good or bad because they deny the existence of objective morality?  How many times have we heard them claim that atheists have no morality at all, or that there can be no morality without God?  Anyone who makes such claims does not understand human nature.  They deny that human behavior is truly human, and attribute it instead to God.  They think that if God didn't give us morality, we would all be savage beasts, unable to distinguish right from wrong.  Many think that atheism necessarily entails moral nihilism.  They are wrong.