Monday, August 28, 2017

God Is Great


As I watched news coverage of the extraordinary flooding in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey, I saw something that happens whenever a natural disaster occurs: people who have been rescued praise the glory of God.  This is hard for me to understand.  I get that they are  happy and grateful that they managed to survive, but if God is really making all this happen, then God just turned their lives upside-down.  Is this something they should be grateful for?  It seems to me that God wreaked havoc, and destroyed or ruined a lot of lives.  God didn't save them.  It was the dedicated efforts of brave people who did everything they could to mitigate God's disaster that saved their lives.  And it's those people who deserve the praise - not God.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Flat Earth - Belief That Numbs the Mind


Everyone has heard of the Flat Earth Society.  These are people who supposedly think the earth is actually flat, much like prevailing view in ancient times, when the earth was thought to be a flat object the the center or bottom of the world, covered by a dome-shaped firmament to which the stars were affixed.  This is the way it's described in the bible.  But that belief died out long ago, didn't it?  Well, mostly, particularly among the educated classes.  But a modern pseudo-scientific version of the flat-earth theory of has been enjoying something of a comeback, especially in the past few years.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

To Impeach, Or Not To Impeach


That is the question.  I watched Bill Maher last night and heard an interesting discussion between him and Gavin Newsom.  The question is whether it is better for Congress to remove Trump from office or let him continue for the remainder of his term.  Maher and Newsom hold different views on this, with Maher advocating removal, and Newsom arguing that we'd be better off leaving him in office.  It's an interesting question, and worth exploring a little more.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thinking About Logic


I often wonder how a person who is trained in philosophy can be so utterly confused about logic.  It's not that they don't know the rules of logic, such as modus ponens, or that they are unable to apply those rules in a syllogism.  It doesn't take an education is philosophy to be able to construct an argument that follows the rules of logic.  Even an animal can reason something like this:  If I can unlatch the door, then I can escape.  But it does take a deeper level of understanding to be able to formally state what those logical rules are, and express them in symbolic terms.  The animal does not know that he us using modus ponens, despite the fact that he actually is using it in his primitive reasoning process.  But there are philosophers who don't see the distinction between using logic and thinking about logic.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Science Education And Reality


Victor Reppert has produced yet another stunning blog piece, called The authoritarianism of science education, that caught my attention because of its sheer ignorance.  It attempts to denigrate educational methods in science as being "authoritarian", and not "following the argument where it leads".  Here is the article in its entirety:
Science education is NOT an example of following the argument where it leads. If you do a chem lab and your results differ from those prescribed in the textbook, you are not to ask whether you  have made a new scientific discovery. No, you are asked to figure out where you made a mistake. - Reppert
I think it is worth commenting on this, not just to point out its ignorance, but because is illustrates the huge rift between scientific thinking and religious thinking, in general.  I'll get to that, but first, I need to explain why Victor is 100% wrong.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Slavery and Evolution


It is always sad to see Christians trying to make themselves seem intellectually or morally superior, but even more so when they attempt to use science to justify their smug haughtiness.  Sad, because this attitude is a violation of one of their Seven Deadly Sins (namely pride), which they blithely ignore, even as they go about touting how much better they are because of their Christian values and beliefs.  And sad, too, because they reject science whenever they see it as a threat to their belief system, but proudly claim credit for it when they think it will make them look better (as in their claim: It was Christians, not atheists, who invented science).  And then there's the misuse of science (or pseudo-science) in a vain attempt to show that their religious beliefs compare favorably to non-theistic scientific theories.  Perhaps the most notable example of this is ID science, which doesn't follow the methods of scientific investigation, but sounds kind of sciencey, and that's good enough for them.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Phil Torres - Voice of the Regressive Left


Phil Torres has expressed his displeasure with the "new atheist" movement, and announced that "today I want nothing whatsoever to do with it."  Sorry to see him go, but what exactly is he departing from?  What is this thing he calls a movement?  Is it the broad community of atheists?  That doesn't make much sense, because he's still part of that.  Is it the community of scientific-minded atheist skeptics?  My guess is that he still identifies as being aligned with them.  No, it seems to be a particular (but large) subset of atheists having political views that he takes issue with.  If you want to take a simplistic approach, and divide atheists into two camps on political grounds, you might draw a line between those who hold more traditional liberal views (which Torres calls "new atheists"), and those in the SJW camp (who are often called the "regressive left").  And my reaction to his announcement is: if you so vehemently disagree with their politics, what took you so long?