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Messages - Hadriel

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General Discussion / Re: Ethics and morality
« on: July 03, 2008, 05:59:40 am »
"Morality" is a social contract in the same vein as the unspoken accord between the government and the governed.  As it is not codified physical law, it must conform to the demands of the situation while remaining grounded in utilitarianism.  There's really little more that can be said about it without becoming pedantic or invoking thought experiments; morality is a construct which exists to perpetuate society, no more, no less.

General Discussion / Re: The $%*! frustration thread
« on: May 27, 2008, 01:43:32 am »
Not that it's any of my business, but I imagine Sally's aware of Sam's passing, and that he committed suicide because of the breakup. How's she doing, if you've seen her? That's a horrible weight to have on her conscience, and who knows what it might lead to. But then again, it's not exactly like you're in a position to watch out for her now. Sorry everything's turning into a shitfest for you, nightmare.

My teacher asked me to go to an awards ceremony tonight. I got to say a few words about Sam, Sally was supposed to present an award(for something not related) and she wasn't there. I went to her work afterwords, but she wasn't there. Regretfully, I went to her house, luckily her father wasn't there. She's in shock, that's all I can say.

I'm afraid of what might happen to her. I'm afraid she might do the same.

Oh, and her father was at Sam's house, yelling at his parents for raising such a bad child, he also doesn't believe that Sam is, dead. God I hate writing that. I also hate this fucking bastard.

If you can prove that his actions led directly to your friend's death, you may be able to have him charged with something.  Probably not murder, but manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide may fit the bill.  [/internet advice]

To an extent, it is a supply problem; even with current production levels, the demand is only going to keep growing, which naturally drives the price up.  Further, there isn't enough oil left to keep producing it economically at a rate sufficient to satisfy projected future demand, and the oil companies certainly aren't going to eat the cost for the good of the rest of us.  Unfortunately, there isn't much of anything to interdict the moonshot in cost, especially with speculative investing.  Much of the problem that got us here is down to simple overconsumption, not to mention America's crippling, odious failure to invest in nuclear energy and other forms of alternative power.

General Discussion / Re: Stuff you hate
« on: May 13, 2008, 05:20:39 am »
The problem for a testing situation is that Taylor polynomials not only take time to derive, they only provide an approximate evaluation (as they are power series).  There isn't really a good way to derive trigonometric values on the fly except for 45-degree angles; by the Pythagorean theorem, it is intuitively obvious that both the sine and cosine of a 45-degree angle are 1/(sqrt)2.

General Discussion / Re: Stuff you hate
« on: May 12, 2008, 06:23:27 pm »
If there was a GRE Fucking People's Shit Up subject test, I guess we'd have material for Magus.  Though he was a prince of Zeal, which means he probably had an excellent education.  Considering their level of technical advancement and his native intelligence I'd be surprised if he couldn't hack the test program and give himself a perfect score.

General Discussion / Re: Stuff you hate
« on: May 12, 2008, 04:31:44 pm »
Or even simpler; you could just recognize that the triangle on the right is equilateral and that its side length is the same as the one it gives you, automatically meaning the requested side length is 6.

For the division problem, all you have to do is factor 96 into the factors on top, which renders it 8*3*(2^2), meaning that 96^2 = 8^2 * 3^2 * 2^4.  Thus you have your answer.

The first problem can be done by noticing that it takes nine iterations for the sequence to reach -4, thus meaning n is 10.  The fence problem is just adding together 200 plus the length of that quarter-circle, which will be 50π, which is slightly larger than 150, leaving 357 the closest number.  Finally, the task force problem features six possible arrangements of men and three possible arrangements of women, meaning 18 possible task forces.

(edited to include all incorrect problems, because I'm bored, but apparently not bored enough to list the problems in the right order)

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: May 04, 2008, 08:22:48 pm »
I rather resent the implication that I'm somehow a pretender or a charlatan.  Pretentious?  Certainly.  Overreaching my field of experience?  Occasionally.  But every single poster here has been guilty of both of those at one time or another.  Those have nothing to do with whether or not one is capable of making logical deductions from observation and forming experiments to determine the veracity of one's thinking.  I have amply demonstrated these capabilities (insofar as the latter is possible on a forum, at any rate), perhaps more than any member of this forum aside from those here who are both professionals at a technical discipline and overshadow me in length of years.  As J mentioned, not once have any of us argued with truly academic rigor, as that would involve the citation of numerous sources and volumes of text far greater even than the unwieldy masses that some have derided here, and quite frankly none of us feel like doing that level of work unless a grade is on the line.  But the basic principles of clear thought apply regardless of the level of formality, and on the whole I would assess my showing of them as if not exemplary, then possessed of potential to be such.

However, it must be noted that J is right, as he most often is, about one thing: In the strictest sense of the word, no, I am not a scientist.  I do not have a laboratory, I do not (yet) have a degree, and I couldn't procure federal funding to save my life.  But this does not mean I am incapable of scientific thinking; far from it.  My major, in fact, holds itself to a higher standard of proof than even physics.  Mathematics, the exercise of pure logic, rests at the core of existence in a way that physics or chemistry or biology never can, as it forms the underpinning by which one makes conclusions in those disciplines in the first place.  It was the topology of Riemann which allowed Einstein to model the distortion of spacetime, Newton's calculus which allowed him to derive equations describing position, velocity, and momentum, and elliptic geometry by which Kepler divined the path of our world around its star.  Standing here in the present, knowing these things, understanding what I do about the concepts underlying the universe around us, I look back upon my life and see it anew, perhaps even for the first time, with eyes unclouded.  I am young yet, and impetuous; I have not merely heard of but felt the brutal efficacy of fear, anger, and aggression to tamper with one's logic circuits, and I assure you that I have been hurt in ways which most of you will never and indeed, can never truly understand.  I know what it is to live as in a waking nightmare, to feel sickness and futility clawing at the mind, sundering more of it with each passing day.  And I know, finally, that none of that matters anymore.  What others have done to me, or what I have done to myself, means nothing set against that which I might do for the world were I to shed the cloak of melancholy which so inured me into a system of living characterized by passive resistance more than active derivation, for the latter allows one to partake of the world's extant beauty by being willing to do the mental footwork to find it, not just in academic study but in every area of life.  It is here that I throw down the metaphorical gauntlet, not in anger or even desperation, indeed without a hint of hubris; given time and effort, the complexity of my thoughts will grow even more in magnitude than they have already.  At length, my knowledge and reason will rival, even surpass the best of those here.  But just as a theory, no matter how strongly grounded in inference, is empty conjecture without its body of supporting evidence, so too is such rhetoric devoid of substance without action behind it.  Thus it is here, where I began it a veritable lifetime ago, that I shall take my leave of the electronic blood sport of theological debate.  In terms of mental development, it has achieved nothing I could not have had by devoting more time to the complexities of my chosen field of study.  It has, however, allowed me to interact with some of the most interesting personages I will ever know, and for that I am grateful.  But we all have to grow up sometime, and now is as good a time as any.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 30, 2008, 09:01:59 am »
Now if only Leebot and GrayLensman would come back.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 26, 2008, 03:31:51 am »
This is one of those times for me to advise, “Don’t give up what hasn’t been taken from you at gunpoint.” Free speech is alive and well, Hadriel, even if the official media of communication are mostly held by the would-be destroyers of liberty.

Technically you're correct in that there hasn't been an executive order overturning the First Amendment, but after eight years of Bush I've become more than a little paranoid about that; I fear that whichever president is elected next will not want to give up the highly concentrated executive power that Bush has worked to actualize.

Every time I see your name I think of Hadrian’s Wall…

Is it just because of the name's similarity, or is there something about me that reminds you of it?

I define villainy differently than you do. Villains are the practitioners of evil, and evil is simply ignorance or willful ignorance. My definition includes yours, but also includes a great many other things. To wit: Krispin has repeatedly shown his willingness to masquerade as an intellectual while disrespecting the unwritten “laws” of intellectual engagement, replacing true argument with distraction and fallacy, and also neglect.. This hinders real communication while at the same time diminishing the reputation of intellectual discourse to those present. It’s very destructive, which is a part of why I have fought him so doggedly in the past.

Note: If Krispin is a friend of yours, then you should recognize your bias in desiring not to see him labeled unsavorily.

Yes, I'm biased in that regard.  When people say the word "villain", despite the fact that I know better my baser self still fishes images of Sauron and Darth Vader out of my memories.  Ignorance does tend to give rise to many if not most social ills, though, specifically the ignorance that comes from being unwilling to think outside of one's proximate cultural environment.  For all theists that purport to be thinkers, I would invite them to conduct a more literal thought experiment and temporarily consider the world as if there is no God.  By "consider the world" I mean to explore every real-world issue you hold dear with the precondition that a deity does not exist, and to see what conclusions you arrive at absent the constraint of a religious doctrine.  As a defector, I feel qualified to suggest such an experiment, given that I have utilized both systems of thought.

Feminism is commonly assumed to be dormant or even in retreat right now, but what has actually happened is that the 1990s were a period of digestion. So much of what the feminists of the 1970s were advocating for, against all odds, and to a hostile social reception, became a part of American life in the 1990s.

Underneath the horrible abuses against females committed and depicted in our media, our arts and entertainment, and throughout society at large, there has a been a slow but profound acceptance of the fact that females can and do have access to most aspects of life, and retain a high degree of autonomy throughout their lives. Sexism is by no means cured, not even close, but what we have achieved—and I say “we” pretty audaciously; I’m a small gnome standing on some pretty tall giants right now—is a stark change. It wasn’t long ago that females in America needed their husband’s signature just to get a credit card!

It’s better in the more liberal places; much worse in the hinterlands. Nevertheless, the times are changing.

If feminism hadn't made progress, Joss Whedon wouldn't have a career.

If you don’t mind my asking, do you have any formal education in any of this stuff? Every time I read your descriptions of physics I am reminded of armchair enthusiasm. It could just be that you’re bad at simplification, but I also wonder if you actually know anything about this stuff.

Yes, though I must admit that my major is pure mathematics rather than physics; once I get to grad school I'm looking to adopt topology and differential equations as my areas of concentration.  And no, I've never been particularly good at simplification, though obviously it's hard to condense string theory into a single paragraph.  But with respect to physics, advanced topics like string theory are indeed beyond my undergraduate ken to explore in detail, so I shall not attempt to pursue the topic further.

Sidebar: Jesus fuck, I sound like that?  I need to learn to explain things more effectively, given that I may have to teach people someday.

It’s a pet peeve of mine when people pretend to have scientific expertise where in fact they have only a casual acquaintance.

I wouldn't expect a real scientist to behave differently.

Quote from: J
Any long-term crisis that operates on a scale of days or better, is unlikely to “destroy us” as you put it. The only exception is a crisis so very extreme and long-term that industrial production becomes impossible.

That pretty much describes peak oil theory exactly, and out of every potential cataclysm I've ever heard of it seems one of the most plausible, given that there is a finite supply of oil and that production costs increase the farther down you have to drill to get at it.  We're already seeing some of it come true in the $4 a gallon gas in some states; Europeans still pay more for gas than we do, but many European countries have a much better-developed system of public services than we do, so the cost evens out for them.

What I'm really concerned about isn't so much the difficulty of transportation set forth by peak oil as it is food shortages engendered by said difficulty.  Everyone suddenly deciding to grow vegetable gardens isn't going to stave off starvation when it costs more to transport food than the food is worth.  I just hope we get a serious political push for alternative energy going soon; so far I haven't seen much substantive action towards new energy sources outside of the ITER project, and who knows when that will produce usable results.

I’m not sure what you were trying to prove there…

That my life isn't completely dull and boring?  :D

Of course it was Galileo’s fault that the authorities came down on him so hard! Of course, of course! Just like it was Jesus’ fault for being crucified. (That’d fuck up Christianity, now wouldn’t it?) Of course it was Galileo’s fault! He should have known better! How dare he anger the mighty? He had no one to blame but himself! Just like any ill-tempered female deserves to be raped if she pisses off some football jock. Well said, Daniel! Once again you illumine us with your infinite wisdom.

I have to agree with this.  Whether you're a dick has nothing to do with whether or not you produce good science.

It’s always a bit chilling to imagine the people who marry stalwart Christians…far more so than the specter of sexual stink.

I don't have to imagine, because both of my parents are fundie nuts.  Be thankful that you do.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 20, 2008, 04:17:37 pm »
To be honest, this question annoys me quite a bit, on account that it only appears to be clever. Allow me to first explain why that question is inherently flawed, and then, because I can, I will provide you with an answer despite that flaw.

First, such a question only has significance if it relates to an omnipotent god, correct? If we are talking about a deity of limited potence, then it is hardly worthwhile to argue that a limited deity is limited.

Second, if we are to assume an omnipotent being, then we are to define such a being as being all power (having infinite power, able to do anything, etc).

So, then, to look at the question itself, it is a standard yes or no question. If yes, a deity could create a rock so heavy he could not lift it, but that would then that indicates that such a being is not entirely omnipotent, because there is something it could not do. If no, however, then a deity could not create a rock so heavy that he could not lift it, and so it then indicates that such a being is not entirely omnipotent.

This argument is hardly clever because a yes or no question, when applied to an omnipotent being, is a False Dilemma. If we are talking about an omnipotent being, then we are talking about a being with the power to make mutually exclusive things inclusive. That is to say, an omnipotent being could create a rock that it could both, at the same time, lift and not lift (indeed, such an omnipotent being could come up with an endless number of solutions to that question that preserves its omnipotence, seeing as how it has the power to do anything).

Now, one might object to such a statement by saying it is unreasonable, that it is illogical. Indeed, you brushed on this:

Even someone with enough power to smash this planet to atoms with a flick of their wrist still cannot defy logic.

An omnipotent being, however, could defy logic (remember, we are defining omnipotent as having infinite power, able to do anything, etc). If an omnipotent being cannot defy logic, then that being isn’t really omnipotent; you are holding something else (in this case logic) as being more powerful than it. So the original question, if it is to be used against the idea of an omnipotent being, inherently assumes that such a being isn’t omnipotent. This is then Begging the Question. It is hardly clever so say that a non-omnipotent being is not omnipotent.

Begging the question is when you pre-assume the solution.  Presuming that the solution can be derived from logic is not equivalent just because logic says something you don't like.

“God the Father” could make a rock so heavy that “God the Son” (aka, Jesus) could not lift. God the Father could still lift the rock, but God the Son could not. Yet, as they are both one in the same, God is doing both.

This violates the identity principle.  Either they are the same and thus will be able to either lift the rock or not, or they are not the same and one of them could have the opposite result.

You are merely claiming that so far the particular paradigm of the Scientific Method has not displayed any critical errors in its formulation that would necessitate a paradigm shift. However, given that every precursor paradigm has been discarded before, statistically speaking it is quite likely that the current paradigm (that of the Scientific Method) will shift in the future (how, I cannot say; I doubt the standard paradigm will be grossly different, but it will be different).

Possibly.  It isn't likely, but it's possible.  However, any hypothetical new formulation of the scientific method would still have to be grounded in logic.

Insofar as we are talking about logical inconsistencies, it does relate. Specifically in that, logic itself is not logically consistent. Allow me to explain.

Begging the Question is a logical fallacy, to begin with. If you do not understand this, then nothing that follows will seem wonderful or magical.

Given the above, now argue that “Logic,” as an abstract system of analyzing the world, is a good tool that we should employ.

Any argument you would present is either logical and therefore is committing the Begging the Question logical fallacy (which makes it illogical) or the argument is illogical, and therefore still illogical. It is, quite simply put, impossible to justify our use of Logic as a system for analyzing the world. We are being illogical in our very insistence of using logic.

However, as mentioned, the argumentum ad logicam logical fallacy saves us. Just because we cannot logically argue that Logic is a valid system, it does not follow that it is not, in reality, a valid system. Merely, the arguments for it are faulty.

So, then, a very fundamental logical inconsistency, though conceptual, effects our entire perception of the real world.

All you did was restate the incompleteness theorem another way.  What we've established through this meaningless semantical game is that logic is inescapable; if you attempt to venture outside of it, you encounter a universe filled with nonsensical conclusions and uninterpretable information.  If solipsism has an ideal form, your argument here is its living expression.

See your own explanation of a “theory of everything.” But in short, it is possible to know the beginning state of any system and from that all that follows can be known. Therefore we should be able to know with perfect certainty how a person will react. To my knowledge, humans are the only things in the universe that knowledge of the future can effect.

Heisenberg proved that it is not possible to know the state of any system with perfect certainty, therefore rendering the rest of your statement invalid.  I addressed this already; it is at best possible to know the probable state of a system.

Ah, I am sorry, I misunderstood the intent of what you said… however, I still seem to be confused. One cannot establish the “logical foundation for anti-theist sympathies” by merely saying that a lot of people are doing it (as mentioned, that is the Bandwagon logical fallacy).

And that wasn't the crux of my argument.  The crux of my argument is formed by numerous morally objectionable sections of holy text, which as mentioned have promoted sexism, slavery, and discrimination on an enormous scale without substantive proof for their way of viewing things.

A link to what?

You made a claim that adult stem cells had more medical potential than embryonic stem cells.  Though in the greater scheme of things it's not that important.

Nope, I read about that. I also read about how that was one of the things Solomon was supposed to NOT do. I also read about the strife between Rachael and Leah and how it was the result of deception. I also read about, at the very beginning of the bible, the entire bit about a man marrying a woman and that they would become one flesh (not three quarters of one flesh, requiring that they seek out some kinky action).

Polygamy was the norm in biblical time. But the bible also didn’t encourage it (more of the opposite, really).

Mosaic law carries ludicrous punishments for just about every crime worse than jaywalking.  If polygamy was not encouraged, it would not have been the norm.

Yes, silly Church for agreeing with Galileo, confirming his findings, and in general accepting his theories. Wait, you meant after Natural Philosophers (aka, “scientists”) got on the Church’s case and urged it to attack him, didn’t you? Sorry. ;)

Provide a citation for this.

And on another aside, the only reason you can imagine that one does not need religious influences to see that slavery is wrong is because religious influences have already shown that slavery is wrong; you happened to grow up after the fact so you are free to see clearly. Don’t be anachronistic in looking at different time periods.

And as a final aside; economic slavery still exists.

Religious influences have shown no such thing.  Taking the Bible as axiomatic truth (which is problematic because of contradictions, but this is hypothetical), it is impossible to prove from it that slavery is wrong.  This also applies to the Koran and the Torah.

I have not a word of disagreement on the issue of economic slavery; it's found quite a nice home on these shores.

But you seem to be complaining that the only people who can call America’s history into question with a degree of impunity are the people who are trained and knowledgeable in history. Would you claim that people who aren’t trained in science should be able to question it publicly without fear of ridicule? If so, please do return to the first post in this thread and observe just that. If not, why should history be treated differently?

I claim that people who are not trained in a discipline should be able to question it; if I did not, I'd be disavowing freedom of speech.  However, I don't think they should be able to do it ridicule-free if their conclusions are wrong.

But that aside, incase you’ve missed it, America’s history and actions are questioned publicly on a near-daily basis as the norm. Perhaps the scope of these questions aren’t to you’re liking, however?

No, it isn't.  Everyone acts like Iraq is the first time America has engaged in imperialism; this reflects a popular deficiency in historical knowledge.  The Native Americans, Hawai'i, and the Philippines have all come before this, and have been quietly swept under the rug.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 19, 2008, 02:27:37 pm »
Actually, the beliefs the Church enforced were the scientific worldviews of Aristotle. Beyond that, as my agnostic philosophy prof says, apparently one need only read Galileo to see why they went down so heavily on him: apparently he was an ass. If you're going to write something, it's usually not wise to openly mock the people who would be affirming its publication. That's apparently what he did. From the way I've heard it, it was more Galileo's fault than anything, and that the ideas he propounded would have been very readily allowed. And anyway, as I said, the problem they had was it disagreed with Aristotle, the scientific dogma of the time.

If somebody's as smart as Galileo, they have a bit of justification to be an ass.  Unfortunately, overestimating one's intelligence is a common error.

The idea of "scientific dogma" is something that is not codified; only the acquisition of data can determine what scientific dogma is.  Philosophy of science has advanced notably since then.  Aristotle was of a mind that pure contemplation was sufficient to form a scientific theory and that you weren't required to check your results against observable reality, which flies in the face of the modern scientific method.  Needless to say, the methodology we use today has yielded far more accurate results.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 18, 2008, 06:34:44 pm »
1) Inconsistencies do not relate to validity. To provide an example: I am quite reserved around people I do not know, while with people I do know I am quite boisterous, jovial, and gregarious around those who I am familiar with. My two inconsistent behaviors do not relate in any meaningful way as to my existence (that is, it cannot prove any concept about me “wrong”). Additionally, that which appears to be inconsistent on the surface may not be so in reality upon a closer, meaningful investigation. To provide a non-religious example, the speed of light is a universal constant but light travels faster in a vacuum than in the atmosphere (and slower still in other mediums). This appears to be an inconsistency, yet deeper knowledge of the subject reveals otherwise (light travels slower in earth's atmosphere because it is getting absorbed by the atmosphere itself and re-emitted). So then, that which appears to be inconsistent between the OT and NT may not actually be so upon closer inspection (they still might be, but this is an argument for possibility).

2) Even if a Theory of Everything were to be developed, that does not necessitate that such a theory would be able to provide information on souls, the possibility or a good many other concepts. A Theory of Everything could not, for example, take into account other "Bubble Universes" (if such things exist, which a Theory of Everything couldn't actually address). The only sort of theory that could take into account Chaotic Inflation Theory (to my understanding, at least, but BROJ seems knowledgeable about such things, so perhaps he will correct me) is one where there are no constants, only independent variables (and thus, such a theory would be effectively meaningless).

And as an aside (yes, I said two things, but this barely counts as a third), we can make general statements without a Theory of Everything (and mind, such a theory may not be possible). They just might be dubious or improperly informed.

I'm not talking about inconsistencies in behavior, but rather in fact.  I behave extremely inconsistently at times, but it does not negate my existence.  Simply because a god is evil does not mean they don't exist, but certain traits attributed to a god can be measured against each other logically, or against physical reality.  For example, in Hinduism it is said that Shiva destroys and recreates the world every 400,000 years.  Geological evidence has shown this not to be true (and it's just as well; the Hindu caste system is every bit as offensive to morality as Judaic tribalism).  At the very least, this means that Shiva as currently defined does not exist.  In a monotheistic religion, you only have one god to work with; show that he/she/it cannot exist as defined and, regardless of whether said god exists in some form or not, you have logically undermined the doctrinal structure erected around them.  The more inconsistencies you can find, the more likely it becomes that the figure simply does not exist at all.  For example, the Abrahamic God is commonly held to be omnipotent, but the question "Can God make a rock so heavy even he cannot lift it?", far from being a rhetorical question, is actually a proof by contradiction against the idea of omnipotence; no matter what, there will always be an ability outside of God's potential set of abilities, because certain elements cannot coexist in the same set.  Even someone with enough power to smash this planet to atoms with a flick of their wrist still cannot defy logic.  The idea of omniscience is defeated by the speed of light, unless we allow for wormholes (though even without that, omniscience can easily exist within a finite sphere of influence; just ask Winston Smith.  Or the rat bastards who came up with this.  I'm just hoping somebody had the good sense to hide a Prometheus Circuit in it somewhere.)

On the topic of a theory of everything, in principle it is completely possible.  What may not be possible is a grand unified theory, which though similar is technically different; the latter seeks to unify electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force (which are now collectively referred to as electroweak), the strong nuclear force, and gravity.  Gravity has proved the most difficult of all because of problems with relativity on a quantum scale.  String theory seeks to unify gravity with the rest of the forces by postulating that particles are one-dimensional "loops" rather than point particles; in this it would also provide a theory of everything, since it describes a fundamental constituent of matter and eliminates the problem of quantum foam by proposing a lower limit to the allowable size of an object.

Only if we define a god as a being with the power to destroy; if, rather, we define a god as a being with the power to create independently of all other factors, Lavos might still be godlike to humans (we don't see the extent of his power), but humans would not be godlike to ants (who, of course, wouldn't be able to perceive such a concept).

Given that Lavos has the capacity to interfere with evolution on a planetary scale, he is still the equivalent of a god even by your definition.  It's almost scary to think that once we perfect our study of the human genome, we will be very close to having this power; we have already completed our mapping of our genome.  All that remains is to discover its intricacies, a task that will be abetted by huge amounts of computer power.

The reason I say humans are gods relative to ants is because we already have some power to interfere in evolution.  If you recall, the principles of natural selection are dependent on one's environment.  Humans, via the use of tools and intellect, have learned to alter our environment to suit us instead of the other way around, a capacity which may very well end up destroying us via climate change.  I would dearly hope that future generations after such an event do not blame science or technology, but most of my hopes for humanity thus far have been rewarded with crushing disappointment.

Read “Structure of the Scientific Revolution” by Thomas Kuhn. Paradigms have shifted before and there is no reason to assume that paradigms will not shift again.

What does that have to do with what I said?

True, there has never been a logical contradiction in the real world, but they exist aplenty in the conceptual world (which is not merely limited to religious scriptures of all stripes). However, allow me to remind you of the argumentum ad logicam fallacy; just because the arguments for a conclusion are fallacious does not then necessitate that the conclusion is false (indeed, it is because this is a logical fallacy that Logic itself, as a system, can be used reasonably).

Well, of course not; I can argue that the speed of light equals ~3e8 m/s because Mahatma Gandhi is a chalkboard.  That doesn't really have anything to do with what we're talking about, though.

If I might propose a thought experiment: Present a computer with a problem and inform it of the computer's own outcome. The computer's future actions are irrelevant, and it will faithfully compute the problem and give you the answer you predicted. A human, on the other hand... present a human with a problem and inform him or her of their outcome of that problem. The human might be faithful and resolve the problem and give you the predicted answer. But the human might be uppity and choose to give a different answer, out of spite and independence.

Consciousness is not just information, but information uncontrollably reacting to other information.

The experiment falls apart in that you are required to know with perfect certainty how they will react, which is not possible; in fact, it rather reminds me of Babylon 5's John Sheridan attempting to prevent a prophecy and in so doing causing it to happen.  Makes for great TV (much better than recent Star Trek, for damned sure), but a thought experiment it is not.  For the human, it is at best possible to know how they will probably react; even if you're right, you have proven nothing.  Let me modify it a bit; suppose now that instead of giving a problem to an ordinary computer, you're giving it to an AI.  There are four possibilities here; you can tell the machine that it will solve the problem correctly or incorrectly, and they can solve it correctly or incorrectly.  If you tell it the correct answer and it solves the problem correctly, you have only proven that it can perform analytical tasks.  If you tell it an incorrect answer and it solves the problem correctly, it is likely to call you out on your deception (and possibly try to kill you with a hair dryer).  If it solves the problem incorrectly in either case, you fail at programming and the whole experiment is invalidated.  But in any possible case, how they solve the problem and react to it is dependent on the processes they use to analyze the information you give them, as well as relevant background knowledge that may be necessary to complete the problem.

A minor point, but this seems to be little more than a bandwagon approach. That one is not alone in this curious form of what might be termed “atheistic extremism” does not indicate that such extremism is good or bad (or perhaps “desirable” and “undesirable” might be better classifications).

As for stem cell research, one hardly needs to rely on religion in order to promote the prohibition or limitation of stem cell research. Every medical research University worth its salt has Ethics Grand Rounds. The very scientists that research stem cells and their potential uses also debate among themselves and others the ethical grounds that they work on; you will not find arguments from religion in such places.

However, in your particular example, you are confusing stem cell research for embryonic stem cell research; nothing, not even potential, "dies" in obtaining adult stem cells, so the logical processes that lead to the conclusion that murder is wrong do not apply (and are not applied) to such.

I don't consider it a bandwagon approach, as I did not say it was desirable to ban religion (though I have said such things in angrier moments, which more recently have occurred in response to many of the current Pope's proclamations as well as the actions of Middle Eastern terrorists).  All I'm attempting to establish here is the logical foundation for anti-theist sympathies.

And yes, I was referring to embryonic stem cell research, as it is the only such research that has come under fire on grounds of ethics.

Indeed, curiously it is adult stem cell research that has the most potential for medical uses (thus the limitation regarding embryonic stem cells is limiting the less profitable line of investigation; given that adult stem cell research is at an economic disadvantage to embryonic research, this could be seen as a good thing). For example, transplant organs grown from embryonic stem cells will still require the use of immunosuppressant drugs to reduce the risk of rejection. Transplant organs grown from adult stem cells, however, have the potential to be grown from the patient themself; there would be no difference in the transplanted organ and the one removed, thus rejection is not a consideration and thus immunosuppressant drugs (which open the patient up for a host of other diseases) are not required.

I hadn't heard that.  Do you have a link?

Christianity acted likewise when proselytizing; we can see this today in the existence of Christmas trees and even in the date selected to celebrate Jesus' birth, both of which were pagan in origin.

Historical records indicate that the date of the birth of Jesus was not, in fact, pagan in origin (this subject is still debated in historical circles). Particularly in the Coptic church, there are indications that Jesus' birth was held to be in that time frame (ranging from December 25thish to January 7ish, if I am recalling correctly) as early as the first century. However, to note, Christmas wasn't much of a celebrated Holy Day till several centuries later. It wasn't considered important.

The arguments for a pagan influence on the date of Christmas are faulty due to post hoc ergo propter hoc; numerous pagan holy days were around the same time period, therefore it is concluded that Christians specifically adopted one of those.

If what you say about the distribution of pagan holidays is true, it only adds fuel to my argument, which is that Christianity survived as a meme by being willing to incorporate cultural traditions.  I have developed my own theory on the other reasons why it has survived; they involve the relation of the messianic figure to the literary epic hero archetype.  But that's a debate for another thread.

That isn't cutting the problem off at the source; you admitted that social systems were constructed after the fact to support oppression. Therefore, those social systems (in this particular case, Religion) are a symptom, not a cause. To fault religion in terms of sexism is akin to amputation resulting from diabetes. The flesh might be corrupted, but cutting the symptom off does nothing about the cause. Unless treated at the real source, it will return somewhere else.

Though religion was not the initial cause, it became one of the primary mechanisms of perpetuation for sexism, effectively becoming a cause with respect to later generations.

But economics, rather than reproductivity, may be the more likely cause for sexism. In a basic hunter-gatherer society the physically able are the hunters (and these were usually men). Meat is a bit harder to come by than berries yet greatly desired as a food source, so meat had the higher economic value. Men, therefore, controlled a vital resource.

But with the rise of agriculture, this was no longer the case.  It might be argued that men are able to physically labor more than women, but they did not have nearly the level of exclusive control over production that would be expected of a hunter-gatherer tribe.  Society simply left men in charge because it was the established status quo.

If we look at reproduction, then male-dominance actually makes less sense. Sperm and the implantation of such requires very little investment of resources, thus allowing men to potentially reproduce more often than women. Indeed, it is to the man's evolutionary advantage to do so (just like a flower that is better as spreading its pollen has an evolutionary advantage). Women, on the other hand, can, at best, engage in reproduction once every nine-ish months, and child rearing is a resource-intense process (while men and women are both subject to biological factors that increase the desire to rear a child, if the man isn’t present he can’t be effected by them). It is to the woman's advantage, then, to consolidate and pool resources. Thus, it is to the woman's evolutionary advantage for men to not "sow their wild oats," but rather devote all their resources to a single mate and the children produced there in. Polygamy is advantageous to men, monogamy is advantageous to women. If religion were entirely oppressive to women and instituted by men for their own benefit, then one would expect polygamy to be the norm.

In biblical times polygamy was the norm.  Or did you not read about King Solomon's seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines?  Even today, harems still exist in less-developed countries, carrying on the same principle.

To note: The scientific community itself is in need of reform. It is good that it censors explanations that are not grounded in solid methodology, but it censors even good methodology in subtle ways. If the explanation isn’t new and exciting, it won’t get published in a major scientific journal. If it doesn’t get published in a major scientific journal, the scientist behind it can have difficulties finding a job, getting tenure, and procuring funding.

The scientific community is addicted to "The New;" a key component of the scientific method in retesting a hypothesis. Try getting funding with such a goal in mind, however. Scientists are eternally afraid of being scooped, in constant fear of negative results (which are, scientifically speaking, just as valuable as positive results), and loathing of high-risk projects. These things all have fine merits under the scientific method, but the scientific community is ruled by the twin tyrants of Prestige and Funding and nearly half of what science should be has been excommunicated.

Of course, I get grumpy because my academic field of choice doesn’t even compare, in terms of funding, to scientific fields. No such thing as an early investigator (K23) award in history, for example. There is no National Institute of History.

I agree fully here.  This is not the fault of science, but of economic and political interests attempting to use it as a tool for their own ends.  When universities are reduced to being a mark of social status, all of academia suffers.

The most famous example is, of course, geo-centrism. Christianity at one point supported the belief, but the belief itself had its origins in Greek philosophy and many proofs of that belief were presented by "natural philosophers" (essentially, the closest thing to scientists that the time period had).

The Church didn't just support the belief, they enforced it.  Galileo is both the perfect example and the only example required to prove that.

However, I think what Hadriel meant was closer to inconsistencies in behavior of God and concepts (OT God said eye for an eye, Jesus said turn the other cheek), possibly the inconsistent pronoun usage (God sometimes says "I" and other times says "We" when referring to himself), and probably other things as well.

This is also part of my objection, yes.

There are physical differences that necessitate men live their lives differently than women; for example, men never have to bother with sanitary napkins ;)

Don't talk to me about that until you've accidentally witnessed your girlfriend wiping menstrual blood out of her vagina.  I will never forget that image as long as I live.

If there is no afterlife, and they have served a life of servitude, if you will, in vain, but they were happy whilst they did it, then who cares? They were happy whilst they lived and most likely died believing they led a good life. Because you personally wouldn't do it that means that it is wrong? I don't know, that sounds pretty unfair to me.

Well, no, it's not wrong, per se, as long as such a life isn't forced on anyone.  It's just awfully limiting.

Eventually it will happen, if we don’t kill ourselves off first. The United States is, somewhat famously, one of the most religious of all the developed nations. Our fundamentalist Protestant heritage is something of a cultural aberration when considered on the global scale. Nations like the UK are, just as famously, post-religious in their social attitudes.

Like I said, it has a lot to do with the Cold War.  After the horrors of the two World Wars and the Great Depression, American society just wanted everything to go back to normal, and they saw religion as the way to do that (and savvy politicians saw a social movement ripe for the picking).  Let us not forget that "under God" was only added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, to differentiate us from the atheist-leaning Soviets.

Just a passing curiosity, but have you read "The Gateway to Women's Country"? It is a story about a society where there was, essentially, an armed female uprising (minus the arms… so a Venus de Milo uprising!)

So it's Buffy without the vampires.  Except that we've already established that to be Gilmore Girls.

Do you also praise religion where it deserves it? The Crusades, for example, provided the tinder for the Renaissance and Enlightenment, while the Abrahamic faiths were instrumental in dissolving slavery (see William Wilberforce). Indeed, one of the fascinating things about history is that essentially no matter how horrible the event, if it didn’t happen then subsequent good might not have been done either.

The Abrahamic faiths condone slavery; Christianity does this even in the New Testament.  Religious influence is not required to see that slavery is wrong.

Historiography is vital in this claim, and alas it does not hold up. Individuals have been calling America's history into question for the last 80ish years. They aren't branded traitors, they're granted tenure. Academia is awash with individuals who call America's actions and history into question and no, they are not branded traitors but rather praised. Read a modern American History textbook and compare it to a textbook from to years ago. Things have changed quite a bit, all because people called America’s history into question.

What's wrong with calling your country's history into question?  Perhaps such people are praised in academia, where precision and accuracy are paramount, but in the general arena they are reviled and spat upon as un-American merely for insinuating that we are not a shining city on a hill.

Ideas are non-physical yet can be applied through physical means in order to alter the physical.
Indeed, ideas are the genes of the future.

Exactly.  This is the entire principle behind memetics, though the analogy is not completely precise.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 18, 2008, 04:44:38 pm »
Thank you!! No, seriously, thank you. About time I hear more people agreeing with this.

That probably deserves its own thread, actually.

I truly believe that if our education system was simply more strict on these matters, and seriously, more harsh on punishment (Who cares about getting suspended or something anymore?), then it'd be a win situation.
The education system in this world is a joke, an absolute joke.

The educational system doesn't need to be harsher; we already have zero-tolerance bullshit, by which it's practically possible to denounce anyone you don't like to the thought police.  What it needs is to deal with troubled kids better, teach the material more effectively by focusing on conceptual foundations rather than rote memorization, and admit when it fucks up.

Has science even been able to prove that such a thing (a soul) MIGHT exist? Perhaps there is no such thing as a "soul"? I see no reason to believe in such a thing (But again, I'm extremely uneducated in this matter). We have a brain and a consciousness to go with it, where in the world does a "soul" even come into the factor?

Traditionally, a soul is defined as an immaterial entity; this definition is impossible to prove with science (well, good science, anyway).  However, as the soul is usually associated with consciousness, I feel it only fair to use the word as a poetic sort of definition for the scientific processes involved in learning and data analysis; this definition applies to machine as well as organic intelligence.  Once, long ago, I viewed knowledge as a mere tool of social advancement, the cudgel with which one asserts their superiority in an information economy; indeed, this is the view taken by the overwhelming majority.  But by viewing knowledge as the "substance" of the soul, one can instantly acquire an intuitive understanding of how people think and act based on their tendencies and the information, whether scientific or cultural, they have been exposed to.  It is even possible, through enough exposure to a given person and to their interests, to develop a near-telepathic understanding of them; when you do these things, you are effectively sharing their memory.

Heh. Well put. Basically, you are saying people need to stop copping out behind "But that's not necessarily true" when it's so obvious that it is?


Yes, a valid exemption. Religion, of course, is not the only such aid open to the desperate, but because of its pervasiveness in our culture it does come up quite often. If the lost can right themselves with religion, then the better for them.

Two notes, however: Those are compromised people, and probably should not be afforded the same status as ordinary citizens. Secondly, and more pertinently, take a closer look at some of those people whose lives were “saved” by discovering religion, and you will find that religion itself most often played a role in their development or corruption, directly and indirectly, in the person of their parents, in the style of the upbringing, and in the mores and values of the institutions of the environments in which they lived. Much of what is wrong with America today can trace itself to religious values—including the many ills that you would typically think of as completely secular, like Las Vegas. Ah, but a discussion for another time, that is, since I have to go.

The point, then: Yes, it’s a valid exemption. For now.

I like the Las Vegas example.  What has been done with Nevada in particular is to sequester all of the "deviant" behavior into one economically unbalanced corner and then point to the crime rates as evidence of a causal relationship between said behaviors and criminality.  This is the same type of mentality fueling the so-called war on drugs; make it illegal by appealing to voters' religious morality, watch organized crime get involved because there's no other way for users to get drugs, and then point to the after-the-fact destruction of lives as evidence that they were right, failing to realize (or care) that said destruction was in large part created by the very laws passed in an attempt to stop it.  Not that I would recommend use of hard drugs (cocaine, ecstasy, etc.), which actually will kill you, but I defy anyone to provide the name of even one person who has overdosed on marijuana.  Hell, alcohol kills more people than weed.  Sure, it's possible to give yourself lung cancer by smoking pot, but in order to do that you'd have to smoke an ounce a day for several years; you're much more likely to get cancer with cigarettes.  Unfortunately, most people cannot make the logical connection here; they simply see that some illegal substances kill you and then assume that all of them will.  This is where education reform could come in; I believe that there should be mandatory classes in logic throughout all twelve years of school.  It could cover diverse subjects such as epistemology, philosophy, the history of science, and even art, and best of all, it could actually be fun.  All you have to do to create a generation of smart, well-informed kids is to make the idea of learning attractive to them on a personal level.  Unfortunately, that's not what our system wants to do.  What our system wants to do is create obedient drones of the current (thoroughly corrupt) social order, and if they learned logic they'd also learn to question authority.

Holy crap, you're right, and amazingly, I've made this same argument time and time again (Sad how I've never put 2 and 2 together until now).
One of the things I hate most are overbearing parents. Not good parents, overbearing parents. The kind that don't send their kids to school because they are afraid of the "dangers" of peer pressure, etc. etc.
Or the kind that send their kids to religious private schools, is another prime example. I tell ya, every person I speak of actually in the post you're responding to grew up like this. -_-
Parents literally condemn their children this way. The kids grow up so secluded from the rest of the real world, that as soon as they hit that age where they can make their own decisions, they SNAP! They go insane, experimenting with all the evils of the world they were never allowed to simply out of prolonged curiousity.

Sadly, my family is a perfect example of this phenomenon.  I've mentioned on and off to Daniel that my father is a theologian, the same as his, but the difference between his father and my father, from what I've been able to tell, is that mine was an authoritarian, stubborn ox whom I wish to have nothing more to do with.  And I won't even get into the various and sundry levels of upfuckery on my mother's least not without a lot of Jack Daniels.

Good point, I don't think you understood me completely though. Things that haven't been absolutely 100% without a doubt proven are still going to be denied by people stuck in their ways. Look back at my posts to ZeaLity a while back (As well as others on this thread), it's being done right here in this thread. The blame is placed differently on religion or science based on who is placing that blame. It's a "he said, she said" thing until it is proven indefinitely. Humanity just loves to disagree.

Then we have a problem, because outside of mathematics it is impossible for anything to be proved with 100% certainty.  But reasonable people should find 99.99% certainty to be acceptable.

If it isn't proven enough to completely disprove the other side (Religion), than it's not an indefinite fact, I guess is what I am saying. I'm not at liberty to say, honestly. I've never actually had to take the stand of fighting against science to prove religion, but people are doing it all the time. Ask them, I guess. -_-
You see what I am saying though? I don't know how to state it well, I suppose.
Look at it this way, it is a known fact that if it is indefinitely proven via extensive fossil records and other works that we evolved overtime from simple to complex, religion is murdered. MURDERED! It will completely disprove the Bible, 100%
Am I wrong in that statement? Or am I just not making any sense at all?

Yes, you're actually wrong there.  Evolution does not disprove the Bible, or even God in general; the Bible does not give a specific date for creation.  What it disproves is that the Bible's account of creation is literally true.  Many of the stories in the Bible are known to be parables; Jesus was rather fond of them.  However, as offensive as that idea is to hardline Christians, what really gets their panties in a Gordian knot is the idea that mankind is the result of a scientifically explainable process rather than divine intervention - in other words, that we aren't special.  Ann Coulter even says as much in her book Godless, in a rare display of honesty.  However, I would dispute the notion that we aren't special, at least to an extent; simply because our capacity for thought evolved instead of being created does not negate its significance.  No other species on this earth has achieved the depth and breadth of intellectual progress that we humans have made; this, at least, is worth something in the grand scheme of things.

It's not "To be religious is to be dead" or "To be religious it to be imprisoned" but "To be religious is to be ignorant" then?

More like "to be religious is to not examine oneself rigorously."  As we have seen, this is not true for all religious people, but it is for the majority of them.  Lord J has called Daniel Krispin a villain; perhaps this is just the fact that he's my friend talking, but I don't think this definition is applicable to him.  The real villains are the ones who want to force everyone to believe as they do, and who attempt to silence dissent in furtherance of their ideology, neither of which describes him.  Unfortunately, extremism will not disappear until the conditions that give rise to it are destroyed; thus, the most powerful weapon of thinking people against violent fanatics is simple goodwill in combination with good logistics.  We must defeat poverty, disease, and war; better energy technology and better education will go a long way towards accomplishing that by eliminating the Darwinian need to fight over resources and equipping people to make the most of what they have.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 18, 2008, 01:19:28 am »
Well, those contradictions in religious scripture were made by the scientific system we have, no?  Contradictions in scripture are not the fault of science, but of whoever wrote it.  In fact, the practice of science is not strictly required to pick out doctrinal gaffes, just the practice of logic.

It contradicts their belief, and their is no proof either way of which one is right or wrong (generally speaking). For instance, science (generally speaking) is looking to prove that we started as simple, single celled organisms and over large periods of time became the complex, multi-celled organisms we are now. It is unable to prove this completely, although "Scientific proof and Theories" seem to point at it to be a reality. Religion needs no such proof, because it is stated differently from the beginning.
Did any of that make sense at all? -_-
Let me explain a bit better:
Religion must accept proven facts, it has to. As for unproven things like evolution, religion can reject it, no matter how much evidence makes it seem true, because they have a different answer for it. Maybe the day will come when these things are answered indefinitely and religion will no longer have this ability, but to date, it hasn't happened.
I hope that made sense...

How do you define "proven" then?  There is no more debate on the theory within the scientific community; it is considered as close to factual as it is possible for a theory to be, on par with gravity, relativity and quantum mechanics.

I'm ignorant in this aspect, so correct me if I'm wrong. Has science proven even the existence of a "soul" or "consciousness"? Does it even approach the subject?
As I said, I'm ignorant in this aspect, so fill me in, please. ^^;

When I speak of a soul, I am speaking in a strictly figurative sense.  However, we are conscious and have the capability to think, feel and make our own decisions, because of our capacity to learn and analyze information.  As I have no desire to hold wrongheaded ideas, I would encourage anyone who has an objection against this hypothesis to bring it forth.

True he is not alone, and I don't think anyone said he was.
"It is in this that we see how a half-truth can be worse than a lie"
I see where you're going with this, and I would like to challenge you with this:
Almost all science is a half-truth, in a way. Many things that are accepted by nearly everyone have not even been fully proven (Like the Gravity thing earlier). Does this stop you from believing them because they are only a "half-truth", so to speak? Obviously, Gravity is a bit more than a half-truth, but you get the idea, I think.
I agree with you with the religion statement, but bear in mind that many, many people still believe it to be true. I don't see the "cutting" of religion is society's near future, if it even happens at all.

When I say half-truth, I am not referring to unproven ideas, but to truth mixed with lies.

Meh, you're making the same error I did. Religion (Christianity, in this example) is indeed sexist. It clearly states how men should live their lives differently then women. It also clearly states that men are in control of women. Is this a bad thing? Well, I think so. Society doesn't seem to think so, however, as you stated. Many individuals think it's unfair, however.
Obviously, the gender's role in nature is different. But why should their roles in society be different? And since sexism IS a part of society, what is the solution? How can we cleanse ourselves from this? Can we even get everyone to realise that this is a problem that needs to be cleansed? On that note, who's to say whether it truly IS a problem at all? We've lived as a species with this for a very long time now, and achieved a lot of outstanding things, so is this actually preventing us from evolving as a species? I personally have had enough of the splicing in society, but many people disagree. -_-

I sure as hell think it's unfair to shoehorn someone into a role based on whether or not they have a penis.

Oh my gosh, finally, an atheist who doesn't blame religion for this has played a part in this thread. On that note, good thinking.
Indeed, sexism and what not are in humanity's genes. Perhaps not the genes, but it has been so well fertilized and grown in our society it may as well be. Again, I would ask "What is the solution for this?". I always see people realising this, but nobody has any ideas of how to fix this. Other than cutting off religion completely, but I still say it would exist in society, as it has been here for far too long.

I do blame religion where it deserves it; for the Inquisition, the Crusades, the massacre of the Native Americans, 9/11, and the Iraq war.  I also blame the Abrahamic faiths for condoning slavery, as well as for the numerous atrocities of the Old Testament.

Interesting, a tool used for aeons to control mankind into submission. Indeed, hell is an interesting subject. Perhaps ZeaLity is correct when saying that mankind can never evolve as long as we are looking at our lives through the lens of an afterlife. On that note, we've been doing it for, well, forever. I don't see the "lens" disappearing from humanity completely. Humanity is afraid of death, so it has devised an afterlife to save them from this torment. Can we overcome this fear?

Theoretically, if you kept a reserve of fresh genetic material and kept cloning new organs for yourself as old ones failed, you could live forever.  Alternatively, going full-cyborg could facilitate immortality; believe it or not, that level of technology isn't too far off.  But even absent those technologies, the idea of an afterlife which we cannot prove stifles efforts to make this one better by diverting energy away from the pursuit of progress.

Yeah, yet another example of society's (and perhaps humanity's) stupidity. "Religious freedom" in America, yet if you aren't religious of some kind, you are at a loss, here. There's a whole lot of false freedom in America, I tell ya. =P
Not saying that only applies to America, but you get the gist.

It amuses me how Americans still believe they have freedom of speech.  Saying anything that even slightly criticizes the status quo apparently warrants abject censure from the profitmongering, irresponsible corporate whores who dare to call themselves the media.  Say anything that even vaguely opposes America's actions or calls its history into question, and you are branded a traitor; this was demonstrated recently in the response to Jeremiah Wright's sermons, which, aside from AIDS being a government conspiracy, really aren't that far from the truth as far as discrimination against minorities goes; America has had an abysmal track record.  We annihilated the Native Americans, pressed Africans into slavery, passed the Espionage Act and Sedition Act during World War I, incarcerated Japanese-Americans into what were effectively concentration camps during World War II, continue to levy economic oppression upon the lower classes, and again, have a tendency as a nation to discriminate against non-Christians and especially people who subscribe to no faith at all.

Religion is not a prison, no matter what anybody tries to pull. That is a personal opinion, not a fact. To be religious is not something that is destroying someone's life. As I stated in a post a while back:
I've known many people, personally, who were destroying their lives with drugs, crime involvement, etc. and found a way to turn their lives around via religion. Is this a prison for them? Of course not, they have found something to live for, no matter how stupid it may look to other people, and are happy with that decision. If there is no afterlife, and they have served a life of servitude, if you will, in vain, but they were happy whilst they did it, then who cares? They were happy whilst they lived and most likely died believing they led a good life. Because you personally wouldn't do it that means that it is wrong? I don't know, that sounds pretty unfair to me. Is that any different than those dumbass religious people who try to shove their religion down your (Generally speaking, not literally "you") throat and tell you why your life is a waste by not being religious? It sounds pretty much the same, if you ask me.
Don't be a missionary for atheism, is my point.

If religion is a prison, it is because many of its principles are not applicable to the modern day, because they were not devised with our current knowledge base in mind.  This would be more forgivable if religion had a method for self-correction of its scripture as science does; as it stands, Abrahamic religion is limited to "interpreting" its verses.  It treats religious literature as divinely revealed truth rather than the philosophical reflections of human beings, which renders it rigid and unaccommodating to new knowledge.

Quote from: J
Humanity inherited sex-specific behavior from its animal past. At the dawn of civilization, these animal roles evolved gradually into cultural attitudes. Over still more time, religion arose and tried to deduce universal truths from the human condition, cementing sexist mores into human society along the way.

I don't think this actually contradicts what I said, though perhaps I failed to make myself clear enough.  It's true that we inherited these cultural attitudes from our animal forebears, but with the rise of intelligent thought, the potential existed even in biblical times for women to throw off the yoke; this had to be suppressed by the patriarchy, and there are in fact many verses in the Pentateuch devoted to furthering the idea of female inferiority - too many, in my opinion, to not be reflective of a concerted effort by the religious caste to maintain male dominance.

General Discussion / Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« on: April 17, 2008, 06:13:50 pm »
*throws away cardboard box, sets off Alert status*

I don't think Daniel's page-6 was ever responded to in detail, mostly because that's when the discussion degenerated into flaming.  If I might allow myself this liberty:

In the same way I can say that, scientifically speaking, there's absolutely no proof for gravity. There is proof for a cause and effect, that is, when you drop something, the natural effect is that it falls. To some extent it is a little absurd (from a certain point of view) to postulate a massive, invisible, force that acts on all things in the universe that causes this action. In some ways, then, gravity becomes not unlike the postulation of God (this is, note, a viable philosophical thought... not infallible, of course, but it is worth considering.) If we can look at the effects of certain actions and, to explain them, postulate a massive force called 'gravity', why is it any more absurd to postulate that for the general effects we see in the universe there is an invisible acting force called 'god'?

Gravity is simply a name we have given to a nameless concept.  The reason it is less absurd than a universal god is because we can logically deduce its nature from its effects; any scientific hypothesis we might make about "gravity" can be tested via experiment.  By contrast, God as popularly conceptualized is impossible to truly test for, and all attempts at it have reflected this impossibility.  Some individual conceptions of God can be proven wrong, either by being shown to directly conflict with physical reality or via inconsistencies in their description (of which the Bible has more than a few given the clash between the vengeful OT God and the more merciful NT iteration), but until we have a theory of everything, it will be impossible to make a general statement.  One may, however, argue that the definition of a god is relative, which could potentially, given a lot of time and technological advance, allow for such an entity to exist in physical reality.  To ordinary humans, Lavos is so powerful that he might as well be god; he could crush any of us like ants.  And to ants, we are as gods ourselves.  Yet nothing is invincible; even ideas are not completely bulletproof, and so far an idea is all we have of God, an idea which is more often than not expressed within the constraints of self-aggrandizement.

Anyway, some thoughts to consider, BZ. Another thing you can reasonably call into question is causality itself. Who is to say that cause and effect are anything more than the way our mind interprets events? That's a tougher one to explain, mind you. But anyway, what it comes down to is, to semi quote a rather venerable figure from film, 'you'll find that a lot of the things you think are true depend greatly on your own point of view.' In this case, that you're human. Call this holding back science or what you will, but it's no less logical or proveable than science itself, and as such must be regarded.

Causality has to do with our perception of time relative to our surroundings.  Said perception is dependent on velocity; the dilation of time is equal to one divided by the Lorentz factor.  If we were made up of particles with complex mass (and thus native FTL velocity), we could very well perceive causality as working in the opposite direction, at least for irreversible processes.

I'd like to add a further caveat by saying that the entirety of science and the scientific method has sketchy ground for being 'true' as well. Tell me, what's the grounding for its truth? What is the grounding for a sensory perception (which are the bases for empirical scientific inquiry.)? In fact, the only reason we believe it true is because of circular reasoning. We believe something we see to be true because we believe it. Because it is tehre, and we see it there, and all that sort of thing. Science, and the scientific method, is self affirming. The scientific method is held to be right because it agrees with the scientific method. Hm? Anyone see a problem with this? Now not that I think we should stop using it. It has shown itself to be practically excellent. But we must remember it's not infallible and that, moreover, it is doing the equivalent of judging things by its own standards for the reason that it is considered standard. Nothing else you can say can prove the absolute infallibility of the scientific method. What's a true belief, after all? It must be Justified, Objectively True, and Believed... and then is a true belief. Well, any bit of science might be heartily believed (like any religion), might be entirely Justified (unlike some religious beliefs), but Objectively True? We can't by nature know that. If you tell me 'well, we have evidence...' that's making it more JUSTIFIED (which, also, is a little bit subjective itself.) But the objective truth of a thing is absolutely impossible to know. As such, we can never have True Objective Beliefs. What we do have is what I like to call Subjective Beliefs. We know things to be Subjectively True (that is, we use judgments to affirm the truth of the matter, which is cheating a little bit, but works practically.)

They didn't stop teaching math after Godel's incompleteness theorem.  It may be impossible to prove the consistency of a system from within the system, and it may even be that using the scientific method requires a certain measure of faith in the consistency of logic, but so far there has never been an incident in which a logical contradiction has been shown to exist in the real world, whereas contradictions have been shown to exist in religious scripture of all stripes.

And now, ZeaLitY. This is a doozy here. I know, I know, you won't like it. But just remember: don't be closed minded in calling me closed minded, eh? Understand the chains of your own belief, and your own very strong dogmatic tendencies. The greatest lie people can set upon themselves is thinking themselves free when they're not... few delusions are greater.

I could respond to this with the idea that quantum mechanics obliterates the idea of determinism in the Laplacian sense, but there are so many more elegant critiques that could be made.  QM in and of itself does no harm to the idea of probabilistic determinism, but within that framework there is still a chance that one can carve out their own destiny.  Even further, technological advance may well wipe out what we have come to think of as human limitations.  At a superficial level, cyberization, genetic engineering, and micromachine-driven neurosurgery may render average people capable of performing feats of strength, endurance, and intellect that currently are held to be superhuman, or at the very least reserved for the most accomplished and genetically fit humans in existence.  But only information, pure and undiluted, is capable of freeing someone to act upon their own desires; dreams rarely die because they are not wanted enough, but rather because they are not approached correctly.  In fact, consciousness - the "soul" if you will - is composed of nothing but information; this can be seen in the simple fact that people change over time as they are exposed to more information, as well as the stances they take due to their own iteration of logic.  The entire discipline of artificial intelligence is predicated on this idea; in function, the brain is essentially a biological computer, albeit limited by its chemical origins.  By expanding one's knowledge, one is expanding one's self.  This philosophy, that of the death of the mundane, animalistic "soul" and the birth of truly complex, inquisitive consciousness in all humans, is what I have come to believe stands the best chance of breaking the chains of fate placed upon us by the primal muck from which we rose.

ZeaLitY, you have no idea how close you sound to the people in that video. And I don't mean the curators of the musem, I mean the fundamentalist. You're a fundamentalist humanist, and it's driving you to make rash, overarching statements that have no actual empirical foundation - or, worse, have some foundation, but are interpreted to say what you want to believe. It's a classic example of making the facts fit what you want to believe, rather than the other way about.

He is not alone in this, especially on the Internet.  More than a few have seen the deleterious effects of religious fundamentalism, especially in the last few years, and take the philosophy that some healthy tissue (if it exists, which many would dispute) must be cut out to get rid of the cancer.  In any religious system, or truly in any type of belief system, you will find some or the other fragment of truth; if a belief structure was assembled entirely out of frauds and falsehoods, it would be exposed for its mendacity in short order.  It is in this that we see how a half-truth can be worse than a lie; the same logical process that leads to the conclusion that murder is wrong can be supplemented by faulty but correct-sounding logic in order to prohibit stem cell research.

Equality? Yes, religion has been. I'm going to catch hell from certain poeple for saying that, but the vindication is that religion has tended to be more equal than the societal factors surrounding it. It's in religion that women, as priestesses and the like, often had a lot of power, equal to or greater than men. It has been society which has done the opposite. And it makes sense. Why have women been considered inferior? Because of their physical weakness, because of their role in child rearing, any number of things that have social causes, not religious. After all, in religion, which looks at things on a spiritual matter... why would women be considered lesser? If it's otherwise it's because carnal, social, aspects are intruding into the religion. Be careful that you see this distinction.

Religions themselves tend to come into existence in response to social conditions; those belief structures which both appeal to some element of human psychology and are capable of accommodating a wide range of cultural traditions are the ones which spread and acquire followers.  One cannot say that they exist as an entity apart from their societal context.  Christianity is an excellent example of this, as was its fated albatross, the Roman Empire.  Whenever Rome would occupy a new region, they would attempt to incorporate the social mores and customs of the area into the larger network of the empire, and no area serves this thesis better than Judea.  Christianity acted likewise when proselytizing; we can see this today in the existence of Christmas trees and even in the date selected to celebrate Jesus' birth, both of which were pagan in origin.

The mistreatment of women originated in evolutionary concerns rather than religious control, though the two are often intertwined; the female of the species controls reproductive access.  In order to subvert this, males used their physical strength to create a social system under which women are considered property, and codified religious laws to support this.  Whether one subscribes to a religion or not, that it has frequently been used as a tool of hegemonic powers is very well-documented.  The anti-religious wish to cut the problem off at its source by removing supernatural justification for earthly oppression.

As far as Ethics goes, you've made a fundamental error in not differentiating between the concepts of salvation and ethics, which are entirely distinct. Let's see how to put this... alright, firstly, you're speaking specifically to the Christian context, because a religion like, say, of the ancient Greeks HAD no sort of hell, or at any rate it only existed for the worst murderers and the like (that is, the prison of Tartaros.) If you're speaking Christian wise, as my father would say, there is no such thing as Christian ethics. The ethics you see espoused in the NT are Stoic values, and aren't much different than many other religions and philosophies deal with. The concept of hell and damnation is entirely different. If looked at properly, it has nothing to do with 'do this/ do that', and is entirely seperate from the question of ethics. However, it does maintain ethics as proper action, and as such, works in accord with that. After all, the NT was not particularly new in saying 'self control is good.' Hell, the Stoics had been saying that for HOW long? Really. However, as far as independant ethics go... you'll find actually adhering to that quite impossible, unless you're willing to go to a great extreme. People don't typically prove themselves moral by nature - often we WANT to be, but we can't. As such, to hold to indepandant ethics often betrays us.

Hell is an interesting subject for me.  You yourself have elucidated its origin in Gehenna, the burning, forsaken place of entropy and ash upon which the people's refuse was laid to rest, as well as that the concept was not incorporated into theology proper for some time.  When made use of by religious authorities, it is invariably as a threat to heretics and unbelievers; I consider this to be tantamount to terrorism in and of itself.  Even profoundly intelligent children who could otherwise easily see through the more ludicrous claims made by the religious can be frightened into submission (not to mention depression and mental illness) by the fear of eternal, fiery torment.

You say cutting out religion is a net positive, but no evidence shows us this. In fact, all the studies show that atheists are more discontent than religious people. Ignore that if you want, but you're betraying your own scientific creed if you do. Religion is not a net negative, and if there religious wars, well... let's just say that WWII, and WWI, had nothing to do with religion. We'll not lack for wars and, in fact, we'll probably end up having Eugenic wars, or some scientifically based thing.

Which studies are you referring to, exactly?  I have seen similar results myself, but correlation does not automatically mean causation.

It has been stated in this thread at some length that in America in particular, atheists are a distrusted minority.  In fact, several state constitutions (including that of my state) possess clauses which bar atheists from holding public office, and there have been more than a few horror stories of people being assaulted on account of their nonbelief.  In a climate so enraptured by an us-versus-them mentality held over from the Cold War, when atheism was (supposedly) a mark of communist sympathies, an atheist is bound to experience discontent.  The American public equates religion with morality, and as such automatically correlates atheism with its inverse, failing to realize that morality is also a societal phenomenon.  There are massive numbers of religious people who simply pick and choose the doctrines from their holy books that they wish to follow; this alone is evidence that morality and religion are not synonymous.  The Greek pantheon in particular seals the deal there; morality in their day was largely dictated by your philosophers rather than priests, as the gods themselves were held to be fickle and petty creatures with no regard for human life, or indeed anything except their own self-interest.

To quote you, you say that 'if you think religion is some sweeping force of good...' Look in the bloody mirror, ZeaLitY: you have a vendetta against religion, and no amount of evidence will convince you that you might be mistaken: you're not even willing to be open to the possibility. The religious can be excused on the grounds that their concepts of Faith allow for a certain aspect of irrationality. You, on the other hand, are shaming the very ideals you espouse in ignoring those facets of the evidence which you find disagreeable. And if you want one major piece of it, look only to the fact that you keep, continually, talking about how religion holds this back and stifles investigation and yadda yadda... yet my very existence, and the way I speak, and Thought moreover, entirely disproves your stance. I am not anti-evolution; I am more than willing to study, heck, whatever; my biases and hints of racism and what not stem more from my ethnic German background (we're a rather racist bunch, we Germans), and entirely extra-religious; I have studied sciences and find great fascination in them (do you remember my theories on temporality? On space/time and time travel?) Tell me, I challenge you, where this has limited my intellect or vision? My very existence disproves your concept of religion, yet you refuse to this this evidence right in front of you. You fail to see it for disproven because you are afraid of the implications. This, ZeaLitY, is the tyranny and fundamentalism that can exist even in science.

In the exercise of your intellect or your vision, have you not conceded that freedom is an ideal worth striving for?  In your own way, that of religion and mythology, you seek to free yourself from temporal concerns and live within a realm of pure philosophy.  What is it, then, that humans can never be free from?

Each time I've seen you post, ZeaLitY, you sound like a machine: you're saying the same trained dialogue of 'science good, religion bad' again and again; I don't know what Napoleon has done this to you, but you'll be finding your beloved leaders of science become so very much like the old religious leaders... pigs to humans, ZeaLitY. Orwell saw it happen to the idealism of Marxism, and we'll see it happen to the idealism of Science as well.

Scientists can be egotistical, authoritarian, and even abusive, the same as priests.  This is not a consequence of science, but of humanity, as the scientific method makes no claim to instruct people on how to behave in their interactions with others.  All it can do is provide experimental support for the hypothesis that one will generally catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  However, the scientific community does tend to censor explanations that are not grounded in methodological naturalism; this is not bias, but merely the practice of good science.

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