Thursday, January 29, 2009

FSM again

sullivan put up another reader's response, so i actually emailed him myself, as follows:

the FSM is meant to point out the unlikeliness that God exists. the statement is that the FSM is as likely as God to exist based on all available evidence. anyone bringing up the FSM thinks that God is very unlikely to exist. the absurdity of the FSM is obviously a jab at theists and hopefully we can look past that for the moment. the reader who posts the following:
takes the question from "is there a god?" to "is there meaning in life?". i think this statement: "But you can no more avoid making a positive choice about the source of meaning in your life and the universe than you can avoid living in some country"serves to prove that point. we were talking about the existence of god, and now he's talking about meaning in your life. atheism is not a positive choice about the source of meaning in life. it is (potentially) a positive choice about the existence of God.
the existence of god is not the same as the existence of meaning in life. i believe my life has meaning (admittedly, probably not as much as a theist, since i have an eternal component, but my life is still meaningful), without believing in God.
the reader who posts here:
takes the question from "is there a god?" to "is there morality?". once again these are not the same question!
(s)he says:"the evidence for God that your last commentator finds lacking is the same kind of evidence which can't be found to support the existence of morality."

i think he means the existence for a source for morality, as evidence of practiced morality abounds in human interaction. But there's a big biological imperative for morality. as social animals our survival is more assured if we work together and behave well towards each other than if we don't. there may be a biological imperative in believing in God as well, which would explain why such beliefs are so universal in human culture. i personally think that God and Religion are arbitrary ways to codify biological imperatives (like morality, cultural taboo, etc) the same way the varied languages that humans have developed are arbitrary ways to codify the biological imperative of being able to communicate clearly and effectively with each other.
the existence of god is not the same as the existence of a source of morality!
these are extremely important distinctions, i think. many people, particularly in this country, seem to think that atheists can not be moral people, or that their lives are meaningless and they thus do whatever they want all the time ( which is already bs, since everyone does what the want (or at least prefers to the alternative) all the time, otherwise they wouldn't do it).
if you can have meaning and morality without god, that diminishes the need for god. with a diminished need for god, more people may actually make decisions on the question of the existence of God based on the (lack of) evidence.
i personally find life and morality to be more powerful and more meaningful without God. we choose to be moral to each other because we decide it is the right thing to do, not because of some external force. we give our lives meaning, whatever meaning we want to, not some external force. i have faith in humanity, not in God, and i personally find that more powerful, even if the ultimate reason is a straight biological imperative (life is good and should be preserved and continued).
thanks for the opportunity to have a reasonable discussion about an often fiery topic.


there's a discussion on andrew sullivans blog about atheism so naturally i will chime in.

thats the most recent post and the reader makes the following points

"They are treating it as an intellectual puzzle rather than what it actually is for every last of us: a lived commitment. "

"Atheists should be forced to articulate their positive position (say, secular humanism) as price of admission to the conversation. So when your reader wants to "put the burden of proof on the one making a specific, positive claim," I simply point out that living your life is a specific, positive claim, and thus everyone has to bear the burden of proof equally."

fine points, if the conversation is "what is the meaning of life", which i think this particular reader would say has a lot to do with god.

but if the question is "is there a god?", then how people live their lives doesnt play any part in that conversation, since, if you posit that god exists, you must posit that he would exist even if there were no people (unless you have some really weird concept of "god"). but we (atheists) certainly all allowed to go on the attack on that question.

so in short, that reader is wrong (or rather is discussing a different question).

Monday, January 26, 2009


microsoft should never have gotten into this market in the first place. it literally makes no difference if their product is superior, the ipod is as much a fashion accessary as anything else, and considering apple had already established a winning name brand in a name-brand contest, it was a bad move.

what the...?

i read Sullivan pretty regularly; his opinions seem pretty well reasoned in general and its pretty rare these days to find a "conservative" that isnt religion crazy or war crazy or what have you (at least i've had trouble with it). so i was pretty surprised to read this quote:

"In the end, I do not experience being Catholic as a choice any more than I experience being gay as a choice. "


this doesnt make any sense to me. Homosexuality is, as far as i'm concerned, not a choice. i think the science is heading that way, it makes sense as a form of population control, my roommate (my resident expert on all things gay) said it wasnt a choice for him (i seem to recall such a conversation anyway). i didnt choose to be straight, i dont know why anyone would _choose_ to be stigmatized, etc etc etc.

but faith definitely _is_ a choice. thats the whole point, i thought. you choose to believe, in spite of the lack of evidence. thats the whole idea behind the sacrament of confirmation; you were too young to choose to believe any of this stuff when you were baptised (which is why your godparents do it for you), but now you're of age and you can choose to do it yourself.

most religious people believe their religion is correct. say for example, Jesus with was, or was not, the Messiah. obviously catholics say yes, others say no, and whichever category you fall into, you belive yourself to be right (of course you do, everyone believes they're right, or else they wouldnt hold whatever believe that is). but if Sullivan is saying he didnt choose to be catholic, isnt he implicitly admitting he's no more right than any other faith? wouldnt that sort of fly in the face of the whole point of religion anyway?

i havent read his book, in which he apparently goes into detail about all this stuff, so i'll try to refrain from making any conclusions. but it was a surprising and confusing quote to run across; if thats how he feels, that he has no choice but to be catholic, i wonder what he even gets out of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

from the proper scope...

..we look like an infestation:

that was my thought anyway when adrian sent me the above link

yes, they should
i disagree with the author of the article (unsurpisingly) on many points, but thats not really worth getting into.

what is interesting is how we handle this case as a society. if we say that parents who do this kind of thing (let their kid die because they dont provide them with basic health care, opting instead for "faith" based healing) are criminally responsible, we would seem to be encroaching on the whole separation of church and state thing. the state would essentially be invalidating faith as a legitimate health care choice. which i'm all for.

what if the parents were to successfully argue something like an insanity defense? that would have some interesting implicationg on the status of religion (ie, its essentially a mental disease).

i think they should do some time. further incentive for any other parents out there not willing to take their kids to the damn hospital. kids should not pay the consequence for their parent's fanatical religious beliefs.

all in all, pretty depressing. what a waste of human life.

we must prosecute bush/cheney
whats been done to these people in our name is completely unforgiveable. we can only begin to make amends, and get our soul back as a country, by prosecuting those responsible. starting at the top.

Friday, January 16, 2009

abortion donuts for all!

ridiculous. these people have their blinders on to such an extent that they actually took the phrase "donut of choice" to mean "donut celebrating abortions" rather than "whichever kind of donut you'd like"

they need lives.

legitimately terrifying

"whatever it takes" is just another way of saying the ends justify the means.

this is the scariest thing i've read in awhile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

altitudinal control seems limited...
which will prevent this essentially self-propelled hangglider from ever being really useful IMO.

i'm listening to...

Stevie Ray Vaughn pandora station. excellent.

should be common sense....

gee, integrating writers into the rest of the game developement is a good idea? what a surprise. games will never become a mature narrative artform so long as writers are kept away from the rest of the process. portal was developed by a tiny team and a big part of the reason its such an artistic success is because everyone on the team was at least aware of the the other parts of the game and were thus able to produce a cohesive whole.

the latest prince of persia was relly well written IMO. perhaps a whole post on that at some point

Tuesday, January 13, 2009