Archive for April, 2011

A Three Sentance Book Review Of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Posted on April 30, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Canadian Politics, Humour, Random |

This is the best thing I have read on the internet ever!

 There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

From the comments on this site (originally attributed to John Rogers- thanks be to Mary for the correction…)

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On Debating With Theists….

Posted on April 18, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion |

Today I read (and watched) two posts that deal with what happens when atheists and theists discuss religious claims.  One is a video from “The Atheist Experience” that was brought to my attention by my good friend Dan of Camels With Hammers.  The other is a post by Christian friend of this blog John Barron Jr. of Truth in Religion and Politics, where he waxes nostalgic about a debate he had with an atheist on the subject of the burden of proof in debates.  Both are worth checking out for entirely different reasons.

The “Atheist Experience” clip shows what happens when theists make unsubstantiated claims and then honestly follow their own logic.   A weaker man would have resorted to changing the subject, or getting angry, or hanging up, but the caller honestly listens to the host and eventually concedes the point.

In the other post, John argues that if someone wants to claim that any statement is false, they must come prepared with evidence- that to take a stand against a proposition, you must first prove that proposition false.  Though I agree that we ought to be willing to back up our claims, I still hold that all propositions are not created equal:

From “Win By Default” by John Barron Jr:

In any discussion there is no default position, since once a proposition is offered, there are only three options, and two of them must be defended:

  • Affirm the proposition.

If someone offers “P is true”, and you concede P is true, there is nothing more to discuss.  The debate is over.

  • Deny the proposition.

If someone offers “P is true”, and you deny the truth of P, your position if skepticism does not protect you from defending your position.  Neither the one affirming, or the one denying the existence of the plane is correct by default.  Since before the claim is made, there is no position at all, there is nothing to defend.  But once P is offered in either direction, no one is correct by default.  A denial is in fact a position.

  • Withhold judgement for further information.

Here you are neither affirming or denying P, and thus are offering no position, and have a burden of proof.  It is only this soft-Agnosticism which bears no burden.  But this is not what GOD or the skeptic argues.  Like affirming P, this also ends the discussion.

It is important to realize no one sits in a position of privilege in any discussion.  Everyone has an opinion, and every opinion requires justification.

Anyhow, the video is 12 minutes of pure genius, and John’s post will leave you with something to think about…even if it is a bit convoluted.

Follow the links, and I welcome discussion.

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My Personal Ruminations On The Coming Federal Elections-Part 1: The Illusion Of Choice

Posted on April 7, 2011. Filed under: Canadian Politics, Humour, Personal, Politics, Social Justice |

There is an election coming up here in Canada.  Most of my American readers won’t have more than just a passing curiosity at that statement; for those who care though, here are my feelings regarding the choices I face.

Canada has a federal election at the discretion of our Prime Minister, barring a vote of non-confidence, about every four years or so- with a single term limited to a maximum of five years.  Does that sound confusing?  You betcha!  What it amounts to is this.  The effective head of our federal government can call an election whenever he wants (with approval from the Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Canada) within his or her five year mandate.  Tradition dictates this happens every four or so years, assuming that the Prime Minister has the confidence of the Parliament.  If the Members of Parliament vote non-confidence, either directly or by refusing passage of important legislation (the budget being the most important), then the Governor General must either dissolve Parliament or ask the opposition if they are able to form a coalition government in place of the current regime.  Still sound confusing?  You don’t know the half of it….The good news is that if you understood everything I just said then you know more than the average voter in this election.

Our current Prime Minister is Stephen Harper, the Emperor Palpatine of Canadian Politics. He is the leader of the Conservative Party, and with 143 of a total 308 seats in the House of

Stephen "Emperor Palpatine" Harper

Commons (Parliament), he has a minority government.  This means that to pass legislation with a 50% majority, he needs to depend on the votes of at minimum 12 opposition Members.  The Last Federal election was October of 2008, when Harper increased his seat count, and this last term was his third as a minority Prime Minister.

The election is scheduled for May 2nd, and it essentially exists as a two horse race between the Conservatives under the leadership of Harper and the Liberals under the leadership of Micheal Ignatieff, the Jar-Jar Binks of Canadian politics- to stick with the same franchise.  If you are a betting man, I’ll place odds right now that Harper will still be Prime Minister May 3rd, but with a slightly smaller seat count.  If it is quite a bit smaller, I also expect an NDP-Liberal coalition in the near future, and this wouldn’t be a horrible thing.  Well, other than having

Michael "Iggy" Ignatieff

to watch the Canadian political equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks on my T.V. more frequently.

So here lie my choices.  There are really four parties that field decent candidates in my home riding, and I’ll introduce those not privy to the intricacies of Canadian politics to those four parties now. If you want to get an idea of who you might vote for if you were a Canadian, or if you are a Canadian who doesn’t know who to vote for, here’s a great little Vote Compass that CBC News is offering. It asks a series of policy questions and places you on a graph with the major parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, which I will discuss briefly at the end of this post. The four National parties, in order of current seat count in the House of Commons,  are… (more…)

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Why Willian Lane Craig Is A Vacuous Tit: Part 1

Posted on April 6, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

Dr. Lawrence Krauss, Professor of Physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, recently debated Dr. William Lane Craig,  in a debate entitled “Is there evidence for God?”.  The debate is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.  I plan to have a follow up post based on the debate tactics and apologetics of Craig, and as a primer I wanted to offer the insight of someone who has actually debated him.  So without further ado, here is the ruminations of Dr. Krauss on his debate with Craig, which is available on Facebook, as well as a video of the debate.

A response and perspective on debate with Craig.

by  Lawrence Krauss

It sometimes surprises me, although it shouldn’t, how religious devotees feel the need to regularly reinforce their own convictions in groups of like-minded individuals.   I suppose this is the purpose of regular Sunday church services, for example, to reinforce the community of belief in between the rest of the week when the real world may show no evidence of God, goodness, fairness, or purpose. (more…)

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