Science

The Parable of The Angry Fundamentalist New-Agey Cafeteria Christian

Posted on February 25, 2014. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Original Sin, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science, Social Justice |

Or Why I Don’t Think Your “Angry Fudamentalist Atheist” Exists, Any More Than I Think A Cogent Argument Exists In Your Article

“I believe that science offers solid evidence for God,” she said- eyes peering over her hot cup of coffee.
Was she engaging me because she knows I’m an atheist blogger, I wondered?

"Coffee Talk"-Image by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

“Coffee Talk”-Image by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

Wendy was the wife of a close friend, who had done me a solid the week before. To express my gratitude, I was treating her to coffee at one of those swanky $10 latte joints. Was she trying to be argumentative? I didn’t want an argument. I flashed a coy smile. “Well, I’m not here to judge your personally held beliefs,” I said, “but for the record, the God you believe in is probably so vague that it is immaterial for us to argue the point,” I was trying to diffuse any hostility and maybe open a dialogue about her confused cafeteria Christianity, since she brought it up. She was having none of it.

“No,” she said leaning forward, “I still believe in the biblical God” her words loud enough to push me back in my chair. I tried to pacify her. “I’m not interested in shadowboxing a vaguely effective but specifically affected triune God. You can self-identify how you please ” I said, trying to avoid the inevitable.

“I believe in all of it!” She was becoming increasingly hostile. I was unsure how to respond. Her husband also identified as Christian, but we’d had a great discussion about skepticism as well as relationships, friends and past experiences on a road trip all the way from Toronto to New York City. As I was parsing a reply she cut me off before I could drop a syllable, “I think science and philosophy prove the Christian God.”

Should I tell her I that science can not and will not vindicate personal faith? That the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which infers a more dynamic universe than we previously imagined, doesn’t mean what Deepak Chopra thinks it means? That even the loosest allegorical reading of the Bible is entirely inconsistent with what we understand from evolutionary biology and geology, that there is no place for anything more than the most uninterested of Gods as the artistic author of creation- like the man who first created the first rectangular wooden frame taking credit for the Mona Lisa? It seemed she was more interested in contorting her faith into an abstract forgery of science that might look science-y if you tilted your head and squinted really hard from 100 yards. I wondered if she had ever read a peer-reviewed article in her life. I tried my best to explain.

“You know,” I sighed, “There have been so many discoveries in biology and physics in the past hundred and fifty years, it’s a shame that they haven’t been understood by the informed general public. They talk as though we’re still talking about large gaps in knowledge that could as easily be filled by God as by curiosity. Anything more specific than a ‘Prime Mover’ requires increasingly intricate apologetics that render the biblical Word impotent at best and demonstrably false at worst, leaving someone arguing for the bible as The Word Of God–a God who is like a puppeteer pulling strings, controlling the progression of life, saying, ‘I shall redeem you of Original Sin through faith in Me’- without anything more than naked faith in Bronze Age mythology. That’s nutty. That’s not an open mind, that’s creating religious fan fiction”

She broke in. “But God is an awesome God who used scientific laws to bring forth His Creation!”

“Let’s roll with that idea for now,” I interjected, hoping that my concession might stop her from bottling up, “but you must have some immutable traits of the God you believe in. Everyone does, and many Christians have the same concept of what makes their God uniquely Christian. That He felt His creation was perfect. That He created man in His likeness. That we are cursed by His anger. That He is perfectly moral and just- that salvation can come only through belief in Him.  That He performed and continues to perform miracles big and small. Those facts are definitional to your God. If you claim to be a Christian you must choose to ‘believe’ your God possesses these attributes. Yet all of these premises are logically incompatible with each other- and are equally incompatible with what science has shown us.  Imagine what it would be like if you simultaneously agreed that you were a virgin and the mother of your children, and yet that’s exactly the inconsistency of your epistemology!” I chuckled, knowing that she would immediately get the inside joke. I thought the analogy was apt, that it might make her ask more questions. It didn’t.

“The Bible is as much allegorical as literal” she quipped. “I believe that no inconsistencies exist between facts and the Word of God . I told you: I believe that science proves Christianity!” She rhymed off an incoherent word salad of Deepak Chopra buzzwords. She was becoming increasingly agitated. She started to talk about the very personal experiences she had that made her certain of God. I listened. She raised the holocaust as an example of atheism inspired nihilism, along with some horrors that she thought proved Free Will.

I obliged. “I agree there are horrible people in the world.”

“It’s not just people, it’s the wages of sin. But with such a world, how could you deny we need salvation?” she asked. It was an honestly asked but dishonestly pondered question.

I still proceeded as though I was talking to a liberal thinker, open to discussion. I knew her to be quite liberal on other issues, such as politics and sex. So I took a swig of my Venti fair trade Peruvian dark roast and plunged in, “You know, I think I have something insightful to say about this,” I offered. “If a religion is going to take root and spread- it has to have some explanatory value to the people who adopt it.  If a religion said ‘people are always benevolent’ then you could imagine how worthless that religion might be to people seeking an explanation for observed phenomena.  Religions start the same way science does- with an interesting and perplexing question.  The difference is the process used to provide an answer.  Science tests a hypothesis, religion dictates an answer.  We ‘appear’ to be sinful not because we fell from perfection but because we are risen from instinct.”

“I already told you, I think God is necessary for science to work- Who created the laws of nature and physics?” she interrupted. In her head Laws were created for man, man was not a creation of the laws . I stopped. I wanted to ask what she thought science really said about spirituality, the appropriation and perversion of physics, the hijacking of great thinkers like Einstein and Bohm, who would never have imagined their complicated work being obfuscated to lend credibility to the dubious claims of touchy-feely New Age Mystics. I wanted to, but I didn’t because I realized she didn’t want to engage with the questions; she already knew all the answers. She wasn’t interested in an informed and honest discussion. That’s when I realized….

I was talking to a fundamentalist. What I was saying threatened her very identity and construct of life. My coffee shop companion knew that God existed, and by God the knowns are going to fit the narrative whether they require reshaping or not. Most people adjust their beliefs to new evidence, she just makes the evidence sound something like her belief. Where I would adjust my narrative, she would adjust the knowns. I remembered being told that her mother died a few years ago. Clearly she had wrapped that faith around her like a security blanket.

This was not my first time trying to discuss science with a fundamentalist, but every other time they were Young Earth Creationists or Climate Deniers. The whole conversation seemed eerily similar. I was talking to someone who claimed to know exactly how ‘it’ is, who believed in a flexible, infinite, and compassionate universe that was designed to nurture them (despite every available fact in biology, astronomy and physics) and believed it with a kind of pseudoscientific cognitive dissonance as dogmatic as Biblical literalism.

A fundamentalist is not willing to consider the unsettling possibility that the universe is governed by immutable, explainable, and observable rules that require no intervention in order to function.  A fundamentalist will systematically disabuse themselves any part of a fact that might contradict his/her epistemology or faith, be it carbon dating or theoretical physics. A fundamentalist does not want to examine specifics and presuppositions, or really study and understand concepts, scientific or philosophical, that otherwise could be twisted into ignorant half-truths–similar to the bumper sticker slogan of Biblical literalists, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”  The new fundamentalists say “God said it, I wan’t so badly to believe it- that I’ll make the facts agree with it.”

When did Liberal Christians become the new fundamentalists? I have known many Liberal Christians beginning with the Pastor of my past church, who passionately defended the difference between knowledge and faith. But this new breed is different: pompous, unmoved, and belligerent, insistent that science owes them absolution from the sin of blind faith.   These people feel that fundamentalism is the opposite of what they profess, because they have staked out the middle ground. There is no virtue in the middle ground when you are discussing facts- any more than I might call you open minded because I want gays to have equal rights, someone else thinks they should have no rights- and you want to compromise that science recently suggested that “gay” might not even exist. My mind is not blown.  I’m nonplussed. And do you need to be so angry?

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The Venus Project: Everything Wrong With Utopian Fantasy In 108 Simple Questions.

Posted on February 24, 2014. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Politics, Science, Social Justice |

Climate change denial.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Creationism.
Birthers.

We spend an inordinate amount of time as liberals making fun of the teabagging wingnut nutjobs and their seriously delusional conspiracies.  It makes us feel superior.  It makes us feel smart.  It makes us feel gratified, justified, and warm inside.
But it also helps us ignore the fact that there are some liberals with some very ignorant and intellectually lazy ideas.

Anti- GMO.
Anti-Vax.
Alternative medicine.

We don’t have a monopoly on rational thought.  In fact, if “Rational Thought” was a game of Monopoly, some of us would still be trying to unfold the board with the thimble up our nose.  People believe lots of silly stuff because it is epistemologically expedient.  Liberals trend toward anti-corporatism, so Big Agra and Big Pharma must be nefarious.  Natural is always better.

So it doesn’t surprise me that so many of my liberal friends fall head over heels in love with The Venus Project.  It is as though someone sat down to write liberal porn inspired by a crack bender they once had with Karl Marx while watching a Star Trek marathon. It’s an intoxicating, confusing, and entertaining  pile of escapism.

If you don’t want to read through my enlightening FAQ and just want the tl;dr- there are three main facts that I think cannot be disputed when discussing the Venus Project:

  1. The Venus Project is a cult.  Every person who knows anything about the Venus Project knows that the ideas,
    Image from wikipedia

    Image from wikipedia

    mission, and credit belong to one person.  You can’t navigate a page on their website or magazine without seeing the name Jacque Fresco.  Even when he is spectacularly wrong, his acolytes can’t muster more than tepid deference. The only argument you can make against this is that a cult traditionally has a charismatic leader, and Jacques Fresco has all the personality of Joe Leiberman on Unisom.

  2. The Venus Project is naive scientism.  Science is not going to solve all the worlds problems, it’s just not.  It’s not going to make human dynamics less complicated and it’s not a panacea to every imaginable problem.  Sometimes problems require more than just an invention or technology.  Even if Jacque Fresco could invent a machine to bring Nikola Tesla back to life- it still wouldn’t solve all our problems.  Well, most of them.  But not all.
  3. Jacque Fresco knows how to design a building.  Jacque Fresco does not know how to design a society or an economy.  He certainly doesn’t know anything about sociology, psychology or economics.  He is a futurist- but unless technology can make humans behave like algorithms- he is just blowing smoke.

The rest of this post will be my attempt to answer the FAQ on The Venus Project website.  Are my answers flippant?  Sure.  I would argue they are no more flippant (and far more honest) than what you will find on their site.  Each question is linked to the FAQ page of The Venus Project website, and I invite readers to click through and see the answers provided there- which in many cases are more evasive and more comical than my own.

Frequently Asked Questions (With Answers)

1.What is The Venus Project?

The Venus Project is the reason Jacque Fresco is awesome.  In fact, Jacque Fresco is so awesome, he is the Jacque Fresco of Jacque Frescos.  The Venus Project is an organization created by Jacque Fresco to reshape our human existence by plagiarizing 1950’s Sci-Fi drawings and selling them back to you as an ideal future.   The Venus project is the Jacque Fresco of Utopian Sci-Fi organizations.
From the 19th century until the 1950’s, science fiction authors and artists imagined the planet Venus as a warm, habitable world filled with lush vegetation, new discoveries and boundless wonder- until science came along and spoiled all their fun by proving Venus to be a brutally unlivable hell-hole where it rains sulfuric acid.  From a distance, the planet appears to be great but on closer inspection it is unfit for human habitation.  In this way, the Venus Project is apparently quite aptly named.

2.What is a Resource-Based Economy?

A resource-based economy is one where we continue to use resources but stop using money to represent the ownership of those resources.  It’s so awesome, some people say it’s the Jacque Fresco of economic systems.
I know what you’re thinking- it’s going to be hard to fit three T-bone steaks and a pound of lentils in the pocket of your jeans when you want to buy the new Zeitgeist documentary on Blu-Ray.  That’s okay, because you won’t have to! You just go and pick it up at the store- because resources are all shared.  And by shared I mean rationed, because you can’t just get whatever you want. We call it “sharing” because we won’t have to ration because you are only ever going to ask for what you need because we are all totally unselfish. Get it? It’s kind of like communism but this is not communism because it’s called a resource-based economy. It’s totally different because it has a different name.
If you want to learn more about a resource-based economy, just send a cheque or money order (sorry, we do not accept resources) to The Venus Project for their fantastic book on the subject- The Best That Money Can’t Buy.

3.Why do you feel that an approach as revolutionary as The Venus Project is necessary?

Our current system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit.  Therefor, we have to tear the whole thing down and start all over from scratch- because Jacque Fresco is the world’s most awesomist inventor but he can’t figure out how to work within a monetary paradigm.  He’s the Jacque Fresco of visionaries.

4.Isn’t it just decent people that we need in government?

We don’t need government.  We need benevolent plutocrats making all the important decisions.  Nothing could possibly go wrong with expecting a privileged few people to always choose the best possible policy for the use and distribution of resources.  It will be like a fiefdom, except that all the things you hate about fiefdoms will be different.

5.Elaborate a bit, if you will, on your views regarding money.

Are you going to buy one of my books or DVDs?  Are you going to tour our headquarters?
I guess what I’m asking is “Is this a trick question?”

6.What are some of the detrimental effects of The Monetary System?

It forces me to ask you for money, so there’s that.

7.You mentioned economic collapse in your book. Do you believe this is the only way our society can escape a monetary economy?

Yes.  Incidentally, waiting for an economic collapse allows me to continue to collect donations without having to, you know, do anything.
It’s a win-win.

8.Wouldn’t there be Resistance of the Rich and Powerful?

No.  People in the future will love giving up all their wealth. Because in the future, science is magic!

9.In the idea of future, do you think that the regional differences will still have the greatest influence as they do today? Or will these differences disappear?

In the idea of the future, I think that regional differences no will longer have the as great influences.  Like spambots will talk similar to others. This question makes super quality, and to help others to understand the qualities better.

10.What types of pressures would be alleviated in The Venus Project’s designs?

Why?  Do you feel pressured?  Come and lie down in this building shapes like some boobs.

11.What is the single most important aspect of the project?

Collecting donations for The Venus Project.

12.What is the Plan?

The plan has four phases:

  1. Build a place in Florida for Jacque Fresco to live.  Ask people to pay lots of money to see it. This step is done.
  2. Make a movie.  Ask people to pay lots of money to buy it on DVD.
  3. Build an experimental city.  Ask people to pay lots of money to have it built.
  4. Build a theme park.  Ask people to pay lots of money for admission.  Interactive displays will explain why if you give us more money, some day you won’t have to use money to get into theme parks.

13.How do you see the collapse of the present system occurring?

With your eyes.
See what I did there?

14.How do we get from here to there?

By adding a “t”.
See what I did there?

15.What are the first steps taken toward a global resource based economy?

Step 1: Wait for the economy to collapse.
In the meantime, you are welcome to make all donations payable to The Venus Project.

16.What can be “the turning point” of the future? Do you have any idea about it?

I have lots of ideas.

17.How would you describe the recent economic crisis? Can it be a lesson in today’s society?

I would describe it as a crisis.  A crisis of the economic sort.
The lesson is “I told you so.”

18.By the way, what do you think about the “New World Civilization”?

Is that like the “New World Order”?  Because I understand people don’t like that.
So it’s nothing like that.

19.You couldn’t just plop the first city down and expect people to respect it…. you would need to slowly develop the cities as it becomes harmonized with the evolving social consciousness. What are some of the steps to accomplish this?

  1. Send us money.
  2. We will use the money to inform people why it is a good idea.
  3. Send us more money.
  4. We will use the money to make a DVD that costs $30
  5. Send us more money
  6. We will build a city once the economy collapses.
    Any questions?

20.What is, and what do you think about it, the relationship between habitat and place of living? Which variables do you consider in conceiving architecture, or even a city?

Are you the same guy who wrote question #9?  Also, that’s a great porn site linked to your comment, too bad it’s in Cyrillic.

21.I noticed a certain nearness between your thinking and the French architect Le Doux about the concept of ideal city: do you believe that the eighteenth century idea of ideal city could apply also to a future city?

Le Doux is the Jacque Fresco of Eighteenth Century architecture.
In other words, he’s awesome.

22.What would you consider to be the most difficult technological hurdle to overcome before building the Circular City?

I don’t understand.  Building a Circular City is as easy as Pi.

23.Many of your designs seem to reflect retro-mod trends. What was your thinking behind the shapes and the black/white façades of the structures?

I’m old.
My conception of the future was cemented in 1952.

24.What would be done with the old cities?

Rebel bases for people who think having no choices is dystopian.

25.What main concepts do you keep in mind whenever you design structures or transportation?

WWJVD?  What Would Jules Verne Do?

26.Can you briefly describe the process you used in designing the Circular City? What factors were most important?

I started by making a circle.  Then I placed buildings in the circle.  It was important to make it circular since I wanted to call it the Circular City.
In the first draft it was shaped like a rhombus.  This made it hard to call it the Circular City.

27.What kind of change do you expect in architecture?

In the future, architecture changes you.

28.How would one choose a home?

In the future, home chooses you.

29.Is everything going to be easier than today regarding the materials we use at home, for example, white goods, furniture, etc.? Then, how is it going to be changed?

Science will make everything easy.  They will be changed to be more science-y.
Also, you need to, you know, possibly try to, just, maybe, lay off the use of so many commas.

30.In your project new social mentality is introduced. What novelties in architectural forms and constructions does the Venus project offer?

Civilization is going to collapse.  We are going to enter a period of unprecedented social disorder.  Our economy is going to tank and billions of humans are going to be systematically displaced by the unrest.
So by all means, let’s talk about how cool it will be to live in a geodesic dome.

31.What kind of change do you expect in health equipment?

Health equipment will be better because science.

32.What kind of change do you expect in communication?

Communication will be better because, well, science.

33.What kind of change do you expect in transport?

Transportation will be worse.
Just kidding!
Science!

34.Is it possible to see flight cars in the near future?

Will giving you a flying car distract you from the fact that none of this is plausible?
It will?
Then yessss…..

35.What kind of change do you expect in urban development?

See questions 31 through 33.

36.From a technological point of view – is the Venus project real?

No.

37.Are there necessary materials, technologies of constructing and maintenance of eco-cities nowadays?

Nowadays we are pretty close. Tomorrowadays, anything is possible.

38.What present-day materials, technologies can be used in constructing the Venus project?

Imagination.

39.What scientific developments (materials, technologies) should be done to realize your project?

We need to create a machine that takes hopeless pipe dreams and converts them into reality.  I expect such an invention in the next few years.

40.How do you imagine the building processes of the projects – standard, using prefabricated units or some other technologies?

I imagine. That’s a good way of putting it.

41.Is there a preliminary cost of this kind of the complex? Is it cheaper or not?

It should be cheaper because nobody gets paid to build things in the future.

42.In your opinion, when will such towns be constructed?

There are already towns like this.  Since they weren’t built by Jacque Fresco we don’t talk about them.

43.Is there any one field of discipline you find most promising right now, as far as technological advancement? Architecture? Material science, perhaps?

Whichever discipline Jacque Fresco is using at the given moment.

44.Could individuals live outside the cities?

They won’t want to because the cities were created by Jacque Fresco.

45.But, what if someone wanted to go out into a remote area, far from the cities?

Why would you want to be far away from the genius of Jacque Fresco?  This question makes no sense.

46.I was trying to think of an intermediate/bridging solution to the problem of automobile collisions. I’m curious as to his thoughts about such a common problem. 6,289,000 occur every year.

We need to wait for the economy to collapse so I can give you flying cars.  Problem solved.

47.Why is this concept superior to other intentional community projects?

Jacque Fresco.

48.How are Resources Distributed Equitably?

Rationing.  Except I will call it something else because that sounds bad.

49.What is the role of the family?

To distract you from the fact that you have limited choices, exactly like today.

50.What is the approach to professionals running this new society?

We will be getting rid of many professions.  Like lawyers because there will be no crime or disagreements.  And bankers because there will be no money.

51.Will there be a government?

Eventually computers will replace governments because they make better decisions than you can.  You can’t be involved in decisions.

52.What is the role of Cybernation as Decision Makers?

Your robot overlords will always look out for your best interests.  You have nothing to worry about.

53.How do you evaluate the robot conception in the future? As in the science fiction movies, everything is going to be done by robots. Is everything going to be different or will humans be the most effective factor?

Are you that guy from question #9 and #20 again?
I evaluate that conceived robots in future will be awesome. Human effective factors will be different so everything conceived robots factor to be more of an affect.  Science fiction makes robot affects to human factors conceived for evaluation.

I hope this answers your query.

54.Is this what Karl Marx advocated?

No.  Karl Marx didn’t have robots or science.

55.How does The Venus Project Compare with Communism?

It has a cooler name and it is more like Star Trek.

56.How does this system differ from Marxism, besides the technological use?

Because this system was created by Jacque Fresco, and Marxism was created by not Jacque Fresco.

57.How does this differ from Communism?

It has robots, flying cars, and retro-mod architecture.  Will nothing make you happy?

58.Could you respond to the 1949 essay I sent you from Albert Einstein regarding his views on socialism?

He’s a fucking idiot.

59.How can the use of Laws be eliminated?

In the future people won’t do anything wrong.  This makes total sense if you stop thinking about it.

60.In all your books, but most of all in The Best That Money Can’t Buy, you deal among other subjects (as the need to rethink the set of priorities of society, to suppress crime and war, to take care of our planet’s health…) also with the need to understand the close bond that man entertains with nature: which are the properties of the world (planet-society) that have to change to re-establish this bond?

Has this question rally been asked “frequently”? Really?  Worded like this? Why do people keep sending me such poorly worded questions?  This question is barely in English.

61.Wouldn’t change come about through a reasonable and logical progression?

No, change is inherently unreasonable and illogical.  In fact, the change will likely come before the process taken to effect it.  Because logic.

62.What Guarantees People The Right Of Participation?

As long as by “participation” you don’t mean “political participation” or “democratic participation”, then no worries.

63.What do you consider a “high standard of living”, which everyone in the world is entitled to? And who is the one to decide this?

A resource based economy means that the economy has a finite value based on available resources.  Every single person will have the same standard of living regardless of where they live.  This means that the total available resources divided by the number of people on earth will equal the value of your fixed standard of living.
You will have an equal share, but it might be wise to keep any large boxes handy- just in case we have a resource shortfall and you need, you know, a place to sleep or something.

64.Who makes the decisions in a resource based economy?

Your robot overlords. We already discussed this.

65.Will people all be alike?

No. Some people will be happy being housepets to their robot overlords, others might think that there must be a better way.  The latter people will, of course, be wrong- because the robots say so.

66.Will people who do more work, such as doctors, demand more resources than someone like an artist?

Who says doctors do more work?  Who says artists do little work?
Just fucking with you.  They might demand more resources, but the robot overlords will fix them.

67.Inventors and designers are constantly improving methods and technology, yet can like-minded people work towards goals similar to the ones you presented in your book, while still operating within a monetary system? How do you suggest we keep ideas and technology from contributing to the cycle (away from military hands, etc.)?

My goals cannot be reached in a monetary system.  You got that?  Sheesh.  Things will never change in a monetary system.  We have had a monetary system for thousands of years and not a single new political idea, scientific advancement, or cultural shift was ever achieved in this period.
Look it up.  (but seriously, don’t look that up)

68.What are the safeguards against abuse of power in the society you envision?

Robots don’t crave power.  Have you not read Issac Asimov?  (again- seriously, don’t)

69.Do we have enough energy to eliminate scarcity?

As soon as someone figures out how to convert pure energy into arable farmland and water, yes.

70.In a system where everything is available without a price tag, would this eliminate incentive?

No.  It will put the company that makes price tags out of business though.

71.Would people lose their incentive?

If they don’t need to work, why would they need an incentive?

72.Why the emphasis on the cybernated approach to the social operation?

Because if people operated the economy then they would have power over those that didn’t make the decisions.  And since I’m guessing you are a communist and don’t like class-based economic systems, I thought I could solve it with robots.

73.The world you describe requires the planetary resources of legions of engineers, artists and craftspeople to design, fabricate, assemble and calibrate. What happens three or ten generations later when the back-up systems are breaking down and the population has only poets and theoretical physicists?

We will write epic poems about our love of string theory.  Duh.

74.History shows that advanced technologies and skills have been lost within generations and a fully automated cybernetically managed economy/ecology/society would be vulnerable to system decay, malfunction and collapse in a way that would render humanity helpless and then destitute with neither the technical skills nor the emotional maturity to resolve the resulting crises.

Hey smartypants, that’s not a question- is it?

75.So why not plan on simple modular self-sufficient economies, or inter-dependant low tech economies that advance sustainable technologies and skills within each community?

Because if I did that I would have to do something useful with your donations instead of hoarding donations till the economy collapses.  Why would anyone do such a thing?

76.Could you describe the distribution of food and/or other objects of desire, like telephones, computers, or books?

If you are hungry, you will go to a distribution center to get food.  If they are out of food, you could try eating other objects of desire, like telephones, computers, or books.

77.What will people do?

Stuff.

78.You place great emphasis on human behavior as opposed to human nature. Would you define both?

Human behaviour is defined as how humans behave.  Human nature is defined as how humans nate.
Got it?

79.Isn’t this against Human Nature?

No. Deflecting serious questions and being evasive is totally natural for humans.

80.How do “Restless Teenagers” fit into the system? Or rather, what is available for them to do?

Perhaps they could watch “The Young and The Restless”?

81.Would The Venus Project be for deviants?

There will be no deviants, because science!

82.What would be done with that percentage of society that would be agitators or malcontent such as Timothy McVeigh who were brought up with a normal upbringing?

There will be no agitators or malcontents, because science!

83.What about crimes of jealousy?

People won’t be jealous.  Just because.

84.For reasons best known to geneticists, some people inherit different colored eyes from those of other people around them. In a grand overall vision of social and economic reform such as The Venus Project, what about those few who will always exhibit aberrant behavior under any system?

Programming.  But we won’t call it that- we will call it “better education”.

85.Do you advocate killing people with aberrant behavior?

No, but I said I don’t think people in the future will exhibit aberrant behaviour- because “better education”.  Checkmate, rationalists.

86.Isn’t technology very often detrimental to people and the cause of many of our problems?

Tell that to your new robot overlords…….

87.In this new culture, do you propose to utilize a technical elite that would decide the direction for society?

No.  the technical elite will program the robots that will decide the direction for society.  Huge difference.

88.How does one solve the problem of excess (say a person or people wanting more than is available)?

“Better Education”.  Which is totally not like “programming”.

89.How will people get along in the Middle East? How will the question of religion be resolved?

Ignore them, leave them tot heir own devices, let God sort them out.
Unless they want to stop- then your question is irrelevant.

90.What about religion?

Many people in the future will worship Jacque Fresco.  If some people want to continue to give all the credit to Jesus or Allah- then I can’t really stop them.

91.Many people claim that when spirituality fails in bringing up social changes, the use of violence is rationalized. Do you agree with this opinion?

Do I agree that there is a dichotomy between spiritualism and violence?  I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

92.What can you tell us about The Venus Project’s approach to education?

We plan on educating people.

93.What would the education be like?

It would be like education now, but better.

94.How are Learning, Cooperation, and Gaining Health, Built into the System?

Again- I have to ask- exactly how does a question like this get asked “frequently”?
Really?

95.What about food? Would people eat meat?

Bacon for everybody!  (Unless your not into that kind of thing…)

96.What about drug addicts and alcoholics?

No more drugs.  Because science!

97.Is The Venus Project interested/capable of co-ordinating with other groups, intentional communities, individuals, to organize a resource based society distributed throughout the current society? Put another way, is TVP organizing the transition itself? Or just providing an example of what is possible with the intention of society as a whole enacting the switch over?

The Venus Project is just waiting for the economy to collapse, then for the military dictatorships to take over. This is when we think it will be easiest to broker change.  This totally makes sense if you don’t think about it.

98.How do you think people react to your proposals, that I would label “virtual proposals”, about the future of the world, and what is your relationship with them? How important is fulfilment in terms of credibility and concrete experience?

People react poorly to many of my ideas.  This is because I’m right and they are wrong.
Look it up. (Seriously though, don’t look it up.)

99.Is The Venus Project a Utopian society?

Yes, but I’ll never cop to it.

100.Future plans? What are you going to do now? What are you going to do next?

Next I’ll need you to buy my complete lectures on DVD.  Then I’ll need you to donate money.  After that, we just need to wait for the economy to collapse.

101.More than a few people would say they are fed up with living in a money-driven society, and wish to live a more self-fulfilling life. What advice would you give these people?

Turn your dreams into a reality by giving me your money.

102.Do we have enough time to see all of these changes?

No.  But I’m not going to tell you that.

103.If you had to choose one idea that would describe the essence of this new society, what would it be? Unity? Discovery?

Jacque Fresco.

104.What about the use of drugs in the future?

Once people have taken enough drugs to think my ideas make sense, there will be no need for drugs.

105.What is your take regarding Sexuality?

I’m all for it.

106.What is your take regarding the separation from the Zeitgeist Movement as the activist arm of The Venus Project?

There are two main problems that led to the decision to dissociate The Venus Project from the Zeitgeist Movement:

  1. Those guys are friggin’ nuts
  2. Too much 9/11 denial, not enough Jacque Fresco worship.

107.What is your take regarding overpopulation?

There are finite resources and an infinite potential for population growth.  Given these two facts, I have decided that overpopulation is a myth.

108.What is TVP’s stance on personal possessions?

You currently possess money.  We would like to free you of that burden as soon as possible.

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No, The Debate Was Not A Mistake- Stop Saying That

Posted on February 6, 2014. Filed under: Atheism, Children, Politics, Religion, Science |

    I watched the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham surrounded by new friends.  I actually stumbled across these people in no small part because this debate happened.  A friend of my wife’s on Facebook commented that she might attend- which led to my wife suggesting that this might be an event our 9 year old son might enjoy- which resulted in me confirming my attendance on a Facebook events page that is run by a local atheist group.  Bill Nye helped me discover that my hometown has a fully developed and thriving atheist community that I was somehow completely oblivious to until a few days ago.
This, I suppose, is a lesson in unintended consequences.

   So when I started my morning by recapping what other people thought of the debate with the intention of helping to clarify my own thoughts, I was nye2sympathetic to the opinion of Michael Schulson in The Daily Beast that the debate was a losing proposition from the moment it was brokered.  Facts are not something to be debated.  We shouldn’t be lending credibility to creation myths by juxtaposing them with science. Bill Nye is the wrong person to be representing the scientific argument because he is not an expert on evolution.  This was a common argument before the debate even aired.

On all accounts I think these arguments are wrong.

Academics Don’t Create Policy, But Somehow They Are The Only People Qualified To Talk About Science

    Several people have pointed out that the Creation/Evolution debate is a political issue and not a scientific issue.  I agree with that assessment.  The question I’d like to ask is this:  If people who are passionate about science aren’t going to wade into the political debate over what we teach the next generation- who is going to stand between opportunistic legislators and our children?  Can we just assume that rationality is always going to rule the public stage in opposition to the court of public opinion?

    Bill Nye is right that we need children that understand the scientific method and how proper science is done.  We also need the public to be savvy enough to tell the difference between education and indoctrination. The idea that this debate emboldened creationists by giving them a stage is, I think, demonstrably wrong.  First, you need to assume that all creationists are Young Earth Creationists (YECs).  Then you need to assume that YECs aren’t already aware of Answers In Genesis, the Creation Museum, or Ken Ham.  This is akin to going up to your nerdiest friend and telling them about this great new Star Trek series called “The Next Generation”.  This debate didn’t bring new attention to Young Earth Creationism to the target audience for Young Earth Creationism.  It brought new attention to YEC to exactly the people we need to see it- the large swath of Christian and other religious parents who think of Intelligent Design or Guided Evolution or some other pseudo-scientific concept when they imagine “teaching the controversy“.  These people are embarrassed by people like Ken Ham.  They know the earth isn’t 6000 years old, and they understand just how impossible it is to square that belief with observable phenomena.  These are the people who are going to be moved by this debate.  To assume that all people sympathetic to anti-evolutionary ideas are sympathetic to a literal reading of Genesis is a mistake.  Many of those people will be moved by just how absurd it is to teach YEC as science.  Some of these people might change their view about science education when faced with the prospect of science class becoming a strict literal interpretation of the first book of the Old Testament.  

    In this regard, I think that Ken Ham is exactly the kind of person those of us who care about science should debate. He is an extremist, a fundamentalist, an outlier even in Christian circles.  Too many of us feel that Bill should have avoided giving Ken Ham a platform- when in fact that platform has already started to lay bare the deep divide among creationists.  Pat Robertson has already called on Ham to “not make a joke of ourselves.”  Inside the bubble of Young Earth Creationism, the idea of a 6000 year old creation and a big boat that held 10,000 animals while the entire world was flooded for a year seems perfectly reasonable.  They think that people just need to see the evidence the way they do and everyone will be forced to concede the truth of their beliefs.  It is the people outside this bubble that Bill needed to speak to, and I think he did that marvelously.

Bill Nye Is Exactly What We Need

nye1    To the degree that I think Ken Ham is exactly the kind of creationist that science educators need to draw attention to, I think people like Bill Nye are exactly the kind of person we need doing it.  We need people who are teachers and communicators.  We need people who aren’t going to go on tangents about overly dry and technical aspects of evolutionary theory when simple and focused arguments suffice.  We need people who aren’t going to waste their whole half hour talking about the philosophy of science when someone tries to make the ridiculous distinction between observational science and historical science.  We need the kind of people who say “there are trees older than you think the universe is.”  We need people who can make radio waves and the big bang something I can explain to my 9 year old son.  We need someone who can Gish Gallop with easily digestible facts that are memorable and funny.  

     Many otherwise smart people have claimed that this debate was worthless and they avoided it because neither speaker had the authority to talk about evolution.  Public opinion isn’t decided by experts.  Policy isn’t made by experts.  Hell, High School Biology class isn’t taught by experts.    This wasn’t an academic debate and if it was it would have swayed virtually nobody involved in the future of science education.  To be blunt, one of the problems in the divide over public science education is that it seems to be difficult for people to grasp the basics of evolutionary theory.  Policy will be shaped by ignorance and incredulity if we fail to take interest in education.  If the Bible denied that there are integers above 20,000, we wouldn’t insist that only those with a degree in theoretical mathematics argue with theologians.  We would send in Warren Buffet and the Manager at TGI Friday’s to compare their purchasing power.  When we want people to understand how simply wrong a proposition is, we need people who can speak in terms laypersons can not just grasp but easily internalize.  Bill Nye is a brilliant science educator, and he was the perfect person to take on a science obfuscator.  
The public is not going to get energized nor swayed by academic debates on the minutiae of evolution.  They are going to be easily confused until some charlatan shows up to reassure them.

    I think it is insulting to assume that all Christians are going to be moved by a literal six-day creation argument, and I think it’s ignorant to assume that there were no viewers who had positions that could be influenced by a clear and concise argument that science is the best way do science.  Many people approached the prospect of this debate with a hyper-simplistic view of those who don’t accept biological evolution whole cloth.  It is precisely this kind of superiority complex and lack of understanding that is going to stoke the fires of people who wish to sneak religion into science.  

    We are so busy thinking about the possibility that Christians are naive and easily duped that we fail to see that, more likely than not, the unintended consequence of this debate is a popular rebuke of literal six-day creation among the larger Christian community- the people who vote, who sit on Parent/Teacher Associations, who choose curriculum guidelines.  
I found a community as an unintended consequence of a well marketed, elegantly argued, and entertaining debate about evolution- and I think that it will have the opposite consequence for Young Earth Creationists.  Showing reasonable people what God in science class might really mean will make the fringe increasingly isolated. 

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I Had Hope For The World- Then This Happened……

Posted on July 2, 2012. Filed under: Abortion, Atheist Ethics, Parenting, Personal, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion, Science, Social Justice |

The Catholic Church wants to party like it’s 1399.  Seriously.

There is a new ad campaign launched by a Catholic blogger that wants to make birth control “like,

Yes, HYSTERICAL- and by “hysterical” I mean an attitude causing a disturbance of the uterus

so lame” to the hip, impressionable young Catholics (and your kids, too!) out there.

Speaking as a parent, this is infuriating.  Speaking as a humanist, it is disappointing.  Speaking as a skeptic, it is indefensibly dishonest.

Here’s the scoop, from Claudia at Friendly Atheist:

Fellow Patheos blogger Marc Barnes over at Bad Catholic has realized why the Catholic mandate against contraception enjoys such pitiful support amongst American women.

It’s not because it’s an archaic, unrealistic standard that turns couples — and particularly women — into slaves of their own biology despite the existence of readily available alternatives. The actual problem is that it hasn’t been sold in a sufficiently attractive package.

Enter the new website 1Flesh, which seeks to sell 19th century ideas (12th? 1st?) in a 21st century package, Facebook page and all. According to Barnes, its purpose is “documenting the silliness that is artificial contraception, a grassroots movement promoting great, natural sex to the entire universe.” He then cites a list of “facts” that range from outright false to outrageously misleading.

Read on….

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Germane to Multiple Things I have Been Reading Lately….

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Atheism, Global Warming, Politics, Religion, Science |

 

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.  The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

-Isaac Asimov

That about sums it up.

Via Facebook (Thanks Oscar!)

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Getting Skeptical About Woo Juice Part 1:For The Credulous Asshole Troll- Neil C. Reinhardt

Posted on September 2, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Internet Etiquette, Personal, Science, Trolls |

Last week I wrote a eulogy to one of my personal heroes who died of cancer.  Regardless of the political views of my readers and Canadians in general, most people are happy to agree that Jack Layton was a very special human being- someone worthy of a fond farewell.

I would like to point out that I have more than a few readers who hold political views in diametric opposition to Jack’s vision- and each and every one of those people had the courtesy to let my post stand as a testament to someone they knew I respected deeply.  I might have even tolerated a right wing diatribe about how my “pinko socialist” hero was plotting to ruin Modern Western Civilization.  Jack would have liked that.  Being accused of being “unrealistic”, “utopian”, and “socialist” would have made him proud.

Meet The Troll

Enter Neil C. Reinhardt- a professional atheist troll who spouts pathetic and misguided conspiracy theories because people don’t believe that he has stumbled across a MLM (Multi Level Marketing- aka Pyramid scheme) product that cures every single ailment known to man.  He rails against “skeptics” for not making the effort to credulously accept that his “miracle tropical beverage”  can cure any and every known disease and symptom.  Skepticism is to be lauded until it bumps heads with his faith in fruit juice. Fruit juice that apparently tastes like licking testicle sweat off of a turd. (That is how you know it works- why else would people ingest such foul tasting swill?)

Neil apparently thinks that a very personal post about a very personal subject is the perfect place to insert his delusional ramblings about how the medical establishment are covering up the cure-all effects of ingesting and topically applying the fruit juice equivalent of equine effluent.  Apparently I’m to assume that his 15 year foray into faith-healing is supposed to make me run out and buy his snake oil.  Here is the blathering, disjointed ramblings deposited in the comment section of my post: (more…)

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Presuppositionalism: Solving a Headache With A Lobotomy

Posted on May 16, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

Could the argument from incredulity get any more objectively silly? If you answered “No.” to this question, you and I need to talk.

See, you have been living in a world where theists are only marginally insane, you have not been introduced to the fruits of having to create a plasticine reality to justify a confused mythology,  you have never heard of presuppositional apologetics, let’s call it presup., for short.

Don’t worry.  I’m here to help.  Get that pot of coffee brewing, take a load off.  You are about to visit the fringes of sanity; if you come out the other side intact, then I’ve done what I set out to do.  Presup remains a tricky argument to counter because it is packed with loaded questions, misplaced definitions, bait and switch, and technical jargon.  It stands on your ignorance, and it falls on close inspection.

What the F#@% Are Presuppositionalists Even Talking About?

Yeah, I know.  Some troll just came into a good thread conversation and dropped a steaming pile of nonsense on your lap.  I bet it went something like this:

You: Can you believe some people believe the earth is only 6000 years old? SRSLY!

Your Friend:  Dude! I so know what you’re talking about!  YEC’s…..for the LOL’s, right?

S#!+ For Brains: Excuse me, my good fellows.  How do you know the earth isn’t 6000 years old?

Y: OMFG! SRSLY? It’s called evidence, homey!  Have you heard of it?

YF: Totally.  Case closed. Sucks to be you!  I know because the evidence says so.

SFB: No. You see, you don’t know.  You don’t know anything.  You cannot have knowledge of anything in your worldview.  If you do, it is surely circular!  In order for anything to make sense, you need to presuppose the existence of God.  You are a theist and don’t know it!

Y:  WTF.  That s#!+ makes no sense.  You are ridiculous.

YF: What the F#@% does that even mean?  Of course I know S#!+, like, I so know you are a douchebag.

SFB: Ahh! Can you prove that you know anything?

This is where it starts.  You just got served with a steaming pile of presup nonsense.  This is the “knowledge” variation.  There is also the “morality” variation, the “existence” variation, and the list goes on.  First, I guess we should dispense with the definitions.  In this post, I’m just using the first two.  The third definition for Moral Presup will be the subject of it’s own post, though I have argued against it in the past.

Argument From Incredulity:  The assertion that a premise is true or false based on insufficient knowledge, willful ignorance, or misunderstanding of probability.

An argument from incredulity was the good old standby of theologians for years.  Eventually though, people started figuring out that we could use the tools of reason to answer those nagging questions in our universe.  Below is a cursory list of incredulous assertions (theistic and otherwise), followed by their reasoned explanations:

  • The earth is suspended on a firmament→ Yeah. Turns out the earth is held in space as a result of it’s gravitational relationship to the sun.  Who knew?
  • The moon is a source of light→ Again. Seems logical, but turns out it is just a giant reflector of the large gaseous sphere we call the sun
  • Illness is caused by evil spirits→Really?  People thought that? Yep.  And unless you define “evil spirit” as being a microscopic organism, you are probably wrong.
  • Humans sperm is a humunculus→ That’s right.  Turns out your sperm is just a boring nucleus of chromosomes that require a diploid bond to take any real form.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  Thankfully, this allows us to sidestep the uncomfortable conversation with our girlfriends about whether sperm is the dietary equivalent of “Soylent Green”.
  • Rainbows are God’s “shout out” to the LGBT community→No matter how cool that sounds (and I still want to believe it), turns out light refracts off of water molecules in the atmosphere.  Science ruins all the fun.

So science seems to have ruined everything.  Slowly and methodically, it seems that superstition gets squeezed out of the world we live in.

How does one manage to “win back” our world for hocus pocus, superstition, and anthropomorphic Godheads?  Enter Presuppositionalism.  This takes the old argument from incredulity:

We don’t know how this happens→.·. God

and changes it to this:

We can’t know how anything happens without God→.·. God

Bam! That will learn ya.

So,

Presuppositionalism:  God is the source of knowledge, reason, and logic. Claiming otherwise is circular reasoning, because you need to use logic and reason to verify logic and reason.  There must therefor be something that transcends logic and reason.  That something is……wait for it…….wait…for…it……GOD! Boo Ya.  If we claim to know anything, we first must presuppose the existence of God.  Whether we deny it or not.

The Moral Presup Argument:  There can be no objective morality without something that makes things objectively good or objectively bad.  Guess what that something is?  No. Really, Guess….Without G-O-D, actions are just a matter of preference.  If God doesn’t exist, people can’t say there is anything wrong with murdering people, or molesting children.  If you don’t think child molestation is the bee’s knees, you instantly presuppose God.

Yeah, I know, that sounds absolutely retarded.  And it is.  But, and this is a big but, how do you show that it is, in point of fact, retarded?  Well, let’s just rejoin your conversation from earlier…..

You:  How do I prove I know anything?  Well I use reason to test what I know against evidence.

S#!+ For Brains:  How do you know that your reason is reasonable?  If you test logic and reason with logic and reason, then you create a viscous circle.  You need to account for reason in a non circular way, and that requires God.

Your Friend:  That is Ten Drumsticks short of an Ice Cream Truck! WTF?

SFB:  So you can’t account for reason then?  Thanks for coming out, Jesus loves you, your going to Hell, and God Bless!

Holy mother of an imaginary zombie superhero!  What just happened?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Here is your logical chain:

  1. Humans possess logic and reason
  2. In order to prove this, we need to use logic and reason
  3. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy
  4. Therefor we must presuppose something without logic or reason in order to account for logic or reason
  5. That something is God, and by God I mean the God of the Bible, YHWH, God of Abraham, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So the presuppositional argument is that we cannot reason God’s existence, there is no rational proof for God; we must accept the entire premise on faith in order to avoid “circular reasoning”.  They can’t explain why we must presuppose any God, or that God in particular, just that we have to presuppose something, and then they insist that there is only one possibility to presuppose.

You see, in order to reason which supposition we ought to presuppose in order to avoid our circular reasoning, we would also have to use logic and reason.  So really, you can’t just assume a Christian God, because if you assumed Him, then you would have to deny that the Bible is evidence of God’s existence.  If you claimed the bible is proof of His existence, you would have to use logic or reason, and that would be off limits- else you yourself commit the fallacy of circular reasoning.  Essentially what I am saying is that Presuppositionalists commit circular reasoning every single day.  They just think that by adding an extra step, that you won’t catch on.

The Parable of Presuppositional Logic

Imagine that a chair stands on the ground in front of you.  Your legs are tired, you wish to rest.  You go to sit down, when someone interjects:

You can’t sit on that chair,” the man says, “it will surely fall to pieces under your weight!”

“It looks perfectly sturdy,” you say,”it appears to be made of oak, with four sturdy legs.

You think that now” says the man, “but I know chairs, and this one is no good.  If you allow me, I will fix it so that you may sit.”

Very well.”

Then the man pulls out a cushion.  He plopps it down on the chair.  “There!” he says, “Now it is perfectly safe.

What are you talking about?“, you say, dumbfounded.  “All you did was put a cushion on it.  That makes it no more safe, or sturdy.

Maybe.  Maybe not.”  says the man.  “Yet if you really think about it, I surely made it more comfortable.

Thus ends the parable of presupposition. Presup can’t change the nature of anything.  It doesn’t add structure to anything.  It just takes something that works perfectly well and makes your use of it less of a pain in the ass.  You feel like you are sitting on a cloud, and so long as you don’t look down, you can keep imagining it was so.

Does The Cushion Make The Chair More Sturdy?

So where does this leave us?  What did we learn today?  Hopefully we all agree now that presuppositionalism is just bait and switch.  It is adding a step for no good reason. You still disagree?

Tell me then.  What is the difference between these two propositions:

Athiest Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. Reason and logic are the culmination of activities in our brain as a means to interpret, interact, and express the reality in which we exist
  3. the source of reason and logic, then, is in our brain, but dependent on the input of reality
  4. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I must appeal to the source of reason and logic.  This is circular reasoning, but not viciously circular.

Presuppositionalist Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. The source of reason and logic is God, as is the source of reality.
  3. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I merely need to appeal to God.
  4. If God is the source of reason and logic, then I must appeal to the source of reason and logic to prove reason and logic.
  5. I also must appeal to reason and logic to prove that the source of reason and logic exists.  Oh, and appeal to reason and logic to argue that the bible was authored by the source of reason and logic.  This is not at all viciously circular, or begging the question.

So they have made the chair more comfortable by changing the definitions and assuming their premise by fiat.  So long as you focus on the cushion and not the chair, you can keep believing you don’t need four legs and solid ground.  The chair is more comfortable because it hides your need to examine what lies beneath.

Welcome to presuppositionalism.

To end this post, I will pull two quotes from the previous post that started this discussion.  I think that Jason basically sums up this whole post in a single comment:

Dan The Atheist Debunker:You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords. Your logic and critical thinking skills are certainly lacking. Please try again. Thanks for the smile though. I will cherish it.

Jason:“You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords.”

Says the guy whose entire argument boils down to “Suppose the Bible is true. Therefore, God actually exists.”

Presuppositionalism:  The best way to avoid begging the question is to start by begging the question.

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From Reputable Source: Evolution Finally Disproved

Posted on March 2, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Humour, Religion, Science |

I owe my creationist friends a humble apology.

It seems that evolution is observably false after all…..

 

Eons Of Darwinian Evolution Somehow Produce Mitch

Mitch Szabo

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The process of evolution, through which single-celled organisms slowly developed over billions of years into exponentially more sophisticated forms of life, has inexplicably culminated in local Albuquerque resident Mitch Szabo, leading evolutionary biologists reported Monday.

According to baffled sources within the scientific community, the exact same mechanisms responsible for some of nature’s most spectacularly ingenious adaptations have apparently also produced a 35-year-old office assistant who has only worn pants that actually fit him a total of five times in his adult life.

“The identical processes that have given us the remarkable camouflage of the stick insect and the magnificent plumage of the bird-of-paradise have, it would seem, also given us a man who cannot scramble an egg,” University of Pennsylvania biologist Ann Goldwyn-Ross said. “Despite evolution’s emphasis on the inheritance and replication of advantageous traits, a man walks among us today who sweats profusely in any temperature and went to see Anger Management in theaters twice.”

Read on……

From the Onion.

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Presuppositional Apologetics: Q and A With An Apologist Who Has No A…

Posted on January 19, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

In the hopes of having Peter clarify his opinions and commit to his own logic, I will answer several questions he asked in his newest post.  I will intersperse his post with my replies, Peter in red, myself in blue.  I will also not cherrypick his questions or commentary, because I am just that kind of guy.  Peter, for those who are joining midstream, is not.

Clarification Needed

Hi George. I want to give you an adequate reply to your post here, but I need some further clarification from you before I do that.

I still argue that your whole argument rests on not clarifying your position or your interpretation of my position, so let’s be honest about why you are responding.  You are hoping that you can force me to contradict myself.  You won’t answer questions because you know that answering them shows you contradicting yourself.  I’ll play the game, if only to show you that, unlike you, I have taken the time to think out my positions.  You know which questions you continue to avoid.  If you don’t then I can assume you uninformed based on reading comprehension alone.  Let’s begin, shall we?

You wrote: “You will notice that I include objective morality as a possible option for the atheist.”

You also wrote: “Morality is objective in the sense that rules, whether understood by convention or natural order, are the basis for the definition of a species and how it interacts with the world.”

And also: “Morality is subjective in the sense that our choices impact our ability to survive; so the best solution is not always clear, or do not impact our survival, so that reason can transcend a rule that has outlived its merit.”

My question for you is this: is being self-contradictory objectively wrong? Or is the claim, “being self-contradictory is wrong,” a matter of personal opinion, i.e., subjectively wrong? The reason I ask is because you accused the Bible of being self-contradictory. Then later you wrote: “Are you morally obligated to follow the laws of logic? Nope. You have every right to be wrong.”

George:  First, do you believe it self-contradictory to believe that morality has both subjective and objective elements?  Only you have argued that morality is purely one or the other.  That said,  is being self-contradictory objectively wrong? By almost any metric the answer would be yes.  To clarify, it might be possible for your opinion to be self-contradictory and still get the right answer, but that would be unlikely.  I really cannot clarify this for you enough Peter; you have no obligation to accept truth.  It really helps, but you are not forced by anyone to have an opinion.  You are obliged by reality and society to accept the consequences of your actions.  If you can show me where your opinion on X is more important than the nature of  X, then I’m willing to listen.  Being wrong and thinking something is wrong are two different things.  You have always attempted to conflate the two, but you thinking it doesn’t make it so.  Here’s your false dichotomy. Something can be both thought wrong and objectively wrong, you can be objectively wrong but not be thought wrong,  you can be thought wrong but not be objectively wrong.   Your opinion, my opinion, it doesn’t matter.  That is not what someone who uses the word “subjective” when talking about morality means.  You can insist that it is, but it doesn’t make it so.  If your opinion does change the meaning of how someone communicates an idea, then you are a “subjectivist” yourself.  The word “subjective” you use, as well as the word “objective” you use, have very different meanings for you then they do for someone who argues the subjective nature of morality.  Maybe you are correct to assume that they are using the wrong word, perhaps “contextual” is a better one.   Morals are both objective, in that there are some opinions that are wrong regardless of any persons opinion, or subjective in that they are not objectively wrong but moral/immoral/neutral by the metric of the person who judges it.  Is capital punishment wrong?  By my metric, yes.  Can I see why it is a contentious issue?  Sure.  Do I consider people who support capital punishment immoral? Yes.  That is my opinion, and it is shared by many people.  Would I consider that opinion to be an objective moral truth?  Not really.  Does that analogy help at all?


I have another question that concerns what you wrote here: “In order for the premise that subjective morality is self-contradictory to be true, man must be unable to refuse an objective moral truth by fiat.”

Whose fiat are you talking about? And so I’m clear, are you saying that the ability to disobey a law shows that morality is not objective? Or have I misunderstood you? Also, do you make a distinction between, on the one hand, whether one is able to or can break a law, and on the other hand, whether one is permitted or allowed to break a law?

You wrote: “In order for your premise to stand you must prove that man is solitary by nature, that nothing in reality transcends his personal opinion of what is moral or immoral.”

To which premise were you referring? Also, so you’re clear, I do not believe that there is nothing in reality that transcends man’s personal opinion. God is transcendent.

You have most certainly misunderstood me if you think that the statement “In order for the premise that subjective morality is self-contradictory to be true, man must be unable to refuse an objective moral truth by fiat.” has anything to do with whether morality is objective or subjective or both.  It is a statement about your belief that subjective morality is self-contradictory.  It is a statement that shows you are wrong.  That doesn’t mean subjective morality is right, or that objective morality is wrong.  It doesn’t mean the opposite of that either.  It means that the opinion that subjective morality is self-contradictory is wrong.   I say that because your premise for proving self-contradiction is that someone’s (in this case your) ability to refuse to accept truth makes that truth worthless.  You have every right to disagree with Jason, I have every right to break God’s Law, neither of these fact make either premise self-contradictory.  If you disagree with Jason and he is right, there are consequences, the first being that you are wrong.  His opinion of whether you are wrong or not has no bearing here.  Nor does your opinion that you are right.  When I talk about what transcends your opinion, I refer to facts, consequences, reality, logic, human nature, and human constructs.  Your opinion of whether Jason is right or wrong has no bearing on any of these things.  A subjective moralist would say that his opinion of your moral obligations is beside the point, that your wages are due to those things that transcend his opinion.  That sounds familiar to your presuppositional opinion that your moral obligation is owed to God.  Where the subjective moralist differs is that he understands morality to be logically contingent to its variables as opposed to the commandment of some (possibly non-existent) higher power.  You essentially end up saying the same thing in different language, you just presuppose that if there is a God, he is infallible, and therefor must be consistent with at least the first five of the six transcendent variables I listed above.  You presuppose.  Not me.


You wrote: “By picking and choosing what you want the definitions to be, you create black and white pronouncements from a million shades of gray.”

I was operating according to the dictionary definitions of objective and subjective. There are free dictionaries online for you to look up the meanings. Should I assume from your comment here that we should go by your definition of objective and subjective instead of the dictionary definitions of these words? If so, then I refuse. There’s no reason we can’t use the dictionary definitions of these words.

I’m not asking you to accept my definitions of those words.  I’m asking you to accept the definition of a word in the context it is being used, as opposed to the context you want to apply to it.  The funny thing about the English language is that words have multiple meanings, some of them with only subtle differences.  “Subjective”, as I mentioned in an earlier response, has different uses with subtle differences.  You insist on using it as an admission that atheists believe morality is a personal opinion, because you use this definition:

The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

When just a few mouseclicks down from that definition you get this one:

1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views
3. relating to the inherent nature of a person or thing; essential
4. (Philosophy) existing only as perceived and not as a thing in itself

This gives us a better look at what a subjectivist would define as subjective.   Replace “person” in the singular with human nature, social constructs, facts, context, etc. and you start to see what they are saying.  They are using “subjective” as the opposite of your warped definition of “objective”; where “subjective” implies morality has context and variables, as opposed to being so because God says so.    You offer only two possibilities:  God is the objective source of all morality or it’s all just personal opinion.  Do you honestly believe those are the only two possibilities?  There are really no other options?  Is your mind really that limited?   That something transcends the nature of the act, emanating from our emotions or prejudices; this consensus as essential to our nature,  morality existing because we perceive it and not necessarily because it is so.  Murder is wrong if we define the limits of what murder is.  If killing another living thing is murder, and murder is objectively wrong, then our survival is objectively wrong.  The subjectivist says that by defining the parameters of what constitutes right or wrong, we project our own prejudices upon it.  This is why there are vegans.  You define subjectivity as anarchy when a subjectivist would call it contingent.
There is no reason to believe that morality is purely subjective, even in this sense.  There is good reason to believe that morality is not purely objective, commanded and not reasoned, in the sense that you use the definition.  You can use whatever definitions you like, it doesn’t change the fact that your conclusions will be based on false assumptions made by using improper definitions.  I can’t say it enough, you have every right to be wrong.  It’s up to you to decide that you value truth.

Also, you wrote: “Logic does not transcend reality, it is a slave to it. Logic is objective. ………. What transcends logic to make it objective? Reality.”

Are you saying that logic is not part of reality? If reality transcends logic, then is it impossible for logic to be part of reality?

Looking forward to your clarification so that I might give you a proper reply.

See Peter, this is where all our trouble starts.  You really need to read beyond the first line of a definition.  If you bother to use your favorite Free Online Dictionary, and move down to the other two definitions of “transcend” you will find that transcendent has the following definition:

2. To be greater than, as in intensity or power; surpass: love that transcends infatuation. See Synonyms at excel.

3. To exist above and independent of (material experience or the universe)

The definition you want to use is #3 from the second definition:

1. to go above or beyond (a limit, expectation, etc.), as in degree or excellence
2. (tr) to be superior to

3. (Philosophy) Philosophy Theol (esp of the Deity) to exist beyond (the material world)

You can ruminate for hours about how I am wrong by subtly changing the meaning of my words out of their context.  You have done it before, you’ll do it again I’m sure.  When I say that logic is a slave to reality, I am obviously making a distinction between the two, but saying that one (logic) is dependent on the other (reality).  Logic is objective in that its very definition means that it comports with reality.  If it does not, it is not logic, it is imagination.  Reality happens whether you are willing to make sense of it or not.  Logic is constructed to reveal truths about reality.  Can we, by consensus, change the rules of logic?  Semantically, yes.  We can’t, however, change reality so any change we agreed to would have to comport with reality or else it wouldn’t be logic.  We could call it logic, but that would redefine the word, and seems rather pointless.

Your trick here is to make someone agree with the fact that the laws of logic are man made constructs, which in one sense they are, then argue that they are then a matter of opinion.  By this metric, gravity is a man made construct, so do you propose that I might deny the laws of gravity and levitate around?

You want to play semantic games, because that is the entire point of presuppositional apologetics, to play with meanings and extrapolate consequences based on your interpretations.  You do not get to decide what I must believe.  I should be able to explain it, if asked, but just because you don’t want to listen doesn’t make you right.


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Presuppositional Morality: Is It Moral To Ignore Me Peter, or Just An Objective Requirement?

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

Presuppositionalist Peter, of Atheism Presupposes Theism, posted the following reply to comment I made at his site over the last few days.  My attempts to comment on his blog have thus far failed for reasons that I am unsure of.  His post:

 

1st Reply to George

George: “Thanks for taking a position. It only took you four days and eight requests. Did you really have to think about it that much?”

I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.

George: “Killing is wrong. I agree with you.”

Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?

George: “If there are some exceptions to that rule does that not make it by nature subjective, in that it requires context?”

The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.

George: “Unless you only consider murder a moral question and not killing? Killing seems to me to be a moral question, I wonder if you agree?”

In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.

George: “… I wonder if we are even able to agree on the definition of morality out of the gates.”

Probably not as the Christian position is that morality is not a matter of subjective or personal opinion.

George: “You state, in your answer, that killing is not a moral question.”

I did not state that. It is a moral question. But as you said, we likely disagree on the definition of morality.

George: “So you can kill at will, so long as you are justified in doing so?”

There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified. I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation. For example, I hear both atheists and theists say they’re in favour of capital punishment. I hear both atheists and theists say they’re opposed to capital punishment. Also, people might disagree over what constitutes a just war as opposed to a unjust war.

George: “If you killed me today, because God told you to do it, you would not be morally culpable?”

Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament. I know that may sound weird to you, but there it is for you anyway. Yes, it would be wrong for me to kill you, unless you were trying to kill me.

George: “I’m struggling to follow your logic, because I suspect there is none to follow.”

Are the laws of logic universal and invariant? Or are they a matter of convention?

George: “So we are clear, Christianity only comports with child killing, as long as God told you to do it. Your words. So if God decided to tell you to kill your children, then you are morally right to do as he says. Glad you cleared that up for us.”

You are not clear.

George: “How, then, are we to know what God told you? Does He give you a receipt? If someone kills their children and tell you that God commanded it, are you morally bound to believe him? What is the procedure?”

God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

Also, the reason I asked the question about the difference between a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is because the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.

Posted by Peter @ 10:40 PM

My first attempt to post a reply went like this:

O.K., I’ll play along, but your 15 minutes is almost up. Every single commenter here has poked holes in your boat, and your already drowning and telling the coast guard you’re just fine.  This whole debate is turning into the “Black Knight” scene from “Quest for the Holy Grail”, and just like in the movie, eventually we give up arguing against your false reality and move on.

“I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.”
See, that seems clever, until your apologist friends read the conversation and notice that it’s not that you <b>didn’t</b> respond because you were busy.  You responded to other comments just fine.  You still haven’t responded to the request for a Bible verse condemning pedophilia that was asked 5 days ago now, yet you had the time to write 14 comments and 3 blog posts in the interim.

“Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?”
You really do not listen.  Guess. Use your logic.

“The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.”

I’m glad you can look things up.  The same source offers this definition:
1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views

Why would you conflate a definition that clearly tells you it relates to “decisions” or “experience” with one that relates to “views”: the very subject we are talking about?  Especially when it’s on the same page?  Reading comprehension, Peter, reading comprehension.

“This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.”

Wow, we actually found a clause we can agree on in totality!  You’re right that your definition is not the best one.  You are indeed providing it because you are trying to put words in my mouth.  The rest I cannot find fault with, for you proceed to concede that you can apply prejudices that are independent from the nature of the object being considered.  Read the definition again Peter.
Also, show me the asterisk in the Bible after the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

“In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.”
This may be important soon…..

…I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation.”…

See how I indicated when I paraphrase?  That lets people know that there is context.  It is called being intellectually honest. Anyway, You didn’t really give three, you gave four.  You included revelation.  By not including it here you make it seem like I was putting words in your mouth when you make your next point.  Just so we are clear, I did no such thing.

I won’t bother to address the next point, I will accept that that is your position on revelation. I obviously fundamentally disagree, based on the presupposition that there is in fact a “God” to communicate with.

“God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.”

This will become very important soon….

“the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.”

Show me one human behavior that cannot be found to have an unambiguous parallel in the animal kingdom. Other than a God postulate, which we can neither prove nor disprove has a parallel.  You haven’t even done that yet.  As I pointed out, your premise of the lion and the zebra is a false conflation.  Prove yourself.

I then commented thus, in order to try and make the debate more civil…..

 

My other attempts to comment on this post failed, I assume because Blogger had some issues.
My full response to this post is at my blog, as well as a shorter version in the thread at Jason’s blog.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the discussion, I feel that in the last few days I was able to more closely question the reasons for my beliefs.  Your questions, and the questions I asked myself when formulating my responses, took me to task to make sense of my intuitions about morality.  The end result is that I still fundamentally disagree with you and now know why.
Your position that morality is objective and can only be understood by positing a God is really no different than the atheists position on subjective morality.  If we take the time to understand each others definitions of “subjective” and “objective” we realize that both of us are putting words in the other persons mouth, not a very helpful tactic.
Both the atheist and theist will come to terms with morality within their own worldview, and if someone presupposes a Christian God to exist, then they would have to come to your conclusions about morality.  Likewise, if someone posits an absence of Gods, they must come to the conclusions I have.  Where presuppositionalism goes wrong is that it employs a number of false dichotomies to make a case a presupposition of God.  It exists as a way for Christians to tell atheists how atheists think, and by that metric alone it is disingenuous.
For example, when you say to Jason that if you have no moral obligation to accept anything he says, you are in fact saying the same thing as “I am exercising my free will (and if Jason’s comments are truthful, my sinful nature) in not accepting anything you say”.  I would ask you to explain the subtle differences between these two expressions of the same situation.  It is only a difference in expression that in one case you are sinning against God in disregarding an objective moral truth(for which you will face judgment) and in the other you are placing yourself in the situation of being wrong (and subject to judgment by a society that values the facts)
I think I know your answer, but I’ll let you present a case for it.

As I said before, your conflation of a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is a false one.  Either we discuss the differences between lion on lion vs human on human or lion on zebra vs human on cow/fish/zebra etc.
Lions do not appear to wantonly kill other lions, nor is cannibalism common.  Does that imply that lions were also made in God’s image?  Why are there so many moral parallels between the behavior of animals and humans?  The scientific worldview can account for that whereas the theistic worldview cannot.
Please read my comments to the rest of your points on my blog or Jason’s.

I hope he is not just avoiding me…..


 

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