Monday, December 11, 2017

Speaking At Long Island Atheists, Plus Nones Grow to 34%


I've been a bit more busy than usual and haven't been able to blog as frequently. I'm still working on the conference and putting together the finishing touches on a new talk I'm doing for Long Island Atheists this Friday. It'll be a precursor to my panel discussion at the conference, called Make Atheism Great Again, about how atheists can better respond to the most common arguments theists have. If you're in the Long Island New York area and want to hear an awesome PowerPoint presentation, RSVP here. We will likely go for drinks afterwards.

Speaking of making atheism greater, a recent American Family Survey has shown that the number of "nones" or people with no religious preference, which includes atheists and agnostics, has grown to 34%. Previous surveys by PEW in 2014 had shown the nones were up to 22.8% and a PRRI survey from last year showed the number of nones at 25% of the US population. (See here).

If these new numbers are correct, it would mean that the pace of secularization and decreased religiosity has been speeding up rapidly.

Courtesy of Secular Coalition for America

This is something I've been hoping would happen, which is the idea that the US would reach a tipping point where religion would give out and begin a rapid and irreversible decline, just like it has in Western Europe. I'm sure the likes of religious conservatives Roy Moore and Mike Pence have helped push this even further by exposing the insanity that happens when you take religion seriously.

The question of religion in the survey was as follows:


It reports atheists as just 5%, agnostics as 6%, and nothing in particular as 23% to get the combined 34% of no religion. Reporting the number of atheists is notoriously tricky. PEW's own surveys show how this is problematic, as they've had concurrent surveys that show it as low as 3.1% and as high as 9%. Other studies have the number of atheists at 26%.

It seems that how you ask the question matters a lot. It is still well known that many people think an atheist is someone who asserts with 100% certainty that god doesn't exist. But bare minimum atheism is simply lacking a belief in god. That's it. And that of course means many agnostics actually are atheists. This why when you ask people in surveys if they believe in god you get higher numbers of people saying no than you do asking people if they're an atheist.

But aside from semantic quibbles one thing is clear: traditional religious belief in the US is dying and the number of non-religious people might hit 50% in the next 15-20 years if these rates continue. That would truly be spectacular achievement.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Study: Brain Activity Remains After Clinically Being Pronounced Dead


The internet was abuzz recently with reports that brain activity can persist 10 minutes after the declaration of death. My initial thoughts were: might this be a naturalistic explanation for so called near death experiences?

According to the reports, 4 terminally ill patients were recorded with electroencephalographic (EEG) and showed delta wave bursts for up to ten minutes after being declared dead. This was recently thought impossible.

Also thought impossible, is brain activity by people without a heart beat and who were declared dead who were then revived (only to tell glorious tales of heaven). These near death experiences are "proof" some say, that consciousness is not dependent on the brain functioning. But these new results show that brain functioning may persist for considerably longer than previously thought after the declaration of death. And this might explain near death experiences in a perfectly natural way. Near death experiences can simply be just brain activity that was previously thought to not exist.

Read the paper here: Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sacerdotus Too Scared To Debate Me


A known charlatan and fake "philosopher" who goes by the name of Sacertodus tried to challenge me to a debate online recently. He made a list of unwarranted demands, like to see my full ID with my name and birthdate (apparently to prove I'm not a minor, because he's a Catholic and Catholics are known pedophiles).

I said sure, but on the condition that he provide his ID so that I can verify who he is and find out if his supposed degrees in philosophy and science are real, because anyone can fake a screenshot. I'm positive he has no degrees because he is so insanely ignorance on both science and philosophy it's impossible he can have a degree. Impossible.

For example, after 3 weeks of debating via our blogs he still doesn't know the difference between presentism and eternalism, and is still confusing eternalism for the steady state theory. He still doesn't know eternalism is derived from special relativity, and that it's just the philosophical name for the ontology of spacetime. On top of that he makes dozens of errors on ethics (asserting Catholic dogma as fact) and evolution (asserting that there was a genetic Adam and Eve who lived at the same time who we all descended from). There's no way someone with even 1 year of college education can be so ignorant on this.

And so because I didn't send him my data he claims I forfeited the debate. Please. I don't debate pathological liars (which he has a reputation for). I would easily whoop his ass in a debate and eagerly look forward to it. He'll be a piece of cake. All he has to do is email me his ID information and I will send him mine. He refuses to do that, and so he forfeits the debate. I have standards too. I don't waste time with charlatans.

If Sacerdotus isn't too scared to debate me, he can send the information any time. Or if he refuses, then he must drop any requirements for me to prove who I am. Ball's in his court.

Here's some links to my latest refutation of him showing how I easily refuted him without any effort:


https://disqus.com/home/discussion/atheismandthecity/sacerdotus_is_even_more_stupid_than_previously_thought_pt_1/#comment-3640605405

https://disqus.com/home/discussion/atheismandthecity/sacerdotus_is_even_more_stupid_than_previously_thought_pt_1/#comment-3641821038

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Phil Zuckerman On Why Secularism Can't Be A Scapegoat For Society's Ills


Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

The more secular a nation or state is the more peaceful, happy, and less violent it is in general. This is not to say that secularism and less religiosity cause peace, happiness, and violence to decline, I think the causation is the other way around. But the correlations between secularism and peaceful societies show that no one can say that declining religion will cause societies to collapse into violent, lawless states.

Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist at Pitzer College explains in an LA Times article from 2 years ago that the often heard scapegoating of secularism as the culprit of our nation's woes is horribly misled. (But don't expect religious conservatives to change their tune any time soon.)

Take homicide. According to the United Nations' 2011 Global Study on Homicide, of the 10 nations with the highest homicide rates, all are very religious, and many — such as Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil — are among the most theistic nations in the world. Of the nations with the lowest homicide rates, nearly all are very secular, with seven ranking among the least theistic nations, such as Sweden, Japan, Norway and the Netherlands.

Now consider the flip side: peacefulness. According to the nonprofit organization Vision of Humanity, which publishes an annual Global Peace Index, each of the 10 safest and most peaceful nations in the world is also among the most secular, least God-believing in the world. Most of the least safe and peaceful nations, conversely, are extremely religious.

As professor Stephen Law of the University of London observed: "If a decline in religiosity were the primary cause [of social ills], then we would expect those countries that have seen the greatest decline to have the most serious problems. But that is not the case."


What about within the United States? According to the latest study from the Pew Research Center, the 10 states that report the highest levels of belief in God are Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma (tied with Utah). The 10 states with the lowest levels of belief in God are Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, Oregon and California. And as is the case in the rest of the world, when it comes to nearly all standard measures of societal health, including homicide rates, the least theistic states generally fare much better than the most theistic. Consider child-abuse fatality rates: Highly religious Mississippi's is twice that of highly secular New Hampshire's, and highly religious Kentucky's is four times higher than highly secular Oregon's. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Is The Soul Discernible To Science?



Salon had an extended excerpt from a recent book by Julien Musolino rebutting the commonly held belief in the soul, and the charlatans who promote it, The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain From Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs.

It sounds like a good read, but unfortunately I have little time to read full books nowadays due to my hectic schedule and ADD. It does cover one thing very interesting, and that is whether or not the soul is discernible to science. As I've argued on my blog, the soul hypothesis is absolute in the domain of science, as Musolino affirms.

So how can we decide whether souls exist? Is this even a question about which science has anything to say? To many people, the answer to my second question is a resounding “No.” After all, science deals with phenomena that can be objectively observed and measured. The soul, by contrast, cannot be observed or measured because it is claimed to be immaterial. Therefore, soul beliefs belong to the realms of religion and metaphysics. This conclu­sion, however, is mistaken. The soul is a scientific hypothesis about the design and functioning of human beings (the stuff of biology, psychology, and neuroscience), and dualism makes claims about the detachability of mind and body and the existence of a substance capable of causal interaction with ordinary matter (the stuff of physics). As such, souls are fair game for scientific investigation, subject to the same criteria that apply to the evaluation of any other scientific idea (a line of reasoning developed more generally for other supernatural concepts by the physicist Victor J. Stenger in his book "God: The Failed Hypothesis"). After all, science can tell us what happened a fraction of a second after the big bang took place, some 13.8 billion years ago, when no one was around to make measurements or record anything. Is it so far-fetched that science would also have something to say about what we are made of and how we function? 

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Part 5


Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.



Happy Thanksgiving!

A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.

If you're wondering why my posts denigrate him so harshly it's because he mocks atheists and calls atheism stupid. Here I'm just giving him a taste of his own medicine.


I continue with part 5 covering arguments 12 and 13. Starting with his response to argument 12, his words are in block quotes.


12) All the arguments for god fail


Continuing on with this sad excuse for rebuttal we come to some demographics on atheism. He writes,

Atheism is declining. The author is not up-to-date and relies on an old 2014 study.  According to the Pew Research, atheism is on the decline (see: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/07/why-people-with-no-religion-are-projected-to-decline-as-a-share-of-the-worlds-population/). Previous studies claiming that the "nones" is on the rise clearly specify that these "nones" are not atheists, but those who are indifferent to religion. In other words, they are people who simply do not adhere to organized religion but still believe in God.  Atheism or atheists who completely reject God and religion are in fact on the decline. It is nearly extinct in Russia (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/07/atheism-declining-in-russia.html).

Many mistakes here. First, taken at face value, that article doesn't say atheism or the unaffiliated is declining. It says the unaffiliated will decline as a percentage of the world's population only due to the rising number of Muslim births in third world countries. (And by this metric Christianity is also declining). It doesn't say the raw number of atheists or unaffiliated will decline. In fact, the number of unaffiliated is actually expected to grow from 1.1 billion to 1.2 billion. He'd know that if he actually read the article instead of reading the headline.


Secondly, I've already written a critique on my blog about the faulty methodology of PEW's projection methods. Read: Did Pew Project The Future Of Religion Accurately? I wrote that "It seems that they're not taking into account conversions and deconversions. Many theists are leaving their religions and becoming unaffiliated (which includes all deists, agnostics, and atheists) and this is especially true in the West, where the number of Christians is dropping precipitously. Their future projection of the percentage of the unaffiliated in the US by 2050 seems deeply suspect, and indeed, out of whack with their other data."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Part 4


Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.



A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.

If you're wondering why my posts denigrate him so harshly it's because he mocks atheists and calls atheism stupid. Here I'm just giving him a taste of his own medicine.

I continue with part 4 covering arguments 10 and 11. Starting with his response to argument 10, his words are in block quotes.


10) Euthyphro's trilemma


And now we come to the Euthypho trilemma, one of my favorite areas to debate.

I wrote that Euthyphro's dilemma works with monotheism as well as polytheism. He ignorantly writes back saying,

It actually does not. The Euthyphro dilemma originates from Greece where polytheism was the norm. Euthyphro himself was a priest of a polytheistic sect. If he were alive today, he would not understand the argument the author is making and will probably be upset at the distortion the author is giving the dilemma that bears his name. 

The argument's logic is not dependent on polytheism, and Euthyphro would recognize the argument in a monotheistic context. In fact, the argument makes more sense on monotheism, because then there is only one god in which morality could be dependent on, instead of a council of gods, who might have conflicting views. It is irrelevant that the argument got started in a polytheistic culture. That Sacerdotus doesn't know this proves he can't possibly have a degree in philosophy.

Furthermore, I did not simply state "God is good." I wrote more than the author acknowledges. We can assume why he/she does not acknowledge my refutation. He/she cannot address it. Once again, the author restates his/her faulty premise.  

Um no. Let's review what he originally wrote in his response:

In reality, the atheist is the one who has the problem. God is good. God is the fullness of goodness and love. God is love (1 John 4:8). Goodness and love do not exist as separate entities from God.

All that does is assert the same idea: "God is good." It doesn't prove any of the assertions, it just asserts it! Prove god is good. Go ahead. Go do it. Quoting the Bible doesn't prove squat. Also, explain to my why is god good. Is god good because "God is love" as you state in 1 John? Then that means love is good independently of god. If love isn't good independently of god, then the burden of proof is on Sacerdotus to show why. He needs to tell us why love is good. You see, Sacerdotus is a typically lazy internet apologist. He literally thinks he can just say "God is good" and "God is love" and think that settles it. Oh my. I guess since some internet apologist with a fake degree said god is good then that settles it! Atheism is false! How imbecilic he is. The atheist has no problem here because the theist has no evidence. They just assert a claim and think they've won. The trilemma is unavoidable. If you can't explain why god is good you can't demonstrate the claim. And you can't explain why god is good without showing goodness exists independently of god.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Pt. 3


Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.



A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.


Here I continue with part 3 covering arguments 7, 8, and 9. Starting with his response to argument 7, his words are in block quotes:


7) Brute facts are unavoidable


Next he continues falsely accuses me of plagiarism, saying,

Yes, that is what the word plagarize means.  The author wrote word-for-word an article from Wikipedia. Note, Wikipedia is not a valid source.  Anyone can edit it. Universities frown upon it and automatically fail students who use it as a source. The fact that this author derives his/her content from Wikipedia shows academic sloth. 

No I didn't. I merely copied the trilemma itself from the article in order to list it, that is different from plagiarizing an article. To plagiarize is to "take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own." I didn't do that, and he even admits I never stated that I tried to pass it off as my own. That means his plagiarize claim fails. Wikipedia simply lists the trilemma so that he and everyone else can understand it, since it's obvious he's ignorant of it (despite his supposed degree!). It isn't to prove the trilemma is true. Wikipedia is actually a great resource for learning philosophy. Sacerdotus would learn a lot more if he spent more time on it. It's clear he has no thirst for truth. All he does is try and defend his preexisting views, albeit, really badly.

The Munchausen’s trilemma (also known as Agrippa's trilemma which goes all the way back to Diogenes) is a well known trilemma that everyone with a philosophy degree should known about. Apparently that's not Sacerdotus. Even his former professor Dr. Pigliucci affirms it, so it's hard for me to believe he has an actual degree. He's just so ignorant of basic philosophy it can't be real. Dr. Pigliucci for example writes,

Munchausen’s trilemma is a reasonable conclusion arrived at by logical reasoning. 

In other words, the trilemma is logically unavoidable and most, if not all people who are actually familiar with philosophy are aware of this thorny problem.

Moreover, I never stated that the author discovered the trilemma. He/she is clearly lying here. Nor did I claim that he/she claims God has an immutable nature etc.  This author clearly has reading comprehension problems. I stated that the author does not understand theology and the immutable nature of God. This is why his/her argument fails. The author claims that "God's will to create this universe is not necessary.." this premise is baseless. 

I didn't say he accused me directly of discovering the trilemma. If you accuse someone of plagiarizing, which again means to take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own, then this implies that I tried to pass the trilemma off on my own. Because if I didn't try to pass it off as my own, then I didn't plagiarize. That's Sacerdotus's dilemma. Either I tried to pass it off as my own and I plagiarized, or I didn't try to pass it off as my own and I didn't plagiarize. He can't accuse me of plagiarizing material while acknowledging I didn't try to pass it off as my own.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Pt. 2


Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.



A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.


Here I continue with part 2 covering arguments 3, 4, 5, and 6.Starting with his response to argument 3, his words are in block quotes:

3) Causality doesn't exist in the way we think it does


He writes,

Yes, the author does not understand causality.  

I understand causality way better than Sacerdotus does. Notice how he doesn't even bother to attempt to define causality. And notice that his assumption of causality presupposes presentism, which he has not ever even attempted to justify (because he's too ignorant to know he's even presupposed it!).

Yes, there is a consensus that the universe had a cause. This is taught in all cosmology, physics and astronomy courses.  Clearly, the author has never taken any of the aforementioned.

Prove it. Prove the universe had a cause. I asked him to show evidence for that in my last response post, and he still has provided no evidence. Better yet, he needs to define what he means by "causality." I defined what I mean by it, he has not. He's begging the question. This is an utter failure on Sacerdotus's part to demonstrate he's logical and knows how to debate. I've provided ample evidence for my claims, he's provided very little or none for his. Also, I took physics and astronomy courses. There was no mention of the universe having a cause. None. He's also not understanding the usage of "cause" in the colloquial sense versus what it really means to most physicists. He's confusing the colloquial cause with the scientific cause in the same way creationists confuse the colloquial "theory" with the scientific theory.

The author claims that I showed no evidence, yet in my previous post I provided the paragraph the author quoted with a hyperlink. Once again, the author misapplies the argument ad populum. The aforementioned is coined for criticism against common belief, not scientific fact. In science, a consensus is needed. This is why the peer review system exists. This is how science checks and balances itself. We see once again that this author simply is aloof to the facts.

Sacerdotus never provided any evidence that the universe had a cause, which is the thing in question. He provided a link to an article from Cern saying the universe shouldn't exist, but that's completely irrelevant. Yet another failure on his part to be logical and rational. You can't tell me I'm out of line with a consensus when you provide zero evidence for a consensus. My views are actually the mainstream view. Sacerdotus is too ignorant to realize that because all he knows is popular level apologetics.

The author then appeals to Sean Carroll in order to avoid addressing my reply. He/she does not realize that Sean Carroll is giving his personal opinion and does not even offer data or statistics to back up his claims. If you look at the pdf file linked, there is no data. It is just an essay that he wrote. Give me a break.

Carroll is just giving his opinion. He believes that events do not have purpose or causes, but does not show why. 

Wait, so when I quote a scientist, I'm just giving his "opinion," but when Sacerdotus quotes a scientist, it's somehow scientific fact? Give me a break. Look at that double standard. Carroll isn't giving his option. He's explain how, from his decades as a physicist working on cosmology and a fundamental understanding of the universe, there is no causality in the way people normally define the term. He explains this in the paper he wrote, that what we think of causes are really just

a description of the relationship between patterns and boundary conditions....If we know the state of a system at one time, and the laws governing its dynamics, we can calculate the state of the system at some later time. You might be tempted to say that the particular state at the first time “caused” the state to be what it was at the second time; but it would be just as correct to say that the second state caused the first.

Carroll further explains this in his excellent book, The Big Picture, and in his many talks and lectures. See here where I fast forwarded his talk to the relevant section on causality:



Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sacerdotus Is (Even More) Stupid (Than Previously Thought) Pt. 1


Author's note: I know I just wrote that I'd be spending more time writing about social issues and lay off atheism for a bit, but a recent attempt to rebut my blog post on why I'm an atheist got my attention and prompted me to make a response. I'll get back to social issues when this is done.


A supposed "philosopher" who challenged me on my post Why I'm An Atheist, wrote a follow up to my follow up, and in it he claims again, that's he's refuted me and that I'm ignorant of science and philosophy. The exact opposite is true and I can easily show why. His arguments are so bad, they are laughable. And I don't mean this to be facetious, I mean this with all seriousness. He makes so many common argumentative mistakes and factual errors that I cannot take him seriously that he has a degree in philosophy and science. If he does have a degree, he should get a refund, because he apparently learned no serious critical thinking skills because of it. His arguments are on the caliber of the same old tired internet apologist, like the many wannabe William Lane Craig clones out there. Only he's at the low end of the spectrum.

The supposed philosopher's pen name is Sacerdotus and he accuses me of nothing more than ad hominem attacks. This is false, and a common misunderstanding of what an ad hominem attack is. An ad hominem attack is when you attack your opponent instead of attacking their arguments. I attacked his arguments, quite successfully, in addition to attacking his character. So I made no ad hominem attacks because I addressed his sad excuses for an argument, quite successfully. The reason why I call him stupid in most post (aside from being accurate, is because he calls atheism stupid. I'm giving him a taste of his own medicine, and he calls it an ad hominem! The irony.

I'm going to refute his attempt at refuting my refutation to show how he still just doesn't get it, and is making the same mistakes over and over. His words will appear in block quotes. In the beginning of his post he writes,

As Socrates said, "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."  Well, we now see the loser show his/her face via ad hominem, so to speak.  He even calls me "gay," which shows he clearly is the losing party.

I called him gay because he is gay, not because it is a slander, and he's a Catholic who defends the church. I find that relevant. If you're going to defend a church that for centuries tried to destroy your existence, that is telling and relevant. If he's not actually gay, then I apologize.

Notice how his replies are just a restatement of his/her previous errors already refuted and how he/she avoids addressing my refutation directly.  I will once again re-refute his/her nonsense and show how they are false when vetted against science, philosophy, and theology just as I have before.  

The point is he didn't actually refute my original arguments. And so what I did was I just explained them further with more insight into why his responses didn't refute them. My arguments mostly went right over his head because they're too sophisticated for him, despite his supposed (and apparently useless) degree in philosophy. My arguments are the culmination of years and years debating theism and they are not entry-level arguments. They rely on a deep understanding of science and philosophy, like a deep understanding of special relativity, which Sacerdotus clearly doesn't have because he doesn't understand at all what special relativity implies for our understanding of time and causality.

So let me refute his attempt at a rebuttal one by one to show (very easily) how his arguments all completely fail. This will be done over several parts throughout this week. Starting with my first argument:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sacerdotus Is Stupid



A gay theist (gaytheist?) on the internet attempted to refute my recent post explaining why I'm an atheist. He claims it was "easy" and that I show a lack of understanding of science and philosophy! Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. It's he who lacks in-depth understanding of physics, philosophy, religion, and atheism, and a refutation of his "refutation" was really easy for me, albeit just time consuming.

But since I'm off work for the next few days and I'm bored at home (it's freezing outside!) let me for the record refute his pathetic attempt at a refutation.

Here's his attempt at a refutation of my argument number 1. My original arguments can be read here.

1) The traditional notion of god isn't coherent


He responds:

The author here runs on a strawman argument. He simply does not understand the concept of God. The author assumes that God is subject to his terms or the terms of the understandings of man; that is to say, how we perceive and understand everything. He claims that theists resort to special pleading to address what he claims to be contradictions. However, he is doing exactly that. He argues that change requires times and fails to back this up. We know from cosmology that there was no time prior to cosmic inflation. Time is a product that came into existence after the "big bang." Despite this, a change did take place. If change did not take place, there would have been no "big bang" event. Moreover, the author fails to understand that God is a being, not a mere concept. This being is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him. St. Augustine tried and experienced a vision of his angel as a young boy who was at the shore trying to put the ocean in a small hole in the sand. The boy went to and fro collecting water in a shell until St. Augustine stopped him and inquired as to what the boy was trying to do. The boy said he was trying to put the entire ocean in the hole he dug. St. Augustine brushed it off as a something that came out of a babe's mouth and explained that it was not possible for the ocean to be poured into a small hole. The boy replied that neither can he put the entirety of God into his mind.

Every time I'm told that a person has "refuted" atheism I'm sadly disappointed. This is one of those times. Here I'm clearly saying god is subject to logic. As I clearly wrote in the post, "god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible." These aren't my terms and conditions, or the limitations of human intellect, this is our ability to be logical. Deny this, and you throw all of logic out the window. That includes your ability to logically "prove" atheism false - or anything else. That change requires time is obvious and certain. To change requires two states of being that cannot exist at the same time, otherwise you'd get a contradiction: A = ¬A. This is logically impossible. That this guy doesn't understand that means he fails logic 101, and that means his assessment of the rest of the argument fails. This is why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. I do this because - exactly as I predict - theists resort to special pleading to explain away god's inconsistence. When he says god "is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him," he is resorting to special pleading. If you can't coherently explain god, you can't coherently say god exists. This guy fails to do that. His response to argument 1 completely fails and did exactly what I predicted.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toxic Masculinity From A Man's Perspective — Let's Go There


Author's note: I've been wanting to write more about social issues and sexuality for a while now. And since I just wrote a long follow up to why I'm an atheist, I thought I'd give atheism a rest for a little but. So I'm going to be focused on non-atheism and non-religious topics for a bit.



Just about a year ago I became aware of the term "toxic masculinity." While I had not been familiar with the term, I was aware of the concept. It's something I've been dealing with basically all my life. So what is it?

According to Wikipedia,

The concept of toxic masculinity is used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. Such "toxic" masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotions.

According to Geek Feminism,

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

The "toxic" denotes a distinction between masculinity simpliciter. There's masculinity, and then there's toxic masculinity. In other words, some masculinity is good, and some masculinity is bad. (More on this later)

I definitely agree that there are common attitudes among men that are extremely destructive. I grew up in New York City and was exposed to the thug culture where you had to always be strong, never show any fear, and be willing to kick someone's ass at the drop of a hat if they disrespected you, otherwise you were a "pussy" or a "fagot." Now luckily I never went too deep into the thug culture, but I know from experience how utterly destructive it is.

Thug culture exemplifies the very worst of toxic hyper-masculinity. Every boy and man is trying to be the toughest muthafucka out there. No one's nice out of fear it will be confused with weakness. You can never show any emotion, vulnerability, or weakness of any kind. Women are to be used and abused to enhance the male ego and gratification. Homophobia is ubiquitous: gay males, or perceived gay males are to be bullied, harassed, mocked, and beaten up. The most aggressive, sexist, sociopathic male gets the most respect. It's insanity.

That was the culture I experienced growing up and I hated it. It was toxic masculinity on steroids. While other varieties exist to varying degrees, there are common threads: men must be strong, aggressive, unemotional, womanizing, competitive, and avoid doing things commonly associated with femininity. 

There are a couple of things to say about toxic masculinity as I see it from a male perspective. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Toxic Masculinity And Toxic Feminism


Feminism is a tainted word now, and there's a growing backlash against it and self-described feminists.

The problem of course is that we have this one word 'feminism' that labels a wide variety of ideas ranging from basic gender equality to 'all men are rapists,' and when someone criticizes 'feminism' they may be criticizing something entire different from how you define feminism. That's why the first thing you should ask a critic of feminism is "How do you define feminism?" Their definition might be a give away to exactly what your disagreement is.

And this is exactly why I think we need a term like toxic feminism to distinguish it from feminism simpliciter. 

Traditionally feminism meant and stood for gender equality: men and women should be treated equally and not discriminated based on gender. Most people, and even many conservatives today are down with that. But in recent years many new ideas spread under the label of 'feminism' have gone way past the basic common sense notions of gender equality. And these more extreme views are what I like to call toxic feminism; it's the female counterpart to toxic masculinity.

For example, some feminists today are spending all of their time complaining about the "patriarchy" as if sexism is as bad as it was in 1960. They're saying things like "everything is sexist...and you have to point it all out," and they're applying wicked double standards clearly biased against men. Case in point:


As the old saying goes, if you think like a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. In other words, if you're convinced that everything is sexist, you will start to see sexism everywhere — even where there isn't any. You will get many false positives, and it will be very hard to admit you're wrong because your whole identity will be wrapped up in pointing out sexism.

This is very dangerous, especially to the good, rational feminists, because the toxic feminism being promoted is making all feminists, and feminism, look bad. There's a whole industry of people gaining notoriety criticizing and exposing feminism's uglier ideas, from Sargon of Akkad, to Paul Joseph Watson, to TJKirk, to Milo Yiannopoulos, and women like Laura Southern. Toxic feminism is giving the Right legitimate arguments against liberalism, and that's why I consider it so poisonous.

And I don't deny toxic masculinity (which I will be writing more about in the future). There is no ridiculous either/or dichotomy. You can acknowledge the feminist's claim to toxic masculinity is at least in part legit, and you can acknowledge that 'feminism' has some terrible ideas being promoted under it.

Nuance people, nuance!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Curious Case Of John Doe


Kevin Spacey was in one of my favorite movies of all time, Seven. In it, he played a fanatically religious serial killer who killed his victims according to the seven deadly sins of gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath. The movie is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece of story, cinematography, set design, acting, and editing all coming together.

Recently, as I became fascinated with religion I started seeing Kevin Spacey's John Doe character in Seven in a new light. Spacey has been accused of sexually assaulting men as well as some teenage boys for decades going back to the 1980s. He used the opportunity to come out as a gay man, revealing inadvertently that he'd been repressing his homosexuality for decades, at least publicly.


I always thought the character of John Doe in Seven was a little gay, and I've now begun to think that his Catholic religious fanaticism — which unambiguously takes a hard line stance on homosexuality, could be the reason why he killed in the name of his religion.

Oftentimes, repressed homosexuals who live in conservative religious communities and families become more fanatical and more fundamentalist than anyone else, like pastor Ted Haggard who railed against homosexuality only to be found paying men for sex. They're trying to prove themselves pious because of their internal struggle with their sinful desires. I imagine John Doe was most likely in that same situation: a repressed homosexual laden with guilt and confusion driven to violent religious extremism in an effort to prove how pious he is. There's probably scores of ISIS recruits in the same situation given how common this thread is.

And it seems that the real Kevin Spacey may not be that different. The recent allegations that he's been sexually assaulting men and teenage boys I think stems partly from his repressed homosexual desires. According to one account, Spacey invited a teenage boy over to his place and who he invited to sleep in his bed and when the boy refused and slept on the couch instead, he woke up to find Spacey holding him. This sounds to me like a gay man longing for male companionship, but doing it all the wrong ways perhaps because he can't come out of the closet.

Would Spacey have done such things had he just came out as gay earlier? Is his behavior a result of repressed homosexuality, or is it just a predatory sexual appetite like Harvey Weinstein's? I don't know. I'm totally speculating here. Certainly being gay in and of itself doesn't entail wanting to sexually assault men and boys. It's an aberration. 

The movie Seven doesn't go into such ideas so this is extra speculation on a non-extant movie character, but it could explain John Doe's behavior, and it could be the reason why he killed the way he did.

In that case John Doe's sin wasn't envy, it was lust.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Is the Atheist Movement Dying?


Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist podcast just made an episode on whether the 'Atheist Movement' is dying. I gave it a listen because I too have been hearing such claims touted around.

I think Seth's assessment of the claim is for the most part accurate. 'The Atheist Movement' is a loose term that specifies no one particular group or thing. It's composed of thousands of local groups, YouTubers and bloggers, dozens of national organizations, as well as high profile actors and comedians who are simply open about their atheism and critique religion.

They don't all have a common goal either. Some want to promote atheism. Some want to criticize religion. Others want to promote critical thinking and secular values. And still others just want to be openly atheist as to normalize atheism.

As far as atheist conference attendance, it's possible it could be dying. I've only gone to two, and both were this year. It seems that we might be past that heyday we hit roughly 5-10 years ago when 'New Atheism' exploded and became an international thing. The original four horsemen have largely moved on to other things, and one of them died. Two of the remaining three have since become controversial in atheist circles from certain views they hold, and have alienated many in the movement.

Movements are usually spearheaded by charismatic figures, and we don't have the major figures we once had. But maybe it's best we don't follow a leader. Maybe it's best we atheists have our various factions with our own agendas.

The thing is, if we become too splintered any atheist movement ceases to be. The quest for ever more ideological purity undoes us and we begin infighting. It's kind of like what's happened in Protestant Christianity, with its 45,000+ denominations.

I do want an atheist community of sorts, and I support an atheist movement. Heck, in a sense I'm in one. I'm co-organizing The Atheist Conference in part to revive the atheist movement and grow atheist communities, so I care deeply that such a thing as an 'atheist movement' exist.

So listen to Seth lament on the claims being made. If you're interested in the topic, it's worth a listen.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why I'm An Atheist - 13 Reasons & Arguments For Atheism



More than three years ago I wrote a post entitled Why I'm An Atheist, where I briefly explained some of the reasons why I don't believe in god. That post, which was long over due at the time, needs an update. With each passing year I get much better at understanding the arguments for and against the existence of god, and since that post came out I've created several new arguments of my own. Rather than write it in essay form, which I did in the original post, I'll instead outline the main reasons and arguments briefly, one by one. So here we go.

I'm an atheist because....

1) The traditional notion of god isn't coherent


In order to even consider the possibility that a god exists, we first need a coherent concept of god. The traditional notion of god in classical theism is that of a timeless, changeless, immaterial mind, who also must be infinitely good, infinitely wise, and can do anything logically possible. There are some variations on this concept, but almost all traditional or classical theistic gods have these basic characteristics. The problem is that a timeless, changeless being by definition cannot do anything; it's necessarily causally impotent and nonfunctional. Change requires time, and time requires change. This is logically certain. And to create something, one must do something. Doing requires a change, regardless of whether that change is mental or physical. A being that cannot do anything cannot be omnipotent. As a result, the traditional notion of god is self contradictory. The theist's only resort here is special pleading. That's why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. That is, god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible. Once a theist agrees with this, they've cut themselves off from special pleading as an option. Some theists think god is atemporal before creating the universe, and temporal after creating the universe. But it isn't logically possible to exist timelessly and then suddenly jolt yourself into time out of your own will, because your will was timeless and frozen. It couldn't change into the state to want to change.

The failure of theists to come up with a coherent description of god is enough by itself to warrant atheism, but there's many more reasons to think no gods exist.

Learn Special Relativity Online For Free!



I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet.

A few years ago physicist Brian Greene created WorldScienceU, a free online classroom to teach science. The first course in physics is on Special Relativity, taught by Greene himself.

There are two versions of the course: the simple math-free version that allows you to understand the theory from a conceptual framework, and the full version which goes into all of the math. I've taken both courses, though I did skip most of the heavier math. There are several interactive features that allow you to play with spacetime diagrams and time dilation and length contraction to understand the ontology of the theory. If you complete the math course you basically understand the full theory, which is relatively easy. Ha!

Register now!



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Ayaan Hirsi Ali On Female Independence


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I really need to write more about feminism, and sex, and gender relations. In fact, I'm long overdue for a lengthy post on that. I've got a lot of thoughts on it, believe me. But I've just been so hard pressed on time with work, the conference, and personal things. This year it seems I will not have blogged as much as the past two years, unless I really pick up the pace these last few months. Perhaps quality is better than quantity?

Anyway, I came across this quote by Ayaan Hirsi Ali from her book Infidel. She talks about how the financial independence of women gives women dignity. I agree. Her quote reminded of my mother, who after divorcing my father didn't run to another man to take care of her. She instead went to college, got a bachelor's degree, got a job, and became financially independent from that point on. And I'm proud of her for that.

As a woman you are better off in life earning your own money. You couldn't prevent your husband from leaving you or taking another wife, but you could have some of your dignity if you didn't have to beg him for financial support.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Simple Logic Showing How The Principle Of Sufficient Reason Is Self-Refuting


A few weeks ago I was debating the principle of sufficient reason (PSR) with a bunch of theists and a pantheist over in the combox of Strange Notions.

To me, the PSR is blatantly false, and relatively easy to prove so. The PSR's own assumptions can show how it's self refuting. In this blog post I want to compile some of the logic I use to show what entails from the PSR's stated premises that show it's flaws. Consider this:


1. The PSR demands that everything has an explanation.
2. Explanations can only be either necessary or contingent.
3. If an explanation is contingent, it will need a further explanation that is either necessary or contingent.
4. If a necessary explanation is not an eventual option, then the only possible explanations will have to be either an infinite regress of contingent explanations, or a brute fact.
5. A fourth option is impossible because the PSR demands only two possible kinds of explanations, which will ultimately terminate in 3 logical possibilities.

(Furthermore...)

6. Since brute facts are incompatible with the PSR, and an infinite regress of contingent explanations would require a necessary explanation for the chain's existence, the only real ultimate explanation for the PSR is a necessary one.
7. Since this universe is not logically necessary (necessitarianism is false - per argument below), the last remaining option per the PSR — the necessary option — also fails.
8. Even positing a god who creates/explains the universe doesn't resolve the problem because it is not logically necessary that god create our particular universe.
9. Since the PSR negates all 3 options, the PSR's logic is inherently false.
10. This means one will eventually have to come to the conclusion that brute facts are a necessity. (Even an infinite chain of contingent explanations will itself be a brute fact).


Now some of these steps need further justification.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Why Denying Eternalism Forces You To Accept Brute Facts



A few years ago when I was completely obsessed with the philosophy of time I read many papers for and against presentism and eternalism. In one paper called Presentism and Relativity philosopher Yuri Balashov and physicist Michel Janssen write that in order to maintain presentism one has to lose the explanatory power of the "space-time interpretation" or B-theory (which is eternalism). Lorentz invariance becomes an accidental property "shared by all laws effectively governing systems in Newtonian space and time." I've written in the past that without eternalism length contraction in special relativity becomes inexplicable. It "just is" that way with no apparent explanation. Balashov and Janssen argue it's not the thing that becomes inexplicable.

In the neo-Lorentzian interpretation it is, in the final analysis, an unexplained coincidence that the laws effectively governing different sorts of matter all share the property of Lorentz invariance, which originally appeared to be nothing but a peculiarity of the laws governing electromagnetic fields. In the space-time interpretation this coincidence is explained by tracing the Lorentz invariance of all these different laws to a common origin: the space-time structure posited in this interpretation (Janssen 1995, 2002).[22]
The argument can be made in different ways. Einstein made it in the opening paragraph of the 1905 paper with the help of his famous magnet-conductor example: for the current measured in the conductor only the relative motion of magnet and conductor matters, but in Lorentz’s theory the case with the magnet at rest is very different from the case with the conductor at rest. No matter how the argument is made, the point is that there are brute facts in the neo-Lorentzian interpretation that are explained in the space-time interpretation. As Craig (p. 101) writes (in a different context): “if what is simply a brute fact in one theory can be given an explanation in another theory, then we have an increase in intelligibility that counts in favor of the second theory.” We just presented such an argument in the case of the space-time interpretation versus the neo-Lorentzian interpretation. The argument is not iron-clad and may still be outweighed by the needs of theology or quantum mechanics. But it is on a par with, say, the argument for preferring Darwinian evolution over special creation. That is good enough for us. (emphasis mine)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Video: Losing Our Religion


A few years ago over on the PBS News Hour they had a segment on the recent PEW results which showed a dramatic drop in the number of self-identified Christians in the US and a rise in the non-religious. It's worth a watch to hear their analysis. One interesting moment is when they touch up on whether a deeply religious country is a good thing in and of itself and something to be preserved. It'll be interesting to see what further declines will occur in the coming decade. I predict that religion has entered a steep and irreversible decline, but we'll see.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The "God Has Morally Sufficient Reasons" Theodicy


It's been a bad few months in terms of natural disasters. Back-to-back hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated countries and regions in the Caribbean that were already struggling financially, killing at least 59 and 75 people, respectively. Prior to this, hurricane Harvey slammed east Texas dumping more than 25 trillion gallons of water, flooding the Houston metro area and gulf coast with as much as $180 billion in damages, and killing at least 82 people in the process. A series of earthquakes rocked southern and central Mexico killing at least 422 people, including 25 children at a school. Thousands more were injured, and perhaps millions more were affected by property damage from the natural disasters.

It's in times like these that I'm reminded of the problem of evil — specifically natural evil. Natural evil is an evil for which "no non-divine agent can be held morally responsible for its occurrence." Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, droughts, meteor impacts, and diseases that cause sentient beings to suffer or die and for which no human being is responsible are examples of natural evil.

Natural evil doesn't exist on atheism since there is no conscious creator, designer, or sustainer to nature. But since many theists do believe nature has a creator, designer, and sustainer who is also omnibenevolent — meaning perfectly and infinitely good, there is big problem with natural evil on most forms of theism, particularly Christian theism. To deal with the stinging issue of natural evil, theists have come up with theodicies, which are attempts to explain why an omnibenevolent deity can coexist with moral and natural evil.

Once such theodicy is what I'm going to call the "God has morally sufficient reasons" to allow evil theodicy, or the MSR theodicy. According to the MSR theodicy, god allows natural evils so that some good thing can come from it at a later time, kind of like how the pain you endure at the dentist (an experience I had the other week) is all for the greater good of having healthy teeth. It appears that the MSR theodicy is a variation of the soul building theodicy, which says that natural evils can be god's way of challenging moral agents to goodness or some soul building benefit.

Quote Of The Day: Sean Carroll On The Big Bang


Later on this year, probably in December, I'm going to be giving a talk at a Long Island Atheists event on how atheists can better answer some of the most common challenges they face. It's going to be called Make Atheism Great Again, and will be a preview of my talk at The Atheist Conference.

While making the PowerPoint presentation I made a slide featuring physicist Sean Carroll with a quote from his debate with William Lane Craig on God and Cosmology. It mentions the problem most people have with understanding the big bang — particularly Craig, who I think knows better, and yet continues to claim that on atheism the universe just "pops" into existence. Carroll sets the record straight, but don't expect Craig et al. to learn from it. Their job requires they deny this.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thinking About Taking The Pro-Truth Pledge


I've been a bit busy lately and haven't had much time to blog. I've been working with friends on putting together the first ever atheist conference in New York City and it's taking up much of my time. I'm currently in charge of recording and editing video promos for the event and this takes weeks of commitment. I'm also in charge of maintaining the site and various other event planning details.

I will have much more on this event in the upcoming weeks and months, but if you're interested, check out our site TheAtheistConference.com right now. Tickets just went on sale last week. We haven't heavily promoted it yet because we're waiting for a big event. But when the grand announcement is made, it will be made on all of our social media, including our Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as my site of course. I will also be speaking at the event moderating a panel. Stay tuned!

I also have many lengthy blog posts in the pipe that will be published later this month, including a critique of the "God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering" theodicy.

I will also be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this weekend for the annual Pennsylvania State Atheist/Humanist Conference. The Gotham Atheist contingent and I are going down there to help out and promote our conference. So that's going to take a few days away from blogging. I will hopefully have a lot in the second half of the month.


I've caught wind of the pro-truth pledge that's being talked about. In the age of Trump and rampant lying, asking people to take a pledge towards telling the truth is a necessity. There are people who are willing to lie about anything in order to further a political, economic, religious, or social goal. The ends always justifies the means, and it's leading to horrible behavior.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Zerin Firoze: Ex-Muslim Activist



A friend of mine who's a rising star in the secular, atheist, and ex-Muslim communities speaks publically about her experiences coming out of Islam, telling her story of the abuse and sexism she endured in its name. In this meme here she criticizes the professional liar and obscurantist Reza Azlan on his views on Bangladesh. He lies constantly about the treatment of women in Muslim majority countries, saying such nonsensical things like "in Indonesia women are absolutely 100% equal to men," which is empirically false.

He tells ignorant white Western liberals what they want to hear, and in the process, allows the sexism and homophobia in the Islamic world to persist. Reza is not dumb. He knows exactly what he's doing. He knows the majority of liberals listening to him will swallow his words whole and will not fact check a thing he says. He knows we all have an innate confirmation bias. And this is why we need to all be critical thinkers aware of our cognitive biases who fact check claims we want to believe are true.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

An Analysis Of A Former Liberal Turned Trump Voter's Reasons In "Waking Up"


I came across a blog post by a "gay, former liberal" describing his experience "waking up" out of liberalism to support Donald Trump for president. While reading it I saw a number of problems with his logic and so I'm going to critique them here. It's very important we get out of our echo chambers and understand the mindset of those who think differently from us and know where exactly they go wrong.

The blogger is named Josh and describes himself as a "32-year-old single Christian gay guy, who is helping raise his 3 year old niece." Fair enough. One can be conservative and gay, and technically one can be Christian and gay, especially since nowadays just about every Christian makes up his or her own version of Christianity to suit their personality.

In his post Josh describes how he started out not being particularly political, but interested in conspiracy theories, and then later jettisoned that interest and got deeper into politics in the beginning of the last presidential election cycle. He writes,

Then something gradually happened… while watching the debates to crack jokes, I began internalizing the information, suddenly finding my eyes to begin opening. I became aware of ISIS, and others with the desire to come to America for the purposes of ending our way of life, and illegals pouring through our borders, costing taxpayers billions, and contributing to crime. I discovered our Veterans were being treated poorly, many homeless on the streets, while others are allowed to come to the United States illegally, reaping the benefits. A wide range of issues really started to resonate with me.

A few things. Yes ISIS are evil people hell bent on destroying our way of life (you know, the liberal way) and are driven by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. It's good to be aware of that and Democrats far too often do not acknowledge this.

Illegal immigration since the financial collapse in 2008 has been slightly declining — meaning, there's been a net decrease for nearly 10 years. But Josh is completely ignorant of that data, as is Trump, and almost all of his supporters.

As for the cost to tax payers, there's mixed data on this. Some right-leaning sources have the annual cost to tax payers at $113 billion, and many of these studies rely on estimates and include the cost of US born children of illegal immigrants who are themselves US citizens. Other studies have the number closer to $85 billion, and left-leaning sources say that there's an over all net-positive due to the consumer demand, tax revenue from income tax, payroll taxes, and the positive economic impact of lower priced goods from the cheap labor. But one thing's clear: giving illegal immigrants legal status and cracking down on work places that hire illegal immigrants off the books so that they do not pay taxes would dramatically lessen the tax burden they have on US tax payers.

And finally when it comes to the "contributing to crime" claim, it's true. Some illegal immigrants contribute to crime. But you know what? Some tourists contribute to crime. Should we ban tourists then? Of course not. Merely contributing to crime is not a justification to deport all illegal immigrants. You can't expect 11 million people to be completely crime free. Studies also show the crime rate of illegal immigrants is lower than that of native citizens. And over all crime in the US has dropped over the last 25 years, just as the numbers of illegal immigrants was rapidly increasing.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Rapture Is Coming!!!


I woke up yesterday to find this gem under my door warning me that the Rapture is coming, maybe today (who knows). Looks like I'll have to adjust my vacation plans.


Like all silly Christian apologetics, this one begins with the assumption that the Bible is the word of god. The writer of this pamphlet (along with almost all Christians) is totally unaware that 2 Timothy and 2 Thessalonians are widely considered forgeries. On the third page it quickly warns us unbelievers of what's to come:


All true believing Christians will suddenly disappear at the Rapture. This means you could be in the middle of having sex with a Christian and she or he will just vanish in the middle of the act. A Christian about to murder someone will vanish just before they plunged the knife into their victim. Airplanes being flown by Christians will suddenly be without a pilot.

Disbelievers are warned we'll face 7 years of physical torment and death in the years after the Rapture, and will be sent "strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" whatever the hell that means.

I hope these stupid pamphlets have the exact opposite effect that they're intended to have. I hope they turn people away from Christianity, and religion in general, because of how judgmental and absurd they are.

In the future, large numbers of Christians will disappear, but it won't be because of any supernatural Rapture. It'll be because they became atheists.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"If Determinism Were True There'd Be No Reason To Try And Convince Anyone Of Anything"


It's one of the most common responses you'll hear from people who believe in free will: If determinism were true there'd be no reason to try and convince anyone of anything.

There's just one little bitty problem with the claim. The exact opposite is true. Over on Strange Notions (a site I've been frequenting recently) they've written a whole series of blog posts attempting to refute Sean Carroll's last book The Big Picture. One of them, entitled Is Free Will Real or Are We All Determined? critiques Carroll's defense of determinism. All of the critiques are bad and misleading but the fourth one makes use of the claim above:

A fourth problem is that if determinism was true, Carroll would not be writing books attempting to persuade people of that fact. If reality is fundamentally determined, why would he spend time trying to convince readers to freely change their minds, to freely adjust their understanding of the world to align with poetic naturalism? Even if I, a theist, read Carroll's book and become convinced that poetic naturalism was true, I couldn't freely reject my theism, no matter what I chose or how hard I tried—I'm simply determined to believe what I believe.

The first part is totally incorrect. If determinism is true, things you do or say have a causal effect on people who hear them. However, it's only if free will is true — where your thoughts are uncaused and thus have no connection to anything that happen before them — that it makes no sense to convince anyone of anything. Don't confuse determinism with fatalism. On fatalism, things happen regardless of whether they're caused. On determinism, things only happen if they're caused. Trying to convince someone determinism is true will increase the likelihood they will accept it because you might be that causal force that changes their mind, and nobody knows the future with certainty. So it makes perfect sense to try and convince someone of something on determinism, but it makes no sense whatsoever to do so on free will. Free will requires your thoughts be uncaused (lest they wouldn't be free) and you cannot by definition have control over anything uncaused. So there is no "freely" coming to conclusions on free will; they'd all be random fluctuations.

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