10-08-16 5:56  •  Political Death Match

BluesSinger: Ok so this isn't Celebrity Death Match, though I am sure many here would love it if it were. The Hilldabeast and Sexual Assault Oompa Loompa could go at it in a cage fight, and whoever walks out alive is the next president.

Sadly, this is not our world.

I'm really just disgusted with both the major parties. Neither of them really want to work together for the common good of the nation as a whole. What is wrong with those people?

They are not doing it on purpose. They are doing what humans always do, which is responding predictably to the incentives which are presented.

If we want anyone to act different, the thing we have to change is the incentive structure.

BluesSinger: No, I think the politicians are doing it on purpose. I think that the establishment knows full well what it is doing.

They are elected. Why doesn't changing to different people change the way they work?

BluesSinger: Changing a seat here or there doesn't help.

If you want to change the system you have to completely clean house. Not just take out some of the trash.

Yeller: I agree with Blues! We need new blood!

How are the new people different?

BluesSinger: I wish I knew every new Senator or Representative however I don't. So I am unsure how to answer your question.

You stated that if everyone could be re-elected at once, then things would be different. How could it be different? They could only get elected using the same exact systems the previous bunch got elected in. The rewards of elected office would attract the exact same kind of people to participate. What makes you think anything would be different?

BluesSinger: If the country could come together as a whole I think they would choose leaders who would make different decisions and help to shape the government the way we want it to be shaped.

Possibly, but the problem is NOT, as I said, that everyone who got elected before was 'bad', and the problem cannot be solved by just electing 'good' people instead.

The problem, as you acknowledge in your response to Dawnharvey, is that our SYSTEM is not good. The current incentive structure will always attract certain types and require certain behaviors to succeed. The system itself is causing corruption, deadlock and entrenched partisanship.

"New blood" can't get into the system unless it's just like the old blood. We have to change the system. For example, different kinds of entry into the system would allow different types of people in.

Campaign finance reform is an obvious beginning. Right now only the wealthy can play. Changing that one part of the system would change a lot of other things. It might allow the kind of leaders you would choose to have a chance.

10-17-16 5:56  •  Ice and Fascism

This is continued from a discussion about modern witchcraft, here.

OrangeHair: Okay then, Miss "Science," if you are so smart, now explain to the world why it is that water expands when it freezes while everything else contracts, hmm?

Good one, thanks for asking! It's actually very interesting, I'm happy to explain.

You see, the reason why things ordinarily shrink when they freeze and expand when they thaw is because when you get things warmer, they vibrate more, and this tends to cause the molecules to take up more space.

Liquid water also vibrates more than frozen water. But, water molecules have a very unusual shape, being comprised of one atom of oxygen stuck to two hydrogen atoms. Because of this characteristic "Mickey Mouse" shape, when they slow down, the molecules of HČO tend to form hydrogen bonds. The hydrogens link together holding the oxygens apart, forming big holes in the molecular structure. These big holes are why ice seems larger - it contains more empty space than liquid water.

But, even supposing I couldn't explain it, this would still be a tremendous logical fallacy. You seem to think that if reason cannot explain everything, then it cannot explain anything. This is a common mistake.

There are many wonderful mysteries to explore, but that doesn't mean that making up explanations works. It doesn't. Reason is making accurate explanations for the things that can be explained and giving an honest "I don't know" and "Let's find out!" to everything else.

OrangeHair: So telling people that they have to believe as you believe isn't fascist?

Where did I say they have to?

OrangeHair: Your ice explanation is incorrect.

Why water freezes is one of the things no one knows. Scientists can't explain it.

This is ridiculous.  What makes you think scientists can't explain it?  Have you checked?  They explain it all the time.

Here is a quote from the web site for the International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam:

This unusual behavior has its origin in the structure of the water molecule. There is a strong tendency to form a network of hydrogen bonds, where each hydrogen atom is in a line between two oxygen atoms. This hydrogen bonding tendency gets stronger as the temperature gets lower (because there is less thermal energy to shake the hydrogen bonds out of position). The ice structure is completely hydrogen bonded, and these bonds force the crystalline structure to be very "open", as shown in the following picture:

Here are two pictures showing the difference between liquid and frozen water:

Liquid water:

Frozen water:

This also explains why ice floats in water, because it is less dense. 

There are any number of science-related web sites that explain it. 

University of Cambridge  - Why does water expand when it freezes?

Reference.com -  Why does...

The expansion of water upon freezing - Hyper Physics

Here's a video that illustrates it:

From the textbook Structural Biochemistry:

The reason that water expands when freezing is that when it is near its freezing temp (below 4°C), the hydrogen bonds between water molecules become stronger. Because the bonds between water molecules are stronger, they are more unlikely to break and re-form like when in its liquid state. In its liquid state, water molecules are constantly moving (forming and breaking hydrogen bonds) resulting in less expansion. The water molecules therefore are more refined and are arranged in a manner that forms a six-sided crystal, which makes the ice less dense than the liquid water. When water freezes, it expands by approximately 9%.

Another illustration from a textbook:

OrangeHair: But, thank you for showing the world what a fascist prick you are. That you are more than willing to make stuff up and lie to force people into your own agenda.

Do you really think I made up all these web sites and textbooks and illustrations myself? Like, yesterday?

OrangeHair: Do you even know what "fascist" means?

It is a form of oppressive government.

OrangeHair: You are fascist so far in every post in this discussion! We can't believe what we want. We can't live our lives the way we see fit. We have to live them and think the way you do.

This is even more ridiculous than your previous assertion. Am I an oppressive government, making laws against your religion, throwing you in jail for your practice? Have I suggested government intervention in the slightest way, shape or form? Of course not, and your paranoia to the contrary is hysterical. In what way have I prevented you from believing what you want, living how you want? By posting?

Your contention that my words on Cafe Mom are somehow oppressing you is laughable, sorry.

You, like every other person in a society of personal liberty, can believe what you want, live your life the way you see fit, etc, and I would fight to the death for your right to continue to do so. Do you understand? It is your protected right to think anything.

However, that doesn't make it a good idea.

For example, there is no way I can force you to stop thinking that the expansion of frozen water is unexplainable, and I would not try to force you, and I would never see you persecuted for this view, or required to recant it.

That doesn't make it a smart or good idea to continue to think it. It would be better for you, better for society, if you understood what the science textbooks say about water.

Do you see the difference? I'm not a fascist, or even a prick, just for pointing out that your view seems to be wrong. Any more than first grade teachers are fascists, for flunking students on the math quiz who don't accept that 2+2=4. There are answers which can be shown to be accurate explanations. Accuracy is not fascism, it's just the best - most accurate - type of explanation.

But this discussion is a terrific illustration, so I'm looking forward to continuing it. Thanks so much, OrangeHair!

10-08-16 5:56  •  Hell

Houseplant: Do you believe people go to Heaven? Who is the first person you want to see when you get there?

I would like to meet Captain Picard and Lt. Commander Data. Also Hazel-rah and Fiver.

Selma: I believe there is a hell. I believe nonbelievers go there when they die.

Does this include Muslims?

Selma: Jesus said, "I am the way the Truth and the Light. NO MAN comes to the Father but by Me."

I don't think it matters if you are Christian, Muslim, Buddist, Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostal, Methodist, Hezbolah, atheist, or whatever else is out there- Jesus is the only way to heaven according to the Bible.

Well in that case perhaps you should not say "non-believers" go to hell. Muslims are believers.

Selma: Ok, I'm confused. I said "nonbelievers go to hell" not anyone else. I didn't name anyone else. I didn't mention Muslims at all in that post!

I asked you about Muslims. I'll ask again. Do Muslims go to hell?

Selma: If Jesus was accepted as Lord of their lives, then no.

By definition Muslims do not do this.

Selma: If not, then yes.

So, Muslims go to hell when they die.

Why do you like this?

Selma: Do I like it? Not in the least.

Why do you do this if you don't like it?

Selma: Because of the changes it has made in me. For the better, and the peace that comes along with it.

Well that seems kind of selfish. I certainly wouldn't value personal peace over the souls of billions of good-hearted Muslims, Hindus, Shintos, Buddhists, etc. being tortured forever and ever. I couldn't live with myself.

But, perhaps you are not aware that you don't have to believe one to believe the other. For example, Unitarian Universalists believe that Christ's redemption applies automatically to every person that lives. This seems much more loving and fair. And UUs certainly seem to experience as much positive change and peace from their beliefs as other Christians.

If you wanted to do something you like instead of something you don't like, you could believe that instead.

Selma: How is it selfish to make a choice based on the offer Christ gave and it's open to EVERYONE?

It is selfish for you to think that as long as YOU get peace, it's perfectly okay for other good people to be tortured forever and ever.

And, it's also selfish to pretend that Muslims have every bit as much opportunity to "accept Christ" as you did. Did you know that they already have a religion, complete with a god and a prophet, of their own?

How is a person, who was raised to worship Allah and praise Mohammed, supposed to realize that their own religion is wrong? How is it fair to punish them forever and ever for doing what they are raised their whole lives to believe is the right and moral choice?

Selma: My heart breaks when I think of my brothers in hell.

No person with a conscience could enjoy Heaven.

Othar: Its not good at all.

If it's not good then why do you want it to be true?

Othar: I said it isn't good, because of the alternative, it's heaven or hell- that alternative is NOT good if you aren't going to heaven.

Your religion seems very unfair to Muslims, Hindus, Shinto, Sikhs, Buddhists and (until recently) almost everyone not of white European descent.

Muslims talk to God five times a day. They think God is in their lives, helping them to be good. How come He never tells them they are not going to heaven?

Othar: Muslims!? What are you talking about? According to this verse in the Bible, the only way to heaven is through Jesus.

According to verse in the Quran, Jesus is not the Son of God.

Othar: Who are Muslims praying to 5 times a day? Does he have a name?

The Muslims are praying to the same God you pray to, the God of Abraham.

Othar: How do they realize their religion is wrong? My guess would be through the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever talked to a Muslim? The Holy Spirit is telling them they are right.

Othar: Look at creation. If two men are walking in a field and see a watch on a rock. One man says "look at that awesome rock that grew here!".

That has nothing to do with refuting Islam; Muslims believe in Divine Creation too.

Othar: God calls people. They either answer or pick up the phone and hang up.

Muslims think they are answering. They think they are doing what God wants them to do.

Othar: Here, check out this link, this pastor explains it better than I can!!

No, he doesn't. You would do better to understand what you are doing yourself.

Othar: Unlike with Islam, people aren't just Christian by birth. Instead, people become Christians because they are convinced of the truth of Christianity and/or have had experiences with God..."

People become Muslim because they are convinced of the truth of Islam and have had experiences with God.

Seriously, you should talk to a Muslim sometime. They would certainly tell you that God is the reason for everything in their lives.

Othar: Unlike with other religions, they have good reasons for believing Christianity to be true.

Muslims have the exact same reasons for believing Islam to be true. (Ditto Hinduism, etc.)

Othar: I understand they think they are doing what the Holy Spirit says, but the Quran isn't the Bible.

How are they supposed to know that the bible is better?

Othar: Again, the Holy Spirit is reaching out to them.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is telling them to be Muslim.

Othar: If they "think" they are listening to the Holy Spirit, maybe in reality they are closing Him off and doing what they want.

Maybe they *are* listening to the Holy Spirit. Maybe in reality you are closing Him off and doing what you want.

10-07-16 8:33  •  Obama and the Prostitutes

BunnyStew: Typical liberal election shenanigans! Everyone is shitting bricks about Trump's "pussy-grabbing" remarks, lol. Remember how Obama got re-elected? Reducing women to their reproductive organs worked for him. Obama treated women like they were all prostitutes - vote for me and get free birth control! And it worked!

I think women will be more concerned about things that matter, like jobs, this time around!

This is utterly ridiculous.

1) "Provided by your insurance" is not "free." Your insurance is part of the compensation you earn from your employer in exchange for your work. Insurance coverage is not free, it is earned and payed for.

2) Birth control is essential to population control and it can only be effective for this if a certain level of saturation is achieved across the society. This cannot be accomplished if there are socioeconomic barriers to birth control saturation. If we care about future generations of humanity at all, it is our responsibility to the health of the planet to get and keep our numbers under control. Making family planning easy is a primary goal.

3) Self-determination over reproductive decisions is one hundred percent at the heart of women's equality. None of the Democratic platform on reproductive health is "reducing" women to their reproductive organs. It is not about their organs, it is about their decisions. It is demanding that women themselves have the freedom to make every decision about their own reproductive life, and have the tools to use that freedom.

4) Women are concerned about jobs, but they are also concerned about the increasing encroachment of state legislatures on women's decisions, particularly personhood amendments aimed directly at limiting pharmaceutical birth control, and at developing "conscience clauses" to allow agents all up and down the supply chain, from insurance companies to employers to individual pharmacists, to refuse to do their part in getting women the birth control they need for complete enfranchisement.

This is alarming and does not bode well for women's equality. So it is important to continue to demand that the gains we have made for equality are not chipped away by encroachment on our decisions.

Women voted for Obama and the Democrats because this matters and they know it. The only person reducing women to their organs and and treating them like prostitutes is you.

10-07-16 5:33  •  Good

FineWhine: So please tell me in an atheistic worldview how you universally define "good"?

First of all, it's not necessary to be "universal." Secular society is an exercise in standards rather than absolutes. Societies all over the world have defined - and continue to refine - standards of acceptable behavior which do not recourse to supernatural authority. Most even have granular systems - what we would call a "case-by-case basis" - for evaluating situations with nuances beyond the standards. In other words, it doesn't have to be "universal" to work.

Secondly, it's easy to define good in terms of human behavior. "Good" is what contributes to well-being and "bad" is what contributes to harm. Good systems are systems that work.

We have determined what contributes to well-being and what works mainly by the trial and error of human history. That is why our broad morals today are so much better than those of people in the past. For example, we were able to see that ancient systems of subjugation - like slavery and sexual inequality - were immoral, and we were able to create a more just and moral society. Of course we still have a ways to go, but like our technology, our techniques improve as we learn.

That is why learning moral systems are preferable to fixed moral lists - they can get better.

FineWhine: So In a nutshell, you're saying there Are no moral absolutes because there is no supreme authority (God).

No, I don't make any claims about stuff like that. But, it's obvious we are making our morals as we go.

FineWhine: What happens when the majority decides something you consider "immoral" benefits the society overall and they want to implement it?

That has happened many times in the past. In many cases we learned from those mistakes. In some cases we didn't, and are bound to repeat them. That is the trial part of trial and error.

Eventually we get most of the old kinks ironed out. Then circumstances change and we get all new parameters to fuck up in for awhile. But there is no other way to find out what's what.

Still, we started democracy and even gave women the vote. Some progress seems to have stuck.

FineWhine: Why should they listen to your "reason" when it's not reasonable or beneficial to them?

Reality is what it is. Things work or they don't. If they don't work, eventually people change them.

FineWhine: That sounds like moral relativism...an Atheistic worldview...

I'm really not concerned with "atheism" or your other pet peeves. I am concerned with descriptions of reality that are accurate.

The description that humans are making our morality as we go is accurate. The history of enfranchisement is the history of moral observation leading to moral progress. Things have gotten better, and not by the supernatural. By humans learning and growing.

If that proposal is incorrect, it's not enough to just say "That sounds like X, therefore it's bad." Explain HOW it is incorrect.

FineWhine: I think you take for granted that some of your values are borrowed from a time when the idea of God existing was accepted.

The idea of God existing is perfectly accepted in Islam right now. The idea that values are derived supernaturally is their biggest problem.

FineWhine: We ended slavery because we realized slavery violated human rights which were based on human value because we are created in the image of God.

Well, we sure took a fuck of a sweet long time realizing this. Slavery existed since the dawn of civilization, with most people and cultures having no problem with it, or with other forms of out-group subjugation, and they ran along for thousands of years unchecked, until very recently.

What changed, so that people only suddenly remembered that slavery violated the human rights of those created in the image of God a mere couple of hundred years ago?

FineWhine: You assume there would be some utopian society with everyone using "reason".

It's like assuming there could be some utopian society with everyone using "math." Crazy, right?

Reason is a system of observation and accuracy. It can be learned, like math or any other system.

And, it's certainly easy to see how reason has spread like wildfire through the human race since the Renaissance, resulting in all the incredible technological and moral advancement that uplifts our lives from what they were like in the Dark Ages. We are already a utopia of reason compared to them.

FineWhine: But what is reasonable varies from person to person And culture to culture when there's no universal standard.

The standard of reason is what is accurate and what works. It's not arbitrary. Accuracy can be checked. Working can be demonstrated.

That is the beauty of deriving the descriptions of reality FROM reality. They can be checked, compared, improved. Standards derived from tribal taboos usually just stagnate.

FineWhine: It's very possible that humans will decide there is no God and survival of the fittest should be the moral code we follow. "Unfit" people could be slaves or just removed entirely.

It's possible people could decide there is a God, and what He wants is slavery. Many people have thought this in the past.

Theism does not prevent slavery, that's just silly. They coexisted throughout most of human history.

FineWhine: They would sterilize the unfit, or euthanize them. This could benefit society by removing people who drain resources and contribute very little. Please explain why this would be wrong?

It doesn't meet the criteria. First of all, it would not be working for people who did not want to be sterilized and euthanized, would it? So, it would not meet the criteria of working. Secondly, overcoming natural human compassion requires massive scapegoating and outgrouping of the marginalized, usually by resigning them to sub-human status. So it could hardly qualify as accurate either.

Lastly, it would horribly damage the people who carried out the pogroms, as such things always do. So it would not work for them, either.

Please, remember the criteria when proposing dystopian scenarios, thanks!

FineWhine: You act like "reason" would automatically result in progress, for everyone. It wouldn't.

Reality cannot lie. So, suffering cannot hide from reason.

10-07-16 7:16  •  Hypothetical Torture

MondaleMom: Many years ago Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, presented a hypothetical situation regarding torture.

What if you learned that your child was being held captive in a box with only 2 hours of oxygen. You had the person who put your child there in custody and he refused to disclose the location of the box.

Would you (as the parent of the kidnapped child) support the use of torture in this case?

It's hard to imagine that situation ever occurring. I'm sure we could come up with hundreds of imaginary scenarios where torture could be considered justified, each increasingly less likely to really happen.

However, imagining a situation where torture is justified is not sufficient excuse to make torture a legally acceptable practice. If I felt torture was justified, I would certainly not expect to walk free afterwards. If I engaged in torture to save my child, I would expect to be arrested, tried and convicted of torture, and accept whatever criminal sentence I was handed. If the torturing was worth it "to save my child," all that other stuff would have to be worth it too.

People often say we need to provide "torture loopholes" for law enforcement in "ticking bomb" scenarios, but I disagree. No loophole. No matter how justified they thought the torture was, no matter how many lives they might have saved, they should still be criminally accountable for it.

Sweetie: I don't agree, I wouldn't want the torturer to be convicted of a crime against the bastard who took my child.

He would have done a crime. Why shouldn't he be convicted of it?

Sweetie: If torture is the only way to get my son free then the person doing the torturing has resorted to the last thing available.

Of course. But if the last thing available is a crime then they need to be accountable for the crime.

Sweetie: It is the perpetrator's fault and therefore I have zero sympathy for him or her.

Holding people accountable for the torture they perform has zero to do with sympathy for the torture victim.

Sweetie:Sometimes things must be done because they must be done regardless of the law.

Absolutely! However that doesn't mean the law no longer applies. It does.

Sweetie: And based on that reasoning I don't believe the person inflicting the torture should be convicted of something that that person brought upon himself.

If saving the life of your child makes torture is justified, then it also makes the jail sentence for the torturer justified. If I would do anything to save my child, that really means anything, not just torture.

One important thing to remember about torture is that it does not actually work for extracting information. People who are being tortured will say anything they think will get you to stop torturing them.

It has never been a reliable means for extracting true information.

Sweetie: MondaleMom's hypothetical never indicated that there was an alternative which would work!

That doesn't mean the torture would be successful either. We could discuss a hypothetical world where torture works, but the more hypothetical you get the less the question has any meaning. As long as we are just imagining that anything is possible, I'd just imagine we have Romulan cortical scanners and we can extract the info straight from his brain.

Sweetie: I support torture by police in all cases of harm done to a child - hurt the bastard.

That would turn our police into monsters. It's not worth it.

Sweetie: Sometimes cops have to break the law. They are protected by the "Good Faith" laws, if, say, they have to speed during car chases, etc.

I wasn't under the impression that torture would be covered under "good faith".

Sweetie: Sometimes, acting in good faith, sometimes they have to use force, and there's a loophole for that.

True, but police officers have been prosecuted for assault when they used excessive force, or did what amounted to assault instead of "good faith."

MondaleMom: I was asking because I'm getting the impression you are a pacifist, and perhaps believe that force should never be used in any situation.

Well that would be an incorrect impression. However I'm not for torture in any situation.

MondaleMom: Torture could be justifiable, or a person would have a strong case for temporary insanity.

Perhaps, but only in retrospect. That's not a good reason to make a legal "torture loophole" up front, or provide "good faith" legal cover for torture. Torture should always be illegal.

Coming up with extreme examples to find situations where torture is forgivable is really just a thought experiment. This kind of thing almost never happens, and if it did torturing might not even work. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about the efficacy of the torture defense from this discussion. :-)

10-06-16 8:55  •  Progress

AFW: You think God has nothing to do with human progress. But He could have everything to do with it. We don't know if the supernatural has anything to do with us learning and growing.

There is no evidence that it does. Ya gotta go with what you got. When we examine what is occurring, what we see is people doing things.

So, what's wrong with that? It's simple. It's beautiful. It is verifiably, demonstrably true.

What's more, things can be learned from watching how it works. What they are doing can be examined, tested. Systems can be improved, old mistakes eliminated. It is a process of error correction based on what occurs which results in increased understanding and massive force multipliers to our capabilities.

That is learning and growing.

On the other hand, opining that some unknown quantity of the process might be attributable to some unknown quantity of supernatural stuff acting undetectably in some unknown way, doesn't do anything. No new information can be determined. Nothing learned. Nothing changed. Nothing improved.

So which is really doing the heavy lifting on learning and growth?

AFW: You used ending slavery as an example of moral progress. As Christians, we understand that slavery has always existed because humans are inherently sinful and do bad things. God keeps people accountable.

Or, as you would say, they're inherently selfish as a survival mechanism. Either way - we can both agree that evil has always existed.

Wow, no, I don't agree with any of this. There is no evidence for magical wrongdoing or magical comeuppance. "Evil" is not a quantity that exists independently; it is a qualitative evaluation we ascribe to actions we don't like. And, you have a very poor understanding of the role of selfishness as a survival mechanism if you think it's "evil."

Humans are social animals. We have always lived in social groups where we are required to work for both ourselves and for the group. So humans are no more or less inherently selfish than we are inherently compassionate, loving, helpful and giving. We are both, and neither are 'evil.' They are two different skill sets to be deployed under different circumstances.

In order to survive in scarcity, we had to be caring and generous to our ingroup, but selfish and even violent toward our outgroup. Additionally, heirarchical rankings within the group require constant decision making about whether to advance one's own position at the expense of another, or to give one's support to another's position. Lastly, small bands on the edge of survival need all kinds of personalities to survive, to fully exploit all the opportunities that arise. So, humans naturally come in many different personality types, some much more generous, others much more selfish, and both kinds of people are important to have in your group.

So there is a fully biological explanation for why humans are prone to act for themselves and for the group.

Slavery is better explained as an extrapolation of the human tendancy to spread along heirarchical ranks. This works okay in tiny bands where the distance between individuals is not great. As groups grow larger the distance between the ranks grows and calcifies. At the level of civilization, castes develop which are then exploited, usually as the only means to advance production. Cultural stigmas and barriers are constructed to keep the production ranks full, almost always in full ideological compliance with the predominant religion, which defines station as an act of Providence.

What changed was the development of the system of reason. The Enlightenment broke people out of the old way of understanding, which was by authority, and the old way of living, which was by tradition. Instead, we began a new way of understanding, by observation, and a new way of living - by deliberately designing our systems.

Funny, once we starting choosing how to live by observing what works, it wasn't long before institutional slavery was a thing of the past - a first for civilization. It wasn't long before we enfranchised women. It wasn't long before we enacted civil protections for everyone under the law, even racial minorities, even sexual minorities, even children, all practically unprecedented in human history. It wasn't long before we used the new system of reason for error-correction, to fix biological hangovers that no longer work outside the jungle.

As soon as we had a choice, we chose better.

10-06-16 4:22  •  Science and Religion

Mella: Many scientific discoveries are made by people who ARE religious. So, your assertion that belief somehow stops scientific advancements is demonstrably wrong.

First of all, asserting that belief stops scientific advancements would be wrong. So, congrats! But, that's not what I am saying.

My assertion is that unreason retards human progress. It doesn't STOP it, because unreason and reason exist simultaneously in society. While a bunch of people are being thoroughly ridiculous over here, a different bunch could be over there, curing diabetes with new techniques for causing the body to grow pancreatic cells. Scientific progress can be made, even in the presence of some unreason in society.

But the unreason is still having a negative effect. Think how much sooner we would be curing diabetes if Bush hadn't spent his presidency vetoing stem cell research for religious reasons. Think how much better we would understand genetics, if many of our citizens weren't under the impression that biodiversity dates to the ark. Think how much more sense biology class would make, if there weren't people trying to wedge confusion about the origin of species into the science classroom.

Think back...think how much earlier we would have understood astronomy if the Church had not stood against heliocentrism for centuries.

Think forward...think how much faster we could have gotten on board to mitigate climate change if people had been accustomed to using reason, and paying heed to climate science. Etc.

And then, go beyond science. Think how we could have avoided the Iraq war if people had used critical thinking about the evidence. Think of the rifts that would be healed by dissolving unsubstantiated ideaological positions. Think how much further we could be from letting religious agendas drive our politicians. Think how much more effort and attention people would be able to devote to real solutions that can be shown to work instead of wishing for magic and finger-crossing!

Reason is the system that works for figuring out what this is and how to do it well. We've already learned so much using it! Now it's time to unleash its true power.

Mella: Many scientists are actually inspired to believe in God once they see the statistics of our entire world arising through chance.

Not that many scientists, and fewer lately, and much less, the further into science you go.

A survey of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that members of this group are, on the whole, much less religious than the general public.

Other studies show that the longer and higher up people go in science, the less likely they are to believe religious posits. Among those distinguished by election to the National Academy of Sciences, more than 90% are non believers. Older scientists are less likely to be believers than younger scientists.

So, science does not seem to be informing belief in the supernatural, in fact rather the opposite.

10-01-16 10:01  •  Not Wrong

Kalea: The Old Testament is full of His mercy. When the harlot kept the Hebrew spies hidden, God granted her house (and any in it) sanctuary, while the rest of the people in the city were destroyed.

When Abram asked for Sodom and Gomorrah to be saved, God agreed that if He could find even 5 people that were righteous in the cities, that he would spare everyone. God is very merciful, but he is also just. People who refuse to do as he asks get punished, much as parents today will reprimand or spank or whatever they choose to use for punishment. He does have mercy, but he is just. He was not sanctioning the murder of innocent people, but the destruction of a sinful people.

So glad nobody laid this crap on me when I was a kid! This is very offensive to my sense of morality.

I was taught that killing is wrong. Also that punishment which cannot be learned from is wrong, and that mercy is sparing the undeserving.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still offer this kind moral rationale, for example to justify the U.S. bombing Afghan wedding parties. "Terrorists get married too!"

I am so grateful I don't have to try to justify that to myself.

Kalea: It's a matter of faith. We can't know for sure. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe we're all wrong.

Well I'm not.

It's easy, actually. I just find out what is right before I start making claims.

Kalea: You haven't proven yourself to me, so you could be wrong for all I know.

Well, it happens from time to time, but not for long. The key to being right is being willing to change when you find out you could be wrong.

Kalea: I know God doesn't provide ALL the answers, but, I'm comfortable with that level of questioning & the unknown.

I disagree that having a faith religion is being comfortable with the unknown. It looks more like being so uncomfortable with the unknown that you have to make up a story to fill it in.

Kalea: As I said, I'm comfortable with a lack of answers. I understand that you're not.

As I said, I disagree that believing supernatural stories is being comfortable with a lack of answers. Saying "I don't know" is being comfortable with a lack of answers. Luckily, "I don't know" is also a right answer when it is true.

Kalea: You seem pretty sure.

About what claims? Be specific.


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