Sunday, May 30, 2010

Putzes claim they found Noah's ark?

I received this email from a reader:

"What's your opinion on the recently found "Noah's Ark" by Hong Kong fundies? And what's your favorite relic?"

The email contained a link to this article in Time magazine.  The article is about some putzes who made an expedition to a mountain in Turkey, and they found some old wooden structures.  Just how old they are will be discussed below.  They claim that the wooden structures are parts of Noah's ark.  It's noteworthy that no boat shape can be made out from the findings, only some beams and planks.

My first thought is that the editors of Time magazine are not stupid enough to believe this.  OK, maybe they are, but my guess is not.  This is a tabloid-esque magazine-seller, and nothing more.  Time knows that the American market is large, and they are well aware of just how many bible-thumpers there are with a few bucks to spend.

Now on to the claim itself.  I want to ignore just about everything except for one point:

"on show are pieces of petrified wood allegedly carbon-dated at 4,800 years old..."

Now, this really pisses me off!  I'm having a hard time finding the exact words and insults necessary to properly express my disgust, but here is a summary.  In order to be a creationist and believe in biblical young-Earth creation, you must ignore radiometric dating techniques, including carbon-dating, along with a whole lot of other science.  We have mountains (literally, mountains) of evidence demonstrating that the Earth is billions of years old, that there was no global flood, etc, etc, etc.  A lot of it was obtained with radiometric dating.  Creationists spend a whole lot of time bashing science, and radiometric dating in particular, because it absolutely pummels their beliefs into submission if it is allowed to be reliable.

But what do these same creationists, who ignored scientific radiometric results to get this far, do when they discover a piece of wood that they need the age of?  They turn to science and radiometric dating!  Then the sneaky, dishonest, intellectually-void bastards present the result to the world and expect us all to believe it!

This is intellectual dishonesty at its finest, and we have even seen an example of it on this website before.  When 'Nathan the less-than-intelligent-Christian' was commenting here, he attempted to use evolution to support his argument about some of the similarities between chimps and humans, specifically that they both have been known to kill each other.  The major problem, and what put a big red 'I'm a dishonest retard' sticker on his forehead, is that he refused to state that he accepted evolution was true.  He used biblical creation arguments when it suited him.  They'll use whatever tactics are necessary to support their argument, even if the support for one contradicts support for another.

As for the alleged date of the wood, I read another article on this topic which said that the preliminary tests shown to an expert gave a result of much less than 2,000 years, and now he is demanding to know who did this new test showing nearly 5,000 years.

Now, what is my best guess about what will happen here?  First, this story will disappear about as fast as it appeared.  I'd bet that in two years, this story is long dead.  What is the wood?  A former human settlement.  The expedition group claims that the area was not populated a long time ago, a claim which I do not believe, but there is another explanation.  This mountain has been thought to have Noah's ark on it for a very long time, back to biblical times (simply by definition).  This is not the first expedition to find the ark, and I'm sure there have been expeditions to this mountain since the bible stories were first written.  The explorers built a base camp out of wood.  That's a much more reasonable explanation than a supernatural being creating a supernatural event for which there is no evidence, while being mountains of evidence to the contrary.  Isn't it?

For the question about my favourite religious relic, I don't have one.  I never thought about it.  Does the supposed image of Jesus in toast count as a relic?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What happens when you force a theist to debate fairly?

In the last week, this site had a rather amusing, but somewhat unpleasant visitor by the name of PG.  PG was arguing for the Atheist's Riddle as an "airtight inductive proof".  I responded to his assertions in this post.  PG responded, but in a strange (ie. theist kind of) way.  He (She?) avoided nearly every point I made, and just repeated the same argument over and over again.  After days of posting frequently here, he still had not addressed the points in my original reply to him.  He also ignored the majority of comments made to him by other users.  He scattered his responses over 3 different threads, making it nearly impossibly for anybody to follow the debate.  The behaviour was trollish, and it was obvious that confusion was one of the tactics he was trying to employ to convince people.  He also used multiple logical fallacies, each on multiple occasions.

I decided to take control of the conversation and steer it towards an actual debate, one in which points are made and then responded to.  After warning him fairly, and demanding he respond to my original post, I turned on comment moderation and told him to respond to the points in my original post, beginning with point #1.  He had accused me of ad hominine (sic) attacks, but clearly did not know what it meant, in addition to not knowing how to spell or pronounce it.  I called him on it as point #1 of my response.  He was asked to respond to this question, "Did you screw-up the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of the term ad hominem?", as a condition for continuing the conversation.  My intention was to get a reply, then make him answer each one of my other original points, in order.

His response was very interesting:

"Fuck you asshole, I got better things to do then jumping through your hoops. You delete any and all the IDers posts which destroys your 19th century ideology. Your just a pussy hiding behind a screen name, spewing your bullshit because deep down you have no proof to back up your bullshit.

The only reason you are an atheist is because it allows you to get buttfucked without feeling guilty..

Fuck off you asshole faggot! "


Let it be noted that this theist considers staying on topic and addressing our counterpoints to be a "hoop" to "jump through".  Let it also be noted that PG, after being asked on at least 4 occasions, would not admit to being wrong about what ad hominem means.  He wouldn't even answer, "No" to the question about whether or not he screwed it up.  That tells me that he doesn't want to lie, so he avoids the topic completely when he knows we've made a point.  That explains very nicely his jumping from point to point to point, often without ever addressing people's replies.  Another thing to ask ourselves is if PG was not willing to admit that he was wrong about something that he was demonstrably wrong about (ie. dictionary spelling/definition of ad hominem), why would we ever expect him to admit that he was wrong about any of the important points in his argument?  So instead of answering the question, he threw a hissy fit like a little girl.

Jumping around, ignoring responses, refusing to admit fault, hissy fit....  we were never going to have a fair debate with a guy like PG.  He clearly is one of the poorest representatives of theism to have ever visited this site.  He will not be missed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Got a Pen and Paper?

Happy Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!

Today is the day when we tell Islamic fundamentalists that we will not tolerate death threats and bombings over nothing but drawings!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reader's opinion of Atheist's Riddle

A reader who calls himself/herself, PG, recently made a comment on my original Atheist's Riddle post:

"Wow Perry's right! There are lots of ad hominine attacks, deflection from topic, attempts to create funny little Theist syllogisms, etc,. its an interesting strategy but then to the casual observer, it becomes painfully obvious that there is no real challenges to Perry's syllogism...

I was hoping maybe the Atheist finally found empirical evidence for that elusive naturally occurring code.

Nope. just more of the Atheists basically resorting to ignoring the current scientific convention that DNA is in fact a literal code and claiming its just semantics...

The only problem with that is that you need to completely discard the entire scientific field of "Bioinformatics" which is based on Perry's very premise that DNA IS A LITERAL CODE!

Regarding your Theist riddle,

Perry's syllogism premise #1
"DNA is a code" is based on empirical evidence.

Your premise #1 is not...

If you state that matter didnt come from a conscious mind then you must have empirical evidence that it came from nothing.

Since you dont have the empirical evidence to support your syllogism then it therefore is open to reinterpretation...

Admin's "Atheist's Riddle":

1) Physical matter is not created from nothing; there is no process known to science that creates physical matter from nothing.

2) Therefore the physical universe was not created from nothing, but from a conscious mind.

If you can provide an empirical example of physical matter being created by nothing,and not a conscious mind, you've toppled my proof. All you need is one.


Hmmm, Perhaps it is best if Atheists simply provide follow the example of science and all those bioinformatics experts as they too are desperately trying to find empirical evidence of that elusive naturally occurring code..."

Argh... PG, are you familiar with the atheist saying that theists bring 2 armfuls of steaming shit, drop it in front of the atheist, and then it becomes the atheist's responsibility to sort it out?  Well, this is one of those times.  I can demonstrate that you don't understand at least one of the terms you used, that you missed the point of the post, and that you made more than one logical fallacy.

1.  "There are lots of ad hominine attacks..."

No, there aren't.  An ad hominem (you don't seem to know what this term means, or even the term itself) is the attack against the person INSTEAD of attacking the argument.  I attacked the argument AND the person.  It is not an ad hominem attack to say, "This argument is false (with explanation), therefore the person who made it is a fool."  It is however, an ad hominem attack to say, "This person is a fool, therefore his argument is false."  But I'm glad you're fond of logical fallacies, because I'm going to point out at least two of them that you made.

Seeing as you don't know what an ad hominem attack is, I'm sure that everything else you wrote must be false.  *cough*

2.  "I was hoping maybe the Atheist finally found empirical evidence for that elusive naturally occurring code."

Not trying to.  Many atheists have been suckered into trying to find one besides DNA and RNA (we'll get to that more later in this post), but that's a sucker's game.  It ignores the fact that the entire argument Perry has made is not sound.

3.  "Nope. just more of the Atheists basically resorting to ignoring the current scientific convention that DNA is in fact a literal code and claiming its just semantics...  The only problem with that is that you need to completely discard the entire scientific field of "Bioinformatics" which is based on Perry's very premise that DNA IS A LITERAL CODE!"

Did you really read my post?  Did you notice this part?  "He seems determined to define DNA as a 'code'. That's fine, he can call it whatever he wants. It doesn't make a difference." Fine, Dude, it's a code! I don't care! Whatever you want to call it is fine by me, because it's completely irrelevant to my argument!  I'm not exactly "ignoring the current scientific convention", am I?  Did I discard "the very premise that DNA IS A LITERAL CODE?"  No!  I don't give a flying fuck if it's a code or not!  It does not matter!  Can I be any clearer?

4.  "Perry's syllogism premise #1  "DNA is a code" is based on empirical evidence."

FINE!  Call DNA whatever you want, and I'll accept it!  I don't care!  I'll grant you #1 for free!  Let's get on with it!

5.  "Your premise #1 is not..."

For reference, my (shortened, to the point) premise #1 is: "1. Your god is a supernatural being; it is a spirit..."

Huh? So your god(s) is/are not supernatural?  What exactly is/are it/they then?  This is not a fair dismissal of my argument at all.  Whatever you define your god(s) as, I'll just change the words in the first premise.  You have no case here.

6.  "If you state that matter didnt come from a conscious mind then you must have empirical evidence that it came from nothing."

I didn't know that the only option besides conscious mind was that it "came from nothing".  Thanks!  Do you know what a false dichotomy is?  It's a logical fallacy and you just committed one.  I can turn this around on you (the result would be equally false), "If you state that the Universe/nature did not create matter on its own, then you must have empirical evidence that it came from a conscious mind."

7.  "Since you dont have the empirical evidence to support your syllogism then it therefore is open to reinterpretation...

Admin's "Atheist's Riddle":

1) Physical matter is not created from nothing; there is no process known to science that creates physical matter from nothing.

2) Therefore the physical universe was not created from nothing, but from a conscious mind.

If you can provide an empirical example of physical matter being created by nothing,and not a conscious mind, you've toppled my proof. All you need is one."

You committed the false dichotomy logical fallacy again in part 2, but other than that, you're right!  I didn't claim that my Theist's Riddle was a proof of anything!  It's just as false and useless as Perry's riddle!  Didn't you get that from reading my post?  Check here.  It's a proof, using the same technique (inductive reasoning, inappropriately applied), that I didn't make a clock that I know I actually did make.  I can easily turn around your new riddle in the same way I turned around Perry's.  Physical matter is not created from conscious minds, blah, blah, blah, therefore the physical universe was not created from a conscious mind, but by nature, blah, blah, blah, topple my proof, blah, blah.

8. "Hmmm, Perhaps it is best if Atheists simply provide follow the example of science and all those bioinformatics experts as they too are desperately trying to find empirical evidence of that elusive naturally occurring code..."

Do you know what a strawman argument is?  It's a logical fallacy, and you just committed (another) one.  I don't believe that there is any team of scientists anywhere in the world who are searching (desperately or not) for a "naturally occurring code", besides the 2 we know, DNA and RNA (note that there are 2, despite your claims).  Do you know of any?  But if there is such a team, and they haven't found a third example, that does nothing to strengthen Perry's riddle.  His logic is faulty, and it would be a strawman to say that their failure up until now can redeem his faulty logic.

So, there you have it, PG.  I showed that you don't know what an ad hominem is, that you made 2 logical fallacies yourself on multiple occasions, and that you missed the fact that my Theist's Riddle was false (thereby missing the point of the post).  You also accused me of dismissing something that I did not dismiss, which seems to have formed a very large part of your argument.  I'm a little upset that I wasted so much time on your steaming pile of crap.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sam Harris TED talk about morality

I received this email from a reader:

"Hey,

I love the blog. I came across it when I googled the Atheist's Riddle, and have been following it closely since. If it interests you, I was raised Catholic, but upon going to university, and choosing the path of science and medicine, I realized just how stupid and limiting religion is! Your blog feeds me with all kinds of information, or evidence, that science is clearly the better choice.

I came across a clip that I think would interest you, and I would love to hear your opinion. In any case, this is great atheist propaganda:


Sam Harris: Science can answers moral questions
http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html"

I just watched the video, and I mostly agree with him.  As atheists, we may not believe in the concept of absolute/objective morality, but that doesn't mean we want no morality at all.  I don't want chaos.  I don't want to let all these psychos run around harming people and property, free of any consequence.  It is incredibly important that we define a human-made moral system and enforce it.

The question then becomes what to base this moral system on.  The religious argue that we should base the moral system on their religious books, even if those books endorse actions which lead to great human suffering.  Sam Harris, like myself, argues that we should base our morality on the well-being of people.  I'd also add that the well-being of higher animal life, ecosystems and the environment should be given high consideration.  These things lead to safe, healthy and happy people.

The problem is what has already been hinted at.  Not everybody agrees that safe, healthy and happy people (plus healthy planet) should be considered the basis for morality.  And that's why we're not going to get anywhere on the issue of defining a unified morality for all people.  Many people consider economic growth to be the best indicator of what is considered moral in regards to the environment.  Many people think the worst thing somebody can do is to insult their religion, and therefore must be killed.  Many people think that a small group of cells deserve the same rights as adult humans.  The list goes on, and on and on.

There is a similar ideological difference in political discussions with my coworker.  He is an American libertarian, and his basis for his political morality is that small government which does not interfere is the best for people.  I argue that safe, healthy and happy people should be the basis for what governments do and what they have control over.  I point to examples like Canada, Denmark, etc, which all have more social-leaning governments, and all have lower crime rates, longer average life-spans and happier people than the USA (ie. safer, healthier and happier people).  So how could he argue that policies which lead to less-safe, less-healthy and less-happy people could be a good thing?  Because his goal is not to make safe, healthy and happy people, it's for government to stay out of his way.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another one bites the dust.... or is that "bites the cock"?

I know I'm a few days late to this party, but I just read about yet another anti-gay fanatic getting outed as being gay himself.  Check this article for info about the fall of George Rekers, one of the founders of the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian anti-gay evangelical group.

It seems that Georgie Boy hired a gay male prostitute to 'assist him' on a vacation to Europe.  On the itinerary were daily nude massages.  In his defence, Rekers claimed that he hired the male prostitute and took him to Europe to help him with his luggage.  There are also claims that he was trying to convert the boy into a straight man.... via daily nude gay massages?

And for a list of other gay homophobes (does that even make sense?) like him, check this link.

I put this article under the 'Pain of Religion' tag because it's sad that these people have to take up such a rabid anti-gay position to try to hide who they really are.  If they weren't such gigantic asswipes that the world would be better off without, I'd feel sorry for them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Where does my morality come from?

I haven't written a post in nearly a month.  To be honest, I just haven't been in the mood for writing.  I used to avoid these situations by writing several posts at once when I was in the mood to write, and delaying their publication so that the blog had regular posts.  I should go back to that strategy, rather than posting a whole bunch at once like I did recently.

I've been thinking about morality.  One of the constant challenges issued to atheists by the religious is, "Where does your morality come from?"  It's far from the zinger they think it is, and does nothing to support their case, even if we don't have an answer, but we can still discuss it.  Keep in mind that I am far from an expert on these things, but I'd still like to post my thoughts for discussion.

I do not believe there is such a thing as an objective morality, but most humans seem to share a few values most of the time.  I keep using the word 'most' because it's obvious to me that not everybody shares these values, or many people only share them when somebody is watching.

I think you only need one thing to develop a sense of morality like the majority of humans have.  That thing is empathy.  Empathy is the ability to feel what others feel, to understand their suffering.  I personally can empathise with both humans and animals.  That's one reason why I'm a supporter of wildlife conservation and animal rights.  I still have to get around to confronting my own meat-eating habits, and I recognise there is some hypocrisy on my part.

If we have the capacity for empathy, then we can use it as a foundation for morality.  I wouldn't want something to happen to me because it would cause me suffering.  I understand that it causes suffering for others, too.  Normally that isn't my problem, but with empathy, it is.  It hurts me to see another person or animal suffering, so I decide that the behaviour which caused the suffering is wrong.  That's the emotional response.

Also, from a purely intellectual point of view, I understand that we cannot have a society in which everybody is doing bad things to everybody else.

Of course, religious people will not find this answer acceptable, even if it's true, because it does not include the supernatural being(s) that they were hoping for.  They'll simply change the question to, "Where does your empathy come from?"  And if we answer that, they'll change the question again in a never-ending game of bullshit.

Interestingly, a reader just sent me a link to a Sam Harris talk on morality.  I'll watch it soon, then post more.  I wanted to get my initial thoughts out, without being 'tainted' by another person's opinion on the issue.