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I like to check out the Templeton
website now and then for science/religion news. It's an interesting outfit, science with a heavy focus on the relation between faiths in the world, and particularly the interplay between faith and science. Kind of an ecumenical organization (Foundation for a Better Life is another good one in that vein, more focused on daily living), though that hasn't stopped a some of the anti-theist science-heavy types from being angry at its very existence. Because if religious people can happily accept science with faith, the whole 'point' of science goes out the window for such people.( Trying the cut thing again.Collapse )
And that's all for now. Oh, I've also picked up GTA4 for the 360, yell if you want me to shoot at you.
By the way, if you'd really like to know what I think about Global Warming, you may be interested in the case I lay out on another site
- Some good news! Global warming may be stunted for 10 years. Take that, Earth!
Actually, I've learned you can't be happy about news like this. People freak out and get 'they are not onboard with the program' vibes, and come over to remind you that global warming is VERY REAL and VERY DANGEROUS. Approaching the subject with optimism will infect others, resulting in complacency! Fear is the greatest weapon we have in this debate!
And so on and so forth. I'm willing to believe in global warming. Hell, I'm willing to believe in a lot of things. But, just as an experiment, take that link and send it to someone you know who's very concerned about global warming. Act happy, say 'I thought you might like to see this - good news! :)' I'm willing to bed the typical response will be restrained anger that you'd dare minimize the problem.
Speaking of environmental issues, the 'biofuel is raising the price of food!' debate is annoying me. I'm a big believer in biofuels - mostly because I take the question of energy and renewable/domestic resources seriously. So finding out that the worldwide biofuel crop of choice is corn, which on every chart I look at happens to be the ass-last crop in terms of fuel-conversion efficiency, is annoying. It kills the biofuel concept, because most people won't realize that there are vastly better alternatives to corn.
In other news, my GTA4 copy won't work, because I have a particularly fucked up PS3 60gb apparently. I can barely beat a stranger to death before a lockup occurs!
Scared off a couple Jehovah's Witnesses today.
10:00am, Misterpengo's room
Pengo: Grmph. May be a freaking delivery, better get up.
*gets up in clothes slept in, goes to door, outside of which a nice and young husband/wife couple are standing*
Man: Oh, I'm sorry, did we wake you up?
Pengo: Yeah, don't sweat it, what's up?
Man: Oh, well, I wanted to ask if you if you believe there's one true religion.
Pengo. o O ( Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Moonies. )
Pengo: Yeah, sure, why not.
Man (Both him and wife a little worried-looking at dealing with towering, groggy looking slavic stranger): Well, I didn't mean to disturb you, but I wanted to read you a quote from the bible quick if you don't mind.
Pengo: Go for it.
Man flips through bible rapidly, finds page.
Man: *something about Christ saying that many people follow him but not what he said*
Pengo: Sounds reasonable.
Pengo. o O ( These people are less annoying than standup comics have led me to believe. )
Man: Anyway, we'll come back another time, but we have some reading material for you. Me and my wife are just going door to door.
Pengo. o O ( Hey, free stuff. )
Pengo: Thanks a lot, catch ya later.
No, I wasn't annoyed. In fact they were pleasant types, so I had no complaints. And the reading material was two magazines - something called Awake, with 'The Watchtower' slipped inside of it. I suppose because everyone knows The Watchtower is JW's publication, and I suppose if people see that they get spooked immediately.
I flipped through the papers. Typical JW stuff, mostly uplifting stories and biblical commentary. Was very interested to see them employing design arguments in both mags. Not the Behe/Dembski Irreducibile Complexity propositions, or even creationism - but a general posit of 'Here's the compound eye of the insect. This is how advanced this is. Did it arrive by chance, or was it the result of design?' I think it's a powerful argument, and again, I think this simplified form is what pisses off so many about it - theists are poised to turn on their heels and claim all of evolution as gapless design in one fell swoop. They have to shake off some lingering fights, and the young earth creationist view, but more and more I'm starting to see biology and cosmology as fields religious types of all persuasions (particularly orthodox, no less) rely on for proving their points.
I always dwell on this topic, but I was actually thinking earlier that Schopenhauer and other atheist philosophers who regarded life as not worth living (hinged on God not existing, life being meaning, existence being a sham) are actually anti-darwinian to a larger degree than their theistic counterparts. After all, one lesson hundreds of millions of years of evolution has made abundantly clear is that the desire to live is nearly a fundamental principle of our known universe. Hell, if you buy into abiogenesis, then life will spring forth from nonliving matter and persist in every way possible. All of humanity, and all that exists, is built on the back on the operating principle that life is perhaps the most desirable thing in the universe, the grounding of being itself. 'My God is the God of the living', indeed.
Oh, comments enabled for friends. What a neat function.
Okay, but how do I win his money?|
I'm not really an ID proponent, sympathetic as I am to some of their theological views. Certainly not a creationist. In fact, despite being essentially Catholic, I'm very skeptical when it comes to claims of miracle or supernatural (though my thoughts on both are complicated). So why am I posting this trailer?
Frankly, because I think it's well done. And it pisses off the right people. Until there's a reasoned intellectual armistice that removes smuggled-in philosophy from science, the ID argument is every bit as 'scientific' as what prominent atheists argue are the metaphysical realities laid out by science. We've proven 'chance' as much as we've proven 'divine' insofar as it comes to "a force at work behind the universe".
But really, I'm just in a pissy mood today. By the way, I'll be re-enabling comments for people who are on my friends list, because I found out I can do that.
I have some bad news for you, Enlightenment Thinker.|
Another theology/philosophy thread. Go hit 4chan if this is not your thing.
I'd LJ-Cut this, but can't get that to work, so here we go.
Ockham's razor. Wikipedia, which is a crapfest, gives this definition for the principle:"All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities.
This often gets brought out to justify a kind of methodological naturalism with regards to science. Fair enough. It also tends to be abused utterly, particular when it comes to controversial subjects - the most common use is 'God created the universe, and God just exists. Or, the universe just exists. Ockham's razor slices the former.' This line was popular before "Flying Spaghetti Monster" usurped it for the position of 'mating cry of the ignorant schmuck'. But, I digress.
Let's put Ockham aside for the moment, so I can discuss something that's always bothered me about scientific discussions: Randomness. The funny thing is that, outside the context of scientific discussions, I absolutely love practical randomness as a concept - it's a central design principle for my favorite games, and I think its general utility and situational attractiveness is considerable. I'm almost a Discordian on the subject. But in scientific explanations, the reliance always struck me as odd - as if it was a metaphysical conjecture. There are a lot of references randomness in evolution (mutations, species development, etc), in cosmology, and so on. In these contexts, randomness being the assumption that these situations or developments are under no guidance, serve no purpose, are foreseen by no one - they just happened, and if it led to something (subjective, of course!) positive or negative, oh well, that's just luck. Insofar as God goes, the reigning attitude is similar to Laplace's famous response to Napoleon when it was pointed out his scientific treatise on the order in the universe left out references to God - "I have no need for that hypothesis."
The French. What're you gonna do, eh?
At first my response was an objection on metaphysical and practical grounds. From our perspective, these events may be random insofar as we ourselves cannot predict them. "For all practical purposes, random". But the speculation on whether things are 'really' random (rather than orchestrated by God, etc) is itself useless. In science, all you have to do is define what happened in a microcosm - 'this genome developed this mutation which led to this trait which', etc. You don't need to even broach the subject of teleology in any way - leave that to others. Especially because design in such an ultimate sense is beyond the power of science to detect. (Or for that matter, rule out. I have to draw the line at Intelligent Design for myself, because I truly, honestly because that you cannot bridge that design gap purely by conventional scientific methods. The ability to test for intentional is extraordinarily difficult for typical human beings and less complicated entities. For a superpowered but still conventionally material being, more difficult. For God, even if God is a brute fact, impossible. On the other hand, I see Intelligent Design as having popped up in response to smuggled in philosophy that asserts science has 'proven God was/is not involved'. The irony is that that is an Intelligent Design claim; if you assert the latter and call it science, you open the door for those in the former position to come in as a dissenting yet still scientific view. More on this another time.)
Recently, I realized that the situation is more grave than that. Somehow I came up with this while I was driving around at 4am, feeling restless. Since then, I've been trying to find where the flaw is - I see none. Listen carefully.
1. There are two fundamental ways for events to occur in the universe. Chance (unguided stuff just bounces around and, through the established laws of the universe, comes to a particular result/state) or intention (an intelligent being with the ability to act orchestrates processes and material towards a particular result/state).
2. We have a priori knowledge of the second 'force' - each of us engages in acts of intention routinely. We certainly know that intention exists.
3. Meanwhile, randomness - 'events that are unpredicted/unforeseen' - is merely postulated to exist. We have less direct evidence that the unorchestrated exists than we do the orchestrated - even when we get results contrary to our intentions, the entire set of events could itself be in accordance with the intention of another being.
4. In principle, absolutely every event - from the motions of atoms and smaller to the occurrences on/with planets and greater - could be orchestrated intentionally. Put another way, 'for everything we say resulted due to the force of chance, we could in turn say resulted due to the force of intention'.
5. Since intention can in principle explain everything chance explains, and we only have evidence of intention, Ockham's razor demands we remove chance as an explanation. "Randomness" is the equivalent of the phlogiston.
So what does this mean? It means that, philosophically, science cannot be grounded in atheism - because atheism presumes the existence of a force we have no direct evidence of. Methodological naturalism must, at heart, be built on a foundation of what is effectively deism. Every advance in our science - from the human understanding of fundamental forces in physics, to unlocking the biological history of evolution, to the introduction of computation and simulation - adds more (circumstantial) evidence to deism, and weakens the scientific case for chance, and therefore atheism.
I'm not saying that science proves there is a God. And certainly, even if there is a God, it doesn't make any particular religion true. But I'm pointing out that, if we're going to take rationalism and Occam's razor seriously, only deism escapes as the most rational philosophical position. Atheism is in the same boat as the greek pantheon - it proposes inexplicable, unobserved, unnecessary entities.
Where am I ultimately going with this? Well, towards two destinations.
One, this justifies my position in regarding the claims of Intelligent Design to be outside the scientific (but within the philosophical) realm, as well as my position as equating Chance believers with being on the same unstable ground as ID proponents when it comes to explaining the findings of science.
Two, it explains why - despite the love atheists have for employing their quotes - both William of Ockham
and Pierre-Simon Laplace
From "A Man For All Seasons" - a scene I forgot about, but was reminded of by John C. Wright's link.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Normally, I'm not much for quotes. This one is inspiring, but it's missing something. So here's another.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
From John Adams.
I think that's enough.
Game and random talk today.
I'm still playing Lost Souls MUD on and off. The skill system they're using is an example of what I think is an extremely well thought out, intricate webwork of design. It defies concise explanation, because a single skill can alter a variety of variables - sword skill adds to your attack rating (likelihood to successfully hit with a sword), damage rating (amount of damage you do with a sword), keep capacity (amount of 'credit' you have and can put towards retaining an item over a reboot or logout), and so on. The best way to explain it would be to provide my character as an example and flesh it out, but I'll do that another time.
Feeling a bit out of it tonight. Too much philosophy, politics, and cosmology reading I think. The funny thing is, I don't entirely read these things for my own sake - but it breaks my heart whenever I come across an argument where people are fumbling with ideas they don't understand or can't articulate, or worse, coming to conclusions that everyone tells them are the only possibility when that's far from the case. I've never been a big fan of intellectual bullying. Or at least I haven't been for a long time now. Nevertheless, I'll have to read up on Michael Heller's work - the guy just snagged a Templeton prize, and he's an admirer of Leibniz, who I will do an entry on in the future. Theoretical models of penultimate designer and sustaining of the universe are things I enjoy reading up on. Also, porn.
Oh, picked up a car too. Fell in love with it on the spot - a 1983 Black on black 300D Mercedes. In beautiful shape, turbo diesel, readily moddable to run all kinds of biofuels if I so desire. But what really sold me is the appearance and the interior - finally, a car where my knees aren't on the damn dashboard. Slow acceleration, but who cares? Let someone run into me if they want, this car is a tank.
Back to games. Still a big fan of Monster Hunter 2 Freedom for the PSP - actually, I'm surprised at how the PSP in general has developed - finding out little things about the hardware that I never realized or appreciated, like the save state it has and such. Also, I'm looking into the iPhone more and more. Seeing what my brother accomplishes with it impresses me. I resisted getting one because I'm not a big fan of the apple hype, but hey, if it's as functional and convenient as it seems to be..
Politics - yeah, I'm just jumping around here - remains boring for me. Not a big fan of Obama, charismatic as he is. Kind of getting sick of the heartfelt appeals I keep reading about on blog sites too. Not at all in my memory has a candidate inspired such vapid declarations of fealty from so many - everyone talks about the feelings and thoughts Obama inspires. Hope. Pride. More hope. Change. Actually, that about covers it. It's actually pretty depressing to me, as it screams "people will pretty much back anyone who can make a stirring speech and maintain the right image". It doesn't help that I regard maudlin routines as a negative sign. I was an adamant supporter of Pat Buchanan, but even though the guy is a master communicator, it always came down to the philosophy, the policy intentions, the details. I don't cast a vote because of the emotion it will stir in my heart. Actually, I don't vote at all. Not for these guys, anyway. As an aside, anecdotally, the same people who usually praise Obama's vision and presence and positiveness usually pull a knife out and gut Hillary when the subject switches to her. I get a kick out of that.
Easter's coming up too. Various reflections there. Looks like it should be peaceful this year too, unlike last year. Oh, btw - if anyone ever wants to comment on these LJ things, contact me, or throw an email to misterpengo@gmail - really, I disallow comments because I reject the comment culture that most blogs and sites nowadays try to foster. Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that many comment sites feature more content from the original contributor, by far, in the comment section than in the original post section? But I've done this rant before.
I had an odd dream. Already the details escape me, but it involved delicious donuts, bishops, friends of mine, teleportation, and the loss of delicious donuts.
I was at a Knights of Columbus style meeting where people were talking about fundraising activities. I was there because I was somewhat interested in the goings-on and also, hey, free donuts! I mean, these were GOOD donuts. Really unbelievably unhealthy, oil-laden, and I had a bag of them. Some nice old lady started to talk about how she originally was the one to suggest these donuts for a fund-raiser and how she's working on some new recipes. The people said, oh, those recipes sound like what we're already using.
I say, heyyyy, I'm willing to try out your recipe. :9 She's nice enough, says okay.. and suddenly I'm teleported out. Except, oddly enough, I'm teleported to hell. But it's okay, because it's like.. text-game, Get Ye Flask hell. Utterly not intimidating. I exit there soon enough, then realize a friend of mine somehow messed with a teleportation ability. I approach them and say, damn you, you teleported me out of the middle of a good meeting - and also, I lost my fucking donuts! They end up running off in anger. Last thing I remember is contacting them to apologize, while trying to figure out how to get back to the meeting. Was.. talking with someone, but .. hrm.. I was having trouble, as I was moving down the road at a high velocity while talking with them, and they had bad hearing, so they had to keep teleporting forward to continue the conversation.
Been a busy day. And no, I'm not hungry. Haven't had donuts in weeks even. Go figure.
Oh, by the way.|
Regarding the media blackout on Prince Harry.
I normally don't give a shit about royals talk, even if I vaguely like Prince Charles. But does anyone find the explanation that there was a media blackout because the journalists/editors were dearly concerned for the Prince's safety.. to be a load of bull? Notice how they leave out that part that, in the negotiations with the royals, these guys were promised all kinds of exclusive stories and information after he had finished his tour of duty. The red flag should be that the decision to Do The Right Thing was arrived it in *negotiations*, not independently volunteered. Quid pro quo.
On THAT note, does anyone see the fact that a government is able to cut deals - collectively - with a huge portion of the press as being, I dunno.. creepy? Granted, this is over in Europe - a place where (and I say this with apologies to my european friends) any amount of democracy and individual rights were things gradually allowed by the powers that be, and where cultural tradition favors reliance on a prime central authority without exception. For example, English "democracy" grew out of Queen Victoria being so distraught over the loss of her husband that she removed herself from politics to a considerable degree. France had a revolution, the atheists and deists killed a lot of people for awhile, then they had Napoleon - an autocrat so powerful that even after being exiled, his legacy lives on in Napoleonic-everything, from legal systems to measurements for bread. And Germany? Ha ha. Germany got so out of hand the rest of the west had to occupy them so they'd settle down. You hear that, Germany? We had to give you treatment normally reserved for countries like Haiti, or Liberia! Get over your horribly lingering Nietzche phase too. Seriously, ask yourself why we consider Europe 'democratic' sometime, when the concept is at best an artificial and recent part of their collective culture.
Anyway, enough of the American cockwaving. Not like we're any better with our shitty two-party system - it's more embarassing because we, at least, started out with a blood-won respect for individual freedom. The point is, the whole affair just illustrates why we have to resist that strange manufactured lie that 'freedom of the press' specifically refers to journalists in the employ of a paper or network owned by one of 3-4 megaconglomerates. I'm part of the press. So are you. We all have - or deserve to have - every bit of freedom to investigate and report as guys who got a journalism degree. And why? Because - get ready for it - the individual is the ultimate checks-and-balance system. It takes one Matt Drudge type to take a story the big networks spiked, and tell everyone about it. Or it only takes one obnoxious, full-of-himself blogger to do some research and point out that hey, Dan Rather is actually full of shit. But it requires an individual awareness and responsibility. Believe that only 'those guys on TV' can be members of the press, and you're dead in the water.
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