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Seed Newsvine

I am posting a short video I made that addresses Pascal’s Wager that simply states that even if the odds for the existence of God or gods is overwhelming, there is the slight chance that one is wrong. If it turns out that God(s) exist then the non-believer risks eternal damnation while the believer is eternally rewarded. If it turns out that there really is no God or God(s) then it makes no difference to the believer or non-believer–nothing is lost in the bargain. So Pascal concludes that on the off chance that there might, in fact, be a God(s) it makes sense to believe.As this video points out, there are substantial flaws in Pascal’s reasoning. Which God(s) does one choose to believe in? Wouldn’t picking the wrong one be tantamount to not picking at all? Isn’t Pascal’s belief merely a belief of convenience and not of conviction; wouldn’t an omnipotent, omniscient God(s) see right through the rouse and leave the pretender in the same position as if he didn’t choose at all?

I think I’ll remain a Bright. There simply isn’t enough evidence to convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that God(s) exist. I’ll not fall into the destructive trap of Pascal’s Wager.

clipped from youtube.com

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Seed Newsvine

Clipped from YouTube, this video is a powerful reminder that asking the skeptical questions is the first and only requirement of being human. Without skeptical inquiry we would still be napping flint weapons, living in caves, and wandering about the plains in search of food. Asking skeptical questions, however, is not a remedy for ambition, hubris, or evil. It is not a remedy for those who believe without evidence. It is not a remedy for stupidity. Skepticism is, however, the springboard to human progress and greatness.

clipped from www.youtube.com

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And this is a powerful response to Pale Blue Dot.

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Seed Newsvine

I believe because I want to believe! To hell with the evidence to the contrary, the bible says it is true.

It is absolutely amazing to me how otherwise intelligent people can be so duped by belief that they cannot or will not examine the rigorous body of scientific evidence that exists regarding the geological and biological history of the earth we live on and, in its place, accept the particular mythology, the creation mythology, of a band of desert Hebrews written down some 3000 years ago. Why accept that particular myth and not others. What about the myths of creation that emanate from China, India, or from Native American cultures? Are their gods any less than the god of the Hebrews? Do their gods have answers that are any less appealing (however false) than those of the god of the Hebrews? And what about all of the contradictions in the creation myths of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? The order of creation is different in each chapter, for example. And then, gosh, if Adam and Eve were the very first human beings and they had only 2 sons, Cain and Able and Cain slew Able and what thereupon banished to the land of Nod where there he knew his wife, WHERE THE HECK DID SHE COME FROM?

And dinosaurs lived on the earth along side man,,,Oh please. If your sources are no better than the bible then all you have is a belief that cannot be supported by the facts. That is known as an egocentric belief, a belief that cannot stand the pressure of reason. Oh, I forget, you don’t really care about reason because your mind is already made up regardless of what facts might be presented.

clipped from www.atheists.org
AMERICAN ATHEISTS today announced its full support for the “Rally for
Reason” protest slated for Monday, May 28, 2007 (Memorial Day) at the
grand opening of a creationist “museum” operated by an evangelical
religious group in Boone County, KY.
The $27 million facility is a project of the Answers in Genesis group
which promotes a literal, biblical view of how life and universe
ostensibly began, and challenges mainstream scientific findings about
evolution. The museum will reportedly include exhibits reflecting the
inaccurate claim that dinosaurs and human beings co-existed in a “Garden
of Eden” style Earth, and that our planet was fashioned by the
Judeo-Christian deity approximately 6,000 years ago.
The “Rally for Reason” is calling on all groups – including Atheists,
Freethinkers, Humanists and other non-believers – as well as religious,
civic and educational organizations that support good science to join in
the peaceful protest outside the gates of the “Answers in Genesis.”

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I decided to mess around with making a video for my students as I begin to teach research methods to graduate students. In this course I push ideas such as clarity of thinking, accuracy in both thinking and in how one relies on source material, precision in thought processes, relevance of information to one’s argument, the depth and breadth of one’s investigation of both the relevant literature and the methodological approach one takes as a researcher, the logical development of the argument, the significance of the argument and, finally, whether or not one has been fair to all sides of a given position–this last point is not to argue that one cannot take a stand, rather that one must at the very least acknowledge alternative stances and, if one wishes, pick them apart.

This YouTube video will serve as an introduction to the class in which we discuss issues related to the difference between belief and rigorous research. I sort of like what I made here. I think it serves as a good introduction to the topic, but, then, I am the creator and am a bit biased.

My university is insisting that we all teach using technology to a greater extent in order to look good for an accreditation review upcoming in 2010. So there you have it.

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Seed Newsvine

Another example of misusing data to fit a theist view of the world. By rejecting scientific evidence and more, Michael Behe is able to convince only the uninitiated, the believer. He is not able to make inroads on well trained biologists or other scientists. The lesson is, it seems to me, is that before one accepts anything at face value one has the obligation to address the appropriate available evidence and then asks the skeptical questions that make that evidence stand up to those questions. It is not good enough to believe in something because you believe in something. That tautology will only run you around in circles causing only severe dizziness.

clipped from www.youtube.com

Michael Behe is one of the most well known ID proponents. However, his arguments must be seen in light of his character and his agenda. This video deals with several problems with Behe’s position:
1. Behe ignores and rejects empirical evidence
2. No major scientific organization, including Behe’s own colleagues, endorse ID
3. In 20 years (some would say a couple of hundred years), ID has failed to make its case to the scientific community
4. Behe rejects the scientific method, and wants to replace it with his own5. Behe’s version of “peer review” is simply dishonest and misleading

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Seed Newsvine

Who would have thought that a cup of coffee could be so offensive. When the following appeared on a Starbucks’ cup I laughed a bit and moved on with my life:

You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. — Dr. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

I don’t believe in a creator god, a sky fairy, the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. I find people that do to be mostly uninformed, not because they are stupid but because they simply haven’t examined the evidence. But I am not offended by those who do unless they use that belief to justify blowing themselves up or telling me what to believe,

Because Ken Peck is offended by what he considers to be an anti-Christian blurb on the back of a coffee cup, I have to think that Mr. Peck is so unsure of his belief system that he must find some way to censor the remarks. In the Middle Ages monks burned books they considered heretical. Would Mr. Peck suggest that we return to those days. Sounds like it. Does Mr. Peck consider that Starbucks includes blatantly religious blurbs on the back of their cups as well? Does Mr. Peck even consider that balance is the most effective cure for hate?

clipped from wnd.com
Coffeehouse giant Starbucks is standing by its campaign to put thought-provoking messages on its coffee cups despite a national uproar and threat of boycott over a message some felt was “anti-God.”
Controversy erupted this week after a customer became steamed reading a quote that stated:
“Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”
The quote was written by Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada, and was included as part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” campaign to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.
One reader, Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., has since purchased a coffee with another message he felt was a slam against his Christian faith, and snapped a photograph of it.

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Seed Newsvine

So I guess the ALDHS would classify Thomas Jefferson as a terrorist! Such rhetoric must stem from the complete lack of understanding of limited constitutional government. In any case, such labeling and name calling has no place in the American democracy.

The article went on to say:

If I’m not mistaken, the idea that government, if not kept in check, will become corrupt and abusive was first made popular in this country by our founding fathers, not a bunch of terrorist anarchist groups. This was the very reason for the implementation of the United States Constitution! In fact even Section 35 of the Alabama Constitution warns of this danger is it declares, “the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.”

The Alabama.gov site continues, “Most of these groups operate around larger urban areas and colleges/universities… Some are focused on issues such as World Trade, International Debt, and military involvement in foreign cultures… The theme is always the same. Big [government] is bad. Rich are using the poor to stay rich. Our government in particular is using its power immorally.”

In short, if you oppose gun control, taxes, military intervention, most of our national debt being held by foreign nations, or just a large federal government, you might be a terrorist!

The very idea that those who value their personal rights and liberties are being labeled terrorists by the State of Alabama is not only absurd and egregiously offensive, it completely contradicts the ideals our federal and state governments were founded on! The people of Alabama should be outraged!

These Alabama.gov pages can be reached by visiting the Alabama Homeland Security TAP Course, clicking on “Domestic Terrorists”, and then on “Anti-Government Groups”.

clipped from www.chrisbrunner.com
The Alabama Department of Homeland Security (ALDHS), established in June of 2003, has recently constructed a website that defines Domestic Terrorists as those who oppose gun control and a strong federal government.
Under the heading “Anti-Government Groups”, the site displays a flag that is widely considered one of the first symbols of American patriotism and reads, “In general, these terrorists claim that the U.S. government is infringing on their individual rights, and/or that the government’s policies are criminal and immoral. Such groups may hold that the current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution…”
While Anarchism is defined by a lack state control and Communism is a maximization state control, two polar opposite concepts, the page that follows reads, “Anarchists groups are the 21st Century’s version of left wing or communist groups of the last. Anarchists believe that any government or organization that has power over others

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