Class Warfare Blog

January 17, 2021

What is the Strongest Proof that God Does Not Exist?

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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(I have a practice of trying to offer religious posts on Sundays. This is no exception. S)

The question in the title of this post was a question that popped up on Quora. It came with over 100 answers. I did not read them all, but quite a few of those I did read included some form of this tidbit “To be clear you can never say with 100% certainty that a god of some type does not exist.”

Maybe it is my scientific training but “100% proof” is something that does not exist except in our imaginations. We desire certainty in matters that are life and death. Even 50:1 odds in your favor don’t guarantee that you win. But 100% proof is an absolute that just doesn’t exist. And insisting on 100% proof that a god does not exist is a ploy to ensure failure for anyone who tries, a dishonest ploy. The request for the “strongest” proof is quite honest, however.

The example I use as my standard of a very high probability occurrence is the Sun coming up tomorrow. I predict that it will. I am very, very sure that this will happen. I understand why it has this high probability. Physically, either the Earth would have to stop rotating upon its axis or be thrown somehow off into space or maybe the Sun would have to disappear or explode or something of that ilk. The amount of force that would be necessary to stop the earth from rotating overnight (I did say the Sun will come up tomorrow) is so immense that the Earth would be sundered into pieces were it to be applied. Similarly if the Sun were to blow up, so as to not be there when the Earth rotates around through the night, it is unlikely the Earth would survive such an explosion.

So, the prediction that the Sun will come up tomorrow is secure and near 100% in certainty. I can imagine a scenario in which it does not, say involving aliens with advanced planet-busting weaponry (Like the Death Star of Star Wars!). It could destroy the Earth so that there is nothing to rotate around and no one to see the Sun “rising.” So, my prediction is not 100% certain.

So, is anything 100% certain? I do not think so. All quantitative laws in science are based upon measurements, none of which are 100% certain. All qualitative laws are based upon observations, which also are not 100% certain.

Human opinions, such as you may think Emily is a total Karen, a total bitch, but then you find out she dotes on her grandfather, so . . . not 100% certain. And so on. . . .

So, back to the God question. What is a reasonable sort of standard of proof? Since no proof currently exists, we should start with a low standard. I suggest 50+%. In words this would be “more likely than not.” This could be plugged into Bayesian calculations for our assessment.

So, can anyone make such an argument and have it be valid?

I have studied this question at some length. Recently I read a book entitled “The Non-Existence of God” by Nicholas Everitt. Doctor Everitt is a professional philosopher (I am only an amateur philosopher) and you can tell his conclusion based upon an exhaustive search through history for all of the philosophical arguments for the existence of a god. I say this so that you will understand that philosophical arguments will not serve our needs here. I seriously doubt that a philosophical argument can prove anything. At best they can attach conclusions to sets of premises, the outcomes of which are determined by the truthiness of the premises.

So, we need something other than a philosophic argument. The best option would be a scientific argument. So, start with some evidence, make a conjecture and then see if it holds up.

Any takers?

Note Obviously from the numbers of answers to questions regarding the existence of a god or gods, this is an important question to many people. I am hesitant to add another “answer” a question that already has 100+ answers as I am unwilling to read all of those answers so that I do not just duplicate one of them with my own. But I do take a stab every once in a while.

January 15, 2021

Scientific Method Nonsense (Promulgated by Teachers)

Filed under: Education — Steve Ruis @ 1:02 pm

I encountered the following question on Quora today: “What is the correct order of steps in the scientific method?”

I Googled the scientific method and got this in the “People Also Ask” box:
What are the 5 parts of the scientific method?
What are the 4 parts of the scientific method?
What are the 6 stages of the scientific method?
What are the 8 steps of the scientific method?
Each of these contain nonsense such as  “The scientist selects what it is that he wishes to observe.” I never knew! All of those years I spent as a scientist and a teacher of science and no one told me this!

There are no such steps and there is no correct order. (Repeat after me: There are. . . .) Rather the process is quite organic.

The “steps” often described were made up by teachers to have something to teach and test. (Ah, my people, my people! I weep for my people. Note In another life I was a professor of chemistry.)

The simplest form of the so-called scientific method is: conjecture and criticism. One makes a conjecture about how nature works and then one criticizes it. Often enough the criticism results in the conjecture being modified which results in the criticism (aka experiments designed to test the conjecture) being modified and on and on.

I have seen many such lists, most of which are quite comical. One started with #1 Collect Facts, followed by #2 Make Hypothesis, etc. My cartoon mind shows a Larsen-esque cartoon with a scientist (in a white lab coat, of course) standing with his hand on a door knob, the door labeled “Lab,” with the thought balloon “Today I am going to collect some facts!” One just doesn’t collect facts randomly, one becomes curious about some particular aspect of nature and learns as much as one can about that phenomenon. I guess that could be construed as “collecting facts” but that verbiage seems strange.

In order to make a good conjecture, one needs to know a great deal about the phenomenon under scrutiny. Then one asks why this, why that? And then moves onto “maybe such and such is happening.” This is the conjecture. Then one goes on to “if that is happening, how could I test that?” This is the criticism. Obviously one needs to have a conjecture before one can criticize it, but as mentioned before, often one affects the other and vice-versa, so their “order” is somewhat vague at best.

The parts of the process that are more important are: being committed to honesty, following the data wherever they lead, sharing one’s data and processes widely through publication, correcting errors, admitting when one was incorrect, and so on. These are more important than any such list of steps made up by some teacher. Apparently these lists are important because school children ask an unending stream of questions about them . . . what a waste of time and effort.

Yeah, Now Is the Time to Organize

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:50 am
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After seeing the almost all-white insurrectionists attempting a coup at the Capitol building ushered in by bowing and scraping capitol cops (descendants of the Keystone Kops?) it is clear that the organizing of all of the white power and white supremacy groups is justified. Clearly white privileges are being eroded.

Some of the miscreants are even being arrested and put in jail! No matter, Trump will probably pardon them . . . won’t he?

Also clearly, black people asking to be treated the same way as white people infringes upon the rights white people have cherished for oh, so many years. This actually doesn’t affect white privileges at all, but the Totem Pole Principle applies here (The Only Way to Know You are Not on the Bottom of the Pole is to be Standing On Top of Another). Why if blacks were treated the same way as whites, then whites would be treated the same way as blacks, a definite loss of status.

So, white supremacy groups are organizing and growing support. That this is happening at the same time Christian nationalists are doing the same thing is no accident. This is due to the fact that Jesus was white and spoke English as his first language (he wrote his Bible in English after all). Facts do matter!

January 14, 2021

Of Coyotes and QAnon

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:41 am
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After getting over my shock at the insurrection in the Capitol building a week ago, I called for people to pour over any photos and videos to see if they could identify any of the miscreants and get them rounded up by the authorities. Even Republicans believe in personal responsibility.

Little did I know or even think that selfsame miscreants would post their videos and selfies on the Internet. What idiots.

So, I hope this idiots will be rounded up and prosecuted . . . and . . . well the process tends to weed out the idiots. When the more easily identified and prosecuted go down, they are replaced by those with more competence.

I am reminded of coyotes. Coyotes? Yep. Ranchers in the west were tired of losing livestock to coyotes and got a federal bounty put on their heads. Wipe them out, they demanded. And so bounties were placed and guns started blazing away. The net result? As you would expect. The dumbest, less wily coyotes (sorry I couldn’t resist) got killed off first, so the others were harder to find. And whenever pressure like that is applied to a population, it moves. You can now find coyotes in 49 of the 50 states, prior to which they were confined to the western US states. You can even find them in cities, like Boston, and my home city, Chicago.

So, this “insurrection,” as cartoonish as it appears now, will be less so the next time, and less so after that. We are not out of the water yet as we have allowed a large right-wing minority to build up steam right out in the open. Soon they will be far less visible.

Sun Tzu said “that which you oppose you make stronger,” and someone much wiser than I said that “the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

January 8, 2021

If You See Something . . .

Filed under: Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:50 pm
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Remember after 9-11, the patriotic thing to say was . . . no, not Freedom Fries, but “If you see something, say something.”

I suspect that those troglodytes who invaded the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday won’t be able to contain themselves and will be posting “selfies” on Instagram and Facebook. If you see such pictures, forward them to the FBI if you would. Every single one of those assholes needs to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Let’s see … I recognize that guy … and that guy … oh, look a videographer, I wonder if he will post his videos?

I can hardly wait to hear them plead that they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong, or that they were just following orders, or that if the president recommends it, it is legal. Can’t wait.

I also can’t see Republicans objecting to us wanting those involved to take individual responsibility for their actions. This used to be a pillar of Republican ideology and I suspect they will want to be recapturing some of that from now on.

Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock then up!

January 7, 2021

Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Race,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:45 pm
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A picture is …

Imagine . . .

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 10:39 am
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Take a look at the photos of the goons milling around inside the Capitol building yesterday.

Here’s an example:

Now, imagine if they had been black.

Now you understand one of the pillars of white privilege. If those people had been black they would have been thrown to the ground, knelt upon, or shot or threatened with bayoneted rifles. But, they were white, so the kid gloves were issued to the capitol police.

As one commenter put it “When Black people protest in front of a Target in Minneapolis, police arm themselves for war. When White people storm government buildings they are met with selfies and a meager police force.”

Or as the title of a piece in The Onion put it “D.C. Police Lose Control Of Rioting Trump Supporters After Hundreds Of Officers Called Away To Deal With Black Jaywalker.”

Will Anyone Tell Them?

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:33 am

Will anyone tell the morons who invaded the Capitol building yesterday that they have been played? There are two scenarios for the dupes: one was that there was no serious possibility of any of their actions having an effect on the election and that they were just staging a Noh play for the press and two, the Idiot in Chief actually thought there was a chance it could work and they were manipulated by a total idiot.

Neither scenario is at all flattering to those duped.

So what is it gonna be Not-So-Proud-Boys? Were you duped to put on a play for the news or were you manipulated by a certifiable loon?

January 6, 2021

A Slight Difference in Approach

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:18 am
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In a online video (Mister Deity) one of the presenters being critiqued brought up a valid question—where did human consciousness, imagination, introspection abilities come from?

Science has an answer and some religions do, too.

Both see the same question. Humans are made of organs, the organs made of cells, the cells made of molecules, and the molecules made of atoms. In this there is no dispute. But all animals show these same characteristics, so why is man the animal different?

The religions, those which have an opinion (setting aside the Buddhists, et. al.) any way, claim that their god has injected something they call a soul into us at birth (exactly when this happens varies with the religion) and it is the soul which has these amazing abilities. The other animals lack this soul, you see, and so lack these abilities. This soul continues to exist after we die and goes on various adventures depending upon the religion.

Science’s answer to the main question is simpler. It is “We do not know, yet.” Science’s answer also has the advantage of science being how we found out that humans are made of organs, the organs made of cells, the cells made of molecules, and the molecules made of atoms. Since science has discovered every previous step in the chain, it seems more likely that it will continue to unravel this puzzle, and unravel the last bit.

The religious say, no, science will be confounded and the truly mysterious will happen, all orchestrated by a god that no one can provide any physical evidence of its existence.

So, what say you. If you had to bet on which approach is correct, which would it be?

For me, to abandon the scientific approach and favor any of the religious approaches is a little like taking a trip via horseback and when you had gone three quarters of the distance, abandon the horse and claim that a flying carpet will take you the rest of the way, having neither a carpet, nor any evidence that there has ever been a flying carpet.

I guess you just have to have faith.

January 4, 2021

Eff Them and the Horse They Rode in On

Filed under: Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 11:33 am

Every day my email inbox has several fundraising messages about how dire the Senate runoff races are in Georgia. We’re doomed, they claim, unless you pony up a donation! Ow, ow, ow . . . (I hear this in Sam Kinison’s voice). There is a veritable fundraising panic, that if I do not donate today, my lack of effort will doom the Senate and the country to Republican control of the Senate. Ow, Ow, Ow . . . !

Then I read in a news clip:

Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock blew past fundraising records, which were set just earlier this year, by raising more than $100 million each in the course of only two months for their races against GOP incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. And much like Democratic candidates around the country earlier this year, the record hauls came mostly from small-dollar donors, in this case likely animated by a consequential double runoff election that could tip the balance of the Senate toward Democrats.

“Blew passed fund raising records”? WTF?

So, the Supreme Assholes of the Democratic Party are pleading doom and gloom to garner even more donations when they already have more money than they thought they could use.

Eff them and the horse they rode in on

We need new political parties . . . two of them! The ones we have are beyond repair or help.

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