Uncommon Sense

March 22, 2019

So Smart and Yet … And Still Prone to Simple Mistakes

In the most recent Scientific American issue, there was an interview with a Brazilian physicist.

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says
In conversation, the 2019 Templeton Prize winner does not pull punches on the limits of science, the value of humility and the irrationality of nonbelief
by Lee Billings (March 20, 2019)

According to that article “Marcelo Gleiser, a 60-year-old Brazil-born theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College and prolific science popularizer, has won this year’s Templeton Prize. Valued at just under $1.5 million, the award from the John Templeton Foundation annually recognizes an individual ‘who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.’”

“… And by doing that, by understanding how science advances, science really becomes a deeply spiritual conversation with the mysterious, about all the things we don’t know. So that’s one answer to your question. And that has nothing to do with organized religion, obviously, but it does inform my position against atheism. I consider myself an agnostic.

“I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. ‘I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.’ Period. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations.”

I can’t really tell whether this is willful ignorance or just Lying for Jesus. It is hard to tell, but really “What is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief.”

According to this convoluted definition if you do not accept the “proof” of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, then you really just believe in their nonexistence, for no reasons whatsoever.

So, all of the evidence that Santa isn’t real is not to be considered. If you do not think Santa is real, then you have a belief in the nonbelief in Santa.

What a crock of horse pucky.

Atheism is not a belief. Here is what atheism at its core is:
Theist God exists and loves you!
Atheist I don’t “believe” you.
Theist But the proof is obvious; it is all around you.
Atheist Yeah, like what?
Theist Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Atheist Your proofs make no sense. I am not convinced.

Atheists are not believers, nor are they unbelievers. We are the unconvinced. Being unconvinced is not a state built on a foundation of belief, it is built on a foundation of no evidence, bad arguments, special pleading, logical errors, and a great many facts to the contrary.

Compatabilist scientists notwithstanding, trying to turn atheism into a belief system to imbue it with all of the flaws of religious belief systems and put it on an equal footing with them is an old, old strategy … that still does not work. Why? Because we are not convinced that atheism is a belief.

July 2, 2018

Can Christians Lie?

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:03 am
Tags: , , ,

Note On rare occasions I get new viewers so I feel compelled to explain why religion pops up so often on a Class Warfare blog. Simply it is the case that religions do not survive, let alone thrive, unless they function to coerce the labor of the masses to serve the benefit of the religious and secular elites. This has been true since the dawn of civilization, some 5500 years, and I am not the first to recognize this. Religion is a weapon used in the Class War by the rich and powerful against the rest of us.

A post on Religion Dispatches asked the above question although it appears to be akin to click bait as the answer is tossed off as “Of course.” but goes on to detail fundamentalist dissembling. The post (Can Christians Lie? How Conservative Evangelical Bible Interpretation Has Shaped ‘Truth’ by Christopher Douglas, Jun 29, 2018) goes on to address several instances where lying might be claimed. (This clarification may end up being the one positive contribution of Donald Trump to American society.)

In one segment of the article the young Earth creationist Henry Morris, was addressed as someone who actually believes what he espouses. The article states:

“Is Morris lying? Not really, since he really believes evolutionary science is wrong. He isn’t really or obviously insincere or duplicitous. Does he use his considerable scientific literacy disingenuously, to muddy the evidence and cast doubt on relatively accepted science? Yes—but he believes, with apparent sincerity, that this science is wrong and that his views are true. It’s not a lie if one has already convinced oneself of the truth of one’s stance.”

It’s not a lie if one has already convinced oneself of the truth of one’s stance. . . .

This claim is based upon the assumption that intention to deceive is necessary for a lie to be told. But I think this is not so straightforward. Mr. Morris co-authored with John C. Whitcomb the book The Genesis Flood (1961), so he is somewhat of an expert on what he claims, but his claims have all been filtered through presuppositions, primarily that the Great Flood happened. The key words here are “convinced oneself.” Mr. Morris wrote a researched book about the Great Flood, primarily I suspect, because the information in it, certainly some of it, hadn’t been disclosed before. If that is so, where did Mr. Morris get the idea that there was such a flood? (Hint: take a guess. Basically if you weren’t convince there were such an event, would the evidence jump out at you and cause you to go looking for more?)

As human beings we are fully capable of convincing ourselves of all kinds of things that are not true. For example, any time I infer someone’s intentions from something they said or did, I automatically assume I am wrong. Why? Because I have been wrong almost every damned time I was able to check on my inference! I therefore often take a step back to ask “What do we really know here? And is almost always a lot less than anyone thinks.

So, if someone makes an extraordinary claim, say that a worldwide flood occurred that caused all of the land to be submerged in water, you have to ask: who told you this? Then you can begin to see if there is anything real there. The first thing to ask is: is this source trustworthy? If the person who told you this is trustworthy then you have to ask whether they could have gotten it wrong from their source or whether the people who told them were lying, etc.

If the sources aren’t available, such as the authors of the Great Flood story, then you have to look at the documents themselves. Are these documents the original documents? Are the authors known (to be able to judge their truthiness)? In the absence of these, we are only left with “Could such a thing happen? With regard to the Great Flood story there are a great many holes in the story, discussions of which you can read in multiple places. Here, the only one I will address is the big problem of all of the water needed. Currently water covers three quarters of the globe to a maximum depth of six miles, although the average depth is much less than that. To cover the entire surface of the Earth to a full height of six miles (Mt. Everest, you know) would require far more water (at least double) than there is in the world’s repositories of water now. Where did this water come from? Where did it drain away to? How long would it take for that amount of water to drain away? I have already addressed that the survivors would have nothing to eat nor would that have timber to built structures for years after such an event (submerging all living things in brackish water for a year kills them dead, dead, dead). So, how does one “convince oneself” that this event truly happened?

It seems that the vast majority of people who believe such things believe them because the written source of the story is certified by a deity. If this is the case, they have identified who told them, but then they have to then ask whether the source is trustworthy (the book, of course, as the deity is not to be questioned), etc.

So, with regard to “It’s not a lie if one has already convinced oneself of the truth of one’s stance.” I might accept this premise but it needs to be expanded, maybe to “It’s not a lie if one has already convinced or deluded oneself of the truth of one’s stance.” To the authors of this post credit, they get there also.

 

April 8, 2018

The U.S. Constitution is Based Upon Christian Principles … Really, Again? Still?

 

President Trump is beloved by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians because he uses their methods (aka “He understands us.”). The prime method they share is to state propaganda points over and over to the point that everyone accepts them as being the case, if not being true.

One such claim is that the U.S. government is built upon Christian principles. I was tempted to call this a lie, but for it to be a lie the people making the claim need to understand that it is false and state it any way. It is possible they haven’t reasonned it through, because, well, reason is not their long suit. It is none the less untrue, false, wrong.

Some start by claiming the Constituion is based upon the Ten Commandments or at least incorporates them. Let’s look at that. Here, in short form they are …

The Ten Commandments

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
    2. You shall not make idols.
    3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    5. Honor your father and your mother.
    6. You shall not murder.
    7. You shall not commit adultery.
    8. You shall not steal.
    9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    10. You shall not covet.

And here is their relation to the Constitution:

  1. Not addressed. In fact, God is not mentioned in the Constitution. And the First Amendment to the Constitution strictly forbids the U.S. Government from creating or sponsoring a religion or forbidding any religious practice of any kind. (The states can, however.)
    2. Not mentioned.
    3. Not mentioned.
    4. Not mentioned.
    5. Not mentioned.
    6. Not mentioned.
    7. Not mentioned.
    8. Not mentioned.
    9. Not mentioned. Perjury is illegal in most senses, otherwise the legal system would fall apart, but it is not part of our federal government structure.
    10. Actually, the assumed economic system, capitalism, is based upon coveting things, so this is 100% assbackward.

Okay, here’s the Consitution, again in short.

Preamble
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure … etc.

Article 1
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article 2
Clause 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen …

Article 3
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the suprem…

Article 4
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which suc…

Article 5
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several Stat…

Article 6
Section 1. All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

Article 7
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Amendments
The Bill of Rights may well be the most celebrated part of the Constitution of the United States, the home to long-cherished guarantees of Americans’ most fundamental rights and freedoms. Here they are (in short):

  1. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
    2. Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
    3. No quartering of soldiers.
    4. Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
    5. Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
    6. Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
    7. Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
    8. Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
    9. Other rights of the people.
    10. Powers reserved to the states.

Anything even remotely Christian there? Nope. Christianity claims that the only proper form of government is a theocracy, in which their god calls all of the shots. God makes and enforces all of the rules (often through others). The religious elites decide who gets to speak for god (the Catholics do this when they elect a Pope, but the common people do not get a vote). So, no voting, no courts, no three branches of government, none of that is in the Christian Bible. The Bible does not and would not approve of democracy: represenative, direct, or otherwise.

So, where is this influence?

Many say that the framers were all Christians, so they had to include Christian principles if for no other reason it was woven into their psyches. I guess we need to be thankful that all of the framers, or most, weren’t poker or whist players. Can you imagine the whist influence on the Constitution?

Conclusion
Since many, if not most, of the framers were deists, we can accept that they were “god believers,” although their definition of “god” may be at variance with that of today’s believers. Since they were all god believers, then if the logic of this argument holds, we should see god in the Constitution. Do you see any god in the Constitution? I do not.

Consequently this claim (“the U.S. government is built upon Christian principles”) is, in effect, a big lie, one told over and over often enough that a great many people believe it. Call it a big untruth if you will, it just ain’t so.

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