Tuesday, August 6, 2013

twitter: slavery conversation

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Faith Healing... Child Murder...

Bible verses on Faith Healing

Luke 8:50
Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

Psalm 30:2
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

Psalm 41:3
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 58:8
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Jeremiah 17:14
Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

Matthew 8:8
The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed."

Matthew 8:16
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.

Matthew 9:35
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Mark 5:34
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Luke 5:17
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.

One product of superstition and magical thinking, when people take it seriously, are things like Cases of Childhood Deaths Due to Parental Religious Objection to Necessary Medical Care.

See some more accounts of Faith Healing at What's the Harm in Faith Healing.

Rules of the Code

Throw The First One Away
You will understand the problem much better after your first attempt.
(corollary: they never let you throw the first one away)

Fail Quickly
This makes 'Throw The First One Away' less painful and improves testability

Minimize Coupling, Maximize Cohesion
It is better to reduce the amount of dependency between modules to make future changes and adaptations easier. Also, it is better to increase the relatedness of each function within a module.

Don't Be Afraid To Learn Something
And don't be afraid to 'Google' it! Many times people hesitate to move forward productively because they feel that they don't know something - a little hubris isn't always a bad thing, dive in and 'Fail Quickly'.

Make It Work First, Then Make It Fast
Goes with 'Fail Quickly', you won't have wasted that time when you have to backtrack.

Data Design > Code Design
Data Driven Design + Little Languages = greater expressive power
APIs are little languages too, so learn some language design

Document "Why"
i = 2; // set i to 2 <<< THIS IS NOT HELPING
i = 2; // first two elements of the array are reserved for...

Save Early, Save Often
Where did my code go? corollary: Learn how to use a source repository

Requirements! Requirements! Requirements!
Avoid spherical cows. Understand what is actually needed early on, don't code yourself into a corner either as Requirement can & will change.

"All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection" -- David Wheeler
"except for the problem of too many layers of indirection" -- Kevlin Henney

Design in Error Handling
Don't leave error handling and reporting to the end, include it in the design and understand the Requirements.


If you can't answer these don't EVEN try to lie to me about Evolution...

(1) Which specific allele mutation(s) enabled transport of citrate under aerobic conditions in a strain of Escherichia coli? (name the allele(s) and give details of the exact mutation(s) observed)

(2a) What published, peer-reviewed scientific study looked specifically at the theory of universal common ancestry and what were the findings?

(2b) (trick question:) Where is the peer-reviewed refutation of the above study?

(3a) What species is the best candidate for the Most Recent Common Ancestor between Homo sapiens (humans) and Pan troglodytes (chimpanzees)?

(3b) How many millions of years is the best estimate for that Most Recent Common Ancestor?

(3c) How many years ago did that species die out?

(3d) When do modern Pan troglodytes first make an appearance?

(3e) Did human beings evolve from ANY member of Pan troglodyte? [Hint: the answer is no]

(3f) Repeat (3a-3e) above for Gorilla and Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus).

(4a) How many published, peer-reviewed studies are there that address Evolutionary Theory? (pick a rough order of magnitude: 10? 100? 1000? 10000? 100,000? 1,000,000?)

(4b) How many of those studies have you ACTUALLY bothered to read?

(4c) How many of those did you ACTUALLY understand?(please cite the study, give your interpretation of key findings, and there will be follow-up questions)

Feel free to contribute enlightening examples

See Also: Christian/Atheist pre-discussion questionnaire

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Response: What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

RE: What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

The things raised in this article only scratch the surface because these objections apply to all groups, pretty much at equal rates, not just to Christians. I do not, cannot, and should not fault Christianity for the mere behavior of adherents. I'm only concerned when it is the religious institution acting as a body or when the actions are condoned or commanded by the religion.

For example, I don't blame Christianity for priests who sexually abused children, but I DO blame the institutions that knowingly protected them. That goes for secular institutions as well.

Rather, I look at Christianity itself - the commandments to genocide, the acts of infanticide, the explicit endorsement of slavery, the admonishment to give no thought to the morrow. And the astonishing level to which Christians will either ignore or lie about the BIble in order to protect their beliefs -- that raises the red flag for me.

One example of this is William Lane Craig's appeal that we think of the poor Israeli soldiers who are having to slaughter the women and children of the Canaanites.

When God supposedly commands Abraham to murder his son Isaac and he packs up the mule and heads to the mountain - this is seen as a wonderful and glorious display of Faith. And then Christians dare to condemn Andrea Yates when she says God told her to kill her children? How can they possibly claim to argue God didn't?

I understand that we all have ideals of behavior that we fall short of upholding ourselves, I cannot judge anyone as anything other than an individual for that, but this is the kind of institutional hypocrisy that is bothersome to me because they are ignoring their common-sense moral compass that murdering innocent children is wrong when it comes to Biblical passages, which they excuse.

After all, for Christians, this scapegoating human sacrifice of a Son was later carried out in the name of Jesus. I know it's difficult to hear but you worship a human sacrifice. And if you truly believe Jesus is God and didn't actually die and now sits at the Right Hand of God then what was the sacrifice exactly? Wouldn't Jesus, being God, already know of pain worse than any human scourge?

Of course, we all know that Andrea Yates was delusional. And those of us who are now outside the 'belief structure' it is easy to see that either this story is allegorical or perhaps the acts of a delusional person who nearly committed a great evil.

But whatever else they believe about it, Christians cannot escape that they believe in a 'God' who supposedly did command a man to murder his own son. It matters not that he stayed Abrahams hand in the end, a fundamental corruption of our inner moral compass is implanted.

How many infants did Joshua slaughter with a sword at Jericho? Joshua 6 [but of course "All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury"]
How many infants were murdered in revenge of Amalek? 1 Samuel 15:2-3
How many infants drowned in the Flood? Genesis 6:1-9:17
How many children has god had torn into by bears? 2 Kings 2:23-24
How many infants & children has god had slain? Jeremiah 50:21-22
How many first-born infants died in Egypt so god could show off? Exodus 12:29-30
How many women were murdered, accused of being a witch? Exodus 22:18
How many children were stoned to death for breaking OT rules? Leviticus 20:9
How many people have been murdered because the bible commands it? 2 Chronicles 15:12-13

Deuteronomy 7: When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them...nor shew mercy unto them

Or the Holiness Code, Leviticus 25:44-46 in which non-Israelite slaves shall serve FOREVER - they were inheritable property even upon the owners death and could be beaten (Exodus 21:20-21) within the limit that they don't die within a day. If they suffer a few days and then die, that's ok, because they are just property.

Manifest Destiny and the Requerimiento where God says we own this land and we will drive out, murder, or enslave any who stand in our way and don't convert to our religion are other faces of Christianity that Christians should reflect deeply upon.

These are the aspects of Christianity that I find especially troubling (and most of these are in some way shared in other religions and even some non-religious movements). All calls to an exceptional identity share most of these issues - "join US and you'll be exceptional and will deserve and enjoy more rights and authority than outsiders".

Prejudice, Ideology, Exceptionalism, Credulity, Superstitions - these are the root causes.

I wonder if any Bible-believing Christians would be willing to be held to same standard the Bible holds others to in passages such as 1 Kings 18. If you cannot set Bull meat on fire with prayer should you be slaughtered? I find the very thought abhorrent but there it is in the BIble, again being promulgated as Glorious goodness itself, the very hand of God at work.

By the time God is done, just by the explicit numbers in the Bible, God kills 2,821,364 people - and this number does NOT include the unnumbered cases such as the Flood or First Born.

This is why I could not continue as a Christian, simply reading the Bible and being honest about the contents.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mere Secularism?

I’ll be a mere ‘secularist’ when, In The Name Of And Justified By Religion people STOP:
  • burning men and women to death as witches
  • beating gay people to death
  • pushing for legislation that would see gay people put to death
  • eschewing proper healthcare in favor of prayer and faith-healing
  • beating their children to death
  • flying planes into building
  • blowing themselves and others up
  • working to deny women or gay people rights
  • working to have the state violate women’s bodily autonomy
  • pushing their religious agenda into public schools or trying to take public funds to fund religious activities
  • justifying their wars

Or pushing for other types of violations of bodily autonomy or empowered and informed consent in the absence of prior aggression (and given due process of law).

Not a moment before then.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Philosophy Off The Rails

The self-proclaimed 'college professor' over at their BLOG Philosophy Out of the Box (Why Atheism is Illogical. Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim) has decided that, rather than lose the debate, they will just delete last response and block me, so I am reproducing them here for posterity (the first two as thumbnails, the last embedded as an image along with the referenced post that was also deleted by them).

And a fourth post they delete on another page that is referenced in the third post above:

The ????? is ἄθεος -- apparently his blog cannot handle Unicode.

I welcome feedback on my arguments.

When asked about the arguments presented by 'college professor', Massimo Pigliucci (Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York, @mpigliucci) responded:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stepford Heaven?

'The Stepford Wives' is a novel by Ira Levin in which the women in a suburban town are all unusually subservient to their husbands, with a sinister twist.

And if we look at the Christian Bible we find this claim about Heaven:

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.

Now, for Christians who also believe that unredeemed 'sinners' will be put into Eternal torment in Hell this raises the specter of someone (say a parent) having a dearly loved one (such as a child) suffering eternal torment in Hell while they are without mourning or sorrow or tears for their loved one.

This is why I sometimes refer to Christian Biblical Heaven as Stepford Heaven.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Are we 'wired' to believe in God?

Popular stories like Belief and the brain's 'God spot' overstate what the evidence actually suggests.

Yes, people have experiences of the ecstatic, the noetic, and the ineffable (I have had these experiences personally) but they are NOT sufficient to induce a belief in a God unless you are already primed through cultural inculcation towards that belief.

We know this because we have a vast history, amongst nearly EVERY native people, they had their shamans (pardon the misnomer) who would induce these experiences in themselves and sometimes in others through ritual, ascetic practices, drumming, dancing, meditation, breath control, fasting but far more frequently through the ingestion of various psychoactive substances such as Iboga, Peyote, Teonanácatl (magic mushrooms), Ska María Pastora (Salvia divinorum), Ayahuasca, Cannabis, Ololiuhqui (Morning Glory seeds), Kykeon (unknown, from the Eleusinian mysteries), Soma (unknown, from the Vedas) and claim to speak with 'spirits' and ancestors. These inventions did not have the properties of 'gods' until later as the concept emerged.

People compete and 'mine is bigger than yours' is a game that goes far back, probably beyond the origin of the homo sapien, and the spirits of the water, the land, the air, the volcano, the earthquake, the thunder, and the rain grew with the telling. Well my volcano spirit and beat your water spirit and I'll prove it by defeating you in war... we win, our god escalates. It's not hard to imagine that someone along the way, like a schoolchild argument, claimed "mine is bigger to infinity".

These things are experiences that people interpret in different ways depending on their culture. Not hardwired for God, but hardwired for fallacious thought, poor inference, false positives, and the misattribution of agency. These are the things that are scientifically confirmed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Objective vs Subjective and Miscellaneity

There are a few common misconceptions I would like to address...

This objective/subjective confusion is rampant, but they are not a dichotomy, they are not opposites, they are not mutually exclusive, they are two different levels of description.

The subjective exists, it has an objective reality. We can observe it and measure it to varying degrees. Not perfectly but our tools are rapidly improving. The difficulty or even impossibility of teleporting your brain states onto my brain so I can experience them is just a physical difficulty (and one of complexity).

Sure, Pain IS subjective, your brain takes in your entire sensorium and makes a calculated inference if it should signal pain or not - it can also be easily fooled. But this process is taking place in an objective reality, we can trace the signals into the brain and see the brain processing them and responding to them. 'Blue' is a description of a brain state that exists in objective reality, it doesn't even matter if our experience of 'blue' is different, it points to the same underlying physical phenomena and it takes place in an objective sense. Just because brains can be in states that do not point to some physical phenomena doesn't mean the experience isn't objectively taking place. One is the Map, the other is the Territory. The Map also exists, but we shouldn't confuse the two.

The 'addition' taking place in the following video is objective, despite the dominoes not knowing anything about mathematics themselves:

Scale that up a trillion fold and that is exactly what your brain is doing, physically and electrochemically, it is performing computation.

The evidence suggests that, for neuro-similar people, our subjective experiences are very similar -- and for neurologically divergent people, their subjective experiences are different. Someone with tetrachromacy has a subjectively different experience of 'color' than people with 2 or 3 pigments. But for trichromates, with otherwise similar brains, their experience of 'blue' and 'happy' and 'pain' are correspondingly similar both in terms of brain states and as described subjectively. When someone is neurologically dissimilar their descriptions of experiences differ from others (e.g., reports of synesthetes). Incidences of brain damage give us sometimes profound insights into the subjective impact of the physical brain. Our sense of empathy presumes and works because of these correspondences, it picks up on a multitude of cues and can closely reproduce the brain states of another person in the subject, giving us some ability to 'know' what others are experiencing.

But this doesn't mean that what you 'feel' maps to objective reality, that isn't a necessary property of existing objectively.

The link that @GSpellChecker gave is evidence of this ability to measure the 'subjective':

Fine-tuning is an appeal to ignorance (we don't know the range of possible physics so this cannot be measured), but we're going to conclude God did it anyway.

Objective morality hasn't been established and Euthyphro represents a huge challenge to the presumption of a God, even if we could establish Objective morality. This claim is especially funny coming the person who denies the objective reality of our subjective experiences of 'pain' and 'blue'.

Cosmological arguments are a combination of begging the question and arguments from ignorance and, at best, only establish a 'first-cause' for our universe. This is typically followed by a long line of fallacies and appeals to claim this cause is willful, intelligent, loving, and every other property they wish to attribute to their god, but it's Philosophical garbage. But the fundamental issue is that the premises of the Cosmological arguments are presumed on ignorance.

First of all, @GSpellChecker said it was 'not a credible scientific claim'. This is correct and the later claim that this doesn't mean something isn't true is a complete non sequitur to the point made. This goes back to the whole fundamental purpose of scientific investigation. Yes, there could be a China Teapot in orbit around Mars but our conclusions are not better off for having made them up. If you want to demonstrate that the China Teapot is actually there you need to make a series of falsifiable claims that establish this (they would need to give a signal characteristic of a teapot and be sufficient to distinguish the measurements from other possibilities). Until you can do this then the claim remains in contention.

The problem is that there are a infinite number of completely absurd claims that might be true, we must have some filter.

I address the second prong of this in my post Where do you find 'love' in the brain?

No, it was indicated as a necessary component of a physical model that predicted it would exist and if it didn't exist then the model was wrong.

But again, there are an infinite number of possible absurd 'gods' and 'teapots', there is no predictive model that suggests one is necessary.