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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why a Good Person MUST Vote for Same-Sex Marriage

re: Why a Good Person Can Vote against Same-Sex Marriage
Changing the definition of marriage is bad for society.
By Dennis Prager

[Note: a more appropriate name is gender-neutral marriage, as there is a spectrum of gender expression at the biological level as well as gender and sexual identity at the personal level]

Prager dissembles when he accuses both sides of not addressing the questions of the other side, yet he first creates a strawman of the "proponents question" (which he also incorrectly assumes is a singular question) and then fails to even adequately address that.

Prager ignores critical questions such as the constitutionality under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment; he ignores that marriage in the United States has been repeatedly found to be an Individual Right, a personal right founded on the rights of privacy (to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects), association, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Prager ignores that the foundation of our Rights are the understanding that sometimes Individual liberty is greater than societal concerns, the societal interest has to be legally 'Compelling'.

Prager argues that the comparison to anti-miscegenation laws (against mixed race marriages) is unfair, because "Because racial differences are insignificant and gender differences are hugely significant" which is just flabbergastingly backwards, read it again carefully. Mixed races CAN marry because their differences are 'insignificant' but only opposite-sex marriages are allowed because 'gender differences are hugely significant'. I think it is safe to say that logic isn't his strong point.

Prager's "Opposition to racism was advocated by every great moral thinker" is a blatant lie & slap in the face to those who suffered under some 1400 years** of Christian slave owners.
** For how many years were Christians slave owners?

Do we count back to the time of Paul when he returns the slave Onesimus to his Master Philemon, the wealthy Christian?
Should we begin the count after the imposition of Christianity on Rome under Constantine (~312CE)?
And when should our count end? We could pick the Emancipation Proclamation 1863 (but that didn't end Christian slave ownership).
Or should we use 1902, when the Rev. and Mrs. Hunter died, having never told their slaves about the Civil War or that Lincoln had freed them.
Or should we use 1981, when Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery.
Or should we continue the count to this day because people are still kept in slavery, despite it being illegal?

I don't care how you count it, it was many hundreds of years. And yes, to their individual credit, a few Christians through the years tried to argue that Slavery was wrong, but they did so against their own Bible and were largely unsuccessful as a result. And in the 19th Century it also true that many Christians came to the side of the abolition of Slavery (as did secular thinkers and activists of the period such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Ernestine Louise Rose, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, and Robert Ingersoll). But it is also undeniable that the Christians of the time were slavers and argued strenuously against the abolition of the institution and committed much violence against the African slaves in their care.

Biblical slavery also cannot be excused as mere indentured servitude (which it ALSO has, but only for the fellow Israelites, not foreign slaves):
Leviticus 25:46 foreign slaves are yours forever
Exodus 21:20-21 slaves are property & can be beaten

Let's look at the type of equality offered in the Bible. In Exodus 21:12 we see that if you 'Murder' (the Hebrew word for 'Murder' is not the same as the word for 'kill', you may 'kill' in self-defense or when ordered by God such as carrying out God's Law; while 'murder' pertains to killing an innocent party) someone it says you are to be put to death (Hebrew: מוּת (muth), put to death). However, in Exodus 21:20-21, when a slave, who is your property, is beaten to death there is to be נָקַם (naqam) Avenged for כָּ֫סֶפ (keseph) Silver (a fine is to be paid).

Also, in Genesis 9:25-27 Noah says, of his own youngest son, 'Cursed be Canaan' and condemns his family line to be the lowest of slaves to the lines of his brothers, Shem and Japheth. This will resurface as a command to commit genocide against the seven nations in Deuteronomy 7:1 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

Our own Declaration of Independence reads 'all men are created equal' yet we institutionalized slavery. Because, as the Rev. Fuller would later argue against the abolition of slavery "What God sanctioned in the Old Testament, and permitted in the New, cannot be a sin".

Prager asks "Second, if opposition to same-sex marriage is as immoral as racism, why did no great moral thinker, in all of history, ever advocate male-male or female-female marriage?" This is nothing but an appeal to tradition, as vapid as the SAME appeal to tradition many Christian slavers made "If slavery is immoral, why didn't God or Jesus speak out against it; why has it been around for so long...". These appeals ring empty and false.

If we look back through history we actually find numerous cases of same-sex marriages "thirteen out of the first fourteen Roman Emperors held to be bisexual or exclusively homosexual". It wasn't until after Christianity came into the culture that this practice was outlawed, followed shortly by the fall of Rome (and Gibbon attributes this fall, in part, to the rise of Christianity). So Prager's thesis here fails on the facts.

Prager argues "To argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is immoral is to argue that every moral thinker, and every religion and social movement in the history of mankind prior to the last 20 years in America and Europe was immoral", haven't these societies failed in just about every other way possible anyway? People considered Menarche (a young girl's first period) the proper 'Age of consent' for ages, know we know that this is not an appropriate age and that forcing these young women into sexual intercourse and marriage at young ages does them lifelong emotional damage. Slavery was tolerated and often praised ("oh look at us, we're saving the poor savages from themselves and giving them a proper 'Christian' education". Wars of aggression, deceitful politics, ... how haven't these societies failed? But it's one thing to fail out of our ignorance - the past we know of, the last 6000 years or so - has plainly been a long, painful, slow crawl out of ignorance with many missteps along the way. That's not an excuse to PURPOSEFULLY perpetrate another.

Prager says "the question is whether redefining marriage in the most radical way ever conceived", other people getting married doesn't affect your marriage in the slightest and I think I've shown that this is a plainly false claim because same-sex marriages very clearly existed in our past.

Prager then goes into a slippery slope argument about how there is a war on gender "render meaningless the man-woman distinction". I'm sorry but this is just pathetic.

Goes on to say "those who, for religious or other reasons, wish to retain the man-woman definition of marriage will be legally and morally as isolated as racists are today", utter hogwash. I'm a father of a wonderful son and two guys getting married doesn't affect me in the slightest.

In conclusion Prager repeats himself, "There are reasons no moral thinker in history ever advocated same-sex marriage"... Well, Mr. Prager, the great moral thinkers of our age disagree with you.

So I now ask, is it 'good for society' when bigotry is allowed to define loving relationships for other individuals?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Epistemic Faith

How do we come to beliefs and knowledge? Faith you might say? You have but to look at the list of failed deities and religions to understand that this kind of Faith is a failed methodology. 33,000 sects of Christianity, thousands of religions, thousands of 'gods', gods we find utterly absurd today such as the gods of the water, the moon, the air, and thunder. All were created in a Faith that wasn't based on evidence but on superstitions and presumptions.

So what has worked? Science? No, more fundamental -- removing known sources of factual error, removing known sources of cognitive biases, and removing known sources of illogic from our conclusions. Evidence is the only way we have to distinguish between competing claims. And it must come from our collective efforts - no single individual can know enough or be careful enough, this is the foundation of Peer-review, without which we fail (demonstrably) in the fundamentals of removing error, bias, and illogic.

It is out of these things that science is born. No effort is better for leaving in error, ensuring bias, and applying illogical constructs. Indeed, it would be a self-defeating proposition to assert that it would be.

That's my epistemic foundation. And from that I can tell you about a different kind of Faith, a Faith that demands it be held to the highest possible standards of evidence and scrutiny of methodology. A Faith that has proven itself successful in the advancement of knowledge when it is applied with rigour. A Faith that produces a convergence of belief on the evidence rather than a bifurcation of belief based on imaginary musing. It doesn't promise all answers nor pretend to certainty nor guarantee a false emotional security.

That's the kind of Faith I follow. And from it we have walked, not on water, but on the moon; cured intractable diseases, not by a laying on of hands or a casting of demons into pigs, but by laying on of knowledge about the true underpinning of disease and mental illness (genetics, prions, viruses, bacteria, poisons); and fed the multitudes, not through magical incantations, but by applying our understanding of offspring selection, genetics, and evolution to our food supply.

Disbelief: On homosexuality, heaven, and epistemology

This is based off a forum post where I asked about how a Mother can be happy and tearless in Heaven while her homosexual son (intended just to give an example) is suffering eternally in Hell. I was asked:
Are you claiming there are no (former) homosexuals in heaven?
I'm not making that claim but a vast number of Christians (and especially Catholics) do.

I wouldn't make such claims because I don't believe in a 'heaven' nor a 'hell' nor a 'god' - I used to believe such things because I was inculcated with those beliefs as a child. Then I learned about Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hellenism, Hinduism (esp the case of Sri Sathya Sai Baba), Sikhism, Shinto, Jainism (I really liked that one), Bahá'í, Cao Ðài, Cheondoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca, Rastafari, Scientology, Eckankar, Raëlism. I learned about how divided even just Christians are on hundreds of important theological points (with some 33,000 some-odd sects of just Christianity, thousands of those are very deep divisions). They can't even agree on the Trinity (see Arius, et al.). Yes, you call them Heresy and they call your beliefs Heresy and there is no evidence upon which to decide << this is the fundamental issue.

I learned about history and the role religion often plays in promulgating prejudices -- such as those today against those who don't share your normative sexuality or aren't gender binary; our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, (and many others on the spectrum) fellow human beings who suffer emotional damage, physical violence, and a denial of fair and equal treatment under our laws, all at the hands of the small-minded. All based on ignorance and a fear that appeals to scripture as did Reverend Richard Fuller when he summed up the Christian position on Slavery in 1845: “What God sanctioned in the Old Testament, and permitted in the New, cannot be a sin”.

I read Martin Luther's "On The Jews And Their Lies", I read about the racism, slavery, and violence of the Vatican (and Islam, and many others) and I saw the result that played out as human populations rose, our technology for mass murder advanced but our ability to communicate and to know what was happened lagged behind -- by the end of it, some 200 million people enslaved, slaughtered, their culture destroyed and the 'survivors' emotionally destroyed. Africans and the natives through the islands of the Americas, the Aztec and Mayan people in South America, and the natives of North America. Virtually wiped out, not merely decimated. And it was largely a Christian people who did that, largely under the 'authority' of the Spanish Requerimiento and doctrine of Manifest Destiny.

But let me be clear, I DO NOT BLAME religion, per se, (see link)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Perspective on World Violence

People often wonder where we are and where we are going, are things getting 'better' or 'worse' in the world?

If we look at recent history in the United States we see a very sharp drop in the rate of violent crime, down about 50% from 757.7 per 100,000 in 1992 to 386.3 per 100,000 in 2011. Aside: There are some very good arguments to be made that a component of this drop is credited to an environmental reduction in lead [MJ] [Forbes] [NBER] [AlterNet]

But I think that, even as bad as some places are globally, on the whole the world is a better place today.

First Cause and other Creationist Lies about the Big Bang

It is a common creationist trope to assert that 'something can't come from nothing' and they dishonestly assert the Big Bang is a 'creation' event. [wiki]
The Big Bang is not an explosion of matter moving outward to fill an empty universe. Instead, space itself expands with time everywhere and increases the physical distance between two comoving points.
There are several issues with these claims...

Foremost of the issues is that the Big Bang doesn't even CLAIM to be a creation event (nor an 'explosion'), it is an expansion - often characterized by an Inflationary period that evidence suggests began within those early moments.

The Big Bang theory CANNOT address events prior to about 1 Planck second because we have NO direct or indirect knowledge of that period. So these assertions are just grossly and plainly false.

So I want to be very clear - when creationists make these claims they are 'BEARING FALSE WITNESS'. Furthermore, when they are making these claims publically they have purposefully abandoned their duty of due diligence. In my book this makes you a LIAR. Not merely mistaken, a flat out LIAR. There is no excuse for purposefully misrepresenting science. You Are A Liar. Period.

Now, if you have any Intellectual Honesty (even that of the size of a grain of mustard seed), you will admit your error and work to correct it. If you don't do this then I find you not only a Liar but a Fraud in my book. And if you are stuck at this stage in your intellectual development you might as well stop here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Debunking: Gene duplication doesn't increase the information in DNA

Numerous creationists have made claims along the lines of 'Gene duplication doesn't increase the information in DNA', I would challenge them to show their math.

First, let's begin with some definitions:
  1. Entropy is NOT a measure of 'disorder' (a very common misstatement) but of the dispersal of energy in a system (this dispersal makes it unavailable to do work)
  2. Shannon Entropy quantifies the information content of a message, it is a quantitative measure of the average unpredictability, given by:
    H(X) = -∑ P(x) log₂ [P(x)]
    P(x) probability X is in state x [P log₂ P = 0 where P=0]
    see: Mathematical Foundations of Information Theory, Khinchin
  3. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is composed of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of five-carbon sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds; attached to each sugar is one of four bases: thymine (T), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and adenine (A). A group of three bases, taken together, represent a codon (which map to Amino Acids or control Codons) It is the sequence of these Codons that compose the bulk of the 'informational' content of DNA.
Now let's look at the math.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Tihomir Dimitrov's 'Fifty Nobel Laureates Who Believe in God'

I ran across this website that mentions a self-published "book" called 'Fifty Nobel Laureates Who Believe in God' by Tihomir Dimitrov, which is also available via his website:

This just screams *argument from authority*, so I had to take a look.

First of all, many of the people listed are from hundreds of years ago (or even in the 20th century in some ways) when the Churches promulgated and enforced Christianity at the point of a sword. You couldn't be in a professional position during most of the past two millennia and not profess a belief in a God. You would have been put under tremendous pressure from family and intimidation from the authorities, quite often under threat of torture or a forfeiture of life and property and the destruction of your family. Most of the 'Christian persecution' in Roman times was because Christians refused to accept the 'real' Gods (the Roman Gods), afterall, how could you be a good person and reject the REAL Gods? It seemed to clear to the Romans of the time. And then in the fourth century when Christians rose in power they seemingly forgot this and repeated the error, persecuting the pagans and even other Christians such as Arius and his followers:
"In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offence, he shall be submitted for capital punishment" — Edict by Emperor Constantine
As well as other many other Christian sects such as the Gnostics (various), Marcionites, Manicheans, etc.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gun Rights in the United States

I'm not an expert on Guns or Gun Rights, I have a vast array of other things that consume my attention. But I do have a few considered observations and questions.

  1. US gun rights are derived largely from the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution with the language:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
  2. I stipulate that there is a Natural right to self-defense, but I hold that this must be carried out in the most ethical manner, as we hold in the balance the power to violate the Right to Life (which is certainly the greater Right) of others with this power
  3. I stipulate that this self-defense applies to the people against tyranny of government (not imagined tyranny)
  4. I stipulate that the militia referenced is of the Va. Declaration of Rights §13 (1776), in 7 Thorpe 3812, 3814 (referring to “a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms”)
  5. I stipulate that this right extends to the 'whole people' (one way in which this Right has already evolved, as it used to be only 'men')

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Science says Life begins at conception...

"Science says Life begins at conception..."

No, that isn't what 'science' says. The evidence is that life began ~3.6Gya and that HUMAN life BEGAN about 200,000 years ago.

Since that earliest life there has been a continuous chain of decent of one cell to another generation of cell with constant mutation:

The variable somatic genome

Extensive genetic variation in somatic human tissues

From the above, we see that every cellular descendant is somewhat unique, not just at fertilization. You are merely making an arbitrary special pleading case.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's ON! Another fool makes a specific prediction

Here it is folks:

To which I accepted so mark your calendars! April 9th apparently (I think it started several days ago or this is a case of 'Gospel math').

I just LOVE it when they make specific predictions, they just fail over and over and over - this helps break some people out of their ingrained beliefs and it helps to discredit them in the eyes of the public.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says:
20 “‘However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 21 And in case you should say in your heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” 22 when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak.

Think he'll agree that to that? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA No way, they will NEVER put their money where their mouth is - this is nothing but a 'make me Richer' scheme, and it will undoubtedly serve that TRUE purpose. If this fails will he admit he is a false prophet? Or will he make excuses?

I even go the extra mile:

But, despite my excited state of anticipation, nothing supernatural happened:

Maybe it didn't work because of my typo?

UPDATE: It is now April 12th and absolutely nothing happened. Another failure, another false prophet, another liar, another hypocrite.

Oh, the Irony:

A Challenge for Jehovah's Witnesses

I can't promise this will yield any specific result or outcome but it might be entertaining...

If Jehovah's Witnesses come calling, ask them in and go over a few things with them.

They tend to use their own 'New World Translation' but you can use any version of the Bible, I've taken these quotes out of their own Bible to help avoid arguments about 'translation'.

(1) Ask them if they believe they speak in the name of Jehovah, they should say they do

(2) Read and discuss Matthew 24:3-5,11,24:

3 While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” 4 And in answer Jesus said to them: “Look out that nobody misleads ​YOU; 5 for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
11 And many false prophets will arise and mislead many;
24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.

Confirm that this is saying that misleading people with false information makes one a false prophet.

This is a repeated theme in the Bible, as in Jeremiah 23:25-29:

25 “I have heard what the prophets who are prophesying falsehood in my own name have said, saying, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 26 How long will it exist in the heart of the prophets who are prophesying the falsehood and who are prophets of the trickiness of their own heart? 27 They are thinking of making my people forget my name by means of their dreams that they keep relating each one to the other, just as their fathers forgot my name by means of Ba′al. 28 The prophet with whom there is a dream, let him relate the dream; but the one with whom my own word is, let him speak forth my word truthfully.”

(3) hopefully they have agreed with you about false prophets, how to identify them, and that they claim to speak in the name of Jehovah. If so, then ask them about their religions repeated failed prophesy (see details at linked page) about the end times.

I'm sure they will hem and haw about it... move on

(4) and ask them about Deuteronomy 18:20-22

20 “‘However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 21 And in case you should say in your heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” 22 when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak.

Have the Jehovah's Witnesses not spoken in the name of Jehovah?

Have their predictions not failed to come true?

Are they not then false prophets?

But because you don't believe that nonsense, you refuse to demand their death for simply being wrong because that would be evil!

(5) If you aren't bored yet ask them about 1 Kings 18 and ask if they can provide you with such a demonstration that THEIR claimed god is real.

If they protest that you can't "test god" quote E‧li′jah from section [27] and say: “Call at the top of ​YOUR​ voice, for he is a god; for he must be concerned with a matter, and he has excrement and has to go to the privy. Or maybe he is asleep and ought to wake up!”

Point out that excuses weren't accepted on behalf of other gods and the consequence was (according to the Bible) the mass murder of hundreds of priests.

1 Kings 18:40 Then E‧li′jah said to them: “Seize the prophets of Ba′al! Do not let a single one of them escape!” At once they seized them, and E‧li′jah then brought them down to the torrent valley of Ki′shon and slaughtered them there.

Ask them if that seems a fair punishment for people who claim speak for a god that refuses to set bull meat on fire when prayed to?

Demand an answer to that and they will have to say that it was God's will and so it was right and just, and then point out what hypocrisy it is to refuse to be held to the same standard you're religion claims it has held others to.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Identifying the Problem: Prejudices

I wanted a checklist to look over periodically to check my cultural biases, so I'm making a list (and you can help me check it twice).

What is a prejudice?

A prejudice is a preconceived opinion which is not based on reason or experience. All prejudices are based on errors of fact and/or logic. If a property of some class is valid and the consequent is sound and it doesn't make or imply a value judgement based on these properties, then it isn't a prejudice.

This is NOT ranked or ordered, but here are some of the predominate types of prejudice I was able to identify. Please feel free to point out more in comments!
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Gender-identity, sexuality, intersex (including LGBTQ*)
  • Religious discrimination (including against those who choose not to have a religion (especially in the military) and minority religions)
  • Ableism (discrimination against the disabled)
  • Mental Illness / Neurotypicalism (multifaceted)
  • Intelligence (people across the spectrum suffer discrimination & bullying)
  • Appearance (height, weight, looks, dress)
  • Linguistic discrimination
  • Ageism
  • Classism/socioeconomic discrimination
  • Nationalism
  • Rape, Abuse, & Violence stigma
  • Political discrimination
  • Discrimination against former felons
  • Prohibitionist prejudices (assuming that all people who wish to explore altered states of consciousness are 'drug fiends', etc)