Link blog: video, humour, youtube, hardware

A Turing Machine Overview

Someone has built this excellent mechanical Turing machine (OK, so it has electronics in the read/write head, but it's got real tape).
(tags: computers hardware programming software turing video algorithm history logic compsci)

YouTube – The Daily Mail Song

Shooting fish in a barrel,but still funny.
(tags: video music youtube funny satire humour mail news newspapers daily-mail dan)

The Other Journal at Mars Hill Graduate School :: Worshipping a Flying Teapot? What to Do When Christianity Looks Ridiculous by Randal Rauser

"Restoring Christianity's place as a live intellectual option requires not simply superior rational argumentation, but the restoration of a background framework in which Christian claims seem minimally plausible." One of the few worthwhile articles in The Other Journal's edition on atheism (the others being either Vogon poetry or articles about that nasty Dawkins fellow).
(tags: religion christianity atheism teapot)

11 Comments on "Link blog: video, humour, youtube, hardware"

  1. Subject: The Other Journal
    ‘The atheist debater (Nigel Warburton) was a witty fellow who had the audience in his pocket as he made disparaging comments about God and religion. Indeed, I was taken aback by the deep level of hostility and derision toward Christianity, and theism generally, within the audience.’

    I bet some of them were even quoting the Bible and pointing out what Christians believe.

    No wonder people deride Christianity. Some of them are so hostile , they even try to find out what Christians believe and then pass on their findings to other people.

    Mormons get similar levels of hostility directed against them. There are even people who research what goes on in Mormon Temple worship and then tell other people what happens. No wonder Mormons are so derided!


    1. Subject: Re: The Other Journal

      This has some of Nigel Warburton’s disparaging comments about God and religion. ‘Proving God’s (or anything’s) non-existence would have been much tougher’

      The guy even quotes David Hume! How hostile are you against Christianity if you go as far as to read philosophy books. First you read philosophy books,then you claim that it is tough to prove God’s non-existence, then you burn churches. It is a slippery slope….


  2. Not surprisingly, the new atheists frequently raise the logical problem of evil, while apparently unaware that Alvin Plantinga’s free will argument definitively answered this problem thirty years ago.

    A strange way of spelling “while apparently not finding Plantinga’s answer as convincing as I did”.


    1. I think it’s true that most philosophers have given up on the logical problem of evil in the face of Plantinga’s transworld depravity argument (though I think I saw some references to some people still plugging away recently). Still, there’s the evidential argument, and Paul Draper’s extension of Hume’s argument that it’s always going to look more likely that any creator is indifferent to us than that they care about our well-being.


      1. There’s a nice remark in one of David Lewis’s papers, along the following lines: Yes, Plantinga may have demonstrated that it is logically possible that a perfectly good God is in charge of this universe full of suffering and evil. But why go to so much trouble? If that’s all he wants to do, he could simply say that God, in his great generosity, has distributed a variety of good things to his creatures: some he has blessed with happiness, intelligence, and friendship; others he has blessed with pain, despair, disease, and hatred.

        For my part, I am not convinced that Plantinga has done even that much. His argument only works if you make a number of controversial metaphysical assumptions (e.g., that necessity and possibility are to be understood in terms of possible worlds, with a robust notion of transworld identity). I think the most he’s done is to show that it’s epistemically possible that it’s logically possible that God and evil coexist. Which is such a spectacularly weak claim that I don’t really see why anyone should be interested in it. In particular, I think just saying “well, maybe there’s some reason why God couldn’t have made the world any better” is every bit as strong a “defence” as Plantinga’s version of the FWD. But of course the latter takes up several pages, uses modal logic, and includes scientotheological terms like “transworld depravity”, which clearly makes it much more Serious.

        Incidentally, in defence of the claim that the “new atheists frequently raise the logical problem of evil” (which I doubt; Dawkins says in so many words that he doesn’t think evil is a problem for theism; Dennett IIRC doesn’t say a word about any version of the PoE in his “Breaking the spell”) Rauser offers only a reference to Harris’s very short “Letter to a Christian nation” in which Harris’s comments are so terse that I do not believe it possible to tell for sure whether he is offering a “logical” or an “evidential” version of the PoE.


        1. Presumably, though, there’s something about a FWD which takes up several pages and uses modal logic which philosophers take to be more convincing than the simple statement that “well, maybe there’s some reason why God couldn’t have made the world any better”.


          1. Apparently so, but I’m having trouble working out what it is if I’m not allowed cynical hypotheses like “it’s more complicated”, “it’s published by an eminent philosopher”, etc. I am inclined to think that the cynical hypotheses are the real explanation.

            In any case, I think the common story — everyone thought that the logical problem of evil was fatal for theism until Plantinga came along and showed that it wasn’t — is wrong. I think hardly anyone thought that the logical problem of evil was fatal until Mackie’s “Evil and Omnipotence” in 1955 (NB. one must distinguish omnipotence from omnomnompotence, the power of eating all things), after which a few people thought that maybe it had been resurrected convincingly enough to be worth attention until 1974 or whenever it was that Plantinga published his version of the free-will defence, enabling some of those people to resume their dogmatic slumbers. But I haven’t done the sort of examination of the literature that it would take to determine what *actually* happened, so take the above with a grain of salt.


      2. Ah, perhaps I misread. I hadn’t encountered the idea of distinct logical and evidential PoE before; I presume the terminology is there to separate “good-omni-God and evil are totally logically inconsistent with one another” from “OK, perhaps it’s not completely impossible that they might coexist, but it doesn’t look like the way to bet”?


        1. Planting is alleged to have found one logically possible world where God an evil can co-exist (if you don’t look too closely at his argument)

          Sadly though, Plantinga claims his God exists in ALL logically possible worlds, no matter how much evil they contain.

          So the logical problem of evil screws up his god until Plantinga can prove that God can exist in EVERY logically possible world where evil exists.


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