link blog

Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock? – life – 19 October 2009 – New Scientist

Of course not, God did it. Still, it's a fascinating theory, and a well written article from New Scientist.
(tags: evolution life science dna research biology ocean bacteria abiogenesis)

Zelazny, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”

Zelazny's classic short story.
(tags: roger-zelazny ecclesiastes SF scifi mars)

The death of death… « The Saint Barnabas’ Blog

The blog entry of the Anglican priest and goodwill diplomat who's been railing against secular funerals and Tina Turner songs at religious ones, who found himself reported on in the Torygraph and Daily Fail. Choice quote: "Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection." Well, Christians certainly have the *hope* of resurrection, I suppose. And we can all agree that Tina Turner is a bad thing.
(tags: religion death funeral christianity anglicanism secularism)

Overcoming Bias as it Suits Us

When Eliezer met the feminists: an old thread on mswyrr's LJ which got started when Robin Hanson wondered why the Overcoming Bias community was so male. It's an interesting precursor to the Pickup Artist debates over on Less Wrong.
(tags: feminism cognitive-bias overcoming-bias eliezer-yudkowsky robin-hanson)

Atheism, Reason, and Morality: Responding to Some Popular Christian Apologetics

D Gene Witmer on how best to response to Christian presuppositionalists. I ran into one of them online recently, which was fun.
(tags: religion presuppositionalism apologetics christianity philosophy rationality logic induction morality system:filetype:pdf system:media:document)

God is not the Creator, claims academic

In a sense, this isn't news: a lot of the religions that were contemporaries of Judaism had a creation story involving gods making order out of chaos rather than creating the universe from nothing, though I'd previously read that this was referred to in the Bible more obliquely than the this new theory suggests (e.g. water + Leviathan symbolises chaos in Psalm 74). If this idea catches on, it'll be interesting to see the new ideas the Abrahamic religions come up with to harmonise this with science 🙂
(tags: religion bible history christianity creationism creation god chaos)

Plantinga: Religious Beilef as Properly Basic

A nice introduction to Plantinga's ideas. I've not read his books, so I don't know how accurately they're summarised, but it seems to fit with what I've read elsewhere.
(tags: belief philosophy plantinga epistemology christianity religion alvin-plantinga)

PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness

Peter Watts talks about a paper which claims consciousness arose out of the need to chose between conflicting motor impulses.
(tags: consciousness science scifi sci-fi peter-watts)

Demon ready to kill in city church

Magus Shadee (Wiz 5, Necromatic) apparently cast Summon Monster in the big Catholic church in Cambridge. Local clerics of Papem, god of guilt about sex, say they'll summon the City Watch, though it's not clear what they'd do about it. I'd've thought the clerics would be better off casting some defensive spells of their own.
(tags: woo-woo christianity cambridge occult paganism witchcraft)

As promised, the link blog stuff is now working. It’s pulling links and descriptions from my Delicious bookmarks and posting them to LJ in batches of 10 or more, or when there’s stuff to be posted and nothing’s been posted for 4 days. Let me know if it becomes annoying.

Here comes the science

It turns out there’s a PHP script called Delicious Glue to do this, but that would involve using PHP, so no (gateway drug: next thing you know, you’ll be using Perl). It looks like that script also doesn’t cope with the brave new world of Unicode terribly well, doesn’t tag the LJ post using the tags from Delicious, and doesn’t support the elaborate posting scheme described in the previous paragraph. Also, it wasn’t invented here.

So I did it in Python. Mark Pilgrim’s excellent Universal Feed Parser module does much of the heavy lifting. Posting to LJ using XML RPC turns out to be surprisingly easy using the built-in xmlrpclib. Most of the faff comes in getting it to persist state between runs of the script, which I’m doing using pickle. Here’s the code: you’d need to be a programmer to adapt it for your own use, but if you are, it shouldn’t be hard. I’ll probably run it daily using cron.

What Is Evil For The Darwinist, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan posts some well-reasoned letters from readers on the question of what a non-theist would call "evil" (presumably responses to the old "how can you say God is evil when you don't have a basis for morality?" question). Bizarrely, he then describes them as showing "contempt" for religion. There's no pleasing some people. The letters are good, anyway.

seek and ye shall find…. but what?

“If you REALLY had been a Christian you would have never de-converted.” vs the observation that many de-converts are former Christian ministers.
(tags: de-conversion religion christianity)

Buddhism and the God-idea

Interesting. I liked: "Whether we call those superior beings gods, deities, devas or angels is of little importance, since it is improbable that they call themselves by any of those names."
(tags: buddhism god religion)

Why it’s so hard to quantify false rape charges. – By Emily Bazelon and Rachael Larimore – Slate Magazine

False accusations probably account for 8 to 10% of all accusations, though the research isn't conclusive, and it's not clear how this compares to false reporting of other crimes. Interesting story about the falsely accused man who found support from his girlfriend who had been raped some time ago: emotions were similar on both sides.
(tags: feminism research rape crime)

Justice with Michael Sandel – Home

Harvard has put Michael Sandel's justly popular "Justice" course on the web. Well worth watching.
(tags: education philosophy morality ethics video community politics harvard justice)

Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermaneutics

Susan Wise Bauer in Christianity Today, writing about Peter Enns, who noticed that the NT authors don't interpret the OT the way evangelicals would. I liked this bit: "This is the exactly the kind of exegesis that terrifies most evangelicals. The man who admits that meanings can be "read into" Scripture stands on the fabled slippery slope, right above a sheer drop-off, while below him churns a sea of relativism, upon which floats only a single overloaded lifeboat, captained by a radical feminist gay & lesbian & transgender activist who is very anxious to make the final decision about who gets pitched overboard."
(tags: bible hermaneutics peter-enns christianity religion paul old-testament)

What’s so great about being an ex-Christian? Intellectual integrity.

This sounds familiar.
(tags: ex-christian de-conversion atheism christianity religion)

Omnipresent G-d (LORD_YHWH) on Twitter

God's on Twitter, with some new commandments. I don't know why these atheists complain about divine hiddeness. "My word is a knife made white by heat, such as that which one uses to cut pastrami." – wisdom for us all there.
(tags: god yhwh religion funny satire christianity judaism twitter)

Science, Pseudoscience and Bollocks

An interesting essay which talks about the demarcation problem in science and argues that we should be against creation science because it's wrong, not try to argue about what science is. I'm shocked he referred to a Christian belief as "bollocks". I got told off for that once.
(tags: bollocks science pseudoscience epistemology empiricism logical-positivism karl-popper popper creationism dover)

Thunderbirds will grow a generation of mad engineers

FAB, Mr Ellis.
(tags: warren-ellis thunderbirds tv)

On The Possible God Of Philosophy And Cosmology Vs. The Personal, Historical God Of Faith

Camels With Hammers links to Dennett's remarks on hearing William Lane Craig's cosmological argument, and then talks about the gap between the source of the universe (which we should properly be agnostic about) and the gods of major religions.
(tags: daniel-dennett dennett william-lane-craig craig cosmology kalam philosophy physics)

Rock-Bottom Loser Entertaining Offers From Several Religions | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Cruel but funny
(tags: onion religion funny satire humour)

“A Different Way of Knowing”: The Uses of Irrationality… and its Limitations

Greta Christina talks about "other ways of knowing" and their uses, as applied to the theism/atheism debate.
(tags: religion epistemology science atheism greta-christina empiricism)

Understanding Sarah Palin: Or, God Is In The Wattles

Peter Watts gives his grand theory for why religion hasn't died out. It's all about preventing free-loading once societies get above a certain size.
(tags: peter-watts religion evolution sarah-palin politics psychology signalling)

Whence Rationality?

Some responses to the evolutionary argument against naturalism. The point that evolution is unlikely to come up with the sort of elaborate errors Plantinga mentions is new to me.