Link blog: rhetoric, catholicism, argument, christianity

Homeless Gay Teens Cast Out by Religious Families | Rolling Stone
Scary and sad.
(tags: religion homosexuality homelessness youth christianity catholicism)
How to Justify Any Policy, No Matter How Bad It Might Be
A bit like Jim Hacker’s tips on dealing with the press.
(tags: politics rhetoric argument)

Link blog: horror, lovecraft, wiki, markdown

Why The Daily Mail is Evil (at The @PodDelusion’s 3rd birthday do) by Martin Robbins – YouTube
Yes, it’s doing the rounds, but it’s still good.
(tags: paper mail journalism daily-mail newspaper)
The SCP Foundation
Descriptions of strange and horrifying objects being held by a secret organisation. If you liked Stross’s Laundry stuff, you might like this. Time sink warning, there are lots of them. Looks like it’s a collaboration using a wiki.
(tags: lovecraft sci-fi wiki science-fiction horror)
Windows 95 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks
Lovecraftian Windows 95 dialogs: “It’s never safe to turn off your computer.”
(tags: computers horror lovecraft win95 funny windows)
Is Irish Law to blame for the death of Savita?
“In December 2010, the Irish government was told by the European Court of Human Rights to deal with exactly this kind of situation, either by making legislative changes or by issuing clear guidelines which acted to remove any and all ambiguities surround the question of when doctors are required to carry out terminations in order to save women’s lives.

To date, it has done nothing, largely, it seems, because Ireland’s anti-abortion lobby, and the Roman Catholic Church (naturally) have spent the last two years or so trying to shout down any notion that an abortion may be necessary to save a woman’s life in any circumstances.

What this sad case proves, definitively, is that they are lying and the real tragedy here is not just that a woman has died because they were lying but that woman has had to die, unnecessarily and in excruciating pain, to prove them wrong.”
(tags: medicine religion catholicism ireland law abortion)
Pelican Development Blog
Pelican is a Python static blog generator which works with Markdown. Looks nice. There’s also Calepin.co, which is a service that’ll publish your blog if you stick it in your Dropbox. Will I finally leave LJ? Maybe…
(tags: markdown software blog python)

Link blog: philosophy, epistemology, good, catholic

What Thomas Kuhn Really Thought about Scientific “Truth” | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network
“To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Structure, I’m posting an edited version of my write-up of Kuhn in The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996), which draws heavily on my meeting with him. I hope that this profile—which is longer and more critical of Kuhn than “Reluctant Revolutionary,” my May 1991 profile for Scientific American—provides insights into the complicated views of this complicated man.”
(tags: epistemology paradigm science Kuhn philosophy)
On God As The Source Of Being But Not Of Evil | Camels With Hammers
“Very often we atheists are dismissed as ignorant of serious theology and theistic metaphysics or as picking on theologically unsophisticated versions of Christianity because it’s simply an easier target than trying to refute the more profound religious philosophers. In what follows, I will cut to the core of what traditional Roman Catholicism since Thomas Aquinas genuinely thinks is going on philosophically, and not merely metaphorically, when they talk about God’s goodness.”
(tags: theodicy metaethics evil good catholicism catholic philosophy thomist aquinas)

True Christians, New Christians and Crocoducks

Bring on the crocoducks

Remember Ray Comfort, of Crocoduck fame? Tony Miano, Comfort’s vicar on Earth, made a blog posting in which he argued that the Clergy Project (which tries to help ministers of religion who’ve become closet atheists) was doing the church a favour by ridding it of people who were never Christians in the first place. He also mentioned that atheists know there’s a God really (see previous discussion).

This attracted the attention of the Dawkins massive, mainly because they thought it was written by their arch-enemy Comfort himself, so it got quite a few comments. There was some good stuff. An ex-Christian called The Skeptical Magician had a go at beating the fundies at their own game, arguing from the Bible that he was a real Christian (someone who believes Jesus was the Son of God who rose from the dead) who changed his mind. I stuck my oar in, pointing out that if Miano is right, we can’t know someone’s a Christian until they die. Is Tony Miano a Christian? Well, we’ll have to wait and see, by his definition.

Had the Magician merely said that he was a believer, the first responses from Christians would have been “it’s easy to say you’re a believer, but that doesn’t make you one”. So he gave examples of doing things he would likely do only if he were truly a believer (faith without deeds being dead, as James tells us). He got replies telling him that his faith had been all about “doing” rather than “believing”, therefore his actions were evidence against him being a believer. This is cheating of the “heads I win/tails you lose” sort, as any Bayesian could tell you.

Some presuppositionalists commented, including my old mate the Internet-famous Sye Ten Bruggencate, who invented the Proof That God Exists (Danger! Atheists, don’t click that link!) Presuppositionalists start out sounding as if they might be fun, in a “late night conversation with philosophy students” sort of way: they like to ask for “accounts” of stuff that most people take, if not as a brute fact, then as a reasonable starting point (the evidence of our senses, memory, logic, belief in the sun rising tomorrow and so on). This might lead to an interesting philosophical discussion, but they spoil it all by applying radical scepticism to all views other than their own, which is cheating. If you read their literature, the reason for this is that they’re not interested in a discussion where both parties might modify their views, they just want to force their opponent “below the line of despair” so they’ll turn to Christianity. It’s fun to ask what an “account” would have to look like to satisfy them, and how they “account” for God’s unchangeable nature. They don’t answer, of course, but the point of intervening in such discussions is to defend the philosophically naive marks who’ve never run into Hume and Descartes before, not to change the presuppers’ minds.

But! I’ve never been one of them

Leah Libresco, an atheist blogger who originally started her Unequally Yoked blog when she was going out with Catholic, announced she’d converted to Catholicism because she’d realised that Morality is a Person who loves her. Camels with Hammers did a good summary of ways atheists responded, noting that the best response was probably to point out that she seemed to have missed a few steps in her argument, rather than accusing her of being off her medication.

squid314 wondered about local maximas in belief-space (which is mathematician speak for wondering whether the steps he’d have to take to get Catholicism individually made his new view seem less likely than before, even if once you get there Catholicism is actually more likely than the Official Bayesian Conspiracy Worldview). He noted that he knew quite a few clever people who’d become Catholic, so maybe it was worth looking into. He reported back on his investigation of the Catholic blogsphere in an amusing fashion, which makes me think he’s safe, for now.

A friend of Libresco’s started a thread on Less Wrong’s discussion board on how to thwart the conversion. Someone there was prepared to predict that the conversion won’t stick, as it’s based on metaphysics rather than the unpleasant reality of the Catholic church (Libresco is already wobbling a bit on the issue of homosexuality). We’ll see: I don’t know her well enough to want to bet on it.

I made a few comments on Libresco’s blog: on the Euthyphro Dilemma (ended up going in circles as usual, gave up); pointing out that the Catholic orthodoxy is that God is not morally good (he’s ontologically good, see Camels with Hammers again), making him a poor choice for a virtue ethicist like Leah; and dealing with the usual bad arguments about science.

Link blog: science, censorship, media, magic

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: Science/religion compatibility yet again

Another round of the accommodationism debates: "Viewed historically, religion needs to thin out its epistemic content, or to introduce notions of the capricious way supernatural beings act, or to adopt intellectually unacceptable ad hoc tactics of various kinds, in order to maintain a formal compatibility with the scientific picture of the world; the advance of science pushes God into smaller gaps; and some religious views are plainly inconsistent with robust scientific findings. All this reflects a general mismatch between the scientific approach to the world and the religious approach, which follows from (1) the fact that they use different methods for discovering the truth and (2) the methods of science do not, historically and contingently, reach the same conclusions as previously reached by religion."
(tags: religion science russell-blackford philosophy)

You Are Not So Smart

Blog recommendation. Journalist David McRaney writes about cognitive biases and whatnot in a straightforward and funny way.
(tags: psychology science blog cognition cognitive-bias rationality)

Penn Jillette Is Willing to Be a Guest on Adolf Hitler’s Talk Show | Little Gold Men | Vanity Fair

Penn on why he went on Glenn Beck's show, among other things. Hugely quotable: "Well remember, the Catholic League is just one divorced guy in his garage. Or as Teller and I like to say, the Catholic League and his wife. I love that it's called hate speech when you have the audacity to suggest that pederasty and child rape might not be a good idea."
(tags: religion penn-jillette magic media catholicism islamism islam censorship)

Reluctance to Let Go | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

Sean Carroll's last post before taking a break from blogging: "Instead of taking the natural world seriously, we have discussions about “Faith.” We pretend that questions of meaning and purpose and value must be the domain of religion. We are saddled with bizarre, antiquated attitudes toward sex and love, which have terrible consequences for real human beings.
I understand the reluctance to let go of religion as the lens through which we view questions of meaning and morality. For thousands of years it was the best we could do; it provided social structures and a framework for thinking about our place in the world. But that framework turns out not to be right, and it’s time to move on."
(tags: science religion accomodationism atheism)

Link blog: politics, philosophy, pope, jesus

LibCon – Media » Guess the newspaper editor most annoyed with Libdem surge?

The Heil hates the Lib Dems: Clegg must be doing something right.
(tags: politics uk daily-mail newspaper tabloid liberal-democrats libdems election)

Evangelicals and the death of Antony Flew

"Unfortunately, it’s impossible to think about Flew without thinking about the protracted fiasco of the last decade of his life, when certain Evangelical Christians tried to turn him into a tool of religious propaganda, and his death has brought with it reminders that some haven’t given up."
(tags: antony-flew flew atheism philosophy dementia aging religion evangelicalism roy-varghese deism)

‘tarians

springheel_jack on what's wrong with libertarianism, and what "freedom" entails.
(tags: freedom libertarianism politics philosophy isaiah-berlin)

YouTube – Axis of Awesome – What Would Jesus Do?

A valid theological point.
(tags: funny songs youtube video axis-of-awesome jesus wwjd)

The Foreign Office’s sick attack on the Pope: what did you expect? – Telegraph Blogs

The FO's "brainstorming" session on the ideal Papal visit ("Launch of Benedict condoms") got leaked to the Torygraph. Damain Thompson's always good for a laugh, and he doesn't disappoint here. "the Catholic hierarchy is furious, accusing the FO of “disrespecting” the Pope" The Pope gonna bust a cap in yo' ass, a spokesbishop said today. "NOW do you finally understand what sort of snide, cheap and ignorant prejudice has flourished under this Government and its civil servants – wall-to-wall secularists for whom the Roman Catholic Church is at best an antiquated irrelevance and at worst a sick joke?" I think there's unwarranted assumption here, no?
(tags: catholic catholicism religion pope ratzinger lolxians telegraph damian-thompson)

Link blog: sex, funny, christianity, atheism

The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality :: Desiring God

Well known complementarian John Piper explains how God sent a tornado to break the spire of a Lutheran church as a "a gentle but firm" reminder that gay sex is bad. Via a more sensible Christian on Unreasonable Faith.
(tags: church homosexuality sin bible christianity reformed sex gay piper lutheran lolxians)

Boring men?

In response to a Metafilter posting linking to an article about how all men are boring, Mefi user Pastabagel shares their idea of what it would be like if men responded to women asking what was on their minds.
(tags: funny metafilter relationships sex women boring)

Apophatic atheology: an April apologetic

"A great deal of needless offence and rancour, it seems to me, is caused by the unfortunate tendency of certain believers to take the speeches and books of atheism literally."
(tags: religion atheism apophatic funny parody ken-macleod)

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Was Skeptical Philosopher David Hume an Atheist?

Some interesting quotes from Hume scholars. Comes from a blog evangelising for Catholicism, so may be strongly filtered evidence, but worth a read, in any case.
(tags: philosophy hume atheism david-hume agnosticism deism religion scepticism)

Nothing New Under The Sun – The biggest problem imo with organized religion

is that it validates the very human impulse to think that we can "make up" for things – rewrite the past, undo what we have done, magic away the reality with something else – that we can fix our misdeeds and harms done by harming ourselves in some way.
(tags: religion atonement psychology morality)

Ireland Archbishop stunned by Dr Rowan Williams’ criticism of Catholic Church -Times Online

"The Archbishop of Dublin today said he was "stunned" to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury declare that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has lost all credibility because of the child abuse scandal." Rowan's peeved at the poaching Pope (and sensibly looking to put some distance between the two churches, by the looks of it).
(tags: catholicism catholic rowan-williams anglican anglicanism religion christianity ireland children abuse)

Link blog: religion, lolxians, homosexuality, funny

YouTube – Charlie Brooker – How To Report The News

Every news report you've ever seen.
(tags: news video funny journalism parody bbc media charlie-brooker)

The Devil Rides Out | Features | Fortean Times

Dennis Wheatley: "virtually invented the popular image of Satanism in 20th-century Britain, and he made it seem strangely seductive. If the appeal of Black Magic in popular culture was ultimately erotic, then this was largely due to Wheatley’s writing, with its reliable prospect of virg­ins being ritually ravished on altar tops." Via Metafilter
(tags: satan satanism occult magic dennis-wheatley devil fortean-times)

Tales of a Wayward Classicist: Latin Tattoos

Latin tattoos gone wrong. Probably SFW, shows a lot of skin (obviously) but no rude bits. Via Stoat.
(tags: tattoo funny latin language)

Luke on reformed epistemology and moral realism : The Uncredible Hallq

Nice: "A better response to Plantinga is just to point out that belief in the Christian God isn’t very much at all like most of the common-sense beliefs commonly cited as threatened by Descartes & Hume-style skepticism (like belief in the reliability of our senses), but is an awful lot like beliefs most Christians wouldn’t accept without evidence–namely, the beliefs of other religions."
(tags: philosophy plantinga hume descartes alvin-plantinga epistemology religion reformed)

Signature in the Cell | The BioLogos Foundation

Darrel Falk, a Christian and a professor of biology, finds problems with the science in Stephen Mayer's "The Signature in the Cell". Via Jerry Coyne.
(tags: evolution intelligent-design science religion creationism dna rna stephen-meyer darrel-falk biology discovery-institute)

The ex-gay files: The bizarre world of gay-to-straight conversion – This Britain, UK – The Independent

Indy journalist goes undercover to Christian counsellors who try to cure him of Teh Gay. Apparently, gayness can be caused by Freemasonry: who knew?
(tags: psychology uk homosexuality quacks lolxians religion)

Harriet Harman defends equality legislation following Pope’s criticism – Home News, UK – The Independent

No pot pourri, as Ian Paisley would say.
(tags: pope catholicism catholic bigot homosexuality religion lolxians)

Link blog: richard-dawkins, science, funny, psychology

Give us your misogynists and bigots

Dawkins on the Poaching Pope. "Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity." How strident!
(tags: richard-dawkins catholicism religion christianity anglicanism pope)

Triple negatives and Conservapedia’s support for Hitler « Gowers’s Weblog

Gowers shows that Conservapedia's article on Richard Dawkins proves that Conservapedia is evil, using MATHS.
(tags: funny mathematics maths conservapedia richard-dawkins morality)

Out of LSD? Just 15 Minutes of Sensory Deprivation Triggers Hallucinations

Interesting stuff. Reminded me of Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World", where he talks about how common hallucinations are.
(tags: psychology science hallucinations wired brain neuroscience)

Pope still Catholic

Jessel, the Tri-felge Putenard, is the subject of part IV of my Bishops Gone Wild series. This means the bishops of the Catholic Church and the Church of England are now neck and neck after a promising start by the C of E: come on Anglicans, put your backs into it!

Jessel was reported as saying that saving humanity from gayness was as important as saving the rain forests. There’s no official English translation of his remarks, but a comment on Ruth Gledhill’s blog provides a translation from a papal fan-site (yes, really), and the BBC has translated some extracts.

Various postings here on LJ have been saying the media have got the wrong end of the stick, and that the speech didn’t mention gays at all. However, Reuters reports that the term “gender” in Italian is “a broad term that includes anyone who doesn’t identify entirely with their assigned sex and can include homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals and others.” Anyone out there know some Italian?

The rest of the talk about sex in the speech sounds like the usual natural law stuff. Humanae Vitae gets a mention, so you can read that if you want to see an example of the reasoning here, such as it is.

What with this stuff and all that substance/accidents transubstantiation stuff, the church does seem rather wedded to Aquinas and his scholastic friends (although transubstantiation is also What the Bible Says). I hope for some sort of slow reform, whereby they’d gradually change to using more modern incorrect physics: perhaps there’s mileage in the idea that prayers are transmitted via the luminiferous aether because God is the Absolute. Or something. I’m hoping to work phlogiston in there too.

andrewducker says that we shouldn’t be surprised when theists say the funniest things. Perhaps not, but inasmuch as the Pope has some influence on people’s lives, he deserves the storm he’s called up.