Link blog: science, relationships, epistemology, biology

Hegemonic Heterosexuality
“hegemonic heterosexuality is the vast cultural conspiracy to describe all heterosexual relationships as the unending war between stupid people and crazy people.” Good observation of the view of the world promoted by TV and film. Via auntysarah.
(tags: psychology relationships sex)
The Apologist’s Turnstile
“the idea that no particular level of knowledge is needed to assent to a religion, but an impossibly, unattainably high level of knowledge and expertise is needed to deny it. In the minds of many believers, the entrance to their religion is like a subway turnstile: a barrier that only allows people to pass through in one direction.”
(tags: apologist epistemology religion atheism)
Cancer is just as deadly as it was 50 years ago. Here’s why that’s about to change.
“We spoke to cancer experts to find out why the death rate from cancer hasn’t changed in the past 50 years — and we learned how genetic therapies could transform cancer treatments tomorrow.”
(tags: medicine biology science genetics cancer)
How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism – Maarten Boudry
“In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science. (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative.”
(tags: creationism intelligent-design religion science naturalism philosophy)

Link blog: youtube, video, funny, flying

GodBlock – Protect your children

"GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions." Via Metafilter
(tags: religion atheism software censorship children web internet god funny parody filter)

Johann Hari: Did the media help to pull the trigger? – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

"Every time there is a massacre by a mentally ill person, like Derrick Bird's last month, journalists are warned by psychologists that, if we are not very careful in our reporting, we will spur copycat attacks by more mentally ill people. We ignored their warnings. We reported the case in precisely the way they said was most risky. Are we now seeing the result?"
(tags: murder psychology crime ethics guns journalism media violence uk suicide)

The Turn – 93.12

"At the very heart of winged flight lies the banked turn, a procedure that by now seems so routine and familiar that airline passengers appreciate neither its elegance and mystery nor its dangerously delusive character. The author, a pilot, takes us up into the subject"
(tags: flight history aviation flying banking physics)

YouTube – N559DW full flight with radar overlay – Doug White King Air landing HD

Via realinterrobang: passenger with a PPL for single engined light aircraft lands something a bit bigger when his pilot dies. Video of the radar with audio from the radio.
(tags: aviation flying pilot air-traffic-control emergency radar)

FIREFLY: The Credits Sequence It Deserved!

io9.com gives Joss Whedon's "Firefly' an 80s style intro sequence. Still not as good as Airwolf's, but a good effort.
(tags: video funny youtube television firefly intro)

YouTube – Carl Sagan: A Universe Not Made For Us

"Excerpts from Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. More specifically, from the chapter titled A Universe Not Made For Us. I edited together the audio from the audio-book, and added the video from Stephen Hawking's Into the Universe and Brian Cox's Wonders of the Solar System. The music is Jack's Theme from the Lost soundtrack."
(tags: cosmology astronomy sagan science evolution universe video youtube religion creationism)

Moral Realism in the Bible?

"Most theologians seem to think the Hebrew Bible presupposes a subjective theory of ethics that grounds right and wrong in the nature or attitudes of a person, Yahweh. This is called divine command theory. Bible scholar Jaco Gericke has proposed an alternate view: that some passages of the Bible presuppose objective moral realism, such that right and wrong are grounded in something beyond the attitudes of a person or persons. Under such a view, Yahweh might sometimes be wrong."
(tags: bible morality philosophy religion christianity)

Link blog: funny, science, templeton, culture

Plato’s Man Cave

Shadows on the wall, plus 52" plasma TV.
(tags: plato cave philosophy funny parody)

Why Sex and the City 2 is a science fiction movie

I LOL'd.
(tags: movies review funny future sf scifi sci-fi science-fiction)

Decoding God’s Changing Moods – TIME

You'd think the Abrahamic God would make up his mind — Can he live with other gods or not? What's with the random mood fluctuations?
But the fluctuations aren't really random. If you juxtapose the Abrahamic Scriptures with what scholars have learned about the circumstances surrounding their creation, a pattern appears.
(tags: religion islam history christianity god culture)

God, Science and Philanthropy | The Nation

An interesting article on the history of the Templeton Foundation, the controversial foundation which provides grants to scientists interested in "the Big Questions".
(tags: templeton dawkins richard-dawkins science religion intelligent-design)

Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth – opinion – 19 May 2010 – New Scientist

"…denialism, the systematic rejection of a body of science in favour of make-believe. There's a lot of it about, attacking evolution, global warming, tobacco research, HIV, vaccines – and now, it seems, flu. But why does it happen? What motivates people to retreat from the real world into denial?"
(tags: climate conspiracy creationism epistemology politics psychology religion science denialism denial)

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: funny, religion, atheism, stephen-meyer

Why It’s So Tricky for Atheists to Debate with Believers | Belief | AlterNet

Greta Christina lists some "heads I win, tails you lose" arguments against atheism: not criticising serious theologians, fatwa envy ("you wouldn't say that to Muslims"), "atheism is a religion" and so on.
(tags: religion atheism argument debate abiogenesis greta-christina)

Airbrushed for change – MyDavidCameron.com

Remixed Tory campaign posters. I like Hoodie Cameron.
(tags: politics funny uk government election david-cameron conservatives tory)

Stephen Meyer’s Bogus Information Theory

Criticism of Stephen Meyer's "The Signature in the Cell" based on Meyer's mistakes in information theory (or rather, the way he uses a made up definition of "information"). HT to Leonard Richardson, who rightly says it's a good introduction to what "information" does mean, regardless of what you think of Meyer's book.
(tags: information shannon entropy mathematics maths kolmogorov signature cell stephen-meyer intelligent-design creationism)

Pat Robertson is not unchristian

"This Jesus dude, and the new testament in general, is not all sweetness and light and "love thy brother" though those things definitely appear in more abundance than in the Old Testament. But still, according to the Gospels, Jesus spoke more about hell than about any other subject."
(tags: haiti pat-robertson hell christianity religion jesus)

Know Your Godless Heathen Positions

"It has become common, especially for the critics of atheism, to conflate atheism, materialism, naturalism, evolution, and natural selection. Then, an objection to one of these positions is taken to undermine all of them. This would be a mistake since there are several distinct positions here that the atheist may or may not also accept. And much of the energy that has been expended to knock them down is wasted because several of them turn out to be compatible with theism. Let’s clarify:"
(tags: science philosophy atheism matt-mccormick materialism naturalism evolution)

Russian Commuters Treated to Free Roadside Pornography

According to FOX News, "traffic jerked to a standstill". Via comp.risks.
(tags: funny traffic russia road porn pornography)

Link blog: funny, politics, equality, humour

Heresy Corner: Equality before the law

"If Harriet Harman's odious Equality Bill reaches the statute book in anything like its current form (in other words, if the House of Lords doesn't manage to delay it before a general election intervenes) then there may well be social and legal chaos in this country. There will also be a lot more work for lawyers. A lot." – Heresiarch reckons the Equality Bill is a bad thing.
(tags: law politics equality)

Killing In The Climb – rathergood.com

Why have them vying for the Christmas number one when you can combine them?
(tags: music video rathergood funny mashup)

DAVID SIMON – Vice Magazine

"David Simon is responsible for one of the greatest feats of storytelling of the past century, and that’s the entire five-season run of the television series The Wire." – Vice Magazine interview him.
(tags: vicemagazine the-wire tv-programmes tv television wire crime drugs politics journalism)

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.
(tags: religion funny onion history creationism)

IEEE Spectrum: Math Quiz: Why Do Men Predominate?

"among top math performers, the gender gap doesn’t exist in some ethnic groups and in some countries. The researchers conclude that culture is the main reason more men excel at the highest math levels in most countries."
(tags: maths mathematics gender feminism equality)

The C Programming Language: 4.10 by Brian W Kernighan & Dennis M Ritchie & HP Lovecraft

"C functions may be used recursively; that is, a function may call itself either directly or indirectly. Uninquiring souls may take this as just another peculiarity of those C folk, of whose ways their neighbours speak little to outsiders but much among themselves.

Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the events of the winter of 1927-28, the abnormally large number of calls placed upon the stack, the swiftness with which that list was sorted, the disturbing lack of heap allocation throughout the proceedings, and the secrecy surrounding the affair."
(tags: funny humour parody C programming lovecraft horror)

Link blog: philosophy, morality, science, video

Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism — Pitts 59 (4): 675 — The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Paper on whether the Big Bang supports theistic arguments for creation ex nihilo, and particularly the Kalam argument. Notably, the author points out that if the singularity in the past requires a Creator, surely singularities in the future (such as black holes) require a Destroyer.
(tags: science religion creationism kalam bigbang big-bang Singularity philosophy)

August and Everything After (San Francisco, 2004)

Adam Duritz singing the Counting Crows song whose lyrics are on the album cover of August and Everything After (but which doesn't appear on the album itself). There are a couple of live versions of this: this one's better because the crowd aren't yelling through it.
(tags: counting-crows adam-duritz music)

Gastronomic Realism—A Cautionary Tale

Loeb's charming paper comparing Moral Realism and Gastronomic Realism (the idea that some foods are simply better than others, independent of individual tastes).
(tags: philosophy morality food realism gastronomic don-loeb system:filetype:pdf system:media:document)

“The Collapse Of Intelligent Design”

Ken Miller demonstrating why ID is not backed by evidence. Miller's a Catholic, not a neo-sceptical atheist neo-rationalist.
(tags: ken-miller intelligent-design id evolution creationism science biology dna)

Don Loeb – Moral Irrealism

Philosopher Don Loeb in conversation about moral irrealism, the view that there are no moral facts independent of our beliefs about them. Touches on whether introducing a God would help moral realism: Loeb thinks not.
(tags: philosophy morality atheism don-loeb)

Mr. Deity and the Identity Crisis

"any time anyone's said anything comprehensible about the Trinity the Church has declared it a heresy." – Gareth
(tags: funny video religion christianity trinity mr-deity)

The Non-Expert: IKEA by Matthew Baldwin

A walkthrough of the various levels of the IKEA game: "As you continue through the main SHOWROOM you will see groups blocking the walkways while chatting and others moving against traffic. These people should be killed immediately."
(tags: funny humour culture parody games ikea furniture shopping)

David Nutt: Governments should get real on drugs – opinion – 04 November 2009 – New Scientist

David Nutt's opinion piece in New Scientist.
(tags: drugs science badscience government law medicine politics david-nutt)

A life changed by evidence

Series of videos by a former evangelical Christian explaining why he became an atheist. Well produced and informative stuff. The chap makes a palpable effort to show how he was a Christian and how, for much of the time before his deconversion, he thought the things he was learning could be incorporated into Christianity rather than working against it.
(tags: video youtube de-conversion christianity evangelicalism bible morality)

Link blog: christianity, religion, philosophy, cambridge

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)

Link blog: religion, christianity, de-conversion, politics

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.

The Silent Partners

The Observer reveals that Creationists plan British theme park. This was picked up by Pharyngula, the Dawkins site, and some of the other usual suspects in atheist blog-land. Prophecies of doom were uttered, comparisons made to the creationist nutters in the USA, and so on.

Nonsense like this makes you despair at the state of investigative journalism in this country. The AH Trust seems to be a project of the Zebra agency, a TV production company. I say that partly because they both have similarly illiterate websites filled with nasty javascript menus, but mostly because the same address is used in both domain registrations (that of a location which looks, from Google’s aerial shots, like a private house near Wigan). The Charity Commission’s registration documents for the Trust tell us that AH stands for “Assembly Hall” and that they originally had a site at christianassembly.co.uk, which now appears to be defunct.

The Trust’s annual report makes interesting reading for many reasons. The Trust reports that their income from donations was about £300 last year, and that they had £311 in the bank at the end of September 2007. (It’s possible, looking at the graph on page 7, that we’re meant to multiply these figures by 1000, but you’d have hoped they’d indicate that in the report somewhere).

The Observer tells us the Trust is talking to “a number of rich backers”, who I can exclusively reveal are called Mr Desk, Mr Chair, Mr Pen and Mr Stapler (Offler bless you, PTerry, stay well as long as you can), as well as a pair of investors to whom I am intimately connected.

For heaven’s sake, lefty journos, leave Christianity in this country to die in peace, with a bit of dignity, instead of writing yet another scare story about how we’re about to be over-run.