It’s quite amazing how often the Kalām Cosmological Argument, or some version of it, is still used by believers to justify their faith. It seems like a naive understanding of modern cosmology, coupled with confirmation bias, conspire to keep this tired argument on life support. In this series of posts, my intention is to explain some of the ways in which KCA is a terrible argument, one problem at a time. In this first post, I’ll focus on whether it’s reasonable to apply inductive reasoning to the universe.
Sometimes we ask the wrong questions, and answer them with bad answers. One particularly bad question is: “what was there before the Big-Bang?” There are many others, but this one requires a little mental gymnastics in order to get used to modern ideas of time and understand what the consequences are.
I’ve been watching this video of Rachel Maddow interviewing Rand Paul about civil rights. Paul’s argument is that private businesses should be left free to discriminate, because Liberty. I think he’s profoundly wrong, here’s why.
The Christian blogs these days seem to be erupting with outrage over a short cartoon sequence in the new Cosmos TV show. The segment in question tells the story of Giordano Bruno, and it’s… well, cartoony, both literally and figuratively. That’s not shocking on its own, the science itself in Cosmos is cartoony: biologists will cringe at inaccurate representations of a DNA molecule, astronomers will face palm when Tyson’s spaceship avoids planetoids that are in reality many orders of magnitude farther away from one another. It’s the nature of the exercise: trying to convey complex ideas to an uninitiated public in simple and entertaining images, will require simplifications, dramatization, shortcuts, and even that you’ll occasionally be plain wrong. Being a science show, maybe it was sloppier and more caricature on the history. I don’t know, I’m no historian. As long as deception is not deliberate and central to the discourse…
Yet another supposedly gotcha question that irrational people often ask in order to unsettle their interlocutor: “can you know anything with 100% certainty?” Well, of course I can, and so can you...
The number of faux-pas and botched damage control attempts from Microsoft around Xbox One has been hard to keep up with these last few days. Microsoft has confirmed shortly before E3 that the rumors about used and loaned games were true: you won’t be able to dispose of your property without Microsoft’s authorization, and various actors are going to get a cut out of all used sales. Some additional restrictions apply.
It should be pretty clear at this point that our patent system is broken. It’s been designed to foster innovation, but is nowadays stifling it. It’s supposed to protect inventors, but instead threatens innovators. Patent trolls are extorting billions of dollars from our top tech companies, and are threatening to do the same to small businesses and individuals. Meanwhile, big corporations amass enormous patent portfolios that they use as currency, with contents so vague that they can be used to attack their smaller competitors before they even start: if you want to start a small technological business today, don’t do a patent search: you are going to find patents broad enough to cover your innovation, and you may have to give up for fear of litigation that would kill you from the legal fees alone.
The hallmark of truth is consistency. Error can always be shown, at the core of the argument, to be logically inconsistent and ultimately selfrefuting. Ergo, consistency is contingent to any claim of truth.
This is of course an error of monumental proportions.
Over the past few weeks, I had an interesting discussion on Facebook with Michael, a militant Catholic, about the Catholic Church’s claim that it is infallible. Like many arguments with believers, this has rapidly morphed from a single simple problem into a full-blown Gish Gallop. I should know better, but I bit. This series of posts is a compilation of my answers to his claims.
Last night, I watched one of Glenn Beck’s shows, and it surprised me: it actually had bits of thought in it, instead of the distilled lib’ral hating I was expecting. Sure, Beck is unnervingly arrogant and assumes everyone disagreeing with him is an idiot, but, maybe under the influence of his guest Penn Jillette, he followed a coherent train of thoughts and actually was interesting. I’m disagreeing vehemently with most of what both said in the show, but I also understood something.