If you’re out of the closet as an atheist, there is a number of canards that you will hear a lot. One of them is that Atheism requires more faith than religion. Whole (bad) books have been written on that “idea”. Ambrose has a new post on this entirely unoriginal topic, and he gets everything predictably wrong.
There is a growing culture of entitlement among religious people nowadays that we should not confuse with righteousness. More and more, we see politicians or bishops claiming that secular values are antagonistic to religious freedom. But what is religious freedom and why is it important?
In order to find out, I think it’s important to look at what it can’t be. What it can’t be, unless you have a taste for the perverse twisting of words, is religious tyranny.
That’s not me saying it, but “Sam’s Club customers”. This is a really interesting story. Brendan Powell Smith has been publishing funny little books containing “straightforward illustrations of Bible stories using direct quotes from scripture”. They are really entertaining books, of which you can get a sample on Brendan’s web site: http://www.bricktestament.com/index.html. There really couldn’t be any outrage about the contents, right? It is, after all, quotes from the “Good Book”. Well, apparently there can.
A few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.
The picture should be very clear: we have on the one side a legitimate press organization doing its job, freely expressing opinions and thoughts. On the other hand, we have despicable terrorists who are trying to silence people through violence and fear. I for one stand with the press, against the terrorists. Sounds easy, right?
Two Neanderthals need a bow and some arrows. Grrmt can build a bow in 5 hours and arrows in 4 hours. Aaaargl can build a bow in 2 hours and arrows in 3 hours. Thus, in order to build what they need, Grrmt will take 5+ 4 = 9 hours, and Aaaargl will take 2 + 3 = 5 hours. 14 hours total will be spent by the both of them.
Now what happens if our primitive friends talk to each other, specialize in what they do best, and trade? Something extraordinary. Aaaargl should have no interest doing that, as he's faster than Grrmt in everything, right? Right?
One version of the cosmological argument relies, among other assumptions, on the following:
Every contingent being has a cause.
Leaving aside the necessity of defining what we mean by "cause", and of explaining how such an inductive statement could reasonably apply to a unique object such as the universe, I want to focus in this post on the concept of contingency.
Logic is a tricky thing. Any sound argument must rely on it, but it is easy to build seemingly sound and logical arguments that are still wrong or fail to apply to the real world. Fuzzy or wrong premises, shortcuts in reasoning, as well as plain fallacies such as circular reasoning, are easy to obfuscate, and apologists are kings at this game. It's what they do: take the conclusion they want to reach, and then build the rationalization for it. A prime example of this is the age-old ontological argument for the existence of God, that I will be looking at in details in this post.
Most modern believers interpret their sacred texts as mostly metaphorical. Only the most hard-core fundamentalists maintain that Genesis for example is an accurate historical account of the origin of Humanity.
This post started as a comment on my friend Ambrose's blog but it was getting long enough to justify a post. Check it out for context.
Let's start with this: marriage cannot be defined by the biological prospect of having children, because that would rule out sterile couples and menopausal women. As simple as that.
The previous post showed how magnification changes with various lengths of extension tube, using a simple inexpensive fixed focal lens. Today, I want to show how changing other factors can affect your pictures, and for this I'm going to use a much more expensive lens, a 70-200mm telephoto lens.