Few things push my buttons like sanctimonious “love the sinner, hate the sin” declarations. The very concept of sin is a cancer that rots the mind. It is the substitution of morality with dogma. Take homosexuality. There is no moral argument to be made against it. Many have tried, and it always comes down to subjective ickiness, religion, or both. It takes religion to transform an act of love into an “abomination”, to tell people who they are is bad and that they must fight it, which means fighting against themselves. All this, even when they are harming nobody.
The past two days have been nerve wracking for the French, and for friends of freedom of speech. We’ve all been floored by the savagery of the attacks, but it’s been heartwarming to see support messages from all over the world, as well as the extraordinary unity of the French people overall, including the Muslim community and clergy, as well as all other confessions (but of course, let’s not fool ourselves, there are already brain-dead violent reactions against the whole Muslim community, which is exactly the sort of division the terrorists are trying to create).
In yesterday’s post, I explained how during my whole time as a physics student, I’ve never seen an example of a religious claim, positive or negative, creeping into the science teaching. It’s not that physical science is inconsequential to religious claims, it’s not. However, religion is off-topic in a science class, and there is only a conflict if someone brings religion into the classroom.
Here’s a great example of projection: many members of the religious right in the US are convinced that non-religious universities are indoctrination centers for the far left and atheism. Case in point, my fellow blogger Ambrose writes:
The reason that higher education in the sciences and philosophy purportedly reduces religious belief has as much to do with contemporary popular antitheistic indoctrination in those fields as any supposed increase in knowledge, much less baseline intelligence.
In my ongoing series of posts addressing the arguments from Michael, a militant Catholic, today’s post will examine the claim that the Bible’s cosmogony is unique among creation myths in that it talks about creation ex-nihilo. In Michael’s words:
Every culture known believed that the Earth, stars, indeed the entire universe has been present in all eternity. Creation stories abounded, but all the stories began with matter that preexisted
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.
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…
Michael, on his way to establish the infallibility of the Catholic Church, makes the claim that consistency is the defining characteristic of truth:
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.