Illogic of the ancients

The Daily Telegraph has an article about Darwin which points out that his atheism, as with most atheists, derived from very irrational emotion rather than reason. Unlike Job, Darwin could not bear the pain of the tragedy in his life and turned from God; the Book of Job makes it clear that Job is an unusual exemplary in this regard, it is Darwin’s behavior that is the norm. But what I found interesting was the reference to EpictetusEpicurus in the comments, a quote which was occasionally brought up by the more intelligent atheists and which I have seen being aped more and more often by the thoughtless talking points crowd.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

This is correct, however, the underlying assumption that God defines evil in the same sense that we do is baseless and probably incorrect. And sans a definition of evil, the whole argument is irrelevant sans anyhow. Sam Harris, for example, considers inanimate objects to be evil, apparently based on size.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Incorrect four times over. This assumes God’s definition of evil is identical to our own and that evil cannot be turned to a subsequent or ultimate purpose of good. It also assumes a level of interest on God’s part without any basis for doing so. And finally, it assumes that God would value enforcing good behavior over permitting free will that allows the possibility of evil action.

Is he both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

This assumes an absence of free will. Evil comes from the human heart; the Christian definition of evil is not “things that counter our desires”, but rather, our choice to exalt our will over God’s Will.

Is he neither willing, nor able? Then why call him God?

Because He is the Creator. Call him the Dungeon Master or the Game Designer if you prefer. Either way, He is the Rulemaker and Lawgiver.

Now, despite my having provided these critiques for some time now, a few people still insist on claiming that my logical abilities are not as good as advertised. I should very much like to see these critics defend the reasoning of either EpictetusEpicurus or of Socrates in Euthyphro; surely if my logic is weak, it should be no problem to defeat it in with the help of two of the great historical philosophers.

Discuss amongst yourselves

Euro 2008 Final

If you’re watching, feel free to discuss here. Nice, hard-working goal by Torres in the 33rd minute; abysmal defending by Lahm. We lost our signal for the first 20 minutes, what is Ballack doing on the field? I thought he was out. If Iniesta would simply use his doggone left foot, this game might be over already; twice he’s broken through, had an open shot and refused to take it because the ball was on his left. I don’t accept that from six year olds, so I imagine that’s probably one of the things the Spanish manager is discussing that at halftime.

UPDATE – It’s Spain for Euro 2008.

Enjoying the TSA 101

Can you even imagine a more annoying group of youth? I’d rather hang out with the Young Pioneers or the Red Guards and listen to them recite Marx than spend five minutes with these smug, would-be rebels. You just know that they’re absolutely insufferable when discussing their musical preferences, much less politics.

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

Ooh, shocking her father with Facebook… radical! I just wish they’d put “Hussein” on their airline tickets as well. Still, I think there is the possibility for a lot of entertainment value in an prospective Obama administration. When you look at the history of democratically elected black leaders, from Atlanta and Detroit to South Africa and Zimbabwe, you have to conclude that there’s a pretty good chance that if HopeChange Hussein takes office, he’s going to drag America to places it never even knew existed.

Voxiversity: Thucydides S7

The quiz covering the events of Book FiveSix, which took place during the seventeenth and eighteenth years of the war can be taken here. Sorry about the delay… now discuss away!

The History of the Peloponnesian War 1.1 to 1.115.

The History of the Peloponnesian War 1.116 to 2.46.

The History of the Peloponnesian War 2.47 to 2.103.

The History of the Peloponnesian War 3.1 to 3.116.

The History of the Peloponnesian War 4.1 to 4.135.

The History of the Peloponnesian War 5.1 to 5.116.

UPDATE – A few of the Thucydidean die-hards have expressed some concerns about the project. DocBrown, who has been solid throughout, wondered aloud: “Does anyone else get the feeling Vox is losing interest; late quizzes, very few comments on his part, no follow up posts with analysis like at the beginning?”

It’s not a matter of losing interest, only a matter of being busy with a few other things this summer. Unfortunately, it’s nothing I can discuss yet, but I’ve had some interesting opportunities present themselves of late, two of which I’ve chosen to pursue. The one that I can mention is a group blog to which I’ll be contributing once a week; it kicks off in another two weeks and I’m quite looking forward to it as I’m a big fan of the associated publication. It’s nothing political, but it will provide a nice venue for a topic that has seldom proven to be of much interest here.

Regarding Book Six, I was struck once more with what an effective general Demosthenes is. It would have been interesting to know what he thought of the expedition; Nicias’s doubts are well-founded, but his good reputation and military competence notwithstanding, he lacks the strength of character to decline the command. One thing that is oft forgotten when it comes to the Athenians is their military prowess on land as well as sea, they tend to remind me somewhat of the WWII German infantry in their audacity and aggressiveness. In battle after battle, they prove superior in terms of leadership and performance, they’re simply not the effete mercantile philosophers that they’re often assumed to be.

Before I forget, Book Seven will be next Saturday.

Now tell the scientists that

Beezle sums it up well:

Scientists generally suffer from overspecialization, but only because it’s now required due to the vast breadth of knowledge. They are generally NOT learned in philosophical issues, which is why when they are forced into a philosophical argument by a theist, they lamely fall back on sputtering something about falsifiablity, scientific method, and Popper, then promptly run out of gas.

This is true. And compounding the problem is that many scientists are so poorly learned when it comes to philosophical issues, (or most of the time, anything outside their specialty), that they don’t even realize when they are making a philosophical argument of their own volition; it’s seldom necessary for a theist or anyone else to force them into it.

It is a challenge to defeat a scientist in an argument related to his area of specialty. It is also a challenge to lose an argument to a scientist in just about any other area. For all that he comes off as an egregious buffoon most of the time, PZ Myers is strategically correct to stick to the petty name-calling that is the entirety of his method of argument relating to anything outside of his narrow field of science; attempting more would banish the illusion of his intellectual expertise and reveal the paucity of both his knowledge and his intelligence.

Attaining equality

British Commissar Harriet Harman proposes an Equality Bill on behalf of underrepresented minorities:

it is an unexamined assumption that equality must be connected with representation. Why do people so often assume equality for women – in, say, nuclear physics or welding or the police force – must mean the representation of women in equal numbers in those fields? If a certain percentage of policewomen are not Muslims or Hasidic Jews, does that of itself mean they have been discriminated against?

This latest imperial overreach by British NuLabor equalitarians should be interesting. It’s not an entirely bad thing, not when it could result in Labor finishing behind both the British National Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party in the next general election. And it would be amusing to think of this concept crosssing the Atlantic and giving short white men the ability to sue the NBA in order to kick tall black men out of their jobs. Young, male beer-drinking enthusiasts would be able to sue the universities to kick studious young women out of college and Hispanics would be justified in booting Jews out of the the film studios and the investment banks; when one looks at the U.S. population demographic, the two most striking aspects are Jewish overrepresentation and Hispanic underrepresentation in a wide variety of fields.

The new equalitarianism diktat would also be good news for Christian evangelicals, who are severely underrepresented in many fields, including the tenured professariats and government-funded laboratories. It wouldn’t be so hot for atheists, however, who have long trumpeted their massive overrepresentation in the National Academy of the Sciences. But it’s healthy to be outside, so perhaps those future former academy members will come to be thankful for their new jobs picking fruit and trimming hedges.

The credit crunch widens

If you don’t get your debt under control, someone else will:

The easy money that led Americans to depend on credit cards to pay their bills is starting to dry up. After fostering the explosive growth of consumer debt in recent years, financial companies are reducing the credit limits on cards held by millions of Americans, often without warning.

I find it amazing that the official story is that we’re STILL teetering on the edge of a recession. The reality is that we’ve been in one for several quarters, but the artificially low inflation numbers have prevented the inflation-adjusted GDP numbers from shrinking. But even this egregious statistics-fudging won’t disguise the state of the economy for much longer.

McCain on immigration amnesty

McCrazy can’t stop letting the migrating cat out of the bag:

I haven’t won on every issue. I didn’t win on immigration reform, but I’ll go back at it. And I’m glad I did it.

Just one of the many reasons I wouldn’t even consider voting for John McCain. The truth is, I don’t see how either he or the Magic Negro can win, although presumably one of them has to. I suppose it will be rather like a game between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers; whoever manages to screw up less will win.

Fun with memes

NateM passed this on to me. I don’t usually bother with these tagging games, but I found this one hard to resist.

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

Social autism.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

Yes. Baptist.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?

Irrelevant.

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

Since many would probably classify it as a scientific endeavour, I’d say artificial intelligence even though I consider it to be a technological development rather than a scientific one. As for actual science, I’m looking forward to seeing genetic science used to create new medical technologies as well as eventually demolishing the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

What: Realizing the illusion of its supposed dedication to rational materialism and science.
Why: Because it is very, very difficult to have a rational and intelligent conversation with an irrational, maleducated individual who is convinced that he is more rational and more educated than everyone else on the sole basis of his childhood disbelief in the supernatural.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

“Are you sure you’re up for the challenge?” The Bible makes it clear that more is expected of those who put themselves in positions of spiritual leadership. It’s not for the faint of heart, and there’s no shortage of examples of weak men being all too easily destroyed in those roles.

Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

The evidence argument. It’s proven to be rather difficult to refute since the vast majority of atheists have a very poor understanding of what evidence is – their tendency towards science fetishism often causes them to believe only scientific evidence is evidence – and quickly find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to deny the existence of things they quite clearly believe. Turning it around, I quite enjoy dealing with the atheist Argument by Imperfect Design.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I’ll leave that up to others to decide.

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Intellectually, Dennett. But personally, I think Harris is the most open-minded and would probably the most interesting to have dinner with.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Their beliefs in what? God? Equality? The certain triumph of the Worker’s ParadiseEnlightenment?