Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

This is a very peculiar thing about the philosophy, or the ideas, behind the laws.


The mass of an object never seems to change: a spinning top has the same weight as a still one. So a “law” was invented: mass is constant, independent of speed. That “law” is now found to be incorrect. Mass is found to increase with velocity, but appreciable increases require velocities near that of light. A true law is: if an object moves with a speed of less than one hundred miles a second the mass is constant to within one part in a million. In some such approximate form this is a correct law. So in practice one might think that the new law makes no significant difference. Well, yes and no. For ordinary speeds we can certainly forget it and use the simple constant-mass law as a good approximation. But for high speeds we are wrong, and the higher the speed, the more wrong we are.

Finally, and most interesting, philosophically we are completely wrong with the approximate law. Our entire picture of the world has to be altered even though the mass changes only by a little bit. This is a very peculiar thing about the philosophy, or the ideas, behind the laws. Even a very small effect sometimes requires profound changes in our ideas.

Now, what should we teach first? Should we teach the correct but unfamiliar law with its strange and difficult conceptual ideas, for example the theory of relativity, four-dimensional space-time, and so on? Or should we first teach the simple “constant-mass” law, which is only approximate, but does not involve such difficult ideas? The first is more exciting, more wonderful, and more fun, but the second is easier to get at first, and is a first step to a real understanding of the first idea. This point arises again and again in teaching physics. At different times we shall have to resolve it in different ways, but at each stage it is worth learning what is now known, how accurate it is, how it fits into everything else, and how it may be changed when we learn more.

-Richard Feynman

Prohibition is obviously a pointless disaster, but what about alcohol regulation? Instead of an arbitrary ban, we have sensible regulations on liquor: Who can buy, who can sell, where it can be sold and consumed etc etc… 

It’s a false dichotomy to assume the only choices are full deregulation or drug war style prohibition.

Prohibition is obviously a pointless disaster, but what about alcohol regulation? Instead of an arbitrary ban, we have sensible regulations on liquor: Who can buy, who can sell, where it can be sold and consumed etc etc…

It’s a false dichotomy to assume the only choices are full deregulation or drug war style prohibition.

"GOD EXISTS!" Argument 5: The Beauty of Physical Laws

uncompromising-rhetoric:

  1. Scientists use aesthetic principles (simplicity, symmetry, elegance) to discover the laws of nature.
  2. Scientists could only use aesthetic principles successfully if the laws of nature were intrinsically and objectively beautiful.
  3. The laws of nature are intrinsically and objectively beautiful (from 1 & 2).
  4. Only a mind-like being with an appreciation of beauty could have designed the laws of nature.
  5. god is the only being with the power and purpose to design beautiful laws of nature.
  6. god exists.
  • FLAW 1: Do we decide an explanation is good because it’s beautiful, or do we find an explanation beautiful because it provides a good explanation? When we say that the laws of nature are beautiful, what we are really saying is that the laws of nature are the laws of nature, and thus unify into elegant explanation a vast host of seemingly unrelated and random phenomena. We would find the laws of nature of any lawful universe beautiful. So what this argument boils down to is the observation that we live in a lawful universe. And of course any universe that could support the likes of us would have to be lawful. So this argument is another version of the The Anthropic Principle — we live in the kind of universe which is the only kind of universe in which observers like us could live — and thus is subject to the flaws of this argument.
  • FLAW 2: If the laws of the universe are intrinsically beautiful, then positing a god who loves beauty, and who is mysteriously capable of creating an elegant universe (and presumably a messy one as well, though his aesthetic tastes led him not to), makes the universe complex and incomprehensible all over again. This negates the intuition behind Premise 3, that the universe is intrinsically elegant and intelligible. (See The Argument from the Intelligibility of the Universe, which I will post soon).
  • FLAW 3: A strict implementation of Physical laws negates the credibility of Miracles (later I will post about the Arguments from Miracles). The “scientific laws” of the philosopher of religion, who see them as products of a divine lawmaker, must be completely subjective. In fact, even though we are talking of scientific physical laws and not moral laws, let’s bring in the bogey man of relativism. Given that in their scenario the physical laws can be at the mercy, the whims and fancies, of their divine lawmaker they must see these scientific laws a relative as well as subjective. Aren’t they actually being relativist when they claim that their “miracles” are real? That they are caused by something “supernatural” – suspension of the laws of nature. Their god, in his wisdom, has demanded that these laws of nature are suspended or changed for a time. Isn’t that relativism?
While the subjective understanding of laws of nature enable such “miracles,” scientific understanding of laws of nature having an objective basis enables a non-relativist understanding. “Miracles” and “supernatural” phenomena which seem to defy the laws of nature simply show our imperfect understanding of reality. If the observations are valid they give an opportunity to improve our theories, to develop a better understanding of reality.
Mind you, these days most claims of “miracles” and “supernatural” phenomena seem to derive more from credibility, falsehoods and poor observation than from any problems with the laws of nature.

Flaw 1 is all it takes to decimate this argument.

"Christians have freedom of religion in America that no other group enjoys."

abaldwin360:

raging-liberal-hard-on:

communismkills:

Please explain:

I’m waiting.

Are you really trying to equate religious freedom with treating other people like they’re not actually, you know, people? 

Like, omg, how dare a dating site actually acknowlege that homosexual people may be looking for love, ooohhhhh totally infringing on your religious rightttsss. 

lol. 

People wanting to be treated equally and be spared your religious discrimination is not taking away your religious freedom. Christians DO have a freedom in their religion that no other religion in this country has.

Just. 

lol. 

I’ll explain.

1 - That dude violated his probation, he got in trouble not for practicing religion in his home but for violating zoning laws and building codes.  

Religion doesn’t get to trump other laws when it comes to these things, sorry, that’s not what “freedom of religion” means. Climb down off your cross.

2 - E-Harmony violated discrimination laws, again, religion doesn’t get to trump law in these cases. Deal with it. How is “not allowing someone to discriminate” somehow an affront to your religion?

3 - Oh look. I’m sounding like a broken record, but again, violation of discrimination laws.

Your so-called assault on religious freedom here boils down to Christians having to follow the same laws as everyone else in these cases.

Awwww, poor babies.

deconversionmovement:


If you’re going to make a point, at least be accurate.  This is my correction of this post.  The original post has one issue, namely that it places the Israelite law in the New Testament — never mind that the date is also wrong.  The earliest book in the NT is Mark (70 A.D.).  Nonetheless, the Israelite law is found in the book of Exodus.  Therefore, the focus should be on laws that predate the laws in Exodus.  In any case, Exodus is a myth, Moses is non-historical and there’s no way a celestial child murderer handed down the original code of ethics.
Sources:
1st graphic
2nd graphic


There is also the ancient Egyptian concept of Maat (or truth) from the Book Of The Dead and the 42 confessions of morality required to gain entry to heaven. It dates from about 1550 BCE and it also lists violence against others, theft and rape as base transgressions. With a list of 42 instead of 10, it could be argued that ancient Egyptian morality was superior to that of the Israelites.

Pretty obvious that these basic morals far predate the story of Moses and unless you believe in Mesopotamian or Egyptian gods, they were clearly devised by humans.

deconversionmovement:

If you’re going to make a point, at least be accurate.  This is my correction of this post.  The original post has one issue, namely that it places the Israelite law in the New Testament — never mind that the date is also wrong.  The earliest book in the NT is Mark (70 A.D.).  Nonetheless, the Israelite law is found in the book of Exodus.  Therefore, the focus should be on laws that predate the laws in Exodus.  In any case, Exodus is a myth, Moses is non-historical and there’s no way a celestial child murderer handed down the original code of ethics.

Sources:

1st graphic

2nd graphic

There is also the ancient Egyptian concept of Maat (or truth) from the Book Of The Dead and the 42 confessions of morality required to gain entry to heaven. It dates from about 1550 BCE and it also lists violence against others, theft and rape as base transgressions. With a list of 42 instead of 10, it could be argued that ancient Egyptian morality was superior to that of the Israelites.

Pretty obvious that these basic morals far predate the story of Moses and unless you believe in Mesopotamian or Egyptian gods, they were clearly devised by humans.

76 Things Banned in Leviticus

nonplussedbyreligion:

azspot:

(via slacktivist)

I’ve seen this before.  Like all things in the Bible, exegesis is key.  These laws were supposedly penned by Moses between 1445-1444 B.C.E.  They were meant to be  used as a handbook for priests and Levites to lead worship, and a guide for the Hebrews on how to live holy lives.  Holiness is such an important part of this text that the word is mentioned over 150 times, more than in any other book of the Bible.  There is no misunderstanding what the book is about and for what purpose.  What the Bible fails to do however is explain which of these laws have universal applications to all men, throughout time and eternity, and which only apply to the people of Israel.

Before I actually started studying the Bible, I had read it many times.  There is a vast difference between reading scripture and studying it, especially for purposes of application.  The decision to select some passages from Leviticus and uphold them, while ignoring others was something I never really questioned when I was being fed the word.  When I actually started examining the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it I realized that there needed to be all or nothing.  Picking and choosing made no sense.

There is a grey area that many theologians inhabit, that often differs from denomination to denomination, but they live there nonetheless.  This space allows them to build the foundational doctrine of their church on parts of scripture that they believe to be the best.  Some forbid women to wear pants and jewelry, while some have a come as you attitude.  Some allow women to preach, while some do not.  Churches that are inclusive and don’t view God as homophobic use the same Bible as the Westboro Baptist Church.  

The same book, or even chapter of Leviticus used to support X as a sin, consists of myriads of sins Christians no longer hold to.  So who gets to choose?  Who decides which banned thing can be overlooked, deemed only relevant to the Hebrews, and which others are still applicable to all men?  I’ve received some pretty detailed answers to this question over the years from Apologists and other brilliant Christians.  Regardless of the length or brevity of the answer I received, the one constant was the idea that we are all God’s children and under the government of his laws.  I’ve heard some pretty good arguments, but the selection process, the who gets to choose has yet to be answered.  I’m doubtful it ever will. ~ Kim

drinkthe-koolaid:

stfuconservatives:

sarahlee310:

bluecheddar:

(Why you sloppy arrogant corporate puppet, you.)
Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from a bill. The bill calls on the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations (HM 685).
source

SarahLee: Sorry, you got caught!

The next day, Rep. Burgin quickly withdrew the bill hoping that no one had noticed and then re-introduced it 24-hours later, with a new bill number (HM 717), but now without the problematic paragraph. Nobody seems to have noticed until now.


It’s… it’s almost like lobbyists are writing the laws to serve their own interests! Oh my god! Has anyone heard about this???????????? Somebody tell Congress that they’re just figureheads for corporate interests! Somebody tell their constituents that they don’t give two shits about their sad little lives! ALERT THE MEDIA!


Well shit I’d love to be able to write my own laws.

drinkthe-koolaid:

stfuconservatives:

sarahlee310:

bluecheddar:

(Why you sloppy arrogant corporate puppet, you.)

Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from a bill. The bill calls on the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations (HM 685).

source

SarahLee: Sorry, you got caught!

The next day, Rep. Burgin quickly withdrew the bill hoping that no one had noticed and then re-introduced it 24-hours later, with a new bill number (HM 717), but now without the problematic paragraph. Nobody seems to have noticed until now.


It’s… it’s almost like lobbyists are writing the laws to serve their own interests! Oh my god! Has anyone heard about this???????????? Somebody tell Congress that they’re just figureheads for corporate interests! Somebody tell their constituents that they don’t give two shits about their sad little lives! ALERT THE MEDIA!

Well shit I’d love to be able to write my own laws.

nonplussedbyreligion:

I’m not even going to give my usual talk of sex disclaimer since these are laws. Can a certain lawyer on here (you know who you are) let me know if I may be facing jail time because I live in one of these states and may or may not have committed a crime.  :/
We all know that D.C. doesn’t adhere to that law.
Really Florida, a porcupine?!  
Washington, explain yourself!!!!
I’m too tired to verify these so I’ll just LOL.

 I’d better stay out of Connorsville, Wisconsin.

nonplussedbyreligion:

I’m not even going to give my usual talk of sex disclaimer since these are laws. Can a certain lawyer on here (you know who you are) let me know if I may be facing jail time because I live in one of these states and may or may not have committed a crime.  :/

We all know that D.C. doesn’t adhere to that law.

Really Florida, a porcupine?!  

Washington, explain yourself!!!!

I’m too tired to verify these so I’ll just LOL.

I’d better stay out of Connorsville, Wisconsin.

(Source: cosmic-rebirth)

Breaking: Scandal. Koch, ExxonMobil busted writing laws to reverse climate and environmental regulations

jonathan-cunningham:

depressingfacts:

climateadaptation:

Must read. Bloomberg blows the lid off of a DC front group that’s funded by anti-environmental corporations with major stakes in reversing regulations. The group drafts bills for Republican legislators, who then bring the issue to the floor and public to attack climate change, EPA, enviro-regs, and more.  

Source: Bloomberg

Am I surprised? No. Am I disgusted? Abso-fucking-lutely.

More on the exposure of ALEC can be found here.

#BigSurprise

curate:

knowhomo:
LGBTQ* History You Should Know
(And Probably Never Heard Of)

Alcatraz’s First Prisoner
Alcatraz,  San Francisco Bay’s “Rock,” opened as a prison in the 1934. The prison, considered the most intense maximum-security facility in the United States, housed the most “dangerous and incorrigible” criminals in the country. Murderers, mob bosses, serial murderers and enemies of the state were sent to Alcatraz. Also incarcerated at the mighty prison where men who committed the punishable crime of sodomy.
Frank Bolt (pictured above) was Alcatraz’s first inmate, processed on July 1, 1934. Bolt was convicted and imprisoned on the charge of being caught in a homosexual act and received a five-year sentence for acts of sodomy. He would later die at Alcatraz.
-Nine of the first twenty-five prisoners processed and housed at Alcatraz were jailed on charges of sodomy.
Source: The Portable Queer: Homo History p.25-26

curate:

knowhomo:

LGBTQ* History You Should Know

(And Probably Never Heard Of)

Alcatraz’s First Prisoner

Alcatraz,  San Francisco Bay’s “Rock,” opened as a prison in the 1934. The prison, considered the most intense maximum-security facility in the United States, housed the most “dangerous and incorrigible” criminals in the country. Murderers, mob bosses, serial murderers and enemies of the state were sent to Alcatraz. Also incarcerated at the mighty prison where men who committed the punishable crime of sodomy.

Frank Bolt (pictured above) was Alcatraz’s first inmate, processed on July 1, 1934. Bolt was convicted and imprisoned on the charge of being caught in a homosexual act and received a five-year sentence for acts of sodomy. He would later die at Alcatraz.

-Nine of the first twenty-five prisoners processed and housed at Alcatraz were jailed on charges of sodomy.

Source: The Portable Queer: Homo History p.25-26

Many of the millions of cannabis users in this country not only disobey the drug laws but feel a principled lack of respect for them. They do not conceal their bitter resentment of laws that render them criminals. They believe that many people have been deceived by their government, and they have come to doubt that the ‘authorities’ understand much about either the deleterious or the useful properties of the drug.

US spends billions every year prosecuting marijuana violations while economy tanks

The US economy is rapidly unraveling … and millions of Americans are losing their jobs and struggling just to survive. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to spend billions of taxpayer dollars every year to fight its endless “War on Drugs,” which includes spending about $7.7 billion a year just on enforcing marijuana laws, and preventing sick and injured patients from accessing this natural, side effect-free treatment for their ailments.

(via 18goingon80)

That almost covers a month of war in Afghanistan.

(Source: anarchyagogo)

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

City of Amsterdam opposes proposed law that would ban tourists from coffee shops | Global Post

The capital’s town council, backed by the tourist board and local campaigners, is opposing a new law proposed by the Dutch government that would ban foreigners from frequenting the city’s cannabis-serving coffee shops by 2012.
“If tourists are denied access to coffee shops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase,” warned Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. “Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible.” +


Wait a sec, “If tourists are denied access to coffee shops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase,” warned Mayor Eberhard van der Laan

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

City of Amsterdam opposes proposed law that would ban tourists from coffee shops | Global Post

The capital’s town council, backed by the tourist board and local campaigners, is opposing a new law proposed by the Dutch government that would ban foreigners from frequenting the city’s cannabis-serving coffee shops by 2012.

“If tourists are denied access to coffee shops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase,” warned Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. “Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible.” +

Wait a sec, “If tourists are denied access to coffee shops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase,” warned Mayor Eberhard van der Laan