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Friday, August 29, 2008

Jesus? That's Not My Name!

I have a question for all you Christians regarding the supposed disrespect of failing to capitalize the name Jesus at the end of this post. I am sure all of you are familiar with one of Ray's commenting rules:
Any comments that don't properly, and respectfully, capitalize the name "Jesus" and/or "God," or use these in a blasphemous manner, will not be published.
But... why? I am all for capitalizing proper nouns, as proper grammar is something painfully lacking on the Internet. But, why go out of the way for these two exceptions? I'll just focus on Jesus in this post and may make a later post about the Ineffable Name.

Jesus of Nazareth
Have you ever heard someone say that there is historical evidence that there once lived a man named "Jesus" (around whom the mythology of the Bible is centered)? That is a positive indication that that person knows nothing of which they speak. That's because that wasn't his name and (the name) didn't even exist. It is the result of perversion of perversion of perversion from inadequate transliterations and language evolution.

This relates to Ray's rules as, why is reverence supposed to be given to those names? "God" and "Jesus" were never their names. In fact, Jesus does not correlate at all with what his name truly was. Imagine if, thousands of years into the future, when society knows very little historically of our period (for whatever reason) comes across some of Ray's books. A cult begins where the historic book is translated several times and then into other languages. In the process, the names also begin to be improperly transliterated and perverted into something obscure. In the end, this cult begins worshiping the Prophet Rutherford -- God of the Atheists -- and demand his name be properly capitalized for reverence.

This is very much what happened with the "Jesus" name. The actual Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ transliterates as (with dispute) Yehoshua (Yahweh is Salvation). Due to changes in languages, this soon shortens to Yeshua. When it went into Greek, there wasn't a Greek equivalent for the "sh," so it was replaced with "s" and an "s" was added on to the end to make it masculine, thus rendering it now Iesous. And from Greek it now goes to Latin where it is corrupted even further into IESVS.

This was only several hundred years after "Jesus" died. The languages change and evolve over time and, in the process, so does the name as the "v" is replaced with a "u" to distinguish the vowel. Then the English languages beat up on it even more and the name participates in the Great Vowel Shift, etc etc. It eventually ends up as Iesus or Iesu. In fact, the 1611 printing of the King James Version doesn't even use the "Jesus" name yet as it is still spelled with an "I."

We can raise problems with "Christ" and "Lord" as well. If you're wanting to translate his name, though I think it's improper to do so, it would be Joshua.

So, here's the question for Christians and Ray:
What is the greater disrespect here? Failing to capitalize the fictitious name Jesus, or calling him by a fictitious name in the first place? If the name is supposed to be so important that it must be capitalized, surely it is important enough to have the correct name used, then, right? If it's not disrespectful for you to call Yehoshua "Jesus" then why is it disrespectful for someone else to call Yehoshua "jesus"?

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Abortion Video


This is an excerpt of my post Ray: Liar, Lunatic, or Lacking regarding his video The Science of Evolution.

Inane Skit: Orangutan
If you looked up "inane" in the dictionary, I think you should find a picture of Ray Comfort, or at least of this video.

His post previous to this one was on abortion and how its a child with rights. Really? I was both anti-abortion rights and anti-abortion up until just a few months ago -- long after becoming an atheist. Now being both pro-abortion rights and pro-abortion, I shall make a video debunking the anti-abortionists. Behold, as I take a page out of Ray's book -- or a scene out of his video, as it were. Here is how I would produce my video:

I am unsure of how to first start off. I considered first to use a zygote (the product of fertilization) or perhaps an embryo, but then I thought I should approach it with some sort of strawman like Ray does. In that case, I should mix a sperm and an ovum in a Petri dish. Since they look pretty much the same to an observer, it doesn't really matter, so I will just go with the zygote.

First, I would take the zygote to a restaurant for lunch and order it a salad. I would try to converse with it and note how it isn't eating its food. It is not behaving as a person so, therefore, it's obviously not a person.

Next, I would call up eight airliners to see if I could take the zygote on the plane. When they say its a biological substance and must be stored, I would insist on a seat for it as it is a "person." When they won't budge, I will acknowledge that it is because they know it is intrinsically not a person.

Inane Skit: Interviewing the laity
Next, I would try to contact some reputable biologists to appear in my silly video. When they had better things to do, I would move on to lay people. They would sound like an expert on sexual reproduction at first, but with a little probing they'll admit they don't have any idea what they're talking about -- and any who do I will edit out. I would ask about haploid and diploid cells, zygotes and fertilization, gametes, mitosis, and diplontic life cycles and watch as they all fumble.

I will then create a blog where I claim to be trying to inform people and get them to become pro-abortion and insist it is out of my love for humanity and their well-being, but I will make sure to plug the video for profit at the bottom of my post.

Perhaps for my next video I will debunk the theory of relativity by interviewing the laity again. They'll sound like experts on gravity, but I will soon show they have no idea what they're talking about, thereby proving that people simply have unfounded faith in the theory tale of gravity.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Albert Einstein and the Bible

I was going to make a project out of my 100th post, but that was taking too long, so I will post that later. I decided, instead, to re-post my favorite blog entry from Ray. I think more than any of his other posts, this is a prime example of how ignorant and dishonest he is. Do not bother looking in his blog for the post, as he removed it without making any note of it or acknowledging his grievous error -- so that he can continue to make wild claims about the beliefs of Albert Einstein. His post, accompanied by a screenshot, is as follows:

Lore Weaver said..."The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish." -- Einstein

I never knew that Einstein believed that the Bible was "the of Word of God." I knew that be was a believer in God's existence (see quote on Blog-header), but this quote is very encouraging. The Scriptures sure were an honourable product of human weakness. God chose to inspire the weakness of men to write His Word to humanity. Albert naturally reacted to it as I did before my conversion. This reaction is explained in Scripture: "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What About Platypus?

Ray made a post on Tiktaalik where he says it's not a transitional form because it's "technically a fish." You have to wonder, what exactly is Ray's definition of a transitional form? I know that in science it is a form which illustrates the transitioning into another, illustrating the evolutionary transition. But what is Ray's?

He has already told us what his definition is: it's half one thing and half something else. For Ray, a fossilized mermaid would be what he calls a transitional form. That is no misrepresentation of Ray's caricature of evolution. Here is his own representation of how he thinks evolution happens:

The next obvious question when presented with this level of ignorance -- perhaps not the immediately next, as so many questions come to mind -- is: "What about Platypus?"

Note that the platypus is an "egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal." According to Ray, doesn't this qualify as his transitional form of some duck to a beaver, thus conforming to his misunderstanding of evolution? Of course not. As with any Young Earth Creationist, any evidence to the contrary is just how God created it. (Watch the first minute:)

Kirk later says regarding transitional fossils, that "as far as [he] understands, any fossil that you find in your museum is a fully formed creature. There is not something in there that is halfway between on animal and halfway between another animal that you can observe to be so." But let's not forget what he had just said after stating that there are, according to his research and understanding, no transitional forms:
"Wait a minute, look at the platypus. There is a mammal with hair and a bill like a duck." Yeah, it's a strange one and that's exactly how God made it. And there's plenty of strange animals like that.

Religion Makes You Less Evil?

I just finished watching the D'Souza, Hitchens, and Prager discussion -- I do not recommend it. As is always the case with D'Souza, there is the discussion of Stalin. The argument I often hear is that, yes, while Christians have killed and tortured a great many people, atheists have killed more.

This sort of argument seems to me to be more of a sort of ad hominem argument than any meaningful argument of morality. What is the claim? It starts out that you can't be good without religion and then, instead, makes a point that religion makes you less evil. Without even looking at the actual body counts or personal views of the supposed atheists, let's just assume that atheists have murdered and tortured more than Christians. What's the point? Christians have still murdered and tortured to a great degree. Are we supposed to look at this assumed discrepancy and conclude that God exists?

Perhaps the claim would then shift that simply the belief in God is beneficial as it tempers your immoral impulses. At this point, though, we are completely out of the realm of discussion of the existence of God. D'Souza, though, seemed to like this shifted arguing point during this panel discussion. At one point he says that religion, even if only wishful thinking, provides comfort at the loss of a loved one whereas atheism offers no consolation. Perhaps if Christianity didn't have attached with it the eternal torment of Hell, he would have an argument. I know that once I die, my atheist sister will be bereaved at my death as she knows she won't see me again. My Christian mother will be ever more so, as she will believe I am being tortured for all eternity in Hell for my unbelief.

Besides, if we are going to point to correlative data regarding the relative merits of a mere belief in God, then we have a rather difficult choice to make: should we choose no belief in God and murder more people, or should we choose to believe in the Christian God and rape more boys? I do not understand the argument.

(On the 95k year absence of God argument, I recommend Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes' post.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today's Christian Memory Quote

Modeled after Ray's segments for atheists, inspired by nonmagic's ninth point over at The Raytractors:

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him." -- Thomas Paine, Age of Reason

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Is This "Respect" Thing?

I made a post entitled Atheists Disrespecting Respectful Theists where I discussed the misconception of atheists being disrespectful, profane people -- a baseless charge usually made by Christians. I addressed, in what I thought was a respectful manner, this sort of hasty generalization and confirmation bias as well as the fact that others who share your beliefs (or disbeliefs) are going to get along better with you.

A commenter recently made a comment to the blog post. [While he doesn't identify further, reading his post Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People (the smart people club is apparently how he viewed the "imaginary elite society" of atheism when he was younger and an atheist), it seems he may be some sort of Christian.] He writes, regarding my post:
Hmm. Your list of comment instructions is disrespectful, actually; but it's your blog, and it doesn't really hurt anyone, just shows the contempt you feel for those with religious beliefs. Doesn't it?
What exactly are my comment rules? You may be familiar with them, minus the recent revision to them of the FSM for The Skeptical Sorcerer. I've posted a brief run-through of them as a comment to this post, as it isn't exactly relevant (except for responding to the above).

So, what is this "respect" thing we keep hearing about? I would like to have the theists of this blog give me a clear definition of what they think does and does not constitute respect and what does and does not constitute disrespect. Further, how it applies to only, or even just more so, to atheists than theists, specifically Christians (since Christianity is what this blog is mostly dedicated to). And finally, just what is being disrespected and why that should be respected.
respect (n):
3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
5. the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.

disrespect (n): lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.
If we are to have a discussion, surely it should be towards the person and not the concept. If someone comes on here and tells me why atheism or why I am wrong, I would not count that as disrespectful. If they are insulting me or being rude, I would count that as disrespectful (though, I wouldn't even make a mention of it as the person's respect or disrespect is completely immaterial to the discussion). If they come on here, as Christian commenters have, calling me a "fiend," a "fool," or throwing around threats of Hell, I would count that as disrespectful -- just as if an atheist did it. If someone makes a joke out of it, though, I would not count that as disrespectful.

I respect your right to have an opinion. I respect your right to your religion. I respect that you have chosen Christianity as that religion. I most certainly, though, do not respect Christianity, nor do I respect the Bible. I disbelieve and abhor most of what is written in the Bible and detest that which Christianity teaches.

There is a difference between showing respect for a person or respect in a conversation and showing respect for and for showing respect for a concept. I offer this as only a closing remark due to the nature of this post: I may think Christianity is foolish and that the person who believes and accepts it is a fool, and that is my right to do so. It's also my right to tell Christians that I believe them to be fools; however, it would be disrespectful to call them fools, as that is needlessly rude and insulting. It is not, however, disrespectful for me to express my feelings and also articulate why I think Christianity is foolish.

Ray Comfort's Ungodly Riches

A commenter asks Ray:
But really now, what exactly have hypocrites done to Christianity?
Isn't it really the case that all Christians, especially evangelists living the good life in the USA are hypocrites to a large degree?

You talk incessantly about sin and salvation, but conveniently ignore the command to "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
To which Ray responds: do you know that we didn't sell everything we had, came the the U.S., and gave to the poor (there are no 'poor' in New Zealand)?
Good question, Ray. How do we know? Our very own Raytractor, TheAceOfClubz, does a little web sleuthing to find out.
The expenditures for 2006 list fund raising receiving 1.2%, program services receiving 24.5%, and managerial and general receiving 74.1% of the 3 million spent. IMHO, if you are running a nonprofit and only 24% of your expenditures are going to the programs and services the org was created to address, and 74% are going to Managerial and General expenses, you're doin' it wrong.
Perhaps TheAceOfClubz could point out where they're doin' it wrong...
In 2006 Ray was compensated with $119,784. 120k!! I am working my ass off in college to become a chemical engineer. The average salary for a 20 yr veteran chem. eng. is only 100k. I can't believe that some mustached schmuck, hocking bible tracts marked up 137%, is earning more than I prospectively ever will.
But surely Ray needs that sort of compensation. After all, he has posted several times he lives in Bellflower, CA:
Ray lives in Bellflower, CA, a suburb of LA. By visiting LA's county assessor website I found out that Ray's house has been valued at a quarter of a million dollars. Additionally, I visited the LA Times real estate section and looked at some of the going rates for houses in his neighborhood. Even if he doesn't own the best house in town, he certainly lives in a nice neighborhood. I can only wonder, as I sit in my shabby 1 room apartment, where a man owning a 250k dollar 4 bedroom house can get the gall to act as though he is suffering for his faith.
Well, I guess you're right, Ray, for now. We don't know if you sold everything you had and then came here. But we can safely say that you aren't giving to the poor. A few nickels don't count when you have that sort of house. Jesus explained how you should give; I suggest you read your Bible, Ray.

I can't remember quite how it goes, but it's something along the lines of practicing what you're preaching...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kirk and Ray's Abysmal Ignorance

A Blog From Hell writes on how to deal with the abysmal ignorance of the likes of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, as we saw in their debate with the Rational Response Squad (where the crocoduck was spawned):
When Kirk Cameron first pulled out his crazy animal pictures, the "Crocoduck," "bullfrog" and "sheepdog," during the debate and claimed that "evolutionists had been searching for these animals for hundreds of years" I thought it would be part of some joke, but it wasn't. He was serious and he was telling a bald-faced lie (there are no scientists searching for those creatures and never had been). His joke had no punchline. Kelly and Brian seemed to watch in shock and horror, unable to comprehend Kirk's level of ignorance.
That fact [production of mules] might have been a better entry point into educating and communicating with Kirk and Ray. I say "might" because I don't know. Odds are nothing you could say would ever convince them because their reasons are are deeply emotional and not rational. I can only say the clues in that video clip tell me the three Christians all seem to have a comicbook misconception of evolution. You can only find out for sure by asking them more questions about evolution. You'll have to experiment with these things by getting out there in the chat-rooms and forums to argue with creationists and finding out for yourself what works and what doesn't.
Way too many Christians, however, have a childish comicbook ignorance of evolution. I think a lot of educated people would be shocked to find out how many. It's not just child actors and Christian home-school victims, high school biology itself seems to be failing to give people a basic knowledge of evolution.
It's a good thing he's just now getting to this debate, or else he'd have seen how deep the abyss of Ray's abysmal ignorance is, with such posts as Ray's acknowledgment of a species-to-species transition.

Seeming Absurdity: Monty Hall Problem

My passion above all else, including science and technology, is mathematics. I enjoy reading about it and I especially enjoy working with it. Luckily, it comes up a lot in my work as it is necessary to solve all sorts of complex problems.

Critical thinking is vital to being a good mathematician. You don't go with what seems to be true or what makes the most sense at first glance; you have to analyze. You have to take a deep look at the problem, see how all its part interrelate, and then, having identified everything, solve it using other solutions which have been previously proven. In this way, it works much like science.

There's a rather famous puzzle in mathematics called the Monty Hall problem which, sadly, not many get exposed to in their educations. You can solve it using complex probability formulas, or you can approach it using critical thinking. It came to mind regarding my Ray Comfort *Seems* to be Logical.

The Problem
You are on a game show where there are three doors presented to you. Behind one door is a car and behind the other two doors are goats. If you pick the door which has the car behind it, you win it; if you pick a door which has a goat behind it, you win nothing. The car and goats were randomly placed behind them before the show and the host, Monty Hall, knows which one has the car behind it.

You are asked to pick one of the three doors. Once you pick, it remains closed. Monty then opens one of the two remaining doors which you did not choose. The door he chooses must have a goat behind it. So, if the door you chose has a goat behind it, he will open the other door which has a goat behind it. If the door you chose has the car behind it, he will open one of the goat doors at random. Understand?

There are now two doors remaining: one with a goat and one with the car. You have already chosen one of the doors. Monty turns to you and asks: "Would you like to switch your choice to the other door?"

The problem: Is it (A) advantageous for you to switch your choice now, (B) disadvantageous for you to switch your choice now, or (C) neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to switch right now?

The Answer
(A) Yes, it is advantageous to switch. But why? The overwhelming majority of people answering this answer (C) as they think their odds are equal for all doors. It would seem that assessing the probability does not require considering the past.

The probability of you winning increases from 33% (1/3) to 67% (2/3). But why? The same doors are there, minus one. So, hasn't it just gone from 33% (one out of three) to 50% (one out of two)? Here's an explanation of it, using just critical thinking:

In the first stage (where you make your initial choice), the probability of you picking a car is 33% and the probability of you picking a goat is 67%. So, the probability of you guessing incorrectly is 67%.

In the intermediary stage, the host removes one of the losing doors.

In the second stage, the probability of you having picked the wrong door is still 67%. Therefore, since there are only two doors left, the probability of you being wrong decreases from 67% to 33%, if you switch.

Since the host knows where the goat is, he is guaranteed to eliminate the one with the goat behind it. As such, you have to take into consideration the past.

Recommend One Book

I posted a request at The Raytractors. I thought I would post it here along with the results, in case others have things to add:
If you are a Christian, recommend one book that you think all atheists should read. If you are an atheist, recommend one book that you think all Christians should read. Briefly describe why they should.

To the Christians: if you agree to read my recommended book, I will agree to read your recommended book.
Atheist Recommendations to Christians
Me: Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
Maragon: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Dr. Carl Sagan
Weemaryanne: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams
Nonmagical Thinking: Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman
MacGyver Jr: Evolution for Everyone by David Sloan Wilson
MacGyver Jr: Your Inner Fish by Neil Schubin (he cheated with a second one)
MacGyver Jr: Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller (he cheated again)
Lance Christian Johnson: Who is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan
Mjarsulic: Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
Mjarsulic: Asimov's Guide to the Bible
TripMaster Monkey: God's Debris, by Scott Adams
Rufus: Has Science Found God and God: The Failed Hypothesis by Victor Stenger
Andrew Louis: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Benjamin Franklin: Stranger In A Strange Land by Heinlein
Mudskipper: 101 things to do with your G/B friend or wife (website, another cheater :P)
Andrew Louis: Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
Andrew Louis: Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki
Andrew Louis: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
Pvblivs: Displaced Person by Eric Frank Russell

Christian Recommendation to Atheists
The one brave Christian soul over at The Raytractors:
Fourkid: The Robe by Lloyd C Douglas

If I could cheat and add another book, it would be a science book: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Yes, that book which Ray quote mines from in his header to show that Hawking believes in God. But since I can't cheat, I won't. :-)

Why I'm Obsessed With Ray Comfort

I'm not, per se. I find him to be quite humorous. The more I do this blog and contribute over at The Raytractors, the more humorous he becomes. When I find him posting on light being invisible, I enjoy it because I laugh. When I find him changing that post to the "essence" of light being invisible, I laugh harder. I then draw connections to a past event where he said science was ignorant of "atoms" until recently. Then when he was corrected on it that the science went back before the common era, he changes it to science was "mostly ignorant" of "atoms." I then tape up my side to prevent it from splitting open.

I find posting on Ray Comfort rather cathartic, as well. The depth of his dishonesty is highly entertaining. He quote mines Darwin, then admits he's quote mining Darwin, then continues to quote mine Darwin. He comes up with this bulletproof banana argument, he concedes the banana argument due to atheists pointing out that the banana was intelligently designed by man, he then continues to use it, and then he disavows it in any interview and says its because of the evil atheists who unscrupulously edited it to "make a monkey" out of him. I find all of this entertaining. It's especially entertaining when he quote mines someone and then at the end of the post puts something along the lines of: "just watch how the atheists are going to claim I quote mined!" It amuses me when he quote mines someone like Hawking, puts the source down, and all you have to do is follow the link to see how he took it out of context.

The only time Ray really irritates me is when he posts wildly false things about people like the Founders, or Einstein, or Hawking. He makes wild claims, like Einstein believed the Bible was the Word of God, or that Einstein believed humans were intelligently designed. No matter how much you can catch him up in his dishonesty of it, it angers me to see that being done. I find it tasteless and disrespectful. I also hate seeing him lead people astray with his anti-science, anti-intellectual posts on a number of items, especially evolution and the nature of science/scientific progress.

That's why I post on Ray Comfort. I will post on others when they come across my attention and haven't already been done by others, but I doubt they will be as entertaining as Ray Comfort. That is, unless his name is Dinesh D'Souza, in which case he posts all sorts of entertaining items, such as John Edwards and Liberal Virtue, which I decided to stay away due to its political nature.

Pvblivs has often posted that he wonders if Ray is serving an evil spirit in disguise. I don't. I often wonder if Ray is a stand-up comic in disguise.

"If a building requires a builder and a painting requires a painter, then..."
"Oh, here comes the punchline!"
"Creation requires a Creator."

Monday, August 11, 2008

AIGBusted Notices Ray's Book On Evolution

Over at Answers in Genesis busted, the author notes a recent visit to the bookstore where he notices Ray's new book on evolution (Evolution is a Fairy Tale for Grownups). Apparently, Ray trots out his classic tactics of quote mining (his only area of scientific expertise):
I was at the bookstore again today, and guess what I came across? Ray Comfort's new book about Evolution. I am now thoroughly convinced that the man is either dishonest to the core or insane. Every page was filled with nonsense, misquotes, and misinformation. What can only be described as intellectual violence was done to the ideas of the late Stephen Jay Gould. Comfort quotes him out of context to make it appear as if he said that wings could not evolve, yet a look at the referenced article shows that Gould was only describing the problem of evolving wings... Before illustrating a convincing model for wing evolution and how it had been scientifically tested.

Read on...

Did God Attack Me?

This morning I was shaving, preparing for a meeting with a client. I've been cutting my own hair for over a year now. I noticed my hair line was hanging down over my ear, so I decided to quickly trim it back, as I often do.

I was listening to a Christian podcast at the time on the CD player in the bathroom. As I'm trimming, someone unexpectedly breaks the monologue and screams "PRAISE JESUS!" I jumped.


Off goes a patch of hair about two inches in length.

If this were an attack, it was planned very well. I had to set my razor on the lowest possible setting and got to work shaving the rest of my hair down so that the patch wasn't noticeable. I get the top done, one side, and a patch in the back before the razor dies. I realized that I did not plug my razor back in when I returned from my trip recently.

So, now I have to go to my meeting in a hat. So now a new professional dilemma: do I wear my Firefox cap or my Google cap?

P.S. I realized I failed to finish the final case of the conclusion of the second part of the First Amendment series. I'll get that up today.

Update: I just realized I didn't hit post on this before I headed out this morning. I wore the Firefox cap ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

No Personal God, Personally

I usually don't reply to posts about the nature of God and other items aimed at specifically Christians, but I've been thinking about what Ray posted regarding God's obligation. He claims that a woman should not have blamed God for her boyfriend having been killed in a car accident -- God gave us life and we should appreciate that. If he intervenes and shows mercy, we should praise him for that. If he does not show mercy, we should not hold him responsible for that.

I am glad that I no longer live my life with that sort of mindset. Thinking that there is this omnipotent, omniscient God who loves us all and interacts with our world and chooses to intervene with some people and not with others. Just because he shows mercy to some does not mean he is merciful or deserves praise for it. We must also consider his withholding of mercy as well.

Consider: There is some horrible disease affecting the population. All who have it will suffer and die from it. I, however, have engineered a cure for it which only I possess. I have a near unlimited cache of it, more than enough to go around. Giving it to people simply requires them getting the pill.

Further, we might also consider, to make it a better analogy, that I was the one who first unleashed the horrible disease on the population. I did this because the population acted contrary to my desires. I had given the population many great advances, including medicinal, agricultural, and technological.

Are you, then, to call me merciful and benevolent if I arbitrarily only give it to some people and not to others? What of the people I don't give it to? Are you to simply say: "It was by his grace and wisdom that he has the cure which is so easily disseminated. He has no obligation to us, the man who had given us so much. If he chooses not to give the cure to some people, that is his will; his right to show or not show mercy, as it is 'unmerited.'"

What a terrible mindset one must be in to call someone merciful and benevolent who would withhold a cure for something which costs the person no money or time to disseminate. I am glad I am not of that mindset, personally.

Ray Comfort *Seems* to be Logical

Ray has now used two quotes by prominent biologists:
"Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree." Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
Despite being a fundamentalist atheist, I have read neither book. They were too dry for my liking and, besides, I'm much more passionate about physics. Even though I have never read The Origin of Species, I could still recite that passage from it by heart, almost in its entirety. It is the staple of quote mining and one of Ray's favorites.

I learned recently that Ray actually posted a note regarding this quote mine of Darwin:
Just a note to those of you who have been accusing me of being deceitful, because I have quoted Charles Darwin “out of context.” There’s really no need to get upset, because his admittance that believing that the eye could have happened by natural selection (by accident) “seems I freely confess absurd to the highest degree” doesn’t show that Darwin didn’t believe his own theory. He used the word “seems.” That’s his qualifier. Further on in his writings he said that he actually believed it.
Why do you put quotes around "out of context"? You quoted him "out of context" as it was a rhetorical statement setting up the discussion -- much like Hawking uses a rhetorical statement regarding God as a cause before discussing the self-containment of the universe.

But let's move on. Ray clearly acknowledges that Darwin was using the qualifier "seems." Further, he acknowledges that Darwin "actually" believes the eye evolved. So, the question is, then, why quote Darwin on it? Just because you have acknowledged it doesn't mean that you aren't being deceitful; on the contrary, it proves that you are. You cannot plead ignorance any longer.

Again, though, let's move on to the substance of this post: Darwin and Dawkins both saying that the complexity of organisms "seems" designed. Ray takes the statements so that he can respond, in part:
I can't help but wonder if Richard Dawkins is sometimes an embarrassment to the atheist world. Why would he admit that creation has an "appearance of having been designed for a purpose" (Intelligent Design) and yet deny that there is a Creator?
He then goes on to describe how an airplane seems designed and how foolish it would be to conclude that it wasn't:
A plane has an appearance of having been designed for a purpose. It has wings. They appear to have a purpose. The plane also has engines that give the appearance of being designed for a purpose. It has seating designed for the purpose of passengers, windows that are designed for passengers to look out of, and doors designed for passengers to enter and exit.

The whole plane has the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. So what sort of crazy-man would I be to say that the whole appearance of design was designed by no-one?
It is the nature of the universe, though, as we are discovering. Reality seems to operate differently than how it genuinely operates. The history of science attests to this:

1. The Sun seems/appears to rise in the east and set in the west, after which the moon makes an appearance. It seems that the Sun, like the Moon, orbits Earth. The heliocentric model, though, shows that this is not the case -- even though some creationists still claim the Sun orbits the Earth.
2. The idea that the Earth is spherical seems absurd. If the Earth is truly spherical, how come the people on the bottom of the Earth don't fall off? I wonder if, at some point, people had argued this.
3. Here's a big one: the idea that time is relative seems utterly absurd. This is something that I had initially rejected as ludicrous until I learned of the theory of relativity. We now understand that time is not absolute and constant; it is indeed relative. With the theory of relativity, we learn of such things as gravitational time dilation.
4. Another on the above: curvature of space. Curve your mind around that one.

Perhaps let's abandon scientific theories and let's go with one of Ray's favorites: the airplane. The idea of an object (An-225 Mriya) that weighs over half a million pounds seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. With the understanding of science, though, we understand it to be a reality.

Just because it seems absurd that things work a certain way and just because they appear to work a different way does not mean that they work that way: contrary to the evidence. Nothing so well supported, I don't think, seems more absurd than the theory of relativity. And just with the creationists who oppose the theory of evolution just because their Bible says life was created, there are the creationists who oppose the theory of relativity just because their Bible says the Earth is the center of the universe (or solar system). That seems logical.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

One Christian's Moral Moderation

One Christian, after being asked by an atheist to have a discussion at the atheist's blog, supposedly writes:
I know most my comments there will be blocked thats why I would rather do it here I have to be honest and I will be but I know how atheists are with stuff like they they have no reason to be honest. So you see its best done here I have my morals and I must be honest and post both sides.
This brings up an interesting question for him. I will pose it here on my blog, as the one comment I have made on his site has yet to get through moderation.

From your comment we are to suppose that Christians posting on atheist sites is futile as atheists don't have any morals and therefore have no reason to be honest. You haven't claimed that atheists can't be honest, you have merely claimed that atheists don't have to be honest as they have no reason.

Further, from your comment, we are to suppose that Christians must be honest. Therefore, it is not futile for atheists to post on Christian blogs, or at least your Christian blog, as Christians must be honest and post both sides.

Here's a problem for you, though. We have documented evidence of Ray being dishonest with his blog. He unscrupulously edits, he prevents certain dissenting comments from going through, he makes posts and then deletes them, etc. Clearly, being a Christian doesn't mean he must be honest and post both sides.

And surely, we know of other Christians who have been dishonest. Just in personal experience, I recently started commenting over at Debunking Atheists and the author, Dan, continually deleted my comments after he responded to them so that only his side was seen and not mine. (If you're curious of what the last comment in the image to the left is: I asked why he was continually deleting my comments, and he responded: Because I can...)

So, then, we aren't to expect you to be any more honest than atheists in posting both sides just because you're a Christian.

I'll get the standard Christian response to this out of the way:

They weren't true Christians.
Yes, the No True Scotsman fallacy. Let's go ahead and accept it, though. They weren't true Christians... they were false Christians.

Dan and Ray both, though, claim to be true Christians and also call other Christians (such as Catholics) not true Christians. So, even though they claimed to be true Christians -- so that they had to be honest -- they were, presumably, not true Christians and were therefore not honest.

This doesn't resolve the trust problem with you, though, anonymous Christian blogger. You, presumably, also claim to be a true Christian and therefore you must be honest (as you claim). But if they weren't true Christians, although they claimed to be, how do I know that you are a true Christian? Are you anymore believable than they?

So, again, why should I trust you to be honest in your moderation just because you claim to be a true Christian who cannot be dishonest? For all I know you are a dishonest, immoral, rude atheist claiming to be a true Christian.

I am unconvinced of your incontrovertible honesty. Perhaps a step forward would be to do as I, a dishonest and amoral atheist, and turn moderation off and make a policy not to delete comments to earn some sort of credibility -- just like in the real world.

Why I Love Atheists, Part I

Drumroll, please. I have finally finished my backlog of blog posts. Alright, not all of them, but almost half. While the 100+ Friendly Atheist posts liked to have killed me, it was good nonetheless. I thought, perhaps, I would highlight why I love atheists, based on this blogathon. Consider this your Rational Sabbath back-taxes...

I love the Amiable Atheist because, well, she's just so darn amiable. She went on a holy crusade against the profane atheists as well as a holy crusade for the proselytizing atheists. Could she be an amiable Christian in disguise? Methinks so.

I love the Atheist Blogger because he lives up to his blog's title (unlike me)... he's an atheist who blogs. He hosts a book discussion, which I'm joining this month, and when he is wrong about something, he doesn't simply delete the post like Ray, he posts an explanation of how he was wrong. He also ventures out into non-atheist areas where I disagree with him, such as the death penalty. He intelligently designed that post so that I wouldn't have to be a sheep that agrees with everything he writes.

I love Of Microbes and Men because it's by a microbiologist who gets educated by Ray's minions about the fairy tale of evolution. He saves me from having to troll YouTube for Creationists Gone Wild type videos. He also focuses on different aspects of Ray's posts than I think to. His post count decreased this week making it easier on me, so I love him for that, too.

I love Heathenz because the author k3vin is a heathen... I'm big on blogs living up to their titles. First, he's a heathen when it comes to religion. He posts some creationist quotes from FSTDT, which is always the hallmark sign of a heathen. And when he's not posting on the silly antics of Ray Comfort, he's posting on the silly antics of Chuck Colson and why he uses religious words. Second, he's, like me, a computer scientist heathen -- scientific proof that he's awesome. He claims to have neglected his holy pursuit of PHP, though, in favor of Java. That makes him a heretic and a heathen -- the bad kind of heretic and heathen. He, like Clos, though, seems to be disappearing faster than the bees. PHP's punishment for the Java heathen? I think so.

I love the Friendly Atheist because, well, he's friendly. He's not an angry atheist, so he's compatible sitting next to my Amiable Atheist feed. He posts on many things you do not find elsewhere, as well as stories about him being a friendly atheist. In the 31 posts he makes a week, he finds time to give me a shout out.

I love Kafir Girl because she's a kafir, which I have learned translates to unbeliever (or vile fiend who doeth no good). She reads the Qur'an for me so that I don't have to. Since I am reading it anyway, it makes for nice commentary. Without her, I don't know if I could make my way through all the prostration of Allah to himself.

I love flinging dust because she... well... flung herself as dust off the face of the Flat Earth while I was gone. I wonder if she will return as "hurling particles"?

I love Just my thoughts because, when he's not posting on evolution, they're just my thoughts, too.

I love Pharyngula. While desecrating all things that are sacred (including from King Dawkins), he summons metaphorical demons to trigger a witch hunt.

I love Kill the Afterlife as Aaron's goal of killing the afterlife is a noble profession for any professing atheist. He notes the lack of gay deaths when God's wrath descended upon California after smiting Reverend Wright.

I love The Seeker because, unlike the seer, he actually finds stuff. He updates his "list of creationist failures" with the Expelled viral video. He also notes Kirk and Ray's lying for Jesus DVD. When he's not posting on Dembskism, he is waving his arms to get PZ to notice him... and then having Pharynguphiles crash his blog.

I love Evolved and Rational as he uses his blog entries to prove that he is both evolved and rational. In addition to taking on Bible-based science like creationism, he also takes on the Bible-based science of flat-earth.

I love the Atheist Revolution because it's a revolution against irrationality and extremism. Christians invading people's privacy who are trying to go to a porn store? That's covered. Anti-atheist bigotry? That's covered. You may have missed that evolution was disproven last month. That was also covered. That'll show the EVILutionists!

I love God is for Suckers! because he fails to realize that atheism is for suckers! Doesn't he know we atheists should be glad that we aren't killed for our beliefs in the US? Doesn't he realize that church-state separation is responsible for our education problems? Doesn't he realize that if even a 6-year-old knows that abortion is a sin, there's no excuse for no one else thinking it's not? Obviously not, as he got the blog title wrong. Sucker.

To be continued...

Stargate SG-1 & Atheism

In a recent post over at The Raytractors asking for Christian and atheist book recommendations, nonmagical thinking comments concerning Stargate SG-1:
My husband loves Stargate [SG-1], but I've never seen a single episode. I'm always reading while he's watching. I asked him what was so great about it and he said 'I know you. You'd hate it'.
And nonmagical thinking has the gall to call herself an atheist? She is hereby excommunicated, and here's why...

What's So Great About Stargate SG-1?
As a scifi fan, I started watching Stargate SG-1. After having completed the series, I started studying more of science and also religion, and I began to appreciate it more and more. It explores a lot of scientific areas and, if you know the science behind it, it illuminates it. What's even greater about it, though, is the overly religious theme to the entire show.

I will try not to give specific, identifiable plots below so as not to spoil it for anyone. I will give you just the basic premise and some examples.

Stargate SG-1 is about a military team in present-day Earth (comprised of two military people, an archaeologist, and an alien) who explores distant planets using a device called a stargate which establishes wormholes between it and another stargate.

Millenia ago, a parasitic race called the Goa'uld (pronounced many different ways, most simply "ghouled") came to Earth and began harvesting humans and transplanting them on distant worlds. They were a very advanced race as they were technological scavengers. They possess technology and understanding of the universe which is centuries, perhaps millenia, ahead of where we are at now. The Goa'uld themselves are snake-like parasites which take humans as hosts and are then able to control the human body as if it were there own. They have supernatural like characteristics in the body, though, like glowing eyes, a bizarre voice, and super strength.

Once on Earth, they posed as gods over the various cultures. Whether they took the existing gods and posed as them or their personas were documented after-the-fact is never made quite clear. Apparently, though, they took the existing religions and posed as certain deities. For example, some of the Goa'uld invaded the Egyptian culture and posed as some of their gods, such as Ra, Apophis, Hathor, Isis, etc.

Given that the Goa'uld had technology and understanding millenia and millenia more advanced than them, they truly did appear to be all powerful gods. They did not age (due to using an invented healing device called the sarcophagus), they armed their guards with energy weapons, they flew ships, they were able to transport themselves on beams of lights, etc.

Posing as gods, they are able to make slaves of humanity and make them worship them on various worlds. On some planets, the worlds themselves become lost, or perhaps the stargate becomes lost, and so the god never returns to their planet. Nonetheless, the religion imposed by the Goa'uld carries on there, with just as much pomp and superstition as religion in our society.

Over the course of the show, you learn more and more about the Goa'uld and them posing as gods. You do, though, meet other aliens who are even far more advanced.

The absolute, most advanced alien race on the show are the Ancients. The Ancients were an evolution of humans which preceded even our evolutionary line. They advanced beyond anything imaginable. They built the stargate system, they were able to accomplish time travel, they could create life, they could heal bodies with just their touch, etc. They were highly evolved.

At one point, the Ancients evolved the point where they no longer needed their bodies and were able to exist as pure energy (though, they interfered with their own evolution to get to this point). They were said to have "ascended" to a higher plane of existence.

On this higher plane of existence, their knowledge of the universe is staggering. They understand the universe as, in a way, they are the universe. They aren't omniscient or omnipotent, but we, as humans couldn't tell the difference. They can appear in any form they want, they aren't bound by the laws of physics (as we understand them), they can manipulate the weather, they can manipulate matter in general, they can cause other people to ascend after their deaths, they can enter humans' minds, etc.

By our definition, they wouldn't be gods; however, they are mostly benevolent, just choosing not to interfere in the lower planes of existence. The Ancients, before they became the Ascended, had an internal fracture and broke off from a dissenting faction. This faction ascended as well in a galaxy far away and became known as the Ori.

The Ori did choose to interfere in the lower planes of existence and demanded people to worship them. Why? Because if people believed they were gods, they could use parts of their worshipers mind to enhance their power. So, the more believers, the more powerful they become. The more Ori, though, the less power there is to go around.

The Ori wrote a holy book called Origin. In this, it is much like the Bible. It has accounts of history, descriptions of the Ori, allegories, prophecies, etc. They promise to their followers that, whoever shall believe in them, will live with the Ori forever. The Ori, though, desire power and, as such, they don't make good on their promises. The people die and stay dead -- they do not ascend. Of course, as humans with limited understanding and knowledge, they don't know this. The only reason that SG-1 knows this is by discussing it with the ascended ancients in our galaxy.

Stargate SG-1 & Atheism
It is a very critical thinking-oriented show. It makes you think not just about science, but also about religion. In the case of the Ori and the Ancients, how can we possibly know they are not gods? If they were to appear to us and demonstrate their power, we would not be able to tell if they are gods or simply highly evolved beings.

In the case of the Ori, this is disastrous. They have written a holy book for their people and confiscate their lives by having the people worship them and believe in them for the promise of life everlasting. Furthermore, the Ori wage a war on humanity in our galaxy. Once they know of the humans in our galaxy, they must have more power by gaining more believers. As such, the priests of the Ori go to different worlds in our galaxy preaching from Origin and gain more and more believers. As they gain more believers, they become ever more powerful.

In the case of the Goa'uld, this is an evolved race of aliens who have taken human civilizations over by posing as the gods of our religions. Could you imagine an evolved alien such as the Goa'uld or Ori coming to Earth and demonstrating their advanced technology, pretending to be Jesus? Instant slaves.

Not only is it a great show about religion, not only is it a great show about science, but it is a great show all around. Science, religion, action, fighting, drama... it's great. The storylines are great and all the episodes make you think. There's a reason the show was on for ten years and had two movies (third being discussed) and a spinoff that has lasted five years. It's amazing.

I rest my case. Back to watching the season finale of the second season of Stargate SG-1. It's one where you question the reality you wake up in :-)

Friday, August 8, 2008

PZ Is a Chicken: WDAY Responds

This is an update to Epic Evidence of Ray's Dishonesty. It provides further evidence and commentary:

As pasted in the link above, I sent Ben and Jim (the hosts) at WDAY an email inquiring about whether or not they had informed him. They kindly responded today and told me I could reproduce it on any blogs where discussion about Ray's comment is taking place:
For why we decided to change formats, we came to the conclusion that being we are a caller driven show, while having both Mr. Comfort and Dr. Myers on at the same time would be entertaining, neither would have been able to fully develop their respective positions, or take many questions from callers. We decided this Monday afternoon. We attempted contacting Mr. Comfort, with no success, and when I spoke to Dr. Myers he was gracious enough to move his interview to Wednesday morning. We sent several emails to Mr. Comfort (actually his assistant) with the changes to the format, and the emails were eventually responded to.

It is possible, however, that the information in the emails to Mr. Comfort’s assistant was not passed in full to Mr. Comfort. It is also possible that one of the emails we sent to Mr. Comfort’s assistant was lost due to the problems we’ve experienced here with our email server this week (which has been an absolute nightmare). This could account for the misinformation that Mr. Comfort is stating on his blog (or wherever he is posting it, I have not looked at your links yet). I will email his assistant this afternoon and try to straighten this out.
We learn a few things from this:
  1. Here the hosts clearly indicate, for a second time, that the change of format was their request.
  2. The change was made a day before the appearance... not at the last moment, as Ray claimed.
  3. The emails sent to Ray on Monday were eventually responded to, so he knows that the change was the station's request and also done a day ahead of time.
When a Christian commenter to his blog demanded to know if PZ or Ray was lying about whose idea it was for the change, Ray responds:
Patti...Ten minutes before the debate, the station called and said that the debate was off, and that it would just be me being interviewed. I wasn't given any explanation at all. It was strange.
I have two points of commentary to bring this to a close:

Calling the hosts liars.
Rufus, in his reply to the above, noted accurately:
Ray, which as I said is 100% irrelevant to the substance of the appearance by Dr. Myers. If you were duped in any way it was by the station and not by PZ.
Ray acknowledges that he was informed ten minutes before the interview (and then subsequently acknowledges the emails). He then decides that, with the station telling him that they had to change the format, he should baselessly accusing PZ of chickening out? Let's reread his initial comments:
you mean the guy who was a no-show at the last moment. He was supposed to debate me. I wonder why he didn't show up? Do I smell chicken?
Nonetheless, whenever a reader writes that it was the station's idea to change the format and then another poster actually posts the producer's announcement of why they changed it, Ray simply replies:
Not only does he call PZ a liar that it was the show's idea to change it, he calls the show itself liars. The host, who was nothing but courteous to Ray, is a liar by Ray's book. The claim is either that:
  1. PZ requested the change, or
  2. The station requested the change.
Both PZ and the station said that it was #2. Ray, though, continues to say that it was #1, even after having both PZ's and the station's comments pointed out to him.

Why is PZ even afraid?
Let's not forget the accusation, though: PZ chickened out as he was afraid to discuss evolution with Ray Comfort. PZ's field is evolutionary developmental biology, and has a PhD in biology. And we're supposed to believe that PZ chickened out debating Ray, a person with no formal education in biology, on biology and intelligent design?

What was Ray's one and only proof of intelligent design? The Creation implies a Creator canard:
I say, "When you look at a painting, how do you know absolutely that there was a painter?" Well, you'll say, "The painting exists. Paintings don't happen by themselves."

When you look at a building, how do you know 100% that there was a builder? Well, the building is absolute proof there was a builder. You cannot have a building without a builder.

And Creation is 100% absolute proof that there was a Creator. You cannot have a Creation without a Creator.
I destroyed his one and only proof of intelligent design in two paragraphs:
He has defined the universe to be creation. Creation is "something that is or has been created." From this, he concludes God exists, because he created the universe... which he had just asserted to be created.

This is the essence of circular logic. His premise, that the universe was created, requires as much proof as proving there is a Creator. The conclusion that there is a Creator, in this argument, is contingent on the universe being created, which he simply asserted as a premise.
I, some random blogging, computer scientist with only a high school education in biology, utterly destroyed his one and only argument. And we're supposed to think that PZ, a man with a PhD in biology and a celebrity in the evolution-creation public controversy, chickened out because he couldn't do the same? He couldn't destroy the "you can't create a cow from nothing" or "a cat doesn't give birth to dogs" arguments? Really?


.... Really?

DisComforting Logic: Straw Man

I have proposed a new Raytractors project over at our blog. The goal of this series is to educate people on various logical fallacies using some argument or statement by Ray Comfort as the example. I have chosen this one as it is, yet another, one listed in Ray's new Atheist Starter Kit.

Logical Fallacy: Straw Man
Type: Informal
Source: WDAY Interview
Straw man is a very common logical fallacy where you make a version of your opponent's argument which superficially resembles it -- often as an overstatement or a caricature -- and then attribute it to your opponent. You then refute the created straw man argument in place of your opponent's argument.
Ray's Statement/Argument
Click on the Source above to listen to the clip of this transcript.
Everything has to start with something. Evolutionists say there was nothing that created everything. Well that can't be. That's scientifically ludicrous. In the beginning there had to be something, and I say that something was the spirit of God who was immaterial. HE created material. He created this creation.
Summary of Statement/Argument
Evolution states that nothing created everything.
Nothing which is now in existence which wasn't in existence at one point could not have come into existence by itself.
Therefore, evolution is false.
This is an extreme caricature of evolution. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with evolution. Evolution, as it relates to the history of life, states that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor/gene pool. While the origin of life is, obviously, a necessary precursor for evolution, evolutionary theory deals with how the organisms which appeared developed over time. Origin of life is abiogenesis.

Ray's argument seems a more straw for the big bang model; however, here he has attributed it to evolution. If he truly is speaking of the evolution of the universe (which, since the topic was intelligent design, it is unlikely), this is also a straw man. The big bang does not describe anything "before" the big bang. It is a well supported cosmological model of the universe which describes the "evolution" of the universe from an initial condition of infinite density and temperature. It does not state that something was created from nothing, nor "in the beginning, there was nothing, and then it exploded."

Example of Similar Straw Man
Ray argues that first there was nothing, and then God created himself so that he could create creation. But that's ludicrous! You can't have nothing and then have something -- namely an infinite something. That's scientifically impossible.

While this satisfies a straw man argument, I will elaborate even further on this, though, just to make it more interesting (a modified excerpt of The Theist Test). This is about as big of a caricature of creationism as Ray's "nothing created everything" is a caricature of evolutionary theory.

Ray argues that:
Six to ten thousand years ago a human named Jesus popped into existence from nothing and opened a human being factory. The skin and internal meaty parts, including the organs, were made in a laboratory in the back where giant vats were filled to the brim with dust. On the first part of the manufacturing line, a plastic torso mold was lined with skin and filled with the meaty parts for the abdomen and torso. Once that solidified, it passed down to where the legs were bolted to my torso as well as the arms. The head was then fastened to the neck and the head meaty parts were filled in. Once it all solidified, my personality software was loaded in and out I came.

That's ludicrous! I was born over two decades ago after my parents had sexual intercourse which resulted in my biologically growing in my mother's womb for nine months.
Summary of Similar Logical Fallacy
Creationism states that God created himself.
Nothing which is now in existence which wasn't in existence at one point could not have come into existence by itself.
Therefore, creationism is false.

Ray, Open Your Eyes

Ray said on his WDAY appearance that claiming there is no evidence of God is like trying to point out the Sun to a man who has his eyes closed.

Ray's blindness to evolution, though, is even more profound than the man who has his eyes closed to the Sun. The Sun is only visible for half a day. The evidence of evolution, though, is visible all day long via the Internet. No transitional fossils? No progress since Darwin? No observed instances of species-to-species transformation? Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution?

Ray, open your eyes! If you want to take the evidence of evolution and then continue to say evolution is false, go ahead and do that -- as you did with light being invisible. But at least take the evidence of evolution. Could you please point to the passage in the Bible that says it's not okay for someone to lie, unless his name is Ray Comfort? Or the passage that lying for Jesus isn't lying? Your credibility is destroyed by your countless documented instances of dishonesty.

And we're supposed to take your blog to be Atheist Central? While many atheists descend on it trying to inject truth and rationality, perhaps it is more aptly named Ignorance Central. It is your one stop shop for justifying ignorance. You creationists who lie and say there is no evidence for evolution and the big bang are no better than your fellow creationists who lie and say there is no evidence for the theory of relativity or the heliocentric model -- all because you have a book written by men who lived in a time millenia before the rise of modern science, much less classical antiquity.

DisComforting Logic: Circular Reasoning

I have proposed a new Raytractors project over at our blog. The goal of this series is to educate people on various logical fallacies using some argument or statement by Ray Comfort as the example. I have chosen this one as it is one listed in Ray's new Atheist Starter Kit.

Logical Fallacy: Circular Reasoning aka Begging the Question
Type: Informal
Source: WDAY Interview
Begging the question is an argument where a conclusion is based on a premise which needs as much to be proved as the conclusion itself. Moreover, in circular logic the proposition you are attempting to prove is assumed somewhere in the premises for the conclusion.
Ray's Statement/Argument
Click on the Source above to listen to the clip of this transcript.
You talked about there not being proof [for Intelligent Design creationism]. I think there is absolute scientific 100% evidence for Intelligent Design. Absolutely. And that is you cannot, it is impossible, to have a Creation without a Creator. And I've seen atheists and evolutionists backslide, change their beliefs with this one thought:

I say, "When you look at a painting, how do you know absolutely that there was a painter?" Well, you'll say, "The painting exists. Paintings don't happen by themselves."

When you look at a building, how do you know 100% that there was a builder? Well, the building is absolute proof there was a builder. You cannot have a building without a builder.

And Creation is 100% absolute proof that there was a Creator. You cannot have a Creation without a Creator.
Summary of Statement/Argument
Creation implies a Creator.
Suppose the universe was created.
Therefore there was a Creator.
At face value, there is no problem with his logic. Buildings imply builders; paintings imply painters; creations imply creators. However, the circular logic occurs when he tries to conclude that the universe was created.

He has defined the universe to be creation. Creation is "something that is or has been created." From this, he concludes God exists, because he created the universe... which he had just asserted to be created.

This is the essence of circular logic. His premise, that the universe was created, requires as much proof as proving there is a Creator. The conclusion that there is a Creator, in this argument, is contingent on the universe being created, which he simply asserted as a premise.

Q: "How do you know there is a God?"
A: "Because he created the universe."
Q: "How do you know he created the universe?"
A: "Because universe is creation [something that has been created]." "
Q: "How do you know the universe was created?"
A: "Because God created it. Creation requires a creator!"

Example of Similar Circular Reasoning
You talked about there not being proof for evolution. I think there is absolute scientific 100% evidence for evolution -- without even needing to crack open the volumes of science literature on it. Absolutely. And that is you cannot, it is impossible, to have evolved beings without an evolutionary process. And I've seen Christians and creationists backslide, change their beliefs with this one thought:

I say, "When you look at a painting, how do you know absolutely that there was a painting process?" Well, you'll say, "The painting exists. Paintings don't happen by themselves."

When you look at a building, how do you know 100% that there was a building process? Well, the building is absolute proof there was a building process. You cannot have a building without a building process.

And evolved beings are 100% absolute proof that there was an evolutionary process. You cannot have evolved beings without evolution.
Summary of Similar Logical Fallacy
Evolved beings imply a evolution.
Suppose the beings evolved.
Therefore there was evolution.
See Also
Ray Proved Evolution
Potential Law Skirt
An Eternal Farce

Atheist Finsher Kit

I was going to post a response to the laudable laughable Atheist Starter Kit, but then realized my fellow atheists people who pretend there is no God already beat me to the punch, many times over:
Perhaps, I'll do a Strawman Starter Kit and put it in the right hand side.

(See the time for this post? I think it's a sign from God.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Epic Evidence of Ray's Dishonesty

You can now refer to DisComforting Ignorance's Annals of Ray's Dishonesty -- now with thirteen entries since this blog's inception.

A reader writes:
Ray, I'm sensing you were either too lazy or too scared to listen to Dr. Myers' turn on the radio.

If not why haven't you responded?
To this, Ray replies:

[ mean the guy who was a no-show at the last moment. He was supposed to debate me. I wonder why he didn't show up? Do I smell chicken? Afraid of banana man :).]
This is regarding his and PZ's recent appearances on WDAY.

The Timeline
August 1: PZ announces that he and Ray will be debating intelligent design on WDAY.
August 4: PZ announces that the format of the show has been changed.
August 4: The producer comments on the change of format.
August 5: PZ posts a running commentary of Ray's appearance.
August 5: Ray appears on WDAY.
August 6: PZ appears on WDAY.
August 7: Ray claims PZ was a "chicken" and a "no-show at the last moment."

At first, I wanted to give Ray the benefit of the doubt... perhaps he wasn't informed that the producer changed the format to have PZ on the next day. Reason and evidence (those pesky things), however, reveal that's not the case.

The Reason
Let's assume Ray was not informed that the format of the show changes. He shows up or calls in to the station ahead of time to check in and waits to be brought on. Assuming the station had not notified him yet, are we to believe they didn't inform him then? Further, that he didn't make any comments to the station about the debate or about PZ's whereabouts?

Let's assume further, then, that neither of that took place. The station failed to notify him a day ahead of time -- even though they obviously notified PZ at least a day ahead of time -- and they failed to notify him when he showed up/called in and he did not make any comments about the debate or PZ which would have caused the station to reveal he was not there, and why. Okay, let's assume that's the case. Assuming that, are we then to believe that, during the course of the entire show, he didn't ask "Hey, where is PZ?" Assuming even that, are we to believe, further, that once the show was concluded, he didn't as "Hey, where was PZ?"

And, after all that, he did not even contact the station about it? Reason says: no.

The Evidence
#1: Towards the end of the show after hanging up with a paleontologist, the host says:
By the way we got another guy on tomorrow about this and he's gonna be talking about maybe the other side of it, so we'll have to see. (click here for excerpted audio portion)
So, the host announces PZ (or, at least, "the other side") on the show that Ray is on. Even if we were to assume that Ray had not even been informed yet, the host announces right then that he'd be on the next day.

But there's no reason even to assume that Ray had not been informed yet...

We don't need to rely on reason here, though, as we have evidence of it. PZ was notified ahead of time. So, did they choose to notify PZ ahead of time and not Ray? The producer of the show commented on the change of plans: (emphasis added on selection)
Hello, this is the producer for Ben and Jim in the Morning, the show that was going to have the Ray Comfort/PZ Myers debate. After looking over the responses to Dr. Myers' announcement of the change of plans, I thought I would make a short post answering some of the questions.

Posts numbers 2&8: The decision to change formats from a debate to two separate segments was made this afternoon by myself and the hosts of the show, Ben and Jim. We decided that given the short time available, neither side would be able to construct much in the way of arguments for their respective positions, and it would ultimately be fairer to both sides to give them their own segment to make their case.

As for Mr. Comfort going first, Comfort has a very tight schedule, and Dr. Myers was able to re-schedule easier than Mr. Comfort was. Mr. Comfort will be on the show at ~10:06am CT Tues., Aug. 5th, and Dr. Myers will be on ~10:06am CT Weds., Aug. 6th, each for 20-30 minutes.

We apologize that plans were changed at the last minute, but we still invite you to listen to both Mr. Comfort's and Dr. Myers' respective segments.
Here he indicates that they gave them both the opportunity to re-schedule and PZ had the ability to.

#3: I have contacted the station with Ray Comfort's comments. If and when they reply back to the following message, I will make another post about it:
I understand the original format was to have them both on together (link). PZ informed us that the format had changed (Ray made no mention of it either way beforehand). Ray is now claiming on his blog that PZ Myers ducked out at the last moment on the day he was supposed to be there as he was a chicken. Ray said the following (link): mean the guy [Dr. Myers] who was a no-show at the last moment. He was supposed to debate me. I wonder why he didn't show up? Do I smell chicken? Afraid of banana man :).
Could you please comment on this to clear it up? You informed PZ of the change at least a day ahead of time (link). Did you fail to inform Ray Comfort that you had changed the format of the show, or if you did inform him, when? He is apparently claiming that PZ chickened out at the last moment. Was Ray not informed at all, either before or after the show, or is he misrepresenting the truth?