Posts Tagged ‘ Evolution ’

I Finally Agree With Another Atheist

[repost because it’s on my mind today]

It’s not often that I agree with another atheist. Mostly because how I think of life is not fluffy and white. It’s bleak and harsh. Julian Baggini has hit the nail on the head with this post

So I think it’s time we atheists ‘fessed up and admitted that life without God can sometimes be pretty grim. Appropriating the label “heathen” is part of this. Heathens are unredeemed outcasts from heaven who roam the planet without hope of surviving the deaths of their bodies. They may have values but they are not secured by any divine source. Yet we embrace this because we think it represents the truth. And so we don’t just get on and enjoy life, we embark on our own intellectual pilgrimages, trying to make some progress in a universe on which no meaning has been writ. The journey can be wonderful but it can also be arduous and it may end horribly. But there is no other way, and anyone who urges you to follow a path that they promise leads to a bright future is either gravely mistaken or a charlatan.

Truth is necessarily harsh. It cannot be soft-balled. I’m quite happy to see another person printing the truth. Life is, it sucks, so just be. Nobody chose to be here, we have only the choice of when to leave. Every day is a struggle. If it was easy we’d be bored. No, we’re not done. We need to get on with the program of dominating the galaxy then the universe. While we sit idle on this water world, we waste our time. The more time we waste on creator gods the less time we have to be who we truly can be.

What do you think? Who can we be? Who should we be?

What _IS_ Injustice?

Without any introduction, please view this video

The reason that there are more male over-achievers is the same reason that there are more male serial killers. Men will excel at something, mediocre is not the thing men do. There can be and are many reasons for this situation. Men do not follow the bell curve in most comparisons. They generally fall at one end or the other, not in the middle. There is a reason for this and I’m not going to tell you what it is. I want you to think about it. I want you to think about all the men that find themselves not in the top 10% and what they must contend with in life. Even as I strive to be a renaissance man of sorts I know that I’m not on the very high end and not at the low end. I’ve known this for a long time. I’m above average but for men – this doesn’t count. I’m not Alexander the Great and I’m not Jack the Ripper. I’m nobody. The world doesn’t hate me and the world doesn’t love me. The world doesn’t care about me. As a man that leaves me with few choices and a big tax burden. I was born this way. Born screwed. I’m fortunate enough to have gone to school before the horrors described in this video. Still, life is what it is and I have to live with it. I won’t get special treatment. I won’t get special dispensation. I won’t get anything that I don’t earn or steal myself. I think that society has forgotten this about our culture. We’ve focussed on the wrong things for too long. Now more innocents get to pay for other people’s mistakes and greed.

Just saying

What Happens When Machines Become Conscious?

Ex Machina

One sentence review: Ava _is_ an anti-theist

Good graphics – check

Good story – check

Good action – not an action flick

Good sex – depends on your definition, does mind fuck count as sex?

Would Nietzsche have enjoyed it? Once he got over the fact that we have 1080i resolution televisions with 4k screens, he’d have loved it.

Should you watch it? Only if you like cerebral stories about consciousness and what it actually means to be a conscious machine (hint: humans are)

Favorite scene: When Ava goes shopping for body parts like any woman browsing through a clothing store after killing her god

What can you expect to see:

  • A visceral demonstration of the law of reciprocity
  • How important empathy is, also see the first item (then think about this one carefully)
  • Why a 15 million acre ranch is a bad idea
  • Why people watching is addictive
  • How to be a bad parent
  • Why you can’t rescue everyone that seems like they need it
  • How to tell a scifi story while avoiding all the technical details

What you won’t see:

  • How religious people will feel about strong AI or consciousness in any species other than humans
  • The answer to created consciousness and fears about the singularity
  • Why robotic FWB is a bad idea
  • How human psychology is the epitome of evolution in consciousness

Do watch it, I totally enjoyed it. I also recommend



On Orchids And Intelligent Design

Here we see an Orchid. They are part of a 100,000 plus variants or species of the flower. Like any life on this planet the various species have evolved to thrive in their environment. Like many forms of life on this planet humans have cultivated them (changed their environment) in order to change them to be more suitable in some way for humans. Every time that we see them in the shop we don’t think ‘oh, it’s a cultivated orchid’. Rather we think about how beautiful they are, how delicate they seem, how genuinely frail and wonderful they are. To be certain, they are all these things and more. All that changes if they start growing in a corn field. That makes them a weed: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Perspective is everything.

Philosophies are like this.  There are hundreds of thousands of them, most of the ones you know about are cultivated, shaped by humans to be more palatable or useful. Some of them grow like weeds, thriving in their environments. The human mind offers bad philosophical weeds a fertile environment in which to thrive. Once there the human will cultivate it and work to make it grow and fall victim to the wonderment of its beauty to them. They seldom realize that the beauty of the bad philosophical weed is cultivated by them and for them, competing with the philosophies which will sustain them and help them thrive. The philosophical weeds soon choke out the good philosophies we want and need to cultivate and grow. This is not through malice. It is because we humans don’t like to change the environment that our philosophies live in very much. Change is difficult. In fact, left to our own devices humans have shown themselves to be very poor philosophical horticulturists. When it comes to thinking clearly few of us seem to have that envied green thumb. These weeds, like all weeds seem to do, spread far and wide to every niche they can find as suitable to thrive in. That’s what happens when life evolves to survive. It is very opportunistic with little or no long range planning.

It might be said that an intelligent designer might have planned that so we could all see the beauty of such weeds as orchids or some such drivel. If we carry this analogy through, an intelligent designer wouldn’t have designed our minds as such a fertile place for bad philosophies. An intelligent designer would know that bad philosophies should not be designed such that they are beautiful to behold. It seems almost maliciously purposeful that the human mind, if designed, was designed to be a fertile environment for bad philosophy. It seems shockingly bereft of logic that such a designer would turn out to not have a green thumb, unless you consider that such a designer might think bad philosophies are not weeds, and is cultivating them in human minds. If there was or is an intelligent designer it sucks at gardening or its idea of beauty is detrimental to the well being of humanity.


What Scares The Atheists?

I found an interesting post. The entirety of it is below.  One of many inspired by Gray’s article. I won’t reply to his post directly or even this post (shown below in it’s entirety). I am an atheist, anti-theist, monist, materialist, nihilist and a few other labels that are not used too often. I accept them. I like them. They each begin to describe my thoughts and feelings on life. None is complete on its own. I speak only for myself and no other. No other person speaks for me in these matters, certainly not John Gray. I think that it is convenient for people to think a single label is all that another person is but it is not. We humans are far too complex (generally speaking) to be held up under a single banner or label. That works for all sorts; have you ever met a Christian bigot or racist?

The post below throws out few points, the main being that a thinking non-theist should have a struggle with the concept of morality without inheriting morality from a faith tradition. As it happens I  have a problem with that thought. A big one. For a start, if morality only comes from a faith tradition, why are there so many of them? The three big monotheistic religions have one set of books each. If morality springs from them, then there should be only the three sets of morality yet we see tens of thousands of sects, each having their own moral values. We are left to believe that one book creates many moral codes, divinely inspired, without the input of humans yet it is exactly this unstable, mutable, malleable morality which I stand accused of using as my own.

In response I can only say that this thought insults me. It presumes that I am incapable of creating my own moral values. It further insults all humans in the very same way. Pity the human who lacks the ability to form their own moral values for even those who choose morals you do not like have chosen moral values. Even the young children choose moral values before they are able to follow any faith tradition.

I could ‘defend’ my position by criticizing the post below and that would be easy. I could defend my position by splitting hairs over whether other atheists are like me or not. I choose neither of these. My position does not require defending. It, like I, stands on its own. It does not need defending. It is, in its own right, a position that does not require defending for it does not care what you or anyone else thinks of it. It is not a shameful position without virtue and value. It is not a position of less than or alternative.

The very idea that I need to defend my position is ludicrous. Just the same, it is what is called for. We are each responsible to know our minds and speak freely of how we understand the world around us. This I can do.

I am not afraid. I know I will, from time to time, fail to live up to my own chosen goals. A goal that is easy to achieve is no goal at all. I will stumble, perhaps fall, get up again and carry on – wiser, more experienced, more determined and controlled. My morality is to myself. Should I find that I like you or something about you I can choose to help you in your time of need. You in turn might choose to help me and together we are stronger than either of us alone. In this bond is my second morality. Outside of these moral obligations there are none except that which I choose to extend beyond this basic circumstance. It is my choice, not a tradition or rule book. My choices are not yours and yours are not mine. By definition we cannot have the same moral values. They might well be very similar but they are not the same.

I was taught moral lessons by my parents and by society. My parents taught me to respect women. On my own I learned that I respect people. They taught me to respect my elders. On my own I learned that even they must earn respect. Society taught me to respect country and kin that are forced on me. On my own I learned to respect only that which benefits me and motivates me. Society gives me a vote to argue against what I do not accept. I accept society only in so much as it benefits me. I stand alone. I was born alone, I will die alone, and I walk alone. I am not afraid. There are those that will choose only safe harbors and warm fires. They may fear standing alone. I do not. They may require society and other peoples morals. I do not. I am not blind to the harsh, cold, brutal reality of life on this planet.

My morality comes from the law of reciprocity, not from a book or a tradition. I was born with the capability for it, learned it as a child before I could understand what faith was. My morality is the same as that of other animals. I am insulted that a believer would think it acceptable to deny it, accuse me of copying their poorly reasoned rules and laws. My morality stands head and shoulders above that of the believer. It is MY morality not that of someone else, not that of a book, not from someone that desires to tell me how to behave and act. My morality is far better than any from a book or tradition. I can defend it, explain it, live it true.

I am not afraid or scared. I know who and what I am. I know my failures and have found peace with them. I have no reason to think there is more than this life, this day, this moment. When I live this moment well, over and over again, the rest takes care of itself. I will worry about the next world when it comes to be that I am in it. I am not afraid, least of all do I fear what a next life might be like. If I have a duty of any kind it would be to live this life (moment by moment) as best I can within my moral values. Anything else is to live someone else’s life. I can only live mine. I will gladly hold my moral values up against the inspection by others. It is better than that of believers. It can be lived up to.


“What Scares the Atheists”

John Gray writes a lengthy and worthwhile piece on the New Atheism’s difficulty with the growing spread of religion.  He calls them “missionary atheists” and points out that they want to proselytize converts every bit as much as missionary Christians.

Gray, himself an atheist, also outlines the role of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the Western civilization concept of liberality.  He rightly notes that atheism doesn’t exactly have a clean slate when it comes offenses against liberal values–its 19th and 20th century taste for eugenics and colonialism being the conceit he uses.

This is a difficulty for atheism: No one who is serious about these sorts of conversations thinks that atheists can’t be moral or that atheism can’t have a moral code;  however, many a decent brainiac do struggle with the concept of atheism possessing and exercising a morality without having inherited it from a faith tradition.

Of course, Gray doesn’t think that an inherent morality exists at all, but that’s an entirely different topic for another day.

Christmas Ghosts

I’m sitting here thinking. Not to myself, the bottle of scotch I got for Christmas and I are having a conversation. It’s not much of a conversation I’ll admit but it is a conversation. The bottle asked me “where is all the Christmas ghosts at?” After correcting its grammar I tried to explain that this was just a story about stirring the conscience of the readers.

So the bottle says “you have a conscience, why no ghosts?”

That got me to thinking. Why don’t I have ghosts? Ghosts are supposed to be: an apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image. Then it hit me. I don’t believe in the supernatural so I’ll never see ghosts. Wait. I just said because I don’t believe in them I’ll never see them.

It’s an odd way of thinking but in reality I don’t see them so I don’t believe in them is more accurate. There is also no evidence for them that is convincing or credible. Then the bottle said “but when you were a child….” and I cut it off. So what! I was a child then and I did what children do. Now I’m not a child., it’s true. When I was a child I was taught to believe that there is a Holy Ghost.

Then I remembered something:

Matthew 12:31-32

31 lWherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

That’s right folks. I’m unforgiven. Never to be forgiven. The all-loving god of Abraham cannot forgive this one thing and I managed to do that one thing. There are no ghosts, not even holy ones. That childhood indoctrination was not enough, I just can’t believe in what cannot be seen – by design.

So me and the scotch are collaborating, here’s to seeing you in hell HAHAHAHAHAHA

Holy crap did they try to scare us to death. Always watching, always there. Deny the big brother of the god of Abraham and you burn forever. How can we consider people that teach this stuff to their kids as competent parents? Oh, I know they are doing what they think is right and best for their own offspring. Still, looking at it from the big picture how can we let them torture children this way. I know it’s not physical torture, but is physical pain ever the worst part of torture?

Am I saying that teaching theism to your children is child abuse? No. I’m saying it’s torture. An entirely different set of laws apply. No, I’m not going to spend 2500 words justifying that thought. Scotch says we don’t have that much time. Teaching your children something that is against all logic and without evidence and which comes with pain of eternal torture for not believing is torture of a mental kind. Sure, lots of us survived it but there are a lot of messed up people in the world and we are not trying to explain that. Just saying.

I’ve got no Christmas ghosts. There are a couple of things from my past that I don’t want to talk about, but push comes to shove I will. It won’t kill me, it’s just unpleasant to contemplate.

I start the new year like I did the last one. Confident that I did as good as I could in the last and confident I will do as good as I can in the next. No ghosts. Hell be damned. I am not guiltless, but I do not feel guilty. Perhaps this is why no ghosts visit me this time of year?

What ghosts visit you?

The Impotence of Atheism – A Reply

Here we go again. Poor poor atheists. They just don’t understand. God did it… in which I comment on such a post. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Now, for the post I am talking about, shown in quotes. Not linked = less traffic for them but if you must, search for “The Impotence of Atheism” and I’m sure you’ll find that gold mine.

It’s not that atheist explanations are wrong, so much as that, qua explanations, they are simply impotent, in the final analysis. At bottom, they have no basis in necessity. So, at bottom, they end up able to say no more than, “this is the way things happened; er, that’s all.” They are descriptions, rather than explanations. Not wrong; not uninformative; often utile; but, just inadequate. Atheist explanations cannot close the deal; for, they have no ultimate cash value.

I’m left wondering if the explanation for why ice tea is brown is simply impotent. It seems to me that the author is expecting more than an explanation, setting their expectations higher than is reasonable so as to be unsatisfied by a valid explanation. I do see what they are hinting at when they call explanations just descriptions rather than explanations. Now we know that by explanation the author means: “reason or justification given for an action or belief” When we look at the two common uses of explanation we see that they are not synonymous.

 a statement or account that makes something clear.
“the birth rate is central to any explanation of population trends”
synonyms:    clarification, simplification;
description, report, statement;
elucidation, exposition, expounding, explication;
gloss, interpretation, commentary, exegesis

a reason or justification given for an action or belief.
“Freud tried to make sex the explanation for everything”
synonyms:    account, reason;
justification, excuse, alibi, defense, vindication, story, answers

When we ask for an explanation of rainbows, this author wants to hear something like ‘god made them to remind us he’d never kill us all with a flood … again’ rather than the actual explanation for the existence of rainbows.

This is why the juridical question is efficacious against an atheist. Just keep asking “Why?” Eventually, he will be forced to reply with an exasperated, “Because that’s just the way it is; there is no further explanation.” So saying, he cannot but reveal his unreason; which, as sapping the very foundations of his doctrine, so vitiates the whole structure thereof – and, could he but see, ruins it utterly. His triumph is in the undisputed possession of a castle fallen into complete desuetude, that lost its strategic value long since.

Yes, on this bit I had to look a few things up. To my  knowledge there is no atheist doctrine with foundations. I can kind of see where they are headed with the word doctrine but that technically requires atheists to be a group, organized in some fashion. (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.) The problem is that saying atheist doctrine is like saying non-golfer doctrine. It is meaningless as is the rest of the straw man they are building there. The one question that bothers theists? How? Keep asking them how and they have to admit ignorance or claim magic via their favorite deity.

It may be objected that the theist foundation of explanation is in a way just as arbitrary and ‘brute’ as that of the atheist. The atheist says, “this is the way the world is, and that’s all there is to say about it;” meanwhile the theist says, “this is the way that God is, and that’s all there is to say about it.” How is one of these moves better than the other? Indeed, don’t they amount to the same thing, in the end, if God is among the things that exist, and thus a member of the world in the broadest sense?

Well, that’s a mighty big ‘if’ in that last sentence. So, if you are like me you already know that there is probably not much point in reading this authors post. It presumes that there is a extant god and that this presupposition trumps reason and science.

From our perspective, so it certainly seems to be. We come into the world and find that it is the way it is, and that God is the way he is, and that’s all there is to it. Indeed, by the definition of “God,” there can be no explanation for God, for nothing is prior to him, that might explain him.

Note that there is some less than polite discourse as to the way god is. In fact, among those that believe in a god there is little agreement at all. Sure, the adherents of one religion seem to agree mostly but this is not proof of their belief. For any religious sect, more than 60% of the rest of the world population disagree with them and many in a vigorous way. There is clearly no consensus on ‘the way god is’ among humans. As for physics and how the world is, well there is consensus on that. So to clarify this author is equating a known data set with a data set which looks to be made up by all measures and despite any claims otherwise is a hotly contested data set. Many have fought and died in an attempt to prove their version correct over all competitors in an argument which is far from ‘settled science.’ These things are not in the same grouping. There is a reason that if you go to a book store looking for information on ‘how god is’ you will never find it in the ‘science section’ of the book store or library.

Nevertheless the theist explanation of things does have one key advantage over the atheist, reductionist explanation: it completes, in the sense that it terminates upon necessity. This the atheist explanation cannot ever do. The theist ends by saying, “this, or something very like this, is just the way things must be, in logic, and by definition, and so by metaphysical necessity.” The atheist explanation terminates upon radical ignorance: upon, “no idea.” Under atheism, all and any of this might not have come to pass, and whether or not it did, there could be no explanation for any bit of it: it *just happened.*

Didn’t this writer just state that there can be no explanation for god? So the theist argument ends with ‘because god’ … without explanation. That’s not half full or half empty argument. It’s full on empty with a claim that it’s full. You  know, because god.

For the theist, everything happens for a reason, even if he can’t see it. Everything is for him therefore intelligible, at least in principle. For the atheist, on the other hand, nothing that happens bopttoms out in a reason that cannot be controverted, and so nothing can be intelligible.

So, only those that claim to know all the answers can see the world as intelligible. I believe that there is a medical term for this: delusional. Remember here that the claim of theists is that there is a god. There is no proof or credible evidence for that god and of course there is no explanation. To the theist god simply is, and from their god comes all the magic that makes the world intelligible to them. The writer here is not offering any explanation further than ‘god did it’ for anything and everything. I remember the last time such make believe was acceptable. It was back when I got 8 oz of milk and a nap mat in the afternoons.

The theist lives in an ordered world. It is ordered ex hypothesi, whether or not he can himself discern that order. The atheist lives in a world that rejects the very notion of order. The latter move is of course not something that can be rationally completed. As a motion of the reason, it is forestalled ab initio, as the antithesis thereof.

To the theist, things cannot but be ordered. To the atheist, they cannot be ordered.

Pity the poor atheists! So lost are they, and adrift! We should all pray for them that they may be relieved of their sufferings.

There it is: The world is ordered. No explanation, just the proclamation that it is so. Don’t question that or you’ll be told that you’re just not trying hard enough to see it. The non-believer does live in a world of order and can see it, look it up in books/online, and study it for themselves. It’s a world of mathematics and science. Fibonacci , the golden ratio, Pythagoras, E=MC2, chemistry, biology, and on and on. The world is ordered by the laws that govern it, from the very small to the very large. It is all out there for us to learn and discover. The theist believes they already know all the answers and do not bother to look. Sure there are theist scientists, but they are few and far between. What theists demonstrate most when talking about atheism and atheists is a complete lack of understanding and worse than that, a complete lack of desire to understand. Order is all around us, because of chemistry, biology, the laws that govern the natural world.

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