Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sherlock Holmes Movie and 9/11 Truth

Just wondering if anyone else out there noticed the similarity between the second Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and the 9/11 Truth Movement?

UPDATE: The movie opens with a bombing by an anarchist group at the Strasborg Cathedral in 1891. As far as I can tell there was no such bombing. However, al-Qaeda is supposed to have attempted bombing the Strasborg Cathedral in 2000.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If There's no Free Will, Can there be Free Speech?

Jerry Coyne, who believes that there is no such thing as free will is worried about the erosion of free speech. I tried pointing out the contradiction inherent in his position a few months ago and was banned from his blog for my efforts. I haven't stopped laughing about the irony of it all ever since.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos

Halloween is coming up, followed shortly by the election.  In honor of both, I offer the punchline of one of my favorite Simspon's Halloween Specials:

I'm still trying to decide whether to vote for Kang or Kodos.

Let's Suppose We Were Designed by Aliens

Let's suppose that Elizabeth Shaw was right, that we had indeed been designed by extraterrestrial beings. Would that make them our gods, to whom we offer worship and homage? By the end of the movie "Prometheus" I think it is clear to Elizabeth that the answer is NO. She still believes that the aliens made us, but she now realizes that they mean us harm, and that we have the right to defend ourselves against them. Yet it's also clear that she has not lost her faith in God. It's reasonable to assume that Elizabeth has finally made a distinction between the proximal cause of our existence -- what was it that most closely in time was the cause of our coming into being -- and the ultimate cause.

ID proponents, such as I, could have strengthened Elizabeth's position that the aliens were our Engineers.  We could point out that there is no plausible non-intelligent design explanation for the origin of life, and that it looks very much like someone designed the first cells.  Most of us believe that God was the designer.  But it seems to be at least logically possible that God was not the proximal cause of our existence, but that there was some intelligence that was the intermediate cause of our being.

There would still be the problem of what we commonly call our "souls."  In the movie, it is pointed out that the robot, David, does not have a soul.  We also find out that the aliens have indeed created a particular form of life that most of us would agree does not have a soul.  For those of us who believe that that there are souls, would this be a problem for alien design?  I think not.  There seem to be two views of what souls are.  Either they are a separate substance from matter, that has been put into an intimate relationship with it, that we call ourselves - soul and body.  The second view is that there is some kind of emergent property in matter, such that if it takes the right form, it has what can be said to be a soul.  If the first view is correct, then we can imagine that when the aliens design the physical parts that become us, at some point in time God infuses this physical part with the substance of soul.  If the second view is correct, then once the aliens have put matter into the proper form, the property of being or having a soul will occur.

For those of us who believe in God, we could then, along with Elizabeth Shaw, still believe that we were designed by aliens.  We might owe gratitude to them,  just as we owe gratitude to our parents.  But we owe our worship to the one God who is the ultimate cause of all of us, regardless of what planet we're from.  So if on some starry night a flying saucer lands in your backyard and Kodos and Kang  emerge and tell you that they created you and that you should worship them,  just tell them you appreciate their bringing you into existence, but that there is only One to whom you will bow down.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Prometheus" on Faith: Miss

After the crew of the Prometheus wake up from their hypersleep, a hologram from the (supposedly) dead CEO of the expedition, Peter Weyland, introduces them to the two archeologists who have inspired the trip, Charlie Holloway and Elizabeth Shaw, who then step forward and address the crew (here):

Charlie Holloway: ... Okay. Let me show you why you guys are here.
[he holds up a cube places it on the floor and opens up another hologram showing images]
Charlie Holloway: These are images of archaeological digs from all over the earth.
[pointing to the different images]
Charlie Holloway: That's Egyptian, Mayan, Sumerian, Babylonian. That's Hawaiian at the end there and Mesopotamian. Now this one here is our most recent discovery, it's a thirty five thousand year old cave painting from the Isle of Sky in Scotland. These are ancient civilizations, they were separated by centuries, they shared no contact with one another, and yet...
[he gathers the hologram images to line up and he goes through each one]
Charlie Holloway: The same pictogram, showing men worshiping giant beings pointing to the stars was discovered at every last one of them. The only galactic system that matched, was so far from earth, that there's no way that these primitive ancient civilizations could have possibly known about. But it just so happens, that system has a sun, a lot like ours. And based on our long range scans, there seemed to be a planet. Just one planet with the moon, capable of sustaining life, and we arrived there this morning.

[after Holloway has given his presentation about the pictorgrams to the crew]
Fifield: So you're saying we're here because of a map you two kids found in a cave, is that right?
Elizabeth Shaw: No.
Charlie Holloway: Yeah. Um...
Elizabeth Shaw: No. Not a map. An invitation.
Fifield: From whom?
Elizabeth Shaw: We call them Engineers.
Fifield: Engineers? Do you mind um...telling us what they engineered?
Elizabeth Shaw: They engineered us.
Fifield: Bullshit! 
Millburn: Okay, so you have anything to back that up? I mean, look, if you're willing to discount three centuries of Darwinism, that's...wooh! But how do you know? Mm?
Elizabeth Shaw: I don't. But it's what I choose to believe.

Here, Elizabeth is uses the exact same answer as her father used with her.  But notice the difference:  Her father was referring to the existence and quality of the afterlife, something beyond our ability to observe or perform experiments upon, and saying that he chose to believe that it existed and that it was beautiful.  Elizabeth is choosing to believe that the pictures in the archaeological digs were not just made by aliens - a not unreasonable hypothesis, given the evidence that Charlie has presented - but that these aliens are our "Engineers."    Now if she just wanted this to be a private, personal belief,  there wouldn't be a problem.  But this is a belief that she wants others to believe, also.  Yet she has provided no evidence or reasoning for them to accept this belief.  Just her own personal decision.  One wonders how Peter Weyland, the entrepreneur who has funded this whole expedition was convinced to accept her belief.

But it becomes even more puzzling when later the team that explores the planet find the fossilized remains of the aliens and conclude that Elizabeth was right.  What?  So they found aliens.  How does this prove that the aliens were our Engineers?   Later, we find out that the aliens' DNA is a perfect match to human DNA.  At that point I would think this would make somebody say, "Hey, the aliens weren't our Engineers!  They were our ancestors!"  But no, somehow this discovery is supposed to support Elizabeth's belief.  Still later, we find out that the aliens weren't very nice people, and Elizabeth undergoes a crisis of faith.   Even the robot David taunts her with the observation that her God had forsaken her.   Did Elizabeth think the aliens were her God?  It's all a bit confusing.

At some point Elizabeth seems to realize and accept that the aliens aren't God, or not from God, or whatever. At least, there's a brief scene were she looks up and nods, as if she's somehow sorted it all out, or decided to continue to believe in God, in spite of all that's gone wrong. But we the audience are never quite sure what Elizabeth's theology had been, nor what it is supposed to be now. It might have helped if she had sat down with a good theologian and worked all this out, before making some rather hasty leaps of faith. Or at the very least she might have read what Edward Feser had to say about it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Prometheus" on Faith: Hit and Miss

Even though I had already seen the film "Prometheus" on the big screen, I rented the DVD, both hoping for special features (nope) and to refresh my memory about what the movie had to say about faith.  For "Prometheus" tries to be a religious movie.  And I think sometimes it gets it right, and sometimes not.  First, a scene where it gets it right (from here):

[on the ship, Prometheus, David checks on the crew who are in hypersleep, he gazes upon Shaw and sees what she's dreaming of, which is from her childhood when she is with her father in a foreign land looking at a funeral procession]
Young Shaw: What happened to that man?
Shaw's Father: He died.
Young Shaw: Why aren't you helping them?
Shaw's Father: They don't want my help. They're God's different than ours.
Young Shaw: Why did he die?
Shaw's Father: Sooner or later everyone does.
Young Shaw: Like mommy?
Shaw's Father: Like mommy.
Young Shaw: Where do they go?
Shaw's Father: Everyone has their own word; heaven, paradise. Whatever it's called, it's someplace beautiful.
Young Shaw: How do you know it's beautiful?
Shaw's Father: Cause that's what I choose to believe. What do you believe, darling?
[at that point David comes out of watching the dream]

I think this is right.  Elizabeth Shaw's father is teaching his daughter that when it comes to questions about the afterlife, it finally comes down to what you're willing to believe about it.  And choosing to believe that there is one, and that it is a good one, is perfectly acceptable.   It's a lesson that will guide Elizabeth's life.  

So far, I think the film gets faith right.  But then it gets it wrong soon afterwards.  Next time.

Feser Continues His Defense of Nagel

Edward Feser defends Thomas Nagel against Leiter and Weisberg's review in Nagel and his Critics, Part II.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bill Vallicella tries to take on Paul Krugman

The maverick philosopher, Bill Vallicella, whose views of philosophy and religion I am beginning to admire greatly, takes issue with Paul Krugman (whose views on economics I am beginning to admire equally as much), in Left, Right and Debt.

First, let me point out that Vallicella's veiled implications that  Krugman is  a communist are completely false, not to mention unfair.  Krugman is not a communist.  He's  not even a "socialist."  He has full faith in a properly regulated capitalist system.

Next, I do agree with Vallicella that Krugman's analogy breaks down. The government owes money to whoever has leant it. That is why the important part of Krugman's argument is that as long as the tax base is bigger than the debt that is owed, this isn't a significant problem. The problem is when we choose not to raise taxes in order to repay it. Before Reagan, the highest tax rate in America was around 70%. Under Reagan this was reduced, I believe, to around the 36% level, even though the Reagan administration increased government spending enormously for much additional military spending. Two things happened as a consequence: Many jobs were created (by government spending on new military projects) and the government debt more than doubled (and by the Bush I years, more than quadrupled).  Under Clinton, the highest tax rate was raised slightly, which combined with other factors resulted in a few years of government surplus, which lead to a small reduction of government debt.

Then Bush II got elected and reduced the highest tax rate even more than Reagan, and the government debt began skyrocketing again, especially because of the two wars we were fighting.  Bush kept the war budget separate from the general budget, so that the overall debt looked smaller than it actually was.  When Obama got elected, he combined the war budget with the general budget, and suddenly the overall debt grew enormously.  Silly Democrat.  Truth only makes you look bad.

But should Vallicella continue to read Krugman, he'll find out that we are in a liquidity trap:  private investors  do not have the funds for entrepreneurial projects, and are not yet willing to borrow large sums to invest in them.  Since private sources are not yet willing to spend large sums of money, then in order to get our economy going, it will take large sums of government spending.   (By the way, if Vallicella continues to read Krugman, he'll learn that this is the problem that Greece and other European countries are facing.  If they were not in the European Union, they could simply increase debt and spend their way out of their recessions.  But because they are in the EU, their hands are tied by the austerity policies imposed by the other members of the Union.)  Once consumers have money to spend, investors will be willing to grow businesses where consumers can buy things.  But of course, this means that government debt will have to increase first.   Which is only a problem if we are not willing to increase taxes.  but then as Krugman so eloquently puts it, "The fault, then, is not in our debt, but in ourselves."

The Metamucil Scale

Randal Rauser offers an objective unit of measurement for people who are a challenge to get along with: The Metamucil Scale. I would rate myself at 0 spoonfuls. Anyone who disagrees with me is a 5 spoonful type of person.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bill Vallicella: Is Heaven Real?

The maverick philosopher, Bill Vallicella, discusses Is Heaven Real? A Neurosurgeon's Near Death Experiences, and offers some very good insights:

A second concern of mine is this. How does Dr Alexander know that his wonderful experiences didn't suddenly arise just as the cortex was coming back into action just before his eyes popped open? So even if his cortex was for a long time completely nonfunctional, the experience he remembers could have been simply a dream that arose while the cortex was coming back 'on line.' My point is not the the doctor has not given us evidence that mental functioning occurs in the absence of brain activity; I believe he has. My point is that the evidence is not compelling. 

 Our predicament in this life is such that we cannot prove such things as that God exists, that life has meaning, that the will is free, that morality is not an illusion, and that we survive our bodily deaths. But we cannot prove the opposites either. It is reasonable to maintain each of these views. Many arguments and considerations can be adduced. Among the evidence is a wide range of religious, mystical and paranormsl experiences including near-death and out-of-body experiences. The cumulative case is impressive but not conclusive. It rationalizes, but does not establish. Philosophers. of course, are ever in quest of 'knock-down' arguments. This is because you are no philosopher if you don't crave certainty. Ohne Gewissheit kann ich eben nicht leben! Husserl once exclaimed. But so far no 'knock-down' arguments have been found.

 In the final analysis, lacking proof one way or the other, you must decide what you will believe and how you will live.

 I would add that the 'living' is more important than the 'believing.' It is far better to live in a manner to deserve immortality than to hold beliefs and give arguments about the matter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Can't the Existence of Rational Beings be a Fluke?

Bill Vallicella continues his defense of Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos.   I've copied his argument here:

For Nagel, the existence of rational animals is not a brute fact or fluke or cosmic accident.  Nagel's somewhat sketchy argument (see p. 86) is along these lines:

1. There are organisms capable of reason.
2. The possibility of such beings must have been there from the beginning.
3. This possibility, however, must be grounded in and explained by the nature of the cosmos.
4. What's more, the nature of the cosmos must explain not only the possibiity but also the actuality of rational animals: their occurrence cannot be a brute fact or cosmic accident.

I take Nagel to be maintaining that the eventual existence of some rational beings or other is no accident but is included in the nature of things from the beginning -- which is consistent with maintaining that there is an element of chance involved in the appearance of any particular instance of reason such as Beethoven.  So eventually nature must produce beings capable of understanding it.  We are such beings. "Each of our lives is part of the lengthy process of the universe waking up and becoming aware of itself." (85)
Nagel's thesis is not obvious.   Why can't reason be a fluke?  Even if we grant Nagel that the intelligibility of nature could not have been a fluke or brute fact, how does it follow that the actual existence of some rational beings or other, beings capable of 'glomming onto' the world's intelligible structure, is not a fluke?  Nagel's argument needs some 'beefing up'  so that it can meet this demand.

1. Let's start with the idea that nature is intelligible.  Why?  That the world is intelligible is a presupposition of all inquiry.  The quest for understanding rests on the assumption that the world is understandable, and indeed by us.  The most successful form of this quest is natural science.  The success of the scientific quest is evidence that the presupposition holds and is not merely a presupposition we make.  The scientific enterprise reveals to us an underlying intelligible order of things not open to perception alone, although of course the confirmation of scientific theories requires perception and the various instruments that extend it.
2.  Now what explains this underlying rational order? Two possibilities.  One is that nothing does: it's a brute fact.  It just happens to be the case that the world is understandable by us, but it might not have been.  The rational order of things underpins every explanation but  itself has no explanation.  The other possibility is that the rational order has an explanation, in which case it has an explanation by something distinct from it, or else is self-explanatory.  On theism, the world's  rational order is grounded in the divine intellect and is therefore explained by God.  On what I take to be Nagel's view, the rational order is self-explanatory, a necessary feature of anything that could count as a cosmos.
Nagel views the intelligibility of the world as "itself part of the deepest explanation why things are as they are." (17).  Now part of the way things are is that they are understandable by us.  Given that the way things are is intelligible, it follows that the intelligibility of the world is self-explanatory or self-grounding.
Our second premise, then, is that the intelligibilty of the world is self-explanatory, hence a necessary feature of anything that could count as a cosmos.
3.  Our third premise is that intelligibility is an an inherently mind-involving notion.  Necessarille, then x is intelligible to some actual or possible mind.  Nothing is understandable unless it is at least possible that there exist  some being with the power of understanding. 
The conjunction of these three premises entails the possibility of rational beings, but not the actuality of them. There would seem to be a gap in Nagel's reasoning.  The world is intelligible, and its intelligibility is a necessary feature of it.  From this we can infer that, necessarily, if the cosmos exists, then it is possible that there be rational beings.  But that is as far as we can get with these three premises.
4.  What Nagel seems to need is a principle of plenitude that allows us to pass from the possibility of rational beings to their actual existence.  J. Hintikka has ascribed to Aristotle a form of the principle according to which every genuine possibility must at some time become actual.  This would do the trick, but to my knowledge Nagel make no mention of any such principle.
5.  I suggest that theism is in a better position when it comes to explaining how both intelligibility and mind  are non-accidental.  Intelligibility is grounded in the divine intellect which necessarily exists.  So there must be at least one rational being.  We exist contingently, but the reason in us derives from a noncontingent source. 

I'm wondering if Nagel might have another option, instead of 4 or 5.  Would a claim that the existence of rational beings is a fluke itself be another appeal to brute fact?  If so, then given that we are rejecting brute fact as an explanation for existence itself, would it be reasonable to reject it as an explanation for the existence of rational beings?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Amend 2012

I just found out that one of my favorite people, Robert Reich, has his own blog. I didn't realize that he is the chairman of Common Cause, which is spearheading the movement for a constitutional amendment that would not allow corporations to be legal persons. You can sign the petition at

George McGovern: The Man I Wish I had Voted For

Jerry Coyne just brought to our attention that George McGovern died. I agree with everythng Jerry says about him. I turned 18 in 1972 and would have had the opportunity to vote for McGovern. But as too many irresponsible teenagers, I put off registering to vote until it was too late. So I could only watch as McGovern went down to inevitable defeat.

Many people would approach McGovern later and say, "I voted for you," and he would reply,  "So you're the one."  I wish I could have been one of the ones.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Jesus Problem

R.Joseph Hoffman has written an intriguing article on the problem of who Jesus was: Liberal Scarecrows, Shadows, and Atheist Internet Experts. A few excerpts:

As someone who actively entertained the possibility [that Jesus didn't exist] for years, I can report that the current state of the question is trending consistently in the direction of the historicity of Jesus and partly the wishful thinking of the mythtics is responsible for the trend. The myth theory, in its current, dyslectic and warmed over state, has erected the messiest of all the Jesuses in the field, constructed mainly from scraps discarded by the liberals and so startling (perhaps inevitably) that it looks more like an Egyptian god than a man, less a coherent approach to its object than an explosion of possibilities and mental spasms. Like all bad science, its supporters (mainly internet bloggers and scholarly wannabes) began the quest with their pet conclusion, then looked for evidence by alleging that anything that counted against it was false, apologetically driven, or failed the conspiracy smell-test. A survey of the (highly revised and hideously written) Wikipedia article on the Christ Myth Theory shows its depressing recent history–from a theory that grew organically out of the history-of-religion approach to Christianity (which drove my own work in critical studies) to a succession of implausibilities and splices as limitless as there were analogies to splice.

Yet the myth theory is explained by the woeful history of liberal scholarship: ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. It is a direct result of the mess liberal scholarship made of itself. If the problem with “liberal” scholarship (the name itself suggests the fallacy that guides the work) is that a flimsy, fact-free, wordless Jesus could be a magician, a bandit, an eschatologist, a radical, a mad prophet, a sane one, a tax revolutionary, a reforming rabbi (anything but Jesus the son of God)–the mythical Jesus could be Hercules, Osiris, Mithras, a Pauline vision, a Jewish fantasy, a misremembered amalgam of folk tales, a rabbi’s targum about Joshua. In short–the mirror image of the confusion that the overtheoretical and under-resourced history of the topic had left strewn in the field. If the scarecrows concocted by the liberals were made from rubble, the mythtic Jesuses were their shadows. If the bad boys of the Jesus Seminar had effectively declared that the evidence to hand means Jesus can be anything you want him to be, there is some justice in the view that Jesus might be nothing at all.

Yes, I think Hoffman makes a good point. Secular New Testament scholarship is in something of a pickle. It rejects the supernatural explanation that the New Testament authors assumed was true. But once scholars do that they are unable to provide a consistent, plausible explanation for who Jesus was. All they offer are "scarecrows." And there isn't much difference between their scarecrows and the shadows the mythicists offer in their place. And yes, this means I've added yet another blog to my list.

The Difference between "Mythicists" and 9/11 Truthers

New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado compares "Mythicists" with 9/11 Truthers, rather unfavorably:

Perhaps the most puzzling claim, that would be amusing were it not apparently asserted so seriously, is that sometime in the 1980s a massive conspiracy (by “New Evangelical” interests) engineered the appointment of scholars in departments of Religion, Classics, Ancient History, etc., and that it managed to skew scholarly opinion, even among Jewish scholars and people of n0 religious affiliation, to support the historical existence of a Jesus of Nazareth.    Hmm.  That’s right up there with the notion that the Twin Towers were destroyed by the CIA!  (Is there something in the drinking water nowadays in some places?) Certainly, many of those who have engaged the current “mythicist” issue (e.g., Maurice Casey) would be surprised to learn that their views have been shaped ingeniously without their knowing it by this “New Evangelical” cabal eager to prop up traditional Christianity!

But contrary to professor Hurtado's understanding, the difference between Mythicists - people who deny that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed - and 9/11 Truthers, is that the first group must argue against the overwhelming majority of experts who accept  that Jesus actually existed, whereas the second group have the support of over 1700 architects and engineers  to support their position, which by the way, doesn't include the claim that the CIA must have destroyed the Twin Towers. 

Dang, Another Blog I'll Have to Read

My blog list is getting far tooo long, but I don't see how I can avoid adding:

  The Colossian Forum

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Edward Feser Reviews Nagel's "Mind and Cosmos"

My hope that Aristotelian/Thomist philosopher Edward Feser would review Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos, has been fulfilled sooner than I could have expected: Aristotle, Call Your Office.

It's nice to have my perceptions of Nagel's views verified.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Advice for Thomas Nagel: Get Thee to the Lyceum

If I were a better philosopher I might try to write an actual review of Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos; Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. After reading his book it is obvious that Nagel is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Since he wants to try maintain some sort of philosophical Naturalism, I suggest that he go with Aristotle. Plato maintained that there was an inherent dualism in reality between the world of Forms (or Ideas or Archetypes) and the physical world. His student Aristotle rejected this dualism, maintained the reality of the Forms but insisted that they were inherent in the physical world. He came up with four causes by which the world can be known: Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final causes. Nagel very much wants to maintain that consciousness, ethical values, and teleology are all real, but also that they are inherent properties of Nature. The similarity to Aristotle is too close to be ignored and one wonders why Nagel doesn't just come out of the closet and admit that he is an Aristotelian. I might have more to say later, but meanwhile I recommend reading his book. It's worth it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Plantinga's Article on Religion and Science

If you haven't yet read Alvin Plantinga's 2011 book, Where the Conflict Really Lies; Science, Religion, and Naturalism, you might want to read the 2010 article on Religion and Science that he contributed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It serves as a sort of outline for what he covers in greater detail in his book. The friend who brought the article to my attention noticed that Plantinga is more critical of Intelligent Design in his book than in his article, possibly reflecting further development of Plantinga's thinking on the subject.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Professor, Why do you wear Tennis Shoes?

By the way, that should be "Irwin Corey."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Global 1937

Paul Krugman argues that the present global austerity policies are reminiscent of what happened in 1937, when the U.S. thought that it was high time to reduce government spending and reduce the deficit. The result: a double-dip depression.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Should I Vote for a Third Party Candidate?

A friend recently sent me this interview of third party candidate Rocky Anderson. He says everything that I want a presidential candidate to say to earn my vote. So should I vote for him? If you're a Republican or just voting for Romney, then you probably want me to vote for Rocky, just so that it takes away a vote for Obama. If you're a Democrat or just voting for Obama, then you probably don't want me to vote for Rocky and instead vote for Obama as a loyal Democrat should. Back in 2000 I campaigned very hard for Al Gore, not because I liked him, but because I didn't want Bush to get elected. I was very angry at Ralph Nader, because I thought he helped insure that Gore lost and Bush won. At this point in time, even though I think Obama is the lesser of two evils, I'm not sure he's that much less of an evil than Romney. So the temptation to write in Rocky is rather strong. Besides, think of the music they could play as he runs up the steps to accept the presidency on January 20th.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Watch 9/11 Truth Video on Colorado PBS

Colorado Public Television has been airing the film 9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out. You can either watch it at their scheduled times or watch it online.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Loki on Free Will

From the movie, "The Avengers":

Loki: I come with glad tidings, of a world made free.
Nick Fury: Free from what?
Loki: Freedom. Freedom is life's great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart...
[he turns to face Selvig who's standing behind him and places his spear against Selvig's heart]
Loki: You will know peace.
[he uses his abilities to control Selvig's mind]

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Todd Wood Reviews Jason Rosenhouse's Book

Young Earth Creationist and biologist, Todd Wood, gives a mostly positive review of Jason Rosenhouse's book, Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line.


I thought I should add a passage from Wood's review:

"... I also detect hints of a humanitarian decency about him [Rosenhouse].  Early in the book, he confesses that interacting with creationists changed his outlook.  “They are no longer defined by a few odd beliefs you have heard that they hold.  They become actual people, with depth and personality and reasons for the things they believe” (p. 15)."

I think this passage reveals the chief problem with internet exchanges:  We lack the normal interaction one has with people of different persuasions.  We do not see their faces.  We do not hear their voices.  We are left only with what they write.   So we see and read the part of them that is the most difficult to accept.  And we react in negative or hostile ways that we would never use if we were talking with them in person.  

Surprisingness and evidence for supernatural occurrences

Interesting excerpt from Victor Reppert's paper.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Atheist, Meet Burden of Proof.

Randal Rauser has a thought-provoking post that I recommend.