Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stupid Atheist Tricks

From Sandwalk Blog

The Thought CriminalWednesday, May 30, 2012 8:19:00 AM
No time to listen to him this morning. Is it important?

"The answers, by the way, are no, no, and no. But you already knew that, didn't you?"

You "know" that? Don't you actually believe that?

If God did actually do 1 and 3, then the most determinedly atheistic and most rigorous of science (in my experience the one isn't anything like a guarantee of the other) couldn't do more than tell you how it was done and not more than that - even if full evidence and full analysis were available and possible, which they never will be. Science can't go beyond what the physical evidence can show and if God is the actual creator of the universe, that physical evidence can show no more than how God did it. What you think on either side of the question of if God did it can't be anything but belief or, as I suspect it usually is, preference.

2. is more problematic because it is a question about actual events in prehistory. We have no access to "original" humans, never mind access to their actions, understanding or intentions. We don't even have that in many non-original people living now. As even the biblical creation myth says that the first two people went bad fairly soon after they were first made, you'd have a mighty narrow range of entirely missing evidence to consider before you could know anything about it.

As someone who accepts evolution, you'd have to convince me you'd come up with a definitive definition of what African population constituted the "original" humans. And that would be before trying to divine what their actions, understandings and intentions were in order to assert their moral stature. Convincing me you'd identified the Adams and Eves would be a lot easier than the rest of it.

Of course, that is if you want to make a meaningful distinction between belief and knowledge. Muddying that line would seem to me to serve efforts like climate change denial, anti-vaccination fanaticism, the Intelligent Design industry, etc. Pretending to know what is merely believed can make someone arrogant, it can't make them any more accurate or persuasive to those not already predisposed.


Arek W.Wednesday, May 30, 2012 11:53:00 AM
The Thought Criminal said:

"Science can't go beyond what the physical evidence can show..."

Science can "see" everything humans can "see" (because science is made by humans) and much more (because it uses advanced technology).

If science cannot go beyond what the physical evidence can show, then how can you?

"If God did actually do 1 and 3, then the most determinedly atheistic and most rigorous of science (...) couldn't do more than tell you how it was done and not more than that..."

And how do you know if 1 and 3 were done by God and not by Unicorn?

Are you using "other way of knowing" (aka making stuff up) ?

The Thought CriminalWednesday, May 30, 2012 2:56:00 PM
Arek. I don't need science to tell me that the invasion of Iraq was a moral atrocity and a political disaster, which is good because science couldn't do that. I don't need science to know it's wrong to torture and murder children, which is just as good because science can't do that. I don't need science to know that the axioms and laws of mathematics are valid or that deductive logic is, which is good because science can't do that and, since science depends on those as prerequisites, I couldn't take science seriously without those. I can't even use science to know that it's a bad idea to lie about science or anything else because there is nothing in science that could possibly demonstrate that it is a bad idea.

And how do you know if 1 and 3.....

I wish atheists could comprehend the conditional mood, they don't seem to be able to twig onto it. Not to mention your need to cherry pick a partially elided -jeesh!- sentence out of a paragraph that ends, "What you think on either side of the question of if God did it can't be anything but belief or, as I suspect it usually is, preference."

It's an "other way of knowing" to believe that you can know 1, 2, or 3, instead of believing them. Which was the point of my comment.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- these honored dead by using them as hostages against the living.

Abraham Lincoln, in his most revered speech, unwittingly provided a weapon that has been used since to kill many thousands of people. American soldiers and the countless others who, thought unmentionable in the United States, are indissolubly bound to our dead through the absolute requirements of justice and truth due to their being killed by the actions of the United States government, in our names, often giving Lincoln’s words as the reason.

How many times in the United States, as an excuse to continue the slaughter in Vietnam, Iraq and other wars of empire, has that weapon been used with the horrible potency generated by unthinking, unreflecting, coercive patriotism and rote reverence?

How many more people have died through the deployment of Lincoln’s words “should not have died in vain”?

Lincoln was honorable. He may have been the American President who had the truest sense of honor unbound by the conventions of aristocratic pretense. It is likely that he provided the weapon out of innocence borne of his great character and out of the requirement to address the necessities of the hard weeks during which he gave the speech, some of the worst in our history. The price the world has paid for those poetic words almost certainly wouldn’t have been worth their price to him, had he realized how they would be used by others.

People without morals and who have no honor, have no reservations about killing people. Given their readiness to kill without cause, saying they distort even the most sacred words for the purpose of killing more people is an idea shocking only to those in the habit of pretending they don’t see what they can plainly see.

Unfortunately, when you look down the list of American Presidents, you find a notable lack of character and in even some of those of high character it isn’t reliably coupled with wisdom. We can hope and pray that George W. Bush, utterly corrupt, utterly incompetent and reveling like a theatrical Caligula in his role as vicarious warrior, is the worst that our system can produce. I doubt that even with the example of the worst of his predecessors, Lincoln could have imagined someone as putrid as him attaining and holding the presidency. What he could have made of the regency of Cheney is even harder to imagine.

This week, as in all weeks of all of the imperial wars begun and continued by those who have no honor, no morality, no intention to allow the rule of The People, the tinny echo of Lincoln’s words as spoken by mimics sound through the helium balloon that diverts but refuses to inform the American People.

Those words from those mouths in the context of Bush’s war in Iraq do nothing to honor the dead, they prop them up before the camera as hostages, not to ransom a purpose for his criminal war, but as an emotional bribe to continue it until he can pass it and the blame for it onto someone else. It turns the deaths of those who have already died into a weapon against those who haven’t died yet. The honor due them is transformed into blackmail.

The plain truth is that those who have died in Bush’s war in Iraq have already died in vain.There is no further price that can redeem that terrible truth or to turn the utterly corrupt motives of those who have brought and continued this war to any more than a pantomime of greatness. The attempt only exposes the decay of our entire establishment, even those who say the words don’t believe them. Nothing that can be said can change that horrible truth and telling that truth will be punished because our ruling elite have buried democracy deeper than Robert Lincoln was forced to bury his father. He did so to prevent the theft of his corpse. Unfortunately he couldn’t do anything to protect his father’s soul from being stolen by criminals lower than grave robbers.

Note: If you ever see me mention the American dead without also mentioning those killed by the American government and its proxies, please point out the omission.

First posted March 29, 2008

Monday, May 28, 2012

For My Parents

All of the dead, some in uniform, parents, old, children too young.
Holes in families, empty houses. Shadows on people. A name in rock.

A person remembers someone. A town, a life.
Countries give speeches. Speeches about speeches.
Speeches about people. Too far away to know.

And I can't tell you. You had to see them. In their towns. Both sides.

First posted 2006

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nina Simone Rags and Old Iron