Pascal’s Wager? Really? Has anyone who’s actually thought about it recently for more than five seconds taken it seriously?
Admittedly, arguing against Pascal’s Wager is cheap entertainment, like using the broad side of a barn for target practice. It’s dead easy. But doesn’t that make you wonder all the more why such a bad argument persists to this day?
I suggest that it’s because many believers who make a point of trying to defend their beliefs have not been equipped to argue rationally. They don’t generally teach critical thinking in Sunday School (that would not be the way to put butts in pews, after all). It seems to me that it’s an argument used by believers who are less interested in discovering what is most likely true than they are in defending their beliefs against the shocking reality that some people don’t believe as they do and, even worse, that some people think that god-belief is wrong-headed.
Continue reading “Pascal’s Wager”
Headline: Mexican President berates U.S. after casino attack
Lashing out at corrupt officials in Mexico and “insatiable” U.S. demand for drugs for fomenting the violence, Mr. Calderon urged the U.S. Congress to stamp out drug consumption and stop illegal trafficking of weapons across the border into Mexico.
“We’re neighbours, we’re allies, we’re friends, but you are also responsible,” a sombre and angry Mr. Calderon said to the United States in a speech after meeting his security advisers.
So, if this story is accurately portraying the essence of Mr. Calderon’s statements — and I have to allow for possibility that it isn’t — he is saying that the solution to the drug gang violence in Mexico is for the U.S. to step up the war on drugs.
Do people read any history? Who learned anything from America’s disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition? Not Mr. Calderon, obviously (if his message is being portrayed accurately).
Continue reading “Mexican President berates U.S. after casino attack”
Father’s Day. Although I haven’t fathered any children, I’m a grampa and our granddaughter spent the day with us, as did my wife’s younger sister. I enjoy cooking so I celebrated the day by preparing barbecued t-bone steaks, fried onions and mushrooms seasoned with cumin as well as salt and pepper, baked potatoes, and steamed carrots. Delicious. My steak was just on the rare side of medium rare, while the others chose to have theirs medium-well.
My sister phoned to talk while I was peeling carrots. She lives a sixteen hour drive away, so we don’t see each other often anymore. She called because she was missing our dad, who died about five-and-a-half years ago. I’d been thinking about phoning her for the same reason. We had a good long chat, catching up on things.
Continue reading “Father’s Day, 2011”
If I ever become re-engaged with party politics, if I ever decide to vote in an election or to publicly support one candidate over another, it will mean that I have finally become a political nihilist. It will mean that I have come to believe that the game is completely meaningless and that I might as well play it for my own amusement, regardless of the consequences. It will mean that I truly do not give a shit about anyone or anything aside from that which entertains me for the moment.
Continue reading “If I ever vote”
This man is such a wonderful speaker.
Harvard Humanists Stephen Fry 2 22 2011 Chapter 5
“The Greeks instinctively understood that, if there were gods, if there were supreme beings, it follows as the night the day that they are capricious, willful, mean, childish, and inconsistent. That is true whether it’s a slew of gods on Olympus or it’s one monolithic god in a notional numinous nowhere such as monotheists believe.
“There is no possible way that anybody could examine this universe and say that, if there is a god, he’s entirely good and charming. We only have to say, “bone cancer in children” to ask who the hell this god thinks he is and what he thinks he’s doing.
“There’s a whole branch of futile theology devoted to justifying the ways of god to man. It’s known as theodicy and to read it is to read a comic strip. You can’t justify some of the horrors that happen but you can if you if you imagine that, were there a god, he is, as I say, capricious, mean, malicious, and appalling.”
– Stephen Fry, in his acceptance speech on receiving the 2011 lifetime achievement award from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.
I think that pretty much covers it.
A YouTube user named kenzaki777 posted a brilliant bit of prose as a comment on my YouTube channel yesterday. All grammar and punctuation is in the original.
Hey you ,,
Do you think that’s right when you made a video about Muhammad ? ! Do you think you are right when you put bad picture , and bad words about Muhammad and Allah ? ,
Continue reading “Just another “religion of peace” comment on my YouTube channel”
Trying to care. Trying to think that it really matters.
Nope. Sorry. Can’t do it.
I’m probably going to make a video inspired by this discussion on Facebook.
I’ve started reading The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. I’m still in the first section (I’m using it as bedtime reading), in which he lays out what it is that he’s going to talk about, but I’m inclined to like it so far. I don’t know. Maybe the amount of negative reaction I’ve heard about inclines me to be biased in favour of the book. I’m a bit perverse that way.
Harris has written a response to his many critics but I’m going to wait to read that until I’ve finished reading the book and have discussed it with a few friends.
I like to read before going to bed. It usually relaxes me and gets me ready to sleep. This doesn’t work well, of course, if the book is either too interesting or not interesting enough. If the book is too interesting, I’m going to find it difficult to put it away for the sake of something so seemingly wasteful as sleep. If the book is not interesting enough, I’ll be annoyed at the author and publisher for putting out such boring drivel and at myself for selecting it. Either way, sleep is going to be difficult.
The last couple of nights, I’ve been reading The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. After spending a little more than half the book presenting a sketch of the history of human knowledge about the universe, from ancient times to the present, they get into the question of the origin of it all.
I’m finding it highly readable and, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, not very good for making me sleepy. As I write this, I’ve been up all night and I blame you, Professor Hawking!
My recommendation is that you do read it but perhaps not when you’re hoping to nod off quickly.