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Posts posted by Sisyphus

  1. No. But it would make you stupid if you called a programmer who was trying to use an odd esoteric language to build AI or such a fool. They can't explain their computer. Their arguments have no merit.

    As such, Silverman is in no place to tell me that my God does not exist. He can't explain tides. He's not someone whose opinion I would respect.


    I don't follow your argument. If I didn't know anything about programming, I would be a fool to make an argument about programming. Ok. What do tides have to do with religion? Are you just saying that anyone who can't explain the tides is stupid across the board and shouldn't be listened to about anything?


    How are you not making the argument that you said you were too smart to make in post #8?

  2. You know that it operates on electrical pulses. That's more than this guy knows about physics. And I'm not saying that not understanding something completely means you can't be an atheist, or that you're stupid. I'm saying that showing a lack of knowledge on even the most rudimentary topics means that you lose your ability to tell Christians that they're being taken in by a scam.


    Why? If I didn't have any idea how computers worked, would it be blind faith to believe that they do?

  3. It's hard to blame anti-gun lobbyists for blaming guns, especially since it's far from being an anecdote, and a 9-year-old just died. Just for once, the gun fanatics should have some decency and shut up, people just died, and they won't lose access their precious firearms anyway.


    So the anti-gun lobbyists are hard to blame, but the pro-gun lobbyists should have the decency to shut up? What's the difference? Can't we all just agree that exploiting the emotionally charged aftermath of a singular tragedy for political gain is sleazy?


    Of course the scientists and engineers he's listening to are right to an extent; I just don't get how someone can repeatedly call religion a scam when they do not understand one of the most basic tenants of physics, eg, gravity.


    I only very vaguely understand how my computer works, but I still believe that it does, and I know that there are people who understand it far better than I do. That's not "blind faith," because the proof that it works and that others understand it is right in front of me.


    What does that have to do with religion?

  5. I think people like Sarah Palin use the rhetoric of violence because people respond to it, both positively and negatively. The atmosphere of "revolution" and "yeah they should be scared" is carnival-like, if you've ever seen a Tea Party rally. The implicit threat of violence is very much deliberate, and adds to the general excitement. And it deliberately provokes liberals who say it's inappropriate and dangerous, a response they can then mock. (Call it the "Limbaugh maneuver.")


    Of course, real populist political violence is often not unlike a carnival, too. That one could feed from the other and make it too real is hardly a remote possibility.


    I personally think the whole thing is very childish and in bad taste, and I don't think you can be intellectually honest and say the rhetoric and the real violence have nothing to do with one another. However, I can't support holding childish provocateurs responsible when real life crazies don't realize it's all a game.

  6. In your experience, is that framing common?


    Yes, extremely. You hear God of the Gaps arguments any time there are such "debates" about atheism. You hear it from public figures trying to get intelligent design into public schools, or from people like O'Reilly or Palin or televangelists. You see it in all the marathon hundreds-post-long threads right here on SFN from creationist trolls, both generally "nobody's figured this out yet, therefore a wizard did it" and the personal level as a debating strategy, choosing to specifically engage those who are less educated and less careful debaters, as if stumping one person were evidence of anything.

  7. I think the situation is a lot more complicated than just "the Islamic world hates the West." For example, Saudi Arabia, which is a nation is about as Islamic as they come, is also the single most loyal ally of the United States. It's also the original home of Osama Bin Laden and most of the 9/11 hijackers. Several of my coworkers are devout Muslim and patriotic Americans. Yet immigration from Islamic countries to the West is a major source of culture clash and tension. Etc., etc.


    I don't pretend to understand all the various factors, social and historical, that have lead to the current tension, but I will say that I think looking at poverty is a good start. (Not that it's as simple as "jealousy.") It seems like wealth and anti-Western sentiment have a pretty strong inverse correlation within the Islamic world.

  8. Why is it that believers in god can throw out arbitrary natural phenomenon and demand on-the-spot explanation by non-believers and then use their ignorance as proof they're wrong - yet non-believers can in turn question arbitrary god phenomenon to which believers cite ignorance (ie..god works in mysterious ways) and somehow it's *not* proof that *they're* wrong?


    I guess what I'm saying is..if it's valid to assume someone is wrong upon being stumped by a sidewinder then why doesn't this work both ways? I've asked literally hundreds of questions about god and nature throughout my life that were answered with shrugs and appeals to superior supernatural intelligence. Yet I never thought that was proof they were wrong.


    If we were required to understand everything about something before we believed in it, we would believe nothing. No one knows everything about anything. Everyone is ignorant about some of everything, at the very least. If I merely have to stump you to prove you wrong, then I can prove all of you wrong about everything.


    I agree with you completely. But I should point out that the situation here is not even that. O'Reilly isn't asking a question about atheism, he's asking a question about physics. This makes no sense unless he's implying that all of science falls under the category of "atheism," which adds a couple extra layers of ridiculous.


    Of course, that particular framing is hardly unusual. "You personally can't fully explain cosmological inflation theory? So why aren't you a Christian?"

  9. Presuming that if a unicorn exists it is defined as a white horse with a horn on its head.

    Q If the Unicorn exists does it have a gall bladder

    A Yes (I think horses will have gall bladders)

    Q If the Unicorn exists does it eat rocks

    A No - we have defined it as very horselike


    To deny the existence of a Unicorn one must have a fairly clear conception of what a Unicorn is defined as (ie it cannot just be defined as a mammal with a spiral grooved horn on its forehead - qv narwhal). Doesn't the same apply to god?



    See, that's just it. I don't think of unicorns as being necessarily white, but I do think of them as having supernatural properties, as they are generally depicted as more than simply a mundane horse with a horn on its head.


    So yes, I am confident that there does not exist a being that I would call a unicorn, although I have only the vaguest definition of what that would actually be. Certainly not specific enough to say whether it has a gall bladder. And yes, there are some definitions of "unicorn" that could be said to exist (narwhale, rhinoceros), but I wouldn't call those things unicorns.


    Similarly, I'm fairly confident that there does not exist something that I would call "god," even though there are countless hypothetical beings with various properties (more varied than unicorns) that might reasonably be called by that name. And there are things which do exist (the laws of physics, the universe itself) which some might call "god," but I would not.


    So even the question "does god exist" can only be given a very casual answer without an explanation of what is meant by the word.


    EDIT: I'm looking at the Wikipedia article on unicorns, and it's very interesting. Apparently Marco Polo described finding "unicorns:"


    scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead... They have a head like a wild boar's… They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions.


    Clearly he's describing a rhinoceros. Yet apparently it didn't occur to him that he was describing a different animal - he thought it was the mythological unicorn, but that it had entirely different properties from popular conception!


    Clearly, it's a problem of defining the essential properties of a thing. Who's to say that a rhinoceros is not, in fact, a unicorn?

  10. This forum is private property. We are invited to discuss certain topics here and are given a great deal of freedom in doing so, but that doesn't mean anyone has a right to do so. Not allowing someone to use this property to say something is not a restriction of their ability to say it elsewhere, just like stopping you from drawing on the side of my house is not a violation of freedom of speech, and I certainly think any court anywhere would agree.

  11. Your confusion seems to come from not distinguishing between length and area. For example, when you say "3 cm object," do you mean an object that is 3 cm long, or an object that has an area of 3 cm?


    Or, I also don't know what you're talking about. I don't see what mystery you're talking about.

  12. Just as the finite space traveled is infinitely divisible, so is the finite time you take to travel it. You have "infinite" time in the same way you have to travel an "infinite" distance. If you took the same amount of time for each step and that amount was finite, you would of course never reach your goal, but just as the distance in each step decreases by half, so does the time, and the sum of each infinite series is finite. Hence, you arrive at your destination in a finite time.

  13. I bit a bullet in saying that "if god exists she can square the circle," since that makes all rational discussion meaningless. I changed it to false, and it was a hit, because earlier I had said that a god could do anything. Of course, I don't think that it's possible to have much of a coherent definition of "god" in the first place, so I filled in those questions pretty casually. Yes, it's contradictory. I knew that ahead of time! Aren't I only a hypocrite if I said that "god exists?"


    Otherwise, perfect score.


    I'm surprised you guys got caught in the certain, irrevocable proof thing. Personally, all I would need is reasonable likelihood.

  14. I don't know, but I would guess it's higher than you think. For example, you'll eventually get hypothermia in water that is lower than about 80 degrees. Normally, you are heating the air around you with your body (air being a lot easier to heat than water) and wearing clothes to trap that warm air, so you're not actually exposed to ambient temperature. That's what wind chill is - air at ambient temperature replacing air warmed by your body.


    So really, I'm not even sure you could stay in ordinary room temperature, if you were naked, sedentary, and there was a breeze.

  15. I agree with Ringer. As a general statement, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with trying to persuade someone to share a belief that you hold. At least, it isn't ethically wrong.


    There are some interesting grey areas, though. For example, in what one raises one's children to believe, since coming from a parent the line between "persuasion" and "force" is often blurry. If it was my religion that children must never leave the basement and cover themselves with their own feces, and that is what I taught my own, I'm pretty sure the courts would rule that child abuse even if I never physically forced them. Or, suppose that my religion was that it was necessary for you to kill people, and I tried to convince you of such. That's basically what Charles Manson was convicted of, as "conspiracy to commit murder". I myself would still not be directly harming anyone, right?

  16. True enough but General Relativity does not require that the universe is expanding as a 3 dimensional manifold of some higher dimensional construct. this expansion idea is a mathematical model of the universe constructed to accommodate the presumptions of arbitrary cosmological principles.


    So no zapatos, there is no major problem with relativity whether or not one assumes expansion. The assumption does provide an mechanism whereby the universe can be considered uniform in all dimensions regardless of ones position and this is the answer to your question. The alternative to the posited expansion is that the earth must be close to the center of the observable universe so that it appears to be uniform in every direction.


    Those "arbitrary cosmological principles" are very well experimentally supported. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space#Observational_evidence) The Earth being close to the "center of the universe" does not account for observations, and we currently have no workable (i.e., not contradicted by observation) models that do not involve expansion.


    Please do not use fringe hypotheses/personal speculation/creation science to respond to questions about mainstream science, especially without identifying it as such.

  17. I read it all of the time in articles, about stars that "are from a time right after the big bang'. With so many tens and hundreds of billions of light years of space outside the visible universe, just how is it that anybody is able to see what should be dead information? If a star is supposedly 13b lya now, then it was probably 7b lya when a given snapshot was taken, give or take a few, and the difference is made up by the expansion of space over time. And if we can't see them now, then supposedly the james webb will help us see this first generation of occurrences, but i just don't see it because these things that happened 13b ya happened when the universe was only a fraction of its size now and the light from a snapshot such as that long ago would have reached all available points much long ago. It is dead information.


    I'm having trouble parsing what it is you are suggesting. But, to be clear, when we see an event that occured 13 billion years ago (i.e. soon after the big bang), that object we are seeing was much closer than 13 billion light years away when the light we are seeing was emitted, and is much farther away than 13 billion light years away now, because of expansion. I don't know what you mean by "dead information."

  18. Although there may have been some medical logic to forbidding the consumption of pig meat in Judaism and Islam, some have argued that eating pigs seems too close to cannibalism -- given the similarity between pig faces and some human faces, as well as between the image of a pig and an overweight, naked human -- so the revulsion at eating our own species was transferred to pigs as well.


    I don't know about that, but supposedly human flesh also tastes a lot like pork, to the point where there are a couple of documented cases of murderous butchers selling it as such and getting away with it for a while. (Other accounts claim it is similar to veal.)

  19. Why is the temperature hotter the farther down you go in the earth? Is it because of the gravitational pressure?


    Kind of. The Earth is hot for several reasons. Primarily, it is because of the energy left over from its formation, as all that gravitational potential energy was converted to kinetic and converted to heat (i.e., giant rocks crashing into one another). There is also leftover heat from friction as the Earth's heavier elements sink to the core and lighter elements rise. Plus, as you say, the pressure heating everything up as it compresses. None of these are a continual sources of heat, though, and in fact the Earth is gradually cooling off as it radiates infrared out into space. This is the main reason it's hotter the farther down you go. The outside cools first, and insulates the parts farther down.


    Additionally, there is some heat generated from radioactive elements in the core and mantle, as cypress said.

  20. !

    Moderator Note

    Destiny, you already started a thread on this topic in this forum. We also noticed that you made identical posts on several other forums. This is not in itself against our rules, but you cannot keep posting and leaving. We will not allow you to use this site to simply promote an agenda without engaging in discussion, and so this thread has been locked.

  21. what is the difference between recession and motion from the perspective of the objects involved?


    Recession, as in cosmic expansion, is an increase in the metric of space and thus overall decrease of the density of the universe. Motion is just rearranging of things within the universe. Or to put it another way, motion is travel from point A to point B. Recession is when point A and point B get farther apart.


    From the perspective of the objects involved, this matters a great deal. For instance, it is impossible for any two objects to have a relative velocity of C or greater. However, objects can recede at faster than C, such that they are no longer causally connected, unless the rate of expansion slows. It creates a "horizon" for every point in the universe, beyond which no information can ever reach.


    The part of the black hole where matter-energy goes and doesn't leave.


    Ok, so beyond the event horizon then. But that region is not simply a bubble of disconnected space. In fact it's arguably not really "space" at all, inasmuch as space becomes time.


    So the whole just magically transcends the sum of the parts?


    Magically? I believe the suggestion of infinite energy was contingent on the universe itself being infinite, right? So, if the overall energy density of the universe is some finite quantity greater than zero, and the universe is infinite in size, then the total amount of energy in the universe is infinite.


    How is gravity negative energy?


    Here is an explanation:




    I no longer see the point of this. What does it matter whether matter-energy is infinite or finite? If it was finite instead of infinite, what parameters of a model of the universe would that affect?


    Surely whether the universe is infinite or finite is a pretty fundamental aspect of the model? Anyway, I don't know. I was just trying to help clear up what seemed like a misunderstanding.

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