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  1. I've developed a new argument for the nonexistence of god, which is really just a refinement of the argument from evil to get around some of the more common objections which have to do with the peculiarities of the word "evil." This could be called the argument form the imperfection of the universe, since even if human experience was to be made incrementally better, the argument could be reiterated with that incrementally better universe ad infinitum. The only universe in which the argument would not work would be a universe where humans' experience of the universe was infinitely good. Put another way, we can know that there is no being which has both omnipotence and omnibenevolence because our experience of the universe is not infinity good. The argument works amusing a traditional definition of God à la Aquinas, Anselm et al which involves perfection and all the individual perfections it entails viz omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. Here's the argument: 1. If a being was omnipotent, than it could make humans' experience of the universe better than it is. (follows from the definition of omnipotence) 2. If a being was omnibenevolent, than it would make humans' experience as good as a it could. (follows from the definition of omnibenevolence) 3. Therefore, if a being that was both omnipotent and omnibenevolent existed, than humans' experience of the universe would be better than it is. (follows from one and two) 4. Humans' experience of the universe is not better than it is. (true by tautology) 5. Therefore a being which is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent does not exist. (follows from three and four by modus tollens) 6. God is defined as a being who is (among other things) both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. (by the traditional definition of God) 7. Therefore, God does not exist. (follows from five and six by substitution) I don't think there's anyway out of this argument except to try to advance some definition of god that does not involve omnipotence and omnibenevolence. At the very least, that would make this definitive proof that the god of the Catholic Church does not exit. Can anyone see a problem with this argument?
  2. True. But, recently the Supreme Court's interpretation of the commerce clause has been broad enough that they ruled that it allowed the Feds to arrest someone growing and consuming their own marijuana, which wasn't commerce, much less interstate commerce. see: Gonzales v. Raich
  3. I'm not sure what you mean when you say you don't get why it doesn't fall under the commerce clause. The commerce clause simply grants Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, the argument from the opponents of the law was that the commerce clause doesn't specifically allow Congress to regulate commerce that does not yet exist. Chief Justice Roberts agreed with them on this but said that it didn't matter because the power to lay and collect taxes was sufficient to allow congress to enact the legislation. (Strictly speaking, under the doctrines of judicial restraint and constitutional avoidance, the Court probably shouldn't have spoken on the dormant commerce issue because it wasn't strictly necessarily to resolve the question the law's constitutionality. Though maybe they chose to rule on it because it was one of the questions they granted a writ of certiorari on.) Congress only needs to have authority under one section of the Constitution for its enactment of a law to be upheld. I do agree with you, though, that the precedent that Congress can create new taxes and make them contingent on basically what ever it wants has a pretty large potential for abuse.
  4. Just to point out, my post fairly accurately predicted the reasoning the Roberts used in the majority opinion (reasoning which almost no one else predicted). Either I'm a genius, or Roberts reads SFN (or perhaps both).
  5. There's also the minor fact that your theory appears to rely on the existence of ether (by which you appear to mean luminiferous aether) which was pretty definitively proved not to exist way back in 1887. Look up the Michelson Experiment.
  6. Just to point out, I was right. The case will be reheard en banc and most experts believe that it will be reversed for some of the reasons I pointed out in my earlier post. http://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/08-1387_documents.pdf
  7. Hi boob . . .

  8. Actually, there are quite a few good reasons why women would be expected to not do as well as men in some of the fields you mentioned even without societal discrimination. For one thing, fields like business and politics tend to reward traits like aggression, assertiveness, and confidence, all of which happen to be correlated with testosterone levels. An even more significant factor that limits the number of women who will be highly successful is greater male variability. This phenomenon occurs across species in virtually all metrics. (The evolutionary reasons for this are fascinating. I'll explain in a footnote below.) It means that in traits like intelligence, males and females have virtually the same average but males have slightly higher variability. This means that males make up a greater share of those with well below average IQ's but also a greater share of those with well above average IQ's. The catch is that the relationship between ability and earnings makes this a pretty good deal for men. For example, you mentioned the field of academia. Academics tend to be much smarter than the average person, and because males are over-represented at both extremes of intelligence, they would be over-represented in fields that draw on those at the extremely high end of the intelligence spectrum (e.g math and science.) Footnote: Imagine generating a graph, where on the x-axis you put fitness in a given trait, like muscular strength or speed, and on the y-axis you put the average number of offspring for individuals with that level of fitness. If you were to generate such graphs for males and females in a given species, for most species you would get radically different graphs for a simple reason: in most species males compete for the right to mate with females, and not the other way around. This means that for females with extraordinarily low fitness, there would be few opportunities to mate, because the chance of surviving to would be effected extremely negatively. As females' fitness improved, we would expect the average number of offspring to improve, until the point where ill-fitness is no longer a determent to survival. However, since females are not competing for mates with each other, improved fitness beyond this point would not improve the average number of offspring by much more than the effect of slightly increased survival. Therefore, the graph of female fitness versus average number of offspring would be expected to be logarithmic, with fairly dramatic increases in the lower ranges and then a steady decrease in the slope. On the other hand if we imagine the graph for males of most species, we would again expect almost no offspring for the very unfit specimens, but as fitness improved, the number of mate would not improve very fast, as the relatively unfit males would still be heavily out-competed for mates by more fit males. Once we passed a certain point, we would expect the slope of the graph to increase drastically, as increasingly fit males out-compete less fit males by even more dramatic degrees. Therefore, we would expect the graph of male fitness versus average number of offspring to be exponential. Now imagine you have a normally-distributed trait that benefits both males and females when its species-wide average increased. Intelligence is an example of such a trait. Imagine what happens to both sexes when you change the variability of the trait. For both sexes, if you increase the variability of the trait you are increasing both the number of well-below-average and well-above-average individuals. Consider the effect this would have on the number of offspring in the next generation. For females, when you increase the number of extremely unfit individuals, you do great harm to the number of offspring generated at the lower end of the spectrum, while at the higher end of the spectrum, increased fitness has little effect on the females' ability to produce offspring, so the upper end of the spectrum does not compensate for the loss at the bottom. For males, increasing variability has the exact opposite effect: the exponential gain in the upper end of the spectrum more than compensates for the increasingly insignificant differences between individuals at the lower end of the spectrum. Therefore, it would seem that you could optimize the number of offspring by making variability for males high and low for females. As you might guess, this is exactly what nature has done. Not only is variability in many traits influences by sex hormones, but in many traits, in many species, when young are born, variability in most traits is relatively low. When males near sexual maturity and male sex hormone is released in vast quantities, male variability skyrockets. Indeed, this is what happens with IQ in humans. Throughout life, males and females have virtually the same average IQ scores. When young children's IQ's are tested, males and females also have virtually the same variability. However, when they hit puberty, the males' variability increases (a difference in spatial and verbal intelligence also develops, but that's not particularly relevant to this point). Footnote to the footnote: The process of the evolution of greater male variability actually had a greater effect on human evolution than on many other species. This is because of the way many primates mate: with a dominant male who virtually monopolizes mating opportunities until a new dominant male arrives. (It is so with many great apes, and it was also true that for most of human evolution, the most common "family structure" was a single male with multiple females.) Going back to the graphs in the previous footnote: this would have little effect on the female graph, but for the male graph the effect would be huge. For non-dominant males, mating opportunities would be extremely rare and so the average number of offspring would remain quite low, until we reached the point at which males would have a decent chance of being dominant, perhaps to standard deviations above the mean, at this point we would see and astronomical jump in the number of average offspring produced. Under such conditions, greater male variability was virtually guaranteed to evolve.
  9. If I'm understanding you correctly, TiredTomato, you want to build an automated vehicle for land, sea and air for your science fair, you're going to be programming the thing, and you're in the process of learning c++. Is that right? Assuming this isn't a joke or an attempt at trolling: No one has yet pointed out the challenges of the land phase of the thing, so I'll just say that some of the best scientists in the world have been trying for years to build an automated vehicle just for the land, to say nothing of sea and air. After several years and millions of dollars, a team from Carnage Mellon and General Motors built something that can travel at an average of 14mph, and they were surprised it did that well. The challenge you've set for your self is immense, and you should probably be prepared for disappointment. (Google "darpa challenge") I'll also point out that one of my science fair projects in high school involved solar ovens made out of aluminum foil and it won me a sizable scholarship. Complexity isn't always a good thing, and more complexity than you can handle dooms you to failure.
  10. Do you have any actual basis for that or is it just bald assertion? All the latest polls show Obama beating all republican challengers (except, for some bizarre reason, for Rudy Giuliani who isn't even running) http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/08/11/gop2012poll.pdf http://www.democracycorps.com/wp-content/files/dcor120811fq_WEBSITE.pdf http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/09/120110/before-declaring-perry-in-2nd.html The last election prediction I remember you making was years ago when you told us that you were certain that Norm Coleman would beat Al Franken. That prediction smacked of wishful thinking on your part, and this one does too.
  11. You're going in circles. I said in the original post that the full text of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act is available here http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/images/00001/20091008141223.pdf, and that the Act does absolutely nothing to subject anyone to any penalties for discriminating against a gay couple. Whether or not there are other laws subject those who want to discriminate against gays to any penalties is absolutely irrelevant. In the US you can not challenge a given law on the grounds that some other law violates your rights. If there is some law that says people cannot discriminate against gay couples, the Church can raise this argument to challenge that law, but challenging a law that simply allows gays to marry on the grounds that the Church is using to challenge it makes absolutely no sense from a Civil-Procedure prospective, from a constitutional-law prospective or from a logical prospective. I have already explained the process of an "as applied challenge." If anyone is subject to penalties for discriminating against a gay couple despite his religious beliefs, he can claim in Court that the law that subjects him to penalties is unconstitutional as applied to him because it violates his religious liberties under the First Amendment to the Constitution. In addition, ewmon was quite right in stating that its up to the Church to prove that the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act does something to harm their rights. They are the plaintiffs here and as such the burden of proof is on them. Overturning an administrative decision in Court in the US requires the plaintiff to prove that the administrative decision was "arbitrary and capricious"; you've already said that you read the Board of Elections and Ethics decision and found it to be reasonable.
  12. imatfaa - Law making by referendum is not the norm in DC, or anywhere else that I am aware of. The system of checks and balances was not endangered, nor the calculus of policy making. Your confusion may be coming from the Church's rather convoluted recitation of the facts, so I'll summarize for you: The DC recognizes two methods of lawmaking: the normal legislative process where a law is voted on by the City Council and approved by the Mayor, and the referendum/initiative process. (There are some additional complexities in the law making process due to DC's status as a federal city and the involvement of the United States Congress, but those complexities are not relevant here, at least not yet.) Almost every law is made by the first process, and this law was no exception. The DC City Council heard and considered testimony from the Catholic Church and other religious organizations. The Catholic Church didn't like the outcome of the normal process so they tried to initiate the extraordinary process of referendum/initiative. They "filed two petitions with the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics: first for a ballot initiative to affirmatively define marriage as between a man and a woman, and then for a referendum to overturn enactment of the same-sex marriage bill." There was only one problem with this: its not a valid exercise of the referendum/initiative process. The process, like any process is subject to certain rules, and one of those rules says that once the Council has acted to create an anti-discrimination law, that law is not subject to recall by the referendum process. There is a very important historical reason for this rule: during the civil rights era, the Council passed several important laws regrading racial discrimination and the populace reacted by trying to repeal those laws via initiative. The council recognized a tradition that goes back to the Founding Fathers of fearing "rule by the mob" and of protecting the rights of the minority against the whims of the majority. They, therefore, amended the section of the City Charter that deals with referendums to protect anti-discrimination laws from repeal by initiative. In this case, the Church introduced a referendum and an initiative , and the Board of Elections and Ethics properly ruled that both were subject to the anti-discrimination rule and could not go forward. The Church appealed both decisions to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which has already ruled that the Board acted properly in denying the initiative. Now, in the case regarding the referendum, the Church is raising an argument that makes a mockery of civil procedure, constitutional law, and logic.
  13. http://site.adw.org/pdfs/10SSM_BOEE_RelLib_0205.pdf The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is arguing that DC's new Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act violates Catholics' religious liberty. The paper starts out with the Archdiocese opining that their religious liberties are being taken away but not saying exactly how. At first, I thought the law might have forced ministers to officiate gay marriages. But of course this is not the case. The Archdioceses' complaint is that The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act creates no penalties for discriminating against a gay couple. (the full text of the act is available here: http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/images/00001/20091008141223.pdf) If there are any penalties, they would derive from the Human Rights Act. So, lets make their argument clear: they're arguing that the they could be penalized under the Human Rights Act if they discriminate against a gay couple, and that therefore, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act violates their religious freedoms. Holy nonsequiter, batman! If Catholics honestly believe their religious freedoms are being violated, there is a legally recognized way to litigate this. If one of these supposedly persecuted caterers were to face penalties under the Human Rights Act, they would be entitled to the affirmative defense that the HRA is unconstitutional as applied to him/her. Arguing that the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act violates religious freedoms makes absolutely no sense either from a procedural or a constitutional prospective. Lets set aside the fact that their argument runs askew of very basic legal procedure, and look at their underlying argument, which appears to be "If a group's religious beliefs include discriminating against some group, then a law that protects that group from discrimination violates the group's religious freedoms." If the Court were to set that precedent, then under the principle of stare decisis they would be bound to enforce it in future cases, with some pretty ridiculous consequences: Wahabists could bring suit arguing that their religion requires discrimination against women and that laws forbidding sex based discrimination violate their religious freedom. Perhaps most ironically, fundamentalist Muslims could make the case that there has been an active jihad against the Catholic Church since the crusades and that any law which prevents them from discriminating against Catholics (perhaps including murder laws) violates Muslims' religious liberties. There are some more fundamental problems with the Archdioceses' argument, but I don't want to appear pedantic.
  14. Yeah, it was only a suggestion; the point was to renew conversation about fixing the politics forum. But, I do stand by my position that the right to start new threads in the politics section should be restricted. Especially in light light of threads like these: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59183-right-or-wrong-brains-or-brawn/ http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59132-logical-argument-to-consider/ http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59162-fortunately-most-countries-are-nowhere-near-their-maximum-sustainable-population-sizes/ http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59118-just-for-interests-sake/ http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59008-wealthy-people/ Quite frankly, the politics forum is drowning in shit and and something needs to be done about it.
  15. O.k. sorry, then. I suppose saying through me off.
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