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Everything posted by Severian

  1. It would react differently to matter for a beam of W-bosons though.
  2. You are right. I was being quite restrictive in my definition. It would disprove any religion with a sentient god, but if your religion was "there is no such thing as free-will" I suppose you would be fine By "no free-will" I mean that placing the person in an isolated environment where the initial conditions are exactly known, the observer could in principle predict every action taken by the person (no matter how small) for the rest of time.
  3. I can't remember the movie very well, but I think there were probably lots of things that made it infeasible. I think keeping official government communication away from a citizen would be a problem. For example, they deprived him of the right to vote.
  4. The trouble with society is that to take part, you really need to behave like everyone else does, or put yourself at a short term disadvantage. For example, imagine that the kidney trade became so commonplace that your were expected to do it in order to fund your education. If you didn't do it, you don't get educated, so end up in a low paid job. People would then feel they had to sell a kidney. In other words, placing a monetary value on something can result in indirect coercion to give that something up.
  5. How do you define a 'bad person'?
  6. I think proving that we had no free-will would do it. I have no idea how you would go about that though.
  7. You have a quite staggering misconception about the lives of Christians. I have never held a service for God (I have been to one, but not held one), I have never raised or collected money for missionary work (though I have given money), and I have never gone door to door trying to evangelise. And most of my Christian friends have never done this either. (Some have, but certainly not most.) But anyway, what would be wrong with doing these things? Why are they so abhorrent in your eyes, deserving of so much hatred? Why shouldn't I hold a service for God, where like minded people can come together and share their faith? Why shouldn't I collect money for missionary work, as long as I am clear about what it is going to be used for? Why shouldn't I be allowed to express my religious beliefs to others in the hopes of persuading them of the truth, as long as I am not unpleasant or confrontational about it? I guarantee that I have had considerably more aggressive proselytizing from atheists, trying to persuade me to adopt their faith, than I have ever given out as a Christian.
  8. I was not misrepresenting his argument. He only has evidence of life on Earth, as I only have evidence of Hamlet on Earth. His claim was that having the correct ingredients and circumstances for life imply that intelligent life must form; I pointed out that any planet with the right ingredients and circumstances for intelligent life also have the right ingredients and circumstances for Hamlet to be written. So if he has evidence, so do I!
  9. I don't think that is a fair argument though. I think we can pretty definitely say that the world would be better if we all had absolute knowledge of everything, but we don't so, it is unfair to bunk my point by saying it would be OK again with even more knowledge. Another example would be the nuclear bomb. If the Cuban crisis had actually ended in WWIII then the knowledge of how to make the bomb would definitely have been disadvantageous to everyone.
  10. It is certainly not a Straw Man. While I admit the chance of them performing Hamlet is less than the chance of them existing (obviously), the post I was criticising did nothing to quantify the probability, and did not attempt to estimate the cut-off at which the argument is no longer valid. In other words, his argument really amounts to "if it can happen, it will happen"; I was pointing out that that is a silly argument that can be used to "prove" all manner of ridiculous notions.
  11. It does make me angry when I think people are being deliberately obtuse and unreasonable. I think you know perfectly well what the differences between Daffy Duck and God are, and are just trolling for attention. (And I suppose I am stupid enough to feed you.) The key point here, as I keep saying, is reliable evidence. I have evidence that Bugs Bunny is made up, but you have no evidence that Christianity was made up. You have still not managed, or even attempted, to contradict that. I don't know much about Mormonism, but presumably there is not hard evidence that it was made up. I may not believe in it myself, and I may even think it is a silly thing to believe, but I still have the intellectual honesty of admitting that their belief cannot be disproved and give them and their beliefs the respect they deserve. Once again you use an appeal to ridicule to make your point. It is not reasonable that there would be a Church of Daffy Duck because he is a cartoon character. We all know he is a cartoon character and can't imagine him as anything other than a cartoon character. His elevation to godhood would be very peculiar since he has made not claims to the divine, said nothing spiritually deep and can't even exist in principle in the real world (ie. outside of cartoons). You try and transfer the ridiculousness of your position on to God. One could equally well suggest that there may be people, 2000 years in the future, who deny that Obama wasn't a real person. Maybe he was made up and inserted into the historical record? Maybe by then all hard evidence that he ever existed was gone. While I respect their right to believe that he didn't exist, I know they are wrong. A lack of evidence for something does not mean that it doesn't exist (otherwise we would all be forced to claim that no alien life exists). Isn't that what you are doing in this thread? Most Christians don't do any of that either.
  12. This is a science forum (though sometimes it is hard to believe) so the presance or absence of evidence seems rather important. We have evidence that all these "beings", other than God, have been created as imaginary characters, within the last century. You may think that God is imaginary too, and has been made up by man - that is entirely up to you - but we have no evidence of that. So if you want to refute my argument you either need to refute the evidence that Bugs Bunny et al are made up, or provide evidence that God is.
  13. It is completely different because you have actual hard evidence that bugs bunny and mickey mouse are not real, because their creation as cartoons is well known and documented! Again, you are trying to move the goalposts, because from your reply it seems like you are now trying to redefine mickey mouse and bugs bunny as supernatural beings. If they really were supernatural gods with miraculous powers, then maybe they did meet in the NY hotel room - who are you to claim not if you have no evidence? But then they are not bugs bunny and mickey mouse because we reserve those names for the cartoon characters. This is the same fallacious argument that idiots invoke when bringing up the flying spaghetti monster.
  14. "Blind faith, unwavering devotion, moral absolutism, and obedience to a supreme will" are not theist properties - they are things that are inherent to some religious systems. They are also inherent in political systems and philosophies that have nothing to do with theism. Your property is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for a philosophy to by theist. You can believe whatever you like, but I hope you would agree that this is no longer an unreasonable belief.
  15. I think it probably is possible to somewhere between the two. I certainly know people who swither between the two, having a very vague feeling that some higher power exists, but not really sure. You could of course argue that they are atheists, with brief moments of theism, I suppose. As a theist myself, I find it incredible how some people can argue that theism is, in of itself, evil and responsible for persecution and murder throughout history. Theism is a very very wide brief of viewpoints, philosophies and beliefs and even within religions there is a very wide interpretation of religious teachings. To suggest that I (or my beliefs) am somehow responsible for the burning of witches in the middle ages or the decisions of the Kansas school board, is just ridiculous, and one would have thought that a scientific community like this one really ought to know better. In fact, this tarring of theists all with the same brush is discriminatory and prejudiced. People who express these views are committing crass generalisations, judging people worthy or unworthy according to labels, rather than judging each individual on their own merits. We have largely gotten past such things when discussing race and gender, so isn't it time we did the same for philosophical beliefs? I think this is a good example of a very bad analogy, dreamed up to make religion look silly, which works only to fool stupid people. On the one hand, this sort of thing is probably just the original author (presumably not Maret) not understanding his own argument, but on the other, I suspect this is a deliberate and underhanded attempt to mislead. I also believe that Maret understands very well why this is a crap analogy, so posting this is very dishonest. The reason why it is a bad analogy (in case you haven't already realised) is that Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse are 'entities' we already know a lot about. We know they are cartoon characters, and we know who thought them up, and we have evidence to back that up. Therefore our disbelief in this scenario is not based on anything to do with them meeting in New Jersey - it is to do with the fact that we know they are cartoon characters. The "evidence that they ever met" is completely superfluous and designed to distract the eye away from the obvious ridiculousness of the situation. In order to make it a more appropriate analogy we need to take away our preconceptions about the perpetrators. Let's pretend their names have been removed for security reasons: "[deleted] and [deleted] met in a New Jersey hotel many decades ago to plan the overthrow of the U.S. government and thoroughly destroyed all evidence that they ever met". Do you know think that this is something it would be stupid to believe?
  16. Severian

    Death Penalty

    It benefits society by releasing money for 'worthwhile' things, like easing poverty, or building a new school or hospital. Of course, you would have to reduce the (frankly ridiculous) appeals procedure we have now, since keeping someone on death row for a long time is very expensive. Also, I think you could make an argument for executing all violent criminals. That would mean violent criminals are permanently removed from the streets for a much reduced cost, but more significantly, prisons become more sane places with a serious prospect of rehabilitation and not just the criminal training camps they are now. Such a move would drastically reduce crime in our society (at the cost of some innocent deaths via wrongful execution). Remember that the people who you wrongfully execute for murder, are usually in that situation because of their life choices. They are a member of a gang, or have a record of violence and have usually committed some violent crime in the past. It is quite rare to wrongly convict someone who has lead an exemplary life. And even if they are totally innocent, these are the same people who we are at the moment locking up for years in a dangerous prison. You have already ruined their lives by sticking them in with violent killers to be bullied and gang raped.
  17. Severian

    Death Penalty

    We do plenty of things with an inherent risk of death. You get in your car with the knowledge that someone may crash into you and kill you, but we still drive cars because we believe the cost of not driving (inconvenience) is more than the cost of an accident (a small chance of death). Participating in a society with a death penalty carries a similar small risk of death, but we sign up for that risk when we join the democratic process. The innocent lives lost are unfortunate but not intentional, so should be considered like any other accident. Also, the "small chance" of death this way is way way smaller than the chance of death via a raid accident. Edit: Note to admin: posting from a mobile gives lots of weird formatting errors.
  18. Severian

    Death Penalty

    As I have said before on these forums, I don't think this is a moral argument. I think it is always immoral to kill, but sometimes society has to balance out different 'evils' and make a choice. In this case, if the person can be rehabilitated at reasonable cost, then they should not have the death penalty. If they cannot, they should be executed. The money spent on housing a murderer for the rest of his life, is money not spent on front-line life-saving services to the poor, such as medical care. Once we life in a society that is free from poverty and hunger, then we may indulge in the 'luxury' of housing murderers in prisons. (And, as I have said before, the risk of executing an innocent is a red herring.)
  19. Incidentally, the new mobile version of the forums is rather nice.
  20. Why not? If I am arguing about the illogicality of atheism, why can I not pick and choose my definition of god? After all, the atheist position is to deny the existence of any god. If they don't define the god they are denying, then surely I am free to choose? So, I will refute their position in the easiest way I can by using the most easily defended definition of "god" for my argument. This definition may not be the definition of my own God, but (when I take this approach) we are discussing your belief, not mine. In fact, this is one of the biggest problems when discussing with atheists. They move the goalpost about what god they are or are not allowed to include. One moment they are denying the existence of a god who created a flat Earth in 6 days with no mention of the dinosaurs, and then use that argument to claim the non-existence of any definition of god, including those with no testable consequences. You can't have it both ways, atheists.
  21. Lately I have been finding the forum is behaving strangely. I am missing the names on the tops of people's posts and the avatars are in a funny place. Any idea what is wrong? Edit: Hmm - seems to be a problem with "SFN" style setting since "--SFN Blue" works fine.
  22. Is that list a complete set of all possible gods? If we want a definitive proof, we have to make sure we span the space.
  23. It does kind of look like blood.
  24. 8.1 I lie and say it is mine. 8.2 I don't tell. Just because they are going on a date doesn't mean they are going to have sex, and maybe he will tell her over dinner.
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