Consistent self-contradiction

PZ Myers recounts a visit his blog had from a bunch of Hovind fanatics.

I can summarize their argument very briefly:

  • Your ability to reason comes from god.
  • Therefore, if you use reason, you prove the existence of god.
  • If you use reason to disprove god, you actually prove god.
  • If you claim any of their arguments are logically fallacious, you are using reason, which comes from god, therefore you prove them correct.

Maddening, isn’t it? But at least they’re being consistently self-contradictory. Let’s look at their argument and see what it tells us.

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Making good men evil

There’s an interesting thread happening in the comments for my post about God as an abusive husband. One commenter raised a few eyebrows by using strong rhetoric regarding William Lane Craig and his own prospective future vis à vis torment, and others reacted. It was a bit strong for my tastes as well, but I’m listening, and here’s a point I think is worth discussing.

Craig is not Evil-with-a-capital-E Evil, just evil-with-a-lowercase-e evil. I believe he can still be redeemed, but he’s so stuck in his epistemological and prideful rut that only experiencing something that will completely shatter him will knock him out of it.

Even John Loftus, a former pupil of his and kind of a scary guy himself, thinks the man is basically good. I would agree, in the sense that he probably isn’t a primary sociopath and would probably make most of the same moral choices the elusive “normal/control human” would (and for the same irreligious reasons).

However, this is a man who wields considerable “soft power” and whose writings are perpetuating a civilization-corroding, corrupt religion and culture. And say what you will, but there is nothing as evil-minded as thinking that any sentient being deserves infinite punishment for finite crimes.

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Pilot swerves to avoid collision with planet

In a story that might almost have been funny if nobody had been hurt, an Air Canada pilot put his aircraft into a steep dive to avoid a collision—with the planet Venus.

Sixteen passengers and crew were hurt in the January 2011 incident, when the first officer rammed the control stick forward to avoid a U.S. plane he wrongly thought was heading straight toward him.

The pilot had just awakened from a long nap and was still a bit groggy at the time.

“Under the effects of significant sleep inertia (when performance and situational awareness are degraded immediately after waking up), the first officer perceived the oncoming aircraft as being on a collision course and began a descent to avoid it,” Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said.

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Aiming for stupidity

The Happy Scientist took a look at the test questions for Florida’s FCAT exam, used to assess whether or not fifth graders have achieved expected levels of scientific literacy for their age group, and found some problems.

I expected the Test Item Specifications to be a tremendous help in writing simulated FCAT questions. What I found was a collection of poorly written examples, multiple-choice questions where one or more of the wrong responses were actually scientifically correct answers, and definitions that ranged from misleading to totally wrong.

Click on the link to see some specific examples (the predatory cows are my favorite). But you know what’s even worse? The response he got when he pointed out the problems.

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Gospel Disproof #44: The Bride of Christ and her abusive husband

[Here's an excerpt from this week's On Guard post at Evangelical Realism. The post is about William Lane Craig's defense of Hell, but this one part makes a nice Gospel Disproof all by itself. I've added an introductory paragraph at the beginning, but the rest is from ER.]

One of the big inconsistencies in the Christian Gospel is the whole idea of a “loving” God sending His own children to Hell for the trivial offense of failing to believe He exists—as though He Himself weren’t provoking this unbelief by His consistent and universal failure to show up in real life! It’s an issue that a lot of Christians struggle with even among themselves, and more than a few have become liberals or even agnostics because of the intractable nature of the problem. And in many cases, those who try to defend Hell, like Craig, end up making a bad situation even worse.

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Oo, this is fun

Now this was actually fun, you guys should try it:

  1. Go to www.kiva.org.
  2. Pick a business or family that’s looking for a small loan in a high-poverty and/or underbanked area.
  3. Make a contribution of $25 or more.

What’s fun is that this is loan, not a donation, so the money comes back again. If you keep adding to your account, you can keep making larger and larger loans, and your money is going to promote struggling economies, and help reduce poverty. Plus check out the second-place team–the screen shot’s below the fold.

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Kickstarter for science

Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter have proven popular for groups and individuals looking to get a consumer product, movie, music or video game project off the ground. Now a group of researchers and scientists is adopting a similar crowd-funding model to raise money for scientific research projects. The Microryza website, which launched this week, lets the public get behind research they care about and maybe help it get out of the lab.

via gizmag.com.

Oh, Hell.

Over at Evangelical Realism, this week’s post is all about William Lane Craig’s attempt to defend “The Hell with Christianity.” I think he ends up making a rather convincing argument for God being a purely imaginary deity, but see what you think, if you’re interested.

Whooping cough rising among unvaccinated babies

Via Slashdot:

In its fortnightly Communicable Disease newsletter (PDF), Oregon Public Health officials note increasing cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in infants, with 146 hospitalizations noted in the 2 year period ending March 2011, and at least 4 deaths since 2003. Most cases are attributed to lack of vaccination, with 86% of those due to parents declining the vaccine. ‘Most of our cases are occurring in under- or unvaccinated children, so getting these kids vaccinated seems to the most obvious approach to reducing illness. In principle… pertussis could be eradicated; but we have a long way to go.

Ignorance kills.

Just a few weeks ago

Thought it might be fun to look at what Rick Santorum was saying just a few weeks ago.

“What won’t they resort to try to bully their way through this race?” Santorum asked following a campaign rally at Harvest Graphics, 14625 W. 100th St. in Lenexa. “If the governor Romney thinks he is now ordained by God to win, let’s just have it out.” …

“I’m going to stay in the race because we’re doing really well,” Santorum told reporters following a campaign rally before 200 to 300 supporters on the day after Super Tuesday. “We’re winning states, and where we’re not winning, we’re finishing second, by and large.”

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