So will Christians quit using the Internet now?

This strikes me as mind-bogglingly welcome news:

Google is stepping up its activism on gay rights issues in nations with anti-homosexuality laws on the books, a company official announced Saturday as he kicked off Google’s new “Legalize Love” campaign.

The campaign will focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

Whether this is motivated by genuine humanitarianism or crass public relations, Google deserves major props for recognizing which side is the right side to be on, and for going beyond the passive approach of standing on the sidelines and nodding their heads when people talk about gay rights.

Now they just need to set up a PC recycling program for all the conservative bigots who will be throwing away their computers now that the Internet has come out.

We are infallible

I’ve been thinking lately about presuppositional apologetics, following (among other things) this post on Aron Ra’s blog. I’ve got the beginnings of an approach to addressing presuppositionalism, and just for fun I thought I’d throw out what I’ve got and see what kind of comments it gets. My approach is a bit Pascalesque [EDIT: Cartesian?]: I start with the premise that there is one presupposition we all share (necessarily so) and at least one fact about which we are each absolutely infallible. From these I believe we can build a rational system which will allow us to examine any other presuppositions we might make, and evaluate which of these, if any, are more likely to be correct than the others.

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The 3 proofs of Justin Martyr

I’ve gotten out of the habit of announcing it here, but over at Evangelical Realism we’re working our way through the First Apology of Justin Martyr, just to see how ancient Christianity compares with the modern version. In this week’s installment, Justin wraps up his discussion of the many parallels between the Gospels and a variety of pagan myths, and then tries to prove that these pagan precedents mean that the Gospel alone is true. If you’re a fan of the gymnastics events at the Olympics, you might enjoy watching Justin demonstrate their mental equivalent.

Government considers calculated misinformation to fight insider leaks

Computer scientists call it it “Fog Computing” — a play on today’s cloud computing craze. And in a recent paper for Darpa, the Pentagon’s premiere research arm, researchers say they’ve built “a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation … and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this ‘disinformation technology.’”

via Wired.com. Your tax dollars being used to deceive you and shut down your access to information about government misconduct.

Texas scientists: It could have been us…

It seems I’m not the only one to notice this aspect of the Higgs boson story.

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have unveiled the discovery of a tiny particle Wednesday that may help them understand the nature and even the origin of the universe. It’s a breakthrough Texas lost its chance to try for almost two decades ago, when Congress defunded the costly project…

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Higgs Boson

I heard a rumor that somebody was getting ready to announce the discovery of the Higgs boson, and now I see the discovery being hailed as a done deed on CNN, so I guess they really did it. This is so cool and so awesome! It’s a bit ironic that the discovery was announced on July 4th, the American independence day, by European scientists—if it hadn’t been for penny-pinching anti-science bureaucrats in Washington, that discovery might have been made by, or in conjunction with, an American research team. But America has lost its drive to be pre-eminent in cutting-edge science, preferring instead to come up with innovative ways to mingle science and superstition in public school curricula.

But I digress, and I don’t want my curmudgeonly rant to cast a pall over this tremendous scientific discovery. Like so many in the field of advanced physics, it seems this answer only serves to raise more questions. And that’s the way science ought to work: each new discovery opens the door to making further discoveries. Yes, we have more questions, but now we know what the right questions are, and can start to work on answering them.

Of course, there’s one truly momentous question that’s on everyone’s mind right now, and I’m sure it’s one you all can’t wait to get answered…

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Gospel Disproof #48: A Christmas story

I’m currently re-reading the Terry Pratchett Discworld series, and have made it as far as Hogfather, Pratchett’s decidedly warped perspective on old Father Christmas (or as we Americans would call him, Santa). For some reason this reminded me of a famous quote: “If you understand why you do not believe in everyone else’s gods, then you’ll understand why I do not believe in yours.” It’s pithy, but imperfect, because so many believers have really warped reasons for rejecting other gods. (Justin Martyr, for instance, once explained to Caesar that Jupiter and the other Roman deities were really demons pretending to be gods, in order to lead people to hell.)

With that in mind, I’d like to propose an updated version of the original quote: once you understand why you do not believe in Santa, you’ll understand why I do not believe in Jesus. I know, it’s flawed too (don’t try it on Jews or Muslims, for example). But I think it might be a bit more effective with Christians than the original.

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Firefighting

Imagine you’re a homeowner in a heavily-wooded neighborhood, in a year when the rains have been few and far between. You’ve watched nervously as the local news covers area brush fires burning out of control, and you’ve tracked the burn on your online maps, and watched them get closer and closer. Then one afternoon, you see the smoke, off in the distance, and within an hour or so the flames themselves become visible. Where are the firefighters? you wonder.

Finally, they arrive, five engines and a score of men and women dressed in heavy slickers despite the oppressive heat. They pull up and rush from their vehicles to form a line between your home and the fire, and—just stand there. The fire gets closer, and still they stand, staring the flames down, but making no move to unfurl any hoses or uncap any hydrants. Now you can feel the heat of the approaching flames, and the firefighters slowly fall back. Inch by inch, foot by foot, the flames advance, and the firefighters retreat. At last, defeated, the flee to their engines and roar away, and you yourself have only seconds to escape, with just the clothes on your back and whatever you managed to throw in the car before the firefighters got there.

Down the road, you catch up with the useless fire crew and demand to know what the hell they were doing, and why they didn’t get out their hoses and fight the fire. And that’s when you find out: they were graduates of the Focus on the Family Fire Fighting Academy, and the only technique they were taught was, “Don’t play with matches.” So that’s what they were doing. They came to your home, and stood between you and the flames, and aggressively did not play with matches.

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Wiretap requests down 14%

Networkworld.com is reporting a 14% drop in state and federal wiretap requests compared to a year ago.

According to a report issued by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts a total of 2,732 wiretap applications were authorized in 2011 by federal and state courts, with 792 applications by federal authorities and 1,940 applications by 25 states that provide reports. The reduction in wiretaps resulted primarily from a drop in applications for intercepts in narcotics offenses, the report noted.

At the risk of being paranoid, I can help wonder if that’s because the authorities are relaxing a little, or if it’s because they are now less apt to make a request first.