Refute this, William Lane Craig.

I’m amazed, time and again, that William Lane Craig is as eminently respected in the world as he is. Certainly, he’s a polished debater, and would likely mop the floor with me in any sort of live debate (given especially that live debates do not lend well to matters of fact over opinion). But his ideas and arguments are easily refuted by anyone given any appreciable time to chew on.

Theoretical Bullshit asked that we do what we can to spread the word that William Lane Craig isn’t taking him as seriously as he deserves. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is nonsense, depending as it does on the premise that all things that begin to exist must be caused to exist, given that we’ve never seen the creation or elimination of matter from this universe (potential white holes notwithstanding, given that they could just be rearranging matter from one part of the universe to another). Who says the universe was “created” at all? Who says that, prior to the big bang if “prior” makes any sense whatsoever, that stuff wasn’t just always there? Or that it didn’t come from some other universe? Or that it didn’t come from some natural process possible only during the hairy physics that exists at the extreme ends of time itself?

While it’s true that things that are arranged into forms must be caused by mechanistic methods — sperm must meet egg to create a human fetus, unless we evolve parthenogenesis — this is the rearranging of existing matter. None of the matter that makes up you was “created” (in the same sense as the KCA uses) by your parents. Not even a newborn — it’s highly unlikely that, once born, the atoms that comprised the sperm and egg are incorporated into your being any more. You’re a collection of matter that’s self-arranged, built out of the constituent components from your environment. WLC’s “have I existed eternally” is a dodge, a strawman. The sub-atomic particles that make up WLC existed eternally, as far as we know, but they haven’t always been WLC, nor will they continue to be WLC indefinitely. By that token, the bits of carbon that constitute your being could very well been in any number of your predecessors, or other life forms — especially if you, as I do, have a habit of consuming biomass at breakfast, dinner and supper.

If you can prove that the universe did not or could not exist in some other state prior to the initial “creation event”, then I’ll accept the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Since you can’t presently falsify the postulate that the matter was always here, despite the fact that the postulate is perfectly falsifiable, then the KCA rests on a conflation of “creation” where matter is poofed into being ex nihilo, and “creation” where existing matter is rearranged into new and transient forms. The former is unproven and untenable in the face of the laws of thermodynamics, and the second is self-evident in every analogy used by every creationist ever to try to imply a “designer” for reality. A watch implies a watchmaker because watches don’t self-arrange in nature by any process in the laws of physics that don’t involve a sentient life form. Everything else implied by these incurious theists — the stars, the planet, mountains, rivers, and life itself — can.

Election projections for your riding; who to vote for to simply beat Cons

Canada’s election at the moment looks like a choice between another Conservative minority, or a Conservative majority government, unless everyone were to suddenly vote Liberal strategically. In Canada, one can gain a majority government (e.g., enough seats to mean your party basically wins every parliamentary motion) with a mere 35% of the popular vote with our current political breakdown. That means that with a minority government, it’s well possible that at least 65% of the country disagrees with the party in power. In the case of Conservatives vs. Everyone Else, that is assuredly true. The Conservative Party of Canada, since being created in a coalition between the Progressive Conservatives and the Reform TeaParty a few years ago, makes up the entirety of the right half of the political spectrum. The Liberals, NDP, Bloc and Greens all make up the left, with the only outlier that could possibly be called right-wing being the Bloc, whose prime motivating reason for existence is secession of Quebec from the rest of the country.

So we have a political climate today wherein the Right has unified into a coalition for the purpose of leading our country off a cliff (or more accurately, siphoning money from the pockets of the average Canadian and directly into the pockets of big businesses, as though Reaganomics ever worked for anyone!), and the only way to kick them out is to form some sort of coalition on the left. Well, the only way short of strategic voting, which really hurts when you don’t particularly like one of the alternatives.

If you’re willing to suck it up and swallow your pride in order to vote strategically for the sole purpose of tossing the bums out, and just need to know which party to vote for in your riding, here’s an excellent tool, wherein you can find out what the current projections are for your specific riding and therefore decide whether to vote strategically for the Libs, NDP or Bloc, depending.

Sorry, my loyal Green readers… they’re simply not competitive anyplace at the moment, even in Vancouver where they’re running double-digit candidates. However, if you want to vote for the competitive challenger in your riding, you can ask someone in a less competitive riding to vote for your first choice via PairVote.ca — that way your party doesn’t technically lose your vote, and you still get to make a difference in the more competitive race.

Or you could, you know, vote Conservative if you really want to. Or if you’re unmotivated, you can just let the Conservative in your riding win. You know, if you happen to think that the problem with Health Care is that we have TOO MUCH of it. Or that the economy would benefit most from CEOs pays increasing while normal folks’ wages stagnate. Or if you think they’re all just going to pull the same bullshit nonsense that the Conservatives actually have as party planks, and the other parties actively oppose. Whatever. It’s up to you, of course. I merely reserve the right to hate you for not doing whatever you can to stop the avowed party of privilege.

Vote, please. Your vote could very well mean the difference between us ending up with the same nonsense we’re already living in a Conservative minority, or much worse in a Conservative majority.

In MI, does CFI stand for Center For Incivility?

Oh boy! More blogosphere drama!

I’m a big supporter of skeptical groups and any other sort of outreach effort from the scientifically minded community, as I’m sure you know. Center For Inquiry‘s Michigan branch has an e-mail newsletter and an online calendar, which they use to promote science talks in the area. They host talks as well on occasion, but the event in question was not an event CFI sponsored or held in any way — they simply added this entry to their calendar.

Friday, April 8, 2011, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Join members of Evolution for Everyone (“E4E”) to hear a lecture on “Sexual Coercion and Forced In-Pair Copulation as Sperm Competition Tactics in Humans” by Todd Shackelford, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Psychology at Oakland University.

Dr. Shackleford will present a talk on the competing theories of rape as a specialized rape adaptation or as a by-product of other psychological adaptations. Although increasing number of sexual partners is a proposed benefit of rape according to the “rape as an adaptation” and the “rape as a by-product” hypotheses, neither hypothesis addresses directly why some men rape their long-term partners, to whom they already have sexual access.

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My Formspring brings all the hits to the blog

Seriously, a disproportionate number of blog hits are going to an old post wherein I syndicated from my Formspring account a bunch of random Formspring questions. It’s not particularly interesting, or informative, or even remotely deep. But it’s got almost four times as many hits as the next most read post, due to its high placement on Google for the search terms used in its title.

And since I’m a total blog-hits-whore, I might as well try to duplicate my past success!

If you want to ask me an anonymous question via Formspring, there’s a box on the left column for just that purpose.

Would you rather be really hot or really cold?
As in, hypothermia or hyperthermia? Or just having the temperature gauge a few degrees on either side of “room temperature”? Because when really cold, I can put on layers. And when really hot I can take them off. I suppose it’s a matter of scale. But I’d probably rather be hypothermic than hyperthermic if forced to choose how to nearly die.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
My short list is Dirk Manly, Brock Samson, or Penis Largehuge.

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
“*grumble grumble* coffee. Wait, first, need to pee.”

What the the thing you regret saying the most, what has come out of your mouth that you wish you could take back?
Saying “I’d do anything for you” to someone that, in retrospect, didn’t deserve it.

when was yr first love? :)
I was 16. The girl I fell for was a compulsive liar. Not a very happy end. First loves never work out quite right.

people, people facing laptops (or screen if it matters), who is the prettiest woman in the world?
Every woman I’ve met is pretty in some way or another. Physical attractiveness isn’t everything. (Well, okay, there have been some women with absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but I’m trying to be optimistic here.)

If you could eat one kind of vegetable, what would it be? Pretend that the color of the vegetable tastes like a corresponding body fluid (red = blood, yellow = urine, green = fungus or something)
First, you’d be dangerously nutritionally deficient if you only ate one kind of vegetable, and second, you’re trying to turn me off of that vegetable after saying it’s the only thing I can eat. I call shenanigans.

What is your favourite season?
Fall, when it’s still warm out but the leaves start to turn.

Favorite movies in horror, scifi, comedy, drama, indie, and overall?
Horror: Army of Darkness. I don’t go in for anything gorier than that.
Post-answer amendment: also, Shaun of the Dead doesn’t really count as horror, but it is fantastic.
Sci-Fi: Firefly/Serenity. If you limit me only to movies, it’s difficult to just say Serenity, but I’ll stand by that.
Comedy: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Pure AWESOMESAUCE.
Drama: Casablanca.
Indie: Don’t watch them often enough. Last good one I saw was Diary of a Nymphomaniac. Though, Run Lola Run was really good.
Overall: The Princess Bride. It’s got it all! :D

The last thing I do before I go to bed at night is __________________.
Brush my teeth. Well, technically, immediately after that I get undressed, and immediately after that I pull the covers back so I can get in bed.

“Reality is worth defending, it’s worth getting angry about.” My FB ‘religion’ is now something I grabbed from a comment on ‘friendlyatheist’. “Atheism isn’t a religion, it’s a personal relationship with reality”
I love this quote. The next time someone calls their religion a relationship, I’m so using it. Great find!

If you’re opinions are always so great, why doesn’t everyone agree with you?
Because then I’d be the founder of some sort of dogmatic religion, and then my opinions would be inherently worth less. Seriously, what kind of passive-aggressive bullshit is this? I don’t want everyone agreeing with me! I’m sure I’m wrong about stuff, I just want people to bring proof when they say so.

are your parents atheists too?
No, my parents were both religious. I believe my mother was raised Baptist in her hometown, and my father Catholic in his, which if you weren’t aware are both splinters of Christianity. My mother moved to live with my father in another province, and I was brought up Catholic in my hometown, which was 95% Catholic. My father is still pretty religious, and I only told him that I’m an atheist last year. My mother broke contact with us when she divorced my father and left to live in the States with some guy she knew from the internet, and I’ve been ignoring her attempts to restore contact since, so I don’t know what she is any more, as far as religion is concerned.

then what triggers you to be an atheist?
I believe the evidence is insufficient for any specific god(s) that people have postulated. Atheism is pretty much just the fallback position — if you can’t prove your god exists, and if the evidence contradicts your specific god, then why believe in any god at all?

I do still have mental traps wherein the concept of god that I’m talking about, is often the monotheistic Abrahamic god of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Because that’s the framework I was brought up in, that’s, to me, the most easily disprovable god. I am agnostic about gods like pantheism or panentheism, mostly because no evidence is presented either for or against, but I default to “why worship such a being” when presented with no evidence for. I’m atheist about specific gods, like Yahweh the Abrahamic god, because certain things have to be true for such a god to exist that just plain aren’t true.

RCimT: Stuff to be mad about

As I implied yesterday, there’s far too much going on in this world right now that deserves my ire. I have to mete it out carefully or I won’t have enough to go around, because the meds for my Stretch Armstrong leg are seriously putting a damper on my ability to draw from my bile reservoir. For you though, my faithful readers, I’ll do my best. (I love you both!)

Egypt did a grand thing in ousting Mubarak. The military made many overtures of solidarity with the protesters over the last month, and they installed a “transitional leader” in Vice President Omar Suleiman. Suleiman however has absolutely no intention of transitioning Egypt to a democracy. The military is now singing a totally different tune than during the initial protests — claiming that they will start to move against strikers if they don’t get back to work soon. So Egypt traded one tin-pot dictator for another. Hooray.

Meanwhile, a CBS reporter was violently molested while covering the Egypt protests, and because she happened to be a woman, people are throwing their careers away to snipe at her for daring to try to do something in a dangerous place. Because, you know, being raped and beaten in public and having to be rescued by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers just isn’t enough damage. Lara Logan knew exactly what kind of danger she was in by daring to do her job while in possession of a vagina, thank you very fucking much.

I’m sad to have to report that being right about the “God question” (e.g., being an atheist) does not mean you’re right about other stuff, like gender politics. How a thread can go on so long where so many men think it appropriate to discuss amongst themselves “how to get women into science” while wholly and completely dismissing the women in the conversation, is beyond me. People in positions of privilege discussing how to get the unprivileged into the conversation should, obviously, not dismiss the same unprivileged. DUH. There are a few shining beacons of truth and level-headedness in the Pharyngula thread about the original talk, but they are a cool drink in a vast expansive desert of retardery.

Meanwhile, the Republicans who were swept into power recently with promises of rebuilding the American economy with jobs-a-plenty are enacting several laws on their real priority: shrinking government to only small enough to legislate every vagina in the country. While the House has failed at their attempt to redefine rape, they succeeded in passing an amended version of HR3 to ensure no federal funds are ever spent on abortions. They have also defunded Planned Parenthood, the last line of defense against teenage pregnancy, for daring to refer to abortion doctors the 2% of their visitors that need them — never mind that this means more teenagers will get pregnant and need abortions to begin with. And South Dakota is busy legalizing the murder of abortion doctors. These idiots are decidedly not “pro-life”. They’re “pro-fetus”. Once the fetus grows to the point where they might be born (whether they survive, or not; whether they kill the mother, or not), they obviously couldn’t give a shit about them. I’m sure there’s gotta be a Bible passage somewhere that justifies allowing both mother and baby to die just so a medically indicated procedure doesn’t happen that’s supposedly contrary to some vague interpretation of some arbitrarily chosen translation of some arbitrarily chosen “holy book” out of the thousands that one could choose from.

And there’s always more bullshit when you get religion involved, it seems. Why is it every one of the things I see today that is detrimental to the betterment of humankind as a whole, is inspired by religion? Seriously. It’s getting to be too big a trend to ignore. A new investigation shows that children are still in peril and clergy are still stonewalling investigators even ten years after the scandals in some Roman Catholic dioceses were uncovered and supposedly stopped. If they weren’t in the positions of power they find themselves, children wouldn’t be imperiled by this overriding demand, handed down from the top, to protect Catholicism from its own chief practitioners.

Or how about the religiously inspired Wedge-strategy-approved tactic of sowing disinformation about evolution by legislative fiat? Never mind that there’s no scientific controversy about the theory of evolution — only a controversy in that the theory of evolution apparently runs afoul of some very small-minded provincial interpretations of certain religionists’ ideation of their deity and how special humankind is in the grand scheme of things. No, scientists are well aware that all the evidence available shows evolution is a fact, and that the theory of evolution is merely an attempt at describing the mechanism behind that fact. Any controversy at the moment is in exactly how much influence natural selection, epigenetics, genetic drift, etc., have on the “big picture” of evolution. If this law were aimed at teaching THOSE controversies, I’d be fine with it and others of its ilk, but you’ll invariably find it espoused by people who unironically claim in court that the Earth is six thousand years old.

Canada’s got its own shitty little legal squabbles going on, too. For instance, the Tory-held senate rejection of this bill:

Bill C-389 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgender or transsexual citizens. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” or “gender expression” in the workplace or elsewhere, and would amend the Criminal Code so that crimes committed against people because they are transgender or transsexual would be treated as hate crime.

Their grounds? That people might try to go peeping-tom in opposite sex bathrooms and defend themselves by claiming they’re really transgendered.

And the CRTC’s raising people’s suspicions lately about the partisan nature of some of their decisions — like that pesky law they’re suggesting we eliminate that prevents broadcasters from presenting lies as truth in news media.

“It’s totally bizarre. Nobody in the industry has called for it,” Mr. Murdoch said. “Where is the motivation for change that would lower the standards of truth and fairness in broadcast journalism?”

NDP MP Charlie Angus noted that the proposed change precedes the start of Sun TV, a network that has been shepherded in large part by Kory Teneycke, the former director of communication to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“We all know our Prime Minister well enough to say we don’t have to be in the realm of conspiracy theory here,” Mr. Angus said at a news conference on Monday. “We can draw our conclusions and they are pretty clear.”

It’s no conspiracy. It’s no coincidence. That law is preventing Sun TV from being everything that Fox News is to America: a trojan horse in the news media, intended to pull people’s understanding of reality, and the Overton Window, ever-further to the right. Truth be damned, we need our propaganda, sayeth Harper and his cronies.

That’s it. I’m spent for the moment. I’m sure I’ll find more to rage about soon though.

Assange and the Fallacy Fanboys

The Julian Assange rape case, as I’ve asserted elsewhere, is separate and distinct from the ongoing Wikileaks fallout. However, as with most such celebrities in a sudden and potentially career-ending scandal, the advent of the rape allegations against him have caused any number of conspiracy theorists to emerge from the woodworks — not only to defend Assange as the victim of an international conspiracy perpetrated by the Evil American Empire, but to simultaneously smear the two women who allege he took advantage of them, using any number of rape myths to do so. Among the more galling of these fallacies is the repeated assertion that the allegations against him are “sex by surprise”, which is in actuality a “polite company” euphemism for rape in Sweden.

In taking to the field on various forums discussing the rape allegations, Stephanie Zvan has evidently noted some disturbing trends amongst those conspiracy theorists and other fanboys. She’s begun cataloguing them in the following posts:
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Some bullshit to be angry about

A woman was included in a Girls Gone Wild video where someone pulled her top down against her will. She sued, unsuccessfully, as a jury of her peers decided she’d implied consent to being on camera topless by virtue of having danced in front of the camera. No release forms were signed, but evidently none are necessary when you’re a woman (and therefore slutbag) and you’re aware there’s a camera present.

The planet is most definitely, most assuredly warming, given that all ten indicators studied say so; and its causes are most definitely, most assuredly anthropogenic. Not that that’ll matter, while people are still spouting tired lies as “rebuttals”.

Thinking that he got the Mark of the Beast somehow, a man lopped off his own hand then microwaved it before calling for an ambulance. While mental illness is scary and sad, mental illness coupled with religious dogma can be downright horrifying.

Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum, is butt-hurt over “becoming the villain for doing the right thing”. I guess we’re supposed to ignore the facts that his company was responsible for numerous violations of safety and ethical considerations, or that he has lied to the media repeatedly, or that he has been characteristically more interested in self-vindication than the other, tangential concerns like control and clean-up of the spill.

The UK has made some recent inroads against homeopathy, but some idiots in power have fetishized “choice” about medicine and have released reports that cloud the matter of whether homeopathy should be treated as medicine. The report claims that homeopathy should be considered medicine and people should be free to choose it, but it shouldn’t be regulated like medicine (lest its unproven claims would scuttle it — not that the report ever spells that out for you!).

There’s absolutely nothing racist whatsoever about Tea Party Comix. So long as you ignore the art straight out of the 1920s. Though, thankfully, Marvel has a riposte.

And our Prime Minister Stephen Harper evidently has a pair of seemingly fascist quotes to his name. I am shocked.

Breitbart can bite me.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past several days, USDA worker Shirley Sherrod was forced out of her job over a conveniently clipped fragment of a speech from 2006 posted on Andrew Breitbart’s blog (whom I won’t link, the execrable toad) that painted her as an anti-white racist, and turned into a nontroversy by none other than FOX News. Obama’s administration fell for the bullshit pullquoting and threw her out of the job. Keith Olbermann takes all parties involved to task, and rightly so.

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