What Choice Is a Free Choice? And Why Religion Destroys the Freedom of Choice.

When we talk about freedom of choice we usually mean that in a legal sense, however we can argue that there are many layers and aspects to what makes a choice truly free in other ways to think about this concept. Freedom is a concept which takes different forms in different aspects of life. We say that people are free to disagree with the scientific evidence, in the legal way. If I “choose” to disbelieve evolution, the government has no right to censor me or to demand me to believe otherwise. But I am not “free” to publish my opinions in a scientificn journal, even if that journal is not owned by private sector. Although I am a taxpayer, I am not free to publish my creationist thoughts in a journal funded by my task money. However I am still free to find evidence against evolution and if my creationist article conforms to scientific standards I will be published in the same journal. So there is freedom among the scientific community to dissent, but that freedom is not the same as civil freedom to dissent. I assume that the reader will agree with this, and I use this as an example merely before bringing up the main topic of this post.

[Read more...]

Obama Is Right to Be Wrong about IS

President Obama made a speech about the terrorist group IS and laid out his strategy about how to gradually “degrade and destroy” IS. Overall I think it was the best one could do in the current situation, and I believe objections to it would come from reality-divorced ideologues from the right (who want more war at any cost and do not consider how being erratic in war against IS could spiral into a disaster) and left (whose opposition to military intervention is an article of faith and have no problem with genocides and rapes if not committed by a western government), as it seems to be prudent, careful, and based on a coalition with the globe, as evident by John Kerry’s travel to Arab countries to gain their support, and would involve Europe as well. You can read a summary of his plan here. Does that mean Obama can prevent a disaster? Who knows? I don’t think it’s unlikely that in spite of Obama’s tactful and rational strategy, all would still fail. It’s a very tricky subject.

[Read more...]

Book Review: On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt

41LEbzwO3FL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m not someone who’s well-versed in this era of history. I know that the near-consensus of experts is on the other side of the debate, and I know I’m not equipped to judge the merit of this book in a useful way. So this review can only reveal the viewpoint of a layperson who also looks at the things he reads critically and knows it when he sees a good point. And this is a good book.

[Read more...]

When Religions Teach Slaughter, Some People Learn the Lesson

Ed Brayton wrote something in his blog yesterday with which I couldn’t disagree more, and I think it’s the wrong way to look at religions. In a post entitled Yes, President Obama, Some Religions Do Teach Slaughter he wrote:

It’s trivially easy to cite chapter and verse from the Bible and the Quran not just encouraging but demanding the murder of innocents. Does this mean most Christians and Muslims would ever consider doing such things? Of course not. They have a wide range of rationalizations, excuses and interpretations that allow them to ignore such passages. But pretending they aren’t there and that lots of people do take those verses literally and believe they justify barbarism is quite absurd.

As I’ve said many times, we need to stop thinking that there is such a thing as Christianity or Islam. There are multiple versions of each that differ from each other in hugely significant ways. Decent, compassionate people find all the support they need in those holy books to justify being decent and compassionate. Violent, hateful people find all the support they need in those books to justify being violent and hateful. They all pick and choose the parts of their religion that they like and find ways to explain away or ignore the rest. It’s also not reasonable to claim that one or the other of these versions is the One True Religion. [Emphasis mine].

[Read more...]

PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins Discuss Aliens and Evolution

This video is rather old but I enjoyed watching it immensely, so I thought I’d share it anyway. It’s funny, and it’s very informative. They joke around and speculate how alien life would look like based on what we know about evolution and delve a little bit deep into evolution and what is common and what is rare and it all ends with a very funny anecdote. Watching it also makes me feel very good. Watch and enjoy.