I am not so much interested in scientific facts as the scientific way of thinking. I try to approach problems with an attitude of scientific inquiry. I believe that when new data come in, one should revise one's opinions accordingly. The results of scientific research do not require our uncritical acceptance. We can and should look at methods employed, sample sizes, margin of error, etc when evaluating new research. Nothing should be accepted uncritically. The concept of fallibility is an… Continue
Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 7:55am —
Cognitive relativists hold that facts about the world are not absolute, but are relative to the individual. In other words, they assert that the truth is relative. At the same time, relativists attempt to claim objectivity for their position. But this is absurd. The relativist position is self-refuting. And beyond the philosophical argument, it is clear that there are facts about the world that apply to all of us. Gravity doesn't care who you are or what you believe; if you drop an apple, it… Continue
Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 5:30am —
Christian apologists will sometimes claim that not believing in God amounts to a belief system, and even go so far as to say that atheism may lead to immoral behavior. But this is a logical non sequitur. There are perhaps millions of gods whose names I have never heard of and whose worship I am not familiar with. Does my absence of belief in all the countless gods that people have worshiped over the millennia motivate me to do good or evil? Of course not. That would be absurd. When… Continue
Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 5:23am —
I've often thought about the connection between the rational skepticism scientists employ (as opposed to the universal and self-refuting brand of skepticism postmodernists employ) and atheism. Atheism does not necessarily imply an analytical mindset, there are atheists who believe in the supernatural or pseudoscience, but it would be true to say that atheism is a corollary of an analytical mindset combined with a driving need for evidence.
In short, rational skepticism as a premise implies… Continue
Added by Wyatt on May 30, 2013 at 3:10am —
How does morality evolve? We are social animals. We have language, reason, and empathy. Of course, empathy can also be found in other animals such as bonobo chimpanzees. What makes humans different from other animals is language, abstract reasoning, and the ability to plan for the future.
How would a hypothetical group of humans with language, reason, and empathy plan a society? How would they need to conduct themselves to get along peaceably with one another? Before long, they will have… Continue
Added by Wyatt on May 29, 2013 at 11:28am —
So tired of religious apologists asking me to show evidence for the non-existence of their particular god. I've asked them how they would go about showing evidence for the non-existence of the dragon in Carl Sagan's garage or Russell's celestial teapot. They assert that the analogy is false, but don't explain how. They use words like 'logic' or 'inference' as if they were magic charms without fully understanding what these words mean. It's not unlike superstitious primitives from a cargo cult… Continue
Added by Wyatt on May 22, 2013 at 9:42am —
Just what does it mean to be an atheist? Richard Dawkins proposed a sliding scale of theistic probability:
- Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."
- De Facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. "I don't know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is…
Added by Wyatt on December 18, 2012 at 1:04pm —
One often hears that philosophy deals with "why" questions, whereas science deals with "how." Some philosophers will say that science can never answer why we exist or why the universe came into being.
But "why" questions are often in reality "how" questions. Futhermore, not all "why" questions are meaningful in that they presuppose "purpose" that may not exist. It is meaningless to pick up a rock and ask, "why is this rock?". Most "why" questions can be broken down… Continue
Added by Wyatt on December 11, 2012 at 8:03am —
In the last chapter of "Galileo's Finger," Professor Peter Atkins invites us to consider the view that mathematics is a product of the mind, but also a reflection of the underlying structure of the universe. Mathematics is hard-wired into the brain, because we are the products of a logically self-consistent universe. Thus mathematics maps so neatly onto the universe because our internal logic is an expression of the deeper structure.
On the deep structuralist view, the universe… Continue
Added by Wyatt on November 30, 2012 at 8:10am —
When asked about the age of the Earth in an interview for GQ magazine, senator Marco Rubio gave a rather confusing reply. I've taken the liberty of translating his statement (think of it as facilitated communication). Here is the original:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with… Continue
Added by Wyatt on November 20, 2012 at 11:02am —
In 1948, BBC radio aired a debate between Lord Bertrand Russell and Father Frederick Coppleston on the existence of God. Russell points out the problem with Coppleston's notion of a necessary being (God):
Russell: "...I think that, perhaps, in answering your argument, the best point with which to begin is the question of a Necessary Being. The word "necessary" I should maintain, can only be applied significantly to propositions. And, in fact, only to such as are analytic -- that is… Continue
Added by Wyatt on November 15, 2012 at 1:53pm —
My thesis: the educational program in America is severely lacking, leading to incomprehension or a severe misunderstanding of how our particular universe operates. I propose a new program of education to be taught as the new essential reading. This will be based around the following five areas:
(1) The Empirical Method: The foundation of knowledge
(2) Entropy: Things change (put simply)
(3) Probability: Improbability does not imply impossibility; improbable events… Continue
Added by Wyatt on November 8, 2012 at 12:18pm —
Indoctrination "is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned." (Wilson, J., 1964. "Education and indoctrination," (Manchester University Press). In other words, indoctrination is "dogmatic."
We need to distinguish between teaching children "what" to think from "how" to think for themselves, i.e., asking how we know what we know.
“Do not indoctrinate your children.… Continue
Added by Wyatt on November 4, 2012 at 6:47pm —
Excerpt from T. H. White's The Once and Future King:
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for… Continue
Added by Wyatt on October 18, 2012 at 2:43pm —
Christian apologist William Lane Craig sets up a false dilemma--given the Big Bang, either (1) the universe came out of nothing or (2) the universe had a cause, which Craig believes must be God. As the argument goes, for something to come out of nothing is a logical contradiction; therefore, something caused the universe, something timeless, spaceless, immaterial. Keep in mind that we don't know enough about cosmology to make these kinds of assertions. The Big Bang theory applies to the… Continue
Added by Wyatt on October 17, 2012 at 11:08pm —
This is an excerpt from the opening statement of Oxford Professor Peter Atkins' 2011 debate at the University of Manchester:
"My immediate task is to set out my stall, not to respond to Dr Craig’s arguments at this stage: that will come later. It is, in fact, my task to bring you forward from the eleventh century, where you have been immersed with considerable erudition for the past 20 minutes, to the twenty-first century, and to present arguments based on a thousand years of… Continue
Added by Wyatt on October 15, 2012 at 3:31am —
I have revised this post to reflect some corrections. Continue
This is a response to "Does God Exist," a debate between Dr. Victor Stenger and William Lane Craig, which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjOs62PJciI&sns=em
I am frankly amazed that Craig decided to use the…
Added by Wyatt on October 1, 2012 at 6:10am —
Epistemological relativists will refer to "different ways of knowing" and claim the equal validity of the knowledge obtained from radically different epistemologies. I would like to point out that there is a distinction between truth and opinion. People are entitled to their own opinions. But in our discourse about reality, our claims are either true or false. NOTE: there is no true only from my standpoint or true only from your standpoint--we call this sort of thing "opinion" not truth.… Continue
Added by Wyatt on July 8, 2012 at 9:35am —
To my knowledge, Dawkins describes himself as a 6 (or, more specifically, a 6.9--see Bill Maher interview) on principle. A scientist must remain open to evidence. Whereas theists can say as an article of faith that they are 100% certain that there is a god, scientists will as a matter of principle avoid phrasing things in terms of absolute certainties. Karl Popper described the history of science as the history of "conjectures and refutations." Scientific knowledge is not held dogmatically.… Continue
Added by Wyatt on July 7, 2012 at 9:22am —
Unlike many of my fellow hominids, I have never found the religious argument remotely persuasive on either ontological or moral grounds. The argument seems to be something along the lines of "sacrifice your cognitive faculties, i.e. dismiss critical thinking, and rely upon religious authority. Believe us, you'll be much happier for it." So, let's see, illusory bliss in exchange for a life of ignorance?
My answer to those who peddle the dogma of cognitive dissipation is… Continue
Added by Wyatt on May 25, 2012 at 7:26pm —