News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 10, 2010 in News

This dude was raised as a prophet. Then he dissolved the religion of which he was the head. Here is the speech in which he dissolved his own religion.

Another great post from Vridar on how Historical Jesus methodology is so different from mainstream historical methodology.

Godless Girl discusses the recent Christianity Today article on sexism in the Bible.

John Loftus explains 8 double standards commonly maintained by Christian apologists.

One electrifying hour with one of the two lawyers who won the recent challenge to Prop 8, David Boies.

Best baseball catch ever.

William Lane Craig on Prop 8.

Uh-oh. Somebody turned my face into an optical illusion.

The Confined Nomad is eating cuisine from the culture of every United Nations member state, within New York City limits, in alphabetical order. Somebody please do this for my home: Los Angeles.

Having a baby made me an atheist.”

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex August 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The paper below is relevant to anyone who wants to understand the illusion in the video (and to anyone with an interest in scientifically-informed philosophy, really):

http://web.gc.cuny.edu/cogsci/private/Churchland-chimeric-colors.pdf

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Hermes August 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Craig’s comments on prop 8 start out with an error. I can’t see how he doesn’t see it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better.

He mentions one decision that talks about a states rights decision, and another that talks about a Constitutional decision. What he doesn’t mention is that the Constitution trumps states rights; you can’t have a right granted in the constitution removed by a state law. He doesn’t come back to that later, but he does talk about the ‘openly homosexual’ judge. Hmmmm…

The hypocrisy about ‘private moral views’ being imposed on others is shameful. He also brings up the typical pedophile issue while ignoring consent, both in willingness and in ability to comprehend.

Note that he also doesn’t address the previous marriage bans between interracial couples — a direct analogy to the gender issue.

He’s not dumb. He must know that he’s making this mistake. Then again, as a propagandist, he might not care. The means justify … .

If he wants to wow me with his superior Christian morals, he’s got to show me some first.

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Hermes August 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm

For those who don’t understand or aren’t familiar with the US Constitution vs. states rights issue, it is explicitly spelled out in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

[emphasis added]

That’s not a summary or part of the 10th Amendment. That’s the whole thing. Oh, the joys of brevity!

While the 10th Amendment does put limits on the Federal Government (national government), implicit in that is the supremacy of the Constitution itself over State law and any derivative Federal law backed by the Constitution. In this case, a right is granted to the People of a state and then is retracted via. Prop. 8. The attempted retraction highlighted that this is a violation of the Constitution, and as such is not valid.

Any ruling dealing with different racial groups marrying would apply with minor tweaks here as well. It can’t get much cleaner. Craig must know that he’s in the wrong Constitutionally here.

Yes, there is quite a bit of contention on that Amendment as there is on the meaning and application of other Amendments and the Constitution itself.

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Bill Maher August 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

William Lane Craig makes me ashamed to live in Georgia and be in Atlanta right now.

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Márcio August 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I think that the first thing to do is define marriage.

1 – If merriage is the union between two people, than homosexuals and heterosexuals can marriage.

2 – If marriage is the union between two people of the same sex, than marriage between one man and one woman simple does not exist.

3 – If merriage is the union between one man and one woman, than marriage between people of the same sex simply does not exist.

4 – If marriage is the union between a horse and a dog, than humans can’t marry at all.

Right now the definition of marriage is definition 3. The problem is that same sex couple wants to do a thing that doesn’t exist.

And if i’m not mistaken, a lesbian can marriage a man anytime she wants and a gay can marriage a woman anytime he wants too. So the right to marriage is not really being violated at all.

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Hermes August 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Márcio, where’s consent in your list? Where’s love or mutual interest?

After all, did you are are you interested in marriage without any or some of those?

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Hermes August 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Additionally, by analogy, if you can plug in race as a restriction in your examples then your examples are invalid. Agreed? If not, why is race different? Can chimeras marry? What about ambiguously sexed people? Like race used to be, is there some percentage that is required for differently sexed individuals? How would you recommend setting that percentage, or would you deny all ambiguous people? Would you allow a sex change? What is your personal interest in such matters?

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Hermes August 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm
Hermes August 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Márcio, note that lexicographers do not define what words mean. They describe usage.

This is important.

Words rise from usage, not from an edict.

Point: They don’t get imposed by some authority.

So, what is marriage? Like anything, it is what we as a culture says it is. You are part of that culture, so your voice counts.

I put this to you, Márcio, that marriage used to be about control. It was about property. It used to only matter if you had property to bargain with and quickly ended in death mostly as a contractual or tribal matter in most generations that our ancestors lived. Now, there is no doubt with me, it is still many of those things yet it is also love if marriage means anything. It is consent. It is wanting. Idealistic? Certainly, but without reservation. We aren’t in the old times. We are in our own time. A time that could last for not dozens but a hundred, or hundreds, or even thousands of years for people living as I type this sentence.

I ask you this: Do you see marriage as only what it used to be?

If you answer yes, then I can only advise you that you are on the wrong side of history. I can only say that you will silently change your personal history when it is clear in every part of you that you have made a mistake. I don’t begrudge you that, though maybe it would be good to take care and change your opinion consciously?

Consider this. While I have no shame in most of my thoughts and impulses, in this case, speaking as a bigot, I attempt to realize when I am wrong and not continue to be wrong. If you do not think you are wrong, then I encourage you to bring your best arguments. Personally, I would like to be wrong in as few ways as possible. If you know something I do not, I’m listening.

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Martin August 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Hermes,

If he wants to wow me with his superior Christian morals, he’s got to show me some first.

I think sophisticated Christianity argues for objective moral ontology, not moral epistemology. E.g., from a Christian perspective just because they believe in the existence of an objective moral world does not mean they have made any more progress in uncovering it than anyone else, believer or not. As Craig unfortunately demonstrates…

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Martin August 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Marcio,

Definitions of marriage can be argued until the cows come home, but at the end of the day it’s a moral abomination for someone to have to get Big Government’s approval of their mate before they enter into legal contract with them.

Don’t try to legislate virtue.

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Ajayraju August 10, 2010 at 11:29 pm

what about incest? If a brother wants to marry a sister or a mother wants to marry a son with full consent and they all being adults, is that allowed? If not, what about their rights?

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Mazen Abdallah August 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I think Craig feels that having an analytical take on Christianity makes it somewhat less retarded to use as a legal precedent. Well, it doesn’t.

Oh and his majesty forgets that even if a bunch of people don’t like something the constitution protects right to marriage. If people in a state vote en masse to change it, that wouldn’t be democracy, that would be mob rule. And wasn’t it an angry mob that killed jesus…

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Wade Anes August 11, 2010 at 3:19 am

Jiddu Krishnamurti could be compared to a modern-day Socrates, after dissolving the Order of the Eastern Star he spent the rest of his life traveling the world and talking with people of all faiths and philosophies. Many of his books are just recordings of these talks. I was first exposed to him by reading Bruce Lee, who used many of Krishnamurti’s concepts to form the philosophical basis of his martial art, Jeet Kune Do (Lee was also a philosophy grad AND an atheist). There is MUCH to like for an atheist in Krishnamurti’s books, they were instrumental in my road to atheism. The Awakening of Intelligence pretty much changed my life.

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Sabio Lantz August 11, 2010 at 4:05 am

@ Alex
Thanks much for the link to the illusion on my site. I will add it.

@ Hermes
Fantastic constitutional points — thanks.

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ShaneSteinhauser August 11, 2010 at 7:17 am

The post on Vridar doesn’t give any examples of how NT scholars are using different criteria. I agree with the guy that Vridar is trying to argue agianst. Mythicsts seek to change the rules of historicity just like how creationists seek to change the rules of science. The first step for both is to claim that the establishment is doing it wrong. How many times have we seen Ben Stein, or Vox Day claim that evolution is not “real science”? Well now it’s the mythicists turn to claim that NT scholarship is not “real historical method”.

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Martin August 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

what about incest? If a brother wants to marry a sister or a mother wants to marry a son with full consent and they all being adults, is that allowed? If not, what about their rights?

Is there a third party that could be injured? Yes. Incestuous relations can lead to birth defects in the offspring, so that might be a reason to keep it illegal. If it weren’t for that, then the State has no business mucking about in people’s private lives.

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Jon Hanson August 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

I have to laugh when a man who claims to have the source of true objective morality is so wrong on the defining moral struggle of the day.

The funny thing is in 100 years I’m sure Christians will claim they lead the struggle for gay rights.

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Jon Hanson August 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

Martin,
So would you oppose legally allowing people infected with AIDS to marry? What about alcoholics? How about little people? Where should the government draw the line regarding the possibility of birth defects when a couple is attempting to get married? Would you propose a series of scientific tests to determine the chance of defects and then a comparison of the likely hood with the potential damages?

I just don’t understand this argument against incest because I don’t see it consistently applied across the board.

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Martin August 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I just don’t understand this argument against incest because I don’t see it consistently applied across the board.

Well, maybe not, then. I don’t know enough about incest to have an opinion on it. My kneejerk reaction is always to allow people to do what they want as long as there is no victim involved, but I don’t want to make a presumption that incest and polygamy are as obviously harmless as homosexual relationships. There might be hidden problems that need to be looked at first before making everything legal willy-nilly.

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Martin August 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I have to laugh when a man who claims to have the source of true objective morality is so wrong on the defining moral struggle of the day.

See my above comment. The argument from theists is that moral objectivity exists, not that they know what those morals are.

Imagine someone in ancient Greece arguing for the actual existence of the external world against a solipsist opponent. The solipsist asks if the world is round or flat, and the external-worldist answers that he does not know. So the solpsist answers “I have to laugh when a man who claims to know that the external world is real doesn’t even know whether the earth is flat or not!”

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Jon Hanson August 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Martin,
There are hidden potential dangers in all sorts of relationships. The over-representation of AIDS in the gay male population to me counts against them as completely obviously harmless, but every type of relationship has benefits and downsides. That said I most definitely wouldn’t say incestuous relationships are just as safe as homosexual relationships, I think incest is by it’s nature a field of landmines, though it is a slippery term since it covers mother-son as well as second cousins and we’d all agree those are very different beasts. Polygamous relationships are a tougher nut to crack since I understand the reservations but I wonder how much of opinion is influenced by the fact that we only hear about the very worst influences. I’m sure you’d understand why people were wary of homosexuals when they only homosexuals they ever heard of were rapists and pedophiles.

I’m not trying to bad mouth homosexual relationships, it seems like we largely agree on them. I just think we need to take a look at other taboos in the same manner we look at homosexuality, objectively rather than on the basis of our knee-jerk conditioning.

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nate August 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

//Imagine someone in ancient Greece arguing for the actual existence of the external world against a solipsist opponent. The solipsist asks if the world is round or flat, and the external-worldist answers that he does not know. So the solpsist answers “I have to laugh when a man who claims to know that the external world is real doesn’t even know whether the earth is flat or not!”//

There’s a big difference because that person could point to certain facts which would be evidence for or against the world being round. There’s no fact about reality that leads to knowledge about how reality should be.

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Jon Hanson August 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Martin,
And on objective morality I think I understand your point and see it has a certain amount of validity, but I think your analogy breaks down because I see the external-worldist as expressing an agnosticism based on insufficient evidence where as Craig is expressing knowledge defending a claim that goes against the evidence.

I myself am certainly open to the existence of an objective form of morality and would actually prefer one to exist, but must reject any system whether they are objectively or subjectively wrong.that sees homosexuality as a moral violation. That’s why I laugh, not because he claims morality is objective, but because I think his opposition is so clearly wrong

In closing I must say I certainly agree that his personal failure in this area doesn’t disprove the existence of objective morality, it just makes his claim to be in direct communication with it’s source highly questionable.

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Martin August 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

In closing I must say I certainly agree that his personal failure in this area doesn’t disprove the existence of objective morality, it just makes his claim to be in direct communication with it’s source highly questionable.

I would propose this. If theism is true and is the ground of objective morality, then Christians and atheists alike have direct communication with its source: our moral sense. However, like our perception of the external world, it is fallible and is only partially uncovered at the current moment, and disagreements arise just like they did with the Ptolemy vs Copernican systems.

Craig’s error is in taking the written thoughts (the Bible) of ancient people’s encounters with this objective moral source and putting it up on a pedestal as the actual objective morality itself.

I.e., the Bible is early man’s extremely fallible views on this objective good. The OT says to stone homosexuals to death? Then by definition that passage was from man and not from God.

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Jon Hanson August 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Martin,
See, now that comment I can pretty much totally agree on.

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Martin: If theism is true and is the ground of objective morality, then Christians and atheists alike have direct communication with its source: our moral sense.

I don’t see how you get from A ==> B; objective morality (real) ==> moral sense available.

Not only that, there’s plenty to argue against any actual objective morality being real.

That said, we can posit an actual moral sense as a given, and the intuition of that sense as a given. We can leave both as assumptions, and I’m fine with that.

Yet, in reality, I don’t see adding in objective to either actual morality (in a Platonic sense? blah!) or a sense that can connect to that actual morality. We are limited not only by the scope of our information but of the conflicts between the parts as well — practically, psychologically, and philosophically.

Two people can be right — justified in what they want and do on every level — and still be in direct conflict with other people. To resolve that, a mutual compromise is required or must be forced by one of the players. The compromise is not objectively gathered or ideal. There is a necessary loss for one or more people. The example of the crying baby that could give away the location of the villagers to the genocidal mob, and the trolley example show this.

Additionally, as a philosophical point, objective morality is still (as I’ve noted) an expression of perfection and perfection is not possible over the span of all things but is only possible in a limited sense; perfection is impossible, but perfect for is not.

I.e., the Bible is early man’s extremely fallible views on this objective good. The OT says to stone homosexuals to death? Then by definition that passage was from man and not from God.

Yep. One example of many. Just as ‘sons of Ham’ were used to justify bigotry and abuse based on skin tone.

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lukeprog August 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Wade,

Very interesting!

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Wade Anes August 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Luke,

Indeed! I’m glad you reminded me of him, I’ve been meaning to go through some of those books again. He & his outrageous ‘friend/enemy’ U.G. Krishnamurti were kind of “anti-gurus”, but Jiddu definitely was the more famous of the two. As the wiki says, he developed friendships with guys like David Bohm & Aldous Huxley, & you can see in his later talks he becomes more scientifically & philosophically sophisticated. Many of his talks can be found on YT, here’s one with Bohm.

Krishnamurti & David Bohm – The Future of Humanity

Also, for an update, I am still going through the Ultimate Truth Seeker Challenge. I just finished Martin’s “The Case Against Christianity”, & just received my copy of “Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview”, which I will be digging into soon.

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Márcio August 11, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hermes,

“So, what is marriage? Like anything, it is what we as a culture says it is. You are part of that culture, so your voice counts.”

Than i would say that based on Prop 8, that represents the voice of the people, marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Márcio, and the way that was handled is part of the reason why I’m talking to you now.

What I want to know is why you commented on only part of what I wrote, and ignored nearly everything else? Did you even read it? I’m curious.

Going with what little you have said, would you would have no qualms about voters restricting marriage to any group based on physical traits?

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 8:29 pm

BTW, I consider your answer to be a cheap response and it discourages me from taking your comments seriously.

I’ve noticed that you often don’t give responses to what I consider to be direct and clear questions and comments. That you seem to avoid them.

It is as if admitting you might have to think about something or change your mind or even speak your mind honestly — saying I don’t know on occasion — would be some of the the worst things you could do.

Don’t disappoint me. Be a mensch.

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Alex August 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm

“Is there a third party that could be injured? Yes. Incestuous relations can lead to birth defects in the offspring, so that might be a reason to keep it illegal. If it weren’t for that, then the State has no business mucking about in people’s private lives.”

If you check the numbers, without drugs, a straight couple has about a 24% chance of spreading aids to their children.
Whereas incest of the highest order (mother and son, father and daughter, brother and sister) gives, at best, a 25% chance of creating mentally challenge babies.

Is mental retardation significantly better than aids to warrant not allowing incestuous couples to get married, or should we dissolve and disallow a couple who openly admits they will not take preventive aids drugs?

If we are going to argue that if the baby has a high likelihood of inheriting a disease from the parents they shouldn’t get married, then shouldn’t we be consistent, and split apart any family with an inheritable disease that is highly likely to be inherited?

Also, who says marriage has anything to do with procreation necessarily? If the couple were going to have children, how would discrimination stop them?

It seems to me that preventing two consenting adults from being able to marry is wrong.

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Hendy August 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

Wow. Jiddu’s speech was incredible. Can one imagine the pope saying anything similar?! It was quite inspiring.

I loved the closing line: “You can form other organisations and expect someone else. With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.”

@Wade: I’ll have to check out some vids and especially Awakening of Intelligence.

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Hansen August 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

what about incest? If a brother wants to marry a sister or a mother wants to marry a son with full consent and they all being adults, is that allowed? If not, what about their rights?

This is nothing but a diversion. Are you going to advocate incestuous marriages? Is anybody advocating this at all? If not, then what’s the point of bringing it up?

Or are you trying to imply a slippery-slope kind of argument? If so, you need to show evidence that allowing same-sex marriages will lead to people also demanding other types of marriages.

Or maybe you are just making a cheap point along the lines of “since we don’t allow X, we shouldn’t allow Y either.” Well ok, then substitute same-sex marriage for X and opposite-sex marriage for Y and advocate banning all marriages. It’s an argument to nowhere.

In the unlikely event that the issue of incestuous marriages is ever seriously being discussed in the real world, then we will deal with it. Until then, bringing it up is nothing but a diversion.

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