Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some Various Updates

So I haven't been blogging a lot lately. Yeah, I've been busy. But here's a few updates:

Nick Matzke has posted a really cool blog post about dogs and evolution on Panda's Thumb. This post is a must for those of you who debate creationists. Bookmark it, you'll want to reference it later so you can thrash the creationists with it.

A little while ago I began writing a series called "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument." I plan to get back to that soon. However I wanted to make a note on that series: I read a series of criticisms of physicist Victor Stenger which reprimanded some of Stenger's criticisms of the argument (which I referenced in my series). Click here to read the first part of those criticisms. Anyway, I believe some of these criticisms of Stenger are valid, not least because Stenger himself seemed to implicitly agree with me when I emailed him about it (in the email Stenger said that his upcoming book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning would update his criticisms of the argument).

Richard Carrier has posted a blog update about his two upcoming books (which will discuss the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth). It's a welcome update for me as I am anxiously awaiting his book. I think the book'll kick ass. Carrier has also made a post about some secular organizations that he'd like us atheists and agnostics to help in one way or another.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Foxes to Puppies and More

Found a webpage showing and explaining the "foxes to puppies" breeding experiment that Richard Dawkins has written about:

Here's an interesting article about why the flood story of the Bible is borrowed from earlier myths and also could not possibly have occured:

I recently stumbled onto a really cool video of a presentation put on by Teller of the magic duo Penn & Teller.

Speaking of P&T, they've already begun the eighth season of their TV show, Bullshit! Here's an episode guide. If you don't get Showtime, you could watch some of the new episodes on youtube, as I see they've been uploaded.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More on the Problem of Induction

I just couldn't resist reposting some of a conversation I had on

A poster had asked how the problem of induction can be answered. I referred him to a post I wrote a while back and quoted it:

"I believe that it is more parsimonious (or simple) to postulate only one kind of cause for every kind of effect, and vice versa, and since simpler explanations are to be preferred (a view which I defend on a priori grounds in my book Atheism and Naturalism) then it follows it is reasonable to believe that the effects of the past that we observe today were created by causes that create similar effects in the present day. Think about it: If we observe Cause A creating Effect B, and we reason that it is simpler (and therefore more probable) to suppose that Effect B is only created by Cause A, then in cases where we observe Effect B without having the benefit of being around to witness Cause A occur, we can still be reasonably sure that Effect B was created by Cause A.

"And that isn't the only justification for induction. Here's another one: Induction can be likened to the sample-taking done by scientists. Scientists will often take a very large sample of something, and then reason that what is true of the sample is probably true of the whole (of whatever they are sampling). For example, if I interview 10,000 random people, and 90% of them inform me that they will re-elect Barack Obama, I can be reasonably sure that this is true of the entire population of voters. It is logically possible that somehow my sample wasn't representative of the entire population. Maybe, out of the entire population, only 10% want Obama re-elected. But it is extremely improbable that my sample would be that far off the mark.

"Likewise, when we reason inductively, we observe something so many times (equivalent to taking a sample) and we assume that that sample is probably representative of all cases of that kind of event."

Click here to read his response to this and my response to him. I spent a lot of time on the post, and if you're into philosophy then this should be intriguing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ever have one of those "You can say that again" moments?

I just have. I read some of Daylight Atheism's "closing thoughts" to his extensive rebuttal of Lee Strobel's 'Case for a Creator' book and I thought DA was right on target. In fact, inconsistencies like this are the primary reason I don't take Strobel seriously when he says that he was moved to Christianity by purely intellectual concerns. (See here for Strobel [or someone claiming to be Strobel?] denying this in the comment section of my blog).