Friday, December 31, 2010

David Fitzgerald on Mythicism

Here's a link to David Fitzgerald's thought-provoking talk on Jesus Mythicism. Shortly after this lecture, David's book Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All sold out at Skepticon! Pretty impressive.

Also, John Corvino's skepticon talk was posted on youtube. Corvino's talk is a great dismantling of anti-homosexual moral arguments, which makes it a great thing to pass on to that family member or friend of yours who needs to hear it. Here's a link to John's website. Also worth checking out is John's DVD What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sam Harris on the Wealthy and Taxes

As usual, Harris delivers a highly recommended and rational viewpoint. Read it. Read it now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Problem of No Presents

Richard Carrier blogged a rather amusing post about the arguments for the existence of Santa.

I, of course, disagree with his arguments for Santa. Before I write about why those arguments are so wrong, let me introduce an argument which I believe conclusively proves there is no Santa. It's called the argument from no presents.

Santa proponents fervently believe that Santa is all-knowing (he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake). They believe that he is completely benevolent, that he is not evil in any way. They further believe that he has the power to create and deliver enough presents for everyone. And finally, they believe that Santa is a super-intellect (who else could orchestrate a trip around the world in a single night to deliever presents to children on every single content).

These beliefs are stunningly incongruent with the fact that many children the world over don't recieve presents on Christmas.

An ancient philosopher named Epic-Scrooge-us put it this way: Is Santa able and willing to give everyone presents? Then whence cometh the phenomenon of presentlessness? Is Santa willing to give everyone presents but not able? Then Santa would be impotent. Is Santa able to give everyone presents but not willing to? Then Santa would be malevolent. Is Santa neither able nor willing? Then why call him Santa?

Santa believers have come up with a myriad of excuses for this problem. Some say that those who didn't get presents were deliberately left off Santa's list because they were naughty. But surely that doesn't make sense. What about young, innocent four and five year olds who don't get anything for Christmas?

Philosopher Grinchard Swinburne suggests that Santa doesn't give some kids presents on purpose so that we will have the opportunity to donate to Salvation Army and buy them presents. It allows us mere mortals an opportunity to be kind, which is a good in and of itself. But surely this excuse doesn't make sense. There are more children without presents than we could possibly provide for, even if all of us were super-generous.

Other Santa propopents shirk the problem altogether by telling us that at some point in the future there will be an ultimate yule in which Santa gives needy kids more than enough presents to compensate for all the Christmases when they didn't get anything. Of course this doesn't explain why those kids are getting any presents now.

We have seen that all of these attempts to explain the phenomenon of presentlessness are bad, ad-hoc explanations. Dare the Santa believers embrace the truth: that the problem of no-presents means there is no Santa?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cool DVD

It's called The Nature of Existence [Two Disc Special Edition]. It's about different worldviews, different answers to the question "why are we here?" Learn more about it here. I can't wait to see it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is the Bible More Violent than the Qu'ran?

Here. It's an excellent article to read, and I agree with the conclusion:

"In the end, the scholars can agree on one thing: The DNA of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam code for a lot of violence. Whether they can evolve out of it is another thing altogether."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Skeptic's Christmas List

Before I start up this list, I think there's one gift we atheists should definitely be getting for ourselves and for others we know. And no, it isn't love (I shouldn't have to tell you to be doing that). It's a Subscription to Skeptical Inquirer. Skeptical Inquirer is currently having financial difficulties because a long-time donor (who gave nearly a million bucks a year) abruptly stopped giving it, for no apparent reason. Don't let this magazine die. Pick up a subscription for yourself and buy another subscription for a loved one.

That being said, here are some recommendations of mine:

The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God by Dan Barker

Penn & Teller Bullsh*t: Complete Sixth Season

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books)

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

PBS Evolution Boxed Set

Cosmos: Carl Sagan (7 DVD Set)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm Done with Answers in Genesis

I am. I'm never visiting that shit website again. Apparently they invade the privacy of their visitors with programs that sneak in and record your browsing history. See the figure on page 9 of this paper. PZ Myers discusses this here.

Besides, I've grown weary of seeing them use the same arguments over and over again. This article which I wrote a while back debunks about 95% of the material on the site, because they are so repetitive.

Sometime in the future I might organize an index of my finest posts on the subject, but other than that, I'm not wasting another second of my life on that website. However, I will still be blogging here.