Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Inductive versus Deductive reasoning

Since "coming out" to my family in January about my atheism, I've had a few debates with them and others about christianity versus atheism. Just the other day, two Jehovah's witness ladies came to my door, wanting to innocuously know if I believed the bible had a prophetic nature. They had no idea what they were in store for. It was a pleasant discussion, but ultimately one that had very little effect on either parties involved. A few months ago, I posed an email question to one of my long-distance friendly adversaries that said "What of science, do you accept?" They said, " I accept any claim of science reached through deductive reasoning. I disregard anything concluded as a result of inductive reasoning" This person categorized evolution as a postulate arrived at through inductive reasoning. This is interesting. Inductive reasoning (bad, for scientific truth), deductive reasoning (good, for scientific truth). My friend doesn't think evolution has occured, they think we were modeled out of dirt by the hand of god, 6,000 or so years ago, in our current form, as was everything on the earth (maybe not necessarily out of dirt, per se). They also give as one reason for their unacceptance of evolution, the statement that evolution was arrived at through inductive reasoning, not deductive reasoning.

Webster's dictionary:
induction: inference of a generalized conclusion from particular instances.
deduction: inference in which the conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises.

Please take a moment to look at the difference between the two definitions.

To induce that something is the case, you must begin with a set of particulars, from which you can then extrapolate a more complex and wider idea. The beginning is the details.

To deduce that something is the case, you must begin with a general or universal premises, from which you can then conclude that the particular, observable micro details are direct results.

My friend doesn't accept evolution because it begins with a set of particular observations about nature a: extinction, through the observable particular of fossil remains, b: genetic mutation, through the observable particular of both laboratory DNA experiments and natural adaptive attributes of different species. My friend doesn't accept evolution, because it then proceeds with these particulars to expand a more widely-encompassing set of explanations, which arebased on the little details already observed. My friend DOES NOT ACCEPT evolution because of this.
But, my friend, accepts most everything else they encounter in life which employs the exact same process.
Take breakfast, my friend decides to have breakfast after having taken inventory of the particulars of their pantry. They start with the details. They then induce that breakfast is a possibility, so hunger and energy will dissipate and increase respectively, extrapolations based on detailed information gathered. My friend accepts inductive reasoning when it comes to breakfast being helpful, but does not accept inductive reasoning in regards to evolution. What else do they contradict themselves with? Well, how about travel? My friend goes to work each work day, and I presume they employ some method of transit to facilitate this trip, either individual car, mass transit system, paddleboat, something. Well, how do they do this. Do they begin with the universal premises that travel is a possibility? Yes and No. Yes, in that, to the short-lived human individual, confined to the particulars of past discovery, it is inevitable that to my friend, it seems a universal premises that traveling fast via non-human means is a real possibility. However, that universality is only seemingly so. The wheel was undiscovered at one point in our history, albeit well before I or my friend lived. My friend and I both enjoy the benefits of the wheel, but the wheel was at one point, an observable particular of the environment. Using this observable particular, our ancestors extrapolated that this arc-edged implement could be used to speed things up for them, and the rest is history. So in this way, the answer is no. My friend as a human being, can never begin, at the real beginning with a universal premise that faster travel is possible, they must always and forever be grateful for the particulars discovered by their distant ancestors.

Inductive reasoning is validly accepted as a way of discovering scientific descriptions of our world. Evolution could only ever have been the result of inductive reasoning, and rightfully so, that is exactly what makes it make sense. It started with details, and Darwin induced from those details that something more fundamental and unseen to the incurious, was going on.

But what about deductive reasoning? The taking of a universal premise and gathering the observed details underneath the umbrella. This is a different approach, and certainly not one that scientists regularly employ. Particle physicists sometimes employ this method, because without such a method, the unobservably small constituents they are concerned with would never have been postulated to begin with. Elementary particle such as quarks, leptons, and electrons don't leave tell-tale signs for the laymen to see, which is how each of them remained unpostulated for so very long. However, the only other arena which regularly utilizes deduction is that of religion. It makes sense to me, that my friend, a fundamentalist, southern christian conservative, would accept deduction but not induction, because religion starts with the universal premise that god exists. It then gathers under that assumption, the ideas that we are his creation and we are sinful by nature. The evidence gathered under the umbrella is done so after the macro-assumptions are made. The bible is one of the particular evidences of the truth of christianity, as is the idea of our possession of self-awareness. These two particulars of evidence are assimilated into the general idea that god exists, only after the the premise has been both postulated and accepted. This is the nature of deductive reasoning. So according to my friend's logic, they can willingly accept the inexact theories of string theory, the multiverse, and both quantum mechanics and special and general relativity (which few non physicists really understand), but they can't accept that breakfast might fend off hunger and increase productivity.
All of this is prelude to the real subject of this blog, and that is this:

If christianity were truly true, then christians should have been able to arrive at their belief system wholly divorced of the bible. Now doesn't that contradict the entire preceding section? Didn't I just get finished saying my friend arrived at their belief because of deductive reasoning? While that is true, it doesn't really counter what I've already said. Again, If christianity were really true, then evidence other than the bible should support it's claims. Christians have only the bible as external evidence that what they claims is true is so. Without the bible, for the last 4,000 years (torah and later the new testament) what grounds would the christian church have had with which to not only survive, but to flourish as it has? I say, the christian has only the bible as an external source of evidence, but what about the recognition we all have of ourselves, our self-awareness? That is not an external source of evidence but an internal one, something that is confined to the individual and cannot be rightfully used to gauge the truth of a social trend such as a particular religion. Social truths (memes) as religions claim to be, can only be found to be as such, if A: they are the result of individual(s) within the population coming to exactly the same conclusions time and again throughout the entire course of the population's existence (species), and B: if there is indeed an all-powerful controlling entity which actively participates in the lives of the individuals in such a way as to ensure that such social decisions are being arrived at. However, such a discovery is not possible, because it pits inductive reasoning against deductive reasoning. Remember inductive reasoning involves starting with the particulars and ending with the big picture, while deductive reasoning starts with the big picture and fits the details into that big picture. The problem with trying to affirm or deny god's existence by evaluating the testimonial truth of self-awareness as internal evidence, is that it requires that we start with inductive reasoning, the details being the observable, comprehensive and macro-social behaviours of the species, and the resulting arrival at the same behavioral conclusions, all of which will result in the big picture of god existing as the controller of this drama; and, it simultaneously requires that we begin with deductive reasoning: assume there is an all-powerful, active participant in our social lives, having endowed us with self-awarness, thereby granting us the ability to construct social lives, whose further activities center around ensuring our arrival at a universal set of behavioral conclusions. We must start with the big picture of god absorb all the details into this as to make them fit with our preconception. we must deduce that the details are the result of god's being in existence, but we must also induce that god exists because of the myriad of details which poin to that conclusion. This is circular. You can not have both inductive and deductive reasoning at play at the same time.
Rest assured, I am by no means suggesting that humanity, in all it's societies has actually resulted in the same universal morals, as such a discussion would require. It is painfully obvious that we as a species have exhibited throughout our history a deplorable lack of compassion for our fellow man. Genocide's existence testifies to our incapability of agreement on the universal sanctity of life, So does slavery. For that matter, all violence testifies to the one thing that makes humanity the same, we are animals. Our self-congratulatory religions might feign to celebrate the simultaneous prestige and disdain of humanity, but our behaviours illuminate our animalistic nature much more so. I suggested that christianity should have some other source of external evidence with which to support it's claims. Here are a few suggestions:
Let's see some literal stars fall to the ground (impossible since stars are bigger and hotter than the earth, and so would burn us up without being able to "touch" the ground): Mark 13:21-25.
Let's hear some mountains sing about how good god is (again impossible since sounds must utilize vibrations and mountain cannot be simultaneously the source and agent of vibrations, not to mention what language the mountains would sins in ): Isaiah 55:12
Or how about some rocks crying out: Luke 19:40.
How I'd love to see a big-ol mouth open up on Teddy Roosevelt's face at Mt. Rushmore and hear him start singing the hallelujah chorus....
There is no evidence away from the bible, for the christian to believe in christianity. Without this, it is impossible to validate the truth of christianity's claims, therefore, without taking anything else into account, the best christianity can do at this point is acknowledge that it is severely deficient in it's case for the ultimate in truth. But we must take into account many other things, for instance: a: The existence of rival religions, some of whom make almost identical claims using almost identical sources of "evidence", b: The existence of secular explanations for the issues religions concern themselves with; life, thought, feelings, etc...
When these alternative explanations are taken into account, the christians case slides from being severely deficient, to that of one of maliciously outright deceipt. It is no excuse for the christian to assert that their belief system has brought comfort to anyone, much less many billions of people over the years. Comfort with an idea is not a way of validating it's truth. I may be very comfortable with not working a day in my life, but that is no reason to believe that not working a day in my life is how I should spend my existence. It might be very comfortable for me to simply ignore the cries of my child, because I'm tired, but that doesn't mean that my child isn't hungry, just because I am more comfortable thinking that if I wait long enough, he will stop being hungry and stop bothering me. Comfort is a not only an invalid excuse it is a deplorable one. The truth of existence, will only ever be discovered, it will not be nor has it been revealed, not in the manner which religions speak of.
Christians: you have no acceptable reason to say the things you say, you have no honor in speaking of things about which you've never invested any amount of effort in trying to disprove, and you have no sympathy from those of us who recognize your false humility.
Atheists: you have a responsibility to call out your lazy religious friends and make them confront what they say they believe, but do so in a nice way, so as to make them sure that you're confrontation is a plea for reason and not an attack on a personal level.
Scientists: You have a responsibility to do your jobs, continue collecting the data, and inducing from your data, larger more encompassing explanations of our world. It is to you who the world looks for it's answers, despite what the world might say to the contrary. It is widely accepted that cars will work, we base our transitive lives around this fact, but I'm unaware of any church official who beat Henry Ford to the punch and invented the automobile before he did. Science is what we need, not religion. Keep up the work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A conversation

Atheist and Christian:

A: " Why do you believe in something you have no credible evidence exists?"
C: " Because I have plenty of evidence of what I believe in."

A: " Such as....?"
C: " Such as my soul, my sense of morality, my very faith. All of these are the evidence you seem to think doesn't exist. But for sure, faith by itself is enough proof that god exists, because without god, there would be nothing to have faith in, therefore faith would be uneccessary and would have never come into existence. Since it exists, god exists."

A: " Is it safe to say that if you didn't exist, bodily, that all of your evidence, your soul, your morality, your faith would also not exist?"
C: " Only for me personally, nothing about my non-existence has an affect on the existence at large of those concepts, morality, the soul, etc..., but yes, I think it's safe to say that, when referring only to me."

C: " Ask yourself this, If there is no god, then why do we exist?"
A: " Okay."

A: " If there is no god, then why do I exist?"
A: " The question is faulty to begin with, it should be if there is no god, then HOW do I exist. By using the word why, I imply the existence of some reasoning being that can and does impose it's reasoning ability onto the issue of existence, a reasoning being is a god, even if it's not a creator god, such as the Judaic version is said to be. But, if I change the question to "How do I exist", I can answer as such: I exist because my parents joined an egg and sperm together. My DNA enabled my proteins to replicate and diversify, eventually into me. It just so happens that my parents had non-detrimental genes which successfully got passed down to me as the representative of a new generation, because they mated. And it happens that their parents were also as fortunate, and their parents' parents were also, and so on and so forth. That is how I exist, but I would ask you to ask yourself the very same question you posed to me."

C: "Okay."
C: "If there is no god, then why do we exist? I don't know why. It seems to me, there would be no reason for us to exist, no real explanation for our intelligence, self-awareness, consciousness, morality, sense of right and wrong, and so on and so forth. My heart tells me these things, my mind doesn't. My mind might tell me the answer to an arithmetic question or whether or not to buy a certain stock (certainly not GM), but my heart is what leads me to not lie to my friends, my heart is what tells me I love my family. There is no biological explanation for what I feel in my heart, but there is a perfectly acceptable supernatural explanation. Without a god having created these things, they simply wouldn't exist."

A: "So when you ask yourself this question, are you questioning the existence of god, or yourself? It seems to me, that although this seems, on the surface, to be an exercise in questioning god's existence, it is really questioning humanity's."

A: "Postulate that there is no god as we do at the beginning of the question" If there is no god", then follow that with the remainder of the question " then why do we exist". Being in existence but without a god, is not possible for you to imagine, so really you are questioning your own existence, if you posit god's inexistence. Since you obviously exist, you have every reason to think god does as well, because, it is impossible for you to contemplate that humanity could exist as it does, with all of our "uniquely" human attributes, without our having been designed by a higher power. But that is the chink in your armour. You see, it is only the incurious who accept things at face value. It may be impossible for you to see existence seperate from a god, but such a view is narrow, and allows for no room to err. Frought with conceivable doubt, such a tunnelled opinion tends to lead it's adherents toward evermore compact doctrines, always refining until the point at which, the refinement, the honing eventually melds the original material into such a hard, compact almost projectile weapon, metaphorically speaking. In this case, the original material humanity began with was uncertainty itself. Unsure of what the noise of thunder was, we were curious but afraid, so we assigned it a divine position. But our unsurity continued, as it did with other primitively thought about phenomenon. As we grew more intelligent, we dug further into the fields, and uncovered more of the answers about those things which concerned us. Disease became, if not universally controllable, at least more containable and treatable, through wholly natural means. Same with crop propagation, inclement weather avoidance, etc... but the divine status we earlier had apportioned to many misunderstood phenomenon, remained more or less intact. This original material of uncertainty first began to be welded and compacted by superstition. Time moved on and the compaction continued with the advent of organized religion. Uncertainty of anything was not alleviated by religion, it never has been. Religion only soothed the savage beast, it has never done anything to clear up misconceptions. It provided no answer to our questions, it has only ever made us forget our questions altogether (although, notoriously, questions tend to have plagued us throughout history long after we swallowed our false medicine, popping up again and again, ). The sheer inability of someone who believes in god, to acknowledge the possibility that everything we see could very well have come about without a god is what makes the gap between the atheist and the christian. It really is a simple thing, if you think about it, on the one side, a person thinks it is possible for the world to have come into existence through means that are part and parcel of it as it is today. On the other side is someone who cannot think such a thing. Christianity, or religion as a whole (those religions which postulate a version of creation) is simply a result of uncreativity. If you can't imagine something, that certainly doesn't mean that such a thing is impossible, it only points reveals a lack of imagination. I, as an atheist, can absolutely imagine a world having been created by a god, but it is only imaginary. I don't bear the burden of questioning my own existence, because I am not hung up on whether or not god exists, I know he does not. You, a christian, have to square that, because it is you who have accepted as inexplicable that which has already been explained by the world. It is you who have relegated incuriosity to the realm of being faithful, and thusly have helped to build our world systems around social foundations based on the non-existent. These world systems are now beginning to crumble, because of the lack of sure foundational reality-based support. God is not on his throne, all will not be solved by him, America will not be saved because it is a country of the faithful. God does not bless America. We are not one nation under god, we are only one nation under nothing, all on the same level. For sure, we exist, but god does not, nor did he ever need to. It's high time you accept that what you believe is simply incorrect."

C: "I pity you, and will continue to pray for you."
A: "Thanks, but please spend your efforts more wisely."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Questions for the Christian

The following are a list of questions for any of you Christians out there to ask yourself. I'd love it if anyone wanted to actually answer them for me by commenting.

1. What are you in need of salvation from?

2. What is sin?

3. How do you recognize it?

4. Is sin a source of fear, resignation or delight for you?

5. How do you gauge your behaviour?

6. What is heaven?

7. How do you know it exists?

8. Does being a Christian make you personally a better person, all by itself?

9. How do you know you possess an immortal soul?

10. Do you tend to reconcile contradictory passages of the bible, if so, how?

11. Do you recognize contradictory passages in the bible?

12. Do you base your personal sense of morality on what is found in the bible, or do you form your own ideas for morality on what you've learned as you've aged and observed your surroundings?

13. How do you know god exists?

14. Do you base your belief in god on the writings in the bible, your intuition of the existence of a soul, your sense of morality, the wonder of the natural world, etc....?

15. Where is heaven? Hell?

16. How do you know hell exists?

17. How do you know the christian god is the correct model, and all others are not true representations?

18. How is blasphemy any worse a sin than any of the other possible sins mankind could commit?

19. Which of the two versions of the biblical ten commandments do you adhere to?

20. If, on the eve of your death, you were to find out definitively that there is no god, heaven, hell, sin, or christ, would you regret any portion of how you lived your life?

Have fun, and please answer honestly.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On the salvation message and loving your enemies

"For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe on him, would not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 Everybody that has ever heard of the bible knows this verse. Many of us know it from memory. Hell there's probably plenty out there who know the whole bible from memory, I don't know. The point is, that rainbow-colored-wig-wearing guy at all the major sporting and political events has made this verse known to a lot of people. I think we should discuss it, and by we, I mean I think I should offer my critique of it, and those of you who read this can spout back at me your critique of me and how you're sure that I'm gonna burn in hell for my blasphemy and sacrilege. Bring on the grilling.

Christ (which incidentally was not his name, but an misappropriated title meaning messiah, his last name was not Christ) did not love his enemies, despite what mainstream christianity will proclaim to the uninitiated. The bible verse cited above says that god loved the whole world, (presumably he loved the whole world of humanity, since he has unquestioningly ignored the plight of the rainforests, as well as the extinction of many modern species of animals), but that's not exactly what is bornout through the stories passed down by generational christians. Actually, as closer examination of both John 3:16 and other new testament verses is employed, it's easy to see that he died only for those who loved or currently love him, or stated more accurately, came to or will eventually come to love him, all others, including but not limited to those of us who knowingly reject him, as well as those of us who were born into the disawareness caused by debilatative diseases, have been relegated to the sufferings of the eternity of painful burning in a lake made of fire.
Now, the way it seems to me, a real messiah, who was truly part and parcel of a creation-wielding godhead should have died for everyone, and indeed would have included all in his umbrella of salvation if he were really what the bible claims him to be, but even more so he especially should have died on behalf of those whom he knew would reject him. In an existence governed by a god (father) figure that we are meant to think we actually do live in, it is those people who disregard the danger they allow their immortal souls (things which I thoroughly disbelieve in, just for the record) to exist under that should be the first in line, precisely because their very willingness to flaunt themselves in the face of eternal death, could be seen as true ignorance, to such a degree that a responsible "loving" god could not allow it to dominate the survivability of his offspring. Again, if we are to believe that god really did so love the world, and not just those whom he knew would accept him ahead of time, (see omniscience) then those who don't so much as acknowledge him should be, if not first in line, then at least right behind those who glory in him. One could argue that god-loyalists should be rewarded for their loyalty above and before those who show no acceptance of or grovelling over such a "wonderful" gift of salvation. But how could god love everyone, yet allow some of those he loved, one who happened to not love him back, to go to hell anyway, when it was well within his power (see omnipotence) to disallow that scenario if he so chose. The rules being of his own making, and his not being subject to them, else he lose his omnipotence, he could easily have arranged things such that no one, christian or unbeliever, would ever be the wiser to the fact that acceptance of the gift proffered by him, was not a contingency of entrance into the paradise awaiting them in the afterlife. He could have built his elaborate plan in such a way that people could live life as they wanted, striving to be as good a person, individually as they could be, eliminating the threat of eternal torment from the system, and then upon each person's death, he could have simply announced to the unearthly hosts of the already deceased, and the newly decesaed that "SURPRISE, you going to spend the rest of all time in paradise, despite what you might or might not have done during your lifetime, because I so loved the world that I gave my only begotten son, that whosoever lived will have ever-lasting life, because those life-having folks (everyone) are my children and I love you all, no matter what. A god could have said something like that in his "word", he could have set his elaborate system up to actually do what would truly be beneficial to us his children (the creators" of god), but he did not, and you wanta know why he didn't set things up this way? It is because, he doesn't exist, and this system of atonement is an incomplete and primitive system of tribal justice. Justice is a human ideal. It is born of self-awareness and is most likely peculiar to us as a species, but not because we possess some immortal soul, but because we happen to have neurologically evolved to a more advanced state than other mammals have so far. God didn't send his son to die for the whole world, as the bible story recounts, it is clear that the fictional biblical god sent his son to die for those who would accept his gift of atonement, all others could literally and, in his mind rightfully, got to hell. This is pedantic, juvenile and outright transparent in it's display of the human qualities of jealousy and hurt feelings. For god did not so love the world, but we so loved those in it who would think and do what we as a species came to believe was the "right" thing to do, that he did not give his only son so that whoever believed on him would have everlasting life, but we gave ourselves a fantasy that would absolve us of taking responsibility for our own actions so that we could seperate ourselves into classes of distinction between those who are "good" people and those who are "bad" and by doing so we allowed ourselves to construct equally fantastical divisions such as heaven and hell, and we were then able to further elaborate our construction into a system of do's and dont's which would get you into said heavenly or hellish constructs. But we ignored one thing as we revelled in our newly-found cleverness as fictional constructionists, our ability to build, was blinded by our need to build, and so we left cracks in the foundations of our facades in our hurry to erect the shell of our morality. Cracks such as god loving the whole world, but only allowing his sacrifice to cover those in the world who accept it, a glaring inconsistency if ever there were one. If you are a christian, please take a moment and CRITICALLY evaluate the tenets of your faith which you hold so dear. Take a moment and play devil's advocate with yourself and your faith. I know you live in a world of certainty about what you believe, but have you ever even considered the possibility that you might be mistaken, and that despite your desire for the things you believe to be true, there may not be enough concrete unassailable reasons to think they really are? I grew up a christian, in a christian household, as I've mentioned many times on this blog. I have learned the tenets of the christian faith, and I have found them to be childishly ridiculous, How is it that I but not you could have come to this conclusion? Is it because I wanted to disbelieve? Certainly the mainstream, Palin-supporting, southern, 30 something, middle-class, christian mom and/or dad of three god-loving children has always wanted to believe, so is it just a matter of me being the opposite, I want to disbelieve? Or is it that one of us has conciously decided to approach the subject from a purposefully different and counterintuitive angle, precisely for the objectivity such an action could provide, and one of us is too comfortable in the established course of life to disrupt it in any such way? Which sounds more plausible to you? Christians, wake up, and either question what you believe for the sake of the answer, whatever it may be, or waste the span of your life trusting that you haven't f***ed up royally. Either way, as the bumper sticker says, If I'm living my life as if there's no god, I'd better be right, well, I am living my life that way, and I'm more certain there is no god, than any christian I know is certain there is. And you know how I know, because I can't stand some people, especially those I would qualify as my enemies. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On the election

I am voting for Barack Obama, when the time comes. My reason: I have concluded that he is the most intelligent person running for the High Office. My evidence: He is in the prime of his life. He is articulate. He received a degree from Harvard. He understands fiscal issues. He believes that he can effect a portion of change, but also acknowledges that he is not the only possible one who could do so. He negatively portrays his opponent only about 1/3 of the time, in his political commercials, according to an NPR report yesterday, which means 2/3 of his commercials are portraying what his qualifications are for the office, and what possible changes he would try and implement if he were elected. He is not a self-proclaimed maverick. He makes decisions on an individual basis, sometimes going with the prevailing thought, and sometimes not doing so. He is a pragmatic idealist.
John McCain is probably a nice man. I don't know him personally, nor do I know Barack Obama personally, whom I'm sure is also probably a nice man. Senator McCain is a lot of what Senator Obama is not, but there are seeming similarities between the two men, at least to me. For one, they both recognize that some restorative course of action is due for the failing financial system of which up until recently, America was at the helm of. Secondly, they both acknowledge the fact that America is not behaving responsibly with regards to fossil fuel consumption. Thirdly, both men want America's place within the collective world's esteem to be restored to it's pre-911 position. There are other general similarities, but three is enough to illustrate my point.
At the heart of the matter, the two candidates want the same basic things.
So how does one person get elected to the Presidency in America? Do they highlight the similarities between themselves and their opponent? yeah...Right! Opponents by definition, try to persuade as many voters to see the dissimilarities between they and their opponent. Especially if the candidate views him/herself as being the underdog of the contest. Obama spends about 33% of his ads attacking McCain. McCain spends almost 100% of his ads attacking Obama. This is the first sign of the disparity in intelligence level of the two men. McCain could behave as the bigger man, but he has chosen not to. If Barack Obama were the nefarious person McCain ads want to show him as, then in this media-driven world, by now, someone unaffiliated eith the McCain campaign, would have uncovered and exploited his (Obama's) deviousness. McCain has no need to bring anything negative about Obama to the attention of the voting population, that's what CNN, MsNBC, and The New York Times are for. Obama recognizes this, which is why he has spent relatively little time highlighting his opponents deficiencies, instead postulating his own assets.

Reason one how Obama is smarter than McCain: Obama doesn't waste time on people who don't matter, because he realizes he is the only one he can control.

I decided to vote for Barack Obama the first momentI heard him speak, during the early days of the democratic Primary, and I have never faltered in my support. This is because, he spoke well. He does not stumble over his words, he does not say "Um" or "Uh" a great deal, and he is deliberate in his pronunciation. What do any of those points matter, when it comes to choosing a president-elect? The president is a figure head, albeit one with some degree of official sway, but a figure head nonetheless. As such, the president is thought of as an image, in the minds of the world's population. If we elected a person with poor speaking skills, such as George W. Bush, the esteem of the country is automatically lessened, and lest we forget, both McCain and Obama want to reraise the level of the world's esteem for us, so please don't fall into the trap of thinking that America can "go it alone" without the rest of the world. If we lived in a different world system, perhaps that would be possible, but we exist in a world of our own making. Our credit-based system which has assimilated a large portion of the world, requires that we Americans either restore our credibility, or allow it to evaporate entirely, and rebuild from scratch either a carbon copy system of credit/loan/investment or a new system based on something else (production/saving). Obama is a much more polished public speaker than McCain is. He is more comfortable speaking in general. McCain strikes as someone who wants to seem like he wants to be there talking to you, but really he desperately wants to go somewhere else. Obsession is a sign of disorder, mostly, and McCain is entirely obsessed with using the phrase " My Friends" when he speaks publicly. Clarity of articulation results from years of practiced thought, introspection, and conclusion-drawing. McCain simply doesn't sound like a thinker, he sounds like a guy who's gonna shoot from the hip, go with his gut, someone who might listen to what those around him are saying, but might for no comprehendable reason go exactly against their recommendations. Bush lasted 8 years doing so, but he has dragged our country into the doldrums as a result.

Reason Number two how Obama is more intelligent than McCain: He is vastly more articulate.

Quickly I'll touch on how the choices we make reveal a great deal about us. Sarah Palin is clearly unqualified for the office for which she has been asked to run. And make no mistake, she was asked to run for the VP office. It was not her intention, six months ago, to eventually BE the republican choice for vice president, she was chosen by the McCain campaign. She has done nothing to illustrate her qualifications for the office of VP, moreso than any of us might have been able to do, which is why she is so fond of the phrase "Joe Six-Pack" in her speeches. She knows that she is a Joe Six-Pack and if she has any chance of getting elected she'll have to convince Joe Six-Pack that Joe-Six-Pack wants another one of him/herself running Joe-Six-Pack's home country. She also knows deep down that Joe Six-Pack does not want Another Joe-Six-Pack in charge of everything,and she has to convince him otherwise, even thought she probably wouldn't havevoted for a joe six-pack for VP in the past, but who knows. Deep down she knows, most americans want someone to do their thinking for them, presumably someone can do so well. Palin has spent the last 5 weeks or so, trying desperately to suppress the revulsion most people have to the idea of their stupid-ass neighbor being the Vice President. I say suppress because that's exactly what she is doing by showing up to rallies in states her own party has abandoned. She is Amwaying her way to the white house, Go Diamond!!! Revving up a crowd with worn out cliches about how Mavericky she and McCain are, is no substitute for real-life intelligence and experience. As a voter, I am supremely uncomfortable with a candidate needing to point out "all" the executive experience their running mate has. I don't want my electoral choice to ever even be in the same conversation with executive experience. There should be no question, no conversation to be had, in such a regard. Executive experience when in regards to someone running for National High office should be a subject unneccessary to bring up, it should be a given that someone running for the office they are running for, should have unquestionable experience. I have lied on applications for jobs, I have worded things in such ways as to play myself up to being more than I really am, but a grocery store clerk is one thing, the vice presidency is so much more. McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate reeks of transparency, at least I hope it does. The way I see it, he chose her for one of only a couple of reasons. Initially I thought he chose her for her charisma, which is something he has little of. She certainly makes up for his lack of it. Second though, he could have actually thought she was the absolute best option out there for his Vice President. Either choice illustrates his intelligence rung. On the one hand, he is stupid for believing that the best course of action is to pick a person who will help him get elected as president, because, insincerity always wreaks it's true destruction on whomever wallows in it. Bush patronized the entire country into believing he was right about everything, and he is currently regarded by approval ratings as one of the worst presidents this country has ever elected, not once but twice. His father succumbed to siren song of insincerity as well, also being regarded as one of the poorest choices for president toward the end of his one and only term in office. McCain may really believe the country will approve of him so much that they will fall for his parlour trick of Palin the charisma magician, and elect the two of them to office. He may really believe the country will continue to approve of him as its elected leader and her as second in command well into his term of office, regardless of whether she stays out of the way or is as hands on as she seems to be implying she will be, and regardless of whether her ineptitude will manifest itself in nationally destructive ways. If he does actually believe these two things, then this country will have as one of it's choices for president, the fourth stooge.
On the other hand, he could believe she really is the most qualified of the potential pool of vice presidential prospects. If this is the case, then I am frightened that so many people in this country actually want to vot e for McCain because of Palin being on the ticket. His intelligence level is clearly betrayed by his choice of running mate.
Obama has chosen someone whose qualifications for the office of Vice President has never even been brought up. That is as it should be. Now, if anyone wants to question Biden's abilities, that's fine, he will be able to answer them, and the questioner will be doing so as a response to the unending line of questioning that Palin has been undergoing since her appointment. But, Biden has a clear pedigree, whilst Palin simply does not. It is this lack of superficial experience that ensures (and rightfully so) that Palin will be unscrupulously examined for the next month. I'm sure Biden will not.. How is this fair? Palin has not spent her life notching her belt of experience year after year, she is trying to manufacture surface-confidence in a very short time.

Reason number three how Obama is more intelligent than McCain: He wisely chose his running mate.

McCain and Palin are incessant about their maverickness. They are both going to shake up washington. Thelast time we elected a president who was an outsider, we elcted George W. Bush in 2000. He "won" over the washington insider Al Gore. He was the Maverick. He shot from the hip, he quickly became a wartime president, and he loved that. He portrayed himself as the Cowboy, downhome, texas good old boy, that was on your side, and was going to come to washington and change the clinton legacy to be more moral and responsible. Now we have the end of another morally questionable two-term presidency whose washington insiderness has been celebrated by everyone even remotely associated with this administration. And we have a candidate who is espousing his outsiderness, his tendency towards bucking the system, going against the flow, Blah, blah, blah. And we have his running mate who is most decidedly outside of washington, and is also touting her independently political wares. Being a maverick backfired on the country in 2000 and 2004, what possible reason could anyone have for thinking it will not do the same this time around. Going against the flow for the sake of going against the flow is not smart. Anyone who thinks it is is simply short-sighted. Senators, representatives, judges, lawyers, cabinet members are all in the places ther are because we as a voting population trusted them to be our elected officials. For us to wantonly abandon our own opinions about these people (as those who think a maverick president is a good thing would do), is to ridicule ourselves to the rest of the world. It is saying "We are the most fair and democratic society in the world. Look to us to model yourselves after. But don't mind our fickleness, when it comes to electing a president, we don't really trust those we elected to be of true help. We would rather have someone who thumbs his nose at our collective choices, and goes his own way."
reason number four how Barack Obama is mor intelligent than McCain: He is not a Maverick.

This blog post has gone on long enough. I hope my point is clear enough: Intelligence is required by the office of the presidency. Let us all strive to elect the person who has the most of it, and then let us all trust that the person we elect will utilize it to the benefit of our failing country.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On being a weakling

Yes. I am going to offer another, yet another, argument against one the christian's hallmark beliefs. It's funny how there is a never-ending supply of critique-able topics within organized religion. I guess that's a good thing for folks like me. So here goes:
The christian maintains that humans are the special creations of god. Better than the other living beings around us. Maybe not better, per se, but certainly on a higher rung of the liffe-ladder than trees or manatees. You know what makes them think such a thing. The soul we all have is unique to us. No other being, be they flora or fauna has this set of imperial new clothing. Only we blessed humans have this. Now, go ask any christian you know to describe what their soul looks like. Ha, Ha, Ha. I just couldn't resist throwing that one in there. Of course I know what you're thinking they would say "Just because you can't see a soul doesn't mean it doesn't exist, I mean you've never seen an atom, but you still think they exist!" I think such a response, even one like this, which is one I've extrapolated from my own pre-atheistic experiences, would be better phrased in this way " Just because I can't see a soul doesn't mean it doesn't exist, I mean I"ve never seen an atom but I still think they exist." You see, the subtle change in pronouns between the twosentences betrays just how fundamentally different the two are from each other. In the first, the tone is accusatory and offensive (in the sense that the speaker is on the offense, not meaning I as the listener have taken offense at the statement). I, the listener, am being ridiculed for being hypocritical, in that I am perfectly willing to (in the eyes of my accuser) believe in one particular invisible thing (the atom) but simultaneously unwilling to believe in another similarly invisible thing (the soul). Whereas the second phrase, is defensive and slightly apologetic. I the listener am being asked to understand that the speaker really is utterly convinced of their convictions that the soul exists because of the same logic they use to accept that an atom exists. It is not accusatory of me, it is apologetic on the part of the speaker. It seems to me, that the most prudent method for procuring acceptance of your believing something with no evidence is the method which avoids accusation of the proposed acceptor, wherever and whenever possible. Isn't then ironic that I am writing this blog at all, maybe even a bit hypocritical? yeah, I suppose it is. But how else am I to breach a subject such as this, if not within a public medium such as a blog. And since a blog is written within a singularly isolated authorial bubble, with no input being offered by outside sources, until post-posting has occured, it really is an impossibility to not be accusatorial in writing such things, but I defensively digress. Back to the real post.
Christians think we are special because of our souls. If that were the case, if we were really the most important of all god's creations, above all the animals, plants, even the universe at large or small, then how does a christian explain our fragility. I cannot accept at this point, a christian saying something along the lines of " well it's our very fragility, our susceptibility to the world around us, that makes partly so special". It is by the admission of the christian, our possession of a soul which makes us so special. It cannot be both soul-ownership and also physical frailty. It can in the end only be one, just like highlander. How is it that god, would think it smartto make the most special thing he could make and then house it within such a destructible shell. I mean, bacterial infection aside, the downfall of man through the commission of original sin aside, how could god think it a good idea to make it so the most important of all his handiwork, could be crushed by a loose boulder in the hills outside jerusalem? Our bodies are not capable of universally surviving being smashed to smithereens on the floor of a canyon after having fallen from a 2,000 foot clifftop. maybe one in a few people could possibly survive somethinglike that, but not 100% of us could, which meand we were not designed to be able to do such a thing and live to tell about it. Those lucky few who could and maybe have done so, are the exception not the rule. SO again,what is the christian explanation for our bodies being the frail shell they are? I know damn well, if I were the creator of the world and humanity was my crowning achievement, I would make sure that there was no way my magnum opus could be destroyed by some namby-pamby rock, or stick, or mouthful of teeth, or some microscopic parasitic mooch-driven slimeball. If there were a creator god, which of course there is not, then he was an idiot for giving us such crappy, candy-shell, peanut-brittle bodies. it just shows how unimportant we really are. Just because we can think we are more important than all else in existence doesn't mean we are. How do we know that cockroaches don't think, How do you, Mr. Christian know that a cockroach cannot think. Cause it looks to me like the cockroach is better equipped to survive a 2000 foot fall than I am. Maybe, we got it backwards, maybe the cockroach, or the shark or bacteria are the real important ones, cause they've been around a lot longer than we have. And maybe they can think, I don't know that they can't.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Miracle of Creation?

Isn't nature beautiful? Complex, varied, awe-inspiring (in the true, non-cliche sense) and some say miraculous. How could we have the world we live in if something didn't make it, purposefully? My mom sees the existence of god in the world around her, as she has told me. Leaving aside the possibility that she includes the magnanimous behaviour of her friends and those "nice strangers" she meets each week at church, I assume she is mainly referring to the grandiosity of the natural world. Her garden growing, wildlife all around her, the vastness of the atlantic ocean, etc... Indeed, the workings of a living body are complex, so complex that most don't bother ever attempting to learn how they operate, beyond a conversational familiarity with the subject. Mountains are enormous. I certainly couldn't make a mountain out of a bunch of rocks and dirt. I couldn't dig out a big bowlful of earth and then fill it with water enough to equal the atlantic. Awesome is a good word to describe these and all the many other monumental natural "wonders" of the world. But I of course have a problem with the tacit assignment of supernatural origin to all of these wonders, that my mom and so many many people in this country so easily give away.
If god were the true creator of all that we see, then his Creation should be comprised of false fronts. The "miracle" of nature, should by definition, defy the laws of the natural world. God should have "made" everything to work exactly as it does, but without the various inner workings that science has slowly revealed over the last 1500 years or so. A human body that lives as ours do, but one with no bones, blood vessels, internal organs etc... would indeed be a miraculous thing. An oak tree that looks just like an oak tree, that does all the oak tree things, but is only a caricature of an oak tree, now that would be something of divine origin. But that is not what we have. Instead we have living bodies that exist according to particular protocols. Reproduction occurs according to duplicatory measures. Respiration occurs in a regulated manner, one that can be observed and described. Infact, the only way the word miracle could be used to describe the workings (or results) of nature is if there were no words other than miracle to use to describe what we see. By having other words to describe more accurately, these repeatedly observable processes, we eliminate "miracle" from the vocabulary. God's "creation" is capable of working all by itself, utilizing no supernatural means, only what it possesses naturally. This in itself is enough to discard any thought of a theistic origin to the world.
If there is no "creation", then what is left to argue for on the side of the existence of god. If "god" didn't create everything, which is one of the hallmarks of god's omnipotence, then what other reasons do we have to believe in such a being. Let's say, everyone agrees the earth was formed from the coagulation of cosmic "gases" comprised of the simplest elements, about 5 billion years ago. Let's just say that we all agree on that, which I know we don't, but let's just pretend likewe do for a moment. If we dismantle the idea that god mysteriously "created" the earth as we know it, through his godly methods, of which we will never be privy to, then in what capacity does god remain ALL-Powerful? If he is not the creator of the universe doesn' this take away some of his power? If some of his power is removed, then doesn't this mean he is not OMNIpotent. If there is something which he did not do, then that means something else did it. I suppose it would depend on what the something is that we are disucussing. Obviously, if we were talking about god having the power to make a pizza, and then we remove all reason to believe that god had ever made a pizza, then of course our conclusion couldn't be that god was incapable of making a pizza, just that he had never done so. But let's be clear, we are not discussing the origins of a tasty italian-american meal. This is the planet's existence here. If god did not create the planet, then we must come up with another explanation for it's existence. If the planet came into being as science has described, without the help of god, then in this grand case, it is prudent to conclude god's incapability in the arena of planet construction. For sure, if god had wanted us to know he existed, without a doubt, it would have been a much easier and more successful road hoed, if he had simply left ample, inscrutable and unassailable evidence that he alone created the earth. Since he did not do such a thing, it is entirely possible to dismantle the facade of god's planetary creationist powers. The way I see it, if the truth really were, god is the all powerful being that christians say he is, then he would have left in our minds, no room for doubt. Since we obviously have this capacity, and exercise it with a divinely morbid regularity, this must lead us to conclude that god's existence is not what the christians have packaged it as. Of course, not everyone is accepting of the scientific method's alternative explanation on the origin of our planet, but the fact remains that this alternative exists. So what if god is just this thing that is bigger than us, that we just know is out there? So what if he is? Who cares? And for what reason do they care if they indeed do? If the christian god is not god, then is the muslim or jewish god God? They really aren't that dissimilar, having originated from the same tradition, so what about the hindu god(s), the norse, native american, various african? None of these, offer explanations which are MORE credible, than that of the scientific explanation, to the origin of the earth. In order to be more credible, they each would have to explain things which science cannot, and do so in a way that is not childishly ignorant. They can not. What about those who say, religion is a means to live your life the best way possible? God is that which can help you to become a better person. The word god, for these people, is a crutch. It adds nothing explanatory to the discussion, but it does allow for retreat into safety, when the discomfort of bad decision-making becomes a bit too much. The idea that there is something directing them towards being good, absolves, ever-how indirectly, a person from having to accept full responsibility for all of their life-long decisions and actions. God is a crutch, that does nothing to illuminate more fully what we do not understand. It is high time we relinquish that which does not help, even if it seems like it does help.