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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finding oneself agreeing with Richard Dawkins

Meh. It happens.

Michael at 'Shadow to Light' Atheist Safe Spaces -- "While Dawkins is mocking the whole idea of safe spaces, and I happen to agree with him on this, he fails to realize that atheists have been the safe space pioneers. Someone said a prayer in school? There is a Christmas tree in school? There is a picture of the Ten Commandments in the school? MAKE IT STOP! The atheist students are being traumatised by the scary expressions of Christian belief. If you think about it, the Freedom From Religion Foundation should be renamed the Making Atheist Safe Spaces Foundation."

Continue reading ...

Monday, March 23, 2015

You *knew* it was gonna be

Mark Steyn: In related news -- "~In related news: The guy who put up "white people only" stickers all over Austin, Texas turns out to be "social justice warrior" Adam Reposa - just "raising awareness" of your racism, you racey-race racist you."

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

'So what?'

Michael, at the 'Shadow to Light' blog, has a recent post discussing Sean Carroll's argument (ahem!) that 'Science!' and "religion" are "incompatible". Michael and the commenter TFBW note that "So what?" may be an appropriate response to the claims or arguments (ahem!) of the God-haters.

In fact, the "So what?" response is appropriate to *any* normative assertion made by those who deny that moral duties and expectations are real (or "objective" as people like to say), transcendent and universally binding.

I've discussed the "So what?" response at various times and places; here I'll try to present my ideas on this in an easy-to-follow way.

Consider the following hypothetical exchange, wherein the hypothetical Christian is, for the sake of argument, adopting the hypothetical atheist’s presumptions and the logical entailments thereof -- which include (but is not limited to) the statements that:
1) there are no real, universal, binding, transcendent moral obligations or duties;
2) we cease to exist - as though we had never been - when we die;
3) ultimately, *all* things will cease to exist;
n) ergo, nothing really matters.

Atheist (or Moral Relativist): "Christianity is false."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, Christianity presents a false view about "God", and about man, and about the universe, and about man's place in the universe."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, people shouldn't believe -- and certainly shouldn't teach others to believe -- things that are false!"

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "But, it's *wrong* to try to covince people to believe things one knows to be false."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, it's not good, for the individual nor for society, when people believe things that are false."

(pseudo-)Christian: "So what? ... Still, you have convinced me -- with your mere assertion -- that Christianity is false. But, you know what? I'm going to keep trying to convince people that it's true."

Atheist (or M.R): "But, but, but ... that woud be lying!"

(pseudo-)Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "But, it's *wrong* to lie. It's *wrong* to try to covince people to believe things one knows to be false."

(pseudo-)Christian: "You've already asserted that, and again I respond: So what?"

I expect that Gentle Reader is experienced enough, and a clear enough thinker, to be able to extend this hypothetical exchange indefinitely and in other directions, such that I need not belabor it.

But, notice this: atheism (or even merely moral relativism) is a curious worldview -- whether it is the truth about the nature of reality, and of God, and of ourselves matters *only* if it is not the truth about the nature of reality, and of God, and of ourselves. Is that *any* other worldview that matters only if it doesn't matter?

Notice another very important thing, not just from my hypothetical exchange (which, of course, I scripted), but also from your own experiences with so-called 'atheists' -- atheists' arguments against Judeo-Christianity, to the limited extent that they ever actually attempt to present an argument, *always* implicitly assume the very thing they (and the logic of their position) are adamant to deny (*): that there are real, universal, binding, transcendent moral obligations or duties, including, but not limited to:
1) it is *wrong* to lie;
2) it is *wrong* to reason or argue on the basis of what one knows, or at least believes, to be false;
3) it is *wrong* to decline or refuse to investigate, to the best of one's abilities, whether one's premises are sound;
3a) it is *wrong* to decline or refuse to learn, to the best of one's abilities, and adopt, a true view of the nature of reality;
4) it really does *matter*, not just now, but also after one has died and lo longer even exists, whether one lives one's life in accordance with what is true about the nature of reality;

(*) especially when these claims are deployed against their position of denial of God and of morality.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How ‘Science!’ works!

Im-a-fool-and-don’t-you-forget-it! wrote at Victor Reppert’s blog -- "Illion [sic] shows again that he has absolutely no idea what kind of physical laws are entailed by relativity and quantum mechanics. There actually IS a difference between "science" and feats of "magic" that have never, and will never occur. These things are not entailed by any physical law. They are nothing more than stories concocted by people like you who don't have a clue, but just want to justify an imaginary God."

From 'The Demon-Haunted World' by Carl Sagan

"Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow.


So, if one were to assert that at any time my "car [might] spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of [the] garage and be found the next morning on the street", with the caveat that any actual occurrence of the assertedly possible event is so improbable as to be effectively a non-existent possibility ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed the Risen Christ to *intentionally* walk through a locked door, damaging neither door nor self, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

So, if one were to assert that at any time all the oxygen molecules in the auditorium might spontaneously gather themselves into the upper corners of the room (this was an example assertion by one of my professors as an illustration of what QM “tells us”), thus leaving all the humans in the room lacking for the oxygen necessary to sustain their lives, with the caveat that any actual occurrence of the assertedly possible event is so improbable as to be effectively a non-existent possibility ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed a certain usefully-shaped collection of (primarily) iron atoms rise to the surface of a body of water into which it had fallen, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

So, if one were to assert that, contrary to all experience, and contrary to all scientific and medical findings to date, non-living chemicals can spontaneously arrange themselves into living organisms ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed a collection of once-living molecules walking around, eating, breathing, and talking to other collections of ambulatory molecules well after one knew that collection of molecules to have been dead, and one attributed this socking-and-totally-unexpected development to the sovereign power of the Being who created molecules and living organisms in the first place, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

I think we all see how ‘Science!’ - and ‘I-pretend-to-be-rational’ -- operates.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pray for 'Tor'

The Other McCain: Bad Christianity, Worse Atheism

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

About 'tidy-minded engineers' and our 'backward' retina

The Pope of Atheism, Richard Dawkins, in particular, and DarwinDefenders in general, like to claim that the layout of the vertebrate retina is "backwards" ... and that this is proof of the Darwinistic UIND ('unintelligent nondesign', pronounced "wind"), which blows where it blows, with no rhyme nor reason. Dawkins argues (ha!) that as no "tidy-minded engineer" would ever design the vertebrate retina in the manner that we observe, ergo it wasn't designed, but rather, just happened.

Here, Cornelius Hunter discusses merely the most recent finding of *real* science (as distinct from the 'Science!' so beloved of DarwinDefenders) that shows Dawkins and the other DarwinDefenders to be *wrong* in claiming that our eyes are "wired backward" -- It’s Just Getting Worse: Our Retina Structure is “optimized for our vision purposes”

Here is a little something I first read about a good decade ago -- The Retinal Pigment Epithelium in Visual Function
Located between vessels of the choriocapillaris and light-sensitive outer segments of the photoreceptors, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) closely interacts with photoreceptors in the maintenance of visual function. Increasing knowledge of the multiple functions performed by the RPE improved the understanding of many diseases leading to blindness. This review summarizes the current knowledge of RPE functions and describes how failure of these functions causes loss of visual function. Mutations in genes that are expressed in the RPE can lead to photoreceptor degeneration. On the other hand, mutations in genes expressed in photoreceptors can lead to degenerations of the RPE. Thus both tissues can be regarded as a functional unit where both interacting partners depend on each other.

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a monolayer of pigmented cells forming a part of the blood/retina barrier (72, 372, 492, 558). The apical membrane of the RPE faces the photoreceptor outer segments (Fig. 1). Long apical microvilli surround the light-sensitive outer segments establishing a complex of close structural interaction. With its basolateral membrane the RPE faces Bruch’s membrane, which separates the RPE from fenestrated endothelium of the choriocapillaris (Fig. 1).

[figure 1]

Summary of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) functions. PEDF, pigment epithelium-derived growth factor; VEGF, vascular epithelium growth factor; Epithel, epithelium.

As a layer of pigmented cells the RPE absorbs the light energy focused by the lens on the retina (72, 86). The RPE transports ions, water, and metabolic end products from the subretinal space to the blood (144, 236, 369, 402, 558). The RPE takes up nutrients such as glucose, retinol, and fatty acids from the blood and delivers these nutrients to photoreceptors. Importantly, retinal is constantly exchanged between photoreceptors and the RPE (30, 58, 596). Photoreceptors are unable to reisomerize all-trans-retinal, formed after photon absorption, back into 11-cis-retinal. To maintain the photoreceptor excitability, retinal is transported to the RPE reisomerized to 11-cis-retinal and transported back to photoreceptors. This process is known as the visual cycle of retinal. Furthermore, the voltage-dependent ion conductance of the apical membrane enables the RPE to stabilize ion composition in the subretinal space, which is essential for the maintenance of photoreceptor excitability (144, 558, 559). Another function in the maintenance of photoreceptor excitability is the phagocytosis of shed photoreceptor outer segments (72, 170, 187, 575). The photoreceptor outer segments are digested, and essential substances such as retinal are recycled and returned to photoreceptors to rebuild light-sensitive outer segments from the base of the photoreceptors. In addition, the RPE is able to secrete a variety of growth factors helping to maintain the structural integrity of choriocapillaris endothelium and photoreceptors. Furthermore, the secretory activity of the RPE plays an important role in establishing the immune privilege of the eye by secreting immunosuppressive factors (280, 581). With these complex different functions, the RPE is essential for visual function. A failure of any one of these functions can lead to degeneration of the retina, loss of visual function, and blindness. In the following sections these functions will be described in more detail. ...
To put this into plain English: the supposed "backwards" design of the retina is actually critical to "maintain the photoreceptor excitability" of the cone and rod cells -- that is, to allow us to see as efficiently as we.

To put it another way, if Dawkins, being a "tidy minded engineer", had designed our eyes, our vision wouldn't be nearly as good as it is, and it wouldn't be nearly as fitted to how we actually live as it is. Since the photoreceptor cells couldn't react as quickly as they do to the *next* photon to strike them, we'd need to have much bigger eyes, with far more photoreceptor cells,to send the same amount of visual information to the brain. Or, perhaps our visual experience of the world would have to be as a series of stills, instead of smoothly flowing.

So, if it really were the case that our eyes were "wired backward" ... and that this were then proof that Darwinism, and atheism, are the truth about the nature of reality ... does the *real* scientific finding that they're not "wired backward" count as proof that Darwinism, and atheism, are falsehoods about the nature of reality? Of course not! For the "our eyes are wired backward" argument (ahem!) was never offered ion good-faith in the first place.

Continue reading ...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ye olde 'double-standard'

Any number of women -- and womenly men -- like to complain about some supposed "double standard" that "society" (by which they generally mean "men") imposes upon women vis-a-vis the selection of "partners". But, in fact, what they're really complaining about is the fact, well-known for centuries, that men and women value different things in the opposite sex -- or, to put it another way, they're complaining that men are not women.

There is a little exchange touching on this supposed "double-standard" over at K T Cat's blog. My response is far too long to post in a commbox, so I've turned it into an OP post here --
Ilíon: "So, the lady is complaining how unfair it is that men aren't women?

K T Cat: "Yep. Maybe there's a problem or two with telling girls to act like boys...

Jedi Master Ivyan: "No. I think the complaint is that men's standards for appearance are ridiculously high. Even men who don't look at pornography are bombarded with images of perfect women in media. A portly 40 year old man expects no less than a ravishing 20 something. There are plain women who need husbands, too."

K T Cat: "Jedi, you are right as well. Having said that, it does no good to tell young women to wait to begin sifting through the market until they're older. It only makes matters worse. You can bet that I will not be telling my daughter to wait until she's 30+. Instead, I'll tell her to find the right guy and not worry about her age.

The stories of what girls are doing in college these days - hooking up instead of shopping around - is heartbreaking. Many of them will end up like the unhappy woman writing in the UK newspaper.
"No. I think the complaint is that men's standards for appearance are ridiculously high. Even men who don't look at pornography are bombarded with images of perfect women in media. A portly 40 year old man expects no less than a ravishing 20 something. There are plain women who need husbands, too."

A man whose "standards for appearance [is] ridiculously high" -- given the context of what *he* has to offer that women value -- is a man who will remain single. Problem solved, don't you think?

"A portly 40 year old man expects no less than a ravishing 20 something. There are plain women who need husbands, too."

Now, see? You're doing the very thing that the woman in question is doing -- you're demanding that men be women.

What you're say is something like this: "If this particular man (a "portly 40 year old") were a woman, he wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of attracting a mate he (as a 'she') desires."

Well, yes. But, the fact is, he's *not* a "plain woman" (presumably) trying to attract a man she finds desirable; he's a "portly 40 year old man" (presumably) trying to attract a woman he finds desirable.

And the plain fact is that men and women find quite different traits or characteristics to be desirable in the opposite sex --
1) men desire women who can give them children (and who *respect* them .. and who also desire sexual activity with them, as this is generally how men achieve the emotional-belief that “she loves-and-respects me”); this tends to skew towards "a ravishing 20 something";
2) women desire men who can -- and will commit to -- support their children (and who *cherish* them ... and who also sexually desire them while not being kinky in those sexual desires, as this is generally how women achieve the emotional-belief that “he loves-and-cherishes me”); this tends to skew towards "successful" men ... who, not infrequently, are "portly 40 year olds".

But, with women, there is an added twist: women tend to desire the men that already belong to other women (in this context, by 'women', I really mean "human females with the minds of junior high-school girls, regardless of their chronological ages"). That is, as women tend to be herd creatures, they not infrequently fall into the fallacy of judging the worth of a man not on his own merits, but on some amorphous herd consensus: “if some other woman desires him, he must be desirable” -- this is why, in the present day, we see masses of 'women' going ga-ga over absolute trolls ... provided those trolls are pushed on TV.

"Even men who don't look at pornography are bombarded with images of perfect women in media."

It's not due to "the media", and it's not due to pornography -- it's due to human nature and the *different* things men, in general, desire in women, compared to what women, in general, desire in men. There is an added twist, of course, and you can blame "the media" if you wish: our cultural elites (who tend to be leftists and God-haters) have spent the past couple of centuries working to make the vices of the sexes into the (perceived) virtues; and, most recently, having convinced most 'men' that being a cad is what manhood is all about, they've switched gears to trying to turn men into ersatz women (though, not, of course, virtuous women, but the opposite).

But, on the basic human nature angle, why do you think that older men -- even before Christianity -- have *always* cautioned younger men to not make physical appearance the most important criterion by which they pick a woman, but rather to look at the full package of what she can bring to a marriage, starting with whether she is a woman of honor (thus, being a slut pretty much out-weighed whatever good qualities she might have)? Why do you think that older women -- even before Christianity -- have *always* cautioned younger women to not make popularity the most important criterion by which they pick a man, but rather to look at the full package of what he can bring to a marriage, starting with whether he is a man of honor (thus, being a cad pretty much out-weighed whatever good qualities he might have)?

Now, it's true that we presently live in society in which the social elites devalue -- 'hate' is not too strong a word -- marriage and commitment. It's true that we live in a society in which the social elites (who tend to be leftists and atheists) have been hard at work for the past couple of centuries to divorce "sex" from reproduction in the minds and attitudes of "the masses" -- and thus we see masses of women, and men, in their 30s and 40s, with a lot of notches on their bed-posts, but no committment: no *real* marriage (even if they have gone through some ceremony); no (living) children, but any number of children murdered via abortion, and no grandchildren.

But, there is no *reason* that the individual must submit to this cultural suicide. As Mark Steyn always says: "The future belongs to those who show up" ... and those who fall prey to the leftist/atheistic hatred of real marriage, and real sexual activity -- which is to say, making babies -- tend to de-select themselves from The Future (tm). The current cultural consensus -- hatred of real marriage -- is unstable and, in fact, self-destroying.

Further, we live in a deliberately feminized age. By this I mean that most 'men' *already* have been trained by our leftist/atheist elites think and behave similarly to women (in this context, by 'women', I really mean "junior high-school girls"). And most 'women *already* have been trained by our leftist/atheist elites to never mature out of the mindest of junior-high girls.

The solution to the discontents of 'women' who have wasted -- as they were *taught* to do -- their 20s and 30s chasing after everything *except* the one thing that they, as women, really do most desire, is not "more of the same", and it's not "let's brow-beat men into trying to be women", and it certainly isn't "let's pretend that we were not intentionally mislead, and that we did not willingly join in our own deception and did not willingly cooperate in the ruination of our own lives."

Continue reading ...

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Democrats weren't always

The Democrats weren't always the Treason Party (both slow and fast). But, at best, they have been worthless since the self-righteous soft-leftist, Wilson.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Why mental states are not physical states

Victor Reppert has a recent small post, Why mental states are not physical states. As is his habit, or modesty, he doesn't take the idea he's (tentatively) exploring to its logical conclusion, which is that we -- embodied rational beings -- are the proof that God -- the unembodied Rational Being of all beings -- is.

In a comment to his OP, I do take the idea to that conclusion (of course), and I might as well share it with you (or course). But the *main* point of this post is to demolish the *denial* of what Reppert wrote --
Victor Reppert:
If mental states are physical states, then the truth about what someone believes should follow necessarily from the state of the brain/physical world. But it doesn't. If we line up all the physical facts, we have every atom traced, the argument from The brain is in state X therefore he must believe, say, that God exists, cannot follow necessarily. The state of the physical always leaves the state of the mental indeterminate. But what my thought is about is determinate, not indeterminate. Therefore my belief is not a physical state.

Me, taking the idea to its logical conclusion:
... and thereby do we know that naturalism and materialism and indeed atheism (*) is false.

(*) For, it isn't the physicalism that shows naturalism and materialism to be false, it is the determinism.
An even better word to have used than 'determinism', even if I have to coin it myself, is 'machinality'.

Contrary to the assertions of some of the God-deniers who admit the inescapable problem with 'materialism', yet vainly imagine that there is some 'atheism' out there free of the flaw (*), the flaw -- the logical entailment of the denial that we ourselves even *can* exist -- the flaw goes deeper than mere 'materialism'; the flaw is in God-denial itself.

What is at the heart of 'atheism'? What does it *mean* to say that "God is not"? The heart of 'atheism', the meaning of God-denial, is the assertion that there is no Person -- no Agent -- who is "the ground of all being". That is, whatever it is that may properly be said to be "the gound of all being", that thing is not a person, is not an agent, and, consequently, does not, and cannot, posses the properties that distinguish persons from non-persons and agents from non-agents.

One of the properties that distinguish persons from non-persons and agents from non-agents is freedom; in fact, freedom is the main characteristic of agency. As agent is active, rather than passive; and agent is not merely acted upon, but rather, acts. An agent is free to initiate novel causal-webs, rather than merely being acted upon by pre-existing causal-webs.

When God-deniers deny the reality of God -- deny that God, a Person, an Agent, is *the* fundamental reality -- then they are denying that it is even possible for there to be *any* agents and *any* persons. When God-deniers deny the reality of God, they are asserting that *everything* that is is a machine, a passively deterministic entity, whether or not it has any material component.

To deny the reality of the Divine Person(s) is also -- necessarily -- to deny the reality of human persons; this is why I keep saying that "You are the proof that God is!"

Some God-deniers try to get around that cardinal difficulty of atheism (and disproof of it) by ad hoc positing that perhaps 'Mind' or 'Consciousness' or some similar concept is "fundamental to reality", and as 'atheism', per se doesn't (appear to) deny the possibility, that therefore 'atheism' isn't seen to be necessarily false, and is off the hook for internal incoherence.

But, there is no such thing as 'Mind', nor any of the related concepts to which they ad hoc appeal, unless there is an actually existing mind. When the God-deniers try this particular stunt, what they are really doing is trying to after-the-fact smuggle God into the foundation of their world-view, via the cellar door, while continuing to shout out the front door and all the windows that there is no God.

(*) Not that they *ever* do more than vaguely wave their hands and declare the problem solved to their satisfaction.

John Moore, denying Repper's reasoning (as, being a God-denier, he *must*):
Yes it does. If we line up all the physical facts, with every atom traced, then we can see precisely what the brain believes. We can see how particular sensory inputs will activate particular neural pathways and eventually produce motor output such as a speech act saying "I believe X."

I wish I could understand why Victor says it doesn't. Please provide more explanation.

Looking at a computer circuit, we can see that particular inputs inevitably lead to particular outputs. That's how the electrical circuit works. The brain is also a kind of electrical circuit. It is hugely complex and made of different stuff, but the brain still looks entirely physical. If we knew what every atom was doing, we could predict exactly what the brain would do.
Let us try to pretend that Mr Moore really believes what he is asserting (he doesn't). Moveover, let us try to pretend that what he is asserting really is the truth about reality, and about human beings (it isn't). What would it *mean* were these things true? What would be the logical entailment of these assertions were they true?

Victor Reppert: "If mental states are physical states, then the truth about what someone believes should follow necessarily from the state of the brain/physical world. But it doesn't." (I suspect that Mr Reppet means something very different from what he actually wrote; but I also believe that most readers will *get* what he means.)

John Moore: "If we line up all the physical facts, with every atom traced, then we can see precisely what the brain believes. We can see how particular sensory inputs will activate particular neural pathways and eventually produce motor output such as a speech act saying "I believe X.""

By his *own* assertion, Mr Moore doesn't actually believe what he is asserting -- for, in the world-view he pretends to believe, there is no such thing, nor can be, as 'belief'. God-deniers *use* words such as 'believe' and 'choose', while emptying them of any meaning at all.

Rather, both he and Mr Reppert are simply making noises (or typing letters) because their particular brain-states, at this particular moment in the unfolding history of the material world, compel their mouths (or fingers) to produce those noises (or typed letters). In a moment, Mr Moore's brain-state may well change -- perhaps he will hear the sound represented by the letters "tomato", and that sound will set in motion a series of brain-state changes -- such that his brain-state will then compel him to "contradict" what he has just said.

Who can say? Certainly not Mr Moore, for he -- by his own admission -- knows nothing, nor believes anything, nor can do either.

If Mr Moore's assertion -- for he offers no *argument* -- (and the world-view behind it) were indeed true, then his act of asserting it is utterly meaningless, as is Mr Reppert's argument to the contrary.

Mr Moore is *explicitly* asserting that minds are produced by, are effects of, brains. He is *explicitly* asserting the he, and Reppert, and you and me, are machines. In this case, physical/material machines. He is *explicitly* asserting that we are passively determined at every instant by the prior history of the material/physical world. He is *explicitly* asserting that we do not, and cannot, choose to do this or that (recall: even if he uses that word, he first empties it of any meaning), but rather that whatever "speech act", say, we may perform is merely the mechanical-and-inevitable result of prior material states.

Usually, God-deniers try to not be this explicit about what God-denial actually entails.

Some semi-prominent 'atheists' like to make the devistating "argument" that Christians "belong at the kids' table"; for, after all, we persist in believing "irrational" things.

But, the truth is that until a man acknowledges that God is (which is a different matter from whether Jesus the Christ is God), he not only has no place a "the adults' table, but also not at "the kids' table". Rather, the God-denier belongs on the floor, with the other non-rational animals.

By the way, this is a little game of which God-deniers (and leftists and DarwinDefenders) are inordinately fond-- "I wish I could understand why Victor says it doesn't. Please provide more explanation." -- I call it "Deny and Demand": deny the explanation you have been given without ever engaging it, and demand another.

============ Edit 2015/02/08 ===============

Shackleman: "Granted, I think "emergence" lacks much merit, but I still think you've left room for them to retreat to it."

It only looks that way because people (you, in this case) are used to -- have been conditioned to -- allow them to do that. Somehow, materialists took over the intellectual life of the West two or three *centuries* ago. By this point in time, we're all so used to the implicit materialism into which we're born, that we rarely *examine* the underlying assumptions and entailments ... nor question the moves made by the intentional materialists.

Shackleman: "Have you not left room for the atheist to claim that agency can "emerge" from a universe which exists initially without agency? I think that's what they'd do, and point to "evolution" as the driving force to get them there."

'Emergence' is a Great Word of Magick amongst materialists and atheists. But, in reality, it's even more empty than the word 'instinct' used by butterfly col ... I mean, evolutionist biologists.

Allow me to first illustrate the issue by means of an aphorism (that I just made up) which is also an analogy and a metaphor -- "A tiger may emerge from a jungle ... proveded there is already a tiger in the jungle." (Do note my use of 'may': the tiger has some choice in the matter).

The atheist, whether or not he cops to being a materialist, who tries to escape this logical entailment of the denial of the reality and personhood of God (to wit: denial of the reality of the human person) by appealing to 'emergence' is akin to the man who states that there is no tiger in the jungle, but that, nonetheless, purely by chance occurrance, one might emerge from it at any time.

Now, consider this --

Let us posit the existence of some initial state of affairs, some world -- which may or may not be material (this point is important) (*) -- in which all events/occurrances are the mechanical effects of logically prior (**) events/occurrances. This is simple cause-and-effect: the logically prior event(s)/occurrance(s) is(are) the cause(s) of the logically subsequent event(s)/occurrance(s), the effect(s), necessarily.

Thus -- for this is just another way of stating the above paragraph -- given the condition of this 'world' at state 'S0', then it is mechanically inevitable that its condition at state 'S1' will be as it will be. That is, state 'S1' is fully determined by state 'S0'. This necessarily applies no matter which state one chooses to account as being state 'S0'.

Look again at what Mr Moore said -- what I have said above is *exactly* what he said, just more general-in-application, less linked to materialism, and more precisely stated.

But, notice: this world I have described is merely an abstract description or model of what the 'atheist' claims is true of *this* world, and of us. This world I have described is the theoretical instance of what the 'atheist' says is the truth about the particular instance in which we find ourselves -- thus, if the theoretical instance cannot fully account for the particular instance, then the theory is at best incomplete. The theory may also be flat-out wrong.

So, which is it? Is the 'atheist' theory flat-out wrong, or is it just incomplete? (Hint: it's flat-out wrong)

Look again at the theory -- state 'S1' is fully determined by state 'S0'. Thus, state 'S2' is fully determined by state 'S1', and state 'S3' is fully determined by state 'S2', and so on, world without end.

When the 'atheist' tries to appeal to 'emergence' to "explain" the existence in this theoretical world of entities which are *not* fully determined by the world's prior states, then he is rendering his theory-of-the-world incoherent --which is to say, Self-contradictory, which is to say, necessarily false (and not merely incomplete). For, while a set of self-consistent statements may be nonetheless false, no set of self-contradictory statements can ever possibly be true.

When the 'atheist' tries to appeal to 'emergence' to "explain" the existence in this theoretical world of entities which are *not* fully determined by the world's prior states, then he is saying that somewhere between state 'Sn' and state 'Sn+1' a *POOF* occurs, and out of absolutely nowhere, with absolutley no cause, that which was never in the world, not even as a potential, just appears.

And, of course, if the inattentive listener lets the 'atheist' get away with that bit of Magick, it turns out that the "agency" he has poofed into the world isn't *actually* agency: it's just the word 'agency' applied to mechanical necessity. As I said before, 'atheists' do (and must) empty such words of content and meaning, for the meaning contradicts their world-view.

(*) This 'world' may, or may not, be wholly material, or at least have a material component along with an immaterial component, ot may be wholly immaterial -- it doesn't matter. All that matters is that this world is logically consistent, that no part of it contradict the whole; for, if it is not logically consistet, if it is not coherent, then it cannot be a world.

(**) And perhaps temporally prior, but that's not important; just as this 'world' may be wholly immaterial, so, too, may it be a-temporal. All that is absolutely required of it is that it be logically consistent.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015


If Gentle Reader spends any on-line time around adherents of the Roman heresy (*) (and how can he not? they're everywhere!), he is bound, sooner or later, to encounter gasps and denunciations (**) of some great (supposed) sin called "usury" (as, see this recent thread at Malcolm the Cynic's blog).

My thesis here is that Romanism is all wet about "usury", and, moreover, that historically it was entirely hypocritical about the strictures it placed, in the guise of combating "usury", upon the societies which swore allegiance to the bishop of Rome.

When Roman heretics are trying to argue (to the limited extent that they do ever argue in support of their errors) against the charging of interest, and ultimately against your and my freedom to spend our time as we wish, they will call as witness the several instances in the Old Testament wherein God forbids the Israelites to make loans to their brother Israelites at "excessive interest". This tack is ironic -- and frequently hypocritical (***).

Oddly, the Romanist who points to Deuteronomy in condemnation of "usury" tends to ignore the rest of the verse; for, in almost every case in the OT in which God forbids "excessive interest", the reason for the condemnation is given with the condemnation -- that you do not reduce your brother to slavery.

Apparently, God is very concerned with the *freedom* of his people, not just collectively, but also individually. The RCC, not so much.

But, we capitalists have bankruptcy laws -- it is impossible for the legal charger-of-interest, that is, the one who is able to operate his business in the light of day, to reduce his "customers" to a state of slavery. It is only the illegal charger-of-interest -- who even has a market in which to operate in the first place precisely because of "usury" laws (****) -- who is able to turn his "customers" into slaves. This also relates to the Roman heresy's hypocrisy about "usury" that I mentioned up front.

The other main leg upon with the Romanist tries to argue against "usury" is by an argument from Saint Thomas Aquinas, the gist of which is that the charging of interest amounts to fraud since it involves the interest-collector selling to the interest-payer "something that doesn't exist".

Look, Thomas was undoubtedly a genius, but even he was just a man and was susceptible to a popular error, and official error, just as any other man is. And by the time of Thomas, bodies within the structure of the RCC were turning a tidy profit by exploiting the Romanist hypocrisy concerning "usury".

Consider (as, apparently, Thomas did not): by the Law of Moses, when an Israelite "sold" his land to another Israelite, what was he *really* selling him? He wasn't *actually* selling the land, for come the Year of Jubilee, the custody of the land must return to the original owner or to his heirs. What he was selling was the future harvests, or, as Thomas might put it, "something that doesn't exist".

So, in the end, his arguments (to the extent he even tries to argue) being shown ungrounded and futile, the Romanist is reduced to sputtering something the Mysterium (*****) forbidding "usury", and that's good enough for him (and should be good enough for you, too). In other words, he falls back to attempting an argument from authority against someone who rejects the assertion of authority in the first place (******).

(*) What? It "offends" you that I apply to you -- and with far more justification -- the same language you apply to me? Surely, by now, you ought to understand that I don't give a rip whether anyone is "offended" by what I say.

(**) Frequently, these denunciations of "usury" are in the context of denigrating and denouncing what we call "capitalism" -- which is so say, these adherents of the Roman heresy are denouncing and denying others' God-given freedom to use their own labor, their own lives, as they see fit.

Hell! So great is the hatred of The One True Bureaucracy for "capitalism" -- which is too say, hatred for individual freedom, and the natural result of that freedom -- that one will sometimes see Rah! Rah! Catholics speculating that perhaps they can make common-cause with "the old left" -- you know, Lenin, Stalin, Mao ... Hitler -- in the battle against capitalism.

(***) When an Evangelical points to the Word of God as the basis of his reasoning, the adherents of Rome not infrequently accuse him of "proof-texting". So, depending on whether this particular Romanist does that, his move is either ironic or hypocritical.

(****) The only reason -- ever -- that there is a "black market" for this or that is because someone is using governmental force-and-violence to control or suppress whatever natural market for it exists. Observation of this inescapable fact is not the same as saying that no markets should ever be suppressed.

(*****) just in case it's not obvious, "Mysterium" is intentional

(******) Oddly enough, Romanists generally like to laugh about, and point fingers at, the stereotype of, say, a Southern Baptist, who "argues" against an 'atheist' by quoting Bible verses.

Now, about my charge of historical hypocrisy by the RCC concerning "usury" --

It all goes back to the mortgage; for the origin of that particular financial device was as a means to allow bodies within the Romanist bureaucracy to charge excessive interest to laypersons while pretending to honor the Romanist strictures against "usury".

Over several centuries of invasion and conquest by barbarian pagans, followed by conversion to Christianity of the sons of those pagan conquerors, followed by generous donations of estates to various bodies within the Roman hierarchy by the sons and grandsons of those pagan conquerors -- and coupled with Rome's refusal to pay taxes (however taxes were accounted in any particular realm) to the secular rulers (*) -- eventually "the church" had become a major, if not *the* major, landowner throughout western Europe.

Once things had settled down a bit, the question arose of how to invest the income of these religiously-affiliated properties ... without openly charging interest (**). One solution was the 'mortgage'. And how that worked is that a religious institution would lend money to a noble, who would in exchange turn over all the income from one or more of his properties to that institution until he was able to repay the original loan by some other means. And you can be sure that most landowners (or their heirs) repaid those loans many times over before the 'mortgage' was paid off; all without "the church" technically charging interest on the loans.

(*) This refusal by the Roman hierarchy to pay the same taxes that secular landowners owed the king is an important contributing factor in the *next* wave of barbarian pagans steam-rolling over the existing state.

(**) Which goal, by the way, is what the "Moslem finance" of which one sometimes reads these days is about: collecting handsome rates of interest on loans of money while *pretending* to do no such thing.

It's a perennial human quest: we place unnecessary strictures upon ourselves -- and especially upon others -- in the Name of God, and then expend vast amounts of ingenuity looking for ways around those strictures.

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