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Monday, March 29, 2010

A Conservative Argument Against the Senate Filibuster Rule

Drew Justice: Rollback by reconciliation -- he's convinced me.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Parable of the Satellite Dish

Doctor Zero: The Parable of the Satellite Dish

The Parable of the Satellite Dish

Imagine a large condominium complex is meeting to consider a package deal with a cable TV company. Over eighty percent of the condo owners have their own satellite dishes, and are quite happy with the service. Some of them don’t bother to watch television at all, preferring to rent movies from Blockbuster or Netflix for entertainment. However, the condominium Board of Directors says they’re getting a lot of complaints from the residents who don’t have satellite dishes, demanding the condo association purchase a cable TV package, and fold its cost into the monthly homeowner dues.

The homeowners already pay extremely high dues, and they’re not happy with the quality of service they receive. They also notice that most of the people clamoring for cable television aren’t even homeowners – they’re renters, so they don’t pay the association fees directly. The condo owners already host regular movie nights at the clubhouse, which also has a well-stocked library, so no one is truly starved for entertainment. Still, the owners feel guilty that anyone has to make do without TV service in their home, so they invite a cable company to give them a sales pitch.

There is more, of course.

Now, the thing is, the very fools in the body politic who are salivating over "health" "care" "reform" would never stand for such a situation with respect to mere entertainment. Apparently, far too many people care about having choice about incidentals ... but not so much about liberty. And, such folk are not only not jealous of their own liberty (see the Founding Fathers if you do not understand that), but are quite resentful of *my* liberty.

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Friday, March 26, 2010


I met a traveller from a once free land
Who said: A vast and fathomless ego hath
Scorched the earth. Nearby, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose contempt
And tilted chin, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read.
Few survived that parliamentary Armageddon
The rest were run out of town on a rail, or fled.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Obamandias, king of kings:
Look on my legislation, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the ruins
Of that colossal Self, burnt and bare
The lone and lifeless prairie stretches far away.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reifying Democracy

'El Inglés' on the 'Gates of Vienna' blog: The Death of Democracy [It's a good and thoughtful essay, but do be charitable about the minor factual error of equating the terms 'Congress' and 'House of Representatives']

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Monday, March 22, 2010

From the fury of the Northmen

A thousand years ago, our cultural ancestors prayed, "From the fury of the Northmen, Lord, protect us!"

Today, we ought to pray, "From the tender mercies and caring solicitude of the Good Intentioned, Lord, protect us!"

The above thought was sparked by Matteo's post: The Next Move

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Monday, March 15, 2010


An Anonymous poster on Edward Feser's blog made an amusing comment which I wish to share with Gentle Reader:

First, the context of the remark is that Mr Feser had linked to this ubiquitous video:

And Anonymous' comment was:
This gave me a great idea for a video game/movie/parody. People in a small town in the mountains of Pennsylvania must use their guns and religion to survive the zombie apocalypse. The zombies mutter slogans like "change" and "hope" and shamble about, but rather than eating a person's brains, they go for their pocketbook. Once deprived of their own money and reduced to living on federal aid, these people become zombies as well.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010


Someone who comments on Bob Parks' 'Black & Right' blog as 'The Machine' posted a comment I wish to share with Gentle Reader:

"A man is only as wrong as his convictions will allow."

For context, the comment was made in response to Nicolas' question of why certain Republicans, such as John McCain or Scott Brown, won't hold the line against "liberalism." Or, to put it another way, why are there RINOs?

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Modernism and the Rejection of Reason

John C Wright: Modernism and the Rejection of Reason

A reader comments
[regarding a review of a story Mr Wright had written when he was an atheist, in which the reviewer had back-read Wright's current Chrisitian belief into the story]: "One thing about Stoic thought is that in many respects it is more like Christian thought than it is like modern thought in general. If the reviewer is unfamiliar with Stoicism then the mistake would not be entirely surprising to me."

Aha! Your thought I fear is true and right. Modern thought is so eager to reject Christ, that it ends up rejecting paganism as well, not to mention logic, philosophy, objectivity, faith, hope, charity, temperance, moderation, fortitude and justice. It rejects everything, and leave us with nothing.

Modern thought is composed, with innumerable minor variations, with two great main streams: the revolt against the Church in the name of Reason, and the revolt against Reason in the name of Nothing. The first revolt we can call, with no violence to the term, Modernism. The second we can call Postmodernism. There may be more accurate uses of these two terms, but for the purposes of this essay, these are correct in denotation and connotation. The sum of these two streams taken together produces an odd, indeed a horrifically ironic, modern movement. Christianity so successfully adopted an explanation of the world and heaven, that the postmoderns find they cannot reject the heaven they loath, the place of mystic revelation, without also rejecting the world, the place of reason. They are left with an abyss, where neither revelation nor reason reach, a place of pure Nietzschean willpower, a void where the meaningless Self is utterly free to shape the meaningless Nothing into whatever form the empty Self desires. This void is fitliest called Hell. As if they cannot burn down the Cathedral without burning down the Academy.

Why should this be? In every bumper sticker slogan pasted to every half-empty brain, in every television show, paperback novel, and quip by Carl Sagan, science is proposed as the enemy of the Church and the victor over her. Why in the world would the pagan idolaters of science smash their own idols in the fury of their iconoclasm to trample our Christian icons?

The short answer is that the scientific worldview is as Christian as the Great Mass of Mozart, as Christian as Michaelangelo’s David, as Christian as Christmas. I submit that the one cannot be degraded and dismissed without degrading and dismissing the other.

That's just the start of the article; following this introduction is a well-reasoned argument which may help Gentle Reader understand some importanf things about the strange, anti-rational modern and post-modern world in which we all live.

The only (minor) quibble I have with Wright's essay is that some readers may understand him to be saying that Modernism and Post-Modernism are two different things; whereas, Post-Modernism is the logical culmination of Modernism.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Just wouldn't happen

'The Deuce:' Just wouldn't happen, in which 'The Deuce' analyzes some recent intellectual dishonesty from the Pope-of-Atheism.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Division By Zero

This post is actually a response to someone on a different blog. But, as I've tried to get this point across to others before, I've decided to post it on my blog (now that I have one) so as to have it written up once. The point I indend to get across to Gentle Reader is this --

Division by zero yields the infinite number.

Now, admittedly, due to the word "yields," that phrasing is less than perfect. But I can't think of a better way to succinctly phrase it. If one prefers, one can think of the issue this way: The answer to the question, "What is 'X' divided by zero?" is "the infinite number" (technically, it's the first of the trans-finite numbers, that is, it's the trans-finite number known as "aleph-null").

Following is the recent exchange on Edward Feser's blog which prompts this curent post:
Martin: Any formal system that is interesting enough to formulate its own consistency can prove its own consistency iff it is inconsistent.

[Note: 'iff' is a technical term meaning "if-and-only-if" see here]

Ilíon: Is it not the case that an inconsistent formal axiomatic system can prove *any* statement which can be formulated within the system?

Martin: Yes, if you allow inconsistency then you can prove anything. This is why division by zero is not allowed in arithmetic and there undefined operations. It order to be useful it must be incomplete.

Ilíon: Actually, the reason division by zero is -- by axiom -- not allowed in arithmetic is that division by zero yields "the infinite number." It's not that division by zero makes arithmetic inconsistent (*), it's that arithmetic is not robust enough to deal with "the infinite number."

(*) If division by zero made arithmetic inconsistent, then it is arithmetic itself which is inconsistent.

Martin: Division by zero does not produce an infinite number! It is undefined because it allows for an inconsistent arithmetic and using it you can prove any two numbers equal each other. This point is discussed at length in the book "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" by Charles Seife. This is also why the IEEE floating-point standard has the constant NaN (not a number) and integer division by zero throws an exception on most computers.
Now, as for calculators and computers, the reason they are designed to throw an exception when a division by zero is attempted is two part:
  • the operation cannot be completed arithmetically in finite time;
  • and, even if the operation could be completed arithmetically, the answer cannot be "held" in the computer's or calculator's register -- by the same token, one can encounter the same issue when trying to use these devices to multiply large numbers
Well, that and the fact that arithmetic isn't robust enough to deal with "the infinite number," even could the operation be completed or the result be represented in the physical device.

Now, to the proof that The answer to the question, "What is 'X' divided by zero?" is "the infinite number".

First, Gentle Reader must understand that when I say "Now, to the proof ..." I am not using the term 'proof' in the (limited) mathematical sense.

Recall, Martin and I were talking about the concepts of 'consistency' and 'completeness' as applied to "formal axiomatic systems," such as arithmetic. Arithmetic is 'incomplete' (and thus, all of mathematics is incomplete) -- what this means is that there exist true arithmetic statements which cannot be derived from the axioms and rules of arithmetic; or, to put it another way, there exist true arithmetic statements which cannot be proven via arithmetic.

However, these true-yet-unprovable arithmetic (and higher math) statements can be grasped and understood to be true by a human mind -- after which one may treat them as axioms. So, I hope to prove my claim by showing Gentle Reader *how* to go about grasping the truth of the claim. It's up to Gentle Reader whether he will pick it up.

Arithemetic is counting, that's all it is; each of the four arithmetic operations (addition, subraction, multiplication, division) is counting. The first two are simple counting: counting upward (addition) and counting downward (subtraction). The other two are more complex counting, they are the counting of counting: multiplication is the counting of additions; division is the counting of subtractions.

Now, long division, is simply a shortcut technique for doing the series of counting of subtractions to solve a specific division problem. Once we have been taught long division, we habitually use it to solve a division problem -- after all, the long division technique is quicker and far easier than doing division in its basic form. And, I suspect, we tend to forget what division really is.

Consider the multiplication problem: "5 * 4 = x" and let's forget that we have memorized the multiplication table. How can we solve the problem? By multiple additions, of course, same as when you used to do arithmetic on your fingers. The problem "5 * 4 = x" is equivalent to "5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = x" (or, if one *really* wants to get down to basics, it is equivalent to "(1+1+1+1+1) + (1+1+1+1+1) + (1+1+1+1+1) + (1+1+1+1+1) = x" )

Similarly, a division problem can be solved by reiterative subtractions ... because that's what division really is. The division problem "20 / 5 = x" can be solved by counting how many itertions of subtracting 5 from the result of the previous iteration are required to get the result to a number less than 5. Thusly:
  • 1] 20 - 5 = 15
  • 2] 15 - 5 = 10
  • 3] 10 - 5 = 5
  • 4] 5 - 5 = 0
As it takes 4 iterations to reduce the dividend to a number less than the divisor (and, in this example, there is no remainder), the quotent/answer to the problem "20 / 5 = x" is 4.

So, let us apply what we have learned -- or, realized that we already know, but have overlooked -- and divide some number by zero. It doesn't matter which number we choose, the correct answer is always "the infinite number." Consider the division problem "20 / 0 = x." We can attempt to arithmetically solve it thusly:
  • 1] 20 - 0 = 20
  • 2] 20 - 0 = 20
  • 3] 20 - 0 = 20
  • ...
  • 99] 20 - 0 = 20
  • ...
  • 999] 20 - 0 = 20
  • ...
  • 5359] 20 - 0 = 20
  • ...
  • 999...999] 20 - 0 = 20
  • ...
As Gentle Reader can clearly see:
1) division by zero does not make the arithmetic we are doing inconsistent;
2) as the result of the subtraction at each iteration continues to be equal to the dividend, the problem can never be completed via arithmetic -- there is always at least one more iteration to be performed
3) thus, the answer to the division problem "20 / 0 = x" is "x = infinity"
3a) however, this answer can never be arrived at via arithmetic (for arithmetic is 'incomplete' )
3b) nevertheless, a human being can see/understand that the result of division by zero is always "the infinite number."

As I said at the first, I can show Gentle Reader *how* to grasp the truth that the correct answer to any division by zero is "the infinite number." But it's up to Gentle Reader to let go the incorrect assertion about division by zero that he was taught so many years ago, and go ahead and grasp the actual truth of the matter.

The reasons I have categorized this post under "free will" and "pious myths" and "reason" are as follows:
  • Firstly, I'm trying to keep the categories to a manageable minimum, so for this post I didn't create new categories such as "mathematics" or "logic"
  • As they are so connected, I'm tending already to use the category "reason" to also include "logic"
  • I've categorized this under "pious myths" because it's a myth, a mis-teaching about arithmetic, that I'm intending to help the reader see through
  • I've categorized this under "free will" because the reader must *choose* to see through the mis-teaching we were all taught in our schools

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carbon Sequestration ... and Duct Tape

John J Miller, on NRO's 'the Corner' blog, posts: Liberal Rebranding Watch
"Cap and trade" is more like "bait and switch." Reuters:
Like a savvy Madison Avenue advertising team, senators pushing climate-control legislation have decided to scrap the name "cap and trade" and rebrand their product as "pollution reduction targets."

UPDATE: E-mailbag, showing that certain kinds of Republicans are playing this game, too:
I recently got a letter from Senator Lindsey Graham with this incredibly dense statement. "there is no question we have an obligation to reduce carbon pollution"

his letter is here
With respect (*) to politicians trying to rebrand “cap and trade” by insisting that we need to "reduce carbon pollution" to attain "pollution reduction targets" ... might we suggest to them that an excellent carbon(-dioxide) sequestration kit can be inexpensively put together from a sturdy plastic bag of a certain size and about 24 inches of duct tape? And might we suggest to them to experiment with it?

My question is a continuation of a thought explored here

OK. Just in case I'm not being clear enough ... I'm thinking that these politicians can solve their problem, and ours, if they will just place their heads into a sturdy plastic bag and seal it to their necks with the duct tape.

(*) and what more respect does the typical politician need or deserve?

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Who's yer daddy?

An image of a tee-shirt, asking an important quesion, of which is impossible to compromise.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three Ages of Man

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? --

When we’re children, we don’t want to go to sleep, for fear that we’ll miss some part of life’s experiences.

Then, when we’re youths and young adults, so many us put a great deal of effort, and chemical enhancement, into going through life unconscious, spending their lives sleep-walking.

And then, when we’re middle-aged and old, many of us do our best to chemically forget what bit they do remember of the sleep-walking years.

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All Proofs Come To An End

'Gagdad Bob' (the 'One Cosmos' blog) writes: Light and Vision, Truth and Intellect

In his critique of rationalism, Schuon notes that the rationalist places reason above Truth, the result being that he places himself in the absurd position of only believing things that he can prove (or thinks he can prove) with his reason.

This is to place a means to truth above truth; and not only that, for in order for to use reason, something other than reason must select the premises to be used for the proof. This thing is again intelligence, which transcends reason and is the very substance of the truth it wishes to prove. Sadly, in order to live as a rationalist, one must make intelligence less than what it is, and ultimately make the assimilation of Truth impossible.

Furthermore, to limit intelligence to reason soon enough leads to the denial of reason, for the same intelligence that affirms reason can just as readily deny it -- as do all materialists, relativists, multiculturalists, deconstructionists, and the rest of the leftist rabble.
I commented --

To paraphrase CS Lewis (and any number of other thinkers): "All proofs come to an end" -- [which is to say that] all rational proofs depend upon some prior truth-claim statement or statements to be used as the premise(s) of the proof's argument, which truth-claims may themselves be the conclusion(s) of some logically prior rational argument(s). But, soon or late, this chain of proof-and-logically-prior-proof comes to an end; which is to say, we arrive at the beginning of the whole process of our rational reasoning.

And at this beginning/foundation of our rational reasoning, we find one or more truth-claim statements which cannot be rationally proven -- if these foundational statements are indeed true, then our knowledge that they are true is not a rationally-derived knowledge, but is rather a non-rational knowledge (i.e. intuitive knowledge): we know it is true because we know it is true.

Thus, *all* the rational knowledge we posses, and all that we can ever hope to possess, sits upon a foundation of non-rational, intuitive knowledge.

Thus, reason cannot be superior to truth; and, as G'Bob points out, the attempt to place reason superior to truth must, ultimately, result in the denial of reason itself.

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Feser on Scientism

Edward Feser: Blinded by Scientism

Edward Feser: Recovering Sight after Scientism

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Monday, March 8, 2010

In which I disagree with the Hyacinth Girl

I can't recall when I have ever really/deeply disagreed with the Hyacinth Girl. Till now.

April, the Hyacinth Girl, writes:
How many women and girls have to die before our society realizes that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated? They will reoffend-the numbers support this. It’s too early to say if the monster who killed Chelsea King also killed Amber DuBois as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He gamed the offender registry system, he was unapologetic about his previous offense, and the area from which Amber disappeared was apparently Gardner’s hunting ground.

The year-long hell Amber’s parents have been through is not over, it has just turned into a different kind of hell. It is now the hell of knowing. It may be somewhat of a relief to be able to bring her home, but there is no true peace to be had. I’ll be praying for them. This sort of loss is so brutal, so unfair, so excruciating as to be unimaginable.

Sex offenders must be taken out of society. I’d prefer that they were executed after conviction, but I understand that this will be hard for the bleeding heart crowd to stomach, so I’m thinking long-term medical experimentation as standard sentencing for offenders. We can test various medications and surgery techniques on them, as well as the effects of radiation exposure. There are plenty of uses for sex offenders, as long as we keep them out of society.

Once we as a society see the benefits of vivisecting child molesters, it will be much easier to put them away for life after the first offense. We could even use them as organ donors, a la Ninni Holmqvist’s The Unit.

I’m the farthest from kidding I’ve ever been. These bastards cannot be trusted. Take ‘em out before they destroy any more lives.
This is the response I posted on April's blog:
Rapists and child molesters have placed themselves outside society.

But they are still bearers of the image of God ... to use them as you suggest demeans us!

And, even if it didn't, how do we distinguish the *real* rapists from those some wicked female has falsely accused because she knows with a high degree of probability she can get away with it?

And, even if it didn't, how do we distinguish the *real* child molesters from the innocent men (and women) whom wicked politicians use as stepping-stones to advance their careers?

I suspect you're too young to recall the daycare molestation hysteria of the 1980s, in which *obviously* innocent men (and women) were sent to prison, and their lives ruined, in prosecutions for which a civilized society would have sent the prosecutors [themselves] to prison for even attempting to prosecute the[ accused].
I frequently disagree with Lawrence Auster (especially in his race-obsession), but in this I agree with him. While it is true that specific wicked persons (usually of male sex) murder the girls and young women who regularly turn up raped and murdered, on a deeper level, it is "liberalism" which murders them. And, it is "feminism." For it is "liberalism" and "feminism" which trains them and their parents to be blind to, and to deny, reality.

And, it is "liberalism" which gives us the therapeutic approach to "criminal justice," in place of the proper just approach to "crime and punishment," toward the enormity of which therapeutic approach April is initially expressing a proper and righteous outrage.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Taking Memes Seriously

Mark Signorelli (New English Review): Taking Memes Seriously; an excerpt:

... what word can we find to adequately characterize our illustrious philosopher after he confesses, in a footnote, to citing a quote from Mozart which he knows to be counterfeit, simply because he finds it so congenial to his theory: "I persist in quoting it here, in spite of Kivy's correction, because it not only expresses but exemplifies the thesis that memes, once they exist, are independent of authors and critics alike."[12] What should we say about a man who relies on blatant equivocation and word-play to advance his argument, such as when he writes that "genes are invisible...memes are also invisible..."[13] though of course, genes are invisible only in the sense that they cannot be perceived without the use of advanced instruments, whereas memes are invisible in the sense that they cannot be perceived at all. Or later, when he writes that "as with genes, immortality is more a matter of replication than of the longevity of individual vehicles,"[14] which of course is not what the word "immortality" means at all; it is exactly like asserting that freedom is a matter of having a taste for dark chocolate. And what words of obloquy are sufficient to evaluate the following passage:
Dawkins points out that in our explanations we tend to overlook the fundamental fact that 'a cultural trait may have evolved in the way it has simply because it is advantageous to itself.' This is a new way of thinking about ideas, but is it a good way? When we have answered this question, we will know whether or not the meme meme is one we should exploit and replicate. [15]
Apparently one of the first things dissolved by the "universal acid" of Dennett's Darwinian fanaticism is the law of non-contradiction, since he can so casually, in the space of a mere three sentences, insinuate that memes are at once things which unconsciously manipulate men, and things which are consciously manipulated by men. And after all, what in the world does it mean to say that a "cultural trait" seeks its own advantage? Cultural traits cannot have an advantage, any more than artistic movements can have preferences. Such passages would be a scandal to all standards of academic integrity, were it the case that a single university upholding serious academic standards remained in the western world.

Of course, what makes the absurdity of the whole meme scam so especially delicious is that these two loudmouths, Dawkins and Dennett, have achieved a considerable notoriety over the last several years by parading about their atheism, and maintaining that there is no evidence for a belief in God. In the sense which they attribute to evidence - that is to say, purely empirical evidence - then it is quite obvious that there really is no evidence for this belief, since God is, by the common consent of all sensible persons, an unphysical entity. But then again, no sensible person ascribes a purely empirical significance to the word evidence, or believes that purely empirical evidence is the only type which is rationally compelling. Yet Dawkins and Dennett have propounded the existence of a physical entity, without providing the least shred of empirical evidence, and this is ten-thousand times more superstitious than anything which they ignorantly mock in the doctrines of their religious adversaries. It is a belief, to use the appropriate term of David Stove, that is strictly "demonological," and all arguments based on this belief are, in the words of the great theologian David Bentley Hart, arguments "based on an assonance." Even Michael Ruse, who has made a living for himself apologizing for all of the wilder speculations of Darwinian theorists, has drawn the line at memes, declaring that "one is really just taking regular language and putting it in fancy terms. No new insights. No new predictions."[16] The rest of us then need waste no more time with these charlatans and their fraudulent science; there are no such things as memes, and anybody who believes in their existence is a blithering fool.

So the injunction implied in the title of this essay, to take memes seriously, most certainly does not mean that we ought to take their existence to be a serious proposition. Rather, we ought to seriously consider why Dawkins and Dennett had to resort to such an overtly stupid trick in the first place. Both men are as committed as any men have ever been to advancing the imperialist ambitions of Darwinism over the whole sphere of intellectual activity, including all those disciplines which treat man in his various capacities and practices. Unwilling to explicitly commit to Steven Pinker's ridiculous dictum that "in principle you could explain all behavior without reference to subjective states,"[17] they tacitly concede, what all unbiased men take for granted, that men are motivated by beliefs through an enormous range of their behavior, and that therefore no explanation of human behavior is complete which omits the efficacy of belief from its account. In any Darwinian schema, this means minimally that beliefs must be capable of transmission from generation to generation, with the most "fit" beliefs performing that transmission at a higher and higher frequency among the "population" of beliefs. According to the prevalent "evolutionary synthesis," the only available vehicle of transmission for traits are genes; accordingly, beliefs, if their proliferation is to be explicable in Darwinian terms, must be transmitted by genes. But of course, it is arrant nonsense to suggest that beliefs can be carried and transmitted by segments of protein, and this fact must have seemed evident even to minds as fortified against common sense as those of Dawkins and Dennett. Thus, the quixotic expedition into the fairy-land of memes and memetics. Their resort to this fabulism is of enormous consequence, however, since it constitutes an unspoken, unwilling, but altogether unmistakable admission that Darwinian theory, in its exclusively genetic form, can never account for the human propensity to act according to belief, and therefore can never account in any satisfactory manner for human behavior in general.

And this is testimony which needs to be reiterated over and over again, "line upon line, and precept upon precept," because it just so happens that in this matter the great majority of Darwinians do not follow Dawkins and Dennett, and do not show very much enthusiasm for the hocus-pocus of memes. Rather, the vast majority of Darwinians speak and write as though beliefs were transmittable via genes. That is to say, the vast majority of Darwinians subscribe to the conviction that beliefs can be transmitted by segments of protein, which, of course, was the position that was obviously too absurd even for Dawkins and Dennett to embrace! As incredible as it sounds, the transmission of beliefs by memes is actually the less absurd of the two notions, and yet most confessing evolutionists do in fact reject it in favor of gene transmission. So as preposterous and discreditable as were those pages on memes penned by the two Darwinian chieftains, they are sense and lucidity themselves in comparison to the reams of paper devoted to maintaining the pretense that beliefs can be transmitted by segments of protein, which the great mass of Darwinians do in fact churn out year after year.

To be sure, few Darwinians will state such a conviction outright (then again, few Darwinians state any of their convictions outright, or without contradiction and equivocation). What they will claim is heritable via genetic sequences are not beliefs, but varying traits of the structures of the brain and nervous system, which manifest themselves in varying behavioral tendencies. Of course, an explanation of behavior in terms of hormones and synapses is not an explanation of belief-motivated behavior, but of the appearance of belief-motivated behavior; such explanations betray an implicit acquiescence to the Pinker principle, "that in principle you can explain all behavior without reference to subjective states." Here is but one more example of the ambiguity between reality and resemblance which plagues all aspects of Darwinism. The case remains, however, that one may flip almost at random through the pages of any significant sociobiological theorist and discover passage after passage in which the genetic heritability of beliefs is assumed and implied, without any attempt whatsoever to "translate" such assumptions into the language of physiology. ...
... [examples] ...
Darwin’s present day acolytes are in the possession of an enormous mass of genetic theory, which they put to use in constructing arguments of the same variety as those we have seen in Darwin. But of course, the specification of the mechanism of inheritance does not make any less ridiculous the notion that beliefs can be transmitted by bio-chemical means. ...

This excerpt is quite lengthy (and, as usual, I recommend the whole article to Gentle Reader), but it seemed to me necessary to quote so much so to convey the argument Mr Signorelli is making.

It must be pointed out that some folk who explictly declare their anti-Darwinianism have, in fact, actually fallen for the Darwinistic false claims and false reasoning that Mr Signorelli is discussing (for example: Lawrence Auster, with his obsession about race, when it is really culture on which he should be focusing).

By the way, Tom Simon has recently uploaded an excellent essay to his Essays site, which deals with the true issues here, which are the reality of human moral freedom and not only the utter inability of atheism to account for it, but the fact that the reality of human moral freedom is contrary to atheism: The Terminal Orc - Middle-earth and the theology of evil.

Continue reading ...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Silence ...

"Silence is golden;" so teaches us the wisdom of the ages.

At the same time, the wisdom of the 20th century (and now, the 21st) teaches us: "Sometimes, silence is just yellow."

I don't recall where I read that, but Gentle Reader can be sure that it is about the obstinate refusal of the would-be elites and rulers of all the Western nations, including our own, to see reality as it really is -- and their insistence upon doing their utmost to prevent those who will and do see from even so much as describing what they see.

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Not just for women anymore

The Hyacinth Girl: Hysterics: not just for women anymore:
What an hysterical ninny. Ah, the age of the gelded man, for whom independent thought is as scary as a non-hybrid car. Though Mark Steyn is a bit taller than you’d expect, he’s hardly scary. I suppose that it’s the aforementioned independent thought that freaks this Tweeter out.

I wanted especially to draw Gentle Reader's attention to April's excellent summary of the present age -- "Ah, the age of the gelded man, for whom independent thought is as scary as a non-hybrid car."

One of the things I long ago noticed about “liberals” (and, naturally enough, mock) is that they imagine to shriek that this or that is “frightening” or “chilling” is to make a decisive and utterly compelling argument.

Five-year old girls are more manly, and more rational, than the typical “liberal.” Seven-year olds, tops.

edit (where are my manners?); this is what April is talking about:
Mark Steyn is a truly scary man. Pseudo-intellectual thug who sounds good while saying bad things.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm not the only one

I'm not the only one, not that I'm surprised. After all, it's not as though I am sui generis.

Gentle Reader no doubt is wondering what it is about which I am not the only one. It is the understanding, purely via logical reasoning, that atheism is self-refuting, and therefore false, and seen to be false.

In a recent thread at Uncommon Descent, responding to something Denyse O'Leary had written, 'Toronto' said:
[O'Leary] But 78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists (no God and no free will),…
[Toronto] I am an atheist and believe I have free will.

If I decided to convert to Christianity, I believe that it would have been my free will to have made that decision.

If you agree that I believe I have the free will to make that decision, why, with my being an atheist, do you think that I don’t believe I have the free will to make any others.
Now, perhaps 'Toronto' simply hasn't been instructed well enough to already know that atheism implies no free-will; this is, if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then there can exist no such thing as free-will amongst human beings (or any other beings). So, knowing about him only what is written here, charity (and reason) demands he be given the benefit of the doubt: his post may simply reflect deficient knowledge/understanding of the particular issue.

Still, even here, in what he has written, one can see that he's not thinking clearly about the matter, and seems to have not tried to comprehend what Mrs O'Leary said before disputing it.

It's not that Mrs O'Leary said (or believes) that atheists/naturalists are not free wills; it's not that she said (or believes) that atheists/naturalists can freely choose to become Christians, but have no other freedom of the will.

It's that the proposition "There is no God" (or, alternately, "'Nature' is all that exists") logically entails the proposition "There are no free-wills."

Now, certainly, any atheist may deny the proposition "There are no free-wills" -- for, after all, he *is* a free-will -- it's just that given his assertion of the proposition "There is no God," his denial of the entailment is illogical and irrational. Of course, to assert the proposition "There are no free-wills" is both absurd and irrational.

In any event, in response to 'Toronto,' 'tgpeeler' replied:
Toronto @ 3
If you agree that I believe I have the free will to make that decision, why, with my being an atheist, do you think that I don’t believe I have the free will to make any others.

I would assume that an atheist would not (actually, could not, logically) believe that anyone has free will. Here’s why.

I don’t know how you came to your atheism but it is actually a conclusion rather than a premise. If the premise is naturalism/materialism then it’s a direct step to the conclusion that God does not exist. In other words, if all that exists is “natural” or “material” and God is supernatural and immaterial, well then it’s obvious that He does not exist.

But it doesn’t end here because people with intellectual curiosity like yourself still want to know the why’s and wherefore’s of the universe. So what’s a naturalist to do? There is no God to serve as the ultimate ground of Truth, Reason, Reality, etc.. so ‘things’ must be accounted for in some other way. Since one of the key intellectual commitments of naturalism is that nature is “causally closed,” the only thing that “you” (as a naturalist) have to explain ‘things’ are the laws of physics. The causal closure of nature claims that ALL causes in nature can be reduced to physical causes. This excludes mind as having any causal power in nature. It makes sense (if the premise is true) that mind would have no causal power because mind (apart from brain) doesn’t even exist in the naturalist ontology. So how could it have causal power?

So you are left, it seems to me, with the laws of physics as the sole explanatory tool in your kit. The problem now becomes how to reduce, or explain, things such as consciousness, morality, language, information, reason, design, purpose, and free will, for example, in terms of the Standard Model, the equations of quantum physics and general relativity, thermodynamics, super string theory (?) and so on…

Since the laws of physics are not called the contingencies of physics and everything ultimately reduces to them, there goes your free will. Roger Penrose’s microtubules not withstanding. (One can’t get free will from quantum physics either.) So that’s why I would a priori assume an atheist would reject free will. If you hold to free will as an atheist then you have insurmountable philosophical contradictions to resolve.

But I think naturalism has even larger problems. Aside from the obvious wrongness of it, there are many good arguments against it. As you might expect, I am going to bore you to death with one of them right now and it is, I believe, irrefutable. Earlier I listed a few things that are obviously not explainable by the laws of physics. For example, what does physics have to say about why it is wrong to be rude to a waiter? The answer is nothing. But still there seems to be something to the fact that it is wrong to be rude to a waiter. We all know that. And even if you don’t as a patron, you would as a waiter. The typical naturalist move at this point, rather than graciously admit defeat and come on over to the side of Truth, in my limited experience and reading, is to just deny the existence of moral absolutes (for example, they also deny design, mind, purpose, etc…). This can be done without contradiction so we are now in the messy position of weighing the evidence and even with a preponderance of it, the argument is never settled.

From my many years as an infantry officer in the USMC I learned that in fighting, one should always go for the throat. That is, if you want to win with as little risk to yourself as possible, and I do, coward that I am. In other words, we want decisive victory. We want unconditional surrender. We want the enemy to beg for mercy. It is in this vein that I argue. :-)

It occurred to me one day that the answer to several vexing questions could be settled once and for all very simply. The first is the question of naturalism/materialism, and the second is the question of the detection of design or intelligence.

Here’s how I see it. If information is a real entity, a real thing, that is it has ontological “status,” then several things will necessarily follow. Since all information is encoded in a language of one sort or another and since all languages are comprised of symbols and rules, it occurred to me that if the naturalists were going to be intellectually honest, in order to explain information they had to explain language.

But here’s the rub. Physics has nothing to say about symbols and rules. Why does “cat” mean a certain kind of mammal and “act” mean something else? Does physics inform this in any way, shape, or form? No. It doesn’t. And why would it? Symbols and rules are not material or ‘natural’ so physics, by definition, would have nothing to say about them. But the denial of the ontological status of information/language is not an option here because in order to deny them you have to use them. There is, in this instance, a glaring and obvious self-contradiction in the naturalist position. As it turns out, not only is naturalism false, it is not even possible for it to be true. The denial of the abstract/immaterial existence of language/information relies on the existence of language/information. How cool is that? This game is over. I don’t have to fight any more about moral laws, design, purpose, etc… in order to defeat the naturalist world view. It defeats itself. So we can all head over the O Club for beer and pretzels without having to do any really hard work. My kind of gig. Who’s buying?

The implications for any naturalistic story of evolution, the current incarnation being the neo-darwinian kind, are not good. If there is one thing that is obvious to everyone involved in the discussion it is that in biology, there is language and there is information in the dictionary senses of the words. In fact, information is THE distinguishing feature of life. It is what separates life from non-life. All living things have DNA/RNA. But if no naturalist explanation of information is possible, and it is not, then neo-darwinian evolution is not only false, it is impossible for it to be true. This fraud has been masquerading as science for 150 years and we will see it go down in history, if we live that long, as one of the greatest intellectual scandals of all time. How people could believe, argue for, and insist upon something that is not only false but impossible to be true will give historians and philosophers of science grist for their mills for years to come. I realize that I have made a radical claim but there you have it. That’s how I see it. I am open to counter-arguments.
When Mr Peeler says, "I would assume that an atheist would not (actually, could not, logically) believe that anyone has free will," he happens to be using the wrong word ("assume") for what he means to say, but it's clear from the parenthetical that he does understand the point he's getting at; he's just using the wrong word: he means "conclude" or "deduce" or "reason."

Mr Peeler is approaching the issue slightly differently that I do. He's starting with 'naturalism' (which assumes the existence of "the universe"), which logically entails atheism and implies materialism; whereas I start with atheism, which when given the assumption that "the universe" exists, logically implies materialism and naturalism.

In either case, logic takes us to the same absurd conclusions. Since the logic is valid, and the conclusion is absurd, that means that one or more of the premises is unsound. Which is to say, the absurdity of the conclusion lies in the premises themselves.

Also, concerning Mr Peeler's comment about going for the throat, I quite agree. But, I suspect Gentle Reader has already figured that out.

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