Battleground God: THE GAME

So while looking for resources for my latest project, SeekTheEvidence.org, I came across this little gem located in the depths of the Austhink Library of the “Miscellaneous and Fun section”: http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/god.php

Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?

In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet.

I found this to be a novel idea; and insightful! —

Congratulations!

You have been awarded the TPM medal of honour! This is our highest award for outstanding service on the intellectual battleground.

The fact that you progressed through this activity neither being hit nor biting a bullet suggests that your beliefs about God are internally consistent and very well thought out.

A direct hit would have occurred had you answered in a way that implied a logical contradiction. You would have bitten bullets had you responded in ways that required that you held views that most people would have found strange, incredible or unpalatable. However, you avoided both these fates – and in doing so qualify for our highest award. A fine achievement!

See how you go, and let me know how to go too!

The Kalam Cosmological Argument: A kolossal kalamity

The other day I engaged with a theistic philosopher who proposed the KCA as a good argument for the belief in a god or gods; in a creator, essentially.

Variations of Cosmological Arguments exists in a number of ways.
Generally, the presentation of argument is logically valid – (1) and (2), therefore (3); it’s persuasive power however, rests on the soundness of its premises.

Below is a caller who called in to the Atheist Experience, and tried to present the KCA:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYeoTFbLo_Y

The silence of cognitive dissonance is deafening.

QualiaSoup: The Lack of Belief in Gods

A while back I came across QualiaSoup, a UK artist and secular humanist discussing critical thinking, science, philosophy & the natural world. Their YouTube channel has a number of well-produced videos and after having a friend recently share with me a video from QualiaSoup, I thought I would share one each week as a way to promote the videos.

This weeks’ video from QualiaSoup is about the Lack of Belief in Gods, explaining the concept, refuting common objections and giving a number of reasons that atheists are sometimes ‘fervent’.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

I strongly recommend looking at the rest of the videos on the channel, or you watch the select few that I Post here. Check them out at QUALIASOUP.

Debate: Science & Atheism

From Openculture, Richard Dawkins Debates John Lennox on The God Delusion

 

No one debates quite as well as an Oxford professor. And so today we feature two Oxford profs – atheist biologist Richard Dawkins and Christian mathematician John Lennox – debating God and science in … of all places … Birmingham, Alabama. The debate turns largely on a question raised in Dawkins’ 2006 bestseller, The God Delusion: To what extent can religious belief and serious scientific discovery go hand-in-hand? The debate is lively, and the thought serious. A good way to spend 90+ minutes. And Brazilian readers, you’re in luck. You get subtitles. If you would like to purchase a copy of the debate, you can buy it through the Fixed Point Foundation, the Christian organization that organized the event. You can also watch a version of the debate on the Fixed Point web site here.

 

[DEBATE] Deus, Um Delírio: O Debate – Richard Dawkins & John Lennox from Deus em Debate on Vimeo.

My 348 cannabis plants are Legal; It’s not against God’s Law!

Derp Cat.

A New Zealand man is defending charges of cultivating 348 cannabis plants on the grounds that he does not recognise the law and the only law is God’s law.

Shane Taoho, 44, told a jury he’s a sovereign being and that the Bible’s book of Genesis says a person can grow seeds and plants.

Court hears: Cult Leader killed 4-year-old because he thought he was gay

The leader of a religious cult could face the death penalty after being accused of killing a four-year-old boy because he thought the boy was gay.

Moved to act by Faith

Prosecutors are pushing for Lucas Moses, 27, to face the sentence after he was charged for two counts of first-degree murder against four-year-old Jadon Higganbothan and 28 year-old Antoinetta McKoy, who was looking to abandon the Durham-based sect in North Carolina.
The court was told on Friday how Moses, head of the polygamist Black Hebrew Israelites, shot Higganbothan for gay ‘behaviour’ after he found him hitting another boy on the bottom.

Moses also forced Vania Sisk, the mother of the four-year-old to shoot McKoy, while another two women who lived with Moses, Lavanda Harris and Larhonda Smith, have also been charged for their parts in the killings.

As reported by ABC, Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline said: “In the religious belief of that organisation, homosexuality was frowned on.”

She added: “Sometime in October 2010, Smith told Moses that Jadon had hit another child’s bottom, and Moses became angry and started walking around the house with a gun that belonged to Jadon’s mother, Vania Rae Sisk.”

Cline told the court how Higganbothan was taken to the garage and shot while the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew was played on speakers to mask any noise.

McKoy was also beaten and shot after trying to escape Moses’ home. Moses believed she might tell people about the previous murder, according to Cline. As reported by ABC, the attorney said: “Once she got in the front door, the beating started. Moses began to beat her and other ladies in the house began to beat her and this beating went on for most of the day.”

From: Cult leader accused of killing 4-year-old because he thought he was gay

Apologist Box-stuffing

After reading a tweet containing Hamza Andreas Tzorzis‘s name and what he was up to at the International Atheist Convention in Dublin, I thought check out his website.

According to his website, Hamza Andreas Tzorzis is an international public speaker on Islam; He is a writer with articles, essays and commentaries on political philosophy, the philosophy of religion and society; an intellectual activist actively engaging on issues pertaining to religion, social cohesion and politics; is also a researcher with a recent publication on non-Muslim perceptions on Islam and Muslims; and if you want – you can read more here.

However, to me he is a religious apologist – and an amateur one at that.

What’s a religious apologist? A religious apologist defends faith through intellectual avenues, generally trying to demonstrate that science is compatible with religion (by demonstration a personal lack of knowledge about science). The attempt is usually a genuine advancement towards logic and reason rather than emotional appeals; however – common threads between religious apologists include a misunderstanding of various scientific concepts (or the abhorrent contortion of scientific knowledge to “fit in” to a doctrine) and an overall ignorance of (or ignoring of ) fallacies in logic.

For instance, I spoke to a Sikh who was adamant (despite the evidence) that the Heliocentric model was first advocated by the Sikh Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He derived his belief from a quote by the Guru which was written in the 15th century; and used Galileo Galilei as his benchmark; particularly the point that at the time it was not accepted in Europe for Heliocentricism to be true. He was also of the (incorrect) belief that Galileo was the first person to devise a heliocentric solar system.

The Reality

In February 1616, the Catholic Church condemned heliocentrism as “false and contrary to Scripture”.  Subsequently in 1632 Galileo was tried by the Roman Inquisition for publishing his work “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” which was in support of Nicolaus Copernicus‘ heliocentric hypothesis.  Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” and forced to recant; despite this he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

Nicolaus Copernicus’ work on a heliocentric system (titled: “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)) began around 1510, quite some time before Galileo. Even then, the hypothesis that the Earth rotated the Sun was not new. The earlist record of this was from least 3rd century BCE, which was presented by Aristarchus.

What I really object about Hamza Andreas Tzorzis was the poor use of science in a phamphlet that was recently released called: Do We Have Good Reasons To Believe

This pamphlet makes a number of remarkable assertions, despite it’s reference to Occam’s Razor; often from cherry-picked scripture and a far-reaching use of “science” to support it. The pamphlets would only appeal to those without a grounding in science, or those who are already religious but struggle to reconcile the differences between reality and the wishful-thinking that comes with religion.

Unless of course that is the idea – no rational discourse was intended.

He is unfortunately doing a disservice to the people he hands these pamphlets to;  as what he’s talking about is not science – but pseudo-science. For instance, lets’ take Isostasy, which was one of the examples used in the pamphlet.

The Pamphlet mentions the Qur’an stating:

“Have We not made the earth as a bed and the mountains its pegs?”

The phamplet then uses a section from Earth, by Dr. Frank Press, where it states that mountains are like stakes, and are buried deep under the surface of Earth. Firstly, the analogy-comparison is erroneous, as mountains are not like pegs, nor can they be called “mountain roots”. They have misinterpreted the text, or at the very least tried to make the statement support the Qur’an.

You can read more about Isostasy at Wikipedia – it’s clear he didn’t even do that.

Essentially, Isostasy is a gravitational equilibrium; it is the working model that explains the buoyancy of tectonic plates on the mantle.

Since the initial tweet, Rebecca Watson at SkepChick filled us in more on what had happened; and it amused me because this description of Isostasy was an answer Hamza Andreas Tzorzis could have given in the video where he, and another confront PZ Myers outside the Global Atheist Convention in Dublin. Instead, he admitted he had no idea what he was talking about.

There are two videos. Of the same thing, but in the spirit of transparency, I am showing it from as many angles as possible. The below video was what was captured by YouTuber AronRa, who also chimes in later in the discussion.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4trHH6AuZ0

During the video the two try to take PZ Myers to task about the Qur’an and embryology, and yes – he and his colleague demonstrate their lack of knowledge of cell biology too. It’s clear that they are amateur religious apologists who have sought out nothing else but to cherry-pick literature in an effort to twist science around to fit in to what the Qur’an states -rejecting, or possibly even not even looking for conflicting information.

The fallacies are abound, so try to have patience.

AND

The below video is the complete interview as produced by iERA
and is available at Hamza Andreas Tzorzis‘s website.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T5Pm7qLH50