USA: Eroding the separation of church and state is an ongoing bipartisan effort

First up, let’s agree that Christian Nationalism is a problem. Separation of church and state is a worthwhile principle. Also, laws instituted to guard this principle, such as that churches are considered tax-free non-profit organisations, as long as they do not participate in election campaigning, are good.
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Body, Soul, and Spirit

Some people consider the human to consist of a body with all other aspects to be derivative from this fundamental reality. Some people are more inclined to view the human as having a body and soul, with the soul being in some way primal.

I believe the human can be regarded as being composed of body, soul and spirit. But there are other ways of analysis other than seeing the threefold division.

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Extermination

Hi there

I’m Lizzie. I have no idea who is still posting here, but I’m the owner of the site. Alan Fox drew my attention to a recent post by Erik about LGBTQ+ people. I read it with growing horror, culminating when I arrived at these words:

 [LGBTQ+ people] exist sure enough and extermination is not the way to deal with them, but

“but”.

I set up this site as a venue in which people who wanted to discuss issues such as evolution, theism, and morality in good faith with people with who vehemently disagreed with them, could do so with minimal censorship.  I have been absent from the site for many years now, though I continue to pay the hosting fees.

I could simply delete Erik’s post. He would consider it “cancel culture”.  Yes, indeed I do wish to “cancel” those views from this blog. Committed as I am to uncensored discussion between people with radically opposing views (as exemplified in the original posting rules for the site) I will not provide a platform for articles that are Nazi-adjacent. I am deeply worried by the rise of right-wing fascism in the world, and I will not facilitate the propagation of such views.

No poster capable of considering, albeit rejecting, “extermination” as a “way to deal with” people like my own beloved daughter is welcome to post those views here. Every day I worry for her safety from people who want to exterminate her.

Alternatively, I could simply pull the plug on this site.

I will sleep on this. I would also welcome comments from any posters still active here. If there are hardly any left, I will probably do that last thing.

The Foundations Are Being Destroyed?

I was wondering what had happened to Uncommon Descent’s owner, lawyer Barry Arrington. Having bought the blog from “Intelligent Design” theorist* William Dembski, he established a reputation as a bit of a martinet, quick to delete comments and ban commenters he didn’t like. But recently, things have been much quieter and moderation has been light to non-existent, with no contributions from Arrington.

But he must have been saving himself up for a relaunch, as now a long (in comparison to Arrington’s other opening posts) post by him, What Must We Do When The Foundations Are Being Destroyed?, has appeared. I wonder initially who Barry means by “we” but the article soon makes it clear the call to arms is for the religious authoritarian right. It’s an annoying read as there is an inaccurate, misleading, selective point in almost every sentence so that, for me, it almost achieves the status of being so polarized in its essence as to be not worth responding to. But then that fulfils Barry’s prophesy and puts me on his level, on the other side of the barricade he is keen to erect.

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Suffering

Many atheists argue that if God existed, He would not allow all the suffering that goes on in the world. And many theists believe in an omnipotent God without thinking more deeply about what this entails.

 

In Steiner’s lecture “The Origin of Suffering” he refers to Aeschylus who is quoted as saying, ““wisdom comes through suffering”. (A reading of the lecture can be heard here.)

And from a commentary on Aeschylus by Duane W. Krohnke, a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church:

 

The chorus in Agamemnon, a famous play by the Greek playwright Aeschylus (circa 525/524 BC—circa 456-455 BC) makes the following statement (in English translation):
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

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Why Virus Denial Is Wrong

Does this even need saying? That I should even feel moved to write this post, in this day and age, seems extraordinary. But an increasing number of people are latching onto the hoary old idea that there is no such thing as a virus – that viroloigists have been studying an artefact all this time; a product of the organism rather than an entity hijackiing host biology in order to spread between hosts.

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Been There, Done That; Creating the Anthropocentric Relatable God

The essay that follows is from a collection of writings I’ve been working on since the summer of 2021. The collection is entitled Schrodinger’s God and nearly all the essays deal with paradoxes, contradictions, inconsistencies, and just plain old absurdities with regard to concepts of God or gods that I have come across. Like the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment that was conceived to illustrate what Erwin Schrodinger felt was an untenable implication of the superposition principle, Schrodinger’s God is my attempt to illustrate untenable implications of certain claims, beliefs, tenets, and principles concerning god concepts, particularly omni-god concepts.

There is a scene in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron in which Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor is chasing after Ultron after the fight on the ship that Ulysses Klaue was using to store his weapons and vibranium stock. Finally cornering Ultron against one of the ships, Ultron says, “Ah, the vibranium is getting away.” Stark responds, “And you’re not going anywhere!” To which Ultron quips, “Of course not. I’m already there. You’ll catch on.” Continue reading

Vision and the Eye

Darwin said, “the eye to this day gives me a cold shudder”. If that was true back then, if he had today’s knowledge of the eye he would be shaken down to his genes. A cursory glance at the scientific findings or our visual system reveals an organized complexity at all levels of resolution from millimeter to nanometer.

Take a close look at an eye. Between the object that I fix my gaze on and its sharp image cast onto one of my retinas there stands the cornea, aqueous humour, the iris and pupil, the lens, the vitreous humour

Precorneal tear film provides nutrients, lubrication for the cornea. It is antibacterial and removes debris while allowing light to pass through, refracted but virtually unrestricted. It isn’t a homologous film but consists of three layers, an outer lipid layer, an aqueous layer which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, and an inner layer of mucus.
Passing through this it then encounters the cornea and is again refracted, and then to the iris which control amount of light, onward through the lens which is adjusted by the ciliary muscles to focus the image at the retina.

From first entering the eye the light passes thorough a series of remarkable structures.

Corneal structure and transparency, by Keith M. Meek and Carlo Knupp, 2015:

The basic principles of corneal structure and transparency have been known for some time, but in recent years X-ray scattering and other methods have revealed that the details of this structure are far more complex than previously thought and that the intricacy of the arrangement of the collagenous lamellae provides the shape and the mechanical properties of the tissue.

If the remarkable structure of the cornea isn’t awe inspiring enough, then surely a glance at the retina will fill anyone with eye-popping astonishment. Not forgetting that retinas are living entities with life cycles that allow the whole to function as the parts are constantly being renewed.

I was inspired by comments in my previous thread to take a closer look at the visual system we share. Just a short time searching for info on this system has provided me with so much detail to add to my basic knowledge of the mechanisms involved. I think we could discuss this in more depth, share knowledge, and have an argument or two along the way. Sounds like fun to me and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two.

 

 

The Rediscovery of Meaning

The Rediscovery of Meaning is a volume of a collection of essays by Owen Barfield listed here.

Here is a video on Owen Barfield and the meaning crisis. It includes many video clips discussing the history of knowledge from our modern Western perspective. Barfield notes the feeling of meaninglessness that was coming to prominence in the twentieth century and continues on. He asks:

How is it that the more man becomes able to manipulate the world to his advantage the less he can perceive any meaning in it?

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The Effectiveness of Ineffective Vaccines

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Has UD Reached its Best Before Date?

Uncommon Descent still has some interesting topics, but the authors of the OPs simply do not tolerate any comments that do not validate their opinions.

Worse than this, they label any commenter who disagrees with any of their opinions as a Darwinist/ atheist/ subjectivist/ materialist/ communist/ progressive. The two most flagrant abusers are Barry Arrington, the moderator, and Gordon Mullings, who posts as KairosFocus.

Kairosfocus’ most recent rants have been about objective moral truths and his charity of the day, self-evident first duties. It has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions that his objective moral truths are nothing more than human behaviours that most people have subjectively determined to be in their best interest if they want to continue to thrive in a social setting.

Rather than address the arguments raised against his views, he repeatedly erects strawman versions of his opponents’ views, and then argues from consequence.

The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.

Psi

Parapsychology, psi, ESP, auras, NDEs, anomalous cognition, psychic research. A load of woo! Nothing to see here!

Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim to have had a near death experience, people who demonstrate blindfolded vision or who seem to have other psychic abilities?

Here and here, are videos about the work of Nicola Farmer, a woman who works with children and seemingly teaches them to see while blindfolded.

She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

Other Ways of Knowing

Humans know about what surrounds them by virtue of their sensory perception. It is impossible otherwise to know about the world outside our head. It is necessary but is it sufficient? No. To develop our full intellect we need to develop our cognitive skills and, crucially, learn a language. Luckily, humans are a social species and language together with the physical adaptations necessary to speak, hear and understand develops in childhood seemingly without much effort, just by being immersed in the family group.

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The Skeptics Wink and Nod.

Here is an informative little video by a guy named Steve Mould who does a lot of “science” videos on youtube.  Its all (ostensibly) about how simple little processes can make “meaningful” structures from stochastic processes-and he uses magnetic shaped little parts to show this.  Its a popular channeled followed by millions, and is often referenced by other famous people in the science community-and his fans love it.

And hey, it does show how meaningful structures CAN form from random processes.  Right?  So you can learn from this.  Wink, wink.  Nod, nod. And all the skeptics will know exactly what he is really saying.  Cause we are all part of the clique that knows this language-the language of the skeptic propagandist.  I mean, he almost hides it, the real message, it is just under the surface, and the less skeptically aware, the casualist, might even miss it.  The casualist might not learn as much about Steve Mould and what he is trying to say here-but the skeptic knows.  “See, atheism is true! Spread the word!” Steve has given the wink. The same wink used by DeGrasse Tyson, and Sean Carroll, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene, and on and on.  You know the one.

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The Goethean method as a complement to conventional science

Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.

As translated from Maurice Merleau-Ponty in  L’Œil et l’Esprit

 

“Science manipulates things and gives up living in them. It makes its own limited models of things; operating upon these indices or variables to effect whatever transformations are permitted by their definition, it comes face to face with the real world only at rare intervals. Science is and always will be that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking whose fundamental bias is to treat everything as though it were an object-in-general – as though it meant nothing to us and yet was predestined for our own use.”

 

Introducing the Goethean method brings back the connection between the investigator and the subject under investigation.

This review by Bo Dahlin investigates science education in relation to a phenomenological approach. Continue reading

Window dressing, or: Is the God of Thomistic classical theism as dumb as a rock?


[Courtesy of Unsplash.com & Kitti Incédi]

[Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey]

Dr. Gaven Kerr is a lecturer in philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland. In a recent online interview with writer and philosopher Pat Flynn on a Youtube video titled, “Philosophy Friday: Classical Theism and Divine Simplicity” (March 23, 2021), Dr. Kerr (who is a Thomist and a stalwart defender of classical theism) made nine incredible metaphysical claims (two about agents in general, and seven about God), as well as six philosophically controversial background assumptions. Below, I shall argue that when taken together, these claims and assumptions add up to a picture of a God Who is literally as dumb as a rock. Basically, He’s a black box. The exalted language which Thomists use to describe God is mere window dressing, obscuring the fact that the God they worship never even thinks about the creatures He has made: they depend on Him, but on the Thomistic view, God creates them without having to think any thoughts about them, like “Let there be light” or “Let us make man in our own image.” All God ever thinks about is Himself, and even His act of “thinking about” Himself consists in nothing more than His being Himself. In other words, God knows Himself (and His creatures) simply by existing. In this post, I shall argue that the Thomistic account of knowledge is downright nonsensical, that Thomists’ reasons for denying that God has any thoughts and feelings about us are based on faulty assumptions, and finally, that if their account of God were correct, it would be irrational of us to love God or to feel grateful to Him for anything. Taken to its logical extreme, Thomistic classical theism makes the hearts of believers grow cold, and it is a lucky thing indeed that most Christians (Catholics included) are blissfully ignorant of what it teaches about God.

For those readers who are interested, here is Pat Flynn’s interview with Dr. Kerr:

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