P Z Myers nails it again

Excellent dissection of Creationist Conflationary Confusion.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/evo-devo refutes evolution

Short version may be summarized:

Deuterostomes have a dorsal central nerve cord whereas Protostomes have a ventral central nerve chord.

Contrary to introductory textbook orthodoxy, this may be the only real distinguishing feature between the two.

It would be interesting to determine which was more ancestral.

Calvinist apologist deconverts from Christianity (but not theism)

Tyler Vela, a Calvinist apologist and an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in America who converted from atheism to Christianity as a young man, graduated with a Pre-seminary B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from the Moody Bible Institute, and was partway through a Masters of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary, has announced his deconversion at his Youtube channel, The Freed Thinker. Recently, he was interviewed by Derek Lambert of Mythvision on his reasons for leaving Christianity, several months ago. The interview may be viewed here:

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Bioelectrics

The field of bioelectricity is very enlightening. The intro to Michael Levin’s lab states:

We work at the intersection of developmental biology, computer science, and cognitive science. Our goal is to understand degrees of intelligence at multiple scales of biological, artificial, and hybrid systems; we use these insights to develop interventions in regenerative medicine.

This discussion with Michael Levin gives more details on their operation and experiments. Continue reading

Rationalizing Hell

Detail from The Last Judgement, Jan Van Eyck

Perhaps the most disturbing idea in Christian dogma is the notion of hell — a place of unending torment for the detestable souls who don’t qualify for a blissful eternity with God and the angels in heaven. Who are these horrible people who are condemned to agonizing, eternal punishment? Those who don’t believe in Jesus. That’s it. Merely failing to believe in Jesus means you are one of the loathsome vermin who must suffer forever, with no possibility of a respite, and not even the prospect of a welcome oblivion. Continue reading

Dr. Gavin Ortlund’s defense of C.S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lunatic or Lord” trichotomy, and Why I think it won’t work on skeptics

In this blog article, I’ll be summarizing Dr. Gavin Ortlund‘s recent rehabilitation of C. S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lunatic or Lord” trichotomy, which he defended last year in a 41-minute interview (shown below) with Cameron Bertuzzi, who runs the Youtube channel, Capturing Christianity. After that, I’ll be playing devil’s advocate and responding as if I were a skeptic, instead of a Catholic. The views I advance here are not my own: my intention in playing devil’s advocate is to illustrate how an intelligent unbeliever might go about refuting this popular argument for Christianity. In so doing, I hope to persuade apologists like Dr. Ortlund that the argument should not be used against skeptics. Without further ado, here it is:

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Without the threat of eternal damnation, are there no personal advantages to being truthful?

I came across the following by Kairosfocus while wasting time reading comments at uncommon descent:

FP, do you not see many who gain much by lies and fraud, and die in full benefit of ill gotten gains? Is that not a commonplace? In short, VB is right to highlight that without the eternal reckoning, it is simply not the case that truth telling is to one’s advantage, short or long term. More to the point, kids have to be taught is a fallacy in this context, as was noted. KF

is he correct?

Will AI ever be conscious? Is it already? Nope

Earlier this week there was a debate on Consciousness in the Machine, basically asking whether machines can be conscious. In a somewhat different manner than myself, Bernardo Kastrup rejects the idea. Kastrup says that it’s a hypothesis not worth entertaining, and from entertaining the idea bad things follow. From Kastrup’s blog,

Those who take the hypothesis of conscious AI seriously do so based on an appallingly biased notion of isomorphism—a correspondence of form, or a similarity—between how humans think and AI computers process data. To find that similarity, however, one has to take several steps of abstraction away from concrete reality. After all, if you put an actual human brain and an actual silicon computer on a table before you, there is no correspondence of form or functional similarity between the two at all; much to the contrary. A living brain is based on carbon, burns ATP for energy, metabolizes for function, processes data through neurotransmitter releases, is moist, etc., while a computer is based on silicon, uses a differential in electrical potential for energy, moves electric charges around for function, processes data through opening and closing electrical switches called transistors, is dry, etc. They are utterly different.

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ChatGPT narrates TSZ

By now, many of you will have heard of ChatGPT. If you haven’t, be prepared — you’re going to hear a lot about it over the coming weeks and months.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model with an impressive ability to understand and generate humanlike text, drawing on a vast reservoir of knowledge gleaned from the internet. (It also makes stuff up, which can be a real problem.) It answers queries and can write stories, articles, computer code, and even (bad) poems. I don’t yet understand much about how it works, but when I learn more, I’ll describe it in the comments. Continue reading

More arguments for the soul, examined

In the previous thread I examined (starting here) a couple of Richard Swinburne’s arguments for the soul, pointing out why I think they are flawed.

Because I find this stuff so interesting, I thought I would look for some more pro-soul arguments and open another thread to discuss them. This topic is important to a lot of people, particular those whose religious or spiritual beliefs invoke some concept of a soul or a soul-like entity. Continue reading

Did I lose my mind to science?

That’s the title of a new article at the Patheos website, which describes itself as “the world’s homepage for all religion”. The article is the first in a series by Ted Peters, emeritus professor of theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, who understands the threat that materialism (aka physicalism) poses to traditional religious views regarding the self. Continue reading

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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