The Expanded Problem of Animal Suffering

Phil Halper (aka SkydivePhil) has produced a hard-hitting new video titled, “Atheism’s Best Argument? The Problem of Animal Suffering & The Neuroscience of Pain,” in conjunction with philosopher of consciousness Ken Williford, neuroscientist David Rudrauf, pain expert Perry Fuchs, as well as ethicists Peter Singer and Mark Bernstein, and philosopher Joe Schmid and Within Reason host Alex O’Connor (the artist formerly known as cosmic skeptic). Here’s a brief excerpt from the video’s description:

The problem of animal suffering (a version of the problem of evil) has recently been described as the biggest problem for Christianity. However, a new paper in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion suggests that the problem is far worse than imagined. Here, we explain why and counter attempts by theists to reply.

I’ll be putting out a TSZ post on the problem of evil later this year. In the meantime, I’d like to ask viewers what they think of SkydivePhil’s latest video. Comment is welcome.

The Shroud of Turin: Why I think the image is natural and probably medieval

Recently, some prominent defenders of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin have produced a spate of online videos promoting their point of view. We’ll have a look at two of these below. At first blush, they sounded pretty convincing – especially their attempts to debunk the carbon-14 dating for the Shroud to somewhere between 1260 and 1390. I then did some online research, and I came across some very convincing rebuttals of popular pro-Shroud arguments. Interestingly, these rebuttals were made by a Catholic science teacher named Hugh Farey, a current former editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud newsletter, and a former Shroud believer. I was highly impressed with Hugh Farey’s eloquence as a speaker. Shroud believers will find his arguments devastating. I post them here for readers’ interest.

5 Popular Arguments for the Shroud of Turin Debunked

Continue reading

weirdly, fuel efficiency can be expressed as an area

Yesterday I saw someone joking online about how if you apply dimensional analysis to fuel efficiency, you end up with an area. Why? Because fuel efficiency is expressed (in Canada and Europe, anyway) as liters per 100 kilometers. The liter is a unit of volume, or length3. The kilometer is a unit of length. If you divide length3 by length, you end up with length2, or area. (Similar reasoning applies to American-style fuel efficiency expressed as miles per gallon.) Continue reading

Maximum mutational robustness in genotype–phenotype maps follows a self-similar blancmange-like curve


Phenotype robustness, defined as the average mutational robustness of all the genotypes that map to a given phenotype, plays a key role in facilitating neutral exploration of novel phenotypic variation by an evolving population. By applying results from coding theory, we prove that the maximum phenotype robustness occurs when genotypes are organized as bricklayer’s graphs, so-called because they resemble the way in which a bricklayer would fill in a Hamming graph. The value of the maximal robustness is given by a fractal continuous everywhere but differentiable nowhere sums-of-digits function from number theory. Interestingly, genotype–phenotype maps for RNA secondary structure and the hydrophobic-polar (HP) model for protein folding can exhibit phenotype robustness that exactly attains this upper bound. By exploiting properties of the sums-of-digits function, we prove a lower bound on the deviation of the maximum robustness of phenotypes with multiple neutral components from the bricklayer’s graph bound, and show that RNA secondary structure phenotypes obey this bound. Finally, we show how robustness changes when phenotypes are coarse-grained and derive a formula and associated bounds for the transition probabilities between such phenotypes.


Evolutionist against gradualism?

Annotated […] excerpts :

We now know that Darwin’s ‘gradualist’ view of evolution, exclusively driven by natural selection, is no longer compatible with contemporary science.

Species do not emerge from an accumulation of random genetic changes. This has been confirmed by 21st-century genome sequencing, but the idea that natural selection inadequately explains evolutionary change goes back 151 years – to Darwin himself. Continue reading

Marmorkrebs disprove “Natural Selection”

(F) Growth differences of five juveniles from dam B that were size-matched in stage 6 and then cultured in an aquarium without shelter. 34 days later, one specimen was in stage 11, one in stage 9 and three were in stage 7. Scale bar, 4 mm.

The facts

A 2008 study popularized by Michael Blastland in his book, ‘The Hidden Half’, shows that genetically identical crayfish (clones) from the same batch and grown in a tightly controlled identical environment vary wildly in size, lifespan, behavior, appearance, growth rate, molting, reproduction, etc. Continue reading

What do you think of Dr. Lydia McGrew’s Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection?

Dr. Lydia McGrew is a renowned Christian apologist and philosopher, who surely needs no introduction to viewers of this blog. Recently, she released her Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection of Jesus on Cameron Bertuzzi’s Youtube channel, Capturing Christianity. Here it is:

(For the benefit of viewers, I should explain that Dr. Lydia McGrew suffers from severe back pain.)

I decided to post a short six-minute reply, summarizing and rebutting her case. I conclude that the Resurrection of Jesus is something that believers have to take on faith. What do you think?

Continue reading

Are We Living in an Existential Vacuum?

The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the 20th century.” said Viktor Frankl.

I am living in an existential vacuum. We pay a price for our relative freedom. Animals are rooted in being governed by instincts which they are obliged to follow. Humans are set free from this obligation. We escaped from a life of instinct only to have tradition curtailing individual freedom. Modern society has allowed us the opportunity to wrestle free from these bonds, but, like a child thrown into a swimming pool by a parent eager to teach it to swim, we tend to flail about having been left to our own devices. A feeling of abandonment may lie deep within my soul. My reliance on instinct and tradition has been pulled from under my feet. What should I do? Follow the crowd, or look for an authority that is going to tell me what to do and think? Or stand on my own two feet and find my own path? Continue reading

Descent with Modification misrepresentation

Darwin defined “evolution as “descent with modification”. But modification of what? The messy mix of DNA in sexual reproduction is not modification of anything. Two become three in sexual reproduction while one becomes two in mitosis and budding. No parent is being modified. Either way, descent by definition is the creation of new entities. Modification by definition is the same one entity before and after. The combination “descent with modification” is simply incoherent. Is this just an unfortunate linguistic error that hides a real process? Could this apply to populations instead? Populations change, but they do not descend – just individual members do. OK then, “descent with modification” is just a pleasant but otherwise incoherent soundbite. Continue reading

RNA World:

The Answer to Chickens and Eggs

One regret I have regarding the demise of Uncommon Descent is being unable to continue discussion with Upright Biped, a regular at UD who believed he had an argument against the natural evolution of the genetic code, which I refer to as his “semiotic hypothesis”.

Whilst wrapped up in impenetrable jargon and idiosyncratic prose, it is/was quite a simple argument: that the first organisms could not evolve the genetic code without already having the metabolism in place and vice versa, an insoluble chicken-and-egg conundrum. Continue reading

How not to argue for the Resurrection PLUS my latest interview with Ed Tahmizian

(Note: my recent interview with Edouard Tahmizian of Internet Infidels is at the end of this post.)

Christian apologist Dr. Jeremiah Johnston, a New Testament Baptist scholar, pastor and author who ministers internationally as president of Christian Thinkers Society, was recently interviewed by Ruth Jackson on the show, Unapologetic, from Premium Unbelievable about his latest book, Body of Proof: The 7 Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus–and Why It Matters Today (Bethany House Publishers, 2023). Dr. Johnston wrote a 93,000-word dissertation while he was studying at Oxford on the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus, concluding that the resurrection was the best explanation for what happened. In his interview, he makes an even stronger claim (13:11): “We can prove the resurrection of Jesus really happened.” That’s a very tall claim, to put it mildly. As Scripture testifies, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Continue reading

Prof. Michael Hudson Explains the Rise of China / BRICS

For the first 30 years of my life, I was a “David Barton” American Christian … raised as a Baptist YEC … Air Force pilot “defending America against Communism” … etc etc.  Beginning at about Age 30, I began to question the policy of making the US Military into “The World’s Globocop” and in 1996, I separated from the military.  I was happy to see “The Fall of Communism” in 1989 but I continued to be discontent with the US Govt but couldn’t put my finger on the problem.  Finally — just a few months ago — I’ve figured it out, thanks to Prof. Michael Hudson and long story short, things have never been more clear for me.  The fog has lifted. Continue reading

Who Can He Be?

I thought it would be a good idea to start a separate thread specifically to discuss the Turin shroud and related relics as it concerns the events leading up to the resurrection, but not the resurrection itself. So hopefully we can discuss it without interfering with the Resurrection thread itself. One of the best sites I’ve found which argues for the authenticity of the shroud is . Michael Kowalski and David Rolfe are involved in maintaining and running this site. David Rolfe directed and produced the films, ‘The Silent Witness’ (1978) and recently, ‘Who Can He Be?’, which the above site links to.

This video features Rolfe talking about his involvement in shroud research.

Continue reading

The Death of Uncommon Descent?

  1. Over the last month, UD has been down more often than it has been up. In addition, Barry and News have been AWOL, leaving the keys to the kingdom to a pompous, arrogant, sermonizing narcissist. My apologies. That was uncharitable. It appears that Gordon Mullings, the Montserrat messiah, has been left to clean up after the party.

If UD does go the way of the dodo, I worry about Bornagain77 and Kairosfocus. Two individuals whose entire meaning for existence appears to be centred on their UD personas. Hopefully they have other outlets for their “sky is falling” rants.

The best debate I’ve seen on the Resurrection of Jesus

A few hours ago, I watched an online debate between acclaimed New Testament scholar and historian Professor Bart Ehrman and evangelical scholar Justin Bass, who is Professor of New Testament at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary. Dr. Bass, who now lives in Jordan, is also the author of “The Bedrock of Christianity: The Unalterable Facts of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection” (Lexham Press, 2020).

The debate, hosted by Justin Brierley of Premier Unbelievable, was a spirited one, in which Ehrman and Bass went at each other hammer and tongs. At the same time, the tone of the debate was scholarly, and Justin Brierley did an excellent job of keeping it civil. Personally, I thought that both sides presented their case very well, and that it was the best debate I’ve ever seen on Jesus’ resurrection. My personal opinion is that Bart Ehrman clearly won the debate on historical grounds, but that a Christian viewer might find Justin Bass’s arguments convincing, on theological grounds. Without further ado, here it is. Happy Easter!

Observations and Interpretations

I make observations and interpret what I see from my own personal perspective and world view. If I am, a creationist, a physicalist, a vitalist, a specialist, religious, atheist or whatever, my explanations will be fashioned accordingly to some extent. Some subjects are more contentious than others, and some people can take a more objective stance than others. The metaphors used in biology frequently demonstrate how life is thought of in mechanistic terms. Continue reading