Monday, December 30, 2013

Dialogues with Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 2

So there are times when people are just out and out stupid and put out things in all caps and hurl insults rather than actually trying to argue anything.  We've all seen this, and it's the sort of thing where I could post something completely beyond the pale absurd saying that an actual creationist really said this, and you'd have no idea whether I was making it up or not.  Then there are those who seem otherwise well-adjusted and perhaps even normal on the surface.  It's only when you prod a little deeper that you find that these people are really hopelessly brainwashed.  This particular exchange is one of those latter cases.

This is from a discussion on Facebook about 3 years ago.  Obviously, I'm going to be leaving out real names, but it's not as if it really matters who specifically the person is so much as just being able to identify who said what.  The full discussion is actually quite long and involved multiple exchanges, so it will be difficult to really display it all in one blog post.  In between, of course, we had little moments where we had to stop because one of us would be out of town or something or because of text length limitations, we'd split the responses up, and so we would say things like "I'll have to continue this response in the next post" and so on, which isn't really relevant to the discussion, so I'm also leaving all those bits out.

Where it all actually began was a wall post from a mutual friend in which he linked to the news report about Craig Venter and his team successfully creating their artificial phenotype of bacteria containing an entirely synthetic genome.  It was billed in press as creating "artificial life", which is pseudo-accurate at best, and that's where a lot of debate soon came up, especially from the "Intelligent Design" crowd.  In any case, I put up a response saying that it was a great achievement on their part, and also addressing the fact that the ID supporters will say that it proves that you needed a designer just the way the Venter Institute's staff had to design this genome.  The key thing that gives away their fingerprint of design of course, is the fact that they encoded the URL to their white paper in the pseudo-genes of this bacterium.  If there was anything close to that for a hypothetical "designer" for all life, then you've got some sort of a case for ID...  and that's where the discussion began.

To begin with, I'll start with the part of the discussion that happened in the thread of the original post.  There are extremely long exchanges that happened afterwards when we took the discussion to PMs that I'll probably have to save for some follow-up posts.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Atheism as a Function of Wealth

There is an article making the rounds by a Chris Arnade which puts forth the thesis that atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy.  There are arguments to be made that this is somewhat of a valid claim, but I can't say that I find his evidences for this to be particularly meaningful.

Here is the link to a reprint of the original article.

I was originally linked to the article by way of a Youtube video which more or less made the counterargument that the best thing we can do is really push for reform that helps to take people out of the poor lifestyles in which they live so that they are less likely to use religion as a crutch.  I have something further to add to this, but I'll get to that.  I have other points worth making about the article in addition to that.