Coming out for the second time…


Today's post isn't a while, which is a wonderful change!

I'm not quite sure where to begin though…

well, I've been a Christian all my life. Parents were Christian, it was All I Knew.  Then, about January or so of this year (when I was looking for The Hitchikers Guide to the Universe TV Series by the BBC) I stumbled across, and began listening to The Skeptics Guide to The Universe podcast.  It was fun, the hosts were funny and smart, and they made a heap of good points.  Awesome.  Well, one day recently I heard them interviewing Richard Saunders, who is heavily involved in Australian Skeptics.  I had no idea that there even were Australian Skeptics… well, I did, but I didn't realise that they had actually organised anything, let alone a society offering a $100,000 Challenge for Psychics and Practitioners of the Paranormal.  Upon learning of their existence, I checked out their site, and bought a subscription to The Skeptic, their quarterly publication.  I also sent an email to the Tassie branch, wondering what there was.  Nothing.  But someone up here had enquired a similar thing only a week ago, would I like to be put in touch?  Absolutely!  In fact, I'm rambling. 

After listening to the AS episode of SGU, I went back through some older ones, and stumbled across one about Immortality.  Interesting to say the least.  The panel discussed what "Immortality" (here defined as a lack of death-by-natural-causes) might mean for society, and religion in particular.  They said that a big thing about religion was the fear of death angle.  I thought "but I'm not afraid of death?".  I then wondered "am I not afraid because I'm just not, or is it my Christian belief in an afterlife kicking in?"  after some consideration, I decided that I actually don't mind whether an afterlife exists or not. If the things I do in this life are governed by the things that will happen in the next, then I need to take a serious, long look at my life and make some changes.   But they're not, so I'm happy enough. 

But this opened other things up to questioning.  I went and bought Christopher Hitchins "God Is Not Great: How Religon Poisons Everything" and devoured it.  It's a great book which I plan on reading again soon.   It makes some great points, which I'm at a loss to remember right now. (mainly because I was reading the book as a diversion from the things I should have been doing, and while it was really good, I wasn't taking things in on more than a subconscious level.)  Um, oh, yes… I started thinking about things.  I started asking "if God exists, why do all these things happen when there is no person who you could possibly say is responsible for certain atrocities?" ie Hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami, etc.  And that put me in a really awkward position.  It feels like there's something more than us just being meat, but what could it be?  Well, what about a non-intervening God? It starts off the big bang and watches.  Sure, It wants us to be happy etc, but It's not going to actually do anything about it.  OK, awesome, a God I can believe in again. 

I turn to my next topic of consideration: Jesus.  Problem.  God is a non-intervening God. Jesus came about because God intervened in Mary's life, and the lives of countless others.  Conclusion here? Jesus was probably a really, really great guy, but he was just human.  next? Holy Spirit.  Problem.  the glorious HS is the personification of God's intervention.  Damn. Well, no HS either under my definition of God.

So… I believe in a non-intervening God.  That would make me a Deist.  I'm not quite sure what to do about church and family and stuff.  I will be disappointing a whole lot of people when I come out of the theological closet.  A friend has advised me that she goes to chuch (with her partner) and views it as kind of a social club.  I sing up the front, and recently, I've had a hard time singing the songs that I'm supposed to.  Not because they're hard songs, but because I don't actually believe the words.  Then there's the guilt of being told "I love hearing you sing, because it's so obvious that you're really feeling what you're singing." I'm actually misleading these people! and that's not cool.  If I go to church and don't sing up front with the choir, then I get asked why so much that if I can't get to practice on Friday nights, I just don't bother going to church on sunday.  it's easier, pure and simple.  So viewing it as asocial club may not be for me.

But… I'm meeting with my pastor on Friday to hopefully sort this stuff out a bit more.  This is big, to really make any public statement about my Deism. Currently, hubby and one friend, who I knew was a bit of a far out Christian, know. and now you know too.  This isn't for people to feel sorry for me, or to convert people, just to say "here is where I am at the moment"

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Exams are over, Holidays beginning

Well hello there, to the sane, and to the less so, who are like myself.   (I'm writing this at some point of my inebriation, (a fishbowl, 1.5 vodka+green apples, and 1 Scotch and Coke in, to be precise. (yes, I mix my drinks, but never the types, if I start with top shelf, I stay there, if I start on wine, I stay there too, my issues come when I mix wine and spirits.) so if I'm incoherent, I'll hopefully fix it tomorrow. 'k? 🙂 )

it's 12:31AM right now, and at 9am "yesterday" (which still seems like today, but that will fade) I started my final exam of the semester. Which was also, interestingly, -the- final exam of the semester.  It was Introduction to Logic, a unit that had a special place in my heart. I may have moaned about it in the past, but I loved logic in year 12, and AI last year.  The way humans think and reason interests me.  I'd love to do its successor, Logic In Philosophy, but by the time that's offered, I'll be in my honours course, and not be able to do regular coursework units. I wish I'd known about the prerequisite issues last year when I could have done Logic in Semester 1 last year, and Logic in Philosophy this year. but alas… it wasn't meant to be.

perhaps I'll just sit in on the lectures while I'm in for my honours stuff? I like that idea, no assignments, just the fun of gaining knowledge.

Yes, I'm that sort of person, I fear I'll always be learning something, I can't help it, I love acquiring knowledge and bettering myself.  Honours will be grand!  Learning -new- knowledge is an awesome thought. Learning things that are new to the collective mind of humanity has a kind of warm and fuzzy feeling associated with it for me.

Where was I, oh! the logic… Conjunctions and Conditionals, Existential and Universal Quantifiers, I love the idea of being able to objectively assess an argument based on the content of the argument.

This semester has seen me begin listening to The Skeptics Guide, and I have tried my best to keep pace with the Skeptical rogues, in my own head, figure out where they're going with their thoughts, and identify logical fallacies in arguments as I plod along in life.  It's fun! Really think about what you're saying when you try to convince someone of something. Then think about whether your argument really holds together, is there an unstated major premise, or are you falling into the slippery slope trap (where your argument says that if you take this view, the extreme of the view must also be accepted, not that I can think of a good example right now.), are you confusing correlation with causation (I had to deal with this one the other day, a friend and I were talking about the legalisation of dope, and he said that dope causes cancer.  I hadn't heard of that, and asked to see the study he was talking about, (he didn't know, he'd just been told that that was the case) I responded saying that since Dope on its own doesn't burn easily, it is often mixed with known carcinogenic compounds (ie tobacco) to encourage it to release the drug, that it was possible that the test had actually noticed that dope use correlated with cancer, and therefore assumed "Dope causes cancer", where it is entirely possible that dope use is just an indicator for other high-risk behaviours such as tobacco smoking.) (My argument was that consistency must be applied. That either Dope, and other drugs, should be made legal, on the basis that Tobacco has proven long-term dangers and is a legalised, addictive drug habit, OR that Cigarettes and Tobacco products be declared illegal on the basis of their definite long-term effects, even when used in moderation.)

I would dearly love for real critical thinking to be taught in public schools here in Tassie, Australia.  I'm disturbed by the notion that had I not stumbled across The Skeptics Guide, and Logic as a discipline, I might never have really thought about what I know and how I know it, never have really understood how to debate, how to form meaningful questions which address flaws in my own or others arguments.  The closest we've gotten here , is the basic Scientific Experimental Design idea that you change the fewest number of variables possible while changing at least one to validate or invalidate a hypothesis.

I loved the unit, and I'd love to do its' successor, but I don't think I'll be able to.  All I can say is, learn about logic, and you'll have a skill you can apply to everyday situations whatever you're in.  (being able to say "your argument is invalid, your conclusion does not truly come from its assumptions" is handy here and there, such as "why my idea should be implemented, vs Jones's Idea.)

oh yes! Holidays are beginning.
well, they are. I'm planning to get some movies and watch them, I'm going to play WoW and love it.  I've already revamped my website: Other than that, I don't know. hopefully we will get our kitchen renovations complete. (there's not much left to complete of them right now, just some vinyl and stuff) and then you will get pictures. (some before and afters, for sure)

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Evolution, God, Religion, Life

I've been listening to The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, a great podcast about science, the paranormal, and skepticism, for a couple of months now, and they talk about all sorts of things, ranging from Scientology, who, by dint of their name, try and piggyback on Science's reputation, to Intelligent Design, and Psychic phenomenon, etc.

Before we begin, I'm going to explain me: I'm a Liberal Christian, I'm happy to deal with things like Evolution and I'm not freaked out by the "satanicism" of psychic phenomenon and other paranormal events, I believe they're possible, but would like to get something consistent happening.

The Skeptics Guide Panel are either aetheist or agnostic, and if that works for them, goodo, but their spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) not my cup of coffee (I hate tea).

That's where I am, that's where they're coming from, here's the real post

So I've listened to them about Evolution, particularly as it relates to the American "Intelligent Design as part of the science curriculum".  Now: I don't claim to really know how the earth was made, how the universe was made, but I'm happy enough to believe that God, The Divine, whatever you want to call the Power Connecting the Universe, made the lot… but I make no claim as to the mechanism of that creation…  Big Bang theory seems fine to me, something from nothing? sounds like something God could do, but I'm not going to limit it to that… what if God fashioned the nothingness that was before the universe, and let the big bang happen on its own.
An obvious flaw in Young Earth Creationism's response to evolutionary evidence

Basically, they claim that God has just made it look like evolution happened, and it the earth was really created 6000 years ago as documented by the Bible.
There are 2 assumptions in play here to make the argument stand (both of which are highly contested even within Christianity):
A1: The Bible is a factual historical account of creation.
A2: That either Genesis 1 and 2 don't contradict each other, or the contradiction doesn't matter.

There are also 2 accepted facts involved:
Mathematics: Millions of years is longer than 6000 years. (1 million > 6000, years are time units)
English: If evolution didn't happen, but evidence suggests that it did, then Scientific Humans would be victims of deception by the creator of that evidence. (definition of deception (biblically "False Witness"))

Based on those assumptions and facts, are the bones of the YEC argument:
YEC1: God fashioned the world 6,000 years ago (Based on Biblical factuality). 
YEC2: Science tells us that current evidence suggests that evolution happened over millions of years.
YEC3: If the world hasn't been around for millions of years, then if the evidence suggests that evolution happened over millions of years, then God must have manufactured it during creation so that there would appear to be an evolutionary chain of events, because the world hasn't been around for millions of years. 

YEC Conclusion: So God has created an elaborate deception for Scientific Humanity.

So far so good…
Applying consistency causes an issue though.

Counter sub-argument (SA):
SA 1: Sin is anything "offensive to God".
SA 2: God deems lying and deception offensive to Him/Her self.
SA 3: perfect Holiness is absolute Sinlessness (definition of holiness is "being separate from sin" (see Ordinary Men Ministries))
SA 4: God is (by biblical definition) perfectly Holy
SA 5: God cannot sin, as to sin would cause God to cease being God.
SA Conclusion: God cannot perform deception.

Now: based on the fact that both these things came from the same book, we should be able to reasonably assume that God in the YEC argument, is the same God as in my Counter sub-argument

From the first argument, we discover God is deceiving us. (YEC Conlcusion)
From the second, we discover God cannot perform deceptions. (SA Conclusion)

To Conclude, the original hypothesis, that God has just made it look like evolution happened, and it the earth was really created 6000 years ago as documented by the Bible, is provably false using Reductio ad absurdium. (assume the conclusion is true (the hypothesis in this case), and you can prove it is false if it provides a contradiction).
Now, I need to say: yes, it is only the case if you take two arguments and combine them. However, these two arguments should support one another as the premises for both are taken from Christian Scripture, which is being touted by Young Earth Creationism as a factual historical set of documents.

  Anyway, What I come away from this with is: If Science is providing a reasonable explanation, (and it doesn't sound all that far-fetched to me) on how we got here as we are today, and if Science is not usable to research supernatural phenomenon, (which is inherent in its design, repeatables only please), then the involvement of God is immaterial to the notion of how you got here to read this in the first place.

Now I've tried to structure this argument as logically as I can, and attempted to use truth-preserving logical operators in the construction of the argument, but if I have any logical fallacies here, please point them out…

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