You Can Trust Us. Seriously!

Our trust of the government has been renewed! Whether we like it or not.

The US PATRIOT act has been renewed with none of the reforms that had originally been pushed by the Dems. From the article over at the EFF:

Disappointingly, the government’s dangerously broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unspecified or “John Doe” targets, to secretly wiretap of persons without any connection to terrorists or spies under the so-called “lone wolf” provision, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records without warrants under PATRIOT Section 215 were all renewed without any new checks and balances to prevent abuse.

But of course this is only a problem if you don’t trust the government to wiretap ONLY people that deserve it, right? Fortunately our government trusts the government enough for all of us, so we needn’t worry.

(via Boing Boing)

Just In Case

I’ve gotten a number of comments on various posts here in the last few weeks. Most of them were quite obviously spam. A few, though, seemed almost but somehow not quite on topic. A closer look showed names with homepage links to sites with terms like “payday” or “sex” in the url. In those cases I’ve been marking them as spam and deleting them.

Then there was this comment by someone named ocljlwijlmcds which says merely “ocljlwijlmcds”. So why didn’t I delete that one, too? Because as strange as it is there is no link or email associated with it so I have no reason to believe it’s spam. It’s possible that it was made by someone who has had previous comments deleted as spam and was just testing to see if I was indiscriminately deleting comments.

If so I just wanted to assure everyone that I’m not just deleting comments just because I feel like it, or because I don’t like the comments. In all cases they’ve been deleted because I have good reason to believe they are spam. In the future, if you want to make a legitimate comment, please try and make sure that it’s on topic and meaningful in some way. If your homepage URL has something “spammy” in it, mention that so that I know to take that into account when assessing your comment.

Paleyism Will Never Die

The design argument relies on ignorance to work. This was just as true for Paley’s watch as it is for current Intelligent Design theory. The basic thought process is this (for the design argument known as the Watchmaker Analogy):

  1. The complex inner workings of a watch necessitate an intelligent designer.
  2. As with a watch, the complexity of X (a particular organ or organism, the structure of the solar system, life, the entire universe) necessitates a designer.

Step 1 relies on our knowledge of the watch and how it was designed and created. Step 2 relies on our ignorance of X and how (or even if) it was designed and created. The idea is that we should explain what we don’t know in terms of what we do know, and since we know that the watch was designed, we should be able to explain what we don’t know about X as the product of design as well.

I’m not here today to argue the merits of this. Rather I wanted to point out the simple fact that such arguments will never go away.

“But Venture,” I hear you say, “as we learn more we’ll be better able to explain X as a result of natural processes, thereby chipping away at this argument!” There is one glaring problem with that view. History has shown us that the more we come to know, the more we also come to know how much we don’t know. It’s not that ignorance increases along with knowledge but that our awareness of our ignorance increases. The sophistication of the Intelligent Design arguments are a testament to that. Scientists such as Michael Behe use our ignorance to great effect by providing very detailed explanations of exactly what it is that we don’t yet understand and making a design inference from that.

The fact is that the design inference will never go away because it relies on our knowledge of one thing to explain our ignorance of another thing, and as science progresses we will always become more and more aware of both.

Mutations Let Me Be An Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist

Here’s the latest from Ms. O’Leary:

But I have never heard anyone famously say, as Dawkins said about Darwinism, that [endosymbiosis, gene transfer or neoteny] make it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Why not? Because it’s not clear that these processes could not be guided. The mechanisms are proposed simply as mechanisms by which significant changes might take place, not as mechanisms that rule out guidance.

“Darwinists” aren’t pointing to these specifically as making it possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist” because these are details in the larger picture of evolution that allow such a thing. Claiming it for these specifics would be akin to claiming that genetic mutations make it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Absolutely genetic mutations are a necessary component of evolution, but they on their own are not enough to make such a broad statement sensible. It’s the totality of evolution, both what is known and what is as yet unknown, that makes such intellectual fulfillment possible.

So Clever It Circles Back Around To Stupid

Here is the truly mind boggling hypothesis thrown out by GilDodgen over at UD:

I would like to offer the following hypothesis: The universe was rigged. It was designed for discovery (a thesis put forward in The Privileged Planet), but also designed in such a way that there would always be an escape clause in the contract for those who are committed, for whatever reason, to reject the obvious.

This is such an amazing hypothesis because it is necessarily and provably true. Any evidence that the universe is designed obviously supports it since “It was designed for discovery…”. On the other hand, lacking that evidence, or any evidence that it was not designed also supports it since such evidence (or lack thereof) is the “escape clause” that is hypothesized. So you see all evidence either for or against the hypothesis as well as a complete lack of evidence all end up proving the same thing: that this hypothesis is true.

Don’t think about it too much. Your head might explode.

Bet They Didn’t Ask The Important Questions

Take a look at this new article over at Science Daily about morality and religion.

Here’s a link to the original article which appeared in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Citing several studies in moral psychology, the authors highlight the finding that despite differences in, or even an absence of, religious backgrounds, individuals show no difference in moral judgments for unfamiliar moral dilemmas. The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.

This is obviously false. The fact that you can’t have morality without Jesus proves the morality doesn’t exist without Jesus which proves that this entire study is false.

Maybe you atheists should try using logic for once instead of blindly accepting whatever some scientist says just because he has “evidence”.