Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Group 3: On Group One's Coming Presentation...

FQ: Who won the discussion panel?
DQ: Who won the discussion panel?

Of course, we all really know the only source of real knowledge is the body of work that is the Platonic William.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A professor friend of mine, who's Masters is in Evolutionary Biology (he's also a Christian), posted this, and I thought it appropriate. Far too often, I've met people who seem to think that science is this sort of magical thing, where if you experiment with an object a certain way, the object will magically tell you all of the information of its origins, functions, etc. Science is far, far, FAR less certain than that.

The Euthyphro Dilemma Rebuttal

Okay, I was going to give an explanation of the refutation of the Euthyphro Dilemma, but I don't have enough time. I've found a video that explains the refutation, and shall rely on that for now. Any thoughts on the rebuttal would be greatly appreciated!!!


Group 2

Hello. Yesterday we had a fun class period where we ended up having a discussion on how we as a society can have a conversation to form the rules of the land. We can have our own opinions on what is right or wrong to us, but we do not have the necessary evidence to prove that what we believe to be wrong is wrong. We discussed how we can use debate and conversation to persuade people to come to the same opinion as us to form a general consensus. However, even if the majority is in agreement about a topic about whether something is good or bad there is still no proof for the goodness or the badness of the action of a person or the person in question. Is there really good and evil if we do not have the ability to prove that things are good and evil?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Group 1 Presentation: On Faith

Placeholder for Group 1's presentation.  

In short, my presentation is about the justification of faith as an epistemology.

Sources are Science and Religion: Are They Compatible by Daniel Dennett and Alvin Plantinga, Ethics Without God by Kai Nielsen, and A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian.

Instructions per Dr. Oliver:

Groups, prior to your report day please post a summary indicating your report topic, each group member's contribution, and suggested readings, relevant websites, etc. On report day, please print that summary, have all group members sign it, and turn it in to me.

Attention Group 3: Group Projects

Our projects are next Thursday, March 6th.

We will be individually presenting our best arguments within the broad topic of "Atheism."
We will be using a powerpoint to better illustrate and provide a flow to our argumentation, so please post a brief summary on your angle/interpretation of the problem below for the clarification and benefit of the group, and so we can organize everything in a powerpoint, and easily prepare our outline.

ALSO, we will be meeting on Monday,  March 3, 2014 to put together our presentations, and offer some cohesion to our individual analyses.

- William

Daily Quiz

Feb. 25

1. What trouble do most people have with atheism, acc'ing to Rosenberg?

2. What's the good news/bad news about nihilism?

3. How does nihilism "solve" the problem of moral justification?

4. Name a core morality "candidate."

5. What is scientism's version of the Euthyphro Dilemma?

6. What's problematic about niceness, and how does economic game theory address this?

7. What must we nice people tolerate, though not forever?

8. Good Book verses? [Or do we need a Nice Book?]

"Right answers," Nietzsche on nihilism-96. 9/11 etc.-98. Euthyphro-99. Core morality, fMRI-103. A "good news" joke-107. [YOUR "NOTES" HERE]

Group 3. Morality and all that jazz...

DQ: What is Plato's dilemma?
FQ: Scientism and Nihilism are separable according to Rosenberg. False. Pg. 99

DQ: Is the scavenger's metaphor a fair comparison to the intellectual sensibilities of the assumed correlating human dilemma.
FQ: The norms in pastoral and agricultural cultures are the same. False. pg. 139

There's a certain dialectical contradiction in jazz. To play it well, with a certain bourgeoisie sensibility, one must know music theory to a masterful extent, and have complete control over harmony, melody, and rhythm. Because of this, the slick minded find Jazz extremely tasteful and beautiful, as it is the progress of a certain history to the point of it being able to look back upon itself. The contradiction is apparent; however, when we realize that with the entire wealth of history and a complete mastery of music theory and performance, the product is just a bunch of players breaking all the rules and playing what they want in discord with each other. Yet, for some reason, we still view the disharmonious chaos as a cooperation in anarchy because the anarchy is intended.

Such a beautiful metaphor for life, I think. A perfect allegory. Of course, the anarchy is not intended in life, it is inherited.

Game Theory

Here's a great link to the Game Theory page on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy site if anyone is interested.  The Prisoner's Dilemma is at section 2.4.

Group 1: Morality

What system of morality denies that there is any such thing as intrinsic moral value?  A: nihilism

What moral grounding dilemma did Plato’s Socrates make famous where he asked, “Is it correct because it is chosen by God, or is it chosen by God because it is correct?”  A: Euthyphro  

Here's the link to Plato's Euthyphro if you would like to read it. 

I'm always fascinated by theists' interpretations of the Bible--millions claiming private knowledge about what it says, what God wants them to do, and more interestingly, what God told them that other people should be doing.  What's more amazing is that what God wants and and what they want are usually the same thing.

Every theist has, to some degree, a different interpretation of the Bible and a different idea about the nature of God.  Need support for slavery? It's in the Bible.  Need to condemn slavery?  It's in the Bible.  Hate gays? It's in the Bible.  Want to condemn homophobia and bigotry? It's in the Bible--and so on.  

2011 Gallop poll indicates that 30% of Americans read the Bible literally.  

So, just as there's no consensus on the creation myth in Genesis, one can only imagine what happens when theists interpret the Book of Revelation, where Jesus and some horsemen come riding into town and start killing off humanity--in thirds, for some unknown reason.  

But how much damage can four or five people do riding through town on horseback a whoopin-and-a-whompin with a divinely sharp sword.  Sure, they may have pestilence, fire, and boiling water on your side, but still... 

But that's a silly interpretation, right?  Surely no one in their right mind--at least no one you would hand a sharp object or someone in charge of anything important--would interpret the Bible like that.

Well, think again.  Retired Lieutenant General and Family Research Council's Executive Vice President William (Jerry) Boykin begs to differ.  Boykin has predicted the Son of God will be packing an AR-15 assault rifle during the Second Coming.  He announced this to a crowd during a Pro-Family Legislators Conference in Dallas.  "The sword today is an AR-15.  If you don't have one, go get one.  You're supposed to have one.  It's biblical," he said.  

Here's the link to the article in New York Daily News.  

So does Jesus pack an AR-15 because it's good, or is the AR-15 good because Jesus packs it? 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

AA for everyone

But not on Thursdays.

"The boom in nonreligious A.A. represents another manifestation of a more visible and confident humanist movement in the United States, one that has featured public figures such as Bill Maher, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. Yet this recent trend within A.A. also marks a departure from the organization’s traditional emphasis on religion.

“A.A. starts at its core with honesty,” said Dorothy, 39, who heads the steering committee for the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International A.A. Convention. “And how can you be honest in recovery if you’re not honest in your own beliefs? If you don’t believe in the God they’re praying to, that’s not honest practice...”
Alcoholics Anonymous, Without the Religion - NYTimes.com

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Daily Quiz


1. Who was John Templeton?

2. What's Rosenberg's view of purpose in biology and evolution? OR, What's the significance of the slogan "No Newton for the blade of grass"?

3. What does scientistic Darwinisn "need to show" in order to forestall intelligent design, special creation, and biblical inerrancy?

4. What's the essence of natural selection?

5. Name one of biological evolution's three distinctive features.

6. How does male sexuality illustrate the extreme wastefulness of natural selection?

7. What's the Ussher event? Is it possible? OR, Would it reconcile Darwinian science with Genesis?

8. Favorite verses from The Good Book?

1. Native of Winchester TN, billionaire founder of the eponymous foundation dedicated to "affirming life's spiritual dimension" and reconciling religion & faith with science & reason. p,45. 2. It's gratuitous, "banished"; physics fixes the facts of biology, 46-7. 3. Natural selection is adaptation's only source-53. 4. Nature's passivity and lack of foresight-56. Quick&dirty, emergent complexity/diversity, cooperation&competition-68. 6. Most sperm, all but one in a million, miss their mark-74. 7. Yes, in the sense that it "would satisfy physics..." AND Yes.


Why George Carlin, God love him, was wrong: mass extinction events-76. (See E. Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, which we'll be reading in Environmental Ethics next Fall.)

What else? Collaborate with me on this please.

Resigned Design

While perhaps verbally I can shuffle a few grandstanding moments together; typographically, that is, when writing, I prefer mathematics over prose. That is to say, even during my prose, I believe a substantive mathematical, logic based, argument should underly the linguistic fashion statement. (That should've been read in the most condescending snarky tone ever.)

At any rate, at times, nay, most of the time, the rhetorical satisfies a function of which the logical fails to do. That is, the rhetorical reveals and furnishes lines of argumentation in lights that the amicable and neutral mathematical order cannot do.

The expense, however, is that these arguments tend to rely on other's expertise in place of a unique respective argument. That's  to say, these arguments are actually arguments to convince someone to believe a more methodical and logically deduced argument. In example, Ted Cruz's parliamentary grandstanding during the recent fiscal cliff debacles have not been substantive number crunching seminars. They've been pleas of passion encroached in metaphysical, geocentric, patriotism. However, these things do refer to much more complex arguments.

That is to say, when Obama makes a speech about America resting on the values of hope and freedom, that argument itself is rhetorical. It has no real meaning outside of emotional manipulation, and thus it operates as a function to mold action or thought through emotional misdirection than to 'prove' any point based off evidence. However, it only works because the rhetorical argument refers to a logical argument. That is to say, 'hope' and 'freedom' do have a logically deducible connection to the american way of life based on the founders pluralistic notions of the concept borrowed from Montesquieu, Rousseau, Mills, and Locke, and instilled within the constitution, which governs the laws, of which influence societal practice and thought.

That's to generalize for examples sake of course. But we see here, Obama is not speaking directly of Locke or any other individuals logical conception, he is not directly addressing that one act based on those arguments, but based off of his arguments rhetorical prowess, and thus, ability to manipulate emotion. Such an argument is only successful, however, because, under scrutiny, the argument does refer, even if it does not directly address or precisely lay out, to a logical argument. Thus we see, rhetorical arguments do not operate on modes of 'proving' anything, they are tools to manipulate outcomes. They are complex manipulative enthymemes with logical referents. This is unlike mathematical or logical arguments, of which have the ability to prove, but are neutral, in a vacuum, to any outcome on any individual. This is because mathematical and logical arguments do  not convince people of anything, peoples own subjective interpretation, in interrelation to their own motives and conception of the world, force them to accept or deny facts.

So what does this have to do with Atheism?

The real topic at hand here is 'design?' Despite it's designer jeans and jumbled jargon, it is not the mathematical monolith it purports to be. Specifically, as we must see, we speak of intelligent design, which elevates its illusive enigmas to  precarious heights of which it does not have the foundations to tower.

Within the aforementioned paragraphs we have noted that rhetorical argument are only successful if they refer to logical arguments. It must be known that our usage of refer, function, and so forth, are in line with Frege and Russell's. Likewise, when we say success, we mean be able to accomplish its objective under scrutiny. With this in mind what of the rhetorical argument of which has no logical referent?

They are nonsense. Dangerous tools centered on manipulation. When someone gets on a soap box, and creates an emotionally demanding presentation that is not centered on logic we call them, fascist, nonsensical, illogical, charlatans, deceivers.

So what is intelligent design's logical referent if, by the case of the divine logician, one cannot logically infer the properties of objects outside of logic, and, by logics standards, the universe is that of chaos, flux, and chance? What could possibly be intelligent design's logical referent, if its progenitors lay claim that their designer has superlogical abilities? What is the status of such an argument?

Fascist, nonsensical, illogical, charlataneous, deception.
Resigned design.

Of course, to the keen eye, one might inquire the status of this argument.
- Schwarzwald

Group 3: The Newton of Biology

FQ: Who was the Newton of Biology?
Charles Darwin, pg. 47.

FQ: Does Rosenberg believe that adaptations are "flukes?"
Yes,  Pg. 74.

DQ: Does Newtonian physics banish design from our world? Why and how?

DQ: If God is the designer of evolution, what could have been his motives for such a design? (:])

This is my favorite video, let it be known, of all time, and it is always relevant.

How Nietzsche dealt with death

Since Adam asked...

Thanks for the gift, Fred. Can I return it?

Group 1: Rosenberg 3-4

What foundation offers prize money to academics and scientists who conduct research that attempts to reconcile science with religion?  (p. 45) A: The Templeton Foundation

The essence of natural selection is nature’s passivity and lack of ________.  A: foresight
(p. 56).

Since we're in the Rosenberg chapter on evolution, here's an interesting book-blog from Jerry Coyne.  He's a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.  His book (and blog) are entitled Why Evolution Is True. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How I Deal With Death

I just want to be blunt and honest about how I, an atheist, deals with death.

You have to take in account that I'm pretty stoic in life, so this isn't everybody, just how I am.

I don't cry. If I do, it's a tear and nothing more.

I believe that it's a revolving process when we die,

As Ali A. Rizvi told a friend,

"I know that we continue to exist through the earth. This is my attempt at being euphemistic about your fertilizer theory. As part of this huge reservoir of terrestrial carbon, we die and become part of the earth, which gives rise to new life, as it once gave rise to us. That is also very powerful to me in a more collective, worldly sense.

I also know that I've only been conscious for some 38 years out of the 13.8 billion years that the universe has been in existence. Everything from plankton to dinosaurs and the formation of the UN to the moon landing happened before I was even self-aware. I don't miss those things, nor do I recall that huge chunk of time as horrible or upsetting. I simply can't recall it at all because I didn't exist.
Not knowing anything else, I work on the assumption that after death, we go back into the pre-birth phase. I don't feel like that would bother me any more than it did during those first 13.8 billion years. This is actually a really comforting, peaceful idea when you give it some thought. Especially because it makes me value this little sliver of time I have as a conscious, living being for a few decades a lot more than if I thought it was just transit time to someplace else. It also helps me not take my life or that of others for granted."
Death is hard, but death can also be looked at as something beautiful. Yes it is the end of this life, but it's a way of starting over from our most simplest form, star matter.
Hope that helps in some way.

Group 2 Wrap-up

Well, I can't speak for everyone but I was pleasantly surprised by my test score and I'm sure everyone appreciated all the extra credit awarded. I was really intrigued with where the conversation in the circle was going about how we all deal with death or how to deal with those who are dealing with a death. The whole "time" conversation completely came form left field and threw me off but that's just me.

Daily Quiz

Feb 18

1. Alex Rosenberg says answers to scientific questions don’t come packaged in what form?  

2. What branch of science gives us the “whole truth about reality”? 
3. What are the two basic kinds thing composing everything in the universe?

4. What's Rosenberg's answer to why  we're here?

5. How could reality have been worse?

6. Does Rosenberg claim that physics, "the whole truth about reality," is also the whole truth about humanity?

7. What's Rosenberg's scientistic position on "the purpose of the universe"?

8. A favorite verse from today's scripture in The Good Book?

1. A: stories (p. 7/8). 2.  A: physics  (p. 19/20). 3. fermions and bosons (matter and fields of force)-p.20/21. 4. "Just dumb luck"-p.2. 5. God-p.ix. 6. yes-p.25. 7. There is none-p.43. 8. Histories 1.7, 3.34-36

Hitch's afterlife

Embedded image permalink

Monday, February 17, 2014

Question from Atheist's Guide

Q: How does Rosenberg answer, "Why am I here?"

A: Just dumb luck

DQ from Atheist's Guide

Right at the beginning of the first chapter, he asks a great question, "Do you want stories or reality?"

Me personally, I like knowing that the facts I know are truly facts and the things I don't know are exactly that, things I don't know. I don't need false ideas floating in my head to distract me from what is true in the world.

Group 1: The Atheist's Guide to Reality--Ch. 1 - 2

Alex Rosenberg argues that one problem for science is that the answers to questions don’t come packaged in what form?  A: stories (p. 7)

What branch of science gives us the “whole truth about reality”?  A: physics  (p. 19)

The basic things that everything is made up of are ________ (matter) and__________ (fields of force).  A:  fermions, bosons.  (p. 20)

Here's a nice piece from Stephen Law entitled What Science Can't Tell Us

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I was saving this for later but now seems as good a time as any to bring it out.

Here's a great bit from British show QI, with Stephen Fry performing an action that is so improbable as to be nearly impossible.

Stephen shuffles a deck of cards a couple times.

The probability of any particular order of cards in a standard 52-card deck are 1 in 52 factorial (1/52!), or if you prefer it written longhand, 1 in 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,­000.

And yet, even with those astronomical odds, the cards do in fact end up in the order they do.  Just goes to show that things that are unbelievably improbable, they happen, every time.  Things that have literally almost no chance of happening, do happen.  So remember, if you think that a miracle is just something that is improbable, go to a casino and have your mind blown as miracles happen over and over and over again.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just a nice thought from Hitch

Group #1- Group Project Discussion Board

Hey guys. I randomly came up with a very novel idea regarding faith. I was just perusing some quotes on faith and I came across a quote by John Lennon. That gave me the idea of doing a study of what John Lennon thought about faith. I think it's a cool idea, but let me know what you think about it. I drafted up a little piece to give an idea of what it will sound like.

An Epistemological Observation of John Lennon’s Views Regarding Faith

I think the best way to start stating my epistemological observances of John Lennon’s views on faith is by giving you an idea of what John Lennon is reported to have said on these matters. John Lennon is quoted to have said, “I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?” The quick and easy argument to make would begin by applying certain theories of justification for knowledge. According to Evidentialism, what makes a belief justified in this sense is the possession of evidence.

Group 3's Post During the Exam Abyss

Perhaps crude, but it went viral none the less. Figured it had a home here.

This was also posted yesterday...
"I don't believe in God," he said looking up from the menu. Was he challenging me because he knows I'm a Christian minister, I wondered?
Peter was the husband of a close friend, who had kindly done me a favor. To show my appreciation I was taking him to lunch. Was he intentionally being aggressive? I didn't want to argue. I smiled. "Well, I'm not in the business of conversion," I said, "but for the record, I probably don't believe in the same God you don't believe in," I was hoping to avert hostility and maybe open a dialogue about our understanding of the divine, since he brought it up. He wasn't having it.
"No," he said leaning forward, "I mean I don't believe in any God!" His words pierced the atmosphere. I conciliated. "I'm not attached to the word. 'God' is just a placeholder for the ineffable, call it what you will," I said, trying to find common ground.
"I don't believe in any of that!" He was becoming openly belligerent. I wasn't sure how to proceed. His wife also called herself an atheist, but we'd had a great discussion about theology as well as sex, love, and our life stories on a bus trip all the way from Budapest to Prague. Before I could respond he threw down the gauntlet, "I'm a scientist. I believe in science."

Rosenberg vs. Craig

I'm probably not going to have the patience to sit through this, but if any of you does please post your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Harris vs. Dennett 2: Electric Boogaloo

Some of you may recall Dean's earlier post where he showed Sam Harris's fellow "Horseman" and philosopher on free will, Daniel Dennett, responding sharply and astutely to Harris's stunningly short paperback Free Will.  To summarize, Harris is a reasonably strong believer in Scientific Determinism, and Dennett is a Compatibilist.  Dennett's searing review of Harris's book was brilliant, and I say this for many reasons, certainly not the least of which is that I happen to somewhat agree with Dennett in this matter (see his much-longer paperback Freedom Evolves).  However, I still maintain that I think humans are in a position of distinctly being unable to process the thought of not having any free will, because I think it would essentially unravel our entire world-views.  But maybe that's the next major paradigm shift.  Harris certainly thinks so, and so it's of very little surprise that he got equally pointed in his response to Dennett's review.  Harris says within the first few paragraphs:
"Unfortunately, your review of my book doesn’t offer many reasons for optimism. It is a strange document—avuncular in places, but more generally sneering. I think it fair to say that one could watch an entire season of Downton Abbey on Ritalin and not detect a finer note of condescension than you manage for twenty pages running."
And so begins one of the most epic intellectual thrashings you'll ever see.

The gloves are off.

It's time for round 2.

And this time...it's personal.

Coming soon to a theater near you.

Test 1 Study Guide: Sans Answers

I printed this out for myself, so I might as well post it too.  Test your skill without the answers just a glance away.

Test 1

1. What does Flanagan think is the "hardest question"?

2. What general attitude towards the search for truth and meaning does Flanagan recommend?

3. What is eudaimonics? (OR: What does Flanagan refer to as the empirical-normative inquiry into the nature, causes, and conditions of human flourishing?

4. Name one of Flanagan's sextet of "meaning spaces.”

5. What did Edmund Husserl call the individual instantiation of life among the spaces constituting a Space of Meaning?

6. Flanagan argues that we cannot live fully meaningfully_________.

7. Name one of the High Six virtues that are mandatory for eudaimonia proposed by Peterson and Seligman.

8. In Dennett's attitude and terminology, apparently shared by Flanagan, God is a _______ and natural selection is a ________.

9. Flourishing can't be achieved unless _______ is.

10. In Einstein’s view, what religion offers the best conciliation between science and spirituality?

11.  (T/F) The Dalia Lama, in his book The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, said that if science proved religious claims in Buddhism false, then one must abandon those religious claims.

12. Does Buddhism reject a creator God and a permanent self or soul?

13. What is the view that mental states lack causal efficacy?

14. What can one use to mark off paths that lead to flourishing or paths that don't, while also acknowledging the beauty of what is?

15. What two ancient examples of Eudaimonistic Scientia does Flanagan give?

16. According to the Dalai Lama, what is the aim of Buddhist Psychology?

17. What do some psychologists mean by "positive illusion"?

18. What is the branch of psychology that deals with pleasurable or unpleasurable states of consciousness?

19. How many of us are happy according to most positive psychology books?

20. How do positive psychologists typically distinguish illusion from delusion?

21. (T/F) Flanagan thinks we should discourage false belief and the idea that positive illusions make people happy.

22. What sort of traditional theism can seem to coexist with the scientific image of persons?

23. What's OF's view of theistic epistemologists?

24. What is the most important factor in determining one’s religious beliefs?

25. What Latin word means “to unite or bind together”?

26. What's the main message of Mill's utilitarianism?

27. Happiness, flourishing, and meaning reside in the vicinity of embodying ideals of the human good that connect me to a goal beyond my own personal desires, which, in turn, makes us all “spiritually naturalized” humans at home here on Earth and the greater cosmos.  This is what Flanagan calls _______________________.