Sunday, 31 August 2014

Blatant Physics Errors

In the "everything requires a cause" thread especially, and also to some extent in other threads, there have been some rather egregious comments (many from Flynn, but he's far from the only offender) indicating complete ignorance of particle physics or nuclear physics. This post is for pointing them out in the comments, and supplying corrections (and/or appropriate mockery).

(Errors primarily caused by adherence to Aristotelian physics can go in the other thread.)

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Aristotelian Contradiction Game

Given the boringness of other recent threads, I thought we might try an experiment.

The rules of this game are:

  1. Quote (preferably with link) to some particularly egregious Aristotelian or Thomist claim about cause and effect, formal or final causes, natural law ethics or whatever other obsolete concept shows up. This can be from the SN comments or from any other site.
  2. State a simple counterexample, either in the form of a physical object or process that violates the claimed principle, or in the form of an equally good Aristotelian explanation of why the opposite result should occur instead.
  3. Other commenters can then agree or disagree with the validity of your example.
  4. Please only do one example per top-level comment, and please don't do top-level comments otherwise.

I'll probably do a few to kick off...

Estranged Notions: The Stillbirth of Science in Arabia

Final stop on the Trasancos and Jaki Tour:

The Stillbirth of Science in Arabia

Monday, 4 August 2014

Estranged Notions: Richard Dawkins and the God of the Old Testament

Today's post:

Richard Dawkins and the God of the Old Testament

As usual, the elephant in the room goes unremarked: the Old Testament (specifically the parts under discussion here) is not factual history but propaganda. Evolution may be harsh and amoral, but it really happened; we are the result of hundreds of millions of years of tooth-and-claw survival. But rather than deify evolution and worship its values, we have the option—some would say the only right option on meeting a god—of killing it and taking its powers for our own use.

The Old Testament God has no such excuse. The stories of genocides were almost certainly not told because they actually happened, but rather because the compilers of the OT regarded these genocidal commands as being consistent with the kind of god that they wanted; they embraced the idea of slaughter rather than rejecting it. (Archaeology gives us a history of the Levant which is completely at odds with the OT stories until sometime after the time of Solomon; we obviously can't prove that something didn't happen, but we can establish that the context of the genocide stories does not fit with the historical context of any plausible time at which they could have occurred.)

So what path to choose? Worship of a God whose supposedly inspired literature contains fictional atrocities, or look at the cold facts of evolution and say, “yes, this is where we came from, and we need to understand the legacy it has left us; but it no longer dictates our future”?