Pascal’s Climate Change Wager.

I know the title is confusing so no, Pascal never made such a wager, but we all know his stance on gambling with God.  The ultimate bluff over eternity one might say.  

 

  1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

 

The natural conclusion, to what Daniel Dennett would surely call a poor logic pump, is that we should believe, because if the sky king does not exist and we lived in servitude the whole of our lives we have lost nothing.  Casting the myriad of problems with this oft debunked stream of logic aside let’s play a game with the very people who use this to validate their beliefs.

 

It is regularly shown in all forms of media that there is a strong correlation to conservatism, religiosity, and the denial of climate change or global warming.  Within this group of scientific repudiators and devout, God fearing, holy rollers we are quite likely to run into Pascal and his trusty tool of insincere faith.

 

Let us now send it back shall we?

  1. Climate change is, or Climate change is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that Climate Change is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that Climate Change is. There is here an extension of the fragile ecosystem within which we live, a relatively cool space between ice ages, and more time for us to find a solution to future changes that could make Earth almost uninhabitable.  The Chance of gain is one of finite probabilities measuring in the possibility that we may stave off global catastrophe over assuming inevitable destruction or speeding headlong into that pending doom
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

 

Simply put, what do you have to lose by believing in climate change? If climate change is inevitable, uncontrollable, divine, or doesn’t exist and we spent our time respecting the earth’s resources what have we lost?

#17: DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God”

Listen Here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup

This week is a first us here at Cellar Door Skeptics, a formal debate on the topic “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God?” Chris Hanna will be taking the moderator position in an effort to quell the fire and the flames between his co-host Christopher Tanner and our guest, Aaron Furlong. Aaron will be taking the positive with a strong background in presuppositional Christian apologetics and Christopher will be representing the skeptics and atheists who believe there simply just isn’t enough evidence.

Check out the link below for both of the presenters bios along with the rules for the debate.

Segments
——
00:00 Debate Introductions / Rules
05:21 Aaron’s Introduction
13:06 Christopher’s Introduction
21:00 Aaron Questions and Christopher Answers
37:58 Christopher Questions and Aaron Answers
54:11 Aaron’s Monologue Rebuttal
58:57 Christopher’s Monologue Rebuttal
65:00 Back and Forth with Christopher and Aaron
83:22 Audience Questions for Christopher and Aaron
113:30 Aaron’s Closing Statement
118:40 Christopher’s Closing Statement

Episode: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup
Subscribe: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CellarDoorSkeptics
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/user/8326690/episodes/feed
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cellar-door-skeptics/id1044088575?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Website: http://cellardoorskeptics.com

Bios: http://wp.me/p6yn1U-1Yp

Links
——
Aaron Furlong
http://proofthatgodexists.org
——
Christopher Tanner
http://www.justinsweh.com/#!debatespresentations/cemp

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2013/08/14/andrews-vs-schieber-2/
http://treesearch.org/debate/summary-giunta-schieber-debate-2014
http://www.apologetics315.com/2013/08/john-frame-interview-transcript.html#more
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Presuppositionalism
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Begging_the_question
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evoscales_01
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

A weekend of collecting, sorting and cleaning Ordovician-Period marine fossils from the Arbuckle Mountains has got me thinking once again about one of the strangest beliefs held by fundamentalist Christians: that about 4,400 or so years ago, the deity who had created the universe a couple of millennia earlier got all pissed off and wiped out almost everything in a global flood. I suppose that would have been a good enough belief for someone living in the Middle Ages, but its prestige has been completely undercut by the science of geology, beginning with its birth in the late 17th century. By around the middle of the 19th century, the only people who still took the Noahic Flood seriously were circuit-riding evangelists and the crowds of superstitious, snake-handling bumpkins who followed them. In most cases, their backwardness can clearly be attributed to the lack of general education.

 

During the second half of the 19th century, public education began to rectify some of the illiteracy and ignorance that had characterized the frontier population at large; this program went into full swing after the Civil War and the U.S. gradually began to show signs of a more general secular awakening. That awakening looked frightening to many people (not least to the preachers whose incomes were thereby threatened), and it was out of that fear that fundamentalism was born late in that century.

 

Unlike the frontier revivalism that characterized much of the U.S. earlier in the 19th century, fundamentalism was in some respects a self-consciously “modern” movement. It was born out of a psychological conflict: the wish to enjoy the fruits of modernity (making necessary a kind of lip-service to the sciences that made those benisons possible) while swearing allegiance to the literal truth of the Bible – one of the strangest notions that’s ever been hatched by the unquiet mind of man. Since the findings of science were obviously at odds with biblical cosmology and history, fundamentalists were at pains to debunk those findings.
Continue reading “Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…”

From the Bones of the Past We Can Find Purpose in the Future

David Goza stops by to lay down the smack.

This one’s for Jonny B., who’s been on my mind.

A visit to the Museum of Osteology can precipitate quite a train of thought, provided one is open to that pleasure. I’m fortunate to live a mere 20 miles away, and pay it a visit now and then. I always spend a good deal of time tracing limbed vertebrate evolution through various ancient and modern skeletons on display, admiring especially the universal template shared by amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals –a template that begins with a shoulder or hip, then includes one long bone, then an elbow or knee, then two bones, then a wrist or ankle, then lots of bones, then digits (which have become fused in quite a few cases, in the wings of birds and the hooves of ruminants).Yesterday I gazed upon skulls and skeletons of our vertebrate kin, remote both in time and in degree of cousinhood, and a sense of continuity, of being embedded in an everlasting flow of events simply took hold of me. It was a transcendent experience that has great staying power. I’m moved to share some of this with you, even while realizing that I can’t possibly capture it in words.

 

It was gazing into the empty eye-sockets of Australopithecus africanus, of Homo habilis, of Homo erectus, of Homo heidelbergensis, of Homo neanderthalensis, that unleashed a flood of reflection on “selfhood.” Was that sense of identity as strong in some of those ancestors and cousins I just named as it is in us? Does an elephant have a sense of self? Does a dolphin?

See the Original Post Here
Continue reading “From the Bones of the Past We Can Find Purpose in the Future”

An Atheist Participates in Evolution

© Deafilosophy

An argument made consistently for the existence of God, and consequently against the scientific, agnostic, or atheistic position, is that evolution is a false theory.  I have heard noodly logic and word soup at every level of this claim from “It is completely impossible,”  to, “There is no evidence,” to, “There has been microevolution but not macro evolution,” and finally, “There are no transitional fossils.” (Coincidentally, this particular claim frequently comes from people who have never looked for them and stare blankly when you mention Archaeopteryx).

 

I mention these a priori because I wish to concentrate on a specific time scale or event that widely solidifies faith and belief for some people.  The birth of a child is regularly used as evidence of the gift of creation, the hand of God, or a miracle – that biological materials from two separate animals can combine to create a wholly independent (in time) creature.  I’ve chosen those nouns intentionally to include the entirety of birth in the animal kingdom, of which we are a part and not the top as we are frequently reminded by microorganisms (quite a limited dominion over all, but I digress).

 

http://i.imgur.com/7s0C9F3.gifv#embed

Yes, that is my actual baby.  Visualized in real time with the help of science, physics, and a willing female human.

 

Now, onto the meaning of that title.  “An atheist participates in evolution” does not really imply anything, as I would simply wager the number of people who accept the concept of atheism over agnosticism and theism probably agree that we are all quite eagerly participating in evolution.  But in this case, I have a more playful meaning.  I have recently created a human inside my wife (I know that sounds strange but I think it is fun to say and read).  We are expecting a little girl in mid October and this level of grown-up excitement is truly new to me.
Continue reading “An Atheist Participates in Evolution”

Dreaming of Darwin: Fundamentalist Night Terrors

Some of the great scientific discoveries have been syntheses that emerged more or less organically from the systematic crunching of a compendium of data accumulated over time. Plate tectonics furnishes an illustrative example: the Grand Unified Theory of Geology was made possible by a great many observations made over the course of a couple of centuries, some of them serendipitous (e.g. the discovery of deep-ocean trenches and mid-ocean ranges during the submarine era). Put enough data like that in a room with enough smart people and a really big idea is sooner or later going to take shape, in a manner that kind of resembles abiogenesis.

 

Others have been leaps of pure intuition so striking as to seem truly original. One of them is Darwin’s theory of evolution. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when the idea of speciation driven by natural selection occurred to him. That’s got to have been one of the greatest OMG moments in history. It must damn dear have stopped his heart: imagine having a single insight that explains everything you’re interested in! He must immediately have recognized how revolutionary an idea that was, and how much resistance and rancor it would incur. No wonder he sat on the idea for two decades before going to press with it – and even then, only out of concern of having his thunder stolen.
Continue reading “Dreaming of Darwin: Fundamentalist Night Terrors”

Human Nature: An Issue of Inheritance

Read more from David HERE

What are we to make of human nature? The answer depends on which story of birth is believed. Birthing stories are about identifying those attributes that continue on from the mother-figure or simply that which comes before (Turner, 1996). This is a relation of cause/effect, where something comes from having causal connections to what it becomes and manifests in the world. Whether we speak of “coming out of” or “emerging,” as in “his actions came out of a sense of fear,” we are ascribing the power of causation through the linkage. Where a person believes humanity came out of will largely determine the characteristics associated with being human.

 

On the one hand is an evolutionary origin, where our inheritance is an incremental accrual of adaptive features in relation to particular environments. On the other is a monolithic origin, dually instantiated by humanity being either fallen and predisposed to destruction or benevolent and with the right context will inevitably pursue progress. The first is usually explored through science, notably evolutionary sociobiology and psychology, whereas the latter two can be found in mainline fundamentalist religious ideologies and liberal liberation-type theologies, respectively. Interestingly while humanity as evolutionary construction is usually found in the domain of science, contemplative spiritual traditions and mindfulness training also explore humanity through this rubric.
Continue reading “Human Nature: An Issue of Inheritance”

If I were god

If I were god, I would have set the universe in motion from an easily discoverable point of creation. I wouldn’t have told primitive beings through mental meditation techniques the importance of the origins story. To proclaim the beginning of life I would have created a pillar indestructible and visible to all those who wanted to view it

 

If I were god, I would have created one language that humans could all speak. It would be easily understood and without nuisance to learn. I would have enlightened man to garner the power of this language in order to prevent the division of language barriers quite unlike the biblical story of the tower of Babel where I purposely confused mankind

 

If I were god, the world would not have natural disasters that kill millions of people. If I felt the need to end the lives of millions I would proclaim aloud why; I would not take the innocent, but focus on those that went against my commands. I would write it in the sky or appear simultaneously to everyone to make this proclamation to allow time for repentance and redemption.

 

If I were god, I would I would make it known to man every time he asked me. There wouldn’t be individual visions but one consolidated vision give to those who ask where I am. Humans would know that I am real, not by having to develop and retool old philosophies, but by establishing one never changing philosophy. There would be no need for churches of varying types because everyone would know what I stood for and who I am.
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Moving the Values of Myth: A Reflection on Easter

© David Teachout

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From moment to moment, our lives can embody any of the multiplicity of purposes that we can identify with. The stories we tell, from socially created myths to benign exaggerations expressed to friends and colleagues, project the particular purpose we want to make front and center. This can be due to a desire to express an idea to another or to make sure we’re on the same track we first set out upon. Whatever that purpose is, the values that come along for the ride, both in the telling and the type of story chosen, do so in the form the story takes. Thankfully stories are more than single-use thought-devices, else we would never be able to reuse them or get something new regardless of repetition. Because of a shared human experience, we are able to remember lessons imparted through literature or voice because they continue to resonate with new situations. Importantly, this allows us to determine whether the form the value took before is how we’d like it to continue. Take the example of a father telling a joke, a form of story, about how he’d scare his daughter’s date with shotgun in hand. The value on hand is paternal care, a value most of us hold in some fashion and have no problem promoting. However, the form it takes in the joke makes that value so prominent that it overshadows any other, for instance respect and personal integrity. As time has gone on the joke is no longer the best form to express paternal care, precisely because the values of respect and integrity have increased in significance in association with that situation. Consider it like a movable hierarchy, where the original story form presented paternal care at the top of the pyramid and respect and integrity being derived and below it. It’s not that respect and integrity didn’t exist, it’s just that rather than being equal, they were subservient to the form of paternal care being presented.

 

I know of no situation where a person’s values have utterly disappeared, though certainly they will rise and fall in conscious consideration as time and experience go by. I grew up with stories, my father sending me and my siblings to sleep with short made-up stories that imparted humor or whatever lesson he’d considered that day. I am also a voracious reader and, like the bed-time stories the form they take has changed over the years. There came a point when the bedtime stories stopped and simplistic fiction no longer sufficed. I still held the same values of honesty and valor, dedication to an ideal and perseverance in the face of adversity, but the way those values stood in form had become more complicated. For others the original form no longer made any sense.
Continue reading “Moving the Values of Myth: A Reflection on Easter”