Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cicero's dialogue on Natural Religion

De Natura Deorum This bit, from the introduction by H. Rackham, pp. viii-ix, sounds like what I've heard of Gnosticism:
Stoic Theology.—The Stoics, on the contrary, held that the universe is controlled by God, and in the last resort is God. The sole ultimate reality is the divine Mind, which expresses itself in the world-process. But only matter exists, for only matter can act and be acted upon; mind therefore is matter in its subtlest form, Fire or Breath or Aether. The primal fiery Spirit creates out of itself the world that we know, persists in it as its heat or soul or 'tension,' is the cause of all movement and all life, and ultimately by a universal conflagration will reabsorb the world into itself. But there will be no pause: at once the process will begin again, unity will again pluralize itself, and all will repeat the same course as before. Existence goes on for ever in endlessly recurring cycles, following a fixed law or formula (Aoyos – [actually those are supposed to be the greek characters for ‘logos’]); this law is Fate or Providence, ordained by God: the Stoics even said that the 'Logos' is God. And the universe is perfectly good: badness is only apparent, evil only means the necessary imperfection of the parts viewed separately from the whole.
The Stoic system then was determinist: but in it nevertheless they found room for freedom of the will. Man's acts like all other occurrences are the necessary effects of causes; yet man's will is free, for it rests with him either willingly to obey necessity, the divine ordinance, or to submit to it with reluctance. His happiness lies in using his divine intellect to understand the laws of the world, and in submitting his will thereto.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Helpful Hints for Young Athletes

For those who want to be stronger, faster and higher flying than I ever got to be, I have two helpful hints: 1. Gymnastics/acrobatics and powerlifting don't mix. Not well, anyway. If you're going to switch back and forth, make sure you're sufficiently recovered and mind your form. 2. Make sure your bowels are clear before doing any heavy lifting. No, I never messed myself during any athletic endeavor (though I've heard stories), but a full bowel has - more than a few times - acted like my enemy's buddy getting down on all-fours behind me as hostilities escalated in front. Heavy lifting with a full bowel puts excessive strain on the spine, is what I'm saying.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

WOD: indefeasible

I'll just have to send you here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Robert Ingersoll may well be the most inspirational writer I've ever read.

Quote from "Heretics and Heresies":
The real Bible is not the work of inspired men, nor prophets, nor apostles, nor evangelists, nor of Christs. Every man who finds a fact, adds, as it were, a word to this great book. It is not attested by prophecy, by miracles or signs. It makes no appeal to faith, to ignorance, to credulity or fear. It has no punishment for unbelief, and no reward for hypocrisy. It appeals to man in the name of demonstration. It has nothing to conceal. It has no fear of being read, of being contradicted, of being investigated and understood. It does not pretend to be holy, or sacred; it simply claims to be true. It challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores every reader to verify every line for himself. It is incapable of being blasphemed. This book appeals to all the surroundings of man. Each thing that exists testifies of its perfection. The earth, with its heart of fire and crowns of snow; with its forests and plains, its rocks and seas; with its every wave and cloud; with its every leaf and bud and flower, confirms its every word and the solemn stars, shining in the infinite abysses, are the eternal witnesses of its truth.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A quote from Rober Ingersoll

[Science] found the world at the mercy of disease and famine; men trying to read their fates in the stars, and to tell their fortunes by signs and wonders; generals thinking to conquer their enemies by making the sign of the cross, or by telling a rosary. It found all history full of petty and ridiculous falsehood, and the Almighty was supposed to spend most of his time turning sticks into snakes, drowning boys for swimming on Sunday, and killing little children for the purpose of converting their parents. It found the earth filled with slaves and tyrants, the people in all countries downtrodden, half naked, half starved, without hope, and without reason in the world. Such was the condition of man when the morning of science dawned upon his brain, and before he had heard the sublime declaration that the universe is governed by law. For the change that has taken place we are indebted solely to science--the only lever capable of raising mankind. Abject faith is barbarism; reason is civilization. To obey is slavish; to act from a sense of obligation perceived by the reason, is noble. Ignorance worships mystery; Reason explains it: the one grovels, the other soars.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

John W. Loftus

From Why I Became an Atheist... uh, I... Oh, here it is.  I had printed out a page from the free pdf on his webpage.  It's on page 9-10:
William Lane Craig explains geographical religious diversity by arguing, in his own words, “it is possible that God has created a world having an optimal balance between saved and lost and that God has so providentially ordered the world that those who fail to hear the gospel and be saved would not have freely responded affirmatively to it even if they had heard it.” Craig argues that if this scenario is even “possible,” “it proves that it is entirely consistent to affirm that God is all-powerful and all-loving and yet that some people never hear the gospel and are lost.” [5] Notice him retreating to what is merely “possible?” He’s trying to explain the evidence of global religious diversity away. The probability that not one of the billions of people who have not heard the gospel would respond if they did hear the gospel can probably be calculated, if missionaries kept records of their efforts. To claim what he does against the overwhelming evidence of missionary efforts belies the facts. Contrary to Craig, when we look at the billions of people who have never been given a chance to be “saved” because of “when and where they were born,” his scenario seems extremely implausible, to say the least.
Here he is on Hell and Psychology (p. 33),
I read Four Views on Hell, ed. William Crockett, and came away thinking “conditional immortality” was the preferred option (defended by Clark Pinnock). This is an important conclusion when it comes to rethinking my faith—for otherwise my questions would have been hamstrung by a fear of everlasting punishment in hell if I got it wrong. The loss of the fear of an eternal conscious punishment allowed me to pursue my doubts. Another key assumption is that faith has nothing to fear from the truth—so I pursued my questions with intensity. [I have since come to deny the existence of such a hell—conditional or metaphorical. It just doesn’t square with what Freud has taught us about the depths of our subconscious motivations. Because of Freud we now know that people do bad deeds because of faulty thinking patterns and experiences that happened even before the age of accountability—we know this!

Prior to Freud actions were judged prima facie as indicative of people’s conscious deliberate attempt to be bad. We also know that once we understand these subconscious motivations and background experiences that we can find a love for people who commit evil deeds. Since God understands all of these hidden motives, past experiences, and faulty thinking patterns, then he completely understands why people do what they do. Hence, in a post-Freudian world, we can no longer talk about a wrathful vengeful God who seeks our destruction because we disobey our parents, shoplift a tool, or tell a lie to escape a confrontation (I use these easy examples here because examples like Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler, Stalin, are harder for us to comprehend—but only to us, not to God, who understands all, and cannot help but love all, since religious traditions abound in teaching us that God is love.)].
Oh, btw, the pdf is an abridged version of the book for sale on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The is from the Mises Institute's _The_Turgot_Collection_

The PDF, page 473, which the introduction to the chapter "To Voltaire" in the Correspondence section.  Tell me this doesn't sound like someone we know.
Turgot corresponded with many of leading thinkers of the Enlightenment, including Voltaire, Condorcet, and Hume, and these letters disclose important aspects of his thought. He strongly condemns the French utilitarian philosopher Helvétius for reducing all human motives to self-interest. To the contrary, human beings display strong sympathy for others. Although morality helps people achieve happiness, it must be based on justice, not a narrow conception of self-interest. Turgot left no doubt about the contents of morality founded on this basis. It requires equal rights for everyone. He warns against confusing this conception with rule by the majority, which can, in his view, lead to a destruction of liberty worse, because less easily changed, than despotism. A prime mistake in thinking about morality is to suppose that nations have interests apart from the individuals who live in them. If one correctly considers the interests of individuals, it is clear that absolute freedom of commerce and avoidance of war are required.

Friday, June 21, 2013

UPB confusion

It seems to me that the majority of objections to Universally Preferable Behavior that I've seen, stem from a belief that morality MUST have a crapload of baggage attached. People can't believe that it's really just "Don't hit, don't steal, use your words." Universalized. Force may be used to stop hitting and stealing, and failing to persuade people to help you is, de facto, ostracism.

Defensive force must be proportional, which, I'm afraid, can only be defined by experiment.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Richard Carrier's responses upon rereading the Bible as an adult

From his autobiographical essay, From Taoist to Infidel,
I could go on at length about the many horrible passages that praise the immoral, the cruel, as the height of righteous goodness. It does no good to try in desperation to make excuses for it. A good and wise man's message would not need excuses. It follows that the Bible was written neither by the wise nor the good. And the New Testament was only marginally better, though it too had its inexcusable features, from commands to hate (Luke 14:26) to arrogantly sexist teachings about women (1 Timothy 2:12), from Jesus saying he "came not to bring peace, but the sword," setting even families against each other (Matthew 10:34-36), to making blasphemy the worst possible crime, even worse than murder or child molesting (Matthew 12:31-32). It, too, supported slavery rather than condemning it (Luke 12:47, 1 Timothy 6:1-2). Worse, its entire message is not "be good and go to heaven," itself a naive and childish concern (the good are good because they care, not because they want a reward), but "believe or be damned" (Mark 16:16, Matthew 10:33), a fundamentally wicked doctrine. The good judge others by their character, not their beliefs, and punish deeds, not thoughts, and punish only to teach, not to torture. But none of this moral truth is in the Bible, and the New Testament had none of the humanistic wisdom of the Tao Te Ching which spoke to all ages, but instead drones on about subjection to kings and acceptance of slavery, while having no knowledge of the needs of a democratic society, of the benefits of science, or the proper uses of technology. It even promotes superstition instead of science, with all its talk about demonic possession and faith healing and speaking in tongues, and assertions that believers will be immune to poison (Mark 16:17-18). It is plagued with a general obscurity and ambiguity, and illogicality, which I had already noted as a child, and though I did understand more and saw it as less confused than I once had, the improvement was minimal and not encouraging. It still taught a morality that is unlivable, and above all contained not a hint of humor or a mature acceptance of sexuality or anything distinctly and naturally human at all.
Cool, the links transferred over.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where've you been all my life?

I've never heard of Dave Hitt before.  I'm impressed.

r · b>c: Nature Says: Keep Your Family Close.

The Altruism Equation, by Lee Alan Dugatkin

r = genetic related-ness
b = benefit
c = cost

That's the rule William Hamilton figured out in 1964 to explain altruistic behavior.  It's been tested and upheld in many experiments and studies since.

Humans, of course, have Reason and can overcome genetic heritage, but I think we're generally foolish to try.  That is, we should not try to overcome our tendency to love our family (unless they prove themselves unlovable), nor should we expect altruistic acts of others outside of their families.

Quicky thoughts.  I can't imagine I'll stop thinking about this, so you can expect more on it when I have time.

One thought right now: families are natural - institutions aren't.  I see a use for this knowledge in the Homeschooling movement.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Note to self: check out Alan Watts


An Objectivist take on Dawkins

Richard Dawkins trapped in Ill-Information of Economic and Political Memes

The author needs to reread her writings before she posts them.  The thoughts are brilliant - the execution leaves something to be desired (though I've seen much worse).
In 2001, Richard Dawkins was invited to express his ideas for Foundation for the Future. In his speech, Dawkins acknowledged that one effective way to abort any global crisis and tragedy of commons is to respect property rights of individuals and individuals should not only get all benefits of their property, they should also be responsible for the costs and losses; he suggested that recognition of property right as a natural right can be said as one of the reason for success of human species. Obviously, he was supporting the libertarian idea of individual rights and free market4 . At that point, it seemed that Richard Dawkins has clearly overcome the economic meme of socialism and cultural meme of altruism as a supreme good. However, he was still confused with the illogical information he attained through irrational memes as in 2008, he suddenly changed his view and in the documentary, “The genius of Charles Darwin,” he mentioned that “paying taxes” is an example of human altruism and it is good5

It was pretty clear at that instance that Richard Dawkins not only failed to refine the illogical economic information he had attained through irrational memes, he also failed to refine the illogical and ill-philosophical information he attained through those irrational memes.
In his documentary, Nice Guys Finish First, Richard Dawkins successfully explained that co-operation offers better chance than selfishness with the help of the computer program ‘Tit for Tat’ whose basic four conditions were mentioned by Richard Dawkins as13
1)Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate.
2)If provoked, the agent will retaliate.
3)The agent is quick to forgive.
4)The agent must have a good chance of competing against the opponent more than once.

A close analysis will establish that the program Tit for Tat exactly establishes the libertarian theory and principle of Non-Aggression Principle. Non-Aggression Principle14 is the base of Libertarianism which suggests that kindness, charity, co-operation, compassion, and forgiveness are essential characteristics of a libertarian. However, Non-aggression principle also asserts that if provoked or attacked, or aggressed, the individual will retaliate and may counter-attack. The idea of free market libertarianism is essentially based on the condition that unless provoked, a free market producer, supplier, consumer, will cooperate with each other and the whole society. This is the reason why Anarcho-capitalists suggest that there is no need of monopoly over initiation of force because initiation of force is strictly immoral and unacceptable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


It almost literally kills me when I feel the need to keep secrets.  Or find out that I have been feeling that need and acting on it.

On that, here's a quote from the great co-discoverer of Marginal Utility, William Stanley Jevons,

It would not be easy to say offhand whether every action which is not honest is dishonest, or whether there may not be actions of an intermediate character. The rule is that wherever the question is one of degree or quantity a medium is possible, and the subject belongs rather to the science of quantity than to simple logic; where the question is one of the presence or absence of a quality, there cannot be more than two alternatives…

That's from Elementary Lessons in Logic.  The best way to get it is google it.  The Mises Institute has it as a free PDF.  The quote is from page 24.

So here's where I'm at:

Brutal honesty requires me not to accept belief in things for which there is no, or insufficient, evidence.  So, I don't accept fallacious arguments for anything supernatural, nor have I ever seen non-fallacious arguments for them.  What I'd like to be the case has no bearing on what is real.

So they call me an atheist.

I don't respect claims to authority by those who haven't demonstrated their expertise, whether they be teachers, presidents, kings, UN Secretary Generals, any member of any hierarchy (bureaucrats, middle-managers, etc), police, soldiers, prophets, priests or parents.  Or siblings.

Respect at a job requires competence at that job.  Competence (or even brilliance or genius) at one job, does not imply competence at anything else.  Newbs who won't train must be fired.

Most of those jobs above are too broad in their attempted scope to allow for any training whatsoever.  The jobs for which training is actually possible are the ones that are actually useful and their current organization in hierarchies must be reorganized so as to remove control from power and glory grubbers who lie about the value of their contributions.

The basic principle of that reorganization is the Non-Aggression Principle.

So they call me and anarchist and anti-family.  I'll wear the first two labels, atheist and anarchist, with some degree of pride, though they're not perfectly accurate.  I don't like agnostic, because it gives the illusion of respect to theists.  Faith is not respectable whether it's in God, government, ghosts, ufos or Dialectical Materialism.

Gotta go.

Your child is not yours

He (or she) is a rental. 

Her permanent owner is her future self.

There will be stiff penalties to pay if you don't return your child to his future self in good order.

Actually, it's more like a stock holder. 

Remember the Parable of the Talents.

H/T Stefan Molyneux on the question of whether (note spelling - not weather) your children are your property.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ides of March, People!

Have you stabbed your local dictator yet?  Time's a-wastin'!

(Seriously, though, don't stab anyone I wouldn't stab.  WWAtOWD?)

Update: Time is celebrating with me!