Monday, March 30, 2009

Academic stupidity

I try to be understanding of students. I know that society at large tends to downplay intelligence and science. I have little respect for people like Houston Friend(I'm going to assume that the person is male and, in fact, named Houston). I don't know Houston, but as he posts on the Arizona State University college paper website, I have gotten to know a little bit about him since he posted this interesting article complaining about a poor grade on a paper. Why did he get his poor mark? What excuse did his dastardly instructor use to tear down this poor person's paper?
I soon perused the plethora of red marks throughout the paper and began to notice generally why I did poorly. The principle reason I got a C was because I didn’t have enough “evidence,” as this particular paper required a certain amount of references to sources read throughout the semester.
That sounds perfectly reasonable. If the paper was supposed to be researched, arguing adequately in the realms of reason and philosophy relative to the subject instead of actually presenting evidence will not cut it. I wonder what the subject of the class was. I'm inclined to say biology, and I'll present my evidence soon.
Houston has some odd beliefs. Among them:
I think we have been accustomed to perceive intelligence as a product of one’s ability to present concrete evidence, especially scientifically. Not to say this is completely wrong or ineffective, but I think we must consider the possibility of metaphysical realities. And maybe, just maybe, we live in world that can’t always be explained rationally.
Well, Houston, the first problem is that we can, in fact, explain the world we live in rationally. The reason James Randi has never paid out his million dollar prize is because NO ONE has yet demonstrated a supernatural reality. No one has plausibly recorded an event which cannot be explained through science. This is the reason atheists exist. It is the reason I am an atheist. Pony up the proof, or walk away. I have no time in my life to entertain the delusions of people who can't or won't think rationally.
This seems like an odd thing to be arguing about. I mean, what class could he be railing about? I doubt an English class would require multiple sources throughout a semester(unless it was a scientific writing class, in which case Houston has even less of my sympathy). He leaves a clue, though:
So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.
Ah, I see. It was likely a biology class. Why? Because Houston has complained about ID before, in this lovely article:
Ben Stein’s documentary “Expelled,” which opened in theaters this time last year, exposed the slow but effective disintegration of ID (Intelligent Design) in education, especially secondary education. The documentary clearly illuminates the fact that ID and evolution are essentially only theories, and that if professors have been fired for even identifying ID as on the same plane as evolution, that’s a concerning injustice.
Perhaps Houston ought to look into the facts about Ben's little "documentary."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I can agree with Luther here

It's the truth.

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but--more frequently than not --struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. - Martin Luther

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ockham's Razor

What is Ockham's(or Occam's) Razor? It is a principal of thought, which is as follows:
"Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."

Now, this is commonly paraphrased as follows:
"The explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory."

And, finally, is boiled down to the idea that the simplest explanation for an event is usually correct.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I wandered by Jacob Stein's silly blog again. He had an entry entitled "God - The great explanatory principal." He starts with this line:
"[Occam’s Razor – the simplest answer is the best]"

The whole point of it boils down to this line:
"The simplest answer is: God did it."

He fails to see that suggesting a supernatural entity as a answer for the supposed problems he presents(all of which have completely natural answers to begin with) is a complete violation of Ockham's razor: he's suggesting an non-physical entity where one is not required for explanation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rape, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Well, it's old news by now. A 9 year old girl in Brazil turned up at a hospital complaining of stomach pains. She was examined, and it was determined that she was pregnant with twins. Apparently, she was sexually abused by her step father since she was six years old.
Now, this is a sad situation. The girl was deemed much too small physically to carry a child to term, let alone two. So, the doctors, with the consent of the mother, performed an abortion.
First, the Catholic Church in Brazil attempted to bring legal action against the girl to force her to keep the children. And after the abortion was performed, they also threatened to have her charged with murder.
Then, they excommunicated everyone involved in performing the abortion except for the girl, deeming her too young(yet, somehow old enough to bear children. Go figure). There was one glaring exception to the list: the stepfather.
You see, raping a child is not a sin that one can be excommunicated for in the Catholic religion. The man who precipitated this whole sad affair by sexually molesting a child in his care(and if reports are correct, her handicapped older sister as well) can return to perfect standing with the Church with a simple confession. Meanwhile, the mother and the doctors who were trying to protect her daughter and very likely save her life must seek the equivalent of a papal pardon if they wish(for whatever twisted reason) to return to such a cradle of filth.
I would hope that this incident has opened the eyes of some Catholics to the dogmatic insanity of their religion.