Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cyber-atheist Hell

Just for the sake of supposing, suppose our cyber-atheist friends, when they expire, discover there is a God.

And, worse, that he's as big an asshole as they are.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Friendly Atheist says Trump isn't a True Christian™

"Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta posted Friday that even though Trump pandered to Christians (he means evangelicals) during his campaign, "it's not like (Trump's) act was ever believable.  The man never lived like a 'Christian' and he sure as hell didn't know how to speak their language."

(That's par for the grammar course at his blog.)

If you or I went on Mehta's blog and asserted that Trump is not a true, or real, or genuine Christian (or just plain not a Christian), we'd instantly be leaped on by his comment section angels for allegedly committing the No True Scotsman logical fallacy.  Which we wouldn't be doing, of course, because a logical fallacy is an error in reasoning, not a false or debatable proposition.  For instance, if I say, "No man loves cats," I'd be guilty of making a universal proposition that happens to be false (and easily falsifiable--simply point to a male who loves cats), but I wouldn't be committing a logical fallacy.

However, by Mehta's standards, any "true such-and-such" claim does count as a logical fallacy, which must in fairness include his own example.  (His use of quotes around "Christian" alters nothing in this regard.)  Heck, Mehta even unfavorably compares Trump's Christian creds to Hillary's, as if to suggest that hers are more authentic.  Why is this a problem, especially since I agree with that conclusion?  Because on-line seculars have been shouting for the past ten years or more that, because there are umpteen differing definitions of "Christian," no one definition is better or worse or more authentic than another.  And that we C.'s are too stupid to dig this.  And here's Mehta, deeming Hillary's brand as better.  As more genuine, even.

My, my--the loud sound of bagpipes coming from the FA blog.  (Secular in-joke.)

I expect better from these folks.  Actually, no, I don't.

UPDATE (1/29): Mehta is keeping it up.  Quote: "What happened to caring for the least of these?" (Reference to Trump's ban on refugees.)  Hey, dude, aren't those words from a book you've condemned as vile shit?


Monday, January 23, 2017

Carl Sagan, the great science popularizer, vs. 1846 Sunday School text

Carl Sagan's famous essay, "Pale Blue Dot," is quoted and praised all across the cyber-galaxy, but just how original is it?  Ever wondered that?  How does it stack up, quotation-wise, against the 1846 American Sunday School Union text, The Starry Heavens (The Solar System, Part II)?  Let's find out by comparing select passages between the two texts.  Let's discover what 19th century children were learning about astronomy in Sunday School class in the days before the Civil War.

Sagan quotes are followed by select passages from The Starry Heavens:

Sagan: "The Earth is a small stage in a vast cosmic arena." And, "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark."

The Starry Heavens: "What is the whole of this globe on which we dwell compared with the solar system, which contains a mass of matter so many millions of times greater?  What is it in comparison with the hundred millions of suns and worlds which, by the telescope, have been descried through the starry regions?"

Sagan: "Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one other, how fervent their hatreds.  Thinks of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

The Starry Heavens: "What, then, is a kingdom, a province, or a baronial territory, of which we are as proud as if we were the lords of the universe, and for which we engage in so much devastation and carnage?  What are they, when set in competition with the glories of the sky?"

Sagan: "Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light."

The Starry Heavens: "(The objects connected with astronomy) show us what an insignificant being--what a mere atom, indeed, man appears amidst the immensity of creation!"

Sagan: “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.”

The Starry Heavens: "We have reason to believe that the most exalted beings in the universe--those who are furnished with the most capacious powers, and who have arrived at the greatest perfection in knowledge--are distinguished by a proportional share of humility."

We close with a highly ironic Sagan quote: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths."   Do those "conventional faiths" include 19th century American Christianity?