Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Social Justice, Gay Marriage, Rightness.

I've supported gay marriage for decades (literally since 1993 when I first heard it was a thing) and thought the constitutional argument was pretty cut and dry. I mean it's the exact argument in Loving applied to gender rather than race. But, nothing happened. All the court cases were against it and every time people voted, they voted against it. Then, a couple years back. Support crept into a majority and like a whirlwind it all came crumbling down.

As much as I would like to believe that a minority with justice on their side can win for the sake of justice itself, I must say that the truth is getting more than half of the citizens in a democracy on your side, seems more effective with regard to social change than being right.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pareidolia in computers.


This is actually pretty awesome. If you train computers to see things, they dream them out of noise.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Religion, science, the pursuit of truth and accountability.

Written elsewhere but to brilliant to let stagnate on some dinky youtube comment.

A) I do craft my replies in part for onlookers rather than the person. I did vaguely assume you were Christian. But, if you compare my reply to you with mine to Wayne, you'll see the distinction of vaguely citing "your religion" and my references to early Christian beliefs was to show that the belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster was on just as strong of theological grounds. Especially with regard to the spiritual reflections of earthly things in the realms of heaven. That in so far as there was an early spiritual belief there would have been divine bodies. As such there could be divine spaghetti which isn't made but for which the spaghetti on Earth is just a fallen flawed reflection of that which is in heaven. My point here wasn't specifically to assign you a religion, but to say that any religion you claim is going to be justifiable as any false religion is justifiable. -- And that's actually a problem.

I will say, however, that there are some forms of pantheism which accept reality as it is, and simply call reality God. Which claims no spiritual nature to reality beyond the numinous, and a personal apotheosis of the universe itself without any claims of personification therein. That religion has a god that exists, and is backed by acceptable evidence; I do not agree that the universe should be a God, but there are those within Scientific Naturalistic Pantheism who don't care they take it only as a personal decision on their part. -- That religion is actually justified well beyond the magical man in the sky kinds of religion or those who think prayers are answered by telepathically interested personal deities. But, for most of the religions whose gods don't actually exist, who have no better evidence for their truth than false religions have for their truth, my argument stands.

What you appear to be describing is awe which the universe actual inspires which doesn't actually seem to require worship of a Judeo-Christian God or Jesus, or actually any sort of magic, just an understanding that we are star stuff and the universe comprehending itself made manifest. Though, I don't see how this doesn't agree that Mormonism and Islam are false religions. Are we really going to be brought before Allah and asked to defend our actions on Earth? Or sent to the lesser of the celestial kingdoms, by God, Jesus and Joseph Smith? These are just things people would make up. And as far as I can tell, even a casual stroll through an insane asylum would prove that faith proves nothing. -- I've never seen faith move mountains, but I have seen what it can do to skyscrapers.

B) Actually they tend to use spirit with things that are clearly false. If Adam and Eve don't die the same day they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge then they died a spiritual death while they lived on another thousand years or so. Harold Camping's rapture didn't come as May 19th came and went, so it became a Spiritual Rapture. The same reply that some of the Millerites had. The word itself doesn't really reflect anything, so it basically means magically X ~= X. It's X is spiritual therefore X = X AND X ~= X. So yeah, Spaghetti on Earth is made of matter. But, Spiritual Spaghetti is not made of matter it's made of spirit and is *still* spaghetti, because why not? The word itself doesn't actually mean anything.

I know the meaning of the words in the various languages. I said in Hebrew it meant breath, soul, etc. I was referring to nĕshamah. (Strong's H5397 rather than H7307). Namely the bit about God breathing in the nostrils of his golem like critter of Adam and making him a living soul/breath/spirit. Pneuma is Greek but has later theological connotations namely that it was said to be the substance of spiritual stuff, such as the Stoics, and with regard to early Christian theology the Greek and Roman philosophical ideas here matter, dating back to Aristotle who held that the Pnuma within sperm caused them to move. I was trying to invoke this tradition when I said "made out of Pneuma".

Matter is made by the Higgs field and the slowing down of baryonic matter with regard to gravity. The standard model is pretty clear here. As well as relativity which correctly notes that matter is made out of energy. We actually have a complete view of this now, and know that it doesn't require spirit (whatever that means) it requires quarks. Originally it was certainly a search for understanding. You will find no lack of knowledge or understanding on my part of that reality. I could go on endlessly about how even some absurd early ideas were actually really good and amazing searches for knowledge. While it might seem strange to look at Aristotle's view that Pnuma caused sperm is part of a long tradition towards ideas of Preformation and attempting to explain how reproduction work. Rather than scoff at these ideas I happily accept that they were great ideas. That Ptolemy was a genius for his theories. That for most of human history any rational logical thinker would have to look at the argument from design and conclude as Paley did that there was, in fact a designer. That even with the holes in it, that was by far the obvious conclusion that rational people would have to take. Views which I have taken a lot of flack for, I'm more than happy to accept that people are simply biased towards knowing what they know. And take for granted that children know more of medicine than the Father of Medicine, that our understanding of the world is not just better today but many millions of times better. People often mistake the ancients for imbeciles and their wrongness for stupidity, but they were geniuses and drawing the best conclusions they could from incomplete data, and if you properly understand that our understanding of the world is largely a *result* of their search for truth and understanding rather than superior to their flawed reasonings we can see that even them going around shooing demons out of people was simply their best explanations at play. That people like Nicolas Malebranche was brilliant when he proposed that the little people who lived in sperm had within them little people in their sperm and on and on back like Russian nesting dolls all the way back to the Fall of Man as explaining not just how biology worked but why the fall of Adam and Eve also doomed all of mankind (because all of mankind was within them). I can show pretty easily that even a lot of great mistakes where brilliantly made, and that there was no malice in the errors. In fact, we all make errors and the faster we accept that they were not stupid for being wrong, and that being wrong is the fastest way to becoming right, and that being wrong feels exactly like being right, we do ourselves a very great favor.

The problem here isn't being wrong. Or claiming that those who looked up in the skies and saw the works of gods embedding little stars on a dome of heaven that must be as strong as metal to keep out the waters of heaven from drowning them. I actually am very happy to accept that given what they knew, those are entirely reasonable conclusions to make. And that merely being wrong is blameless. That Paley's argument was well written and justified. That Hume was right to object to many of the issues in the watchmaker argument and finally to concede that he could find no better explanation. That Ptolemies planets flowing around on circles in circles, as they revolved about the Earth was entirely less wrong than the theories before them. That wrongness is not an absolute but a scale of sorts and religion was once a honest and noble extension of this search.

I am not apathetic on the topic. You will find that I'm actually quite passionate with regards to history and our search for the truth.

The problem here is that religions are false. If one views them in that light we must accept that their time has gone the way of geocentric models. That Jesus shooing demons out of people would have made sense to those people but that isn't how diseases actually work. That the all powerful creator of the world wouldn't have told people that washing their hands and plates was completely unneeded and then later in the very same chapter went to shoo away a demon from people after they admit they are bitches (Mark 7). It isn't that geocentrism is wrong. But, that if religions were true they might have know the way the stars go. And while theology has made a goodly number of attempts to forgive themselves. To say that the Bible teaches how one should go to heaven, and not how the heavens go. It's simply not the case that many of the thoughts and truths are the best that exist today. Most are not really worth our time because we have a much better understanding of reality. We can go ahead and insist that souls exists because ancient people understood that when people stop breathing they lost their lives, they "gave up the ghost" they "exhaled the pneuma". But, we know that bodies are well evolved machines that do and should stop working eventually. That genes combine and operate in such a way to actually build bodies from scratch each time and don't have a little homunculi living within them, that there was no global flood four thousand years ago, but that local cultures invent flood stories because they live near waters and the one in the Bible dates back to the Assyrian story of a man who traveled the world as the gods tried to drown it to save his friend. That there was no vast Israeli empire. That the universe is billions and not thousands of years old. That there is no cosmic ocean in the sky or hard firmament dome which a tower tall enough could reach. -- One should not blame a person for coming to the most reasonable conclusion they had given then information they had at the time. As such, I will defend to no end that Galen was right to think that perhaps sperm was made in the kidneys. But, that when Muhammad copied Galen's work and had Allah the all-powerful all-knowing God explain that sperm comes from the kidneys. It's clear that Muhammad didn't know any better, but also that he was just making it up. That's how gods are formed, they are made up by people within those cultural context. So Vikings make viking gods who reward them for being good vikings, people on volcanic islands invent angry fire gods and providing ocean gods, and the Jews go from an eye for an eye to maybe we should symbolically spill this blood and just pay you in meat for the transgressions against your family, to maybe we should appease the king who lives in the sky with blood sacrifice. And then they run into the Roman pagans who had endless stories about the sons and daughters of the gods. And they invent the blood sacrifice of the son of God. This is exactly what that culture would invent. In actual reality, the blood sacrifice of the creator of the the universe's human body to himself to appease himself doesn't make any sense. What the heck would the creator of the entire universe with more stars in the sky than grains of sand on all the beaches of earth need with the oxygen carrying cells of some well evolved primate on this one dinky planet? -- There would be no need. But, we can easily show that this *is* what people would invent.

My objection isn't the religion was once man's efforts seeking the truth. It's that it's shown itself to be as filled with truth as astrology or alchemy. It makes sense why people might think such things, but our knowledge is so much greater than this now, that accepting such things is not mere wrongness, it requires accepting things that a two minute search on google would easily refute, because our knowledge has come so much further than the nomatic goat farmers who thought every animal in the world would be within walking distance of Noah's boat.