Random Links & Snippets #5

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Sorry for the two-week absence. Sometimes other interests take center stage. I intend to catch back up to the few conversations still percolating, but it’s about time for another Random Links & Snippets post.

I found both of these links on Victor Reppert’s Dangerous Idea blog: Failed predictions and Dawkins’ claims on child abuse exposed. The former bluntly reminds us that “It’s generally a bad idea to say something can’t or won’t be done, especially in the realm of science and technology.” This is why I snicker at people who snicker and denigrate “religious” claims as absurd. As if a God that created life couldn’t recreate it, or turn a staff into a snake.

I’ve come across a few links like 25 Intriguing Scientific Studies About Faith, Prayer and Healing, and they all demonstrate the vapidity of claims ala “There is no evidence for prayer,” “All the evidence shows prayer is bunk,” or “Science has proven that prayer works.” Thinking hats go out the window on many issues but in my experience they do so particularly often in the “prayer vs. science” trenches.

I was looking for a decent timetable of the contemporary evolutionary narrative, and I found this. Not quite what I was looking for, but handy and interesting nonetheless.

Here is a nice breakdown of about 20 different creation stories.

I’ve been thinking a bit about hidden presumptions, and language like, “The light we see today, as the cosmic microwave background, has traveled over 13 billion years to reach us” strikes me as presumptive of scientific realism. I’m skeptical, not of the evidence that undergirds the claim, but the explicitly realist inference the writer draws from it.

I found this article on Sola Scriptura, prompted by this discussion over at Reppert’s place.

Okay, so, last time I posted one of these, it was all in Greek. Doh! Here are the collected writings of the Apostolic fathers, in English.

Morality can be altered with magnets. Greene says this should be disconcerting for moral realists (and “dualists” by implication), but I think it actually supports our case. If scientists can alter moral judgments with magnets, that seems to support the idea of a “two-way interface” view of consciousness, the interplay between soul/spirit and flesh: you can alter soulical expression in the same way you can extinguish a lightbulb by smashing it (change from outside) or turning it off (change from within).

I don’t agree with it, but this is certainly an interesting take on the Bible, on many levels. The author says the Bible only condemns homosexuality in the context of ancient fertility worship, not across the board. I disagree, and I found the arguments less than persuasive, but if that sort of thing interests you I’d say check it out and make up your own mind.

Lastly, there’s a new rumor flying around the less-reputable corners of the internet: that I banned Stephen R. Diamond from commenting here. This, like his many other rush-to-grab-the-tar-and-feathers blunders, only confirms the irony of lambasting me as a dishonest liar while presenting himself as the First Saint of the Church of Secular Reason. Last time he threw a Loftus-style hissyfit—after I politely explained that his “consensus -> truth” leanings committed him to prima facie theism over his own staunch atheism—he said he was leaving TWIM “for good,” you know, after his usual tirade of vitriolic, profanity-laced insults that do nothing to advance the conversation. So I said, “Okay, cool, I’ll put your IP on the spam list” and figured that would be the end of it. Well apparently, Mr. Diamond wasn’t a man of his word and more interestingly than that, he engages in the same “puerile sockpuppetry” he self-righteously condemns elsewhere. From the spam queue:

Why on earth would I ban Stephen R. Diamond when practically every comment he makes confirms my claim that he’s just a hater with an axe to grind? More evidence against his claim that I banned him can be found in the fact that, even after his hissyfit, and despite his complete refusal to follow simple directions, I have continued to publish his yammering.

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