Thursday, February 16, 2017

The external world and the burden of proof

If both a proposition and its denial cannot be proved, what rules do we use to decide what to believe? If I say "Can you prove that the external world exists" and you can't prove it, should we then not believe that there is an external world?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two consistent propositions

The following two positions are consistent with one another. 

1) Abortion is murder. 
2) The Constitution, properly interpreted, makes it unconstitutional to outlaw abortion. 

The arguments for 1 are never identical to the arguments against 2. Arguments supporting 1 do not prove that 2 is false. So 1 and 2 are compatible.

Of course, the Constitution is amendable. Arguments for 2 involve trying to show that the right to privacy is not absolute. The argument is never that the personhood of the fetus is provable. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Why Trump is not a credible defender of the unborn, or of traditional marriage

Trump isn't a credible defender of the unborn, or of traditional marriage. To oppose abortion and gay marriage you have to push back against the sexual revolution. To do that, he has to repudiate the Playboy mentality that runs through all of his comments about women up to now, and he hasn't even tried to do that. After all, the kind of sexual conduct he described in the Access Hollywood tape is exactly the kind of behavior that causes women to have unwanted pregnancies. The idea that I can have sex with anything that moves so long is it is of the opposite sex, but I can't marry someone of the same sex is hypocritical and leaves you wide open to the charge of being a bigot. A traditional Christian who opposes gay marriage can say, "No, I'm not prejudiced against gay people, it is just that same-sex sexual conduct is proscribed, but lots of heterosexual sexual conduct is also proscribed, and you may or may not get the chance to enter a marriage." Trump can't say that, without fully repenting of the attitudes he has expressed over and over again. No wonder he refuses to reverse Obama's pro-LGBT executive orders. 

Thoroughly worldly people never understand the world

From G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.” I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”

Is Trumpism a heresy?


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

I am an Obamacare beneficiary

Due to putting together part-time jobs over the past 25 years, and because of a pre-existing condition, I have been unable to get health insurance before the Affordable Care Act was put into effect. Since 2015 I have had plans from the Marketplace, and during that time I got one operation to prevent a life-threatening condition, and been informed by my doctor that I need one once again.

So, why I am so darn liberal? Could be because I am a lying hypocrite with no regard for the truth. Or, because I want to live.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Did T. H. Huxley Anthropomorphize Nature?

If so, he just relocated the skyhook.

Lennox writes:

However, it is apparent that even more was involved. A central element
in Huxley’s crusade is highlighted by Michael Poole.34 He writes, ‘In this
struggle, the concept of “Nature” was spelt with a capital N and reified.
Huxley vested “Dame Nature”, as he called her, with attributes hitherto
ascribed to God, a tactic eagerly copied by others since. The logical oddity
of crediting nature (every physical thing there is) with planning and
creating every physical thing there is, passed unnoticed. “Dame Nature”,
like some ancient fertility goddess, had taken up residence, her maternal
arms encompassing Victorian scientific naturalism.’ Thus a mythical
conflict was (and still often is) hyped up and shamelessly used as a weapon
in another battle, the real one this time, that is, that between naturalism
and theism.

What does the Galileo story prove

Finally, another lesson in a different direction, but one not often drawn,
is that it was Galileo, who believed in the Bible, who was advancing a better
scientific understanding of the universe, not only, as we have seen, against
the obscurantism of some churchmen, 28 but (and first of all) against the
resistance (and obscurantism) of the secular philosophers of his time who,
like the churchmen, were also convinced disciples of Aristotle. Philosophers
and scientists today also have need of humility in light of facts, even if those
facts are being pointed out to them by a believer in God. Lack of belief
in God is no more of a guarantee of scientific orthodoxy than is belief in
God. What is clear, in Galileo’s time and ours, is that criticism of a reigning
scientific paradigm is fraught with risk, no matter who is engaged in it. We
conclude that the ‘Galileo affair’ really does nothing to confirm a simplistic
conflict view of the relationship of science to religion.- John Lennox,  God's Undertaker. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Three things we should insist on from Trump

1) Insisting on complete financial transparency and accountability, including the release of at least the last 5 years of tax forms.
2) Demanding complete divestment form all Trump business enterprises, to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
3) Full and complete cooperation with the effort to investigate any Trump complicity with Russian crimes against the United States such as the hacking of the DNC e-mails, which represent an ongoing threat to our national security.
All three of these things should be done with the threat of impeachment if he does not cooperate. So there are intermediate steps before impeachment, but these have to be insisted upon using the threat of impeachment if there is non-cooperation.