Thursday, March 26, 2009
Please read the above article. This is truly sickening.
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” – George Orwell, 1984
Without the freedom to speak the truth – or whatever one believes to be the truth – there can be no lasting liberty. Nor, for that matter, can there ever be social progress. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Every great truth begins as a blasphemy”. Well, 2+2=4, and Islam is an insult to humanity. That I have the right to speak this truth is necessary if we are ever to make progress in this world. And yet the very establishment ostensibly founded to protect the essential liberties of mankind, to support world peace and human rights, deems to strip us of this bedrock of Western civilization, the fountain from which all freedom flows: freedom of speech.
But this UN resolution is just a symbol for a much larger problem. That problem is cultural relativism. In our guilt and shame over our colonial past, Western civilization has gone too far in the other direction; our society is saturated in a sycophantic love of “diversity” and tolerance, to the point that we’re now being ordered – by those intolerant of our views, I might add – to tolerate intolerance. Muslims do not tolerate blasphemers, and yet we are told that, in the name of tolerance, we must tolerate this view of theirs.
Why is this? The answer is obvious: because it is a religious view. What makes a view, by virtue of being religious, any more legitimate an excuse than a non-religious view? What if firmly believe (but don’t hold as a supernatural fact approved of by an imaginary being) that Will Smith is so awesome it is unacceptable for anyone to defame him. Am I therefore justified in demanding we enact a law protecting Will Smith from insults and criticism? Why is it that all you have to do is get enough people to agree that an imaginary being endorses your particular delusion, and suddenly we have to respect it? As far as I’m concerned, if you think your opinions are endorsed by invisible, magical beings, then you deserve even more ridicule.
Imagine if Democrats got up in arms, rioting in the streets, dragging innocent victims out of their homes and butchering them in plain view, demanding formal apologies of entire nations, all because someone had the audacity to draw a caricature of Hillary Clinton.
Nobody would think for a moment that the person drawing a silly cartoon should be publicly vilified. And yet, some people draw cartoons of Muhammad and this is precisely what happened, and, rather than people turning on the mindset and attitude that would support such a view: Islam, the world trips all over itself to apologize for this grave offense and deep hurt caused to Muslim feelings. What about the feelings of the families who had their husbands and wives, sons and daughters butchered and murdered by rioting hordes of what can only be described as psychotic, frothing, bloodthirsty animals?
I have one thing to say to Muslim “feelings” if by “feelings” one means the murderous impulse to take the life of anyone who dares to mock their faith:
Fuck Muslim feelings.
I don’t give a damn about your stupid religion and your stupid beliefs. I am under no obligation to respect Islam. Islam on the whole can only be described as a malignant, cancerous tumor on humanity.
Monday, March 23, 2009
What I don't understand is how Creationists can be so quick to spit out laws of entropy, but fail to acknowledge that their Creator "Theory" breaks the First Law of Thermodynamics and, of course, the Law of Conservation of Energy. If we define God as omnipotent, then he must be able to create the universe. But if God created the universe, surely he used energy to do so. And according to Thermodynamics, who God's followers so love, God must have transmitted some of his own energy into those creations. Because energy cannot be created or destroyed, it had to have simply changed from the energy of God's power to the physical universe itself. It took his energy to create the Earth for us to live on, the Sun to give us warmth, and the Moon and stars as pretty ornaments for us to look at. This means God LOSES some of his energy as he creates because it is transferred to what he creates.
This means God cannot have created the universe and be omnipotent and the same time. An all-powerful God would only be "kind of" powerful if he could not retain the exact amount of energy before, while and after creating the universe. But we know that the First Law of Thermodynamics states that this IS NOT possible.
In fact, the idea of a God Creator breaks every single law of Thermodynamics, including conservation, entropy, equilibrium, even absolute zero (I might do a blog post on God and Absolute Zero later on). So is it completely hypocritical that Creationists use Laws of Thermodynamics as "cannon fodder" against Rationalists while ignoring how the laws pertain to their own beliefs? It's not possible to deny this.
If I hear a Creationist ramble about the Laws of Physics EVER, I might be tempted to bash them in the face with a Geiger Counter.
Many people in certain cultures get "indescribable happiness" from their cultural practices, which could include suppressing women, ritual sacrifice, rape, savage scarification of children, barbaric warfare with neighboring societies, and so on. They may genuinely feel bliss in tearing the still-beating heart out of an enemy's chest and taking a bite out of it. Simply because something is enjoyable to someone doesn't mean that that alone justifies it.
But let's just take it for granted that is true some women experience great pleasure in going through pregnancy, and that this would remain true even if synthetic wombs were available. Even so, this is still insufficient justification for insisting that, under circumstances where options that would be better for the child are available, women still be permitted to go through with natural pregnancy. Yes, I am actually suggesting that in the future we may need to ban women from getting pregnant. Allow me to explain why.
What I propose takes place in an advanced society in which we seek to minimize the risks and maximize the health and abilities of children. Synthetic wombs are, in principle, far superior to the environment women can provide, since that environment is invariably tied in with the risks the mother takes in living her own life while carrying the child to term. Any woman who doesn't spend her entire life in a coma in the most secluded part of the world is invariably going to put her body at risk, and no mother, no matter how diligent, can possibly provide her fetus the absolute maximum possible input of nutrients to maximize the child's development. It stands to reason than that if some alternative can, than the mother's natural reproductive system would be inferior in producing a healthy, well-developed child to this alternative. We all know that pregnant women are vulnerable to the very same things we are - poisons, toxins, radiation exposure, however minimal, merely from being exposed to the sun, risk of injury, etc. Furthermore, no mother can eat exactly the right foods in exactly the right proportions to deliver her child the maximum possible nutritive benefits. In principle, a synthetic womb could minimize all these risks.
So let's consider two possible options in a futuristic scenario. Keep in mind that these numbers are hypothetical, I'm not necessarily claiming that these are the actual statistics we should expect.
1) Natural Pregnancy Condition
Under this condition, a woman bears the child to term in her body. Let's suppose that in this futuristic society, the child has, over the course of the pregnancy, a 5% chance of termination due to biological problems in the mother or freak accidents (falling down stairs, car crash, etc.) , and a 5% chance of suffering from a significant deformity that would not be present in the synthetic womb condition. Furthermore, let's suppose that studies indicate that the inferior environment provided by a mother's womb on average compares with the synthetic womb condition by the children having a 4 point lower IQ, slightly lower birth weight, and a range of other minor, but statistically significant impairments over the synthetic womb condition.
2) Synthetic Womb Condition
Under this condition, the fetus is brought to term in an environment that simulates the womb. It is monitored by highly advanced artificial intelligence, a staff of trained experts, and a set of computers that monitor every environmental condition the fetus experiences. They deliver nutrition at an ideal rate, as well, provide ideal warmth, etc. They could even conceivably simulate mother-like interaction pre-birth if this has any impact on the child (such as a computerized voice copying a mother's and talking to the baby in a soothing way, for instance). Finally, the synthetic womb clinic would be located in an area that wasn't prone to environmental catastrophes like earthquakes or hurricanes, was in a relatively safe location to begin with, and was staffed with expert security. Under these conditions, let us suppose that the children on average score higher across the board in the health and intelligence areas as previously noted, and furthermore that their risk of termination is now only 0.05% and their risk of deformation or freak accidents is 0.01%.
Let us also consider that these programs have been going on for a while with an enormous amount of research on the differences between children born in the two conditions. Despite hundreds of studies, there is no statistically significant evidence that children born under synthetic womb conditions suffer any adverse affects, whether they be health-related, behavioral, emotional, psychological, or otherwise.
Now that I've laid out these two situations, which would you, as a mother, choose?
I argue that anyone who chooses option 1) if option 2) is as readily available is being grossly immoral. This would amount to putting your child at needless risk and intentionally impairing their health and cognitive abilities all because you want to enjoy the experience of being pregnant. To maintain that your pleasure trumps your child's health and potential is the height of selfishness and immorality.
I'd also like to add that someone has brought up a good point - that parental pair-bonding is an integral part of developing a parent-child relationship, and that synthetic wombs might make this difficult. This may be an important criticism. However, the problem with this is that we are insisting on maintaining a faulty reproductive system to suit a faulty parental bonding system. Why not just change both? There is nothing stopping us in principle from, first of all, encouraging parents to ignore these impulses which would of course be insufficient, but in general I think society could come to transcend a mentality largely dependent on evolutionary psychological proclivities. Even so, this doesn't satisfy me. This problem may therefore only be addressed by the general implementation of eugenics or transhumanistic advances that alter the human brain in such a way as to eliminate prior constraints on our method of bonding. We shouldn't use one limitation to justify constraining ourselves to a second one. Instead, we should work to eliminate both. This would have the secondary benefit of, among other things, making children of orphans more readily able to bond with new parents, who don't have psychological inclinations to prefer "their" offspring and then only in the context of being around them during their earliest development.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
According to Christians, Satan is the ultimate deceiver. Furthermore, we are told, Satan has been given dominion over the earth. His task here is to prove to God that mankind is unworthy of God's love, kindness, and mercy, and in fact, given even a modicum of temptation, most men will invariably fall to his devices and succumb to the petty pleasures which God has set morality at variance against. Satan is perhaps seen as the second strongest force next to God himself, the epitome of evil, lies, and deception, and will stop at nothing to mask the truth and manipulate mankind. Christians generally agree Satan is no fool. While he is undoubtedly evil and malicious, he is incredibly cunning. In fact, Christians think Satan is both the most evil being, and, short of god, the cleverest. We can thus sum up the Christian view as follows:
1) Satan is the most evil being possible
2) Satan is possessed of supernatural intelligence, far exceeding that of mortal human beings.
Accordingly, the tactics he employs in the world to deceive us should be both evil AND incredibly clever.
So far so good. But why, then, do Christians think Satan's strategy for corrupting us is so transparent, so obvious? What hubris they have to suppose that of all beings on the planet, only they possess the intelligence, wisdom, and acuity to pierce through his deception - while at the same time affirming that moral goodness is obvious and self-evident! If they were, how on earth could Satan POSSIBLY deceive us? The best we could say is that people willingly choose evil, not that we are deceived. But Satan is, we are assured, the "father of lies" and fools us on a daily basis.
I propose that, if Christian theology is true, that Satan as the ultimate deceiver, has in fact developed the ultimate strategy of deception. And how would Satan do this? By convincing us that he himself was God. Since Christians see God as the ultimate source of truth. And here is the clincher. Ultimately, God wants us to obey his laws and his commands. They aren't necessarily the nicest, or most loving of commands, but what God, in his omniscience and omnipotence, has decreed the most just. Jesus came to, Christians say, fulfill and remove the necessity of the old laws, and replace them with something kind and loving. But if Jesus were not really God or God's messenger, would it really matter if what he replaced the old law with was something nice, or something nasty and malicious? No, it would not.
All that would matter is that we were deviating from God's laws. Regardless of what we replaced them with, no matter how good we are convinced they are, they are not God's laws, and hence all of us would be violating God's laws. If your goal were to trick people into violating God's will, why would you try to entice us to do what is obviously evil, rather than entice us to do what is relatively benign, but still in violation of god's commands and hence, from God's point of view, a sort of evil, a transgression and violation of his divine command? If whatever God wills is the good, this would in fact be fact a form of evil, however counterintuitive this may seem.
And this is exactly what Jesus implores us to do. Jesus says we don't have to follow the old rules anymore, but in a way that convinces the believer that, rather than abandoning these laws, he himself can serve as a surrogate, a conduit through which God can be appeased. Isn't this exactly what an incredibly clever, incredibly malicious being would do? We're all familiar with the phrase "A wolf in sheep's clothing". Satan, no doubt, is too. But wouldn't a much more clever deceiver pose as the shepherd?