Knight Of The Apocalypse No. 2

This is one new posts in celebration of the “A Week”,

“I think that there are no forces on this planet more dangerous to us all than the fanaticisms of fundamentalism, of all the species: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as countless smaller infections. Is there a conflict between science and religion here? There most certainly is.” Daniel C. DennettDarwin’s Dangerous Idea

Richard DawkinsDaniel C. DennettSam Harris andChristopher Hitchens have been referred to as The Four Knights Of The  Apocalypse by mystics who believe in the coming of the last revelation given by the Christian god in the last book of the New Testament written by the prophet John.  In the book, these Four Knights were sent by god to bring plagues upon the world.  The previous authors, all active atheists opposing mysticism have written dozens of books that have enlightened and educated millions of men who previously believed in these and more irrational and mystic stories.

  • The Red Horse, represented the plague of war.
  • The Black Horse, representing famine and poverty.
  • The Green or Yellow Horse, representing death and illness.
  • The White Horse, representing the final moment of life in which the Death reappears once again to redeem humanity.

To parody this Apocalyptic stories and to celebrate the Week of Atheism, I choose to remember Daniel C. Dennett as Knight No. 2.

The books written by Dennett are among the easiest and more interesting to read in the topics of  philosophy of mindphilosophy of science and philosophy of biology.  His are also some of the books with more notes, marks and corrections I have in my personal library.  Dennett has a very clever and consistent stands specifically in regard to the field of philosophy of biology of which I have enjoyed reading a lot in his books.  I strongly disagree with many of his arguments that depart from a objective and rational stand in regard to man’s epistemology, added to his incorrect relation of morality and organized religion as reciprocally necessary.  Nonetheless he’s a great writer.  Among his works are:

If you are new to his name, I recommend you to check the wonderful lecture by Mr. Dennett titled “What Should Replace Religions?

Knights Of The Apocalypse No. 1

A Devil's Chaplain
Image via Wikipedia

“My approach to attacking creationism is to attack religion as a whole (…)  religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence.” Richard Dawkins in his lecture at TED.com

Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens have been referred to as The Four Knights Of The  Apocalypse by mystics who believe in the coming of the last revelation given by the Christian god in the last book of the New Testament written by the prophet John.  In the book, these Four Knights were sent by god to bring plagues upon the world.  The previous authors, all active atheists opposing mysticism have written dozens of books that have enlightened and educated millions of men who previously believed in these and more irrational and mystic stories.

  • The Red Horse, represented the plague of war.
  • The Black Horse, representing famine and poverty.
  • The Green or Yellow Horse, representing death and illness.
  • The White Horse, representing the final moment of life in which the Death reappears once again to redeem humanity.

To parody this Apocalyptic stories and to celebrate the Week of Atheism, I choose to remember Richard Dawkins as Knight No. 1.

Mr. Dawkins is the author of the famous book “The Selfish Gene” (1976), The Extended Phenotype (1982), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The God Delusion (2008) Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), among many other works. His topics of interest have commonly been related to his advocacy on evolutionary biology, memethics, and a rejection of mysticism, irrationality and relativism.  He’s maybe the most known atheist in today’s mass media and his ideas have fought a strong war against hundreds of theists and deists for half a century.  His book The Selfish Gene was also the first book I read in a topic that continued to interest me until now.

Now, I leave you with one of the lectures by him that I have enjoyed the most.  It was titled “An atheist’s call to arms” and presented at a TED talk in 2002.  The topic of this discussion is a “full-on appeal for atheists to make public their beliefs and to aggressively fight the incursion of religion into politics and education” by a lobby group supported by Creationists.

On Atheism

What is Atheism?

Over the centuries hundreds of millions of people have worshipped a god or many gods as their creators.  These gods were usually represented in a series of objects in nature and today, only Hinduism remains as a truly polytheistic religion.  Other religions have a monotheistic god that created everything and still has influence on human’s life and Earth’s life cycle.  This monotheistic God is commonly known by Christians as Yahvé or as Allah by Muslims.  Christians and Muslims are the two largest religions on Earth (3.6 billion people) and most of them refuse to acknowledge what science has to say regarding the dogma in which they faithfully (irrationally) believe in.  However, a large amount of the population of the world is not a believer, is secular or calls themselves atheists.  They amount to more than 1.1 billion people and in the last century, for the first time on history, they started to explain with scientific evidence the reasons why it was illogical to believe in any type of god or gods.

Atheism is the non belief in a personal god or gods such as those of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and HinduismAtheists are those who do not believe in the gods of these religions.  But also, atheists are also those who do not believe in a deist god who created the universe and afterwards left the world alone.  As such, Atheists are not theists, deists or spiritualists.

An atheist views science as the best mean for humans to understand reality.  Therefore, it should be noted that it is not Atheist who have to apply the burden of proof principle but those who advocate for the belief in a god or gods.  Atheists establish their position as truth because science demonstrates it to be so and because theist’s burden of proof fails to be proven.

Recently, many things have been written about Atheism and some controversies have been raised on the term.  As such, some philosophers have proposed a division of the term Atheism in two branches: negative atheism and positive atheism.  Michael Martin[1] writes that there’s a division between atheists.  There are those negative atheists who are non believers –including agnostics- and there are positive atheists that are those who deny the existence of a theistic God and the belief in an afterlife, in a cosmic destiny, in an immortal soul, in the Bible or Qur’an and in any religious foundation of morality.

Now, let us explore why it is on theists and deists failure at asserting the burden of proof principle that atheists are successful at supporting their claims regarding the non existence of any type of god or gods.

Why the burden of proof principle aids Atheists to establish their position regarding the existence of a god or gods?

The burden of proof principle asserts that whoever has a burden of proof is obligated to provide evidence for their claim.  Atheists claim that for God to exist it should be proved or at least, it should be supported by enough evidence to accept the possibility for anything (in this case a god or gods) to exist.  Atheists claim that the burden of proof principle applies to those who support the claim of the non existence of god or gods.  Again, it is not for atheists to offer any evidence for their statements regarding the existence of god or gods.  Therefore, atheists ask for believers in a god or gods to at least give good grounds of belief in their claims.  Their claims should be logical and rational and atheists are not obligated to prove them wrong.

What is the strongest objection regarding the existence of a god or gods given by Atheists?

The strongest objection for the existence of a god or gods comes from science.  As Victor J. Stenger has written “science is fully capable of detecting the existence of a God who acts in the lives of humans in an important way such as listening to and answering prayers”.  As such, science not only makes the assumption about reality being rational, but it applies rational methods in taking and analyzing data.  These methods and analysis have all failed to demonstrate any type of supernatural power or gods that could allow some rational explanation that supports their existence.[2]Furthermore, Victor J. Stenger explains in the book God: The Failed Hypothesis – How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist that if there is a God that plays a role in the universe there should also be objective evidence of his existence.  As such, that evidence should be sought and if such evidence is found it would demonstrate its existence.  However, no such evidence has been found and that we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with the properties and abilities acknowledged by theists and deists cannot be demonstrated.

First, if everything is supposed to have a cause, then a god or gods do too.  Therefore, there is no first cause.  If someone asserts that God is the uncaused first cause we are to question why should not we also ask why cannot the physical world itself be taken to be the uncaused first cause?  On this subject has written a lot the mathematician John Allen Paulos in the book Irreligion:  A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up.

What is the solution offered by believers in a god or gods against the previous argument?

Believers in a god or gods have objected to the previous claim by offering a scientific, rather than philosophical, explanation.  This explanation is called The Argument from Design and their claims are that A) It is by design that the universe is fine-tunned and as such a designer had to create it.  B) That living organisms are too complex and perfect, and as such, are the evidence of an intelligent designer.

The previous argument from design has been demonstrated to be illogical and too weak to be scientifically truth.  As such, only those who advocate for an irrational belief on their imaginary gods still try to defend this argument with illiterate masses and non science-savvy minds.

Those who defend the Argument from Design believe and support that there exists only one universe and that the universe was specially created for humans and living species on planet Earth.  However, there is not still enough scientific evidence that demonstrates that there has only existed one universe and the studies of String Theory have already suggested that there is a chance of 10500 different set of possible parameters to exist[3]

Therefore, there is no evidence or reasons to assume that there aren’t many universes; and there is a huge chance for a different universe and a huge range of parameters is possible.  As such, there could be some other forms of life different from ours and those could be even more complex than us.  This position advocated regarding a multiverse is still criticized as unobservable and there is still research undergoing regarding how to detect the presence of other universes.  The previous is the job of scientists; and scientists speculate and theorize regarding the unobservable all the time (that is how quarks and dark matter came to be scientifically proved).

Further, the notion that the universe was fine-tunned for life –human life and life on planet Earth- to exist is also nonsense and irrational.  First, it would have been illogical for an omnipotent god to design the universe and to make it including an immense list of physiological flaws and weaknesses.  If there were actually an omnipotent god he could have made it possible for humans, his most precious creation, to be living in a universe in which the constants of physics kept humans safe and not to be living on the knife-edge of extinction.

As professor Ghate explained; Agnosticism claims that atheists fail to demonstrate by the burden of proof principle that Rational Theology is mistaken.  The argument of Agnosticism elaborates that it is not because of the flaws of Rational Theology capabilities to comply with the burden of proof principle that the statements of Atheism should be known as truth or as right.    They consider that even though rational theology failed to prove their case there is still a chance for a god or gods to exist.  As such, this discourse of uncertainty and skepticism could be used to also believe in themultiverse I mentioned before.

However, it is because of scientific evidence and observations of reality that we understand what exists and what doesn’t exist.  As such, the non existence of evidence or enough proof does not allows us to not question or doubt the chance of X or Y to exist.  The lack of information just allows us, as it does with scientists and their studies, to seek for more conclusive evidence and valid proofs that will someday demonstrate their and our hypothesis.  Until there is enough evidence and valid proof there is no need for humans to believe in a god, in several gods, in fairies or in unicorns.

The best conclusion one can give comes from Dan Barker, a former believer in the Christian Abrahamic God, who said

“I did not lose my faith –I gave it up purposely.  The motivation that drove me into the ministry- to know and speak the truth- is the same that drove me out… Opening my eyes to the real world, stripped of dogma, faith and loyalty to tradition, I could finally see clearly that there was no evidence for a god, no coherent definition of a god, no agreement among believers as to the nature or moral principles of “God,” and no good answers to the positive arguments against the existence of a god, such as the problem of evil.  And beyond all that, there is no need for a god.  Millions of good people live happy, productive, moral lives without believing in a god.”[4]


[1] Martin, Michael (2007).  The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY.  Prometheus Books).  Atheism (p. 88).

[2] Victor Stenger2009).  The New Atheism (Prometheus Books). P.71.  Also, see on this subject an anthology edited by Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier titled The Impossibility of God.

[3] Susskind, Leonard (2005).  Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design (New York). P. 186

[4] Barker, Dan (2008).  Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press) p.40

Because College Education is not the only way to Success

The Thiel Fellowship is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The Fellowship brings together some of the world’s most creative and motivated young people, and helps them bring their most ambitious ideas and projects to life. Thiel Fellows are given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. They are mentored by our network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom. Rather than just studying, you’re doing.

“Every tech story is different. Every moment in history happens only once. All successful companies are successful in their own unique way. It’s your task to figure out what that future history will be.” – Peter Thiel

 

Fellowship: Two Years. $100,000. Some Ideas Just Can’t Wait.

2012 Applications are open: See the application.

Protect IP Act and Internet

A copyright protects a men’s mind contribution in The purest form: ie. in the the origination of ideas. This protection allows for men to freely decide what to do with his creation: give it for free, authorize some uses of it (Creative Commons), prohibit any use of it, sell the rights to the use of the idea.

Now, this recognition of Intellectual Property automatically gives to the owner a value that he can exchange for a specific amount of money and/or recognition. To the owner, this may be the stimulus for which he made the effort of creating and innovating. Also, there are many other retributions and stimulus for men to create. F.A. Hayek mentions that it is for the sake of creation that some intellectuals work and not only for the $. He made a valid point and usually this creator give for free or with some free of charge rights the use of their ideas (via CC like in this blog).

I was shared a video that claims that,

“PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting “creativity”. The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites– they just have to convince a judge that the site is “dedicated to copyright infringement.”

The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.”

Now, censorship is “the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.” You could argue that it is censorship what government officials do when they put fines or take to jail those who are violating copyright rights. But also, you can argue in a higher hierarchy that yes, the officials are taking your right to “disseminate” speech and knowledge because you are violating the rights to property of other members of society. (Remember that private property is stil one of the rights that Americans haven’t managed to completely destroy… but after Patriot Act passed, anything is now possible and the socialization of Property is soon to happen there if nothing changes.)

Now the fallacious error of this video and of the claim of those who consider that Acts like this are violating men’s right to Speech can be found in the initial argument: “PROTECT IP Act is breaking internet”

Why is this fallacious?

It is a false argument because it starts by considering “Property as a non essential characteristic of the entity “Internet“. ie. They start by giving for granted that Internet lacks property rights and that it is only “Internet” when access is collective and a so called public good”. Now, the property rights or non property rights of internet are accessorial characteristics that are determined in context. For example, a chair could have different colors and still be a chair; internet could have private rights in some things and lack property rights in others but still be Internet.

Just as in radio-telecommunication spectrum legislation; If someone (a company) pays the rights of use of internet from other company or government grant and this company decides to restricts the access to the network, connections, websites, etc they have acquired a right to do so.

This private right to do whatever you please in your website enables you to do anything except violating other people’s rights. Since we still consider IP to be an inalienable right, those websites that violate it should be held responsible. That would not be censorship but the recognition of a violation of rights done by a website. That is what the PROTECT IP Act aims to do.