Category Archives: Logic and reason

Response to the “Perfect Earth”

Have you ever actually looked at our planet? How many places on Earth would actually kill you if you were there? How many places on Earth are lethal to life in general, let alone human life? I’m sure in your natural state (meaning completely naked and unaided) if we dropped you just about anywhere from where we originally evolved from you would eventually die due to the environment.

So let’s talk hypothetically, if we dropped you in the center of Antarctica (or any other living animal for that matter) you would quickly freeze dry within a few minutes. I’m sure if we put you on top of Mount Everest (or any other animal for that matter) you would suffocate and die (if not freeze to death very rapidly first.) If you were put on the bottom of the ocean (which by the way makes up 70% of the earth’s surface) you and many other animals would instantly die ( FYI you would be crushed by the sheer pressure of the water before you could drown). I’m sure if we put you on the middle of a salt flat somewhere in the Kalahari Desert you would eventually die and completely dehydrate into a mummy, same goes with most other animals.

By the way salt flats in deserts are not very uncommon as deserts make up some 33% or a 3rd of earth’s non water covered surface. That’s just short of 10% of the entire earth’s surface when you include the water of the oceans. So that means 20% of the earth’s surface is left… but that also includes other things like tundra, artic and subartic, mountains, temperate zones, rainforests, and tropical regions. In our natural state, we can only survive in tropical regions. Tropical regions comprise approximately 7% of the earth’s dry land surface or just short of 2% of earth’s total surface and sustains over 50% of all species, that’s not very much space… In-fact if you just stand out in the sun long enough you would eventually die due to exposure… These are simple facts.

There are very few areas where a human can naturally survive, and those areas are filled with very large predators that evolved to eat us. For a place that was supposedly so perfectly created for us, it sure seems to want to kill us a lot; and has a great deal of completely uninhabitable areas and areas that are inherently dangerous to we fragile humans… So much for that intelligent design hypothesis you had.

-Daniel Bennett

Atheist in Wonderland

At some point or another many on-line atheists are drawn towards an enticing rabbit hole. A singularity of rabbit holes among the broad array of rabbit holes to be found in the bazaars of bad sectors and binary bullshit the the Internet has to offer. Shock and horror awaits, lurking in dark dot coms and netherworld news feeds. Snatched up by a search engine from the gallows of Google, it forms, sucking you in like the brutal after effects of a supermarket shootout, you cant look away, you can’t escape.

“Hey atheists, if evolution is real…”

And so it begins. Your body and mind stretch as things become blurred and time becomes meaningless, as you’re drawn into the black hole of intrigue, lies, betrayal, and conspiracy. As the gravitational pull stretches your mind to the limit, even the simple becomes complex.

“Evolution is a proven scientific fact!”

Logical laws collapse in the infinity of fallacy which has led you thus far. You passionately defend all you know about science and evolution in the face of conspiracy theories, equivocation and talking animals.

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Meanwhile, your opponent wasn’t talking about evolution. Also lost in the infinite singularity was that the question is irrelevant. An even more distant issue from your mind is that the pseudoscience involved has little to do with biology.

Lets face it, many times we find ourselves defending evolution, the issue is the origin of life and the argument a statistical one, not a biological one. Given the reams and reams of crap out there about evolution, you’ll probably be shocked that an article on a page opposing pseudoscience would say what I’m about to say. I really don’t think there is much reason to bother with defending evolution against deniers, because the problem is normally not evolution, the origin of life, or any other scientific issue. The problem is that there exist beliefs which are held as irrefutable by many, and which are in direct opposition to certain biological and cosmological tenets of modern science.

“Surely this is a good reason to debate them?” You may well ask. No, because the dogma is too strong. To borrow from (ironically) a Biblical parable, seeds that are sown in hard ground don’t grow. Although I’m a big fan of “Thank You For Smoking” and the debate lessons it gives (the crucial acknowledgement of the audience in the ice cream debate), I feel more can be achieved even among debate audiences, if a different approach were considered.

This is a site focused on science and empirically observable phenomena, but I think certain things need to be covered before empiricism takes hold of us. What is the logical reasoning being applied? For example, we will assume the origin of life is in question and the argument is “what are the chances of life randomly forming without being directed by an intentional force?”

  • The origin of life is the question, evolution is what happens to life that has formed. Don’t defend evolution, you’re defending the wrong thing.
  • The question isn’t about biological research into the origin of life, it is about the statistical probabilities of random events leading to a particular event assuming all possible events share equal probability. Don’t defend biology, this isn’t the field for which a pseudoscience is being built.

Having established this, it is easier to proceed:

  • How do we know all the random events have equal probability?
  • How do we know the events are random, and that due to the ways particles interact, some are simply not going to happen given the environment available?
  • How do we know that this isn’t the only possible outcome and isn’t random at all?
  • At what point mathematically is an event considered impossible?

Unfortunately n=1. There is only one universe that we have observed, so we only have empirical evidence that one like this can exist, all the other possibilities are merely hypothetical.

It is also true that the origin of life wasn’t observed, and that this is equally problematic for biologists and theologians. It is easy for believers to claim that they don’t accept a natural origin of life because it has never been observed. This is ironically an “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” argument. Aside from this, it would be entirely rational and intellectually consistent to then conclude that one must also reject the idea of a divine origin for life, as it has also never been observed. While possibilities abound on this matter, the honest answer is, “I don’t know”.

At this point, one may say that the response to the above is usually an appeal to ignorance, “that we don’t know, is proof that ancient people with livestock did know.” So what? Point it out and read on for more.

The entire premise hinged on a false alternative. Simply broken down, it either happened completely randomly, or gods did it. This cannot eliminate other possibilities (some I alluded to earlier). Perhaps this is merely a simulated reality designed for us. We can’t prove this, but we can’t rule it out, and thus saying it must be a god or random process is fallacious. But either or arguments need to be exhaustive, life was made by god/s, or it wasn’t; it is random, or it isn’t and so on. The argument here would require a kind of omniscient awareness of every possibility available and what rules them all out. This is the reason why any theological debate about evolution is fallacious. even if the subject were evolution, this response is still the most valid, and simplest, and doesn’t land on the hard ground of evolution. Formal logic isn’t as easy to deny, as we all make basic day-to-day assumptions based on it. but the rational response if the subject is evolution is revealing this fallacy.

If we answer the final question in the list, then we have a simple answer. According to most modern stats textbooks, impossible events have a probability of zero, but the converse is not the case. Mathematical reasoning can assign a zero probability to a possible event. This would normally involve an infinite countable set, like the rational numbers between 1 and 2, and an equal assignment of probability to each member of the set randomly being called. The thing is, the origin of life is not an infinite countable set, but a finite countable set, and thus will produce a positive probability, although miserably small. The event is possible.

Another issue is that while origins of life are improbable unusual events, by gods or nature, they are not less likely than any other of the possible events, given complete randomness. Something had to happen with reacting chemicals, and all the possibility had equal probabilities, then a low probability outcome is the expected result. Therefore, we have an event with an expected probability. Given that origin of life was a random event, the mathematical probability is what we would expect it to be.

I’m going to wrap this up. Perhaps you think I should offer more. I haven’t won, I have proved nothing, I have merely provided some possibilities, and pointed out that the stats aren’t unexpected, given the information they provided. I also mentioned the false alternative, and how the question doesn’t bear much relevance to being and atheist, or that it is very helpful in providing a good reason to believe in god. I have merely planted some seeds in the softer soil beneath the hardened surface of the anti evolution movement.

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Logic, And Why God Isn’t The Answer

Originally published by our friends at www.answers-in-reason.com Jan 10 2016

I have come across many different types of believers in my time. Those that believe because of Indoctrination, those that believe because of fear, those that believe because of personal experiences, and many more. But the one thing that I struggle with understanding more than any other are those that believe that God is the logical conclusion, otherwise intelligent people who genuinely believe that a belief in the supernatural god is logically sound.

I have to assume that this is because of a misunderstanding of logic itself. Just because you have intellectually justified something, does NOT mean that it was done so through logic.

To demonstrate this, I will guide you through the three different types of logic first, and then explain why God cannot be the conclusion for them.

Deductive:

Deductive Logic is the most accurate way of finding a definitive answer. It is looking at a complete set of information that unquestionably points to a specific answer.

For Example: I have left a chocolate cake alone in a room with my son. I have locked the door when I left, and there are no windows in the room. When I return, the cake is gone, the room is clean, my son has chocolate crumbs around his mouth, and a stomach ache from a sugar crash.

In this example there is enough evidence to point to only one answer. My son has definitely eaten the cake.

Inductive:

Inductive Logic is a good way of predicting results, but is not definitely right. It is looking at an incomplete set of information, but that is enough to indicate a pattern from which we can estimate other results.

For Example: I have repeated the example from the Deductive Logic section several times, and the result has always been the same. I repeat the actions again. I leave my son locked in a room with a chocolate cake. As I approach the door I can hear him moaning in pain on the other side.

In this example it is entirely reasonable for me to induce that my son has eaten the cake again. But the important difference is that I don’t actually know. He may have fallen over, or had a sudden onset of Appendicitis.

Abductive:

Abductive logic is another way of figuring out what is likely, but not necessarily true. It is making an observation, and working out the simplest answer to fit.

For Example: Similarly to the original example, I have left a cake in a room, but this time I have left the door unlocked. When I return i see my son hurrying away from the door, and find that the cake is gone.

In this example the simplest solution is that my son has eaten the cake, and hurried away so as to not get caught. But there is no way of proving this with the information that is available at the time.

And now why God cannot be the reasonable conclusion for any of these.

Deductive:

For God to be the conclusion for Deductive Logic, we would have to have an amount of evidence that CANNOT be attributed to anything else. The evidence would have to point to God as the ONLY possible solution.

Inductive:

For God to be the conclusion for Inductive Logic, we would have to have empirical evidence of the supernatural. For a supernatural entity to be the conclusion through Inductive Logic, there has to be proof of enough supernatural happenings or entities to indicate a pattern.

Abductive:

For God to be the conclusion for Abductive Logic, it would have to answer more questions than it raises. Where this may have been the case in the past, in times when science hadn’t answered so many of the fundamental questions that we have, it is certainly not the case anymore.

Conclusion:

You may be able to find a way, as a Theist, to intellectually justify your belief in God. But PLEASE stop saying it is logical. It isn’t. You are doing a disservice to logic, and you are doing harm to your own intelligence in the eyes of people who know how logic works.

Kriss Pyke

The Hamza Tzortiz handbrake u-turn on scientific miracles in quran

The Hamza Tzortiz handbrake u-turn on scientific miracles in quran

Originally published on www.answers-in-reason.com March 2016

 

I was more than shocked having recently read Hamza Tzortiz’s essay stating:

Regrettably, the scientific miracles narrative has become an intellectual embarrassment for Muslim apologists, including myself.

Full paper can be read by clicking here

I take my hat off to his honesty. I respect the effort he actually put into his essay in putting forth the arguments against scientific miracles in quran:

There are an array of reasons of why the above expressions of the scientific miracles are problematic and incoherent. These include,

  1. The Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle

  2. Inaccurate History

  3. Teleology of the Qur’ānic Verses

  4. Scientism, the Problem of Induction and Empiricism

  5. “Unscientific” Verses

  6. Miracles, Simplicity and A Note on Qur’ānic Exegesis

I hope he has not received any negativity and especially the violent rhetoric afforded to people that speak out on such matters as this is a massive statement to make considering he was such a high profile advocate and apologist for the scientific miracles in quran since its publication in 2013.

A short bio on Tzortiz:

Hamza Andreas Tzortzis was born 21st September 1980. He is an international lecturer who has lectured in many universities including USA, Australia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada and Lebanon. The lecturer has authored many books and articles on his personal blog. As a debater he has debated many popular professors including Professor Lawrence Krauss, Professor Simon Blackburn, Professor Ken Gemes and Professor and Dan Barker. Hamza heads up a team called iERA,(Islamic Education and Research Academy).

As honest as Tzortiz has been, his group are still selling a publication called The Man in the Red Underpants. In this publication is stated:

Actually what is remarkable about the Quran is not only that it does not contain any contradictions , but in fact it seems to be making statements about history, theology, philosophy, law and the natural world that defies a normal human explanation..

The pamphlet goes on to talk about, inter alia, the Big Bang Theory, embryonic development and plate tectonics and concludes,

It is easy to understand how the Creator would know about the common origin of the universe, the details of embryonic development and that mountains have roots but it is not easy to explain how Muhammad managed to include the information in the Qur’an unless we accept his claim to be a Messenger. It would seem that accepting this would be the most sensible thing for a rational, sincere person to do.

In my opinion this publication needs to be revised to no longer include this. This has been for too long an argument used and still used by imam in the mosque or parent to child or proselytiser, and the bane of my life, the internet debater with no knowledge of the science they are attempting to talk about. Oh and lest we not forget Zakir “The Snake” Naik.

scientific miracles in quran

A New Approach

Ohhhh, things seemed to be going so well until Tzortiz mentions his new approach. That being:

How to articulate this in a simple way

For those concerned on how to articulate this in a simple way I suggest a simple step process:

1. When talking about Divine revelation speak about:

  • the fact that there are historical statements that are mentioned in the Qur’ān were not known at the time

  • the linguistic and literary miracle of the Qur’ān

  • the fact that Qur’ān is preserved

  • the meaning and message of the Qur’ān

  • the Qur’ān’s concept of God

  • other remarkable features of the Qur’ān

I believe the same logic applied by Tzortiz can be levelled at the historical statements which are claimed could not be known. Why stop there Hamza?

I don’t get the linguistic part. there is a part where Muhammed is asked to write a divinely inspired poem. It is rubbish. It keeps repeating the same line over and over again. This to me is the nature of the quran. Lots of filler statements regarding allah repeated over and over and over and over and over and over.

The meaning and message of quran is much like, in fact almost cargbon copy of the fire and brimstone god of the Old Testament.

His concept is straight out of OT also.

Remarkable features? Not sure what they could be. Islamic rhetoric!!

Effects of his essay

It speaks volumes that its greatest proponent will make such a statement however it seems very little positive effects because of this, apart from Tzortiz making things right publicly with the scientific community. The debates mention quran’s scientific miracles still flow. His book is still available to download with no revision. The imams still preach it from the mosques and the young minds are still fed it at home and in madrassa. The islamic world seems to either have not noticed their chief proponent has made this u-turn or choose to ignore it. Why on earth would they do that?

Is islam that weak that they can not embrace the fact that the quran contains no scientific miracles?

I wonder whether the punishment for apostasy would apply to someone that was duped into accepting islam on the back of these purported miracles and have lost faith because they are no longer to be considered miracles? Also I got no apology for those duped or misled.

All in all an effort was made but really a half assed attempt. We want an apology, we want a fatwah exempting anyone that leaves islam on the back of this revelation and we need the Red Underwear publication revised!! Until then my hat firmly replaced on my head and tipped gently to all readers….

You may wish to check out this article published on www.answers-in-reason.com a short while ago http://answers-in-reason.com/religion/islam/is-the-quran-perfect/ as well as the other great articles produced here at www.thescientificatheist.com

Wishing you all a godless and logic based March 2016

Alan The Atheist

How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

racism

 

How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

In my time being active in the atheist community, I have noticed that there has been a sort of subset of radical thinking. Racism and sexism have really been on the rise in the atheist community, and it’s showing up often in social media.

Talking as an administrator on the general AAPN Facebook page (commonly referred to as “the main page”) where my gender was unknown to the person, has shown me how people will talk differently when they make gender assumptions. When we shared a Facebook post about this topic, we were swarmed with comments and as I was pitching my 2 cents with the other admins, I had noticed a strange thing happen. As I said, when an administrator on the main page speaks, it just shows as AAPN speaking, well when I was criticizing some people for having a sexist attitude, it seemed that they assumed that I was a woman speaking to them, which I thought was an odd assumption since there are no details on who exactly was speaking.

What was even more interesting was how some of those folks started referring to me as “sweetie” or “babe”, at that point after they started calling me pet names, I finally confronted them about it and that they were talking to a male the entire time, suddenly the pet names stopped.

We have also had messages to the main page from self professed atheists wanting to know our opinions on race and intelligence, and which race we thought as being superior. This is an absolutely terrible train of thought to be in as to somehow view yourself as superior to your fellow man. Every culture, has something great to offer the world when religious beliefs are cast aside.

We atheists need to strive to be the example in the world, and sadly we are failing at that. Lately my mantra has been “atheism =/= rationalism, it’s just a step in the right direction”; and sadly that’s been holding true. I have seen first hand how atheists that are woman and/or minorities are treated very disrespectfully and the only thing they did was stick up for themselves. Sexism and racism is a real thing that is happening in our community and it’s time we step up to it and not tolerate it anymore.

The Ancient Aliens’ Atrocity

The ‘Ancient Aliens’ Atrocity

This post was originally published on Mar 19 2015 here

Today Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense takes its proverbial baseball bat to the skull that is the intellectual clusterfuck known as the ‘Ancient Aliens.’

Before treading any further down this alley, we would like to take a moment to make something clear. It is quite commonly acknowledged by many that given what we know of the mechanisms of life – its prerequisites, emergence and gradual evolution -, it is more than reasonable to assume that some forms of life can be found elsewhere in this wondrous galaxy of ours. As a group that is sincerely dedicated to the promotion of rationality, skepticism and informed thinking rooted in hard science, it is our firm conviction that these principles must be applied to the pursuit of the knowledge of whether or not we are alone in the universe. That being said, when it comes to tackling profound questions like this, there is a right approach and there’s a wrong approach. ‘Ancient Aliens’ doesn’t only sit firmly on the ‘Wrong’ side of the line – it’s so far on that side it almost disappears behind the horizon.

Skipping over the broader and clearly more fruitful debate on the possibility of extraterrestrials existing, we can turn our attention on what makes ‘Ancient Aliens’ such an atrocity. We could, of course, bombard it with the same accusations we have leveled against other brands of pseudoscience we’ve covered so far but it would be an exercise in repetition. Ultimately, the greatest sin of the Ancient Aliens Theory is that is the proverbial ‘other side of the coin’, the first side being creationism. At first glance, these two may not seem related but they are, in fact, shockingly similar.

Both muddy up the waters of any meaningful discourse on how to better understand our past and origin by presenting questionable, poorly construed, wildly speculative, insufficient and – at the very best – biased ‘evidence’; both shamelessly promote and glorify their application of demonstrably false claims, logical fallacies and non sequiturs as a sign of enlightened, independent thinking and love to portray themselves as the victims of the exclusion and persecution by “elitist” academic establishment; and both rely on sensationalist, populist and emotionally evocative arguments to win approval. Most crucially, however, they both promote intellectual and scientific laziness by playing the Argument From Ignorance and God of the Gaps argument – creationism literally so; the AA advocates substitute ‘aliens.’

The fact that ‘Ancient Aliens’ is into its seventh season with some 1.5 MILLION regular viewers – despite the avalanche of negative reviews from critics and the scientific community – is a clear sign of a major intellectual bankruptcy in our society.

AnAL

  • Corax

 

The Wolfe Howls Nonsense

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A plea to think.

When it comes to whole cloth nonsense, one can think of few better examples than David Wolfe. His fear mongering pseudoscience dupes people into believing the most outrageous of claims. It is scary to think that a man who actually believes that without salt being in water it would just ‘float away’. Of course anyone with a primary school education could understand that this is absolutely demonstrable nonsense, but what makes it so that people are drawn to the nonsense this man spews? David Wolfe engages in what’s called pleading to emotion, he makes claims that draws gullible people’s wishful thinking and allows them to believe the completely outrageous things Mr. Wolfe claims. Let’s dissect one of his videos and expose the plethora of nonsense he spouts off shall we?  Continue reading The Wolfe Howls Nonsense

Logic, reason and pseudscientific nonsense

Logic, reason and pseudscientific nonsense

Originally published on www.answers-in-reason.com as Logic, reason and pseudscience

The tripartite definition of knowledge states that propositional knowledge , i.e. knowledge that p , has three individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions: justification, truth and belief. In short, propositional knowledge is justified true belief. The belief condition requires that anyone who knows that p believe that p. The truth condition requires that any known proposition be true. And the justification condition requires that any known proposition be adequately justified, warranted or evidentially supported.

 

Reason

The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically.

I guess we should define logic and a few other terms also

Logic

Reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. Check or prove the validity or accuracy of,

“all analytical methods should be validated in respect of accuracy”

demonstrate or support the truth or value of.

Truth

That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

 Fact

A thing that is known or proved to be true.

Following through the above list of definitions to reason we need facts, which have been validated as such to show they are true. We have seen historically how a good premise can still present a faulty conclusion. For instance Aristotle concluded that the testicles were weights attached to the voice box because when a man’s testicles dropped his voice deepened.  This is obviously not the case which has been verified by biological experimentation which has shown this factually not to be true. Continue reading Logic, reason and pseudscientific nonsense

Beagle’s Plea For Reason

Polio

Beagle’s Plea For Reason

It barely needs stating, but I will say it anyway. The person that chooses not to vaccinate their child is a selfish, narcissistic creature with no regard for others. They don’t care if their child falls ill because they are convinced that a potentially devastating disease is somehow better than the minimal risks associated with vaccines. They don’t care if your child falls ill. They don’t care that children with valid health reasons for not being vaccinated depend on herd immunity to survive. Instead, they cling to debunked and misleading “studies” to justify their dangerous and ridiculous decision. They make up insane conspiracies about the government attempting to control people through vaccines. They are irrational, arrogant enough to believe that they know better than actual doctors. They will even claim that God protects their children and yours from illness. I’m not kidding. I saw that on my newsfeed only a few weeks ago.   Continue reading Beagle’s Plea For Reason