Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pro-Afterlife Extremism Fuels Atheism

Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, recently wrote an article for BBSNews entitled "Religious Extremism Great Advertisement for Atheism."

In the article, Annie lines up very recent examples of religious extremism, and explains how their own extremist actions are arguments for atheism:

Religious extremists are doing such a good job of demonstrating the harm of dogma and religion all by themselves that there is really very little left for rationalists to do. Rev. Pat ("take out Chavez") Robertson calls down God's wrath on the pro-evolution voters of Dover, Penn. Next he deems Ariel Sharon's stroke an example of divine punishment.

The Robertson example should be obvious. It makes Robertson look like the insane and irrelevant televangelist that he is, in love with an imaginary friend who he gleefully assumes is smiting everyone that rubs him the wrong way.

Annie's next example:

The notorious Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, a one-man argument for atheism, switches from picketing the funerals of AIDS victims with his loathsome "God Hates Fag" signs, to demonstrating around the country at funerals for soldiers who have died in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

The Rev. Phelp's conduct is obviously not convincing any agnostics or "non-religious" people that Jesus is the way, nor is he making any atheists second-guess their convictions.

Annie provides a few more examples of the bloodthirstiness of pro-afterlifers, such as the 9/11 hijackers, the warmongering Christian politicians in the West, and even the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda.

Annie is right, you know. Most people may not see it yet, but atheism has been gaining steam in the developed world, in part due to the actions of extremist religious groups.

Is it any surprise that the average Joe will be repelled to or repulsed from these various theistic worldviews according to the actions and statements of each worldview's most enthusiastic flag-waver? I think not. And who are the most enthusiastic flag wavers of religion, God, and the afterlife? Who is out there acting and speaking the loudest in the name of their religious beliefs? The Rudolphs, the Bushes, the Osamas, the Robertsons, the Phelps family, and even those Christians from Rapture Ready who can't wait to die.

Let the religious spokespeople screech their lungs out, claiming that their God destroys, or demands the destruction of, everything around them. Let the extremists proclaim from the mountaintops that, according to their worldview, everyone is born a worthless wretch. These apocalyptic, pro-afterlife worldviews can't compete with science, materialism, or atheism. In today's free marketplace of ideas, the actions of these religious extremists help Kill The Afterlife.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Aaron Kinney Deconverted Again!

Yes, I just went through another deconversion. Don't worry though; I'm still an atheist! How can an atheist "de"convert anyway? No, this time it was a political deconversion to anarcho-capitalism. I have given up my addiction to the concept of government, and it only took me 10 years longer to give up government than it did for me to give up God and the afterlife! Just for the record, I will still refer to myself as a libertarian on occasion, because libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism are compatible concepts.

Kill The Afterlife is not a political blog, and I don't want to talk politics here (that’s what I have The Radical Libertarian for). But I thought my political deconversion would be worth mentioning, in part because a political deconversion is similar to a religious one (just how different are God and state concepts really?), and in part because I employ the Burden of Proof in my post at The Radical Libertarian blog. If any of your recall, the Burden of Proof was the subject of my very first post at Kill The Afterlife.

So all you atheists (and even pro-afterlife theists) out there, check out my post at The Radical Libertarian about my very recent deconversion to anarcho-capitalism. I think you will find it interesting food for thought, and I think you will like how I apply the Burden of Proof to politics and anarcho-capitalism.

Kill the state. Kill the afterlife.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More on Manata and Meta-Data

Paul Manata took the time to respond to my post. His response can be found here. Paul wastes no time in misrepresenting me:

I mean, these guys actually think that the laws of logic (not just our thoughts of them) are actually material entities!

This is not true. I never said that actual logical laws were material entities. I did say they are material, but I said they are meta-data or properties of material entities. More specifically, I said that logical laws were concepts used by humans to help understand the nature of the reality we exist in.

Maybe it will help if I say it like this: I assert that both gravity and the laws of logic are material, but I do not assert that gravity, or logical laws, are separate material entities themselves.

Manata then speaks about his views on the laws of logic:

...but I don't think that they are concepts. You can have a concept of a law of logic, but a law of logic is not a concept. In "A Companion To Epistemology" (ed. Dancy and Sosa) a concept is "... a way of thinking of something - a particular object, or property, or relation, or some other entity" (p.74, emphasis mine). So, I may think of my fiancé that she is beautiful, but is this concept my fiancé?! Basically, Kinney shows his ignorance of both concepts and logic.

Manata seems to be insisting that the laws of logic are actual separate entities if I am reading his fiancé analogy correctly! I have never heard anyone familiar with logic claim that logical laws are separate entities themselves! Does Manata think that the laws of logic are separate, immaterial entities? I am going to take a dictionary definition here to defend my position. Dictionary.com says that logic is A) A system of reasoning; B) A mode of reasoning; C) The formal, guiding principles of a discipline, school, or science. That sounds a lot like a conceptual tool to me. At any rate, it sure doesn't imply that logic is a separate entity, like Manata's fiancé is.

Of course, I must admit right now that Manata does not typically like it when I use the dictionary, as he has called it bad form before when I called it in to play. I am interested in seeing Manata's definition for logic.

At any rate, Manata cannot escape these truths. The laws of logic, like the theory of gravity, are conceptual tools used to understand the way reality works. What we call gravity and logic are simply properties of the matter/energy that the universe is comprised of. Properties of matter/energy are not independent entities themselves, but are data that describe data. They are the proverbial meta-data of the entities to which they belong.

Manata then continues on his fix of considering logical laws independent entities:

No, if I interpret Moore as saying that they are instantiations that does not rescue Moore from the problem of universals! Actually, what I said was that if Moore wants to take these as instantiations then he has the problem of universals! So, does Kinney even read and grasp what I'm saying? It appears not. So, interpreting Moore in Kinney's way actually brings up the problem of universals! That is, how can one entity be multiply exemplifiable? Kinney here shows he not only doesn’t understand concepts, logic, but he also doesn't understand the problem of universals.

First off, let's look at the Dictionary.com (gasp!) definition of "instantiation": To represent (an abstract concept) by a concrete or tangible example: “Two apples... both instantiate the single universal redness"

So logic is a concept, and the logical laws written in a book are concrete representations of the abstract concept of logic. That's assuming that we agree on the dictionary definition of the word "instantiation" which I'm not too sure Manata will agree with. But at least I have more ammo to support my earlier contention that logic is a concept and not an independent entity.

But let's get back to the universals problem. Manata said, "That is, how can one entity be multiply exemplifiable?" Remember though, that I specifically clarified earlier in this post that logic is not "one entity" as Manata put it. Logic is a property of reality, not an independent entity. But what if I were to say that logic was an entity and that it applied singularly to the entity of "reality"? Would it still be "multiply exemplifiable" if we considered logic to apply singularly to the single entity of reality?

Paul continues:

A logical law doesn't require matter for its instantiation. Also, it does not "depend" on matter for its existence, otherwise it would be contingent. Laws of logic are necessary in all possible worlds. There is no possible world were laws of logic would not/do not hold. So, what about the logically possible world, "matterless world?" Logic would hold in this world, and therefore cannot "depend" on matter for its instantiation. Furthermore, we're talking about logic qua logic, not the instantiation of logic.

Manata has it exactly backwards. Just last night I was watching the Science Channel and there was a special on the multiverse theory, where there are an infinite number of universes, all with different sets of rules. The rules change between universes, but the one constant thing is matter. Astrophysicists interviewed on the show talked about how the laws we operate in break down at the big bang singularity level, and how universes can duplicate themselves and have different laws between them. No physicist in the show ever implied that the laws were constant while matter was not. It was actually the other way around. And no scientist in the show implied a matterless world. In fact, they all implied that matter/energy is the one necessary thing for a "world" to even exist. What world can exist with no matter/energy, but with laws to govern said nonexistent matter/energy?

Remember, that if logic is a property of matter (logic is meta-data, and matter is data), then the logical laws would only exist if matter/energy was in that "world" too. I think the physicists on the show I watched last night would agree with me, as they clearly implied it when talking about the multiverse theory.

Regarding meta-data, Paul had this to say:

Huh? A concept is data about data? What about the concept: meta data? is that meta data about meta data?

Let me clarify. Thoughts are electronic signals in your brain. That is the data. These electronic signals are interpreted by your brain to have meaning. That meaning is the meta-data. And to answer Paul's question, the concept of meta-data is not meta-data about meta-data. It is just like every other concept. That seems like a silly question to me.

Regarding my claim that meta-data is material, Paul says:

Again, this is nothing but an assertion. Kinney just asserts this junk and offers zero arguments to back it up. I mean, he just thinks he can announce his view point and therefore that settles it?

Did Paul forget the part where I used a sound wave analogy? Or when I used a computer software analogy? Does Paul want to argue that a sound wave and a software program are both immaterial? Because that's what it seems he is saying.

Furthermore, Kinney cannot know, by observation, that "all meta data" is material.

True, I cannot observe all the meta-data in existence to confirm that it is all material. And Manata cannot know, by observation, that anything, including logic, is immaterial. Manata also cannot know, by observation, that God exists.

Kinney's argument:

1. All meta data is material.

2. Logic is meta data.

3. Therefore, logic is material.

Every premise is questionsable. Not one is obviously true. Furthermore, not one(!) of the books I have on philosophy or logic defines logic as "meta data" (not even Ayn Rand, Kinney's hero). Actually, and this is most embarrassing, logic is contentless. It has not "data."

Ayn Rand is not my hero. Maynard James Keenan is my hero, for the record. I even state this on my MySpace page that is linked from this blog. Where did Manata get this idea that Rand is my hero? I'm not even an objectivist.

And can Manata back up his assertion that logic has no data, or does he just assert? Manata should follow his own advice. All concepts are meta-data, and logic is a concept. Logic helps us make predictions about the universe and understand how things are. Logical concepts make claims about the properties of matter/energy. Sounds like it has data to me.

I'm wondering if Manata and I are using the same definition of "meta-data"?

Manata then provides arguments for why logic is immaterial, answering my previous charge that he cannot provide an argument. Thank you Paul for doing so. Lets look at them:

1. Material things are extended in space.

2. Logic is not extended in space.

3. Therefore, logic is not material.

Logic is not an entity, but a property. Properties are extended in space to the degree that the matter/energy they are associated with is extended in space. The speed of light is material just like light itself is material. Windows XP is material just like elecro-magnetism is material. And logic is material just like matter/energy is material.

Here's another:

1. If laws of logic are a material entities then they has location in space.

2. Laws of logic do not have location in space.

3. Therefore laws of logic are not material.

Again, the laws of logic are not material entities, but properties of material entities. So this argument is incorrect as well.

Here's another

1. If logical laws are necessary then they hold in all possible worlds.

2. Matter-less world is possible world.

3. Logical laws hold in matter-less world.

4. If laws of logic are material then they would not hold in matter-less world.

5. But they do hold in matter-less world.

6. Therefore, laws of logic are not material.

Premises 1, 2, and 3, and 5 are incorrect. Man do I wish I had a transcript of the show I saw last night on the Science Channel! A matter-less world is not a possible world. Logical laws can change between universes, but the existence of matter/energy is a prerequisite for the existence of a universe, according to the interviews of the scientists I watched last night on the Science Channel.

Here's another

1. Laws of logic are universal entites.

2. No material thing is a universal entity.

3. Therefore logic is not a material thing.

In response to premise 2, I would have to ask if the universe itself is A) material, and B) a universal entity?

Secondly, I never claim that if you can't burn a law of logic then it must not be material. All Kinney does here is show that he does not have the skills required to represent others arguments properly.

Oh boy. Manata didn't realize that I was trying to give a deliberately literal interpretation of what he said as a way to illustrate the way-too-literal interpretation that he made of what Dr. Moore said. Let's look at what Paul said regarding logic and it's materialism/immaterialism:

Furthermore, does Dr. Moore actually think that if he burnt his logic book he would be burning actual laws of logic?!

...And, does the good doctor seriously think he could crumble up a piece of his logic book, wet it and put it in a straw, and shoot someone with a law of logic?

See what is implied? Is it too far of a stretch for me to take Paul literally and to conclude that he said that if you cannot burn it or shoot it out of a straw then it isn't material? Is Paul conceding that I shouldn't have read him so literally like the way he read Dr. Moore so literally?

Before I post this, I want to take the time to thank Paul for responding so nicely. I read his entire post and didn’t feel insulted or offended as I usually do when reading what he writes about me. I don’t know if Manata consciously reduced the insults in his writing or if it was just be chance, but either way I want to thank him. So thanks Paul!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Manata: If it Doesn't Burn, it Isn't Material

Paul Manata thinks that concepts such as the laws of logic are immaterial. Manata has a bone to pick with meta-data, to be sure. According to Manata, if you can't burn the laws of logic, then they aren't material:

...does Dr. Moore actually think that if he burnt his logic book he would be burning actual laws of logic?!

Of course not. Dr. Moore is much more intelligent than that. And so is Paul, but he doesn't want us to think so in this case. Paul wants to blur the distinction between data and meta-data, and pretend they don't exist. Paul also wants it to look like Dr. Zachary Moore doesn't distinguish between data and meta-data. Manata takes one of Dr. Moore's statements out of context and way too literally - seemingly deliberately - in order to mount an attack using the problem of universals:

Dr. Zachary Moore has said, when asked if the laws of logic are observable entities, that,

"Of course they are. I can observe them any time I want in my logic book at home."

Now, Moore happens to think that the human notations are the actual laws! I mean, let's say his logic book has this notation expressing the law of non-contradiction:


So, since that is the actual law then if a book had expressed it thusly:


then that would be a different law of logic! If not, then we see that the same law can be instantated in two different expressions. Now Moore has more problems on his hands, namely, the problem of universals.

Dr. Moore clearly meant that he could see the instantiation of logic by reading said book. He didn't mean that he actually had the law contained within the book. You cannot contain concepts on paper, but you can represent the concepts on paper via meta-data. When I read a book by David Mills, am I actually consuming his physical electro-chemical thoughts? Can I destroy his actual thoughts if I burn his book? No!

If Manata really does think Dr. Moore literally meant what he said, then Manata isn't as smart as he seems. But I am betting that Manata knows better, and that he knows what Dr. Moore meant to say, but is deliberately misrepresenting it to be mean, to attack strawmen, and to generally give himself a rise from his own strange behavior.

If Manata acknowledges what Dr. Moore meant to say, then Manata's attack using the problem of universals disappears, and instead the problem lays on Manata's shoulders for his strawman attack.

We can expose the flaw in Manata's arguments simply by replacing "logic" with "sound wave." A sound wave is material (I doubt Manata will dispute that, but he might). A sound wave depends upon other matter for its existence, just like an instantiation of a logical law requires other matter (like paper and ink) for its existence. A sound wave -what you hear, rather- is meta-data, just like a logical law written on a piece of paper is meta-data. And any given sound wave, like when you talk or listen to your Walkman, is an instantiation of the concept of a sound wave, in the same way that writing down a logical law is an instantiation of the logical concept you had in your head.

And what is a concept? A concept is an idea represented by electro-chemical signals in the neurons in your brain. A concept is meta-data. A concept is purely material, just like all other meta-data, including logic and sound waves and the operating systems installed on our computers.

And meta-data, for anyone who doesn't know, is data that describes data. So a software program, for example, is the meta-data, and the electro-magnetic 1s and 0s that the software is composed of is the data itself. Another example is the sound wave: a wave of energy/pressure moves through the atmosphere, which is the data, and then you hear words from that sound wave that contain conceptual meaning, which is the meta-data.

A sound wave is not burnable. A sound wave is not containable in a jar. But a sound wave is purely material. The same thing applies to software programs, thoughts in your mind, concepts, and yes, even logic. Why? Because all meta-data is material.

Manata cannot even provide an argument for why logic is immaterial. The best he can do is misrepresent Dr. Moore's statements by taking them way too literally, and then claiming that if you can't burn a law of logic, then it must not be material.

At least Manata has the market cornered on banana jokes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Muslims to West: Allahu Akbar!

From CNN.com.

A Danish newspaper recently published some cartoon caricatures of Mohammad, the prophet of the Muslim mental virus faith. One of those cartoons shows the prophet wearing a Turban that resembles a bomb. The cartoons portray an extremist image of the Mohammad and of Islam.

So what does the global Muslim community do in response? Act in violent and extremist ways, that's what! I'm all for free speech of course, and I'm all for free protest too. But Muslims are causing property damage to Danish embassies in Indonesia and other regions, all the while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is the greatest). I'm not in favor of property damage, obviously. Also, I am not in favor of anyone reacting violently to an insulting caricature of a person who isn't even alive. But since in Islam, all pictures and drawings of Mohammad are considered immoral, I doubt they would be much happier even if the caricature was all flowery and complimentary.

Independent action and self-responsibility is a foreign concept to most Muslims (as well as most pro-afterlifers in general), and it's evident in how they praise God for every single causal act that happens in their lives. Newborn baby? Allahu Akbar! Death in the family? Allahu Akbar! Win the lottery? Allahu Akbar! A Yankee bomb falls on your house? Allahu Akbar! Got cancer? Allahu Akbar, dammit!

The Danish Prime Minister's reality check has gone unheeded by the infuriated Muslim protestors. The Danish Prime Minster said:

"A Danish government can never apologize on behalf of a free and independent newspaper. This is basically a dispute between some Muslims and a newspaper."

His legitimate disclaimer went unheeded because Middle-Eastern Muslims don't typically understand that a newspaper in the West can have an unrestricted and independent "mouth" that the Government cannot or will not control. The Muslims think that all of Denmark, indeed all of the Western World, is responsible for this offensive cartoon. Flag burning has not been restricted to the Danish variety over this issue. Why don't they just burn the UN flag? I think it would be more appropriate, since the UN flag has a picture of the entire planet on it.

I am also curious as to why Muslims think that their all powerful and all merciful Allah needs the help of their (by comparison) puny little selves to defend and protect Him? For God to even get offended is to imply that a human can force reactions out of Him, which would imply that humans can have power over Him, which would make the all-powerful Allah not so all-powerful, which would of course make Him not God.

While the whole Western World isn't responsible for the cartoon, a lot of Westerners definitely think of devout Muslims in the same way the cartoons portray. So the Muslim community is in a sense lashing out over their anger of how the West views them. At any rate, the Muslims are projecting. They want to blame the West for this offense, but in reality the only thing responsible for this portrayal of Mohammad is the institution of Islam itself! It is the mental virus faith of Islam that demands certain behaviors of its adherents. These Islamic behaviors leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who witness them, and in response, some newspapers speak their mind about what they see in the form of an offensive cartoon.

Who is responsible for this whole outrage? Nobody, unless you count Mohammad. The proper question is: What is responsible for this whole outrage? The answer is Islam. The answer is afterlife-belief, and it's dehumanizing, alienating, and demoralizing attributes. Think about it. The Muslims aren't even defending themselves, but their faith and their prophet. They are offended not because they were the target of an insult, but because their institution of Islamic faith was insulted. It is the Islam that the West is poking fun at, not the Middle-Easterners. And it is the afterlife-belief, in this case the Islamic faith, that is the problem.

I think that the French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, sums it up terrifically when he says:

"I am totally shocked and find it unacceptable that -- because there have been caricatures in the West -- extremists can burn flags or take fundamentalist or extremist positions which would prove the cartoonists right."

Yes, Monsieur Douste-Blazy, the cartoonists are right.

Allahu Akbar!