Archive for the 'religion' Category

Context, and why it’s important 3

Today just about every news outlet I can see is carrying a story on Sarah Palin announcing that the Iraq war is, “a task that is from God”. Everyone’s referencing the same quote — but unfortunately, they’re all misquoting it.

So here’s the full quote:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

Now watch this YouTube clip. Wait… Starting at ‘our national leaders’ is definitely an omission of important context.

Anyone who’s remotely skilled in conversation could condense this down to: “Pray … that our leaders … are sending [our military men and women] out on a task that is from God.” There’s a huge difference between claiming that a task is from God, and asking people to pray that it is.

I’m still not sure on my opinion of Palin, McCain, or even Obama for that matter, so hearing the truth about the candidates is important to me — can’t we at least avoid putting words into their mouths?

The Crusades 1

In this eBay listing for a Canon 10D digital SLR, the seller mentions that he’s “upgrading” to a Nikon system. Would it be rude to send him a message asking him to correct his description to “downgrading”? 😉

How? 2

After days ago, I started reading up on carbon dating (or radiocarbon dating) because it was something I’d discussed with my atheist coworker. Neither of us knew any specifics. My brief research has only brought up more questions. Specifically, the Wikipedia page on radiometric dating claims:

The uranium-lead radiometric dating scheme is one of the oldest available, as well as one of the most highly respected. It has been refined to the point that the error in dates of rocks about three billion years old is no more than two million years.

How do you determine the average error of a device that is quantifying an unknown value?

The most obvious solution would be to derive the error by using the same device to simultaneously calculate a known value. But it would seem that there are far too many variables occurring between the known values (for instance, the oldest known trees are ~7,000 years old) and the unknown values (in this case, 3 billion years), especially given an outlook that the world has been undergoing near constant change for the past several billion years.

Back to the Google.

Speaking in Contradictions 1

A coworker is a huge fan of Richard Dawkins, a vocal atheist. He’s pointed me towards a few books and even a video.

Yesterday, I was recommended to watch (and did) a talk that Dawkins gave at TED. Previously I’d only watched a few snippets of Dawkins that can be found on YouTube. I felt compelled to make a few comments.

First, I saw nothing more than the snickering and behind-the-back finger pointing (as someone makes a wisecrack about what “they” — the obviously mentally-anemic opposition, or they’d be with “us” — believe) that occurs in too many Christian circles. And so, even after a full 30 uninterrupted minutes in which to convince me that he might actually bring up an intelligent point, my impression remains unchanged: Richard Dawkins is nothing more than an atheism evangelist slash bigot. Why can’t the focus be logical arguments rather than insults?

Second, it seems that not only are Dawkins arguments often logically unsound, they are also often contradictory. As a specific example, in what I’ve watched Dawkins has repeatedly criticized Christians for only believing in Christianity/Creationism because that’s what they’ve been taught. However, while talking at TED, he triumphantly referenced studies in support of two points:

  1. Evolution/atheism is heavily subscribed to among the “intelligentsia” and,
  2. An inverse relationship exists between the amount of education one has and their belief in religion.

In other words, studies show that the more time one spends among the intelligentsia, the more likely it becomes that they’ll adopt the intelligentsia’s beliefs. Precisely what he criticized so vehemently.

I plan to watch The Blind Watchmaker in hopes of something worthwhile, but so far, I’ve been completely underwhelmed.