Questionable Motives

September 30, 2009

Daily quote

Filed under: General — tildeb @ 5:30 pm

We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.

Anais Nin (1903 – 1977)


Did You Know…

Filed under: Science — tildeb @ 5:19 pm

Hurricanes smaller hurricane

A typical hurricane releases some 600 trillion watts of heat energy, equivalent to 200 times the world’s total electrical generating capacity.

Now you do, thanks to Discover

The Exercise of Belief vs Respecting Human Rights – someone’s getting killed

Filed under: Politics,Religion — tildeb @ 5:12 pm


Iraqi militias are torturing and killing “hundreds” of men in a growing, systematic campaign against suspected homosexual activity that may be aided by Iraqi security forces, an international human rights group said Monday. Read the article here.

But Iraq is pretty unstable and many civilians are killed. Why single out gays for comment?

Well, I think this belief – that homosexual behaviour is chosen, unnatural, as well as against the will of god – is presumed to be accurate by far too many people who holds positions of political secular power, and is a belief that continues to need no preponderance of evidence to support the merits of the presumption. Yet it is this presumption that continues to drive anti-gay behaviour. And this behaviour is counter to the dignity, respect, and human rights of an identifiable group of people.

Here’s the opinion of newly-installed president of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, who responded to a question about a UN resolution which calls for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality:

“That matter is very sensitive, very touchy. As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it . . . it is not accepted by the majority of countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all. I think it’s not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition.

The Pope concurs:  [The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all. It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected. (From The New Scientist here.)

That’s not the right sense; that’s the religious sense, the same sense that presupposes the truth value of certain beliefs that dead people can rise, winged horses can fly to heaven, and so on. It is belief, plain and simple, without any necessary recourse to substantiation like reason and evidence but one that merely perpetuates the unsubstantiated belief.

So what?

Well, in the case of of special treatment for gays, it is a belief that not only undermines their human rights and dignity but powers reprehensible behaviour that directly and without apology clearly violates both. And that raises an interesting question: To hold positions of political and legal secular power, should not the applicant’s religious beliefs be legitimate  grounds for discrimination when the beliefs run counter to respecting the secular human rights and dignity of all?

Thanks, Evolution, For Making the Great Building Material Called DNA

Filed under: Science — tildeb @ 4:40 pm

Electronic computers are great at what they do. But to accomplish really complicated physical tasks—like building an insect—Erik Winfree says you have to grow them from DNA.

Read the fascinating Discover interview here.

September 29, 2009

Daily quote

Filed under: General,Humour — tildeb @ 1:12 pm

After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations.

H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956), on Shakespeare


Did You Know…

Filed under: General — tildeb @ 1:08 pm

Spam generates 33bn KWt-hours of energy every year, enough to power 2.4 million homes, producing 17 million tons of CO2.


Why do we need religion? The Pope explains… sort of

Filed under: Religion — tildeb @ 12:56 pm

faith fish

“History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions,’’ Benedict said.

Hasn’t history demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he includes god in his choices and actions?

The 82-year-old pontiff was making the three-day visit as Czechs prepare to mark 20 years since their 1989 Velvet Revolution shook off an atheistic communist regime that ruthlessly persecuted the Roman Catholic Church.

So the revolution was a response to the Church being prosecuted? Interesting historical interpretation.

The pope warned that technical progress was not enough to “guarantee the moral welfare of society.’’

And that’s because everyone was hoping that the i-phone had a universal morality app?

“Man needs to be liberated from material oppressions, but more profoundly, he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit,’’ Benedict told the crowd.

Does that sentiment include the Vatican’s properties and assets I wonder? I wouldn’t mind liberating that oppression. And I wonder which specific evils afflict the spirit and how, exactly does practicing a religious faith – specifically the Roman Catholic faith – save her from these evils. Oops. I mean him.

Read the article here

Advice to atheists how to seem to be nicer

Filed under: 1,Humour,Religion — tildeb @ 12:21 pm

First there was this bit of fluff posted at the St. Eutychus web site.

One might be forgiven to assume that the advice was well-intentioned… except for that word seem. That single word is a dead giveaway that the underlying assumption is that atheists, because of their lack of belief, are NOT nice.

Blogger PZ Myers hits the nail on the head with his response. Read it here.

Jerry Coyne adds his voice to the theological whack-a-mole criticism here.

And that raises an interesting question: Why should atheists be nice to those who are so willing to assume the worst of intentions about them?

September 28, 2009

Daily Quote

Filed under: Humour — tildeb @ 4:05 pm

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

Barry LePatner


Did You Know…

Filed under: General — tildeb @ 3:59 pm

The world’s first travel agencies were Cox & Kings, founded in 1758, and Thomas Cook, founded in 1850?

Now you do, thanks to Fast Facts.

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