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Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46135125) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Your contributions to this discussion have been an overall negative. You don't bother understanding the context of the conversation nor my position. Two of your three posts have started out with unfounded personal attacks on me. Your preference for insults and personal abuse indicate a lack of logical and rational thought.

I'm arguing only for keeping options on the table that haven't been conclusively ruled out. You apparently made up your mind without the need for anything but dislike of people holding alternate beliefs. You haven't presented any scientific backing for there being no supernatural creator. You haven't provided any scientifically supported explanation for what happened before and led up to the Big Bang (or any other alternate theories for the creation and history of the universe).

I haven't argued for any particular creator. In fact, I've said that I give no quarter to any religion that I've encountered, including yours. By the dictionary definition of atheism and the one you used earlier, I am an atheist. However, the lack of rational thought, common courtesy, and respect for others that you have displayed in this thread is unfortunately too common among self-professed atheists, which makes me hesitant to give myself that title. I have no desire to be associated with anyone like what you've displayed in this thread.

Barring a sudden and dramatic shift in your posts, I will not be wasting any further effort responding to your ill-considered personal attacks.

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46123593) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Again, technically, I have "doubt" about whether or not the invisible pink unicorns exist, but practically, I know that the idea is just absurd and is obviously (to me) made up. Whereas you might have to go around saying "there's no evidence that they don't exist, so maybe they do", I proceed directly to the "they don't exist".

And that's certainly your prerogative. Just understand that you are taking a position based upon belief, faith, or whatever you care to call it.

I'm interested in how you process the existence of various gods in various religions as there have been many different gods created at various times by people. Do you consider them all equally valid or do you choose to believe that only one exists? If so, how did you narrow the field down to the correct god? (Atheists just believe in one less god than Christians/Jews/Muslims).

Personally, I doubt any of the gods created by mankind are correct or legitimate. But just because we haven't gotten it right so far does not necessarily mean there must be none.

How the universe came about is a topic that isn't decided, but I'm far more likely to think that an explanation that is testable is of far more interest than metaphoric hand waving (e.g. the FSM created it).

And I don't disagree, but what is your testable explanation? If we accept the premise of the Big Bang, how can we speak to time before time existed? I've read papers from theoretical physicists who claim no theory that speaks to anything prior to this time can be testable or known.

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46123167) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Rather than one of semantics, yours is one of assholeness.

Wow. It took you two whole messages to run out of constructive thoughts. Impressive

You are ignoring all meaning behind using the passive voice, because your personal view is that it's cowardly, and has no semantical meaning. It is a "softer" way of wording the same thing. Whether because of the belief is "weaker" or the confrontation is to be avoided may depend on the person speaking, but you ignore the words used to assert the meaning, or interrogate the speaker until the meaning is determined to your narrow demands.

No, not even close. Could you at least read the thread and think about what I've written before firing off a response?

Sometimes the answer is simply, "I don't believe there is a god." I don't believe there is a pink unicorn downstairs, but I have no proof to that effect.

You are exactly right. You are positively asserting a position that likely never will be proven. If you understand and accept that, then you have no point to make here. My issue is with those who want their belief in no god to be rational and scientific while simultaneously thinking those who believe in a god are irrational lunatics.

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46121161) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Proof of this is analysis of language. When someone says "I don't believe you filled up my [cup/fueltank/bathwater] sufficiently" they mean "I believe that you did not fill up my [whatever] sufficiently" but is worded in a passive manner.

In your example, if I ask directly "Was your cup filled", you can easily answer "No, I know my cup was not filled", which is what you meant to say. This an easily discernible situation. Words have multiple meanings and I'm not arguing the appropriateness of specific words, but what you actually mean you say them.

If I ask "Does a supernatural god exist?" and you say "No, I know such an entity does not exist", you have no means to determine the truth of your statement. You do not know this in the same way you know your cup was underfilled. Yet, you are willing to stake out the same position. I don't care what words you use, but that you apparently believe these two examples are similar. That you have the same quality knowledge/belief/whatever about these two situations. Yet that is not true.

a-theism means without-God. Anyone who doesn't affirmatively believe that there is a god is an atheist. Believe that knowing the answer is impossible? Doesn't matter. You either believe, or you don't. Most agnostics are atheists. As my father put it, he's "agnostic" because it's more polite. He actively disbelieved in God (or believed in the No-God, if you prefer), ,but self-identified as agnostic so that people wouldn't take his beliefs as contrary.

I don't care either way about your definition of atheism. Again, the words you choose to use don't matter a lot and don't change my argument one bit. If you take the position that there is no god or supernatural being of any sort, you have staked out the same territory as the religious who believe there are.

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46120191) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

The "do not believe in ..." leads naturally to the "believe there are no ..." as we generally require some proof/evidence of the existence of something before believing that it exists.

I'm okay with you requiring proof before believing something exists. My issue is your assumption that actively not believing in it is the natural alternative. This is logically incorrect. There is a middle area where you are unsure if it exists or not.

It's the standard position that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and without that kind of proof, then I have no good reason to believe in something simply because it cannot be disproved.

Again, see my response above. I'm not arguing this point. It is the next step of assuming this means you can positively disclaim the possibility that I argue.

You could say that I am unsure if pink unicorns exist and technically, I am unsure...However, I personally take a shortcut...When presented with fanciful stories (especially ones that seem to have an ulterior motive) I take the default position of not believing in it.

And this shortcut is the problem. When pressed, you are finally willing to admit you are unsure. But that isn't your default answer nor one you want to give. There remain areas on this earth hardly touched by modern science. We discover new species on a daily basis. If I were betting on it, I'd definitely put money on there being no pink unicorns but I cannot say I know they don't exist. I agree that it is very doubtful that such a creature exists, but neither you nor I know that they don't. Claiming they don't exist is a statement based on faith, not scientific knowledge.

Like I said, it's largely just a semantic difference between the two statements as they are so closely related.

Then I suppose you are willing to grant the same minor semantic difference to someone who knows there is a supernatural god? Of course they can't really know it, but they've decided that the odds are against the entire universe being created from nothing based upon the currently defined laws of physics. Science still has no good answer for how the universe got here and what happened before that. Your lack of extraordinary evidence is sufficient for them to comfortably believe in a Creator, right?

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46092655) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Not believing in gods is not an act of faith.

Ahh, I see either you fall into the same camp or you're being intentionally dishonest. I clearly said that claiming there is no god is an act of faith, which is not the same as not believing in a god.

The distinction between "I believe there are no invisible pink unicorns" and "I do not believe in invisible pink unicorns" is not particularly relevant to most atheists and usually just an exercise in semantics

You are correct in your first statement, the difference is not important to many atheists. You are wrong in that is it just an exercise in semantics. There is a huge difference. In your first quoted sentence, you are taking the affirmative position that pink unicorns do not exist. In the second, you are unsure if pink unicorns exist.

Comment: Re:Texas Barely Registers (Score 1) 544

by CowTipperGore (#46091221) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Too many atheists are merely disillusioned Christians who cannot grasp the notion of being okay with uncertainty. To claim there is no god or supreme power in the universe requires just as much faith as claiming there is one God who gave you a book of rules. If you want to go insane, try to explain to the average atheist that these two statements are not logically equal: "I believe there is no god" and "I do not believe in a god". As long as you espouse the former, you remain firmly in the faith-based realm of religion and myth.

Comment: Re:Teach all alternate theories (Score 1) 770

by CowTipperGore (#45990087) Attached to: Creationism In Texas Public Schools

We homeschool and do not do it for religious reasons. We live in the heart of conservative Christianland and there are secular groups even here. We are a minority but a growing one. The stereotype to which I objected is out of date and only serves to discourage others.

Comment: Re:Private enterprise to the rescue (Score 1) 292

by CowTipperGore (#45989445) Attached to: Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

I work for the largest gas distribution company in our state and I agree completely. Like any utility (electric, water, sewer, cable, telephone) there is almost never a business case for a second company to invest in duplicate infrastructure. Our state semi-deregulated gas distribution by requiring local distribution companies to provide transportation services to any customer who requests it. This means that you can go find your own source of natural gas and pay us for the use of our pipes. This isn't a consumer-friendly process, but for industrial and larger commercial customers, they can save money and not be stuck with whatever the regulator says our rate is.

Comment: Re:Private enterprise to the rescue (Score 2) 292

by CowTipperGore (#45989359) Attached to: Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

Generally gas distribution companies are allowed a baseline "lost and accounted for" amount of gas that is built into their rates. Anything above that either requires serious documentation/explanation or is taken out of the company profit. There is incentive to get to that baseline number but extremely diminishing returns after that. As you say, that could change if other costs were factored into the equation.

Comment: Re:Private enterprise to the rescue (Score 1) 292

by CowTipperGore (#45989311) Attached to: Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

Their rates are set to guarantee a defined return on investment.

Actually, the rates are set to ensure a utility does not exceed an allowable return. The utility tries to get as much investment included in that calculation, so that these costs are included in the rate base. However, the PUC/PSC does not guarantee any minimum rate of return. My employer approached their allowed 9.9% return last year, for the first time in at least 8 years.

If the Commission denies the request (to keep rates down) the liability is a business expense and the Corporation gets to charge the customers and add ROI to that, too.

While there are exceptions, this generally is not true. The general rule for regulatory accounting in this space is that capitalized costs can be recovered but O&M (expenses) cannot be. There are some allowances for liabilities like bad debt.

In our state, the cost of the gas is a pass through - no mark up and (eventually) no loss, although it isn't uncommon to be over or under by millions from year to year. The return is built into the flat customer charge.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson