Actually, ignorance of the law is a valid defence for U.S. federal tax crimes, a rare exception to this principle. In Cheek v. United States, a tax protester had his conviction overturned because the jury had been instructed that a belief that one is not breaking the law only negates willfulness if that belief is reasonable. Of course, he owed his taxes with penalties whether he was convicted or not, and he was convicted anyway upon retrial.
There's some interesting history behind the Board of Longitude. It was formed in 1714 to judge prizes of up to £20,000 for a reliable method of determining longitude at sea (this was the scientific problem of the day, comparable to the modern search for a cure for cancer or theory of everything). In the early days, the board was flooded with crank proposals, and the commissioners' duties consisted of individually writing letters of rejection. When John 'Longitude' Harrison arrived in London in 1730 with plans for a clock that could keep accurate time at sea, the Board of Longitude, though it had been in existence for more than fifteen years, kept no headquarters and had never held a meeting. He sought out one of the board's most famous members, Edmond Halley, at the Royal Observatory.
Halley knew that longitude could be determined from the time if a sufficiently reliable clock could be built, but that was a big 'if'. Not exactly qualified to judge Harrison's ideas, he sent him to the country's leading clockmaker, George Graham. Harrison went to see Graham in the morning; Graham invited him to stay to dinner and finally sent him off with a generous loan with no interest and no hurry to pay it back. Harrison took five years to build the sea clock, which performed beautifully on a test run to Lisbon, and he had every right to demand the test run to the West Indies required to claim the prize, but one person was unhappy with the clock: Harrison. He could build one even more accurate, he thought. And he could make it smaller. All he asked was £500 for further R&D.
Harrison finally became satisfied with his clocks in the 1760s, around the same time that the lunar distance method became practical; the methods were widely used in conjunction until the price of marine chronometers came down. The Board of Longitude stuck around as publisher of the The Nautical Almanac—of which you've found the first edition—and was finally dissolved in 1828.
Incidentally, Harrison's clocks were the subject of a memorable simile by Lord Byron, in Don Juan:
Oh! She was perfect, past all parallel—
Of any modern female saint's comparison;
So far above the cunning powers of hell,
Her guardian angel had given up his garrison;
Even her minutest motions went as well
As those of the best time-piece made by Harrison.
It's a Futurama reference. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIWHMb3JxmE
The idea is that the value of gold is very stable, with its price only climbing because of the ever-falling value of fiat currency, so pricing goods in a quantity of gold will give an idea of the real value. You often hear such things from people who want to return to the gold standard. For example, "the stock market might have gone up 200% in nominal terms, but if you price it in gold, it's still just one-eighth of an ounce."
Wishful thinking. Plenty of people see sceptical arguments on the Internet and are not convinced, and some people even still convert to religion rather than away from it. Predictions that atheism or deism will soon conquer superstition throughout the civilised world have been a "year of Linux on the desktop" thing for centuries—think of Nietzsche's famous pronouncement that "God is dead!" But this seems about as likely as conquering the presumption that atheism is "obvious" and nobody who gives the question thought will come to a different conclusion. Loudmouth "philosophers" like Richard Dawkins have made a lot of noise in the last ten years, but there's no reason to see any more significance in this than in 19th Century crowds flocking to hear Robert Ingersoll, or H. L. Mencken's ridicule of belief in the pages of the American Mercury.
What, anywhere? Of course.
The Met Office made a post on their blog repudiating the Daily Mail report, noting that this is the second time this year that this reporter has published misleading information on this subject: http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012/
Chick Fil-gay can and absolutely did say what they said.
You believe they deserved massive free publicity and record-setting sales?
Both are correct.
Under the influence of Christian theology, you have totally misread Genesis 3. The Book of Genesis was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus by men you do not think were divinely inspired, so why do you blithely accept that its purpose is to set up the Jesus story by establishing the need for redemption?
In "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," "knowledge" is meant in the sexual sense in which it is used elsewhere in the Bible, and "good and evil" is a figure of speech called a merism, two opposites joined by the word "and" to mean "everything," like when we say in English that someone searched "high and low" to mean that they searched everywhere. After the couple eats from the tree of knowledge, they immediately become aware for the first time that they are naked (Genesis 3:7), and then Adam "knows" his wife (Genesis 4:1) and conceives Cain. Nowhere in the text is this knowledge depicted as intellectual or ethical. The part about labour pains is not a curse like the curses on the man and the serpent; she will have pain bearing children simply because she has chosen to have procreative sex rather than to live forever. It has to be one or the other, because it was recognised in ancient times that reproducing immortal beings would overwhelm the world. Genesis does not judge Eve for what she did; maybe it's a good thing that she brought sex into the world. Anyway, since this immediately follows a contradictory creation myth (Genesis 1:1 through the first half of Genesis 2:4), it's clear that neither was meant to be taken as literal historical truth anyway.
I mean, just look at your post! You don't do anything to show that the words Aquinas wrote were anything other than a work of fiction; instead, you hammer on his authority, try to show off your historical knowledge, and seem to be arguing that because I compared Aquinas to Rowling I'm wrong. You say nothing to bolster what should be your point, namely that Aquinas is right; instead, you harp about how I'm disrespecting him.
No, my point is that most critics of the church are ignorant of its teachings and traditions. I am not a Catholic.
Do you have a bachelor's degree in philosophy and have concluded that Harry Potter contains no meaningful ideas?
So you haven't read (or, I suspect, heard of) the Summa, then? You see no problem with criticising the church when you are ignorant of its teachings and traditions? You are willing to vocally criticise the church when you have not given even cursory study to the logic behind its point of view?
Not only that, but you, who are unfamiliar with the work of St. Thomas, feel that all the respect for him by people who are familiar with his work must be undeserved just because he believed in the existence of God? If you knew who he was and had a specific problem with his reasoning, I would respect that. Instead, you are just dismissing one of the most important figures in Western philosophy by comparing him to J. K. Rowling because you are unwilling to consider the possibility that somebody came up with an answer to your devastating "prove it" argument in the 13th Century.
You're the one who brought it up; are you saying that you were only making a general statement without having any specific examples in mind?
Yes, I was just making an observation about why people believe in God. If you want an example, though, consider Acts 9:3-9.
The Harry Potter novels fill seven volumes and should address all of your epistemological concerns.
Wow, you've got some balls to equate a thinker like St. Thomas Aquinas to J. K. Rowling. I guess you have a bachelor's degree in philosophy and concluded that the Summa contains no meaningful ideas after studying it in the original Latin?
If they personally experienced the presence of their Lord, did He provide any means of verifying this fact? Perhaps by telling them something they otherwise wouldn't know? Maybe by doing some healing (since He seems to be fond of claiming that particular miracle)?
Because, you know, without that little bit of external confirmation - well, there's all sorts of drugs that will make you feel like you're in the presence of God (and another class entirely that'll make you feel like you are God). If such effects can be achieved pharmaceutically, why is the actual presence of God more likely than a spontaneous hallucination of God?
What are you asking me for?
The Summa Theologica fills five volumes and should address all of your epistemological concerns. Whatever philosophical complaint you may have against the Christian religion, chances are somebody thought of it hundreds or thousands of years ago, and Christian scholars found it wanting.
Of course, any logic or evidence, however convincing, will be irrelevant to someone who feels they have personally experienced the presence of their Lord. Such experiences are quite common, especially in deeply religious cultures, and even among non-believers. You might tell them that they're hallucinating, but they experienced it and you didn't; who are you to tell them they imagined it?
So let me get this straight: the soul has no observable effect on the universe, yet it exists anyway? Could you clarify what leads you to believe this hypothesis? Or maybe I'm misinterpreting you somehow.
I thought it was pretty well-known that the idea of a world more important and more enduring than what we observe is central to the Christian worldview.