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Comment: Re:TNSTAAFL (Score 1) 272 272

If history teaches anything, it's that when private industries become nationalized, the service quickly turns to shit. The reason for that is simple: It becomes a monopoly so the people who provide the service don't have to worry about competing with anybody else.

Sounds like you need to go back to history class. Bell, acting as a tightly regulated monopoly, managed to develop basically ALL of the technology of the goddamned information age. Seriously, starting with vacuum tubes, which allowed the first coast-to-coast phone call, and their crazy drive for reliability, which led to the development of the transistor. They developed digital transmission, fault-tolerant communication, operating systems, programming languages, the cellular phone network, etc, etc. Landlines are pretty damn bulletproof too - I don't know if I EVER dropped a call. They literally invented the field of quality control just so they could provide reliable service.

The point is, your conventional wisdom which purports to be fact-based is entirely wrong. The service provided under that regulated public utility might have been pricey, but it WAS reliable and constantly improving via Bell Labs innovation. And besides, have you checked your phone bill lately? I for one haven't seen my costs dropping precipitously.

Comment: Science progresses one funeral at a time (Score 1) 692 692

What this means is: society will stagnate if the old generations aren't continually dying off to make way for new ideas. Especially considering the fact that age gives you a huge leg up in society - you have time to take advantage of compounding interest, you have seniority at the workplace, you have experience, you have an extensive network of successful and similarly well-connected people. As it currently stands, this is tempered by the fact that your body and mind deteriorate until you eventually must stop working, leaving room for less experienced people to take over the vacated roles.

Even as it is though, the fact that the boomers are living longer, and generally did a shitty job saving for retirement, means that they are sticking around in jobs far longer than they should have, which means promotions for newcomers are fewer and farther between because there's no room being made at the top.

To make progress as a society, to come up with new theories to extend relativity and quantum mechanics and lead the way forward, we need to allow old thinking to die and new thinking to take its place. When human mortality ends, so does human progress.

Comment: Re:Maybe science went off the rails... (Score 1) 444 444

No doubt all of these things are necessary - I'm just saying that any student who is capable of such things is already far above and beyond their peers. Even those basic standards often aren't met by "scientists" who are getting published in major journals, so it isn't much of a surprise that high school students aren't getting there.

Yes, it should be much better, but this is just one entry in a long list of things that are wrong with education.

Comment: Re:Maybe science went off the rails... (Score 1) 444 444

I think you are overestimating the average science student. The fact that they've even measured something and gotten within an order of magnitude means two things: they have actually DONE an experiment (rather than just a survey or some engineering project described by a poster) and secondly, it is falsifiable! (ie, the result actually has meaning in a scientific sense). Getting those two aspects right will instantly put a student in the top few percent of projects in a school.

Furthermore, most of these things are done at a middle school level, sometimes at a high school level. Although many criticisms could be levied against their experiments, what is the real point? To have a flawless experiment? Or for students to understand the scientific process? Experimental design and clear communication about complex topics is much more important than accuracy of results, and the science fair venue is adequate for that.

I don't disagree with you that we need higher standards, but the science fairs are merely a symptom of very deep systemic problems. For starters, anti-intellectualism and ineffectual teaching (because of crappy teacher education) are good places to start.

Comment: Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

The trinity is clearly present throughout the Old and New Testament.

Citation needed. Nowhere will you find the word "trinity", nowhere will you find "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" spelled out directly. The Trinity is inferred, a theological construct. In this particular case, I have no objection to it, but we shouldn't pretend it is literal scripture - it is derived, indirect theology.

You are correct that Christians today do use terms which are not found in scripture - word for word. We use terms like rapture to describe the events as written in 1 Thess. 4, 2 Thess. 2, and Revelation 4:1 (hereafter being after the church age of Rev 1-3). It is easier to just use one word that is understood among believers than to read out 1 Th. 4 every time you want to talk about the event.

The idea that all believers will vanish and disappear into the sky is said nowhere directly in scripture. The Left Behind series has about as much to do with the Bible as Taco Bell has to do with Mexican cuisine. The entirety of rapture theology was conceived in ~1830 - so it didn't exist for most of the church's history.

These are literal Bible truths.

They aren't. They are indirect interpretations made by humans, but you've read the bible in that light for so long that you don't see any other possibilities there when you read it.

My point is, biblical literalists often aren't really taking the literal meaning of scripture - they are taking one specific interpretation of scripture, a certainly flawed theological construct (being developed by humans, and diverging significantly from past doctrine) and claiming that it is the only possible interpretation.

You decry the schisms within the church, but in my mind the phony appeals to Biblical literalism, and every denomination's tendency to mistake theology for scripture, is exactly the problem. We must admit to one another that even if the Bible is divinely inspired and completely flawless, our individual readings of it will always be slightly different and mistaken, and hence we shouldn't get too caught up in any specific brand of systematic theology because we are all certainly mistaken in one detail or another.

The point being: we can say, with no doubt whatsoever, that Love is the priority of Christ. The bible communicates this both taken as a whole and taken as specific verses. Holding this belief also will tend to make us act more like Christ. The rapture, on the other hand, is clear only if you interpret many different verses in very specific ways, and it isn't clear how it fits into the overriding message of Love. What's more, it causes its adherents to behave in very un-Christlike ways... after all, if this world is going away, why care for it? If people's souls are all that matter, we should just evangelize to them and ignore their earthly troubles, right? This is an attitude not at all in keeping with Christ's actions, and this theology produces very "Bad fruit" in believers, so why defend it?

Let's be true literalists, and humble ones, and focus first and foremost on those things that are unilaterally clear from the text, and be willing to compromise on anything that is an indirect derivation of scripture. This attitude will tend to unite us by promoting the things that all Christians already affirm, and it also has the fortunate tendency to move contentious issues into the sidelines, where they belong.

Comment: Re:Finally (Score 1) 866 866

There has been zero correlation between health and religion.

False. A study in the 1996 (Kark et al.) has found that death rates for 3900 Israelis in religious and non-religious settlements over a period of 16 years were lower in religious communities.

Also: Church attendance has been found to increase life expectancy (Hummer et al. 1999) with a life expectancy at age 20 of 83 years for frequent attendees and 75 years for non-attendees.
I could do this all day, it is well established in the literature.

This contradicts your first point, as it might make me happier ( and it does ), to be an Atheist and it might make you happier to be a Christian, so if we sustain in our own areas of belief, then we will both see a correlation between mood and our actives.

That has nothing to do with my first point. If you want to be an atheist and find that works for you, go for it. But don't pretend that there isn't the possibility that Christianity has a positive impact on its practitioners, such that it is *entirely reasonable* to continue engaging in it, at least from a cost-benefit perspective.

It's a fact that the OT in The Bible, God tells man he can rape ltitle girls, and to show I'm not joking or making that up, check out this verse: Judges 21:10-24 NLT.

Reading comprehension: try it.

There are plenty of ethically troubling commands by the Old Testament God, but this isn't one of them. This is a group of tribal elders telling some people in the tribe to go kidnap women to be their wives. Yes, it is a bad thing, but nowhere is "little girls" implied, and it is explicitly *not* a command from God.

Finally, to sum this all up, there is no good reason to believe in religion, there is no good reason to believe in God, believing in an unproven, non-existent being who created the universe, wants to punish you, demands you give money other is not rational. Religion is now the security blanket of the adult who is to scared and worried to grow up and venture into reality.

In all areas you have completely failed to recognize the actual meaning of the words in front of you. Because, my assessment was that *belief* isn't the only thing defining rational behavior - it also matters what the impact on your life is. There are criticisms of religion to be made, but you've managed to completely avoid the good ones - all you're doing is manufacturing weak strawman arguments.

Comment: Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

To set the record straight, the reason the early church was successful was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which empowered them to witness, helped change their lives by increasing good qualities (love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness and meekness) to quote the standard list as a baseline, and which gave them power to act and demonstrate the difference between Christianity and the other religions of the time through the gifts of the Spirit.

Do you realize that this kind of language is totally alienating to anybody who isn't a Christian? "The Baptism of The Holy Spirit" is first of all, not directly scriptural (the trinity is inferred from scripture, not explicitly stated. For fun - neither is the rapture mentioned anywhere whatsoever.)
So you aren't talking literal Bible truth here, you're talking elaborate constructs of theologians.

Either way, I think you've basically managed to dress up my original contention in churchy language that fits into your ideological framework - the early Church was compelling to Christians and non-Christians alike. The modern church is dwindling. I think that's because the modern church has gotten very far removed from following Christ's example.

Regardless of your assertions, it is the attitude of the heart that causes the difficulties with God. All things - nice or not nice - are just things. It is the attitude of the heart toward them that causes the issues.

You are asserting a problematic position that may be defensible through theological exercises, but which causes Christians to totally ignore the example of Christ. If the heart (and salvation) is all that matters, then certainly we are justified in torturing people to save their souls, yes? Consider: A tree is known by its fruit - it is not possible to have a good heart and commit terrible acts, nor is it possible to do Christlike things with a bad heart. As Christians, first and foremost we should be concerned with following Christ's example and loving our neighbors. Instead, the church has been most worried about battling gay sex. Strange, that.

Yes, church history is littered with problems. But it is also littered with truly good people and ministries.

Those good people get led astray by bad theology. Stop allowing manufactured theology to distract you from the most potent of Christ's words. Christians are called to sell everything and give to the poor, not create megachurches. Christians are supposed to be known first and foremost for showing love to *everyone*, not for launching massive political campaigns against the margins of society.

If Jesus was here today, who would he be hanging out with? I wager it would be the LGBT crowd and atheists, because those are the equivalent of the samaritans and tax collectors of his time, people who are distrusted and marginalized by entrenched institutional religion.

Comment: Re:Finally (Score 1) 866 866

I'm probably going to regret engaging with a troll, but here goes:

Religious people are, on average, happier and healthier. This is supported by science. Participation in a religious community of any kind confers many significant benefits that are well supported in the scientific literature. So, it is not only rational to be involved, it is arguably irrational to abstain!

No, I'm not saying everyone should become religious. What I am saying is that a rational actor is someone who evaluates the impact of an activity on personal happiness and well-being, and continues to engage in those activities that increase personal happiness and well-being. A huge part of religion (of any kind, I'd warrant) can be appreciated with no belief whatsoever. Take an edict like "First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" - this is a call to self-skepticism and forgiveness of the faults of others, which is a useful and beneficial message regardless of how you assess the reality attribute of the person who is recorded as saying it. I tend to value any activity that helps motivate me to be a more thoughtful/kinder/more honest version of myself, and religion regularly does that.

It is easy to ridicule an absurd strawman (I believe in a sky daddy because I'm ignorant of science), but it would be much more *rational* of you to realize that it provides meaning and value to the people who engage in it, and that perhaps there are reasons (hint: nobody REALLY goes to church because of fear of hellfire anymore) that all successful human cultures across history have accompanying religious traditions.

Comment: Re:Inconsistent (Score 1) 866 866

No. Christians claim that there's a very specific condition. John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There may be some debate around what what it means to believe in Jesus, but if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn't believe that, they're not really a Christian.

on the other they say if you don't love God and follow His laws you will go to hell. There is no logic to religion.

Again, no. It is not possible for a person to fully love God and follow his laws perfectly, which is what made atonement through Christ's death necessary. Hell is separation from God. As noted above, God gave a very specific way for people to spend eternity with him. If you don't want to believe in Jesus Christ, then you spend eternity separated from him. That seems perfectly logical to me.
 

You have a narrow view of Christianity, and Hell. Specifically, you are espousing atonement theology (we did bad stuff and deserve to die, Christ died instead) and a Hell of eternal conscious torment, neither of which is the only (or the historical, or most self-consistent) view of Christianity. You acknowledge some ambiguity about what "belief" means (judging by your other statements, I assume you mean some kind of cognitive posture is implied .. either a prayer that was said, or some kind of earnest mental/emotional commitment) but the biggest ambiguity in my mind lies elsewhere - what is meant by the "world"? What is meant by "perish"? What is meant by "eternal life"?

Here's the thing - the OP is essentially right - you've added some semantics to his paradox (how can unconditional love have conditions?) and basically talked some more about the condition, and ignored the original complaint.

So, some food for thought: many early Christian thinkers were not Creationists. Many of them have been (or allude to being) something along the line of Universalists (for ALL have sinned, and fall short of the glory of god, but the gift of god is eternal life). The Hebrews of Jesus' time didn't likely believe in hell (or even an afterlife) in the sense that modern theologians have defined it. Which means that Jesus and the people who wrote the bible likely didn't believe in those things either.

Really, the bulk of the theology you espouse can be tied back to the invention of fundamentalism in the early 1900's, this "Old Timey Religion" that was basically manufactured out of wholecloth: http://religiondispatches.org/... . Historical Christian theology has had very different views, and much of what people find objectionable about Christianity today is actually a product of this fundamentalism, not anything about Christ's message.

Comment: Re:surprised? (Score 1) 866 866

The engines of media are actively working to tear religion* down: few films in the last 40 years (aside from those specifically built for sale to the isolated Christian demographic) have identified-Christian characters that don't prove to be motivated to evil thereby.

Have to disagree with you on this one. It is implicit in many, many films (and explicit in some) that the main characters are Christian. The Captain America films are a particularly obvious example, for instance. There is an immense pro-Christian bias in American culture and media, to such an extent that nobody notices it like a fish doesn't notice water. Watch exclusively Asian films for a while and note - how many times does a character go to a confessional, or go in to a church for a funeral, wedding, or holiday? When a character dies, do people cross themselves, ask a religious figure to say some words? These things happen constantly in all American films - the "persecution" of American Christians is totally illusory.

And at any rate - by your argument, you could make the case that Hollywood has been trying for decades to engender hate and distrust towards people with handlebar mustaches. Yet you don't see ranks of abundantly moustachioed gentlemen complaining about misrepresentation. Christians need to stop whining about this trivial stuff.

Comment: Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

Jesus taught wherever he could. Much of the teaching time of Jesus (and the early disciples for that matter) was done in the synagogues and the temple at Jerusalem. These were arguably "nice" buildings. They also did a lot of teaching literally in the "field". Jesus, however, didn't spend time teaching on matters of the physical church plant as I recollect. He dealt primarily with eternal issues.

I would also argue that even the early tabernacle that God specified himself was pretty nice, with many gold and silver features. If you translated the dollar value of the portable tabernacle into today's terms you'd be shocked. Solomon's temple was even more magnificent. The New Testament also makes it clear that those who work for the kingdom of God have a reasonable expectation of being compensated. So I am hard pressed to point to scripture that specifically condemns "nice" things. The problem arises when pride, envy, jealousy and the like start to get involved (particularly when things get too nice at your facility or too nice for a particular neighbor church and the people start wishing they could have those things locally as well). The attitudes of the heart are the real danger and not the things themselves.

Every Christian has enough means to give to both God (through His church) and to help the poor. Not all can give monetarily, but all can give something - whether time, money, or materials.

All of the theology in this post is absolutely terrible. I don't necessarily blame you for it, because you likely haven't heard anything else your whole life and likely your whole family believes similar things, but still: this is the path by which Christians manage to ignore the majority of what Christ himself said.

The reason that the early church was successful and grew as it did was because of two things: it challenged the assertion typical of the time that the poor and downtrodden were worthless, literally lesser human beings than the rich and powerful. It also backed up this assertion by providing food for the poor and help for the sick, etc etc. So much so that over several decades it overtook the entire Roman empire. It doesn't require any advanced theological constructs to explain this behavior either - people simply took the example of Christ (feeding the hungry, healing the sick, spending time among the outcasts) and enacted it directly.

The thing is, a lot of that stuff is difficult, because people LIKE to have nice things, they LIKE to make money, the LIKE to have a nice clean house where homeless people aren't stinking it up all the time. So over the centuries, as Christianity became entrenched, theologians went to work to construct elaborate rationalizations - e.g. "The attitudes of the heart are the real danger and not the things themselves." - that made it easier to ignore the difficult parts of Christianity.

The point is, Christ was known for reaching out to the outcasts. Early Christians were known for reaching out to the outcasts. Modern Christians are known for: Giant megachurches, sleazy televangelists, and hating gays.

Comment: Re:Laws of Physics were written before dark matter (Score 1) 416 416

Correction to myself - I had millinewtons in mind, but I see that they in fact observed only ~50 micronewtons... my calculations (very well could be wrong) show that with a 30C temp differential and a 100cm^2 radiating surface you could get 7E-05 Newtons of thrust... or 70 micronewtons. So that very well could explain the effect.

Comment: Re:Laws of Physics were written before dark matter (Score 1) 416 416

Similarly I would not be surprised to found out that this EM drive is simply getting hotter at one end and being propelled by black body radiation from the hot end, still looking for a good enough write up that says they factored that out.

Interesting thought, but was there much of a temperature differential there? Unless that thing had a lot of hot surface area (neighborhood of 1 square meter @ 100C) concentrated exclusively on one end, blackbody radiation isn't going to come close. No doubt it is worth investigating in a thorough review, but unless there's serious heat there (hard to imagine at the power levels they've been at) the impact would be far into the noise.

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