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Comment Re:The US and US flags (Score 1) 622

How about its easier to say im defending the flag. Most Americans should understand that statement to mean you are defending all the flag stands for etc. Only asshats try to make that statement into something its not. Are you an asshat?

Most AMERICANS would. But this is the Internet, with people from lots of different countries and cultures.

When an American says "defending the flag" as short-hand for what he really means by that statement, it creates opportunities for misunderstanding and confusion when people that are not American read it. This entire thread started because a non-american wanted to understand better what meaning Americans applies to their flag.

Comment Re:The US and US flags (Score 1) 622

Discussions like this unfortunately tend to devolve into flamewars, and it seems other comments on this article has already gone that way. That is sad, because it would be really interesting to get to the bottom of why there is this cultural difference in how the flag is perceived in EU and US.

So what are military personnel?

I think we might be on to something here.

In America, the flag is culturally bound to the military as a whole and personal military service, right? So "disrespecting the flag" is seen as the same as disrespecting the sacrifice and service of both current and past members of the military?

In Europe, the flag does not hold that kind of position culturally, and I think it has to do with WWII. Imagine being born in Germany after 1945. Imagine what coming to terms with what your country did would do to post-war culture and the attitudes it would create towards the kind of imagery used by Germany leading up to, and during WWII. The flag was an important part of that imagery.

I think that is the reason why we see the flag so differently, but I would appreciate comments or corrections.

So, for someone with a US culture the flag is something to be proud of and a symbol of military service and personal sacrifice for the country. For someone with an EU culture, a flag is a symbol for one's country but it is also a symbol of something horrible that happened in Europe's recent past.

Heh, no wonder this leads to flamewars.

Comment Re:God (Score 1) 683

The SETI project is a modern manifestation of mankind's intuition that there may be or should be more to reality than our own existence here in this little corner of the vast universe.

Or it is simply a modern expression of man's need to understand the world around him. We see this behaviour in other animals, too "Curious as a cat". A need to understand the world would be a huge advantage for survival, both in early man and in other animals. I see no reason why this need should somehow vanish now that understanding the world is not that important for the immediate survival of the individual.

"the meaning of life"? Why is there this human quest for finding purpose of existence?

These questions would not arise naturally from sufficiently powerful cognitive abilities and the realisation that our mortal body is, indeed, mortal?

Why is it that the idea of sacrifice, the giving up of something valuable, often needed or at least useful for survival, is seen only in humans?

You want an explanation for the act of sacrifice in, say, agrarian societies? Put yourself in the mind of one of those farmers - one bad harvest and half the kids will starve to death. Would you not do anything and everything that you possibly could to affect the weather?

Combined with the "false positive" inclination to find agency in patterns (that would as I explained be an advantage for survival), is it really such a leap of mind to see that sacrifice to gods would seem like a good idea at that time?

In our modern world, many like to think we can look to science to explain everything

Well, they are wrong. Science can explain a lot (and it turns out, a lot more than people thought possible only 100 years ago), but there are things that are simply impossible to handle with the scientific method. If we are in a closed universe (as current models seem to show), then it will simply be impossible to test various hypotheses about the ultimate cause of the universe.

Science today explains at least some of what people looked to religion for in times past. But again, I see no chance in science explaining everything and everything with absolute certainty. What some religious people would have to do, however, is to change certain literal interpretations of their respective holy texts in order to avoid clash with science.

Science is limited to physical laws and phenomena, specifically the law of cause and effect. Science cannot, is not equipped to deal with effects where a cause cannot be established.

True. I don't think I've ever said otherwise.

"Is it possible for anyone to distinguish sufficiently advanced technology from the supernatural or miracle?"

I'm not sure I follow.. One could distinguish, I guess, based on what effort and energy would be required - at least if one posits an omnipotent god. Fiddling with the background microwave radiation of the universe seems like one, it would take an incredible amount of energy, power and control to put a message there.

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

...The Bible was translated and spread by humans, not by God.....

Of course God is incapable of employing humans as his agents, isn't he?

If one attributes the acts of humans to the will of God how is that any different than attributing the fact that a stone falls when I drop it to the will of God? That sounds Ash'ari to me..

Speaking of attributing agency where there is none, there is an evolutionary advantage to that behaviour. If one hears a noise in the bushes, it might be just the wind or it might be a tiger getting ready to pounce. If it is just the wind but you think it is a tiger and run away, there is not much harm done. On the other hand, if you think it is the wind while it really is a tiger... Those that are "false positive" in the meaning that they are more likely to attribute agency (even if it turns out to be wrong) have a higher chance of survival than those that are "false negative" in the meaning that they are more likely to think that there's nothing there (and hence have a higher chance of becoming a predator's meal).

I doubt that Newton, Pascal or Galileo or most of the other early scientists would be able to obtain tenure at any modern secular university of our day.

Ah, so you've seen Expelled then? Well, if you want to reinforce a persecution complex.. Is the film still only showed in closed screenings, or is it finally available to the rest of us so that we can publicly correct the factual errors in it?

(...and that rocks, fossils and the total sum of what we can test and observe are "witnesses"....)

They are witnesses, whose testimony is interpreted today with the underlying worldview that there is no God and everything these witnesses tell us is filtered through the presupposition that the entire universe is a result of probabilistic mechanical processes, not involving any thought or planning.

It is true that humans are rationalising animals, we have an in-built bias to choose explanations that confirm what we already believe. We have known this for a long time, and that is why the process of science (scientific method) has all these rules to try to eliminate bias. Just saying "goddidit!" doesn't really explain anything, it does not produce hypothesis, models and predictions that we can put to the test in any sensible way. As such, it is easy to come to the belief that science is hostile to religion or the supernatural. It really isn't, it is just a methodology that tries to eliminate *all* kinds of human bias.

All laws of nature are quite independent of the underlying beliefs or philosophies of the scientists investigating them to learn how they operate.

True. Ultimate cause is likely outside the set of problems and questions that can be processed by the scientific process. As such, our different beliefs about ultimate cause is something that we will just have to agree to disagree on - it is something that is likely not testable, so that is an area where we will just have beliefs and opinions. What one can test is specific predictions that certain religious beliefs profess (in the case of xtianity, for example global flood in recent history, or 6Ky old universe).

Is it not strange that so much of science is devoted to the past, trying to understand how things came to be as they are?

Why so? Everything we see around us are products of what happened in the past, so investigating the past is important to understanding the present and predicting the future.

All of these have to be interpreted and all interpretations are subject to the basic philosophies of the interpreter. There is no way to get around this.

That is more an argument against religion than it is against science. Science does at the very least attempt to minimise or eliminate the bias of the interpreter.

Hubble and others INTERPRETED this shift to be caused by motion of the stars and galaxies due to the well-known Doppler effect.

Countless dissertations and theses have been written on the rapid motion of galaxies and the so-called Big Bang.

Red-shift is not the only reason that current theory posits a Big Bang. Other observations that point in the same direction include microwave background radiation, the relative ratio of different elements (lots of hydrogen/helium, less amount of heavier elements, and the relative abundance of each), the large-scale structure of cosmos, and other things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_bang#Observational_evidence

You seem to have a cardboard strawman understanding of the scientific process. A hypothesis does not become accepted as scientific theory based on a single source of observational data. It only becomes a theory when it fits with several different observations (and it is still possible to falsify a theory if new lines of investigation show observational data that does not fit).

Rather than dump long-held, cherished theories developed over many years of academic studies, scientists were forced to come up with exotic constructs and ideas.

You mean like quantum physics? There was huge resistance in the scientific community to hypothesis like Einstein's relativity or quantum physics. If scientists were so resistant to throw away their "cherished theories" then they would still stick to Newton. Science is less resistant to new theories than you seem to believe, but science requires that these theories are supported by observational and experimental data.

Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, quasars and neutron stars and all sorts of other weird and wonderful objects are postulated to exist in the distant reaches of the universe.

There is much more observational and experimental evidence for these things than you seem to believe. In fact, I wonder if your dislike for science is actually rooted in misconceptions about what science is, what current accepted scientific theories actually say, the process that science uses for testing hypotheses and the amount of observational and experimental data that is needed for something to become accepted as a scientific theory.

For example, early in our discussion you said something to the effect of "we have never observed a bird giving birth to a plant" as if that in some sort of way was evidence that the theory of evolution was false. The theory of evolution claims no such thing. If you knew what the claims that ToE makes are, you would know that. Instead you argued against some sort of cardboard model of what you *think* ToE says. Which makes me wonder how much you actually know about current mainstream science.

You are mainly arguing against strawmen, against some made up idea you have about what science says instead of arguing against actual science.

When he first published this he was vilified by the mainstream astronomical and cosmological community and his data was dismissed as measurement errors.

"Vilified" as in the way Einstein's theory of relativity was vilified, you mean? Or quantum theory? What you interpret as "vilified" is just the scientific process at work. If a single new observation disagrees with an accepted theory that is supported by many different observations, one of the things that happens first is to see if there is any bias or methodology faults with the experiment/observation. That happens in *all* parts of science, not just those parts of science that you think is anti-god.

To their surprise and chagrin, their measurements corroborated Tifft's research.

Exactly. One other thing that happens is that others try to repeat the observation to see if their is really something there. That's just science at work. Why do you say "chagrin and surprise"? What they found is that red-shift shows some pattern of quantization, but that this pattern is nothing unusual when looking at the large scale structure of the universe.

What do you want, exactly? One observation found something that looked contrary to current theory. People investigated. It was found to not be so contrary after all. That is just science at work.

But for some reason you think that this is "vilification" and "opposition to cherished belief, therefore discounted". That is not what happened at all.

If the cherished interpretation of present-day measurable science is so hard to change with new data

It isn't. It is however hard to change long established theories that are supported by many different sources with just a single observation. If it had been found that the slight patterns in red-shift could not be incorporated in current theories, science would have gone into overdrive by scientists smelling Nobel Prizes.

In the study of origins and history, it is not possible to time travel and determine if the interpretation of the testimony of the witnesses is correct.

"All is witness, all is just interpretation, therefore goddidit". Ash'ari.

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

There really is no human answer to this question, but it is to me a clear manifestation, that a higher power, specifically God, is behind this. Jesus specifically predicted that his word would be spread to all tongues and nations and once that was accomplished He will return to Earth.

The Bible was translated and spread by humans, not by God. Why do you insist on seeing divine agency where none is needed?

No. If you study of the history of early western science and scientists you would learn that most of them were Christians.

So? Most people in the western world at that time were Christian. It is not exactly a big surprise that most western scientists at that time were Christian too. Not to mention that Christian doctrine at that time was not openly hostile to science, at least not to most of the science that was being done at that time. So I fail to see what this part of your answer has to do with Ash'ria.

My comparison to Ash'ria doctrine was a comparison to *your* arguments in this discussion we've had, not a comparison to general Christian doctrine. It is *you* who say stuff like "all theory is grey" and that rocks, fossils and the total sum of what we can test and observe are "witnesses" that has no more or less value as facts than the Bible. You are putting *one book* against *observed reality*, and you choose to give the book more weight. This is far out on the shallow end of the Bell curve compared to mainstream xtians and current xtian doctrine.

You do not have to reject your belief in God in order to accept mainstream science. Lots of people manage to do that just fine.

That really is the heart of the issue. We really don't want to be held accountable for our bad behavior.

We've been down this road before. Can you provide some *facts* for the assertion above? Do you *really* believe that God is the only source of morality? Do you *really* believe that the only reason one might have for choosing not to believe in the xtian god is because one wants to avoid punishment?

It is because of this, that we humans go to such great lengths to explain the existence of this incredible universe and all the teeming life forms here on earth, by any and all means EXCEPT an intelligent creator God.

Yeah, suuure. All the scientists toiling away at trying to increase our understanding of the world are really only doing so because they want to believe they can escape the wrath of Abraham's God.

In the Bible we read: "It is appointed unto men to die once, but after that comes the judgment". The first part of this sentence cannot be disputed, but the second part is not given much credence anymore today, especially by those who read and post to this Internet /. forum

It might perhaps be that /. is exposing you to a different part of the world than you are used to? It might perhaps be that your current interpretation of the Bible is not as prevalent as you might have been led to believe?

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

(nor your memories mere illusions in a universe created 5 minutes ago to look older than that)

5minuteism is obviously false, my holy book clearly says that last tuesdayism is the true faith.

Still, when taken to the logical extreme we can't really be sure of anything. We might as well be biological batteries in the Matrix, or artefacts of a very detailed universe simulation running on a supercomputer in Betelgeuse 5. So even a naturalistic world view requires a small amount of faith, specifically that we live in a causal reality and that our senses do not (deliberately) lie to us.

That is a topic that belongs to philosophy and not something one should lay awake at night thin.. oh dang.

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

...Indeed, it should be disregarded precisely because the creation account found in the Bible is demonstrably false...

Do you say this because you or anyone else was there and saw it happen? Exactly where and when has anyone demonstrated that this account is false?

Where and when has anyone demonstrated that this account is true?

The circumstantial evidence that it (6 days 6000 years ago) is false is staggering. Everything from geology to DNA to fossil record to astronomy points at an old universe and an old earth.

We observe that the universe is here and arrogantly assume that from things present we can determine how it began. Such incredible human arrogance I cannot understand it.

You know, you could perhaps read up a bit on the history of Islam. Especially the Islamic Golden Age and the reasons for its decline. What you write below sounds eerily like the doctrines of Ash'ari, which in short said that human reason should be secondary to what was written in the scriptures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash'ari
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occasionalism

While it certainly was not the sole reason why Islam went from a centre of science, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, engineering, and many other fields to what we can see in the middle east today, it was certainly a contributing factor.

Is it really your goal to attempt to do the same to western civilisation? Can you perhaps understand why some of us are so opposed to your ideas? It is not because we want to avoid being judged at death, it is because your path leads to decline and unreason.

That is why, unlike any other book, the Bible, which claims to be God's communication to man, has been and still is more widely distributed and translated that any other human writing.

Argument from popularity again. You accused us of doing the same once, but you do it repeatedly. Pot, kettle, black.

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

....Encoding a binary message in the cosmic background radiation would do the trick for me....

That assumes that you have the intelligence and the equipment to receive such a message in the first place. If the message is encrypted, and you don't have the key

*snip meanderings*

So, he had this objective truth recorded in a book. Written by humans. Translated several times. A book that this omni-everything being must have known would be internally inconsistent and a source of wildly different interpretations.

Why not *also* send modern man (who he gave intelligence, sufficient intelligence to see that this book would be unclear and open to interpretation) a clear message from the source itself? In a way that would not have the weaknesses of this book?

But no, here you come along with some story about how it would obviously be encrypted. Why on earth would he do that?!

Comment Re:God (Score 1) 683

The main problem I see with that explanation is that no other animal "evolved" any kind of behavior that could reasonably be termed "religious". No animal has ever been observed in what could be described as prayer or worship.

To get organised religion, one would need language/communication. Animals might have some sort of spirituality or religion, but absent the level of language needed to make organised religion it would have to be on the level of personal belief. So how would one detect if an animal has some sort of personal belief or not? Keep in mind that prayer and worship are human expressions of religious belief. If an animal has some sort of religious feeling or belief in a larger power outside itself, how would it show this and how would we recognize it? I think you are asking for something that would be very hard to detect. Even if we detect it, it would be inconclusive and open to interpretation.

I am reminded that elephants show behaviour that looks suspiciously like mourning their dead. If this can be taken as a display of religious belief or not is obviously a question of interpretation.

Everything than humans do, animals have also been observed doing, of course on a vastly lower level. If you can name any other activity that man does, that is not at all found to some degree in some animals, please do so.

Humans have an abundance of language, culture, dance, creative expression in many forms, the capability of abstract thought, high self-awareness. While you also can find some of this to a small degree in animals, I believe there is a threshold one has to get above before one sees behaviour that we humans would recognize as some sort of organised religious belief.

Nobody has ever explained to me how the "wasting" of resources and energy on religious activity, collectively or individually, makes humans more "fit" to survive. If anything, NOT spending time and effort building cathedrals, churches, synagogues and mosques, as well as engaging in other religious trappings, such as embarking on long weary, dangerous pilgrimages to distant places, should be an evolutionary advantage to those groups and individuals who avoid all that.

Building expensive places of worship and going on hazardous pilgrimages is a very recent thing, on an evolutionary scale. You are talking about fairly recent displays of worship; and displays of surplus at that. More common human displays of worship and spirituality on an evolutionary relevant scale would be things like cave paintings and covering a dead tribal elder with flowers and putting a walking stick in his grave to aid him on the journey in the afterlife.

When it comes to what advantages religion would have for early man, there is lots.

Remember that most religions in those days (from what we can gather from what artefacts they left behind, and of what can be learned from isolated tribes today) were animist. As such, they attribute a "soul" or some sort of intelligence or purpose to plants, animals and natural phenomena. In short, nature becomes a person/force/deity that the human mind can attribute cause and will to. Apply some lore and an oral tradition, and you have a framework where tribes of early man can gather and remember information that is important for survival. ("When the god in the sky turn the heavens grey and the daughters of Ibis take to their wings and fly to their father Mountain, then we must travel down to the river. Ibis is alone from watching eyes, so this is when Antelope will bring his children to visit her. We will wait for them at the ford")

In short, religion fill the needs for group cohesion, enforcement of mores and collection of information useful for survival. We see lots of evidence for this even in "modern" religion; the Bible and other religious texts from the same era has a fairly small volume of text spent on genesis or creation but has pages upon pages of social mores, rules, laws and histories.

Man alone has been given a unique ability and yearning to communicate with his Creator. That is why there never has been and never will be a culture or tribe that is not religious. Even those who deny the existence of God, eagerly spend billions in programs such as SETI

Man has a yearning to understand the world. If we had no desire to understand the world, we would likely have gone extinct. The early explanations we made for how the world works were attributed to gods or the supernatural.

Comment Re:Theoritical grounds for the DC multiverse (Score 1) 683

Or worse yet! It'll be an amalgam crossover, and I'll be a mix of Bucky and Scud, under the name of Bucky the Disposable Sidekick. Oh no, wait... that would be redundant, he was already disposable.

You know, I first parsed that as Bucky from the comic Get Fuzzy. Which made the above an oxymoron, Bucky Katt is not that easy to get rid of.

Comment Re:Why would you want to be locked in again? (Score 1) 771

Lord knows our modern operating systems are stoneage and an abomination. MacOSX is just an extremely polished old turd. Go beneeth the surface and the smell reeks.

That is true for pretty much any operating system (the based on old stuff bit).

Still, old does not necessarily mean bad. To give an example, the mainframes of old did a lot of interesting things with hypervisors / virtualisation; VMs on PCs is being touted as the new and shiny thing, but in many ways it is just a reimplementation of many of the concepts that were commonplace on mainframes of old.

Comment Re:That's entirely beside the point (Score 1) 683

Did God reveal objective truth to us or not?

So, riddle me this: If this God of yours intended to reveal objective truth through the Bible, why did he do such a shoddy job of it? The thing is so open to interpretation and riddled with contradictory statements that it can be used to justify pretty much anything as "God's will".

If he is so omnipotent/omniscient, why did he not encode his truth in the background radiation of the universe or at the very least use some other means of bringing this truth to us instead of using those books that he must have *known* would suffer from translation and interpretation problems? If this truth of his is so important, he should have spent some more godpower on packaging and stamps to make sure it got delivered to us in a usable state.

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