On Morality

Frequently, I find that atheists and freethinkers will point out the moral flaws in famous religious figures, apparently in much the same way that creationists will claim that Charles Darwin was a terrible person. Frequently, religious people will respond that this is an ad hominem attack on the faithful, or that we’re just poisoning the well. If this were true, those who engage in such “character assassination” would be no better than the creationists who attack evolution by attacking Darwin’s character. Naturally, this is not the case, as the actual argument from the immorality of religious people, or the greater morality of the irreligious is not an indictment of religion in general, but a rebuttal of the common claim that religion is necessary for moral behavior, or that the non-religious are immoral. That part of the argument has a tendency to get forgotten or omitted, either because the author expected the audience to be aware of it, or because the reader missed it amidst the “character assassination.”

Just thought I’d help clear that up a bit



I’m still here

Just very quiet. Apparently that’s me in a nutshell. Either I have nothing to say, or I explode with a torrent of useless babble. I wonder if this blog counts as a failed experiment yet, or can I salvage it, like I will with my roommate’s saltwater tank?

Does anyone out there read Russian? I got a comment in Russian the other day, with a link to Tzeentch only knows where. I figure it’s probably spam, but I don’t want to throw it out immediately.

People are funny

Well, they at least make me laugh, which is close enough. Got a hit the other day from the search string “does uncooked pasts expire.” I see what happened there, and it’s the sort of spelling error I make all the time, but it got me thinking. “How does one cook a past?” One can let a memory or thought simmer, is that the same? Would “past” be an acceptable synonym for “memory”? If so, does thinking over a memory qualify as cooking it, and does this in any way affect the shelf life of said memory? I would expect an uncooked past, by this definition to expire much faster than a cooked one, but a cooked past would probably taste a little different than a raw one. I guess that would be the point of cooking one, wouldn’t it?

Just something that got me thinking.


My mother, despite being a devout Catholic her entire life, has done more to foster a love of learning, and a need to question, than any other person in my life. By actually answering my questions, she encouraged me to ask more, which, eventually, led to my atheism. Ironic, but, thank you, Mom.

I have two issues in mind right now, and both of these were raised while I was in Catholic school. The questions were, 1)”Why did they use the cross for execution?” and “Why did the pharisees oppose Jesus?”

Both of these questions had previously been answered by my mother, and I had forgotten. The first, “It was an easy way to put up a human on display.” The second, “They, like all people, were afraid of change.” What did my teachers, a nun and a priest say? The first, “Well, we use the cross as a symbol because Jesus died on it.” The second, “Well, the pharisees show up a lot in Matthew, and they frequently oppose Jesus.”

That was it. Both questions were completely avoided or totally misinterpreted. I hope it was the latter, but the former seems more likely on the second question. This has bothered me for over eight years. An easy, sensible, likely right, answer was there, but the priest, who should know the answer, avoided the question entirely.

Just wanted to vent.


Chili. Specifically, chili with beans. Chili, clearly, is not the beans. However, the dish is frequently called “chili con carne,” literally “chili with meat,” and can often be made vegetarian. So it’s clearly not the meat. In that case, what is chili? If it has neither beans nor meat, what is left?

Sadly, as interesting and fun as the original thought train was, research led to the conclusion (seen at the Wikipedia article above) that it is, in fact, in the chili is in the chiles, which was the original term. It’s mostly in the mixture of spices, with things like beans and meat being added for substance as much as for flavor. Nonetheless, it can be seen, even in this mundane example, that no individual part can be said to be the essence, and that the essence is an emergent property of the parts when put together.


As a result of being both intensely curious and fabulously nerdy, I tend to think about random things a lot. This results in a fact or question filtering into my mental filing system, and giving birth to a spontaneous hypothesis, built on little more than speculation. I will be storing these in this post, and future posts under th “hypothesis” category. Read the rest of this entry »

AHA! (PHI 215, lecture 4)

Consider this:

Fourteen is twice (2x) seven, but only half (1/2) of twenty-eight.

What’s the difference between seven and twenty-eight? Twenty-one! Noticing a pattern yet?

What’s twenty-one? Three times seven, and three and seven make ten, which is two times FIVE!

Coincidence? I think NOT!