Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Look - The Sequel!

In an effort to keep things readable, I've decided to go with a lighter and more readable theme. I like it a lot, and I hope you guys do too. I found this one on deluxe blogger templates which I highly recommend you visit if you ever want to grab a great theme that will match whatever color/mood/personality you're looking for. Leave me a comment and let me know if you like this new theme or wish I had my old one back.

I also did away with the forced uniform lowercasing of all the words. I thought it looked stylistically cool, but in the end it didn't help readability, so I'm back to pleasing all the English teachers out there.

You should all check out Revision119's new website to keep up to date on "The Fall of E.V.I.L. Corp." We're going to try to build this game in such a way that you will actually be able to download and play the game on your own computer without a hitch. That is, if you own an Xbox controller... But who knows, maybe we'll add functionality for the keyboard as well. It's up to YOU! Leave me a comment if you are going to want to play this game and don't have a controller you can plug into your computer.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are you just a “monkey’s uncle”?

If I were a monkey's uncle, I would imagine that I would have a brother who gave birth to a monkey. This seems like what a Creationist might think evolution works like, but hopefully AiG has a better grasp on science than that. I was laying in bed last night, all excited for the newsletter they would send me today, and it does not fail to disappoint.
A: Perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow for any Christian who attempts to “make peace” with Darwin is the presumed ape ancestry of man. Even many Christians who uncritically accept evolution as “God’s way of creating” try to somehow elevate the origin of man, or at least his soul, above that of the beasts.
Why do Creationists have an obsession with Charles Darwin? He was indeed a smart man and contributed much to the science of biology, but we have come much farther in the last 150 years than he probably ever even dreamed. I think they like to pick on him because he provides a nice punching bag that can never retaliate (since he's dead). Or maybe he looks just a little bit too much like the image of Yahweh they have in their heads. In any case, it's funny that they accuse some Christians of "uncritically accepting" evolution, because that's EXACTLY how Creationism works. The easiest way to be a Creationist is to ignore all of modern science, claim that radioactive dating doesn't work, quote a few frauds that nobody bought, claim that we don't have any transitional fossils, and quote Genesis like it's the unadulterated literal truth. People like myself who decided that they could think and look at the facts for themselves with an open mind came to realize that by deciding so, it's inevitable that you stop being a Creationist. But this is too much for some people - thinking openly like that could almost be seen as blasphemy by some believers.
God tells us that on the same day He made all animals that walk on the earth (the sixth day), He created man separately in His own image with the intent that man would have dominion over every other living thing on earth (Genesis 1:26–28). From this it is clear that there is no animal that is man’s equal, and certainly none his ancestor.
Did he have dominion over crocodiles, elephants, rhinos, and... oh yeah... dinosaurs? I'm sure he would have liked to have think so. One can only wonder what would have happened the first time Adam tried to steal food right out from under a T-rex's nose. This passage certainly makes more sense when you understand that it was written long after dinosaurs died out and the writers had no idea that they ever existed and assumed that man could just dominate everything. Those pompous goat-herders.
Thus, when God paraded the animals by Adam for him to name, He observed that “for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:20). Jesus confirmed this uniqueness of men and women when He declared that marriage is to be between a man and a woman because “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). This leaves no room for prehumans or for billions of years of cosmic evolution prior to man’s appearance on the earth. Adam chose the very name “Eve” for his wife because he recognized that she would be “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).
Well, according to Genesis 2:18, in the beginning God just created them male - as it pertains to Adam. Because he (or they in 1:26?) forgot to make a pal for him in the beginning, God conjured up a woman from one of his ribs and a bit of special sauce he had laying around from when he forgot to use all of it on his most absent-minded work, the platypus. It is kind of interesting that God paraded all of the animals to Adam, considering that there are billions of different species (or hundreds/thousands/whatever of however you define "kinds"), many of which wouldn't have been able to come to him. What about polar bears, kangaroos, and koalas? Each of these would have been on different continents, not to mention ALL of marine life. Though I would like to personally thank him for the name of "llama." That's always a fun one to spell, and it even looks like the animal itself. How clever!
The apostle Paul stated clearly that man is not an animal: “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Corinthians 15:39).
This is exactly why people at AiG don't understand science. It's because they give a man who lived in 1st century Rome (supposedly as a pharisee) a soapbox for talking about science and it just doesn't make sense. Do all beasts have the same flesh? Are there only four fleshes? In context, Paul was talking about how flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Which is interesting, because didn't Elijah ascend into heaven in his physical body?

Actually, never mind that question, it's not important. What we godless heathens should realize is that there are really two ways of acquiring knowledge about our universe. One is with sound reason, evidence, testing, and peer review, and the other is with one hand on the bible while the other reaches toward the sky. Or, if our hands aren't in that position, they'll probably be in our ears, chanting bible verses until the evidence goes away. But that's OK, because then you'll know that, once you can forget the science that challenges your worldview, you can go back to believing in Creationism, having thoroughly investigated the evidence while not relying on supernatural presuppositions that only find their basis in one book in all of history. Right?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why are we punished for Adam’s sin?

This is a big question to pose for a loving God, so I'm surprised that AiG decided to tackle it in under 200 words. Well... not really tackle. More like brush-by-so-that-its-shirt-barely-ruffles.
A: When Adam sinned, his punishment was death (Genesis 2:17). Because of Adam’s sin, death came upon all men. Some have said that it is harsh for God to punish all of Adam’s descendants for something Adam did. But is it?
If it is true that we are punished for what he did, then that is extremely harsh. (But to be sure, we're not punished for what she did, even though she did it first, because women weren't as important. Or something equally as stupid.) Parents, I know that disciplining your child can be a hassle sometimes, but just imagine doing it the bible's way. If your firstborn is a complete rebel and gets all into trouble, you are to punish him. Then, when your next child is born, you are to punish him for his brother's crime. Your next daughter? Punish her for it too. You will repeat this for as long as you have children. It's about as fair as what we have in Genesis which comes from the perfect book, so I would see no conflict there

The answer is simple—we are without excuse since we sin too (Romans 3:23; 5:12), and we all deserve death before a perfect Holy God. To assume Adam’s descendants are innocent is a false assumption. Due to the sin nature received from Adam, death is coming for all since all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
But I thought the theological reasoning for us all sinning was because we have a sin nature, not the other way around. If that's so, and our sin nature causes us to sin, and we all have sin natures against our will, then this is just circular reasoning. I'd imagine, according to what I was brought up learning, that if I never had a sin nature, I'd never sin. Then I'd never need punishment. But because God gave me and all of you sin natures, we don't have a choice and we're all doomed. Thanks big guy!

It is illogical to think that two imperfect people could produce perfect offspring. Since Adam and Eve had both sinned and been cursed then it would be impossible for their children to be perfectly free from sin. So the real question is: why would God permit sin nature to pass along to Adam’s descendants?
In what sense do you mean "imperfect?" If physically, then I would probably agree. But when it comes to invisible non-tangible spiritual things I wouldn't know. Are sin natures passed down in the genes when a baby is formed so that it has its own brand-spanking-new sinful nature? Or is God planting it there and hoping we won't blame him for it? Or is it somehow duplicating from its parents and spiritually attaching itself to the child while God sits back and calls it good? I don't know, but the logic here is very suspect. Without the sin nature, I think it would be safe to say that yes, Adam and Eve's children could have been perfectly free from sin. Besides, "nothing is impossible with God," so couldn't he just remove it with a snap of his fingers? It would be a good starting point.

But thank you for asking a question and then not answering it. I'm guessing you most likely don't have a good response and want to leave it up to the reader to decide. I'm going to deduce it's because the idea of original sin is full of holes and doesn't match up with the attributes of the Judeo-Christian god. No, you never answered the original question. God "permitting" sin nature to progress is still a punishment no matter how you play with the semantics. The God of the bible isn't perfectly loving, fair, just, merciful, powerful, or knowing, despite what your bible may tell you.

I'm not expecting believers to look at this blog post and say, "yeah, now I see his point of view!" But hopefully this will act as a starting point for doubt. If you can look at an issue like this and not be challenged by it, you either have far too much faith or simply aren't being honest with yourself. Try looking at this from an outsider's perspective and try to rationalize Yahweh with the word "fair."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Proof" That God Exists

The Proof[sic] that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything.

Thank you,! And no, I'm not kidding. This is actually the crux of the site.

Before they pop this golden nugget of wisdom up onto your screen, you're led through a series of yes/no answer pages asking you if you believe in logical/scientific/mathematical/moral absolutes. (And if you say you don't care if absolutes exists, it just shows an exit button that links to the Disney website. I feel like I should be insulted.) It's really a waste of time though, as they expect you to answer yes to every one and at the end, they quote the scripture about all men having the knowledge of god. Then, on the very next screen, they display this previously quoted block of text as if it somehow follows. Here, I'll break down each of their sections and explain my answers in detail.

Laws of Logic: These laws exist in that we can conceptualize of them. They don't exist in any tangible way; they merely describe the way our universe works. It follows in this reality that if premise A and premise B are true, then the conclusion will be true as long as it follows both premises. I fail to see how this is in any way directly or tangentially related to any concept of a god.

Laws of Mathematics: These laws also exist only in conceptual form. Mathematicians have defined operators such as +,-,/,×, etc. to have certain meanings on specific sets of numbers. This is a human system, not a divine one, so again, this seems to be unrelated to any diestical proposition.

Laws of Science: These exist, though creationists like Sye TenB (creator of this website) often have misunderstandings about what these are. A scientific law is a statement about a specific phenomenon in nature that is always true under a specific set of conditions, such as Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. Laws are not a "higher tier" than theories but are rather incorporated into theories as explanations of systems that extend beyond the laws themselves. But I digress - these laws actually exist to the degree that we can confirm them. These laws are necessarily inductive in their nature which means that we could be wrong about any of them (but we're generally pretty confident). I think this website meant to say something along the lines of "there is uniformity of nature," though that wouldn't seem to suit their purposes later. (See their arguments against radioactive dating measures.)

Absolute Moral Laws: This is where it necessarily gets tricky. Not because I don't believe that morality can be absolute or objective, but that, at some level, it is necessarily subjective. I don't want to go into too much detail about it here, but suffice it to say that under any specific definition of morality, we can make absolute and objective claims about actions, pertaining to the definition, that will have positive, negative, or neutral value. None of this requires a deity (and about the rape and child molestation in the Bible, they are commanded and not prohibited, respectively) and as such it is a poor example. Perhaps Sye expects us to naturally assume a god is required to believe in rights and wrongs but I won't grant him that, despite being the kind man that I am.

The Nature of Laws (a): I have confirmed that all of these "laws" exist (with the knowledge that some of these are poorly worded) and declare that they are immaterial.

The Nature of Laws (b): Here's the problem: all of these "laws" are lumped together as one unit and I have to either accept or reject the fact that they are man-made or universal as a group. I'll just say that they are all universal if we consider that under each of their specific definitions, they are either true or false regardless of who interprets whatever falls under their umbrellas.

The Nature of Laws (c): Are these laws changing? Well, theoretically we could redefine mathematics so that 2+2 no longer equals 4, but I don't ever see that happening. Logical absolutes cannot change and the principle of uniformity tells me that scientific laws probably won't change either. Morality, however, is either static or flexible depending on how you see it. It is flexible if you see it as a set of rules, since these rules can change based on culture, religion, and what people enjoy or dislike. It is unchanging if you see it as a means by which to increase well-being and decrease suffering, as any other definition would seem to render any talk of morality meaningless. But I'll just go ahead and answer "unchanging"...

Filler page ("preproof"): To summarize, "If you don't believe, my god's gonna getcha! But it's sooooo obvious, I mean, who could deny it? My god's eternal power (you know what that means) and divine nature (with 'divine' being a well defined and meaningful word) are just radiating from every rock, crocodile, and roadside hooker. If you think he doesn't exist, YOUR STUPID!"

"Proof": "The Proof[sic] that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything."

I fail to see and you've failed to show how any of this requires a god. Because there is uniformity in nature, I must be compelled to concede that a god/creator/something made it? What? I don't think your bold and unfounded assertion makes any sense for even the most abstract concept of god.

If I require a god to believe in absolutes, and god is an absolute, then isn't this just circular reasoning anyway? I don't think the guy who is running this website knows anything about logic, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm overlooking something.

To be clear, there are two different concepts at play here: reality (ie. the universe and the way it works) and our descriptions and models of how it works, some of which we call laws. And this website is apparently claiming that I require a god to make a conceptual model of this universe based on deductive and inductive principles. Sorry but, to be blunt, you've spent far too much time on what appears to be just another creationist non-sequitur.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Comments and Voting System

Hey everybody, I'm glad that people are using the thumbs up/down feature on my blog. However, it would be way more helpful if, in addition, you posted some short comments (especially if you disagree) so I can know if or where I went wrong.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can we "stand on the promises" logically?‏

This week, Answers in Genesis released a slightly shorter but oh-so-sweet email newsletter. It's such a privilege to be on this mailing list because it's really become the highlight of my week. I feel like I barely have to comment on it at all. Any rational person will just stare and laugh. Nonetheless, let's begin the breakdown.
When explaining their beliefs, Christians often feel they must first prove the Bible or prove the existence of God. This approach reveals that they do not yet understand the Bible’s approach, known as presuppositional apologetics.
If I recall correctly, the creationist Eric Hovind likes to talk a lot about "evolutionists'" presuppositions about the theory, stating that they start off assuming that it's true and look for evidence to support it. (We all know that's not the case and that's not how science works, but let's not focus on that now.) It's actually funny how AiG is now trying to turn the tables on us and tell us that this is how Christian apologetics are supposed to work. However, this wouldn't be the first time that two Christian ministries tell us completely opposite things.
Presuppositions are simply beliefs that everyone has that affect how they think, view the world, interpret evidence, and read the Bible. Apologetics is a reasoned defense of beliefs. So presuppositional apologetics is a reasoned defense of Christian beliefs based on recognizing our presuppositions.
Presuppositions are not merely beliefs, they are beliefs that rest upon assumptions. Clearly, if this is how far back Christian apologetics has been set back - that they must now rely on assumptions - the surely, they must be a dying cause. However, it's difficult for me to tell what sense of assumption they're talking about here, so I'll have to give them some benefit of the doubt. If they perhaps mean that the presuppositions are things that people believe prior to engaging in a discussion, then I can accept that as somewhat reasonable.
For instance, our presupposition is that God exists and He has given us His Word (the Bible) that is absolute truth. So we use the Bible as the basis for how to think, interpret evidence, explain the world around us, and read the Bible. An atheist’s presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative. An atheist believes that man decides truth, and so he thinks, interprets evidence, and views the world and Bible accordingly.
Whoa, whoa now. Slow down. Why start throwing out falsities right at the end of your letter? I already had enough to deal with here. If you're a Christian trying to dialogue with a non-believer, you simply can't rely on your presuppositions to be convincing. Maybe Christians don't understand this - after all, I get quoted plenty of Bible verses that claim I'm wrong and am destined to an eternal hell, but why should I care? If you're a Christian, my quoting the Koran or Vedas to you won't be any kind of effective. Why do you think it will be any different in my case? It may be tough, but you have to dig deeper until you can arrive at something upon which to debate that does not rely upon mutually conflicting presuppositions. You just won't get anywhere otherwise.

But really, why do butcher the atheist's position so terribly? Most atheists don't believe there is no god, they just lack beliefs in any. There's a difference (though it's probably irrelevant to you). I don't know of any atheist that think the truth is relative, but if one ever did say that, I'd ask him, "Is that statement absolutely or only relatively true?" That's a self-defeating statement. I believe the difference between Christianity and atheism is the idea that we can attain absolute truth. Simply because it exists does not mean we can always know it, and the fact that we don't know everything about anything means that we probably never do. What I think is truth is based on empirical evidence confirmed by other unbiased sources - not the books of the Bible which were written in a time of mass ignorance. (Though I don't mean to imply that the Bible is totally ignorant on all issues, because it's not. There are good things to be found in it, to be sure, but there are also many bad and incorrect things.)

I don't believe that man decides truth any more than rocks define it. Truth is "what is," and what is, is, independent of us wanting to believe it (or being able to know or even understand the concept of any arbitrarily chosen truth). No, Christians are the ones that rely on man to decide truth. Men wrote the bible and men are responsible for what is inside it, in every way. Slapping the label "divinely inspired" on the cover and calling it inerrant and forever true (no matter what the opposition) is a novel idea, but doesn't make it any more true than a documentary with Michael Moore's signature on it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are your morals against the law?

Oh Answers in Genesis, how I love your emails. They're as entertaining as the majority of TV shows that get poor ratings. You've titled this letter "Are your morals against the law?" and I get the feeling the answer I'm supposed to be inferring is 'yes'. Insulting, but let's move on, hm?
A: There’s no doubt America was founded on Christian principles based on the Bible. In fact, just two generations ago, the majority of Americans supported prayer, Scripture readings, and Bible instruction in public schools. Britain’s Common Law also was founded on biblical authority. In both countries, people also supported displaying nativity scenes, crosses, and the Ten Commandments in public places. Gay marriage and abortion were outlawed.
I find room for doubt. I don't have to be any kind of historical scholar to reason that "just two generations ago" is not the same as "two hundred years ago." Don't pull that crap on me. And what does the Britain Common Law have to do with the way America was founded? BS. Name me one "Christian principle" that America was founded on that is uniquely Christian in nature. (Hint: freedom of speech and freedom of religion are not in the bible - in fact, they are spoken against. boom! roasted.) It's not even that I don't support the display of nativity scenes, crosses, or the Ten Commandments in public places, because I don't care. I just don't think they should be displayed on government property because that violates the separation. The Ten Commandments are largely unrelated to US laws at all, except for the "don't kill" and "don't steal" ones. And of course there is absolutely no place in a government building for "no other gods except for Yahweh." If you want to put up your plaques on private property, go ahead. But not in state-owned buildings. Oh, and interracial marriages were also illegal. Does your bible support the ban on black/white or white/asian love?
Today, however, it is very obvious that the population as a whole does not see the Bible as the absolute authority it once did. For instance, pollster George Barna found that in the United States, “A minority of born-again adults (44 percent) and an even smaller proportion of born-again teenagers (9 percent) are certain of the existence of absolute moral truth.” Similar surveys in the United Kingdom reveal even lower percentages.
Wait - you're equivocating "lack of certainty of absolute moral truth" with "the Bible is not the absolute authority"? I swear AiG, you just love equivocation. I don't find the Bible a source of "absolute moral truth" because it isn't one. It's full of stories about god-approved/-commanded genocide, rape, slavery, torture, polygamy, and dishonesty. If there is such a thing as absolute moral truth, it won't be found here.
So what has happened? Why the dramatic change? Why is the moral position of previous generations being outlawed more and more? What has driven this moral collapse? Why is this war going on?
Wait, is not supporting prayer in public schools a mark of moral collapse? Aren't crime rates lower now than they were "just two generations ago"? Maybe, in this age of easily accessible knowledge and free speech, it's easier than ever to check religious claims against fact and find them wanting.
Whereas Christian thinking once permeated the public education system, today the Christian God, prayer, Bible study, and biblical creation have all but been excluded from the system. Now, generations (including the majority of students from church homes) are being trained in a secular (anti-God) religion. They are being indoctrinated to believe that the universe—and all that exists within it—can be explained without God.
That's because it can. The Christian God, prayer, and Bible study have no place in "the system" except for in religion class. Because that's what it is. You wouldn't have it any other way if this were somehow a "Muslim" or "Mormon" nation. And don't get me started on biblical creation. It's not science. It never has been. To teach it as such is a disgrace to real science and to pretend that there's some kind of discord among scientists (as you would preach) is simply dishonest. Because there isn't. And you aren't scientists. You're propagandists. You pretend to be an authority on a subject and permeate religious fundamentalist circles with your disinformation. You are either ignorant or knowingly deceitful. So no, I won't give you my money.

And to answer your initial question ("are my morals against the law?"), no. And neither are christian morals. There's a difference in a belief in right and wrong behavior and the belief that your religion should be spread all over our government. And the latter is what should be illegal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Game Design Week 2

Here's another list of things to help make tomorrow's presentation easier

  • menu/edit/action/game over states
  • button functionality in all modes (but no actions associated yet for help/score)
  • tower generator algorithm
  • path drawing abilities
  • creep path movement and tower attacks
  • partial path-checking algorithms
  • most of the sounds (though many are not currently implemented)
  • the ability to play indefinitely
  • all completed artwork
  • tower projectiles
  • instructions/story
  • high score menu allowing users to save to a file on their hard drive
  • the ability to see the radius of a tower upon pointer hovering
  • finalization of the points system
  • improving path analysis/verification and fixing special game cases that cause it to crash
  • possible forking paths (don't hold your breath)
  • cues to fire more sound effects
 if we can get all this done, i'll be proud of our three-week long project where 2/3 of the programmers were unfamiliar with XNA. i can't wait to give our presentation because i know it will be great. and i'm sure everyone else's will too.