Police Officer Foils Criminal Plan…

to see a mother-in-law before she died in the hospital:

The video shows what happened after Moats, who plays for the Houston Texans, rolled through a red light in Dallas en route to Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. Powell switched on his lights and sirens, caught up to the family’s SUV, and followed for about 20 seconds as they found a parking spot near the hospital’s emergency entrance.

Moats’ mother-in-law, 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth, had been struggling with breast cancer. That night family members received word that they needed to hurry to the hospital because she was dying.

Perhaps even more disturbing than the 15 minute lecturing (during which the mother-in-law died) is the fact that the officer drew his gun…at the driver’s wife. If you watch the video, you’ll see that Moats was very respectful through the entire power trip.
It’s just wrong.
Powell needs to go away for a long, long time.

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White House on Marijuana

Listen to Robert Gibbs choke on his words as he confronts some pretty pointed questions about the legalization of a plant:

Craig vs. Carrier

William Lane Craig recently squared off with Richard Carrier on the resurrection of Jesus. The consensus is that Craig won, or at least Carrier lost. Decide for yourself:

Is William Lane Craig Afraid of John Loftus?

John Loftus, famous author (don’t forget to check out his book) and chief antagonist of the number one website on the internet Debunking Christianity recently found out that WLC is afraid to debate him:

I learned from DC member Darrin at the Carrier/Craig debate that Craig said he would not debate his former students. That’s what he said.

I am now classed with a group of people, i.e., the people comprised of his former students. And Dr. Craig says he will not debate anyone in that class of people. Okay, I guess. But given the fact that I’m probably the only member of this class of people who wants to debate him he might as well have said: “I will not debate John W. Loftus.”

Not only is WLC too frightened to debate Loftus, but apparently he has been since 1985:

While I was a student of his he said something I thought was odd at the time. This was back in 1985 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He said “the person I fear debating the most is a former student of mine.” Keep in mind that Dr. Craig was on a High School debate team and has been debating these topics for probably just as long as I’ve been thinking about them. And he had only been teaching a few years before this to actually know of any student who might want to debate him. But that’s what he said. Again, he said “the person I fear debating the most is a former student of mine.”

He cannot deny saying this, and I don’t think he will.

Does he really fear me? I don’t know. But just maybe he does after all. He could change his mind though. I think a lot of people would be interested in this match-up.

Apparently being a “former student” of WLC’s includes being a current student of WLC’s. Either that or Loftus is lying. But since that is clearly implausible, what Craig meant by former student was just current student. This is further bolstered by what Debunking Christianity’s leading investigative reporter and Pulitzer prize winner “Darrin” uncovered in his interview with Craig. Follow the logic:

1) Craig will not debate former students.
2) Loftus is a former student.
3) Loftus is pretty much his only former student.
4) ????????
5) Craig is afraid of Loftus.
.: Profit.

QED.

What Philosophy Isn’t

John Loftus.
Read any of his malformed opinions on religion and philosophy here.
Remember to not buy his book here.
He is narcissistic, out of touch and a poor philosopher to boot. For hilarity, read the comments here and here. He never disappoints.
Oh, the obligatory “DJ is a liar” thread.
Enjoy.

A “Stumble Upon” Experiment

I’m linking to the first five websites tagged in Stumble’s “Atheist/Agnostic” category:

(1) http://www.futilitycloset.com/2008/12/13/powerless/

Of course, this depends on your definition of omnipotent. Most definitions of omnipotence hinge on some concept of logical possibility and, if so, this argument fails to defeat omnipotence. If one defines a genuine bank note as one printed by a mint (or printed by non-God, at least) then of course God could not create a genuine bank note. That’s because there is a definitional absurdity involved.

I was intrigued by the imagination of the argument’s author. It’s a bad argument, but interesting nonetheless.

(2) http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com/images/coming.jpg

Ok, this one counts as a win for atheists (or, at least a loss for fundies).

(3) http://www.godless-heathen.com/?p=97

I wasn’t expecting much from “Godless Heathen”, and sure enough, the post is filled with the usual rhetoric of internet atheism. The actual 10 “morals” atheism gives him are trivial and uninteresting, but his intro-paragraph has a few nuggets worth looking into:

Rather than go through an exhaustive analysis of why these questions are flawed, I’m going to make a list. See, God may tell Christians not to murder or steal and all that good stuff, but really, not murdering and stealing is really basic human common sense. If we’re going to praise God for all those great rules he supposedly came up with, what about all those nasty morals he came up with? I would argue that my lack of a belief in God makes me a more moral person than someone who is religious. My moral choices aren’t made out of fear of eternal punishment. Just as I don’t have a reason to have “good” morals, I don’t have an excuse for bad ones, either.

Is “not murdering and stealing” common sense? Of course, “common sense” is useless as an explanatory tool here. Imagine if I asked where moral norms come from and my atheist interlocutor answers “they are common sense.” Are they common sense? Do obligations come from majority vote? The atheists ought to worship God, since the majority of people believe in God of some sort and believe we have an obligation to worship him. But perhaps by “common sense” he means something like “easily available upon reflection”. In this case, we haven’t an explanation of why we have them but simply a pronunciation that we have them. This does not touch upon the issue of God providing obligations.

(4) http://www.atheists.org/Top_Ten_Atheist_Myths

Ugh, take a smattering of pop-atheism and condense it into a single post, and you have this offering. Myth 2 is especially interesting as it appears to be one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of internet atheism. I’ve already tipped my hand here.

(5) http://awesomepedia.org/journal/index.php?view=22

I don’t know what to say. Theism isn’t anti-food/hard work/cow, and despite the possible connection to some religious people’s objections to stem-cell research (and related areas of research), it isn’t clear how the magic beans relate to anything in a plausible fashion.

Conclusion: Internet Atheism is pedantic, childish and (ironically) anti-reason.

Alternate Conclusion: Never take the internet seriously.

The Evolutionary Explanation of Rationality

I take the following argument (word for word) from Steven Stich’s fantastic book The Fragmentation of Reason:

(1)Evolution is caused by natural selection.
(2)Natural selection will choose the best-designed (i.e., that most fitness-enhancing) system available in the gene pool.
(3)Over evolutionary time, a huge and varied set of options will be available for natural selection to choose among, and this set is very likely to include one or more that closely approximate a theoretical optimum.
(4)Systems produced by evolution can be expected to be about as well designed as it is possible to be.
(5)Our inferential system was produced by evolution.

Stephen Stich, The Fragmentation of Reason (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990), 63.

For context, Stich is attempting to construct an evolutionary explanation of our belief that the human mind is rational (to whatever degree). He critiques every point, but what is most damaging to the case is that it is no way explains why the mind must be rational. There needs to be some ancillary proposition that states something like “Rationality has a monopoly on survival enhancing behavior.” I’m not positive that is a very helpful way to word it (I’m open to suggestions), but the missing premise needs to include something to the effect of survival-enhancing behavior necessitating rational beliefs. Since any missing premise built around that concept is probably wrong (and open to clear counterexample) there can be no evolutionary explanation of rationality (even if our minds evolved by the mechanisms of contemporary evolutionary theory).