* Posts by Edagan

15 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Oct 2010

Facebook royal rant bishop suspended


@ Grease Monkey

"The house of lords is something that does need to be dealt with much more urgently than the monarchy."

I agree. The House of Lords needs to be tackled to make sure that the selected people sitting in it are not subject to political interference or excessive influence, so that they can carry on their exceptionally important job of making sure that party politics don't unduly damage the interests of the country.

The idea of abolishing it would, I think, be somewhat dangerous. A parliament made up solely of those seeking personal political advantage - and over such potentially short terms - would be a parliament incapable of looking at the long-term interests of the nation.



Oh, do get a grip. Bloodline rule, indeed. You do know we haven't had bloodline rule in this country for a good couple of centuries now, right? You do know the Queen doesn't actually run the show any more, right?

At best, the monarchy represents a link to some of the heritage and traditions that other nations still respect about Britain. They serve as excellent and moderately apolitical ambassadors to other nations, and as a living link to our history (so to speak) they generate quite a chunk of tourism revenue. Compared to that, their cost is fairly reasonable.

That's a pretty pro position. But even putting that debatable benefit aside, there are a lot of things about Britain I'd be looking to fix before I worried about recouping the fairly minimal costs involved in maintaining the monarchy. Politically speaking, they're no concern at all: they don't rule in any real sense. Personally I'd be far more concerned about the small crowd of privileged oligarchs that we get to choose between in our 'democracy'. They're a far more real-world problem than a small group of completely disenfranchised ceremonial figureheads.

Christians vs metalheads in FB flame war


Re "Please take a moment to think..."

"It's not just Christianity, this behaviour is a fundamental to keeping all religions alive."

Except it plainly isn't. So many mocking and derisive comments are made by self-professed rationalists about religion and religious believers, so often based on some variant of the assertion that people who believe in some sort of higher order or divinity are irrational fools who can't reason.

And then those same people, so proud of their boasted logic and intellect, can make a comment like this one above.

No, not all religions count this behaviour as fundamental. Not all religions expect non-believers to conform to their rules. Not all religions believe in evangelising their belief. Not all religions require the rejection of scientific discovery. In fact, if you bothered to research the subject, you'd find that the variety of religious beliefs out there is absolutely vast; and they don't all conform to a single template. But whether for their own intellectual convenience or out of genuine failure to understand this, too many passionate railers-at-religion simply assume that all religion is basically fundamentalist Christianity with slightly different dressing.

This is why Dawkins doesn't make as good a case as his acolytes like to make out: he attacks Christianity by highlighting the flaws in some elements of it, then not only extends that criticism to the religion as a whole, but to all religion, whatever its form, whether it bears any resemblance at all.

I don't expect anyone to believe anything that doesn't ring true for them. If you think I'm a fool for believing something you don't then so be it. And if that's the case then you're free to tell me so. But please don't rely on specious generalisations and expect me to consider you any less driven by blind faith than the people you're attacking.



Strange things start happening to logic when you build arguments on dates. Implying that things should be different because of what year it is rarely makes for a convincing premise. And besides, if you look, you'd see that the trend has been away from the detention of those who're mentally ill. (I offer no view on whether that's a good or bad thing.)

There's also the question of whether the habit of equating religious belief with mental illness is an indication of genuine concern for patients' well-being or merely self-indulgent and intellectually unchallenging abuse.

All that said, I'm with the earlier commenter who wasn't sure whose side to take. I don't agree with anyone who uses their own religion to try to restrict the freedoms of others; but then again I'm not sure there're many good reasons for adhering to a subculture whose purpose appears to be to annoy another group. To my eyes 'Satanists' don't seem to have much identity of their own: they seem to define themselves purely by what they're not.

Brits say 'no, no, no' to 3D TV


No Sale Here

Aside from the debatable thrust of the article (only 600,000 people buying quite new technology in a recession = failure of said tech...?), 3D's certainly of no interest to me.

To labour other posters' point, it's certainly not as high a priority as improving the quality of TV content. Most of the time when my TV's on it's either showing DVDs or something on one of the eternal-repeats channels like Dave, something from way back. New stuff just tends to be either unwatchable 'reality' tat or, at best, just meh. This may be due to falling standards, or I may just be getting old. Or both.

And to be honest, I don't see there's much point in pushing the next big thing in image quality anyway while all films are currently being made in Hollywood's new monochrome of orange and teal.

Lincs authority lets schools decide on Pagan lessons


Yes (@ Grease Monkey)

"That is, I'm afraid, complete BS. Science takes a position on gods by default. Take for example any science that tells us the age of the earth or the rest of the universe; it automatically argues against virtually all the creationist stories to be found in many religious teaching."

Science is a process of logical and systematic investigation of the world. Science presents us with certain information, and it's then up to us to determine first whether that information is reliable (have experiments or observations been carried out correctly), and second what that information can tell us.

You state that science takes a position on gods 'by default' because it presents us with information that denies many of the creation stories offered by religions.

However, I think you may have misunderstood what I said. I didn't make any mention of creation stories: I said that science takes no position on "gods, intelligent creators, or whatever". Which it doesn't. Stories are one thing; the possibility of some creative intelligence using some method available to it to create the world or some element of the world is something else, something that we can't test. What can't be tested, science doesn't consider. The same could be said about, for example, the question of parallel universes, the 'many-worlds' hypothesis. There's simply no way to test the idea, and therefore science as it stands doesn't try to do so. That it's unfalsifiable is enough for science to put it aside and work around it.

Similarly, the concept of God, gods or other intelligent creative or guiding force behind the universe is beyond the ability of science to test. It's also unfalsifiable. Which is enough for those concerned with logic and empirical investigation to ignore the possibility, and for atheists to say, justly, "there is no evidence, so I don't believe". It's *not* enough to give anyone, at least anyone who values true reason, cause to say "there is no..." or "... does not exist".

"And that's just one example. Science has a habit of arguing against an awful lot of religious teaching, just because it doesn't set out to do so does not mean that it doesn't happen."

I agree. But again, 'religious teaching' isn't the same thing as the hypothetical divine entity we're talking about. Science argues against a lot of religious teaching because that teaching usually stems from human conclusions about the world that pre-date our scientific techniques. And again, while there's no evidence there's a justification for atheists to say "there's no evidence, so I don't believe". But it doesn't validate the statement that "there is no...".

"Every religion tells us that we can't pick and mix from it's teachings, it's an all or nothing thing. So lets take the old testament as an example."

Have you any idea how many religions you're referring to when you say "every religion"? Are you absolutely sure that *every* religion takes that position? It's very common for anti-religious arguments to be based solely on the perceived failings or inconsistencies of the Abrahamic monotheisms, and for these arguments to be extended out to cover the concept of 'religion' in general without any regard to the vast spectrum or variety of beliefs that that would include.

And that number will change enormously depending on your precise definition of 'religion'. Does a general spirituality count? Do certain philosophies qualify as religious beliefs?

"We're told that we have to take all of it as, ahem, gospel. If science blows the story of creation out of the water then the whole damn tome is on the trash heap."

Not at all. I'm not Christian, incidentally, so I've no vested interest here. But no: some Christians will argue that the Bible has to be taken literally from beginning to end. However, it's quite obvious that a great many Christians don't believe that. Genesis, for many Christians, is metaphorical, in just the same way that Jesus' parables are accepted (regardless of your feelings on Jesus himself) as fables and morality tales. If science blows the story of creation out of the water then from this myth-aware viewpoint, Christianity loses nothing. Christianity's fundamental beliefs are that Jesus existed; that he preached a certain message (open to interpretation); that he taught about a reward for the faithful in the afterlife (unfalsifiable and therefore beyond scientific enquiry); and that he 'died for our sins' (note that proof of a physical resurrection, for all its importance in the eyes of most Christians, isn't essential for this element).

"If the priests tell us all of it is true, then if one bit of it is demonstrably false then the book as a whole is inadmissable. Even if some of it it true. The priests are hoist by their own petard there."

Some priests might be. The creationist, literalist fundamentalists do themselves no favours by building their religion on falsifiable premises. But the god - if such there is - isn't the same as the religion; and it certainly isn't the same as the priests.



"The purpose of my post was to expose the apparent illogicality and irrationality behind atheist viewpoints as to how the universe came out of nothing."

There's no fundamental irrationality here, although the position is often made to *appear* irrational by the fiercer and more evangelistic atheists.

The recent hubbub over Stephen Hawking's announcement that God isn't necessary for the universe to exist (bearing in mind Hawking's only ever previously used 'God' as a poetic metaphor, as far as I'm aware*) seemed to play into this. People treated this pronouncement as though it proved God didn't exist, when in fact it told us nothing we didn't already know: the universe didn't *need* to have been created - but that's neither here nor there if the question is whether it *was* created.

"If atheism in a universe with apparently intelligent laws is irrational"

It would be, *if* there *were* 'apparently intelligent laws. There aren't. There are laws that *could* have been designed by an intelligent creator (with the inevitable question as to who designed the laws the creator lives within); but those same laws *could* have evolved from the initial conditions of the universe, whatever those conditions are found to have been.

*If* there were laws that could clearly be demonstrated to be intelligent in origin, then sure, it would be foolish to deny the creator, whether you knew anything else about it or not. But the laws we live by aren't clearly intelligent. At best it's a possibility.

"... then presumably theism is a more reasonable viewpoint than atheist fundamentalists would ever accept."

Theism isn't an intrinsically unreasonable viewpoint, despite the assertions of the more passionate atheists. Any given belief, religion or creed *may* be unreasonable in the light of existing scientific information, but that's different. Logic and science tell us nothing about whether there was an intelligence involved in the appearance of our universe, or of whatever higher domain our universe might exist in. It's a moot point. This should be demonstrated by the fact that religion and science both, ultimately, end up facing the same problem: the universe just happened. Stephen Hawking said:

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

So we have religionists arguing that 'God' created everything from nothing; while possibly the most well-known figure in physics argues that God isn't necessary, because the law of gravity created everything from nothing - even though, 'before' creation/the big bang there was nothing there for God or the law of gravity to exist in or act on. Either way, the laws we live with are the same, and therefore it's pointless to try to infer the existence of God from those laws.

(*I mention it because some people have claimed his statement represents his sudden abandonment of religion, and thus a victory for atheism, when as far as I'm aware he'd never expressed any particular belief in the first place.)



You're right, that's definitely the sensible and proportionate thing to do. Someone doesn't agree with your opinion on something? Ban them!

That's definitely better than risking the downfall of society by allowing people to believe willy-nilly in stuff you don't agree with.


Atheism as a Belief System

I've run into this argument a few times, and to be honest, I think it depends on the individual atheist. In most cases, where a person just doesn't believe in God or anything similar, I think it's true that it's not a belief system.

But if we're talking about the sort of atheism that we see occasionally on, you know, certain Internet forums and comment pages - the rather angry, intolerant and preachy sort - then I think it's edging into evangelism and shouldn't be given a free pass. We especially shouldn't excuse such preachy atheists invoking 'science' as proof of their position when true science specifically takes NO position on the possibility of gods, intelligent creators or whatever, precisely because these things cannot be tested. Call them an unscientific proposition and I'd agree. Suggest that lack of evidence makes it logical not to assume something exists; I'd support your reasoning. But tell me that any of this means that such an entity doesn't - or can't - exist, and you're venturing further than logic can take you, and you're demonstrating a belief system.

No, in general atheism isn't a belief. It's the absence of belief (or 'freedom from belief' if you insist); but it's certainly treated as one by those who expound it most determinedly.



Seems everyone's got an opinion on paganism just now. I assume it's something to do with the Daily Mail selecting pagans as their bogeyman-du-jour recently.

The shame is that none of these commentators seem to have or want the first clue about paganism. If they did, they'd know that paganism isn't a single faith but a set of vaguely related, generally nature-centred beliefs. I know the Reg loves a good religion troll, and if you're going to have a pop at religion then paganism can't be immune. But for crying out loud don't just hang on the Mail's coat-tails. Pagans have been doing their thing for years: it's not our fault the media have only just noticed.

Android bugs let attackers install malware without warning



Also, does anyone *care* about up- and downvoting? I've never really understood the function of it, except to let someone express disapproval without the scary prospects of identifying themselves or constructing an intelligible sentence. And we don't have to identify ourselves anyway, thanks to the Anonymous Coward tickbox.

So I post my opinion, and loads of people scurry to tick the red box, and I end up with four zillion downvotes and... what? All this anonymous disapproval is supposed to prompt me to change my mind?

"Oh no, people don't like me/my beliefs/my post/my grammar, I'd better think what they think instead. Except... I can't, because they couldn't be bothered to tell me what they think."

Thumb Down


I started to read the comments but I got too depressed.



Google snips Facebook's Gmail line



I wonder why angry Internet forum posters can't accept the possibility that the people who so annoy them might not actually be making a conscious effort to do so?

I'm not sure why so many people have the idea that these firms have an obligation to provide a free service for the public's convenience. I assume that is the belief, since we seem happy to use these services while we know we're not directly paying for them. So if we're not paying a subscription, and we know the company isn't working pro bono, isn't it logical to assume they see some sort of benefit?

So surely the only real question we need to ask ourselves is: since our exploitation of a free service involves the free service trying to exploit us back, is the risk to the data we may choose to submit worth it?

But it seems if I ask that, I've "deliberately missed the point". Though I can't see another point that isn't built on false assumptions about the motives of large corporations.

Daily Mail rails at Street View in women's refuge wrongness



"Men's job to protect the womenfolk"?

Quite aside from the fact that violence and the effectiveness of social services aren't the point of the article, and therefore your misplaced rant here has an ironically Daily Mail feel about it, do you really believe this tripe you've offered here? Is it worth pointing out the whole 21St century thing, or are you just happier in the wild west?

"I've thumped several men over the years, for abusing women or children."

I just bet you have, you mighty hero, you.

Google: Street View cars grabbed emails, urls, passwords


Re: Quick scan before posting..

We hear this argument quite a lot, but it doesn't really hold any water, except in the minds of insurance companies keen to avoid paying out on claims (no matter how faithfully their customers have paid their inflated premiums).

First of all, I'm no lawyer and I don't know whether you'd classify what Google has done as a 'crime', or for that matter whether it's an offence of any sort. I guess this is what all these "privacy authorities" are busy working out. Some might say it is in their territory; others might look at it differently. Contrary to popular British belief, not everything that annoys or upsets you is automatically a crime.

For the sake of argument, let's take the view that Google has committed a *crime*, violated people's privacy and stolen data it wasn't entitled to. This argument that the network owners are responsible is false. AC said: "By broadcasting ... with no encryption whatsoever, you're practically inviting people to listen in". As an admittedly extreme analogy, this is precisely the same 'logic' as the sometimes-heard claim that a woman wearing a short skirt and revealing top was "asking to be raped"; or perhaps a better parallel would be the argument that it's the owner's own fault if they leave their satnav in the car overnight and someone breaks in and steals it.

In neither case is the victim of crime to blame for the crime committed against them. Sure, it's possible (and sensible) to argue that these days one should assume the worst of everyone and take every possible precaution against crime - but that still doesn't make it your fault if you get your house burgled because you forgot to lock the door.

If someone is raped, then it's the rapist's fault and theirs alone. If someone steals something from your house, then it's the thief's fault, not yours. You have the right to expect your property to be left alone *even if* you leave it insecure and unattended for a time. (You *can't* realistically expect that, but you have the *right* to nevertheless, because the law prohibits theft.)

This same reasoning says that IF Google have 'stolen' data they shouldn't have had, then it is Google, and Google alone, that is to blame, even if the exploited wi-fis weren't encrypted.