Weekend reflections

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

99 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Gerard, no one has to explain how god or whatever you want to call it arose, that is just silly.

    if you are using god to explain how life arose, then you have to explain how god arose. if this is a “silly” question, then it is also a silly question to ask how life arose.

  2. I hate to say this …but there is no god. We …every atom and every part pf every atom…has been here on earth since the big bang and there is nowhere to go except right here unless you believe your atoms have some memory in which case you may have some of your atoms re-incranated into another life force (which you will undoubtedly have no memory of either).


  3. …those who think it necessary to label all Christians as pedophiles

    nobody on this blog did that, and probably nobody anywhere else did either

  4. Hate to break it to you Gerard but existence didn’t start with biological life.

    Commenters on this blog did associate Christians with child abuse. When I pointed out to Freelander that the church provides goods and services to the most needy in the community the discussion degenerated into accusations of child abuse as some sort of ulterior motive for good works in the community. Most of those comments have now been deleted. You can see the remnants of that discussion on the Deltoid v Thunderer thread.

  5. gerard :Scientology is slightly different from mainstream churches in that it forbids its members to undertake any professional treatment or medication for mental illness. This is dangerous. But on top of that, it is different because it charges tens of thousands of dollars for progression through various stages of bogus “enlightenment” (culminating eventually in the aliens-and-volcanos Xenu story). It is a pure scam that preys on the emotionally vulnerable for their money.
    The prize for life-threatening stupidity probably goes to the Jehova’s Witnesses who threaten any doctor who wants to give a patient a blood-transfusion with lawsuits. There should be some sort of law that prevents religious idiots from killing people (such as their own children) by denying them necessary medical procedures.
    Meanwhile the world’s largest organized child-abuse ring (a.k.a. the Catholic Church) has finally had its infallible boss implicated: Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry (Times Online, March 13). I was going to post this on the other thread but did not want to continue that derail.

    Gerard since you chose to post the above comment in the middle of that discussion it appears your objection to my statement of accusations of child abuse being levelled at all Christians is a little disingenuous.

  6. Thank you for reposting my post, I know it’s so good that it deserves repetition, but can you pinpoint where I (or anybody else) has levelled accusations of child abuse at “all Christians”? No you can’t, because nobody ever did that, here or anywhere else.

    Undeniably, the Catholic Church hierarchy has such a well-established history, in country after country, decade after decade, of enabling and protecting pedophiles, that it really isn’t hyperbole to say that no other institution can compete with it on this count.

    But unless you are a complete idiot, you must be well aware that this is entirely different from saying that “all Catholic priests are pedophiles”, let alone saying that “all Christians are pedophiles”!! Making a leap like that is more than a little disingenuous, it wins the prize for Strawman of the Millennium, congratulations.

    As for the other matter we’re talking about – existence – well the same argument applies to the origin of the universe as to the origin of life. If you’re going to say that “God” explains the origin of the universe, then what explains the origin of God? If you then say that the origin of God doesn’t require an explanation, then why does the origin of the universe require an explanation? The silliness works both ways I’m afraid.

    Logically, God is totally redundant as an explanation for the creation of anything. If we don’t need to explain the origin of God, then we don’t need to explain the origin of the universe. But if we do need to explain the origin of the universe, then logically we also need to explain the origin of God!

  7. I can tell your uncomfortable with being called out participating in such a discussion. Claiming you have no knowledge of the exchange and then claiming there is no proof of the discussion, knowing full well the comments were deleted, does you no credit.

    You can carry on all you like about the catholic church. I’m not a catholic or any other denomination.

    Explaining the origin of God? You obviously like circular arguments. What explains the origin of the big bang? Or the singularity that some think preceded it (for want of a better word)?

    You should try and not get so hung up on other people’s beliefs.

  8. Freelander,
    You are embarrassing yourself again. An event that has a zero probability is impossible. That is how it is defined. As you did with your embarrassment over the simile question, I recommend that you now ignore this crass error and move on. The more you harp on the less credible you become – if, indeed, you have any credibility left.

  9. There was never any comment that said all Christians are pedophiles, deleted or otherwise. Maybe you hallucinated it.

    We can continue the other discussion when you learn what a “circular argument” actually is, or even what an “argument” is, since you don’t seem to know

  10. Andrew you’re wrong. In continuous state space there is a difference between zero probability and impossible. I know it’s counter-intuitive, that’s why my probability professor emphasized the point

  11. Many religious people use an infinite regression to justify belief in God. These arguments are usually made by repeating the phrases ‘…well what happened before that?’ or ‘why?’ enough times such that eventually the birth of the universe must be explained. At this point people invoke God to terminate the regress.

    As Dawkins explains there are several flaws with this thinking. Firstly the concepts of time and causality do not have simple definitions in a cosmological sense the way they do on earth, and thus applying them in an infinite regress is invalid. Secondly if a religious person was to argue that the regress was valid they would need to explain what happened before God and how God came into existence. Claiming that ‘God has always been here’ or ‘God needed no creation’ is unscientific, though it does imply that the regress argument is invalid.

  12. @Nick R
    thanks, you said it better than me.

    to sdrc I was just making the point that if you’re going to use God as an explanation for the Big Bang, then it is not any more silly or less silly to ask “What caused God”? than it is to ask “What caused the Big Bang?”

    That’s just straight-forward logic, although I know that religion and logic have a tendency to be incompatible.

    Unlike sdrc I was raised pretty staunchly Catholic. I didn’t really question that God created the universe, but I remember one time when I was about six I had a brainwave and asked “Did God have any choice about creating the universe? After all, if he didn’t create it, he’d be God of nothing.” Although I was told that it was a stupid question, I had realized that even if God had created the universe, he mustn’t have had much say in the matter.

    I have to say though, nothing cures one of religion quite as thoroughly as a good old-fashioned Catholic school.

  13. Gerard :
    Andrew you’re wrong. … there is a difference between zero probability and impossible. I know it’s counter-intuitive, that’s why my probability professor emphasized the point

    Gerard, you’re not resort to the use of facts and knowledge gained from an education? Andrew will accuse you of hitting below the belt. I should have thought that Google would have allowed Andrew to have found that out all by himself. Interesting that the finance expert didn’t know that. Mustn’t be a ‘quant’ then?

  14. Gerard,
    I have never come across an event that had a zero possibility, yet was not impossible and I have dealt for a long time in probabilities. To me, that would be really counter intuitive. Can you give an example?

  15. Freelander,
    So far the only “nong” here would be someone who insists that it is OK to truncate a sentence and then claim that the truncation is a fair basis to evaluate the original sentence.
    In any case you “nong” Gerard has clearly said “zero probability”, not “probability zero”. Again, if there is a difference I would be interested, as I said.
    Good to see you continuing to stick by the abuse policy as well.

  16. Praisie Andrew. I stick to the policy with greater fidelity than you do. If you want to portray yourself as clever, you will have to lift your game. If you don’t know much about maths, or stats or probability or history what exactly do you know? Are you indeed an adult as you seem to claim? And you claim to work in finance and at a university? Clearly you are not an economist, and you do not have much quant training.
    Also, why do you expect everyone here to supply you with a free education? Especially when you’re such a cheeky chap. You’re a libertarian. Why don’t you go out and purchase one? “curing chemotherapy” doesn’t make sense. It contains a lexical selection error. As for you correcting everyone for imaginary mistakes, maybe you should also purchase some treatment for that and your other problems while you are at it. Maybe you’ll get a volume discount.
    Gerard did not say ‘zero possibility’, in case you didn’t notice.
    If you are interested, you have already been given a suggestion on how you might go about doing your own research – start with Google. (Remember everything you find on the web is not necessarily correct.) However, Google probably isn’t enough. Learning without guidance is not so easy for some. You still haven’t inquired about what your ‘south park’ avatar reveals. I might tell you that one for free.

  17. Freelander,
    Perhaps you can address your seeming fascination with my gravatar elsewhere. As for the rest, I am not sure of what, if any, point you are trying to make. That comment seems to be all over the place. I might also be interested in why you are continuing to repeat smiths’ picking up of my mis-spelling of the word précis, but I think that is only likely to start yet another incoherent spray.
    As I advised you a while back – get a life. An education in forming an argument would be another worthwhile step.

  18. Praisie Andrew. Your banalothon continues. Now you are once again claiming to be an expert on argumentation, and I suppose logic. Yet all the evidence is to the contrary.

  19. I do not need to be an expert to see that you seem to have a problem with the concept of a paragraph. Oh – and Gerard did say “zero probability”. Right there, in the bit you blockquoted.

  20. Andrew Reynolds :
    I have never come across an event that had a zero possibility, …

    Praisie, in what way is ‘zero possibility’ synonymous with “zero probability”? Nong.

  21. Sorry Andrew, my natural empathy can only stand so much of your public humiliation. Goodbye.

  22. Ok Andrew, I’ll attempt an example, although maybe not the best one, and maybe it will seem silly, but…

    what’s the probability that the temperature at a given moment will be 20 degrees celsius?

    Zero. Why? Because temperature is a continuous variable. When we say “20 degrees”, we are not only excluding 19.9 degrees and 20.1 degrees, we are also excluding 19.9999999999999999 degrees and 20.0000000000000000000001 degrees, and so on, to an infinite number of decimal places. As the number of decimal places that you are excluding goes to infinity (which is the definition of a continuous variable), the probability of it being exactly 20 goes to zero. In fact, the probability of it being any exact point on the continuum is zero. But that’s different from saying it’s “impossible” that the temperature is 20. The temperature has to be some exact value after all – even if the probability of it being any particular exact value is zero.

    That’s why on continuous distributions you always measure the probability over an interval, and not at a single point.

    PS I’m not an expert so if anybody who actually is an expert wants to correct me, feel free.

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