Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

On Avialan Theropod Dinosaurs

I saw my favorite species of dinosaur, yesterday. Don’t let those science books fool you! Contrary to popular belief, dinosaurs were not wiped out in a massive extinction event, 65 Million years ago. They have lived side-by-side with humanity throughout our entire history, and even today, they’re still around. I saw one, yesterday, and it was beautiful. As I was driving over to the gym, preparing to teach the five-o’-clock Kids’ Jiu-Jitsu class, I saw it pacing along the side of the road as it stared at the carcass of a recently roadkilled deer. As soon as the traffic had cleared, enough, I saw the raptor bound towards its meal on two scaly, talon-footed legs which tensed with powerful muscles. Diving face-first into the fresh meat, the creature tore away chunks of flesh, gobbling them down with efficiency and zeal. However, as my car approached, the magnificent beast suddenly became apprehensive. Spreading its glossy black wings, the dinosaur leapt into the air and flew away.

My favorite species of dinosaur is Corvus corax, the common raven.

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A coward believes he will ever live

A coward believes he will ever live
if he keep him safe from strife:
but old age leaves him not long in peace
though spears may spare his life.

Hávamál 16

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On the Kalam Cosmological Argument

One of the most popular arguments for the existence of God is known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In general, the “cosmological” family of arguments attempt to show that some initial condition necessarily pre-exists the universe, and declare this initial condition (or its cause) to be God. There have been many different versions of the cosmological argument, but the Kalam is particularly popular because it is composed of a very simple syllogism with premises that many people find self-evident. This simplicity makes the KCA very easy for laymen to remember and explain, while professional philosophers love the hidden nuances and depth which underlie the seemingly simple premises. The KCA was first developed and refined by medieval Muslim thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Ghazali, and Averroes in the time when the Arab world stood at the pinnacle of Western philosophy and science. Today, arguably the most avid and scholarly proponent of the KCA is Christian apologist, William Lane Craig (whose work has been a frequent focus of this blog), and it will be Dr. Craig’s particular formulation of the KCA which I will be discussing.

The argument is as follows:

  1. Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

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An Atheist answers “20 Short Arguments Against God’s Existence”

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!

xkcd #386: Duty Calls, by Randall Munroe

This single-panel comic strip succinctly and adequately describes the bulk of my interaction with the other citizens of the Internet over the last couple of decades. If you think that this is an exaggeration, I’ll refer you to my wife, who will attest that we have had some version of this conversation many, many times. I simply have a strange attraction to correcting bad arguments and inane claims, whenever I see them. Now, since I am an avowed and outspoken atheist, one might think that this generally culminates in my conversing with the religious. However, I tend to spend just as much time correcting many of the lies, misconceptions, and really bad arguments that embedded themselves into the modern humanist/materialist/atheist subculture as I spend in debunking poor religious apologetics. The simple fact that someone’s end point-of-view agrees with mine does not make their claims right. Just like in High School math, it doesn’t matter if you stumbled upon the correct answer; you show your work because the process of finding that answer is more important than the answer itself.

To that end, when I saw a video called “20 Short Arguments Against God’s Existence,” by Hemant Mehta, posted on the Friendly Atheist blog, I knew I was going to have to respond.

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On Free Will and Determinism

Given that I hold to a very mathematical, materialist view of the cosmos in which all points of time are extant with one another, it should come as no surprise that I tend to favor the idea of Determinism. This is a philosophy which states that, given perfect knowledge of the physics of the cosmos and adequate data, one could accurately predict any future event with 100% certitude. The idea is that everything operates according to determinable mechanisms, and that understanding these mechanisms can lead to an accurate understanding of their outcomes even before those outcomes have occurred. This view has quite often butted heads with philosophers who argue that Determinism eliminates the possibility of Free Will. Free Will, they argue, does not exist if the outcome of a choice can be predicted with certainty or if the future is already set.

As a Compatibilist, I contend that Determinism and Free Will are not mutually exclusive concepts.

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