Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

451°C

Aught3
Aught3
Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:21 pm by Aught3

In a futuristic American city, Firemen no longer put out blazes – they start them – and the prime target for their arson are the great works of literary history. In the society of Fahrenheit 451 people fill their days by driving recklessly, watching wall-to-wall television, and listening to music through their portable iShell’¦er’¦Seashell radio sets.  The pervasive nature of vacuous entertainment is such that the citizens of this dystopian city have become wholly apathetic to the literal holocaust of the great authors carried out by Firemen. Book-burning is a repellent act and ought to be opposed by every civilised person. Not only is it a public display of censorship, something we all find offensive, but it also represents the destruction of ideas – an attempt to erase important concepts from public knowledge. No one who claims the inheritance of the enlightenment could support such an act.

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You can’t be good without sci-fi

Aught3
Aught3
Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:43 am by Aught3

Science fiction provides the perfect backdrop for exploration on the borders of morality because it creates alternate realities which are limited only by the depth of our imagination. Promising technologies can be created, controlled, and finally be seen to unexpectedly turn on their former masters. New planets can be discovered and explored for ancient civilisations or exploited for basic resources. Alien species can threaten our planet with annihilation or they can teach us what it means to be human. In the world of science fiction all these possibilities can occur; new worlds, galaxies, and alien species can be created and destroyed over and over in myriad combinations – then it can all be written again. The remoteness of these new galaxies and the unfamiliar forms of alien species allows for an ethical discussion of current events in a way that does not threaten the personal identity of those directly involved. Science fiction allows a lot of nonsense to be bypassed and lets the viewer to look directly into the heart of important subjects1.

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William Lane Craig: Lord of the Groundhogs

Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:53 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

But, if life ends at the grave, it makes no difference whether one has lived as a Stalin or as a saint. As the Russian writer Feodor Dostoevsky rightly said: “If if there is immortality, then all things are permitted.” Given the finality of death, it really does not matter how you live.

William Lane Craig, of course, repeats an oft misquoted passage from The Brother Karamazov and for a professional philosopher, as he routinely claims to be, one would think he’d know better; likewise, there’s something about Mr. Craig’s suggestion that ‘professional’ legitimatizes ‘philosopher’ that leads me to believe that he shouldn’t be the former and isn’t the latter. It’s difficult to attribute an author the philosophical views of the characters he creates, but Mr. Craig probably depends less on the person of Dostoevsky than the content of the sentence, the philosophy itself. Ivan Karamazov was certainly concerned with the implications of immortality of the soul, both as a matter of metaphysics and as a matter of belief, as Constance Garnett’s translation suggests: “If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover,” Karamazov continues, “Nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism. […] For every individual […] who does not believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognised as the inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of his position.” For the sake of drawing the distinction, if Karamozov, in this passage, is concerned with belief in existence of God or the non-existence of God as the cause of moral actions, then we can allay his concerns with empirical certainty: atheism does not cause immorality. But, this concern about the belief in God suggests to me that Karamazov might imagine that there would be no difference between believing in God in a universe in which God happens to exist or believing in that same God as matter of actual fiction; in either universe, whether there is actually a God, belief in God is what actually fosters moral behavior, which I don’t think is Mr. Craig’s contention, nor would it stand to evidence. Rather, I think Mr. Craig and those others who misuse this quote from Dostoevsky are suggesting that, considering those two universes, the universe without a God may contain moral actions, but those moral actions are arbitrary and meaningless and the people in that universe without a God might just as well go around killing each other – it doesn’t really matter. I’ve never entirely understood this argument beyond reading it as a brute assertion; it seems like the meaningless of moral actions in a universe without a God in part stems from the fact that moral laws would then simply be contrived through the power of the few or the many, but also from the fact that any sort of consequence we might experience can be escaped through death into annihilation. I’m not sure why agreed upon rules are meaningless and, more importantly, I’m not sure why Karamazov, and Craig, I would imagine, would suppose that people, left to our own devices without God to give us rules and reward us eternally for following them or breaking the slightest among them, would descend into cannibalism and then what… dogs and cats living together. (more…)

My sentiments exactly…

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:32 pm by AndromedasWake

Our Romanian correspondent, ZOMGitsCriss, has posted a timely review of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, a collection of short stories, articles and festive tips from a suspiciously meaningful number* of atheists, edited by Ariane Sherine (creator of the Atheist Bus Campaign). Of course, I have something of a soft spot for this video, because our lovely host says some words. Nice words. Nice words about me. Have you bought your copy yet?

* Forty-two, innit!

On the Origin of Stupidity…

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:26 pm by AndromedasWake

Isn’t it amazing what League of Reason bloggers get up to? Sure, some of us lead very mundane lives, doing absolutely nothing but drinking coffee and and tweeting about it. But others spend their days trying to make good use of speaker’s corner. And every so often (though arguably not often enough), one of our number produces cartoons with a very low frame-rate, that is more than made up for by the punchy writing and suspiciously brilliant voice acting.

Every week there’s some exciting new scandal involving a Leaguer, and I can’t tell you how proud this makes me. After all, scandal makes the world go round*. Perhaps then, you can imagine the smile on my face when our very own Godless-Romanian-Vampire-Gypsy-Witch captured the attention of not only atheist overlord PZ Myers, but also the Huffington Post. There’s no need for me to explain this story, when you can just watch the video after the break. Then read on…

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The Greatest Show on Earth Review

djarm67
djarm67
Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:51 am by djarm67

Hi All,

I have uploaded my review of The Greatest Show on Earth to my YouTube channel. It is a 2 parter and I will be auctioning off my copy of the book this weekend on dprjones BlogTV charity drive. Hope you enjoy my review.

In “The Greatest Show on Earth The evidence for evolution”, Richard Dawkins takes on creationists and intelligent design proponentsists whilst taking the reader on a detective trail of evidence to show why evolution through natural selection is a fact and a theory.

Part 1

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part1

Part 2

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part 2

The details of the charity auction for Medicines sans frontiers (Doctors without borders) is here,

Dprjones BlogTV room:http://www.blogtv.com/people/dprjones

The site at which you can make donations is:

http://www.firstgiving.com/dprjonesblogtv

http://www.justgiving.com/dprjonescharityblogtvshow/

Don’t be intimidated by large donations,
simply donating what you can spare is appreciated; the small amounts make a big difference.

The website for Medicens Sans Frontiere (“MSF”):http://www.msf.org.uk/

In the US the charity (it is the same charity) is know as “Doctors without Borders”:

http://doctorswithoutborders.org/

The msfuk youtube site is here:http://www.youtube.com/user/msfuk

The eBay auctions have started and will be added to as the show date approaches:

http://tinyurl.com/m2jb3e


DJ

Why Do We Care?

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Mon Aug 24, 2009 7:48 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

One of the most common rebuttals I face, generally from well-meaning friends, is the old chestnut: “Why do you care? What’s wrong with religion if it doesn’t directly affect you? Why can’t you leave people alone?”

This stance neatly condemns any attacks on “soft” theism/deism whilst open-endedly permitting criticism of religion that does directly affect me, or people in general.

I am constantly at pains to sculpt my position with the utmost clarity. I don’t like religion. I don’t like unfounded beliefs that have more in common with delusional fairy tales than a rational response to the universe; similarly I am compelled to wax vitriol against beliefs in the supernatural, in the pseudoscientific. But as far as religion goes, I am restrained.

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