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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another New Blog

Sorry about pulling this on you again, people who read this blog, but I've decided to start blogging again, but it will be over on another URL. I'll mostly blog about nihilism and philosophy and related topics. I have just grown increasingly weary of the religion debate to the point where I find it rather uninteresting most of the time. Exploring a positive philosophical position like nihilism, reading books relating to it and unpacking the ideas seems to me like a much more enjoyable and productive use of my time spent writing.



Here's the link
Staring Into The Void

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Undeniably Nihilist

For quite some time I have been thinking about questions regarding meaning, purpose, and value. Ever since I became an atheist back in 2009 I've been operating under the assumption that we have to make our own meaning. It wasn't until this year however that the implications of this really unpacked themselves for me.

During much discussion amongst friends, and in a group that I'm part of at my university, on the topic of morality I came to realise that I am a moral nihilist. I don't think moral facts exist. Morality to me is a useful fiction that allows society to function as a cohesive unit. I even gave a presentation to the group (we regularly hold academic lectures after class time at university, usually from guest speakers, though I gave this talk) on the topic of morality and the is/ought problem. The video of the presentation will be uploaded to youtube soon, and I'll post it here when it is. The crux of my presentation was that morality simply cannot be objective, and to suggest that it is seems like a category error. Morality isn't the kind of thing that can be objective, moral propositions aren't the kind of things that can be true or false, they are something else.

That aside, acknowledging my moral nihilism caused me to look further into nihilism. I realised that I had never really understood what nihilism actually was. I fell for the common misconception that nihilists were people who didn't believe in, or care about anything. This simply isn't the case, it's a caricature of the position. Nihilism is, and always has been the rejection of any inherent meaning, purpose, or value in life or the universe. At this stage I'm uncertain whether I'm willing to go so far as to reject the possibility of knowledge, though I am willing to concede that all of our knowledge of the physical universe is at a base level, drawing off assumptions and intuitions. Take for example the idea that we can trust our perceptions, and that the data we collect about the physical world is real. These cannot be proven, they are simply brute assumptions we have to accept on an intuitive level, though they seem to be useful.

My actual moral positions have not changed as a result of this revelation however. With the possible exception of a heightened sense of (subjective!) value for meaningful self-determination. My nihilism didn't arise out of pessimism, though I certainly express a considerable amount of pessimism at the idea of human progress, but that can wait till another time.

Think about it. I certainly will.

Friday, June 21, 2013

CMI furious that Christians are against YECism

I have probably mentioned before but I'm on the CMI (Creation Ministries International) mailing list, for shits and giggles. Through this I discovered today that they're really mad because "Homeschooling parents demand evolutionary textbooks". Good on them. I'm not so optimistic that this indicates in any way a strong trend away from creationism, as CMI seem to think it is, but at least it's a start.

I'm not going to link to the article, because CMI never link to anything they disagree with. Fuck them.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Objective Morality

is Bullshit.

While I think the quest for an objective metric of morality is often well intentioned it is extremely misguided. This is particularly the case for quests for scientific metrics of morality. Science is by nature, in the business of figuring out how things work. This helps us hugely in informing our ethical systems, though giving us a better understanding of things like sentience, and its possible implications for other species and so on. What it does not do is provide us with moral imperatives.

Moral imperatives are wholly subjectively derived. I would go so far as to say they are inter-subjectively derived but no further. What I mean by this is that we construct our ethical beliefs based on what subjective effects actions have on other ethical beings (by this I mean being capable of ethical thought). We may be able to detect through brain activity what effect some actions may potentially have, but this does not tell us what is good, only what *IS*. We must then appeal to our ethical construct, which has been inter-subjectively defined. This is what I mean by science informing morality, but not constructing it.

More on this in the future.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Does it matter?

It has been a long time since I last posted here, and there's a good reason why. I haven't converted to theism or anything like that, I'm still very much an atheist, and still think that the arguments for the existence of gods fail. However, the process that I mentioned had begun in my post in August last year, I've moved on even further. I no longer read any atheist blogs, I've unsubscribed to most of the atheist YouTube channels that I used to watch and I've only read three books on religion all year, two of which I actually started reading last year, and the third had as much, if not more, to do with politics than religion.

I am considering getting back into blogging, but it will most likely be on my politics blog, Straight Up Socialist, where I posted today. There is an area of study that has recently been drawn to my attention which I am very tempted to persue in greater depth, and it is known as political theology. I find it fascinating from an analytical and sociological perspective; although I don't buy into the 'theos' behind it, I think political theology has the potential to foster social progress. I also will be doing a presentation in a few months on the is/ought problem in philosophy/ethics, so some of my research into it may get blogged here.

Peace.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Your Sperm is Not Sacred

Since today is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion I thought I'd flesh out some ideas that were brought up in a workshop I went to today.

One of the other people at the workshop brought up (to argue against it that is) the frequently used "men's rights" argument for father's rights with respect to pregnancy. Since I was the only male in attendance they asked me what my thoughts were on the issue. I basically said that biologically speaking, in terms of reproduction, males are effectively parasites. By this I mean that from a purely 'energy and resources' frame of reference the sperm donor puts nothing into reproduction and the pregnancy-bearer does all the work. Males produce millions of sperm, each costing extremely few resources. On the other hand, females produce relatively few eggs and a considerable amount more resources are invested into this process.

On top of this, it is the female who has to carry the pregnancy, pouring a huge amount of energy and resources into growing that egg. So let's look at that argument again. I think it's an absolutely stupid argument that I would not normally entertain, but I'll poke some holes in it just this once. For simplicity, let's say it took half a day to produce the sperm (it doesn't, it's much less). Compare that to 9 months of pregnancy, and you end up with the man's claim to rights over the pregnancy being 540x weaker than the mother. It's even worse than that when you take into account the total energy expenditure. Once you factor in things that are much harder to quantify and work into a calculation like quality of day-to-day life, hormonal effects of the pregnancy, bodily autonomy and the stress and pain of actually giving birth (among a plethora of other things) I think we'd be in the ballpark of over a trillion-to-one.

What I'm trying to say basically is that people who want to claim paternal rights over a pregnancy can go fuck themselves. Your sperm is not sacred. The existence of a fertilised egg that has half its genetic material coming from your balls doesn't mean shit. Until the day that womb transplants are available to you, when you can get a womb transplanted and carry the pregnancy yourself, please, check your privilege in at the door and shove your paternalistic views up your ass.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

America vs. Islam

If you're not aware, there have been a lot of protests lately in the Muslim world. They have been protesting against an amateur video on the internet (that was made by an American) which is extremely offensive and extremely shitty (link). Some of the protests turned into riots, and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked leaving fourteen dead (link).

Obviously I'm opposed to the violence, that is a given. I'm also opposed to the making of the film, it is incredibly racist and discriminatory and I'm not surprised that many Muslims were gravely offended by it. What makes me really sad however are the flow on effects of this conflict. Instead of accomplishing their goal of stopping people making films like the one in question, the escalation of violence is only going to make it worse. Anti-Islamic sentiment around the Western world is only being stoked by this, and the film that started it (this was probably the intention) only serves to fuel the same, and inflames anti-American and anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim and particularly Arabic world.

The damage has been done, I just hope like fuck that this doesn't start another war in the Middle East, because that's the bloody last thing they need right now. The U.S. Presidential Election just became that much more important, and I hope that whoever wins it (Rombama or Obomney) isn't a closeted warmonger.

Friday, August 10, 2012

For Marriage Equality Part 2

Since the last post I made on marriage equality was focussed on an argument someone made that tried to rely on evidence (it failed though), I thought I would address some more subjective elements. I may not mirror this post on my politics blog because a lot of the content of this one will be religious in nature.

Recently I had a conversation with someone about various churches positions on homosexuality. Their church they said was welcoming of LGBTQIA people and that it is sad that Christianity has a bad reputation in this respect. What I tried to communicate to them was that the reason Christianity has a bad rep is because even most of the churches that are 'welcoming' of LGBTQIA people, most of these churches are not accepting and their church fell under this category. What I mean by welcoming and accepting is quite simple. A church that welcomes LGBTQIA people will not shun them or be nasty to them, but what they won't do is accept them as they are. Instead, there is an underlying belief that being LGBTQ (not sure about church positions on intersex and asexual people..) is immoral and sinful, and in order to not be continually living in sin, you either have to turn straight or remain celibate forever.

Arguably, this position is worse than simply being hateful, though those who hold to it are generally well intentioned. It reminds me of all those "I'm not racist, but...", "I'm not sexist, but..." kind of things. This one would be "I'm not homophobic, but LGBTQ people were born the wrong way and should change who they are to suit my beliefs." I don't know about everyone, but I certainly wouldn't choose to be friends with people who thought that part of who I am (not something that I do, or believe in) is immoral.

So how does this relate to marriage equality? Because many of these kinds of Christians who welcome but don't accept LGBTQIA people are opposed to marriage equality, because they feel like supporting it would mean they tacitly endorse homosexuality, which they believe is inherently sinful. I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. We do not live in a conservative theocracy where people's personal lives are subjected to the moral code of a particular subset of a religion. You may also believe that pre-marital sex is sinful, and depending on how conservative you are, you may also think piercings and tattoos are sinful too. I don't see you out there trying to petition the government to make them illegal, so why in this particular instance do you think that allowing consenting adults of the same gender to marry all of a sudden becomes your business?