31 March 2008

We Make the Things That Make the World Go BOOM!


From MSNBC:


The builders of the world's biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.


I'm not a physicist, so I can't claim to understand all the details of the Large Hadron Collider. I imagine part of the fear is the the name. It does sound like a futuristic sci-fi weapon which forces an entire enemy fleet into the space of a tennis ball, all the while emasculating that other collider that can only do it to a few ships at a time. Naturally, that doesn't hold up in court, probably because it only makes the LHC sound more awesome.


Most scientists don't seem terribly worried about the LHC, except the ones who are upset they won't get to work at it. But maybe the LHC will be a collosal failure. At least we'd learn that an enormous particle accelerator spanning multiple countries is not a great purchase. Every cloud, am I right?


Nevertheless, and possibly more seriously, what does it mean for the LHC builders to be taken to federal court based on potential hazards only the scientific community can sufficiently address? It seems to me that the lawsuit is meant to either incite fear in non-physicists or stall the completion of the project, or both. But, if there was real danger, the scientific community seems to me the better authority.


I think an excellent question is: what is the relationship of science and government? In America, government is not meant to dictate what one must believe in terms of religion. To what extent ought a government be able to dictate what science might study? Comments are welcome and helpful.

Worth Bookmarking


I periodically purge my browser's bookmarks of sites I never visit. At those times, I sometimes reconnect with a site I'd forgotten, or appreciate one I've found helpful or useful.


Today's featured site— a new find— is AskPhilosophers. It provides reader submitted questions with professional philosophers responding. I recognize a number of the names, and can extrapolate that the rest are fairly respectable. As you might expect for a site in English, the contributors are mostly American or British.


As a philosopher, I'm glad to see the responses written in fairly straightforward language. While not all the responses I've read have covered the depth to which I'd be satisfied, I think they are generally well-thought and sufficient for sparking further thinking. I hope to use some questions as inspiration for posts here on Meatiocrity.

27 March 2008

Misuse of Statistics on the Rise


A UK group, Scripture Union (via their online resource WordLive), claims that a recent study proves that an increase in adultery shows a decrease in morality.


Doesn't it just prove an increase in the number of polls and studies about adultery? I'm not sure when this magical golden age was when everyone did what was right all the time, but it sounds like a hell of a time. Or should I say, a heaven of a time?


Sure, I'd love to live in a society where morals are and always have been black and white. But morals come in just about every color. Frankly, I blame TechnoColor. It may have improved our televisions, but it destroyed our society.


The good news is that in the future, we can look back and think about the days when people weren't committing adultery. How, if this study proves that people are committing adultery, are we going to do that? Simple. I use a little principle my dysfunctional family taught me. If you believe a lie now, in the future, you'll think it's true.


So, just as we all pretend the past was much more moral than the present, let's also pretend that the present is much more moral than it is. See? Doesn't it feel good to know that years from now you'll have something completely untrue to bitch about?

Quoting the Bible Doesn't Count as Thinking


From Today's Creation Moment, in reference to fiber optics and plant growth:


We are learning that just about every technological breakthrough made by man was already used by the Creator when He made the creation. There is hardly a stronger argument than this in favor of belief in an intelligent Creator!


Hardly a stronger argument? How about one not blatantly fallacious?


This is classic missing the point. Let me rewrite the premises for you:


Fiber optics technology is based on particular natural laws.

Some plants make use of similar natural laws.


The conclusion given in the Creation Moment is, "one should believe in an intelligent creator," while the premises given support something like, "Human technology and the non-human world must rely on the same laws of nature."


Note how the structure of the sentence assumes the conclusion as well. This is usually called "begging the question," in which the proposition to be proved (the existence of an intelligent creator, namely, God.) is implied in the argument itself (God created both the mechanism by which plants grow and the plants).


My logical fallacy for the day: assuming that belief in a Creator would make someone think more creatively. Curse you, equivocation!

26 March 2008

This Post Is All About the Arrested Development Quote


As it turns out, slapping them on the head doesn't make them better. Miracles, by virtue of being miraculous, are necessarily absurdly unlikely. Faith healing, given a likely successful medical treatment, is neither faith nor healing.


And that's why you never promise crazy a baby.

24 March 2008

Culture War? Schmulture War!


Thanks for the inspiration, WinterBand.


It's not terribly difficult to find any number of sites claiming to fight the good fight in something nebulously termed the "Culture War." The various "about us" pages to which I've linked are instructive. The "Culture War," broadly, is any perceived threat on so-called "Christian" or "American" values, usually in the public or political sector, in terms of the family (e.g. homosexuality, abortion) or rights & freedoms (e.g. immigration, church & state).


Proponents of the "Culture War" assume that society is made of two groups— those preserving America and those destroying it.


On another hand, S. Michael Craven suggests— perhaps simply, if accurately— that our current cultural situation is largely "Post-Christian." Craven's thesis is that America is not now in functionality, and not ever in theory, a "Christian" nation, due to current cultural trends and the founding notion of the separation of church and state.


Craven's approach maintains a certain "us & them" mentality, even while he eschews the assumption that Christianity is the central and primary influence on society. Rather than the "Culture War" model of Christ against culture, he proposes a model which may well be called Christ above & beyond culture in which the church exists as foreigners within society.


But is it true that Christianity throughout the ages has been 1) internally culturally homogeneous and 2) sufficiently culturally unique in comparison to its non-Christian neighbors?


Eastern Orthodox Christianity is largely culturally localized, be it Greek, Russian, Coptic, etc., not to mention the multitude of current Protestant denominations. The church has a history of internal cultural plurality.


Furthermore, Christians spoke Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Roman, as needed. They reappropriated rituals and celebrations for their own. They adopted social relations found in neighboring pagan societies. The conversion of cultures to Christianity was not always a conversion to a new culture— though this was the Roman model at times—, it was a synergism of a new worldview with the culture in which they were raised.


In fact, we can point to those engaged in the "Culture War" as a contemporary example. They've adopted Enlightenment ideas about government alongside Reformation and pioneer ideas about religion. They speak English (usually) and they create websites. They choose to support one political candidate or another and they wear particular styles of clothing. They engage in business and cook family recipes. Their ideas and activities are culturally localized, and may not even be that different from their neighbors.


The point is, Western Christianity— I am leaving out colonial engagements as another discussion apart from the current one— has rarely been radically different culturally from its immediate neighbors, and has never been entirely homogeneous internally.


What is the relationship of Christ to culture? Against? Above and beyond? No. Christ and culture exist simultaneous and in close relation, constantly causing us to reinterpret one or the other. The question of how our religious beliefs and our culture interact must constantly be asked, and the answers we give constantly questioned. The relationship of Christ to culture is, I believe, more covenantal than competitive, contemptuous, or condescending.

23 March 2008

How to Inform Your Readers: the Gay Agenda

I hear that foot tapping everyone, and it had better be the impatience of waiting for this post.


Have you ever been jammed by a homosexual? It's not as fun as you might think! According to Natalie Bell, "jamming" is the "public smearing of Christians, traditionalists or anyone else who opposes the "gay" agenda." Oh man, I can't believe the homosexuals think they can have an opinion! About their own lives!


Now, read the press release and just try to find out what exactly took place. I bet you can't! Bell tells us a Republican from Oklahoma was, is, has been, will be, or might be "jammed." Bummer. I'll bet this representative hasn't even said anything inflammatory. If she did, Bell wouldn't tell us.


Another great feature: taking Scripture so far out of context as to imply the Pharisees were asking Jesus about homosexual marriage.


Today's lesson? You deserve to have an agenda. The opposition does not..


Wait, you don't think she got paid for that, do you?

How to Learn Theology


You've never heard of WinterBand or ChristianFamilyTube.com? Really?


A note about the latter, which kindly hosts the former: Think YouTube without all the bawdiness and sinfulness and twice as many videos of "pets" being "cute." They want you to "Help us help you to advance His Kingdom!"


After watching videos from categories as diverse as "comedy/funny," "pets/animals," "supernatural events," and "spiritual miscellaneous," I feel like Jesus really spoke to me. I think he was saying, "The seclusion of the Church from culture at large is not turning into the widespread redemption of creation I had hoped."


Just kidding, I didn't hear Jesus say anything. That'd be crazy.


But I did learn something important and uplifting from the following video of "Trinity Schminity" written by Steve Winter (not related to Edgar) and performed by WinterBand: If you can modify the first syllable using the letters "Schm," it's not a good doctrine.




Thank you to the Department of Corrections, indeed! Also, notice how Elijah returns just to play acoustic guitar for this song.

20 March 2008

Update


Meatiocrity will be getting a face-lift, but not of the outer appearance. This will be a face-lift of the soul.


While satire has been enjoyable and challenging to write, the time consumed in its composition is too great to make it the only form posts on Meatiocrity could take. From now on, Meatiocrity will address religious and cultural topics in a variety of styles, probably returning to satire when most appropriate. And I will still make fun of the crazies in an exaggerated and largely unfair way.


Also, although the redirect will still get you here, Meatiocrity can now officially be found at www.meatiocrity.com. Update your bookmarks.


Stay tuned for the new posts.

13 March 2008

Speaking to Be Heard: A Guide to Reverse Eavesdropping

There is a silent war going on in America, a war that touches the very ideals of freedom and individual human rights on which this nation is founded. I speak of the war on eavesdropping. These amateur paparazzi insist on surreptitiously discovering the details of our most vapid monologues and inconsequential discussions. These incursions by the auditory al Qaeda must be opposed by every freedom-loving citizen.

But who are these eavesdroppers? Unfortunately, eavesdroppers are nearly impossible to identify. Eavesdroppers can look like any normal American. They might be reading or typing on a computer in a coffee shop, or attempting to engage in quiet conversation of their own. Despite their white earbuds, there's a good chance they've limited the volume on their iPod to better spy on American citizens, gathering intelligence and information while undermining society from the inside. Their invasion must be stopped for America to stay America.

Our action in the war of eavesdropping will need to work around the impossibility of identifying individual eavesdroppers. Cutting our volume and running our conversations at lower decibel levels is not a solution— we would be leaving our fellow discussants without the basic conversational infrastructure they need to survive. We would be leaving ourselves open for further infiltration by eavesdroppers using more and more sophisticated methods. We must, as good Americans have done in the past, stand up against these silent terrorists.

And, as good Americans, I propose that we all take part in nationwide campaign against eavesdroppers. I propose we drown them out with our praise of our great nation, literally. By speaking more loudly, eavesdroppers are forced to listen to our patriotically self-involved conversation, robbing them of their anonymity. Speaking loudly also renders identifying individual eavesdroppers unnecessary, since anyone in the room will have to hear what you have to say. The outcry of loyal citizens will overcome the ears of the eavesdroppers.

Eavesdroppers may think they can ruin our society by listening in on private conversations, but we can win out against them. If we join together in forcing our private conversations— and by extension, our private lives— on them, our self-involved patriotism will grant us the privacy and freedom which makes America great. We can win the war on eavesdropping. Let all of America join our voices together. Our cry for freedom will be heard by all.

06 March 2008

Indecent Language and the Hoopleheads Who Use It

I thank whatever deity broadcast television currently deems fashionable for the Federal Communications Commission. They keep my mind free from the verbal defecation unpatriotic people like that George Carlin try to foist on me in their attempt to bring down our great nation. They make me so tinkled off, I just want to write emphatically!

I know that most regular people are decent, and they would never use profane language. But for some reason, a bunch of uneducated meanie-heads want to wreck our whole culture. I mean, Holy Cow! For Buddha's sake! They should all go forcefully auto-copulate!

What a bunch of physical characteristics unique to child-bearing persons! Obviously, someone needs to show these people that it is much easier to express one's self using much nicer language. Oh sugar plum! Maybe they're just confused, in a psychological way. Maybe they confuse wee-wees and lollipops when looking for something to appease their deep-seated Freudian needs.

Does it go back to family then? Maybe they had some Oedipal incestuous encounters which made them so silly. Then again, it might not be that; they could need more love. We could get them a gift! I think a pair of Parus major would be lovely!

Well, perhaps I can resolve my differences with the people who want to be able to say whatever they want. As long as they do what I say they should. For now, it's off to the store, and since the car's in the shop, I'll have to ride the ass. I mean, donkey.