Benjamin Samuel releases a new album on 11/11/11

Entitles We Enter the Dark Room, Alone, this is Benjamin Samuel’s second release. According to Benjamin, it’s “a record about death; but not just in the literal sense. And not just in the morbid sense. Some deaths are wonderful.”

Check it out! At benjamin-samuel.com

A Song in Remembrance of 9/11

I’ve been working on this song for a long time. I started writing it soon after 9/11, and over the following years, poked and prodded at it. Then all of the sudden, it was 2011. I decided to finish it up for the 10 year anniversary, and release it in remembrance of all who lost their lives that day… and in the subsequent, ongoing conflicts.

Whatever your political beliefs, or whatever conspiracy theories you might hold to, there is no question that thousands of regular people, here and around the world, have been devastated because a few handfuls of maniacs think the world is their playground.

Check out the song, take a minute to reflect; if you’re feeling generous, make a donation to a worthy cause. Let’s all think about how we can be better citizens of the planet.

benjamin-samuel.com

Plantinga’s Warrant, remixed (an addendum)

In follow up to my thoughts on probability as a theistic argument, it’s important to make one clarification. The goal, ultimately, is not so much to bring people to faith by logic (though logical defenses are important), but rather, to show that people come to logic by faith. Logic appears to be an objective, self-evident, inescapable fortress, because of an act of resignation. We are, at every turn, forced to resign ourselves to what seems likely; and not only that, but we are further compelled to treat what seems likely as actual. Logical apprehensions are, at their root, faith moves.

So, why one faith move seems more justified than another faith move it ultimately arbitrary. Certainly we can argue that 2+2=4 is a far more self-evident and obvious assertion than whether Jesus walked on water, but the path taken to get there is itself lined with tiny resignations. We are defending faith with faith.

I’d never quite thought about it this way, but it appears that question begging (assumption, circular reasoning) is actually a fundamental property of human rationality. Hmm.

Plantinga’s Warrant, remixed

The thrust of Plantinga’s notion of Warrant is essentially this: belief in God is “properly basic” and so belief in God is warranted. In saying a concept is properly basic, we mean it appears fundamental to human experience and thought, and is manifest across time and culture. This is why the Flying Spagetti Monster or Russell’s Teapot are not defeaters to the validity of belief; they’re not properly basic. They are arbitrary human inventions (and so too could be conceptions of the Abrahamaic God). However, the pure concept “God” extends far beyond an isolated, arbitrary whim.

The argument then is not that God must exist – or that a particular God does exist – rather, that belief is at the very least warranted.

I’ve been batting around a possible way to extend the argument a tad further.

Now, Plantinga also argues that since we readily accept that other people have minds – have consciousness – again, belief in God (being similar, albeit more grand) is warranted.

Even though I can test for the presence of consciousness, I can’t ever really prove that any person HAS consciousness as I do; that they truly have a perspective, are subjects, are self-referencing, self-aware, etc. I simply trust that fellow humans are conscious just as I am conscious.

This is, it seems, a probabilistic argument. Even though a decisive empirical observation of consciousness is impossible (in my view), the probability that a conscious mind is present in my neighbour is good enough.

I would suggest that not only is belief in my neighbour’s mind warranted, it is also valid, and “valid enough” to be considered true.

It appears to me that most every concept, be it a logical or scientific fact, carries with it a degree of probability. Apart from the statements, “something exists,” and, “nothing does not exist,” I’d be hard pressed to come up with another absolute; even logical proofs like A = A and A ≠ not A, are beginning to seem as though they might have probabilistic properties.

I say this for two reasons; one, logic necessarily seems self-evident and indefatigable. Just as space and time are necessary categories that allow for thought, so too is logic; but this seems circular to me. We cannot see around our own eyes. The validity of this is supported by the second reason, that being the rather “illogical” activity that takes place at the quantum level. While in the world of atoms logic holds, below it, logic appears to unravel. Causality goes bye bye. Something can be itself, and something else. Logic, then, does not hold in all occasions; it is not universal.

While I’m willing to allow that gaps might get filled in we may find an extremely logical foundation for the quantum, for the time being, let’s allow that it might be contra-logical.

“Might” being the keyword.

The implication is that logic itself may be probabilistic, meaning that it is probably true, but not necessarily true.

Now, the idea I’m playing with is that high probability equals high validity. Once something crosses a probabilistic threshold, we can consider it, for all intents and purposes, to be true.

Again, using logic as the example; not only is belief in logic warranted, but the probability of logic being true is so high that we can consider it valid, or better, we should consider it valid; and so, it ought to be believed.

Therefore, given the conditions that make belief in God warranted, I would argue that a probabilistic threshold further compels us to declare such belief to also valid.

I’m not sure if this holds up, and I’m not sure if Plantinga’s taken the argument that far (he might have). It’s just something I’ve been batting around the past few days.

Two awesome free iPhone apps for the blogophile!

Information has become easy to consume; too easy in fact. As someone who tracks just a handful of blogs, even I can get overwhelmed. I can’t read every story, but I certainly don’t want to race through a feed and miss the stories that are of real interest to me. Google Reader is great when you’re at a computer, but of course, we are doing less and less of our computing at a desk. So, here are two free apps that, in my opinion, make following blogs (on your iPhone).

Mobile RSS Free

This is the best app I’ve found for bringing feeds I’ve subscribed to in Google Reader onto the iPhone. It’s slick, decently customizable, and a pleasure to read. I use the Stealth skin, and it makes reading as comfortable as it can be on a mobile device. Of course, if it floats your boat, for a few bucks you can jump to Pro, with a few more features, and of course no ads (though to be honest, I don’t even notice the ads in the free version).

Of course, you can Star, Like, Share and mark read items (all syncing with your Google Reader of course), but it also has a bunch of other great sharing options, which brings us to…

Read it Later

Sometimes when you’re skimming through a feed, you may not have time to read every story that piques your interest… so what do you do? Mark it as a favourite and hope to find it later? Open a tab that stays open in your browser for weeks? God forbid… bookmark it?

Enter Read it Later. Now, Instapaper has been the reigning champion in the “temporary bookmark” department, but Read it Later does it for me, in large part, because of the iPhone app!

As I said, Mobile RSS has a few sharing options, and Read it Later is one! See a story you want to dig into but don’t have time? In Mobile RSS, you can send it to your Read it Later account. Then, when you have time, jump into Read it Later, and go through your list. It can sync for offline reading, and can also “reflow” the text of a blog to be more screen friendly. When you’re satisfied, mark it as read, and it’s gone from the list (of course, if it was a story you knew you’d want to hang on to, you would have Starred it in Google Reader).

Both apps really making reading blogs on the iPhone a joy.

new layout

It was a time for a re-design!

Great demo video: Tech 21 Boost D.L.A.

Great demo by Bobby D of the new Tech 21 Boost D.L.A.

Sick company. Sick pedal. Can’t wait for mine!

YouTube Preview Image

PZ Myers on Science and Religion

I’ve been meaning to post this for quite sometime.

When asked on The Innoculated Mind (Jan 25, 2007) in a conversation about how Science (and more specifically Evolutionary Biology) and Religion might fit together, P.Z. Myers had this to say:

“Well, gee. I believe that you can be a good scientist and you can practice Evolutionary Biology, and be religious, but I think you are doing it by compartmentalizing and setting aside critical thinking in certain aspects of your private life. And that’s perfectly okay. People do that all the time. Umm, but.. . but I think… I think the thing is that Science tends to erode religious belief because once you start seeing the value of the Scientific Method of thinking naturally about things that, uh, what happens is you start applying that to larger and larger chunks of your life, and if you do that you can’t go to church and sit there and listen to the minister without thinking… how do you know that? How did you determine that? And that… that ought to, uhh, completely gut any faith you might have.”

Interesting. Keep in mind these are not the words of some fundamentalist on a witch hunt, rather of a man who is deeply proud of his Atheism.

Mark Driscoll’s Jesus, realized

“Crucified? Not today! Time to kick some ass.”

jesus_is_almighty

Finally! A way to un-sync Gmail’s “All Mail” folder from Mac’s Mail.app

Haven’t posted in a while! Too busy working on other things; but I thought I would post this very useful tip.

If you use sync to your Gmail account using IMAP in Mac Mail, you’ve probably noticed the “All mail” folder. It’s basically Goggle’s catch-all archiving system. This folder contains a copy of every eMail you’ve sent or received through Gmail. It’s a great idea, but it can take a long time to sync with Mac Mail, and can eat up harddrive space: I was able to free up about a gigabyte but using Google Labs’ “Advanced Imap Controls.”

Just follow the instructions to activate the controls and un-sync your “All mail” folder. The whole thing takes about 20 seconds, and is well worth it!