I just learned that this week is International Blog Comment Week. So, if you happen upon this site, drop a line! And I’ll do the same for your blog. 😉
I was perusing the internet, and stumbled upon a new Google tool: Google Sets. You enter in a few items from a set, and Google will generate a larger set. So, for example, you enter “red,” “blue” and “purple” — and it will generate a larger list of colors. To test the intelligence of this thing, I entered “Kant,” “Mill,” and “Bentham,” and I got a set with “Hobbes,” “Descartes,” “Rawls,” “Plato,” “Hume,” and others. Neat! I don’t know yet what the use of such a tool is, but I’m sure the possibilities are endless!
I sit here trying to get work on my prospectus and allow myself to get distracted by random daydreaming, and by this wretched computer that tempts me by whispering: “just play on me for five minutes, then you can get back to work”. Of course five minutes easily turns into 30 or 40, and easily my day is wh ittled away…but, now I play via a philosophical ramble.
I have a keenly clever friend who has attempted, at various times, to convince me of atheism (I’m currently an agnostic). He convinced me of it once, and I have since forgotten the bulk of his argument and have subsequently backed down from atheism and settled in the much more comfortable agnostic position. Dissapointed in my reversion, my friend has tried to re-convert me, and while I recognize that his arguments are very compelling, I nonetheless don’t FEEL convinced.
Now, our beliefs aren’t something we voluntarily choose (e.g., I can’t just choose to believe that there is a pink elephant sitting in my lap, as much as I may like to, unless I actually have reason to believe it). Thus, I can’t simply choose to believe that God doesn’t exist, and for whatever reason, the belief isn’t there…despite the fact that I have good reason to believe it. So, it seems as if my beliefs concerning this matter are downright irrational: I recognize that my friend has given me good reason to believe that God doesn’t exist, and yet I don’t feel convinced. So, what gives?
I’ve thought of various reasons that explain my seeming irrationality, and have decided to cite them in the rest of this entry.
Continue reading atheism and irrationality
I stumbled upon this webpage that allows you to write an e‑mail that will be delivered to you at some specified future date, thus enabling you to write an e‑mail to your future self. So, I could theoretically write an e‑mail to myself that will delivered five years from now, asking me if I’ve finished my dissertation yet. (ha!) Well, I don’t know the practical use of such a site, but it seemed eclectic and interesting enough that I thought I might pass it on! So, check it out: futureme.org
Here’s a nice article about local vs. national news — and how the voice of the common voter is better represented in our local newspapers, rather than by national news (which tends to reduce the populus to mindless stereotypes). Anyway, a nice reminder of the importance of staying in tune with one’s community (which I, unfortunately, am still struggling to do)…and it ties in beautifully with a book I’ve just read — 50 Ways to Love Your Country — which recounts some inspiring stories of people who have taken political action at the local level (which, in the end, often made a difference at the national).
At any rate, a refreshing news story during a time in which the behavior of many of many of our politicians leaves me a bit jaded.
I thought I’d post some happy Linux news: Greenpeace makes “sensible” switch to Linux
Not that any of my fine livejournal friends are at all interested in Star Trek, but I thought I’d vent nonetheless. I used to be a big fan of the Next Generation (well, I still am, I just haven’t watched it much since the series ended). I loved it because it was intelligent and philosophically thougtful…and I think that, at least in some ways, it helped mold my moral sensibilities.
I haven’t really gotten into any of the other Star Trek spin-offs — there was nothing it particular that I didn’t like about them, but I just could never muster much of an interest in them. So, if you didn’t know about it, there’s a new series called Enterprise — about the FIRST Enterprise ship (stars Scott Bakula as the captain). I had watched part of one episode a while back, but was turned off by the gratuitous T & A.
So, I watched an episode the other night (I was bored)…and found myself deeply disturbed by it. The basic story was: there was one of the crewmembers in a coma or some such thing, in need of a transplant organ or something, so they decide to clone this person so that they operate on the clone and get the needed organ. This clone supposedly is given some sort of rapid aging ability, so that it becomes an adult in a matter of days, and while the operation supposedly won’t kill him, he will nonetheless only have a lifespan of about 10 days. They briefly explore the ethical implications of bringing a person into the world for the express utilitarian purpose of using its organs, but dismiss this moral consequence because they are in dire need of this comatose crew member.
So, they clone this guy, and the little baby quickly becomes an adult (and strangely has the memories of the person he is a clone of). They inform the clone of his purpose, and he graciously accepts it, until they learn that the transplant will end up killing the clone after all. And then he wants to live, and tries to convince the captain to attempt a procedure that will stop his rapid aging process, so that he can live out a normal life-span. The captain refuses, and ORDERS the clone-guy to go through with the transplant (even though it will kill him). The clone-guy ends up going through with the procedure (voluntarily?), which of course kills him…and they have this nice little funeral for him at the end (sniff sniff).
Okay, so that’s the story — and I find it very disturbing because of the ethical position it seems to be touting: that is, that it is justifiable to treat humans as mere means to a utilitarian end…that it is okay to bring a person into the world for the sole purpose of using them as means. It turned my stomach. Picard would never have endorsed such principles.
Kudos to them for exploring the cloning controversy…but tsk tsk for taking a stand that doesn’t respect the intrinsic integrity of persons. It turned my stomach…they should read some Kant, for christ’s sake…or at least watch some TNG.