Politics vs religion vs science

Politics is simply something that will happen if we are to have any form of government. The best we can do is channel it through democracy. Religion? It will happen, but we don’t need it, nor is it a good thing. Science, however, is necessary if we are to take the human condition seriously.* This quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson captures all of this for me:

My read of history tells me that extreme Political or Religious conflicts ultimately resolve by War. Meanwhile, extreme Scientific conflicts ultimately resolve by a search for better data.

*What I mean is, if we are to take seriously the notion that happiness is good and suffering is bad – utilitarians do, libertarians hold it as a secondary concern – then we ought to shed ourselves of religion (or, more specifically, the random baseless thinking that is faith).

Thought of the day

“Government doesn’t create jobs!”

~said no one standing on the Hoover Dam, driving on the Interstate, using most any bridge, or using any other fundamental piece of national infrastructure

The fruits of faith

As I’ve noted many times, faith is an effectively random way of believing. That is, faith is precisely belief without evidence, so it offers absolutely no logical path towards one idea or another. This is an obvious problem in the world; there are far more ways to get things wrong than to get them right, so we should expect theists and other random-belief persons to cause a lot of havoc and offense on a daily basis. The religious, dogmatic United Arab Emirates offers one of the most egregious examples as of late:

A Norwegian woman who was sentenced to prison in Dubai after reporting that she was raped has been given a pardon and will be heading home soon, she said Monday.

Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Marte Deborah Dalelv seemed relieved and happy as she confirmed the news — if still slightly bewildered by the swift turn of events.

“They told me that I would be pardoned and that they were going to give me my passport back, so I got it immediately,” she said.

Asked what happens next, Dalelv paused a moment before replying: “I get to go home.”

She added, “We want to make it as soon as possible.”…

Dalelv, a Qatar-based interior designer, was on a work trip to Dubai when she reported to police that she had been raped by a colleague at the hotel where she was staying.

She was herself then detained and charged with having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol. A court last week sentenced her to 16 months in prison, prompting outrage in Norway.

Dalelv’s lawyer, Mahmoud Azab Abu Gareda, said the sheikh’s pardon is “effectively a royal decree,” which wipes the slate clean, leaving no record of her conviction.

This means the alleged perpetrator, who was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage, also walks free, he said.

Notice the stark difference in the involved nations. The United Arab Emirates is a majority Muslim nation where Islam is the official state religion. Norway, on the other hand, has a high cultural Christian population, but relatively little religious participation. According to Wiki, only 32% of Norwegians said they believe in a personal god. Moreover, an overwhelming majority, 73%, are not theists: Of the total population, 44% are effectively deists, whereas 29% are atheists.

Of course, it isn’t that atheism or deism have led the charge in Norway’s basic moral authority in this situation. They couldn’t. They’re both 100% descriptive positions. No, it’s that the people of Norway have opted for a secular guidance in their moral and ethical thinking. This is just the opposite of faith, so it isn’t surprising when we see it working so well in so many instances.

The Atlantic Wall

The Atlantic Wall and the U.S. Interstate System are two of my favorite pieces of infrastructure. Of course, one was far more successful than the other.

Thought of the day

One of the things that makes our country weaker is that we allow states that wish to undermine the teaching of evolution. We can’t expect to have a strong, scientific nation if we keep acting like science is an opinion-based discipline.

Those obsessed atheists


George Zimmerman found not guilty

George Zimmerman was found not guilty yesterday. (I would give a link, but who isn’t aware of this case?) I’m actually quite happy with this verdict. Though it initially seemed as if he was motivated by racial animus – and maybe he did profile Martin – what apparently transpired was grounds for reasonable doubt. That is, witnesses testified they saw Martin pummeling Zimmerman. If that’s the case, then there’s just no way a jury should come back with a guilty verdict.

Ultimately, this is a victory for us all. I’m sure plenty of people won’t see it that way, but it really is. The system is heavily skewed in favor of the government; there’s just no way police, detectives, and prosecutors are something like 90% accurate in terms of their arrests, investigations, and charges. Yet that’s the conviction rate as wrought through plea deals. It’s bull. So when someone beats a charge, that should usually be cause for celebration, at least of the principles of our legal system.

Student loan rates set to double

Here’s some bullshit:

The defeat of a student loan bill in the Senate on Wednesday clears the way for fresh negotiations to restore lower rates, but lawmakers are racing the clock before millions of students return to campus next month to find borrowing terms twice as high as when school let out.

Republicans and a few Democrats blocked a White House-backed proposal that would have restored 3.4 percent interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for one more year. The failed stopgap measure was designed to give lawmakers time to take up comprehensive college affordability legislation and dodge 6.8 percent interest rates on new loans.

I’m one of the lucky few college graduates who will probably be able to very quickly get out from under some significant debt, but most students will simply be burdened with their loans for decades. That the interest rate is so high only adds to the problem.

Of course, the first real problem is that there’s interest on student loans at all. The government has a compelling interest in higher education graduation rates, so it really should be directly subsidizing student costs, but whereas we apparently need to spend money on an unnecessary military and a largely illegal domestic spy agency, we should at least give out student loans sans interest. This isn’t suppose to be a money-making endeavor, for fuck’s sake.

Thought of the day

Faith is the exact opposite of knowledge.

Black people should move out of the south

In light of the recent and awful decision by the Supreme Court to strike down an essential component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, racially callous southern states have begun to de facto target black and other minority voters:

The GOP majority in North Carolina is moving to pass a series of laws in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, sparking outrage from civil rights activists.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that North Carolina Republicans plan to adopt stricter voter identification laws. The report also said the GOP is pushing to end the state’s early voting laws, Sunday voting and same-day voter registration.

This is more about getting votes than about disenfranchising black people for the NC GOP, but it would be a mistake to ignore the volumes this speaks of their mindset. They may not have an overt desire to harm the voting rights of black people, but they are entirely unaware of the ramifications of their actions; they’re looking at the short term wins they can get (which, incidentally, they will then use to change abortion laws, failing to do anything about the economy – ever), completely glossing over what this will mean for a group of people both now and far into the future, simply because of the color of their skin.

On the decision itself:

The Supreme Court ruled a week ago that states no longer can be judged by voting discrimination that went on decades ago.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that mainly Southern states undergo special scrutiny before changing their voting laws is based on a 40-year-old formula that is no longer relevant to changing racial circumstances.

“Congress — if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions. It cannot rely simply on the past,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority, which was composed of the court’s conservative-leaning justices.

I wasn’t aware 5 ‘justices’ believing a law to not make sense also made said law unconstitutional. Color me surprised (but don’t use black – I like to vote).

It’s worth noting that the rationale behind the majority’s vote is that the constitution is a living, breathing document that changes with the times and must take present day conditions into consideration. This is wildly in contract to Political Figure Antonin Scalia’s entire judicial/political philosophy. (I presume Lapdog Thomas holds the same position. No need to double check, really.)