Monday, December 19, 2011

Dresden Files RPG Log

In Episode 1: Our heroes find a red-court vamp thrall that owes them money and Henry, the demon possessed geek, decided to jump him at an AA meeting and got thrashed.
Episode 2: Skip, the half-troll, gets assigned by his boss, Aknar the dragon, to receive a shipment of the shards of Northung at SMF. A bunch of Hobs attack the plan and steal the shipment. Henry manages to track the box to Discovery park and there find a Nixie, who they (barely) capture and imprison for later interrogation.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What it means to be an agnostic atheist (In case you give a crap).

So, I am an agnostic atheist. You might be confused by that statement. Aren't agnostics and atheists different things? Agnosticism and atheism answer two different questions. I will clarify that here.

Agnostic literally means "without knowledge", or more colloquially, "I'm agnostic" means "I don't know". This is usually used to answer the question "Do you believe in God?" Most of the time this is used to avoid an argument with your religious relatives and coworkers. However, "I don't know" is a silly answer to "Do you believe in God?” How does someone not know if they believe in God? If you do not know what you believe, who does?

Agnosticism is an answer to the question "Does God exist?” One can reasonably answer "I do not know" to that question. On the existence of God, I am agnostic. There might be some God somewhere that I do not know about. By way of comparison, I am also agnostic regarding leprechauns, vampires, extra-terrestrials, and unicorns; so don't get excited. There might be extra-terrestrials somewhere, but I have never seen any good evidence. Some people claim to know that God does not exist. This is usually based on the idea that God is a self-contradicting term, like a square circle. However, I think it is mostly a matter of semantics and I dislike such games.

Atheism means "without God". It literally means that you have no dealings with gods, I suppose, but it is usually means that you do not believe God exists. I suppose that someone could believe that God exists but also not worship him, but that would be strange, especially considering the punishments at stake, but that is another topic, so I will use it as an answer to the belief question.

Therefore, when one says they are an "agnostic atheist" one is stating "I do not know for certain that there is no God, but I do not believe there is." However, this is also like saying “I do not know for certain there are no vampires, but I do not think there are."

In addition, atheism is not a belief system. It is the lack of belief. You really can't ask what atheists believe anymore than you can ask what non-skydivers believe. Other than believing that skydiving doesn't look fun, claiming to be a non-skydiver does not say much. Trying to define someone or something by what it isn’t is not a very useful practice.

When most people think of an atheist, they are really thinking of a secular humanist, or something similar. Secular Humanism is an ethical belief system that has tenants that are accepted by its members. If you had to boil Secular Humanism down to one sentence, it would be "Don't be a jerk". Look it up. However, there are atheists that are religious. There are secular Jews, secular Buddhists, secular Unitarians, etc. So Atheism is not a terribly descriptive term.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You know it will happen.

There is a new study of human skulls that shows that humans living in higher latitudes, such as northern Europe, have larger eyes and brains than those living closer to the equator. This is believed to be due to the lower light levels there that require a little more umph in the visual processing areas.
How long will it take for white supremacists to use this as justification for saying that Caucasians are smarter?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Special rights for the religious threatened by equal rights for gays.

This article by the Deseret News claims that religious actions have greater freedom than other actions. That is to say that someone is allowed to do things that their religion demands that people would not be allowed to do for other reasons. And to some extent this is true. During prohibition, churches were still allowed to serve communion wine, and religious organizations are allowed to discriminate against members of other religions in hiring.
Treating actions based on religious belief the same as actions based on other systems of belief should not be enough to satisfy the special place of religion in the United States Constitution.

The Mormon church seem to think that they are going to be forced to perform gay marriages. Now as far as I know, no church is forced to perform any marriage, and, under the New York law, religious organizations are specifically exempted. I assume churches can turn away anyone they want, perhaps simply for not being a member. Why a gay person would want to (or perhaps be allowed to) be a member of a Mormon church is beyond me.
However, it gives an interesting look into the religious mind. He basically says 'Their equal rights are threatening to take away my special rights."
At least some of the comments are fairly reasonable.