Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm not sure even I really expected the Dems to take the Senate too. The House I was sure of, but the Senate? The pendulum's momentum was greater than I expected, or most anyone else for that matter. How well we do in 2008 will depend heavily on how well the party stays focused on the issues and away from bashing and countering the Republicans. One result of such a big swing is that it made many Republicans realize they have lost focus, or focused on the wrong things. Rumsfeld was the first casualty of that realization (yeah, yeah, I've heard that it was in the works before the elections, but I can say without a doubt that if the elections had gone differently, he would still be Sec Def; and if Bush had done it beforehand, they probably would have). They will probably, at least for the time being, be willing to work in a bi-partisan manner.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stirring the pot

Well, it looks like I'm finally getting around to writing a blog entry on one reason why I'm an agnostic. Warning: long blog entry. :) Quite a few friends / acquaintances have recently probed me on the question, and have all started with the same reason for believing (I think it's the most common way Christians approach agnostics in discussion, at least here in the Bible belt). So I've had to explain my position and opinion on that reason several times. What better way to deal with several queries than to write a blog entry!

The proposed reason for believing: Pascal's Wager (though most don't know the formal name). Pascal's Wager basically says that one should believe in God (in his arguement, the Christian God) because the end result of believing is always better than the end result of not believing. Basically there are four outcomes:
  • One believes and there is a God - heaven
  • One believes and there is no God - nothing
  • One doesn't believe and there is a God - hell
  • One doesn't believe and there is no God - nothing
Since the worst outcome from believing is nothing, and the worst outcome from not believing is hell, one should believe based on the possible outcomes.

Here are a couple of my issues with this reasoning:

1. It assumes, if there is a God and heaven, the only rewards and/or punishments are dictated by strict Christian theology. What if the following were true:
It is a common belief that only the morally good should populate heaven, and this is a reasonable belief, widely defended by theists of many varieties. Suppose there is a god who is watching us and choosing which souls of the deceased to bring to heaven, and this god really does want only the morally good to populate heaven. He will probably select from only those who made a significant and responsible effort to discover the truth. For all others are untrustworthy, being cognitively or morally inferior, or both. They will also be less likely ever to discover and commit to true beliefs about right and wrong. That is, if they have a significant and trustworthy concern for doing right and avoiding wrong, it follows necessarily that they must have a significant and trustworthy concern for knowing right and wrong. Since this knowledge requires knowledge about many fundamental facts of the universe (such as whether there is a god), it follows necessarily that such people must have a significant and trustworthy concern for always seeking out, testing, and confirming that their beliefs about such things are probably correct. Therefore, only such people can be sufficiently moral and trustworthy to deserve a place in heaven--unless god
wishes to fill heaven with the morally lazy, irresponsible, or untrustworthy. - Richard Carrier [ref]

That's just one of many, many conceived possibilities of how God could truly decide. It's entirely possible that God punishes blind or false faith.

2. How does one know that the Christian God is the one true God? If one does choose to believe in God based on Pascal's Wager, then they are rejecting other theologies that have similar outcomes for ones soul. So if one does choose the Christian God, and God turns out to be the Islamic God, they get punished anyway.

Basically what I'm getting at is that the four options presented in the wager are not the only four options, many others exist. With no proof or knowledge of what is actually true, there is no one religion (or non-religion, which is why I'm agnostic) that I can commit myself to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Still alive.

I thought I'd put up a little post to let everyone know I'm still alive. Looks like things haven't changed much since my last post, other than it appears right on track. Not sure if the Dems will take back both the House and Senate, but a big swing is already gaining momentum. I may write something in the near future about the Geneva Convention issues and detainees.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Topping the hill

It seems that the right has pushed hard enough to upset the balance people like to maintain. I consider myself a fairly moderate liberal. A majority of the people in this nation consider themselves moderate. The scales have been pushed farther to the right most are comfortable with, and it very well could show up as soon as the elections for 2006.
Tying into the last post, SD's governor actually did sign that bill into law, and it will take effect this summer. Of course there are going to be challenges to it in court, and we all know it will end up being heard before the Supreme Court. I honestly think that the high court will strike it down, and keep with the previous ruling in Roe V. Wade. A considerable majority of the population is in the middle of the debate, neither believing that abortion should be unrestricted, nor believing it should be banned. This law goes to one extreme of the debate, and I don't know one person I've talked to since this law came up that agrees with it (most people get hung up on no exceptions for rape or incest). I myself am not on the extreme of the liberal end. I think partial birth abortions should be banned, with an exception for the life and health (dire health) of the mother. The backlash if this law were upheld would be considerable, pushing the country farther to the left (I think abortion ban laws would be repealed in some of the states that are considering them, as more moderate representatives would be elected).
Back to the more general balance of the scales. Bush is done for. He is finally starting to pay the price for his bad judgment in going to war in Iraq. Face it, if you convince the nation and the world you are going to war for a set of reasons, and those reasons you are pushing are questionable and even false, then you're going to pay for it later. Hmm, let's review the reasons stated previous to going to war (making the case). 1. WMDs; acquiring and stockpiling WMDs since the first world war. 2. Acquiring material for nuclear weapons; aluminum tubes used for enriching uranium, and uranium from Nigeria. 3. A direct connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. All three assertions have been proven false, and now he is dealing with that fallout with very low public support numbers.
It is getting so bad that even his own party is distancing itself from him. This means that the rest of his second term will pretty much be useless as he will have trouble passing anything through Congress. I could go on and on about other issues, wiretapping, etc, but my point is made, so we'll leave that to another day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You knew it was coming...

A law testing the new Supreme Court on upholding Roe v. Wade. Both houses of the South Dakota legislature have passed a bill that outlaws all abortions except those that save the life of the mother. A major point in this bill is that life begins at conception. There are no exceptions for the mothers health, rape, or incest.
I think you can all guess where I fall on this one. I'll post some more tomorrow on my reasonings.
Here's a shortcut to the bill.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Georgia and the Ten Commandments

A lawmaker in Georgia, Tommy Benton, is trying to get posters of the ten commandments displayed in all county and municipal courthouses. Lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives have approved a bill (see, which main purpose is "to recognize the religious heritage of America". It specifically mentions the display of 3 documents: the Mayflower Compact, the Ten Commandments, and the Declaration of Independence. In the words of the bill these three documents are "Public displays which acknowledge religious heritage".
The bill mainly does three things:
1. Directs the Secretary of State to prepare and distribute these displays to all counties and municipalities, at the Georgia taxpayer expense.
2. Authorizes these county and municipal governments to display them.
3. Directs the Attorney General to defend and bear costs of defending such actions.
Normally I wouldn't worry too much about this, but with the new U.S. Supreme Court makeup, it very well could get upheld. Talk about a waste of millions of dollars that could go to MUCH more useful purposes.
Here's why I don't think that the Ten Commandments offer any legitimate constitutional or legal historical context: Only 4 of the 10 commandments are law. Murder, stealing, adultery, and bearing false witness are all illegal, although adultery is not enforced, and bearing false witness is only illegal in court while under oath (arguably sometimes while under investigation). Those things also happen to be illegal in many other countries whose history have nothing to do with the ten commandments. These offenses are morally wrong whether any religion says so or not. In fact, doing some of the actions the commandments tell you not to do are actions that are protected by the Constitution! So the ten commandments are definitely no basis for the Constitution.
Do the commandments have historical significance in our society? Yes, definitely. But so does the bible, god, religion, and many other countless items. That doesn't mean any of them should be displayed in governmental institutions. This bill is just another way for over-zealous christians to impose their religion on others. We're back on a downhill slide here. Time will tell what direction this takes.

Let the games begin, again...

Ok, so I think I've made a decision about blogging. I can't research the hell out of every subject I post on. I have quite a few drafts of blogs I started, but never finished due to lack of time to research. So I think from now on, I'll just post my opinion, and maybe from time to time, do a detailed blog. This should allow me to post much more often, if I can just post my opinion, maybe why I have it, and move on. So let the posting resume.