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  • posted a message on A Question For Pro-choicers
    I think it's really a question of when to consider the fetus a human life. Pro-lifers take this to the extreme by showing it's silly to suppose that killing someone already born is okay. Pro-choicers take this to the opposite extreme by showing it's silly to suppose that unfertilized eggs/individual sperm dying is some kind of tragedy. Really both of these extremes are silly.

    As far as I'm concerned there's a gray area where, if we would recognize the fetus as being human, it should be considered human. A zygote is not recognizable as a human. A blastocyst is not recognizable as a human. Very early stage embryos are indistinguishable from embryos of other mammals. At some point it becomes clearly recognizable as human, and at that point I feel it should not be aborted. So I support the right to early-term abortions, but not late-term abortions.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Polarization in Politics
    Quote from Highroller
    Quote from InfinityAlarm
    Is it just me or are the politics, at least in the US, beoming more and more polarized?

    Compared to?

    Compared to earlier points in the country's history. Blinking Spirit's link was a good one that seems to show we are more polarized now than any time in the past 100 years or so.

    Quote from Highroller
    I think compared to the Civil War, we're doing just fine.

    Good point Wink

    Quote from Highroller
    Indeed, I think what we're looking at is, in fact, a growing amount of people who do not identify with either of the major parties.

    Do you think this is what is causing the gridlock in Washington? It just seems that neither side is willing to budge on much of anything these days. But again, maybe that's just my perception.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Polarization in Politics
    I often wonder if it the polarization has to do with the rise of political sites online and the bias of cable news networks like MSNBC and Fox News? Like people get caught in this echo chamber, where they only hear from people who agree with them, and they're always presented the Republicans/Democrats as crazy people who are going to ruin the country. And of course the internet is even worse than the cable news networks in this regard. Online, liberals present conservatives as idiot rednecks who want to turn the country into a theocracy, and conservatives present liberals are as godless communists who want to turn the country into a socialist welfare state.

    I mean, both Liberals and Conservatives have some good ideas. It seems very few people recognize this because they only listen to people who share their views. And when people do talk to those with different views it seems that it quickly devolves into name-calling. Slant
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Polarization in Politics
    Is it just me or are the politics, at least in the US, beoming more and more polarized? (If you don't live in the US, and/or don't follow US politics, feel free to comment on your country's political landscape as well). I see this as a really negative thing as it makes compromise virtually impossible and stalls any political progress.

    What is the cause of this recent trend of increasing polarization?

    What can be done to fix it?
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Education; level of educational attainment
    F/30/BS in Computer Engineering
    Posted in: Talk and Entertainment
  • posted a message on National Pride
    Do you love your country?

    I'm not sure I even know what's being asked when someone asks me that, so I don't even know how to answer it. Like, I'm not really sure what aspect of my country I'm being asked if I love. It could refer to:
    • The geographical area bounded by my country's borders
    • The people who live in my country
    • The values held by the people of my country
    • The values that I think were held by the founders of my country
    • My country's government
    • Famous people from my country
    • My country's devotion to a specific religion
    • The founding documents of my country
    • Products made in my country
    • My country's military strength
    • My country's intervention in the affairs of the world for causes we consider justified
    Does it mean any of those? All of those?

    And if someone would ask me if I were proud to be a member of my country, I think I'd have to answer "No". I don't see why that is something I should be particularly proud of. I didn't accomplish anything by being born in my country, why should I be proud of that? It's just happenstance, right?

    So what do you think? Do you love your country? Are you proud to be a __(insert demonym for your country here)___? What do these questions mean to you?
    Posted in: Talk and Entertainment
  • posted a message on Why do some religious people think that hearing voices in their head is a good thing?
    @OP: I think a lot of believers don't really claim to audibly hear a voice (though some do claim this, I think that's a minority though). "Hearing God" is more of an inner feeling one gets that is attributed to God. At least that was my experience with hearing God.


    Quote from UA lives
    If there is a God, (who knows if there is) you would have no idea what it would or wouldn't do, or how it's laws could be formulated or justified, definitely wouldn't be able to hold it against human standards.

    Well, there's a problem for a religious person with this approach, isn't there? If God is truly beyond human comprehension, then here's what can be meaningfully said about Him:

    This applies to Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews, Deists, and everyone else. Nobody can know anything about God if He is truly incomprehensible. No one can know that He is good, that He is intelligent, that He has a heaven prepared for people, that Jesus is/isn't His Son, that Muhammed is/isn't His final prophet, no one can say they know what He desires for them to do, and so on...

    I think pretty much every religious person claims to comprehend some things about God, His nature, and/or His desires. If this is the case, then the believer must concede that God is comprehensible.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Can [the Christian] God be good and all-powerful?
    Quote from The_AC
    Jesus says that someone's good deeds only prove he/she is good if they are inconvenient.

    Where does He say that? Confused
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on King of the Nerds
    I liked it, but I like a lot of reality shows, so I don't know what that says about this one. I remember not liking Virgil much because he seemed kinda arrogant at times, and I was happy about the person who wound up getting crowned king of the nerds.

    Quote from Plaguefather
    I would've breezed through the competition and not made an enormous fool of myself on national television...

    No, you wouldn't have. You would've been edited to look like a fool at times. That's what reality shows do. They have like 500 hours worth of material to work with and can pick a few seconds out here and there and then edit them to make you look like whatever they want your "character" to look like.

    Quote from Plaguefather
    all this does is reinforce negative stereotypes about geek/nerd culture...

    Well, I mean are they really negative things about nerd/geek culture? Has there been a shift in the zeitgeist over the past few years where being nerdy is now kinda cool or at least acceptable? (Or maybe it's just that I've come to terms with the fact that I like nerdy things and am cool with that now instead of being embarrassed by it.)

    I can't really say. Has culture kinda shifted in that direction, or not so much?
    Posted in: Television
  • posted a message on Hopefully this isn't offensive: Let's talk about rape
    Quote from brasswire
    Honest (perhaps ignorant) question: If both people are falling down drunk, and they have sex, how do you determine if rape occurred? And further, who raped who? If neither person was sober enough to give consent, then are they both guilty of raping each other?

    That's a good question. I don't really know.

    Quote from Ophidian Eye
    Obviously, this situation could be avoided with verbal consent, but do we blame the first party or culture more?

    Blame each to the extent that they're capable of influencing the situation I guess? I'm not quite sure how to quantify "blame" to answer which should get more blame.

    I'd rather just say "What can be done to prevent this from happening again?" then try to figure out who/what to blame the most.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Hopefully this isn't offensive: Let's talk about rape
    Quote from DirkGently
    Of course you can't prevent anything 100% of the time - locks example, identity thief example, etc. But a certain amount of common sense on the first few dates - stay in public places, don't get overly inebriated - shouldn't be very intrusive and could definitely protect you. You're probably better off avoiding a lot of drinks for the first few dates anyway, but that's just my opinion. I'm not saying it's your fault if you want to get drunk, but I'm saying if your goal is to avoid getting raped, not getting drunk is probably a good idea with someone you don't know well.

    This quote here just really makes it seem that you don't understand the problem. There needs to be a change in culture so that guys are told 'You're probably better off avoiding a lot of drinks for the first few dates. If your goal is to avoid raping, not getting drunk is probably a good idea with someone you don't know well.' Sure you can continue to educate girls in the way you mentioned, but no one even suggests educating guys. That's the sort of culture change that is being looked for.

    As far as the whole verbal consent thing and it being a mood-killer, that's another sort of cultural change that needs to happen. Know what else can turn down the heat of the moment? A guy fumbling around for a condom and putting it on. Does that mean that condoms are dumb and shouldn't be used? Hardly. Same thing with getting verbal consent. A quick "Babe, are you sure you want to do this?" and nod with accompanying "Yeah" takes all of like two seconds and hardly kills the mood. Hell, just ask while your getting out your condom and kill two birds with one stone! Wink If it became the cultural norm to ask before sex it would be expected and it would help to reduce the rate of rape. Again, as Jay13x said, it isn't strangers jumping out of bushes committing the majority of rapes.

    And as far as "No means no" vs. "Only yes means yes" imagine the following situation: a girl gets barely-able-to-walk, practically-passed-out drunk at a party and a drunk guy shuttles her off to a bedroom.
    • In a "No means no" culture, the guy doesn't hear "no" and has sex with her. He never got consent from her, despite following the cultural norm.
    • In an "Only yes means yes" culture, the guy doesn't hear "yes" and realizes that he doesn't have her consent.

    And as for the "well she shouldn't have been getting so damn drunk in that environment, it's too risky" train of thought, that's part of the culture that needs to change. Rarely in our culture would anyone fault the guy, or advise the guy not to get so damn drunk in that situation. But think about that scenario if only the guy were sober and the girl was still completely ****faced drunk. He probably wouldn't have wound up raping her, right? That's part of the cultural change that is being looked for: emphasize to both sexes this advice on how to avoid the occurrence of rape. People don't get drunk and commit identity theft without realizing it, but people do get drunk and commit rape without realizing it.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Proposition on a final orthodox agnosticism to just finally end it, jeez
    Chenjesu, it's not about this binary, black-or-white concept of "You either know stuff or you don't know anything" that you seem to be presenting.

    Apart from a famous thought of René Descartes, I do agree with you that we either know stuff or we don't know anything. However, it is highly inadvisable to just throw up your hands at this point and give up since you can't really know much of anything.

    The focus should be on finding increasingly reliable means of predicting what will happen in the future. Suppose you are standing in the middle of a street and observe a semi truck hurtling down the road towards you. Compare the following two approaches:

    "I can't know what that semi truck is going to do. It may suddenly swerve off the side of the road, it may explode in a ball of fire, it may deploy wings and rockets and fly into the air, it may stay on course, or it may turn into a frog and hop away. I don't know what it will do, so I shall assume nothing about it."


    "Vehicles typically maintain their present form and direction of travel. I should move out of the way right now."

    The second one doesn't claim to know anything, but it uses observed patterns to make an educated guess about the future. No futures are known with regards to the looming semi, but that doesn't mean all futures are equiprobable.

    Science, I would say, is humanity's way of probing our limits of pattern-finding and future-prediction. Of course science doesn't predict things with 100.0% certainty. However predicting things correctly 99.7% of the time is a very useful ability to have. Heck, predicting things correctly even 55% of the time can be more useful than pure chance.

    And animals do this too, by the way. They use observation and memory to learn what it's a good idea to do and what it's not a good idea to do. For example: "During time (of day or year) T, I found prey/food in Location X. I should try Location X again when I'm hungry." And if the animal observes a pattern of prey/food only really being there during Time T, guess what? The animal usually only checks out Location X during Time T. I doesn't know it will find food then and there, but it's worked well so far and it is advisable to follow the observed pattern.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Help from God and Free Will
    Interesting stuff so far everyone! A good read! Smile

    Highroller, what has been confusing me about your posts concerns the scenario of U#581 and Jim choosing Q.

    Suppose that God creates U#581 in which Jim chooses Q. Do you think it is possible for Jim to choose "not Q"?

    This seems definitionally impossible. Jim seems to literally have as much choice as a robot in whether or to do Q. What's the important distinction between God creating U#581 in which Jim cannot choose "not Q", and IcecreamMan installing program #581 on a robot named Jim-bot in which Jim-bot cannot choose "not Q".

    Is the difference that Jim's "will" determines Q, but Jim-bot's doesn't? You told me on page 3 that "will" is something along the lines of "processes of decision-making internal to the individual in question". I have difficulty seeing how the two scenarios are significantly different. Either both decision-making processes are inside the individuals (Jim's brain, Jim-bot's cpu), or they are external to the individuals (God crafted the universe in such a way that Jim will choose Q, IcecreamMan writes the programming in such a way that Jim-bot will choose Q).

    I take it you feel these situations are different? Could you explain what the significant difference is between them?
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Help from God and Free Will
    So there's some good discussion going on here! I'm not going to be able to keep up with the pace this is going at, but will definitely be reading what you all have to say as I get the opportunities. Smile

    A couple things from what I've read so far, both actually directed at Highroller:

    Thing #1: I've seen you talking about a person's "will" here quite a bit. For example:
    Quote from Highroller
    If Jim is choosing Q by his own volition, this is free will. In this case, it wouldn't matter whether or not God saw it coming. All that matters is that Jim has his own will and is making a choice. That's free will.

    Could you explain to me exactly what you mean when you use the word "will" here? I'd like to make sure I'm understanding you correctly. Is it something along the lines of "processes of decision-making internal to the individual in question"? Or am I off the mark here?

    Thing #2: Again, directed at Highroller. You said "For free will to exist, there must be multiple possible states with a person being able to choose between them. If there is only one, no actual choice is being made." but then you indicated that in Grant's scenario that there is an important difference between God "reaching into someone's head" and forcing them to them turn left, and God putting up impassible barriers ahead of, behind, and to the right of a person thereby forcing them to turn left.

    Both of these scenarios seem to fail your "there must be multiple possible states with a person being able to choose between them. If there is only one, no actual choice is being made" test for free will. In neither the mind-control nor the barricade scenario are there multiple possible states with a person being able to choose between them. All roads lead to the left in both. I don't understand why one scenario is free will and the other isn't.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Help from God and Free Will
    Quote from Highroller
    I mean think about it, people plan things around other peoples' actions all the time. If we can do it, why not God? God is infinitely smart, after all.

    Well we make loose plans around people's somewhat-predictable behaviors and reactions to things. An all-knowing God would be better at predicting reactions and behaviors, but could not do so flawlessly, right? That's the nature of free will, it can't ever really be known what the person will decide to do until they decide to do it. It would seem that a consequence of this is that people with free will are able to disrupt the plans of an omnipotent, omniscient God. I guess if someone is willing to concede that humans can mess up the plans of God, then I see no conflict.

    And going back to the original example of my cousin getting the house because ultimately someone a few states away retired (...because the retiree decided to start saving for retirement at age 25 because they saw their parents struggling from not saving enough for retirement because their parents couldn't afford to set aside money for retirement because a tree fell on their house and they weren't insured because their kid got sick and medical bills took money away from buying good home insurance, and God intervened to get the kid sick and have the tree fall on the house so that my cousin could ultimately wind up getting the house before the wedding) That kind of remote causality seems very strange to attribute to God when there were so many intervening actions. It's like thanking the butterfly not flapping its wings in South Africa for the damage avoided by Hurricane Zoe not forming.

    Quote from IcecreamMan80
    Again though, I must ask - do you believe in a God that created the Universe with infallible foreknowledge of all events, the "end before the beginning".
    This is actually an important question, because I believe it makes or breaks the entire premise of free will.

    Oh I'm just asking in like a theoretical sense IcecreamMan. Like if there's free will, could an omnipotent omniscient God have a plan that humans couldn't interfere with?

    I personally think there's no extant gods, and that free will is a stubborn illusion. Wink
    Posted in: Religion
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