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Go to: Surely by now we've outgrown the soul?

AisforAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by AisforAtheist

Dualists? They can go to hell. ;)

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 18:00:56 UTC | #881561

Go to: Canadian girl 'youngest to discover supernova'

AisforAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by AisforAtheist

And she's from Fredericton, NB - my stellar nursery, and home of University of New Brunswick's wonderful Electrical Engineering faculty!

You go, girl!

On a somber note, and since this is an atheist site, I should pay hommage to a wonderful EE professor, Dr. Balusubramanian (aka "Balu"), who became a victim of religious terrorism in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985 (the worst ever terror attack in aviation prior to 9/11).

I recall very fondly his lectures on closed-loop negative feedback control systems. He described how socio-political and socio-economic systems can be modeled using the techniques of System Dynamics and Controls. (e.g., tax rate changes as step inputs; unforeseen events as "Disturbance inputs"; etc.)

With one hand writing on the chalkboard, he would do partial fraction expansion (re: Laplace Transforms) while carrying on a conversation about something else completely.

A finer teacher and nicer man I've never met.

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 16:57:51 UTC | #573726

Go to: U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents

AisforAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by AisforAtheist

Comment 2 by -thecodecrack- As long as we make sure that curing things is profitable (in terms of dollars)...

I live in a country with socialized medical care. In much the same manner as we view road-building activity, or defense, we view medical care activity as a national expense, not as a "profit centre".

Any technical advances achieved in the road-building industry will lead to profit from some entrepreneurs, I'm sure. So will advances in curative techniques lead to profit for those interested parties in the medical field.

The road builder can't patent the idea of harnessing gravity in banked curves. Yet he can patent innovations he brings to other areas of his work. Similarly, it wouldn't appear that patenting genes is a necessary precondition for profit incentives to exist in the health care industry.

p.s. The topic of "pulling out all the stops" in our search for a cure for cancer is particularly poignant as we all hope for a good outcome for Christopher Hitchens, and other cancer patients. Go Hitch, go! (I'm now reading Hitch 22 as an eBook on our iPad... Wow!). My Mom, an atheist who married a catholic, died of cancer while too young).

Tue, 02 Nov 2010 13:44:03 UTC | #541501

Go to: The Unbelievable Truth

AisforAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by AisforAtheist

Among believers in astrology, pitifully few even realize that the entire scheme was dreamed up by a human. Fewer still could name Ptolemy, or when he lived.

Fully 54% of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who started the Protestant Reformation.

Sun, 03 Oct 2010 15:17:25 UTC | #528451

Go to: Moral confusion in the name of 'science'

AisforAtheist's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by AisforAtheist

I find all of the Horsemen to be fascinating, Sam included.

Still, I come at my philosophical approach to life - and society - from a perspective which seems far closer to Dawkins' view, namely that our minds arise from the presence of brain organs, which themselves are a mere necessary material component of the temporary vessels containing the DNA "copy me" instructions, we call our bodies. Obviously Sam Harris agrees with that, but for simplicity, allow me to paint Dawkins as someone who advances the "stripped-down" view and allows others, like Harris, to get into the deeper abstractions that follow from this common ground.

In this light, two things may be said:

(1) That we are sentient, and experience such things as joy and sadness, is merely a side-effect of evolution - a fortunate one from the perspective of those few who enjoy life, or a sad tragedy from the perspective of many others.

(2) We have an opportunity to recognize ourselves as being sentient, and as beings capable of applying our faculties to influence external factors in such a manner as to influence not only our own well-being, but optionally too, that of other sentient creatures.

Needless to say, it is that 2nd point that goes to the core of any debate over morality.

To sum up, it seems to me that one need not go much further than the simpler Dawkins "stripped-down" approach to self-interpretation as a mere occupant of a DNA machine that's loaded with (and capable of spreading) "copy me" instructions. Personally, I find it works wonderfully on its own; it is both straightforward and "useful" inasmuch as it sets forth an enlightened stage from which we're better able to decide what to do with these faculties. By sheer dint of being better grounded in the material reality of our circumstance (and certainly better than a religious basis), we have a better chance of aligning our morally-related decisions with outcomes that maximize our own well-being.

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 00:04:00 UTC | #453839

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