Friday, November 27, 2009

A Question of Motive

Scientists say that the entire vast diversity of life on Earth was caused by genetic mutation (which changes individuals) and natural selection (which distributes the most effective genes around a population). Whenever a population divides for a long enough time, they become genetically isolated and will thenceforth continue to be divided even if they share a territory; the two groups will go their own way, and over millions of years they can become astonishingly different. We have a sequence of fossils that demonstrates this gradual change throughout consistent strata of rock. We have several independent dating methods that corroborate one another, including tree-ring dating and many different types of radiometric dating, all of which support the notion that the fossils we've found are many millions of years old if not more. We've seen bacteria adapting through random mutation in laboratory settings, and, as we'd expect, the mutant bacteria thrive and take over the population.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Revenge of the Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil has apparently been a cornerstone of religious criticism for a rather long time, dating back even to the Greek philosophers. I recall reading that the guy it's usually attributed to probably didn't actually say it, so I won't bother looking him up just to mention him by name. In its original form, the argument went something like this:

1. If God is willing to prevent evil but not able, he is not omnipotent.
2. If God is able to prevent evil but not willing, he is not benevolent.
3. If God is both able and willing to prevent evil, why is there evil?
4. If God is neither able nor willing to prevent evil, why call him "God" at all?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Religious Indoctrination

The non-religious demographic in the United States -- that is, people who run the gamut from atheists to agnostics to the simply non-religious -- is growing. It has doubled in the last 20 years, and the current rate of growth is stable. We're at 15% of the American population right now, and it's projected that we'll be something like 25% by 2030. I tend to think that this says a lot about the indoctrination of children into their parents' religion.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Problem with WoW

Last year, I would have told you that I refuse to play Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games on principle. The very concept of a static-state world that I can never meaningfully save, shared with an obscenely large population of peer heroes and heroines, was anathema to my concept of a good game. Two months ago, I would have told you that even though I spent a few months playing City of Heroes, thereby redacting my earlier stance that such a static world could not make for a good game, I would still refuse to play World of Warcraft, because Blizzard was making far too much money to tolerate based on relatively little content. Has any single video game ever had a larger profit margin? I haven’t run the numbers, but my perception as a consumer is that it’s unprecedented.