A tip from camping

Steak cubes

So I didn’t mention yet, but when I went camping a few weeks ago we discovered one of the greatest things to cook over the fire: steak cubes.

It’s pretty simple but requires a bit of patience. Basically either buy steak cubes or chop up a steak into little cubes, then roast a half-dozen of them on a stick over the campfire (just like marshmallows, but slower, and do not light them on fire!) Very delicious.

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My rationale for disbelief

The following is taken from a Facebook wall-to-wall discussion I’m having (and he keeps deleting mine and his posts so I’ve decided to re-transcribe this here). This is in response to his question:

i would like to hear how you rationally decided that god could not exist

I’ll start with the assertion evolution is scientifically accepted (in that no scientific evidence has been put forth to cast doubt on the theory). So let’s think back to the emergence of the homo sapien species. We see social groups start to form, language emerge, and tool use develop. Now questions start arising (why does the sun rise, what happens when we die etc.). Elders of the tribe are generally respected in their tribe and they attempt to come up with reasonable explanations – the sun god makes the sun rise and set – so the tribe makes sacrifices to the sun god (or harvest god or whatever) in hopes that everything will continue merrily. Superstition spreads in some tribes, and their beliefs bind them. Those with tight beliefs and better morals (like the old don’t eat seafood, raw meat, etc. – things that would kill the ignorant) are better suited to survival and flourish (evolution directly favouring the tribes with the best beliefs of the time). As time passes different religions come and go, and eventually we see Christianity (and the other modern religions) emerge. Finally scientific methods start to dawn (17th century), and notions of the sun circling the Earth (because of god or whatever) are demonstrated to be false. As more and more is discovered, there becomes less and less need for people to hold onto the superstitions that allowed our species to persist this long.

So from my view, religion is a byproduct of evolution. With this in my mind, I see no reason that god needs to exist in any sense other than a mystical belief that our ancestors used to explain the unexplainable. Right now we still don’t completely understand the brain/mind, but I believe that we will gain a much greater perspective on that within our lifetimes.

From my view, it seems illogical to require a god still, beyond holding onto archaic traditions. And if you do believe in a god, which one(s)?

And to me its not that god doesn’t exist, but more that its very very very unlikely that he doesn’t (see Russel’s Teapot argument).

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Global warming is still real

Hey remember that film Al Gore made a year ago? Well I actually never saw it, but I have looked into actual studies and the science (of which there isn’t as much discord as some may have you believe). The key point to remember is that global warming is happening, and its most likely our own damn fault.

So what should we do? Not driving Hummers (or any large vehicle for that matter), or just driving less in general is a good start. Turning lights, computers, and electronic devices off when not in use helps too. Also start promoting these ideas to family, coworkers, and friends.

No one is really expected to make mad dramatic shifts in their lifestyle (like giving up all forms of non-recyclable products), but many minor shifts made by many people can quickly add up.

The environment does matter, so lets do something about it.

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Free cookies!

So I walked in to ScotiaBank on Whyte today to get the last info for my credit card application faxed in, and they had free cake, punch, and cookies for everyone. And I must honestly say – Best free cookies ever. The free food was in celebration of Canada Day. It almost gives me enough reason to like big banks again.

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How do I describe it

It’s so cliché to say I can’t find the words to describe how I feel about my special someone, but there’s a reason for most clichés I guess.

It all started in the whirlwind of the end of classes. I went to the Physics Undergraduate Society’s Yuri’s Night party on the night before my last EE 350 midterm. I went planning to go for only a couple hours, then study, before sleeping and then writing my test. Instead I met Sonia.

Ian and Sonia

I ended up seeing her every day for the next two weeks until she had to move back to Calgary. We talk nearly every day online and are always in anticipation for the next chance to see each other. It feels amazing.

I feel I have a connection with her, and that we can really get along on a variety of topics and share lots of interests.

Things feel really good right now. Love is a great thing to have, and I hope that everyone can be so lucky in their own lives.

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The Scientific Method

There’s the question that’s been put out there in the past:

If there was one thing that you could pass onto a new civilization that knew nothing about the world, universe or anything, what would you (with all of 21st century knowledge at your disposal) pass along?

One famous scientist (who I can’t remember at the moment for the life of me) answered the idea of the atom, that all matter is made up of tiny particles (and so on and so forth).

My answer would be the idea of conducting the scientific method.  Basically that you can discover things most effectively by testing, creating a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis to see if it holds for all situations, and passing knowledge onto all peers to be reviewed and critically examined.

I see modern day society and think that so many people lack these basic critical thinking skills that if that could have been developed and imparted in the first steps of society a lot of modern grief could have been avoided.

But I won’t get off on a tirade.  How would you answer the question?

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A quarrel with forums

So I read through a lot of blogs and Facebook discussion forums. What I’ve come to notice is there are a lot of people that join a group for something they are against, then start posting on the wall or the board, or leave comments just bashing the group/author. Often times there are fake Facebook profiles created just for this, other times these cowards join, post their profanity, then leave. It’s a bit ridiculous. Are there really that many junior high kids who get off doing this?

Here’s one comment I got for my group for ‘UofA Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers:’

Chase Hollman wrote at 8:38pm on June 25th, 2007

Righteous atheists are as bad as any righteous theists. Remember that!

Well that’s not so offencive at first glance, to really understand what I am trying to do (which you can easily figure out by reading the group description) is to create a group that ties like-minded people together.  I state specifically:

This group is NOT for flaming anyone of any religion, but to promote critical thought on the topic of religion, and to provide a group for those who choose not to identify any god.

I’m not trying to create a “righteous atheist” group here, and comments like that are just ridiculous.  I’d be a lot less offended and pissed off if he had actually bothered to stay in the group for more than a few hours (if that).

People like this only further the need for a group like what I’m trying to start.  We need to stand up and show ourselves as equals to anyone who has a god.  I am just as ethical as any religious person – and I’m moral without being afraid.

That’s all for now.

~Ian

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The Weakest Argument Ever

Well it says in the bible that…

This is equivalent to me saying that anything ever written is invariably true. Furthermore, if this were to be a half viable argument one would have to adhere to every line of the bible. Here’s a few:

“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)

“If a man lies with a woman during her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has discovered her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from her people.” (Leviticus 20:18)

“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.” (Leviticus 25:44-45)

“Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (Leviticus 19:27)

“…and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7)

“…do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear material woven of two kinds of material.” (Leviticus 19:19)

“But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:10)

“They (shellfish) shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination.” (Leviticus 11:11)

“Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales; that shall be an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:12)

So what if these are all Old Testament versus, since Creationists base their belief in the age of Earth on this book. They also get their hatred of homosexuality from this book.

Expecting me to believe that every word of a story book that’s several thousand years old is true with absolutely no to very little supporting scientific evidence is absurd. God did not write the bible, men did. Men who heard many stories, and furthermore enjoyed telling stories themselves. I don’t hold a word of it to be anymore than a reference for a group of people to live their lives.

So please, do not ever say to me – “it’s in the bible.”

~Ian

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Guide to Atheism

About.com has a good section on Atheism. Some quotes:

Because of atheism’s long-standing association with freethought, anti-clericalism, and dissent from religion, many people seem to assume that atheism is the same as anti-religion. This, in turn, seems to lead people to assume that atheism is itself a religion – or at least some sort of anti-religious ideology, philosophy, etc. This is incorrect. Atheism is the absence of theism; by itself, it isn’t even a belief, much less a belief system, and as such cannot be any of those things.

It’s not obvious that the existence or desires of gods should matter to us.

Perhaps the most basic reason for not believing in any gods is the absence of good reasons for doing so.

There’s lots of articles there and it  would be a good resource for anyone who wants a quick way to explore the common ideas and arguments regarding atheism.

~Ian

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