Riker's Mailbox

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I can't believe it took me this long to think of posting an article with this title.*

No original content from me today; instead I'm going to showcase some of the other goodies out there. Without much more ado, here's a collection of some of my favorite blasphemies on the web, unimaginatively titled, 'My Favorite Blasphemies on the Web':

My Favorite Blasphemies on the Web

Reserve a Spot in Heaven
The reason I didn't link the site directly is because (A.) They are where I discovered the site originally, and (B.) Geekologie is a tremendously funny blog, the writing staff of which deserve mad props**.

xkcd - The Drake Equation
While not specifically an anti-theistic message (which he does make from time to time), this is a reminder of why it's important to think rationally and require evidence before lending any credence to mere speculation. Be sure to read the alt text over the comic image. His entire archive is like this, and usually adds an extra dimension of funny. Warning - you need to know a lot of mathematics, computer science, and general geeklore to appreciate many of this guy's cartoons. Having said that, enjoy!

Cectic - Mostly Cannot Know
One of many greats. Cectic fires most of his rounds toward generic human gullibility, but that makes for some great antireligious humor.

Russell's Teapot - Irreducible Complexity
The Crown Jewel of atheist webcomics, Russell's teapot is a deliciously funny (while sharp and insightful) look at christianity. The protagonist is a six-year-old named Russell. Read from the beginning and don't leave your computer 'till you're caught up.

Shortpacked! - Bus Stop
This comic is about a toy store and the geeks who work there, but occasionally a movie comes along that grabs the artist's attention. This one was fun. On a related note, I have no idea how The Golden Compass stands up as a movie, but I just finished the book last night and thought it was phenomenal. I'm making my way through the rest of the trilogy now.

* - Really, that's the sort of thing I find tremendously funny. I need to get out more.
* - No, not angry propellers... and not mentally unstable support beams either. The latter of which would be tragic in all its oxymoronic being.

Thursday, February 14, 2008



I don't know what happened; I started writing a post, meant to save it for later, and apparently botched the whole thing, leaving "~Riker" in the space where the article had originally appeared.

Oh well, not too late to fix this. Here is the item I meant to post:

(Let's assume that) Intelligent Design is behind the diversity of life in our universe!*

Let's face it. Intelligent Design might be true. Any scientist can admit the preceding, so long as you attach the following caveat: if it is true, we're nowhere near knowing it yet.

What in God's name am I rambling about?

The theory of Intelligent Design might actually ever-so-slightly possibly be right**. But if that's the case, it will be discovered to be so scientifically.

Assume in the early 22nd century we discover conclusively and indisputably that our entire universe was created by the anthropomorphic God of ethical monotheism***. We learn this to be an absolute fact. If there are any IDers left, they might cheer, "See? we were right all along!"

But were they? Do they deserve the credit for holding a true belief? No.

Let me repeat that. No.

They didn't arrive at their conclusions scientifically, and they happened, by a depressing accident of chance, to hold beliefs that match the objective truth of the situation. What's the distinction? Imagine in Newton's time, that some crackpot awoke from a dream and announced to him that the universe was made of a curved space-time matrix and how that fact would modify gravitational theory. Not only would Newton not believe it in the first place, Newton would be unable to harness the theory for its predictive power because he'd lack the requisite tools and knowledge to do so. He wouldn't have access to the computers needed to calculate or model the theory, or the instruments that would allow him to observe the accuracy the of the theory's predictions.

It would, in essence, be an unscientific understanding on his part... a personal revelation to him that lacked the confirmability so critical to science. It may have been closer to the truth, but it wouldn't get him anywhere. Starting with Newtonian physics as a baseline and advancing our undersatanding scientifically would be the only means by which humanity could advance to the point at which it has arrived in modern times where we can finally confirm the validity of the curved space-time theory.

An IDer today, practicing ID 'science', will never be able to prove intelligent design in the future; he will simply coast forward in time in all his ignorance, all the way to the day when it is proved true by a scientist using the scientific method.

And only one of the two will be able to make any use of that knowledge.

* - Just for the sake of ease in portraying the following assertion; trust me, it reads better this way.
** - Much in the same way that a marble statue's hand could spontaneously wave; the odds are nonzero... but looking at zero you can definitely see the family resemblance.
*** - or is actually a massive simulation running on an alien supercomputer. Equally likely.