Occasionally I visit a site called Debate.org. It’s exactly what it says it is – a site where people can start and take part in debates. These have a set structure and can take place in written or video form. The site could be better, and a lot of people treat it as a vehicle to start debates in order to boost their stats (they stack the deck in their favour with the question they ask and the rules of the debate), but there is room to grow.

I am in fact engaged in a debate as I type. I’m posting it here, for posterity. My posts are in blue, ViceRegent’s are in purple. The debate header is ‘how do atheists know fact from fiction?’

IF YOU ARE UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO READ THIS WHOLE POST AND THEN RESPOND TO THE SINGLE QUESTION IT ASKS, GO AWAY. I FIND IT HILARIOUS THAT THESE ATHEISTS KEEP VOMITING WORDS AND YET NOT ONE HAS ANSWERED MY Q.

Atheists love to live under the delusion that they are the guardians of rationality. But how can they hold this title when they cannot even articulate a rational way to know truth from fiction. If they cannot do this, they are literally ignorant and the ignorant cannot guard anything. SO, BY WHAT METHOD DOES ANY ATHEIST CLAIM TO RATIONALLY KNOW TRUTH FROM FICTION?

Answering this question is the sole purpose for this debate. I have even put it in capital letters for those to dense to get it. If you are unable or unwilling to answer this question, do not respond to this debate. Likewise, if you do not believe in reality, believe you make it up or deny it is objective or knowable, or if you do not know how to rationally know truth from fiction, do not respond to this debate. If you are terrified of cross-examination or madly in love with red herrings, do not respond to this debate. If you have responded before, do not respond to this debate. After all, if you had nothing rational to say then, you will having nothing rational to say now.

If all you have is “science”, do not respond to this debate, for science relies on the your senses and reason, which begs the question of how you know your senses and reason are valid. Perhaps you can tell me, which is fine, but if the way you validate you senses and reason is with your senses and reason, you lose the debate because that is circular reasoning and circular reasoning is not rational.

if you respond in violation of these rules, you automatically lose the debate.

This is what I mean by stacking the deck. ViceRegent doesn’t want the scientific explanation – he wants to turn to metaphysics, and is therefore trying to squeeze the debate down a specific direction.

I’ve also highlighted what I consider to be a verrrry interesting sentence. As the discussion wears on, we shall see why I noted it.

I’ll bite on this one. Your question is how atheists know truth from fiction – firstly, I would seek clarification here – when you refer to ‘truth’, in what context do you apply the term? Is it in the sense of ‘fact from fiction’, in respect of our existence and the world around us? And what is the counter-point to this? Are you addressing your side of this debate from a religious perspective?

Your opening argument tells people to not use science, as science is based on senses. What would you use to judge the world around us, other than our senses? Observation of the world we live in has been central to our progress throughout human history. If not for applying principles of observation and deduction, how would we have ever developed the wheel, much less anything else?

How do I know my senses are valid? I know my sense of touch is valid by the simple observation that if I touch a flame, it burns and hurts. I know my sense of hearing is valid because I can hear my daughter singing, even though she’s supposed to be asleep.

The manner in which you have set up your question is deliberately designed to remove the most straight-forward and best means of addressing it. I would have to ask why? What would you replace observation and study with, when determining what is fact and what is fiction about our universe?

This dude is confused. He pretends he does not understand my question, but answers it anyway, proving anything are delusional.

He then says he knows his senses are valid because they provide him valid sensory input. Really? Man, I love the smell of cognitive dissonance and question begging in the morning. Dude, how do you know that what you perceive as a candle that burns is not really your daughter singing? And try not to argue irrationally this time.

I’m not really sure how questioning his false dilemma is being irrational, but sadly this appears to be the route ViceRegent wishes to take. His use of ad hominems isn’t exactly adding to his argument either.

With all due respect, from the increase in the rhetoric (which was also present in your first post), I have to draw into question why you posed this question, in the manner you did. You failed to address my point about what you would replace study and observation with, and failed to explain why you need to remove this principle from the equation.

It seems to me you need to remove science from the equation because you are arguing (however subtly) that the key reason we perceive anything is because God or a deity of some description is the driving force behind how we separate fact from fiction. This is why you are keen to remove anything that can threaten this notion – and why you are attempting to reject argument framed from a scientific perspective. You cannot argue against principles such as nerve impulses firing signals to our brains that tell us we have heard a sound or experienced a physical sensation, so you seek to remove them from the discussion entirely.

That is intellectually dishonest. You are trying to stack the deck so you can get only one possible answer.

How do I separate the fact that 1+1 = 2 from the fiction that 1+1 = 3? Because we have built complex machines from such facts, and if they were in fact, not true and not demonstrable, these machines should cease to function. They are built upon our observed understanding of the universe, and this is not fiction, otherwise we not be able to use this understanding to help us create things like microwave ovens and computers.

I wonder if you will now attempt to address my rebuttal, or will you ramp up your rhetoric again?

This fool continues to beg the question. He continues to say his senses are valid because of what his senses perceive. I will ask him one more time: how does he know that the candle that he perceives to burn his fingers is not really his daughter singing? I will put this more simply with the hope he will get it this time: the world is full of delusional people. How does he know he is not one of them.

Nothing here but more insults and a further attempt to justify why he needs to remove science in order to make his point. He cannot form this question without taking science out of the equation, because he knows it invalidates his (poorly defined) position.

From your increasing hostility I have to call into question whether you want a rational discussion, or merely a platform from which to spout anti-scientific propaganda. I will ask YOU once again – why do you feel the need to remove science from the equation? Why are you afraid of rational explanations for why we experience the world in the fashion that we do?

How do I know when I have burned myself? Because the nerve endings in my finger process the sensation and send it to my brain. What alternative suggestion do you have for how I know I’ve burned myself? What is YOUR answer to the question? Or will you continue to fail to address the arguments presented, in favour of your bizarre insistence that we cannot use logic and observation to reach conclusions?

Now he has run from the Q I actually asked substituting it for one I did not. Amazingly, what this fool does not get is that I am denying he has any way of knowing he has burned himself given his worldview. He proves this by not even understanding what I am asking him let alone having an answer. He loses the debate.

Your declaration of victory is premature. 

Your question is dishonest. Since you cannot argue against scientific means of measurement you seek to remove them entirely. You have asked this question multiple times within the past few days or so, and I suspect you will get similar answers. They won’t be the answers you’re looking for, but that’s because won’t play your game.

Let me ask you – how YOU know you have burned yourself? Because God told you? Are you capable of answering your own question in a logical fashion, or would you shirk from this, using insults to cover the weakness in your position? 

This debate, and some additional thoughts, can be viewed here, if anyone wants to take a look. 

So there you have the complete article, as it were. I invite readers to make up their own minds. 

That’s me, struggling to comprehend the behaviour toward an old school friend of mine, for daring to speak out against the frankly disgusting trend of tagging people in certain pictures on Facebook recently. 

The people in these pictures are real human beings, who would probably be hurt and offended by the manner in which their pictures are being used. It’s a cruel practice and I applaud my school friend for speaking out against it. She has copped abusive messages and posts on Facebook for having the courage to take a stand against this hurtful fad, and to the lowlife idiots who are behaving in this manner… I bet you’d run and hide if your pictures were being used in this manner. 

Recently I’ve been indulging in a couple of old games that I still consider to be among the best I’ve ever played, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Mario World, both originally released on the Super Nintendo (or SNES). I’ve actually been playing these games on the Wii’s Virtual Console, using the classic controller, and whilst both games are playable, I just can’t help but feel the controls are off somehow. The controllers on my SNES no longer work (yes, I still have my SNES, and the console itself still works fine, not bad for a machine made back in 1991), so the other day I popped into a local games exchange shop to see if they had any controllers.

The young lad I spoke to didn’t know what I meant when I asked about SNES controllers.

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I mean, I know I’m not exactly a youngster, but I don’t consider myself old, so this was a kick in the teeth. Has one of the key iconic symbols of my youth now grown to be so old as to be unknown to the young men of today?! It would appear so.

Thankfully a friend of mine (who actually blogs about technology) has pointed me in the right direction to find SNES controllers. I am eagerly looking forward to plugging in some classic games and unleashing the child within!


It’s five o’clock. On Saturdays, this is when my colleagues and I finish work. It is not therefore the ideal moment to wander into the shop. You’ve had all day, yet you’ve chosen the latest point possible. 

And in an age where finding out opening hours is a click of a mouse away (not to mention the option of making a phone call) ignorance is not an excuse. Save your muttering for people who can tolerate your lack of timing – we have families we might actually want to get home to on a Saturday. 

By now you’ll be aware that my subconscious is a mysterious place, and not even I pretend to know the murky depths of it. I got another dose of that the other night, with a dream that can only be described as odd.

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Really Ben, the best description you have is ‘odd’?

Quiet meerkat. Hush. So anyway, I dreamt I was walking home – from school, except I was an adult. It’s a route that is familiar to me from my school days – I walked home, to my parents’ house, let myself in, and found myself home alone. No big deal. After pottering around the house I went to bed, only to be woken up by a loud knock at the door. What sight greeted me? The police.

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Ha, your criminal past caught up with you!

I only ate one biscuit without her knowing. So anyway, there were four officers (yes, four), who had come to arrest me – for reasons they wouldn’t disclose. I didn’t want to cause a scene (even though I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be told why you’re being arrested), so I left with them. I recall getting into the police car, then waking up.

What was that all about?

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After this latest round of my little F1 career, I’m starting to sympathise a little more with Lewis Hamilton, given the mechanical problems he’s had in 2016. A race which was looking to be a routine victory… well, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

The Nurbergring is the 2009 German Grand Prix venue, and this track, which holds a lot of history, is one that is quite quick and quite enjoyable. Turn 1 is a sharp, tight right hairpin that I would frequently run wide around, but thankfully, without too much cost to my lap times. Turns 5 and 6 feel quite satisfying, as is the superfast Schumacher S (turns 8 and 9). The Ss in fact provide a challenge, for if you clip the kerb on turn 9 as you come up the hill, you can easily bounce yourself clean off the track.

The chicane that is turns 13 and 14 is probably the scariest section of track, coming at the end of a very fast run, and it’s all too easy to overshoot the corner. Once again there are high kerbs, so once again, you have to judge the turn right, or you’ll bounce.

In practice I was marginally quicker than everyone else, but in both Q1 and Q2 I wasn’t the quickest – fast enough to get into Q3, but I wondered if I would be in for a close race. Instead, Q3 saw me easily take pole by nearly a second from the next man down the order, Jensen Button. He would get the jump on me at the start of the race, and we would bump wheels throughout the first lap as we fought for supremacy, which ended with me trying to get around him on the outside of turn 13, and subsequently nudging him off the track, an act that I drew a drive-through penalty for. In my view, this was a bit harsh, as he’d been squeezing me wide earlier in the lap, but there’s nothing I could do about it, so I set about putting in one extra lap before having to take the penalty, which resulted in me actually holding onto the lead, albeit receiving a caution when I rejoined with the Red Bulls right beside me into turn 1. They left me no room, so a collision was inevitable, but I got away with it.

After that, I controlled the race. I was cruising, and had not long taken my second stop when I started to lap backmarkers. This is where my race would come to an early end.

Someone – I’m not sure who but it might have been one of the Force Indias – didn’t give me enough room through the Ss to get by without running offline – I clipped the kerb and my car bounced hard. Suddenly, my engine wasn’t working properly. I pulled into the pits to see if they could solve the issue, but to no avail. I couldn’t retire (the game doesn’t let you), so I got myself disqualified to bring the race to an end. The result of this is that I am now 17 points behind Mark Webber, having so far raced 9, won 5, DNF 4. The title at this stage, is looking unlikely.

I need to reword the title – it’s not really a celebrity fight, but you know what I mean…

So, in the blue (or should that be red white and blue?) corner, we have Steve Rodgers, aka Captain America, as per his appearances in the MCU.

 


In the red corner, we have Khan Singh, as per his appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness.

 

Both are superhuman, possessing strength and endurance well beyond normal means. In a fight to the death, who walks away alive?

Rodgers has demonstrated several remarkable feats since he appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger. Aside from the obvious displays of speed and strength, he has literally thrown a motorbike with enough force to dent a jeep, prevented a helicopter from flying away by using his bare hands, and whilst he wasn’t exactly beating Loki in hand-to-hand combat, he wasn’t going down easily. Rodgers’ fights against Hydra goons showed him to be way out of their league, dispatching them like they were ragdolls. He also went into hand-to-hand combat against Tony Stark’s Iron Man and, whilst he would have lost if not for Bucky’s interference, he held his own.

Rodgers is also very accurate with his shield – a lethal weapon in his hands.

Khan’s performances are in many respects similar. His accuracy with guns in the fight scene against the Klingons was astonishing, especially given a number of the shots were fired one-handed. He stood there and took several punches from Kirk without so much as a second thought, and would have killed Spock (impressive, given Vulcans are said to have three times the strength of humans) had Uhura not intervened.

So in many respects, they are actually similar in strength, which makes this a close-run fight. If Cap has his shield (and he rarely doesn’t have it), then he has a ranged weapon and a close-range weapon, that could do a lot of damage. However, the key difference between the two is their ruthlessness, and believe it or not, Rodgers is more ruthless in many respects, which is why he wins this one for me.

Khan could have killed Spock by simply throwing him off the aerial platforms they were fighting on. Instead, he toyed with him, and as such, gave away the initiative. Rodgers is more inclined to end a fight quickly, which gives him the advantage. That said, if they were placed into an environment like say, a boxing match, it would be too close to call.