Archive for October, 2014

October 31, 2014

The cultural scene

by Neil Rickert

A few posts worth reading:

Some choice quotes:

In evangelical home schools by the millions science is treated as toxic. Meanwhile in the secular public schools education has been mugged by corporate utilitarianism.


If the British had reacted to Hitler’s bombing of London the way we overacted to 9/11 the entire city of London would be one vast memorial…

You can count me as siding with Kaci Hickox on this.

I’m not sure that I agree with Coyne’s diagnosis, though I agree that there is a decline.

I frequently receive email from the NY Times, asking me to subscribe.  But I probably read less than one article per day, on average, so I’m not inclined to answer their ads.  I get much of my news from NPR, and I do contribute to my local NPR station.  If the NY Times, the Washington Post and several other newspapers could get together in a consortium, and offer a subscription that would give on-line browsing access to all of those papers, I might sign up for that.  I won’t subscribe to the NY Times only, because I don’t like the idea of a single source.

October 30, 2014

Please vote on Tuesday Nov 4th

by Neil Rickert

If you are a registered voter in the USA, then please vote on Tuesday.

I won’t tell you how to vote.  I suggest you study the candidates and decide that for yourself.  But I will tell you how I plan to vote for the most important positions.

For Illinois governor, my vote will be for Patrick Quinn.  I don’t actually like Quinn, so this is more a case of voting against his Republican opponent (Bruce Rauner).

For US Senate, I’ll be voting for Dick Durbin.  In my opinion, he has been a pretty good senator.  His opponent, Jim Oberweis, should have stayed out of politics — he isn’t very good at it.

For congress, I’ll probably vote for the Democrat, but it will be a wasted vote.  The 14th congressional district is a safe Republican seat.  I hate that.  I hated it just as much at a previous residence, where I was in a safe Democrat seat.  Competitive elections are better.

And then there’s a bunch of other positions.  Our ballot is too long.

We need better candidates

Yes, the choice of candidates is often poor.  But vote anyway.  If you don’t vote, then the politicians will take you for granted, and things won’t get better.

October 26, 2014

Dembski’s “Being as Communion” — a review

by Neil Rickert

I’ve had a copy of Dembski’s new book for a little more than a week.  That has been enough time for me to read it in preparation for this review.

The title itself is strange, at least to me.  It is a title that suggests that this is a book on religion.  It isn’t, though it does not completely avoid religious ideas.  The more complete title is “Being as Communion; A Metaphysics of Information.”  And that suggests that it is a book about information.  To some extent it is, though it also comes across as a diatribe against materialist metaphysics.

Dembski begins this book with:

What does the world look like if the fundamental stuff of reality is not matter but information?  That is the question animating this book.  We live in an information age.  Yet we also live in an overwhelmingly materialist age in which the things that seem to us most solid and inspire the most confidence are material.  Information itself therefore tends to be conceived in material terms, as a property of matter.  But what if information cannot be reduced to matter?  To turn the tables even more sharply, what if matter itself is an expression of information?

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October 19, 2014

Physicalism, materialism and all that

by Neil Rickert

I have previously posted about why I am not a materialist.  In this post I’ll say a little more on that topic.  This clarification is partly related to my current reading of Dembski’s new book.  Dembski seems to think that materialists are missing something important.  He says, parenthetically, “intelligent design being, frankly, incredible within the materialistic metaphysics that dominates so much of contemporary intellectual life.”  Given that I am not a materialist, it must be something else that leaves me unpersuaded by Dembski’s argument.  However, I presume that Dembski will conclude that I am a materialist in spite of my denial.

For starters, here are two relevant posts by John Wilkins:

John does seem to consider himself a physicalist.

October 17, 2014

I’ve been neglecting this blog

by Neil Rickert

It’s been a little over a month since my last post.  I took a few days of travel, but never got back to posting on my return.

Mostly, I have been engaged in similar philosophical discussions at The Skeptical Zone, where I continue to see people look at things with a “God’s eye view” philosophy that cannot work (in my opinion).

Now reading

I am currently reading Dembski’s new book “Being as Communion” and will probably post on that when I have finished.  I won’t say that the book is disappointing, because I started with low expectations.

In the meantime, I’ll try to get back to posting around once per week.