Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lesbian Robots and Future Morality

If you're interested, here is a music video for the song All Is Full of Love by Bjork.

[Video: All is full of love, Bjork]

It might be a teeny bit NSFW as it contains "Lesbian Robots", as one person put it, but since they are only seen kissing then it's largely safe viewing in most contexts.

Because of where my head is at the moment, when I saw this it suddenly made me think about human behaviours, dispositions and intuitions, and moral behaviour in light of that.

Why?

Well, why would robots kiss at all? It serves no function, no purpose, in the life of a robot. In fact, presumably a "Lesbian Robot" doesn't really "love" the other robot that it is mechanically entwined with. All of it is an empty shell, replicating the behaviours of the ones who were (indirectly/originally) their creators.

I can imagine that such an automated factory could go on producing robots long after the human race had died out. Would they continue to love and continue to kiss? Would they make more robots in kind with themselves, who in turn keep repeating scores of pointless rituals that echo some long dead, human meaning?

How much of our behaviours are also echoes of our past? How much of our current disposition and our intuitions are shaped by archaic biological and social forces no longer relevant to our modern lives?

How, then, does our resulting moral tendencies and opinions reflect the best correspondence with reality as it can be optimally reached (and how much of it is harmful or confounding echoes)?

Being 'objective' is the golden child in moral discourse, it seems. Surely a truly objective morality would reach beyond our primal proclivities and emotions. Surely a truly objective morality wouldn't look very human at all beyond the necessary attachment to us as moral actors.

I wonder then, what would a transhumanist (post-human) morality look like?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Robot Pirates

Yo ho ho and a bottle of RAM!

Presenting: Robot Pirates, an excellent and very random flash from Newgrounds.



If the video doesn't load you can view it here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Arrogance or integrity?

I hate it when people claim that others are being intellectually arrogant.

This is because it's usually merely the retort of a person who can't defend an idea they believe and have to resort to feeble insults to shore up their defenses.

If wanting good reasons for thinking something makes me "elitist" then so be it.

If putting forward my own ideas in a reasoned argument makes me "arrogant" then I'll own it.

If wanting clear evidence for my significant beliefs about reality makes me "narrow minded" or "skeptical" then I'm very happy to be so.

However, none of the three labels above are actually correct, fair, or reasonable.

My suggestion to others? Don't take yourself too seriously, don't be afraid to say "I don't know", and become your own worst critic. Everything else will come out in the wash.

Here are some quotes from some of history's "narrow-minded":

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." ~ Albert Einstein.

"Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ~ Bertrand Russell.

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education." ~ Wilson Mizner.

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense." ~ Carl Sagan.

"Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong." ~ Thomas Jefferson.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dub FX, street beatboxer

Hat-tip Eyebrows (twitter: @eyebrows360)

Wow.

This guy is just incredible.

[Video: 'Dub FX' performing his song Made]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Did Paul invent Christianity?

My new flat and I have a custom in which we discuss a book chapter, article, or some other reading on a monday night. This coming monday we will be discussing the article, "Did Paul Invent Christianity?", written by historian, Paul Barnett, in The Briefing (an evangelical Christian magazine). (The link goes to a website comment about the article, not the article itself.)

I'm going to be fairly blunt about my opinions of the article, as I think it is fairly poorly written and contains too many errors and assertions with not enough supporting evidence. It would not be fair to put all of my comments on it here as you, my blog readers, don't have access to the article to compare against. However, before I sat down to read the article I penned some initial thoughts on the question and I would appreciate any comments...

Did Paul invent Christianity?


Did Paul wholly invent Christianity?

Trivially, no. If we assume that Paul wrote all of the Epistles, you might roughly summarise the New Testament as comprising: the gospels, Acts, the pauline epistles, general epistles, and revelation. Each of these have distinct writers. We see that, prima facie, the strong claim that Paul “invented” Christianity is trivially wrong.


Is there any extra-biblical confirmation for the details of the life of Paul?

No. Paul’s own account of his background is in Galatians (a book that some believe was written and/or altered by Marcion or Marcionites), the book of Acts, with a primary source being his seven epistles.


Is the theology and Christology of Paul different to the Gospels?

Yes. If you had the Gospels alone you wouldn’t derive the message of the Epistles. Also, Paul never directly quotes Jesus nor does he tell any synoptic stories.


Did Paul have theological disagreements with other early Church founders?

Yes, such as Peter. As in Acts, they disagreed over what it meant to be a Christian.


Is Pauline Christianity different to any other early forms of Christianity?

Yes. There were many groups in the early church; among others, there was the (i) “Proto-orthodox” Paulinist Catholic Church, (ii) Petrine Christianity which was in the process of hellenising, (iii) the Ebionites rejected the virgin birth and the pre-existence of Jesus and stressed the humanity of Jesus and the essential oneness of God, (iv) the Docetists believed that Jesus was a heavenly being, (v) the Montanists practiced speaking in tongues, (vi) Marcionites appointed women as bishops and priests, (vii) Carpocratians enjoyed good food and wine and taught that Jesus had a normal parentage. Obviously, modern day orthodoxy says that some of those groups were not truly Christian at all, but this is really begging the question when we are critically discussing the actual foundation of the church and church doctrine itself.


Is the theology and Christology of Paul the same as the orthodox Creeds?

Yes, by a creedal interpretation of the Epistles (ironically/circularly), the Epistles and the creeds affirm the same thing about Christianity. However, the creeds and the creedal interpretation of the Epistles were affirmed afterwards meaning that their synchronicity tells us nothing about the original orthodoxy of the Epistles.


So, did Paul “invent Christianity?”

As mentioned earlier, we see that we have prima facie reasons to think that the strong claim that Paul “invented” Christianity is trivially wrong. However, this doesn’t disprove the more nuanced claim that Paul may have been the latest and greatest influence on the theology of the final New Testament canon. In fact, unless the Pauline epistles are redundant, Paul must provide an influence on NT theology. To explain this point:

(1) Imagine sorting and summarising all of the propositions taught by and about Jesus in the gospels.

(2) Now, imagine sorting and summarising all of the propositions mentioned in the Pauline epistles.

Are those two lists the same? No. In fact, there are a great many propositions in the Gospel list that don’t make it into Paul’s, and there are also plenty of additional propositions in Paul’s list. This means, by definition, that Paul introduced new ideas into the New Testament above and beyond the teachings of Jesus. If this weren’t true then we wouldn’t need the Pauline Epistles at all.

Of course, if you view the final biblical canon as an inspired whole then this isn’t a problem, but this only means that one cannot deny the role that Paul played in shaping the final theology of the New Testament. So did Paul invent Christianity? Not as such, but he was a significant architect.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gospel of Weakness

Some say that the gospel is a "gospel of weakness".

Some say that God's power is made perfect in our weakness.

Some say that God works among the poor, the downtrodden, and the vulnerable.

Some say that God resists the proud.

Some say that the gospel is foolishness to the wise.

And so I wonder.

How do we tell the difference between (i) a God who reveals himself to the wounded and (ii) a opportunistic lie that exploits the physically, financially, and emotionally vulnerable more easily?

I'm not making any accusations, but I think that I am asking a very important question that all Christians need to answer. In the same way that a hidden God looks amazingly close to a non-existent God, one needs to be able to distinguish between a social predator (or 'psychic vampire', as some might say) and a God with a heart for the weak.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Is Brian Tamaki being scammed?

So I went to Big-News and read that Brian Tamaki thinks he is the physical manifestation of God.

See the proof here.

But wait a minute, I thought, the Destiny Church website is blue and not red.

Actually, that picture was taken from http://www.briantamaki.org.nz and not from the Destiny Church website, http://www.destinychurch.org.nz

So is our beloved Bishop being scammed?

A quick WHOIS lookup may help solve this problem.

The WHOIS for DestinyChurch.org.nz is as follows:

registrant_contact_name: DESTINY CHURCHES INTERNATIONAL
registrant_contact_address1: 18 Allright Place
registrant_contact_address2: Mt Wellington
registrant_contact_city: Auckland
registrant_contact_postalcode: 1006
registrant_contact_country: NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
registrant_contact_phone: +64 9 5707150
registrant_contact_fax: +64 9 5707149
registrant_contact_email: rg@destinychurch.org.nz

And when we check the WHOIS for BrianTamaki.org.nz what do we get?

registrant_contact_name: Destiny Church
regi
strant_contact_address1: 18 Allright Place
registrant_contact_address2: Mt Wellington
registrant_contact_city: Auckland
registrant_contact_country: NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
registrant_contact_phone: +64 9 5707150

Same address, same telephone number, slightly different 'corporation name.

But wait... what is the email address I see here?

registrant_contact_email: kingbriantamaki@gmail.com
LOL... King Brian Tamaki?

Yep. That's our Bishop.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Incredible music of 2009

I've been looking at DJ midi controller decks and other musically interesting things recently and I came across an amazing video. This is very clever mashup by one extremely talented DJ Earworm.

It is a mashup of 25 of the top songs from 2009.


DJ Earworm is a genius.

Enjoy.

Songlist:

  • The Black Eyed Peas - BOOM BOOM POW
  • Lady Gaga - POKER FACE
  • Lady Gaga Featuring Colby O’Donis - JUST DANCE
  • The Black Eyed Peas - I GOTTA FEELING
  • Taylor Swift - LOVE STORY
  • Flo Rida - RIGHT ROUND
  • Jason Mraz - I’M YOURS
  • Beyonce - SINGLE LADIES (PUT A RING ON IT)
  • Kanye West - HEARTLESS
  • The All-American Rejects - GIVES YOU HELL
  • Taylor Swift - YOU BELONG WITH ME
  • T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake - DEAD AND GONE
  • The Fray - YOU FOUND ME
  • Kings Of Leon - USE SOMEBODY
  • Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo - KNOCK YOU DOWN
  • Jamie Foxx Featuring T-Pain - BLAME IT
  • Pitbull - I KNOW YOU WANT ME (CALLE OCHO)
  • T.I. Featuring Rihanna - LIVE YOUR LIFE
  • Soulja Boy Tell ‘em Featuring Sammie - KISS ME THRU THE PHONE
  • Jay Sean Featuring Lil Wayne - DOWN
  • Miley Cyrus - THE CLIMB
  • Drake - BEST I EVER HAD
  • Kelly Clarkson - MY LIFE WOULD SUCK WITHOUT YOU
  • Beyonce - HALO
  • Katy Perry - HOT N COLD