Blog post frequency update for regular readers

I’ve been posting almost daily since mid December and I’ve had a blast doing it, but alas, I can feel the winds of change blowing.

I have a couple of new projects that are starting to take up a bit more of my time, so I’m going to dial back the frequency of my posts here.

First, for those who enjoy my writing, I’m trying my hand at fiction. I’ve been writing a piece of fantasy fiction to be more specific, inspired by one my homegrown Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. As of now, it’s shaping up as a short story but could turn into a novella depending on where the adventure ends up going.

D&D material is copyright protected by Wizards of the Coast, the company who owns all things Dungeons and Dragons, but they have a pretty cool licensing construct that allows folks to create and then publish content on their approved site at the Dungeon Masters Guild. Publishing here ensures Wizards of the Coast gets a cut as well as the content creators. So, stay tuned. I’ll let you all know when it’s out there.

Second, I have another graduate school class starting up next month called Developing Value Through Business Analytics Applications, which will of course take up quite a bit of time.

Given those two projects, along with the current Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I run, the future podcasts I’m scheduling, the book signings I’m putting together for spring, and the public speeches I’m working on, I’m going to shoot for one post a week, rather than one post per day, and see how that goes.

As always, thanks for following and in the words of the immortal Bartles and Jaymes, thank you for your support.

R.L.

 

The cosmological argument for the existence of gods finally emerges

A few days I wrote about my conversation with Mike, who had started down the road of committing the argument from ignorance fallacy by suggesting something can be true, just because it has never been proven not to be true.

That’s a tricky tactic and it’s tough to argue against precisely because it’s built on fallacious reasoning. It has taken some time, but we have finally arrived at an affirmative claim, which is a more intellectually honest starting point. That’s not to say that Mike was being purposefully deceptive here. He likely thought he had a sound starting position. I’ve been doing this for quite a while, so I suspected there was a god belief underpinning his approach somewhere, and sure enough it has finally emerged.

Mike said:

“The only arguments for naturalism are arguments against theism.”

And went on to suggest that:

“…the Cosmological Argument is an argument for the existence of God and Premise 2 of the argument is supported by multiple lines of evidence.”

He then went on to explain how in his opinion, the evidence for Big Bang cosmology, is actually evidence for the Cosmological argument for the existence of a god.

Good old William Lane Craig and the Kalam Cosmological argument. I’ve also written about that argument here when I talked about Bill the Creationist Engineer. But in this case, I’m using Street Epistemology, so rather than try point out the deficiencies in the argument itself, and there are many, I told Mike the following:

“…And just an observation here, but it’s also really interesting that you bring up Big Bang cosmology as evidence for the existence of a supernatural being. I know of a Hindu guy who has latched on to some of William Lane Craig’s arguments, especially his revival of the Kalam Cosmological argument, but rather than use it as an argument for the existence of the Hebrew god, he says it proves the existence of Purusha. Which makes me wonder, how reliable is an argument if it can be used to “prove” the existence of two mutually exclusive things?”

I’ll be sure to let you know if that last statement placed a pebble in his shoe.

 

Introducing Dungeons and Dragons Fridays

Drinks and Dragons CoverSince Friday’s are shaping up to be Dungeons and Dragons post days, I may as well spend some time sharing some of my D&D lessons learned with you. I have a YouTube channel where I put some D&D tutorials and general commentary, but I haven’t posted anything to it in over a year. It’s still out there if anyone is interested in watching me be a complete goofball.

That said, I’d like to turn this Friday post into a recurring D&D Q&A deal, so if anyone has any questions they’d like for me to tackle or subjects they’d like for me to discuss, send them along – either in the comments section or by using the contact form on the blog.

I’m still relatively new to D&D5e, but each session brings something new both as a player and a Dungeon Master. I DMd the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set starting in 2016 and that campaign lasted about 6 months. I’m currently DMing my first homegrown campaign and we’ve been going strong since early December and I expect it to stretch into March. I’ve also created and DMd several one-shots along the way as well.

So, let me know what questions you have! Some topics might be, just based on my own experiences so far:

  • How to handle difficult players
  • The different types of playing styles
  • How to create a balanced and fun encounter
  • Understanding Challenge Ratings
  • Creating sessions without combat
  • How to DM combat
  • How to play in a combat encounter
  • How to create a fun one-shot

Those are just a few potential topics off the top of my head, but I’ll let the gamers who read this blog, point me where they want me to go.

Happy gaming!

Careful with the Argument from Ignorance

I’m in a group that encourages honest, respectful conversations about what people believe to be true and why.

My latest conversation, with Mike, is providing a great lesson in what is called the argumentum ad ignorantiam or argument from ignorance fallacy. It relies on there being a lack of contrary evidence.

The fallacy basically goes something like this: something must be true if it has never been proven false.

Mike started the conversation by saying:

I believe that philosophical naturalism is false.

This should already raise a couple of flags.

One is this phrase, “philosophical naturalism.” So first I got clarification from Mike on what he meant by that. His answer was that for him, philosophical naturalism is the belief that the natural world is all there is.

Second, he is saying that he has a belief that another belief is false. We’re already getting into “negative” territory. After some prodding, I suggested that we should be talking about his belief that the supernatural world exists, rather than his issue with the claim that the natural world is all there is. But he was a bit unwilling to commit to an affirmative claim here so after a bit of back and forth, I’ve left him with this comment:

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I’m still not entirely sure about your process for arriving at the belief that naturalism is false. I don’t want to put words in your mouth here, but let me try to rephrase where we are at, and you let me know if I’ve got it right.

1. You have a belief that the “belief that the natural world is all there is,” isn’t true.
2. That language is a bit convoluted, since we’re not really talking about something you believe to be true, but rather, something you disbelieve.
3. So let me rephrase a bit. You disbelieve the natural world is all there is, because no one has ever proven that the natural world is all there is.
4. Which is another way of saying you believe that the supernatural world must exist. And since the supernatural world has never been proven not to exist, you believe that naturalism can’t be true.

I’ve never been a big fan of saying something is true, because it has never been proven false. I like to say that something is true, because we have good reasons to believe it to be true. Conversely, I like to say that one explanation is likely false, because we have good reasons to be believe that another explanation is true.

So I think we can go one of two ways here:
a) Using Street Epistemology, you can try convincing me that my belief that the natural world is all there is, might not be based on good methods or
b) Using Street Epistemology, I can try convincing you that your belief that the supernatural exists, might not be based on good methods.

Does that sound reasonable?

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That’s where we are at the moment. So stay tuned.

The FFRF and the Separation of Church and State

The Freedom From Religion Foundation catches a lot of flack from religious people. No surprise there. Given their name, they sort of describe their mission right from the word go.

Stephen was one of those who the FFRF had offended. He was incensed that the First Amendment advocacy group had taken up the cause of a person who was experiencing some type of religious overreach. Rather than sympathize with this person, Stephen felt the FFRF was instead, promoting an “atheist” religion by means of some kind of atheist inquisition. He also was convinced that the USA is a “JudeoChristian” nation, therefore Christianity should be allowed some measure of overreach.

You’ve probably heard these claims before. Today’s post is my response to Stephen:

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Dear Stephen, I can tell you are frustrated, but I think if you take a step back, you might recognize that all is not lost.

First, there is no such thing as the “atheist religion.” That’s a contradiction in terms. “A-theism” (I use the dash to highlight the two parts of the word) is simply the state of not believing the god claims of all the other religions. It’s basically the exact opposite of claiming that a particular god is real.

Second, the United States is a secular nation, not a Judeo-Christian nation. It is true however, that the US has hundreds of millions of religious people in it. It’s important to distinguish between the law and the majority. Our secularism protects your beliefs about your god as much as it does a Hindu’s beliefs about her gods, a Jew’s beliefs about her god, a Muslim’s belief about her god, and so on, as well as protecting an atheist’s right to not have any of those god beliefs foisted upon her, or anyone else for that matter, by the state.

Finally, our nation is intended to be an open marketplace of ideas and the actual Inquisition, in which Christianity was mandated by the authorities under threat of death and torture, is thankfully long gone. We live in a time when the expression of ideas is protected. And just think, without exposure to other ideas, how would you know if you were wrong? So by defending the First Amendment, the FFRF is protecting all of us, including you.

Progress, Stephen, is a good thing.