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Archive for the month “May, 2017”

Is Belief in God Like Belief in Santa, Leprechauns, or Fairies? A Reflection

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one on Brian Nicholson’s Blog which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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No.

Can you imagine if I had left it at that? A one-word post on WordPress. Brother, I’d get comments “for dayz.” I’d also probably get some pretty strong retorts.

When it comes to topics related to the origins of the universe, many have come to conclude that there is Someone behind it all. In this post, I will compare belief in God to Santa Claus, fairies, and leprechauns, hoping to illuminate that the existence of a Creator is something far more worthy of conversation than these characters. The goal isn’t to prove that God exists. For that, see my equation below:

Just kidding.

The objective is to critically compare these characters of fantasy and folklore, and see if they bare any resemblance to the existence of a deity. So, let’s get this party started! Jeeves, turn on my mix-tape…

If you believe in God without evidence, then I can assert that leprechauns and Santa exist without evidence.Various YouTube Commenters Since Pre-Extinction of the Dodo Bird

The problem here, of course, are we having good reason to think those things don’t exist, and not comparably having good reasons to think God does not. It’s not simply that we don’t have evidence for Santa, but we have positive reasons to think Santa does not exist. We know there’s no workshop at the North Pole, there aren’t Santa sightings around the holiday season, and the milk and cookies are obviously eaten by the parents… I mean, come on, do your kids really expect that Santa ALSO went gluten-free around the same time you did?

Negative Claims

But, we can’t prove that things don’t exist, right? There are definitely examples where we can prove negative statements. For example, we know Leonardo DaVinci is no longer alive. We know George Bush isn’t the President anymore. We can certainly prove these negative claims. Even if we couldn’t prove that God does not exist, which I don’t believe is the case; this certainly doesn’t mean that He does. It just means making a claim about His non-existence is also making a knowledge claim, that of which requires justification. So at the very least, one should be agnostic.

Another problem with drawing these false analogies is that God, if He exists, is beyond the natural, or is supernatural. That’s why we can’t observe Him in nature or put Him in a test tube. But moral values and mathematics are also not observable in nature, in yet we see their effects all the same. Things like leprechauns, if they existed, would be a part of the natural world, and would certainly be making their appearance known if they wanted to. So, just because God cannot be tested scientifically does not mean it’s worthless to talk about His existence. To stubbornly assert science as the only route to truth is self-refuting, because:

Can the statement, “you should only believe what can be scientifically proven,” itself be scientifically proven?

Here we see that there are other methods of discerning truth that are valid, as science is. For example, we all accept moral truths as real, but we can’t prove that those exist by scientific means. Mathematical truths and logic are valid ways of discerning truth, but these are beyond the realm of scientific inquiry as well.

On the contrary, leprechauns, Santa, and fairies are all purportedly within our spatial-temporal realm, frolicking with Chips Ahoy!, delivering presents, stealing your credit card, and forever trying to increase the value of ye olde pot of gold with Rosland Capital. Someone might say, “what if we simply define Santa or Paul Bunyun as existing outside the universe?” Well, at that point we really cease to be talking about Santa or Mr. Bunyun at all. If we make Santa an immaterial, all-powerful mind existing outside our universe, it really becomes just another name for God. This is much like the debate Dr. William Lane Craig had with Dr. Lewis Wolpert, where Wolpert said, “I think a computer did it!” (talking about creating the universe). But a computer is a device comprised of matter, and needs time to operate, so if we just rob it of all the attributes that make it a computer and just define it a space-less and timeless computer, we are really just re-naming God.

In the case of a Creator, we aren’t peering into telescopes looking for some bearded man resembling the renaissance images of God The Father. We are looking for the effects of God… things like, say, the existence of a finite universe, the remarkable fine-tuning of the universe for things like stars, chemistry, and us. We may also consider the potential reliability of miracle claims, such as the resurrection of Jesus- something that has raised many an eyebrow for a long time. Even the skeptic scholar Paula Fredriksen admits, “they must’ve seen something,” talking about Jesus’ disciples.

For more on the fine-tuning argument, please click here https://briannicholsonblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/first-blog-post/

By contrast we do not see the effects of these mystical creatures. So we can reasonably say they don’t exist.

What’s probably the bigger issue is that God is not detectable like other things in our world are, and this is where I feel the larger disagreement stems from. Let’s take a look at the objection Carl Sagan presented in his book, “A Demon-Haunted World,” where Sagan compares God to an invisible, undetectable dragon in someone’s garage.

“Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?  If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists?”

I’m not sure who was going around saying God could decisively be found in a garage, but this point seems to be missing what I mentioned earlier. We aren’t looking for God within space and time, but signs of something from beyond the universe, signs that there may have been an Agent involved in bringing the cosmos to life. In Sagan’s case, the person should really be asking why there is a reality for a garage to exist in in the first place. That’s where at least the possibility of God comes into play. Things like the Big Bang, the fine-tuning, the logically incoherent idea of an infinite series of past events, and the surprising fact that there is something rather than nothing, are just a few reasons that we shouldn’t dismiss God’s existence a priori. This doesn’t mean He does exist, but certainly this topic that has engaged philosophers and scientists for millennia is worth discussing.

In future posts I will talk more about problems with an infinite regress and Leibniz’ Contingency Argument. But for now, I hope we can see that the existence of God certainly deserves a place at the podium.

You can find the above blog post here.

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Flight attendants sue, say they’ve been called sows, prostitutes and worse on Facebook

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “Flight attendants sue, say they’ve been called sows, prostitutes and worse on Facebook,” in The Sacramento Bee b and published on March 13, 2017, which can be found here.

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Two flight attendants, one of them based in Charlotte, have filed federal lawsuits against American Airlines over alleged sexual and gender harassment on Facebook and other social media.

They claim that American Airlines failed to enforce its policies governing social media use by employees, which forbids behavior such as using slurs and other online insults, including on the employees’ own accounts. The alleged harassment stems from online forums and Facebook groups where thousands of airline employees interact.

One of the flight attendants, Laura Medlin, is based at Charlotte, American Airlines’ second-busiest hub and a major employee base. More than 2,600 American flight attendants work from Charlotte.

The pair of lawsuits were filed in November, in federal court in Pennsylvania. The lawsuits are pending, with the plaintiffs seeking unspecified monetary damages.

American Airlines has denied the allegations and plans to defend itself, according to court filings. A spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for more information.

 Faye Riva Cohen of Philadelphia is the attorney representing Medlin. She said the issue comes down to whether American Airlines will enforce its social media policy.

“Some of the flight attendants, the females, are feeling that they (American Airlines) are not monitoring what it is taking place on social media, which is resulting in abusive-type bullying,” said Cohen.

In the lawsuit, Medlin, a flight attendant since 2000, said the online harassment started after she resigned from a union position. A group of male flight attendants based in Philadelphia started harassing her on social media, including Facebook, with insulting names such as “sow,” she maintains in the suit.

The other plaintiff, a Pennsylvania-based flight attendant named Melissa Chinery, said she became the target of harassment in 2014, when she announced that she was running for a union position. Like Medlin, Chinery said she was subjected to a harassment campaign by male flight attendants, including names such as “flipper,” a synomym for prostitute, as well as “c***,” according to the lawsuit. The suit also claims some of her confidential information was posted publicly.

Both women said they reported the harassment to American Airlines’ human resources department, which they said didn’t take appropriate steps to defend them or stop the abuse. Chinery said she was labeled a “snitch” and subject to retaliation from her coworkers, including unsubstantiated complaints against her. She eventually relocated to a crew base in another city.

“The legal system has not caught up with what is happening on social media, as far as what people can say and can’t say, what is appropriate,” said Cohen. “Our allegation is, if you have a social media policy, such as American …why are they not enforcing some of the things that their policy prohibits?”

Said Cohen: “When you have thousands of employees interacting on social media, without any controls being exercised by their employer, that can lead to issues and problems.”

United Shapes of Arithmetic: Just as Easily

Nathan Rudolph, my friend and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, has started a comic strip which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.  With his permission, I will repost them here after he posts them.  I think my readers will appreciate them as much as I do as they are rather insightful with a snarky edge.  Enjoy!

Here are the links to the previously posted strips:

Here is the latest strip:

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United Shapes of Arithmetic: Differently Vertical

Nathan Rudolph, my friend and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, has started a comic strip which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.  With his permission, I will repost them here after he posts them.  I think my readers will appreciate them as much as I do as they are rather insightful with a snarky edge.  Enjoy!

Here are the links to the previously posted strips:

Here is the latest strip:

https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/18699816_1200267426746536_4927754077890144133_n.jpg?oh=b0e28aacb98da80286cffddf72d89805&oe=59E5D011

Zoning For “Houses of Worship” Does Not Include Homeless Services Site

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“The Albany Times-Union reports that a New York state trial court judge last week overruled the Albany Board of Zoning Appeals decision that would have allowed the non-profit group Family Promise of the Capital Region to use a building in an area zoned to include “houses of worship” to provide services to homeless families.  The site– a parsonage of the Bethany Reformed Church– was used to provide daytime child care, access to computers, career and life counseling and a place to pick up mail and make phone calls.  The Board of Zoning Appeals held that the outreach services were part of Bethany’s religious mission.  However the court disagreed, saying that a “house of worship” is a place set aside for for some form of religious devotion, ritual or service showing reverence. Critics of the court’s decision say the ruling could create problems for all sorts of congregations that make their basements and meeting rooms available for social programs they deem part of their missions.  Family Promise can still apply for a zoning variance to allow it to continue its operations. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Why Sex is Making us Morally Stupid

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Mustard Seed Faith which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

Mustard Seed Faith

C.S. Lewis, writing on June 3, 1956 to a man who asked him about masturbation, offered the following striking and relevant advice:

For me the evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his…

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Flight attendants sue, say they’ve been called sows, prostitutes and worse on Facebook

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “Flight attendants sue, say they’ve been called sows, prostitutes and worse on Facebook,” in WBTV.com On Your Side on March 13, 2017 which can be found here.

You can also read it here:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Mark Price and Ely Portillo/Charlotte Observer) – Two flight attendants, one of them based in Charlotte, have filed federal lawsuits against American Airlines over alleged sexual and gender harassment on Facebook and other social media.

They claim that American Airlines failed to enforce its policies governing social media use by employees, which forbids behavior such as using slurs and other online insults, including on the employees’ own accounts. The alleged harassment stems from online forums and Facebook groups where thousands of airline employees interact.

One of the flight attendants, Laura Medlin, is based at Charlotte, American Airlines’ second-busiest hub and a major employee base. More than 2,600 American flight attendants work from Charlotte.

The pair of lawsuits were filed in November, in federal court in Pennsylvania. They’re both still pending.

American Airlines has denied the allegations and plans to defend itself, according to court filings. A spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for more information.

Faye Riva Cohen of Philadelphia is the attorney representing Medlin. She said the issue comes down to whether American Airlines will enforce its social media policy.

“Some of the flight attendants, the females, are feeling that they (American Airlines) are not monitoring what it is taking place on social media, which is resulting in abusive-type bullying,” said Cohen.

In the lawsuit, Medlin, a flight attendant since 2000, said the online harassment started after she resigned from a union position. A group of male flight attendants based in Philadelphia started harassing her on social media, including Facebook, with insulting names such as “sow,” she maintains in the suit.

The other plaintiff, a Pennsylvania-based flight attendant named Melissa Chinery, said she became the target of harassment in 2014, when she announced that she was running for a union position. Like Medlin, Chinery said she was subjected to a harassment campaign by male flight attendants, including names such as “flipper,” a synomym for prostitute, as well as “c***,” according to the lawsuit. The suit also claims some of her confidential information was posted publicly.

Both women said they reported the harassment to American Airlines’ human resources department, which they said didn’t take appropriate steps to defend them or stop the abuse. Chinery said she was labeled a “snitch” and subject to retaliation from her coworkers, including unsubstantiated complaints against her. She eventually relocated to a crew base in another city.

“The legal system has not caught up with what is happening on social media, as far as what people can say and can’t say, what is appropriate,” said Cohen. “Our allegation is, if you have a social media policy, such as American …why are they not enforcing some of the things that their policy prohibits?”

Said Cohen: “When you have thousands of employees interacting on social media, without any controls being exercised by their employer, that can lead to issues and problems.”

 

Denial of Permit For Muslim Cemetery Was Arbitrary and Capricious

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“The Farmington (MN) Independent reported yesterday on a decision last month by a Dakota County, Minnesota trial court judge holding that the Castle Rock Township board of supervisors’ decision to deny a permit for a Muslim cemetery was arbitrary and capricious. The Al Maghfirah Cemetery Association sued after the township said the cemetery would cause a loss of tax revenue and expressed concern that the cemetery would not be maintained and would not be open to the public.  It is estimated that the 73-acre cemetery site will accommodate 35,000 burials– enough to serve the growing Minnesota Islamic community for 200 years. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

The United Shapes of Arithmetic: Equality

Nathan Rudolph, my friend and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, has started a comic strip which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.  With his permission, I will repost them here after he posts them.  I think my readers will appreciate them as much as I do as they are rather insightful with a snarky edge.  Enjoy!

Here are the links to the previously posted strips:

Here is the latest strip:

https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/18268252_1180925478680731_8108977706826738285_n.jpg?oh=917571c4d929fd6f83521581db09c1c6&oe=59BEEEF0

Get Writing! Attack the block…

Here is the latest post by Angela and Daz Croucher to their blog A.D. Croucher! They are up-and-coming young adult authors. Check them out!

A.D. Croucher

Writing is awesome. Of course it is. But it can sometimes feel like heavy lifting—of complex emotions, intricate plot, grounded characters—so it’s always good to keep those creative muscles warm.

SPN Chuck

Even if you don’t have a project you’re working on at the moment, keep writing. And if you are working on a project but you’re having trouble lifting (AKA… writer’s block), here’s a fun exercise that should help keep those muscles loose. In either case you might think that you don’t want to write something random. But here’s the thing: you never know when those small scenes could develop into something larger, or even solve that pesky plot hole.

Your mind is constantly working on story, behind the scenes of your everyday thought processes—that’s one of the cool things about being a writer, everything you do counts as part of the writing process in some way—but in order to make…

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