Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Dead baby’s parents ignored advice: QC

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 5, 2009

THE parents of a nine-month-old girl who died from septicemia were responsible for their baby’s death because they shunned conventional medical treatment for her eczema in favour of homeopathic remedies, a court heard yesterday.

A homeopath, Thomas Sam, 42, and his wife, Manju Sam, 36, are standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court charged with manslaughter by gross criminal negligence after they allegedly resisted the advice of nurses and a doctor to send her to a skin specialist.

Instead Gloria Thomas, who was born in perfect health in July 2001, allegedly died with malnutrition and eczema so severe that her skin broke every time her parents removed her clothes and nappy.

The Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, told the court they sat on this advice for two months and then saw a general practitioner who was so concerned by her condition that he told them to see a skin specialist immediately. But again, they demurred.

On the few occasions that they did follow conventional medical advice, Gloria would improve, but they would soon revert to homeopathic remedies and she would continue to deteriorate.

Thomas Sam’s sister allegedly “pleaded” with him to send Gloria to a conventional medical practitioner. He allegedly replied: “I’m not able to do that.”


Skepdude says – for an overview of the disease and it’s treatments check out

Uncommon Descent-Uncommon “logic”?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 5, 2009

I just love it when believers try to make a rational case for belief in their God. It is comical to see how they twist themselves into pretzels in the effort of making a rational argument, and failing miserably. Uncommon Descent has an entry called “Is Belief in God Unreasonable” in which the author was so impressed with a commenter’s comment that he decided it deserved its own entry. In some previous entry a commenter by the name of Beelzebub had written the following:

Hart presumably considers the non-contingent ground of being to be the Christian God. This in itself seems to be an unwarranted assumption. Why must existence be underwritten by a god at all, much less the specific personal God of the Christians?

Which is a very good question, especially the part about the Christian God. This is a line of reasoning that I have been using a lot lately. Every “rational” argument given for the existence of God purports to prove the existence of a God, but there is nothing about any such argument that can be construed to imply the existence of the Christian God specifically. In other words a Christian apologists touting the Argument from Design, the Argument from First Cause, the Argument from Morality,  has just proved the existence of Allah! So let’s see how well the responding commenter handled Beelzebub’s question.

1. Chance, Necessity or Agency?

There are only three general ways of explaining any given state of affairs: we can explain it as the outcome of chance, necessity or agency (or some combination of the above).

Heard that. We know what’s coming next. We discard out of hand Chance and necessity and that leaves Agency alone. Ta daaaa, God is proved.  Of course this has been debunked thoroughly and the obvious objection is : If everything is due to either Chance, Necessity or Agency, as they claim, and we wave away the first two, then everything is due to Agency, thus the Agency itself is due to some other Agency, which in turn is due to some other Agency and so on to infinity. The only way you can get out of this vicious cycle is if you assume that at some point one Agency came into existence either as a product of Chance, Necessity or a combination (which is what “God always was” really means). But if you are allowing that the Agency must have come from Chance and/or Necessity, how can you wave them away to begin your argument. This argument collapses completely once one makes the important step of following the logic to where it leads.

And look at this gem:

Necessity alone cannot explain the cosmos either, for if it did, the cosmos would itself be necessary – which it is manifestly not.

Talk about circular reasoning.  I will assume the cosmos is not necessary to prove that necessity does not explain its existence. Wow, where did these folks learn logic?

I can’t even begin to understand his #2 Argument from the Immateriality … it is such a load of crap that would get you laughed out of  an Introduction to Philosophy, or Logic 101 class.

3. The Argument from Design

Not only is the Universe contingent; it also possesses certain properties (e.g. fine-tuning; functional complex specified information) which make it overwhelmingly probable that it is the creation of an Intelligent Designer. An Intelligent Designer of the cosmos could also be called God.

Yep, we’ve seen this one before too.  It also goes by the name of Argument from Ignorance. What it is basically saying is that the Universe is so complex and wonderful, and we do not have an explanation for everything in it and how it operates, therefore God. Nevertheless admitting ignorance, which we must in relation to the mysteries of the Cosmos, and making the Leap to the Personal God are two completely different things. If we go along with this line of reasoning they cannot, under any circumstance, tell me that the Designer is not the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Do these people not see the shortcomings of such “arguments”?

4. The Argument from the Intelligibility of the Cosmos

Putting it another way: an Intelligence is the only thing that can guarantee that the cosmos will remain intelligible, no matter what.

I must say this is a new one for me. So there must be a God because we humans have evolved enough to understand a little of how the Universe works. Wow! The Universe is intelligible, yes to some extent, for example we have no idea what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are, even though we’re pretty sure they’re there. But how in the hell can one claim the above? What possible reason do they have to say that a universe that is the product of “chance and necessity” would be unintelligible? Why? How can you claim that it would not? Except of course if you’re not making arguments, and are just throwing around unsubstantiated statements. We can all do that. Here I go on the record : Any universe, regardless it’s cause of existence, would be intelligible! Period. Why should your claim have any more weight than mine?

5. The Argument from the Reliability of Thought

This line of argument seeks to show that a personal God is the only kind of entity that explain why I can trust the workings of my own mind.

Heh, so the existence of an imaginary friend in your mind is the only assurance you can have in the workings of said mind? What this is saying is that without God we’d be raving lunatics, that we could not rely on what our mind is telling us. So what this person is trying to say is : I know I exist, I know I think (rationally presumably) but I can’t trust any of that unless there is a Sky Daddy? The logic of this line of “thinking” escapes me. Usually I try to understand the other’s logic and see if there is something wrong with it, but in this case there is no logic to speak of, just a weird, self loathing statement of inferiority! I refuse to think of myself in such low terms!

Believers, I respect you more if you say you just believe, period, no particular reason. If you tell me you feel God’s presence I cannot argue witht that. You feel what you feel, and that’s all there is to it. But take my advice, stop making yourself a lauging stock by trying to argue why God exists. Logic and reason are not your friend in this endeavour.

Also note how the responder did not address the important question at all. How do any of these arguments argue for the Christian God as opposed to any other God?