Canadian Open

January 22, 2018

So, this past week was the Canadian Open. For some reason, all of the qualifying draws that I could have watched were men’s draws, so I didn’t get to see much of those. I did manage to watch the quarters and the final, though, since they were mid-afternoon on the weekend.

The Canadian Open uses a format that’s rare in North American — and especially Canadian — tournaments, but supposedly is much more popular around the world. It’s triple-knockout, which means that a team has to win three games before they lose three games. Everyone starts on the A-side, which is for teams that have not lost. Teams that lose on the A-side drop to the B-side, for teams that have lost a game, and finally there’s the C-side for teams that have lost 2 games (where if you lose another game you’re eliminated). I don’t mind that format, but it always gets me thinking of that old song that talks about moving to the A-side from the B-side because there’s nothing on the B-side, and where they’ve been living too long with no special song (which is a remarkably hard song to seach Google for). So that’s stuck in my head now.

Anyway, some thoughts on the event:

Rachel Homan had a very good qualifying round, going 3 – 0 and ended up as the first seed. And then she lost to the eighth seed, Kim from South Korea, who is going to the Olympics, by a fairly lopsided 7 – 4 score. This could be worrying for the Olympics, except that in order for Kim to win she had to make great shots and have Homan miss shots that she otherwise ought to have made. Add in that the rocks Homan had were 2 – 14 during the event, and there’s no reason to push the panic button yet, and instead we probably should feel that Homan is back on track after a lackluster return to action after the Roar of the Rings.

The quarters did not work out well for me as a curling viewer, because the semis created the situation where on both sides of the draw there was a team that I didn’t care about one way or the other playing a team that I disliked. Thus, it was entirely possible that the final would be two teams that I disliked playing each other, which isn’t a lot of fun to watch. Instead, it ended up with one team that I didn’t care about one way or the other — Michelle Englot, who is retiring after this season — playing a team that I disliked, Chelsea Carey (and that’s mostly because I’m not fond of Cathy Overton-Clapham, although she’s been pretty well-behaved over her past few events, whereas in this game Englot’s third Kate Cameron was much more annoying). Carey won, which I’m ambivalent about, although the difference was one three end despite it ending with a 10 – 5 score (Carey picked up a bunch on her last rock in the last end, when Englot was trying to steal at least one and left her a double for the win). Englot had a chance for a three of her own in the next end and missed her shot, and that was really the difference in the game.

Next up is the Scotties, which starts on Friday with a play-in game.

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Summary of Sophisticated Atheology …

January 19, 2018

So, after finishing Philipse’s book, I have now read all of the books that Jerry Coyne challenged theists to read, as well as his own book and a few others. What is my overall impression, then, of the atheist arguments and positions, as expressed in the works that Jerry Coyne believes make the most convincing and strongest arguments?

All of them depend greatly on accepting a specific worldview. If you don’t accept that worldview, you’ll find the argument weak at best and ridiculous at worst.

Note that the worldview here isn’t specifically atheistic. This isn’t a clash between theistic and atheistic worldviews. But in general the atheists accept strong naturalistic/materialistic worldviews, and the consequences of those worldviews mean that there is no room for any kind of supernatural or immaterial entity to exist, and that includes gods. So, then, the consequences is that gods cannot exist. But if anyone even accepts the possibility that supernatural or immaterial entities could exist then this presumption is broken, and most of the arguments evaporate. This necessitates attempts to restore that foundation, most of which rely on some way on inductive arguments … which can’t be used to establish that something simply cannot exist. Thus, they appeal to the success of naturalistic approaches — for example — to argue for methodological naturalism, and from there to establish that foundation. But methodological naturalism does not justify ontological naturalism, and ontological naturalism is required to establish that one ought not consider the possibility that supernatural or immaterial exist, and again as soon as one does their arguments no longer have support. In the end, unless you accept their axioms you will not accept their conclusions, and it is far too easy to point out the lack of support their axioms have.

Also, it is indeed the case that in general they are philosophically uninformed. The one who is actually a philosopher — Philipse — makes critical mistakes in understanding philosophical fields, and while one cannot expect a philosopher to be equally well-versed in all of the various fields of philosophy one would expect him to do the work in understanding fields he explicitly references, like he does when he dismisses functionalism without thought despite it being well-developed, popular, and yet contradicting his own position. One would also not expect him to dismiss the common tools of conceptual analysis as he does with thought experiments. Kaufmann misunderstands analytic vs post-modern philosophy, Coyne refuses to use philosophical concepts and definitions and instead prefers the dictionary, and Rosenberg, in my view, greatly misunderstands most of the philosophical debates he wanders into. Not understanding philosophy is fine, but wandering into philosophical debates and misunderstanding them while, in general, smugly declaring science superior to philosophy is not. Moreover, by ignoring them they end up with arguments that are weak and easy to dismiss if one does not accept their worldview underpinnings, resulting in issues like the one outlined above.

In summary, the works ought not convince anyone that God does not exist who isn’t already convinced of that or predisposed to be convinced of that. As that’s not their intention, nor was that the intention of Coyne’s challenge, I think it safe to say that they have failed.

Zero Time Dilemma Was Ruined For Me …

January 17, 2018

… although you could say that it was my own fault.

Since this is a newer game, I’ll continue below the fold.

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Gaming again …

January 16, 2018

So, due to shifting schedules, I’m going to be taking more vacation in February. I am, in fact, going to take it right when the Olympics are on, because at least there’ll be something on TV to watch or listen to during the day (last year, I took off during the Scotties). And since it’s the Olympics, it’s the perfect time for me to play some games because I don’t like all winter sports equally and so having those sports on in the background while playing is quite appealing (I tended to want to watch the Scotties more closely than I’ll generally want to watch the Olympics). And to top it all off, I don’t seem to be having all that much success at starting my personal projects, and so think that until after that point it might be best for me to, at least, put things off until I can get back into a normal routine.

All of this means that it looks like I have a significant amount of time to play some games, that I should really take advantage of. But then the question arises: what should I try to play?

There are, as always, some restrictions. Or, I suppose, one big one: it has to be a console game, because I will want to watch some of the Olympics and trying to do that while playing PC games is generally difficult (I’ve tried, and in general I have absolutely no clue what’s happening and even if the game ends. That happens far less for console games because I’m generally in the same room as the TV for those). Since the Olympics are in South Korea which means that they’ll be getting into re-runs in the afternoon, in theory I could play PC games then, but right now my plan is to fill afternoons with various things (which could include PC games) so I’m leaving that all open for now. But in the mornings I’m planning on having dedicated gaming time, and console or Vita games fit there and PC games don’t.

Now, since I have a significant amount of time available, this looks like a good time to play a game that I wouldn’t normally have the time to play, at least not for the next year or so. And the top game on that list is a third play of Persona 5, because at 80 hours it would take me about five months to finish given my normal schedule, but I’d be able to finish it between now and the end of February if it fit into this slot. But then there are other games that I might like to replay, like Persona 3 and Persona 4, which I haven’t played in a longer time. There’s also Suikoden III that I was reminded of recently and might like to replay. And all of these are games that I might not have the time to play if I don’t do it now.

But, then again, maybe I should try to finish some games as well. I have some games left over from my Christmas binge, some of which I haven’t tried yet. And I never have finished the Fatal Frame games, and so this might be a good opportunity to play all three games that I own. Or I could play Persona and Persona 2. Or try to finish Nocturne. Or play other games that I started and ended up dropping like Dungeon Travelers 2 or Trails of Cold Steel (I own both games). Or try to get through the Agarest War games. Or finally play Saint’s Row (I definitely have “The Third”, I think, and might have the fourth game). Or the Overlord games. Or any number of other games that I started, kinda liked, and never finished. I’d have the time to start them over and maybe finish them this time.

But do I want to focus on finishing a game rather than playing or replaying a game that I want to play? I don’t think I want to turn this opportunity into something that feels like work, but the games that I want to finish are fun, too … or, at least, were fun at some points. And in fact the main reason that I never came back to Dungeon Travelers was because I forgot how far I had gotten and so where the secret rooms were. Starting over would fix that.

I’m still pondering which way to go, but I need to decide soon, because to finish a game like Persona 5 I need to start in my regular gaming time this week, which starts on Thursday and will definitely be active on the weekend.

Continental Cup …

January 15, 2018

So, the Continental Cup was on this weekend, which is a North America vs The World curling competition featuring regular team play, mixed doubles, and skins play to decide which group gets the Continental Cup. Team North America pulled out a close win, which means that they’ve won it the past six times and I can’t recall Team World ever winning it, but the gap definitely seems to have closed between mostly Canada — with one American team that is usually seen as the weak link — and the teams from places like Switzerland and Japan (who did surprisingly well here).

I didn’t get to watch much of it for various reasons, but I did note a few things.

First, Rachel Homan, after her win at the Roar of the Rings, struggled badly here. Since she is representing Canada at the Olympics, this would be worrying, despite the commentators attempts at damage control by saying that her struggles indicated that she had really taken the month off which they felt would be good for her at the Olympics. That being said, I’m not that worried about it for a couple of reasons. First, Homan has shown that she’s able to deliver under pressure, winning the Scotties, the Worlds, and the Roar of the Rings, so she isn’t likely to simply choke. Second, Homan was struggling going into the Roar, and even through the first few games, and then came back to sweep the remaining games, so we know that she can recover quickly and get on a huge roll. Still, it would be nice if she was playing better heading into the Olympics.

Second, I ended up mostly watching mixed doubles, and I’m not sure about it. The first time I watched it, it seemed to rely a lot on errors, because it was difficult for curlers who were used to regular team play to figure out how to throw without a broom to aim at or without the dedicated sweepers that they were used to. When I watched it this time, it seemed like there were less mistakes, but then it didn’t really seem all that different from the regular team game, except for again being a bit less precise and involving a bit less strategy. But it’s also generally faster, which makes it a game that TV networks and some fans might prefer. Right now I’m not even sure if I want to watch it, so I’m pretty sure I don’t want to see it replace the team game. But since it is a new addition to the Olympics this year, I’ll wait and see how I like it there.

Next up is the National, starting this week.

God in the Age of Science: Conclusion

January 12, 2018

Most of the conclusion to the book is Philipse summarizing all of the chapters and what it said, and so isn’t all that interesting to examine. However, at the very end, he sets out the three things he thinks he has shown, so let me go through them to see if he has, indeed, really done that:

1. Theism is not a meaningful theory. So we should become particular semantic atheists.

Since theists can point to, in general, the thing that they are talking about when they talk about a god, that we can’t make a sufficiently specific or meaningful full testable-by-science theory out of it doesn’t justify any kind of atheism. All that means is that we need to do more work to make some kind of scientific theory out of it or concede that maybe a scientific approach isn’t the right one here. This conclusion is only strengthened by the fact that those things are important to many people, and have a great impact on how they live. Given that, it’s not reasonable to declare that those things that they can clearly reference in a way that we can understand what they are talking about can’t exist or, at least, that we ought act as if they don’t exist because the theory is deemed insufficient. There are a number of things and phenomena — quantum mechanics being a good example — that we don’t have strong theories for and yet we have no trouble saying that they exist and that our job is to create proper and meaningful, testable and test theories for them. Philipse might counter that we know that quantum entities exist and don’t know that for gods, but he would still run afoul of the fact that we can’t dismiss their existence until we have a sufficient theory to be able to claim that we know they don’t exist. So either we know they don’t exist or we need to work out a better theory to allow us to know whether or not they exist.

In summary, theists can always reference gods in such a way that we can know what they are talking about when they talk about their god, and so if we don’t have a sufficient theory to assess the existence of their gods then the problem is that we need to create a better theory. And if we can claim to know that their gods don’t exist, then we have a sufficiently meaningful theory to make the semantic argument moot. Thus, we should never adopt a particular semantic atheist position.

2. If we assume for the sake of argument that theism is a meaningful theory, it has no predictive power with regard to any existing evidence. Because the truth of theism is improbable given the scientific background knowledge concerning the dependence of mental life on brain processes, we should become strong particular atheists with regard to theism.

Demanding predictive power requires us to hold theistic propositions being very strongly scientific, which most theists won’t accept and which Philipse does not sufficient justify. On top of that, that scientific background knowledge is no such thing, as we have no reason to think that any possible mental life must depend on there being a physical brain, and it is trivial to posit concepts of mental lives without brains like ours or physical brains at all. This reduces Philipse’s argument to, at best, a prime example of the inductive fallacy: I’ve never seen something with a mental life that didn’t have a brain. That is not sufficient evidence to justify, in any way, a claim that we ought not think that something without a brain could not have a mental life, and without that the improbability argument fails.

In summary, Philipse would need to give a reason why a mental life requires a physical brain — or physicality — based on more than that the examples we have observed all involve brains, and he fails to do so in this book. Since it is trivial to conceive of things that have mental lives without a physical body, that the concept itself does not require dependence on a brain provides good reason to reject an unsubstantiated claim of knowledge that mental lives require a physical brain.

3. If we assume for the sake of argument that theism not only is meaningful but also has predictive power, we should become strong particular atheists, because the empirical arguments against theism outweigh the arguments that support it, and theism is improbable on our background knowledge.

If this conclusion is true, then not only is the first one meaningless — why be particular semantic atheists when we have sufficient evidence to just be strong particular atheists — but it is also false, since we’d have to be able to provide a sufficiently meaningful theory of that theism to be able to provide empirical arguments for or against it. Moreover, this one depends on us accepting 2) — that the background knowledge makes it improbable — which means that we can’t be accepting it for the sake of argument, as he implies here. And, of course, a lot of his empirical evidence isn’t sufficient to demonstrate that case anyway, at least in my view.

In summary, this one eliminates the first conclusion and assumes the second one works, and in my view he hasn’t provide sufficient empirical arguments to justify the conclusion that he wants us to accept anyway.

This book was disappointing. Other than some small sections and the constant reference to background knowledge, he didn’t really make any Bayesian arguments, which is what the book promised. He also relies far too much on the presumption of materialism, and does a poor job of addressing objections to that view. This also holds for his insistence that we need to have an empirical/scientific theory or argument in the first place, as without that principle much of his book is overturned and there are good reasons to think that a scientific approach isn’t appropriate here, or at least isn’t the only option.

At the end of the day, Philipse sets out assumptions that he agrees with and bases his arguments on them, but those assumptions or not as safe, accepted or justified as he needs them to be. If you accept his scientific, naturalistic and materialistic worldview, then you’ll agree with him, but if you even merely doubt one of those assumptions, the entire book crumbles and Philipse does an inadequate job of buttressing those assumptions to remove any reasonable doubt. That he then proceeds as if his foundations are completely secure only makes the book worse, as any doubt carries forward and undermines every argument that depends on it. For a book aimed at or touted to be more philosophical, it makes a number of philosophical mistakes and provides a poor philosophical basis for the scientific approach he insists we need to take. This book, ultimately, cannot convince anyone who knows the philosophical background to the debates, because the assumptions he makes have specific counters that he fails to adequately address.

Final Thoughts on The Nonary Games: Virtue’s Last Reward

January 10, 2018

So, I finished all of the endings — but not all of the Game Overs — for “Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward”. This game had a worse reception, from what I’ve read, than 999 did, and I can see why. Since this relaunch is relatively recent, I’ll continue below the fold, as I’ll likely talk a bit about the characters and various endings:

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Further Thoughts on Fraiser (mid Season 8)

January 8, 2018

So, I’m almost through Season 8 of Frasier, leaving only the final three seasons to go, so here are my further thoughts on it.

The show continues to often take more serious lines and deeper problems on in order to generate its humour. A lot of these are, in fact, issues that if you’re in the right age range you will very much relate to (Frasier is about my age or slightly older in the series). And, again, while this can be funny it can also still hurt the simple enjoyment of it, because it reminds you of those problems and issues and that you, yourself, might have to deal with. That I can relate quite a bit more to Frasier than I could to other sitcom stars doesn’t actually help that. The scenes are done well and work without being preachy — the show itself lampshades the desire for a lesson or moral at some point — but Frasier isn’t a light sitcom, at least for me, in the same way that Cheers or Sabrina the Teenage Witch was. Which isn’t a bad thing.

They also seem to be willing to try different things at times, playing around with a Rashomon-style perspective switch and, most interestingly, creating an entire episode around the idea that one small decision could have a huge impact on someone’s life, playing through what might result depending on whether Frasier decided to wear a sweater or a suit to a speed dating event. And yet, it also plays on the idea of destiny, as one couple gets together at the end on both paths, and the paths re-merge at the end with Frasier making a specific decision, with that decision following naturally from what happened on each path.

One of the issues, though, is that Frasier himself never gets any kind of arc. He doesn’t get a girlfriend who lasts longer than a couple of episodes, and he is constantly complaining about not being able to get dates for pretty much the entire series so far. Not only does this make him seem more pathetic than he really should be — or is — it also takes away what I feel often makes for the more interesting episodes: the times when Frasier has to play off against a woman who is as smart as he is. It not only lets him show a more gallant side of himself — there’s a good scene in an episode where he is trying to hire a stripper for a bachelor party — but it can generate a lot of humour that allows Frasier to be wrong but not pathetic, especially if his date is more down-to-earth than he is. This is what makes me regret the decision — probably due to necessity — to cut Lilith out of the show, because some of the absolutely best episodes of the show are when Lilith comes to visit, partly because of how well she and Frasier play off of each other but also because it gives both Niles and Martin the opportunity to snark at her, with her deadpan snark playing off of it. And I also really liked the one girlfriend he had who had the interfering mother and who made him pretend to be Jewish because she thought her mother wouldn’t approve. I would have loved to have seen longer arcs with him dating someone, although that would have limited the “dating disaster” episodes that they so love, but that I really wish they had done less of. Especially when the disaster happens due to Frasier’s own fault, and for things that he really should have learned not to do a long time ago. I like the humility lessons, but he rarely ever learns from it or gets any real gain from that show of humility, which them makes it kind of pointless.

The one arc that the show does have is the Niles and Daphne crush, which starts in the first episode and continues through his separation and divorce and her engagement. They finally get together at the end of Season 7, with the final resolution and fallout from that — Daphne was getting engaged and Niles had had a whirlwind marriage — carrying on into Season 8, so about where I am now. The good thing about this arc is that it involves two more minor characters, so it is easier to weave into the story when it makes sense or when it allows for a good joke, while allowing it to be completely ignored when it wouldn’t work. The bad thing about it is that it drags on for way too long. Niles and Maris get separated in something like the second season, and that drags on for a couple more, and all the while Niles never asks Daphne out either. So the whole plot keeps simmering for, well, most of the series. Now, since I knew that they would get together eventually, that might have an impact that you wouldn’t see at the time, but I really felt that it dragged on too long.

Also, there are a number of incredibly stupid episodes, usually ones where Frasier and Nile’s arrogance and pretension is racheted up to 11 and it has to get them in massive trouble that is supposed to be hilarious but usually isn’t, which usually ends up being just another excuse to make Frasier miserable. In fact, my biggest criticism of the series — in line with what I said above — is that it makes Frasier too miserable and too much of a loser. It’s so overblown at times that it can’t be taken seriously, and makes Frasier less sympathetic as a character. And since he is the main character, that can make the series less interesting to watch, especially when Frasier’s problems aren’t that bad or, worse, have simple fixes that no one acknowledges (it works better when the fact that Frasier overcomplicates things is lampshaded).

Still, the series is pretty enjoyable so far. I’ve been reading a book on the Spitfire vs the 109 in WWII, and I’ve stopped opening it while watching Frasier, because it felt more like a security blanket than something I was reading. So it was definitely worth getting.

Jerry Coyne Proves Science and Religion Are Not Incompatible …

January 5, 2018

So, for the longest time, Jerry Coyne has been trying to demonstrate that science and religion are incompatible in a strong sense, where if a thing is scientific and a thing is religious then those things are incompatible by definition. He’s not trying to argue that some religions are factually incorrect, or that those religions were proven incorrect by advances in science. He’s unwilling to accept that any religion worth calling such could be compatible with science and scientific facts, and ultimately that no one can build a worldview that respects both science and religion without building in that incompatibility, and so no one who accepts science can be religious without cognitive dissonance. My constant criticism of his view is that he constantly tries to establish that science and religion are incompatible by proving specific religions incorrect, which is not enough to demonstrate any kind of interesting philosophical incompatibility; if a religion is proven factually incorrect, then the members of that religion perhaps should abandon it, but that doesn’t mean that they must give up the idea of a god or accept naturalism.

In a recent post, Coyne again argues for incompatibility, while examining a post defending the Templeton Foundation. I’ll pretty much ignore all of that discussion, and focus in on how Coyne inadvertently proves that there can be no inherent incompatibility between science and religion.

The big point wants to go after is Gould’s idea that science and religion deal with separate areas of inquiry and so cannot interestingly conflict. As usual, Coyne insists that religions make factual claims, and so science and religion cannot be completely distinct. He lists a few of the factual claims that he thinks science has proven incorrect, and then says this:

So while we can’t have a constructive dialogue, we can have a “destructive monologue”: science can tell religionists that what they believe is wrong, but the other side has no such ability.

But, presumably, science can also tell religion that those factual claims that they believe are correct, no? Thus, science could also help to justify religions, and verify that their facts are true and correct, thus improving our confidence in that religion and, possibly, even spawning converts. Coyne doesn’t think this is true for any religion — or at least any current one — but if this is possible — and it is — then science will not necessarily be destructive of religion, and might even help build it. Coyne doesn’t think that any religion is true, but this counter would, in fact, be him saying that he thinks all religions are false. He may even be right. He may even be right that science has proven that. But that wouldn’t make science and religion incompatible, but would merely make all religions wrong.

So in attempting to demonstrate the factual inaccuracies of religion as proven by science, Coyne inadvertently allows us to see that science need not be inherently destructive of religion, and clearly wouldn’t be destructive of any religion that happened to be true. Thus, the conversation might end up being one way — as Coyne is attempting to demonstrate — but that doesn’t mean that it has to be based around science disproving religion. And if science can prove a religion’s factual claims, that’s a conversation that is by definition the opposite of destructive. And if science and religion can have a dialogue that isn’t destructive, but could in fact be called constructive, then science and religion cannot be interestingly incompatible.

This leads us to discussions of what religions can be seen as, and if we could have not only a science that supports the facts of a religion — and potentially even proves that God exists — but also a religion that is supported by and respects science. The thing is, while I disagree with the idea that religion doesn’t involve any factual claims at all, religion is better understood as a worldview, and worldviews have a different approach to facts than science — as a way of knowing — does. While science and all ways of knowing try to establish factual claims, worldviews don’t. They are based on some factual claims, and they often have factual implications, but for the most part they are less concerned about establishing facts and more concerned about establishing normative claims, and primarily the one about how one ought to live one’s life. So while most worldviews will have a position on how someone ought to go about finding out factual claims, the number of factual claims that really matter to a worldview are decidedly small: only the critical ones that the worldview is based on, and the ones that follow as implications of it that, if they weren’t true, would mean the worldview could not be true.

So, then, imagine that I create a religious worldview. Let me call it VS-Catholicism. It holds basically all the same views as Catholicism, except that it insists that it must accept any scientific fact, and adjust theologically accordingly. To be fair, this is pretty much in line with actual Catholicism, as there is no ex cathedra claim that can be made about something that is a matter of fact. Thus, no article of faith can depend on the truth of a factual belief that science could have refuted, as that factual belief itself cannot be an ex cathedra statement. So, Coyne’s attempt to argue that the Pope has said that Adam and Eve have to literally be our direct and sole ancestors doesn’t even seem to work for Catholicism, as if that is really a factual claim then if science has refuted it then Catholicism itself would have to adjust that factual belief. However, Coyne could use that to claim that the belief is, in fact, a core Catholic belief, and so if science refutes it then Catholicism is, itself, refuted.

Hence, VS-Catholicism. VS-Catholicism denies that Adam and Eve need to literally be our ancestors, or that the story must be literally true and not a metaphor. Thus, given that, VS-Catholicism would simply adjust its theology, either to make the story true in another sense — like them being the first to gain souls, for example, which was also done by Catholicism — or arguing that the story is a metaphor, which I’ve defended before. Coyne can argue that this would destroy the need for Jesus to sacrifice himself for our sins, but there are two problems with that. The first is that in the post I linked I actually defend that, meaning that I already have an answer for that. The second — and more important one — is that Coyne could not be using science to make that argument. He’d have to be doing philosophy/theology … and pretty sophisticated theology at that. If Coyne has to move from the realm of science to the realm of theology to claim that my attempt to reconcile VS-Catholicism to science won’t work, then the issue will be with the theology, not the science. And so there is no reason to claim that science and religion are inherently incompatible. I might be wrong that my VS-Catholicism worldview can be made compatible with science in that way, but it is possible that it could work … and the problem would be with my specific theology, not with the scientific facts, or with anything that science, in and of itself, is telling me.

Now, Coyne could counter that if I build a religious worldview that is infinitely malleable, then yes, I could remain consistent with science. But in order for it to be a distinct worldview, surely there have to be some things that it thinks true and that cannot be changed. For example, for it to count as a religious worldview surely it has to think that some kind of god exists as some point, surely. And all of those could be — and Coyne tends to think already has been — refuted by science.

So I’ll give him one: the Resurrection. If Jesus was never killed and resurrected, then VS-Catholicism is false. This is convenient, because Coyne talks about that in his post:

If you don’t like those, how about the Bible?

If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your Faith is also vain. —1 Corinthians 15:14

You can hardly call yourself a Christian if you don’t think Jesus was the son of God, part man and part divine, and died and was resurrected to expiate our sins.

But … this is one that Coyne never actually says that science has disproved. So while Coyne lists it as a factual belief for Christians, he never demonstrates that science has yet proven it false. And while a number of atheists have argued on a number of occasions that science has — arguing, for example, that science has shown that no one can rise from the dead — science hasn’t actually done that because its claims don’t allow for that kind of justification. In short, science has yet to prove that to be the case.

Which leads to Coyne’s move against proof:

First of all, “proof” is not required for a theory to have credibility; the concept of “proof” is alien to science.

This is a common atheist move: arguing that science does not provide “proof”. In my experience, the initial thrust from this came from theistic arguments that demanded that atheists prove their claims, and then insisting that any doubt at all meant that their “proofs” were insufficient, and so the atheists couldn’t really “know” that their claim is true. Thus, there was a pushback against the idea that knowledge required logical certainty, and so we could “know” things that were absolutely certain. This, in and of itself, isn’t an unreasonable position — and epistemology came to that conclusion quite a while ago — but it often gets used against demands for proof that are clearly nothing than the standard colloquial “Give me sufficient evidence to show that your theory is true”, which means give me enough justification so that I can claim to know — by the “justified true belief” definition — that it is true. Since Coyne claims that science is a “way of knowing”, science definitely has to be able to provide that sort of “proof” for its theories to have credibility. If he can’t and wants to claim that science doesn’t do that, then there are no scientific facts that any worldview, religious or otherwise, needs to consider.

And worldviews, for their fundamental beliefs, might want a stronger level of proof than is commonly accepted for scientific facts. As I talked about recently, science actually gets a lot of individual scientific facts wrong, at least at first. Sure, we can argue that it eventually gets to the facts, but it does a lot of readjusting along the way. Changing fundamental beliefs for a worldview, however, at a minimum requires a massive reworking of the worldview and might even force people to abandon the worldview. So for those sorts of factual beliefs, the worldview is going to want to have really, really strong evidence that the factual belief is wrong before it accepts it. Given that, it’s perfectly reasonable for religious worldviews to, at a minimum, be skeptical of what are the current scientific beliefs until they are established to the point where the likelihood of them changing is exceptionally low. This is particularly true is accepting that scientific belief would cause the collapse of the worldview. Thus, it is certainly reasonable for worldviews to not accept the scientific consensus if all we have is, in fact, the scientific consensus. The empirical observations themselves must be sufficiently strong and free from potential confounds before the worldview need accept it. In short, worldviews should not accept scientific challenges to their fundamental beliefs until they are forced to by the evidence; scientists simply saying that this is currently the best theory should not be sufficient to overturn the fundamental beliefs of a worldview.

Given all of this, not only are science and religion not inherently incompatible, much of the time religion and science actually interact in the right ways. Sure, there are religions can are probably at the “forced to accept that a fundamental belief is false” stage who aren’t acknowledging it, but then there are scientific claims that are not strong enough to justify abandoning those fundamental beliefs that some claim religions should just accept. The science vs religion debate should be seen as the debate between a worldview and a way of knowing, and while the two are not entirely distinct they aren’t the same either. I think that understanding this would do a great deal to help settle the question of whether or not science and religion are incompatible.

First Thoughts on “Dark Rose Valkyrie”

January 3, 2018

So, I recently went on a game buying spree, and one of the games I purchased was Dark Rose Valkyrie. This game is, well, the typical sort of game I’d like, where it mixes a dating-type simulator with a tactical RPG and adds in a traitor mechanism. So obviously this would be a game that I’d be very interested in. However, after playing it for the first time it turns out that the game has a number of annoyances that make me less interested in playing it.

The first annoyance is that I can’t figure out how to save in the base itself. This means that if I want to save to make sure that my choices are captured before heading out for a mission, or just to quit for the night, I have to find one of the more dangerous save points, either in a dungeon or out in the field, and save there. Remember the lack of easy-to-find save points was one of the main reasons I quit playing Nocturne, and if I can’t get to an obvious ending point in a game when I want to stop for the night that really, really does discourage me from playing the game. So that’s a pretty big strike against it right there.

The second annoyance is that they aren’t very good at indicating where you need to go for your quest. Maybe there’s some setting that I’m supposed to change, but it isn’t obvious on the map where I’m supposed to go most of the time. I spent a long time running through a dungeon because I thought that the “bridge” I was supposed to patrol was in there, and only later figured out that it was elsewhere in the city. And still got lost on my way to it. And the entire quest was just showing up there, which since that was the required quest seemed anti-climactic.

The third annoyance is that events in your room seem to, at least much of the time, trigger a progression in the story, despite the game not making that clear. I missed all of the interactions in one part because I went to my room first and the commanding officer demanded that I rush down to the command room. This was incredibly annoying, and just highlights how bad this game is at telling you what’s going on.

So, not a good start. However, the characters are generally interesting, and the combat system is an interesting way to implement a turn-based-with-delay system. Essentially, there’s a gauge that each combatant appears on, and they move at various speeds up it until they hit the decision point, where you can decide what action you want them to take. Each action takes some time to trigger, so you can select level 1, 2, or 3 actions. Then they keep progressing until they hit that level, and the action activates, and then they start climbing up the gauge again. This allows for some interesting decisions because you might, say, want to trigger an action first to get in on combo action or to kill an enemy before they can attack, even if the longer option might have other benefits. And if you aren’t really thinking about that, you aren’t rushed to decide what your best option is either, which is nice.

Since I have so very many games on the go right now, it’s hard to see when I might get back to that game, especially since it’s starting off so “Meh”. But I do think I’d like to give it another shot at some point in the future, if for no other reason than to see what the interview mechanic is like, where you try to determine who is the traitor.