On Joseph Smith

“No, it’s a matter of logic! If you’re going to say things that have been proven wrong, like that the first man and woman lived in Missouri, and that Native Americans came from Jerusalem, then you’d better have something to back it up. All you’ve got are a bunch of stories about some asswipe who read plates nobody ever saw out of a hat, and then couldn’t do it again when the translations were hidden!”

– Stan Marsh


A Pointless Lexicon

In this lexicon, a pointless word is defined as a unit of language that—although not meaningless in it self—has a meaningless definition.

E.g. the word, or rather the compound, inner self is not meaningless in the sense that it has a no definition; however, that definition is vacuous, rendering the compound pointless. That is to say, there is no need to assume that there is such a thing, other than the fact that there is a word for it. A unit of language conveys meaning, and this is bewitching—as Ludwig Wittgenstein would say—for meaning engenders a certain significance. Again, consider Wittgenstein, “Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.”

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

  • dogma, a meaningless statement considered to be true, regardless of evidence.
  • fate, the false impression that everything that happens was meant to happen.
  • honour, the veneration of mindless devotion.
  • karma, the delusion of that which goes around will eventually come around.
  • luck, the name given to the inconceivability of the improbable.

“Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.” – Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

On Infinity

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

Principles of Positivism

Briefly put, positivism is the philosophical doctrine which states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method, refusing every form of metaphysics. There are five main principles behind positivism:

  • The logic of inquiry is the same across all sciences (both social and natural).
  • The goal of inquiry is to explain and predict, and thereby to discover necessary and sufficient conditions for any phenomenon.
  • Research should be empirically observable with human senses, and should use inductive logic to develop statements that can be tested.
  • Science is not the same as common sense, and researchers must be careful not to let common sense bias their research.
  • Science should be judged by logic, and should be as value-free as possible. The ultimate goal of science is to produce knowledge, regardless of politics, morals, values, et cetera.

“But what use is the unicorn to you if your intellect doesn’t believe in it?” – Umberto Eco

On Two Outcomes

“There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.”

– Enrico Fermi

Rubik’s Cube

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D combination puzzle. It is the brainchild of the Hungarian professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, who invented in it 1974. Since then, over 300 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide. If they were stacked on top of each other, they would reach the top of Mount Everest, twice.

It is estimated that in the mid-eighties about a fifth of the world’s population had, at some point, handled a Rubik’s Cube. And because of its simple design, people continue to be astounded by its devilish complexity. The percentage of people that has ever solved the Cube, is more somewhat more difficult to ascertain.

Obviously, there is only one solution in which all six sides of the Cube have the same colour; as for all the different unsolved states, the original 3x3x3 Cube has 43252003274489856000 (that is to say, over 43 quintillion) possible Cubes. If there was a Cube for every permutation, they would cover the Earth with 273 layers – a sea of Cubes 15,5 meters (50 foot) deep. If there was a cube scrambled for every permutation and they were laid end to end then they would stretch approximately 261 light years – from Earth to Alpha Columbae.

Because of the vast amount different Cubes, algorithms (a sequence of moves that has a desired effect) are used to solve the Cube. Without algorithms to solve the Cube, it could take ages: if you made a single turn of one of the Cube’s faces every second, it would take you 1371,51 billion years to go through all the possible configurations. The universe is only 13,82 billion years old. If you had started this project during the Big Bang, you still would not be done yet.

Amazingly, the best speed cubers (people who take part in speed cubing – a sport where competitors try and solve the cube as quickly as possible) can solve the cube in under six seconds. At the time of writing, the world record is 4,90 seconds; the record for blindfolded solving (including memorization beforehand) is 21,05 seconds.

Mike: Look I don’t know, ok; it’s like a fucking Rubik’s Cube! I mean, it’s impossible at this point.
Selina: What? Mike, a Rubik’s cube is not impossible to solve.
Gary: Yeah, I saw an Asian kid do it in like ten seconds.
Selina: Ten seconds Mike.
– Veep (2012) Season 1, Episode 3; “Catherine” [No. 3]

Arrogant Scientists?

‘As many critics of religion have pointed out, the notion of a creator poses an immediate problem of an infinite regress. If God created the universe, what created God? To say that God, by definition, is uncreated simply begs the question. Any being capable of creating a complex world promises to be very complex himself. As the biologist Richard Dawkins has observed repeatedly, the only natural process we know of that could produce a being capable of designing things is evolution.

The truth is that no one knows how or why the universe came into being. It is not clear that we can even speak coherently about the creation of the universe, given that such an event can be conceived only with reference to time, and here we are talking about the birth of space-time itself.[5]

[5] The physicist Stephen Hawking, for instance, pictures space-time as a four dimensional, closed manifold, without beginning or end (much like the surface of a sphere).

Any intellectually honest person will admit that he does not know why the universe exists. Scientists, of course, readily admit their ignorance on this point. Religious believers do not. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be appreciated in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while condemning scientists and other non-believers for their intellectual arrogance. There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious believer: the creator of the universe takes an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me after death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain the best statement of the truth until the end of the world; everyone who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell. …

An average Christian, in an average church, listening to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse—and there have been some extraordinarily arrogant scientists.

Over 99 percent of the species that ever walked, flew, or slithered upon this earth are now extinct. This fact alone appears to rule out intelligent design. When we look at the natural world, we see extraordinary complexity, but we do not see optimal design. We see redundancy, regressions, and unnecessary complications; we see bewildering inefficiencies that result in suffering and death. We see flightless birds and snakes with pelvises. We see species of fish, salamanders, and crustaceans that have nonfunctional eyes, because they continued to evolve in darkness for millions of years. We see whales that produce teeth during fetal development, only to reabsorb them as adults. Such features of our world are utterly mysterious if God created all species of life on earth “intelligently”; none of them are perplexing in light of evolution.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 24

Ramification [Noun.]

A branching out, an offshoot of a decision, fact et cetera; a consequence or implication, especially one which complicates a situation.

Also consider the verb ramify which means ‘to divide into branches or subdivisions; or figuratively speaking, to spread or diversify into multiple fields or categories’.