Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I ♥ Iron Chariots

Just wanted throw some words of praise at the intrepid editors over at Iron Chariots. I just finished writing a long email response to someone who wanted to know what came before the big bang. When I was finished, I thought to myself, "Self, this would be a great addition to the big bang article at Iron Chariots."

When I got there, however, I discovered that edits were completely unnecessary, as a very thorough and well written account of what I wanted to say was already there. Some of my thoughts about the cosmological argument were not in the big bang article, but instead there was a very tidy link to a cosmological argument page with some great responses. And when I thought "Ah but this doesn't address the kalam version" I was again proved wrong, as one sentence in the middle helpfully informed me that "Changing 'Everything that exists has a cause' to 'Everything that begins to exist has a cause' produces a variant known as the Kalam cosmological argument" which in turn led to another page with some stuff I hadn't even thought of saying.

Then I thought "Surely there's a lot to be done on the transcendental argument. I remember how incomplete it was when I looked it up while talking to Matt Slick." Well, the page is in progress, but it already has the full version of the Slick argument posted, plus some initial refutations based partly on Matt's and my discussions with him.

Needless to say, I'm delighted. It lightens the load of answering emails tremendously, because I can just link a pre-written article which expresses it better than I would off the cuff. That is, of course, exactly what we hoped for when we created this wiki.

I well remember when about 50% of the content had to be generated by me personally, so I'm gratified to see that it's progressing very well without my intervention. Thanks!


  1. Since y'all remind viewers every week that you can't possibly answer every single email message you receive, have you considered farming the work out to the community at large? The reason you get so much mail is that you have a large audience, so why not put it to work?

    I figure you could go through the show's mailbox the way you currently do, letting ACA members answer what they like. For the remainder, if you see something that warrants a response but that no one wants to take, you could post it to the Iron Chariots forum or something. Heck, you could even automate the process.

  2. AT the end of the Big Bang article, it states, "Persons accelerated to near-light speed will experience time more slowly than those who are not accelerated." I'm probably wrong about this, but I think this is incorrect. To an observer moving slower, the fast-moving people will appear to be moving and experiencing time more slowly, but from the perspective of the fast-moving people, their experience of time will be "normal". Though, if they were to observe the slow-moving people, they would appear to be moving and experiencing time at a very fast pace.

  3. ^^^ The phrasing isn't necessarily clear there, but the point is that if you were traveling along at near-light speed while someone was proceeding normally on Earth for the period of say 24 hours, on Earth much longer than that would have passed such as year or a decade.

    I don't think the intention is to suggest that the person traveling more quickly feels things happening more slowly. I'll have to update the wording for clarity.

    And as for Iron Chariots, this is the perfect topic for a wiki, and succeeds thusly.

  4. I think you have a misconception of agnosticism. Let me try to elaborate.

    Mr A: [after flipping a coin] Mr B - do you *know* whether it's heads or tails?
    Mr B: I don't.

    This is the starting point of agnosticism - nobody usually argues this.

    A: Do you *believe* it's heads?
    B: I can't say I have any beliefs in the matter as I have insufficient information.

    I'd say this looks somewhat weaselly to you but watch the next move:

    A: OK, I claim it's heads. Do you *believe me*?
    B: No, I don't, because I believe you have no knowledge of the matter and have taken a wild guess.

    Do you see the difference? Unlike atheism, agnosticism does not mean non-belief in god in all instances, because in some of them, both belief and non-belief are not applicable.

  5. "I can't say I have any beliefs in the matter as I have insufficient information."

    This is a misuse of the word 'belief'. You can have a belief without knowledge. More properly stated:

    "I can't say I have any knowledge in the matter as I have insufficient information."

  6. To stenlis:

    That is a false analogy. There is always a 50/50 probability that the coin will turn up heads vs tails. Given enough guesses you will answer correctly if you only choose heads every time. With enough rounds there is an absolute certainty that any sequence of heads and tails will come up. Probability and Statistics is an important body of mathematical knowledge.

    You put the question of God as if it is analogous to guessing between two equally well understood and predictable possibilities despite there having yet to be an established possibility that any gods exist and which out of a multitude. In the thousands of years that humans have been studying the natural world the explanatory power of the gods diminish to the point of non-necessity. Even Christians admit the God of Abraham necessarily exists outside of time and space.

    The better question will be if I flip this coin, will it come up either head or tails, or will it bring about the rapture. The Atheist will put his money on 50% heads, 50% tails, 0% Christian fundamentalist prophecy.


PLEASE NOTE: The Atheist Experience has moved to a new location, and this blog is now closed to comments. To participate in future discussions, please visit

This blog encourages believers who disagree with us to comment. However, anonymous comments are disallowed to weed out cowardly flamers who hide behind anonymity. Commenters will only be banned when they've demonstrated they're nothing more than trolls whose behavior is intentionally offensive to the blog's readership.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.