13 03 2009

I guess for the majority of my time as a young adult I’ve been an agnostic. I think in the back of my head I’ve always been an Atheist, I’ve just been scared to admit it — not to the public, but to myself. It is true that religion can be a great comfort and there is little I fear more than my inevitable none-existence after death. That may make religious folk feel superior having that comfort and their “knowledge” that they will exist after death, but regardless, I would rather not believe a lie just to make myself feel better. I wouldn’t want to be told that my favourite sports team has won the game if they had in fact lost. I hate most sports, but anyway, the point is that I am more content during my life as an atheist, even if that means letting go of the concept of an afterlife. Regardless, I think that everybody, even Christians, fear death so lol @ dat.

I am way too lazy to type out an entire argument against God because I have nobody to debate with on a blog and I’d be repeating myself having had such debates before both on and offline. It is probably my favourite internet debate not only because the existence of God is probably the biggest question of all time but because it often brings forth some of the best and the worst and certainly the most stupid of people. So In this blog post, I am going to post excerpts of my arguments and debates from various forums because, as I said, I’m too lazy to entirely write them out again. I’ll likely repeat myself here too as I’ve said similar things to numerous people on multiple forums.

If anybody is curious as to why I turned “full Atheist” the answer is simply that due to the advent of the internet, debates like this can exist more openly and I can readily seek out knowledge and answers. The success of people such as Richard Dawkins not only helps to cement my stance but they actively made me think about the subject, and not vaguely dismiss it in my head. A lot of my arguments probably seem Dawkins-like because, well, they make sense. And he is the one that made me logically think and conclude that God very likely doesn’t exist which is, believe it or not, quite a radical change in ones mind from “God might exist”.

The first time I entered a religious thread, it was more tongue-in-cheek if anything. There was no real debate I was just having fun with the question. The question posed by the thread starter was:

If there was a God, what would be the first question you’d ask him after you passed?” to which I replied:

I’d say “Hey God, why are you such a vague bastard? I understand that you need to be believed, which takes faith and not proof, but in this modern world of science a belief in you seems more than ridiculous. That does not make us Atheists evil, but logical, so why deny yourself to be a part of our lives; instead hoping that we will seek you, a guy whom the existence of appears to be literally preposterous. I understand that by your terribly dated and unfair “rules” I am to be sent to my eternal torture for simply having an open mind, so I’d just like to know why you not only hide your existence from us, leaving behind the worlds poorest sign in the form of a book of fairy tales, but also give us no reason to have faith in you — living in a world full of pain and anguish caused largely through religious and natural acts which surely could be prevented by your “good” self (I’d say that last part sarcastically and ironically as an omnipotent God would know of my sarcastic intent)”.

I would then refuse to ask for forgiveness as I have done nothing morally wrong, and instead ask for him to ask me for forgiveness. I’d then explain that I would have asked for forgiveness, but an omnipotent God would see through my plastic begging as a simple way to try and blag my way into Heaven. I’d use ‘please‘ and ‘thank you‘ to show him my well mannered ways, and explain that I actually bought CD’s and DVD’s despite my collection of pirated material. I’d then apologise for wasting his time by talking as he already knows what I’m going to say and then I’d inquire about how many forgiven rapists have repented their way into Heaven while I sit and talk semantics. I’d ask how he could possibly be talking to all of the other people that have just died — there could not possibly be a queue, it would be never ending. At this point I will have re-convinced myself that this whole thing is absolutely ludicrous, full of whimsical pre-science smoke and mirrors and that even as a story or fairy tale, it is a bad one. I’d kick God in the balls and wake up from my dream, or, if I’m in some sort of coma, I’d probably run away giggling. If I’m dead, then this wouldn’t have happened unless it is some sort of reaction in my brain to my death before it finally shuts down (similar to the scientific reasoning for “seeing the light”). At this point I will fade out and re-enter the state I once was before my parents conceived me. It is a presently sad and empty state to think about, being nothing at all, but an unfortunately inevitable one. As comforting as the thought of an after life may seem, comfort does not provide logic or proof, so I’ll unfortunately have to stick with the hard, cold truth. Bugger.

As I said, this didn’t — and wasn’t intended to — spark debate. The replies ranged from “That was beautiful icon_cry.gif” to “WINRAR”.

The second question I came across was a thread asking,

What evidence is there that one [a god] doesnt exist?” to which I replied:

It is totally all on you to prove that he does exist. You are claiming his existence, not me, therefore I have to prove nothing. If I tell you that there is a Unicorn orbiting the planet right now, it is not your job to prove to me that there isn’t one. Logic tells you that there isn’t; it’s a given. It’s my job to prove to you that there really is one. Christianity — which is about as believable as an orbiting Unicorn — must be proven to be true by the people that believe. They’re you’re claims, not mine. So tell me, why does God exist and why is it that you believe in a Christian God and not Zeus, Thor or Allah? Had you been brought up anywhere else in the world, you’d be believing in a different God, so doesn’t that tell you that your God is part of a societal tradition and heritage and not a belief through pure faith?

Another poster followed up with,

After a long discussion with a friend of mine (who was agnostic), he said that since I didn’t say 100% positive that God doesn’t exist, that would therefore make me an agnostic. My cousin, who’s an atheist, agreed with what my friend said. So that was always my standard for the difference between atheism and agnosticism.” to which I replied:

You can never 100% prove that something doesn’t exist. If nobody has ever seen it, all we can say is that it is really likely that something doesn’t exist. Nobody can say that Fairies and Unicorns 100% don’t exist, but that isn’t a basis for believing in them, nor to even think “they might exist” (Are you Unicorn Agnostic?). It is simply easier to assume that they do not, as the likelihood of them existing is so tiny. If you don’t believe in God because you really think it’s very unlikely that there is one then you are an Atheist. If you don’t know if you believe or not because you don’t feel that there is enough evidence either way, you are an agnostic. But like I’ve said, there will never be evidence that will totally disprove the existence of a fairy, but to be fairy agnostic seems silly — “of course they don’t exist. They’re made up in stories“. Well, Atheists feel the same way about religion. An almighty God? Prayer? Miracles? Just as ridiculous as a fairy.

Somebody then asked, “God doesn’t exist? And yet, no one knows what caused the Big Bang!” to which I replied:

God has been used to explain a lot of things throughout history, from Earthquakes to the weather. It makes absolutely no sense to get to a point where we are stumped (what caused the Big Bang?) tothen just say “… it must have been God“. It’s not only lazy to fill sciences gaps with God, it is an insult to the science and theory.

Not to mention that if the Big Bang is so complex that it could only have began with a God, then that God would have to be even more complex than that which he created. What created him? If you just assume God is infinite, then why can’t we assume that the Universe is also infinite? Is there some sort of rule that only Gods can be infinite and capable of creation? Why can’t the Universe be on a constant expanding/collapsing cycle. Which is more rational to assume? Certainly not the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent deity. And why did it take an all-powerful God 6 days to create the Earth? I’m not impressed.

An actual debater then stepped up, not just somebody who asked a question but didn’t have the capacity to reply to my answers.

Sorry, but i have to bring up a technicality on this burden of proof business that always ticks me off: if somebody is making a definite statement that “God does not exist” they are making a positive claim (which is not agnosticism, btw). They are making a definite statement. As such these people do hold a burden of proof. Therefore, if you maintain that “God does not exist” you have just as much of a burden to prove your statement as a theist does in saying “God does exist”. The only possible negative statement in this case is the statement of “i don’t know”. Anything that falls either side of that is an assertion of a belief and therefore a positive claim.

It really irks me when atheists claim they don’t hold any burden of proof while claiming that god does not exist. It’s completely illogical.” to which I replied:

No. The claim “God does not exist” did not spring out of nowhere. It is a direct reply to the idea that “God does exist”. The claim is based on disproving Christianity. So it is the job of Christianity to prove that God does exist, not our job to prove otherwise. If it wasn’t for religion, the debate wouldn’t exist and there would be no “God does not exist” point of view. It is the opposing view created in response to the claims of your text. Since it is a statement in response to something, it is not our job to prove or disprove the original statement; “A god exists”, it is your job to prove that your statement holds weight.

The logic you are using could be used against anything. Purple Panda’s from the planet Clitoris do not exist. Well of course they  don’t, and the burden is not on me to disprove them. If somebody claimed such a thing existed, it would be entirely up to them to prove that and not up to the rest of the world to prove otherwise.

He replied with:

I never said it was up to the rest of the world to prove theists wrong. All i’ve said is that if hard-lined atheists wish their claims to be taken as absolute fact they need to prove said claims. The fact that the proof of their claims would negate the existence of god is incidental.” to which I replied:

Actually, you’d have trouble finding many Atheists claim that his or her claims are fact, and that God 100% does not exist. If that makes everybody Agnostic, so be it. It, like everything, comes down to likelihood. Like fairies and Unicorns, we cannot prove that God does not exist, but like God the likelihood of them existing is so slim that a belief in them, or even an agnostic stance, seems silly. Why is the existence of God unlikely? Well, there isn’t a shred of evidence supporting the claims of any religion. The ideas, morals and stories in the bible are those of simpler times and are terribly dated. Christianity picks and chooses which parts of the religion they choose to follow. They follow a set of man-made rules and morals, using nicely picked out text from a book to justify it and ignoring anything in the book which makes them uncomfortable.

The idea of a God and his abilities has no foundation or logic in any kind of scientific way. Atheists have for years tried to explain things purely with science. They have made vast steps over the last century or two with the theories of Evolution and the Big Bang which take us one step further to fully understanding a Godless universe and for it to legitimately make sense. We haven’t created baseless ideas, child-like fairy tales and beliefs stemming from nothing but pure faith likely based on your country/family heritage and upbringing. And that’s without even mentioning the fact that there are dozens of God‘s and religions with absolutely no indication nor evidence as to which is a one true God or the correct path. Again, blind faith dependent on which country you are brought up in and your race.

So, while I cannot tell you that God does not exist, nor prove it to you, I can show you using facts and logic how likely it is that he doesn’t and how a belief in a Godless universe is not only possible, but logical and likely.

He then ended the debate by saying that he understood and respected my point but disagreed.

I think this post is long enough as is. That was a selection from one forum and I could easily go on. I haven’t even touched on the people that think we have no morals and that evolution is a lie. Maybe I’ll keep those for a post in the future.


Streaming media to the Xbox 360 from Windows 7.

6 03 2009

Edit: Before I start this post I would just like to point out that the new Windows 7 beta, version 7057, has fully fixed this error. Streaming works perfectly. The best thing to do would be to upgrade to that newer version. Your current Windows 7 beta code will still activate it. If you don’t want to upgrade or can’t and are sticking with Windows 7 7000 and want to try and fix streaming, continue with the post…

I haven’t really done a tutorial or anything like this before, but this has been bugging me and my housemates for a good while and after multiple searches I haven’t once came across a fix. Today I successfully streamed my AVI files from my Windows 7 beta computer to my Xbox 360 without the use of Windows Media Centre which, on the Xbox 360, is about as fast as an asthmatic slug with a salt hat. It also suffers from frequent freezing, crashing and audio sync issues. In Vista, this was not an issue. Windows Media Player 11 allowed the streaming of most media files to be played straight from the 360 dashboard. In Windows 7 however this was limited to WMV and MPEG files leaving the aforementioned 360 Media Centre as the only option.

Since nothing has changed on the 360 and I couldn’t see how it could be an issue with the Windows 7 architecture, the problem had to be the new Windows Media Player 12 beta. It’s sharing system is slightly different, and being a beta it is bound to have issues anyway. Unfortunately the standard Windows Media 11 download is not built for Windows 7. After quite a bit of searching I found a hacked Windows Media Player 11 which is designed to work for Windows 7. I should also note that while this worked flawlessly for me it didn’t work for my housemate, so it isn’t a guaranteed fix. He is, however, no worse off than he was so it’s at very least worth a try unless you have a great passion for the 12th incarnation of WMP and a vast hatred for the 11th (…they’re virtually identical). Before continuing with my tutorial, I will post an alternative method which is much easier to try out which I recommend thanks to a comment from TomestoneX. You can do this with your current version of Windows Media Player 12 that comes with Windows 7.

1. Add media to your library. Right click the ‘Video’ section of the library in the list to the left and add the folders containing your files or alternatively click ‘Organise’ – ‘Manage Libraries’ – ‘Video’ and add your media containing folders there.

2. Allow streaming by clicking ‘Stream’ and then ‘More streaming options’. Enable streaming if it asks, find the 360 in the list and click ‘Customise’ then instead of having ‘Default’ selected, select ‘Make all of the media in my library available to this device’.

3. It should be working now but just to be sure find all of the folders on the computer you want to share manually, right click on them, then ‘properties’ then the ‘sharing’ tab and click the ‘Share…’ button. Select ‘Everyone’ from the drop down list, then click ‘Add’ and ‘Share’. Do this for every folder you wish to share.

If this method doesn’t work, then try my method which is a bit more lengthy and will result in you replacing Windows Media Player 12 with Windows Media Player 11.

This only appears to work on the 32 bit versions of Windows 7 and will replace WMP12 with WMP11.

1. Firstly download Windows Media Player 11 for Windows 7.

2. Secondly, type services.msc into the start bar search, right click and open as administrator.

3. Find ‘Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service‘, right click and ‘Stop’.

3.5. The next step involves taking ownership of several files. This can be an unnecessarily long procedure in Windows 7 so you may want to install this ‘Take Ownership’ registry entry which will allow you to take ownership of files and folders by right clicking on them and clicking the new ‘Take Ownership’ menu button. If that doesn’t work, try this ‘Take Control’ program. These are not necessary but they’ll certainly help to speed up the process.

4. Take Ownership of the following files:

All files in “Program Files\Windows Media Player\” folder

All Files starting with “wmp” in the “Windows\System32\” folder
And wmploc.dll.mui in “Windows\System32\en-us\” folder

5. Now install the previously downloaded ‘Windows Media Player 11 for windows 7‘ but don’t restart upon completion of installation.

6. Type RegEdit into the start menu search, right click and open as administrator. Delete the following registry key: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Setup\Installed Versions”. As always it is better to have a backup of your registry before tampering with it.

This next step may not be necessary, but it is something I did and it’s always nice to have anyway.

7. Download and install the ‘Windows 7 Codec Pack’.

8. Restart your computer and voila!

You should all know these next steps if you’ve shared media previously via Vista, but for people completely new to this…

Open up Windows Media Player 11 and add all of your media to the library. Right click ‘Library’ and click ‘Media Sharing’. Make sure your Xbox 360 and any other device you want to share with is allowed. If your 360 isn’t there, turn it on and make sure it’s connected to the network.

Find any folders on your system with media you want to share. Right click on the folder and click properties. Click ‘Sharing’ and then ‘Share…’. Select ‘Everyone’ from the drop down list and click ‘Add’ followed by ‘Share’. This folder will now be shared with the 360 and should appear in the ‘Video’ section of the dashboard/NXE. Do this for all folders you wish to share.

If your computer is not appearing on your 360, make sure to turn ‘Media Sharing’ on in the ‘Network and Sharing Centre’.

Hope this helps!