New outdoor game: geohashing

The comic xkcd suggested way to construct a daily location for each 1 degree of latitude and longitude, where enthusiasts can meet up. I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’m going to quote the wiki:

xkcd comic #426, published on 21 May 2008, contains an algorithm that generates random coordinates around the world every day. Everyone in a given region gets the same set of coordinates. As such, these coordinates can be used as destinations for adventures, à la Geocaching, or for local meetups.

Every day, the algorithm generates a new set of coordinates for each 1°×1° latitude/longitude zone (known as a graticule) in the world. They are randomly placed — they could be in the forest, in a city, on a mountain, or even in the middle of a lake! You can use this wiki to document the daily coordinates (geohashes) you’ve been to.

Unless you can accurately predict the stock market down to the penny, you can’t figure out what the coordinates will be ahead of time. You can first calculate a weekday’s coordinates at about 9:30am ET, and on Friday you can calculate the coordinates for each day that weekend.

When visiting geohash locations, please respect the area you are visiting. Absolutely do not litter or otherwise disturb the natural integrity of the area. However, if possible, creating some kind of a marker out of nearby materials (i.e. cairn of stones, … ‘stick figures’, etc.) is encouraged….

Official xkcd meetups

Official xkcd meetups happen every Saturday afternoon at that day’s normal geohash coordinates. All meetups start at 4:00pm* (local destination time). If you go at these times, you might encounter other readers of xkcd. Bring games!

In such cases when it is unwise to attempt to access the generated coordinates, the Saturday meetup is postponed until a day when the algorithm provides a more suitable location. Alternatively, when the coordinates fall within a body of water, you can rent a boat and win the Water Geohash achievement.

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The real-world context of evangelical realism

Evangelical Realism blog points out that if one keeps a real-world context for apologetics — and notes that gods and goddesses do not show up in any meaningful way in the real world and can’t be detected — then it’s not so easy just to pick the prettiest sounding idea.

The real world context of apologetics is this: God does not show up in the real world, in any literal, objectively true sense of the expression “to show up.” He does not manifest visibly, tangibly, or audibly, nor does He interact with reality in any way that would allow us to verify the interaction and/or His connection to it. Atheists and agnostics have been pointing out this kind of thing for centuries, but the common Christian-vs-atheist debate tends not to deal too much with the inevitable consequences of God’s absence, which are tremendously important and which make the debate very uncomfortable for the believer.

For example, in God’s absence, our sole source(s) of information about God are the stories, superstitions and subjective feelings of men. This means, for example, that it is not possible for anyone to have faith in God, since the only available option is to believe in the stories that ordinary men tell about God. That’s faith in the men, not faith in God. Believers like to think they’re doing something noble by defending their faith, as though they were defending God, but if the RWC is that God is absent and that all faith is faith in men, then the nobility rather evaporates. You can think you’re making a sacrifice by denying the plain facts in favor of a vocal and unshakable faith, but if your faith is only a baseless trust in the stories of men, in defiance of the facts, then you’re not being noble and faithful, you’re merely being stubborn, gullible and silly.

For another example, take the “God works in mysterious ways” argument. It’s all very well to argue that God is so smart He can think of answers we can’t dream of, but in the RWC of God’s absence, we’re not dealing with a God whose ways perplex us, we’re only dealing with men whose stories about God are blatantly inconsistent with what we find in the real world. If the question is “2 + 2 = x” and we come up with the solution “x = 5″, the problem is not that you are so dumb compared to God that you can’t see how 2 + 2 could equal 5, the problem is that we’ve come up with the wrong solution. So it’s important to keep the RWC in mind whenever believers start offering vague, philosophical speculations about how an infinitely wise God might be able to resolve the contradictions in the stories men tell. God’s not here; the contradictions are, and such contradictions are the hallmark of untrue stories.

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