Nick Matzke posted Entry 1909 on January 12, 2006 06:34 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1904

Kenneth Miller, the lead-off expert witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover, is the guest on The Colbert Report tonight on Comedy Central. The show airs at 11:30 pm EST and PST, and rebroadcasts several times the following day, e.g. 7:30 pm I believe.

Every day this week, Stephen Colbert has been mentioning the fact that the word “truthiness”, which he invented, became the official 2005 Word of the Year declared by the American Dialect Society. Considering the relationship of “Truthiness” and the also-ran Word of the Year, “intelligent design” (a runner-up in the “Most Outrageous” category, although the category “Most Euphemistic” seems appropriate also) is rather entertaining. According to the ADS, “truthiness” is defined as “the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” I can’t think of a better word to describe ID…

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Comment #70800

Posted by jay boilswater on January 12, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

To paraphrase our “Faith based” leadership:

Sometimes you have to go with the concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.

Comment #70834

Posted by Amory on January 12, 2006 8:35 PM (e)

Re: Comment #70800

Which is exactly why Intelligent Design does not belong in a science curriculum. There is absolutely no merit to it as a scientific, factual concept. Put it in a philosophy, religous, or world studies type curriculum, hell create a class of its own - but keep it out of the realm of science.

Comment #70864

Posted by Ritchie Annand on January 12, 2006 9:29 PM (e)

Two of my favourites together on one show!

If you haven’t seen Kenneth Miller’s presentations, you’ve missed a lot. This man has got some pretty good cajones on him. I was hoping the Case U format was actually going to be a debate, but the presentation and Q&A resulting from Dembski’s no-show was excellent watching anyhow.

*laugh* I do get a kick out of Colbert’s manufactured “persona” - a satire within a satire. Sometimes he can be fluffy on the interview; other times not.

I plan on staying up late to watch it :)

Comment #70884

Posted by Lixivium on January 12, 2006 10:20 PM (e)

Too bad Ken Miller couldn’t be on the Daily Show instead. Stephen Colbert is horrible at interviews; he needs to learn to shut up and let the guest talk.

Comment #70885

Posted by BDeller on January 12, 2006 10:20 PM (e)

Lets hope the ID folks have many years of “Runner up” both in euphamestic labels for creationism and court battles!

Comment #70886

Posted by shiva on January 12, 2006 10:21 PM (e)

Ken Miller has all the pizzaz of a person who has absolutely nothing to hide and is modest to a fault. I don’t have cable but I am sure I will get to watch the “news”cast one of these days.

Comment #70887

Posted by Albion on January 12, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

If Ken Miller would write another book, he’d be invited onto the Daily Show in a minute! Most of the guests there seem to be pushing their latest book or movie these days.

Comment #70901

Posted by Brian McEnnis on January 12, 2006 11:35 PM (e)

Jeff McKee wrote:

I don’t care if she accosts me again at another Board of Education meeting with this simple message, I’ll say it anyway:
she is a liar.

I don’t know if this has come out before, but Jeff was the target of a vicious personal attack at the board meeting. He was there as the official representative of the Senate of The Ohio State University, and after presenting the Senate’s official position on the lesson plan was blindsided by Deborah Owens Fink.

She produced an email that Jeff had written and she misrepresented its contents to imply that Jeff was advocating physical violence on his opponents. (Can anyone say Mirecki?) Another creationist on the board (Michael Cochran) joined in on the attack. Jeff was blindsided and left almost speechless. There was a stunned silence in the room as Jeff struggled to find words to respond. He was far more composed than I would have been.

Jeff was followed by a student who was harassed by Cochran.

When I got up to speak, I was furious and let them have it with both barrels. I will be back next month.

The details of Jeff’s attack appeared on the Discovery Institute website within a few hours. Headline: In Ohio Darwinist Admits Plan to Burn Evolution Critics. I will not provide a link; I will not contaminate this site with even that much of this vile pollution.

I suspect that Debbie, Cochran, and DI conspired together to launch this attack.

If you want to protest Jeff’s treatment, or ask them how they got their hands on Jeff’s email, or how the DI learned about Debbie’s performance in Ohio, contact them at:

Deborah Owens Fink
Michael Cochran

BTW: I usually post as McE. This time, I’m uncloaking.

Brian McEnnis

Comment #70902

Posted by karen on January 12, 2006 11:39 PM (e)

If Ken Miller would write another book, he’d be invited onto the Daily Show in a minute! Most of the guests there seem to be pushing their latest book or movie these days.

Good news: he is writing another book!

Comment #70903

Posted by Ubernatural on January 12, 2006 11:50 PM (e)

Colbert was the… perfect. straight. man.

Comment #70905

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 11:56 PM (e)

Brian, I’m not shocked by the behavior of folks like Ms. Fink (how appropriate her name is). Standard political tactics engaged in by the right since the neocons started trying to take power in the late 70’s.

swiftboating has become quite a successful tactic.

It doesn’t make it any better tho.

What never ceases to shock me though, is that after pulling this kind of stunt, they invariably STILL claim the moral “high ground”.

and what disgusts me to the utmost extent, to the extent I’m working on leaving the US as we speak, is that most Americans let them get away with this crap.

Comment #70906

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 11:59 PM (e)

… the audience in attendance at that meeting should have raised an immediate stink about Fink’s behavior, and demanded an immediate halt to any further proceedings until her claims could be investigated and shown to be what they are.

but… other than a brief moment of silence, what did the audience actually do, Brian?

did they side with your correct indignation at such low tactics?

or did they just sit and watch the show.

I’m genuinely curious to know.

Comment #70912

Posted by Tiax on January 13, 2006 12:29 AM (e)

Loved it.

Comment #70913

Posted by Brian McEnnis on January 13, 2006 12:29 AM (e)

I accidentally posted my comment #70901on the wrong thread. I’ll repost it where it belongs - on Intelligent Design on CNN.

Sir Toejam - I’ll respond over there.

Comment #70914

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 12:33 AM (e)

sounds good.

Comment #70933

Posted by Hyperion on January 13, 2006 1:43 AM (e)

I would have simply asked Mrs. Fink why she was reading my emails, and inform her that if she did not seek help for her stalker tendencies, I should get a restraining order. Turn the topic from her misrepresentation of the email to the issue of how she obtained the email itself.

Comment #70939

Posted by raj on January 13, 2006 2:01 AM (e)

Saw the Prof. Miller segment on the Colbert Report. It was excellent. I have read most of the papers on his miller&devine web site but I have never heard him speak. As I mentioned on another comment thread here, I have seen Ed Brayton praise him to the hilt, and now I know why. Prof. Miller is affable, and not overbearing, but also authoritative. (The last from his papers, not his TV appearance)

One thing that I found interesting is that Colbert and Prof. Miller did get into Prof. Miller’s Catholicism and evolution. I really do believe that things like that are very important–to reconcile evolution with peoples’ religious beliefs so that they do not reject it out of hand. And Prof. Miller handled it in a very good way.

I suspect, but cannot prove, that the host (Colbert) and the guest (Prof. Miller) work out the dialogue ahead of time. And Prof. Miller would certainly have known that he was appearing on a comedy show.

Working upthread, regarding the comment about the contrast with the Jon Stewart show, I believe that they are produced by the same production company (the tie-in should be obvious). Yes, most of Jon Stewart’s guests seem to be politicians or people pushing movies or books. And that’s why I often tune out after the first quarter hour. I haven’t figured out the nature of the guests on the Colbert Report, but I have watched some of them. Including Prof. Miller.

Comment #70947

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 2:51 AM (e)

Colbert: “I don’t get flu shots; they’re too sciencey”

Miller: “perhaps too ‘truthy’?”

~later~

colbert: “would you come back and explain this whole, sun-doesn’t-go-around-the-earth thing?”

not bad.

Comment #70957

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 5:13 AM (e)

raj wrote:

… things like that are very important—to reconcile evolution with peoples’ religious beliefs so that they do not reject it out of hand.

But what happens when we do discover something that rocks the boat of religious belief? Does religion have to trump science?

Some people who call themselves “Christian” are okay with evolution, but are other Christians going to be okay with them when they discover how different their Christianity and Catholicism are?

Miller talked about a “smarter”(?) God who sets up a process instead of one that gets involved and designs every little thing. Problem is, that’s not the God described by the Bible who does get involved in little things like men’s lives.

Comment #70966

Posted by the pro from dover on January 13, 2006 6:48 AM (e)

God involves himself in men’s lives not by manipulating all the quarks and leptons like some great cosmic puppeteer but rather thru a purely spiritual mechanism not amenable to empiric investigation. This is why the majority of Christians have no issues with evolution or other theories but may have major issues with the application of the technology developed from them.

Comment #70973

Posted by ben on January 13, 2006 7:26 AM (e)

God involves himself in men’s lives not by manipulating all the quarks and leptons like some great cosmic puppeteer but rather thru a purely spiritual mechanism not amenable to empiric investigation

Says you. I think bere likelihood and relevance of either scenario is exactly the same. I’m thinking of a number, a very small number. A small, small, round number…..zero.

Mental masturbation.

Comment #70975

Posted by Steverino on January 13, 2006 7:48 AM (e)

Pro,

Don’t like science?….Don’t use it!

Rely on your beliefs for transportation, communication, education…or anything else that involves day to day living.

See how far the science of faith gets you.

Comment #70979

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 13, 2006 8:05 AM (e)

Um, in case no one noticed, Pro is on our side.

Or do we just intend to provoke yet another pointless war between theists and atheists … ?

Comment #70980

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

Steverino wrote:

See how far the science of faith gets you.

Yikes! Lets not do another religious war. I just asked a question.

However, “the pro from dover” does seem to miss the point of my question. “A purely spiritual mechanism not amenable to empiric investigation” is not just safely unfalsifiable and unscientific, it is also still a god getting involved in petty details. And what science has shown us is that man is a petty detail in this universe – a scum of life on a tiny grain of sand on a universal beach so vast it’s sands are greater than all the beaches of Earth. And we’ve existed for a fraction of a second in eternity and genetic drift will carry our ancestors into new forms before another second passes.

If the majority of Christians have no issues with evolution or other theories then they don’t seem to grasp the implications.

So, god created all this – and now he even gives a shit about your sex life, gay marriage, embryonic stem cells, democracy and capitalism? It’ll all going to be gone in a relative second anyway here on this speck of dust we call Earth.

The god of Christians and the Bible is too small for the universe science has shown us.

Comment #70983

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 8:38 AM (e)

The god of Christians and the Bible is too small for the universe science has shown us.

That’s the God YOU comprehend, Norman, based on bits of the Bible that you cherrypicked, took out of context, and declared “central.” It is most certainly NOT the God the rest of us comprehend.

Your understanding of spirituality is no stronger than an IDer’s understanding of the basic concepts of science. You really ought to try to get out more, and stop going out of your way to insult your allies in this important political struggle.

Comment #70986

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 8:55 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

That’s the God YOU comprehend, Norman, based on bits of the Bible that you cherrypicked, took out of context, …

You guys make a lot of claims about your “advanced spirituality” that sounds like so much obfuscation and also about my limitations – let’s see you back them up.

Show me a part of the Bible I haven’t cherry picked that would actually resonate with the universe science has discovered.

Show me you actually comprehend anything through “spirituality” instead of just bragging.

Comment #70993

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 9:06 AM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 08:55 AM (e) (s)


You guys make a lot of claims about your “advanced spirituality” that sounds like so much obfuscation and also about my limitations — let’s see you back them up.

Show me a part of the Bible I haven’t cherry picked that would actually resonate with the universe science has discovered.

Show me you actually comprehend anything through “spirituality” instead of just bragging.

I can’t, yet I am not going to deny belief in God.
Is there a reason for your rage?

Deja vu…all over again.

Comment #70997

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 9:11 AM (e)

You’re demanding WE show our comprehension? That’s rich, coming from someone who goes on at ridiculous length about a passage about snakes and completely ignores, not only the wisdom of Jesus, but a colossal mass of divine wisdom from Bhuddism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Paganism, Shintoism, and Gods-know-what else (pardon the pun).

Divine wisdom is not just about “the universe science has discovered;” it’s mostly about the universes within our hearts and minds, and how those inner universes interact with the big one outside. It’s subjective and largely unprovable and un-falsifiable. (That’s why it’s NOT SCIENCE and CAN’T BE TAUGHT AS SCIENCE, remember?)

I used to believe as you do – back when I was twelve. Then puberty came along, and my perspective began to change and deepen. It’s still changing.

We can’t do your homework for you here. It’s up to you to get out and listen to people who have experienced things you haven’t. Trust me on this: spirituality is no less real, no less relevant, and no less important in a balanced life, for being immaterial. And when you start to understand this, the orgasms get better…

Comment #70998

Posted by ben on January 13, 2006 9:13 AM (e)

we just intend to provoke yet another pointless war between theists and atheists?

Not particularly.

But have you noticed that every religious war starts with a statement in the form, “god is X”?

I won’t say it if you won’t.

Comment #70999

Posted by JAllen on January 13, 2006 9:14 AM (e)

Here is a link to Comedy Central’s website:

The Colbert Report - Celebrity Interviews

Not yet updated, though I would expect that the Miller interview will be up tomorrow if not later today.

Comment #71000

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 9:14 AM (e)

PS: if you want to see how real, uplifting, and powerful sincere spirituality can be, try a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

Comment #71002

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 9:20 AM (e)

There does seem to be a lot of theist bashing/attacks by the hard left atheists. Seems like some latent irrational hostility there that they aren’t willing to address.

What happened to the live & let live, we don’t interfere with your spiritual beliefs and we don’t interfere with yours? Is that just lip service to the Constitution? Do you plan to use the same strategies as the fundamentalists - every belief is acceptable (as long as everyone believes the same as you)?

Comment #71003

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 9:21 AM (e)

It is the religious fundies that claim that religion is science. Ask them to provide empirical evidence.

OTOH. Trying to use scientific knowledge to disprove God seems to be as daft (or at least in the same ball-park).

Comment #71006

Posted by yellow fatty bean on January 13, 2006 9:26 AM (e)

A nice tidbit from the “Words of the Year” link:

folksonomy: a taxonomy created by an ad-hoc group of non-experts

Reminded me of “kinds”.

Comment #71007

Posted by ben on January 13, 2006 9:29 AM (e)

There does seem to be a lot of theist bashing/attacks by the hard left atheists

Who brings up religion and judges others by theirs? Atheists? There wouldn’t even be the word ‘atheist’ if it weren’t for theists’ efforts to impose their beliefs and worldview on everyone.

Like I said, keep the statement “god is X” out of your mouth, I’ll keep it out of mine, and I promise we’ll never have to worry about any “theist bashing” ever again.

Comment #71011

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 9:33 AM (e)

Who brings up religion and judges others by theirs? Atheists?

Actually, yes.

Comment #71012

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 9:36 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

That’s rich, coming from someone who goes on at ridiculous length about a passage about snakes and completely ignores, not only the wisdom of Jesus, but a colossal mass of divine wisdom from Bhuddism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Paganism, Shintoism, and Gods-know-what else (pardon the pun).

Umm, you don’t know what I think, believe, or have studied. In fact (based upon the ignorance displayed in your postings on this subject) you don’t know what my religion teaches.

I have read Taoist, Buddhist, Jewish, and Pagan teachings and am close friends to people that practice those religions (plus Atheists, Muslim, and Hindu) too. That you think just because someone belongs to one religion means they can’t read, understand, & play nicely with people from other religions proves you are entirely ignorant of the matter. You are as clueless about religion as fundamentalists are clueless about science.

I recommend in the future that you either read about and try to comprehend these subjects or just avoid posting on them again. Your ignorance is *embarrassingly complete*!

Help! I’m being repressed! Notice the violence inherent in the system!

Comment #71013

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 9:40 AM (e)

Raging Bee,

I sincerely apologize. I hammered you for a position that you don’t hold (I intended it for Ben).

Please accept my apologies!

Comment #71014

Posted by ben on January 13, 2006 9:43 AM (e)

Jim, what does your post have to do with anything I said? Why did you quote RB in trying to “hammer” me? I must be missing something.

Comment #71015

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 9:43 AM (e)

ben wrote:

Who brings up religion and judges others by theirs? Atheists? There wouldn’t even be the word ‘atheist’ if it weren’t for theists’ efforts to impose their beliefs and worldview on everyone.

Like I said, keep the statement “god is X” out of your mouth, I’ll keep it out of mine, and I promise we’ll never have to worry about any “theist bashing” ever again.

As far as I can tell, this whole issue started with Norman’s comment-70957. Perhaps you should admonish the actual culprit rather than those you oppose for starting it.

Comment #71018

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 9:49 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Is there a reason for your rage?

Yes. I don’t like being lied to by pretentious and arrogant frauds, and Raging Bee strikes me as such.

Raging Bee wrires:

You’re demanding WE show our comprehension?

You should. I think you’re a fraud who makes large general claims you can’t back up.

… coming from someone who goes on at ridiculous length about a passage about snakes…

Snakes? I went on about the Midianites and I mentioned the Bible had talking snakes and the handling of poison snakes but I didn’t go “on and on” about it.

…and completely ignores, not only the wisdom of Jesus…

That’s a claim; “the Bible has the wisdom of Jesus.” You might point to something simple like “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and I’m going to say that’s not really all that wise – it’s trite and ambiguous and it’s not really “spiritual” – it’s more like pop psychology advice.

… a colossal mass of divine wisdom from Bhuddism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Paganism, Shintoism, and Gods-know-what else …

I like the Buddhist stories, how when the Buddha was young his father was told that his son would either be a great king or a spiritual leader – if he saw death or suffering before he became a man he’d be a religious leader and so his father tries to hide all that from him and he lives in an unreal world where death and suffering don’t seem to exist and so when he sees it for the first time it’s a real shock to his system.

I don’t consider that spiritual – I consider that psychological, an insight into the human condition. A story of the illusions of childhood lost. Is it wise? Perhaps as wise as most stories get and I’ve never denied it. But it doesn’t prove anything supernatural or spiritual.

It’s just art and all very human.

And bringing up other religions is not evidence of your Christianity. Buddhists have a very different conception of gods.

Comment #71023

Posted by AC on January 13, 2006 10:09 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I used to believe as you do — back when I was twelve. Then puberty came along, and my perspective began to change and deepen. It’s still changing.

That’s very interesting. When I was twelve, I was a young Christian (because of my parents). By the time I finished high school, I was a deist. By the time I finished college, I didn’t see any use for a concept of God other than comforting people. At this point, I really wish people would just stop wasting so much time with it and do something useful instead. You know, useful outside their own minds. Useful for something other than personal comfort or ego-stroking. Useful in the mutually-observable world.

P.S. You call it “divine wisdom”. If you mean “sublime”, and are using “divine” because that is what believers call it, then sure. But if you mean that some thoughts men think are not their own, and are inspired or planted in some way by God, I see no reason to believe that.

Comment #71027

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 10:16 AM (e)

Norman wrote:

You might point to something simple like “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and I’m going to say that’s not really all that wise — it’s trite and ambiguous and it’s not really “spiritual” — it’s more like pop psychology advice.

So you quote a bit of divine wisdom, then brush it off as “pop psychology advice.” You don’t actually prove it WRONG or USELESS, nor do you offer any alternative wisdom of your own; you just argue by labelling, pretend you’re “above” that sort of thing, and look down your nose at people who take it seriously, regardless of how such “pop psychology advice” might improve other people’s lives or behavior.

I don’t consider that spiritual — I consider that psychological, an insight into the human condition. A story of the illusions of childhood lost. Is it wise? Perhaps as wise as most stories get and I’ve never denied it. But it doesn’t prove anything supernatural or spiritual.

More argument by labelling. Labelling something “psychological” does not diminish its validity or spiritual resonance in others, and ignores the fact that the “spiritual” and “psychological” realms are often inseparable. In fact, they’re both very valuable tools for understanding the same thing – the human condition. Psychologists themselves acknowledge this, whether or not they believe in god(s) themselves.

I really don’t know how to put this more clearly: you sound exactly like a twelve-year-old know-it-all who just learned what the word “rational” means, admires Mr. Spock (and/or possibly the Borg) as a role model, and snickers with unconcealed scorn at all the kissing, hugging and other “mushy stuff” older people do. And while you’re snickering at us, we’re laughing and shaking our heads at you, becsuse we know that puberty will absolutely blindside you when it comes.

Comment #71028

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 10:18 AM (e)

jim: apology back at ya. I should have made it clear that I was responding to Norman.

Comment #71029

Posted by Moses on January 13, 2006 10:19 AM (e)

Comment #71002

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 09:20 AM (e) (s)

There does seem to be a lot of theist bashing/attacks by the hard left atheists. Seems like some latent irrational hostility there that they aren’t willing to address.

Dang, but you’re a hypocritical jerk. Look to yourself and stop projecting and pontificating like you have an answer that isn’t pre-ordained from your holy “I know it all” attitude you just flung about.

Comment #71030

Posted by Dr. Filbert on January 13, 2006 10:22 AM (e)

Jon Stewart’s interviews suck. Colbert is a much better interviewer.

Comment #71032

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 10:26 AM (e)

AC wrote:

By the time I finished college, I didn’t see any use for a concept of God other than comforting people. At this point, I really wish people would just stop wasting so much time with it and do something useful instead. You know, useful outside their own minds. Useful for something other than personal comfort or ego-stroking. Useful in the mutually-observable world.

You mean, like, sacrificing their own material comfort and safety to help people less fortunate than themselves? Like bringing food and medical help into godforsaken war-zones? Like preaching, and practicing, a moral code for people to follow in order to get along better and live more honorable lives? Or how about living our lives with a deeper understanding that there’s more to civilized life than the daily grind of meeting our material needs? Is that “useful” enough for you? People of all faiths do these sorts of things all the time, and they’re inspired to do so by the notion, in many guises, that there’s a being/law/set-of-priorities bigger and more important than their own personal wants and complaints.

Comment #71033

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 10:30 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I should have made it clear that I was responding to Norman.

And not very well, in my humble opinion.

Comment #71034

Posted by Russell on January 13, 2006 10:30 AM (e)

There does seem to be a lot of theist bashing/attacks by the hard left atheists

Yeah, what’s up with that? (Though let me be quick to disown the equation of prickly, hypersensitive, perhaps a little intolerant, with “left”).

Look. Personally, I’m an atheist. Any discussion involving “god” leaves me scratching my head, and thinking I’m going to need several pages of careful definitions before I have any idea what, if anything, is being discussed. I suspect it boils down to fallacies and fairy tales, but - and this is the important part - I really don’t care.

Neither “the pro” nor “raging bee” wrote anything I can imagine taking umbrage at. Not that I buy, or even understand, their perspective, I just see no reason to doubt their sincerity. Hence, accusations of “lying” seem to me way out of line.

As long as folks are willing to keep separate the doings of this physical world, i.e. science, from this alleged “spiritual” world, what’s it to me?

Comment #71036

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 10:37 AM (e)

Moses: jim’s comment #71002 was spot-on and not hypocritical at all. The issues covered in this blog revolve around the misrepresentation of certain religious doctrines as “science” in order to disguise/justify politicized religious discrimination. Many persons of various faiths are on the SAME SIDE as the atheists on this, and bashing the faith of people who share our priorities (on a very important issue) is ignorant and pointless and (IMHO at least) should be criticized as such.

Comment #71040

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 10:40 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

… like, sacrificing their own material comfort and safety to help people less fortunate than themselves?

None of which has anything to do with the reality of the supernatural propositions and it also suggests that this is an exclusively religious phenomena. Yet you have atheists like Bill Gates and George Soros donating millions to charity too. In fact Soros has promised to give away most of his money before he’s 80.

… a moral code for people to follow in order to get along better and live more honorable lives?

Are you suggesting that people who don’t believe in god don’t have a moral or ethical code?

People of all faiths do these sorts of things all the time,…

And so do people without any faith in gods.

Comment #71041

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 10:43 AM (e)

Russell,

I agree whole heartedly with you. As long as people’s beliefs do not adversely fringe on how I live my life, I say let them believe what they want.

I’ve never seen (moderate) religious people here attack the beliefs of the atheist personalities here.

So why do certain atheist personalities here feel it’s their right/duty to malign the theists and/or religions in their midst? Also why do they keep bringing the topic up? Are they spoiling for a fight?

If so, take it somewhere else. Their beliefs are NOT rational, scientific, and have very little basis in facts & evidence.

Comment #71042

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 10:45 AM (e)

FWIW, my beliefs are equally NOT rational, scientific, and have very little basis in facts & evidence but I freely admit it.

Comment #71044

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 10:47 AM (e)

At the risk of bodily harm. I’d like to yank this thread back on topic.

*YOINK*

Does anyone know if Ken Miller’s interview is available on the web?

Comment #71046

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 10:48 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

Neither “the pro” nor “raging bee” wrote anything I can imagine taking umbrage at.

I disagree. Raging Bee accused me of cherrypicking and taking out of context Biblical passages in an older thread, not here, and I didn’t have to cherry pick or take out of context. And then he claimed it’s not “the God the rest of us comprehend,” but I don’t really see him comprehending anything.

He also said my understanding of spirituality is no stronger than an IDer’s understanding of the basic concepts of science. I told him to back that claim up.

I think I have the right to challenge those statements.

Comment #71049

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

Who brings up religion and judges others by theirs? Atheists?

Actually, yes.

I used to believe as you do — back when I was twelve. Then puberty came along, and my perspective began to change and deepen. It’s still changing.

Are you claiming that the judgements are inaccurate? What judgemetns are you talking about? You can tell wuite a bit about a person just by having the information that he believes in Santa Claus. Like that he might be close to 12 years old for instance.

Comment #71051

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 10:59 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I used to believe as you do — back when I was twelve. Then puberty came along, and my perspective began to change and deepen. It’s still changing.

I wrote about my experiences growing up Christian here:

http://www.textfiles.com/occult/notcrst1.txt
http://www.textfiles.com/occult/notcrst2.txt

One essay mirrored here:
http://www.matarese.com/matarese-files/7386/fear-istraip-norman-doering-1992/index.html

Comment #71054

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 11:10 AM (e)

None of which has anything to do with the reality of the supernatural propositions and it also suggests that this is an exclusively religious phenomena.

If “supernatural propositions” motivate some people to do something in the real world, than they are, for all practical purposes, real, at least for those people and the people affected by their deeds. And why deny the reality of “supernatural propositions” that motivate people to do something good? Shouldn’t such “supernatural propositions” be met with respect, even by those who don’t themselves believe them?

Yet you have atheists like Bill Gates and George Soros donating millions to charity too. In fact Soros has promised to give away most of his money before he’s 80.

None of which I ever denied – or belittled, as you routinely belittle persons of faith.

Are you suggesting that people who don’t believe in god don’t have a moral or ethical code?

If you actually read what I wrote, without the irrationality you impute to others, you would see the answer is “no.”

Comment #71056

Posted by bulman on January 13, 2006 11:20 AM (e)

Shouldn’t such “supernatural propositions” be met with respect, even by those who don’t themselves believe them?

I agree that that the people should be met with respect and apologise for the tone of (and typos in) my above post. However, I feel obligated to point out that action prompted by belief does not validate that belief. I do deny “supernatural propositions”, but I also recognize the “placebo effect”.

Not all ideas deserve respect, but people should be afforded it by default.

Comment #71058

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 11:25 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

If “supernatural propositions” motivate some people to do something in the real world, than they are, for all practical purposes, real…

No, they are not. Liars and spammers motivate people to send them money for bogus products but in the end the products do not work. If someone gives to charity expecting rewards in heaven then they are getting ripped off if the propositions are false.

…why deny the reality of “supernatural propositions” that motivate people to do something good?

Because they also motivate people to do things that are bad. Why deny the reality of making a fortune with a screwy multilevel marketing scheme if the hoaxer can make money?

Shouldn’t such “supernatural propositions” be met with respect, even by those who don’t themselves believe them?

Not necessarily. They are claims about how the universe works and I want to know how the universe works and I examine propositions critically and skeptically. These are propositions I have a right to examine.

…as you routinely belittle persons of faith.

And how do I do that exactly? I have certainly called you a fraud but not because of your faith but because of your statements about me.

If you actually read what I wrote, without the irrationality you impute to others, you would see the answer is “no.”

Bullshit.

Comment #71066

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

bulman writes:

However, I feel obligated to point out that action prompted by belief does not validate that belief.

Then he adds:

Not all ideas deserve respect, but people should be afforded it by default.

How can you respect people without respecting the beliefs that motivate them to do things that earn them respect? If you don’t respect a person’s beliefs, then you are not respecting the whole person, only those parts of him that you choose to acknowledge. That’s not sincere respect. It sounds to me like you are reserving the right to thumb your nose at a person’s beliefs, intelligence and/or values, while taking for granted any good deeds they might have motivated him to do. That’s called “ingratitude,” “arrogance,” or “snobbery,” among other things.

If a belief motivates large numbers of people to do something good and necessary, then the good result does indeed tend to validate the belief, just as bad deeds would make the underlying belief look bad.

Comment #71067

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

Raging Bee:

You mean, like, sacrificing their own material comfort and safety to help people less fortunate than themselves? Like bringing food and medical help into godforsaken war-zones? Like preaching, and practicing, a moral code for people to follow in order to get along better and live more honorable lives? Or how about living our lives with a deeper understanding that there’s more to civilized life than the daily grind of meeting our material needs? Is that “useful” enough for you? People of all faiths do these sorts of things all the time, and they’re inspired to do so by the notion, in many guises, that there’s a being/law/set-of-priorities bigger and more important than their own personal wants and complaints.

People can - and do - do all the things you mention there without needing religion to ‘inspire’ them to do it. I guess I would add the following to your paragraph:

“And people with no faith do these sorts of things all the time, and they’re inspired to do so by their self imposed moral codes (that do not require a higher being/law/set-of-priorities).”

Unless you’re saying there’s no such thing as an atheist aid worker (which is like trying to say there is no such thing as a religious scientist)?

I’m not saying that religions don’t inspire people to do good deeds. But religion is not a prerequisiste to doing good.

Comment #71068

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

A god that acts through “spiritual” means, not empirical ones? Such an entity cannot be demonstrated through any amount of rational thought, observation, and experimentation. The scientific method specifically rejects assertions which cannot in principle be tested, because the truth or falsehood of such assertions can never have any consequences or implications. It literally makes no difference at all.

How far will we bend backwards to pretend faith is compatible with reason, so that people who live their lives by faith won’t reject everything we value? How much are we willing to compromise our integrity to make science palatable to those that would reject it if they actually grasp its implications? What kind of “public relations” are we willing to indulge in?

If we make science prosper by ensuring that people accept it without really understanding what it is, have we really won? That is a tactic of our enemies. To what degree are we willing to become them in order to defeat them?

Comment #71074

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

Norman has once again revealed his bigotry, and the blind spot that results from it: in his latest post, he has lumped all “supernatural propositions” together into one amorphous, undifferentiated mass, refusing to acknowledge the difference between – for just one example – believing God wants us to treat each other with compassion and respect, and believing God wants us to give money to al-Qaeda-Pat.

Just because you use the same big word to “describe” all religious beliefs, does not mean they’re really all the same in any meaningful sense. Your refusal to see the differences – which were obvious to me even in my prepube-atheist phase – renders you utterly unable to understand what’s being discussed here.

Comment #71075

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 11:46 AM (e)

Raging Bee asks:

How can you respect people without respecting the beliefs that motivate them to do things that earn them respect?

Newton deserves a lot of respect for his science, but he still had some crazy ideas about alchemy that might have inspired them. Same with other people, they have feelings, accomplishments, good ideas and bad.

Are you saying a person is their beliefs?

Are you your beliefs or is there more to you than one little set of beliefs?

Comment #71077

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 11:48 AM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 11:37 AM (e) (s)

A god that acts through “spiritual” means, not empirical ones? Such an entity cannot be demonstrated through any amount of rational thought, observation, and experimentation. The scientific method specifically rejects assertions which cannot in principle be tested, because the truth or falsehood of such assertions can never have any consequences or implications. It literally makes no difference at all.

How far will we bend backwards to pretend faith is compatible with reason, so that people who live their lives by faith won’t reject everything we value? How much are we willing to compromise our integrity to make science palatable to those that would reject it if they actually grasp its implications? What kind of “public relations” are we willing to indulge in?

If we make science prosper by ensuring that people accept it without really understanding what it is, have we really won? That is a tactic of our enemies. To what degree are we willing to become them in order to defeat them?

I think you are trying to project the standards of science onto religious belief.

IMO. That is just as silly as the fundie ID supporters trying to force religion onto science.

Different people hold all sorts of personal views. One is not necessarily better than another.

Obviously for discovering how the universe works science is best. When it comes to personal preference in none scientific issues then science does not hold sway.

We are all trying to get through this life the best way we can. I am sure everyone here wants the best for themselves and their loved ones. Your personal beliefs are no better than mine and vice-verce.

It would appear that some atheists here seem to think that their personal beliefs are superior to others. I would dispute that. The only way to judge a person is the way they behave. Not their personal religious convictions (or lack of).

Comment #71079

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 11:48 AM (e)

But religion is not a prerequisiste to doing good.

Maybe not for you or me, but, like it or not, for many people, it is. And if they need to do good, then I, for one, would not begrudge them the tools they need to do it. Expedit esse deos, et ut expedit, esse putemus.

Comment #71083

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 11:50 AM (e)

Norman Doering:

You might point to something simple like “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and I’m going to say that’s not really all that wise — it’s trite and ambiguous and it’s not really “spiritual” — it’s more like pop psychology advice.

I have to disagree with you here Norman, and I’m an atheist. My preferred variation on this one - “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a pretty good starting point for any set of morals. The Bible says it was said by Jesus. It actually appears in the Koran, the Talmud and the Analects of Confucius as well. I don’t care either way who said it first, it’s still an excellent moral philosophy, and one of the ones I have chosen to use.

Comment #71084

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 11:51 AM (e)

Newton deserves a lot of respect for his science, but he still had some crazy ideas about alchemy that might have inspired them. Same with other people, they have feelings, accomplishments, good ideas and bad.

So you see my point then. I was about to give up on you.

Comment #71086

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Well, what IS the difference between God wanting us to treat everyone with compassion and love, and God wanting us to give money to Pat Robertson?

How was this desire expressed? How was it communicated? How can we verify its source? And how can we judge the worthiness of the desire, particularly since one of those beliefs has shaped our cultural mores for centuries? We’re conditioned to consider it as “virtuous” and “morally correct” as a given.

If a person comes to us with a tale that an undetectable entity told them to love everyone, why should we apply different standards of evidence and reasoning to that claim than to the claim that an undetectable entity told them to slaughter all those who would not obey?

Comment #71087

Posted by Scott on January 13, 2006 11:53 AM (e)

All this defending and attacking of “faith”, or trying to prove or disprove something that is unprovable one way or the other. Sheeze!

I can see from these discussions where the “deists” of the Enlightenment came from. If “faith” is a personal response to the wonder of Nature, how can one honestly claim that another’s “faith” is “wrong”?

It’s sad when one’s “belief” requires (sometimes violently) that everyone else is “wrong”.

Just let it be, and everyone can get on with more fruitful discussions.

Comment #71089

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 11:55 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'blockquote'

Comment #71091

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 11:56 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Norman has once again revealed his bigotry, and the blind spot that results from it: in his latest post, he has lumped all “supernatural propositions” together…

Did I? Lumping is just putting things in a category and certainly “supernatural propositions” deserve a category. Like it or not, Black Sabbath and Bach are both in the category music.

… into one amorphous, undifferentiated mass, refusing to acknowledge the difference between…

I have not refused to acknowledge any differences. I just didn’t – it wasn’t needed.

… one example — believing God wants us to treat each other with compassion and respect, and believing God wants us to give money to al-Qaeda-Pat.

The only thing supernatural about those claims is the “god wants” part, and they are indeed equally irrational on that level. However, one can see that one task motivated helps people and the other kills them. On an affective level they are different. I don’t deny it – as over simplistic as it is.

The claim of my denial is just another of your lies.

Comment #71092

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 11:57 AM (e)

That’s called “ingratitude,” “arrogance,” or “snobbery,” among other things.

Some ideas don’t deserve respect, at all, ever, because they are bad ideas and produce bad outcomes. However, people should be afforded respect by default. By this I mean courtesy and politeness so that we can all get along. I believe it has been called the “Golden Rule” in other venues. There are very few “all or nothing” situations. By saying I have to agree with you completely on every level, issue, and belief, in order to respect you as a person who may have some value is a disingenuos false dichotomy. Respect for a person is not tied to being a clone of that person.

I have afforded you respect by default, and I now stand corrected. You have bad ideas and produce bad outcomes. Please return to a courteous discussion without chiding me for asking for the courtesy.

Comment #71093

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

Stephen Elliot wrote:

I think you are trying to project the standards of science onto religious belief.

IMO. That is just as silly as the fundie ID supporters trying to force religion onto science.

No, I’m acknowledging the truth that science and religion are mutually incompatible things.

Different people hold all sorts of personal views. One is not necessarily better than another.

When did skeptical and critical thought become a matter of “personal views”? When were statements about how the world works and what it contains removed from the category of objectivity and placed in subjectivity?

We are all trying to get through this life the best way we can. I am sure everyone here wants the best for themselves and their loved ones. Your personal beliefs are no better than mine and vice-verce.

This isn’t about comparing two personal beliefs. It’s about usually-ignorant and often-malicious people who try to pretend that objective statements of logic and fact are really just personal beliefs.

Comment #71094

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 11:59 AM (e)

Maybe not for you or me, but, like it or not, for many people, it is. And if they need to do good, then I, for one, would not begrudge them the tools they need to do it.

Sure. And I have no problem whatsoever with personal faith. People can believe whatever they like, as long as it doesn’t cause them to do harm to others.

I have problems with organised religions. I have big problems with fundamentalist people who try to force their faith into science classes and propagate lies about established science because it doesn’t agree with an over-literal reading of some old fairy tales.

Comment #71095

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:01 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

So you see my point then. I was about to give up on you.

I’m sorry, but you never made that point. I did. You’re lying again.

Comment #71096

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:02 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

And if they need to do good, then I, for one, would not begrudge them the tools they need to do it.

So as long as people do things that you approve of, they can do so by whatever methods suffice? The ends justify the means?

That moral perspective is not compatible with the scientific method or rational thought. Science and rationality specify the means, but accept whatever conclusions or results follow from those means. You can’t ask a question if you’ve already decided what the answer will be - not if you’re honest.

You’re not honest.

Comment #71097

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 13, 2006 12:02 PM (e)

How far will we bend backwards to pretend faith is compatible with reason, so that people who live their lives by faith won’t reject everything we value? How much are we willing to compromise our integrity to make science palatable to those that would reject it if they actually grasp its implications? What kind of “public relations” are we willing to indulge in?

It’s pretty amazing what I can find out about myself here. I thought I had a fair grasp on science and its implications, yet apparently I have more to learn there.

Comment #71101

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:06 PM (e)

The Creationists and ID supporters are willing to lie, slander, misrepresent, and appeal to fallacious reasoning. They are willing to do all of these things because they are convinced in the rightness of their goal, and they are willing to use whatever tools are necessary to accomplish that good, and are willing to reject whatever is incompatible with that good.

Why do we condemn this? Is it merely because we hold an opposing goal, and so are justified in condemning their strategies regardless of their merit? NO - it’s because those strategies have no merit.

You say people can believe whatever they wish, as long as they don’t cause harm to others. Well, what happens when you encounter people whose definition of ‘harm’ isn’t compatible with yours, and they attempt to act in accordance with their beliefs?

Comment #71107

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 12:09 PM (e)

I love this quote:

Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Comment #71109

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 12:11 PM (e)

Caledonian:

“You say people can believe whatever they wish, as long as they don’t cause harm to others. Well, what happens when you encounter people whose definition of ‘harm’ isn’t compatible with yours, and they attempt to act in accordance with their beliefs?”

I think that was directed at me (the first sentence is mine anyway!). And I already answered it:

“I have problems with organised religions. I have big problems with fundamentalist people who try to force their faith into science classes and propagate lies about established science because it doesn’t agree with an over-literal reading of some old fairy tales.”

Teaching religion to school children while pretending that it’s science is causing harm, by my definition.

Comment #71110

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:12 PM (e)

Bulman wrote:

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

But first there must be a mutual understanding of where the nose actually does end. If that objective reality is treated as a personal belief - if another person’s boundaries are just opinion, and the guy who goes around punching others in the face has a personal belief about noses that differs from his victims’ but is equally valid, then nothing can ever actually be prohibited.

Comment #71111

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

Caledonian:

I think most of it can be prohibited by mutual consent. Some people call them ‘laws’.

Comment #71112

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

Tim Hague wrote:

Teaching religion to school children while pretending that it’s science is causing harm, by my definition.

And by the IDers’ definition, it’s a good. Your definition of harm is not compatible with their definition of good, and it’s not possible for both standards to be applied at the same time.

So which should we choose? After all, aren’t both beliefs “equally valid”? Isn’t the truth subjective, so neither side can be said to be right or wrong? Who are you to contradict their personal beliefs?

Post-modernism is the denial of reality. Science is about accepting and acknowledging reality. Which do you support?

Comment #71113

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:20 PM (e)

How do we judge the laws? We can hold “personal beliefs” about them, as well. And about their content. We could establish laws that say the nose begins three inches into the face, and thus punching people on the surface of the face isn’t hitting their nose. That wouldn’t make the law accurate. It wouldn’t make it correct. And it wouldn’t avoid objective harm - noses bleed and break whether we acknowledge them in our laws or not.

Cut the sophistry.

Comment #71114

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 12:21 PM (e)

Semantic, but true. I like to interpret it as meaning, “I can do whatever I want so much as it does not have an effect.”

That’s quite a fundie interpretation, but I like the idea. It doesn’t address what type of effect we should be able to make, but the sentiment is no effect no foul. This at least gives us a starting point on the harm debate. If there is no effect, then harm does not exist by any definition.

Just don’t think of siblings going, “I’m not touching you!” over and over with a fist just inches from your nose. =P

Comment #71118

Posted by Tim Hague on January 13, 2006 12:24 PM (e)

Caledonian:

And by the IDers’ definition, it’s a good. Your definition of harm is not compatible with their definition of good, and it’s not possible for both standards to be applied at the same time.

So which should we choose? After all, aren’t both beliefs “equally valid”? Isn’t the truth subjective, so neither side can be said to be right or wrong? Who are you to contradict their personal beliefs?

Post-modernism is the denial of reality. Science is about accepting and acknowledging reality. Which do you support?

Both beliefs are not equally valid in the science classroom, as recently ruled in Dover. You can’t possibly have missed it. ID was rules ‘wrong’ and not science. That’s the law for you. Pretty nifty.

And you are morbius and I claim my $5 ;)

Comment #71119

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

You say people can believe whatever they wish, as long as they don’t cause harm to others. Well, what happens when you encounter people whose definition of ‘harm’ isn’t compatible with yours, and they attempt to act in accordance with their beliefs?

This position would be logically equivalent to saying we should ban atheism because Stalin was an atheist and used atheist principals to justify his bad behavior.

The pro science theists here no more support or agree with the ID/fundamentalist crowd than you agree with communism/Stalinists.

Does anyone see the logical disconnect being used here by the militant atheists? Does anyone else notice the irony that they violently hate fundamentalism and its vitriol against other beliefs while they themselves condemn anyone that believes differently?

Thank Gnu for the Constitution!

Comment #71121

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

Bulman wrote:

I like to interpret it as meaning, “I can do whatever I want so much as it does not have an effect.”

Everything you do has an effect. Your “starting point” is therefore invalid. Guess what that means for the rest of your ethics?

If you really have no problem with setting your conclusions first, and developing arguments to lead to those conclusions second (whether they’ve logically valid or not), I think you’re on the wrong side.

Comment #71123

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:33 PM (e)

jim wrote:

The pro science theists here no more support or agree with the ID/fundamentalist crowd than you agree with communism/Stalinists.

But they’re willing to suspend critical thought when it would conflict with their own personal sacred cows. On that topic, they DO agree with the ID/fundamentalist crowd.

Science just isn’t compatible with religion, and everyone who insists otherwise is either lying to themselves or lying to others. People can believe what they like about matters for which there are no actual truths. When there is a truth about something, the only way we can accomplish anything (whether as individuals or as a society) is to acknowledge that truth.

When you treat unreality as reality, reality becomes unreality.

Comment #71124

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:33 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote about me calling “love thy neighbor as thyself” pop psychology:

… you quote a bit of divine wisdom,…

What exactly makes that “divine”? There is no supernatural claim in it. It was an insight that several others came to… Buddha, Beth Hillel and Confuscious to name a few.

… then brush it off as “pop psychology advice.”

Objectively, that is all it is. “Hey, if you treated people better then they’d treat you better.”

You don’t actually prove it WRONG or USELESS,…

That’s right. I did say it was ambiguous – what exactly does it mean to love someone as yourself? Do you have to feel it or just act it or what?

… nor do you offer any alternative wisdom of your own;

That’s right. But here’s some wisdom for you, Raging Bee: Stop lying. We can see through you.

… you just argue by labelling,

The only thing supernatural about the “love thy neighbor” statement is the claim that god wants it. On it’s own it says nothing about the way the world works. It doesn’t even promise you that you’ll be treated better in return.

Labelling something “psychological” does not diminish its validity or spiritual resonance in others,…

If there are no demonstratable claims about the supernatural or the way the world works then there is nothing but the psychology left. The label is accurate. It’s like saying “all you can fight with is words,” which is true. The question is how well do the words fit.

…ignores the fact that the “spiritual” and “psychological” realms are often inseparable.

Which may suggest they are merely one and the same and thus you have an argument against supernbatural beliefs.

As for the rest of your rant… You seem to have a lot of delusions about me.

Comment #71128

Posted by Bulmlan on January 13, 2006 12:37 PM (e)

Caledonian,

Are you having a bad day? I wish to extend to you the benefit of the doubt before I reframe my “Hey, I kinda like this quote and think it’s neat” post by defining what I mean by the individual words ‘Hey’, ‘I’, ‘kinda’, etc. Clearly I do not mean ‘no effect’ in a thermodynamic or quantum sense. Please read my posts in context. You can call my starting point invalid and I can ‘go all Descartes’ on you and build from the ground up.

I would rather just start a new thread on after the bar closes and lurk if that is what this thread is turning into.

BTW my starting point is not invalid, if I did not have an effect on a person then I did not harm the person. Negligence is based on inaction and wI believe we are talking about causing harm.

I’ll let you get the last potshot if you want to quibble over semantics, but I hope that we are just a little high strung after a debate that has spanned years.

Comment #71130

Posted by Bulman on January 13, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

I do agree that science and religion lead to mutually exclusive conclusions. To be clear.

Comment #71131

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 11:37 AM

A god that acts through “spiritual” means, not empirical ones? Such an entity cannot be demonstrated through any amount of rational thought, observation, and experimentation.

Right. So we can’t test God? Well big deal.

The scientific method specifically rejects assertions which cannot in principle be tested, because the truth or falsehood of such assertions can never have any consequences or implications. It literally makes no difference at all.

Are you now claiming that religion is/should be scientific (and adhere to it’s methods)?

How far will we bend backwards to pretend faith is compatible with reason,

Can people of faith not be rational?

so that people who live their lives by faith won’t reject everything we value?

I do not reject the scientific method for *duh* science.

How much are we willing to compromise our integrity to make science palatable to those that would reject it if they actually grasp its implications?

Are you saying theistic people are incapable of comprehending consequences? Go tell that to Ken Miler.

What kind of “public relations” are we willing to indulge in?
If we make science prosper by ensuring that people accept it without really understanding what it is, have we really won? That is a tactic of our enemies. To what degree are we willing to become them in order to defeat them?

The main tactic of our enemies is dishonesty. Do you wish theistic allies to dishonestly deny faith?

Comment #71132

Posted by yorktank on January 13, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

So then, which is it more important for me to have: spirituality or truthiness? Both seem equally effective in telling me that my perspective is the correct one. Oh, and I can’t believe the arrogant atheist card has been played yet again. Which is more arrogant: claiming that your conception of God is the truthiest, or claiming that there’s insufficient evidence that a god exists? I’m inclined to think the latter is less arrogant, but go ahead and convince me otherwise.

Ken Miller really seems to serve as a wedge in this community, and though I dislike the tone Lenny typically uses, I second his question as to why people who agree that the theory of evolution needs to be protected against anti-intellectual assault constantly belabor this theism issue. Ain’t nobody gonna convince me there is a god without physical evidence and there ain’t no way I’m gonna convince somebody else that his/her spirituality is meaningless.

Comment #71137

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 12:45 PM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:33 PM (e) (s)

.

But they’re willing to suspend critical thought when it would conflict with their own personal sacred cows. On that topic, they DO agree with the ID/fundamentalist crowd.

Science just isn’t compatible with religion, and everyone who insists otherwise is either lying to themselves or lying to others. People can believe what they like about matters for which there are no actual truths. When there is a truth about something, the only way we can accomplish anything (whether as individuals or as a society) is to acknowledge that truth.

When you treat unreality as reality, reality becomes unreality.

Get stuffed you fundie.

Comment #71138

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:46 PM (e)

I seem to have started this by saying what science has shown us is that man is a petty detail in this universe, tiny and ephemeral, and I couldn’t see how to fit the kind of god described in the Bible into that picture and then said the god of the Bible seemed too small. Well, that is just me and the implied question there is “how do you do that?”

This seems to make some people angry. No one can tell me how they do that, that just get pissed off at me for asking.

Comment #71141

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 12:49 PM (e)

I’ll take that offer of the last word. I choose to present a small except from a book by Diane Duane regarding the definition of the word cthia:

Amanda looked sad. “That is possibly the worst aspect of this whole mess,” she said. “It’s the modern Vulcan word which we translate as ‘logic’. But what it more correctly means is ‘reality-truth’. The truth about the universe, the way things really are, rather than the way we would like them to be. It embraces the physical and the inner realities both at once, in all their changes. The concept says that if we do not tell the universe the truth about itself, if we don’t treat it and the people in it as what they are – real, and precious – it will turn against us, and none of our affairs will prosper.” She sighed. “That’s a child’s explanation of the word, I’m afraid. Whole books have been written attempting to define it completely. What Sarek is saying is that if we don’t handle this matter with the utmost respect for the truth, for what is really needed for everyone involved, it will end is disaster.”

Diane Duane, Spock’s World, p. 76-77

Comment #71144

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 12:51 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:46 PM (e) (s)

I seem to have started this by saying what science has shown us is that man is a petty detail in this universe, tiny and ephemeral, and I couldn’t see how to fit the kind of god described in the Bible into that picture and then said the god of the Bible seemed too small. Well, that is just me and the implied question there is “how do you do that?”

This seems to make some people angry. No one can tell me how they do that, that just get pissed off at me for asking.

No! Your questions have never annoyed me.
You actually made a statement (that did not annoy me either).

Since then, other atheists have told me what I believe ( I am not even sure myself).

That annoyed me.

Comment #71146

Posted by jim on January 13, 2006 12:51 PM (e)

yorktank wrote:

…Which is more arrogant: …

Which is more arrogant, claiming that only your world view is correct and should be the only one practiced OR claiming that we should be tolerant of other beliefs as long as they’re not harmful.

As to the red-herring offered by others that “to the fundamentalists science is harmful”.

Well, western countries are ruled by laws. Those laws are mutually agreed to. If you disagree with the laws of the country you inhabit, you should move.

Since I do agree with the Constitution and the “separation of church and state” (and implications of live and let live) and your arguments indicate that you do not, I suggest you move.

Comment #71148

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 12:53 PM (e)

Science just isn’t compatible with religion…

Have you ever heard the saying “Good fences make good neighbors?” Science and religion are perfectly compatible, provided the boundaries between them are drawn honestly, carefully and sensibly. Millions of persons of faith hold the principles of scientific inquiry, and belief in (at least) one all-powerful and all-knowing Creator, together in their heads, and their heads somehow manage not to explode, and they somehow manage to lead reasonably happy, sane and productive lives without making such truly egregious mistakes as the “Cdesign Proponentists” have made.

Note to radical atheists: calling something impossible, when people can see it being done every day, does not help your credibility.

Comment #71150

Posted by JONBOY on January 13, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

I believe according to some polls, about half of all scientist find a way to accommodate their religious beliefs to their scientific ideas,
is this not exactly how it should be? People like Wesley,Ken Miller,and Francis Collins are seen to be doing world class science and studying the natural world,and NOT letting that conflict with their beliefs in the supernatural. Exactly how they manage to do this, has always been a enigma to me personally,but the fact is they do.

Comment #71151

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:55 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Can people of faith not be rational?

They can be rational about some things, they can do science and understand logic but I’ve seen no evidence they are rational about their most basic religious/supernatural beliefs.

Instead of rationality - I get anger and lies when I ask my questions. In the end - I get no answer to my questions.

Comment #71155

Posted by Lixivium on January 13, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

I don’t know why you guys are even arguing about this. Science does not threaten religious philosophy. What it DOES threaten is religious mythology. The question is whether you are able or willing to separate the two when considering yourself to be truly “religious”.

Comment #71158

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:06 PM (e)

Lixivium said:

Science does not threaten religious philosophy.

What makes religious philosophy different from philosophy in general? It seems only the apriori assumption that there is a god or some kind of truth to religious/supernatural claims. If those apriori claims are threatened, then so is “religious” philosophy.

Comment #71161

Posted by yorktank on January 13, 2006 1:08 PM (e)

Lixivium wrote:

I don’t know why you guys are even arguing about this. Science does not threaten religious philosophy.

Well, generally we argue because certain religious philosophies threaten science, not the other way around. That’s how this how Intelligent Design “controversy” thing started.

Comment #71165

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 12:55 PM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Can people of faith not be rational?

They can be rational about some things, they can do science and understand logic but I’ve seen no evidence they are rational about their most basic religious/supernatural beliefs.

Instead of rationality - I get anger and lies when I ask my questions. In the end - I get no answer to my questions.

Errr. Well maybe that is because you ask religious questions in a way that demands scientific type answers. If you want people to respond to that sort of question, then maybe you would be better asking them of the idiots who believe their religious opinions are scientific.

Comment #71166

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Since then, other atheists have told me what I believe ( I am not even sure myself).

Yea, you told me you were a Christian awhile back and I stupidly assumed that meant you believed in the Bible and that Jesus was a god. I think you’re going to have to get used to that assumption if you call yourself a Christian, annoying or not, people do tend to think they know what that word means.

Comment #71169

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 1:19 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 01:15 PM (e) (s)

Yea, you told me you were a Christian awhile back and I stupidly assumed that meant you believed in the Bible and that Jesus was a god. I think you’re going to have to get used to that assumption if you call yourself a Christian, annoying or not, people do tend to think they know what that word means.

That sounds very similar to the “all evolutionists are atheists” argument.

Comment #71174

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Note to radical atheists: calling something impossible, when people can see it being done every day, does not help your credibility.

It is logically impossible to consistently uphold two contradictory philosophies. It’s perfectly possible to inconsistently uphold two contradictory philosophies.

For example, all those Creationists who lie and deceive in order to forward their goals, despite the fact that the book which they consider to be Absolute and Inerrant Truth forbids it, or the Christians who try to force others to tolerate their public prayer, despite the fact that Jesus himself forbade public demonstrations of piety.

It’s not possible to be true to the methods of rationality while being true to faith, and vice versa. Of course, you don’t need to take my word for it. Ask Jesus.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will love the one and hate the other, or he will be devoted to one, and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

Comment #71175

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

… maybe that is because you ask religious questions in a way that demands scientific type answers.

Do I? Does asking how does God fit into the world science has shown us demand a scientific answer?

… maybe you would be better asking them of the idiots who believe their religious opinions are scientific.

I have. On that score they make more sense than you do. I have no idea what you believe. You don’t seem to know yourself. You can’t explain it in any terms at all, scientific or not.

Can you even say what the word “God” means to you?

Comment #71181

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:33 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

That sounds very similar to the “all evolutionists are atheists” argument.

In the sense that if you say you’re an evolutionist a lot of people will assume you’re also an atheist, then, yes it is similar. It doesn’t mean you are, but you will have to get used to the assumption coming from both ends.

And look around – it just so happens a lot of us evolutionists are atheists, and vocal about it too. So you can see why people would make that assumuption.

However, I think the assumption that people who call themselves Christian think Jesus was some kind of god is even more common than that. There are fewer counter examples of it.

Comment #71182

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 01:25 PM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

… maybe that is because you ask religious questions in a way that demands scientific type answers.

Do I? Does asking how does God fit into the world science has shown us demand a scientific answer?

Of course.

… maybe you would be better asking them of the idiots who believe their religious opinions are scientific.

I have. On that score they make more sense than you do. I have no idea what you believe. You don’t seem to know yourself. You can’t explain it in any terms at all, scientific or not.

You are correct.

Can you even say what the word “God” means to you?

The nearest I can get is the being that brought the Universe into existense. After that all I have is conjecture. TBH. I do not know. I believe there is God. I am not able to explain myself further. I can prove nothing but it is something I believe.

I have no problem with you being an atheist. Why do you seem so bothered about people who believe?

Comment #71187

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 01:33 PM (e) (s)


And look around — it just so happens a lot of us evolutionists are atheists, and vocal about it too. So you can see why people would make that assumuption.

However, I think the assumption that people who call themselves Christian think Jesus was some kind of god is even more common than that. There are fewer counter examples of it.

Look, just because you did not like the way your parents introduced you into Christianity. That does not mean I have to fit into yours or their mold.

Comment #71191

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Do you wish theistic allies to dishonestly deny faith?

No. Just be prepared for the other questions that must follow: How in the world does God and the Bible fit into the world science has shown us?

If you can’t answer that, people are going to be suspicious, not just me.

Ken Miller did try to answer a similar question – I did not find his answer satisfying and I suspect others on both sides of the question feel the same.

Comment #71194

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

Yeah! Who are you, Norman, to tell Stephen what he believes? Just because Stephen says he’s a Christian doesn’t mean you can tell him what “Christian” means. The word doesn’t have any objective meaning, it’s just another personal belief. If he wants to say he’s Christian and believes that the Cargo Gods will bring us extraterrestrial shipments of luxury goods and we must build landing strips to lure him back, that’s just fine. He can determine for himself what “Christianity” does and does not mean. After all, he’s not harming anyone, right?

Besides stripping the meaning out of language, which profoundly harms everyone, of course…

Comment #71196

Posted by Bob O'H on January 13, 2006 1:50 PM (e)

jim wrote:

At the risk of bodily harm. I’d like to yank this thread back on topic.

*YOINK*

Does anyone know if Ken Miller’s interview is available on the web?

Well, that was successful, wasn’t it?

Just remember folks, nearly two thousand years ago one man was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change. Isn’t anyone going to stand up for him?

Bob

Comment #71197

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 1:52 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

… just because you did not like the way your parents introduced you into Christianity. That does not mean I have to fit into yours or their mold.

I’m not asking you to fit into a mold. I don’t care what you believe. If you want to keep it private fine. I’m just telling you it’s going to be viewed with suspicion if you can’t answer some basic questions about what you believe.

It’s not that you don’t fit the mold – it’s that you don’t have anything at all I can see to pour into a mold.

Comment #71200

Posted by raj on January 13, 2006 1:55 PM (e)

Ken Miller did try to answer a similar question — I did not find his answer satisfying and I suspect others on both sides of the question feel the same.

You didn’t like Miller’s answer as to how he reconciled his science with his Catholicism. So? It was his answer.

When creationists present any evidence for a creator, or IDers present any evidence for an Intelligent Designer, I’ll sit up and listen. Until then, no. And neither have.

Comment #71203

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:01 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 01:46 PM (e) (s)


No. Just be prepared for the other questions that must follow: How in the world does God and the Bible fit into the world science has shown us?

Good grief. Spare me. You can’t be that dense surely. If science proves something. I accept it.

I made “proves” bold for a reason. Conjecture will not do. But evidence will.

Before we get into more semantics I mean the scientific version of proves. You know…testable.

Years ago I hated God. Then I realised that God need not be defined by the Bible (or any other religious book/person). The same thing goes to preachers.

The weird thing is that it was not the Bible that made me believe in God. Rather it was Stephen Hawkins book Brief History of Time. Yet Stephen Hawkins is a “Steve”.

Comment #71205

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:07 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Why do you seem so bothered about people who believe?

When anyone has a view of the world different than mine I am compelled to ask for their reasons. Maybe I’m wrong.

When it comes to religion, no one has ever given me a rational answer. That does bother me a bit. Why shouldn’t it?

Comment #71208

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:10 PM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 01:48 PM (e) (s)

Yeah! Who are you, Norman, to tell Stephen what he believes? Just because Stephen says he’s a Christian doesn’t mean you can tell him what “Christian” means. The word doesn’t have any objective meaning, it’s just another personal belief. If he wants to say he’s Christian and believes that the Cargo Gods will bring us extraterrestrial shipments of luxury goods and we must build landing strips to lure him back, that’s just fine. He can determine for himself what “Christianity” does and does not mean. After all, he’s not harming anyone, right?

Besides stripping the meaning out of language, which profoundly harms everyone, of course…

OK Fundie. I see you still want to decide what I believe.

I admit that I do not know.

Why is your opinion so great that I should listen to you, instead of myself?

Comment #71209

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:11 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Then I realized that God need not be defined by the Bible (or any other religious book/person).

Then what does define God?

Do you think there is a being out there that created the universe and it has desires, intentions, self-awareness, a plan?

Comment #71212

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:19 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

You can’t be that dense surely. If science proves something. I accept it.

And if science can’t disprove it – you can believe whatever you want without reasons, elves, fairies, ESP, UFOs and flying pigs?

Comment #71213

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:20 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 02:07 PM (e) (s)

When it comes to religion, no one has ever given me a rational answer. That does bother me a bit. Why shouldn’t it?

I can’t give you a rational answer.

However when my father was dying I cried out to God. I will not deny that. It might be nothing or it might be something. I do not know. But never again shall I pretend that I do not believe .

It has happened numerous times before. I always just “blew it away” previously.

Comment #71214

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 2:20 PM (e)

dammmmmn! if we started one of these religious wars in the thread we are trying to push to 1000 posts, it would only take a day!

amazing.

Comment #71216

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 02:19 PM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

You can’t be that dense surely. If science proves something. I accept it.

And if science can’t disprove it — you can believe whatever you want without reasons, elves, fairies, ESP, UFOs and flying pigs?

Are you setting up a strawman? Go ahead and kick away.

Comment #71218

Posted by Gary on January 13, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

I’m sure this is way late and redundant, but Raging Bee wrote in response to AC’s comment about the relative inutility of a “god concept”:
“You mean, like, sacrificing their own material comfort and safety to help people less fortunate than themselves? Like bringing food and medical help into godforsaken war-zones? Like preaching, and practicing, a moral code for people to follow in order to get along better and live more honorable lives? Or how about living our lives with a deeper understanding that there’s more to civilized life than the daily grind of meeting our material needs?”

I think the point is that these things are not unique to someone holding a “god concept”. And as is abundantly clear from history the “god concept” is often the very thing responsible for “people less fortunate”, “godforsaken war-zones”, ignoring moral codes (e.g. christians lying under oath in Dover)and imposing their will on, detracting from, and impeding our material needs (witness all anti-science shenanigans a notable minority are engaged in).
~Gary

Comment #71221

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 02:20 PM (e) (s)

dammmmmn! if we started one of these religious wars in the thread we are trying to push to 1000 posts, it would only take a day!

amazing.

LOL. Good point. Any idea how to move it?

Comment #71223

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

hmm.

how ‘bout:

God is X i tells ya!

now go here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/intelligent_des_19.html

and argue He isn’t.

Comment #71227

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:35 PM (e)

Tim Hague commented on my saying “love thy neighbor was “trite”:

… it was said by Jesus. It actually appears in the Koran, the Talmud and the Analects of Confucius as well. I don’t care either way who said it first, …

Do you know what the word “trite” means?
It means: Repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse; “bromidic sermons”; “his remarks were trite and commonplace”; “hackneyed phrases”; “a stock answer”; … timeworn axiom…

If all those people said it – it is by definition: trite.

Comment #71230

Posted by AC on January 13, 2006 2:36 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

You mean, like, sacrificing their own material comfort and safety to help people less fortunate than themselves? Like bringing food and medical help into godforsaken war-zones? Like preaching, and practicing, a moral code for people to follow in order to get along better and live more honorable lives? Or how about living our lives with a deeper understanding that there’s more to civilized life than the daily grind of meeting our material needs? Is that “useful” enough for you? People of all faiths do these sorts of things all the time, and they’re inspired to do so by the notion, in many guises, that there’s a being/law/set-of-priorities bigger and more important than their own personal wants and complaints.

What part of “comforting people” didn’t you get? The “comforting” or the “people”?

I don’t deny that people can act in ways that are beneficial to others because of religious beliefs. I’d just prefer that they realize that religious belief is not necessary for those endeavors. This allows one to continue doing them without all the negative aspects of religion (which all stem from the idea of being “holier-than-thou”).

As I said, I’m not religious, but I still try to help people in need. This was not emphasized in my religious upbringing. How do you suppose I justify that behavior?

Stephen Elliott wrote:

The weird thing is that it was not the Bible that made me believe in God. Rather it was Stephen Hawkins book Brief History of Time.

When I read it, I was reminded of why I went through a deistic period and why a deist god is the only kind I can concede might exist: The universe is indeed a wondrous thing. If you choose to believe in such a god, then we would be at an impasse. However, your posts show that you are honest about your belief, and that you recognize the difference between faith and science, rational and irrational, etc. Thus it would be a friendly impasse.

Comment #71232

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 2:37 PM (e)

Sez Norman to Stephen:

…I’m just telling you it’s going to be viewed with suspicion if you can’t answer some basic questions about what you believe.

“Viewed with suspicion” by whom? And what “basic questions” is Stephen expected to answer? Since you were so wretchedly bad at second-guessing other people’s beliefs, why should we listen to you when you try to second-guess other people’s “suspicions” about someone’s professed faith? Who else here (or elsewhere, for that matter) has voiced such “suspicions,” and what makes you, Norman, entitled to lecture us about what questions or suspicions we should expect to encounter and answer for?

Comment #71237

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 02:11 PM (e) (s)

….

Then what does define God?

Do you think there is a being out there that created the universe and it has desires, intentions, self-awareness, a plan?

Depends what you mean.

But I do believe that there is a being out there.
Not so sure about the rest.

Out of nothing ;> I believe if we are to be judged it will be on actions rather than belief.

But that is just my personal opinion.

Comment #71239

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

I can’t give you a rational answer.

I know – and that’s okay.

However when my father was dying I cried out to God. I will not deny that.

I don’t blame you. I’d want someone, something, the most improbable hope at all, to change the fate we all have to face. But I don’t confuse desire with belief.

It might be nothing or it might be something. I do not know. But never again shall I pretend that I do not believe.

Is that belief or desire?

Comment #71246

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 2:49 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Depends what you mean.

Hmmm… maybe you’re catching on. Okay, desires, intentions, self-awareness and planning are mentally anthropomorphic. I was really asking if you’ve created a god in your own image.

Comment #71248

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

AC wrote:

I don’t deny that people can act in ways that are beneficial to others because of religious beliefs. I’d just prefer that they realize that religious belief is not necessary for those endeavors.

This is exactly what the religious bigots say: they’re quite aware that people of other faiths do good things, but they’d just “prefer” that those others realize that their alien faiths aren’t “necessary” (at least in the bigots’ opinion).

Who are you to judge the “necessity” of other people’s beliefs? If they’re doing the right thing, what else do you have to judge? Will you look at their accomplishments and say “Thanks for your help, but your beliefs need to be debunked, so just follow me to our shiny new reeducation camp?”

Comment #71251

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 13, 2006 2:55 PM (e)

Fanatical evangelical: A person who cannot permit others to believe other than as he/she does, and is unwilling to even change the subject. Choice of theism or atheism is optional.

There is now a thread at After the Bar Closes to handle this topic. Please take the discussion there. Also, I’d appreciate it if in any thread here on PT starts to go down this road that someone post a link to the AtBC thread. Thanks.

Comment #71258

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 3:02 PM (e)

Raging Bee asked:

…what makes you, Norman, entitled to lecture us about what questions or suspicions we should expect to encounter and answer for?

The fact that Stephen Elliott is reading my questions and answering them honestly – it seems.

Comment #71259

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 3:02 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 02:42 PM (e) (s)

I do not know how to answer you. Anything I say you will turn into an argument.

That is OK. Fill your boots (I did once). But maybe there is more happening than we can comprehend.

If you think everything in the universe falls into the scientific method….so be it.

Personally , I think there is more to it.

Comment #71260

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 3:03 PM (e)

Are we wrong to insist that ID isn’t scientific? There seem to be people who believe it is. We must be fanatics to insist that our opinions are actually correct, and others are misguided. Right?

It’s a common tactic of evangelists to claim that anyone who contradicts them is a fanatic evangelist. It makes it harder to point out that they’re the ones evangelizing and being fanatical.

Comment #71265

Posted by dan on January 13, 2006 3:11 PM (e)

Norman,
I read your piece on christianity; good piece, thanks for the link.
I know why these people drive you crazy; it’s the wasting of humanity. You can see that we all have so many more productive things that we could be doing with our time on the rock, instead of bashing each other’s head in over who gets to carry the gourd (Life of Brian reference).
The only thing is, it is that quality that you describe in your article that dooms you to get nowhere in arguments like these.
However, all of that pointlessness is negated by the joy of making the little buggers squirm.
Besides, it is very entertaining to watch!

Comment #71266

Posted by Raging Bee on January 13, 2006 3:12 PM (e)

Are we wrong to insist that ID isn’t scientific?

Did anyone here say you were?

Comment #71267

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 3:12 PM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 03:03 PM (e) (s)

Are we wrong to insist that ID isn’t scientific? There seem to be people who believe it is. We must be fanatics to insist that our opinions are actually correct, and others are misguided. Right?

It’s a common tactic of evangelists to claim that anyone who contradicts them is a fanatic evangelist. It makes it harder to point out that they’re the ones evangelizing and being fanatical.

You are a fanatic to insist that I am an ID supporter.
How does that make you better than them?

You are a fundie!

Comment #71272

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 3:17 PM (e)

The willingness of human beings to suspend reason in order to protect cherished beliefs is at the core of the Culture War. We can’t condemn the use of shoddy reasoning when IDers use it but tolerate it from people who support the use of reason for *most* things but ignore it when it comes to their religion.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions on matters that are not factual. On factual matters, opinions are invalid. Evolutionary biology is a factual matter, and baseless beliefs are not a part of it. Whether something is science or not is a factual matter. Whether two assertions are logically compatible is a factual matter.

On those subjects, opinions are irrelevant.

Comment #71274

Posted by Gary on January 13, 2006 3:21 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:
“Who are you to judge the “necessity” of other people’s beliefs? If they’re doing the right thing, what else do you have to judge? Will you look at their accomplishments and say “Thanks for your help, but your beliefs need to be debunked, so just follow me to our shiny new reeducation camp?””

Assuming we define the right thing as bringing comfort to the grieving, health to the sick, helping the poor, advocating for peace, fighting illiteracy, etc. etc. then one cannot disagree that religious beliefs are not “necessary” to do the right thing (assuming we agree on what the “right thing” is). I’m pretty sure that is the point. They can clearly coexist with doing the right thing and may indeed spur people to do it. But those entirely without theism or religion are equally capable of it and anyone who might argue otherwise ignores the evidence and/or engages in an outrageous lie. Not accusing you,(unless of course you are making that arguement, I dont think you are) just trying to clear that up.
~Gary

Comment #71278

Posted by Norman Doering on January 13, 2006 3:23 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

But maybe there is more happening than we can comprehend.

I’m sure there is, but that doesn’t make me religious or believe in God.

For the rest of what I have to say on that – go here:
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=43c7c17419867d94;act=ST;f=14;t=144;st=0

Comment #71282

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 3:25 PM (e)

Fill your boots

translate please? I’m not fluent in islander ;)

Comment #71284

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 3:31 PM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on January 13, 2006 03:17 PM (e) (s)

The willingness of human beings to suspend reason in order to protect cherished beliefs is at the core of the Culture War. We can’t condemn the use of shoddy reasoning when IDers use it but tolerate it from people who support the use of reason for *most* things but ignore it when it comes to their religion.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions on matters that are not factual. On factual matters, opinions are invalid. Evolutionary biology is a factual matter, and baseless beliefs are not a part of it. Whether something is science or not is a factual matter. Whether two assertions are logically compatible is a factual matter.

On those subjects, opinions are irrelevant.

So it is Ok for you to spout views. But nobody else?
Do you not think for 1 minute, that other people might consider this?

I think you are a fundie. Check your own posts. Is it OK for you to impose an opinion but not othars? Get stuffed!

Comment #71285

Posted by AC on January 13, 2006 3:31 PM (e)

Also, in the same vein as Gary’s comment #71218, the religion is often a hidden (or not-so-hidden) payload of religiously motivated aid.

Raging Bee, consider this also as a response to your comment #71248, and spare me the histrionic persecution complex.

Comment #71289

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 13, 2006 03:25 PM (e) (s)

Fill your boots

translate please? I’m not fluent in islander ;)

Rough translation…
Fill your boots = Help yourself, rob em blind. etc.

Converted to colonial use ;>

Comment #71340

Posted by Jason on January 13, 2006 4:45 PM (e)

Lixivium wrote:

Too bad Ken Miller couldn’t be on the Daily Show instead. Stephen Colbert is horrible at interviews; he needs to learn to shut up and let the guest talk.

It’s all part of the act. He’s doing the perfect pundit impersonation.

IMO, the Colbert Report is fucking brilliant. It’s funny for just about the whole show, just about every show.

When I saw the number of comments I thought that there must be a lot of fans of the show, but it was just another stupid argument. ;-)

My impression of the interview: too short. Miller did quite a good job. I’ve never really seen him speak before. I really like the way he puts things. You can tell he is in the business of convincing skeptics and converting people on the other side. More debaters (for lack of a better word) should do this. Instead they usually chose to sing to the choir and repeat mantras 1000 times. Instead of challenging “Give me proof that God exists!” he says something like “The God I would hope is out there isn’t so limited as to be a mere puppet master and tinkerer.” THAT’s the kind of thing that will sway someone.

If more people, especially in politics, argues like I saw Ken Miller do on Colbert (not that he was arguing with him), life would be much much more tolerable.

Comment #71462

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 13, 2006 7:41 PM (e)

Deja vu…all over again.

Dude, it’s pointless, it doesn’t help, and we have better things to do.

Comment #71471

Posted by gregonomic on January 13, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

Yeah, back to Miller. I think he did a stand-up job. Either, as Raj suggested, Colbert gave him some warning about what he was going to say, or Miller is very quick-witted. Maybe both.

I think it’s a shame the whole religion thing came up again (and sparked another religious war here). But it was just Colbert having a laugh, and Miller handled it reasonably well. If he is going to be our poster-boy for the theistic biologist, then we can’t expect to answer any differently than he did, can we?

One of Miller’s suggestions which I thought was good (if not-entirely serious, and somewhat unrealistic), is that every time someone gets a ‘flu shot, they should have to sign a form saying that they accept the theory of evolution. Do most people realise that the reason they have to get a shot every season is because of evolution? Might force them to think about it a bit harder?

Comment #71577

Posted by Caledonian on January 14, 2006 12:00 AM (e)

There was a recent Doonesbury comic in which a doctor asks his patient whether he was a Creationist or not. The patient had contracted TB, and the doctor wanted to know if he should use the new drugs, or the old ones that the TB had evolved resistance to. (It seems that the TB microbes weren’t up on the latest theosophistry.)

I think it’s a great idea.

Comment #71590

Posted by Norman Doering on January 14, 2006 12:44 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott,

You’re invited here:
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=43c82bc3457c8d5a;act=ST;f=14;t=144;st=10

Or are you no longer interested in answering questions?

Comment #71611

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 14, 2006 3:04 AM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on January 14, 2006 12:44 AM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliott,

You’re invited here:
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…

Or are you no longer interested in answering questions?

I have moved over to your link.

Comment #71684

Posted by the pro from dover on January 14, 2006 8:37 AM (e)

Athiesm is a belief. Science is not a search for “THE TRUTH”.. It is a search for what works. It is limited in its scope to those things amenable to methodologic materialism. One can believe that those things are all that exists in the observable universe but this is a belief and not an objective and rational description of “THE TRUTH”. Science has some truths and that the theory of evolution is our current best testable explanation for the diversity of species is as close to a significant scientific truth as we can get. But theories are and must be tentative to be useful. Spiritual truths are highly personal and subjective but they are not by definition useless in a nonscientific sense and most Christians understand this very well. A statement like “God works in mysterious ways” is a fairly bland statement of religious faith and shouldn’t spur a geater firestorm here than the statement “turtles are anapsid reptiles” but it does. But most of all I must respond to Norman Doering who has made some pretty inappropriate statements here but to compare a barely competent hack like J.S. Bach to geniuses like Tommy, Ozzy, Geezer and Bill is just way off base.

Comment #71701

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 14, 2006 9:29 AM (e)

shouldn’t spur a geater firestorm here than the statement “turtles are anapsid reptiles”

Not really —- they were originally diapsids, and are only secondarily anapisid.

:>

Comment #71783

Posted by Caledonian on January 14, 2006 1:17 PM (e)

Statements like “God works in mysterious ways” are, at least in the way they’re actually applied, totally devoid of meaningful content. They’re a denial and a negation of the idea that meaningful statements can be made. They’re consistent with any and every possible contingency because they imply nothing, and so can never contradict anything.

They are just as profoundly ignorant, and just as infuriating, as statements like “evolution is only a theory” or “science doesn’t know everything”. If you use them, you’d better expect to get slammed.

Comment #71902

Posted by the pro from dover on January 14, 2006 8:08 PM (e)

Its Tony not Tommy, sorry. How do turtles create an appearance of the anapsid state so perfectly mimicking the more primitive form of basal reptile? IT’s like a placental mammal re-evolving marsupial bones. Has this been studied embryologically? Religious statements are devoid of meaning to those who do not believe but not to those who do. Asking people of faith to defend their beliefs rationally or scientifically is pointless and counterproductive for those wishing to uphold a scientific educational curriculum. Here’s another statement of faith: GO BRONCOS!!!!!

Comment #71912

Posted by Russell on January 14, 2006 8:37 PM (e)

Statements like “God works in mysterious ways” are… just as infuriating, as statements like “evolution is only a theory” or “science doesn’t know everything”.

I guess I don’t see it that way, because “God” is not the subject of public policy questions, and “God education” - I hope we can all agree on this - is not a matter that public school boards take on. “Science” and “evolution” are concepts that intersect with my world; “God” and “magic unicorns” are not.

Here’s another statement of faith: GO BRONCOS!!!!!

Well, no. A statement of faith, surely must take the form of an indicative declarative sentence, like “God works in mysterious ways”. “Go Broncos” would be imperative, suggesting that the Broncos in question might or might not go, but that you are urging, or ordering, them to, in fact, go.

Thanks for asking! (if only implicitly)

Comment #71920

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 14, 2006 9:24 PM (e)

How do turtles create an appearance of the anapsid state so perfectly mimicking the more primitive form of basal reptile? IT’s like a placental mammal re-evolving marsupial bones. Has this been studied embryologically?

It’s just a matter of a couple bones fusing.

The conclusion is based on both molecular data and on fossils.

See:

Science 12 February 1999:
Vol. 283. no. 5404, pp. 945 - 946
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.945

Perspectives
EVOLUTION:
Turtle Origins
Olivier Rieppel

Turtles have reigned for years as the most primitive egg-laying animals. Now new evidence is suggesting that their proper place is in the crown of the evolutionary tree, between snakes and dinosaurs. But, as discussed by Rieppel in his Perspective, exactly where in the tree-top they reside is not yet secure, and the data point to several different positions.

Comment #71928

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on January 14, 2006 9:42 PM (e)

My one and only intervention is merely to remind the “pro from dover” that Strong Atheism is a belief; lower-case atheism is not, being the mere absence of a very specific belief: belief in the existence of gods.

References available on request.

Comment #71972

Posted by Norman Doering on January 15, 2006 3:50 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

… because “God” is not the subject of public policy questions,…

One might hope not – but reality might be another matter. Didn’t Bush start some sort of funding for faith based groups?

… and “God education” - …

One would hope not…

…I hope we can all agree on this -

On what is or on what should be?

Comment #72039

Posted by the pro from dover on January 15, 2006 7:10 AM (e)

I’ll think about what Aureola has said, is the lack of a belief a belief as well? it’s somewhat like the difference between faith and denial. They’re often very similar. What would not qualify as a belief would be agnosticism in the T.H.Huxley sense where one can neither scientifically prove the presence or absence of god(s). That is to me a pretty sound objective statement, and anyway Pat Robertson promised me he’d let the Broncos win if I put in a plug for relgion.

Comment #72040

Posted by the pro from dover on January 15, 2006 7:13 AM (e)

Pat actually said that the intelligent designer would blind the back judge’s vision so he would see pass interference when there really wasn’t any.

Comment #72066

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on January 15, 2006 8:56 AM (e)

pro from dover:

I’ll unashamedly steal someone else’s beautiful remark.

“If atheism is a belief then baldness is a hair colour.”

Comment #72199

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 15, 2006 3:04 PM (e)

I’ll think about what Aureola has said, is the lack of a belief a belief as well?

a choice, yes. a belief? no.

Comment #72211

Posted by Russell on January 15, 2006 3:41 PM (e)

Aureola:

“If atheism is a belief then baldness is a hair colour.”

I like Someone Else’s other memorable aphorism: “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

Norman D: I’m completely with you on GWB & “Faith-based” nonsense, and that school boards SHOULD not be deliberating on “God Education”, but sometimes are. So, yes, whether “God works in mysterious ways” is infuriating depends on the context. I just find, more often than not, it’s about as meaningful as “Goodbye” - which, if I was told correctly many years ago, is just an elision of “God be with you” .

Comment #72289

Posted by Michael Rathbun, FCD, FARW on January 15, 2006 8:41 PM (e)

Russel wrote:

I like Someone Else’s other memorable aphorism: “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

I get the “so, atheism is your religion?” jab on relatively frequent occasions. Based on this, as an afordist (someone who doesn’t own a Ford automobile but as a former Ford employee expresses no opinion regarding the products) living here in Collin County, Texas, I fully expect to receive something from the local taxing authority along the lines of

Mr Rathbun:

As you are aware, every person resident in this State owns (or does not own) an automobile. There are no exceptions.

Our records show that you do not own a Ford. However we show no specific information as to which exact model of Ford you do not own. Please supply this information together with the Vehicle Identification Number of the non-owned vehicle on the form below so that the appropriate tax may be computed.

If our records are incorrect, and you do not own some other model of vehicle, please supply the required information.

Comment #72440

Posted by Gorbe on January 16, 2006 11:18 AM (e)

Um, in case no one noticed, Pro is on our side. Or do we just intend to provoke yet another pointless war between theists and atheists … ?

Exactly my thoughts as well. I grew up with enough ideological purists, ready to pounce on every slight variance from their own worldview. Give it a rest, folks.

Personally, I’m not religious, never having reconciled the fact of a divinely-established authoritative religious body having to change its position to conform to the findings of modern science.

But I recognize and respect that some people have reconciled such facts TO THEIR OWN satisfaction. If Dr. Miller and “Pro” are two such people, I say more power to them.

Comment #72456

Posted by AC on January 16, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

Atheism is sometimes another example of people using different definitions for the same word. When I say “I am an atheist”, I mean “I do not believe in gods”. However, religious people tend to take it to mean “I do not believe gods are possible”. Then they whip out their favorite criticism of anyone who holds a contrary belief, opinion, etc.: “You don’t know everything!”

Which is frustrating in and of itself, the idea that to know anything one must know everything. For them, it’s easy - they just spackle all the holes with God and call it a day. For people more concerned with accuracy, knowing everything is flat out impossible, and we readily admit it. For this to be taken as a weakness is truly a matter of speaking different languages with the same words.

Comment #72515

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 16, 2006 6:40 PM (e)

I grew up with enough ideological purists

Leninists? If so, you have my sympathies.

They all hated me. And vice versa.

Comment #72519

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 16, 2006 6:43 PM (e)

Personally, I’m not religious, never having reconciled the fact of a divinely-established authoritative religious body having to change its position to conform to the findings of modern science.

Me too. That’s why I’m Buddhist/Taoist. We don’t have any authoritative religious bodies to reconcile anything – or anything to reconcile. Heck, we don’t even have a god. :>

But I recognize and respect that some people have reconciled such facts TO THEIR OWN satisfaction. If Dr. Miller and “Pro” are two such people, I say more power to them.

Yea verily. To each his own, and all that.

Comment #72520

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 16, 2006 6:51 PM (e)

Atheism is sometimes another example of people using different definitions for the same word. When I say “I am an atheist”, I mean “I do not believe in gods”. However, religious people tend to take it to mean “I do not believe gods are possible”.

I’ve never really known what to label myself as. I’m not a “theist”, since I don’t assert the existence of any god, gods, or goddesses, and I think they are all, without exception, human inventions. But sicne I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of god/goddesses existing, I’m not really comfortable with the label “atheist” (perhaps “nontheist” would be better). As for “I don’t know”, I’m not comfortable with that either, since so many people, on both sides, DO claim to know, so I don’t call myself an “agnostic”.

If pressed, I usually call myself an “apatheist” —– I simply don’t CARE if there’s a god or not.

But then, even if god turns out to be a human invention, as I suspect it is, I have no problem with that. (shrug)

I guess much of it comes down to what one means by “god” ….

But then, the question is merely academic anyway.

Comment #72526

Posted by steve s on January 16, 2006 6:58 PM (e)

Why do you have to absolutely rule out a possibility before taking a stand against it? I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of Santa Claus, but don’t you think it would be silly to be agnostic on that?

Comment #72549

Posted by keiths on January 16, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

steve s wrote:

Why do you have to absolutely rule out a possibility before taking a stand against it? I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of Santa Claus, but don’t you think it would be silly to be agnostic on that?

Here’s a great Bertrand Russell quote which makes the same point:

Bertrand Russell wrote:

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Comment #72569

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 16, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

Why do you have to absolutely rule out a possibility before taking a stand against it?

Because I am me, and that is what I choose to do. (shrug)

You, of course, are not me, and so you can choose whatever *you* like. I won’t tell you what choice to make; don’t tell me what choice to make. Then we can all get along and live happily ever after, instead of wasting our time arguing with each other over our individual choices. Think what you want to think. And I’ll think what I want to think.

That’s the beauty of democracy.

Comment #72789

Posted by Raging Bee on January 17, 2006 9:56 AM (e)

I think the meaning of words is being fudged here: I’ve always been told that an AGNOSTIC (whose literal meaning is “not knowing”) is someone who lacks a specific religious belief, doesn’t claim to know what to believe, and/or who has simply not made up his/her mind on the subject; and an ATHEIST is someone who has made up his/her mind and believes there is no god. That, at least, is how I’ve been using these words all my life, and how everyone I’ve talked to so far understands them.

Comment #72796

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on January 17, 2006 10:13 AM (e)

Raging Bee:

I’ve always been told that an AGNOSTIC (whose literal meaning is “not knowing”) is someone who lacks a specific religious belief, doesn’t claim to know what to believe, and/or who has simply not made up his/her mind on the subject; and an ATHEIST is someone who has made up his/her mind and believes there is no god.

And there’s the rub: the fact that you’ve been told these things does not make them true. I am an atheist and I do not “believe there is no god”. I simply do not believe any god-claim I’ve ever encountered. Is it just me? No, as is plainly apparent by reading what several other fellows have written in this very thread. There are also plenty of atheist thinkers who have defined atheism as the lack of a god-belief.

I have no problem with people calling themselves agnostics. Actually, if one goes by the self-definition of agnosticism that agnostics often give, I am ALSO an agnostic.

I find it disturbing that so many smart people think that they can define what other people think without asking them. It is not a good sign.

Comment #72817

Posted by AC on January 17, 2006 11:11 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

If pressed, I usually call myself an “apatheist” ——- I simply don’t CARE if there’s a god or not.

That describes me pretty well also. Every god men have believed in strikes me as nothing but self-satisfying nonsense. I can imagine a plausible nature for God, but it renders God irrelevant to human affairs. If God exists and is relevant, He has done a spectacularly lousy job of making His relevance clear. In light of these things, I see no reason to clutter my life with the matter. I recommend the same to everyone, but I don’t twist any arms or collect any tithes over it.

steve s wrote:

I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of Santa Claus, but don’t you think it would be silly to be agnostic on that?

It would be silly because the nature of Santa Claus is absurd. So, in my opinion, is the idea of a virgin birth, or a resurrection, or a god that gives a particular damn about humanity. But if there is a mode of existence beyond our experience - in higher dimensions, let’s say - then I concede that a god such as that of Deism might not be absurd. Now, that’s a pretty big “if”, but I feel I must recognize it. This doesn’t preclude taking a stand against anti-American religothugs, though.

It really does come down to what one means by “god”.

Comment #72820

Posted by jim on January 17, 2006 11:26 AM (e)

Aureola,

Regarding your lack of faith…

Perhaps you should worship me. After all my body projects a powerful aura that causes lightbulbs to burn out (or occasionally turn on).

For instance, nearly everytime I go driving with my family, one or more streetlamps will inexplicably burn out as we drive under them.

Just ask my wife, she will confirm these observations.

Alternatively, if someone could violate the laws of thermodynamics on command, I would seriously consider joining their religion.

Comment #72824

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on January 17, 2006 11:43 AM (e)

jim:

thank you very much for your kind offer, but I think I’ll pass. See, I burn streetlamps too! How cool is that?

Comment #72830

Posted by k.e. on January 17, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

A different angle:

If god really exists why do we need pastors, priests, rabbi’s, mullah’s etc ?

Atheist from the ancient Greek word a + theos = without gods =not god outside the human mind.

stolen from dictionary.com

The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other.”

For a giggle google

Logical positivists,
Brianism

Jim you ought to be cannonised, pity your married with children you could take a lesson in charlatanism from Dembski and start a new “cult of the dead dark suckers” a zombie cult of young virgins…..dang hasn’t Dembski done that already ?.

AC: “It really does come down to what one means by “god”.”
The old elephant and the 6 blind men.
The Buddha was reputed to have said when asked this question by one of his followers “What is god” he replied along these lines “For each person on earth you will get a different answer”

It seems to be (an ancient) part of human nature perhaps a survival mechanism since we are the only animals to actually have the luxury of considering the proposition.

Comment #72843

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 17, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

Well, I am with this guy.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

BTW. There is a whole religious thread over on AtBC.

I think there’s a God. It only ticks me off when people tell me what to believe. That and thinking science can definately decide it one way or another.

Comment #72873

Posted by funknjunk on January 17, 2006 2:01 PM (e)

this thread is hilarity!! i love you guys….. i kept telling myself not to continue reading, but i couldn’t… look… away. like a particularly bad freeway incident, perhaps.

(all that follows is opinion…one man’s even… to be taken with 1000 lbs. of salt, as always)

i think that everyone has made some relevant and decent points. i tend to become chagrined when i see ‘Norman’ basically ripping on people for not having all their personal belief ducks in a row – i myself am an intellectual musician type, and could go whole years without thinking about Gawd, except when the fundies try to shove it down my gullet. and that isn’t even the top of my list of ‘apparently socially important things that i should care about’ that i don’t give a rat’s ass about….

and then there’s ‘raging bee’, who brings out that all-important ‘i too thought the way you used to, then i GREW UP and learned something’… i love that sentiment, all-too-often used by the falsely pious religious freaks in this country to denigrate their foes. please…. if you are not a religious freakazoid, refrain from the ‘you’ll learn someday, son’, pat-pat-pat on the head tone. it is disgusting.

that said, great thread. very entertaining. with all the venom and posturing based on belief, there is still a modicum of tolerance. kudos….

Comment #73019

Posted by AC on January 17, 2006 6:49 PM (e)

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

I’d like to think that if TJ were alive today, he would have a few extra things to say when he saw religion actually picking pockets (tax-exempt status for churches, “faith-based initiatives”) and breaking legs (abortion clinic bombings, religiously-motivated assaults, etc.).

Comment #73022

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 17, 2006 7:00 PM (e)

Posted by AC on January 17, 2006 06:49 PM (e)

I’d like to think that if TJ were alive today, he would have a few extra things to say when he saw religion actually picking pockets (tax-exempt status for churches, “faith-based initiatives”) and breaking legs (abortion clinic bombings, religiously-motivated assaults, etc.).

Now be serious.
That does not correlate to the quote.
It was specifically about a neighbours belief, not the antics of an organised religion.

Comment #73041

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 17, 2006 7:43 PM (e)

I find it disturbing that so many smart people think that they can define what other people think without asking them. It is not a good sign.

I find the whole need to pigeonhole everyone’s beliefs by labelling them, kinda silly. Which is why I pointed out that, in my view, I don’t really fit ANY of the pigeonholes.

And, right on cue, was jumped on for not fitting my views into the “proper” pigeonhole. (sigh)

Comment #73045

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 17, 2006 7:48 PM (e)

I’d like to think that if TJ were alive today, he would have a few extra things to say when he saw religion actually picking pockets (tax-exempt status for churches, “faith-based initiatives”) and breaking legs (abortion clinic bombings, religiously-motivated assaults, etc.).

In all fairness, it seems to be the rather exclusive domain of the FUNDIES to, uh, “serve god” in this manner.

I don’t recall ever hearing about any Unitarian Universalists blowing up abortion clinics, or any Zen Buddhists beating up people who don’t share their religion. There aren’t any Taoist terrorists, that I’ve ever heard about. And the UCC church, on principle, refuses to apply for any “faith based initiatives” funds.

Keep in mind that, despite all the fundie blither to the contrary, “religion” does not equal “fundamentalist”.

Comment #73091

Posted by Henry J on January 17, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

k.e.,
Re “since we are the only animals to actually have the luxury of considering the proposition.”
So far as we know, anyway. Without a common language with any other species it’s kind of hard to be certain of that.

Re “ The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other.”
Now that’s ironic. Zeus should’a zapped somebody.

steve s,
Re “I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of Santa Claus, “
Perhaps not 100.000000% absolutely, but close enough, since with the the traditional description of that entity, it would have produced observable effects that would have been reported by now.

Henry

Comment #73103

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on January 17, 2006 11:36 PM (e)

Lenny:

I find the whole need to pigeonhole everyone’s beliefs by labelling them, kinda silly. Which is why I pointed out that, in my view, I don’t really fit ANY of the pigeonholes.

If the label is used as a descriptor, a shorthand for use when time is short, it can be covenient. Of course, when it goes beyond that and gets wielded like a club, it stops being useful.

As I said, I am an atheist, which means that I don’t grant my assent to any belief in gods. That’s all this label means, really, and I always make a point of not allowing any additional baggage to be loaded onto it - precisely in order to avoid its usage as a club against me.

Comment #73232

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on January 18, 2006 1:33 PM (e)

Lixivium:

Too bad Ken Miller couldn’t be on the Daily Show instead. Stephen Colbert is horrible at interviews; he needs to learn to shut up and let the guest talk.

Ummmm, I think you’re missing the point….

While it may actually be the case that “The Daily Show”/”The Colbert Report” is the best news you can find on television, that doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to be that way….

Cheers,

Comment #73320

Posted by AC on January 18, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

I know it’s just the fundies, but Jefferson’s statement doesn’t take them into account. I generally appreciate his wisdom, so I wonder what he would say about the case where the proverbial neighbor is an actual fundie who picks pockets and breaks legs for his beliefs.

Comment #73335

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 18, 2006 7:07 PM (e)

As I said, I am an atheist, which means that I don’t grant my assent to any belief in gods. That’s all this label means, really, and I always make a point of not allowing any additional baggage to be loaded onto it - precisely in order to avoid its usage as a club against me.

Works for me. As long as one remembers who is attempting to club you, and who is not.

Comment #73336

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 18, 2006 7:09 PM (e)

I know it’s just the fundies, but Jefferson’s statement doesn’t take them into account. I generally appreciate his wisdom, so I wonder what he would say about the case where the proverbial neighbor is an actual fundie who picks pockets and breaks legs for his beliefs.

I’m quite sure that a musket would be involved, if necessary.

Comment #97761

Posted by smoke78 on April 21, 2006 5:00 AM (e)

Atheistic China kills prisoners to use their body parts for more “prominent” people who need them. Perhaps you have heard of Stalin; he was an “atheist” too. Your right, w/o religion the world would be a better place, as these two atheistic examples attest to.

Comment #107860

Posted by Neo-Cavalier on June 24, 2006 2:37 PM (e)

“…and the also-ran Word of the Year, ‘intelligent design’”

Er, they realise that “Intelligent Design” is *two* words, right?

BTW, I do think Prof. Miller is brilliant - at last a great scientist and devout Catholic Christian guy who shows people that there is nothing contradictory whatsoever with scientific truth and the truth of the Gospel.

In fact, Science and Religion are different subjects, which touch only occasionally in philosophy and some empirical academic research (i.e. the science behind archaeology that studies periods of history around the Scriptures, the science of koine Greek exegesis, etc.) That people get the two confused through a simplistically-flawed literalist reading of Genesis just annoys me so much!

Pax tecum,

The Cavalier

Comment #107863

Posted by Neo-Cavalier on June 24, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

Oh, and Aureola Nominee, and Raging Bee:

“I’ve always been told that an AGNOSTIC (whose literal meaning is “not knowing”) is someone who lacks a specific religious belief, doesn’t claim to know what to believe, and/or who has simply not made up his/her mind on the subject; and an ATHEIST is someone who has made up his/her mind and believes there is no god.”

“And there’s the rub: the fact that you’ve been told these things does not make them true. I am an atheist and I do not “believe there is no god”. I simply do not believe any god-claim I’ve ever encountered. Is it just me? No, as is plainly apparent by reading what several other fellows have written in this very thread. There are also plenty of atheist thinkers who have defined atheism as the lack of a god-belief.

I have no problem with people calling themselves agnostics. Actually, if one goes by the self-definition of agnosticism that agnostics often give, I am ALSO an agnostic.

I find it disturbing that so many smart people think that they can define what other people think without asking them. It is not a good sign.”

Can I just point out something that you both might find helpful:

There is an academic difference beween ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Atheists, and ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Agnostics.

Negative Atheism is the assertion that “I don’t believe there is a God personally, but I don’t deny there might be one.” This, I perceive, though I am of course perfectly willing to be corrected, is Aureola Nominee’s position.

Positive Atheism (by which Raging Bee seems to chracterise all ‘Atheism’) is the assertion that “Not only do I not believe in a God, but there can’t possibly be a God at all anyway!”

Negative Agnosticism is the assertion that “I don’t personally know if there is a God, but I don’t deny that one might be able to know.”

Positive Agnosticism is the assertion that “Not only do I not know if there is a God, I deny that anyone will ever be able to know at all!”

Hope that helps, pax tecum,

The Cavalier

Comment #107864

Posted by Neo-Cavalier on June 24, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

Oh, and Aureola Nominee, and Raging Bee:

“I’ve always been told that an AGNOSTIC (whose literal meaning is “not knowing”) is someone who lacks a specific religious belief, doesn’t claim to know what to believe, and/or who has simply not made up his/her mind on the subject; and an ATHEIST is someone who has made up his/her mind and believes there is no god.”

“And there’s the rub: the fact that you’ve been told these things does not make them true. I am an atheist and I do not “believe there is no god”. I simply do not believe any god-claim I’ve ever encountered. Is it just me? No, as is plainly apparent by reading what several other fellows have written in this very thread. There are also plenty of atheist thinkers who have defined atheism as the lack of a god-belief.

I have no problem with people calling themselves agnostics. Actually, if one goes by the self-definition of agnosticism that agnostics often give, I am ALSO an agnostic.

I find it disturbing that so many smart people think that they can define what other people think without asking them. It is not a good sign.”

Can I just point out something that you both might find helpful:

There is an academic difference beween ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Atheists, and ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Agnostics.

Negative Atheism is the assertion that “I don’t believe there is a God personally, but I don’t deny there might be one.” This, I perceive, though I am of course perfectly willing to be corrected, is Aureola Nominee’s position.

Positive Atheism (by which Raging Bee seems to chracterise all ‘Atheism’) is the assertion that “Not only do I not believe in a God, but there can’t possibly be a God at all anyway!”

Negative Agnosticism is the assertion that “I don’t personally know if there is a God, but I don’t deny that one might be able to know.”

Positive Agnosticism is the assertion that “Not only do I not know if there is a God, I deny that anyone will ever be able to know at all!”

Hope that helps, pax tecum,

The Cavalier

Comment #107865

Posted by Neo-Cavalier on June 24, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

Oh, and Aureola Nominee, and Raging Bee:

“I’ve always been told that an AGNOSTIC (whose literal meaning is “not knowing”) is someone who lacks a specific religious belief, doesn’t claim to know what to believe, and/or who has simply not made up his/her mind on the subject; and an ATHEIST is someone who has made up his/her mind and believes there is no god.”

“And there’s the rub: the fact that you’ve been told these things does not make them true. I am an atheist and I do not “believe there is no god”. I simply do not believe any god-claim I’ve ever encountered. Is it just me? No, as is plainly apparent by reading what several other fellows have written in this very thread. There are also plenty of atheist thinkers who have defined atheism as the lack of a god-belief.

I have no problem with people calling themselves agnostics. Actually, if one goes by the self-definition of agnosticism that agnostics often give, I am ALSO an agnostic.

I find it disturbing that so many smart people think that they can define what other people think without asking them. It is not a good sign.”

—————————————————-

Can I just point out something that you both might find helpful:

There is an academic difference beween ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Atheists, and ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ Agnostics.

Negative Atheism is the assertion that “I don’t believe there is a God personally, but I don’t deny there might be one.” This, I perceive, though I am of course perfectly willing to be corrected, is Aureola Nominee’s position.

Positive Atheism (by which Raging Bee seems to chracterise all ‘Atheism’) is the assertion that “Not only do I not believe in a God, but there can’t possibly be a God at all anyway!”

Negative Agnosticism is the assertion that “I don’t personally know if there is a God, but I don’t deny that one might be able to know.”

Positive Agnosticism is the assertion that “Not only do I not know if there is a God, I deny that anyone will ever be able to know at all!”

Hope that helps! Pax tecum,

The Cavalier

Comment #107866

Posted by Neo-Cavalier on June 24, 2006 2:51 PM (e)

Er, that shouldn’t have happened three times, but never mind.