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Open thread for episode #849: Spirituality in Healthcare

Today I want to mention a few more things about spirituality in healthcare.

I fully understand that someone’s personal cosmology can play a role in their health. Extreme or prolonged stress is unhealthy. And religious beliefs, as part of a person’s overall worldview, can contribute to stress or relieve it, depending on the individual. I have no problem with a patient in mental or medical treatment asking for spiritual support. And I take no issue with a facility providing them that support. When I interviewed Dr. Poole we discussed how he used referrals to religious practitioners for a number of patients, even though he is openly atheist. He became concerned, though, for a number of reasons, discussed on past shows and blogs, when there was a move to shift the spiritual and religious responsibilities to the medical/mental health professional directly—forcing patients to provide “spiritual histories” and opening the door for professional psychiatrists to pray with patients as part of standard practice. The problems and potential for abuse continue to be a topic of debate in professional journals and within these communities. Again, Dr. Poole was invited on to talk about how he specifically unwittingly became embroiled in one such dialog within the pages of the journal for the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK.

I’ve been looking at the arguments “for” incorporating “spirituality” more closely, and I’d like to share some of what I’m encountering.

One odd argument is the argument from tradition. It’s the idea that since “healing,” as an art, has been tied to religion (think exorcism, prayer groups, asking god to channel its power through a healing touch, and so on), it was an error to ever separate “spirituality” (in the form of religion/appeal to gods) from “medicine.” The problem is that medicine today is based on scientifically determined efficacy. It’s not the “healing art” of ancient times and non-Western cultures. Those forms of “healing” are no longer the “medicine,” we understand, today. Medical science is not a “healing art,” it’s a science—based in fact and demonstrated efficacy. I don’t want my surgeon to perform an exorcism on me prior to a surgery just because that’s how they did it in Jesus’ day, or because some shaman might be doing it in some corner of the globe today. When Russell sometimes jokes that if you pray and take an aspirin your headache will go away, I don’t think there is any confusion about which part of that situation is medicine and which part is not. If a patient wants religious support, they can get it as needed from the religious community—which is happy to provide it and available everywhere. But those using this justification, when they make references to the ancient, traditional medical oath, eerily remind me of those who appeal to “In god we trust” and “under god” as “traditional” arguments for why we should have a more theocratic government. The reality that we have founding fathers with religious views is not justification for a modern theocracy (anymore that saying they traditionally owned slaves is justification for modern slavery). In the same way, saying that people in the past were more superstitious—including healers—is not a good reason to reincorporate “treatments” that are not demonstrated medical science. If you’re a medical professional, I should be able to trust that you’re going to treat me using the modern meaning of “medicine”—that is treatments that are predicated on vetted medical science, rather than superstition.

If others prefer superstition, or want that in addition to medical treatment, so be it, and guide them to a group that can offer them prayer support or whatever they require. But I would like to have an option to see a doctor, who is not also a shaman.

Another argument for “spirituality in healthcare” is that “spiritual” is not “religious.” While it’s true that religion is tied to ritual, the situation appears to mimic Dover, where an “intelligent designer” does not necessarily have to mean a “god.” It’s true it doesn’t have to mean that, but the reason it was put forward was to promote Creationism in science classrooms. Make no mistake—Intelligent Design was put in play to promote god and religion. And “Spirituality” moves immediately to religious ritual when you start looking into the literature. Ask someone promoting spirituality in healthcare if they think that “religion” is part of “spirituality” and they can’t deny it. They will explain that “spirituality” means considering the “whole” person—which necessarily includes religious needs and perspectives. So, praying with a patient is a valid part of “spiritual” care—even though it’s obviously a religious ritual.

A strong advocate of spiritual healthcare, Christina M. Puchalski, MD, MS, wrote this in her article “Physicians and Patients’ Spirituality”:

Proselytizing by clinicians or dismissing patients’ spiritual or religious beliefs is unethical under all circumstances within the clinical encounter. Forcing a patient to share his or her beliefs or values is also discouraged…

“Forcing” a patient to share his or her beliefs or values isn’t forbidden, just discouraged? Under what circumstances should I be forced to disclose to my doctor that I’m an atheist? Why isn’t it clear that coercing this from me should be forbidden, not just discouraged? If my doctor isn’t pushing religion as an issue, how is my atheism even coming up in talks about my health?

In a JAMA article by Dr. Pat Fosarelli (“Medicine, Spirituality, and Patient Care”), the author says,

For many patients, faith in the supernatural (i.e., spirituality) is important—in health and (especially) in illness.

Those parenthetical comments are the author’s, not mine. The author also self-describes as “a physician and pastoral theologian” who teaches medical, nursing, chaplaincy and theology students. And clearly, Dr. Fosarelli advocates in the statement above, that “spirituality” directly relates to supernature.

Another academic, Dr. Mary Elizabeth O’Brien, has provided research which has been used to create a list of manifestations for the nursing diagnosis of “spiritual distress.” Another strong advocate of spirituality in healthcare, O’Brien shares this story in one of her books, “A Sacred Covenant: The Spiritual Ministry of Nursing,” about a nurse who reads the Bible to a stroke victim, with whom she is having difficulty communicating:

Pattie told about caring for an elderly gentleman who had suffered numerous strokes and had not regained full mobility of one arm and leg. He was feeling very sad and depressed over his physical losses. He was grieving the loss of the health and strength that he once possessed. Pattie reported that she was not always sure if her patient was understanding her, but one day she took his hand and squeezed it and read him a biblical message: ‘Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.’ Pattie added, ‘I had to repeat this quote several times but I knew that I had struck a chord.

Let this sink in. The patient can’t communicate with the nurse, and his nurse takes that as her cue to start reading the Bible aloud to him. Is this fine? The book uses this story as a shining example of how wonderful and helpful nursing can be.

Ultimately it turns out that the patient was all right with this event. However, that’s hardly the point. The question is why a nurse would be promoting her religious views to a patient she admits she’s having difficulty communicating with to the point she’s not sure he is even processing what she’s saying. What if that was an atheist in that bed? Or worse, a Muslim? For me it would be an annoyance and violation of my religious freedom. For someone of another faith, it could be blasphemy and heresy forced upon them, as well.

After my airing of the segment with Dr. Poole, I was contacted by a number of viewers relating stories of how mental and medical healthcare providers promoted and thrust religion upon them and their families during treatment. I’m not sure how aware people are that this is happening. Dr. Poole serves in a capacity where he is tasked with investigating ethical complaints brought against his peers by patients. While he is clear that complaints about sexual misconduct are not rampant, he stated during an interview with me on Godless Bitches that complaints about religious violations easily outnumber accusations of sexual misconduct. Additionally, the Secular Therapists Project was created to respond to the need for non-religious providers. The program was so in-demand they had to recruit volunteer operators to help with incoming calls.

Now imagine how complicated Dr. Poole’s investigative job would become if a movement began to promote “sexuality in healthcare.” Imagine that forcing a patient to share their sexual experiences and views is “discouraged,” but not forbidden. Imagine that a nurse initiating sexual contact with a patient unable to communicate or move, is praised by professionals advocating for this position. And imagine that the argument “for” it was simply that sexuality is part of being a whole human, which gives medical and mental health professionals a right to integrate discussions on the patient’s sexuality, and even incorporate sexual practices into therapy settings, where the problems presented are not tied to sexual behaviors in any way more compelling than “sexuality is part of who we are as whole human beings.”

Even today when religion is not routinely integrated into healthcare, and where spirituality is not considered a standard part of practice, we know there are professionals who are not able to identify healthy boundaries. We are aware there are complaints and abuses. To suggest that relaxing these standards, and, further, telling students entering the field that integrating this into treatment is perfectly acceptable, can only be an invitation for more and greater violations. When a solid boundary is not sufficient to stop the abuse, how can anyone reason that a fuzzier boundary might be a better solution?

I’m still looking at this issue, but, so far, it seems to be the same old theme we’ve seen repeatedly. Religious people want to promote their religion and thrust it onto nonadherents, blind to the violation of religious freedom. They go to court and say “in god we trust” is a tradition, not a religion. But as soon as the case is ended, they run the “we’re a Christian nation” flag right up the pole and fly it as high as they can. They go into schools to say that “intelligent design” is not religion, just an alternative view of cosmology that should be considered. But we saw the evidence at Dover. And so we know. We know, and they know, the drill. You take the religious items, you package them in secular wrapping paper, and you hand it out to society at large hoping that enough people won’t look inside the box, so that you can saturate the market of ideas with your religion before anyone realizes you’ve slid it through the door.

So, is it a well-meaning, but misguided secular initiative being infiltrated by religious parties? Or is it a well-packaged religious initiative being bought up by unaware secular parties? In the end, since the potential for abuses is present either way—does it matter? The benefit to the patient can be had using referrals to religious practitioners. The medical and mental health communities can continue to partner in teams to assist patients. There is no reason professionals in the medical or mental health communities need to start incorporating, or even re-incorporating, religious rituals into their therapeutic settings. The “benefit” it provides is already available to patients in the form of pastoral referrals. On the flip side, the risks are undeniable and abuses already occuring. Why invite significantly greater risk where it doesn’t offer significantly greater benefit?

Something about this math just doesn’t seem to add up. And when an explanation fails to make sense, that’s often a sign of justification after the fact—of a subtext in play.

Comments

  1. David Munson says

    When my twins were delivered 4 weeks early they spent their first month in the NICU. During the first few days a pastor came into my wife’s hospital room. After a few minutes of small talk she reached out her hand to my wife and I and asked us if we would like to pray together with her. I gave her a snarky look and firmly said “no”. The look on her face was disbelief and shock – I am sure that not many people turn her down. No further explanation was asked for or given, but the response did the trick. Not only did this pastor never return to visit us during that month, the rest of them left us alone as well.

  2. says

    Re: Hypothesis

    No, caller, you don’t have a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an idea that is specifically structured to be testable and falsifiable. That’s the point. That intentional construction is the key to how hypothesis testing progresses science. No hypothesis can hang in limbo.

    • subzerobob says

      Fine, hang in limbo! As long as there is no trial, we don’t even have to present you with the defendant. touche!
      I was kind of trying to make the point that there is a certain degree of belief in any claim. Especially in the cases where one thinks that one particular belief is most likely and takes more measures like building expensive models in order to test its validity. in the case of the higgs boson, the claim is based on a mathematical model. There are many mathematical models, which are purely based on imagination. However many of these models can currently be brought into reality perhaps by means of designing a virtual world based on those models for example. But we are still left with extraordinary claim (God) that requires extraordinary evidence. And just because we haven’t come up with ways to validate it, it doesn’t mean that there are no such ways that can be invented millions of years in the future. On the other hand, demanding evidence, or asking the how do we measure it question when you know that currently we don’t have an answer, shows on the other hand a hidden certain degree of certainty that no such ways could ever be found. Matt is using this technique very effectively to come up on top of the arguments and in a way asserts a certain authority which send a message of discouragement to anybody who is in real pursuit of trying to come up with something extraordinary. The whole atheist movement it seems now is acting with such a strong voice: there is no evidence! Which is often used to ridicule theists. I do know what deductive reasoning is, but when he says “,..by someone who doesn’t know what deductive reasoning means” it comes of as everyone show now make fun of this guy that called today that doesn’t even know what deductive reasoning means… And one more rant about abortion, this push for pro-choice could eventually lead to aborting what could be the next Einstein or the next breakthrough in finding ways to prove to you once and for all that there is a God. So it would be a very smart move if you don’t want such things to ever be discovered to make sure an abort as many fetuses [potential future Einsteins] as possible. It would also (on the moral grounds) make perfect sense to battle human suffering by making sure that few of us are ever born. That is of course until we discover that there is God and life is really such a rarity in the universe that intent all along was for us to note its rarity and to try to preserve it and spread it all across galaxies and everywhere else on the universe.

      • Monocle Smile says

        And just because we haven’t come up with ways to validate it, it doesn’t mean that there are no such ways that can be invented millions of years in the future.

        Tough shit. The time to believe something is AFTER it’s been verified. You don’t get to claim victory by getting lucky and having it right beforehand for no reason.

        Matt is using this technique very effectively to come up on top of the arguments and in a way asserts a certain authority which send a message of discouragement to anybody who is in real pursuit of trying to come up with something extraordinary.

        Oh, boo fucking hoo. 99.9% of the time, woo is a waste of resources. Also, if a little “discouragement” from someone who isn’t tied to your “research” is enough to make you stop, then you are totally spineless. I call this “argumentum ad bullium,” which is just an evolution of tone trolling. Get over it.

        this push for pro-choice could eventually lead to aborting what could be the next Einstein or the next breakthrough in finding ways to prove to you once and for all that there is a God.

        Or we could abort the next Hitler or Anders Breivik. I can make nonsencial appeals to imaginary consequences, too. See, you could go back in time and slaughter every great scientist and we’d probably be approximately where we are today. This is because not only does no scientist work alone (if they have a brain), but we’re talking about discoveries pertaining to reality. You could immolate every physics book on the planet today and it wouldn’t change our observations about how nature works. We could recreate it ALL from scratch. On the other hand, religion could never arise the exact same way twice because it’s not grounded in reality.

        It would also (on the moral grounds) make perfect sense to battle human suffering by making sure that few of us are ever born.

        A straw man, a slippery slope, and the naturalistic fallacy. Awesome.

        That is of course until we discover that there is God

        And now you’re done. You have zero interest in rational discourse because you’ve already assumed your conclusion and just vomiting pointless rhetoric that turns into whining.

        • subzerobob says

          RE: “You don’t get to claim victory”
          I am not claiming a victory now, but you most desperately seem as trying to claim victory now and forever.
          RE: “The time to believe something is AFTER it’s been verified.”
          The point I am trying to make is that there is a degree of belief necessary for you to start pursuing further into how to prove a claim, especially when you are taking Extraordinary measures (like building the LHC)
          RE: “boo fucking hoo,” and “waste of resources” and “Get over it.” is exactly why I don’t stick myself but I am joining the frontier to expose that this is a battle. Because you already Believe that everything is “woo” and leads to nothing. What I am doing is expressing Healthy skepticism towards your position the life of which is entirely dependent on my position. If all of a sudden the whole world stopped talking about God, then what would you do as a ridiculing bigotry collective? You will be gone too! That thought for me is actually the only reason why I will not give you a theater, a scene or venue to continue to form bullying conventions.
          RE: “religion could never arise the exact same way twice” majority of different religions have different things to say about the same faith – one God! That’s what I am arguing will arise exactly the same, and that is why it is a mind independent concept! The different religions a like different pain brushes that paint the character of God in different light. Regarding you aborting Hitler, no need! If Hitler is ever born again, humanity will eradicate him the same way we did it last time. But by aborting everything, you minimize the chance for the next Einstein to arise, and yet you argue that we can come up with it without Einstein, which we haven’t been able to do in 58 years. All I am saying – don’t limit this chance! It is rare and much more important than potentially running the risk of coming up with another Hitler.
          RE: “A straw man, a slippery slope, and the naturalistic fallacy.” How abortion as means to eliminate human suffering (this is an extension of efilism – look it up) how is that a straw man and naturalistic fallacy again??
          RE: “vomiting pointless rhetoric” – No! That’s what this show is good at! All I am saying is if the intent was for life to be a rarity, and it was our duty to discover this rarity, then it makes perfect sense that we should make it our top priority to spread life everywhere else in the universe. I don’t see rhetoric, I am just expressing my opinion. Tell me which part of this rarity argument is bad, and I will even take out God out of it, just so that you can focus on how RARE life is in the universe and that on its own should be a very heavy weight towards making every attempt possible to preserve it!

          • Narf says

            majority of different religions have different things to say about the same faith – one God! That’s what I am arguing will arise exactly the same, and that is why it is a mind independent concept! The different religions a like different pain brushes that paint the character of God in different light.

            You haven’t studied the various world religions much, have you? They’re quite irreconcilable into anything approaching what you propose, as various ways of looking at a single being. The only way your line would work is if that god had a severe case of Multiple-Personality Disorder or was a trickster of some sort who enjoyed fucking with us.

          • Monocle Smile says

            You’re an absolute moron. It’s like you don’t know anything about anything. Let’s address a few of these.

            there is a degree of belief necessary for you to start pursuing further into how to prove a claim, especially when you are taking Extraordinary measures (like building the LHC)

            Wrong. I don’t have to believe a hypothesis to ANY degree (and I shouldn’t) to propose it or test it. That’s not how belief works, you dolt.

            The LHC wasn’t built because people believed the Higgs Boson existed as it was found to exist. I don’t know how anyone could say something so stupid. The LHC has a number of uses, several of which were already done on smaller scales with less expensive equipment in other labs. You seem to think they were flying blind.

            you already Believe that everything is “woo” and leads to nothing.

            I recommend learning what words mean before making an ass of yourself.

            If all of a sudden the whole world stopped talking about God, then what would you do as a ridiculing bigotry collective? You will be gone too!

            This is PRECISELY why we exist! We do this work so that one day we won’t have to! You ARE a moron!

            If Hitler is ever born again, humanity will eradicate him the same way we did it last time.

            Over 6 million corpses later. You really don’t care about human life, for all your pointless posturing. I don’t know if I can give half a shit what you say after this bit of wasted typespace.

            by aborting everything, you minimize the chance for the next Einstein to arise, and yet you argue that we can come up with it without Einstein, which we haven’t been able to do in 58 years.

            Aborting everything? What the fuck drugs are you on? And what the shit haven’t we been able to do for 58 years? It’s like someone opened your skull and jammed a taser into your brain. Your inability to be totally wrong about absolutely everything is beyond creationist level at this point.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @subzerobob
            I’ll try to be a little nicer than some of my friends here.

            majority of different religions have different things to say about the same faith – one God!

            The different religions a like different pain brushes that paint the character of God in different light.

            lolno.

            The world’s religions are radically different.

            Second, there’s a commonality of only one god in the world’s religions? What? Where did you get that silly idea? Talk about western chauvinism. You’re forgetting Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Native American religions, Hinduism, various animist religions, and so on.

            Furthermore, this “one god” thing isn’t exactly fair. Take Hinduism for example. My understanding is that all of the gods are just different aspects of the one big top god. In a very similar way, in Roman Catholicism, you have the one top god, with a bunch of subordinate helper gods. At least, that’s how a Hindu would see it. The Roman Catholics instead prefer to use the term “angel” and “demon”. And even then, how can you say that there’s one god with this trinity thing? Three in 1? That’s half a step away from a three-way power sharing.


            About your aborting Hitler and Einstein argument. This is simply asinine. I see absolutely no attempt at analysis of how many pregnancies are good babies, how many pregnancies are bad babies, what kind of summing algorithm we should use, and more. No evidence. No analysis. It’s a complete hand-wave. And even if you show that it’s better “on average” to not abort – so what? It’s their body, and in western society we have the concept that we are not slaves to society, and that we have the right to live our life as it pleases us without being completely beholden to the betterment of society. Even if you could show your argument about the proportion of babies, you would still need to argue that doing actual concrete harm to women is worth it, and that is the argument you cannot show.


            Finally, this gem:

            It would also (on the moral grounds) make perfect sense to battle human suffering by making sure that few of us are ever born.

            And the rest of your “rarity” argument.

            So what? So what if there is a god who created us for some purpose? So what? If that purpose is inconsistent with us living a good happy life, I’d tell god to get bent. If there is a god, I do not give a rat’s ass about its intended purpose (if any) for humans. I do not privilege god’s opinion over that of any other humans, even my own parents. I am my own person, and I make my own choices about how I want to live my life. Other people’s opinions of the purpose of me are irrelevant.

          • Monocle Smile says

            EL, the only reason I’m not nice is because A) Bobby’s been kind of a dick so far and B) this isn’t his first rodeo on this blog. He’s gotten a full order of magnitude worse than last time he posted on a thread, in my opinion.

          • Monocle Smile says

            Oh, that wasn’t a condemnation. I do commend you for trying, but I felt I should probably explain myself…in a vacuum, I come across rather strong on this thread.

          • says

            Just to correct a few things in this thread:

            1. The Amazon Piraha, just as an example, have no word for god and no creation mythology. Additionally atheists have no god beliefs. Therefore the claim that belief in god is a universal is incorrect. The follow up that if it were a universal human concept it would necessitate being true, is also wrong. People in all societies dream. That does not mean that the content of dreams are real. Story telling is common in all societies, and gods/heroes–basically humans that are more powerful, more beautiful, smarter, and what-have-you, make for good stories. Additionally children demonstrably anthropomorphize nature. If a child shuts a hand in a door, they may say “it bit me.” Also, research shows that when we are confronted with situations where we have less control, we revert to this mode. So, in tests where people had to control balls in a game, when the game was (unbeknownst to the subjects) rigged so that the balls would not cooperate, the subjects use far more anthropomorphic descriptors. They would say things like “the balls don’t seem to want to go into the holes”–attributing intention to the balls, even though, from the subject’s perspective, there was no reason to think the ball was animate. People in life are not always in control. The less control they have, the more they seem to want to attribute intention outside themselves–someone/something else controlling things. The idea that the next logical step would be to find a way to talk to this magical intent and ask it to please cooperate with us, is hardly a leap. And it would be universally human, and account for trying to apply anthropomorphic intent to the universe.

            2. There are no degrees of belief. Belief means accepting a claim as true. True means that a claim has been judged to align with reality. That is, when I assert I have a mug in my hand, it’s true if there is a mug in my hand. If there is no mug in my hand it is not true. To claim you believe it is to claim that you agree I actually DO have a mug in my hand. If a claim cannot be compared to reality, and we cannot, therefore, assess whether it corresponds to reality or not–then there is no way to asses whether or not it’s true. In other words, you can be aware that I’m claiming I’m holding a mug, and accept that that’s what I claim, without believing it AT ALL. That being said, trivial claims are often accepted as true without vetting, because much of the claim has already been repeatedly vetted. In other words, religious people often try to claim you have faith your brakes will work on your car. As someone whose brakes have failed, I can promise people that I don’t have faith in my brakes. But neither am I paranoid and plagued with a believe they WILL fail. The fact is, I know how the brakes work. I know there are times they may not work. And I understand that by a huge margin, due to how they work and what can go wrong, they are going to work. This is demonstrated by every driver every day to be true. The fact I don’t worry intensely about brake failure is not evidence that I think my brakes are never going to fail. It’s evidence that I’m aware the odds of failure are low, and so I am reasonable in operating *as though* they will work–even though I acknowledge they sometimes fail. This is very, VERY different than non-trivial claims. Let’s say I have a friend who has been generally reliable and honest. If they tell me they had eggs for breakfast, I will not spend too much time requiring evidence, but I also don’t assign importance to the claim or care if it’s true or not. Now, if that same person came to me upset one night claiming to have been abducted by aliens, all the reliability in the world would not make me simply accept that claim. The reason is that it is new information that actually would alter what I think I know about reality in a non-trivial, very important way. So, now, I’m being asked to choose between my friend’s claim, and REALITY as I’m aware of it. That means that the claim, from a reliable friend or not, is going to take some evidence–more than “X is generally reliable.” Other things can happen to make generally reliable people claim wrong things, and I’d have to consider that “they really were abducted by aliens” is not only not the only possible explanation, but one that corresponds the least to what I already know about reality.

            “Belief” simply means that you accept that the claim reflects reality. And reality either is that way, or it isn’t. If you aren’t able to assert that the claim IS reflecting what we have going on in reality, then it’s incorrect to call your position “belief.” That is, saying “I think X is possible” is not “a degree of belief.” It’s actually unbelief/disbelief. Until you can say “X is reality/true”–you have not come to believe it. That’s why the Higgs Boson example fails. The hypothesis is to simply ask “Could it be this?” The test is what answers that question with “yes/not yes.” If the test is inconclusive, then we are holding in a “cannot assess the truth of this claim” pattern–and still at “not yes.” Until we can demonstrate it as corresponding to reality, we have no justification for simply jumping to the conclusion “it’s true.” The results of the testing determine whether or not we can say “Hey, OK, we can now say it corresponds to reality” and at THAT point it becomes justified to call it true, and to call it “a belief.” I would argue that if the assumption “it’s true” exists at the hypothesis stage–going to such trouble to test is is pointless–what would be the reason if you already feel justified in calling it “true”? The entire point of testing it is to see whether or not we can finally say it’s true/corresponds to reality–precisely because the mathematical models could be wrong.

          • Narf says

            EL, the only reason I’m not nice is because A) Bobby’s been kind of a dick so far and B) this isn’t his first rodeo on this blog. He’s gotten a full order of magnitude worse than last time he posted on a thread, in my opinion.

            Plus, his borderline-word-salad takes more effort than it’s worth to decipher, at points, so I’m already annoyed by the time I get to analyzing and responding to his actual “argument”. :D

          • John Kruger says

            The phrase “mind independent concept” makes about as much sense and “water independent wetness”. I guess if there is no response to gibberish it must be right.

      • Narf says

        And one more rant about abortion, this push for pro-choice could eventually lead to aborting what could be the next Einstein or the next breakthrough in finding ways to prove to you once and for all that there is a God.

        That’s one of the most useless arguments you could make. A certain number of babies will be born. They will be spread across the typical span of human potentiality. A few near the top 10% or so of the curve will make brilliant contributions to our society. That won’t change by aborting a tiny percentage of fetuses that would potentially have turned into living humans. We’ll still have the same distribution.

        Your entire post is soaked with desperate longing for justification of your fantasy worldview. If all of these amazing bits of evidence are going to come forward to justify it, then why don’t we freaking have any of it now? How did anyone discover this amazing, absolute truth without any evidence to base it upon? “God” speaking to a bunch of schizophrenics and epileptics, in their heads, thousands of years ago, is not a solid foundation upon which to build anything approaching the truth.

        • subzerobob says

          all I am saying is that in your statistical model of top 10% contribution, there could be room for error of a super small size – lets say 0.00001% and within that margin of error is where possibly the next Einstein lies. I stop here and I say – this is a chance we cannot take, and not just that – knowing how rare intelligent life is, to miss out on the chance to have the highest intelligence go to waste, is not fair to the rarity not just of life in the universe but intelligent life in the entire existence during all of time! I look at this 0.000001% and I see huge potential. You look at this and see “desperate longing for justification of your fantasy worldview” which I think is silly way to shrug this off. Sadly you just don’t realize what you are saying…
          Regarding the schizophrenics and epileptics, I wish you could say this in the face of Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicholas Copernicus, Rene Descartes, and even Albert Einstein who recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. There currently 6 billion schizophrenics and epileptics in this world versus about 172 million self righteous super beings we currently call atheists. Now when you look at the real numbers do you still feel like insulting?

          • Narf says

            all I am saying is that in your statistical model of top 10% contribution, there could be room for error of a super small size – lets say 0.00001% and within that margin of error is where possibly the next Einstein lies. I stop here and I say – this is a chance we cannot take …

            Dude, what part are you not understanding about that being a stupid argument?

            We have to desperately make sure that every woman in the world completely submits to every rapist who tries to force himself upon her! The woman who resists her rapist might have given birth to the next Einstein! Women should be banned from using any birth control! If every woman doesn’t have a baby once a year, the baby she isn’t having during that year might have been the next Einstein!

            I’ve heard some really fucking stupid arguments for banning abortion, but that is one of the worst I’ve ever heard. Are you a poser or something, deliberately making the most stupid arguments you can come up with?

            Regarding the schizophrenics and epileptics, I wish you could say this in the face of Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicholas Copernicus, Rene Descartes, and even Albert Einstein who recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe.

            Einstein wasn’t a theist, you moron.

            Before I even got into his crazy religious beliefs, I would want to ask Isaac Newton what his deal was with alchemy. Most scientists of his age had already realized that it was bullshit, and yet he continued to buy into it.

            I’ve read bits of Francis Collins’s non-scientific writing, although not much, because it was too damned painful. For all that the guy is a brilliant scientist, it’s almost as if he completely shuts his brain off when he speaks about his religion. If he approached his scientific endeavors with the same degree of rationality that he does religious matters, he would be lucky to get a job as a high school biology teacher. It’s this little thing called compartmentalization. He puts his religious beliefs in a little box and doesn’t examine them with the rationality that he uses in every other aspect of his life.

            Anyway, I shouldn’t have even bothered dealing with those three specific cases. What does your list even have to do with schizophrenics and epileptics who think they’re hearing god speaking to them? Those are just a bunch of religious believers … although not all of them are even that. I want to see quotes from each of those people, saying that they spoke with god directly and heard replies.

            There currently 6 billion schizophrenics and epileptics in this world …

            Seriously? Are you stupid or something?

          • Tawn says

            So you’re against abortion because we might just be aborting the next Einstein?

            This is a really bad argument with many ways to refute.. here’s some others the posts above didn’t mention..
            a) Forcing a woman (and a family) to go through the process of giving birth to and raising a child at a time that is not ideal for them, may very well damage THEIR prospects of being a great person. For all we know the pregnant woman is the next Rosalind Franklin who is prevented from pursuing her studies.
            (It is a bad argument I know, but equivalent to your own)

            b) Einstein may have been the first to present the idea of relativity, but without him would we never have discovered it? Probably not. Much of science is built on the knowledge of others and this is more true today as studies and experiments require the input of large groups of people. Sudden insights and breakthroughs are certainly great achievements by the individuals involved, but are more a reflection of our culture and civilisation. Why does Britain boast so many great scientists from the enlightenment? A genetic fluke.. or was the environment right for fostering such minds?

          • John Kruger says

            How many women could you have impregnated with what could be the next Einstein in the time it takes you to write on this blog? Stop wasting time nocturnally emitting possible Einsteins and get to work! DO you really want to risk one of them not existing!?!?!

          • Raymond says

            I know this is a few days down the road, but don’t you think that a better use of our resources is to maximize the potential of the people already living? How many people alive today have outstanding potential to contribute to the growth of our society, but because of bigotry and poverty will never be able to contribute? Do you honestly believe that using our resources to maximize reproduction would really do anything? Do you think that the addition of millions of people to our society would result in the next Einstein? Or would the most likely result be the drastic increase in the unemployment rate, the decrease in societal standards of living, and utilizing resources you would theoretically use to ensure the maximization process to begin with? If we had unlimited resources, I agree that it would be good to ensure the survival of every fetus; but we have limited resources. We must decide what is the best use of those resources to maximize the potential of our species. I believe that adding millions of homless to our streets isn’t the way to go. I think we should be using those resources to ensure that the people who are already alive have the greatest chance to succeed.

          • AhmNee says

            I think Bob has a good argument. Therefore we should start aborting ALL babies now in case one of them turns out to be the next Ted Bundy, Unibomber, Osama Bin Ladin, Etc.

            Say it with me.

            ABORT ALL BABIES NOW!
            ABORT ALL BABIES NOW!
            ABORT ALL BABIES NOW!

          • subzerobob says

            re: Narf
            “Einstein wasn’t a theist, you moron.”

            In an interview published in 1930 in G. S. Viereck’s book Glimpses of the Great, Einstein, in response to a question about whether or not he believed in God, explained:
            “Your question [about God] is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am NOT an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist.”

            if he was not an atheist, and if he couldn’t define himself as a pantheist, but constantly refers to “reading the mind of god” in my opinion this makes him some kind of theist…
            more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Albert_Einstein

          • Narf says

            And his personal letters, which you would think would be a more accurate representation of what he really thinks, indicate that he doesn’t think that the Jews are special or chosen in any way, and he in no way believes in a personal deity.

            The funniest part is that you think it makes any difference, one way or the other. I don’t care how many otherwise-rational people believed in a god-concept of some sort. Hell, most of the people on your list lived in a much less scientifically advanced time, when our accumulated knowledge of the cosmos was at least an order of magnitude less than it is now. Perhaps if Newton lived in the present day, he would see how stupid his pursuit of alchemy was.

            Do you know why you have to reach back hundreds of years to pull names that people know within the field of science? Most of the big names in science, today, are atheists. Not that I put forward this fact unprompted, in an argument, but it makes an amusing counterpoint to your nonsense.

            Even for those on your list who are still alive, I don’t fucking care. Do you not understand what an argument from authority is and why it’s a logical fallacy? … and that you just made the textbook example of it?

            Just because a particular intelligent person wasn’t able to shake the childhood brainwashing that makes him hold a god belief, the fact that he holds that belief gives zero weight to the validity of that belief.

            The arguments stand and fall on their own merit … and I’ve read the arguments that Francis Collins makes, in favor of his god-belief. They’re irrational bullshit. You can almost see the point at which he shuts down his rational mind, when he stops speaking about his scientific interests and turns to his religion. If he treated his scientific pursuits with the same mindset that he does his religious pursuits, he would have never made it beyond being a middle-school science teacher, except perhaps in Mississippi or somewhere similar.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            There has been a concerted effort to tar the name of nonbelievers, and especially the word “atheist”. Because of that, many atheists don’t like the word, including such famous people like Einstein, Russell (the other one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell ), Carl Sagan, and a few popular spokespeople of science today who I shall not name. That’s just off the top of my head. So don’t be surprised if you find people who are atheists but don’t like the word.

            “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

      • says

        re: Bobby’s ‘aborting Einstein’ claim, I ran across this tid-bit when looking into the Munoz case:

        http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20140125-if-ruling-doesnt-end-munoz-case-fetal-viability-could-be-relevant.ece

        The average IQ of a fetus delivered after 24 weeks is 70, he said. And for a fetus with the difficulties described in the Muñoz case, the prognosis could be even more challenging.

        Also this:

        In Texas case law, the closest parallel to the Muñoz case may be Miller vs. HCA. In 1990, a woman just over 23 weeks pregnant suffered an infection that forced the doctors to induce delivery. She and her husband said before the procedure that they wanted no extraordinary measures taken with the child. Instead, the extremely premature baby was rushed to intensive care where, a couple of days later, she suffered a blood clot on her brain.

        By the time the Texas Supreme Court ruled against the parents in 2003, the girl was a teenager — blind, unable to speak and incontinent.

        Right to lifers are so rapidly-focusing on saving a life, they forget all about QUALITY of life for the person and their families.

  3. subzerobob says

    Re: Monocle Smile wrote ” 99.9% of the time, woo is a waste of resources.” That’s right – I want to talk about 0.01% of the time because that’s where the truth lies. I wonder – what would you call the 0.01%? An anomaly? A computation error? And the fact that you realize there is a 0.01% but you choose to ignore it, speaks more about your Belief that there is nothing there, where everything could be there! But yet you are wasting every sunday ridiculing the 99.9% and somehow that is effective?

    • Narf says

      Usually, it’s more like coincidence. Or, in the case of aspirin, it was one of the tiny percentage of folk remedies that actually does something like what it was supposed to do. What you do is run a scientific test to determine if there’s any effect that’s even worth studying. When the tests come back with no useful result, which is the case with all alt-med crap, you discard the folk nonsense. If any given alt-med has been demonstrated to work, it isn’t alt-med; it’s medicine.

      Oh, and the way you speak of The Truth … I don’t think you know what that word means. Usually, truthful things don’t have to be weeded out from the 99.99% of useless crap, because they’re true and obvious. We test the hell out of them anyway to discover more minute details of the phenomenon, but the base phenomenon is established from the earliest tests.

      • subzerobob says

        I am not just looking for truth, I am looking for progress. I see no progress in this reply… sorry! Besides, this reply wasn’t even for you, but for Monocle Smile.

        • Narf says

          It’s a comment board, man. Do you not understand the way these things work?

          And yeah, as long as you stick to your Bronze Age superstitions, you’re not likely to see much progress. Good luck shedding yourself of those.

          • subzerobob says

            bronze age superstitions have evolved to modern day still practicing religions. that’s progress. There is no progress past discovering that nothing is responsible for existence, because there is no need to search past nothing.

          • Narf says

            That’s what cosmology is for. Cosmologists actually discover things about the nature of the early universe and what caused it to exist. Religionists make up shit about it with no justification.

      • CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

        @Narf #3.1:

        Or, in the case of aspirin, it was one of the tiny percentage of folk remedies that actually does something like what it was supposed to do.

        Folk remedies led to isolating salicylic acid, which was confirmed to be useful against inflammation and fever – roughly the effects ascribed to it.
         
         
        However, in a BBC documentary segment about aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), Dr. Walter Sneader comments…

        It was an early illustration of how a simple chemical modification to an existing molecule [(salicylic acid)] can make a far superior drug which had additional properties. The additional properties of aspirin were due entirely to the acetyl group. Without the acetyl group, it wouldn’t work.

        Rather amusingly, I keep reading reports of how in ancient times, plants containing salicylates were used as painkillers. It’s nonsense. They might’ve been used as painkillers, but they didn’t work. The acetyl group of aspirin – which was a synthetic drug – had to be present in order to kill pain.

        Video: Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines

          • Sadako says

            Yes, the placebo effect is interesting–and it’s probably why folk medicines and bullshit like homeopathy have held ground for so long. The placebo effect is why we do double blind studies and research new medicines over many years, though, to ensure that the drug being tested really DOES have an effect.

        • Jake Chambers says

          Hi, please remove the link to my page. I don’t want people who frequent this site to watch the videos I upload. Regardless of the name, I find the members of this site to be continuously biased towards their own way of thinking and vehemently attack those that think differently. Freethought Blogs.. really. So, if he wanted, Nick Griffin could upload blogs here right? Also, the sheer stupidity to combine two unrelated ideas and act as if they’re compatible, and that one acts off the other is retarded, especially when one part shouldn’t even be regarded as a movement at all. If anyone can adequately explain the link between feminism and atheism, I’ll buy you a net of chocolate coins from a supermarket here you’d consider worse than Walmart.

          Atheism isn’t a movement. It’s the antithesis of that.
          You don’t believe in a fiction, good job. You’re one step further in that one regard to every other asshole here.
          I’d pretend to be proud, but I couldn’t give two shits.

          Go fuck yourself.

          • Narf says

            We’ll be sure to give a damn about your request, after your flaming rant, certainly. You can re-upload the video to change the URL, but beyond that … nope.

          • corwyn says

            Hi, please remove the link to my page. I don’t want people who frequent this site to watch the videos I upload.

            What we have here is failure to understand the internet.

        • Narf says

          By the way, thanks for the info, Sky Captain. I meant to say that a while back, after you first posted that comment, but I see that I didn’t, for some reason.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      @subzerobob
      Not enough specifics. Skepticism is the position that you should withhold belief until there is solid evidence.

      As a separate thing, most people who claim to talk to the dead, or ghosts, or spirits, or use chi, etc., are full of shit. We have lots and lots of evidence for this proposition. Thus, a good default position on this topic is that anyone who says such things is full of shit. This position is not absolute, and we are open to having our mind changed, but the evidence comes before having our mind changed.

      What you wrote almost seems to say that we all accept that 99.99% of the time physics works, but there’s 0.01% times that spirits or ghosts or ghouls do something. That’s simply not true. That’s not the beliefs of most people here. Most of us here do not take it as given nor shown that 0.01% of the time that spirits or ghosts or ghouls interact in human affairs. In fact, I think the evidence is pretty good that they never do, and that the proper number is 0%. Of course, I’m a skeptic, and so I am open to having my mind changed, but my mind is not so open that my brain falls out. I am still going to hold to the conclusion that there are no spirits or ghosts or ghouls until such time that someone presents good evidence otherwise.

      • AhmNee says

        Precisely. The 0.01% is when an observation does not happen as expected and it isn’t known why. There’s no supernatural attribution and it’s likely a flaw somewhere in the experiment.

  4. subzerobob says

    RE: Narf
    “The only way your line would work is if that god had a severe case of Multiple-Personality Disorder or was a trickster of some sort who enjoyed fucking with us.”
    I hope you realize that you are making a subjective claim about the character of God. Just because you think that God is so and so, in no way does it disprove God’s existence. If anything you are on your way to start your own religion! I came from a different country that has a predominantly different mainstream religion than what is in the US, plus the minority religions made the exact opposite claims of the same Modern faith – one God [not historical myths like Zeus or Thor, but religions that have evolved through time and been refined to modern day surviving religions - you gotta ask yourself why are they surviving?] So yeah – I’ve been personally exposed to many different Modern religions, and I can tell you fist hand that they are all looking at the same God. Attacking my character does nothing to the argument! Hope you do know that?!

    • Narf says

      Ah, so you’ve explored other religions that have the same base myths as Christianity. I’m not impressed. Try exploring the god-concepts of many different religions, not just the Abrahamic ones.

      You know, your own god emerged from a pantheon of gods similar to those of Zeus and Thor, which you mock. Just because yours has morphed into something different doesn’t even vaguely point to any sort of truth.

      … you gotta ask yourself why are they surviving?

      Religious studies professors ask exactly that sort of question. The resulting conclusions are not the truth of any claims they make but instead involve the emotional needs that the given faith fulfills in its worshipers. There’s a good deal of random luck involved, as well. If one civilization conquers a neighboring civilization, the religion of the conquered civilization tends to lose out, not necessarily through any direct fault of its own attributes.

      There’s a great deal about religious attrition that takes on an almost Darwinian aspect, if you examine history.

      • subzerobob says

        re: “…but instead involve the emotional needs that the given faith fulfills in its worshipers.” So God is just a dream to help us get by? This doesn’t explain why this dream occurs in the first place? Why does the need to invent something to help us get by? Why can’t we just be content with death and loss? It seems like life doesn’t work this way. I do recognize that you have something to prove, I just don’t know what exactly? That there is no hope at all? Don’t even bother trying any further? Isn’t that exactly the discouraging point I was trying to make during the show? OK, fine! I give in – there is nothing! There is no need to ask why, because there was no intent for existence to begin with! It happened due to quantum vacuum fluctuations and instability between the week and the strong force, and thus everything came out of nothing, hence all we have to iron out now is the How and not the Why, because again – there was nothing in the beginning. Ok. got it. Nothing. That’s the answer. And if that is the answer then it is truly game over! There is Nothing to search past Nothing! There is no motivation for further research once you know – it was Nothing! As a matter of fact – everything doesn’t matter! All moral values are just illusions. We can even determine that collective human suffering throughout all time is too huge to allow it to continue. That humans are just a pest to the planet and all the more reasons to stop procreating all together. As a matter of fact we should make the argument that it should be the law – you know efilism: life spelled backwards. The only way to undo the damage is to take the downward spiral backwards into Nothing, afterall – that is where we came from, and no need to get our hopes up, because hopes only lead to false beliefs, because there is Nothing after we die. Death is the ultimate loss. And in the last seconds of your life I want you think that you will never wake up again! You will never hug your loved ones again, and they will suffer tremendously when your are gone, some might never recover, but it doesn’t matter because life has no intrinsic meaning at all. This sort of thing suffering, it doesn’t have to happen. It is entirely subjective and we can train it out of you with some atheism rhetoric. And if it continues to happen anyway, then we just label it as an anomaly, You could die today and it won’t make a difference. Your children will be born and ask “Why do we have to live if we are going to die? Isn’t it kind of inefficient? Daddy – but I don’t want to die!” And you can just say – cuz I felt lonely and I thought I should share this misery with somebody, I didn’t want to die alone. That what Nothing lead to for me. And No! God is not just a dream that helps me get by! Because it doesn’t explain why such dream would even come to me in the first place if I could train myself out of dreaming about it?! Especially now that I know that there is nothing. Even if I was content with dying, and if I could embrace the hypothesis that there is nothing, this dream could still come to me. Why? Why is the majority of us (6 billion) designed this way? And those of you (172 million) that say that you don’t have this design flaw, how do I trust that you really don’t? How do I know that you are not just saying this because you’ve prayed and there was no answer, that you looked and you haven’t found, even though you had bad eyes or didn’t look at the right place? Just because you think that God suffers from a multi-personality disorder I have to give in to you? Give into your religion in order to train this hope out of me? In order to change my brain to not feel the abyss of death and still continue to procreate?

        • Monocle Smile says

          It’s clear from this train wreck that your problems extend far, far beyond a failure to prove your god exists.

          • subzerobob says

            prove… I am starting to get annoyed with this constant asking for proof.
            How do you quantifiably prove that something exists outside time and space. What you are asking is to take something outside time and put it inside a particular set of time into specific test tube. Or you already know that that’s impossible, but you just keep asking, so that you can win and come up on top of this argument, labeling me as a trainwreck, not really contemplating what it truly means no have no intrinsic purpose in life, and no intent behind existence. either way, it is not my fault that life is train wreck, I am just shocked that many people live their every day lives never contemplating on how emotionally inefficient life is if there is no intrinsic meaning to it

          • Monocle Smile says

            Why do you constantly project your own faults onto me? I give my life meaning. I find meaning in hundreds of different things, and none of them are a belief in gods. And I’m okay with that.

            If you truly think ALL YOU HAVE is your belief in god and without it your life is meaningless, then you need to start spending more time with your loved ones. It’s really, really sad that you’re a depressed sociopath who doesn’t find anyone or anything on this planet worth living for…although I don’t believe for a second that that’s really the case. I think you’re just being incredibly dishonest.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @subzerobob

            How do you quantifiably prove that something exists outside time and space. What you are asking is to take something outside time and put it inside a particular set of time into specific test tube. Or you already know that that’s impossible,

            We largely agree. We think that it’s probably impossible to show in a test tube that something exists outside of time and space. Where we disagree is that – if you cannot show it in a test tube, if you cannot demonstrate it in any scientific or evidence-based way – then you have absolutely no rational basis for accepting it as true. This position is known as skepticism. By your own admittance, you lack any possible good reason to believe that there is something outside of time and space, and thus the only rational position is to withhold judgment and say “I do not know”.

          • says

            Atheists require proof because how would one know the truth if they are not able to establish the truth. Knowledge is awareness of the truth and ignorance is the absence of the truth. All us atheist just want to know is; are you telling us the truth or are you just ignorant? And yes atheist do believe in something it’s called the TRUTH.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          @subzerobob
          Dude. Paragraph breaks. Use them.

          We can even determine that collective human suffering throughout all time is too huge to allow it to continue.

          Why don’t you kill yourself then? Really? Why not? If you think that human existence is so horrible, why not kill yourself?

          Obviously, I do not share your opinion.

          That humans are just a pest to the planet and all the more reasons to stop procreating all together.

          A pest to whom? To the Earth? The Earth is not conscious, and so I don’t give a fuck. I care about the happiness, safety, freedom, material wealth, and well-being of conscious creatures. The only way to make sense of what you said is some sort of Gaia hypothesis (or similar), which is both laughable and stupid.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_%28mythology%29


          Finally, about your fatalism and nihilism. When you go to a movie theatre and see a movie, you do this knowing that any pleasure you derive is temporary. You know that it has effectively no impact on the rest of your life. You know that the movie is going to end. Yet, you still go. Why? You already value temporary pleasure and happiness.

          I know that no matter what I do, my life is going to end. I know that no matter what I do, the universe is going to end in a cold, lifeless state called “heat death”. All of my actions are not going to matter in the end. Heat death is inevitable. Yet, I take pleasure and value in this temporary existence, in exactly the same way that you take pleasure and value in seeing a movie. Even though life is fleeting, and my happiness is ephemeral, it does not mean that I should not value it. I value it more because I know it is going to end.

          • subzerobob says

            I wasn’t the one who came up with efilism – an atheist did. And he makes sound arguments if atheism is true.
            Also I believe it was Nietzsche who first warned us about the dangers of nihilism.This is serious stuff that need serious discussion, and you brushing it as easily as going to the movies?! I don’t think you are being fair to the depth of the arguments

            Watch it here:

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Atheism does not lead to nihilism. You are a hypocrite, or you are confused. You value seeing a movie. It is a completely irrelevant expenditure of time. It is a finite diversion for finite pleasure. It is going to end when the movie ends. Yet you do it. You already understand how one can avoid nihilism if there is no eternal afterlife.

          • unfogged says

            Yet you do it. You already understand how one can avoid nihilism if there is no eternal afterlife.

            To be fair, he does it but I don’t think there’s any evidence that he actually understands it. He’s a perfect example of how faith can make somebody believe things not only without evidence but also in the face of any and all contradicting evidence.

        • Narf says

          Ho … ly … fuck.

          I’m not even reading that mass of text. I’ll wait until you can make yourself a bit more coherent. I’m not expecting much of an improvement, though.

      • says

        And can I just add that this is ultimately the Argument from Popularity–which is a demonstrated reasoning fallacy? Truth is determined by correspondence to reality, not by the popularity of a concept.

        • Narf says

          I wanna know about these 6 billion schizophrenics who are currently on the earth, before I even worry about Bobby constructing an argument from popularity with them. :D

          • subzerobob says

            let me remind you that you called religious people schizophrenics. I am just calling you out on the fact that you think we are all barking mad, but not even focusing on explaining why the spiritual/god stuff happens in our physiology

          • Narf says

            I shouldn’t be surprised that you missed that. What I said was that people who speak to God and hear him speaking back are epileptics or schizophrenics who are hallucinating. This sort of thing is the foundation for religions. Many religious texts speak of the prophets acting in ways that are consistent with those psychological disorders. Religious believers are quite capable of being simply deluded.

          • says

            I believe that when most people say they talk to god they’re being dishonest to themselves as well as to others and they are only concerned about their own self image and how the majority perceives them. I would also like to add that Chirstianity has got to be the most advertised religion I have ever seen. I live within just a few blocks of a Buddhist temple and not once in my 30 years of living at my residence have I ever received a pamplet or person trying to proselytize me into becoming a Buddhist. The same cannot be said about Christians however they’re about as pesty as a swarm of flies or gnats. I’ve never seen anyone more proud of a religion then X-tians and yet they have the nerve to tell me that I need to be save just because their book has already assumed my guilt. I simply tell them to keep their religion to themselves and there won’t be any problems or guilt to assume.

    • says

      “and I can tell you fist hand that they are all looking at the same God” –

      First of all, it technically would be second hand. Unless you can actually produce a god to examine, you’re just producing words words about something I can not distinguish from your imagination. You’re not giving me anything I can examine first hand. For that reason it is different gods, it’s the same god, it’s every kind of god imaginable. That which answers all questions, answers none. (I think I made a deepity)

      Secondly, I would wager that almost everyone reading your words here has thought about why some religions have thrived in certain eras. Why do you think this is such a tough question? I find it perfectly possible that it is due to entirely natural and normal reasons given what we know of the human condition.

      • subzerobob says

        re: “produce a god to examine, ” What’s next – you want me to bring you the horizon? Do you know what you are asking? If god is outside time and space, then how do you want me to bring God into a test tube for you to examine? Re: “That which answers all questions, answers none.” Actually no – under occam razor, you can stop at the most simple explanation. You cannot have infinite regress and at the beginning you need some type of agent. This type of agent can be like your intent that is causing you to act. This intent is found in all sentient beings, and one could argue that this intent is the ground of all existence. Actually that’s sort of the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument, which by the way is the product of “some religions have thrived in certain eras” much like the idea of single beginning was further examined and developed by a catholic priest Georges Lemaître, to what is now known to be the big bang theory. Those are just some of the contributions of religion to science, and what has atheism produced? Mussolini? Mao? Stalin? Pol Pot? Kim Jong Il? Why do feel so proud to associate yourselves with abyss of humanity? I see atheism as potentially the most destructive force of existence. Because with the lack of a moral agent, all that has to happen if for you to be convinced that efilism is the way to go, or nihilism or whatever. Atheism can lead to this slippery slope of redefining everything and the only question is – who will lead the charade? Because whoever does, could mean the end of us, and that could be argued will not be morally wrong, if the preservation of the planet is the main argument, or whatever the argument might be at that time.

        • Monocle Smile says

          If god is outside time and space, then how do you want me to bring God into a test tube for you to examine?

          Why is it our problem that the bullshit you pull out of your ass is untestable?

          You cannot have infinite regress and at the beginning you need some type of agent.

          Facts not in evidence, regardless of how hard you whine. And boy, Bobby, do you ever WHINE.

          what has atheism produced? Mussolini? Mao? Stalin? Pol Pot? Kim Jong Il? Why do feel so proud to associate yourselves with abyss of humanity?

          Stop deep-throating the Hovinds and Pat Robertson and every other historical revisionist. You’re a stupid sucker and you don’t even know it.

          Atheism can lead to this slippery slope of redefining everything and the only question is – who will lead the charade? Because whoever does, could mean the end of us, and that could be argued will not be morally wrong,

          This is the point at which your brain fractures, because you might as well have typed this in Sanskrit. It’s word salad and nothing more. I really, truly recommend professional help, Bobby.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          You cannot have infinite regress

          Why? I do not see anything which prevents time from being boundless in the past.

          and at the beginning you need some type of agent.

          Why? I do not see any compelling reason why it should be a conscious creature instead of some non-mind thing. I do not even see any compelling argument why it even needs a “cause” or “explanation”.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Those are just some of the contributions of religion to science, and what has atheism produced? Mussolini? Mao? Stalin? Pol Pot? Kim Jong Il? Why do feel so proud to associate yourselves with abyss of humanity?

          Thank you for not including Hitler, who was openly a Christian of some variant.

          We are not proposing “atheism”. We are proposing secular humanism and science. Find me any country which promoted the values of the European Enlightenment, including Voltaire, Mill, Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and so on, and which fell into the moral abyss like the societies you quoted, and I’ll eat my hat. It has not happened.

          The big problem is believing things for no good reason. All of the people you listed led governments of extreme propaganda campaigns and outright pseudoscience. Stalin’s Russia had people working there who promoted pseudoscience to make the farmers 5 times as productive. In every single one of those campaigns, there was not religion, but there was the same lack of respect for the scientific method, for evidence, for open inquiry, and the values of science. Believing things for no good reason is not specific to religion, but it does exist in all religion. We secular humanists and scientists will oppose all those who oppose the values of humanism and science.

          For example, North Korea. The president of the state is the long dead Il. He’s been dead for at least a decade, and he’s still the head of the state. I assume the recently dead one will remain in his current positions as well. We know have a third, which makes a trinity. In North Korea, they talk of how the birds sang when the Ils were born. It is a religion. It is a worship of the state and the family of the leaders.

          Finally, note that in many if not all of the places you cited, teaching “Darwinism” was explicitly outlawed. For whatever reasons, most fascist ideologies disagree quite strongly with Darwinism. Don’t know why.

          Again, we’re not promoting mere “atheism”. We’re promoting that we should improve the human condition, and we should use science to learn how best to improve the human condition. Religions contain many false beliefs which stand in the way of those goals, and so too all of those fascist regimes.

          The only argument you have is that people can only behave well under the threat of hell. This is a rather sad view of humanity. It’s also false. People behave quite well enough with police.

          • subzerobob says

            re: “We secular humanists and scientists will oppose all those who oppose the values of humanism and science.”
            useless stupid rant. I am not opposing the values of science! All I am saying is when it comes to God current science can’t help much until we develop a method to examine beyond the subject object split. Current science works for building bridges, but it doesn’t work when you try to make computers appreciate beauty, or make computers happy. You do like to put words in my mouth though, very common technique amongst the all righteous holy reasoners, master champions of all argumentation, atheists. So if I can’t examine something I should ignore it? Nevermind that it might be true? That is what I call the true argument from ignorance!

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I am not opposing the values of science!

            Yes you are.

            Yes.
            You.
            Are.

            If you think that science doesn’t yet have the methods necessary, do not then go and say “god exists”. You are claiming knowledge of things in our shared reality for which you lack sufficient evidence. Right there you are violating the values of science and skepticism. You are claiming belief and knowledge on a topic for which you have no good reasons for those beliefs.

            This is not a discussion of beauty. This is not a discussion of morality. Thus your bits on that are non-sequiturs. This is a discussion of the material existence of some thing in our shared reality – god – and the only acceptable method for determining the truth of such claims is science.

          • Sadako says

            Teeny, tiny nitpick: the family name is ‘Kim’. But yes, you’re absolutely right. North Korean textbooks make declarations about how Kim Jong-Il was born at the top of Mt. Paektu under a mysterious star and a double rainbow in the sky, and all the birds sang in Korean to herald his birth. North Koreans are required to make tribute to the statues of Kim Il-Sung (and now his son, too) all around the country, their pictures hang in every house and building, and every school has rooms set aside for teaching about how the Dear Leader could control the weather with his mind. These ‘Kim Il-Sung Research Institutes’ usually include a Kim Il-Sung creche (this is the building Kim Il-Sung was supposedly born in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mangyongdae-guyok_-_Apr-12.JPG Look familiar to anyone?). The North Korean calendar is based on the birth of Kim Il-Sung (1912 is ‘Juche 1′ in the DPRK).

            Kim Il-Sung is the God of North Korea and the divine creator of both North Korea and the Juche philosophy (which is identified as the official guiding philosophy of the DPRK, not Communism), Kim Jong-Il is his Son, and Kim Jong-Un is the nation’s current living god. The cult of personality surrounding the Kims absolutely resembles a religion (and the fact that other religions are banned doesn’t indicate the DPRK is an atheistic nation–it indicates a strict theocratic nation which enforces worship of its gods under penalty of death).

        • Deesse23 says

          “.. and what has atheism produced? Mussolini? Mao? Stalin? Pol Pot? Kim Jong Il?”

          Now im really getting sick of that BS as well. I really can tlisten to this stupid ignorant crap anymore. How much more will this be presented? This is just as retarded as the famous “banana”. Basically not worth a response, but ill do it anyway….just because i have hope that you MAY learn….

          What has produced these guys, what they have EXPOLOITED in order to keep up their horrible regimes of terror is
          usage of principles (of controlling the masses) as they are used by religions like the christian one for CENTURIES.
          This has NOTHING to do with atheism,. Mao hasnt killed more people than anyone else on this planet because he didnt believe in god. Pol pot didnt kill the highest percentage of his OWN people, more than anyone else on this planet, because he didnt believe in god. The Kims dont uphold their ridiculous and at the same time horrible regime because they dont believe in god. They also havent done all this because they didnt have pimples on their noses…..

          No, its because they think they ARE some sort of god (and thats why ALL of them let make up some really silly story about their superhumanness), and have followers / priests who make sure that the “masses” are 100% under control, or likewiese get exterminated like ants.

          Its all fucking RELIGIOUS regimes, thats what they were, are and will be. They make use of the same crminal and immoral ruels a good christian denomination like the catholic church etc. is using.

          All they want and need is people like you who like to believe in any crap they get fed with. The more absurd, the better, since it only proves how MUCH crap you are willing to take in the future., and god ..sory the leader.. only knows when it will be becessary for you to be able to do so in the (near?) future….

          THIS is what religion has contributed, not to science, but to human society: recipe for dictatorship.

        • Deesse23 says

          ” Why do feel so proud to associate yourselves with abyss of humanity?”

          Atheists dont do that, YOU do that.

          ” I see atheism as potentially the most destructive force of existence. Because with the lack of a moral agent….”

          A moral agent that advocated slavery, rape, genocide, etc? Oh, sorry, those things are only immoral if they WERENT done in the name of god, sorry for that.

          How sad and cowardly can an (adult) human being be? So void of any sense of responsibilty for your own thoughts and actions as well as being unable to feel for your fellow human beings, in need of OTHERS ( “a god”….or is it only an extremely powerful dictator? Who knows, and you dont seem to care) to take responsibily for you.

          Like a kid who doesnt wanna grow up, whith the difference being that you (may) have a drivers license and a right to vote, which makes you MUCH more dangerous that any unguraded kid.

          On second thought: Yes, its maybe better that god is looking after your morals, so you cant do and horrible *atheist* things.

          OR

          The other option being, that you are just dishonest. Lets test it: please tell me that you would go and rape and kill and steal, if there wasnt a god that kept you from doing it. Would you????????????

          • subzerobob says

            so your reason for not believing in god is because You think (subjective opinion) is that god is evil? You do realize you are making a claim a about the character of god, and thus way on your way to start your own religion, correct? Just because You think that god is such and such, or you cannot imagine a god to be such and such, doesn’t disprove God’s existence.

            And for the record, I don’t read the bible, I don’t even believe the bible, so I don’t upset myself with such things. But I do believe that there is an animating force behind existence, and that there is an intrinsic purpose behind life. Do I know it to be true? Not 100% but I think it is most probably true, pending the establish of some new scientific method that can go with measurements beyond the subject object split.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            intrinsic purpose

            How would you discover what that is? Do you think this “animating force” has an opinion on what that is? Why is its opinion “more correct” than my opinion? Why is its opinion special?

        • Matzo Ball Soup says

          Stalin et al. were not men of science – Stalin’s regime, for instance, punished scientists who were doing real biology and didn’t subscribe to the state-sanctioned pseudoscientific framework of Lysenkoism. (Similar things happened in other scientific fields as well.) That’s not skepticism; he’s not one of “our guys”. Stalinism and its dogmas were basically the state religion.

        • AhmNee says

          Those are just some of the contributions of religion to science

          No. Those are some of the contributions of religious people to science. Contributions by following a sound scientific method in spite of their religiosity. Religion itself didn’t provide dick. In fact, it actively blocked scientific progress wherever it could.

          … what has atheism produced? Mussolini? Mao? Stalin? Pol Pot? Kim Jong Il?

          Atheism didn’t produce anything. You can’t get from atheism to any sort of government type or belief system. Atheism has no dogma and no authorities. Indeed, each of the regimes you site set the government into the religious framework it pushed religion out of as something to be revered and worshiped. One could argue that the regimes could never have accomplished what they did if it hadn’t been for the systems established by the major religion they deposed.

          Besides, your premise is a false equivocation that goes:

          X was an atheist.
          X was evil.
          Therefore, atheists are evil.

          Which is equivalent to:

          X was was male/had a mustache/wore boots/was a vegetarian/etc.
          X was evil.
          Therefore, males/boot or mustache wearers/vegitarians/etc. are evil.

          I see atheism as potentially the most destructive force of existence. Because with the lack of a moral agent

          I’m sorry, bullshit. You have no more of a moral agent than any atheist. In order to claim that your god or religion is good, you still have to make the judgement that god or your religion is good on your own. There’s no way around it. It’s like the nonsense, circular reasoning “can you be wrong argument” from Sye Ten Bruggencate.

          In your case, your judgement is in spite of all the immoral teachings of your “agent”. That leaves you with the dilemma “does your god claim things are good because they’re moral, or are things moral because your god claims they’re good”? If the former is true, then there is no need for a god because what is moral is moral without his proclaiming it. If it’s the latter, then god is immoral as evidenced by the teachings in the bible and you’ll have to justify things like marrying a rape victim to her rapist, slavery, genocide, the taking of sex slaves, etc. all of which I challenge you to do without proving yourself a repugnant human being.

          Atheism can lead to this slippery slope of redefining everything and the only question is – who will lead the charade?

          Again, atheism is a single claim on a singular belief and doesn’t “lead” to anything.

        • RandyW says

          What evidence is there that your God, should it exist in any way (and you’d have to define “exist” in this case), that it does so outside the bounds of space and time? Simply defining it into existence, and defining its characteristics into existence, is not evidence. It’s just making shit up, and anybody can do that. Demonstrating that your claims are in agreement with demonstrable reality is much more difficult. As soon as you can do this, you win the internets, the whole internets, and all the internets.

    • Monocle Smile says

      you gotta ask yourself why are they surviving?

      Mass murder and employing violence on the survivors, mostly. Today, it’s indoctrination. This isn’t hard to understand.

      Your rants are disjointed and difficult to follow. There’s also the problem of them being filled with inanity. What’s your point, exactly? I’m trying to decipher anything outside of extreme desperation to be “justified” in your beliefs, even if that justification contains very, very bad reasons to believe.

    • Sadako says

      The reason the major religions we see today all survived in the places they did is largely happenstance–there is no particular reason why the followers of Jesus should inherently have had more success than the followers of Apollonius (except that the followers of Jesus had an easier symbol to hallucinate after suffering a concussion), or why Taoism and Confucianism necessarily should have gained a stronger foothold as the bases of Chinese philosophy over Legalism (after all, Legalist concepts have been a central pillar of Abrahamic religions since, well, Abraham, but ended up severely weakened in China, with the best ideas then incorporated into Confucianism), or why Brahmanism and Buddhism should have both survived in the same region when the latter was in direct opposition to the former (or why Buddhism should have persisted after Brahmanism reformed into what is recognizable as Hinduism), there’s no inherent reason why Amaterasu ended up being the patron goddess of Japan rather than any of the other Shinto kami (the clan who claimed her as their patron deity just happened to win a series of particularly important battles in Japanese prehistory; Susa-no-O could have just as easily ended up the guardian of the Empire)…and it’s purely down to navigational chance that the traditional beliefs of the Australian Aborigines were preserved for millennia rather than being trodden upon by boatloads of ramblin’ gamblin’ Catholic missionaries.

      This is why, if we encountered an alien civilization, chances are extremely high that they wouldn’t have heard the teachings of Muhammad, but the odds of them having discovered the Pythagorean theorem is almost certain. After all, multiple cultures here on Earth independently discovered that the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse, but no two religions are identical–not even between sects of the same religion!

      • subzerobob says

        first off – nice copy and paste work, it really shows by the way!
        re: “…but no two religions are identical–not even between sects of the same religion!”
        interesting point, what this video – how you describe yourself is different than how another person describes you, and that no matter how close you try to get to the original, even adding the most experienced sketch artist that is looking directly at you won’t make the image exactly like you. I don’t have a problem that religions are not identical. You do! And most certainly doesn’t disprove god. If aliens even remote mention something as an animating force behind existence, it will be touche in my books against atheism. This I believe is party the reason why they will never send an atheist to talk to an alien race. I believe that’s in the protocol somewhere, because the chance of the alien race to believe in God is far greater than the chance not to. That’s speaks as far as I can tell – much smarter people than me have decided that the concept of God might just be a mind independent concept.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          If we ever go meet aliens, it will be because of atheistic science. Science flies you to the moon. Faith – abusing the fruits of science – flies you into buildings.

          If we meet technological aliens, their technology will also be the fruit of atheistic science. Need I remind you about the numbers of believing scientists? The more professional and prestigious you go in science, the less likely you are to find religious people, until you get maybe 10% religious people at the top. Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. Religions teach that you can learn about our reality based on faith – the excuse people give when they do not have a good reason for a belief. Science teaches that you can learn about our shared reality based on evidence. They are compatible only to the extent that religions change when confronted with scientific advances. Religion is always on the retreat. Science is winning. Science will win in the end.

          • subzerobob says

            why does science have to be atheistic only? I wonder what theistic scientists have say about this moronic statements you just blabbed up there. Distinguished theistic intellectuals like Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicholas Copernicus, Rene Descartes, a catholic priest Georges Lemaître who came up with the Big Bang theory, and even Albert Einstein who recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe and adamant about not calling himself an atheist. I swear – about more than 1 year ago, this blog used to have way more intelligent people than what I am seeing today…With the exception that everyone has ganged up on me now, and it is like 5 against one, and I feel like I am about to get hanged by the board moderator and banned again for the unforeseeable future. Cuz that’s how y’all play in Texas, isn’t it – hang him! Liberal is just a name to rebel against your conservative to the bone parents. And that’s what the ACA is really about – sick and tired of taking orders from their church going parents. That’s not true enlightenment, that’s not true liberals. You have to come down to Cali and witness the real discussions, where atheism looses any given day of the week, and that’s despite having Haight in SFO.

          • Monocle Smile says

            You didn’t understand a word of what EL said. Typical.

            Lemaitre contributed to the BB, but everyone forgets Friedmann. The irony of your mention of Galileo is so thick you can cut it with a knife, BTW.

            I feel like I am about to get hanged by the board moderator and banned again for the unforeseeable future.

            Nothing’s better than an asshole who intentionally gets himself banned so he can whip out this pathetic martyr complex. You’re a fucking failure of a human.

            Cuz that’s how y’all play in Texas, isn’t it – hang him! Liberal is just a name to rebel against your conservative to the bone parents. And that’s what the ACA is really about – sick and tired of taking orders from their church going parents.

            And now, predictably, you’re throwing a fucking tantrum like a five year old. It’s like watching a massive car accident in slow motion. I can almost hear you screaming at your computer screen.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Science is not atheistic in principle. There could be a working science of god. However, that would require a god to study. I’m sorry that reality has a strong anti-god bias. Not my fault that there is no god.

            Religion does not advance human knowledge. Name me one advance in the last 500 years which came from religion. The advances made are the result of atheistic science and atheistic morality. God is dead, and good riddance.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Also, I’m not from Texas, and my parents are not Republicans. What you did is what we call an “ad hominem”. Calling me names rather than engage with my arguments. “Poisoning the well” too for good measure.

          • Sadako says

            Distinguished scientists like Isaac Newton also believed in alchemy–that doesn’t make alchemy true. The scientific achievements of all of those scientists that you listed stand and fall on their own merits as a result of rigorous application of the scientific method, not on the basis of ‘the guy who said it was smart’. That’s why we accept calculus as a thing, but not alchemy, even though Newton dedicated loads of time and energy to both. (He also dedicated a lot of leisure time to whittling–that doesn’t necessarily make whittling the absolute best hobby in the world because one smart guy liked to whittle.)

        • Sadako says

          Where do you think I copy-pasted from? I’m not sure how it can ‘really show’ when I didn’t copy-paste anything. Some people just know things as a result of intensive study and degree work, lol.

          I can’t imagine there being an international policy which would require an adherent of a religious position be the one to make first contact–in fact, I’m fairly certain you made that up. There’d be no point in sending the Pope to talk to aliens if there’s no common vocabulary. If we sent anyone, we’d want to send a mathematician first, because they would have the best chance of communicating that we are intelligent and have made discoveries about the nature of the universe, and they would do this by demonstrating mathematical principles, not by praying. (The odds of a mathematician killing the aliens for not believing in the same god as they do would also be significantly less than with someone whose only qualification was, say, ‘is a cleric’.) In any case, the odds of an alien race believing in a god is likely tied to their evolutionary history, just like ours is–and since they will have evolved under different circumstances and pressures, there’s no good reason to think that they would have a thought process anything like ours. To assume such is to be guilty of anthropocentrism.

          It doesn’t bother me that no two religions are alike. That would be like expecting a linguist to be upset that there is more than just one language. You’re far more likely to find theists who are upset that there are multiple religions out there–after all, every evangelical religion in the world believes that its followers must convert the entire world, and Christians just LOVE to tell us ‘Someday, whether you like it or not, you will bend your knee and confess that Jesus is Lord! You heard it here first!’ That sounds like someone who can’t abide the idea that someone else has a different opinion. The existence of thousands of different religions makes perfect sense if you look at religion as something that is invented and developed by humans of specific cultures, just like how the existence of a myriad of artistic styles makes sense for the same reasons. But the existence of god beliefs doesn’t increase the probability of a god existing any more than Santa beliefs increase the probability of a fat man in a red suit living at the North Pole with toymaking elves and flying reindeer existing. Doesn’t matter if it’s humans or aliens–reality is not subject to the whims of the majority, and every Klingon in the galaxy believing in Santa won’t make Santa real.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Honestly, I would think a master linguist with training in simple mathematics and some biology would be best. The idea that you can communicate with “math” is silly.

            It would start something like this: We get one of each in a room, and we start pointing at objects and vocalizing. More likely, they don’t have the right ears to understand, so maybe a visual stimulus. That might not work. So, the first part would be to find a medium convenient for drawing symbols. Then you start going around the room and naming objects. Maybe get some verbs and personal names. It would go exactly as the cliche goes for two humans who don’t speak the same language, except with the additional difficulties of the two people not having the same sensory capacity.

            If you wanted to ensure that a signal is heard by aliens far out, then yes you mathematics. You need to ensure that the signal is distinguishable from noise. But that’s a different problem.

          • Sadako says

            There’s no guarantee that they would communicate in a way that a linguist would be able to grasp, though (communication through pheromones, for instance)–but being able to demonstrate that we Earthlings have a grasp of mathematics, without which the aliens couldn’t have gotten into space (excepting the idea of a species which evolved in interstellar space, of course), helps show that we are capable of higher cognitive functions, unlike, say, skyscrapers and cows and cars, all of which aliens would have also found on Earth. It’s not that we would be able to CONVERSE in math, just demonstrate that we’re intellectually capable of grasping the sort of principles that put things into space, and thus maybe we’re worth attempting to converse with–unlike cows.

            In order to get to the point where the aliens are willing to cooperate with us long enough to TRY to decode their method of communication, though, we need math. But we sure as hell don’t need a priest, lol

          • AhmNee says

            This exchange popped into my head.

            “How goes the progress of the current delegation to the extraterrestrials?”

            “They keep eating the Mathematicians, sir.”

            “God dammit! Don’t they understand SCIENCE?!”

            Completely off topic and unhelpful, I know.

          • Sadako says

            There’s also the chance that the aliens keep killing the mathematicians because they’ve come to Earth to rescue the whales, lol

        • RandyW says

          Concepts necessarily are mind-dependent. So, your entire premise is nullified. So sorry, logic isn’t changing just so you can feel good about believing things for bad reasons.

          • subzerobob says

            the validity of the concept of the number Pi has nothing to with mind-dependence. The fact that there are no minds won’t change the value of Pi, same way about the validity of mathematical truths like 2+2=4. But what you are talking about is the validity of like mind dependent concepts such as All Bachelors are Single, there the entirety of the truth in this logical statement dependents on the conventional mind dependent definition of a bachelor. We can only agree to disagree whether the concept of god is mind dependent (like the concept of a unicorn) or mind independent like abstract numbers such as cosmological constants or the value of the number Pi for example.

      • says

        I would add that if religion was so natural and enduring, then there would be no need for indoctrination and continued reinforcement of the beliefs. We don’t all go to a facility once a week to remind us to believe in gravity. Someone explains it to your once. You get it, because, well, there it is, and you never have to be reminded because, well, there it is.

        Compare that to the effort put into years of childhood indoctrination and continued reinforcement of adults into religious systems. If it’s so obvious and natural, why does it take SO MUCH EFFORT to get a person to adopt it and continue to believe it?

        • subzerobob says

          I don’t go to church at all, but I look at congregations and means for spreading of information, which is absolutely necessary to keep you up-to-date with what is going on, for progress to occur

          • Sadako says

            The information which is shared at, say, a conference of cardiothoracic surgeons is going to be very different than the information shared at a Sunday service at a Baptist church. One is going to be novel, testable, falsifiable, and useful. The other isn’t.

          • AhmNee says

            I don’t go to church at all

            You’ve never been to church? Ever? Your claim stinks of dishonesty.

          • says

            “I don’t go to church at all..”

            Not only does it stink of dishonesty, it reeks of hypocrisy! The only progression for a religion is they eventually become a myth. The only information about religion which I received in church, (which was just 5 days ago), is the same old crap I’ve heard when I was a kid. Why don’t you keep us atheists up to date on the latest info about religion if it’s so necessary.

          • Narf says

            Well, he’s a pantheist. Where would he find a church of those? I wouldn’t say that his statement about not going to church is hypocritical as much as it is stupid. If he thinks that all of the theists are so wrong, then I don’t see how he thinks that them spreading wrong information is going to cause “progress to occur” … whatever that means.

          • says

            If he includes all gods as one then he’s being inclusive in one hand and exclusive in the other. In other words he’s contradicting himself like a hypocrite.

          • Narf says

            “All gods as one” isn’t exactly pantheism. Although, I’m not sure Bobby understands what pantheism is, anyway. He uses the word pantheism, but he treats it more as a vague, new-agey god-concept that he refuses to define in any way, because then we would be able to analyze it and dismiss particular aspects of it as ridiculous or self-contradictory.

            What he actually said was something along the lines of all religions pointing to some truth about the real god … about which he then completely refused to answer any questions.

            I’m not sure he has a coherent enough god-concept for him to be hypocritical about it.

          • says

            I think the poor chap isn’t certain of anything. Perhaps it’s the consequences of living in denial of the truth. You do make a good point however and I appreciate your opinion. One cannot prove one’s own imagination.

          • subzerobob says

            re:AhmNee
            “I don’t go to church at all”
            You’ve never been to church? Ever? Your claim stinks of dishonesty.

            The statement that I don’t go to church is in present tense and it doesn’t mean that I have never been in a church (past gerund). I don’t know why you (the people here) are calling me illiterate when I find it necessary to give you a lesson in English grammar among other things… I find this a complete and utter wast of time… It is really a sad that I’ve come to engage in such meaningless conversations…

          • Narf says

            Past gerund? Are you sure that you know what a gerund is?

            I find this particularly amusing in a comment in which you claim to be giving us a lesson in English grammar. :D

          • subzerobob says

            that was your statement I was commenting on, and I intentionally just left something there to see what your response would be, to see if you are really the moron that I think you are. ‘I have never been’ is in present perfect, but for your information – the simple past is used rather than the present perfect in order to avoid confusion! So if you are so literate, then you should say something like: “You never went to church? Ever?”

          • subzerobob says

            again – I find it extremely annoying that we have to discuss English grammar and literacy on a God topic… so antagonizing… lets try this:
            i bt u can undstnd evry wrd in ths sentnc but u jst mk it a big deal tht its not frmttd prprly

          • says

            @ Subzerobob

            I’m not concerned about your grammer as much as I’m concerned about your understanding of atheism and reality. Are you able to define your god, and if so how do you make the distiction between your god and other gods. Is your god a collection of other gods or all gods?, or are you so conflicted you can’t decide on which god you want? A proper investigation is conducted by finding the evidence that leads to the suspect and would prove one’s guilt or not, and an improper investigation would be to find the suspect and try to find evidence that would only assume one’s guilt or not. A god is defind as a supernatural being and a belief in a god is superstition. If someone could provide some compelling evidence of the supernatural existing, then one would have at least a valid argument to make. Unfortunately for the theist the only evidence that I’ve have come across is arbitrary and capricious. Atheism isn’t a religion or even a belief, it’s simply a choice to remain skeptical and objective until the truth has been established. In other words; what evidence do you have to prove the existence of your god and is it compelling enough to convince me that your god does exist?

          • Narf says

            Bobby, when you’re so incoherent, the grammar and the structuring of your thoughts becomes a major factor. I’m sorry if you don’t like it.

            In case you didn’t get it, I was mocking you for making a mistake like that, in the same breath in which you were claiming to give us a lesson in grammar. Perhaps it was too subtle for you.

            Hell, the idea of you giving anyone here a lesson on pretty much any subject is pretty laughable.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      @subzerobob
      Why do you think that your god is somehow different than Zeus or Thor? It’s all the same shit to me. They’re all myths, and demonstrably so.

      I’ve been personally exposed to many different Modern religions, and I can tell you fist hand that they are all looking at the same God.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman
      So, you argue that it’s not really “god” unless it’s your god. Zeus and Thor are not gods because they’re not Jesus. Talk about unsubstantiated, circular, fallacious bullshit.

      • subzerobob says

        ahhh, mr. Enlightened – I am a panentheist! I don’t know why everyone assumes I am Christian… maybe we all look alike to you?! Perhaps it is true that all atheists are Faithists – you know, all those religious people they are all like dumb, ignorant, asinine, stupid. Nice going – good way to discriminate based on religion. Which according to the EEOC is illegal by the way! But I guess to an atheist being faithist is not as bad as being racist?! Even though I feel that when I call the show, just because I have an accent I am automatically perceived to be stupid. It might be Austin, but it is still Texas!

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Discriminating against religion is not illegal. The hell are you talking about? I’m doing it right now. When do you expect the police to show up at my door to arrest me. What charge do you think will be on the warrant? “Religious discrimination”? Please. You should learn the actual laws.

          In the US, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion only in certain very narrowly defined categories. This includes hiring into a large business. This includes housing applications. This includes public businesses and services.

          It’s not illegal to say that religions are stupid on a public blog. How stupid are you?

          “panentheist”
          Meaningless drivel. Make a testable prediction, or I don’t care. Door’s to your left.

        • Monocle Smile says

          Someone needs to look in a mirror.

          just because I have an accent I am automatically perceived to be stupid.

          Wow. No self-awareness at all. You’re perceived to be stupid because you’re incoherent, you repeat yourself endlessly, and you don’t know your ass from your elbow when it comes to ANYTHING,

          • subzerobob says

            if I didn’t know anything, I wouldn’t be able to bounce off from each of your attacks. I would consider myself alimentary in these matters, and even me – the elementary student can stand up to the all mighty season pro rhetoric every Sunday trained atheist like yourselves! I repeat myself, because you all keep repeating the same question – How! And I’ve told you a million times – I don’t know yet how, that’s why I am agnostic theist, but I assure you that people are working on it by keeping the faith and the hope that one day we will have the answers for you demanding instant gratification bunch.

          • Monocle Smile says

            Once again, you’re wrong about everything.

            You can “bounce off” from “attacks” because you don’t understand them. Ignorance is a fantastic shield.

            Wait, why is it OUR fault that you believe for bad reasons? And why is this a shortcoming of ours? As we’ve said ad nauseum, the time to believe something is AFTER you have justification, and WE DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK if it “happens to be true” down the line. That’s not how logic works, that’s not how reality works, and you just don’t even remotely understand this.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            >Faith is the excuse people give for believing something when they don’t have evidence.
            -Matt Dillahunty.

            We object that you use faith at all. It is inherently dishonest. If you don’t have evidence for god … don’t just believe until you get evidence. Drop your belief! Join rational society!

    • bigwhale says

      You have all these questions. Good. I’d suggest starting with the people who have made it their life’s work to study each of these questions.

      for origins of religion, I’d suggest Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky. He has lectures available on youtube. What was once mystery is now explainable. What is still mystery has progress being made by experts in those fields. If you really want to know answers, read and learn.

      DO NOT ever say any variation of “we don’t know, therefore…”

      • subzerobob says

        I don’t say I don’t know, therefore…
        I say – I don’t know, but for me the most logical explanation is…

        • Narf says

          I don’t think you know what logical means. If a particular logical leap is indeed logical, you should be able to explain it to others in such a way that they can follow your reasoning. You can’t do anything of the sort.

          Your spiritual beliefs are something that you shove in because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, after logical thought fails you. There’s nothing logical in your explanation.

          • subzerobob says

            the warm and fuzzy thing was my sorry attempt to make a sarcastic joke about the matter. Of course I feel much deeper than that about this.
            It is the foundation of trust and loyalty [or faith] to the belief that Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence, and god, for me is the best explanation for why existence. And apparently Richard Dawkins feels the same way too, according to this interview:

            “TIME: Could the answer be God?

            DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

            COLLINS: That’s God.

            DAWKINS: Yes.”

            here is my slogan to atheists who keep repeating: “atheism is not the claim that there is no god; atheism is the lack of belief in any of the gods that are currently proposed to exist” And then they scream at you – “Why can’t you understand that!?”

            Well: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”
            If you don’t believe that none of the gods that are currently proposed, exist, then – What type of god do you think might possibly exist? And what type of evidence would you look for or accept for its existence? And how does holding a belief that some type of God might possibly exist makes you an Atheist?!

          • Narf says

            “atheism is not the claim that there is no god; atheism is the lack of belief in any of the gods that are currently proposed to exist”

            That’s a horrible, wrong definition of atheism. Who the hell told you that? I suspect that either you heard it from someone who isn’t very good at structuring their sentences, or more likely that you misheard it or are remembering it incorrectly.

            Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. All gods. Period. Full stop.

            Atheism also includes those who make a positive assertion that gods do not exist. Those people are part of a subset of those covered by the atheism label.

            Weak atheism (the first definition I listed) and strong atheism (the second definition) can be context dependent. I can hold a strong atheism position in respect to specific god claims while still holding a weak atheism position in respect to the general claim of some sort of god existing.

            I do not believe that any kind of god exists. Notice that I’m not saying that I’m sure that no god exists. Those are two different statements. If you don’t understand the difference, after all of the times that I’ve seen the hosts of AXP try to explain it to you, then I might have to write you off as uneducable, at this point.

            I see no reason to go wandering around searching for evidence of something that someone might call a god, when all of the god-claims with which I’ve been presented so far are crap. You’re the one who holds the belief. If you don’t have sufficient reason for that belief, then you’re irrational (not that there’s much question of that, at this point); if you do have sufficient reason for that belief, then you should be able to present us with your reasons and convince us.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Narf
            Meh? That sounds like the right definition to me.

            - “atheism is the lack of belief in any of the gods that are currently proposed to exist”
            - atheism is the lack of belief in any of god
            - atheism is the lack of belief that any god exists

            To a first approximation, those English statements all mean roughly the same thing. Of course, the last one is a better because it’s clearer, less ambiguous, and less prone to misunderstanding.

          • subzerobob says

            re: narf
            “Weak atheism (the first definition I listed) and strong atheism (the second definition) can be context dependent.”

            Ah, here come the bullshit train! watch out!

            You can’t have the cake and eat it too! Either you hold on to the god guess, or you don’t have any god guesses – aka no god guess, aka atheist. Strong, weak bullshit, it just makes me so mad when you try to be so damn righteous in order to win a stupid argument. Just because you can design an infallible argument doesn’t mean you are all righteous and infallible! It means you are a douche who likes to play with definitions and language for the purposes to appear to be smart, afterall – you always win and have the last word, don’t you! I mean look at this thread! The only question here is – Who will have the last word? isn’t it! Isn’t that all that matters to you? It’s not really about whether there is god or not, it is about who wins between us! Because whoever wins between us will somehow prove it once and for all that the other side is wrong?

          • Narf says

            Dude, you have a serious failure of basic logic. Go take a college class in philosophy 101 or something, because you just come off like an ignorant asshole, when you say things like this.

            If you can’t understand the difference between the rejection of a claim and the assertion of the negative version of that claim, you’re too ignorant to understand anything of any significant complexity. Your complete dismissal of the concept demonstrates so much to anyone with even the most basic grounding in philosophy.

          • says

            You can’t have the cake and eat it too! Either you hold on to the god guess, or you don’t have any god guesses – aka no god guess, aka atheist. Strong, weak bullshit, it just makes me so mad when you try to be so damn righteous in order to win a stupid argument. Just because you can design an infallible argument doesn’t mean you are all righteous and infallible!

            Who said anything about infallibility?

            Look, this is easy. For any claim, there’s three basic potions one can take. Accept it as true, accept that it’s not true, and pending.

            We have two different claims with God:
            1) God exists.
            2) God does not exist.

            One’s position to both</em can be "pending".

            The only requirement to be an atheist is that one doesn't accept #1 as true. That says nothing about whether I've accepted #2.

            A better example may be aliens. I don't believe (e.g. accept as true) that there's alien life living at Alpha and Beta Centauri. However, I have no data that indicates there aren’t any living there, so I reject the claim that there aren’t, too.

            Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge – i.e. whether a belief is demonstrably true – whereas atheism/theism is a statement about belief (accepting a claim as true).

            Seriously, this isn’t difficult.

          • Narf says

            Yeah, this is where you just have to completely dismiss him and find someone else to talk to. If he doesn’t get something this simple, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t understand that the cosmological argument (of any flavor) and the teleological argument are a complete steaming pile of crap.

            When someone doesn’t get even the barest basics, as Bobby doesn’t, where are you supposed to go from there? This is why his rambling, conceptually-disjointed calls are so painful to listen to.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            My fellow atheists are right, although I despise the specific terminology they’re using because of the lack of clarity for people like you subzerobob. For an existence claim, your 3 basic options are: It’s true, I believe it’s true, I believe it’s false, and I don’t know. Atheism includes “I believe there is no god” and “I don’t know”. By definition, the English “I do not believe there is a god” means “I lack a belief that there is a god”. There is a difference between “I do not believe X” and “I believe X is false” .

          • Narf says

            “I don’t know,” is a fuzzy way of saying it, though. I might know that the claim that a god exists has not been demonstrated sufficiently by evidence, and I might know that the claim that a god does not exist has not been demonstrated by evidence. In that case, I’m going to reject both claims as unsupported by evidence.

            “I don’t know,” seems like a bad way to express that. It sounds like you haven’t considered the question sufficiently.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Narf
            Oh, I’m definitely going to take issue with that. One of the big things we need to do is let people know it’s ok, and even intellectually justifiable – sometimes the only honest option – to say “I don’t know”.

            I can consider for however long I want about the number of birds in flight over the planet right now, or the number of gumballs in that jar. No amount of armchair philosophy is going to let me figure out the answer, and so the only correct answer is “I don’t know”.

            Furthermore, if you ask me some obscure but documented answer about say – evolution – and I don’t happen to have the papers handy for this obscure question, again the only proper answer is “I don’t know”, optionally followed with “Let’s see if we can find it out.”

          • Narf says

            You’re swapping contexts, man. There’s a huge difference between “Do you believe that a god exists?” and “How many gumballs are in this jar?”

            Do you believe me when I look at this jar and tell you that I’ve accurately eyeballed it and am sure that there are 1,427 gumballs in it? Do you still not know? I’m no longer asking an open-ended question … just like someone isn’t when they ask if you accept that their god exists.

            There’s a huge difference between asking someone if they believe that a specific thing exists and asking them to give you an exact number of objects, when it probably numbers in the trillions, as with the birds. When you ask someone if they accept that a certain god exists, “I don’t know,” generally means that they haven’t thought much about it or are avoiding the question and answering another question.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I’ve thought about it a lot, and I don’t know if there is a deist god or some sort of stuff outside of our space time, like a “parallel plane of existence” or some such. I don’t think you’re being reasonable.

          • mike says

            @Narf Trillions? lol I would guess there’s probably millions of birds, and maybe billions of birds, but in no way are there trillions!

          • Narf says

            EL, it has to do with the absurdity of the claim and the strength of the assertion of those who hold the opposite position. Am I absolutely sure that there’s no god out there anywhere? No. Am I pretty damned sure that there’s nothing of any sort that a Christian or Muslim would be happy with calling a god? Yes.

            Tossing up a weak “I don’t know,” makes it sounds like you’re somewhere in the middle of the road.

          • mike says

            @Narf I didn’t really mean to nitpick, as I enjoy reading all your posts, but the question was how many birds are in flight right now- and I only assumed a few billion birds to exist (maybe even 10Xmorehumans so 70B) so if say half or so are in flight then the “trillions” just seemed ridiculous and as a numbers guy I hate when people throw around numbers without having a clue what they represent. That’s prob not the case with you, I’m talking your average everyday person who is math illiterate lol. You are right 200-400billion is sorta close…well its not even half a trillion, and some of them don’t fly, some are sleeping…lol I didn’t look it up, and now I have so I learnt something, which is why I read this blog.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Narf
            That which is by definition unobservable is equivalent to not existing. I am not going to state that it does not exist. I don’t know. I am going to to state that its existence is indistinguishable from its nonexistence and thus it’s irrelevant.

  5. says

    Great show, and interesting topic!

    It was great to see Tracie Harris (and her ever-radiant smile) back on the show today!

    Matt always cracks me up, with his sardonic dry wit and one-line zingers…. :)

    Adam

  6. subzerobob says

    Re: Monocle Smile:
    “Over 6 million corpses later. You really don’t care about human life, for all your pointless posturing. I don’t know if I can give half a shit what you say after this bit of wasted typespace”
    the corpse count is on Hitler’s wrong doing. but has anyone kept count of the potentially aborted supreme intelligence unborn? You are the bigger wast of human life because that’s on you, because you are supporting the potential for not being able to have a rare intellectual and the however many countless that we don’t even have a count for that didn’t make it either. Just because we don’t have a count on the second, it doesn’t make you better than Hitler!

    • Monocle Smile says

      This is the third time you’ve made this asinine argument and you STILL don’t understand why it’s stupid. You ignored Narf’s refutation, you ignored my refutation (and failed to see ridicule for what it was) and pretty much just repeated yourself. If Einstein wasn’t born, we’d still have a model for general relativity, dumbass. I know you don’t understand this very, very simple concept, but I can’t fix your brain.

      • subzerobob says

        who – what is the name of the individual that would have come up with general relativity? I think you are trying to discredit Einstein contribution by playing numbers games, and I think that’s asinine. Just because you are trying to force your “refute” down my throat, it doesn’t mean I should accept it! And it doesn’t make true! Not even close! Would have, should have, must have – speculation is not a fact! If Einstein was aborted, then Einstein would have not come up with general relativity. That is the only fact. And that is the only time we could examine your hypothesis that somebody else would have, which is only a speculation! Until then, Einstein came up with general relativity, and there isn’t anybody else after him that is remotely close to making such a big breakthrough in knowledge. We cannot afford to abort Einsteins because they are extremely rare. The only way we could ensure that we don’t abort any Einsteins is if we don’t abort at all! And how about the rarity of life in the universe part of my argument? How come nobody is talking about that? And the rarity of supreme intelligence in the entire time of existence? How is abortion fair to that? If you ask me – because life is so rare in the universe, we should strive to spread it everywhere else in the universe, by any means possible.

        • says

          who – what is the name of the individual that would have come up with general relativity?

          The name of the person is a complete red herring. Who would have figured it out? Someone else. YOU were the one on the show who was using the example of different people from different societies coming up with the concept of gravity independently.

          You’re being staggeringly dishonest here.

          • Sadako says

            Yup, it’s like asking ‘who would have come up with the Pythagorean Theorem if not Pythagoras?’ Well, we might have called it the Baudhayana Theorem (after its Indian discoverer), or the Gougu Theorem (after its Chinese discoverer), or the Will Smith Theorem or the Kahless Theorem–it would eventually be discovered and stated because the theorem is descriptive. Multiple people throughout history and independently of one another discovered that the sum of the squares of the legs of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. What we call it is irrelevant–it isn’t true because the name of Pythagoras is attached to it.

            Hell, there are real cases in the world today where one person is held as the discoverer of a thing in one part of the world, and another person is named the discoverer elsewhere (Boyle and Mariotte, Faraday and Henry, almost anything which was discovered in Asia and also discovered in Europe is almost certain to be known by the European’s name rather than the Asian’s name, even if the Asian scientist discovered it decades, or even centuries before the European, etc.).

        • Sadako says

          And then when the mother of the next Einstein has a totally natural miscarriage, what then? What about if the next Einstein chokes to death because his/her umbilical cord wrapped around his/her neck and they died of strangulation in the womb? What if the next Einstein dies of SIDS, or has an allergic reaction to a beesting? What if the next Einstein ends up addicted to krokodil and all their limbs rot off like zombies and they die? What if the next Einstein ends up in a thankless blue-collar job and never gets the opportunity to exercise their intellect in an area they are naturally gifted at because they never realized they had that option?

          There are all sorts of ways the world could be, and likely has been, denied another Einstein, or Hawking, or da Vinci, or Newton; either because they died in childhood, or went into the wrong profession, or were women, or were the wrong etnicity in the wrong place at the wrong time. Outlawing abortion won’t prevent any of that. You haven’t given this nearly as much thought as you think you have.

          • says

            Additionally, if the idea is that we would lose the theory of relativity unless we enslave half the world’s population, I’d give up the theory of relativity forever, and sleep like a baby that night. The disturbing nature of what we’re talking about–literally making compelled body donors of anyone born with a uterus–in order to ensure we don’t loose some future genius is like some freak Orwellian nightmare future I’d never wish to inhabit.

          • subzerobob says

            key answer is “natural miscarriage” At least I can go to sleep knowing that I didn’t exacerbate the issue by aborting before the “natural miscarriage” was even detectable. I personally didn’t contribute one bit to minimizing the chance of intelligent life and committed a crime against the rarity of life in the universe.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I personally didn’t contribute one bit to minimizing the chance of intelligent life and committed a crime against the rarity of life in the universe.

            Are you having sex right now while typing that post? I had no idea you had so many talents.

            Oh what? What’s that? You’re not having sex right now, nor seeking sex right now? Which means you’re not working to increase the amount of intelligent life?

          • Sadako says

            You didn’t address any of the other possible ways that a future Einstein could fail to produce any spectacular scientific discoveries. What if the next Einstein is raped when she is only 16 and seeks an abortion, but has to go to a back-alley ‘doctor’ for the procedure because safe, legal abortions have been outlawed, and then she dies from complications and infections?

            What if the next Einstein isn’t dependent on genetics, but a combination of factors such as education, family life, health, social wellness, etc., meaning that any given fetus could either be or not be the next Einstein, and we can’t tell until they are grown (a sort of Schrodinger’s Fetus, if you will)? We should be more concerned with training up good teachers than making sure we don’t abort X fetus at Y time in Z place. There are millions of geniuses all around us already, but they won’t discover that about themselves without good education. Putting more babies into impoverished families won’t help their situation. Your concerns are so far off the mark, it’s comical.

        • jacobfromlost says

          You talk as if Einstein’s entire future, interests, education, experience, intelligence, and discoveries were all imprinted on his fetus at conception and that special and general relativity were fait accompli.

          You do realize that isn’t how reality works, right?

          • subzerobob says

            key word – Potential. You don’t know the potential, and that is why you shouldn’t abort

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Nope. “No slavery” argument trumps your “make people slaves because potential” argument.

          • jacobfromlost says

            “key word – Potential. You don’t know the potential, and that is why you shouldn’t abort”

            You don’t know the potential of ANY action. Maybe killing your neighbor will stop him from murdering the next Einstein. Should we then kill all our neighbors?

            As Donna Hayward once said, “Maybe, maybe the sun won’t come up tomorrow if you wash your hair. Think like that and you’re going to go crazy.”

            100 spiritual points for anyone who knows who Donna Hayward is, lol.

          • Narf says

            Everyone here knows who Donna Hayward is. We have Google. :P

            Of course, I already knew it from having watched the show, even if the name took a second to associate with the character. I didn’t remember that particular quote, though.

  7. subzerobob says

    re: narf
    “We have to desperately make sure that every woman in the world completely submits to every rapist who tries to force himself upon her! The woman who resists her rapist might have given birth to the next Einstein!:
    Wow – I can’t believe I have to dignify this with an answer! I am not promoting rape you jack! Rape is the wrong doing of the rapist! What I am saying is that If you abort a baby of a raped woman, then you are doing wrong to humanity by depriving them of a potential chance to have a rare intelligence.

    “Women should be banned from using any birth control! If every woman doesn’t have a baby once a year,”
    Wow – you are stupid! I am not telling how many times should a woman have sex! I am saying that each time she gets pregnant she can give the baby up for adoption, but not deprive the universe and all of the time of existence of the rare potential chance to have a rare intelligence!

    You are dumb narf, even dumber than me…sad that I have sunk so low to have to explain myself on the obvious. But off you go – march to the drum of dill pickle Matt! Do whatever he tells you! Off you go! Jump when the ACA says jump! Even if it is of the ledge!

    • Monocle Smile says

      Bobby, you’re borderline illiterate, you’re a moron, and you’re kind of an asshole. You don’t seem to understand very simple concepts and think that repeating yourself ad nauseum while ignoring our critiques somehow makes you right.

      You’re perhaps the least compelling and thoughtful person to encounter this blog for at least several months. There are trolls that make more coherent points, and they also tend to babble for paragraphs at a time far less than you.

      No one talks about how life is rare because A) the planet is already overpopulated with humans despite the incoherent screaming of the representatives of your reprehensible religion, and B) we don’t know if life is rare or not. There could be hundreds of civilizations spanning the galaxy. Hell, we could be living in a Mass Effect-type galaxy that’s rife with life and colonies and intergalactic warfare. But we currently have no way of knowing because our methods of looking out into the cosmos is severely hampered.

      • subzerobob says

        re: “there could be hundreds of civilizations spanning the galaxy.” if there were only hundreds of civilizations in billions of stars system galaxy, then life would be even more rare than I originally thought… Not sure where you are going with this! And RE: the planet overpopulated – I think it is about time to bury hatchets and all start working on the really important stuff – like finding an exoplanet inhabitable for life and getting the heck outta here and not just this planet but even out our solar system before it is too late. Does anyone even know – if we leave now, given what is predicted to happen – the expansion of the sun, the colliding of the Andromeda galaxy, if we leave now – can we still ensure the continuity of our intelligent life? And if we leave now, can we even make it alive to the closest possible exoplanet?

        • Narf says

          You do know that the collision with the Andromeda Galaxy will not be like a car wreck, right? It’s more of a splash, followed by a merging. There’s nothing threatening to us in that concept. Sure, there will be some individual star collisions, and some stars will be ejected from the resulting combination galaxy, but that already happens within a single galaxy.

          Anyway, this is 4 billion years from now. The species can worry about it when it becomes an issue, if we survive that long.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Outlawing abortion is making women into slaves. It is taking their body and using it for someone else’s benefit. It is forced labor. It is slavery. Even if slavery would make the world a better place for everyone else, it doesn’t for the slaves. Long ago we recognized your argument to be fallacious. We recognized that even if it makes people on average worse off, we are better for not keeping people as slaves.

      Women are not mere incubators for society. Their bodies do not belong to society. Their bodies are their own.

    • Deesse23 says

      “What I am saying is that If you abort a baby of a raped woman, then you are doing wrong to humanity by depriving them of a potential chance to have a rare intelligence. ”

      How horrible a statement is this? How horrible a person you must be! Are other human beings only *objects* to you, which have a purpose (for you, being part of humanity) only? Cant you imagine they have interests and right on their own, FOR themselves?
      If your statement would be a BIT more self-centered and a LITTLE less towards “humanity”, then this would sound VERY much psychopathic if im not wrong, someone PLEASE correct me.

      Dont you fell sorry in any way for the woman? Shame on you, go up to your room and no dinner tonite! Or better: Ask your moral agent for a new one, this one clearly sucked.

      Wow, i didnt disporve God, but i just proved he sucks…..kewl.

      • subzerobob says

        you know – I mentioned this “bodily slave” thing to a couple of people this week and they all laughed: “Yeah, I am a slave to society, I am a slave to my job, I am a slave to drinking water, because no matter how hard I try to get rid of H2O in my fluids, I can’t live without this damn H2O natural chemical compound!” The slave label is so easily slapped left and right when you don’t want to comply with something, or you want to gain some kind of selfish personal interest or freedom… But I can see how some of you want to have this option open, and it will work beautifully when we can assign the responsibility directly to the person making this decision. So I’ve already agreed to a compromise. You can do whatever it is that you want to do as long as before you do it, you go through the Power Point presentation of Kristine Kruszelnicki in this video and just to be fair – you can also have a discussion informative session of bodily rights, and then you make up your own mind.

        • mike says

          I’m not surprised at all that they laughed as you have clearly shown you don’t understand the argument at all. Whatever incoherent gibberish you told them about slavery probably was pretty funny, not to mention the circle of friends you have are prob not the brightest.

    • says

      >Wow – I can’t believe I have to dignify this with an answer! I am not promoting rape you jack! Rape is the wrong doing of the rapist! What I am saying is that If you abort a baby of a raped woman, then you are doing wrong to humanity by depriving them of a potential chance to have a rare intelligence.

      So forcing half the globe’s population to be subject to being unconsenting body donors is what you call “right”? You think THAT is some sort of humanitarian service and not an disturbing violation of human dignity and regard? You understand that what you’re advocating here is enslavement? That if a woman discovers she is pregnant, she loses her bodily rights and autonomy and should be compelled by law to be a 9-month body donor, without her consent, to some unknown other person? As someone else pointed out–people die all the time. I sometimes donate blood, and this saves lives. The life I save may be a great Einstein one day. But you know what I am NOT going to do? I’m not going to press for laws that FORCE people to donate blood in order to ensure we don’t lose one of those Einsteins to blood loss. The reason is that having a government that controls people’s bodies, and stripping humanity of their more basic right to not be bodily violated by other people–even in the SERVICE of other people–is pretty much one of the foundational aspects of human respect that is key to a societal existence that isn’t quite frightening and oppressive.

      The fact is, risk to a blood donor is low. But there is still risk. And so, every person must decide for him/herself whether to donate. People are harmed by complications to donating. Are we going to make the state responsible for that? If you force women to gestate every pregnancy whether they consent or not–are you going to be personally responsible for every woman who dies in childbirth? For every woman who suffers irreversible situations due to that gestation/birth? To every woman whose physiology is forever changed by that event? SHE has to live with YOUR decision to make HER gestate? Then YOU are responsible for every ounce of death or harm to every woman who gestates. But hey–we might get another Einstein out of it–so it’s all worth it, right? I mean, it’s not you paying the price, its the women you enslaved–so who gives a shit, right?

    • RandyW says

      Your argument fails to take into account the fact that, in most cases, women who have abortions have the same number of surviving children as they ever planned to have. What if they had the child they would have aborted, but the final child they would have had if they had an abortion would have been the greatest scientific mind and philanthropist and ethicist there ever was or would be? You’re denying the universe THAT person for the sake of some other person. Your argument eats its own tail. Logic is not your friend. You should get on speaking terms with it before trying to argue anything with anybody anywhere ever. Seriously. For reals.

  8. Ziplock says

    I’m trying to get a handle on the first part of David from Chicago’s call, but I’m not well steeped in philosophy…

    “Awareness of” is akin to “knowledge that” some facet of evidence, no?

    So couldn’t knowledge of the evidence of a claim lead to belief in that claim, which might lead eventually to knowledge of that claim? I know where he was going is a bit misguided, but am I using the terms correctly, or am I misusing them as bad as he did?

    In other words: I have knowledge of the evidence of the claim which is why I believe the claim is true… now that I have enough knowledge of enough evidence of the claim, I know the claim is true.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      I think it was as simple as:
      If you believe in god, then you must have at least some sort of knowledge or understanding relevant to gods. In order to believe X, you must have at least some background knowledge about X. In order to believe X, you must understand to some degree X, which entails that you have some background knowledge of X.

      I think it’s that simple.

      • subzerobob says

        i hate to break it to you but I am an agnostic theist.
        Agnostic = I don’t have any knowledge that somebody has quantifiable proven god. Neither do I think in the current state of science we can do such thing. Look around in this board I’ve posted the “Bring me the horizon” explanation.
        Theist = I believe, I posit the existence of an animating force behind existence. I have looked at all the premises and perhaps I have picked and chosen some to fit my particular worldview, but I have ultimately concluded via deductive (meaning logically follow from the all the premises presented) that god exists. The fact that there are scattered patterns all over – that doesn’t explain why such seeking and discovering of patterns further promotes the further flourish of life for the beings that discover the. Unless part of the intended creative process was for this to take place. God for me is the most simple explanation, and anything else you might propose, is not simple enough for me to intuitively understand (like infinite regress for example – no matter how back in time you go, it never leads to an actual beginning, and the universe clearly had a beginning). And as Einstein once said – if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

        • says

          Your “Bring me the horizon” explanation is a bad analogy. Yes, it is impossible to bring the horizon and put it in a test tube, but what you are ignoring is that I can walk you outside and point at the horizon and tell you, “That is the horizon.” I can explain to you in no uncertain terms exactly what a horizon is and why it exists. I can describe to you in very precise terms what the distance to the horizon is, and can even describe to you the horizon from any point on any body, real or imaginary. This is all because a horizon is a real and understood thing.

          All we ask is for similar standards of knowledge for a “god”. No one wants you to literally place your god in a tube.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          In order to practice science, you must create a model or hypothesis which has testable predictions. In other words, it must be coherent to say that your idea is wrong. Moreover, to be scientific, there must be some observation which can be done which allows the possibility of showing that your idea is wrong.

          We cannot do that for your “argument” for god. Your god claim is not falsifiable. It is not scientific. Thus it is bullshit.

          The horizon? It’s not a real thing. Anyone who claims it’s an object like a chair is silly and wrong. The horizon is a visual artifact, an observable phenomenon, which has its basis in real material objects, but it itself is not a real material object. Saying “horizons exist” is a different thing than saying “chairs exist”. Your analogy is bad.

    • says

      The question is about epistemology–as it relates to truth. “Knowledge” in that regard is what I claim to know to be true. “Belief” is what I claim to believe to be true. It’s not about simple information, but my assessment of it. So, we have two claims:

      1. I believe my husband is cheating.
      2. I know my husband is cheating.

      In general most people claim to believe more things than they claim to know. A person might say “I could be wrong, but I believe that my husband is cheating…” My belief could be predicated on any number of justifications that may be really crappy. It could just be a persistent feeling I have. However it would be quite odd to say “I could be wrong, but I know that gravity exists…” Knowledge in epistemology is most often defined as “justified true belief.” In other words, things you’re certain of for good reasons. Belief is simply that which you hold to be true–even if you accept you might be incorrect.

      This is why we cannot logically fail to believe in what we claim to know. I can’t say I “know” gravity exists, but I don’t “believe” it exists. To be certain of a thing, but then assert you don’t hold it to be true, makes no sense.

      But you can believe things–hold them as true–and admit to not being certain of them (not claiming to “know” they are true)–acknowledging that there may be a margin of error.

  9. subzerobob says

    re: EnlightenmentLiberal
    “Why don’t you kill yourself then? Really? Why not? If you think that human existence is so horrible, why not kill yourself?”

    Are you trying to quote bill maher’s religulous here? Booo! It is about to back fire on you big time, here:
    1. I don’t believe that life is mine is take away! Every living cell in my body has its own intent to stay alive. And even if my my intent was to end it all, if I tried to poison myself or something, what is to say that every living cell’s intent in my body won’t work together to bring me back to life? That intent to stay alive for every living cell in me is god in my life that will carry me through the rough patch when I am sick or unconscious, and bring me back to life. This is not mine to take away. This is for me to cherish, know its power, rely on it when I am sick, it is just like god is carrying me on his shoulders, draw meaning out of. That every life will strife to stay alive no matter what. That is the intrinsic purpose of life embedded in existence – for life to stay alive.
    2. I only brought this up because if you don’t think that this intrinsic purpose of life was intended, then you should be the one who should see existence as horrible and emotionally inefficient just like the atheist Inmendham proposes in his efilism arguments (look it up), and which I might add makes perfect sense in the absence of sounds very plausible way to end all suffering.

    • Monocle Smile says

      if I tried to poison myself or something, what is to say that every living cell’s intent in my body won’t work together to bring me back to life? That intent to stay alive for every living cell in me is god in my life that will carry me through the rough patch when I am sick or unconscious, and bring me back to life.

      And this, Bobby, is why I’m not kidding in the least when I recommend professional help. This is commonplace crazy talk. Magic evidently doesn’t exist. Your individual cells have no intent.

      you should be the one who should see existence as horrible and emotionally inefficient

      I find life worth living. I enjoy my life as it is. I’m sorry you don’t.

      Why would I give a flying fuck what Inmendham wrote? Should I care just because he happened to be an atheist? Atheists don’t just all agree with each other because we’re atheists. That’s stupid and pointless. I consider Ayn Rand to be one of the most disgusting humans to have ever lived as far as ideology is concerned, and it doesn’t matter one tit that she was atheist. You really don’t know anything about anything.

    • Monocle Smile says

      And now I fell for it. Inmendham isn’t some obscure philosopher. He’s an internet troll. Specifically, he’s equivalent to the rancid shit of an internet troll. It’s not just atheists who don’t take him seriously…I’d be surprised if ANYONE took him seriously. He’s an attention whore and a waste of humanity.

      • subzerobob says

        I’ve listened to him and I’ve read some similar arguments from philosophers (but better formed) and it does make sense to me. The problem is that if there is no “outside” moral agent then anyone could become the moral agent. And I do realize that is a horrible way to try to go about this point, but I also really think that objective morality is not just some invention to keep us from becoming cannibals. I objective reality is real as to how it feels in-bedded in you, how you know right and wrong right away. And I think that cannibalism was a learned behavior. It is a matter of popularity contest. It is like if one of those “most popular” shoving down the throat kind of person, convinces everyone that the best loving thing you could do for your unborn love child, would be not to give them birth at all and expose them to all the sorrow (or at least the potential for sorrow) that life has to offer. So that’s why abortion would be a good choice for the child. Like somebody once told me: “The only problem I see with democracy is if that 51% say that you should die, it doesn’t matter what the other 49% say” So that is why we cannot remove the word “God” from any inalienable rights mentionings, life you have the right to LIFE, because as soon as you do take the word “God” out, all you have to do is wait for the 51% and a good leader to come along and start questioning what else is really inalienable, and that will have no stopping, I can almost guarantee it!

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Why is god’s opinion special? Why does god’s opinion matter more than some human’s opinion? Are you espousing the philosophy of might makes right? I do not see any other coherent justification except some naked “because I say so”.

          “Objective morality” isn’t. There is no such thing. Worse than that, the concept is ill-defined. It’s “cognitively meaningless”. What possible observable difference could there be between this universe – which you say has “objective morality” and a universe without objective morality? As far as I can tell, none. There is no difference. Which means that your ideas are nonsense.

          Having said that, let me qualify. Anyone who doesn’t use scientific reasoning, or worse ignores clear conclusions from overwhelming evidence, is insane. I cannot argue logically that they should use evidence, but I am going to call them insane, and I will not concern myself further with the insane. Similarly, anyone who doesn’t think we should avoid more suffering for everyone is morally insane. They don’t know what they’re talking about, and I will not concern myself further with the (morally) insane.

          In other words, I’m saying it’s obvious that morality is not a substance in our shared reality like mass, length, and color. However, I am still going to use persuasion – and in some situations if need be violence – to support a morality which aims to improve the human condition of everyone. I have no justification for that, and I do not need a justification for that. If you disagree, then you are morally insane.

        • says

          Um, the idea that there is no “outside” moral agent does not preclude objective moral metrics from existing. In fact they have already been demonstrated TO exist, because when we talk about morality, we’re describing a specific set of actions that we observe in social species (and some asocial ones) that indicate they recognize others of their species and conform to certain standards of treatment and interactions. Moral dilemma tests are used to identify what people mean when they use the word “moral,” and animal behavioral psychologists have identified these features in other species as well. Morality is observed to be an intra-species capacity to recognize others that are “just like me” and treat them in ways that are different than individuals of other species. If we had not evolved these capacities–of empathy, equity, fairness, compassion–then we would lack the social bonding mechanisms (that hinge on my ability to recognize other humans and see them as specifically unique to me and valuable to me, above other species that cannot communicate and cooperate with me in *equal* ways that ensure our mutual survival). That is, social species are evolved to work with one another to survive, and that requires identifying others of their own kind as “more equal” to themselves.

          If I value myself only, and disregard others, social mechanisms key to survival of social species, would break down. We would become asocial and lose our edge on survival success very quickly. In other words–a society of sociopaths/psychopaths is no society at all.

          Morality is objectively observed. And while there may be some components to it that lend themselves to subjective perspectives, the foundations of morality are observed and catalogued and understood. If you’re not acting with compassion, empathy and equity, you’re not acting morally. If you are acting antithesis to those metrics, that is what is labeled as “immoral” action. And the majority of what we do is amoral–simply not in the categories of moral or immoral actions. Just benign activity–like having lunch. But to claim morality without an external agency is not possible isn’t just potentially wrong–based on all of the current evidence it’s actually contrary to what we can observe about the world and animal behavior so far.

          Here is some further reading that may be useful in helping you understand what constitutes “morality” and how it manifests observably in animals, and how it is an integral part of the evolution of social species:

          http://www.sociology.uiowa.edu/nsfworkshop/JournalArticleResources/Krebs_MoralityEvolutionaryAccount_2008.pdf

          • subzerobob says

            So I woke up this morning and decided to check out the blog, and boy was I attacked again…It is so hard for me to pick which post to reply, because I do hope you realize that there is an opposing Valid view on every point that you brought up. Even in this post amongst yourselves!
            1. Objective Morality – there is somebody he who says that there is no objective morality.
            As far as objective morality that evolves to sustain speciesism, it doesn’t explain why this has to happen? And not cannibalism and extension of all life. Why isn’t that the moral direction? Why does it have to be directed towards preserving life? Doesn’t that point to the intrinsic purpose of life to stay alive? Now you and I can argue as to the moral agent – I say it is God, and you say it happens naturally. My thing is – why is the will to stay alive so consistent? Why does life even have to arise in any place in the universe? Thats where I feel it is necessary to involve an agent. Where as you probably say that you don’t have to say why – it just happens. Like the laws of physics are deterministic in this way. Then I say – why are the laws of physics leading up to creating of life? And then you say – that’s a nonsensical question. Eitherway, my explanation gives a possible answer and something to go after. As to yours, the “Nothing” hypothesis, leads to nothing and doesn’t encourage further research because there is no point to search past “Nothing.”
            2. in regards to the amazon piraha, thanks for comparing us to the not progressed living like animals most certainly on the road to extinction kind. And as to being susceptible to the God idea, I would argue that they will get what I am trying to say even it is not in their language. This I say because it is imbeded in their brains to believe it. And again you haven’t explained just like the purpose to stay alive, why this sort of thing must happen in our physiology? And you would say something like – it still doesn’t prove my mind independent proposition because I had to introduce it to them. Which I don’t buy it, because the fact they will immediate get it, tells me that they have something similar going for them, but it is not quite advanced yet. Which only proves that the concept of God can progress. That’s about it…
            3. Mothers as Slaves argument. I don’t buy into the whole slave to humanity label. You are slapping the slave label, where I don’t see it as such. More like dedicated to the circle of life! Now I can’t stop you from not being dedicated, but that doesn’t mean I want you to be a slave! I want you to weigh in the magnitude of your choices. This is yet another attempt to separate us from the intrinsic purpose of life. This is like trying to become the moral agents of objective morality. Even speciesism – what if you are aborting the next chain of evolution that could help us overcome hiv, or cancer or what have you? What if the fetuses you are aborting are the links to a better evolved species? When you bring in the complications like choke on the chord – in any rational discussion it will brought up that mothers are rushed to the hospital and doctors and nurses do everything in their power to save the baby. I wonder why is that if nobody had a concern for that baby’s life or even thought that it was that baby’s right to life! So are you saying that at the point of birth is when you got your constitutional right to Life? Why is it wrong to rewind. You are alive now and you have the constitutional right to life, why can’t the constitutional right to life be rewound all the way to the moment of conception? If you are the surviving product of a botched up abortion, would you feel for the rest of your life like your biological mother was trying to kill you? Which is the less evil – murder or giving into the intrinsic purpose of life?
            4. How is it that knowing a belief might be wrong, unreasonable? And what bad decisions have I made having faith? Having faith that the universe will be the same the next second over, that the laws of physics are not going to change on me from one second to the next. What bad decisions have I made about this faith? Planning for my future? Planning for my retirement? Just because I believe one thing that you don’t, now all of a sudden everything else I believe should come into question? Because what kind of bad decision could I be making? Why is planning to walk on the ground that might not be there when I put my foot on it a bad decision? If you ridicule this, that that would be your statement of your faith that everything will remain equal and the same for you to continue to examine it. Just because you have no evidence that laws of physics might start to break down, doesn’t mean they can’t and they won’t. You just believe as much as I do that they won’t. So we are in the same boat when it comes to big scale faith. I say that it makes no sense that there is no animating force that holds the whole thing together, and you are asking me to give you proof of it. That’s the only difference here. And I can assure you that there are people that are working on it, but it is not unreasonable and it is certainly not asinine. It is just extraordinary and it requires extraordinary evidence, which we currently don’t even have a clue how to go about getting. I don’t see why that has to be attacked, laughed at, ridiculed, mocked, bullied, ganged up upon – like what has happened here, Why did I call you? So that I can tell you that my position is reasonable, and so that I can try to defend it. This also strengthens my conviction and motivates me more and more to find your flaws what everyone intuitively senses right off the bat when they tune into your show and they just need the words to express it.
            4. I would love to tune in to your broadcast and listen to crickets. I find it peaceful and soul soothing, unlike the vomiting rhetoric that you all have so well trained yourselves into spitting at people.

          • says

            >Objective Morality – there is somebody he who says that there is no objective morality.

            I did not say there is an objective morality. I said there are objective moral metrics that are observed that serve to impose constraints with regard to what can/can’t be considered “moral.” That’s not the same thing as asserting objective morality.

            In other words, “sight” is a requirement to have a visual sense of aesthetic. However what you find aesthetically pleasing is subjective to some degree. So there are some objective requirements that underlie an aesthetic sense, even though it also has subjective parameters as well. To say that since I have sight, aesthetic is objective, would be too over-reaching. Currently morality includes a slight subjective component. But it’s driven by objective realities that can be observed. And no god is needed to produce moral underpinnings—even other species show these inclinations—and no evidence they have god concepts.

            >And not cannibalism and extension of all life. Why isn’t that the moral direction?

            Because if social animals ate each other, they wouldn’t survive very long, because they’d be consuming the very foundation of their survival. Hint: Wolves do not hunt and eat other wolves—even those of other packs. Do they believe a god exists? No. It’s a requirement of an evolved social species. If we weren’t social, we may or may not eat each other—some asocial animals do not cannibalize. So, for example, you don’t see Cheetahs hunting Cheetahs. They still recognize their own species and treat it differently (mating and reserving territories) than other species. This is not magic, it’s an evolved feature. We know this because the Silver Fox experiment showed that artificial selection can lead to more, stronger social tendencies, which are the basis of moral metrics. Ergo—you can breed a more moral animal. Therefore it’s a demonstrated evolutionary trait.

            >Why does it have to be directed towards preserving life?

            Because historically, organisms not concerned with survival would be “less fit.” That is, if you don’t take action to preserve your existence, you won’t exist for very long. You won’t breed. And those individuals who do care about surviving will breed more, and you will end up with a planet full of animals evolved to ensure their own survival to the best of their ability. It’s not mysterious. It’s actually quite simplistic.

            >Doesn’t that point to the intrinsic purpose of life to stay alive?

            No. It points to someone who hasn’t really thought even a little bit about evolution.

            >I say it is God, and you say it happens naturally.

            Yes, again, the Silver Fox proves you can breed a more moral animal. Can you give me a demonstration of your god making a moral animal?

            >My thing is – why is the will to stay alive so consistent?

            Because things that don’t want to survive and don’t try to survive, don’t survive long and don’t pass on their genes. This is not even hard.

            >Thats where I feel it is necessary to involve an agent.

            So your argument for an agent is your ignorance of evolution? Because that’s what you’re actually describing.

            >Like the laws of physics are deterministic in this way. Then I say – why are the laws of physics leading up to creating of life?

            The reality of nature and physics has resulted in a great many things that exist today. In fact, for all I know “life” is a very minor occurrence. Most of the universe does not appear to be “life.” And even much of our planet is inanimate. You might as well ask “Why are the laws of physics leading up to creating black holes?” or “background radiation” or “vacuums of space?” or “iron ore?” Why are you so fixated on some small minute section of a vast universe as if it’s more relevant than other aspects of that which exists?

            >my explanation gives a possible answer and something to go after.

            Then why are we having this conversation? If you have “something to go after”—then by all means, pursue it and confirm whether or not it’s true. You don’t need to argue with me about it in order to do that. Why argue about the validity of it, if you have what you need to “go after it”? Why not stop arguing and go get this validity you claim you have the capacity to “go after”? Science actually demonstrates propositions. It doesn’t just make claims and then argue and insist they are true. It actually meets an obligation to test the truth of the claim before it asserts the claims as scientific fact. So, my question is—why you are working so hard to get others to agree, but not doing anything to try and confirm you’re even right? Do you think that if I agree with you, that will make you right—rather than making both of us wrong, but in agreement?

            You seem to be operating under a bad assumption that convincing others you are correct, actually MAKES you correct. That’s not how it works. No matter how many people think you have a good idea, until and unless you find some way to verify it, nobody can assign it a truth value. Nobody will have any justified reason to call it “true”—which means nobody should believe it.

            >in regards to the amazon piraha, thanks for comparing us to the not progressed living like animals

            Uh, WOW. You ethnocentric bigot. And that is all.

            >Mothers as Slaves argument. I don’t buy into the whole slave to humanity label. You are slapping the slave label,

            Yes, when you force Person-A to donate a body to helping Person-B survive, and you strip them of their ability to consent to that transaction, that’s slavery. The state is saying it owns your body and is giving it to Person-B to use, whether you consent or not. When you can use another person’s body as you like, without their permission, and they can’t refuse—how is that not enslavement? When the state let’s someone else use your body, without your consent, and the law forces you to comply—that’s what “slavery” is. That means someone else owns your body (the state), not you.

            > I wonder why is that if nobody had a concern for that baby’s life

            Why do you assume this? If a child’s life is in danger, and an organ donor is needed, we STILL have to have organ donations be voluntary—no matter HOW much sympathy we have for the dying child. The state cannot just start grabbing people—even parents—and strapping them down and removing body parts because we feel sorry for the sick child. Do you really advocate the state controlling people’s bodies in that way? I’m sympathetic to the child, but other people have a right to donate their bodies OR NOT to help others. Helping others, when it costs you physically, is a decision YOU have to make. I can’t make that decision for you. And I won’t allow the state to force you to risk yourself to save another. You’re welcome to do it, but not forced. And forcing you would be wrong.

            Nobody has a “right” to use someone else’s body to survive, against the will of the person donating the body. Do you really not understand WHY that is the case?

            >How is it that knowing a belief might be wrong, unreasonable?

            Because belief means to “accept as true.” If you have not verified it’s true—then why believe it? Why not wait until it’s verified as true, and THEN believe it? Nobody is making you believe it before it’s demonstrated, right? There is no gun to your head saying “believe this or we’ll shoot you.” So, you can wait to see if it’s true before you go around saying it’s true. But for some reason you want to say it’s true, but admit it might not be true. And I guess I’m wondering what makes you assert more than you know is honestly justified?

            And finally this cherry on top:

            >I would love to tune in to your broadcast and listen to crickets. I find it peaceful and soul soothing, unlike the vomiting rhetoric that you all have so well trained yourselves into spitting at people.

            Just to add that you seem extremely drawn to this “vomiting rhetoric.” You’re like the guy who says “That was the most disgusting porno video I ever watched…three times.” The fact you act fascinated by the show demonstrates you find it compelling. You can’t leave it alone. You’re even coming to the blog. And you tuned into Trolling with Logic to haunt Matt D there. So, are you being honest about your level of disgust with the program that you just can’t seem to put down? You have the option to sit outside and listen to crickets–but CLEARLY you’d rather tune into TAE. So, be honest here. It’s like calling your ex-girlfriend over and over to tell her how “over her” you are, and how “ugly” you think she is. LOL…doesn’t mean much if you’re still obviously hung up on her.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @subzerobob
            You are asking questions which are confusing two very distinct questions. 1- How do people behave? 2- How should people behave?

            I can answer how people behave by appealing to science. This is a question about our shared reality. I can even give a scientific story, a causal explanation, for why humans behave the way they do. I will start talking about evolution, natural selection, kin selection, and reciprocal altruism. I’ll start referencing game theory and the important difference between the one-off prisoner’s dilemma vs the iterated prisoner’s dilemma.

            A completely separate question is “how should people behave?”. There is no objective morality. “Good” is not a substance of our shared reality. However, suffering is an element of our shared reality. We can talk scientifically if people are suffering or not, and how much they are suffering. There are scientific truths as to ways to make people suffer more, and ways to make people suffer less. All you need to do is grant me that anyone who says “we should act to make everyone experience more suffering” is insane. From that simple beginning, the rest of morality follows.

            If you think it’s plausible that “we should act to make everyone experience more suffering”, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I also know that you don’t know what you’re talking about. It is insane, and just like I don’t have to take seriously people who say that I am not sitting on a chair, I don’t have to take seriously people who think we should make everyone suffer more.

          • Monocle Smile says

            Welp, we can now add ‘racism’ to the very long list of Bobby’s shortcomings.

            EL, I believe there is objective morality if we tune the definition of morality to being “that which prioritizes the well-being of thinking creatures.” I do agree that “good” is not a substance of our reality, like you say.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            The problem is the overloaded meaning of the word “objective”. In the meaning that this theist is using, there is no “objective morality”. He’s using it in the realism sense.

            However, humanism is an objective system of knowledge, just like judging football is objective and judging figure skating is subjective, and thus under that different meaning humanism is an objective morality. It’s all in the semantics. But yeah, we both agree.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Ah, missed this from earlier.

            You are slapping the slave label, where I don’t see it as such.

            Oh, what word would you use for taking someone’s body (a pregnant woman) without their consent and using it for the sole benefit of a second person (the fetus)? Hmmm… I think slavery is a perfect word for that situation.

          • Sadako says

            Bobby, we have a thorough understanding of Piraha society and language because anthropologists and linguists have studied them for over 30 years. They HAVE encountered the idea of gods through those anthropologists and linguists, but the Piraha rejected the idea of Jesus and gods–the only ‘spirits’ that they believe in are things like jaguars and caimans, which are animals they have personal experience with. It’s questionable whether or not they even believe in ‘spirits’, or if they just believe that somewhere, in the jungle, there are jaguars that will attack them, which is a totally justified belief based on experience (the only other statement an anthropologist has made regarding Piraha belief in spirits seems like the Piraha were just trolling the poor guy). So no, it’s not that they’ve just never thought of gods, and once we take up the White Man’s Burden and teach these heathen animals about Jesus, all 450 of them will hop on board and buy it hook, line and sinker.

            You really oughtn’t make declarative statements about a subject that you’ve never studied. You have established that you know nothing about Piraha culture–your response shows that you haven’t even read the Wikipedia article on the Piraha, and also shows that you’re ridiculously ethnocentric and racist.

        • says

          “The problem is that if there is no “outside” moral agent then anyone could become the moral agent.”

          Um, everyone IS their own moral agent. Any “Christian” who would truly observe the “moral” code of the Bible would be in prison in a week. We all pick and choose the parts that seem to make sense, based on our experience, our senses, evaluations of outcomes, etc.

          As a “panentheist” where does your moral code come from? It certainly can’t be the Bible or the Torah.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      if I tried to poison myself or something, what is to say that every living cell’s intent in my body won’t work together to bring me back to life?

      What says that can’t happen? Millennia of scientific knowledge.

      Do you honestly thing that this could happen? In all seriousness, seek professional help if you think this is possible. You are a danger to yourself and others.

      • subzerobob says

        are you saying that people who have poisoned themselves but not to the point of mortality, have not survived? And if there are such people who survived, would you say that their entire organism went into overdrive to bring them back to life, despite their predominant initial suicidal intentions? Yes, perhaps I don’t have the correct words to describe this vehicle for maintaining life that is embedded in each living thing, but that doesn’t make me insane! And just because I brought up this example, it doesn’t make me a danger to myself! It doesn’t mean that I am going to do it! I am just looking at a situation and I want to know – why do living organisms fight to stay alive or adopt or what have you!? It seems like that’s an intrinsic purpose of life – to stay alive!

          • subzerobob says

            again – I am sorry that I don’t have the correct words to describe this vehicle for maintaining life that is embedded in each living thing, but that doesn’t make me deranged! At this point I am left to wonder how many insults are there left to throw at somebody that doesn’t agree with you? Insane, deranged, asinine – does it give you pleasure to talk this way? Perhaps you should get yourself checked?! I mean who goes around these days in the 21st century and screams “That’s Asinine!” at everything as if it is 16th century. It does seem troubling, you should get that checked! Especially when you are cornered and the only thing you got left to scream is – “That’s Asinine!” lulz, it makes me laugh! I picture a douchbag in stockings and wig saying asinine as if it really is… when it is not! Just because you say that something doesn’t make sense to your world philosophy, doesn’t make it crazy! Anyway – good job on recruiting me as one of you, you the superior kind – the coveted Atheist title! I am sorry but your marketing campaign of bigotry sux. I will never be an atheist. You guys are too elite and smart for me! Go rule the world on your own… proud Very few and rapidly decreasing due to poor human interraction, despite your humanism claims.

          • says

            >Anyway – good job on recruiting me as one of you, you the superior kind

            Can I just point out here that DURING the call I noted that nobody has to call our show? That a person can have their personal beliefs and not engage in debate? Our show simply invites people to call in and talk about atheist issues if that is what they want to do. The show *could* be a show each week where we open the lines, turn on the camera, and nobody calls. *CRICKETS* We don’t force people to call. We don’t call out to people from the studio phones.

            So, in fact, YOU called an atheist program to argue for your theistic position–isn’t that true? And the atheist on the show told you that you don’t have to defend your beliefs to anyone, and you can have them, and not argue with atheists about them if you don’t want to–and you STILL continued to push your beliefs are reasonable TO US.

            And now you’re pulling the “atheists are trying to recruit me” bullshit card?

            I call shenanigans. We invite anyone to call in. But anyone who calls is the one initiating the dialog and framing the dialog. You called US to dialog. And YOU told us what that dialog was going to be about. Additionally–there was no compulsion for you to come to this blog and argue here on these threads–and yet, here you are…? Who is trying to convince who here–do you honestly think?

          • Monocle Smile says

            who goes around these days in the 21st century and screams “That’s Asinine!” at everything as if it is 16th century.

            If you weren’t completely wrong about absolutely everything, we wouldn’t react in this manner. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect times a thousand; you’re not even aware of the tiniest fraction of your own ignorance.

        • says

          “if I tried to poison myself or something, what is to say that every living cell’s intent in my body won’t work together to bring me back to life?”

          “are you saying that people who have poisoned themselves but not to the point of mortality, have not survived?”

          Nice job changing your argument mid-stream.

          • subzerobob says

            i added “but not to the point of mortality” to emphasize that the drive to stay alive inside all living things is intrinsic despite what local consciousness intent might be

            I thought that was necessary because people are not getting it (and probably still not getting it… ?!~!!??)

  10. says

    Someone on another thread brought up an interesting scenario. While awaiting a surgery, a hospital chaplain came in to assess his spiritual needs, even though he’s out as an atheist and this was on his chart. The guy’s mother was in the room with him, and he said he could see his mother’s disappointment, because she’s always disappointed and ashamed of his atheism.

    My follow up hypothetical was “what if you weren’t even out?”

    What if a person not out got scared and accepted religious support/prayer/service of some kind they really did not want because they didn’t want to risk acting non-religious in front of their family right there in the room with them as they’re being “spiritually assessed” by a hospital chaplain making his rounds? Is that best for a surgery patient to be put in that situation when they’re already concerned about going in for surgery? Now they’re whole family stress at “what if my family rejects me? Should i out myself?” is tossed into that mix?

    What if the person’s mother speaks up to say “Yes, he’s very devout–he’d love a prayer!” and the “not out” person doesn’t want to act suspiciously and accepts the unwanted service? Again–adding stress on a patient in an already stressful situation?

    These “spirituality” people don’t consider atheism at all. They don’t care or consider what an atheist situation might bring to bear on a family. They consider spirituality as this sort of “light’ thing–when it’s really a very heavy source of family stress and strain for nonbelievers very often. They treat atheists like atheists don’t exist and they offend and marginalize us with this bullshit because of their insensitivity to our demographic. They’re not just giving religious people one more method of marginalizing us–they’re doing themselves out of pure ignorance. They seem to think that not believing in a god means that the “religion” thing is not a big deal to you or your life. But they aren’t getting the gravity of having to navigate very religious social structures as someone who is not “normal” and often vilified for their view on god. They are insensitive and ignorant and unconcerned about the fallout for atheists due to these up and coming policies. “Oh, you’re an atheist? OK, then just say ‘no’–what’s the big deal?”

    The big deal is my mom is standing right here, and I can’t be honest with you because she doesn’t know and might stop loving me if I tell you the truth. NOW do you understand what you’ve just done to me as I await my surgical procedure, you clod?

    • subzerobob says

      re: heicart
      “The big deal is my mom is standing right here, and I can’t be honest with you because she doesn’t know and might stop loving me if I tell you the truth. NOW do you understand what you’ve just done to me as I await my surgical procedure, you clod?”

      Sounds more like a personal problem between your mom and you, and you trying to blame it on the guy that didn’t know the back story of it. If I was you, I would pull the guy to the side and tell him – look, it is not your fault, you didn’t know but my mom doesn’t know I am an atheist and I would like to keep it that way. But please don’t ask me to pray or hold my hand because it offends me. You can hold her hand and pray with her or whatever or wait until I leave and do this… thing that y’all do, but I would prefer if you didn’t do this when I was around and I appreciate if if you kept this conversation confidential.
      This is more like a failure for you to communicate to human beings. Yet another example of what I see as this failed humanism. And yet I see this word humanism thrown around so much in this blog, I wonder – what the are you teaching people when you say humanism if you don’t even know how to be human to people yourself?

      • Monocle Smile says

        It’s always fun being lectured about “being human” to other people by a racist advocate of female slavery.

          • subzerobob says

            how am I a racist? Have I demonstrated or acted upon some type of discriminatory practices solely based on the color of the skin? And the slavery label – you put that there, not me. I already agreed to just have mandatory courses in both depriving the universe of the potential rarity of intelligent life with the purpose of the course to convince the mother to donate to the intrinsic circle of life which might possibility lead to intellectual greatness and give the baby for adoption after birth if she chooses it is appropriate for her, and the second course of bodily rights.

          • Narf says

            Some of your statements about the Amazon Piraha people were pretty ignorant and could be considered racist.

            I’m not even going to get back to the whole abortion issue, since your argument against abortion is so stupid, and I don’t think you’re capable of comprehending how stupid it is, despite the multiple people who have explained it to you. As I said earlier …

            We have to desperately make sure that every woman in the world completely submits to every rapist who tries to force himself upon her! The woman who resists her rapist might have given birth to the next Einstein! Women should be banned from using any birth control! If every woman doesn’t have a baby once a year, the baby she isn’t having during that year might have been the next Einstein!

            That is a simple extension of your argument. You’re able to see why it is a bad argument for those things, yet you can’t seem to comprehend why it’s a bad argument for banning abortion, for the same reasons. I don’t know how to fix that malfunction in your head.

          • subzerobob says

            re: narf
            “That is a simple extension of your argument. You’re able to see why it is a bad argument for those things,”

            No – that’s putting words in my mouth and making me look like somebody that I am not. I already told you that the rape thing is in the rapist, and I am Not advocating anything even closely related to “completely submit to every rapist who tries to force himself upon her” Because of this I can’t even continue to talk to you. I feel very deeply insulted and I condemn for putting such words in my mouth then calling me racist or proponent of slavery just because you make “simple extensions” of my arguments?! Please don’t! It’s not playing fair and only serves the purpose to defame my character. You’ve done this multiple times – you try to attack my character as means to attack the validity of my proposition, and I am telling you again – this (attacking me dishonestly the way you do – putting words in my mouth) does nothing to the validity of my propositions.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Let me make it simple. You said that abortion is acting against increasing the individual count of humanity, and that’s bad. But seriously, how it “not raping” different by that measure? Not raping someone also does not increase the individual count of humanity. Obviously, you think rape is bad. Why? Because of the harm done to the woman. Yet, you don’t see the same problem when you want to outlaw abortion. It’s the same problem – you are doing harm to the woman, and arguably (in my mansplaining) it is comparatively as bad as the rape itself to forbid abortions afterwards. Or so I’ve been told.

            What is the difference in these two situations? In the first, a man forces her down and uses her body for his pleasure. In the second, you are forcing her down – via the police and courts – to again use her body for your own pleasure. I’m not seeing a difference here.

            I know what your rebuttal will be. “With abortions, there’s a second human being involved”. I have to say that we all disagree here with your conclusions, including myself, but at least I will recognize that you are not a moral monster for making that distinction and coming to separate conclusions.

            However, what this shows is that the overriding principle is not making more humans at any cost. Instead, this shows that the well-being of women and the ability for women to control their own bodies trumps the “value” of having more human beings by rape.

            In fact, I would argue that there is no comparison at all. There is no weighing of the benefits vs the costs. Increasing the population count is simply not a goal that anyone should be striving for. How much harm are you willing to do to a woman to increase the human population count? To me, that’s a nonsensical question. The answer is 0. I am not willing to do any harm at all to a woman to increase the population count. Increasing the population count is simply not a value which I hold. At all.

          • Narf says

            I know what your rebuttal will be. “With abortions, there’s a second human being involved”.

            Heck, in requiring that a woman allow herself to be raped, there’s a second human being involved, too … the baby that could be born as a result of that rape. That is also a potential human being, as is the fetus that is being aborted. :)

            Someone just doesn’t understand the absurdity of worrying about potentiality and can’t grasp arguments that we should focus instead on the actual.

          • subzerobob says

            RE: EnlightenmentLiberal

            “However, what this shows is that the overriding principle is not making more humans at any cost.”

            This is the only statement I can agree with, and I thought it was self evident to begin with. But perhaps not, which is why so many of you have gone bonkers with the “subject women to rape” thing and “abort all babies” crap. Everything with moderation and thoughtfulness – and not like those idiot teenagers that I see on TV that are going around wanting to have a baby… They can’t even take care of themselves, how irresponsible! So for me moderation can only go as far as having some sustainability in place in order to plan beforehand, because we owe that to the humans coming after us. That being said, I still stick to my point that once conception happens, all pre-event planning [or lack thereof] gets thrown out the window and we have to stick with it. If the mother can’t guarantee certain basic necessities, we all have to step in and help out. there is always the adoption process. There are so many ways to go about this other than abortion. Ultimately we don’t have the luxury to ask you before hand about your rights to being born before you are actually born – while you are a fetus in your mom’s uterus. But we owe it to humanity to give you the benefit of the doubt for every possible brilliance by knowing that everybody is born with equal probability for greatness. Even in deformities or diseases, look at that kid Jacob Barnett or even Stephen Hawking had Lou Gehrig’s Disease since birth

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            That being said, I still stick to my point that once conception happens, all pre-event planning [or lack thereof] gets thrown out the window and we have to stick with it.

            Yea, I got that, and it’s still as stupid now as it was weeks ago. It’s just as ridiculous as saying we should use modern medical technology to keep as many of the cells of dead human body alive for as long as possible even though the body is clearly dead. It’s just not something I care about, and it’s not something that a decent human being would put before the well-being of an actual human being.

          • subzerobob says

            “it’s not something that a decent human being would put before the well-being of an actual human being.”

            I am confused – are you talking about complications just like what Adam W talks about above by bringing up the Munoz case? Why are you stirring up the waters? Am I starting to make sense about what should be the “in general” idea? I am talking about in general – for the people who abort based for arrogant selfish reasons. Elsewhere here I’ve already stated what I think about complications, and I quote:

            “key answer is “natural miscarriage” At least I can go to sleep knowing that I didn’t exacerbate the issue by aborting before the “natural miscarriage” was even detectable.”

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @subzerobob
            You have a reading comprehension problem. If you value and give consideration to a hundred undifferentiated cells so much that you are willing to cause harm to an actual person (e.g. the mother by outlawing abortion), then you are not a decent human being.

      • RandyW says

        And, it’s the doctor’s obligation to stir the pot, because that’s how good medical care works. Do you ever think one step further than the end of each sentence?

  11. jacobfromlost says

    Very interesting thread, at least in the responses. Subzerobob is baiting everyone on the thread–and as happens so often, I can’t tell if he’s an atheist troll or just a weird flavor of crazy. I find that I just don’t care that much.

    I’ll just say I agree with Tracie–the god idea is not universal (I love this line from the wikipedia page on the Piraha tribe: “According to Everett [a Christian missionary], the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god,[11] and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had never seen him.” I know the feeling. What’s interesting, is Everett–the missionary–soon learned the feeling too, and became a former Christian).

    The whole “outside of space and time” argument is silly to me, as we don’t entirely understand what that actually is yet, but what little we do understand suggests no god is needed–just as no god is needed for the planets to get into their current orbits. Newton once said his laws of gravity could explain how the planets behave now in their current positions, but couldn’t explain how they got there in the first place…and thus said that this was a compelling reason to think god put them there. Well, no one makes that argument today (except Bill O’Reilly, maybe: watch?v=UyHzhtARf8M “How’d the moon get there? How’d the sun get there? How’d it get there?” …Really Bill? Really?).

    It’s like asking what is north of the north pole (I spelled it right this time Tracie), and then making up 91 degrees north, 92 degrees north, 1000 degrees north…and declaring that must be where all the two dimensional coordinates of the earth must come from.

    Well what if your model of all of reality encompassing a two dimensional coordinate system is WRONG? Then the north pole is simply the north pole as a consequence of the earth existing in more than two dimensions–dimensions you never considered. You don’t have an infinite regress problem (going north forever), nor do you have a “beginning” problem or a “cause” problem as the north pole would simply be the consequence of reality having more than two dimensions…and the “consequence” isn’t even a cause (or a two dimensional coordinate) the way we had assumed with our flat earth mentality.

    Likewise, what if your assumptions of an infinite regress, a beginning to space-time, or a “cause” are all based on false assumptions you derived from a faulty understanding of the nature of reality, just the same as a flat earther couldn’t understand how nothing is holding up the earth (or that there is nothing north of the north pole and that this “nothing” is not a problem in reality at all)?

    Let’s just cut to the chase.

    If you believe in a god that exists (however you define existence), did god create his own existence or not?
    If he did, he did so while not existing as that is the only thing “outside” of existence.
    If not, he simply exists like everything else in existence, and “causing” other things absolutely loses all meaning as god him/herself is UNCAUSED.

    If you follow the cause of everything back to something that has no cause, you’ve just proven that nothing has a cause (or purpose, by the way). You’ve just proven that all of existence is just an extension of god, whose existence is uncaused and purposeless.

    Here’s another way to demonstrate the flawed thinking of “god outside of space and time”.

    “Outside” is a spatial term. How FAR outside of space is god? (Do you see the problem?)

    If you say god is outside of time, I will ask you in five minutes, HOW LONG HAS GOD BEEN OUTSIDE OF TIME IN THOSE FIVE MINUTES?

    Do you see the problem now? You are using Newtonian absolute space and absolute time (that he cribbed from the Greeks) and trying to force it onto reality, when it just doesn’t work given what we now know about space and time. Just as Newton was WRONG in claiming that we could not ever know how the planets got to their current positions, which meant god must have put them there (so he said)…and just as a flat earther would be wrong in declaring something north of the north pole.

    Moreover, if we were capable of exploring all of existence (space, time, and anything and everything beyond it) and still found no god, how long would it take for believers to notice the mistake they are making when they then claim god is “outside” of existence?

    As the deepity goes, “God is the god beyond god.”

    And I’m willing to bet hard cash that god is the god beyond existence (in any form) as well. Believers will think this is profound, when really all it means is that, as Peter de Vries wrote, “It is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.”

    • subzerobob says

      just a line down: “However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment.”
      I wonder how the conversation went…

      • Sadako says

        They believe in jaguars and caimans–things that they have direct personal experience with. Whether they actually believe there is a ‘spirit’, or if they believe ‘somewhere, out in the jungle, there is a jaguar that will attack me’ (a justified belief based on personal experience with jaguars) would require more research.

        Though the other claim about Piraha beliefs involving spirits definitely sounds like they were trolling Everett. (‘No, really, there’s a spirit that lives above the clouds down at the beach, can’t you see it? *snicker snort*’) They were told about Jesus by Everett, after all, who likely would have described Jesus as living up above the clouds, but Everett had never seen him–after which, the Piraha had no interest in Jesus, because Everett could provide them with no reason to believe.

    • says

      >The whole “outside of space and time” argument is silly to me…

      Agreed. Can “existence” even have meaning “outside of space and time”? How would there be an opportunity to exist once the only meaningful measures of existence are eliminated? What is the difference between “existing outside space and time” and “nonexistence”?

      It reminds me of a poem I heard once:

      As I was going up the stairs
      I met a man who was not there.
      He was not there again today.
      I wish that man would go away.

      What is the difference between “a man who is not there” and “no man”? Can a man who is not there “go away”?

      If you eliminate space and time, how do you know you haven’t eliminated requirements for the capacity for anything to actually exist? How would someone test that?

      • subzerobob says

        the problem here is of semantics
        “I met a man who was not there”
        what I am saying is that there is type of existence outside of time and space, such as abstract objects, like numbers for example.
        So lets try this again: I went up the stairs and I met a number that wasn’t previously there. This speaks more about my state of being as not being able to discover the number and concluding that it wasn’t previously there. Then I told the number to go away, but it wouldn’t and now everyone else knows about it. This is kind of like discovering the truth about math and logic for the first time…

        • Monocle Smile says

          such as abstract objects, like numbers for example.

          Those don’t actually EXIST as things. Those are mental constructs and exist only as parts of brain states (which are not outside of space and time), nothing more. This is also why there’s NO SUCH THING as a “mind-independent concept.” Concepts BY DEFINITION are the product of brain function.

          • subzerobob says

            if abstract objects were not mind independent, then all of your above claims that we would come up with general relativity without Einstein are bogus. Abstract Objects like numbers don’t depend on brains to exist. If there were no humans, or brains, if aliens don’t have brains but some other cognitive type of organ and discover the cosmological constants, would that convince you that abstract objects don’t require brains to exist?

          • Monocle Smile says

            Reality is mind-independent. Our DESCRIPTIONS of reality are not. You’re confusing the map with the terrain, which is typical of someone who doesn’t understand arguments from analogy.

            My claims are not bogus, because math gives us a reliable method of describing reality. Math is conducive to our minds. If you went back and slaughtered every scientist, it’s very likely that we’d make all those same discoveries in a different ORDER and it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but that’s a moot point.

            if aliens don’t have brains but some other cognitive type of organ and discover the cosmological constants, would that convince you that abstract objects don’t require brains to exist?

            I don’t feel like explaining why this is a fucktarded argument because it should be obvious. Hint: the ‘cognitive’ part is what’s important, not the specific word/organ ‘brain.’

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            would that convince you that abstract objects don’t require brains to exist?

            A workable definition of “exist” which allows me to distinguish between it being true and being false. You would need to give a observable difference between the hypothetical world where it exists, and the hypothetical world where it does not exist. Without that, I literally do not understand what you are talking about.

          • AhmNee says

            If there were no humans, or brains, if aliens don’t have brains but some other cognitive type of organ and discover the cosmological constants, would that convince you that abstract objects don’t require brains to exist?

            Oh for cryin out … REALLY?

            Let me paraphrase.

            “If aliens have brains or equivalent organs to brains but we don’t call them brains doesn’t that mean brains aren’t required?”

            A brain, by any other name would smell just as sweet, and ARE STILL BRAINS!
            Even it every cell in their body was part of the “organ” where their cognitive functions process their thoughts. Even if they had 3 brains that each take care of different parts of the collective consciousness.
            Even if they are missing or have additional parts of brains that function in ways different than ours.

            You’re still talking about their F-ing brains.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Actually, in elementary philosophy, they teach the use of paragraph breaks, proper capitalization and punctuation, and the ability to communicate clearly. You are lacking all of those.

            Ok, technically they might assume you have some of those skills from earlier classes.

          • AhmNee says

            Yeah. From your reasoning here on this forum, I can safely assume that by elementary philosophy, you mean the shit kids come up with on the playground at recess.

            Be careful. The ground is lava and the monkey bars are gool (Or base/safety if you didn’t have gool).

        • RandyW says

          “what I am saying is that there is type of existence outside of time and space, such as abstract objects, like numbers for example.”

          No. Those are not OBJECTS, they are CONCEPTS. Concepts, necessarily, exist only within minds. If you disagree, simply demonstrate that there are concepts that exist outside of minds. Good luck. Also, demonstrate that existence outside of time and space is a scientifically valid state. I’m sure there are plenty of physicists far better qualified than I, and WAAAAAAY better qualified than you, who could weigh in on such a claim. Whenever you’re interested in providing evidence to support your batshit crazy assertions, you just go ahead.

  12. subzerobob says

    re: corwyn
    “Oddly enough science disagrees with you about that as well…”
    GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGIOSITY AND ATHEISM

    I don’t know, but I just post what I read too”
    global study has concluded that atheism is on a global decline due to continuing steady increases in religiosity in China, which harbors the majority of atheists and non-religious people, and Eastern Europe which has had significant changes in religiosity after the fall of communism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#_note-1

    • Monocle Smile says

      It’s looking like you’ll never understand exactly what’s wrong with you. I don’t think you’re a troll, but I DO think you’re an attention whore.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Umm, actually, yes. That’s true. It’s because I value truth, honesty, integrity, a form of democratic government, free speech, human well-being, material wealth which comes as the result of specialization of labor in a regulated market, and so on. More or less everything that Mao’s communism stands for, I disagree with.

          I disagree even with the government cracking down on religious belief. I want to crush religion, but only by honest discourse and reason – never by violence.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    At this point, I’m pretty sure Bobby’s nothing more than the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail…limbless and in utter denial. At least the Black Knight was concise and coherent.

  14. subzerobob says

    RE: Monocle Smile
    “Wait, why is it OUR fault that you believe for bad reasons? And why is this a shortcoming of ours?”
    Glad to know you have knowledge that my reasons are bad! Or Faith?! I guess the shortcoming is you and atheism failing to convince people like Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, and even being able to hold on to your previous leader Antony Flew. Please don’t talk to me about shortcomings!

    “the time to believe something is AFTER you have justification, and WE DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK if it “happens to be true” down the line. that’s not how reality works, and you just don’t even remotely understand this.”
    From what I understand, people start off the quest for knowledge by proposing multiple guesses, then they pick one which they Believe might be the best explanation of something, then they test what does it imply, then compare the result to experiment. The underlining faith in the whole process is that everything will remain equal for you to continue to examine it. So as you can see – certain degree of Belief and Faith play a huge role in the scientific process. “Scientists [are] …truly religious men because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe.” – Albert Einstein. In other world – you have to believe that the laws of physics, cosmological constants, everything will remain equal in order to conduct any scientific research, based on the current model of science that is.

    • Monocle Smile says

      You’ve said that you can’t test, let alone verify, your “god hypothesis,” yet you believe it. Thus, you believe it for bad reasons. Faith is the worst possible reason to believe anything, bullshit Einstein quotes (which don’t impress anyone, especially when quote-mined) aside.

      Miller and Collins, while great scientists, DO believe for bad reasons. Have you read any of Collins’ non-scientific writing? It’s rather sad. That’s what indoctrination does…it paralyzes your mind to the point where you can’t see past it.

      Antony Flew wasn’t a “leader” of anything, let alone atheism, which has no leaders. He was convinced of a “deistic position” on his deathbed when his brain was malfunctioning and EVEN ACKNOWLEDGED that he converted for bad reasons. This level of jackassery is becoming increasingly shameful.

      The underlining faith in the whole process is that everything will remain equal for you to continue to examine it.

      Uniformity takes no faith to accept, and now we’re getting into fractal wrongness. Furthermore, this highlights that you were in fact lying earlier because you just tried to change what you meant when trying to insert “belief” into the hypothesis thing earlier (which was an indirect endorsement of confirmation bias).

    • jacobfromlost says

      “The underlining faith in the whole process is that everything will remain equal for you to continue to examine it.”

      Nope. The fact that the process works each time is not only a demonstration of each separate conclusion, but of the overall scientific method. If it stopped working tomorrow, then it wouldn’t work anymore.

      Also, are you for real? I just don’t buy the act.

      Can you verify your craziness for me? Point me to another blog, website, etc, that predates this blog significantly enough to let us know you have been spouting this nonsense over a period of time and are either a very dedicated troll or truly bonkers?

      I’m going to start independently googling your handle to see what I get. I encourage others to do the same.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins

      Fallacious appeal to authority and argument by popular opinion. Evidence and reasoned argument or go home.

      From what I understand, people start off the quest for knowledge by proposing multiple guesses, then they pick one which they Believe might be the best explanation of something

      No, this is completely wrong. We never pick what is the “best explanation”. Instead, if we stumble across an idea that actually works, then we use it. We use the criteria of “best working explanation”, not mere “best explanation”. The best explanation we have might be crap.

      The underlining faith in the whole process is that everything will remain equal for you to continue to examine it. So as you can see – certain degree of Belief and Faith play a huge role in the scientific process.

      Tomorrow, the rules of gravity might change. Maybe positive charges start attracting instead of repelling. It may happen. Nothing in science says it won’t with 100% confidence. When it does, we will learn about it by examining realty and using evidence and reason.

      You are right that it is a kind of faith to use evidence. When I drop a ball every day of my life, and it falls, you cannot derive via pure deductive logic that it will fall the next time. You need some faith that the universe is discoverable, and that we live in a shared reality which we can discover and model. But that’s it. Anyone who doesn’t have this belief, this value, we call insane. The person who sees a hammer drop when released every day of their life, but is unconvinced that it will fall the next time, is insane. I do not have to take serious the opinions of insane people. I do not have to take seriously someone’s opinion that the hammer might not fall tomorrow, just like I do not have to take seriously the beliefs of someone who says they’re Napoleon.

      Your faith is different. Your faith is that there is a god, which has a mind, and a purpose, and we humans have a special part to play in that purpose. You have faith that there is some specific thing in our shared reality. It is no better than guessing. You sit on your comfy chair, close your eyes, and pull ideas out of thin air. It’s throwing darts at a dart-board.

      You are not insane. You understand that the hammer will fall tomorrow when I let it go.

      You also understand that it’s completely unreasonable for me to say that the number of hairs on your head is odd. Maybe it is. There’s a 50-50 chance that I’m right. But I have no reasonable basis to make that conclusion. You know this. I know this.

      When you say there’s a god, it’s exactly as stupid as me saying I know how many hairs there are on your head. It’s stupid for exactly the same reasons. It’s stupid because you do not have any good evidence or reason to believe that it’s true.

      • AhmNee says

        I don’t mean to correct you, EL, as much as clarify because Bob is already playing word-games with “faith”. It’s not that you have faith that the ball will drop. It’s trust on reliable past evidence through observation. Don’t go down that faith rabbit hole.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Sorry, no. You cannot dodge the problem of induction with pretty word play. You also cannot justify the use of logic with logic, and you cannot justify caring about human well-being by appealing to human well-being. All sane belief systems are axiomatic, and AFAIK the only workable of “faith” is that all of your axioms are taken “on faith”. See the “The Moral Landscape” and various talks of Sam Harris for more information.

    • RandyW says

      A guess, or HYPOTHESIS, isn’t a BELIEF. When you can get that through your thick skull, perhaps a more intelligent and meaningful exchange of ideas can occur. Until then, it will be you making baseless assertions and bastardizing the language and declaring victory, like the proverbial pigeon on the chessboard.

  15. ursa major says

    Subzero,
    I have worked in mental health, I have listened to many with various problems including addiction, dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression. Though I am not sure what your problem is it is clearly a very bad case as shown by all the angry word salad and delusions. Please, please get some help.

    If any of Bobby’s family or friends are reading – he just may qualify for an involuntary confinement and evaluation.

    As for the essay on “spirituality” in healthcare, in the US healthcare is saturated with it. I have had a coworker who spent shifts performing exorcisms, browbeating patients over their beliefs is common and I have even seen the problem list in a patient chart include an entry for patient having the wrong religion.

    • b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

      The “wrong religion”? What the heck?

      In two counties near me, a religious group owns 8 hospitals, 50-odd clinics and a hospice, running them all, “guided by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.” It makes it difficult for the people living in those areas to go to a strictly secular institution.

      The worst run-in I’ve had is doing pre-check-in for surgery and being asked my religion. “None,” I said. When I was given the paperwork to look over, they’d filled the black with, “No Preference”. I told the intake person, “No, it’s not that I don’t have a religious preference, I have no religion. I’m an atheist.” She got a little cranky with me saying I should’ve told her that up-front; that Atheism was my religion. I tried explaining that atheism =/= religion, but I don’t know that I ever really got through. And I still wound up telling the chaplain to kindly find someone in need of their services since I had no need.

      Small potatoes compared to the problems of others.

  16. StonedRanger says

    I realize that Im relatively new here, but you guys cant see that subzero is nothing but a troll or a ‘poe’? His (or her) claim to be an agnostic theist is just a pathetic attempt to not be labeled as the nut case they obviously are. I havent seen the show yet because it hasnt shown up anywhere that I can view it with this pos computer. But after having plodded my way through this whole thread I dont know that I want to. It can only be more painful to listen to this kind of tripe than it is to read it. What a waste of my time.

    • Monocle Smile says

      If you watch the episode as well as the call from Bobby about a year ago, it’s not so obvious that he’s trolling. I just think he has problems…although I don’t know how many are expressly his fault.

    • jacobfromlost says

      If so, he’s been doing this for a while and is very dedicated.

      He’s got a youtube page, a facebook page, a twitter page, and others.
      http://www.youtube.com/user/subzerobob
      https://www.facebook.com/subzerobob
      https://twitter.com/subzerobob

      I’ve browsed through them here and there and it seems consistent with what he has said here. He’s got some very short clips of the Atheist experience (by very short, I mean around 10 seconds, lol) where he tries to quote mine, but rather ineptly. For example, he took a clip of Russell admitting that the concept of god exists (as if that’s a big deal).

      The concept “horse” exists also, but you can’t ride it, pet it, feed it hay, or have it pull a wagon. The concept horse is not a horse, just as the concept of a god is not a god.

      Subzerobob just seems to be one of those guys who runs through life screaming crazy. *shrug*

      • subzerobob says

        attn: blog moderator
        I don’t appreciate this call to action!
        Please kindly take it down and delete it. This user is OK with deletion of this post, as he further posted down the thread.

          • jacobfromlost says

            I’m sure after everyone reads the craziness spewed here, all his other pages will receive a stampede of atheists wanting to read more. (Believe me, after I did browse the few, I wish I hadn’t. Not much there, but what is there is the same flavor of insane tasted here.)

          • subzerobob says

            at this point I just want out… I realize I’ve made a mistake doing this… I don’t care if I get blocked just want this and the above call to action stuff deleted. I know if Martin Wagner reads this he will help me out. And I am pretty sure I am not going to come back… if not for a very long time (like before) then maybe never. You guys certainly have too much time on your hands to discuss nothing.

          • Narf says

            You’re welcome to leave and never come back, if that’s what you want. Believe me, no one here is going to beg you to come back.

          • Monocle Smile says

            Yes, I would agree that starting out arrogantly misinformed and wrong about everything and devolving into racist and delusional is indeed a mistake.

          • jacobfromlost says

            “And I am pretty sure I am not going to come back… if not for a very long time (like before) then maybe never. You guys certainly have too much time on your hands to discuss nothing.”

            You’re like the drunk dude who crashes the party, knocks the food on the floor, insults all the guests, and then threatens to leave AND NEVER COME BACK when people point out his obnoxious behavior.

            You might never come back? Let me find the fainting sofa. (eyes rolling)

            What might it be like after you never come back? Oh yeah. Exactly the same as it was before you were here. Oh, the horror!

  17. subzerobob says

    re: heicart

    “Because historically, organisms not concerned with survival would be “less fit.” That is, if you don’t take action to preserve your existence, you won’t exist for very long. You won’t breed. And those individuals who do care about surviving will breed more, and you will end up with a planet full of animals evolved to ensure their own survival to the best of their ability. It’s not mysterious. It’s actually quite simplistic.”

    It doesn’t explain why would you have life that would adapt or do whatever it takes to preserve existence. How do you explain that drive to preserve existence? Why come into existence in the first place?

    >Doesn’t that point to the intrinsic purpose of life to stay alive?
    No. It points to someone who hasn’t really thought even a little bit about evolution.

    Yes, I do know how evolution through natural selection can lead to the preservation of life forms that have the drive to stay alive. But that doesn’t explain the drive to stay alive at all… Unless of course it is intrinsic and necessary outcome of the deterministic laws of physics. Which brings the question – why are the laws of physics determined that way? I still hear crickets…

    “.—rather than making both of us wrong, but in agreement?
    At this point I would love for us to be in agreement and continue to peacefully co-exist, but I fear that you have made it impossible…

    “No matter how many people think you have a good idea, until and unless you find some way to verify it, nobody can assign it a truth value. Nobody will have any justified reason to call it “true”—which means nobody should believe it.”

    Eventhough I like what you said here, and I think it is the saddest truth and perhaps the reason why we have so little progress, because it is hard to recruit people to help you if they only want to help knowing that something is definitely true. It speaks more about people afraid of being wrong more than willing to admit that they were wrong after they discover that they were wrong. It almost speaks of an unexpressed certainty that you are wrong to begin with, which is believing in itself, but very well masked, and worth exposing! Because it is truly hypocritical. On why side you say – you shouldn’t believe anything if you don’t know that it is true, and on the other side you already believe that what I am proposing is wrong.

    >in regards to the amazon piraha, thanks for comparing us to the not progressed living like animals
    Uh, WOW. You ethnocentric bigot. And that is all.
    I don’t get the ethnocentric here. It is a purely objective statement. I look at animals and I look at pictures of the Piraha and I determined that the conditions that they leave in is extremely similar. Hence – they live like animals do.
    Not to mention that the only difference is that right below the line where it talks about that the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god,
    just a line down: “However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment.”
    I wonder how the conversation went…
    And it still proves my point that human beings have embedded in their physiology the spirit element. And still no explanation from your camp as to why, and I don’t mean “a dream to help them get by” kind of thing. Why does this occur in the physiology? As if it is a necessary prerequisite on becoming a sentient (or spiritual) being? I hear crickets.

    >Mothers as Slaves argument.
    Yes, when you force Person-A to donate a body to helping Person-B survive, and you strip them of their ability to consent to that transaction, that’s slavery.

    Ok, fine – don’t force! Just hold classes for mothers who want to abort, explain to then the magnitude of their decision and ask them to donate to intrinsic circle of life.

    Maybe we can agree here somehow, I hope…

    And finally this cherry on top:

    >I would love to tune in to your broadcast and listen to crickets. I find it peaceful and soul soothing, unlike the vomiting rhetoric that you all have so well trained yourselves into spitting at people.

    Just to add that you seem extremely drawn to this “vomiting rhetoric.”

    The vomiting rhetoric was brought up by somebody else here as means to attack me. Press “ctrl” and “F” together than type “vomiting rhetoric” and you will see that it was Monocle Smile
    January 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm (UTC -6) who first brought this up as means to attack/insult me. I am just spitting it right back where it came from – the atheist camp. Control your hounds! That’s all I am saying!

    • subzerobob says

      re: I wonder how the conversation went…
      I would bet that Everett had an ethnocentric approach on pushing his religious worldview onto them, and it backfired by them saying – But how can Jesus be the god? When the spirits take on the shape of things in the environment.” It is more like a clash of beliefs and their unwillingness to accept his ‘ethnocentric’ approach – meaning my culture is better than yours and that’s why you should believe in my god not these primitive spirits talk.

      • jacobfromlost says

        You can actually read his book. That’s not how it went down, lol. If your point were valid, why wouldn’t Everett go away believing in EITHER A) the tribe’s flavor of animism or B) continue believing in Jesus? Under your theory, there was no reason for him to walk away believing in neither one (in fact, under your weird underlying assumption, it shouldn’t be possible for him to bump against a very minor challenge to his belief and then suddenly drop a lifetime of Jesus belief without picking up the tribe’s alternative belief system).

        • subzerobob says

          the initial point was about the physiology of belief and how do you explain that it must exist in everybody, and also as to elude to the mind independence of the concept of god

          • jacobfromlost says

            The ability to abstract, make myth, project agency, etc, ARE all intrinsic in who we are biologically and evolutionarily.

            “and also as to elude to the mind independence of the concept of god”

            It’s not independent. It’s dependent ON US. Good grief. (What makes you think a concept is independent of minds? Also, why do you think concepts AS CONCEPTS can ever be independent of a mind?)

          • subzerobob says

            re: What makes you think a concept is independent of minds? Also, why do you think concepts AS CONCEPTS can ever be independent of a mind?)

            the absence of a mind does nothing to the validity of the truth about math and logic. is kinda pretty much the definition of mind independent concept

          • jacobfromlost says

            Why do you think a “god concept” falls into this category along with math, the logical absolutes, etc? Depending on what you mean by “concept”, two rocks are still two rocks whether two people are there to think about them being two rocks or not. But the existence of the two rocks is not the “concept of two rocks”. The concept is what is in your head–the model of the two rocks. If no one is there observing the two rocks, remembering the two rocks, imagining the two rocks, etc, there is no concept of them (the fact that they exist –or don’t–isn’t a concept).

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Last time I checked, math cannot kick me in the knee, or have any material causal power. The working definition of a god is at least something with as much material causal power as me. If your god cannot even kick me in the knee, then it is no god, and you’re using the wrong word.

    • jacobfromlost says

      subzero: It doesn’t explain why would you have life that would adapt or do whatever it takes to preserve existence. How do you explain that drive to preserve existence? Why come into existence in the first place?

      Me: Why do you keep asking “why”? Evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive. Living things are a part of their environments, not separate from them. Tracie already explained the descriptive nature of the drive to survive: when you have a variety of traits in offspring, some will behave in ways that are slightly more advantageous to survival, and some will not. Put that random variation out there (that happens in any self-replicating system), and the ones that behave in ways slightly more advantageous to survival survive and reproduce, and the others do not. Over billions of years, you can see how that engine piles on selection FOR survival characteristics, and selects against the others. That is technically a “how” question, but it is the only answer to “why” there can be.

      There is no end to “why”. You can claim things are the way they are because of god, the great pumpkin, the Great Maker, etc, and that doesn’t stop us from asking “why?”, and it doesn’t explain “how” at all. So what’s your point?

      Subzero: Doesn’t that point to the intrinsic purpose of life to stay alive?

      Me: It’s not any more intrinsic than saying the purpose of life is the death of those who thought it was a really swell idea to go wrestle some lions for a little excitement.

      Subzero: Yes, I do know how evolution through natural selection can lead to the preservation of life forms that have the drive to stay alive. But that doesn’t explain the drive to stay alive at all…

      Me: It does. It describes WHAT IT IS.

      Subzero: Unless of course it is intrinsic and necessary outcome of the deterministic laws of physics. Which brings the question – why are the laws of physics determined that way? I still hear crickets…

      Me: There is no why. Why do you keep begging the question? You assume your conclusion in your question, and never consider that your conclusion is just wrong.

      Subzero: At this point I would love for us to be in agreement and continue to peacefully co-exist, but I fear that you have made it impossible…

      Me: (facepalm) I don’t think Tracie will be storming your house with a (atheist) A-Team. Try to tone down your hyperbolic rhetoric.

      Subzero: Not to mention that the only difference is that right below the line where it talks about that the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god, just a line down: “However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment.”

      Me: And many atheists believe in ghosts, or bigfoot, or whatever. So what? All humans have the ability to model things in their mind THAT DO NOT EXIST. So what? What point do you think that makes?

      Subzero: And it still proves my point that human beings have embedded in their physiology the spirit element.

      Me: The ability to think, feel, and use abstractions in many various narrative forms are inherent in humanity. So what?

      Subzero: And still no explanation from your camp as to why, and I don’t mean “a dream to help them get by” kind of thing. Why does this occur in the physiology? As if it is a necessary prerequisite on becoming a sentient (or spiritual) being? I hear crickets.

      Me: All you need to do is some minor research into neurology. Here’s a jumping off point:
      watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg

      Subzero: Yes, when you force Person-A to donate a body to helping Person-B survive, and you strip them of their ability to consent to that transaction, that’s slavery. Ok, fine – don’t force! Just hold classes for mothers who want to abort, explain to then the magnitude of their decision and ask them to donate to intrinsic circle of life.

      Me: We should rather give a class in individual rights over our own bodies and make it clear that it is their decision and only their decision.

      Subzero: Maybe we can agree here somehow, I hope…

      Me: In browsing your other posts elsewhere, it seems you don’t know the difference between a concept and a reality. Do you really see no difference between “the concept of a god” and an actual god? (Or the concept “horse”, and an actual horse?)

      watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ skip to 35:00 for the apropo section. Then watch the whole thing.

      • subzerobob says

        I am tired. you tire me. this wasn’t even directed towards you and yet you took it upon yourself to answer everything that wasn’t even thought through by you in the first place. I don’t care what you have to say,.. just so you can smack the crap last paragraph at the end? you went to research me all across the internet and posted it here as to direct people to come and bully me everywhere else I go? thank you! A Very noble tactic! And what was your intent here, that somehow I will give in, that the more people you send my why, maybe somebody will finally convince me to either convert to atheism or kill myself? to what I intuitively can tell is absolutely wrong!?

        How about we make it easy somehow… I stop posting here and you take down the road map to bullying? And I will never come back to TAE ever again, Deal?

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Telling you that you are wrong is not bullying. Telling you that your ideas are stupid is not bullying. It’s time to grow up and join the adult world. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and when you barge into their “home” and start saying shit, you should not be surprised when the “homeowners” call you out on your shit and explain how you are wrong.

        • Monocle Smile says

          Bobby, it’s not often we get theists on this forum as misinformed, delusional, and outright stupid as you appear to be. Typically, people who post the crap you post are deliberate trolls or Poes making fun of fundamentalists. jacobfromlost was merely attempting to see if you were actually a troll, not to find you elsewhere to “bully” you there as well. Tell me, do you know ANYTHING?

          maybe somebody will finally convince me to either convert to atheism or kill myself? to what I intuitively can tell is absolutely wrong!?

          *facepalm* You still don’t get it. And you’ll probably never get it. We’ve explained both our purposes and everything wrong with all of your garbage AT LEAST twice over, and you don’t seem to comprehend any of it.

          • Narf says

            Hell, even Steele can construct more coherent arguments, before he resorts to spraying Bible verses.

        • jacobfromlost says

          “I am tired. you tire me.”

          I’m actually energized by you. lol I wonder who will win out in natural selection?

          “this wasn’t even directed towards you and yet you took it upon yourself to answer everything that wasn’t even thought through by you in the first place.”

          I notice you didn’t answer any of my questions. I hear those crickets you are so fond of.

          “I don’t care what you have to say,.. just so you can smack the crap last paragraph at the end? you went to research me all across the internet and posted it here as to direct people to come and bully me everywhere else I go? thank you!”

          Bully you? As far as I can tell, you haven’t used any of those accounts in a year, lol. Maybe twitter. But your handle here is the same as your handle there. You are the one posting your belligerent remarks using your ubiquitous handle. It’s not my fault you don’t have the courage of your convictions.

          ” A Very noble tactic! And what was your intent here, that somehow I will give in, that the more people you send my why, maybe somebody will finally convince me to either convert to atheism or kill myself? to what I intuitively can tell is absolutely wrong!?”

          Are you off your meds? I was only pointing out that your erratic positions and behavior here is the same in other places, so that it is unlikely you are a troll. Also, you DEconvert to atheism. DEconvert. And killing yourself isn’t the only other option. You could convert to Mormonism. That’s the third option. lol

          “How about we make it easy somehow… I stop posting here and you take down the road map to bullying? And I will never come back to TAE ever again, Deal?”

          I’m just a commenter here like you. If the moderators think I was giving people a “road map” to bullying by googling your handle, they can delete my post for all I care. But now you have the problem of deleting this post also, which points out the obvious–GOOGLING YOUR HANDLE GIVES PEOPLE ALL OF YOUR ACCOUNTS AROUND THE NET, doofus. If you don’t want people engaging you, why are you engaging people with a torrent of dithering posts that have your easily-traceable handle?

          Also, why do people keep thinking I am somehow an AE celebrity? I’m just a freakin’ random commenter… You know, like you.

          • subzerobob says

            my issue was with your call to action!
            go here, and here and there! If people want to google, so be it! But let them do it on their own.
            I didn’t appreciate your call to action! That’s all…

          • jacobfromlost says

            My call to action was so we could collectively verify that you are actually crazy and not an atheist troll. I have confirmed your craziness for myself, but as for others, I know not what course they may take. lol

          • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

            Um, what “action” was actually called for?

            This whole thread is weird…

          • jacobfromlost says

            I think I said somewhere that others should google his handle to see if he was for real or not, but not in the post he replied to.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      It doesn’t explain why would you have life that would adapt or do whatever it takes to preserve existence. How do you explain that drive to preserve existence? Why come into existence in the first place?

      Evolution by natural selection.

      But that doesn’t explain the drive to stay alive at all…

      Yes it does. The first replicator replicated. Those mutations which did not replicate did not replicate. Later, when brains and intentions came about, those replicators which did not have the intention to reproduce did not reproduce. This differential replication means that by-and-large we only find replicators which intend to replicate.

      you shouldn’t believe anything if you don’t know that it is true, and on the other side you already believe that what I am proposing is wrong.

      There’s a third option besides true and false. The third option is that your positions are unjustified, and thus we should not accept it to be true and we should not accept it to be false. We should withhold judgment.

      Except for all of your positions which are demonstrably wrong, of course.

      Why does this occur in the physiology? As if it is a necessary prerequisite on becoming a sentient (or spiritual) being? I hear crickets.

      What does this have to do with it being true? We used to believe the Earth was flat. The explanation for that is somewhat long and involved. Suffice to say the universal agreement that the Earth was flat many thousands of years ago does not today constitute compelling evidence that the Earth is flat.

      I can say “I don’t know” to your question. So what? The onus is on you to demonstrate that these things exist because you are the one saying they exist. The onus is not on me. See:
      http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    • Monocle Smile says

      I look at animals and I look at pictures of the Piraha and I determined that the conditions that they leave in is extremely similar. Hence – they live like animals do.
      Not to mention that the only difference is that right below the line where it talks about that the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god,

      I’m starting to think you’re actually a sociopath. This is KKK-level shit right here.

      • subzerobob says

        how do you get from what I said that I am capable of violent acts without guilt feelings? unless you – yourself experience something like that when you read what I wrote? Either way, I don’t know what you mean, or even talking about, and perhaps you know what you mean since it seems like you know the KKK so well. We don’t have them here and I’ve never met one in my life and I wouldn’t know anything about it, but it seems like you do

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          You compared a foreign population of humans to “mere [inhuman] animals” or some such. The exact phrasing and tone makes it some scary shit.

          • subzerobob says

            scary shit? looking at how animals live and looking at how piraha live and finding striking similarities is scary shit to you?

        • Sadako says

          Because you’re counting an entire culture as inhuman–you’re saying that their ways are ‘animalistic’. You have dehumanized them, called them inferior, destined for extinction, took umbrage with being compared to them because you think they are inhuman. That is an awful lack of empathy for fellow humans, and blatant ethnocentrism. I think you know you made a mistake, but you’re afraid to admit any wrongdoing, so you’re willing to stand by a horribly racist remark.

          • Sadako says

            Whether or not a culture/language is about to die out is not directly correlated to the number of speakers. For example, Piraha (and many other remote tribal languages) is only spoken by about 450 people, but that is their primary method of communication, and 100% of the children are raised in that language and culture, which means that it is healthy. By contrast, some languages like the native Okinawan languages are spoken by nearly 1,000,000 people, but none of them are children. Thus, even though there is a large population of native speakers of the Okinawan languages, there are no new speakers, and the language is considered endangered.

            But I must point out, you’re fixating on exactly the wrong part of my explanation. The point is, you spoke about them as if they were worthless animals who are inferior because they don’t think the way you do.

          • Deesse23 says

            Indeed, one of the steps that lead to the holocaust was to compare humans with animals, in this particular case Jews with bugs or the plague (ok, even less than an animal, a disease).

            Its one step further down the road from hate, across discrimination, outlawing, dehumanizing and finally…exterminating. Please dont forget that, as soon as you compare another human with an anmal, its just a small step to kill them (if you dont like tham), because we kill animals all the time, dont we?? They are just like animals anyhow, arent they (your words!).

            Addendum: WE also live like animals. We socialise, we fight for leadership in our clans, we support each other IN the clan, we care for our siblings, we mate, hunt for other animals, etc.. We ARE part of the world of animals on this planet.

            So what exactly are you trying to say by “..looking at how animals live and looking at how piraha live and finding striking similarities… “?

            Without further explanation i have to assume -like the others here- that these people seem to be of lower value to you than “civilized” ones.

          • subzerobob says

            No. If you read that in my words then you are seeing things! Or even worse – you are thinking these things yourself thus accidentally exposing who You really are.
            My point is that religious systems can evolve with the progress in society. But also – the spirituality factor is present in all human beings, it is almost like a requirement for sentience. And my explanation about why that happens, including in our physiology, is the best most simple explanation that doesn’t shut doors but allows for motivation for further research.

          • Sadako says

            Spirituality is a REQUIREMENT for sentience? So you’re saying that people who aren’t spiritual–including this entire culture we are discussing–may not be SENTIENT? That’s even worse than just saying ‘they’re like animals’, because people can empathize with an animal’s suffering! (Nice try with the ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ comeback, though–too bad it means you’ve lost the argument.)

            There’s been research into the origin of god beliefs and ‘spirituality’, and they tend to relate to that feeling that something is sneaking up behind you when you’re sitting at the computer late at night in a dark room, even though you know nothing is there–that feeling that makes you walk quicker to your front door at night, or shut your bedroom door extra hard, even though you live alone–that feeling that makes kids run out of the haunted houses they’re supposed to spend the night in when they’re legend tripping. That creepy ‘I’m being watched’ feeling helped us evade predators. When there aren’t predators to evade, though, the feeling remains. I jokingly attribute that sensation to Slenderman, but other people think it’s ghosts, or demons, or Baby Jesus watching you disapprovingly. For the Piraha, though, there ARE still predators. They don’t have to extrapolate that feeling that something is watching them onto the critical gaze of an all-seeing, judgmental deity–that feeling is there because there is a real-life jaguar which is going to try to kill them.

            Your position that their lack of belief in gods means they are uncivilized/live like animals/may not qualify as sentient by your sloppy definition is just further evidence of your ethnocentrism.

          • deesse23 says

            Ok, so if i see things, please elaborate and correct my interpretation of your statement(s). Please dig deeper, you seem to be very good at digging yourself a hole.

            Talking about *seeing things*:
            Do you have the ability to read my mind? As i havent written down what i think about those people (unlike you, who thought you HAD to!), how do you conclude that i am *thinking these things myself*?

            So please keep on explaining YOUR position.

            Regarding MY position: Put up or shut up.

          • subzerobob says

            re: deesse23
            please elaborate and correct my interpretation of your statement(s).

            I’ve done it as a response to “Monocle Smile” just a few posts down below. You can find it by looking for the Michael Shermer video.

            re: “Do you have the ability to read my mind? As i havent written down what i think about those people”
            No I don’t have the ability to read your mind, but you have written down what you think about these people and I quote You! Not me: “They are just like animals anyhow, arent they (your words!)”

            Nope that’s not my words. My words were: “living like animals” NOT “They are just like animals!”… everything else, how you piled it on as far as killing and hate and what not, had never even crossed my mind. But it crossed yours, so hence the mind reading thing?!

            Anyway, my point was that the belief in god and progress goes hand in hand with the evolution of humans. That’s it! Nothing more! Nothing about inferior humans, nothing about not being human, nothing racist. If anything – we as humans, it was part of us to live like animals in the very beginning, and even in those humble beginnings it proves that we had some type of spiritual belief system. The question I am asking is – why does this pattern have to evolve and become the ground for success? And isn’t it an intrinsic part of the evolution of life? For natural selection to promote the existence of beings with Type I error embedded all the way into their psychology?

          • deesse23 says

            “Nope that’s not my words. My words were: “living like animals” NOT “They are just like animals!”
            I apologize for misunderstanding you then. What is the difference to you – if i may ask- between “living like an animal” and “living like a human”?

            ” But it crossed yours, so hence the mind reading thing?!”
            Which part of “put up or shut up” do you want explained?

            “Anyway, my point was that the belief in god and progress goes hand in hand with the evolution of humans.”
            Got anything to support that totally unbased claim? Even IF there was a correlation (which isnt), that wouldnt be equal to a causation. Can you be more precise please? The MORE people believe in gods, the more progress? Or the HARDER we believe, the more progress. Or the more “fundie” we believe, the more progress? Or “the more correct the god” (insert your favourit deity here), the more progress?
            I say the number of mobile phones and progress go hand in hand with the evolution of humans! …or was it TVs, or radios? Dunno

            “The question I am asking is – why does this pattern have to evolve and become the ground for success? And isn’t it an intrinsic part of the evolution of life?”
            1) There is no proof that the spiritual belief system is proof for the success of the human species. The proof of the success of the human species is the power of our brains, and self awareness, combined with such physical attributes as hands with a THUMB. The ability to THINK, to reflect, to make and use tools (thumb, see above), to gather experience and had it down by WRITING (starting with some blurry shapes of hands in caves) rather than by just handing down your DNA (very time consuming compared to writing down a book for example.), all of this and more, but for sure not the drive to look for “something bigger than myself” in a fire, lightning, the sky or wherever something is that i cant -yet- understand.

            I dare to state, that without such belief systems, we would have been even more successful. Sadly there is no point to argue further on this “what IF”, at least not without a rather big effort.

            And even if i -for the sake of the argument- grant you that believing in gods/spiritual believe system WAS the reason for success, this doesnt proof at all that any of that belief is and was “for real*. The fact that you MAY ask a valid question does in no way indicate that your answer is correct. A question never can give a hint for the correct(!) answer, only rhetorical questions do.

            2) nope, humans are the only evolving species that has “spirituality”. All other species on this planet that ever existed, werent spiritual and didnt believe in any god(s), as fas as i know. So there was a LOT of evolution withOUT spirituality.

          • deesse23 says

            Are you serious?

            You just turned my question into a statement, without further explanations than a “gorilla and a stethoscope”?
            The fact that you can tickle a gorilla makes him “LIVE like a human”? So the Piraha can NOT be tickled by a stethoscope like a gorilla or what? Do you value them less than a gorilla?

            REALLY????

  18. subzerobob says

    re: jacobfromlost
    “key word – Potential. You don’t know the potential, and that is why you shouldn’t abort”

    You don’t know the potential of ANY action. Maybe killing your neighbor will stop him from murdering the next Einstein. Should we then kill all our neighbors?

    that’s silly and cannot compare both. Your example is clearly wrong because it once again goes with killing. If you said – I suspect my neighbor is a killer, we can keep an eye on him and stop him during the act of doing it. When it comes to the potential of the fetus, IF you come up with a better solution for arriving at an exact method of “the smoking gun” in form of computing the potential before aborting, feel free to share.

    • jacobfromlost says

      “that’s silly and cannot compare both. Your example is clearly wrong because it once again goes with killing. If you said – I suspect my neighbor is a killer, we can keep an eye on him and stop him during the act of doing it. When it comes to the potential of the fetus, IF you come up with a better solution for arriving at an exact method of “the smoking gun” in form of computing the potential before aborting, feel free to share.”

      If you think that analogy is not apt, try this one.

      Let’s say that Einstein’s ideas eventually, in concert with other scientists, lead to some kind of weapon of mass destruction. Let’s say these weapons can release a huge amount of energy in a way never seen before. Let’s say that these weapons proliferate around the world. Maybe the US has them, and Russia, and Israel, and Pakistan, and India. Maybe even some unstable countries like Iran and North Korea have them, or soon will.

      Now let’s imagine some future scenario in which these weapons are used, and ultimately end up killing off a huge fraction of, or all of, humanity.

      So what was Einstein’s potential then? Good or bad? Show your work in your answer.

      • subzerobob says

        this is not a problem about einstein’s potential or contribution, but the problem of wrong doing and evil exploitation of this knowledge by nations and their strife for political domination, which is the core problem of your example. And we have dealt with it in the past and we are still dealing with it today. doing the right thing like disarming…

        • jacobfromlost says

          So Einstein’s evil potential and good potential even each other out? Almost like he didn’t exist at all? Is that what you are saying?

          Because both potentials are still playing out in the world, and since you claimed Einstein was the only one who could have discovered the general theory of relativity, then all the the potentials that stem from that discovery fall directly on the fact that he exists, correct?

          It seems I have successfully neutered your point. The good and bad potentials of Einstein’s existence cancel each other out.

          Want to try another anti-abortion argument?

          • subzerobob says

            i thought i already told you where the blame goes…anyways I don’t expect much thought from you regardless

            Also, very strange how you don’t think that Einstein’s discovery might just be the only thing that will ensure the continuity of our species. That there are positive things that can come from nuclear explosions such as the Orion Project and propulsion through nuclear explosions. This option is currently our only means to effectively evacuate Earth and to take on interstellar travel. This time I brought visual aids – you know like in children’s books, for the developing minds. watch and learn:

          • subzerobob says

            on the above video – go to 19 minutes and 10 secs., that’s where Project Orion gets mentioned.

          • Narf says

            This time I brought visual aids – you know like in children’s books, for the developing minds. watch and learn:

            That’s rich, coming from you. I’ll take your commentary a little more seriously after you manage to string together a coherent argument.

            At this point, I’m not even holding out for a valid and sound argument. I think simple coherency is a bit beyond you.

          • corwyn says

            Do the math on evacuating the Earth, you will find that it is impossible.

            Some of us might be able to migrate, but it would be at the cost of dooming the remaining population, which would be at least 7 Billion (aka murdering the entire current population of the planet). More especially if we try to INCREASE the population growth as you recommend.

            Some questions you should ask yourself 1) How many people can you evacuate with your scheme per day? 2) How much energy does that require? 3) How do those things compare to our current daily population increase, and our current energy production levels? 4) How many people is it moral to murder to allow some few to escape this planet?

          • jacobfromlost says

            1) I thought you were leaving. Now you are back?

            2) To quote YOU: “key word – Potential. You don’t know the potential”

            3) To quote me: “You don’t know the potential of ANY action.”

            4) To tie it all together, the good potentials and bad potentials for what Einstein discovered cancel each other out. It’s possible the discovery (that you claim only Einstein could have discovered) could end up killing all of humanity; or it could save humanity in the short run, and kill us in the long run; or it could save us in the short run and not kill us in the long run.

            In any case, the potentials AS potentials have nothing to do with whether Einstein was aborted or not. If it is true that only Einstein could have discovered relativity, then aborting him would leave us in exactly the same place we are in now–except that we wouldn’t have the potential of killing off all of humanity, at any point, with nuclear weapons as you claimed only Einstein could have discovered relativity.

            And thus you have made an air-tight case for aborting Einstein, as that would have locked out the potential of a nuclear holocaust at ANY time.

            Great going there, subzerobob. Nice job.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Just ugg. This conversation is going nowhere. subzerobob doesn’t have a consistent enough morality to even address.

      • subzerobob says

        no i am being asked ridiculous questions from each and every side, I don’t even know where to begin…
        I think with this strategy (which is exactly how bullying happens in high school) you have achieved to defame my character by calling me racist, pro slavery, crazy, illiterate, and what have you… this is not a conversation, this feels like bunch of assholes gathered around to watch the burning of a witch

        • Narf says

          We’re trying to get you to clarify your position and construct an actual argument … which I’m not sure you’re capable of doing. As happened with the call you made, when the hosts kept asking you why, and you had nothing, it demonstrates that you haven’t thought through most of your positions.

          Most of the later pejoratives about racism and slavery perhaps have come because of your poor use of the English language. The things you’ve said about using women’s bodies and about that one Amazonian tribe have some really vile connotations, if you think through them very much at all.

          I think that sort of thing is a lot of your problem. You’re not a very deep thinker. You only skim through the surface of most subjects, without analyzing all of the implications of what you think and what you say. You decide what you believe based upon what sounds good to you, without asking yourself if you have any good reason to believe those things.

          • Sadako says

            I think you hit the nail on the head. He doesn’t think things through…and he doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone and stop trying to defend a misspoken statement. It’s like he’s afraid that if he gives an inch, we’ll take a mile…except the position he’s defending is one he doesn’t even want to be in, and we’re telling him to stop defending it.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          The racist thing might be an exaggeration. Not sure about that yet. What you have said is very easy to take it the wrong way, and you should definitely check yourself there.

          The slavery thing is a different thing. It’s the truth. You think that we should conscript women’s bodies for the betterment of society. We should take their body and the fruits of that body for the benefit of a specific second individual. That’s slavery. You’ve dug your own hole there.

          You’re probably not crazy. Then again, you said that cells can have intent… so we’re getting pretty close. If you think your frame of mind has much of anything to do with whether a lethal dose of poison will kill you, then you are crazy.

          You’re obviously not illiterate.

          I at least am not defaming your character. I’m saying that your particular beliefs regarding women is basically pro-slavery, not that you as a total are pro slavery.

          What you are is a very confused person who has been indoctrinated into falsehoods and bad methods of thinking. What you are is a victim of religion. Our major gripe is that the way you think has been so poisoned that you think it’s ok to have a belief in a god without evidence. If you were the only person who thought that – you would be crazy. However, it is true that what is crazy for one person to believe is not crazy when millions believe it. When millions believe crazy things, they’re just religious or spiritual.

          • Monocle Smile says

            Bobby implied…no, he actually said…that the Piraha people aren’t human:

            “in regards to the amazon piraha, thanks for comparing us to the not progressed living like animals most certainly on the road to extinction kind. ”

            He also implied that they aren’t human because they lack god beliefs. This is Pocahontas levels of racism here.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I don’t think he’s thought it through clearly enough to attribute an actual belief that they are subhuman. That’s all I was trying to say. Meh.

          • subzerobob says

            Re: Monocle Smile
            “Bobby implied…no, he actually said…that the Piraha people aren’t human.
            “in regards to the amazon piraha, thanks for comparing us to the not progressed living like animals most certainly on the road to extinction kind. ”
            He also implied that they aren’t human because they lack god beliefs. This is Pocahontas levels of racism here.

            Actually my point was that the belief in god can evolve with progress. That’s all I was saying. Nothing about inferior humans, nothing about not being human, nothing racist. Just further back to the begging of the evolution of our belief systems because it is as close to our evolutionary origins of living in the wild just like animals continue to do (but I believe that even animals have a certain very small degree of sentience. I think every living thing has some sort of sentience expressed in the drive to stay alive) The Piraha people believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment.. This is also how (according to Michael Shermer – watch his video below, the belief in god originates from). I personally believe that the patterns of this world are intrinsic and the evolution of this belief is not a coincidence. That natural selection is intended to select beings that make type I errors. Shermer explains the patterns, but doesn’t explain why patterns are there in the first place. Why is does it have to come to the development of this belief in our psychology that is ultimately connected to this drive of life, to come to life and stay alive. Why must that occur at all if not for the intrinsic purpose to come to life and stay alive that is god in our life? And hence my panentheistic view of that god is in everything and everything is in god.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Why is does it have to come to the development of this belief in our psychology that is ultimately connected to this drive of life, to come to life and stay alive. Why must that occur at all if not for the intrinsic purpose to come to life and stay alive that is god in our life? And hence my panentheistic view of that god is in everything and everything is in god.

            How has that come to be? Evolution by natural selection, which is an unguided process. No gods. No designer. Take some science classes. Read a book.

          • subzerobob says

            re: Enlightenment Liberal
            “Evolution by natural selection, which is an unguided process.”

            “…which is an UNGUIDED process” I am so glad that you are finally starting to make unprovable claims! Yes, you just believe in unguided processes and that’s all the difference between you and me! I say that the laws of physics are deterministic and everything in the universe is guided by intent. Look for example these robots that “learn” how to walk – this is physical proof that the laws of physics are deterministic!

            You say that everything happens by accident. Well if life keeps happening all over the universe, and not just life, but through evolutionary processes and natural selection – intelligent life keeps happening, then how many accidents would it take for you to say that there is something wrong with this “no intrinsic purpose” picture? And if intelligent life keeps on happening then don’t you ever wonder – what is the next direction of this “on becoming” god like? For me this shows that god is within every living thing, and with every new version all the possibilities are getting closer and closer to full realization, to an ultimate being that perhaps can live forever, has access to all knowledge and perhaps even has the power to create and destroy worlds. I actually think that with time and technology, this could actually happen!

            This is the core of the differences between our belief systems. Unguided vs guided processes!

            http://www.ted.com/talks/hod_lipson_builds_self_aware_robots.html

          • Narf says

            “…which is an UNGUIDED process” I am so glad that you are finally starting to make unprovable claims!

            Dude, the theory of evolution is a model created by humans which does not include a guiding intelligence and does not require a guiding intelligence to operate. When the model does not require something to function, sticking in something useless, like a god, is an exercise in wish-thinking and is stupid.

            Thus, the process itself is unguided, since we can ignore things outside of the model. The proposition of a god is completely outside of the model and should not be combined with the model itself. You have to deal with separate claims separately. How is this so hard for even you to understand?

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            “…which is an UNGUIDED process” I am so glad that you are finally starting to make unprovable claims! Yes, you just believe in unguided processes and that’s all the difference between you and me! I say that the laws of physics are deterministic and everything in the universe is guided by intent.

            We’re speaking different languages. What could it possibly mean if everything in the universe is guided by intent? Are you saying that some gods exist, and that everything in the universe happens as a consequence of its power and will and intent?

            This reminds me of the infamous Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incoherence_of_the_Philosophers
            Your argument is almost indistinguishable from his, and it can be argued that Al-Ghazali had enough influence that his anti-science argument caused the whole of the Muslim world to abandon science and stagnate intellectually for a thousand years.

            Let’s look at some of Al-Ghazali’s argument:

            …our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God.

            What is Al-Ghazali saying here? It’s a little dense if you’re not used to reading stuff like this. Let me break it down for you.

            First, he correctly describes my position. I, as a philosopher (scientist in today’s words), see that fire burns cotton. It’s a chemical reaction. There is no will or mind in the fire. The fire burns because that’s the nature of fire. It has no choice in the matter, and I can be confident that fire will burn cotton tomorrow.

            What is Al-Ghazali’s position? He argues – seemingly as you are – that it is a mistake to say that the fire burns because it’s its nature. It’s a mistake to say that there is causation here. The fire does not burn “because of” the laws of physics. The fire burns because god wills it to burn. Thus, there are no accidents in this world. There are also no causes either except for god.

            When I look at fire burning cotton, I see a chemical reaction. I see mindless forces of nature carrying on according to their laws. I see no will. I see no intent. I see no god. I see no purpose. I see the physical nature of our universe playing out. (It’s an entirely separate question of whether it’s deterministic or partially random. I don’t know.) Al-Ghazali didn’t see that. He saw the will of god every time fire burned cotton. The fire burns cotton only because god wills it.

            When I look at evolution by natural selection – for which there is an amazingly overwhelming amount of evidence and thus I can “prove” it – I see population mechanics. I see molecular genetics. I see chemistry. I see mindless forces of nature carrying on according to their laws. I see no will. I see no intent. I see no god. I see no purpose. I see the physical nature of our universe playing out. You – to the contrary – I think you’re arguing that you see god whenever you see the laws of physics playing out.

            About a thousand years ago, the Muslim world was the center of the intellectual world. While Charlemagne was barely able to write his own name, the Muslim arabs were doing algebra, astronomy, and many other good works. Your anti-intellectual and anti-science thinking destroyed all of that. People like Al-Ghazali infected the culture with your horrible ideas, and look what happened. The Muslim world still hasn’t recovered intellectually.

            Look also what happened in the Christian world. There was a period of about a thousand years called the European “dark ages”. Arguably, it was also caused by religious thinkers – Christians this time – who argued exactly as you are doing now. It caused the stagnation of all of European culture for a thousand years. We only escaped a few hundred years ago thanks to the reactionary thinkers and philosophers of the European Enlightenment who overthrow your world view.

            Your kind of thinking would take us thousands of years into the past. Do you really want to go there? Do you really want to go back where people didn’t have medicine, where life expectancy was 25 or 30, where people didn’t know about germs and disease and didn’t know why they died, where people were regularly starving, no amenities, where life was shit? Do you?

            What do you think got us out of that? It sure as hell wasn’t religion. It was the application of the intellect. It was science. It was a recognization of the value of human beings, and us working together, using our intellect, to discover better ways to form live together in peace and harmony.

          • Narf says

            Great point, but sadly, I think that Bobby and Christians throw up a simplistic excuse against that sort of thing. “Of course that happened to them. Islam is an evil and repressive religion.”

            Yes, because the Christian holy book doesn’t support almost everything that the worst Muslims do …

            Religious sorts seem completely resistant to allowing any sort of comparisons between their own religion and other religions, since theirs is the one true religion. Bobby even draws the link, himself, between every other religion and his, with his claims of them all pointing to the true god, but he dissolves that link any time it becomes burdensome to him.

            Bobby even asserts will and intent to his god-concept, which is completely at odds with almost every version of pantheism that I’ve encountered previously … not that he would be immune to the problem if he had a pure, will-less pantheism-concept, since the issue you’ve brought up is the unscientific thinking and illogic that goes into his worldview’s foundation. As if the teleological argument could bring someone to an actual god-belief, instead of simply serving as post hoc rationalization for what you’ve already latched onto for even less rational reasons …

  19. Sadako says

    Would I be able to demand a Jedi Master council me before surgery under this ‘spirituality in health care’ nonsense? Because if so, I will promise right here and now to demand such pastoral care should I ever end up hospitalized and require surgical care.

    The comparison to a hypothetical ‘sexuality in healthcare’ initiative really needs to be emphasized for people, to show how much of a mess this is.

      • Sadako says

        According to Google, there’s a Jedi Temple in my town (or that there WAS a Jedi Temple in my town, before they were wiped out by Imperial scum). Once the weather gets nicer, I might ride out and see what’s happening out that way.

        But yeah, there’s a large number of Jedi in Australia and New Zealand, and Scotland is a hotbed of Jedi activity. lol

  20. Omar says

    By my count, Bobby has threatened to “leave and never come back” here at least three times now. And yet, as Tracie pointed out, he can’t stay away. I admit that I’m curious as to why that is. Is he mentally ill? Is he lonely? Is there some perverse pleasure in trolling? If he was serious; he was entertaining. If he was just trolling, I admire his commitment.

    • Narf says

      I don’t think he’s bright enough to troll. And I wouldn’t call it mental illness. I just don’t think he’s capable of grasping lots of complex concepts, so he wraps everything in emotionally appealing bullshit, as most of the new-agey, spiritual types do.

    • KsDevil says

      Claiming cultures evolved independently of each other seems to omit the possibility that the people from whom those cultures emigrated, might have taken a religious belief with them and evolved that belief to fit a new environment.
      After all, Humans do not suddenly pop up on different continents.
      It would seem that there is no true independence, just variations on the same human theme.
      If I were smarter I could better explain neuro-paleontology.

  21. Andy Mansfield says

    For me it depends on the illness.

    If it’s something like a broken foot it is kind of pointless praying, if it is something like chronic fatigue, you have to get to the root emotional cause, as the mainstream medicine offers pretty much nothing.

    Perhaps others are different but I wouldn’t have been able to do that without some kind of spiritual involvement, if i hadn’t done i’d still be on meds.

    • AhmNee says

      What exactly did ‘spiritual involvement’ do for you? I’m curious but I must say at first blush, I’m thinking someone gave you a magic feather.

    • subzerobob says

      Andy Mansfield, at this point (a week after this mayhem) I find your post the only one worth responding here. Frankly I was hoping to find somebody with the same background as me. Hit me up! My contacts are posted all over here so that I can be easily exposed to massive bullying. Everything here is purposely directed to commenting on these “extensions” of what I’ve said, not what I am actually saying, but what they think I am saying, aka putting words in my mouth, and thus making me seem like an idiot. This is their goal, their group think purpose – to make any believer seem like an idiot for believing. I can even see how somebody can be diagnosed with the wrong religion – i see it as a matter of depression from fighting group think. Much like the group think that is going on here. Now battle is to fight indifference – dismissing any evidence, based on “no god” bias. Their evidence requirements are so rigid, if this was a murder case – they pretty much want to see with their own eyes the murderer with the murder weapon doing the actual murder, that’s how rigid their quest for evidence is. I came from a atheist/communist country. For the majority of my life and didn’t care about these matters, and I was an atheist until I was told to find some sort of spiritual involvement, and once you dwell into it these matters it does help with your overall depression. Like if I was stop now and say – there is no god, there is no intrinsic meaning then life will become a scary shit again. Andy, hit me up! I would love to talk to you!

      • corwyn says

        dismissing any evidence

        I probably missed it in the huge number of posts here. What evidence did you present for the existence of your pantheist god? Unlike many people here I accept all evidence, though I try to correctly weight its likelihood, and update my confidence in any proposition based on that.

        • subzerobob says

          before we continue any further down the nonstop ridicule, where you say – well it could be this and it could be that, even resorting to painting a picture of a world that we don’t even live in, what type of evidence would you accept as proof for the existence of god?

          • Narf says

            How the hell are we supposed to know? You’re the one with the claim. You’re the one who supposedly has evidence for something. You tell us what you’ve got, and we’ll determine whether that evidence is good enough for us.

            This is where irrational people just don’t get it. You don’t come up with a claim and then go hunting for evidence to support your claim. You develop models based upon existing evidence that you’ve collected, and then you come to a tentative conclusion, after testing your models. At least that’s the way it works if you’re rational.

            So, what evidence do you have for your claims of the supernatural and your god-concept?

          • subzerobob says

            i think you don’t understand which part of the process we are currently at.
            to find a new… anything – first you make a wild guess. it this case – lets call this guess god, explanation as to why there is existence to begin with. second is to compute the consequences, and that is where we are getting stuck! Because in order for us to do that we need to know the mind of god! Which is the SUBJECTIVE view of the origins of existence, or why must things be the way they are. Currently science can only focus on the last step – which is to compare to experiment, or the OBJECTIVE part of the equation, but we haven’t even got past the second part yet! Because we don’t know the subjectivity or the why? How can we compute the consequences without that?
            Most physicists like Lawrence Krauss focus on the how, and say that the why is nonsensical because their presupposition that there is no intent behind existence, that there is no originating agent. Which is their belief. But when in 1915 Einstein computed the shift of Mercury’s orbit, and found it to be exactly the same as the actual measurement, he felt like reading the mind of God!
            “I want to know God’s thoughts…the rest are details.” – Albert Einstein

          • subzerobob says

            to start – the kalam cosmological argument, which concludes that the universe has a grand cause, and alludes for this cause to be outside space and time. then the existence of cosmological constants, then the deterministic laws of physics that shape not just space but the life living inside it. Everything points to a grand intent.

            “We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library, whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different languages. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend but only dimly suspects.”

            ― Albert Einstein

          • Narf says

            The Kalam Cosmological argument is not a logically sound argument, and it doesn’t even end with a god, just an eternal something that never began to exist. Even if it was a sound argument, it doesn’t actually get you to where you want to go with it.

            The teleological argument is one of the weakest arguments for creation that there is. The entire freaking argument makes a grotesque, unjustified leap from “seems to be” straight to “is”, hoping that anyone watching won’t notice.

            Nice quote-mine, by the way. Do you have any context for that, in which Einstein goes on to state the probable processes that explain the apparent plan? Einstein was an atheist, so these idiotic quotes that theists keep pulling from him have to trim off the followup comments of his that rip apart what the theist is trying to use the quote for, sort of like the famous eye quote, by Darwin.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I’m still not seeing any evidence that life is designed, that humans are designed, etc. I’m not seeing any evidence that your first-cause god intended the universe. It might have been a cosmic accident. Maybe he farted us into existence. Where’s your evidence of intent and design?

          • corwyn says

            the kalam cosmological argument, which concludes that the universe has a grand cause,

            So,
            premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

            Corwyn: The universe doesn’t.

            So in order to get past premise one, you need to show evidence that the universe has a cause.

          • Narf says

            Whoah, whoah, hold up a second, man. You’re doing more work than you have to.

            Personally, I reject the claim that our universe did not have an external cause that triggered the big bang. I also reject the claim that the big bang had an external cause. We don’t have enough information and evidence about the beginning of the current state of our universe to support either claim.

            This is syllogistic logic. If you want to make an argument that requires one of those claims to be true, you’re damned well going to have to support that premise, or I’m going to reject the whole argument because of that failed premise.

  22. John Kruger says

    Really quickly, if belief were a subset of knowledge, then all beliefs would be knowledge and knowledge would not necessarily be a belief. Clearly people can have false beliefs that cannot be considered knowledge, so the set analogy fails immediately. Also by this model, all beliefs would be true, even contradictory ones, so the model fails spectacularly.

    Conversely, all knowledge is justified belief, so the assertion that knowledge is a subset of belief is perfectly valid. False beliefs are not a problem because belief in general is the larger set containing the subset of knowledge.

    • says

      John Kruger said-

      Really quickly, if belief were a subset of knowledge, then all beliefs would be knowledge and knowledge would not necessarily be a belief. Clearly people can have false beliefs that cannot be considered knowledge, so the set analogy fails immediately. Also by this model, all beliefs would be true, even contradictory ones, so the model fails spectacularly.

      I really dislike the model that Matt uses, since although it’s used in philosophy and theological circles, it is based on the premise of the existence of higher forms of special knowledge (gnosis) that is God-given, and this information outweighs the mortal’s beliefs. It obviously places the atheist at a disadvantage, and it actually has no support from the realm of neuroscience and psychology on which to base the standard.

      I’d vote for wider adoption of the approach used in medicine and psychology that holds that knowledge is ALL the data that is in the Universe (both true and false, known and unknown), and beliefs are the subset of knowledge that we personally accept into our brains as truths (and upon which we rely to base our decisions, whether delusions or not).

      It’s a losing battle, I know, since it’s fighting the same inertial force encountered in use of the equally-illogical term, ‘agnostic’ (rather than ‘soft atheist’): the reluctance of humans to change (AKA ‘appeal to tradition’).

      Adam

  23. Raymond says

    I just wanted to let subzerobob know how much I enjoyed his posts. I haven’t been so dumbfounded by stupidity and blatant cruelty in decades. Maybe it makes me a bad person, but I feel much better about myself after reading his drivel. In a world where someone like that exists, I feel pretty good about my chances. So thank you.

  24. gwen says

    As an ICU nurse, I have occasionally been asked to pray with the family (for the recovery of a loved one), I have always declined and offered to have the secretary call a cleric of their choice to the bedside. No one has ever been offended. Praying is not in my job description, and I have far too much actually scientifically proved stuff to do to keep my patient alive.

  25. says

    subzerobob

    Could you do a thought experiment for us? (hope you’re still reading, and I’m asking honestly)

    Imagine that there is no god or anything like a god. That there is no mind outside of space time. That there is no creator. That there is no cosmic purpose. That there is no spiritual afterlife. Imagine that you don’t know why you exist or what set into motion the events that eventually led to you, and that you never will know these things.

    What would you do? What is your purpose? What is important to you?

    • subzerobob says

      if no god, no intrinsic purpose, and people go back to the nothing – where they came from, then life will become scary shit again! inefficient! like why do I have to be born and go through all of this, just so that I die, it is so inefficient and pointless. Like I don’t want to die, but I would much rather not have been born to find that out! Life without god just raises your hopes up that you might possibly invent something that helps you live forever, that’s about it. the suffering of dying of loss is just to great! I wouldn’t want to wish it to nobody! especially my loved ones, so probably I will not procreate just so that I don’t expose anybody to an once of this suffering and having to answer the question to my children – Daddy, why do we have to be born if we have to die! Daddy, but I don’t want to die! Yap, like I said, life will become scary shit! But that’s not why I believe. I believe because I have faith in the principle that Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence, and the most logical explanation for me, looking at SAP, cosmological constants and patterns such as evolution and the drive for the continuation of life [this drive itself if the essence of panentheism, god is in everything, and everything is in god; god is the drive for life] which leads to the formation of intelligent life that might not just be present here but in many places elsewhere in the universe, I don’t find it to be coincidental but intrinsic in nature’s purpose. In short – for me God [an animating conscious force behind existence] is the best explanation for existence.

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        If I could teach you one thing, it would be that the universe does not care what you want. The universe is the way it is whether you like it or not.

      • Narf says

        But that’s not why I believe. I believe because …

        Bullshit. All of the existential terror is what allows you to swallow any pathetic excuse you can find to believe in something after we die.

        The rest of us look at the facts and the arguments more objectively, and we can see all of the invalid, unsound arguments for what they are. Your terror causes you to spackle over all of the logical holes and causes you to make all of the massive, illogical leaps of faith.

        Your existential terror is the root cause of your nonsensical, woo-woo beliefs … or is at least such a potent enabling factor that it’s probably the greatest contributor.

        Granted, you’re not much of a thinker in the first place, as evidenced by this latest, nearly incoherent block of text in this comment of yours. It takes less emotional influence to make you accept illogical things, relative to a more educated person. You need some serious, remedial education in philosophy or something similar, because you’re just not making any kind of sense to people who are coherent thinkers.

      • says

        if no god, no intrinsic purpose, and people go back to the nothing

        I’m an atheist, and I’ve struggled with the question of meaning/purpose a lot. After years of introspection, I figured out what the problem was.

        The problem isn’t that, as an atheist, I can’t find this “intrinsic” meaning and purpose. The problem was that my previous world view, for whatever reason, has this as a requirement in the first place.

        Now, I don’t care about “intrinsic” meaning or purpose. I see that as superfluous. I’ve come to realize that, through the power of my own mind, I can create my own meaning and purpose… and that’s all that matters. I do it every weekend. I think “Hmmm… what will I do with myself this weekend? Oh, I know!

        It doesn’t need to be handed to me on a silver platter, assigned to me, or required of me. I’d even reject it – that’s not my purpose, because I haven’t decided it’s my purpose. It’s my decision.

        I play Minecraft. I know that whatever I build will eventually vanish into nothingness. It doesn’t matter. The point is enjoying the journey, while I can, not the destination.

        Since I’m interdependent with my fellow humans, establish mutually beneficial agreements and protections helps this goal – so I help with that too… charity, assistance, aid.. etc. I benefit from a society that thinks that way.

      • says

        if no god, no intrinsic purpose, and people go back to the nothing – where they came from, then life will become scary shit again!

        Really, we go back to nothing? Existing isn’t nothing, it’s everything! Just think about how lucky you are to exist, at all. Even if there is no god/creator/intrinsic purpose, that fact doesn’t change.

        inefficient! like why do I have to be born and go through all of this, just so that I die, it is so inefficient and pointless.

        Without a god/creator/intrinsic purpose, how can you measure efficiency? What are you measuring the efficiency of? Also, WITH a god, how are the facts of human existence any more efficient than they would be without?

        Also, do the people around you think your life is pointless? Do you think your life is pointless?

        Like I don’t want to die, but I would much rather not have been born to find that out!

        Then what is the point of living after you’ve found that out? If the only thing to live for is to discover the god concept, then why do you think atheists even exist? Or what about people who die before discovering the god concept?

        Life without god just raises your hopes up that you might possibly invent something that helps you live forever, that’s about it.

        Really? So, unless we achieve immortality, we have failed? Who are you to say that’s the only measure or purpose of a life without a god? Our emotions, art, science, friends, family all exist w/o a god and they have a lot of value for me.

        the suffering of dying of loss is just to great! I wouldn’t want to wish it to nobody! especially my loved ones,

        There, you implicitly acknowledged that you value your loved ones, who are not god. Do they provide you with meaning and purpose? Do you care about their life, their happiness, their sorrow?

        so probably I will not procreate

        That’s probably a good thing. I have two kids and I have angst about what the future holds for them. Will it be better than the time I lived? What can I do to make their life better?

        just so that I don’t expose anybody to an once of this suffering

        All the more reason to work to improve human existence, so there is more joy than needless suffering. Also, the fact that we all will die doesn’t make all the rest of human existence not worth while. You don’t need a god to see that.

        and having to answer the question to my children – Daddy, why do we have to be born if we have to die! Daddy, but I don’t want to die! Yap, like I said, life will become scary shit!

        Being honest is much better than telling them a false fairy tale. Also, you don’t have to make it a central part of a child’s life to drum into their head that they’re going to die someday, in fact, I think that’s emotional child abuse.

        But that’s not why I believe.

        Good, so you’re fine with the implications of life having no intrinsic purpose? Why did you even write any of the above, then?

        I believe because I have faith in the principle that Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence, and the most logical explanation for me, looking at SAP, cosmological constants and patterns such as evolution and the drive for the continuation of life [this drive itself if the essence of panentheism, god is in everything, and everything is in god; god is the drive for life] which leads to the formation of intelligent life that might not just be present here but in many places elsewhere in the universe, I don’t find it to be coincidental but intrinsic in nature’s purpose. In short – for me God [an animating conscious force behind existence] is the best explanation for existence.

        And how is this any different from a universe without a god? How could you tell them apart? Also, it seems like nature is telling us to live, in a sense, and that living is what it’s all about. Why do you need the god?

        • corwyn says

          Without a god/creator/intrinsic purpose, how can you measure efficiency?

          As the ratio of a system’s work output to its work input.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          I missed this earlier.

          Without a god/creator/intrinsic purpose, how can you measure efficiency?

          lowut?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency
          There’s a couple of related but different concepts, including heat engine efficiency, energy conversion efficiency, … They’re all quite well-defined and measurable, and you don’t need to appeal to a god anywhere.

      • corwyn says

        In short – for me God [an animating conscious force behind existence] is the best explanation for existence.[/blockquote]

        So what is the explanation for the existence of god? If you claim that god needs no explanation, apply that to the universe. If you claim that god has always existed, apply that to the universe.

        • subzerobob says

          “If you claim that god needs no explanation, apply that to the universe. If you claim that god has always existed, apply that to the universe.”

          I wrote my own rebut of this Carl Sagan’s crap spitter, it went something like this:
          carl says “there is no need for a creation” … but I say: there is a need to assert creative process, because obviously we have signs of creativity when it comes to the variety of species and only one superior intelligence that we know of, that [seems like inevitably] emerges above everything else through this process… the real question is – was this outcome intended? And if it was intended or not, then what are the repercussions, what kind of meaning does this bring to our lives? Just because we say that it is unanswerable question, doesn’t mean that an answer is not needed or cannot be found! Just because god always existed doesn’t stop me from asking what kind of god it is? If you equate nature with god, you are just putting the magic wand of creativity into nature’s hands, and that’s not doing this problem any justice. What you are promoting is to abandon all attempts to dwell in these matters since your presupposition tells you that it is all useless all based on your conviction that we will never fully know or understand. You are the one who halts progress, not the people who assert that there is a higher being behind all this, behind existence. By the way – even carl agrees that by pursuing this notion of inquiry then one day we will come up with a way of understanding and finding the evidence that he so dearly covets, and that this type of curiosity has provided the greatest motivation for scientific research in the first place!

          I can’t ascribe any intrinsic meaning to a universe that exists just cuz… shit happens. And I can’t even motivate myself to search for anything more than knowing that everything came from nothing, because nothing is game over – there is nothing past nothing, nothing further to search. On the other hand, a universe with intrinsic purpose alludes to intent, and intent points to an agent. Now that’s an existing preposition worth all the hoping, searching, exploring, continue living, trying to get the answers, develop a science beyond the subject object split just so that I can prove it to you, opens up all sorts of possibilities.

          and re: changerofbits, I guess you never thought about dying and how much it sux. When I meant pointless and meaningless existence and going back to the nothing that you came from, I was referring to dying and going where you came from before you were born – nothing. Now does it make sense to you when I say “I don’t want to die, but I would much rather not have been born to find that out!”

          by the way… how is carl sagan an atheist after watching this video – note: fast forward to 41m and 40s http://youtu.be/HKQQAv5svkk?t=41m40s

          • says

            Okay, Bob, I’m done. The thought of reading anything more of your writing is worse than the thought of dying. At least I’d be dead, rather living with even more of my synapses scrambled. :)

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            because obviously we have signs of creativity when it comes to the variety of species

            Nope. I see no such thing.

            the real question is – was this outcome intended? And if it was intended or not, then what are the repercussions, what kind of meaning does this bring to our lives?

            Absolutely nothing. If a totalitarian government tried to micromanage every aspect of my life, I’d revolt. Nothing changes if it’s a totalitarian god instead of a totalitarian government. I do not care if there is a god who created me for an expressed purpose. Doesn’t fucking matter.

            And I can’t even motivate myself to search for anything more than knowing that everything came from nothing, because nothing is game over – there is nothing past nothing, nothing further to search.

            When you go to a movie theatre to see a movie, it is because you value temporary pleasure, temporary happiness. We rationalists recognize that all pleasure is temporary because all human existence is temporary. We view our life in the same way that you view seeing a movie at a theatre. It’s going to end, but we might as well try to enjoy it while we can.

          • deesse23 says

            You believe -like most if not all believers- because of a SINGLE reason, something that applies to theists, beleivers, fundies, atheists, ALL of us, so lets be honest with ourselves here:

            FEAR OF DEATH

            You believe because you WANT to believe that there is more than just life and death at the end of it.

            Its that simple. Everything else is cover up.

            EVERY lifeform on this planet fears death, and takes EVERY possible and necessary measure to avoid death.Its the most basic rule of evolution, and its so self evident that..well..HELLO!? 2+2=4 and you live, and because of that you dont want to die, period.

            Lesser lifeforms -without consciousness- just do it, because they are -according to evolution- descendants of the parents that were best at surviving in the past generation, duh, not that hard to grasp, is it?

            HIGHER lifeforms, with consciousness, are another animal, literally. We will also fight and fear death, but conscoiusness adds a great deal of irrationality to you. Thats the price of intellect. Lions arent irrational, they act accoding to their genetic code and experience in life. WE very often act IN SPITE of our experience “against better knowledge”, we are irrational.

            Now, fear of death, the one and only trait ALL forms of life have in common, and irrationality (born out of intellect), these two create the single and most powerful way of control of other (human or any other sufficient intelligent) beings you can imagine.
            The modus operandi is simple. Your investmernt is really minimal: time and an empty promise.
            1) adress existing fear or even stir more fear of death
            2) start “advertising your medicine”
            3) done

            Now we all know, there ist no REAL medicine, so you cant sell “eternal life without death”, other peoples intellect wont allow you to do this. No, you sell A NEW life AFTER death. Just keep advertising, fear, time and irrationality play in your favour. You will gather flocks of people, and you have TOTAL control over them now Mr. Priest. This applies particularly to the abrahamic religions, and it screams “ripoff” SO loud, its ridiculous.

            Loan sharks have control of all poeple who are after money, especially when they need more than they have. Landlords have control over everyone who wants/needs an apartment. Some people want cars….but everone wants to LIVE.

            So, start selling life, and you are the single most powerful businessman on earth. Just make sure you sell life AFTER DEATH. The trick being: you promise to deliver AFTER death, and thats the point where/when you REALLY screw them over: When they are just dead, they wont notice that you dont deliver.

            Theres ONE loophole in this scheme that you have to cover, Mr. Religion:
            While death is horrible and cant be avoided to you as an individual, your intellect enables you to CREATE things that live WAY past beyond you: Nobel price winning theories named after you, kids and family, houses you built, pieces of art you create, even the rememberance of you being a damn fine pal in your friends memory. ALL of those mitigate the fear of death to every intelligent life form with the ability to relect on itself.

            So being a con-artist Mr. Priest, you have to cover up this by telling your cattle that life has no meanig without the fake stuff (religion) that you sell, and voila: You just have created a flock of stupid cattle, totally under control by you, out of a group of highly evolved mammals called “humans” who had a LOT of potential during their lifetime. Remember again: your only invest was time and an empty promise.

            The Biggest gripe i have are not the *poor cattle* but the basterds who are wasting so much potential (wasnt this abortion discussion also about potential?) by tricking OTHER people into religion. I have NO respect for those “reverends”, Z E R O.

            Why care so much for unborn or never to be born children, instead of gaining back the potential we ALREADY HAVE in the first place?

          • corwyn says

            If you equate nature with god, you are just putting the magic wand of creativity into nature’s hands, and that’s not doing this problem any justice.

            Sure it is. I know nature exists. An explanation with a known existent cause is better than one with a cause not known to exist.

            If your proof that god exists relies on the creativity you see, but you say that it could come from nature. And we know nature exists, that removes any need to postulate the existence of god.

          • subzerobob says

            re: deesse23
            “fear of death”

            quickly, and for the last time – HOW a belief originates has nothing to do with whether or not a belief is valid (or true). You should ask really Why such belief originates at all, and you might get closer to understanding that nature is intrinsic this way – meaning you were meant to come across such belief.

            RE: EnlightenmentLiberal
            “Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali”

            for the last time – I don’t condemn science! There are certain (objective) things for which science works best – build a bridge, develop a cure. But I am adding the “why” question to help me get to the ultimate source of meaning.

          • Narf says

            We have cultural anthropologists who study how these beliefs form, and strangely, the actual existence of the supernatural has nothing to do with their studies. People have always made shit up for as long as there have been people.

            Before you begin exploring the ultimate source of meaning, you might want to demonstrate that there is an ultimate source of meaning, beyond the meaning that we make up ourselves. Ultimately, life doesn’t matter, as near as we can determine. I’m sorry if that makes you scared, but some of us have grown up and have learned to deal with it.

            If you have a better way of determining anything, other than with the scientific method, please present it to us. Please demonstrate how anything subjective can be demonstrated to be real, other than with rigorous, objective, scientific testing. Until you can demonstrate something of the sort and come up with some way to determine its effectiveness, that doesn’t put your supposedly-grand “Why?” questions beyond the purview of science.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @subzerobob
            Well, that’s out of context reply.
            Earlier, you said:

            “…which is an UNGUIDED process” I am so glad that you are finally starting to make unprovable claims! Yes, you just believe in unguided processes and that’s all the difference between you and me! I say that the laws of physics are deterministic and everything in the universe is guided by intent. Look for example these robots that “learn” how to walk – this is physical proof that the laws of physics are deterministic!

            Your choices are: (1) Say that fire burns cotton because god wills it, or (2) evolution is an unguided mindless process. I can prove (in the scientific sense of the term) beyond all reasonable doubt that evolution is a process which is just as mindless and unguided as when fire burns cotton. Either both are, or neither are.

            About ultimate purpose? There is no such thing. In this context, purpose is a description of intent of the designer, a mind, or the perceived utility of a thing according to some mind. Except for describing brain-states, “purpose” is not a material substance in our shared reality, unlike mass, length, color, etc. There is no purpose apart from minds, and there is no reason why one should value the purpose of one mind over another. There is no privileged mind, and there is no privileged purpose. What you seek – ultimate purpose – is nonsensical.

            You want a meaning of life? “Well, it’s nothing very special. Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

            You’re going to die. You are going to end. You might as well enjoy it while you can. “Always look on the bright side of life.”

  26. Muz says

    I wonder if bob listens to the Skeptico podcast. His constant springing back to the presumption regardless of anything to the contrary reminds me of that.

    -”There must be something!”

    “Not really, it could be brains,it could be culture and brains, it really has no basis.”

    -”Yes, but there must be something!”

    “No, but the argument needs more basis before we can make that claim at least”

    -”Yes, but there must be something!”

    “Now you’re saying there must be something because you think there must be something.”

    -”Yes, but there must be something!”

    “Geebus why am I talking to you…”

    “You mean people suck!”

  27. chris lowe says

    subzero bob has a lot to say. Hmmm… A small response seems to be in order. Testing to see if my submitted comments are being posted I’ve had trouble.

    • chris lowe says

      Good. It’s working.

      Religion arose from the first humans capable of communicating trying to make sense of their surroundings. It is a first attempt at philosophy. It is a first attempt at medicine. It is a first attempt at cosmology and a first attempt at organizing strangers into a society.
      To say the least, they were not armed with a lot of information, or even the means to acquire anything like the necessary data to make an informed opinion on anything in the natural world in which they found themselves.
      Most phenomena they encountered was a complete mystery to them, but the world hates a vacuum.
      Disease, with out a germ theory, still requires an explanation. Earthquakes, violent storms and other natural disasters without geology, climatology, plate tectonics etc. still requires explanation. Movements and lights in the sky, absent of astronomy, still requires an explanation.
      As people came to realize they did indeed exert a degree of control over their surroundings (especially collectively) it seems they evolved the idea that all things could be controlled and that all things indeed WERE controlled.
      What they themselves could not manage must surely be managed by beings higher than themselves. Assigning personalities to these “controllers”, with all the emotional tendencies enfolded in the human condition, seems to be the genesis of the race of gods.
      Feast or famine, war or peace would depend upon the benevolence or ire of these gods and much effort was put into appeasing the concerns of these supposed deities in order to insure the wellbeing and security of society in general.
      Those that appointed themselves as the mediators in this metaphysical give and take found themselves in possession of great power over their fellow citizens. Their perceived solutions through propitiations and sacrifices were treated as law bound and authoritive. Temples were raised and governments formed solely to allow these people to mete out divine justice.
      So most civilizations had citizenry whose lives and death were literally decided by people who claimed to have a pipeline to the divine. It would behoove everybody under these regimes to inculcate their progeny the dogmas that would allow them to tow the line.
      Nothing, it should be noted here, had anything to do with the veracity of the regnant view of the times.
      The variety of the ways in which this played out globally speaks to the multitude of religions to be found now.
      So, Mr. 6 billion vs 172 million subzero bob, answer me this: How can religion spread and maintain other than the mass inculcation of children by their massively inculcated parents? Take an orphaned baby from one form of civilization and transplant her into a very different one. From which will her characteristics and world view derive? How did Christianity spread for example? From the mutterings of an eccentric 1st century rabbi, or a Roman Emperor decreeing it as the official religion over a vast empire?
      In other words, what the fuck have you been talking about over the length and breadth of this post?

  28. Edward Howton says

    I wouldn’t just walk out of the office if I was speaking with a doctor who then asked me for my spiritual assessment. I’d explain why he’s losing a client, call him a god-addled moron, walk out, go home, and immediately call the medical board to get his license pulled for incompetence.

    Any doctor who tries to use magic to diagnose (or cure!) a patient is only going to get people killed, and even with the shortage of doctors you don’t need ticking time bombs like that working in the field.

    • Edward Howton says

      Also, about one of the aftershow callers saying he doesn’t feel that sentience and life are… whatever he said… that argument kind of makes the use of antibiotics or parasite removal unethical. Germs aren’t sentient, but they are life as far as the word ‘life’ can be defined, as are say tapeworms. If you don’t want to use our concept of sentience as a basis for rights, then everything from whales to humans to ants to ear infections to the armillaria ostoyae fungus colony would have to be included in the rights discussion of living things.

      There isn’t really any way around that in the discussion except the anthropocentric “But humans R speshul!” kind of un-reasoning, and the only real justification for separating human beings from other living things is… sentience, isn’t it?

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        Sam Harris makes an attempt. I largely follow his reasoning AFAIK. In short, it’s not inconsistent or “as arbitrary” to say that we value the experiences of creatures who are capable of certain “more rich” experience. An ant has little to no experience because of the lack of complexity of its brain, and thus it gets less consideration than a human, or a chimp, or a dog.

        I’m not sure if Sam takes this approach, but this is how I take the rest of it. So, I’m willing to give some consideration to the “higher” animals, like dogs, cows, etc. However, I’m not willing to work all that hard for it, and so whatever suffering befalls it due to my lack of action isn’t my problem. As soon as the creature is able to understand and consent to the social contract, then it gets all of the rights afforded by it, with all of the attendant responsibilities. We use “human” as a convenient yardstick.

        The key part is the responsibilities part. Even if we granted all animals the same rights as humans, soon they would all be in animal jail for fucking and shitting up the shitty fucking place.

        That leaves the part where I eat meat, which contributes to a practice of raising animals only to be slaughtered at a young age. Maybe I’m a hypocrite there. Meh.

        If I was feeling especially risque, I could make the argument that the lives of animals in some meat farms is better than their life in the wild, and thus we’re doing them a favor by keeping meat farms. Meh.

      • corwyn says

        and the only real justification for separating human beings from other living things is… sentience, isn’t it?

        Nope*. The REAL justification is human beings are US, the rest of living things are THEM.

        I know that won’t make anyone feel righteous in killing others. To that, all I can say is “Good.”

        * – Sentience is not a thing we can prove exists in ourselves, to say nothing of proving it *doesn’t* exist in other animals.

  29. corwyn says

    In short, it’s not inconsistent or “as arbitrary” to say that we value the experiences of creatures who are capable of certain “more rich” experience.

    It may not be inconsistent, but it most certainly is wrong, that is, it doesn’t match how we actually treat animals. We value gerbils more than rats for example, or dogs more than pigs. This is nothing more than The King’s Favorite.

    • Narf says

      You seem to think that people are rational or something and are anything approaching accurate in their evaluation of which animals are most like us. :D Most people treat animals based upon what they project of themselves onto the animal.

      People not doing something doesn’t make it wrong.

      • subzerobob says

        if you can think it, then it is rational. Now whether or not the reasons for thinking it are good or bad is a different question, but definitely bad reasons doesn’t equal irrational. Irrational for example is when somebody is paying $8.59 for a cup of coffee, which doesn’t make sense when there’s cheaper, equally-good coffee across the street and that person knows it. So then when you ask that person – why did you buy it, and they told you – I don’t know, then that’s irrational pertaining to the choice which they had to pick from. Just like when I ask you – What type of god might possibly exist, and you say “I don’t know but I know that I am an atheist” is irrational.

        By claiming that theists have bad reasons to think there is a god, atheism tries to come up on top as the “rational” better beings. This attempt to make any theist seem like an idiot is what fuels this “debate” or more like the bigotry, the frontier of this war-like behavior. ultimately neither side knows whether they are right or wrong, But for me the difference is where do you like to be when it comes to being wrong about the one thing that either way doesn’t really affect any of your other day-to-day activities and choices such as going to work, planning for your retirement, etc. Atheists want to be absolutely certain that evidence leads to the existence of something (or something else), before they say they believe it, and theists are not so adamant about being wrong especially when it comes to believing. In other words, if I am wrong about my god claim, it doesn’t make me a bad person, irrational, stupid, asinine, schizophrenic, cretin, idiot, incoherent, illiterate, uneducated, against science, unworthy to reproduce, and most important to me – irrational.

        • corwyn says

          if you can think it, then it is rational. Now whether or not the reasons for thinking it are good or bad is a different question, but definitely bad reasons doesn’t equal irrational.

          If you can redefine any word to mean whatever you want it to mean, rather than what people generally use it to mean, then you can argue anything. With yourself. The rest of us will have no idea what you are talking about.

          Google defines ‘rational’ as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic.” So no, bad reasons really does equal irrational, in commonly accepted English. More to the point, I don’t care if you want to call believing for bad or no reasons ‘rational’; it is still stupid to do so.

          ***
          So do you choose to acknowledge that your kalam argument fails on the first premise as I showed, or would you like to show evidence that the universe has a cause. in order to proceed to the second premise?

        • Narf says

          if you can think it, then it is rational.

          Come on, Bobby. Seriously? That’s stupid, even for you. When you begin a comment with something that profoundly stupid, I’m not even going to bother reading the rest of it.

      • corwyn says

        People not doing something doesn’t make it wrong.

        My contention was, that it is wrong… “to say that we value the experiences of creatures who are capable of certain ‘more rich’ experience.” Because that is manifestly untrue. If you want to claim that we *should* value the experience of creatures who are capable of certain ‘more rich’ experience, that would an attempt to arrive at a moral code rather than finding a justification for an existing one.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      @corwyn
      Wait wait now. I was arguing about what is right, e.g. what we should do. It is no surprise to me that actual human behavior does not track well in this case with what is right. I agree that it is entirely arbitrary why some people value gerbils more than rats.

  30. says

    So, I’ve been in healthcare for a few years now as a CNA, and am finally going through LPN school. Let me highlight some of the problems in this entire fiasco (healthcare and religion):

    1. Too many schools (even the public schools) advocate and cling to archaic religious ideas. They cater to religion, especially Christianity and the like. We are basically conditioned to stay in line or lose our job, which means we have no autonomy. This is to say that those who do not have an MD or PhD have zero power. If they cause a stir, not only is their job on the line, but some facilities may actually have the sway to threaten their licensure. Sad but true. Healthcare eats their young.

    2.I know, at least from my training thus far, that we are indeed told to conceal our own religiosity. If we have beliefs and a client asks about them, we are supposed to redirect this to themselves. This is the ONLY occasion I can even think of that the subject being acceptable for discussion. However, I concede that I am only in LPN school and cannot attest to all disciplines or facilities.

    3. Holistic healthcare doesn’t necessarily mean that we are looking at you as someone with this that and the other. It means we are treating our clients as whole people and not just a person with a problem. This is pretty much the WD-40 for nursing. We give you an independent diagnosis from your medical based on your needs or problems that present us and what we can do to help achieve overall health. Because someone is atheist, Bhuddist, or a devout worshipper of Osiris etc, has little to no bearing on this. I do agree that the nursing diagnosis of spiritual distress, etc is laughable HOWEVER appropriate for very specific patients.

    I just wanted to kind of toss my two cents in on this now that I’m finished spewing book learning. It isn’t just you. It happens to those of us who work in healthcare all the time. A perfect example being that no one had a problem with a tattoo I have until my atheism was exposed. Shortly thereafter I became the target of all sorts of discrimination. I hope that offers at least minute comfort in knowing healthcare officials aren’t only abusing their power to invade the lives and rights of the patient. Separation of church and healthcare, albeit nearly impossible, can only serve to better the system for the public.

  31. Damian says

    On Friday in public tv in Poland (TVP) There was news about “well-behaved family” that starved their 6 month child to death. News doesn’t picture family as jehovah witnesses, but ther is “internet agenda” that tries to justify their actions. In other news reports, they mention that family was “very religous”,”very wealthy” and “well educated”. This child had no vaccination made and they doesn’t want medical care for their child “they do not want to use medical care and not let in the house nor doctor nor nurses.” Instead they have consulted with religious medicine-man claiming for the representatives of law that their were consulting child sickness with doctor from other country where father of this child had business.
    Next thing on Friday TVP news was “Miracles of JPII”… Showing people healed by prayer to JPII and things like that. What kind of dumb ass hipocrits are they. First mourning about this child killed couse their parents prayed to their god to heal child, and then showing Great miracles from praying to JPII… And even after the news there was whole documentary movie about “Great miracles”

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