Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    It’ll be me vs. Greg Epstein in a DUEL TO THE DEATH!

    Two atheists walk in, only one walks out.

  2. says

    If he’s such a wimp, I’d be careful about scaring him off, and having him back out at the last minute with some lame excuse.
    A written excuse that would be signed, of course, by “Epstein’s mother.”

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Epstein is such a tool. He’s erected about 16 strawmen already in his first two-minute slot.

  4. reynoldhall says

    If Epstein really is such a “wimp” (depending on how you define one, PZ) maybe he’ll beg off the debate because of a virus while he actually goes off to the bar.

  5. ericdutton says

    For a moment (when Epstein’s connection was lost), I thought it HAD been a duel to the death.

  6. Rip Steakface says

    That’s funny, I passed through Lakewood on the way home from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho today. Long ride – 7 hours on a school bus isn’t nice.

  7. datasolution says

    Epstein is such a tool. He’s erected about 16 strawmen already in his first two-minute slot.

    Yep, I stopped listening soon after that, idiots like Epstein are far more annoying and tiresome than religious nutjobs of USA variety.

  8. David Marjanović says

    Two atheists walk in, only one walks out.

    The Debate of Atheists was easy to get in, and easy to get out. The trick was to get out upright.

    So, can people ask anything? Because I’ve got an important question about a woodchuck.

    Woodchucks can, in fact, chuck wood at a rate of about 1 cm³/h. The experiment was published in the Annals of Improbable Research.

    For a moment (when Epstein’s connection was lost), I thought it HAD been a duel to the death.

    LOL!!!

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    We should point out that people who are enthusiastically wrong are being idiots, so that they’ll refrain from doing that. Then the aggregate harm they’ll do to society will lessen.

    vs

    Being wrong is part of their cultural identity. They are idiots, and reminding them that their ways are idiotic makes them feel bad. A lot of them do good things. Some are downtrodden minorities. You don’t want to hurt nice people do you? You wouldn’t want them to *gasp* rethink their identity and completely disown that sometimes laudable heritage…

  10. ikesolem says

    See any problems with this quote?

    “The work that we need to do, we atheists, humanists and non-believers, is to build a better world and not try to tear down those with whom we disagree,” said Greg M. Epstein

    That’s profoundly anti-science. If someone has ‘faith’ in the old deterministic physics of the 19th century (which turned out not to agree with many experimental results) is it ‘tearing them down’ to insist that they accept the new quantum mechanical physics (which does agree with experiment)? Should ‘morally superior’ scientific theories be promoted instead? (try Nazi Germany and Soviet Lysenkoism for that last approach)

    If there is no evidence of any kind for some mythological – supernatural fantasy story having any basis in objective reality, is there any problem in pointing this out? Is saying that all religious texts were thought up and written down by human beings, and there’s no evidence for ‘divine revelation’ whatsoever – is that an assault on someone?

    Epstein implies that without religion, without proper guidance by a respected authority figure, the unwashed masses would be gnawing on each others bone marrow – human nature is intrinsically evil, we need salvation and faith to combat it, etc. Bad people need guidance, and they need to give their money to the priesthood so they’ll intercede with God on their behalf? A lucrative con game, but not much more than that.

    Epstein’s central argument – that religion has been good for humanity, even if based on fantasy writing – has been refuted time and time again. Try P.A.M. Dirac’s take on that claim:

    Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards – in heaven if not on earth – all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.

    Protection and legitimization of the authoritarian power structure – that’s always been a central role of religion, from the Sumerian god-kings and the Egyptian pharaohs onwards. That’s also what religious warfare was all about – clashing power structures. And anyone who points it out is a blasphemer.

  11. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @ikesolem #17

    Is it ‘tearing them down’ to insist that they accept the new quantum mechanical physics?

           Probably not. I think “tearing them down” meant demoralizing the person for the idea in thier head.

           Except certain people spin ideas into a personal identity so any assault on the idea is felt as an attack on them as human beings. He resolves the conflict between skepticism’s no quarter for bad ideas and humanism’s empathy for human shields by compromising the former.

           It’s not about what’s true and false (peoples’ differing opinions about what facts mean), it’s about the ethics of poking fragile psyches and triggering suffering they’d prepared for themselves or inherited.
     
     

    Is saying that all religious texts were thought up and written down by human beings, and there’s no evidence for ‘divine revelation’ whatsoever – is that an assault on someone?

    Daniel Dennett, Beyond Belief Conference 2007:

    There is no polite way to say, “With all due respect, sir, have you considered the possibility that you have blighted your whole life with a fantasy and are polluting the minds of defenseless children with dangerous nonsense?”

  12. saguhh00 says

    Here’s all you need to know about religion:
    1- the metaphysical claims of religion are false.
    2- the least religious countries in the world are the best ones to live in. Norway, with the highest place on the HDI list has 85% of its population as non-religious. 75% of Sweden, 70% of Denmark, 68% of Japan, 57% of the UK are non-religious and these countries have extremely high places in the HDI list. The only exception is Vietnam (85% non-religious), but that country was ripped to shreds in the Vietnam war.
    3- the religious individuals who contributed the most to the world were the LEAST religious ones.
    4- the more religious an individual is, the less sane they sound.
    5- The more religious a country is, the more fucked. In the arabic peninsula, eating a ham sandwich is punished with 40 lashings. Driving, for a woman, is also punished with forty lashings, and converting to a religion that is not Islam is punished with decapitation. North Korea, the most religious country in the world, is the most repressive regime our species has ever created.
    6- The five largest charities in the world are secular, the two largest ones were founded by atheists.
    7- religion is anti-science, specially in the forms of creationism and intelligent design.

  13. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @saguhh00 #19:
    It gets better.
    Video: Youtube – Dawkins’ UK census results
    (What people who say they’re christians think ‘religious’ means over there.)
     

    1- the metaphysical claims of religion are false.

    Eh. That’s walking into “Prove the negative.” The claims also often unintelligible, internally contradictory, unsupported by observation (so far, woo gaps, boo induction!), or trivial relabeling of something mundane for emotional effect. Remaining claims that encroach on testable reality have been shown to be false. And any unfalsifiable reality claims, rather than being unassailable, are speculation that don’t merit devotion.