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Dawkins/Pell on Q&A

It’s about to be a long weekend of triumphant atheism in Australia, and Richard Dawkins set things up by sacrificing that idiot, George Pell, on the altar of reason. The whole debate is now online.

I was really unimpressed with most of the audience’s questions, and even less impressed with Pell. Pell threw in Atheist Hitler at about 11 minutes in, and some smug audience member exhibited his confusion about atheism and agnosticism at 14 minutes. Also, the guy at 21 minutes with a video embarrassed all Australians, I think.

It’s a good warmup for the rest of the week, though.


It was also a warmup for Richard: here he is the next morning on the radio.

Comments

  1. gardengnome says

    Pell himself is the embarassment! He’s at least as conservative as the church’s present CEO on the whole spectrum of current debates and is totally immune to reasoned argument. Definitely has his eye on the top job though.

  2. says

    Definitely has his eye on the top job though.

    Pell considers himself one of the papabili (the contenders for future pope)? Wow, he really is deranged. The incumbent has infused the College of Cardinals with a new batch of Italians and his successor is more likely to be a reversion to the Italian standard (after two non-Italians in a row) than to be a candidate from Down Under.

  3. Patricia, OM says

    As SteveoR said, we have been discussing this on the TET. Dawkins gets mixed reviews. He seemed too polite, tired of the whole thing (I get tired of fuckwits too) and he let Pell slide on calling Darwin a theist.

    The audience was incomprehensible to me. Not at all what I expected from the sharp witted Aussies we get here.

  4. says

    No, Darwin did say he was a theist. He also said his convictions about theism became weaker over time.

    Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

    This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with many fluctuations become weaker. But then arises the doubt—can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

    I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

    Dawkins was quite right not to jump on that one. He could have pointed out that the views of a 19th century gentleman are irrelevant.

    I was far more pissed off at Pell’s idiocies about Neandertal man and how there had to have been a “first man”. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and really hard to address briefly to an audience that was packed with Catholic cheerleaders.

  5. gardengnome says

    Zeno

    Oh, he’ll never get there, I’m sure the machinations of the poisonous cesspit that is the Vatican will see to that, but a bloke can dream.

  6. Patricia, OM says

    I take my correction in good grace.

    But I fart in the general direction of Cardinal Pells aunties. And with that said, I will sashay off in a high snit.
    (Which I promise will last 30 seconds. So there.)

  7. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    25 minutes into it, and just love Pell’s tapdancing.

    Video question was idiotic, indeed. As I have said before, the universe is still damned near nothing. Overall, it’s a vacuum with a few hydrogen atoms in the size of an average room. The atoms are mostly empty inside, as well. Dawkins did a fair job with it.

  8. philhoenig says

    It’s not official doctrine, but some Catholics would say that Pell couldn’t possibly be the next Pope – that’s going to be some guy called Peter the Roman.

  9. richarddawkins says

    I too was disappointed in this so-called debate. I don’t want to put all the blame on my jet lag (I had spent the whole night on the plane from Los Angeles and, incidentally, missed the whole of Easter Day crossing the Date Line). The two things that really threw me were, first, the astonishing bias of the audience and, second, the interfering chairman.

    Right from the start when we were introduced, it was clear that the studio audience was dominated by a Catholic cheer squad. The cheered whenever the Cardinal said anything, however stupid and ignorant. To be fair to the ABC, I am confident that they were not responsible for stacking the audience. I believe it was genuinely first-come-first-served, and I can only think that the Catholics must have got off the mark very swiftly and rallied the troops. Our side just isn’t very good at doing that: perhaps it is one of our more endearing qualities. It was encouraging that the vote of viewers at large came down heavily on our side, to the evident surprise and discomfort of the studio audience.

    Such an extreme audience bias was a little off-putting, but it wouldn’t have mattered so much if the chairman had allowed us to have a proper debate instead of continually racing ahead to get in another dopey question. There were times when the Cardinal had doled out more than enough rope to hang himself but then, in the nick of time, the chairman blundered in and rescued him with yet another samey question from the audience. The only time the chairman did a good job was when he pressed the Cardinal on what seemed perilously close to anti-Semitism.

    More and more, I am thinking that discussions of this kind are positively ruined by an interfering chairman. That was also true of my encounter with the Archbishop of Canterbury, which could have developed into an interesting conversation but for the meddling chairman who, to make matters worse, was a ‘philosopher’ with special training in obscurantism.

    Cardinal Pell had evidently been well prepped, formally briefed (for example with his alleged fact that Darwin called himself a theist on page 92 of his autobiography). I knew it wasn’t true that Darwin was a theist and said so, but I obviously couldn’t counter the “Page 92″, which duly got a cheer from the touchline. I’ve since had a chance to look it up and, as expected, it refers to the way Darwin felt earlier in his life, not his maturity when he said he preferred to call himself ‘agnostic’ because the people “are not yet ripe for atheism”.

    Another missed opportunity on my part was when the Cardinal nastily insinuated that I had not read to the end of Lawrence Krauss’s book having written the Foreword. Actually I didn’t write the Foreword, I wrote the Afterword, which suggests that the Cardinal hadn’t read the book. Indeed, the content of what he said suggests that he (or whoever briefed him) had read only the infamous review in the New York Times, again by a philosopher not a scientist.

    Altogether an unsatisfactory evening. Much better was the radio interview the following morning, after I had had a night’s sleep and had my wits more properly about me:
    http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2012/04/bst_20120410_0815.mp3

    Richard

  10. ikesolem says

    The only reason anyone can say “Atheist Hitler” with a straight face is because of decades of PR efforts aimed at keeping some unpleasant history submerged – but there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary:

    Joseph Goebbels 1936: “We have a feeling that Germany has been transformed into a great house of God, including all classes, professions and creeds, where the Fuhrer as our mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty.”

    Other examples include German Wehrmacht soldiers with belt buckles proclaiming “Gott mit us“.

    For whatever reason, most of the Catholic leadership and the Protestant German churches went meekly along with the National Socialist agenda, from the early attacks on democracy to the later deportations to concentration camps, and beyond.

    The Nazi Movement probably considered itself both Christian and Social Darwinian, all wrapped up in biopolitical rhetoric – the Aryan body politic fighting the cancerous contamination of non-Germanic peoples for their evolutionary survival – but always remembering Gott Mit Us.

    And yes, modern knowledge of genetics and heredity has largely discredited the early 20th century field of eugenics / Social Darwinism, not on moral grounds but on scientific grounds.

  11. says

    One thing though which shows how far the church has fallen in people’s estimation, that it’s now a shorthand for child molestation, was the sniggering when Pell mentioned “preparing” boys. He obviously hadn’t thought of the double entendre, and the fact that the audience openly laughed at him, shows how little respect he has in the general population (at least I hope this is so!)

  12. Suido says

    It was a disappointment. Q&A has developed a reputation for providing a good debate forum for political/social issues, and the host is usually pretty good at giving both sides enough time/rope. Last night seemed an aberration, alas.

  13. says

    I should add that I’m fully aware that most of the audience were biased in the wrong direction. It’s the fact that even they couldn’t help but laugh at this pontificating windbag’s gaffe which gives me a little bit of hope.

  14. gardengnome says

    Richard’s comments are interesting. The local media (the little I read anyway) seem to be suggesting that Tony Jones (the moderator) gave the “best performance” of the three. Perhaps that’s just their way of being “even-handed” in their reporting though.

  15. MG Myers says

    Another outstanding job by Richard Dawkins! The results of the 20,000+ voters were that 76% said “no” to the question, “Does religious belief make the world a better place?”

  16. mitchgarside says

    I can shed a little light on the audience, I’m a politically involved uni student in Aus and I heard about this from a few contacts:
    First some context, the show Q&A is on the ABC, a publicly funded channel, and is principally a political show that attempts to find real balance by having the best of all sides involved (not like the faux balance of many news programs, especially in the US). Hence the audiences are vetted by political leaning to attempt to produce a balanced crowd of right and left leaning, the way they do this is by asking which party you support/vote for when you apply to be in the audience.

    This week the Catholic groups on campus discussed plans to stack out Dawkins appearance by applying as both Coalition voters (which would be true, they are our conservatives, yet still closer to the Democrats really, heh) and also as Green party voters (the most left wing party that has seats in Australian Parliament). So they managed to stack out both sides of the audience.

    Bearing false witness being a sin doesn’t seem to have come across in this plan.

  17. jeffra says

    The best bit by far – better even than the Neanderthal gaffe – was when Pell casually recounted how he and his mates groomed young men…

    …for something or other.

  18. says

    I didn’t get to watch this last night as my ABC reception is crap, but I downloaded the video and will watch tonight. First, however, I’ll be at the public lecture Dawkins and Krauss are giving tonight – which will no doubt be a much more stimulating exchange.

  19. mitchgarside says

    Oh and Andrew?
    “shows how little respect he has in the general population (at least I hope this is so!)”

    You are correct in this summation. Pell has far less power and influence in Australia than he thinks he does. While religion is far from inert as a political force in Australia, the churches (especially the Catholics) really don’t have much power themselves.

    Unfortunately many backward religious beliefs about gay marriage, abortion and muslims persist despite the Churches inability to actually influence policy.

  20. says

    The “debate” was interesting but could have been more so. Unfortunately it was restricted by a moderator trying to fit things into an hour of program time. I thought Richrd was being a polite English gentleman but as he said he was simply jet-lagged. With disputes over definitions of words like ‘why’ and ‘nothing’ it became a bit like Dancing with the Stars with the contestants on different dance floors.

    More fun would have been an unmoderated debate between the two. The Cardinal could lubricate himself with an endless supply of communion wine, Richard could drink his favourite tipple and the audience could drink their preferred poison. The more inebriated everyone became the closer to the truth we would get as they say: “In vino veritas”.

  21. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @Richard,

    I thought you performed well, inspite of your jetlag & the interruptions of Tony Jones. The person I watched the debate with (who has never seen you before) commented thus also.

    In general though, Cardinal Pell came off looking very Catholic. (translation: Stupid)

    His gaffe about preparing boys & the laugh it got obviously did not sit well. I had hoped one of the audience questions would have been for Pell to explain the theodicy that the catholic church embodies.

    When he made his neanderthal gaffe, I felt ashamed of the Victorian education system. That and his attempt to excuse human induced climate change by drawing parallels with the Ballarat weather system (showing that despite his childhood spent there, he has no grasp of the local micro climate).

    Don’t be too surprised though, by the 75% saying religion does harm, it is the ABC, who audience is more likely to be left leaning & intellectual (afterall, the christervatives would have been watching the commercial channels)

  22. lexie says

    I was disappointed that the ABC didn’t try to balance the audience based on religious belief rather than political belief. Even though most religious people I know are Liberals (that is the name of the conservative party) but Kevin Rudd is proof that religious people can be in or voters for Labour.

    Watching it was painful, what Dawkins said was interesting but ruined by the ignorant non-sensical blitherings of Cardinal Pell. Ignorance and arrogance like he displayed is painful to listen to.

  23. rorschach says

    Altogether an unsatisfactory evening.

    I agree. These debates are such great opportunities to show the wrongness and the bigotry of religion, we must not let them slip like this. And my feeling was that Pell got away with murder last night, not only the Neanderthal thing or the English boys blunder, but especially the Hitler gaffe, that was such a great opening to explain not only to Pell (who knows these things and chooses tolie about them), but also to the stacked audience not only this tired old fallacy about personality cult leaders and not believing in gods, but also the roots of fascism in Germany, which have everything to do with religion, in particular catholicism. A wasted opportunity.

  24. says

    I see Scott Stephens had turned up on the ABC Drum website to once again complain about the intellectual poverty of Dawkins… the whole piece was basically saying “Pick me, teacher, I’m ever so smart!”

  25. demosthenesofathens says

    I believe that Pell is a confident of the religious Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott; who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of Australia.

  26. rorschach says

    I see Scott Stephens had turned up on the ABC Drum website

    It’s Easter after all, time for the zombies to be walking through the streets.

  27. says

    I figure Scott Stephens is going to get all the Drum space he can with the GAC on. How else will we know how much smarter and morally aware he is compared to those superficial “new atheists”?

  28. rorschach says

    How else will we know how much smarter and morally aware he is compared to those superficial “new atheists”?

    Watched him debate Blackford not so long ago, turns out the guy is not only a clueless moron, but also one narcissistic and angry customer.

    I believe that Pell is a confident of the religious Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott; who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of Australia.

    Stephens IIRC is part of that particular boygroup from hell as well. Went to the same seminary as Abbott, or something like that.

  29. buzz says

    The last time Richard was on Q&A it was with its usual format of 5 or 6 guests and Tony Jones ususally lets things roll along too much and doesn’t bring speakers back into line.

    Last night he was much tighter to the point of questions not getting answered. He wasn’t helped by Pell who wandered off topic at the drop of a mitre to do a Godwin or have some other irrellavent crack. Pell did come across as a waffling drogo, and surely its time the RC got someone a bit more media savy to be its point man in the media.

    The audience didn’t seem to be as broadbased as it usually is.

  30. Louis says

    Professor Dawkins, #11,

    I don’t think you came across poorly at all. The obvious audience bias was annoying, but what always annoys me far more than that in all these sorts of “debates” is the simple fact that your opponent is unconstrained by the truth. The Cardinal could, and did, say any damned thing he wanted to. In the land of make believe, what limits are there?

    I was more dismayed by the arrogant ignorance of the Cardinal, the dismissal of accuracy regarding scientific ideas for example, the assertion of “other ways of knowing” for another, than any fluffed answer or home-turf cheer.

    The famous (and disputed) Huxley quote came immediately to mind on watching the video:

    A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who…plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.

    Louis

  31. rorschach says

    Sez Stephens :

    Richard Dawkins is not only the most theologically illiterate of the non-believing ultra-Darwinists, but he is also notoriously unsophisticated on questions of ethics and moral obligation.

    What utter drivel. Scott Stephens is an angry clown with a website on the ABC, and I’m not quite certain why he is there, and in charge for that matter. And I just can’t wait for Scott the sophisticated catholic theologian to tell us unbelievers about moral obligations. He’s an expert, after all.

  32. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Richard Dawkins @11, thanks heaps for your clarification.

    I am astounded by your energy and work ethic at a time in life where others might retire.

    (Good on ya)

  33. lexie says

    What is ultra-Dawinism?

    Scott Stephens critises Dawkins for not having studied theology but Dawkins knows a lot more about theology than he does about the new atheists.

  34. marko says

    It’s outstanding that an educated grown up can come out with things like this:

    “I don’t believe God does anything randomly, although he might set up he might set up a system which works, apparently through, you know, through chance, through random…”

    Surely the best way to convince these people that they are wrong is just be to get them to listen to themselves?

  35. says

    I eagerly watched the show on iView at 1am after coming home and felt so sorry for Richard. I have never seen him so jet lagged or ever heard him be tetchy before. All I can do is apologise to Richard for the ABC utterly wasting his time and berate them for not inviting me – an aussie Kate Smurthwaite – who would happily have Hitchslapped that idiot Pell or any one of those smarmy little ‘catholic science students’ (best oxymoron of the night). It seems George Pell is really no more clever or educated than any other catholic schmuck I have encountered in 50 years of being almost the only non catholic in my family. Most Catholics are not taught to think let alone debate. They are taught merely to listen and believe what is told to them – to have faith and keep the faith. Science is an anathema to them so you can’t really expect them to have a conversation about it let alone to discuss what it may lack. They seem barely conscious of its existence. If that is the best they can come up with then really it’s all over bar the whimpering of religion’s dying breath.

  36. rorschach says

    All I can do is apologise to Richard for the ABC utterly wasting his time and berate them for not inviting me – an aussie Kate Smurthwaite – who would happily have Hitchslapped that idiot Pell or any one of those smarmy little ‘catholic science students’ (best oxymoron of the night).

    Huh ? I get the notion that an opportunity was wasted to refute Pell, but “hitchslapped” ? I don’t think so, with all due respect.

  37. don1 says

    There must be heaven and hell or there is no ultimate justice.

    Hitler was an atheist.

    Darwin was a theist.

    If Neanderthals are my cousins, why aren’t they around today?

    If there was no ‘first man’ there are no humans.

    The wafer does really become flesh, but only in the sense of ‘really’ which you are too unsophisticated to understand.

    I half expected someone in the audience to shout ‘Bingo’.

  38. kami says

    I really wanted to not watch this as I knew it was just going to trot out the generic dumb shit questions posed by people who don’t care for the answers. I’m honestly surprised Dawkins hasn’t gone nuts by now, he must have such an incredible level of patience to get asked the same question repeatedly and remain entirely composed when responding.

    It was embarrassing how bad Pell was. The audience that laughed at certain points was embarrassing as well, if they had any abilities of comprehension would have understood what was being said. I agree with the others, you could tell Dawkins was jetlagged when he showed that he was irritated at a couple of moments. I felt sorry for him.

    You could have substituted any rational 14-year-old (for Dawkins) with knowledge of the science/religion debate and they would have embarrassed Pell just as much. The inanity was infuriating (see: video question about how “nothing turned into something” – I bet that guy had no care for the answer and was probably more satisfied by the (incorrect) thought that he would make Dawkins squirm).

    Quote of the night by Pell: “When I was in England preparing some young boys…”

    …went straight over his head.

  39. says

    Talk was good tonight, though I wished that I had watched Q&A first since so much of the conversation seemed to stem from that. I felt sorry for the Catholic girl who was almost in tears while not being able to get her point across – the point was inane, but still I can sympathise nonetheless. Got my copy of The Extended Phenotype signed, so I’m happy with that.

  40. says

    rorschach get a sense of humour. Do I need to explain the context of the Hitchslapped by Kate reference? It was meant in jest. kate is brilliant – Austrlia needs a Kate Smurthwaite. http://www.facebook.com/katesmurthwaite

    I never expected to see so many earnest little girls fresh out of catholic school and there to support their hero Pell.

    There were some funny moments. I particularly liked the part where Tony Jones asked Richard to explain his life’s work.

    I would have asked Pell what it is about the child who decided in his own mind that there must not be a hell and then having the notion firmly reimplanted by Pell on the basis that Hitler needed punishing made him a patriot?! Hitler is dead, his evil overcome and his memory as the nastiest person who ever lived intact – is that not sufficient for Pell? Perhaps Pell needs to pop down there and check to see that Adolf made it. Just to be sure.

  41. johnscanlon says

    Just in case anyone reading the comments above misinterprets statements to the effect that Dawkins “let Pell slide on Darwin being a theist”, the transcript reads more like Pell, with Jones assisting, galloping one foot after another into his mouth:

    GEORGE PELL: … Darwin was a theist because he said he couldn’t believe that the immense cosmos and all the beautiful things in the world came about either by chance or out of necessity. He said, “I have to be ranked as a theist.”

    RICHARD DAWKINS: That just not true.

    GEORGE PELL: Excuse me it’s…

    RICHARD DAWKINS: It’s just plain not true.

    GEORGE PELL: It’s on page92 of his auto biography. Go and have a look.

    TONY JONES: Sorry, can I just bring you, in a sense, to the point of the question? Do you accept that humans evolved from apes?

    GEORGE PELL: Yeah, probably. From Neanderthals, yes. Whether…

    RICHARD DAWKINS: From Neanderthals?

    GEORGE PELL: Probably.

  42. anthonycamuglia says

    Watching Q and A last night was an interesting but saddening experience, not least for the barely hidden bias demonstrated against Cardinal Pell by the compere who is employed with the proceeds of our taxes.

    How can the atheist movement fail to see that they have turned atheism into a religion in its own right, albeit a religion based on conceit, self assumed intellectual superiority and bitterness directed toward those of traditional faith? By arrogantly belittling people of faith, and their concepts of belief, the atheist movement undermines its own claims to the mantle of logic, intellectual freedom and enlightened humanism. This is in contradistinction to the self imposed standards of behaviour that popular atheists are keen to espouse when discussing such topics abstractly.

    Many practices that modern atheism claim to detest the most: demagoguery, fundamentalism and illogicality have been brought to a high art form within the atheist movement. Demagoguery is self evidently demonstrated by the feelings expressed by devotees of prominent atheists such as Dawkins, including the religious style of devotion displayed by Dawkins to Darwin himself. Let me be clear here however: I take no issue with Darwin’s views a scientist and believe in the evolutionary process.

    Fundamentalism and illogicality is displayed in the irrational claims laid by some scientists, such as Dawkins, that the study of scientific theories and systems, no matter how detailed and subspecialised, can be translated to give support to theories regarding the existence or non-existence of a deity. ‘Science’ in the modern pop culture understanding, and specifically the biological sciences, are but one small rivet in the human quest for truth. It is incapable of addressing questions relating to the existence of God, almost by definition. The fact that Dawkins is a scientist with a strong intellect and a strong background in biological and evolutionary sciences does nothing to increase his authority to answer questions outside his specific area of scientific expertise over any one else.

    Possibly, the illogicality of it all (that is attempting to apply the modern scientific paradigm to the question of the existence of God) and the attendant psychological frustration it must cause, may be contribute to the often unbridled anger and churlishness showered on individuals non-discriminately by atheists. This could be likened to a tantrum by a small child unable to perform an act that contradicts the precepts of physics, like pushing a square peg through a round hole. The God Delusion, authored by Dawkins, is an angry book. Much of the book that is not a tempestuous tirade is dedicated to showing that Einstein may have (or may have not) been an atheist, a question that no matter how answered, is quite irrelevant to proving (or disproving) the existence of God in any case. When organised religion is discussed in the book, a great deal focusses on extreme examples of fringe fundamentalist practices and organised religion is painted in the worst possible light. However, even if one were to accept the most extreme correlate of this, that is Dawkins proves organised religion is ‘bad’, it still does not prove (nor disprove) the existence of God.

    As an aside, Dawkins disorganised claim on Q and A that evolution is non-random but at the same time random, as he described in a childish facile way in an attempt to discredit Cardinal Pell (rather than participate in constructive debate) can actually be reconciled. Some of the processes that underpin natural selection, such as genetic point mutations (that are then selected in or out by selection pressures), likely have a degree of randomness about them, indeed the more atomised our level of inspection of the universe becomes, the more random it would appear. At the same time, the overall process of evolution has predictable elements, so making the overall higher theory of evolution non-random and predictable. Attacking someone whose expertise lies within in area outside of ones’ own is not flattering but is childish and ignorant. I am sure even my humble self could do the same to Dawkins in several areas of subspecialist clinical medicine yet I am sure all would agree that this would be self serving and ignorant. And Professor Dawkins, jet lag is no excuse for your unprofessional behaviour, even if your worshippers have flooded the blogosphere with this weak defense as the reason for your poor manners. But then again your performance on Q and A has given the word hubris a new mascot.

  43. steve oberski says

    @richarddawkins

    It may be time to add catholic cardinals to the list of sophisticated theologians that you won’t debate.

    While it seemed to me they were scrapping the bottom of the barrel with Pell, if this was the best the RCC could present then why waste your time and tarnish your reputation by associating with sociopaths of this ilk.

  44. nobody says

    That was the worst program I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching. I pity Mr. Dawkins for having to suffer being there.

  45. steve oberski says

    @anthonycamuglia

    Your claim that you are “self serving and ignorant” is not disputed.

  46. jeremynel says

    Well, the debate was a bit frustrating, but the radio interview was OUTSTANDING. Well done, Richard.

  47. says

    By arrogantly belittling people of faith, and their concepts of belief, the atheist movement undermines its own claims to the mantle of logic, intellectual freedom and enlightened humanism.

    1) It is not possible to call bullshit bullshit without being called arrogant.

    2) Your statement does not at all follow anyway even if you could defend the ‘arrogantly’. Indeed, it is very near to a straight out inversion of the reality. As ‘intellectual freedom’, indeed, tends even to demand the responsibility to point out that the vapid is, indeed, vapid, and to do so directly and honestly. That the feelings of those used to having the privilege of not being questioned on what they choose to label ‘faith’ might be hurt is hardly a sign anyone has betrayed the mantle of ‘logic’. On the contrary, it’s generally a pretty good sign they’re doing it right.

    Possibly, the illogicality of it all (that is attempting to apply the modern scientific paradigm to the question of the existence of God) and the attendant psychological frustration it must cause, may be contribute to the often unbridled anger and churlishness showered on individuals non-discriminately by atheists. This could be likened to a tantrum by a small child unable to perform an act that contradicts the precepts of physics, like pushing a square peg through a round hole…

    (Freud voice on…)

    Tell me about your mother.

    Seriously:

    1) Pop faux-pychoanalysis of those who’ve pointed out the vapidity of the very concept is not going to bring anyone’s god into existence.

    2) … nor answer their criticisms in any particular way.

    3) In fact, science has a great deal of bearing on the existence of gods, purely on the basis that the gods have traditionally been invoked as the causes of natural phenomena for which science has since demonstrated other explanations. We now do not need Odin to make the thunder. It is true that theologians in the modern era have responded to this difficulty by making their gods ever more meaningless and ill-defined, to the point that their neo-Deist ‘god’ could, indeed, just be their rather self-serving name for the physical laws of the universe itself. And here, true, I find, philosophy and mere logic not especially specific to the scientific enterprise tend to have more to say, when said cons do get up to such transparent shenanigans. But what these say is no more complimentary to the theologians that what the more directly empirical sciences do…

    … and either way, it tends to amuse me more than enrage.

    Anyway, sir, be you accomodationist (an unbeliever who wishes to silence others), allow me to answer in kind: the standard pop psychological assessment of your breed is: you have no courage, and are shamed by those who do, and would thus silence them however you can…

    … and be you a believer seeking to weasel around the criticism you face with this laughable heap of non sequiturs and typically loose smears, I won’t bother with pop psychology. As it would follow from that stance and this performance that you’ll say anything to attempt to dissuade others from commenting critically upon your dearly-held superstitions, and your attempts to impugn a merely honest man calling mere nonsense nonsense as a ‘child’ having a ‘tantrum’, is, I’m afraid, about the best I’d ever expect from your craven lot, anyway.

    Either way, I cringe a bit, for you, reading this screed. I do hope, nonetheless, you do eventually grow to the point as a person that you do regret it.

  48. cookieluck says

    I watched Q&A last night thinking I would be disgusted by Pell. Instead, I found Dawkins to be mean, irritable and childish. Bit embarrassing really. I realise he was jet-lagged and that the audience was stacked, but really it was quite awful to watch him go Pell when Pell said humans came from Neanderthals. What does it matter what Pell thinks about that. He isn’t a scientist. He’s a cardinal. He said that he thought it was most probable that humans came from evolution from a species that was not human. What more do you want?

    It also seems to me that Dawkins is essentially anti philosophy. I must admit that I’ve never read his stuff so this is probably not a revelation to others, but it was a revelation to me.

    It’s a sad day when Pell comes out looking like a good guy.

  49. don1 says

    ‘This could be likened to a tantrum by a small child unable to perform an act that contradicts the precepts of physics, like pushing a square peg through a round hole…’

    Or possibly to a bright child calmly asking ‘Why are you pretending this peg fits that hole when it clearly doesn’t?’

  50. anthonycamuglia says

    AJ Milne,

    How does one participate and engage in sensible conversation when the countering side dismisses their opponent’s position as a priori being the excrement of a bovine as you have done in the first line of your response, with a subsequent failure of developing any argument much more sophisticated than this and then capped with your condescending hope that I will ‘grow as a person’? Instead, I leave my arguments as submitted and hope for genuine discussion from other quarters.

    Anthony.

  51. steve oberski says

    @cookieluck

    RCC dogma claims that the story of Adam and Eve, while couched in figurative language, describes a real event. Check it out, it’s in the big book of catlick dogma.

    Given that the RCC is making truth claims about the origin of the human species it is entirely appropriate that Dawkins would take Pell to task for not being honest enough to say he didn’t know and fabricate stories about how our immediate ancestors are Neanderthals.

  52. steve oberski says

    @anthonycamuglia

    But your position is bullshit.

    You offer not one shred of evidence for any of the silly stories your religion has concocted.

    And you insist on the truth of your position in spite of massive evidence to the contrary.

    How can anyone possibly be expected to show respect for such terrible ideas ?

  53. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    @anthonycamuglia

    You breeze in here with a few tired old accusations that have been refuted a thousand times, accusing us of arrogance while being as snarky and lofty and condescending as possible, and then refuse to discuss because someone else isn’t wanting to discuss in your own prissy terms.

    To repeat, your position is bullshit.

  54. says

    Anthony:

    Except, dear, that you haven’t particularly made an argument. You’ve repeated a (now very tired, and endlessly repeated) series of disconnected assertions, and, yes, now painfully cliché, bland, and predictable smears made without discernment or consideration against all vocal unbelievers–the entire performance designed not to ‘discuss’ but, rather, to attempt to distract from discussion. As is generally the forced tactic of those who know too painfully well they could not realistically and honestly defend against the substance of the criticisms offered.

    (/As to your flounce, noted. I regret I must inform inform you I see it as no great loss. We really could replace your kind with a very small shell script. No one would know.)

  55. madbull says

    At 43:33 that look of exasperation on Dawkin’s face, so damn cute. I’m so crazy about this man, lol.

  56. Patricia, OM says

    Thankyou Richard for explaining the page 92 comment of Pell. I had rather suspected Darwin’s remark was due to his regard for his wife’s beliefs. This makes me curious enough to go look for the book at our local library. Evidently Pell has forgotten what his master said about baring false witness.

  57. says

    It’s a sad day when Pell comes out looking like a good guy. –cookieluck

    You must not be someone who cares about other humans, or you must not have actually listened to everything Pell said, otherwise you never would have said that.

  58. says

    How can the atheist movement fail to see that they have turned atheism into a religion in its own right –anthonycamuglia

    How exactly have we done that? What deity do we worship? What doctrine do we follow? What supernatural powers or supernatural being do we believe in on faith? The only way I can see you reaching this conclusion at all is by redefining the word religion until it is meaningless, and then I should ask you what isn’t a religion? Care to support your assertion, Anthony?

  59. heathdunn says

    I am surprised that the audience for Pell was so biased. Any quip, no matter how nonsensical was applauded and harrawed as loudly as possible.

    Dawkins even makes a comment (early on) about assembling a crowd or something to that affect.

    In saying that he was definitely off but jetlag is a funny beast.

  60. steve oberski says

    We really could replace your kind with a very small shell script.

    But such as sad waste of computing power, those CPU cycles could be used much more profitably to the benefit of humankind on say the Folding@Home or other distributed computing projects.

  61. kreativekaos says

    Dawkins may not have been totally on his game, but it makes me smile as I watch how Pell’s ‘train’ really starts to rattle and become de-railed.

    A ‘three on three’ match would have been interesting– watching Myers, Dawkins and Krausse on one side reinforcing the entire gamut of argument, with three theologians in opposition; the theologians would have been dispatched handily.

  62. stringer says

    but really it was quite awful to watch him go Pell when Pell said humans came from Neanderthals. What does it matter what Pell thinks about that. He isn’t a scientist. He’s a cardinal.

    That is the point. This guy rails against science and evolution when he doesn’t have even a cursory knowledge of the subject. Dawkins was perfectly correct in balking at Pell’s Neanderthal comment and his assertion that Natural Selection is a totally random process.

  63. rr says

    anthonycamuglia:

    It [science] is incapable of addressing questions relating to the existence of God, almost by definition.

    If your god causes discernible events, why can’t science study them? If your god does not cause discernible events, how do you know it exists?

  64. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    Seriously, set up an automated scientific experiment–vinegar and baking soda, say–and see if a priest can alter the results.

  65. koliedrus says

    It’s interesting to note that beginning at 11 minutes in, just as Pell was about to invoke Hitler, his nose cast a shadow replicating the infamous mustache.

  66. koliedrus says

    “It [science] is incapable of addressing questions relating to the existence of God, almost by definition.”

    I seem to recall something called the Stockholm syndrome that seems to be both scientifically analyzed and relevant to the existence of gods.

    I also enjoy the bit about “The strong take what they can and the weak give what they must”.

    So, when I go to a church and someone passes me a collection plate, by definition the church is operating precisely on that principle.

    I think science has also covered Mass Delusion (I love that term once a week :) and Psychosis.

    Science has no problem addressing gods.

    Delivery of a cure is what’s difficult.

  67. says

    ‘Science’ in the modern pop culture understanding, and specifically the biological sciences, are but one small rivet in the human quest for truth. It is incapable of addressing questions relating to the existence of God, almost by definition.

    That doesn’t make things better for God, only worse. Things that are unquantifiable, unfalsifiable, non-predictive, etc. aren’t given a free pass because those qualities put them beyond testability – it just makes any concept that fits into that category essentially meaningless in any statements that can be made about it.

    If God isn’t falsified by science, then all the worse for God.

  68. kreativekaos says

    I find it interesting that many of the questions posed during the course of the discussion seemed to me (and presumably many in the atheist/freethinking blogosphere) to be easily addressed and answered by science/rational thinking, but that seemed to go over the head of Pell, or at least were woefully inadequately addressed by him.

  69. says

    ING @66

    I think the book you’re referring to is “This thing of Darkness” by Harry Thompson.

    Cracking book, and a very good fictionalised account of the voyage. It’s just a shame the author died so young.

  70. kreativekaos says

    Ing @ #76:

    I’m surprised that Dawkins did not address (or at least didn’t get a chance to address) the issue of whether or not science has any bearing or anything to say on the existence of God, since that is repeatedly one of Dawkins’ talking points: that the question of the existence of God is very much a scientific question.

  71. cookieluck says

    @Aratina Cage
    “You must not be someone who cares about other humans, or you must not have actually listened to everything Pell said, otherwise you never would have said that.”

    When Pell got onto the holocaust and homosexuals, I was back to disagreeing with him.

    @stringer
    “That is the point. This guy rails against science and evolution when he doesn’t have even a cursory knowledge of the subject. Dawkins was perfectly correct in balking at Pell’s Neanderthal comment and his assertion that Natural Selection is a totally random process.”

    I didn’t hear Pell railing against science and evolution. He said that evolution happens and science is a way of explaining the world. He may not be an expert on science, but quite frankly, who is. Most humans do not have a sophisticated understanding of all the science associated with evolution and the origins of life and the universe.

    I did hear Dawkins saying that “why” is an inappropriate question. That was probably the point at which I thought Dawkins was rude and dismissive of humanity. The question “why” is the key question of science. The question of “why” is at the core of what it means to be human.

  72. says

    But ‘why?’ is a largely wrongheaded question most of the time. The question of ‘why did the dinnosaurs die out?’* only makes sense in it being a question of how it happened. The ‘why’ of it invokes a reason that simply isn’t there. There is no reason to the dinosaurs dying out, only how it happened.

    if why is to have any meaning, it’s not a part of the universe but something we impose onto it. And in that is something far more meaningful, as it’s something created rather than something that’s imposed.

    *nonavian dinosaurs

  73. cookieluck says

    @Kel

    The question “why” is only recently thought of as wrong. From the beginnings of humanity people have questioned why we are here, what purpose there is to life, why does the world exist, why are humans different from other animals. I agree that when you use the lens of science, much of the why questions are answered by “there is no reason”. But that doesn’t make it a wrong question and it does not mean that philosophers, the original scientists, were wrong or misguided to ask it.

    I take Dawkins point, but if he is supposed to be a science communicator, he should learn to sneer less and explain more. I have seen many climate change scientists respectfully and politely address the concerns of sceptics. Dawkins could take a leaf out of their books.

  74. says

    I take Dawkins point, but if he is supposed to be a science communicator, he should learn to sneer less and explain more.

    FFS, you’re an idiot. Richard Dawkins is always unfailingly polite. Just because you and others don’t care for facts and can’t handle the truth if it isn’t candy-coated and wrapped in 60 layers of bubble wrap does not mean Richard Dawkins is running about sneering at theists.

  75. Amphiox says

    If I had a penny for every time someone accused Dawkins of “sneering” for nothing more than telling the truth in the most unfailingly polite way imaginable, I’d be a member of the 1%.

    And quite frankly, those climate scientists need to sneer a little more. Their politeness does nothing but give the climate change deniers a sheen of reflected credibility that they do not deserve. And the whole world is harmed by that.

  76. Amphiox says

    Of course science can answer the question of why. Science, in it’s aggregate, provides the single most profound response to the question of why imaginable. It tells us that we must look not outward, but inward, to find our why. It is our responsibility to create our own why.

  77. consciousness razor says

    The question “why” is only recently thought of as wrong. From the beginnings of humanity people have questioned why we are here, what purpose there is to life, why does the world exist, why are humans different from other animals.

    No, the beginnings of humanity go back much further than a couple thousand years ago with the beginnings of philosophy. You can inflate its importance from that point on if it suits you, but please try making shit up a bit less.

    I agree that when you use the lens of science, much of the why questions are answered by “there is no reason”. But that doesn’t make it a wrong question and it does not mean that philosophers, the original scientists, were wrong or misguided to ask it.

    It doesn’t? What does it entail then?

  78. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @anthonycamuglia

    Yes, we have turned atheism into religion.

    Also, my hobby is not collecting stamps, and my hair colour is bald*.

    *This is true in the same way that George Pell described transubstantiation being of a different reality to that which we can perceive.

    [/snark]

    Demagogery….The way some people in this forum have critiqued Dawkins performance. None have given the adulation that demagoguery would require.
    As for Dawkins idolotry of Darwin….Can you please cite a reference to this, as I have trouble finding such evidence.

    Fundamentalism and illogicality is displayed in the irrational claims laid by some scientists, such as Dawkins, that the study of scientific theories and systems, no matter how detailed and subspecialised, can be translated to give support to theories regarding the existence or non-existence of a deity

    You’ll need to cite some evidence here as well. I think Dawkins has been remarkably clear that it is not possible to prove the lack of deity. Just as Betrand Russell’s teapot is impossible to disprove.

    Fail again.

    The fact that Dawkins is a scientist with a strong intellect and a strong background in biological and evolutionary sciences does nothing to increase his authority to answer questions outside his specific area of scientific expertise over any one else.

    And he said this when posed a (very stupid) question regarding the origin of the universe. He recommended Lawrence Krauss as a better authority on cosmological physics.

    Religion is not science, where you need to be trained & study for years. Religion is something that everyone and no-one is expert in, because it is all about a faith in nothing.

    Fail again.

    Possibly, the illogicality of it all (that is attempting to apply the modern scientific paradigm to the question of the existence of God) and the attendant psychological frustration it must cause, may be contribute to the often unbridled anger and churlishness showered on individuals non-discriminately by atheists.

    Not at all, the only reason for the anger is that theists like yourself & cardinal Pell use your imaginary sky fairy to justify all sorts of despicable acts which remove the human rights of others. If you were to practice your psychobabble in privacy of your own home & not use it to wield political power, then you would find that Atheists would disappear into the background. However, as long as christians, muslims, jews & any other religious group chooses to attempt to enforce their flawed morality on the rest of us, expect us to get angry at you.

    Fail again

    At the same time, the overall process of evolution has predictable elements, so making the overall higher theory of evolution non-random and predictable. Attacking someone whose expertise lies within in area outside of ones’ own is not flattering but is childish and ignorant.

    So you understand evolution better than the cardinal? Not surprising given his intellectual paucity. However, Dawkins explanation was to correct an error that Pell was making. Not only in how evolution works, but he was also misrepresenting Dawkins own view. Go listen to the transcript again, but this time, take off your Catholic spectacles.

    Perhaps you do know more about some areas (I’ll take your word for it) of clinical medicine. I’d expect if you found yourself in a debate with Dawkins & such was the case, he would not debate you head on in your area of expertise in an effort to demonstrate to the audience that his point was valid. That would be foolish. That’s exactly what Pell attempted to do & is why he looked foolish. If you don’t want to be made to look foolish, don’t attempt to tell an expert in a field about their field, unless you are more of an expert.

    So what is Pell’s expertise? Nothing. He has spent his entire life studying his invisible friend. It’s not surprising that he looks foolish when placed on a stage & asked to tells us what he knows.

    Fail again.

    If you are a medical practitioner, then I will avoid you like the plague, you clearly have no critical thinking skills & are as likely to bang fish together over me in an attempt to cure me as to attempt real (you know, sciency) medicine.

    @Cookieluck

    Pell puts himself up as an authority on everything. He deserves to be derided. If you make that comment, then you are clearly already a catholic apologist.

    Also, Dawkins is correct in saying that why is an inappropriate question if applied to existential angst. It is only a useful question when one has a theory as to how a system will behave, runs an experiment and discovers results that do not agree with the theory. “Why” is then very useful, as you can find the root cause of the inconsistency which can lead to either a better theory, or a better experiment.
    Why is the universe here is not useful, because it quite possibly cannot be answered. How can be, but why may well be just because it is.

  79. says

    It may not have been wrong to ask it initially, but that doesn’t mean we should regard the question in the same way now. We know better, and that’s what matters. Why dwell on discarded lines of inquiry?

  80. consciousness razor says

    why we are here,

    Because if we were somewhere else, we would be there. Clearly, this requires a magical super-intelligence.

    what purpose there is to life,

    There isn’t one. The purpose of your life is whatever you want to attain.

    why does the world exist,

    By “world,” do you mean this planet or the universe?

    why are humans different from other animals.

    Evolution.

  81. consciousness razor says

    Ing, if only they would forget it.

    “Oh, sure, science says the questions are stupid. I understand that. But you see, I have this crippling dependency for stupid questions (and selling heroin to children and stabbing prostitutes). So I’m going to ask one more time: if humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?!?”

    *ten years later*

    “Okay, one more time: if humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?!?”

  82. says

    When Pell got onto the holocaust and homosexuals, I was back to disagreeing with him. –cookieluck

    Then he couldn’t have come off as much of a good guy, could he have?

    Why did you even say that? Did you notice that the moderator didn’t even give Dawkins a chance to respond to Pell after giving Pell a personal platform to hate on people? I was livid that they pulled that.

    You just can’t go on saying someone as full of hatred for other humans as Pell is a good guy, especially compared to Dawkins who at most was irritated for being constantly cut off after having to listen to Pell go on and on with hateful rhetoric and mindless drivel.

  83. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Thanks for that Ing… Made me smile.

    One thing I am reminded of is Richard Dawkins’ 1-7 scale, where he places himself as a 6. The exchange in Q&A where he suggested maybe could change his view if an {oversized} Jesus appeared before him & proclaimed himself to be real…. At which point Pell interjected & suggested that he would be delusional.

    I think that if I had evidence of the existance of a “creator of the universe” similar in power to the concept of “god” as defined in various mythologies, I would still maintain that I am atheist. I would see that as just being an entity which is beyond the concept of universe & (if possible) interesting to study & try to understand. I would not see it as something to be worshipped & loved.

    I cannot conceive of anything which would compel me to worship another entity rather than have xenological interest in.

    Threats of death & eternal damnation? That’s just slavery on an extra-dimensional scale. Promises of Nirvana? That’s just capitalism on an extra dimensional scale. I might be induced out of self interest to behave in a manner which would appear to be worshipful, but that is just North Korea on a grander scale. In all cases, I would despise the entity that required such veneration.

    Does that make me a 7 on the scale, I wonder? Defining gods to the dustbin of reality?

  84. consciousness razor says

    Does that make me a 7 on the scale, I wonder? Defining gods to the dustbin of reality?

    Well, not exactly. You’re talking more about having an anti-theist position: the idea that if there were a god (as described in a given religion or any conceivable religion), you would be opposed to it or at least not worship it. That’s different from how certain you are about the existence of a god or gods.

  85. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Wouldn’t the fact that I would see them as just another part of reality (as yet undefined & not understood) reduce them from godhood?

    Taking the point of view of a bacteria in a petri dish, If I could perceive the scientist who cultured me & my “civilisation”, I would see that scientist as just a more intelligent entity, not worthy of worship, (although possibly worthy of fear).

    Not sure that makes me an anti-theist, as that suggests that if there were a god, I would hate it. When in fact, I would not see it as anything more than an entity that I just don’t understand fully.

  86. Amphiox says

    why we are here,

    Wrong question.

    The right question is “why do I ask, ‘why am I here’?”

    what purpose there is to life

    The right question is “why do I want know what purpose there is to life?”

    why does the world exist

    The right question is “why does it matter to me why the world exists?”

    why are humans different from other animals

    The right question is “why do I ask why humans are different, but not why ravens are different*, why dolphins are different, why Portugese Man-of-Wars are different, why anoles are different, than other animals?”

    *or like writing desks.

  87. consciousness razor says

    Wouldn’t the fact that I would see them as just another part of reality (as yet undefined & not understood) reduce them from godhood?

    No, not unless you mean something very particular about “godhood” and “reality,” but it looks circular to me.

    A theist believes a god is real (i.e., part of reality) in the sense that it exists, but not as a physical entity. Likewise, a pantheist can think of a god as all of reality, or the totality of existence (and then some!). So their reality doesn’t exclude them from being gods; reality only excludes them from being fictional, imaginary beings (which gods are, in reality). Hope that makes sense.

  88. says

    IN Q&A, Dawkins explained how some ‘why’ questions are very silly question, but he did ask a why question himself that sounded very meaningless, if not silly. At some point when some people in the auidence laughed, he asked ‘why is this funny’? I didn’t understand ‘why’ he asked that question, because people sometimes do not even know why they laugh. They ust laugh… It surely doesn’t mean they are ‘biased’. Did he miss the support he got, and when people booed the cardinal?

    By the way, I do think Tony Jones, the host, did a good job. He interrupted Dawkins not much, but only a few times. Surely, Dawkins can expect that to happen in a debate. ‘Why’ is he complaining about it????

  89. says

    Actually the right question is “Is that Numberwamg?”

    IN Q&A, Dawkins explained how some ‘why’ questions are very silly question, but he did ask a why question himself that sounded very meaningless, if not silly. At some point when some people in the auidence laughed, he asked ‘why is this funny’? I didn’t understand ‘why’ he asked that question, because people sometimes do not even know why they laugh. They ust laugh… It surely doesn’t mean they are ‘biased’. Did he miss the support he got, and when people booed the cardinal?

    By the way, I do think Tony Jones, the host, did a good job. He interrupted Dawkins not much, but only a few times. Surely, Dawkins can expect that to happen in a debate. ‘Why’ is he complaining about it????

    Oh go fuck yourself.

  90. robster says

    Poor Dawkins looked completely jet lagged. We are a long way away. He still made the effort to get on and have a rather successful go at that silly RC twit, Pell. His church describes Cardinal Pell as an “intellectual”. If Pell’s the best they’ve got, we can’t fail to win. The silliest thing I found about the show was when the audience laughed at unfunny comments, Dawkins was even forced to ask at one point “what’s so funny…” The poll was good news though. Less than 9% of Aussies go to a worship service once a month or more, so Pells prattling nonsense really means very little to the vast majority of Australians.

  91. coralline says

    Oh, good. I’m glad to see that someone else thought of a Mitchell and Webb sketch.

  92. cookieluck says

    @Caine, Cruel Monster-

    FFS, you’re an idiot. Richard Dawkins is always unfailingly polite. Just because you and others don’t care for facts and can’t handle the truth if it isn’t candy-coated and wrapped in 60 layers of bubble wrap does not mean Richard Dawkins is running about sneering at theists.

    Wow, you need a bit of anger management!

    Dawkins is NOT polite. Sorry, but he just isn’t. Neither are you BTW.

    @Ing: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream So I Comment Instead
    “Scientists you pig fucking proud philistine ignorant!”

    Wow, another cranky pants. Is there something in the water here?

    of course SOME scientists understand the entire scientific perspective on evolution and the origins of the universe. But not all of them do. Science is by its nature full of areas of speciality. Not every scientist understands or knows all about every area of science. Does a mycologist know all about the theories of the origins of the universe? Does a physicist understand everything about mycology? of course not and neither should they. Don’t forget, the general public, whose scientific understanding is limited, understands even less.

    I thought Dawkins was going to try and explain things to make them accessible to people who are NOT scientists. If that was what he was trying to do, he failed miserably. In fact, he came across as not understanding the material himself, which was a little unfortunate. I’m sure that had something to do with the jetlag.

    I was disappointed that he really didn’t explain the scientific view of the beginnings of the universe or the latest thinking on what came before the beginning. If Dawkins was more like Dr Karl he would be a lot more persuasive, and a lot less divisive.

    But from the appearances of some of the debate here on this forum, the Dawkins approach is alive and well and embraced by many.

    Just so you realise, this approach does actually come across as elitist. In fact, Dawkins made Cardinal Pell appear reasonable. That is one heck of a feat!

    Don’t you want to try and inform as many people as possible of the God Delusion? It’s not going to work if the atheists couch themselves as the elite intellectual class. Science should NOT be elitist. And to present it as such denies science to the masses.

  93. says

    “The silliest thing I found about the show was when the audience laughed at unfunny comments, Dawkins was even forced to ask at one point “what’s so funny…””

    I think it is obvious those ‘unfunny’ comments were not ‘unfunny’ to them, which is why they laughed. When people in audience booed the cardinal, he just said ‘thank you’. He might as well have asked them a similar question: ‘Why are you booing me’???

  94. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Cookieluck,

    Dawkins did not make Pell look reasonable. Pell looked stupid and ignorant.

    Dawkins was polite as could be expected given the company he was in. You are like the usual theist apologist that is happy for religious people to engage in all sorts of reprehensible behaviour, whilst smiling, but jump on the atheist who disagrees with you and calls them rude & elitist.

    I think you are what is normally called a tone troll around these parts.

    If you don’t like people being rude to you, then I suggest you go back to the church you crawled out of and embrace the love of the imaginary sky fairy, whilst your human rights are stripped from you one by one.

    Around here, you are likely to get the odd rude word pointed in your direction.

  95. cookieluck says

    @Aratina Cage

    “Then he couldn’t have come off as much of a good guy, could he have?

    Why did you even say that? Did you notice that the moderator didn’t even give Dawkins a chance to respond to Pell after giving Pell a personal platform to hate on people? I was livid that they pulled that.

    You just can’t go on saying someone as full of hatred for other humans as Pell is a good guy, especially compared to Dawkins who at most was irritated for being constantly cut off after having to listen to Pell go on and on with hateful rhetoric and mindless drivel.”

    The “moderator” has a name. He is Tony Jones and is a well respected TV journalist in Australia. I saw him attempting to control the debate and make sure that all the questions that were lined up were answered. It was TV. There is a structure and format that has to be taken into account. Have you ever watched Q&A before? I guess you probably haven’t.

    I have looked around some of the commentary about this Q&A. The Catholics are saying Tony Jones favoured Dawkins and the Dawkins boosters are saying Jones favoured Pell. I thought he did a pretty good job of dealing fairly with both sides.

    Pell came off looking like a good guy because he never dismissed Dawkins. He took the position that science and Catholicism can coexist and they both have a place. He did not damn atheists to hell. He did not insist on a literal translation of the Bible. He said humans evolved from other species.

    Pell is not filled with hatred. I think his thinking and approach to many things is totally flawed, but I think it is empty rhetoric to say he is full of hate.

  96. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Pell is not filled with hatred. I think his thinking and approach to many things is totally flawed, but I think it is empty rhetoric to say he is full of hate

    Then you aren’t familiar with Pell?

    You missed the anti semitic comment?

    You missed the homophobia?

    You missed the dismissal of Dawkins’ life work, with a disparaging wave of the hand & complete disinterest in knowing the truth of the origin of the species Homo S Sapiens?

    What a curious definition of “hate” you have.

  97. says

    @cookieluck:

    I agree. The show and the audience were fairly balanced. If Dawkins was expecting a one-sided support favouring only him, then I can understand why he is so disappointed.

  98. John Morales says

    [having watched]

    Pell was avuncular; Dawkins was perfunctory.

    (Still no contest)

  99. cookieluck says

    @Catnip, Not a Polymath

    I am so not a Catholic apologist! I am not a Catholic and I am not a Christian. I am currently studying to be a high school science teacher and am very interested in communicating the truths of science and in promoting scientific literacy.

    I guess this is why I was so disappointed in the Q&A program. I was really hoping for some good material to be able to use for education purposes.

    This is why I perceived Dawkins as elitist. I passionately believe that scientific literacy is a crucial part of education. I would have thought that a forum like Q&A was a perfect opportunity to educate people. Opportunity lost.

    You may want to believe I’m a troll. But just cause you believe it don’t mean it’s true!

  100. says

    I have no opinion on the tone trolling question, because I haven’t watched the video. If Pell came off looking good, I agree that’s a bad thing, but it does seem quite possible. Religious leaders, like all good con artists, have to put on a good facade at times.

    But there’s an annoying inconsistency here. If Dawkins gets to be called “polite” just for using good manners and clean language, then so do all those super-annoying Christians who wish you a nice day while threatening you with hellfire in nice clean language and tones of kindly regret. But we don’t generally think it’s polite for Xians to threaten us, no matter how sweet their language.

    I don’t think that Dawkins is “polite”. Telling people that their religion is dead wrong and stupid is surely true, but it’s not polite, no matter how nicely you phrase it. Dawkins is correct, and he’s also well-spoken, and well-mannered, and he’s not “screechy” or “shrill” or whatever the theists like to say. But he’s not stupid; he has to know that he’s violating social conventions. He aims to misbehave, and good on him for that.

  101. No One says

    Richard Dawkins @ 11

    Richard,

    One of the strongest arguments I have for “morality & purpose” without god is the documentary “Nice guys finish first”. Please consider revisiting the subject (a sequel?). Brush it off and use it, it is a very strong bit of persuasion in my opinion.

  102. cookieluck says

    @Alethea H. Claw

    Pell seemed to intimate that hell contained Hitler and that’s about it!

    You can tell someone your beliefs and understanding without being impolite. It is possible. I am a great believer in politeness. Perhaps that’s because I have three young children and so it’s a big priority in our house. I used to think being polite was just about obeying social conventions and that it was unnecessary. Then I grew up and realised it is there for a reason. It’s like social grease and a lubricated life is easier to lead than an abrasive one.

    I think you are right in that Dawkins wants to be seen as misbehaving. I guess by stirring things up and acting as he does he gets more media coverage. It got him onto Q&A for a start.

  103. says

    Dawkins is NOT polite. Sorry, but he just isn’t. Neither are you BTW. –cookieluck

    I suppose being POLITE is so much more important than being a “good guy”. So, what flavor of cupcake is this, Caine? I can’t wait to hear about it!

    The “moderator” has a name.

    Oh-oh. Is that you, cookieluck?

    He is Tony Jones and is a well respected TV journalist in Australia.

    *yawn*

    I saw him attempting to control the debate and make sure that all the questions that were lined up were answered.

    And that the bigot got to wax on about how superior he is to everyone else.

    It was TV.

    *yawn*

    There is a structure and format that has to be taken into account. Have you ever watched Q&A before? I guess you probably haven’t.

    *yawn* What in the Spam is all of this? Your pitiful excuses for a shitty moderating job?

    I have looked around some of the commentary about this Q&A. The Catholics are saying Tony Jones favoured Dawkins and the Dawkins boosters are saying Jones favoured Pell. I thought he did a pretty good job of dealing fairly with both sides.

    I didn’t say he favored one or the other. He did a piss-poor job of it by getting in the way of Dawkins responding forcefully to that blowhard bigot, Pell.

    Pell came off looking like a good guy because he never dismissed Dawkins.

    Do you want a cookie or something? Why the fuck are you calling Pell a good guy? He is not in any way a good person.

    He took the position that science and Catholicism can coexist and they both have a place.

    Well, they can’t. It’s a naive position to take, and of course you would expect a Catholic bigot to take it.

    He did not damn atheists to hell.

    All atheists? Really? You didn’t listen to a fucking thing Pell said, then. And how lovely of you to pretend all of us gay and bi and trans atheists don’t exist.

    He did not insist on a literal translation of the Bible. He said humans evolved from other species.

    Oh, can it! It doesn’t matter that he stumbled around in the (mental) dark blabbing about evolution.

    Pell is not filled with hatred.

    I have no reasons to believe you, and plenty of evidence saying otherwise.

    I think his thinking and approach to many things is totally flawed, but I think it is empty rhetoric to say he is full of hate.

    I think it is empty-headed to say he is not.

  104. No One says

    …and one more observation; “survival of the fittest” has nothing to do with who is the strongest. Let’s not concede ground on this folks. Social Darwinism is not part of TOE.

  105. cookieluck says

    @Aratina Cage

    Really, really cranky!

    Please see my previous post about the role of politeness in society.

    You’d probably get more of what you want if you were a bit less rude and more coherent.

  106. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    cookieluck, a pissant, wrote:

    Please see my previous post about the role of politeness in society.

    Please take your head out of your ass and start using what’s inside of it to think with.

    You’d probably get more of what you want if you were a bit less rude and more coherent.

    You’re certainly going to get more of what you deserve if you keep saying stupid things like that.

  107. says

    Aratina Cage:

    So, what flavor of cupcake is this, Caine? I can’t wait to hear about it!

    Oh, I’d say it would have been one of the specials*, but we’ll never know as it doesn’t seem to have been baked all the way through. Gooey, gummy batter on the inside. Ugh.

    *Too much icing made with too much sugar with a poison filling.

    Hey, Cupcake Cookie – I wasn’t making the slightest attempt at being polite to you. Why should I bother? You’re an obvious fuckwit who doesn’t even have two braincells to rub together. If you don’t like that, try using your brain for once in your life.

  108. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I’ll repeat for you cookieluck:

    I said Dawkins was as polite as could be expected given the company he was in

    I also said that you were like the catholic apologist, not that you were one. What you are becomes irrelevent given that you are appearing as such. You may want, in light of that, to consider what you are saying more carefully.

    Pell did not appear smarter, more intelligent nor nicer than Dawkins. He appeared on par for politeness (as little importance as that actually holds), he was clueless on evolution, he was magnanimous about atheists being let into his heaven (don’t believe him, he’s what we generally call a liar. Remember how the catholic heirarchy has lied over the years about its priests raping children. I’m sure in his heart he does not belive that atheists will be allowed into his imaginary heaven if they have lived life in a way that doesn’t conform to catholic teachings – eg, no gays, no sluts, no divorcees, no wrong thinking people)

    Politeness might be useful with individuals to help make interactions smoother. “Please may I have….Thank you….etc” within the home & at the local shops

    Politeness does persuade many people when you are attempting to change society. Politeness, waiting for one’s turn to talk just means that you never get to talk. Explaining to people sciencey things, when they are laughing & giggling, is not helped by being overly polite.

    If you are planning to be a science teacher, then I suggest an episode of Q&A is not a really good resource anyway. I’d suggest finding some good, well made & acurrate documentaries. Oh, and try being polite (by the same standard you apply to Dawkins) to all those students you attempt to teach that humans are not decended from Neanderthals.

  109. consciousness razor says

    Really, really cranky!

    Cranks make me cranky. In other words, go fuck yourself.

    Please see my previous post about the role of politeness in society.

    Noted. Would you care to explain the role of bullshit in society?

    You’d probably get more of what you want if you were a bit less rude and more coherent.

    Probably not, since I don’t want to suck up to shit-eating troglodytes like yourself. And I see nothing incoherent in Aratina Cage’s comments. Care to back that assertion up with something, or are you here to troll?

  110. says

    You’d probably get more of what you want if you were a bit less rude and more coherent.

    Goodness, you’re just extra…dense, aren’t you, Sugarbrain? You don’t seem to have the slightest idea of where you are. Well, let me put on my Courtesy Hat™ and help you out a little, seeing as you’re hard of thinking. Pharyngula has Standards & Practices. Now, try clicking the link (the bit in blue) and you can read the whole thing for yourself (You’re responsible for comprehending it, I’m afraid.) I’ll just copypasta a bit of it.

    This blog has been around for about 8 years and has a horde of active commenters, and the whole bloody mob has shaped expectations for what is in-group behavior and what is out-group behavior. Pay attention to the culture here.

    This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.

    We do have a general guideline for handling new people. If you’re a first time commenter, you get three strikes: you can make three comments, and the regulars are supposed to restrain themselves and try to get you to engage rationally before they are allowed to release the rabid hounds. They are hoping you will oblige them and give them an excuse to let slip the leash, so be warned.

    What happens if you violate the mores? Mostly nothing, except that you antagonize a notoriously ruthless commentariat. I may be the ultimate overlord, but I’m mostly benignly lazy, and I’m usually content to allow the other readers to make this an uncomfortable place for you. If you aren’t having a pleasant experience here, why are you hanging around?

  111. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Erratum:

    Self:

    Politeness does NOT persuade many people when you are attempting to change society

    Fuk

  112. says

    @Aratina Cage

    Really, really cranky! –cookieluck

    A textbook example of how being polite can be nastier than not being polite.

    Please see my previous post about the role of politeness in society.

    You mean the one where you said that we should all be more like… Dr. Karl? Please, don’t make me laugh.

    You’d probably get more of what you want if you were a bit less rude and more coherent.

    *blink* *blink*
    What does that have to do with your hideously false portrayal of Pell as the “good guy”?

  113. benfromca says

    This wasn’t a debate – it was a rout! Pell had nothing but wiffle balls to lob at Dawkins. He didn’t deserve to be at the same podium! But as dull witted as the Pell was, Dawkins could have been silent the entire time and the Bishop would have lynched himself! You have to be truly STUPID to go to that man for any kind of guidance – spiritual or otherwise.

  114. says

    Oh, I’d say it would have been one of the specials*, but we’ll never know as it doesn’t seem to have been baked all the way through. Gooey, gummy batter on the inside. Ugh.

    Ah, yesss! Your classification of this specimen is just as wonderfully funny as I had hoped it would be. Thank you, Caine.

  115. says

    Aratina Cage:

    And how lovely of you to pretend all of us gay and bi and trans atheists don’t exist.

    Of course we don’t exist, you know that! We’re utterly impossible.

  116. consciousness razor says

    Wait… not Carl Sagan, right?

    Fun fact: Every day, I ask myself “What Would Sagan Do?” and this is it.

  117. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Aratina Cage:

    And how lovely of you to pretend all of us gay and bi and trans atheists don’t exist.

    Of course we don’t exist, you know that! We’re utterly impossible.

    That’s part of the same reality that Pell’s wafers & wine turn into the blood & body, but don’t look or taste any different, right? Right?

    I’m starting to get the hang of this meta physical shit!

    Or is it the anti-reality?

  118. cookieluck says

    @Caine, Cruel Monster

    Thanks for the update on the rules. Always good to know.

    I get it, you guys are cranky, swear a lot and don’t have much time for people who disagree with your basic position. Fair enough, your playground, your ball, your rules.

    FWIW, I wasn’t “whining” about the rudeness, just pointing it out. I’m a big girl and don’t get hurt or offended by rudeness, I just find it a unnecessary and a bit immature. This is a space that doesn’t share that point of view. Message received loud and clear.

    @Catnip, Not a Polymath

    I disagree strongly that a program like Q&A is not a good potential resource for high school students. Showing kids the relevance of science to current affairs and the real world is the best way to educate. It’s best practise pedagogy.

    And I do intend to be polite to students. Why wouldn’t I be? What would be the point in being anything otherwise?

  119. Snoof says

    BTW, who the fuck is “Dr. Karl”?

    Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. Australian. Nobody can pronounce his surname, so he’s referred as “Dr Karl”. Writes reasonably entertaining popular science books, appears on radio shows and TV programs, occasionally does his own TV shows.

    Pretty decent at getting kids enthused about science. Never seen him in the arena with creationist stupidity.

  120. says

    Also politeness as a pancea is a moronic idea. Politeness is great for when I intend to get along with someone. With friends, co-workers, professors I admire.

    Here however, I am not looking to hold hands and be your special friend. I am ideally hoping something I say is either provocative or at least makes you uncomfortable because the religious have too easy a time and get too many breaks. All of society already coddles you, my job is to make little corners of the blogosphere grating.

  121. says

    CR:

    BTW, who the fuck is “Dr. Karl”?

    I have no idea. I’m afraid it might be a version of the ever odious non-Dr.Phil. Hmmm, it might be this person:

    One of Kruszelnicki’s more notable undertakings was his part in a research project on belly button fluff, for which he received an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002. He received the Australian Father of the Year award in 2003. In the 2006 Honours list, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

    In 2012, Kruszelnicki was named as a National Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

  122. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I met him once at a book signing event in “The Glen” shopping centre in Melbourne’s suburbs. He was actually a bit of a pratt & my young children came away confused & saddened that their science “hero” of the time turned out to be so.

  123. says

    @consciousness razor

    BTW, who the fuck is “Dr. Karl”?

    I don’t know, that’s what is so funny to me about it:

    “If only Dawkins could have been more like Dr. _______!”


    @Caine

    Anything for you. ♥

    Aw, thanks! *blush*

  124. says

    Dr Karl is an Australian popular science presenter, mostly on radio, with some TV and quite a lot of books to his name. He does good stuff, and is usually quite well-mannered, though I wouldn’t have picked him as some exemplar of politeness. He’s an Aussie bloke, and typically plainspoken, but he aims a lot of his work at kids so there’s not much swearing. See ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Kruszelnicki

    On the front page here his latest piece is titled “Why firewalking is a fraud”. He says “It’s not a higher state of spiritual awareness that protects you from blisters — it’s basic high school thermodynamics.

    So if somebody tries to take your money for firewalking, ask them to prove that they have something really special to offer. Ask them to walk on a hot steel plate — it might not be such a cake walk, after all!”

    I ask you, is that polite? Won’t somebody think of the feelings of the poor firewalkers!?

  125. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    This is a space that doesn’t share that point of view. Message received loud and clear.

    Jesus fucking Christ, are you still whining?
    What a worthless waste of time.

  126. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    cookieluck, truly, why in the fuck do you think we care? Why do you think you have anything to fucking offer here?

  127. No One says

    For the tone trolls:

    GEORGE PELL:

    I’ll tell you and I’ve just explained what the bodily resurrection means to the extent that I can understand it. I certainly believe that when the words of consecration are uttered that they become the body and blood of Christ. Now, I have had a little kid come up to me when that was explained and say, “Can I have a look in the challis and see if it has turned to blood?” Of course it hasn’t. We don’t believe that. It’s not against reason. I believe it because I believe the man who told us that was also the son of God. He says, “This is my body. This is my blood,” and I’d much prefer to listen to him and take his word than yours.

    Yep. The wine has not turned into blood that we can see. But it is blood. Because I say so. “It’s not against reason”.

    Let’s be polite to this abusive criminal who teaches children to accept lies because they come from authority figures.

    Being polite is what pedophiles (he buggered that childs’ brain) like this depend on to get away with this shit.

  128. says

    So cookieluck, how do you define politeness? Is it [A] using “clean” language and not directly insulting someone by calling them names? (In which case, Dawkins is polite.) Is it [B] avoiding controversial topics that may cause conflict, like the traditional trio of sex, politics and religion? (In which case, Dawkins is not polite.) Or some other definition?

    Because so far you seem to be saying Dawkins is not polite-B which is wrong because polite-A is so important! How about you clarify your position here?

  129. says

    So George Washington was being polite when he opted to retire from the presidency after two terms, is that it? What hogwash.

    Telling people to be more polite as if it is the foundation of all that is civil is just another way of telling people to shut up and take the abuse. It’s a great philosophy for a privileged authoritarian bully who doesn’t like their beliefs and behaviors being questioned.

  130. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Cookieluck, do you think that’s polite, you childish, stupid hypocrite? To lie to me about my own motivations? I don’t give two fucks about your dumbass tone trolling. I just marvel at the extent of the self-righteousness that would lead you to spend so much energy lecturing people who don’t give a fraction of a fuck what you has to say.

  131. says

    And politely observing the rules of the game by softly backhanding your opponent with your glove hardly helps you win when your opponent puts a brick in their glove to backhand you with!

  132. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @cookieluck

    If you apply the same politeness test to your dealings with your future students that you apply to Richard Dawkins in Monday’s Q&A, then I predict you will be eaten alive.

    First rule of pedagogy is to engage them, and never let them run the class. I have known enough teachers & educators to know that politeness is fine when people are engaged & respect you, but you have to earn that respect. And school aged kids don’t always get politeness. You have to insist on it & if you are applying your “Richard Dawkins is not polite” standard, then you won’t manage it.

    If you haven’t yet stood in front of a class, then you haven’t a clue.

    And quite frankly, if you think that the Q&A was designed as a resource for budding science teachers, then you really need to get out more.

  133. No One says

    … and to finish my thought. The shaman (George Pell) is destroying rational thought and installing a Trojan horse in the childs mind that others will take advantage of in the future. Talk about setting people up for the strong to take what they want. He fucking perpetrates it. Hitch was right. Religion poisons everything.

  134. cookieluck says

    Let’s be polite to this abusive criminal who teaches children to accept lies because they come from authority figures.

    Being polite is what pedophiles (he buggered that childs’ brain) like this depend on to get away with this shit.

    You can’t honestly say Pell is an abusive criminal and a paedophile because of that! How offensive to people who have been really attacked by real paedophiles.

  135. consciousness razor says

    Pell’s rambling “politely” about hell:

    GEORGE PELL: Thank you. Preparing them for the first communion and they were very patriotic young lads and one of them announced very breezily to me that he didn’t believe in hell and I mean certainly the idea of any child being sent to hell, I agree that that is grotesque and that’s not the Christian God but, anyhow, I said to this kid – I said simply “Hitler. You think Hitler might be in hell? Started the Second World War, caused the death of 50 million or would you prefer a system where Hitler got away with it for free?” Anyhow the little kid was quite patriotic and he said, “Mm.” He realised hell was in with a chance if Hitler was going to go there.

    TONY JONES: What about a system where he was obliterated and didn’t exist anymore?

    GEORGE PELL: Well, he would have got away with too much, as far as I am concerned.

    TONY JONES: So you actually – well, prefer the idea of hell as a place of punishment for – but for who? Where do you draw the line? Do unbelievers go to hell?

    GEORGE PELL: No. No. No. The only people – well, one – I hope nobody is in hell. We Catholics generally believe that there is a hell. I hope nobody is there. I certainly believe in a place of purification. I think it will be like getting up in the morning and you throw the curtains back and the light is just too much. God’s light would be too much for us. But I believe on behalf of the innocent victims in history that the scales of justice should work out. And if they don’t, life is radically unjust, the law of the jungle prevails.

    TONY JONES: Okay, I’m just going to go to our next question which we can respond to some of the issues through that. It is a video question. It comes from Mick Walsh in Nyngan, New South Wales.

    So he thinks Hitler wouldn’t suffer enough if there weren’t a hell; but oh heavens no, of course he hopes nobody is in hell. Fucking idiot can’t even stick to one lie at a time.

  136. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Oh cookieluck, you do agree that he’s a pedophile. Stop pretending you don’t.

  137. Amphiox says

    “Politeness” means being quiet, deferring to your social betters, and not rocking the boat.

    “Politeness” is the first tool of the tyrant.

  138. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @cookieluck

    Pell is the most senior Catholic Cleric in the Catholic Church in Australia, and a Cardinal to boot.

    Are you suggesting he had no knowledge of the strategy to move paedophile priests from parish to parish to avoid the controversy?

    I find that impolite

  139. cookieluck says

    @catnip

    Have you stood in front of a class lately?

    Nope? I have done a bit of teaching already and I find that a classroom based on mutual respect where teachers and students know their roles and treat each other politely works pretty well.

  140. says

    I think people here are furious because Dawkins performed below average. They can’t admit that. So, it is the biased audience, the stupid cardinal, and the interrupting host they are trying to blame here.

  141. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    mutual respect where teachers and students know their roles

    How did you get there?

    What did you do with the un motivated slob who just wanted to disrupt?

    Did you politely ask hir to stop talking and pay attention?

  142. says

    It’s really a hoot how badly cookieluck screwed up by pointing to Dr. Karl as the patron saint of Politeness. Asking firewalkers to trade their hot coals for hot steel plates is precisely the kind of politeness Dawkins has always used to great effect, including his promotion of Intelligent Falling and the Stork Theory as challenges to the theory of gravity and the theory of sexual reproduction respectively.

    cookieluck, you FAIL!

  143. cookieluck says

    @Catnip, Not a Polymath

    Pell is the most senior Catholic Cleric in the Catholic Church in Australia, and a Cardinal to boot.

    Are you suggesting he had no knowledge of the strategy to move paedophile priests from parish to parish to avoid the controversy?

    I find that impolite

    On those grounds, he is totally culpable. He and other senior figures in the Catholic Church have facilitated paedophiles for years and are responsible for protecting priests and hurting kids.

    But he is not a paedophile for telling kids about transubstantiation.

  144. No One says

    cookieluck @161

    Let’s pretend I apologized for calling Pell a “mental pedophile” (commonly know as a mind-fuck stateside). Could you kindly respond to my assertion that he’s setting the child up to buy undercoats from car salesmen?

  145. consciousness razor says

    I have to repeat this:

    And if they don’t, life is radically unjust, the law of the jungle prevails.

    According to Pell, secular ethics is the law of the jungle. This lying sack of shit is spewing some of the most evil garbage imaginable, and you want politeness? You think he comes off as the good guy? Fuck you.

  146. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Rajkumar,

    Please go back and read the comments again. You will see that most commenters have acknowledged Dawkins was not in his best form.

    There is no blame to be assigned, just fools like you who did not see the cardinals pathetic performance for what it was. Pathetic.

    but then, the material he was working with was pretty poor too

    I for one am not furious. Why should I be? I think some opportunities were missed for taking apart a vile snake of a man, but so what? his performance in front of the wider Australian audience still highlights that the man is an idiot. A vile idiot, but then, what’s to be expected from Catholic heirarchy?

  147. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    And after you’re done responding to No One, let’s hear how polite you think it is to tell people they’re lying about their own motivations. See, I have no problem doing that, because I don’t give a microfuck about politeness, but I’d really like to hear how a self-righteous, blithering fuck like you justifies such overt rudeness.

  148. cookieluck says

    How did you get there?

    What did you do with the un motivated slob who just wanted to disrupt?

    Did you politely ask hir to stop talking and pay attention?

    You looking for my trade secrets now Catnip?

    Classroom management is an art form and each teacher uses their own approach. One thing I try not to do is to automatically blame the student when they are talking and not paying attention.

    The first things you do is look at yourself and see if there is a better way you can approach things.

    Also, I use classroom rules. if kids break the rules, you remind them on the rules and consequences and then if they continue to break the rules you implement the consequences.

  149. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @cookieluck

    I think No One was suggesting that teaching horse shit to kids leaves them vulnerable to all sorts of things, such as paedophile priests.

    On that basis, he is correct. It is a form of child abuse.

    You acknowledge that he is culpable by proxy for supporting the heirarchy that made it possible.

    Therefore, No One is justified in implying that Cardinal Pell is a paedophile by proxy

  150. says

    Amphiox:

    “Politeness” means being quiet, deferring to your social betters, and not rocking the boat.

    “Politeness” is the first tool of the tyrant.

    Yes. This. This is why I say that Dawkins is *not* polite, and so much the better for him. It’s quite orthogonal to the idea of being well-spoken – no swearwords, no direct insults, no shouting. Dawkins can do that one just fine.

    @consciousness razor, is there a transcript?

  151. consciousness razor says

    Classroom management is an art form and each teacher uses their own approach. One thing I try not to do is to automatically blame the student when they are talking and not paying attention.

    First, what the fuck does this have to do with anything in this discussion?

    Second, you said this:

    I am currently studying to be a high school science teacher

    So are you already teaching, and if so, for how long? And why is this relevant to situations outside a classroom, assuming for the sake of argument that anyone should treat you as authority?

  152. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Classroom management is a trade secret is it?

    No, I’m not trying to steal your “trade secrets”

    If I were going attempt to learn more about classroom management, I would seek out teachers that I have respect for & you have not yet demonstrated that you have anything to teach me.

    Every good teacher that I have known has been more than willing to share classroom management techniques. Are you sure you have something that might be of value?

  153. cookieluck says

    @no one

    Let’s pretend I apologized for calling Pell a “mental pedophile” (commonly know as a mind-fuck stateside). Could you kindly respond to my assertion that he’s setting the child up to buy undercoats from car salesmen?

    Kids believe received truths. However, I think all adults have the ability to question what they are told. As kids mature into adults, their ability to question received truth grows.

    Although when I see the way advertising operates I do question this idea! I think the way to ensure people have the ability to come to their own conclusions in a well thought out rational way is through a decent education

  154. cookieluck says

    @catnip

    Every good teacher that I have known has been more than willing to share classroom management techniques. Are you sure you have something that might be of value?

    I DID share what I do.

    Perhaps go back and read it again

  155. No One says

    cookieluck @ 181

    I’m sorry… “received truths”. What kind of mealy mouthed corporate double speak is that? Perceived truth I could understand. But if you think that kids’ll figure it out on their own when they become adults and everything will be milk and cookies, you are in for some very hard knocks.

  156. cookieluck says

    @consciousness razor

    So are you already teaching, and if so, for how long? And why is this relevant to situations outside a classroom, assuming for the sake of argument that anyone should treat you as authority?

    I didn’t know you were so interested in me. Shucks.

    I am studying and have completed a prac. I also spent some time teaching on all matters to do with food at the primary level before I decided to get quals and move to High School education.

  157. cookieluck says

    @no one

    I’m sorry… “received truths”. What kind of mealy mouthed corporate double speak is that? Perceived truth I could understand. But if you think that kids’ll figure it out on their own when they become adults and everything will be milk and cookies, you are in for some very hard knocks.

    Surely you can work this one out for yourself? No?

    A received truth is when kids believe things because authority figures tell them they are true.

    Not everyone works things out for themselves. but the church has a pretty bad track record on keeping people in the church, so you have to think somewhere along the line, adults are questioning and coming up with their own answers.

  158. cookieluck says

    I think you can have a scientific received truth.

    e.g. telling kids about how babies are conceived. They believe it because you tell them, not because they are given evidence to prove that it’s true.

  159. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I DID share what I do.

    Perhaps go back and read it again

    So you did. Sorry, I thought there was more to it than that. Mea Culpa.

  160. No One says

    cookieluck @ 187

    A received truth is when kids believe things because authority figures tell them they are true.

    Not everyone works things out for themselves. but the church has a pretty bad track record on keeping people in the church, so you have to think somewhere along the line, adults are questioning and coming up with their own answers.

    Just as I thought. A received truth could be false, whether by design or ignorance. It’s a bullshit term giving false equivalence to all ideas. Why should children be handicapped with crap to begin with? Stateside we have a man who is poised to run in a Presidential election whose religion teaches them to wear magic underwear. Mind you he’s a greedy bastard, so he probably won’t press the shiny red button. But who knows what kind of irrational thinking has been burned into his neurons that he has no control over?

  161. says

    Pell certainly was a maundering ignoramus, but I was most annoyed at the moderator for jumping in, derailing Prof. Dawkins’ attempts to answer, mis-stating what had just been said and putting words in people’s mouths.

    Re stacking the audience: it’s certainly odd how quick conservatives are to lie and cheat to get their way.

  162. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Cookieluck, I’m still waiting on an explanation for your rudeness.
    It’s not polite to keep people waiting.

  163. says

    Thanks, consciousness razor.

    I’ve only skimmed, but I don’t see Pell coming off very badly there. He waffled a lot, but so did Dawkins. And Pell said a lot of nasty stuff, but in a sly manner that you will only see if you’re clued-in enough to know the code words and recognise the twisty vocabulary. The homophobia and anti-semitism are there, for sure, but sugar coated and obfuscated for the punters.

    Always remember: these people are good at being con-artists. They’ve had lots and lots of practice at looking nice.

  164. cookieluck says

    @no one

    Just as I thought. A received truth could be false, whether by design or ignorance. It’s a bullshit term giving false equivalence to all ideas. Why should children be handicapped with crap to begin with? Stateside we have a man who is poised to run in a Presidential election whose religion teaches them to wear magic underwear. Mind you he’s a greedy bastard, so he probably won’t press the shiny red button. But who knows what kind of irrational thinking has been burned into his neurons that he has no control over?

    It is a descriptive term to distinguish between a truth that comes about from reasoning and intelligence versus a piece of information presented as fact by an authority figure.

    As I said, I think it is possible to have a scientific received truth. In fact, I would guess that most scientific facts that people rely on are received truths. The majority of people believe that the Earth goes round the Sun without properly understanding the scientific evidence that proves this.

    Also, I’m not sure that irrational thinking can be burned into one’s neurons. Do you have any evidence to back this up or are you just spouting received truths?

  165. cookieluck says

    @Cassandra

    Cookieluck, I’m still waiting on an explanation for your rudeness.
    It’s not polite to keep people waiting.

    I apologise if you interpreted my attempt at humour as being impolite. I thought a smart thing like yourself would recognise some gentle joshing.

    Once again, please accept my sincere apology and I’ll try not to confuse you with humour again

  166. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    try not to confuse you with humour again

    See? Again. Condescending and rude.
    You are really bad at following your own advice.

  167. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    I’m a hypocritical bitch

    Well, I wouldn’t say that. You’re a hypocritical fucking asshole.

  168. cookieluck says

    Perhaps politeness is a continuum from very polite to very impolite. You gotta say I’m playing more at the polite end than the impolite end.

  169. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    As has been pointed out by others, that’s because accusations of being impolite are usually directed at those who you wish to stop telling you things you don’t want to hear.

    “Please father, I don’t want your willy in my bottom, it hurts me”

    “Now, now, you know it’s not polite to say no to me. Also, don’t tell your mummy, as that would not be polite conversation to have with her…”

  170. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Oh, sure. When you want to justify your own shitty behavior, it’s all gray area.

  171. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    That’s Father with a Capital F.

    With a dog collar on…..

    Just to clarify….

  172. cookieluck says

    Catnip.

    Do you really think politeness is used to abuse and control people the way you stated?

    I find that very hard to believe.

    Politeness is based on the concept of treating the other with respect. Your example is all kinds of wrong

  173. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    From all this, I conclude that impoliteness=/= correlated with convincing argument

  174. 'Tis Himself says

    I don’t care if people are polite or not. I care if they’re telling the truth or not.

  175. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Do you really think politeness is used to abuse and control people the way you stated?

    Yep!
    Well, I do, at least. In fact, I have direct experience with abusive people using the expectation of “politeness” to gain an advantage so that they could continue to cause harm to me. And secondarily, about a million (EXACT FIGURE) experiences of people dismissing people who were being harmed because those people were not sufficiently deferential in asking them to stop.

  176. says

    Dawkins called himself both an atheist and an agnostic. So, it is like, he is an atheist most of the time, but he turns himself into an agnostic when he runs out of arguments? And he says he cares passionately about the truth? What truth?? He invented his own scale, and now he moves right and left on his own scale. Who can possibly have a reasonable argument with such a person?

  177. 'Tis Himself says

    Your butt DOES look big in those jeans

    Your brain DOES look tiny in your head.

  178. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Dawkins called himself both an atheist and an agnostic. So, it is like, he is an atheist most of the time, but he turns himself into an agnostic when he runs out of arguments?

    The fact that you don’t understand words is not an argument against Dawkins.

  179. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Cookieluck

    Do you really believe that it is not?

    Politeness, when used in insignificant interractions between family members, when asking for the sugar to be passed, or when excusing oneself past strangers in a tightly packed train can be useful in preventing unnecessary conflict.

    Politeness, when expected from others, should they dare to question your right to bugger them, or to question your right to prevent them from marrying, or your right to force them to have an unwanted baby, is not useful to the person from whom the politeness is demanded & rather is a useful means of preventing dissent.

    Politeness of the sort you expected of Richard Dawkins when dealing with a misogynistic, homophobic, paedophilia apologistic, dictatorial, uneducated fool (such as the Cardinal) is not particularly useful.

    As I said in a much earlier post, Richard Dawkins seemed to me to be as polite as he could be expected to be, given the company he was in (paraphrasing myself)

    Finally, How is my example all kinds of wrong?

  180. 'Tis Himself says

    Dawkins called himself both an atheist and an agnostic. So, it is like, he is an atheist most of the time, but he turns himself into an agnostic when he runs out of arguments?

    Apparently you don’t understand the position that most atheists, including Dawkins, take. We don’t dogmatically say “there are no gods.” We say “there is no evidence for gods, so we don’t believe in them. As soon as reliable evidence for gods is produced, then we’ll believe in them.” The “we don’t believe in gods” is atheistic, the “we’re open to evidence” is agnostic.

  181. says

    Seen cookie et al pontificating and thought I’d weigh in.

    First up classroom management is an art, and politeness is one possible tool, as is a blunt “shut up or it’s detention time”. Which of the dozens of tools you use depends on the pupil, the situation, the class, the time of day, the weather, your knowledge of the pupil’s home life and a hundred and one other things.

    School pupils are possibly the most skilled people in the world at the art of making “Sir” sound like an insult. They’re being what you might call superficially polite, and that is the difference I’m seeing here.

    Someone may be polite in a genuine attempt to put you at ease and to facilitate communication, but Pell was behaving exactly like a schoolkid giving you a notpology. That was the type of politeness he was using, and it’s far ruder than plain speaking as it’s an attempt at deception.

    And cookie, by all means start off polite, but don’t expect bottom set year 10 last thing on a wet Friday afternoon to respond to just politeness. As someone I respect puts it “You don’t have to be a bastard, but they have to think you’re prepared to be a bastard”.

    (Teacher for 15 years in 4 countries including the US and Oz)

  182. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Atheist=no belief in any gods

    Agnostic = don’t have any knowledge of subject at hand.

    Not mutually exclusive.

    I am agnostic about your god (I have no knowledge supporting your contention that your invisible friend exists)

    I am atheist about your god (I don’t believe in your invisible friend)

    All perfectly consistent.

  183. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Because I am a sweet unrepentantly rude person, I will explain more clearly to rajkumar. “Agnostic” does not mean you stand in the middle between atheism and theism. It does not mean that you are undecided. It means that you acknowledge that the non-existence of deities cannot be proven. Similarly, I cannot prove there is no invisible unicorn gallivanting throughout the sky above Los Angeles. I am “agnostic” on the question of the invisible Los Angeles sky unicorn. Technically, I can’t know it’s not there – how would I check? But since no evidence has been provided for one, I am comfortable saying I don’t believe there’s one there. So I am a-LA-sky-unicorn-ist, while simultaneously agnostic about the L.A. sky unicorn.

  184. 'Tis Himself says

    andrewbrown,

    Unfortunately you have the same name as a much disliked Guardian writer. As a result, you’ll probably get some grief at this blog until you make it clear you are not him.

  185. says

    “Apparently you don’t understand the position that most atheists, including Dawkins, take. We don’t dogmatically say “there are no gods.” We say “there is no evidence for gods, so we don’t believe in them. As soon as reliable evidence for gods is produced, then we’ll believe in them.” The “we don’t believe in gods” is atheistic, the “we’re open to evidence” is agnostic.”

    I do understand this position. But what I don’t understand is, how can you ask for evidence for something you are not familiar with? I mean, let’s assume I can give you evidence for God, but when I do, how would you know God when you experience or see God? Do you know what God looks or feels like? Of course, you don’t. So, if you don’t know what God looks like, or what God is, how could you demand evidence for God. It makes no sense whatsoever. Unless, of course, you had some definition of God in your mind. In which case, you’d merely be asking for an evidence for an imaginary being in your mind — your own creation.

    Like I said, this swinging between atheism and agnosticism is pretty much a form of escapism. Like a back door when you are out of arguments.

  186. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Like I said, this swinging between atheism and agnosticism is pretty much a form of escapism.

    It isn’t swinging. The two positions are held simultaneously and are compatible with each other. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the argument.

  187. 'Tis Himself says

    >Do you know what God looks or feels like? Of course, you don’t.

    How do you know there’s such a thing as ionizing radiation? You can’t see beta particles and gamma rays shooting through you, but you’ll die of radiation poisoning if enough β- and γ go zipping into your body.

  188. says

    Tis,

    Yes I have read some of my namesake’s stuff on the guardian, I hope that my “style” doesn’t match his faitheist wafflings. Thankfully nobody has made that mistake yet, but I’ll see if I can alter the nym!

  189. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I do understand this position. But what I don’t understand is, how can you ask for evidence for something you are not familiar with? I mean, let’s assume I can give you evidence for God, but when I do, how would you know God when you experience or see God? Do you know what God looks or feels like? Of course, you don’t. So, if you don’t know what God looks like, or what God is, how could you demand evidence for God. It makes no sense whatsoever. Unless, of course, you had some definition of God in your mind. In which case, you’d merely be asking for an evidence for an imaginary being in your mind — your own creation.

    No, you clearly don’t.

    If you have evidence for the existence of god, then the god hypothesis would be proved. If you don’t have a hypothesis, then all you have is not very interesting observations. If you don’t know what god looks like or feels, ie if you can’t define your god hypothesis, then you are just engaging in mental masturbation. Feel free to go do that in the privacy of your own home. Stop wanking over the rest of us.

    Cookieluck, was I being impolite?

  190. says

    How do you know there’s such a thing as ionizing radiation? You can’t see beta particles and gamma rays shooting through you, but you’ll die of radiation poisoning if enough β- and γ go zipping into your body.

    Because we know beta particles and gamma rays exist. Their existence and their effects on humans are both facts. However, God is not a fact for you if you are an atheist. God doesn’t exist for you until someone proves God’s existence to you, as you said. But the question is, how would someone be able to prove this to you when you have no idea what God is like? I mean, I can call the sun God. How would you know the Sun is not God? You might give me an answer saying the Sun is not God because of this and that. You can, but it would bring us right back to the same problem again. You have already created an image of God in your mind, and you are basically asking for an evidence for that image of God in your mind, which is your own creation. You are saying God can be this but God can’t be that. The question is, how could you say that when you do not know what God is like?

  191. rorschach says

    As soon as reliable evidence for gods is produced, then we’ll believe in them.

    Absolutely not. Parsimony will always be in the way, first of all (some dude with a beard walking through an orthopedic ward and regrowing limbs is not more likely to be a divine being than a very advanced alien or a great illusionist), and secondly, any evidence of the supernatural doing stuff in the natural world will take the super out of supernatural.

  192. says

    then the god hypothesis would be proved

    The god hypothesis? How could we have a god hypothesis when we know nothing about god? At best, you can create a god using information from scriptures and other sources, and then try to find out if this god is real or not. But, basically, you would be just sorting out the validity of the scriptures and your other sources. If God doesn’t exist, according to the god hypothesis, then it simply means the scriptures were wrong. The hypothesis was wrong. Try again. And keep doing that until God’s proved. It is like an infinite loop.

  193. rorschach says

    The question is, how could you say that when you do not know what God is like?

    It’s the believers who tell us that gods exist, so it’s up to them to agree on a coherent definition and to provide evidence for their claims. The world, and atheists, can happily get along without gods. They are not needed for anything.

  194. says

    You have already created an image of God in your mind, and you are basically asking for an evidence for that image of God in your mind, which is your own creation.

    No. We are told who god, or gods are by the religious. The christians give us some guy (not female) who can break the laws of the universe at will, is a cruel, sadistic bully, and who created the universe.

    The Hindus give us a pantheon of gods, as did the ancient Greeks, Hittites, vikings, etc.

    Yet we have no evidence for any of these gods that other people have created.

  195. chrisb says

    On ABC radio earlier in the day of the ‘debate’, the moderator, spruiking the show, called Richard a ‘strident atheist’.

    Yet throughout the wide brown land there are churches everywhere. Crikey, I live in a village of 100 people, and there are two. Every week, often several times a week, religious types get to thunder out their bile in public from the pulpits.

    They have specialist schools and billions of dollars spreading their messages.

    But a few atheists saying essentially two things: 1. ‘I don’t believe you’, and 2. ‘Religion is not an unalloyed good’ are branded ‘strident’. Why isn’t Pell a strident Christian?

  196. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Therefore, rajkumar, by your very words, you have to acknowledge that there is no possible way for gods to be proven, therefore, they are a complete irrelevance. You have just argued the atheist position. Congratulations.

    See cookieluck, being rude at rajkumar resulted in him reversing his position!

  197. KG says

    You have already created an image of God in your mind, and you are basically asking for an evidence for that image of God in your mind, which is your own creation. You are saying God can be this but God can’t be that. The question is, how could you say that when you do not know what God is like? – rajkumar

    Very easily. For example, we have excellent evidence that if there is a god, it is not both benevolent and omnipotent: if it were, there would be no evil or suffering. We also have excellent evidence that if there is a god, it does not care if we don’t believe in it, or believe wrongly, since it could easily make us believe correctly if it wanted. Yes, there could be a god that takes no interest in us, does not care if we believe in it, does not care about our suffering, does nothing that leaves any evidence of its existence. But since we have no way of discovering this, and it makes no difference to us, so what?

  198. KG says

    I do understand this position. But what I don’t understand is, how can you ask for evidence for something you are not familiar with? – rajkumar

    Science is constantly seeking, and often finding, evidence for things that no-one is familiar with. There is no reason religion could not do the same: the evidence itself would allow us to deduce what the god or gods is or are like. The fact is, there is no such evidence.

  199. says

    It was sad.

    Tony Jones the moderator is a shocker in allowing rubbish to go to the keeper, has been for a long time.

    Pell writes to parliament when he can to press forward his science regarding climate. Yep – there was no surprise he tried to set Dawkins straight on evolutionary biology without having a basic clue – classic Dunning-Kruger know-nothing know-all. Pell knows all, physicist, biologist, climatologist anything, just ask him.

    When I heard of this “debate”, I thought oh no, Pell will bullshit, Gish gallop crap and Jones will let all go. Further, the nutters will fill the seats. (I’m informed emails were sent the day Pell accepted to be ready to apply and game the seats.)

    I wasn’t wrong. I lasted 10minutes before turning it off.

    I’m sure Dawkins will be more careful on picking his debates in the future.

    And dang-it, the Dawkins/Krauss talk at the ANU last night was oversubscribed and I couldn’t get in. Will they televise that .. nooo, not ABC .. that would be interesting and informative.

  200. 'Tis Himself says

    In my post #216 I was explaining how someone can be an atheist and an agnostic simultaneously. I didn’t say that evidence for gods would be easy to provide. After all, people have been trying to produce such evidence for thousands of years with no result. But since I’m not the one trying to produce evidence for gods, that’s not my problem. I’ll continue to be an atheist, not believing in gods, and an agnostic, admitting that if evidence is shown for gods then I’ll start believing.

  201. KG says

    Now, I have had a little kid come up to me when that was explained and say, “Can I have a look in the challis and see if it has turned to blood?” Of course it hasn’t. We don’t believe that. It’s not against reason. I believe it because I believe the man who told us that was also the son of God. He says, “This is my body. This is my blood,” and I’d much prefer to listen to him and take his word than yours. – Cardinal Biggles

    Fucking hilarious. He believes Jesus claimed to be the son of the immaterial creator of the universe, and instead of dismissing this as evidence of either lying or lunacy, he accepts another obvious falsehood – after all, he admits that the evidence of his senses shows that the wine does not turn into blood when a magic spell is cast on it – from the same source.

  202. rorschach says

    admitting that if evidence is shown for gods then I’ll start believing.

    And since there can be no such evidence, we can all relax and call Dawkins silly for this 6.9 out of 7 business. The agnostic position with regards to the supernatural is just nonsensical.

  203. No One says

    Also, I’m not sure that irrational thinking can be burned into one’s neurons. Do you have any evidence to back this up or are you just spouting received truths?

    Yes… George Pell, via direct observation.

  204. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But what I don’t understand is, how can you ask for evidence for something you are not familiar with?

    Simple, we ask for evidence for your imaginary deity that is solid, conclusive, and physical. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Something equivalent to an eternally burning bush that can be examined and find the laws of physics are suspended.

    Anything less, like gaps in knowledge, presupposition, or other bullshit need not apply.

  205. No One says

    It is a descriptive term to distinguish between a truth that comes about from reasoning and intelligence versus a piece of information presented as fact by an authority figure.

    I’m sorry, am I the only one who sees a problem with this?

  206. says

    The agnostic position with regards to the supernatural is just nonsensical.

    Exactly. Being lost in a sea of incoherence and unsubstantiated wishful thinking doesn’t make for any serious notion. Are we meant to be 6.9 out of 7 that slithy toves gimble and gyre in wabes? After all, who are we to say that slithy toves don’t gimble and gyre…

    “Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them” – Thomas Jefferson

  207. says

    And dang-it, the Dawkins/Krauss talk at the ANU last night was oversubscribed and I couldn’t get in. Will they televise that .. nooo, not ABC .. that would be interesting and informative.

    Right behind where I was sitting were ANU cameras. They were filming the whole thing and the camera guy said they were intending to release it on their website.

    It’s not ABC figures, but at least it’ll be out there.

  208. consciousness razor says

    I mean, I can call the sun God. How would you know the Sun is not God? You might give me an answer saying the Sun is not God because of this and that. You can, but it would bring us right back to the same problem again. You have already created an image of God in your mind, and you are basically asking for an evidence for that image of God in your mind, which is your own creation. You are saying God can be this but God can’t be that. The question is, how could you say that when you do not know what God is like?

    As others have said, it makes more sense to ask believers what they think a god is supposed to be like. They could say “god” means any logically possible thing, at which point I’ll ask for evidence of its existence (because if it’s impossible, it cannot exist, and there’s no point in asking for evidence).

    Suppose you said the Sun is a god. I already have evidence the Sun exists, so I know this thing you’re calling “god” exists. Now you can scamper back home to mommy and daddy to boast about your great victory over the atheist, if you want to be an idiot and a shithead. Most likely you wouldn’t want that, so I’d ask you why you consider it a god and to explain what that is supposed to mean. Maybe you’re just playing word games to fuck with my head. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all.

    Or maybe you think it’s god-like in some particular way. Typically, gods are claimed to be intelligent, have magical powers, and only have noticeable physical effects when scientists aren’t looking. They’re often supposed to have created the universe, love us, watch us masturbate, inspire their followers to write absurd books, and so on. None of those claims are necessary, but whichever are made would also require evidence, just like the bare existence claim does. The Sun obviously isn’t like anything I described above, nor do most people worship it as a god nowadays, so it’s a fairly safe bet that most people aren’t talking about the Sun when they talk about gods, but they could if they wanted to, though they may not realize that would give us even more reasons to ridicule their beliefs mercilessly.

  209. says

    Misconception: Science cannot talk on God because science is a study of the material world and God would be excluded a priori from any such undertaking. This means it’s arrogant of scientists to try to exclude God from our picture of reality.

    Reality: Science cannot talk on God because God is a much too incoherent notion to be able to ascribe meaningful testable criteria to the concept.

    If science can’t have anything to say on the existence of God, then all the worse for God…

  210. says

    I mean, I can call the sun God. How would you know the Sun is not God?

    I know this is nitpicking, but there’s an important point to be made. What would it mean to say the sun is God? Because the term God isn’t simply a descriptor for whatever we happen to use it. If I call my MP3 device God, it doesn’t mean that God exists – that would be making the mistake of conflating a label with a concept. And it’s the concept of God on which atheists and theists disagree; not on a difference we can dissolve by a clever use of labels.

    When you, hypothetically, call the sun God, what are you actually saying? I could imagine an answer in a fuzzy metaphorical sense – that the sun is the giver and maintainer of life (it provides energy for life to use as well as warming the environment to the right degree) – but on what conceptual grounds could a meaningful link be established? I think as an atheist I would, hypothetically, have no trouble agreeing with you about the sun’s ontological status, but I would wonder what relevance that has to my dismissal of God? Conceptually we aren’t talking about the same thing.

  211. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    They’re often supposed to have created the universe, love us, watch us masturbate, inspire their ……

    Given that we’ve watched rajkumar masturbate, does that make us gods? Or do we have to love hir, create universes etc to classify? ;-)

  212. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Kel, that’s correct & one reason I made the arguments I made earlier up the thread about no evidence ever being sufficient for me. (to which consciousness razor made some valid points about. (I haven’t forgotten, CR & I do appreciate your point, but the politeness argument wih cookieluck took off at that point))

  213. consciousness razor says

    Given that we’ve watched rajkumar masturbate, does that make us gods?

    If you say so, but if that’s the only benefit, I’d rather not be a god. There better be a pretty decent salary, full medical and dental, a nice cozy office, flexible hours, vacation time, several assistants to handle all the paperwork….

  214. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Not sure I’d describe it as a benefit. More sort of a duty. Think I’m with you on preferring a less odious occupation. Perhaps if I could be Bacchus, that might be better. Then all your worshippers would be too drunk. (brewers droop working for me, at last!)

  215. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Catnip, Not a Polymath wrote:

    Kel, that’s correct & one reason I made the arguments I made earlier up the thread about no evidence ever being sufficient for me

    I don’t already believe in God, and that’s all the evidence I need.

    An omnipotent god that wanted me to believe – two qualities the Christian god is alleged to possess – would know exactly how to convince me to believe in it, and would have presented it already.

  216. KG says

    And since there can be no such evidence, we can all relax and call Dawkins silly for this 6.9 out of 7 business. The agnostic position with regards to the supernatural is just nonsensical. – rorschach

    Nope: this makes atheism a matter of sheer dogmatic refusal to consider evidence. That may be your atheism, rorschach, but it’s not mine, nor Dawkins’s. While it might always be possible to come up with some alternative explanation, there are many conceivable types of evidence that would convince me of the existence of a god: for example, if the devotees of a particular god – and only that god – actually showed themselves capable of performing miracles such as instant regrowth of amputated limbs, under properly controlled conditions.

  217. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    re: Kel 247-8:

    This in summary is why I do not call myself agnostic in regard to the Abrahamic G. It isn’t described in a way that one could have any knowledge about it at all. I won’t claim agnosticism of a concept that defies us ever to obtain knowledge. I’m just an atheist.

  218. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Antiochus Epiphanes wrote:

    This in summary is why I do not call myself agnostic in regard to the Abrahamic G.

    Agreed. I think the fact that there are literally thousands of descriptions/definitions – many, if not all, being incoherent and/or logically impossible – of the Judeo-Christian god is as good an argument as any for its non-existence.

  219. KG says

    This in summary is why I do not call myself agnostic in regard to the Abrahamic G. – Antiochus Epiphanes

    On the contrary, it is described as both omnipotent and benevolent, and (at least in Christianity) as both omnipotent and desirous of having a personal loving relationship with each one of us. Being omnipotent, such a being could bring about a situation in which all beings were filled with bliss and all people were in a personal loving relationship with it. Such is clearly not the situation. There is thus overwhelming evidence against its existence.

  220. rorschach says

    Nope: this makes atheism a matter of sheer dogmatic refusal to consider evidence.

    I disagree. What could possibly be considered evidence for the supernatural if one of the conditions must necessarily be that it has observable effects in the natural world ? You just can’t have both. And even if you manage to weasel out of that somehow, there is still parsimony.

  221. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    KG wrote:

    Being omnipotent, such a being could bring about a situation in which all beings were filled with bliss and all people were in a personal loving relationship with it. Such is clearly not the situation.

    Hence why the question ‘if everything’s perfect in Heaven, why doesn’t God just put us all in Heaven without bothering to have us live out life on Earth first?’ exists.

  222. Anri says

    Because we know beta particles and gamma rays exist. Their existence and their effects on humans are both facts. However, God is not a fact for you if you are an atheist. God doesn’t exist for you until someone proves God’s existence to you, as you said. But the question is, how would someone be able to prove this to you when you have no idea what God is like? I mean, I can call the sun God. How would you know the Sun is not God? You might give me an answer saying the Sun is not God because of this and that. You can, but it would bring us right back to the same problem again. You have already created an image of God in your mind, and you are basically asking for an evidence for that image of God in your mind, which is your own creation. You are saying God can be this but God can’t be that. The question is, how could you say that when you do not know what God is like?

    Fortunately, we can avoid all of this business of making philosophical mud pies to throw in our own faces by asking that theist to define ‘god’ for us. At this point, one of three thing typically happens:

    1) We are told that god is essentially unknowable by man. We then point out that the theist therefore cannot know anything about god either, and we are called rude.

    2) We are given a cutesy soundbite ‘god is love’ or somesuch. We then point out that this is inconsistent with what the theist’s Faith of the Month Club says about god, and we are called rude.

    3) We are given a long, detailed explanation of god’s attributes. The vast majority of these are internally inconsistent, and upon pointing that out, we are called rude. A very few are consistent, but are both horrible and unsupported by real-world evidence, and upon pointing that out, we are called rude.

    I don’t have an image of god in my mind, I prefer pointing out where the images of god in other people’s minds fail. I let them supply the image – I’m just making the suggestive shadow puppets in it’s dusty beam.

  223. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What could possibly be considered evidence for the supernatural if one of the conditions must necessarily be that it has observable effects in the natural world ? You just can’t have both. And even if you manage to weasel out of that somehow, there is still parsimony.

    Which is why the null hypotheis is and must be non-existence. But, if one isn’t willing even to look at any new evidence you can properly be called close-minded. By being willing to consider the new evidence, but are upfront about the high bar that is set for said evidence, the claim of close-minded falls apart. A diplomatic CYA, and it is what many of us do, including both PZ and Dawkins.

  224. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Whilst being open to new evidence, I’m still struggling to find any possible definition of a god that parsimony doesn’t condemn to the rubbish bin. Either super intelligent, pan dimensional beings (mice?), or extra branches of physics (as yet unknown) dealing with before the big bang, or outside the bubble formed from the big bang.

    Every possible piece of evidence can be explained away thus (or similarly).

    Which makes me think the whole concept of a god is fundamentally flawed, and outdated.

    The problem lies with the original hypothesis.

    Perhaps I can say that I’m certain that there are no gods, but agnostic over whether there are extra dimensional, super intelligent, hyper voyeuristic, morally bankrupt, omnipotent entities.

    This seems less of a scientific hypothesis, and more like a philosophical blurring of the definitions.

  225. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    KG:

    On the contrary, it is described as both omnipotent and benevolent, and (at least in Christianity) as both omnipotent and desirous of having a personal loving relationship with each one of us.

    This is an oversimplification. It’s also described as being wrathful and vengeful. And sometimes disappointed. And racist, or at the very least, xenophobic*. Yet simultaneously omnipotent and benevolent and desirous of a personal relationship.
    *OK…so believers wouldn’t use these terms, but they all hold a certain parochial view of the extent of god’s love, either as being bounded completely to the tribe, or at the very most catholic extending only to other believers—certainly not desirous of a personal and loving relationship with those of us who reject him in this life. Fact is, they can’t even agree on whether god loves us all the same.
    Nerd:

    Which is why the null hypotheis is and must be non-existence. But, if one isn’t willing even to look at any new evidence you can properly be called close-minded. By being willing to consider the new evidence, but are upfront about the high bar that is set for said evidence, the claim of close-minded falls apart. A diplomatic CYA, and it is what many of us do, including both PZ and Dawkins.

    What does this even mean? You’ve said it yourself. An eternally burning bush would be sufficient to convince you of the existence of god.

    Catnip

    Whilst being open to new evidence, I’m still struggling to find any possible definition of a god that parsimony doesn’t condemn to the rubbish bin.

    It’s hard enough to find a concept of god that is even internally consistent, much less plausible, much less parsimonious, much less falsifiable, much less necessary. The problem of god* is so far removed from being a topic of serious consideration, that I don’t even thing the word “knowledge” could be applied to it, much less empiricism.
    *The way that mainstream monotheistic religions conceive it.

  226. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    While it might always be possible to come up with some alternative explanation, there are many conceivable types of evidence that would convince me of the existence of a god: for example, if the devotees of a particular god – and only that god – actually showed themselves capable of performing miracles such as instant regrowth of amputated limbs, under properly controlled conditions.

    Even given this evidence, “god” still needs to be a coherently defined concept to qualify as an explanation. If the devotees claimed that their god was a transdimensional four cornered circle would this be any kind of explanation at all? Would it be distinguishable from ignorance of an explanation?

  227. Amphiox says

    What could possibly be considered evidence for the supernatural if one of the conditions must necessarily be that it has observable effects in the natural world ?

    The supernatural has always been an incoherent concept used as a label for gaps in our knowledge of the natural world. Beyond the natural as in beyond our current understanding of the natural. Once, gravity was considered supernatural.

    It is possible to obtain evidence for something initially placed under the category of “supernatural”. The confirmation of that evidence automatically recategorizes that phenomenon as “natural” (shrinking the gap), but before that, during the search for and evaluation of that evidence, it can certainly be validly considered evidence for the “supernatural”.

    Evidence for the existence of god would mean that god is natural. The 6.9/7 position is the acknowledgement of the non-zero possibility that god (or anything else currently considered supernatural) is actually natural, and in existence.

    Of course, one must first have a coherent definition of “god”.

  228. Amphiox says

    There’s a trope for this: Sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.

  229. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What does this even mean? You’ve said it yourself. An eternally burning bush would be sufficient to convince you of the existence of god.

    It is an example of the high bar to proving their deity. I’m saying my mind is open, and here’s your chance to change my mind, but this the level of evidence that is required, due to extraordinary claims needing extraordinary evidence. Do I ever expect to see that evidence in my lifetime? A resounding no. Same for PZ and Dawkins. We don’t shut out new evidence, which is good science.

    But, by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for their deity, the gnu atheist can legitimately be charged with being closed-minded, like any godbot is to the possibility that their deity is imaginary. It takes away their claim that we presuppose the results, but also frustrates them at the same time, as they well know that the required level of evidence doesn’t exist.

  230. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    But, by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for their deity, the gnu atheist can legitimately be charged with being closed-minded, like any godbot is to the possibility that their deity is imaginary. It takes away their claim that we presuppose the results, but also frustrates them at the same time, as they well know that the required level of evidence doesn’t exist.

    Before one claims to be willing to consider new evidence, xe must at the very least be able to make a logical claim as to what evidence constitutes disconfirmation. The absence of an eternally burning bush hardly disconfirms the concept of god, because that concept is sufficiently incoherent to require it. The presence of an eternally burning bush would serve as disconfirmation of the law of conservation of energy, but that by itself doesn’t confirm the god that most monotheists worship, because it is not a necessary consequence of only that concept.
    I will remain close-minded to that concept as long as it remains shadowy, incoherent, and not logically or irrevocably connected with any set of phenomena that cannot be explained more parsimoniously by natural causes.

  231. Ogvorbis: Insert Appropriate Appelation Here says

    But, by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for their deity,

    Would you be so kind as to actually cite the evidence for your, or any other, deity?

  232. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Also: As usual, Amphiox has quite eloquently explained why hypotheses are necessarily natural.
    Further,

    The presence of an eternally burning bush would serve as disconfirmation of the law of conservation of energy, but that by itself doesn’t confirm the god that most monotheists worship, because it is not a necessary consequence of only that concept.

    Just thinking about this makes me wonder how many theists hold that the law of conservation of energy is false. Also, I’m not sure why a shrub must be the victim of this eternally burning flame. Why not a piece of bread? Or a washcloth?
    Could it be that both Yahweh and his son (the fig-hater) have some incorporeal animosity for primary producers?

  233. says

    Nope: this makes atheism a matter of sheer dogmatic refusal to consider evidence. –KG

    No, that doesn’t follow. We’ve had plenty of time to review the most plausible arguments and evidence in support of beliefs in gods and none of it has been the least bit convincing. We have good reason to refuse to consider what theists call “evidence” on grounds of it being ignorance on their part and having already been refuted.

    When do you get to stop believing Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real? Would you even entertain someone’s “evidence” for Santa or the E.B. today in a serious manner? Does it make one dogmatic to say that those two humanoids do not exist apart from human imagination and that the phenomena associated with them are naturally caused?

    I was under the impression that as atheists we are all (well, most of us are) looking back at gods in the same way some of us have looked back on Santa and the E.B. That does not make us dogmatic, nor does it make us dogmatic to dismiss the rubbish put forth by theists as evidence for the existence of a god. I mean, seriously, you are falling for the “Jesus is coming soon!” line when you give them the benefit of the doubt. What possible evidence could theists give us that would elicit more than a scowl for wasting our time or a chuckle for the sheer inanity of it? There is no good reason to believe they will ever give us anything more. That’s not being dogmatic, it’s being realistic.

  234. says

    Bah! You actually wrote this, Nerd?

    by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for their deity, the gnu atheist can legitimately be charged with being closed-minded

    Let me fix that for you:

    by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for Santa Claus, the gnu atheist can legitimately be charged with being closed-minded

    Really, Nerd? I’m a little astonished you wrote that.

  235. says

    Ill. Be botha voice of disent and agree with rorsatch. I can’t see something like big G God existing…but sufficiently advanced beings might earn the label god by nonchristian definitions. And if the god was demonstrably moral I might worship it if worship provided some benefit (like in some fantasy settings where worship gives gods their power) in that case it would be like paying taxes

  236. Louis says

    Dear Theists:

    1) Please provide a coherent, logically internally consistent description/definition of your deity/deities. Appeals to mysticism or “unknowability” also work for pixies and will be ridiculed.

    2) Please provide some evidence external to your religion’s own internal claims of veracity (i.e. “the bible says so” does not count) that your claimed deity/deities exist(s). Appeals to mystery, ignorance or common prejudice will not be tolerated without appropriate ridicule.

    3) If confronted by a similar claim from another religion (or an identical claim for a different deity) that fulfils the above criteria please demonstrate how you can distinguish between the two claims. How can you tell if one or the other is true or not? Or if neither are? By what criteria are you analysing them? Appeals to mystery, revelation, consequences, epistemological naivety and sundry other red herrings will be dealt with the scorn and ridicule they deserve.

    4) If you think you have managed to do 1 to 3, please review your work for semantic word games. Claiming god is “the fount of all being” or “knowledge” or “compassion” is incoherent. Start again at 1. Importing intelligent, purposeful entities into known quantities or making up things to fit is not coherent or parsimonious.

    5) Please provide some evidence of your deity/deities interacting with the observable universe. Appeals to ignorance will be laughed at very loudly.

    6) If at any point you claim “another way of knowing” to reason (see standard philosophical definitions” like “faith” or “revelation”, please provide evidence that these mechanisms provide “knowledge” in the same manner and degree that reason does. Retreats to faith on any question will attract negative marks and pointing and tittering.

    Ok that’s a good start. Get that done please. Show your working. When you have accomplished what every singe theologian in every single religion throughout human history has utterly failed to accomplish (for good reason), then I’ll start taking this god concept seriously and stop laughing at you. Thanks.

    This is required to reach what we call “the beginning of a rational discussion”.

    Louis

    P.S. By the way, none of the above “proves god does not exist”. What the abject failure to answer the above does is prove that no one has yet been able to prove that god does exist. The burden of proof rests on the positive claimant, i.e. the theist. If you cannot establish your deity exists to the same degree you can establish a table exists without resorting to pseudo-philosophical wankery, then why take you seriously? Incidentally, I am a) not anti-philosophy by any means, some of it is quite fun, b) not unaware of a reasonable amount of theology for an interested amateur. So please, no Courtier’s replies. We’re not AT the appropriate point yet.

  237. phil12 says

    Hi Louis,

    A couple important notes first:

    I am willing to define God purely from reason and logic if and only if you first define exactly want *you* are defining as being “incoherent.” By leaving it opened ended like that you can call near anything incoherent. So define *exactly* what is incoherent and explain exactly why it falls under category. Once we agree on what is incoherent then I will gladly define God as found through pure reason and logic. No Bible stuff or anything.

    Looking forward to it,
    Phil

  238. Louis says

    Phil12,

    It may seem like a tiny nit to pick, and hell it probably is, but in 1) I said “coherent”. I realise the opposite of what I meant would be incoherent, but it’s your job to point out the potential disproof of your own claims. That’s the very basis of the intellectual honesty and rigour that underpins, for example, the scientific method. I.e. “my claims apply within this limited framework” {defines framework, offers prediction about what exceptions would look like}. I think it’s pretty clear from the context of 1) what I mean by “coherent”. “Logically consistent and connected” would be a good place to start.

    In 4) I mentioned “incoherent” in the context of the various ontological arguments, and various “word shift” arguments, for the existence of god/gods. All these arguments rely on the a priori forms of the type disproven by Hume (at least). So Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine and chums are out of the water. The “reason” based claim of CS Lewis is heavily holed. Even Malcolm’s claim has gaping gaps in it. They rely on you accepting their premises first at the least, and then not spotting the philosophical slight of hand. Even then, the ontological arguments fall foul of problems with the “coherence” (i.e. lack of internal contradiction as alluded to above) of maximally X (whatever X is) entities.

    Since I’ve done the endless willy waggling theism debates over the internet before, I’ll let you know that unless you come up with something monumentally new, which is possible I admit, I’m really unlikely to be interested. Call me a bastard if you must! Picking up Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion” or Mackie’s “The Miracle of Theism” (again?) will serve you and I both far more than retyping them into a comment box. My point is this is not untrodden ground, and I’m deeply uninterested in retreading (for the umpteenth time) this very old turf.

    Whether or not you can produce one logical definition of a god (and I confess I have my doubts, even though I’ve read what Plantinga and others have attempted), it will fall at one of the other hurdles. All attempts have done so far. The final proof of god would be quite famous after all, but it doesn’t seem to appear in any of the philosophy/theology books I’ve read, I wonder why. At the very best vague deism is just about arguable for, it requires a few stretches, but it can be just about done for people so inclined. There’s still no reason to credit the vague deism so produced as anything other than a neat word trick, and there’s certainly nothing to connect it to a current world religion. Unless of course you are interested in producing some modal logic trick where, again, we have to grant certain rather dubious priors.

    Louis

  239. Louis says

    Phil12,

    You’ll just have to forgive my sarcasm in #275 and general boredom! I’ve never denied I am a bad, bad person. :-)

    I’ve just done this argument far too many times and seen far too many (for example) ontological masturbatory sessions to be optimistic. Please prove me wrong. If only for the personal satisfaction of being wrong, which is always a good laugh.

    Louis

  240. 'Tis Himself says

    Louis #277

    Call me a bastard if you must!

    Can I call you one if I just want to? There’s no compulsion on my part to call you a bastard, but it would warm the cockles of my heart if I did.

  241. says

    Caine: I’ve been way crazy busy. Daughter-spawn got married last month, a Special Project I’ve been working on is taking off, and all that beer ain’t gonna consume itself.

    I’m slacking at the moment, but I’m going to have to disappear over this next week (Special Project stuff).

    I miss you!

  242. Louis says

    Nigel,

    I wouldn’t waste the popcorn. The “logic/reason proof of god” is very likely either going to be some variation on a theme of Anselm’s, Plantinga’s or C.S. Lewis’.

    I might be wrong, and Phil12 will produce something I’ve never read (very likely*) or genuinely novel (much less likely given the endless streams of writing on the subject). The problem is all the above mentioned arguments are very dubious if not outright refuted. Which makes this very unlikely to be popcorn-worthy.

    Louis

    * I’m not a philosopher or theologian, I’m a scientist. So I’ve read a few books and had a few arguments about this, i.e. I’m no expert, just an interested amateur. I’m well aware that, for example, if a proper philosopher whips out the modal logic and I agree to certain priors then it is more than possible to form some logical claims that are internally consistent. Whether they are properly coherent is a different matter, as is whether those priors are meaningful or in fact if they simply set up a specific logical conclusion and the assumptions are disguised in the priors.

  243. says

    Louis:

    The problem is all the above mentioned arguments are very dubious if not outright refuted. Which makes this very unlikely to be popcorn-worthy.

    The popcorn isn’t for the logical definition of God (I think you’re right in that it’s going to be Plantinga, or perhaps WLC). The popcorn is for the feeding frenzy that follows.

    It’ll be like shark-week all rolled up into a nice blog-sized package.

  244. 'Tis Himself says

    Aratina Cage #273

    Bah! You actually wrote this, Nerd?

    by dismissing out of hand and not listening to any new evidence for their deity, the gnu atheist can legitimately be charged with being closed-minded

    Really, Nerd? I’m a little astonished you wrote that.

    I understand why Nerd wrote that and I agree with his point. If a goddist presents new evidence for gods, then we should examine this evidence. Almost always the evidence is just a rehash of the old standbys: ontological argument, fine tuning, historical Jesus, morality requires gawd, something from nothing, etc., etc., etc. So the goddist presents an argument and we can dismiss it with “Hume came up with his empirical objection to the ontological argument in the 1760s” or “that doesn’t answer the problem of evil” or suchlike statements.

    But if a genuinely new argument were presented, then we should examine it. Of course, the last time a genuinely new argument for the existence of gods appeared was in 1896, when William James did his “will to believe” argument. That this argument was refuted by René Descartes in the early 1600s should come as no surprise to anyone.

    But we should at least acknowledge argumements for gods. Otherwise the goddists will whine and there’s few things worse than a whiny goddist.

  245. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I am willing to define God purely from reason and logic if and only if you first define exactly want *you* are defining as being “incoherent.”

    From a logical POV, coherence requires self-consistency. More loosely, I think many here are using it to mean something like “having the qualities of something that could be real”.
    Eg, if we define a thing as being a transdimensional squared-circle, it violates coherence in both senses:

    a) a circle by definition cannot have the properties of a square*
    b) transdimensional isn’t a property of anything that we know to be real.
    Your turn.

    *In, like, Euclidean space, anyway. Or any other space that I am aware of. I am not a topologist.

  246. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Tis:

    If a goddist presents new evidence for gods, then we should examine this evidence. Almost always the evidence is just a rehash of the old standbys: ontological argument, …But if a genuinely new argument were presented, then we should examine it…

    You seem to be conflating evidence with argument. However, either would require a more coherent entity than generally is posited.

  247. KG says

    Aratina Cage@272,

    I already gave you one example of the evidence for a god I would take seriously: if the devotees of one particular god, and no other, proved able to perform miracles such as instant regrowth of amputated limbs under properly controlled conditions. Similarly, if a fat man in a red suit harnesses reindeer to a sleigh and then takes off and flies away, I will reconsider my disbelief in Santa Claus. Of course I am confident that neither will ever happen, but I could be wrong – I remember I was once ;-)

    When do you get to stop believing Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real? Would you even entertain someone’s “evidence” for Santa or the E.B. today in a serious manner? Does it make one dogmatic to say that those two humanoids do not exist apart from human imagination and that the phenomena associated with them are naturally caused?

    Try reading what I actually wrote. I don’t believe in gods any more than in Santa Claus, but that does not and should not mean that I refuse to consider new evidence on principle. Such a refusal is dogmatism.

  248. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    KG:

    I already gave you one example of the evidence for a god I would take seriously: if the devotees of one particular god, and no other, proved able to perform miracles such as instant regrowth of amputated limbs under properly controlled conditions.

    How is “god” any different an explanation than “I don’t know” for this phenomenon?
    Certainly, such evidence would indicate a law or a correlation; regrowth of amputated limbs associated with a particular belief. However, this isn’t an explanation of how that happened.
    Also, if you saw a man in a red suit fly away in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, the better explanation is that you are hallucinating or have been duped by an elaborate hoax. Consider that this phenomenon wouldn’t be acceptable as evidence of Santa Claus to cultures with a different tradition of how that guy gets around.

  249. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Phil12 seems to have failed the challenge. Lacking the mental masturbatory skills of rajkumar and the impoliteness of cookieluck.

    The popcorn may have been popped for naught

  250. consciousness razor says

    I already gave you one example of the evidence for a god I would take seriously: if the devotees of one particular god, and no other, proved able to perform miracles such as instant regrowth of amputated limbs under properly controlled conditions.

    I wouldn’t necessarily believe in a god if that happened. You might consider the devotees themselves gods because of their miraculous abilities*, though there could be biological explanations, or maybe they have amazing medical technology since they’re aliens or time-travelers or whatever. But you’re saying you’d believe in some other entity because of what the devotees are able to do. Why would that make this other entity’s existence more likely? Wouldn’t you need to figure out how this god is supposed to be involved in regrowing limbs? I mean, what exactly does it do? What would you look for when you’re trying to identify a god as the cause of the regrowing limbs rather than something else?

    *That’s a pretty low standard for a god, which most probably wouldn’t accept. The devotees aren’t supposed to have created the universe, right? At minimum, most people today expect that or else it isn’t a god.

    Similarly, if a fat man in a red suit harnesses reindeer to a sleigh and then takes off and flies away, I will reconsider my disbelief in Santa Claus.

    What if it were a thin woman in a blue dress who delivers presents every year, with flying antelope pulling the sleigh?

  251. says

    Whether or not there could be evidence of something – an agency acting in our world that violates how we know the world to work – is different from whether or not we call that God. MIchael Shermer frames the problem well with Shermer’s Last Law.

    In other words, there could be evidence of something akin to God, but calling it supernatural, or omnipotent, or any of those other claims that usually form the conception of God.

  252. Amphiox says

    The next whining troll who comes up complaining of impolite language directed to “outsiders”, or trying to makes claims of herd mentality, should be directed to the discussion contained in these last 100 or so posts.

    Note how the Pharyngula regulars are *gasp* disagreeing with each other, and how some are using *gasp* *gasp* *gasp* fierce and passionate wording, and no one *gasp* *gasp* *wheeeze* even cares?

    Everyone only wants to debate the substance of the issues.

  253. Louis says

    Nigel,

    You are, as ever, right of course.

    My guess is the popping of corn will only be drowned out by the palming of faces. I live to be proved wrong about that though.

    Louis

  254. says

    Simple, we ask for evidence for your imaginary deity that is solid, conclusive, and physical. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Something equivalent to an eternally burning bush that can be examined and find the laws of physics are suspended.

    Anything less, like gaps in knowledge, presupposition, or other bullshit need not apply.

    I guess you are back to the same problem again. What is this The eternally burning bush you are asking for? Aren’t you saying you want to see a god who punishes people in hell? Aren’t you then asking for an evidence for such a god? Aren’t you then saying such a god doesn’t exist because there is no evidence? Isn’t this what I said in my previous posts? Aren’t you asking for an evidence for a god, or more precisely, a very personal version of god, that you have in your mind? How did you create this version in your mind? Have you ever thought about that?

    As for an evidence for God, look at the procedure. It is simple:

    First, you need to tell people what is God. Here, when you tell people what you mean by God, I stop you and ask you where did you get your information about God when you do not believe in God? Being an atheist, how could you possibly collect information about something that you believe doesn’t exist in the universe? Here, your agnosticism (or escapism)may kick in, and you may say, I am not sure if God exists or not. Until I see some evidence God doesn’t exist for me. But … who could provide you evidence when you know nothing about God. Unless, of course, you did know something about god. In your case, your god is a god who punishes people in hell, and this god doesn’t exist because you have seen no evidence yet.

    See? We get stuck in stage 1. We can’t move beyond this point. Being an atheist you believe God doesn’t exist, therefore we are faced with this impossible task of defining something that doesn’t exist in the universe. Then, your agnosticism kicks in and says God doesn’t exist until you see some evidence. Here you tell people what kind of god you have in mind that you need evidence for. This god that you have in your mind, how do you know it was defined using correct information? You don’t. And this is why we can’t move beyond this point.

  255. Louis says

    Amphiox,

    I am not fucking disagreeing you slime faced dribble cocked bum fluff snorting bozo.

    Love you.

    Wait, what were we talking about?

    Louis

  256. bethy says

    Watching that was indescribably frustrating. So let me get this straight: all organisms that are alive have “souls”, humans are descended from neanderthals, neanderthals can’t possibly be cousins of humans because none are alive today, neanderthals never made cave paintings, gay people are like the flaws in an oriental rug, the Germans suffered more than the Jews, Hitler was an atheist, and the Catholic Church has compassion for gays because they help the most people with HIV (who happen to mostly be heterosexual, and whose infections could have been prevented with condoms). This guy inhabits one sick fucking world. It terrifies me that there are people out there too stupid to know when they are telling complete falsehoods. I shared the apparent look of exhaustion and exasperation on Dawkins’ face.

  257. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What is this The eternally burning bush you are asking for?

    You don’t read your babble do you. Think Moses. Go read your babble cover to cover, just like most atheists do. Wonderful exercise in seeing bullshit, and losing faith in imaginary things.

  258. Louis says

    Rajkumar,

    First, you need to tell people what is God.

    1) Very sorry old bean but we atheists absolutely, positively do not have to do that. The burden of proof, and indeed definition, lies with the positive claimant, i.e. the theist. You say this “god” thingy exists, good oh, desperately lovely and all, but would you rather mind defining what you mean by that in sufficiently rigorous terms so that it is possible to determine whether or not you are talking through your hat? Lovely. Thanks.

    Being an atheist, how could you possibly collect information about something that you believe doesn’t exist in the universe?

    2) No, no, no, no, no, NO! Absence of belief does not necessarily entail belief of absence. It may include it, but, as I said, not necessarily so. An atheist is someone who lacks belief in a god, or gods.

    I am an atheist with respect to all gods I have heard/read described by the human race to date. I am technically and very strictly philosophically agnostic about the possibility that something “goddish” may exist, but since no one has been able to advance a coherent god concept, outside of all the more concrete claimed gods already demonstrated false throughout history, I note that the claim that some “goddish” entity exists remains unevidenced at best and incoherent at worst. Ergo, I am an atheist in practise with respect to “goddish” entities too, although I reserve some tiny scintilla of my thoughts for the philosophical niceties. I.e. the problem of induction, various epistemological issues, and the lack of perfect knowledge/objectivity etc.

    99.99999999999% sure looks a hell of a lot like 100% from where I am sat. Admitting my 99.99999999999% is not 100% costs me nothing.

    Louis

  259. says

    a circle by definition cannot have the properties of a square*

    *In, like, Euclidean space, anyway. Or any other space that I am aware of. I am not a topologist.

    My understanding is that to a topologist, a square and a circle are actually the same thing, as one can be continuously deformed into the other. Topologists only care about properties that don’t change under continuous transformations, which is why they regard a coffee cup and a doughnut to be the same shape–they each have one hole. If they were both made of clay you could turn one into the other without pulling any bits off.

  260. says

    Someone with the nym “rajkumar” might very well not know what burning bush we speak of.

    Rajkumar, you’re getting things backwards. First, *you* present to me a god concept, and then I’ll decide if I believe in it or not. Everybody whose posts you object to as having “created god in their mind” is just discussing standard boring old god concepts which have been presented to them already. Mostly variants on the Christian theme, because of where we live. If you have a better one, then by all means wheel it out for consideration.

    Personally, I don’t mind if someone does define the sun as god. The concept of god is so vague and individual that it’s nice to have something concrete for a change. OK, the sun exists and it’s even a decent fit to the “fount of all life” concept. But I’m still not going to worship it.

    Existence is a very minimal standard to establish. Lots of things exist, and I don’t worship any of them. If you want to go further, then you need to wheel out more evidence for those further attributes. The sun, for instance, is not a person and can in no way be influenced by prayer.

  261. consciousness razor says

    First, you need to tell people what is God.

    Why would I need to do that? Believers need to do that, because they’re the ones who apparently have some reason to believe a god exists. But when I press them for reasons, I’ve only ever gotten ignorant dribble. If they don’t know what they’re god’s supposed to be, then nobody does, and that’s not my fucking problem, because I’m much too busy defining leprechauns and counting angels dancing on pins. If believers are too lazy, ignorant, stupid or dishonest to even do that, then I just don’t give a fuck about their meaningless nonsense.

  262. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Good to see rajkumar has the staying power. Arm not getting sore then?

    Just a pity you are wheeling the same old incoherent blather that you posted further up the chain.

    As Louis, Alethea, myself and many others have pointed out. You are the one postulating a god or gods. Therefore, you need to define what that actually means, or we will continue to point at laugh at rajkumar mentally masturbating in public.

    Oh and agnosticism isn’t escapism. Escapism is when you can’t face reality, so you construct an imaginary reality in your head that pleases you more than reality. You know, sort of what you and other theists do, when you imagine your favourite god.

  263. John Morales says

    Catnip @308, agnosticism as a non-committal stance after critical examination is either avoidance or confusion (agnosticism prior to critical examination is the naive null hypothesis).

    (Though I see it as either one either is a theist, or one is not — thus, to me all agnostics are de-facto atheists despite their protestations)

  264. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    feralboy: breakfast must be delightful in the household of a topologist.

  265. Louis says

    Re: Agnosticism.

    Whenever I use the term, I’m a bit Humpty Dumpty-ish. I use it in a very specific sense based on its etymology. I think that “agnosticism” refers to a belief that the answer to a specific question is in principle unknowable.

    That’s why I am strictly, philosophically agnostic about “goddish” entities. Those vaguely defined, deistic demiurges. I’m similarly agnostic about the fact that “it’s all pixies underneath” and that “the temperature of jealousy it witch-hazel”. As someone said upthread, quoting Jefferson, a proposition, a question, must be coherent before reason can act upon it. If you want me to believe in your god, give me something to work with. If what you give me to work with is vague and ploppy I will simply either a) with hold my belief (atheism) or b) note that your claim is incoherent or in principle unknowable (agnosticism).

    But that’s just the philosophical niceties. I don’t pick up the spectra from an overnight run on the NMR machine and independent of all prior evidence decide the peaks on a particular spectrum correspond to the chemical shift of pixie dust. They could, in principle given a sufficiently mischievous pixie, but given the prior evidence on the subject such an idea is so vanishingly unlikely as to be ludicrous. Hence in practise my a-pixie-ism remains unperturbed.

    I have, in a couple of posts emphasised the “philosophical niceties”. I will point out, contra me, that this is all so much indulgent shite. Why? Because we don’t live in a vacuum. We don’t live in a world where the absence of prior work exists. We live in a world where the combined, distributed, consilient effort of humanity has acted on and operated within the methods of reasoned enquiry. And not once, not one single time, has a natural explanation been found wanting in favour of a supernatural one. Face folks, if the supernatural were to show up tomorrow it would have one big old metric fucktonne of work to do.

    Louis

  266. says

    breakfast must be delightful in the household of a topologist.

    Yeah, they play with their food a lot. And you do not want to ask them how they want their eggs.

  267. consciousness razor says

    (Though I see it as either one either is a theist, or one is not — thus, to me all agnostics are de-facto atheists despite their protestations)

    Hmm, I don’t know about that. Some believers call themselves agnostic, in the sense that they’re not certain their beliefs are proven without any room for doubt. I suspect most non-agnostics are made of straw or have been very seriously brainwashed.

    However, the agnostic label isn’t useful as a replacement for theist or atheist, since like you say, they either do or don’t believe in a god, even though they might believe they can somehow occupy the middle. I call those people “confused.”

  268. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Following Louis on the unknowable: There are really two kinds of unknowable. There’s unknowable to me, here and now (to which I think the word “agnostic” is apt)… And then there’s unknowable to anyone, ever; knowledge can’t be applied to “unknowable” in this second sense. I think in such cases agnostic is as inapplicable as gnostic.

    I am agnostic about the quantity of change in Lincoln’s pocket the moment that he was shot, but I am simply indifferent to the concept of god.

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs.

    But maybe not. When Dawkins says he is agnostic about god, he his making a distinction of little value. He knows that god is a human invention with as much confidence as he knows that evolution is sufficient to explain the diversity of life on earth. I doubt he would claim agnosticism toward the latter.

  269. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I think I have been using agnosticism as “unknown” rather than “unknowable”. Perhaps my understanding of the etymology has been skewed?

    Put another way, “we have no knowledge of pixies” rather than “we can never know pixies”

    I think, that if your definition is held to, Louis, I would have to go with agnosticism with respect to any so far postulated gods being too close to the theist position of rajkumar, who seems to think that gods are all unknowable (unless you start out with a piori gnost)

    @John Morales, Yes to your first point. After critical examination of evidence, you should have the knowledge to accept the hypothesis, or return to the Null hypothesis. I don’t think it is wrong to continue to call oneself an agnostic, given that one has not falsified the god hypothesis, one has simply failed to confirm it. Particularly so, if you also are atheist, which is simply without gods. So we are without gods & we have no knowledge (or evidence) that supports the hypothesis of god.

    The problem is that atheist is not part of a continuum with theist & agnostic. Theist & atheist are mutually exclusive binary states & agnostic/gnostic is orthogonal.

  270. says

    As Louis, Alethea, myself and many others have pointed out. You are the one postulating a god or gods. Therefore, you need to define what that actually means, or we will continue to point at laugh at rajkumar mentally masturbating in public.

    Try defining atheism, and see if you need to come across the word ‘God’ or ‘deity’ or some similar word. If you do, then I can ask you what you mean by God, or divine, or deity, or whatever word you use. Don’t worry about the believers. I am not talking about them. I myself am not a believer.

  271. hotshoe says

    …either one either is a theist, or one is not…

    I agree with that

    …all agnostics are de-facto atheists despite their protestations

    Don’t think so. Agnostic – by definition – refers to the view that the truth value of some claim (eg a claim about god’s existence) is unknowable. Therefore, it is easy to be an agnostic theist: one who sincerely believes but admittedly does not know or does not claim to know the truth about god’s existence.

    I’d say many, maybe most, theists are agnostic theists. The fundamgelicals are big on “knowing Jesus”, “having a personal relationship with Jesus”, but even they have to accept their churchmembers who merely “have faith” and continue to attend church in the hope of a sign. For other churches, outright faith is the major virtue, along with accepting the unknowable mysteries. Lots of agnostic Catholics.

    I guess what you mean, though, is that most persons who state “I am an agnostic” are not the agnostic theists — because those theists would never choose to use that phrase about themselves. They say things like “I believe in god. That’s enough for me”. Even when they admit that they don’t know, they don’t use the word “agnostic”.

    Maybe using the word “agnostic” in today’s society is really a signal that they’ve stopped believing and aren’t a theist of any kind, even if they were raised to be, or even if they sort of wish they could still believe.

    And why they protest that they aren’t “atheist” probably has a lot to do with the public image of evil atheism foisted on all of us by the churches – so if you’re telling those “agnostic” people they are de-facto atheists, have some compassion. Maybe not their fault that they can’t face being lumped in with the devil-worshipping baby killers.

  272. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Atheist=person who has no need for invisible supernatural entities to form a world view

  273. hotshoe says

    Try defining atheism, and see if you need to come across the word ‘God’ or ‘deity’ or some similar word. If you do, then I can ask you what you mean by God, or divine, or deity, or whatever word you use. Don’t worry about the believers. I am not talking about them. I myself am not a believer.

    You are not a believer about what ??

    Try telling us what you do not believe in, without using “god, or divine, or deity” (or some similar word).

    You pointless dummy.

  274. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you do, then I can ask you what you mean by God, or divine, or deity, or whatever word you use.

    A null and meaningless concept. What part of that don’t you understand???

  275. says

    You are not a believer about what ??

    Try telling us what you do not believe in, without using “god, or divine, or deity” (or some similar word).

    You pointless dummy.

    I am not a believer about any god that can be defined using scriptures, and other sources. In other words, every time someone defines a god, I automatically reject it as false. But this surely doesn’t mean that by denying such gods, the universe automatically becomes a place for me where everything happened and is happening by some chance… But this is apparently what atheists believe.

    I am not an atheist because I am still open to something that cannot be defined. In other words, without using the word God, the possibility that the universe is not a chance occurrence or happen stance, and that everything in it is intentional and according to some plan. But if the universe is not a chance occurrence then what it is? This is the question we need to ask.

  276. John Morales says

    Try defining atheism, and see if you need to come across the word ‘God’ or ‘deity’ or some similar word.

    Huh, I missed that.

    Definition: Atheism is the absence of theism.

    (Nope, no need at all)

    If you do, then [something]

    The conditional does not apply.

  277. consciousness razor says

    Try defining atheism, and see if you need to come across the word ‘God’ or ‘deity’ or some similar word. If you do, then I can ask you what you mean by God, or divine, or deity, or whatever word you use.

    This is just playing word games. I have a puzzle for you: try fucking off, without using any words at all.

  278. John Morales says

    rajkumar:

    [1] I am not a believer about any god that can be defined using scriptures, and other sources. In other words, every time someone defines a god, I automatically reject it as false. [2] But this surely doesn’t mean that by denying such gods, the universe automatically becomes a place for me where everything happened and is happening by some chance… But this is apparently what atheists believe.

    Such confusion!

    By [1], you are an atheist.
    By [2], you disbelieve that proposition.

    Clearly, by the conjunction [1] and [2], that is apparently not what all atheists believe.

    (Do not mistake the universal (∀) for the existential (∃))

  279. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    rajkumar wrote:

    In other words, every time someone defines a god, I automatically reject it as false.

    Why? What’s your exact rationale for assuming that a god is necessarily indefineable?

  280. Louis says

    Rajkumar,

    My face, it is in my palm. And believe me when I say that is not its usual resident.

    We live in a world where the bulk of people are theists of one kind or another, and have been historically. In other words these are people who advance some kind of god concept, they have defined that concept. Atheists are the people who, throughout that history, have found those concepts to be demonstrated as not worthy of their belief. Pissing about with word games like “ooh atheist has the word god in the dictionary definition” is a waste of everyone’s time and more than a tad childish.

    Atheist: someone who lacks theistic belief. Athiesm: the lack of theistic belief. If you’re a theist, define your specific theistic claims. If not, stop wasting everyone’s time.

    Louis

  281. consciousness razor says

    I am not an atheist because I am still open to something that cannot be defined.

    What is it that you’re open to? If you can’t say what it is, then what does it mean to say you’re open to it? Are you open to meaningless nonsense?

    In other words, without using the word God, the possibility that the universe is not a chance occurrence or happen stance, and that everything in it is intentional and according to some plan.

    So this is what you think a lack of definition looks like? A claim about intentionality and teleology? I would laugh, but this is just kind of sad.

    But if the universe is not a chance occurrence then what it is? This is the question we need to ask.

    Atheists don’t claim everything happens by chance, nor do they need to. Maybe next time, before making an ass of yourself, you could figure out what some of us actually think.

  282. says

    Try defining atheism, and see if you need to come across the word ‘God’ or ‘deity’ or some similar word. If you do, then I can ask you what you mean by God, or divine, or deity, or whatever word you use.

    That’s silly. It’s not me that’s doing the defining, it’s me that’s doing the rejection of other people’s definitions.

    I don’t believe in the existence of any of the beings that any substantial* world religion refers to as gods.

    * By “substantial”, I mean a religion whose followers constitute more than 1% of the world’s population.

  283. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But if the universe is not a chance occurrence then what it is? This is the question we need to ask.

    Chance occurrence, or turtles, all the way down. Show otherwise with solid and conclusive evidence, ignoring your wishful thinking.

  284. John Morales says

    rajkumar:

    I am not an atheist because I am still open to something that cannot be defined.

    There are polls showing numerous self-professed atheists claim to believe in God.

    You’re doing the inverse.

    (Go figure)

  285. says

    Atheists don’t claim everything happens by chance, nor do they need to. Maybe next time, before making an ass of yourself, you could figure out what some of us actually think.

    Then what do atheists claim? That everything is happening due to some intelligence, and according to some plan? Really? Tell me, in your own words if you please, what is your position on this? Just your position. Not any other atheist, but just you.

  286. says

    Chance occurrence, or turtles, all the way down. Show otherwise with solid and conclusive evidence, ignoring your wishful thinking.

    Why is it me who needs to give evidence? Why not you? Why not you give me evidence for what you believe about the universe? Why don’t you give evidence that the universe a chance occurrence?

  287. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why is it me who needs to give evidence?

    You keep making claims, and the burden of proof is always on the claimant. Welcome to science.

    So, either put up or shut the fuck up. Mental wanking is obnoxious. You can answer your own insipid questions if you really think about it without presuppositions.

  288. says

    False dichotomy here:
    a) everything happens by chance.
    b) everything happens due to some intelligence, and according to some plan.

    Try mine:
    c) everything happens according to the laws of physics.

    It seems that you are choosing to define god as an intelligence with a plan that causes everything. Okeydokey, then, I don’t believe in yours either.

  289. John Morales says

    rajkumar:

    Then what do atheists claim? That everything is happening due to some intelligence, and according to some plan? Really?

    That reality (nature) just is, and it unfolds (evolves).

    That it is otiose to postulate some creative agency, since it would perforce be outside of reality*.

    * Such an agency would be unreal, another way of saying it would not exist.

  290. Louis says

    An eternal shell game of shifting the burden of proof from Rajkumar?

    Fuck THAT for a game of soldiers. I’m off to bed.

    Louis

  291. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why is it me who needs to give evidence?

    For you to do the preliminary scraping of ideas. If you can’t figure out a way to evidence the idea, scrap it. It is nothing but mental masturbation. If it can be evidenced, what does the evidence really say. Take the purpose of the universe. No evidence for said purpose, and no way to evidence it. So scrap the mental masturbation that keeps that illogical idea coming, and look at the real evidence.

  292. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    rajkumar wrote:

    Why is it me who needs to give evidence?

    Because you are making a positive claim: that the universe has a driving force.

    What we’re saying is this: ‘We don’t know exactly how the universe works, but so far we’ve not found any evidence of a driving force. However, we’re going to keep looking, and will change our position if any contradictory information comes to hand.’

  293. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Then what do atheists claim? That everything is happening due to some intelligence, and according to some plan? Really? Tell me, in your own words if you please, what is your position on this? Just your position. Not any other atheist, but just you.

    Now you’re just being plain dumb.

    it is simple. Atheists do not accept the proposition that there is an over arching intelligence or plan for the universe. This is because there is no evidence to support such a claim. Or any of the other silly goddist claims that theists like to trot out.

    As for what individuals make of it, that’s entirely up to the individual, however, most views that I have seen are along the lines of, the universe obeys the laws of physics as described by the theories of quantum electro-dynamics & the various forms of relativity.

    Why it does this is a silly question, as it’s not something you can ever know (true agnosticism, I suppose, eh, Louis?).

    You don’t have an externally mandated purpose in life. Your purpose in life is whatever you choose to make it. That’s an internally generated purpose.

    Most of us are of the view that observation and scientific discovery is the pathway to learning about how the universe operates.

    We don’t start with a priori knowledge, and then force the data to fit the belief.

    We start with observations of the universe around us, postulate hypotheses to explain the observations & then attempt to disprove those hypotheses. If we cannot disprove them, we accept them as a good model to describe why things behave the way they do, until such time as new evidence comes along to disprove the hypothesis.

  294. consciousness razor says

    Then what do atheists claim? That everything is happening due to some intelligence, and according to some plan? Really? Tell me, in your own words if you please, what is your position on this? Just your position. Not any other atheist, but just you.

    My claim is that there’s no evidence for:

    1) A god or gods, or any supernatural intelligent beings like angels, demons, ghosts, etc. These in fact contradict the evidence we have, because the only intelligence we do know about arises because of physical interactions in systems like a human brain (or perhaps someday a computer).
    2) That things happen according to some kind of plan, except for plans which people or other animals make. Even Aristotle himself didn’t argue that everything needed a final cause, and we now know he was profoundly ignorant of evolutionary biology and cosmology, which offer better causal explanations without needing to invoke a final cause. And like any good believer, you are massively distorting the issue: the alternative to intentionality isn’t randomness; the alternative is unintentionality.

  295. Amphiox says

    Why don’t you give evidence that the universe a chance occurrence?

    Several reasons:

    1. We are not actually making this as a positive claim. And thus the onus of evidence isn’t on us.

    2. In the absence of any evidence at all, the most parsimonious a priori explanation is the automatic, and preferred, null hypothesis. The most parsimonious a priori explanations for the universe are either the universe arose by chance, or the universe has always been in existence. Neither of these explanations require any evidence to support them. As the most parsimonious null hypotheses, they stand until positive evidence is found to reject them. We have since found positive evidence that refutes the “universe was always in existence” null hypothesis, which leaves the universe arising from a chance event the remaining as yet unrefuted null hypothesis. (Not to mention that we actually do have several lines of indirect evidence that supports the idea that the universe arose from a chance event.)

  296. says

    Then what do atheists claim?

    Generally speaking, that gods are a construct of humanity and a superfluous one at that. And following from that, there are no good reasons to think that any claim to the contrary has any basis in reality.

    Beyond that, specifics depend on the claims on offer.

  297. says

    Why don’t you give evidence that the universe a chance occurrence?

    Chance as opposed to what, exactly? What do you mean by chance, and how do we know that’s the reason for the universe to exist?

  298. says

    As for what individuals make of it, that’s entirely up to the individual, however, most views that I have seen are along the lines of, the universe obeys the laws of physics as described by the theories of quantum electro-dynamics & the various forms of relativity.

    So, the universe ‘obeying’ the laws of physics is what? The universe acting as some intelligence, or everything happening by itself, like blind forces interacting blindly, or something else? Or we don’t know? What do you think?

  299. says

    Because you are making a positive claim: that the universe has a driving force.

    What we’re saying is this: ‘We don’t know exactly how the universe works, but so far we’ve not found any evidence of a driving force. However, we’re going to keep looking, and will change our position if any contradictory information comes to hand.’

    I am making no such claim. I said, I am just open to such possibility.

    But what you said is interesting. Because someone else just said the universe ‘obeys’ the laws of physics. When the universe ‘obeys’, doesn’t it mean there is some driving force behind it?

  300. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    rajkumar wrote:

    So, the universe ‘obeying’ the laws of physics is what?

    Don’t be obtuse. The word ‘obeying’ here means ‘occur according to’ without the implication of there being something issuing orders. Pick up a pencil and let it go – when it falls to the ground it is ‘obeying’ gravity, but gravity isn’t sentient.

    What do you think?

    I think you’re being an ass, simply for the sake of it. It’s patently obvious what we mean; you’re just deliberately misconstruing it.

  301. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Rajkumar, go drop a ball

    Repeat

    Repeat

    Then go back and read the posts. Try comprehending them this time

  302. phil12 says

    @Louis

    Hi Louis,

    I gotcha, yes I have had many discussions with many that are very similar to yourself so it is nothing new here as well. :)

    Unfortunately, for many that seem to have a similar attitude to yourself, there is either nothing that would even make them think that an unconditioned reality is possible, or would only accept evidence testable by the scientific method. (Not realizing that scientism is self-contradictory) The problem is they put themself in a box and don’t realize that a creator could not be part of creation, so therefore isn’t open to the scientific method, its no trick it just makes rational, logical sense. ;)

    I would love to run through a modern rational non-contradictory logical argument for an unconditioned reality, but I would like a better place to communicate then this. Messages on something like youtube would be much easier. If you have a youtube account please message me on youtube if you are up for it ;) send them to: beatmasterphil

    Thanks and have a great night!
    Phil

  303. says

    Don’t be obtuse. The word ‘obeying’ here means ‘occur according to’ without the implication of there being something issuing orders. Pick up a pencil and let it go – when it falls to the ground it is ‘obeying’ gravity, but gravity isn’t sentient.

    OK. I won’t be obtuse, but you try to be less poetic and more scientific then. The universe ‘obeying’ the laws of physics sends a very wrong message out…

    The laws of physics…. How does the universe have laws that work with microscopic precision? Laws that work with such astonishing precision, can we call these laws some intelligence at work? Not a separate intelligence that is controlling these laws, but the laws themselves being a part of some larger intelligence? Don’t get too upset. I am just asking a question. And believe me, my questions have nothing to do with intelligent design or creationism.

  304. Louis says

    Phil12,

    Does this creator interact with its creation in anyway? Especially post creation.

    If so, it is in principle detectable by science.

    Oh and “scientism” is one of my warning words! It terrifies me because it is so often used erroneously. Time will tell I guess.

    And sadly I have no YouTube account, so it will have to be here or, erm, here. You’ll have to put up with us howler monkeys and mockery-monsters. Who knows, you may grow to love us. We’re quite lovable really.

    I’ll try and go to bed now. I’ve been faking it for far too long. You have a good night too.

    Louis

  305. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    beatmasterphil prefers to communicate his novel rational god argument for unconditioned reality on YouTube.

    In other words, Louis, may masterbeaterphil have a moment of your time to talk to you about our savior?

    You’d be a huckleberry if you took hir up on this, and left the rest of us out. Maybe rajkumar could join you– he’s also got some mind blowing questions that are being ill-received locally. And while you are exhibiting superhuman patience, and like, unprecedented goodwill, just know that the rest of Teh Horde is grateful. And will offer you grog, bacon, *hugzies*’ and just about anything else that can be crammed into a USB and sent right to you personally.

  306. phil12 says

    Hi Louis,

    Well, I will admit this is a very unwieldy place to have an intellectual discussion but I’ll give it a shot.

    (Please if you do have any suggestions where we can discuss in a non-comment section format I am completely up for it!)

    ——

    So what we are going to do is go step by step so that we can clarify as we go if you have any questions. And then come to a rational and logical conclusion about the nature of reality.

    *We are first going to make what is called a complete disjunction, meaning that we are going to separate all that is into 2 possible categories that they could fall into. Meaning they reality can fall into one or the other, but not both:

    We first need 2 definitions:

    (a) conditioned reality: is an object, field, vacuum, atom, matter, i.e anything that exist, that needs at least one condition met to exist. Doesn’t matter what that condition is, but it means it does not exist with no conditions needed to be met to exist.

    (b) unconditioned reality: exact opposite, only difference is that this object, field, vacuum, atom, etc needs no condition met to exist. It is unconditioned.

    Here is our first step:

    1a)Either all of reality contains conditioned realities

    Or

    1b) There is at least one unconditioned reality in all of reality

    ——-

    So as you can see from above, what we have done is made a complete disjunction. Reality must fit into one or the other, our job is to figure out which is rational and logical for our present reality to fit into.

    Please confirm that this makes sense, and feel free to ask for any clarification so we are on the same page!

    ~Phil

  307. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    And believe me, my questions have nothing to do with intelligent design or creationism

    Or any other fucking thing.

  308. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    rajkumar wrote:

    OK. I won’t be obtuse, but you try to be less poetic and more scientific then.

    No. You want to play ‘gotcha’ games over language, go do it somewhere else.

    The laws of physics…. How does the universe have laws that work with microscopic precision? Laws that work with such astonishing precision, can we call these laws some intelligence at work? Not a separate intelligence that is controlling these laws, but the laws themselves being a part of some larger intelligence?

    I haven’t the faintest idea ‘how’, or how we would even go about determining an answer to that question. But I don’t intend to fill that particular gap in my knowledge by positing the existence of a supernatural intelligence without a good reason to do so.

  309. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    So unconditioned reality means “not real”?

    I’m sorry I was flippant with you a moment ago. I see that we agree on which of two well-defined categories to place the demiurge.

    Though you weren’t talking to me. Louis exclusively, I realize. However, I’d be glad to discuss the further on idontgiveafuck.fart…you know, not so many loud-mouthed assholes around.

  310. Amphiox says

    The laws of physics…. How does the universe have laws that work with microscopic precision?

    Um, because that’s the only kind of law that there can be? By definition?

    If it doesn’t work with microscopic (actually infinite) precision, it’s not a law.

  311. Amphiox says

    Laws that work with such astonishing precision, can we call these laws some intelligence at work?

    Only if we completely redefine the word “intelligence” into meaning something completely different from what it is currently considered to mean.

    Of course, if we do that, then human beings won’t be “intelligent” anymore.

  312. Amphiox says

    When the universe ‘obeys’, doesn’t it mean there is some driving force behind it?

    No.

  313. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    OK. I won’t be obtuse, but you try to be less poetic and more scientific then. The universe ‘obeying’ the laws of physics sends a very wrong message out…

    No, you just don’t understand the use of the language properly & you are being deliberately obtuse

    The laws of physics…. How does the universe have laws that work with microscopic precision? Laws that work with such astonishing precision, can we call these laws some intelligence at work?

    The anthropic principle. If they were different, then we would not be here to observe them. What’s your point?

    Not a separate intelligence that is controlling these laws, but the laws themselves being a part of some larger intelligence?

    You’ve made a bold claim there, about the nature of the laws of physics. Therefore, the onus is now on you to provide some evidence to support the claim or risk being pointed at and laughed at for continuing to wank in puplic.

  314. Louis says

    Phil12,

    If I say “okay”, as in “understood”, but withhold any agreement would that be okay? I’d just like to see you lay this out in full. Expand please.

    Thanks

    Louis

  315. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    WTF? puplic? what the hell is wrong with my keyboard?

    Insert b approbriately

  316. says

    I haven’t the faintest idea ‘how’, or how we would even go about determining an answer to that question. But I don’t intend to fill that particular gap in my knowledge by positing the existence of a supernatural intelligence without a good reason to do so.

    No one is talking about any ‘supernatural’ intelligence. I am not playing with words here, but you gotta read carefully what I am writing here. I am talking about the laws of physics as they are, as we understand them. When they work so accurately, and with such breathtaking accuracy, can we call them intelligence at work? Remember, calling these forces ‘the laws of physics’ is just a human way of understanding these forces. Calling them ‘intelligence at work’ will be another way of saying the same thing. Call them ‘laws’, call them ‘intelligence at work’, or call them ‘intelligent laws at work’, these are all human definitions. Do you have a problem with calling these laws ‘intelligent laws’? Maybe you do, and I think it has something to do with the intelligent design theory. I see a hint of bias here.

  317. says

    You’ve made a bold claim there, about the nature of the laws of physics. Therefore, the onus is now on you to provide some evidence to support the claim or risk being pointed at and laughed at for continuing to wank in puplic.

    See my post above.

  318. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    .Of course, if we do that, then human beings won’t be “intelligent” anymore.

    We are accumulating evidence that a significant portion of the human species is not intelligent. Without need for a redefinition of the word “intelligence”

  319. phil12 says

    Antiochus Epiphanes wrote:

    “Louis…don’t got to sleep…go over to YouTube.
    *PLZ*?”

    Louis said he didn’t have a Youtube account? This doesn’t seem like a good way to get an intellectual discussion started… :\

    Anyhow, I do have any early morning so I’m off to bed, but I’kk be back in the morning. Louis, I definitely prefer to hear from you via PM on youtube, or another site that would work for you, but if not I can do my best to discuss in this comment section.

    G’night,
    Phil

  320. says

    I suppose you *could* be an atheist and believe that there is an over arching intelligence or plan for the universe. Usually claims for an over arching intelligence or plan for the universe involve calling that intelligent planner a god, but it’s not technically necessary.

    If you believed that you were in the matrix (or a brain in a vat) and that the programmers were intelligent aliens, then well, you’d be a whacko. But you could still be an atheist whacko.

  321. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Do you have a problem with calling these laws ‘intelligent laws’? Maybe you do, and I think it has something to do with the intelligent design theory. I see a hint of bias here.

    In fairness, you are he one that seems to have a bias against intelligence. Or at least not the first fucking clue what is meant by that word.

  322. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Do you have a problem with calling these laws ‘intelligent laws’? Maybe you do, and I think it has something to do with the intelligent design theory. I see a hint of bias here.

    Yes I do have a problem with calling these laws intelligent, without completely redefining the word intelligent. You have (inspite of my request) provided no evidence to support such a wild assertion.

    Why do you assume your stupid assertion appears stupid because of a different stupid assertion? Is it because they are both stupid? Or is it because they both mis use the word “intelligent”?

    Your assumption that the laws of physics being so accurate is some how breath taking or intelligent is just more pseudo intellectual wanking

  323. phil12 says

    Hi Louis,

    Just saw your last response when I posted my last, so I will respond.

    It makes much more sense for you to say that you agree with what has been said during that step. Why is that? Well when going through a logical “argument” we want to first agree step by step with the premises by them self, and if it is a logically valid argument, then the conclusion will logically follow. (From logic 101 class, what becomes debatable is the premises, so we want to get premises that we both agree upon and see what follows.)

    I want to use pure reason and logic here, as that is one of the things you were looking for, and I love both. :)

    (I can assure you this is not proving God in the sense you are thinking, this is first getting at your first question of defining God.)

    G’night,
    Phil

  324. says

    Only if we completely redefine the word “intelligence” into meaning something completely different from what it is currently considered to mean.

    Of course, if we do that, then human beings won’t be “intelligent” anymore.

    There is another option too. We could take our understanding of what ‘intelligence’ is to the next level up. In other words, expand the definition of ‘intelligence’ by integrated more definitions into it. I think this is going to happen sooner or later.

  325. Amphiox says

    When they work so accurately, and with such breathtaking accuracy, can we call them intelligence at work?

    No.

    Calling them ‘intelligence at work’ will be another way of saying the same thing.

    Not in the english language it isn’t. Because in the english language, the word “intelligence” DOESN’T CARRY SUCH A MEANING.

    To do so consistently would require a redefinition of the word “intelligence” into something so holistically broad as to have to practical meaning. Such a definition would also disqualify humans from “intelligent” beings.

  326. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    rajkumar wrote:

    Call them ‘laws’, call them ‘intelligence at work’, or call them ‘intelligent laws at work’, these are all human definitions.

    Yes, and the reason they are definitions is because they have specific meaning. Intelligence refers to a mind and/or a consciousness. Since there is no reason to believe there is a mind/consciousness controlling what we call ‘laws’, it would be inaccurate to use the term in that context.

  327. Amphiox says

    There is another option too. We could take our understanding of what ‘intelligence’ is to the next level up.

    No. Because the two meanings are mutually incompatible. No amount of “expansion” is going to accommodate both.

    In other words, expand the definition of ‘intelligence’ by integrated more definitions into it.

    The more definitions you integrate into a word, the less useful and less meaningful that word is. Might as well “integrate” ALL meanings into the word “MU”, and have ALL conversations be MU MU MU MU MU.

    Think of the savings in keyboard manufacturing.

  328. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    There is another option too. We could take our understanding of what ‘intelligence’ is to the next level up. In other words, expand the definition of ‘intelligence’ by integrated more definitions into it. I think this is going to happen sooner or later

    More wanking rajkumar.

    You can’t make the laws of physics intelligent without distorting the word intelligent to the point that it screams in horror, pleads for mercy, before finally giving up and going insane.

    Perhaps whilst we redefine it, we can also respell it. And change the pronounciation of it. I propose:

    incomprehensible.

    Then even phil12 can join in & use it too!

  329. Amphiox says

    I suppose you *could* be an atheist and believe that there is an over arching intelligence or plan for the universe.

    Sure you can. You could, for example, believe that the universe is a closed time-loop, controlled by advanced naturally evolved intelligences from the “end” of time, travelling backwards to the beginning. Or you could posit a multiverse in which advanced, naturally evolved intelligences from another universe created this particular universe with some over arching plan.

    There’s no evidence for either of these ideas, but both are wholly atheistic ones.

  330. Amphiox says

    Maybe you do, and I think it has something to do with the intelligent design theory. I see a hint of bias here.

    We have a bias towards wanting words such as “intelligence” to have definitions that are actually meaningful and useful, that much is true.

  331. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    @Amphiox

    Mu mu mu mu. Mu mu, mu mu. “mu, mu mu mu mu mu.” mu mu.

    MU!

    ROFLMAO!

  332. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Amphiox
    Consider this. The utterance “MU” is part of the utterance “SMURF” which can be used to mean exactly everything as well.

    Or maybe I *headdesked* 5-100X more than the surgeon general* recommends in the last hour or so. So Bedways is bestways. Nighty night all.

    *That’s like the national physician of the US of A, my non-USAnian homies.

  333. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    rajkumar:

    The laws of physics…. How does the universe have laws that work with microscopic precision? Laws that work with such astonishing precision, can we call these laws some intelligence at work? Not a separate intelligence that is controlling these laws, but the laws themselves being a part of some larger intelligence?

    One of those laws that seem so amazing to you, Newton’s fist law of motion, says this:

    Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.

    Notice carefully that it says that an object at rest will just sit there. It frakking stays there and it doesn’t move. And that, to you, is an indication of a great intelligence.

    See, people used to think that there were little angels and demons pushing and pulling on moving objects, or that objects had an internal spirit that wanted to move or sit or float. Or that the gods breathed on it and it moved.

    Then Newton cleared all of that superstition out of the way, and reduced motion down to the simple basics. He swept all the gods and demons away, and let us all see that things just stay where they are unless something else affects them. There was no god needed.

    And now, after only a few hundred years of sanity, people like you are using all his brilliant work to bring the superstition back. You cannot frakking understand the simplicity of the “law” and you fixate on the word “law” and demand a law-maker.

    Listen, rajkumar, the unerring invariance of the ways in which the universe works, the stability that lets us formulate “laws”, is one of the greatest indications that there is no supernatural. If we could pray or hate or otherwise emote the supernatural forces to affect the material world, there would be no physical laws.

    If miracles occurred, there wouldn’t be laws.

    To argue that a rock that just sits there is proof of an intelligent designer is not just stupid, but an ironic setback of human progress.

    The physical “laws” of the universe do not require a designer, and recognition of those laws was one of the things that set us free from superstition.

    I’m not say that a universe in which such laws exist could not have been designed, but that there is no need to think so. And I am saying that if you want to mess about with something that creationists use as an argument, you had best be damned careful.

  334. Woo_Monster says

    Phil,

    I want to use pure reason and logic here, as that is one of the things you were looking for, and I love both. :)

    (I can assure you this is not proving God in the sense you are thinking, this is first getting at your first question of defining God.)

    G’night,
    Phil

    Oh, please pretty please Mr. Invisible Pink Unicorn,* let Phil’s attempts to lead Louis through hir grand argument that uses “pure logic and reason” take place here. Stop trying to steal Louis from Pharyngula, Phil, and finish your argument. Not that I have high hopes for your argument, but as nigel wisely said, “The popcorn is for the feeding frenzy that follows.”.

    rajkumar,
    You know, I’m totally starting to get what you are laying down here. I see it. Proof! Proof of a GOD! Here is how I understand the argument to go… Because the universe and the laws of nature mu mu mu, mu mu, mu mu. Therefore God! Can’t you all see it?

    *While reading up-thread, I was pondering if I was agnostic as to the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Is an object that is both invisible and pink logically possible?

  335. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    Is an object that is both invisible and pink logically possible?

    The Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessings on her holy hooves) is both invisible and pink and is logically necessary.

  336. Woo_Monster says

    The Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessings on her holy hooves) is both invisible and pink and is logically necessary.

    Alright, I’ll grant you that. What about invisible pink objects that are not The Invisible Pink Unicorn(May Her Hooves Never Be Shod)?

    *I apologize for blaspheming earlier by being too familiar** with her holiness’ title.

    ** Perhaps the reason is because my personal relationship with her is so strong. I have seen her. Those with enough faith are allowed glimpses. Guess it is something only a TRUE BELIEVER gets to experience. I am actually a closet militant gnostic theist about The Invisible Pink Unicorn (Peace Be Unto Her).

  337. Woo_Monster says

    me,

    Is an object that is both invisible and pink logically possible?

    That is a dumb question. The question I was actually wondering about is whether it is wrong to be gnostic about disbelief in things that have logically contradictory properties.

  338. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    You know, I’m totally starting to get what you are laying down here. I see it. Proof! Proof of a GOD! Here is how I understand the argument to go… Because the universe and the laws of nature mu mu mu, mu mu, mu mu. Therefore God! Can’t you all see it?

    OOOOOohhhhhhhhh!

    I see!

    I have seen the light!

    Yes!

    Ummmmm

    *{sounds of neurons shorting out}*

    Mu! Mu mu, mu mu!

    (can I add a new word, to cover all the ones missed out on the last round of rationalisations?)

    Ug. Ug ug ug. Ug, ug ug ug.

    Mu, ug.

    Isn’t progress a wonderful thing?

  339. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    That is a dumb question. The question I was actually wondering about is whether it is wrong to be gnostic about disbelief in things that have logically contradictory properties

    You mean like gods?

  340. says

    Listen, rajkumar, the unerring invariance of the ways in which the universe works, the stability that lets us formulate “laws”, is one of the greatest indications that there is no supernatural. If we could pray or hate or otherwise emote the supernatural forces to affect the material world, there would be no physical laws.

    Seriously, I am not talking about any supernatural phenomenon here. I am just asking if these physical laws, the ones that Newton discovered and then bought a patent on them, could be called ‘intelligent physical laws’, since they work with such amazing precision and accuracy. Like, the laws know how to assemble atoms into molecules. No supernatural, no woo, no ghost, no soul, no God.

  341. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    Define “amazing precision and accuracy”, or maybe quantify it.

    The laws that “know how” to assemble atom into molecules don’t know anything. There is just the way that atoms happen to combine, and you really can’t say how often things go wrong.

    Atoms, for instance, by your standards are made by wonderfully wise laws that mystically follow the ineffable formulas laid down by the creative mind of which the universe is an dim expression. Then, in this real world, half the the damned atoms decay — they just fall a-damned-part — at completely unpredictable times. Fucking atoms, how do they work?

    We can predict half-lives of masses of certain atoms, and that follows “laws”, but each individual atom follows no law at all.

    Where is your lawmaker now?

    (I am not a nuclear physicist, and it is 1:00 AM. But rajkumar isn’t reading for comprehension anyhow.)

  342. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Seriously, I am not talking about any supernatural phenomenon here. I am just asking if these physical laws, the ones that Newton discovered and then bought a patent on them, could be called ‘intelligent physical laws’, since they work with such amazing precision and accuracy. Like, the laws know how to assemble atoms into molecules. No supernatural, no woo, no ghost, no soul, no God.

    No, you cannot call them “intelligent physical laws.’ That would be stupid. See previous posts.

    The laws do not “know” how to assemble atoms into molecules. Stop anthropomorphising concepts without regard for reality. You are just looking more and more foolish.

    AFTR, Newton did not patent the laws of motion, nor of gravity. That would be a violation of patent law.

  343. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    Rajkumar, you are like the creationists who bleat about the amazing order in the universe. Where, exactly, is the fricking order?

    I can’t even tell what the weather will be tomorrow, and I’m hoping to make a trip to where a meteor just randomly slammed into a random part of Missouri at some random time in the past. The only order I see is that this ball of rock is rotating at a fairly constant rate. All else is chaos.

    If we move up from the molecules you mentioned into the cells of living things, we hear a lot of people discussing the amazing mechanisms and order within a cell. Except, as was said on this blog, it’s all just electrostatics and Brownian motion.

    As I said earlier, the laws of the universe could be the product of an intelligence. But we have no reason to think so, and you certainly haven’t made your case.

    Tell me what you want me to say, and I’ll say it, and you can maybe make a point. Okay?

    “The laws of the universe are necessarily the product of an intelligent designer … which is obviously the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

    Ramen.

  344. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Quantum mechanics actually predicts the behaviour of atoms very well. But Menyambal is right. the theory cannot predict the specific behaviour of any given atom. only the probability of what they might do given certain stimuli

  345. says

    I can’t even tell what the weather will be tomorrow, and I’m hoping to make a trip to where a meteor just randomly slammed into a random part of Missouri at some random time in the past. The only order I see is that this ball of rock is rotating at a fairly constant rate. All else is chaos.

    So, if you can’t tell what the weather will be tomorrow, does that mean there is no order in the universe, or does it mean you do not know how to predict weather accurately? When atoms behave in manners which scientists do not understand, does that mean the atoms are behaving randomly like a bunch of crazies, or does that mean scientists still do not understand a lot about atoms? Why blame your own shortcomings on the universe?

  346. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Please don’t be fucking stupid rajkumar. Atoms behave in a pseudo random manner when observed individually. When viewed as a large group they demonstrate that they are following statistical patterns & so, as a group they are predictable, but as individuals, they are bloody hard to predict.

    This is not because scientists don’t understand atoms, it’s because the nature of atoms as individuals is to be unpredictable.

    I suggest you go and read up on heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and perhaps schrodinger’s cat.

    If you’re not prepared to do some of your own research into how the world works, stop coming here and trolling and bleating about intelligence, when you have shown that you have a severe shortage of the stuff.

  347. says

    This is not because scientists don’t understand atoms, it’s because the nature of atoms as individuals is to be unpredictable.

    I didn’t really say scientists ‘do not understand atoms’. What I said was more along the lines that maybe they don’t ‘fully’ understand them, which is true by the way.

  348. KG says

    I am just asking if these physical laws, the ones that Newton discovered and then bought a patent on them, could be called ‘intelligent physical laws’, since they work with such amazing precision and accuracy. – rajkumar

    No, they couldn’t. Next stupid question.

  349. says

    I went and read through every single one of rajkumar’s posts. What I don’t understand is seeing the benefit of calling the laws of physics “intelligent”. If we’re putting an analogy to our intelligence, it clearly fails as our intelligence is a very different kind of thing from how gravity works. If it’s simply that intelligence and the laws of physics are both capable of design, then the analogy is not really doing any intellectual work.

    In other words, I think what rajkumar is offering is a deepity. In any sense of truth it’s trivial, and in its profound implications is deeply misleading. One could, I suppose, say that there’s an intelligence to the laws of physics, but it would be dressing up a mundane point as profound – and in a very misleading sense at that. What good can come of that other than pushing a poetic appreciation?

    Perhaps the most charitable way of interpreting such a view would be to treat it like The Selfish Gene, that the metaphor is there to help convey understanding. But if that’s the case, what the hell does that have anything to do with atheism? It seems to talk about the “intelligence” behind the laws of physics in terms of intent and will would be to destroy such a metaphor; that we would then talk about the difference between top-down and bottom-up design and what the difference is between the two. But if we’re leaving it as some poetic way of describing the outcome of constrained processes, then any attempt to inject intelligence in the top-down sense is just irrelevant. What’s it got to do with atheism?

  350. KG says

    phil12,

    We first need 2 definitions:

    (a) conditioned reality: is an object, field, vacuum, atom, matter, i.e anything that exist, that needs at least one condition met to exist. Doesn’t matter what that condition is, but it means it does not exist with no conditions needed to be met to exist.

    (b) unconditioned reality: exact opposite, only difference is that this object, field, vacuum, atom, etc needs no condition met to exist. It is unconditioned.

    Here is our first step:

    1a)Either all of reality contains conditioned realities

    Or

    1b) There is at least one unconditioned reality in all of reality

    ——-

    So as you can see from above, what we have done is made a complete disjunction. Reality must fit into one or the other, our job is to figure out which is rational and logical for our present reality to fit into.

    Please confirm that this makes sense, and feel free to ask for any clarification so we are on the same page!

    *Yawn* I can already see where this worthless pseudo-intellectual wankery is going: some variant of the so-called cosmological argument. The words “reality” and “exist” are both too vague to be used in this way in the premises of an argument, at least without a lot more preliminary work. Do possibilities exist? Probabilities? Propensities or dispositions? Ideas? The square root of minus 1? Inaccessible cardinals? Our ideas of what it means to be real or to exist have changed radically since the formulation of relativity theory, which shows that space and time are not distinct, and quantum mechanics, which requires us to deal with entities which can behave either like waves or like particles depending on how we observe them, and with weird concepts such as the square roots of probabilities. The only coherent sense that can be given to the idea of an “unconditioned reality” is things that would exist in any logically possible (or to put it another way, consistently describable) universe. Which means abstract objects such as numbers. Not gods.

  351. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why do those like rajkumar who claim to be doing deep thinking, always sound unclear, incoherent, stupid, ignorant, illogical and poster people for Dunning-Kruger. Must be a character flaw. [/rant]

  352. says

    @ Kel:

    You are right. But there is, kind of, a deeply hidden point behind all this talk. We humans tend to see and observe the universe from a human standpoint, and in human terms, as if the universe was created exclusively for humans. Now, if the universe is **intelligent**, then we automatically assume that it must be the kind of intelligence that humans can understand. Similarly, if the universe has will and intent, then these must also be the kinds that humans can understand.

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent, and our intelligence, the human intelligence, is a very very small part of the universal intelligence. We are a part of the universe, and so is our intelligence a part of the universal intelligence. Now, trying to **understand** and **decipher** the universal intelligence using human intelligence would be like trying to the drain the ocean using a bucket. Don’t you think? If the universe is intelligent, why do we assume that it must be the kind of intelligence that we can understand?????? Don’t we have at least some limitations on our minds?

  353. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    suppose the whole universe is intelligent,

    Illogical and stupid question. Mental masturbation needed to answer such fuckwitted busllshit is not equal to deep and logical thinking, but rather fiction to make you feel good, but meaningless.

  354. says

    Now, if the universe is **intelligent**, then we automatically assume that it must be the kind of intelligence that humans can understand.

    The question is though, if it’s not the kind of intelligence humans can understand, then what good does saying it’s intelligent?

    Similarly, if the universe has will and intent, then these must also be the kinds that humans can understand.

    Again, if it’s not what we understand as will and intent, then what good does it do to describe it in those terms?

    It wouldn’t be right or wrong to talk about this hypothetical thing in such terms, it would just be meaningless.

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent, and our intelligence, the human intelligence, is a very very small part of the universal intelligence. We are a part of the universe, and so is our intelligence a part of the universal intelligence. Now, trying to **understand** and **decipher** the universal intelligence using human intelligence would be like trying to the drain the ocean using a bucket. Don’t you think? If the universe is intelligent, why do we assume that it must be the kind of intelligence that we can understand?????? Don’t we have at least some limitations on our minds?

    We have limitations, yes, but that’s not the problem here. What does universal intelligence mean if it’s not akin to human intelligence? Might as well say the universal wsjksfadfhdsjkf and leave any talk of intelligence out of it. If it is as incomprehensible as you are talking about, then aren’t you being misleading by putting comprehensible terms onto it?

    It seems to me that you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too. If you want to talk about something beyond, you’re inevitably going to have to relate it to the here and now. But trying to relate it to the here and now can only try to make it explicit. If it is beyond us, as you say, then the problem is insoluble, and to try to talk about it in human terms is only going to push those anthropic limits onto what is not meant to be limited by them.

  355. says

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent

    Now, why would I want to do that? Seriously, you have yet to provide a reason why the universe or the laws of physics could be considered intelligent? And if it’s a ‘kind of intelligence we can’t understand’, how come you seem to know about it? How can you even say it is intelligence?

  356. KG says

    rajkumar,

    But there is, kind of, a deeply hidden point behind all this talk.

    No, there isn’t. You’re just bloviating pointlessly about nothing much. It’s deeply boring and deeply stupid but that’s all the depth there is in it.

    We humans tend to see and observe the universe from a human standpoint, and in human terms, as if the universe was created exclusively for humans.

    No, it’s only religidiots like you who are prone to this.

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent

    If you have any evidence that it is, produce it. Otherwise, it would be more polite to keep your flatulent blithering to yourself.

  357. Louis says

    Phil12,

    I’m not being funny, but I’d rather you laid your case out first. I’m not sure I can take all the foreplay! You believe you have a case, let the dog see the rabbit. Don’t be so coy! I promise to be gentle and not try and put my hand up your skirt on a first date. I’m a gentleman, that’s very much second date territory. ;-)

    I say this on 2 hours sleep and not enough coffee, tomorrow may be different! Might have to wait until 3rd date.

    You seem to think you have a definition that hits my demand 1). I’ve encountered a few (see above theologians mentioned) that appear to fulfil it, but never really manage it on further scrutiny. I confess that might be my ignorance, but like I said, we’ve both danced this dance before. Lay out your argument, your definition, and I’ll see if it does what I think it needs to do. You never know, you might be the first to give me something novel (or at least novel to me).

    Louis

  358. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    I didn’t really say scientists ‘do not understand atoms’. What I said was more along the lines that maybe they don’t ‘fully’ understand them, which is true by the way.

    When atoms behave in manners which scientists do not understand, does that mean the atoms are behaving randomly like a bunch of crazies, or does that mean scientists still do not understand a lot about atoms?

    Perhaps you need to read your own posts a bit more carefully.

    As for your more recent assertions about the universe may be being intelligent in a way we can’t comprehend, perhaps you need reminding again, either state your evidence for such an outlandish suggestion, or find another location to mentally masturbate in. Because that’s all you’re doing. It’s tedious. We are not here to educate you in science. If you wish to come out as an atheist, then all you have to do is realise that there is no need for magical sky fairies, intelligent physics laws, or compassionate gravity. Your purpose comes from within you. Now please go and ruminate on what everyone has said here, and try processing it before you come back and try to tell us that the fact a rock doesn’t move is intelligent

  359. phil12 says

    Hi KG,

    Nothing personal but with all due respect, it is much better to take a more humble approach and understand fully what other people have to say before making judgements, acceptance or dismiss it, as that is the rational approach.

    “The words “reality” and “exist” are both too vague to be used in this way in the premises of an argument, at least without a lot more preliminary work.”

    Let’s make it easy for now, reality is being defined as anything that is not pure and absolute nothingness. So anything that is not pure non-being is something, (Of course nothingness is unthinkable, there never was pure nothingness, or we would not be having this discussion right now.)

    “Do possibilities exist? Probabilities? Propensities or dispositions? Ideas?”

    You bring up some good points here, all these do exist, *but* these are all immaterial realities. As all mathematical concepts and abstractions and concepts as a whole are.

    “Our ideas of what it means to be real or to exist have changed radically since the formulation of relativity theory, which shows that space and time are not distinct”

    I’m glad you bring up relativity theory, as that is huge to rational thought about the nature of the universe. Why is this? Well it helps to show what the real nature of time is and that time is an actual aggregate structure tied to space.

    “quantum mechanics, which requires us to deal with entities which can behave either like waves or like particles depending on how we observe them”

    Quantum mechanics is best to leave out, as the mathematics of it is very much confirmed, *but* there are anywhere from 8-12 equally valid interpretations of how quantum mechanics applies to the universe and reality as a whole. Unfortunately at this point quantum mechanics isn’t going to do us much good in how we can apply it to reality.

    “The only coherent sense that can be given to the idea of an “unconditioned reality” is things that would exist in any logically possible (or to put it another way, consistently describable) universe. Which means abstract objects such as numbers. Not gods.”

    We shall find out ;)

    Take Care,
    Phil

  360. phil12 says

    Hi Louis,

    Well we will see what comes of it, as like I mentioned this is a very awkward place to have an intellectual discussion.

    —-

    I think KG brought up a good point as lets understand reality to be anything that is not pure and absolute nothingness. (Please don’t confuse this with Krauss’ or Dawkins’ definition of nothingness, which is not absolute nothingness) So anything that is not pure non-being is something.

    —–

    Here we go again with step 1:

    1a)Either all of reality contains conditioned realities

    Or

    1b) There is at least one unconditioned reality in all of reality

    ——-

    Our job now is to look into (1a) and see if this could be true of reality.

    ———-

    ~Phil

  361. phil12 says

    Hi Louis,

    We will now be making another complete disjunction of (1a) in step 2.

    —–

    Step 2:

    2a) Either there is a finite number of conditioned realities in all of reality

    Or

    2b) There is an infinite number of conditioned realities in all of reality

    ——

    Again we make another complete disjunction, this time, though only under the (1a) all reality is condition original disjunction. We do this because we have to figure out if reality falls under any of these 2 choices.

    Again I will wait for your confirmation of this step to make sure you approve and understand where this has gone.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  362. Louis says

    Phil,

    Hi and thanks, yup, step 2 is understood, approval pending remember! ;-)

    Don’t drag it out too much, rip that band aid off.

    Louis

  363. KG says

    phil12,

    When you’ve seen the same bullshit 100 times, it’s quite obvious where the start of the 101st occasion is leading.

    Quantum mechanics is best to leave out

    No, it’s not, since it’s the best theory we currently have of how the universe works.

    “The only coherent sense that can be given to the idea of an “unconditioned reality” is things that would exist in any logically possible (or to put it another way, consistently describable) universe. Which means abstract objects such as numbers. Not gods.”

    We shall find out ;)

    I see you are unable to specify any other sense for “unconditioned reality”. So, taking “unconditioned reality” to mean “Anything that exists in any logically possible universe”, we know the answer to your “first step”. Yes, there are unconditioned realities, such as numbers, but even if any gods happen to exist, they are not unconditioned realities, because there is nothing logically impossible in the concept of a godless universe.

    There, simple.

  364. phil12 says

    Hi KG and Louis,

    PS – Wanted to let you know, If I were you I wouldn’t assume that I am a theist, I am interested in Truth wherever it may be found.

    Remember the best way to find truth is to keep an open mind to wherever it comes from, but remember we must use our reason at the same time. Even among the biggest thickets of falsity can the smallest speck of truth be found.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  365. says

    Has anyone ever stopped and wondered why these arguments were not needed even for truely outrageous discoveries like partical dueality? Why is god the only thing we can’t just point at and demonstrate and instead requires a trip to the “pure reason” glory hole?
    Because… Uhm… Well… GOD! And… Uhm… Jesus? Right? Yes. JESUS!

  366. phil12 says

    Hi KG,

    “So, taking “unconditioned reality” to mean “Anything that exists in any logically possible universe””

    That is not what we defined “unconditioned reality” as. Unconditioned reality was a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be. It is ultimately shown to exist of pure necessity.

    “Yes, there are unconditioned realities, such as numbers, but even if any gods happen to exist, they are not unconditioned realities, because there is nothing logically impossible in the concept of a godless universe.

    There, simple.”

    We shall find out. ;) Let us use our reason, to actually reason about it. If we come to the conclusion that there is at least one unconditioned reality in all of reality, then our next step is the further define it via reason.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  367. Anri says

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent, and our intelligence, the human intelligence, is a very very small part of the universal intelligence. We are a part of the universe, and so is our intelligence a part of the universal intelligence. Now, trying to **understand** and **decipher** the universal intelligence using human intelligence would be like trying to the drain the ocean using a bucket. Don’t you think? If the universe is intelligent, why do we assume that it must be the kind of intelligence that we can understand?????? Don’t we have at least some limitations on our minds?

    If you are aguring that your hypothetical universal intelligence is detectable, than we can scientifically quantify it.

    If you are arguing that it’s not, than it is indistinguable from non-existant and may safely be ignored.

    In either case, before this intelligence can be considered a factor, some sort of evidence for it existing in the first place must be supplied. Otherwise, it’s no more sensible than assuming your ice cream cone is intelligent and that eating it is commiting a grave crime.

    So, if you want people to seriously consider the concept that there is a guiding intelligence for the universe, you need to present evidence for that. Otherwise, it’s just intellectual wankery.

  368. phil12 says

    Hi pentatomid,

    The reason is that you are confused about what is being discussed. We are not looking for some magic fairy or flying spaghetti monster; that is truly absurd. As Cardinal Pell put it, you are dumbing down God. I am much more interested in searching for what they call the Christian God (And not the God if fundamentalists either). That I have found to be a truly interesting topic.

    The other reason is God is not some scientific hypothesis, if so I say there is no good reason to believe in God at all. Of course science is not the only way to come to truth about the world, if we take a scientism type approach, most of us would be currently living a lie and would need to make a major shift in our philosophy.

    As I mentioned above, don’t assume I am a theist either, I am interested in Truth wherever is may be found. :)

    Take Care,
    Phil

  369. KG says

    phil12,

    You haven’t yet told us what you mean by “unconditioned reality”, if it is not things that would exist in every logically possible universe. If it does mean that, we already know there are unconditioned realities. If it doesn’t, your step 2 is premature.

  370. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Of course science is not the only way to come to truth about the world,Show another method that does a good of a job as science consisdtentlydoes. Or one that even works reliably and reproducibly. Revealed truth is an oxymoron.

  371. Anri says

    Unconditioned reality was a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be. It is ultimately shown to exist of pure necessity.

    Wait a sec.
    Just so I can keep up, why would we assume that something with no specific conditions of existence would be eternal?
    If there are no conditions predicated for it’s existance, couldn’t it exist or not, at any given time, essentially arbitrarily?

    Also, what about things that are essentially uncaused but apparently occur according to probabilistic conditions? I ask because there seem to be a lot of these sort of things in the very small scale of the universe. It is my (admittedly flawed) understanding that once you get down to a certain scale, one can only estimate the existence of a pretty decent batch of what’s comprising the ‘landscape’.
    Would such things be “conditioned” or “unconditioned” under your definition?

  372. phil12 says

    Hi KG,

    I have defined unconditioned reality 3 times. I will define both reality and unconditioned reality for you again.

    Reality: any object, field, vacuum, particle, wave, person, rock, etc… Reality is anything that is not pure nothingness. Everything that is, is a reality.

    Unconditioned reality: a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be.

    Do these make sense now?

    ——

    Again my step 2 was to inquire if the universe can only contain conditioned realities. If it is shown that it could, then we must address if the universe can contain at least one unconditioned reality.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  373. KG says

    phil12,

    Unconditioned reality was a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be. It is ultimately shown to exist of pure necessity.

    Something that “exists of pure necessity” is, precisely, something that would exist in all logically possible universes, like numbers. You have not given any other sense to the phrase. So, as I’ve said, we already know there are unconditioned realities.

    Let us use our reason, to actually reason about it.

    That’s what I’ve done. Do you really think all this wankery is new to most of us? Nor are you fooling us with your pretence of open-mindedness.

  374. phil12 says

    Hi Anri,

    “If there are no conditions predicated for it’s existance, couldn’t it exist or not, at any given time, essentially arbitrarily?”

    Good question, Would that be truly unconditioned or would that be a magic trick? I’m not talking about magic tricks here that would take too much faith. Even things that appear to pop randomly into and out of existence in our universe, particle within a quantum vacuum are conditioned. Why? If no quantum vacuum, no particles popping into and out of existence, there are conditions necessary that need to be. (We could make the jump and say that all within space/time is conditioned, because if no space/time, no realities within space/time. But we want to go about this slowly.)

    Take Care,
    Phil

  375. says

    Phil… I think you meant to adress Ing, and not me. The first part of my comment was meant to be blockquoted (but I screwed up). That is if you were adressing my nr. 415.
    I get that a lot of theists don’t believe in a big man in the sky. They put it in vague terms. But to me, that just seems like a diversion. Whatever this vague god-thing is, however sophisticated and complex an idea, if no evidence is presented for its existence, I’m not going to believe it.
    You say science is not the only way to find the truth about the world. Well… What else is there? The scientific method has been shown to work pretty well. Do you know any other methods that perform as well when trying to explain the stuff that goes on in the universe?

    Also, ‘scientism’… Really? Ugh.

  376. Anri says

    Unconditioned reality: a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be.

    How would we tell the difference between a conditioned and unconditioned item?

    I’m just trying to keep up here.

  377. phil12 says

    Hi pentatomid,

    I’m sorry about that, I apologize.

    —–

    “You say science is not the only way to find the truth about the world. Well… What else is there? The scientific method has been shown to work pretty well.”

    Based on this quote, would you agree with this statement below (If not please modify it):

    “The only way to true knowledge about reality is through items that are testable by the scientific method?”

    Take Care,
    Phil

  378. KG says

    Reality: any object, field, vacuum, particle, wave, person, rock, etc… Reality is anything that is not pure nothingness. Everything that is, is a reality.

    Unconditioned reality: a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be.

    Do these make sense now?

    No, it’s far too vague – deliberately so, I would say, as the normal case in these kinds of argument is that terms change their meaning between premise and conclusion.

    1) Are you limiting reality to non-abstract entities, excluding numbers, for example?
    2) If you are limiting reality to non-abstract entities, are you limiting it to entities which exist in the spacetime continnum we inhabit?
    3) What do you mean by “a reality that needs no conditions met to exist”, if you are excluding abstract objects? Give an example – a hypothetical one if you like. If you can’t give an example, I don’t think the concept is sufficiently clear to be used in the premise of an argument.
    4) What is meant by saying something “simply was”? Either it was or it wasn’t: the “simply” does no conceptual work as far as I can see.
    5) Are you assuming past time is infinite, i.e. that there was a time a trillion years ago, a quadrillion years ago, a quintillion years ago, and so ad infinitum? If so, on what grounds?

  379. Rey Fox says

    To all these “open-minded” supposed non-theists: There’s nothing wrong with being an atheist. Just call yourself an atheist and be done with it. It doesn’t matter what unconditioned cosmic intelligence-that-is-not-really-intelligent there may or may not be out there hiding behind an asteroid or only accessible to a mind on mushrooms, being an atheist is more fun. And we have pie.

  380. Rey Fox says

    Oh, and also, we’re not corresponding by wax-sealed mail delivered by brave Pony Express men. So there is no need to sign your comments at the bottom.

  381. phil12 says

    Hi Anri,

    “How would we tell the difference between a conditioned and unconditioned item?

    I’m just trying to keep up here.”

    Science can actually tell us a lot about that, can it tell us everything; probably not, but we won’t make that statement until we could actually reason about it.

    Science explains how and, yes unfortunately for Dawkins, science can answer the ‘why’ questions about many things. Our first hint is if something has a how or why question that it still leaves unanswered and needs to be answered by something else, it is conditioned.

    Take a tree for example, we can ask and answer many questions about it, but ultimately we come to questions that the tree can’t answer itself. (i.e. photosynthesis, what is it? Well the sunlight, etc. Oh well what is this sun and light rays?)

    So as we see the tree is dependent upon conditions being met to exist, it does not explain itself fully. That is one of the biggest ways to know you are dealing with an conditioned reality. (Then of course we can ask, does the universe and space/time itself explain itself, to try and figure out if space/time itself is conditioned or not. I think we know the answer to that, but let’s not get ahead of ourself.)

    Hope this helps!
    Phil

  382. says

    Phil,

    I’m sorry about that, I apologize.

    No problem. My bad for messing up the blockquote.

    Anyway, would I agree with “The only way to true knowledge about reality is through items that are testable by the scientific method?”.
    Well, no, not necessarily. What I’m saying is that I can’t think of any other, better way to come to an understanding of the universe. Certainly, at the moment it’s the best thing we’ve got and pretty much the only game in town. If you think there is an other way, then please explain. I’m having trouble understanding, though, how such an ‘other way’ could even be evaluated, except through science.

  383. Anri says

    Ok, Phil, if I understand you definition of conditioned existence correctly, the only objects that could be considered unconditioned are those that do not interact with any conditioned objects, as the interaction is by definition conditioned on the conditioned object’s existence, and therefore adds conditions to any interacting object.

    In that case, I would say that the existence of unconditioned objects is utterly irrelevant, as they cannot interact with conditioned reality without taking on an aspect of conditionality themselves.

    Am I following your definitions here?

  384. phil12 says

    Hi KG,

    It might be best for you to duck out at this point, if you are not following on something as inclusive a definition as I am putting forward, we probably won’t get anywhere.

    Again, a reality is everything that is not absolute nothingness. Does that make sense. You are a reality, a vacuum is a reality, space/time is a reality etc.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  385. KG says

    Phil12,

    No, you’re just piling obfuscation on obfuscation, in typical religious fashion. Of course a tree can’t “explain itself” – it can’t either think or talk. Nor can the universe. So what? Presumably you mean something else by “explain itself”, but you haven’t said what.

    Science explains how and, yes unfortunately for Dawkins, science can answer the ‘why’ questions about many things.

    I’m not sure what you think your point is here. IIRC, Dawkins has himself stressed that science can answer “why” questions. Are you perhaps thinking of Stephen Jay Gould?

  386. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    . Does that make sense.No more than the rest of your whacky-backy ramblings.

  387. phil12 says

    Hey all,

    As I had figured, comment sections are a very unwieldy place to try and have an intellectual discussion.

    I am completely up for continuing the discussion but via a PM so we can lay things out and keep separate conversations organized.

    Please feel free to message me on youtube, as that seems like one of the most common places that people have accounts. Message me at youtube user: beatmasterphil

    If no messages come my way I promise I will not be offended ;)

    Short of that have a great day and happy truth hunting!
    Phil

  388. phil12 says

    Hi KG,

    “I’m not sure what you think your point is here. IIRC, Dawkins has himself stressed that science can answer “why” questions.”

    No Dawkins himself in this debate above says that why questions are silly. He has said that for over a year now too.

    Anyhow, I am out please message me on youtube if you would like to discuss further.

    Take Care,
    Phil

  389. KG says

    phil12,

    Does that make sense.

    It’s not obvious nonsense, but as I’ve already said, it’s far too vague to be useful. I asked you several specific questions in an effort to make it less so, which you either can’t or won’t answer.

    It’s abundantly clear you have nothing to say that most of us haven’t seen many times before: just reams of deliberately vague waffle that end with you triumphantly pulling God out of your arse.

  390. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s abundantly clear you have nothing to say that most of us haven’t seen many times before: just reams of deliberately vague waffle that end with you triumphantly pulling God out of your arse.

    QFT

    Phil, if your deity isn’t imaginary, you should be able to provide solid and conclusive physical evidence for it. If it only exists in your delusional mind, then any argument you present is simply your justification for your delusion, and no reason for anybody else to do anything other than to laugh at your specious and delusion argument devoid of reality.

  391. Brownian says

    feralboy: breakfast must be delightful in the household of a topologist

    Fun fact: In every discussion of topology I have ever been part of, eavesdropped on, or induced with sodium pentothal and a bowl of warm milk, a coffee cup and a doughnut are given as examples of homeomorphic shapes. (Hell, look up both ‘topology’ and ‘homeomorphic’ on Wikipedia.) I sense a paradigm!

    As I had figured, comment sections are a very unwieldy place to try and have an intellectual discussion.

    Good trick:

    1. Claim that blogs are too ‘unweildy’ for your Sophisticated Theology™.
    2. Propose novel definitions of common concepts (nobody’s ever done that before) that clearly must be accepted for your little logic game to work.
    3. When someone challenges your definition, ask them to leave the conversation.
    4. When they don’t, declare that you were right all along about the ‘unwieldiness’ of blogs for Sophisticated Theology™.

    Phil12′s right, though, that open fora such as this are poor places to play such games. There are too many people who can potentially see through rhetorical trickery.

  392. KG says

    Brownian,

    The “Don’t assume I’m a theist, I’m just seeking the truth” schtick is pretty standard, too.

  393. says

    Phil12′s right, though, that open fora such as this are poor places to play such games. There are too many people who can potentially see through rhetorical trickery.

    Yep, pretty much this.

  394. says

    I’m not reading all the comments but have to support Dawkins on “Charles Darwin was not a theist.” His views changed over his lifetime, and he was very careful not to be too specific in print, but in private he wrote, towards the end of his life, that he could best be described as an agnostic. For verification, check “Darwin, His Daughter, and Evolution,” which was written by his great-grandson Randall Keynes, who had access to correspondence and family papers.

  395. says

    Pell’s thinking, and that of his supporters here, that H. sap. sap. evolved from H. sap. neandertalis and NOT THINKING IT MADE VERY MUCH DIFFERENCE if he were right or wrong really gives the lie to the Christian argument that you have to understand the depths of ‘sophisticated theology’ before you can criticize Christianity’s unrealistic claims.

  396. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The “Don’t assume I’m a theist, I’m just seeking the truth” schtick is pretty standard, too.

    Godbot speak for “I’m doing a presuppositional argument”.

  397. Louis says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. I go away for the afternoon and do some real work as opposed to pissing about in the office and you all break the new guy!

    Does this mean I have to create a YouTube account to ask the identical questions that KG has asked and had avoided?

    He was nice. I liked Phil. He didn’t tell me I was going to hell in the first comment, they usually do you know. He might even not be a theist. Oh Phil, come back and play!

    I reckon you could lay out your definition/argument in a post (perhaps two) and then we could see it for what it is. I don’t understand the need for privacy or why this particular comment thread is anathema to sensible discussion. We’ve managed it before after all.

    Seriously, if I had a coherent, logical etc etc etc definition for/argument for a deity, I’d be pretty proud. If it could fit (or be summarised) in a comment/post, or linked to in a comment box, I’d do it. Why is this somehow difficult to do? So why is this so hard? If it can be done in a YouTube message it can be done here, they are essentially the same format. If links are needed, links can be made. So come on, Phil, like I said, let the dog see the rabbit.

    Cheers

    Louis

  398. Anri says

    nigel:

    Hey! It reeks of cosmological argument in here.

    Someone open up a window.

    Yeah, this.
    I’m bad at predicting other people’s though processes, but I presumed we were going there sooner or later.

    Something along the lines of:
    - we conjecture that unconditioned objects might exist
    - therefore, by their very definition, at least one unconditioned object must exist
    - unconditioned objects share attributes with what we refer to as god: uncreatedness, eternal existence, etc.
    - WHOOT THERE IT IS!

    That’s why I was attempting to determine why unconditioned objects must be eternal (didn’t get a cogent response), how we could tell conditioned objects from unconditioned objects (didn’t get a cogent response), and how an unconditioned object could interact with a conditioned object without itself becoming at least partially conditional (didn’t get any response).

    Philosophy is interesting (what tiny amount of it I can understand), and can certainly help us think things through, but putting words together in clever ways does not actually force any imagined enteties into being.

  399. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but putting words together in clever ways does not actually force any imagined enteties into being.

    QFT

    Only solid and conclusive physical evidence can force being.

  400. Woo_Monster says

    As I had figured, comment sections are a very unwieldy place to try and have an intellectual discussion.

    What an intellectually dishonest shit-bucket. People refuse to accept his bullshit definitions, so he runs away.

    To phill, an intellectual discussion involves accepting whatever he claims to be valid premises without question.

  401. Louis says

    Anri,

    …putting words together in clever ways does not actually force any imagined enteties into being.

    It can, however, get rid of my mother in law. At least temporarily. I have yet to actually cause her to have internal bleeding by word choice. I am working on it.

    Louis

  402. Brownian says

    But what about PURE REASON and LOGIC?

    Their respective SDSes stipulate that they are not to be handled without adequate protective safety equipment under any circumstances, and that actual evidence is preferable when working with the likelihood of the existence of deities.

  403. rr says

    phil12:

    Reality: any object, field, vacuum, particle, wave, person, rock, etc… Reality is anything that is not pure nothingness. Everything that is, is a reality.

    Unconditioned reality: a reality that needs no conditions met to exist. i.e. It simply was, is, and always will be.

    You’re already in trouble if your argument requires more than one reality.

  404. Amphiox says

    When atoms behave in manners which scientists do not understand, does that mean the atoms are behaving randomly like a bunch of crazies, or does that mean scientists still do not understand a lot about atoms?

    A false dichotomy. You see, scientists understand how randomness behaves. So when a certain behavior is observed, we can tell if it is random or not.

    Behaviours which we do not understand are not automatically dumped into a bin called “random”. Instead, scientists work at producing hypotheses and models that try to explain these behaviours. Randomness may or may not be a part of these models.

  405. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But what about PURE REASON and LOGIC

    *SNORT*

    Translation: I think I have hidden my presuppositions well enough you won’t spot them on the first pass.

  406. Menyambal -- dog of an unbeliever says

    Phil12 was polite, dammit. He spent a lot of space and time in giving a cheerful salutation and sign-out to each comment. And you bastards just slapped him in the face with logic and coherent arguments. What an ungrateful retching of wretches.

    (Thanks for keeping up the greatness. What happened to rajkumar?)

  407. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What happened to rajkumar?

    I would say he is somewhere around Indian/Aussie time based on the timing of his posts. Probably sleeping.

  408. says

    That audience makes me want out of this country… I’m amazed Pell wouldn’t get in trouble for his evolution speech

  409. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Why could I hear phil12′s posts in my head sounding like the people of Kricket?

  410. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    And why, when phil12 was trying to lure Louis into his car YouTube account, did I feel somehow unclean? As though I’d been in the presence of a paedophile, or a priest.

  411. says

    The question is though, if it’s not the kind of intelligence humans can understand, then what good does saying it’s intelligent?

    Again, if it’s not what we understand as will and intent, then what good does it do to describe it in those terms?

    It wouldn’t be right or wrong to talk about this hypothetical thing in such terms, it would just be meaningless.

    I think what ‘good’ is something becomes quite irrelevant here, because we are not concerned with what’s good and what’s bad. We are concerned with what’s true. We are trying to find the truth here. Never mind its implications for the time being.

    We have limitations, yes, but that’s not the problem here. What does universal intelligence mean if it’s not akin to human intelligence? Might as well say the universal wsjksfadfhdsjkf and leave any talk of intelligence out of it. If it is as incomprehensible as you are talking about, then aren’t you being misleading by putting comprehensible terms onto it?

    To begin with, it should kind of change the way we look at the universe. If the universe is intelligent, never mind what sort of intelligence, then we can rest assured there are no ‘accidents’ or ‘chance occurrences’ in the universe, simply because the universe is intelligent. Everything, down to the movement of sub-atomic particles, to the movement of galaxies, and the ‘unpredictability’ of certain things, is happening because this is the way the universe intends it to happens. And this is the intent of the universe, which humans cannot fully understand. Plus, life evolved on planet earth, and we came into existence through evolution, because of this ‘intelligence’ and its intent.

  412. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Oooo! Rajkumar awakes!

    I think what ‘good’ is something becomes quite irrelevant here, because we are not concerned with what’s good and what’s bad. We are concerned with what’s true. We are trying to find the truth here. Never mind its implications for the time being

    And you are still misunderstanding. “good” in this sense should be read as “useful”, not “benevolent”. But you knew that, you are just being deliberately obtuse.

    And in the context of “what use is your undetectable idea that the universe is intelligent,” you still have not answered. Your hypothesis is not useful, because it has no meaningful impact on our lives. There is no evidence for the universe (or it’s laws) being intelligent. If there was, we would expect to see them varying in a manner which is counter to theory.

    In fact, your earlier point about the precision of those laws is a good indication that your hypothesis about them being intelligent is just plain wrong.

    And please, lets not go down the path of trying to redefine “intelligence” to mean something that it doesn’t so that you get to say “therefore: God”, because that will just elicit more derision in your general direction.

  413. says

    We are concerned with what’s true. We are trying to find the truth here. Never mind its implications for the time being.

    You didn’t address the problem posed… at all. Could yo ureread what I wrote please?

  414. Brownian says

    If the universe is intelligent, never mind what sort of intelligence, then we can rest assured there are no ‘accidents’ or ‘chance occurrences’ in the universe, simply because the universe is intelligent.

    Are you actually unaware of how fundamentally dishonest this is?

  415. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Raj suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    He also ignores anything that does not support his initial pre conception.

    He deliberately mis-interprets word usage, in an attempt to score cheap shots at others

    He attempts to redefine words out of usefulness.

    I suspect that he has even convinced himself that he is being honest. Dishonest people are usually most dishonest with themselves

  416. says

    You didn’t address the problem posed… at all. Could yo ureread what I wrote please?

    This is the best answer I could come up with. Maybe you can pose the problem differently.

  417. consciousness razor says

    phil12:

    Let’s make it easy for now, reality is being defined as anything that is not pure and absolute nothingness. So anything that is not pure non-being is something, (Of course nothingness is unthinkable, there never was pure nothingness, or we would not be having this discussion right now.)

    Why must it be the case that there was never “pure nothingness”? I don’t see a logical argument here, just an assumption. Richard Carrier recently wrote an article along these lines: Ex Nihilo Onus Merdae Fit.

    Though perhaps a blog like that is not a proper environment for a gentleman and a scholar such as yourself. YouTube would surely be more appropriate. It has more videos of water-skiing squirrels, for one thing, which makes everything better; and the commenters there are famous for their unrivaled open-mindedness to rigorous intellectual argument.

    You’ve spent a day fiddling with vague definitions — and for what, when you can’t even answer basic questions about them? Your obscurantism is transparent, ironic as that sounds. If you haven’t already flounced off to YouTube, are you ever going to get to the point?

  418. says

    And in the context of “what use is your undetectable idea that the universe is intelligent,” you still have not answered. Your hypothesis is not useful, because it has no meaningful impact on our lives. There is no evidence for the universe (or it’s laws) being intelligent. If there was, we would expect to see them varying in a manner which is counter to theory.

    Didn’t I answer that question. I will cut and paste the reply I gave below:

    To begin with, it should kind of change the way we look at the universe. If the universe is intelligent, never mind what sort of intelligence, then we can rest assured there are no ‘accidents’ or ‘chance occurrences’ in the universe, simply because the universe is intelligent. Everything, down to the movement of sub-atomic particles, to the movement of galaxies, and the ‘unpredictability’ of certain things, is happening because this is the way the universe intends it to happens. And this is the intent of the universe, which humans cannot fully understand. Plus, life evolved on planet earth, and we came into existence through evolution, because of this ‘intelligence’ and its intent.

    You are right there is no evidence that the universe and its laws are intelligent. But this is probably because we have defined intelligence, so far, in a very human way. We have no choice since we are humans, but the universe is not a human. How could you apply human terms on the universe, and expect to receive a meaningful answer? If there is intelligence, intent and will in the design of the universe, how could we ever interpret these qualities in human terms, i.e., intelligence, intent and will as defined by human values and social system? And when we can’t interpret these values and qualities in human terms, does it mean these qualities do not exist in the universe, or does it mean we didn’t quite understand what we were dealing with?

    You are saying, intelligence can only be what we have defined so far? Are you saying intelligence in any other form cannot exist????

  419. consciousness razor says

    You are right there is no evidence that the universe and its laws are intelligent supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But this is probably because we have defined intelligence supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness, so far, in a very human way.

    Makes just as much sense.

    We have no choice since we are humans, but the universe is not a human. How could you apply human terms on the universe, and expect to receive a meaningful answer?

    You are the one doing that, by calling it intelligent, an anthropomorphic term, and claiming there is a plan or a purpose to everything.

    And when we can’t interpret these values and qualities in human terms, does it mean these qualities do not exist in the universe, or does it mean we didn’t quite understand what we were dealing with?

    No one is saying “these values and qualities” (i.e., the laws of physics) do not exist. They just aren’t intelligent, which is what you’re claiming, because you don’t understand them.

    You are saying, intelligence can only be what we have defined so far? Are you saying intelligence in any other form cannot exist????

    Nope. Consider computers, for example. Some day, we may be able to make artificial intelligence. It would most likely be different from human intelligence in some ways. You may also consider some non-human animals intelligent in a certain sense. Or perhaps there are intelligent aliens, who may experience the world very differently from us and have a different kind of intelligence. Those are all potential forms of intelligence which are (or would be) different from that of humans, and none them are even remotely like the laws of physics themselves being “intelligent.”

  420. Amphiox says

    But this is probably because we have defined intelligence, so far, in a very human way.

    Exactly how do you propose that we, being HUMAN, define ANYTHING AT ALL, except in a human way?

    Your statement is incoherent.

    And when we can’t interpret these values and qualities in human terms, does it mean these qualities do not exist in the universe, or does it mean we didn’t quite understand what we were dealing with?

    This statement is even more incoherent.

    You are saying, intelligence can only be what we have defined so far? Are you saying intelligence in any other form cannot exist????

    Whatever it is, it still has to share enough characteristics with what we already understand to be intelligence, in order to warrant the label of intelligence. If it is sufficiently different, we should call it something else.

    But calling the laws of physics “intelligent” is about the same as calling sundial intelligent.

    Are you seriously suggesting that we cheapen the definition of intelligence so much that a sundial would qualify as intelligent?

  421. Amphiox says

    Everything, down to the movement of sub-atomic particles, to the movement of galaxies, and the ‘unpredictability’ of certain things, is happening because this is the way the universe intends it to happens. And this is the intent of the universe, which humans cannot fully understand.

    And this is cheapening and debasing the meaning of the word “intent” to the extent of rendering it meaningless as well.

    And since human beings are ultimately made up of subatomic particles, this also means that human beings have no free will, nor any responsibility for any of their actions, because all of it is the intent of the “universe”.

    And that is a VERY REPREHENSIBLE idea.

  422. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You are right there is no evidence that the universe and its laws are intelligent.

    This is a start, not the end of your inquiry. Your (not our) next step is for you to presume the universe and the laws of physics are not intelligent. Then the question becomes if they were intelligent, what properties would be there that could be tested for. A Turing test for example. What would be there compared to the universe and the laws of physics being non-intelligent. After you think about that for a proper length of time, say five years, get back to us with the falsifiable test you will run to demonstrate that the laws of physics are intelligent. We can vet your test protocol.

    Until then, shut the fuck about it, as the laws of physics are not intelligent, as you have no evidence that they are…

  423. says

    rajkumar:

    If the universe is intelligent, never mind what sort of intelligence, then we can rest assured there are no ‘accidents’ or ‘chance occurrences’ in the universe, simply because the universe is intelligent. Everything, down to the movement of sub-atomic particles, to the movement of galaxies, and the ‘unpredictability’ of certain things, is happening because this is the way the universe intends it to happens.

    One does not follow from the other.

    You are intelligent. Do you control all aspects of your body? Do you intend to get a cold, an upset tummy, a headache?

    If the universe is intelligent, intelligence would likely be an emergent property of the nature of the universe, not intrinsic to the universe itself. In that case, it may be intelligent, but completely unable to affect the processes of the universe, any more than your intelligence is able to affect your digestion, your blood flow, or the beating of your heart.

    Your conclusions don’t even follow from your propositions. You’re piling error on error, creating a tasty layered parfait of illogic.

    Mmmm. Parfait.

  424. Brownian says

    You are intelligent. Do you control all aspects of your body? Do you intend to get a cold, an upset tummy, a headache?

    Yeah, but it’s a different kind of intelligence. One we can’t even imagine. Therefore, God.

    Honestly, I’m about to start kicking these fucking brain-dead assholes off my planet. I’m that fucking sick of them. Don’t worry; God will have totally willed it to happen because there’s no such thing as random, or whatever the fuck—I don’t care, just as long as they suck vacuum until control rests in the hand of actual thinking humans again, godfuckingdamnit.

  425. Brownian says

    In other news, I’m going back on my meds.

    Thanks, you religious pukes. That’s what you fucks have done.

    I hope your lives are as miserable as you make others’.

  426. Amphiox says

    The whole universe is a giant brain!

    But of course, higher level thoughts require communication of information between different parts of the brain, and since information can only travel as fast as the speed of light, our universe brain would have had, since the big bang, just enough time for…. ONE…. thought.

  427. says

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls:

    Don’t mind me saying this, but I think your mind and your creative abilities are frozen at some point in time and space — a point which certainly doesn’t belong to this era. Maybe you went to school in the 60s. Am I right?

  428. says

    This is the best answer I could come up with. Maybe you can pose the problem differently.

    It’s no good to answer if you don’t understand the question. The best I can do is try to illustrate the problem for you.

    Imagine if someone asked “what does it mean to call God a he?” After all, God has no Y chromosome nor any anatomical features of masculinity since God is nontemporal. But then what sense does it mean to say God is male?

    The problem is trying to define what we mean by our attribution of language. As God is often referred to as a “he” makes very little sense, yet call God a “she” and see what reaction you get. “He” is an anthropomorphism, not any quality of God. Any attempt to salvage God’s masculinity (it’s sad, but there are people who do this) wind up not saying anything meaningful. It’s not either right or wrong to say that God is masculine, just not in any way we understand masculinity; it’s nonsense. It doesn’t add anything to refer to God as a he over a she because those human ways of looking at things are integral to the concept. Saying “what if God has a gender but it’s not in any way we understand gender”, doesn’t avoid the problem because if it’s not in any way we understand gender, then what is it we are saying?

    And this is the problem with talking about things like universal intelligence. Intelligence means something, so to talk of intelligence either means attributing what the conception means as we understand it, or using it in a way that it would be misleading. If we’re talking about a universal intelligence, then we are inevitably talking about something we understand: the concept of intelligence. This is different to whether or not we can comprehend the intelligence itself, but whether or not something has intelligence is inevitably linked to what we understand intelligence to be. It would be like saying “God’s eyes are blue, but not any blue that we comprehend.” It’s not right or wrong; it’s nonsensical! What can a blue that we don’t comprehend be? If it’s not blue as we comprehend it, then what sense is there in calling it blue?

  429. says

    Exactly how do you propose that we, being HUMAN, define ANYTHING AT ALL, except in a human way?

    Your statement is incoherent.

    Technically, I never said that we should define anything in a non-human way, since it is quite impossible. But I did say that we can remain open to the fact that intelligence can exist in forms which we do not understand, cannot understand, being humans. If we say the universe is intelligent, then it could be an intelligence that we do not understand. You know, like when we get invaded by intelligent aliens in movies? We do not understand their intelligence, but we still recognize it as some superior kind of intelligence, because they are, as the saying goes, kicking our ass so effortlessly.

    Whatever it is, it still has to share enough characteristics with what we already understand to be intelligence, in order to warrant the label of intelligence. If it is sufficiently different, we should call it something else.

    But calling the laws of physics “intelligent” is about the same as calling sundial intelligent.

    Are you seriously suggesting that we cheapen the definition of intelligence so much that a sundial would qualify as intelligent?

    Yes I agree. This is why I said in my one of my previous posts that the current definition of intelligence is not an absolute definition, over and done with. It can be expanded, even if it cannot be completely changed.

    I don’t think the sundial is intelligent, but what is keeping the sundial intact are intelligent forces. What makes it work are intelligent forces IF the universe is intelligent.

  430. says

    And this is the problem with talking about things like universal intelligence. Intelligence means something, so to talk of intelligence either means attributing what the conception means as we understand it, or using it in a way that it would be misleading. If we’re talking about a universal intelligence, then we are inevitably talking about something we understand: the concept of intelligence. This is different to whether or not we can comprehend the intelligence itself, but whether or not something has intelligence is inevitably linked to what we understand intelligence to be. It would be like saying “God’s eyes are blue, but not any blue that we comprehend.” It’s not right or wrong; it’s nonsensical! What can a blue that we don’t comprehend be? If it’s not blue as we comprehend it, then what sense is there in calling it blue?

    hmmm. I think I am **sort of** getting to the message you are trying to convey.

    Let’s take God’s eyes are blue example. Instead of saying ‘God’s eyes are blue’, what if I say ‘God’s eyes have some colour, but this is a colour that we cannot imagine or comprehend’? Let’s say having a colour here means not being black or white, or shades of gray. So, we can kind of imagine what it means for God’s eyes to have some colour, even if it is the kind of colour that we cannot imagine.

    Calling the universe intelligent in my case is like saying God’s eyes have **some colour** instead of saying God’s eyes have a **particular colour.** Although, we don’t know what colour are God’s eyes, but we do know God’s eyes are not black and white or shades or gray. Similarly, if being intelligent in very basic terms means being the opposite of dumb and mindless, then if we say the universe is intelligent, but we also say we do not know what sort of intelligence it is, we can still figure out what being intelligent here means. Like, the universe is **not** some blind and dumb and mindless forces interacting mindlessly……

  431. says

    rajkumar, I think you should put down the joint and get some sleep.

    That’s what you think. I think I should light another one…

  432. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Rajkumar

    Calling the universe intelligent in my case is like saying God’s eyes have **some colour** instead of saying God’s eyes have a **particular colour.**

    No it’s not. We understand colour generally as being a perception of a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. You could argue that god’s eyes are x-ray coloured, or microwave coloured, as your puny human eyes cannot perceive them, however: We can measure the absorbance/reflectance/transmission spectrum all the way from long radio waves through to gamma rays. Even though our eyes can’t perceive the colours, our instruments can. We understand the concept and can build instrument to measure the colour of this imaginary god’s eyes. What you are suggesting is that we redefine the word colour (as applied to eyes) to mean something that it does not. You will no doubt say that you don’t mean colour as being on the electro magnetic spectrum, at which point, you have then redefined the word colour to mean something different, and your analogy then becomes meaningless.

    You know, like when we get invaded by intelligent aliens in movies? We do not understand their intelligence, but we still recognize it as some superior kind of intelligence, because they are, as the saying goes, kicking our ass so effortlessly.

    NO! Here we can recognize the aliens as having intelligence, even though the mechanism is different to our own, they still meet the turing test for intelligence (did you even read up on that?)

    The universe displays none of those traits, and to suggest it is intelligent, you need to design tests to disprove the hypothesis. You haven’t done that, you have just repeatedly attempted to redefine the word intelligence until it is completely incomprehensible. This is not good thinking. It is stupid thinking.

    You can’t just decide to redefine words to mean something that they don’t, and then use that definition to prove the existance of a non existant deity, by reverting to the old definition of the word & claiming that because we accepted (we don’t) your redefined word, that it also applies to the old definition. It is backwards induction.

    “My cat has four legs. All dogs have four legs, therefore my cat is a dog.”

    This is the type of argument you are making, and it is WRONG and it is STUPID.

  433. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Like, the universe is **not** some blind and dumb and mindless forces interacting mindlessly……

    When all the evidence suggests that this is exactly what it is.

  434. says

    Catnip, Not a Polymath

    Seriously?? I was just giving an example, as did Kel. If you had to bring all the scientific information about colours and how we have instruments that can detect and measure colours, how did you miss the giant pink/purple/violet elephant in the room? It’s GOD’s eyes, remember? Where is God? This wasn’t a real world example. It was given just to explain a point. The same goes for the aliens example.

  435. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    Yes, I got the point of your example, and I was pointing out how your analogies just don’t work. You keep trying to define words out of existance. Why do you keep doing that?

    And why do you keep missing the point that just about everyone else is making? are you being deliberately obtuse?

  436. A. R says

    rajkumar: I’m here as a representative of a very special thread. A place where you can say nearly anything without getting banned, and where you can interact with others like you. If you accept this offer click this link: Link 1. If you decline, please click this link to discover where you will most likely end up if you keep going on like you are on this thread: Link 2. Thank you for your time. Goodbye.

  437. Catnip, Not a Polymath says

    And I was just about to suggest to Raj that he go get into phil12′s car Youtube account, so they can endlessly discuss how many pink elephants can dance on the head of an intelligent pin.

  438. Amphiox says

    I see rajkumar is still on its quixotic quest to redefine the english language until the words are dragged, kicking and screaming, into meaning what he wants them to mean.

    Like, the universe is **not** some blind and dumb and mindless forces interacting mindlessly……

    Except of course, that is EXACTLY what the universe appears to be, at all, and every, level of detail we have yet managed to be able to examine it at.

  439. says

    Yes, I got the point of your example, and I was pointing out how your analogies just don’t work. You keep trying to define words out of existance. Why do you keep doing that?

    And why do you keep missing the point that just about everyone else is making? are you being deliberately obtuse?

    No, I think you didn’t get the point, because if you did, you had no reason to bring that high school science about colour perception into the argument. It just made no sense. My guess, you still don’t get the point. My other guess is, you have memorized many books, and it’s now quite hard for you speak or hear anything that doesn’t rhyme with your memory store.

    Speak only for yourself please, because some others are making quite valid points.