1. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ OP

    Because it’s the only explanation that works with the evidence we have.

    Atheism, per se, does not provide any explanation at all. Where atheism feeds into this, is that it gives us the realisation that we are alone here. With no metaphysical explanations available, we are forced to seek explanations in observable reality. Perhaps, instead, you are referring to science?

    Actually science only attempts at truth. We know it doesn’t work as a complete explanation but only goes part of the way there (Feynman¹ was saddened by the idea that -at least for the biggest questions – we shall some day succeed.²) As scientists we can live with this. But religion cannot. It must have The Explanation ™ , The Truth ™.

    There is another “explanation” we need to address. That of purpose. Can science give an answer? I doubt it. Can atheism (as a disbelief in gods and the supernatural)? Not by itself. That is merely a negative. What we need is a more encompassing approach, and this we have in Humanism.

    Science aspires to explain. Humanism gives us purpose. religion gives us nothing but lies and censure.

    ¹ Though he raises another issue. We might be incapable of chosing between different explainations of the same phenomenon:

    Therefore psychologically we must keep all the theories in our heads, and every theoretical physicist who is any good knows six or seven different theoretical representations for exactly the same physics.


    It is like the discovery of America – you only discover it once. The age in which we live is the age in which we discover the fundamental laws of nature, and that day will never come again. It is very exiting, it is marvellous, but this excitement will have to go.

  2. MG Myers says


    Submission information is here.

    Also, if anyone has suggestions for the Monday Metazoan or Botanical Wednesday, feel free to send them to PZ. Readers come up with some of the best ideas!!!

  3. Crudely Wrott says

    @theophontes (坏蛋)

    Purpose? You expect the universe at large to provide that? Or philosophers? For comfort’s sake or to clean the windshield?

    How ’bout you and I assigning purpose as we go about doing whatever it is that we do? You know, purposefully. Simply because we can.

    Of course, I could be wrong about that. Perhaps there is no purpose. Perhaps sentience is like virtual particles, suddenly appearing and then gone, mutually annihilating.

    But in the mean time . . . we seem to take both great comfort and great distress because of one another. Life is too short to know for sure why that is so. Still, the ride is really something, innit?

  4. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ Crudely Wrot



    You expect the universe at large to provide that?

    No. The universe at large will provide all we need to understand and explain it. But it cannot say what we should do with that. We must provide that.

    Or philosophers?

    They can help. In principle (though we are long beyond those days) religion can also provide purpose. Our own created aspirations – the purpose we give ourselves can provide very positive improvements in our life circumstances. The Greek aspiration to “virtue” created a great civilisation that continues to feed us to this day. So that indeed:

    For comfort’s sake or to clean the windshield?

    Yes, on both counts. Hell, we can now set our science to work for us – to the extent that we can even create windshields. (Hephaestus would have been so proud that we have become like him.)

    How ’bout you and I assigning purpose as we go about doing whatever it is that we do?

    Together or separately? Ultimately, improving ourselves individually does improve us all. But, in my purview, we should ultimately be driven by social rather than individualistic daemons.

    Perhaps there is no purpose.

    If we do not create a purpose, there shan’t be one! It is not like gravity or hydrogen fission. (I wisely leave aside the debate of “free will” for the moment. This may mean nothing more than the universe folding in on itself – unexpectedly seeing itself. Surprised – even in its complete determinism.)

    Life is too short to know for sure why that is so. Still, the ride is really something, innit?

    Indeed, there need be no deeper “meaning” to our lives beyond the ephemeral enjoyment it gives us.

  5. Crudely Wrott says

    @theophontes (坏蛋)

    Thank you for taking the time to reply in such a thorough manner. I actually agree heartily with the essence of your reply in spite of my rather sarcastic tone.

    I’ve been in a surly state of mind of late and my comment above is a reflection of that state. I do need to work on that. Life has been tough this year and my usually sunny disposition has clouded over considerably.

  6. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ Crudely Wrott

    I hope things start getting better for you. This is an interesting subject, I think you will agree, and tone is of little consequence. (Especially on Pharyngula.)