Open thread for AETV #886: Islamophobia with Russell and Martin


Until the YouTube video gets uploaded, here’s an audio link.

Below, I’ve put up a partial transcript of what I was saying at the beginning of the show.

Sam Harris was recently on Real Time with Bill Maher, promoting his book Waking Up. Harris and Maher got in a bit of a mutual back patting session about Islam, saying: “Liberals have failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy, they’ll criticize Christianity. They still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. The crucial point of confusion is we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia – where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam is conflated with bigatory towards Muslims as people. Which is intellectually ridiculous.”

After a while, Ben Affleck cuts in saying that they are coming across as somewhat racist. I’ve seen a lot of response to this, often focusing on the notion that opposing Islam can’t be racist, because Islam is not a race.

I actually agree with Affleck to some extent. It’s true that religion is culturally determined to a great extent. However, race is *also* culturally determined to a great extent. People like Guy P. Harrison have often pointed out that the notion of “race” is a lot less objective and more fuzzy than most people seem to think it is.

And yet racism still obviously exists. Not because people base their perception of people on some clearly defined and measured traits, but because they take mental shortcuts to sum up a person’s entire character, based on hasty generalizations they make with only superficial information.

Now, obviously I agree that you can criticize religions. I do it all the time. Various beliefs in Islam are deeply problematic, and become more problematic if you take them seriously and literally. But just like there are varying degrees of liberalism vs. fundamentalism in Christianity and Judaism, the same spectrum exists in Islam. This past year I went with some friends to a mosque and got an all day lecture about the underpinnings of Islam. I found it to be full of crap, of course. But at no point did I feel physically endangered, sitting as a minority in a room full of committed Muslims wearing unusual clothes. On the other hand, there are lots of seriously committed, hardcore Jews in the world, who arrange marriages and isolate their kids from information about the rest of the world, and I mistrust those fundamentalists deeply.

Islam is weird okay? Fundamentalism kills: we agree on that 100%. Nevertheless, sometimes what people describe as “criticism” of Islam takes an ugly turn away from arguing with aspects of their books, and into outright xenophobia. When Sam Harris says we should be able to detain people at airports because of what they wear, it may not be racism, but it is definitely xenophobia. When paranoid British people write to me, as they have, that “those people” are about to take over the country, and the only proof they can offer is that some grocery stores advertise their products as Halal-friendly, that’s xenophobia.

The challenge of the modern world is to address the bad beliefs of ALL religions, and make sure that as many people as possible feel too embarrassed to take them seriously; but at the same time, recognize that lots of people have lots of different varieties of foolish beliefs. The fact that a person subscribes to one outdated book and not a different one, doesn’t make them a killer.

Comments

  1. Robert, not Bob says

    Turn it around: if that boy becomes a paleontologist, he won’t deny evolution. Discovering dinosaurs, and studying them in the public library, was one of my very first steps away from religion.

  2. Frank G. Turner says

    I think I will be the first one to leave a comment here. 1st of all Russell and Martin, you guys are great. Glad that you are doing what you are doing.
    .
    To the caller “Christian” (if he ever reads this, I am sure that others will comment on this). Let me see if I can put up a metaphor for you and see if you get the idea of how it applies.
    .
    Let us say that a group of people who have no religion of their own observe buffalo in the field as they grow. All of the Buffalos that they observe are brown. They have been observing buffalos for years and all they see is brown buffalos. They hunt and gather, perhaps had hunted and eaten some buffalos but there were plenty of other animals around. They also learned to farm and taught each other.
    .
    Now as thee people evolve they learn how to imagine things that were not actually present, something which is advantageous when hunting as it can increase alertness. So they are able to imagine what a white buffalo looks like even though we have never seen one. One could make a hypothesis, a guess, that white buffalos are possible even though one had never been seen because in this scenario I am setting up, they are all brown and have always been brown. In order for this hypothesis to be demonstrably correct in an empirical sense, one would have to observe a white buffalo. Let us say that hundreds of years of this society have gone buy and no one has ever observed a white buffalo. People struggle against one another, having hard emotional times, having a hard time getting along with one another.
    .
    One day a person realizes that they can get buy as a society better if they cooperate, which requires a certain emotional commitment to that cooperation. This will aid the struggle and is very advantageous to their survival. Maybe a person imagines a white buffalo in a dream and thinks that the dream is real. That person writes very convincing stories about the white buffalo that help people to cooperate socially, many believing that the white buffalo must exist even though they have never seen it. The belief in the existence of that white buffalo becomes tied into their feelings of emotional cooperation, so tightly tied that many come to belief that they would have no emotional strength or cooperation without that belief (despite the white buffalo never being observed). Stories about the white buffalo begin to grow and get more embellished, developing into stories of the white buffalo being so powerful that it watches over people and keeps them safe. It might help them.
    .
    Over time people learn to cooperate, and some have a marginal belief in the white buffalo, but they have learned the value of cooperation in the mutual struggle for survival. Now biological evolution being what it is, mental capacity starts to drift. While pretty much everyone can imagine how something can be factually correct even if they never observe it, there are those that do need to observe something before they will believe in it and this DOES NOT help them to cooperate. For many of them, this even IMPAIRS their abilities to cooperate. The stories of this white buffalo that have not been demonstrated DON’T help them. Maybe the fact that there is no empirical evidence for this buffalo yet many believe bothers them and PREVENTS them from social cooperation and emotional calmness.
    .
    Maybe some studies of the writers of the story about the white buffalo reveal that it is likely that they were making the stories up in order to get others to cooperate, unaware that this would have the opposite effect for some people. And other observations, like mathematical calculations and observational studies reveal that there never was a white buffalo and that the likelihood of one happening is so demonstrably low that it is almost impossible.
    .
    Now other groups have found ways to discuss cooperation and calmness without the stories of the white buffalo. Maybe in their culture they developed stories about black swans which have never been observed either. Maybe some have no overall protector, but get the same sense of fulfillment by simply admiring the world in which they live (think Buddhism).
    .
    Human beings developed an ability to hypothesize, to make guesses about how things work based on our imagination even though we have not observed what occurs in our imagination. (Though in scientific terms you normally don’t form a hypothesis until you have observed some sort of pattern upon which to base that hypothesis). Many people convince themselves that they have observed something that supports their hypothesis being considered factual (even though you could hook up a camera to their brain and figure out that they never actually observed it in reality, maybe it was their imagination or a dream). Some people know they have never observed hard physical evidence for their imagined ideas and STILL think that those ideas are based in empirical fact.
    .
    For some people who are devoted to honesty, stating or thinking of anything as fact when you have never observed it, like the white buffalo, is dishonest and unethical, EVEN IF beliefs in the white buffalo have positive effects for others. And for those devoted to strict honesty, believing in the white buffalo when it has never been observed would be detrimental to their ability to function.
    .
    Does any of this make sense?

  3. Monocle Smile says

    I’ve been encountering an awful lot of snooty Europeans who freak out about Islam while chastising me for “wasting my efforts” opposing Christianity even when I identify as American. Thanks for the topic, Russell.

    That Christian dude started out okay, then escalated REAL fast into aggressive, judgmental “enlightened” mode. I’m getting extremely sick of smug new-age, bong-loving burnouts who act condescending toward people who actually concern themselves with distinguishing fact from fantasy…and actually pay taxes.

    I appreciate Russell using LSD as a good example of “missing experience,” although part of me wished there was a snarky follow-up to Christian’s nutty response along the lines of “how about getting shot?” His obnoxious (unfounded) superiority complex was grating towards the end, and I’m glad you hung up on him.

  4. Christian FCP says

    Monocle. If you are a fan of the show, you don’t have a big problem with people acting condescending. I mean, come on. Turnabout is fair play.

  5. Christian FCP says

    Frank G Turner. A good analogy. Beliefs can come up a number of ways and just because people talk about something as existing doesn’t mean that it did. I like the story about the buffalo. When I imagine how religions come about I come up with even crazier possibilities. You can have fun with how deeply ironic they might be! Perhaps some mundane ones as well. Doesn’t really address anything I said in my call though.

  6. corwyn says

    @4:

    Turnabout is fair play.

    So you are going with the ‘he started it’ defense?

    AND making the contention that ‘condescending’ started with atheists, despite the fact that Christians used to burn them at the stake?

  7. Christian FCP says

    Not sure what they were reading on the show, and not to split hairs but rather to show I wasn’t pulling it out of my **s – From Wikipedia: “According to a study by California-based Pitzer college, between 46% and 85% of Swedes do not believe in God.[168] In a Eurostat survey, 23% of Swedish citizens responded that “they believe there is a God”, whereas 53% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 23% that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force”. “

  8. JJM says

    I think your discussion of “Islamophobia” proved Sam Harris’s point for him. I don’t know about in the USA but over here in the UK it is becoming increasingly common for any criticism of Islam in general or particular extremist Muslims in particular to be met by this claim of Islamophobia. This generally comes either from people on the left (I’m sad to say, seeing as I consider myself nominally on the left), or from Muslims themselves, especially the extremist Muslims being criticised. And all too often there’s this claim of racism that goes alongside. The claim of Islamophobia or racism is usually used just to shut down the argument at that point, because who would want to be accused of being racist?
    .
    Now, there are undoubtedly those who could fairly be accused of being racist in this regard, the despicable Daily Mail in the UK comes to mind (or the Daily Nazi as I call it). But Sam Harris could in no way be included with people like that.
    So let’s look at some of the statements made on the show:
    “When it goes from a criticism of the belief system and the ideologies and the deeds of these groups into just blanket xenophobia you have crossed the line…”
    .
    “It doesn’t serve us…if you exhibit blind hatred towards people…”
    “The fact that someone subscribes to one outdated book …doesn’t automatically make them a killer”
    Do you honestly think this represents what Sam Harris has ever said, or even thinks?
    .
    It would be better if the word Islamophobia just isn’t used any more, it has become so overused so inappropriately that it is now virtually meaningless.

  9. Christian FCP says

    Not at all corwyn. Not to say atheists started anything. More like, that is part of the fun of the show. I enjoy a brutal Matt D. slapdown as much as the next guy.

  10. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP

    Oh, you’re the caller? Sweet! I (usually) love it when this happens.

    You seem a bit butthurt. Save it. I lost all measure of respect when you basically called Russell a coward for not doing LSD. It was a stupid, childish thing to say.

    Frank’s post DOES address your call, at least in some respect. You say religion provides something you can’t get anywhere else, but how could you know? And how would you test this? Because perceptions aren’t reality. You might *feel* a certain way about religion that nothing else fulfills, but that doesn’t mean it’s the case for anyone else, and it doesn’t even mean that’s actually the case.

    Furthermore, you mentioned the concept of “sacred” and “moral absolutes,” which are perhaps the two most deplorable aspects of any religion. What’s the deal?

  11. Christian FCP says

    Not sure where your seeing butthurt, but I stand on my comment about fairplay. My opinion about hallucinogenics is best summed up by the article onRichardDawkins.net by Sam Harris. His statement that if his daughters never had that experience that he would feel that they had missed “one of the most important rites of passage that a human can experience” echos my feelings on the matter.

  12. says

    Christian is obviously an intelligent and generally well-spoken guy (though at the end there he was beginning to lose patience, it seems, despite being given a very generous amount of air time over the past two shows).

    His primary stumbling block appears to be that he wants to assert that a “spiritual” or “religious” experience or sense of well-being is somehow unique. Conveniently, he also seems to believe (if not with great conviction) that if only those of us who have not had such an experience had one we would agree that it surpasses all other such experience.

    But that, of course, is nonsense. The term “numinous” tends to be freighted with ideas about spirituality, but it works pretty well to describe the kind of “divine” experience he’s had. People can, and do, experience numinous-type feelings during orgasm (or after), while observing something awe-inspiring and beautiful in nature, amid a wash of endorphins following exercise or even after your football team has just upset a superior opponent.

    Christian would perhaps maintain that none of these things can approach his God experiences, but as Russel pointed out, how would he know? I have experienced inexplicably soaring emotions and sensations in all of the above listed non-religious situations, whether standing on a remote beach without another human, or even a footprint; randomly experiencing a gush of well-being while finishing up a long bike ride — which translated to the simple thought, “I am here. In this moment all is well. This is an amazing world”; and as a true “high,” very much like a drug high, after a four-hour conversation during which a woman I very much liked admitted she reciprocated. No god needed, and I carry the memory of these and other powerful “numinous” moment with me always; they do not fade.

  13. Christian FCP says

    About religion giving you something that you get anywhere else, I am referring to the experience of being in a religion. Like “horse riding gives you something you can’t get anywhere else”. Except religion usually comes about no matter what. Whenever or where ever people are.

  14. Christian FCP says

    Clay. “would agree that it surpasses all other such experience.” you are adding this in. I never said anything of the sort.

  15. Christian FCP says

    We all know what experiences you are referring to Clay. I suppose those can be found in religion, but not what I was focusing on by any means. Concept of the sacred, worship, ritual, pilgrimage, prayer(talking to god), sacred literature, but more importantly the experiences that are built out of these things.

  16. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP

    Did you listen to anything Russell and Martin said during the call? You want to lump all “religion” into a single category, as if being involved in any religion gives you the same experience. We KNOW this isn’t true. Furthermore, the existence of religion came about due to a discomfort with not knowing things. So people started making shit up rather than investigate, since we didn’t have the tools (yet) to properly answer questions we had.

    But it’s not like these religions actually answered anything. Also, you ignored perhaps the most important part of my last post and the real crux of the matter…the idea of “sacred” things and “moral absolutes” have nothing to do with this wibbly “experience” stuff you were babbling about. Why did you bring them up, and why do they appeal to you?

  17. Christian FCP says

    Why does the idea of the sacred appeal to me? Well, thats a big one. If I go into it I might even get a little teary eyed! But I don’t even need to in order to advance the discussion, because the main point that advances what I am saying is that it DOES appeal to me. That is the point. It appeals to me a great deal. And to plenty of others. I take any religions idea of what is sacred to heart (though I may reject it if I find it despicable) especially sacred places.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP

    the main point that advances what I am saying is that it DOES appeal to me

    We know it does. We knew it on your call. You’ve repeated it several times already.

    We don’t care.

    You don’t seem to understand that the fact that something appeals to you is almost entirely irrelevant to these discussions. We only care why this appeals to you, and whether or not it’s a good reason for appeal. Why is this so hard for you? One attribute of “sacred” things is that they are considered “beyond questioning.” I don’t believe anything is beyond questioning, and I don’t see how anyone interested in the truth would ever hold anything sacred or want to do so.

    I should probably be careful what I ask for, since I’m already tempted to engage in dismissive wanking motions. Teary-eyed? Really? Spare me the melodrama.

  19. Christian FCP says

    Sorry Monocle (if that IS your name!), let me clarify. I am emphasizing my original point. That it is a significant experience. That it brings a texture which allows you to share some thing with other humans past and present. What appeals to me (and many others) is, I think, quite relevant to the discussion and issue that I initiated. As to WHY it appeals to me… that is a question for psychology, biology, anthropology and students of the human condition. Also, I might not spare you the melodrama. Depends on the issue.

  20. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP

    That’s an impressively inane post that avoids all of the actual issues. Do you not understand that religion is one of the most destructive forces on the planet? That it makes good people do horrific and irresponsible things because it convinces them that they’re doing the right thing instead? That it’s a major road block in multiple fields of science for evidently no reason at all?

    This “experience” you cite brings a shitload of baggage that you want to ignore for whatever reason. And now you shrug off explaining yourself. Why exactly did you call in? Why did you post here? You’re clearly not interested in engaging in discussion.

  21. Christian FCP says

    No, I’m down for discussing all of the issues that you raise. Just wanted to get some clarity on the issues that I saw as being relevant to the call. So… Yes, religion can get people to do terrible things. Ideology in general carries this danger. I can only assume by “roadblocks” that you are referring to stem cell research. You gotta do better than that, friend. I don’t consider american protestants opposition to evolution to be a roadblock to paleontology (especially since it usually doesn’t come from the most “gifted” sectors. Also Monocle, to answer your question, I called in to get the point across that religion can be an incredible experience, that it is a near universal in human culture, that it is something you should not miss.

  22. unfogged says

    @21 FCP

    religion can be an incredible experience, that it is a near universal in human culture

    I don’t think that those points are not already understood; a large percentage of atheists are former theists and will testify to the depth of the feelings they had. Even for those of us that were never believers it is obvious that the experience can be powerful. The question is whether it is unique or whether other activities can provide equivalent experiences.

    that it is something you should not miss

    Sorry, the price is too high. I can’t dismiss logic and reason for the sake of an experience, especially when I don’t see much difference between what believers claim and what I know I can experience through other means.

  23. Monocle Smile says

    So you just called in to jerk yourself off? You ARE factually in error and you need to realize this.

    You gotta do better than that

    Oh, I so want to rip you a new one for this. Someone doesn’t know their history, I see. Stem cell research is a major issue, and it’s too damn bad that you don’t see it as “worthy.” How about global warming? Abortion? Contraception? Are these just irrelevant footnotes in your head?
    I’ll just drop a couple of links to make you look foolish.

    http://io9.com/a-map-showing-which-u-s-public-schools-teach-creationi-1515717148

    whatstheharm.net

  24. Christian FCP says

    Also, Unfogged. I think the issue is being blurred on the “unique” question. I am saying that religion is the experience of religion. Like say, hunting or gardening is the experience of those things. With all that it entails.

  25. Christian FCP says

    Monocle, chill. I hope you are not referring to the recent debate on contraception as it relates to the affordable care act. A roadblock in a field of science? Global warming? What are you referring to? Fox News is not a religion. Well… maybe

  26. unfogged says

    @25 FCP

    I am saying that religion is the experience of religion.

    As I think one of the TAE hosts said, I’m down with tautologies.

    Given the choice of compromising my integrity to accept claims for which I can’t find any evidence or deciding to seek out “incredible” experiences that don’t force me to abandon my principles I choose the latter.

  27. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @JJM

    But Sam Harris could in no way be included with people like that.

    Ehhh…

    He’s a good guy, and I appreciate his good work, but he’s close to the line when he continued on for quite a while saying that airports should screen those “who look Muslim”.

    @Christian FCP
    Haven’t seen the show yet. Let me respond to this:

    I can only assume by “roadblocks” that you are referring to stem cell research.

    Or: The simple extortion of money from people who support churches by tithes or government taxes in religious government countries. The existence of an international child rape syndicate known as the Roman Catholic Church. The refusal of the US to deal with climate change (based on their understanding of the Bible which alternatively says it cannot happen – no more floods – or that the end times are coming anyway so who cares). The genocide going on in Africa from HIV/AIDS due to the Catholics willful lying about condoms (such as condoms make you more likely to get HIV/AIDS). Or the complete and utter destruction of critical thinking, such as where the US Republicans literally have it verbatim in their party platform that they no longer want critical thinking taught to students because it will make them not religious and not Republican. I could keep going. “Religion poisons everything.”

    “If you can make people believe absurdities, you can make them commit atrocities.” Being religious is believing absurdities, both factual and moral. You are contributing to the willful make-believe of religious people, and all of the harms it entails. Is that really worth your “good experiences”?

  28. Christian FCP says

    Unfogged. Sounds very reasonable. I like the variety we have here on our little planet.

  29. Christian FCP says

    EnlightenmentLiberal. I was referring to roadblocks to science. To answer your question “Is that worth your ‘good experience’?” When you add everything in, the good, the bad, the big picture and the specifics that you mention… My answer is YES. But I don’t take responsibility for these peoples actions. I don’t choose my activities based on wether bad people also do them either.

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Every time you meet a religious person and condone, support, and agree with their religious make-believe, you are contributing to the problem. Further, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. What’s the last thing you’ve done to try and eradicate religion and other forms of willful make-believe from our culture? I hold you personally responsible for everything in that above list – though of course I hold you responsible to a lesser extent than those who personally committed the crimes.

  31. Christian FCP says

    Well, the core of it is anything but make believe. It is MUCH more real than your subjective experience. It is the ground of being, the thing on which YOU depend for existence.

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS: Also, you need a wakeup call. It’s not just paleontology which is threatened by religion. It’s damn near all of science.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Branches_of_science_you_have_to_ignore_to_believe_in_young_Earth_creationism
    It’s not just confined to paleontology. Religion is directly leading to anti-intellectualism and general anti-science sentiment. See above where I mentioned how it’s the official position of the US Republican party to not teach critical thinking in school to kids. What more do you need?

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Well, the core of it is anything but make believe. It is MUCH more real than your subjective experience. It is the ground of being, the thing on which YOU depend for existence.

    Evidence or go home. I’m not in the mood to play these semantic word games.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism
    Describe to me a hypothetical world where what you say is false, and another where it’s true. Describe in detail the observable differences. (And then cite the evidence.) Otherwise you are merely talking word salad. You are not right – and you are not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP

    Whut? “Ground of being?” What does that even mean? Do you mean to say that you were being dishonest the whole time you were flapping your gums about “experience” and you really DO believe there’s a god?

  35. Christian FCP says

    Maybe I should go back and listen to the call, but I thought I said I was a believer. I surely said it in the call last week.

  36. Monocle Smile says

    I knew you identified as a Christian, but then why do you spend so much time carrying on about things other than god claims? Granted, I didn’t listen to the show last week, but now all this “experience” talk makes it seem like you just want to avoid giving a good reason to believe. Sorry, “it makes me feel good” is a terrible reason to think something is true.

  37. corwyn says

    I was referring to roadblocks to science.

    How about Europe in the years between 350 and 1250. Is *your* ‘good experience’ worth that too. And please don’t claim that religion gives that to everyone who believes it. You can claim it for yourself, but not for others.

  38. Christian FCP says

    ” Sorry, “it makes me feel good” is a terrible reason to think something is true.” I would tend to agree.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Yes, science came from religion.” – Lawrence Krauss

    Not sure if purposefully quote mining…

    Yes of course science started as natural philosophy which was originally a Christian endeavor. However, natural philosophy only became modern science when it ditched Christianity and did a complete 180 on the values of Christianity. Science is about the supremacy of evidence and reason, which stands in stark contrast to faith and all religion.

    Again, you are welcome to try to show otherwise. I’m still waiting for your evidence for your god.

  40. Christian FCP says

    180 on the values of christianity? Love your neighbor as yourself and love God with your heart mind and soul? Afraid not. Science is a way of approaching the physical world. It has little to say on who you should love or how much. 10 degrees, maybe 15? Surely not 180. In fact, many scientists have been into way into the Jesus. Like the one who largely invented it (according to Hawking and Einstein).

  41. says

    @Christian

    It answers both of your silly things in post 45.

    The “Christian values are just love your neighbor! Nothing about how to ‘approach the physical world’!”

    and the “well some scientists are christian!”

  42. Christian FCP says

    Also, wasn’t saying “some scientists” are christians. More like, christians came up with science. Ockham, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, etc. etc. etc.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    In fact, many scientists have been into way into the Jesus. Like the one who largely invented it (according to Hawking and Einstein).

    Einstein and Hawking are not historians. In this case, I’ll trust the historians.
    http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2006/11/science-and-medieval-christianity.html
    The first scientists pre-date Christianity, and science was resurrected in the west only by going back to these pre-Christian ideals and documents.

    The values of science include: reason and evidence are the supreme authority in determining the nature of the world around us. Such topics include: whether there is a god, whether Jesus was a god, and so on. The evidence does not support those claims. Yet Christians exist. They existed then as they exist now – by rejecting the values of science on one of the most important topics of our shared reality.

    What else could be more important to determine than whether the Christian god exists? I would very much want to know that the Christian god exists if it indeed exists. Only by knowing it exists could I be part of the ensuing massive R&D effort to blow it up. If Stargate SG-1 has taught us anything, it is that the proper response to evil gods is not to bow down and worship, but to blow them up. Nuke god!

    Your god is one of the most evil and heinous characters in all of fiction. To borrow this line from Dawkins: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

  44. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also, wasn’t saying “some scientists” are christians. More like, christians came up with science. Ockham, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, etc. etc. etc.

    You’re a thousand years too late. Read the link.

  45. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Christian # 5

    Frank G Turner. A good analogy. Beliefs can come up a number of ways and just because people talk about something as existing doesn’t mean that it did. I like the story about the buffalo. When I imagine how religions come about I come up with even crazier possibilities. You can have fun with how deeply ironic they might be! Perhaps some mundane ones as well. Doesn’t really address anything I said in my call though.

    Instead of thinking of the buffalos as bovine, think of them as birds and make stories about teh white buffalo include anthropomorphic birds (kind of like angels). That think of the “white buffalo” as the most supreme, first of the angels, and you basically have Judeo-Xtianity. Re-read tha analogy with that in mind to figure out what it has to do with you.

  46. Christian FCP says

    You want to go on record as choosing Richard Carrier over Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking over the importance of Galileo?

  47. Christian FCP says

    Frank. I get it. I just don’t believe that it explains the origins of christianity.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You want to go on record as choosing Richard Carrier over Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking over the importance of Galileo?

    Do I want to choose two physicists over a historian about matters of history? No.

    Do I want to address a non-sequitir about Galileo instead the argument at hand? No. Galileo came a thousand years too late. Science had already started and was in full swing. Then came the dark ages. Galileo was late coming to the party, along with the entire European Enlightenment. You have to go to the ancient Greeks and Romans for the origin of science.

  49. Frank G. Turner says

    Christian, I am not saying that it does explain the origins of Xtianity. What I AM saying is that believing in things that cannot be proven by empirical means is harmful to some of us and that having those around who insist that we have to believe in things that cannot be empirically demonstrated furthers that harm.
    .
    Oh and if you understood the difference between correlation and causation you might realize that being Xtian like some of the scientists you mention is not necessarily what led them to practice good science. The good scientific practice of those individuals was in spite of their Xtianity (unless they were from a Xtian group that specifically touted the virtues of education like Jesuits), not because of it. Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite evolutionary biologists whom I think is very smart and whom I have read quite a bit of is a practicing Roman Catholic who is often mentioned on TAE as well as other programs and I have quoted him before, Kenneth Miller. The thing is, I would admire him for his intellect regardless of his religion and I have read Dawkins on the subject too and quoted him as well.
    ,
    Let me tell you a story that I have discussed on other posts and see if you get something particularly with regard to how protestant objection to teaching evolution and teaching creation has done a LOT more harm than you think,

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The conflict thesis has been pretty much discredited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis

    Only in your little myopic corner of the world.

    You can demand sufficient evidence and reason for your beliefs. Alternatively, you could be a Christian and accept bullshit without sufficient evidence.

    I have lots and lots of preexisting evidence from all of my earlier interactions with Christians and religious people that this is an accurate summary of their position. I then generalize to all Christians and religious people, including you. I use that background evidence to supply my burden of proof for the claim that all religious people are either ignorant or accept bullshit without sufficient evidence.

    However, I am not close-minded. You can change my mind. You can change my mind by presenting evidence that you are right and that there is a god. Given my background knowledge, I consider that epistemically highly unlikely (but still non-zero). You’re more than welcome to try.

    Of course, given that you’ve already had ample opportunity to present the evidence, and given that I’m asked for it numerous times already, I also doubt you will even try.

  51. Christian FCP says

    Wasn’t trying to ignore you brianpansky. I don’t know of any physical or scientific evidence for god.

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Wasn’t trying to ignore you brianpansky. I don’t know of any physical or scientific evidence for god.

    Then why do you believe?

    I have lots of evidence that Christianity is false. How is there not a conflict between science and Christianity?

  53. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Christian # 61

    Wasn’t trying to ignore you brianpansky. I don’t know of any physical or scientific evidence for god.

    I very much appreciate you coming out and saying that. You have a lot of respect for me in that regard. A lot of Xtians (including on here and elsewhere) are often very unwilling to come right out and admit that. I don;t know about others, but that took guts and I do admire that.

  54. Christian FCP says

    Thanks Frank. I think that I could pass a lie detector test saying I believe, and sodium pentothal as well. But not 100% sure why I do. I had a confrontation with my parents when i was 15 because I said there was no god. I used to tear ass on the christians up at U.T. like Cliff Konechle(however you spell it). I have understood the problems with pascals wager and the argument from design since I was 13. But for the last 12 years or so I have been a believer. I have plenty O doubts, but have seen it all in the way of arguing the issues. I do believe that some of the stickyness and appeal of some of these arguments for god comes from the reality of god.

  55. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    That’s meaningless babble. I’m starting to want to ask if you’re for real.

    I do believe that some of the stickyness and appeal of some of these arguments for god comes from the reality of god

    I’m not even sure how to address that turd. Remember EL’s earlier link to “not even wrong?” You’re hovering around that territory again.

  56. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    You understand that this is textbook delusion, right? Have you ever considered that maybe you should only believe things for good reasons?

  57. Christian FCP says

    I do have good reasons. I’m just not sure how it all comes together to form my belief. I feel the same way about you guys. I think the formation of your beliefs is more complex than you may think. As I said before “that is a question for psychology, biology, anthropology and students of the human condition.”

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I do have good reasons. I’m just not sure how it all comes together to form my belief.

    That’s impossible. What you wrote is logically contradictory. It’s like saying you have a round square or a four-sided triangle.

    As I said before “that is a question for psychology, biology, anthropology and students of the human condition.”

    The study of human belief is a different topic. I agree that people are often irrational. The fact that people are often irrational is not justification to be irrational. You are committing the “appeal to nature” fallacy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

  59. Christian FCP says

    I’m not trying to justify anything, and I don’t think that my belief is irrational. I think it is very reasonable.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP

    I don’t think that my belief is irrational

    Wakeup call. You are flagrantly irrational. You wrote:

    I do have good reasons. I’m just not sure how it all comes together to form my belief.

    That means you don’t have good reasons, and you don’t even understand what “good reasons” is.

    In the world of rationality, you only hold beliefs for which you have sufficient reasons. Implied in that is that you know and understand those reasons. If you don’t know and understand your reasons, then you don’t have reasons.

    Are you serious? Are you a Poe?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law
    I’m starting to think that you are troll. You cannot be serious when you say that you have good reasons and you are justified in your beliefs, but you don’t know what those reasons are. It’s ridiculous. You must be putting me on.

  61. Christian FCP says

    I disagree with your claim about how beliefs are formed. I’m afraid that it is not always so simple. “In the world of rationality, you only hold beliefs for which you have sufficient reasons.” I doubt that all of your family and friends would even accept this about you, enlightenmentliberal. Seems to me that there is some emotion on your part. Possibly for good reason.

  62. Monocle Smile says

    Emotions aren’t automatically irrational. This is a very common theist bitching point, and you even touched on it in the show when you pestered Russell about “constantly checking in” to see if he was having a good time.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan

    For the record, “it’s not that simple” without any further elaboration is nothing more than childish petulance.

    Why did you appeal to EL’s friends and family? Is it non sequitur hour? Also, you say you have good reasons to believe, but if you don’t even know what the reasons are, then how could you possibly know that they’re good? Hint: you can’t; you’re just making shit up.

  63. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    1- You are still committing the appeal to nature fallacy. I do not give one rat’s ass how beliefs are actually formed in practice by many people. It’s like arguing that some people kill, and thus it’s ok to kill. It’s just as ridiculous.

    2-
    Please point out where I demanded that you abandon emotion. You are doing a straw Vulcan.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan
    In context, a straw Vulcan is a kind of straw man argument. A straw man argument is when you attack an argument which you purport was made by your opponent but was not actually made by your opponent. Generally, a straw man is done because of an honest mistake, or it’s don dishonestly in order to discredit an opponent’s position by attacking a different position and making it seem to others that you defeated the opponent’s actual position.

    In this case, I demanded that you have good reasons and know and understand those good reasons for all of your beliefs. At no point did I say that you have to abandon all emotion. That’s the straw Vulcan.

    For example, Spock is on occasion a straw Vulcan. He often says that he acts on pure reason without emotion. However, you need emotions, desires, in order to even get out of bed in the morning. When I demand that you have good reasons, I am not advocating the straw Vulcan approach of denying all desire. (See Buddhism for that.)

    To better explain this, let me go back to basics. Everyone is faced with the basic problem: What do I do? I mean – in general. Do I get out of bed? Do I cross the street? Etc. A sane person answers that question with “I have certain goals, and I want to achieve those goals, and I will take actions to achieve those goals.”

    This raises two additional questions. What are my goals? And what actions will help me achieve those goals?

    Emotions help inform us about what are goals are and should be. Generally, we want to make people happy, and we want to satisfy our desires, and that helps inform us as to what our goals are. Emotions are indispensable here. The straw Vulcan position is ridiculous because it lacks emotions to help inform their goals.

    The other question is “How do we achieve our goals?”. For that, the only acceptable answer is reason, evidence, science, etc. No matter how hard you may want it, you cannot fly by flapping your arms. No amount of emotion, desire, need, etc., is going to change that. Using emotion here is a mistake. Believing that you can fly by flapping your arms is irrational. Similarly, no amount of desire is going to make your god real. An honest person, a rational person, will be able to examine the world around them and determine it for what it is, not what they want it to be. Only by identifying how the world is can we determine the proper course of actions to change the world into what we want it to be. Pretending the world is something else, sticking our heads in the sand, is a great way to ensure we don’t get what we want. Religion is the practice of pretending the world is something other than what it is.

  64. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    1- You are still committing the appeal to nature fallacy. I do not give one rat’s ass how beliefs are actually formed in practice by many people. It’s like arguing that some people kill, and thus it’s ok to kill. It’s just as ridiculous.

    Let me continue.

    There is a purpose to education and critical thinking. It is because the default way that humans form beliefs is often bad. We know that the default and starting way of human thinking is flawed. We have identified some of these flaws, and that’s why we practice critical thinking, statistical analysis, and so forth. We practice other ways of thinking and knowing in order to compensate for our flawed brains.

    I agree that many people form beliefs without knowing exactly why. That’s a mistake. The major goal of good education is to help you overcome these limitations and flaws, and to make you think about what you think you know, to force you to defend your beliefs, to identify beliefs which you don’t have justification for and discard them, etc.

  65. Christian FCP says

    1. Appeal to nature fallacy. What am I saying is OK? And what do you mean by OK? Morally? 2.”Please point out where I demanded that you abandon emotion” I don’t remember you saying anything like that. I was saying that YOU seem to have some emotional underpinnings to your beliefs. I continue to engage in religion because I love it.

  66. Monocle Smile says

    The whiff of troll is getting stronger. Be very careful how you continue to post, FCP.

  67. Stan Swift says

    @ 28 Enlightened Liberal

    ‘Ehhh…

    He’s a good guy, and I appreciate his good work, but he’s close to the line when he continued on for quite a while saying that airports should screen those “who look Muslim”.’

    Why do you assume that “who look Muslim” (if in fact SH used that phrase) refers specifically to the person’s race? Many Muslims have a very distinct style of dress/personal grooming which serves as a much stronger marker of “Muslim-hood” than skin color.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_clothing

  68. says

    Ok Christian here is the story (FYI I am using pseudonyms even though this is a true story, my name on here is a pseudonym so it makes sense), This may sound anecdotal but if you do some searching around you may find it is not so unusual. You seem to relate to people through emotional ideas so here goes.
    .
    I have a cousin whom I will call Martha, she grew up Roman Catholic like me. She married a man whom I will call John who came from a Baptist protestant group that was very anti-evolution. Actually they were pretty much against anything that demonstrated factual incorrectness of the Bible, pretty much all anti-science. I can’t imagine what my cousin saw in him given that John did not even like him or his kids going to the Doctor as he knew the vast majority of biology is based upon evolution and he did not want evolution “winning out.” For years at family functions he talked about the Bible being “60 love letters from God.” (Which is a weird idea, love letters that include beheading and raping innocent people?). Johns was ok when Martha was pregnant going to Doctors but did not want her having things like ultrasound images. When his first 2 kids (a boy and a girl in that order) were young he fought against them even learning any science (he was ok with math as he had some background in accounting).
    .
    When his wife, my cousin, got pregnant with their third son (I will call him George) he had a severe heart defect that is a very rare genetic disability. The medical staff was almost certain that the boy would be dead within weeks of birth if not for experimental heart surgery. The doctors had some ideas but initially John protested when he learned that the surgical procedure was based upon evolutionary studies of pigs that indicated pigs had undergone similar evolutionary pressures and had hearts similar to ours. It would be tricky and the boy may not last, plus George would need follow up surgeries and to be given special drugs for years to prevent his body from rejecting the tissues.
    .
    John talked to his minister and the minister said that John should be ashamed that they would even consider a medical procedure like that, God would provide and John would be shunned by his fellow churchgoers (actually that was an idle threat, the parish had an attitude with him but nothing as bad as what the minister threatened). John finally bit the bullet. He did not want to anger God as he thought might be the case but he did not want his son to die and he had to try. Little George got the surgeries for years but they always knew any time that he might not make it. John still was very preachy about his religion but whenever someone brought up creationism vs. evolution at a family event John shut his mouth. John only ever thanked God for saving his son but he damn well stopped preaching against evolution when it was brought up. He often did so with a grimmace on his face like he wanted to be right but knew that if he had pushed the issue that his son would be dead). He still contributed to religious groups that push against evolutionary teaching, but only for a while.
    .
    That was 21 years ago. In George’s teenage years it was obvious that he was going to survive even though most of his heart is made from various parts of pig hearts and he has to see specialists. during that time Martha found evidence that John had been cheating on her. Interesting how a preachy man (this is all too common nowadays) that spoke against sin was committing adultery himself. My cousin has since divorced him and got a good deal of money and is with another man.
    .
    George is alive and well and is a great public speaker. He goes out speaking to other children and groups about how his heart is made form parts of a pig (a Frankenheart). (Pardon the delay here I had house duties to attend to). Now one could say that this would not have happened were it not for John’s attitude, but that is a lie. It damn well could have happened had John not been an asshole.
    .
    Now this may just sound like an anecdote, but I lived through this. There are children of families with BOTH parents have the original attitude of John and his minister exist in these protestant communities, and they don’t change for fear of angering god the way John did. You Christian probably know someone somewhere going through this, a kid with a tumor the size of a basketball growing on his leg who has not seen a doctor for months where families sit around the body praying asking for a miracle from god and won’t submit to hospital treatment because they know the basis of biology is evolution and evolution MUST be wrong because god says it is wrong.
    .
    Ray Comfort and his ilk are killing people. Does this make sense to you?

  69. Christian FCP says

    I haven’t seen rationality make much headway made on issues related to god etc. I do believe that a good education involves pruning beliefs, I just don’t think that there has been much development in the area of religion. Questions are basically the same as they have always been. This is what Feynmen and Gould were often trying to point out.

  70. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Here’s something close to the clinical definition of delusional:
    delusion
    A false belief based on an incorrect inference about external reality and firmly sustained despite clear evidence to the contrary.

    I’m just pointing out that you are delusional by that definition, and seemingly openly and proudly so.

    Generally, I am going to shame and ridicule people like you who are openly and willfully delusional. Your way of thinking is wrong – and dangerous. That way of thinking leads to immeasurable harm and human suffering, and for that reason I must fight against you (with words, such as these).

  71. Monocle Smile says

    I haven’t seen rationality make much headway made on issues related to god

    What does that even mean? Gods evidently don’t exist, so how could any questions about them be answered?

    Questions are basically the same as they have always been

    Such as? Some questions have remained the same because they are stupid questions or are ill-formed. I’d like some elaboration, because this is just more tap-dancing. All you’ve done is avoid direct questions.

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Yes we are making headway. As time goes on, we get more and more evidence that the Christian bible is a load of bullcrap. Just off the top of my head, we’ve learned:

    Genesis is completely false. No creation story as described. No Adam and Eve. No Noah. No global flood.

    Exodus is false. There was no mass Exodus of Jews. The patriarchs did not exist; there was no Moses.

    Concerning Jesus. There was no period of 3 hours of darkness as described. There was no storming of the temple lands and throwing out of the money-changers. There was no mass zombie assault on the city. (Matthew 27:51-53)

    Even now, Jesus might go the way of Moses. A certain Dr. Richard Carrier has published a hypothesis which purports to show that even Jesus was not a real person. (We’ll need to wait a decade or two to see how that pans out in the academic community, but the case looks pretty solid to me IMHO.)

    It seems that the history is quite clear to anyone without their head stuck in the sand. The Christian bible is fiction throughout to the same extent that the Spider-Man comic is fiction through-out; New York might be a real place, but the Spider-Man comic is still complete fiction.

  73. Nathan says

    I don’t trust Christian/Charles he’s called in at least 3 times under different names. Someone who is being honest doesn’t need to lie about their name.

  74. Christian FCP says

    Well, Frank Turner, that is scary stuff. Maybe I shouldn’t have made so light about the issue, but I still believe that science is moving steadily forward despite ignorant american christians. I’m glad that the father decided to go thru with the procedure. I don’t know of any situations like this personally, but I see them from time to time in the news cycle and elsewhere. No question that there is bad stuff out there. Helped by religion, caused by religion and fostered in various ways. I think that we have to continue to work thru it. I believe that trying to end religion itself is a waste of time. Even if you did, it(I believe) would pop up in a different form. Surely, if you are an atheist, you have a simple solution for yourself and likeminded people. Doesn’t work for me, though.

  75. Christian FCP says

    Good point Nathan. But Christian is on my birth certificate and this is my ACTUAL belief. I don’t think there is any reason not to call in with other names and with one exception I stand on all the points that I have made. The only time when I was not making what I consider a valid point was when I was trying to liven things up a bit.

  76. says

    @ Christian
    On a side note, I have been in surgeries myself and had pain killing drugs that are in the same chemical class as morphine and heroin (opiates) such as oxycotin. So have family members of mine. I remember my mother having a conversation with leprechauns on the ceiling after her leg surgery due to oxycotin dosage (although she did have the presence of mind to realize it was a hallucination even though it seemed very real to her). Despite it being a unique experience she also knows that it is one that she could have lived without. I don’t know what it is like to jump from 5000 feet without a parachute and survive the fall, but I would not be stupid enough to risk it just to have a “unique” experience, I have some discretion.
    .
    I know chemically what LSD does to the body and even though I have never done it myself. (FYI, read the other boards and you would know I am a Chemist), I would not call it cowardice for refusing to try it just to get the experience, any more than I would consider it cowardice to not rub formic acid into my skin to get the experience. As human beings we can imagine things without having to actually go through them and we can weigh the benefits and risks of doing things for real. If you held up a gun to my head and I knew it was loaded and that you would sincerely kill me if I didn’t do as you said and told me to take a dose of LSD, of course I would do it. LSD might do permanent irreversible damage to my body if I took it but a bullet to the head WILL do permanent irreversible damage at high speed. Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of things is something we can do is humans.
    .
    I am glad that some people can get a positive benefit out of trying narcotics, I am not one of them. I am glad that some people found a positive experience from narcotics even if they choose not to continue to do them. Not continuing to do them is DEFINITELY preferred. I tried Marijuana a very long time ago and all it did was make me very hungry. I do not consider it bravery to try taking narcotics such as LSD nor do I consider it cowardice to refuse them, I call that good sense. You have the capacity to use discretion.
    .
    Yes I appreciate you pointing out that you have no physical or scientific evidence for god rather than trying to pull something out of your *ss like many an apologist does or making something up. If your belief does nothing harmful to others than so be it, I would rather remove the harmful effects of religion than religion itself. Just keep in mind that what you are doing may not be as harmless as you might think (see above story). That is the main thing I was trying to get you to realize.

  77. Monocle Smile says

    “Liven things up?”
    Are you completely unaware that this is obnoxious and unproductive and a decent troll indicator?

    Why won’t you answer questions? Why don’t you respond with actual replies?

  78. Christian FCP says

    Noted Frank. Also, with regards to LSD, remember what Sam Harris’ specialty is. His last book on brain science was quite well received.

  79. Monocle Smile says

    Nope. Fuck you. If you’re not going to read the first time, you’re probably not going to read the second. You’ll just pull the same shit again. All you’ve done is change the subject and engage in non sequiturs, so I feel that all I’ve done is waste my time.

  80. Noel Henderson says

    Did Christain really use Cypher’s point of view from The Matrix as a justification for religion?

    Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?
    [Takes a bite of steak]
    Cypher: Ignorance is bliss.

  81. says

    @ Christian # 85

    I don’t know of any situations like this personally, but I see them from time to time in the news cycle and elsewhere.

    This stuff is going on every single day. You only see the news stories that are popular and make headlines because they are unusual. One of the hospitals near me pointed out that they loose an average of 50 Jehovah’s Witness’s (at least) per year due to refusal to get blood transfusions (mind you I live in a city not a rural area). That is almost 1 per week. You probably can;t do the research as it goes into people’s private lives, but think about how many people are probably dying needlessly in this country.
    .

    No question that there is bad stuff out there. Helped by religion, caused by religion and fostered in various ways.

    It may not be the crusades now but a LOT of people die and suffer needlessly caused by religion, particularly in the USA.

    I think that we have to continue to work thru it.

    We are, Kitzmiller vs. Dover, the Kansas evolution trials, in Texas they introduce Creationist teaching bills every year and in Loussiana they already teach creationism in some school and that the Loch Ness monster is real. Which is really dumb, if a dinosaur survived to this age (actually many dinosaur descendants did survive to this age, we call them birds) that STILL would not disprove evolution. Like I said I love Kenneth Miller and have no problem with his religious views as he does not try to use them as part of his profession.
    .
    Do you know how well Republican politicians are educated on biology and evolution? (I suppose that we should not consider much out of them given that 2 Republican Congressman tried to argue that women can’t get pregnant from rape during the last federal election).
    .

    I believe that trying to end religion itself is a waste of time. Even if you did, it(I believe) would pop up in a different form.

    I agree but you should not be a cover for it either. Personal religion I have no problem with, organized religion is little more than politics and in a way, you are getting sucked into the politics by letting it take hold of your emotions. That is what people are trying to get through to you on here. That can do irreparable damage. At first it seems all fuzzy and warm and little by little you find yourself being sucked in. Many religious groups want you to feel a certain way about gays, treat women a certain way, vote a certain way, think a certain way. And they suck you in by promises of unique emotional experiences much like what you are describing. If you can maintain an independent mind then great, but be very careful how others influence you.
    .
    You can get the emotional feeling that you described on the show without religion, well I don’t know if you personally can but I know others who describe secular things with just as much passion and devotion and gusto as you do and yet have no religious affiliation. Things can be sacred and you can have a great commitment to them, like education. Have you ever heard of total immersion therapy?

  82. Christian FCP says

    Frank, I just remembered. I knew a family of Christian Scientists that wouldn’t take their kid to a doctor when he got bit by a copperhead. Thankfully he got better. Total immersion therapy sounds familiar.

  83. says

    @ Christian # 93

    Frank, I just remembered. I knew a family of Christian Scientists that wouldn’t take their kid to a doctor when he got bit by a copperhead. Thankfully he got better. Total immersion therapy sounds familiar.

    Good for him, not everyone does. One of my childhood heroes was a Xtian scientist believer who died too young, I even met him several months before he died. You might remember him as he was the voice of Kermit the Frog. I was very sad as medical procedures could have saved him easily.
    .
    The principle of Total immersion therapy is that you learn about someone else’s viewpoint by completely immersing yourself in their culture and ideas. You open yourself to a new model of thinking. It is often done for people trying to learn a new language but it can be done for other principles.
    .
    You can do it by listening and watching lots of videos from AronRa, the Atheist Experience, Dogma Debate, the Thinking Atheist, videos on the historicity of Jesus (Carrier is good), the authorship of the Bible, a lot of Dawkins stuff like The God Delusion. You might get a really good idea where some of us in here are coming from. You will hear plenty of stories like what I just told you.

  84. Christian FCP says

    Sounds good. Could only be a net positive, I would think. However, I already find atheism to be quite reasonable. Sorry about your friend.

  85. Sellaronda says

    I was disheartened to hear Russell’s opening dialogue regarding Sam Harris and Bill Maher. He can certainly disagree with their position with valid arguments, but the claim that Harris and Maher say that all Muslims are evil and are guilty of racism and islamophobia. Harris was charged with this claim by Ben Affleck on the show and Harris had a reasoned, clear explanation: he states clearly that bigotry against muslims is a problem and it is not what he is doing. He is criticizing bad ideas and Islam “at this moment is the motherlode of bad ideas.” He also repeats that “I am not saying all muslims are bad.” Harris then very clearly breaks down his thinking: We have 1.5-1.6 billion muslims. If you look at as concentric circles, at the center you have jihadists who want to kill apostates. The next bigger circle are islamists who want to impose their radical view of religion through the political process. These 2 circles represent 20% of muslims. He bases this on poll results which he does not have time to go through. He gives the result that 78% of British muslims think that that the Danish cartoonists should have been prosecuted. He then states that the next bigger circle consists of conservative muslims who hold values that we in the west and certainly in the atheist movement would not agree with—especially regarding women and homosexuals. He then states that we must empower the real reformers in the muslim world to overturn this situation. No where in this conversation does Harris say that all muslims are bad and that Islam is the cause of all the problems in the middle east. No where does he indicate racism.

    The same argument is often used to shut down discussing issues Judaism—if you criticize Israel, you are an anti-semite. If I criticize the misogyny of Orthodox Jews in New York, am I being racist? If I criticize the Inquisition by the Catholic Church am I being racist against Italians (as I am sure not all Catholics were in favor of it—in fact most probably didn’t care what was going on in Spain and elsewhere, so saying Catholics were largely responsible for the Inquisition is wrong according to your rules).

    What makes me most upset is that this use of a straw man is often used against atheists by theists who claim that any critic of their religion is the same as saying that everyone in their religion is bad/wrong and that atheists all think that they know everything On your show you often have to tell a Christian caller that of course their are “good” Christians and that not every Christian is bad. Yet you do the same thing against Harris, despite his clear explanation to the contrary. You can disagree with his numbers or think that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam or that muslim extremists are a fringe group that doesn’t represent mainstream Islam, but to simply claim that Harris is racist and an Islamophobe and dismiss the rest of his argument out of hand is wrong.

  86. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner #79:
    No argument/correction in this comment.
    Just miscellaneous trivia that came to mind.
     

    That was 21 years ago. In George’s teenage years it was obvious that he was going to survive even though most of his heart is made from various parts of pig hearts

    Xenotransplant research is still in its very early phases trying to engineer pigs into suitable donors that won’t be quickly rejected… Oh, chemically treated valves last long enough to be a useful.
     
    Abstract: American Heart Journal – Porcine bioprosthetic heart valves: The next generation

    However, there is a form of pig-to-human xenotransplantation that has been taking place since the 1960s – bioprosthetic heart valve (BHV) replacement. Recently, there has been increasing evidence that, despite glutaraldehyde fixation of BHVs, there is a significant immune reaction to the valves, leading to calcification, rapid structural deterioration, and failure, particularly in young patients who have a more vigorous immune system and metabolism than the elderly. However, it is the young patients who would most benefit from such BHVs because these avoid the complications associated with the lifelong anticoagulation required with mechanical valves.

     
     

    John talked to his minister and the minister said that John should be ashamed that they would even consider a medical procedure like that

    Related story…
     
    Excerpt: Blood and Guts, A History of Surgery – The Night of the Pigs (Pages 147-151)
    ” ” “
    [London, 1969. A year or so after the UK’s first human heart transplant, which surgeon Longmore reports elsewhere, already garnered daily death threats for meddling with the location of the soul.]
    It was a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save a life.
    […]
    The surgeons’ plan was to graft the pig’s heart and lungs into the patient […] The pig’s heart and lungs would work – or piggyback – alongside the patient’s own heart and lungs to relieve the strain.
    […]
    Reluctant to make its own valuable contribution to medical progress, the pig had escaped. […] Still dressed in their operating theatre gowns, caps, masks, and boots, the entire surgical team gave chase.
    […]
    Longmore had arranged for an anaesthetist to put the pig to sleep so that it could be killed and its organs removed. When the anaesthetist assigned to the task showed up, he turned out to be Jewish. He refused to kill the pig. Another anaesthetist was found, but by now Longmore was beginning to wonder if all this grief was going to be worth it.
    […]
    The heart and lungs were eventually removed from the pig, but now there was another problem: the patient was also Jewish. The patient himself was in no position to reassess the merits of the operation, so rather than panic (or pray), Longmore did the next best thing – he rang a rabbi.
     
    When Longmore explained what they were trying to do, the rabbi went very quiet. The surgeon apologized for putting him in such a difficult position and understood if he didn’t want to get involved. There was another long, somewhat muffled silence. Finally, the rabbi could hold back no longer. “Sorry,” he said. “I was trying to stop laughing.” The rabbi told Longmore that if this was a genuine attempt to save the man’s life, then certainly he should go ahead.
    ” ” “

  87. HelenaUK says

    I have never commented here before but Russell, I really, really hope you read this.

    I am a bit stunned at your “Islamaphobia” remarks. Admittedly, you are an American show and obviously coming from that perspective. But let me tell you the situation here in the UK….

    Russell, you calling Islam “dumb” would have you labelled as a bigotted, racist Islamaphobe….that is the kind of thing sam Harris is talking about. White liberals who are all intellectual tooth and claw when it comes to taking apart Christianity will start flinging around the “racism” card as soon as any hint of criticism is aimed at the doctrines of Islam. Their hearts, I suppose, are in the right place….but their brains certainly aren’t.

    Do you know the effect this poliitically correct nonsense has had? Despite thousands of instances, we’ve had ONE prosecution of FGM. One. Know why? The professionals admit it’s because of their fear of being labelled racist/Islamophobic for investigating familes where this might be a concern.

    And never, ever, ever has Sam Harris said the things you’ve attributed to him. He has been at pains continually to make the point over and over that the majority of Muslim people are peaceful and bear no responsibility for the horrors carried out in their name. He acknowledges that they are frequently victims of racism, ignorance and hatred and that, from that perspective, Islamophobia is real and reprehensible. Never has he suggested that anyone in Muslim dress should be automatically labelled a suicide bomber! Good grief – have you ever actually read any of his books?

    I suppose you are talking about the discussion with regard to airport security. Well, you tell me – who is mofe likely to be an Islamic suicide bomber……a little old white lady with a blue rinse and a walking stick, or a young Arabic looking man? Seriously, you think there’s an equal chance???? Disagree with him, of course….but misrepresenting him in the way that you have is really unworthy of you.

    Next time you are in the UK, please go to Speakers Corner and announce that Islam is “dumb”. Then you’ll see what Sam Harris is talking about. Because at the moment you obviously have not the faintest idea.

    And that, Russell, is most unlike you.

  88. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Getting around to listening to the show now.

    @Russell from the show
    Russell notes that races are largely culturally defined with little to no meaningful biological basis. I agree.

    (Transcripted myself. Apologies for any errors.)

    So we don’t give any respect to Islam the region. But at the same time I’m uncomfortable with the way that people like Sam Harris often seem to conflate outward appearances with the religion and also conflate the fact that there have been a number of Muslim terrorist incidents with the idea that the stupid religion is the root and primary problem because there are extremists and there are liberals in any religion.

    Russell notes that many Muslims in the west are nice people who are not going to kill you. I agree.

    Before I comment, let’s get some facts out there.
    http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

    At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion. Majorities of Muslims in Jordan and Nigeria also favor these harsh punishments.

    I’m not going to play the “one true Muslim” game right now.

    I don’t know what it means for Islam to be the “root and primary cause”. I do know that publicly saying even the nice stuff from The Atheist Experience show in many majority Muslim countries will get you killed – and more likely by a mob of people than by official government execution. In the nicer majority Muslim countries, you might get lucky and will just be jailed for a long time. I think it patently obvious that without the Muslim tradition, this would not be true.

    I am unwilling to apply the labels “liberal” or “moderate” to any Muslim who does not support the legal right of blasphemy, apostacy, and Satanism. In that sense, it’s rather obvious that there are far fewer liberal and moderate Muslims than liberal and moderate Christians. Again, I am not talking about the texts or what is a “true Muslim”. I am talking about the facts on the ground today for self-identified Muslims and self-identified Christians across the world.

    Again, I cannot help but use Sam Harris’s example: find me a “terrorist” Jain. The more extreme that a Jainist gets, the less I have to worry about them. Beliefs have consequences. The beliefs of Jains are different than the beliefs of Muslims. Thus the consequences of Jainism are going to be different than the consequences of Islam. Anyone who can say “there are extremists and there are liberals in any religion” in this context is laughably naive.

    We also have a serious problem with this coercive political correctness and multicultural moral relativism getting in the way, of which Russell is guilty for that idiot sentence “there are extremists and there are liberals in any religion”.

    (Transcripted myself. Apologies for any errors.)

    I also want to blame religious fundamentalism. I want to say that you don’t fly planes into buildings if you don’t think that some kind of imaginary paradise is awaiting you on the other end.

    Wait. It’s now only fundamentalists who believe in heaven? I think I missed that memo. What I think you wanted to say – but didn’t – is that most Muslims do believe in paradise, but only fundamentalists discount the value of other human life enough that they will kill others to get that paradise. Right?

    @Martin from the show
    As for Martin – come on. Dubai? I’m sure you lived in the nice place for the foreigners where it was better. If you insult the prophet in front of the wrong audience, it’s still going to be bad for you. Apostacy is legally punishable by death there too.

    I agree the people you met are nice people. Most Christians and most Muslims are nice people, in most contexts. However, going from mere demographics, I’m willing to bet that they supported the death penalty for apostacy, legal punishment for blasphemy, and so on.

    It’s exactly as Weinburg put it: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    I also am dubious that the legal status for this has drastically changed for the worse in the last few decades. Punishment for apostacy and blasphemy has been the majority opinion of Islamic scholars for the entire history of Islam. Death for apostacy and blasphemy used to be the legal punishment in the western / Christian world too, up until a few hundred years ago when they had their Enlightenment. The Muslim world is still working through theirs (I hope). This has absolutely nothing to do with our foreign policy.

    (Transcripted myself. Apologies for any errors.)

    But you know to say that well all Islams are X (?)… act and behave this way, and this is just what it is, and this is what these people are like, (?)… when it goes from a criticism of the belief system and the ideologies and the deeds of these groups to just blanket xenophobia you have now crossed a line and that’s probably where accusations of racism come in.

    Have I crossed that line now? Do you want to accuse me of racism? It’s not my fault that most people who recognize the serious threat to our western values of liberty are seriously threatened by Islam. Also Christianity, but currently less so.

    I believe the problem is best summed up here:
    Quoting Russell:
    (Transcripted myself. Apologies for any errors.)

    All I’m saying is the fact that someone subscribes to one outdated book and not a different outdated book does not automatically make them a killer.

    Correct, but if we are to take people at face value according to the surveys, then if I take a random Muslim from the world vs a random Christian from the world, the odds are much, much higher than the Muslim wants to be a killer and endorses murder compared to the Christian. Specifically, the odds that the Muslim wants to kill people for apostacy and blasphemy is much higher than the odds for the Christian for whatever religious crimes. I’m sorry – I’m not going to make any apologies for pointing out this sad fact. The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing it, and right now you Russell and Martin are standing in the way of that recognition. This is a very serious and immediate problem which currently is posing a severe threat our freedom of speech in the west. Look only at the Danish cartoon debacle to see overwhelming evidence of this. How many newspapers published the cartoons? How many TV news shows showed the cartoons? Basically zero. When we combine modern Islam and the cowardice of western governments and western media, and we have a very serious threat to our freedom of speech.

    PS: I’m not with Sam all the way. I greatly appreciate some of his work, but also some of the stuff he has said is really, really stupid, possibly racist, and needlessly ambiguous with being racist. Then there’s also the sexist stuff. Plus at least one or two things he’s said which are just obscenely ridiculously over the top stupid and evil (like when he said it’s sometimes moral to kill people just for mere speech).

  89. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I also wanted to link to this:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/09/29/muslim-scholars-denounce-isis/#comment-359008
    Recently, an open letter was sent to ISIS/ISIL/IS whatever from some purported moderate Muslim scholars. That’s how it was touted in a bunch of western media. However, when I read the actual letter, I was mildly horrified. (I wasn’t actually horrified only because I expected what was in there.) In short, the purported letter from moderate Muslim scholars adopts positions which are further to the right than many modern US Christian dominionists. Yea. It’s stuff like this that makes me worried when the western media is so quick to praise the moderate Muslims, when those moderate Muslims support the death penalty for apostacy and Satanism, support theocracy, support the “convert, leave, die, or pay the non-Muslim tax”, and so on.

  90. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Concerning the show.

    If I could destroy the cultural idea of “sacred”, I would. The idea of sacred ideas is anathema. It perpetuates only evil. It has no useful purpose.

    I would also similarly destroy the idea of “moral absolutes” in the sense which you are probably using the term. There is no substance in our shared reality which is morality. Morality is something which we conscious creatures impose on it in order to achieve our desired goals. When I see that term used, it’s almost always used in conjunction with divine command theory, which is morally abhorrent. This is another idea which I would love to see purged from our culture.

    (“Destroy” and “purge” only through moral means, such as mere speech and education, like I’m doing now.)

  91. Christian FCP says

    EnlightenmentLiberal. I’m not saying that moral absolutes are the way to go, and I think that it is usually easy to show that people who claim follow them are more relativists than they know. Again, I was referring to the experience of religion and just trying to get at the spectrum of influence on the psyche. When I was much younger, I was a strong believer in moral absolutes. As I got older, a seriousness about doing the right thing remained. But that is just a single observation on the issue.
    I guess I have trouble relating to your attitude about the sacred issue. The absolute statement “It perpetuates only evil” seems extreme and not a little ironic. Evil? As in… evil?

  92. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Christian # 104
    (By the way can I call you FCP instead of “Christian”? I keep thinking it is a title instead of a name like Morgan Freeman as Azeem the Moor calling Kevin Costner as Robin Locksley “Christian” in that film).

    I guess I have trouble relating to your attitude about the sacred issue. The absolute statement “It perpetuates only evil” seems extreme and not a little ironic. Evil? As in… evil?

    .
    I think what he might be getting at (in part at least if not in full) is that absolutism in ideas can lead to inflexible reasoning. Any inflexible reasoning can lead to extremist thinking and an unwillingness to think of alternative or exceptions which is the antithesis of learning and can and does lead to immorality and unethical behavior.
    .
    Is this the idea Enlightenment Liberal or am I off target here?

  93. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal # 103

    When I see that term used, it’s almost always used in conjunction with divine command theory, which is morally abhorrent. This is another idea which I would love to see purged from our culture.

    Maybe we should ask FCP here if he is up to speed with the euthyphro dilemma. Sounds like he might not be and we might have to explain how there are people who would be ok torturing and killing their children because they sincerely believed that god told them to. (Much in the same way as there are those who would let their child die of a poison or disease that medicine could easily cure because they think god would not approve).

  94. Christian FCP says

    LOL on “christian” from Robin Hood. FCP is fine. I don’t see a strong connection between the sacred, and absolutism. Also, have we come this far in discussion only to have you honestly ask if I realize that people will do terrible things because “god told them to”?

  95. Monocle Smile says

    Has it taken this long for you to realize that none of us give two flying fucks about your crappy “experience” because religion carries far too much baggage for that to EVER be “worth it?”

    Your most obnoxious trait by far is your failure to take anything about this discussion seriously. You don’t answer questions, you change the subject, you try to make light of atrocities…the list goes on. You’re just living in blissful ignorance, and that’s perhaps the biggest problem of all.

  96. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 107

    Also, have we come this far in discussion only to have you honestly ask if I realize that people will do terrible things because “god told them to”?

    .
    It may sound redundant for me to ask those questions but one of the things that you learn as an intellectual is to not make too many assumptions. People don’t think alike no matter how much you want them to so you may have to clarify where you are coming from.
    .
    I can’t tell you how wealthy I would be if I had a dollar for the number of times I heard the phrase “I thought you already knew that” from someone that left out a critical detail because they assumed that I was making the same assumptions that they were. Lots of science papers may sound redundant and repetitive, but the idea is to make sure that everyone is (metaphorically speaking) “on the same page” in terms of their thinking.
    .
    Too often (I know I use a lot of analogies) when it comes to filtering information people “throw out the pasta and give you boiled water.” (That is my own saying and it means that you filtered out the wrong part and gave them useless crap). On some of the other message boards some of what I have to say gets kind of long but the idea is to clearly identify the position that I am coming from.
    .
    So yes, I am honestly asking you is you realize that people do terrible things because they think god told them to even though it was likely their own idea, if there is even a god. And you do realize that allowing a child to die form a basketball sized tumor on their leg that could easily be removed from a surgeon because you think god will punish you for doing so is essentially the same thing. Not doing something that you know is good for a person because you think god will punish you can be just as bad as doing something unethical because you think god will punish you if you don’t.

  97. Christian FCP says

    Frank. Fair enough. Yes. I realize that. And yes, clearly that is the same thing if not worse.
    Monocle. The last time I said I would answer any question, your response was “fuck you”. So I went back to find what I thought was the question you really wanted answered. I started going over your posts and found your negativity and vitriol to be a bit much. Some of your questions seem rhetorical, and several are vaguely rhetorical. Posts 36 and 38 show some downright dishonesty. ASK ME A QUESTION. ONE AT A TIME.

  98. Monocle Smile says

    Your tone trolling is noted. And sneered at. Last chance.

    Let’s go with the extremely important one that both EL and I asked and you blatantly ignored.

    You say you have good reasons to believe, but if you don’t even know what the reasons are, then how could you possibly know that they’re good?

    If your response is a non-answer like most of your posts, I’m going to just write you off as a troll.

  99. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian
    The idea of “sacred ideas” generally includes the notion that they should not be questioned, that they are beyond reproach, that they are somehow specially true. This is contrary to the mantra of free speech and free inquiry, which is the basis of most of my problems with your position. Having “sacred ideas” shuts down discourse and encourages false beliefs. Instead, we should encourage everyone to question everything, in order that we might gain more true beliefs and less false beliefs, in order that we might live in a more peaceful and happy world.

  100. Christian FCP says

    Here goes (I’ll try my best as, I would hate to lose your loving attention) : When I say I am not sure of the reasons I believe, I’m just trying to be humble(or at least appear humble). I am leaving open the possibility that, despite my reasons for believing, the real reason could be that I was to heavily indoctrinated or that I am hanging on to the idea because of some other psychological mechanism. To turn it around a bit, you might say that the reason that you are an atheist is because you you looked at the issue and made a rational choice based on the evidence. That still may not be the full truth. A psychologist or sociologist might say something different, like that there are other factors causing you to “choose” this belief. Any number of possible influences come to mind. People who have known you your whole life might say “Oh, he has a vendetta with religion. Old Monocle can completely convince himself of whatever he needs to in order to continue the conflict. He comes up with his “reasons” after the fact and quickly convinces himself that this is the true motive for his position” And so on and so forth. That is what I mean when I say that I am not positive of the reasons that I believe. I WILL, however, tell you what I think are good reasons for believing. One, consciousness. The people who developed quantum mechanics (physics, basically. Which is the basis for all physical science, pretty much) believed that an observer was necessary to collapse the wave function. This came out most sharply in Bohr’s debate with Einstein when Einstein asked “surely the moon is there when we are not looking at it?” Other interpretations followed, and it is no longer in favor. It has not been sufficiently refuted IMO. I think it interesting that it was the first impression of the folks who first glimpsed the quantum world. The study of consciousness itself has been a floundering mess. (your comfort zone may have protected you from this realization, but it is quite true). In a book that I bought partly because of it’s ringing endorsement by Steven Pinker, David Chalmers explains that he was forced to relinquish materialism after looking seriously at consciousness. It was FORCED upon him by the existence of consciousness. He has now been forced into a type of panpsychism (along with many others). The issue of experience, of the hard problem of consciousness, has remained unchanged since the ancient greeks. Or, to put it another way, people who are leaders in their fields like Alva Noe regularly make such statements. (and get endorsements by no less than Daniel Dennett). Not to appeal to authority, just to say that the issue will not go away. If there is a mind in the larger universe, like the pansychists claim, we already have a name for that. Two, origins. How does something come from nothing? Lets ask Stephen Hawking. He acknowledges that it is a pickle, but he has an answer! Gravity. Just give me gravity, and I will give you everything else! This is how you get something from nothing: See, you have this thing called gravity… and that makes everything else possible! Beg the question much? THIS is the level of desperation that science will go to rather than acknowledge that something is beyond reason. A reasonable person will quickly acknowledge that the question appears from the outset to be unanswerable: Why something rather than nothing? Lawrence Krauss explains it by saying that nothing is a plenum!!!! (sad). Of course, religion is happy to acknowledge that some things are beyond understanding. Obviously this asks the question “Where did God come from” and saying “GOD” just pushes it off. However, the religious are ahead of the game in that they accept that there is no materialistic explanation. (the material comes AFTER we get an existence). Three, the rise of order. Not making an argument from design here, just saying that there is a principle eluding science. From stellar evolution (a haphazard fluke according to cosmology!) to the emergence of life and people discussing life. I think that anyone who takes an honest look at it will come to agreement with Stuart Kaufman and Danny Hillis that something remains unexplained. Something baffling. Science comes up short again. Four, ethics. This is personal, but I rely on it. Right and wrong exist outside of a materialist evolutionary framework. I believe that they present themselves as their own reality. Right and wrong. Sorry that it won’t go away, but it won’t. The reason that folks like Aristotle find god while laughing at the greek pantheon of gods, the reason that Spinoza(while being excommunicated for atheism) found god, the reason that philosophers who don’t believe in life after death continue to find god, IS because god is there holding the picture together. The unmoved mover, the thing that lies underneath, the ground of being, the impetus and the universal mind. In the way that evolution ties together and makes sense of biology, God makes sense of the universe.

  101. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, there’s so much wrong in there. I’ll try to pick through the major points

    When I say I am not sure of the reasons I believe, I’m just trying to be humble

    I don’t believe you. Either way, you shouldn’t be dishonest about this.

    To turn it around a bit, you might say that the reason that you are an atheist is because you you looked at the issue and made a rational choice based on the evidence. That still may not be the full truth

    Who cares? And why the fuck would I care about what “people who have known me my whole life” think? They do not and could not know my mind better than I. I question my beliefs on a daily basis. That’s how I’m quite certain they’re sound…and I can change my beliefs, which is the ultimate sin in religion.

    One, consciousness. The people who developed quantum mechanics (physics, basically. Which is the basis for all physical science, pretty much) believed that an observer was necessary to collapse the wave function

    They were wrong. As in, this is nothing more than a hilarious goofy footnote in the history of science in the same category as phlogiston. I don’t give two shits if you “don’t think it’s been sufficiently refuted;” you have demonstrated zero understanding of science and you have the burden of proof ass-backwards.

    The study of consciousness itself has been a floundering mess. (your comfort zone may have protected you from this realization, but it is quite true)

    I see your Dunning-Kruger-induced condescension, and I raise you a “go fuck yourself.” It makes sense that a religious woo monkey who doesn’t know anything would be aggressively dismissive of neuroscience.

    David Chalmers

    Why the fucking fuck would I care what some philosopher thinks? Hint: philosophy isn’t how we gain understanding of reality. And why do you imply that I’m a materialist? See, our beliefs are more than merely different. There are fundamental divides between us. For instance, I don’t “subscribe” to a worldview. Mine is fluid and tentative while yours has absolutist decrees. Mine is dynamic and yours is static. You need to start all over if you’re going to understand.

    The issue of experience, of the hard problem of consciousness, has remained unchanged since the ancient greeks

    So what? This has nothing to do with gods. This is grasping at straws.

    Two, origins. How does something come from nothing?

    Begging the question. I don’t claim that this happened. Few people do. The religious insistence upon beating up this straw man (that they ironically believe themselves) is unsurprising, but no less dishonest.

    Lawrence Krauss explains it by saying that nothing is a plenum!!!! (sad)

    Dishonest equivocation fallacy. Krauss properly acknowledges that philosophical “nothing” has no counterpart in reality, so he is instead talking about the closest thing in reality to “nothing,” which has attributes.

    However, the religious are ahead of the game in that they accept that there is no materialistic explanation

    What absolute horseshit. This is a bald assertion and nothing more. To act like this is the case is incredibly arrogant.

    Three, the rise of order

    This is a PREDICTION of our current models, not a mystery. Emergent complexity is expected and we’ve known about it for a while. I don’t fucking care what some credulous numbskulls think about “something missing.” It’s just another bald assertion.

    Four, ethics. This is personal, but I rely on it

    Don’t fucking care. This is perhaps the most laughable thing you posted. It’s just babble.

    The reason that folks like Aristotle find god

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    the reason that Spinoza(while being excommunicated for atheism) found god

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    This level of dishonest psychobabble isn’t worth my contempt. I merely find it humorous.

    the reason that philosophers who don’t believe in life after death continue to find god, IS because god is there holding the picture together

    No.
    It’s because people with huge egos like to make shit up. You’re one of them.

    The unmoved mover, the thing that lies underneath, the ground of being, the impetus and the universal mind

    Word salad.
    Put down the fucking bong.

  102. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    We don’t care if you were indoctrinated or not. We don’t care about a mechanical description of your mind/brain, nor a neuroscience description, nor a psychological, nor a sociological. We care if you can identify sufficient justification for your belief that the Christian god exists. Can you?

    One, consciousness. The people who developed quantum mechanics (physics, basically. Which is the basis for all physical science, pretty much) believed that an observer was necessary to collapse the wave function.

    No they did not. And what does this have to do with the Christian god?

    It has not been sufficiently refuted IMO.

    Wrong shifting of the burden of proof. It has never been demonstrated, and thus I have no need to refute it. That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    If there is a mind in the larger universe, like the pansychists claim, we already have a name for that.

    I still fail to see what this has to do with the Christian god. What is your argument? Please spell it out. All I see is:
    1- There exists a dualist non-material substance called “mind”.
    2- ???
    3- Profit! Christian god

    You are missing a step in there.

    Two, origins. How does something come from nothing?

    1- I am open to the possibility that timespace extends without boundary into the past. It is possible that there is no need to explain “how did the first time come about?” because there might not be a first time.

    2- I am open to the possibility that something can come from nothing. I am open to the possibility that there is a first moment of time, and that it was uncaused. Further, I understand “causation” only in the context of time and a predecessor state, and so I do not understand what it could possibly mean for a first moment of time to be caused because there is no predecessor state to speak of causation.

    3- If the first moment of time had a cause, why must it be a mind? It could be an impersonal force.

    The argument used by William Lane Craig is that there are two kinds of causation – material and personal. That’s just wrong. All personal causation reduces to material causation. Your mind and mine are the results of the mere mechanical devices known as our brains. We have never seen a mind without a brain, and we have never seen a mind do something a mechanical device could not, and we have lots of good evidence that brains are mere mechanical devices thus minds are the mere result of mechanical devices.

    The alternative is ridiculous. The alternative is that your mind can do something which a mechanical device cannot. I hope you think you can act on such decisions, which means at some point in the process your body must react to a choice made by your mind, which means the soul must tug at some neurons or other particles in the brain or body to enact its will. Again – that’s the simple consequences of stating that you think your mind is more than your brain. However, the evidence is strong that there is no such thing going on in the brain. There is no soul which is tugging at the particles in the brain. We know this.

    4- Even if there was a first cause, and even if that first cause was a mind, why do you think it’s a god? Why do you think it’s a god which has ever interacted with humans at all? Why do you think it’s the Christian god in particular?

    I can name you a night infinite number of alternative god hypotheses which also “explain” the origin of matter and space time, and each of those alternative god hypotheses are just as likely as the Christian god hypothesis. All you have to do to construct each alternative hypothesis is pick a star in the observable universe, take the Christian bible and Christianity and replace “Earth” with “planet around that star” and “human” with “alien on that planet”. That’s about a trillion trillion mutually incompatible gods, and each is about as likely to exist as the Christian god. For the purposes of our discussion, that might as well be infinity.

    Something is evidence for a proposition when the proposition predicts that the evidence is more likely to exist if the proposition is true. (Basic Bayesian reasoning.) In this case, your “evidence” is equally likely on a trillion trillion mutually incompatible propositions, which means that it does not change our estimation of the likelihood of their truth. Your first-cause argument simply does not favor the Christian god over the multitude of other possible gods like the god of the aliens of Rigel-7.

    Only by sheer hubris, arrogance, can you think that a first-cause argument favors any human god. Only by the arrogance of assuming humans are special can you think that a first-cause argument favors any human god. You speak of humility? My ass. Your arguments rests on the supremely arrogant assertion that the entire universe was made just for you (and other humans).

    PS: Paragraph breaks. Use them.

  103. Christian FCP says

    I’m open to those possibilities as well. You are the one who is committed to excluding the key principle that holds it all together.

  104. Monocle Smile says

    Oh, my aching ass. You’re not “open” to shit.
    You identify as a Christian, so clearly you’ve already made a decision. Furthermore, describing some vague, word-salady, deistic-type god and then making the leap to Christian theology is the very pinnacle of dishonesty a la William Lane Craig. It’s a geyser of shit that no one with half a brain buys for a second outside of people who already follow the dogma.

  105. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 113
    Don’t get me wrong, you are more open minded than many a believer who comes in here and you are demonstrating a willingness to ask questions but you inserted a lot of special pleading and arguments from ignorance into the way you answered. I will let others take that apart if they like.
    .
    As Enlightenment Liberal pointed out, everything must be open to questioning. A god, that is a sentient conciousness, requires what I will cal, for lack of a better term, a mind. We have no example of a mind being able to exist without a physical brain. We also have no evidence of a universe outside this one that could contain a physical brain that could subsequently influence this universe. So one should be opened to the possibility that regardless of any psycholigical influences upon your mind, our mind, or anyone else’s mind, that no sentient conciousness exists beyond that of our physical brains.
    .
    It is not to say that a metaphysical world is not possible to contain said brain. However, without observable proof of that metaphysical realm the default position is to assume that it does not exist. Basically, are you opened to the possibility that there is no god no matter how much you want there to be or how much it makes sense to you? (That is what you left out)
    .
    If that is beyond questioning and no amount of evidence would convince you then we are done and no amount of immersion therapy would help. It is not a matter of just going beyond reason. We have no proof that there IS anything beyond reason and to claim that something exists without proof is special pleading. It MIGHT exist without proof, key into the word “MIGHT.” There MIGHT be things in this world beyond reason, but to default to the position that there are things beyond proof because you can’t understand them is an argument from ignorance.
    .
    However, I would still recommend that you watch a wide array of the videos not only of TAE but of other atheist works. I find AronRa to be particularly enlightening and he addresses some of the physics that you talk about. Here is a good link to something recent that addresses some of what you discuss:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvg3mRZXut4&list=UUAJfDidJyukTekgSRZrjadw
    .
    Oh and if you think that:

    However, the religious are ahead of the game in that they accept that there is no materialistic explanation. (the material comes AFTER we get an existence).

    That is sadly foolish as it does not lead to discovery and in many cases may even impair discovery. Materialistic explanation and refusal to just accept that there was not one is exactly what led to evolutionary biology among a host of other scienes that have improved our lives dramatically. Yes one can believe in god and still search for scientific explanations which do rely upon empirically evidence, fact. However, when you say that evolution ties together and makes sense of biology, keep in mind that for years people said that God made sense of life and did not go any further with trying to understand life for just that reason.
    .
    One of the key principles of science, knowledge, and learning, is being willing to say the words, “I don’t know” and for this to lead to “let’s try to find out.”

  106. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Err, I somehow stopped reading. I suppose the stupid was getting to me.

    Three, the rise of order. Not making an argument from design here, just saying that there is a principle eluding science.

    Saying you’re not making an intelligent designer arguemnt doesn’t make it true. You are making an intelligent design argument. It’s near textbook. And it’s wrong for all of the usual reasons.

    Your ideas are indistinct. You are not making any specific claims. Instead, you’re handwaving and referring to some fuzzy – something. I cannot respond to a fuzzy something. I need a distinct claim.

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them;” – Thomas Jefferson

    I have no recourse but to ridicule, which I’ll hold off for a while longer. You say that science is missing something. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Stars result from the accretion of interstellar dust. It’s well known physical processes. It’s the same for evolution. Abiogenesis we’re still working on. We have some good guesses we’re working on.

    Science comes up short again.

    In addition to my above complaints – what has done better? You are typing on a computer, connected to a web of interconnected computers numbers in what – millions? Billions? You are not dead before the age of 5 thanks to sanitation, vaccination, and other advances in health, unlike most humans even a few hundred years ago where half of all people died before the age of 5. How the hell can you say science comes up short again!? What else has done better? What else has done anything at all? Religion has been nothing but an impediment to human progress and happiness. It has given us nothing, and taken everything.

    Four, ethics. This is personal, but I rely on it. Right and wrong exist outside of a materialist evolutionary framework. I believe that they present themselves as their own reality. Right and wrong. Sorry that it won’t go away, but it won’t. The reason that folks like Aristotle find god while laughing at the greek pantheon of gods, the reason that Spinoza(while being excommunicated for atheism) found god, the reason that philosophers who don’t believe in life after death continue to find god, IS because god is there holding the picture together. The unmoved mover, the thing that lies underneath, the ground of being, the impetus and the universal mind. In the way that evolution ties together and makes sense of biology, God makes sense of the universe.

    I have no idea what any of that means. I think you were trying to make an argument, but I just see a random string of words and naked assertions. Please try again.

    Also, what does morality have to do with evolution? You likely missed a memo here. We are not social Darwinists. Consider this example: We know that lightning sometimes strikes people. It’s true. Teaching that lightning sometimes kills people is not an endorsement. Instead, we teach people that lightning sometimes kills people in order to help them avoid being killed by lightning. Very often, morality is about acting against nature, against the natural order. (See “appeal to nature” fallacy.)

    Similarly, evolution is a fact. It is true that the less fit survive less often. However, it is also true that the moral thing to do is to act against evolution. That’s why we atheists and liberals more often support free health care for all to ensure that the weak do survive, unlike our Republican Christian neighbors.

    Right and wrong depends on a very simple notion that we want to improve our lives. We want to live happier, safer lives. We want to improve our well-being. I have no need of moral absolutes. I have no need of god. I believe it was Nietzsche who once said that if god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. To the contrary! If your Christian god existed, it would be necessary to destroy him. As documented in your holy book, your god is a moral abomination worthy only of scorn and destruction. If Stargate SG-1 has taught us anything, it is that the proper response to evil gods is not to bow down and worship, but to blow them up. Nuke god!

    PS:

    Spinoza(while being excommunicated for atheism)

    What the fuck does this even mean? Do you think that a committee got together to excommunicate him? Do you think that there’s an atheist pope who did it? Can you cite your sources please? What the fuck are you talking about?

  107. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Spinoza(while being excommunicated for atheism)

    What the fuck does this even mean? Do you think that a committee got together to excommunicate him? Do you think that there’s an atheist pope who did it? Can you cite your sources please? What the fuck are you talking about?

    Oh, I see now. My apologies. You mean Spinoza was being excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Pope or some such for purportedly being an atheist. I see.

    The rest of my complaints still stand AFAIK.

  108. Christian FCP says

    I thought (my aching ass) you were (Why the fucking fuck) asking why I (love it when this happens) believe in (sneered at. Last chance) god, not (geyser of shit) why I (Be very careful how you continue to post) am a christian. (Fuck you).
    Copying your style Monocle. Next, I will work on paragraph breaks.

  109. Christian FCP says

    Sorry, EnlightenmentLiberal. Was referring to the excommunication by the jewish community in Amsterdam. Making the point that he had already been branded an atheist.

  110. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP

    I’m open to those possibilities as well. You are the one who is committed to excluding the key principle that holds it all together.

    No, we actually are not. We are opened to the possibility that a key principle MAY hold it all together. However, none of what you claimed really summises as any sort of proof that it does. In the absence of proof, the default is to assume that it does not exist. That’s why most in here are agnostics with atheist leanings. You seem to be implying that it is either gnostic theism, knowing that a god exists, or gnostic atheism, knowing that one does not.
    .
    There is also agnostic theism, acknowledging that one does not know there is a god (where I thought you were earlier) but in the absence of proof one defaults to a position that one exists, and agnostic atheism. Not really familiar with this are you? (It is why I suggested immersion therapy, might get you familiar with the terminology and ideas that you may not have thought of before).

  111. Monocle Smile says

    Did you beat yourself in the head with a hammer before you posted? Because that attempt at snark looks absolutely nothing like my post. It’s almost cute how you struggle with everything, even simple ridicule. I use blockquote to make my posts easy to follow, which is a concept you seem unfamiliar with.

    Wait, are you trying to say that the reasons you believe in god and the reasons why you’re a Christian are different? Okay, you MUST be fucking with me.

  112. Christian FCP says

    No, EnlightenmentLiberal, I was not trying to make an argument. I have had several discussions since coming to this blog yesterday. Monocle, between strings of profanity and insults, was insisting that I answer his questions. Also telling me to “be careful”. I thought perhaps he was the moderator so I complied. I think they are good reasons though. You guys make several valid criticisms, but I think that your ideology blinds you to the strengths of these points.

  113. Monocle Smile says

    I think that your ideology blinds you to the strengths of these points.

    This is one of those moments where I’m thankful that it’s impossible to suffer a fatal overdose of irony.

  114. Ethan Myerson says

    @126, I think you may be overestimating the “strengths of these points”. You’ve basically presented arguments from ignorance (“Science cannot explain XYZ, therefore god”), which is as you know a logical fallacy. Those are not strong points, because they do nothing to demonstrate the validity of your claim.

  115. Monocle Smile says

    If monkeys come out my ass, then blueberries are flattering.

    Yes, that’s exactly how much sense you just made.

  116. Ethan Myerson says

    Sorry, that was something of a non sequitur. I pointed out your fallacious reasoning, you replied with “If pansychism is true, then that is god.” If panpsychism is true, then *what* is god?

    Let’s take this one step at a time. Do you recognize that some failure of science does not make for evidence of a god?

  117. Christian FCP says

    Absolutely Ethan. As I said in my post, putting god as the answer merely begs the question. The question then becomes “whence god?”. Also, a lack of an answer just implies ignorance. It implies no specific answer.

  118. Ethan Myerson says

    “It implies no specific answer.”

    But you have asserted a god as an answer, haven’t you? How did you get there?

  119. Christian FCP says

    I’m saying that pansychism gives the universe itself a mind. We already have a name for that.

  120. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Ethan. If pansychism is true, then that is god.

    From wikipedia, that sounds an awful lot like idealism, which is simply false. Again, advances of knowledge from modern neuroscience mean it’s untrue.

    We know that the mind is the result of the physical brain, and not the other way around. The starting substance is matter, and mind is a derived “substance” contingent on the brain. You have it exactly backwards.

    We know this because when we damage certain parts of the brain, you damage certain parts of the mind. Yes I know about the antenna metaphor excuse, but only someone who’s never thought about it could say something so obviously wrong.

    If I damage a certain part of your brain, you will be unable to recognize faces.

    If I damage a certain part of your brain, you lose the ability to generate grammatically correct spoken language. You still have the ability to speak but not speak anything sensible. You also still have the ability to comprehend the grammar and structure of when other people speak to you.

    If I damage a certain part of your brain, you lose the ability to parse the grammar of other people’s speech. You can still hear and your hearing is undamaged, but you simply cannot understand what they’re saying.

    If I damage a certain part of your brain, you lose the ability to form long term memories.

    If I damage a certain part of your brain, you lose the ability to do basic math.

    And so on.

    Every piece of your mind is located in a part of your brain. There is no room left for a soul independent of the brain which does anything. It is ridiculous to know that you will lose those abilities when parts of the brain are damaged, but that when the whole brain is destroyed you will be able to go up to heaven, recognize grandma’s face, and have a conversation with her.

  121. Ethan Myerson says

    OK, so your arguments from ignorance were just a red herring? You agree that they do nothing to demonstrate the validity of your god claim.

    Don’t muddy the water. Demonstrate that your real argument – this panpsychism – is valid. So far, all you’ve done to further that demonstration is assert that the universe has a mind and that “we already have a name for that”. We’ll need more than assertions. Show us why panpsychism should be accepted.

  122. Christian FCP says

    EnlightenmentLiberal. I acknowledge all those points. They are very solid and say a great deal. However, pansychism is not idealism. Even such a gifted expositor of brain science(acknowledged by leaders in the field) as Sam Harris holds open the possibility of reincarnation. Pansychism has always, and continues to be, in the running as part of an explanation for consciousness. It is an open question. Ethan. I didn’t say it was an argument. Early in this thread I was asked “what is the proof of god” and I answered “there are no proofs that I know of”.

  123. Ethan Myerson says

    I’m not looking for proof, which doesn’t even make sense in this context. I’m looking for a demonstration of why the claims of panpsychism should be considered valid. If no such demonstration is possible, why do you accept the claims? There are billions of claims that are equally unsupportable. You don’t accept all of them, do you? On what basis do you accept some unsupportable claims and reject others?

    I’m not trying to be a jerk here. This idea (of accepting some unsupportable claims and rejecting others) is just foreign to me, and I’m trying to understand it.

  124. Christian FCP says

    Ethan. Cool. Well I will get into it. It is quite a lengthy issue, but I am willing to keep up a discussion about it. If you decide to do a deep dive meanwhile I recommend David Chalmers The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Or any of his Ted Talks. Anyway, I discovered pansychism on my own as a teenager, and then became aware of William James exposition of a version of it. The biologist Brian Goodwin as well as Erwin Schrodinger give good descriptions of it’s appeal as well.

    To begin with, I am not advocating that anyone accept it over anything else. I am just being honest about my position. Plato split the universe into mind and matter early on (for whatever reason). Descartes probably did the same just to get on with science. Whether one chooses some sort of dualism for mind and matter or chooses a monism that contains the properties of both (like Bertrand Russell or Spinoza) we end up with the same basic principal. It seems to come from an inability to reduce it into any component parts, this leads to treating it as a property. Like energy.

  125. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 139

    Even such a gifted expositor of brain science(acknowledged by leaders in the field) as Sam Harris holds open the possibility of reincarnation.

    That is because he is being a good scientist and he is allowing for the possibility of anything to come along that might demonstrate that reincarnation has validity. That doesn’t mean that there currently IS evidence to demonstrate that validity. In the absence of proof he would default to rejecting it despite it remaining opened afterwards.
    .

    Pansychism has always, and continues to be, in the running as part of an explanation for consciousness.

    I would claim that the physical brain is an explanation for consciousness, and a pretty good one at that. But even if pansychism was a good explanation for consciousness, what evidence do you have to support pansychism outside of conjecture?
    If you have nothing the default is to reject it. Albeit one can still be opened to that rejection being altered if presented with empirical evidence.
    .
    I think that you are still appealing to ignorance by trying to claim something metaphysical, but let’s see where this goes. We might be making some headway here to get you into thinking (which is much better than some others who come on here).
    .
    Also please excuse Monocle Smile. A lot of believers who come in here are egocentric and have to be “right” and make all sorts of ridiculous claims. Many won’t back down on the not having physical proof for god argument and will make all sorts of claims (hence why I respect you more). If you think he is bad with rudeness and name calling you should hear them. (Not saying that two wrongs make a right, but trying not to be reactionary to individuals like that can be tough).
    .
    Also, if you are trying to claim that you are pansychistic religiously, you might prefer Buddhism or modern day Neo-Paganism to Xtianity, they favor that view much better than Xtianity does. If you get a good feeling out of Xtian religion you might get a REALLY good feeling out of those if that congeals with your views. And if you want to go reincarnation I would suggest Hindu or Jainism,

  126. Christian FCP says

    I appreciate your friendliness, Frank. I continue to feel that experience is incommensurate with materialism. I find the sense to be overwhelming and very hard to dismiss. I think it is one of, or possibly the most profound question with which we are confronted.

  127. Monocle Smile says

    FCP,
    Why have you ignored pretty much every EL has posted concerning this fallacious “dualism?”
    Furthermore, of all the people you listed, only ONE is a physicist. Several of them are people who MAKE SHIT UP for a living. Why the fuck should anyone care what Plato said on this topic? Or Chalmers or goddamn WILLIAM JAMES? He didn’t know ANYTHING about physics or neuroscience!

    Also, neither Goodwin nor Schrodinger actually agree with you. You’ve just grossly misunderstood the topic at hand.

  128. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP

    Early in this thread I was asked “what is the proof of god” and I answered “there are no proofs that I know of”.

    Stop flip-flopping. Do you have sufficient justification for your belief that there is a Christian god, or not? I can’t believe I actually have to ask this, but: Do you also know and understand that sufficient justification?

    As far as I can tell, this pansychism has absolutely nothing to do with the Christian god. It supports the god of the aliens of Rigel-7 as much as it supports the Christian god, which means it supports neither. If some piece of evidence is expected on all of the available alternative hypotheses, like the other trillion trillion equally plausible god hypotheses, then that evidence does not support any of them at all. It’s a non-sequitur.

    Again, do you have any justifications for your belief that the Christian god – as described in the Christian bible – exists? What are they?

  129. Matzo Ball Soup says

    People who get called “Islamophobic” come in two categories.

    (1) People who criticize crazy religious beliefs. Remember when Richard Dawkins expressed his surprise that Mehdi Hasan believed literally in the flying horse Buraq, and taught the story to his young daughter as fact, and was nevertheless taken seriously as a journalist in the 21st century? And remember all those op-ed pieces decrying this as bigotry? (Never mind that Dawkins would have said exactly the same thing about a Christian who believed in Noah’s flood.) But if Hasan were an atheist or a secularist of some kind, Dawkins would almost certainly have no problem with him at all, at least in principle; that’s the impression I got from all this, at least.

    (2) People who are just racist, independently of religion: EDL-types in England who target Pakistanis based on their ethnicity, or those people in the US you hear about sometimes on the news who are so against “radical Islamism” that they shoot up a Sikh temple in response. Because, you know, brown people. That is, they would have the same attitude towards the Muslims of whom they are “phobic” even if it were the case that they were not Muslims at all.

    I’m not convinced that there is a thing called “Islamophobia” that deserves a label as a concept: (2) is just racism, and (1) is just criticism of religion. At the very least, they are not a natural class and should not have the *same* label.

    What intrigues me in particular is the description of (1) as “bigotry”. I always thought that bigotry specifically referred to negative attitudes based on *inherent properties* that people *cannot control* (like race or ethnicity). I can’t think of a meaningful difference between ridiculing the religious beliefs of Muslims and ridiculing the political beliefs of Republicans, quite honestly. Sure, religion is transmitted culturally, but political beliefs basically are too, right?

  130. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Matzo Ball Soup
    About the definition of bigotry. It may be that being gay is a choice (I doubt it, but hypothetical). Even then, ant-gay feelings would still be bigotry IMHO.

    From Merriam-Webster:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot

    a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    It hinges on the meaning of “obstinate”.

    IMHO, the usage of bigot requires that we insert “unjustified intolerance” into the definition. One is not a bigot to discriminate against murders and rapists. Murderers and rapists are not protected groups. Being gay, having a certain race, etc., are protected groups, because there’s nothing wrong with being a member of that group, whether voluntary or not. It’s justified to discriminate against murderers and rapists, and it’s not justified to discriminate against gays and certain races. IMHO, that’s the sensible meaning of “bigot”.

    Of course, by that definition, one person’s bigot is another person’s hero. It all hinges on whether the discrimination is justified. Against Muslims, I think it is. I think it’s also justified against Christians. Has nothing to do with race, and everything to do their celebration of the horrible monster – their god – and the desire of many Muslims for the death penalty for many non-offenses like apostacy.

  131. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 143
    Experience from a physical standpoint, i.e. empirically demonstrable evidence, IS materialism. The emotional experience that you are talking about does not map to reality. What you are talking about is basically imagination. I can understand why you don’t get this as it sounds like you don’t have a minds that thinks scientifically. That is ok, it takes time.
    .
    You can imagine all that you want to make you feel good, but unless we can develop telekinesis, what you imagine won’t map to reality. A lot of believers make that mistake, believing that their emotions map to reality and accepting as evidentiary proof something that is not really evidence.
    .
    Emotion is very powerful as is very important, even to the scientific method as imagining that something is possible is a hypothesis and imagination helps us to determine what would demonstrate support for that hypothesis and what would demonstrate support for a hypothesis being incorrect. Despite the appeal and usage of emotion, it does not prove anything. If it did then we could claim any hypotheses we wished to be true regardless of having physical evidence to support it. I don’t think that you would really like that in the long run.

  132. Christian FCP says

    Monocle. “Although I think that life may be the result of an accident, I do not think that of consciousness. Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” – Erwin Schrodinger. I want your apology in writing, Monocle. Or you can wait till I find the Goodwin quote.

  133. says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal # 145

    Do you have sufficient justification for your belief that there is a Christian god, or not? I can’t believe I actually have to ask this, but: Do you also know and understand that sufficient justification?

    I have a feeling that he does not really comprehend the scientific method. As I said to him, I think he feels that emotion maps to reality. That is a common misconception of a lot of believers. Oddly enough even as a believer I realized that this was not the case which is likely why I had my doubts and was, at best, an agnostic theist.

  134. says

    @ FCP # 149

    Monocle. “Although I think that life may be the result of an accident, I do not think that of consciousness. Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” – Erwin Schrodinger

    Schrondinger is just asserting what he thinks, it is still conjecture. As a good scientist who knows that imagination does not map to reality if asked what proof he had of consciousness Schrondinger would answer professionally, “I don’t know” and without proof would default to there being no consciousness.
    .
    And when was it said that life was by accident?

  135. says

    @ FCP # 143

    I appreciate your friendliness, Frank

    Don’t mistake that friendliness with agreement. I actually largely agree with Monocle here. Schrondinger would not agree with you on a professional level (personally maybe). You’ve demonstrated something common to a lot of believers, the inability to separate conjecture and imagination from reality.
    .
    I just have more patience as I recognize how powerful emotion can be even whether it leads to rational or irrational claims. I recognize that it can be hard to dismiss powerful feelings even when one has hard evidence that they have lead a person to the wrong conclusions. That is probably why a lot of creationists reject evolution despite hard evidence that it happened, emotional investment.

  136. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    Well, I want a pretty pink birthday cake with my face on it, but that ain’t gonna happen, either.

    Thanks, Frank, for clearing that up. Schrodinger died in 1961, and neuroscience has taken off since then.

    FCP, why the actual fuck do you think quotes by anyone mean ANYTHING to us? Why should they mean anything to anyone? Claims stand and fall on their own merits, not by who accepted them or did not. Notice that none of us have quoted anyone on anything. There’s a reason for that, and it’s utterly escaped you.

  137. mintho says

    On your Islamophobia talk, you really proved Harris’ point for him. In fact, I didn’t really hear any argument against his position. But instead of me addressing the fallacies, let me point you towards Harris’ own blogpost on the subject which does a great job at disentangling the liberal hypocracy: http://m.samharris.org/blog/item/can-liberalism-be-saved-from-itself

    As for your snarky remarks regarding Europeans, frankly, you don’t live here, you obviously have no idea how bad things have become. It’s a disgrace that the liberal media is not interested, that only the hard core right wingnuts and the religious media report it. It’s not halal food, it’s the sum of it all, starting with little things like Muslim parents refusing to let their girls take swimming lessons in school and going to court over it, all the way to a self proclaimed Sharia police roaming the streets of many large European cities. And there’s a clear correlation between Muslim population and the actions these people take. In cities where the Muslim community is in the minority, they only harass fellow Muslims who want to live a free, western life (which is terrible enough), in cities, or quarters where Muslims dominate, they outright police the streets, you might have heard the stories about the American exchange student who was hospitalized for drinking alcohol in such a part of town in the UK. That’s the kind of shit we experience on a daily basis and it sickens me that liberals in particular always come to the defense of Islam, claiming that religion has nothing to do with it…but it has everything to do with it, the liberals simply cannot understand how a religious mindset could possibly motivate these actions, that’s why they dismiss it. On the other hand, Christian fundamentalists understand it very well, which is why they’re so afraid. You guys should also know better, you have been battling the religious mindset for ages, you should know what it can do. And the most scary part is that there virtually is no liberal Islam, there never was a historical critical approach in Islam, no enlightenment, etc. The vast majority of Muslims is conservative when it comes to their religion, and a significant minority are fundamentalists. A recent poll in my native Germany revealed that 25% of young Muslims (I think aged 16-25 or something thereabout) reject our free democratic society and want a theocracy instead. These numbers are freaking scary, and they can only be explained by their religion. BTW, similar polls in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring had results around 90%…and almost 10% of Egypt was Christan…from what I can see, even within Europe, German Muslims are on the more “liberal” side as they mostly come from Turkey which has had a 75 year secular history…which is currently being rolled back though. Other countries like the UK, France, Belgium, etc. aren’t as lucky. In the UK, the Muslims are mostly from Pakistan, in the rest of the EU mostly Arabs or Africans, all of which tend to be a lot more fundamentalist. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of Muslims endorsing sharia law in these countries would be even significantly higher than in Germany.

    Our liberals usually only blame discrimination of Muslims for their extreme beliefs, which is not only condescending towards them, but also demonstrably false. Not that there is no discrimination, I’m sure there is, but there’s one particularity about our Turkish immigrants: The majority of Turks in Turkey are Sunnis, but there’s a sizable minority, the Alevi, who make up disproportionally large numbers among the Turks in Germany. The Alevi are kind of a liberal Muslim faction who have always been more open and tolerant. And lo and behold, they have much less issues living in a western country, from education, job market, all the way to crime statistics. Yet, if there is discrimination, they suffer exactly the same, as they have the same names and the same skin color, etc. as the Turkish Sunnis. Religion is the only discriminating factor. And this also shows that it has nothing to do with racism. A belief is not a race.

  138. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Monocle # 153 and FCP

    Thanks, Frank, for clearing that up. Schrodinger died in 1961, and neuroscience has taken off since then.

    Even if neuroscience had not taken off part of the scientific method involves having material proof, or at least something empirical, for that which you assert. Emotional experience, no matter how incredibly strong and good feeling it is, just does not map to reality. Those who can distinguish their emotional experience, i.e.: what is basically their imaginations, from reality cannot function, particularly if they are a danger to themselves or others. It sounds like Christian here has risked that given the psychology he is talking about. Also, of course, Schrodinger was speaking as a person, not as a professional. As a professional scientist he is held to different standards of rational thought not maintained in his personal life.
    .
    As far as claims standing on their own merits and not by who said them, I have a feeling that Xtian here is pretty new to logic and has not heard of the argument from authority fallacy. Given the emotional investment he has made into his claims, he probably believes that authority somehow maps to reality too. I would ask that we be gentle with him though as we may make some headway yet. He needs to stop thinking like a politician though (that may take a lot of time).
    .
    FCP, emotional experience, no matter how strong, cannot outweigh the authority of observed reality. If it was biological evolution which contributes greatly to medicine (as mentioned in the previous stories) would never have developed. much less ANY of science and you would probably not even be chatting with us.
    .
    If you need a good foothold for emotional experience, something to feel good about, think about how great scientific advances really have been. Take some coursework in these areas, watch some free videos on youtube from some accredited scholars. You may find in the long run that it has a similar effect upon you as religion did if you stick with it (hence the total immersion therapy). You may insist that it can’t, but you won’t know if you don’t try will you?

  139. Christian FCP says

    I understand the scientific method, Frank. I just don’t think it is of much use most of the time.

  140. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    How can you possibly say something so inane, especially after EL’s post about science?

  141. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 157
    Then stop getting vaccinations, surgery, stop using your computer, stop taking vitamins, if a crime is committed don’t bother getting a police report because that will involve forensic evidence, don’t bother drinking your clean water, don’t use electricity, don’t eat your cultivated food, don’t keep pets, don’t drive a car, don’t use your phone, etc, etc
    .
    Yes ALL of those things involved the usage of the scientific method at some point. Your life is made extraordinarily convenient by the scientific method and it keeps people alive. That very procedure like xenobiotic grafting and techniques to cure poison bites and cancer, among a countless host of other things were developed using the scientific method. You would not have clean water to drink or the electricity to run the computer you are communicating on were it not for the scientific method.
    ,
    That is your emotion talking FCP. Your emotional investment is deep and you don;t want the scientific method to be more important than emotion is. The scientific method benefits from emotion but emotion does not, will not, and cannot override it for learning to occur.
    .
    If you don’t want to learn then fine, but don;t stand in the way of others learning. Pardon my friendliness getting a bit rusty but how dare you have the audacity to say such a thing as that.
    .
    If you believe in a god keep in mind that the process of evolution created by that god allowed for man to develop an understanding using the scientific method and you have the arrogance to be so disrespectful of that gift? Wouldn’t your god be ashamed of you for that, treating a gift like learning by using the scientific method with such contempt?
    .
    You need an education, big time. You need to learn about some of the scientific developments of those individuals you admire rather than just their philosophical views. How dare you. I use the scientific method everyday for people like you just to have what I use put aside like that.
    .
    Maybe I shouldn’t be so friendly to someone like you.

  142. says

    @ Monocle # 158

    How can you possibly say something so inane, especially after EL’s post about science?

    Or after the insanity of letting a child potentially die from a snake bite or not allowing xenobiotic grafting to occur which benefit from science? I can’t believe I was friendly to this guy. I can;t believe he would insult what I do for a living that way. And coming from a “compassionate” christian believer like that too.
    .
    I didn’t name call or treat him like a dick or anything and I have that stuffed in my face? I feel like I have just been spit upon. Well whatever respect he had for me has been lost pretty damn quickly.

  143. HappyPerson says

    about the missing something if you don’t have religious experience issue: there are many different types of religious experience and what needs to be clarified is the kind of experience involved as well as the cause e.g. due belief x.

    i certainly am not missing out on any kind of religious experience, especially the ones that arise out of fundamental beliefs.

  144. says

    @ Happyperson # 161

    i certainly am not missing out on any kind of religious experience, especially the ones that arise out of fundamental beliefs.

    What difference does that make when individuals with those beliefs are completely unappreciative of how people like us help to improve and even save their lives everyday? I guess they can just thank their almighty god for doing all of the work and how he might remove the bullet from a wound if they prey hard enough and prevent it from getting infected rather than go to a hospital and get people to help them whom they might owe thanks to. Oh no that would be so terrible to have to thank other people.

  145. Matt Gerrans says

    Hear, hear to the comments above, taking Russell and Martin to task on their unsubstantiated attack on Sam Harris. I was really annoyed with Russell parroting the same straw man fallacy that batman got all red in the face screaming out over and over again. Ugh. I expect better on the AE.

    To help you believe, Frank: Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People

  146. says

    @ Matt Gerrans # 163
    I was nice and polite and respected emotion because I know that it is important. I guess that I should not have. Maybe MS was right to just start flinging out insults and hurting feelings rather than bother trying to be polite. Not like being polite was appreciated any more than science is.

  147. Monocle Smile says

    @Frank

    I would have been polite, except I listened to the call. FCP was extremely smug and called Russell a coward for not doing LSD, as I said in my first post. I typically don’t go on the offensive immediately unless there are glaring red flags.

  148. HappyPerson says

    when i listened to the show I took the christian to mean, when he said that there are some things that science doesn’t touch and emotion does, to involve things that do not deal with truth. what contexts this applies to is debatable but some people may include things like who to marry, your favorite music etc.
    at least this is what i think is the most charitable interpretation of what was said.

  149. HappyPerson says

    @frank 162

    the mistake of some religious positions is in making empirical claims. the perfect example of galileo was mentioned during the AE episode. having hope and praying is one thing, but thinking that it has any relevant effect is another (eg in actually curing disease, winning the lottery, etc).

  150. Christian FCP says

    I’m sorry Frank, but that is how I feel. The human condition remains the same. We are born, we live, and we die. We struggle with relationships, we struggle for resources. We experience joy, fear, love, hate, longing, etc. Science changes none of that. Our species flourished for tens of thousands of years without science. It is cool and all, tech is cool, vaccinations and the benefits of modern medicine are great. Of course much of this is the result of elbow grease and human ingenuity. Many of these scientists who you imagine yourself in league with wouldn’t know what the hell you were talking about with regard to imagination mapping onto reality etc. You guys aren’t a bunch of Werner Heisenbergs or anything. You are not Jonas Salks. Those are the people who create affection for science. You guys are standing in front of these people and their accomplishments and saying “we are with them!” The hell you are. Perhaps you have participated in what Thomas Kuhn called “clean up” work, but maybe not even that. More likely you are a technician. This is just science nerd culture. Max Plank would probably be embarrassed to shit in your toilette.

  151. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Again, you seem to be taking both sides of the issue. Either vaccines, sanitation, etc., are valuable things which improve the human condition, or they are not. Which is it? Would you rather try to live without vaccines and sanitation, or with?

    Also, it’s necessary for us to personally have invented something to improve the human condition with science in order to extol the virtues of science? Dishonest shit, and you know it.

  152. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    That queef of a paragraph is just petulant butthurt whining on your part. Pretending that you actually believe that garbage would be a major insult to your intelligence.

    What’s your problem? Are you just here to troll? Because it’s obvious you’re not interested in discussion.

  153. Christian FCP says

    I call bullshit, EL. Clearly there are things throughout history which are nice to have. The human condition remains. You can appreciate poetry from 2,000 years ago…. or maybe you cant. Life is life.

  154. mas says

    I was disappointed that Martin and Russell so cavalierly dismissed concerns over halal and kosher foods. Animals are bled out in a sadistic and barbaric manner. It’s been banned in Denmark, and I expect other enlightened countries will follow suit eventually.

  155. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    About Islamophobia. I was talking about it with a friend, and I think I can put it into words better.

    Beliefs matter. People act on their beliefs. People with different beliefs will act differently. On average, we should expect Muslims to behave differently than Christians. The alternative is silly: that Christianity and Islam are contentless. I doubt any fan of the show can take that position.

    I’m not talking about the content of the holy book. I’m talking about the content of the cultures – plural – which identify as Muslim (and the cultures which identify as Christian). In order to say that “every religion has their terrorists”, you have to say that there is absolutely nothing that Muslims have in common moreso than humans in general, e.g. that Islam is content-free.

    I finally got around to watching the bit with Maher. Everyone had some good points. However, the part I want to focus on is where Ben Affleck wrongly thinks that Muslims who want to kill apostates are a very small minority of Muslims, and that there exists an equivalent number of Christians with equally hideous beliefs. Russell has the exact same sentiment when he said “every religion has their terrorists”. It’s simply not true. There is a problem in nearly all of the cultures which identify as Muslim regarding their desire to kill apostates. And we cannot begin to deal with the problem until we recognize the problem for what it is. It’s not just a few bad apples. It is an endemic problem to those cultures.

    It’s not all Muslims. It’s not all “Muslim countries”. Turkey is a great ccounter-example. I’m not claiming all Muslims want to kill apostates. I am claiming that the culture of Islam, the beliefs of Islam, have a causative relationship – they cause (some) people to want to kill apostates. I am also claiming that this is basically no longer a problem with Christianity or any other religion in the world today except Islam. Again, not all Muslims want to kill apostates, but (almost) all people who want to kill apostates are Muslim, and it’s a quite high percentage of many, many countries – again like 3/4 of people of Egypt and Pakistan, for example.

    My friend found some perhaps more politically correct thing to target – theocracy. I would note again that not all Muslims are theocrats, but a higher percentage of Muslims are theocrats compared to Christians. I make no claim that this is a result of the contents of their holy books. I do claim this is a result of the beliefs that make up that aspect of the relevant cultures. Of course again there are some non-theocratic Muslim countries, like Turkey. Mostly Turkey. There are still some nominal Christian countries (and the Vatican), but I cannot think of any where converting away from the religion results in legal punishment.

    Is this acceptable? Does someone think I could phrase it better or that I’m committing bigotry or some other untoward behavior?

  156. Christian FCP says

    What’s MY problem Monocle? You have been spazzing out since I got on this thread. Discussion? What do you got?

  157. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @mas
    I’m sure they would be much more partial, probably even agreeing with you on that point. They were talking about another issue.

    @Christian FCP
    I ask again – would you rather live with vaccines, or live without vaccines? Would you rather live with modern sanitation, or without? Those alone like double your life expectancy. Would you rather live in a world where women are property, or where they are independent free human beings? Would you rather live in a world with slavery, or without?

    I know some people think that the human condition and quality of life has not improved, but I’m always wondering how the fuck they can think that.

  158. Sellaronda says

    Russell/Affleck response: yeah there are bad Muslims (but they are such a small minority that they would not fill a football stadium so we can ignore them completely). You clearly wrote 25% of Muslims polled are against democracy and you didn’t mentioned all the pro democracy Muslims that are somewhere in the world so I can safely slander you and call you a bigot and a racist and say that you are no better than someone who calls a person a “shifty Jew” and that you say all Muslims everywhere are bad. I have nothing else to reply to all the evidence of Muslim attitudes towards women, democracy, and homosexuals so I will ignore it. Now let’s get back to positive atheism and start attacking Christianity before someone cuts my head off.

  159. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner #159:

    Then stop getting vaccinations, surgery, stop using your computer, stop taking vitamins, if a crime is committed don’t bother getting a police report because that will involve forensic evidence, don’t bother drinking your clean water, don’t use electricity, don’t eat your cultivated food, don’t keep pets, don’t drive a car, don’t use your phone, etc, etc
     
    Yes ALL of those things involved the usage of the scientific method at some point. Your life is made extraordinarily convenient by the scientific method and it keeps people alive.

    Minor caveat.
     
    Article: ScienceBasedMedicine – More evidence that routine multivitamin use should be avoided

    Not all vitamin and mineral supplementation is useless. They can be used appropriately, when our decisions are informed by scientific evidence […] And there is no debate that we need dietary vitamins to live. The case for indiscriminate supplementation, however, has never been established. We’ve been led to believe, through very effective marketing, that taking vitamins is beneficial to our overall health – even if our health status is reasonably good. So if supplements truly provide real benefits, then we should be able to verify this claim by studying health effects in populations of people that consume vitamins for years at a time. Those studies have been done.

  160. toska says

    @Christian FCP

    Our species flourished for tens of thousands of years without science.

    You have a very different definition of flourished than most people do. Sure, we’ve been around for thousands of years, but our life expectancy was less than half of what it is now for the VAST majority of that time. Infant mortality rates sucked. Women much more often died in childbirth. These are all things that advancements in science have improved, and your dismissal of the importance of science is pretty thoughtless at best. I know I wouldn’t be around today if not for scientific advancements. Many of us never would have survived to write or read poetry. Unless you don’t think life is valuable, it’s ridiculous to argue that science isn’t valuable.
    *
    Yes, we can relate to people of the past. We can enjoy old poetry and art and philosophy, because people back then were still human beings like we are. But that doesn’t mean our quality of life and our understanding of the universe in literally every branch of science isn’t massively improved. It’s frankly quite disturbing whenever people like yourself will just dismiss science that way, especially when, earlier in the thread, you were quick to say that opposition to stem cell research doesn’t matter and basically that any other opposition to science is insignificant with your “You’ll have to do better than that” comment.

  161. Robert, not Bob says

    If only a quarter of (young) European Muslims support theocracy, much progress has been made.

  162. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    What’s MY problem Monocle? You have been spazzing out since I got on this thread. Discussion? What do you got?

    Your problem is AFAIK you haven’t yet even attempted to give a single argument for why the Christian god exists. (The first-cause argument, argument from design, argument from morality, etc., are all non-sequiturs, as explained above.) We’ve been asking for that many times now. We’re still waiting.

    Your problem also seems to be that you are willing to make-pretend or make-believe that some thing is true when you have no good reasons for that belief. In these parts, we frown on that, and generally ridicule people who do that. If you don’t have (and know) good reasons for a belief, then you drop that belief. To do otherwise means that we get to make fun of you for being foolish and harmful to society.

  163. robertwilson says

    @mas I don’t think the concerns over Halal and Kosher that Russell was talking about are about how the animals are sacrificed. I hope eventually all of that is banned and we can live in a world where religious exceptions aren’t made to allow animals to be mistreated.

    But Russell was referring to people who think having Halal and Kosher foods is a sign that other religions are being imposed on them, when it’s really just a free market meeting a demand. There’s nothing wrong with it from that perspective.

    Perhaps if people brought up the animal treatment issue in and of itself, rather than simply freaking out over “halal” when it coincides with the growth of the muslim community in their area, the issue would be dealt with separately. As it is it’s just a freak out that “others” are now in the community.

  164. mintho says

    @Sellaronda #179

    Bravo, instead of addressing any of the arguments, you go straight to ad hominem and straw manning…you’re the perfect example of what is wrong with modern liberals. Whatever happened to skeptical thinking? Whatever happened to looking at arguments on their own merits instead of who makes them? Quite frankly, it’s you who is the bigot because you use the same dishonest tactics that the lunatinc tea baggers use whom you decry. Only once you have anything substantive to say can there be an honest discussion.

  165. Frank G. Turner says

    @FCP # 168

    Many of these scientists who you imagine yourself in league with wouldn’t know what the hell you were talking about with regard to imagination mapping onto reality etc

    Bullshit they don’t, if they didn’t they could not do what I do for a living. Do you even know what I do for a living? I did medical research for years you little prick. I worked on improving our understanding of disease and I have even got some peer reviewed research under my belt. Have you ever worked in this field? I think not and you are still an arrogant prick if you think that you can make such judgments if you never worked in the field nor seem to have any education in the area. You are quick to judge regarding having an emotional experience when it comes to religion yet have never worked in the field of scientific research and can make you many claims about it. Some of those scientists you claim would not shit in my toilette are colleagues of mine you prick. You have no fucking idea. Get a science education and start working in the field before you start making judgments about it asshole.
    .
    I thought that we could make a little progress with you but apparently we can’t because you don’t want to learn or be open minded to anything that doesn’t agree with your point of view. You are wrong, very wrong, and it should hurt. Learning is like exercise, it hurts. Immersion therapy would not work with you because you’d just keep arguing why you were right and the culture you were trying to learn about is wrong. NO, it is right and you are wrong. You are no better than VenomfangX who benefits from the learning of others in science yet claim that it is full of shit.
    .
    I think I’m in league with the others here now, you are butthurt that scientists don;t have the attitude you thought that they did and don’t have the understanding that you thought that you did and now that it is being demonstrated to you that people don;t have the attitudes that you thought they did you are talking out of your ass because you don’t want to admit that you were wrong. You got an attitude about how people thought by reading their personal works and got this emotional high off of what they said and now that it is demonstrated that they might not feel the way you think they might have felt you have to argue out of your ass why you are right and anyone who opposes you might be wrong. You know what? I don’t know how some of my colleagues feel on an emotional level and frankly I don’t care. I work with them on a professional level and I know what the philosophy of the profession is and that is what I care about.
    .
    Show a little humility that you didn’t seem to learn from religion and acknowledge that you don’t know because you have not had the experience rather than talking out of your ass. Or is admitting that you were wrong too hard for you? I think it is, I think that because of your emotional investment you are the same of those creationists who are shown proof of evolution can’t admit that they were wrong because of the emotional investment they put into it. You put this huge emotional investment into thinking you knew what science is about before having actually studied it formally and you don;t want to admit that you have no idea because of that emotional investment. That investment is going bankrupt and until you can admit it you are no better than those creationist pricks.
    .
    Yes we experience love joy and hate and all of that but many of us learned to put our emotions aside when it came to understanding the physical human condition because we recognized where emotion contributed to those things and where it didn’t. And we don’t always care to “create affection” for science so much as we care about using science to prevent disease and keep people healthy which I still do. Hell I still teach which does a certain amount of “creating affection” for science. When you are poisoned by a snake or need a surgery you ask yourself whether do you want someone who “has affection” for science but does not know the first thing about how to help you condition or well educated doctors, technicians, nurses, etc that may not “have affection” for science aside from the passion to which they learned but knows how to cure your condition?
    .

    I can tell you one thing religion definition did not do for you that it actually did for me. It taught me a bit of morality and ethics when it comes to compassion and empathy for having hurt people and a LOT for humility when it comes to arrogance at thinking I know more than them when I have not had the same experience. Yes I could have learned that from secular communities as well and some even have more of that than religious ones but at least that is one virtue of religious experience that you don’t even have there. You make a bad name for claiming that Xtianity is compassionate and caring and humble and kind given that you are none of those things. You expect an apology from Monocle for having offended you and acting like a prick but when you do it all you do is a little “I’m sorry” then proceed to talk out of your ass and act all judgmental about something you have no idea about. Fuck you you hypocritical, closed minded, in-compassionate asshole. You don’t deserve to be treated with respect given how disrespectful you are of others and how unwilling you are to feel guilt and having done wrong to them.
    .
    FYI some of those scientists listen to the show and were probably sitting in the audience of that studio listening to your shit. Why don;t you ask some of them to read this string and comment on it?
    “I’m sorry but that is how I feel”? What an insincere apology. Well I am sorry but YOU FEEL WRONG ASSHOLE!

  166. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Sky Captain # 180
    Fair enough but the point was that this jackass won’t appreciate how the scientific method is part of his everyday life just because it does not give him the high that religion does. Yes sometimes science is wrong, it is supposed to be, it is a self correcting process that makes mistakes along the way. That is part of being human, making mistakes.
    .
    I am thinking this guy is more of a religion junkie who is addicted to his religion the way an addict is addicted to a drug despite the harm that it is doing them. I thought that it might have some benefit in teaching some sense of morality but clearly it doesn’t. It just makes him feel superior to the people around him and let’s him condescend to others which makes him feel good. I mean we are all guilty of that sometimes but this guy took it to a whole new level of closed mindedness and failure to appreciate what he has.

  167. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner #187:

    Fair enough but the point was that this jackass won’t appreciate how the scientific method is part of his everyday life just because it does not give him the high that religion does.

    Abundantly clear. I even kept the extended quote for context. 😉
    I was writing an aside for your benefit, since you’re amenable to such efforts.
    FCP? Not at all.

  168. unfogged says

    @157 FCP

    I understand the scientific method, Frank. I just don’t think it is of much use most of the time.

    Then either you do not understand the scientific method or you simply value ignorance over knowledge, or both.

  169. Monocle Smile says

    @mintho
    Sellaronda was giving a simulated exaggerated response, that’s not how s/he truly feels. Your snark detector is broken.

  170. Christian FCP says

    EnlightenmentLiberal, I prefer having the vaccines etc. Toska, When I say we flourished,I mean as a species. We were doing quite well even before science. Frank, maybe I went too far. Perhaps Max Planck would shit in your toilette, if he had to go really bad. Unfogged, in regards to the scientific method, I meant on a day to day basis.

  171. unfogged says

    @192 FCP

    in regards to the scientific method, I meant on a day to day basis.

    And you think that changes the response? If anything, valuing ignorance over knowledge on a day to day basis makes it all the more pitiful.

  172. Christian FCP says

    Come on unfogged, you know that’s not what I mean. Do you really want everybody to be shuffling around like professor Frink all the time, performing double blind studies on their relationships and such?

  173. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    You have reverted to vanilla-flavored trolling at this point. You have one fucked-up notion of what science actually is.

    No, you wouldn’t perform a double-blind study on relationships. But it would behoove everyone to look critically at their relationships and base their conclusions on actual observations rather than knee-jerk nonsense.

  174. Monocle Smile says

    Life isn’t a Nicholas Sparks novel, and given your total lack of self-awareness, that pithy response is unsurprising.

  175. unfogged says

    Come on unfogged, you know that’s not what I mean.

    Frankly, at this point, I have no clue what you mean. As far as I can tell, you don’t now what you mean either since you haven’t been able to present a cogent, consistent position on anything.

  176. Christian FCP says

    My position is… I am a christian. But I was some sort of theist first. I think that the religious life (not just christian) is quite an experience and people should consider it seriously before passing it up. For the first part of my life I was quite taken with science and always resentful of people who weren’t. I believe that science has hit a brick wall with consciousness. I think that atheists tend to be really good people who are a bit naive. That may sound ironic, but I mean it. I find that atheists are down to business, if everyone were like them we would solve a lot of problems fast. That will never happen because they are actually a reaction to a whole other set of problems, like the third or fourth child who wishes everybody would just stop acting crazy. Those are my CONSISTENT positions.

  177. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    Nothing about that is consistent. It’s a combination of psychobabble and Lee Strobel-esque “I used to be an atheist” garbage. It’s not real. It’s a cartoonish, shallow narrative created by believers to pat themselves on the back.

    I find that atheists are down to business

    The source of my contempt is this kind of immature attitude. It’s the fact that you carelessly shrug off needless loss of life like it’s nothing. You don’t take ANYTHING seriously. We’re trying to have an adult discussion, and you’re behaving like a fucking toddler.

  178. Christian FCP says

    Wasn’t claiming that the various positions were consistent with each other, just that I consistently hold them. Needless loss of life????

  179. unfogged says

    I think that the religious life (not just christian) is quite an experience and people should consider it seriously before passing it up.

    There are thousands of things that can be “quite an experience” and which I am also not interested in. I don’t seriously consider becoming a drug addict or a drunk just because some who are take pleasure in it. You are also discounting the fact that a large percentage of atheists have had that experience and have walked away from it because demonstrable truth mattered more to them than comforting myths.

    “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” – George Bernard Shaw

  180. says

    #203 Unfogged

    I don’t know that we even have to bad things, to argue that point down.

    Skydiving can be quite an experience… or riding on a horse… or visiting Alaska. There’s way too much for “experiences” that a person possibly partake. I only have so much time/money/energy. If something is going to rise to the top of my Bucket List, it should be at least distinguishable from pure delusion.

    It becomes the “Grant proposal” problem – you have to have something of an argument, to make a compelling case that your proposal for my resource utilization is worth while… something more than “you don’t know what you’re missing!”

    I do plan on getting an Oculus Rift. That’s on my bucket list.

  181. Christian FCP says

    Unfogged. Why does every single post have to have something surly or unfriendly? I make one disparaging remark about the scientific method and Frank turns it into a but-hurt insult-fest. No big deal, but look how many unfriendly posts I went thru before saying anything remotely aggressive. So maybe it was a response to my phone call, calling Russell gutless. First of all, that is just trash talk. Dillahunty does it all the time. And even if it was bad form or whatever, STILL not every single friggin post has to have some personal jab. Now here comes Monocle: “Give it a rest, we know what game you are playing, you babbling inconsistent moron, stop wasting our time and take another bong hit” and so forth and so on.

  182. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    Cry me a river. I’ll take a piss in it.

    Stop being stupid and dishonest and we’ll stop ridiculing you. It’s very, very simple.

  183. unfogged says

    Wasn’t claiming that the various positions were consistent with each other, just that I consistently hold them.

    I can’t facepalm hard enough.

    Unfogged. Why does every single post have to have something surly or unfriendly?

    If you think I’ve been surly or unfriendly you are reading into my disagreeing with your claims. I don’t answer for Frank, Monocle, or anybody else so you’d really have to ask them. I’d guess it is because you appear to be inconsistent in your views and unable to provide any good reason for them.

    I don’t know that we even have to [experience] bad things, to argue that point down.

    But, you see, I’ve looked at religious belief and, overall, I consider it to be a VERY bad thing. It discourages thought in favor of blind obedience and that may be the one “sin” I recognize because it hurts everyone and everything.

  184. says

    207. unfogged

    I definitely agree (having blown 22 years of my life on it)… I just mean that his point of argumentation doesn’t pass the flimsiest of tests. This is probably not shocking to you.

  185. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP
    Because you are being dishonest. I don’t know if you are familiar with Ray Comfort, we talk about him quite a bit here. He is dishonest from the standpoint that he does not really understand evolution despite having it explained to him dozens of times. Its like he shuts his brain down when people talk to him and asks willfully ignorant.
    .
    Regarding science has hit a brick wall regarding conciousness, have you ever read anything about modern nueroscience? You are acting like you are many years behind. Not every aspect of conciousness has been worked out but a LOT of stuff has been tested, and not all by the names of nueroscientists and neurobiologists that you recognize. Not everyone who studies empricial evidence is going to be a friendly emotionally pleasing face that you can relate to, but that does not give their ideas any less merit.
    .
    I studied quite a lot of molecular chemistry and read a lot of stuff by James Watson (the double helix guy). I met him in person at a seminar years ago and I did not find him to be a particularly pleasing indivudal. Nonetheless I thought his ideas were wonderful and I studied them with passion. He is not his ideas. And something that you may not be aware of but there are thousands of individuals working in science making discoveries bit by bit, building ideas upon ideas. You may never hear the names of LOTS of them or know their philosophical background or beliefs. You may never hear of Sue Macgregor or Ian Wilmut or Bill Ritchie or Keith Campbell or Bill and Majorie Ritchie are or Francis Crick (since I mentioned James Watson, FYI since you are discussing physiological conciousness, you should be familiar with Francis Crick).
    .
    You probably have never known about Alfred Russell Wallace and his scientific research (just to give you an idea, tons of Wallace’s papers are referenced in “On the Origin of Species” as well as other of Charles Darwin’s scientific papers). You probably have no idea that Watson and Crick built their work upon Rosalind Franklin or who Francis Collins or Kenneth Miller are (you might know the last one). For every scientist whose name becomes recognizable, there are at least a dozen others, sometimes hundreds who have been conducting experiements using the scientific method day after day for years on end teaching others who may not be the public face but who are still doing supporting work, the framework of those ideas. (FYI, I am one of those hundreds of individuals). Unless you studied forensic DNA analysis you probably have no idea who John Butler is or why he is important. I have listened to many talks of Butler, he is is a very nice man, but even if he wasn’t I would still think the ideas brilliant even if I did not agree with his personal philiosophy, his professional philosophy suits me just fine when it comes to knowledge. They are not their ideas, the ideas stand on their own merit.
    .
    What does not seem to be getting through to you is this, your emotions are not proof, no one’s feelings or emotions are. They can lead to proof, but that does not give the emotions more merit. Emotions are a tool to finding evidence and they sometimes fail. A fingerprinting device is not the proof of a fingerptint, only what leads to the fingerprint. You can feel something an insanely strong amount and that does not mean that it is proof or that it has any authority over observable, demonstrable, falsifiable, predictable, empirical fact.

  186. unfogged says

    What’s the facepalm for?

    You consistently hold inconsistent positions and don’t know why that’s facepalm worthy?

  187. unfogged says

    @208 Jasper

    Ahh… I actually misread your earlier reply as coming from Christian FCP. What you said is similar to what I had said earlier — there are too many other things that I can get “experiences” from without diving into the absurd so that isn’t a good reason to try religion.

  188. Christian FCP says

    Yes, I know who Alfred Russell Wallace was. I can’t stand Ray Comfort (The New Zealand Guy?). I also know about Rosalind Franklin and Linus Pauling for that matter. Also the fact that those folks were influenced by Schrodinger’s What is Life?

  189. Christian FCP says

    I have personally converted at least one person on the issue of evolution. (By talking to them about australia and other islands and how the diversity there seems to be obviously related to their isolation) An older conservative fundamentalist no less.

  190. Christian FCP says

    Unfogged “I’d guess it is because you appear to be inconsistent in your views and unable to provide any good reason for them.” Well, doesn’t that encompass all christians for you guys? So by that reasoning, they would always interact in an insulting way if they are talking to christians.

  191. Monocle Smile says

    @FCP
    You couldn’t be more wrong. Most Christians I encounter aren’t dishonest or childish when discussing their beliefs. Don’t project your obnoxious and whiny behavior onto your fellow believers, and don’t you fucking dare act as if you’re being ridiculed purely because you’re a Christian.

  192. Christian FCP says

    Hey, Frank. You want to help out here? I’m calling out Monocle for being disingenuous. He is completely hostile and pretends to be reasonable. Lets make this simple. What am I being dishonest about? And don’t say everything, that is a non-starter. You are leaving no possible trajectory for me to comply with your request. HOW AM I BEING DISHONEST???

  193. Frank G, Turner says

    @FCP # 213
    Good, then you would hopefully understand why despite agreeing with you on a personal level, Schrondinger might sound a bit different if he were answering scientifically vs. a quote of yours from his personal beliefs (what I proposed on how he might answer professionally is only a hypothetical but it is in line with how science works).
    .
    Scientific analysis is based upon this idea of falsifiability. You make statements about that which you observe, form a hypothesis (an opinion or a guess basically), and experiment. Sometimes you even state that which you would observe that would support a hypothesis and what would support a hypothesis being rejected. You may never observe anything that leads to your hypothesis being rejected, but that does not mean that you couldn’t hypothetically do so (hence why it is falsifiable). If you observe enough that supports your hypothesis, you state that the hypothesis is supported by the observations. You do NOT ever ignore information that would lead to a rejection of the hypothesis no matter how uncomfortable you are with it or how much your emotions say that you should. Observed evidence takes priority over feeling if you are being intellectually honest in a scientific matter.
    .
    A hypothesis may be accepted and may eventually become a theory, becoming a law If it has mathematical principles that dictate its predictability (it should be predictable under certain conditions regardless of math if one is to announce the hypothesis as supported). Even then it is only tentatively accepted as “knowledge” (where the word “science” comes from) as any and all information that comes along that may lead to a rejection of the hypothesis must be taken into account. Evolution may be disproven someday, I don’t think it is very likely though.
    .
    When you say that consciousness has not been proven (there is evidence that suggests that this is not the case and being intellectually honest means NOT ignoring it), that does not mean that you default to god because that is what makes sense to you. When a hypothesis is neither accepted or rejected, the intellectually honest answer is “I don’t know.” That does not mean that you may not be able to find out, or that one will stop trying. Answering with “Well it seems like it would take a God because that makes sense to me” is intellectually dishonest. It is answering a mystery with a mystery and is an argument from ignorance.
    .
    I respected you as you acknowledged that you had no factual proof for god. Then you went on to special pleading for the idea of god being beyond proof or beyond science. That is not a reason, that is emotional pleading.
    .
    If you had said that your reason for believing in a god is what helped you to get by because you needed it in order to feel safe and that you need it in your day to day life, that is not intellectually dishonest. It isn’t really an intellectually honest reason to believe, but it is not dishonest either. You might say that in the absence of proof for consciousness that it makes sense to you and you default in the absence of proof to a belief in god, what is known as agnostic theism.

  194. Frank G, Turner says

    @ FCP # 217

    I have personally converted at least one person on the issue of evolution. (By talking to them about australia and other islands and how the diversity there seems to be obviously related to their isolation) An older conservative fundamentalist no less.

    As a believer and as a teacher I talked people into acknowledging the facts of evolution too. That can be done. One thing that I NEVER did as a believer was claim that I had any sort of proof or evidence for god. I knew that strong feelings were not evidence and I never claimed that emotional experience took authority over empirical proof as I knew that the mind can play tricks upon a person. And my lack of understanding of an issue and claiming that god made sense as a reason was never treated as any sort of proof.
    .
    I had no problem saying that I didn’t know if there was a god. I still have no problem saying that I don’t know because I don’t. I have no proof for or against. And I was never afraid to explore reasons why one might be or not be and if evidence came along that stood against my position I acknowledge it, even if I disagree with it. All that really changed was my default position in the absence of proof. Whereas I once said that I didn’t know and in the absence of proof I said that I declare god “guilty” of existing, I tend to now favor “not guilty” (though I may not lean all that strongly towards a 7 on the Dawkins scale if you are familiar with that, I don’t even project to a 5 so I tend to label myself “agnostic” as compared to “agnostic atheist,” but given that most of my life I was a 3, an “agnostic theist,” that made sense).

  195. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Science is not just things done in labs with double blind experiments. Science includes all rational reasoning with evidence. We do informal science every moment of every day. Compare and contrast that with faith, where you make-believe. When you go to a threatre, do you look up beforehand to see when the movie showing times are, or do you just have faith that the movie will show when you want it to show? That’s what we’re talking about.

    Still waiting for you to make an attempt to argue that the Christian god exists. Talking about consciousness is still a non-sequitir.

  196. says

    @Christian FCP Do you or do you not assert that the kind of numinous (my word) experience you sometimes receive through religious or spiritual belief is qualitatively better/more profound/unique than the kinds of things I listed? If you do — and from the content and tenor of your two long conversations on the show, I find it somewhat disingenuous, at least, for you to claim otherwise — then isn’t it logical to assume that you believe others who haven’t had your numinous experiences would understand if only they’d give god a chance?

    And yes, I understand that part of your argument is the “sacred” and ritual experience. Fine. People get that from many other places than religion.

  197. mintho says

    An addendum to the Islamophobia thingy:

    This happened last night: The small German town of Celle houses the largest Yazidi community outside of Iraq and last night an armed mob of salafist ISIS sympathizes (mostly chechnyans) were hunting them down. This is a video made by one of them before things got ugly:
    http://youtu.be/YBlTKrcnnAQ

    Luckily nobody was killed but many Yezidis were injured and hospitalized.

    At the same time, salafisten in Hamburg were hunting down Kurds. The police expects more of the same for tonight. That’s just what happened in Germany…in Turkey many Kurds were killed for instance.

    Of course these people don’t represent Islam any more than Ted Haggard represents Christianity, but they are an obvious symptom of Islam. I therefore highly recommend the following article:
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5930764

    It sheds a light on the underlying problems and shows how short the path from moderate Muslim to extremist really is.

  198. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Monocle # 216 (Also you might want to listen to this FCP)

    Most Christians I encounter aren’t dishonest or childish when discussing their beliefs.

    I woudl disagree here, many believers that I have met do acknowledge some sort of dishonesty in their beliefs, whether they are aware of it or not. One particularly (who basically believes in ALL gods, Xtian and otherwise) says that it is ok to believe in mutually exclusive gods because gods are beyond mutual exclusion (…huh?). So she acknowledges consistently believing in inconsistent beliefs, which is dishonest to some extent. Though she also acknowledges the possibility of there being no gods and that her reasons for belief may have to do with personal ability to function, so she is opened to evidence that no gods exist if that comes along. So in a way she is honest.
    .
    Thats one of the key things FCP, not setting up an unfalsifiable argument which basically tells you nothing. In order for something to be considered true, there has to be a potential for it to be false, even if it never is false (meaning that the potential for falseness becomes statistically close to zero after a while, but never actually is zero). Thats the idea of always being opened to information that may demonstrate the hypothesis is wrong. If you position is that the hypthesis can never be proven wrong no matter what information comes along, that is dishonest. And that must apply to everything. If something is considered sacred or beyond question or doubt, then it is unfalsifiable, including this very sentence.

  199. Christian FCP says

    Clay. No. I am not saying it is more profound, better, or more unique. I’m just speaking up for it as valuable. Apparently quotes are a no no on here, but… I went to the bookstore after my last post and was scanning an E. O. Wilson book where he describes religion as “extremely” valuable. Anyway, it gives you an insight into a significant amount of human activity. From the INSIDE.Some of those experiences I’m sure are quite profound, especially where you are coming so close to death, Or the elements, like the climber in the Chris Johnson video.

  200. JJL says

    Holy crap! 15 minutes dedicated to defending Islam and Muslims? A common refrain when attacking some of the crazy things that Christians have said and done is “even if that person IS crazy, his preferred book of mythology actually tells him to do or say that or rewards him for it”. I rarely hear the religion of those crazy people defended with such tripe as “in every religion there are liberals and extremists” followed by anecdotes of liberal Muslims. What do you imagine when you think of the most “liberal” Christians compared with the most “liberal” Muslims? Do you imagine someone who goes to the Mosque only one day a year for some high holiday and makes some pitiful gesture of scriptural compliance by not eating pork for a few handfuls of consecutive Fridays? When James Kopp killed Dr. Barnett Slepian on October 23, 1998, do you imagine whole Christian communities in other parts of the world celebrating in the streets like we observed of Muslim communities after the towers fell? If someone mentions entire countries where women are required by religious mandates in law to cover their heads and where a woman who is raped may be punished for her own rape, do you think first of all the modern Christian-centric countries where that might be the case? If a newspaper self-censors a cartoon image of a religious figure, do you think it must be a cartoon of Yahweh?

  201. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Christian FCP
    Still waiting for you to make an attempt to argue that the Christian god exists. Specifically the Christian god. First causes, design, consciousness, morality, etc., are non-sequitur.

  202. Matt Gerrans says

    Religion may be “valuable” or even “extremely valuable” in the opinion of some people, but that evaluation cannot be seen in a vacuum. It undeniably extremely valuable to believe things that are true and not believe things that are false. Is the “value” of indulging in a particular mass delusion greater than the value of not believing things that aren’t true? I think not.

    On the whole, it is better to have beliefs that are true, rather than believing incoherent mystical superstitions concocted by ignorant bronze age and pre-bronze age charlatans. Likewise it better than similar nonsense fabricated by 7th, 19th and 20th century con men, as with Islam, LDS and Scientology.

  203. robertwilson says

    @FCP #224

    This whole thread it has been impossible to in down any understanding of how you actually think or function – your posts are so disconnected it’s difficult to get a clear picture.

    Here you finally go back to the value of religion, but have yet to address whether or not the tenets of the religion are true and whether or not you can get that value from other things. The most you have done is assert you think religion is different or unique and you personally believe people can’t get this from anything else.

    We all disagree with you and you’ve done nothing to convince anyone otherwise. Experiencing things does not make the conclusion people draw from those experiences true. (Except of course in a new-agey redefinition of truth which we can discard simply because it’s important to be precise with terms here – we could offer this “subjective truth” a different label). The experiences themselves are real but are demonstrably not supernatural.

    I guess at this point you resort to consciousness as an example of something not explained by us or by science, but the most that does (even assuming it were 100% unexplained) is lead to a “so what?” question because your model does not account for it either.

    Then again, the more I try to put these thoughts down the more I realize I’m missing that piece: “your model”. You have yet to provide that.

  204. Frank G. Turner says

    @ robertwilson # 228
    Actually to some degree consciousness is defined by science, maybe not precisely but there have certainly been experiments on how brain waves change when an individual goes from conscious to unconscious and vice versa. Even were that not the case (which it would be dishonest to deny the data against it) to argue that such complexity can only be explained with a previous consciousness is not only a non-sequitor but also an argument from ignorance.
    .
    What we seem to have here is a believer who understands some of material reality in that he was amenable to evolution despite the long maintained belief that life was the result of some mysterious commanding authority figure that could not be explained. Of course once life was explained that required a moving of the goal posts, to set the figure outside of that and it seemed that one had to place that individual at the mythical beginning of the universe and once that was explained (at least to some degree) the being had to be placed right before that beginning or outside of the universe entirely. T continue believing is ok, but getting down to the nitty gritty, being opened to the possibility that the being is not even there (even if one comes to the tentative conclusion that it is) is the path.
    .
    It is somewhat difficult as many have been taught that even being opened to this possibility is to agree with it (which is incorrect) when being opened to this possibility (even if it were to turn out to be wrong) is the core of intellectual honesty. Then again, there was no commandment that said, “thou shalt not be dishonest” when there very well should have been. Oddly enough, even as a believer I learned to be opened to this and I simply changed my default position over time. I guess the difference being that I was amenable and may have changed my views earlier had I known about all of you.

  205. robertwilson says

    As I said, “even if it were” 100% unexplained… but it’s not. If I gave the impression I think it’s anywhere close to that then I failed to make my point as well as I should have. It was an effort to say FCP would still be left with no explanation, as opposed to confirmation of his ideas.

  206. Frank G. Turner says

    As I said, “even if it were” 100% unexplained… but it’s not. If I gave the impression I think it’s anywhere close to that then I failed to make my point as well as I should have. It was an effort to say FCP would still be left with no explanation, as opposed to confirmation of his ideas

    .
    No you did not give the impression that you thought consciousness was 100% unexplained. FCP has given the impression that he things consciousness is if not 100% unexplained, at least more than 90% unexplained. My impression of modern studies is that it is explained much more than that.
    .
    What I was getting at was that he seems to think (or at least gives this impression) that if something is 100%, or near 100% unexplained, that the only option to explain it is a superpower, i.e.: god. Obviously this is not the only explanation and even if it were the only reasonable explanation, one would have to have evidence for a god which he obviously has left undefined. One could simply say that consciousness despite being hypothetically 100% unexplained that there are other ways to potentially explain it that simply have not been discovered yet. This is honest by the difficulty being that despite this being honest, it makes many an individual feel very uncomfortable as it is an admission of not knowing and not filling in the gap to feel comfortable either. Basically it is the whole “god of the gaps” argument which FCP may never have heard of before, hence why I suggested total immersion. (As a believer, albeit one with many doubts, I had not heard of it referred to that way but I HAD seen people do it and was skeptical when I did, now I have a name for it).
    .
    It is not uncommon to find that a person cannot bring themselves to say “I don’t know” as if saying this is an admission of being wrong or that leaving the explanation blank or empty is a cardinal sin. I can understand that in that we are curious people (hence the appeal to nature) that want things explained, but explaining a mystery with another mystery isn’t really explaining it, it is deluding oneself into thinking that one has an explanation. “I don’t know” is not lazy or a cardinal sin (despite what steele seems to think), it is just being honest.
    .
    I was trying to explain that in order to test a new hypothesis and make a new discovery one must entertain the idea that the hypothesis could be false (falsifiability) in order to justify testing it. Darwin had to entertain the idea that the Bible’s description for how life developed was incorrect and hypothesize another explanation and search for evidence of that other explanation (even if he did not know what that explanation was). If we are going with abiogenesis, someone had to hypothesize that a sentient being did not deliberately make it so and look for alternate explanations (which is what we are doing).
    .
    If others like FCP were to stop at the explanation of “god did it” and that this is sacred and beyond question, then no one would have made an effort to study other explanations. That is what I am trying to get through to him. Even if you say that god did it, it can’t be treated as sacred and beyond question or doubt. One might have to at least examine HOW god did it and that means that you are going to have to have doubts that are testable. So what Darwin did does not just apply to the discovery of life, i.e.: hypothesizing that “god did it” (i.e.: life) is not a good enough explanation and that it could be wrong and seeking out OTHER explanations. It is just a matter of applying that to other things, like say….consciousness?
    .
    What I think FCP is missing is that he felt that because consciousness was not explained that this was a good explanation for god and he feels this very strongly and that this emotional feeling, this drive should overrule any observation. This is much in the same way creationists like Ken Ham think that scripture should override any observable discovery that demonstrates Biblical creation is not as written. Ken Ham wears the “god glasses” when it comes to the development of life and I feel like FCP is wearing the “god glasses” when it comes to the development of consciousness. Of course these “god glasses” have blinders that hide the fact that others don’t feel that way nor does it make sense to FCP that we don’t. That might be tough for FCP to deal with as he probably thought that a majority of people agreed with that feeling given how powerfully he feels it and now he is having to deal with the reality that others don’t feel that way as we are not wearing the “god glasses” when it comes to that issue. As a result, we seem to have heard some explanations for consciousness that he is unaware of as we were not wearing those blinders.

  207. Frank G. Turner says

    P.S.: Steele went around claiming that “I don’t know” basically meant that “we will never know and it is foolish to try to find out,” which it isn’t but that does not jive with his model so he ignores it. He is unwilling to change his model of what that means despite having it explained to him dozens of times and I point out that this is analogous to a U.S. Citizen going to France and getting angry and shouting at the French, “Speak American!”
    .
    FCP is in here claiming that when one does not have an explanation for something like consciousness that this is evidence for god (which it isn’t, but he does not seem to have heard of the argument from ignorance). We are explaining to him that god isn’t an explanation (particularly given that there are some explanations for consciousness but as I said, FCP has blinders on and probably does not realize this). It doesn’t jive with his ideas and he may be teetering on going around screaming that this is an explanation (again, “Speak Amuricun!”), but I wonder if he will be able to alter his model a bit or if it has to touch him emotionally first. I have often talked about this that emotional sometimes takes priority in some people’s minds over rational thinking (hence why they ALSO claim that emotional experience takes priority over empirical observation).. I would remind him that refusing to acknowledge what others have explained to him and insisting that his model is correct is exactly what Ray Comfort does when it comes to evolution (and is basically metaphorically speaking going around to different scientists and saying “speak Biblical!”).

  208. Christian FCP says

    On the issue of consciousness, the hard problem or how physical processes give rise to subjective experience, is 100% unexplained. It has remained intractable to analysis. I realize that it is a little embarrassing to find folks from the leading edge of your fold, like Steven Pinker, endorsing the work of David Chalmers and such but you really ought to just chill out and enjoy the mystery. I understand the fallacy of argument from ignorance. Consciousness lacking an explanation does not imply god. Got it.(though pansychism sounds like god by another name). Even Dawkins kinda threw you guys under the bus when he was asked what was the one question he would liked answered and replied “why is there an I?”. I have already said that there is no proof for god, AND that I am not making an argument for god. OK? But I think you guys should be a little more honest with yourselves. To paraphrase Einstein, you folks are still so pissed off about the chains that you have thrown off that you can’t hear the music of the spheres. Listen up! I’m sure that you have encountered some meanies over the years, but that is no reason to cut yourself off from the entire field of the transcendent. I think Einstein said it best “Even a personal God is preferable to a philosophy that lacks a transcendental outlook” (not an argument from authority, I realize that the big man saying it doesn’t make it true, but he was pretty sharp). Otherwise you guys will have to keep eating humble pie from folks like George Lemaitre. Not to pretty when a catholic priest has to bitch-slap the entire scientific establishment on the issue of origins! I think that you guys are disingenuous with regards to your motives, that is the key to understanding this thread.

  209. Monocle Smile says

    Okay, time to rip someone a new asshole.

    I realize that it is a little embarrassing to find folks from the leading edge of your fold, like Steven Pinker, endorsing the work of David Chalmers and such

    I don’t even know who the fuck Steven Pinker is or why I should care. We don’t have a top-down authoritarian system like you. We don’t fucking care what “other atheists” do or say; it doesn’t influence our opinions.

    I have already said that there is no proof for god, AND that I am not making an argument for god. OK?

    Then you should have fucked off a while ago, because we were VERY clear that this is all we care about. Also, this means you blatantly lied earlier.

    you folks are still so pissed off about the chains that you have thrown off that you can’t hear the music of the spheres

    whatstheharm.net
    ^Until this site no longer needs to exist, FUCK. OFF. This is typical “oh, you atheists are so angry” troll behavior. We’ve given you more than sufficient reasons to oppose religion and the harm it does, and you’ve dismissed it all on a whim. You seem to care more about your own bullshit ‘experience’ than human life, which makes you a fucking sociopath.

    Not to pretty when a catholic priest has to bitch-slap the entire scientific establishment on the issue of origins!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA you stupid asshole. This isn’t even worth responding to. Friedmann came up with the original equations, and it wasn’t until Hubble that inflation was demonstrated.

    I think that you guys are disingenuous with regards to your motives, that is the key to understanding this thread

    Either you’re a troll or you were beaten with hammers as a child. There’s no other explanation for this piece of shit. You posted that without an ounce of irony.

  210. Christian FCP says

    Sorry Monocle… But I had to. From Wiki: He was the first known academic to propose the theory of the expansion of the universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble.[2][3] He was also the first to derive what is now known as Hubble’s law and made the first estimation of what is now called the Hubble constant, which he published in 1927, two years before Hubble’s article.[4][5][6][7] Lemaître also proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his “hypothesis of the primeval atom” “Lemaître was a pioneer in applying Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity to cosmology. In a 1927 article, which preceded Edwin Hubble’s landmark article by two years, Lemaître derived what became known as Hubble’s law and proposed it as a generic phenomenon in relativistic cosmology.” (I’m not doing this to hurt you Monocle, but to help you. Let me guess – Wikipedia is part of the grand conspiracy to repress atheists?)

  211. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah. Lemaitre proposed an inflationary model. Actually, he just formalized what Friedmann had already started.

    Hubble demonstrated inflation with actual observations from his observatory.

    Of course, in your fucked-up head, “assertion” and “demonstration” are equivalent, so it’s no surprise that you fail to distinguish the two.

  212. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP @ 233
    Let me go through this a piece at a time in my next post, this will serve as a prologue. (I know this gets long but there is a lot to address). I will be more polite that Monocle here as you FCP are demonstrating more honesty in your thoughts but you still have a lot of pre-conceived notions that need to be addressed and if you really are interested in learning about the modern atheist movement you will have to drop some of these unsupported notions. I understand why you might feel these ways given the information that you have been fed and your strong emotional indications but you are not going to understand if you are unwilling to drop some of these thoughts. (I have not called you a bigot per say but the implication of some of what you are saying sounds bigoted, I can forgive that though as you have probably never had anyone point out to you why these assumptions are unfounded).
    .
    By the way as you drop some of these presumptions (that will take time and I am more patient that Monocle here) ) you may want to go back and re-read some of the writings of the scientists that you have read as it may help you to realize a bit more about what they were saying and put a whole new light into your thinking. You might even like it as you come to understand more about how they came to feel the way that they felt and came up with the ideas that they did.

  213. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 233

    On the issue of consciousness, the hard problem or how physical processes give rise to subjective experience, is 100% unexplained. It has remained intractable to analysis.

    Not completely, there have been psychiatric experiments involving brainwaves that have been conducted in the 1970s up to today that have information on them. I certainly would not call that majority explained but part of the scientific process is curiosity and attempting to find answers. Just because something is currently unexplained does not mean that it will be forever.
    .

    realize that it is a little embarrassing to find folks from the leading edge of your fold, like Steven Pinker, endorsing the work of David Chalmers and such but you really ought to just chill out and enjoy the mystery.

    No, people endorse the work of each other all the time if they think the ideas make sense. Words and works stand on their own merit not who made them. Kenneth Miller is a practicing Roman Catholic who does some great work in evolutionary biology who has been quoted on TAE many times as has Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project who is a believer and a Baptist if I am not mistaken. Just because you endorse a person’s work professionally does not mean that you agree with their personal views. I have studied quite a bit of Schrondinger’s work as I am a chemist but that does not mean I share his personal views and note that I took your quote of his (which I have read before) and put it in a scientific context.
    .
    As what do you mean “your ilk”? Who do you think atheists and agnostics are? Atheism is a view about one and only one topic, the existence of a god. That’s it. There are Republican atheists, atheists who don’t agree with evolution, atheists who believe in an afterlife, etc. In general many atheists tend to be scientifically minded (you would notice that an abnormally large percent of scientists with Master’s Degrees and Higher are atheists but not everyone as I just mentioned Miller and Collins above). In general most atheists are liberal politically.
    .
    You may notice a lot of atheists pushing for separation of church and state, pro gay marriage (there are those against it), and pro teaching of good science like evolution. There are other commonalities but we are all individuals. I would think that most you find would push for endorsing the work of an individual professionally and may listen to what they have to say, but that does not mean that individuals agree with EVERYTHING that an individual says. If you asked Steven Pinker to do an idea by idea analysis of Chalmers he could probably tell you exactly which points he agrees with and exactly what he doesn’t. You might be surprised to find out what Pinker does and does not agree with.
    .
    And Monocle does have a point, atheism is not a top down patriarchy where you agree with everything that a particular individual says or that one individual speak for the group. (You imply that you think this is, which makes me suspect that you are Catholic). Dawkins has said a lot that I agree with and sometimes says things that I disagree with. The same with Hawkins. Heck even though I think Ray Comfort is a half witted dolt he does say SOMETHING intelligent that I agree with from time to time (not a whole lot I can tell you and he is hard to listen to).
    .
    That is tough for people who come from a top down heirarchy to understand and why atheists movements were unusual, as Dawkins has said trying to get atheists together is “something like herding cats”. The creationist movement probably had a LOT to do with that happening (hence why so many atheists are pro-evolution and against teaching bad science like creationism, there is a correlation in the formation of the movements which likely had many causal factors).
    .
    You (FCP) are thinking like a politician and not a scientist. In science and ANY area of good academic knowledge, the authority of the person means squat. Words stand on their own merit regardless of who said them. Yes I am prone to listen to Dawkins and read him more as he is an intelligent man and says a lot that I think is meaningful, but I take what he says on a case by case basis and take him “with a grain of salt” if you are familiar with that expression.
    .

    Even Dawkins kinda threw you guys under the bus when he was asked what was the one question he would liked answered and replied “why is there an I?”.

    He didn’t “throw anyone under the bus,” he was expressing an opinion. He does do that. Let me put that question into a better context based on other works of Dawkins that I have also read. (This will seem like paraphrasing of some of Dawkins work, you might find better quotes form him directly, I suspect Sky Captain has some of this saved). IN science when one answers a question, 3 more new questions are developed from it. Evolution did a god job of explaining the diversity of life (instead of it just being attributed to god) but did not answer about the origin of life, only how it diversifies once it is in operation. Abiogenesis is still under examination but has answered some questions about the possibility of how life can arise from non life. Even if that is answered, will that explain the origin of the planet from which that life came? If the origin of the planet is explained will that explain the origin of the matter of the universe? It is a never ending cycle of questions and mysteries.
    .
    That’s why it sounds strange to hear someone like you say that we “should be a little more honest with ourselves.” We ARE, instead of just saying that “god did it” and stopping there, we try to find out WHY god did it, IF god did it, and IF there is even a god rather than stating (which we find to be dishonest) that these things need to be treated as sacred and beyond understanding.

    I’m sure that you have encountered some meanies over the years, but that is no reason to cut yourself off from the entire field of the transcendent.

    We didn’t, we are in a continuous state of learning and THAT can be considered to be transcendent. Each layer of learning transcends another layer of learning. We “enjoy the mystery” by SOLVING the mystery, but acknowledge (honestly) that we may never be able to, but that does not mean that the solution is supernatural or beyond our EVENTUAL understanding. THAT is what “I don’t know” really means. Allowing for the solution to be supernatural and beyond our understanding means that we stop searching for answers and THAT is dishonest (mind you this can be done while still believing in a god). And how exactly is that a “disingenuous motive”?
    .
    I think you had some idea in mind about what our motives are that isn’t actually what we feel, it is what YOU feel, as I explained above, just because you feel something very strongly does not mean we share that same feeling, have you considered asking what people’s motives are rather than assuming that you know? I get it, the reason that you did is that you had a preconceived notion about us that you never bothered to question or have doubts about, you should have had doubts about it.
    .

    Otherwise you guys will have to keep eating humble pie from folks like George Lemaitre. Not to pretty when a catholic priest has to bitch-slap the entire scientific establishment on the issue of origins!

    No I have quoted Lemaitre before in strings on here (just not this one). I may not agree with him personally but I do admire his professional work and acknowledge that he had some good ideas regarding the origins of the universe. His origins still don’t prove a god despite his obvious belief in one. And furthermore, you might have noted based on some of the inform from Monocle that Lemaitre was part of a team of scientists working together not all of which spoke for the group when it came to their personal views and that they built ideas upon other ideas.
    .
    Also you definitely need to learn some things about science as a profession if you are quoting Wikipedia. I will get into that on the next post.

  214. ASwede says

    Swedish guy here, we are not believing in some transcendental life force. Life is kinda magical enough without adding some “Great truth”. Anecdotal but out of my friends there is only 2 that openly say they are Christian. However the issue of religion does not really perservate daily life at all, neither the issue of trying to disprove it or trying to prove it. We all kinda just get along and try to focus on more important issues that are more real.

  215. Christian FCP says

    A Swede. “we are not believing in some transcendental life force” You speaking for the whole country? I think not. I was simply referring to a survey that wikipedia links to.

  216. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Even a personal God is preferable to a philosophy that lacks a transcendental outlook”

    Making shit up is not preferrable to admitting when you don’t know.

  217. StonedRanger says

    After reading this entire ridiculous thread it is my thought that Christian FCP is more than one person. I see at least three different styles of posting and they all add up to troll/poe. You folks here have way more patience than I do in trying over and over to respond politely to this/these persons.

  218. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 233 Round 2

    I think Einstein said it best “Even a personal God is preferable to a philosophy that lacks a transcendental outlook

    Keep in mind that Einstein may not have been talking about transcedence in the way you think. Many consider the idea of evolution to be transcendent as it went beyond a philosophical look at the origin of life (or a scriptural one). That is the context in which I was talking about a continuous state of learning to be transcendent. ONe does not need to believe in the supernatural or spiritual to find personal enlightenment. If he meant that transcendence by definition required a belief in the supernatural that would have been different. The word “transcendence” has a lot of different meanings. I would think Einsteinng it in the manner as I did as that agrees with the philosophical one used by Kant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendence_(philosophy) , go to the section about Kant).
    .
    Now regarding Lemaitre and Wikipedia. (# 235)
    If you get into the profession of science you might learn about something called “Primary Research” or “Scholarly Researc Articles.” In Academia this requires that the individual(s) submitting the article in a certain fashion such that it is subject to something called “peer review” and may also require that the research has been independently verified and validated.
    .
    I have been part of this many times, having had samples sent to me by other scientists who know I have similar testing equipment as they but do not know the purpose of their testing (I worked with NIH a lot years ago and did this several times). They send the samples (or occassionally have us use our own subjects like certain breeds of rodents, but they sent what we were to inject them with) as well as a standard operating protocol upon which to test them. We run the tests as instructed (very often this is blind) and send back our results which they compare wiht their own to see if we got similar results. This validates / verifies what they have been doing by having a peer come up with similar results (prefereably under blinded conditions to prevent bias).
    .
    Subsequent to this the article is submitted to a number of scholars in the field or appointed by the state who are certified in that area (my stuff is reviewed by a state board regularly and what I write gets reviewed too for accuracy) who analyze the logic and data to see if the conclusions we draw are valid. Many may even ask for the Standard Operating Protocols as they may want to do validation studies (as above) even though we did not ask them too. This is something many creationists are often unaware has already been done with varies evolutionary biology studies (albeit evolutionary biology is made up of MANY different hypotheses and ideas that have been tested).
    .
    Wikipedia is NOT a scholarly research resource. It may link to scholarly research resources, but what is posted in wikipedia is not subject to peer review prior to being posted. on’t get me wrong it is a great source for material, but you need to take it with a grain of salt. Monocle here seems to have been more familiar with Lemitre’s background than you were because he probably looked at Wikipedia with a grain of salt (he may have even clicked on some of the links in Wikipedia and read more about the people whom Lemaitre was involved with). The articles in Wikipedia are basically some person’s interpretation of information about an individual.
    .
    Also, some of the books you have read about the scientists and philosophers that you have mentioned may also not be scholarly articles. (Don’t get me wrong, books can be submitted for peer review prior to publication as well). So when you quoted Schrondinger, that may have been his personal opinion but not a reviewed piece of scholarly research. If that had been submitted for review it may very well have been shot down on the grounds that I gave you.
    .
    Now other fields have their own methods of scholarly research and sometimes opinion not based on empricial evidence is allowed in some of those fields. I believe that some peer review is still done, but just to give you an idea of how NOT rigorous they are when it comes to empirical proof and hard observable data, Richard Carrier on youtube (look up AronRa’s channel for his resent talk) mentions talking to a colleague about a quote from the Bible that apparently was not there despite many scholars in that field claiming that it was.
    .
    Something you should know about Lemaitre, he was a Jesuit. This is an order of priests that are devoted to development of the mind as they feel it art of their faith and a gift from God to have a mind that can seek out ideas. They have this saying, Cura Personalis ad maiorem glorium Dominus.” It means, develop your whole person for the greater glory of God. Founded by Ignatius Loyola they were somewhat at odds with the founder of protestantism Martin Luther, whose ideas that reason was the enemy of faith was quite a bit different from them. I was taught Chemistry, and biology including evolutionary biology, by Jesuit priests in my undergrad years. One of the physics teachers at the school was an Emeritus teacher who had actually met Lemaitre.
    .
    I am kind of at odds with Matt Dillahunty on the show when he talks about the Catholic Church being dragged kicking and screaming out of the 20th century when it comes to science because of that, but there are sects of the Catholic church that have no problem with creationist thinking despite having priests within it that teach evolution (kind of weird but ok). Despite being agnostic I have meant to call the show and ask him about that at some point. (I don’t think he is wrong per say, I just want to hear more about his basis for saying that).

  219. Frank G. Turner says

    @ StonedRanger # 243

    After reading this entire ridiculous thread it is my thought that Christian FCP is more than one person. I see at least three different styles of posting and they all add up to troll/poe. You folks here have way more patience than I do in trying over and over to respond politely to this/these persons.

    I was a teacher (I still do some tutoring on the side) so I have a lot of patience with people. I also keep in mind that others may be reading who may get something out of this. If Xtian FCP is more than 1 person then all of them are reading this.

  220. corwyn says

    @233:

    On the issue of consciousness, the hard problem or how physical processes give rise to subjective experience, is 100% unexplained.

    So if science DOES explain consciousness, that will prove your religion false?

    If so, thank you for being intellectually honest,

    If not, than than the fact that it is not yet fully explained is NOT evidence for your religion.

  221. Frank G. Turner says

    On a side note there is soemthing that FCP here has not considered. If having the experience of relgion is so great, does it have to be Xtian? Do others in Islam get the same great experience that he is talking about? Is it a different experience and if so, should he go to an Islamic Temple and experience that too?
    .
    Also, what if the experience was bad? What if the transcendence that he seems to admire so much was actually detrimental to a person instead of helpful? Has he/them ever considered the possibility that they are actually doing harm by trying to get people to experience what they do or do they insist that it must absolutely be positive for everyone?

  222. Christian FCP says

    StonedRanger. “After reading this entire ridiculous thread it is my thought that Christian FCP is more than one person. I see at least three different styles of posting”. What would be the point?
    Frank. I will continue to absorb what you posted about science. I am familiar with Loyola and the Jesuits (also. Chardin etc). To answer your question about religion, yes. Islam would probably give quite the full religious experience. As would, I should think, Hinduism and Buddhism etc.

  223. says

    Re: aftershow: Simple counterexample: evolutionary algorithms. It is perfectly possible to set starting parameters and then have something which works and which seems to fulfill a function basically design itself. Even if you deny evolution, there’s no way you could deny that these algorithms exist and work, at which point the entire argument collapses. Sure, the whole argument was pretty dumb, but that’s just one way of solving it. Wagner’s answer was pretty good too – “You believe in magic and I’m hungry.” Nice. 😀

  224. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP # 251

    To answer your question about religion, yes. Islam would probably give quite the full religious experience. As would, I should think, Hinduism and Buddhism etc

    I would hope that you realize that Buddhists are atheists, for the most part. (I would definitely challenge the benefits of the experience of Islam, given how it influences politics because of some of the writings, I listed it for completeness). And if religions other than Xtianity give the religious experience, who is to say that one cannot have said experience without religion or that religion could be a negative experience as well? Has the thought that others who would have had your exact experience detail for detail would actually find it hurtful in the long run EVEN if that experience was as emotional for them as it was for you?
    ..
    It seems pretty reasonable to me. Everyone’s body chemistry and brain is a bit different. Even with the exact same emotional impact of emotional experience there is no saying that the influence of those experiences will be positive. Do some experimenting on populations of primate and you discover that sometimes the predictability of certain behaviors is only 20-30% certain at best.

  225. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP
    This is not in response to anything in particular, it is just in another string regarding how individuals discuss Islam and how individuals agree on a lot of talking points but talk past each other as though they don’t. I have a reason why that you might be interested in given that you talk so much about emotional experience.:
    .
    It seems to me that, with all of that agreement, we *should* be able to have a productive conversation without people shouting at each other and calling each other names.

    That works when people can agree to disagree. I think that tends to work when an individual from one side decides to immerse themselves in the other culture and not just know that there is agreement on the other side, but feel that there is agreement on the other side. Even if the person does not change their minds they start to “feel” how the individual on the other side of the line feels.
    .
    It is kind of unfortunate because many individuals often put emotion ahead of rational thinking, so if they don’t feel emotionally that the other side agrees with them on certain points they won’t hear it. Of course there are obsessive compulsive types who won’t acknowledge agreement with another individual until every miniscule detail is agreed upon no matter how trivial.
    .

  226. SoSayethTheSpider says

    The aftershow caller defeated his own argument. Of course, he had no clue that he did it. He calls for a very narrow definition of “purpose,” which was his primary criterion for identifying design. He assumes that an “airplane wing shaped like a concrete block” is useless, ignoring that it would make a great concrete block. The purpose that’s apparent to us now is not the only one possible.

    When flightless birds were brought up, he dismissed it on the basis that ignorance of the purpose is not evidence for its absence. He is correct. He just failed to realize that this also takes care of his “I know it’s designed because I recognize a specific purpose” argument.

  227. Frank G,. Turner says

    @ SoSayethTheSpider # 255
    .
    Just got a chance to watch the after show. I would say that he can’t comprehend perspective outside of his own. He understands the purpose of something that he sees and thinks that it must have been made for that purpose intentionally. We understand that the purpose of a thing became that way because it fit well for that tactic even if that may not have been the original purpose (if it even HAD an original purpose).
    .
    It is sort of like that mutation that reshaped hemoglobin so that it was resistant to malaria (that also causes sickle cell disease if doubled up). Yes it was useful for resisting malaria, but it may have even come along before malaria was an issue so it may have had no original purpose. If it was intentional then someone was an idiot to make it that (or at least did not put a lot of forethought into it) way given that it can cause anemia.
    .
    I don’t know if he is a creationist or not but I know of plenty that don’t seem to comprehend something being both unintentional (like a beneficial mutation) and at the same time not completely random (because it provides an unforeseen benefit). Many seem to think that unintentional must indicate randomness (a false dichotomy) and they make mistakes in understanding intent and design like this.

  228. Christian FCP says

    Well… Although I have tried to steer clear of any commitment to proving god, or even showing that my belief is founded on reason, I would still like to think that there ARE some good reasons for it. However personal my reasons are, some good ole solid evidence for god would be nice. The issue seems to vast in it’s scope, or usually does, to decide one way or another. I’m not so sure now. The angle about emotion seems significant. Out of control people who I find dangerous and scary often have that component. They are ruled by their emotion and very difficult to reason with. I sure would hate to imagine that I am like them.

  229. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @FCP #257:

    The angle about emotion seems significant. Out of control people who I find dangerous and scary often have that component. They are ruled by their emotion and very difficult to reason with. I sure would hate to imagine that I am like them.

    -_-
     
     
    FCP #40:

    @Monocle Smile #38:

    Sorry, “it makes me feel good” is a terrible reason to think something is true.

    I would tend to agree.

     
    FCP #68:

    I do have good reasons.

     
    FCP #70:

    I don’t think that my belief is irrational. I think it is very reasonable.

     
    FCP #113:

    I WILL, however, tell you what I think are good reasons for believing.
    [1 Ignorance about consciousness.]
    [2 Ignorance about past events.]
    [3 Personal incredulity that self-reinforcing patterns emerge from simple components that interact in simple consistent ways.]
    [4 People disagree about strategies for individual behavior and what ideals those strategies should favor in any given situatiuon.]
    [5 “God” is the personification on one’s own ignorance about the world.]

     
    FCP #126:

    I think they are good reasons though. You guys make several valid criticisms, but I think that your ideology blinds you to the strengths of these points.

     
    FCP #257:

    I would still like to think that there ARE some good reasons for it.

     
    Article: RationalWiki – Wishful Thinking

    attempting to claim that something is true because you’ve thought about it and would prefer it to be true. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if some people were to have it), the world doesn’t work that way. Wishful thinking is often synonymous with denial.

  230. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP
    Read at # 258 from Sky Captain slowly and carefully, he makes some good points. I will add my own.
    # 257

    Well… Although I have tried to steer clear of any commitment to proving god, or even showing that my belief is founded on reason,

    I would tend to think that you have been trying to prove god and show that your belief is founded on reason. What appears to be going on is that the attempt is failing and it is being pointed out that what you have offered is neither proof nor founded on reason, it is based upon your own emotional need.
    .

    However personal my reasons are, some good ole solid evidence for god would be nice.

    That is true, but solid evidence is tough for something so vas and large. Matt Dillahunty has proposed the idea of a “theory of everything,” but that would first have to begin with many hypotheses, some of which we may be in the process of forming now. He even argued with a called who talked about this never being developed and criticized the caller for claiming that there never would be. Interesting to hear an atheist criticize a theist because the theist claimed that there would never be scientific proof for god huh? (You really should listen to some of the past shows). A theory of everything may very well come to pass someday (I doubt VERY highly in ur lifetimes or even in that of our great great grand children) but until then, the scientific method suggests that one defaults to a negative conclusion.
    .

    The issue seems to vast in it’s scope, or usually does, to decide one way or another. I’m not so sure now.

    That’s actually a good thing. Having doubts drive curiosity for many people, this certainly drove people like Darwin, Schrondinger, Pauling, Edison, Einstein, etc. A lot of people thing that being sure of yourself is a good thing, I don’t. I am always suspicious of people who seem too confident of themselves and not expressing healthy doubt (it is why I have an issue with politicians). What makes many a person insecure (steele comes to mind) is the idea that acknowledging your doubts and saying “I don’t know” for them seems to indicate that we can never know and that we should stop trying. We might never know but trying can help us to discover new things. It took hundred of years to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem and the process of trying opened whole new areas of mathematics (even in Star Trek they thought it would never be solved). One does need to get comfortable with the possibility that one may never solve certain problems in one’ lifetime but that does not mean that the work one has done is not good work. To quote Star Trek, “Don’t try to be a great man, just be a man and let history make it’s own judgements.”
    .

    The angle about emotion seems significant. Out of control people who I find dangerous and scary often have that component. They are ruled by their emotion and very difficult to reason with. I sure would hate to imagine that I am like them.

    The angle about emotion IS significant because emotion is important. Emotion is a tool , science (and a lot of things) can’t be done without it. Over usage of a tool like over consumption of anything (even water) can be hurtful and dangerous. People are unreasonable to varying degrees. There are those who are mostly ruled by their emotion but not completely who can be reasoned with on some issues but not others and who are not completely out of control but may be assholes nonetheless (Sye Ten Bruggencate comes to mind).
    .
    People who think like politicians know that a lot of human being put emotion first and rational thinking second and though not completely out of control are controlled by their emotions to some degree and can be manipulated by them. And you don;t have to be a politician to do this. William Lane Craig is very political in his usage of his arguments, often presenting emotional arguments integrated with philosophical ones as though they were scientific when they are not. He makes people feel good and tells them what they want to hear even if they have no basis in / map to reality. You can even discern the intellectual dishonesty in his arguments if you know how logic and science works, but he relies on his constituents listeners being ignorant of this.

  231. unfogged says

    @257 FCP

    Although I have tried to steer clear of any commitment to proving god, or even showing that my belief is founded on reason, I would still like to think that there ARE some good reasons for it.

    In other words, you don’t think you can show any actual evidence for a god, or any reason-based underpinning for your beliefs and only need an emotional basis for belief. I can’t speak for all atheists but for myself and many others I know that is not enough. We want to know what is demonstrably true and will then build an emotionally fulfilling life around that. Living a life based on anything else simply is not appealing.

  232. says

    @ FCP
    Regarding emotion and a couple of things you said in # 113

    “God” is the personification on one’s own ignorance about the world.

    God makes sense of the universe.

  233. says

    @ FCP # 261 continued
    I would argue from my personal experience that god is the personification of many individual person’s hopes and dreams, both for this life and in the afterlife. You might notice how many schools of religion and preachers talk about having a “personal relationship” with god. Of course neuroscience studies show that you are basically talking to another part of yourself when you “talk to god” (your idea of god is actually a part of you). I would hope that you found some of this in the neuroscience studies on consciousness.
    .
    Regarding the personification of hopes and dreams, this relates to ideas about heaven and paradise. If you spoke with individuals about their idea of the afterlife they may all have very different ideas. It would not be angles on clouds playing harps for everyone.
    .
    The thing is, you don’t have to have your hopes and dreams personified to enjoy and be driven by them. You don’t have to Euhemerize (read Richard Carrier to understand that) your hopes and dreams into an imaginary friend that is necessarily a historical figure. If you emotionally can’t handle the idea of your hopes and dreams being real without imagining that they are anthropomorphized in some imaginary fashion then ok, do it, but beware of the negative side effects of that. Many become so insecure about that idea that they need others to feel it too for them to feel more secure so they go around trying to force their ideas on to others, emotionally manipulating and blackmailing people if they have to. For them the personification of their hopes and dreams has to match the personification of the hopes and dreams of everyone else, which is incredibly neurotic but very common.
    .
    If you read psychology though, sometimes and imaginary friend and an anthropomorphized set of ideas can be just as real as an actual person on an emotional level. The process of realizing that this individual may not exist can be just as bad emotionally as a real person dying. Many atheists and agnostics you talk to tried to make sense of god and it made less and less sense in anything other than an emotional sense over time. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Kubler-Ross cycle, but many individuals probably went through that upon realizing that there was a distinct possibility that their god was not only not possible, but likely never was and the loss feels terrible. Since they don’t have an actual dead body, many get locked into stages of the Kubler Ross cycle.

  234. Christian FCP says

    Well… yea. I have TRIED to steer clear of it. I said from the outset that there were no proofs of god. As far as the reasons, yes I put a few that I thought were fairly good. Perhaps I don’t think as much of them as I did when I typed them. But I mainly tried to avoid all that and talk about religion being a valuable experience. At times the tone is so argumentative that you pretty much have to project confidence to keep up the rhetoric. But I wouldn’t say that religion makes me feel “good”.

  235. Frank G. Turner says

    If the experience does not make you feel good, why would it be considered valuable particularly when there is a certain value to not having it? Keeping in mind that it actually impaired many of us or made us feel bad. (I wish that I had Martin’s experience where it did neither for him).
    .
    And why should it have to be rhetoric or propawhat yh can it just be about factual correctness in the empirical sense?
    .
    Note: I personally make a distinction between factual correctness in an empirical sense, which is a type of truth, and philosophical truth which is sometimes not mathematically demonstrable. I actually wish that we had seperate words from that.

  236. Christian FCP says

    Some of the most meaningful experiences are anything but pleasurable. This reminds me of a conversation I had with an atheist who told me that our goal should be to eliminate suffering. I found this to be mind boggling and indicative of an extremely naive outlook.

  237. Frank G. Turner says

    Fair enough. Pain can be a good teaching tool, but what if it isn’t?
    .
    If something impairs educational value and discovery and is not pleasurable, how is it valuable? (Particularly if it is also painful).

  238. Frank G. Turner says

    FYI I agree with that as long as a particular adjective is added and if so it is definitely not naive. He probably meant that we should eliminate “unnecessary” suffering. (Many assume this without stating it).

  239. Christian FCP says

    Frank. “Many become so insecure about that idea that they need others to feel it too for them to feel more secure so they go around trying to force their ideas on to others, emotionally manipulating and blackmailing people if they have to.” There is a lot of that going around. Reminds me of how Madalyn Murray O’hare reacted to the child her child that chose a different belief system. Vile.

  240. Frank G. Turner says

    What O’Hare did pales in comparison to thousands upon thousands of Xtians and Muslims who will disown, cut off, or even execute (in the case of Muslims) if someone apostacizes. It goes both ways but the fact that you would point out an atheist activist doing it to a religious relative without also pointing out an example of it going the other way shows a certain amount of bias on your part. (Not to say it does not go both ways”, I have a relative who is a Catholic Deacon currently dealing with that).
    .
    Lets try a little exercise in thinking scientifically (with a bit of skepticism) instead of like a politician to see if you can get an idea of how pain might be unnecessary. (The person you were talking with probably already did this and if you had not made the brash assumption of naivety you might have figured this out and learned something).
    .
    Think of a situation in which pain teaches a lesson and another where it doesn’t. Or how it might be necessary under some circumstances but not under others. (This is a little lesson on “how” to think instead of “what” to think).

  241. Narf says

    Or, to put it another way:

    Okay, that’s one. Care to estimate the numbers in the other direction?

    And, holy crap, guys. I tune out for something like 3 or 4 days …
    Gonna take me forever to read through the backlog, on these last two posts.

  242. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Narf # 271
    With any likelihood he HAS seen it going in the opposite direction many many times but because he wants to believe on some level that it is more common the other way he does not notices those. Typical confirmation bias which is likely something he is just learning about now. (Nothing personal FCP but it really does seem like that, you could have picked ANY example even things from big time news about various events, soem of which made big time headline news over the years and which have been mentioned on TAE, including things from big name moguls like Pat Robertson (who probably drives you nuts too). Yet you pick the one person, one atheist activist, O’Hare, among all those stories as the one that you highlight. I am not saying that what she did is right, not by any stretch of the imagination, but how long ago was that?
    .
    How many times did Xtian parents in the USA this year get caught beating their child because he / she was gay? (Which demonstrates the point pretty well and could have been pulled out of any number of articles in various newspapers in the past few months). Couldn’t notice that or point that out 1st could you? All the emphasis went on one out of date case that just helps you to feel good about yourself. (It is why I mentioned the thinking like a politician principle).
    .
    Don’t get me wrong, atheists do that too, we have a lot of issues with a guy on here adam that won’t offer the opposing perspective and will downplay it or act like it does not matter unless pressed on it. Then of course he gets upset because he thinks that stuff like that should go without saying (which is bullshit because he treats it like garbage when someone points out to him that it needs to be said anyway), Seriously though you could have done better than pulling O’Hair out, she’s been dead for almost 20 years.

  243. noexitlovenow says

    Wings aren’t designed to allow birds to fly. Birds fly because they because they have wings (because they can).

  244. Narf says

    Hell, I know more than half a dozen people, personally, whose lives were made miserable by inadvisably making their atheism known to their crazy-religious parents. Two were not completely disowned, but the end result was essentially the same.

    It’s just like the whole Stalin thing. Never mind the horrible things Hitler did as an atheist, since he was a Catholic. But Stalin, sure. He was an atheist. I don’t care if you can point to individual people who are/were assholes and are/were atheists. I care about the numbers, and I care about the motivations.

    Atheists are people, just like Christians are, and they’re prone to the same egotistical assholery as Christians, but no one was an asshole because they were an atheist. It’s a side issue. You can’t get to an evil act by simply rejecting a religion as untrue. You have to add in some other evil motivation.

    And don’t feed me the line about the love of Jesus preventing people from adopting those same evil motivations. Reality and history don’t support that nonsense.

    People lovingly discriminate against gay people, because their fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible says they have to, and they used to support slavery, because the Bible says it’s a-okay. Many people are decent people, despite the immoral stuff in their holy book, but there are plenty of people who might be more decent, loving people if they weren’t brainwashed into authoritarian submission to the immorality of their holy book.

  245. Christian FCP says

    Yea, there couldn’t possibly be a comparison. Ostracizing people seems to be the bread and butter of religion. Not in my family luckily. The O’hara line was something I came up with because I was on the way out the door when I saw Franks comment, had to come up with something fast.

  246. Monocle Smile says

    But I mainly tried to avoid all that and talk about religion being a valuable experience

    And as I’ve been trying to beat into your five-inch-thick skull, WE DON’T FUCKING CARE, you fucking fucking moron. How is it that you STILL don’t understand that the stuff you want to “avoid” is the crux of the matter and everything else is ultimately irrelevant? This is why it’s been postulated that you’re a troll; pretending to not understand an extremely simple concept after repeated explanations is Ray Comfort-level dishonesty.

  247. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    FCP #273:

    LOL. Yea, it was a cheap shot.

     
    @FCP #275:

    Yea, there couldn’t possibly be a comparison. […] when I saw Franks comment, had to come up with something fast.

    No. You didn’t have to.

  248. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @FCP #263:

    I mainly tried to avoid all that and talk about religion being a valuable experience. […] I wouldn’t say that religion makes me feel “good”.

    . . .
     
    FCP (Call at 17:13, opening statements):

    I’ve been thinking that religion supplies something that I feel is kind of essential that I can’t get anywhere else. And, although I’m a Christian, I relate to other religions. It’s almost like I get some kind of satisfaction from observing there or sometimes participating in what they do. […] I’m drawn to participate in religion. And when I participate in it, I feel fulfilled.

     
    FCP #21:

    I called in to get the point across that religion can be an incredible experience, that it is a near universal in human culture, that it is something you should not miss.

     
    FCP #200:

    I think that the religious life (not just christian) is quite an experience and people should consider it seriously before passing it up.

     
    FCP #224:

    I am not saying it is more profound, better, or more unique. I’m just speaking up for it as valuable.

  249. Christian FCP says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain. Jesus Christ, can I not even agree with you dorks? It’s just an expression. Monocle, most miserable of all atheists, you are wrong about the crux of the matter. Also, I post what I think needs to be said, not what you “care” about. You really are hung up on this “we don’t care” business.

  250. Christian FCP says

    Compulsory, I missed your second post. Yes, valuable, fulfilled, something not to miss, etc. Those can all be painful experiences also. My emphasis is not on the “feeling good”. Guilt, for instance, feels BAD. But to use a phrase common to atheists, it doesn’t make me feel “warm and fuzzy”. Well… maybe occasionally. But most of the time it brings about much of the unpleasantness of secular life and also what is found in nature. I relate to much of the negative light that the AE shines on religion. It’s there, for sure. Much of it I accept, though, as being valid and essential.

  251. Christian FCP says

    Here is another classic from one of the creators of your belief system. Rude the way they throw you guys under the bus: ” Popper gave in 1969 with the condition that it shall be kept secret until after his death, he summarised his position on God as follows: “I don’t know whether God exists or not. … Some forms of atheism are arrogant and ignorant and should be rejected, but agnosticism—to admit that we don’t know and to search—is all right. … When I look at what I call the gift of life, I feel a gratitude which is in tune with some religious ideas of God. However, the moment I even speak of it, I am embarrassed that I may do something wrong to God in talking about God” “

  252. Frank G. Turner says

    @ FCP
    I will be friendlier and more diplomatic than others here as I think it important. Some of my comments are in line with what others say but perhaps expressed a bit less aggressively. You do really need to read this slowly and carefully and not filter it through your own lens of understanding but try to understand it the way I am saying, not the way YOU THINK that I am saying it.
    .
    #275

    Yea, there couldn’t possibly be a comparison. Ostracizing people seems to be the bread and butter of religion. Not in my family luckily. The O’hara line was something I came up with because I was on the way out the door when I saw Franks comment, had to come up with something fast.

    Which is why I thought it unusual that you would mention O’Hare given how long ago that was while in terms of religious people who ostracize others in the name fo their faith I could not only point out news stories and other famous individuals in that boat, I could mention people that I know personally. Highlighting the O’Hare story suggests something about what you want to believe. It is not certain, by Freudian slips do say something about a person. We all suffer from confirmation bias. Why did you need to respond fast, why not give it more thought and do that exercise where you think of examples of both situations? (That’s the science exercise where you think of things that would support your hypothesis if you observed them and those that work against the hypothesis as well as keeping in mind that something may be observed that you didn’t think of).
    .
    Now I don;t agree with Monocle here about Ray Comfort (and I think Monocle is being a bit rude) as you do seem to get SOME things about science FCP, but you are still missing a lot of the basic ideas and principles. Falsifiability is a big thing. And furthermore, on of the major ideas that you see to be missing is that many of us (I don;t know who I speak for but there are others who have indicated that they think about this), the main idea is “factual correctness,” a truth based not on emotion and philosophical morals, but on whether things did or did not occur as a matter of fact. Imagine that you could take a time machine back and determine is Jesus who is written about in the Bible occurred as could be observed on camera and that chips could be planet in our brains to determine what our motivations were quantitatively. That is a the basics of intellectual honesty. William Lane Craig has indicated more than once that he could ignore factually observable data because his spiritual principles override that as a matter of principle, as do various creationist websites. So if he could go back in time and determine that Jesus never ascended to heaven and died and was mortal and could not perform miracles, he would still believe that magic occurred and that it happened as he believes and that he does not even have to consider it a possibility. That is intellectually dishonest. That is what many of us care about. You may consider that “it brings about much of the unpleasantness of secular life and also what is found in nature,” but the unpleasantness is also honest, brutally honest. Trying to deny it is dishonest EVEN IF you have good intentions. To some degree accepting reality slowly can be useful, but denying it altogether because it does not gel with a lie or something that is dishonest but not a direct lie that you find pleasing is just harmful.
    .
    # 279

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain. Jesus Christ, can I not even agree with you dorks? It’s just an expression. Monocle, most miserable of all atheists, you are wrong about the crux of the matter. Also, I post what I think needs to be said, not what you “care” about. You really are hung up on this “we don’t care” business.

    Sky Captain is lining up your statements as there seem to be implied (albeit not necessarily explicit) contradictions in them. Many an individual arguing without hard evidence using philosophical ideas starts making contradictions and I think he is mainly trying to point out to you that you have. As far as you “didn’t have to,” I get that there might be something in that expression that does not the explicit meaning, but translated explicitly he is right, you didn’t have to. If you didn’t mean it explicitly then ok, but honesty may involve pointing it out and being corrected on the issue. That’s essentially what peer review is in science, correcting people where they may have strayed and made errors, like advanced editing.
    .
    I think Monocle here is a result of the many individuals in religion who were very aggressive and ostracizing and “meanies” as you have put. He became prone to doing unto them as they did unto him as a defense mechanism. I am not saying that it makes it right, I am just saying that I try to be understanding that this occurs. He may have been exposed to a lot more of what your family was gladly not like and you can imagine what that would do to a person.
    .
    # 281

    Here is another classic from one of the creators of your belief system. Rude the way they throw you guys under the bus:

    Again you are thinking of atheism and agnosticism in the same way you think about religion. It is not a “belief system” by any stretch of the imagination. Atheism and agnosticism are a view about 1 and only 1 question, “Is there a god?” Atheists and agnostics can be pro evolution (most are) or anti evolution. They can be Republican or Democrat (a lot more are Democrat or at least liberally minded politically). There is no central figure of authority, Popper was not “one of the creators” of a belief system. Yes there are those that expressed beliefs that other individuals agreed with because it made sense to them, but they don;t gather together and meet at temples of atheism. This show that you are watching is a result of many conservatives who want to live in a theocracy and organizations started to form that pushed back that correlate with things such as atheism. There are religious individuals who ALSO push for separation of church and state and the teaching of good science like evolution.
    .

    ” Popper gave in 1969 with the condition that it shall be kept secret until after his death, he summarised his position on God as follows: “I don’t know whether God exists or not. … Some forms of atheism are arrogant and ignorant and should be rejected, but agnosticism—to admit that we don’t know and to search—is all right. … When I look at what I call the gift of life, I feel a gratitude which is in tune with some religious ideas of God. However, the moment I even speak of it, I am embarrassed that I may do something wrong to God in talking about God” “

    That is pretty reasonable and it isn’t “throwing anyone under the bus.” Atheists and agnostic argue over whether there is evidence that god does not exist. If you had been listening more carefully to earlier episodes of the show you might get something.
    .
    To be agnostic is to acknowledge that one does not know if a god exists or not and possibly acknowledge that hard factual quantifiable evidence is lacking. To be an atheist (the way it is indicated on this show) is to basically default to the position that in the absence of evidence one believes that god does not exist. You COULD default to a position that in the absence of quantifiable evidence that a god does exists, an agnostic theist. Most people here are agnostic atheists. They DO NOT believe that there is evidence to “disprove” a god.
    .
    You seem to indicate that when you hear the word atheists that one is saying that one has proof that there is no god. STOP DOING THAT. I know that this may not be on purpose, it is the way that you have come to think about atheism when you hear the word. Don’t think that way, the word means something different the way it is being used here than it is in your brain.
    .
    And some forms of atheism are arrogant and ignorant (particularly if they are gnostic in my opinion). Some forms of theism are arrogant and ignorant (again I tend to think gnostic forms are) and some forms of agnosticism are arrogant and ignorant too. What Popper said does not embarrass us (certainly not me), he was expressing an opinion and very eloquently too. Stop thinking though that he speaks for all of us. Stop thinking that there are authorities in atheism and agnosticism that speak for others.

  253. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Monocle

    Yeah, FCP’s a troll, pure and simple. He’s doing this to screw with us. Ban this fucktard.

    I think he is just like many people who can’t unlearn a lot of his previous understanding of things. It is why I suggested total immersion. Still though the fact that he mentions O’Hare and later quotes Popper to demonstrate a point that he does not have a clear understanding of is pretty lame.

  254. Narf says

    @ 284 – Frank G. Turner

    # 281

    Here is another classic from one of the creators of your belief system. Rude the way they throw you guys under the bus:

    Again you are thinking of atheism and agnosticism in the same way you think about religion. It is not a “belief system” by any stretch of the imagination.

    I find it particularly hilarious, since he quoted something from 1969 as being from one of the creators of our belief system. Even overlooking how silly the statement is, in regards to atheism or agnosticism being a belief system, it’s still pretty amazing. If he went back to a quote from one of the ancient Greek philosophers, he would at least be a little closer to the earliest records we have of atheistic thought.

    We get this kind of shit from Christian apologists, all the time. I’ve read multiple Christian apologetics books that speak of skeptics having faith that skepticism is true, along with other, even more inane statements. That’s one of the things that makes Christian apologetics so painful to read. They start lying and misrepresenting the relevant positions in Chapter 1, usually. I guess it isn’t so surprising that we have so many people, like this guy, coming to us with their basic concepts so badly fucked.

  255. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Here is another classic from one of the creators of your belief system.

    Atheism existed way before 1969. If you want to trace it back to the roots of the modern movement, you can at least cite Meslier and Baron d’Holbach (1700s). Of course, that’s just the first open writers of the modern atheist movement in the west. There have been many other atheists well before that too. Ancient Greeks before 1 AD for example.

    PS: Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is merely the lack of a positive belief that there is a god. Atheism includes the “I don’t know” position and “I know there is no god” position. Many of us atheists are also rationalists, skeptics, scientists, and humanists. Those are belief systems. Atheism is not.

  256. Frank G> Turner says

    @ EL and Narf # 286 and 287
    Unlike steele, FCP here seems like he actually does get some of what is going on despite having some of his basic concepts badly fucked. He would still have to do a lot of “un-learning” to get some of what is going on. I woyld suspect that a LOT of Xtian apologetics would, but don’t realize it. he has done more reading about science it seems than many an apologist (WLC’s understanding of evolution is pretty lame from what I get from WLC’s readings, FCP has a better understanding of that).
    .
    The real question i would have for FCP is, does he WANT to understand? At times it has seemed like he might but he keeps going back to old knee jerk ways of thinking and not recognizing that these are obstacles to understanding. It is why I kept getting on his case about atheism NOT being a belief system that has patriarchal authority. at east he has a better understanding of falsifiability than steele does. (Yes you can answer that question FCP even though it is not directed at you specifically).

  257. Narf says

    Many of us atheists are also rationalists, skeptics, scientists, and humanists. Those are belief systems. Atheism is not.

    Actually, most of those aren’t even beliefs. Skepticism is not a belief system. It’s a method and a dedication to a standard, at most. The scientific method is not a belief system, unless you count things like the regularity theorem. I would call secular humanism a philosophy, not a belief system.

    And the aggressive, active belief that there are no gods might be a belief … but is it a belief system?

    I realize I’m splitting hairs with that last one, but those details are important, when you’re dealing with an inane, equivocating theist.

  258. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf

    After thinking that over…I’m on board. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say that I’m opposed to “belief systems” in general. The term implies prescribed beliefs. Rather, we should pursue belief methods, meaning we subscribe to processes that formulate reliable beliefs.

    Sick. Now I have a better way of responding to questions about my “belief system.”

  259. Frank G. Turner says

    @Narf # 286

    I guess it isn’t so surprising that we have so many people, like this guy, coming to us with their basic concepts so badly fucked.

    I thought there was hope for this guy in that he did seem to comprehend some basic ideas of science like falsifiability. Although he did not quite get that just because a scientist expresses something on a personal level that the expression does not reflect upon testable hypotheses. I thought perhaps he had read Ken Miller as he did get how one can believe that evolution occurred and still be religious.
    .
    What he seemed to be missing out upon was a willingness to change his basic model-hypothesis on a certain level in order to comprehend information. I had hopes that if he absorbed some of what he was reading about science that he might re-read some of the personal stuff by scientific explorers in that light and get some new insight. I even tried to be friendly to him most of the time (I got pissed off at one or two statements) with hopes that it might draw him in to keep exploring, I guess not.
    .
    Interesting how someone could be knowledgable about science and yet not have a basic understanding of the philosophy behind it.

  260. billgarthright says

    I just listened to this. Re. Christian, the religious caller, I’m glad that Martin finally got to the question of whether or not his religious beliefs were TRUE. To me, that should have been the first response to him (the previous time he called, too). It was really frustrating waiting until you guys finally got to that.

    This guy seems to like all religions, and he can’t believe that ALL of them are true. So does he care whether or not his beliefs are real, or not? What difference does it make if it makes him feel good? Or if it didn’t, for that matter?

    IMHO, you should have pinned him down about this. The whole call was a red-herring, trying to distract people from the real issue. If he has a good reason to think his religion is true, he should believe it. If not, he shouldn’t. Whether or not it feels good believing it is a non-issue, unless maybe he wants to admit from the start that it isn’t true. (I doubt that he does.)

    The whole point of the call seemed to be to encourage belief without bothering with whether or not it’s true. That’s because he CAN’T back up his beliefs, but he still wants to believe them (and encourage everyone else to believe them, too). Why let him get away with that?

    Note that you can be polite to callers without letting them yammer on forever. You do have limited time, after all. So stop them at the first logical fallacy or fuzzy thinking and pin them down THEN. It’s your show, not his. They can always post a YouTube video if they just want to talk and talk.

  261. Frank G. Turner says

    @billgarthright
    It seems a lot of what he has one is convince himself that his reasons are good reasons when they really are not nor are they shared by others. I don’t take issue with that if the person accepts it. I don’t take issue with religion so much as the negative side effects of religion. If a person was able to motivate oneself to go out and do mountains of charity work all because they believed that a pink unicorn lived in their basement I don’t really give a shit if one actually does or not. Try to get me to believe it and that is a different story as that impinges on my rights. Too much of religion is impinging on the rights of others.
    .
    And if believing that a pink unicorn is in your basement and that helps you to do charity, what if it helps me to do charitable work to NOT believe that? What if believing that impinges on one’s motivation and specifically not believing is a motivating factor?
    .
    I think we lot FCP here, he has his own model on how to view the world and he is unwilling to drop that model to reach a level of understanding. Trying to continue in that vein is like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole and we have been through that before on here.

  262. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Getting around to the show now.

    Though he made the points very poorly compared to Plantinga’s arguments.

    Debatable. Even Plantinga makes the argument badly. That’s because it’s a horribly bad argument.

    I recognized Plantinga’s argument immediately – as soon as the caller stated that evolution and rationality are in conflict.

    The argument in short can best be summed up with Plantinga’s own example. Plantinga argues something like:

    Evolution would create brains that are good at surviving. It is non-obvious that brains which are good at surviving also have true beliefs. In fact, evolution can select brains which are good at surviving by a Rube Goldberg-esque interaction of several false beliefs.

    Example: Imagine a person who wants to be eaten by a lion, but every time he sees a lion he also falsely believes that the lion will not want to eat him, and so he immediately runs away to find a lion which will eat him. Thus he has correct survival behavior from a false belief and a self-destructive belief. [EL: Yes, this is Plantinga’s actual fucking example.]

    Thus, if evolution were true, then we should expect that we are all Rube Goldberg brains, and most of our beliefs are false.

    In short, the fundamental problems of the argument as I see it:
    1- An IMHO valid use of an irreducible complexity argument. There is no plausible pathway in evolution to get from a simple brain to a horribly complicated Rube Goldberg brain with a million mostly-false beliefs that just happen to work out right to produce good survival behavior.
    2- With basic computation theory, one can show that the mostly rational brain will have far less complexity – moving parts – compared to the Rube Goldberg brain with good survival behavior. (One of those rare times that I happen to be an expert.) Bigger brains are more expensive, and thus evolution would select against Rube Goldberg brains. Equivalently, within a given class of size of brains, I think one could show that the number of Rube Goldberg brains that have equal survival skill is far less than the number of traditionally mostly-rational brains.
    3- Even at best, the meat of the argument only manages to show that it’s possible our brains are Rube Goldberg machines. It’s a huge leap from possible to probable. It’s the “possible, thus probable” fallacy. The argument attempts to show that it’s contradictory to A- believe in unguided evolution and B- to believe in your own rationality. However, without the “possible, thus probable” fallacy, it does not arrive at the positive conclusion that we are Rube Goldberg brains, and thus it does not arrive at a contradiction.

    Further, Plantinga’s example is ridiculously idiotic. You need to add on a couple more conditions to make it work out right. The guy has to have an incredibly short attention span to forget that he’s running from the lion, because otherwise he would keep running until he died from starvation and thirst. Short attention spans like that will be bad for survival, which means a heap of additional conditions in the Rube Goldberg brain to make it all work out. Also, why does he always run away from the lion? Why not towards the lion? You need some other bullshit belief on top of that to ensure that he always run away from lions, such as “lions never congregate, and thus there’s probably no lions in that direction”.

    PS: The caller’s example is even more insane with even more unstated assumptions and more required conditions to make the Rube Goldberg brain exhibit good survival behavior in that situation. Overall though, it’s a direct rip from Plantinga’s example. (And maybe even another example directly from Plantinga. I don’t know.)

    PPS: The caller is exactly right to bring up realism. That’s exactly right for me at least. I am not a realist. I make no claim to know what’s “really out there”, whatever the fuck that means. I might be a brain in a vat, and I give no fucks – until such time that someone can describe the difference between the hypothetical world where it’s true, and the hypothetical world where it’s false. I’m a positivist and a pragmatist. However, note that this is IMHO irrelevant to Plantinga’s argument. Plantinga’s argument would apply equally well to my pragmatist approach to knowledge (and it still fails miserably).

    PPPS: The caller could at least cite his argument’s source (Plantinga).

    PPPPS: Matt misses the point with his “crossing the street” example and tiger discussion. He compares one person with completely accurate beliefs vs another with exactly 1 wrong belief. That misses the point entirely. Plantinga wants to posit the existence of Rube Goldberg brains where it’s many, many false beliefs working in tandem to produce good survival behavior.

    Eventually, Matt does come close to identifying the core problem, which is the “possible, thus probable” fallacy. It’s entirely possible that a hypothetical person with completely wrong beliefs about reality behaves exceedingly well by conventional standards through a Rube Goldberg-esque interaction of beliefs. It’s entirely possible that someone with 99% wrong beliefs behaves better than someone with 1% wrong beliefs. I could even positively construct such an example, but the complexity of the brain would be ginormous, far bigger than a simple rational brain. But again, the problem is that merely showing that such a brain might possibly come about from evolution does not show that it’s likely or even plausible that such a brain can come about from evolution.

  263. says

    I find Sam Harris frustrating as he seems incapable of admitting when our understanding of a subject falls short of what he would like to be true. The concentric circle example he gave was beyond frustrating, as it implied a simple model of varying Islamic based lifestyles exists. What is certain is that Islamic teaching breaches many logical and rational ways of analyzing problems and treating other people, but this does not mean we understand to what degree individuals apply this teaching to how the behave.

    He seems to think that there is something inherent in Islam that is more illogical than other religions, which seems to ignore all political and social pressures. He has put forward the proposition that “Islam is more likely to cause cruel and irrational acts than other religions”, or a proposition close to that effect. So please Sam could you provide the evidence to support that claim. currently I would not accept that any of the Abrahamic religions is any more dangerous than any of the others.

  264. corwyn says

    @294 EL

    We can, in fact, test this. We have beliefs which are NOT survival based (quantum mechanics springs to mind), our brains should model survival situations better than non-survival ones. And they do.

  265. Sellaronda says

    Your argument falls into the straw man fallacy–Sam Harris does not claim that Islam is solely responsible for every action done my muslims. Of course Sam Harris is aware that there are motivations for actions done by muslims that include poverty, culture, and response to imperialism. He has made clear that many religions have problems with violence, misogyny, and homophobia, but that right now Islam is at particular fault. Christianity and Judaism have mostly moderated their violent tendencies and it is not common for stoning to be the punishment for violations of religious dogma (for example). This is a very interesting area of speculation about why these religions have become less violent (see Pinker’s book). Muslims are disproportionately responsible for barbaric, violent, and anti-liberal activities–an idea that can be debated without using straw man arguments. It is fine if you want to emphasize anything other than religion as responsible for actions of muslims, but the amazing tendency of many liberals, including Affleck, is that Islam has nothing at all to do with the actions of ISIS, or female genital mutilation in Indonesia, or beheadings in Saudi Arabia, or shooting girls on buses trying to get an education, or the belief of British muslims that their should be blasphemy laws including prosecution for publishing Mohammed cartoons, etc., etc. No one is saying, especially Harris, that all muslims have illiberal, violent beliefs. He argues that there is a significant minority that is not being controlled by a silent and or quietly acquiescing majority that is a real danger to the muslim and non-muslim world. Judaism may have had similar problems millennia ago and Christianity may have had similar issues centuries ago, but Islam seems to have that problem now which is why we are talking about it. By all means talk about economic, cultural, and imperial contributions to the problems, but don’t ignore Islam as part of the issue–as a factor if you will. Just because Harris, an atheist physicist, chooses to emphasize Islam, does not mean he is saying that it is the only issue, just one he chooses to discuss and one he believes is important.

  266. Madara Sennin says

    lol you believe in magic and its bullshit?

    you do know that physicist have studied how an atom can be in two places at one time, is that magic?

    or how scientists are already studying mass consciousness is that magic?

  267. georgesteele says

    Islam has a plan. World conquest, no less.

    Anything and everything, even lying, in defense of Islam is allowed. In countries where majority rules they send immigrants; the plan is to win by demographics. In countries where PC is important, “Islamophobia!” Where neither is the case they wage war. The idea of a Caliphate that rules the Muslim World (and all the World is Muslim) has been smoldering for years and is now aflame.

    Or maybe, over time, these extremists will become a fringe. The Christian practice of burning witches are few (although not all gone) these days. Perhaps the Muslims will mellow over time.

    Could be.

  268. Alex Rollinson says

    I love your show and I deeply respect every host who goes on it. I never would have thought a show like this would spring up in Texas of all places, although that is likely due to my distant impression of that state from Canada.

    This episode is one of the first times that I fundamentally disagree with the viewpoint expressed by a host.

    “It’s true that religion is culturally determined to a great extent. However, race is *also* culturally determined to a great extent.”

    I think saying “to a great extent” is not going far enough. Race is 100% socially constructed. There is often more genetic difference between two people of the same “race” than two people of different “races”. There is just no scientific basis for race. The closest you could come to division by race is skin colour, but that says virtually nothing about a person . Every other attribute (and difference of attributes) attached to race is socially constructed and not completely or even mostly based on reality.

    That being said, the fact that race and religion are both socially constructed does not mean they are equivalent i.e. that Islamophobia and racism are equivalent. Here is an another example of your fallacy at work to show you its silliness: “Gender is a social construct and so is religion therefore sexism is the same as or even comparable to Islamophobia”. This is clearly not the case. A system of beliefs and rituals can be thoroughly mocked without consideration of the individual: without the individual who holds the beliefs even entering the picture. Stereotyping or mocking based on socially constructed labels that are inherently attached to the individual (i.e. racism and sexism) is very different.

    I would like to point out, admittedly facetiously, that Islamophobia is being underlined with red in my browser right now for a reason.

    Sam Harris saying “Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas” is not racist, sexist, or anti-Muslim. If you want to say it is Islamophobic and you define that as anti-Islam, then you are correct. If you define that as anti-Muslim, you are incorrect.

    But you seem to know that yet suspect Maher and Harris of “racist” Islamophobia anyway. Maher I could perhaps understand because he is very crude and prone to hyperbole and generalization. Harris, however, is one of the most thoughtful and careful individuals I have ever seen or heard and he is always very clear about what he is talking about; and it’s not race.

    He talks about how specific sets of beliefs, shared by and endorsed by hundreds of millions of people (according to numerous polls). Hundreds of millions of people would be in favour of living under Sharia Law. The worst atrocities in our news feeds come from Shariaw-run Caliphates such as that run by ISIL. Do you blame that on Western imperialism? On poverty? On patriarchy? Sure, all of those things may play some role, but you must agree that if Islam disappeared from the Earth (and was not replaced by another religion), the problems would be very different and frankly much more manageable.

    And often, those things do not play a significant role. As I am sure you know, the attackers who brought down the Twin Towers were not victims of Western imperialism. They were PhD German citizens who knew they would be rewarded with the best form of Paradise after their martyrdom.

    Islam is an evil, evil set of ideas that have contributed hugely to problems in the Middle East and around the world. Do not let your (and my, as we are very similar in many ways) weak spot for multiculturalism and political correctness and sensitivity undermine your rational thinking. Sam Harris is not a racist. Islamophobia is not racism. Islam is a huge cause, though not the only cause, of many terrible terrible problems in the world.

  269. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Alex Rollinson

    Every other attribute (and difference of attributes) attached to race is socially constructed and not completely or even mostly based on reality.

    I agree with the general message, but the words I think you’re looking for are: “The properties that are ‘race’ have no scientific significance whatsoever. The collection of properties are a historical accident and a social construct.” I mean – the properties that make up ‘race’ do exist in reality, but oftentimes it makes about as much sense to differentiate based on race as it does to differentiate based on whether someone’s height in inches is even or odd in terms of scientific “significance”.

    Harris, however, is one of the most thoughtful and careful individuals I have ever seen or heard and he is always very clear about what he is talking about; and it’s not race.

    Sam Harris is a very intelligent man often with with some very intelligent and wise points. However, he often fails to sufficiently clarify that some of his positions are thought experiments only and have no basis in reality, and further sadly he seems to have some actual positions that are inconsistent with basic human decency, such as:
    1- He thinks we were justified to kill bin Laden merely for his speech, as opposed to plenty of real crimes such as conspiracy to commit murder, etc. Really. WTF. I never see people bring this up when attacking Sam Harris, but this is the worst thing he’s said by far IMHO AFAIK.
    2- He actually supportive of torture outside of abstract thought experiments.
    3- He favors racial profiling of people at airports, and persisted in doing so even after a security expert said how it was a horrible thing in practice. Like many of his controversial points, I can see some true esoteric points, but when he tries to apply it to real world policy, then we start having problems, which the security expert pointed out.

    PS: I’m generally on board with his criticism of Islam, and I generally agree that too many western academics and liberals deny the obvious influence that religious beliefs and culture have on the motivations of Islamic terrorists (and religious terrorists of all kinds). Don’t let that cloud over some very serious moral problems he has though…

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