Bubbles of delusion


It’s an interesting argument, although to be perfectly fair, it ought to admit that everyone has their own bubbles of delusion — some are just less silly than others.

Comments

  1. Caledonian says

    When you believe that everyone has their delusions, it becomes much easier to rationalize your own silly and irrational beliefs, and evade the acceptance of responsibility for your failure to be rational.

    It’s simply not so – and it’s the things we believe but aren’t the case that end up causing us the most harm.

  2. Jon says

    Christians will claim that their religion is unique among the world religions. Totally ridiculous, of course, but that would be their response to this video.

  3. Who Cares says

    The video goes to fast. Only result will be that people who are inside those bubbles will go: “Waaaaah, they are picking on us again”.

  4. says

    I love the website and concept, and I enjoy the videos, text-wise, but the videos themselves aren’t very engaging. There’s a lot of repetition (which, granted, theists might need) that could be replaced with more engaging presentation. Maybe if he showed his face instead of weird, little slides, it would be more interesting.

  5. jimBOB says

    Theistic beliefs are less bubbles than they are strong, well-defended castles. They are bristling with defensive structures meant to turn aside any frontal assault. They won’t pop when punctured. This is why rational arguments have so little effect on believers – they have so many layers of excuses and rationalizations available that overwhelming them all is usually not possible.

    I do admire the makers of the video for trying, however. The calm self-assurance with which it is presented is just what atheism needs and seldom gets, at least here in Jesusland.

    To continue the analogy, the best way to defeat the castles of faith that believers build is to stop them before they become large and entrenched. Young people will more easily part with their theistic notions than older ones, so Dawkins is onto something with his focus on religious indoctrination among children. The good news is that often the indoctrination doesn’t take. My 5 siblings and I went through 12+ years apiece of catholic education when we were young. Total number of practicing catholics today: zero.

  6. caynazzo says

    Ecumenically minded religious moderates and pluralists (Gesthemane Encounter) will wax on about a core truth in a supreme being that manifests itself in different ways in different cultures. Religions are man-made, diverse realizations of the one true god. Therefore, no muslim, mormon, christian bubble, only a God bubble.

  7. CalGeorge says

    The “us normal them delusional” thing doesn’t work.

    Mormons are “normal” people.

    That’s the problem!

  8. m.b. says

    too much talk, all of you. too many opinions. so, who’s delusional? 5000 years of religion in one capacity or another is not delusional. you’re confusing fundamentalism with earnest religious practice. opinion blogs reaching crictical mass proportions are delusional. anything can be taken to its fundamental, fatalistic extreme if you let it. if you don’t like religion, don’t be part of it. don’t chastise others who find meaning in eternal truths, even if most of you never bothered to study any of them, only about them. the cessation of all religions won’t end mankind’s problems, it will only help to create new and different ones.

  9. Abbie says

    I dunno I find the videos from that site really annoying and probably condescending. The droning voice doesn’t help. I don’t see a Christian being affected by that video.
    And saying there’s no evidence for Jesus’s miracles is a little silly… of course there isn’t. What we need are contemporary accounts, and the Bible fills that job for the Christians. You need to question the validity of the Bible first.

  10. General Woundwort says

    When you believe that everyone has their delusions, it becomes much easier to rationalize your own silly and irrational beliefs, and evade the acceptance of responsibility for your failure to be rational.

    It’s simply not so – and it’s the things we believe but aren’t the case that end up causing us the most harm.

    I disagree. It is believing that other people have delusions, but that you do not, that causes the most harm. Most people have little trouble seeing the delusional beliefs in others, but think themselves to be perfectly rational.

    I know I have my own “bubbles of delusion”. I try to eliminate the ones I notice, but I am sure I will always cling to some here and there. I’ve never met a perfectly rational person, and I doubt I ever will.

    Self-awareness is not the problem. The problem is a lack of self-awareness.

  11. Moses says

    I like the video. I think it’s got it uses. I don’t think it’ll be effective for all people at all times. But the goal is to continue to whittle away at the Theocracy until it becomes, more or less, a toothless old fuddy-duddy, as it is in much of Western Europe.

  12. The Pacifier says

    “Young people will more easily part with their theistic notions than older ones, so Dawkins is onto something with his focus on religious indoctrination among children.”
    Posted by: jimBOB | July 25, 2007 09:51 AM

    Does this guy ‘creep out’ anyone else……?

    Yeah…. what people believe but cannot prove is an interesting topic. Like me…. I believe in God…. of course I could offer up the proof of such a creative force by the very fact that I exist and that I’m typing this lame response on a lame web site. Indeed, proof of God… perhaps; proof of hell…..?

    PZ is correct… everyone does have their own bubbles of delusion… however, whose delusions are more ‘silly’…? that’s debatable.

    I don’t believe God is a person in the sense that (your hero) Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or “existent”. In one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for us ‘believer’ types to claim that God does not in fact “exist”. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather that nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects.

    Ahhhh, indeedy… to the brighty brights, truth and belief are uncomfortable words. It is possible to define as true only those things that can be proved by certain agreed criteria. In general, science does not believe in truth or, more precisely, science does not believe in belief. Understanding is understood as the best fit to the data under the current limits (both instrumental and philosophical) of observation. If science fetishized truth, it would be religion, which it is not. However, it is clear that under the conditions that Thomas Kuhn designated as “normal science” (as opposed to the intellectual ferment of paradigm shifts) most scholars are involved in supporting what is, in effect, a religion. Their best guesses become fossilized as a status quo, and the status quo becomes an item of faith. So when a scientist tells you that “the truth is . . .”, it is time to walk away. Better to find a priest.

    Hey brighty brights!!! Do you ‘believe’ that the universe is infinite….?

    Oh, oh… are you sure you’re not ‘delusional’…..?

  13. Tim Tesar says

    Sure, these beliefs are silly, no doubt about it. But I am much more concerned about where people stand on human and civil rights than I am about whether they are theists. I feel much more threatened by anyone who would deny my rights to free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, etc., no matter what their metaphysics might be.

    Oh, and I hate to have to say it, but it should be “everyone has his own bubble of delusion “.

  14. MartinM says

    PZ is correct… everyone does have their own bubbles of delusion… however, whose delusions are more ‘silly’…? that’s debatable.

    Yours appear to include the belief that you have something coherent to add to this discussion. That’s pretty silly.

  15. MartinM says

    But I am much more concerned about where people stand on human and civil rights than I am about whether they are theists.

    Sure, but that stance is informed by one’s beliefs.

  16. Chuck says

    The Pacifier,

    There is a lot of distance between “there is a metaphysical underpinning to reality which provides the answer to the question ‘why does something exist rather than nothing?'” and the belief that an obscure man who lived 2,000 years who claimed he was the son of God actually ascended into the sky and disappeared into another dimension or parallel universe. I presume you do not believe that a ghost inhabits my body and that it – and not my brain – is the source of my consciousness. Do you believe, as most Christians do, that this ghost will survive my death and enter either the same parallel universe Jesus went to or another one designed to punish those who don’t believe in these myths? Do you believe that this man performed magic tricks that broke the laws of physics that God presumably authored? Maybe you don’t, but millions do. Instead of mocking the delusions of scientists – who would be happy to admit that they may be delusions – you can help us out by mocking truly insane ideas instead. Why is Christianity more delusional than Kuhn’s normal science? How about the complete lack of evidence for those beliefs? How about the fact that it is all based completely on wishful thinking with no bearing on reality? People believe these things because they comfort mortal creatures facing death, and not for any other reason – such as correspondence with reality.

    In other words, cosmological metaphysics aside, virtually all the commonly-held beliefs about God are baldfaced delusions propped up mostly by ignorance. The smart atheists, including Dawkins, admit that their target is not Paul Tillich’s or Spinoza’s God. Their target is the God of Robertson and Osama, because these conceptions of God are popular and Tillich’s isn’t.

  17. says

    Again – what’s the point of stereotyping? All Christians do not accept the arguments he makes (interesting, he says “fundamentalist, moderate or casual” Christian; following the playbook of the religious right, he totally ignores the existence of progressive/liberal Christianity, probably because they don’t fit his nice little caricature). I find these absolutist statements tiresome. I have immense sympathy for the rationalist cause, but when people go beyond the facts and launch into straw man attacks, the lose credibility. Sure, his arguments probably apply to most Christians, but there’s a substantial proportion that reject some or all of his generalisations. If you attack creationists for their straw man attacks, you shouldn’t tolerate them from people with whom you happens to agree.

    As a Christian I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, ghosts impregnating women, or miracles. And I see no reason to believe that prayer changes things…but it’s still a useful social exercise and meditational tool.

  18. Glenn says

    The Pacifier:

    Oh, oh… are you sure you’re not ‘delusional’…..?

    Your needling is often a useful addition to the conversation here, but this kind of baseless, childish taunt merits no more than an eye-roll. Have you read PZ’s post and the comments here? Have you seen anyone claim to have no delusions?

  19. ChemBob says

    jimBOB,

    The fact that you and your siblings escaped Catholicism, I escaped the Baptists, and countless others, especially the young, are not buying into their deluded fantasies is precisely why the fundies are fighting to establish a theocracy!

  20. The Pacifier says

    “Yours appear to include the belief that you have something coherent to add to this discussion.”
    Posted by: MartinM | July 25, 2007 10:36 AM

    Sorry if my post was a little ‘over your head’……

    I must say marty… you’re not a very bright brighty bright…. But that’s just what I ‘believe’….

  21. Ray S says

    Although I think the video has its uses, the delusionals who are dangerous won’t be moved by it in the slightest. There’s already been a couple of commenters agree that the other crazy Christians are delusional, but not their brand. To paraphrase a good quote I saw on some thread like this somewhere: ‘They didn’t think their way into faith, so they’re not likely to think their way out of it.’

  22. caynazzo says

    These religious types comprehend the great unknown and find the thought intolerable and so resorts to myth. The rest of the time is spent flaunting their rationalizations as if they were explanations.

  23. The Pacifier says

    “Which would be one more belief not based in evidence.”

    Posted by: MartinM | July 25, 2007 11:04 AM

    Oh the irony…..

    Marty, my belief in your lack of ‘brightness’ may not be based ‘in’ the evidence….. but surly it is based upon it.

  24. KyleM says

    Watch the South Park episode on Mormonism and tell me again how it is a poisonous, evil religion. I lived in Idaho my whole life, 2nd only to Utah in Mormom population density, and I have never met a group of people who were nicer or better for those around them. The idea that a single ideology = you’re a bad person is ridiculous. Anyone who has taken a basic debate course could make either side look evil. Stop attacking systems wholesale, it never solves anything.

  25. Rey Fox says

    I will point out, just once, that no one here calls themselves “brights”. I know it won’t do any good, but I just want to say it once.

  26. MartinM says

    Oh the irony…..

    Marty, my belief in your lack of ‘brightness’ may not be based ‘in’ the evidence….. but surly it is based upon it.

    Unlike your torturous (ab)use of full stops, the phrase ‘based in evidence’ is grammatically correct.

    And don’t call me Surly.

  27. says

    The problem I see with the argument in the video is near its end — thin,king won’t help; it was thinking that formed the delusional view to begin with.

    Touting rational thinking is all well and good, but rationality is a process that must be learned. It’s not enough to exhort someone to “think rationally” about his religion; you first have to teach him how to think rationally — and, if he’s seriously committed to his faith, he’s going to resist your efforts every inch of the way.

    From a PR point of view, the narration sure was hung up on the word delusion.

  28. Rose Colored Glasses says

    The South Park episode was funnier, especially the “dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb” refrain.

    Since all religions are webs of lies, needing constant maintenance through rationalizations and other kinds of lies, their practitioners are highly skilled at keeping their lies flying. Attacking their fabrications with truth ill not leave a mark because truth has nothing to do with a web of lies, except that it doesn’t fit in anywhere.

    Better than logic are two things.

    One is unrestrained ridicule, for it is hard to maintain any pretense to dignity when you are the butt of all the jokes, and if your Chief Sky Fairy is helpless in the face of laughter then even he looks like a putz.

    The other is honesty. Call them on their lies. Tell them to their face that when they profess faith in flimflammery you know that they are lying, that they don’t believe a word of it, and you resent being lied to. Keep the focus on the fact of their lying, without being distracted by the contents of their lies.

  29. Rey Fox says

    “From a PR point of view, the narration sure was hung up on the word delusion.”

    Repitition of buzzwords is PR. Think “flip-flop”. It helps to have a simple point to boil down to.

    Say, where the hell was SkookumPlanet during all that talk on “framing” anyway?

  30. says

    I’ve poked around the Why Won’t god Heal Amputees site a fair amount, and it’s all pretty good about pointing out the fallacies of religion without being too bad about making judgements about religious people themselves. Some might argue about that, but I do feel that he makes far less accusatory statements about individuals than most atheists/anti-religionists. Not that I think it’s likely to convince anyone who doesn’t already have doubts – people who are deeply faithful will take offense, assert that he doesn’t really understand, and counter with the arguments they’ve learned well from their own apologists. It’s good, though, to see the atheist arguments framed in a rational, non-accusatory way (sorry for using the “f” word, PZ) so we can keep in in mind when we’re tempted to do something that would get a religionist to lump us in with those crazy atheists they hate so much. . .

  31. Umilik says

    IanR, you write “And I see no reason to believe that prayer changes things…but it’s still a useful social exercise.. ” Got any evidence for the usefulness of prayer as a social exercise ? I’d like to hear it. Just wanna make sure I am not missing out on something useful.

  32. Antimatterspork says

    I don’t think that this style of video will help in any meaningful way. It’s condescending and insulting towards believers, and the way it starts by insulting them and calling them delusional without showing them first will put believers on the defensive. They won’t be willing to even listen to the arguments (however valid they may be) made by the video because of the various insults.

    A better approach would be to make the arguments (all religions are equally ridiculous, etc.) and then start pointing out to the viewer that it applies to their religion as well.

    Insulting people is no way to enlighten.

  33. twincats says

    Oh, and I hate to have to say it, but it should be “everyone has his own bubble of delusion “.

    You heard it from Tim: Women don’t have bubbles of delusion!

    Actually, we keep our delusions in cigar boxes that we decoupage with tissue paper and glitter which we make when we’re little girls.

  34. says

    Hmmm… well, I’d say there were more bubbles of delusion than religion. I generally define culture as the “local bubble of delusion”. It’s an ok video… again, pretty shallow and repetitive.

    My favorite in the series (although at times MIND NUMBING in repetition) is the one on prayer, where it shows that asking God for something gets you exactly the same results as asking a jug of milk.

  35. Epistaxis says

    Sorry, I just couldn’t get through the movie. The narrator needs to blow his nose. I think it’s congested with conceit.

  36. charles says

    PZ

    Some of us try hard to be tentative about what we hold to be true and are ruthless in trying not to decieve ourselves about anything. If people such as we live in a bubble of delusion, we will need help in order to see it. Perhaps you might tell us if you can identify the bubble you think you might live in and what, exactly, might be your delusions.

  37. says

    I agree with pretty much all the arguments in the video, but I think the condescending tone is a really poor choice. No one is going to be won over like that. “Hey you, idiot! Listen to me!” It just makes people tune it out immediately.

    What we really need is a show like Touched by an Angel (probably without an actual angel, maybe an imaginary one) where the protagonist gets exposed to other religions, and gradually realizes how similarly delusional the beliefs are. That way, people start to learn the lessons before they boycott it.

    Also, his use of “normal” is unfortunate, since obviously the delusional are the norm.

  38. wrg says

    So you’ve successfully examined and eliminated all your delusions, charles? Good for you! Join Caledonian standing outside all the bubbles of delusion, I guess.

    I live pretty delusionally, though. I had little trouble staying out of religious indoctrination, since I never found it particularly convincing, but my self-assessments are coloured by the belief that I’m socially unsuccessful. Most of the time, the belief helps make itself true, but even on the occasions when I make a good impression I think I don’t. On reflection, I can see the delusion, but it still influences how I live.

    Don’t even get me started on other lifestyle choices. For a wannabe skeptic, I sure do irrational things. I expect some do much better, but I’m not sure anyone lives up to the ideal of the examined life where every facet has passed inspection. Am I just delusionally projecting my irrationality onto others?

  39. wrg says

    What we really need is a show like Touched by an Angel (probably without an actual angel, maybe an imaginary one) where the protagonist gets exposed to other religions, and gradually realizes how similarly delusional the beliefs are. That way, people start to learn the lessons before they boycott it.

    Speaking of “boycott”, I very much doubt the Christians would even get the chance to boycott such a program or any organizations associated with it. I can’t possibly see it getting airtime in America.

    Also, his use of “normal” is unfortunate, since obviously the delusional are the norm.

    Indeed. Maybe the “banana” argument just amused me way too much, but all that talk about what’s obvious to any “sane” or “rational” person makes me think of Comfort’s “eyes that can see and a brain that works”. The problem is in the bubble’s fortifications, including mysterious ways, miracles, and all that. Quite possibly there are those who regard it as quite rational (and who probably don’t bother thinking about what the word “rational” means) to believe in their own delusions while considering the other ones wrong, but perfectly plausible. When you start from thinking that of course Jesus did all his magic, why couldn’t other people conceivably have had their magic too? Of course, they didn’t, because to the Christian their faiths are wrong, but they might have happened except that God said they didn’t.

  40. woozy says

    #43) No. His face was down and never seen.

    Um. Yeah, it was condescending and a bit smug in the assumtion that a christian would find Mormons and Muslims delussional. I don’t think any christians (expluding the progressive and literal christians) will have any problem with Joe’s or Mohamed’s angels. The only problem with Joe’s story would be the historical inaccuracy but even then with only a layman’s knowledge of history and archeology it’s only wrong. It isn’t absurd. Mohammed’s winged horse was surely either a metaphor or a method God used to show himself (as he did as a burning bush). At any rate it’s an utterly insignificant aspect of Islam. Finally so what if religions have fairy tale aspects. So do the biographies of the US presidents and the history of Science.

    The video places a lot of faith on its belief that Christians are intolerant, ignorant, and will reject Mormonism and Islaam out right.

  41. charles says

    wrg

    I guess I didn’t express myself well. I didn’t mean to imply that I had “examined and eliminated” all my delusions. I only meant to say that I try to guard against self-delusion but if, in spite of that effort, I am (or anyone is) living in a delusional bubble, it would be understandably difficult to appreciate that fact – given the definition of delusion. Accordingly, I asked PZ if he had any insight into the delusional bubble he implied that he must live in.

    OK?

  42. David says

    I liked this video.

    First start off with the Mormon story, where there exists actual facts that rebut the Mormon story.

    Now, you go to the Islam. Sure, we don’t mention any evidence this time, but what of that? Its similar enough, (angel coming down to speak to specific prophet), so apparently we don’t have to cite any specific lack of evidence this time around.

    Now we get to the Christian story. Do we cite any evidence? No, again we have no evidence. Are they similar? Well, only in that the author emphasizes the word “magical” a lot.

    Yeah, yeah I know. All religions are basically the same, because all religions are wrong, and you know this because science tells you so. I’ve dealt with that tripe before.

  43. Roger says

    “Yeah, yeah I know. All religions are basically the same, because all religions are wrong, and you know this because science tells you so.”

    Actually, no.

    We know all religions are wrong in the same way that any one specific religion is wrong – through reason. Science is a tool of reason, so is logic and mathematics.

    However, just for the sake of argument, let’s say religion (pick one, your choice, only limitation is that it has to have had at least 100,000 adherents) is RIGHT. It would still be immoral to follow any religion you chose. Why? Because all religions, without exception, boil down to a naked Appeal to Authority fallacy. Generally that’s not so bad, but that appeal to authority is subject to transfer onto the person ‘representing’ the religion to the people. To make matters worse, there’s no ‘arguing’ with ‘god’. He’s right, always! If he says (through the mouth of his preacher) “Go kill the heathens!” then you are disobeying god itself if you don’t!

    There may be no atheists in foxholes, but there sure aren’t any atheist suicide bombers.

  44. Roger says

    Sorry for the double post. /eep!

    “Again – what’s the point of stereotyping? All Christians do not accept the arguments he makes (interesting, he says “fundamentalist, moderate or casual” Christian;” – IanR

    Classic No True Scotsman fallacy. The argument applies to enough people that it is valid. What’s enough? A majority is usually a pretty good yardstick.

  45. ken says

    Here in Thailand, they block YouTube because there are a couple of videos insulting to the King floating around.

    For some reason, though, YouTube was available today. So I indulged in all sorts of evolution/ID/creationism videos. It must be said, for those who have the dense sort of mentality that evaluates arguments based on the apparent confidence and clarity of the speaker, the creationists are the clear winners. The biologists are represented by a French dude with a scraggly goatee, the sorority girl whose statements have an end-of-sentence inflection that makes them sound like questions, and the high-schooler whose frustration with creationist inanity leads to profanity and stammering.

    Ken Miller is a nice exception. He shreds these fools with authority.

    Those are my one-day impressions, anyway.

  46. Kagehi says

    don’t chastise others who find meaning in eternal truths, even if most of you never bothered to study any of them

    Sigh.. If we had a dime for every clueless nitwit that showed up here, and without knowing a damn thing about any of our histories or backgrounds, insisted that we only “study” religion, but had never been in one, thought about if it was real or not, or once believed in anything in them, we could all stop buying lottery tickets and retire with bank accounts that would make Bill Gates look poor.

    And why is it that about 50% of the people that come up with these kinds of stupid arguments either can’t spell, can’t capitalize the first letter of a sentence, or can’t form comprehensible sentences at all? Mind you, this guy seems to have gotten two out of three right, which is a major improvement, but still… lol

    As for someone’s castle anology. I would go a step farther. They don’t just build complex and elaborate castles to defend themselves, they gasp in awe and praise for everything that they notice, wondering at how such a thing could have been fashioned *by the people within its walls*, while simultaneously ranting about every item they don’t approve of, and insisting that the passage it came through be immediately collapsed, sealed or bricked up. Never mind that both items came from the same source, and most of the common folk are digging new holes through the rock underneath, or unblocking old passages. After all, everything “outside” the walls must be a demon haunted wasteland, so only bad things must come from there, while all good things must therefor **obviously** originate inside the castle. The common folk, of course, being the ones we call moderates, who *dare* to actually deal with the demons haunting the oddly non-wasteland like world outside. lol

  47. Caledonian says

    Yeah, yeah I know. All religions are basically the same, because all religions are wrong, and you know this because science tells you so. I’ve dealt with that tripe before.

    Rudimentary logic and basic observation are more than enough to convince any honest inquirer that religious systems have no foundation in truth. Particularly not those that stress the importance of faith and adherence in belief.

    What exactly is it that supposedly tells you your religion is correct?

  48. ken says

    Religious practice can make you feel purposeful, clear-headed, confident, and pure. It can give you a structure for introspection. It gives you a reliable social network.

    And some professorial dude is going to come along, point out a few logical fallacies or historical inaccuracies, and shatter this whole gestalt?

  49. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Ugh. The condescending tone and droning voice wasn’t exactly a poster child for an unbiased and skeptical view. Neither was omitting the reality that we all are forced to work within our bounded rationality or “bubble”. It just so happens that some aren’t so internally or externally (observationally) inconsistent to be outright deluded.

    It would have been enough to note that each deluded position recognizes the others as deluded to make the point vs the multiplicity of religions.

    It is believing that other people have delusions, but that you do not, that causes the most harm.

    This is an additional mechanism. Whether it is the outright delusions that causes harm or the intolerance of others delusions that does it will depend on the circumstances. Religious fundamentalism is bad though.

    Here in Thailand, they block YouTube

    Wow, I have missed that! They must be banking on that tourists are otherwise occupied. But what will happen if water- and sandproof terminals gets popular? :-o

  50. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Ugh. The condescending tone and droning voice wasn’t exactly a poster child for an unbiased and skeptical view. Neither was omitting the reality that we all are forced to work within our bounded rationality or “bubble”. It just so happens that some aren’t so internally or externally (observationally) inconsistent to be outright deluded.

    It would have been enough to note that each deluded position recognizes the others as deluded to make the point vs the multiplicity of religions.

    It is believing that other people have delusions, but that you do not, that causes the most harm.

    This is an additional mechanism. Whether it is the outright delusions that causes harm or the intolerance of others delusions that does it will depend on the circumstances. Religious fundamentalism is bad though.

    Here in Thailand, they block YouTube

    Wow, I have missed that! They must be banking on that tourists are otherwise occupied. But what will happen if water- and sandproof terminals gets popular? :-o

  51. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    The Pacifier:

    science does not believe in belief.

    Nitpick: it does. But it has a trustful method of validating its hypotheses. (And religion hasn’t.)

    But what you don’t need to see is faith. Instead you can derive trust from the successes of the methods, and you can hope that your specific hypotheses pan out.

    Kuhn

    Please don’t swear in the church of science. :-P When you can show us a “paradigm shift” as opposed to, say, developing new theories, you can call back. What you call “normal science” is as much provisional as whatever you think is non-normal.

    If you are trying to imply some sort of “punctuated equilibrium” following a new theory replacing an older one, that would certainly be a natural consequence of opening up a completely new set of predictions and related phenomena, albeit I would like to see evidence for that too.

    In reality all science at large goes through cycles there either theory or experiments will dominate, and cycles there productivity goes up or down. I doubt that a philosopher has happened to catch the complexity truthfully.

    In any case, philosophy isn’t how science study phenomena, not even methodological or social ones.

  52. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    The Pacifier:

    science does not believe in belief.

    Nitpick: it does. But it has a trustful method of validating its hypotheses. (And religion hasn’t.)

    But what you don’t need to see is faith. Instead you can derive trust from the successes of the methods, and you can hope that your specific hypotheses pan out.

    Kuhn

    Please don’t swear in the church of science. :-P When you can show us a “paradigm shift” as opposed to, say, developing new theories, you can call back. What you call “normal science” is as much provisional as whatever you think is non-normal.

    If you are trying to imply some sort of “punctuated equilibrium” following a new theory replacing an older one, that would certainly be a natural consequence of opening up a completely new set of predictions and related phenomena, albeit I would like to see evidence for that too.

    In reality all science at large goes through cycles there either theory or experiments will dominate, and cycles there productivity goes up or down. I doubt that a philosopher has happened to catch the complexity truthfully.

    In any case, philosophy isn’t how science study phenomena, not even methodological or social ones.

  53. Ray S says

    Yeah, yeah I know. All religions are basically the same, because all religions are wrong, and you know this because science tells you so. I’ve dealt with that tripe before.

    Actually it’s an induction. The famous example is ‘All swans are white’, which is falsified by finding a single non-white swan.

    The statement ‘all religions are wrong’ can be falsified by finding one which is demonstrably correct; Please enlighten us with your evidence.

    Likewise, those who object to PZ’s assertion that religious believers are ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish or oppressed need only identify an individual that requires the addition of a sixth category. While I haven’t followed every comment in every one of those threads, I don’t recall that happening.

  54. Christian says

    Example of a delusion :

    1. nature can be fully explained by science based on the standard model of particle physics. Therefore, the human brain for example is just a complex evolving assembly of atoms, ions, etc which interact via the 5 forces of nature (electromagnetism, weak, strong, gravity)
    2. there is no evidence for god, spirits and ghosts therefore they do not exist

    Why is it a delusion : a positive cosmological constant is a scientific fact.
    Check for example :
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0302/0302506v1.pdf

    The point is, we do not yet understand what causes this positive cosmological constant. The only thing we know for sure, is that whatever causes it (dark energy, phantom energy, energy of the vacuum, quintessence) dominates the universe and is homogeneously distributed. Also the percentage of this unexplained energy will continue to increase over time.

    There was a time when we believed the earth was flat, there was no evidence that it was different.

    I am not saying that this is the proof of the existence of God, Spirits and Ghosts.
    I am just saying that to call delusional someone who believes in the existence of God, spirits and Ghosts, is as much a delusion.

  55. Kagehi says

    I am just saying that to call delusional someone who believes in the existence of god, spirits and ghosts, is as much a delusion.

    Well, see… We have theories about what those as of yet undefined cosmological things *might be*, which are predicated on other **known** things. god, spirits and ghosts are predicated on well.. their own existence. There is no evidence to support the supernatural, no evidence to support psychic phenomena, no evidence to support **anything** that are required prerequisites for defining a starting point to even try to guess, never mine hypothesize or theorize about them. That is why believing in them is delusional. They are not based on any known facts, they are made whole cloth in the mind of the believers, to explain something for which they have ***no*** foundation to draw any real conclusions. The are, in this respect, no different than someone thinking that something bad *will* happen to them if they don’t touch every 4th. mailbox they pass by. There is no proof that there is a) anything special about mail boxes, b) anything more bad might happen to them if they don’t, than might happen normally, etc., but they still believe, in the sense of *faith* beliefs, that not catering to the delusion will cause them some sort of harm. The only real difference here is that we recognize two classes of disorder that exhibit this, (some might argue one, but I say two, as I will explain). The first is malfunction, where the mind just gets obsessive compulsive and **must** repeat those actions, in an unbreakable cycle. I would argue that the second is indoctrinated habit. One becomes so enamored to the idea that one **must** do or believe a thing that its very hard to break that habit. This is just a lesser, externally induced, form of the same condition. Its not any more based on logic than the former. However, in both cases, the mind invents “reasons” for why one *must* do certain things, and the more obsessed they are with it, the more excuses get invented to encourage the existing behavior. When its some nut touching every fourth mailbox, we *know* its not normal. When its some nut counting rosary beads every day, “To stop the ghosts from making the door creak at night!”, or some similar BS, we call it religion.

    Lets put it another way.. If you didn’t **start** with the presumption that ghosts, spirits or god *do* exist, why would #2 in your joke of an argument make any more sense than if I found some guy in a loony bin who stated, “Just because there is no evidence that the space aliens are trying to steal my brain doesn’t mean they don’t exist. After all, they can walk through walls and are invisible to all known forms of detection. They’re aliens!!” In fact, nothing at all.

    The real problem with ghosts, spirits, and gods isn’t BTW that there isn’t evidence, though that is a big one, its that people like you have for centuries been insisting that there **is** evidence, only to have science show conclusively, every time such “evidence” was presented, that it was either a) fake, b) incorrectly interpreted, c) too vague to prove anything at all, or d) non-existent (i.e., the defending of the idea just mysteriously decided to not show up with it when they said they would). You make a claim, you have to present evidence. This is so basic that even believers require it for *****EVERYTHING***** other than the three things you insist should fall outside that requirement. I am really unclear why this should be the case, other than reasons a-d, which tend to strongly imply that everyone that thinks they have seen any of them is either lying (a), too ignorant to figure out what they *did* see (b), blowing the supposed proof out of all rational proportion (c), or… well, lying (d).

    Show us the evidence. Or at least a theory that is actually based on real known facts, which are not part of the disputed issue already (i.e., you cant claim spirits are real, then insist that this logically means god is, since you have to *first* explain the spirits), and which **must** logically, due to there being no other better known and far better understood alternatives, lead to ghosts, spirits or gods.

  56. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Christian>/b>:

    The point is, we do not yet understand what causes this positive cosmological constant.

    That was a new way to argue from ignorance. :-P

    Aside from that we have several hypotheses currently awaiting proper tests and that the dark energy density (describing the cosmological constant) of the Lambda-CDM model in fact isn’t fully established at 3 sigma yet, what has our necessarily contingent and incomplete knowledge of facts to do with the delusional state of religions?

    It is delusional to believe in an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary. Inconsistent views can’t all be correct – and so at least 9999 out of 10 000 religions are delusional. Based on that fact (and furthermore the induction that religions are all delusional) it is delusional to think any particular one is correct without corroborating evidence. As noted by Ray and Kagehi.

  57. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Christian>/b>:

    The point is, we do not yet understand what causes this positive cosmological constant.

    That was a new way to argue from ignorance. :-P

    Aside from that we have several hypotheses currently awaiting proper tests and that the dark energy density (describing the cosmological constant) of the Lambda-CDM model in fact isn’t fully established at 3 sigma yet, what has our necessarily contingent and incomplete knowledge of facts to do with the delusional state of religions?

    It is delusional to believe in an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary. Inconsistent views can’t all be correct – and so at least 9999 out of 10 000 religions are delusional. Based on that fact (and furthermore the induction that religions are all delusional) it is delusional to think any particular one is correct without corroborating evidence. As noted by Ray and Kagehi.

  58. David says

    In response to #58:

    1. What do you count as evidence? Its obviously not testimonies, eyewitness or otherwise. Its not any philosophical argument. I think that the only evidence you would count would be scientific. So, what you are really asking me to do is prove the existence of the supernatural, using only natural things.

    This is of course, entirely fair and honest.

    2. If atheists follow the idea that “theistic belief = delusion” then obviously you will never find someone who needs a sixth category. This is not terribly surprising, or interesting.

  59. says

    To all the people complaining about how repetitive the video is, I bring Fred Clark, The Slackivist, on how to give a sermon: “Homiletics professors teach preachers in training to ‘Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.'” Apparently, a lot of churchgoers need this kind of repetition to make anything stick.

    As for anyone bringing up cousin Tom, for FSM’s sake, he’s a) a science historian who started out intending to become a scientist, and b) uses his ideas about paradigms to explore the limits of our ability to model reality. The kooks always try to make more of his ideas than they were ever intended to be. They also never seem to read anything he wrote except The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and they misunderstand that. If they’d read his other stuff, they might realize he’s not as anti-materialist as they make him sound.

  60. David says

    –“Homiletics professors teach preachers in training to ‘Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.'” Apparently, a lot of churchgoers need this kind of repetition to make anything stick.–

    Is it possible for an atheist to not insult a theist in a comment?

    Did you ever consider that the advice is just… good advice? Whether dealing with believers or not? Or is it just the case that atheists are smart enough that they don’t need such advice?

  61. says

    Is it possible for you to read a comment without making assumptions about the beliefs of the poster? I’m a pantheist. Fred Clark claims to be an Evangelical Christian, although no one’s managed to pin him down on his actual beliefs other than he’s not a Fundamentalist.

    Fred’s point is that there’s times when repetition is appropriate, and times when it isn’t. The main subject of that post is actually one of the occasions when it isn’t, as he shreds the novel Left Behind as an example of how NOT to write.

    My point was that if that’s what churchgoers are used to, they might not find it as intrusive as the commenters on this blog do. Also, please note that I said “a lot of churchgoers.” By no means did I mean to imply that all churchgoers are like that. Fred would be an example of one who isn’t. Unfortunately, the ones who are like that are prone to using memorization as a substitute for understanding. I dunno about you, but I find that I need fewer repetitions to remember something if I understand it.

  62. Caledonian says

    Is it possible for you to read a comment without making assumptions about the beliefs of the poster? I’m a pantheist.

    A stupid atheist, eh? You really ought to work on your terminology.