As I was told last night, it’s one of the rare times “reason” got some representation in that section. You can read it here — I’ve been on Calgary radio and newspapers this week, so I’m hoping it will draw out some opposition to my talk this afternoon — it would be great to get some argument going in the Q&A.
Sure wish the words were placed in their proper perspective and order:
“Reason and faith; State and church, etc. Nonsense should not be first in the classification order.
You have a typo in your post! Quickly, correct it… or the creationists will declare that it’s proof that evolution is a lie from Satan.
At least it should be written as “Faith OR Reason”.
Alberta is the Canadian equivalent of the American bible belt. Good luck.
On that same page PZ links to are a couple nice related links, among them this one to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
… discussing the book Darwin’s Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore (2009). [BTW — Has anyone here read through this one yet? I wonder how it relates to Desmond & Moore’s Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist from back in 1994]
I liked that you were careful to define “secular” in the sense of the term which entails neutrality — dealing only with the world and worldly questions, and putting religious ones to the side. As you put it, “public school classrooms must remain secular, free of proselytizing from all religious faiths and from non-believers, as well.”
Too often I see it used interchangeably with “atheism.” A more secular society will not necessarily be more atheistic. It would be less “religious” only in that any religious people — no matter how pious and devout — will agree that their beliefs about God are not going to be taken as common fact in the public square. Anything they advocate has to be sensible to people who don’t share their beliefs about God.
It’s a simple point, but I keep seeing it mucked up — by both sides. That’s dangerous, because calls for “secularism” in government and science are translated as calls for “atheism.” No. We argue for atheism, appealing to the individual through reason. We don’t demand that government and science take the position as the default, and assume there is no God.
Instead, it should assume that it doesn’t matter.
Matt Heath says
+1 on stressing the difference between “Secular” and “Atheist”. In a country like the US or the UK where no one religious denomination has a majority, any opposition to secularism ought to be a crazy fringe position. No one wants the other chap’s religion pushed on them.
We need a slogan: something like “Secularism means never having to say “Amen” to a heretic’s prayer”
wdcraft @ 5
Have not read Darwin’s Sacred Cause yet, but do have their earlier book as noted, and this is one of my favorite books on Darwin, in addition to Janet Browne. Worth reading.
Sastra @ 6
No, it does matter, as it is constantly invoked and demanded that the concept remains in the forefront of perpetual useless dialogue and wasted intellectual energy better spent on scientific and rational pursuit.
Mario Pineda-Krch says
Welcome to Canada. Edmonton is eagerly anticipating your visit.
#4 J. do you live in Alberta or are you getting your data second hand?
Matt Heath says
Holbach @#9: That’s a reason why religion matters to you (and to me). It’s not a reason why it should matter to the state. Quite the opposite in fact, since nothing will draw more intellectual resources to be wasted on religious matters than making them issues of the law.
Matt Heath @7–I LIKE it! It must be a bumper sticker!
+1 THAT’s what I would like to see on the side of a bus.
Lucky, Montana says
Oh please, swing down through Montana while you are so close. A voice of reason is sorely needed here. No problem bringing out the opposition in Montana.
Patricia, OM says
Wow, you are optimistic to the bone PZ if you think we will ever out number the gawdists in our lifetime. You are only slightly younger than I am, so we will get to see who’s right together.
That doesn’t mean I’m not ready for the fight! Bring gawd on.
“My faith justifies my reason; my reason justifies my faith”
— Greg Bahnsen
Yes we know. Facilis loves him some circular reasoning.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
C is for cookie it’s good enough for me.
— Cookie Monster
Peter M says
Enjoy Calgary. I’ve been visiting for over 30 years now and it wasn’t until 2002 that I realised it wasn’t completely snow covered the whole time. ;) (serious)
My brother is in the clutches of one of those fall down mouth foaming xian sects – not of his doing but his wife forced him into the marriage (pregnant at the time) and is holding his son hostage – the whole bunch of sick fucks have promised he will never see my nephew again if he leaves. I didn’t use my full name this time to offer him some protection. All he can do now is stay out of the house as much as he can. Poor bastard.
The last time I visited he had to sneak out of the house to phone me, and no chance of a face-to-face. That’s xian family values for you.
Give the lot of fucktards heaps for me pls.
Janine, Leftist Bozo says
Greg Bahnsen was a Christian Reconstructionist, there is to be no difference between “God’s law” and the government. He was an Orthodox Presbyterian minister.
Funny, Facilis seems to have great reverence for the early Catholic Church fathers but also cribs arguments from neo-Calvinists. Either way, Facilis shows himself to be the kind of person who desires to force people to live under his idea of a theocracy.
Not only is Facilis a deluded fool but under the wrong circumstances, he would be a very dangerous person.
He is no longer worthy of verbal abuse. The only thing he deserves is silent contempt.
I really hate it when people say that Alberta is the Bible Belt of Canada. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen anything as scary as your BB here in Alberta or Calgary. Yes some people who live here are Conservative but you don’t see them doing any where near the insane things that the same people in the States would do. I’m sorry but if you’re going to use generalizations please back it up. And yes living in the city commonly known as “Cow Town” does rile me up. And just to clarify yes I am an Atheist born bread and living open!
I will be there this afternoon and I’m looking forward to meeting some fellow Calgarian freethinkers. It’s sad that when I was trying to think of someone to invite along to this event I realised that most of my friends are either evangelical Christians or moderate Christians. I also have a few friends who are into a lot of new age woo, but I doubt they’d be much more receptive to reason. The one person I know of who says she doesn’t believe in God has also said that she “refuses to believe in evolution” because she “doesn’t want to believe humans evolved from monkeys”.
I honestly don’t remember whether or not we discussed evolution in high school, though I rather think we didn’t. I don’t think it was mentioned at all.
My company is paying for me to take a geology course at the moment, and I was thrilled to see that our textbook mentions evolution in the title and devotes an entire section to exploring the connections between biology, geology, evolution and plate tectonics. A few classes ago my prof got on a tangent about Darwin and Wallace and how the theory of evolution was developed and no one in my class argued about it! It was a new experience for me, and I just had to share it with someone.
The Dutch fundies are whetting their knives for the Darwin Year celebrations and plan to distribute 6 million leaflets across the country (hey, it´s a small country, 6 million is quite a lot over here), advertising their bullshit.
However, the Netherlands being one of the most secular countries in Europe (of people born since 1975, circa 75% are at at the least no longer affiliated to a church, most of these are practising, if not out-of-the-closet atheists), this will not go uncontested. The fight is on. In the Netherlands you can put a sticker on your mailbox, whether or not you wish to receive advertisements or unadressed mail (´no unadressed advertisements, yes to newspapers). A brilliant mind (damn, why didn´t I come up with that), made a ´no to creationism, yes to Darwin´ sticker to stick onto your mailbox. In Dutch: NEE Geen creationisme. JA wel Darwin. Check it out: http://www.neecreationisme-jadarwin.nl
Is there going to be a audio file sometime soon?
Facilis @ 17
My faith justifies my insanity
My death invalidates my unreason
Greg Bahnsen, deceased
D. Finch says
#22 Nicole: You’re not really riled up, are you? You know Calgary makes for an easy target (Red Deer even more so). Kinda like Toronto in hockey: it’s just comedic tradition.
I lived in Saskatchewan; Moose Jaw gets mocked all the time! Cow Town is actually not that bad. Toronto gets to be Hog Town, so…
Overall, the fundies in Canada are pretty tame compared to the US, Bible Belt or not.
Peter M says
Bugga Nicole :( I kinda love your town and give a good laugh to the locals when I ski around Banff.
Now I can’t get the image of shivering cows out of my head.
@27-28 No not really :D but I had some left over rage from dealing with 2012 BS and unused rage left to long goes bad quickly, and I got stuck working so I can’t see PZ’s talk.
Peter M says
Looks like I’m doubly damned Nicole. Half my family is in Calgary, half in Alabama and the other two thirds in oz.
This British Columbian (Lotus Land) thinks of Alberta as a Canadian Bible Belt, if only because of the Religious Right Members of Parliament that have been elected there.
That and those Dutch Reformed groups that keep exporting mumps, etc. because they reject vaccination.
So no, of course most Albertans aren’t infected with RR, MM and BB thinking. Still, you have more than your share of zits showing.
Rev. BigDumbChimp @19,
Your quote is much more meaningful than Facilis’, and while
I always enjoy your comments, I don’t appreciate the soda in my nose thanks to the spontaneous chortle. Try to be more considerate in the future, will you? ;)
I just came across these blog posts about “seeing the truth” in creationism. Not enough comments there yet
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
I apologize Tomecat. I’ll give fair warning in the future.
Really? How do you compare to the flour-and-water born kind?
@35 less chance to be tansubstantiated in to Jebus
#4 – “Alberta is the Canadian equivalent of the American bible belt. Good luck.”
You are highly mistaken concerning that so called fact. Only the immigrants go to church here.
Every year some kid says to my daughter at lunch ( it’s only one a year ) , “what church do you go to ? ” And every year her and everyone at the table rolls their eyes and say “none”. Then the wierdo skulks away to be alone.
PZ quote from the article:
Jon Stewart had a nice segment on the daily show last week about all the religious mumbo jumbo at the inauguration,it was quite astonishing.
They’re outbreeding us PZ ! Only thing that can reverse the trend and make society more secular IMO is education,education,education,and less homeschooling.
There was an interesting article in Free Inquiry last month, which argued that statistics and research show that religious belief was strongest in countries without good social support systems. This suggests that education is less important than assured health care.
What you get then is not a philosophical atheism which comes from a reasoned investigation of science, but a pragmatic atheism which comes from God’s irrelevance. For all the argument about reasons to believe in God — or not believe in God– what really seems to be most significant for secularization is people not being worried about losing everything if they’re sick or unemployed.
Uncertainty and anxiety also correlate with an increase in superstition. That, and religion, probably has something to do with a need to feel some control (which is ironic, since religionists often accuse atheists of needing to feel like they’re in control.)
Posted by: Nicole | January 25, 2009 1:44 PM, #22:
I thought I had met them all. Atheists who had been born into every sort of family. But this one is new to me.
Now tell me – sourdough? Rye? Garlic?
Posted by: clinteas | January 25, 2009 7:51 PM, #39:
Of course our leaders are aware of the problem.
Did you know many cephalopods produce hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of offspring each time they breed?
Did you also know that many geneticists frequent this site?
Got the picture?
Feel better now?
Very true.And since a pragmatic atheism is what is going to evolve if people can feel secure,many conservatives and religionists have no interest whatsoever in making people feel too secure.
I just got back from the talk in Calgary. Thanks, PZ, for the very entertaining and informative lecture and Q&A session. It’s true that some people believe that religion should have a special, unquestionable place in society – I doubt the guy who stormed out would have been so upset if you had been mocking political beliefs or his favourite hockey team.
p.s. enjoy the monkey.
I just got back from the talk. It was good and my son enjoyed it too. There was only one theatrical moment when one self-described “atheist, PhD scientist” waited until the end of the talk and all through the 10 minute pee break to the question period before erupting in staged self-righteous anger at the disrespect shown to the religious and stormed out in a huff.
If there were any creationists there they kept quiet and restricted themselves to dropping off a wildly incorrect handout of creationist claims. I felt like I had to correct the claims before rebutting them. e,g
Huh? 120 billion years? That’s older than the age of the universe. About 119.8 billion years before dinosaurs.
And this little gem
Oh my God, 8′ man-eating clams all over the world. I want one!
A lot of the talk and discussion revolved around whether atheists should ridicule the religulous. Let their words speak for themselves.
Arnosium Upinarum says
Hmmm. “Faith AND Reason”. As if the two are married.
I guess they figure they wouldn’t have much of a column if they called it “Reason & Reason”.
So “Faith” has some practical use after all.
As a potential foil.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Boo fucking hoo.
'Tis Himself says
So either eight foot high clams or an eight foot deep bed of regular clams grew around the world during the 40 days of the Biblical flood. Even for a creationist that wouldn’t pass the giggle test.
I always liked the idea of the omnipotent god trying to drown all the fish and clams of the world….in water.
I also liked the parallels drawn between religion and masturbation. Very apt.
rfguy #50 wrote:
PZ brought up the religion = masturbation analogy at a public talk? Heh.
Oooo. He is a very bad boy. I wonder that the only fuss was from an Atheist Butter (as in “I’m an atheist, but…”).
Not that I don’t agree — to an extent. It’s particularly apt in that it’s wise when doing both to keep it clear somewhere in the back of your mind that you’re not deeply involved with an actual partner. It’s really just you.
But if religion being compared to knitting sets folks off, they’re going to whine weepy and wax wroth over a comparison to masturbation. Wake up, Canada.
Other gems from the creationist handout:
Who knew that turkey guts could supply the US oil requirements – why is this being suppressed? Sarah knew what she was doing at that farm – eat more turkey.
Someone better tell the Australian tourist board
Wowbagger, Grumpy Minimalist says
You think GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, usually referred to as Guhbrumpa) might have noticed, since that’s pretty much all they exist to take care of.
I missed the creationist handout. I feel a bit left out, and a bit disappointed that there weren’t religious nutters at the talk shouting “My grand-pappy weren’t no monkey!” or “You athiests better accept Jay-sus or yule burn in Hell FOREVER!”. I could use a bit of entertainment now and then.
I guess if it was destroyed in WWII then all that concern about coral bleaching due to rising sea temperatures and bad farming practices is unfounded. The CSIRO really dropped the ball on this one.
Damn! I didn’t get the crazy creationist handout! It sounds like it’s much more entertaining than I thought it was. I’ve never heard of the 8′ man-eating clams before. Please post more excerpts for those of us who missed out.
How about this gibberish:
Now I’ve driven my car at over 100mph with many of its bits spin (e.g. wheels) and no things started to fly off.
I’ve broken the Law of Angular Motion! Don’t send me a ticket.
I hope the the Atheist Butter (nice phrase), who stormed out, is reading this. What respect is due to the imbecile who wrote that?
I live at latitude 33, so we revolve at about 900 mph. So far, nothing is flying off.
I’ve never read any of Banshen’s work on reconstructionism, but why don’t you like it?
Nerd of Redhead says
Facilis, given your showing of intelligence with your silly arguments, you wouldn’t be able to understand the answer. Why don’t you just go away and read the books. Maybe it will take you a few years. After all, you might have to learn what the words really mean in order to understand them.
More breathtaking inanity…
“The law of Gravity, the law of Centrifugal force, the law of inertia, Boyles Law, Coles Law. Why aren’t these laws evolving? they’re static”
Coles Law? – ROFLMAO. Coles Law states that, when dining out, either one person will eat all the sliced cabbage with mayonnaise, or nobody eats it at all.
There were several others, all familiar but the author got very confused about time. Apparently scientists can’t work with time units of less than a billion.
e.g. “Why are scientists still saying stalactites are millions and billions of years old…” – They don’t.
“If Red Giant stars evolve into white dwarf start over billions of years as evolutionists state …” – They don’t
“Thousands of children are, like their parents, being misled in school , being taught a “faith” that isn’t based on science. They are led to believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth billions of years ago” – Nope.
Janine, Leftist Bozo says
So dumb fuck likes to use a quote from a Christian Reconstructionist but never read anything by him.
But I will answer why I do not like people like Greg Bahnsen, people like me would be put to death under their rules. That is reason enough. Now fuck off you fool.
What in the world is this talking about?
Aside from gibberish aspect, I am curious about the “100 mph” claim. Why such a round number in mph? Given that the universe doesn’t have a natural base velocity system, it is remarkable that it just happens to come out at 100 mph?
Why not the limit in km/year? Parsecs/week? meters/sec is just too boring…
mph is in fact a really lousy general velocity measure.
It’s also not a unit of angular velocity. RPM, rad/s, deg/s, Hz might make more sense, but it’s clear that this fool does not have the slightest clue about any of the ‘proofs’ he provides. Yet has the audacity to present this list and claim ‘Science books in school do not present the facts … The Bible says many will be ‘willingly ignorant’ of God because they don’t look into the facts” and “HELP PROTECT SCIENCE”
From the 2001 Canadian Census
“About 37% of people in the Yukon reported they had no religion, the highest proportion among
the provinces and territories. It was followed by British Columbia (35%) and Alberta (23%). In
contrast, only 2% of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador reported no religion, the
lowest, followed by Quebec (6%).”
Calgary had 25% of their population reporting no religion whereas Toronto was 17%.
I thought I would post the Religion/masturbation quote here. It was new to me and sufficiently funny yet barbed.
PZ was referring to his quote in Expelled “Religion ought to be like knitting” – he said he would now put it as:
Religion ought to be like masturbation.
It feels good,
Lots of people do it,
Public exhibitions are inappropriate,
Doing it is not a qualification for office
Ritchie Annand says
I managed to grab one of those handouts from a desk where it had been left behind (Left Behind?) – I haven’t even been through the whole thing yet, but what an amazing load of crap.
They bring up the second law of thermodynamics – yet again – but instead of saying that the second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible, they take the tack that the energy required to build things would destroy them because there would be nothing that could properly absorb them. Or something. I should have brought it along to read for a laugh on transit. I mean, where do you even start?
I would love to know the story behind “atheist Ph.D.” guy. “I’m an atheist, and I have a Ph.D” before he proceeded to show how offended he was getting. I mean, there’s a flicker of a chance he was genuine, but who the hell opens up with their credentials quite like that? It comes across like those “I used to be an atheist” stories you hear where it’s just a caricature of atheism.
Is anyone going to be recording the debate up in Edmonton, by the way?
Ed Darrell says
I hope they mean faith AND reason, and not faith OR reason.
There are a lot of newspapers that have just a “religion” page, but I have yet to find one that just has a “reason” page. One more indication that non-reasoning religionists are exercising unholy hegemony over our culture and society.
The Bible tells us to reason together. Alas, Christians too rarely follow that verse.
Why not the limit in km/year? Parsecs/week? meters/sec is just too boring…
Furlongs per fortnight?
RE: Alberta as the Canadian Bible Belt
If you look at two Angus reid polls taken in 2007 and 2008 asking this question:
Which of these statements comes closest to your own point of view regarding the origin and development of human beings on earth?
Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years.
God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.
In 2007, 59% of Canadians agreed with the first statement, with 58% from Alberta agreeing with it (Ontario was lowest at 51%). 2008 tells a different story, 37% of Albertans agreed with Evolution, and 40% stated that we were created in the last 10,000 years.
The three, yes three, creation science museums in Alberta take credit for the change. I was wondering if there was some flaw in their methodology in Alberta.
The results are here:
Anecdotally, my first boss when I moved here from Saskatchewan told me he home schooled because “there was not enough religion in the private schools.”. My next door neighbour asked me which church I go to, coincidentally, he also loaned me a copy of Expelled.
To sum it up, you can make a case for Alberta being the bible belt of Canada.
It’s more of a Bible Thong than a Bible Belt. It doesn’t have much coverage up front but goes down deep in the rural areas.
Celia Posyniak says
The Calgary Herald’s “Faith and Reason” page was established several years ago when the paper was bought from Southam by Conrad Black. It went from being conservative, within reason, to right-wing Christian overnight. Intially, the faith and reason page was actually 2 to 3 pages and there was an almost daily photo of the pope, whatever he was doing. The day I stopped subscribing, page 3 of the first section, titled “Top News”, was almost entirely filled with some new discovery about Mary Magdalene. As a Canwest paper the Faith and Reason page has shrunk considerably, but some of the same right-wing nuts still own the editorial pages and it is one of the most predictably boring papers in Canada.
John Walker says
I’m glad you made it in there! I just moved away from Alberta and sure don’t miss “Faith and Reason”. It is simply astounding what is printed under the guise of “both sides of the story”. Unfortunately I’ve found that the papers are not much better in Vancouver, although they do have fewer pickup truck advertisements. I recently read a full-page, serious article about a man cured of flesh-eating disease after his family prayed for him. The most scientific sentence read (paraphrased to the best of my memory): “some people credit the antibiotics, but we know it was a miracle.”
I was able to attend most of the Edmonton debate, but could not stay for more than a couple of the Q & A’s. The event was co-sponsored by the UofA Atheists & Agnostics:
and the UofA Campus for Christ:
A girl I spoke to from CfC, said that they were doing the taping and that hopefully they would post it on their site.
The format was 20 minutes each for statements (KD went first), then 12 minutes for rebuttals, then I think it was 5 for closing statements before Q&A.
The event was well attended. Standing room only in 3 lecture rooms. AV was piped to two adjacent rooms. I’d estimate the crowd at around 1000.
Overall, I was quite disappointed in that the majority of the time by both PZ and KD was spent discussing Hawkes genes (PZ) and some gene bit variation probability theory?? by KD. PZ basically spent 5 minutes up front saying essentially, “Come on, this is the 21st century. Do we really need to believe in this crap.” Then compared a few creation mythologies, Norse, Vishnu, Scientology (good chuckle) and Xian. He left it at that and then started into what looked like a very interesting biology lesson, but he ran out of time before he got to the best parts.
KD’s opening was a hodgepodge collection of fundie apologetics (core athiest societies killed more, ID is everywhere really, the New T fulfilled Old T prophecy and other biblical self-referential drivel, blah, blah blah).
The funniest thing tho’, is that if I had the chance to ask a question it would have been: What would better explain both of your similar appearances, Dog’s creation or Darwin’s selection?
I swear, side by side they’d easily be mistook for brothers.
Kirk Durston pic at:
Wish I had a chance to meet you PZ. Keep up the good work.
Yikes! I feel like such a noob. That should be Hox genes, not Hawkes genes. Had only heard, not read about them. Should have walked up closer to the screen to read PZ’s slide.
Ritchie Annand says
I see PZ posted a little bit on the debate, and from that and the comments, it sounded like he came prepared to do battle on the biology grounds that Durston usually uses, but that Durston just launched into some full-scale apologetics, quote-mining included. It sounds like it was a little too bad that you did not get to stay for more of the Q & A, because Durston came across a lot more evasive.
I guess we really got the better PZ experience down here. It’s sad that it turned into self-referential value of religion versus value of biology.
*laugh* I can understand the misspelling if you’d only ever heard the term. I encountered them first as homeobox genes, so the abbreviation made more sense. They’re really neat, but I can see them being out of place in a debate like that.
I’ll look for the debate on the CfC site; thanks for the heads-up.
They spelled the first word, in the article, incorrectly.
John Phillips, FCD says
Well I can see the sense of comparing masturbation and religion, or at least to the supposed dangers of masturbation anyway. For while making you go blind was only meant to frighten one away from masturbation, religion does actually tend to lead to real intellectual blindness.