Good news from the University of Alberta » « An ugly debate in Edmonton David Attenborough gets mail David Attenborough and I have something in common: he gets hate mail from creationists, too! Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Good news from the University of Alberta » « An ugly debate in Edmonton
Dr. J says
Wow, Sir David pulls no punches, I’m a little surprised.
I do like the part about the worms, why is it that many creationist thing god only made the “good” stuff. Why not take credit for the ticks, mosquitoes, diseases and their vectors, etc.?
Sven DiMilo says
Dodos were so ugly that they must have been created by Satan; hence, kill ’em all.
Clenched-fist salute for Attenborough!
Upon reading the article my first thought was “Why am I not surprised at all?”
Once again, Monty Python is relevant to the discussion:
All Things Dull and Ugly
(To the tune of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’)
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spiky urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.
The tyranny of the petulant faithful and their rallying cry of, “I want you to die and burn in hell for not believing in my kind and loving God.”
I like Monty Python’s version of All Things Bright and Beautiful…
Let’s just say that it is not mere ignorance, but natural human arrogance.
I heard that story on the wireless this morning, and immediately thought of Phgaryngula :)
Watch Sir David’s next programme, “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life”, on BBC2, at 21:00 on Sunday.
Oops ….. I messed up a blockquote there.
I hereby promise not to laugh at the next twenty elementary HTML mistakes I see.
Dave Wisker says
Hate mail from Christians. LOL
But, if Christianity is true, why are Christians so angry? :)
Oh goody. Uncommon Descent is on the case!
And the recent edition of New Scientist warrants a mention too. Where’s the incredible hulk when you need him?
Iason Ouabache says
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Steven Dunlap says
The light-bulb switching on insight for me was when he mentioned the people who whine “People say to me: ‘What is a mosquito for? They’re no good for anything!’ I had failed to realize how much this dominionist view informs so much of the creationist’s thinking. Neither evolution in general nor Darwin in particular explains how all life serves us so of course it makes no sense to them and they reject it vehemently. I realize there’s definitely more to their malfunction than this, but this is a new piece of damage.
I’m also gratified (obviously) by his unknowing reference to the name of my blog [insert insufferable self-satisfied smirk here].
“But, if Christianity is true, why are Christians so angry? :)”
Because, Christianity is not about the Christian belief, but rather the Christian practice and “partisanship.” At least that is what I get so far.
It is worse than that. It is willful ignorance coupled with arrogance and the creationists and fundies are proud of it.
This brings to my thoughts a passage in Dawkin’s “Extended Phenotype” where he talks about how human intelligence is higher that it was earlier in evolution. He then speculates that it could still be under development, but that to base public policy on that would be wrong. Hearing about people like these hating creationists sometimes makes me wonder, although I know he is right.
This interview is much the same as those Sir David has given in the past months – BUT it comes at an excellent time where science is – at last – fighting back against the armies of ignorance.
It’s a shame that the dispute often comes down to a moral argument against God, though, isn’t it? As if that’s the only language that’ll appeal to creotards who don’t understand value-free scie…
… Oh, wait a sec…
“It’s like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five”
But but but … two plust two IS five! (for very large values of two! I have a T-shirt that says so, so it must be true!)
Glen Davidson says
I do think ID jumped the shark (to the extent that it still had any viability at all) when Behe credited “the Designer” (identified as god in DBB) for malaria.
He had some chutzpah in claiming malaria for ID, of course, but it’s so contrary to the sermons that IDiots/cretins are used to that they can never embrace the sermon that god gave us malaria.
Anyhow, whenever and wherever students are stuck hearing about the wonders of “the Designer,” may they be informed about the god who lovingly provided humans for worms and P. falciparum to live in and to feed upon.
David Attenborough Officially Rocks! :)
Lassi Hippeläinen says
Of course he deserves to rot in hell… for the way he treated Monty Python as a programme controller of the BBC.
He has always been one of my favorite people for obvious reasons, so I am not surprised that he gets hate mail from the religious insane blasting him for not mentioning or crediting their imaginary god. Good grief, can it be worse than we can ever imagine? Are we drifting back to the dark ages despite science? Can we ever stem the tide of religious insanity run amuck?
How utterly shocking. Don’t the Christians want to promote goodwill among men? Heh, and yet they seem to insist on sending as much death threats and hate mail as possible to a man who refuses to bow to their fictitious deity.
Fundies never cease to amaze me.
Matt Heath says
Wasn’t it him that green-lighted it in the first place?
Richard Harris says
Hey, come on, be fair to the hate spewing Creationists. With all the cognitive dissonance that they live with, it’s little wonder that they lose it when faced with rationality.
And 2 + 2 = 5 sometimes, depending upon whether or not there was rounding to whole numbers. (2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 => 2 + 2 = 5)
Dave Wisker @ 10: You’re new here, aren’t you?
Tess @ 21: IAWTC. He has been doing so to my socks for at least eighteen years.
David Attenborough is my hero, and probably the reason why I’m posting this from a Developmental Biology lab and not from some kind of youth mission somewhere.
Sir David Attenborough is very higly regarded with the British genral public – infact far more so than Richard Dawkins. It’s a real shame that given his age he has all but retired from broadcasting (present programme on Darwin excepted). The real shame is that no one looks even close to carrying on his broadcasting legacy for future generations.
It would be highly beneficial for him to do more of these type of interviews and to let his true thoughts continue to be made public.
Sir David, I respect and salute you………
Thank you Jesus for tapeworms, small pox, and hippies.
I kind of like hippies.
God is good and God is great
God’s a big invertebrate
— Boiled in Lead
Netflix has a TON of David Attenborough documentaries available for instant viewing. I recommend them. I’ve learned a lot from watching them!
Wow, I feel like I’ve been having a quick draw competition with PZ the last couple of days – I think I posted mine first today! With a video interview to boot!
“They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance,” Sir David said during an interview with the Radio Times about his latest documentary on Charles Darwin and natural selection.
I’ve seen this before many times: A scientist patiently and politely explains some of the massive evidence for evolution to a creationist. In the end the creationist always says something that can be translated to “There’s no evidence for evolution and my invisible friend is going to torture you.”
Naughtius Maximus says
David Attenborrough is the best person to have as the public face of evolution, he was recently voted the greatest living Briton.
One of the things I love about Sir David is his vocal delivery. He could read the phonebook and make it sound fascinating.
Shadow Caster says
There’s that ego of yours again…
I just love that his brother was given lordship over my hometown. Moving to Texas they would never let a pair of Atheists gain such prominence.
Strangest brew says
“If the Darwinists have their way then science can Rest in Peace for another 150 years with the sacred Darwin religion held sacred in its place.”
A lot lot longer then that methinks…you can misrepresent Evolutionary theory all you want you can denigrate and insult anyone that does not share your precious delusion…you can lie…you can twist… you can wriggle for all your little black heart desires but in the end….you will have to live with it retard!
I came to a realization last night. We all know how the religiots like to claim that we can’t have morals without God, apparently that goes for freedom and love too. The freedom claim came from a religiot on the forum attached to yesterday’s cartoon, the love claim from a church sign I passed driving home last night. But anyway, the realization I came to is this: I think another reason they want to make people believe in creationism (or at least not believe in evolution) is so they can say “you only have life because of God”.
David Attenborough is a National Treasure. As is Prof Dawkins. :)
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. says
Attenborough is more than a National Treasure; he is a Planetary one! He has done great work himself, and by his inspiration to others, in increasing our understanding of the world around us and what we can do to help.
He does, indeed, rock!
I’m busy watching the BBC’s “Planet Earth” series on Blu-ray at the moment. Stunning, spectacular, awesome, and other adjectives. We live on such an amazing planet, I don’t understand why the xtians have to reduce it all to “goddidit”.
I’m sorry Sir David Attenborough is getting hate mail. I think a lot of him because he has done so much to educate and inspire people about nature and care for the environment.
Matt Heath says
I’m not sure Dickie is godless.
Why? Because that’s what happens when lack of education and lack of imagination come together in one exciting package.
phantomreader42 @ #4
You’re gonna get yo’ ass dungeoned posting filth like that:
“Each beastly little squid”, indeed!
Reading about Attenborough made me think back to my youth and about those whom influenced my interests in wildlife. One of the first to come to mind was Marty Stouffer. That caused me to do a little research. I never realized until now about the controversies surronding his “documentaries”.
I also used to love “Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins. Ah, well.
“Oh goody. Uncommon Descent is on the case!”
Yeah, and the Christian morality on display is inspiring:
“There is no excuse for Christians to send hate mail to anyone, not least because Attenborough can milk it for all its worth and avoid drawing attention to the real hate campaign against those who reject the orthodox Darwin dogma – such as has been exposed in the Expelled film.”
See, hate mail is bad because it’s bad PR, not first and foremost because it’s un-Christian.
Why did I go there? Why?
G. Tingey says
But, if WE lose OUR tempers with these vile bigots, becvause we’ve had enough of their blackmailing lies …
They go all holy-apeshit and start condemning the “evil atheists”.
P.S. Got the DVD’s of: Planet Earth / Life in COld Blood / Life of Mammals over Yule ….
In this era of mindless 24/7 regugitated crap that the likes of Fox and ITV throw out, David Attenborough’s programmes are a joy to behold. If the BBC licence fee were to exist for no other reason than to allow these programmes to be shown then I would remain one very happy Englishman.
– JBS Haldane.
Speaking of Attenborough, have you ever laughed at something until you’re embarrassed by how much you’re laughing at it? I did that with this: http://www.oldeenglish.org/podcast/i-hate-nature
The Uncommon Descent site criticizes David Attenborough’s fervent support of evolution by calling it religious.
I agree with their insult, partly. I agree that it IS insulting to call someone religious when they think they are being scientific. Never mind that Intelligent Design proponents are exactly that. It seems that somewhere deep down they realize that religious belief is not as impressive (or valid) as scientific belief.
Oh, irony. Sweet, sweet irony. I think it is even better when it is apparently lost on those involved.
C. L. Hanson says
We are huge fans of Sir David Attenborough at our house!!! We have so many nature documentaries of his that I can’t even count them. He’s easily my son Nico’s favorite celebrity. Nico made his own documentary (inspired by David Attenborough) that I linked to here.
We recently bought a set of programs that contained a fascinating retrospective of Daivd Attenborough’s “Life on the Air,” in which he talked about exactly this point (creationists complaining that he doesn’t credit God) — including the worm example.
Um, I’m not American…
Sven DIMilo says
Kraid (@52): Pretty funny link, thanks. (Even if the last joke was a direct Carlin rip-off.)
Attenborough is, of course, absolutely right; his remarks are an excellent riposte to the common religious argument “look at all the beauty around you: God must have created it!”, an argument I found vacuous and unconvincing even when I was a believer.
It’s particularly frustrating when I think of the second verse of one of my favourite hymns:
When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze,
Then sings my soul, my saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
But if God created the woods and mountains and forest glades, He also created the cancer cells, and the fleas, and the tapeworm, and the influenza virus.
And my acceptance of this fact is very, very depressing. You see (and I realise this is an incredibly heretical statement to make in a forum full of biologists and nature enthusiasts), I have no real interest in the physical and natural sciences, or in evolution. Despite being British, I have never watched an Attenborough documentary. I just don’t find it very exciting. Maybe I have an underdeveloped sense of the aesthetic; but I can’t help that. I don’t see any beauty in cold, hard scientific fact.
In contrast, I love hymns, religious ritual, churches, and all the other trappings of orthodox Christianity. Mere human vanity, perhaps. But that’s what I love. And I wish I could believe in a loving God. But, rationally, I can’t.
Am I just foolish and weak-minded, to have this desperate longing for religion?
Apologies for accidental double post.
Indeed. Sir David has been making nature documentaries since before I, and I suspect most Pharyngulites, were born (1954).
@Lassi, #22 : Not quite sure what you meant there. Is that sarcasm?
Glen Davidson says
Not on all of them, I suspect. They are trying to claim to do science, because they know it’s more credible than religion, and to call science religion, because they know that religion is less credible than science.
Ironic that they admit religion is bollocks? Yes. Does it nevertheless work on their marks? Yes. They know their marks are not able to distinguish between the two, and they (at least the brighter ones) deliberately confuse the two simply because they’re engaged in propaganda. Their actual hatred of science comes through well enough to please the hatred of science that their dupes also have, so it’s a matter of having their cake and of eating it too–despising science while claiming that science is religion, and that religion is science.
And, since they neither can, nor intend to, do science, confusing religion and science is all that is available for them to do. Oh yes, and whining about “persecution,” which again is only credible even to the suckers if science is “religion” or “ideology.” Stupid it is indeed, however it’s also deliberately dishonest on the part of some of them.
Irony is a small price to pay for corraling and soaking a herd of naive buffoons. Many of the latter do show up here, apparently oblivious to the irony, while others understand all too well, and simply use whatever weapons they have, including their blatant dishonesty.
Matt Heath says
I wouldn’t say “heretical” but seriously why do you keep coming here?
You (PZ and Mr Attenborough) obviously need some of these: http://www.goohf.com/
Sir David is certainly one of the most important popularizers of science and his reply to all the creationist hate mail is excellent, except for one part which I think he should not have said.
Somewhere in the article he mentions that (I´m paraphrasing here) evolution is a fact and not a theory. Indeed, evolution is a fact, but it is also a theory. Phrasing the sentence the way he did in the article makes it seem like the definition of “theory” misused by creationists is the correct one and that theories are nothing more than weakly supported speculations.
Apart from that, the interview was a perfect reply to the creationists, especially the bit about worms in eyeballs.
I suspect religious folk are jealous of those with a scientific viewpoint because our reality is so forthright. Having to gather together at least once a week to pray to a deity to reinforce their reality in the face of all the empirical data can make anyone grumpy.
David Attenborough? Where have I heard that name before?
Oh, yes! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmul3sYBXbw
Fred Mounts says
PZ’s recent comments concerning insults and profanity didn’t apply towards Walton, did they?
Walton, find a non-biology, non-atheism blog to visit. You don’t fit in at all here!
Walton @ 58
Your last sentence sums up your inability or refusal to slough off religion from your life as is obvious in not only that definitive sentence, but also in your manner of using opposing statements that meander all over the board of insincerity and pathetic doubt. Your desparate longing for religion will forever entrench your foolishness and weakmindeness. I suggest you remand yourself to a monastery for the duration of your life, as you will be among like-minded individuals who have ceased to question a life unsullied and made uneasy by reason. You are hopeless.
Patricia, OM says
Does anyone know what that walking artichoke creature is called? It’s fantastic, I’ve never seen one before.
The Dean of the Biology Department back when I was at University used to go off on rants about how jealous he was of Sir David Attenborough at the drop of a hat. He used to describe Sir David’s job as being shipped to the most exotic and beautiful places on Earth to have orgasms of discovery right there on camera.
Sven DiMilo says
Patricia, that’s a pangolin.
Ted Dahlberg says
Not entirely sure but I think it might be a pangolin.
Blue Fielder says
Hateful, violent mail because he won’t give Magic Sky-Man credit during a damn nature show.
Yep, more good Christian love in action, there.
Can we do something non-violent but effective about these people, PLEASE?
Yep, it’s a Pangolin.
I think that it is a mistake to discourage people like Walton. He has not been rude or disrespectful to the people here. We should encourage such folk to stick around. Maybe the thrill we all find in the natural world will eventually rub off. Not all people out there are distinctly athiests or religious nuts. Many are in between trying to figure things out. We do a disservice to the interests of science by not welcoming people like Walton. Personally, though an athiest now, it took me a long while to get here. And I still think Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass is one the most beautiful pieces of music written.
Walton, I wouldn’t necessarily say you’re foolish–a lot of people find comfort in ritual and tradition. The fact that you realize there are problems with your religion means you’re actually contemplating it (which is more than can be said of many people). The fact that you read this blog would also indicate that on some level you ARE interested in biology, evolution, and/or atheism. Don’t be afraid of leaving the shackels of religion behind–in your case it sounds like that would mean the end of lying to yourself and others about what you believe, and that is truly liberating.
Can we do something non-violent but effective about these people, PLEASE?
The “B” Ark?
Eric @ 75
If Palestrina’s composition was titled “Thought’s On Losing a Loved One In Spring”, would you like it as well? Beside the right assemblage of notes, Music is content, and as such, determines our affinity to it, and which in turn describes our choice for the meaningful content. The title is devoid of any mention or inference to religion, whereas Palestrina’s original work is all religious and therefore compelling to people so disposed to its content. My opinion as an atheist, in which I abjure all things religious, and which the usual rejoinder of liking it for the music irrespective of its religious content is meaningless to me.
currie jean says
#68 – What the crap, Holbach? How can you possibly justify being such a jerk in response to someone’s honest explanation of their admittedly subjective feelings? I thought we were supposed to reserve our rageful outlashings for those who deliberately misrepresent and deny facts, not for those who just happen to, somehow, enjoy church music.
If only MORE ‘religious’ people could recognize that there’s a difference between enjoying an aesthetic and believing that the associated tenets are true.
currie jean @79
Yes, and my honest explanation as offered as a difference of opinion. He has every right to like such religious music, and I have every right to offer a rebuttal to which I do not agree. Not being a jerk, but exercising pure subjective and objective feelings, and to whci I remain adamant personally and will respond as well. Of course bravo to Walton as you so inherently quipped. Yes, crap it is, and will remain so.
Lassi Hippeläinen says
“@Lassi, #22 : Not quite sure what you meant there. Is that sarcasm?”
Someone mentioned Monty Python, and I thought to remind that Sir David (though not yet Sir at the time) was personally involved in the show. When it was aired for the first time, it didn’t get a regular time slot. Some parts of it were even broadcast in a slot that local stations were allowed to override with local programmes. As if the management didn’t want it to become popular.
To Attenborough’s credit, he was smart enough to notice his error. In a BBC party he even came to Michael Palin to talk, “being one of those responsible for the repression”. Palin wrote in his diary: “The giant had been stung!”
They got a regular time slot. So maybe Sir David will burn in hell only for a short time.
El Herring says
I’ll stick up for Walton too; he may be confused as to what he really thinks or believes, but at least he’s making an effort to communicate his thoughts, which is a brave step forward. I remember some of his earlier posts which were much more confrontational; seems he’s mellowed recently.
Walton – please keep posting and disregard the insults. It sounds to me like you appreciate and enjoy the religious rituals (which is no bad thing in and of itself) but you are not taken in by the actual message behind it all. In my opinion you are exactly the sort of person who should be posting here, giving us insights into how you feel about your beliefs (or lack of them), and seeking guidance. I admire your honesty. Please continue.
How does one “inherently quip”?
Leslie in Canada says
I would encourage Walton to watch “The Trials of Life” since it is such absorbing and dramatic stuff. I still think about episodes from it now, years later.
James Stephenson says
Just a little hit and run trolling.
PZ seems to be becoming as much of a joke as Dawkins.
“The debate topic — Does God Exist? — was agreed upon beforehand, and well-publicized. Even if Myers didn’t feel it was his “area of expertise,” he should have had at least some advance knowledge of the topic, and thus should have opted out of participating if in fact he is the honest man he kind of attempts to claim he is in his own brief comments on the debate. It’s good to admit when you feel you aren’t qualified to discuss the matter at hand…but not on the day of the event, in the lecture hall, after the start of the event itself.”
El Herring @ 82
Walton’s opinions on his ability to make up his mind on religion have ceased to be called insights, but should be regarded as the inability to be forthright. He will absorb nothing rational from us, and we will definitely learn nothing from him. Will he instruct us further in matters of religion of which we are assumed to be ignorant? I never doubt or question his decency and morality, but he can not discourse on a subject to which he will not ascribe to, namely the ability to think and reason that a belief in a god is human created, and therefore also uncreated, given the obvious and blatant facts.
currie jean says
Holbach, you keep saying that word, “feelings.” I do not think it means what you think it means.
You made numerous statements describing someone else’s personality, you predicted his future, and you told him what to do. This did not demonstrate your feelings. Rather, it was a series of unsupported postulations about the objective world.
To make a statement about some property of the objective world, and then defend it by saying “that’s just my subjective opinion, based on feelings [so you can’t criticize it],” is exactly the tactic a great number of religiots use to evade criticism for what they say about god. It confuses the subjective and the objective.
Further, you ignored the fact that one’s feelings need not determine any of their behavior or their beliefs if the subjective is recognized as such – as was very obviously done in Walton’s case.
And what the hell, by the way, is an “objective feeling”?
While I’m at it, how does one “inherently quip”?
Thony C. says
Sending hate mail to David Attenborough is like sending hate mail to Father Christmas!
Bill Dauphin says
I agree. Walton may hold opinions many here can’t abide, but unlike the usual trolls, he seems to hold them — and discuss them — honestly… and how can honest engagement with ideas we dislike do us (or Walton) any harm?
As for your longing for hyms, rituals, etc., Walton, it doesn’t dismay me: Ritual and ceremony has an inherent appeal to many, independent of what it celebrates, and hymnody is a genre of music, as capable of rising to greatness as any other. You don’t have to be sad to love the blues, and you don’t have to be religious to love “How Great Thou Art” or “Amazing Grace.”
And BTW, when you consider how many cultures and eras have been dominated — if not actually ruled — by religion in one form or another, it’s hardly surprising that a significant fraction of the great works of art, music, architecture, etc., have been religious in nature. It would be wrong to look away from beauty because its creators were under the thrall of a false idea.
Matt Heath says
Mw@62 Just to be clear, I didn’t mean to imply above that I have any problem with Walton posting here. I’m just generally curious about what keeps him here, if he doesn’t like the science, or the politics, or the religion-bashing.
Walton: I’ll echo some of the above here. If craving the trappings of religion is foolish or weak then it is at least a form of weakness or foolishness that plenty of smart and strong people have had. For my own part I’ll confess that “Amazing Grace” can bring a tear to my eye and that I’m always up for looking old churches.
One tip: don’t identify science with “cold, hard facts” on a science blog unless you are deliberately meaning to provoke. Put into Tory-speak (just for you), it would be like me going over to Iain Dale’s place and telling them I’m not really interested in their bigoted, exploitative ideology.
Glen Davidson says
The UD “response” is precious, with the author (Andrew Sibley) complaining about hate mail from Xians because it detracts from “the real hate campaign against those who reject the orthodox Darwin dogma – such as has been exposed in the Expelled film.”
Uh, yeah, IDiot, Expelled is virtually nothing but an attempt to stoke a delusional, dishonest, Godwin’s-law invoking hate campaign against biological science. Otherwise, the film would have used facts, not sledgehammer attempts to associate science with Nazis.
OK, that’s all obvious, but I just thought they oughtn’t get away with it just because it’s such a boring, repetitive false charge, with no attempt to legitimately back it up.
currie jean @ 87
I’m not going to belabor the post here forever, but make it short and then move on:
My objective feelings were presented without distortion of my personal feelings and stated as such. You can choose the several dictionary meanings to which I meant as written.
Your inherent quip, “Bravo Walton” was meant to convey that Walton was to ignore my remarks and just keep on as you will be proven right in spite of what Holbach states. All summed up in “Bravo Walton”, not stated, but definitely inherent to the remark. How’s that?
Matt Heath says
Holbach@92 “How’s that?” erm well it’s clear now what meant by “inherent quip” although it is still incorrect usage inherent. Nothing is inherently inherent; it has to be inherent to something.
“Objective feelings” is as opaque as ever.
And calling a stranger “hopeless” and saying he has “ceased to question” when he’s actually talking about something he has changed his beliefs about after hearing arguments (you remember the old, god-botting Walton, right?) is, in fact, being jerk.
Matt Heath says
@me: “usage inherent”mapsto”usage of “inherent””
Stupid Muphry’s law.
currie jean says
Holbach, I think I’ll just look at you strangely from here on out. The nonsensical windbaggery is hurting my brain. I shouldn’t have to work this hard to translate your statements into common english.
So, I won’t.
'Tis Himself says
Walton is a bright, naive, priggish, 19 year old virgin. He’s in college and rather proud that he’s an Oxbridge student. He’s away from Mummy and Daddy for the first time, and he’s unsure of himself. He thinks he wants to be a rugged individualist, hence his fascination with libertarianism. He loves humanity but he isn’t too sure about people. He’s afraid of what real life will be like.
He likes the people here because most of us are intelligent, educated, and good writers. However, most of us are atheists and he hasn’t made up his mind whether he wants to be an atheist or not. Being an atheist would make him better fit in here but he doesn’t quite want to get rid of the religious security blanket.
Just my 2¢.
currie jean @ 95
What you wish to translate into common english is perhaps beyond your ken to get at what I mean to convey. As for looking at me strangely, I am left unmoved by your inability to consider anyone with different viewpoints as a strange breed. Perhaps you should work harder. After all, I don’t work hard at evaluating people who cannot comprehend me; they speak for themselves.
Grendels dad says
OK tisHimself, now do Holbach.
Patricia, OM says
Thank you #72 – Ted Dahlberg, and #74 SomeClone for answering my question about that wonderful creature.
I don’t think Walton is getting too much grief from Holbach. Walton is whining again. If Walton is going to be a atheist he had better get ready to take much worse abuse than an occasional skewering by Holbach.
OHHHHH I so want to send mail or e-mail to Sir David Attenborough. He has had a tremendous impact on my life (I’m the only person interested in nature/geology/biology… in my family and he’s ‘to blame’) and now my son who’s seven years old will watch our DVD with Sir David Attenborough about fossils on his DVD player alone, though he does not understand ONE word of English. We’ve been fossil-hunting last summer (with LUCK!) because of him. I want to say thank you. Love mail – not hate mail. Does ANYONE know where I can send the man a card/letter?
currie jean says
Of course, Holback. It’s not that you’re deliberately, evasively unclear, it’s that I’m an idiot. Thanks for stating it so clearly.
Felicia Gilljam says
That’s where you’re going wrong. Facts are not cold and hard. Who said they were? The stuff I presume you find – or are searching for – in religious rituals, I find in what you’ve just described as cold and hard. I find it in my knowledge of the natural world. I walk into a forest and it’s a cathedral, not just aesthetically, but a cathedral of knowledge. I see every being around me, I know how they work, I know the process that shaped the system over billions of years – how can this not fill me with a profound sense of awe? How can this be called cold and hard? And why the hell would I need religion and all its trappings when the universe is so much bigger and more awe-inspiring?
Facts are not cold and hard in themselves. You’ve made them so, by believing they are.
Matt Heath says
currie jean@101: In many ways Holbach is a lot like the Christian conception of god. If we don’t understand him, or we think he is being a jerk, it is our failing.
Peter Ashby says
Ah yes, mosquitos and humans. And chickens. I once cloned a gene from a chicken, it was not what I was after (damn sloppy 3-prime RACE kit). I BLASTed it at the database and it hit two other organisms, only two. H. sapiens and Anopheles gambiae, the malaria mosquito. Two organisms with a long history of close association and a vector. The mouse sequence was on the database at the time.
Sadly no time, no money so it got binned. I never did get out of that degenerate pcr fragment.
Felicia – Facts are not cold and hard to you (or to me, for that matter). At the same time a lot of people, myself included, would find a mental world of nothing but fact to be seriously lacking. Creative art, of all kinds, is missing from that world.
I can see how, relative to the creative experience (creating and enjoying what is created), facts might feel cold and hard. Some people feel warmth while absorbing the beautiful facts about the world, while others don’t feel that same warmth unless some element of subjective humanity – arts, including religious arts – is included.
Texas Reader says
If I die and find out there IS a god, I’m going to tell him I am royally pissed about the migraines and endometriosis he stuck with me.
I suppose I may just be overly obtuse, but I have no idea why Walton’s post is being characterized as whining.
He starts by agreeing with Attenborough’s point that if God is responsible for the beautiful, he is also responsible for the ugly.
He then espouses a personal opinion that he does not find beauty in nature, and finishes by stating that the church aesthetic is highly pleasing to him (even though he does not buy in on the tenets). He’s maybe being overly expositional, but that’s different than whining. Perhaps you disagree with his sense of aesthetic, but that is a wholly different thing.
Myself, I grew up attending church. Southern Baptist when I was younger, and one of the more Evangelical varieties in my teen years. I continued attending for a couple years after I stopped believing completely; mainly because I enjoyed the hymns (church was the only place I could sing without being told how horrible I was at singing). I never got into the other rituals, mainly because they felt pretty empty even attended by a church full of believers.
Walton: In a word -no.
What religion can provide is what we all seek as humans. The social aspect/snse of belonging to a community, theatricality/ritual, the (false) sense of certainty, the hierarchy of authority and the apparent benevolence from a state of altruism or vengefulness of passing moral judgment which is known as “righteousness” in some circles.
All religions that worship gods are based on a false premise. What makes religion malignant is the power men to use it as a tool to control others and rationalize forced assimilation and acts of retribution.
Religion promises an imaginary final goal that any idiot can attain if he/she just obeys the laws of the church/temple/shrine AND it declares that you have a preordained purpose (you just have to look for “signs” of God’s plan). The realization that you are responsible for finding meaning and purpose in your life is daunting because it’s easy to waste your life as a wage slave and provide little benefit to mankind at large.
I’m firmly convinced that people who have careers in science have an easier go of it than other disciplines because their life’s purpose is easier to reconcile. Working for the greater good for the betterment of humans, animals, the ecology is better than creating bird cage liner in the form of sales ads or manning a kiosk at the local mall.
The need for woo, for certainty and uncertainty, is not a weakness so much as very human trait – the longing for comfort in the idea that some preconceived plan from an all-powerful parent will absolve us of being victims of circumstance if we’re good and punish us when we’ve been naughty and more importantly, punish those people who aren’t like us. Religion allows us to be children in perpetuity.
It was very hard for me to let go, even when I realized christian ideology was irrational and illogical. I had been to trained to believe in that oddly Santa-esque deity who spied on every action and craved absolute obedience though he himself never appeared, and I still find myself in a magical thinking mode when things appear too coincidental, but it wanes and I move on.
You have to acknowledge that you’ve been programed by people you were taught to respect and trust, who used the most powerful tools in the human psychological arsenal: guilt and shame. We always hear about guilt, but it’s shame that produces the most insidious effects.
Overcoming this is a huge challenge. (Hint: it still resurfaces from time to time and I can feel it with the same intensity as I did when I was younger).
You have to find your own way, Walton. Just don’t base your life on a false premise, and learn that you are responsible for your own happiness. You’ll be fine… or not.
Patricia, OM says
Paul – I accused Walton of whining because he’s been on about this for months.
Patricia – It was an existential crisis for me. It took years to rid myself of the final vestiges of religion long after I dismissed God as a human construct.
Weird. I just now read #2 on the Good News from the University….
'Tis Himself says
I can look at the blue sky and appreciate it. My appreciation is enhanced by knowing that the blueness is caused by Rayleigh Scattering. My present desktop wallpaper is this picture of an annular eclipse. It was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for two days ago and it’s not only a beautiful photograph but it’s a fascinating astronomical phenomenon.
I cannot understand those people who believe that knowing the “cold, hard facts” about something somehow detracts from the aesthetics. They look at something and say “That’s cool! But I don’t want to know about why and how it’s neat, that would spoil the coolness.” I look at the same thing and say “that’s cool because…!” and the explanation enhances the coolness.
Walton #57 wrote:
I recently found an old journal I’d been keeping in college, lo many years ago. In it, I’d written “I don’t like science.” I was an English Literature major.
I’ve changed my mind — in part, because I slowly discovered that the scientific approach and understanding manages to tie us humans and our concerns into nature, as one consistent whole. There’s beauty in that — because you lose the either/or dichotomy. Either you’re into soft, warm facts, or cold, hard facts. Not so. They can be drawn together, because anything that is real belongs together.
In a sense, science — and atheism — forces you to become a poet. It broadens our understanding of beauty, and love, and sacrifice. And I think that it’s possible that a lack of belief can increase an appreciation for wonderful old churches and hymns. They’re part of our human heritage, and can be approached on a more mature level.
God isn’t real, but what it represents is real. It’s a bit like finding out that Santa Claus doesn’t “really” exist. The fact that it’s a myth symbolizing human kindness and generosity makes it better, not worse. The human actions beat Santa Claus. If you need it to be genuine magic, then you’re not a poet, you’re a literalist, and have gone too small.
currie jean @ 105
Of course you would include religious art as I expected, and this only confirms what I think about you and your useless ideals. What is religious art, beside the artists application of paints or oils to a canvas? The representation and portrayal of nonexistence nonsense that pretends at great art. It is nothing of the sort. A painting of a tree is real; a painting of an angel is superstitious nonsense, and only the ignorant and boring observer can feign over it as something to be admired. It takes more than education, taste, and critical acumen to determine was is good and great art. Religious art is devoid of all the stated conditions as it represents the mind’s attempt to portray something that does not exist. If someone told you that they believe in angels, you would probably consider them irrational. Yet if they admired a painting of the very thing you excoriated them about, you would probably exclaim them to exhibit good taste in art. Divided opinions should not be applied to such tasteless crap. My opinions just seem to get stranger, don’t they? I am willing to bet that I have more knowledge and enjoyment of Art, Music, Architecture, and the many other creations of the human mind and hand than you have or will ever have. Strange indeed. Go back to your religious art. I’ll stick with Vermeer, Corot, Boucher, Watteau, Fragonard, and Monet and all the others who had no need or inclination for that religious claptrap. I’ll ally my strangeness with them anyday, than even consider your pathetic choice.
Walton wrote, “Am I just foolish and weak-minded, to have this desperate longing for religion?”
Yes, you are. However, you are young and you are looking. I still have hope that you will drop your mental shackles.
I have abused Walton on this blog, argued with and insulted him, but have to admit that he keeps coming back to talk and I have come to the conclusion that he is trying to learn. Walton, dear boy, I still believe that you are often a priggish little twit, but you have courage, intelligence, and a chance to be intellectually, mentally, and morally free. I encourage you to keep trying. That said, you do whine a bit and we all need a rest from that.
I am not joking when I suggest you get drunk or get laid, get out more, get your heart broken and break someone’s heart if that be in the cards. I am a historian by inclination and training and the home office in which I currently sit is literally clogged with books. I love books, love my field (and dip my toes in others), love to argue and debate the facts and the theories they raise. However, and this is the big however, I get out to plays and movies and redneck bars and classical concerts and reggae nights at Coconut Joe’s on the beach after a day of strolling, sunning, swimming. Hell, I will be a heretic and admit that I even like some TV and the old Clint Eastwood westerns. I will be in London again in late Feb and will haunt both the British Museum and several low life pubs. It is called life. Get out and get some. I will even buy you a sherry if you cannot abide beer.
JeffreyD: The old “vice is nice” line of argumentation, I see. Sláinte!
currie jean says
A painting of an angel is not superstitous nonsense. It’s fantasy, and fantasy (a necessary part of fiction) can be a LOT of harmless fun, and can even be educational and enlightening once symbol and metaphor get involved. Claiming the painting represents ACTUAL REALITY is superstituous nonsense.
Holbach, you’re acting like you emerged from your mother’s vagina with a hangover and two days of stubble, you pompous goofball. Lighten up.
Holbach #114 wrote:
I think you’re confusing art with forensic photography.
Whether angels (or unicorns or the gods on Mt. Olympus) actually exist or not isn’t as significant in art as what they represent, how they’re depicted, and how they allow us to see the world and ourselves in new ways. A painting of a tree is not the “real” tree. Is it good art if the tree really looked like that, and bad art if it didn’t?
Angel art may be cheesy (and often is), but it can also be sublime. As a professional artist, I’m sometimes asked how I can be an artist and an atheist, as if aesthetics required supernatural assumptions. It doesn’t. It only requires an ability to look below the surface of things, and how they seem.
Patricia, OM says
JefferyD – I gave Walton the same advise some time back. It’s good advice.
E.V. – My experience was pretty bad too. Divorcing gawd was hard to do. Funny how much of it is stuck in my head.
I’ve called Walton an idiot many times too, or worse. He keeps coming back because truth is the shiniest lure in the tackle box.
currie jean says
But Sastra! Didn’t you see how many names he listed? He obviously knows what he’s talking about.
“As a professional artist, I’m sometimes asked how I can be an artist and an atheist, as if aesthetics required supernatural assumptions.”
If someone asked me that, I’d have to fight not to smack ’em. Though you’re right – it’s as though the whole theist/atheist debate is divided into the fanciful and superstituous vs. the realistic and scientific, with no room for us rational artists (though I’m not professional – I just like telling stories and making pictures, heh).
Holbach, so is your favorite Vermeer “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha,” “The Allegory of Faith”, or “Diana and Her Companions”?
Patricia, OM says
Currie Jean – You owe me a sangria with key lime and pineapple.
Ceci n’est pas une pipe – as Magritte would say.
I think this attack on Sir David is actually a Good Thing™, if we succeed in publicizing it sufficiently to show sane people how batshit crazy these loons have become. I think a hallmark of sanity is picking your battles, and this has to be a monumental failure in that regard. I can’t think of anyone more universally well liked that David Attenborough, so I think this will bite them on the ass big-time. (Of course, I thought the same thing about Rachael Ray at the time of the “keffiyeh” incident, so you never know.)
I’ve never seen anything in a church that even comes close to rivaling a summer thunderstorm rolling across the prairies in terms of beauty, awe, majesty, and terror, the smell is as electrifying as incense is stupefying, but knowing the anvil head is a result of the storm’s updraft abutting the tropopause (and even punching through, if the column gains enough latent heat through condensation) is what tips me into a full-blown braingasm.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
The fact that you don’t understand PZ’s objection (and those of people who saw—and were paying attention—to the actual debate) of the underhanded tactics used at the debate does not speak well of your comprehension or reasoning.
John Morales says
I find it notable “Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail from viewers for not crediting God in his nature programmes.” (my bold)
Not for denying God, or rejecting God, but merely for not crediting God!?
PS – Co @126, wrong thread :)
PPS IMHO, Pharyngula is the better for Walton’s participation; I also think Walton himself is the better for it. Win/win.
currie jean says
Patricia – Okay, but how come? :p
Brownian – Wow. I do love the architecture of some older churches, but… WIN. Would it be okay if I had my boyfriend read that aloud the next time I sleep over?
Nerd of Redhead says
Brownian, when I was in da Yu Pee, I always admired the Northern Lights on a cold crisp night dancing their way through the sky. Great way to take a break while shoveling the white stuff.
George @ 121
Keep alert. It is damn obvious that I don’t include the religious crap of these artists. Or perhaps you cound not figure that out.
Patricia, OM says
For calling Holbach a pompous goofball, and making me snort my drink all over my screen. I thought I was the only one with the courage to say something flirty to Holbach. ;o)
currie jean says
The thing, holback, is that your wording implied otherwise. Why should someone else have to ‘figure out’ what you can’t properly state – especially since you think so highly of yourself?
Gareth L Owen says
Attenborough is indeed a national treasure. He was the first person to do proper wildlife programmes filmed out in the wild. Before he came along, wildlife programmes were more like lectures, filmed entirely in the studio.
But the people sending him hate mail have achieved an amazing thing. They’ve made me hate theism even more than I already did. Hate mail o David Attenborough, have these people no standards? No common decency?
currie jean @ 117
Listen you pompous goofball, religious fantasy in painting does not make it any less religious. Can’t you comprehend how much I loathe religion and all that it represents and whatever represents it? Am I vacating lucidity here in getting you to comprehend what I’m driving at without retaliating with crap name calling? I didn’t claim the painting represents actual reality, as religion does not represent reality. Your damn liberal attitude intrudes into a lot of the stuff you have commented on here, and it pisses you off to come up against an attitude opposed to yours. You lighten up and get the crap out of your skull.
Patricia, OM says
That’s it. I’m not reading any more comments on this thread with sangria in my mouth.
I could use some sangria. It’s going to hit 110°F in Adelaide today, and probably drop all the way down to 86°F overnight.
John Morales says
Only intellectually, not viscerally.
I guess then that your consideration that I’ve shown religious tendencies in past comments is more due your loathing than to a lack of acumen.
IOW, I think you employ an emotional rather than a rational basis for these judgements, leading to false positives.
Joe Cracker says
Sir Attenborough is my hero … so piss-off hateful Christians!
Yup, same here. The day I agree with Walton’s interpretation of anything is the day you can go ahead and book that skiing vacation in Hell, but I wouldn’t even bother engaging with him if he didn’t seem to have some spark of potential somewhere in there.
You and share a profession. I’m sure there are other artists here and a few art history majors. (but we seem to be outnumbered by science geeks who are actually scientists).
I agree that the arts in general are dominated by those who inclined to believe in all sorts of woo, which somehow renders non-theistic artists as somehow suspect which leads to the Wyeth artist vs. illustrator bullshit debate. “How can we be artists if we don’t believe it’s a gift from God?”, is a question I hear a lot. Actors and singers are notorious for being heavily into some aspect of woo, but not always mainstream xianity as you well know, but their artistic ability isn’t called into question if they’re godless like those of us in the fine arts. Frustrating, no?
You traitor! Rupert Murdoch is going to punish you for spreading these Warmist lies! Don’t you know that the fact that it’s snowing in Boston means that Global Warming is a lie? And that means it’s never hot anywhere? And, and…AL GORE IS FAT!!!111!!!
@ John Morales (127): You’re right. I had some cognitive dissonance there when I posted my 126, and saw that it didn’t mesh with this thread’s comments.
On the other hand, the post to which I was replying (drive-by troll in #85) also posted in this thread, and I was too incensed to reply to both this thread and the correct one :)
Her Reference Ron Sullivan says
Walton, here’s the deal: You don’t need to believe in religious stuff to keep the joy. I was raised Roman Catholic back before Vatican 2. I got out of it all in a fast two-step process, the first being a matter of simple justice (and the church’s inability to produce it) and the second, a moment’s reflection on the question, “How likely is all this anyway?”
I’d been devout, earnest, joyous in my religion, at least when I wasn’t remembering how inadequate and sinful and inherently flawed it was telling me to be. I spent a period of having the taste of ashes in my mouth over that, and then discovered that the things that had made me ecstatic—singing in big choral congregations was one of those—didn’t draw their power from religion; the reverse is true. Inspiration is not religious, but religion lays claim to it. Art is not religious, but religion lays claim to it. The religious call it “the spark of the divine” but it belongs to every one of us because it’s part of being human.
(I’m saying “human” because that’s the only species I have any experience being. Who the hell knows what whales and marsh wrens and dancing locust hordes are doing out there?)
Oh yeah—What Brownian said, too. I’ve had moments of ecstasy looking at surf, at birds, at mosses; hearing a varied thrush song at dusk in a redwood forest is absolutely the fount and source and original doctrine of wabi-sabi. It just isn’t that hard. It’s your birthright.
E.V. #140 wrote:
Frustrating, yes. I think it comes from several sources.
First, there’s the cultural assumption that believing in the supernatural (or paranormal) is a sign of an open mind, an intuitive nature, and deep sensitivity. A capacity for wonder and appreciation is supposed to invoke — not an appreciation for the wonders of nature and life — but a belief that “this can’t be all.” People who believe in the supernatural are supposed to be seeing “below the surface” and doing something that requires wisdom.
Of course, I see it the other way around. Supernatural explanations are always superficial explanations, and trusting subjectively confirmed ‘certainties’ comes easy. Critical thinking and science are hard work.
Also, there seems to be a very strong tendency to reify abstractions, and think that things like “beauty” and “love” are real — but not physical — so they must be spiritual (ie supernatural.) Meaning is supposed to be in some other realm, transcendent to the physical world. Emotions, too. If you’re an atheist, you only see appearances, so you’re not going to feel as deeply.
You only care about things, also. They take talk about “the material world” and “materialism” as meaning someone who is into wealth and possessions. Thus, if you’re artsy-fartsy, it’s assumed you’re into some kind of woo.
Sláinte E.V., and a nod to Sangria snorting Patricia and the, probably, never skiing thalarctos.
Ciao and smiles y’all
David Utidjian says
Who talks like that? LOL
I predict that next there will be a potheosis of gunfire!
Walton, I’m suspending my utter loathing for you and making a friendly recommendation:
Please read Richard Dawkins’ Unweaving the Rainbow. It was written especially for those who have a hard time appreciating science for the reasons you stated.
Personally, I don’t get how someone can’t enjoy an Attenborough documentary. The cinematography is always stunning, the information is astonishing, and his voice… Ah, I could listen to him all day.
Alan Kellogg says
Facts are cool. Then again, I am strange. For I see not just how facts explain cool things, I also see the implications and consequences that arise from facts. And possible connections that don’t occur to others. But don’t think that facts can’t be cool in and of themselves. Just because female mosquitoes use a protein from our blood to produce embryos does not mean we only have value because of our utility to mosquitoes.
Re the religion/art thing;
For me, it’s not so much the content of the art, although that can be offensive as it is propaganda (and the sistine (sp?) chapel ceiling’s celebration of child rape as I have mentioned before on pharyngula).
The main issue is the commissioning of such work and the power relationships that get such work made and shown at the expense of other art. The main reason I cannot finish Godel Escher Bach, I think, is my disgust at Bach’s enslavement by the emperor.
Another non-scientist here. I’d like to consider myself a word artist, but after too many years of poverty I gave in and became a wage-slave in a completely unrelated field (asset management).
What scares me is the number of ‘science geeks’ here who frequently write better than I can – multitalented bastards.
Michael X says
Well E.V., if it makes you feel better I’m a lowly professional stage actor. So chalk up another artist to the mix.
As for yours and Sastra’s run ins with people questioning your artistic integrity due to your lack of religious belief, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced that. I get the “cold dead science” canard from time to time, but I never get asked how I find beauty without a god.
Maybe it’s a theater thing?
Love the way Attenborough deals with creationists, it’s a very different argument to what I’ve ever heard before. His interview on Enough Rope last year was fantastic!
I saw that. Excellent, even by Denton’s usual high standards.
That someone who has, arguably, seen more of the natural world than any other human being has before – and perhaps ever will – can’t see any reason to believe in a god is very comforting indeed.
That Elders episode with Bob Hawke was pretty cool as well. I never expected Attenborough to be so blunt, he has a public persona where he’s very accommodating. I remember the BBC documentary on the Dover Trial, in there they had Miller, Attenborough and Dawkins as the three people to represent the science side, and even then Attenborough was playing a conciliatory persona while Dawkins was his usual eloquent blunt self.
Looking forward to seeing his doco on evolution this year.
I have no problem with religious art, whether it’s Roman, Greek, Hebrew, Hindu (you get the picture). The technical difficulty of rendering buon fresco or even fresco al secco on a vertical surface is tremendous, but to do a ceiling is herculean.
I have a huge soft spot for Renaissance painters and sculptors anyway, from Piero della Francesca to the TMNT namesakes everyone knows. And I love me some Bosch and Breugel ( the godfathers of surrealism), Vermeer & Rembrandt (Chiaroscuro is my personal style), and Louise Nevelson rocks my sculptural world. (I know, I’m all over the map)
I really appreciate many of Chagall’s works, especially the glass work which is Jewish religious art. I can appreciate someone’s artistry and wallow in the aesthetics of their work even if I don’t buy into the ideology.
So really, I don’t care if the work is secular or religious, though most post modern Xian work is pretty dreary. I may roll my eyes when an artist starts their woo spiel, but good art can usually supercede the eccentricities of the artist. I don’t care if it’s ugly either, art is not defined as being some pretty scene you want to put on a postcard. I like dark and disturbing too.The photographs of Joel Peter Witken fascinate me (as well as repel me sometimes). Just think 9 inch Nails videos; which reminds me, Tool’s videos are brilliant, but I digress…
I wouldn’t favor an artist because he/she was an atheist,nor would I reject an artist because of his/her faith necessarily (weasel word).
The one artist that I want to torch along with his Giclees is the so-called painter of light™; that guy is a souless zealous hack who traffics in pure pablum (and makes a pass at anything in a skirt, but he’s a fine christian). Oh and that Hummel nun and her godawful figurines. Jeesus *shudders*
They’re almost all good. I think the one with Rolf Harris stands out for me.
I mustn’t have been paying attention – who’s doing it, Denton or Attenborough? Either would be good!
I was an equity card carrying actor/singer for several years and did a few SAG/AFTRA gigs as well. but that was 15 years ago. (I’ve kept my art going throughout my life) I love actors, especially stage actors. (A huge number of TV and film people but not theater people aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, though.) Most of my performing friends have a different sensibility than my painting/sculpting friends though there is overlap. There are a lot of actors with strong talent in the visual arts, but few artists are good actors. Then there are all those musician
Attenborough of course. Not sure what Denton is up to this year.
Nerd of Redhead, one of the best displays of auroras I’ve ever seen were remarkably from the middle of the city. I was hanging out with some friends on the rooftop patio of a popular pub and the sky opened up and dropped a roiling rope of blue-green, yellow, and purple right above us. It moved like a line of fine sand if it were dropped into a viscous liquid. The crowd of relatively non-religious twenty-somethings on the patio all fell silent, cheering whenever a particularly bright or beautiful tendril flashed. On the TVs in the bar the Oilers must have been doing particularly well, because the room downstairs kept cheering whenever we weren’t. It was a pretty awesome experience, made all the more so by the friends and strangers around me who were appreciating it just as much.
I’ve felt the same in church when I was young, but I think back to that moment on the patio and all the other moments like it I’ve had when theists suggest a world without gods is meaningless and devoid of awe. I know how auroras form and how high they are, and that knowledge only adds to their majesty rather than detracts.
I know a fair bit about snow too, but somehow that doesn’t make the shoveling of it much more fun. Science apparently does have its limits.
Michael X says
Oh ho, big mister SAG huh? I had one of those horrid cards a decade ago too. (I did a big motorolla pager commercial among others, you remember pagers right?) I kicked the TV habit shortly thereafter though. I do do some film (pun intended) from time to time, but only with friends and I know when to stop.
Kidding aside, I agree that theater might have a draw on the “smart” people, but only because theater rules out the possibility of fame, pays so little money and cannot be edited later to improve ones performance. Thus, dumb money hungry fame seekers must go elsewhere. That leaves the talented, passionate (and hopefully smart) ones as the only people left that are able to pursue it. So it kinda self selects. Though I could go into the fact that the low pay also takes talented people out of the stage pool simply because they want to afford a house someday, but that’s another thread.
Sadly, I must add myself to the category of actors who cannot draw, sculpt, paint… I can’t even splatter mud in interesting ways. Maybe if I believed in god….
Prof MTh says
Sir Attenborough’s documentary “Life of Birds” is one of my favorite nature documentaries of all time!!!!
Hmm, with all these actors around I’d better not mention that I’m also a theatre critic (albeit unpaid, for a local website) as well…
There is no god but Holbach and he is his own prophet.
Either that or a dickhead with a serious ego problem. You decide.
The world according to Holbach:
Abusing someone and calling them hopeless is giving an “honest explanation” (#80).
When called out on the use of strange terms like “inherently quipped” and “objective feelings” (vs “personal feelings” – wtf?) he offers another honest explanation – which explains nothing and looks a lot like further abuse. (#97)
The same goes for his frankly bizarre views on art. His view on music (#78) are just incoherent. Religious art is without worth because it is an “attempt to portray something that does not exist” (#114). Presumably art can only be a photographic depiction of reality; although it’s hard to say if that’s Holbach’s view, since when he’s questioned on the matter his only response is “religious fantasy in painting does not make it any less religious”(?). Maybe painting are allowed to contain elements of fantasy as long as they are the right sort of fantasy. But if you DARE to enjoy something that has a religious element – well, you can expect another torrent of honest explanation.
#134 really is classic. He calls currie jean pompous(!), acuses him of being unable to tolerate alternative viewpoints(!!) and almost blows a gasket telling him to lighten up. I can just picture Holbach standing there, fists clenched, face red, veins throbbing, screaming at currie jean to lighten up. But that’s just my imagination – you probably wouldn’t like a painting of it.
Seriously mate, take your head out of your arse. It’s got to improve the view.
Forgive me for being late to the thread,but I spent most of the day sweating in 42 degree heat…
Holbach @ 86,
Speak for yourself.
I think Walton sure has his hang-ups,but he has shown a willingness to learn,question,and educate himself that no other religiously educated person here has shown in the time ive been around this blog,so I would just wish that people could get the fuck off his back,especially when he explains how he feels about things and gets to his conclusions about certain things.
Im sure we can do better than that.
As to Attenborough,isnt that just a great guy,sincere and honstly into the things he talks about,a great narrator too,and the fact that he gets creationist hate mail,ah well,just shows he’s got it right…..
I liked the post upthread that said,if the christians are right,why are they so angry…
If you think that Sir David Attenborough is only interested in “cold, hard scientific fact” then you should watch some of his works. He is the greatest documentary maker of all time.
I would suggest you start with “Life on Earth”. Until you have actually seen the man in action you will, I fear, remain a philistine.
I’m gonna write him and tell him how much I love him!
Holbach, do you have to act like a cock all the time? I love how you hand it to trolls, but FFS, Walton’s seeing the light. He’s finally starting to put it together and you hammer him the same as when he did his god-botting. Give Facilis a double-dose or something.
Or do you think your invective aided the deconversion and you’re really trying to help the guy?
Nice to see you casting aside superstition, Walton. It can take a while to adjust, often a long while. It shows how deep indoctrination and unreason can burrow. It gets easier, and you’ll see more and more of the rewards as you go along. The comfort those rituals and community provide will fade as you become more confident and comfortable in your disbelief, but there’s nothing wrong in recognizing or appreciating beauty or talent in something just because it has religious roots or inspiration. The Pyramids and Parthenon are just as wondrous despite the builders’ delusions.
And I second Aquaria’s recommendation of “Unweaving the Rainbow.” Or find Sagan’s “Cosmos” or some Jacques Cousteau on DVD at your local library. Those did it for me as a kid. The wonder of nature that Sagan and JC had are infectious.
And if science never ends up really capturing your imagination, fine. I’m reasonably sure Salman Rushdie, Woody Allen, Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, Jodie Foster, Lance Armstrong and Warren Buffett are all rubbish at physics and don’t give much of a damn about Hox genes.
Pope Marcellus “Mass” – is most certainly a reference to religion, the Catholic Mass. It contains music for the 5 movements of the ordinary of the mass. Also, our affinity for music is not necessarily determined by the extra-musical content (e.g., the words).
While this might undercut my original point somewhat, I don’t speak Latin and only have a vague idea of what the content of Palestrina’s work means. I still think it is beautiful music.
It is worth noting that much of the music that we know about historically and around the world was created for religious purposes. I may not agree with the relgious message, but the music can still be worth listening to. You might consider trying to appreciate such music on it’s own terms rather than judging it by your own bias.
As I noted in my original post I am an athiest, or rather, a rationalist, free-thinker, etc.
Having watched David Attenborough’s early documentaries on a tiny black and white TV (with a magnifying glass) the first adult book I read was Zoo quest for a Dragon in the 1950’s. I think I was 10.
I so wanted to be like David Attenborough and it set me on the road to studying zoology and eventually environmental archaeology.
So anyone who threatens him in any way better watch out! I’ll hit them with my walking stick!
I think I might write to him too and tell him how he changed my life.
Now that would be a worthwhile Pharyngulation!
Walton, give him a chance. His narration is poetry, his presentation exquisite and his science immaculate.
Liberal Atheist says
Why do they claim that faith in their religion is necessary in order to be morally good and nice to other people, while at other times they wish eternal torture upon people who don’t have the same faith?
I think we would look at their evidence if they actually bothered to present it. Of course, both we and they know why that will never, ever happen.
Thomas A. says
I haven’t been following discussions here intently enough to have prior experience of Walton, but his comment 57 was an honest, touching (and grammatically and semantically correct) expression of soul-searching. He’s on a rough patch of his spiritual path, but he seems to be headed in the right direction, and if he continues that way, he’ll come to a better place. (Yes, I know words like “soul” and “spirit” are loaded, but there they are.)
Holbach: You are a pompous ass, and your command of the English language is far weaker than you seem to think — and far inferior to Walton’s.
Walton’s come a long way over the last few months, and I also enjoy his comments, which are well thought out and well-written. I mightn’t agree with a lot of what he says, but I find very little of it unbearable.
Thing is, I enjoy Holbach’s ‘no holds barred’ approach as well – when he’s directing it where it’s deserved; considering some of my own comments can, at times, be considered to be similarly abusive I could hardly decry his without being a hypocrite. I prefer to leave that to the theists.
Yeah, Walton is a lot more tolerable now since he’s downed the libertarian rhetoric. He seems a decent bloke tbh
I’m glad you’re sticking up for Walton as I too enjoy (most) of his comments and see him growing and learning all the time. Holbach is great but sometimes a little over-enthusiastic perhaps?
I love early polyphonic church music. I’m particularly fascinated by the use of cathedral architecture to create different effects. A sort of early surround sound which can make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. To dismiss it because of its religious content is to deny great chunks of our musical heritage.
Oh and I had a traditional education so do have some Latin – it makes absolutely no difference to my atheism that I can understand (most) of the words, the sound is outstanding.
Should have been Kitty @ #175!
For thos of you who enjoy religious art; fair enough, it’s there. And we didn’t get where we are without coming from where wre were. But consider all that we have lost: All the music, painting, theatre that wasn’t made, or suppressed. Punk took until the 1970s before music threw off the shackles. Even TV arrived possibly hundreds of years later than it would had we been free to ask questions of our world, not to mention all those who died of preventable diseases.
Me, I can’t look at a church without sympathy for the slaves who built it. Why are your hearts closed to them?
David Attenborough is the single most influential person in Science broadcasting. I remember watching Life on Earth when I was about 3, followed by the Living Planet and the Trials of Life. Other than my Mum, who has had a huge influence on my chosen career (I am now an evolutionary developmental biologist and university teacher in New York), David Attenborough opened up the ‘wonders’ of the natural world to me. It saddens me greatly to hear that a man who has spent his life trying to educate and inform people has such unpleasant attitudes and feeling leveled at them by some ignorant individuals! I also hope that the BBC finds a fitting replacement for Sir David, and doesn’t take a quick, and far cheaper option, dumming down the output when David Attenborough has made difficult subjects so accessible to everyone, and that includes the 3-year old that I used to be.
back atcha, JeffreyD :)
It’s easy to write hate mail. Can you imagine *anyone* standing in front of Attenborough and being disrespectful? Is that even possible?
And they hate him because he doesn’t actively promote god as a designer in his programmes, not even because he says god certainly didn’t do it. Which he has said, by the way, but not in his shows.
Gah – how can anyone threaten violence or death to someone so genteel, so well-informed and so reasonable?
David Marjanović, OM says
LOL! We can talk about who had to pay for the construction, and the like, but slaves basically didn’t exist in medieval Europe because nobody was able to afford any.
Serfs of course did exist, but a cathedral isn’t something any idiot can build. For that you need highly educated stonemasons, and you need to pay them accordingly, because they’re all free men.
Stephen Wells says
Does Holbach dismiss, say, the Iliad, because it has gods in it? Gilgamesh? Does the music of Bach really cease to be beautiful if it’s a Mass setting? What a strange attitude.