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Christianity, Religion

Yeah… Christians are Different than Muslims. Not.

How do you feel watching a group of people shouting down another group of people over whose invisible friend is real?  It makes me feel pretty creepy.

If you’re a Christian, can you take yourself out of your own shoes for a minute and pretend you don’t understand the language these people are speaking?  Can you just look at what’s happening, listen to the tone of voice, and feel the complete lack of human compassion and empathy on the part of these “loving Christians?”

That’s one of the things that’s so awful about the kind of faith many people have in their lords and saviors.  We humans have plenty of legitimate things to fight about, and it’s difficult enough to maintain civil relations between two significantly different cultures.  When you add in the belief in a magical overlord who defies proof and claims to be the only real god, things get dodgy very quickly.

What’s worse is that this kind of belief often stops conversation before it starts.  How do we even sit at a table and discuss how to coexist peacefully when each of us holds the unswerving belief that the other is a heretic doomed for eternal damnation and torture?  What reason do we ever have to believe that the other side has any of our best interests at heart?  Too often, interactions between people of opposing faiths are little more than polite social niceties.  The pretense of civility is just that.  Pretense.

Unfortunately, there’s no answer to the dilemma created by faith.  So long as each side maintains its beliefs in the other side’s heresy, there is no middle ground on which to meet.  There is a bottomless chasm and no way to build a bridge.

The only way to span the gap is to ditch the belief in an eternal cosmic battle.  But that won’t happen because faith is unassailable, and as we’ve all seen too clearly, people of real faith will lie, steal, kill, cheat, bomb, and mutilate before they’ll give up their allegiance to their god.

Faith is the worst thing man has ever invented.

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Discussion

135 thoughts on “Yeah… Christians are Different than Muslims. Not.

  1. CALIFORNIA: Teabaggers Heckle And Protest Muslim Charity Event

    I saw the original video of this before it was taken down. It literally made me sick to my stomach to see this kind of hatred.

    Posted by mrnatural | March 10, 2011, 6:32 pm
  2. I think the previous administration and the war in Iraq, are major contributing factors. Americans are taught that Islam and Muslims are the enemy that want to take over the world. Unfortunately, this becomes a self-fulling prophecy [also unfortunately, the atheist movement seems to be doing more harm than good in this regard].

    ABC did a little scientific experiment [Both the clerk and Muslim are actors]

    I notice this hardly happens in other countries, even those that have a significant Christian population such as Canada etc.. I think you Yanks should ditch the melting pot mentality. I don’t know what’s going on down there, but pull your heads out of your asses.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 10, 2011, 6:50 pm
  3. Another thing, next time you see a religious right nut show them this:

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 10, 2011, 10:53 pm
  4. Hey guys! I’m baaaacck. 🙂

    So you gotta help me. I’m not the brightest tool in the shed so I sometimes need help understanding things.

    You ‘ve posted a couple of videos of some moronic Christians, supposed tea partiers, and then small business owners as they are hating on what seems to be peace loving Muslims. Assholes no question. I get that.

    It reminds me of the Westboro Baptist church assholes who cast their vile hatred at funerals of dead soldiers because of some crap about “fags”.

    So in each of these instances we have a small group of moronic idiots who are hating on innocent Muslims because they think all Muslims act like the extremists who maim, kill and behead innocents. So then you peace loving atheists use these instances to cast your hate on all peace loving Christians because you think all Christians act like these vile idiots. Am I getting this right?
    Is this not exactly what you post is doing?

    Because of some morons you have cast your personal hate over the group you hate. You blame an entire group of people who have a belief in a “magical overlord” for the actions of a small group who claim to have the same belief.

    Do you blame all African Americans and Latinos because of the actions of gangstas? Do you hate all gays because some HIV infected morons knowingly infect innocents with their disease?

    I am from the Christian community. We have alot of messed up peole that come to our churches. They come dealing with garbage like lousy parenting, abusive adults, family bigotry, and any other vile background you can name. But if they get it right, they begin to act more like Jesus that their past examples.

    And the vast majority of Christian churches in this country and around the world know their responsibility when they carry the name of Christ is to love on all peoples by feeding the poor, clothing and sheltering the homeless, helping the oppressed and the like. And great amounts of peoples time, energy and resources go into doing exactly that. And then you guys come along and paint everyone of them as the same kind of maron as your videos.

    So I ask, how are you any different than those morons? Why is your hate justified and honorable?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 7:13 am
  5. No true Scotsman argument alert.

    Our discontent and disagreement with every religion is that it fosters an environment where science is discouraged, rights are abrogated, and progress is stifled. As a Christian, even if you are a great person and your church does great things, you continue the mindset that contributes to these things.

    Our hate is reserved for organizations/people that do extreme harm, like homophobic assholes, pedophiles, and those would dehumanize us simply for our lack of belief in their fairy tales. A perfect example would be the catholic church. A practicing catholic supports these things, even if otherwise they are a great person.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 11, 2011, 10:50 am
  6. p.s. You choose to be a Christian (and thus associate yourselves with the assholes in your group), blacks and latinos (and why did you single them out, as if gangsters can’t be white?) don’t choose to be such.

    Same with gays and HIV (as if they were the only people who get HIV?).

    p.s.s Can you prove your “god” doesn’t agree with them and not you? That’s why you all get lumped in together (you both have equal evidence you’re right).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 11, 2011, 10:53 am
  7. Ah… the old “tu quoque.” One of my favorites.

    Here’s the thing, Dwight. Maybe I’m a hatemonger. You might be right. But even if I am a hatemonger, what I’m saying might be true. That’s why “tu quoque” is considered a classic logical fallacy. It’s kind of like an ad hominem in that it deflects from the argument by focusing on the character of the person instead of the merit of their position.

    So… I’ll concede your point, Dwight. There is a possibility that I’m just as hateful as the people I’m condemning. But does that make them any less hateful?

    Posted by hambydammit | March 11, 2011, 11:42 am
  8. Not much time but a second thought. Man never invented faith. It is ridiculous to say it is “invented”. So it must have come along as man “evolved” from pond scum, to fish, to dog, to ape, and finally into a human who is capable of faith. So blame it on evolution if you can swallow that one!

    And Alex, you are just an asshole. Sorry but that much is obvious. As bad as any Christian throwing crosses at the feet of Muslims.

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 12:53 pm
  9. And Alex, you are just an asshole. Sorry but that much is obvious. As bad as any Christian throwing crosses at the feet of Muslims.

    The problem here is that I’m allowed to judge, but you’re not. You have that whole “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “he who is without sin, case the first stone” and “remove the log from thine own eye, before pointing out a fleck in others” thing going on.

    I don’t. I’m happy to be judged an asshole if I act like one, it’s only those who claim some sort of shield for their asinine behavior that seem to have a problem with it.

    I do dispute that I’m as bad as these people, since if they (the “faithful”) didn’t exist I wouldn’t have this topic to argue with (and mock ferociously) you over.

    Not much time but a second thought. Man never invented faith. It is ridiculous to say it is “invented”. So it must have come along as man “evolved” from pond scum, to fish, to dog, to ape, and finally into a human who is capable of faith. So blame it on evolution if you can swallow that one!

    Not much time necessary to refute this. By this logic, everything evolved. You can’t claim humankind invented anything. Computers evolved. Couches evolved. Cars evolved. Oh, and watches evolved (there goes the great watchmaker argument).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 11, 2011, 2:01 pm
  10. So… I’ll concede your point, Dwight. There is a possibility that I’m just as hateful as the people I’m condemning. But does that make them any less hateful?

    Here’s the problem with this. Abolitionists were hateful of slavery. Was their hatred justified?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 11, 2011, 2:03 pm
  11. Not much time but a second thought. Man never invented faith. It is ridiculous to say it is “invented”. So it must have come along as man “evolved” from pond scum, to fish, to dog, to ape, and finally into a human who is capable of faith. So blame it on evolution if you can swallow that one!

    Heheh… You’re a piece of work, Dwight, but I like you. I really do.

    A couple of points. If you’re going to bust me for using a rhetorical flourish, I’m going to nitpick you back. We didn’t evolve from apes. We are apes.

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Primates
    Family: Hominidae
    Genus: Homo
    Species: H. sapiens
    Subspecies: H. s. sapiens

    Family Hominidae are the great apes. We’re part of that family. Dogs split off quite a ways back, and we’re not descended from them. All land animals are descended from fish, or at least from sea-dwelling critters, so you’re right about that. And yeah, something very similar to modern pond scum was one of the earliest forms of life on earth. So good on you for that one, too.

    And Alex, you are just an asshole. Sorry but that much is obvious. As bad as any Christian throwing crosses at the feet of Muslims.

    I’m looking back at the comments, and only one of the two of you has called the other names. How’s the fire, kettle?

    (That’s a tu quoque. By now, you should be hip to the notion that even if you’re right, it doesn’t mean Alex’s points are incorrect.)

    Posted by hambydammit | March 11, 2011, 2:05 pm
  12. I do dispute that I’m as bad as these people, since if they (the “faithful”) didn’t exist I wouldn’t have this topic to argue with (and mock ferociously) you over.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 11, 2011, 2:28 pm
  13. Exactly, thank you.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 11, 2011, 3:06 pm
  14. I think this whole thing is comical. It’s like watching a bunch of 14 year old girls argue their fav Justin Bieber song.

    Christians:”Yeah, some Christians may be assholes, but so are some atheists!”

    Atheists: “Yeah, some atheists may be assholes, but so are some Christians!”

    “I may be an asshole, but so are you!”

    Both sides will call the others assholes, but won’t do anything about their side. When Christians act like the video above, the focus is on asshole atheists. When atheists say they want to nuke Mecca, the focus is on asshole Christians.

    Christians insist that atheists won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit Christians are wrong. Atheists say that Christians won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit atheists are wrong.

    This is a simple issue here. Man didn’t invent faith, and faith wasn’t put into our heads by some magical sky fairy to show us the way.

    They argue over nothing, so nothing gets done, and then they can blame the fact that nothing gets done on the other side.

    It’s times like this I was there wasn’t a binary choice between atheism and theism.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 11, 2011, 5:58 pm
  15. Militant Atheist…..

    Mass murderers of tens of millions of victims in Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, etc.

    Right. “Tu Quoque” aregument. You got me.

    Atheism == Intellectual Bankruptcy

    Posted by CB | March 11, 2011, 6:25 pm
  16. Mass murderers of tens of millions of victims in Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, etc.

    Those were militant communists. Please re-read your history and notice that none of these folks — who did happen to be atheists — were doing their particular naughty business in the name of atheism or because of their belief in no god. They were doing it as part of a political revolution based on (gasp!) a faith based ideology.

    Saying Stalin, Mao and so forth were militant atheists is sort of like saying the Jehovah’s Witnesses are militant suit wearers. Yes, they wear suits, but that’s not the reason they’re out going door to door. In the same way, yes, Stalin and Mao were atheists, but it’s not why they murdered.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 11, 2011, 7:09 pm
  17. you guys make this hard. will try to respond little at a time. Alex: Re. judgment Jesus said you will know them by their fruit and yours is rotten and stinks bad. 🙂

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 9:50 pm
  18. ham….thanks for acknowledging your hypocrisy in this. I think we could get along pretty well. And noone is trying to diminish the hatefulness you pointed out. But if we’re gonna slam someone for their bad charachter let’s admit our own.

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 9:56 pm
  19. “Not much time necessary to refute this. By this logic, everything evolved. You can’t claim humankind invented anything. Computers evolved. Couches evolved. Cars evolved. Oh, and watches evolved (there goes the great watchmaker argument).”

    Alex…you’re so lame. You compare material things to feelings? I’m done with you. Such a waste.

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 10:00 pm
  20. ham….I’m certain we could get along. Thanks for the education of evolution. I didn’t pay much attention in biology class and it was some 35 years or so ago when they tried to teach me.

    But I thought my point was a good one. Things like faith do not fit in with evolution. Humans have some traits like love, altruism, faith, etc. that are not just caused by biological responses. Animals don’t share them.

    You gotta know I’m just trying to introduce some crack in the evolution religion. I don’t expect to convert anyone, but if people at least consider things that don’t fit well in their religion (yes, that works both ways)then maybe we don’t have to hate each other.

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 11, 2011, 10:12 pm
  21. ham….thanks for acknowledging your hypocrisy in this.

    I’ve acknowledged the possibility. I need more evidence to accept it as true.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 12, 2011, 1:12 am
  22. But I thought my point was a good one. Things like faith do not fit in with evolution. Humans have some traits like love, altruism, faith, etc. that are not just caused by biological responses. Animals don’t share them.

    Flat Out Wrong. The problem with your entire argument is that it is completely wrong and has been debunked more times than any of us can count.

    Christians insist that atheists won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit Christians are wrong. Atheists say that Christians won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit atheists are wrong.

    The problem here is that I’m willing to admit I’m wrong (I’m an asshole, I act like an asshole, and I treat other people poorly quite frequently). I don’t do it because some book or person told me to though. I tend to do it when I think they are acting in such a way as to deserve it. I’m also more than ready to accept the judgment of any outside observers (or even inside) regarding my behavior.

    It just tends to be that Christians (and most religious people) do not do the same. They claim to get their moral basis from a book or some guy. They decry judgement against them when they do something horrible. So, yeah, false equivocation.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 12, 2011, 5:01 pm
  23. Wikipedia begs to differ on the animals not displaying those “human” feelings or actions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 12, 2011, 5:05 pm
  24. Alex, the point is that atheists are human too.

    God didn’t come booming down and tell these people to hate gays, or oppress women, everything in scripture whether moral or immoral, came from human nature and can just as easily pop up in secular ideology.

    It simply does not follow, that just because religion is gone, then there will be less immoral things. Man didn’t “invent” faith, and I dare you to show me one person who doesn’t have any faith based beliefs.

    While true that an atheist won’t do evil in the name of god, it’s also true there are millions of other things to do evil in the name of.

    To say an atheist rejects religion and is therefore less likely to commit evil because Christianity is evil, is like saying that a Christian rejects Communism and is therefore less likely to commit evil because Communism is evil.

    The same goes for rational thinking. Just because you reject a particular brand of irrationality, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily more rational. That’s like saying that believing unicorns is irrational, Ray Comfort doesn’t believe in unicorns therefore Ray Comfort is rational.

    So no, I’m not convinced that if religion were gone, the world would be more moral or rational.

    So, yeah, false equivocation.

    A false equivocation is when a word with multiple meanings is used and the meanings are confused. Such as a table is light therefore it’s made of photons.

    I don’t see how I did that anywhere in my comment.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 13, 2011, 1:46 pm
  25. God didn’t come booming down and tell these people to hate gays, or oppress women, everything in scripture whether moral or immoral, came from human nature and can just as easily pop up in secular ideology.

    I thought we’d dealt with this months ago. You and I — and every human science person I’ve ever read — acknowledge freely that religious behaviors represent human nature. Duh. But what you’re saying is the equivalent of saying soccer balls, footballs, pinballs, buckyballs, ball bearings, and cheeseballs are all the same thing since they’re all balls.

    It simply does not follow, that just because religion is gone, then there will be less immoral things.

    Neither does it follow that IF religion is gone, THEN there will NOT be less immoral things. So can we just drop this line of argument?

    Man didn’t “invent” faith, and I dare you to show me one person who doesn’t have any faith based beliefs.

    The argument over “invent” is tiring and pointless. Man didn’t “invent” slavery either, but a world with less slavery is better than a world with more slavery.

    If faith can be demonstrated to be harmful. (And you’re the only person I know who disagrees with that description. I mean honestly… you’re the only atheist I know who disagrees, and I know a LOT of atheists. Most of them have lots of letters after their names, and most of them are in the human science fields.) (EDIT: Oh, I also know a lot of THEISTS who think faith is harmful. They just don’t recognize their own faith for what it is.)

    While true that an atheist won’t do evil in the name of god, it’s also true there are millions of other things to do evil in the name of.

    So start a blog trying to get people to do less evil in the name of whatever they’re doing it in the name of that offends you. Faith offends me, and I’m trying to reduce its effects on society here at my little corner of the blog world.

    To say an atheist rejects religion and is therefore less likely to commit evil because Christianity is evil, is like saying that a Christian rejects Communism and is therefore less likely to commit evil because Communism is evil.

    Did we just jump in a time machine? Have you forgotten all our conversations about this?

    If I convince someone to give up the “fascism” ideology, he’ll stop voting for fascists. And fascism will hopefully decrease in the universe. If I convince someone to give up “god,” he’ll stop following the unscientific and harmful dictates of the men who claimed to speak for god. And there will be less god in the universe.

    I believe both fascism and faith are harmful. This blog is about faith primarily, with only touches of fascism where faith contributes to its spread.

    Now… let me ask you a pointed question. Have you EVER seen me make the claim that IF Americans gave up faith THEN they’d stop buying SUVs and would convert to electric cars?

    I haven’t. And yet you are aware that I have a deep environmentalist streak. I think SUVs are one of the great evils Americans commit. But I don’t think their purchase has anything significant to do with faith.

    But my blog is FILLED with examples of Christians doing things because of their faith. And for the most part, they’re very specific kinds of evils, related directly to the demands of their holy books. And I happen to think these kinds of evils are very dangerous and worth decreasing in society.

    Alison, please, for the love of Allah, take a chill pill, stop and think for a day, and go back and look at what you’re writing. It’s kind of retarded, and you’re smarter than this.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 13, 2011, 4:39 pm
  26. Hamby, that was a response to Alex. not you. But since you dragged me in….

    If faith can be demonstrated to be harmful. (And you’re the only person I know who disagrees with that description I mean honestly… you’re the only atheist I know who disagrees, and I know a LOT of atheists. Most of them have lots of letters after their names, and most of them are in the human science fields.

    I never said that. Faith is the symptom, not the disease. I can say that coughing up blood is harmful, but if I just focus on that, I won’t cure the disease will I? I won’t even be able to cure coughing up blood, until I get to the root of the disease that’s causing it.

    Isn’t it amazing that with all those friends with letters after their names, and in the social science fields, you haven’t yet produced a single peer reviewed paper, after I’ve constantly asked you for the better part of three years now? Isn’t it funny, that when peer reviewed papers get thrown around, it’s by me?

    On a side note, it amazes me that you know so many scientists, yet still make arguments like demanding an alternative hypothesis, or hotdogs and baseball.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 13, 2011, 6:35 pm
  27. Hamby, I think I need to clarify something.

    The reason I make the arguments I make is because I want to get rid of faith too. I just don’t think venting is a good way to do it. To understand the orgins and roots, we can deal with it. To just focus on the end result and shout down anybody who even dares to suggest that we should look for the roots, isn’t going to do anything.

    While I understand the outrage and offensiveness, I don’t think your approach is going to do anything.

    You’re blog is full of examples of people doing evil because of faith? I can point to several other blogs that are filled with people doing good things because of their faith, and from the teachings of their holy book, and am willing to bet the farm they use the same type of evidence and reasoning as you do. I’m also willing to bet your counter arguments will look a lot like mine.

    I mean it’s been three years now, and you still think I dispute that faith is a bad thing.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 14, 2011, 8:50 am
  28. Christians insist that atheists won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit Christians are wrong. Atheists say that Christians won’t admit they’re wrong, but then refuse to admit atheists are wrong.

    Right here. I’m an atheist and I’ll happily admit when I’m wrong. On this I’m not wrong.

    As to the rest of your argument, I’m not sure how to counter it. You’re basically saying (and please correct me if I misunderstand) that people who do things for reason X, would just do it for some other reason.

    I don’t agree. I think that if people use reason X to support doing something harmful, and you remove reason X from existence they will be less likely to do said harmful thing.

    The problem (as I see it) is that by your argument we can spend forever trying to figure out why people do something harmful and never stop doing it. I get that you think faith is bad, I just don’t get what you’d like to do about it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 14, 2011, 9:47 am
  29. “Those were militant communists. Please re-read your history and notice that none of these folks — who did happen to be atheists — were doing their particular naughty business in the name of atheism…”

    Hardly relevant — those tens of millions are still just as DEAD, and it’s unlikely that surviving loved ones gave a tinker’s damn that they were NOT murdered “in the name of ” atheism.

    The issue is the graphic up above that tries to pretend that ONLY “religion —> suffering” and that “atheism —> Enlightenment”.

    The historical reality is a bit harsher, in that those without religion (Mao, Stalin, Pot, etc.) still unleashed widespread suffering and death, thereby undermining your collectivist self-congratulatory mental masturbation.

    Posted by CB | March 14, 2011, 1:19 pm
  30. The problem (as I see it) is that by your argument we can spend forever trying to figure out why people do something harmful and never stop doing it. I get that you think faith is bad, I just don’t get what you’d like to do about it.

    Alex and Alison:

    The problem — the giant elephant in the room problem — with what seems to be Alison’s argument is that people HAVE become more moral in the past when they lost faith in various phenomena. In America, it’s been decades since we lynched a black person as an “inferior race” and centuries since we burned a witch at the stake. And curiously, almost nobody believes in witches, or that the races are different species. By Alison’s reasoning, we ought to still be lynching people we don’t like since we could just find another reason besides race.

    Now… I used race and witchcraft to illustrate a very important point. These are two different kinds of “evils” and illustrate precisely why Alison’s argument fails to take into account the unique power of faith.

    Race relations are better in America than they used to be. We Caucasians used to own slaves, beat them, rape them, and even kill them when we were displeased with them. We didn’t pay them for their work, we sold their children, and we refused to allow them to become educated. These days, race relations are still strained, but they’re a lot better.

    The thing is, races are “real.” By real, I mean that people of different races usually look significantly different, and even though there are no substantial genetic differences, there are outward differences. And human nature makes us biased against people who look different than we do. So even though science has informed us that there’s no rational reason for racism, it persists. BUT… and this is very, very important… once it became common science knowledge that there’s no difference between races, it became socially unacceptable and LEGALLY unacceptable to be openly racist. People who are bound and determined to act openly racist must either move to a very rural poor community or keep their opinions and actions on the down low.

    But… witch burning is completely gone. You’d have to go to a third world country to find anyone even being accused of witchcraft. And to get away with a public burning? Forget it. Not gonna happen. Blame your infidelity on a spell? Nope. Epilepsy? Nope. Autism? Nope. There’s just nothing you can get away with blaming on witchcraft and be taken seriously by anyone.

    The thing is, witches and witchcraft are completely fictional. They don’t exist, and there’s no part of human nature to which we can attribute our fanatical fear of witchcraft for so many centuries. This is evident since there is no more fanatical fear of witchcraft in 1st world countries. Remove the meme, and the cultural attitudes and behaviors disappear completely.

    So… there you go. People do get more moral, and even when their behaviors are rooted in human evolution, more science and reason help them to be LESS evil, even if they can’t eradicate all the “evil” from their human natures.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 14, 2011, 2:41 pm
  31. CB, so your answer is… “Yeah… you’re right… but I’m still right?”

    Ok… thanks for your contribution.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 14, 2011, 5:59 pm
  32. To Alex, I have a book recommendation

    Mistakes were made….not by ME!
    By Carol Tarvis and Elliot Arnonson

    http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1300136810&sr=8-2

    Hamby will find this extremely difficult to believe, but even I can be quite stubborn sometimes.

    By Alison’s reasoning, we ought to still be lynching people we don’t like since we could just find another reason besides race.

    No, that’s not my argument. I’m not saying people will hate blacks/Arabs/Jews/short people anyway, I’m saying we’ll hate anyway.

    We’re not doing us vs them on race in America or to blacks. Now we’re doing it in Iraq and Afghanistan to Arabs and Pashtuns.

    I’m not saying the people said “I’m tired of hating blacks, let’s get ’em Arabs!” , nor am I saying the same people who hated black people, now hate Arabs [though it’s rather likely] What I am saying is that the mechanisms got redirected, rather than addressed.

    We still think America is number one with apple pie and cherry trees. You may say that’s a belief…and you’d be right. But we can’t just wish it to go away. We have to do something about it, and we have to do it right or else we just think we’re addressing the issue when we’re not.

    The thing is, witches and witchcraft are completely fictional. They don’t exist, and there’s no part of human nature to which we can attribute our fanatical fear of witchcraft for so many centuries. This is evident since there is no more fanatical fear of witchcraft in 1st world countries. Remove the meme, and the cultural attitudes and behaviors disappear completely.

    While, Communism, Islam, Christianity etc… isn’t in our nature, the hatred, bigotry and bias still is. While I can reject any of these, doesn’t mean I won’t pick another one up.

    Nazism was a major cause of war back in the 30’s/40’s, now that we got rid of Nazism is there less war?

    Wars were started well before WWII without Nazism or Anti-semitism to move them along. What if after WWI, instead of just blogging about how hateful Hitler was [yes I know blogging wasn’t popular in the 30’s], we took action and prevented Germany from becoming a shit hole? What if we took action, rather than reaction? Instead of arguing whether Hitler was a Catholic or a closet atheist or a Pagan and how evil he is because he’s one of those, we helped Germany back on it’s feet?

    What if trying to find Bin Laden in cave #842 in middle of fuckingnowhereistan, and blogging about the evils of Islam, we stopped bombing innocent Arabs? I’m not saying we should stop looking for Bin Laden or not blog about Islam, but what do you think will be more effective?

    We’re playing whack a mole, whack the random evil ideology of the decade/century and wait for the other one to pop up. I’m sick of playing that game, I want on fair swoop and take them all out at once.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 14, 2011, 6:42 pm
  33. We’re playing whack a mole, whack the random evil ideology of the decade/century and wait for the other one to pop up. I’m sick of playing that game, I want on fair swoop and take them all out at once.

    The problem is that, as Hamby said, life has gotten more moral for more people as we’ve whacked each mole. I’m all for you pegging away at the “root cause”, but I don’t think you’ll ever find it.

    What if trying to find Bin Laden in cave #842 in middle of fuckingnowhereistan, and blogging about the evils of Islam, we stopped bombing innocent Arabs? I’m not saying we should stop looking for Bin Laden or not blog about Islam, but what do you think will be more effective?

    I think that perhaps you are missing a minor point here. I’m not personally bombing any Arabs, I didn’t vote for anyone who voted for bombing any Arabs, and I’m personally against bombing any Arabs. Beyond blogging about the problem (and other such tactics, like protesting, writing my senator(s), etc…) how am I supposed to stop such activities?

    Now… I used race and witchcraft to illustrate a very important point. These are two different kinds of “evils” and illustrate precisely why Alison’s argument fails to take into account the unique power of faith.

    What’s funny is that “faith” was used to justify both of these atrocious behaviors. Wonder where we’d be without it…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 15, 2011, 10:02 am
  34. “CB, so your answer is, ‘Yeah, you’re right, but I’m still right?'”

    Well, it appears that such is what you WANT my answer to be — you’re free to (mis)interpret my responses any way you like…

    Again, going back to the cutesy graphic you posted on March 11 at 2:28 PM, I’m stating that it’s wrong, in that people who were militant and atheists did kill people, in large numbers and with alarmingly ruthless efficiency, in flagrant contrast to your insipid characterization of the “militant” atheist being nothing more than a coffee-quaffing peacenik.

    But, but, but…but… COMMUNISM! is your response? Well, hell, it looks like YOU are the one agreeing with ME! Karl Marx wrote that “Communism begins from the outset with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.”

    Vladimir Lenin followed up with, “A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could.”

    What that means, arguably, is that “Communism” IS “militant atheism”.

    “Ok… thanks for your contribution.”

    Oh, no, thank YOU!

    Posted by CB | March 15, 2011, 2:54 pm
  35. Ok… so if I understand correctly, you’re suggesting that because communism (in the Marxist and Stalinist conception) includes atheism in its description, and because communism includes a militant method of control, that it is the equivalent of militant atheism. Is that approximately correct?

    If that’s what you’re saying, then we’ll run with your model. The U.S. Army, by your standards, are militant theists. Included in their mission statement is the explicit belief in the spiritual aspect of human existence. They include and promote Christianity in many aspects of “soldier life.” That’s good enough to qualify by the same logic you used on Communists. I’m perfectly justified in calling every U.S. military action the work of militant theists. Are you good with that?

    If you’re ok with that categorization, then fine. I’ll grant you that there have been militant atheists before. But I don’t know if that actually gets us very far. It’s more like name-calling and less like ferreting out real cause and effect.

    I don’t know how much you’ve read on this blog, CB, but here’s something very important you need to understand about my beliefs: I don’t believe in “atheism” as… well… anything at all. In its current philosophical conception, it’s a “no” answer to the question “Is THIS what you believe in?” Think of it this way…

    Do you believe aliens are responsible for creating the universe? No.
    Do you believe transdimensional sheep created the universe? No.
    Do you believe Thetons are responsible for human misery? No.
    Do you believe in ESP? No.
    Do you believe there are any god(s)? No.

    Ok… Now… if you’ve asked me all those questions and received the NO answers, do you know what I do believe? No. You do not.

    With that little tidbit out of the way, let me go ahead and answer a question that’s pertinent to your comments. Do I believe that communism is a good form of government? No. I do not.

    The next question you ought to ask is very important…

    Why don’t I believe that communism is a good form of government?

    Communism is as faith based as theism. There’s no rational reason for believing in it. It requires blind faith in the government (or the leader of the government), and demands that the facts mold themselves to the theory, not the other way around. And that’s precisely the kind of thing I’m campaigning against in theism.

    So if you want to think of Stalin and Marx as “militant atheists,” then fine. But I’m going to immediately adjust my language, and instead of the cartoon caption reading “militant atheists,” it’s going to read “militant scientific rationalists.” It doesn’t ring as well, but it’s an accurate representation of what the cartoonist was portraying. So I’ll ask you this: Can you name any militant scientific rationalists? That is, military or government leaders who have used force to coerce a society into being scientific?

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 5:03 pm
  36. In your campaign against theism, would you use force to coerce a society into being scientific, if you had the power to do so?

    Will a militant scientific rationalist ignore rational scientific questions to avoid disruption of their current tenets of faith?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 15, 2011, 5:20 pm
  37. In your campaign against theism, would you use force to coerce a society into being scientific, if you had the power to do so?

    No.

    Will a militant scientific rationalist ignore rational scientific questions to avoid disruption of their current tenets of faith?

    (Whoops… hit submit too early, sorry.)

    I don’t think “militant” and “scientific rationalist” are compatible. Or, at least as far as the “human sciences” go. If one follows the scientific evidence, he knows that we cannot “force” someone to think anything at all. We can only force them to act. And scientific rationalism is all about how someone thinks.

    Scientific rationalism can only be done voluntarily.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 5:27 pm
  38. If a scientific rationalist ignores rational scientific questions because they disrupt his current thinking, i.e. tenets of faith, would he then be considered militant?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 15, 2011, 6:04 pm
  39. Not unless he picked up a gun and threatened you if you didn’t agree with him.

    If a scientific rationalist ignores the evidence and holds an unsupported belief, he’s being irrational.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 6:20 pm
  40. (P.S. A scientific rationalist can’t have theistic faith. The two are mutually incompatible. I assume by “tenet of faith,” you are talking about faith defined as “belief in a partially supported conclusion where some doubt exists.”)

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 6:21 pm
  41. Yes, that is an acceptable definition. When considering the beginning of all things and the question of creation, many atheists believe there was no beginning. Rather the universe, sun, planets, etc. have always existed. Would this describe your belief?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 15, 2011, 6:32 pm
  42. I don’t spend a lot of time on cosmology. I don’t know enough about it to have a well formed opinion. If you made me place a dollar bet, I’d say that space/time as we know it has existed for a finite amount of time, and that discussing “time” existing before “time” is nonsensical.

    Incidentally, my lack of an opinion on cosmological origins is almost a complete non-factor in my lack of belief in a deity. If you haven’t read my critique of the Kalam, you can find it here.

    Here’s the tl;dr summary: The Kalam is a shitty argument that presupposes what it’s trying to prove.

    Not being a cosmologist, I choose to leave the question in the hands of people who actually know how to do the math. I’m certainly not going to trust a theologian who’s never even bought a damn telescope. You know what I mean?

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 6:52 pm
  43. Thanks ham! I’m going to read your critique of Kalam (never heard it called that before). And then for the asshole Alex I’ll check out Wikipedia. And for myself I’ll check out some other sources. Then I’ll be back.

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 15, 2011, 7:34 pm
  44. Ok Dwight. Take care, and I’ll see you on the flip side 🙂

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2011, 8:56 pm
  45. From the asshole Alex: nice to know I’ve had so much impact on you. I keep telling Hamby us assholes are at least partially effective at creating dialog, people just end up using the word asshole a lot during said dialog.

    p.s. Mistakes were made, but not by me (yes I have read the book, and I’m still not wrong).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 16, 2011, 8:30 am
  46. Ok, so if I understand correctly, you’re suggesting that because communism (in the Marxist and Stalinist conception) includes atheism in its description, and because communism includes a militant method of control, that it is the equivalent of militant atheism. Is that approximately correct?

    I am ammused by how you seem rather incessant in trying to minimize atheism’s role in Communism; no, the point isn’t that “communism (in the Marxist and Stalinist conception) includes atheism in its description”, but that atheism is foundational to Communism. In other words, based on the writings of Marx and Lenin, it would seem that Communism, as expounded by Marx/Lenin, wound not exist if not for atheism.

    The U.S. Army, by your standards, are militant theists.

    Well, to be more accurate, by Marx’s and Lenin’s standards, but regardless, this assertion appears remarkably tu quoque in nature. Does that mean you lose?

    I’m perfectly justified in calling every U.S. military action the work of militant theists.

    If you say so, but it still reeks of tu quoque argument.

    Ok… Now… if you’ve asked me all those questions and received the NO answers, do you know what I do believe? No. You do not.

    Perhaps, but I suspect that I would not be too far off-based in deducing that you adopt a materialist philosophy, whether formally or informally.

    I’m going to immediately adjust my language, and instead of the cartoon caption reading “militant atheists,” it’s going to read “militant scientific rationalists.”

    Fine by me, as it would therefore cease to be pretending that atheism inevitably leads to anything resembling enlightenment, as the term “atheist” has been abandoned completely. Furthermore, in spite of your assertions to the contrary, I believe a theist can indeed be a “scientific rationalist”, as it was ultimately the belief that God created an orderly, rational Universe that could be comprehended by Man’s rational thought processes (also created by God) that lead Bacon to come up with the scientific method in the first place.

    Aphorism XXIII of the First Book: There is a great difference between the Idols of the human mind and the Ideas of the divine. That is to say, between certain empty dogmas, and the true signatures and marks set upon the works of creation as they are found in nature. (Bacon, F., The Works, ed. by J. Speeding, R. L. Ellis, and D.D. Heath, London, Vol. IV (1901) p 51)

    Posted by CB | March 16, 2011, 1:46 pm
  47. If you say so, but it still reeks of tu quoque argument.

    Well, yeah. Because it is. That’s why I followed that statement with this one: “But I don’t know if that actually gets us very far. It’s more like name-calling and less like ferreting out real cause and effect.” I’m sorry you didn’t get what I was saying, but I was criticizing this whole line of conversation as nothing more than name calling. I’m giving it more attention than it deserves because I hope to convince you and others not to even use it in the future. It doesn’t accomplish anything.

    In other words, based on the writings of Marx and Lenin, it would seem that Communism, as expounded by Marx/Lenin, wound not exist if not for atheism.

    Ok. So you and I mean different things when we use the word “atheism.” Please rest assured that the atheism I espouse cannot possibly be used as a foundation for communism, since there is absolutely nothing that logically follows from my atheism. Not one thing. And if nothing follows, then it can’t possibly be foundational to any philosophy.

    Perhaps, but I suspect that I would not be too far off-based in deducing that you adopt a materialist philosophy, whether formally or informally.

    If you have read my blog at any length, you don’t need to suspect what my philosophy is. But that’s not relevant to the point at hand, which is that the descriptor “atheist” doesn’t provide any information about a person’s philosophy.

    And actually, I’m not a big fan of the word “materialism” to describe my philosophy. Yes, I do believe that all that exists is space/time/matter/energy, but that belief is not a foundation. It’s a conclusion. So I’m not really a materialist in the traditional sense. I don’t begin with the assumption of materialism. I arrive at it as a conclusion.

    Fine by me, as it would therefore cease to be pretending that atheism inevitably leads to anything resembling enlightenment, as the term “atheist” has been abandoned completely.

    Exactly, CB! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Atheism doesn’t lead to enlightenment. It doesn’t lead to anything. It’s the answer to the question “Do you believe in god(s)?” That’s it. That’s all it is in my philosophy. Nothing more. It is not foundational to anything. It doesn’t lead to anything. It doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t do anything. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.

    Furthermore, in spite of your assertions to the contrary, I believe a theist can indeed be a “scientific rationalist”, as it was ultimately the belief that God created an orderly, rational Universe that could be comprehended by Man’s rational thought processes (also created by God) that lead Bacon to come up with the scientific method in the first place.

    Ahem… I suppose Bacon invented science… in the same way that Al Gore invented the internet… but ok…

    I think perhaps you’ve put your cart before the horse. Maybe you should be careful of equating that which was believed by earliest scientists with some sort of scientific principle. I have no doubt that many early scientific thinkers believed in god or gods of many varieties. Science was in its infancy, and though they had the basic methodology in place to be scientific rationalists, they did not have enough information — which we have accumulated with the scientific method over several centuries — to reach the conclusion that the universe gives no indication of interaction with anything that could be called a god.

    The basic point is that yes, many scientists believed in god in the past. That conclusion is much more unreasonable now that we have discovered far more about our universe.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 16, 2011, 4:07 pm
  48. Atheists often point out how it is impossible to reason with a Christian because their beliefs are based on faith rather than science. The reason I asked “Will a militant scientific rationalist ignore rational scientific questions to avoid disruption of their current tenets of faith? is because it is my premise that atheists will ignore scientific or rational thought which contradicts their faith/religion. But rather than just point out how all humans (atheists and theists) can be boneheaded, all I want to do it make a reasonable argument that the basis of my faith is neither unreasonable nor worthy of ridicule.

    In your last reply and your argument against Kalam you said you “don’t spend a lot of time on cosmology” and “Primarily, I avoid it because it’s not especially relevant to most people.” Further, “my lack of an opinion on cosmological origins is almost a complete non-factor in my lack of belief in a deity”. If my premise is correct, this would be a normal atheistic position if the questions raised about First Cause/Kalam do not support the atheist position. We would also find some poorly argued excuses to discredit First Cause. And I will offer that too is true.

    First Cause is my preferred name for the cosmological argument because it also implies “first things first”. I cannot bypass origins and pick up a discussion of man’s existence or the “unmovable mover’s” existence at some point billions of years following the origin. I am encouraged that you are willing to bet a dollar on a finite existence. The science supporting the Big Bang Theory (not the tv show) would be a good reason to up your bet. And the deteriorating condition of our yellow sun should increase your confidence even more. These scientific facts are relatively new discoveries and give credence to an old philosophical argument. And that is all First Cause is: an argument that something bigger exists. It is not a proof of Christianity or any other religion. It simply addresses the likelihood of a creator(s).

    Much of your argument against Kalam is that supporters presuppose what they are trying to prove. While this may be true with Craig, the idea has been around a long time and not all supporters even believe in a One. So this argument is erroneous. I could make the same argument that you ignore rational reasoning because you presuppose only that which can be proven scientifically can be true.

    You continue by arguing that known laws don’t necessarily apply to an existence outside our own. That has nothing to do with First Cause, which is an argument that something outside our existence must exists because of known laws. It places no restrictions on that something because it is outside our science and knowledge. That is what makes it supernatural. If man did not examine things outside the known he would never gain knowledge. So your argument is specious.

    Don’t take my attack on your arguments personally. I have examined many arguments against First Cause and even your best known such as Dawkins, Hume and Kant offer only shallow attempts.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmological-argument/

    So I am back to my original question. Do you and other atheists ignore First Cause because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion? Shouldn’t a scientific rationalist consider philosophical arguments where no science is yet available? Is it the height of arrogance to reject all possibilities except those your feeble mind is capable of comprehending?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 16, 2011, 4:52 pm
  49. So I am back to my original question. Do you and other atheists ignore First Cause because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion?

    No, we ignore it for exactly the same reason provided earlier. We (most people, atheist or theist) are not well enough educated on the subject to offer an intelligent opinion, thus the rational thing to do is reserve judgement unless judgement is required. In this case it is not. I think, therefore I am, no need to examine a question about how I got here that I cannot answer (unless I wish to, and I do not).

    Shouldn’t a scientific rationalist consider philosophical arguments where no science is yet available?

    No, if there is no science available for answering a question, either invent science to do so, or accept the question cannot be answered. Philosophy does not answer scientific questions (except in the sense of logic, but that is not useful in generating new knowledge, only in determining the veracity of existing knowledge).

    Is it the height of arrogance to reject all possibilities except those your feeble mind is capable of comprehending?

    Again, no. If you cannot comprehend something, you should defer to what those who are say, and accept it. I cannot comprehend the science behind global warming, thus I trust the climatologists about it. I cannot comprehend cosmology, thus I accept the cosmologists opinion, and they do not yet have a scientific consensus on the origins of our universe.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 16, 2011, 6:37 pm
  50. Forgot these:

    If man did not examine things outside the known he would never gain knowledge.

    The problem is that outside the known and outside our universe are not the same thing at all.

    So this argument is erroneous. I could make the same argument that you ignore rational reasoning because you presuppose only that which can be proven scientifically can be true.

    Please point out something that is both rational and cannot be proven scientifically true? This is like saying find something blue (completely) that is not blue (in any way).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 16, 2011, 6:40 pm
  51. Alex wrote:

    I cannot comprehend the science behind global warming, thus I trust the climatologists about it.

    I think if you devoted a little time to it, you could comprehend the basic idea behind global warming. Some substances (greenhouse gases) are transparent to certain wavelengths of light, and opaque to others. Light passes through them, and then when it hits the surface of the earth, the wavelength changes (some of the energy gets absorbed). When the reflected light heads up back toward the atmosphere, it can no longer pass through. It gets reflected back down toward the earth, and the heat gets trapped. The more greenhouse gases we have in the atmosphere, the more heat will get trapped, thus raising the temperature of our climate.

    Now there are additional factors that complicate the situation, and unless we want to devote years of study to the field, we will want to put some stock in expert opinion–but with an important caveat. We need the experts to provide us with some evidence to back up their claims. This they can do–we’ve seen a recent increase in the global temperature which coincides with a massive increase in greenhouse gases released by human activity. Climatologists can also point to Venus, which is far hotter than it ought to be due to the greenhouse effect.

    It’s important to subject the claims that experts make to critical evaluation, because otherwise they become a modern day priesthood, as far beyond accountability as the oracles of old. For any claim that an expert insists laypeople accept, I propose that a rational skeptic should insist that it meet three criteria:

    1. A layperson can have a basic understanding of the claim. If Hawking can give a layman’s explanation of quantum physics, then I can’t imagine that there’s anything which is so esoteric that it can’t be communicated to non-specialists.

    2. Consensus among relevant experts. No layperson is obligated to accept a claim which notable experts in the relevant field reject.

    3. Evidence to back up the claim.

    The problem is that outside the known and outside our universe are not the same thing at all.

    Yes they are. When someone says “universe,” what they usually mean is, “known universe,” where “known universe” is what they know about the universe. Our concept of what the universe is has changed quite a bit as we’ve gained knowledge, and it’s certain that our current picture of the universe will look quite parochial after a couple centuries (millenia if the Republicans have anything to say about it…)

    What the “metaphysical” really is is speculation that stands on the far side of an epistemic boundary. If people want to speculate about these things, that’s fine. As long as they take their ideas with a grain of salt. Who knows, it might lead to something useful.

    But as far as the Kalam goes, I think Chris Hitchens gave the best counter I’ve heard to that, when he said he’s an atheist, not an adeist. Theism depends on the authority of special revelation, and I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument to support that.

    And evaluating the Kalam by the criteria I proposed above, it does meet the first one, but it fails the other two. There is certainly no consensus among experts, be they scientists or philosophers, and the arguments from evil and poor design cast serious evidential doubts on the claim.

    Posted by Ian | March 16, 2011, 10:35 pm
  52. I think if you devoted a little time to it, you could comprehend the basic idea behind global warming.

    My definition of comprehend is more thorough than this. I did not say I was not capable, just that I do not currently (and have intention of ever). Similarly with cosmology.

    Yes they are. When someone says “universe,” what they usually mean is, “known universe,” where “known universe” is what they know about the universe.

    Not me.
    Known Universe = known
    Universe = knowable, barring a multiverse exists, in which case: Universe = time/space/matter/energy environment within a framework of constraints, outside of which those constraints no longer hold true (which is thus outside said universe and is a single universe within a multiverse).

    As to the rest, we agree (which was already known).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 8:49 am
  53. “For any claim that an expert insists laypeople accept, I propose that a rational skeptic should insist that it meet three criteria:…”

    Ian, it is nice to see rational thought here. I think you have a reasonable proposal. When applied to man-made global warming color me a rational skeptic. I understand the subject. Contrary to proponents continued claim of consensus, none exists. And there is plenty of evidence against man made global warming. I offer http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm

    “But as far as the Kalam goes, I think Chris Hitchens gave the best counter I’ve heard to that, when he said he’s an atheist, not an adeist. Theism depends on the authority of special revelation, and I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument to support that.”

    I had not heard Hitchen’s comment. I wonder if this indicates he leaves his mind open to deism? I am doubtful.

    As for theism, we will never capture a picture of God, however I have seen paintings of Jesus. 🙂 A compelling defense of the bible might allow for the authenticity of Jesus’ miracles. They number in the thousands but my guess is few atheists would be compelled. I occasionally hear of “proofs/evidence” of old testament stories like the parting of the Red Sea, Noah’s Ark, and the like, but do not know their current worth. Otherwise, personal accounts are likely the only possible compelling arguments and atheists would be predispose to reject. I agree consensus will not be possible (at least until Jesus returns).  Hence faith.

    “Climatologists can also point to Venus, which is far hotter than it ought to be due to the greenhouse effect.”
    I had no idea we had humans on Venus. LOL

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 17, 2011, 1:12 pm
  54. My definition of comprehend is more thorough than this.

    Then it’s unnecessarily rigorous. Comprehension, for a layperson, is not expected to be on par with that of a specialist. But for an issue like this laypeople are responsible for knowing enough about the science to participate in an informed discussion of the issue. Obviously, the opinion of experts is a crucially important part of the discussion, but if our argument is “I can’t comprehend the science behind global warming, but the experts say we need to devote billions to combating it, so we need to do it,” then we’re doing our cause a disservice.

    Universe = time/space/matter/energy

    The problem is that we don’t know that these concepts constitute an exhaustive understanding of the universe. Perhaps something like Plato’s universals are necessary to complete the model; who knows.

    That was my point. If we define “universe” as “time/space/matter/energy environment within a framework of constraints,” we’re defining the known universe, as opposed to the totality of everything that exists, which must include the unknown. And we won’t be able to say that your definition is capable of describing the unknown until we obtain a more complete understanding of the universe.

    As to the rest, we agree (which was already known).

    I don’t know that we agree on this. In reference to Dwight’s question, “Shouldn’t a scientific rationalist consider philosophical arguments where no science is yet available?” your answer seems to be “No, let the experts handle it,” whereas I’m saying, “Yes, we ought to give it consideration.”

    If we just leave it up to the experts, then we’re not participating in the debate between atheism and theism, on a very relevant issue. And if we want to defend our world view as rational, we’re going to want a better answer to the Kalam than an appeal to authority.

    Posted by Ian | March 17, 2011, 1:41 pm
  55. Dwight wrote:

    Ian, it is nice to see rational thought here.

    Thank you! It’s nice to have a member of the Dunder-Mifflin team joining us here. How’s Michael?

    Contrary to proponents continued claim of consensus, none exists. And there is plenty of evidence against man made global warming. I offer http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm

    That’s from the Oregon Petition, which is not a scientific body of national or international significance. It’s not clear to me why their opinion would be of interest to a rational skeptic.

    I had not heard Hitchen’s comment. I wonder if this indicates he leaves his mind open to deism? I am doubtful.

    It was in a debate with Frank Turek, and only Hitchens knows whether he’s open to deism or not. My opinion is that deism is plausible, certainly in better shape than it was a century ago, but it doesn’t have any real advantages over competing metaphysical theories which attempt to explain the origin of existence. And deism by itself doesn’t shed much light on the meaning of life, so even if it were true, it wouldn’t necessarily have a substantive impact on an atheistic world view.

    personal accounts are likely the only possible compelling arguments and atheists would be predispose to reject.

    I don’t completely discount those; it’s possible there’s something we don’t understand going on there. The problem with theism is that there are many different ways to interpret those experiences, and the epistemic values of theism don’t allow for a rational study of the phenomena.

    I had no idea we had humans on Venus. LOL

    Venus demonstrates how drastic the greenhouse effect can be. So if we acknowledge that we are adding greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, and that the effect of this is to raise the global temperature, and we can see that greenhouse gases did have a tremendous impact on the temperature of Venus, then isn’t it reasonable to conclude that we are going to raise the global temperature on earth?

    Posted by Ian | March 17, 2011, 2:42 pm
  56. I had not heard Hitchen’s comment. I wonder if this indicates he leaves his mind open to deism? I am doubtful.

    I can’t speak for Hitchens, but I can tell you that the idea of dogmatic adherence to a god paradigm is the primary milieu of theists, not atheists. I can tell you that I’m perfectly willing to accept evidence of deism, just as I’m perfectly willing to accept evidence of theism. I suspect that Hitchens would say the same thing.

    There is a caveat, though. I suspect that many theists get their panties in a twist over the caveat. Evidence for any kind of god would have to be proportionally exceptional to the nature of the deity.

    If you want me to believe in a god who can perform miracles, stop time, and so forth, then I want to see verifiable miracles. Here’s an example: Suppose that tomorrow, every television on earth simultaneously started playing “Amazing Grace,” whether it was plugged in, turned on, or not. Then, suppose a disembodied image of a Middle Eastern man in Bronze Age clothes stepped out of the television screen and addressed each observer by name in their native language and said, “I am Jesus, and I am the Lord of the Universe. The Bible is correct. You must believe in it to get to heaven.”

    Now… that would get me thinking fairly seriously about the existence of a god named Jesus. I would certainly want to investigate other claims. Have the Chinese invented some kind of super holograph technology and combined it with Facebook to learn people’s private information? Have there been spy satellites working on this for a decade? Is it possible that the thing is a hoax? But… with no evidence forthcoming that it was not genuine, I might very well change my mind. But it would take something nearly that extraordinary to counter the mountains of evidence that the Christian god is so much hokum.

    It would be much easier to convince me of a deist god. The first thing that would make a deist god seem plausible would be proof of a multiverse. That would give a deist god somewhere outside of our universe where it could exist. To make such a god seem probable, I’d need to know more about the mechanics of “universe creation.” If we discovered, for example, that black holes are actually the beginnings of singularities, and that each black hole will eventually spawn a new universe, I could be convinced that a super intelligent alien could intentionally create a black hole, and thus be responsible for creating a universe. We could dicker over whether it was really a “god” or just a super alien, but I’d be willing to call it a deist god.

    For any other deity, I want to see proof of whatever it is that god does. And the more it violates the universal principles I’ve come to accept as scientific fact, the more skeptical I’m going to be, and the more massive the weight of the evidence will have to be.

    This position isn’t unreasonable at all. In fact, it’s necessary to even call yourself a skeptic. If we accepted all claims based on some arbitrary level of evidence, no matter how convincing, we wouldn’t be skeptics. We’d be paper pushers.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 17, 2011, 4:28 pm
  57. Dwight and Asshole… err… Alex:

    I think we need to clarify something. When we say we accept the word of qualified scientists on various subjects, we are not doing so blindly, nor are we accepting their word unconditionally. As Ian said, we are looking at how the science is treated, how well its demonstrated, and how much of a consensus exists.

    When I say I accept the word of cosmologists, I’m essentially saying this: “I do not know enough about this to form an opinion either way. It would take me decades to acquire such knowledge, and doing so isn’t important enough to me to drop everything else in my life. Therefore, I will conditionally accept Hawkings’ ideas as representing the best guesses we have.”

    That’s a LOT different than saying, “I don’t know, so Hawkings is right.”

    And that’s my gripe with people’s acceptance of Kalam as proof of anything. It’s basically throwing one’s hands up in the air and calling the unknown “god.” It’s a philosophical exercise, not a scientific one. And as Alex said, philosophy doesn’t prove anything empirical. It gives us tools for analyzing the data we obtained scientifically. So… Kalam is an empty argument.

    This doesn’t prove or disprove anything. And that’s the point. And that’s why I don’t worry about cosmology in a god argument. It doesn’t help, and it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t do anything.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 17, 2011, 4:44 pm
  58. Ian,

    I don’t know that we agree on this. In reference to Dwight’s question, “Shouldn’t a scientific rationalist consider philosophical arguments where no science is yet available?” your answer seems to be “No, let the experts handle it,” whereas I’m saying, “Yes, we ought to give it consideration.”

    This is a simple misunderstanding of intent. By saying “No…” I’m not saying have no debate and simple appeal to authority. I’m saying examine the evidence (including that provided by experts) with a rational methodology, come to your own conclusions using whatever level of depth necessary for your satisfaction, and move on. If you wish to be an expert, then by all means do so, but if not, learn enough to understand what is being discussed, enough to have an intelligent opinion if desired (i.e. if you’re going to argue about it, you better have an intelligent opinion), but do not consider yourself an expert and allude to them being wrong (as in climate change).

    To continue to climate change example, I fully understand how it works. Probably better than the average American (that’s not saying much, but I’m American, so who shall I compare myself to), but no where near as well as a climatologist. I would say I comprehend it, but if someone well versed in climatology has a differing opinion on the subject I’m not prepared to counter them. I would simply have to differ to the experts. To them, I would say I do not comprehend your arguments (and have no intention of doing so).

    As to the rest, I’ll defer to the experts (you and Hamby are more thoroughly versed in this subject than I am, others I’m not so sure). I will however leave with this, we agree (we just don’t understand each other). Other than the way you portrayed (which leads me to think I’ve poorly presented it, and/or do not thoroughly understand it myself) my position, I cannot disagree with anything you said.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 4:55 pm
  59. and have no intention of doing so

    To be clear, by this I mean that I am not adequately versed to offer thorough peer review of a scientific opinion dissenting from the mainstream on climate change, and thus would await those who do to comment on such a (potentially) world altering breakthrough.

    I do not foresee this occurring.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 4:57 pm
  60. When I say I accept the word of cosmologists, I’m essentially saying this: “I do not know enough about this to form an opinion either way. It would take me decades to acquire such knowledge, and doing so isn’t important enough to me to drop everything else in my life. Therefore, I will conditionally accept Hawkings’ ideas as representing the best guesses we have.”

    That’s a LOT different than saying, “I don’t know, so Hawkings is right.”

    Exactly.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 5:07 pm
  61. I think that perhaps you are missing a minor point here. I’m not personally bombing any Arabs, I didn’t vote for anyone who voted for bombing any Arabs, and I’m personally against bombing any Arabs. Beyond blogging about the problem (and other such tactics, like protesting, writing my senator(s), etc…) how am I supposed to stop such activities?

    Alex, the point I was trying to get across is that it seems that if there’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t involve stomping religion to the ground, atheists won’t vote for it and encourage others to go against it.

    If I proposed a solution to reduce war that didn’t involve arguing with religion, the atheist movement will shoot it down. If I propose a solution to reduce crime in the US without addressing religion, the atheist movement will shoot it down.

    I’m willing to bet the farm that if it was between a plan to stop bombing innocent Arabs and getting rid of Islam, atheists will chose the latter.
    Which brings me to your first point.

    The problem is that, as Hamby said, life has gotten more moral for more people as we’ve whacked each mole. I’m all for you pegging away at the “root cause”, but I don’t think you’ll ever find it.

    Do you know how long I’ve been trying to get Hamby to look into ‘root cause’? Everytime I do, I get slapped on the wrist and called a bad girl.

    We may find it, we might not. Just like we may find the cause of the Big Bang, we might not. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look or make quantum leaps in logic because we don’t have it right now.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 17, 2011, 5:16 pm
  62. We may find it, we might not. Just like we may find the cause of the Big Bang, we might not. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look or make quantum leaps in logic because we don’t have it right now.

    And you are free to find it.

    As to the what the atheist movement would or would not do, I think perhaps you’d be surprised. Also, why would we have to make that choice (to get rid of islam or stop bombing innocent arabs)?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 6:45 pm
  63. Wish there was an edit for me, but here we go:

    I’m willing to bet the farm that if it was between a plan to stop bombing innocent Arabs and getting rid of Islam, atheists will chose the latter.

    I think we’d find that doing the first would go a long way to doing the latter.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 17, 2011, 6:47 pm
  64. Alex wrote:

    I would say I comprehend it, but if someone well versed in climatology has a differing opinion on the subject I’m not prepared to counter them. I would simply have to differ to the experts.

    Ah, okay. You’re right, this is more of a misunderstanding than anything. I would do the same thing in that case. In my experience, though, it’s pretty rare to encounter someone who objects to global warming yet is well versed in climatology. Not saying it doesn’t happen–I’m just assuming a debate between laypeople with average knowledge of the subject.

    Posted by Ian | March 17, 2011, 6:52 pm
  65. I would do the same thing in that case. In my experience, though, it’s pretty rare to encounter someone who objects to global warming yet is well versed in climatology.

    Let me be clear, I mean well versed in climate denialism versions of climatology. I’ve yet to meet someone actually versed in climatology who disagrees with climate change’s accepted position.

    p.s. I’m still the resident asshole, so consider yourself pissed off for my disagreeable way of presenting this debate. 😉

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 18, 2011, 9:21 am
  66. “That’s from the Oregon Petition, which is not a scientific body of national or international significance. It’s not clear to me why their opinion would be of interest to a rational skeptic.”

    I can’t do all the research for you guys, but suffice it to say this list is just one of many examples of prominent scientists from applicable fields that have not bought into man-made global warming. Google the topic and look for verifiable statements from international scientists and Nobel prize winners. Another example: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=83323. Further, it is offensive when you claim the skeptics are any less knowledgeable than the proponents. That is without basis. So my rational position is that the science is not settled and we should not be spending money we do not have to go “green”.

    As for consensus I offer these words from Michael Crichton: “I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had….Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world…. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”

    Finally, you folks need to be consistent. You demand absolute proof to even consider the possibility of the existence of a supernatural being which could possibly have grave consequences for you. You ignore Big Bang causality even though it is fundamental to science, physics, logic, mathematics, etc. Yet you readily accept man-made global warming based on consensus, computer models, and extrapolated data. And then you ridicule anyone who does not share your faith! Hypocrites I say! Hyp.o.crites.

    “And deism by itself doesn’t shed much light on the meaning of life, so even if it were true, it wouldn’t necessarily have a substantive impact on an atheistic world view”

    I must be missing something here. Deism is a theological position that a supreme being created the universe. Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of a supreme being. That sounds like a substantial impact on your world view!

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 18, 2011, 4:18 pm
  67. Dwight wrote:

    As for consensus I offer these words from Michael Crichton

    You’re quoting a science fiction author in support of your argument against global warming?

    You do Dwight very well–I can so see him doing that.

    8/10

    Posted by Ian | March 18, 2011, 9:37 pm
  68. Come on Ian, I’m offering a well spoken opinion on the value of consensus when applied to science. He says nothing about global warming. It may interest you to know he was a Harvard graduate with a BA in biological anthropology….much more there than a science fiction writer.

    And that is the extent of your comments?

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 18, 2011, 11:20 pm
  69. Dwight wrote:

    I’m offering a well spoken opinion on the value of consensus when applied to science.

    You don’t, perhaps, think that citing a science fiction author might be appropriate to the nature of the science your position is based on? Appropriate in a way that doesn’t really bolster your argument?

    It may interest you to know he was a Harvard graduate with a BA in biological anthropology….much more there than a science fiction writer. And that is the extent of your comments?

    I’m not saying that his credentials are relevant to the discussion. Only that your comment is very much in character for your namesake, to the extent that I wonder how serious you are 😉

    Posted by Ian | March 19, 2011, 10:11 am
  70. I’m not saying that his credentials are relevant to the discussion. Only that your comment is very much in character for your namesake, to the extent that I wonder how serious you are

    It certainly does have an interesting continuity of character, doesn’t it? Poe is a real son of a bitch

    Posted by hambydammit | March 19, 2011, 12:56 pm
  71. You know Alex, I hope you’re right and that I would be surprised by how atheists vote but I don’t think I would be. My experience with the atheist movement has mostly been the “Rational” Response Squad for three years and Richard Dawkins forum for a bit then Sam Harris and Chris Hitchens. The atheists that don’t fit my atheist movement generalization are few and far between [though I freely acknowledge they exist].

    And no that wasn’t meant to be a binary choice, rather I used it to illustrate a point. It’s just that I don’t like the hand waving explanations of Hitchens/Harris. They seem to explicitly state that without getting rid of religion all other alternatives are futile whereas the empirical research show this is far from the truth.

    And that’s just the thing. Is this about spreading rational and critical thinking? If so, then we can’t ignore it when it comes to our claims.

    Posted by cptpineapple | March 19, 2011, 4:37 pm
  72. Ian and Hamby…..You avoid or ignore the merits of my main points and respond with character assasination. Very classy!

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 19, 2011, 9:42 pm
  73. We responded with an interesting (and somewhat trite) observation. If you have an argument, we’d love to hear it.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 20, 2011, 2:45 am
  74. p.s. Some famous guy agrees with me. Plus, he’s apparently really smart. There’s also this list on the internet of a bunch of people who are also really smart who agree with me. Ignore the fact that the list has issues with its veracity or applicability and that he is smart but not in a relevant way.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 20, 2011, 8:51 am
  75. I don’t remember how I ended up at this blog and in conversation with you folks, but I have enjoyed it. But I’ve come to realize that you are not really interested in hearing what is contrary to your beliefs. I’m not sure if it is boneheadness or intellectual dishonesty, but it doesn’t matter. When you don’t respond to the essence of an argument but choose instead to nitpick at the periphery, we are all wasting our time.

    Hamby, you really should check out Jesus with an open mind (don’t pretend yours is). His dislike for the religious leaders and hypocrites of that time is greater than your own if you can imagine that. You probably would have gotten along well. Except maybe that part where “every knee will bow…” So then again, maybe you would have been more like the religious elite yourself: too arrogant and prideful to submit to even the creator. Oh well, at least we can agree Jesus would have thought Alex was an asshole too!

    So guys, I’ve had fun. Enjoyed talking with you. And will see you on the other side………. errrr…… then again I probably will not.  God Bless you!

    Posted by Dwight K Schrute | March 20, 2011, 1:11 pm
  76. Dwight wrote:

    Ian and Hamby…..You avoid or ignore the merits of my main points and respond with character assasination. Very classy!

    In any other forum, if I ran across a poster who called himself Dwight Shrute or Borat or Eric Cartman, who argued the most wrong-headed position on every issue, I would have to conclude that that poster was a troll. When dealing with theists, however, I’ve found that a great many who set off my troll radar are actually not trolls. They’re sincere theists. So I try to be a bit more generous with them, but in your case, I don’t know if I buy it 😉

    Hamby wrote:

    Poe is a real son of a bitch

    Who is this Poe?

    Posted by Ian | March 20, 2011, 5:04 pm
  77. Who is this Poe?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

    Posted by hambydammit | March 20, 2011, 5:25 pm
  78. Speaking of Poe…

    So guys, I’ve had fun. Enjoyed talking with you. And will see you on the other side………. errrr…… then again I probably will not.  God Bless you!

    Translation: I think you guys are going to burn in hell. Have a nice day!

    Thanks for your comments, Dwight. I’m sorry it feels like you’re beating your head against a wall. We feel that way about you, too. And that’s the sad thing about religion. It builds walls where none need exist.

    You should really check out life without Jesus with an open mind. (Don’t pretend yours is.) It’s a place where right and wrong make sense without a parent figure dictating a list. Knowing that this life is all we get, it makes it that much more important to live well, love well, and try to leave things better than they were before us.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 20, 2011, 5:31 pm
  79. You know Alex, I hope you’re right and that I would be surprised by how atheists vote but I don’t think I would be.

    Your original question is a non-starter. It’s not really offering a realistic choice either way. But I will answer the spirit of your question. If I had a magic wand and had the ability to magically change the world such that America would never meddle in Middle East affairs again, OR the ability to erase the existence of Islam from the universe, I would have to ask some questions first. Does that mean that Muslims would forget America existed and never attack us again? Would they stop attacking our allies and forcing us into difficult diplomatic conditions?

    Since America is not the only nation that drops bombs on innocent Arabs, I must also ask: Will the Muslims stop attacking all international targets, such that nobody will ever have a reason to bomb them?

    If you answer yes to all these things, then it sounds like I have eliminated Islam from the face of the universe by preventing the bombing of innocents. So I think I win, whichever answer I pick. And that’s kind of the whole point. I think sometimes that you imagine me to have tunnel vision, and to not realize that the interaction of religion, human nature, world politics, etc, is far more complicated than a simple “Eliminate religion = Solve all problems” kind of thing. But that’s precisely the reason I pick one aspect of the “matrix” and focus on it. It’s too big, and too complicated to take on the whole thing and deal with it competently. I think faith is a big factor. Not the only factor. But one of the biggest. And it’s something I can help with.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 20, 2011, 5:42 pm
  80. Hamby, you really should check out Jesus with an open mind (don’t pretend yours is). His dislike for the religious leaders and hypocrites of that time is greater than your own if you can imagine that.

    I can’t find where anyone here has said they didn’t think this jesus guy was a righteous dude (giving you that he existed, another debate entirely). I imagine any reasonable person with a decent intellect hates these asshole hypocrites. Good thing I’m not one of them. 😉

    You probably would have gotten along well. Except maybe that part where “every knee will bow…” So then again, maybe you would have been more like the religious elite yourself: too arrogant and prideful to submit to even the creator.

    Or maybe we’d have all gotten in along with Doubting Thomas. A need for evidence isn’t arrogant or prideful. We’ve never been given any evidence that anything you’re saying (about belief, the debate about global warming is another matter, of which we have ample evidence you are being an idiot) has any grain of truth. I’m willing to bet that Jesus would have shown us the “Truth” or whatever if we’d been around then. Oh well.

    Oh well, at least we can agree Jesus would have thought Alex was an asshole too!

    Good to know you’re still judging people. Bet your imaginary friend loves it when you do that. Good thing you can decide what parts of your bible to follow and what parts to ignore.

    Alright, I’m with Hamby. Calling Poe on this one.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 20, 2011, 7:29 pm
  81. It’s more like name-calling and less like ferreting out real cause and effect. I’m sorry you didn’t get what I was saying, but I was criticizing this whole line of conversation as nothing more than name calling. I’m giving it more attention than it deserves because I hope to convince you and others not to even use it in the future. It doesn’t accomplish anything.

    Rather like the cutesy cartoon under discussion, yes?

    Seriously, if you are going to whine about name-calling and failing to move a discussion forward, then perhaps you should reconsider posting such graphics that are misleading at best and can be regarded as downright deceitful and arrogant. You may wish to drift through life thinking that “militant” theism is utterly malignant and “militant” atheism utterly benign as the cartoon seems to be asserting, but try not to be too surprised or upset when reminded that the historical reality is a bit more harsh and less cooperative to such a view..

    Ok. So you and I mean different things when we use the word “atheism.”

    Well, it appears that such is what you desperately want to believe, and yes, equivocation of one sort or another is something I have typically encountered when dealing with atheists. The bottom line appears to be something along the lines of you guys pointing fingers of accusation at the religious for the misguided actions of the few while, again rather desperately, trying to mitigate having the same done to you with regard to the atheist mass-murderers of the last century.

    So, equivocation and duplicity seem to be the order of the day…

    Please rest assured that the atheism I espouse cannot possibly be used as a foundation for communism, since there is absolutely nothing that logically follows from my atheism.

    And what, pray tell, is so bloody special about “your” atheism? Explain how some random schmuck would be utterly incapable of taking “your” atheism and using it as an excuse to do something malignant.

    After all, if there is no God, “nothing is unlawful”.

    If you have read my blog at any length, you don’t need to suspect what my philosophy is.

    In truth, I don’t particularly care what your philosophy is, and frankly, that isn’t even the issue. No, the issue at hand is your claim that, by answering a handful of questions in the negative, I would ostensibly be unable to “know” what your beliefs are. Well, again, you may be technically correct, and, depending on how nominalist we choose to be, it can be argued that we don’t really “know” anything at all. But I digress.

    The point is that I can indeed surmise what your philosophical outlook may be based on those answers you gave, and, as it turns out, I am not wrong. Of course, you wish to pretend that your materialism is somehow “different” from what you must consider “mainstream” materialism to be:

    Yes, I do believe that all that exists is space/time/matter/energy, but that belief is not a foundation. It’s a conclusion.

    A “conclusion”, eh? Well, bully for you I suppose, but I’m skeptical. Your assertions notwithstanding, it simply doesn’t follow that the logical conclusion to our increased knowledge of the Universe (however it’s defined from one moment to the next) is that a deity is not necessary. Indeed, when contemplating how life is constructed at the molecular level, with proteins made up of specified chains of amino acids, said chains often being hundreds or even thousands of links in length,, and folded into a specific three-dimensional shape, and considering how hundreds of different such proteins are assembled together to create the sub-molecular machines that are themselves assembled together to create even the simplest single-celled life forms, I submit that it takes more raw, blind faith to believe that purely material forces are sufficient to create such constructs rather than believe the teleological alternative.

    How would you react if I were to tell you that my theism was a conclusion and not the underlying premise to my world view?

    Exactly, CB! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Atheism doesn’t lead to enlightenment. It doesn’t lead to anything.

    Well, I can agree that it doesn’t necessarily lead to enlightenment, but then that’s my whole point — Christianity likewise doesn’t necessarily lead to violence. But your cartoon prepended the word “militant”, and that does have its ramifications in that militant anything, including atheism, can indeed lead to violence and bloodshed.

    Ahem… I suppose Bacon invented science… in the same way that Al Gore invented the internet… but ok…

    Well, as I’ve said before, you are free to misinterpret and misrepresent what I say any way you want. I didn’t claim that Bacon “invented” science, but he is credited with developing, or at the very least making a substantial contribution to what we currently call the scientific method. My point, which you seem quite interested in avoiding, is that his inspiration for his contribution was as I described earlier.

    I think perhaps you’ve put your cart before the horse. Maybe you should be careful of equating that which was believed by earliest scientists with some sort of scientific principle.

    And maybe you should comprehend what I actually assert. Bacon did write what I quoted him as writing, but I didn’t equate that with any kind of “scientific principle”. And I am fully aware that, since the time of Darwin, the scientific enterprise has been hijacked by materialism. My point is that what we call “modern science” was actually inspired by a very Christian outlook, that God created an orderly Universe that could be comprehended by Man’s God-given intellect, and I used Francis Bacon as an example to substantiate the claim.

    But again, since Darwin provided a seemingly feasible explanation for all biodiversity, and explanation that apparently could comport with a materialist outlook, that materialism has become the underlying premise to the scientific enterprise. According to biologist Richard Lewontin:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    (RICHARD LEWONTIN, January 9, 1997, NY Times Book Reviews, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, emphasis in original)

    This is why I find your claim to be so amusing, in that your “conclusion”, which is presumably based on your “scientific rationalism”, is itself based on materialist premise, which is to say that your claim, by all appearances, is nothing more that a circular argument.

    The basic point is that yes, many scientists believed in god in the past. That conclusion is much more unreasonable now that we have discovered far more about our universe.

    You are free to believe this with all your heart and mind, but Lewontin’s remarks rather undermine your assertion.

    Posted by CB | March 20, 2011, 8:19 pm
  82. The problem with your entire argument (speaking to CB), is that you can replace science in that quote with God and it is equally valid a statement.

    If you accept science despite something, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t accept science despite it’s failures, I accept it because of its successes. Sorry, Fail.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 21, 2011, 8:29 am
  83. Our willingness to accept theological claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of theology in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the theological community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to supernaturalism. It is not that the methods and institutions of theology somehow compel us to accept a supernatural explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to supernatural causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce supernatural explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that supernaturalism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Scientific Foot in the door.

    Alex Hardman, internet, circa 2011

    There, fixed that for you.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 21, 2011, 8:32 am
  84. The problem with your entire argument (speaking to CB), is that you can replace science in that quote with God and it is equally valid a statement.

    In other words, the “problem” with my argument is that anyone who wishes to avoid the point being made can respond in an utterly tu quoque fashion. Well, no kidding…that’s a fairly common “problem” there, chief.

    If you accept science despite something, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t accept science despite it’s failures, I accept it because of its successes.

    The issue isn’t whether a given person “accepts” science. The issue is what the foundation of the scientific enterprise actually is. I mean, hell, I am aware of what that foundation is and I still “accept” science — I just don’t try to pretend that it’s necessarily the only legitimate method for discerning truth.

    Sorry, Fail.

    Apology accepted, I suppose. After all, your apparent unwillingness to confront a point staring you right in the face is indeed an epic fail, but that’s hardly my fault.

    There, fixed that for you.

    Well, no, not really. Indeed, if anything, your tu quoque “fix” would appear to be appealing to a false dichotomy between religion and science. I am aware that people like Lewontin and Dawkins and Gould like to preach that there is indeed a dichotomy between the two. That’s what NOMA means, after all, a non-overlap, a dichotomy. However, just because there is a materialist premise to the scientific enterprise, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the evidence leads to a materialist outlook. On the contrary, it would appear that Lewontin’s remarks suggest otherwise, in his emphatic use of the phrase, “in spite of…” Furthermore, there are many Christians who ‘accept science”, but again, they just don’t buy into the idea that scientific explanations are the only “valid” explanations. Finally, again, my original premise is that it was the Christain view that God created a rational, orderly Universe that could be rationally comprehended by man’s intellect which kick-started the whole “modern” scientific enterprise in the first place. That the enterprise has subsequently been hijacked by materialism is inconsequential to the premise.

    Posted by CB | March 21, 2011, 3:06 pm
  85. I mean, hell, I am aware of what that foundation is and I still “accept” science — I just don’t try to pretend that it’s necessarily the only legitimate method for discerning truth.

    Please provide another.

    In other words, the “problem” with my argument is that anyone who wishes to avoid the point being made can respond in an utterly tu quoque fashion. Well, no kidding…that’s a fairly common “problem” there, chief.

    Actually, no. The problem is exactly what I said it was. That quote is garbage. It’s pretty obvious that you, and the quoted idiot, don’t understand science.

    in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs

    Wrong. The patent absurdity of its constructs are someones failure of understanding. Unless something is both absurd and true. In which, case I’d hardly use absurd to describe it.

    in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life

    I must have missed where science did this. Theology does this (and gives no method for proving itself a liar). If science did this, it could be debunked or proven. Again, that’s kind of how it works.

    in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories

    This is a failure on so many levels. Evidence is the basic requirement for science. That’s kind of the opposite of unsubstantiated just-so stories. Unless I’m completely misunderstanding what evidence and unsubstantiated mean…

    ell, no, not really. Indeed, if anything, your tu quoque “fix” would appear to be appealing to a false dichotomy between religion and science.

    Again, sorry, but fail. There is a dichotomy between anything that advocates the belief in something with no evidence (religion) and anything that requires evidence (science).

    Finally, again, my original premise is that it was the Christain view that God created a rational, orderly Universe that could be rationally comprehended by man’s intellect which kick-started the whole “modern” scientific enterprise in the first place.

    What? That makes no sense considering the historical record of science and advancement of various cultures around the globe.

    Feel free to keep trying, but you’re going to find it extremely difficult to convince anyone here that belief in that which can’t be proven (faith -> religion) is the basis for requiring evidence for beliefs (science).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 21, 2011, 4:10 pm
  86. Meant to add one other thing.

    The only reason we accept science is that it is the only method that has ever worked for finding truth, period. No other method has ever provided increases in knowledge (philosophy providing a method of determining the truth or falsity of a claim, not finding new claims). As I said glibly before, please provide another method if you think you have one.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 21, 2011, 4:18 pm
  87. To forestall a particular critique, I don’t think Lewontin is an idiot, merely that he sounded idiotic in that quote. The smartest amongst us occasionally says something retarded.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 21, 2011, 4:37 pm
  88. Accepting Alex’s mea culpa regarding Lewontin (he is not an idiot. He’s given to poor expression of decent ideas which genuine idiots often misunderstand), I just wanted to jump in and say that Alex is doing fine responding to CB, so I’m going to let this thread play out rather than jump in to say essentially the same things.

    You go, Alex.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 21, 2011, 4:46 pm
  89. Please provide another.

    Please comprehend what I wrote. Look up the word “necessarily” if necessary.

    Actually, no.

    Actually, yes:

    The problem is exactly what I said it was.

    And what you said was, and I quote (for the second time):

    The problem with your entire argument (speaking to CB), is that you can replace science in that quote with God and it is equally valid a statement.

    Well, whether you like it or not, what you just described was a tu quoque argument, taking my argument, replacing a key word or two, and throwing it back in my face. That is precisely what a tu quoque argument is, chief.

    That quote is garbage.

    Your subjective opinion, which you appear to be trying to pass off as “objective” fact, is noted.

    It’s pretty obvious that you, and the quoted idiot, don’t understand science.

    Well, your weak attempt to “forestall a particular critique” notwithstanding, I am amused by your claim that a biologist doesn’t understand science. No, I think the real problem is that Lewontin understands it just fine, but people like you simply don’t want to be in the position of having to defend what he stated, so you knee-jerk dismiss it as “garbage” instead.

    The patent absurdity of its constructs are someones failure of understanding.

    Yeah, that’s always the way, it seems. No matter how much I actually study and comprehend how the Neo-Darwinian model is supposed to work, the fact that I simply don’t buy it has to be due to my alleged “lack of understanding”. If you want an example of an assertion that’s garbage, there you go. Besides, I’m not even the one claiming that some of science’s constructs are “patently absurd” — biologist Richard Lewontin is.

    This is a failure on so many levels. Evidence is the basic requirement for science.

    So you materialists keep saying, but there simply isn’t any evidence of a number of things you guys claim to be established fact. For example, we have no evidence that the Darwinian model of random variation filtered by natural selection can create phyla or classes. The evidence we have only points to speciation. We have no evidence that unguided natural forces alone can produce a living organism, yet you materialists insist that such is the case. You even go so far as to insist that it has to have happened as many as a billion times in this Universe, even though we have no evidence of that at all. The fossil records doesn’t provide evidence of the gradualism between phenotypes X and Y and their alleged common ancestor W which the Darwinian model predicts and requires, And so forth.

    That’s kind of the opposite of unsubstantiated just-so stories

    Well, again, much of the Darwinian explanation is exactly that, just-so stories, such as the famous computer model describing how the mammalian eye allegedly evolved, or stories on how the feather must have evolved, and so forth. I have even seen a video of Richard Dawkins admitting that believing natural selection alone could create the feather was an article of faith on his part, because the Darwinian theory is “so powerful”… Of course, I am confident that you will utterly miss the point like you guys typically do…

    The smartest amongst us occasionally says something retarded.

    Translation: Sometimes a leading member of the science community allows the unwashed, knuckle-dragging masses a glimpse of the man behind the curtain, to mix a couple of metaphors.

    Posted by CB | March 22, 2011, 10:54 pm
  90. So, wait, let me get this straight. Because something is still in question, God did it? I’m confused as to how any of that steaming pile of misdirection and nonsense is supposed to lead somewhere.

    tl;dr summary: I disagree with something someone said and can’t provide a better explanation, but I love me some god did it and that’s what we’re gonna go with, because lots of really smart people have said the same thing…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 8:04 am
  91. p.s. Once again, for the mass retardation we seem to keep running into, faith != Faith. I don’t care who you can quote as saying they take X on faith because, as you keep misunderstanding, their faith is because the item in question fits the currently understood model and available evidence.

    I have faith the sun will rise this morning (because I have an insurmountable amount of evidence for that belief).

    I do not have Faith that God created DNA (just because I can’t provide another explanation doesn’t mean I’m going to accept some random nonsense to fill the gap).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 8:08 am
  92. Last one, just because you’re still wrong.

    Well, whether you like it or not, what you just described was a tu quoque argument, taking my argument, replacing a key word or two, and throwing it back in my face. That is precisely what a tu quoque argument is, chief.

    Actually, no it’s not. My argument is valid. Everything I said (in my corrected statement of that asinine quote) is accurate. The original was not. Period. Not valid.

    We do not accept things in spite of their validity is science. We do not accept just so stories. We accept evidence and go where it leads. I’m sorry if you do otherwise, but then you’re not doing science.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 8:11 am
  93. I’m confused…

    Well, yeah, that’s sort of what happens as a natural consequence of not listening to what someone tells you, but insisting on misrepresenting it instead…

    I disagree with something someone said and can’t provide a better explanation, but I love my intellect no god did it and that’s what we’re gonna go with, because lots of really smart people have said the same thing…

    There, fixed that for you. (Wow, this whole tu quoque thing can be fun!)

    I have faith the sun will rise this morning (because I have an insurmountable amount of evidence for that belief).

    Well, yeah, but we certainly don’t have unsurmountable evidence that the Darwinian model can create phyla, or even feathers, but you still have faith in that as well. Seriously, attempting to equate the massive uncertainty of the Darwinian model with the massive certainty of a sunrise? Talk about steaming piles of misdirection and nonsense. You guys are the poster boys of such.

    …you’re still wrong.

    Oh, of course. (Rolling eyes)

    My argument is valid.

    If you say so, but then I never claimed that a tu quoque argument couldn’t be “valid” in the first place.

    We do not accept just so stories. We accept evidence and go where it leads.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that. The evidence I see strongly suggests otherwise.

    Posted by CB | March 23, 2011, 9:28 am
  94. Everything I said (in my corrected statement of that asinine quote) is accurate. The original was not. Period. Not valid.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that, as well…

    Posted by CB | March 23, 2011, 12:08 pm
  95. Well, yeah, but we certainly don’t have unsurmountable evidence that the Darwinian model can create phyla, or even feathers, but you still have faith in that as well.

    No, but it is the best available answer, and has more evidence than any other answer. As such, our faith in it should be as strong as the evidence (which is quite large given the models strength in other specifics). Again, fail.

    Seriously, attempting to equate the massive uncertainty of the Darwinian model with the massive certainty of a sunrise?

    I wasn’t doing that. Good try though. The sunrise example was just that, an example. Misunderstand much?

    Everything I said (in my corrected statement of that asinine quote) is accurate. The original was not. Period. Not valid.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that, as well…

    Thank you, I will until you can provide something showing i shouldn’t.

    If you say so, but then I never claimed that a tu quoque argument couldn’t be “valid” in the first place.

    Glad to see you can admit when you’re wrong.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 1:59 pm
  96. For the tl;dr summary:
    I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 2:01 pm
  97. Posted by cptpineapple | March 23, 2011, 6:57 pm
  98. Thank you. Finally someone gets how stupid this argument is.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 23, 2011, 9:08 pm
  99. No, but it is the best available answer…

    According to whom? Your fellow materialists? Based on what?

    …and has more evidence than any other answer.

    But there is no evidence that random variation culled by natural selection can create a phylum, or even a feather. None. So explain how “none” is somehow greater than the alleged “zero” you attach to theism.

    I wasn’t doing that.

    Knee-jerk denial noted…

    Glad to see you can admit when you’re wrong.

    Well, the only thing I am “admitting” is the possibility that you aren’t wrong. Nice to see you still clinging to false dichotomies, though.

    Again, fail.

    “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I guess you think repeating a mantra will magically make it true.

    I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    Proof by Proclamation. Funny, you have yet to actually post anything resembling evidence, yet you claim that such is what drives you. The evidence of this discussion suggests otherwise.

    Everything I said (in my corrected statement of that asinine quote) is accurate.

    Actually, no, it is not, unless you can show that every single religious person on Earth utterly and completely rejects science in its totality. That is what is implied by “we cannot allow a Scientific Foot in the door”, after all.

    I do not have Faith that God created DNA…

    But you do have faith that natural forces alone did create it, including the information it contains for constructing phenotypes, even though we have no evidence to support such a belief. So you believe things without evidence.

    Posted by CB | March 25, 2011, 10:15 am
  100. But you do have faith that natural forces alone did create it, including the information it contains for constructing phenotypes, even though we have no evidence to support such a belief. So you believe things without evidence.

    Actually, you have no idea what I believe. By rejecting your idiotic claim that “God did it”, I’m not saying anything about what I believe.

    FYI, I’m not a biologist and evolution (in detail) is not something that is relevant to my life in any meaningful way. It’s an accepted science, and as such an appeal to authority works here, since the authority is settled that evolution is the only plausible answer to the question of “How did the variety of life we see become so”. Like I said before, when you have another answer, please feel free to share.

    p.s. I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 25, 2011, 4:12 pm
  101. You should read the previous comments regarding comprehension and when it’s rational to accept an appeal to authority.

    Ian, this is what I mean when I say I don’t “comprehend” evolution (in this case) well enough to argue with someone who claims to well enough to have an intelligent opinion contrary to the accepted scientific standard. I disagree they do (comprehend it well enough to disagree with the scientific majority), but opinions and assholes and all that…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 25, 2011, 4:18 pm
  102. FYI, I’m not a biologist and evolution (in detail) is not something that is relevant to my life in any meaningful way.

    I get what you’re saying, but I think you could find a better way to say it. Evolution is incredibly relevant in your life, but you don’t necessarily have to understand it for it to be so. Every piece of steak you’ve eaten, every antibiotic you’ve taken, the corn in your salsa, the kidney your Aunt Edna didn’t reject because of good medicine… every one of these things is completely reliant on evolution being true.

    To put it another way, if we are wrong about evolution, then it would be more astonishing than… well… any scientific coup ever. We would have to find a way to explain millions of completely accurate predictions crossing between virtually every life science and every applied life science industry on the planet.

    Put yet another way, what are the odds that a hundred million accurate predictions are wrong?

    Posted by hambydammit | March 25, 2011, 5:09 pm
  103. But there is no evidence that random variation culled by natural selection can create a phylum, or even a feather. None. So explain how “none” is somehow greater than the alleged “zero” you attach to theism.

    Pardon my bluntness, CB, but you have no fucking idea. Please tell me where you got your degree in biology. Tell me so I can look your ass up and find out how long it took you to get fired from every job you ever got in the field because you were an idiot.

    The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. So overwhelming that there isn’t even a crackpot alternate hypothesis on the table. (ID is not even a hypothesis, so it doesn’t even qualify as crackpot. It’s just ignorant ranting of fools.) While there is occasional scuttlebutt over abiogenesis (only how it happened, not IF), there is simply no debate over the fundamentals of evolution. There is 100% consensus in every respectable journal on the planet.

    And yes, there is ample evidence for how a phylum can come to exist. Because… that’s… exactly what evolution describes. Which you would know if you’d ever picked up a book about evolution by a biologist instead of a pastor.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 25, 2011, 5:17 pm
  104. Actually, you have no idea what I believe. By rejecting your idiotic claim that “God did it”, I’m not saying anything about what I believe.

    And you don’t need to, that’s the point. Some dichotomies are valid, like the one between atheism and theism. Like I told hamby, I can surmise some things about your beliefs based on negative answers to specific questions. If you reject theism, that strongly suggests that you are a materialist — i.e. you believe that only matter and energy exist, no “spirit”, no “soul”, no supernatural anything. That, in turn, suggests that you have little choice but to believe natural forces, as opposed to supernatural forces, are sufficient to create life. If you claim that space aliens created terrestrial life, that begs the question of who or what created the space aliens. At some point, the first life forms in the Universe had to have been created by natural forces.

    However, we currently have zero evidence that space aliens exist, and we have no evidence that natural forces alone can create terrestrial DNA and the encoding scheme it uses to build amino acid chains/proteins and so forth, so if we rule God out, you are still left believing in something with no evidence behind it, “accepted science” notwithstanding.

    …the authority is settled that evolution is the only plausible answer…

    Well, it’s the only materialist answer that’s available at the current time, but that doesn’t really say much for its alleged “plausibility”. And this again goes back to my point that materialism is the a priori stipulation to the scientific enterprise, which is the point of that Lewontin quote which you obviously hate. As one who has read “The Blind Watchmaker” and “The Selfish Gene”, and who has studied the subject to some depth, its ostensible lack of “relevance to my life in any meaningful way” notwithstanding, I simply consider it more plausible that some theistic explanation is most likely, regardless of how the various “intellectually fulfilled atheists” in the lab coats tell me to interpret the evidence. I mean, how exactly can Richard Dawkins be so sure that the appearance of design in nature — to which he readily admits — is an “illusion”? What is his objective measure? No, he cannot “know” that it’s an “illusion” unless he adopts a materialist outlook up front.

    I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” (click click click)…

    Posted by CB | March 25, 2011, 5:20 pm
  105. Pardon my bluntness, CB, but you have no fucking idea.

    Well, that is what you want to believe, obviously, but in truth, it is you who has “no fucking idea” of what I have read or studied. One doesn’t have to be a practicing biologist to read books on biology and evolution, so I am rather amused by your little temper tantrum. Do you think you’re the first to trot out the “overwhelming evidence” song and dance? I am aware of the “overwhelming evidence” that supports micro-evolution and speciation, but I simply have yet to encounter any evidence that random variation culled by natural selection can create a phylum. OBVIOUSLY something created the existing phyla, but we don’t know what did. Same with the feather — obviously it “evolved” somehow, but we don’t have any evidence that random variation culled by natural selection created it. Like I said earlier, even Richard Dawkins admits that it’s an article of faith to claim the Darwinian model was sufficient. Again, random variation culled by natural selection is assumed to be the underlying mechanism because of the underlying commitment to materialism that Lewontin spoke about.

    If you have experimental evidence showing that random variation culled by natural selection can cause a proto-feathered non-flight organism to evolve into a flying full-feathered organism, please share it.

    Posted by CB | March 25, 2011, 6:00 pm
  106. I’m not a biologist and evolution (in detail) is not something that is relevant to my life in any meaningful way.

    Well, that tells me that you are in no position to be calling Richard Lewontin’s statements “garbage”. After all, Lewontin is a practicing evolutionary biologist, like it or lump it.

    Posted by CB | March 25, 2011, 6:14 pm
  107. Well, he may be retired or dead by now, but the point stands…

    Posted by CB | March 25, 2011, 6:20 pm
  108. Well, that tells me that you are in no position to be calling Richard Lewontin’s statements “garbage”. After all, Lewontin is a practicing evolutionary biologist, like it or lump it.

    I don’t have to be a biologist to read something and point out how retarded it is, when the subject is not biology. His statement, in this case, is about science in general (at least this piece of it), and thus open to debate by anyone with the intelligence to dispute it. I’ve done so. You’ve simply dodged your way around acknowledging that nothing supernatural has ever provided anything resembling an accurate predictive explanation for anything, ever. Thus, as a methodology, or specific explanatory solution, it’s an utter failure.

    Well, it’s the only materialist answer that’s available at the current time

    That’s because there is, has never been, and in all likelihood never will be, any other explanation. Until you actually have one that someone, somewhere, can somehow test, you’re just being a disagreeable ass, with no leg to stand on.

    So…If you happen to come up with something else to actually rival the powers of science (and evolution in particular) that accurately predict anything about our natural world, we (and the entire world, including several multi-million dollar prizes) would love to hear it.

    Thus…I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 25, 2011, 7:02 pm
  109. I get what you’re saying, but I think you could find a better way to say it.

    I agree. I’m working on it. It’s just difficult to express the concept that “I understand this better than you appear to, but you are attempting to reference abstract arguments that I am not familiar with and as I’m going to simply reference to authorities on the subject, and stop arguing with you” without hearing the obvious “no you don’t, you’re wrong, hah hah hah, I win, we rule, damn liberal/atheist” (works for both politics and science).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 25, 2011, 7:09 pm
  110. Now for some fun (these have no actual bearing, they are just to aggravate you).

    If you reject theism, that strongly suggests that you are a materialist

    You forgot about deism.

    If you claim that space aliens created terrestrial life, that begs the question of who or what created the space aliens. At some point, the first life forms in the Universe had to have been created by natural forces.

    This entire statement makes no sense. Why does this same argument not apply to “god did it”?

    OBVIOUSLY something created the existing phyla, but we don’t know what did. Same with the feather — obviously it “evolved” somehow, but we don’t have any evidence that random variation culled by natural selection created it. Like I said earlier, even Richard Dawkins admits that it’s an article of faith to claim the Darwinian model was sufficient. Again, random variation culled by natural selection is assumed to be the underlying mechanism because of the underlying commitment to materialism that Lewontin spoke about.

    Again, what about this suggests that “God did it” is sufficient, without an a priori commitment to theism? The appropriate answer should be, we don’t know.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 25, 2011, 7:15 pm
  111. CB wrote:

    Well, that tells me that you are in no position to be calling Richard Lewontin’s statements “garbage”. After all, Lewontin is a practicing evolutionary biologist, like it or lump it.

    This would be true if Alex were offering his own original research or expert opinion to counter Lewontin. He has done no such thing. He is referencing the majority of evolutionary biologists (which includes both theists and atheists) who are as well qualified as Lewontin and who condisder your position “ridiculous,” as Frank Collins put it.

    If you reject theism, that strongly suggests that you are a materialist — i.e. you believe that only matter and energy exist, no “spirit”, no “soul”, no supernatural anything.

    First, I have no problem with materialism. It’s a rational position, and Lewontin didn’t do a good job explaining exactly why he finds it so objectionable. Whether it’s true or not, it will be a methodological constraint for scientists.

    But I’m not a materialist, as I don’t think physical phenomena can explain qualia and the first-person features of the universe. I’m hardly the only atheist with this position.

    So I don’t have an a priori commitment to natural processes to explain life. I don’t have a problem, in principle, with something other than physical phenomena being involved. I just want something better than god of the gaps arguments and “explanations” that can’t explain poor design and gratuitous evil.

    You claim fails. Materialism does not force atheists into believing that natural processes explain the development of life. Natural processes just do more actual explaining.

    If you’re going to have a chance of convincing me of intelligent design, you’re going to have to explain why so many women throughout history died giving birth. Why birth defects exist. Evolution explains that organized complexity exists dependent on the constraints of natural processes, and predicts such things as birth defects as the outcome of the evolutionary process.

    Intelligent design claims that organized complexity is the result of a supernatural agent acting beyond the constraints of natural processes. If a woman dies in childbirth, or a baby is born with birth defects, it’s because the agent intended it. The agent is thus acting to enable life, while simultaneously undermining his own objective.

    Evolution by natural processes is the superior explanation, from the perspective of both empirical evidence and logical consistency. And this is true whether you’re a materialist or not.

    Posted by Ian | March 26, 2011, 11:07 am
  112. But I’m not a materialist, as I don’t think physical phenomena can explain qualia and the first-person features of the universe. I’m hardly the only atheist with this position.

    And for comparison, I’m a qualified “conclusion materialist.” That is, I didn’t start with materialism (or atheism for that matter). Rather, I started with an ontological foundation — simply demanding that anything which exists much have both a universe of discourse and a positive description — and then qualified the ontology with a requirement of evidence. The end result was that I was convinced that everything I’ve seen can be sufficiently explained from a materialist position. (Including Ian’s qualia and first person experiences.)

    The difference between {CB} and {Ian and me} is that Ian and I can have rational discussions of our different epistemological positions and generally come to some sort of understanding of each other. Often, we find that our differences are not so unlike the parable of the blind wise men each describing a different part of the same elephant — different perspectives on the same phenomena. And even when we end up disagreeing, it is an oddly compatible disagreement. Each of us is confident that we could be swayed to the other’s position.

    The reason for this is important: We each understand the other’s position at least as well as they do. If that were not the case, how could we agree on anything? One of us would simply have to defer to the other, or we would be stalemated.

    And that’s where you come in, CB. You don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about in the subject of evolution, and you damn sure don’t understand the philosophical position of atheism as a conclusion. So we aren’t having a discussion. We’re just talking past each other since only one side knows both positions equally well.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 26, 2011, 4:08 pm
  113. I don’ have to be a biologist to read something and point out how retarded it is, when the subject is not biology. His statement, in this case, is about science in general (at least this piece of it), and thus open to debate by anyone with the intelligence to dispute it. I’ve done so.

    Well, what you have “done” is simply express your subjective opinion on Lewontin’s statements, and you seem to be rather insistent on pretending that said opinion is somehow an “objective fact”. I mean, it’s obvious that you have a personal problem with what he said. What is considerably less obvious is how “retarded” it allegedly is. On the contrary, it’s your own “reasoning” (and I’m being very generous in calling it that) that appears to be “retarded”.

    Yes, Lewontin is discussing science in general, but there is no reason to think that he isn’t discussing it from his perspective as an evolutionary biologist. After all, it is evolutionary biology that is his field of expertise. There may very well be “patently absurd constructs” in that field, there may very well be “unsubstantiated just-so stories” in that field, and if there are, then that holds true for science as a whole, since the set of “evolutionary biology” is wholly contained within the superset called “science”. In other words, if some element “X” exists in the set we call “evolutionary biology”, that element “X” is also in the “science” superset. That’s just how Venn diagrams and Set Theory work, chief. Look it up.

    Unless you can unequivocally show that there are no “patently absurd constructs” or “unsubstantiated just-so stories” in any field of science, in any -ology whatsoever, then again, you are simply in no position to claim that Lewontin’s remarks are “garbage”. Sure, you are free to make the assertion, but it’s just that, an assertion, an unsubstantiated claim. It’s funny that “appeal to authority works” when the authorities in question are saying things with which you personally agree, and doesn’t work when they aren’t, but I’ve grown accustomed to such flagrant duplicity emanating from the materialist camp.

    Richard Lewontin is/was an accomplished evolutionary biologist, and, as far as I know, you’re nobody, so, from my perspective, Lewontin’s words simply carry more weight than yours do. If he is willing to admit that there are “patently absurd constructs” and/or “unsubstantiated just-so stories” in his field, I see no real reason to believe otherwise, childish belly-aching from relative nobodies such as yourself notwithstanding. Like I said, it’s just an example of letting us see the man behind the “Great and Powerful Oz” curtain, and that it obviously has your proverbial panties in a wad is quite thoroughly inconsequential.

    That’s because there is, has never been, and in all likelihood never will be, any other explanation.

    You left out the word “materialist” between the words “other” and “explanation”, and in fact, there are other explanations — they just don’t happen to be materialist ones, but millions of people believe in them regardless. Now, of course, the fact that millions of people believe something doesn’t prove anything, and I am not suggesting it does, beyond the inescapable fact that those alternative explanations do indeed exist.

    I’m right, you’re wrong, stop whining about it.

    “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” (click click click)…

    …aggravate…

    You misspelled “amuse” there, chief…

    You forgot about deism.

    On the contrary, you are simply ignoring the context of the discussion, which is not at all surprising. In this discussion, it appears that you are collectively rejecting the “God Did It” hypothesis, which, for the record, I am not promoting as my argument. Since even deists accept a “God Did It” assertion at some level, if only at the level of the initial creation of the universe, then it stands to reason that those who reject the “God Did It” hypothesis wholesale are not deists, even if you insist that deism in not merely a subset of theism. However, if deism tells us that the “God” who initially created the universe simply walked away after the initial act of creation, and that everything that happened subsequently did so with no Divine intervention whatsoever, it again stands to reason that, at that level, the deist is in the same materialism boat as the atheist, which is to say that, at that level, there is no meaningful distinction between the two, so the fact of one’s alleged deism becomes irrelevant.

    So no, I didn’t “forget” anything…

    This entire statement makes no sense.

    Well, it’s pretty evident that it doesn’t make sense to you personally, but that’s hardly consequential…

    Again, what about this suggests that “God did it” is sufficient, without an a priori commitment to theism?

    I’m not claiming it does. I’m not arguing in favor of “God Did It” at any level whatsoever. What I am arguing is that you take things on faith, believe things without evidence, regardless of how unwilling you are to admit it, to yourself or to me.

    Posted by CB | March 26, 2011, 4:29 pm
  114. Hamby wrote:

    Often, we find that our differences are not so unlike the parable of the blind wise men each describing a different part of the same elephant — different perspectives on the same phenomena.

    And your perspective invariably ends up broadening mine. That was well said; for my part, I find that even when I disagree with you, I’m better off for hearing your position, and the reasoning behind it.

    CB wrote:

    Richard Lewontin is/was an accomplished evolutionary biologist, and, as far as I know, you’re nobody

    What you’re trying to do there is deny Alex the right to make arguments and present evidence in support of his position. To beat him down with your expert, despite the fact that you only agree with this expert inasmuch as he appears to offer support for a few selected criticisms that may support your position. Inasmuch as Lewontin does not support intelligent design, you don’t give a fuck about his expert opinion.

    The fact is that if Alex is a nobody, then so are you. Only difference is that Alex has the support of the overwhelming majority of evolutionary biologists, while you’ve got crank funded by religious zealots.

    I’ll leave you with a quote by your favorite evolutionary biologist:

    Having been convinced that the separation of church and state is here to stay, they have adopted a pseudo-scientific theory of intelligent design in which the designer is unspecified, and attempted to introduce it into the school curricula in the name of intellectual openness.

    Richard Lewontin (2009). “Why Darwin?” The New York Review of Books

    Posted by Ian | March 26, 2011, 5:31 pm
  115. As a slight aside, I think (as I said before) that Lewontin is better at science than he is at explaining science. And while he has had his moments of butting heads with the “majority consensus,” philosophers of science like Daniel Dennett have done a very good job of reducing the head butting to mere perspective shift.

    I’m reminded of the “battle” over punctuated equilibrium and gradualism. While Gould and Lewontin were insisting that they had a “new paradigm” from which to view evolution, Dennett successfully showed that all they were really doing was time dilation. A series of stairs looks like a straight line from far enough away. So too does punctuated equilibrium look like gradualism from a wider perspective. No real paradigm shift. Just an interesting philosophical observation.

    {EDIT: Oh, and Lewontin has never denied that evolution occurs. He’s never — as Ian pointed out — ever acknowledged even the slightest validity in Intelligent Design.}

    Posted by hambydammit | March 26, 2011, 5:38 pm
  116. He is referencing the majority of evolutionary biologists (which includes both theists and atheists) who are as well qualified as Lewontin and who condisder your position “ridiculous,” as Frank Collins put it.

    Well, for starters, you fail to demonstrate that you even know what my “position” is, so it hardly matters whether you or Collins call it “ridiculous”. However, to clarify, my position is that Lewontin is claiming that materialism is a foundational premise to the scientific enterprise. As side notes, Lewontin implicitly admits that “patently absurd constructs” and “unsubstantiated just so stories” exist in his field of expertise, which is evolutionary biology. Therefore, if your claim is true, it would follow that “the majority of evolutionary biologists (which includes both theists and atheists) who are as well qualified as Lewontin” are on record as denying that which Lewontin has stated. Feel free to substantiate your claim at your earliest convenience. If you cannot, then I see no reason why Lewontin’s statements cannot stand, your apparent collective inability to abide by them notwithstanding.

    Lewontin didn’t do a good job explaining exactly why he finds [materialism] so objectionable.

    Perhaps because he doesn’t find it “objectionable”. Seriously, what exactly in his quoted statements above makes you think he does find it “objectionable”?

    But I’m not a materialist, as I don’t think physical phenomena can explain qualia and the first-person features of the universe. I’m hardly the only atheist with this position.

    How convenient for you — you call yourself an atheist but leave yourself a little escape hatch from materialism. If natural forces are insufficient to explain certain phenomena, and if supernatural forces are ruled out, what is that third alternative? What can exist that is both not “natural” and not “supernatural”? And even more to the point, what is your evidence that this mysterious third-alternative entity can exist? How do you know that whatever the explanation for “qualia and the first-person features of the universe” ends up being, said entity or entities cannot be supernatural?

    Materialism does not force atheists into believing that natural processes explain the development of life.

    Perhaps you should look up the word “materialism” and quit making such foolish assertions. If someone is a materialist, then by definition that someone believes natural forces alone are responsible for all observed phenomena. Sure, according to your unsubstantiated assertions, being an atheist allegedly doesn’t force one to be a materialist, but frankly, I think that’s nothing but face-saving hogwash, and will continue to think as much until and unless you provide something more tangible by way of explanation.

    If you’re going to have a chance of convincing me of intelligent design, you’re going to have to explain why so many women throughout history died giving birth. Why birth defects exist.

    Well, in truth, I don’t particularly care whether I can “convince me of intelligent design”, because that isn’t even my objective. I haven’t even mentioned the subject in this discussion. However, that said, first, you need to explain why you think “died giving birth” and “birth defects” preclude the possibility that an intelligent agent created DNA and the information content therein in the first place.

    Intelligent design claims that organized complexity is the result of a supernatural agent acting beyond the constraints of natural processes. If a woman dies in childbirth, or a baby is born with birth defects, it’s because the agent intended it.

    These statements are categorically incorrect. In other words, to borrow a phrase from your fellow atheist hamby, “you have no fucking idea” what you’re talking about.

    Evolution by natural processes is the superior explanation, from the perspective of both empirical evidence and logical consistency.

    Like I keep telling your fellow travelers, you’re free to believe anything you want. Just quit pretending that your personal beliefs and opinions are objective facts.

    Posted by CB | March 27, 2011, 9:59 am
  117. CB wrote:

    you fail to demonstrate that you even know what my “position” is, so it hardly matters whether you or Collins call it “ridiculous”.

    CB also wrote:

    you need to explain why you think “died giving birth” and “birth defects” preclude the possibility that an intelligent agent created DNA and the information content therein in the first place.

    Your position is intelligent design.

    QED.

    what exactly in his quoted statements above makes you think he does find it “objectionable”?

    His statement that materialism “forces” scientists to “create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”

    If someone is a materialist, then by definition that someone believes natural forces alone are responsible for all observed phenomena.

    Yet someone can believe that natural processes are responsible for the evolution of life without being a materialist. That was my point.

    And even more to the point, what is your evidence that this mysterious third-alternative entity can exist?

    The evidence comes from observation of the phenomena. If one determines that the characteristics that define qualia are fundamentally different than the characteristics that define physical phenomena, and that qualia cannot be an emergent property of physical phenomena, then it’s reasonable to conclude that it’s a different kind of phenomena.

    How do you know that whatever the explanation for “qualia and the first-person features of the universe” ends up being, said entity or entities cannot be supernatural?

    I don’t. If you have evidence that I owe my awareness to the Generic Agent of Intelligent Design, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or whatever supernatural entity(ies) you’re referring to, then please, present it.

    These statements are categorically incorrect.

    Have you got any…I don’t know…persuasive reasons to back up that assertion with?

    you need to explain why you think “died giving birth” and “birth defects” preclude the possibility that an intelligent agent created DNA and the information content therein in the first place.

    I didn’t say poor design and gratuitous evil preclude the possibility of intelligent design, I said that they’re more consistent with evolution. I’m arguing that evolution by natural processes is more probable than intelligent design.

    quit pretending that your personal beliefs and opinions are objective facts.

    You’re doing a terrible job interacting with my points, CB. The only thing you said that didn’t demonstrate your complete failure to understand my position was your request for evidence that qualia can be something other than a physical phenomena.

    I think it’s obvious which one of us is pretending their personal beliefs and opinions are objective facts.

    Posted by Ian | March 27, 2011, 3:54 pm
  118. hamby…

    The end result was that I was convinced that everything I’ve seen can be sufficiently explained from a materialist position.

    Well, bully for you, I suppose, but that only tells me that there is much you haven’t seen, or that you’re willing to believe anything as long as you can maintain a materialist outlook. Like I have stated before, we do not have any evidence that natural forces alone can create the information content of DNA, or the 3:1 mapping scheme that translates DNA’s base pair encoded information into actual amino acid chains. Yet, as a materialist, you have little choice but to believe that such is what happened, in spite of the lack of evidence.

    You don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about in the subject of evolution…

    Well, I’ll say it yet again: You guys are free to believe anything you want, but you have yet to effectively counter anything I have said on the subject, and you have yet to effectively demonstrate that you do know anything about the subject, beyond the “billions and billions of successful predictions” hand wave. I know what I have read. I know what I have studied. Your off-base assessments are immaterial.

    …only one side knows both positions equally well…

    Equally poorly, it would appear — I pressume that you are implying that it’s your side that allegedly “knows both positions”, but again, you have thus far failed to effectively demonstrate as much.

    Ian…

    What you’re trying to do there is deny Alex the right to make arguments and present evidence in support of his position.

    Nonsense. I am not denying Alex anything at all, but the simple fact of the matter is that Lewontin is an authority in his field, and Alex is simply dismissing this expert’s statements as “garbage” and “retarded”, which, for the record, utterly fails to qualify as “making arguments and presenting evidence”.

    Hell, Alex initially dismissed Lewontin as an “idiot” who “didn’t understand science.”. Alex is fortunate that this is an atheist forum, where such obvious gaffs can be overlooked and ignored. If Alex wants to challenge Lewontin’s statements, he is free to present an actual argument, or cite another actual biologist, but again, “sorry, fail”, and “the quote is garbage” and “this is a failure on so many levels” aren’t arguments. They’re merely sneers of contempt.

    Yes, I am aware that, in addition to the contemptuous sneers, Alex did post statements that merely contradicted those of Lewontin, but mere assertions are likewise not an argument.

    To beat him down with your expert, despite the fact that you only agree with this expert inasmuch as he appears to offer support for a few selected criticisms that may support your position.

    You do have a flair for the dramatic, don’t you? I wasn’t even addressing Alex initially. No, the reason I quoted Lewontin was to challenge a statement made my hamby, and it was Alex who chose to respond to the quote, to try and beat me down, as it were, with an utterly tu quoque response based on said quote. You would know these things if you could be bothered to actually read a thread and comprehend what is going on before jumping in with guns blazing.

    Inasmuch as Lewontin does not support intelligent design, you don’t give a fuck about his expert opinion.

    Wrong, chief. Lewontin’s stance against ID and in favor of the neo-Darwinian paradigm is what makes his quoted statements so valuable. If you understood debate strategy, you might realize that this kind of appeal to authority is legitimate, not fallacious in the least, and that’s what gives weight to my arguments. This is evidenced by how you guys are falling all over yourselves, trying to do damage control in a feeble attempt to mitigate Lewontin’s statements.

    And failing miserably, I might add.

    The fact is that if Alex is a nobody, then so are you.

    Oh, no doubt, but then, I am not the one dismissing an expert’s statements as “retarded” or “garbage” — that would be the other nobody, Alex.

    …while you’ve got crank funded by religious zealots…

    Now that’s just hilarious. You should do stand-up.

    I’ll leave you with a quote by your favorite evolutionary biologist:

    Thanks, I guess. It actually helps my position that Lewontin is not pro-ID, just as it helps my position that Dawkins, another biologist who is pro-Darwin and anti-ID, admits that a certain aspect of the Darwinian model is a matter of faith.

    Back to hamby…

    Lewontin has never denied that evolution occurs. He’s never — as Ian pointed out — ever acknowledged even the slightest validity in Intelligent Design.

    Which is precisely why I quoted him, but you guys seem to be having the hardest time figuring that out…

    Back to Ian…

    Your position is intelligent design.

    QED.

    Not in the context of this thread, it isn’t. No, my position is that you atheists take things on faith, and believe things without evidence, based on the premise that the scientific enterprise has materialism as its foundational premise. That is the extent of my argument. It’s you guys who keep bringing up ID over and over, ad nauseam.

    Oh, and my original argument in this thread was that militant atheism is just as malignant as militant anything-else.

    His statement that materialism “forces” scientists to “create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”

    Any why do you think he considers it “onjectionable” that such is the case? How do you know he isn’t in favor of that force?

    Yet someone can believe that natural processes are responsible for the evolution of life without being a materialist. That was my point.

    So then, you are saying that if A implies B (being a materialist implies believing natural forces are sufficient for creating life), then B doesn’t necessarily imply A (believing natural forces are sufficient for creating life doesn’t necessarily imply being a materialist). Well, thanks, I suppose, but so what? I never assumed or implied a two-way mapping, but the one-way mapping is legitimate. Pointing out that the reverse mapping may not be only serves to obfuscate. It certainly doesn’t mitigate the original one-way claim.

    The evidence comes from observation of the phenomena. If one determines that the characteristics that define qualia are fundamentally different than the characteristics that define physical phenomena, and that qualia cannot be an emergent property of physical phenomena, then it’s reasonable to conclude that it’s a different kind of phenomena.

    Okay, but then where does that lead you? You have “a different kind of phenomenon”, so what is the explanation? Merely labeling it as “different” doesn’t seem to get us very far. It appears that it would lead to at least a deistic explanation, but that you just don’t want to take that final step. If not deism, what? Just a shrug of the shoulders?

    Have you got any…I don’t know…persuasive reasons to back up that assertion with?

    Why would I need to “persuade” you that your statements are categorically incorrect? You made the statements — it seems to me that you should be the one who needs to back them up. I have studied ID, and I know that the intelligent agent is simply not defined beyond being an intelligent entity. It certainly is not “defined” as being supernatural, nor is it implied that birth defects and such are “intended” outcomes. But then, I am not trying to promote ID, so again, I see no reason why I should have to “back up” that which I have studied. You, on the other hand, are making claims about ID, so again, it would seem that the onus should fall upon you.

    I’m arguing that evolution by natural processes is more probable than intelligent design.

    Well, we’re technically talking about the origin of life, which the Darwinian model doesn’t actually address. Be that as it may, how is it “more probable” that unguided natural forces alone could create even the simplest life form’s DNA information content and associated 3:1 mapping scheme for encoding protein amino acid chains and such, as opposed to some intelligent agent causing it to happen? Do you even know the probabilities involved in randomly creating a, say, 500 amino-acid-length protein structure?

    You’re doing a terrible job interacting with my points, CB.

    Irony overload…

    Posted by CB | March 28, 2011, 12:36 am
  119. Be that as it may, how is it “more probable” that unguided natural forces alone could create even the simplest life form’s DNA information content and associated 3:1 mapping scheme for encoding protein amino acid chains and such, as opposed to some intelligent agent causing it to happen?

    Because it explains so many other things (those billions and billions of examples from before).

    What you are saying is that despite evolution being a proven fact (as far as that term applies to anything in science) in literally billions of situations applicable to this discussion, because it is not as well proven in specific scenario X (feathers?, DNA, feel free to insert others) it must be an article of faith and an adherence to a specific worldview as an a priori assumption to accept it in those scenarios?

    That is asinine, retarded, and an epic fail.

    Until a competing theory is presented that refutes or better explains the specific scenario, the currently accepted model being sufficient to explain them, we conditionally accept it on that basis. That is how science works. We don’t take things on faith (you are free to, but I don’t and no respectable scientist should or he would lose my respect as well as that of his peers), we conditionally accept them as the evidence and logic dictates.

    Unless you are arguing in favor of another theory with greater explanatory powers, you are simply being a disagreeable ass here with no real point to this debate. You simply do not understand (or more likely just want to be a disagreeable ass because you really do think “god did it” but realize that is an asinine position scientifically speaking) the difference between faith and Faith, or how science works.

    p.s. If something is patently absurd, it does not have an evidential basis. Once it does, it ceases to be patently absurd. It may go against your a priori assumptions and “common sense”, but it’s not patently absurd. Thus in science, unless you are accepting something without any evidence (which means you are doing it wrong), you don’t accept anything that is patently absurd.

    Replace patently absurd with unsubstantiated stories (and correct associated grammatical support structures) in that previous paragraph as well and save me the time please.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 28, 2011, 4:38 am
  120. Hamby/Ian,

    Anyone else think this guy is at least as much fun as PG used to be?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 28, 2011, 4:45 am
  121. Alex, I was thinking exactly the same thing. PG used to quote Lewontin too.

    Where do these dopey guys come from? Is it part of their ID “curriculum” now?

    Posted by Ian | March 28, 2011, 5:31 am
  122. CB wrote:

    Lewontin is an authority in his field, and Alex is simply dismissing this expert’s statements as “garbage” and “retarded”

    No he’s not. You’re just using Lewontin’s statements that way.

    Lewontin’s stance against ID and in favor of the neo-Darwinian paradigm is what makes his quoted statements so valuable.

    No, it indicates that you’re misunderstanding his statements. Unless you can show that Lewontin is criticizing himself, you need to acknowledge that his expert opinion does not lend any support to your position, which is:

    my position is that you atheists take things on faith, and believe things without evidence, based on the premise that the scientific enterprise has materialism as its foundational premise

    And by “things” you mean unguided evolution, as opposed to intelligent design.

    B doesn’t necessarily imply A (believing natural forces are sufficient for creating life doesn’t necessarily imply being a materialist). Well, thanks, I suppose, but so what?

    Your thesis is that it’s our commitment to materialism that causes us to believe that life is the outcome of natural processes. Do you not see how the existence of atheists (such as myself and Lewontin) who have no commitment to materialism, yet nevertheless believe that life is the outcome of natural processes, is contentious to your thesis?

    Any why do you think he considers it “onjectionable” that such is the case? How do you know he isn’t in favor of that force?

    Bang your head against the wall a few times, see if you can shake some of the rust loose, and then re-read that passage. See if you can understand the content this time.

    It appears that it would lead to at least a deistic explanation, but that you just don’t want to take that final step.

    How does deism “explain” anything? Explain that to me.

    Posted by Ian | March 28, 2011, 6:20 am
  123. How does deism “explain” anything? Explain that to me.

    God clapped his hands and caused the big bang, then took a nap. How that differs from a natural explanation without proof of “god” is fuzzy, but what part of theology isn’t…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 28, 2011, 9:07 am
  124. Your thesis is that it’s our commitment to materialism that causes us to believe that life is the outcome of natural processes. Do you not see how the existence of atheists (such as myself and Lewontin) who have no commitment to materialism, yet nevertheless believe that life is the outcome of natural processes, is contentious to your thesis?

    Here’s the problem. I’ve yet to meet any atheist who doesn’t fit in this camp. The only difference is the degree to which they “doubt” the materialist view is 100% correct. But we all hold it as correct only in as much as it the conclusion of what science tells us and explains more about reality than any other view. This would be clear to anyone not trying to be an ass, but we can’t all be as nice as I am in these debates (I’m looking at Dwight here).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 28, 2011, 9:13 am
  125. Alex…

    Because it explains so many other things (those billions and billions of examples from before).

    But all those examples, whether it’s “billions and billions” or merely a hundred million as hamby claimed, are limited to the realms of micro-evolution and speciation. The Darwinian paradigm of natural selection filtering random variations might explain the creation of genuses, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms, but the simple fact is that we have no direct evidence of such. The fossil record doesn’t provide evidence of the gradualism the model requires, which is why Gould and Eldridge came up with PE in the first place. I suppose I could do what I prefer, which is post quotes from scientists to substantiate my assertions, but that seems to get your panties in a wad, so I’ll refrain for now.

    Getting back to the fossil record, the Cambrian Explosion does show the phyla coming into existence all at once (geologically speaking) with no apparent immediate predecessors — the various body plans just occur with no gradual buildup. There is lots of stasis, according to certain scientists whom I refrain from quoting, even 150 years after Darwin’s prediction that the gradualism would be found. So we can consider that one failed Darwinian prediction.

    Hamby does mention that “a series of stairs looks like a straight line from far enough away. So too does punctuated equilibrium look like gradualism from a wider perspective.” Well, maybe so, but that just begs the question. Frankly, it “looks like” a case of self-delusion to me, pretending that what truly is a staircase is “really” a nice, smooth ramp. Even though we don’t really have evidence of gradualism, if we “step far enough away” from the model, it “looks like” we do have gradualism.

    What you are saying is …

    What I am saying is, quite simply, that the Darwinian model has limits, especially in terms of actual supporting evidence. The “billions and billions” of examples are again limited in scope. Sure, we hear about bacterial resistance to antibiotics, or insects developing resistance to insecticides, but that is micro-evolution. At the end of the day, the strain of bacterial having the resistance to antibiotics are still bacteria, and likewise with the insects that have developedresistence to insecticides — they’re still insects. The same holds true with the Lenski experiment, even after 30,000 generations. And so on.

    And there is still that issue of gradualism — or lack thereof — in the fossil record, not to mention the origin of life problem, which the Darwinian model doesn’t even address.

    That is asinine, retarded, and an epic fail.

    Straw men usually are…

    Until a competing theory is presented that refutes or better explains the specific scenario, the currently accepted model being sufficient to explain them, we conditionally accept it on that basis.

    But “the currently accepted model” isn’t “sufficient to explain them”. That’s the point. “The currently accepted model” may be “sufficient to explain them” to you personally, but again, that only tells me that you aren’t looking very closely at the phenomenon or the explanation, and that simply translates into faith on your part, whether you care to admit it to yourself or not.

    I have studied mathematics, probability theory, combinatorics, and I have studied microbiology and evolution. I understand how and where the Darwinian paradigm breaks down, and I have a grasp of the probabilities involved with natural forces creating proteins, not to even mention subsequently assembling those proteins into living organisms. That I obviously cannot convince you of that, or anything else by all appearances, is inconsequential.

    Any potential “competing theory” will be utterly rejected unless it is a materialist theory, which is another point you seem unwilling or unable to grasp. Intelligent Design does provide an alternate explanation for certain phenomena, but since it is not a materialist explanation, you materialists reject it utterly, with as much self-righteous indignation as you can muster.

    … we conditionally accept them as the evidence and logic dictates.

    Even when there is no evidence and logic dictates otherwise, you still accept them, whether you call it “conditional” acceptance or not. And the “condition” still mandates that, whatever explanation comes along to cause you to reject the current explanation, that new explanation must still be a materialist explanation.

    You can claim otherwise until the universe burns out, you can claim that you aren’t committed to materialism until you’re blue in the face, but your actions belie such claims.

    If something is patently absurd, it does not have an evidential basis.

    Absolutely. And based on what we collectively know about probability theory and the construction of even the simplest living organisms, it is indeed patently absurd to insist that natural forces alone can construct the first living organism(s) that ever existed, and we, in fact, do not have any evidence that natural forces alone did create the first living organism(s). Therefore, if one is holding to a materialist position, which means that they’re holding to the notion that matter, energy and the natural laws are all that exist, then they are holding to the patently absurd position that those natural forces alone created life, based on our current knowledge of probability and molecular biology.

    If you have any actual evidence to refute what I just said, then post it. “Epic fail” is not an argument, and it is not evidence of anything, except perhaps your own inability to put forth a cogent argument.

    Ian…

    Lewontin is an authority in his field, and Alex is simply dismissing this expert’s statements as “garbage” and “retarded”

    No he’s not.

    Knee-jerk denial noted:

    “That quote is garbage.” Alex Hardman, March 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    “The smartest amongst us occasionally says something retarded.” Alex Hardman, March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    “I don’t have to be a biologist to read something and point out how retarded it is…” Alex Hardman, March 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    For the record, Ian, that above is known as “evidence”. You should look into the concept sometime.

    You’re just using Lewontin’s statements that way.

    I am taking his statements at face value, while you guys are falling all over yourselves trying to come up with alternative meanings, or otherwise trying to pretend that he didn’t really mean what he said. Your implication that taking soneone’s statements at face value is “retarded” speaks volumes about you, none of it very flattering.

    No, it indicates that you’re misunderstanding his statements.

    Like I keep saying, you guys are free to believe anything that floats your proverbial boat, but at this stage, I am beginning to wonder just how well you comprehend written English.

    Unless you can show that Lewontin is criticizing himself

    Well, I am not certain that his statements represent “criticism” per se, but his use of such words as “we”and “our” would suggest that he is including himself in the group he is describing.

    …you need to acknowledge that his expert opinion does not lend any support to your position…

    Again, I am simply wondering whether you comprehend written English. I sincerely have my doubts.

    my position is that you atheists take things on faith, and believe things without evidence, based on the premise that the scientific enterprise has materialism as its foundational premise

    Okay, I am succumbing to the temptation, and am reposting Lewontin’s remarks in their entirety:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    (RICHARD LEWONTIN, January 9, 1997, NY Times Book Reviews, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, emphasis in original)

    To anyone who actually comprehends written English, it should seem quite clear what Lewontin is saying, that the scientific community has an a priori commitment to materialism while doing science, and that the whole purpose of that commitment is to lead the endeavor to materialist explanations.

    Since the premise to my position, as quoted above, is “the scientific enterprise has materialism as its foundational premise”, and since Lewontin stated, “we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism”, and went on to say, “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations”, I would be very interested in seeing you justify your peculiar spin that Lewontin’s “expert opinion does not lend any support to [my] position “.

    That should be amusing.

    Your thesis is that it’s our commitment to materialism that causes us to believe that life is the outcome of natural processes. Do you not see how the existence of atheists (such as myself and Lewontin) who have no commitment to materialism, yet nevertheless believe that life is the outcome of natural processes, is contentious to your thesis?

    First of all, I would challenge your claim that Lewontin is not committed to materialism, given his statements that rather say that, as a scientist, he is so committed. If you can quote the man as declaring himself not so committed, then by all means share it. Whether you care to realize it or not, I can be swayed by, you know, actual evidence, but I’m not getting any of that from you guys. I’m just getting hand-waves and denials. And plenty of derisive sneers.

    But whether Lewontin is a committed materialists ultimately beside the point, which is that you atheists typically point to science as the justification for your viewpoint, and the sole arbiter of truth, and that anything science tells you, you take on faith, faith in the scientific process. In addition, you routinely and utterly reject any explanations of phenomena that fail the materialism test. Therefore, regardless of whether any given atheist personally commits to materialism, atheists, in general, tend to reject non-materialist explanations and look to the scientific enterprise, which collectively is committed to materialism as its foundational premise — at least according to Lewontin, who himself is an atheist and a Darwinian, and is anti-ID — as their source of truth.

    Bang your head against the wall a few times…

    So that’s how you made the word “objectionable” appear in Lewontin’s statements? Much is explained…

    How does deism “explain” anything? Explain that to me.

    How does “different kind of phenomena” “explain” anything? You are the one claiming that natural forces couldn’t explain it, so I again ask, what is the alternative?

    Posted by CB | March 29, 2011, 12:39 am
  126. CB wrote:

    Well, I am not certain that his statements represent “criticism” per se, but his use of such words as “we”and “our” would suggest that he is including himself in the group he is describing.

    Okay. Let’s suppose it isn’t criticism, and see where that takes us. Imagine an interview, where Lewontin endorses the position you attribute to him:

    Interviewer: We’re joined today by Dr. Richard Lewontin, atheist and evolutionary biologist, to shed some light on the conflict between religion and science. Dr. Lewontin, some have said that the Cambrian Explosion demonstrates the limits of the theory of evolution. That we must consider the possibility that a higher power is involved. You disagree with this?

    Lewontin: Yes. What you’re describing is Intelligent Design, which I’ve always maintained is a pseudo-science.

    Interviewer: And you are an atheist?

    Lewontin: Yes.

    Interviewer: You believe that evolution by natural processes is sufficient to explain the Cambrian explosion?

    Lewontin: Yes.

    Interviewer: Why? Can you give us your reasoning behind this?

    Lewontin: Certainly. It is, you see, an absurdity that I adhere to as a result of my a priori commitment to materialism.

    Interviewer: So there’s no evidence to support your position?

    Lewontin: No. Oh, god, no. It’s an unsubstantiated “just so” story.

    Interviewer: Yet you continue to insist that Intelligent Design is a pseudo-science?

    Lewontin: Yes.

    Interviewer: Why?

    Lewontin: Well, you see, I’m just this wacky, inconsistent guy!

    For the record, Ian, that above is known as “evidence”. You should look into the concept sometime.

    Re-read Alex’s arguments, and you’ll see that he does not maintain that Lewontin is retarded. Or just ask him. It’s silly to present “evidence” to support your claims about Alex’s opinion when you can just ask him and get incontrovertible proof as to what his opinion is.

    I am taking his statements at face value, while you guys are falling all over yourselves trying to come up with alternative meanings, or otherwise trying to pretend that he didn’t really mean what he said.

    Other prominent atheists, such as Steven Pinker and PZ Myers, have criticized the prevalence of just-so stories in evolutionary psychology. Lewontin is doing the same thing, only it’s unfortunate that, as written, his criticism seems directed at scientists in general, rather than at the ones who actually deserve criticism.

    I think we all agree that Lewontin could have done a better job expressing himself.

    Therefore, regardless of whether any given atheist personally commits to materialism, atheists, in general, tend to reject non-materialist explanations and look to the scientific enterprise

    This is what we disagree with–you’re making a negative generalization about atheists that neither myself, Hamby, or Alex accept as describing our position. The reason you’re so infatuated with Lewontin is that he’s doing the same thing. However much he may be an expert in evolutionary biology, that doesn’t entitle him to make generalizations about all scientists. His criticism does apply to some scientists, but certainly not to all of them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t acknowledge that in the article you quoted.

    Your attempt to stereotype us as having an irrational commitment to materialism can’t possibly succeed, because each of us has certain knowledge of whether this is true or not, which you don’t have access to. You can pretend that we’re a bunch of stereotypes all you like, but in the end, that’s just your prejudiced opinion.

    How does “different kind of phenomena” “explain” anything? You are the one claiming that natural forces couldn’t explain it, so I again ask, what is the alternative?

    I never said natural forces couldn’t explain it. The view that makes the most sense to me is that it is a natural phenomenon, in the same way that matter and energy are natural phenomena. The value in understanding it that way is:

    1) Attempts to explain qualia as the result of a process don’t seem very plausible to me
    2) Intuitions about qualia seem to describe it as having fundamentally different characteristics than physical phenomena
    3) Causal processes associated with conscious experience seem to be radically different than the causal processes associated with physical phenomena

    Posted by Ian | March 29, 2011, 6:35 am
  127. Imagine an interview…

    I’m not particularly interested in the conjuring of your fertile imagination, for such conjuring is not evidence, or even a rational argument. No, you’re just engaging in childish caricature, which proves nothing.

    When I initially skimmed your post and saw what appeared to be an interview with Lewontin, I was excited, thinking you had posted some actual evidence to support your claims. How disappointing that it turns out that you just made it all up and seriously seem to think it should still “prove” something…

    Re-read Alex’s arguments, and you’ll see that he does not maintain that Lewontin is retarded.

    You should take your own advice and re-read my statements, and maybe, maybe you will see that I never claimed that Alex said, “Lewontin is retatrded”. Never. Never EVER. Not once, EVER. Like I said, I am truly wondering whether you can comprehend written English. No, what I said was, “Lewontin is an authority in his field, and Alex is simply dismissing this expert’s statements as ‘garbage’ and ‘retarded'”. Do you not see the word “statements” in there? You even quoted that same quote of mine yourself, but apparently still failed to comprehend it. I even then posted some of Alex’s quotes wherein he did exactly as I said he did, and you still don’t get it.

    It’s silly to present “evidence” to support your claims about Alex’s opinion when you can just ask him and get incontrovertible proof as to what his opinion is.

    No, what’s silly is your absurd notion that I am talking about Alex’s “opinion”, when I am clearly talking about Alex’s reaction to Lewontin’s statements, things Alex actually said by way of response. What’s silly, or perhaps just plan sad, is your apparent reading comprehension problem.

    Other prominent atheists, such as Steven Pinker and PZ Myers, have criticized the prevalence of just-so stories in evolutionary psychology.

    So, do you not see what you’re saying? Let me quote what you just said, “prevalence of just-so stories in evolutionary psychology”. If Pinker and Myers are criticizing the “prevalence of just-so stories in evolutionary psychology”, then it stands to reason that those “just-so stories” do indeed exist, are indeed actually “prevalent”, and are indeed put forth as explanations. It would therefore appear that these just-so stories are indeed tolerated by the scientific community, alleged criticisms from Pinker and Myers notwithstanding.

    Therefore, regardless of whether any given atheist personally commits to materialism, atheists, in general, tend to reject non-materialist explanations and look to the scientific enterprise…

    This is what we disagree with–you’re making a negative generalization about atheists that neither myself, Hamby, or Alex accept as describing our position.

    I am simply describing what I observe. Atheists do tend to reject non-materialist explanations for phenomena, and atheists do tend to look toward science as the way to determine “truth”. Whether you or hamby or Alex “accept” that as “describing your position” is ultimately immaterial — the evidence is what it is.

    Your attempt to stereotype us as having an irrational commitment to materialism can’t possibly succeed…

    Well, to quote Ronald Reagan, “There you go again!”. I am not claiming that each and every atheist has “an irrational commitment to materialism”. If you bother to read what you quoted me as saying, and if you could be bothered to do so with your eyes open, you might managed to perceive that little part where I say, “regardless of whether any given atheist personally commits to materialism”. Now, the question is, do you need some help in deciphering what that means?

    You can pretend that we’re a bunch of stereotypes all you like, but in the end, that’s just your prejudiced opinion.

    Kind of like how you guys treat the religious community, eh?

    I never said natural forces couldn’t explain it. The view that makes the most sense to me is that it is a natural phenomenon, in the same way that matter and energy are natural phenomena.

    What you said was this:

    “I’m not a materialist, as I don’t think physical phenomena can explain qualia and the first-person features of the universe.” Ian, March 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    So kindly explain what the difference is between “natural forces” and “physical phenomena”. Both terms fit into a materialist framework. If you disagree, explain why.

    1) Attempts to explain qualia as the result of a process don’t seem very plausible to me

    2) Intuitions about qualia seem to describe it as having fundamentally different characteristics than physical phenomena

    3) Causal processes associated with conscious experience seem to be radically different than the causal processes associated with physical phenomena

    Regardless, the bottom line is that, as far as you’re concerned:

    The view that makes the most sense to me is that it is a natural phenomenon, in the same way that matter and energy are natural phenomena.

    Yet you claim you aren’t a materialist, in spite of stating that you think natural forces can ultimately explain everything, including qualia, your initial quibble over “a process” versus “natural phenomenon” notwithstanding.

    Posted by CB | March 29, 2011, 10:03 am
  128. Atheists do tend to reject non-materialist explanations for phenomena, and atheists do tend to look toward science as the way to determine “truth”. Whether you or hamby or Alex “accept” that as “describing your position” is ultimately immaterial — the evidence is what it is.

    Atheists tend to reject that which cannot be proven. You’d have some merit to your position if you didn’t keep trying to bring it back to what we all know is the real reason for your arguments, you want to introduce “ID” as some alternative theory.

    The problem is that to be an alternative it has to have any, at the very minimal basis, evidence for it’s veracity. ID has none. There is no way to test it, no way to validate it’s methodology. A pink tea pot created the universe is equally as valid as a white dude with a beard, as the almighty noodle.

    As far as can be seen, your entire purpose is to drive a wedge into science so you can fill the crack with “god did it”.

    Absolutely. And based on what we collectively know about probability theory and the construction of even the simplest living organisms, it is indeed patently absurd to insist that natural forces alone can construct the first living organism(s) that ever existed, and we, in fact, do not have any evidence that natural forces alone did create the first living organism(s). Therefore, if one is holding to a materialist position, which means that they’re holding to the notion that matter, energy and the natural laws are all that exist, then they are holding to the patently absurd position that those natural forces alone created life, based on our current knowledge of probability and molecular biology.

    I’m not standing firm on the position that natural processes explain any of that. I’m holding firm on the position that a natural process is the only explanation currently worth entertaining, since it’s the only position with any evidence.

    The logic is such:
    1) Natural processes exist.
    2) For every process we can explain, there is a natural explanation.

    Thus
    3) It is reasonable to infer that (until such time as something above changes) all processes have natural explanations.

    I believe that the above block qualifies me as a materialist, but only provisionally and as a conclusion of the evidence, not an a priori assumption.

    Now, I will grant that you are free to posit other explanations for any process you like, but you must live up to the same standard as any other scientific endeavor in order for your explanation to be accepted as anything but wild conjecture with no basis in reality or fact. You must have evidence and a repeatable methodology for validating your claim.

    If you want to call this faith (as if that makes it somehow a less correct way of looking at the universe) by all means, feel free to do so, but please at least be honest and add that it’s a faith held up only by the evidence and subject to change as evidence is presented.

    You should take your own advice and re-read my statements, and maybe, maybe you will see that I never claimed that Alex said, “Lewontin is retatrded”. Never. Never EVER. Not once, EVER. Like I said, I am truly wondering whether you can comprehend written English. No, what I said was, “Lewontin is an authority in his field, and Alex is simply dismissing this expert’s statements as ‘garbage’ and ‘retarded’”. Do you not see the word “statements” in there? You even quoted that same quote of mine yourself, but apparently still failed to comprehend it. I even then posted some of Alex’s quotes wherein he did exactly as I said he did, and you still don’t get it.

    You’re an idiot dude. You completely missed what I said. Reading comprehension fail. I’m not dismissing his statements on any particular position, I’m dismissing his specific statements about science and what/how it does. You have attempted to infer that I thus reject his positions on materialism/supernatural/evolution/biology/something, when that is not the case. None of what I refuted bears any basis on any specific subject of discussion, beyond the methodology of science. That’s what Ian was trying to explain to you.

    As stated several times, I personally do not have a position on evolution with regards to any “unproven” areas or applications.

    Kind of like how you guys treat the religious community, eh?

    Yep, exactly. Difference is we’re right, you are all alike with regards to how you believe in something with zero evidence. We (atheists) don’t have a single thing that corresponds to every single atheist. Again, mistakes were made, but not by me…

    So, do you not see what you’re saying? Let me quote what you just said, “prevalence of just-so stories in evolutionary psychology”…It would therefore appear that these just-so stories are indeed tolerated by the scientific community, alleged criticisms from Pinker and Myers notwithstanding.

    Seriously, are you an idiot or just really that hard headed. You can’t claim group A tolerates something, the criticism of that something by members of group A notwithstanding. That’s asinine. Everyone says the earth is flat, the people who disagree notwithstanding. WTF???

    Yet you claim you aren’t a materialist, in spite of stating that you think natural forces can ultimately explain everything, including qualia, your initial quibble over “a process” versus “natural phenomenon” notwithstanding.

    Again, are you really too dense to understand how someone can hold a position tentatively based on the current evidence, while still thinking that said position may ultimately be wrong and allowing for something they don’t yet understand to be behind the missing pieces of that position? Wait, no I can see you how that might be hard for you. With “god did it” you never have to say I’m not sure or I don’t know, you always have an answer. I totally understand your position now.

    Intelligent Design does provide an alternate explanation for certain phenomena, but since it is not a materialist explanation, you materialists reject it utterly, with as much self-righteous indignation as you can muster.

    Really, it provides an alternate explanation? A theory with no valid way to test it? The teapot, the bearded old dude, and the noodle all valid theories? What you’re being too dense to realize is that it isn’t the supernatural nature of what you’re suggesting that is being rejected, it’s the completely nontestable irrelevant nature. The fact that even if true, it provides us with no explanatory power and no way to determine anything about our reality. Functionally, “God did it” is no different than “I don’t know” and “it doesn’t matter” because all three get you to the same place, right here.

    So, knowing where you stand now, we can be all done or we can keep arguing for the entertainment value, up to you. However, I would suggest that if you feel like your position is actually valid then you should perhaps stop arguing with us about it and figure out some way to prove it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 29, 2011, 12:16 pm
  129. If you want to call this faith (as if that makes it somehow a less correct way of looking at the universe) by all means, feel free to do so, but please at least be honest and add that it’s a faith held up only by the evidence and subject to change as evidence is presented.

    Can’t help but add that if you do this, it does sorta undermine your own “faith” in things (like god, which I infer you believe in from your advancement of ID as a valid theory)…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | March 29, 2011, 12:19 pm
  130. CB wrote:

    No, you’re just engaging in childish caricature, which proves nothing.

    That’s not caricature, it’s a demonstration of the absurdity of your argument. I’m trying to show you how nuts Lewontin’s statements look if they are not, as you claim, critical of a position that he disagrees with.

    If you actually read what I posted, you’ll see that all I did was take statements that Lewontin actually made (except the last one, of course) and put them in a context appropriate to the argument you’re trying to make with them.

    Kind of like how you guys treat the religious community, eh?

    How “you guys” treat the religious community? Stereotyping us much?

    Pointing out the stupidity of certain religious people, and the flawed premise of religion in general, doesn’t count as stereotyping religious people.

    I am simply describing what I observe.

    You’re describing your own delusions to us.

    You should take your own advice and re-read my statements, and maybe, maybe you will see that I never claimed that Alex said, “Lewontin is retatrded”. Never. Never EVER. Not once, EVER.

    Switch to decaff, dude. I was trying to explain that you failed to understand Alex’s position. Which is:

    Posted by Alex Hardman, on March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm:

    I don’t think Lewontin is an idiot, merely that he sounded idiotic in that quote.

    Hamby then replied:

    [Lewontin] is given to poor expression of decent ideas which genuine idiots often misunderstand

    It should have been obvious, four days ago, that the problem had more to do with the way you used Lewontin’s statement (you being one of the aforementioned “genuine idiots”) than Alex’s opinion of Lewontin’s credibility as an evolutionary biologist.

    Which Alex just clarified for you. Again. Keep staring at the words, and maybe in another four days or so you’ll get it.

    So kindly explain what the difference is between “natural forces” and “physical phenomena”. Both terms fit into a materialist framework.

    Naturalism =/= Materialism.

    Naturalism is the belief that nature is a closed system–that there is no supernatural operating from outside of it. A materialist will of necessity be a naturalist, but you cannot deduce from one’s being a naturalist that one is also materialist.

    I’m a naturalist, but not a materialist. Like most naturalists, I’ll gladly consider evidence of the possible existence of the supernatural, so if you have something other than an argument from authority to offer for my consideration, feel free to present it.

    Posted by Ian | March 29, 2011, 6:03 pm
  131. I believe that the above block qualifies me as a materialist, but only provisionally and as a conclusion of the evidence, not an a priori assumption.

    Why is it so hard for theists to get this?

    Oh, yeah… I remember… because they begin with an unalterable truth and then grab onto any fact (or pseudo-fact) they can to try to support their position. They honestly have no idea what it’s like to begin with evidence and move to a provisional conclusion.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 29, 2011, 6:39 pm
  132. Alex…

    Atheists tend to reject that which cannot be proven

    Yeah, so you claim. How do you intend to prove the deep-time aspects of Darwinian evolution? If it takes a million generations to show that the unguided Darwinian mechanism of natural selection filtering random variations can cause something reptilian to evolve into something avian, and if the each generation is, say, an average of five years, how do you expect to prove something requiring five million years of observation? Yet you claim that your acceptance of such claims is merely “conditional”, so that you don’t have to use that hideous “faith” word to describe your belief. Convenient, I must say.

    How would you react if I told you that my beliefs were “conditional”? Would you even consider believing such a claim at face value? I doubt it.

    You’d have some merit to your position if you didn’t keep trying to bring it back to what we all know is the real reason for your arguments, you want to introduce “ID” as some alternative theory

    And like I keep saying, it’s you guys who keep bringing ID up over and over again, ad nauseam, so your claim has no merit.

    The problem is that to be an alternative it has to have any, at the very minimal basis, evidence for it’s veracity. ID has none. There is no way to test it, no way to validate it’s methodology. A pink tea pot created the universe is equally as valid as a white dude with a beard, as the almighty noodle.

    This tells me that you don’t know anything about ID. Of course, if I try to correct you, you will start whining that I’m trying to “promote” or otherwise “sell” ID to you, when all I would be attempting is correcting your misinformation about it. Be that as it may, ID doesn’t claim what you are implying it does. It merely states that the process of evolution, for example, is not completely unguided, It does point to things like information theory for evaluating evidence in support of its claims, and those claims can be falsified.

    But since ID does indeed have theistic/deistic implications, it is dismissed and sneered at, with extreme prejudice.

    1) Natural processes exist

    How did they originate?

    2) For every process we can explain, there is a natural explanation

    How many processes can we explain? Can we even quantify that number reliably? How can we compare what we know to what we don’t know?

    Science tell us that we can only see somewhere around 5% of the known universe — the rest is made up of “dark” matter and energy. Of that 5% we can observe, the matter that makes it up is mostly empty space, since the atoms that make up matter are nothing more than electron clouds with a vanishingly small nucleus buried deep within. If we were to expand a typical atom so that the nucleus was the size of a baseball, the surrounding electron cloud would be the size of a baseball stadium, with nothing but empty void between the cloud and the nucleus.

    The point is that we perceive a very small part of what we think exists, and most of what we perceive is empty void. When one ponders that, the impact of 2) seems rather diminished. It’s obliquely reminiscent of that old Flip Wilson ice cream man skit, wherein he proclaims you can have any flavor you can imagine, as long as you limit your imagination to chocolate and vanilla.

    3) It is reasonable to infer that (until such time as something above changes) all processes have natural explanations.

    Given that we haven’t stipulated what caused natural processes to come into existence, and since what we (think we) can explain seems diminished in light of how little we truly perceive, I am not convinced of how “reasonable” your inference allegedly is.

    You’re an idiot dude.

    Invective, the usual strategy of someone lacking a rational argument…

    You completely missed what I said. Reading comprehension fail.

    Such spectacular irony.

    I’m dismissing his specific statements about science and what/how it does.

    Which is exactly what I have been saying — you have dismissed his statements, the ones I quoted, as “garbage”:

    “That quote is garbage.” Alex Hardman, March 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    That would be you, dismissing the quote in its entirety, as “garbage”. That would include all of the statements therein. Seems pretty clear to me, alleged “reading comprehension fail” notwithstanding.

    You have attempted to infer that I thus reject his positions on materialism/supernatural/evolution/biology/something, when that is not the case

    “Reading Comprehension Fail” on your part. I have “inferred” nothing of the kind, nor made any “attempts” to do so. I have simply observed that you dismissed his statements as “garbage”, which you clearly did. Any “inferences” beyond that are of your own making.

    None of what I refuted bears any basis on any specific subject of discussion, beyond the methodology of science. That’s what Ian was trying to explain to you.

    If that’s what he was allegedly “trying to explain”, he did a spectacularly piss-poor job of it.

    Difference is we’re right, you are all alike with regards to how you believe in something with zero evidence.

    Wow. Stereotype much? It’s merely a sign of your own pathos that you truly seem to believe such nonsense. In fact, I challenge you to prove, or even just substantiate, this absurd claim that every single one of the tens of millions of believers in the world believe with “zero evidence”.

    You can’t claim group A tolerates something, the criticism of that something by members of group A notwithstanding.

    I am sorry that the mechanics of the English language are causing you such discomfort, but, given that one definition of “tolerate” happens to be “to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerate), it stands to reason that, if just-so stories truly were not tolerated, they would not be allowed to exist, they would not be permitted. Therefore, if they do exist, they must be tolerated at some level. Sorry, chief, “epic fail” on your part.

    I totally understand your position now.

    Your misinformed rant demonstrates otherwise.

    Ian…

    That’s not caricature, it’s a demonstration of the absurdity of your argument. I’m trying to show you how nuts Lewontin’s statements look if they are not, as you claim, critical of a position that he disagrees with.

    Well, I can play that game too, then:

    Interviewer: We’re joined today by Dr. Richard Lewontin, atheist and evolutionary biologist, to shed some light on the conflict between religion and science. Dr. Lewontin, some have said that the Cambrian Explosion demonstrates the limits of the theory of evolution. That we must consider the possibility that a higher power is involved. You disagree with this?

    Lewontin: Yes. What you’re describing is Intelligent Design, which I’ve always maintained is a pseudo-science.

    Interviewer: And you are an atheist?
    .
    Lewontin: Yes.

    Interviewer: You believe that evolution by natural processes is sufficient to explain the Cambrian explosion?

    Lewontin: Yes.

    Interviewer: Why? Can you give us your reasoning behind this?

    Lewontin: Certainly. It is simply because the alternative that “God did it” is unacceptable to the scientific enterprise. Just because we have a phenomenon that cannot be easily explained by material causes, such as the Cambrian Explosion, we cannot fall back on supernatural causes because that would simply bring the scientific enterprise to a screeching halt. Imagine how little progress we would make if every time we encountered a difficulty in explanation, we simply fell back to “the Hand of God” explanation. We would still be thinking thunder and lightening were signs that the gods were angry!

    Interviewer: So there’s no evidence to support your position?

    Lewontin: That depends on what “position” you are referring to. There may not be direct evidence currently to support a Darwinain explanation for the Cambrian Explosion, but the whole point of science is to seek that evidence. Just because doing so may be difficult, it’s no excuse to just throw up our hands and say “God did it”. And my overarching position, that we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door, is supported by the evidence of all the scientific progress we have been making the past 150 years since Darwin.

    Interviewer: So that is what you meant by not allowing a Divine Foot in the door?

    Lewontin: Exactly. That is also why we must tolerate “just-so” stories, for those stories provide us with a framework of investigation. Either a “just-so” story is true or it isn’t, and frankly, “God did it” is the mother of just-so stories. We can use science to either substantiate a just-so story, or find evidence against it and rule it out, but again, that gives us a framework of investigation. However, “God did it” does just the opposite, for once we have that “explanation”, investigation would cease…

    Interviewer: So when you stated that you had an a priori commitment to materialism in spite of just-so stories and absurd explanations, were you not criticizing science?

    Lewontin: Not in the least. I was simpy explaining the necessity of that commitment, for, as I said, the alternative would bring science to a halt.

    So, if making stuff up qualifies as “evidence” as you seem to be implying, then I have just shown that Lewontin was not being critical, and my made-up stuff has just as much validity as your made-up stuff does. After all, Lewontin never used the terms “disagree” or “objectionable”, or any derivatives thereof, in the statements I quoted.

    You’re describing your own delusions to us.

    Again, you are free to believe whatever floats your boat, but it doesn’t speak well of your alleged rationality.

    I was trying to explain that you failed to understand Alex’s position.

    I understand his position re:Lewontin just fine. I am fully aware that Alex made a spectacular gaff, originally stating that “the quoted idiot” (which would be Lewontin) “didn’t understand science”. Let me refresh your apparently failing memory (emphasis added):

    That quote is garbage. It’s pretty obvious that you, and the quoted idiot, don’t understand science.” Alex Hardman, March 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    After realizing his blunder, Alex did indeed back pedal:

    “To forestall a particular critique, I don’t think Lewontin is an idiot, merely that he sounded idiotic in that quote. The smartest amongst us occasionally says something retarded.” Alex Hardman, on March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    So obviously, Alex made his opinion of Lewontin quite clear, and I never said anything about his opinion of Lewontin, but the undisputable fact is that Alex did dismiss Lewontin’s quoted statements as “garbage”and “retarded”, and that is all I ever claimed.

    That you and Alex persist in reading more into my statements than is actually there is your problem, not mine.

    Keep staring at the words, and maybe in another four days or so you’ll get it.

    There is nothing there to “get”, except more of your non sequitur nonsense about Alex’s “opinions”, which was never an issue from my perspective. That is something I don’t think you will get, after four days, or weeks, or even months of staring.

    hamby…

    Why is it so hard for theists to get this?

    There’s nothing to “get”…

    I have stated before that it doesn’t matter whether a given atheist has a prior commitment to materialism. If that atheist uses “science” as his or her justification for their “provisional”, “conditional” materialist outlook, if they claim that their outlook is a “conclusion” based, at least in part, on “science”, and if “science” itself has a prior commitment to materialism, then we still have an example of circular reasoning. That is the sum total of my argument.

    Oh, yeah… I remember… because they begin with an unalterable truth and then grab onto any fact (or pseudo-fact) they can to try to support their position.

    Your various claims to the contrary notwithstanding, that is exactly how atheists appear to me.

    They honestly have no idea what it’s like to begin with evidence and move to a provisional conclusion.

    Again with the stereotypes. Go ahead and demonstrate that people such as Antony Flew or Alister McGrath or Lee Strobel “have no idea what it’s like to begin with evidence and move to a provisional conclusion”. It’s easy to make sweeping generalizations about people (i.e. stereotype them). It would be a refreshing change of pace to see you actually substantiate your claims.

    Posted by CB | April 1, 2011, 6:12 pm
  133. tl;dr

    From the skim:

    In fact, I challenge you to prove, or even just substantiate, this absurd claim that every single one of the tens of millions of believers in the world believe with “zero evidence”.

    What you call evidence, the rational world calls unknown. When you can’t provide an answer for something, you fill it with “god”.

    The rest of the rant isn’t worth responding to. It can be summed up as:

    Atheists are just like theists, they believe what they want and ignore everything else. Theists are right when they do it though.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 1, 2011, 9:14 pm
  134. tl;dr

    “Too Lazy; Didn’t Read”

    You do that a lot — suffer from ADD??

    What you call evidence…

    You obviously don’t have a clue what I or many others call evidence. To borrow a phrase from your witty blog host, “you have no f***ing idea.”

    What you call evidence, the rational world calls unknown.

    Tell that to Antony Flew or Alister McGrath — they’d probably just laugh at such nonsense.

    The rest of the rant isn’t worth responding to.

    Oh, of course not — yet you did, in fact, respond. Rather pathetically, I might add.

    Atheists are just like theists, they believe what they want and ignore everything else.

    Fixed it for you. After all, such is what you’ve demonstrated, repeatedly.

    Oh, and I finally put my finger on why your #2 premise didn’t sit well in your so-called logical argument:

    2) For every process we can explain, there is a natural explanation

    This is a circular assertion. Hidden in the word “explain” is the a priori assumption that the explanation is a naturalistic one — the only type you would accept as “valid”. It should therefore read:

    2) For every process we can explain with a natural explanation, there is a natural explanation

    Quite profound, chief…

    Posted by CB | April 16, 2011, 10:35 pm
  135. This is a circular assertion. Hidden in the word “explain” is the a priori assumption that the explanation is a naturalistic one — the only type you would accept as “valid”. It should therefore read:

    Amazing. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you could hide stuff in words. I don’t have an a priori assumption that such an explanation is a natural one. I’m willing to accept the possibility of unnatural or supernatural explanation. It just has to be an actual explanation. Something that can be verified and validated somehow.

    I see where your confusion began now. You are wrong about what we think and are willing to accept. It’s understandable given your background.You’re welcome for clearing this misconception about atheists.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 17, 2011, 4:51 pm

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