Last week, The Thinking Atheist interviewed psychologist/blog cousin Caleb Lack, the president of OKC Atheists Red McCall, and me.

After seeing the videos Seth made for Caleb, I AM SCARED TO DEATH.

CALEBS VIDS ARE SO GOOD.

I didnt say anything nearly that eloquent or interesting!

:-|

And DAMN Seth! The production quality of those vids! In TWO DAYS, Seth made those videos. TWO DAYS. It takes me that long to make a goddamn figure for a paper!

Atheists might not be any smarter than theists, but we at least have some insanely talented people.

Comments

  1. #1 Richard Schaefer
    February 26, 2013

    I was raised in an agnostic household and drifted into rebellious adolescent atheism. It was easy to simply say, “There is no God because (fill in the blank).” I even went to atheist gatherings and group meetings. It wasn’t long before I realized they too had a dogma – antitheology. One by one I tackled those dogmatic positions logically and found them without merit.



    There isn’t space here to pick them apart one by one so I will skip to the denouement. The earth – no, the universe – is perfect in every way. If you were God you couldn’t change one thing for the better without upsetting the whole system. Now, don’t approach that statement facilely with questions like, “Oh really, then why is there suffering and hunger?” Blah, blah blah… Take your time and carry every argument to its logical conclusion. You will find the hand of God; not eternally existing matter, energy, time and natural laws mixed with explosive, astronomically unlikely happenstance.

    Logic and reason will take you the rest of the way – but it will require some effort. Smugly denying or dismissing a thing is easy – understanding it is tough.
    There is a plan, a purpose. Not just a auto detonating rock organizing itself into the universe.. a dimension of time, space, matter… and ultimately, life.


  2. #2 Tommykey
    http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com
    February 26, 2013

    The earth – no, the universe – is perfect in every way.

    “The earth – nay the universe – is.”

    There, I fixed it for you. You can’t call it perfect because you have no frame of reference for doing so. You can’t compare this universe with another to see which is better.

  3. #3 rork
    February 26, 2013

    “understanding it is tough” – I agree.
    “eternal existing matter, energy, time” – who says that and the other things besides you?

    I can’t explain everything. I don’t find that surprising – we are just small-brained apes. It doesn’t mean I have to embrace a non-explanation to obtain the feeling of purpose. Accepting uncertainty is an alternative, unpalatable to some. No purpose that I can discern – yeah, it’s a bummer. I can only offer: care for the other folks suffering a similar fate maybe. Yes, even that is pointless in the long-term view. That’s not our faults.

  4. #4 Wow
    February 27, 2013

    Richard, your definitions of atheist and agnostic are incorrect and therefore you’re drawing conclusions that are basically unsound.

    Atheist is “no belief in god”.

    Agnostic is “doesn’t know, but thinks likely”.

    Therefore an agnostic theist is “has a belief in god, doesn’t know, but thinks likely”.

    “I even went to atheist gatherings and group meetings.”

    Ah, sorry, my mistake: you’re just pretending to be an atheist/agnostic.

  5. #5 Priscilla Parker
    February 27, 2013

    They were amazing videos and I think Mr. l=Lack brought up some excellent points such as enforcers. I have a problem with confirmation bias being used as a cognitive determinant because it’s kind of a paradox. It’s a catalyst to think critically about what influences behavior but sort of ends there meaning you can’t do much more with, “a person of faith is such because it confirms their belief.” Enforcers are measurable because you can control them and then use actual data to come to a conclusion about how effective they are and even compare different enforcers. Focusing on enforcers is also more pragmatic because it can determine the function of behavior and isn’t dependent on cognitive explanations which are impossible to simplify or generalize.

    Either way, it’s a very interesting topic which I love discussing.

  6. #6 Roger
    February 27, 2013

    As an ACTUAL agnostic (I can’t speak for Mr. Schaefer), I’ve always found a militant atheism – or anti-theism – to be counterproductive, and more than a bit of a turnoff. Several prominent atheists have expressed the same sentiment (not unlike moderate churches who distance themselves from the disgusting Phelps-ian “God hates fags,” sentiments).

    I just find it serves the opposite goal when one seeks not just to promote one’s own belief(s) and ideology, but instead seeks to discredit the beliefs of another. Isn’t that the same faux pas of which we constantly accuse Christian missionaries?

    I much prefer those who choose to discuss and debate – an important aspect of both of those being the ability to listen – than those who choose to inflame and accuse. “Are the religious less intelligent?” just strikes me as unnecessarily inflammatory, and attracts the Schaefers of the world, here to tell you about your errant ways! Oh, if only you could see the wonder of the world around you through God’s eyes! (Or, something like that, I skipped the rest of the post when he started waxing religious).

  7. #7 Something else
    February 27, 2013

    This seems to imply atheists are more talented than theists. I seriously doubt being one or the other influences the extremely broad/ generic characteristic called “talent.”

    I don’t think it was meant to imply that, but it could be read that way.

  8. #8 Kemanorel
    February 27, 2013

    @Roger
    @Richard

    There is no such thing as being only agnostic. That is about only what you claim or believe can be claimed as KNOWLEDGE. What you BELIEVE still makes you either theist or atheist as well. Everyone falls into 1 of 4 categories (thought there are varying degrees of each category as well):

    agnostic atheist
    gnostic atheist
    agnostic theist
    gnostic theist

    Pick one.

  9. #9 Kemanorel
    February 27, 2013

    @Roger

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with discrediting the beliefs of another person, especially where a.) there is direct evidence to the contrary and b.) the belief being discredited is harmful.

    If you want to believe in a god, you can do that all day long and you won’t hear a word from 99% of atheists. If you believe you can treat your kid’s diabetes with faith healing, then you better believe an atheist will do everything they can to destroy your belief before you kill your child.

    Most atheists know when it’s appropriate or not appropriate to slam a belief. There’s a reason you don’t see atheists attacking the Jains, for example, because the more extreme a Jain gets, the less you have to worry about them because their extremists become more and more pacifist. It’s unfortunate that the “religions of peace” tend to be the exact opposite.

  10. #10 Kemanorel
    February 27, 2013

    @Richard

    “The earth – no, the universe – is perfect in every way.”

    a.) What about the part where the Sun turns into a red giant and vaporizes the earth? Is that “perfect?”
    b.) What about the part where most of the earth and the universe would essentially be instant death to anything living? Is that “perfect?”
    c.) The universe will eventually suffer heat death and there will be nothing left. Is that “perfect” too?

    I don’t think those things are perfect, so where is your definition of perfect from? The perfect universe isn’t defined in the Bible. It certainly wasn’t defined by a deity. So where did you get your idea of what a “perfect” universe is?

    Right now it seems like all you have is your own projection on the universe based on the a priori supposition that God exists therefore the universe must be perfect. To assert that you need to prove God exists and a.) He created the universe and then had to create a perfect universe, which also makes me ask is your deity incapable of creating an imperfect universe and how you know that?

  11. #11 Gator
    February 27, 2013

    “I was raised in an agnostic household and drifted into rebellious adolescent atheism.”

    That has got to be one of the funniest sentences I have read lately. Bravo. Your poor parents.

  12. #12 Where did the Higgs-Boson field come from?
    February 27, 2013

    Have you ever noticed how atheists evangelize more than anyone else, despite having no proof? A few percent whine more than anyone else and ruin it for the vast majority. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. God defies logic and is not something we can characterize using the myopic constraints of the human mind and, by extension, the language of mathematics and physics. If we could, he wouldn’t be God. But he sent his only begotten son so that you could begin to understand.

    You’ll see it when you believe it. I sure did when I moved away from athiesm toward belief. And to think, I believe in evolution too. Say it isn’t so. Abby actually used the word soul-less on the CT shooting thread. Did she really say that? Why, yes, she did. So, what is a soul then? The irony is that athiests fail to realize they are in, one way, proving the existence of God when they beat their heads against the wall arguing against such a notion.

    “God is dead”

    - Nietzsche

    “Nietzsche is dead”

    - God

  13. #13 Kemanorel
    February 28, 2013

    “Have you ever noticed how atheists evangelize more than anyone else, despite having no proof?”

    Pointing out where religion fucks up is not the same as evangelizing for atheism. I’ve been pointing out the mistakes of religion since before I was an atheist.

    What you’re doing is evangelizing. What I’d doing right now and in the rest of this comment is ridiculing. I’m not advocating atheism. I’m advocating not believing in unproved assertions.

    “God defies logic”

    Thank you for admitting that God is not logical, and by extension believing in him would be not logical because believing in not logical things is not logical.

    “… is not something we can characterize using the myopic constraints of the human mind”

    That’s exactly what you just did with that statement. You characterized him as something that can’t be characterized.

    It’s also funny that you would even try to claim this, yet there’s an entire book characterizing him, what he does, what he did with his son (who is also himself…).

    Not to mention there are ~30,000 different groups of people who have split one after another because they don’t characterize him the same way. I guess with your characterization that makes 30,001. Now if you only convince all the other people he’s uncharacterizable, you might be onto something.

    “You’ll see it when you believe it.”

    Sorry. That’s not the way a logical mind works. That’s the same way you get people that believe in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

    “I sure did when I moved away from athiesm toward belief. ”

    I highly doubt you were ever an atheist.

    ” I believe in evolution too.”

    Cool. But you’re not special. Evolution is not an atheist belief.

    “Abby actually used the word soul-less on the CT shooting thread. Did she really say that? Why, yes, she did.”

    Yeah. Couldn’t possibly be a metaphorical turn of phrase…

    “The irony is that athiests fail to realize they are in, one way, proving the existence of God when they beat their heads against the wall arguing against such a notion.”

    ROFL. That’s as stupid as claiming the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot exists because there are people that claim that they don’t.

  14. #14 SLC
    February 28, 2013

    Re Richard Schaefer @ #1

    The universe is far from perfect and most of it is inhospitable for life. See attached video by Neil Tyson

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEl9kVl6KPc

    Re #12

    The Higgs boson, like the rest of the universe came from nothing, e.g. it was produced by a transient discontinuity in the quantum vacuum. The nothing described by Lawrence Krauss in his book differs from the nothing as conceived in the 19th century, as we now know, nothing consists of the quantum vacuum, which is both nothing and something at the same time.

  15. #15 Tommykey
    http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.ocm
    February 28, 2013

    Have you ever noticed how atheists evangelize more than anyone else, despite having no proof?

    No, I haven’t noticed, because it’s not true. An atheist has never rang my door bell at 10 AM on a Saturday morning to talk to me about atheism.

    I have never seen atheists on street corners or in subway stations exhorting me to abandon religion, or trying to give me pamphlets.

    I have never seen any television stations exclusively devoted to atheism, though I get several Catholic stations on my cable.

    No, dude, we’re not evangelizing more than anyone else.

  16. #16 Where did the Higgs-Boson field come from?
    February 28, 2013

    “What you’re doing is evangelizing. What I’d doing right now and in the rest of this comment is ridiculing. I’m not advocating atheism. I’m advocating not believing in unproved assertions.”

    Congratulations on allowing yourself the privilege of ridiculing me. You must feel mighty proud of yourself. I’m not evangelizing. I’m certainly not trying to convert anyone. I’m merely saying that I have experienced the Holy Spirit in my life working in unfathomable ways, I’ve witnessed prayers being answered, and I’ve talked to doctors who have had patients who died on the table, only to come back to life and describe Heaven as it is described in the Bible and events occurring around the time of their death that they couldn’t possibly otherwise have known about.

    Check out cardiologist Dr. Mark Sheehan’s book for one. I also know doctors with PhDs in applied math who are a helluva lot smarter than molecular biologists, immunologists, and geneticists, who have had “death” experiences, not mere hallucinations from firing neurons.

    “Thank you for admitting that God is not logical, and by extension believing in him would be not logical because believing in not logical things is not logical.”

    You’re welcome, but the by extension part is of your own making. This is where faith, corroborated by SOME archaelogical evidence, history, and personal experience comes in to play. God is not subject to the very limited, rational mind and the laws with which we observe the OBSERVABLE universe. God is outside of time, space, and matter.

    “It’s also funny that you would even try to claim this, yet there’s an entire book characterizing him, what he does, what he did with his son (who is also himself…).”

    The book is MOSTLY allegory and metaphor, but it’s the veracity of the entire work that matters. Obviously, it’s not perfect, and it’s not literal. Despite it’s many contradictions, the fact that there are many separate accounts from different authors telling essentially the same stories is somewhat compelling.

    “Sorry. That’s not the way a logical mind works. That’s the same way you get people that believe in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.”

    “We agree. Again, God is beyond logic. If you rely on logic alone, you are missing out, but you don’t know it, because you are an “I’ll believe it when I see it type of person.” The more open to it you become, REALLY open, the more you will start noticing blessed coincidences or, shall we say, God-incidences in your life.

    “I highly doubt you were ever an atheist.”

    Who cares what you highly doubt? I highly doubt you have an ounce of humility in your arrogant, scientific ego. Unfortunately, I disavowed God for a portion of my life, and it was probably the most unhappy, unforgiving, bitter, unloving, wretched time of my life.

    You’ll probably doubt that I was once a molecular geneticist w/a degree from a top-tier school too, but I chose not to go the route of the megalomaniacal lab rat, as so many of them are. Of course, at this point, I don’t have a choice anyway. But I’m fine because I find my peace and strength in Christ.

    “Yeah. Couldn’t possibly be a metaphorical turn of phrase…”

    Go back and read the blog. The tenor of how it was written befuddled me too. The word soulless was not used as some sort of satirical Jedi-mind trick. That’s not how it was intended.

    “ROFL.”

    Wow. Neato.

    “That’s as stupid as claiming the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot exists because there are people that claim that they don’t.”

    The difference is, people don’t go to unfathomable degrees to argue against the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster like they do God. Just look at this entire blog. Look at the title of this article. There’s a rabid, seething disdain in the self-proclaimed “intellectualist” atheism crowd for the “Hill-Billarys” who dare assert something that can’t be proven via the scientific method. It’s comical.

    I find it much harder to believe and far more irrational to assert that something came from nothing, that order came from utter chaos, that the moral law “evolved” in humans so that instead of discarding the weakest among us to advance the species, we actually go to great lengths to preserve them at great cost; well, except for the unborn, who cannot advocate for themselves.

  17. #17 Gator
    February 28, 2013

    “Have you ever noticed how atheists evangelize more than anyone else..”
    No, never. Not even close. You’ve got to be blind or insane to think that is anywhere close to accurate.

  18. #18 Where did the Higgs-Boson field come from?
    March 1, 2013

    It was meant to be an evocative statement. Atheists are their own holier-than-thou cult of sorts with much vitriol aimed at “lesser folk,” who may or may not believe in creationism, the scientific method, and evolution.

  19. #19 Tommykey
    http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com
    March 1, 2013

    The difference is, people don’t go to unfathomable degrees to argue against the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster like they do God. Just look at this entire blog. Look at the title of this article.

    Oh, here we go again. Bigfoot and Loch Ness monster advocates aren’t a large voting bloc demanding that the existence of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster be taught in science classes. Bigfoot believers don’t ring by door bell on Saturday mornings to talk to me about Bigfoot. Americans who do not believe in the existence of Bigfoot are not looked down upon as being lesser Americans the way many of your ilk portray atheist Americans.

    It seems like your real problem is atheists exist at all. We shouldn’t be allowed to express our opinions about religion in our own blogs or write books, have conferences, appear on television programs etc.

    It was meant to be an evocative statement.

    No, it was a patently untrue statement that you feel entitled to make because you are the one is “holier-than-thou”.

  20. #20 Where did the Higgs-Boson field come from?
    March 1, 2013

    I will admit that I should’ve shown more humility, so for that I apologize. I’m not demanding that religion be taught in the public classroom, I don’t knock on people’s doors (though I do help people out who are struggling and I ask if I can pray for them, and I certainly don’t have a problem that atheists exist, so I am unaware of this “ilk” (that’s a holier-than-thou” statement right there). I have a problem that they go to great lengths to demean and degrade folks who have faith, as you and others have done here. As for me, I simply don’t think God and science (evolution) are mutually incompatible concepts. I studied molecular genetics, but I also bear personal witness that God has, indeed, acted in my life.

  21. #21 Where did the Higgs-Boson field come from?
    March 1, 2013

    By the way, I’m surprised that you would be so fearful of a “voting bloc” that is losing traction, even as we drive ourselves toward Rogoff and Reinhart’s bang point, where our sovereign credit itself becomes subprime because none of our politicians have any serious intent to implement any austerity whatsoever, and for that, you and me and our children will dearly pay, eventually.

    Read the executive summary if you haven’t the will to read the full report:

    http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research/financial_markets/uneven_progress_on_the_path_to_growth

  22. #22 Gator
    March 1, 2013

    “I will admit that I should’ve shown more humility, so for that I apologize.”
    Humilty is not the issue, saying patently untrue things is the issue.

    “I’m not demanding that religion be taught in the public classroom, I don’t knock on people’s doors (though I do help people out who are struggling and I ask if I can pray for them, and I certainly don’t have a problem that atheists exist, so I am unaware of this “ilk” (that’s a holier-than-thou” statement right there).”
    Maybe *you* don’t, but many many many religious people do. It is a basic tenant of many religions that believers should evangelize, like Mark 16.15. Like Mormons are supposed to go on missions. Etc. etc. And the US at least has a long history of religious people trying to insert religion into public education, often at the expense of science education. You have to be willfully ignorant to or dishonest not to see this.

    That’s not being “holier-than-thou” that’s just opening your eyes.

    “I have a problem that they go to great lengths to demean and degrade folks who have faith, as you and others have done here.”
    Waaaahhhhh. Poor victim bully. You’re not being demeaned for your beliefs (probably no one give a shit about your beliefs) you’re being called to defend your statements. This is a science blog if you haven’t noticed.

    “As for me, I simply don’t think God and science (evolution) are mutually incompatible concepts. I studied molecular genetics, but I also bear personal witness that God has, indeed, acted in my life.”
    Good for you. I don’t care. I do care when you and your friends try to force my children to learn bullshit in school.

  23. #23 rork
    March 1, 2013

    “I also know doctors with PhDs in applied math who are a helluva lot smarter than molecular biologists, immunologists, and geneticists” blah, blah.
    Most good math folks are atheists too. Just not as often as the best biologists, who nearly all are. There are papers about that. The biologists are more likely to understand, if they think they’ve had religious experience, why that might be a natural occurrence – the wish to understand makes you need to explain it somehow. There’s a bit written about that too. They know it’s easy to fool yourself about things in the real world. Whether a math statement is true or not has nothing to do with the real world.

    Disclaim: I’m a statistician. We have theories about learning. Most don’t.

  24. #24 Kemanorel
    March 1, 2013

    “I’m merely saying that I have experienced the Holy Spirit in my life…”

    Hint: all of that is evangelizing.

    “… who have had “death” experiences, not mere hallucinations from firing neurons.”

    There’s only 1 death experience, and you don’t come back form it: when your brain no longer functions. There’s a reason NDEs are easily reproduced by strong magnetic fields or by putting someone into a centrifuge (like the one’s pilots/astronauts train in) and induce them by oxygen deprivation. That’s all it has ever been shown to be: the brain under stress.

    “This is where faith, corroborated by SOME archaelogical evidence, history, and personal experience comes in to play.”

    Only history and archaeological evidence are evidence at all, and based on the amount in the Bible that’s wrong, there’s no reason to think that a few things that happen to be real means the rest of the book is. Your corroborating evidence is about as convincing that the son of God walked the earth as the existence of New York is convincing that Spider-man is real.

    “God is not subject to the very limited, rational mind and the laws with which we observe the OBSERVABLE universe.”

    There you go characterizing your uncharacterizable God again. You can’t state he is this or that until you prove he actually exists.

    “The book is MOSTLY allegory and metaphor, but it’s the veracity of the entire work that matters.”

    There are books with much better veracity and morality to choose from then.

    “Obviously, it’s not perfect, and it’s not literal.”

    Funny. Jesus talks about Adam and Eve as if they’re literal… He even says, on multiple occasions, that not one iota of the law of the prophets will change until the end of time, which means all the nasty stuff in the OT is stuff you’re supposed to hold to.

    If the distinction is just what you feel like cherry-picking, then what’s the point in the first place?

    “Despite it’s many contradictions, the fact that there are many separate accounts from different authors telling essentially the same stories is somewhat compelling.”

    Not when they’re almost all completely ripped off from other religions from hundreds of years earlier.

    “If you rely on logic alone, you are missing out”

    On what exactly? As someone was religious and knows what I “gave up” in return for intellectual freedom, saying that is about the equivalent of a police officer pleading with a man wrongly convicted who’s since been released, “But don’t you miss the handcuffs, jail cells, and rape?”

    That’s okay. I’ll keep my freedom.

    “because you are an “I’ll believe it when I see it type of person.””

    I’m an “I’ll believe it when there is evidence for it” type of person. Believe without evidence is irrational. Come back and talk to me when you can say, “Whenever you do X, Y, and Z, I can prove God exists because action A happens.”

    For example, “Whenever I pray to God on the first Sunday of the month, the next person I touch will be cured of all illness.”

    That’s an extreme example, that’s how you prove something exists. Make a hypothesis, set up the conditions, conduct the experiment, analyze the data. Unfortunately for you, things like prayer have only been show to have a NEGATIVE placebo effect.

    “I highly doubt you have an ounce of humility in your arrogant, scientific ego.”

    Except that I’m married to a Catholic woman… But she doesn’t preach like you do.

    “I disavowed God for a portion of my life, and it was probably the most unhappy, unforgiving, bitter, unloving, wretched time of my life.”

    Funny. While I was a theist was when I had the most unhappy, unforgiving, bitter, unloving, wretched time of my life, to the point I was considering suicide. It was giving up religion that allowed me to get out of the depression I had caused by the cognitive dissonance of trying to square reality in religion.

    Writing in a journal is what kept me from actually pulling the trigger. When I became an atheist, I had 2 more entries in that journal. One about how I finally figured out that God wasn’t real, and one about how I didn’t need to write in a journal anymore to try and make sense of religion.

    “You’ll probably doubt that I was once a molecular geneticist w/a degree from a top-tier school too, but I chose not to go the route of the megalomaniacal lab rat, as so many of them are.”

    Not that it matters in this conversation, but yes, I doubt it because being a lab rat, let alone a megalomaniacal one, isn’t the only thing one could do with a degree from a top school. If that’s all you thought you could be, then you’re the stupidest “top-teir school degree” holding person I’ve ever met that you didn’t even bother looking up the options afforded to you from having a good education.

    Personally, I have a MS in CS specializing in Bioinformatics, and I’m about half way through a 2nd MS in Biotechnology, both from Johns Hopkins. Either of those degrees means I could be a lab rat (I volunteer as one at the USDA in addition to my regular full time job), but they also mean any amount of straight up CS work (which is my full time job right now), biodata analysis, M&S of biological systems, bioinformatics programming, biological database management/design/administration, etc…

    ” the megalomaniacal lab rat, as so many of them are.”

    Define megalomaniac:

    1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
    2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.

    I know a lot of lab rats through school and the USDA, none of them are megalomaniacal. Maybe my sample size isn’t big enough, but I would have thought I would have met at least one.

    It does sound a lot like God and the clergy though…

    “I’m fine because I find my peace and strength in Christ.”

    And you say you don’t evangelize, you kidder, you. You had me going for a second there.

    “people don’t go to unfathomable degrees to argue against the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster like they do God.”

    See comment #19

    “Just look at this entire blog. Look at the title of this article.”

    You mean the whole 1-2 posts per month specifically dealing with religion? The title was a question. The videos she refers to are to someone specifically saying that atheists aren’t smarter and that intelligence is mostly normalized.

    WTF are you talking about?

    “I find it much harder to believe and far more irrational to assert that something came from nothing,”

    Wait? Who’s made that assertion other than theists claiming their God came from nothing and that He created everything from nothing? The closest I see to any scientist making that claim is Laurence Krauss and he’s talking about virtual particles and quantum mechanics and stuff, not that it just “poofed” into existence.

    So, wtf are you talking about?

    “that order came from utter chaos”

    It’s so cute when you theists try to talk about things you didn’t study. I actually studied complex systems and chaos doesn’t mean absolutely random, but rather just that a system with identical starting conditions can come to different outcomes.

    And we see order come from disorder all the time. It happens in physics and chemistry and biology all the time.

    “that the moral law “evolved” in humans so that instead of discarding the weakest among us to advance the species, we actually go to great lengths to preserve them at great cost”

    First, even the weakest provide genetic diversity which is an advantage, especially back when humans almost went extinct.

    Second, discarding even the weakest can be disadvantageous. Take any hockey or soccer team as an example. Say the weakest player on the field was sent to the penalty box or off the field from a red card. Is the team at an advantage or disadvantage having to play a man down?

    You don’t think these things through much, huh?

  25. #25 Hepburn
    Philadelphia
    March 2, 2013

    Re: Richard Schaefer February 26, 2013

    Richard’s post is boils down to a typical “God of the Gaps” arguement mixed with anecdotal claims of evidence. Just because humans do not have a perfect knowledge of the universe, this does not mean that supernatural forces must be at work. I understand that a belief in God can be incredibly strong and once you make a commitment to that belief, it is very difficult to let it go (this is true of other types of belief as well, but even more so with religuous belief). But I would stress that it is religious “faith”, not religious “fact”. There is no evidence for God, just as there is no evidence for astrology, witchcraft or alien abduction.

  26. #26 Cubist
    March 2, 2013

    It wouldn’t surprise me if atheists, considered as a group, actually were smarter than religious peoplem, considered as a group. In the United States, at least, everybody is exposed to Xtian memes damn near 24/7/365; to be an religious believer, the minimum requirement is that you just passively accept the memeplex you’re soaking in. To be an atheist, contrariwise, requires a bit of thought, a bit of critical analysis to recognize the weirdness and unreality of religious beliefs.
    So it seems to me that the relationship between intelligence and atheism is analogous to the relationship between tallness and playing professional basketball. In both cases, there’s no intrinsic, necessary linkage between the former and the latter; it’s just that it’s a lot easier to be the latter if you were already the former in the first place.

  27. #27 Roger
    March 3, 2013

    @Kemanorel,

    That seems to be an unimportant distinction. Most connotations define THREE types of people:
    -People who are certain there is some sort of deity, afterlife, etc.
    -People who are unsure whether or not there is some sort of deity, afterlife, etc.
    -People who are sure there is no deity, afterlife, etc.

    To quote Maher (who, I believe, was paraphrasing Dawkins): “…but I’m NOT wrong.”

    I don’t know too many atheists who think, sure, maybe there’s a god (beyond extremely small probabilities for the sake of entertaining possibility itself). Similarly, there are plenty of deists who aren’t so much into organized religion, but they aren’t entertaining the theory that there IS no god.

    Thus, I find your categorization of “agnostic atheist” – which is where I would fall – specific beyond accuracy. I don’t worship anyone, which is irreligious but not atheistic; I don’t believe, with a certainty, in any way whatsoever concerning theism; and I certainly don’t believe in proof either way. So, a lovely middle of the road.

    For the record, I think that anyone who believes in “proof” of the impossibility of a god comes off as delusional; I don’t think many people fall into the gnostic atheist camp. I think the vast majority of atheists would be willing to change their minds given PROOF, but find the possibility of a god existing to be extremely unlikely. (Similarly, a gnostic theist seems to be confusing what they BELIEVE with what they KNOW, since the existence of god certainly isn’t provable by any scientific measure).

    TL:DR: don’t badger me with labels that, in your opinion, serve better than the traditional labels that are nearly universally accepted. It’s unnecessary, condescending, and, in my opinion (above), not particularly any more accurate.

  28. #28 Roger
    March 3, 2013

    @Kemanorel,

    Regarding your second point:
    “There is absolutely nothing wrong with discrediting the beliefs of another person, especially where a.) there is direct evidence to the contrary and b.) the belief being discredited is harmful.”

    Yes, I 100% agree. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the point I made. “Are the religious less intelligent?” is an inherently inflammatory point, and does nothing to address the two caveats you listed above. It attacks religious belief irrespective of the provability of any related beliefs.

    It is not provable that some kind of god does not exist (a theist can conveniently adjust their god to be “infinite and unknowable” all (s)he wants, thus negating the possibility to disprove that god). Simply having a belief in that god is also not provably harmful.

    You claim that “most” atheists know better than to badger theists. That might be true (I’d like to see the study, for the record), but it certainly isn’t true of the most vocal atheists. Several atheists have raised their voices in concern over Dawkins’ often vitriolic rhetoric, as it likely does very, very little in the way of influencing others to his way of thinking; preaching to the choir, if you will.

    Yes, every group has that: I know some wonderful Christians, but the Westboro Baptist Church is still a thing; I know plenty of peaceful Muslims, but the Middle East has plenty of examples to the contrary; I know some really cool Rastafarians….ahh, who am I kidding, I don’t know any Rastafarians.

    @Cubist,
    You’re possibly entirely right, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t smack of elitism, arrogance, and condescension to state such. It’s also a tendency of any group of people to assume their group is superior to others; else, why would you belong to that group? And, much like any stereotype, it’s always subject to being incorrect when applied individually (like it or not, there are theists smarter than you or I, and atheists dumber than a housecat; doesn’t disprove the concept, just a reminder that all stereotypes are subject to being inapplicable on an individual basis).

  29. #29 Kemanorel
    March 5, 2013

    @Roger

    Comment #27

    ” Most connotations define THREE types of people:
    -People who are certain there is some sort of deity, afterlife, etc.
    -People who are unsure whether or not there is some sort of deity, afterlife, etc.
    -People who are sure there is no deity, afterlife, etc.”

    These are all references to claims of knowledge. It has to do whether you are gnostic or agnostic on the position, not what you actually believe.

    “I don’t know too many atheists who think, sure, maybe there’s a god (beyond extremely small probabilities for the sake of entertaining possibility itself).”

    Actually, almost all of the atheists I know do think that way because it’s the only intellectually honest position given a complete lack of evidence either way.

    “I find your categorization of “agnostic atheist” – which is where I would fall – specific beyond accuracy.”

    How is it specific beyond accuracy? Worship has nothing to do with atheism/theism. It’s not a requirement of either. “I don’t believe, with a certainty, in any way whatsoever concerning theism” means you’re an atheist. “I certainly don’t believe in proof either way” makes you agnostic.

    So, what am I missing? How is agnostic atheist too specific to be accurate?

    “a gnostic theist seems to be confusing what they BELIEVE with what they KNOW”

    How is it confusing? Gnostic means they claim that they KNOW there is a god. Theist means they believe in a god.

    Agnostic theists are the ones who are simply honest enough to say “I believe because of faith and nothing else.”

    Comment #28

    “Are the religious less intelligent?” is an inherently inflammatory point”

    And I think you missed my point that asking that question isn’t inflammatory. Asserting that it is true is inflammatory whether it is true or not. But the question was only asked here. The videos linked specifically say that intelligence is normalized.

    You’re arguing that something is inflammatory that doesn’t exist in this post.

    “It attacks religious belief irrespective of the provability of any related beliefs.”

    Only if used as an attack. There may be a perfectly good phenomena to study.

    “Simply having a belief in that god is also not provably harmful.”

    Did anyone state here that it was always harmful? It’s definitely provable that it can sometimes be harmful. Just look at faith healing for an example of that.

    You seem to be battling with claims that no one has made. Certainly not by me.

    “Several atheists have raised their voices in concern over Dawkins’ often vitriolic rhetoric, as it likely does very, very little in the way of influencing others to his way of thinking; preaching to the choir, if you will.”

    1.) Look up “tone argument.” They’re stupid. Don’t use them.
    2.) It does help some people. It helped me for sure. I don’t ascribe to his every word or anything, but he made some good points that helped me shed the last of my religious tendencies as I was transitioning from theist to atheist.

    @Your response to Cubist

    “you can’t argue that it doesn’t smack of elitism, arrogance, and condescension to state such.”

    Tone argument… Again, worthless. A thing is true or not true regardless of the tone in which it is presented.

    “much like any stereotype, it’s always subject to being incorrect when applied individually”

    Who is applying it individually? Why do you keep fighting things no one has claimed?

  30. #30 madmidgitz the prophet
    March 19, 2013

    @tommykey

    “”Have you ever noticed how atheists evangelize more than anyone else, despite having no proof?”

    “No, I haven’t noticed, because it’s not true. An atheist has never rang my door bell at 10 AM on a Saturday morning to talk to me about atheism.

    I have never seen atheists on street corners or in subway stations exhorting me to abandon religion, or trying to give me pamphlets.

    I have never seen any television stations exclusively devoted to atheism, though I get several Catholic stations on my cable.

    No, dude, we’re not evangelizing more than anyone else”

    but we totally should evangelize, i do, i used to go to mormon areas(i went to high school in utah i wasnt being discriminatory,just opportunistic) and proselytize the FSM(may he touch you with his noodly appendage)I got threatened, had guns waved at me, but i only stopped when some guy started following me.

    maybe not such a good idea after all
    but they were such good times

    BTW why arent mormons abused more, i mean they are trying to convert people of other faiths, faiths in which being of another faith is almost as bad as atheism/FSM

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