Pharyngula

Lewis Black explains religion

Here’s a real deal for you all: if you watch this video, you’ll have taken care of all your religious obligations for the day and are exempted from having to go to church this morning!

Comments

  1. #1 Agnostic
    October 29, 2006

    Lewis is pretty funny (almost as funny at Richard Dawkins’ attempts at philosophy).

    Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degree of certainty. Scientific methodology incorporates three broad ideas: (i) methodological naturalism is assumed – natural phenomenon should be explained in terms of natural mechanisms; (ii) hypotheses if they are to be genuinely scientific must be falsifiable – that is that an observation could be made that allows to reject the idea under test; and (iii) the collection of empirical, ideally experimental, evidence in large volumes to understand patterns and processes within nature. Scientific truths are probabilistic judgments, some are near sure in their truth value, given the evidential context, in that their probability asymptotically approach P=1. However they never actually reach a truth-value of P=1 because of the falsification element, in that we cannot observe everything that has occurred or that will occur. We are neither omnicompetent nor omniscient (so our whole system of knowledge might not be completely isomorphic with the true nature of reality). I can say that ‘God’ as casual hypothesis for the existence of the universe seems to be extremely low, asymptotically approaching zero but I’m not sure I can will all honesty claim that P=0. Not that I think such a thing is there at the start of nature but I do rather dislike dogmatic assertions.

    If anyone knows a scientific truth with a truth-value of P=1 (that is it unchallengeable and a necessary truth that cannot be falsified) then they have stepped outside the boundaries of the scientific method. So when Carl Sagan or whoever states that nothing other than the universe could exist or will exist it’s pseudoscientific assertion (without the necessary evidential basis). I’m all for a naturalistic ontology (on the grounds of parsimony and coherence) but it doesn’t so much go against the evidence as go beyond it (as does any other more extravagant ontological framework). I could discuss David Hume’s work on induction and the difficulties of foundationalism, however people on this blog don’t seem to ‘do’ epistemology or ontology. In fact they barely seem to understand the scientific method.

  2. #2 Caledonian
    October 29, 2006

    (i) methodological naturalism is assumed – natural phenomenon should be explained in terms of natural mechanisms

    Ah, but since nature is a completely open-ended concept, naturalism isn’t just assumed, it’s tautological.

    (ii) hypotheses if they are to be genuinely scientific must be falsifiable – that is that an observation could be made that allows to reject the idea under test

    One that isn’t falsifiable doesn’t actually make predictions, restrict the available possibilities, or actually describe anything that exists.

    (iii) the collection of empirical, ideally experimental, evidence in large volumes to understand patterns and processes within nature.

    Within nature? There is no “without”.

    I don’t know about Dawkins, but your attempts at philosophy are downright hilarious!

  3. #3 Sastra
    October 29, 2006

    At the end of the clip, Black sets off on a rant which seems to complain that putting an Amendment in the US Constitution restricting marriage to a man and a woman is just plain stupid and unnecessary because it’s already in the Bible. So everybody knows it’s true. Duh, otherwise we’d be trying to marry camels and snapping turtles.

    It’s a little hard for me to tell if he means this at face value — the Bible is the basis for our laws — and he’s mocking the people who don’t get this, or whether he’s parodying the religious argument of the people who believe this. I think it could conecivably be taken either way.

  4. #4 Caledonian
    October 29, 2006

    It’s a little hard for me to tell if he means this at face value — the Bible is the basis for our laws — and he’s mocking the people who don’t get this, or whether he’s parodying the religious argument of the people who believe this. I think it could conecivably be taken either way.

    Sastra, you’re not at familiar with the career of Lewis Black, I take it…

  5. #5 Desert Donkey
    October 29, 2006

    http://darwiniana.com/2006/10/23/marilynne-robinson-on-dawkins/

    …. and an overtly religious writer “reviews” The God Delusion in Harpers this month(link to a copy above). Titled Hysterical Scientism; the term Darwinism is used in the first paragraph and it goes downhill from there. Ms. Robinson goes on an extended argument cum rant about Dawkins for several pages. I think Harpers ought to run a review of this review in the name of ‘balance’. PZ, of course, would be the ideal writer of said review.

    It goes without saying that Lewis Black is more entertaining and more accurate ……….

  6. #6 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    you guys arguing against steve are missing a simple point.

    all you are doing is turning the real question against the questioner.

    the onus is on YOU who believe to provide evidence to justify it, not on Steve or Dawkins to provide evidence to the contrary.

    you can’t knock Steve’s take without acknowledging the fact that there is NO evidence whatsoever to support the notion of any god ever contended.

    this conflation of science with “faith” just sickens me, and continues to show just how ignorant of science those arguing with Steve here really are.

  7. #7 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    there is no god we are all free to do as we like and if I want to stop by your house and shoot off your smug little head, then I should be able to do it.

    sounds like you really need your imaginary self-constraints in order to keep your anger in check.

    Steve apparently doesn’t.

    I don’t either.

    perhaps you should consider visiting a mental health care professional to find out alternative ways of anger management?

  8. #8 goth
    November 1, 2006

    Ichthyic….who made you God and the judge of what is and isn’t normal?
    If there is no God everything is allowable: Nietzsche

    Sounds like you’re an evolutionary weakling.

    The strong will inherit the earth!

  9. #9 goth
    November 1, 2006

    Ichthyic….who made you God and the judge of what is and isn’t normal?
    If there is no God everything is permissible: (Thanks Nietzsche for this wonderful philosophy)

    Sounds like you’re an evolutionary weakling.

    The strong will inherit the earth!

  10. #10 jew
    November 1, 2006

    “the onus is on YOU who believe to provide evidence to justify it”
    That’s where you are wrong Ichthyic…Dawkins (and his ilk) are the ones who brought this up. If they don’t want people to belive than they should show why it is wrong not offer up some vague hand-waving explanation. Only an idiot would by into his claims. He’s an embarassment to scientists everywhere.

    Steve’s the one that said he doesn’t believe in god yet failed to provide a valid reason for not believing. Whether someone believes in god or not is their business but either way there should be some justification for this. Also, one shouldn’t claim NOT to believe and then live life as though there WAS a god (and go around making moral judgments). That’s called hypocrisy.

  11. #11 MAJeff
    November 1, 2006

    Actually, I find the statement “Do you believe in God” to be completely unintelligible. It assumes the existence of something in which I can choose to believe or not. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence to indicate that such a thing exists. I’ve seen no evidence there’s something to choose to believe in or not. The question is meaningless.

  12. #12 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    That’s where you are wrong Ichthyic…Dawkins (and his ilk) are the ones who brought this up.

    uh, you’re projecting.

    did dawkins make up your idea of xianity?

    nope, seems the mythos of that particular religion existed long before dawkins did.

    so essentially, one could say that the inventors of the “god” mythos started this. Dawkins is simply the latest in a long line of those who have picked up the gauntlet your ilk threw down long before.

  13. #13 a
    November 1, 2006

    “I’ve seen no evidence there’s something to choose to believe in or not. The question is meaningless.”

    Then why is Dawkins trying so hard to show that God doesn’t exist. What’s it to him? (Other than a few million dollars thanks to suckers who buy his book to debate what is according to you a meaningless topic).

  14. #14 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    so you’re a pretend nihilistic existentialist?

    I don’t think you really understand Nietsche very well.

    suggest you actually re-read his writings when you are a bit older.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    Then why is Dawkins trying so hard to show that God doesn’t exist. What’s it to him? (Other than a few million dollars thanks to suckers who buy his book to debate what is according to you a meaningless topic).

    so, you think Dawkin’s motivation is monetary? You never actually read the book, or watched any of his video investigations of the societal impacts of fundamentalist religions around the world, have you?

    Dawkin’s motivation is made plain for all to see, that the negative societal impacts of religion far outweigh the benefits, and he provides considerable evidence to support his contention.

    the natural extension of this observation, is to proceed to examine the core of the belief structures that maintain religion, and the evidence for those core beliefs is found entirely lacking to even casual investigation.

    it’s really that simple, and what one would expect from most scientists, who at heart espouse pragmatism.

    it ain’t got nothin’ to do with money.

    now Coulter OTOH…

  16. #16 peter
    November 1, 2006

    OK Ichthyic. What do YOU think Nietsche was advocating.
    He is one of the few atheists that had the brains to realize the implications of this belief. Morality is meaningless (and nonexistent).

  17. #17 sam
    November 1, 2006

    OK. this is getting dull. Let me sum today’s lame argument and then surf on to better sites.

    S: I don’t believe theory A.
    Q: Why?
    Steve: I don’t believe it. I like Theory B
    Q: Why?
    S: Because I like Theory B
    Q: Why don’t you like theory A
    S: because I don’t think it’s true
    Q: Why?
    S: Because smart people like Dawkins think Theory A is false and I believe him
    Q: Why
    S: Because theory A can’t be true because I don’t believe it. And because I can be a good person without Theory A.
    Q: But how do you know what “good” is
    S: uh…I don’t like theory A

    Ahh…like discussing science with a toddler.

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    November 1, 2006

    thanks for posting such a stinking pile of illogic and misrepresentation, lulu.

    did you want that drivel broken down piece by piece, or are you just trolling?

    @peter and “goth” as to niesche; do you really think you can sum up the ideology of nietsche in a two word sentence on a blog page?

    I can’t see trying it, but in short: nietsche was not a nihilist, nor was Sarte. kafka was closer to being a nihilist than either one. all were existentialists, but not all were nihilists. Nihilism matches better with the attitude espoused by “goth”, why not emulate kafka there, goth?

  19. #19 Alvin
    May 2, 2009

    I believe that as neccesary as arguments may be, when it comes to religion we can hardly get anywhere with people. Actually, I believe that for any religious cult trying to debate for their religion would have to include all others. And assuming that they even make a good debate, which to me is still not enough compared to mine or anyone else’s, they would get no where.

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