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 Matt Dowling
    October 29, 2006

    Hilarious. Perhaps I’ll show this to the mormon guys the next time they come around…

  2. #2 Matt Dowling
    October 29, 2006

    Hilarious. Perhaps I’ll show this to the mormon guys the next time they come around…

  3. #3 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.

  4. #4 raincoaster
    October 29, 2006

    Charming. Agnostic, your last line negated the respect I had maintained for you up to that point; if you have such a low opinion of the people here, why are you speaking to them?

    In any case, I just dropped in to point you to this video, which gives the Christian and Muslim perspectives. Watch it while you can: the YouTube deathwatch is on.
    http://raincoaster.com/2006/09/09/even-stevphens-colbert-vs-carrell-solve-religion/

  5. #5 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!

  6. #6 craig
    October 29, 2006

    Some of the comments attached to that utube clip are pretty funny.

    Sometimes when I just don’t have enough insanity in my life I check the utube comments for a “controversial” clip, or read the low-rated IMDB comments about films like An Inconvenient Truth, or read the one-starred Amazon reviews of books by progressives. I read them until I am pacing the room in circles in a sweat with my hands shaking.

    Besides masochism, I wonder if there’s a name for this hobby?

  7. #7 Tristram Brelstaff
    October 29, 2006

    I must say, I like Black’s idea of stoning creationists with fossils. This seems suitably biblical.

  8. #8 Caledonian
    October 29, 2006

    Ah, but he throws the fossils just over their heads. I think it’s intended to be symbolic.

    And a waste of a perfectly good fossil. Throwing a Bible over their heads might be more productive.

  9. #9 spork_incident
    October 29, 2006

    Now *this* is away to spend Sunday morning!

    .

  10. #10 Bro. Bartleby
    October 29, 2006

    Well, our first Sunday service is over, and a chilly one it was indeed, for this sunrise near a sand dune awaiting for the rising sun, when Bro. Sedwick had forgot to reset the monastery clock, for the sun does not deal with these daylight savings issues, but for us monks in the dark of the desert, these are issues of import, but the sun did finally rise and the service began and all is well in the Mojave. But it is still early, and I would invite all of you, especially the atheist, to ‘invade’ your local church, shock the living daylights out of the meek congregation, and bring forth your bluster and blather and bravado to the ones that you here so blithely mock. Have courage, go mano-a-mano in the belly of the beast, inside a church! And don’t blame me if you get stuck at the pot luck breaking bread with Sheriff Andy and Aunt Bea.

  11. #11 The Disgruntled Chemist
    October 29, 2006

    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!

    Whew! Thanks for exempting me. I hear the blood of Christ really doesn’t mix with an epic hangover.

  12. #12 J-Dog
    October 29, 2006

    Beautiful stuff. I would love to hear him do this ran down South, so I could shout out “Amen” and “Tell It” at the apporpriate parts.

  13. #13 Russell
    October 29, 2006

    “Methodological naturalism” is less a tautology than it is meaningless. There simply isn’t an operational definition that tells how to draw the line between what is “natural” and what is “supernatural.” If a god were to start revealing himself, then he would be subject to rational investigation as much as anything else. What prevents that isn’t any methodological rule, but the simple lack of any evidence with which to work. Theology fails to be a science not because of some a priori assumptions that science makes, but because of the lack of any evidence with which to work.

  14. #14 JamesR
    October 29, 2006

    “10 hairs away from being baboons”. I am so using that.

  15. #15 Zeno
    October 29, 2006

    Agnostic: 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).

    Congratulations, Agnostic. You sound a lot like my Roman Catholic father. He was upset when Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Sagan was a clever man, and the ending of his pronouncement can certainly be read as a riff on “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be” (Amen and all that), but it’s basically a definition. Cosmos is a synonym for universe. It means everything. No exceptions.

    It’s just a definition.

  16. #16 Eli Rabett
    October 29, 2006

    You folk might enjoy this, especially the circular comment file. http://www.blogsforbush.com/mt/archives/008135.html

  17. #17 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.

  18. #18 George
    October 29, 2006

    He and Julia Sweeney should do an act together.

    Great stuff.

  19. #19 craig
    October 29, 2006

    “Beautiful stuff. I would love to hear him do this ran down South, so I could shout out “Amen” and “Tell It” at the apporpriate parts.”

    If I remember correctly, this clip is from a show in Baltimore. Hastily relocated there when the planned venue in D.C. got wind of his kind of humor. Might be from a different video of his, though.

  20. #20 Francesco Franco
    October 29, 2006

    Yeah, I gave up on religion a loooooong time ago. But, then, science (i.e. medicine) hasn’t done much for me either!! Philosophy is really nothing but the manipulation of tools such as mathematical logic and other forms of argumentation and rhetoric to persuade and convert others to one’s own point of view. I tried literature and poetry for while….but I don’t seem to have the talent. There’s really not much left for failures like me (and probably the vast majority of the human population in general).

  21. #21 Jon Deane
    October 29, 2006

    I’ll think you’ll find that science has done an awful lot for you quite apart from medicine, Francesco. It may well not pat you on the head and tell you everything will be all right, but is ubiquitous in in a great deal of the positives in the modern world (yes, the negatives too).

  22. #22 Patrick
    October 29, 2006

    But, then, science (i.e. medicine) hasn’t done much for me either!!

    It’s always so freaking hilarious when someone says this sort of thing about science over the Internet.

  23. #23 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…

  24. #24 Baratos
    October 29, 2006

    Patrick: I agree completely. I think these people were born without the part of their brain that detects irony.

  25. #25 chuck
    October 29, 2006

    why can’t we just watch this and laugh?

    why all the lengthy posts stating one point or another. come on people…its just f’n funny!

  26. #26 uncle fister
    October 29, 2006

    why all the lengthy posts stating one point or another. come on people…its just f’n funny!

    Yeah – why all this communication and interaction on a blog? What the hell is wrong with all of you?

  27. #27 Keith Douglas
    October 29, 2006

    Agnostic: Have you read anything I’ve written here? I’ve made metascientific remarks on epistemological and ontological grounds repeatedly, and yet I do not find a lot of fault where you seem to. I always took Sagan’s remark to be a definition, not a hypothesis.

  28. #28 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 ……….

  29. #29 Francesco Franco
    October 30, 2006

    It’s always so freaking hilarious when someone says this sort of thing about science over the Internet.

    Raising the further question: what exactly has the Internet done for me?

  30. #30 Steve LaBonne
    October 30, 2006

    Raising the further question: what exactly has the Internet done for me?

    Why, it’s enabled you to be a troll! Thereby, it would appear, giving meaning to your existence for the first time. Such ingratitude.

  31. #31 Jessica
    November 1, 2006

    Hey,
    Not all Christians think the earth was created in 7 days….the Catholics don’t (check out the Catechism). Or go all out and read Fides et Ratio (available online just google)

  32. #32 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    We know Jess. Only between 50-60% believe in God creatiing the earth in the U.S.
    The 7 days is just a technicality. Hey… if god did it, why not 7 days? Is there some
    other Christian theory of how long it took god?

  33. #33 Jess
    November 1, 2006

    Is there some other Christian theory of how long it took god?

    Yes. Read
    In the Beginning…: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall
    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    Also…read Fides et Ratio.

    You can’t debate this until you know the other side of the argument. Otherwise, you’re arguing against a position you know nothing about.

  34. #34 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    I don’t have to understand more than “god did it”.

    It’s like arguing about the gestation perod of dragons or unicorns.

  35. #35 Jess
    November 1, 2006

    “I don’t have to understand more than “god did it”.”

    That’s where you’re wrong. What kind of scientist are you??
    In grad school one of the main lessons was that you can’t just dismiss an argument without understanding the other person’s position.

    If you have a good argument against it, then give it. Otherwise, it’s the same as shrugging your shoulders and saying “well, I don’t believe it so neither should you”. That’s just lame, and is shotty scholarship. Scientists should be able to do better than that! Otherwise you’re just as bad as the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims that you’re railing against!

    So, read the books and come up with a rationale, logical response. Otherwise, why should anyone listen to you?

    Unfortunately, I’m finding that more and more scientists today are ill-equiped to defend themselves using straight-forward rationale arguments. I think it’s because scientists are being trained to be lab-rats and technitions rather than thinkers. I can’t remember the last time one of the students in our program voluntarily took a course in Philosophy.

  36. #36 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    I don’t even believe there is a god.

    How can I EVER accept any theory of how long it took god to create the universe.
    There’s no science in any theory of god creating anything. You have the same glitch
    many of the fairhful have… you begin with god and everything else springs from it.

    Do you want to debate Jesus the Zombie (raised from the dead), or how god impregnated Mary too?

  37. #37 michael
    November 1, 2006

    “I don’t even believe there is a god.”

    OK. then explain (in scientific terms) WHY you don’t believe. How hard could it be? I assumed that you actually came to this conclusion in a logical, rationale matter. If so, then just re-iterate those steps. Keep in mind that lots of things that scientists used to dismiss out of hand (e.g., the idea that the sun was not the center of the universe, that there were things smaller than atoms, that there were black holes, anti-matter, etc) have not become accepted, so the feeling that something can’t be true can’t be used as “evidence” that it is not true. You must have a better logical argument than that.

    Another question to consider, you don’t believe in god, but how do you live your life? Do you live as though god existed or do you live as though he did not exist? If he does not exist, if there is no afterlife, then why do you do what you do? Why do you get up in the morning? What’s the point of life? Would you kill someone just because you don’t like them (why not?) Would you mind if I tried to kill you? or your mother?

    Again..I should point out that you have not answered my question about morality.

  38. #38 leo
    November 1, 2006

    Steven,you don’t want to believe god because….why? Because you can’t know he exists?
    Well, time to wake up to the real world. Most of what we, as scientists, take as fact cannot be seen or even measured directly.

    Take the first few sentences from “Where Science Went Wrong”
    “Empirical Science validates itself by claiming its assertions are based on measurements of physical reality. However, none of its claims has any basis in physical reality. There is no physical evidence that gravity is proportional to, and therefore a property of mass. There is no way to prove that an object will move in a straight line unless a force acts on it to change that motion and, in fact, nothing moves in straight lines.”
    So, why, as scientists do we hold this to be true? Blind faith?

    This book is about science, not about faith, but it is an eye-opening read for those naive enough to believe that everything we do as scientists is based on the observable, the “real”. My field doesn’t work like that, and I doubt yours does too.

  39. #39 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    I’m in advertising. 🙂

    Explain in scientific terms why you don’t believe in the Norse god Thor.

    I live my life as if there is no god and there never was.

    Michael. You can’t be serious. I’m a good person. A very nice and friendly person.
    I believe the death penalty is wrong and war should be avoided unless there is no other choice. I think stealing is wrong. I think racism and sexism and homophobia are wrong.
    I think puppies are cute and you should open the door for people. I think Christmas is nice. I treat people how I think I should be treated. In fact I’m probably not as selfish as I should be. Perhaps too nice. I don’t pray. And I fear death because I know that’s the end of the line. I enjoy the life I have now knowing it’s all that I have. It’s reassuring.

    You should try it.

  40. #40 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.

  41. #41 goth
    November 1, 2006

    “Michael. You can’t be serious. I’m a good person. A very nice and friendly person.
    I believe the death penalty is wrong and war should be avoided unless there is no other choice. I think stealing is wrong. I think racism and sexism and homophobia are wrong.”

    Why? Why are these things wrong? What gives you the moral authority to make that judgment.
    I don’t think that we should be constrained by these convensions and I don’t think that believing in those things makes you a “good person”. It makes you a brain-washed idiot who is a slave to society and what others think. If 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. And don’t bother telling me that it’s bad from an evolutionary standpoint. We can all do without naive idiots like you.

    Why should life be “nice” and “reassuring”? Those are stupid morality statements anyway. And if you don’t know what the purpose of life is (and in fact, by your view, there is no purpose) then how can you make judgments about what’s good, what’s bad, what’s nice.

    You’re going to die so why bother hanging around sucking up the Earth’s resources. Either pop yourself off or let someone less wimpy do it for you.

  42. #42 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?

  43. #43 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!

  44. #44 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!

  45. #45 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.

  46. #46 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    New troll alert!

    Why is it wrong? Life is all that any person will ever have. Their time is short. No one should needlessly take it away from them.

    But a major beating might serve goth well. Did you dress up as Danzig for Halloween?
    Awww how cute. Nietzscheans are so funny.

  47. #47 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    I asked for someone to provide me a valid reason for not believing in the Norse god Thor.

    I don’t believe in faeries and unicorns either. Do I have to provide a reason for that too?

  48. #48 jess
    November 1, 2006

    “Do I have to provide a reason for that too?”

    Actually, if you were any decent scientist, you WOULD have to.
    You have to rule out other alternatives. How do you know there are no unicorns? Seriously. Lay out your logic. People didn’t believe in dinosaurs either until oops there they were.

    (Oh, and the fact that you continue to answer the question with a question indicates that you CAN’T answer it)

  49. #49 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.

  50. #50 a
    November 1, 2006

    What gives you the moral authority to make that judgment.

    And you believe that God gives you moral authority? So did Mohammed Atta.

    Adherents to Judiasm are told that eating pork is a sin. Christians are not. Does that make God a moral relativist?

    You are essentially arguing that whatever God decides is moral is what counts.

    If God commands a genocide (as he did in the Old Testemament) is that moral?

    If God commands me to kill you, is that moral?

    Right and wrong are concepts that we have to iron our using reason and philosophy and if a God gives an immoral command he should be challenged on it.

    At least half of what you think of as moral came from secular philoshophy and just plain society and were later imposed on religion. Or do you believe in stoning your kids to death if they misbehave?

    Even if God is the source of morality, whose version of God are we to believe? Yours? Osma bin Laden’s?

    If you really believe in God and the reward of eternal paradise, why would you even risk going outside and committing a sin? You should be a monk in a monastary. You should be anxiously waiting to die. Do you seek a doctor when ill or when your child is ill? If so, Why? You are only postponing your heavenly reward.

    Disclaimer: I am agnostic, more so than a lot of people who visit this blog. I don’t believe in God because there is no evidence. I don’t assert that there is positively no creative force or greater purpose for existence. I just refuse to accept arbitrary believes in the absence of evidence to do so.

  51. #51 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    How bout this.

    There is no evidence that god exists or has ever existed.

    That wasn’t hard.

    People don’t believe in dinosuars. Do you believe in birds and dogs?
    Fossils were found and through scientific research explained.

    By the way… I’m not a scientist. So I’m a very poor scientist. But I’m relatively smart.

  52. #52 Steve Watson
    November 1, 2006

    If there is no God everything is allowable: Nietzsche
    I thought it was Dostoevsky who said that, but ICBW.

    Anyways, even a superficial survey of the history of religion would suggest that with God, everything is also allowable.

  53. #53 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.

  54. #54 goth
    November 1, 2006

    “And you believe that God gives you moral authority? ”

    Um…I”m a GOTH you idiot. I don’t believe in any of that junk you spewed out.

    NO ONE can make moral judgments. Without God, there is NO MORALITY. You and I agree that there is no god. Hence no morality. Is that so hard for you to understand.
    Read Nietzsche, will ya.

  55. #55 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).

  56. #56 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.

  57. #57 profMike
    November 1, 2006

    “I am agnostic, more so than a lot of people who visit this blog. I don’t believe in God because there is no evidence. I don’t assert that there is positively no creative force or greater purpose for existence. I just refuse to accept arbitrary believes in the absence of evidence to do so.”

    It is illogical to be agnostic (see Ratzinger’s latest book Christianity and the Crises of Cultures or Kreeft’s book for the full argument). In short, you either live as though there is a god or you don’t. There is no middle “maybe” position. To sit on the fence and be agnostic is irrationale because the decisions you make in your life depend on the answer.

    I’m willing to believe in plenty of things for which there is no evidence (just like early scientist who believed in something and then went looking for it). Also, you believe that the sun will come up tomorrow, but it doesn’t have to.

  58. #58 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…

  59. #59 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).

  60. #60 a
    November 1, 2006

    “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.”

    Yeah, right. That’s why he’s flying around in jets staying at ritzy hotels instead of using his cash to actually do something useful in the world like feed the poor or cure cancer (or whatever else he thinks will save the world.
    Yes, I think he’s doing it for money and for fame. I doubt that he’s doing it to help society.

    He’s already written articles about how murders in jail are just poor victims — products of bad genes and bad enviroment. They shouldn’t be punished. Yet when it comes to those who believe in some relligion (which by his definition would be due to genetics and/or environment) then something is wrong with them. Maybe that’s just they way there are. Leave them alone and go live your life. Don’t mess with evolution, baby.

  61. #61 lulu
    November 1, 2006

    Boston Review sums it up best:
    “In short, the Darwinists have plunged heavily into the religion business, making claims that go far beyond their evidence. Douglas Futuyma’s textbook proudly aligns Darwinism with the other atheistic pseudosciences that bemused the twentieth century. He writes,

    Together with Marx’s materialistic theory of history and society and Freud’s attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin’s theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism–of much of science, in short–that has since been the stage of most Western thought.2
    That’s accurate, but Marxism and Freudianism have already gone into the trash can of intellectual history. Darwinism survives for now, but its bluff is being called.”

  62. #62 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.

  63. #63 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?

  64. #64 joe
    November 1, 2006

    who are you kidding?? Nietsche was the prototypical nihilist!
    “While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. ”
    Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    (or check out the classic Russell’s History of Western Philosophy)
    Have you even read Nietzche or are you just clouding the facts because you have no valid response.

    Oh, as for lulu’s comment. She/he/it was citing the Boston Review, so if you have a problem, take it up with them.

  65. #65 fatherJ
    November 1, 2006

    Everybody has faith. From the meticulous scientist to the most irrational religious fanatic, everyone believes in something, and everyone acts on that belief somehow. The question is not whether we WILL have faith; it is whether or not the things we believe are true.

  66. #66 fatherJ
    November 1, 2006

    almost forgot to post my favorite quote. Atheists are, by definition, as guided by faith as theists. Agnostics are just cowards that are afraid to decide.

    The most brilliant, highly-educated, widely-traveled human on earth today, having maximized his/her brain cells at optimum learning levels for a lifetime could not possibly “know” 1/1000th of all that could be known; and knowledge is now doubling by the years rather than by decades or centuries! Is it possible that God could still exist outside this very limited, personal/knowledge experience of one highly intelligent human being? By faith, the atheist says, “No.”

    Another curious thing about the atheist is that before he can identify himself as one, he must first acknowledge the very idea, or concept, or possibility of God so he can then deny His existence!

  67. #67 a
    November 1, 2006

    The majority of great scientists in the 19thC were (gasp) theists.

    Eymieu in his La Part des Croyants dans les Progres de la Science au XIX Siecle has listed the names of 432 scientists of mark. Setting aside 34 whose religious views are unknown, he tabulates them as follows: Atheists 16; agnostics 15; believers 367. Selecting out of this total 150 original thinkers and scientific pioneers, he finds among them only 5 atheists and 9 agnostics compared with 123 believers (the views of 13 are unknown).

    Conclusion: It is not true that the majority of nineteenth century scientists were atheists or agnostics.

  68. #68 PascalFan
    November 1, 2006

    Pascal rightly says that there are two types of men, those who are afraid to lose God, and those who are afraid that they might find Him.
    Which one are you?

  69. #69 Baratos
    November 1, 2006

    Of course I am worried that I might turn up in front of God. But no more than I am afraid of dying and being punished by Zeus, Odin, Osiris, Xenu, or Cthulhlu.

  70. #70 Steve_C
    November 1, 2006

    We have a troll that won’t use the same name consitently. It’s childish.

    “God did it” is not a theory. It’s a myth.

  71. #71 baratos
    November 1, 2006

    Steve_C Your refusal to justify your belief is what’s childish.
    You don’t belief in God, so why is it so hard to explain why you don’t? Haven’t you had to justify that before? Haven’t you even thought about why you believe what you do.

  72. #72 Baratos
    November 2, 2006

    I did not make the post with my name in lower case letters. Is there some way to delete that post? I find it offensive.

  73. #73 raincoaster
    November 2, 2006

    And I’m offended by the fact that somebody ratted me out and now the Even Stevphens video is gone from YouTube. We must be ever vigilant…and change our tag names. Steve Carroll? Stephen Colbear?

  74. #74 Steve_C
    November 2, 2006

    I have justified my beliefs. Apparently all of the you(s)… don’t understand it.

    It a common glitch of the faithful.

  75. #75 jtdub
    November 3, 2006

    The quote above says only that Nietzsche was most closely associated with nihilism. This is true, but Nietzschean nihilism is based on a rejection of contemporary morality (most often religious morality), in order to create one’s own moral code. Thus, his nihilism wasn’t an end in itself, but rather a call for mankind to create their own morality rather than blindly follow what has been prescribed before. This is, essentially, exactly what atheists do: create their own morality based on basic truths of humankind (as, I believe, Steve has already pointed out).
    In the past, it was, perhaps, expedient to have all of these moral codes spelled out for people to follow.
    However, now, as Nietzsche said: “God is dead. We killed him.” This was not a lament on his part: we have killed god because we no longer need him.

  76. #76 RickD
    November 4, 2006

    What a hideously dull troll we have here today. Anyway, back to the first critical comment, before the trolling.

    Anyway, Agnostic said:
    “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.”

    You were wrong after five words. The interaction between math and science is far more complex than you are making it out to be.

    It is completely consistent to study and practice science and to believe that probability is merely a mathematical abstraction that does not describe reality at all. Nobody approaches science with the notion of “Probability of Statement X being true is y%”.

    “We are neither omnicompetent nor omniscient.”

    That doesn’t really matter, since science does not make universal, non-falsifiable claims. (At least, not when it’s done properly.)

    Agnostic, if you have a problem with particular statements that people make, then the best way to address that is to attack the particular statements people make. When you say something like “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,” all you are achieving is coming across like a self-satisfied ass. Without any examples to back up your presumption of superiority, you simply look like Yet Another Strawman Burner.

    Boring!

  77. #77 Rex Throttle
    November 17, 2006

    I stopped by this blog following a link. Heh, I haven’t seen so much name calling since the 3rd grade.

  78. #78 Askwhy
    November 17, 2006

    Its not entirely clear what is meant by believing in God.
    It might help to agree on a working definition. (Indeed, if we can’t, there is nothing to discuss.)

    Defining God as an incorporeal, uncreated, eternal, omniscient, being, allows us to consider the question of existence apart from other questions such as whether it is the God of Pope Ratzinger or Osama bin Laden.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything preventing the existence of an incorporeal, eternal, uncreated being. However, certain scientific principles would be violated by true omniscience. These would include, I would think, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the limit of the speed of information transmission to the speed of light. Although not necessarily conclusive, this is some evidence against the existence of God as defined above. Is omniscience a necessary element of the definition?

    In addition, general principles such as Occams Razor, suggest that absent something for which the existence of God is a necessary explanation, the correct default position is that God doesn’t exist. Is there anything for which the existence of God is a necessary explanation?

  79. #79 Justin
    November 21, 2006

    At the end of his rant he’s talking about how theres already preaching against homosexuality in the Bible. Well… fyi… theres like 26 references or something to sexuality in the Bible and only maybe 4 of them that the average person today would agree with.

  80. #80 Julie Stahlhut
    November 22, 2006

    Do you live as though god existed or do you live as though he did not exist? If he does not exist, if there is no afterlife, then why do you do what you do?

    The thing that’s hardest for many people to understand is that for many of us, this concept is completely uninteresting and irrelevant.

  81. #81 Kseniya
    November 22, 2006

    People who argue that there is no morality without a god are the most immoral people on Earth. They can’t tell right from wrong and the only thing that keeps them from being mass murderers (apparently) is fear of Hell. Pathetic animals.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Have a big heaping serving of roast stuffed troll and count your blessings. It’s good to be alive.

  82. #82 Duff
    November 24, 2006

    Kseniya, those little people who claim it takes a belief in God for people to be good, would be the first to say they personally would be good even if God weren’t looking over their shoulder. That, of course, is the perfect admission that God isn’t necessary for good to be in the world. Just another proof that the religionist are full of that “innefable” substance.

  83. #83 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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