Pharyngula

For the cause!

(via
Edger)

Comments

  1. #1 Zeroeye
    September 18, 2008

    Amen!

  2. #2 Richard Harris
    September 18, 2008

    Hear, hear! What the heck are people in this day & age doing believing in a Bronze Age superstition that has been shown by science to be intellectuallu bankrupt?

    It just shows how irrational & fallible people are. It shows how easily people can be led. The best weapon against this ignorance is ridicule. PZ, keep up your assault on the enemies of humanity. (As Chairman Mao said, religion poisons everything.)

  3. #3 bunbuns
    September 18, 2008
  4. #4 Sven DiMilo
    September 18, 2008

    Rat OWN!!!!

  5. #5 BobC
    September 18, 2008

    (As Chairman Mao said, religion poisons everything.)

    There’s a bunch of people I could quote who have said pretty much the same thing, but I don’t think I would want to quote somebody who is famous for genocide.

  6. #6 Hank Fox
    September 18, 2008

    Damn, that was great!

  7. #7 amk
    September 18, 2008

    @#3: and they need crashing. > 80% have been protected by a spirit, apparently.

    Can vodka protect people?

  8. #8 BobC
    September 18, 2008

    #3: Polls to crash here

    Just when I thought Americans could not possibly be more insane, I read that 55% of American adults believe a guardian angel protected them from harm. The poll that needs to be crashed has 82% who think a spirit protected them from harm.

    America is the biggest insane asylum in the world.

  9. #9 tsg
    September 18, 2008

    America is the biggest insane asylum in the world.

    To the point where I’m ready to move to the beach and change my name to Wonko the Sane.

  10. #10 Luftritter
    September 18, 2008

    Wonderful!

    Here is a message that brings real hope for humankind, not the empty promises and delusions of religious thought.

    Let’s work for a bright future, the promise of a new Enlightenment!

  11. #11 JStein
    September 18, 2008

    That’s great.

    I wish that we were fortunate enough to live in a time of science and reason, but this is the closest we have come thus far in our history, and I am proud to be a part of this generation.

    I just look at these great thinkers, and I realize how lucky I am to live in a generation informed by such brilliant people. We have our fair share of idiots, but this video restored my optimism.

    I’m feeling a seriously romanticized view of humanity today, and mildly philosophical. Still, thanks for this, PZ. Much appreciated.

  12. #12 designsoda
    September 18, 2008

    That’s great!

    Am I the only one that thought that Omniscopic “ding!” at the end was a bit weird? Like DHARMA from “Lost” weird? Yes, I probably am. :)

  13. #13 windy
    September 18, 2008

    That’s the Paul Kurtz who emphasizes shared values with the moderately religious and won’t have anything to do with the New Atheists, right? ;)

  14. #14 Sir Jebbington
    September 18, 2008

    And here I’m watching this, with a Mjöllnir pendant around my neck.

  15. #15 Horwood Beer-Master
    September 18, 2008

    That was brilliant!
    Matt Nisbet is going to hate it.

    In fact don’t those above two sentences nearly always go together?

  16. #16 MikeyM
    September 18, 2008

    I had no idea that Roger Daltry was a skeptic!

  17. #17 tsg
    September 18, 2008

    “If the naturalistic outlook is to supplant the ancient mythological narratives of the past, it needs a new institution devoted to its articulation and dramatization to the public. The Center for Inquiry is that institution.”

    Matt Nisbett is really not going to like this. I can’t wait.

  18. #18 Richard Harris
    September 18, 2008

    …but I don’t think I would want to quote somebody who is famous for genocide.

    He wasn’t responsible for genocide, although I do concede that many people, millions (possibly), died as a result of his policies. Communism does share some of the features of religion.

  19. #19 Blake Stacey
    September 18, 2008

    Horwood Beer-Master (#15):

    That was brilliant!
    Matt Nisbet is going to hate it.

    In fact don’t those above two sentences nearly always go together?

    I don’t know, but your simple observation has made my day (previously made sucky in the way that only the Registry of Motor Vehicles can) instantly better.

    Enter the Marquis de Coiffure, stage left. . . .

  20. #20 toomanytribbles
    September 18, 2008

    ????!!

  21. #21 george
    September 18, 2008

    #16 But methinks Simon Rattle might be.

  22. #22 Rey Fox
    September 18, 2008

    They need to cut out that first second or so of E.O. Wilson’s bit. Bit unfair making the oldest guy in the video look like he missed his cue, huh?

  23. #23 TSC
    September 18, 2008

    Where you and Hitchens at?

  24. #24 womabt
    September 18, 2008

    Bravo to Paul Kurtz and CFI! If only this spot could run sometime around the Presidential debates so the message could get out. While neither candidate offers us a refuge from belief, maybe this would at least expose people to rationality.

  25. #25 Roger the Shrubber
    September 18, 2008

    I wonder if adherence to religion, superstition, the past that never was, magical ideas about purity and toxins, and so on are due to a reluctance to outgrow childish ideation.

    When you were still in diapers and were made to wash your hands, you had poorly informed thinking about what cleansing was (and certainly nothing of the chemistry, physics, biology, or botany of it). If, thirty years later, you cleanse yourself by ritually bathing in the open sewer that is the Ganges, adult reason has failed to replace childish ideation.

    When you were still in diapers and your parents got angry, you got scared and you tried desperately to appease them. If, thirty years later, you try to appease an invisible angry father and plead with an invisible-but-imaginable loving mother to intercede on your behalf, you are still the child.

    When you were still in diapers and were exposed to strangers, surprises, and novel foods, you got shy and scared. If, thirty years later, you cling to your own kind, keep their ways, and shun all others, rejecting their ways, you are still the child.

  26. #26 tsg
    September 18, 2008

    I wonder if adherence to religion, superstition, the past that never was, magical ideas about purity and toxins, and so on are due to a reluctance to outgrow childish ideation.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if it isn’t really the other way around.

  27. #27 Cuttlefish, OM
    September 18, 2008

    To everything, there is a season
    Except–so far, perhaps–for reason.
    The CFI are on a mission
    To leave behind all superstition
    If they succeed (I wish them luck)
    Perhaps… next stop: the crocoduck.

  28. #28 conelrad
    September 18, 2008

    I agree with all of that, but
    aren’t these the folks who wanted
    us to call ourselves ‘Brights’?

  29. #29 Blake Stacey
    September 18, 2008

    It appears that you can vote multiple times in those AOL polls if you clear your browser cookies.

  30. #30 tsg
    September 18, 2008

    I agree with all of that, but
    aren’t these the folks who wanted
    us to call ourselves ‘Brights’?

    Some of them. It didn’t have the intended effect. But I’m not sure what your point is.

  31. #31 Will E.
    September 18, 2008

    Didn’t see Michael Shermer… Great all the way through. I’m just not, however, down with that New-Agey music. Too woo for me!

  32. #32 Gustaf
    September 18, 2008

    I can’t help thinking how this otherwise admirable group of people really don’t lend themselves to commercials! Maybe it was the production?

  33. #33 Jim
    September 18, 2008

    @ #2
    Richard: The Bronze age superstition thing is frequently mentioned by folks. Does not that seem a bit late for the beginning of the god(s) delusion. Seems to me sometime early in H. sapin development god(s) was invented to explain the world as it was understood at the time; so
    god(s) is the result of speculation backed by limited data.
    (of course i have no data to back my speculations but gut feelings seem to be the way to go these days……….)
    Wonder if sapins actually inherited the concept from habilis.

  34. #34 CalGeorge
    September 18, 2008

    Excellent!

  35. #35 Freidenker
    September 18, 2008

    Woohoo! Jeez, look at all those friggin’ giants! This was, without any sarcasm, truly inspiring!

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 18, 2008

    He wasn’t responsible for genocide, although I do concede that many people, millions (possibly), died as a result of his policies.

    Tens of millions. The Great Leap Forward was made from the edge of a cliff, and then came the Culture Revolution, to mention just the two biggest and deadliest bouts of insanity.

    Wonder if sapins actually inherited the concept from habilis.

    That’s assuming Kenyanthropus habilis was our ancestor in the first place… :-}

    BTW: Homo sapiens. “Sapin” is French for “fir”.

  37. #37 chuko
    September 18, 2008

    I would like to see more things like this (positive point of view, emphasizing freethought and a scientific outlook over atheism per se), but aimed at the general public rather than, well, us.

  38. #38 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    Richard @ 2

    “It just shows how irrational and fallible people are. It shows how earliy people can be led.”

    That could be an excellent description of this site, particularly the part about being led.

  39. #39 Jessica
    September 18, 2008

    I can’t decide if I really like that or if I find it creepy. By the end I felt very preached-to, even though I agree with all the sentiments. Hmm.

  40. #40 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 18, 2008

    That could be an excellent description of this site, particularly the part about being led.

    Man you are fucking boring.

  41. #41 Rey Fox
    September 18, 2008

    “I know you are, but what am I?” You dazzle us with your brilliance, Max.

  42. #42 Sven DiMilo
    September 18, 2008

    Hi Max. You’re wrong.

  43. #43 Michael Drake
    September 18, 2008

    I found it bathetic and embarrassing. But there’s no accounting for taste.

  44. #44 Todd
    September 18, 2008

    Very, very nice.

    Of all the non-theist organizations, CFI is my favorite for just this reason (no pun intended).

    I can’t wait for the fundi backlash – I’m sure they won’t let the bust of Darwin (“the secularist’s messiah”) on the table when Paul Kurtz was talking go without comment.

  45. #45 chuko
    September 18, 2008

    Re: #38

    Most of us do promote a set of values, but those values include real independent thinking and reason. No one who was interested in leading people for their own purposes would promote that; it’s counter productive. It’s real freedom.

    If your reason leads you to god, so be it. But if it leads to your chaining yourself to some authority (the Bible, the Church, a pastor, a Leader), you might want to consider if the ideas you’ve absorbed are meant to keep you under someone else’s control.

  46. #46 Concrete Blonde
    September 18, 2008

    I told the priest,
    “Don’t count on any second comin’,
    god got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumin’,
    He had the gall to come,
    the balls to die,
    and then forgive us.
    Though I don’t wonder why,
    I wonder what he thought it would get us.”

    Hey Hey good-bye
    tomorrow Wendy’s going to die….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO6qrtSTkew

  47. #47 tsg
    September 18, 2008

    Hi Max. You’re wrong.

    That’s redundant.

  48. #48 ennui
    September 18, 2008

    Shhhhhhhhhhh! Don’t mention ‘Brights.’

    ‘J’ might come back!

  49. #49 Richard Harris
    September 18, 2008

    Jim @ # 33, Bronze Age superstition is a term of abuse. It is also fairly accurate for the Abrahamic religions, which, I believe, got started during the Bronze Age in the Middle East.

    Max Verret @ # 38. You are severely deluded, or prejudiced, or just plain stupid. But I doubt that you would be able to understand this, so why don’t you feck off back to your church or other superstition haven? I’m sorry about my abusive tone, but I really don’t think anything more nuanced would stand a chance of getting through to you.

  50. #50 Lee Coleman
    September 18, 2008

    Very nice video. Good jorb, CFI.

  51. #51 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Twirled in under my own steam, thankyou.
    Wrong again. *yawn*

  52. #52 Todd
    September 18, 2008

    Max Verret: That could be an excellent description of this site, particularly the part about being led.

    I don’t come to here to be led, I come here to be fed.

  53. #53 EastwoodDC
    September 18, 2008

    @#45

    If your reason leads you to god, so be it. But if it leads to your chaining yourself to some authority (the Bible, the Church, a pastor, a Leader), you might want to consider if the ideas you’ve absorbed are meant to keep you under someone else’s control.

    Nicely said, and if I may be so bold – Thank You – on behalf of reasonable believers everywhere.

  54. #54 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    September 18, 2008

    Patricia comes here to be fed, too. Trolls. Ugly though they be, many of them are fat and juicy.

  55. #55 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    September 18, 2008

    I believe in using reason. I don’t believe that believers are reasonable in their beliefs.

    Some holy texts caution against using reason. They suggest that belief be approached as an ignorant, trusting little child.

  56. #56 Whateverman
    September 18, 2008

    @ chuko #45:

    I came in here with mixed thoughts. On the one hand, the video was very inspiring, and I mean it when I say it made me proud for my species.

    On the other hand, PZ tagged this with “godlessness”; I still don’t see the connection.

    I haven’t read up on this organization, but I plan to. It seems to align almost perfectly with by own values. However, I don’t see that it has anything to do with atheism…

  57. #57 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    Jim at 33

    “Wonder if sapins actually inherited the concept from habilis”

    Yes, and habilis from the first tetrapods that crawled up on the land in the devonian and tetrapods from the slime mold, etc. Its an inate, predilection that enables us to understand that we live not only in a sensate but also in an ideational world, one other than a sensate, empirical, this worldness, that is, if your neurotransmitters are working right.

  58. #58 Sven DiMilo
    September 18, 2008

    Its an inate, predilection that enables us to understand that we live not only in a sensate but also in an ideational world, one other than a sensate, empirical, this worldness, that is, if your neurotransmitters are working right.

    Quoted for just plain wackitude.

  59. #59 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Why thank you Johnnie, you ol’ smooth talker. ;o)

  60. #60 Sven DiMilo
    September 18, 2008

    No slime molds in our ancestry, btw. Colonial choanoflagellates is what you meant, I’m sure.

  61. #61 Badjuggler
    September 18, 2008

    Max@33: Wha?

  62. #62 mayhempix
    September 18, 2008

    Time to spin off another version of the TV series:

    CFI Morrison

  63. #63 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    Sven @58

    Actually, I neglected to note that it was a redacted quote from the Harvard sociologist, Pitirim Sorokin, in his book The Crisis of Our Age.

    Sorry, however, I really don’t think Sorokin was a wacko. I did a presentation on his work when I was an undergraduate. He sounded fairly erudite at the time.

  64. #64 decrepitoldfool
    September 18, 2008

    Horwood Beer-Master (#15), FTW!

  65. #65 Bob Vogel
    September 18, 2008

    #22 Rey Fox “They need to cut out that first second or so of E.O. Wilson’s bit. Bit unfair making the oldest guy in the video look like he missed his cue, huh?”

    I didn’t pick up on that. Just having Wilson in this vid at all gives it its primary weight and significance, to me. In fact, his presence is a like a common denominator. I didn’t notice any screwup in editing.

  66. #66 JoJo
    September 18, 2008

    I did a presentation on his work when I was an undergraduate. He sounded fairly erudite at the time.

    Being erudite and being wrong are not mutually exclusive.

  67. #67 chriss
    September 18, 2008

    Well you’ve sold me…see you in Toronto.

  68. #68 Anon
    September 18, 2008

    ABC News just did a story on the majority of Americans who… believe that a guardian angel has intervened in their lives.

    These are not Bronze-Age Myths. They are today’s myths.

    Good luck CFI.

  69. #69 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    jojo66

    “being erudite and being wrong are not mutually exclusive”

    I’ll take you at your word on that. When one disputes a Bright, he does so at his own peril.

  70. #70 Jim Harrison
    September 18, 2008

    About this Bronze Age business. The so-called Abrahamic religions are all of Iron Age vintage, post 1200 BCE. Why blame nice reasonable Mesopotamian idolaters for the Johnny-come-lately foolishness of some Palestinian hicks?

  71. #71 Daniel
    September 18, 2008

    Awesome video. I may have to force my roommate to watch that.

  72. #72 Planetologist
    September 18, 2008

    Yes! Thanks for posting this, PZ. I’m putting in on my blog to help boost the linkage. It’s encouraging to see a group stand firm and clear, and reject magical thinking in ALL its forms, even though the message might be unpopular. But it can’t GET popular without repetition, and persistence.

  73. #73 Travis
    September 18, 2008

    “When one disputes a Bright, he does so at his own peril.”

    And what, pray tell, does this dollop of passive-aggressive excreta mean?

    Peril of being proven wrong? Yes, evidently, in this case,
    though I submit that it depends on the nature of the dispute.

    Peril of verbal attack? That’s a pretty darn sensitive use of ‘peril’ there Max.

    Peril of physical attack? Trying to find an excuse to start down yesterday’s genocidal ramblings again are we?

    If you find posting or reading here ‘perilous’ I have a simple remedy. Stop.

  74. #74 Doug
    September 18, 2008

    This film is, unfortunately, terrible. Content-wise, I agree with everything in it. It’s presentation is awful. Everyone seems so smug, unexcited, and terrible at reading the teleprompter. When you look at the current wave of Christian propaganda outreach efforts (or, as they are called, “ministries”), they are slick and seductive. This won’t win over anyone who doesn’t already think this way; it will liekly achieve the opposite. How to solve the problem? Start with filmmaking technique! Bring out the qualities of your subject, their personalities, why they are excited about what they do. That goes a long way in convincing people to listen. Ditch the cue cards; tell me why you believe what you believe, in your own words, and with your own enthusiasm. Above all, get a filmmaker to make your film!

  75. #75 Wdro
    September 18, 2008

    Creepy.

  76. #76 Just Plain Cliff
    September 18, 2008

    Max, sorry to say that Pitirim Sorokin was an ass in the pocket of Catholicism.

  77. #77 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    Can vodka protect people?

    I hope so, I drank so much of it when I was at university. It must have done something…

  78. #78 Erica
    September 18, 2008

    Oh my gosh! Intelligence! Oh what a breath of fresh air after fuming about Palin. It brings a tear to my eye.

  79. #79 Denis Loubet
    September 18, 2008

    I agree with Doug that the film is terrible, even though I totally agree with everything in it.

    My main dislike is how they use the word science. When people hear the word science, they immediately think of lab coats and horn-rimmed glasses. The film uses it in a way that suggests that everyone should be a scientist. That if you aren’t wearing a lab coat, then you’re part of the problem.

    I think the film would be improved if the word rational was used in place of science, and science relegated to one tool in the rationalist’s tool-box. Not everyone wants to be a scientist, but everyone wants to think they’re rational. No one wants to be seen as irrational. The message this film should be selling is: If you want to be rational, join us.

  80. #80 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    ABC News just did a story on the majority of Americans who… believe that a guardian angel has intervened in their lives.

    These are not Bronze-Age Myths. They are today’s myths.

    If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig ;)

  81. #81 Sastra
    September 18, 2008

    Whateverman #56 wrote:

    I haven’t read up on this organization, but I plan to. It seems to align almost perfectly with by own values. However, I don’t see that it has anything to do with atheism…

    The Center for Inquiry is connected to the Council for Secular Humanism, which puts out the magazine Free Inquiry (it’s also connected with what used to be called CSICOP, Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal, and is now, for reasons best known to itself, CSI.)

    The values of science, reason, human rights, etc. are humanistic values. They’re concerned with and built from a rational perspective on this life and this natural universe — and are shared with many religious people who also believe in spiritual entities and realms. However, a scientific approach to understanding will lead to naturalism, not supernaturalism. There is no good evidence for spiritual entities and realms, and humanism itself doesn’t value either faith or the kind of obfuscation which allows people to slide religious beliefs into some special category.

    You can have religious humanism, and humanists who are religious, but these are secular humanists. That’s the atheist connection.

    Since the commercial includes Dawkins and Dennett, they don’t have a problem with the so-called “New Atheists” (the “Brights” aren’t officially connected to any particular organization.) I’m a bit surprised Hitchens isn’t in the video as well — he’s one of their regular columnists.

    (By the way, I doubt if the Marquis de Coiffure will have much problem with either this video or organization. It makes a case for a positive philosophy which rests on atheism. Both DJ Grothe, and CampQuest — which he uses as proper examples of how atheists should promote themselves — are with Center for Inquiry.)

  82. #82 Roy Natian
    September 18, 2008

    The official site for this video is here: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/time_for_science_and_reason.

    Glad you liked my post on Edger, PZ.

    -Roy

  83. #83 JoJo
    September 18, 2008

    Max Verret #69

    I’ll take you at your word on that. When one disputes a Bright, he does so at his own peril.

    The argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam or ipse dixit) is a logical fallacy.

  84. #84 Bob Vogel
    September 18, 2008

    Posted by: Doug | September 18, 2008 7:27 PM

    “This film is, unfortunately, terrible. Content-wise, I agree with everything in it. It’s presentation is awful. Everyone seems so smug, unexcited, and terrible at reading the teleprompter. When you look at the current wave of Christian propaganda outreach efforts (or, as they are called, “ministries”), they are slick and seductive. This won’t win over anyone who doesn’t already think this way; it will liekly achieve the opposite. How to solve the problem? Start with filmmaking technique! Bring out the qualities of your subject, their personalities, why they are excited about what they do. That goes a long way in convincing people to listen. Ditch the cue cards; tell me why you believe what you believe, in your own words, and with your own enthusiasm. Above all, get a filmmaker to make your film!”

    Perhaps, Doug, you could donate a few of your abilities toward this end? I thought it was actually pretty good. (REALLY good, in fact) I’m an old xian, lutheran-evolving-to-pentecostal-type, finally ending up seeing the beauty in reality in my search for answers – and this video surely speaks volumes to everything I know now in an incredibly succinct, deliberate way.

    Perhaps this is all about personal journey, not so much trying to win anyone over through slick video. I don’t know.

  85. #85 bk
    September 18, 2008

    Wow. No Palin bashing either! Well done@!

  86. #86 S.Scott
    September 18, 2008

    That actually brought a tear to my eye.

  87. #87 Jason
    September 18, 2008

    Great commercial, but it looks like the Christians have already prepared a response:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-NOZU2iPA8&feature=bz302

  88. #88 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    Badjuggler

    Max@33: Wha?

    Describes very accurately most of Max’s posts.

    Max, do you have any physical evidence for your god yet that we can examine and prove divine? If you keep avoiding physical proof, we must assume you are a con man.

  89. #89 Dust
    September 18, 2008

    Jason mentioned: Great commercial, but it looks like the Christians have already prepared a response:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-NOZU2iPA8&feature=bz302

    And with these fabulous lyrics: Jesus is like a Mountie; he always gets his man. He’ll zap him any way he can(!)

    It almost converted me, but being a girl…………..well,
    I just don’t think the message was for me.

    Liked the CSI video much better. :)

  90. #90 Jarrad
    September 18, 2008

    Haha – excellent. “Ding!”

  91. #91 Rey Fox
    September 18, 2008

    “These are not Bronze-Age Myths. They are today’s myths.”

    Well, I’m sure the guardian angel thing is pretty recent. A self-absorbed American twist on the old Heavenly Host.

  92. #92 Jams
    September 18, 2008

    Yeah, it made me a little weepy too. You know, in a stone-faced well suppressed kind of way.

    I think the production was fine. Sure, the cinematography was weak. It seems to have been looking for an understated production, but found the mall instead. And while the music might be a little wooish, really, what style of music hasn’t been used for woo? I can think of a few examples, but they tend toward the atonal side. Dawkins doesn’t traditionally come off well when married to an atonal sound track.

    I think it’s worth remembering that these efforts aren’t just to turn the heads of people who need convincing, but to inspire the like-minded to raise their heads.

  93. #93 milawe
    September 18, 2008

    Hey, I have an off topic request. A while back (but this year) PZ posted a short video on how the first cell might have self replicated. I am having no luck finding this clip and wonder if anyone happened to bookmark it. I’d really appreciate it if someone could give me a link. Thanks.

  94. #94 chancelikely
    September 18, 2008

    I thought the message was spot on, but damn, we need another Sagan, and right quick.

  95. #95 Colby
    September 18, 2008

    Bravo. Let’s have many many more of these! Get the message out there. Go CFI.

  96. #96 Matthew
    September 18, 2008

    Re #92:

    Dawkins doesn’t traditionally come off well when married to an atonal sound track.

    How dare you call Lalla Ward an atonal sound track!

  97. #97 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    Travis 73
    “and what pray tell does that dollop of passive-aggressive excreta mean”

    It means that when one does not show deference to his betters, there are consequences.

  98. #98 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    Max Verret

    It means that when one does not show deference to his betters, there are consequences.

    Max, then you better show deference to you betters and quit posting here Where is the physical evidence for your god? Time to put up or shut up.

  99. #99 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    jojo 83

    “argument from authority is a logical fallacy”

    But you come from a linage of authority. PZ is certainly more that a mere authority and remember: Omni agens agit sibi simile.

    It’s good to see that you keep up with your Latin; not many of the lads and lassies do that today

  100. #100 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    I know that old saw too Max. Show respect for your elders and your betters.
    Translation – Daddy and the rich daddies.
    I’ve listed the book and verse for slavery in the bible before, want it again Max, just so you can be sure you’re on the right side of the issue?

  101. #101 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    Max my boyo, do you have any physical evidence for your god we can examine and prove that divinity is there? If not, you sir, are a liar and bullshitter. Put up or shut up.

  102. #102 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    Nerd at 88

    “Do you have any evidence we can examine”

    Do you have any evidence that there is no God?

    You are asking me to falsify the unfalsifiable myth of evolution.

    I am asking you to falsify the unfalsifiable myth of God.

    Now, where are we going from there. I suggest that as Sartre might say there is “No Exit”.

  103. #103 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    Max, in science the burden of proof is always on the person making the positive claim. You claim god exists. The burden of proof is upon you to show the physical evidence or be seen as a liar and bullshitter. Do you, or do you not have the physical proof?

    The proof for evolution is in ten or hundred of thousands of scientific papers. It has been prove to a much higher rigor than your alleged god.

  104. #104 Tulse
    September 18, 2008

    Omniscopic must use Macs — I recognized all the music as material provided for podcasting in GarageBand.

  105. #105 Ichthyic
    September 18, 2008

    Do you have any evidence that there is no God?

    do you know what “burden shifting” means, maxy?

    another selectee for the killfile list.

  106. #106 JoJo
    September 18, 2008

    Max,

    Just because a guy writes something than looks impressive and pretentious doesn’t mean that it’s correct. Furthermore just because someone has a faculty position at a prestigious university doesn’t mean that he’s infallible.

    Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) was a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard. He was a first-class scientist who worked in many fields including fossil ichthyology, geology, and climate. His book describing glaciers is still considered a classic in the field. His theory of ice ages was firmly based on geography. He was a believer and advocate in polygenism, that races came from separate origins (specifically separate creations). He was an unabashed and outspoken racist, claiming to have “scientifically” proved the inferiority of the negroid race.

  107. #107 Bob
    September 18, 2008

    That’s the Paul Kurtz who emphasizes shared values with the moderately religious and won’t have anything to do with the New Atheists, right? ;)

    That might be true, I don’t know — but I took a few courses with him at SUNY Buffalo, and he wasn’t at all hesitant to rip into any believer in the classroom. For that alone, I respected the guy — and still do. His investigations of paranormal claims with Randi make for some great video…

    Bravo, Kurtz!

  108. #108 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Ichthyic, you big naughty thing, are you gonna fly again tonight? *wink*

  109. #109 Trish
    September 18, 2008

    Good grief. What does one say to something like this? It’s exhausting:

    “Before you can have a serious opinion on the matter you need to understand the logical process of natural selection and how it relates to the overall process of evolution.

    Simply, Darwin discovered several variants of a certain species of bird on the Galapagos (sp) islands that weren’t native to mainland Africa. The striking difference between the birds was beak shape. He discovered that the beak shapes were idealised to the type of foods available on the islands. He theorized that all birds had “evolved” from a single species to adapt to their particular environment. The mechanism of this “evolution” was natural selection which is basically survival of the fittest… The birds that were able to feed (with the preferable beak shape) were more likely to be in a good condidtion to survive and mate and therefore pass on hereditary traits to future generations of birds (since proven by genetics)

    Obviously not all animals have beaks so the actual passed on traits differ but the general process is the same. Obviously also genetics aren’t always passed on, there are anomolies etc.. It is a general statistical process that happens over many generations.

    Neither me nor the cop [NOTE: this was a conversation including 2 individuals who agreed] were suggesting that all “scumbags” should be killed or anything radical. We just agreed that nannying and protecting generation after generation of genetically and characteristically inferior humans weakens the overall species and in many cases the job of being a cop, a litigation crazy nation, warning signs on train tracks etc etc hinders “natural selection”

  110. #110 Pimientita
    September 18, 2008

    I found it bathetic and embarrassing

    You really should do something about that cold…

  111. #111 Trish
    September 18, 2008

    Note: the above “we” in this conversation does not include *me*.

  112. #112 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Seconding the Nerd.

    Put up or shut up Max.

    This ain’t first grade show & tell. God, angels, unicorns, demons or the devil, show me any one of em’ and I’ll believe.

  113. #113 Ichthyic
    September 18, 2008

    Ichthyic, you big naughty thing, are you gonna fly again tonight?

    already gone, honey.

    already gone.

    back sunday.

    cheers

  114. #114 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 18, 2008

    You are asking me to falsify the unfalsifiable myth of evolution.

    fail

  115. #115 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    Do you have any evidence that there is no God?

    There’s no evidence for such a being to exist. Prayers go unanswered, amputees go unhealed, it’s like as if there were no God at all…

    But that’s not the point. Do you have any evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist? If not, then perhaps that shows that it’s impossible to show an evidence of absence because it’s indistinguishable from absence of evidence. This is why anyone making a positive claim about reality needs to give positive evidence.

    So what evidence do you have to support a belief in God? And what exactly do you mean by the word God anyway?

  116. #116 fly44D
    September 18, 2008

    I agree with Doug at #74, the quality of this is barely acceptable. I love the message but Omniscopic ought to refund any money CFI gave them. Particularly Susan Jacoby and Damon Linker, wrong angles and lighting, bad makeup, Jacoby maybe not the best choice. Bad lighting and video quality for Jen Hecht and Ann Druyan. Especially for Ann Druyan, she has the passion and presence but it fails with the crappy quality. I would not like to see this broadcast outside of the CFI website. I wonder why Omniscopic even bothered to take credit at the end. Donk.

  117. #117 amphiox
    September 18, 2008

    Max Verret, concerning the falsifiability of evolution:

    One fossil rabbit from the precambrian. Zap. Evolution is falsified.

    One confirmed trait in an organism that benefits solely humans and not that organism itself. Zap. Natural selection is falsified.

    One microbe with a genetic code that uses four base pairs instead of three. Zap. Common descent is falsified.

    There are millions of other potential observations like these three that if confirmed would instantly falsify evolutionary theory.

    (BTW, you don’t need evidence to assert a null hypothesis. It is the one who makes the positive claim upon whom the onus of proof resides.)

    Next time you feel to urge to babble something, try to become a little more informed on the subject first, hmm?

  118. #118 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    You are asking me to falsify the unfalsifiable myth of evolution.

    Just because I’m a nice guy: here are some things you can falsify about evolution:
    * The fossil record – why is it progressive? Why do certain species appear in certain strata? Why do we not see humans until 200,000 years ago when we see homo erectus 1.8 million years ago?
    * Genetics – Why does it show that the last common human ancestor was arounf 140,000 years ago? Why does it show the last common ancestor with chimpanzees as 6 million years ago? Why do we see the game genes as a building block for all animal species?
    * Taxonomy? – Why do all mammals share the same bone structure? Why is it so similar to reptiles? Why is it so similar to fish? Why is a panda’s thumb cartlidge instead of bone? Why are the bones that make up our inner ear the same as the bones that make up a reptilian jaw?
    * Embryology – Why do all embryos look the same in initial gestation? Why do humans have a tail in their early form?
    * Speciation – How to you explain the observed instances of speciation?

    That should be a good starting point. All evidence of common descent, all falsifiable. Max, how can you claim evolution is a myth and unfalsifiable when you don’t know the first thing about it?

  119. #119 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Grrr… this is just the stoopid horse shit that made me doubt gawd. Where the hell was gawd on 9/11? How about when the Challenger had a ‘malfunction’?
    The tsunami, gawd was called on in all his glorious names, he made the earth and nature, couldn’t he have stopped it?
    How about Katrina and Rita? Gawd certainly was being called on during that disaster. And now Ike. Where the hell is your all knowing, all loving, merciful gawd now Max?
    Gawd makes all the plans for everyone, every minute of everyday? Nice of him to include the victims of Jeffery Dahmer. Cute Max.

  120. #120 Strider
    September 18, 2008

    Brought tears to my eyes. Seriously beautiful words.
    Stand up straight, Paul!

  121. #121 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    This just came up in the quotes section:

    Creationist critics often charge that evolution cannot be tested, and therefore cannot be viewed as a properly scientific subject at all. This claim is rhetorical nonsense. – Stephen Jay Gould

    Seemed fitting

  122. #122 windy
    September 18, 2008

    Well, I’m sure the guardian angel thing is pretty recent. A self-absorbed American twist on the old Heavenly Host.

    Nope, they are an old fixture of European culture, too… complete with kitschy old paintings and hymns.

  123. #123 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    Bye Ichthyic!

    For those that missed Ichthyic and PZ flying – woo-hoo!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at_f98qOGYO

  124. #124 Max Verret
    September 18, 2008

    “The proof is in hundreds of thousands of papers”

    Yet, the brights tell theists that they have the “God of the gaps”. After hundreds of thousands of papers and there are still a whole bunch of “gaps”. How many millions of papers and thousands of trees sacrificed before the gaps are closed.

    In the Cambian explosion where are the transitional forms in the higher taxa; there is geological evidence for stasis; the origin of higher taxa does not conform to the process of natural selection; natural selection would tend to inhibit major evolutionary changes. You see with these “gaps” one could conclude that life did not originate from a single body form but from many different ones. What processes are yet to be discovered that might show natural processes that inhibit evolution and which might explain macrostasis.

    Conclusion: the proof/disproof of evolution as we know it today is going to be in the answers that we don’t know. The skeptism over evolution is based on what we do know from those tens of thousands of papers to which you have eluded.

  125. #125 amphiox
    September 18, 2008

    One more thing:

    “God” is also not necessarily an unfalsifiable myth. So long as a single specific attribute is assigned to “god”, it becomes plenty falsifiable.

    The idea of a benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, and interventionist god is imminently falsifiable. Patricia #119 just did it.

  126. #126 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    One confirmed trait in an organism that benefits solely humans and not that organism itself. Zap. Natural selection is falsified.

    Given that we are members of the environment and we have an effect on the evolutionary arms race, couldn’t organisms develop traits that benefit us solely? How also would you account for the actions of artificial selection in regard to natural selection?

  127. #127 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    Yet, the brights tell theists that they have the “God of the gaps”. After hundreds of thousands of papers and there are still a whole bunch of “gaps”. How many millions of papers and thousands of trees sacrificed before the gaps are closed

    Max, do you know the difference between theory and complete history of life on earth? Evolution is an explanation of how life changes from one form to another, from the theory we can work out how this affected species throughout history. We have a mechanism, we have a process, from there we can put the fragments together to construct a narrative of time. It’s like saying that gravity is a myth because we don’t know how Mt Everest came about.

  128. #128 amphiox
    September 18, 2008

    re: Max Verret #124:

    I see you didn’t listen to my admonition in the last line of my post #117.

    Ah well. I didn’t expect you to be paying attention anyways.

  129. #129 Patricia
    September 19, 2008

    Max you are going to have to be more entertaining. This is just blah, blah, blah.

  130. #130 Max Verret
    September 19, 2008

    amp 125

    There are no attributes in God. That is anthropomorphism.
    God is united to himself in a union of unity. God is indivisiable – there are no parts (attributes).

    You said:
    “As long as there is a single attribute God is plenty falsifiable”. There is not a single attribute; so I guess by your own admission you are now a believer.

  131. #131 Rey Fox
    September 19, 2008

    Boy, what a pretentious twat you are, Max.

    And hey, why can’t we point to thousands upon thousands of scientific papers, fossil evidence and DNA evidence for “proof” of evolution? All we ever get as “proof” of God from the likes of you is sunsets, butterflies and cute puppies.

  132. #132 Kel
    September 19, 2008

    There are no attributes in God. That is anthropomorphism.
    God is united to himself in a union of unity. God is indivisiable – there are no parts (attributes).

    *brain explodes*

  133. #133 amphiox
    September 19, 2008

    Kel #126:

    An organism might develop a trait that benefits humans, but if it did not also derive some direct or indirect benefit to itself as a result, natural selection would act to eliminate that trait from the population. Ergo, the discovery of a trait in some organism that benefits any other organism (I just used humans as an example) but not itself in any way whatsoever, would constitute and falsification of a key prediction of the theory of natural selection.

    Artificial selection works by manipulating the environment in such a way that the trait the selector desires becomes advantageous to the target organism. For example, humans selected wheat plants that produced big, edible seeds and non-shattering stalks by planting lots of seeds from those wheat plants that produced the biggest, most edible seeds, with non-shattering stalks. In doing so, we made it so that the wheat plants with the big, edible seeds and non-shattering stalks had the most descendants of the wheat plants of that generation. Thus, having big, edible seeds and non-shattering stalks became highly advantageous traits for wheat plants to have, in the context of an environment that contained humans willing to disperse, plant and nurture (as well as eliminate competition through weeding) the seeds of those plants.

    If we are unable to successfully manipulate the environment to make the trait we desire advantageous to the target organism, then our attempt at artificial selection/domestication fails. For example, we have not been very successful in domesticating oak trees and artificially selecting for acorns of sizes more convenient to our uses, because we have been unsuccessful in competing with squirrels in dispersing acorns for the oaks. Thus it has remained more advantageous for the oaks to have acorns of a size convenient for squirrels, rather than humans, and acorns have remained that size.

  134. #134 Kel
    September 19, 2008

    Okay, I see where you are coming from now. Wouldn’t any organism that fits that criteria be a natural absurdity? Though I guess that’s the point, right?

  135. #135 Max Verret
    September 19, 2008

    Patricia 129

    I’s sorry that you have such a difficult time coming to grips with the uncertainity of academic scholarship. It’s always hard to accept that exploratory research might not, and probably won’t, take us exactly where we want to go. The road is always fraught with pitfalls.

  136. #136 amphiox
    September 19, 2008

    Max Verret:
    IF your idea of “god” has no attributes, then yes it is unfalsifiable. But that does not mean that I have to now believe in it!

    BUT a “god” with no attributes is not the only concept of “god” out there. There are any number of sources that DO claim to describe specific attributes of “god.” Several even give “god” a name. The “god” described in ALL those sources is perfectly falsifiable. And ALL those “gods” have indeed been falsified.

    Also, a “god” with no attributes is a useless god, one with no effect on the real world, indistinguishable from nothing. It’s existence or non-existence becomes a pointless question. Belief or disbelief in such a god is meaningless.

  137. #137 Kel
    September 19, 2008

    If God has no attributes, how is God distinguishable from nothing?

  138. #138 Patricia
    September 19, 2008

    What a bunch of horse shit.
    You have nothing Max.
    You try to evade proof of gawd. Won’t work here buddy. Put up or shut up. Show us your god.
    If your god is ineffable, infallible, and inerrant then why aren’t Unicorns walking the streets with his chosen children? And Dragons, Max – where are they:
    Is. 13:22
    Is. 27:1
    Rev. 12:9
    Rev. 12:7
    Rev. 20:2
    Neh. 2:13
    Let’s go Max, bust out your Unicorns and Dragons.

  139. #139 amphiox
    September 19, 2008

    Kel #134:

    Exactly. I would go so far as to argue that the existence of an organism with a trait solely beneficial to humans and in no way beneficial to itself, (say as a hypothetical example, a shrub that produced outgrowths on its leaves that had no function whatsoever for the plant, costs the plant resources to manufacture, and happened to be a perfect birth control pill for humans) would, in fact, be fair evidence in favor of intelligent design, AND it would also be evidence that a primary attribute of the designer is that it was well disposed towards humans (and pro-choice).

    Of course we have never found such a thing, despite the fact that we have an entire institute of dedicated researchers based somewhere in Seattle who are apparently painstakingly searching for just such evidence.

  140. #140 Patricia
    September 19, 2008

    Max – Ahh, I give it to you – a soft answer turneth away wrath.
    The road is always fraught with pitfalls.
    That, sir, is true.
    Curtsy. You toad.

  141. #141 Wowbagger
    September 19, 2008

    God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    What utter claptrap. You sure you can’t get a few more pointless beginning-with-’uni’ words in there, Max? How about this:

    God is united to himself in a union of unity, and lives in a unit while attending a university (studying unified field theory) during the day and a unified unitarian congregation at night. He gets there by riding a unicorn.

    How uninspired and perfectly uninviting. Methinks you need only one ‘uni-’ word, Max – unintelligible.

  142. #142 Max Verret
    September 19, 2008

    KEl 137

    “How is God distinguishable from nothing”

    I must admit that this becomes tedious at times but let me give it a try.

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    I think I might have to turn in for the night.

  143. #143 Patricia
    September 19, 2008

    I’m going to go soak my head.

  144. #144 Kel
    September 19, 2008

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    If God has no attributes, how is God distinguishable from nothing?
    Even light has attributes, if God has no attributes then God IS nothing. But of course you don’t believe God has no attributes. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, an eternal judge, creator of the universe, and so on. Those are all attributes. If God has no attributes, then God doesn’t exist. End of story.

  145. #145 God
    September 19, 2008

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    Great, so now I’m indistinguishable from everything.

    Pantheist.

    PS: I am not everything. I’m ME.

  146. #146 Jason
    September 19, 2008

    Well, in the futile hopes of lightening the mood:
    ONE MORE TIME!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-NOZU2iPA8&feature=bz302
    (gotta admit, its retarded but catchy)

  147. #147 Satan
    September 19, 2008

    I am not everything. I’m ME.

    So what am I? Chopped liver?

  148. #148 Patricia
    September 19, 2008

    *sigh* He won’t answer.
    Goodnight sweethearts!

  149. #149 God
    September 19, 2008

    So what am I? Chopped liver?

    You’re my alter ego.

    No, wait.

    You’re my altar ego.

  150. #150 Satan
    September 19, 2008

    You’re my altar ego.

    Ah, the sacrificial goat for all of your screw-ups.

    Thanks heaps.

  151. #151 Wowbagger
    September 19, 2008

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    And the gold medal for sophistry goes to…

  152. #152 windy
    September 19, 2008

    God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    Does that count as gay marriage or is it a civil union?

  153. #153 God
    September 19, 2008

    Ah, the sacrificial goat for all of your screw-ups.

    Does not every God need his scapegoat?

    Does not every dog need his chew toy?

    Does not every puppeteer need his sockpuppet?

    Does not every comedian need his straight man?

    You complete Me.

  154. #154 Tulse
    September 19, 2008

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    “Beer is better than nothing; Nothing is better than God; Beer is better than God.”

  155. #155 Satan
    September 19, 2008

    You complete Me.

    Just…. eeeeeeeeewwwwww.

  156. #156 God
    September 19, 2008

    Does that count as gay marriage or is it a civil union?

    It’s more of an anarcho-syndicalist commune, as any fool can plainly see.

    “Beer is better than nothing; Nothing is better than God; Beer is better than God.”

    On the one hand, I don’t give you hangovers.
    On the other hand, some say I am a hangover.

    *ba-dum-tish*

    Thank you! I’ll be here all eternity! Try the chopped liver!

  157. #157 melior
    September 19, 2008

    Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899):

    The civilization of this century is not the child of faith, but of unbelief–the result of free thought.

    All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the bible is simply and purely of human invention–of barbarian invention–is to read it. Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition–then read the holy bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.

  158. #158 Nicole TWN
    September 19, 2008

    >God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    Look, Max buddy–it’s not enough to string words together and have the parts of speech in the right places. There has to be some kind of underlying sense to your utterance.

  159. #159 Poll_to_Crash
    September 19, 2008

    Poll to crash!
    “Do you think creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools?”

    http://www.wwaytv3.com/do_you_think_creationism_should_be_taught_alongside_evolution_in_public_schools_0

  160. #160 Travis
    September 19, 2008

    “It means that when one does not show deference to his betters, there are consequences.”

    And you, having never met me, judge yourself are my ‘better.’
    You further decide that you have the right to judge me, which violates your own theology;

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

    It’s a good rule, Max (source notwithstanding).

    Anyhow, thanks for demonstrating that theistic humility we hear so much about.

  161. #161 negentropyeater
    September 19, 2008

    O/T

    Candidates’ Forum for Innovation & the Elections: Presidential Perspectives on Health

    Featuring:

    Jay Khosla, Health Policy Advisor for John McCain

    Dora Hughes, MD, MPH, Health Policy Advisor for Barack Obama

    http://sharp.sefora.org/candidate-forum/

  162. #162 DJ
    September 19, 2008

    Hey PZ,
    I just found this on TED talks page and thought it had some relevance to this blog entry.
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

  163. #163 wut
    September 19, 2008

    What is that tune that starts at 1:50? The guitar thing.

    The Discovery Institute uses it too.

    In fact, a LOT of these types of videos seem to use it.

    But what is it?

  164. #164 Nick Gotts
    September 19, 2008

    God is united to himself in a union of unity. – Max Verret

    Oh yeah? Well, the FSM is unitedly united to himself in a unified, unitary union of unity (using his noodly appendages). So there.

  165. #165 Matt Heath
    September 19, 2008

    I can’t wait for the fundi backlash – I’m sure they won’t let the bust of Darwin (“the secularist’s messiah”) on the table when Paul Kurtz was talking go without comment.

    Ahhh it’s Darwin! I was thinking it was curious that he had a bust of Dan Dennett.

  166. #166 chad
    September 19, 2008

    Put a few actors and rock stars into a remake of this video so it fits the mainstream more. After it is rebuilt, lets contribute and fund this as a public commercial on FOX or ABC or some mainstream channel. A quick 30 second spot.

    You let people hear the voice of reason, and reasonable people will come out of the woodwork.

  167. #167 Joshua Bowers
    September 19, 2008

    Max:

    God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    That sentence is so completely vacuous, it is utterly devoid of meaning. “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” makes more sense then what you just said.

  168. #168 Richard Harris
    September 19, 2008

    MAx Verret, as you claim to know facts about this god thing, where do you get that information from? If you provide a satisfactory, that is to say, a testable answer to that question, we would take you seriously.

    Otherwise, you’re just another religious nutjob.

  169. #169 Jeffrey
    September 19, 2008

    Wow, you come back and some things have not changed. However, I see Max is looking like a Gnostic now, and I thought he was just a dork.

    Pax Nabisco y’all

  170. #170 rdbaker43
    September 19, 2008

    I love the concept but I think the ad is pretty unexciting. Boring, really.

    What we need is a snappy ad on atheism by celebrity atheists: you know, show-biz types, the real objects of worship in the USA.

  171. #171 JoJo
    September 19, 2008

    Everything HAS being; Nothing HAS no being; God IS being.

    Platitudes have being. Nothing is not a platitude. God IS platitude.
    Shit has being; nothing has no shit, God IS shit.

    Hey, this is a neat game. Anyone can play.

  172. #172 Tony Sidaway
    September 19, 2008

    It’s always good to have Santa Claus on-side.

  173. #174 Sinthetic
    September 19, 2008

    PZ come back! I need my fix :(

  174. #175 jpf
    September 19, 2008

    Here’s something OT but related:

    “Baylor Survey Finds New Perspectives On U.S. Religious Landscape” (Baylor is a Baptist university — reputedly the largest in the world — in Waco, Texas… but of course, there can never be biases in a survey.)

    Some interesting points:

    * Most people (~2/3) who say they aren’t religious actually are, they’re just “unchurched”. Atheists only account for 4% of the US. That’s probably accurate, and I’ve pointed this out every time this comes up on here where “nonreligious” is taken to mean atheist when in fact there are a lot of mundane Christians who call themselves nonreligious (because, after all, they have a personal relationship with Jesus, not some “religion” like all those dirty heathens).

    * Megachurches are more intimate than smaller churches since they go out of their way to pander to people to make up for the accusation of being large and impersonal (Baylor states it more positively, of course).

    * Conservative religion lowers one’s credulity! It’s true! However, credulity is defined by the survey as belief in any unsupported idea other than religious ones. So belief in bigfoot makes one credulous (or superstitious, the other term they use) while belief in Heaven does not. I’ll blockquote this section in total since it’s wonderfully self-serving:

    Christianity and Superstition

    The Baylor Survey found that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases credulity, as measured by beliefs in such things as dreams, Bigfoot, UFOs, haunted houses, communicating with the dead and astrology (Ch. 15, “Credulity: Who Believes in Bigfoot”). Still, it remains widely believed that religious people are especially credulous, particularly those who identify themselves as Evangelicals, born again, Bible believers and fundamentalists. However, the ISR researchers found that conservative religious Americans are far less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal than are other Americans, with self-identified theological liberals and the irreligious far more likely than other Americans to believe. The researchers say this shows that it is not religion in general that suppresses such beliefs, but conservative religion.

    “There’s an old saying that a man who no longer believes in God is ready to believe in just about anything, and it turns out our data suggests it’s true. That is to say, religious people don’t believe this stuff, but there’s no education effect,” Stark said.

    Among other interesting findings on paranormal or occult beliefs: People who have read The Purpose-Driven Life or any book in the Left Behind series are less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal, while those who have read any book on dianetics or The Da Vinci Code are more likely to believe.

    Here’s my take: Someone whose fantasy life is overflowing with Heaven, Hell, demons, guardian angels, End Time eschatology, Jesus, God, etc. has less room in their fantasies for other unrelated things. Basically it’s like saying that a really devoted Star Trek fan is less likely to be a Star Wars fan — there’s only so much room in your parent’s basement for sci-fi collectables and so you’ve gotta specialize.

    Not to belabor the point, but any definition of “superstitious” or “credulity” that includes bigfoot — a supposed primate that, if discovered, would not really have much of a change on people’s worldviews, despite the hype — while excluding guardian angels, Heaven, and hearing the voice of God (all examples given in the survey of widely held religious beliefs), are worthless definitions since they’re gerrymandered to bring about the desired conclusion.

    Stark in the above blockquote is Dr. Rodney Stark, “Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor and co-director of the ISR”. Here are some interesting beliefs he holds (all bold mine — I would add proper links, but then my comment would trip the spambot):

    * He is of course a creationist, although he likes to be coy about it (he’s just fighting the “Darwinian Crusade” that’s trying to “enshrine Darwin’s failed attempt as an eternal truth” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Stark )…

    * But he’s not really religious! He’s an “independent Christian” (does that mean he’s “unchurched”? or will we learn he actually attends a megachurch, but makes a point to sit in the back of the amphitheater flagellating himself for having “trouble with faith”?) But don’t you dare call him an Atheist:

    Interviewer: You once wrote that you’re “not religious as that term is conventionally understood.”
    Rodney Stark: That’s true, though I’ve never been an atheist. Atheism is an active faith; it says, “I believe there is no God.” But I don’t know what I believe. I was brought up a Lutheran in Jamestown, North Dakota. I have trouble with faith. I’m not proud of this. I don’t think it makes me an intellectual. I would believe if I could, and I may be able to before it’s over. I would welcome that.

    You’d think someone leading a survey of what people actually think about religion would be more interested in how atheists actually define themselves. But we’re only 4%, so who cares.

    * He blames child rape in the Catholic Church on liberals: “Had it not been for the enormous damage done by the sexual molestation scandals (so much for experiments in adopting liberal views of sexuality), the Church would be in excellent condition.” (http://www.cesnur.org/2007/mi_stark.htm)

  175. #176 JoJo
    September 19, 2008

    Atheism is an active faith; it says, “I believe there is no God.”

    It always annoys me when someone else tells me what my opinion is.

  176. #177 Loudon is a Fool
    September 19, 2008

    Awesome ad. When normal people see it they will chuckle and think, “Awwww, the funny looking nerds are trying to socialize. Good for them.”

    But it does raise an interesting question about the root causes of atheism and the odd similarities in their looks (namely, that they are uniformly odd looking). Does atheism indirectly result from being a bit ugly and goofy looking? Or is ugly, goofy looking-ness the price of their Faustian bargain? Or is it just that a number of them are Brits?

    I favor the former theory, I think. Unable to make friends and feeling unloved by their daddies, the angry, lonely, desparate and unsocialized proto-atheist lashes out against the natural, rational order of the world and rejects the hierarchies found therein.

    So let me give a few words of advice to all you proto-atheists struggling with social acceptance out there. Ditch the facial hair, avoid sport coats made of leather, avoid turtle necks and mock turtle necks, wear sun glasses (it looks pretentious but your crazy runaway bride unblinking android eyes scare us), exercise, don’t tan but try to get out into the sun occasionally, brush your teeth and consider visiting an orthodontist, shower and wear deodorant, when wearing a tie stick to stripes, solids, and small, neat, woven patterns, and when in the presence of normal people try not to talk but instead smile (if you’ve brushed and straightened your teeth) and nod your head and try to look pleasant.

    Good luck nerds.

  177. #178 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 19, 2008

    So let me give a few words of advice to all you proto-atheists struggling with social acceptance out there. Ditch the facial hair, avoid sport coats made of leather, avoid turtle necks and mock turtle necks, wear sun glasses (it looks pretentious but your crazy runaway bride unblinking android eyes scare us), exercise, don’t tan but try to get out into the sun occasionally, brush your teeth and consider visiting an orthodontist, shower and wear deodorant, when wearing a tie stick to stripes, solids, and small, neat, woven patterns, and when in the presence of normal people try not to talk but instead smile (if you’ve brushed and straightened your teeth) and nod your head and try to look pleasant.

    So your name is Loudon?

  178. #179 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 19, 2008

    You are asking me to falsify the unfalsifiable myth of evolution.

    FOSSIL BUNNIES IN THE PRECAMBRIAN!

    That’s how thunderf00t says it in his YouTube videos. I’d accept even Silurian bunnies. Bring me one, and the theory of evolution is in deep, deep trouble.

    Summary:
    Max: “This is unfalsifiable!”
    Me: “‘Unfalsifiable’. [pause] THIS! IS! SCIENCE!!!”

    God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    That doesn’t mean anything, and you know that full well. Comments 141 and 164 have said it best.

    In the Cambian explosion where are the transitional forms in the higher taxa;

    In the explosion itself. What are Anomalocaris, Parapeytoia, Pambdelurion and their allied weirdos? Close relatives of all modern arthropods together. What are Halkieria, Wiwaxia and the other weirdos with a creeping sole? Closer relatives of molluscs, annelids and brachiopods. Do you want me to continue?

    Remember that the explosion took a bit of time. 50 million years at least.

    there is geological evidence for stasis;

    But punk eek applies to tiny scales. Episodes of stasis last at most a few tens of thousands of years.

    the origin of higher taxa does not conform to the process of natural selection;

    What? Please explain.

    natural selection would tend to inhibit major evolutionary changes.

    As long as the environment is completely stable and all possible ecological niches are filled, yes! But that’s not what the real world looks like.

    You see with these “gaps” one could conclude that life did not originate from a single body form but from many different ones.

    Then why are we all stuck with the same solution in several cases where different ones would be possible? Why is there a universal genetic code, and why are its rare exceptions so extremely similar to the universal code? Why does all life use A, C, G, T, out of dozens of possible bases? Why does all life use the same 20 amino acids in proteins, when many hundreds occur in known organisms in other functions? Why does all life use DNA, when DNA falls apart when stored in water and has to be constantly repaired? Why not use a protein backbone instead of a sugar-phosphate one? Why do the ribosomes of all known organimsms resemble each other in such detail? I could go on for an hour or two.

    I conclude you don’t know what you’re talking about and should spend a lot more time reading.

    What processes are yet to be discovered that might show natural processes that inhibit evolution and which might explain macrostasis.

    I have never seen the term “macrostasis”. Could be because there’s nothing that it would fit. You think otherwise? Show me otherwise.

    ———————

    Thank you! I’ll be here all eternity! Try the chopped liver!

    ROTFL! If not my soul, at least my day is saved. :-D

  179. #180 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 19, 2008

    Dr. Rodney Stark, “Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor and co-director of the ISR”.

    Is “Distinguished Professor” a title? Like “Hero of the Soviet Union”?

  180. #181 Nick Gotts
    September 19, 2008

    Shorter Loudon the Fool:

    “Ner-nerny-ner-ner!”

  181. #182 jpf
    September 19, 2008

    Wikipedia:

    Distinguished Professor is an honorary title at many universities for faculty who are recognized by colleagues throughout the world as leaders in their fields. At some universities governed by a board of regents, the title Regents Professor is similarly used. At other universities, the title University Professor or Distinguished University Professor is used. At Duke University, the title of James B. Duke Professor is used. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the title of Institute Professor is used.

    At some schools the title is considered to be a higher rank than (full) Professor, and at others it is considered to be a distinction within that rank.

  182. #183 StuV
    September 19, 2008

    God is united to himself in a union of unity.

    That sentence is absolute, pure Zen. Wow. I mean it, chant this to yourself a few times.

  183. #184 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 19, 2008

    I should make clear that I would not kick Max into a well if given the opportunity. He’s already in a hole — and should at long last stop digging!

    That sentence is absolute, pure Zen.

    Mu.

    Distinguished Professor is an honorary title at many universities for faculty who are recognized by colleagues throughout the world as leaders in their fields.

    Aha. So it is a title like Hero of the Soviet Union. Must be a US phenomenon.

  184. #185 AJ Hawks
    September 19, 2008

    Great video, but the guy at the end is one of those “uuumanists”. Why do the drop the H? Drives me nuts!

  185. #186 horrobin
    September 19, 2008

    The ad has a great message, but yeah, that sappy music has got to go. And it would help to have some talking heads who are a little more, um, edgier…I don’t know, wouldn’t Penn & Teller want to do something like this?

    It was kind of odd how E.O. Wilson’s office was lit like a mad scientist’s lab. I saw those two giant, shadowy ants up on his bookshelf and wanted to warn him that the Zanti Misfits had broken out of their prison ship.

  186. #187 Alma
    September 19, 2008

    Is this video “Science for Dummies”?
    I feel offended that I belong in the same category with the species to whom this video was dedicated. It’s just sad that there are people in the world who need an awakening for such a simple thing. After 100 years we will also be required to mobilize the most notable scientists just to remind us that there is no Santa or Easter bunny.
    Don’t mind me! This video just reminded me of our stupidness. I’m just human being dissapointed in the human race.

  187. #188 Nicole TWN
    September 19, 2008

    Loudon@177: 3/10. You adhere to the basic rules of spelling and grammar (well done!), but lack originality or subtlety. Please try harder.

  188. #189 brnofeathers
    September 19, 2008

    Just a heads-up –

    If, on the remote chance that I’m ever elected as king, that video is going to be mandatory viewing for every school-age kid in this country.

    Thank you for your vote.

  189. #190 Steven Seagals Genius
    September 19, 2008
  190. #191 Matt Heath
    September 20, 2008

    The ad has a great message, but yeah, that sappy music has got to go. And it would help to have some talking heads who are a little more, um, edgier…I don’t know, wouldn’t Penn & Teller want to do something like this?

    Harder-edged and without the plinky-plonky music would work better for me too, but I suspect that neither of us are the target audience of the ad. If I wanted to make an advert trying to get “The universe is awesome and science can reveal the awesomeness” in the minds of people who don’t already know it, this isn’t a bad start. People searching for something big and beautiful to fire their imaginations often reject nature itself because it seems hard-edged or dry and get sucked into cheap and nasty supernatural substitutes. And I don’t think the video being “soft and fluffy” commits the sin of dishonest framing since cold and hard aren’t essential parts of science or reason.

    It’s why Sagan was so great; he could explain the fact the real universe is more amazing than the cheap tricks of woo-woo “spirituality” for sale on Oprah. He could show how the really real universe was better than any god even to people who might be sympathetic to something like a god.

  191. #192 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 20, 2008

    Great video, but the guy at the end is one of those “uuumanists”. Why do the drop the H? Drives me nuts!

    I was very surprised to find out, over 10 years ago, that most English speakers really do go to the trouble of pronouncing [hj]. Hardly anyone else does that. It’s just too difficult. :-)

  192. #193 DebGod
    September 20, 2008

    @192:

    I always associated that with New York City: that’s a yuuge (“huge”) car, the yuuman race, yuumanism. Kurtz also says “undastanding,” New-Yorker style.

  193. #194 Kewae
    September 21, 2008

    This ad seems approachable enough for its intended demographic. Phrasing is tame, and appealing to concepts of time is appropriate. The message needs to be clearer: solutions are made by our own actions, and science is the method to realize these solutions. Like Matt was saying, the cold and hard details of science aren’t what people want/need to hear, but the significance it has to them in their everyday lives. Discourse on science needs to be met by both sides.

  194. #195 Arnosium Upinarum
    September 21, 2008

    Nothing short of fabulous!

    Refreshingly positive. Bright and open. Sensible and comforting. Simple and direct. Clear and sincere.

    No false adornments, no slimy emotional appeals, undrecked by gimmicky attempts to ‘enhance the message’. (Like that icky Deepak Chopra-laced “The SHIFT” thing that’s now raging out there. *gasp*)

    And they talk straight across AT people, on the level, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, as fellows sharing the same predicament everywhere – not down on people from some arrogant and insulting buzzard’s perch-pulpit.

    Just plain wonderful!

    How can anyone be less captivated by this honesty, integrity and elegance than the stuff offered by bible-mongers?

    What the heck is taking us so long?

    Much MUCH more, please!

    Rationality: Put more of that food on the plate. People will eat it up. They’re starving for it.

  195. #196 Arnosium Upinarum
    September 21, 2008

    Alma, #187:

    “Don’t mind me! This video just reminded me of our stupidness. I’m just human being dissapointed in the human race.”

    No, not at all. It’s alright.

    Perhaps this will ease your mind a bit…

    I’ve been sending this CFI video around to folks who enthusiastically sent me a video (actually a kind advertisement soliciting money from viewers to produce a film) under the moniker “The SHIFT” as an antidote to it’s inspidity:

    http://theshiftmovie.com/index.html

    Perversely, perhaps it will serve as a kind of an anti-antidote (maybe “restorative” would be a better way of putting it?) for your reaction to the CFI spot.

    You’ll see what i mean. Hope it doesn’t depress you even more.

    Just keep thinking that it is ok to try to do something positive. The existence of “dummies” makes it necessary too. It’s a disgusting and demeaning job, but somebody’s got to do it.

  196. #197 windy
    September 22, 2008

    I was very surprised to find out, over 10 years ago, that most English speakers really do go to the trouble of pronouncing [hj]. Hardly anyone else does that. It’s just too difficult. :-)

    Speak for yourself and the other Indo-Europeans. It’s easy when you put it inside a word: pohja, lahja, ohjat, ahjo…

  197. #198 Jeff
    September 27, 2008

    I am of two minds. While I abhor fundamentalist religion. I have an almost equal disdain for scientism.

  198. #199 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 27, 2008

    I am of two minds. While I abhor fundamentalist religion. I have an almost equal disdain for scientism.

    Oh please tell us about scientism.

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