Pharyngula

Elephants’ wings

Once upon a time, four blind men were walking in the forest, and they bumped into an elephant.

Moe was in front, and found himself holding the trunk. “It has a tentacle,” he said. “I think we have found a giant squid!”

Larry bumped into the side of the elephant. “It’s a wall,” he said, “A big, bristly wall.”

Curly, at the back, touched the tail. “It’s nothing to worry about, nothing but a piece of rope dangling in the trail.”

Eagletosh saw the interruption as an opportunity to sit in the shade beneath a tree and relax. “It is my considered opinion,” he said, “that whatever it is has feathers. Beautiful iridescent feathers of many hues.”

The first three, being of a scientifical bent, quickly collaborated and changed places, and confirmed each other’s observations; they agreed that each had been correct in the results of their investigations, except that there wasn’t a hint of feathers anywhere about, but clearly their interpretations required correction and more data. So they explored further, reporting to each other what they were finding, in order to establish a more complete picture of the obstacle in the path.

“Tracing the tentacle back, I find that it is attached to a large head with eyes, fan-shaped ears, and a mouth bearing tusks. It is not a squid, alas, but seems to be a large mammal of some sort,” said Moe.

“Quite right, Moe — I have found four thick limbs. Definitely a large tetrapod,” said Larry.

Curly seems distressed. “It’s a bit complicated and delicate back here, guys, but I have probed an interesting orifice. Since this is a children’s story, I will defer on reporting the details.”

Eagletosh yawns and stretches in the shade of a tree. “It has wings, large wings, that it may ascend into the heavens and inspire humanity. There could be no purpose to such an animal without an ability to loft a metaphor and give us something to which we might aspire.”

The other three ignore the idling philosopher, because exciting things are happening with their elephant!

“I can feel its trunk grasping the vegetation, uprooting it, and stuffing it into its mouth! It’s prehensile! Amazing!”, said Moe.

Larry presses his ear against the animal’s flank. “I can hear rumbling noises as its digestive system processes the food! It’s very loud and large.”

There is a squishy plop from the back end. “Oh, no,” says Curly, “I can smell that, and I think I should go take a bath.”

“You are all completely missing the beauty of its unfurled wings,” sneers Eagletosh, “While you tinker with pedestrian trivialities and muck about in earthy debasement, I contemplate the transcendant qualities of this noble creature. ‘Tis an angel made manifest, a symbol of the deeper meaning of life.”

“No wings, knucklehead, and no feathers, either,” says Moe.

“Philistine,” says Eagletosh. “Perhaps they are invisible, or tucked inside clever hidden pockets on the flank of the elephant, or better yet, I suspect they are quantum. You can’t prove they aren’t quantum.”

The investigations continue, in meticulous detail by the three, and in ever broader strokes of metaphorical speculation by the one. Many years later, they have accomplished much.

Moe has studied the elephant and its behavior for years, figuring out how to communicate with it and other members of the herd, working out their diet, their diseases and health, and how to get them to work alongside people. He has profited, using elephants as heavy labor in construction work, and he has also used them, unfortunately, in war. He has not figured out how to use them as an air force, however…but he is a master of elephant biology and industry.

Larry studied the elephant, but has also used his knowledge of the animal to study the other beasts in the region: giraffes and hippos and lions and even people. He is an expert in comparative anatomy and physiology, and also has come up with an interesting theory to explain the similarities and differences between these animals. He is a famous scholar of the living world.

Curly’s experiences lead him to explore the environment of the elephant, from the dung beetles that scurry after them to the leafy branches they strip from the trees. He learns how the elephant is dependent on its surroundings, and how its actions change the forest and the plains. He becomes an ecologist and conservationist, and works to protect the herds and the other elements of the biome.

Eagletosh writes books. Very influential books. Soon, many of the people who have never encountered an elephant are convinced that they all have wings. Those who have seen photos are at least persuaded that elephants have quantum wings, which just happened to be vibrating invisibly when the picture was snapped. He convinces many people that the true virtue of the elephant lies in its splendid wings — to the point that anyone who disagrees and claims that they are only terrestrial animals is betraying the beauty of the elephant.

Exasperated, Larry takes a break from writing technical treatises about mammalian anatomy, and writes a book for the lay public, The Elephant Has No Wings. While quite popular, the Eagletoshians are outraged. How dare he denigrate the volant proboscidian? Does he think it a mere mechanical mammal, mired in mud, never soaring among the stars? Has he no appreciation for the scholarship of the experts in elephant wings? Doesn’t he realize that he can’t possibly disprove the existence of wings on elephants, especially when they can be tucked so neatly into the quantum? (The question of how the original prophets of wingedness came by their information never seems to come up, or is never considered very deeply.) It was offensive to cripple the poor elephants, rendering them earthbound.

When that book was quickly followed by Moe’s The Elephant Walks and Curly’s Land of the Elephant, the elephant wing scholars were in a panic — they were being attacked by experts in elephants, who seemed to know far more about elephants than they did! Fortunately, the scientists knew little about elephant’s wings — surprising, that — and the public was steeped in favorable certainty that elephants, far away, were flapping gallantly through the sky. They also had the benefit of vast sums of money. Wealth was rarely associated with competence in matters elephantine, and tycoons were pouring cash into efforts to reconcile the virtuous wingedness of elephants with the uncomfortable reality of anatomy. Even a few scientists who ought to know better were swayed over to the side of the winged; to their credit, it was rarely because of profit, but more because they were sentimentally attached to the idea of wings. They couldn’t deny the evidence, however, and were usually observed to squirm as they invoked the mystic power of the quantum, or of fleeting, invisible wings that only appeared when no one was looking.

And there the battle stands, an ongoing argument between the blind who struggle to explore the world as it is around them, and the blind who prefer to conjure phantoms in the spaces within their skulls. I have to disappoint you, because I have no ending and no resolution, only a question.

Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, or elephants’ wings?

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    Oh ye of little faith. Soon evolution will produce the Duckophant.

  2. #2 DeafAtheist
    May 10, 2009

    I know this is unrelated to your post here, but here’s a poll for ya:

    http://aim2pleaz.newsvine.com/_news/2009/05/10/2799065-does-ghostsspirits-really-exists

  3. #3 Bronze Dog
    May 10, 2009

    Excellently written, PZ.

  4. #4 Sven DiMilo
    May 10, 2009

    This is one o’ them “metaphors,” ain’t it?

  5. #5 Lynna
    May 10, 2009

    There’s richness at Curly’s end of the elephant.

    “tucked so neatly into the quantum” LOL worthy.

  6. #6 robhoofd
    May 10, 2009

    We are all blind men and women discovering elephants on our trails, and it’s those that get covered with the droppings who are the lucky ones.

    Your best tale yet, PZ! I’m sending this one around.

    Still, you can’t disprove the wings if they’re quantum.

  7. #7 bunnycatch3r
    May 10, 2009

    Although I appreciate Moe, Larry, Curley, and Eagletosh’s perspectives I’d much rather learn about the elephant from Degas, Renoir, Monet, and Cassatt.

  8. #8 Chris Davis
    May 10, 2009

    Hmm. When I heard this tale, Curly, who was beneath the elephant, said scornfully, ‘You’re both wrong – it’s a large, pendulous, leathery bag.’

    Musta been three other philosophers.

  9. #9 Madrigalia
    May 10, 2009

    My first thought went to Stephen Colbert’s interview with Bart Ehrman, in which Colbert dismisses various contradictions with “Jesus is an elephant.” Am I right that this essay was in part inspired by that interview?

  10. #10 blf
    May 10, 2009

    I’m rather interested in what the elephant wrote up about its encounter with, and subsequent experiments on, four blind apes.

  11. #11 shamar
    May 10, 2009

    Thank you PZ :-)

    I love the story…I will definitely be saving this one.

  12. #12 Pierre
    May 10, 2009

    I just love how you write, PZ. This is such a great little fable. [Little things can be great!]

    Someone ought to make a short movie from this piece, you know. Animated, maybe?

  13. #13 Charles Vaughn
    May 10, 2009

    Worldnet Daily Exclusive:

    Popular Evolutionist calls scientists stooges

  14. #14 Glen Davidson
    May 10, 2009

    And Dembski said, how could a thing with wings not be designed? After all, planes have wings, and they’re designed.

    Then he said, if you believe in intelligent design of elephants, you can ride flying elephants. If you don’t believe in intelligent design of elephants, you don’t get to fly them.

    And that is the theology of intelligent design in a nutshell.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  15. #15 Blue Powder Monkey
    May 10, 2009

    I love the title of Larry’s book: The Elephant Has No Wings. That feels like it could become a serious meme. Can I use it? Or are you claiming copyright?

  16. #16 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Really beautiful story.

    (Just why did you spell Feagletosh “Eagletosh”?)

    Does Ghosts/Spirits Really Exists

    Yes, I believe they do exists 14%
    Heck yes, I’ve experienced paranormal activity 45%
    No, I don’t believe they exists 37%
    Not sure 4%
    Total Votes: 49

    LOLcat grammar fail.

  17. #17 Jdhuey
    May 10, 2009

    Nice allegory but where does Dumbo fit in?

  18. #18 JD
    May 10, 2009

    Sounds like a Templetosh won’t be able to give out award money for wingaphants.

  19. #19 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    He has profited, using elephants as heavy labor in construction work, and he has also used them, unfortunately, in war. He has not figured out how to use them as an air force, however?

    Had Moe been more intimate with the prophets of quantum, or even chosen to pursue a non-adversarial relationship with Eagletosh, he would have soon had his elephant air force. It’s only Moe’s stubbornly religious reliance upon the tenets of Metaphysical Naturalism that prevent Moe from obtaining a Magic Feather, and seeing an elephant fly.

  20. #20 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    WTF. So blockquotes are still indented instead of edented, except the first paragraph?

    Can someone whack the ScienceBorg webdesigners upside the head already?

    Pretty please?

    And Dembski said, how could a thing with wings not be designed? After all, planes have wings, and they’re designed.

    Thread, meet winner.

  21. #21 Kawa
    May 10, 2009

    I love this story so much. I needed a good laugh, and it’s so true.

  22. #22 Nomen Nescio
    May 10, 2009

    it seems Chris Davis was told this tale by someone who really hadn’t ever seen an elephant. ;-)

  23. #23 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 10, 2009

    I find meaning in both accounts, if only because the prospect of aerodynamic probocidians is so charming. I like it when you spin parables. The one about the wall would make a good children’s book. And, by the way, where is Shemp?

  24. #24 Ferrous Patella
    May 10, 2009

    Is PZ eligible for the OM?

  25. #25 puseaus
    May 10, 2009

    Tempelton Prize approaching from above.

  26. #26 Fiziker
    May 10, 2009

    PZ should write a children’s book. If only Dawkins’s children’s book turns out this good.

  27. #27 Brian English
    May 10, 2009

    I presume that that evil bastard, Russell Blackford, has asserted copyright over Eaglefish and so you had to coin Eagletosh?

    Nice story btw. A further question. How do Elephant wings taste when battered and deep fried?

  28. #28 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    That would be an ironic knee-slapper, wouldn’t it, FP?

  29. #29 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Nice allegory but where does Dumbo fit in?

    In making a mockery of Feagletosh, and in reality being stranger than fiction: his wings are simply the ears, they are not quantum, and they are not on his flanks.

  30. #30 Marc Abian
    May 10, 2009

    Did PZ actually write that?

  31. #31 Newfie
    May 10, 2009

    And, by the way, where is Shemp?

    He’s demigod, not part of the trinity.

  32. #32 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    Nice story btw. A further question. How do Elephant wings taste when battered and deep fried?

    Pachydermaliscious.

    * yes i know they aren’t considered pachyderms still.

  33. #33 mandrake
    May 10, 2009

    Eagletosh saw the interruption as an opportunity to sit in the shade beneath a tree and relax. “It is my considered opinion,” he said, “that whatever it is has feathers. Beautiful iridescent feathers of many hues.”
    “What are you smoking?” asked the other three. “Any why didn’t we get any?”

  34. #34 owlbear1
    May 10, 2009

    I have an invisible superman on my shoulder. Not impressed, eh? He has a really big schlong too so you better be impressed!

  35. #35 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    his wings are simply the ears, they are not quantum, and they are not on his flanks.

    Sorry DMOM, but Dumbo flaps his ears in sympathetic rhythm with his quantum wingspan. Ears can only act as ailerons, and are obviously incapable of lifting an elephant, which would require powerful invisible wings. And, of course, the feathers are all magic.

  36. #36 Patrick
    May 10, 2009

    Excellently done. I still use your “courtier’s reply” metaphor in arguments with creationists.

  37. #37 Always-a-Student
    May 10, 2009

    I just loved this story. Usually, when I realize I’m reading a metaphor on this subject, my stomach knots up. I know the ending will glorify the religious nut and give the proper comeuppance to the smug scientist. (Think: pencil dropping prof and soldier who punches prof for god.)

    Thank you for a lovely read!

  38. #38 MissPrism
    May 10, 2009

    My life will be slightly incomplete until I find an excuse to use the words “I suspect they are quantum. You can’t prove they’re not quantum.”

  39. #39 Kevin Schreck
    May 10, 2009

    This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. Thank you so much, PZ. I’ll definitely be sharing this with my friends.

  40. #40 Max
    May 10, 2009

    Man… this is going to be a classic someday.

  41. #41 Don
    May 10, 2009

    One sympathizes with the poor elephant who has been mercilessly poked, prodded and – according to Curly – probed.

  42. #42 dave
    May 10, 2009

    You forget to mention that elephant (they call ‘im “Gop” for some reason), is very ill and not very popular among his jungle mates anymore. He may have had wings once, but they’re long, long gone.

  43. #43 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    The elephant could totally have quantum wings. But the intangible, invisible wings probably flow through the air without making wind or displacing a single molecule.

    Magical, but effectively nonexistent. I guess I find the elephant more inspiring.

    By the way, is Eagletosh your answer to Ditchkins? If so: niiiice.

    I still want winged, flying elephants, for the purposes of that would be fricking awesome.

  44. #44 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    The end result: Add religion and shit and you get bullshit.

  45. #45 Falene
    May 10, 2009

    Happy Elephant!

  46. #46 Elwood Herring
    May 10, 2009

    Not quite sure what you’re getting at, PZ. Hit me over the head some more!

    Seriously, excellent analogy.

  47. #47 sasqwatch
    May 10, 2009

    Excellent parable. And less opaque than any of Jeebus’.

    I have seen elephants that fly (assisted, though not by a magic feather): the so-called Southbound pachyderm

  48. #48 'Tis Himself
    May 10, 2009

    where is Shemp?

    Curly hasn’t had his stroke yet, so there’s no need for Shemp.

  49. #49 Greg F.
    May 10, 2009

    For once, I’m at a loss for words.

    All I can say is that this is one of the best summations of the creationism/evolution debacle I’ve read so far.

  50. #50 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Sorry DMOM, but Dumbo flaps his ears in sympathetic rhythm with his quantum wingspan. Ears can only act as ailerons, and are obviously incapable of lifting an elephant, which would require powerful invisible wings. And, of course, the feathers are all magic.

    The ears are easily big enough to carry Dumbo (at least in gliding), and… your classical education leaves much to desire. The very point of the story is that the feather is completely unnecessary.

  51. #51 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    How in the world is this even sensible? Can you name a single properly scientific conclusion that someone who agrees with Eagleton’s theology would be required, on pain of contradiction, to reject? Can you name a single aesthetic aspect of the scientific enterprise he couldn’t appreciate? This is even worse than the now rampant idiotic use of the Courtier’s Reply: *originally*, it was at least quite sensible; this one is nonsense from the get-go.

  52. #52 tmaxPA
    May 10, 2009

    Wow.

    Quite an ending.

    That is nominally devastating, PZ. A future classic of atheist literature (short form).

  53. #53 DuckPhup
    May 10, 2009

    Slightly off-topic… but this looks like a good place to reprise my personal definition of Metaphysics: “The blind leading the stupid into the unknown, on a quest for the unfathomable.”

    Whenever I proffer that definition, I am inevitably confronted by someone who takes metaphysics way too seriously, and (very huffily) asks something like: “So… what does that make you, then… blind or stupid?”

    I’ve got a stock answer for that: Well… since I consider myself to be a teacher and a student… honesty compels me to admit that I am both… blind and stupid. The difference, though, is that I know that I am both blind and stupid, whereas you are oblivious to both. Since I am conscious of my blindness and stupidity, I am able to take them into account… which leaves me with something of an advantage.

    “A bad analogy is like a diagonal frog.” ~ Unknown

  54. #54 'Tis Himself
    May 10, 2009

    Actually we should be glad that elephants don’t fly. Like most herbivores, elephants produce large amounts of manure. It would be unpleasant to be underneath a pachyderm while it was dumping ballast.

  55. #55 C. M. Baxter
    May 10, 2009

    PZ, you forgot to mention Stan and Ollie who firmly accepted the no wings theory, yet also believed elephants had wings. They wrote books and went on lecture tours explaining why the two positions on elephant wings were not necessarily incompatible. Both Stan and Ollie admonished Larry not to publish Elephants Have No Wings, claiming that militant ?No Wingers? were making it more difficult to bring proponents from both sides of the controversy to some form of enlightened agreement.

  56. #56 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    The ears are easily big enough to carry Dumbo (at least in gliding), and… your classical education leaves much to desire. The very point of the story is that the feather is completely unnecessary.

    There you go again, DMOM, interpreting the tale in a rigidly materialistic secular humanist manner. What about the mystic pink elephants? Even if you do analyze the story in a way that ignores the necessity for quantum feathered wings, where is the structural support in those flappy stretched out membranes? Cartilage alone wouldn’t do it, nor are elephant ears sufficiently prehensile.

    Clearly, the point of the tale of Dumbo is about the imperative for belief. Without faith in the feather there can be no flight. Even if the feather is unnecessary, it’s the belief in the feather that is important–even in a Straussian sense, it is better that Dumbo believes in his capacity to fly than that he surrender to mere skepticism and doubt.

  57. #57 bluescat48
    May 10, 2009

    It appears that Eagletosh got his info from a mythological source, Disney’s classic “DUMBO”

  58. #58 Benjamin
    May 10, 2009

    This is great writing! Good job PZ!

  59. #59 Klimatyzacja LG
    May 10, 2009

    Good Post

  60. #60 Dr Jim
    May 10, 2009

    Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay!

  61. #61 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    Once upon a time, four blind men were walking in the forest, and they bumped into an elephant.

    I hope that the elephant was sufficiently discerning to leave Moe, Larry & Curly alone, & give a feckin’ good stomping to Eagletosh.

  62. #62 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    bunnycatch3r @ 7

    I’m Impressed by those four!

  63. #63 Capital Dan
    May 10, 2009

    Eric | May 10, 2009 3:40 PM

    How in the world is this even sensible?

    heh… You clearly must be the only one here with a brain, as it’s clear, no one else gets it… Or, doesn’t get it.

    You feel lonely?

  64. #64 sam
    May 10, 2009

    As a physicist I’d like to say: “leave us out of it”.

    Unless you can pass me elephant wings in a nice piece of Dirac notation we don’t want ‘em. Even if we did have your elephant wings they’d only be about for <10^-34 seconds – which isn’t there at all.

    Anyway we can only really model perfectly spherical winged elephants in a vacuum….

  65. #65 abelianjeff
    May 10, 2009

    Bravo!

  66. #66 Brian
    May 10, 2009

    “Quantum wings” …

    BWAH HAH HAH

  67. #67 jeff
    May 10, 2009

    Thank you, PZ, so much for posting this valuable information.

    As a child I was sunburned on several occasions and could really have benefited from the shade of the elephant’s glorious (and quantum) wings. But, alas, my education was entirely one-sided.

    In fact, this is the very first time I’ve even heard about the Elephant Controversy. But I’m darned sure gonna let my local school board know that I want my kids taught the TRUTH about elephants.

  68. #68 Rudy
    May 10, 2009

    It would be a more devastating critique of Eagleton if it actually had the remotest connection to his views. Is PZ mixing up Frank Tipler with Terry Eagleton? Where on Earth does TE every mention “quantum” anything?

    Bring us more cephalopods please.

  69. #69 PZ Myers
    May 10, 2009

    Who said anything about Terry Eagleton?

  70. #70 Richard Harris
    May 10, 2009

    Rudy, PZ’s diatribe was prompted by Stanley Fish’s review of a book by Terry Eagleton. It was a stinking crock of shit, by a religious apologist.

  71. #71 Orson Zedd
    May 10, 2009

    In The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett uses quantum as the Discworld equivalent of magic. Makes me wonder if Eagleton is from the Stolat Plains or Ankh-Morpork.

  72. #72 Patrick Q.
    May 10, 2009

    You’re missing a blind “agnostic” who will attack Larry as a “humorless” man who has made a-wingism his religion. This despite the fact that Larry’s book was filled with humor and that a careful reading shows that he holds the exact same philosophical position as the agnostic.

    Here, Matt Taibbi has provided an example to help you out.

    But this sort of thinking is exactly what most agnostics find ridiculous about religion and religious people, who seem incapable of looking at the world unless it?s through the prism of some kind of belief system. They seem to think that if one doesn?t believe in God, one must believe in something else, because to live without answers would be intolerable. And maybe that?s true of the humorless Richard Dawkins, who does seem actually to have tried to turn atheism into a kind of religion unto itself. But there are plenty of other people who are simply comfortable not knowing the answers.

    Have fun.

  73. #73 BeccaTheCyborg
    May 10, 2009

    Excellent post, PZ. Clever, yet has poop jokes. A fine balance. :)

  74. #74 Blue Suede Schubert
    May 10, 2009

    Eric @ 51: not sure about that Eagleton guy, but in
    PZ’s parable, Fiedelbaum’s theology is constructed so
    as to require no one who subscribes to it to reject any
    ‘proper scientific conclusion’. & anyone may appreciate
    science on an aesthetic basis, even if he is a devout
    follower of Fiedelbaumism.

  75. #75 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    Blue Suede Schubert, reread the last two paragraphs:

    “And there the battle stands, an *ongoing argument* between *the blind who struggle to explore the world as it is around them*, and *the blind who prefer to conjure phantoms in the spaces within their skulls*. I have to disappoint you, because I have no ending and no resolution, only a question.
    Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, *or* elephants’ wings?”

    That doesn’t strike me as an instance of the inclusive ‘or’…

  76. #76 Reginald Selkirk
    May 10, 2009

    Methinks you spelled Eagletoosh incorrectly.

  77. #77 PZ Myers
    May 10, 2009

    Yeah, you strike me as an elephants’ wings kind of guy, Eric.

  78. #78 Dr. Strangelove
    May 10, 2009

    Perhaps you should write childrens books.

  79. #79 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “Yeah, you strike me as an elephants’ wings kind of guy, Eric.”

    Only in the sense that Ken Miller, John Polkinghorne, Freeman Dyson, Owen Gingerich, Arno Penzias, etc. are ‘elephants’ wings’ guys. Which is to say, in a sense that defies the logic of your parable.

  80. #80 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    How in the world is this even sensible? Can you name a single properly scientific conclusion that someone who agrees with Eagleton’s theology would be required, on pain of contradiction, to reject?

    You’ve completely missed the point: we really cannot prove that elephants don’t have wings that are Discworld-quantum or otherwise ineffable.

    We can’t even prove (so far) that Russell’s Teapot doesn’t exist.

    Even if you do analyze the story in a way that ignores the necessity for quantum feathered wings, where is the structural support in those flappy stretched out membranes? Cartilage alone wouldn’t do it, nor are elephant ears sufficiently prehensile.

    (insert indistinct waffling about fibrocartilage, elastin, and calcified cartilage, as well as curiously hypertrophied muscles…)

    Clearly, the point of the tale of Dumbo is about the imperative for belief.

    You probably also believed the moral of The Incredibles was “if everyone is special, nobody is special”.

    No. An important scene in Dumbo is when Dumbo loses the feather and starts plummeting, Generic American Rodent tells him “you don’t need the feather, you can fly just so”, and Dumbo decides to test that hypothesis.

    Science and skepticism make another appearance, too: right in the beginning, when Generic American Rodent looks at Dumbo, compares his knowledge of anatomy to his knowledge of aerodynamics, concludes that Dumbo must be able to fly, and sets out to test that hypothesis by hook or by crook. Everyone but Dumbo knows that the “magic feather” was plucked from the nearest available random bird’s tail.

  81. #81 Dutch Delight
    May 10, 2009

    This metaphor with people feeling up an elephant was used a lot when I was a wee lad, and people tried to use it to fight the cognitive dissonance between “knowing” your religion is true, and knowing that a thousand other people also “knowing” their respective religions are true.

    The roles of the scientists in this story were casted as people of other faiths, trying to describe their gods, which were really all just aspects of the one true god which was the god of the person telling the story of course.

  82. #82 Max Fagin
    May 10, 2009

    Hmm, I sense another deity worthy to join the ranks of the FSM and the IPU. The EWIW. (Elephant With Invisible Wings)

  83. #83 Nusubito
    May 10, 2009

    Whenever I hear theists make an argument for God from quantum effects, I practically vomit. I don’t know of any word that’s misused more.

    That said, Eric, the point of this whole exercise was simply to mock Eagleton’s view that there is something more to the world (elephants wings/god/a soul/etc.) that is unobservable and unnecessary.

    The fact that quantum arguments aren’t Eagleton’s thing is also part of the joke. When you’ve changed your opponent to Eagletosh, instead of a real person, who needs to keep it consistent with real views? This is exactly what Eagleton did with Ditchkins, and is what PZ is mocking here.

    I’m really not sure how you could misunderstand this, unless you haven’t read the post on Eagleton.

  84. #84 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “You’ve completely missed the point: we really cannot prove that elephants don’t have wings that are Discworld-quantum or otherwise ineffable.”

    No, I think you’ve missed mine. The point is that the ‘or’ the story ends with doesn’t follow from the story itself.

  85. #85 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    No, I think you’ve missed mine. The point is that the ‘or’ the story ends with doesn’t follow from the story itself.

    You’re still missing the point. :-) The point is the principle of parsimony: We don’t need to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. We have no reason whatsoever to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. So why assume that elephants have ineffable wings?

    Sire, je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse.

  86. #86 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Everyone but Dumbo knows that the “magic feather” was plucked from the nearest available random bird’s tail.

    Well of course it was plucked from a random bird’s tail, the interpretation to go for if you’re willing to settle for the obvious and exoteric reading… You need to find the original story of Dumbo, by HP Blavatsky and illustrated by PDQ Ouspensky, to learn about the secret teachings concealed within the fable. As it is, the Disney version isn’t even the Disney version, as the animators, having just broken Walt’s spirit by striking and unionizing, cranked out the movie Dumbo in his absence, after getting Walt even more drunk than usual and sending him to South America to work on Saludos Amigos, so it has little to do with the original story. If you can’t be bothered to read the Blavatsky/Ouspensky classic, in the original Enochian, mind you, I can’t blamed for your secular reading that ignores the sacred flapping of the quantum winged elephant.

  87. #87 REBoho
    May 10, 2009

    Nice job framing PZ. I think you have a talent for this type of thing. Perhaps you could instruct others on communicating science and skepticism.

  88. #88 Dust
    May 10, 2009
  89. #89 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “You’re still missing the point. :-) The point is the principle of parsimony: We don’t need to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. We have no reason whatsoever to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. So why assume that elephants have ineffable wings?”

    Again, I must disagree. The point, it seems to me, is that some find life rich and meaningful by looking at the world as it is, while others have to ‘make things up’ out of whole-cloth to find meaning. The principle of parsimony is epistemic, not evaluative.

    That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X. This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    Finally, whether one needs a particular hypothesis (or explanation, etc.) depends on what you’re trying to do or understand. I agree, you don’t explicitly need any of Eagleton’s theology to conduct scientific research, but that’s not at all relevant. You don’t need to understand biology to read Shakespeare, or to understand QM to raise a child. Note, this doesn’t in any sense impugn the worth of Shakespeare, child rearing, or biology.

  90. #90 Ineffable
    May 10, 2009

    Huh???
    This story is odd. Does is have to do with Deepak Chopra and his “quantum consciousness” new agey woo?
    The “quantum wings” thing was a dead giveaway then.

  91. #91 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, you may need your imaginary deity, but we don’t. Your philosophical approaches fail every time. Just like now. If you were as smart as you think you are, you would just give up on the idea of us accepting a deity, and quit bothering us with you inane logic.

  92. #92 Dust
    May 10, 2009
  93. #93 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X.

    Of course it doesn’t, especially if you have a morbid need to believe in things for which there is no evidence.

    This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily,

    No, the Eagletons of the world lack the originality and wit to do so. They simply steal and embellish and polish the tropes most readily marketable to the credulous marks, a grift that works because “there’s a seeker born every minute” here in the newage.

    and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    So, therefore, we must conclude that “Ditchkens” is real! QED!

  94. #94 CalGeorge
    May 10, 2009

    I’ve admired Eagleton’s work – his thought is rooted in Marxism – but this new book sounds like a totally misguided effort.

    Another one bites the dust.

  95. #95 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “If you were as smart as you think you are, you would just give up on the idea of us accepting a deity, and quit bothering us with you inane logic.”

    Nerd of Redhead, if you were as smart as you think you are, you would (1) acknowledge the possibility that I may not be merely attempting to persuade you but may also enjoy discussing issues with people who disagree with me, and from whom I may learn something, and would (2) at least attempt to point out exactly where my logical errors are, as opposed to merely suggesting that they’re there.

  96. #96 RamblinDude
    May 10, 2009

    The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    Ah, good point. Most of the things that were made up arbitrarily were imagined by people who died many centuries ago, and what people like Eagleton are doing is simply apologizing for the persistent tradition of believing in such fairy tales by the unimaginative of today. Of course, being that apologetic does take some degree of imagination, so I think the parable still holds, and quite well, too.

  97. #97 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “Of course it doesn’t, especially if you have a morbid need to believe in things for which there is no evidence.”

    Ken Cope, let’s approach this obliquely: Can you provide evidence for every belief you hold?

  98. #98 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, your error is no physical evidence for your god. Philosophy with evidence is sophistry. You are a sophist. That has been explained to you several times. You would do well to remember that.

  99. #99 Jadehawk
    May 10, 2009

    You don’t need to understand biology to read Shakespeare,

    it does however help to know that fairies aren’t real, and that Shakespeare wrote stories, not The Truth(TM). And the day that idiots start wars over interpretations of Shakespeare, or insist on Teaching the Controversy that fairies are real, we WILL have to point out that there’s no such thing as fairies!!! and we’ll use science for it.

    way to compare apples and oranges.

  100. #100 DiscoveredJoys
    May 10, 2009

    …and of course some people believe in The Wrong Kind Of Wings, and others that the sacred Okapi has wings (but not the elephant), and still others that a sacred herd of bulls and cows have wings…

  101. #101 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “Eric, your error is no physical evidence for your god. Philosophy with[out] evidence is sophistry.”

    NOF, have you ever heard of a category error? Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

  102. #102 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Can you provide evidence for every belief you hold?

    I don’t have to. Among my most avid pursuits is learning where and why it was appropriate to have held any particular belief provisionally, because new evidence compels me to abandon or revise it.

    From this thread alone, Eric, I have evidence for your being an obtuse ass who has had the point of the parable explained to you in detail and in multiple ways, and you lack the gonads to revise your position in light of new evidence. Please, avail yourself of the opportunity show me that my belief about you is, in this case anyway, unfounded.

  103. #103 Paper Hand
    May 10, 2009

    Great story!

  104. #104 RamblinDude
    May 10, 2009

    And besides, who said anything about Eagleton?

  105. #105 Jadehawk
    May 10, 2009

    NOF, have you ever heard of a category error? Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    thank you for finally admitting that god doesn’t have any noticeable effect on the universe at all

  106. #106 Lotharloo
    May 10, 2009

    @Eric

    That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X. This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    There is a little detail that you are missing: we have turned the light of scientific method to the question of why people believe in X despite a lack of evidence for it. Thus, now we know, 1) there is no evidence for X 2) as a human, under certain conditions, you are biased to believe in X and finally 3) X is a vague, ambiguous and unnecessary assumption.

  107. #107 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    god (as classically conceived)

    How was that, by invisibly raping a virgin and leaving such an impression that she didn’t even know she’d had sex? In the form of a bull? A swan? So many gods, so many classic trysts…

  108. #108 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    The point is the principle of parsimony

    not exactly.

    the point of the or statement is to make clear that there are those who find happiness in exploring the world as it is, and then there are those that find happiness in making shit up as they go along.

    The problem, as usual, only comes when those who make shit up insist that it’s real.

    the problem with Eagletosh wasn’t that he made shit up, it was that “He convinces many people that the true virtue of the elephant lies in its splendid wings.”

    and thus convinces many that do indeed have wings, which they most obviously do not.

    I shouldn’t even have to say this, but since you’re arguing with fucking ERIC, of all things, it’s quite obvious that the story is a warning of the dangers of trying to convince people your made up shit is real.

    The danger being that anyone who becomes convinced of such will be in a perpetual vacuum of knowledge.

    Such is the danger of creationism. the more people who become convinced that its fantasies are reality, the more people who will never even begin to be able to contribute positively to our understanding of the real world.

    Instead, look at the contributions OTHER than what an elephant actually is, to our knowledge that the further investigations of Larry, Moe and Curly lead to. What did the imaginings of Eagletosh lead to?

    who knows what child, upon succumbing to the lies of Eagletosh, might instead have grown up to be a Larry, Moe, or even Curly?

    What would happen if you convinced your kids that Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and the Flintstones were all real, and that they could do exactly the same things as those characters?

    oh, nevermind, that’s pretty much Kent Hovind’s experiment.

  109. #109 PZ Myers
    May 10, 2009

    Asking for physical evidence for elephant wings is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

  110. #110 DDeden
    May 10, 2009

    a) elephant landing strips in jungles are hard to maintain.
    b) elephant proboscis can jet water, so obviously it can fly.
    c) if elephants can’t fly, why do they have landing gear?
    d) forest elephants are related to forest fruit bats.
    e) nanofeathers are invisible but very strong in tension.
    f) elephants can’t jump or sprint, but can fly underwater.
    g) elephants don’t need wings, winged scarabs taxi them.
    h) noah amputated their vast wings to save space aboardship.
    i) always hide one’s wings from stooges. always.
    j) the truth is in the tale … and under the tail.

  111. #111 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    god (as classically conceived)

    Sorry, how could I have so rudely misinterpreted your remark, when you were obviously referring to Eric Clapton?

  112. #112 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    NOF, have you ever heard of a category error? Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    one, it’s not even close to being a category error, and two, your analogy is meaningless.

    just like all other god-bothering tub-thumpers, your mind has been so warped you are only able to make shit up and claim it as fact.

    utterly useless, and self-defeating.

  113. #113 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Asking for physical evidence for elephant wings is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    I think we have a breakfast cereal for a marketing tie-in!

    “It’s fractally delicious!”

  114. #114 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, we get that you are a theist. Fine, we can live with that. But you need to stop trying to convince us of your belief. That is what we object too, since it sounds like you are proselytizing. So we would appreciate it if you kept your belief to yourself, like Scott Hatfield, OM. That is our point.

  115. #115 Owlmirror
    May 10, 2009

    This reminds me of something I think that scientists perhaps could emphasize more. It’s so obvious that scientists tend to miss that it even needs stating … but those who don’t know the science are so confused that they don’t realize that it is a necessary correlate of how science works:

    A scientific theory needs to be both consistent and cumulative. That is, it needs to explain all the evidence in a non-contradictory way, and it must take into account all of the previous observations that have been made.

    The modern Neo-Darwinian synthesis might have certain components changed or modified by new evidence, like some new explanation involving epigenetic factors, or a certain degree of horizontal genome transfer. But the vast amount of evidence that we have in favor of the evolutionary process is not going to go away, and it will never be the case that some new evidence will come in and force science to say “Well, we have to throw all of evolution out.” Even though Newtonian mechanics was falsified by General Relativity, Relativity still explains Newtonian kinetics by having Newtonian mechanics as a special case where velocities are very small. In the same way, anything that comes along and “falsifies” evolution will still need to explain as a special case all of the evidence that the current theory of evolution explains — and it needs to do so in an evidence-based, parsimonious, and falsifiable way, just as Relativity does for Newtonian mechanics.

    ——

    I was also reminded of another notion that I’ve had recently.

    We often say that atheism just means not believing in God. But it occurs to me that there’s more than one way to not believe.

    Infants are sometimes claimed as atheists, because they don’t believe. But it seems a bit facile to do so, because they don’t believe because they don’t know anything outside of their limited nonverbal experience. They’re also not English-speakers, or voters, or mathematicians, or good people, or evil people. It seems unfair to claim them for anything, when all they might know or do exists only in potential.

    Another type of atheism is the atheism of rebellion; of simply rejecting one’s parents religion, or the religion of one’s society. I suspect that this is what most religious people mean when they say “I used to be an atheist”. Because it’s more of an emotional response than an intellectual one, this type of atheism may indeed lead back to religion, inasmuch as some religion might bring with it a more positive emotional experience. I suspect that more than a few religions and religious schisms got their start from a similar sort of rejecting the current religious faith; certainly, all proselytizing religions include an implicit demand that one reject one’s previous religion, whatever it might be.

    But the final form of atheism is a specifically intellectual one. It is a reasoned conclusion, rather than an emotional response, although it may well start with an emotional rejection. Yet it tries to avoid emotion-based arguments themselves, seeking to specifically analyze religious claims, and rejecting them for for their inconsistency, incoherence, and inherent contradiction.

    Why should it be believed that a non-physical entity exists? Why should it be believed that this entity has attributes like knowledge, power, and goodness, when the entity never demonstrates these attributes? Why should it be believed that special exceptions should be made for this entity not demonstrating these attributes, when the only way that we do know of these attributes in the first place is from real, physical entities — people — demonstrating them?

    And after thinking of all that, it also occurred to me that there are multiple ways of believing in God.

    Young children do seem to have an instinct for animism, teleology, magical thinking, and superstition. They think that their own thoughts and emotions might affect the world around them, and the idea that there is a big bodiless thing out there somewhere whose thoughts might affect the world doesn’t seem wrong or unnatural. They don’t yet have a good grasp on what natural even means. And this tendency towards magical thinking usually persists into adulthood, especially if it is not countered with an education or upbringing that includes skepticism, analysis, critical thinking, and elimination of bias and egocentric thinking.

    On top of this already existing tendency towards magical thinking all too often comes religious indoctrination. Children, and often young adults and full adults as well, repeat and learn that which comes from those all around them. This works best in small, tight-knit communities, and it can be so thoroughly combined with general socialization and cultural conditioning that it never really occurs to them that things could be different, or that religious belief can be separated from things like morality, ethics, and social politeness.

    Something that should not be ignored for its importance to those who experience them is some vivid personal event. What skeptics would classify as being lucid dreams or mild seizures or waking hallucinations might seem, to those who have them, to be so real, immediate, and fraught with personal emotional import that it feels like a communication from outside of their own heads; a genuine revelation about the true nature of reality. They are firmly committed to thinking that they have received a message, and that the message directly implies a real message-sender.

    And then there are the mystics. Mysticism might be described as being the child’s habit of magical thinking all grown up and carefully nurtured and mentally defended against critical thinking. It is the idea that somehow there is more out there than can be found by reason, logic, and evidence. There is something outside of our universe with its physical logic and consistency, and they, the mystics, are the ones who know the real truth. Plato, of course, was the first to argue comprehensively for this type of thinking, and neo-Platonism was absorbed into much of Christian theology and philosophy.

    The mystics of the world are thus certain that if the logic of evidence-based empirical skepticism reaches the reasoned conclusion that God, as defined by religions, does not exist, then there is something wrong with the reason and logic of evidence-based empirical skepticism. They don’t know what it is, but they will often castigate those they disagree with for not being open-minded enough.

    Finally, I don’t think we can leave out general mental confusion. Believers may well argue that since they are not children, their belief is not childish — even though it is the same sort of magical thinking at its root. Or they may argue that their personal experience is valid, even if everyone else is just deluded or lying to themselves. The very idea that they should actually try to eliminate personal bias from the conclusion that the experience was real just does not occur to them. Critical thinking is something that has to be carefully worked at. Humans have a strong tendency towards egocentrism, and that very trait tends to cause them to not realize that egocentrism is something that should be reduced or eliminated before reaching conclusions.

    Anyway, I think it’s worth keeping the above ideas in mind when arguing with believers, and with non-believers.

  116. #116 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    I like to start my morning with a nice, warm, ever-unfolding bowl full of Sierpinski Gaskets. There’s a set of invisible elephant wings in every box!

  117. #117 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me[sic] may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it does follow that we therefore have no [useful] reasons as such to believe X

    fixed.

    imagination is fine, so long as you don’t confuse it with reality, or try to convince others to do so as well.

    then it becomes a weapon of mass ignorance, causing everything it touches to stagnate.

    Miller and Dyson would never substitute imagination for reality, and never have. Not once has Miller claimed his imaginations of God trump his direct observations of reality. Instead, his imagination of god has retreated further and further away in the face of what he himself has seen. IOW, he is to the point where he leaves the possibility open that elephants may, at some time and place that cannot be defined, have had wings, but he is certainly convinced they don’t NOW, and that it would be not only silly and ineffectual, but downright interfering to claim otherwise.

    YOU, OTOH, seem bound and determined to do otherwise, and convince others that it’s a legitimate and right course of action.

    IOW, you are not only being silly and ineffectual, but downright interfering.

    so, fuck off already, and let the rest of us actually work with and teach knowledge that has practical use.

  118. #118 Ray S.
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, what sort of evidence do you have for your god if it is not physical evidence? If your god leaves no physical traces in this universe whatsoever, how can it be said to interact with the universe?

  119. #119 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    Ken Cope: “From this thread alone, Eric, I have evidence for your being an obtuse ass who has had the point of the parable explained to you in detail and in multiple ways, and you lack the gonads to revise your position in light of new evidence. Please, avail yourself of the opportunity show me that my belief about you is, in this case anyway, unfounded.”

    Eric: “The point, it seems to me, is that some find life rich and meaningful by looking at the world as it is, while others have to ‘make things up’ out of whole-cloth to find meaning.”

    Ichthyic: “the point of the or statement is to make clear that there are those who find happiness in exploring the world as it is, and then there are those that find happiness in making shit up as they go along.”

    Ken Cope, is Ichthyic obtuse too?

    “Asking for physical evidence for elephant wings is akin to asking what the Mandelbrot set tastes like.”

    I agree. But that brings us to my other problem with your story (which I mentioned earlier): can you honestly say that the reasons philosophers and theologians tend to adduce for belief in god are in any sense analogous to the reasoning of ‘Eagletosh’ with respect to quantum elephant wings?

    “one, it’s not even close to being a category error, and two, your analogy is meaningless.”

    It’s not a category error to ask for physical evidence for the classical conception of god — a conception that is broader than the concept of ‘existence’ itself? That said, it is a category mistake to ask what the Mandelbrot tastes like.

    “I think we have a breakfast cereal for a marketing tie-in!
    “It’s fractally delicious!”

    That’s hilarious!

  120. #120 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Owlmirror and Ichthyic, could you at least tag each other so only one of you at a time leaves a big wet stain on the mat where Eric used to be? It’s starting to look like a Gallagher concert here outside the ring.

  121. #121 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    can you honestly say that the reasons philosophers and theologians tend to adduce for belief in god are in any sense analogous to the reasoning of ‘Eagletosh’ with respect to quantum elephant wings?

    yup.

    as evidence in support I give you the greek pantheon.

    try again?

  122. #122 Kel
    May 10, 2009

    As Nerd of Redhead says: “philosophy without evidence is sophistry”. Eric, if there is no evidence for X, then to claim X is indistinguishable from making shit up. Which is fine of course, you are well within your right to do so. But to then take X and claim that it is a part of reality is nothing more than projecting your beliefs onto the world. X is a construct of your mind, and no matter how well you dress X up it’ll still be the case.

  123. #123 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    It’s not a category error to ask for physical evidence for the classical conception of god — a conception that is broader than the concept of ‘existence’ itself?

    perhaps you should actually look up what the definition of a category error is first.

    you seem more confused than usual today.

  124. #124 Kel
    May 10, 2009

    can you honestly say that the reasons philosophers and theologians tend to adduce for belief in god are in any sense analogous to the reasoning of ‘Eagletosh’ with respect to quantum elephant wings?

    Yep, I can honestly say that. Just read Genesis, then read up on modern scientific thought. Then tell me which one has been carefully crafted through observation and reason, and which one was pulled out of someone’s arse.

  125. #125 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    That said, it is a category mistake to ask what the Mandelbrot tastes like.

    correct, but applying that as an analogy to asking for empirical evidence to support the definition of the abrahamic god as defined by scrying the scribblings of ancient middle-eastern goatherders is completely inane, and of course does NOT make the thing you incorrectly analogized to also a category error by personal fiat.

    IOW, it’s a fail, you moron.

    if you can’t do better, you won’t keep anyone’s interest.

  126. #126 JohnO
    May 10, 2009

    Love it, love it, love it.

  127. #127 Owlmirror
    May 10, 2009

    Ken Cope: When I started typing my comment, there were no comments yet on this post. It took me that long to get my thoughts in order and expressed in words, with breaks to eat and do other stuff.

    Yes, I’m slow.

  128. #128 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    When you broke the seal on your box of Sierpinski Gasket cereal, you implicitly acknowledged that the elephant wings* included in every box are invisible, which does not, in any way, compel us to provide any sort of evidence whatsoever for their existence.

    *The RDA value for invisible elephant wings has not yet been formally established, beyond rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty tacitly assented to by Vroomfondle and Majikthise, and thus cannot yet be counted as comprising any of the six impossible things Alice eats apart from a complete breakfast, although nobody can prove that it isn’t.

  129. #129 Kingasaurus
    May 10, 2009

    Eric: It’s not a category error to ask for physical evidence for the classical conception of god — a conception that is broader than the concept of ‘existence’ itself?

    What I find hilarious is the act of simply defining something in such a way that you claim that it is beyond the scope of “physical evidence.” Therefore you can get away with the bait-and-switch of considering yourself justified (or at least reasonable) to believe in the existence of this thing, and never be under the requirement to produce evidence that this thing is actually real in any meaningful sense of the word. A nice trick.

  130. #130 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Owlmirror,

    When I started typing my comment, there were no comments yet on this post.

    See, that’s what you get for thinking before you type. You miss out on all the fun, and then when you weigh in, the rest of us down in front are all glad we brought clear plastic tarps along.

  131. #131 Randomfactor
    May 10, 2009

    Asking for physical evidence for elephant wings is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    I have trouble describing the taste, but I like ‘em grilled with a bit of spicy mustard, if that helps.

    And speaking as devil’s advocate here, it *IS* possible to get down off both a duck and an elephant…

    Quack erat demonstradum…

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Yes, I’m slow.

    but thorough.

  133. #133 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    I like to get in a couple of quick nips, then don the goggles and rain coat, and sip a libation while waiting for Owlmirror to work his magic.

  134. #134 AdamK
    May 10, 2009

    The mandelbrot set tastes exactly like bacon.
    Around here we call it mandelbrotwurst.

  135. #135 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, *or* elephants’ wings?”

    That doesn’t strike me as an instance of the inclusive ‘or’…

    What do you mean, he’s asking if people put childish assumed notions of a large proverbial mammal before the pursuit of the knowledge of the animal and the proverbial Serengeti around it.

    As to my personal thoughts on that question: I find beauty in the elephant that is, and humor in the wings that are not. I find beauty in the fact that I find that beautiful, and the fact that if I couldn’t find beauty, well, I’d probably go insane. Thus it is to my advantage to see beauty.

    I find the fact that beauty has a function without a purpose to be one of the most beautiful things about the univ- I mean Serengeti.

    Or, who knows, I’m still young. Maybe I spewed out bullshit, and as I continue to search for knowledge, I’ll realize “well that was a stupid fuckin thing to say. Junior fuckin Plato over here…”

    Just because a winged elephant would epicly kick ass does not mean that an earthbound one isn’t pretty frickin neat.

  136. #136 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    I like to get in a couple of quick nips, then don the goggles and rain coat, and sip a libation while waiting for Owlmirror to work his magic.

    [passes flask back] There’s good company and some fine close-ups to be seen from the cheap seats here in the peanut gallery. Incoming!

  137. #137 Jafafa Hots
    May 10, 2009

    “Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.”

    Exactly. But you act like this means the exercise is useless. It’s not.
    If you don’t know anything about mandelbrot sets and set out to learn about them first by trying to determine their flavor, you’ll quickly learn something about mandelbrot sets. They don’t have a flavor, the very question of their flavor is nonsensical, and anyone asserting that they DO have a flavor is experiencing an characteristic not of mandelbrot sets but rather of a peculiarity of their own mind’s interpretation of them.

    Same way searching for evidence of a god will teach you that the question of the existence a god is nonsensical and a person’s experience of a god is a processing error.

  138. #138 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    Eric:

    If you had no head, how would you know there is a god?

  139. #139 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Just because a winged elephant would epicly kick ass

    bah.

    I prefers dragons meself.

  140. #140 miohippus
    May 10, 2009

    I’m off topic, but I thought you might be interested in another poll at Theos;

    http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/mainnav/the-current-debate.aspx?PageID=11&RefPageID=5

    Does the Labour Party need to re-discover faith?

    59% Yes

    41% No

    0% Don’t know

  141. #141 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    Ichthyic, let’s look at two standard sources and see what they have to say about category mistakes.

    The Oxford Guide to Philosophy:

    “The error of ascribing to something of one category a feature attributable only to another, or otherwise misrepresenting the category to which something belongs.”

    The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy:

    “The placing of an entity in the wrong category. A second use of ‘category mistake’ is to refer to the attribution to an entity of a property which that entity cannot have… Both involve misunderstandings of the natures of the things being talked about.”

    Now, my claim is that to ask for physical evidence for an immaterial entity is to place ‘immaterial entities’ in the category of ‘entities for with there could be physical evidence.’ To make this point clearer, imagine reversing it and asking for immaterial evidence for the existence of physical entities like elephants. Absurd, eh?

  142. #142 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    I prefers dragons meself.

    I would like to see this elephant (which sounds like an Aztec or Mayan monster with the description of colorful wings) fight a dragon.

    The mandelbrot set tastes exactly like bacon.

    No, it tastes like anti-bacon. I wonder if Rev remembers that conversation.

  143. #143 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    Yeah, make that ‘evidence for *which* there could be physical evidence…’

  144. #144 Josh
    May 10, 2009

    I prefers dragons meself.

    Red? Green? Blue? What kind?

  145. #145 Wowbagger, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    Looks like Eric needs reminding that, for the greater proportion of Christanity’s history the vast majority of Christians believed – as many still believe – their god would (or will) be shown to exist via physical evidence.

    It is only because the more intellectually dishonest Christians realised that, while science was discovering how everything else in the universe worked, it wasn’t coming any closer to finding any more physical evidence for their god than they’d been able to discern in the previous thousand (or so) years of hoping.

    Christians just decided to change the rules and declare that their god – who, incidentally, they worship based (in part at least) on a book full of examples of his physical interaction with the universe – was always so nebulous and intangible that it would be outside the reach of science.

  146. #146 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    Now, my claim is that to ask for physical evidence for an immaterial entity is to place ‘immaterial entities’ in the category of ‘entities for with there could be physical evidence.’

    So is saying that said immaterial entities have any effect, whatsoever, on the material world. I think that is the whole point of PZ’s parable.

    Hell, there could be invisible, immaterial, quantum wings on an elephant or such shit like that. But since they have no effect on the material, they don’t matter.

    In other words, an elephant’s invisible wings or something else along those lines is effectively nonexistent.

  147. #147 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, if your god is philosophical it you, he is non-existent nonsense to us. So quit trying to pretend you have an argument. You don’t. Believe in your god, but quit trying to push it upon us.

  148. #148 RamblinDude
    May 10, 2009

    Owlmirror,

    But the final form of atheism is a specifically intellectual one. It is a reasoned conclusion, rather than an emotional response, although it may well start with an emotional rejection. Yet it tries to avoid emotion-based arguments themselves, seeking to specifically analyze religious claims, and rejecting them for for their inconsistency, incoherence, and inherent contradiction.

    I would yet add a slightly altered form of atheism. It is in the same camp as the intellectual atheist (they draw water from the same nearby creek), but it?s a heady mix of emotional and intellectual realization that isn?t necessarily arrived at by logic per se. It is the atheist?who perhaps grows up with superstition?who looks at the rituals/beliefs/trappings/icons/emotional involvement of religion and says, ?Wait a minute, this is all bullshit!? It?s an ?Aha!? moment arrived at by clearly perceiving the mechanics of the very human mental process in which people try to find psychological security in constructs created solely by thought. It?s the ability to tell when people are doing this, when they are less interested in getting to the truth and more interested in believing things.

    This perception is, of course, reinforced by solid reasoning based on the continuing lack of evidence for said bullshit beliefs, but I would say it is a perception that is, initially, more intuitive than well-reasoned. Or something like that.

    What I mean is, science supports the intuitive conclusion that the deities are imaginary, but the original epiphany comes about when one is perceptive enough to realize that ?Hey, you?re making shit up and living in a made-up world!?

  149. #149 Edward Lark
    May 10, 2009

    Let me second (third, fifth, eleventieth?) the idea that something like this would make an excellent children’s book. I think you have a talent for these whimsical “morality tales.”

  150. #150 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “but quit trying to push it upon us.”

    Where have I ever done that? Believe what you want. I only take issue with misrepresentations of theism and atheism, not with your atheism.

  151. #151 David L
    May 10, 2009

    “Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty . . .?”

    In the immensity of geologic time, the vastness of the cosmos, the mystery of existence without the need to posit a creator, the awareness that the cosmos examines itself through its human primate minds . . .

    Meaning, joy, richness, beauty and awe.

  152. #152 2 cents
    May 10, 2009

    Mandelbrot sets taste like almond bread, of course! That’s what mandelbrot is in German. A good accompaniment with bacon too.

  153. #153 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Where have I ever done that?

    ROFLMAO!

    man, that is one serious case of denial you got there.

  154. #154 Stephen Wells
    May 10, 2009

    eric, are you willing to specify that your “god” has _nothing in common_ with the entity described as “God” in the Bible? I ask because that entity is supposed to have left a smoking trail of physical evidence across the world, and thus clearly can’t be the immaterial imaginary friend you claim is really “god”.

  155. #155 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Where have I ever done that? Believe what you want. I only take issue with misrepresentations of theism and atheism, not with your atheism.

    No, you use every perceived opportunity to push your invisible vacuous deity. Your idea of philosophy fails again and again for everybody except you. Lose the attitude that you know more than us. Quit pushing your idea of god upon us. Then we won’t complain.

  156. #156 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “man, that is one serious case of denial you got there.”

    Let’s see if your commitment to evidence is mere lip service: quote a single line from me, from any thread, which could be characterized as my trying to push theistic belief on anyone. I guarantee you’ll do as poorly here as you did with your failed attempt to criticize my attribution of a category mistake to NoR’s question.

  157. #157 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    Eric @ 143

    Your lack of a physical head would be evidence enough that there is no imaginary god, since that is where the idea is born and germinated into the insanity it is now.

  158. #158 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    In other words, an elephant’s invisible wings or something else along those lines is effectively nonexistent.

    An elephant’s invisible wings are as effectively nonexistent as any evidence of intellectual dishonesty on PZ’s part, despite Eric’s ill-founded allegations. Eric tried to claim that PZ putting words about the quantum in the mouth of a character named Eagletosh was wrong, because some non-fictional character named Feebletoad, or Feetlebaum, or Eagleton, had not really appeared to have anything much to say one way or another about the quantum. It has already been pointed out that an imaginary character named Ditchkins created by the non-fictional Feebleload character, whom Eric seems to so admire, can be safely made an object of ridicule by Beatlestones, even though the positions “Ditchkens” is used to embody holds no positions that any actual person we’re meant to be reminded of is actually on record as espousing. Is one strawbeing less honest than another?

  159. #159 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Red? Green? Blue? What kind?

    Are you restricting it to the world of DnD, or all mythology?

    if DnD, I have to go with the obsidian dragon

    over all mythology, I tend towards liking the oriental dragons more; history is much more rich and complex.

    typically also like the pictoral depictions more, too:

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=oriental+dragon+pictures&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=SGkHSsXRIqH4tgP5uuX7AQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=1&ct=title

    much more interesting than flying elephants.

  160. #160 Reinis I.
    May 10, 2009

    Congo rats, this is a good one.

  161. #161 TheBiologista
    May 10, 2009

    I like it. A nice adaptation of the old Jainist story. Christianity never came up with philosophy like that. Hell, they didn’t even do the Golden Rule first.

  162. #162 Wowbagger, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Believe what you want. I only take issue with misrepresentations of theism and atheism, not with your atheism.

    How can one ‘misrepresent’ theism? It’s like trying to argue that someone is ‘misrepresenting’ unicorns by claiming they have green eyes. When you believe in something entirely unsupported by evidence you don’t have any ground to stand on when attempting to define what it is or isn’t.

    You claim belief in a god for which there exists no known quantities – only presumed, assumed and speculated ones. Until you can provide some evidence for why you believe what you believe you have no right to say that someone else’s definition is wrong.

  163. #163 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, there is no reason to posit god for anything, especially only a philosophical one. Vaporware in the extreme. If it is just personal, you would shut up about our logic. So you set my BS detector off since you won’t shut up about it. Why must you continue to push the idea of your vacuous philosophical god? Especially, since this is a site devoted to science, and science requires physical evidence?

  164. #164 Dust
    May 10, 2009

    The Mandelbrot Set tastes like…………bacon!

  165. #165 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “Lose the attitude that you know more than us.”

    ‘We’re all ignorant, only in different areas.’ You know more than I do about many things, no doubt; isn’t it possible that I know more than you do about some things? How many philosophy courses have you taken? How many books and journal articles have you read in the area of philosophy of religion? I don’t come in here and debate scientific issues because most of you know far more than I do in those areas. Not only that, but I doubt there’s much, if anything, we disagree about scientifically.

  166. #166 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Eric asked for evidence that he is pushing a specific theistic viewpoint:

    a conception that is broader than the concept of ‘existence’ itself?

    done.

    shall we continue?

  167. #167 IvanM
    May 10, 2009

    …akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    You’ve never had Mandelbr-Os for breakfast?!? You’re missing out– they’re fractally delicious!

    (Ken Cope beat me to it, but I had to add a name for the cereal.)

  168. #168 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    isn’t it possible that I know more than you do about some things?

    still waiting for any evidence of that.

    how long you been posting here now?

  169. #169 Wowbagger, OM
    May 10, 2009

    You know more than I do about many things, no doubt; isn’t it possible that I know more than you do about some things? How many philosophy courses have you taken? How many books and journal articles have you read in the area of philosophy of religion?

    Yeah, Nerd – how can you say that angels don’t exist when you haven’t even bothered to read up on what colour tap shoes they wear while they’re dancing away on the head of that pin?

  170. #170 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Vaporware in the extreme. Ah, but vaporware at least exists in potential. Eric’s god-and-phony show is, at best, epistemological hand-waving.

  171. #171 zpmorgan
    May 10, 2009

    This doesn’t explain how octocats can fly without wings.

  172. #172 illustrator
    May 10, 2009

    And when will the fully illustrated children’s book be coming out?

    Good story.

  173. #173 IvanM
    May 10, 2009
  174. #174 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    Red? Green? Blue? What kind?

    Dusky brown with tinges of dark green. Scales that are hard but light, like carbon fiber. Hooked, sinewous claws. The size of a midsized SUV with a 70 ft wingspan. A powerful jaw with a wicked curve toward the front. And horns! Sharp, nasty horns.

    Oh, yeah. Watch out, Dumbo! Quantum Dragon has your name down.

  175. #175 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Not only that, but I doubt there’s much, if anything, we disagree about scientifically.

    Then answer me this:

    How is the concept of the abrahamic god useful in scientific endeavor?

    see, this is where we differ from you. This is where science differs from you. It’s not even at the specifics level, it’s far, far deeper than that.

    It’s like you’re thinking somehow we differ on the description of trees, when actually you are missing the whole fucking forest.

  176. #176 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2009

    Now, my claim is that to ask for physical evidence for an immaterial entity is to place ‘immaterial entities’ in the category of ‘entities for with there could be physical evidence.’ – Eric

    Your claim is a bunch of crap, and very obviously so. Emotions, minds, numbers, social norms are all immaterial entities for which there is abundant physical evidence.

  177. #177 Wowbagger, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric’s arguments always make me think of that guy in Mystery Men who can turn himself invisible – but only when no-one’s looking…

  178. #178 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    Eric @ 165

    Why would you agree or disagree about scientific matters when your imaginary god directs all that there is to know for you? Your god should be ruling your life, not science matters that oppose your beliefs.

  179. #179 maddogdelta
    May 10, 2009

    bah!

    I’m more in favor of Buffalo wings

  180. #180 exiled
    May 10, 2009

    I find beauty in the simple replicating molecule that has built a giant elephant body and brain in order to more effectively replicate itself.

  181. #181 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    The principle of parsimony is epistemic, not evaluative.

    What do you mean by “evaluative”? And what do you mean by “meaning”?

    That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X.

    What else, personal experience?

    Finally, whether one needs a particular hypothesis (or explanation, etc.) depends on what you’re trying to do or understand.

    Fine, but from that it does not follow that every hypothesis is needed to explain something.

    let’s approach this obliquely: Can you provide evidence for every belief you hold?

    I can provide either evidence or parsimony or both for every belief I hold.

    (Maybe you’ll find I hold shockingly few beliefs, but that’s neither certain nor necessary.)

    This story is odd. Does is have to do with Deepak Chopra and his “quantum consciousness” new agey woo?

    Not really. Much more with the recent Eagleton and Fish threads.

    Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    What other kind of evidence is there? Personal experience (which is difficult to distinguish from hallucination and stuff; see also comment 115)? Logic (Gaunilo’s Island)?

    See, we want you to explain how we can distinguish God from the dragon in Sagan’s garage and from the Discworld-quantum wings of an elephant.

    As to what the Mandelbrot set tastes like ? er, like almond bread of course, whatever that is. After all, that’s what its name means! (Only bacon tastes like bacon, heretics.)

    can you honestly say that the reasons philosophers and theologians tend to adduce for belief in god are in any sense analogous to the reasoning of ‘Eagletosh’ with respect to quantum elephant wings?

    Yes, I think they’re all analogous, except for those that are arguments from ignorance (I’ve read a recent book by Hans Küng on science and religion that is majorly disappointing in that latter respect). Are there any reasons you think I have overlooked?

  182. #182 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2009

    Clarification: it is the claim that it is a “category mistake” to ask for physical; evidence of an immaterial entity is a bunch of crap, and very obviously so.

    I enjoy discussions with those I disagree with from whom I can learn something too. Unfortunately, you don’t appear to belong to that category.

  183. #183 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, without physical evidence, your god doesn’t exist for a majority of us. What part of that statement don’t you understand? If necessary, I can teach in words of one syllable or less. Don’t like my attitude? Lose yours. You are no smarter than the rest of us here, as we show you time an time again. You have tried repeatedly and failed to convince us you are right. Just give it up.

  184. #184 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “How is the concept of the abrahamic god useful in scientific endeavor?”

    You’ve lost all credibility with me at post #166 (not that you had much before that), but… See post #89 where I wrote, “I agree, you don’t explicitly need any of Eagleton’s theology to conduct scientific research, but that’s not at all relevant. You don’t need to understand biology to read Shakespeare, or to understand QM to raise a child. Note, this doesn’t in any sense impugn the worth of Shakespeare, child rearing, or biology.”

    “Eric tried to claim that PZ putting words about the quantum in the mouth of a character named Eagletosh was wrong, because some non-fictional character named Feebletoad, or Feetlebaum, or Eagleton, had not really appeared to have anything much to say one way or another about the quantum.”

    I said no such thing.

  185. #185 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    Eric;
    I don’t think you would want to be dead. There’s no future in it. No imaginary god waiting for you; nothing. And you will never know.

  186. #186 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “Emotions, minds, numbers, social norms are all immaterial entities for which there is abundant physical evidence.”

    Let’s stick to a specific entity. In what sense are you claiming that numbers are immaterial? After you clarify that, provide me with *physical evidence* for a realist position about numbers.

  187. #187 Uncle Glenny
    May 10, 2009

    were swayed over to the side of the winged

    Too many liberal blogs: I read this the first time as “… side of the wingtarded.”

    Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, or elephants’ wings?

    Ironically, largely in religiously-inspired classical music. (And not just the Bach cantata where the pope is called the demon from Rome.)

    Or vodka.

    And bacon.

  188. #188 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    I agree, you don’t explicitly need any of Eagleton’s theology to conduct scientific research, but that’s not at all relevant.

    yes, THIS part IS relevant. You not only DON’T need Eagleton’s, or anyone’s, theology to conduct research, it’s actually an impediment to it. That wasn’t your challenge, though. This was your challenge:

    “Can you name a single properly scientific conclusion that someone who agrees with Eagleton’s theology would be required, on pain of contradiction, to reject?”

    and we have been painstakingly since explaining to you exactly why your question is not only tangential to PZ’s thesis (which you still seem to be misinterpreting), but also why theology itself is in conflict.

    However this part you add here:

    You don’t need to understand biology to read Shakespeare, or to understand QM to raise a child. Note, this doesn’t in any sense impugn the worth of Shakespeare, child rearing, or biology.

    is entirely irrelevant.

    You challenged PZ conclusion, and we are pointing out where he is correct, and you are misinformed.

    It’s quite simple really.

    you tapdancing all around it isn’t helping your case.

  189. #189 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    I said no such thing.

    and PZ never used the name “eagleton”.

  190. #190 Lynna
    May 10, 2009

    “Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.”

    Ah-ha, an Eagletonian metaphor. The student of the flailing master?

  191. #191 Holbach
    May 10, 2009

    Eric

    Here lies Eric in his grave, all dressed up with no place to go.
    I’m trying to spare you the agony and ennui of long drawn out repartee with clipped and quipped remarks to prove to you that your beliefs are not worth lengthy rebuttals.
    You only have to show us your god for proof that you can back up bullshit with reality.

  192. #192 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    “Eric tried to claim that PZ putting words about the quantum in the mouth of a character named Eagletosh was wrong, because some non-fictional character named Feebletoad, or Feetlebaum, or Eagleton, had not really appeared to have anything much to say one way or another about the quantum.”

    I said no such thing.

    @51, and this @89:

    That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X. This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    If you’re going to make shit up, it’s generally a good idea not to leave a record behind when it becomes convenient to change your story in mid-stream. Can you even keep track of what is that you’re arguing for? You might have been more successful if all you were trying to achieve was the automatic gainsaying of what the rest of us post, but don’t be surprised at all the volunteers offering free getting hit on the head lessons.

  193. #193 maddogdelta
    May 10, 2009

    @64

    As a physicist I’d like to say: “leave us out of it”.

    Unless you can pass me elephant wings in a nice piece of Dirac notation we don’t want ‘em. Even if we did have your elephant wings they’d only be about for

    In another forum, I had an interesting “conversation” with a nutjob who went on and on about “quantum” this and “quantum” that, Rupert Sheldrake, Depak Chopra and a whole bunch of other loony tune stuff.

    Finally, I posted the Schrodinger equation and told him to either solve it for a hydrogen atom or STFU.

    He stopped bleating about quantum stuff after that.

    // physics major, not physicist..

  194. #194 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Gah! So much traffic! I want to go to bed here!

    god-and-phony show

    Priceless.

  195. #195 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    “Can you name a single properly scientific conclusion that someone who agrees with Eagleton’s theology would be required, on pain of contradiction, to reject?”

    Er, wait…Eagleton has a discernible theology? I agree with Taibbi, you can try and try to discern Eagleton’s theology and just come away with frustration.

  196. #196 Wowbagger, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Let’s stick to a specific entity. In what sense are you claiming that numbers are immaterial? After you clarify that, provide me with *physical evidence* for a realist position about numbers.

    Oh, goody. Now we get into the argument that goes along the lines of ‘We can conceive of immaterial things that aren’t god; ergo, the specific god of the broader Judeo-Christian religion and everything pertaining to it must exist.’

    <sarcasm>No, that’s not much of a leap.</sarcasm>

    I can conceive of a magic watermelon that does Tom Waits covers in a German accent. What does that mean?

  197. #197 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    If you’re going to make shit up, it’s generally a good idea not to leave a record behind when it becomes convenient to change your story in mid-stream. Can you even keep track of what is that you’re arguing for?

    answer:

    no.

    conclusion:

    troll.

  198. #198 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Here lies Eric in his grave, all dressed up with no place to go.

    Hac sunt in fossa
    Bedae Venerabilis ossa.

    Finally, I posted the Schrodinger equation and told him to either solve it for a hydrogen atom or STFU.

    He stopped bleating about quantum stuff after that.

    B-)

  199. #199 Eric
    May 10, 2009

    “If you’re going to make shit up, it’s generally a good idea not to leave a record behind when it becomes convenient to change your story in mid-stream. Can you even keep track of what is that you’re arguing for?”

    Cope, you’re the one making sh*t up. You claimed that I criticized PZ for suggesting that Eagleton had referred to quantum.

    Cope: “Eric tried to claim that PZ putting words about the quantum in the mouth of a character named Eagletosh was wrong, because some non-fictional character named Feebletoad, or Feetlebaum, or Eagleton, had not really appeared to have anything much to say one way or another about the quantum.”

    To support this, you presented a quote that in no way supports your claim.

    “That aside, I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X. This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.”

    I say nothing about ‘quantum’ here. However, if you look at post #68 by Rudy, you’ll see an explicit complaint that Eagleton hadn’t mentioned quantum:

    “It would be a more devastating critique of Eagleton if it actually had the remotest connection to his views. Is PZ mixing up Frank Tipler with Terry Eagleton? Where on Earth does TE every mention “quantum” anything?”

    You’re the one who lost track of the argument (as usual), not me.

  200. #200 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    So it’s true: all paragraphs of a blockquote except the first are still indented.

    PZ, please raise a stink in the ScienceBlogs web design department.

    The new layout is the stupidest idea since Austria’s completely unqualified science minister, Johannes Hahn, decided that Austria would quit CERN and pump the 16 million ? per year into the budget hole instead (or into the hilarious fighter planes, who knows).

  201. #201 echidna
    May 10, 2009

    The Mandelbrot Set tastes like…………bacon!

    Much as I love bacon, it really tastes of almond bread…..

  202. #202 Russell Blackford
    May 10, 2009

    Copyright in “Eaglefish” belongs to Ophelia Benson – I picked it up from her.

  203. #203 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2009

    Eric@186,
    Numbers are immaterial in the sense that they are do not have a spatio-temporal location, or any physical properties. However, they do have non-physical properties, such as being prime or composite, independent of our beliefs or wishes. Hence they are in a readily intelligible sense, real.

  204. #204 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Where on Earth does TE every mention “quantum” anything?

    and where does PZ mention eagleton?

    see, even, #69.

    *yawn*

    you’re making me sleepy, Eric.

    time for something more productive than watching trolls flail.

  205. #205 kamaka
    May 10, 2009

    Hac sunt in fossa
    Bedae Venerabilis ossa.

    Ok, polyglot guy, you got my attention. I lost my translation dictionary for that language, whatever language that might be.

    How about a translation?

    Korero tangata Maori koe?

  206. #206 Lynna
    May 10, 2009

    #195 was me. Forgot to sign in. Parsimony. Bacon.

  207. #207 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2009

    @203 …and we can find physical evidence that particular numbers have specific non-physical properties. For example take n cubical blocks of the same size: if you can arrange them in a rectangle of width greater than one block, n is composite; if you can’t it’s a prime.

  208. #208 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Oh dear me, did I mix up one troll’s droppings with another troll’s fewmets? You still accused PZ of intellectual dishonesty for creating a strawtheist and in your non-denial denial of my accurate description of your actions, all you’ve offered is the fact that I had not quoted you in the midst of my barrage of rotten vegetables hurled in your general direction. So, as if anybody cares, I’m just curious if you can make a positive claim. What are you arguing for? What can you offer in support of your conclusion? So far as I can tell, you’re here to make everybody else look ten times smarter just by virtue of not being you.

  209. #209 GMacs
    May 10, 2009

    Kamaka,

    It’s Latin. These are in ..?.. something..

    #207
    Simple, but made from the finest grade of Win.

  210. #210 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    You’re the one who lost track of the argument (as usual), not me.

    Fine. Could you then answer my questions instead? :-)

  211. #211 kamaka
    May 10, 2009

    It’s Latin. These are in ..?.. something..

    Very helpful, thanks GMacs

  212. #212 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Ok, polyglot guy, you got my attention.

    Seriously postclassical Latin: “In this ditch are / the bones of the Venerable Bede.” Allegedly that’s what it really says on his grave. Sort of contradicts the whole “venerable” thing and sounds more like… ka ngaro i te ngaro a te moa, right? (Does a macron belong there anywhere?)

  213. #213 Echidna
    May 10, 2009

    Eric said:

    How many philosophy courses have you taken?

    What has that got to do with the price of fish in China? The philosphical argument here is that without evidence, rhetoric is at best a fairy story, at worst a con job. Anybody can make stuff up, and some people do just that. Worse, the made up stuff starts to propagate throughout a community, distorting the community’s perception of reality.

    Eric, the only way you can make headway in this argument is to present evidence that your particular god, which looks like a myth to us, is real.

    If you can’t produce evidence that the myth is real, it remains at the status of a myth. You can’t make a myth real by saying or believing that it might be real. You need some evidence in the real world. Are you trying to argue, philosophically of course, that believing in fairies makes them real?

  214. #214 Buccephalus
    May 10, 2009

    And yet, it flies.

  215. #215 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Are you trying to argue, philosophically of course, that believing in fairies makes them real?

    See, this game comes up often in threads cluttered with Eric’s pribbling. We keep assuming that there must be some point other than Eric’s pointlessness, so we keep playing guessing games about what it is that it seems he must be getting at, and we don’t even get any old Harry Nilsson songs for our troubles. Eric’s deniability is not plausible.

  216. #216 kamaka
    May 10, 2009

    ka ngaro i te ngaro a te moa, right?

    Hahaha, Totally Busted!! Yah, close enough to count.

    I couldn’t have written that sentence, but I can read it.

    Just how many languages do you know?

    N? Maka &lsquoĀ

  217. #217 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    @214,
    De Chelonian Mobile.

  218. #218 ngong
    May 10, 2009

    And then there are the mystics. Mysticism might be described as being the child’s habit of magical thinking all grown up and carefully nurtured and mentally defended against critical thinking. It is the idea that somehow there is more out there than can be found by reason, logic, and evidence.

    Problem is, we’re intimately stuck with this often irrational, unpredictable, difficult-to-understand thing called “mind”. Is it rational to abandon the quest for self-knowledge simply because the data is difficult to crunch? Is it inherently deluded to fill in the gaps of self-understanding with a working hypothesis? Is meditative tinkering worthless because our ordinary state of consciousness is clearly optimal?

  219. #219 Brian English
    May 10, 2009

    Copyright in “Eaglefish” belongs to Ophelia Benson – I picked it up from her. You have too many scruples Dr. Dr. :)

  220. #220 Rudy
    May 10, 2009

    Eric gets a zillion posts telling him that his sky god is imaginary b.s., along with a zillion posts telling him not to push his theism on people.

    I guess it’s not technically projection if the two sets of posters don’t intersect… it’s projection on the part of the Collective Mind That is Pharyngula.

    (And, while it’s cute for PZ to jump in and pretend he wasn’t talking about Eagleton, it makes it hard to take this forum seriously. Does PZ just want to preach to the converted? Is this just the PZ Myers fan site?)

  221. #221 Pablo
    May 10, 2009

    Has anyone considered the fact that, if you believe the elephant has wings, then he will fly you over to Gumdrop Land when you die? He won’t fly you there if you don’t believe, so I say, hedge your bets and believe in wings. It doesn’t cost you anything if you are wrong, but just imagine the gain if you are right! Eternal gumdrops! Yum!

    (all I ask is that it is known as Pablo’s Wager in the official encyclical)

  222. #222 SinSeeker
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, I can empathise with what (I think) you?re saying up to a point. I was corrupted in my youth by reading lots of stuff about zen and have always liked the idea of obtaining sudden insight into the nature of reality through personal empirical study of one?s own consciousness. So in that sense I can empathise with your position about some explanation of reality / deity being somehow beyond ?existence.?

    However where theists lose me is that, after saying how a diety is beyond understanding, they immediately attribute him (!) with a whole lotta attributes, such as omniscience, compassion, wings, and a dislike of just about everything including foreskins, pork (hmmm pork ?.) praying in the wrong direction, same sex marriage etc. A proactive generally and accurately described as “making shit up.”

    The thing I?ve always liked about the stories of zen masters is, if someone had the effrontery to actually try and describe their experience, at the least they got a good verbal bashing and at best a solid whack over the head with a large stick. If Eagletosh had been fortunate enough to have this happen to him early in life, it might have avoided a lot of unnecessary bloodshed in the name of Eagletoshianty or Eagletoshlam.

  223. #223 Phoesune
    May 10, 2009

    - Eagletosh saw the interruption as an opportunity to sit in the shade beneath a tree and relax. “It is my considered opinion,” he said, “that whatever it is has feathers. Beautiful iridescent feathers of many hues.”

    I was expecting this:

    Eagletosh saw the interruption as an opportunity to sit in the shade beneath a tree and relax. “It is my considered opinion,” he said, “that whatever it is, we should get inside because its raining pretty hard from where I am sitting”

  224. #224 PZ Myers
    May 10, 2009

    Except I’m not talking about Eagleton. I’m talking about a general attitude among many defenders of theism.

    I could have called him Colleagishins, I guess. Doesn’t matter. You’re getting too hung up on a name.

  225. #225 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    @220

    Aw how cute! Eric has a wannabe.

    I’ll try to break it down for you, Rudy. “Ditchkins” is a straw atheist, and “Eagletosh” is a straw theist. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is more or less accidental, but entirely non-actionable.

  226. #226 'Tis Himself
    May 10, 2009

    Rudy #220

    And, while it’s cute for PZ to jump in and pretend he wasn’t talking about Eagleton, it makes it hard to take this forum seriously.

    Think of Eagletosh as a generic theist apologist if that makes life easier for you.

  227. #227 uncle frogy
    May 10, 2009

    @eric
    “The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily,”

    of course not it comes from the only place it can come from the deep psychology of man. The images that speak to our emotions, to the experience of being alive here know, out of memory, out of the mind. They All come from within and that is where they have any meaning at all.

    I have heard other stories about the blind men and the elephant before. The point is that we are all blind (as was said above) and see, experience this thing called living from our own point of view and like PZ’s blind men only see a part of the whole. PZ’s point of departure is the collaboration of the three to combine what they see to form a more complete understanding (science) of what they have encountered. The one who used only his mind to understand points out his foolishness and arrogance. He is only interested in himself and his own thoughts.

  228. #228 Rudy
    May 10, 2009

    OK, PZ, so he’s not Eagleton. I’ll go back and reread the story with that in mind.

    The “tosh” part sounded kind of anti-intellectual too (like “posh”); your new name is better.

  229. #229 cicely
    May 10, 2009

    And supporters of the Winged Elephant hypothesis pointed at the wealth of art and music that had been created by humans in praise and glorification of the Winged Elephant, and of the Beneficial Effects throughout the history of human civilization of veneration of the Winged Elephant, and of the flight-capability thereof, invoking it as evidence for the existence of the Winged Elephant, for surely if the beast was only figment, so many would not have been moved to such acts of creation in It’s name, and surely civilization could not have acquired such Beneficial Effects apart from the reality of the Winged Elephant, and surely humans would feel no urge to flight themselves, but for the flight of the Elephant.

  230. #230 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    And Rudy, remember if you want to post here: philosophy without evidence is sophistry. This is a science blog. Evidence is de rigueur.

  231. #231 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    Colleagishins

    heh.

  232. #232 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    I should add that the composite “Ditchkins” enables the grifter to attack positions held neither by Dawkins nor Hitchens, while “Eagletosh” is a stand-in for positions that punters like Eric rush in to take umbrage at. “Ditchkins” is more an assault characterizing people on the NY-Times bestseller list, while “Eagletosh” is a characterization of the tosh itself, common to all tosh-slingers, no matter what their name may be.

  233. #233 buttershug
    May 10, 2009

    “No, I think you’ve missed mine. The point is that the ‘or’ the story ends with doesn’t follow from the story itself.”

    No Eric you missed the point.
    Either you believe people who “conjure phantoms in the spaces within their skulls” or you don’t.
    Believeing evidence does not change the fact you also believe in non-evidenced things.

    Another analogy is that during the Salem Witch Trials “spirit evidence” was accepted. That is the witnesses were allowed to present evidence from the spirit world. The court could have followed every other legal precept but that would not change that they accepted evidence from young girls claiming to be channeling spirits.

    (what stopped them was when they accused the Governor’s wife)

    It comes down to accepting Eagletosh’s views or not.
    You can accept Larry, Moe, and Curley’s evidence AND accept Eagletosh’s views but it comes down to believing Eagletosh’s account OR not.

  234. #234 Rudy
    May 10, 2009

    Ken Cope (225),

    I’ve posted here before, though not often (before the last couple of days it’s been a few months I think).

    I have a thick skin, calloused from a decade wasted on the ‘net. So I’m not saddened by your cruel characterization of me as a (sniff) wannabe.

  235. #235 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    The focus on Eagletosh obscures the real genius of the tale, which is that the enterprise of science is a product of knuckleheads, with the presumption that they are knuckleheads, but that collectively, they rise to the level of Stooges, yet still, they are more productive than Eagletosh can ever be.

  236. #236 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    I have a thick skin, calloused from a decade wasted on the ‘net. So I’m not saddened by your cruel characterization of me as a (sniff) wannabe.

    Yet you had to take the time to tell him.

  237. #237 Occam's Aftershave
    May 10, 2009

    NOF, have you ever heard of a category error? Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    This is begging the question by making an unjustified assumption that there is a category other than the natural. You’ve got two choices: (1) provide evidence of the supernatural category in which it becomes untenable to assign it to a completely separate category, or (2) accept that you’re building castles on pure fantasy.

  238. #238 SC, OM
    May 10, 2009

    OK. Admittedly, I’ve been hanging with my family* and drinking all day and I’ve only skimmed this thread, but I’m at a loss as to what Eric’s argument is – especially if it’s about a deity. Eric, if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind spelling it out (feel free to cite others, as long as you’ve described their positions)? Thanks.

    *Yes, the only reason I can visit and post here is that I’m away from home and not on my computer. That’s how serious the Sb problem is for me.

  239. #239 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    SC do you need a computer consultation?

  240. #241 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    your cruel characterization of me as a (sniff) wannabe

    It isn’t the accusation of wannabe that was cruel–many of us have heroes and role-models whom we emulate on our way toward discovering who we are. It was my identification of your remarks in emulation of a troll whose positions you were primed to echo that should offend you. It is your capacity to reflect upon your arguments, and, in light of new information, consider revising them, that puts you in a category beyond the aspirations of any dime-a-dozen Eric.

  241. #242 SC, OM
    May 10, 2009

    SC do you need a computer consultation?

    You’re so sweet. No, I need a new computer, desperately, which I plan to get very soon (it has been a decade – I don’t think I’ll lose any Swamp Yankee cred :)). Still, everything was just fine until they started messing with it, and it’s still fine on every other site, so I’m pretty confident blaming them. I also hate when people make changes without warning, providing a rationale, or openly addressing potential problems. Sure, I may not understand what’s going on, but that’s not my fault.

  242. #243 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    SC, I’m beta testing Firefox 3.5b4 for Macs (PPC version), and SB has been blowing up at least twice a day. It started with the “improvements”. Safari works fine, but doesn’t have the add-ons. *Shakes fist at SB software*

  243. #244 hf
    May 10, 2009

    Can you name a single properly scientific conclusion that someone who agrees with Eagleton’s theology would be required, on pain of contradiction, to reject?

    Hard to say. Does Eagleton have a consistent theology? It seems to me from reading quotes that he writes about a God that is not a possible object of cognition, or to put it another way, KtlikitkaktlbargleElessar. A creationist like Gosse seems sophisticated by comparison.

    As for the claim that Eagleton doesn’t arbitrarily make up anything except Ditchkins, does he give any reason for believing in a God that is not an object of cognition? (Hint: this is trick question.)

    Similarly, if you can tell us what “immaterial” means then we can have a discussion about it. Otherwise, it’s all KTlik.

  244. #245 SC, OM
    May 10, 2009

    It started with the “improvements”.

    For a bit of context: I’m the sort of person who LOVES the thing on airplanes that gives you all of the information about your status and progress. I also want to be kept informed not only about the reasons for any delays or changes but about the reasons behind the course of action that’s being taken. I have no problem with change, but I hate having it sprung on me without explanation, and I’ve yet to see a constructive change made here by the Sb staff. I can’t imagine why these people would take what’s possibly the most popular science blog on the planet and go fucking about with it.

  245. #246 Rudy
    May 10, 2009

    Nerd, PZ’s story is not evidence, it’s a story. Sometimes the only way to present an idea is a story (this is what the philosopher Richard Rorty used to argue, thinking of Dostoevsky and Dickens); the still popular academic “narrative theology” makes religion all about stories – in a good way of course :) Like turtles, it’s stories all the way, well, a long way down.

    Ken Cope, if Eagletosh (now Colleaglshins) was intended just as a straw counterpart to Mr. D, the story wouldn’t have any point except to prove that PZ Can Play That Game Too. That doesn’t seem to be what most of the posters here took away from PZ’s story, they paid PZ the compliment of taking it seriously.

  246. #247 Rorschach
    May 10, 2009

    SC,OM,consider this inexpensive solution to your puter problem :

    http://eeepc.asus.com/us/products.html?n=0

    Reading SB from work on a PC workstation via IE leads to hang-ups,given the number of widgets,JS shit and Flash thingies buried in the pages.Pretty much unreadable without Firefox and the blocking tools.

  247. #248 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    I am sensing a bit of inspiration from the flying sheep sketch here.


    -Uh…those ARE sheep aren’t they?
    -Yeh.
    -Hmm, thought they were. Only, what are they doing up in the trees?
    -A fair question and one that in recent weeks ‘as been much on my mind. It’s my considered opinion that they’re nestin’.

  248. #249 charley
    May 10, 2009

    I am willing to concede this much to Eric. The fact that the characters are seeking knowledge about a physical object stacks the deck in favor of the scientists. I doubt that philosophers or theologians would disagree that science is the best way to learn about an elephant.

    Imagine a parable where scientists make fools of themselves trying to find what makes Beethoven’s 8th great by spending years analyzing the attributes of the sound waves. Meanwhile, an artist listens once and guided mostly by her emotional response produces an explanation that resonates with many listeners. In other words, there are other paths to knowledge besides science, if you aren’t too rigid about what you mean by knowledge.

    The fact remains, however, that theology contributes nothing of value. It has no way to get beyond riffing on imaginary and hypothetical concepts and beings. It is an enormous distraction and waste of time.

  249. #250 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    Nerd, PZ’s story is not evidence, it’s a story.

    At what point do you think Nerd or anyone claimed it was “evidence”?

  250. #251 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    Rudy, two things of note. One, PZ did tell a story. I thought it was a nice story. Two, Eric thinks he is the philosophy specialist here and we all should bow down to him and his conclusions, and gets very upset when we don’t. Especially with the existence of god being philosophically correct. This has been a multithread argument over about three months on and off, and today was just the latest round. My warning to you is to remember this is a science blog, and science requires physical evidence (I know, as I’ve been doing science for 30+ year, and been a skeptic for 20+).

  251. #252 SC, OM
    May 10, 2009

    SC,OM,consider this inexpensive solution to your puter problem :

    You’re sweet, too (extra cuteness points for calling it what my friend’s little 2-yr-old daughter does :)). I’m getting another HP* – been researching online and on Consumer Reports. I would ask for opinions here, but…

    …well, you can imagine the mayhem that would ensue amongst opinionated computer people…

  252. #253 anonymouroboros
    May 10, 2009

    @Rudy
    It seems that Nerd never said that the story was meant to be taken as evidence for anything really. He simply reiterated an earlier comment that he aimed at Eric since he thought you were going to bring up the same sort of “evidence” as Eric.

    The story does have a point other than the name that you’re fixated on, which was basically what everyone else responded. The only thing I got from the name was that it was a sort of parody of the “Ditchkens” strawman. The thing is, though, that the parody was not meant to represent any views of Eagleton or Fish, or at least I did not think so as it was not stated anywhere. I think the problem is that you thought it was implied that Eagletosh was meant to represent the views of either Eagleton or Fish. It seems like you simply misunderstood, but I could be wrong.

  253. #254 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Rudy @246, see my post @235. Of course the Tosh is flashy and distracting, but even knuckleheads working collectively as Stooges yield more toward our understanding of the way things are, enabling us to modify our surroundings for good or ill, while invisible quantum elephant wings are, at best, otiose.

    Dude: Horton Hatches The Egg precedes Roger Dean, too. Again, as per Jean-Luc Godard, ?It?s not where you take things from?it?s where you take them to.?

  254. #255 SC, OM
    May 10, 2009

    I’m getting another HP*

    Yeah, there must have been a reason for that asterisk. Can’t for the life of me remember what it was…

  255. #256 Rorschach
    May 10, 2009

    SC,OM,

    Off to work,the question is not which brand,theyre all nice,more or less fast and gadgety these days,but which OS,really,IMO.
    *Drops the Linux bomb and runs*

  256. #257 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 10, 2009

    …well, you can imagine the mayhem that would ensue amongst opinionated computer people…

    What? People here have opinions and express them? ;)

    My Mac is 8 years old and the PPC will no longer be supported by Snow Leopard according to the rumor mill. Sigh. The iMacs look very nice though…

  257. #258 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    *Drops the Linux bomb and runs*

    Oh gods, not a religious discussion, here; won’t somebody please think of the children…

    Um, which distro? (he said, running Vista64, since Windows is the price we pay for cheap hardware, and I build my desktops myself). New Mac laptops shore look purty though…

  258. #259 Jadehawk
    May 10, 2009

    Um, which distro? (he said, running Vista64, since Windows is the price we pay for cheap hardware, and I build my desktops myself). New Mac laptops shore look purty though…

    Vista runs better on cheap hardware?! In which universe?!

    also: Ubuntu rulez. the only reason not to go with Ubuntu on PC is if you do serious graphic work, and then an iMac is better, anyway.

  259. #260 Megan
    May 10, 2009

    freakin genius. solid gold :)

  260. #261 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead..

    I was wondering about your use of OM in the following comment of yours.

    “So we would appreciate it if you kept your belief to yourself, like Scott Hatfield, OM. That is our point.”

    Is it this definition from the Urban Dictionary.?

    OM
    a dum retarded loser who keeps bragging nonstop about anything that he achieved that HE thought was great. Super talkative and a loserish wanna be. only way to shut him up is to ignore him.

  261. #262 Caryn
    May 10, 2009

    Eric, FYI Richard Healy posts here sometimes. Not every poster tries to argue from authority by establishing his bona fides.

    have you ever heard of a category error? Asking for physical evidence for god (as classically conceived) is akin to asking what the mandelbrot set tastes like.

    I suppose you think the category error is that God belongs to the category “non-physical things”, and it is inappropriate to expect physical evidence for things belonging to this category. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t excuse believing in God without any evidence at all. God and numbers might both belong to the category “non-physical things” but neither of them belongs to the category “things it makes sense to believe in without evidence”. That isn’t a problem for mathematics, but it is a problem for religion.

    PZ’s entire point is that the definitions here are drawn from… what, exactly? Why should we think the classical conception of God relevant, particularly in the absence of the regular transparent sort of evidence everyone can go check?

  262. #263 Stanton
    May 10, 2009

    “OM” is short for “Order of the Molly”

  263. #264 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2009

    Vista runs better on cheap hardware?! In which universe?!

    also: Ubuntu rulez. the only reason not to go with Ubuntu on PC is if you do serious graphic work, and then an iMac is better, anyway.

    One of the reasons I stick with Windows. One, I’m an IT manager and need to have windows because of what we run, and two since I’m on windows and I’m also a photographer I can’t quite switch 100% to gimp as Photoshop and Lightroom are too important for me.

    Though I do run RHEL for a number of our servers at work.

  264. #265 Rev. bigDumbCHimp
    May 10, 2009

    Is it this definition from the Urban Dictionary.?
    OM

    OM

  265. #266 Lee Picton
    May 10, 2009

    In case no one else has done so, thank you, Owlmirror, for a lovely essay. It is worth reading more than once.

  266. #267 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    Vista runs better on cheap hardware?! In which universe?!

    also: Ubuntu rulez. the only reason not to go with Ubuntu on PC is if you do serious graphic work, and then an iMac is better, anyway.

    Admittedly, Vista was a rather intensive upgrade your hardware program, as in, what? you still think your Wacom tablet will run on a serial port? Where have you been? Serial ports are so last century! But I was raised to prefer rolling your own, er, roasting my own. That is, I roast my own green coffee beans, and don’t know what else you might be thinking about rolling green stuff. As for the hardware, Apple has gone Intel and Nvidia, and so do I. Since I do 3D animation and game development, I go for the lowest common denominator. Apple’s OS shore is purty, but I want it first and flakey, not months later and bee-aye-oot-i-ful.

  267. #268 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    a dum retarded loser who keeps bragging nonstop about anything that he achieved that HE thought was great. Super talkative and a loserish wanna be. only way to shut him up is to ignore him.

    sounds more like the definition of John Kwok to me.

  268. #269 Jadehawk
    May 10, 2009

    Ken, I rarely use my tablet, and I find color management on linux and windows to be a massive pain in the ass; not to mention that AI CS3 doesn’t run in Wine, and the sites I sell my images at don’t accept SVGs for the most part, so I can’t just post my Inkscape files (the EPS files from Inkscape have too many issues as well).

    and the mouse scrolls sideways. SIDEways!!!!

  269. #270 Ichthyic
    May 10, 2009

    I’m getting another HP* – been researching online and on Consumer Reports. I would ask for opinions here, but…

    I went with ASUS instead last year and couldn’t be happier.

    btw, there’s nothing saying you can’t install a linux distro on a PC with Vista.

  270. #271 Ken Cope
    May 10, 2009

    AI CS3 doesn’t run in Wine, and the sites I sell my images at don’t accept SVGs for the most part,

    Ah, I can tell your selection is based on what hardware/OS combination best supports your most critical applications too. Glad to see we’re neither of us are bound to rigid ideologies.

  271. #272 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    there’s nothing saying you can’t install a linux distro on a PC with Vista.

    Sigh. Yet another thread deteriorating into nothing more than vigorous agreement…

  272. #273 fly44d
    May 11, 2009

    “Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, or elephants’ wings?”

    Like I suspect most here do, elephants. I find these things in the way I choose to live my life, relieving pain, bringing pleasure, exploring myself and the universe. I find richness and joy in music, arts, science, friends and family. The awe I experience almost daily from ourselves, our world and our universe is amazing. I do not fear death, only of dying before I am ready. I don’t need imaginary wings to soar. I don’t need a meaning decreed to me, I create my own. The meaning of life is to be all that you can be to your family, friends, community, and world.

    Sorry, felt the need to answer the question… :-)

  273. #274 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    Ah, I can tell your selection is based on what hardware/OS combination best supports your most critical applications too.

    well, that’s MY reasoning for using the iMac. But it certainly helped that the boyfriend wanted to buy me one because it’s the only type of computer we don’t have at our home yet. :-p

    The collection now includes: one self-built desktop, running appx. 10 different linux distros, plus Windows 7; one netbook, running eeebuntu and Windows 7; one laptop, running ubuntu; one iMac, running OSX (Leopard); one server, temporarily not running anything at all

    and now he’s debating whether to build some archaic form of computer(don’t ask me what… but I think it had to do with not using an Intel chip), or buy a MacBook :-p

  274. #275 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    What does the elephant think of this?

    And a bird?

    We can’t know, but we can empathize. And then consider that those who refuse to empathize and consider the life of any but themselves as having self-imposed blinders. Blinders, when we of all animals can most empathize, if only we choose.

  275. #276 386sx
    May 11, 2009

    Congrats for creating the new word “Eagletosh”, which previous to today had precisely zero google hits! And growing…

  276. #277 elephantbirdie386sx
    May 11, 2009

    Congrats for creating the new word “Eagletosh”, which previous to today had precisely zero google hits! And growing…

    Errr, I should say “prior” to today. Anyway, Eagletosh is taking off like an… ummmmmmmm… I can’t really think of an idom at the moment. Eagletosh is tasking off like an… ummmm… somethin. I dunno.

  277. #278 386sx
    May 11, 2009

    Errr, I should say “prior” to today. Anyway, Eagletosh is taking off like an… ummmmmmmm… I can’t really think of an idom at the moment. Eagletosh is tasking off like an… ummmm… somethin. I dunno.

    Grrr…

    s/idom/idiom

    s/tasking/taking

    Okay, beddie byes time apparently…

  278. #279 Azkyroth
    May 11, 2009

    Now, my claim is that to ask for physical evidence for an immaterial entity is to place ‘immaterial entities’ in the category of ‘entities for with there could be physical evidence.’ To make this point clearer, imagine reversing it and asking for immaterial evidence for the existence of physical entities like elephants. Absurd, eh?

    Your problem is that ascribing the property of “existence” to an entity which is “immaterial” in the sense you’re using the word is itself a category error.

  279. #280 Chewy
    May 11, 2009

    I remember being recited this poem several dozen times back when doing my undergrad. It was never used to defend theology, but used to defend qualitative research and their epistemology. Interesting to see a new take on the poem … albeit, I think PZ had it right, that the original “Elephant” poem had more to do with theology than the quant vs. qual “battle”.

  280. #281 Robert Estrada
    May 11, 2009

    Sorry, I’ve been drinking nice red wine al evening, but isn’t using metaphysical/spiritual arguments in a debate surrounding science a major “CATAGORY ERROR”?????
    Robert “at this point an abalone” Estrada

  281. #282 386sx
    May 11, 2009

    I’m so glad that if I wanted to believe in God I wouldn’t have to support those beliefs with evidence because that would be a category error. I’m so freakin relieved about that.

  282. #283 386sx
    May 11, 2009

    Saying that metaphysical/spiritual arguments in a debate surrounding science is a major category error is itself a major category error, because some things that previously were thought to be metaphysical/spiritual turned out to belong to the domain of science. For example, people once thought that lightning, planetary orbits, and comets were metaphysical/spiritual.

  283. #284 Uncle Ebeneezer
    May 11, 2009

    Hate to rain on your parade Mr. Myers, but how do you explain this?:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7aGL…rom=PL&index=7

    Keep fighting the good fight! –UE

  284. #285 376sx
    May 11, 2009

    Hate to rain on your parade Mr. Myers, but how do you explain this?:

    Very simple: it is a major, major category error. Everybody stop making category errors!!

  285. #286 Ineffable
    May 11, 2009

    @Ebeneezer
    Many physicists and mahematicians (like Roger Penrose and Paul Davies) believe mathematical truths and abstractions exist as platonic forms (in a realm outside of space and time). Is platonic realism a scientific theory?

  286. #287 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    Is platonic realism a scientific theory?

    Not when mahematician Roger Penrose wanks about platonism and the quantum, it isn’t. While he’s useful doing sums for Hawking, his quantum microtubules shite should have him committing sepuku out of sheer humiliation for having become a laughingstock. All Davies is good for any more is whoring after Templeton cash.

  287. #288 astrounit
    May 11, 2009

    That was SUPERB PZ!

    Aber sauber!

  288. #289 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Damn but that is funny. A medieval wanker who is impressed by Aquinas’ variants of Aristotelian science asks if Platonic realism is a scientific theory.

    Only for the Catholic Church.

    Somewhere in the TRUE REALITY there is to be found the idealized Ineffable. It has to be even more insufferable than the pale reflection we deal with here.

  289. #290 John Scanlon FCD
    May 11, 2009

    Sorry to bring this up again, but eric said “I only take issue with misrepresentations of theism and atheism, not with your atheism,” which leads me to ask: in what sense is he a theist who admits the total absence of evidence (i.e. physical effects) of a deity? Isn’t that saying “I believe in an imaginary God”?
    He does know, doesn’t he, that “immaterial evidence” is never going to keep anyone persuaded after the drugs wear off?

  290. #291 sbh
    May 11, 2009

    I always liked Pogo’s take on the story–when someone in the comic strip compared a situation to the wise men and the elephant, saying something like Each was partly right and each was partly wrong, Pogo answered, Yes, but remember, each was wholly blind.

  291. #292 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Sigh. Another one pushing the ‘we believe in other non-physical concepts so why not believe in the Judeo-Christian god and all the rubbish that comes with it?’ approach as part of the argument for belief.

    Putting it all together I guess the equation goes something like this (for them): philosophical arguments supporting the possible existence of a non-specific god + fact that we don’t yet know exactly how everything in the universe works + general consensus amongst historians that someone approximating Jesus existed + argumentum ad populum = undeniable Christian faith.

    But that seems pretty weak to me – I guess that’s why I’m not a Christian.

  292. #293 Shane
    May 11, 2009

    I have to say I am disappointed at the treatment Erik is receiving on this board. Erik criticizes something and goes to the trouble to define terms and actually have a legitimate argument, and then people yell, “keep your god to yourself,” without addressing the substance of his argument and without Erik mentioning god at all. I don’t know. I expect better from atheists.

  293. #294 Lotharloo
    May 11, 2009

    Following the lead of Eagletosh, Eric sat on his ass and declared, “It is my considered opinion that God is ‘an immaterial entity’ and is immune to any form of physical test and thus no physical evidence of its existence can be found.” He lazily sipped his drink and continued, “Nonetheless, this immaterial entity, created the universe 13 billion years ago, filled it with galaxies, clusters of galaxies, massive supernovas and many other wonders, and then commanded that no man is allowed to put his penis inside another’s anus.”

  294. #295 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    I expect better from atheists.

    Thanks for that contribution, which succeeded in only making atheists look even better.

  295. #296 JeffS
    May 11, 2009

    Elephants have wings? I saw lions take down an elephant and it didn’t try to fly away. It didn’t even try. It just ran. There were like a bunch of lions, it looked like a dozen or so lions (possibly more, maybe less).

    Like, if I saw someone being hurt and had the ability to stop it, I would. You know, like seeing a child raped by someone. I would stop it. If I could supposedly stop it with minimal effort on my part (say picking up a telephone and calling the police or using my supernatural powers to alert someone of it happening, or by sending down a angel with a flaming sword to exact justice), I would do that. I wouldn’t watch. I wouldn’t do nothing.

    I couldn’t allow someone to be hurt if I could stop it, and I would have flown away from the lions.

  296. #297 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    I expect better from atheists.

    Why? While I’d love to say that all atheists are more likely to behave in a more intelligent, perceptive way than all theists, I can’t support than claim with evidence.

    We have no defining qualities save a lack of belief in gods. Beyond that, one atheist is no more likely to behave like another than are any other two people with characteristics unrelated to the determination of behaviour.

  297. #298 Scrabcake
    May 11, 2009

    So, is Eagletosh at all related to Ditchkins?
    lol

  298. #299 Emmet, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Thus spake SC,OM

    I need a new computer, desperately?

    Having seen it, I can vouch for its antiquity ? SC’s computer is so old that paleographers are still debating its exact date ? it had to be smuggled out of the Middle East.

  299. #300 Robert
    May 11, 2009

    Oh AssProf PZ, I’m so embarrassed for you! This is really a dreadfully boring read, constructed without any literary grace or skill. I understand that you’re madly in love with your own thoughts and words, but this narcissism causes you to produce far too much gunk that clogs the internet and assaults the minds of all those with a sense of taste and style. I think you were trying to write some sort of fable but just proved yourself to be as mediocre a writer as you are researcher. Really, dear AssProf, less is more when it comes to your writing.

  300. #301 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Thank you for you helpful and insightful comment, AssFace.

  301. #302 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Robert, a whining pissant, squealed:

    Oh AssProf PZ, I’m so embarrassed for you!

    Not half as embarrassed as you should be by your own actions.

    … and assaults the minds of all those with a sense of taste and style.

    While there are people in the world who fit that description nothing you’ve written here would support a claim that you are amongst them.

    I think…

    I doubt it.

    Really, dear AssProf, less is more when it comes to your writing.

    Less is certainly more when it comes to you, Robert. Why is it you come here again?

  302. #303 Emmet, OM
    May 11, 2009

    This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    So we commend them for such a paucity of imagination that they instead believe things that were made up arbitrarily by illiterate bronze-age goatherds.

    Now, my claim is that to ask for physical evidence for an immaterial entity is to place ‘immaterial entities’ in the category of ‘entities for with there could be physical evidence.’

    So, you simply define away the necessity for empirical evidence ? ?God is that which exists, but for which there is no evidence of existence? ? that seems like an extraordinarily feeble cop-out that seeks to invent a new category of existence to dispense with the requirement to assign god(s) to be either physical or notional. If by ?immaterial entity? you mean ?figment of imagination? then, yes, god(s) do(es) indeed exist(s) ? in the same sense as unicorns and Harry Potter ? if you mean ?exists? in the sense of physical existence in the real world, then you must present empirical evidence. What you cannot do is implicitly invent a new definition of ?exist? like a theological Humpty Dumpty.

  303. #304 Feynmaniac
    May 11, 2009

    Eric,

    A universe with a powerful being that regularly intervenes in human affairs would like very different that a universe without such a being. Such interventions could be pointed to and be said to be physical evidence for that being.

    Now, this argument doesn’t work if you believe (1) God rarely or never intervenes in human affairs or (2) he “covers his tracks”. There are many theist who don’t accept (1) or (2). A God “covering his tracks” seems a bit deceptive, a feature many wouldn’t consider a supreme deity to have. Thus asking for physical evidence for God isn’t necessarily wrong. In fact, many theist do point to things like the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich or other “miracles” as physical evidence for God. I have yet to see convincing evidence.

    I have two question:

    - Do you accept (1) and/or (2) or is there some other reason the requirement of physical evidence doesn’t apply to God?

    - What is your evidence, if not physical, for God?

  304. #305 Red John
    May 11, 2009

    “also: Ubuntu rulez. the only reason not to go with Ubuntu on PC is if you do serious graphic work, and then an iMac is better, anyway.”

    I switched over to Linux through Ubuntu, but now run Arch on my desktop and Debian on my PPC laptop. That being said, I’d recommend any linux distro over Windows/Mac.

  305. #306 Citizen of the Cosmos
    May 11, 2009

    Great stuff, PZ. Are we allowed to spread this around?

  306. #307 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    Eric, if you’re willing to specify that your god exists in the same sense that, say, Aragorn the Ranger exists- as a fictional entity in a story- you might be doing OK. But if you claim that it in some sense “really” exists and has any properties such as, say, creating universes, you will need some convincing evidence.

    At the moment you’re repeatedly taking issue with atheists for not taking your god-concept “seriously”. But I have a nagging feeling that in a conversation between a fundamentalist who thinks God loves him personally and is planning to end the world next week, an atheists who thinks there are no gods, and you, you’d side with the fundie in browbeating the atheist. Am I wrong about this?

  307. #308 JeffS
    May 11, 2009

    That being said, I’d recommend any linux distro over Windows/Mac.

    I giggled.

    @300

    There are lots of Athiest blogs out there. Few have the amount of readers PZ has. Few blogs have the amount of readers as Pharyngula. This is mostly because PZ is a good writer. He is very easy to read. If you are wrong on this point, perhaps you are wrong on others. Perhaps more important points. Maybe you should think about that a bit.

  308. #309 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    Delightful, PZ, and well constructed; so many bases touched (Ken Cope points out one of many in #235). And there are some great comments; to mention just a couple: Owlmirror’s #115 is a tour de force. And after wading through a long, dreadfully boring exchange with Eric, with many responses to him substituting ad hominems for for substantive response (hint to David and Windy about making certain persons bad guys), I finally encountered buttershug’s point-getting #233. I would add about Eric and his arguments: First, on communication skills: starting out with “How in the world is this even sensible?” when everyone else finds it eminently sensible is good trolling but is not a good way to discuss issues with people with whom one disagrees, especially when it is followed, not by an explanation of why it isn’t sensible, but by two questions that completely miss the many sensible points of the parable (including the reflection of “Ditchkins” in “Eagletosh”). On substance: talk of “the” classic conception of god is nonsensical when there are many, and most of them involve someone who does various things that have physically discernible consequences — like chatting with prophets and other folk, as one frequent theme, often to get them to write down the god’s thoughts and actions in holy books. The very existence of these books is purported evidence of the god and is often presented as such. And if not, these books are indistinguishable from fictional fables; there is no reason to think or claim that they are about anything real. As for category mistake, the notion that something with no physical attributes or for which there cannot be physical evidence “exists” is a category mistake — existence is about membership in a set, and the set that is meant when the word is used without qualification is the set of physical phenomena (I agree with Knockgoats about emotions, minds, and social norms but not about numbers). (Ah, I see that Azkyroth made the same point about this being a category mistake in #279).

    On a personal note: I escaped from the fires, smoke, and ash in Santa Barbara but hope to return home tomorrow. I’m staying with a friend in the woo capital of California — perhaps of this entire plane of existence. Much of what you write about here, PZ, applies to purveyors and practitioners of woo, and Owlmirror’s analysis captures the human elements that contribute to the formation of these beliefs. These folks are generally very nice and have their hearts in the right place (they aren’t libertarians, conservatives, or other forms of sociopath), but they’re rather gullible, they pay lip service to science but have a poor understanding of what science has taught us about how the world works, and they reinforce each other’s mistaken beliefs, especially when gathered together in a community like this one.

    Speaking of beliefs, I notice that Ken Kope in #102 and David Marjanovi? in #181 talked sensibly of their beliefs being grounded in evidence, and there are other mentions of belief that recognize that beliefs can be grounded in evidence or not grounded in evidence, and no one took objection. I strongly suspect that everyone here understands what the word means except when they’re in the midst of defending clearly mistaken claims about it.

    Ah, and Sastra should note Occam’s Aftershave’s #237.

    *Drops the Linux bomb and runs*

    As someone who has been running various Linux distributions since Yggdrasil, I would say that’s not a good idea for anyone who doesn’t think of their computer as a hobby unto itself.

    As for HP, regardless of whether it’s the best possible choice, it’s a good choice.

  309. #310 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    @Lotharloo
    Following the lead of Eagletosh, Eric sat on his ass and declared …

    Another case of commenter genius.

    @Shane
    Erik criticizes something and goes to the trouble to define terms and actually have a legitimate argument, and then people yell,

    How many people?

    “keep your god to yourself,” without addressing the substance of his argument

    Did none of those who did that ever address any of the substance of his argument? Did no one ever address any of the substance of his argument?

    and without Erik mentioning god at all. I don’t know. I expect better from atheists.

    All atheists? Or just those particular atheists?

    Are you an atheist? If so, shouldn’t you expect better of yourself?

  310. #311 toto
    May 11, 2009

    and the blind who prefer to conjure phantoms in the spaces within their skulls.

    Unfortunately, the above also applies to mathematicians. Would you lump mathematics together with religion?

    That’s the basic problem with the equation “science=experiment”. Feynman addressed this problem by decreeing that mathematics are not a science – “or at least, not a natural science”, he qualified.

  311. #312 Jack
    May 11, 2009

    Excellent.

    Eagleton is such a goddamned fool. It’s highly enjoyable seeing his dishonest, disingenuous, pseudo-intellectual apologist mindset lampooned so well.

  312. #313 Kel
    May 11, 2009

    Probably been answered a few times, but I’ve been at work so I’m pleading ignorance…

    In relationship to physical evidence for God, if one claims that there can be no physical evidence for God then they are conceding that God does not interact with the world, it takes any concept of the supernatural and relegates it to deism. If God physically interacted with the world then there should be evidence. Even if God is in the supernatural realm, in order to influence the natural God has to interface with the natural. Otherwise the natural remains unchanged. Thus any god that cannot have physical evidence has to be deistic in nature and unknowable my humans.

    To take this point further, this is nothing more than having your cake and eating it too. Christianity is founded on the principle of there being physical evidence, that God is indeed a force in this reality and has chosen to physically manifest in the world some 2000 years ago. A theist believes in an interactive god, so it takes more than philosophical musings to demonstrate this notion. Either concede that God has no physical dealings in this world (and is thus unknowable) or concede that there has to be physical evidence in order for us to come to know it…

  313. #314 oriole
    May 11, 2009

    Great post, PZ. But you forgot one thing: since they’re quantum wings, they only exist when someone looks at them; otherwise, they’re in an indeterminate, existing/non-existing state. The only reason the others haven’t seen them is because they’re not as “pudgily superior” as Eagletosh. As soon as he looks at them, they’ll pop right into existence. CHECKMATE!

  314. #315 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Kel (#313)

    Either concede that God has no physical dealings in this world (and is thus unknowable) or concede that there has to be physical evidence in order for us to come to know it…

    My guess is that a) since it further diminishes the gaps in which to hide in, very few of faith find that an appealing question, and b) the “hard facts” are actually found in the bible, beyond examination (or at least, very difficult to put to the test), while god’s intervention nowadays seems to be restricted to rather ambiguous prayer-answering or miracle-cures-when-no-one-is-watching. This dualism is so pathetic, more so when used apologetically.

    To the topic, I liked the story a lot (especially the ending… “O Reader”, loved that). For some mememetic engineering it might yet be good to shorten it a little… but don’t ask me how or where.

  315. #316 Tassie Devil
    May 11, 2009

    Just a small note – I’m on an iMac (leopard/firefox), and apart from the indenting blockquote problem, I never would have noticed the issues in scienceblogs in the last couple of days if posters hadn’t commented on it. It’s been working just the same as always as far as I can see.

  316. #317 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    Erik criticizes something and goes to the trouble to define terms and actually have a legitimate argument

    He did? 

    Where?

    As far as I can make out, he opined that he was better than anyone here because he <i>knows philosophy</i>. Then he ducked the physical/non physical issue, without which he has no argument at all.

  317. #318 Lotharloo
    May 11, 2009

    To be serious with the likes of Eric, from my personal anecdote, his point is raised quite often by people working in theoretical fields, specially pure mathematics. These people, because of their profession, sometimes treat the real world as a mathematical construct with no regard to evidence or the methodology of the scientific method. Probably the most well-known example here is Godel’s ontological argument.

    As repeated by many people, the answer to Eric is that one cannot define something into existence. Defining a concept to be unmeasurable does not make it more likely than all the millions of other unmeasurable and undetectable concepts (e.g., Sagan’s invisible dragon).

    So here is a question for Eric and his sympathizers: I agree, that it is possible that unmeasurable and undetectable things exist; however, if you accept the existence of one, then how can you deny the existence of others?

    If your belief in an unmeasurable and undetectable deity stems from your feeling that such a deity “makes sense” or “feels real”, then what happens when we show that as a human you are biased towards such feelings? In other words, what if your feeling is a logical illusion? Just as the visual system of our brains can be easily fooled by optical illusions, what if the logical part of your brain has fallen victim to say agent detection illusion?

  318. #319 Kel
    May 11, 2009

    My guess is that a) since it further diminishes the gaps in which to hide in, very few of faith find that an appealing question, and b) the “hard facts” are actually found in the bible, beyond examination (or at least, very difficult to put to the test), while god’s intervention nowadays seems to be restricted to rather ambiguous prayer-answering or miracle-cures-when-no-one-is-watching. This dualism is so pathetic, more so when used apologetically.

    That’s just it. The bible is filled with stories of God interacting with the earth in one way or another. It means that God has to hide his tracks or that there should be evidence if there is any validity at all to the concept. Eric by trying to avoid the evidence question makes God even more implausible as it calls into question any way of knowing God. But Eric does believe in the physical manifestation of God and has used the gospels as evidence for Jesus. Apparently a few “eyewitness” accounts are enough to validate the concept of the man-god and thus the Trinity.

  319. #320 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    I see the value of the philosophy of religion as an interesting exercise, but not very useful beyond that – and pointless as a basis for making claims regarding the existence of the Christian god.

    Being able to argue that some kind of god could exist (or may have existed) is one thing; extrapolating from that the definite existence of the specific deity known as Yahweh is another thing entirely, if for no other reason than we have no verifiable facts regarding that god’s qualities – only folk tales, speculation and propaganda.

  320. #321 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    NS,

    as someone that just recently had to evacuate due to bushfires,it’s good to see you safe and well !

    To the ‘puter debate,I think unless you’re working professionally with Windoze API and editing tools,Linux can do all that the others can,and is cheaper and safer.
    Bought a cheapo Dell Laptop 6 months ago,kicked Vista off and installed Ubuntu,running like a charm,very fast,use it for all my presentations and some minor video editing.
    Back to work!

  321. #322 Kel
    May 11, 2009

    Windows has games so that’s keeping me on Microsoft’s software. If it weren’t for games and the phoning abilities of Google Talk, I’d switch back to Linux. But yeah, Windows wins by supporting the software I use – sad really.

  322. #323 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Kel (319), and as a more general aside: This does not stop at whether or not god exists (still hesitant to write it with a capital G, I am; you of course know that I refer to the “arguably… most unpleasant character in all fiction” (Dawkins, 2006)), and is one of the deeper reasons for me to oppose christian derivation of morals even here in Germany, where it is not nearly as great a problem as in other countries:

    Fallacious legitimacy.

    Most christians I know are peculiarly eclectic about what they accept from their holy book (mostly, they tend to defend only those implications that happen to conform to this culture’s social values anyway), notwithstanding the fact that Jesus’ legitimacy was derived by his referring to Old Testament-prophecies and being entrenched in the corresponding cultic in-group-/out-group-morals. To derive one’s morals from this source even today is denying that it has been watered down from the beginnings in order to be memetically viable.

    Finding Jesus admirable as a person or not has no bearing whatsoever on his authority (which is derived from the Old Testament), and even if Jesus’ character is brought up as an excuse for being christian (“ah yeah the Old Testament, but you know, thankfully Jesus arrived with the second covenant and all that…”), this is a hollow appeal to justify any influence at all of “christianity” on today’s society. There might have been more pleasant characters, and of course, there is the question of whether it is more acceptable to idolize an individual to accept his norms (through authority) or to formulate a philosophical foundation of how to behave morally. Since the Enlightenment, at the latest, we supposedly know the answer.

  323. #324 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    post scriptum: Kel, regarding your statement

    Apparently a few “eyewitness” accounts are enough to validate the concept of the man-god and thus the Trinity.

    I have talked to people who said they witnessed the moment the leg of someone (with formerly differently sized legs) grew longer in a prayer circle. And of course Our Lady of Fatima. Conspicuously, never is there an alleged sceptic witnessing these incidents.

  324. #325 Aquaria
    May 11, 2009

    I keep waiting for Eric to take the high dive into the Anselm cesspool. He seems to be hovering on the end of the diving board. Somebody push him in, and get it over with.

  325. #326 Josh
    May 11, 2009

    On a personal note: I escaped from the fires, smoke, and ash in Santa Barbara but hope to return home tomorrow.

    Glad to hear that you’re alright, NS. That’s great news.

  326. #327 Kel
    May 11, 2009

    Indeed, Gorogh. I’m guessing it’s the same argument everywhere. Morality has been hijacked by religion to the point where it seems one cannot be moral without religion. The fact that believers still do “wrong” while there are many noble non-believers really should be evidence against that view. Morality is a social construct and that’s something that needs to be said loudly time and time again.

  327. #328 shifty
    May 11, 2009

    I heard people say that there wouldn’t be a black man as president until pigs could fly. And then, three months later…swine flew (flu)! ;)…..(but, of course, you can’t see their wings either)

  328. #329 Jo
    May 11, 2009

    Yet another poll (this time on a Christian site) that shows just how moral those religious types are – this one’s about how great they think waterboarding is. Hordes, mobilise! http://www.onenewsnow.com/Poll.aspx?ekfrm=522196

  329. #330 shifty
    May 11, 2009

    Speaking of winged mammalians… I heard people say that there wouldn’t be a black man as president until pigs could fly. And then, three months later…swine flew (flu)! ;)…..(but, of course, you can’t see their wings either)

  330. #331 shifty
    May 11, 2009

    sorry, reached in and tried to grab it before it left, but alas, I have lost that first step.

  331. #332 AncientBrit
    May 11, 2009

    I just read that DARPA had a secret multimillion dollar research project to weaponize flying elephants, but that it was canceled after several years without explanation…

  332. #333 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Jo (#329),

    another poll (this time on a Christian site) that shows just how moral those religious types are – this one’s about how great they think waterboarding is.

    This seems like a dilemma. Personally, I’d vote “yes, it’s unethical”; but what message would that send? Assuming the poll is going to be pharyngulated in this direction, whether or not this is to our intended goal (to further our view of the world) would be determined by whom this result is attributed to. Anyone reading the poll result of a majority condemning torture might say, “apparently, it’s not true religious people tend to justify torture – they are not so bad after all; maybe we should listen to what they have to say”. Whereas, if everyone voted “no, waterboarding is ethical”, the consequence might be closer to what we actually intend to achieve.

    These are pragmatic considerations. Nevertheless, I am going to vote “yes, it is unethical”.

  333. #334 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    I just read that DARPA had a secret multimillion dollar research project to weaponize flying elephants, but that it was canceled after several years without explanation…

    … and the bumblebee was the prototype?

    p.s.: Enough spamming for now, excuse me :/ Lunchtime.

  334. #335 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh @ 324

    The shorter leg grew longer in a prayer circle? If someone, whether they were there and witnessed this insane event, or whom were not there but claim it to be true told me this, In would not laugh but use the most vitriolic derision I can muster and end by judging them retarded. Of course there was no alleged sceptic witnessing these incidents; that explains the insane absurdity of it all. One wonders why a shorter leg will grow longer, yet a severed leg will not regenerate at all. It isn’t hard to equate insanity with religious delusions.

  335. #336 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Holbach (#335), emotionally I perfectly agree with your sentiment

    If someone, whether they were there and witnessed this insane event, or whom were not there but claim it to be true told me this, In would not laugh but use the most vitriolic derision I can muster and end by judging them retarded.

    To preserve civic conversation, though, I answered somewhere along these lines (after that guy insisting on his question, around 1:15), only less eloquently.

    There. You got me. Still not off for lunch.

    *off, muttering*

  336. #337 Clemens
    May 11, 2009

    This is truly beautiful. Especially since just the other day I read a chapter in a German book titled “Gott” (God) where the author claimed that the discovery of quantum mechanics meant the end of reasonable atheism. You know, God twiddling around on the quantum level and the ascension just a very rare, yet perfectly plausible quantum event.

  337. #338 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Speaking of winged mammalians… I heard people say that there wouldn’t be a black man as president until pigs could fly. And then, three months later…swine flew (flu)! ;)…..(but, of course, you can’t see their wings either)

    ooooof

  338. #339 melior
    May 11, 2009

    I loved this story!

    My favorite part is Eagletosh’s confident insistence (as a blind man) that the wings are iridescent, and the nods of wondering agreement that this statement must have evoked in his (blind) followers.

    “They’re iridescent, people!”

    Simply brilliant.

  339. #340 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    Don’t forget all the folk tales about elephants trampling little children because their parents believed the wings were the wrong color… Or is that stretching the analogy too far? :D

  340. #341 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh @ 336

    I have seen that video of Richard Dawkins deriding that obviously religion strickened retard, and I suppose out of deference to not alienating the whole audience, he was somewhat mild with his rebuke. I would definitely not be so inclined to sympathetic understanding but would express precisely how religion has caused this person’s dementia through his own volition. To witness this insane outporing from this religious idiot would cause me to worry for the breakdown of rationality that seems to be in dire straits the more these examples are witnessed and known. As with insanity, these religion saturated morons have no inkling of how they sound or appear to rational minds. Scary.

  341. #342 Michelle
    May 11, 2009

    PZ, may I please reproduce this fable (giving you full credit, of course) on a discussion forum website for military personnel and veterans? I’m a veteran, but also a biologist, and I’ve become sick and tired of the idiotic Creationists and the blindly religious who seem to pervade the military. I think your parable here has the point put into terms that even some of the Creationists might be able to understand. In the very least, I want them to squirm a bit.

    So, may I have your permission? As I promised, I’ll give you full credit.

  342. #343 Ryan
    May 11, 2009

    Beautiful piece of writing – really, really lovely, witty and incisive. Awesome! Think I’m gonna have to save it.

  343. #344 penguinsaur
    May 11, 2009

    I like the quatum wings, just yesterday some idiot tried arguing with me that Quantum physics is weird=the over 99% of scientist who think a flood and 6000 year old earth is idiotic are dead wrong.

  344. #345 Larry_boy
    May 11, 2009

    Lies, I know elephants can fly, I have proof!

    http://engrishfunny.com/2009/05/10/engrish-elephants-safety/

    If elephants couldn’t fly, why would it be carved in stone that they can? Huh? I bet you can’t answer that one.

  345. #346 SC, OM
    May 11, 2009

    *checks in the morning after*

    Huh. Not too bad for posting while (slightly) plastered.

    btw, there’s nothing saying you can’t install a linux distro on a PC with Vista.

    Yup, then I think I’ll rebuild a transmission. There’s nothing saying I can’t.
    :)

    Seriously, I know nothing about this stuff.

    As for HP, regardless of whether it’s the best possible choice, it’s a good choice.

    Thanks. I know I may not have the same luck this time, but I’m going with the one that’s worked out well for me.

  346. #347 Fred the Hun
    May 11, 2009

    It’s OK Eric, when you finally arrive at the end of your journey and shed your mortal coils, you will then be able to witness the full glory of the shimmering iridescence of the elephant’s quantum wings for all eternity. Enjoy!

    Unless of course you screw up somehow and incur the wrath of the great elephant in the sky and end up in a steaming heap of elephant dung for the same eternity. Bummer!

    As for the rest of us, we will just cease to be conscious and our matter will be recycled in the ebb and flow of natural cycles. Cest La Vie!

  347. #348 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    “But this sort of thinking is exactly what most agnostics find ridiculous about religion and religious people, who seem incapable of looking at the world unless it?s through the prism of some kind of belief system. They seem to think that if one doesn?t believe in God, one must believe in something else, because to live without answers would be intolerable. ”

    No, we all don’t need answers for everything, but our self-awareness does demand an ability to make sense of the world around us, a worldview, or else we’d have a very disoriented engagement with the world.

    A worldview is how we perceive purpose, what motivates us to get up everyday, and strive the way we do, what we live for, and the questions that pertain to that, and that answers that we have for them.

  348. #349 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    I’m a mathematician by training, and I agree that math types think differently about the world than scientists.
    That our abstract entities seem so real makes us more willing to accept religion, or at least religious arguments. (I had a discussion about this with an atheist friend last year).

    Some important 20th century Soviet mathematicians seem to have been influenced by heterodox theological ideas. See
    Russian Mathematical Mystics”.

    But I think mathematical training also makes it easier to see the rhetorical/abstract nature of arguments against religion. Most of the arguments against theism in this thread would apply equally against the existence of beauty, love (or hate), or any other immaterial quality.(Lovingkindness, sunyata, metta, …)

    No one actually stops using these ideas (people still love their kids and their partners, people still like looking at pictures in museums and listening to Bach). You can argue that they are emtoions, explicable in material terms, and Darwin definitely has something to tell us about the emotions. But if I say, “Yes, we have emotions like many animals do, and they are a gift from God”, I don’t think I’m being like Coll… sorry, can’t spell that. I could spell Eagletosh.

    On mathematicians:
    I think E.O. Wilson in “Biophilia” makes a remark about mathematicians collecting examples the way naturalists collect species, or something like that.

  349. #350 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    Most of the arguments against theism in this thread would apply equally against the existence of beauty, love (or hate), or any other immaterial quality.

    That’s one of the oldest, hoariest, deadest arguments around, you know, and it’s completely bogus. Evolution is also an “immaterial quantity”, yet we can measure it. We even have criteria for assessing love — we do it all the time. These are phenomena that actually have effects in the world, and not just because people believe in love while it actually doesn’t exist.

  350. #351 Matt Heath
    May 11, 2009

    In The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett uses quantum as the Discworld equivalent of magic. Makes me wonder if Eagleton is from the Stolat Plains or Ankh-Morpork.

    Lancre. He’s one of the Nac Mac Feagletosh.

  351. #352 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    I’m getting a lot of requests to reproduce this. It’s a blog — knock yourself out. All I ask is proper attribution, and if you make a profit off of it, I get a cut. But hey, if you’re just putting it on a blog or website or newsletter, go ahead.

  352. #353 Kseniya
    May 11, 2009

    if Eagletosh (now Colleaglshins) was intended just as a straw counterpart to Mr. D, the story wouldn’t have any point except to prove that PZ Can Play That Game Too.

    Rudy, to me that reads like a false dichotomy. It’s both. This story, as many do, has more than one point, and yes, one of the points is “PZ Can Play That Game Too.”

    I suppose this comment is redundant by now, but there it is.

  353. #354 speedwell
    May 11, 2009

    Almond bread? Mandelbrot is biscotti, pure and simple. My grandmother and I make mandelbrot every time I fly out there to see her. A Mandelbrot set would, therefore, be a piece with a cup of coffee.

  354. #355 Yer Wan
    May 11, 2009

    The Mandelbrot set tastes like
    broccoli. Yum, yum.

  355. #356 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh, we don’t need your imaginary god and morally bankrupt religion for anything. Much less for meaning for life, which both only provide the illusion of. Quit bothering us with your woo, unless you are ready to show physical evidence for your alleged god.

  356. #357 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    It’s nice that you have a worldview to motivate you to get up and brush your teeth in the morning, Hithesh. Now, wouldn’t it be so much better if that worldview were not founded on lies?

  357. #358 Eamon Knight
    May 11, 2009

    (Oh man, 350 comments already. Teach me to go see Star Trek instead of monitoring my incoming RSS.)

    Couldn’t you have had the elephant just stomp Eagletosh, back at the start?

  358. #359 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    Nerd: “hithesh, we don’t need your imaginary god and morally bankrupt religion for anything. Much less for meaning for life, which both only provide the illusion of. Quit bothering us with your woo, unless you are ready to show physical evidence for your alleged god.”
    :)

    It’s a public site, and i can woo where i want to.

    And who do you think you are to demand of me anything? You demand that I do this, in order to respond on this site, and you act is i care about your silly demands? Get a life, and find another tree to bark at it.

  359. #360 Geek
    May 11, 2009

    Rudy #349:

    I’m a mathematician by training, and I agree that math types think differently about the world than scientists.

    That our abstract entities seem so real makes us more willing to accept religion, or at least religious arguments.

    I hope no one thinks, as a result of reading this, that mathematicians are unusually susceptible to religion. It doesn’t make any difference how much the methodologies of mathematicians and natural scientists differ. All that matters is that they both work: results build on each other to great heights without collapsing in a heap as they would if significant numbers of false ideas were lurking in the pool of accepted results. Lack of care to filter out false assertions would be a bad idea for mathematicians as well, so the contrast with religious thought is just as sharp.

  360. #361 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh, this is not a public site. It is PZ’s blog, which is considered private. So watch your attitude, as you can be banned if you prove obnoxious. Check the dungeon in the masthead for those who ran afoul of PZ’s rules. It also describes behavior that PZ considers a crime. Being an arrogant godbotting wanker is the easiest way to get there. You are on your way.

  361. #362 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    PZ Meyers “Evolution is also an “immaterial quantity”, yet we can measure it. We even have criteria for assessing love — we do it all the time. ”

    And you miss the point don’t you. We speak of love in non-scientific terms all the time. If you wife were to ask you why you loved, and you expounded on the biology of it, she’d probably slap you.

    In your other post you said you believed that if we all adapted the imagery of the star gazing child, to be a depiction of the human condition, we’d be living in a better world. Of course that’s not a scientific belief, but a statement of meaning and you expound on it as such, which according to you logic should be no different than your poor parody of Eagleton.

  362. #363 speedwell
    May 11, 2009

    …It’s a public site…

    Nope, babe, it’s PZ’s site.

  363. #364 windy
    May 11, 2009

    And after wading through a long, dreadfully boring exchange with Eric, with many responses to him substituting ad hominems for for substantive response (hint to David and Windy about making certain persons bad guys)

    Whatwhat? I forget which thread that was in, but we weren’t trying to.

    I’m staying with a friend in the woo capital of California — perhaps of this entire plane of existence.

    Glad you’re OK. I have to ask, what is the woo capital of California? SF?

  364. #365 Hollis Henry
    May 11, 2009

    Nicely done! One of your best yet.

  365. #366 FastLane
    May 11, 2009

    Eric’s Elephant poop:

    I think the Eagletons of the world would argue that while me may not have any scientific reasons to believe X, it doesn’t follow that we therefore have no reasons as such to believe X. This is another problem with the parable: The Eagletons of the world don’t simply make things up arbitrarily, and to even suggest that they do is intellectually dishonest.

    Well, no, Eagleton didn’t make things up arbitrarily. He just follows a book written by a bunch of bronze age goat herders who made things up arbitrarily…. HUGE difference. HUGE, I tells ya.

    Not to mention that people are still being forced to follow those beliefs at the end of a proverbial sword in parts of the world to this day. This isn’t a harmless joke about elephantine lack of wings. Those who believe as our also mythological Eagletosh are killing real people in the real fucking world on a daily basis. Just because the worst offenders are those who believe that elephants breath fire, but don’t have wings are the ones doing the killing, does not absolve the Eagletosh’s of the world from taking some responsibility for enabling the violent fire breathing elephantists (of peace).

  366. #367 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    If I told my wife that I loved her, and then slept around on her, treated her like a slave, said nasty things about her in public, and so forth, then she would be able to actually assess my love for her and realize that I was lying. Science is not about slide rules and graduated cylinders, you know — it’s about analyzing the evidence. And yes, human beings examine love scientifically and rationally all the time. Those that don’t end up in relationships that fall apart.

  367. #368 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    PZ Meyers

    Who?

  368. #369 UU4077
    May 11, 2009

    Is Eagletosh, perchance, an artist? a poet? a writer? Maybe he’s a philosopher?

  369. #370 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    I have to agree with several of the commenters above. THIS IS MY SITE, and I am both capricious and merciless.

    It’s amazing that some people don’t get that.

  370. #371 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh, PZ’s wife _actually exists_. So does mine. Unscientific discussions of our love for our spouses is rooted in the _reality_ of real people living out their lives. You appear to have confused this with your deep conviction that your imaginary friend exists and loves you. You might as well argue that because we give Christmas presents, Santa Claus must exist and have a palace at the North Pole.

  371. #372 Sven DiMilo
    May 11, 2009

    And yes, human beings examine love scientifically and rationally all the time. Those that don’t end up in relationships that fall apart.

    ‘Course that can happen to people that do, as well.

    (Twice, even.)

  372. #373 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    You might as well argue that because we give Christmas presents, Santa Claus must exist and have a palace at the North Pole.

    Wait

    Santa doesn’t exist or have a palace at the north pole?

  373. #374 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    Course that can happen to people that do, as well.

    Beat me to it,Sven.

  374. #375 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh:

    And you [PZ] miss the point don’t you.

    No. You do. Badly.

  375. #376 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    Maybe we’re touching on a major misunderstanding here: a lot of commentators seem to regard “science” as something cold and inhuman, done with slide rules and test tubes. In fact, it’s just the acquisition of knowledge, and can include any proposition for which, if we were wrong, we would know we were wrong. That’s why it’s ridiculous to make your god “scientifically untestable”; because that means your god _makes no difference_.

  376. #377 FastLane
    May 11, 2009

    Wowbagger:

    I can conceive of a magic watermelon that does Tom Waits covers in a German accent. What does that mean?

    It means you need to share the drugs, man….

  377. #378 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    Most of the arguments against theism in this thread would apply equally against the existence of beauty, love (or hate), or any other immaterial quality.(Lovingkindness, sunyata, metta, …)

    I see PZ stomped on this, too. Man, it?s irritating when people say crap like this. The elephant has properties that many agree on: purity of form and function, pleasing aesthetics. Others would agree that it is an ugly animal, bloated and snouty, but these are personal and social sentiments about what actually is. The goddamn elephant does not have wings, and though you sit around writing dissertations about them, wax poetically about the fineness of the feathers and admonish ever larger congregations of the dangers of not believing in them, though you may love them or hate them and feel kindly or not toward them?they do not exist except in someone?s overactive imagination. Why do you guys keep trying to blur the line between the real world?or as close as we can get to it?and the imaginary?

    Why do you insist on mischaracterizing scientists as being so cold and skeptical that they?re stupid?

  378. #379 Matt Heath
    May 11, 2009

    On the non-physical existence of mathematical objects, by a mathematician.

    The philosophical foundations of maths are somewhat interesting in their own right but they really don’t matter to anything else. Whether something like the category of all groups “really” exists in a Platonic realm, or is part of an elaborate fictional story or is a move in a formal game doesn’t make any difference to the practice of pure mathematics, let alone to anything about the world in which we live. Your God just doesn’t matter.

    And so it is with the more philosophical versions of God or gods. You can define in the abstract what they are. You can reason about them based on your definitions (although this has a dreadful track record of letting in hidden assumptions). Some philosophers may be able to say that the word “exist” applies to your abstraction and others will say not. The difference between there arguments will be things that make no difference to the world: not just in terms of things with SI units but no difference to what beauty or goodness or love is.

    The existence or not of these things just doesn’t matter. If they proved themselves to build useful models of things around us (as a tiny subset of all possible maths does) they would be of great worth, but this is true whether of not they are really real (and FWIW they have a shit record).

    So spin your philosophers gods all day long, but don’t expect anyone to care much whether they really exist of not, any more than people care much whether the axiom of choice is “really true”.

  379. #380 Mu
    May 11, 2009

    so many posts, and no one has answered the only important question: How much do you have to lead the flying elephant with a .416 rigby at 80 yards?

  380. #381 SeanJJordan
    May 11, 2009

    I enjoyed that. Thanks!

  381. #382 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Holbach (#341), while I agree with your statement

    I have seen that video of Richard Dawkins deriding that obviously religion strickened retard, and I suppose out of deference to not alienating the whole audience, he was somewhat mild with his rebuke.

    that Dawkins was somewhat mild, the title of the youtube-video alone implies how “cruel” it appears to some people not to believe them. Dawkins was, on the face of it, far from cruel or even insulting, and yet, the simple “I do not believe you” is sufficient to insult people not used to being questioned. It is nothing original to emphasize that religious beliefs even hold a special position in the eyes of many. So, I guess it is, for the people convinced of their deluded ideas’ reality, drastic enough just to deny their credibility; it’s a fine line not to cross if you want to continue the conversation, whatever it is worth.

    Among like-minded people like you, one may of course be more outspoken than that.

    @PZ’s #370,

    I am both capricious and merciless

    Waaaaiiit a minute… that remiiiinds me of someone… who was it again…

    *scratches his head*

    *stares at a tattered bible*

    PZ = God?

  382. #383 Professor Eagletosh
    May 11, 2009

    I did not say the wings of elephants are quantum.

    My detractors, whom, for the purposes of rhetorical onanism I will contract to “Lurly”, lacking a sense of poetry, confuse “quantum” with the “quantum of solace”, that existential consolation yearning to be satisfied in the hearts and groins of humanity. The erstwhile and archetypal poetic Everyman, the man from Nantucket, desires to have genital reassignment surgery performed on his pinna, (and indeed wipes his mouth with relish at the prospect), while the merely prosaically-inclined Lurly dreams of a cochlear implant. His feet are on the ground, while the wing-ed elephants and all their fellow travelers are soaring the heights of imagination and wonder.

    The wings of elephants, being of one substance with this imaginative sense, are gossamer thin and of course quite useless for the purposes of mere flight. That is the whole point of gossamer wings, that they be useless. “Lurly” fails to see this. Indeed, he is quite blind and continues to fist elephants in his efforts to acquire mere knowledge.

  383. #384 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    Why do you insist on mischaracterizing scientists as being so cold and skeptical that they?re stupid?

    Because it suits their sophistic aims to do so.

    Same as it ever was.

  384. #385 Sven DiMilo
    May 11, 2009

    for the purposes of rhetorical onanism

    Stealin’ it.

    The erstwhile and archetypal poetic Everyman, the man from Nantucket, desires to have genital reassignment surgery performed on his pinna

    Laughin’ out loud at it.

  385. #386 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    I will contract to “Lurly”

    Not “Marly”?

  386. #387 Matt Heath
    May 11, 2009

    Um the order my sentences at 379 got a bit mangled. Some editing fail with an accidental “paste” ignore first ref to a god.

  387. #388 ???
    May 11, 2009

    Nope, babe, it’s PZ’s site.

    Yes, because PZ owns Seed Media. We’ve been over this before.

  388. #389 li3crmp
    May 11, 2009

    Skimmed the thread and just wanted to point out that one of the notorious Four Horsemen is, himself, a philosopher.

  389. #390 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh, you are sadly mistaken if you think PZ = God?

    Who is known for being Merciless?

  390. #391 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    His feet are on the ground, while the wing-ed elephants and all their fellow travelers are soaring the heights of imagination and wonder.

    Well, not really. What these Dumbo riders (whom I will unimaginatively contract to ?Lurvers,? lacking a sense of veracity) are actually doing is grasping fistfuls of wrinkly grey flesh, closing their eyes, and letting others take them on a journey into imagination. They themselves are not all that imaginative and require others to do all the detailed mental work. The result is: they only soar so high.

    Meanwhile, scientists, who conceive of actually flying, are building flying machines.

  391. #392 !!!
    May 11, 2009

    Yes, because PZ owns Seed Media. We’ve been over this before.

    Yes, we have. Over and over, point after pointless point.

    Don’t be an idiot. At least try.

  392. #393 ???
    May 11, 2009

    Don’t be an idiot. At least try.

    That’s an incomplete thought. Try what?

  393. #394 Buridan
    May 11, 2009

    Who of the “Eagletoshes” argue that their “winged elephant” is simply poetical, simply metaphorical, simply allegorical, simply symbolic, simply subjective, simply Shakespearian-like tales, parables, myths or moral exemplars?

    Religionists always seem to use this equivocation when backed into a corner ? one which gets exceedingly smaller over time. We can all find meaning in poetry, parables, and fiction, but this is decidedly not the ground on which the “Eagletoshes” wage their war on science.

    And, if you’re one of those who wish to argue for the “best” of both worlds, in what existential space does that other world exist if it’s not simply poetical, metaphorical, allegorical, symbolic, literary, moral or subjective? The issue here is not simply about what is meangful?

  394. #395 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Skimmed the thread and just wanted to point out that one of the notorious Four Horsemen is, himself, a philosopher.


    Which one
    ? Ric, Arn, Ole or Tully?

  395. #396 &&&
    May 11, 2009

    Try to read this:

    We believe in providing our bloggers with the freedom to exercise their own editorial and creative instincts. We do not edit their work and we do not tell them what to write about.

  396. #397 ???
    May 11, 2009

    Try to read this:

    Okay, I tried to read it, and succeeded in my efforts. Now what?

  397. #398 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Indeed, he is quite blind and continues to fist elephants in his efforts to acquire mere knowledge.

    Do you have a better way of pregnancy testing them?

  398. #399 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Janine (#390), as to having seen

    Who is known for being Merciless

    I can only cringe in terror of the revelation… yet, Flash Gordon was before my time, the only connection I have to the series is the fact that Queen was the first band I considered myself being a “fan” of. Nevertheless, “Merciless Ming” strikes a chord. Might be because I played Jade Empire recently.

  399. #400 %%%
    May 11, 2009

    Now what?

    Hmmm. Anybody have any suggestions?

  400. #401 John Bode
    May 11, 2009

    What is the airspeed of an unladen elephant?

  401. #402 !!!
    May 11, 2009

    That’s an incomplete thought. Try what?

    Wow! You’re actually too stupid to figure it out? Really? That’s impressive, though not totally surprising for someone intent on once again pursuing the pointless “blog ownership” argument. Or are you being intentionally obtuse because you mistakenly believe that you’ve failed to convince everyone that you’re a gaping asshole?

    Obviously, PZ Myers doesn’t own Seed Media. However, for all practical purposes he has dominion over Pharyngula, and that’s what’s being discussed. Got it yet?

  402. #403 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    Is this still the religious wars thread?

    I used to have an SGI Indigo on my desk at work for 3D and next to it, a Mac IIFX, running the first Photoshop. Later the spouse and I bought a Quadra 950 instead of the 840AV she’d been running at work. It survived the Northridge Quake and a two-bookcase avalanche. When Softimage came out for NT, I could do my 3D and 2D on the same box.

    A few years ago I played with Suse and Redhat and Windows 2000 on a PC assembled just for fun. The Power Tower Pro Apple clone was orphaned by Apple’s vertical hardware/OS upgrades. The more recent Apples are fun to play with at school. For me, Apple’s current appeal, apart from the slick GUI, is nostalgia for Unix. When it’s time for a laptop, I’ll likely go Apple.

    At home, EVGA makes a lot of my hardware (I tried an SLI system, but decided one GPU was enough and built a new system around the extra video card for the spouse rather than make her inherit an older system. Parity at last! So, at the moment, what’s plugged in are two Vistas and an XP. Like Kel, I like to push those frame rates on games, most of mine are through Steam. Valve’s development tools are worth enduring Vista for now. Otherwise, the dead tech museum is in storage.

  403. #404 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Posted by: John Bode | May 11, 2009

    What is the airspeed of an un Greg laden elephant?

  404. #405 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    PZ Myers: “It’s nice that you have a worldview to motivate you to get up and brush your teeth in the morning, Hithesh. Now, wouldn’t it be so much better if that worldview were not founded on lies?”

    Well, it’s not just me who has a worldview, but we all do, it’s a part of being human, your image of the child gazing at the stars is what you yourself proposed as the center of it, the power you afford this imagery to make the world a better place, is all a part of that world view, and it’s no less of a lie or less superstitious than my own.

    In fact I’d say that mines is far more grounded in reality than your own, it’s not founded on a disneyland notion of human nature, or the naive magical thinking that leads you to believe the star gazing child is the aspiring image of the human condition.

    What’s odd is you can profess to see the sawdust in the eyes of other, and fail to see the log in your own. There’s magical thinking at it’s best.

  405. #406 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh @ 382
    Yes, the religion afflicted do not like to questioned on their insane beliefs, and when done so react with outrage and umbrage. I always get the usual reply, as do we all, that how can I be certain there is no imaginary(my word, not theirs) god and what if there was? My reply is that this god will most definitely reveal itself in any physical manner if it exists, and when I die all life and thoughts of a god ceases, as with you, but I die knowing there has never been a god, but you will die and you will never know. This last is enough to frustrate them and walk away in a huff, preferably with a mind disordered by my blatant and provoking comments. Suffer, you morons.

  406. #407 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    What is the airspeed of an unladen elephant?

    African or Asian?

  407. #408 ???
    May 11, 2009

    Wow! You’re actually too stupid to figure it out?

    No, I just don’t like to make assumptions.

    Really?

    No, fakely.

    That’s impressive, though not totally surprising for someone intent on once again pursuing the pointless “blog ownership” argument.

    Where did I pursue the argument? I didn’t even know it was on the run, to be honest.

    Or are you being intentionally obtuse because you mistakenly believe that you’ve failed to convince everyone that you’re a gaping asshole?

    I resent that remark! How dare you insinuate that I am greater than 90 degrees! I’ll have you know that my angle is only pi/2.2 radians!

    Obviously, PZ Myers doesn’t own Seed Media.

    Oh, but he does. We’ve been over this before. Please try to keep up!

    he has dominion over Pharyngula

    Dominion? Didn’t they sell out to A&P back in the eighties?

    Got it yet?

    Got what? Swine flu? No, not yet.

  408. #409 ???
    May 11, 2009

    What is the airspeed of an unladen elephant?

    About the same as an elephant being ridden by bin laden.

  409. #410 logicamente
    May 11, 2009

    Isn’t it the case that you have faith that love (the emotion of love) exists?
    Atheists accept that some things are of necessity taken “on faith,” so why not accept God “on faith”?

  410. #411 !!!
    May 11, 2009

    So it’s to be childish wiseassery, then? Have at it.

  411. #412 KI
    May 11, 2009

    @410
    I’ve been “in love”. I love the Grateful Dead and the E Street Band. I love flowers and bugs and vegetable gardening, driving fast and smoking grass. None of this requires “faith”. Love exists, though it is hard to quantify. Gods are entirely imaginary.

  412. #413 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    @Logicamente #410: Ah, now I have a pet theory that I call “selective irrationality” that I would like to put forth. I think it is okay to be irrational about certain things if three conditions are met: One, you have to be aware you are being irrational about it. Two, you can’t expect anyone else to believe it or try to get them to believe it. And three, you have to be careful that this irrationality is not causing significant harm to yourself or others, and be willing to let go of it if it does.

    I believe — and I mean it, I literally believe this — that my wife and I were fated to be together. I see all sorts of things in our life stories that seem to make this obviously true. But I am also aware this is an irrational belief. I don’t expect anyone else to believe it. And although I believe it with all my heart today, if there were to come a time when it was expedient for us to terminate our relationship, I know I would have to revisit this belief and decide if it is still right for me.

    The problem with many (not all, but many) religions is that they don’t meet all of these criteria. Biblical literalists fail the first criterion. Any religion that proselytizes (and for the record, asking us “why not believe in God?” counts) violates the second criterion. And when Rick Warren says things like “surrendered people do what God says even if it doesn’t make sense,” you’d better believe that violates the third criterion.

    Daniel Dennett has put forth the idea of an “avirulent” religion. In my mind, it would have to be one that met those three criteria I listed above. If any of those criteria are violated, you’ve got something really dangerous on your hands.

  413. #414 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Atheists accept that some things are of necessity taken “on faith,” so why not accept God “on faith”?

    Why not accept the little green leprechaun on my shoulder on faith?

  414. #415 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Let’s see.

    1) Atheist accept the notion of love on faith.

    2) God is love.

    3) Therefore, atheists should accept the notion of God on faith.

    Logicamente, could you use your blinding brilliance to determine which God which we should accept?

  415. #416 KI
    May 11, 2009

    I should point out that I never, ever combine smoking grass and driving fast.

  416. #417 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    I think it is okay to be irrational about certain things if three conditions are met: One, you have to be aware you are being irrational about it. Two, you can’t expect anyone else to believe it or try to get them to believe it. And three, you have to be careful that this irrationality is not causing significant harm to yourself or others, and be willing to let go of it if it does.

    Ha, my Azathoth-cult has just been intellectually vindicated!

  417. #418 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    PZ Myers: And yes, human beings examine love scientifically and rationally all the time. Those that don’t end up in relationships that fall apart.

    Let’s get something straight, we can speak of love rationally and not speak of it scientifically. You would like to believe all our rational ways of conveyance, are scientific when in fact they’re not. If I were to express the meaning I found in a painting, this expression is aesthetic one, not a scientific one.

    You seem to imply that abusive husband doesn’t scientifically love his wife, and it’s a lie if he says he does. You can rationally make a case for that, and some may even make a case that regardless of his failures, he does love his wife, but you can’t make a scientific case for that either way. We’d have to agree on your subjective standard of love, in order to agree if the man loved his wife or not, but science is not about subjective values. It is beyond the ability of science to define what true love is, just as it is to define what morality is, or the meaning of one’s life is or should be. Science may inform these views, but it’s capable of defining them. Though we speak of these notions rationally, don’t confuse this with a fairy tale that we’re speak of them scientifically.

    I know you’d like to believe that science is all encompassing, but its not. And you as a scientist should know better.

  418. #419 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    In fact I’d say that mines is far more grounded in reality than your own.

    Any belief based upon imaginary deities and biblical fairy tales is inferior to reality. You haven’t shown your deity exists, so you are just a delusional fool until you show the physical evidence for your alleged god.

  419. #420 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh #418: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your argument boils down to “The word love is poorly defined, therefore science cannot define it.” :p

  420. #421 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    In fact I’d say that mines is far more grounded in reality than your own, it’s not founded on a disneyland notion of human nature, or the naive magical thinking that leads you to believe the star gazing child is the aspiring image of the human condition.

    I actually agree with you. The current state of the human condition is all too often more precisely represented by a man being tortured by being nailed to boards. We are certainly programmed to be endlessly preoccupied with this (and similar) macabre concept. Do you think we can change that? For the better? Is it ennobling to even try? Or not? (Which, by the way, was the whole point of PZ?s earlier post, was it not?)

  421. #422 CJO
    May 11, 2009

    Isn’t it the case that you have faith that love (the emotion of love) exists?

    Not if you mean the only way to ascertain whether the emotion of love exists as it is commonly defined is to take it on faith.

    Atheists accept that some things are of necessity taken “on faith,”

    This one doesn’t.

    so why not accept God “on faith”?

    First and foremost, because I have never in my life had an experience that appeared to involve or require a transcendant entity of any kind. Secondarily, because a cursory glance around the world’s religious traditions tells me that “faith” gives the answer you wanted all along –it’s just a euphamism for “wishful thinking.” Faith can’t be trusted, or it would find the same object acrross cultures and traditions. Clearly it does not.

    Shorter: “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

  422. #423 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Kel @ 313:

    In relationship to physical evidence for God, if one claims that there can be no physical evidence for God then they are conceding that God does not interact with the world, it takes any concept of the supernatural and relegates it to deism. If God physically interacted with the world then there should be evidence. Even if God is in the supernatural realm, in order to influence the natural God has to interface with the natural. Otherwise the natural remains unchanged. Thus any god that cannot have physical evidence has to be deistic in nature and unknowable my humans.

    Suppose a scientist were able to travel back in time to the wedding feast at Cana and test the contents of the water jars. He is able to confirm that they contain water.

    Scientist leaves the room.

    Jesus performs His miracle.

    Scientist returns.

    Scientist tests the contents of the pots again and is able to confirm that they now contain wine.

    Based on his observations, our scientist cannot make any further comment on what has occurred.

    What “physical evidence” do you expect? Do you imagine the wine will contain faint traces of God particles?

  423. #424 Sven DiMilo
    May 11, 2009

    Scientist leaves the room.

    Wait, why?

  424. #425 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Holy Shit! Did the Hoax just use time travel as part of the reason why one cannot scientifically prove the existence of god?

    ‘Head crashes into keyboard.’

  425. #426 Anath
    May 11, 2009

    Looks like the Asians are way ahead of this us on this discovery:

    http://engrishfunny.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/engrish-funny-elephants-safety.jpg?w=500&h=375

  426. #427 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh @324:

    And of course Our Lady of Fatima. Conspicuously, never is there an alleged sceptic witnessing these incidents.

    Obviously you didn’t read your own Wiki link:

    Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal’s most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical), reported the following: “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws …”

  427. #428 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Wait, why?

    It’s a wedding feast. To get laid, of course.

  428. #429 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Scientist leaves the room.Jesus performs His miracle.Scientist returns.

    Unless the room was guarded inside, a scientist would say a fraud had occurred. Since matter was made out of nothing, there should be some energy readings and the like that are out of kilter. If not, look for the trap door for the tunnel. Miracles are fiction (frauds) until proven otherwise with good hard evidence.

  429. #430 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    Is it just me or is the feeling shared that to try to answer a certain kind of question by people with a certain set of mind is a rather futile, tedious attempt doomed to repetition?

  430. #431 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    Extrapolating MAJeff’s comments in #428… does this mean that the only reason us atheists haven’t seen evidence of God’s existence is because every time He performed a miracle, we were in the other room getting laid?!

    Hmmm… I suppose one might call this an “erotic epistemology?”

  431. #432 CJO
    May 11, 2009

    Suppose a scientist were able to travel back in time to the wedding feast at Cana and test the contents of the water jars. He is able to confirm that they contain water.

    But then gets distracted, ’cause Holy Shit! Is that Dionysius over there?

  432. #433 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    Gorogh @#324: “And of course Our Lady of Fatima. Conspicuously, never is there an alleged sceptic witnessing these incidents.”

    Of course, in the very wikipedia article to which you linked, there *is* mention of an alleged skeptic witnessing the miracle of the sun.

    “Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal’s most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical),[1] reported the following: “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people.””

    According to other internet sources (I haven’t checked any of this extensively!) Almeida had published a satirical and skeptical article about the alleged miracles at Fatima just a few days earlier.

  433. #434 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    Piltdown Man,

    You just described a scenario in which the scientist would have no reason not to continue being skeptical, as not only did he not see the “miracle” being performed, but has seen with his own eyes (from his own time) the most astonishing illusions and sleight of hand tricks ? often done without the need for sophisticated, modern technology. And in any case, what you describe as a ?miracle? was actually the misinterpretation of the event by some of Jesus? followers who didn?t see him quickly (and innocently) exchange the urn of water with one filled with wine?prove me wrong.

  434. #435 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Stephen: “You appear to have confused this with your deep conviction that your imaginary friend exists and loves you. You might as well argue that because we give Christmas presents, Santa Claus must exist and have a palace at the North Pole.”

    Yes, one of my favorite equations. I don’t have any deep conviction that a imaginary friend exists. There no big old bearded white dude in the sky here. God’s love and the love one finds abound him are not two. Just as the slaves belief “In we shall overcome”, or a Rev. Kings belief “in a way out of no way” and belief in God don’t equal two.

    If our common atheist where a bit more inquisitive they’d understand why this is so, the what it means when Eagleton claims that God is a condition of possibility.

    The slaves belief, “in we shall overcome”, Rev. Kings belief “in a way out of no way”, is a belief in that which can make this possible.

    I believe in the transformative power of love, it’s ability to heal our condition, as the only means to overcome hate and indifference, the last remnant of hope and saving grace in the world. This beliefs and God don’t equal two, because God is only that which can make this possible, compared to if we were to say a leprechaun, for which the belief would not just be “in that which makes this possible”, but also in attributes unrelated to this, such as a belief in tiny sized men, who are of green color, wear funny hats, and place gold at the end of rainbows.

  435. #436 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Is it just me or is the feeling shared that to try to answer a certain kind of question by people with a certain set of mind is a rather futile, tedious attempt doomed to repetition?

    Godbots lack imagination, so they tend toward the same stupid arguments. They also put their hands over their ears so they will hear nothing against their idiocy.

  436. #437 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Sven DiMilo @ 424:

    Scientist leaves the room.

    Wait, why?

    Okay, suppose he stays and witnesses the miracle. There is still no physical evidence that a miracle has occurred, that the waterpots formerly contained water. Even if our hypothetical scientist accepted that what he had witnessed was no conjuring trick and became a fervent follower of Jesus there and then, there would be nothing he could present to a sceptical colleague for analysis when he returned to his own time.

  437. #438 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2009

    Weird. Scientist gets a time machine, and uses it to visit a Jewish wedding? If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t waste it on something so trivial. I’d be going straight to the Cambrian.

  438. #439 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws …”

    Funny how this was not witnessed in the rest of the world. It must be the same type of event as the Sun stopping over one city but the rest of the world did not witness an extra long day.

    Also funny how god can somethings violate all physical laws a handful of times, proving that it exists but cannot too often so us of us know. Oh, yeah, right, having faith in an authority figure is better then actually knowing a fact.

  439. #440 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh — if your definition of God is “that which makes it possible for slaves to become free,” then yes, I believe in God. God is the end result of a long political struggle. Sure, I believe that exists. I would just probably use a different word for it, because that’s an oddball definition of God…

    Honestly, Hithesh, I think your problem is that you have not precisely defined a lot of the words you are using.

  440. #441 Lynna
    May 11, 2009

    James @431: ROTFL. I will probably steal “erotic epistemology” from you, just warning you.

    I’m not sure the premise works, though. In #433 it was reported that “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, …”

    A biblical aspect, even standing bare-headed could be construed as engaged in erotic coupling while also witnessing signs from god, god, oh god.

  441. #442 Owlmirror
    May 11, 2009
    Scientist leaves the room.

    Wait, why?

    God is peculiarly impotent to perform his magic under close and careful observation.

  442. #443 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead @ 429:

    Since matter was made out of nothing, there should be some energy readings and the like that are out of kilter.

    God laughs at your tricorder.

    James Sweet @ 431:

    Extrapolating MAJeff’s comments in #428… does this mean that the only reason us atheists haven’t seen evidence of God’s existence is because every time He performed a miracle, we were in the other room getting laid?!

    In a manner of speaking.

  443. #444 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    There is still no physical evidence that a miracle has occurred.

    Wrong fraudbreath. If the jars were sampled prior to the miracle and after the miracle, showing the change from water to wine. That would be physical evidence.

    Your god either acts in the physical world doing miracles, and then we can find physical evidence for him, or he is a philosophical god who doesn’t interact with world. Make up your mind which one he is and live with the consequences of that decision.

  444. #445 Kingasaurus
    May 11, 2009

    So, this deep in the thread, what we’re getting from the usual suspects is the assertion that – firstly – the water-to-wine thing is more likely to be a genuine “miracle” than a trick (paging David Hume), and secondly – we should also expect that “real miracles” would leave absolutely zero evidence that would could use to distinguish it from sleight-of-hand.

    We’re also being told we should have some confidence that Fatima is a “real miracle,” with the implicit assumption that a crowd of people STARING INTO THE SUN won’t cause them to see anything weird or unusual, like – oh, I don’t know – the Sun appearing to move around or wobble.

    You guys are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

  445. #446 God
    May 11, 2009

    I don’t have any deep conviction that a imaginary friend exists. There no big old bearded white dude in the sky here. God’s love and the love one finds abound him are not two. Just as the slaves belief “In we shall overcome”, or a Rev. Kings belief “in a way out of no way” and belief in God don’t equal two.

    If our common atheist where a bit more inquisitive they’d understand why this is so, the what it means when Eagleton claims that God is a condition of possibility.

    So… just to clarify, you’re saying that I am not a person at all, merely a hypothetical of hope?

    I ask only for information.

  446. #447 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    James Sweet @ 431:

    Extrapolating MAJeff’s comments in #428… does this mean that the only reason us atheists haven’t seen evidence of God’s existence is because every time He performed a miracle, we were in the other room getting laid?!

    In a manner of speaking.

    By a time traveling Satan who has to work hard having sex with people in order to distract them from gaining true knowledge of god. Satan must be one tired bastard.

  447. #448 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    @Piltdown Man (#427),

    Obviously you didn’t read your own Wiki link

    I admit that it was more a rhethorical allusion to miracles witnessed by people already inclined to believe them, so I did not read the article fully. But you are right in this regard, that an alleged sceptic, Mr. de Almeida, seems to have been part in the witness, which diminishes my point of argument somewhat. Yet I may formulate the hypothesis that miracles are, in a statistically significant manner, witnessed more frequently by people without a uncompromisingly sceptical background.

    That is, granted that Mr. de Almeida happens to be as impeccably sceptical and above suspicion of mass delusion as his the preliminary events and his affiliation to an “anti-clerical newspaper” suggest; and that Father John de Marchi’s report is accurate on de Almeida’s testimony.

  448. #449 God
    May 11, 2009

    God is peculiarly impotent to perform his magic under close and careful observation.

    I will be glad to smite you so as to demonstrate My existence — but I will only do so when you don’t expect it.

    Oh, and stop looking at Me.

  449. #450 Satan
    May 11, 2009

    God laughs at your tricorder.

    God laughs at your Eucharist.

    Truth be told, God is rather easily amused.

  450. #451 Gorogh
    May 11, 2009

    Mhrmm I always expected god to write in capital letters… you know, like Pratchett’s Death.

    *still a little suspicious*

  451. #452 Matt Heath
    May 11, 2009

    Natural effects that would produce what was seem above Fátima (and by people some distance away) are known and understood. On the other hand stuff like this is the best argument I’ve seen for the supernatural – certainly worth more than all the Feagletosh theology in the world. What you had was some shepherd-kids claiming to have been told (by the mother of Jesus) to expect a miracle on given time and place, this being widely publicized and then something impressive and unlikely happening at specified point in space-time.

    It’s certainly not proof that the children’s story was true, but it was at least evidence, in a Bayesian sense. If you count in all the publicized predictions of miracles through history where nothing happened and it was forgotten and also consider that things as impressive as occurred at Fátima have been faked by magicians (and that there was certainly motive to fake it) it isn’t strong evidence; it shifts my level belief that a god can control the weather from “minuscule” to “very slightly less minuscule”. Still, it’s the best type of argument for God I’ve seen and the sophisticated theologians seem embarrassed of it. Very strange.

  452. #453 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 11, 2009

    <heaping more praise on comment 235>

    Just how many languages do you know?

    Not M?ori. I just read the proverb somewhere. :-) German (native), English, French; 6 years of Latin at school; 4 years of Russian at school (which, especially 9 years afterwards, is not enough); way too little Mandarin*; I’m starting Spanish. Also, with French and Latin and some theoretical knowledge of linguistics (that is, how sound shifts work), I can read scientific articles in Spanish and Italian.

    * The limiting factor is the writing system. If you don’t sit down every day and write a line of every character you know, you forget all but the graphically simplest ones very quickly. Obviously, I don’t have time for that, and that basically means I can’t learn any more vocabulary. Sure, learning words without the characters is feasible, but in this day & age it wouldn’t help much. In sum, I took a few beginners’ courses, stopped, and forgot most of the characters I had known at one time or another. :-) And then, of course, you start forgetting the tones. Learning a tonal language, if you don’t start very early, is, well, not trivial.

    SC, I’m beta testing Firefox 3.5b4 for Macs (PPC version), and SB has been blowing up at least twice a day. It started with the “improvements”. Safari works fine, but doesn’t have the add-ons.

    Take that, Firefox disciples!!!1!

    I hereby confirm that Safari on Mac works fine. Probably it simply ignores the more complicated stuff, while Internet Explorer 7 for Windows tries to parse it and takes 10 seconds for it, overheating my laptop (the ventilator gears up like mad when I try to scroll down for the first time on a page).

    Hmm. Interesting. Firefox 2.0.0.17 on the same Mac (a G5) appears to work fine. Apparently the ScienceBorg tried to implement some extra-complicated gadgets and did it wrong.

    Is platonic realism a scientific theory?

    If it were wrong, would it be possible to find that out?

    If yes, then it is scientific. If no, it’s not.

    I escaped from the fires, smoke, and ash in Santa Barbara but hope to return home tomorrow.

    Sounds like good news!

    Speaking of beliefs, I notice that Ken Kope in #102 and David Marjanovi? in #181 talked sensibly of their beliefs being grounded in evidence, and there are other mentions of belief that recognize that beliefs can be grounded in evidence or not grounded in evidence, and no one took objection. I strongly suspect that everyone here understands what the word means except when they’re in the midst of defending clearly mistaken claims about it.

    Good observation.

    As someone who has been running various Linux distributions since Yggdrasil, I would say that’s not a good idea for anyone who doesn’t think of their computer as a hobby unto itself.

    Even better observation :-)

    My (highly limited) experience is: Windows doesn’t let you do anything yourself (unless maybe if you’re a Grand Master who dares messing with the Registry); Linux forces you to do everything yourself, and if you don’t know how, you’re out of luck.

    And yes, human beings examine love scientifically and rationally all the time. Those that don’t end up in relationships that fall apart.

    Best wording of this so far.

    Yes, because PZ owns Seed Media.

    Dude, if he starts banning people left and right for shits & giggles (imagine the wizard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail), do you really think the Seed Overlords will do anything about it?

  453. #454 Janine, OMnivore
    May 11, 2009

    Truth be told, God is rather easily amused.

    Is god also easily distracted by bright shiny objects.

    And Satan, how tiring is it to travel through time in order to have sex with people and thus, distracting them from witnessing god’s miracle? Or do you claim that having sex with you is a miracle?

  454. #455 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead @ 444:

    If the jars were sampled prior to the miracle and after the miracle, showing the change from water to wine. That would be physical evidence.

    Not to anyone who didn’t witness the miracle. They would just be separate samples of water and wine. I would have to take the witness’ word for it that they were extracted from the same body of liquid before and after a transformation.

  455. #456 God
    May 11, 2009

    God laughs at your Eucharist.

    It was funny for the first fifteen centuries. Now it’s mostly only good for a slight chuckle, although I do admit to an occasional guffaw when they do something particularly baroque like put the silly thing in a monstrance.

    Truth be told, God is rather easily amused.

    Shush! Stop giving away My secrets!

    Only I am allowed to do that.

  456. #457 rubberduck
    May 11, 2009

    Am I the only pilot in this forum ? I have actually SEEN these creatures in the air! And they are not dark as described, but rather whiteish and fluffy…

  457. #458 ???
    May 11, 2009

    Dude, if he starts banning people left and right for shits & giggles (imagine the wizard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail), do you really think the Seed Overlords will do anything about it?

    They would probably bring in Dick to the Dawk to the Ph.D. (smarter than you, got a science degree) to replace him.

  458. #459 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Not to anyone who didn’t witness the miracle.

    Wrong again Fraudbreath. Scientists, unlike godbots like yourself who tell falsehoods right and left, try to be scrupulously honest in their professional work. This gives us a degree of trust. This allows us to trust, but we also verify where possible.

    We have verified you have lied several times. Hence, we don’t trust anything you say.

  459. #461 Satan
    May 11, 2009

    Still, it’s the best type of argument for God I’ve seen and the sophisticated theologians seem embarrassed of it. Very strange.

    No, not really. “Sophisticated theologians” are psychologically invested in thinking they know all about what God is and what God does, and they are pretty much arguing from a conception of God as distant from reality, and uninvolved with humans. At most, they think of God as acting by slight and undetectable manipulations of physical events, much like a theistic evolutionist thinks of all of those tiny Divine mutations.

    Something big and flashy and obvious is actually rather an embarrassment to them.

  460. #462 God
    May 11, 2009

    Something big and flashy and obvious is actually rather an embarrassment to them.

    Why else would I do it?

  461. #463 Tulse
    May 11, 2009

    If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t waste it on something so trivial. I’d be going straight to the Cambrian.

    Ack! Don’t do it, PZ — one literal misstep and you could squash a key distant ancestor of humans, and leave our future populated only by large tentacled things.

    Hey…wait just a minute here…

  462. #464 God
    May 11, 2009

    Is god also easily distracted by bright shiny objects.

    It depends on how bored I am.

    And Satan, how tiring is it to travel through time in order to have sex with people and thus, distracting them from witnessing god’s miracle? Or do you claim that having sex with you is a miracle?

    Satan does not have sex. Nor do I. We are bodiless and immaterial entities.

    Distracting people from seeing miracles is pretty much a matter of simply saying: “Look over there! It’s the Wingéd Victory of Samothrace!”. You would be surprised at how often that works.

  463. #465 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Which one? Ric, Arn, Ole or Tully?

    Just? wow. For absolutely any topic of human knowledge, there seems to be an expert on it right here among the readership.
    :-o

    Isn’t it the case that you have faith that love (the emotion of love) exists?

    No. Instead, it’s the case that you have failed to read comment 367.

    To comment on a thread without having read all of it is evil.

    so why not accept God “on faith”?

    Comment 415 for a start?

    It is beyond the ability of science to define what true love is

    Oh, please. Making up definitions isn’t the job of science. Definitions are arbitrary conventions! Nomenclature isn’t science, however convenient for science it can be.

    Finding out whether something conforms to a particular definition, that can be the job of science (wherever logic alone doesn’t suffice).

  464. #466 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Just? wow. For absolutely any topic of human knowledge, there seems to be an expert on it right here among the readership

    Pfft. I’m no expert. I never watched wrestling.

    However growing up where I did I heard about it a lot and it only took a brief visit to google to find out who was in the four horsemen.

  465. #467 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    Hethish, since whatever-it-is you call god isn’t anything like, say, a biblical god, why do you call it god? What is a god, anyway?

  466. #468 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    god @ 464

    Hey god, why do you capitilize your name and give credence to your non-existence? You’ll never catch me doing that, as I know the difference between what is real and what pretends to be real.

  467. #469 pdferguson
    May 11, 2009

    I believe in the transformative power of love, it’s ability to heal our condition, as the only means to overcome hate and indifference, the last remnant of hope and saving grace in the world. This beliefs and God don’t equal two, because God is only that which can make this possible, …

    In other words (because your words are somewhat difficult to parse, it seems), you are one of those “God is love” fools? Claiming “God is only that which can make this possible” is a typical bit of nonsense from this crowd. As many people do, you seem to need something supernatural in your life, an imaginary father figure, and have latched onto love as the cubbyhole for this.

    The rest of us have no need for a fatherly “love god”, we have plenty of love in our lives without any assistance from Bronze Age mythology, thank you very much. To claim “God is love” is nothing more than a last, feeble attempt to make god relevant in your life, after every other meaning of god has been stripped away. The sooner you realize you don’t need any gods to know love, the better off you will be.

  468. #470 frog
    May 11, 2009

    DM: The point is the principle of parsimony: We don’t need to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. We have no reason whatsoever to assume that elephants have ineffable wings. So why assume that elephants have ineffable wings?

    Very important point — it has an actual physical analog. An indistinguishable difference is not a real difference but simply a convention. Or in other words, just bullshit (loosely paraphrasing old Bill James). The physical effect can be seen with superconductivity, where the physics depends on electrons being indistinguishable — and therefore in no meaningful way different, and in a very meaningful way the same.

    So if you add shit that makes no difference, in no way distinguishes the universe you’re in from the simpler universe without your extra shit, all you’re doing is wasting energy in an energy constrained world. Aka, you’re a waste of breath.

    Bateson — information is a difference that makes a difference.

  469. #471 cicely
    May 11, 2009

    FastLane @377:

    Wowbagger:

    I can conceive of a magic watermelon that does Tom Waits covers in a German accent. What does that mean?

    It means you need to share the drugs, man….

    What it means is that, finally, I know who’s responsible for the scripting of about 1/4 of my dreams, that’s what it means. Whether or not drugs are involved, and whether Wowbagger is willing to share, are completely beside the point.

    BTW, is anyone else finding Pharyngula to be unusually sluggish and slow to respond, these last few days, or is it just me?

  470. #472 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    BTW, is anyone else finding Pharyngula to be unusually sluggish and slow to respond, these last few days, or is it just me?

    The SB techs did some back-end upgrades last week. My experience today at work with XP and IE6 has been painful. My Mac at home, much less so, but still problems.

  471. #473 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 11, 2009

    The physical effect can be seen with superconductivity, where the physics depends on electrons being indistinguishable — and therefore in no meaningful way different, and in a very meaningful way the same.

    Zeilinger goes so far as to equate information and reality. That seems to be nothing but a short summary of quantum physics?

  472. #474 Batocchio
    May 11, 2009

    Brilliant. Thanks very much.

  473. #475 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    James: “I believe in God. God is the end result of a long political struggle. Sure, I believe that exists. I would just probably use a different word for it, because that’s an oddball definition of God…”

    But we’re not talking about the end result see, but the conviction that led to struggle for the end result. The slave who sung we shall overcome didn’t sing it because he had faith in politics, or any thing in his surrounding to find hope in. They had faith, not in things seen, but as Paul puts it: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When Rev. King believes in “a way out of no way” it’s exactly as this.

    These are all supernatural beliefs, in that they’re not deduced from logic, they were no real reason for slaves to actually believe they would overcome. But the slaves believed regardless.

    “Honestly, Hithesh, I think your problem is that you have not precisely defined a lot of the words you are using.”

    Let’s try and break it down for you even further, let’s take a fictive bob, he is a disbeliever until one day he prays and find that his prayer is answered, he witnessed that his dead wife has been raised from the dead, he gazed upon life and comes to believes there’s an inherent sense of design to it (this is basis for his belief). Bob now believes in God, as most of us would if this held true for us as well. Notice the belief says nothing else about God, doesn’t afford him any other attributes such as he resembles a leprechaun, a midget, and green colored. The only attribute of God is that which he made possible. God and the force that made these things possible are not two. Like if we were to believe that our house has been broken into, and our next door neighbor did it are two. If I were to believe my house was broken into, this means that i believe in something someforce that did this, but this doesn’t imply that I’m giving specifics to this something beyond this, like this something is a black guy as well.

    For the slave and Rev. King, what was being spoken about is Hope. Hope is an assumption that believes that what’s hoped for will be realized. It’s a belief in whatever force one believes can do so. If I have Hope, that I’d do well on the test, it’s because of a faith in my studying that I can believe so.

    For Rev. King and the slave spiritual, their hope is not of a natural variety, not from an evaluation of their circumstances, their potential political power, the weapons at their disposal, their hope isn’t believed to be grounded in something seen, but rather unseen. There hope is not derived at by reason, or logic.

    The faith lies not in reason, in the visible potentials of their circumstances, but in an unseen force which can make it possible, a belief in God. Whose attribute here doesn’t lie beyond his ability to realize their hope.

  474. #476 cicely
    May 11, 2009

    I mean, seriously, it took me this long to be able to post again! That’s following it up ASAP, with a running start and a favorable tail-wind!

  475. #477 Knockgoats
    May 11, 2009

    According to other internet sources (I haven’t checked any of this extensively!) Almeida had published a satirical and skeptical article about the alleged miracles at Fatima just a few days earlier. – Anonymous

    And supposing Almeida was secretly anti-government and pro-”miracle”, isn’t that just what he’d do? I’m not saying he did (much more likely he just got caught up in the mass hysteria), but either of these hypotheses is more credible than the (utterly pointless) “miracle” of making the sun appear to turn cartwheels. Big, fucking, deal. Why not something useful like, say, Mary appearing to the warring armies and commanding them to stop fighting? How many independent testimonies are there of the “miracle”, taken immediately after the event i.e. soon enough to prevent contamination of the individual’s perception and memory by talking to others in the crowd, or what appeared in the press? My guess would be – none.

  476. #478 frog
    May 11, 2009

    DM:Is platonic realism a scientific theory?
    If it were wrong, would it be possible to find that out?
    If yes, then it is scientific. If no, it’s not.

    Not exactly. A scientific theory requires consistency between data and theory — but you also have mathematical theory, where internal consistency is sufficient. So you can have a theory that can be “wrong”, yet not scientific.

    I know you love pedantry.

  477. #479 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    The faith lies not in reason, in the visible potentials of their circumstances, but in an unseen force which can make it possible, a belief in God. Whose attribute here doesn’t lie beyond his ability to realize their hope.

    One doesn’t need a god for hope. One doesn’t need faith in god for anything. Faith in god and a $1.35 will get you a bottle of water from the drink machine. My drink there costs $1.35. A god that exists only between peoples ears is a worthless bit of delusion that gets in the way of appreciating reality.

  478. #480 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh @ 475

    Seriously, there is no such thing as a god, but just what was thought of in the brains of humans. Come now, if you did not have a brain there would be no thought of a god. Now isn’t that simple enough that even you can comprehend it? Heck, it’s not your fault that there is no god, but it is your fault if you make one up and expect other morons to believe in the same crap as you do. Do a simple test. Cut your head off and see if you still have thougts of a god. Now if all those others who believe in the same thing and were to do as you did, there you have it; no more gods. It really is simple as that. Do you get the point? Get the crap out of your head and come to your freaking senses.

  479. #481 Piltdown Man
    May 11, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead @ 459:

    Scientists, unlike godbots like yourself who tell falsehoods right and left, try to be scrupulously honest in their professional work. This gives us a degree of trust.

    Very good – you believe you have grounds for trusting someone’s word.

    You accept their testimony as authoritative.

    Still no physical evidence.

    +++

    Satan @ 450:

    God laughs at your Eucharist.

    Yeah, but why would I believe anyone called “Satan”?

  480. #482 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Nerd: “A god that exists only between peoples ears is a worthless bit of delusion that gets in the way of appreciating reality.”

    It’s weird when the critics of religion, the godless type, engage in peddling superstition all the time, without ever noticing it, like PZ belief that the peddling of the image of a child gazing at the stars, will heal the world. Or you belief that there’s something appreciative to all in reality. If your hungry, poor, and the verge of dying with no visible means to get out of this, does this mean that you have something to be appreciative for in reality?

    Their mythical post-christian belief among atheist that runs rampant in these part, a repulsive version of redemption, than man is held back from something, from realizing his true glorious nature, he’s held back from seeing life is so gloriously beautiful with it’s ponds and houses made of gold. The only cure for such a sickness, is to accept atheism. If we realize the hope of no religion, only then can we reach Providence.

    And you have the nerve to accuse me of believing in fairy tales? Perhaps it’s time you peer more closely in the mirror.

  481. #483 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh, there are two big problems with your “God is We Shall Overcome” screed. The first big problem is that, if you equate “People have done things because they believed X” with “X exists”, you’ve just validated the existence not of “God” but of _all_ gods and other ideals including the triumph of the proletariat _and_ the glorious Fourth Reich. Your second problem is that religion has regularly been trotted out to _justify slavery_ – it’s Biblical! – so your identification of God with only the stuff you like is hypocritical.

  482. #484 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    If your hungry, poor, and the verge of dying with no visible means to get out of this, does this mean that you have something to be appreciative for in reality?

    why not try it and see for yourself? Surely, after all material possessions are gone, you still have your faith, right?

    Or is what you have really a bunch of projection and denial masquerading as faith?

    you’re a pathetic wanker.

  483. #485 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    @482: ponds and houses made of gold? Have you been smoking something?

  484. #486 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Step away from the Pharyng. for a few hours and the thread is so long I can’t even catch up.

    Anyway, if anybody is still interested in the “math” subthread, I agree with the poster who said that mathematicians are not unusually susceptible to religion, and didn’t mean to give that impression. They *are*, however, way more susceptible than the average physicist. I’ve known math types of a great number of religious persuasions (including Mennonite), but nearly all physicists I’ve known have been non-religious.

    That’s anecdotal, but I saw a survey somewhere that backed up my impressions. (Biologists were somewhere in between).

  485. #487 AdamK
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh @ 482. I did what you said–looked in the mirror–and I still didn’t see your strawman. Maybe I was doing it wrong.

  486. #488 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    It’s the same Atheism is a religion argument dressed up in baroque prose and dripping with condescending self image and still lacking in anything of substance.

  487. #489 Satan
    May 11, 2009

    Yeah, but why would I believe anyone called “Satan”?

    Why would you believe anyone or anything? Are you a follower of Pyrrho?

  488. #490 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Pilty the hoax. You have no idea of how science is run. A miracle can be shown with science with the proper controls. For example, many attempts to show paranormal phenomena lack proper controls, which if present, show paranormal to be bunk. But then, miracles don’t exist except in the minds of the delude godbots like yourself. Your god either interacts with the world or he doesn’t. Make up your mind and live with the consequences. Otherwise, you are fraud and con man.

  489. #491 Cara
    May 11, 2009

    Is there a word for someone who’s arguing just to argue, like a teenager who’s baiting her parents? Besides the word “Eric” or “troll”, I mean. Someone who insists that the (so-called) argument hasn’t been addressed because their interlocutor didn’t stand on his head or say “Simon Says” first.

    It’s on the tip of my tongue.

  490. #492 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    “It’s the same Atheism is a religion argument dressed up in baroque.”

    No I don’t believe Atheism is a religion, but some atheist do treat their atheism as a religion, and this should be pretty obvious even to you.

    I was an unbeliever for most of my adulthood, and I sure didn’t treat my disbelief as a religion, as a sort of cure to peddle to humanity, to be evangelized, as a means for humanity to appreciate reality, or any other sort of similar tracts.

  491. #493 Nusubito
    May 11, 2009

    Says Piltdown Man

    There is still no physical evidence that a miracle has occurred, that the waterpots formerly contained water.

    That is why experiments are controlled, and can be rerun. With a time machine, the scientist could go back and watch it again, but this time, he could coax Jesus into doing it in a vial, while being watched by a camera, with spectrophotometry ongoing. He could weigh the total solution, and see if Jesus was really summoning new matter into existence(ethanol, acetic acid, etc.) or just somehow converted the water’s mass into something else. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could put Jesus into a fMRI machine and watch his brain patterns while it was happening. If he is supposedly doing this by thought alone, then there will be some kind of correspondence between his thoughts and what happens in the real world. Would this process result in the transformation of all water in contact with the transformed water? In other words, is it a chain reaction? Do Jesus’ hands have to come in contact with the solution to be changed? In short, you could dissect a miracle into its component parts, and come up with an explanation for it.

    Hell, we could check out Jesus’ chromosomes, just to be sure, and see if he had ‘magic’ DNA, or just regular old human chromosomes, with all of their flaws, repeats and bullshit. We could do a paternity test, and blow the whole ‘Mary and Joseph were just platonic lovers’ BS out of the water.

    When Jesus healed people, we would be able to rewind and watch the process over and over again. Is it instantaneous? Do the cells of the sick/blind/dead reorganize, change expression patterns, etc? If we agree that blindness and sickness are physical states, with physical causes, then whatever ‘miracle’ Jesus performed had to have been a physical solution.

    Could Jesus get sick? We could inject viruses into his veins, and see if he had a superhuman immune response, or what exactly happened to the viruses in his blood. If we were unhappy with the results, we could culture his cells in vitro, to visualize it better.

    You have a very limited conception of what scientists might think of to investigate reality. They are, to a person, very curious, and interested in knowing more. Contrast this with your idea of the scientist who, perfectly happy to remain ignorant, ‘leaves the room’ and tries to avoid learning. I know the theme of projection is brought up far too often here, but come on! Leaves?! The only person who might conceivably do this is one who was already certain they knew the outcome. That is, a *believer*.

    If it affects the world, we can come up with models for how it works. Deal with it.

  492. #494 CJO
    May 11, 2009

    like PZ belief that the peddling of the image of a child gazing at the stars, will heal the world.

    You’re projecting again. PZ said nothing about “healing the world” and you won’t find atheists talking about healing the world, because that’s a religious concept that has no referent in physical reality. “The world” is an abstraction. It cannot be sick or injured; there is no objective standard by which we can assess whether a given act of “healing” has had any effect on it whatsoever.

    Is there injustice, suffering, unreasoning cruelty and violence in the world? Yes. Are the myths invented about a Suffering Servant as god’s annointed in the 1st century Eastern Mediterranean one way that a group of pious Jews tried to make sense of these harsh facts in the light of their own experience of them in their seemingly hopeless situation? Sure. Are they relevant to me? No, not any more than the Dream Time of native Australians is.

  493. #495 Stephen Wells
    May 11, 2009

    @492: I knew the earth was round for most of my adulthood, but I would never have dreamed of peddling the idea to anyone as an actual truth about the world; I had too much respect for the deeply held beliefs of flat-earthers.

  494. #496 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh, you are a deluded fool. No evidence, no existence. Your god is fiction, and does nothing for the human condition, except in your deluded mind. You don’t like being called deluded, then quit presenting your delusions here, and just go away. No one is stopping you from that action. Until you show phyical evidence for your imaginary deity, you are just another liar and bullshitter for Imaginary ObjectsTM.

  495. #497 Walton
    May 11, 2009

    Is there a word for someone who’s arguing just to argue, like a teenager who’s baiting her parents?

    Devil’s advocate? Barrack-room lawyer?

  496. #498 AdamK
    May 11, 2009

    [blah blah blah]…and I sure didn’t treat my disbelief as a religion, as a sort of cure to peddle to humanity, to be evangelized, as a means for humanity to appreciate reality, or any other sort of similar tracts.

    Perhaps you should wait until somebody actually does the thing you dislike before you start railing against it.

    Or maybe take your pill and have a lie-down. I’m sure you’ll feel much better.

  497. #499 Stu
    May 11, 2009

    but some atheist do treat their atheism as a religion

    Only in statements you just made up, moron.

    I was an unbeliever for most of my adulthood

    99.9% chance of a Big Fat Lie, with rain during the evening.

    and I sure didn’t treat my disbelief as a religion, as a sort of cure to peddle to humanity, to be evangelized, as a means for humanity to appreciate reality, or any other sort of similar tracts.

    Yes, exactly. Except not at all. Bald is not a hair color.

    Do you really think that if you take 500 words to say “God is love” (but not really, something else, but the cause, the, *THUD* sorry, all rational people just fainted from sheer boredom) that people won’t realize that that makes God a meaningless, superfluous, amorphous, untestable semi-intellectual reach-around for those smart enough to avoid organized religion but weak enough to still need their binky of meaning for their pitiful existence?

    Really, you might want to drop the “atheism is a religion” crock. And comparing humans striving for freedom with any useful concept of a God is truly pathetic and shows you as weak and dumb as a sack of hammers. And that is not two. Nowhere in your thousands of words of verbal diarrhea have you even come close to even a meaningful, discussable definition of God. Start with that. Hop to it. Ten words or less.

  498. #500 pdferguson
    May 11, 2009

    No I don’t believe Atheism is a religion, but some atheist do treat their atheism as a religion, and this should be pretty obvious even to you.

    No, some atheists (like myself) treat their atheism as politics, not religion. And rightfully so. Our primary issue is with those who use religion as a weapon of ignorance, hatred and violence. That’s a political issue, and this should be pretty obvious even to you.

  499. #501 Stanton
    May 11, 2009

    …miracles don’t exist except in the minds of the delude godbots…

    What about chocolate rumballs or stuffed porkchops?

  500. #502 Knockgoats
    May 11, 2009

    Stanton,
    No, I don’t think miracles exist in the minds of chocolate rumballs or stuffed porkchops ;-)

  501. #503 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    The slave who sung we shall overcome didn’t sing it because he had faith in politics, or any thing in his surrounding to find hope in. They had faith, not in things seen, but as Paul puts it: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When Rev. King believes in “a way out of no way” it’s exactly as this.

    You can be hopeful, and even see your hope be realized, without god. I notice you compare the end of slavery and the success of the Civil Rights movement to the physical impossibility of resurrection of the dead. are you seriously saying that equal rights were a physical impossibility? are you really failing to see that equal rights were achieved by human struggle, not by magic?

    or are you saying there’s something magical about the feeling of hope in hopeless situations, in-and-of itself? because that strikes me as a somewhat ignorant position. after all, a species that’s capable of remembering past suffering, imagining future suffering, and knows what death is would not be very viable, since every prolonged crisis with no change in sight would produce suicides too massive to sustain a population. hope, while probably not well understood at all, is an essential part of our survival instinct. or, to put differently, those who are irrationally optimistic about their future are more likely to survive long enough to have and raise children than those who rationally assess that their lives are shit and will likely always be shit.

    and since humans like being able to explain things, and yet this “hope against all hope” seemed unexplainable for most of humanity’s existence, magic led itself as a sensible explanation; and voila, the birth of religion. or, as a smart man once said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions”

    on the other hand, of course, religion has been often used to suppress the fight against suffering by focusing those hope on the afterlife (“pie in the sky when you die”), and thus has actually stalled the fulfillment of the hope for better lives.

  502. #504 Holbach
    May 11, 2009

    I have never regarded or treated my atheism as a religion. I resent religion even being mentioned in the same breath as atheism. To me, atheism represents the epitomy of rationalism, which is used to ascertain the non-existence of things that just don’t exist and the brain’s refusal to even consider the likelihood without proof. Religion is insanity and bullshit run amuck and which threatens all rational thought and behavior.

  503. #505 Coriolis
    May 11, 2009

    @ #486 Rudy – actually I remember looking at the number of nonbelievers at the NAS, and at least there biologists are even more atheist than physicists. But it’s something like 96% vs 93% roughly speaking. Still it’s one thing we physicists can’t feel all superior about hehe. I’m guessing it’s those quantum gravity/string theory people who are at least half-mathematician bringing us down.

    On the other hand mathematicians were somewhere in the 75-ish% if I remember right. Way behind all the natural sciences.

  504. #506 pdferguson
    May 11, 2009

    Is there a word for someone who’s arguing just to argue, like a teenager who’s baiting her parents?

    A Libertarian…

  505. #507 Rokcet Scientist
    May 11, 2009

    Brilliant!

  506. #508 Cara
    May 11, 2009

    They had faith, not in things seen, but as Paul puts it: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When Rev. King believes in “a way out of no way” it’s exactly as this.

    I wonder if this is part of the problem for those who believe and are absolutely appalled by those who don’t–the idea that since people sometimes feel the same thing at the same time there’s some Magic Power that makes it so.

    Hope for something better is a pretty constant part of the human condition. Why would we need a great conductor in the sky to create it?

  507. #509 Cara
    May 11, 2009

    Thank you, pdferguson.

  508. #511 Monimonika
    May 11, 2009

    Thorn,

    That’s at least the third time that link has appeared in this thread.

  509. #512 Watchman
    May 11, 2009

    Hope for something better is a pretty constant part of the human condition.

    Yes, but this hope can only be experienced by contemplating the torturous death of an alleged savior. Or so I am told.

    (And told, and told, and told…)

  510. #513 truthspeaker
    May 11, 2009

    Yes, stories about hope and salvation can inspire people. But that’s not religion, that’s art. I’m inspired by narratives too, but I don’t go around calling myself a Han Soloist.

  511. #514 Appreciative
    May 11, 2009

    It would make a great childrens book.

    I love it. So beautiful a story.

  512. #515 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    PZ, I agree we each have criteria for assessing “love”, or “justice”, or maybe “sinfulness” :) But there’s a sense in which they don’t exist as empirical phenomena, the way that evolution certainly does.

    We couldn’t find two people to agree on what criteria to use, though there would be a family resemblance between their views. There’s no “Zero-th” law of love, or justice, similar to the Zero-th law of thermodynamics. Temperature exists, in the sense that we can get everybody to agree on how to measure it. Evolution is more abstract, but we can get rational people to agree (OK, you know better than me how fraught the “get” part is) on how it occurs and the evidence for it.

    Derrida somewhere talks about the impossibility of justice, that any concrete judgment necessarily involves a compromise that destroys the ideal. Any number of country songs make the same point about love. We just don’t see examples of pure justice that we can use as criteria, we see injustice, and compromise, and failure. And yet we still imagine justice as an (immaterial) ideal.


    p.s. The Christian cliche is “God is Love”. In Islam, God is also compassion, mercy, and 97 other nice things. Personally I don’t care if people think about God, as long as they think about the 99 or 100 nice immaterial things, or at least a couple. I’ve always thought that a god that requires belief from us is pretty self-centered.

  513. #516 Sastra
    May 11, 2009

    Cara #508 wrote:

    I wonder if this is part of the problem for those who believe and are absolutely appalled by those who don’t–the idea that since people sometimes feel the same thing at the same time there’s some Magic Power that makes it so.

    I think that’s part of it, yes. Religious people are also encouraged to reify abstractions: Love, Hope, Liberty, Virtue, and Goodness are all supposed to be thought of as things which exist, even though you can’t see or hold or touch them. God, then, is like that: it exists that way. It’s all part of the same continuum.

    If you approach values and ideals from this angle, then someone who doesn’t believe there’s a God (because He can’t be seen or held or touched) will be considered conceptually backwards, a simple, primitive thinker who only believes in what’s actually physically before them. That leaves the atheist with no ability to accept, access, or understand intangible things like Love, Hope, Liberty, and so forth. So emotionally-laden abstractions don’t just have to come from a Magic Power; they’re magic powers in themselves.

    Of course, part of the problem people who value faith have with atheists is that they frame everything Good in terms of their faith, leaving suicidal despair as the default mode, “absent God.” It’s not just a problem with religion, though religion brings the tendency out. There are fanatics in all sorts of areas who can’t imagine that anyone would or could have a normal, reasonable, enjoyable life without whatever the heck it is that “gives life meaning” — for them, and therefore for everyone.

  514. #517 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    rudy, “justice” and “sinfulness” are man-made abstractions, so of course they don’t exist anywhere outside the realm of human social interaction, the same way “religion” does. “god” is not an abstract concept that describes aspects of human interactions though; it’s an anthromorphization of abstract concepts, and as such is not only man-made, but is also an unnecessary embellishment on existing phenomena

  515. #518 Sven DiMilo
    May 11, 2009

    I’d be going straight to the Cambrian.

    Don’t forget your snorkeling gear.

  516. #519 'Tis Himself
    May 11, 2009

    Don’t forget your snorkeling gear.

    Wouldn’t oxygen tanks be more appropriate?

  517. #520 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Jadehawk @ 517,

    But that’s begging the question. It’s far from clear that they are “man-made abstractions”, and don’t exist outside human social interaction (does that mean we’ll have whole new words we can’t imagine yet, for our dealings with intelligent aliens? Ok, that’d be cool).

    In the Abrahamic religions, at least, our dealings with each other mirror the idea relationship God has with us. (In trinitarian Christianity, and maybe analogously in some nominally polytheist religions, our relationships mirror God’s with Herself).

    Unnecessary embellishment? Well, what criterion would we use to establish that? If we get along for a few centuries without the idea, and things go ok… I think that your case would be established. If everything goes to hell :) would your idea be falsified?

  518. #521 GMacs
    May 11, 2009

    And you miss the point don’t you. We speak of love in non-scientific terms all the time. If you wife were to ask you why you loved, and you expounded on the biology of it, she’d probably slap you.

    I’m guessing someone married to a bio prof would be used to it. I know my girlfriend wouldn’t get too pissed at me for talking like that. Actually, the biology of love is fascinating and, to me, more romantic and meaningful than “it’s like the angels meant us to be together”.

  519. #522 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    Unnecessary embellishment? Well, what criterion would we use to establish that?

    likely the same criterion one would use to determine that the entire idea of the abrahamic god was unnecessary to begin with.

    Of course, hindsight being what it is, it’s easy to say that now. Deistic/theistic imaginings are simply unnecessary to explain anything, nor are they actually required for any real social purpose (take countries/cultures that are largely absent of such drivel as examples).

    However, who knows how fucked up this bunch of loonies were thousands of years ago that they might indeed have “needed” to invent this story for some sort of social or political cohesion at the time.

    If we get along for a few centuries without the idea, and things go ok… I think that your case would be established.

    consider that experiment to have been done several times in recorded history, most recently and notably in many Scandinavian countries.

    so, it’s established.

  520. #523 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    But that’s begging the question.

    funny, I don’t see how the post you are referring to is using circular reasoning.

  521. #524 Kel
    May 11, 2009

    Suppose a scientist were able to travel back in time to the wedding feast at Cana and test the contents of the water jars. He is able to confirm that they contain water.

    Scientist leaves the room.

    Jesus performs His miracle.

    Scientist returns.

    Scientist tests the contents of the pots again and is able to confirm that they now contain wine.

    Based on his observations, our scientist cannot make any further comment on what has occurred.

    What “physical evidence” do you expect? Do you imagine the wine will contain faint traces of God particles?

    Why’d you get the scientist to leave the room? It’s like letting Uri Geller choose his own cutlery.

  522. #525 frog
    May 11, 2009

    Sastra: I think that’s part of it, yes. Religious people are also encouraged to reify abstractions: Love, Hope, Liberty, Virtue, and Goodness are all supposed to be thought of as things which exist, even though you can’t see or hold or touch them. God, then, is like that: it exists that way. It’s all part of the same continuum.

    I’ve noted that about certain kinds of political radicals, like Libertarians. They seem to me exactly like the most primitive kind of pagans, worshipping Love, Virtue, Freedom as deities of some kind, rather than as simple recognition of generalities.

    It may be one reason why in old texts (including the Bible), they never translate the names of the people/entities — which are almost always names of the sort. “The Power of God said to the Love of God so-and-so” or “The Father spoke to Love…” — guess which traditions those are from?

    It would make the reification too obvious. It’s funny, because so many of these traditions ban reification, only to recreate it in new form.

  523. #526 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    If we get along for a few centuries without the idea, and things go ok… I think that your case would be established.

    There was this thing called the Age of Enlightenment, mostly associated with its roots among the humanists during the Renaissance. Reason and logic has other applications apart from rationalizing Catholic dogma. Science, as an occupation and enterprise thrives in the absence of religious dogma.

    NASA just launched a team of astronauts into orbit to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, whose Galilean predecessor priests refused to peer through. I’m rooting for the fruits of observation and empiricism, which trumps Ecclesiastical Eagletosh, a barren and backward enterprise.

  524. #527 AdamK
    May 11, 2009

    Suppose a scientist uses a time machine to go back to some random 1st-century wedding feast at Cana. He tests the water jars. They contain water.

    He leaves the room.

    Jesus, being a fictional character, does nothing.

    Scientist goes back and tests the jars again. Yep, still water.

    Based on his observations, the scientist has no comment whatsoever to make on what occurred.

  525. #528 GMacs
    May 11, 2009

    What’s odd is you can profess to see the sawdust in the eyes of other, and fail to see the log in your own.Weird. Scientist gets a time machine, and uses it to visit a Jewish wedding?

    Not that there is a log, but a log can be moved, or light may refract around it’s edges. Sawdust in your eyes causes lots of fucking pain and sticks. It makes you jam your eyes shut and scream like an idiot if it’s bad enough. It is more difficult to get it out of your eyes, and the process can be uncomfortable, but worth it.

    Weird. Scientist gets a time machine, and uses it to visit a Jewish wedding?

    You, Prof PZ, have not been keeping up with Family Guy.

  526. #529 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    But that’s begging the question. It’s far from clear that they are “man-made abstractions”, and don’t exist outside human social interaction (does that mean we’ll have whole new words we can’t imagine yet, for our dealings with intelligent aliens? Ok, that’d be cool).

    no, the abstractions are definitely human-made. the underlying biological/evolutionary/etc. causes are not, but the abstractions are. similar to how “love” is a social abstract concept, but attraction to certain persons is based in our evolutionary development, brain chemistry etc.

    I suppose we could say they’re “intelligence-made” if we wanted to be inclusive of non-human intelligences, but this is fully hypothetical, since with a set of one it’s really hard to figure out whether such concepts as “justice” are even particularly common to intelligence. conversely, if we encountered an alien intelligence similar enough to us to even make any kind of dealings possible, we’d most certainly have to make new words to describe their own abstract social concepts, as well as social concepts for the interaction with them. this has already happened with intercultural encounters; it can only get more drastic with inter-planetary ones.

    Unnecessary embellishment? Well, what criterion would we use to establish that? If we get along for a few centuries without the idea, and things go ok… I think that your case would be established. If everything goes to hell :) would your idea be falsified?

    you’re confusing “unnecessary as an explanation” with “unnecessary as a tool”. the Noble Lie can be useful, it’s still not true though. “god” has proven to be quite the useful tool to a lot of people; but as an explanation or useful concept for things it is utterly useless, and thus unnecessary.

    also, you seem to confuse the usefulness of society-building myths with the necessity of existence of gods

  527. #530 GMacs
    May 11, 2009

    …belief that the peddling of the image of a child gazing at the stars, will heal the world.

    No, it won’t “heal” the world. I happen to subscribe to a less marred version of this philosophy than the one you describe. The little boy won’t heal the world in the same way avoiding fights doesn’t heal a wound, if we’re speaking in allegories and such. If more people are like curious, stargazing children, rather than bellicose, deranged thugs, the world may have a little chance to let the wound scab over and the bone to set.

    …he’s held back from seeing life is so gloriously beautiful with it’s ponds and houses made of gold.

    They’re platinum and jade, ya fuck.

  528. #531 Wowbagger,OM
    May 11, 2009

    Piltdown, even if it was verified by a time-travelling scientist that Jesus did turn water into wine, how does that prove your god exists? It proves magic exists – why does that have to mean your specific god exists? There are a lot more links in that particular chain.

  529. #532 ndt
    May 11, 2009

    Rudy, it’s abundantly clear that “justice” and “sinfulness” are man-made abstractions. “Justice”, “good”, and “evil” only have relevance to humans and only exist in the minds of humans. That doesn’t degrade their importance, it only puts them in the proper perspective. The universe doesn’t care if people suffer or are happy, if people love or hate. We certainly care, and those feelings, and the behaviors they inspire, are important to us. It’s when we start to think they have meaning outside of humanity that we run into trouble.

  530. #533 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Yawn. Yet another ‘we accept abstractions; therefore the specific Christian god must exist’ parrot. I really don’t understand how one leads to the other; there’s just too much space in between.

    I’m new to the term, so I’ll ask – would it be accurate to describe that reasoning as a ‘category error’?

  531. #534 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    @windy
    Whatwhat? I forget which thread that was in, but we weren’t trying to.

    Sorry, my comment was way too obscure; I didn’t mean to accuse you of anything. You certainly weren’t making me the bad guy but David was, and I just gave a hint for understanding how — it’s about singling out one person for what many do. You said David’s comment was about him understanding me where PZ doesn’t, but David presented what he portrayed as PZ’s thoughts, but they were David’s own thoughts, a characterization of my posts in that thread, and it’s that characterization that I objected to. But that’s over and done with; I’ve got more important things to attend to.

    Glad you’re OK.

    Thanks.

    I have to ask, what is the woo capital of California? SF?

    Ojai.

  532. #535 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    I’ve got more important things to attend to.

    I’m on the other side of the Pacific now, but I did my undergrad at UCSB and have many fond memories of SB.

    what’s the current status?

  533. #536 Ken Cope
    May 11, 2009

    Ojai indeed. I saw Krishnamurti speak under the oaks at Ojai in the seventies. A good friend had an aunt who lived in and managed one of the big deal “retreats” up on the hill top there, so we got first class digs for the event. I liked seeing the big K in his shirtsleeves, bapping away at the acolytes who were asking, “Who is God” and getting only “Who needs to know?” in response. It’s a beautiful setting, used in at least one of the filmed versions of Lost Horizons as a stand-in for the valley of Shangri-La.

    California is woo-suffused. Esalen in Big Sur is full of it, there’s a new book I’d like to get with poetry from Zen Center’s Gary Snyder about circumambulating Mt. Tam as a spiritual practice. It isn’t so much that woo originates anywhere, it’s more like people bring it with them to various vortices of woo. Ojai, I suppose, is as close as CA gets to Glastonbury levels of woo, minus the cool concerts.

  534. #537 CCW
    May 11, 2009

    The Awe… it weights heavy on me, yet it give me wings, opens up my mind, and lets me see the wonders of the world, unclouded, in my own poetic sense, and not that was written in stone.

  535. #538 Adam
    May 11, 2009

    eagletosh is LEGALLY blind, maybe, but he can see shadowy outlines when he squints.

    he saw the elephant’s ears and thought they were wings. he doesn’t know as much about elephants as the other men, sure, but he does know something they don’t.

  536. #539 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Yes, “begging the question” was probably the wrong phrase. I just meant to point up that whether love, justice, etc. were man-made was at least partly the issue.

    Ken, the Enlightenment was just as fully responsible for “racial science” (Kant viewed Africans as practically subhuman) as it was for views we think of as progressive, now. Early on, the only intellectual opposition to racialist theories came from theologians like Thomas Reid. (The innate superiority of one group, based on biological descent, was a new notion. Romans thought of themselves as superior, because of their civilization, but had no problem with an African emperor, as long as he was a Roman citizen.)

    We can look back and say, well, they were obviously wrong, because we can track gene frequencies (a la Cavalli-Sforza) and see that there is no such thing as race. But this is a remedy for a disease that the Enlightenment caused. (I don’t mean that ethnic hatred is new, of course. There is more than one disease in the book. Nationalism is a another new disease caused by the Enlightenment, one that we haven’t found a cure for yet).

    I have to add that the Enlightenment brought along new religious forms as well a new skepticism; George Fox and Pascal as well as Descartes and Spinoza.

    One poster pointed to Scandinavia as an indication that we can do without religion. Well, it hasn’t exactly been a couple of centuries, there, has it? :) If nanobots save us all from old age, we’ll see whether Death Metal bands from Sweden destroy the planet…

    I’m not sure how to fairly carry out the comparison though: if < stands for “less pleasantly civilized”,
    North Korea < U.S. < Sweden, but both North Korea and Sweden are less religious than the U.S.

    As China gets more modern, affluent, and at least way more open than under Mao, it has also gotten considerably more religious, with Christianity growing extremely quickly. This isn’t a counterexample of course, but maybe just a sign that religious attitudes are more uncoupled from social attitudes that anyone here including me, thinks.

    No, the “existence” of abstractions isn’t a proof of the existence of God. The original point was about the existence of “immaterial” entities. God may or may not exist in the same way. Google “weak ontology” for the most extreme theological view of this.

    Mathematicians have agreed to sort of ignore problems about the existence of Platonic entities, but I have to disagree with the poster who thinks it is completely irrelevant to mathematical practice. It was just the issue that stopped Cantor’s ideas dead for a while, and also was behind the constructivist critique of “standard” mathematics. (I’m not sure the status of this now, with categories giving a new view of the whole debate about foundations).

  537. #540 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Ack, my comment about N. Korea got chopped off because I used angle brackets in the sentence, I guess. I was just commenting that it’s hard to compare, as Sweden and N. K. are both less religious than the US. So which one counts?

  538. #541 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    we’ll see whether Death Metal bands from Sweden destroy the planet…

    the rest of what you say is so generalized as to be fairly meaningless, but that statement reminded me of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMRzEw1ErT0

  539. #542 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    I was just commenting that it’s hard to compare, as Sweden and N. K. are both less religious than the US. So which one counts?

    um… the one that’s a democracy? you can’t compare dictatorships with democracies and then talk about the effect of religiousness. (unless you’re attempting to corelate how common each of the four possible combinations is). if you want to see effects of religiosity on a society, you have to chose subjects that are as close together as possible, to eliminate as many extraneous variables as possible.

    so: you can compare religious dictatorships to secular ones; and you can compare secular democracies to religious ones. and THEN see where that gets you. and the trend you get is that the less religious a society is, the healthier it is, with the exception of societies where religion is simply replaced with another totalitarian belief-system.

    and this STILL deals with “god” as a tool, not an explanation. as an explanation for anything, it’s still an unnecessary embellishment on reality.

  540. #543 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Jadehawk, your comparison seems reasonable. So you are saying that within groups, the less religious the better? Let’s try that with
    some dictatorships:

    Cuba (more religion) vs. N. Korea (less): Cuba wins.
    Mainland China (more) vs. N. Korea (less): China wins.
    Burma (more religion) vs. N. Korea (less): hard to call.

  541. #544 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    On water to wine:

    Since no reliable confirmable measurements were made, it is foolish to believe that such an event occurred.

    If such measurements were made, scientists would offer hypotheses to explain them … e.g., Jesus used sleight of hand. “A miracle happened” is equivalent to “I don’t know how” and thus is not a candidate hypothesis.

    We could conceivably allow “a miracle happened” if we had a theory of miracles that carefully characterizes miracles and provides guidelines for what sorts of miracles occur under what circumstances with what frequency; like all scientific theories, this would be predictive and could be falsified if the evidence doesn’t fit the predictions. The absence of a causal mechanism for miracles would not be a stopper because scientific theories often precede the determination of a mechanism.

    Even given such a theory of miracles, “miracles are caused by god” would not be a valid inference, any more than “quantum mechanics is caused by god” — “goddidit” is equivalent to “I don’t know how” and thus is not a candidate mechanism.

  542. #545 Caryn
    May 11, 2009

    “A god that exists only between peoples ears is a worthless bit of delusion that gets in the way of appreciating reality.” It’s weird when the critics of religion, the godless type, engage in peddling superstition all the time, without ever noticing it, like PZ belief that the peddling of the image of a child gazing at the stars, will heal the world. Or you belief that there’s something appreciative to all in reality.

    Careful; you’re equivocating. There’s a difference between “appreciating reality” in the sense of *recognizing* reality accurately, or as accurately as possible (and Nerd of Redhead’s point is that this is much easier in the absence of superstitious beliefs about reality), and “appreciating reality” in the sense of *having a positive opinion of* reality.

    (posted all wack for busted blockquotes)

  543. #546 Rudy
    May 11, 2009

    Oops, I meant to add a tendentious democratic matchup:
    Canada (more) vs. Japan (less): hard to call.

  544. #547 GMacs
    May 11, 2009

    Cuba (more religion) vs. N. Korea (less): Cuba wins.
    Mainland China (more)…

    This is interesting, because most religious folk call China non-religious (which is pretty true) and say that they are oppressive against the religious (yeah, the Cultural Revolution was overkill, but that’s because the destruction of history is always shitty). Now you try to say they are religious?

  545. #548 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Rudy, North Korea has a religion, with their political leader at the godhead. False comparison.

  546. #549 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    Ojai indeed. I saw Krishnamurti speak under the oaks at Ojai in the seventies.

    I like Krishnamurti. He gets a bad rap for “infecting” David Bohm with “Spirituality”; although, I don?t know how much there is to that. And it’s true, he wasn’t a scientist and he often talked in flowery language, and he often gets hijacked shamelessly by New Agers whose views are actually contrary to his, but he understood the underlying nature of religion and belief and the desire for belief quite well, and he expressed his views eloquently. Reading him was a real eye-opener for me when I was young, and afterwards there was no way I could ever go back to belonging to a religion?of any kind. To this day he is one of the few people who really makes sense to me in certain areas of thinking, and he was far deeper than he is often given credit for. He said things like this:

    Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence.

    I agree with him.

  547. #550 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh, you are a deluded fool.[...] You don’t like being called deluded, then quit presenting your delusions here, and just go away.

    Nerdy i don’t really care what you call me, it doesn’t even offend me, i get a chuckle out of it. It’s like guy on the other forum, who called me an awkward kid with no friends. I’m guessing if the allegation were true, or if they had some basis in reality, or if they were a sore spot, than I guess it would mean something.

    To me it sounds like, Ken Ham calling Richard Dawkins an idiot because he accepts evolution.

    Your brand of RRS like Atheism, that goes around calling the Dostoevskies, the Reinhold Niebhlur, the Rev. Kings, the Desmond Tutus, the Nelson Mandela of the world delusional, doesn’t really get too far, and most reflective people (atheist and theist alike) look upon you guys not much differently than the fundies you so despise.

    No one takes u that seriously dude, except a few choir boys, that when you go around calling people deluded doesn’t really amount to much at all. So you might as well just can it, you’ve already spent several post pointing out that you believe I’m deluded already. We got that point already. Would you like a cookie for that?

  548. #551 Kmuzu
    May 11, 2009

    Is there no beauty in elephant poop? My artichoke plant would disagree.

  549. #552 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    Rudy,

    your comparisons at 543 are completely nonsensical.What criteria do you use to decide who “wins” or “loses” ?

  550. #553 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Rudy, IIRC, North Korea isn’t religious in the sense that its people follow a religion like Christianity or Hinduism – but don’t they treat their leader like some sort of deity? It’s not ‘religion’ per se, but it’s significantly different from China or Cuba and can’t really be compared the way you’re comparing them.

  551. #554 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    But that’s begging the question. It’s far from clear that they are “man-made abstractions”, and don’t exist outside human social interaction (does that mean we’ll have whole new words we can’t imagine yet, for our dealings with intelligent aliens? Ok, that’d be cool).

    You might as well say that it’s far from clear that shaking hands doesn’t exist outside of human social interaction because there might be intelligent aliens that shake hands. The point is that the meaning and significance of humans shaking hands — as with human concepts of justice, sinfulness, love, etc. — flows from humans and their institutions, not from external agents like “god”. To attribute these human concepts to external agents, or even to suggest that it isn’t clear that they shouldn’t be attributed to external agents, is to commit a major category mistake — a misapplication of attributes to something that isn’t of the sort to have those attributes. (I contend that all Platonism involves a category mistake, including mathematical Platonism, which attributes “existence” to deductive derivations from axioms.)

  552. #555 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    If North Korea and Cuba are religious,then the communist==atheist crowd is in real trouble !
    LOL

  553. #556 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Don’t worry hithesh, you will remain deluded until you show physical evidence for your imaginary deity. Evidence, what separates the men from the boys, and the rational from the deluded. You just picked the wrong side of the evidence.

  554. #557 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    splendid. you’ve just proved that in communist dictatorships, when their power isn’t absolute(i.e. they have to share with religion), the situation can be usually try to purge it: it gives them more control

    now, just to be fair, let’s mix and match this a bit more, since you simply picked NK from the bottom of the barrel and compared everything else to it.

    Mainland China vs. Cuba: more religious wins
    Burma vs. China: less religious wins
    Burma vs. Cuba: less religious wins

    now, if you throw Vietnam with it’s 85% of secular buddhists into the mix, which has a better quality of life than all of the above except cuba, what you get is 5 wins for more religion, one draw, and six wins for less religion

    and if we actually bothered to do this right, included all communist dictatorships and some accurate, or at least verifiable measures for both religiosity and quality of life, we might get a different result yet. cherrypicking your datapoints is not cool.

    also, why have you picked communist dictatorships specifically?

  555. #558 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    shorter hittesh @550:

    blah blah blah… argumentum ad populum, argument from authority, blah blah blahitty blah-blah.

  556. #559 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Your are right Ichthyic, godbots like Hithesh talk a lot, but remove the vapid illogical arguments, and there is nothing there.

  557. #560 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    er… first sentence was supposed to include “the situation is usually marginally less bad because they have to share, which explains why they…”

  558. #561 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    I like Krishnamurti…. he often gets hijacked shamelessly by New Agers whose views are actually contrary to his

    Quite. From Wikipedia: “He claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy”. He completely rejected the idea of gurus and spiritual leaders: “All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.”

  559. #562 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Cara: “Hope for something better is a pretty constant part of the human condition. Why would we need a great conductor in the sky to create it?”
    Who said anything about needing a great conductor in the sky to create it? I wish individuals spent a little more time carefully reading. First of all I’m not making a case for God, or making a claim such as since such hope exists, there is a god. I’m providing a psychological analysis of the belief, one that I would make no differently if i was an atheist.

    Secondly, just because certain beliefs are a pretty constant part of the human condition, that doesn’t mean that some of these beliefs are not absurd. Self-deception in certain animals has an evolutionary advantage doesn’t make self-deception any less irrational. Hope in hopelessness may have had a tremendous affect on humanity, but it’s still absurd.

    “the idea that since people sometimes feel the same thing at the same time there’s some Magic Power that makes it so.”

    What are you talking about?

    Let’s break what’s been into even more basic blocks, in hopes that individuals here can finally comprehend what’s being said.

    When we have hope, it mean that we faith in the eventual realization of that hope. We have faith in whatever force of power can bring that hope into realization. A non-absurd hope, is one that we have reasons for, it involves a faith in something in reality, such as soldiers, the government, family, friends.

    Hope in hopelessness such as the hope of slaves, is an absurdity, a superstition, it has no basis in reality, it has no reasons for it, no evidence in support of it to convince anyone to believe. The slaves don’t have faith, in the physical strength and will of their fellow slaves, or faith in grand white saviors, or in politics. It doesn’t involve any sort of faith in reality, reality has only given them reasons to be hopeless.

    But just as any other sense of hope, it involves a belief in force or power that can bring their hope into realization. But for slaves this is unseen, a grand mystery, it’s a faith in power transcendent to reality, since reality itself doesn’t do it. And the name given for this empowering is God.

    Hope is not a belief contained in itself, it involves other conditions of possibility, to have hope, implies we have faith it what can bring it to realization. The slaves hope in hopeless, his spiritual hymn, and belief in God don’t equal two, it’s a unifying part of that belief, an inseparable notion of it, as if they are one and the same thing.

  560. #563 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    hithesh, hope doesn’t need god. We keep telling you that. Learn something. Otherwise, you just sound like a delusional fool.

  561. #564 Patricia, OM
    May 11, 2009

    What the hell? How come we only get the worst sort of second hand christian here?

    Where are the True Christians , the ones that know humans are made by gawd, in gawds image? The ones that believe GOD walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden?

    What a bunch of back peddling, bed wetting sissies.

  562. #565 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    Let’s break what’s been into even more basic blocks, in hopes that individuals here can finally comprehend what’s being said.

    For that to happen, you would have to learn to write (and think) coherently.

  563. #566 Wowbagger,OM
    May 11, 2009

    hithest wrote:

    Let’s break what’s been into even more basic blocks, in hopes that individuals here can finally comprehend what’s being said.

    Maybe the problem isn’t with the reader but the writer. Perhaps you should focus more on coherence and actually making points rather than writing wafty twaddle like this:
    ‘Hope is not a belief contained in itself, it involves other conditions of possibility, to have hope, implies we have faith it what can bring it to realization. The slaves hope in hopeless, his spiritual hymn, and belief in God don’t equal two, it’s a unifying part of that belief, an inseparable notion of it, as if they are one and the same thing.’

    I’ve gone over this a few times and I still can’t make it make sense – and your odd comma usage isn’t helping.

  564. #567 RamblinDude
    May 11, 2009

    Quite. From Wikipedia: “He claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy”. He completely rejected the idea of gurus and spiritual leaders: “All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.”

    Yep, that’s classic Krishnamurti. He always did make me smile.

  565. #568 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    I’m providing a psychological analysis of the belief, one that I would make no differently if i was an atheist.

    you have a strange understanding of what “psychological analysis” means, then.

    I would lean towards describing your posts as more “personal opinions for the justifications of belief” instead.

    When we have hope, it mean that we faith in the eventual realization of that hope.

    this, right after describing self-delusion as “absurd”.

    if you want to make this statement coherent, you need to remove “faith” and substitute “evidence”.

    because otherwise, faith without evidence is self-delusion.

    It doesn’t involve any sort of faith in reality, reality has only given them reasons to be hopeless.

    it’s a ludicrous example, but OK, let’s run with this. Then by that logic, there should be no religions at all, unless they are all based on self-delusion.

    funny, but isn’t that essentially what’s already been said by others here to you?

  566. #569 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    Ichthyic: “if you want to make this statement coherent, you need to remove “faith” and substitute “evidence”.

    Please, i know atheist get quite sensitive when the “f” word gets passed around, not allowing it to be applied in it’s common usage, as we would in saying I have faith in my wife or my child, or faith in scientific hypothesis. You can have faith with or without evidence, i.e. “i have faith that assumption made by the evidence is right.”

    I suggest you go back and reply again with this in mind.

  567. #570 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 11, 2009

    Faith in scientific hypothesis.

    does not compute.

    Main Entry:
    1faith Listen to the pronunciation of 1faith
    Pronunciation:
    \?f?th\
    Function:
    noun
    Inflected Form(s):
    plural faiths Listen to the pronunciation of faiths \?f?ths, sometimes ?f?thz\
    Etymology:
    Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust ? more at bide
    Date:
    13th century

    1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1): fidelity to one’s promises (2): sincerity of intentions
    2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
    3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction ; especially : a system of religious beliefs synonyms see belief
    ? on faith
    : without question

  568. #571 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    if you want to make this statement coherent you need to remove “faith” and substitute “evidence”.

    I don’t think that helps (in fact it would make it even more incoherent). Even if we make his statement coherent by adding the missing letter (“s”) and word (“have”), it remains false: when we hope for something, We do not have “faith”, or even an expectation, that it will occur. “I hope that X” means approximately “X is possible and I desire X”. Consider: “I hope my friend’s house didn’t burn down”, “I hope the economy improves”, I hope my favorite team wins” … these have nothing to do with faith, expectation, or evidence; they express a preference for one outcome over others.

  569. #572 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    I suggest you go back and reply again with this in mind.

    I suggest that everyone recognize how fruitless it is to debate with someone so muddled in his thought processes and so poor at communicating them.

  570. #573 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    faith |f??|
    noun

    1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something : this restores one’s faith in politicians.

    ? a strongly held belief or theory : the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.

    Are scientist incapable of suggesting a hypothesis they have complete trust in confidence in, that it would be proven right? Faith only conveys how confident we are about an expected result, and it can just as easily be applied to a scientific hypothesis.

  571. #574 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    because otherwise, faith without evidence is self-delusion.

    If one takes “faith” to mean “trust”, it would be not just delusional but incredibly foolish to trust without evidence (there’s a word for that, but it’s not in the dictionary).

  572. #575 Rorschach
    May 11, 2009

    Are scientist incapable of suggesting a hypothesis they have complete trust in confidence in, that it would be proven right?

    Ohhh,not this one again !!!

  573. #576 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    Are scientist incapable of suggesting a hypothesis they have complete trust in confidence in, that it would be proven right? Faith only conveys how confident we are about an expected result, and it can just as easily be applied to a scientific hypothesis.

    The degree of confidence is a function of the strength of evidence that supports the hypothesis. But the only scientists who have complete confidence are stupid and incompetent.

  574. #577 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    Are scientist incapable of suggesting a hypothesis they have complete trust in confidence in, that it would be proven right? Faith only conveys how confident we are about an expected result, and it can just as easily be applied to a scientific hypothesis.

    you fail at understanding how science works. for one, the whole point of hypotheses is that scientists aren’t supposed to have such blind confidence in their own ideas. and two, science doesn’t “prove” things; it either disproves things, or provides evidence for things.

  575. #578 Anonymous
    May 11, 2009

    Posted by: nothing’s sacred:
    “I suggest that everyone recognize how fruitless it is to debate with someone so muddled in his thought processes and so poor at communicating them.”

    Well, you ever think the problem is not that my thoughts are muddled, but rather you’re just too stupid to comprehend it? You, like a creationist go around calling ever argument made for evolution muddled, rather than asking questions to help clarify their confusion. This says more about you than it does about me.

  576. #579 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    P.S. Why would anyone have complete confidence that a hypothesis will be proven right if it hasn’t been proven right? Anyone who does that is bad at science.

  577. #580 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    Well, you ever think the problem is not that my thoughts are muddled, but rather you’re just too stupid to comprehend it?

    I have thought of that, but it’s obviously false.

    You, like a creationist go around calling ever argument made for evolution muddled

    Uh, no, I only called yours muddled, as it obviously is.

  578. #581 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    I suggest that everyone recognize how fruitless it is to debate with someone so muddled in his thought processes and so poor at communicating them.

    And here I’ve gone ahead and done it myself, sigh. Goodbye to this thread.

  579. #582 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Well, you ever think the problem is not that my thoughts are muddled, but rather you’re just too stupid to comprehend it?

    No Hithesh, your writing is vague incoherent, rambling, and nonsensical. The problem isn’t with us, but with you. Those who think so vaguely tend be delusional, and you keep proving you are with every post. You have no real idea of how science is done. I am a 30+ year practitioner of science, so I know of what I speak.

    Since you can’t coherently state your ideas, get some sleep and try again tomorrow. But I suspect you will have the same problem then.

  580. #583 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Jade: “and two, science doesn’t “prove” things; it either disproves things, or provides evidence for things.”

    You’re right science doesn’t “prove” anything, I should have replaced it with “shown to be right”.

    “you fail at understanding how science works. for one, the whole point of hypotheses is that scientists aren’t supposed to have such blind confidence in their own ideas.”

    Who said a hypothesis is based on blind confidence? The hypothesis itself in based on some degree of evidence, some sort of observance or what else, that serves as the reason for why the hypothesis was made in the first place. I can be quite confident that when further testing and analysis is done, that my hypothesis will turn out right, and there’s nothing that prohibit a scientist from having such confidence in their assumptions like that. Or anything inherently wrong about this.

    And just become I have a complete trust that an assumption of mine will turn out right, doesn’t mean that I have an absolute confidence in it. Having complete confidence, doesn’t mean that if my assumption turns out wrong, that I’m incapable of accepting it.

    I’m sure you understand that every hypothesis a scientist makes is not treated with the same degree of confidence, they might be less confident about some of them, and more confident about other ones.

  581. #584 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    wait, before you go, what’s happening in SB?

    It’s hard to get much detail over here.

  582. #585 Kagato
    May 11, 2009

    Well, you ever think the problem is not that my thoughts are muddled, but rather you’re just too stupid to comprehend it?

    See, if every time you try and explain something, every single person who responds has misunderstood you, that usually means you are failing to communicate.

    Take a step back, gather your scattered thoughts, and give us a single paragraph — a couple of sentences, no more than 5 or 6 lines worth — to clearly and succinctly explain whatever the hell it is you’re trying to get across.

    Don’t go for flowery prose. Don’t phrase it as a mangled reply to someone else, let your comment stand on its own for once. And for chrissake don’t bring mention the bloody child-staring-at-the-stars crap again; if you can’t say something meaningful independent of that, you probably don’t have anything worth hearing.

  583. #586 Jadehawk
    May 11, 2009

    Who said a hypothesis is based on blind confidence?

    are you having problems with English comprehension, too? “having blind confidence in X” != “X is based on blind confidence”

    as a the point is not to have such great confidence even in ideas for which there’s some evidence, before those ideas have even been tested.

  584. #587 Patricia, OM
    May 11, 2009

    What?

    I have 50 years as a True Bible Believing christian, and even I can’t understand this hithesh character.

    Damn Dollar Store trolls. *snort*

  585. #588 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Hithesh, still no physical evidence for your god. Science is all about evidence. Put up evidence (no talk, something physical), or just shut up about it. Welcome to science. And those who can’t put up but can’t shut up are delusional fools.

  586. #589 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    wait, before you go, what’s happening in SB?

    See http://www.countyofsb.org/ceo/dept0.aspx

  587. #590 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2009

    You’re right science doesn’t “prove” anything, I should have replaced it with “shown to be right”.

    that’s not the function of science, either.

    hypotheses are tested for problems, not for confirmation.

    It’s my job as a scientist, after constructing an hypothesis, to construct experiments designed to try and tear it down, not build it up.

    We don’t use “shown to be right”, instead we say “supported by experiment until it isn’t”.

    As a person, I can say that some things have been tested by experiment and prediction to such an extent that it’s simply no longer plausible to think they will be rejected entirely by any new information.

    However, as a scientist I say things like “the current theory of evolution is supported by the fact that it has survived tens of thousands of attempts to reject it, and has accurate predictive value”

    Who said a hypothesis is based on blind confidence?

    nobody except you. You seem to have misread what you responded to.

    I can be quite confident that when further testing and analysis is done, that my hypothesis will turn out right, and there’s nothing that prohibit a scientist from having such confidence in their assumptions like that. Or anything inherently wrong about this.

    the problem comes when you apply “confidence” as “faith” and suggest that there is nothing wrong with confidence based on no evidence whatsoever.

    In fact, I think you will find that a scientist’s personal confidence in the outcome of any given experiment is based on a LOT of already known information.

    it’s not faith, it’s more of a probability estimate based on already known information.

    NOT the same thing at all.

    I’ve grown weary of your conflation and misrepresentation (or misunderstanding) of terms and definitions as you ramble ever onwards.

  588. #591 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    And just become I have a complete trust that an assumption of mine will turn out right, doesn’t mean that I have an absolute confidence in it.

    Muddle.

  589. #592 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Well, you ever think the problem is not that my thoughts are muddled, but rather you’re just too stupid to comprehend it?

    No, the problem really is that your thoughts are muddled; that’s perfectly clear. Embrace coherence just a little and we might actually be able to work out what you’re saying and respond to it.

  590. #593 hithesh
    May 11, 2009

    Nerdy: “No Hithesh, your writing is vague incoherent, rambling, and nonsensical. The problem isn’t with us, but with you. Those who think so vaguely tend be delusional, and you keep proving you are with every post. ”

    Well, buddy I’ve been on forums long enough to know how rare few individuals accuse me of being incoherent. But when ever we’re anaylzing or expounding on a complex phenemonem such as religion, you’re not going to get any sort of cookie cutter, easy to chew explanation. You’re not going to find that “sesame street” shit here.

    I’m sure when you read humanist Pyscholonalyst Erich Fromm “Psychonalaysis and Religion, you’d be far more muddled by it, if my break down of Fromm’s argument here puzzles you.

    But I want to test this. Here’s summary of Fromm’s work, by an atheist who does understand it:

    “Human beings, lacking the power to act at the behest of instincts alone while possessing the capacity for self-consciousness, reason and imagination, require a frame of orientation, a world-view and object of deviation in order to survive and unfold their potentialities.

    Without a structured and coherent map of our natural and social world, human beings, according to Fromm, would be confused and unable to act purposefully and consistently, because there would be no framework for orienting oneself, of finding a fixed point that allows one to organize all the impressions that impinge on the individual.

    ….Religion is one of those maps or frames of orientation created by humans, and despite its several weakness, fulfils its psychological function.

    [...] we lack total instinctive determination of our behaviour, and we have a complex brain that permits us to think of many directions we can take.

    Consequently, we require an object of devotion a focal point for the convergence of all our strivings and the fulcrum of our emotional and rational values.

    As Fromm maintains ?we need such an object of devotion, in order to integrate our energies in one direction, to transcend our isolated existence with all its doubts and insecurities, and to answer our need for a meaning to life.?”

    Do you understand this? Is it muddled to you? Is it a bunch of goobly-gook? If you can comprehend it, and expound on what’s being said coherently, than we might actually be able to have an intelligent conversation, rather than one that resorts to childish name calling.

    “I am a 30+ year practitioner of science, so I know of what I speak.”

    Haha, well i doubt your 30+ years of science makes you anymore of an expert on religion, than it does on politics, or art, of whatever else have you.

    And i tend to agree with Chomsky here:

    “On the ordinary problems of human life, science tells us very little, and scientists as people are surely no guide. In fact they are often the worst guide, because they often tend to focus, laser-like, on their professional interests and know very little about the world.”

    And scientist such as PZ Myers, Dawkins, Sam Harris, sure do help endorse this view.

  591. #594 nothing's sacred
    May 11, 2009

    Saying that your thinking is muddled is not “childish namecalling”; it isn’t even about you, really, but rather about the claims you’re making. That Chomsky quote, OTOH, is 100% ad hominem.

  592. #595 Wowbagger, OM
    May 11, 2009

    Well, buddy I’ve been on forums long enough to know how rare few individuals accuse me of being incoherent.

    He’s not your buddy, friend.

    Anyway, I’m guessing it’s because they ignore you, preferring not to wade through the textual equivalent of molasses to bother finding anything to engage with.

    Either that, or the forums you frequent are dominated by people with a similar penchant for content-free waffling and are too afraid to admit it for fear of having their own rambling drivel skipped over.

  593. #596 Tulse
    May 11, 2009

    Religion is one of those maps or frames of orientation created by humans, and despite its several weakness, fulfils its psychological function.

    So does fascism. The point isn’t that religion provides a “frame” or “map”, but that such map is wrong — it doesn’t actually reflect the real world. A map that is wrong is worse than useless, as it can lead to terrible errors (such as driving off the road or the Crusades).

  594. #597 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “In fact, I think you will find that a scientist’s personal confidence in the outcome of any given experiment is based on a LOT of already known information.”

    I can tell you what I believe the problem is here, you believe that faith means a belief without evidence. But I haven’t used faith with that implication. The gripe some one took with my use of faith in previous post, was a use of faith, no different than saying I have faith in my wife.

    “it’s not faith, it’s more of a probability estimate based on already known information.
    NOT the same thing at all.”

    Let’s try this:

    faith |f??|
    noun
    1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something

    Can a scientist have a complete trust in a belief “based on probability estimates and already known information.”?

  595. #598 chgo_liz
    May 12, 2009

    Thank you, PZ…thank you, thank you.

    I didn’t have the time to read all the comments, but I made the time. This has been a stellar thread.

    All the talk of Fatima & Cana, etc. made me wonder: what if the stories that were incorporated into the Christian Bible were once the Onion articles of their time?

  596. #599 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    Can a scientist have a complete trust in a belief “based on probability estimates and already known information.”?

    he could, but he wouldn’t be a very good scientist if he did. please note that complete trust/confidence is misplaced in science.

  597. #600 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “And just become I have a complete trust that an assumption of mine will turn out right, doesn’t mean that I have an absolute confidence in it.”

    Posted by: nothing’s sacred | May 11, 2009 11:36 PM
    “Muddle.”

    Let’s see:

    Absolute confidence in something being right: It’s going to be right, there’s no way it can be wrong, no evidence can arise to reveal that it’s wrong. My wife didn’t cheat on me no matter what anybody says.

    Complete Confidence: I’m pretty confident that my assumption is going to be right. i believe it’s unlikely that further analysis is going to reveal my assumption to be wrong. But in the unlikely hood that evidence comes in contrary to my assumption, I can accept that my assumption was wrong. I have faith my wife didn’t cheat on me, I’m completely confident that she didn’t, but if you have solid evidence, and reason to doubt that she’s faithful I can accept it that perhaps she did cheat on me.

    If it’s still muddled than God help you.

  598. #601 Wowbagger, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Can a scientist have a complete trust in a belief “based on probability estimates and already known information.”?

    A scientist can read the relevant journal articles and research and – significantly – perform the same experiment themselves. The trust a scientist has for other scientiest is based, at least in part, on them all following the same procedures to reach their conclusions.

    If one scientists makes claims that other scientists can’t follow and replicate, those claims are thrown out.

  599. #602 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    lol… #600 actually reminds me of how DnD ranks sizes… because of COURSE colossal is bigger than gargantuan. :-p

  600. #603 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    the unlikely hood

    quoted for awesomeness of garbling. and because now I want an unlikely hood (that, too, sounds like something form DnD)

  601. #604 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “he could, but he wouldn’t be a very good scientist if he did. please note that complete trust/confidence is misplaced in science.”

    Only if complete trust means 100% certainty right? If it means less than that, then it doesn’t say much about if he’s a good scientist or not?

    Do you have anything in your life you would say you have faith in, like faith in your wife, or children, or fellow human beings? Do you have faith that your wife is not cheating on you, or that your best friend isn’t an ax-murder? If so, are you a 100% certain of this?

  602. #605 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    lol, yes. I have “faith” that my best friend isn’t an axe-murderer. exactly the same “faith” that all the best friends of actual axe-murderers had before being proven wrong.

  603. #606 Wowbagger, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Only if complete trust means 100% certainty right?

    Yes, you unhinged twit. In this context the word ‘complete’ means 100% – to everyone other than you at least.

    Newsflash: just because you want words to mean certain things doesn’t mean they do. If you can’t argue your points beyond prattling on about whether ‘complete’ can mean the same as ‘absolute’ then you’re wasting your time and ours.

  604. #607 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “quoted for awesomeness of garbling. and because now I want an unlikely hood.”
    :)

    Oh shit, instead of “unlikelihood” i wrote “unlikely hood” and it was so fucking garbled, that our 30+ year scientist couldn’t figure that shit out.

    If that kind of shit bat shit confuses you, no wonder you have comprehension issues.

  605. #608 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    now he’s confusing me with Nerd?

    dude, stop talking, you’re making it worse.

  606. #609 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Complete Confidence: I’m pretty confident that my assumption is going to be right.

    I’m pretty confident that you’re an idiot.

  607. #610 Janine, OMnivore
    May 12, 2009

    Sometimes, it is too much fun to just sit back and watch the regulars vivisection a troll.

    Can’t even tell the deference between Jadehawk and Nerd. This muddled and garbled thinking and communicating is such great low comedy.

  608. #611 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Another possibility is that he’s drunk off his ass. That would explain why he can only occasionally remember to enter his name. But even if he is drunk off his ass, I’m still pretty confident that he’s an idiot.

  609. #612 Wowbagger,OM
    May 12, 2009

    If that kind of shit bat shit confuses you, no wonder you have comprehension issues.

    I know I always get confused by shit bat shit :)

    Seriously, dude, don’t huff and blog. It’s hilarious for us, but I’m of the opinion you can’t really afford to lose any more brain function.

    Damn, I can’t stop giggling at that gem.

  610. #613 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#607 – “unlikelihood” would still be garbled, at least grammatically. “Unlikely event” makes sense there, but you really need to respond to #606 – when used as an unqualified adverb, “complete” is a perfect synonym to “absolute”. The accusations of incoherence leveled at you are perfectly justified, because your use of English is demonstrably incorrect. If you cannot use the language properly, it is absolutely, completely your fault that your thoughts are not understood by your audience.

  611. #614 Janine, OMnivore
    May 12, 2009

    All of a sudden, I want to figure out how I can shit bat shit while wearing my unlikely hood. I have faith that I can do it.

  612. #615 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    dude, stop talking, you’re making it worse.

    Yup. His moronic claim that “complete trust” is not only different from “absolute confidence” but is the same as “pretty confident” takes him even further from his point, which was some strawman about whether scientists have “faith” … an equivocation, a word play on faith as trust (which is usually based on evidence) and faith as unfounded belief.

  613. #616 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “Yes, you unhinged twit. In this context the word ‘complete’ means 100% – to everyone other than you at least[....]If you can’t argue your points beyond prattling on about whether ‘complete’ can mean the same as ‘absolute’ then you’re wasting your time and ours.”

    No, you fucking moron. Do a google news search for “complete trust”. In our everyday usage we don’t use the term literally, to mean we are 100% certain. In everyday usage we imply it to mean the entirety of one’s trust (the most trust I am willing to give).

    In a claim such as “I have complete trust that my wife won’t cheat on me,” what’s not meant by this is that I’m 100% certain that she won’t, that there’s not even a infidecimial chance that she won’t. That no evidence can ever be presented to make me belief otherwise. If “complete trust” was used in such a strict fashion as you purpose, than it would hardly ever be applied to anything.

    All these sentences in the google news search, would be absurd:

    “I have complete trust in the America that voted Obama ”

    “She was known in the campaign for her ability to resolve conflicts and for having Obama’s complete trust. ”

    “Ruta says investors need to be actively engaged in their money management even when they have complete trust in their advisers.”

  614. #617 Kagato
    May 12, 2009

    #593:
    No, no, no. One paragraph, remember? Short and sweet.

    Tell you what, let’s make it even simpler — summarise whatever your position is in one sentence. Make a bald assertion, you don’t even need to support it (we can always follow up). Just make it specific.

    But no, so far instead you’ve quoted a vague snippet of someone else rather than just stating your position:

    “Without a structured and coherent map of our natural and social world, human beings, according to Fromm, would be confused and unable to act purposefully and consistently, because there would be no framework for orienting oneself [...]
    Religion is one of those maps or frames of orientation created by humans, and despite its several weakness, fulfils its psychological function. [...]
    Consequently, we require an object of devotion a focal point for the convergence of all our strivings and the fulcrum of our emotional and rational values. [...]
    ?we need such an object of devotion, in order to integrate our energies in one direction, to transcend our isolated existence with all its doubts and insecurities, and to answer our need for a meaning to life.?”

    Do you understand this? Is it muddled to you? Is it a bunch of goobly-gook?

    I was originally going to say “no, just vapid and meaningless”, but now that I read it again… yeah, some of it really is gobbledy-gook. I mean, “focal point for the convergence of all our strivings and the fulcrum of our emotional and rational values”? Come on.

    Read that last sentence of Fromm’s again.

    To paraphrase: “People need to focus on something they feel gives them meaning, because it makes them feel better and answers their need for meaning”. He’s just begging the question.

    Regarding “Religion is one of those maps or frames of orientation [that] fulfils its psychological function”:

    I could draw you a map to Candy Mountain, and while it might comfort you to know that (if you could just figure out how to read it) the map can guide you to the “Mecca of love”, it’s still complete bollocks. It’s not “guiding” you in any meaningful sense; you still don’t know where you’re going, you’ve just stopped thinking about it.

    So, is that your point — Religion guides us, somehow? Well, maybe not guide per se, but at least it gives us meaning? Okay, not meaning meaning, but it makes people feel nice?

    And is therefore necessary?

    As for your later comments:

    And just become I have a complete trust that an assumption of mine will turn out right, doesn’t mean that I have an absolute confidence in it.

    Protip: “complete” and “absolute” are synonyms.

    Complete Confidence: I’m pretty confident…

    If you mean “pretty confident”, then why say “completely confident”?

    And you’re sure no-one has trouble understanding you on other forums…?

  615. #618 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    … vivisection a troll. Can’t even tell the deference …

    Caution: your keyboard appears to have been taken over by a spell checker.

  616. #619 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    infidecimial

    Is that an attempt at coining a word? If Google points to it, it’ll be here first.

    So, is that a lot, or a little? I mean, context is usually a guide, but I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of trust in my capacity to glean intent based on what I’ve read so far.

  617. #620 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    No, you fucking moron. Do a google news search for “complete trust”. In our everyday usage we don’t use the term literally, to mean we are 100% certain. In everyday usage we imply it to mean the entirety of one’s trust (the most trust I am willing to give).

    entirety = 100%, MORON.

  618. #621 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#616 Stop with the gormless equivocation. If you do a google news search for “absolute trust” you get results that are semantically equivalent to those given by a search for “complete trust”. Aside from some very specific technical contexts, complete and absolute both mean the same damn thing.

  619. #622 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    vivisection a troll. Can’t even tell the deference

    Is there a vas deferens between trolls before and after they’ve been vivisected?

  620. #623 Grendels Dad
    May 12, 2009

    I don’t think the scientist needs to leave the room between testing the water/wine. In the South Park episode Jesus just asked everyone to “turn around for a second.”

  621. #624 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    i see; this is merely another case of a moron not understanding that colloquial and incorrect use of words does not magically make those words actually conform to the misapplied meaning.

    if I hiss at my boyfriend that he never does the dishes, and actually mean that he does them too rarely for my taste, that doesn’t suddenly mean that “never” is synonymous to “rarely”; it merely means I’m using hyperbole for dramatic effect.

    “absolute/complete trust” is used the same in social context; science is not a social context, so your ramblings and equivocations about “faith” “complete trust” and “absolute confidence” are completely and utterly misplaced.

  622. #625 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “when used as an unqualified adverb, “complete” is a perfect synonym to “absolute”.

    You’re right, but this is not how we use it when we refer to terms such as “complete trust” or “complete confidence”. You can clearly see this from our everyday usage of the term, that this is not what’s being implied, that we’re not speaking in absolute terms.

    If the extent of my confidence is “pretty confident”, or if I am only willing to afford at the most 99% certainty towards anything, whatever I afford this extent of trust to, get’s my complete trust. It’s not inconsistent of me to give my absolute trust to anything, and yet give my complete trust to something. Because complete trust in our everyday usage means the entirety of one’s trust, not that the entirety is absolute.

    It’s not rocket science here, we speak of having faith (complete trust) in our children, in our wives, in our government, even to certain ideals, but we rarely if ever mean this to be an absolute sort of trust, in infallible, can never be proven otherwise sort of way.

  623. #626 Kseniya
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, I wouldn’t say you’re incoherent, and you may not often be accused of being so, but that may tell us more about fora you habitually frequent than it does about the quality of your prose. Some of your paragraphs are cogent, while others are so poorly written the meaning is difficult to apprehend, and prompt me to wonder to myself (and not for the first time) whether English might not be your native tongue. No offense meant.

    The Chomsky quote is ludicrous in this context. It’s true in the only sense that it can be true: Science doesn’t have much to tell us about how to live our daily lives. I can eat a meal, open a door, and conduct a relationship without having to know the physics and biology of it all. But so what? As Nothing Sacred said, the quote is pure ad hom. The same criticism could be leveled at some meaningful proportion of people in any number of professions and vocations, the clergy not least of all. Consider how most American Catholics ignore virtually everything the Pope has to say. Why? Because this great moral leader of billions is so hopelessly out of touch with reality, it would be foolish, even reckless, to follow his instructions.

  624. #627 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Look, idiot, competent scientists do not have “complete trust”, whether that is 100%, or 99%, or any other of your alleged “everyday usage” in their hypotheses, unless they already have overwhelming evidence in support of it. So just STFU, because you’re too boring and stupid for this place and you have no friends, supporters, or anyone whom you’re going to sway.

  625. #628 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#625 No, you don’t get to use the hard literal context for “absolute” as opposed to the social, hyperbolic context for “complete” without some very specific signaling that you are changing contexts. In post #583, the phrases “complete confidence” and “absolute confidence” are semantically identical despite your attempt to contrast them. That is why people are correctly accusing you of incoherent use of the language.

  626. #629 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    @Kseniya

    hithesh wrote in #562

    Let’s break what’s been into even more basic blocks, in hopes that individuals here can finally comprehend what’s being said.

    And I responded

    For that to happen, you would have to learn to write (and think) coherently.

    Take a look at his “even more basic blocks” in #562 and see if maybe I didn’t have a point.

  627. #630 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    i see; this is merely another case of a moron not understanding that colloquial and incorrect use of words does not magically make those words actually conform to the misapplied meaning.

    I asked you to clarify how you were applying the term. If you were using “complete” trust in meaning of it everyday usage which it seems you are well now is not affording 100% certainty, or in a stricter form for where it does. I didn’t tell you had to apply the term this way or the other, i asked you to clarify how you were applying it.

    So you tell me whose the moron that didn’t understand the question?

    Regardless I’m done arguing about “complete trust”, I made my case that the term “complete trust” in our every day usage does not imply 100% certainty, you seem to agree with this, so I don’t know what else is left to argue here?

  628. #631 Kagato
    May 12, 2009

    It’s not inconsistent of me to give my absolute trust to anything, and yet give my complete trust to something. Because complete trust in our everyday usage means the entirety of one’s trust, not that the entirety is absolute.

    Holy crap, that is possibly the most ridiculous sentence I’ve yet read in the Pharyngula comments (and there has been some stiff competition). Is there a font even more goofy than Comic Sans?

    You’re trying to defend the indefensible. If someone says “I have complete confidence in Bob”, or says “I have absolute confidence in Bob”, they’re saying the same thing. In colloquial use like that, no one ever means it literally. Get over it.

    Stop, take deep breath, and start again.

    In a single sentence, what are you actually trying to tell us?

  629. #632 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#630 In everyday usage, the term “absolute trust” does not imply 100% certainty either. It is equivalent to the term “complete trust” in both the hard literal sense AND the everyday, colloquial sense. There’s nothing left to argue, all that’s left is for you to admit that your communication abilities are at best, imprecise.

  630. #633 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    In post #583, the phrases “complete confidence” and “absolute confidence” are semantically identical despite your attempt to contrast them.

    And his justification for this contrast is a complete non sequitur:

    And just become I have a complete trust that an assumption of mine will turn out right, doesn’t mean that I have an absolute confidence in it. Having complete confidence, doesn’t mean that if my assumption turns out wrong, that I’m incapable of accepting it.

    Neither “complete trust”, “absolute confidence”, nor “complete confidence” in any way implies that one is incapable of accepting that one was wrong.

  631. #634 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2009

    See http://www.countyofsb.org/ceo/dept0.aspx

    thanks, that’s the ticket.

  632. #635 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    @Anonymous/hithesh/troll/moron
    I’m done

    One can only hope (without confidence or faith).

  633. #636 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2009

    Because complete trust in our everyday usage means the entirety of one’s trust, not that the entirety is absolute.

    that one goes in my WTF?? file.

    thanks, though it seems to be getting a little full of late.

    for my last turn at this game, I’ll guess that the writer is trying to create some sort of artificial qualitative vs. quantitative distinction between “entirety” and “absolute”. Haven’t a clue which is intended to be which.

    conclusion: the person who wrote that line likes to reinvent words for fun and to waste time.

    nice job trolling the thread, though.

  634. #637 Kseniya
    May 12, 2009

    n.s.:

    Take a look at his “even more basic blocks” in #562 and see if maybe I didn’t have a point.

    Oh, I’m totally with you on that one. It was eerily similar to #435, in which he also lays out some unusual arithmetic involving God, belief(s), and the number two.

  635. #638 Grendels Dad
    May 12, 2009

    I don?t know why this guy has been called a discount troll. I mean, come on. He obfuscates, he equivocates, he prevaricates?

    If this guy had any more features RonCo would be selling him for $19.99.

  636. #639 Kseniya
    May 12, 2009

    (The intent of my my prior comment was to say that he’s not completely, absolutely, or entirely incoherent.)

    *smirk*

  637. #640 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    It was eerily similar to #435, in which he also lays out some unusual arithmetic involving God, belief(s), and the number two.

    What I got from that is that he thinks that hoping to achieve political change is irrational because the only thing that can make that happen is “God”, which is unconditional love. In addition to the incoherence, there is the denial of the hard work that it took to end slavery (especially since he apparently includes all of Jim Crow and institutional racism in that term). In #562 he contrasts such “absurd” hope with “A non-absurd hope, is one that we have reasons for, it involves a faith in something in reality, such as soldiers, the government, family, friends” — as if none of those had anything to do with ending slavery/institutional racism. Compared to those posts, hithesh’s comments about the entirety of complete but not absolute or 100% trust are the model of clarity.

  638. #641 Janine, OMnivore
    May 12, 2009

    Posted by: nothing’s sacred Author Profile Page | May 12, 2009

    … vivisection a troll. Can’t even tell the deference …

    Caution: your keyboard appears to have been taken over by a spell checker.

    It is even worse than that, this is what happens when a poor speller uses spell check.

  639. #642 Wowbagger, OM
    May 12, 2009

    No, incoherent-loon-of-many-names, please don’t go! You’re providing us all with no end of entertainment. I’m almost certain I’ve never read anything more unintentionally funny than your line about the confusing power of ‘shit bat shit’.

  640. #643 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “You’re trying to defend the indefensible. If someone says “I have complete confidence in Bob”, or says “I have absolute confidence in Bob”, they’re saying the same thing. In colloquial use like that, no one ever means it literally. Get over it.”

    You’re right. I erroneously treated “complete confidence” in it’s colloquial use, and didn’t take into consideration that “absolute confidence” is used in the same way, that there’s really no distinction between the two terms, in that they both can be used in a formal and informal manner, while I erroneously tried to distinguish one as formal and the other as informal.

    good shit :)

  641. #644 Kagato
    May 12, 2009

    I’m almost certain I’ve never read anything more unintentionally funny than your line about the confusing power of ‘shit bat shit’.

    Hey now, be fair. The really good bat shit isn’t nearly as confusing.

    I must say, his approach would probably be an awesome trolling technique in real life at parties. Walk up to a group having a conversation (could be about anything, it doesn’t matter) and whine at them “No, no noooo… you’ve got it all wrong, YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!“. Latch onto some random comment from someone and harp on it at intervals, but otherwise be as incomprehensible as possible. Throw in the occasional relevant word or two to keep people hooked in.

    I doubt I could come up with enough gibberish material, or keep a straight face for very long though.

  642. #645 Rosberry
    May 12, 2009

    @HiTesh. You wrote:

    Absolute confidence in something being right: It’s going to be right, there’s no way it can be wrong, no evidence can arise to reveal that it’s wrong. My wife didn’t cheat on me no matter what anybody says.
    Complete Confidence: I’m pretty confident that my assumption is going to be right. i believe it’s unlikely that further analysis is going to reveal my assumption to be wrong. But in the unlikely hood that evidence comes in contrary to my assumption, I can accept that my assumption was wrong

    I can see no reason for making a semantic difference between ?absolute? confidence and ?complete? confidence. Absolute means total and something is only complete if there is nothing missing. If you allow room for possible error then, by definition, your confidence is not complete. In other words, both of these terms means 100% confidence.

    All the non-exact sciences (mathematics is the only exact science with chemistry following closely behind) there is a degree of uncertainty about every finding. Our results are reported in levels and degrees of certainty based on the mathematics of chance.

    To give you some relevant examples:

    On the basis of what I know about my husband?s whereabouts during the day I estimate that there less than one chance in 50 that my husband is cheating on me right now (that?s a confidence level of 98%).

    On the basis of what I have read of your writing I think that there is less than one change in 100 that you have an education which includes biological, physical or statistical sciences at International Bacchelaureate level of higher (that?s a confidence level of 99%) and even less that you have mastered the elements of psycho-metrics or critical thinking.

    Please note that in neither case can I say that I am absolutely or completely (=100%) confident. There is the rare possibility that my husband is sneaking out of the house for 3am sex with another woman. There is a remote possibility that you have an American Bachelor level degree with a major in statistics but have forgotten the lot due to carbon monoxide poisoning or near drowning.


    As Fromm maintains ?we need such an object of devotion, in order to integrate our energies in one direction, to transcend our isolated existence with all its doubts and insecurities, and to answer our need for a meaning to life.?” ?Consequently, we require an object of devotion a focal point for the convergence of all our strivings and the fulcrum of our emotional and rational values. ??.Do you understand this? Is it muddled to you? Is it a bunch of goobly-gook? If you can comprehend it, and expound on what’s being said coherently, than we might actually be able to have an intelligent conversation…

    From my perspective as a psychologist, Fromm’s illustrative paradigm is a “bunch of goobly-gook”. Fromm was a theoretical psycho-anlyst, not an empirical psychologist. His theories are untestable and unfalsifiable which makes them the equivalent of religious doctrine, not science. In terms of PZ’s parable, he is painting elephant wings in the air.

    @PZMyers:

    It surprises me that no-one has yet recognized that Eagletosh was uttering prophecy, not talking about events which can be experienced in the “now”. The man was obviously possessed of sufficient vision to predict that gene manipulation will progress to the point where elephants will join pigs in the air.

  643. #646 Kagato
    May 12, 2009

    You’re right. I erroneously treated “complete confidence” in it’s colloquial use, and didn’t take into consideration that “absolute confidence” is used in the same way, that there’s really no distinction between the two terms, in that they both can be used in a formal and informal manner, while I erroneously tried to distinguish one as formal and the other as informal.

    Great! Glad we got that cleared up.

    Now… you were saying?

    (As an aside, I can reliably guess when you’re posting — about 2 minutes before me, while I’m typing. This message is hopefully short enough to break that pattern…)

  644. #647 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “A non-absurd hope, is one that we have reasons for, it involves a faith in something in reality, such as soldiers, the government, family, friends” — as if none of those had anything to do with ending slavery/institutional racism. ”

    No, they all had an influence in ending slavery, but none of them were the reasons for a slaves hope in his eventual freedom.

    I can be hopeful that one day the meek shall inherent the earth, the poor will be fed, there will be no more war, that people would turn their tools of destruction into tools of cultivation (swords beaten into plow shares). That the Jew and the Arab will one day sit at a table and break bread together.

    Can you see why such a hope is absurd? Nothing about reality conveys that this form of life is possible, in fact reality seems to suggest other wise. That’d I’d have a better chance of winning the lottery seven day consecutively than having this sort of hope realized.

    When we have no reason, no evidence, no basis in reality for hope, our hope is absurd.

    It doesn’t matter if somewhere down the line, what I hope fore miraculously comes to fruition, at the time I held it, it was no less absurd

    The hope of many slaves was not much different that this sort of absurdity.

    AM i still be confusing for you? If so show me what needs even more clarification

  645. #648 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#643 – Thank you. Now that that’s cleared up, we can go back to #583 with some hope of communicating clearly. With respect to the following statement:

    “I’m sure you understand that every hypothesis a scientist makes is not treated with the same degree of confidence, they might be less confident about some of them, and more confident about other ones.”

    “confidence”, as you are using it here, cannot correctly be applied directly to a hypothesis. A hypothesis is provisionally -assumed to be true-, and a prediction is made based on the assumed truth of the given hypothesis. An experiment is then performed to determine if the prediction was correct. If the experimental results invalidate the prediction, the hypothesis is discarded. If the outcome of the experiment corresponds to the prediction, then the hypothesis is retained.

    Now, a scientist (as a human being) will obviously have some expectation as to what the outcome of a given experiment will be, and this is what “confidence”, in the sense that you are using it, applies to. This confidence in an expected result has even quite probably aided in the selection of a useful hypothesis, i.e. one that provides the opportunity for experiments that will expand the scientist’s knowledge about the world. However – and this is a big however, btw – this “confidence” has absolutely no bearing on or relevance to the validity of the hypothesis. Only the actual results of experiment can provide any confidence in the validity of hypothesis in the scientific sense, never the scientist’s expectations or “confidence” in his predictions of experimental outcomes.

    When you’ve demonstrated that you understand this distinction, perhaps we can clear up your conflation of two exclusive definitions of “faith”. If that goes well, then we can maybe, possibly, discuss whatever the hell it is you mean by “hope”.

  646. #649 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “His theories are untestable and unfalsifiable which makes them the equivalent of religious doctrine, not science. In terms of PZ’s parable, he is painting elephant wings in the air.”

    Ah, so you’re comparing Erich Fromm to the Eagletosh character? If so, how do you distinguish Eagletosh, from writer such as Dostoevsky, or Thomas Mann who reflect and expound on the human condition in their own mediums?

  647. #650 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    did you seriously just attempt to compare art to science and say that if we don’t accept unsupported speculation in the latter, that we shouldn’t accept it in the former…?

  648. #651 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#647 – Never mind, I get it now. What you’re describing is a -wish-. Have you considered the possibility that people just sometimes want impossible things, or things that at the time are assumed to be impossible? No god is required for this desire to occur, nor does this desire itself necessarily equate to god.

    @#649 – I don’t make any distinction. Dostoevsky and Mann primarily wrote fiction. God and elephant wings are also simply fiction. Of course, some fiction is better art than other fiction, but that’s entirely beside the point.

  649. #652 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#647 – Never mind, I get it now. What you’re describing is a -wish-. Have you considered the possibility that people just sometimes want impossible things, or things that at the time are assumed to be impossible? No god is required for this desire to occur, nor does this desire itself necessarily equate to god.

    @#649 – I don’t make any distinction. Dostoevsky and Mann primarily wrote fiction. Similarly, god and elephant wings are fiction. Of course, some fiction is better art than other fiction, but that’s entirely beside the point.

  650. #653 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Twin “If that goes well, then we can maybe, possibly, discuss whatever the hell it is you mean by “hope”.”

    Well, I believe I’m using hope in the normal sense of the word, the only notion of it I’m excluding, is when we say things like I hope the underdog team wins tomorrow, or I hope i became a billionaire. These are notions of hope with out any real faith in what I hope for coming true at all.

    Compared to say I have hope, or I’m hopeful, meaning that I do have faith in what I hope for coming true, or being realized.

    The other distinction that I made was between absurd hope, and non-absurd hope.

    Reality can present us with promising conditions, hopes based on these conditions are not absurd– Hope in hopeful conditions. If we have such hopes, we can give the reasons for them, what evidence and such leads us to be hopeful.

    Reality can also present us with unpromising conditions, hopes based on these conditions are absurd–Hope in hopeless conditions. This sort of hope, has no reason for it, no evidence that lead us to be hopeful, nothing in reality to believe in that can make it happen.

    “When you’ve demonstrated that you understand this distinction, perhaps we can clear up your conflation of two exclusive definitions of “faith”.

    I’m not sure what you mean here?

  651. #654 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#647 – Never mind, I get it now. What you’re describing is a -wish-. Have you considered the possibility that people just sometimes want impossible things, or things that at the time are assumed to be impossible? No god is required for this desire to occur, nor does this desire itself necessarily equate to god.

    @#649 – I don’t make any distinction. Dostoevsky and Mann primarily wrote fiction. Similarly, god and elephant wings are fiction. Of course, some fiction is better art than other fiction, but that’s entirely beside the point.

  652. #655 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    Erk, sorry for the double post. As long as I’m here, the two definitions of faith that you’ve conflated are:

    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
    2. belief that is not based on proof

    These are (mostly) exclusive – #1 implies some evidence to support the confidence or trust, whereas #2 specifies that there is no evidence. You’ve used “faith” literally dozens of times in this thread, sometimes to mean 1, sometimes to mean 2, and you’ve resisted others’ attempts to draw a distinction between these contradictory definitions for the sake of simple clarity.

    W/r/t absurd hope, or hopeless hope, the very apogee of such a thing in the human heart is REGRET, the wish or hope that things could have been other than what they were. Wanting the past to change is the epitome, model and prototype of the phenomenon you describe, and the past never changes. Therefore, the god you posit is shown to be reliably impotent where and when it counts most – meaning that, for all human purposes, it does not exist, does not matter.

  653. #656 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    Twin: “Never mind, I get it now. What you’re describing is a -wish-. Have you considered the possibility that people just sometimes want impossible things, or things that at the time are assumed to be impossible?”

    People can want all sorts of impossible things, I want a lambroghini to fall out of the skys, but i’m not hopeful that one will though.

    We can all desire all sorts of ends, like world piece, and yet be fairly sure that it’s never gonna happen.

    Now, let’s just exclude the God belief for now. The distinction between wishing something and be hopeful about something is this: Both want a desirable end, only hopeful (or saying you have hope) implies that you believe that such an end will come about.

    The slave singing a hymn claiming that he’ll be free, is not only expressing his desire for a freedom, but his belief that he will eventually be freed. A wish to be free, doesn’t include the later.

    Do you understand this better now?

    “No god is required for this desire to occur, nor does this desire itself necessarily equate to god.”

    Well, I’ll leave the god question on the side line for now, until we’re somewhat on the same page, as to what it being implied by being hopeful.

  654. #657 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    tiny ” Wanting the past to change is the epitome, model and prototype of the phenomenon you describe, and the past never changes. ”

    No, again, I think the last post should have clarified this, I made it a point in my other post to exclude the use of hope in the sense that you’re replying. In the way I’d tell her gf I just broken up with, that “I really hoped that things would have worked out differently.” As an expression of regret for the past, or as a wish.

    I’m speaking of hope, as in hopeful, where it’s forward looking, a faith in a change in the future of a present condition, is not regret dwelling, but optimistic.

  655. #658 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    I’m speaking of hope, as in hopeful, where it’s forward looking, a faith in a change in the future of a present condition, is not regret dwelling, but optimistic.

    That’s just silly. Faith adds nothing to hope beyond a validation of a delusion. Faith is a nothing mental condition, and it’s the beliefs validated by faith that give people hope. If someone believes in God, it isn’t the faith that gives them hope but the belief in God. Faith adds nothing to the human condition, so your whole point about faith giving hope is one huge red herring.

  656. #659 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    @#656 Okay, Let’s review:

    A) A person strongly desires outcome “X”
    B) To the extent of their knowledge, outcome “X” is absurdly unlikely or even outright impossible.
    C) However, they have faith that outcome “X” will obtain, either in the absence of evidence to support said faith or even in spite of strong evidence indicating that outcome “X” cannot happen.

    Right so far? I hope so.

    Now, at any time there are three possible eventualities with respect to outcome “X”.

    1) Outcome “X” happens.

    This merely demonstrates that the person with the absurd or hopeless hope was wrong about the likelihood of outcome “X”, or in other words – the hope was never absurd or hopeless, they merely thought that it was.

    2) Events progress to the point where Outcome “X” can never obtain, e.g., the person has the hopeless hope that their child will recover from an incurable terminal illness and then the kid dies.

    This merely demonstrates that faith without evidence can be easily misplaced, and that the person was wrong in their belief that outcome “X” would obtain.

    3) Outcome “X” has not yet obtained, yet has not been definitively eliminated as a possibility.

    In this case, we simply haven’t waited long enough – but we can be assured that we’ll hit 1) or 2) if we do. This is usually the gap that god is stuffed into by Christian theology, especially w/r/t eschatology – as an aside, I can tell you that the vast majority of adherents to such beliefs would take serious offense to categorizing the resurrection of the dead on Judgment day as an absurd or hopeless hope – they see it as a promised hope, and absolute certainty. However, even if we don’t have time to wait and we want to keep hoping, the very fact that we cannot definitively eliminate the possibility that outcome “X” will obtain means that B) is not true! We know that “X” is merely very unlikely, not impossible, because we’re not at result 2)!

    Sorry man, there’s no room for god in this argument. I looked everywhere.

  657. #660 ZMW
    May 12, 2009

    “People can want all sorts of impossible things, I want a lambroghini to fall out of the skys, but i’m not hopeful that one will though.”

    You are confusing hope with expectation. I am capable of hoping something will happen without expecting that it will.

    “I’m speaking of hope, as in hopeful, where it’s forward looking, a faith in a change in the future of a present condition, is not regret dwelling, but optimistic.”

    Could you be more incoherent? How does your quibbling on semantics help your case? What is your case in the first place?

    The closest thing I can see to an argument in your posts is that belief in god is warranted because people sometimes think things will change even if they have no evidence for that belief. Not that you back this up or explain it in any way.

    You also seem to think that scientist reach conclusions the same way- by being really confident or something. I really don’t know. You make my head hurt.

    Please explain what exactly you believe in and state the reasons that support that belief.

  658. #661 Stephen Wells
    May 12, 2009

    When will hithesh/anonymous grasp that _wishing for things does not make them true_? It’s a simple concept that many five-year-olds can cope with but some adults seem to get stuck on.

  659. #662 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    Belief in the healing powers of homoeopathy may give someone a hope that they can beat terminal cancer, while someone who is on the latest knowledge of cutting edge medicine would not have that hope. But so what? Homoeopathy is still complete garbage even if it does give people hope. Same goes for a belief in God, it may be that because they believe in a universe where magic happens (known to them as a miracle) they have hope for the impossible. It doesn’t make God any more or any less true.

    And by taking this approach, one must concede that it’s not even faith in God that gives hope, it’s a belief in anything that promises the miraculous. What do people need religion for when there are a million other things out there that fill that same gap? It’s conceding a belief in belief, and doesn’t make the case for God (or homoeopathy) in the slightest. No evidence for your God = delusion.

  660. #663 Feynmaniac
    May 12, 2009

    Can we please get a Hithesh-to-English dictionary?

    I have to go with pretty much everyone here and say that your thoughts are muddled. Maybe the thoughts in your head make some sort of sense in there, but after they have been typed out they don’t.

    Honestly, when you write something like:

    When we have hope, it mean that we faith in the eventual realization of that hope.

    can you understand why people have trouble reading you?

    Even when we try and break things down to agree on basic terms you remain baffling. “Absolute confidence” is taken literally but “Complete Confidence” isn’t?

    Now you say :

    The distinction between wishing something and be hopeful about something is this: Both want a desirable end, only hopeful (or saying you have hope) implies that you believe that such an end will come about.

    No, no one uses those terms like that. Have you ever heard phrases like “I hope you die in a fire” or “I hope I win the lottery”? Did you really think that when people say “I hope X” they always, or even most of time, believe X will happen?

    Please take some courses in linguistics or statistics or any courses in the sciences. Anything to develop your critical thinking and communications skills.

  661. #664 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 12, 2009

    Windows wins by supporting the software I use

    That’s backwards. Windows wins because the people who write the software you use only support it. And they will continue to do so until their customers demand otherwise.

    Ah, inertia.

  662. #665 Rorschach
    May 12, 2009

    Windows wins by supporting the software I use

    Wins a prize for stupidest comment.On this thread,anyway.

  663. #666 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    That’s backwards. Windows wins because the people who write the software you use only support it. And they will continue to do so until their customers demand otherwise.

    True, but to deprive myself of the software I use for some hypothetical software support in the future is just plain silly. While I feed the system, there simply is no other way around it.

  664. #667 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    Wins a prize for stupidest comment.On this thread,anyway.

    It was an honest reflection of the reality of the situation. I’ve used linux before and even now on Windows I still use a lot of open source software that runs on different platforms. Hell, even for development I use a unix emulator on my PC. But quite simply I play too many games that run on Windows-only, that ties me to the operating system. Because in the end, what matters when you use a computer is what you can do with it. I would prefer to use linux, but there isn’t the software support to be a gamer under linux. So before you say it’s a stupid comment, consider what role an operating system plays with the software above it. The software I use is only supported on Windows so because of that I use Windows, pure and simple.

  665. #668 Rorschach
    May 12, 2009

    Kel,

    sorry,seems i plugged the comment out of context.

    As to gaming,I have an XP partition in a virtual machine that does my gaming for me,i guess if youre serious about online gaming etc that doesnt do,well,same with my online soccer needs,those chinese hackers just dont want to code for Unix lol…..
    Other than that,I hate to use the Xp partition,just too dangerous and fault-ridden !

  666. #669 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2009

    Windows is as big of a pain in my ass as anyones, but the truth is it is still the most used OS in business and because of my job and the amount of work I do not sitting in my office I have to use windows. Because of that I’m not spending the cash to get a MAC (though I would if I had extra cash lying around) so I can run Photoshop, Lightroom and a host of other photo tools (and the occasional game though that’s less and less important). I don’t think GIMP is nearly as good as photoshop so that is a problem. But I use linux servers where ever possible at the office. Weaning users off windows to linux desktops is not worth the trouble as most of our users are idiots as it is.

    Where we really should be focusing our rage is at people who put ketchup on their hotdogs.

  667. #670 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    If it’s still muddled than God help you.

    No, you still haven’t shown physical evidence for your imagainary deity, so he doesn’t exist. That has been my point all along.

    A philosophical god that doesn’t interact with the world is simply a personal belief. That appears to be your god. Now, simply because you choose to believe in your imaginary god, why should we? You have presented no physical evidence to convince us of that, just vague imbecilic meanderings. You are deluded, and we choose not be share your delusions. What part of that are you having trouble with?

  668. #671 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    The distinction between wishing something and be hopeful about something is this: Both want a desirable end, only hopeful (or saying you have hope) implies that you believe that such an end will come about.

    I hope you will stop torturing the English language. I don’t expect this hope to be fulfilled.

  669. #672 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    Back in 2007 when I left uni and entered the workforce, I ha every intentiaon of going dualboot. I always have the latest Kubuntu system lying around somewhere. What I found was that I spent almost all my time in Windows (because of games and chatting facilities) and because windows needs to be formatted so often that setting up a dualboot is more hassle than it’s worth. Maybe I should go back to a dualboot system, I want to try out KDE4. If google talk lets me voice chat in linux, then I may spend a fair bit of time there – away from the temptation of games which means I might get some coding done.

  670. #673 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2009

    Well I’m lucky in that because I’m in IT every single person I knows asks me if I want their old PCs when they are done with them so I usually have about 10 or so in the office or server closet at my house. I have a few servers running and always have a pc or two trying out new distros, but it’s just easier to go back to the Windows PC because it will do anything I need it to and honestly I rarely have issues. But that’s just probably because of my knowledge / experience / career.

    I will tell you I’m ready for Windows 7 to come out because Vista is a fucking resource hog.

  671. #674 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2009

    every single person I knows

    I knows?

  672. #675 Stephen Wells
    May 12, 2009

    (a) I use a Windows laptop for presentations and logins and do all my serious work remotely on Linux systems.

    (b) I hope this ticket will win the lottery but I don’t really expect it to.

    (c) hithesh isn’t really trying any more.

  673. #676 Rudy
    May 12, 2009

    The “N.Korea” religion thread is hundreds back, so there’s probably no hope of picking it up again, but just to respond:

    Yes, N.K. (like other stalinist states) has a cult of personality around its leader. That is *sort* of like a religion, though I think that idea’s got some problems, like no one expecting him to be immortal, or that the Leader created the world, etc., and similar cults existing around dictators in other places, Saddam Hussein, say, with no one confusing that with the actual religions of Iraq. Cuba certainly makes a big fuss about Che but people would laugh at you if you told them they worshiped Che.

    For the poster who asked about China, yes, China is more religious than NK. Religion is very popular there right now, though some groups that are considered politically dangerous like Falun Gong get repressed.

    The fact that posters can argue about which countries are more and less religious, and all the reasons why we shouldn’t count certain countries, etc. really proves my point, that there is no real correlation between religiosity and social progress.

    Note that the correlation between “highest standard of living” and “least religious” is also belied by looking at smaller cultures: the Piraxa in Brazil are probably even less religious than the Swedes (there are a few religious Swedes, I’ve met one), but their “standard of living” in a material sense is very low. I should note, the Piraxa are reportedly very happy.

  674. #677 Menyambal
    May 12, 2009

    Regarding China: I took Chinese language lessons in a college in Missouri, USA. The instructor was born in mainland Communist China. He said that Communism, in China, *was* a religion. He said that he had to declare his belief in Communism, do rituals and read the correct books.

    That was one man, one time, but he came up with the comparison, himself. Which leads me to think that the Chinese are pre-loaded by their current Communist culture to be susceptible to “other” religions, rather than being atheistic or seeking out free thought.

  675. #678 Pablo
    May 12, 2009

    This whole “faith as trust” and “faith as belief without evidence” discussion is just a bait-and-switch. As has been pointed out, the scientists’ trust in the scientific method or confidence in a hypothesis is empirical, in that we have plenty of evidence that the scientific method works, and the hypothesis is not invented from no where, but is already consistent with a large amount of observed facts.

    If you want to call that “faith” then ok, but don’t pretend that it is at all comparable to “faith in god” which is based on nothing but wishful thinking. Again, it is the distinction between evidence or no evidence. This “faith in God” is without any evidential foundation at all. So if you want to talk about faith as “trust” or “confidence,” it still comes down to the difference between belief based on evidence or belief based on no evidence.

    The bait-and-switch comes in the ever changing usage. Theists bait, by saying, “You have trust in the scientific method. Since faith means trust, that means that you have faith _just_ _like_ _christians_ _do_.”

    And there is the switch.

  676. #679 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    Good point, Pablo.

  677. #680 DLC
    May 12, 2009

    What about the much more successful Marx brothers, one of whom once quipped :”This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas — How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know!”

  678. #681 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “You are confusing hope with expectation. I am capable of hoping something will happen without expecting that it will.”

    We use hope in two different ways, one in which we hope without expectation, and in a way in which you do with expectation. The Christian use of the term hope is always with the later not with the former. Saying you “have hope”, or are hopeful, implies it as well.

    Here, lets read the wikipedia entry on Hope:

    “To hope is to wish for something with the expectation of the wish being fulfilled.”

    As you can that I’m not confusing anything here.

  679. #682 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    I would prefer to use linux, but there isn’t the software support to be a gamer under linux.

    We can discuss the relative merits of the XBox, the PS3 and the Wii all day long, but my choices are constrained if I want to play Super Mario Galaxy. I’ll use Linux if I want to build a wall of rendering stations to crunch animation frames, but if I want to play Crysis or HL2 or UT3, and/or use the available development tools to make mods, it won’t be on linux. I’m told Eagletosh’s Holodrome is the best, but then I’m just another knucklehead.

  680. #683 Feynmaniac
    May 12, 2009

    New Language Discovered on Blog

    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn- Linguists today announced the discovery of a new language found in the comments of the popular science blog, Pharyngula. The new language has been named Hithish, in honor of its only known speaker, Hithesh.

    While Hithish may superficially resemble English there are many key differences. For example, while in English ‘absolute’ and ‘complete’ are synonyms in Hithish they are antonyms, with ‘complete’ having its opposite meaning in English. Also, the phrase ‘child gazing at the stars’ in Hithish means ‘a child being left alone in a room with a Catholic priest’. This comes as a relief to many commenters who thought Hithesh was launching a bizarre, inexplicable campaign against an innocent image.

    In fact, there was much confusion during the thread. “The way he put words together just didn’t make sense,” said one commenter. “I mean, it got to the point where we had to get him to define every word he used. It was then we realized he simply didn’t use those words like we did.”

    “To my knowledge this is the first case of a new language having been discovered on the internet” offered Dr. Syntax, a professor of linguistics at MIT. “While Hitish often appears semi-grammatically correct semantically it is meaningless. Take this for example: ‘When we have hope, it mean that we faith in the eventual realization of that hope.’ I mean no native speaker of English would write something like that.”

    Linguists have begun analyzing comments from Hithesh. The work so far has included various obstacles. “It’s hard work,” explained Dr. Syntax. “How Hithish words have changed from their original English meaning is quite arbitrary. At times they appear to be quite similar, at other times they have acquired their opposite meaning, and yet at other times they mean something completely different. It will be years before we are able to translate paragraphs of text.”

  681. #684 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    We use hope in two different ways, one in which we hope without expectation, and in a way in which you do with expectation. The Christian use of the term hope is always with the later not with the former.

    Your evidence for this assertion is what?

  682. #685 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Feyn “No, no one uses those terms like that. Have you ever heard phrases like “I hope you die in a fire” or “I hope I win the lottery”? Did you really think that when people say “I hope X” they always, or even most of time, believe X will happen?”

    Catholic Encyclopedia:
    Hope, in its widest acceptation, is described as the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining.

    Britannica:

    hope
    Christianity
    Main

    “in Christian thought, one of the three theological virtues, the others being faith and charity (love). It is distinct from the latter two because it is directed exclusively toward the future, as fervent desire and confident expectation.”

    Wikipedia
    Hope: “To hope is to wish for something with the expectation of the wish being fulfilled”
    So what where you saying that no one uses hope in that way again?

    So what was that about no one uses the word hope like that again?

    I’m curious, so you see no difference in saying “I have hopes for the future, of us living in a peaceful world.” and “i hope we leave in a peaceful world”, You don’t see that one use comes with an expectation of obtaining, while the other use doesn’t?

  683. #686 Pablo
    May 12, 2009

    We use hope in two different ways, one in which we hope without expectation, and in a way in which you do with expectation. The Christian use of the term hope is always with the later not with the former.

    Another bait-and-switch.

    If you want to say you “use it differently” then darn it, recognize that you are using it differently and don’t pretend that it is similar to or has anything to do with how others use it.

    Taking a theist approach and giving it the same label as something different does not make them the same.

  684. #687 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    Another bait-and-switch.

    No, i’ve said this from the get go:

    “For the slave and Rev. King, what was being spoken about is Hope. Hope is an assumption that believes that what’s hoped for will be realized. ” (#475)

    “Well, I believe I’m using hope in the normal sense of the word, the only notion of it I’m excluding, is when we say things like I hope the underdog team wins tomorrow, or I hope i became a billionaire. These are notions of hope with out any real faith in what I hope for coming true at all.

    Compared to say I have hope, or I’m hopeful, meaning that I do believe in what I hope for coming true, or being realized.” (#653)

  685. #688 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    Hope: “To hope is to wish for something with the expectation of the wish being fulfilled”

    Fine, then. I hope your religion expires along with every other so people’s hearts and minds may no longer be subjected to its toxins; that our children may gaze at the stars in the hope of reaching them.

  686. #689 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2009

    Ugh I really wish PZ would have the SB nerds remove the ability to comment anonymously. Make people use a name. ANY name to separate all the different people commenting on all the threads.

    maybe they can do that when they fix the blockquote formatting disaster.

  687. #690 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    Hitest probably doesn’t want to click on my name lest he be offended by the image.

  688. #691 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “Fine, then. I hope your religion expires along with every other so people’s hearts and minds may no longer be subjected to its toxins. That our children may gaze at the stars in the hope of reaching them.”

    Good for you, I see the peddling of a faith here, that when religion is out the picture, children will gaze at the stars and hope for reaching them. Of course, it doesn’t follow logically why this would be so, and is no different than a superstition.

  689. #692 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    I see the peddling of a faith here

    You’re hallucinating. I want your religion and all others to expire, and I will work toward that end. Because I’m well aware of the power of deceit and self-deception, I have no confident expectation that my wish will be fulfilled.

  690. #693 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    I have no confident expectation that my wish will be fulfilled.

    And I have no confident expectation even that just doing that, were it even possible, would exactly lead to a wonderful world on its own… Better, maybe. But more to the point, stopping people telling themselves and each other really obviously pathological lies in incestuous, nasty little communes where the only way you keep the kids buying the BS is to get ‘em young enough is one of those gimmes, really. Where it leads, how far it takes you, who knows. You work on fixing it, anyway…

    And all that’s a bit beside the point in this context specifically. Insofar as hearing Hilthesh and his ilk pointing out this rather obvious dimension of the problem is a bit like hearing the polio virus protesting as we innoculate against it that there are other things that kill people.

  691. #694 AJ MIlne
    May 12, 2009

    @#$% blockquote fail…

    … Testing. Page sane again?

  692. #695 Janine, OMnivore
    May 12, 2009

    Good for you, I see the peddling of a faith here, that when religion is out the picture, children will gaze at the stars and hope for reaching them. Of course, it doesn’t follow logically why this would be so, and is no different than a superstition.

    That is where you would be mistaken. If those children are able to follow their hopes and desires, it will because they worked hard enough and learned enough to make it happen. It will be tangible. It will not be as the result of asking for supernatural help.

    Or are you implying the the ability to imagine possibilities and acting on it is, in it’s roots, a supernatural activity?

  693. #696 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Ken Cope: “You’re hallucinating. I want your religion and all others to expire, and I will work toward that end. Because I’m well aware of the power of deceit and self-deception, I have no confident expectation that my wish will be fulfilled.”

    And you’re deluded, not because you doubt that you expectation will be fulfilled, but what you expect will come about if the verse of the John Lennon’s song came true “imagine no religion”.

    You’re deluded, by your belief in the magical power of disbelief, that a world without religion, a world where atheism runs rampant makes for a better world, and appeals as a utopian fetish.

    This is not a view supported by science, or even coherent reason, and is not much different than a superstition.

  694. #697 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    I still don’t get how having faith that a desired outcome will obtain while simultaneously believing (on evidence) that said outcome cannot obtain demonstrates anything other than the ability of human beings to think irrationally. It certainly doesn’t demonstrate any form of transcendence – at the very most it shows that a -belief- in god can lead to doublethink or outright denial of reality, and that in some cases such irrational beliefs can augment a person’s ability to maintain optimism in the face of severe adversity.

  695. #698 Janine, OMnivore
    May 12, 2009

    And you’re deluded, not because you doubt that you expectation will be fulfilled, but what you expect will come about if the verse of the John Lennon’s song came true “imagine no religion”.

    I had no idea that Hithesh had the ability to peer into the intertoobz, look into people’s heads and see where people got their ideas.

    In order to make Hithesh’s musings even more funny, I imagine them being said by Hesh of Sealab 2021. It is the perfect voice for such ramblings.

  696. #699 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, quit talking about science, which is obviously a topic your are ill informed on. I speak as the 30+ year working scientist. Science does not use hope, faith, or god. It uses physical evidence. Something you are unfamiliar with.

    Humans don’t need religion for hope. Only deluded/stupid fools think they need religion for hope. We know that. Why can’t you see it? Too tied up in your woo to see reality?

  697. #700 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    Twin: “It certainly doesn’t demonstrate any form of transcendence – at the very most it shows that a -belief- in god can lead to doublethink or outright denial of reality, and that in some cases such irrational beliefs can augment a person’s ability to maintain optimism in the face of severe adversity.”

    ::facepalm::

    :), and you speak of me not being incoherent?

    Tell me how you reconcile the above with this:

    “I still don’t get how having faith that a desired outcome will obtain while simultaneously believing (on evidence) that said outcome cannot obtain demonstrates anything other than the ability of human beings to think irrationally.”

    optimistic |?äpt??mistik|
    adjective
    hopeful and confident about the future :

    How is it not irrational according to your logic, to be optimistic about a good future, that all the evidence reveals is not coming about? Why would we rationally maintain optism in the vase of a severe adversity, rather than pessimism, when we perceive the odds not being in our favor.

  698. #701 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, you must show using physical evidence that hope can only occur with a belief in god. If we can show hope can occur without a belief in god, which we have already done, you will be/are already refuted.

    Show, with physical evidence, where god allows something to be done that cannot be done without your imaginary deity. Until then, you have nothing, just like you have at the moment. Nothing but your delusions.

  699. #702 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, I never said that the optimism was rational. It might be desirable or useful or conducive to lower stress levels, but none of these things imply rationality or correspondence with reality. In fact, the whole point I was making was that the optimism in question had its foundation in irrational thought, doublethink, denying reality, what have you. It seems you’ve got problems with reading comprehension as well as with clarity of expression.

  700. #703 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    Posted by: TwinIonEngines | May 12, 2009 11:59 AM
    Hithesh, I never said that the optimism was rational.

    You’re right, I read your post wrong, and I apologize.

  701. #704 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    You’re deluded, by your belief in the magical power of disbelief, that a world without religion, a world where atheism runs rampant makes for a better world, and appeals as a utopian fetish.

    Instead, we have a world where archbishops excommunicate people for giving nine-year-old rape victims abortions, where fundamentalists want mythology to replace science, where gays are denied rights because “God thinks what they do in bed is icky, and pedophiles are given a free pass by their church. That’s so much better than a religion free world.

  702. #705 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    And you’re deluded, not because you doubt that you expectation will be fulfilled, but what you expect will come about if the verse of the John Lennon’s song came true “imagine no religion”.

    First of all, I demonstrated how foolish it is to use the word “hope” in the manner Hitest prescribes, because its meaning cannot be so exclusive. So, for Hitest to take what I wrote:

    I hope your religion expires along with every other so people’s hearts and minds may no longer be subjected to its toxins; that our children may gaze at the stars in the hope of reaching them.

    and change its meaning this way:

    I see the peddling of a faith here, that when religion is out the picture, children will gaze at the stars and hope for reaching them. Of course, it doesn’t follow logically why this would be so, and is no different than a superstition.

    is both dishonest, and leaves Hitest arguing with something I didn’t say.

    And thank you very much AJ Milne @694 for expanding on what we both understand the issue to be. My children will not need to spend as many years as I did unlearning nonsense. For Hitest to sputter about my presumed superstition would be ironically funny, were it not for the fact that Hitest’s language usage is so peculiar that what he meant by “superstition” might very well have been, ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”

  703. #706 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, still no physical evidence for your imaginary god. Bad troll.

  704. #707 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Twin: “It certainly doesn’t demonstrate any form of transcendence – at the very most it shows that a -belief- in god can lead to doublethink or outright denial of reality, and that in some cases such irrational beliefs can augment a person’s ability to maintain optimism in the face of severe adversity.”

    I’m not demonstrating any form of transcendence, but that such beliefs of hope in hopelessness are beliefs in transcendence, not that what’s being believed is true or not.

    Secondly, I wouldn’t say having hope in hopelessness is always a denial of reality, since I can be hopeful and yet be well aware that reality gives me no reason to be hopeful. Sort of like how I can believe I’ll survive my fight with cancer, and yet be well aware that the odds are against me. I’m well aware of what the reality of my situation is, that i’m unlikely going to win here. But I won’t allow the odds to lead me to despair, or the grimness of reality to have such power over me.

    I believe in what can make this possible, that can turn the odds in my favor, such as Rev. King believe in what “can make a way out of no way”. These are beliefs in transcendence: “existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.”

    Do you concede this much?

  705. #708 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    Re #705, you’re welcome.

    And I’d note generally (again, and as has been noted so many times) that this will generally be the nature of arguments with liars of this p[articular streak. Twisting and turning and sliming their way past and through whatever tiny chink they hope they can open through liberal and convenient misinterpretation of what they’re facing, the ‘complex theologian’ will always play this game, as ultimately, it’s the only one they can hope a partially disinterested audience might view as legitimate. Thus the notion that it is somehow ‘faith’ to hope the reduction of superstition might lead to a saner world–or at least that it is likely to be a sensible long-term goal if only for the more immediate likely effect on would-be adherents–will be expanded to appear a very thesis. As opposed to 90 percent wilful misinterpretation of a varied and complex view on the part of opponents who may or may not always have stated it terribly clearly. And 10 percent trollish chest-thumping.

    Quite seriously, that very behaviour is one more argument as to why I’d be happy to see these systems’ influence reduced: the faint hope of a little less time wasted on neosophist idiot savants whose only actual talent is talking in increasingly tiny circles around any significant points which might be so unfortunate as to come anywhere near their person.

  706. #709 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    Ken Cope: “I hope your religion expires along with every other so people’s hearts and minds may no longer be subjected to its toxins”

    Here, let’s allow your own words to be your noose.

    You hope my religion expires, what do you expect will happen if it did? Do you believe the world be made better by it if it did?

  707. #710 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Do you concede this much?

    We concede nothing to your pile of bullshit. That is all you are presenting, piles of incoherent bullshit. When you arrive at a lucid, cogent argument, we will tell you. Try losing the need to justify your imaginary deity. It would help your clarity of thought.

  708. #711 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, of course I concede that some people believe in transcendence. That’s never been at issue. It’s the inferences you draw from that fact, and from your own belief in transcendence, which are being disputed.

  709. #712 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    Here, let’s allow your own words to be your noose.

    I had you pegged as an exuberant proponent of crucifiction, although the pointy white sheet you’re wearing does not surprise.

    How about we just gaze up at the stars instead?

  710. #713 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    You hope my religion expires, what do you expect will happen if it did? Do you believe the world be made better by it if it did?

    Yes, the less stupidicious nonsense like your religion in the world, the better off the world will be. We know that.

  711. #714 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    Our two weapons are conflation and obfuscation. And incomprehensibility. Our three weapons are conflation, obfuscation, incomprehensibility, and a fanatical obsession with a dead man on a stick.

    I’ll come in again.

    Have you seen the stars tonight?

  712. #715 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead, why don’t you just run along dude, I know you’re dying for attention but sheesh, you would think after all these times of me ignoring you, you would have moved on already. I would hate to see how you act when a gf breaks up with you, or a chick you met the other night doesn’t return your phone calls.

    And stop projecting dude, I doubt Twin needs you to be his/her spokesperson. I didn’t ask you anything, I asked twin, and I’m sure he’s capable of responding on his own, and doesn’t need you to do it for him.

  713. #716 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead, why don’t you just run along, dude…

    Translation: I don’t want to argue with you. I’m currently more interested in trying to troll someone else. So I’m gonna try to misrepresent that specific dishonesty as some kind of authority, here, in some hope it’ll piss you off. Which might amuse me a little, anyway.

    /Obvious troll is obvious.

  714. #717 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    Here, let’s allow your own words to be your noose.

    What an arrogant little douche you are.

    You hope my religion expires, what do you expect will happen if it did?

    Fewer wars. A less divided society. Better education. How many would you like?

    Do you believe the world be made better by it if it did?

    Yes. Counter-question: what good does religion do?

  715. #718 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, you are the one who needs to run along. You keep presenting some type of inane presupposition argument that makes no sense to us sciency types. You cannot clearly state your premise is just a couple of sentences. You will get nowhere here until you do. You also present no physical evidence for your imaginary deity. Total failure on your part to date. And I am going nowhere.

    By the way, I have been married to the Redhead for 30+ years. Learn to read. I am an old fart.

  716. #719 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    … also, since your statement is too direct, too clear-cut, and playing with the gaps in it the way I intended to with Ken is gonna appear way too obvious, that’s not gonna work for me nearly as well, here. So go ‘way. Please.

    /Adds notch to ‘theotroll conventions’ counter…

  717. #720 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Tiny: “Hithesh, of course I concede that some people believe in transcendence. That’s never been at issue. It’s the inferences you draw from that fact, and from your own belief in transcendence, which are being disputed.”

    What inference of mine is being disputed? Is transcendence being disputed? Or belief in God based on a belief in transcendence being disputed?

    All I’ve been arguing so far is that a belief in the transcendent and a belief in God are rarely if ever two separate beliefs. A belief in the transcendent, is also a belief in what can make the transcendent possible (God).

  718. #721 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    A belief in the transcendent, is also a belief in what can make the transcendent possible (God).

    Wrong again. Philosophy without evidence is sophistry. You can substitute god for philosophy with the same result. Put up the physical evidence for god, or you have nothing. Just as I have been saying all along.

  719. #722 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    A belief in the transcendent, is also a belief in what can make the transcendent possible (God).

    Whoop-dee-doo. So? What is your point? Belief in the transcendent is the entire problem. Most of us here have none; it seems safe to assume from your confused, muddled troll-vomit that you do.

    Do you have anything to back up such a belief?

  720. #723 Piltdown Man
    May 12, 2009

    Nusubito @ 493:

    That is why experiments are controlled, and can be rerun. With a time machine, the scientist could go back and watch it again, but this time, HE COULD COAX JESUS INTO DOING IT* in a vial, while being watched by a camera, with spectrophotometry ongoing. He could weigh the total solution, and see if Jesus was really summoning new matter into existence(ethanol, acetic acid, etc.) or just somehow converted the water’s mass into something else. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could put Jesus into a fMRI machine and watch his brain patterns while it was happening. If he is supposedly doing this by thought alone, then there will be some kind of correspondence between his thoughts and what happens in the real world. Would this process result in the transformation of all water in contact with the transformed water? In other words, is it a chain reaction? Do Jesus’ hands have to come in contact with the solution to be changed? In short, you could dissect a miracle into its component parts, and come up with an explanation for it.

    Hell, we could check out Jesus’ chromosomes, just to be sure, and see if he had ‘magic’ DNA, or just regular old human chromosomes, with all of their flaws, repeats and bullshit. We could do a paternity test, and blow the whole ‘Mary and Joseph were just platonic lovers’ BS out of the water.
    When Jesus healed people, we would be able to rewind and watch the process over and over again. Is it instantaneous? Do the cells of the sick/blind/dead reorganize, change expression patterns, etc? If we agree that blindness and sickness are physical states, with physical causes, then whatever ‘miracle’ Jesus performed had to have been a physical solution.
    Could Jesus get sick? We could inject viruses into his veins, and see if he had a superhuman immune response, or what exactly happened to the viruses in his blood. If we were unhappy with the results, we could culture his cells in vitro, to visualize it better.
    You have a very limited conception of what scientists might think of to investigate reality. They are, to a person, very curious, and interested in knowing more. Contrast this with your idea of the scientist who, perfectly happy to remain ignorant, ‘leaves the room’ and tries to avoid learning. I know the theme of projection is brought up far too often here, but come on! Leaves?! The only person who might conceivably do this is one who was already certain they knew the outcome. That is, a *believer*.

    If it affects the world, we can come up with models for how it works. Deal with it.

    * Instant fail.

    If Jesus is, as claimed and believed, the Most Supreme, Most Holy and Most Blessed Christ, the Son of the Most High, the Bright and Morning Star, Redeemer of the World, Almighty Saviour, Highest Judge, Chief Priest, the Son of David, Lily of the Valley, Lord of all Lords and King of all Kings, Ruler of Heaven and of Earth, you don’t coax Him into doing owt.

  721. #724 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, suppose that I grant that belief in transcendence is largely congruent and overlapping with belief in deity. What does that imply, according to you? What, in short, is the fucking point? I know that people believe things. Are you aware that people believe things that are not true?

    Now that you’ve spent thousands of words to assert that A) people believe in transcendence, B) people believe in deity and C) people believe that transcendence is deity, I want to see a payoff – or at least a punchline.

    Also, if you’re going to abbreviate my name, I prefer TIE. (Not Tie, TIE)

  722. #725 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Don’t worry Pilty, you are still wrong. Your record is intact. You still haven’t shown physical evidence for your imaginary god, just like Hithesh, so your bible is a work of fiction and your dogma even worse fiction. We know that. The day you recognize those facts is the day you intellectually grow up.

  723. #726 PZ Myers
    May 12, 2009

    Piltdown Man, you can be banned for godbotting. Go pray or something useless like that.

    Hithesh, you’re a babblin’ idiot. I just needed to say that.

  724. #727 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    Have you seen the stars tonight?

    Great stuff. Long-time fan of Blows, here.

  725. #728 KI
    May 12, 2009

    Ken@714
    Thanks for returning me to one of my all time favorite albums (my copy is so played out that it’s almost nothing but vinyl fuzzy buzz-how many hundreds of times can you play a vinyl record until it gets incomprehensible-let’s find out!).

  726. #729 phantomreader42
    May 12, 2009

    Let’s see if I’ve got hithesh’s “argument” down:

    “Atheists have not delivered a perfect, universal, free, instantaneous, simple, prepackaged solution to every single problem in the world, therefore my version of god (and no other) exists, and is not in any way obligated to provide the aforementioned solution. In fact, it is sacrilege to even ask for such a thing, though it is perfectly acceptable to make absurd demands for prefect solutions of random atheists on the internet based on a willful misrepresentation of a blog post. The very thought that anything could be different in any way is an explicit acknowledgement of the reality of my version of god, because I say so, and any atheist who denies this is a filthy liar, because words mean what I find it convenient for them to mean, and nothing else. Because I’ve lived such a pitifully hard life, oh woe is me, everything I say and do MUST be correct, and anyone who disagrees with me MUST be an ivory-tower elitist born with a silver spoon in his mouth, the actual facts are irrelevant, the calamity and woe of my horrible, horrible childhood give me a special omnipotent insight into anything and everything, much like Jesus Christ. I, and I alone, determine what everyone in the world believes, no matter what anyone else thinks. And because everyone believes in my god (because I say so), my god must be real. Reality is what I want it to be, your pitiful requests for evidence fall on deaf ears.”

  727. #730 God
    May 12, 2009

    If Jesus is, as claimed and believed, the Most Supreme, Most Holy and Most Blessed Christ, the Son of the Most High, the Bright and Morning Star, Redeemer of the World, Almighty Saviour, Highest Judge, Chief Priest, the Son of David, Lily of the Valley, Lord of all Lords and King of all Kings, Ruler of Heaven and of Earth, you don’t coax Him into doing owt.

    Or even if he wasn’t all of those.

    Because I, God, absolutely hate, despise, loathe, and utterly reject all honest inquiry, reasoned analysis, controlled experimentation, and any and all attempts to find truth and falsity in the physical universe and avoid the deception of self and others.

    I mean, really. Where would I be if I allowed that sort of thing?

  728. #731 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    If Jesus is, as claimed and believed, the [etc., etc., etc., etc.]

    Big “if” there, Pitly. Big, BIG “if”.

    (And you forgot “Shepherd of the Sheep”.)

    Speaking of “instant fail,” did you really have to quote nearly 50 lines of text to make a point about a phrase in the second sentence? Sheesh.

    By the way, I think you’re wanted on the Maine thread.

  729. #732 Anonymous
    May 12, 2009

    “Hithesh, suppose that I grant that belief in transcendence is largely congruent and overlapping with belief in deity. What does that imply, according to you? ”

    Well, this all started around post 465, where someone couldn’t get this, why my holding of a transcendent belief in the power of love is congruent with my belief in God. They couldn’t figure out that these beliefs are overlapping. That they are not two separate beliefs, but one.

    There really hasn’t been much else implied by me, beyond this.

  730. #733 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    KI:

    Thanks for returning me to one of my all time favorite albums (my copy is so played out that it’s almost nothing but vinyl fuzzy buzz-how many hundreds of times can you play a vinyl record until it gets incomprehensible-let’s find out!).

    Eighth grade was a big year for music. ;-)

    KI, it is available on CD, you know. My copy has all the original artwork (reduced, of course) which isn’t terribly common for obscure reissues like that one.

  731. #734 Notagod
    May 12, 2009

    James Sweet@413 has a “pet theory” which isn’t necessarily a bad thought but, haven’t you learned anything from PZ about what a theory is?

    And, you were “fated” to be together with your wife and you “literally believe this”? What mystical force is driving this fate that you literally believe in?

    PZ and many that post comments here don’t believe in woo. I suppose that might be what is causing the tension that you have expressed experiencing not because there is some conspiracy to dislike ex-mormons.

  732. #735 phantomreader42
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, lying troll for jesus:

    There really hasn’t been much else implied by me, beyond this. (“this” being the claim that any belief of any kind in anything at all, including the possibility that anything whatsoever can change, and the existence of emotions, is equivalent to a belief in hithesh’s own version of god)

    Bullshit. You’ve been deliberately misrepresenting other people’s words, creating a new and incomprehensible language, and whining about how your horrible childhood makes you automatically right and everyone else automatically privileged and out of touch, regardless of reality.

    And even if it were true that the above is all you’re implying (and it clearly isn’t), you’ve made no effort whatsoever to support your claim with evidence, and it’s a meaningless load of crap anyway.

  733. #736 Satan
    May 12, 2009

    Because I, God, absolutely hate, despise, loathe, and utterly reject all honest inquiry, reasoned analysis, controlled experimentation, and any and all attempts to find truth and falsity in the physical universe and avoid the deception of self and others.

    There was a famous theologian who said that Reason was My greatest whore, wasn’t there?

    I suppose that would make Me an ontological panderer, or an epistemic pimp, perhaps.

    “Pssst! Hey, check out the sweet lemmas on this syllogism! Sexy, right?”

  734. #737 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    There really hasn’t been much else implied by me, beyond this.

    Well, other than that there is an abstract concept of love, that there is a God, that everyone here is stupid, and many, many more things.

    Back to what has been asked of you many times: what do you have to back up either/not two/whatever the hell you decide to call it, before you go off on another peyote-like sidetrack… what do you have to back up your belief(s)?

  735. #738 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    Then we’re back to Santa Claus and leprechauns, because whatever distinctions one attempts to draw between the idea of such entities and the idea of transcendent deity/deific transcendence don’t matter with respect to the truth of said claims.

    In other words, whatever category distinctions separate leprechauns from transcendence do not apply to the beliefs held in either the former or the latter. A belief in leprechauns is epistemologically equivalent to a belief in transcendence – there may be a difference in how these beliefs make you feel, but not in what knowledge they can be used to acquire.

    Hell, maybe there are some people who get the same emotional benefit from believing in leprechauns that you do from believing in transcendence. It doesn’t actually have meaning, despite any qualia of meaning or fulfillment that you may be experiencing. It’s your brain making itself feel good.

  736. #739 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    I suppose that would make Me an ontological panderer, or an epistemic pimp, perhaps.

    I am so adding those to my CV.

    /Yes, it’s padding. But y’know. When in Rome…

  737. #740 KI
    May 12, 2009

    Watchman@733
    Yep, I know that, but after all the years of it slowly getting murkier and murkier, the sudden digital crispness shocked my ears and it’s taking me a bit of time to get used to hearing it as it was recorded.

  738. #741 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “Let’s see if I’ve got hithesh’s “argument” down:”

    Woah there buddy, that’s a shit load of projection. Let’s see what if we can one up you:

    “Any theist who misapplies the use of words, even when he admits that he mistakenly did, is claiming that words mean what he wants them to mean. That the theist use of the definition of Hope including an expectation, backed up by three different Encyclopedias, is him presenting an obscure version of it, a version of in betrayal of the english language.

    Any theist pointing out the silliness of a certain atheist’s conclusion, is the theist claiming he has the solution for everything. But when an atheist points out the silliness of a theist belief, he’s not claiming that he has the solution for everything.

    A theist pointing out that 1+1 doesn’t equal 3, is claiming he has empirical evidence for God. A theist conveying why other people believe, is him trying to convince you to believe in his God. A theist saying he doesn’t find the image of a child gazing at the stars meaningful, is him claiming what you should find meaningful.

    All theist are fundies, if they’re not fundies they’re those dang godless liberals who believe in a “nebulous humanism”. If religion is not portrayed in the way PZ Myers, and Richard Dawkins present it, it’s a distortion. If scientist who actually study the phenomena, such as those who study the behavior of suicide terrorist (Scott Atran, Robert Pape), and claim that arab terrorist are not motivated by religious reason, they’re full of shit. If they claim that religion does not have the power to do what Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers claim it can do, they’re fucking lying.

    A claim that a world will be made no better if we all were disbelievers, is a claim that we’d all be made better if we were believers. Just as we’d all be be blue, if we weren’t yellow. ”

  739. #742 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    maybe there are some people who get the same emotional benefit from believing in leprechauns

    Actually, many people get nutritional benefits as well.

  740. #743 Walton
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh,

    I was brought up as a Christian, and until quite recently I was an active and practising believer. Over time, I have gradually become an agnostic.

    My non-belief is not the product of an intentional choice or preference. Nor do I have any desire to wipe out religion; other people can believe and practice what they wish, so long as they don’t impose it on me. Rather, my non-belief is the simple acknowledgement of this fact: there is insufficient evidence in support of any particular theological belief system to justify adopting that belief system. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; all revelatory religions make extraordinary claims, and none of them adduce extraordinary evidence in support of those claims.

    Christianity rests on the belief, inter alia, that Jesus of Nazareth was a divine being who performed miracles and was physically resurrected from the dead. There is, however, very little evidence for this. In fact, we know next to nothing about his life; all we have are four pseudonymous accounts, of uncertain date and provenance, which were almost certainly not written by eyewitnesses.

    Of course, I can’t prove that it isn’t true; and I don’t doubt that you will concede, as most intelligent Christians do, that reason alone cannot compel the adoption of Christianity. Rather, a belief in the tenets of the Christian religion is said to require faith. But the problem with “faith” as an epistemic method is that, once you abandon the requirement that a claim be supported with evidence before you are willing to believe it, there is no coherent way of distinguishing between those claims which you deem worthy of belief and those which you do not.

    Why do you accept the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, while rejecting the claim that Mohammed was God’s final prophet, or that Joseph Smith transcribed the Book of Mormon from golden plates given to him by the Angel Moroni, or that Zeus impregnated human women in ancient Greece, or that (as David Icke claims) most world leaders are part of a reptilian alien conspiracy to take over the world? Like Christianity, all of these are claims which have been believed by many people, but which are not backed by solid evidence. You need, therefore, to show me your epistemology; how do you know that Christians are right, and that Muslims, Mormons and neo-pagans are wrong? If you rely on faith in lieu of evidence, how do you discriminate between the true and the untrue?

    You correctly point out that faith provides inspiration and comfort to many people in their darkest times. That is true. But the fact that a belief enhances some people’s lives doesn’t make that belief right. This is the case from any perspective. People have drawn inspiration and comfort from any number of different beliefs, ranging from Islam to Mormonism to Marxism – and many of them have died as martyrs for their beliefs. Yet these beliefs cannot all be right, for many of them contradict each other; Muslims and Christians, to take a stark example, cannot both be right about the nature of God, since Muslims view the idea of Jesus as the “Son of God” as blasphemy against monotheism. So I would have to reject the notion that a belief is any more valid because people – even great people – draw their inspiration from it.

    Simply put, you’re making an argument from consequences: “a belief in X has beneficial effects, therefore X must be true.” This is no more objective and meaningful than “I want X to be true, therefore X must be true.” It’s not a valid form of objective epistemology. There is a big part of me that would love to embrace Christianity, the religion of my family and many of my friends; and indeed I was significantly less depressed about my life when I was a Christian. But, as Jefferson said, “…the opinions and beliefs of men depend not upon their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds.? I can’t choose to believe a lie simply because I wish to believe it. Neither can anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the demands of intellectual honesty.

    Sorry for the rant.

  741. #744 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    Walton… if you could just let go of your libertarian delusions, you’d be a shoo-in for a Molly. That wasn’t a rant, that was beautiful.

  742. #745 Matt Heath
    May 12, 2009

    Libertarian or no (and, Tory or no), I totally intend to put Walton up for the next Molly after that. Apart from him having earned it, if we Mollify Walton it will annoy the hell out the other libertarians who won’t be able to say “WAH you ignore my brilliance because you’re all sheeple and bigoted against libertarians”.

  743. #746 pdferguson
    May 12, 2009

    Nicely said, Walton.

  744. #747 KI
    May 12, 2009

    I’d like to add a bravo for Walton, nicely put.

  745. #748 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    I have never doubted Walton’s intelligence. It’s his disconnect from others, callous disregard for the disadvantaged, and ignorance of history and economics that annoy me. Oh, and his self-loathing.

  746. #749 ZMW
    May 12, 2009

    “As you can that I’m not confusing anything here.”

    This is from a while back, but anyone else find this sentence particularly hilarious?

  747. #750 cicely
    May 12, 2009

    Probably everything I’m about to say has been covered, and better than I’m about to do it, by the usual suspects :) , but the only way to find out would require hitting “refresh”, and that could take years and cost millions of lives, so….

    anonymous (presumed to be hithesh) @ 700:

    How is it not irrational according to your logic, to be optimistic about a good future, that all the evidence reveals is not coming about? Why would we rationally maintain optism in the vase of a severe adversity, rather than pessimism, when we perceive the odds not being in our favor.

    Because we may not have all the evidence, or we may be misinterpreting the evidence we do have. Because the odds may not be as we perceive them to be. Because, even if we do have all the evidence currently available, the conditions of the “test” may change. To use your slavery example, when society condones slavery, considers it to be a natural state for some groups or individuals, the slave may indeed have a hopeless hope of freedom, and the conditions would suggest that it would never be possible. Then, society’s acceptance of the rightness of slavery changes (as it has, in much of the world, though gradually), and the hope becomes possible.

    You’re trying to pin the word “hope” down to meaning only what you want it to mean. It’s perfectly possible for me to hope to win the lottery tomorrow, without any expectation that it will happen (based on my current understanding of the odds), and that be a perfectly valid use of the word “hope”.

    The best I can make of your attempts to differentiate between absolute and complete is the difference between “I have absolute faith that my husband is not cheating on me right now, because I can see him from where I’m sitting, and to the limits of my senses, he is not cheating on me”, and “I have complete faith that my husband is not cheating on me right now because, although I cannot directly confirm that he’s not cheating on me right now since he is in another room, I have reason to believe that no-one else is in that room with him, hence the chances that he is cheating are vanishingly small; though it is hypothetically possible that there is someone with him that I don’t know about, and he is cheating with that person”. *deep breath* I don’t think anyone else is drawing this kind of distinction, in common usage of the words.

    In short, it is possible to be completely, absolutely, unequivocally certain…and still be wrong. The quality of the certainty does not affect the degree of wrongness. It may be ignorance of the evidence, it may be innocent misinterpretation of the evidence, it may be conviction without any evidence, it may be willfully ignoring the evidence, and still be as confidently believed…and still be as wrong.

    Now, to hit “send” in a hopeful spirit, in the confidence that this will post. Eventually.

    (But I could be wrong.)

  748. #751 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    KI:

    … after all the years of it slowly getting murkier and murkier, the sudden digital crispness shocked my ears and it’s taking me a bit of time to get used to hearing it as it was recorded.

    I hear that. It’s especially jarring on CDs that haven’t been remastered – the high end is overly bright, sometimes harsh, sometimes brittle.

    Coincidentally, just last night I pulled out an old Hot Tuna disk – vinyl LP, that is – and gave it a spin on the old Dual ‘table. It was my first attempt at playing vinyl in well over a year. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it sounded. Crisp? No, not even close – but not murky, either. It was quite listenable, and a nice return to a decades-old LP I hadn’t heard since… well, never mind that. ;-)

  749. #752 Rudy
    May 12, 2009

    Walton, I had the same emotional experience going other direction. I was definitely happier as an atheist, and have mentioned that fact to (bemused) friends. Also my recent religious turn doesn’t really help me with my (extended) family, as they are way more mainstream, and it doesn’t help with my friends, who are by and large all atheists, except for the ones I met through Quaker Meeting.

    Hearing that you made a similar difficult choice makes me feel a little less alone.

    It’s possible to be religious, and not be bothered by the plurality of different religions; they all have part of the truth. Fundamentalists don’t like this idea at all, but I really don’t care what they think about it (they must have part of the truth too, but it’s not that part). Atheism has a great lesson to teach us too; that it’s all up to us, God is not going to come down and fix it for us.

    There is a story by Rabbi Kook that makes this point. A student asks him, “Why good does atheism do? Can God make anything good from it?” He answers with a story about various religious types ignoring a homeless man, saying “God will provide” or “It’s God’s will”, and an atheist stopping to feed the man, thinking “there’s no one who can help this man but me.”

  750. #753 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    Walton:

    and indeed I was significantly less depressed about my life when I was a Christian.

    I hear that, Walton. Letting go of faith can be saddening and difficult, but it’s a transition, not an end. At the other end of the tunnel you will find not only liberty, but clarity.

  751. #754 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    There is a story by Rabbi Kook

    Rabbi Kook? Didn’t PZ make up that name for one of his fables?

    an atheist stopping to feed the man, thinking “there’s no one who can help this man but me.”

    Yes children, and that’s how God, through inaction or nonexistence, gets credit for the dangersous, selfish atheist’s act of compassion. Let that be a lesson to you.

  752. #755 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, more verbal salad with nothing beyond you don’t like atheists. We don’t care if you like us. All we care about is that you quit trying to convert us. If you want to covert us, show us the physical evidence for your imaginary deity. Philosophy, which is all you have presented to date, won’t cut the mustard. Why? Philosophy without evidence is sophistry. You, Hithesh, are a sophist. Which means you have false arguments. Which we have been telling you for days.

  753. #756 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Well, I commend the tone walton.

    And I do not believe that your non-belief is product of choice or preference.

    Walton: “I was brought up as a Christian, and until quite recently I was an active and practicing believer. Over time, I have gradually become an agnostic.”

    Well, I was also brought up Christian, with fundamentalist parents and community, and it was easy to abandon the belief i grew up with, and accept disbelief to the large portion of my adulthood. I know the no true scots man fallacy people like to apply here. But I consider my years of disbelief, a highly reflective period, and it because of this and not because of my theism I tend to be repulsed by certain not so reflective expounders of atheism. The God Delusions would have been as silly to me than, as it is now. As it is to many other atheist, such as John Gray, or Theodore Dalrymple.

    I feel there are compelling cases for disbelief, but you’d hard pressed to find them in the PZ Myers of the world.

    “Christians do, that reason alone cannot compel the adoption of Christianity. ”

    I agree, reason alone doesn’t compel anyone to adopt christianity, but reason alone doesn’t compel much else either. Reason alone cannot compel us to be moral, in fact reason really has little influence at all on our moral behavior.

    “Why do you accept the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, while rejecting the claim that Mohammed was God’s final prophet.”

    When we speak of such things as divinity or terms like Son of God, in order to understand why I accept them requires that your understand what is meant by them.

    “Son of God” is title of kingship, or in attributing it to Jesus is title of ultimate sovereignty, a title that was even afforded to Caesar. To say Jesus is the Son of God, is to say that I have no king, but Jesus, no ideal worthy of my servitude than his, no one else worthy of following than him, no life better to set as one’s ideal than his. That God’s reign, is not distinct from Christ’s own.

    The reason why I reject other religions, is for the same reason I reject humanism, the same reasons many of us reject the ideals of liberalism, or conservatism, in their assessment of the world, and it’s solution.

    I find christianity to be the most accurate depiction of my condition, and the condition of most of the world, that at the heard of the human condition there is in fact a sense of depravity, a tragedy, and yet there is still a dignity. That even in the face of misery, the cruelty symbolized by the cross, there is still hope.

    I’m a christian, not because of my parents, or church, I rejected their faith a long time ago. But because I find in the Gospel narratives my doubts and hope, a depiction of disbelief and belief. If I was to be a disbeliever now, I could not accept the dewey eyed humanism of Dawkins, Ted Turner like, but it would be tragic humanism symbolized by the death of an innocent, a man of good intentions, and endearing hope, yet crushed. Though I would no longer empowered by the Christian Hope, it would still be a cross haunted world.

    The reason why I accept christianity over any other religion or worldview, is because I find the questions at heart of the narratives, shared by the writer and the community surrounding Jesus Christ, to be my own as well, and the answers that are claimed, to be the most profound one’s I know. The reason for why I find my worldview as true, and others as not as accurate or false, is for the same reason you find yours true, and others not so true.

    The reason why I hold Jesus is God, is because I see him, as the way, the truth, and the life, and these beliefs are indistinguishable for me from a belief in god. I perceive in his way and means of life, the way I should live mine, i find the direction that he points in to be the direction I’m compelled to follow, I perceive the truth he claims of human of existence, as a call to love even if we have to suffer for it to be a truth i hold as well. The image of Jesus Christ is indistinguishable for me from any image I could hold of God.

    PZ Meyers can find the image of a child staring at the stars to be meaningful for him, an image that inspires him, it just doesn’t do it for me. I’m a Christian because I find the Gospels profoundly meaningful, and inspiring, in it’s depiction of humanity at his worst, and humanity at it’s best. I reject what PZ myers finds meaningful, no differently that how he would reject what I find meaningful.

    I’m a christian not merely because I’m compelled by reason, but because I’m compelled by conviction

  754. #757 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, we don’t give a shit about your illogical and unreasonable opinions. We reject your belief. We reject your god. We reject your opinions on those subjects. You want us to be reasonable with you, you have to quit godbotting, which is a crime against Pharyngula, and will get you banned. Your choice.

  755. #758 Patricia, OM
    May 12, 2009

    If you’re repulsed by atheists why are you here fuckwit?

  756. #759 TwinIonEngines
    May 12, 2009

    So basically you’re a Christian because you have a strong emotional response to the drama and pathos of Christian mythology.

    “The reason for why I find my worldview as true, and others as not as accurate or false, is for the same reason you find yours true, and others not so true.”

    Sorry, this is incorrect. Our reasons could not be more different.

  757. #760 Patricia, OM
    May 12, 2009

    SHitesh why don’t you go suffer somewhere else. There is no gawd, you are delusional.

  758. #761 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    Reason alone cannot compel us to be moral, in fact reason really has little influence at all on our moral behavior.

    Another example of how shallow hithesh is. If you have an emotional basis for morality then, whenever your mood changes, your morality could change as well. Or is his morality based on “The Big Guy In The Sky will smack my pee-pee forever if I’m a bad boy”?

  759. #762 Stu
    May 12, 2009

    If I was to be a disbeliever now, I could not accept the dewey eyed humanism of Dawkins, Ted Turner like, but it would be tragic humanism symbolized by the death of an innocent, a man of good intentions, and endearing hope, yet crushed. Though I would no longer empowered by the Christian Hope, it would still be a cross haunted world.

    Aaaaand BINGO, I had it right way back at #499… you were lying through your fucking teeth about being a “disbeliever” — you don’t even know what it is.

    Your arrogance is pathetic — and decidedly un-Christian.

  760. #763 Stephen Wells
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, you are rejecting other viewpoints _because you don’t want them to be true_; whereas we are rejecting yours because _there is no evidence it is true_. Grasp the difference, please.

    Part of being an adult is accepting that just because you really, really want something to be true, that doesn’t make it so. You’ve taken your own emotional response to a story and mistaken it for proof that the characters in the story are real.

  761. #764 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    Stu, I believe Hithesh has consistently claimed to be a believer who was, for most of his life, an unbeliever.

    I was an unbeliever for most of my adulthood

    Was. Not is.

    Was an unbeliever. Is a believer.

    My question is, what span of time accounts for “most of” his adult life? Two years? Forty?

  762. #765 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Tis Himself”Another example of how shallow hithesh is. If you have an emotional basis for morality then, whenever your mood changes, your morality could change as well.”

    Shallow huh?

    Let’s put this through the ringer:

    Do you believe there is correlation between moral reasoning and proactive moral behavior? Do you deny that in most recent studies no correlation has been found or at best a small correlation?

    Do you deny that morality is more correlated with emotion and self-control?

  763. #766 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    Stu #762

    Aaaaand BINGO, I had it right way back at #499… you were lying through your fucking teeth about being a “disbeliever” — you don’t even know what it is.

    The vast majority of people who claim “I used to be an atheist” never were atheists. Many of them were rebelling against their particular religion, or had fallen away from the religion they were brought up in but hadn’t found an acceptable substitute yet, and some of them are just liars. I suspect Hithesh got disenchanted with whatever sect Mommy and Daddy followed and, for a few years, didn’t find some other cult that suited him better. Now he’s fallen in love with a denomination and he’s all happy again.

  764. #767 Walton
    May 12, 2009

    To Stu, Matt Heath et al.: thank you. I appreciate it.

    Tis Himself:

    I have never doubted Walton’s intelligence. It’s his disconnect from others, callous disregard for the disadvantaged, and ignorance of history and economics that annoy me. Oh, and his self-loathing.

    For the first part, thank you.

    As to “disconnect from others and callous disregard for the disadvantaged”, I will admit that I have some difficulty in understanding and caring for other human beings. My natural empathy is extremely deficient, as are my social skills.

    However, in my defence, I would like to point out that this week I stood up at a college JCR meeting and spoke out against the college’s plan to dismiss several of the cleaning staff in order to cut costs. I pointed out that in the current economic climate they’re unlikely to be able to afford further employment; and I said that, for my part, I would be glad to accept a bigger rent increase next year rather than throw some of the college’s most vulnerable employees out on the street.

    Why did I act against my own self-interest in this way? I don’t know. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I realise that this doesn’t make me some sort of hero; but I’m just trying to demonstrate that I don’t despise the poor.

    Nor am I unaware that I am extremely privileged, compared to the vast majority of people in human history, to have three meals a day and a roof over my head without really having to work for it. Indeed, I frequently feel guilty that I was granted this unearned privilege and, so far, have achieved nothing whatsoever in life to merit it.

    Self-loathing I will admit to – but I won’t discuss it further, as I have an unfortunate tendency to derail threads with my personal mental health issues.

  765. #768 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    No, they all had an influence in ending slavery, but none of them were the reasons for a slaves hope in his eventual freedom.

    First, wrong. Second, hopes are preferences and preferences don’t need reasons to be held.

    I can be hopeful that one day the meek shall inherent the earth, the poor will be fed, there will be no more war, that people would turn their tools of destruction into tools of cultivation (swords beaten into plow shares). That the Jew and the Arab will one day sit at a table and break bread together.

    Can you see why such a hope is absurd?

    No. It’s not absurd, your claims are absurd. The last one is particularly so, since Jews and Arabs sit at tables breaking bread together every day. Not just Jews and Arabs, but Jews and Palestinians (not all of whom are Arab). If you’re talking about the political conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinian refugees trapped in the West Bank and Gaza, we know from history that all political conflicts eventually end.

    Nothing about reality conveys that this form of life is possible, in fact reality seems to suggest other wise.

    You’re wrong and ignorant (see, for instance, Steven Pinker’s “The History of Violence”), and even if you were right the hope still would not be absurd or “irrational”. In fact, it is a category mistake to claim that a hope is irrational, since hopes are not beliefs or expectations or actions, they are merely desires about outcomes … with the exception of hoping for the truly impossible, such as gods answering your prayers. But none of the things you mention are impossible, and certainly the end of slavery wasn’t impossible, since it happened. And it didn’t happen through a miracle, it happened as a result of things “in reality”.

    That’d I’d have a better chance of winning the lottery seven day consecutively than having this sort of hope realized.

    When we have no reason, no evidence, no basis in reality for hope, our hope is absurd.

    Probability is Bayesian, a measure of ignorance. The probability estimates of an utter ignoramus such as yourself are worthless. Taking into account all available evidence, the probability of there eventually being peace in the Middle East is nearly 1.

  766. #769 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    However, in my defence, I would like to point out that this week I stood up at a college JCR meeting and spoke out against the college’s plan to dismiss several of the cleaning staff in order to cut costs. I pointed out that in the current economic climate they’re unlikely to be able to afford further employment; and I said that, for my part, I would be glad to accept a bigger rent increase next year rather than throw some of the college’s most vulnerable employees out on the street.

    There is hope for you yet. And no, I am not being facetious.

  767. #770 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Whether Hithesh was or was not a believer is irrelevant. His trying to force his testamony upon us now is all that is relevant. We reject his irrational testamony. Now you can go away, never to bother us again Hithesh. Further attempts to testamony will be considered proselytation, which is an immediate banning offence. Your choice.

  768. #771 pdferguson
    May 12, 2009

    It’s possible to be religious, and not be bothered by the plurality of different religions; they all have part of the truth.

    What friggin’ nonsense. There’s no evidence any of them have even the slightest “part of the truth”.

    That’s the problem with religions, they all make loud, forceful claims on “the truth”, elevating it with a capital “T” to give it an air of authority, making their claim exclusive of all others. It’s an integral part of the sales pitch (which Hithesh apparently fell for.) But that’s all it is, a sales pitch, nothing more. All religions have to sell are smoke and mirrors, neatly wrapped in nice shiny wrapping paper, imprinted with “The Truth” in cursive script.

    Religion is comprised of mythology, superstition and fables designed with one goal–power and control. The way they achieve that is to conflate their mythology with “The Truth”, distorting the meaning of the word to the point it loses all meaning. In fact, they turn the word upside down. The moment someone starts a sentence with “According to God’s Truth…”, they’re lying to you. Whenever someone claims the only way to “know the Truth is to accept Jesus”, they’re lying to you. When someone says the Bible (or the Koran, or the Book of Mormon) is the “word of God”, they’re lying to you. In religion, truths, with or without a capital “T”, are lies. It really is that simple.

    The truth is, they can’t handle the truth. That’s why evolution (and before that, geocentrism) pose such a dire threat to religion, it upsets the carefully scripted sales pitches they spent centuries refining. It exposes religious “truths” and those that spew them for what they are: frauds and liars.

  769. #772 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Well, I believe I’m using hope in the normal sense of the word, the only notion of it I’m excluding, is when we say things like I hope the underdog team wins tomorrow, or I hope i became a billionaire. These are notions of hope with out any real faith in what I hope for coming true at all.

    The things you are excluding are the normal use of the word.

    Compared to say I have hope, or I’m hopeful, meaning that I do have faith in what I hope for coming true, or being realized.

    “hope” has no such connotation.

  770. #773 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    P.S. In fact, “hope” carries a connotation of doubt, often coupled with worry. I hope I get the job (there’s a good chance I won’t). I hope he’s ok (I fear he isn’t).

  771. #774 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “Hithesh, you are rejecting other viewpoints _because you don’t want them to be true_; whereas we are rejecting yours because _there is no evidence it is true_. Grasp the difference, please.”

    Well, let’s keep in mind a worldview is an all encompassing sort of frame work.

    Here’s a summary of my worldview: To love all, even our enemies, to live life not in pursuit of materialism but in serviture and love towards others, : “to steward rather than pillage the earth, to distribute rather than to hoard her gifts, to serve rather than to rule, and to give life rather than to take it. ” To not engage in violence, but creative non-violence, that hate cannot conquer hate, only love can.

    To speak truth to power, to confront injustice were ever it lays, even if it means we suffer and die in such pursuits.

    And at the heart of this worldview is a conviction that makes it possible, and a hope that such pursuits are never in vain.

    How do you deny this worldview is true? anymore than yours is false?

  772. #775 Walton
    May 12, 2009

    The reason why I accept christianity over any other religion or worldview, is because I find the questions at heart of the narratives, shared by the writer and the community surrounding Jesus Christ, to be my own as well, and the answers that are claimed, to be the most profound one’s I know. The reason for why I find my worldview as true, and others as not as accurate or false, is for the same reason you find yours true, and others not so true.

    The reason why I hold Jesus is God, is because I see him, as the way, the truth, and the life, and these beliefs are indistinguishable for me from a belief in god. I perceive in his way and means of life, the way I should live mine, i find the direction that he points in to be the direction I’m compelled to follow, I perceive the truth he claims of human of existence, as a call to love even if we have to suffer for it to be a truth i hold as well. The image of Jesus Christ is indistinguishable for me from any image I could hold of God.

    PZ Meyers can find the image of a child staring at the stars to be meaningful for him, an image that inspires him, it just doesn’t do it for me. I’m a Christian because I find the Gospels profoundly meaningful, and inspiring, in it’s depiction of humanity at his worst, and humanity at it’s best. I reject what PZ myers finds meaningful, no differently that how he would reject what I find meaningful.

    Fair enough, and I understand your point of view. But you have to understand that what you have detailed above is an intensely personal, subjective set of visceral reactions. I acknowledge that your personal emotional connection to Christian imagery and symbolism is no doubt very meaningful for you, and I’m not asking you to reject, or even reconsider, your faith. Rather, I’m just trying to explain that your personal emotional reaction to Jesus and the Gospels does not constitute objective, testable evidence, and is not going to convince anyone other than yourself that your faith is the correct one.

    I apologise if this sounds harsh. You’re certainly far more intelligent and reasonable, and express a much more nuanced and realistic view, than a lot of the believers who post here. But the fact is that your personal religious feelings are not sufficient to demonstrate, objectively and to the satisfaction of a dispassionate observer, that the truth-claims made by Christianity are factually accurate.

    This is, indeed, the most common answer that intelligent believers give me when I challenge them on their reasons for believing. They usually admit that they can’t adduce objective evidence to support their creed; but they typically explain that they have a “personal relationship with God” and have felt the “presence of God in their lives”, and that this is sufficient reason for them to believe. And that’s fine. But that kind of “evidence” is inherently personal and subjective; to an outside observer, there’s no way of distinguishing between that and mere delusion or wishful thinking.

    I can say, for myself, that in all the years I was a fervent believer and attended church regularly, I never felt the “presence of God in my life” – despite desperately wanting it. So such claims – high-minded as they sound, and real as they no doubt feel to those who experience them – are not going to convince me, in the absence of solid evidence. Ultimately, Christianity makes a claim of fact – that Jesus was a divine being, performed miracles and was resurrected from the dead – and I will become a Christian if, and only if, someone unearths compelling historical evidence for the truth of that claim.

  773. #776 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh:

    Do you believe there is correlation between moral reasoning and proactive moral behavior? Do you deny that in most recent studies no correlation has been found or at best a small correlation?

    Do you deny that morality is more correlated with emotion and self-control?

    That sounds interesting. Do I “believe” or “deny” any of this or that? No, not yet. Cites, please?

    “Emotion and self-control” … what do you mean? There’s a contradiction lurking in that phrase. Which emotions? Anger? Rage? Compassion? Delight? If a man gives $1,000 to an orphanage on a whim, does he lack self-control?

    + + +

    For now, we have an anecdote from Walton that supports Hithesh’s claim:

    Why did I act against my own self-interest in this way? I don’t know. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

    Hmmmm!

  774. #777 Patricia, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Walton – Sincerely, congratulations on taking a giant step in the right direction. Well done.

  775. #778 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    The slave singing a hymn claiming that he’ll be free, is not only expressing his desire for a freedom, but his belief that he will eventually be freed. A wish to be free, doesn’t include the later.

    But this is not a case of hope, it’s a case of expectation or even certainty. You muddy your already muddy ideas by misusing words and making bogus distinctions (like between “complete” and “absolute”).

    Do you understand this better now?

    What I understand is that you are as confused about the English language as you are about everything else.

  776. #779 Patricia, OM
    May 12, 2009

    sHitesh – You are prostelitizing. That is a bannable offense here. PZ does not suffer this foolishness for long.
    Your god is bullshit.

  777. #780 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, your opinion means nothing to us. You can believe in your god, but we don’t have to. And we won’t given your inane arguments and lack of physical evidence. We don’t want to hear more of your proselystation. Time to pack up your posts and fade into the bandwidth.

  778. #781 AJ Milne
    May 12, 2009

    That sounds interesting. Do I “believe” or “deny” any of this or that? No, not yet. Cites, please?

    Oh, no no, Watchman. Sure, that’s how it’s done in sane discussions actually directed at getting to the truth of something. State your cites upfront, explain your conclusions therefrom, let your critics have at both…

    This is not that world. Here, the troll merely implies he has supporting material, and waits for someone he intereprets as hostile to make a statement he thinks he can contradict with whatever he might have on the spike. He plays the hand only if he thinks he can make it play in his direction. And the interpretation allowing him to do so will, of course, be his–allowing him to remain on the attack almost regardless of what is said and what he has…

    See, the other way, he has to defend an actual thesis. And that’s no good. That would require him to have one that’s actually (a) coherent, and (b) defensible. As opposed to stroking his own ego with small tactical, rhetorical gains against an enemy that doesn’t even precisely know exactly what it is he’s defending.

    Also, more or less the method of ‘complex theology’.

    /Ref #765. See also ‘chum, you don’t even have a ringer. Just a spin cycle.’

  779. #782 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Wins a prize for stupidest comment.On this thread,anyway.

    I doubt that Kel has ever made the stupidest comment on any thread. Not so for you, Clinteas/Rorshach. Hell, I’ve been programming since 1965, was a UNIX systems programmer for years, have run Linux since 1994, and I still keep a Windows box around to run the numerous apps that require it.

  780. #783 pdferguson
    May 12, 2009

    Here’s a summary of my worldview: To love all, even our enemies, to live life not in pursuit of materialism but in serviture and love towards others, [blah, blah, blah...]

    And where the fuck does Bronze Age mythology come into this? What does any of this have to do with your ancient book of superstitions? Why do you need Jesus, a cartoonish superhero on a stick, to validate your views?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

  781. #784 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    Walton:

    “Rather, I’m just trying to explain that your personal emotional reaction to Jesus and the Gospels does not constitute objective, testable evidence, and is not going to convince anyone other than yourself that your faith is the correct one.”

    Well, walton I never attempted to present my beliefs otherwise. I find it ridiculous to argue for God like we would in arguing the correctness of a mathematical equation. I believe for entirely subjective reasons, for the same reason that I love my mother for entirely subjective reasons, or find a painting or poem meaningful. I couldn’t give you objective reasons to find a poem as meaningful as it is to me, or objective reasons to love my mother as well. I may be able to articulate why I believe what I do, but lets not confuse that with me trying to get you to believe what I do.

    I only expound on the subject because you asked, not because I felt that after expounding that I would convince you or anyone else here to believe in God.

    In the Gospel the projection of christian life is marked not by giving other objective reasons to share in one’s belief, but compel by living it–the “and they’ll know you’re christians by your love.” It’s call to be a light unto the world, that reveals the darkness in the lives of others, and the conviction to turn from it.

    It’s only by the empowering sense of life, i find in the Gospel that I am made to believe, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  782. #785 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Windows wins because the people who write the software you use only support it. And they will continue to do so until their customers demand otherwise.

    It will continue to do so as long Windows dominates the market. Software vendors aren’t so stupid as to waste their resources supporting low-market-share platforms just because a minority of their potential customers “demand” it.

  783. #786 Josh
    May 12, 2009

    Walton, you wrote a version of that post a while back in a similar situation. That previous comment wasn’t bad. This one was quite good. I rather enjoyed reading it. Well done. You’re seasoning nicely.

  784. #787 hithesh
    May 12, 2009

    “Hitesh – You are prostelitizing. That is a bannable offense here. PZ does not suffer this foolishness for long.”

    This is kind of comical, Walton asked why I believe Christianity to be true, why I believe Jesus is the son of God, i expounded on why, now individuals like yourself and Nerdy accuse me of proselytizing?

    It’s probably a good way to get rid of theist you don’t like, ask them why they believe, and when they give you an answer, accuse them or proselytizing, and then try and get that accusation going, and scare them that that big bad boogey monster known as PZ Myers is going to ban me for this.

    I don’t know, if I did get banned for this, whether I should be offended, or laugh at the absurdity.

    Silly rabbits, tricks are for kids.

  785. #788 Stephen Wells
    May 12, 2009

    hithesh, do you understand why the wish to live your life in a certain way (because you think the Big Kahuna told you to) is not in any sense evidence for the existence of the Big Kahuna?

    If your “god” is just an idea in your head, and you know that, fine. Run along. If you claim otherwise, evidence please.

  786. #789 Patricia, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Stop the damn preaching!

    Walton, you shouldn’t play with boys like him. It will ruin your somewhat improved reputation.

  787. #790 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Here, lets read the wikipedia entry on Hope:

    “To hope is to wish for something with the expectation of the wish being fulfilled.”

    Read it again. A funny thing about Wikipedia: anyone can edit it, even people as confused and mistaken as you are. That claim was not supported by the given dictionary citation, and the reference to unrequited love was absurd (that has nothing at all to do with hope) so I’ve removed it. That’s just the beginning of the problems with that article, which is marked with “Citations missing” and “Inappropriate tone” tags.

  788. #791 AdamK
    May 12, 2009

    Have to add my thanks to Walton for the long post, not to mention the good deed. I love seeing intellectual and moral growth in people.

  789. #792 'Tis Himself
    May 12, 2009

    hithesh #774

    Here’s a summary of my worldview: To love all, even our enemies, to live life not in pursuit of materialism but in serviture and love towards others [other altruisms omitted]…How do you deny this worldview is true? anymore than yours is false?

    Words fail me. The only question I have is: How do you keep your halo from getting too tight?

  790. #793 Kel
    May 12, 2009

    We can discuss the relative merits of the XBox, the PS3 and the Wii all day long, but my choices are constrained if I want to play Super Mario Galaxy. I’ll use Linux if I want to build a wall of rendering stations to crunch animation frames, but if I want to play Crysis or HL2 or UT3, and/or use the available development tools to make mods, it won’t be on linux. I’m told Eagletosh’s Holodrome is the best, but then I’m just another knucklehead.

    That sums it up well.

  791. #794 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 12, 2009

    Hithesh, we are still waiting for the physical evidence for your imaginary god. Until you show that evidence, you are a delusional fool, like we have been saying all along.

  792. #795 Watchman
    May 12, 2009

    nothing’s sacred:

    Hell, I’ve been programming since 1965

    Impressive. I wrote my first program (in FOCAL) at age 12 in 1969, but didn’t even begin to get serious until college (mid ’70s) and didn’t earn a paycheck from it until ’82. I’m in the *NIX world now, but am still recovering from having been a VMS guy for years. (That’s OpenVMS for you youngers.)

    hithesh:

    How do you deny this worldview is true?

    The description you’ve posted can’t be evaluated as either true or false. What you’ve done is itemize characteristics of the way you’d like to live your life, and the way you’d like to see others live their lives. Are they admirable goals? Sure. Do they require “conviction” that God and Jesus are real? No. Are they “true”? I don’t know; is vanilla ice cream true, or false? How about chocolate pudding? Or fried grasshoppers? Do you prefer baseball to football? Is a preference for one more contain more truth than a preference for the other? If my worldview includes socialized medicine, is my worldview true, or false?

    What was your point again? That only through Christ can we achieve morality, compassion, love, and hope? Or that only through Christ can You achieve morality, compassion, love, and hope?

  793. #796 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    Walton, this is not the first time you have earned my admiration. Your flashes of humility and recognition of your flaws — as when you commented recently to the effect that you might not know what you were talking about and often don’t — provide you with a form of cognitive power, the ability to reevaluate your beliefs and incorporate additional evidence. They also encourage a certain trust in your sincerity and your willingness to listen. (Now if only that would extend to discussions of AGW …)

  794. #797 Owlmirror
    May 12, 2009

    The reason why I accept christianity over any other religion or worldview, is because I find the questions at heart of the narratives, shared by the writer and the community surrounding Jesus Christ, to be my own as well, and the answers that are claimed, to be the most profound one’s I know.

    So… just to clarify: you don’t believe in God as an actual person; a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin that is out there in reality somewhere, but rather as an set of ideas inside of your own head? What you call a “worldview” is just that: a subjective and personal set of ideas and interpretations that you have absorbed from the New Testament canon and call “Christianity”, with no regard or even real interest as to whether any of the narrative of the person called Christ happened as actual events in history?

  795. #798 nothing's sacred
    May 12, 2009

    (Now if only that would extend to discussions of AGW …)

    Ah, I just saw your

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/idiot_america_new_and_expanded.php#comment-1626541

    Good on you.

  796. #799 Chemgirl
    May 12, 2009

    Simply beautiful, PZ. May I suggest you give up on biology to become a poet?

  797. #800 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with so much fondness for Blows Against the Empire. When I get home from school I’ll have to dig up the story told by Frank Drake, about his visiting Tim Leary in San Quentin with Carl Sagan, who both had to break it to Tim gently that “kidnapping the starship,” at least anything buildable with 1960′s technology, wasn’t going to get anybody very far, interstellar distances being what they are.

    …God as an actual person; a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin…

    “The world continues to deteriorate. Give up.”

  798. #801 MikeG
    May 12, 2009

    All this tosh about hope and transcendence and no one has mentioned today’s Jesus and Mo? Hithesh may want to see this.

    Apologies if I missed a link to this in the comments between work (and pub) and home.

  799. #802 MikeG
    May 12, 2009

    I would also like to add my voice to those speaking in praise of Walton.

    Walton, you have come a long way in your intellectual development. Keep it up, and remember, dogma in any form (religious of otherwise) can be dangerous.

  800. #803 Feynmaniac
    May 12, 2009

    Walton,

    I disagree with most of what you write, but I believe in giving praise where it’s due. Comment #743 was excellent. I don’t say this merely because I agree with it (though I’ll let you be the judge of that). You articulated your thoughts well and showed a commitment to reason and evidence.

    If we are harsh to some of your comments it is because we know you are capable of better.

    Please keep it up.

  801. #804 Rorschach
    May 12, 2009

    NS,

    I misread,thought it was someone else’s post,and apologized to Kel straight away.Fail to see what the big deal is.

    Walton @ 775,

    very nicely said.This “argument from personal relationship with god and special emotional connection to Jesus” is one of the most annoying and silly,and you hear it all the time.

    Rudy and Hithesh,

    in case you missed it,our junior just wiped the floor with you.

  802. #805 Rudy
    May 12, 2009

    Rorsarch, Walton didn’t seem to be addressing anything I said (though I did make some remarks prompted by his 775. If by
    “junior” you mean Walton?

    His 775 seemed reasonable to me. Is this whole thread just about winning and losing to you, Rorsarch?

  803. #806 Ken Cope
    May 12, 2009

    in case you missed it,our junior just wiped the floor with you.

    Yep, another good reason I’m glad I brought a (previously) transparent tarp down here for the cheap seats. After Walton’s patented “flying pinwheel of doom” finishing move, it was transubstantiated Kensington Gore everywhere, as gibbets of “this is my body” flew amid geysers of “this is my blood.”

    It needed doing.

  804. #807 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    A belief in the transcendent, is also a belief in what can make the transcendent possible (God).

    incorrect. while the belief in dieties usually demands a belief in the transcendent (i.e. magic), a belief in magic doesn’t require a belief in dieties.

    Well, this all started around post 465, where someone couldn’t get this, why my holding of a transcendent belief in the power of love is congruent with my belief in God. They couldn’t figure out that these beliefs are overlapping. That they are not two separate beliefs, but one.

    that’s because they ARE two separate things. more precisely, they are two different degrees of abstraction. “love” is a term we humans use for the complex, bio-chemical reactions that occur when confronted with certain people; it’s a social abstraction of a real phenomenon. gods are the result of anthropomorphism of those abstractions (and, more directly, of various natural phenomena); in other words, they’re wholly made-up embellishments on reality.

    your god as you describe him in this thread is the anthromorphization of love. congratulations, you are worshiping a male version of Aphrodite.

  805. #808 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    also, I’m going to have to jump on the bandwagon and congratulate Walton both on his lucid explanation of agnosticism, and for standing up for the disadvantaged. :-)

  806. #809 Jadehawk
    May 12, 2009

    lastly: rudy, you were certainly right that the conversation about countries and atheism is now over. I thought I explained to you that you can’t pick from widely disparate social situations and meaningfully compare them on the basis of a SINGLE aspect. I even thought you got the point when you picked only a small subset of countries. but since you then jumped ahead with some small indigenous tribe, you clearly STILL don’t understand how to compare things for a single variable.

    unless of course you think anyone here claims that religion is the SOLE variable in determining standard of living, which would be a strawman.

    also, “standard of Living” is not a game of “he who dies with the most toys wins”; actual wealth is part of it, but social stability, freedom, health, happiness, level of oppression of parts of the society etc. are very much part of that, too. so simply saying that a non-theistic tribe has less wealth than a somewhat theistic western society is meaningless in the context of standard of living. it is also meaningless in the context of religiosity, since there’s too many other variables to consider

    until you stop cherrypicking your data, and comparing apples to oranges, any further discussion with you is worthless

  807. #810 Kseniya
    May 13, 2009

    J-hawk:

    you are worshiping a male version of Aphrodite.

    Perhaps you mean this fellow.

    Nice comments, by the way.

  808. #811 nothing's sacred
    May 13, 2009

    I misread,thought it was someone else’s post,and apologized to Kel straight away.

    Ah, right, it was only the stupidest comment in the thread if someone other than Kel made it. You’re such a pathetic coward.

    Fail to see what the big deal is.

    I made one small comment on it; no big deal for me, but obviously one for you.

  809. #812 Jadehawk
    May 13, 2009

    thanks

    well, I never considered Eros as a god of all kinds of love… if I remember correctly, Greek pantheons had the main god, and then godlings for the different aspects of what the main god stood for… kind of like Ares had the godlings Phobos and Deimos… anyway, I always thought of Eros as the god of EROTIC love, so maybe not quite appropriate here (unless I got my interpretation wrong :-p )

  810. #813 Jadehawk
    May 13, 2009

    the eros and psyche story also involved jealousy though… so maybe a bit more fitting for the jealous OT god, heheh

  811. #814 Rorschach
    May 13, 2009

    @ 811,

    Way to twist what I wrote.I dont care,really,if it makes you feel better,twist away.

  812. #815 SaynaTheSpiffy
    May 13, 2009

    This is a brilliant story and all, but I just have one question:

    What kind of freaky elephant lets itself be felt up by three creepy blind dudes?!

  813. #816 Kel
    May 13, 2009

    How do you deny this worldview is true? anymore than yours is false?

    Because yours has a magic man and a blood sacrifice of said magic man at the centre of it. All you have is belief in belief, your beliefs however they make you act do not verify the truth of said beleifs. I deny your worldview is true because you believe in worshipping a god whose stand-out feature is impregnating a woman to give birth to himself so he could partake in blood sacrifice in order to redeem the sins of allegorical ancestors. Even if your beliefs lead to what people would consider noble and admirable characters, they are still based on the same falsehoods as those who use those came beliefs as an excuse for malevolent actions.

  814. #817 nothing's sacred
    May 13, 2009

    I dont care

    Lying coward.

  815. #818 hithesh
    May 13, 2009

    “So… just to clarify: you don’t believe in God as an actual person; a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin that is out there in reality somewhere.”

    Well, other than besides a few fundies, I don’t know any christians who view God as a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin.

    “but rather as an set of ideas inside of your own head? What you call a “worldview” is just that: a subjective and personal set of ideas and interpretations.”

    Well, all religions are worldviews, this is no different if you’re a fundie, orthodox theist, or a liberal one. It’s through the lens of Christianity that a christian looks at the world. For a fundie, beliefs that the tainted nature of humanity is caused by a man eating an apple a couple thousands years ago, the world is a couple thousand years old, and has an appearance of intelligent design, are all perspectives of the world they live in, even if they’re all false, and not all of it is subjective, such as the view that the world is only a few thousand years old is not a subjective claim.

    “that you have absorbed from the New Testament canon and call “Christianity”, with no regard or even real interest as to whether any of the narrative of the person called Christ happened as actual events in history?”

    Sure, i have an interest in the history behind the text, how was it was formed, what ideas went into it. I have an interest in Jesus Christ being an actual historical person, who was actually crucified, and that there was an actual resurrection experience. It would be quite difficult to reconcile the meaning of the gospels without such things.

    But do I have an anachronistic belief that the Gospel accounts, or biographies written in the greco-roman world are written like modern biographies for the sake of conveying what actually happened, and the order in which event took place? No, I don’t. The Gospel’s like any other greco-roman biography of a religious figures, are written to convey the meaning of that person, the meaning of his teaching, and the meaning of the events that surrounded his life.

  816. #819 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 13, 2009

    Hithesh, you seen to think we care about what you say. We don’t. You are a woo filled fool, and we are less than interested in such nonsense. You need to pull the plug on your posts.

  817. #820 hithesh
    May 13, 2009

    Rorshach: “Rudy and Hithesh,
    in case you missed it,our junior just wiped the floor with you.”

    Judging that all Walton pretty much did was ask a few questions about my faith, you have to be pretty deluded to assume he wiped the floor with me.

    It’s like me asking why are you an atheist, “why do you think that atheism is true and not paganism. The problem with atheism is that you can tell the difference between one truth and the other, like what makes a child gazing at the starts a better signifier for the human condition than a suffering innocent? What makes love your neighbor any more significant than brushing you teeth, yada..yada..yada.” And then some clown claiming that by me asking these questions, is a roundhouse kick to the face o my opponent.

    When I responded to his questions, all he said was:

    “Fair enough, and I understand your point of view.” And then when on to state that all I’ve presented was subjective reasons for my belief, and not objective reasons to convince anybody else to believe. He only repeated something that I’ve said all along, something I already confessed. That its out of a conviction that I became a christian, just like for walton it was out of a conviction that he spoke out on behalf of the soon to be unemployed janitors

    And I don’t care if some atheist take gripes with this, or in their shallowness claim that I should only be believing out of objective reasons, when I myself feel that the God they’re looking for, the one that waves a large flag and yells, “yo dudes here i am.” Is a pointless god, and a distraction from the purpose he tends for his creatures. Such believers becomes obsessed like some fundies are, creating creation science museums, and the discovery institute, rather than pursuits of agape love, tending the least of the world, following a god who desires mercy over sacrifice, the pursuit of justice, and not servitude towards him alone, but servitude to him seen in our servitude toward others.

    You may claim that such a god would be the only meaningful one for you, just like PZ can claim the star gazing child is meaningful for him, but they are meaningless to me. The God that the village atheist demands to be convinced of, is not my own, and would only be a distraction, from what is wanted out of our conviction.

    So you must be fairly delusional, to take this as wiping the floor with me? I doubt even Walton feels that.

  818. #821 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 13, 2009

    Hithesh, until you are ready to present physical evidence for your imaginary deity you have nothing cogent to say to us. You have no logic, just woo woo woo. The neighbors dog has a more coherent message than you do.

  819. #822 hithesh
    May 13, 2009

    Nerd: “Hithesh, you seen to think we care about what you say. We don’t. You are a woo filled fool, and we are less than interested in such nonsense. You need to pull the plug on your posts.”

    Nerd I know you’re stuck on this “we” delusion, but I doubt anyone here wants to make you their mouth piece. So have the intellectual honesty to say you’re speaking for yourself, and you really don’t have a clue what each and every other atheist on the forum feels. Rather than “we” say “I” or even “me and patricia”. Could you at least get this my little dimwit?

    Judging that I’ve only been responding to questions asked of me. It sure seems like some people care, at least enough to be asking them in the first place. So how much more fucking detached from reality could you be?

    In the words of PZ Myers “you’re a pathological nutcase.”, just go home dude, and quit the whining, and the threats. You’re just embarrassing yourself, not me.

  820. #823 echidna
    May 13, 2009

    Hithesh,
    Nerd is welcome to speak for me. You don’t seem to understand, Walton did indeed wipe the floor with you.

    Your reasons to believe are basically inside your head, and have no basis in reality. Walton told you that. Now go away, and keep your hallucinations to yourself.

  821. #824 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 13, 2009

    Hithesh, you are a pathological nutcase. Quit bothering us. We don’t want your woo. You have physical evidence for your imaginary deity, which would be the only thing we are interested in, and we have demonstrated your religious belief is irrelevant to leading a good life. So you have nothing to offer. Go away.

  822. #825 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 13, 2009

    *headdesk* second sentence in #824 should read: You have no physical…

  823. #826 John Morales
    May 13, 2009

    hithesh:

    So how much more fucking detached from reality could you [NoR] be?

    I find it pretty funny that a believer in the supernatural should address an atheist scientist so.

    Hint: Nerd is not using the royal ‘we’.

  824. #827 TwinIonEngines
    May 13, 2009

    “I have an interest in Jesus Christ being an actual historical person, who was actually crucified, and that there was an -actual resurrection experience-.”

    That’s the sticking point, Hithesh. There are no good reasons to believe that there was an actual resurrection experience, period. All that you can establish is that you have reason to -want- a resurrection to have occurred.

    To back up a little:

    “The reason why I accept christianity over any other religion or worldview, is because I find the questions at heart of the narratives, shared by the writer and the
    community surrounding Jesus Christ, to be my own as well, and the answers that are claimed, to be the most profound one’s I know.”

    As people keep telling you, wishing doesn’t make it so. You have said that you believe for “entirely subjective” reasons, as you might “find a painting or poem meaningful” – but no subjective motivation provides any reason to believe in historical actuality of the resurrection event – only to desire it.

    This isn’t an anachronistic detail, this is the center of the Christian faith. No resurrection means no sacrifice, no sacrifice means no grace. And you can’t even demonstrate that -you- should believe that it happened, because it depends upon a physical event in the material world. Objective reasons are required, and all you have (by your own admission) are subjective ones.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  825. #828 hithesh
    May 13, 2009

    Kel: ” I deny your worldview is true because you believe in worshipping a god whose stand-out feature is impregnating a woman to give birth to himself so he could partake in blood sacrifice in order to redeem the sins of allegorical ancestors. ”

    Judging that I don’t believe in any of this, and you just made that shit up that this was my beliefs, I don’t know how well your argument holds up.

    Judging that the message of the “reign of God” is at the heart of the gospels, and you completely annexed that from your supposed assumption about my beliefs, we could guess how stupid the assumptions are in reference to the text as well.

  826. #829 Kel
    May 13, 2009

    I’m going to take a page from NoR’s book here. hithesh, your God exists purely between your ears. You have done nothing in this thread to demonstrate your beliefs have any validity. Instead you’ve justified belief in belief and that has no bearing whatsoever on the truth behind the beliefs themselves. Your emperor has no clothes, we can see shriveled genitalia and are calling it as such. If you want to demonstrate that your beliefs have any validity, please stop engaging in “belief in belief” arguments and start showing evidence for the belief itself. Until such time, people can and will call you out on you espousing credulous nonsense.

  827. #830 Kel
    May 13, 2009

    Judging that I don’t believe in any of this, and you just made that shit up that this was my beliefs, I don’t know how well your argument holds up.

    Yes or no answers:
    Is Jesus God-incarnate?
    Did Jesus sacrifice himself to redeem the sins of mankind on the cross?
    Do you believe in original sin?

    If you answered no to any of those, then what makes you a Christian?

  828. #831 Wowbagger, OM
    May 13, 2009

    If you answered no to any of those, then what makes you a Christian?

    Why isn’t heddle here? He keeps on denying that cafeteria Christians as embarrassingly clueless as hithesh exist; it’s unfortunate he’s not he to be proved wrong.

    hithesh, can you write that stuff about how confusing shit bat shit is again? That was brilliant.

  829. #832 Rudy
    May 13, 2009

    The reason my country comparisons were all over the map, was to make the point (not clearly I guess) that there are way too many variables involved to make the kind of comparison people wanted to make.

    Just the fact that the US crushed its labor movement, and Sweden did not, is enough to make a welfare comparison between them difficult; just becuase they are both “democracies” doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and say, “well, we’ve controlled for that variable, now let’s compare their religiosity”. Haiti and the US are both capitalist countries, India and the US are both democracies, Vietnam and NK are both Communist. These categories are just starting points in a discussion, not “variables”.

  830. #833 Kel
    May 13, 2009

    I can understand that different Christians choose different aspects of their religion to emphasise. But really, those issues seem core to Christianity (well ever since the Nicene Creed.) While not supported in the oldest of gospels, the notion of Jesus being God-incarnate has been central to Christian thought for over 1600 years. And what else was the sacrifice for but to atone for original sin? I can see that he may object to the terms I used to describe the events (they are absurd to I framed it as such) but really those seem to be the underlying beliefs of Christianity. That God is a trinity, composed of the father, the son and the holy spirit. Jesus came to earth to atone for the sins of mankind, and by dying on the cross was able to give his followers a path to God.

    John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – really, if hithesh is going to deny that these are the basic parameters of his belief in God, then what does he have left to call himself a Christian? It’s redemption through Christ at it’s most basic. This isn’t about being a Cafeteria Christian, it’s about the basic tenets of the religion. If hithesh doesn’t subscribe to the belief that Jesus is God, then what is he?

  831. #834 hithesh
    May 13, 2009

    “That’s the sticking point, Hithesh. There are no good reasons to believe that there was an actual resurrection experience, period. ”

    Well, even historians agree there was a resurrection experience, though they’re not sure of what it was comprised, whether it be visions or whatever else not.

    Jesus was crucified and died, and rather than meeting the fate of every other crucified and killed messiah at the time, abandon, and forgotten, something happened after his death, that instead of diminishing their hope, renewed it. What ever this experience was it was as real to them as touching wounded flesh.

    This stands regardless of if I want it to be true, or not.

    “You have said that you believe for “entirely subjective” reasons, as you might “find a painting or poem meaningful”

    Well, if it wasn’t for subjective reasons we wouldn’t be compelled to believe anything at all. We just wouldn’t care to believe. As I said in a previous post I would still find the christian perspective as the most accurate worldview, as a form of tragic humanism, even if I was a disbeliever, I just wouldn’t be empowered by the Christian hope, there for I wouldn’t be a believer (a Christian).

    It’s only by being compelled, by being convicted to follow, that I’m believer, without that even if all the facts were true, I wouldn’t be a christian at all.

  832. #835 Kel
    May 13, 2009

    Ahhh, the experience is subjective card. Someone talking to someone else and someone rising from the dead, it’s all subjective right? Nevermind that millions of people die each year and none rise from the dead. Nevermind that mythology is littered with god-men conquering death. All that matters is that a couple of eyewitnesses said Jesus resurrected and all sense of scepticism is thrown out the window. After all, when Christianity had to compete with pagan God-men, what reason would it’s followers have to say that Jesus is just as powerful as the gods they are trying to displace?

    I submit that human resurrection is an extraordinary claim, and thus a claim that requires extraordinary evidence. If all we have is eyewitness accounts (which we don’t even have but that is besides the point) then is that extraordinary enough evidence to support the belief? Do we take the words of millions who have seen UFOs and thousands who have been abducted to mean that aliens are among us? If the answer is no, then why is it any better for Christianity?

  833. #836 Wowbagger, OM