Pharyngula

Collins has a new book coming out, titled Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. It’s the same old drivel: CS Lewis, old chestnuts re-roasted on a dying fire, nature and science somehow testifying to the truth of faith, moral law, fine-tuning, the Big Bang, etc. Jerry Coyne says it just right:

Enough is enough.  Collins is director of the NIH, and is using his office to argue publicly that scientific evidence—the Big Bang, the “Moral Law” and so forth—points to the existence of a God.  That is blurring the lines between faith and science: exactly what I hoped he would not do when he took his new job.

And to those who say that he has the right to publish this sort of stuff, well, yes he does.  He has the legal right.  But it’s not judicious to argue publicly, as the most important scientist in the US, that there is scientific evidence for God.  Imagine, for example, the outcry that would ensue if Collins were an atheist and, as NIH director, published a collection of atheistic essays along the lines of Christopher Hitchens’s The Portable Atheist, but also arguing that scientific evidence proved that there was no God.  He would, of course, promptly be canned as NIH director.

Or imagine if Collins were a Scientologist, arguing that the evidence pointed to the existence of Xenu and ancient “body-thetans” that still plague humans today. Or a Muslim, arguing that evidence pointed to the existence of Allah, and of Mohamed as his divine prophet.  Or if he published a book showing how scientific evidence pointed to the efficacy of astrology, or witchcraft.  People would think he was nuts.

Collins gets away with this kind of stuff only because, in America, Christianity is a socially sanctioned superstition.  He’s the chief government scientist, but he won’t stop conflating science and faith.  He had his chance, and he blew it.  He should step down.

I note that one of the ways the book is being promoted is by touting the credentials of its editor as “the Director of the National Institutes of Health.” Atheists are often told that they are “harming the cause” by being outspoken with their ideas, that it is impolitic for science educators to be forthright about their godlessness, that we should emphasize the compatibility of science and religion (even when we think it is false) — and we’re also told that this is part of the virtue of scientific objectivity, since we can’t possibly disprove the existence of a god. I should like to see some of those same people and organizations (like, say, the Colgate Twins or the NCSE) to come out and similarly deplore this promotion of medieval nonsense by a supposed scholar of good science.

They won’t. It’s never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity. It’s always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.

Comments

  1. #1 Steve LaBonne
    February 24, 2010

    I really thought Collins would have the common sense and decency to avoid this kind of thing while serving as NIH director. Clearly I was naive, and the people who opposed his appointment were right.

  2. #2 onlycheryl
    February 24, 2010

    Or imagine if he were Surgeon General saying children should be taught about masterbation.

    Those of us who are well reasoned will be appalled at his behavior. Sheeple will not mind because it does not go against their superstitions, as was the case with Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    I for one would love to see Francis Collins expose on the Virtues of Scientology flanked by his monkey boy Tom Cruise.

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Or imagine if he were Surgeon General saying children should be taught about masterbation.

    Those of us who are well reasoned will be appalled at his behavior. Sheeple will not mind because it does not go against their superstitions, as was the case with Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

    Seriously? That’s the comparison you want to make?

  5. #5 Anti_Theist-317
    February 24, 2010

    How do we ‘de-elect’ him? What proactive steps can we take to dethrone the king? I have a credit card with $50-100 to assist. People of all religions even those without seem to like donations.
    ———-
    “If Jesus touched your heart show me on the doll where else he touched you.”
    –Tony

  6. #6 PeteJohn
    February 24, 2010

    So does Collins actually have anything new to say in this book? Or is he just trying to repackage The Language of God? I obviously don’t think he shouldn’t have the right to publish this stuff… but my only question is what is the purpose of publishing the same book again? This is the kind of stuff Kirk Comfort does, not the head of the NIH. This seems to be an instance of money-hunting I don’t know what is.

  7. #7 Newfie
    February 24, 2010

    Collins should write a book that meticulously disproves every other deity first, before arguing for just one.
    http://pagan.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Deities

    That’s a lot of ‘supreme’ beings for only one little blue sphere in the Universe. Think of how many trillions of billions of deities there must actually be for the rest of it.

    Folks don’t have a problem with phrases like “Greek Mythology”, “Roman Mythology”, “Egyptian Mythology”.. but, when you substitute the word “Hebrew”, they get gobsmacked.

  8. #8 Anti_Theist-317
    February 24, 2010

    “That is blurring the lines between faith and science: exactly what I hoped he would not do when he took his new job.”

    I never understand comments like this. It troubles me more when uttered from the lips of PZ. Anyone else troubled by it?

    As far as I can see it the man is a delusional theist. He believes his god, not yours is real. The laws of god, not the laws of man are what govern his life – he is not alone. If his god is real he has his mission clearly defined for him. His purpose on this earth is to spread his love for god. To him the purpose of this life is not to demonstrate his compassion for others, knowledge of science or bridge gaps by reaching out and working with other non-theists. If he truly is a theist these would not even be secondary objectives. His mission as outlined by his god, by any means necessary, is to confront and conform as many non-theists as possible. The meaning of this life to him is to demonstrate his worthlessness and love to his god in exchange for eternal happiness in a magical kingdom in an unknown location.

    Although he is most likely too much of a coward to tell you to your face. He believes if you do not love his god you are broken, sinful or otherwise vile – you will rot in hell or some other type of limbo while he parties it up. How could he ever view a non-theist as an equal or of value. He views my daughter like this. Fuck him, his god and anyone who believes this nonsense. This though. . . This is why theists can never be trusted. Their alliance is with their god not others.
    ————-
    “If Jesus touched your heart show me on the doll where else he touched you”
    –Tony

  9. #9 DanielR
    February 24, 2010

    I am going to have to disagree.

    Imagine, for example, the outcry that would ensue if Collins were an atheist and, as NIH director, published a collection of atheistic essays along the lines of Christopher Hitchens’s The Portable Atheist, but also arguing that scientific evidence proved that there was no God. He would, of course, promptly be canned as NIH director

    Yes, that is the situation we are in and it is wrong that an atheist who did that would be fired. But if you are going to say that Collins should not be able to publish his book, you are essentially saying that atheists in government positions should also be made to keep their mouths shut about their beliefs.
    As long as their beliefs are not influencing the professional decisions they make, a person should be free to be open about whatever they personally believe. Two oppressions do not make a freedom, er something like that.

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    “That is blurring the lines between faith and science: exactly what I hoped he would not do when he took his new job.”

    I never understand comments like this. It troubles me more when uttered from the lips of PZ. Anyone else troubled by it?

    Why should that trouble me. PZ states exactly what I thought about it. When Collins was being appointed, I thought “Lets hope he doesn’t do something stupid”. That doesn’t mean I thought he wouldn’t or expected he wouldn’t, just that I hoped he wouldn’t.

  11. #11 andrewblairesch
    February 24, 2010

    Argh.

    This was to be expected, I suppose. The man has a successful publishing career, and there’s no real need to stop just because he’s a high-level appointee. The public has his back…

  12. #12 Glen Davidson
    February 24, 2010

    It’s always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.

    Welcome to politics. Same as the fact that an atheist almost certainly could not be elected today.

    So it’s well to point out the unfairness of it all, just don’t exaggerate the impact of Collins’ tripe. Likely it will have a few reviews in science journals, most, if not all, of which will point out that it’s meaningless drivel.

    The people who’d really like to have Collins on their side are the IDiots, and at least Collins is not at all on their side. Which is to say that a few theists will be happy to see the book and will spout its sad little nonsense, while it slightly detracts from IDiocy.

    Mostly, a non-event–unfortunately (and illegitimately, in the moral sense) made slightly more of an impact because he’s the apologist-in-chief.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  13. #13 https://me.yahoo.com/a/fmNe0g4K3PT3lo9YncSRaNWDN9YFBAzHCg--#a1b6c
    February 24, 2010

    Guess what — there’s a big push against secularist Western thought in the State Department.

    From http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/23/AR2010022305103.html

    American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

    The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.”

  14. #14 Sastra
    February 24, 2010

    Daniel R. #9 wrote:

    Yes, that is the situation we are in and it is wrong that an atheist who did that would be fired. But if you are going to say that Collins should not be able to publish his book, you are essentially saying that atheists in government positions should also be made to keep their mouths shut about their beliefs.

    Nobody has said that Collins should not be “able” to publish his book. There are other questions, though.

    PZ is, I think, making two arguments.

    The first is that Collins’ book is bad science. He is trying to support the God hypothesis using evidential arguments which fail. An atheist who wrote a similar book pointing out that modern science does not support God isn’t going to be guilty of the same mistake, and isn’t going to be subject to charges of inconsistency. The director of the NIH should not put out substandard attempts to support a failed hypothesis.

    The second argument is that, if God is going to officially be considered “off-limits” to scientists, per the NIH, then this principle ought to be followed consistently. If PZ Myers as director of the NIH would be discouraged from applying science to God, then Francis Collins as director of the NIH should also be discouraged from applying science to God. The result, should not matter.

    On the whole, the new atheist stance is the first one: examine the existence of God like any other hypothesis, giving it no special treatment. NOMA is a politically correct, scientifically vacuous, passive attempt, to pander to superstition.

    But what Collins is doing is a politically correct, scientifically dishonest, active attempt, to pander to superstition. Not good.

  15. #15 tideliar
    February 24, 2010

    I wonder how long this book has been in the works. If it was something from his pre-boss-of-NIH days, then his publisher may have taken the decision out of his hands. The book is done, and the editors have it. We’re adding your new job title to the blurb to help it sell. And there’s nothing you can do about it because the contracts are signed.

    If it’s something new, then this is not a very astute decision at all, because he doesn’t have the right to publish theistic (or indeed, any kind of) polemic from his new throan.

  16. #16 DanielR
    February 24, 2010

    #14

    The first argument is not what I was disagreeing with. The second argument is what I disagree with. If PZ or Collins was NIH director, they should both be able to publish a book saying that science either proves or disproves god.
    The idea that we should say “fine, we can’t talk about our disbelief in god, you can’t talk about your belief in god,” is giving up, in my opinion.
    Yes, we should apply evenly whatever standard we use to all. However, it is the standard being used in this instance that I disagree with.
    PZ is right when he says that this has never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity, but it should be.

  17. #17 tideliar
    February 24, 2010

    throan? Seriously? WTF?!

  18. #18 Sheridan
    February 24, 2010

    Being intellectually smart is not the same as being common sense smart. Lately I have been reading about Isaac Newton and his Christian fanaticism. Collins reminds me of a modern day Newton.

  19. #19 Peter B.
    February 24, 2010

    It seems to me there is another point which has yet to be discussed; that Collins’s actions represent a gross violation of the US constitution. The act of using an official government post to promote religion most certainly contravenes the establishment clause In this instance, Collins’ actions are probably more worthy of legal challenge than the teaching of C/ID in science classrooms. Is/are there any brave soul(s) willing to take on this formidable task?

  20. #20 raven
    February 24, 2010

    The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.”

    That will work well. We can rename our wars in the middle east, “crusades”.

    I’m sure the 4.7 billion majority of non-xians in the world will be impressed. Especially if the US state department calls them pagans and tries to convert all the Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and others.

    Religion is always a good way to divide people and promote pointless conflicts from nations down to families.

  21. #21 Everyday Atheist
    February 24, 2010

    Even if he shouldn’t be coerced into silence, someone in a high-profile, politically appointed job should have a little more grace and discretion than to expound on what he knows is a highly charged issue. Public servants serve the entire public, and should keep that in mind whilst in office (except for Congress, of course, where spewing your crazy is a job requirement). I’d apply the same standard to theist and non-theist alike (with the proviso that neither, in a position like NIH head, should be restrained in advocacy of good science, which is part of the job).

  22. #22 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    atheist dogma.

    Zero to fail in one sentence.

  23. #23 Kel, OM
    February 24, 2010

    Unless this affects his ability to do his job, I don’t really see what the problem is.

  24. #24 nigelTheBold
    February 24, 2010

    The argument for the existence of god should be heard, examined and judged on its merits.

    What? You have an argument for god that hasn’t been examined, judged on its merits, and found lacking?

    I’d really like to hear it, if you do.

  25. #25 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    Unless this affects his ability to do his job, I don’t really see what the problem is.

    The problem is he’s using his position to push a religious agenda.

  26. #26 mothra
    February 24, 2010

    I think there is also the ‘wall of separation between Church and State’ issue here.

    In the broad sense, Collins in his public position is promoting religion. In a more narrow sense he is promoting those religions which worship a single creator god over those religions who have multiple creator gods or whose creator deity has ‘gone away’ and who then worship ‘lesser god’ descendants.

    And it is still BAD science.

  27. #27 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    The argument for the existence of god should be heard, examined and judged on its merits.

    Done, done, and done.

  28. #28 Shplane
    February 24, 2010

    Idiots in positions of power. You just have to love that.

  29. #29 Kel, OM
    February 24, 2010

    The problem is he’s using his position to push a religious agenda.

    Is he though? He’s in that position and his pushing a religious agenda, but is he using that position to push it?

  30. #30 Free Lunch
    February 24, 2010

    windsurfer4944 -

    So, since you appear to be defending theism and theism is the affirmative claim that needs to be supported by the evidence (as you rightly note by quoting Richard Feynman) please start. If you manage to provide any evidence for any gods or a coherent, valid argument for any gods, you will be the first.

  31. #31 MadScientist
    February 24, 2010

    Selling books using his title as director of the NIH? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t he get permission first by writing a letter to his boss (is that congress or the prez?) explaining that he wishes approval to sell a book promoting superstition using his influence as the director of a national scientific institute?

  32. #32 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    windsurfer, if you’re not a Poe, I think it’s adorable that your Feynman quote is one of the best rebuttals of your position ever written.

  33. #33 Kel, OM
    February 24, 2010

    The argument for the existence of god should be heard, examined and judged on its merits.

    Of course. Though I’m wondering which person here hasn’t heard them and considered them already?

    But saying things like this:

    It must be a humbling experience for you when people who are a lot smarter than you, and with far more impressive credentials, disagree with your atheist dogma.

    What is atheist dogma? Atheism is nothing but the descriptive word for people who don’t believe in interventionist deities. It entails nothing of dogma at all, think of what it’s like not to believe in astrology. Now if someone who is a scientist comes out in support of astrology, it’s not that people haven’t considered astrology or have a dogma that prevents them from doing it, it’s that they don’t like the platform.

  34. #34 Kel, OM
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    Argumentum ad populum. If 87% of people think that aliens cause crop circles, does it mean that aliens cause crop circles?

    So far you’ve made an argument from authority and and an appeal to the masses. Not very convincing, what are the arguments for God itself? You can start off with a general form of a nebulous deity if you want and work from there to the particular interventionist deity that sprang up some 2000 years ago in the middle east. Show your working.

  35. #35 MadScientist
    February 24, 2010

    @Steve LaBonne #1: This is the sort of thing I expected of Collins. After all, he sees the rape of his own daughter as a test of his own subservience to his god. The man’s got crazy ideas and he wants others to believe his crazy ideas. In the past he’s pushed this sort of rubbish while touting his credentials as a manager of the human genome project (though by the wording, you’d think the human genome project would not have been possible without him). Why would anyone expect his behavior to change simply because he’s given a more public position?

  36. #36 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    The vast majority of people haven’t examined the “argument” nor judged it on it’s merit.

    They just swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

  37. #37 Knockgoats
    February 24, 2010

    windsurfer, if you’re not a Poe, I think it’s adorable that your Feynman quote is one of the best rebuttals of your position ever written. – boygenius

    And of course Feynman, who was far smarter than Collins (whose main achievement has been competent management of a highly technical but conceptually straightforward project), was an avowed atheist.

  38. #38 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    And Brittany Spears used to outsell everyone.

  39. #39 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    Fine. Lets forget about evidence for the sake of this discussion. I’ll settle for a coherent, valid argument.

  40. #40 Knockgoats
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of Godleprechauns.

    It remains a profound dilemma. – windsurfer4944

    In fact, depending on what “god” you are talking about, there is plenty of evidence against a lot of them. The amount of suffering in the world is extremely strong evidence against the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god, for example – just as the amount of enjoyment is extremely strong evidence against the existence of an omnipotent and omnimalevolent one.

    You are right, however, that there is no evidence – empirical or otherwise – for the existence of any one of them. So we can assume they don’t, unless and until such evidence appears; as william of Ockham said: “Do not multiply entities unnecessarily”.

  41. #41 sqlrob
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    The Bible makes very specific claims that have pretty been shot down. That God is dead.

    So what God are you saying exists?

  42. #42 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    Is he though? He’s in that position and his pushing a religious agenda, but is he using that position to push it?

    From the link above:

    Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is one of the world?s leading geneticists. The former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Collins is the bestselling author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief and The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine. He has recently been appointed as the Director of the National Institutes of Health.[emphasis mine]

    Sure looks like it to me, and a lot of other people will see it that way as well.

  43. #43 Everyday Atheist
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    Wrong. The god posited by the three big monotheisms supposedly has certain traits and acts in certain ways in the universe. Such a god should leave empirical “fingerprints” that science can examine. Victor Stenger showed in “God: The Failed Hypothesis” why there is actually very strong, empirical evidence that the god of the Torah, Bible and Quran either does not exist, or doesn’t have the traits or powers his followers ascribe to him.

  44. #44 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    Ignoring the appeal to popularity which has been handled by others, is it your assertion that the vast majority of people all believe in the same god?

  45. #45 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    “Goddidit” is not a simple explanation. In fact, it’s not an explanation at all.

  46. #46 truthspeaker
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    Therefore, it doesn’t exist. Well that was easy.

  47. #47 sqlrob
    February 24, 2010

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    BWAAHHAHAHAHAHHAAHA.

    A being of infinite power and knowledge is simpler than a small set of finite rules?

  48. #48 Merridol
    February 24, 2010

    As I see it, “goddidit” just adds a god to an already complex world. No matter how simple your god(s), he/she/it/they just makes the world more complex, not less. Simpler to just leave gods out of it.

  49. #49 Brownian, OM
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    Yeah? How’s that temple to Vishnu shaping up?

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    Ask God to explain ‘entity’ to you, or Jesus to point you to a dictionary.

  50. #50 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    You really haven’t heard, examined, or judged the merits of your own argument, have you.

  51. #51 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    hahahahaha

  52. #52 Brownian, OM
    February 24, 2010

    It must be a humbling experience for you when people who are a lot smarter than you, and with far more impressive credentials, disagree with

    How do you feel now that I’ve responded to some of your comments? Humbling? I’d present my credentials and demonstrate how vastly smarter than you I am, but since you seem to think “no evidence either for or against” means “evidence for”, I’ll just let you take it on faith that you’re barely qualified to calculate the sales tax on things I purchase to put on my head.

  53. #53 Sastra
    February 24, 2010

    Don’t confuse a simplistic explanation, with a simple one.

    God is anything but simple. It’s a purported disembodied Mind, which creates and moves matter through the force of its thought-processes, knows and can do everything, and did not evolve or grow from simpler components. The reason this seems plausible to the majority of people is that this is folk-theory of mind, and how it works. God is an analogy to ourselves. God is also analogous to how small children think of their parents: constantly concerned with their doings, and always on the watch.

    Like many analogies, it falls apart under examination, especially in light of modern science and its discoveries. Appeals to Original Complexity, disembodied Minds, and magical essences and powers are supported by familiarity, and a “common sense” that can’t handle analysis.

    Yes, many people believe in God — but for bad reasons. This is why they fall back on “faith” — the belief that believing itself, is a good thing.

  54. #54 QuarkyGideon
    February 24, 2010

    PZ you need to write a book some time. :)

  55. #55 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    Which God?

    Same goes for Leprechauns.

    What’s your take on Leprechauns?

  56. #56 B166ER
    February 24, 2010

    I knew at the start of his time as head of the NIH that Collins wasn’t going to be able to NOT use the position to give some perceived legitimacy to his crackpot ideas. I think that everyone has the right to write and disseminate what they want, but to use his position so as to make his arguments seem to have scientific merit is dishonest.

    @windsurfer4944#20,32,38

    Next time you attempt to quote mine people “who are a lot smarter than you, and with far more impressive credentials”, try to find a quote that fully supports your opinion. You say that “the argument for the existence of god should be heard, examined and judged on its merits.” Okay, where is your evidence? And no, Answers in Genesis does NOT have any real answers or real evidence, so there goes that ploy of yours. As to your appeal to massive popularity, you don’t need any evidence to ‘convince’ a person who knows that they will die, most likely in a lot of pain, that THEY WILL NOT DIE. Just because a safety blanket makes you feels safe, does not mean it offers even a modicum of safety. So please, if we can get past just appealing to popularity, could you please offer up some of this scientific evidence, which apparently was not good enough for “people who are a lot smarter than you, and with far more impressive credentials”.
    Oh, and speaking of “Atheist Dogma”, I find that particularly funny, seeing as most of my views are NOT held by a majority of atheists. Atheists come in all political and philosophical flavors, the only thing we have in common is that we have no faith in magic. That’s it. No unicorns, no fairies, and no deities. That’s all it means.
    So next time you enter into the fearsome fray that is Pharyngula, please try to have better arguments. We love sharpening our teeth on you spongy brained folks, but it does take most of the fun out of it when your arguments fall flat on their face the moment you utter them.

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

  57. #57 Brownian, OM
    February 24, 2010

    What’s your take on Leprechauns?

    Betcha he just falls back on the old aleprechaunist dogma, Rev.

  58. #58 Sastra
    February 24, 2010

    “The argument for the existence of god should be heard, examined and judged on its merits.”

    “There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.”

    Oh, dear. A presupp?

  59. #59 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2010

    A government official should not be allowed to discuss in public or publish something about his religious views whilst in office or running for office.
    Doing it should be ground for dismissal or disqualification.
    I know that’s not what the US law says, but that’s what it should say.
    That’s what separation of church and state means. Anything else is chicken shit.

  60. #60 B166ER
    February 24, 2010

    @windsurfer4944#48

    Whoa, you really don’t get Occam’s Razor, do you? A disembodied mind with the complexity to create the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and listen to all the thoughts of the creatures within it, all at the same time, is anything but the simplest answer. So next time you attempt to sound witty, remember, don’t even try because you are not. You can keep coming back as long as you like though, since our last spongy brained sharpener of teeth has mysteriously vanished.

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Do the words “Borg” or “Q” mean anything to you?

    Argumentum ad Star Trek?

  62. #62 Caine
    February 24, 2010

    Windsurfer @ 38:

    There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.

    Which God[s]? Czernobog? I hope not, mean mofo that one. Probably not as psychotic as Yahweh though. Tiamat? Good ol’ chaos. Bast? Best be good to the felines. Ya know, just in case.

    Or are we talking the invisible herd of unicorns which roam my property? Good for keeping the grass clipped.

  63. #63 Zetetic
    February 24, 2010

    Anti_Theist-317 @ #8 said:

    I never understand comments like this. It troubles me more when uttered from the lips of PZ. Anyone else troubled by it?

    Uh…No offense Anti_Theist, but PZ was quoting Jerry Coyne in what you cited there. It wasn’t PZ’s words you were quoting, but Coyne’s.

    As for being troubled…While I certainly expected Collins to try and abuse his position to promote unscientific beliefs (and for theists to make the usual feeble/hypocritical arguments to defend it), I was hoping that he would be better than that too.

    There is a big difference though in hoping someone will do the right thing, and expecting them to do the right thing.

    The former is not contingent upon the latter.

    ————————————————

    In other news it looks like the homeopaths are spaming the most recent homeopathy poll that was recently pharyngulated…

    Do you believe homeopathy is an effective form of treatment?

  64. #64 Caine
    February 24, 2010

    Windsurfer @ 63:

    Do the words “Borg” or “Q” mean anything to you?

    Yeah. They are fictional characters.

  65. #65 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    Do the words “Borg” or “Q” mean anything to you?

    Hmm… trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, check…

  66. #66 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    There is no requirement that god must be benevolent.

    Do the words “Borg” or “Q” mean anything to you?

    Ah, I see. It’s the God of the Eternally Moving Goalposts. In other words, theological whack-a-mole.

    windsurfer4944, the entire discussion of god’s existence is pointless until you can define precisely what it is we’re discussing.

  67. #67 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Laugh all you want cowboy but your arguments so far have been less that stellar. In fact they’ve been dealt with and dispatched.

  68. #68 David Marjanovi?
    February 24, 2010

    And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.

    The vast majority of people have not examined the question. Not a single time. Never.

    And when they do, they most commonly arrive at one of the…

    666 proofs of God’s existence

    (Especially check out proof no. 648.)

    After all, he sees the rape of his own daughter as a test of his own subservience to his god.

    Emphasis added.

    Book-of-Job morality (it’s OK to harm or even kill people just to teach other people a lesson) shocks me every time again.

  69. #69 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2010

    Yawn, another presup idjit. Godbots can’t seem to do any better though. Absolutely no conclusive physical evidence for their imaginary deity.

  70. #70 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    I’m fairly new at this game so I generally leave the heavy lifting to my betters. I was hoping windsurfer would be a good opportunity to work on my game. I am sorely disappointed. This has been as stimulating as playing solitaire.

    I’ve never said this before, but;

    Better trolls, please.

  71. #71 David Marjanovi?
    February 24, 2010

    Borg? Q? What does God want with a starship?

  72. #72 Merridol
    February 24, 2010

    I’m with boygenius on this one. It’s not easy to sharpen teeth on sponginess.

  73. #73 Kel, OM
    February 24, 2010

    what are the arguments for God itself?

    I notice instead of actually presenting a positive case you’ve instead taken to trolling. Can’t make a positive case for God?

  74. #74 B166ER
    February 24, 2010

    I have to agree with you boygenius, which is why I made the reference to windsurfer4944′s spongy brained reality. I have to admit that when I see a troll, I at least like a challenge for my dulling teeth. But I have to give the troll some credit, because how many times have you seen an argument go from atheists and their dogma have no evidence to Occam’s Razor to Star Trek so fast.

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

  75. #75 Kyorosuke
    February 24, 2010

    @79:

    Yes, but it was an enormously shitty metaphor. First of all, the Borg have no god-like attributes at all! In what theology or pantheon is god a race of mutant cyborgs with a hive mind?? Seriously, that’s just ridiculous.

    Secondly, the Abrahamic religions all say, constantly and with reckless abandon, that their God is all-loving, all good, omnibenevolent and amazingly perfect. God is love, God is great, Jesus loves you.

    So if you’re attempting to argue for anything even remotely resembling the common conception of god, you’ve failed miserably.

    And just to preempt you, there’s no evidence for a malevolent or morally neutral god either. Try again!

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Which God windsurfer4944?

  77. #77 heddle
    February 24, 2010

    Of course. Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs. Why that makes perfect sense! And of course, along the lines of PZ’s comment:

    They won’t. It’s never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity. It’s always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.

    we see that this state of affairs is actually part of the unthinkable persecution directed at atheists. (Damn you people whine a lot.)

    Yep, that all makes perfect sense.

  78. #78 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    An idjit godbotting troll is a plague on humanity.

    Arguing with an idjit godbotting troll is like playing solitaire. Both are boring.

    There. I see your metaphor and raise you one simile.

  79. #79 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs.

    Do you not see a difference here?

  80. #80 philosopher.animal
    February 24, 2010

    Oh, no, not again …

  81. #81 sqlrob
    February 24, 2010

    Of course. Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs. Why that makes perfect sense!

    Lessee, a scientist stating things that can be backed up with science, versus one that says things that can’t be backed up with science. Yup, makes perfect sense.

  82. #82 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    METAPHOR

    “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in ?A mighty fortress is our God.?

    Is god a metaphor now?

    Are you going to suggest next that god is love?

    You must first decide what god is before you can argue whether or not it is real. Call me when you can do that. KTHXBYE.

  83. #83 heddle
    February 24, 2010

    RBDC,

    Do you not see a difference here?

    Let’s see:

    1) They are both scientists of international reputation (though Collins is more likely to share a Nobel–but let’s not quibble.)

    2) They both hold high-level positions (though Collins’s is higher–but let’s not quibble) at which we can assume they are both performing superbly.

    3) They both wrote best-sellers championing their views on God and the relationship between faith and science.

    4) Both of their countries have a long history of supporting freedom of speech.

    No— I don’t see any substantive difference.

    sqlrob,

    Lessee, a scientist stating things that can be backed up with science, versus one that says things that can’t be backed up with science. Yup, makes perfect sense.

    Oh (just to pick one of a gazillion) –like his opinions regarding the way I rear my children, and whether or not it constitutes abuse? No, sorry, that can not be backed up by science. You must be thinking of a different Dawkins. Maybe this one.

  84. #84 CJO
    February 24, 2010

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    You are very badly conceptually confused. Your idea of “simplicity” would reduce Occam’s razor to a useless exercise in semantics.

    Concisely, you’re confusing simplicity of description with simplicity.

  85. #85 PeteJohn
    February 24, 2010

    Heddle:

    Richard Dawkins isn’t using an important government position to pontificate and blab crappy science. Pretty big difference. No one’s saying Collins can’t publish whatever book he wants to publish, just that given his important position he shouldn’t. There’s a difference and if you can’t see it you ought to get a better pair of glasses.

    sheridan:

    Newton lived in a period of time where being a non-Christian was both dangerous and intellectually unfulfilling. This was before the Big Bang, Theory of Evolution, any abiogenesis research, the discovery of DNA’s structure, and so on. You were free to be an atheist if you didn’t mind the actual threat of death and pain and not really knowing much about anything.

  86. #86 sqlrob
    February 24, 2010

    No, sorry, that can not be backed up by science.

    You lie to your children and think it’s a good thing to do?

  87. #87 Blake Stacey
    February 24, 2010

    David Marjanovi? (#77):

    Borg? Q? What does God want with a starship?

    Won: one (1) internets.

  88. #88 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    #3 three is what I was getting at.

    2) They both hold high-level positions (though Collins’s is higher–but let’s not quibble) at which we can assume they are both performing superbly.

    Collins = Head of a Government appointed position (NIH)
    Dawkins – High Position at a University

    Am I missing some other position that Dawkins holds right now that would be similar to the Head of the NIH?

    I see a huge difference here between a Government position on science and a University position(though I actually support his right to publish whatever he wants as a private citizen as long as he’s not doing so in a way that makes it seem like a position held by his Government position).

    IMHO I would prefer my Government officials to remain neutral in their views on this publicly while holding their position.

  89. #89 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    I mean #2

    sheesh

    Time for a beer

  90. #90 heddle
    February 24, 2010

    PeteJohn,

    What crappy science is he pontificating? Bad apologetics? Maybe. Bad theology? Maybe. Bad science? Where? You are not buying Jerry Coyne’s lie that Collins claims science proves God, are you?

    If Collins argues that he sees God in science and that science strengthens his faith and that science and religion are compatible that is Collins giving his opinion, not Collins claiming to do science. There’s a difference and if you can’t see it you ought to get a better pair of glasses.

    And if you think the God Delusion is all good science–then read it again. There is an enormous amount of raw opinion contained therein.

    sqlrob,

    You lie to your children and think it’s a good thing to do?

    Let me see Alex… Okay, I’ll take “begging the question” for $800.

  91. #91 WowbaggerOM
    February 24, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    Of course. Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs.

    Which would be fine if they were equivalent. Exactly which position does Dawkins hold that his lack of religious beliefs has been demonstrated to contravene as Collins’s religious beliefs have contravened science?

    If Dawkins took on, say, the role of determining the distribution of government funding for religious groups, then perhaps we’d be on the same level.

  92. #92 PeteJohn
    February 24, 2010

    bq. Oh (just to pick one of a gazillion) –like his opinions regarding the way I rear my children, and whether or not it constitutes abuse? No, sorry, that can not be backed up by science. You must be thinking of a different Dawkins. Maybe this one.

    Well… if it can be demonstrated that your god is a remarkable long shot, then telling children that if they don’t unquestionably follow a massive lie then they’ll burn for eternity in hell is pretty much like child abuse, no?

    I mean, wouldn’t you be perturbed if I told my future children that if they failed to follow the correct set of commandments they would be turned into a goat or a rat or something in their next life? That’s pretty mean, isn’t it? If I encouraged my kid to blow himself so he could make love to dozens of virgins upon his death, that’s pretty jacked up, no? Richard Dawkins believes those things, just as I’m sure you do, he just goes one set of preposterous beliefs further.

  93. #93 llewelly
    February 24, 2010

    Everyday Atheist | February 24, 2010 4:39 PM:

    Wrong. The god posited by the three big monotheisms supposedly has certain traits and acts in certain ways in the universe. Such a god should leave empirical “fingerprints” that science can examine. Victor Stenger showed in “God: The Failed Hypothesis” why there is actually very strong, empirical evidence that the god of the Torah, Bible and Quran either does not exist, or doesn’t have the traits or powers his followers ascribe to him.

    Wrong. The God posited by the three big monotheisms left great books describing Him. Scholarly modern theologians have proved that His Words are best interpreted by the methods explained by the Great Prophet Humpty Dumpty. When properly understood, the Word of God shows that shrill atheists like Stenger are utterly ignorant of the True God, as understood by sophisticated modern theologians.

  94. #94 CJO
    February 24, 2010

    If I encouraged my kid to blow himself so he could make love to dozens of virgins upon his death, that’s pretty jacked up, no?

    His back sure would be.

  95. #95 PeteJohn
    February 24, 2010

    Wrong. The God posited by the three big monotheisms left great books describing Him. Scholarly modern theologians have proved that His Words are best interpreted by the methods explained by the Great Prophet Humpty Dumpty. When properly understood, the Word of God shows that shrill atheists like Stenger are utterly ignorant of the True God, as understood by sophisticated modern theologians.

    Well… as PZ has said before, that Emperor has no clothes. LINKY

  96. #96 boygenius
    February 24, 2010

    If I encouraged my kid to blow himself…

    Heehee! I don’t know any kids that would need to be encouraged to try! I do know that there are very few who can actually achieve. :)

  97. #97 PeteJohn
    February 24, 2010

    heddle:

    Which god? The Abrahamic god of the Jews (who we’ll call capital-G god), Christians, and Muslims cannot possibly exist in the terms the Bible/Torah/Quran lays out. That god is a creator, a destroyer, and an intereferer every step of the way. He knows every single thing about every single person, place, animal, rock, tree, water molecule, etc. in the entire universe and can quite literally speak things in and out of existence, all without being seen unless He wants to be seen. And yet nearly every single discovery in the life and physical sciences in the past centuries has shown that the creation story in the Bible cannot have happened as it says it did.

    So yes, it is rather bad science to say that belief in God and a scientific mindset are fully compatitible. God did not miracle the world into existence or any other sort of magical nonsense as far as anyone can tell, and if he did he certainly did not do it the way the Bible/Torah/Quran claims he did. Any other interpretation of the Bible is that, an interpretation… which as Sam Harris has argued is also rather bad religion based not on religion itself but rather on personal reason and experience. So, belief in the compatibility of God and of science is not just bad science, it’s bad religion too. Arguing that God exists in some way other than what the Bible/Torah/Quran suggests is a blatant moving target… these texts ARE the case for God’s existence, they are the argument, and they fail terribly.

  98. #98 mothra
    February 24, 2010

    @62 Sastra

    Oh,dear,A presupp?

    An agreement one draws up when wedded to an argument?

  99. #99 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 24, 2010

    mothra #105

    LOL

  100. #100 CalGeorge
    February 24, 2010

    That’s all we need: yet another book on why some idiot believes a lot of hooey. Spare us, Francis!

  101. #101 Peter H
    February 24, 2010

    @ windsurfer:

    First you posit: “And the vast majority of people have concluded that God exists.” (No testable evidence offered. Or even plausible statistical claims. And no differentiation as to which god amongst the thousands of gods the human mind has come up with over time.)

    And later: “There is no empirical evidence for or against the existence of God.” (True statement. Applies equally to all of the thousands of gods the human mind has come up with over time.)

    And later you quote Feynman on the matter of doubt but supply no evidences of that doubt. Doubt that god(s) exist? Doubt that god(s) do not exist? Not followed up.

    You first make mutually exclusive statements then you cut your own feet from under yourself.

  102. #102 Ichthyic
    February 24, 2010

    this is one of those “WE TOLD YOU SO” moments. right?

  103. #103 Ichthyic
    February 24, 2010

    Of course. Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs.

    master of false equivalency.

    stick to physics, Heddle.

  104. #104 KOPD42
    February 24, 2010
    METAPHOR
    “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in ?A mighty fortress is our God.?

    Is god a metaphor now?

    Of course! Shoulda seen it coming. God is a metaphor for indescribable transcendence, or some shiznitz like that.

  105. #105 Ichthyic
    February 24, 2010

    …oh and whiny Heddley:

    funny, but I don’t recall seeing Dawkins nominated to head NIH.

    You?

  106. #106 DanielR
    February 24, 2010

    Maybe someone already pointed this out – sorry if that is the case, but,

    If you want to invoke Occam’s razor, then “goddidit” is by far the simplest entitiy.

    Occam’s razor does not mean that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. This is a very common misunderstanding of Occam’s razor.

    Occam’s razor states that the explanation that introduces the fewest new assumptions is probably the correct one.

    Introducing god as an answer to anything is a huge new assumption given the fact that there is no evidence for god in the first place. It thus violates Occam’s razor.

  107. #107 Ichthyic
    February 24, 2010

    What crappy science is he pontificating? Bad apologetics? Maybe. Bad theology? Maybe. Bad science? Where? You are not buying Jerry Coyne’s lie that Collins claims science proves God, are you?

    you’ve never actually read any of his books, have you?

    you know what, fuck you Heddle. YOU damn well know his errors have been covered countless times, so that makes you either living in denial, or being deliberately disingenuous.

    and people wonder why i say your a fatuous fuckhead.

    http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/korthof83.htm

  108. #108 Blake Stacey
    February 24, 2010

    “It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”

    — Richard Feynman

    “God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand.”

    — Richard Feynman

    “The remark which I read somewhere, that science is all right as long as it doesn’t attack religion, was the clue I needed to understand the problem. As long as it doesn’t attack religion it need not be paid attention to and nobody has to learn anything. So it can be cut off from society except for its applications, and thus be isolated. And then we have this terrible struggle to try to explain things to people who have no reason to want to know. But if they want to defend their own point of view, they will have to learn what yours is a little bit. So I suggest, maybe correctly and perhaps wrongly, that we are too polite.”

    — Richard Feynman

    [as quoted here]

  109. #109 erpease
    February 24, 2010

    Personally I’m inclined to think this is ok. The blurb is descriptive; he is after all the head of the NIH. The book was likely in the pipeline before he became head of the NIH.

    Now if he goes on book tours while still in office that would be dicey. If he speaks officially as head of the NIH promoting the book that would be beyond the pale (and that would apply no matter what the subject of the book [with a few exceptions such as official NIH publications]).

  110. #110 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 24, 2010

    heddle,
    anything on my #95?

  111. #111 tsg
    February 24, 2010

    The blurb is descriptive; he is after all the head of the NIH.

    “I am head of the NIH and I believe in god.”

    “My opponent may be an eloquent speaker, but I don’t beat my wife.”

    Being head of the NIH is going to lend credence to, and help him promote, his belief in god whether he intends it to or not. The book is only getting the exposure it is by dint of him being the Director of the NIH. He has to know this.

    The book was likely in the pipeline before he became head of the NIH.

    Then maybe he should have delayed the release of the book until he wasn’t head of the NIH anymore, or not taken the job if he wanted to promote his belief in god.

  112. #112 Anti_Theist-317
    February 25, 2010

    @ Everyone, I misunderstood or misrepresented what PZ was saying in my post(#3 I believe). What I do appreciate is it seems I was corrected rather than attacked.

    I still wonder if there is a way to impeach, fire or otherwise dethrone the sick fuck. This was in my initial post but I did not see a reply. Although I do not understand the politics of this position I know he was “appointed” and “sworn in”. I am assuming taxes taken from my pay check pay this bitch. Surly there is a method to deal with people who abuse their office, act contrary to an oath or simply demonstrate they are unqualified or otherwise uncommitted. I still have that credit card available.
    =====================
    “If Jesus touched your heart. Show us on the doll where else he touched you.”
    -Tony

  113. #113 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    February 25, 2010

    Some people never learn.

  114. #114 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2010

    The book was likely in the pipeline before he became head of the NIH.

    so? Note PZ comment:

    I note that one of the ways the book is being promoted is by touting the credentials of its editor as “the Director of the National Institutes of Health.”

    …and therein lies the problem those of us with sense predicted months ago.

  115. #115 Realist
    February 25, 2010

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but I really don’t see the problem here. I really don’t see how it is all that different to, say, Dawkins releasing a book against religion during his professorship at Oxford, or Dennet during his professorship at Tufts, neither of which I had a problem with.

    If anyone had suggested that Dawkins should’ve delayed the release of his book until after he retired I would’ve disagreed with that also.

    It is almost certain that I’ll disagree with virtually every word in Collins’ new book, but I nevertheless respect his right to publish it, regardless of his position as the director of the NIH.

    I’m reminded of a quote often wrongly attributed to Voltaire – “I disapprove of what you have to say, but I’d defend to the death your right to say it.” I say let Collins publish his book and let it be refuted.

  116. #116 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2010

    It is almost certain that I’ll disagree with virtually every word in Collins’ new book, but I nevertheless respect his right to publish it, regardless of his position as the director of the NIH.

    it’s about the SCIENCE.

    did Dawkins ever misrepresent Science as badly as Collins has, while still representing himself as a proponent of Science?

    NO.

    stop conflating the two, they ARE NOT THE SAME.

  117. #117 Walton
    February 25, 2010

    A government official should not be allowed to discuss in public or publish something about his religious views whilst in office or running for office.
    Doing it should be ground for dismissal or disqualification.
    I know that’s not what the US law says, but that’s what it should say.
    That’s what separation of church and state means. Anything else is chicken shit.

    I totally and unreservedly disagree. The separation of church and state does not and should not require that elected officials and candidates be silent on issues of religion. It does require that they refrain from imposing their views on the citizens through state coercion, and that they refrain from using taxpayer money to express their views. But it would be entirely wrong and illiberal, IMO, to place a gag on all public officials when it comes to issues of religion. Freedom of speech and expression applies to everyone, including those holding public office.

    If I’m voting for someone, I want them to talk about their religious beliefs or lack thereof. If a candidate has crazy religious views that might affect his or her ability to make rational decisions, then I want to know about it before I vote. Depending on the office, I also may want to know a candidate’s stance on a range of specific issues – such as abortion, gay rights or gender equality – which are potentially influenced by his or her religious views; a candidate who is religious can’t reasonably be expected to explain his or her views on those issues without referring to religion. These are all things that it is relevant for the voters to know.

    I can see the problem with Francis Collins, given the professional and non-elected position that he holds, publishing a book like this while in office. But my problem with it is nothing to do with the separation of church and state. I would be equally concerned if he, as Director of the NIH, were speaking out on controversial political issues which were unrelated to religion.

  118. #118 Andyo
    February 25, 2010
    #110

    Posted by:
    Ichthyic Author Profile Page |
    February 24, 2010 9:26 PM

    Of course. Dawkins can write about his atheism, but Collins should keep his big fat mouth shut regarding his beliefs.

    master of false equivalency.

    stick to physics, Heddle.

    Heddle is a physicist?

  119. #119 heddle
    February 25, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    you’ve never actually read any of his books, have you?

    Ooh, the dreaded “you haven’t really read the book” cheap shot-in-the-dark charge. Can the “stick to physics” charge (while giving PZ, Dawkins, etc, divine-right not to stick to bio) be far behind? Why I think not!

    you know what, fuck you Heddle. YOU damn well know his errors have been covered countless times, so that makes you either living in denial, or being deliberately disingenuous.

    Translation:

    We have covered it. We have determined to our satisfaction that he made uncountable scientific errors. Never mind that those so-called scientific errors (e.g., fine-tuning strengthens his faith) are his opinions not his statements of scientific fact. Never mind that he is outspoken against ID-inc’s claim to be science.

    What are his countless scientific errors? Sorry to break the news, but chanting “Science and faith are incompatible” a gazillion times may prevent you from being labeled “fathiest” but it does not constitute a proof, and so Collins’s statements to the opposite effect do not amount to scientific error. Where can you demonstrate, using the laws of science, that he has made erroneous claims of scientific fact?

    and people wonder why i say your a fatuous fuckhead.

    Who wonders that? Who would give a rat’s ass what you think about me? Project much?

    tsg,

    Being head of the NIH is going to lend credence to, and help him promote, his belief in god whether he intends it to or not. The book is only getting the exposure it is by dint of him being the Director of the NIH. He has to know this.

    So? It is not illegal for him to proselytize on his own time while serving as director of the NIH. Nor is it unethical. Goevernment jobs do not come with a requirement: the only religious work you may publish or speak of is the “anti” variety. You are perhaps mistaking the fact that you don’t like it with it being unethical. Nor is there anything wrong with putting the factual statement “director of the NIH” on the book’s jacket.

    If I were Collins, while at NIH I’d publish a continuous stream of devotionals and testimonials and theology books and a Children’s Guide to Faith and Science just to annoy you guys and see if Jerry Coyne’s head would explode.

  120. #120 Aquaria
    February 25, 2010

    Heddle at least exposes his theocratic wet dream to the world.

    What a disgusting waste of oxygen.

  121. #121 Aquaria
    February 25, 2010

    Argh–at lAst, not at least.

  122. #122 llewelly
    February 25, 2010

    Andyo | February 25, 2010 3:10 AM:

    Heddle is a physicist?

    Yes.

  123. #123 rakeshsinghal.myopenid.com
    February 25, 2010

    If a cure is not there for a disease, doctors can’t say that disease is not there.

    that is what is happening. there is lot more that science has to find out as yet. people who are in the science, surgeons etc, see that every thing is not as per their logic and normally they tend to believe in God.

    So far astrology could not be proved .but now we are bringing enough evidence at http://lifescapeastrology.com to prove astrology.
    let scientists and skeptics disprove it now.

    so inspiration should be that when people like collins are believing in God, then what are the reasons if someone says God does not exist.

    In 20th century , we made a trend to criticise any thing like this article. Let me assure you, 21st century will move in opposite direction.

    rakesh singhal

  124. #124 John Morales
    February 25, 2010

    rakesh, your god-of-the-gaps claim is laughed at, and we know that astrology exists, there’s no need to prove that.

    It’s an ignorant delusion, but it exists.
    We get it.

    In 20th century , we made a trend to criticise any thing like this article. Let me assure you, 21st century will move in opposite direction.

    Well, so far, we’re a tenth of the way through it, and your assurance rings rather hollow.

  125. #125 Urmensch
    February 25, 2010

    It is disturbing to see, especially alonside articles about recommendations to make religion a more integral part of your foreign policy.

  126. #126 oldmaol
    February 25, 2010

    This is the old Pledge of Allegiance reasoning again.

    “One nation under ALLAH (or Buddha, etc) with liberty and justice ?.” Doesn’t sound right to me and shouldn’t to you either if you believe in the separation of church and state.

    Does it sound right to you? I cringe every time I hear “under God” in the pledge because I always ask “What god? Whose god”. This man is spouting his specific religious beliefs in the CHRISTIAN GOD, and using his position as a scientist and public administrator to get it published widely. He is a creationist, and this is the usual argument they put forth as science.

    He is not blurring the line, he is attempting to obliterate it, and has certainly demonstrated that he has no idea where the line is. If you look in his tent you will find the camel has been there a long time.

    Time to dump him, as he has demonstrated incompetence, lack of discretion, dereliction of duty, and clear aversion to accomplishing his job requirements.

  127. #127 co
    February 25, 2010

    #130: from that page

    In gay charts, we find several phenomenon. One is that people concerned are against marriage. But in Many cases their Married life in normal sense is afflicted. So Planets like Mars and Chiron would be afflicted by Interamnia. In case of women, Planets like Neptune and Chiron would be afflicted by Interamnia. So Gays and Lesbians are negations of marital bliss. It is a negativity in their lives.

    Gemstones can be valuable in their cases. In case of Gays , Red Coral should improve their married life in normal sense.

    Is Red Coral some pr0n actor? That’s the only way I can see that *any* of that makes sense.

  128. #128 co
    February 25, 2010

    w00t! Blockquote fail in #134. Cleanup requested.

  129. #129 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 25, 2010

    If a cure is not there for a disease, doctors can’t say that disease is not there.

    Thanks for that brilliant observation.

    that is what is happening. there is lot more that science has to find out as yet.

    But everything we have found out points away from any supernatural explanation for anything and to a rational of this world explanation.

    people who are in the science, surgeons etc, see that every thing is not as per their logic and normally they tend to believe in God.

    I’m going to have to ask you to rephrase that, because as I read it, it’s complete nonsense.

    So far astrology could not be proved .but now we are bringing enough evidence at http://lifescapeastrology.com to prove astrology.
    let scientists and skeptics disprove it now.

    Um, no.

    so inspiration should be that when people like collins are believing in God, then what are the reasons if someone says God does not exist.

    huh?

    In 20th century , we made a trend to criticise any thing like this article. Let me assure you, 21st century will move in opposite direction.

    Except, you’re completely wrong about the trend.

  130. #130 B166ER
    February 25, 2010

    @rakeshsinghal.myopenid.com(KOOK)#130

    I looked at your site, and it’s complete garbage. There is just so much scalding stupid there, I don’t think my mind will ever heal from the massive, traumatic burns it received. You explain nothing, and provide no evidence for any of your claims. All I saw was crazy gibberish such as wearing the “wrong” gemstone can hurt you somehow, which is never explained. My personal favorite though, is the page entitled “Research Methodology”. I put that in quotes because from the few paragraphs written on it, you show that your “research methodology” is that of a 3 year old “proving” their safety blanket keeps them safe because, gosh darn it, it just feels that way! The best part though is that is the page which is linked from your home page as, I shit you not, “challenge to scientists”. Really, you think THAT challenges scientists? That doesn’t even challenge the mental processes of a rutabaga! So realize this, next time you think that you have some great “evidence” to stump all us mean ol’ scientists and skeptics, just remember that it only sounds good to you because you are an idiot.

    Teeth not even closed to sharpened…
    NEXT!

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

  131. #131 stuv.myopenid.com
    February 25, 2010

    Ah, just like old times… Heddle swooping in with a tart tu quoque with false equivalency sauce.

  132. #132 Conversational Atheist
    February 25, 2010

    PZ: “It’s never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity. It’s always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.”

    I completely agree, Christianity is merely the most popular Organized Superstition in the US. Sigh.

  133. #133 Realist
    February 26, 2010

    @ #123:
    I don’t know that Collins is actually representing science all that badly. As I understand it he is an extremely talented and brilliant scientist who happens to be a Christian. I’m as in the dark as you about how a scientist can square his science with his religious faith, but apparently it can be done, and is done on a wide enough scale by good scientists.

    Regarding Dawkins; I agree with 95% of what Dawkins says regarding religion and science and think he’s a fantastic author, but many people in fact DID say that he was misrepresenting science by saying that it is incompatible with religious faith. What’s important is that they couldn’t stop him from publishing a book about it so readers could decide for themselves. And Collins should be allowed to publish a book about his views on religion also, regardless of his current position, be it an Oxford professorship or the director of the NIH.

    @ #130
    I had a brief browse of that astrology site. Thanks, I needed a laugh today. “Did you know! 8 out of 9 people are wearing the wrong the wrong gemstones!” I don’t know how anyone can take rubbish like astrology seriously.

  134. #134 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 26, 2010

    heddle, #95?

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    I don’t know that Collins is actually representing science all that badly.

    then you know nothing.

    like Heddle, you haven’t read his “Moral Law” argument, that entirely ignores at least 2 entire fields of established scientific endeavor.

    ignorance is no position to argue from.

  136. #136 The effin' bear
    March 4, 2010

    I heard Collins on NPR today. Initially there to discuss the human genome project, he later went into how he found faith at the age of 27. Now that’s quite the natural segue, eh? Going from the legal ramifications of gene sequencing and genetic discrimination on into his personal fear of death, which could only be alleviated by a Judeo-Christian deity. But he didn’t just stop at a description of his own beliefs: as well, he took a few jabs at atheism. He not only believes in, e.g., a couple resurrections that allegedly took place in the desert a couple millenia back—he thinks that this is more likely than the non-existence of a Judeo-Christian god.

    I thought, has P.Z. ever talked about this guy? I was pleased to find out that, yes, you’re aware of him; and moreover, you’ve stated how he irritates you more than a few times. Hah! Anyway, that’s why I am late in commenting here, but nice series of posts on this jack*ss.