Pharyngula

Karl Giberson, who I’ve bashed once or twice, has a fresh new pile of nonsense on the Huffington Post. Jerry Coyne has already tackled it, but it pushes a few of my buttons, so I’ve got to say my piece, too.

To summarize the Giberson nonsense briefly, he claims that Intelligent Design creationism is not dead, but is thriving, and in order to defeat it, we need to shut the atheists up who are making people choose between gods and science. I disagree with every bit of it.

ID is not only dead, it was stillborn. No one believes in it; it is a sterile abstraction with no evidence that was cobbled up entirely to pass the church/state separation tests in the courts. Phil Johnson, the fellow who invented it, has plainly stated that he is a born-again Christian lawyer, and his goal with the development of ID was to create a legal construct that could not be excluded from the schools, because it left out any mention of gods. Yet all the major players on the ID side are devout: Dembski is a crazy evangelical, Behe is a Catholic, and if you go through the roster at the Discovery Institute, you’ll find similar religious/ideological leanings throughout (except, maybe, Berlinski — but he’s his own unique brand of supercilious lunacy).

The Dover trial laid it bare. ID was simply the façade a troop of fervent Christian creationists used to conceal their true motivations. ID isn’t the problem. The problem is wide-spread sectarian Christian beliefs that want to masquerade as science — they finally realized after three quarters of a century of courtroom failure that going about with bare-faced Jesus freakiness was going to get them nowhere, so they’ve pulled down ID as a handy mask. It doesn’t work. Everyone can see right through it, and the cdesign proponentsists rely on a lot of wink-wink you-know-I-love-god-even-in-my-labcoat games to get support.

ID is dead, except as a political tool, which is all it ever was anyway. The only people who use it are plain old creationists; strip away ID, and they’ll just grope for a new guise.

Giberson drags out 4 bad arguments for why Intelligent Design is still vital.

1) The complex designs of many natural structures that have not yet been explained by science. As long as there are ingenious devices and intricate phenomena in nature (origin of life, anyone?) that we cannot understand, there will be ID arguments.

2) The remarkable, finely-tuned structure of the cosmos in which the laws of physics collaborate to make life possible. Many agnostics have had their faith in unguided materialism shaken by this, most recently Anthony Flew.

3) The widespread belief that God — an intelligent agent — created the universe. The claim that an intelligent God created an unintelligent universe seems peculiar, to say the least.

4) The enthusiastic insistence by the New Atheists that evolution is incompatible with belief in God. Most people think more highly of their religion than their science. Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning — and then voluntarily pay for the privilege.

Hang on, wait a minute. I’ve heard all of that from the Intelligent Design creationists, but I’ve also heard it somewhere else…where could that be…hmmm. Hey, I know! Those are the same arguments that the theistic evolutionists use on the Biologos website!

As long as we don’t understand every detail of how life originated, the theistic evolutionists will be claiming a role for gods in it. As long as they’re preaching about souls, they’re rooting beliefs in ignorance about how minds work.

The theistic evolutionists make a big deal of fine-tuning arguments. I fail every time to be surprised that life like ours exists in a universe where the physical constants allow the formation of stars. Oh, and please, Antony Flew’s late-life fame seems to derive entirely from the fact that he tepidly embraced ID when he was fading into senility and was being coached by a sympathetic advocate for creationism.

Theistic evolutionists believe a god or gods created the universe!

Theistic evolutionists get really peevish at all those atheists pointing out that their belief in magical beings is very, very silly. They now use that as a recruiting tool, trying to convince people that they can have their science and still believe in ghosts and spirits and demons and angels. You know, Ken Ham tries the same thing, coupling dinosaurs to biblical literalism. It’s awfully hard to distinguish the principles and tactics of Biologos from those of the Creation “Museum”.

Weird, isn’t it? It’s as if Giberson doesn’t realize that demolishing the foundations of Intelligent Design creationism would also undermine theistic evolution…and that maybe the atheists he is complaining about are aware of this, realizing that creationism, intelligent design, and theism all share precisely the same faulty construction — we can’t get rid of one without shattering all the others.

I do agree with Giberson on one thing. Most Americans do think more highly of their religion than science. But there’s a significant difference: I think that having a citizenry that worships irrational, fact-free thinking and zombie gods and believes in a coming apocalypse — which they consider an event to be greatly desired — is a bad thing. Giberson regards it as a virtue. That difference dictates that we’ll have different strategies: I want to break people’s habits of gullibility and supernatural delusions; Giberson wants to prop them up. If you really want to defeat ID, the way to do it is to defeat religious thinking.

Giberson wants to claim that a godless scientific approach is a failure, and as an example, he uses the persistence of astrology.

Consider astrology. A 2009 Pew Poll showed that some 25 percent of Americans “believe” in astrology. President Reagan “believed” in astrology. Twenty million astrology books are sold each year. What is going on here? Didn’t science thoroughly discredit astrology at roughly the same time it was establishing the motion of the earth? How can an idea so thoroughly refuted be so popular?

If the scientific community cannot successfully convince Americans to abandon belief in astrology — which is not tied to any powerful religious tradition or even to belief in God — what hope is there to refute an idea like Intelligent Design, which is so much more complex than astrology?

What an odd argument. The Bible condemns astrology; Jehovah wants his chosen people to have no truck with divination, sorcery, omens, witchcrafte, necromancy, or any attempt to contact the dead. Yet still 25% of Americans, many of whom must be Christians, still persist in it! What hope is there of refuting bogus ideas like astrology or ID with an Abrahamic religion, which has a 3,000 year record of failure?

I’ve looked into both ID and astrology, and again, Giberson is completely wrong. Astrology is much more complicated. It has accreted many centuries of rationalizations and anecdotes and weird thefts of bits and pieces of mathematics and astronomy. There’s virtually nothing to ID but hot air in comparison.

Of course, I don’t accept one bit of astrology. However, it does have widespread appeal because it can provide a long history of tradition and dogma, scholarly works that go back to the Middle Ages, an endearing habit of claiming that the entire universe is all about you, and thousands of sects and variants that one can fall back on if a prediction in one schema fails. It has all the properties of religion!

I would argue that one reason that astrology (and religion) haven’t gone away is that people like the answers they provide, even if they’re wrong, and that celebration of wishful thinking is an epidemic in the populace. And one reason it persists is that we have a significant number of our citizens dutifully trotting into churches every Sunday, where they are told by solemn authorities that the universe loves them personally, and look, here’s an old book reassuring us that it is so. Religion is a cultural parasite that weakens our intellectual immune system, and opens the door to lots of other opportunistic infections. Jesus cults and astrology and scientology and snake oil and the Secret and quantum woo are the Kaposi’s sarcoma of a deeper disease—faith.

We’re just now beginning the process of rooting out the causal agents of that disease, and what we need to do is promote more intellectual hygiene, like skepticism, which is the rational equivalent of washing your hands. The wishy-washy, ridiculous theism that Giberson promotes echoes the medieval scholars who tried to argue that bathing was a nasty habit.

Giberson doesn’t want that. We’re supposed to endorse one version of humbuggery, religion, while deploring another, ID, all in the name of keeping everyone comfortable in their prejudices, no matter how erroneous.

If the scientific community wants to dislodge ID, they need to start by admitting that their efforts have been an abysmal failure so far. And then they need to turn their considerable analytical skills on the problem of explaining that failure. If they do this, they might discover that enthusiastic pronouncements like “ID is dead” or “science has proven God does not exist” or “religion is stupid” or “creationists are insane” are not effective. They might discover that affirming that the universe is wonderful, despite our bad backs and the nonsense in our genomes, makes it easier for people to accept the bad design in nature.

And above all, they need to decide that it is OK for people to believe in God. For millions of Americans belief in ID is tied to belief in God. Unless people can find a way to separate them — and not be told by agnostic bloggers this is impossible — ID’s coffin will remain empty.

Yes, we godless scientists are often affirming the wonderful qualities of the universe. But, and this is an important distinction, we do so by discussing what is real, not the awesomeness of some imaginary phantasm that the theists want us to worship. We are not going to succeed at getting people to embrace reality if some dufus in a clerical collar keeps trying to insert some ridiculous proxy he calls a god into our understanding, and further, insists that we can really only appreciate physics and chemistry and biology if we deeply adore a particular dead prophet.

ID and a belief in gods are all tangled together, and they are inseparable. Killing one requires killing the other, and it seems to me that only the atheists are recommending the practical approach of tossing out the whole religious package with its attendant absurdities, and rebuilding an ethical, rational vision of the world that does not require any supernatural bullshit at all.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    May 19, 2010

    Credit where it’s due. One of Giberson’s recent posts certainly pissed off the UD morons, pointing out that you actually need to know something to evaluate paleontological evidence and the other evidences for evolution.

    Now to my other two points — 1. Giberson seems to be worried that TE might be pulled down with IDiocy, especially since his version of it accepts cosmological ID, quite contrary to any sound interpretation of issues like “fine tuning.”

    2. HuffPo is once again the purveyor of woo-type thinking. Not much news there, but they never let up.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  2. #2 Colin
    May 19, 2010

    Brilliant post, PZ. That’s probably your strongest, most lucid explanation of why accomodationism is faulty.

  3. #3 broboxley OT
    May 19, 2010

    On Astrology
    One can use parts of it to gather generic wide predispositions of human behavior in some cases but as a method to measure out the future of any given individual, no. I used to amuse myself years ago at parties by watching for certain physical characteristics of people I haven’t previously met then state (accurately)what sign they were born under. Great chick magnet

    Also noticed when I worked as a bouncer that full moon weekends were an absolute zoo to work under but a scientific method it aint.
    thanx,
    bill

  4. #4 Steve LaBonne
    May 19, 2010

    Giberson seems to be worried that TE might be pulled down with IDiocy, especially since his version of it accepts cosmological ID, quite contrary to any sound interpretation of issues like “fine tuning.”

    And he SHOULD be worried. When the chips are down, he and his cohorts are on the side of the enemies of scientific rationality. They can take as much umbrage as they like at being treated accordingly by such as PZ and Coyne, but they richly deserve that treatment.

  5. #5 Colin
    May 19, 2010

    O/T but I’m eagerly awaiting your analysis of Pakistan’s blocking of Facebook (the whole site) for hosting a Draw Mohammed Day page…

  6. #6 Colin
    May 19, 2010

    broboxley – ever heard of confirmation bias?

  7. #7 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 19, 2010

    On Astrology
    One can use parts of it to gather generic wide predispositions of human behavior in some cases but as a method to measure out the future of any given individual, no. I used to amuse myself years ago at parties by watching for certain physical characteristics of people I haven’t previously met then state (accurately)what sign they were born under.

    Nonsense. By what plausible method could this possibly work? I suspect confirmation bias.

    Also noticed when I worked as a bouncer that full moon weekends were an absolute zoo to work under but a scientific method it aint.

    Nonsense again, and even more embarrassing, since the hoary old myth of the full moon affecting behavior has been debunked time and again. It’s remarkably resilient as a meme though, obviously.

  8. #8 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    @#3

    Two others beat me to it, but yeah, confirmation bias, both times.

  9. #9 Jerry Coyne
    May 19, 2010

    I’ve always been puzzled at the fervor with which religious people like Giberson attack ID. ID puts God into the gaps of “irreducibly complex” molecular pathways, while Giberson puts God into quantum mechanics. It’s a difference in degree but not in kind. And it’s all theism!

  10. #10 broboxley OT
    May 19, 2010

    @Colin #5 strange as there is a lot of images of Muhammed in Pakistan, some going back centuries

  11. #11 Gus Snarp
    May 19, 2010

    I disagree that most Americans value religion more than science. Getting dressed up for it once a week means nothing. Virtually everyone agrees the world is round and that it revolves around the sun. They may believe in a devil, but likely don’t really think he lives under the ground. They may say believe in gods, devils, angels and miracles, but when someone tells them one of these gods, devils, or angels is speaking to them, most people think they are crazy or speaking metaphorically. When someone suggests that a real miracle has occurred, something truly unexplainable like someone getting up out of a grave and walking away, most people think they are crazy. There are beliefs, and then there are beliefs, and Americans as a whole are practical people. They go with what works. Most Americans go to real medical doctors to treat them when they are really sick, not to faith healers. Most Americans spend more time with the internet and television, creations of science, than in churches or with the Bible. No, people like to say they value religion, but if they really thought it was worth more than science we’d live in an Amish nation.

  12. #12 Brain Hertz
    May 19, 2010

    4) The enthusiastic insistence by the New Atheists that evolution is incompatible with belief in God.

    Really? I was sort of under the impression that the biggest proponents of this argument were the likes of Ken Ham. Isn’t that his whole angle?

  13. #13 raven
    May 19, 2010

    ID is not only dead, it was stillborn. No one believes in it; it is a sterile abstraction with no evidence that was cobbled up entirely to pass the church/state separation tests in the courts.

    ID is dying if not already dead. It never really caught on except as a dog whistle code word for creationism. A way for creationists to sound slightly normal rather than like stupid, religious kooks. It looks like most IDers including the xian Dominionist Disgraceful Institute are heading back to the YEC swamp that spawned them.

    It was never more than creationism with a sheet over it to obscure that fact.

    There never was a theory of ID. Who is the Designer(s). How many of them are there? How old is the universe? How come the dinosaurs on the Big Boat went extinct 4500 years ago after Yahweh-The Designer came up with a brilliant rescue plant that involved a Big Boat and was a near total failure? Where is the data? The IDers mostly refuse to answer the basic questions and when they rarely do, they contradict each other.

    This isn’t science, it is a don’t ask, don’t tell con job.

    At least creationism is a theory with specific and falsifiable predictions. It is wrong and they were falsified a century or two ago. Given the state of Theistic Pretend Science, even that is a step up from ID.

  14. #14 Shala
    May 19, 2010

    Nonsense again, and even more embarrassing, since the hoary old myth of the full moon affecting behavior has been debunked time and again. It’s remarkably resilient as a meme though, obviously.

    But I thought the full moon made me turn into a furry!

    Astrology and its ilk are just plain woo, but I can at least appreciate using them as a form of art fictionally. For example, tarot cards are fairly interesting to me even if I don’t believe the readings at all and would never pay to have one done.

  15. #15 Swampfoot
    May 19, 2010

    Since PZ pointed out that all proponents of ID are theistic, does anyone expect an insurgency of ID proponents who *claim* to be atheists? Just to throw off the theistic criticism?

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    May 19, 2010

    “Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning”

    You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. . . .

  17. #17 sqlrob
    May 19, 2010

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there used to be a kernel of truth in astrology. Nowadays, notsomuch.

    Not influence of the stars, but just used as a timekeeping mechanism. I can see diet and weather influencing fetal development. I doubt the differences were accurately cataloged though, with there being a lot of confirmation bias.

  18. #18 broboxley OT
    May 19, 2010

    confirmation bias on identifying certain peoples sign by physical characteristics? Nope. In a room of 24-35 people usually one or two can be identified accurately. The trick is to announce those two then change the subject quickly. Its a parlor or carney trick. As for the second observation I only did that job for about a year. If there is a rowdy bar near you ask their bouncers about it. I would be curious as to the answer

  19. #19 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Since PZ pointed out that all proponents of ID are theistic, does anyone expect an insurgency of ID proponents who *claim* to be atheists? Just to throw off the theistic criticism?

    This isn’t really a worry. Theists can’t portray atheists very well according to Brownian’s Corollary to Poe’s Law; they’re way too self-centred to bother to understand someone else’s differing point of view well enough to accurately fake it.

    Even if one were to infiltrate, they’d be easy to root out:

    “An atheist, eh? If you’re truly one of us, then you won’t have any trouble eating this baby!

    A True Atheist™ will immediately ask for bacon-lesbian sauce.

  20. #20 Ben Goren
    May 19, 2010

    Jerry Coyne wrote:

    I’ve always been puzzled at the fervor with which religious people like Giberson attack ID. ID puts God into the gaps of “irreducibly complex” molecular pathways, while Giberson puts God into quantum mechanics. It’s a difference in degree but not in kind. And it’s all theism!

    I think that what it boils down to is that all theism has always been “gods of the gaps,” and it must always remain so.

    It used to be that the gaps were bigger than the structure; thus, thunder gods and forest nymphs and what-not. But, today, the only significant remaining gaps are abiogenesis; the nature of the Big Bang; the nature of consciousness; and the rational foundations of morality. Sure, there’s an infinite variety of little gaps, but there’re also lots of little gaps in a newspaper photograph if you hold a magnifying glass up to it. The picture is still clear.

    Even better (or worse, from the perspective of the IDiots), those gaps have themselves been reasonably well flushed out, to the point that the broad outlines of the answers are quite clear — and there aren’t any gods hiding there, either.

    What it means that one IDiot points to biology as the gap where her gods lie; and another points to quantum mechanics where he’s squeezed his gods; or some holy book defines its gods as being the causative agents of Life, the Universe, and Everything; is that that’s simply the scientific field s/h/it has the least understanding about (and, simultaneously, paradoxically, finds the most interesting).

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  21. #21 daveau
    May 19, 2010

    Consider astrology.

    No. I won’t.

    I don’t get his argument about the persistence of astrology. Does he acknowledge that astrology has been thoroughly discredited scientifically? Or is he arguing that astrology is true because it is popular? Just like ID/creationism? ‘Cause there are a lot of similarities between the two, but that they are both true isn’t one of them.

  22. #22 Scott
    May 19, 2010

    I couldn’t believe the astrology argument. He almost tacitly admitted that religion is bullshit.

  23. #23 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 19, 2010

    In a room of 24-35 people usually one or two can be identified accurately. The trick is to announce those two then change the subject quickly. Its a parlor or carney trick.

    Ah, well that’s a different story then.

    As for the second observation I only did that job for about a year. If there is a rowdy bar near you ask their bouncers about it. I would be curious as to the answer

    You shouldn’t be, because their answers would be irrelevant, and a classic case of confirmation bias. Seriously, stop for a moment, and think it through. Does it really seem plausible to you that the phases of the moon affect rowdiness, crime, car accidents, and all those other things that have been claimed?

    This isn’t even up for debate. It’s been debunked, and you can read rational accounts of the alleged phenomenon in many spots online. Honestly, this is just silly.

  24. #24 chaseacross
    May 19, 2010

    I like reading the astrological predictions. Usually they involve some virtue that I can arbitrarily focus on cultivating for that given day/week.

    But astrology never tells me to stone people to death if they live differently.

  25. #25 Colin
    May 19, 2010

    @20 : I’d agree. Through science, we know where the borders are, we’re just filling in the map. To slightly strain the metaphor, we could add that the creationists are still trying to work out which is the right way to hold the pencil, and are having arguments about whether a pencil should, indeed, be held at all.

  26. #26 ckitching
    May 19, 2010

    The fine tuning argument has always bothered me. Sure, if you look at all the constants and conversion factors scientists use, it may look like there are an awful lot of different “knobs” for the universe, but how many of those constants are derived from other constants or are conversions away from our many arbitrary units of measure (for example, a gram is a unit created not because it has any cosmic significance, but because it is convenient for humans on this planet)? Our knowledge in this area isn’t anywhere near complete. We may find that there are very few, or perhaps even no “knobs” to fine tune the universe.

  27. #27 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 19, 2010

    A True Atheist? will immediately ask for bacon-lesbian sauce.

    Please sir, can haz moar?

  28. #28 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    As for the second observation I only did that job for about a year. If there is a rowdy bar near you ask their bouncers about it. I would be curious as to the answer

    What makes you think their observations aren’t subject to confirmation bias as well? Unless they’ve documented:

    1. the number of times it’s been rowdy when there was a full moon
    2. the number of times it’s been rowdy when there wasn’t a full moon
    3. the number of times it wasn’t rowdy when there was a full moon
    4. the number of times it wasn’t rowdy when there wasn’t a full moon

    they don’t know. Nurse’s say the same thing about the Emergency Room and the Maternity Ward. They’re just as wrong.

  29. #29 broboxley OT
    May 19, 2010

    @Josh Official Spokes Gay #22
    could you give me a hint or two? google gives me stuff like the following

    At the University of Miami, psychologist Arnold Lieber and his colleagues decided to test the old belief of full-moon ?lunacy? which most scientists had written off as an old wives? tale. The researchers collected data on homicide in Dade County (Miami) over a period of 15 years ? 1,887 murders, to be exact. When they matched the incidence of homicide with the phases of the moon, they found, much to their surprise, that the two rose and fell together, almost infallibly, for the entire 15 years! As the full or the new moon approached, the murder rate rose sharply; it distinctly declined during the first and last quarters of the moon.
    To find out whether this was just a statistical fluke, the researchers repeated the experiment using murder data from Cuyahoga County in Ohio (Cleveland). Again, the statistics showed that more murders do indeed occur at the full and new moons.
    Dr. Lieber and his colleagues shouldn?t have been so surprised. An earlier report by the American Institute of Medical Climatology to the Philadelphia Police Department entitled ?The Effect of the Full Moon on Human Behavior? found similar results. That report showed that the full moon marks a monthly peak in various kinds of psychotically oriented crimes such as murder, arson, dangerous driving, and kleptomania. People do seem to get a little bit crazier about that time of the month.

  30. #30 Colin
    May 19, 2010

    ckitchign @26

    Which would suggest the fine-turning argument is actually just numerology.

  31. #31 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    [O]nly the atheists are recommending the practical approach of tossing out the whole religious package with its attendant absurdities, and rebuilding an ethical, rational vision of the world that does not require any supernatural bullshit at all.

    Atheist utopian bullshit is still utopian bullshit.

  32. #32 Shala
    May 19, 2010

    The researchers collected data on homicide in Dade County (Miami) over a period of 15 years ? 1,887 murders, to be exact. When they matched the incidence of homicide with the phases of the moon, they found, much to their surprise, that the two rose and fell together, almost infallibly, for the entire 15 years! As the full or the new moon approached, the murder rate rose sharply; it distinctly declined during the first and last quarters of the moon.

    It’s just Dexter getting a ride from the Dark Passenger. Nothing to worry about broboxley.

  33. #33 Newfie
    May 19, 2010

    if you’re gonna murder somebody outside, in the dark, a full moon could be useful to help you see.

  34. #34 Walton
    May 19, 2010

    I don’t get his argument about the persistence of astrology. Does he acknowledge that astrology has been thoroughly discredited scientifically? Or is he arguing that astrology is true because it is popular? Just like ID/creationism? ‘Cause there are a lot of similarities between the two, but that they are both true isn’t one of them.

    I think you’re misreading Giberson here. He is certainly not arguing that either ID or astrology is true. Rather, he’s using astrology as an example to point out how culturally-entrenched supernatural ideas, even those which have been totally discredited by modern science, are very hard to dislodge from popular acceptance. If 25 percent of Americans believe in astrology, so the argument runs, despite the massive amount of scientific evidence against it, what hope is there for using science to convince the public that ID is bullshit?

    I hasten to add that I don’t agree with him. Indeed, I think it’s a very weak argument. But he’s not saying quite what you think he’s saying.

  35. #35 Ben Goren
    May 19, 2010

    ckitching, the Anthropic Principle is all that’s necessary to explain any sort of fine-tuning.

    Because we exist, we know without doubt that the universe must be capable of supporting life. If the universe didn’t support life, there wouldn’t be any life around to observe that fact. Whatever life there is must fit the conditions it finds itself in for the exact same reasons that a puddle must be a perfect fit for the pothole it finds itself in.

    It matters not what the chances are that the dice would roll the way they did, any more than it matters not to the winner of the lottery what the chances were that those numbers would be picked. It exists; therefore it is. Nothing further of meaning can be gleaned from the facts.

    It goes even further. If a god of some sort or other is responsible for creating what we think of as the universe, then that god exists as some part of a larger universe (even if that larger universe is only our universe plus that god). But therefore that larger universe must be finely tuned to support the god’s existence, no? It must have exactly the right Divine Constant, the precise Speed of Prayer, and so on, to support such a heavenly entity. And which super-god was responsible for creating a divine universe so carefully fine-tuned as to support a universe-creating god?

    For all their fancy words about the infinite, the religious seem utterly incapable of getting past even grade-school-level misunderstandings of it. There isn’t even a single omni-property that can stand up to a trivial Cantorian-style diagonalization proof; see the last line of my .sig for an example.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  36. #36 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    Atheist utopian bullshit is still utopian bullshit.

    Strawman is still a strawman.

  37. #37 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 19, 2010

    @broboxley,

    Please remember to give a link when you paste in paragraphs that make claims like that.

    For a skeptical read, try the entry at the Skeptic’s Dictionary. It’s annotated and has links to several papers and analyses:

    http://www.skepdic.com/fullmoon.html

  38. #38 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Bobocrap, do you have anything to say about ID? Say, don’t you have your own little thread to use as your personal cat litter box?

  39. #39 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    @29

    I question this. Why just murders? Did they choose that particular behavior because the data fit the claim? I also note they are counting the new moon as well as the full moon, and also when both were “approaching”, not necessarily in that phase. It sounds suspiciously like making the data fit the claim, rather than the other way around.

  40. #40 sasqwatch
    May 19, 2010

    ckitching sez:

    The fine tuning argument has always bothered me… We may find that there are very few, or perhaps even no “knobs” to fine tune the universe.

    Victor Stenger’s “The Comprehensible Cosmos” has both a comprehensive and a comprehensible discussion of this. Almost everything can be reduced to considerations of symmetry breaking and invariance of physical laws with respect to location, rotation, and with respect to time. Most of the “knobs” are, as you suspect — they are a consequence of the units one chooses.

    Really cool read.

  41. #41 echotopia
    May 19, 2010

    Irreducible complexity is such a joke. Complex does not require another modifier. Complex is complex. There have been many problems and observed phenomena that at one point or another were so complex that people would be tempted to label them irreducibly complex. Fermat’s last theorem was long thought to be unprovable. Irreducible in front of complex is a metaphor used by lazy-minded defeatists…

    In the absence of proof, mysticism is not the answer; better research is…

  42. #42 nigelTheBold
    May 19, 2010

    I believe most theists have little faith in their own beliefs. My fundamentalist ex-wife and I got into an argument (essentially our last one while married) about science. I was studying physics at the time. Things had been going well, so she felt comfortable enough to announce one day (during a discussion of evolution), “There’s a conspiracy among scientists to disprove god. That’s why they made up the idea of evolution.”

    A conspiracy. Hmm.

    We talked some more about the issue. She suggested I read some of her books on the subject (I had already read a few, and they invariably included the whole “evolution breaks the laws of thermodynamics” bullshit). We agreed we would each read three books suggested by the other. I suggested “The Blind Watchmaker,” and a couple of others I don’t recall.

    At the last minute, she decided she would not read the books I suggested. She gave no reason, other than she was “uncomfortable” reading them.

    As we talked, with me growing more frustrated and her growing more defensive, I realized she thought reading those books would open her up to Satan’s influence. She had such little faith in her own beliefs, she thought the smallest amount of education on a subject she professed to understand would dissuade her from her beliefs.

    I believe this is true of a lot of people who support either ID, or theistic evolution. I suspect many of them are unwilling to read anything by the “opposition.”

    A few years later, she mailed me a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” with a note that said (effectively), “See? I was right.” I read it, and saw at the very beginning the flaw in Behe’s argument: he was conflating a lack of knowledge with the knowledge of a lack. His gaps consisted of, “We don’t know how this structure evolved, so it was god.”

    Strangely, that was a theme running through most of the books she had me read: our lack of knowledge in a subject proves that god must be responsible. This conflation of knowledge with reality seems to be a common theme among theists.

    (Note: I am assuming an objective reality. Then again, I think any other assumption leads to an incoherent epistemology, so it’s the only rational assumption.)

  43. #43 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    36: Strawman is still a strawman.

    So there’s evidence that atheist efforts at providing an “ethical, rational vision of the world” have been more effective that those of theists?

    38: Bobocrap, do you have anything to say about ID?

    It’s nonsense.

  44. #44 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    Irreducible complexity is such a joke.

    Irreducible complexity is an argument from ignorance: we don’t know how it could have evolved, therefore god. The funniest part is that, in a lot of cases, we do know how it evolved.

  45. #45 thrawn369
    May 19, 2010

    @17
    I read a classics textbook which said that the popularity of Astrology in the Hellenic era was part of Greek society becoming more rationalistic, since Astrology claimed that the world isn’t controlled by gods or spirits but rather by predictable natural forces. In that they were right, even though they were wrong about what the forces were.

  46. #46 JonD
    May 19, 2010

    I’d wake up early every Sunday morning and dress up for a science lecture.

    Until they’re offered, I’ll just have to settle for my current plan – rolling out of bed at 8 every weekday, pulling on jeans and an old sweatshirt, and sitting through science lectures from 9 to 5.

  47. #47 William R. Dickson
    May 19, 2010

    Perhaps we can find a way to harness the increasingly frenetic energy expended by people like Giberson in their desperate attempts to cram their deities into smaller and smaller gaps. It’s got to be cleaner than coal.

  48. #48 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 19, 2010

    It’s nonsense.

    Yet you feel the need to say irrelevant shit about atheists utopias, which is not the topic.

  49. #49 nigelTheBold
    May 19, 2010

    At the University of Miami, psychologist Arnold Lieber and his colleagues decided to test the old belief of full-moon ?lunacy? which most scientists had written off as an old wives? tale.

    Huh. Wikipedia says:

    Psychiatrist Arnold Lieber of the University of Miami reported a correlation of homicides in Dade County to moon phase, but later analysis of the data ? including that by astronomer George Abell ? did not support Lieber’s conclusions. Kelly, Rotton, and Culver point out that Lieber and Carolyn Sherin used inappropriate and misleading statistical procedures. When more appropriate tests were done, no correlation between homicides and the phase of the moon was found.

    So it seems a lot of what you are getting from Google is… incorrect.

  50. #50 Vicki
    May 19, 2010

    tsg:

    Yes, that bit about “approaching” suggests cherry-picking the data, as well as vagueness. Never mind looking at murders but not other violent crimes [1], did they look at other cities and find that Miami was the only one that fit? Or start at Miami, get a fit, and stop there lest data for Atlanta or New York not support their hypothesis?

    In the past, it might have made sense for their to be more bar fights and such at full moon, simply because the moonlight let people walk to the bar safely. But nowadays we have electric street lighting, and the phase of the moon doesn’t make any difference to whether I can see my way home.

    [1] Given the shape of the hypothesis, it seems reasonable not to count embezzlement, tax evasion, or other illegal acts that don’t involve either a lost temper or direct contact with other people.

  51. #51 Will E.
    May 19, 2010

    I think that if there *were* a god of some kind there actually would be no complexity at all; everything would be quite simple. Complexity to me implies catch-as-catch-can with no prior thought to outcome; simplicity results from thoughtfulness and care. Complexity to me is an argument *against* a divine entity, not for.

  52. #52 marius
    May 19, 2010

    Why should the fact that many people believe something, say anything about how true that something is? Truth is not a democracy, otherwise the earth would still be flat.

  53. #53 Lynn Wilhelm
    May 19, 2010

    Great post PZ.

    As I was reading it I was listening to a public radio story about a writing class about spirituality led by someone from the Duke Divinity School at a local women’s prison. Next us is a story about a nun/chaplain helping a woman (a deist)at a hospital. You can listen here: http://wunc.org/front-page

    This leads me to think about some things about the good things religion provides that make it harder to eliminate it. (Don’t flame me yet!)

    In the story about the prison class, several women said that their faith was all that got them through their problems. While we know they really did it themselves, the “help” they got felt real to them.

    Nuns (and other religious people) do perform services–at no charge–to the community (I know they “charge” your soul). How can this ever be replaced without some organizations like churches?

    I know my mother feels her faith is very important to her. I think the real thing she appreciates about her church is the social aspect of the community.

    I’m not sure religion will disappear until we can provide the help, care and social services churches do. Are government services the main answer to that? I know there are some secular services, but can they keep up with churches and the government?

    I once read (probably here) that if we could just get god out of church, “church” would be great.

  54. #54 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    38: Bobocrap, do you have anything to say about ID?

    It’s nonsense.

    He asserts with authority. Yep, this statement in the bible is true, that one isn’t, this part is a metaphor, that part is literally true, God hates homosexuals, but he’s pretty chill on Christians at all you can eat scampi specials at Red Lobster…

    Asking a theist to expound on a differing theology is less than useless. You might as well play theological Boggle for all the consistency that’s displayed.

    Atheists could be, to a person, the least moral, most corrupt mass murders the world has ever seen, and it wouldn’t make the Resurrection of Jesus true.

    Nice attempt at a bait ‘n’ switch, though.

  55. #55 Capital Dan
    May 19, 2010

    I too think science has been a dismal failure. We were supposed to have flying cars, and we don’t.

    Science sucks.

  56. #56 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    Hey robocop, there is this kind called the “enlightenment” that you seem to have missed. It exactly meant loosening the grip of religion; prior to that an “ethical, rational vision” meant burning you at the stake for heresey.
    As for “atheist utopia” ever heard of a country called Sweden?

  57. #57 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    48: Yet you feel the need to say irrelevant shit about atheists utopias, which is not the topic.

    Except for the unfortunate fact that PZ’s conclusion included the utopian bullshit I pointed out. I accept the premise (ID is nonsense) but not the conclusion, which doesn’t fit the data.

  58. #58 pnrjulius
    May 19, 2010

    Actually, here in Ann Arbor hundreds of people get up on Saturday mornings to go to a science lecture: It’s called Saturday Morning Physics. (It really should be Saturday Morning Science, since half the time it’s about biology rather than physics.)
    http://www.lsa.umich.edu/physics/seminars/smp

    I used to go, but lately I’ve been busy with school and have been sleeping later and later. Eventually I’d like to start going again.

  59. #59 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    robocop, the biggest problem with your post is trolling bullshit.

  60. #60 pnrjulius
    May 19, 2010

    Also, in terms of “paying for the privilege”, churches don’t charge fees, and Saturday Morning Physics does receive many donations. I don’t know exactly how these donations weigh against the donations given to churches, but I’ll tell you this: The Physics Department actually uses the money to buy nicer equipment for the lectures. Tesla Coils don’t last forever you know. Churches don’t seem to do a lot of that…

  61. #61 broboxley OT
    May 19, 2010

    @Josh Official GaySpokesPerson thanks for the link, it does appear to be a legend after all

  62. #62 Andrew Hall
    May 19, 2010

    I agree that Intelligent Design can’t be true! Has anyone really looked around? If anything, the Universe has been D.A.D. (Dumb-Assed-Designed).
    http://laughinginpurgatory.blogspot.com/

  63. #63 ConcernedJoe
    May 19, 2010

    Gus #11 you stole my thunder!

    PZ like Gus I do not feel most believers are really believers – that is that they value superstition over science.

    Gus gave a rational for our rejection of the claim.

    Further – by accepting the “god over science” meme – I think we miss major opportunities to show faith for what it is – an almost useless construct in today’s World – and that “believers” show with their actions that you should not take the woo seriously. No atheist rantings required!

    It is hard socially to do – but in a non-personal way it is important to hammer home the point – PEOPLE WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN ACT AS ATHEIST AS I OR PZ WOULD AND DO! Mumbling prayers maybe (talk is cheap) but still not relying on their god any more than we would. To me actions speak louder than words.

  64. #64 marrom
    May 19, 2010

    If I say that I just saw a flying dog, most people (yeah, not about everyone) will think that I’m crazy. But, all you need is to add a religious reference and everybody will believe it. How come?

    I’ve seen two kinds of people who adhere to magical thinking, the first, older people, with low cultural background, who are centered on religious thinking. They have mixed all forms of superstition and merged it with the christian mythos, consumers of virgin mary’s miraculous apparition on sandwiches or in toilet paper, jebus in the @$$ of a dog. As long as it is related to religion, they’ll accept it, however ridiculous it is.

    Younger people, who had an incomplete religious indoctrination, but enough to awake the idea of an invisible, alternate world. The consequence is the uncertainty of an incomplete adoctrination, with a first stage that helped erode the wall between the real and the fantastic, but without the second stage that completes the mind manipulation to consolidate a religious interpretation for everything.

    This generation of new believers, receive their references from Hollywood instead of the vatican. It is not better, but only different. Those are the consumers for every woo that happens to be, whether is astrology or ghosts, UFO’s and the like.

    Anyway, religion is just the beginning. The rest of the ailments of the world develop from there.

  65. #65 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    So there’s evidence that atheist efforts at providing an “ethical, rational vision of the world” have been more effective that those of theists?

    Non sequitor, unless you mean something other than what the rest of the world means when they use the word “utopia”.

  66. #66 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    54: He asserts with authority.

    Indeed I do, because science allows some matters to be asserted with relative authority.

    Asking a theist to expound on a differing theology is less than useless. You might as well play theological Boggle for all the consistency that’s displayed.

    Most areas of life (including the great bulk of politics, religion, economics, history, sociology, morals, values, and ethics) are not subject to anything like conclusive demonstration. They require interpretation and argument and can’t be “settled.” I don’t find such subjects useless. Your milage may vary.

    Atheists could be, to a person, the least moral, most corrupt mass murders the world has ever seen, and it wouldn’t make the Resurrection of Jesus true.

    Indeed, though it spectacularly avoids the issue. Bait ‘n’ switch indeed.

    56: As for “atheist utopia” ever heard of a country called Sweden?

    So the USA is a Christian country then?

    59: robocop, the biggest problem with your post is trolling bullshit.

    No utopian bullshit, no post from me.

  67. #67 hkdharmon
    May 19, 2010

    @Swampfoot #15
    Culp Maybe?
    “I am an atheist, but I want SO BADLY to believe in God. I really do!”

  68. #68 David Marjanovi?
    May 19, 2010

    Has Giberson never noticed that astrology is easily as widespread in Europe as in the USA, while ID is basically limited to Cardinal Sch÷nborn?

    I think that what it boils down to is that all theism has always been ?gods of the gaps,? and it must always remain so.

    We have a winner.

    But astrology never tells me to stone people to death if they live differently.

    It does, however, tell you to discriminate people in a way that is… like racism, except it’s based on time instead of place of birth.

    Sure, if you look at all the constants and conversion factors scientists use, it may look like there are an awful lot of different “knobs” for the universe, but how many of those constants are derived from other constants or are conversions away from our many arbitrary units of measure (for example, a gram is a unit created not because it has any cosmic significance, but because it is convenient for humans on this planet)?

    Obviously, all this is known to physicists. There are, IIRC, 19 separate knobs that haven’t gone away yet.

    Also obviously, it’s possible that some or all of these parameters can actually be derived from an overarching theory that hasn’t been found yet.

  69. #69 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    65:

    So there’s evidence that atheist efforts at providing an “ethical, rational vision of the world” have been more effective that those of theists?

    Non sequitor, unless you mean something other than what the rest of the world means when they use the word “utopia”.

    I’ll take that as a “no.”

  70. #70 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    I’ll take that as a “no.”

    Take it as whatever you like. It doesn’t make it so.

    I’ll just go ahead and ignore you now seeing as you don’t have anything useful to add…

  71. #71 CJO
    May 19, 2010

    I read a classics textbook which said that the popularity of Astrology in the Hellenic era was part of Greek society becoming more rationalistic, since Astrology claimed that the world isn’t controlled by gods or spirits but rather by predictable natural forces. In that they were right, even though they were wrong about what the forces were.

    Astrology claimed no such thing. The whole idea of “predictable natural forces” is an anachronism. The cosmos in Hellenistic thought was very much “controlled by gods and spirits.” Astrology was the practical arm of the belief that the movements of celestial bodies were indications of the future activities of those powers. “Predictable,” perhaps, for a pre-modern conception of that term, but by no means “natural.”

  72. #72 toffeecime
    May 19, 2010

    Thanks for never budging on this. It might be nice if we woke up tomorrow and found that every religious person accepted the fact of evolution, and the theory which explains it, but that is such a provincial goal.

    We’d still have countless people denying the big bang theory, radioactive dating, and who knows what else? We’d still have people “believing” in astrology, homeopathy, psychics, ghosts, tarot cards, etc. The real goal ought to be, as you demonstrate, to destroy magical thinking and promote rational thinking. Religion is the immortal head of the hydra (yay for clichÚs).

  73. #73 wasd
    May 19, 2010

    Its like someone has a massive cancer spread through every corner of the appendix and some ?doctor? just goes on and on about cutting out the cancer while trying to save the appendix.

  74. #74 Blake Stacey
    May 19, 2010

    Someone who could draw decently well (not me) could make a good comic strip out of the whole “full moon” crazy business.

    PANEL 1: [people queueing outside a bar; one is looking at the sky]

    “Hey, full moon. I bet the crazies will be out in force tonight.”

    “Don’t you think it’s a little far-fetched?”

    PANEL 2: [caption reads: "later"; now inside the bar, an engineer is waving his jPhone]

    “Look! Studies show no correlation between lunar phase and crime rate!”

    PANEL 3: [caption reads: "later"]

    “You’re just trying to use the male hegemony of science to sever our connection with the cycles of the cosmos!”

    PANEL 4: [caption reads: "still later"]

    [the whole scene has erupted into a brawl]

    PANEL 5: [man is speaking at podium, on which a logo reads, "Annual Astrologers Conference", behind which a projector screen shows a graph with a spike]

    “Clearly, the data show an elevated rate of drunken bar fights on the night of the full Moon.”

  75. #75 va.terrero
    May 19, 2010

    Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning — and then voluntarily pay for the privilege

    A much brighter, educated world indeed.

  76. #76 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    70: I’ll just go ahead and ignore you now seeing as you don’t have anything useful to add…

    …With “you don’t have anything useful to add” being deemed equivalent to “you don’t agree with me.”

  77. #77 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    robocop is the classic troll. He has no interest in a real conversation, just causing aggravation.
    Of course there is the minor fact that morality, as defined by Christianity or Islam, gives you a Puritan New England or a saudi Arabia. Morality that we think of came out of enlightenment-if not from atheism, definitely from loosening the grip of religion. And of course you have countries like Denmark and Sweden were people live happily we no need for religion to hold their hands.
    But I shouldn’t say any of this. robo the troll will accuse me of promoting utopian bullshit.

  78. #78 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    With “you don’t have anything useful to add” being deemed equivalent to “you don’t agree with me.”

    If you had said anything of substance, I might disagree with you. As it is….

  79. #79 robinsrule
    May 19, 2010

    No utopian bullshit, no post from me.

    Too bad you didn’t follow your own rule.

  80. #80 https://me.yahoo.com/a/cfe5EdI2tPPS0JvzMQTyVrhdAjuEx5cM.Gc-#341a3
    May 19, 2010

    Blake Stacey:

    http://cectic.com/145.html

    Iain

  81. #81 SteveM
    May 19, 2010

    confirmation bias on identifying certain peoples sign by physical characteristics? Nope. In a room of 24-35 people usually one or two can be identified accurately. The trick is to announce those two then change the subject quickly.

    Isn’t that the definition of confirmation bias. Only count the hits, discard the misses?

    As for the full moon thing, there may be a tiny effect (in bars and “rowdy” behavior) only due to people thinking, “Hey, it’s a full moon, it’s only natural to be a little crazy”. Which is a completely different kind of causality.

  82. #82 PZ Myers
    May 19, 2010

    There is nothing utopian in what I said. If I’d said that I believe a society with laws is better than a society without laws, that does not imply that simply adding laws will create a perfect world.

    Similarly, stating that a society built on a foundation of reason is better than one soaking in superstitious muck does not imply that I think an atheist society is going to be perfect.

    But then, as usual, robocop is a frakin’ moron.

  83. #83 Harry Tuttle
    May 19, 2010

    Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning — and then voluntarily pay for the privilege.

    Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to attempt walking on water rather than trusting in the laws of buoyancy and taking a god damned boat.

    100 million Americans use telephones, computers, airplanes and a host of other devices based solely upon the laws of science every HOUR not week.

    Pray us up a fucking internet and you’ll have a point.

  84. #84 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Most areas of life (including the great bulk of politics, religion, economics, history, sociology, morals, values, and ethics) are not subject to anything like conclusive demonstration. They require interpretation and argument and can’t be “settled.”

    Only one of those can’t be settled, and that’s religion. Equating history or sociology with religion or values as if they’re all equally subjective is just stupid. Is this really how you think?

    I recommend taking a class in the social sciences one day. If you think they’re all simply a matter of interpretation and argument, then you’re not equipped to discuss such subjects.

    I don’t find such subjects useless.

    Sticking to religion, of course you wouldn’t. Why, if we didn’t argue about the number of angels dancing on the heads of pins then that would make angel mythology pretty irrelevant, and we can’t have built that house of cards for nothing.

    Your milage may vary.

    And the mileage of religion is non-existent.

  85. #85 Anri
    May 19, 2010

    Hey, guys, Robocop might have a point here!

    Now, if there were, for example, some kind of correlation between self-proclaimed theism among a given population and the relative well-being of that population, then Robocop would be utterly full of shit.

    Because there isn’t any correlation like that, right?

    Um… right?

  86. #86 abb3w
    May 19, 2010

    PZ: Religion is a cultural parasite that weakens our intellectual immune system, and opens the door to lots of other opportunistic infections.

    Errr… while the source is hardly unimpeachable, the Baylor University study “”What Americans Really Believe” indicated atheists had a greater tendency than fundies to believe in an assortment of types of woo (including Astrology). Religion thus instead appears to tend towards limiting the variety of stupid to a smaller number of compatible flavors.

    daveau: I don’t get his argument about the persistence of astrology. Does he acknowledge that astrology has been thoroughly discredited scientifically? Or is he arguing that astrology is true because it is popular?

    He’s indicating that, despite being well-debunked by science, belief in astrology is still around; thus, it provides an example of how merely showing something is bad science is insufficient to make it go away. Thus, given that ID has more anchors in other beliefs, ID may be expected to be even more difficult to get rid of.

    On the other hand, that can be turned around; the fact that astrology does not have major anchors may make it harder to get rid of, since it is unlikely to be swept away as a by-product of erosion of a major anchor point.

    raven: ID is dying if not already dead.

    As science, sure. As politics? I’m unaware of any US survey trends that would support such claim; Citation Needed.

  87. #87 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    77: robocop is the classic troll. He has no interest in a real conversation, just causing aggravation.

    The get ridda religion and everything will be really, really swell meme is a common one, as shown by PZ’s post. I’d like to see what evidence you can offer on its behalf. Got any?

    Of course there is the minor fact that morality, as defined by Christianity or Islam, gives you a Puritan New England or a saudi Arabia.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that modern Democracy arose almost exclusively in Christian countries, in part a result of the Reformation’s creation of religious dissidents and leading to the idea that protecting freedom is more important than imposing “truth.”

    Morality that we think of came out of enlightenment-if not from atheism, definitely from loosening the grip of religion.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the Enlightenment also gave us the Jacobins and the more general observation that countries that reject religion are at least as likely to impose their versions of truth as those which embrace religion and are more likely to impose their versions of truth than countries that give citizens the right to hold contrary views.

  88. #88 Tulse
    May 19, 2010

    If a god of some sort or other is responsible for creating what we think of as the universe, then that god exists as some part of a larger universe [...] therefore that larger universe must be finely tuned to support the god?s existence, no? [...] And which super-god was responsible for creating a divine universe so carefully fine-tuned as to support a universe-creating god?

    This is a very nice point, Ben.

    I think that if there *were* a god of some kind there actually would be no complexity at all; everything would be quite simple.

    Yep — not only does complexity suggest lack of forethought, it also suggests a limit on divine power. Why are humans such messes of wonky plumbing and gristle and bone and goopy bits, instead, of say, animated pudding? If a god can do anything, why not do it simply, via divine will, instead of relying on “natural” forces?

  89. #89 blf
    May 19, 2010

    When there is a full moon, especially on a cloudless night, it’s easier to see. I’m not surprised that—unless this (and other confounding factors) has been controlled for—there’s more people out and about on those nights, and hence more accidents, crimes, full restaurants along the seaside, and sightings of werefolk.

  90. #90 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    Errr… while the source is hardly unimpeachable, the Baylor University study “”What Americans Really Believe” indicated atheists had a greater tendency than fundies to believe in an assortment of types of woo (including Astrology). Religion thus instead appears to tend towards limiting the variety of stupid to a smaller number of compatible flavors.

    Unless the study differentiated people who became atheists out of rationality rather than just being “unhappy” with the religion, it’s missing an important distinction which actually supports PZ’s point. Rationality leads to atheism. Atheism does not necessarily lead to rationality. Those who were religious and decided not to believe in “god” for some other reason than it’s irrational to do so are, of course, more likely to find some other kind of woo to fill that void. That’s a direct result of religious thinking.

  91. #91 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Now, if there were, for example, some kind of correlation between self-proclaimed theism among a given population and the relative well-being of that population, then Robocop would be utterly full of shit.

    If only. Of course, anything softer than physics can’t be demonstrated, so all we’re left with is interpretation and argument. Alas!

  92. #92 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 19, 2010

    68#

    ID is basically limited to Cardinal Sch÷nborn?

    Forget not young master ‘chuckles’…his boss Benny baby!

    It seems that Benny was casting around for a new scow to float away to paradise cos the old ark of Jesuit dogma was rotted and leaking like a sieve below the waterline.
    The centuries had not been kind to it, it was in imminent danger of floundering on the rocks of reality…still is!

    In the first few weeks in his ‘el capitano’ capacity for the greatest con and hard core porno establishment in the world he was wily enough to consider re-branding the Jesuit delusion under the auspices of ID….or so he thought!

    He, apparently, was rather dismayed by the lack of due reverence displayed by the global youth vote on the ‘catalik delude.

    He was seduced, some say obsessed, by finding a hook to snare their interest cos being a fellow of infinite wisdom he realised they were the future the ‘catolik delusion required to lurch spastically into the next millennium with.

    He thought that it sounded like ID offered a techno fit theistic jamboree that young lads interest in things scientifical like computers engineering and cars might feel more at home contemplating.
    It sounded great when the salesman brought it around to the Vatican, but is was only firing on two cylinders when he was left to play with it alone.
    His head of the Vatican observatory made a cardinal(sic) error by berating ‘Chuckles’ for being a silly benny..and Benny spat the dummy and sacked the man for telling him that it was a load of codswollop.
    Spite was always a trusty ‘catolik trait, they practise it incessantly, and quite good at it as it ‘appens.

    The scam met with a further luke warm reception from the other hobgoblins in dresses that lurk around the catacombs of Vatican city and Benny has seemingly pragmatically stuck it on the back burner, but his oppo Cardinal Sch÷nborn was given the nod and the wink to flog it on the black market aided and abetted by the Disgraceful
    Institute that arranged many speaking engagements for the pimp of gross misinformation.

    Benny still likes hosting certain conferences where ID is leaked into the mix!

    But it is more with wistful wishful thinking these days then certainty of ‘catolik adoption.

  93. #93 Mattir
    May 19, 2010

    The only particularly useful religion is the one that uses literary and cultural tradition to allow people to express their reverence for the real world through god metaphors. The problem is that (a) this sort of sexed up atheist religion provides real cover for really horridly destructive literal belief religions, and (b) even if we could, as a society, “convert” everyone to the metaphorical natural world sort of religion, the viral threat of destructive religion would still be out there.

    Given the spandrel in the human mind that seems to create room for religion, I think it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to develop a society based on reason, and it cannot be done by yammering about how religion and science are compatible. The only way to expand secular, reason-based society is to focus, hard, on science and reason and stop trying to establish their purported compatibility with religion. It would be way more helpful for accommodationist scientists to spend their time giving lectures at their houses of worship expressing their awe about the real world in purely scientific terms. Yammering about the compatibility of science and religion in churches, schools, or publications just feeds the suspicion of those who already know they’re not and have chosen religion over science, while not helping the people in the middle grasp the real and awe-inspiring beauty of science in a way that would allow them to move into the reason-based god-of-metaphor camp.

  94. #94 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Except for the inconvenient fact that modern Democracy arose almost exclusively in Christian countries

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the Enlightenment also gave us the Jacobins

    That’s just your interpretation. I mean, it’s not like history can be ‘settled’, right?

  95. #95 articulett
    May 19, 2010

    abb3w said:

    “What Americans Really Believe” indicated atheists had a greater tendency than fundies to believe in an assortment of types of woo (including Astrology). Religion thus instead appears to tend towards limiting the variety of stupid to a smaller number of compatible flavors.

    I think you are misinterpreting the data. When people start to question faith, they might still believe it’s underlying message that faith and feeling are paths towards truth and salvation. This meme will lead them to search for “truths” that “resonate” with them. I think many people travel the “New Age” path away from religion and towards atheism.

    Your observation supports PZ’s argument that ennoblement of faith is the vector for all kinds of beliefs. Religions might limit their “woo” because their fundamentalist faith forces them to do so. But this is not an argument for religion being protective against magical thinking. It’s also not an argument for atheism promoting magical thinking.

    Ennoblement of faith encourages magical thinking of all kinds. Critical thinking inoculates against all “woo”.

  96. #96 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 19, 2010

    scientific tests of Astrology

    Basically, as any rational person suspects, it’s total bullshit.

  97. #97 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 19, 2010

    if you’re gonna murder somebody outside, in the dark, a full moon could be useful to help you see.

    Yes, but on the flip side, it’s easier for the cops to see and find you.

  98. #98 amphiox
    May 19, 2010

    ID is not only dead, it was stillborn

    Since most of its supporters cannot distinguish the difference between an embryo and a baby, this is not surprising.

  99. #99 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 19, 2010

    I’m sorry, that link was not the one I mean to post.

    This is

  100. #100 tacroy
    May 19, 2010

    And then they need to turn their considerable analytical skills on the problem of explaining that failure. If they do this, they might discover that enthusiastic pronouncements like “ID is dead” or “science has proven God does not exist” or “religion is stupid” or “creationists are insane” are not effective.

    I like how it will take the entirety of the scientific community’s “considerable analytical skills” to figure out something that, apparently, Karl Giberson has already figured out.

    I’m sure that if the scientific community realizes that they’re wrong about their approach to 4-simultaneous 24 hour Days and turn their considerable analytical skills towards examining the theory of Time Cube, they will realize that they are just educated stupid and hail Gene Ray as the revealer of evil academic singlarity.

  101. #101 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 19, 2010

    meant

    sigh

  102. #102 legistech
    May 19, 2010

    @87 Robocop,

    No one’s talking about “imposing” truth here. This is about not watering down arguments in some kind of a faux respect. Working towards an ethical, rational worldview doesn’t mean using governmental power to force it on others, merely persuasion.

    You do indeed have the right to hold contrary views. You can, in fact, hold that slavery is fine and dandy. Many Christians in the 1850′s certainly did. This doesn’t mean the idea of eliminating slavery was “utopian bullshit”, does it? And yet, those Christians could have used some arguments startlingly similar to yours to deny any benefit from outlawing slavery.

    I also don’t see PZ saying that just developing an ethical, rational worldview will fix all world problems, which to my mind is a necessary quality of a utopia.

    On the whole, I think you are using supposed caution regarding a rational worldview to as a mask to cover that you really just want to justify your own particular irrational one.

  103. #103 amphiox
    May 19, 2010

    “Stillborn” is also a wee bit generous an analogy, really, implying an actual successful conception and partial gestation.

    It’s more like there was a critical failure at meiosis, followed by apoptosis and resorption of the gamete.

  104. #104 amphiox
    May 19, 2010

    When there is a full moon, especially on a cloudless night, it’s easier to see. I’m not surprised that?unless this (and other confounding factors) has been controlled for?there’s more people out and about on those nights, and hence more accidents, crimes, full restaurants along the seaside, and sightings of werefolk.

    The existence and widespread use of street lights, each of which has an apparent magnitude greater than the full moon (to the people standing beneath them at street level) throws one such large confounding factor into the mix.

  105. #105 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    robo, do you ever get sick of your own bullshit?
    What does democracy have to do with the reformation? (Except maybe by loosening the grip of religion in general). Can you find any reference to democracy or pleuralism in the works of Luther or Calvin? To the contrary, reformation was brought to England by Henry VIII, not exactly a paragon of democracy.
    While you claim that the enlightenment gave us the Jacobins, do you ever take into consideration that Robespierre, that man behind most of the killings, was a firm believer in the “supreme being”? Yeah, an atheist, right. Or that one of the most vocal objectors (who almost got beheaded for this) was Tom Paine, the deist?
    So democracy arose in Christian countries. But if there is a relationship between the two, why did it arise only after they had been Christian for hundreds of years? And it is just a coincidence that it came right after the enlightenment?
    As for some evidence that the sky doesn’t fall if you get rid of religion, why, yes, I have some. It is called Norway.
    “Countries that reject religion are likely to impose their own belief system” is another piece of crap. I ask you again: why do you keep dismissing examples that do not fit your stereotype like Sweden, France, the Netherlands?

  106. #106 robinsrule
    May 19, 2010

    The get ridda religion and everything will be really, really swell meme is a common one, as shown by PZ’s post. I’d like to see what evidence you can offer on its behalf. Got any?

    Someone who thinks “an ethical, rational vision of the world” is “utopian bullshit” is a good example.

  107. #107 PenguinFactory
    May 19, 2010

    3) The widespread belief that God — an intelligent agent — created the universe. The claim that an intelligent God created an unintelligent universe seems peculiar, to say the least.

    I think of another possible scenario that he seems to be ignoring.

    Also, what’s he implying here? That ID’s existence is justified simply because people believe in God? It sounds like he’s the one assuming an incompatability between science and relion here.

  108. #108 Tee Dub
    May 19, 2010

    I think you’re missing Giberson’s point (although I readily admit that I may be giving him too much credit). As you note regarding ID: ***”ID is dead, except as a political tool, which is all it ever was anyway.”*** In the same vein, Giberson is making a political argument, not a rational one (and I think we all can acknowledge how inherently irrational politics can be). Neuroscience has taught us that we’re not the rational beings many of us aspire to be, but are rather irrational animals. In this light, like Giberson, I suspect that when most people (not just Americans) are told that they have an either-or choice between religion and science, we scientists are going to end up losing more than we win – which may not be the best political strategy considering almost all of us in some way or another have to rely on the taxpayer for support. So perhaps I am being a hypocrite, since while I ultimately I agree with you that it is difficult to reconcile an understanding of evolution with any form of Deism, I’m sure as heck not going to tell my students that in class, nor have I yet found the courage to tell my parents the same thing (although I suspect my mother understands my views on this on some visceral level).

  109. #109 gould1865
    May 19, 2010

    @ pnrjulius # 58

    “Also love your enemies for they tell you your faults”–La Rochefoucald

    A secret of church meetings and attractions is that there is very often a meal or snack soon somewhere, some sects and cults more than others, associated with the church even if it’s only eating out after the religious service, or put off till a pot luck or dinner on the grounds.

    The Saturday science lectures should consider at least serving coffee and danish even if only in a lobby.

  110. #110 Quatguy
    May 19, 2010

    Here Here!!! Well put PZ.

    the claim that:

    “3) The widespread belief that God — an intelligent agent — created the universe. The claim that an intelligent God created an unintelligent universe seems peculiar, to say the least.”

    strikes me as preposterous, why not just dispell with the idea of a god in the first place and then the apparent problem of logic goes away!

    K.I.S.S.

    Our study of the universe has shown us that there is no evidence, or theoretical requirement to invoke god. “He” is a failed hypothesis.

  111. #111 Sastra
    May 19, 2010

    It’s interesting that Giberson brings in an analogy to astrology in order to make a case for scientists backing theistic evolution. I use the same sort of analogy to argue against the value of using theistic evolution.

    If you had a society where people fervently believed in making decisions by charting the movements of the planets, it might be temporarily useful to reassure people that astrology works, sure, but the true way to use astrology is the way that never tells you anything you couldn’t have figured out without astrology. Today is a good day to get organized, or do not waste money on something you don’t really need. Instead of today is a good day to start a war, say.

    But it won’t work long term — because you’re still endorsing a system that has no merit, and most people are not going to value and use a method which doesn’t get them anywhere they can’t already go. The whole point of studying astrological star charts is to find out something you couldn’t find out otherwise.

    Same for religion. It can’t just be humanism with poetry. It requires a supernatural element, a special revelation, a mystical awareness that the entire cosmos acts just like a human mind. God and astrology are just different versions of the same view of reality: as above, so below. Everything is about us, and it’s fundamentally mental, and it works by magic, just the way our thoughts work.

    3) The widespread belief that God — an intelligent agent — created the universe. The claim that an intelligent God created an unintelligent universe seems peculiar, to say the least.

    Of course — because intelligence comes from intelligence the same way life comes from life, and reason comes from reason, and mind comes from mind.

    Except evolution shows how it doesn’t. Science is about discovering cranes. Religion is about embracing skyhooks. The universe, as revealed by modern science, shows how novelty comes about. The spiritual view of reality shows only how like comes from like, and we are all part of a giant mind.

    So supernaturalists get to cherry-pick when to apply supernaturalism, and when not to. That is not a talent we need to exploit. It’s a dangerous tendency we need to argue against — if we, and they, value the pursuit of what’s true, over what’s convenient.

    We can’t always follow our principles, but, damn it, we ought to have them.

  112. #112 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 19, 2010

    1. I think this echoes the gist of the post, but I would agree that ID is a storefront for a creationist operation. That said, the only way of destroying ID as a political position is to destroy its underlying motivation, which is creationism.

    2. I think that the past 90 years of American history have demonstrated that evidence and reason are poor weapons against creationism*. It seems logical to assert that the strength of creationism is born of its underlying meme, religion. Religion, as PZ has pointed out is a powerful, socially entrenched, and ancient meme, parasitic as it may be. Again, history has not demonstrated that reason and evidence are always a powerful weapon against this meme**.

    3. As a science educator, I am frankly stumped as to how to win this one. Powerful reasoning and evidence aren?t cutting it. In large part, people in my state still believe that Sarah Palin has something to offer intellectually to a theory of governance, for fuck sake. Has anyone looked at the results of any of the NSF science literacy surveys? ~25% of Americans don?t know that the earth orbits the sun. This isn?t any reason to think that people who are getting this wrong are failing as a result of religious indoctrination. Even without a successful meme in place to thwart the spread of scientific reasoning, our progress is somewhere between glacial and geologic regarding the rate at which scientific literacy is growing. Science itself has already left popular understanding of science in the dust. When science is confronted by a powerfully stupid enemy (like religion, vs. a blander ignorance from simple miseducation), how can one expect it to do any better?

    I think that the things that Dawkins/Hitchens/Myers/Harris/Dennett/et al. are saying need to be said. I also doubt that simply being honest and rational will defeat religion as a meme. On a broad scale, honesty and rationality rarely work, which is why advertising and public representation exist as industries. So what is the solution? Do we get dishonest (accommodationist) and aim to win hearts without really winning minds? Or do we keep doing what we are doing, with the realization that the perfectly honed argument is about 0% effective against the Armour of God***.

    * Before anyone jumps on the successes of the constitution over the creationist clownshoes, I would point out that keeping a bad idea out of a classroom hardly keeps it out of peoples? heads.
    **Although I might argue that the ability to think critically is a powerful vaccination. People who have developed some reasoning skills are more like to resist the pathogenic meme of religion once introduced to it. People like Ken Miller have demonstrated that once the meme has gone lysogenic, the vaccine of reason works, like, for shit.
    ***A garment worn bravely my Lion IRC, IIRC.

  113. #113 KOPD
    May 19, 2010

    This Gibbering guy is a tool.

  114. #114 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 19, 2010

    KOPD: You have upstaged me with five words.
    *withers*

  115. #115 gr8hands
    May 19, 2010

    Robocop is ignoring the “rational” part of the statement about worldview. Theists are, by definition, irrational. Therefore they are incapable of building or creating a rational worldview. Let alone one better than atheists.

    The evidence is in the theists themselves, and their irrational beliefs.

    Robocop = fail

  116. #116 tsg
    May 19, 2010

    ~25% of Americans don?t know that the earth orbits the sun. This isn?t any reason to think that people who are getting this wrong are failing as a result of religious indoctrination.

    This is true, but we’ve also spent the last umpteen decades teaching science lightly lest it tread on the religious beliefs of others. This teaches them two things: 1) science isn’t important to know and 2) beliefs shouldn’t be challenged. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Americans are largely science illiterate. Sarah Palin isn’t an aberration, she’s the expected result.

    Even without a successful meme in place to thwart the spread of scientific reasoning, our progress is somewhere between glacial and geologic regarding the rate at which scientific literacy is growing. Science itself has already left popular understanding of science in the dust. When science is confronted by a powerfully stupid enemy (like religion, vs. a blander ignorance from simple miseducation), how can one expect it to do any better?

    We can start by teaching science without worrying whether it conflicts with the superstitions of others. Classes in critical thinking in general might help, too.

  117. #117 Shala
    May 19, 2010

    Yes, but on the flip side, it’s easier for the cops to see and find you.

    But it also lets the victims dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.

    Such pros and cons to it!

  118. #118 gr8hands
    May 19, 2010

    I worked in the Emergency Room at a hospital in Portland, as they were in the process of automating portions of it. All the doctors related that it was always worse on full moons.

    After several months of data gathering, and then analyzing previous data, it was shown that this was not true. They were suprised, but some time later, I overheard one repeating the myth even when he had been shown the real data.

    I just shook my head.

  119. #119 Tulse
    May 19, 2010

    As I see it, theistic evolution is like saying that while most babies are born of pregnant women, some come from storks.

  120. #120 Pierce R. Butler
    May 19, 2010

    Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning …

    It requires even more imagination to think that 1/3 of the US population does this. When asked, about 40% of American adults claim they attend a church weekly; the actual numbers seem to be about half that.

    But Giberson seems to prefer beliefs and claims to fact-checking anyway. Pity he doesn’t use all that imagination for something more interesting…

  121. #121 KOPD
    May 19, 2010

    Antiochus:

    You have upstaged me with five words.

    I disagree. I merely flippantly stated the obvious. You provided thoughtful context.

  122. #122 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    been more effective that those of theists?

    Ever truly read your babble robocrock? Your imaginary deity supports slavery, genocide, rape, murder, pillage, incest, sexual slavery, and misogyny just to name a few. Hardly the basis for utopian theistic morals. Unless you are a psychotic amoral warlord…

  123. #123 nigelTheBold
    May 19, 2010

    If I had to choose, I’d choose the society in which knowledge most accurately reflects reality.

    That’s just me, though.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the Enlightenment also gave us the Jacobins and the more general observation that countries that reject religion are at least as likely to impose their versions of truth as those which embrace religion and are more likely to impose their versions of truth than countries that give citizens the right to hold contrary views.

    That is one of the longest run-on sentence fragments I have ever seen. I am in awe. I’m not even sure what it means, as it appears to have at least two partial ideas and no single complete idea, but I am in awe.

  124. #124 Sastra
    May 19, 2010

    Tulse #119 wrote:

    As I see it, theistic evolution is like saying that while most babies are born of pregnant women, some come from storks.

    Hm. I think that might be a better description of Intelligent Design. Theistic evolutionists would scoff that of course all babies are born of pregnant women: but the original idea of pregnant women having babies, was thought up by a Stork.

  125. #125 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    The whole point of studying astrological star charts is to find out something you couldn’t find out otherwise.

    Woah. That gave me a flashback to The Young Ones.

  126. #126 nigelTheBold
    May 19, 2010

    Theistic evolutionists would scoff that of course all babies are born of pregnant women: but the original idea of pregnant women having babies, was thought up by a Stork.

    And only The One Stork (who might look like a stork, a canary, and a road pizza, but is really just The One Stork) can give them souls.

  127. #127 Mattir
    May 19, 2010

    Stop talking about religion. Start teaching science. Start talking loudly about how amazing science is. Continue not to talk about religion. Then talk about science some more.

    So much bad science teaching comes from pussyfooting around religion, which works to insult the dignity of both pussies and feet.

  128. #128 rippingrich
    May 19, 2010

    “Also noticed when I worked as a bouncer that full moon weekends were an absolute zoo to work under but a scientific method it aint.”

    I worked at a job where it was normal for vandalism to take place on a full moon. My boss was convinced it was “cause the moon makes ya crazy.” He still held onto the belief after I showed him it was always normal on cloudy months. That it might have been the light. Then a dubious friend of mine stated that the motion sensor lights were a god send to burglars. Especially in yards with rakes. I think he finally got the message.

  129. #129 Sastra
    May 19, 2010

    That’s right — pregnancy doesn’t somehow “disprove” the necessity of storks. On the contrary. The biology only enhances our understanding of storks and their metaphoroical and metaphysical relationship to bringing babies. We have a deep need to appeal to the stork narrative as it is practiced, in order to touch the ornithological truth at the center of being (Being) and birth (Birth.)

    The a-storkists are, like crows, foolishly railing against a fundamentalist straw man.

  130. #130 SteveM
    May 19, 2010

    re 127:

    Stop talking about religion. Start teaching science. Start talking loudly about how amazing science is. Continue not to talk about religion. Then talk about science some more.

    Yes, it has been shown (somewhere, no I don’t have the citation) that refuting a lie has the paradoxical effect of actually reinforcing the lie. It is better to simply present the arguments for the truth rather than against the lie.

    re 128:

    Then a dubious friend of mine stated that the motion sensor lights were a god send to burglars. Especially in yards with rakes.

    Burglars and Sideshow Bob.

  131. #131 Tulse
    May 19, 2010

    The a-storkists are, like crows, foolishly railing against a fundamentalist straw man.

    Heh! I saw what you did there!

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    robospew says he asserts with authority:

    Indeed I do

    no, you don’t.

    you’re not a scientist, not a rationalist, embrace delusion, and obviously suffer from sever dissonance.

    an authority on anything I’ve ever seen you chatter about, you are not.

  133. #133 amphiox
    May 19, 2010

    Except for the inconvenient fact that modern Democracy arose almost exclusively in Christian countries

    Democracy arose as a reaction against Christianity-justified tyrannies, and for its formative periods had to fight tooth and nail against a Christian establishment doing everything in its power to obliterate it, acquiring many of its attributes as a result of forced adaption in this process. So yes, I suppose from that point of view, the particular flavor of modern democracy we practice today did require the prior existence of Christianity. Without it, we’d probably have had a different, likely better, fairer, and more effective, form of democracy.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the Enlightenment also gave us the Jacobins

    I’ll see your Jacobin, and raise you one Inquisition, four Crusades, and one Robespierre, devout believer in the Supreme Being.

    So there’s evidence that atheist efforts at providing an “ethical, rational vision of the world” have been more effective that those of theists?

    There has never, ever, been an “ethical, rational vision of the world” provided via atheism that has ever been put into practice. So there’s no basis for comparison. We only have a long and rich history of theistic efforts at the same failing miserably and spectacularly.

  134. #134 https://me.yahoo.com/a/90YiMPoR0s6DJYBAw4ryeePG4vqJUxYZ#3421a
    May 19, 2010

    @31 Robocop, I went back and read PZ’s post a second time and I don’t see him claiming an athiest utopia anywhere. :-|

    PZ, Great post! ~wjs

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    The get ridda religion and everything will be really, really swell meme is a common one, as shown by PZ’s post. I’d like to see what evidence you can offer on its behalf. Got any?

    coincidentally, I recall reading a study not too far back that had significant statistical evidence supporting that “happiness” was greater in European countries that had mostly abandoned religious precepts.

    In fact, I think it might have even been discussed on this very site. If I can be bothered to find the link to it, I will later.

    That’s just one paper published on the subject, I can think of a couple others, again would have to dig up the exact references.

    bottom line, you get rid of religion, you get rid of dogmatic support for any number of bad behaviors that inhibit people’s general happiness.

    That you are entirely unaware of this does not surprise me in the slightest. Not that you are ignorant of the information (you obviously monitor the issue, and these studies have been cited on PT – a place you frequent), but that you consciously or unconsciously repress it. Which, of course, is yet another example of how the world would be better off without the dissonance caused by religious claptrap: your mind would no longer feel the need to defend that house of cards via denial, repression of information, and projection.

  136. #136 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    here, robospew, take your act on the road, and argue with others who are making similar observations about happiness and religion:

    http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2006/08/x_axis_happiness_y_axis_accept_1.php

  137. #137 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 19, 2010

    We can start by teaching science without worrying whether it conflicts with the superstitions of others.

    Educators could do this if they were not accountable to elected school boards. Sometimes the school boards are composed of sensible grownups. Sometimes not. The science standards in the state of Texas have largely been shaped by the actions of a creationist dentist, and fundamentalist loonatic lawyer. But they were elected, and one was appointed to chair the board* by Governor Rick Perry. The stupid is a product of a reasonably democratic process, laid before an unreasonable constituency. The problem is deep and dark.
    But let’s say that an educator presents science for what it is, and is not hindered from doing so by curricular standards. My work with highschool teachers (and weirdly enough, my own Catholic highschool education) indicates that many of them do this. If what a child hears at home is antithetical to what they hear in the classroom, sometimes the dumb home-meme is going to win. The dumb home-meme gives candy, video games, hugs and kisses, bedtime stories, etc. It is a hard meme for a kid to reject. Unrejected, it will spread.

    I don’t think that you are wrong; this is what science teachers must do. I just don’t think that defeating the stupid can take place in the classroom alone. I guess that being said, I don’t know that we can beat this thing. Not to be a buzzkill *human paraquat*, or anything…but I find the problem daunting.

    *Neither of these two should be a problem in the future, but there is no reason that ICP won’t end up on a school board somewhere else. And then the theory of magnets will be front-and-center.

  138. #138 Knockgoats
    May 19, 2010

    Atheist utopian bullshit is still utopian bullshit. – Robocop

    Yes, just think of all the utopian bullshit of the past – things that could never happen! What fools people were to work for such ludicrous fantasies as:

    - The rule of law
    - Anaesthetics
    - Freedom of speech, press and assembly
    - Speaking to people on the other side of the world
    - Representative democracy
    - Exploration of the solar system
    - The welfare state
    - The elimination of smallpox

  139. #139 MrFire
    May 19, 2010

    Oh, and please, Antony Flew’s late-life fame seems to derive entirely from the fact that he tepidly embraced ID when he was fading into senility and was being coached by a sympathetic advocate for creationism.

    Undisclosed Location, 2045. Scene: The Templeton Awards Ceremony.

    An aged homunculus, head slumped and tentacle dreadlocks withered – is wheeled out onto the stage to thunderous applause.

    Professor PZ Myers:

    – the Noble Laureate whose discovery of zebrafish spontaneously giving birth to monkeys finally made creationists shut the fuck up;
    – who took a cheek swab from Ken Ham, and proved that he was ironically an 8000-year-old living fossil;
    – Hugo Award Winner for: Coversations On Pharyngula – How The Atheist Utopia Was Realized;

    prepares to give his acceptance speech.

    MYERS: “Where’s the ice cream? Someone told me there was ice cream!”

    *His spiritual advisor steps in.*

    ADVISOR: “Ha-ha…what Professor Myers means to say is, he is proud to receive this award today, after coming to the conclusion that none of his earlier work was valid because he saw the face of God last week in his pet squid’s underwear. Thank you.”

    Cue further thunderous applause.

  140. #140 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 19, 2010

    The greatest agitators against modern democracy were the churches. In the 1880s, after the Papal States had been absorbed into Italy, Pope Pius X declared it was a sin for any Catholic to vote in Italian elections. He rescinded this decision when it became obvious in 1910 that socialists could win elections.

  141. #141 Kel, OM
    May 19, 2010

    I said it on WEIT, I’ll say it here:

    I really don?t get why in all honesty they can blame atheists for the theistic non-acceptance of evolution. Do they honestly think that theists would be down with Darwin if not for Dawkins et al. making a tight coupling between atheism and evolution? At best I would think that maybe it?s unhelpful for people who are looking for reasons not to be down with evolution, but I would like to see data on that before committing.

    Basically what arguments like this are saying is that when theists formed their beliefs about evolution, it was atheists who pushed them into either accepting God or accepting evolution. That atheists in part or in full are responsible for the emotional revulsion of the very idea that we are a product of the evolutionary process and ?came from monkeys?. Personally I don?t see a link between this. Are evangelical parents reading atheist literature aloud to their children? Are they trying to teach science through Dawkins? Growing Up In The Universe and the children are making their own mind up about incompatibility? I?m going to wager that most have their beliefs about evolution formed long before they encounter atheist biologists. But I could be wrong.

    I can see a link between parents, preachers and community teaching children that evolution is evil. Heck, I?ve seen video of it in action. I?ve seen the creationist propaganda, heard the preachers. I?ve also read a lot of the ?new atheist? literature and those who express an incompatibility. I?m going to offer the conjecture that the real problem here is theists seeing an incompatibility between evolution and the way they interpret their dogma. That atheists highlight it wouldn?t really come into it.

  142. #142 Knockgoats
    May 19, 2010

    So there’s evidence that atheist efforts at providing an “ethical, rational vision of the world” have been more effective that those of theists? – Robocop

    There’s certainly evidence that most of the countries which are both rich and reasonably free are also among the least religious: the USA being the main exception. The USA itself has lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher levels of many social problems such as homicide, imprisonment, drug abuse, obesity… The primary causal factor is probably the USA’s very high economic inequality (see
    http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk), which pushes up rates of religiosity as it does those of other social pathologies.

  143. #143 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    4) The enthusiastic insistence by the New Atheists that evolution is incompatible with belief in God. Most people think more highly of their religion than their science. Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning — and then voluntarily pay for the privilege.

    So many words, so much fail. How many people think more highly of religion, enough to cosplay redneck stupidity every week, has zero bearing on whether or not religion is true, which it isn’t.

    And these New Atheists must be doing something right to have this little turd’s panties in a bunch.

    Besides, New Atheists taking advice from theists about how to promote themselves is the equivalent of chickens getting advice from Col. Sanders about longevity.

  144. #144 David Marjanovi?
    May 19, 2010

    The get ridda religion and everything will be really, really swell meme is a common one, as shown by PZ’s post. I’d like to see what evidence you can offer on its behalf. Got any?

    So you missed PZ’s own comment 82, posted 13 minutes before your comment 87 which I quote above?

    Man.

    Of course there is the minor fact that morality, as defined by Christianity or Islam, gives you a Puritan New England or a saudi Arabia.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that modern Democracy arose almost exclusively in Christian countries, in part a result of the Reformation’s creation of religious dissidents and leading to the idea that protecting freedom is more important than imposing “truth.”

    What…

    …the fuck!?!

    The reformation leaders were without exception zero-tolerance fundamentalists, filled with holy wrath against all denominations other than their own. It didn’t take long, and Calvinists killed Catholics in the Netherlands and put their heads on pikes at marketplaces. Calvin personally ordered to burn Michel Servet, who had doubted the Trinity; the order was carried out while Calvin watched.

    What are you smoking, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands!

    Democracy arose exclusively ? not “almost exclusively”, but exclusively ? in enlightened countries. It wasn’t introduced in Greece till 1975…

    Morality that we think of came out of enlightenment-if not from atheism, definitely from loosening the grip of religion.

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the Enlightenment also gave us the Jacobins

    Details, please. How does Jacobinism follow logically from the Enlightenment?

    and the more general observation that countries that reject religion are at least as likely to impose their versions of truth as those which embrace religion and are more likely to impose their versions of truth than countries that give citizens the right to hold contrary views.

    This effect vanishes immediately if you broaden “religion” to “ideology that must not be questioned”, in other words, if you count communism with the religions. Non-communist countries that reject religion? Sweden, which abolished the proletariat instead of the bourgeoisie? What “version of the truth” does Sweden have?

    I’m really surprised you seem not to have noticed.

    ID is basically limited to Cardinal Sch÷nborn

    Forget not young master ‘chuckles’…his boss Benny baby!

    Er, no. Benny-baby actually put a stop to that nonsense and reaffirmed his predecessor’s position on evolution maybe a year ago.

    Democracy arose as a reaction against Christianity-justified tyrannies

    The most blatant example is the US Declaration of Independence.

    Premise 1: Give unto the emperor what is the emperor’s, because God has instituted the emperor, like all earthly powers, as it says in the New Testament several times.
    Premise 2: Being omnimax, God does not make mistakes and never changes his mind; he knows the future.
    Conclusion: Divine right of kings ? dynasties rule because of God’s will, and God wants them to continue to rule either till they die out (which he had planned in advance, duh) or till God ends the world.
    Jefferson: Fuck Premise 1 and therefore the Conclusion. Hard. (And ignore Premise 2.)

    The D of I justifies the Revolution by explaining what a government is good for, paraphrasing a couple of Enlightenment philosophers very closely, and listing how King George III had failed those purposes. According to the New Testament, however, a government isn’t good for something, it exists solely because God wants it so (for His Own Ineffable Reasons); and ? Premise 2 ? he wants it to stay that way forever.

    By New Testament criteria, the American Revolution was an act of fucking blasphemy, Robocop, and it was correctly recognized as such at the time.

  145. #145 raven
    May 19, 2010

    I really don?t get why in all honesty they can blame atheists for the theistic non-acceptance of evolution.

    They can’t. The fundie xian crackpots hated science and evolution a century ago when atheists weren’t even up to the level of a despised minority. Nothing has changed except the No Religions are now a hated minority of 24% of the population. If they were a sect, they would be one of the 3 largest.

    History says that religious cults either make their peace with science or die out. The Flat Earthers are almost gone, the Geocentrists are irrelevant.

    Chances are they will. They are losing their kids at a rate of 70% after age 18. John Wesley the noted “liberal” xian, once said that without witches, witchcraft, and witch executions that there was no bible. The xians stopped believing in witches (mostly, not all) and stopped killing them (except a 1000 a year in the third world). Nothing happened except there are now 2 billion xians.

    Since intersecting even slightly with the real world is not necessary for a religion, they are very flexible.

  146. #146 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    What are you smoking, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands!

    if smoking it would make me spew similar drivel, I think I would pass!

    :p

  147. #147 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    which pushes up rates of religiosity as it does those of other social pathologies.

    thankyou for repeating a simple fact:

    religion is a social pathology.

  148. #148 David Marjanovi?
    May 19, 2010

    PZ has a quote from a papal bull in his collection. (Can’t provide it right now, because pharyngula.org is down or something.) It forbids the king of England to enact the Magna Carta, “and the barons to demand its execution”, on pain of excommunication.

  149. #149 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    And these New Atheists must be doing something right to have this little turd’s panties in a bunch.

    indeed.

    he is a refugee from Panda’s Thumb, where he spouts the same endless drivel repeatedly… and has for years.

    keeps asking for evidence of the value of atheism, keeps getting it, keeps repressing it.

    sad case.

  150. #150 Joffan
    May 19, 2010

    I had to react to Giberson’s #3:

    3) … The claim that an intelligent God created an unintelligent universe seems peculiar, to say the least

    Excuse me? Since when did we expect the creations to be the same as the creators? Was Gutenberg’s printing press intelligent? the Wright brother’s flying machine? This complaint doesn’t make any sense on the most basic level.

  151. #151 Brownian, OM
    May 19, 2010

    David Marjanovi? wrote:

    Calvin personally ordered to burn Michel Servet, who had doubted the Trinity; the order was carried out while Calvin watched.

    I always forget about Servet. From the Wikipedia article on Michel Servet (Michael Servetus):

    Lately, Michael Servetus has also been credited with being one of the modern forerunners of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in the Western world. A renowned Spanish scholar on Servetus’ work, ┴ngel Alcalß, identified the radical search for truth and the right for freedom of conscience as Servetus’ main legacies, rather than his theology. The Polish-American scholar, Marian Hillar, has studied the evolution of freedom of conscience, from Servetus and the Polish Socinians, to John Locke and to Thomas Jefferson and the American Declaration of Independence. According to Hillar, “Historically speaking, Servetus died so that freedom of conscience could become a civil right in modern society.”

    Uh, thanks for the gift of freedom and tolerance, Calvin.

    Further, Servet was the first European to understand pulmonary circulation, though he wrote it in a theological treatise which was burned by the religious reformists WRongocop loves so much, so it was lost for a good six decades.

    So, in a sense WRongocop is totally right, if by ‘in that sense’ one means ‘in Bizarro World where everything means the opposite of what it normally means’.

    But, y’know, history is all about interpretation and argument, and can’t ever be “settled”, right?

    “I’m entitled to my opinion” has always been the war cry of the terminally wrong.

  152. #152 Knockgoats
    May 19, 2010

    I’m not sure religion will disappear until we can provide the help, care and social services churches do. Are government services the main answer to that? – Lynn Wilhelm

    Yes, government services are the main answer. Their greater availability in western Europe as opposed to the USA is probably an important reason for the difference in religiosity. As Gregory Paul says:

    “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities. This effect appears to be so consistent that it may prevent nations from being highly religious while enjoying good internal socioeconomic conditions.”

  153. #153 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    I can see diet and weather influencing fetal development.

    Didn’t the Italians do a study showing how time of year of the woman’s birth had a bearing on her fertility? Don’t know how sloppy the research was, but I distinctly remember that one.

    Most amusing of all, it pretty much made astrology about as accurate as guessing what binary number will turn up..

  154. #154 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    I’m not sure religion will disappear until we can provide the help, care and social services churches do.

    Here’s an eye opener:

    In the US, charity accounts for about 1% of healthcare funding. Most of the revenue of “religious” hospitals are mostly subsidized by the US government, Medicare especially.

    The religion in the logo out front is a brand, nothing more.

  155. #155 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    I always forget about Servet.

    what was Heddle’s reaction to Servet?

    anyone recall?

  156. #156 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    In the US, charity accounts for about 1% of healthcare funding. Most of the revenue of “religious” hospitals are mostly subsidized by the US government, Medicare especially.

    I know this is accurate, but don’t have a specific reference in support.

    have you got one?

  157. #157 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    You sort of have to get it from different sources. I had to extrapolate it from data from the organization that represents charitable hospitals (whose name escapes me at the moment), and from estimates of health care expenditures for the nation as a whole.

    I’ll look up that organization.

  158. #158 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    Oh–here’s one interesting report. 47 American charitable hospitals get more from tax breaks than they do in care for the poor, something like 489 million in tax breaks versus 176 million in free or reduced cost care.

    One Catholic hospital system in Illinois, Provena were ruled against in a state Supreme Court proceeding for taking in far more tax breaks than the amount of charitable care given: Only 302 of 110K patients were charity patients in the system most years, and some ungodly low figure like .7% of their revenue went to charitable care.

    Yes, that’s a decimal out front.

    CTBAonline.org documents the atrocities.

  159. #159 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    CTBAonline.org

    i’ll spend some time there, thanks.

  160. #160 condignaction
    May 19, 2010

    #145 – History says that religious cults either make their peace with science or die out. The Flat Earthers are almost gone, the Geocentrists are irrelevant.

    The incredible shrinking god.

    Year 2200: “Duh! Obviously, the Higher-Power didn’t cause the Big-Bang. Every child knows the Big-Bang is fully explained by Brane-String/M-Theory. But how did the first pan-dimensional membrane come to be? That’s my question. Until science can answer that…”

  161. #161 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    A ha. Found the report of how much Americans are giving: 8.6 billion in a 2 trillion dollar market.

    Extremely paltry.

  162. #162 Robocop
    May 19, 2010

    82: Similarly, stating that a society built on a foundation of reason is better than one soaking in superstitious muck does not imply that I think an atheist society is going to be perfect.

    I’m not so much concerned about the foundation part, even though lots of people will disagree about what reason demands. But I am very concerned about how contrary views will be “tossed out” or “killed.”

    84: Only one of those can’t be settled, and that’s religion.

    Facts can be settled; most interpretations and inferences cannot. Otherewise, there would be consensus on, for example, the proper balance between freedom and equality.

    Equating history or sociology with religion or values as if they’re all equally subjective is just stupid.

    Equally subjective? No. Necessarily subjective? Absolutely.

    I recommend taking a class in the social sciences one day. If you think they’re all simply a matter of interpretation and argument, then you’re not equipped to discuss such subjects.

    So the definitive answer to the current (pretty horrible) economic situation is what exactly?

    102: No one’s talking about “imposing” truth here. This is about not watering down arguments in some kind of a faux respect. Working towards an ethical, rational worldview doesn’t mean using governmental power to force it on others, merely persuasion.

    I have no objection to the world you propose. The problem is, those who are absobloominlutely sure that they’re right and everyone else is stupid, irrational or evil (which includes both religionists and anti-religionists) have a nasty habit of trying to impose their view of right on that everyone else.

    This doesn’t mean the idea of eliminating slavery was “utopian bullshit”, does it?

    No. The idea that if we could simply eliminate [enter most-hated idea/structure/power here], things would be great! is utopian bullshit.

    105: “Countries that reject religion are likely to impose their own belief system” is another piece of crap. I ask you again: why do you keep dismissing examples that do not fit your stereotype like Sweden, France, the Netherlands?

    Individual acceptance or rejection of religion is irrelevant to my point. Are citizens of those countries allowed to worship freely?

    106: Someone who thinks “an ethical, rational vision of the world” is “utopian bullshit” is a good example.

    Except I don’t think “an ethical, rational vision of the world” is bullshit of any sort. In fact, I think it should be actively cultivated.

    115: Robocop is ignoring the “rational” part of the statement about worldview. Theists are, by definition, irrational. Therefore they are incapable of building or creating a rational worldview. Let alone one better than atheists.

    Since you’re so much more rational than I — so much better — should I even be allowed to vote?

    133: Democracy arose as a reaction against Christianity-justified tyrannies, and for its formative periods had to fight tooth and nail against a Christian establishment doing everything in its power to obliterate it, acquiring many of its attributes as a result of forced adaption in this process. So yes, I suppose from that point of view, the particular flavor of modern democracy we practice today did require the prior existence of Christianity. Without it, we’d probably have had a different, likely better, fairer, and more effective, form of democracy.

    So why do you suppose modern democracy didn’t arise outside the Christian West? By your lights it ought to have flourished when not impeded by the horrors of Christianity.

    I’ll see your Jacobin, and raise you one Inquisition, four Crusades, and one Robespierre, devout believer in the Supreme Being.

    It doesn’t matter whether the congregants in Notre Dame are worshipping the Madonna or the Goddess of Reason, if the leaders are Christian, atheist, something else, or nothing. If a version of “truth” is being imposed, evil results.

    There has never, ever, been an “ethical, rational vision of the world” provided via atheism that has ever been put into practice.

    There have been multiple attempts, however, which typically resulted in death camps and other horrors.

    135: you obviously monitor the issue, and these studies have been cited on PT – a place you frequent….

    If you mean Panda’s Thumb, I don’t recall ever having visited there.

    138: Yes, just think of all the utopian bullshit of the past – things that could never happen! What fools people were to work for such ludicrous fantasies as….

    You’re misunderstanding me. I don’t oppose those things or working for those things. However, prevention beats treatment. I am much more concerned with preventing bad things than with treating bad things. Thus I’m much more concerned with protecting one’s right to believe nonsense than in trying to impose or even promote my affirmative views, no matter how convinced I am of their rightness.

    142: There’s certainly evidence that most of the countries which are both rich and reasonably free are also among the least religious….

    I don’t doubt this. In my experience, it’s common for people who are financially successful increasingly to attribute it to their own intelligence and effort. There’s no luck (or grace) involved. In my view, the besetting Christian sin is hypocrisy; the besetting atheist “sin” is arrogance.

    144: So you missed PZ’s own comment 82, posted 13 minutes before your comment 87 which I quote above?

    Cross-post.

    The reformation leaders were without exception zero-tolerance fundamentalists, filled with holy wrath against all denominations other than their own. It didn’t take long, and Calvinists killed Catholics in the Netherlands and put their heads on pikes at marketplaces. Calvin personally ordered to burn Michel Servet, who had doubted the Trinity; the order was carried out while Calvin watched.

    Ironic, isn’t it? But the idea that truth should be imposed was doomed in part because of the Reformation view that one could figure out religious questions individually — that Christ alone is Lord of the conscience. Moreover, lots of sects meant lots of chances to be on the losing end of a truth imposition. Promoting freedom had practical benefits.

    How does Jacobinism follow logically from the Enlightenment?

    1789 gave us two Enlightenment governments. To oversimplify, the one that stressed “protections from” has flourished; the one that focused upon imposing its version of reason, truth and rationality failed miserably.

    This effect vanishes immediately if you broaden “religion” to “ideology that must not be questioned”, in other words, if you count communism with the religions.

    That’s a delightful approach — those who are anti-religion and who go about stamping out religion and murdering the faithful are really religionists in disguise. Well played. I suppose the Reign of Terror was religious too?

    Jefferson: Fuck Premise 1 and therefore the Conclusion. Hard. (And ignore Premise 2.)

    Because of alternative premise 3: we all have inalienable rights bestowed by the Creator such that not even the King can undo them.

    By New Testament criteria, the American Revolution was an act of fucking blasphemy, Robocop, and it was correctly recognized as such at the time.

    According to Romans 12, perhaps, but the NT includes both Jesus and Peter positing a more limited state.

  163. #163 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    So why do you suppose modern democracy didn’t arise outside the Christian West?

    As usual ass backwards idjit. Warlords, like those the church really approves of, were present in most of the second and third worlds. Democracy flourished in the west inspite of your religion.

    Still no conclusive physical evidence presented by your for your imaginary deity robocrock. Which makes you still a delusional fool. I think you can’t stand being the delusional fool, but you show yourself to be one with almost every inane post…

  164. #164 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    That “attempt” at rational argument was like a Bataan Death March for brain cells

  165. #165 CJO
    May 19, 2010

    the Reformation view that one could figure out religious questions individually

    “In the absence of the Catholic clergy’s influence” doesn’t necessarily equate to “individually.” Sola scriptura meant that scripture was primary, and anybody should be allowed to read it for themselves, but under Protestant-approved, exclusively literal interpretations only. For instance, Spinoza “figured out individually” a number of religious questions, and was branded an atheist and a heretic by every leading Protestant theologian of the era.

    the NT includes both Jesus and Peter positing a more limited state

    There’s nothing in the NT that was written by Peter, and where the hell in the gospels does Jesus “posit” any kind of state whatsoever? Jesus (the literary character) posited “the kingdom of god” contra all states, real or imagined.

  166. #166 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    But I am very concerned about how contrary views will be “tossed out” or “killed.”

    because there simply can’t be ideas that are worth tossing out?

    really?

  167. #167 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    Thus I’m much more concerned with protecting one’s right to believe nonsense than in trying to impose or even promote my affirmative views, no matter how convinced I am of their rightness.

    then you should be in full agreement with all here.

    nobody has ever said we want to remove people’s right to believe nonsense.

    we merely want to keep spreading the fact that religion IS nonsense. Ridicule being an effective marginalization tool for dangerous nonsense, after all, much like it has been used against primitive racist beliefs.

    you haven’t ever provided anything in support of religion being anything other than nonsense.

    so, either you are being disingenuous here in stating what your actual concerns are, or you are actually in agreement with us and are merely trolling.

    which is it?

  168. #168 MetzO'Magic
    May 19, 2010

    …they’re rooting beliefs in ignorance about how minds work.

    That turn of phrase is going to confuse the fuck out of the Aussies… or not.

  169. #169 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    You are just repeating the old load of rubbish, robo.
    You cannot dismiss societies where the (overwhelming) majority reject religious dogma as being “irrelevant” to the argument. You call it utopical bullshit, I call it utopical reality. You claim societies that reject religion impose other other belief systems on others. But nations where most people reject religion and do not impose anything on anyone do not count? What have you been smoking?
    We here on this thread have shown that you are wrong. You claim the enlightenment gave us the reign of terror; in reality, it was spearheaded by a believer named Robespierre and opposed by an enlightenment deist named Tom Paine. You claim democracy came out of the reformation; in reality, proponents of the reformation, from Luther and Calvin to Henry VIII were ruthless totalitarians. You claim Christianity lead to democracy; reality is, democracy only came to nations that had been through the enlightenment first, and it many Christian countries it doesn’t exist even today. You claim societies that reject religion impose other beliefs on their citizens, yet those that don’t are somehow irrelevant.
    Seriously, robo, you’ve got nothing better to do than troll the web?

  170. #170 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    what was Heddle’s reaction to Servet?
    anyone recall?

    Please. The mating calls of Religiotardus Pompositus are many and varied.

  171. #171 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Robocop wrote:

    So why do you suppose modern democracy didn’t arise outside the Christian West? By your lights it ought to have flourished when not impeded by the horrors of Christianity.

    If Christianity = democracy, why didn’t modern, egalitarian democracies begin to emerge soon after 32CE rather than beginning with limited democracies (i.e you got to vote if you were rich, male and of the right ethnic group and/or social class) over a thousand years after the death of Christ?

    If Christianity = democracy, where did the Divine Right of Kings come from, and why was it in place in so many Christian nations for so many years?

    If Christianity = democracy, there must be any number of explicit, unequivocal and unambiguous references* to it in the bible, e.g. how to make it come about, and how it should work in a Christian context and so forth. I’ve never been a Christian or a bible scholar; perhaps someone would like to cite the verses where Jesus’ praises of a democratic society appear.

    *By which I mean, something a heck of a lot more straightforward than a parable that could be interpreted to have meant that Jesus implied that democracy was what he wanted and that a nuanced reading of the text allows us, taking context into account, to view it as thus.

    For example, offering the story of the loaves and fishes as an explicit endorsement of democracy ain’t going to cut it.

  172. #172 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    For example, offering the story of the loaves and fishes as an explicit endorsement of democracy ain’t going to cut it.

    I thought that was an example of socialism?

  173. #173 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    The mating calls of Religiotardus Pompositus are many and varied.

    oooh, smack!
    :)

  174. #174 Aquaria
    May 19, 2010

    Trying to get it to stick. It seems to fit. :D

  175. #175 Insightful Ape
    May 19, 2010

    Incidentally, robo the troll, since you are so certain that abandonment of religion leads to other ideologies being enforced, might you give us an example?
    To go back to the reign of terror: many of the victims were not eliminated because they weren’t revolutionary enough (not least, in the end, Robespierre himself). Rather, because they were considered a threat to those in power. You claim the first French republic failed because it was based on forceful imposition if ideas-you have no clue what you are talking about.
    Same is true for stalin’s purges: many of the victims were among the closest associates of Lenin. They weren’t killed because their Marxism was in doubt; they were killed because Stalin thought they were a threat. Not exactly the same as Giordano Bruno getting burned at the stake for his scientific beliefs.
    Your claim that when religion is tossed overboard other ideologies backed by force replace it is something you pulled out of your ass.

  176. #176 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    Not exactly the same as Giordano Bruno getting burned at the stake for his scientific beliefs.

    IIRC, the “official” stated reason for Bruno’s burning had to do with supposedly “heretical” claims base on his own religion, rather than his science.

    …as it that makes a difference to the end result.
    :P

  177. #177 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 19, 2010

    Please. The mating calls of Religiotardus Pompositus are many and varied.

    That’s the best description I’ve seen of Heddle yet. Indeed, you might say they’re. . .legion.

  178. #178 raven
    May 19, 2010

    John Wesley:

    “Most of the men of learning in Europe have given up all account of witches and apparitions as old wives? fables?. The giving up of witchcraft is the giving up of the Bible. With my last breath I will bear testimony against giving up to infidels one great proof of the invisible world, witchcraft ? confirmed by the testimony of the ages,?.

    John Wesley was the founder of Methodism.

    He claimed that witchcraft proved the bible. Most xians gave up believing in witchcraft, witches, and witch hangings centuries ago.

    Nothing happened.

    The creationists make a similar claim today. Give up the 6,000 year old earth and the Big Boat and xianity will fade away. Ignoring that the majority of the xians worldwide have already done so. It makes no difference.

    A lot of what some xians claim is a core necessity of their religion can get tossed overboard and no one misses it.

  179. #179 John Sherman
    May 19, 2010

    Astrology is a great load of rubbish, of course, which makes it so much sadder that a great scientist like Isaac Newton wasted so many years of his life working on it. Even great minds can be way-laid by woo.

  180. #180 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Icthyic wrote:

    I thought that was an example of socialism?

    It can mean whatever an enthusiastic sophist with a well-choreographed tapdance routine wants it to mean – which is kind of the point of my expressing a need for an unambiguous biblical reference to democracy.

    We’ve had numerous Christian idiots trying to argue that Christianity is responsible for a lot of the positive aspects of society – something I find hilarious, because it’s an argument that flies even more in the face of reality than the rest of the things they babble about.

    Christians have been around for over 2,000 years, and Christian societies – i.e majority Christian countries with governments either being explicitly Christian, or (at the very least) being made up of people almost exclusively Christian – have been prevalent for almost as long; why, then, is it only in the last couple of hundred years that many of these changes – particularly in the area of equal rights – have occurred?

    Nothing has changed in Christian doctrine in that time; it’s not because there’ve been recent discoveries of previously lost parts of the gospel that extol the virtues of equality and democracy – everything the Christians claim endorses those things have been part of the canon from the start.

    Those considered the greatest Christian ‘thinkers’, who understood scripture so very well, have been dead for almost as long as their alleged messiah – why didn’t they realise their lord was against slavery, and seek to end it? How did these astonishing geniuses not realise that the instruction to give the vote to everyone was right there in front of them?

    Society has changed, and those changes are at best tangential to Christianity – and, in many cases, in spite of direct opposition from those using Christianity as an argument against it.

    I hope to see, in my lifetime an end to the opposition from religious groups to gay marriage – because, apart from the change itself, I’ll get to watch, first-hand, the lies being told by the Christians of the day about how it was Christianity that ‘led the charge’ to bring such equality about.

    As I say so often when it comes to religion: it makes no fucking sense.

  181. #181 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    A lot of what some xians claim is a core necessity of their religion can get tossed overboard and no one misses it.

    makes me wonder what they will still be carrying when it’s down to an innertube with a hole in it.

  182. #182 MrFire
    May 19, 2010

    I hope to see, in my lifetime an end to the opposition from religious groups to gay marriage – because, apart from the change itself, I’ll get to watch, first-hand, the lies being told by the Christians of the day about how it was Christianity that ‘led the charge’ to bring such equality about.

    This.

  183. #183 Kagehi
    May 19, 2010

    56: As for “atheist utopia” ever heard of a country called Sweden?

    So the USA is a Christian country then?

    No, the USA is **supposed to be** an agnostic country. It makes no claims as to which god, or which religion, or even if *any* god, or religion, exists, is important, etc. The whole “Christian nation” BS, which the morons pushing it don’t seem to grasp, is the anti-thesis of such an agnostic approach. It implies that not only do we know which god, but which version of the religion *of* that god, and therefor, all things in the nation are derived from that original precept, and even stupider, that either nothing contradicts this statement (which is just plain idiocy), or, as the newly minted wackos like to claim, everything that *does* contradict it is a conspiracy to undermine the intent of some founders or other mythical figures, which bear no resemblance to historical people, save the coincidence of being called the same title, and sharing the same names.

    Separation of church and state is not about creating an atheist system, its about saying, “We don’t bloody well know, so the government refuses to take a stand on the issue, as though it does know, especially if it gets it ***wrong***, and that includes the possibility that they are *all* wrong.” It is, imho, just as naive a position as Jefferson had when stating that his neighbor wouldn’t break his legs, or rob him, for having a different belief, while completely missing that his neighbor’s neighbor was sharpening an axe, and plotting to do both, because they *liked* their next door neighbor, with the semi-funny ideas, but not that complete damn nut, two doors down, who liked editing the supernatural out of the Bible and babbled about how different beliefs didn’t matter too much.

  184. #184 ambulocetacean
    May 19, 2010

    MetzO’Magic @ 168

    …they’re rooting beliefs in ignorance about how minds work.

    That turn of phrase is going to confuse the fuck out of the Aussies… or not.

    This Aussie understands perfectly well that religion is completely rooted. :)

    What I don’t get, though, is how anyone can say that “nobody” believes in ID.

    Maybe I’m missing something basic, but if you believe in Yahweh/Allah but don’t believe in the Genesis creation story, ID/TE is all you’ve got left, right?

    When I was a kid I had been conditioned to believe in god but I knew the creation story was BS and I was heavily into dinosaurs. I didn’t really think about it, but that must have made my seven-year-old self ID/TE. Didn’t it?

  185. #185 Raghu Mani
    May 19, 2010

    One comment on Astrology. Giberson says that Astrology is “not tied to any powerful religious tradition.” Well that might be true in the West but not so where I come from (India). Astrology is very closely connected to the Hindu religion. We’ve had plenty of problems with religious nuts trying to get astrology taught in colleges/schools.

    Since there is no concept in Hinduism of man being created in God’s image and since Hindus believe that all living beings have a soul, there is almost no opposition to evolution among educated Hindus. There is a widespread belief in astrology – even among the extremely well educated. Not all that long ago India’s Hindu fundamentalist party – the BJP – tried to get college science departments to introduce Bachelors and Masters level courses in Astrology. That attempt was beaten back but it is an ongoing problem.

    It is kind of amusing to me to see people here people treat astrology as some kind of joke and treat creationism as a real problem. In India, the reverse would be the case!

    – RM

  186. #186 rakesh singhal
    May 19, 2010

    Author in this article is showing a paradox. Whenever scientific scrutiny of astrological principles is done, correlation levels are quite poor but at the same time many people believe in this subject.

    Actually astrology should be considered in two portions, one is the basic premise. that is planets govern the destiny ,cyclicity etc and second is predictive techniques and ability to accurately read the chart and predict the events.

    First portion is true, say if a person is facing a bad patch in life , you may not be knowing astrlogy, but assure him that his problem will be over soon, and there is good probability that what you said would turn out to be correct in future.

    second portion in conventional astrology, whether indian, chinese or western is more or less wrong.

    so we worked ab initio and in 2010 , we have succeeded in developing lifescape astrology, which is more like chemistry.

    Theory is not popular as yet, being new, but it is our challenge, that anyone who spends one day with this theory would be convinced that planets govern our destiny.

    Now we are also actively looking for all those studies and challenges that were used to prove astrology wrong, so that we explain that data in light of lifescape astrology.

    theory and many examples are given at http://lifescapeastrology.com

    needless to say, that this debate would have completely different meanings say three years from now.We are very clear, that support to this will come from scientists only and it will provide cure to some problems which is not possible as of now.

    rakesh singhal

  187. #187 CJS
    May 19, 2010

    #77 – I was brought up on, among other things, the fact that up until about the mid-18th century, in Britain there were over 200 capital offenses with 7 as the minimum age for execution, making it a regular entertainment for crowds to go see 7-years-olds hanged for pickpocketing (I would imagine blessings of the clergy were involved). I certainly agree very strongly that what morality we have originates in the Enlightenment, and has been advanced by liberalism. Religious morality is the opposite of morality (and probably a few other things as well).

  188. #188 Weed Monkey
    May 20, 2010

    Oh, giggles. #186 is trying to make astrology sound somewhat science-y, while – naturally – spamming shamelessly their own web page. Which – obviously – is selling astrology charts or gems or whattafuck.

  189. #189 John Morales
    May 20, 2010

    Raghu Mani, that was very interesting and relevant.

    I guess Rakesh in the next post exemplified what you wrote! ;)

  190. #190 Ichthyic
    May 20, 2010

    Author in this article is showing a paradox.

    *looks for self-contradiction in author’s post*

    mmmm, nope.

    Whenever scientific scrutiny of astrological principles is done, correlation levels are quite poor but at the same time many people believe in this subject.

    argumentum ad populum vs. scientific experiment…

    I’ll go with the experiment, thanks.

    Actually astrology should be considered in two portions, one is the basic premise. that is planets govern the destiny ,cyclicity etc and second is predictive techniques and ability to accurately read the chart and predict the events.

    right. It has neither explanatory nor predictive power.

    and there is good probability that what you said would turn out to be correct in future.

    if i say “you will soon see the color blue”, is that an example of a good prediction, you think?

    Hell, I must be an astrologist!

    we have succeeded in developing lifescape astrology, which is more like chemistry.

    …and yet still so far away from actual chemistry that using the two words in the same sentence even is near antithetical.

    Theory is not popular as yet, being new,

    meaning you haven’t spent enough money advertising it to the rubes yet.

    Now we are also actively looking for all those studies and challenges that were used to prove astrology wrong

    says the person who probably hasn’t spent a day in a university library in their entire life.

    that this debate would have completely different meanings say three years from now.

    nope, it will still be woo, sold to rubes to rip them off of their hard-earned cash.

    sucker born every minute though, right?

    We are very clear, that support to this will come from scientists only

    LOL, sure.

  191. #191 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 20, 2010

    but it is our challenge, that anyone who spends one day with this theory would be convinced that planets govern our destiny.

    It sounds like you’re challenged to me.

    Tell me: Was astrology all messed up when Pluto ceased to be a planet? To think that the course of human history was changed by a taxonomic decision.

  192. #192 DLC
    May 20, 2010

    You guys just aren’t *framing* this discussion properly!
    Really!
    Should I add some more !!s or would that be too strident ?

  193. #193 CJS
    May 20, 2010

    It is true that the Huffington Post has a decided drivel factor (that’s why this piece caught my attention) – puffery for homeopathy, 12-step cultism, Deepak Chopra, and religion in general – I’m all for (wary) tolerance and welcome the Rev. Barry Lynn, Jim Wallis, Garry Wills, et al., but I wouldn’t put Schmuley Boteach and worse in that category. I saw a clip of a “debate” between him and Hitchens or Dawkins, his cross-eyed babbling made me want to vomit after 30 seconds.
    The HP does serve it’s purpose, however, political blogs are too dry and the never-ending KKK meeting on sites like Yahoo gets tiresome. Evidently that’s how they get away with their wrongs, I have myself as proof.

  194. #194 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    May 20, 2010

    Wouldn’t Intelligent Design really be more an argument for, I don’t know, Hermes or Loki’s roles in the creation of the world? Or possibly Osiris, or anything but god damned YHVH? Subtlety and patience aren’t exactly well established traits of The Vowelless One.

  195. #195 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    Jesus cults and astrology and scientology and snake oil and the Secret and quantum woo are the Kaposi’s sarcoma of a deeper disease?faith.

    Hm.

    Acquired Epistemic Deficiency Syndrome?

    —————-

    It forbids the king of England to enact the Magna Carta, “and the barons to demand its execution”, on pain of excommunication.

    Found it.

    Consequently, in the name of God Almighty, by the authority of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and by our Own, We reprove and condemn this Charter [the Magna Carta]; under pain of anathema We forbid the King to observe it or the barons to demand its execution. We declare the Charter null and of no effect, as well as all the obligations contracted to confirm it. It is Our wish that in no case should it have any effect.

    [Pope Innocent III (1161-1216)]

    —————-

    keeps asking for evidence of the value of atheism

    Um.

    I’ve agreed that atheism has no value, in and of itself.

    What has value is a consistent epistemology, of which atheism is simply a conclusion.

    —————-

    what was Heddle’s reaction to Servet?

    I seem to recall heddle saying that he absolutely disagreed with Calvin’s actions in that instance.

    (But that his theology had value independent of that. Or something like that.)

    —————-

    Because of alternative premise 3: we all have inalienable rights bestowed by the Creator such that not even the King can undo them.

    It’s been pointed out to you before that that’s a distortion of what the text actually says.

    Not “the” Creator.

    “Their” — or “our” — Creator. Whatever that might happen to be.

    Perfectly consonant with Deism and Pantheism. And of course, Pantheism is sexed-up atheism.

    —————

    It is kind of amusing to me to see people here people treat astrology as some kind of joke and treat creationism as a real problem. In India, the reverse would be the case!

    I had heard that in India, the “reverse” of creationism is that there are those who wish to teach that there have been intelligent, civilized humans for as long as the age of the Earth, or possibly even the universe.

  196. #196 ambulocetacean
    May 20, 2010

    Oh Jebus,

    Raghu Mani’s post #185 was informative and heartening but Rakesh’s #186 was stupid and depressing.

    I really do admire the Indian rationalists and sceptics (google them), not least because they are up against such an overwhelming Everest of millenia-old woo.

  197. #197 Colin C
    May 20, 2010

    You full moon deniers are deluding yourselves. Don’t you realise that 100% of violent crimes are committed in the week leading up to or the week after a full moon or a new moon?

    And yes, the new moon counts. When it’s a new moon for you Americans it’s a full moon in the southern hemisphere. Stands to reason: the moon doesn’t just go away, you know.

  198. #198 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    May 20, 2010

    @ambulocetacean 184

    What you need to do is differentiate between ID and creationism. ID is creationism minus context and lacking in any claims that creationism actually makes.
    It is absolutely vacuous – claiming that the universe was designed but without considering what designed it and/or how provides us with nothing of use. Even “God did it but we don’t know how” is an improvement on “Something did it but we don’t know how” but they can’t use #1 in US schools.
    Twats.

  199. #199 Youngie
    May 20, 2010

    Just briefly,

    Religion is a cultural parasite that weakens our intellectual immune system, and opens the door to lots of other opportunistic infections.

    That is brilliant. Can I use please that?

  200. #200 Youngie
    May 20, 2010

    By which I mean, of course, ‘can I please use that?’.
    Me fail English? That’s unpossible.

  201. #201 co
    May 20, 2010

    I dunno, Youngie. I thought the phrasing was perfectly cromulent.

  202. #202 nigelTheBold
    May 20, 2010

    What has value is a consistent epistemology, of which atheism is simply a conclusion.

    Owlmirror, I know this is a public forum, so this might be embarrassing for both of us, but:

    Will you marry me?

  203. #203 ambulocetacean
    May 20, 2010

    Hairy Chris #198

    Yeah, I know that Yahweh/Allah is the disingenuously unidentified “designer” in ID, and that it’s all about getting religion into schools.

    But leaving all that aside, theists who don’t believe the Genesis creation story have to believe in something like ID or TE, don’t they? Their god had to create everything somehow.

  204. #204 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 20, 2010

    Colin C #197

    And yes, the new moon counts. When it’s a new moon for you Americans it’s a full moon in the southern hemisphere. Stands to reason: the moon doesn’t just go away, you know.

    No, when it’s a full Moon anywhere on Earth it’s a full Moon everywhere on Earth (or rather, those parts of the Earth which can see the Moon). The Moon revolves around the Earth pretty much in the equatorial plane. The Moon is visible over half the Earth at any one time and it’s visible in the same phase from Antarctica to the Arctic.

  205. #205 Raghu Mani
    May 20, 2010

    @Owlmirror

    Yes it is true that some Hindus believe that the universe is trillions (yes, trillions) of years old. There are even some sects that are openly creationist – like the Hare Krishna, for example. However, none of these pose any serious threat to education in India. The biggest threat to education in India comes from Astrology.

    The threat posed by astrology in India may not be as bad as the threat posed by creationism/ID here for a couple of reasons. First, the astrology proponents aren’t trying to displace any subject from the curriculum – unlike the creationists here who are trying to get rid of evolution. Second, no one has, as of now, tried to get astrology taught in schools. The effort till now has focused on trying to get university science departments to offer bachelors and masters degrees in astrology. Still it worries a lot of academics. The BJP is out of power now but when they get back in power, they are quite likely to try again.

    – RM

  206. #206 eNeMeE
    May 20, 2010

    Ug. Biologos is still quote-mining Hawking and Hertog.

    *cries*

  207. #207 Zetetic
    May 20, 2010

    eNeMeE @ #206:

    Ug. Biologos is still quote-mining Hawking and Hertog.

    The only surprise would be if they didn’t quote-mine them.

    ——————————————————————————————————–
    As for the effect of the moon, I seem to recall a study that showed a small decrease in shipping accidents during the full-moon. The study concluded that it was due to increased light making it easier to see a potential risk at night, before an accident occurred.

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