A reasonable blog on atheism, religion, science and skepticism
Update: I created a variation: dog Is Not Great.
Funny and cute!
I’ll bypass the theology part, as a dog-hating who used to like dogs, until exposed to too many worthless dog-owners.
Letting them bark.
I plan to make signs for the piles of shit lying around, saying, “This dog has two assholes: its own, and its owner”.
Kitty shouldn’t be reading a pirated copy.
haha! where can I get a copy?
But cats actually see dogs. Or do they?
So funny!!!! jojojojojo buenísima!!
It’s time the government does something about dogs…
At least we now know Richard’s _real_ agenda ;-)
Always thought there was something cheesy around this whole “God”-thingy…
Necessity, or the claim that something must be such and cannot be otherwise. There is no logical argument to say that God/gods/whatever could not exist.
Has anyone, anywhere ever made the claim that it’s impossible for gods to exist? I’ve certainly never heard anyone claim that.
All swans we have seen are white, therefore there are not white swans. Black swan pops up, and boom–you cannot derive an absolute/universal statement from empirical evidence alone
There is no evidence that there is not an invisible, intangible dragon in my garage; but such evidence might occur in the future, therefore it is unreasonable to believe that there is no dragon in my garage; is that right?
Evidence, or, “future” evidence to support a purely physicalist/materialist/Atheist worldview:
But, wait! You were just arguing that evidence for a currently unbelieved entity might crop up in the future; now you’re saying that we can’t rely on the possibility of future evidence in deciding what we believe?
If someone could answer these claims, then I’ll become an Atheist again in any manner of social context. Until then, I think the gulf between skepticism/inquiry and Atheism is far greater than that between Atheism and religion (two parts of the same whole, perhaps?).
Why should we care what label you choose to attach to yourself? But it’s worth pointing out that you say elsewhere that you are not a theist; this means that you are an a-theist, just as something that is not edible is in-edible, regardless of how much of a philosophical disagreement it might have with its misunderstanding of that term.
“There is no logical argument to say that God/gods/whatever could not exist.”
Ah yes – the academic strawman. Jesse starts from the premise that atheists takes the position that “gods could not exist.” Then beats up “atheists” for taking that indefensible position.
This atheist doesn’t take that position, nor do most that I have met. The argument fails because of faulty assumptions.
Perhaps the argument works with a very small subset of non-believers, but I suspect you won’t find many of them here.
God, please go away. You’re posting and cross posting the same shit on different blogs, you’re pretentious and self-referential, marginally coherent at times, and you’re link mining stuff that no one cares about. And practically even admittedly trolling.
You’re obviously quite fond of yourself. Which sickens everyone else.
Isn’t that book actually by Richard Dogkins?
Huh? Richard Dawkins wrote the The God Delusion. I looked up “Dog Delusion” on Amazon and didn’t find anything.
Like Jared said, this book isn’t real. Look up “Richard Dawgins” on Google. He’s a noted atheist and scientist. Also, cats can’t read – but it’s a cute picture anyway.
I love this photo! The cat looks really amazing reading a book, he is so cute…
Get ready for Republicat’s Dog related legislation.
Here is my version. What would Jesus Read.
“Has anyone, anywhere ever made the claim that it’s impossible for gods to exist? I’ve certainly never heard anyone claim that.”=Not Atheist
“Has anyone, anywhere ever made the claim that it’s impossible for gods to exist? I’ve certainly never heard anyone claim that.”
An atheist is someone who does not believe that god exists. It is not necessarily someone who refuses to even consider the possibility that gods might exist.
I notice that you don’t actually refute the claim that no-one actually claims that gods are impossible. You just claim that all the self-identified atheists are Not Real True Atheists by you idiosyncratic definition that no-one else uses. Not terribly useful.
No, analogy. Reductio ab absurdam.
Rely? For what? Your teleological beliefs about science and some Enlightenment notion about the notion of progress?
Have you ever tried actually reading what I wrote, instead of what you think you can argue against? Have I mentioned anything about progress?
Best of all possible worlds, eh? Ever read Candide?
Yes, but not for a few years. So far, you’ve accused me of being a nihilist and a panglossian. But, no. I don’t believe we live in the best of all possible worlds. In fact, I think the fact that this is self-evidently true is a strike against an omnipresent, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity. I’m with Epicurus on that one.
Ever notice how hastily Atheists incline toward evidence that will support their view, knowing full well, as you have just admitted, that it does not exist yet?
Actually, as I’ve been repeatedly admitting, atheists incline towards the lack of evidence. The lack of evidence does exist. The lack of evidence may cease existing in the future, at which point I’ll re-analyse my beliefs. Again, try reading what I actually wrote, instead of what you want me to have written.
Good to know. Guess we can start prosecuting gun owners whose guns are future evidence of murders. Because if guns are designed to kill, then by your standards, we can presuppose the action and tie it with the reponsibility of the owner.
This is the opposite of what I’m arguing. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to stricter gun-control laws.
The correct analogy is that if there is no evidence that someone has committed a murder, we believe that they have not committed a murder, even though such evidence may be gathered in the future.
Original attribution actually belongs to b3ta: http://www.b3ta.com/board/9221096
Dog is Not Great is funnier, though!
Maaaannn…you’re asking some very big questions in a lot of different fields.
1) How do query if God exists, if we do not first establish what we mean by “God”? Whose “God”? What attributes does he/she/it have? Can we even form linguistic statements about “God”? Do such linguistic statements even have a meaning outside the ideologies which dispense them as governing rules for ulterior purposes? Frankly, as any logic/philosophy prof will say at the beginning of their course, their is no way to logically articulate God’s existence or non-existence. You can go blue arguing different sectarian variations as to the nature of such a God for the sake of argument, but then you can only argue–ad infinitum–against various sects contradictory beliefs about how what that God’s behavior would be like.
Then there’s the “pathetic fallacy” (not a derisive term): it’s questionable whether or not we can know anything without anthropocentrizing it in some way. We name our dogs, we name arbitrary geographical features which exist only temporally (ie, they erode away), we see faces on Mars, and we mark up a virtual/non-existent binary code with evidence of our beliefs, as if having them proves their existence.
You see the unresolvable, Balkanized situation this skepticism leads to. I think its important to note that such a situation does not immunize a person or society from the effects of absolutist ideologies: it engenders them.
2) Fish is addressing issues of pragmatism and philosophy of the mind: the irreducible nature of immaterial thoughts (can’t go diggin’ around in someone’s brain and find their memories, and so forth) and virtual human institutions (Popper’s “multiple world’s” hypothesis, ie, pluralism). Altruism and spontaneous moral intuition is always the counterargument to physicalist ethics, but then, in order to criticize them, you have to quantify (ie, reduce) morality and altruism. It’s a back and forth thing. If anybody has a viable solution to the current ethical split, well, Nobel baby! I like your “maybe they’re both” analogy; kinda like the wave/particle debate in physics.
Frankly, I think that 1) the insufficient evidence/provability of either a purely Theist or Atheist worldview and 2) the dichotomy in ethics and the irreducible nature of morality—these things obscure that in spite of proving either, the world goes on. Something else sustains us, despite the failings of purely descriptive and contingent philosophical positions. As yet, we have no physical “Theory of Everything.” I don’t mean that in a supernatural sense, I just take the realist view that the world is a uniform construction. Whether or not physicalists/materialists finally get their mythical evidence obscures the fact that the world is what it is apart from how we define it (hypostatisation). If a truly Atheist view is proven, what will anyone have done for the sake of so much hot-air? Life goes on; all those memories and things are still there. The real issue is time; not just how it is constructed by institutions, but in terms of a real, but unobservable mechanism. Religions, a la Heidegger, involve metaphors for time—not about a static, Newtonian, Rational universe. Subjecting them to criticism within such a context is a contradiction of what they are. What is time? What is its directionality, ie, its irreversibility? And why do chaotic, entropic physical systems (not even including biological ones) actually tend toward self-organization? These are actually observable phenomena–I’m not tacitly imposing the ‘ole intelligent design card.
I really enjoyed this comment by Jon: “Also, cats can’t read.”
The DOG is really not great.
And this delusion is right.
what i don’t get it why would the cat be reading a book? i thought it was the ‘god’ delusion. its spelled wrong, they moved the d and g around and whoever made that must be deluded because thats just not possible try and prove it. i thought dawkins just wrote science fiction creationism is way more real be saved not the cat because they serve us by the way they dont have our moral high ground because the eye is such complex bacterial flagellum that clots the blood because ray comfort didnt read the dog delusion what is there a cat delusion too i bet darwin never happened its a scam ken ham
funny..’the dog delusion’..what a hilarious title..
Daniel – you forgot to change your Biblical name when you ‘hung up the religious crutches’ you were supporting yourself with! Don’t you feel clearer? After all, it IS a polarity existence we create with here and it’s so much easier to walk the middle! Come on over to my mind, really open up!
Only in America!!
We have a “First Pet” with an impeccable Pedigree, and a “MUTT” (His words, not mine), for a President.
We know more about the birth of a dog than of our president.
We know more about the lineage of a dog than of our President.
Only in America. OOPS! That should be “..Only in The United Socialist States of America.”
If you have faith in the ability of cats to read, then for you, they can read.
You and John C. should get together and go bowling.
“The problem with religion (including Christianity) is that it’s easier than following Jesus.”
Yes, I know what you mean. When I was still a “follower of Christ” I set out on a quest to find the “actual Jesus” so that I could follow him without all the religious garbage getting in the way
Imagine my consternation when I slowly realized that Christians were responsible for EVERYTHING I knew about Jesus. His divinity, his ministry, his commandments, it all came to us from GENTILE converts, via Pauline Christianity, via Catholicism.
If you don’t accept the authority of the PHYSICAL Christian church, Jesus disappears, like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Now I’m a firm agnostic, and you can’t prove I’m wrong, lol. ;)
References: “A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1” by John P. Meier
“Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary” by Marcus Borg.
I’m reading this at the moment. Well, not the Dog Delusion, the other one. Also an ex-christian venturing into life without the delusion.
Great Picture!, he is barely read half of the book, and what a face!
Ill use this image in an article about atheists behaviour.
As a cat lover this post really made my day…LOL
umm, I’m new in Christian, can you tell me the real thing to do as a Jesus Followers?
The cat (kitten) needs to be in a litter box, reading Dawkins.
I know when I think of Dawkins, I have to poop.
Hm. Let’s see where I fit into your “real Jesus Follower” definitions.
1) I accept that a good chunk of the Bible is figurative. It’s not intended to be a science book. Never was.
2) If I had to state my beliefs, I’d let the Nicene Creed say it more eloquently than I could. On other points, I accept that not every “real Jesus Follower” believes exactly as I do.
3) I pray for things both tangible and intangible. If the tangible things don’t happen, I have to trust that there’s a reason why. When they do — and they have — I remember to say “Thank you.”
4) I see no conflict between free will on our part and omnipotence on God’s, and that’s not for a lack of examining the topic. I also see no conflict between science and the, for lack of a better word, supernatural. (The people who see a conflict, I believe, do so because their concept of God is too small.) I have to wonder where this technology is that could verify the appearance of God, though.
5) I think the idea of a 6,000-year-old universe is impossible on its face. There’s too much evidence for a far greater age (a position a large number of Christians hold, by the way, but I think it might put a dent in your stereotype to acknowledge that.) I don’t believe the universe sprang up without a First Cause, though. Where there is an object, there was a process set in motion to cause that object to come into existence.
6) I think most, if not all, Christian t-shirts and bumper stickers are smug, showy and antithetical to the faith they’re supposed to be advancing. God is not my co-pilot and Jesus is not my homeboy. Then there’s the issue of, “Why did this person wearing the ‘3 Nails + 1 Cross = 4Given’ shirt just spend fifteen minutes tearing down someone who’s not in the room?”
7) Love my Newsboys, love my King Crimson. Love my Rainmakers, love U2. (Never much of one for Bill Gaither, though. Just a preference.)
8) The fact that we even exist is scientific evidence for a God who thought up the laws of physics, genetics and thermodynamics.
9) (Bonus response) I believe that oversimplification of an opposing belief only makes the oversimplifier look silly. I wouldn’t want it done to my beliefs, so I shouldn’t do it to others’ beliefs, nonbelief, disbelief or unbelief.
What, would you say, does that make me?
Shouldn’t the author be “Richard Pawkins”?
Am thoroughly enjoying reading all your posts.. :) Have a good day!
“There are even now deep questions about the origins of the universe that we don’t have answers to now though it is possible we may be able to answer some of them in the future.”
“But the inability of science to provide answers to these questions does not prove that religious faith, tradition, or an ancient holy text has the ability to answer them.”
That’s a false dilemma and a misconstruction of religion.
Bertran Russell’s analogy attempts to use empirical induction to derive essential, necessary truth.
White swan fallacy.
Have fun with science as an end in itself! (But, your still gonna die. It’s worth thinking about.)
The Atheist Delusion:
Daily blog posts deriding the beliefs of people of faith, without ever admitting your own…
So, it’s wrong to talk to my dog because he doesn’t even exist?
What a delusion! And I thought my (personal) dog was real.
You argue that God does not exist.
Yet, you cannot prove that he does not exist.
You are neither all-knowing, nor are you omnipresent.
If you were, you would be like God.
You have to admit that God could exist in a place you are not (you are not omnipresent and cannot be everywhere at once)
Also, you have to admit that He could exist outside of your limited sphere of knowledge (you are not all-knowing)
So, you cannot prove, “God does not exist” for He could exist outside of your limited sphere of knowledge, and outside of your limited sphere of presence.
Also, you cannot prove the existence of evil.
You agree there are no absolutes?
If there are no absolutes…there are no standards to measure what we call good and evil.
My standard is different than yours. What I call evil, you may call good. What I call good, you may call evil.
And, if I am doing my good (your evil), and you don’t like it…what are you going to do? Encroach on my freedom to do as I please? Are you going to tell me what to do, and how to live?
If you try to stop me from doing my good (your evil) you are guilty of forcing your views on me, and trying to convert me to your way of thinking.
And then you become just like every other religion out there, trying to force others to their way of thinking.
Nice going. You have become the very thing you despise.
Dialectic of Enlightenment, folks. Atheism may be a response to religion, but it fails something tough when it is forced to articulate a coherent philosophical view (that does not gain extra credit by shifting the burden to Theists, or calling them names). Philosophy (ie, skepticism) has very little to do with Atheism, nor does it necessitate it.
(read the comments)
Hey very good ..:.
“Atheism is not a “response to religion.” It is the default stance, and doesn’t necessitate any kind of philosophy.”
Umm…look at your dictionary:
Merriam-Webster: Atheism, the theory or belief that God does not exist. From the Greek atheos – a (without) + theos (god)
So, your statement is wrong. Atheism is by nature a kind of philosophy.
Or you use a different dictionary.
Maybe you are re-defining the word Atheist in your own worldview.
That is your right (your good)
Just don’t force that view on others!
It’s the biggest joker of the world! but I like the cat that reading the book. hahaha :)
God does exist. He now resides in Washington D.C, Pennsylvania Avenue. How do I know He’s God?
God has no Birth Certificate, neither does “HE.” God speaks and the heavens tremble. “HE” speaks, and the DOW tumbles.
Dance, dance, dance, We like to dance…
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. As none of the religions can provide proof, their claims are unfounded and not worthy of belief.
1) You know, even I could make atheists look stupid by talking to the dumb ones, putting all their answers together and making it seem like they’re all idiotic, childish, and don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.
2) Even if evolution is true, that doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a hand in it. I mean, do you think it’s just ‘natural’ for things to evolve so perfectly, even the tiniest things like leaves?
3) Why do you assume that Christians/Catholics are all like the ones you talk to/hear about/ see on TV? (refer to #1)
“Are you really that desensitized?”
What the hell does this even mean?
Why are all the crazy people coming out for this topic?
The birthers, the people who think this is a real book instead of a joke, the fundamentalists, etc…
I want to pull my hair out at some of these comments!
Can I be a trolly ass and ask folks to re-direct their claims to answer those in a related blog post? I mean just one or two interested parties is all it’d take. I don’t have the time to respond immediately, so a comprehensive sharing of the usual ad hominems is best…j/k.
Man, you new wave of Godbotters are frustrating as hell.
I’ve read these threads, and you guys just keep saying the same thing, and just don’t get that you aren’t getting it.
The only thing that ALL atheists have in common is that we don’t believe in God.
The specifics and conditions pertaining to that belief are different for every single atheist. The majority are conditional atheists, willing to fall down and worship if given reason (actual evidence, and not legends and myths).
Now, you can repeat the same ignorance you’ve been repeating again in response to me if you want, but that wont get us anywhere. You don’t have it all figured out, sorry, and until you accept that you’ll never get anywhere in this mind numbing thread.
“I know it might seem offensive to be identified as such, but the concept is a very useful tool for analyzing Atheism and Theism alike, among many other cultural binaries.”
Ah, I see why you did not acknowledge my statement about being an agnostic instead of an atheist. False dichotomies all around, lol!
“Man, you new wave of Godbotters are frustrating as hell.”
Why should they frustrate you? Does it matter?
Let them believe what they want. They won’t change you.
“The only thing that ALL atheists have in common is that we don’t believe in God.”
What is that supposed to mean? Believe? In God(s)? Does that signify he exists, but you don’t acknowledge him?
Or that he does no exist…and you could care less?
Oh, man that’s funny. That’s actually on my list of “new” fallacies and rhetorical strategies:
pose a false dilemma between religion and Atheism, and assume that anyone who contradicts you is a Theist.
Classic. Take a philosophy course.
Dernit…supposed to be ‘”new” *Atheist* fallacies’. Can’t tell I rushed that one!
Looks like the cat has pretty much decided to ignore the obvious that dogs do exist, or at least that it is likely they do. Maybe he has just never been exposed to a dog and so therefore is making sweeping generalizations.
Play the victim when exposed.
This is seriously almost word for word from something I already wrote.
It’s not insulting to question one’s credentials when they vindicate the question. The books informing and composing “new” Atheism/Atheists are pseudo-philosophy; ie, another philosophy of truthiness. Formal philosophy is completely different than its common connotation as vague axioms. So-called “new” Atheists pretend to speak from a position of prominence which does not exist. Calling them on it is hardly some kind of attack.
Very Happy.. The title is How kill the dog By Tarantino… Jeje
This is a Hot Community Post? C’mon WordPress
I would characterize the problems of Atheism as such:
1) Necessity, or the claim that something must be such and cannot be otherwise. There is no logical argument to say that God/gods/whatever could not exist. You can throw empirical evidence at it, but that commits the white swan fallacy: All swans we have seen are white, therefore there are not white swans. Black swan pops up, and boom–you cannot derive an absolute/universal statement from empirical evidence alone. Most Atheist *believe* they can make the necessary statement that God does not and could not exist, but in most cases only because they do not understand the logical strength of necessity.
2) Evidence, or, “future” evidence to support a purely physicalist/materialist/Atheist worldview:
3) The cultural context of “new” Atheism: subject to argument, but using Adorno’s work (or merely some of its ideas), Fredric Jameson’s work, Zizec, and many others, the argument can be made that “new” Atheism is completely distinct from any coherent Atheist philosophy (save Daniel C. Dennett, perhaps), that the cultural conditions which create it take an overwhelming precedent over any Atheist/humanist project (ie, Atheism as a means to an end, merely a political/social lever), that it assumes a telos of science (in spite of Merleau-Ponty’s points about the limits of scientific reduction, the “bad-faith” concept of the existentialists (deriding religion, funny or not = bad faith), Popper’s arguments for indeterminism and the open universe, Ilya Progogine’s arguments for indeterminism, Quantum Mechanics, pragmatism…).
“…now you’re saying that we can’t rely on the possibility of future evidence in deciding what we believe?”
Rely? For what? Your teleological beliefs about science and some Enlightenment notion about the notion of progress? Best of all possible worlds, eh? Ever read Candide? Ever notice how hastily Atheists incline toward evidence that will support their view, knowing full well, as you have just admitted, that it does not exist yet? Good to know. Guess we can start prosecuting gun owners whose guns are future evidence of murders. Because if guns are designed to kill, then by your standards, we can presuppose the action and tie it with the reponsibility of the owner.
Thanks for expanding upon your claims and giving some specific reasons for your assertions.
I will attempt to respond to your claims.
1) Necessity: “the claim that something must be such and cannot be otherwise.” “There is no logical argument to say that God/gods/whatever could not exist.”
I think it is important that we avoid talking past each other, so let’s establish what we’re trying to determine. Are you trying to establish anything? Or are you just refuting a claim that no gods or god exists?
Let’s deal with the different types of gods. First, we have to differentiate between an interventionist god and a non-interventionist god or gods.
Certainly it would almost entirely impossible to prove that a non-interventionist god did not exist.
However, there is, at least for me, a strong difference between “a god” and the “God” to which most people refer in casual conversation.
I perceive the term “God” as an interventionist concept of a deity. Of course, this popular conception is probably influenced by cultural factors, previous religious traditions, etc.
Am I am an atheist to both the interventionist god(s) and the non-interventionist gods? Am I a strong atheist or a weak atheist?
I feel that something is being lost in this exchange already.
There do appear to be logical arguments to demonstrate that certain concepts of a certain kind of god or gods should not exist.
For me, I analyze the situation god by god and problem by problem. What is the best explanation?
I consider myself to be an honest seeker.
We have a multitude of religions and a multitude of “god” concepts. Even within specific religions such as Christianity, there is still a multitude of “god” concepts. The Orthodox “god”, the Calvinist “god”, the Catholic “god”, the Episcopalian “god”, the Mormon “god”…what is “god”?
Is “god” a good descriptor? Is it practical? Is it useful?
Is there anything in the world that only corresponds to a supernatural explanation?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that based on the slew of gods which have fallen out of favor, that religion has often been a cultural and social and psychological construct — not a divine essence. And all the evidence I can find confirms for me that many people’s current religious beliefs are as human a construct as any religious perception of the ancients.
Sure, I can’t disprove that there isn’t a god or gods, especially of the non-interventionist variety. But can I determine that the current conceptions of god(s) are human constructs? There are plenty of logical arguments which can demonstrate this.
That is why I am an atheist toward all of the gods (of which we are aware now, and which we have been aware in the past.)
The signs on the buses should say, there probably are no gods. There’s probably no Zeus, no Thor, no Yahweh, no Allah, no Krishna, no Shiva or no “Great Spirit”.
There’s probably no soul, either.
2) Evidence: your article says that “moral intuitions are not reducible to physical processes”.
Of course, if you believe that moral intuitions are either physical processes OR supernatural, then sure, you have a good point.
But what if you’ve presented us with a false dichotomy?
What if moral intuitions are social constructs as well as physical processes? What if morality is irreducible to physical processes because it is a complex, evolving system largely outside of the specific physical processes of individuals, but changing within the larger contexts of tribes, societies, and other social groups?
I am still not convinced that altruism cannot be accounted for without a supernatural explanation.
Also, the article asserts that Dawkins and Harris have a faith in the scientific method which parallels religious belief patterns of blind faith.
There are at least two important differences, Jesse:
1. Religious believers have faith in specific conclusions, not in the method. The predominant method of the religious believer to attain conclusions is revelation, yet revelation brings wildly different conclusions. Of course, the scientific method can also bring wildly different conclusions, and that is a fair criticism.
However, that brings us to #2:
2. Science is willing to update itself when new evidence brings itself to bear against old notions.
Religion is not. Religion does not even have an effective method to accomplish this transformational change.
Does revelation establish for the type of verification which is the hallmark of science?
Ask Joseph Smith what the other Christians thought about his Mormon ideas. Ask Guru Nanak what many of the Hindus and Muslims thought about his Sikh ideas. Ask Martin Luther what the Roman Catholic church thought about his ideas for a Reformation.
Innovation is not welcomed in religion, largely because the major method of religion, revelation, is a poor indicator of whether something is verified. It is not really objective, nor does it try to be.
Maybe Harris and Dawkins do put too much faith in the scientific method, but the scientific method is much better at verification and is much better at finding things out about the world than religious methods.
What method would you use, and why?
Also, the writer of the article implies that he “does not find the argument of natural selection” plausible. What does he mean by that statement?
Did you know that scientists have to re-engineer the flu vaccine every year? It’s true, but the different strains of the flu *evolve*. That’s also why you have bacteria that are increasingly resistant to certain types of drugs.
And as the article addresses, it’s nice that there are traditions of reasoning in Jewish and Christian faith traditions. Really, that’s a good thing, but it’s not always evident in the actions of believers.
The article further asserts that “any form of thought is an inextricable mix of both; faith and reasons come together in an indissoluble package.”
This is not entirely accurate. There is a false definition of faith: the type of faith based on the accuracy of a process and the accuracy of conclusions is conflated with the blind faith which requires no evidence nor seeks any evidence.
There is more than one viable definition of the word “faith”, and the author of this article abuses and confuses the readers badly.
3) I’m not arguing for or against “new” atheism because I’m not even sure what you’re talking about, but hopefully if you’ve read my response up to this point and taken it seriously with an open mind, you’ll begin to see some of what I am saying.
I hope this helps you. I hope we can keep this discussion going.
If aliens are watching our planet, they will think that dogs are a superior species because humans follow them around picking up their poop!
The problem with religion (including Christianity) is that it’s easier than following Jesus.
The picture is hilarious, I’ll probably use it (with credit given where credit is due). Imagine me linking Unreasonable Faith. We live in interesting times.
Science and Religion
Science is different from religion. It does not pretend that it knows everything. There are even now deep questions about the origins of the universe that we don’t have answers to now though it is possible we may be able to answer some of them in the future.
But the inability of science to provide answers to these questions does not prove that religious faith, tradition, or an ancient holy text has the ability to answer them. Science cannot prove that God does not exist, but this in no way establishes that God exists. There are millions of things whose lack of existence cannot be established.
The philosopher Bertrand Russell had an analogy. Imagine that there is a teapot in orbit around the sun. It is impossible to prove that the teapot does not exist because it is too small to be detected by our telescopes. Nobody but a crazy person would say, “Well, I’m prepared to believe in the teapot because I cannot establish that it doesn’t exist.” This means that maybe we have to be technically agnostics, but really we are all atheists about teapots with orbits around the sun.
But now let us suppose that everybody in our society including our teachers and the sages of our tribes all had faith in a teapot that orbits the sun. Let us also suppose that stories of the teapot have come down to us for many generations as one of the traditions of our own society and there are ancient holy texts about the teapot. In this case people would say that a person who did not believe in the teapot is eccentric or mad.
There are infinite numbers of things like celestial teapots whose lack of existence we are unable to establish. There are fairies, for example, and there are unicorns and goblins. We cannot prove that any of these creatures of the imagination do not exist in reality. But we don’t believe they exist, just as we don’t believe that the gods of the Scandinavians, for example, have any true existence.
We are all atheists about almost all of the gods created by societies in the past. Some of us, however, take the ultimate step of believing that the god of the Jews and the Christians, like the gods of the Greeks and the Egyptians, also do not exist.
The following is a version of this message in Interlingua. If you want to find out more about interlingua, go to my blog, “Interlingua multilingue.”
Le scientia es differente del religion. Illo non pretende que illo sape toto. Il ha etiam nunc questiones profunde sur le origines del universo al quales nos nunc non ha responsas ben que il es possible que nos potera responder a alicunes de illos in le futuro.
Ma le incapacitate del scientia de provider responsas a iste questiones non proba que le fide religiose, le tradition, o un texto sancte e ancian pote responder a illos. Le scientia non pote probar que Deo non existe, ma isto non establi de ulle maniera que Deo existe. Il ha milliones de cosas cuje existentia non pote esser establite.
Le philosopho Bertrand Russell habeva un analogia. Imagina que il ha un theiera in orbita circum le sol. Il es impossibile probar que le theiera non existe proque illo es troppo parve pro esser detegite per nostre telescopios. Nemo excepte un folle dicerea, “Multo ben, io es preparate a creder in le theiera proque io non pote establir que illo non existe.” Isto significa que forsan nos debe esser technicamente agnosticos, ma vermente nos es omnes atheistas sur theieras con orbitas circum le sol.
Ma que nos nunc suppone que omnes in nostre societate includente nostre professores e le sagios de nostre tribos habeva fide in un theiera que orbita le sol. Que nos anque suppone que historias del theiera ha venite usque nos trans multe generationes como un del traditiones de nostre proprie societate e que il ha textos sancte ancian sur le theiera. In iste caso le gente dicerea que un persona qui non credeva in le theiera es eccentric o folle.
Il ha numeros infinite de cosas como theieras celestial cuje manco de existentia nos non pote establir. Il ha fees, pro exemplo, e il ha unicornios e gnomos. Nos non pote probar que iste creaturas del imagination non existe in le realitate. Ma nos non crede que illos existe exactamente como nos non crede que le deos del Scandinavos, pro exemplo, ha ulle existentia ver.
Nos es omnes atheistas sur quasi omne le deos create per societates in le passato. Alicunes de nos tamen prende le ultime passo de creder que le deo del judaeos e del christianos, como le deos del grecos e le egyptianos, anque non existe.
Harleigh Kyson Jr.
jesse: (But, your still gonna die. It’s worth thinking about.)
Another illusion shattered!
You’re saying that to push your own agenda.
This is like shootin’ fish in a barrel; ‘cept the fish jump right in your lap, no bait of nothing:
“The Rhetorical Strategems of “New” Atheism”:
“1) Presume you are only debating an American fundamentalist Christian audience; if they are not, characterize them as such.
2) Make no appeals to the wider democratic and philosophical context in which you have to answer for your claims, because you haven’t considered that whatsoever. [2/28: one excellent example of this and probably the rest of these points; moreso the comments than anything]
3) March out the usual straw men and tired anti-religious demagoguery to take the focus off the inherent flaws of your position; focus on shifting the burden to Christians like a big brother who won’t do his chores, or a child abusing defenseless animals.”
Come on, guys, I know there’s skeptics out there–you don’t see the meaning in these patterns?
Because they wouldn’t have anything to do with you or because your views are exceptional? Only people with very little experience in philosophy have such an image of it.
Jesse: You said to me the following things:
Bertrand Russell’s analogy attempts to use empirical induction to derive essential, necessary truth.
Have fun with science as an end in itself! (But, your still gonna die. It’s worth thinking about.)
I have some further comments:
You said that it is teleology to maintain that though we don’t have knowledge of many things relating to the universe, we may find out about them later on.
Yes, of course, this is goal-seeking activity. But what do you mean by saying that it is goal-seeking activity? This seems to be an utterly trivial statement like saying that water flows downhill.
The inability of science to answer certain questions does not mean that religion can answer them. This is not a false dilemma. It merely says that religion may or may not be able to answer them. I think, however, that religion will most likely never be able to answer them because religious writings are largely artifacts of irrational human imaginations (often psychotic ones!) and are largely based on vacuous reifications. (In other words, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost do not exist at all–the way the gods of now dead religions do not exist except as printed words in the books describing these religious fossils.)
Many people–especially philosophers and theologians–forget that just because you can coin new words you are not necessarily creating new realities. Just because I can say that there are green-cheese factories on the far side of the moon that were built by aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy does not mean that these things actually exist, though it is possible to observe the moon closely enough to definitively establish that they don’t. Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify or falsify the existence of God. This makes the entire concept his/her/its possible existence utterly meaningless.
I don’t know what you mean by the “white swan fallacy.” Bertrand Russell merely constructed a very useful analogy of the teapot orbiting the sun to say that though we can’t prove that the teapot does not exist because our telescopes are not powerful enough to detect such a teapot, this does not mean that we should conclude that it may exist or it may not exist. It means that it would be completely irrational to conclude that it has any kind of existence at all because it is obviously a construct of human imagination the way theological ideas are.
By the way, a lot of the ideas of philosophy are nothing more than vacuous reifications, such as Hegel’s “Absolute” and that mysterious place in the universe that holds Plato’s forms of the quintessential nature of everything. A lot of philosophical ideas are completely lacking in what John Dewey liked to call “cash value.”
One other thing: I am seventy years old and will die fairly soon. I know that once I am brain dead I will not have the means even of knowing whether I am dead or alive. Nothing of my personality will exist. And while I am afraid of possibly dying painfully, I am not at all afraid of being dead. I won’t feel anything and won’t even be aware that I am dead. And before all that long no one on this planet will be aware that I am dead. And really, I don’t give a damn!
Regarding our Judeo-Christian culture:
While many Christians deny this, we as a species have been on this planet for about 100,000 maybe 200,000 years. Judeo-Christianity has been around for only 2,000 years or so.
Now I ask you: How did we manage to survive all those tens of thousands of years without the services of people like Moses and Christ?
All these people, most likely, invented innumerable thousands of religions, most of them carried down by oral tradition until their tribes died off or were merged with other tribes. And while there is some archeological evidence that these religions existed (in pictures on ancient pottery, for example), there is no way of knowing about any of them in detail.
Now note this: Moses is most likely a mythological figure who had no historical existence. Archeological evidence strongly indicates that the Exodus never took place.
The historical existence of Christ is testified to only in the New Testament and perhaps by one or two other ancient writers outside of these ancient texts, making his very existence itself at least questionable.
How on earth did our ancestors manage to survive without the benefit of being “saved” by the death of Christ for “original sin”? (These very concepts, I am convinced, are utterly incoherent!)
Harleigh and LRA, appreciating your posts, thanks! I must admit to barely tolerating philosophy in its various forms, but I appreciate your input.
I am fascinated by mathematics and cognition, though; so I have to pay at least a little attention.
Regarding Quine, one of my favorite books is “Godel Escher Bach”, by Douglas Hofstadter. In it he using “Quining” to represent self-reproducing code. Through quines Godel’s incompleteness theorem has is expressed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quine's_paradox
““Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation” yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.”
While this may seen like navel gazing, this was one of the many reasons I realized that not only didn’t the Bible contain the final and absolute truth, it’s simply COULDN’T, as a fundamental aspect of nature.
While this doesn’t mean that meaningful statements aren’t possible, it does mean that every statement is limited, and that every system of sufficient complexity is capable of producing falsehoods.
I see a lot of theists use this to brow-beat their opposition into admitting that they might be wrong, only to then triumphantly proclaim the absolute nature of their own theistic worldview.
The ol’ bait and switch, if you will.
I just looked up the white swan fallacy. Since most swans are white, it is natural to assume that all swans are white until you discover a black one.
Everyone who has studied just a little bit knows that inductive reasoning is only probabilistic and that Galileo’s laws of mechanics, to take one example, are merely probabilities.
Some probabilities, however, approach certainty. Instead of being 0.1, they are 0.9999999999999999…. It is because of such high probabilities that we have been able to explore the surface of Mars and Titan.
Theological constructs and the arguments supporting them, since they are strictly language based and are built on highly abstract vocabularies and what are most likely vacuous reifications whose probabilities of existence are as low as 0.0000000…1, can be pretty safely discarded as utter bullshit.
Someday…. that dog is going to jump up and bite you in the butt.
Some notes on language and religion:
Language evolved in our remote past, and no one knows exactly when or exactly how, or whether it evolved only once or at different times in our history. It is also possible that Neanderthal Man and even Homo erectus spoke some form of language, though there is no way of verifying this one way or the other.
Language gave us survival advantages as we evolved because it enabled us to cooperate more effectively in hunting and food gathering and in organizing war parties to fight off other tribes of people who wanted to steal our food.
Language works best in the kinds of concrete contexts like the ones I have just listed. It is much less useful in more abstract contexts, where it is possible to say things like “Scrupulous fairness is the essence of all systems of justice.” Statements like these come close to being empty manipulations of syntax, such as “Indentulous snarf is the bickle of all braxitations of exprimatiousness.”
It has been said by some linguists that we do not speak languages. They are independent and largely closed systems and really speak themselves through us (they are not completely closed, otherwise Latin would never have produced the Romance languages).
The largely autonomous nature of language becomes very obvious in the two examples of vague sentences that I constructed above. It seems that Wittgenstein was aware of this independent nature of language but for some reason abandoned it late in his career.
When language first emerged, people did not have much technological control over their surroundings. No one likes to feel powerless, of course, and inventing religions was an obvious way for us to feel more powerful as we confronted an indifferent and often hostile environment.
Religions also became a very useful way for smart people to control a culture to get people to do what they wanted them to do and to make themselves wealthy in the process, as a history of the Roman Catholic church so starkly reveals. It still is, as anyone watching TV evangelists can readily see.
Western Europeans are acutely aware of the suffering religious competition caused them throughout their history, and that is why they are abandoning it in larger and larger numbers. Unfortunately, in the United States, many of our original colonists were religious fanatics, and we have been much less affected by the French Enlightenment (there is no conflict between evolutionists and creationists in Europe, for example).
Because human existence is much more precarious in the Third World than it is in the first, religion has a greater grip on third-world cultures. We can look forward to the massive emregence of a large variety of religions if we are stupid enough to bomb ourselves back into the stone age with a new world war.
After posting my comments on language and religion, I came across another example of the kind of marginally meaningful sentences that are so dear to philosophers: “Monogeneity would always be a mystification in the history of culture.” This one was written by Derrida.
Noam Chomsky once characterized “Grammatology” as being nothing but gibberish. I wonder whether Derrida returned the compliment in an evaluation of “Syntactic Structures.”
I would recommend that every high-school senior or college freshman read the English historian Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals.” It will give them a very healthy skepticism about the humanities and social sciences. I especially enjoyed his biographical sketches of Sartre and Freud.
Even those of you who have already been through the academic mill should enjoy reading it, though I expect that if you do you will be sorry that you had not read it in high school or in your freshman year.
Francis Fukuyama, an American public intellectual, wrote a book titled “The End of History” shortly after the Soviet Union fell apart. He believed that the world would settle into a eternally happy and prosperous period of globalization after the Cold War under the benign leadership of the United States. I am sure that now, after 9/11, he wishes that he had never written and published this book.
I am not sure whether Paul Johnson is still alive, but I have the feeling that he would be inclined to include Fukuyama in a future edition of “Intellectuals.”
One possibly final note: Robin Fox, in his book “Encounter with Anthropology,” said “All cultures are massive con jobs.”
Here is a website giving a biographical sketch and listing some of his books: [http://www.robinfoxbooks.com/pages/biography.htm].
Here is a list of his books copied from this site:
Kinship and Marriage The Imperial Animal Encounter with Anthropology The Tory Islanders The Red Lamp of Incest The Search for Society Reproduction and Succession The Challenge of Anthropology Conjectures and Confrontations The Passionate Mind
You will notice that “Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible” is not listed here.
I don’t know whether this is a complete list or not. I will continue searching further. If I find anything out, I’ll upload another post later on.
I invite you to do the same.
“Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible” was written by a Robin Lane Fox, born in 1946.
The Robin Fox who wrote “Encounter with Anthropology” was born in 1934.
While I can’t be completely sure that these sources I casually picked up on the Internet are accurate, I am about 90% sure that we are dealing with two different people here.
Here’s something I found elsewhere on the Internet about the sale of indulgences, an old con which Pope RATzinger has decided to revive. It may be useful for starting another thread.
Buy your way to Heaven! The Catholic Church brings back indulgences
By Jason Cochran
These days, you can get a deal on anything. Even salvation! Pope Benedict has announced that his faithful can once again pay the Catholic Church to ease their way through Purgatory and into the Gates of Heaven.
Never mind that Martin Luther fired up the Reformation because of them: Plenary Indulgences are back.
The New York Times reports that even though the church officially broke with the age-old practice — you do something good, and the Church will help absolve you — in 1960, the Pope has quietly reintroduced it. The Catholic Church had technically banned the practice of selling indulgences as long ago as 1567.
As the Times points out, a monetary donation wouldn’t go amiss toward earning an indulgence. It writes, “charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one.” You can even buy indulgences this way for loved ones who are already dead, greasing their way to Heaven by doing something for the Church here on Earth.
Why would the Catholic Church agree to this reversal? It wouldn’t be the harsh economy, would it, or the church’s fading influence? Not at all, says a Brooklyn bishop. “Because there is sin in the world,” he told the newspaper.
Reformation? What Reformation?
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