Sponsored by God

A Times post by Carol Sarler entitled “Enough religion. Stop shoving it down our throats” made the point that, although religious belief and practice have all but died out in the UK,
(“At the moment, there are in Britain more practising anglers than practising Anglicans”) religious issues are constantly in the media. In a context that assumes that we should all respect the faiths of anyone who has one.

Good manners today disallow the questioning of a man’s belief as sternly as they disallow jokes about it and to offend by either means may be, at least, a sacking offence or, at most, a matter of law. It has become a sine qua non of courteous interaction that those of us without a religious bone in our bodies must defer to those who have, and even determined antitheists are to hush our mouths lest we “cause offence” (in vain might we cry of the offence that we often feel).

Another Times blog on the same date (well, OK, it was 13 September, but there’s only so much effort you can put into keeping up with religion blogs and the Times correspondents are all too bloody reasonable to inspire rants) by Ruth Gledhill had the title “Save our Soldiers from Religion”. Talking about a North Korean complaint that religion is spreading like a cancer through its forces, Ruth Gledhill says:

Don’t delude yourself that it couldn’t happen here. Carol Sarler…. is by no means a lone voice in bewailing the manifold sins and wickedness of religion in the UK. Sarler and Dawkins should take note of the apparent truth that nothing propels a religion, in particular Christianity, to success like persecution.

(Ruth Gledhill goes on to print out an anti-religious diatribe from a supposed official North Korean military manual, linking it, in an uncharacteristically bizarre aside, to the McCanns. I am going to ignore that, out of politeness, because it doesn’t make logical sense.*)

I had to follow the link to the Open Doors Prayer Campaign for North Korea.

The goal is to have at least 1,008 prayer warriors, who each pray for ten minutes a week.

This Campaign has a website with a calendar applet that actually lets you choose the day of the week on which you will pray for North Korea. You click on a big time slot to open another set of timeslots so you can zero in on the EXACT ten minutes in which you will pray for North Korea. How modern and convenient. Plus you pick the US state you’ll be praying in. I don’t think that Korea is actually in there.

The theology underlying this is gawp-inducing.

I may have had a few snide words to say in the past about a God who will award success in pseudo-athletic events like World’s Strongest Man or such spiritually-demanding awards as the Oscars to his most fervent sycophants. (And contemptuously reject the prayers of the losers, of course.)

But, blimey, this is a God who will only intervene in the affairs of a whole nation if enough people pick out preset geographically-specific praying time-slots.

Is this a new God I haven’t heard of? It’s not the old Testament God. He’d be smiting the unbelievers and have done with it. Surely the North Koreans themselves would have to offer up their first-born sons? It can’t be the New Testament God because he doesn’t seem to do much except sacrifice his own first-born son. I could name dozens of other deities but none of them seem to have behaved like that.

It’s a new God of the Marketplace who drives a really hard bargain for his interventions. (But, it’s not Mammon or any of the gold-loving gods because this one only gets paid in prayers. )

I just don’t have the imagination to be a theist. I could never come up with the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise etc being who would act like a bastard unless you did silly things to appease him all the time.

(*A good comment on Ruth Gledhill’s Times blog took up the point about the spread of extremist religions in other armed forces.

Speaking of soldiers and religion.
There is an ongoing religious war within all layers of the USA military too.
A war being conducted by fundamentalist Christian “true believers” with their binary “certainties” against quite literally, everyone else. Those who arent religious, those who are religious but not Christian, and those who are Christian but much more liberal and ecumenical in their outlook on things altogether.
This war has its approval, and even backing, from within high levels of the Bush administration–perhaps even the prez himself. It is also very much related to the end-time (armageddon) cultural script that mis-informs USA politics in the Middle East and USA politics altogether. The politics (or rather psychosis) of the coming “rapture”.


Commenting on Comments

I was not planning to do a post on the nonsense being spouted by the comments on the John Humphrys article over on the Times Online (see previous post), but the idiocy and madness some of them presented couldn’t be ignored. Please forgive me, Zeus.

In no particular order we get this wonder from “Timothy” in Ross-on-Wye:

Christianity can be tested by whether the Resurrection occurred or not (1 Cor15). Secular and hostile sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Talmud and the Toledoth Jeshu testify of the crucifixion of Jesus and the empty tomb. That blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side indicates heart failure and we can be certain He was dead. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead where is His body? The disciples started proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem where the Priests could have produced the body if they knew where it was, ending Christianity. Why would the disciples steal Jesus’ body?

Blimey, where do I start. First off, shall we look at motivation? The disciples had a vested interest in Jesus’ body not being found, so there is motive for them to ensure the priests didn’t know where the body was.

More interestingly shall we look at the witnesses (Secular and Hostile sources)? For example, Tacitus was born in about AD56 (56CE for purists) and is unlikely to have travelled to the middle east until around AD76 (or 76CE if you prefer). Even allowing for some major errors on the date of Jesus’ birth, it is unlikely that Tacitus was around to see the event and if anything, he is repeating a secondary or tertiary source. Lucian is even more removed as it was around AD125 (125 CE) he was born. Josephus has potential, being born around AD37 (37 CE), but that is stretching things.

So basically this discounts the secular sources as evidence. The Toledoth Jeschu is equally flawed as it was written around the second century after Jesus was supposed to have been born – again this means it is the result of secondary or tertiary sources AT BEST. I will ignore the Talmud because I don’t know it well enough to comment on how it describes Jesus’ life.

From “D Walsh” in Skipton we get:

For the intellectually honest, atheism is also a matter of faith. It is difficult to prove a negative. There is no absolute proof of the non-existence of god(s), though the lack of proof for his/her/their existence is suggestive. Atheism is therefore a belief, rather than a lack of it.

This is a tired old argument. Lack of belief is not a belief unless you have the preconceived idea that the thing being believed about exists. For example, if I chose to believe the keyboard under my fingers right now didn’t exist, this would be an item of faith. While it is unprovable, I have met no (sane) adults who believes that Faeries do not swap children at night. Atheism is not a matter of faith. Ever.

“Virginia” in Australia writes:

The atheist are the stupid ones. They refused to believe that they will burn in hell for all eternity. There is really no point in trying to convince these people as they are the minority as God puts the belief in us when we were created. That is why there are very few geniune atheist if the truth were known. The physical body dies but the spirit lives forever. So everyone has eternal life, it is where you will spend it. Imagine a world full of atheist? There will be no accountability charity justice compassion purpose worth morals mercy regrets guilt sin compassion and hope. Who do think run orphanges, soup kitchens, red cross, Salvation army, life line, op shops, youth camps, and many other charitable organisations? The atheist? CERTAINLY NOT.!! The atheists think about no one except themselves and if the world is full of them, it would be like HELL. So dont be so proud to be one of them, we dont envy you, we feel sorry for you that your life is so worthless.

This is what I love about the loving, caring, compassionate theists… It is a good job that is only Atheists who can be frowned upon for speaking out. It is good job the world isn’t full of evil atheists, isn’t it… “Chie” in Tokyo continues the false reasoning argument about Atheism:

Agnosticism is the only logical position a thoughtful human being can adopt. Once understood properly, it ends the futile and barren debate about whether God exists or not. Atheists (if by this is meant people who believe that there is no God) are in just as a rationally untenable position as believers. This is why it has to be said that Dawkins, although interesting on religion, shows his intellectual limitations. It’s probably due to the influence of Western mind training, which tends to take a binary approach to everything.

Again, this is nonsense. No matter how much woo you try to wrap around the situation, nor how much patronising you do the situation remains the same. If Chie is trying to suggest God is in a quantum superposition along with Zeus, Hera, Thor, Hemidal, Loki, Monkey, Fox, Rabbit and every other god humanity has come up with over the aeons, then he is deluded. A similar argument is suggested by “Richard” in Bexhill, Essex, which proves the point about people from Essex being thick.

“Eugene” from Heildelberg, Germany (I strongly suspect he is an American serviceman, and he reminds me of one I worked with many years ago) writes a diatribe which finishes with the patronising:

If you are truly intelligent, you will come to this coclusion. GOD IS MORE PROBABLE THAN NOT.

Nonsense. He doesn’t even say which god he thinks is more probable than any of the others. It is nothing but an appeal to mystery in funny clothes.

“Warren Toles,” from Canada, goes a long way to prove that Theists really are stupid and opens his comment with:

It is interesting that there are so many brilliant people in this world that will believe Darwin’s THEORY of evolution and completely dismiss the the Biblical account of creation. This can only be accounted for by the fact that those taking this position have not studied either the Bible or Darwin’s life story including the fact that he dismissed his own theory of evolution prior to his death. And yet we continue to teach Darwin’s Theory of evolution in our schools and Universities as though it is pure fact without any doubt attached to it.

It is great isn’t it. First off it is painfully obvious that Warren has no idea what a “theory” of science actually means. I assume he wants alternate theories of gravitation, thermodynamics (etc) to be taught as well. Add in the nonsense about Darwin’s dismissal of evolution on his death bed and you can see why Atheists laugh at the way Theists believe things without questioning… Shame on you Warren, the internet is a great tool – you should use it to learn new things.

“John W” from Oldham lives in a bleak world and writes:

As soon as you say there is no god, you say that there is no such thing as life or as a person. You reduce everything down to its component parts. You say all our thoughts are self interested delusions, lacking any intrinsic value. You forever steal the smile from the babies face, remove the beauty from the sunset and kill all that is noble in the world.

Wow. My being an atheist seems to stop my children smiling… Oddly this is not the case. I find it worrying that some people really do think they only reason they can be happy in this life is because some invisible person has promised them something in an imaginary afterlife. If this wasn’t a world religion, these people would be in a lunatic asylum. I think the idea that people are only “noble” because of god is what really steals the nobility of their actions. It makes them a vessel for others and implies that without Big Brother watching them, they would really be stealing and raping. I find that a sad, sad world.

“CC” from Cardiff falsifies himself with this:

Having read Dawkins God Delusion out of interest, I am still not convinced about religion or atheism. There are strong arguments for atheism in the book, but there are also some weak arguments. Having a scientific background and a career in engineering, I like to see real evidence. Maths and statistics can be used to ‘prove’ anything academically. So what are the weak arguments for atheism:
1. There must be a planet of other beings out there STATISTICALLY. Ok, but then if those planets do exist then the laws of evolution would apply and we might expect that one of them might be more advanced than we are…so where are they?
2. Although we as humans have made fantastic progress is medicine, we are still only tinkering. Until we can CREATE life from the basic elements I remain unconvinced that we can ever do it.
3. The human state of consciousness, how a body gets life in it cannot be reproduced by humans ‘artificially’.
I feel that if I say I am an atheist then I it would be naive

Wow, he claims to have a scientific background but demonstrates no understanding of science or mathematics. Maybe it is true what they say about engineers… Statistically, in an infinite universe, there are an infinite number of planets out there with life. Basic principles state we (on Earth) are not in a unique position regarding time or place, so you must assume that there are, indeed, some alien civilisations who are more advanced than ours. However, and this is important, these basic principles also assume that the laws of physics hold equally at all points in the universe (keep this in mind). Now, we know that statistically, the chances of another planet near to Earth having an massively advanced alien civilisation is low so we can dismiss them, this means that the statistically probably aliens are going to be quite some distance from Earth, the nearest potentially habitable planet is 60 light years away. Why must all Alien civilisations be capable of Faster than Light travel along with a burning desire to visit Earth? The rest of his “reasoning” is even more dribble.

I will finish (for now) with this head ache inducing comment from “William J” in Oban, Scotland: (Dont you just love the case choice…)

The fact we can debate, discuss, and not only argue about belief,but even in extreme situations go to war over beliefs, in anyway detract from belief:
In fact, rather it proves that belief is Truth.
Richard Dawkins is in fact a Belief Meister He Believes in Non-belief. John Humpry is Still Seeking He Believes in Seeking.
I Believe in God.
The only problem occurs if any of us try to force our beliefs upon the other two. I recently read somewhere that Charles Darwin is indirectly responsible for The Horror of The Nazi Gas Chamber and The Second World War. I found this Idea Abhorrent yet then no sooner had this thought registered,when I remembered The French Revolution was a product of Militant Aitheism. Yet There Again , our “Glorious Revolution” The English Civil War was Based upon The Opposite Belief incidentally it Was The Scottish Covenanters who having handed King Charles The First over to The Parliamentary Army were so Horrified at The English Action, The Crowned Charles

Toutatis knows what he is trying to say here, but I will point to this as further evidence as to the IQ of theists and atheists. Read the comments, they are priceless. Atheists point out logical flaws and are accused of “hateful attacks.” Theists demonstrate ignorance (and more than a little hate towards atheists) and everyone gushes about how wonderful they are.

[tags]Religion, John Humphrys, In God We Doubt, Belief, Christiantiy, Islam, Judaism, Society, Culture, Darwin, Dawkins, Evolution, Creationism, Bible, Tacitus, Toutatis, Zeus, Hera, Loki, Times Online, Nonsense, Delusion, God, Logic, Logical Fallacy, Fallacies, Atheist, Agnosticism, Atheism, Theism, Woo, Lucian, Josephus, Toledoth Jeschu, Talmud, Flaws, Idiocy[/tags]

More atheist footstamping

For those who do not have the regular, erm, pleasure of reading through the Comment is Free blogs on the Guardian websites, there is an interesting one there from yesterday by AC Grayling titled “A force for evil.”

The post makes interesting reading, but as you can imagine the most humour can be found in the comments. Most are pretty unoriginal and just what you expect when ever someone says religion is bad. You can largely group the comments into categories: (with kudos to jackoba who did this before me!)

  1. The ones that say religion is not all bad, look at all the good things it has done.
  2. The ones that say Atheism is worse than religion and point to Hitler (a catholic), Stalin, Pol Pot et al. as examples of evil atheists. (Prime example is the comment by powerday with an ironic twist by longsword later on where he seems to be saying Hitler was an Atheist because he seems to have believed in a Teutonic god rather than the current mainstream Christian god…)
  3. The atheists who complain about atheists criticising theists and suggest we all go back to hiding under the table. (waltzingmatilda1 provides an example of this – and without wishing to be rude, I find this sort of argument very weak and almost cowardly, basically this comment says that because “outspoken” atheists draw negative comments from theists, they should shut up and behave themselves… Blimey…)
  4. People who have no idea what they are talking about, but need to talk (often conflating atheism with a religion or making massive logical fallacy leaps – sadly there are lots of examples of this, but for now I will leave it with mckgus)
  5. People who like to post about how repetitive the argument is. ( 🙂 )

I am teetering towards the last group at the moment. Sadly, even though there are some intelligent, educated, people writing articles about atheism now, there is a strong sense of repetition there. It is a good sign of the times that so many news portals carry atheist posts now, and this probably reflects the greater divide between theists and atheists. In the UK at least, a generation ago most people were apathetic enough towards religion as to make the distinction meaningless – even the faithful over here were not rabid enough to get worked up about. Now, though, things are quite different. It is interesting that an apparent British person writes this at the end of their comment:

Also, since humanism tends towards strict individualism, autonomy of the self, reason, independent thought etc, on its own grounds, it features a very spurious supernatural being (in the way he can escape from nature), the human of humanism, the self. Not only this, but the underlying liberalistic logic of evolutionary psychology and humanism (competing individuals where co-operation is a secondary and indeed undergirded by self-interest) is doubtless an easy way at an ideological level inwhich to further shure up capitalism, and I cannot help but think that this logic (though not humanism solely, but capitalism) will ulitimately kill more than ‘religion’ ever has, once the seas begin to boil and the world begins to throw out its selfish stewards.

Heavy on the big, long words but light on the sense and logic. (He began his comment with “Where to to begin with the stupidity of what AC Grayling is saying here?” so you got a sign it was going to be good!)

The problem is, as is often the case where something is either right or wrong, the argument eventually gets bogged down. It has been some time since I read a properly “new” article on the topic. Theists as normal, are often the worst spewing out the same tired, boring, reasons why people should believe in god. Graylings article in the Comment is Free, while interesting and well written does not really open any new ground and is unlikely to convert any theists.

With this in mind, I will endeavour to find some examples of mainstream media which has “new” arguments on the pro-/anti- invisible people debate. Personally, I cant think of any new arguments so finding them will be exciting and interesting (and therefore they will get looked at here!).

Looking for a silver lining on the Comment is Free, there are very good comments from olching. F101voodoo and especially jonwaring, but my personal favourite came from sidc:

The only interesting thing about these religion/atheism threads is that the atheists can spell better than the religious nutters.

Well said! 🙂

(footnote: the title comes from a comment, not something I thought up myself! )

[tags]Atheism, Theism, Religion, AC Grayling, Belief, Religious Nutters, Beliefs, Belief, Nutcases, Fundamentalist, Society, Culture, Logic, Understanding, Guardian, Nazi, God Delusion[/tags]

Do Christians have a sense of humour?

It is never easy writing blog posts on a Friday, too much to do in the run up to the weekend, so please forgive the “easy” targets today. Yesterday I took a cheap shot at a post on the unique Parabiodox blog. I knew it was a bait post but I was bored and couldn’t pass up the chance to poke fun at what came across as a very self-important Theist post.

Parabiodox has responded to my comment and seems to damn me with faint praise (more of that later), but oddly seems to continue the “self important” tone I thought the original post had. Do Christians have a sense of humour or was he just all cut up over the death of Jerry Fallwell…(*) Anyway, trying to claw my way back to seriousness, in a nutshell, Parabiodox (paraphrasing the luminary Ayn Rand…) asked a question about which faith/belief system spends it’s time attacking others to hide the fact it has nothing to offer. It was fairly obvious this was a poor attempt to attack Atheism (agnosticism etc) and that is the answer the Theist wants to get.

The reality is far from the truth (for example, Atheism is not a faith nor is it a belief system) so, I pointed out that if you are not a follower of the Abrahamic myths, then they seem to spend a lot of time attacking others in an effort to mask the fact they offer nothing of value. The irony of the very question did not go unnoticed here… How does Parabiodox respond?

Continue reading

Is Atheism Over?

Following on from my long winded diatribe yesterday, I was reading some more of the comments on the Times Online article about Richard Dawkins. I may have briefly touched on it yesterday, but one thing which intrigues me today is the assertion by several commenters (both Theist and Atheist if I am reading it correctly) that Atheism has had its day or words to that effect. Why didn’t I get the memo? How dare Atheism neglect to tell me it is over…

I talked about Joshua‘s barely sane comment yesterday where he says “Atheism is struggling for breath at the moment. It does not have the answers we seek. It has had its day, it’s a spent force and, for most of us, basically boring” and I mentioned that was news to me. It seems I am out in the wilderness on this topic. Now it seems a new poster, who writes comment so long it would embarrass even me!, has joined in. A poster called Jim Rodgers competes with War and Peace with his comment, but it has some interesting bits. Fortunately most of the good stuff is at the beginning 🙂 He starts with this: “I recently read Alistair Mcgrath’s book, The Twilight of Atheism, and enjoyed it.” Well, that pretty much stunned me! Each to their own I suppose. Next comes the odd bit:

Continue reading

The Commenters Delusion

I was toying with the Blind Commenter as a title, but decided it would be too obvious 🙂 . I have been reading some of the opinion blogs on the Times today, which is always enjoyable. The main three have been two by Ruth Gledhill (On Dawkins and on Scientology), and thanks to Nullifidian’s blog, I read one by William Rees-Mog, again on Dawkins. As is often the case the columns, being written by sensible journalists, are well presented (with the exception of Rees-Mog but he is different kettle of fish) and the arguments are structured.

Fortunately, for me, the same most certainly can not be said about the people who leave comments. Yes, some are sane and balanced, but others range from mildly confused to massively off the deep end. In this post, I will look at some of the more pertinent comments and explain why I think they are at least a little, ahem, confused.

Continue reading

Oddness of Faith

Two online blogs have attracted my attention, and while there is only a tenuous link between them they are both based on articles of faith. One is slightly better than the other, but that is to be expected.

As mentioned previously, The BBC has a programme targeting Scientology and this has resulted in considerable online debates. One of the sites mentioning it (ReligionNewsBlog) seems more like an aggregator than a blog but it does have this transcript:

JOHN SWEENEY: So, would you say it’s a cult?

TOMMY DAVIS: …no right to whatsoever to say what and what isn’t a religion. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees one’s right to practice and believe freely in this country. And the definition of religion is very clear, and it’s not defined by John Sweeney. And for you to repeatedly refer to my faith in those terms is so derogatory, so offensive and so bigoted. And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you’re getting right now. Well buddy, you got it. Right here, right now, I’m angry, real angry.

If you watch the video of this Tommy Davis comes across as a worrying person. If that is him “real angry” then he is a sociopath. There is no overt sign of aggression. No change to his tone of voice. He sounds like a nutcase who would kill you over a packet of crisps… I would be interested to learn what this “clear” definition of religion he talks about is. The blog also has some more, entertaining articles: Continue reading

The Problems of Debates

A few months ago, I opined about the problems of using public debate to determine the value / validity of science. I think, now, this is even more “true” than I did previously.

Over the internet there are a variety of blogs, both theist and atheist, which have looked at the recent Nightline debate between the Rational Response Squad and the trained monkeys (Comfort and Cameron). With a few exceptions from the more dogmatic, fundamentalist, Christian blogs, most commentators agree that the RRS had a more convincing argument and that the trained monkeys were drowning under their own poor logic.

Sadly, most of the blogs also agree that the poor RRS duo came across very badly. This is not a reflection of them as people and it certainly is not a reflection of the subject matter they were presenting. The fact of the matter is that public speaking is not second nature to most people. Doing so on TV is more daunting and being able to talk without demonstrating nervous habits is something which takes practice and training. Comfort and Cameron are not really hampered by this (one being an actor and the other a preacher), and during the debate, the “comfort” with which they spoke was apparent. Now, they were let down by their inane nonsense and condescending attitude, but it could have been a close call.

Imagine a similar debate, this time not between such highly polarised topics where people have pretty much all made up their own minds. If this were, say, a debate between the Ekpyrotic theory and the Big Crush theory would people be swayed more by the evidence or the skill of the presenters?

[tags]Atheism, Science, Theism, Physics, Ekpyrotic, Big Crush, Belief, Christianity, culture, debate, Faith, Kirk Cameron, Philosophy, Rational Response Squad, Ray Comfort, Religion, Society, Stupidity, woo[/tags]

Who did design the designer?

I have been reading through some theist (predominantly Christian) blogs which have discussed the televised debate. Oddly, most theists went well for them, so I can only assume I am now living in an alternate dimension and no longer interact with the real world.

One recurring theme (and I am not going to link to the sites as there are a lot and I don’t want any of them to get hits from this blog!) I have found is the argument from design and it’s counter argument of “who designed the designer.” A majority of the theist blogs seem to think the argument from design is a solid bit of logic which supports the existence of God. Yeah, I was surprised as well. Oddly, when they discuss the counter argument ( “who designed God?” ) in every one of the instances it is dismissed without an answer. An example of the dismissal read “This told me I was watching a debate broadcast for people who have never studied these arguments before.”

Now, while I am sure it is good to have a cutting remark or two like that saved for future reference, it fails to answer the question. I have studied the arguments and yet to see anything, other than special pleading, which explains the need to have a designer who was not designed.

Does anyone know the answer to the question? (Without special pleading, of course).

On a slightly related topic, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest you visit a website called “Proof that God Exists.” It is so funny it must be a joke.

[tags]Theism, Religion, Belief, Atheism, Philosophy, Logic, Logical Fallacy, Special Pleading, Nutters, God, Culture, Madness[/tags]

Ray Comfort – Did I miss something?

Amazingly, it seems not everyone thinks Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron made fools of themselves during the debate with the “Rational Response Squad.” It has been mentioned on this blog, Nullfidian’s Blog and Pharyngula if you want to read more / watch the footage.

I should point out, the footage is painful. Comfort / Cameron are broadly clueless and debate in the style of 10 year olds (as do the RRS, but at least they are young and enthusiastic). Comfort claims to be able to prove the existence of God without using the bible, but opens the book pretty much every time. The whole crux of the theist argument is an appeal to fear. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Oddly, despite this, some theists think Comfort did well. Seriously. And more than one theist crackpot thinks this… On the Shepherds Scrapbook site, the post begins:

Ray Comfort’s “debate” happened this afternoon (watch here). I’m at least very thankful for his presentation of the gospel message, although he said he would not open his Bible.

Amazing really. Theists are wonderful creatures, I just don’t think I can eat one whole.

[tags]Atheism, Belief, Theism, God, Religion, Debate, Rational Response Squad, Christians, Bible, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Logic, Arguments, Logical Fallacy, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Stupidity, Woo[/tags]

Science and Religion?

(*Update: it seems while I was writing this, the post I am discussing vanished from the Savvygeek site – it may have been posted in error, but I think the comments made in it were common enough that they can be addressed anyway*)

There seems some debate recently about reconciling science and religion (or even if some thing is possible). For the record, this is something I have no major issue over, religion is (to me) nonsense so if scientists want to be religious it is no different than if they think socks and sandals look cool. I also see no driving reason for science and religion to be “reconciled,” nor do I have any idea how such a thing can take place.

Today I came across a post on Savvygeek called “Religion Vs Science” which made some points which intrigued me. Broadly the post is saying: Continue reading

Evolution – Humour or Crank?

Once more, the Great Tuatatis has guided me to some more erratic websites (I suspect I actually found it as a link on someone else’s blog, but unfortunately I cant remember who to tip my hat to, sorry).

Anyway, however it happened, on the phs1966.com blog, there is a post called “Can we really call evolution science.” It is a short post, so I will copy it here in full: Continue reading

Atheist Pride

During a few spare minutes I had today, the Great Toutatis guided me to technorati where I found a link to a blog called “Bible Study for Atheists.” This blog (from Vast Left) is pretty good reading. It is witty enough to entertain and certainly worth a visit. On reading it, I found the shards of a bit of a debate between Vast Left and a blogger called El Borak.

From what I read (and please correct me if I get this wrong), Vast Left made a post “poking fun” at Genesis and El Borak responded with:

Of course, it’s not even a study per se. Rather it’s simply a chance to poke fun and play number games. (read original)

I might be misreading the tone, but this strikes me there has been a sense of humour bypass here. Of course it isn’t a study per se — although I am not sure if El Borak means study in the “Bible Study” sense where a load of Christians sit round and re-affirm each others ideas, or a study in the scientific sense. (Hint: I am poking fun).

Now, broadly speaking, El Borak is actually fairly reasonable and presents his arguments well. I am not sure I want to get involved in the overall debate, so I will not pass comment on that “per se.” One sentence which did leap out at me, though, was: (emphasis mine)

I know I should not expect more from self-proclaimed Atheists, and that’s the problem. I truly don’t.

This is interesting. I am not interested in the attempt at a snide dig, to be honest I don’t expect anything else from any theists (self proclaimed or otherwise), they just don’t know any better. What did interest me was the use of the term “self proclaimed.” I am some what confused as to what it was meant to imply.

Normally, when you see the term “self proclaimed” it tends to imply the following word is a dubious boast. Is this meant to mean that El Borak doubts Vast Left is really an atheist until there is some corroborating evidence? From it’s use it could also be read to mean El Borak is amazed anyone could have the front to actually admit they are an an Atheist, or he could simply doubt anyone is really an Atheist.

I am confused. (extra entertainment can be found from the comments on El Borak’s page, Huckelberry is worth a chuckle)

Atheist blogroll becomes theist blogroll

Oh, sorry. I have found out since the last post that, from today, the Atheist blogroll is about to drop its initial letter, as all blogs on the roll have experienced a mass conversion because of the nun who was cured of Parkinson’s.

I have to admit my scalded knee was miraculously healed to a mere blister then a scar when I accidentally said three Cliff Richard.

God be with you,

Theistic Follow Up

Previously I made a post which examined the logic (or lack thereof) in a post made on parabiodox. Today I see there has been a follow up post that addresses some of the “issues” I made, so I think it is only fair that I (in turn) address some of the new comments.

First off, I have to say “thank you” to parabiodox for his reasonable, and generally kind comments. I am flattered. The blog post begins:

This is a very readable, calm and intelligent response to a rather bombastic blog entry from me.
Of course the only reason I wrote it was I was hoping that someone would come along and write the kind of response that Why Dont You Blog? has provided.
Myself I do indulge in a bit of calm and measured article writing once in a while, but what’s wrong with a bit of mud-slinging as well ? Variety is the spice of life I think.

I couldn’t agree with the sentiment here more. There is nothing wrong with a bit of mud-slinging and, to me, the reason people blog is to get issues of their chest. At least this way no one gets hurt (unless they are very thin skinned..). Blogs would be boring places indeed if people did not rant, rave and froth every now and then.

Talking of mud-slinging I did detect a bit of it in the article Theistic Logic, the implication being that this is the way all theists think, of course as I know only too well it definately isn’t.

This, I am not to sure about. Where ever possible I try to avoid stereotyping people into a particular school of thought, and I certainly pounce on it when people try to do it to me, so I hope this is an interpretation issue more than anything else. Looking back on the previous post, the closest example I can find is when I begin “Sadly this is an infuriating example of the theistic line of logic.”

Now, that was never intended to mean it was the way all “theists” think – but it is a common fallacy which is used in many, many, blog posts where theists refer to atheists. Parabiodox continues:

The blog entry was parabiodox thinking, and there’s only one member of that particular philosophy to date.

While that is reassuring, ( 🙂 ) it is not completely accurate. IMHO most blog posts only speak for the line of thought adopted by the person who made the post, however this is a line of thought which is echoed across dozens of blogs (and is often found in the comments section on atheist blogs). While parabiodox does indeed seem to follow a unique philosophy, the fallacies in this particular post are reasonably common.