Monday, August 27, 2007

David Attenborough on God


  1. When was this interview made?

  2. It was sometime in 2007
    Thats all i know.

  3. <span style="cursor: pointer;">No dieu no maitre</span><span style="display: none;"></span><img src=""/>amen. If any brainwashing is happening it is not happening to "bible bashers." It is happening  to children and circumcised babies who have no choice in the matter but to just accept it and be labeled christian. Or god fearing. Out of anyone, godfearing people seem to be the most death fearing as well as the most illiterate out there. I will "prey" for you and your "religeon" mark and wilf. Go to heaven already

  4. Hey you guys want to hear a joke?
    Atheism! (Woot-woot!)

  5. And cue the rebuttals... BAM.
    Alrighty, let's do this.
    So you're telling me that all of this - all our widescreen T.V's and formula one cars and spaceships and charities and etc... are all for nothing? That we just appeared, out of nothing, and go about our business waiting to die? Ah. Of course it is. I forgot: this is an atheist site.
    Good luck getting laid fellas.

  6. No, those are for entertainment, sport, space exploration and support of the needy, respectively. All of which, are things to do instead of waiting to die because waiting to die is pointless and useless. Especially since in order to die one doesn't have to wait.
    So, as we're not waiting to die, we might as well be entertained, participate in motor-sports, explore space and help our fellow man.

  7. Ah yes so we do all of this stuff merely to fill in time? What's to stop us just sitting around, drinking, smoking, playing COD instead of being out and... 'driven' to strive for something?
    Oh. And you don't need to be religious to believe in God.

  8. Ah and BluePrint it seems you're quite the sensible fellow; please forgive my rashness and head of steam. It seemed worthy enough considering the points raised in previous comments.

  9. No, one does not have to be religious to believe in god(s), but such a belief is vague and ultimately pointless in light of modern explenations of reality.

  10. Ah, so a belief in God to get one through the tough times, or to keep a family together, is pointless? Does it matter if the validity behind prayer is wrong if it does good things? Perhaps for us, the wealthier, computer-using folk of the world, such struggle seems alien, but for a greater majority of people the only thing they have to rely on is faith, because any of their 'explenations of reality' must be quite dark and depressing.
    And to say 'modern explanations of reality' are minimalising the 'purpose' of God is a little rash. True man has changed, society has evolved, but nobody has the inbuilt capacity to answer every mystery of the universe and answer deeper meanings of existence off their own bat. Well, as far as I know.

  11. No, the belief in "non-religious", non-intervening, uneffectable god(s) (AKA: Deism) is pointless because it has no explanatory power and offer no personal comfort. The "<span>getting through tough times" and "</span><span>keeping a family together", the personal comfort, is gotten from the title given to that unpersonal belief, that has </span><span>feel-good vibe from the rest of society.</span><span> (not from the belief itself)
    <span>Personally, I think is only a retrospective rationalization.</span>

    Less privileged people can and do rely on themselves and others in their community. Tagging that as 'faith' because they share a belief is oversimplifying the matter. (and that's an understatement)
    Actually, that "faith" can be their handicap if it prevents them from cooperating with people of a different belief.

    I didn't say modern explanations minimise anything, I said they make the god(s) "explanation" obsolete.

  12. I never said nothing about Deism. One can seperate Theism from Religion, as many people extrapolate the negatives of religion and blow them out of proportion. God is very much something of a personal level.
    Take individualistic-theism. That is, considering our views of the world, the universe and other people is subjective, then a view upon God would be subjective too. To believe in "the same thing" is a little unwarranted, and this is ultimately why there are splits between religions and inside them too. To look for conclusive 'evidence' if you may, would then draw inconclusive if such a God were to be thought of as objective in the world.
    And again, many people ask for more than what is visible, around them in the world. This faith I talk of would be one to transcend the normal and any faith that conflicts is ultimately a fault of man's. After all, any God to exist would be omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent, much akin to Asimov's Three Laws. Any contradiction with this to 'create' unco-oporation would be far from God's word and actually mans.

  13. Also Deism isn't that bad. It's a belief that God set off the Universe with order and this order is maintained because of the perfection of this creation. Not neccessarily agreeing with this, one can still see that in tough times of suffering and universal 'dis-order' the end Plan may be enough to see one through, as our future remains written by this benevolent fellow.

  14. Personal non-religious theism? I didn't know there was such a thing.
    [after checking a dictionary]
    Isn't that 'egotheism'?
    Still, it's like deism, simple wishful thinking, only that an external observer (me) would label that beliefe with "friend" along with "imaginary".

    Wishful thinking doesn't get anything done. Acting upon those wishes "keeps a family together" and help "get though tough times", but dealing with problems without delusions can achieve just as much, if not more.

    So great, a person can believe in god(s) without being religios.
    But would you resent someone who doesn't?

  15. Wishful thinking may definitely get things done with "delusions" (if you may) but the fact of the matter is for a hell of a lot of people God remains more than a delusion and something them through. Your view be nice and pretty in its idealism, and fair enough, but one might as well accept what the norm is and how the world is.
    And hey, I love atheists. Makes for good discussion (although I'd better get to that Maths assignment quite soon, all this blogging cannot be anything but detrimental to a poor schoolboys marks) about greater things in the world. And trust me mate, I'm sure we'd probably be quite likeable if we were to meet someplace someday. It's only a belief after all.
    And thanks, if you want to take it further. For truly without dis (or un) belief there would be no belief? Perhaps your statements in themselves with strengthen my belief and vice-versa. You'd like to hope so, anyway.

  16. Now, time for some more philosophical engagment. A delusion? When Dawkins and the others say such a thing, surely they're discounting the evidence other minds have accounted for God's existence.
    I'm almost certain you've heard this before, and probably worked out a decent response, but everything needs a cause, working cosmologically, so surely God needs to be the Creator of the Universe.

  17. I don't dispute the fact that many people in the world believe in god(s), I dispute the assertion that it's a good thing and should be passively encouraged by not pointing out it's silliness. God doesn't "<span>remain more than a delusion" to people, it's inserted into their worldview</span><span> as a fact when they're still incapable of thinking about it.</span>

    From Wikipedia:

    A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief  and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception.

    When Dawkins and other scientifically minded people say 'delusion' they mean just that: A belief that whenever tested for validity turns out to be false.
    All the "evidence" for existence of god(s) I've encounted (which is very little) can be discounted for being a bassless assertion or a logical fallacy.
    For example:
    "<span>everything needs a cause, working cosmologically, so surely God needs to be the Creator of the Universe."</span>
    - So what is the cause for god?
    And when your reply would be something to the effect of "god doesn't need a cause", it's the logical fallacy of Special Pleading.

  18. Ah. This is good.
    To say 'inserted into their worldview as a fact when they're still incapable of thinking about it' is a little strange. There is no way I, you, or anyone in the world can read into, and further, 'control' what a person thinks. If a man wants to get existential, he can, or metaphysical, he can, or question reality and morality and whatnot, he can. There is no stopping him. There is only himself. Leading from this we can determine that a belief in God after thought of such nature would be stronger, heartier, than a pure spoon-fed 'fact'.
    And I see we have the old religion science debate arising again. Religion versus science? What? This always strikes me as bizzare. Surely one can compliment the other - religion deals with meta-everything, things that by definition are above science, reasoning and logic. Science is a quest for answers on the mundane. There is a multitude of things, hell, an infinite number of things science doesn't understand and will never understand. 
    Okay. Now that cosmological argument. You're rebuttal of the Special Pleading fallacy seems fair enough, although when we jump from cause-and-effect from within the universe to outside it, surely there remains something notwithstanding usual precedings. God as an eternal being undermines any need for a Cause.
    Also, if you're interested and not reading anything at the moment, I reccommend you flick through The Mind of God by Paul Davies. Trust me - it isn't religious at all. It combines a multitude of areas of science, mathematics and philosophy in a bid to explain the Universe from the view of a creator. Or just wikipedia it, I don't mind - although I reccomend forming your own opinion of it yourself.

  19. Ah jeez this has happened twice tonight - instead of clicking 'reply' I clicked 'delete' on the comment, so I'm going to have to start again. Yikes.
    Anyway, I'm not going to get into the confuzzlement between religion and science (quite simply, religion deals with the meta-everything, that is things above and beyond science whilst science deals with, yep, you guessed it, science. Surely the two don't need to be at war. Surely they can compliment each other? But hey, I might just be too damn optimistic or nuts for that) so I'll have another look at your rebuttal of the shoddy representation of the Cosmological Argument I presented.
    If we look at the situation here, I think the beginning of space and time and history as we know was something of a special case. The fallacy of Special Pleading? Does the Supreme Being of the Universe and His Creation not entail some eternity, some transcendance of time? Cause-and-effect is bound by time and space. Outside of the Universe, there is no time and space. I think you can guess the rest.
    Just as a side note, and it'd be nice to hear a good rebuttal to this, what does Dawkins 'preach' in the space left by his murder of religion? Is there anything? Or does being an atheist simply mean one isn't Christian or Jewish or Hindu or... the list would roll on.
    Does it offer anything?

  20. Say, for example, looking at the tags floating next to this comment thread, the word 'atheist' is incredibly small compared to all of the attention given to 'Muslim' and 'Christian' and, hell, even 'Youtube'. Is atheism built on the flaws of religion only?

  21. I seems we're back where we started:
    "<span>Supreme Being of the Universe and His Creation" is an assertion based on wishful thinking and is useless in light of modern explanations of reality. Useless not because science explained it away, but because it doesn't explain anything expect the person's wish that it would be so.</span>

    If belief in a supernatural entity (we've started with non-religios theism so I'm sticking with that, especially as religion is currently more of a beaviour manual than anything) doesn't clash with science, such a belief stands on the same level as role playing. It's added content people choose to their view of the world and being with or without it shouldn't matter expect for content specific social gatherings.

    Being that theism is only added content, there's no need to replace it with anything because it has no bearing on reality, except for content specific social gatherings.

    "<span>Does atheism offer anything?"</span>
    You tell me:
    Does not playing role playing games offer anything?

  22. I don't know what role playing games you're talking about here, but I think you're trying to assert something using evidence you've created youself; my workings on logic aren't that great but I'm pretty sure that would come up as a fallacy somewhere.
    I think a better way to look at atheism/theism is a (sort-of) conservative/progressive relationship. Theists, or mainly religions in this case, lay out a set of 'rules' which will, most probably, create a better way of a life. There's no real disputing that. The problems arise when, taking upon this gamble, people use the rules to their benefits (ie, an excuse to blow up a building or burn someone). Atheism is pretty much par. There's no rules to stick by, no higher ground to aim towards. And fair enough. This comes back to little subjectivity (which, mind you, pretty much ruins any decent philosophical argument). Would you rather keep the world the way it is or aim towards something better?
    Anyway, that's just one take on it. But I think it sits a little better than role-playing games.
    Ah. When I say 'Supreme Being' and 'Creation', that was used for dramatic effect. I don't honestly believe in Creationism or anything, so I wasn't hinting at that there. Modern explanations of reality? I'm still a little bemused at what you're hitting at there. Could you give me an example? Are you talking advances in science or a change in moral structure?
    Again with the science/God divide. Again I'll have to preach some definitions here: dealings with God are dealings with meta-physics. Again: above physics. And if one wants to live a life dealing with only what is around them, visible to their (easily manipulated) senses, go ahead. As a complete, 'all-ends-tied-up' factor, God does the job. Consider someone asking why to a series of responses and eventually being sought with a 'because it is'. Here, God works as a better example.

  23. Seems here you've just answered one question with another (quite loaded one, too.) They had the World Atheist Convention in Melbourne recently and the local newspapers were awash with articles transcribing the goings on of the events and such. Not one - even your famed Mr Dawkins - offered anything more than having a go at religion, highlighting, almost celebrating its faults; at the time the sex-abuse scandals in the church and further back the 9/11 bombings. It all was all hate driven, all sarcasm laden. When I ask 'does atheism offer anything?' that is what I'm talking about.
    You look at many of the publicised books of Dawkins and Hitchens - The God Delusion and God Is Not Great. Huh. A cry to atheism simply because religion screws up? Wow. Original much.
    (And that was sarcasm.)

  24. It seems we're in agreement on the science/god interaction issue, only not on the importance of the latter.
    I'm saying 'god' is unimportant because it's only wishfull thinking added to a rational view of reality, and you're saying it's important because it's wishful thinking added to a rational view of reality.

    That about sums up the topic this conversation started on: You think the warm and fuzzy feeling a person have about himself (thinking something has his best interests in mind) in a far corner of his mind is something to encourage in people, and I think it shouldn't.

    Now, if you want to switch the topic to religion, I'm more than willing to explain what role playing games are. (or you can read online)

  25. This is good. Agreement! Hoo-rah.
    Nonetheless, a rational view of reality seems an almost singular view of the world. Surely mankind, and the world around him (or her, whatever floats your boat) is more than a single 'rational' cell. Our lives are fuelled by irrationality: it is, quite simply, what seperates us from purely cold, utilitarian beings like robots in a science-fiction novel. Descartes said 'I think therefore I am' because he came to the conclusion nothing in the world was sound, no reasoning enough to explain everything. This is a fair enough view when one looks at the problems in logic, the fallibility of reason and the fact of the matter that these are human inventions, and, again, God's existence would remain so without man and man's creations.
    As for the role-playing games... that got me laughing. :)
    But I think I'd better leave the situation up in the air for you.

  26. So... Recognizing our limited capacity for understanding, we should abandon the endeavour to expand it? Stick with the older and unproven human inventions instead of the tried and tested ones that were revealed to be of value?

  27. No. This is merely an understanding on man's part that he is not the Numero Uno on Earth or the Universe, and that all 'understanding' of life needs to be taken with a (hefty) grain of salt. There's no reason why we can't continue to expand our knowledge of the world our senses creates. Again: you seem to be maintaing a belief in God to be outdated. Again: the fundamental mysteries of the Universe will forever evade our understanding.
    It is interesting to note the number of siesmically bizarre 'coincidences' required life to occur, for man to be alive and for you and I to be having this cyber conversation. For the Universe to sustain itself, the Earth to hold life, the life to start etc remains an extraordinary run of 'luck'.

  28. Still interested in your thoughts on The (failed) World Atheist Convention I mentioned earlier.

  29. Yes, I believe 'god' is an outdated concept, and all your arguments in it's favour still amount to wishful thinking, especially as your view of it keeps it away from testability.
    Your assertion that <span>"the fundamental mysteries of the Universe will forever evade our understanding" is just that, a baseless assertion and is no reason to stick 'god' wherever data is missing and to entertain the notion that someone that won't tell me, knows the answer.</span>

    Let's not start a statistics lesson. You think existence is chance, I know a little bit of physics that tells me existence is a certainty, let's leave it at that.

    I don't know what faild at the Global Atheist Convention, from what I read it was a great success.
    If it failed to meet your goals as a theist, being that the convention was about not being a theist, that's what counts as a success.

  30. Ah I'd like to know this little bit of physics that says existence is certain. Is it the old infinity business and such, because there are quite a few flaws in that? I'm quite sure the conditions for the Big Bang to be successful had to be quite minute (if you look through Hawkings A Brief History of Time) and for the Universe to sustain itself, life on Earth to be created etc etc are, again, a series of 'fortunate' chances or something closer to determinism. And further, how can something be a certainty? Isn't the nature of a godless universe a random one?
    And yes the Global Atheist Convention was pointless. How was it successful again, or did my local left-wing newspaper (The Age, if you're interested) somehow decide to leave that out?

  31. I never read A Brief History of Time, I hear parts of it need updating. What I did read was The Elegent Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, a few others, online articles, heard some lectures online and watched many TV programms, so what I've got is a nutshell understanding that goes:
    -There's not such thing as 'absolutely nothing', there's always something on the subatomic level.
    -Subatomic level events are purely random.
    -Given enough time, all possibilities would occur.
    -Time is the measure of change in a space, which means: less space = less possibilities and less time required for all possibilities to occur. (Where there's no space for things to change, there's no time)
    Threrefore: Where there's either no space or very little space (prior to inflation), all possibilities that can happen happened at once or in a very short time = Inflation. (it happened, we're here to observe it, so it must've been a possibility at the subatomic level)
    -Constants of nature emerge post inflation (this is when the purely random subatomic level loses most of it's effect and events become merely chaotic) and from that point there's no stopping the universe from becoming what we see today. Intelligent life included.

    Odds my seem incalculable in retrospect, but every single chance event we now multiply against all others for our amazement, was actually very probable at its time. The reason to call all of that 'fortunate' is only because we're here to know it and find it very difficult to comprehend.
    Still, even after you dismiss my overly simplified understanding as an inadequate explanation and a silly notion, saying "I don't know" is an incalculably better answer than: "There's something that we can't know or ever found out about that's responsible for it.... And it's got our best interests at mind".

    The Global Atheism Convention may have been pointless for you, a theist, but not to tens (if not hundreads) of millions of atheists around the world.
    Not being there myself and only hearing a few of the talks online, my guess is the convention's goal was outreach and attention, and those were achieved.

  32. Ah. Fortunately for myself, I do seem to understand you're physics at the head of your article, although not enough to be able to confirm them myself (I'll have to take your word for them!) The conclusions you form from the evidence seems to be the pitfall: Whenever one talks about 'purely random' events, like the action of subatomic particles, the mutations involved in natural selection etc, they can be likened to a coin toss - in their individual state, a single head over a tail is not at all interesting. However, if we were to have 85, or even 1000 heads in a row, it would be quite confounded (and rational) to continue tossing this coin with no care in the world. Anyone else, even with a decent understanding of the laws of probability, will either check the coin for faultiness or feel themselves at the hands of something Irregular. The history of the Universe can be likened to such a run of heads.
    I think you're hitting at infinity here. Infinity doesn't hold with logic and simple mathematics. If there an infinite number of planets, or of subatomic actions to create life, then no matter what the chance, say 0.15 for example (although it's much lower) there should be at least one 'success'. This is rather bemusing, as surely anything times infinity would equate to infinity. Therefore, we would have an infinite number of planets AND an infinite number of planets with life on them. This seems a little bizzare. Where are they all hiding?
    If you don't understand me here, I'll use another example of the flaws of infinity. I'm sure you've heard the ol' Shakespearian monkeys - that, if given an infinite amount of time, even a single monkey at a type writer would complete the works of Shakespeare. However, this monkey would in turn create an infinite number of Shakespeares works, matching his infinite amount of time. Does that create one book per minute, or second? Infinity seems laden with flaws.
    As for the Global Atheist Convention and it's subsequent 'success', surely one would need to step back, in retrospect, and view it from more than a theistic or atheist point of view. In regards to one another, as point of outreach and attention, there was barely none, and any such attention was negative and based upon the faults of religion (as is this site).

  33. No, it's not a coin toss, but if you insisit you have to remember it's not a single coin but trillions of trillions of coins all tossed at once, and assuming we toss them on a two dimentional grid, finding a row of 'heads' is a virtual certainty.

    No again, you're the one reaching for infinity, I never mentioned it, and where did you come up with infinite planets? We don't have infinite space in which to have them.
     'Life' is at the level of chemistry, not physics, definitely not the subatomic kind, and after finding organic molecules on 4 billion year old comets, the chances for it's forming is now calculated to be above 50% as far as I know.
     The flaw in infinity is only our limited ability to comprehend it, as you showed in your misunderstanding of the infinite monkey theorem.
    Infinity is an endless count, but a count none the less. Given a monkey at a typewriter for infinite time, recognizable content would eventurally emerge, but time would still pass between one such occurance to the next, as even a fast typing human can't copy a book this way in under a minute.

    Except for your negative view of the Global Atheism Convention, I don't understand what you're trying to express. After giving the impression of a non-religious person yourself, I don't understand this passion to discredit atheism for discrediting religion.

  34. My passion for discreditting atheism for discrediting religion comes about because of the nature of the attacks. Christopher Hitchens could not give a toss about any child abuse victims, or their families, and yet I'm sure him and the rest of his cronies will continually publisize the downfall of the Church. And in other matters, like the 9/11 problems and whatnot. The more they publicise these issues, the more they undermine the only truth behind them: that people lost their lives, suffering ensued and compassion deserves to be dealt. That is my problem with the militant attack on religion.
    Seems again we're getting deterministic here, ruling out any chance in the formation of the Universe and life on earth. If we are to do that, surely both a solely atheistic view of reality AND one in which all is determined by a 'master plan' can be recognised? ie - they're not that far apart in their apporach to chance.
    As for my infinite monkey business, again you've misread my sarcasm. I know someone cannot write a book in a minute, I'm merely pointing out the flaws in infinity. I'll take you're approach to this again... why can't we understand infinity? Shouldn't we be able to? Won't we figure it out, just like we'll figure everything else out?
    I know questions are bad answers, but these are loaded with rhetoric.

  35. Stavros StavropoulosOctober 15, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    Mr Richardson, your views on infinity are quite ungrounded. Infinity is a metaphysical theory, so there is not a possibility that we will one day understand it. As for the infinite monkey theory, you are quite right in saying that there can hardly be a time put on the recreation of each book. Infinity is not measurable in minutes or seconds, so there isn't time between the creation of each book.
    Suppose God is not bound by any finite things as man is. Then his creation of the world would not have taken any time. This explains that the current state of the world would have been causally determined from its beginning. God, or some other force outside finite barriers, would have had to have created the world and, with it, determinism. This goes against general atheist belief and supports the existance of a God(s).

  36. Stavros StavropoulosOctober 15, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    Mr Richardson, your views on infinity are quite ungrounded. Infinity is a metaphysical theory, so there is not a possibility that we will one day understand it. As for the infinite monkey theory, you are quite right in saying that there can hardly be a time put on the recreation of each book. Infinity is not measurable in minutes or seconds, so there isn't time between the creation of each book.
    Suppose God is not bound by any finite things as man is. Then his creation of the world would not have taken any time. This explains that the current state of the world would have been causally determined from its beginning. God, or some other force outside finite barriers, would have had to have created the world and, with it, determinism. This goes against general atheist belief and supports the existance of a God(s).

  37. How do you know Hitchens and other vocal atheists doesn't care about abuse victims? Did any atheist ever said something to that effect? And what's that got to do with pointing out the flaws in a flawed system, that allowed the abused to become victims and hid that fact? I would say that's exactly how they show they DO care about abuse victims, by constantly reminding us what harbored the abuse and their wish to stop it from continuing.
     I don't know what "9/11 problems" you mean, except the obvious one when discussing god(s), faith and religion: That without one of the three, it wouldn't have happened.
    (I fail to understand how the word Militant can be applied to people who's weapons are a sharp mind and clear tongue)

    I would agree with determinism as long as it means a causal chain of events and not a plan we can't know about, because the latter is a universe apart from the former.
     Again you're trying to claim your misunderstanding of infinity as a flaw in the concept. Fact is, the human experience never needs to deal with infinity so there's no reason humans should understand it, or be able to.

  38. So when if a religious person were to say God is a mystery and pure faith should prevail, does this coincide with the idea that humankind cannot comprehend infinity? The basis of scientific conquest is to formulate a rigid series of structures to explain everything in the Universe. Infinity is a part of the Universe: we must explain it.
    As for Hitchens' rant on religion, this seems to work along basic journalistic views on what should be said, what should be used as evidence and what should be left alone. The continual celebration of these events feeding the current parasitic nature of atheism from religion is only heightened by-and-by from people who look to dig up more dirt on Christianity, Islam or wherever they can find it. All this does is look at the 10-15% of fundamentalist religious types and generalise their actions as type for the whole of religious faith. The way the media works these days, no one seems to care when a new religious charity is set up, or the works they do with the homeless or various other charitable acts.

  39. If and when a person talks of god(s), in whatever way, all they do is express their view of things they can't explain or the way they want things to be.
    If infinity is part of the universe, explaining it would be nice but not a must, and like quantum mechanics, the explanation may not be easily comprehended. (if at all)

    I don't know what "<span>Hitchens' rant on religion" you mean so I can't comment on it, but I would like to know what you mean by "</span><span></span><span>parasitic nature of atheism".</span>

  40. Well, here's what our trusted friend Wikipedia says:
    Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship where one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the host.

    I know a few people who build their belief in a godless Universe solely upon the pitfalls of religion. Or, continually, those who think this creates a better argument against God's existence. As I've continued to point out before, this site itself is devoted to anti-theism, not atheism. It seems to survive solely because of pedophile scandals or fatwas.
    I've often tried imagining a world where religion existed but it didn't screw up, that is, where it adhered to what it preached. Would atheism still exist in such a world? It seems doubtful.
    (But don't get me wrong, I do admire those who look at arguments presented, or their interpretation of life, and continue to adhere to a secular point of view. For their faith, of course.)

  41. And perhaps our friend Mr Stavropolous is a Hindu? Perhaps it his belief that there are many gods?

  42. Ah yes. I forget that to a monotheist, vocal atheism = anti-theism.
    So... What do you think would happen to atheism when there's no longer any theism to not belong to?

  43. Stavros StavropoulosOctober 17, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    Mr Richardson, I'm pretty sure my name indicates that I'm a Hindu.

  44. Stavros StavropoulosOctober 17, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    Mr Richardson, I'm pretty sure my name indicates that I'm a Hindu.

  45. Well without doubt there would be no faith and vice-versa, so they co-exist in a relationship.
    Make sure you're reading my comments carefully - I've got nothing against those who have made up their mind by forming their own arguments and will persist with a view the Universe and everyone-thing-body in it is rational. And I think you're attempting sarcasm with 'I forget that to...' but you've pretty much just highlighted the point.

  46. I read you very carefully and I was referring to your comment about this site being anti-theistic, to which I find no evidence except when viewed from a monotheistic perspective that considers all those not actively with it, to be actively against it.

    From your latest post I assume you have something against me, because I didn't form my own arguments and do not view the universe as rational.

  47. Ah. Well earlier posts would disprove of me having anything against you (the one about me encouraging this kind of discussion and the assurance you're probably quite the likeable fellow). When I say I have something against, I'm merely bemused by creating a view of God's existence upon what people have said or done in their name. This is purely spoon-feeding, and not bothering to work things out for onself. Again: another earlier comment told you I would side with an individual perspective of God, etc etc, and I'd urge people to work it out for themselves.
    Trying to shift through the words of your earlier comment, when looking at the two together, atheism and theism, then can we only (try) and rid ourselves of subjectivity, as is the best we can do. I'm looking at the links on the side of the page here: Imagine No Religion... + What does prayer achieve... + Michael Behe's son abondoned Catholicism... These point to advertising atheism as an alternatively solely because religion (or the host) is in strife.

  48. How else will an atheist form their perspective on untestable god(s), if not by reports and actions of theists? That IS the "working things out".

    This is Atheist Media, a blog about atheism (and therefore theism, which gets notice mostly via reliigon) in the media.
    What do you think would be appropriate to link from a site dedicated to the atheistic perspective in media?
    None of the contend presented here is produced by the owners of the site. All they do is gather content that relate to and could be of interest to atheists, and any views expressed are by visitors like you and me.
    Are you blaming the site for filling a niche?

  49. Ah, well I couldn't be blaming the site for filling a niche becuase I didn't know their view was 'purely subjective' in choosing articles (all supporting atheism) for people to critique and discuss. I guess when you extrapolate things like that, of course I am. But let's not extrapolate things because it could get icky.
    Also, it would be good to clear things up about myself referring to theism and religion - the wider 'circle' of things would put theism as the universal title, then, occupying about 75% of that would be religion and religiousness. A circle within a circle. Religion is always theistic, although not all theism is religious.
    'What do I think would be an appropriate link?' Hmm. This goes further than just the websites take on atheist and theist preceedings. Surely there are articles out there highlighting atheist alternatives, atheist causes and such. Or even existentialist ideas to give those of your thinking an output for a structured teleological aim. If there aren't (sadly) then its quite a reference to atheism as a whole then, isn't it, and not just the site?
    And don't get me wrong - looking at the wider circle of things, atheism alone fills the outer, unversal structure, with the parasitism I've highlighted only taking up a proportion of it. I don't want to try and percantile it, because it might offend.
    And we're entitled to our own opinions.

  50. Depending on the definition of religion, some can be considered atheistic--so your description is missing some definition (pun intended)--yet atheism itself is not a religion or philosophy. Not an -ism in the coloquial sense and actually the exact opposite.
    Using your described set diagram for theism/religion, Atheism would be everything outside the Theism circle. (not sorrounding it, just outside of it. As in: opposite to inside of it)
    I didn't understand where you placed atheism, but my description is true to the definitions and in that view, I fail to see how you can come up with atheism being parasitic.

    Except for "soothing the itch in your theistic nerve", I don't see the point of your complaining about the site's featured content to another visitor like yourself.
    It's like you're complaining that a celebrity news website doesn't feature content in support of being a nobody.

  51. It seems you're misunderstanding me here. I understand The Atheist Media blog is centred around atheist articles and videos, all I'm stating is that they're all based around the faults of religion. And furthermore, in terms of creating some meaning or reason to being an atheist, instead of simply being unreligious because of the problems fundamentalists or extremists create, this site (and further, outside, parasitic atheists) does none of that.
    And yes, I intended for you to see two circles. One - atheism. Two - Theism. Inside each of these lies anti-religion, the kind or parasitism I'm talking about, and religion in the other. And yet inside both circles there are people who are not parasites but still atheist, just as there are those who aren't religious but still believe in God.
    So now I see you're stretching atheism as something outside of all bounds of religion. Something that is more than an alternative to Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism. But what, exactly, is it? Is it a blunt answer no? Is it a blunt answer no because one hears of priests abusing children?
    What is atheism?
    And this relates to the post in our conversation setting all this off -
    What does atheism offer?
    As for 'soothing the itch in my theistic nerve', I think you'll need to recall those circles we were raising, only a few moments ago. Surely any objection to religion is, in turn, an objection to theism too. And so when people create something, or benefit, from religions faults, it seems viable enough anyone who believes in God would question the nature of this growth or the people spruiking it.

  52. Right back at you. Misunderstanding, that is.
    Atheism is not being non-religious but being non-theistic. Atheism is: 'not believing god(s) exist'. Being non-religious is a byproduct of it, though not in all cases. (as not all religions are theistic)
     The non-issue you keep pushing; "creating <span>meaning or reason to being an atheist", is a misunderstanding of what atheism is. What it's not is a choice or a teaching, it is a conclusion or realization. It's what a person is when they're not a theist.</span> Asking for meaning or reason in atheism is like asking for a meaning or reason in being unemployed. (the meaning is that the person is out of a job, and the reason is because they quit the job they had or were never employed in the first place)

    My correction to your description of circles doesn't put Atheism "<span>outside of all bounds of religion", but outside the circle of Theism. It's outisde Religion only as a consequence of Religion being inside the circle of Theism. (when considering theistic religions only)
    <span> Because Theism means 'believing god(s) exist', Atheism can't be inside it's circle because a person can't claim to believe god(s) both exist and not exist, and claim logic as well. A person will have to let go of one of the three. (and I hope you agree that if they choose logic, a discussion is pointless as there would be no common ground to stand on)

    What we're describing in circles here is called a Set Diagram which is used to explain groups. Anti-religious is not a group.
     I agree many people believe that the world would be a better place without religion (I'm one of them), but they don't act against religions as a group. It's just an opinion they express as a wish, and extremely rarely (if at all, because I've never heard of it happening) act on it as an individual.
     So 'Anti-Religion' can't be in the described set diagram, for the same reason you can't place Anti-Theism or Anti-Atheism there. (because they're already represented as Atheism and Theism respectively)

    This also shows that your suggestion that "<span>any objection to religion is, in turn, an objection to theism too" is wrong, because the Religion circle is smaller than the Theism circle. Objecting to religion is objecting to a specific "field" of Theism (the one that hold religion), not theism as a whole.</span>

    <span>I don't understand how you pose "</span><span>people create something, or benefit, from religions faults" as a counter argument to atheism. The only people I see benefiting from religion's faults are the religious people higher up the religious hierarchy. (unless you count the guy who came up Post Rapture Post, but that's not really a fault of religion. more of a quirk)

    As to your question "<span>What does atheism offer?"... 'Better reasons' just about sums it up. Better reasons for everything.</span>
    Probably most of what you'll assert as "good in god's eyes" based on your feeling of it, atheists would agree with you is a good idea, but because they look at the world and consciously considered the pros and cons.
     Also, <span>the recent events in Chile bring to mind another answer: Credit.</span>
    Atheism doesn't diminish the achievements of humans<span></span> with praise to the unknowable.

  53. So if I'm reading the early part of your comment (or is it article?) correctly, atheism only exists because it isn't theism. Does it work inversely? Or are we dealing with the goings on of society that religion is the norm? If we are, then if atheism were to trump religion, and this much favoured world of no religion you've stated in wanting is to come to life, then it wouldn't really be atheism any more, as there is no religion. I'm not sure if you'll understand - the hindrance of cyber-space keeps my words to a very objective level and need a bit more fleshing out.
    Now see what you've done here is good. Firstly: You've given a definition of atheism. Secondly: You've put it in proportion to where religion stands. Thirdly: You've given reason to be an atheist outside of problems with religion.
    My question: Why doesn't Dawkins do this? Or Hitchen's? Perhaps they do, but why hasn't the ordinary viewer such as myself, willing to take in both sides of the God tale into account, heard about it? And I'm not using the faults in atheism to suggest God exists (as many atheists do inversely with religion to discount His existence) I'm merely suggesting the reason atheism seems intent on remaining a minority, and a seperation of Church and State (note Church, not God) seems as stagnant as ever before.
    And also, my spiel about offence to religion being offence to theism still stands up as correct in my eyes. If a force from outside a circle is attacking something inside, as is the case here, then one abiding by the circle as whole would take notice - ie, burning a finger on a stove sends pain messages around the body to the head. That sort of thing. Religion still belongs to theism, and it would be cold to discount what is a large majority of it.
    Just as one can come to a realisation or conclusion about the Universe and God not existing, one can come to the conclusion God does. It seems highly selective to say there is a piece of mind with the conclusion we are all alone in a meaningless Universe without direction, and this is a sound conclusion to draw. Theism makes a conclusion. Religion takes this conclusion into account and uses historical figures like Mahommed and Christ to give meaning to it all and a sense of moral order to abide by.
    Surely having both realisation and teaching is better than only one, which, if you're assumption of theism is correct, is the case.

  54. Yes, it got a bit long winded. I did try to trim it as much as possible while keeping a clear message. (and it looks like I failed again)

    Except for placing atheism as a counter to religion, again, you got it exactly right; When there would be no more theism, there would also be no more atheism. The non-theistic view of the world won't change one bit, but it wouldn't be called Atheism anymore. (much like Pluto is not a planet anymore. The icy rock is still there, we're just not calling it a planet)

    Atheism, being a byproduct of other ideas, it can't really be promoted as a goal itself. Even my response to your "what does atheism offer" question, can't be an incentive for an atheistic view because it's post hoc reasoning, and there's no point in saying "being an atheist is better" to people who think atheism is the worst possible thing.
     What Dawkins, Hitchens and other atheist public figures do is promote critical thinking, rationality and evidence based decision making. Things of obvious value that may eventually make people atheistic, but not necessarily. Religion's promotion and protection of vices such as magical thinking, faith and obedience to authority makes it a target for skeptical minds, and the fact that those vices are tied to a theistic core is just a bonus from an atheist's perspective, who's skepticism would just as gladly poke fun at Woo-mongers.

    When atheists use religion to disprove existence of god(s) they don't point to "faults" of religion, they point to religious claims about god(s) that show obvious contradiction to observed reality or other religious claims (or both), which the religious doesn't considre as a fault. For the same reason theists can't use "faults of atheism" to suggest god(s) exist because any such "fault" can be reduced to atheism being godless, which isn't considered a fault by atheists.
     It's more line drawing than anything else. Once side insists everyone should join it, while the other point out why not to join. The contention is that some people are convinced by the other side's argument, and switch sides, which last I heard, is more from religious/theism to non-religious/atheism.

    Your perception of kinship to theistic religion is if anything, your personal fault, as I'm sure you'll find the same unacceptable contradictions atheists do in religious texts. (otherwise you'de be religious)
     You're probably disagreeing with the religious just as much as I do about what flavour life should have, the only issue is that like the religious, you insist there should be a cherry on top while I don't. What you fail to notice is that not only do I not care if there is a cherry on top, exacly because I don't think there should be one, the religious insist the cherry is an Avium while you think it's a Sargentii.
     You should first decide who's your "enemy" before arguing "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". (which is a misguided saying anyway)

  55. Good. We're reaching agreements here. Although, inevitably, there are some disagreement's you'll need to give me notice for.
    Definitely: no more atheism, no more theism/ no more theism, no more atheism. You're analogy seems correct enough, although in my eyes it doesn't quite hold. I'd think of the two as relative - there are ends to both, and they need each other to survive, to exist. They complete each other. (To quote the Joker) Say, for example, if there was a universal belief held by all people, and absolutely no objection, no doubt whatsoever existed, then this creates more of a fact, and belief is definitely not the case any more. Transposing this to the God equation, a belief in God is only capable because there is the chance to not believe.This relativity also works in a neat way to dissect The Problem Of Evil, which pipes up a lot.
    I seem to see no problem in religion preaching faith if it used to good means - look at the life of altruists, like Mother Theresa and, even more recently, Australia's Mary McKillop. Sure their miracles come into question, but the good deeds they do, like helping the empoverished and working for education for all, are what are to be recognised. This, here, is what faith can do as well. It might seem a little shallow to you, but without a belief in God and a certain grace, there is no doubt the worlds they lived in would be worse.
    And I'd like to hear some of these problems with religious texts and morality; I've been discussing these haugtily with a friend and found some sustenance in religious texts.
    And now when we're talking about flavour in life, and such, it seems I should spell out almost entirely what I belief about religion and God: religion is a generally good device (or structure) which figures like Christ and Buddha who should be followed and their lives strong advocates for the rest of us. Much of the teaching is good. My personal problems with religion arise when the Church, for example, tries to change the world around it without letting the world change it. The current Pope's recent comments on AIDS and homosexuality are entirely wrong. There is nothing good from there, and this is an example of the Church trying to change the world.
    If you want to, recently Anne Rice said: 'I quit being Christian, but continue to follow Christ.' There is no real reason why individuals cannot do that. There is no reason why people must listen to what the Church says about Jesus and so on, for other beliefs, when they can do it themselves. I'll side with Anne Rice here.
    I'd like to know how you feel about that.

  56. I think you're making an equivocation error. Theism and atheism doesn't require each other in order to exist, only the labels do. Humans were atheists before they invented gods, they just had no label for it because there were no gods in human consciousness to be a believer about their existence. Once the god idea took hold in the population and the majority (if not all) were theists, there still wasn't a label for that either, because atheistic views were rare if at all existed, and difficult to express due to the lack of labels. It could be just a chance that the structure of the Greek language enabled us to give an understandable label to the concepts of "with gods" and "without gods".  In short: The labels need each other for existence, the belief/non-belief itself, doesn't.
     Also, having the entire population believe/not-believe the same thing, have no bearing on the existence of said thing. Having the whole world believe a single specific god exists, creates only the fact that the population shares the concept, not that the entity exists in testable reality. And the same goes the other way around: Having the entire world not believe a specific god exists, or even believe a specific god doesn't exist, doesn't effect the acual existence of said god.
     A belief in god(s) exist becuase humans are pattern seeking-intention thinking creatures, not because some of them don't.

    The problem in religion preaching faith is that the faith concept "spills over" from religion and then runs unchecked and causes more harm than just within the religious framework. Believing something when there's no evidence is directly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the inquisitions, and believing something despite contradicting evidence is responsible for horribly preventable deaths today due to witholding medical attention.
     The only thing I know of Mary <span>McKillop is that she reported sexual abuse by priests nearly 140 years before her church confessed such crimes were taking place under it's protection (which for that alone I'll give her saint status), so let's take </span><span>Mother Theresa as an example of faith doing terrible harm. And withing the frame of religion, no less:</span>
     I don't know if it's official doctrine, but <span>Mother Theresa's faith was that suffering is good for the soul. That is why she worked hard in setting up dying houses under the guise of hospitals, where the impoverished could come and prolong their suffering as much as possible, while thinking they're getting medical attention. In actuality, money raised by her was used to fund women's convents, not drugs or food to the needy who were suffering from treatable and starvation based diseases.</span>
     And that's desptire her atheism she was so ashamed of, which makes her story all the worse.

    Religious morality was out of date when it was written, can only pass as simplistic and childish morality today by stripping it of all context, and if you wish to shoehorn it into the theistic/atheistic debate, at best, it won't work in favour of theism.

    I agree there are historical figures worth emulating, very much so in the case of Siddhārtha Gautama (The Buddha) who preached non-theism (not atheism) and anti-faith.
     In the case of Jesus it's more of a problem as there's no consistant history to his life and teachings, except the obvious conclusion within historical context, which makes him an apocalypticist who believed the world would literaly end within a few decades, which makes following him not such a good idea. (especially as they're out of date and obviously wrong due to that fact)
     When people say they "follow [...]

  57. "Prey" is an appropriate mistake here.

    I see that you put atheist in quotes. It is only due to your ignorance. It's too bad your mind is so tiny and limited. I will certainly not pray for you....not only because I don't believe in that, but because you're a complete idiot.

  58. (This is quite frustrating: for a few days now the site has stopped me posting messages, saying they're more than 5000 characters)

  59. Ah. So it seems subjectivity has invaded our little conversation here.
    When man invented god(s)? Has god - to a theist - not always been there? After all, He was the primal cause of the Universe. (But we don't need to get into that again.) The 'evolution' of religion has only been so because man the Universe he inhibits has changed, along with his understanding of it. The understanding of what God entails and how to live a life with meaning without worrying about the next is the presidence of religion.

  60. Say, for example, a belief in God has answered bigger problems like existential angst, the reason to love and so on, have been reinforced by personal, subjective experiences of something beyond the conclusive, objective evidence. (For, after all, isn't everything relative and subjective?) You've often said people site God for things they do not understand. This entails there will be, or is, some answer to the question. Yet this seems somewhat fallacious - these questions of the meaning of life and so on will forever evade us, just as the nature of the Universe does.
    Onto religion, just as one can re-imagine the lives lost because of religion, one can also site the lives changed and even saved. These go unheralded, as the nature of the media and journalism is today (sadly) to emphasise and re-emphasise the failings of the world, religion included. The good goes unheralded, even expected, of faith in cases. A belief that by doing good they are adhering to a plan (one that answers the Big questions) helps sustain countless millions around the world to do good.
    You are very right to say there is damage done in the name of the religion... yet this is primarily the same problem with money, land and race. These cause problems, wars and such, and account for a tonne of suffering around the world. And yet picture a world without material benefits, which do make things interesting and cater to needs, or cultural diversity or the national pride which fills a large part of many lives. Just as there are negatives, there are positives. If we were to scrap religion, should we also scrap money and land and nations? This competition and indifference makes life interesting and worth living.
    Religions values are out of date? What? Again you are arguing from your primary point - that religion is bad - to supercede any positive view of the Bible and other Holy Books. Christ, as I know him the best from all the others, preached compassion, trust and brotherhood. Values such as these are beyond time, that is, they are applicable all the time, from 21AD to 2010AD.
    You say Christ's inconsistency is his downfall and you hinge his existence, and further goodness, upon this. The Bible in its form is the best evidence they have to offer. I'm sure there were plenty of noteworthy attempts to capture the miracles on film and record the words of Christ preaching on an MP3. Again: it's the best evidence to offer. And parts on the apocolypse and time of judgement, like lots of Christs other talks, should be taken metaphorically, or personally, to try and resolve oneself before death. Or something like that. (I'm not so sure where you got that from anyway.) You should blame those bastardly 1st Century technologies for Christ's haziness, not Christ himself.
    And finally, as for this God cherry you've plucked from somewhere, the point of what I've been saying is a personal, subjective view of an objective being, which coincides with the different religions, and, within them, the splits they create (like the different branches of Judaism). And the cherry does taste quite nice, too.

  61. Invaded? Subjectivity never left the conversation, only stepped aside when facts needed adressing.

    I actually considered adding a bracketed comment of 'discovered, if you wish' next to 'invented', but then thought you'll understand I'm writing about my view and not yours, so I didn't.

    A theist's first cause claim is another post-hoc rationalisation. The only thing we can be certain of is that at some point the god idea was introduced into the human psyche, which means that prior to that event all humans were atheists. Claiming the god idea existed prior to it's conception bears the burden of proof, which hasn't been met.

    And that's without even referencing religion. (are you confusing theism and religion intentionally, or actually having trouble differentiating the two?)

  62. The only fallacy I see is your claim that certain questions will never be answered.
    Existential angest? - Answered.
    Reason for love? - Answered.
    Meaning of life? - Answered.
    Nature of the universe? - Great advances have been made in the last 100 years towards answering that, and although not fully answered yet, god(s) people claim exist have been thoroughly dismissed as an option. (well before Hawking's latest book)
     Theists' refusal to accept those answeres due to the exclusion of their gods, doesn't make the answer not valid. Not even adding meaningless "what does it mean" on top of the given answer.
     In any case, "god" is not an answer to any of those question. "God" is handwaving, misdirection, a way of avoiding acknowledgement of ignorence while faking self importance. "God did it" or "god wanted it so" are not answers, it's not even reasoning. It's at best, a "don't worry, someone's in charge" answer, and at worst, a "don't ask that" answer.

    I didin't say "<span>religious values are out of date", I said: '</span><span>Religious morality was out of date when it was written'. Take Jesus for example; Sure, he preached compassion... towards his fellow Jews. He also advocated the murderously xenophobic (not to mention sexist) laws of the old testament.</span>
     I also didin't say "<span>Christ's inconsistency is his downfall", I said the Jesus story is inconsistant so "following his teachings" is a game of pick and choose, that there's no agreement between the pickers and choosers, which makes the whole "enterprise" into quite literaly a game. I don't doubt people enjoy that game, but it's not to everyone's taste.</span>

    The god cherry was plucked from your mind, and not by me. It's you that insists that there is a cherry that will taste really good in my mind, if I'll think about it hard enough, but I know thinking about things doesn't make them become real. At best I can make myself think something is real, but the name for that is 'delusion', and I don't want to subscribe to that.

  63. It'd be interesting to hear what you think the answer to existentialist angst is. The greatest minds on the topic - Nietzche and Sartre - merely accepted that it exists, it should be embraced, and we should smoke lots of ciggarettes. To billions of people, a godless Universe and imaginings we are alone here is more depressing than the relieving thought that 'hoorah! there is no hell to worry about!'. The basis of existentialism is finding a personal meaning to ones existence and workings things out for oneself. That is all well and good. Yet as to a guide, or even an ordered moral code, for existentialists to abide by, where will it come from? Certainly not from within, that's for sure.
    Well, (curse this damned subjectivity) what is the reason to love? It is merely a point of self-interest, to better ones trust with others? This leads to an unfalsifiable hypothesis on the subject and the subliminal agreement on man's part that any actions, no matter how quick or irrational, are done with oneself's best interests at heart. Thousands of years of thought still do not have the answer to why we should love. You can write all the beautiful poetry and sing the most amazing songs, but at the end of the day the compelling force between one person and another remains out of focus and unanswerable - that is, it is more than a determined force that can easily be manipulated.
    If our basic primal urges have taught us anything it's that surely the meaning of life is to merely reproduce, survive for as long as possible and pass on our genes. Is that it? To you, what is the meaning of life? Man has reached a point in his history where the applications of genetics and the basics of evolution no longer can surmise for us, if raised on principals for the whole animal kingdom.
    Again: you cannot pair science with atheism, or science with theism, as science is merely an observation. I've never said one needs to discount science in order to pose Big questions. The Big questions exist because scientific thought cannot answer them.
    And as for man's understanding of the Universe, it remains based upon theoritical science and that mystical series of rules to explain everything is forever out of our reach, like a fat kid chasing a donut on a treadmill. To put the scientific principals into action requires experiments. Experiments in space under Universal conditions are yet to be conducted, or completely void of misrepresentation. For example, we don't know the construction of black holes, or their contents, or their nature.
    If one goes 'looking' for God in space, perhaps as a man on a cloud in space, there is no doubt there will be inconclusive evidence. As I've tried preaching before, any evidence for God's existence will run inconclusive on an objective level. Deeper, personal interpretation of God is required here for meaning and truth, for the Universe only exists because it does so in each of our individual heads.

    Now I'd much prefer to avoid personal attacks here, but surely you've noticed the trend here in our comments. There's a complete discontent for any of the gains of religion and any chance for God's existence, based upon your own personal faith (or lack of) and the likeminded people you adhere to - I'm guessing Christopher Hitchens and his The Missionary Position - seems almost fundamentally against what atheism strives to destroy: fundamentalists. Hard-core religious nuts preach their word as the only one and discount any others. Is this not what you're doing here? It seems atheism has evolved to such a point that its pertent indoctrination of itself is mimicking the 'free-thought' it fights against (which is also slightly a lauded phrase for its fallacious nature).

  64. Besides for the fact that science is atheistic (in the sence that it doesn't supposes gods for explenations) I'll agree it can't be paired with atheism or theism, but asserting that some questions "belong" (as propery) to theism/religion and therefore science can't answer them (in the sense that it must not because it would do so without gods/metaphysical framework) is arrogance. Which is exactly what I explained in my last post: "<span>Theists' refusal to accept those (science's) answeres due to the exclusion of their gods, doesn't make the answer not valid."</span>
     The same goes for your "<span>forever out of our reach" claim. The fact that we can't explain something to absolute certainty right now, doesn't mean we'll never be able to. And the subsequent claim that because of that an endlessly more unattainable entity exists, is an argument from ignorance. (an "I don't know X, therefore I do know Y" claim)

    If theistic religion had any gains that weren't "weighed down" by retarding human progress (by today's standards, of course), then it might be considered as more than a pointless allocation of resources.

    In order to Be discontent about existence of god(s), one must be a theist, so it can't be due to adhering to either theists or atheists.

    As I explained earlier, Atheism is not an -ism. It's not against anything or trying to destroy anything, it's simply the lack of a belief in god(s).
    Maybe you haven't noticed, but you are an atheist as well. You don't believe Zeus, Aphrodite, Hades and others exist, so you are an atheist about them. Are you "<span>striving to destroy fundamentalists"?

  65. Firstly, does anyone still believe in Ancient Greek gods?
    As for the existence and human understanding, I acknowledge we're making ground breaking scientific steps forward in understanding how things work, but to reach the Mecca that scientists see as forming a set of rules for explaining how things work will remain out of reach because it implies everything can be determined, everything is rational and we can adhere to this rationality. Say, for example, how will man begin to understand the Universe if we can't understand each other? Take the scientific conquest into our minds - true, some things work, others do not, yet the constant bickering between professionals and the like over how different parts of the brain associate themselves to different things continues to run inconclusive with a rule to govern it.
    Don't get me wrong - it would be all very nice and good and warm if man could truly work out a way to describe everything, and I'm sure we'll make valiant attempts to, yet such understanding remains out and beyond our understanding.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't most of our dealings with space and time and whatnot theoretical? Our actual, scientifically tested forms of working with experiments to find out about the Universe is limited. Take Einstein's relativity theories and whatnot. They are all thought experiments, they are all calculations that, by abiding by the current laws and agreements we know from prior understanding, hope to inductively align to everything else. Inductive evidence is all we have to run on to try and describe the 99.99999% of the Universe we do not know and will probably never see, if science is correct in saying it is so big.
    And atheist about them? Still seems to run falls. Atheism is a rejection of anything metaphyscial. If one believes something metaphysical, then one is not an atheist. Wouldn't I really be an atheist atheist, because I don't believe what atheism is describing?

  66. Firstly, yes. (Sam Harris got some angry letters for using those as an example of "dead gods")
    As I explained in an earlier post, Atheism isn't a rejection and not of anything metaphysical. Atheism can be a result of rejection if a theist rejects his belief, but by itself it's simply the concept of being without a belief that god(s) exist.
     Quite a few atheists actually have beliefs about metaphysical stuff; Reincarnation, untestable energy fields, external power of thoughts... But none of that stuff is considered as a self aware entity capable of intention, or anything resembling even the lowest common denominator of the many concepts of god(s).

    "F<span>orming a set of rules for explaining how things work" doesn't "imply everything can be determined", only that everything can be calculated. Today we know that subatomic particles can't be determined, and that's very far from rational.</span>
    (Then you seem to go on to confuse understanding the brain as a structure with understanding the mind as a process, which from both the god idea was sliced away by Occam's Razor many years ago)
     To sum it up: The fact of scientific progress makes the positing of an unknowable a silly notion of a quitter's attitude, a lazy man's solution to a non-existing problem, as many of today's technological givens are built upon the "unknowables" of mere centuries past.

    Here I'll correct you, because you're wrong:
    The sting hypotheiss ("M theory") is the only "theory" I know of that is yet to be put to the test, and that's because we don't have the technological capability to do so, but the particle accelerator built to replace the LHC would probably do it. (if not the LHC itself)
     Relativity was established as fact almost as fast as it was understood. Not only did it solve the problem of Mercury that Newtonian mechanics couldn't (and made Newton use god to "plug the hole" where his  theory of gravity failed), evidence for it being accurate was captured on photograpic plates in 1920, and many more times since. (If the Wikipedia article isn't enough, ask Google about "gravitational lensing" to see the most beautiful evidence of Relativity)
     Btw, you know what a GPS system is, right? I bet you didn't know that it's a practical application of relativity.

  67. Okay. So it seems you're quite interested in science and physics and whatnot.
    "The fact of scientific progress makes the posting of an unknowable a silly notion of a..." person much akin to the arts side of things to the scientific? Don't get me wrong: science is all well and good and has made immeasurable advances for human kind, but arts are incredibly more interesting. But that's just my view.
    It seems here you're implying a rational understanding of things is nice. I would be beg to differ: irrationality is what makes life interesting, in that the unknowable, the uncalculable, is something to set ones nerves on edge or get things racing. I don't want to sound very... mundane here, but surely a Universe where everything is/was/and will be accounted for would be quite dull. It seems that by figuring out everything we are merely enhancing the characteristics of any divine Creator, by interpreting such events as miraculous and the sustainability of things (like this crazy Universe) as incredible. By allowing, if not leaving, irrationality in the world, all our ghost stories, horror movies, romantic movies... hell, most of our forms of entertainment and even in sports will be rendered predictable, nonchalant and pointless. The reason people live their lives is because they don't know what will happen tommorow.

    As a side note, back to our religion and subjectivity quarrels, I'm interested as to where you locate yourself in this big world of ours. I'm guessing our views on religion will most probably differ due to our national identity.

  68. Also, a belief in anything metaphysical would be untestable through human means, like reincarnation and the others you sited. It is this 'inconclusive testing' that runs God as a metaphysical aspect out of atheist thought. Here, your atheist friends who maintain a belief in reincarnation are, it seems, merely picking what parts of religion and faith they see as nice and hoping that they can logically split themselves apart from a belief in God.
    Which they cannot. Where would one draw the line? There isn't one. Accepting a belief in some metaphyscial accepts a belief, or a chance of belief, in all metaphysical.

  69. Again, you're reading into my words conclusions from your own mind.
    Science doesn't diminish the arts in the slightest, if anything, it enhances it. Take Leonardo DaVinci for example, what made him endlessly creative and a great artist was his scientific inclination.
     'Rational understanding is nice' is something do I wish to imply, not in a mathematical reductionist way you seem to view it, but in an awe inspiring complexity to marvel at and explore. Contemplating an <span>unknowable is quite the definition of irrationality and if that's creativity, it's creativity in a vaccum and is confined by the mind's first impulse. Contemplating the unknown, on the other hand, is a virtually endlessly replenishing creativity as unknowns become known, expand the mind's perspective and create greater unknowns to contemplate.</span>
     Greater understanding will probably never by an "ultimate understanding" in a god-like omniscient way, and the view that science may one day reach it and "suck all creativity" out of the human experience, is an example of the limitation of insisting on an unknowable and avoiding a deeper understanding. (not to mention diminishing to the entity purposed to have created it all, while knowing the result beforehand)
     It is already a fact that there is more to know than one person can ever know, so there's no fear of that happening, and the impossible calculations needed in order to predict anything more than a vague specific within a presupposed conditions, will forever prevent us from reducing everything to "cold math". And that's a product of science; The realization that in order to calculate the universe, we'll need two or more universes with which to calculate the one.

    You want to know where I locate myself religiously?
    I thought it was obvious I'm not religous (if I didn't mention it) and national identity has nothing to do with it, I simply grew up in a non-religous community and when religion came to my attentiong, I thought it was very strange. (National identity, if I ever had one before I decided it's just as silly, came later)

  70. I have to agree with you here. The idea of god(s) most likely preceded the idea of reincarnation and so one must imply the other, but I wouldn't stretch it to all metaphysical concepts.
     We also have to remember that that theism/atheism is a concept of personal belief about deities, and if a person is taught about reincarnation within a self-contained godless framework, that person could be a metaphysical believing "proper" atheist. We can argue about should that framework include god(s) or not, but in the end, if the person maintains their belief in godless reincarnation, insisting they're wrong in their belief is exactly as insisting that a theist or deist are wrong in their belief.

  71. Actually, I would have to say national identity has quite a large impact on what we believe. The media across the world limits and/or allows the viewpoints of religious or atheist news and so on due to the national standards and traditions. Say, for example, over here in Australia (I'm guessing you're probably not from Oz) the new-found atheism and secularism seems to have gathered momentum, only for it to be shot down by the unnavoidable tradition and way-of-life created here through Christian upbrining. I'm guessing in the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, very much the opposite must be true - theism is a minority, atheism the majority.
    Anyway, so  - it seems to me - undermining the thought process of rigid scientific practice to devulge the secrets of the Universe is the wonder and awe associated with something incredible, something hinting at design. The further and further we go into how things work and the momentuous structure of things gives light to elements of design, and from that, God.
    I think your original point with the science/faith debate was modern understandings of reality have renderred past religions ideas useless. In the above comment, you've hit a contradiction - we'll need to or more universes to understand this one, and yet from this understanding we are shutting off the door to theistic belief.
    And as a personal note, I think we'll need to make a distinction between art and science. Art itself makes the world worth living, for it gives light to imagination, a sense of creation and instincts of design. Living purely scientifically would only devulge observations and ruling; any expressions of such rules are artistic. It may sound quite shallow and preachy, yet art is what makes life worth living, science just formulation of answers.

  72. There is not contradiction, you're consistantly misunderstanding me.
    My original point in reply to yours about the possibility of being a theist and not religious, was that it's true yet no different than a child's imaginary friend, as modern explanations of reality (AKA: science) has successfully replaced god(s) with simple rules of matter/energy interaction in all areas where religion previously claimed devine control, and rendered god(s) as either obiously false or a vague notion persisting by cultural inertia alone. Mentioning more than one universe was only to address the "heartless science explains away wonderment" point, and in order to illustrate how impossible that is.
     To understand the universe... We seem to do quite well even with the very small portion of it which we can barely see. To predict it to the point when even a single person thinks creativity is pointless as a result, let alone the whole species... Not even if we had a whole "spare' universe to "play with".

    "<span>Art itself makes the world worth living"? Maybe to a die hard artist. Myself, as a person not artistic in the least, not even a consumer of art (although that's debatable as the concept of art changes about as fast as the technology that facilitates it), I find that statement extremely curious because I never considred living as something that needs encouraging. My early years were mostly fun and games (and school), and now that I understand a little bit more, I find that dying is what requires special reasons, as living... Well, comes naturally.

    About nationality, I think you meen tredition, as nationality is a complex political concept one needs to be aware of, while tredition frames one's life from birth.
    I don't know what you mean by "<span>secularism shot down by tradition", I'm sure I would've heard (from at least the Tazmanian of the several podcasts I listen to) if your government would've decided to include prayer in the national health service, or something like that.

  73. It seems here
    -(we might be going round in circles)-
    you're discounting the entire existence of God by using examples which detest previous thoughts of God: ie, we no longer pray to the heavens for rain, or worship the seasons like man would've in primitive times. This way of inductive argument goes with trends (of which needn't neccessarily be correct) to extrapolate and work out the end result. Most certainly, recent advances in scientific reason can be taken in two ways - the idea that God is being filled by these discoveries of new forces, electric fields and whatever else, or, inversely, all the careful precision and laws of the Universe frame the picture of a Creator.
    Also, modern explanations of reality have always, in a sense, been around. We cannot simply say that in the year 2010, for example, we turned a page and decided to label everything we do as modern. Science has always been around - everybody is scientific, everybody deals with the basic scientific principles of questioning, examining, experimenting and so on so forth. It is only merely people like yourself (both atheist and theist) who have decided to frame science with a capital S, that is, a branch of knowledge one can only access by acting a certain way or believing certain things... not a right we all have, or an instinct - if you may - we all share.
    As for nationality and ideas of nationhood.... we've hit quite the pothole here. Nationhood, to me, is one of the greatest pieces of identity. It's a sad reflection of prior histories to state one doesn't have one. I don't want to sound patronising or preachy yet I find it hard to believe one can hold such a mistrust of nationhood to themselves.
    Seems we've found ourselves dealing with existentialism. You've taken the existence preceeds essence, compared to my essence preceeding existence. I think life does need encouraging - the mere fact you, individually, and myself individually are the smallest of odds - one only needs to look at the number of sperm and eggs cells involved with fertilisation, etc, and trace this back through the millions of generations of life we all share, to find the figures quite amazing. Sure, we can place it against chance - and yet it seems no coincidence you and I are both alive today, in November in 2010, having this online conversation. And I'd hardly think living comes naturally - perhaps on the scale of our lives alone, yes, but in the grand scheme, life can just as easily have not existed as it does - pointing again towards a coincidence?/chance? divide.
    Death, too, is natural. All good things must, in turn, come to an end. And what's to fear? How do we know death is anything bad, considering no one alive has ever experienced it? Perhaps the afterlife - to both you and I, all differences taken into consideration - is something to look forward too. But I don't know and no one will either.

  74. Yes, we're going in circles. I may not have hinted to it at the time, but I remarked to myself that we've circled back. (which would make this "round two" : )

    I'm discounting god(s) on the basis that the notion is literaly unbelievable. The fact that previous ideas of god(s) were in a different "shape" than today is meaningless to the question of believing the current "form" exists, and even if it was, I find no niche for either to fill, except that of fiction.

    'Modern', of course, is a subjective term, the point is that "our" 'modern' is much better than all previous 'moderns'. Science, on the other hand, has been around only for about 400 years, approximately since Galilei. Sure there was some very successful trial and error progression and insightful speculation, but science as a conceptual enterprise came to be only when the information shared was not only the discoveries, but the method of discovery itself.
     Science (with or without a captial S) is not "a <span>branch of knowledge", it is knowledge, that's the meaning of the word that was adopted to represent a certain way of gathering and refining it. Science is not a "right", it's a method, a process... Definitely not an instinct, as the main purpose of what is now refered to as 'science' is to prevent personal bias</span><span></span>.

    I agree that nationhood has great importance... To those who give it that importance. I don't. I do have a nationality, it's just not a defining part of my self identity, no more than an historical reference.

    And here we go again with pointlessly large numbers... Contemplating all the history of the world taking it's course for the purpose of this communication, is only applicable under the assumption that such chain of events can be predicted, or at least, controled. As I don't make that assumption, I don't see the point.
     Retrospect gets more impressive the more detail you add, but at the same time, the more detail you add the likelihood of a guiding hand or a planning mind at the begining of it, decreces at the same rate you increase your awe. Fact remains: We're here now, so even if it is a coincidence, the chance of this communication happening is 1.

  75. And so this view discounts any of the attempts of mathematics and their attempts with probability and such. True the present day fact remains, yet I don't understand why we need to take out retrospect in order to give our lives a sense of meaning and purpose. If anything increasing retrospect increases the weight of a creator, or an intervener, as the chances of you and I being alive (and talking to one another) are either fact, that is, intended, or victims of immensely miniscule chance. Perhaps a random occurance provides a sense of (wierd) comfort to you, but I'd prefer the idea there was an intention and purpose behind my life, objective to my existence.
    As for the history of Science - nothing that capital s - I'm sure ancient civilisations themselves worked with numbers and predictions and so on; say, for example, Ancient Greece and workings with mathematics, and astronomy. Perhaps now, with our newer technologies and so on we can discount their conclusions, yet at the time their findings were as real as our work today on electromagnetism and whatever else. When I say science is an instinct, I'm referring to the simplicity of it all: of the scientific method, the laws and logical occurences. Anyone, even animals, use this kind of trial and error reasoning to work out their own rules. And therefore, singling science as a school of thought on its own, only accessible by living a certain way and listening to what others think, seems highly pretentious. I may have just underlined what you said, yet the subliminal 'conceptual enterprise' aspect of sciences evolution is, again, erring on the snobby, prudish aspects of which aim to pit itself against other modes of thought.

  76. The question of retrospect probability has nothing to do with meaning/purpose in life, it's a post-hoc rationalization placed in support of a an already standing assumption, that there is a purposeful causal connection between now and then. Not making the assumption dismisses the whole as a fun but otherwise pointless mental exercise.

    The scientific method may be simple to explain, but it's anything but simple to apply due to it's counter-intuitiveness. Even today people are reluctant to accept results that contradict their assumptions, you think they were ready to do so at an age when it might make them socially outcast or put to death?
     Trial and error is not logic, it's common sense, which is virtually the antithesis of logic. If ancient discoverers had logic among their tools, their conception of the world may not have been so wrong.
     If we look at ancient civilizations we see them performing impressive feats of engineering, but no science beyond the individual inventor, who sells his invention or skill as a solution or a problem solver, not as a discoverer. What we may call scientific discoveries were made accidentaly, always in a very narrow field, and rarely applied at a wider scope. That was left for the next generation.
     If any science was done in ancient times, it was "meta-science": Scientific results due to gradual cultural change, not intention by any single person or society.

    Science is not singled out from anyone or requires a certain way of life, only that the "rules of the game" will be followed in order to "play".
     For example:
    If the rules state that a player must not touch the ball with their hand, the one who does will be removed from play and will not be considered a player.  That's science: No one prevents anyone from "joining the game", but if someone doesn't "play by the rules", no one who does will "play" with them.

    Saying science is <span> snobby, prudish or contrarian is like complaining the rules of the game are too demanding, which only reflects on the speaker.

  77. Funnily enough here you're comparing science to soccer (football) and the rules it entails: soccer is perhaps the worst sport in the world, acknowledging its stand as the most popular, but thats a story for another day. And yet undermining you're example is my personal view of soccer (and therefore on science) why must the rules be complicated, or contradictary, or enough hours of boredom to the viewer? There is nothing objective in the world: a reflection on the speaker shouldn't be discounted because its an individual thought.
    You've thrown in meta here in a very contrary term to how (I think) it should be applied. Meta-science? That is simply meta-physics, or closer to philosophy as a broader subject, and our dealings on anything 'meta' have been rendered useless by yourself and vital by me.
    Seeing as our debate is dwindling away to pointless nonsense, back to the beginning primum mobile of this little conversation: David Attenborough on God. Or, primarily, the old evolution discounting God idea. To you, personally, to believe on can believe in God and maintain a positive view of evolution at the same time? [Just so happens this same question was posed to Richard Dawkins, so it would be nice to see just how far his indoctrination spreads] Also, I'm interested to know what you think of The Selfish Gene as a way to detail the very irrational ideas of love and hate as rational basis found wroght within our genes.

  78. Football (soccer, if you insist) is not a sport, it's a game. Change it to whatever you like, the pricipal stays te same: If you don't play by the concensus rules, you're not playing the game.
     Your personal opinion doesn't undermine the example, it underlines it: Whatever you think of it, the rules are what makes the game and if you change the rules, you'll change the game. Then comes in the part that this analogy can't convey, which is the fact that there is objectivity in "the world", and that's reality. Or... Maybe the analogy can convey it by pointing to the fact that no matter where soccer is played, according to the concensus rules, the outcome is identical. (90min actual play, low score results and rare exceptions)
     The game is what it is because of it's rules and your view that they're complicated or it's boring is not discounted, only dismissed as opinion when put against a concensus.

    I may have used 'meta' wrong, but there is no way you can confuse my intention with metaphysics without ignoring the whole paragraph, and especially the sentense following the possibly wrong use of 'meta', which explains exactly what I ment by it: A result that can be determaind only in retrospect, after the non-meta definition has been established and by that judge if predecessors can be titled with it.

    I don't know what you mean by "positive view of evolution" but I think that theism doesn't necessarily dismiss the theory of natural selection, and natural selection most definitely not dismisses theism. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist first and an atheist second so I don't doubt his answer would be 'no'.
     I've been reading his books only since The God Delusion (which I picked up "blind" for the title alone) so my familiarity with his earlier work is mostly by reputation, but I think the Selfish Gene idea in general is quite good as I hear it fits very well within the framework of natural selection.

  79. Ah. Good to see you've highlighted the problem with Dawkins. The general belief is that he is an evolutionary biologist and purely scientific, rational person before he is an atheist. And fair enough: it's what he spruiks. The underlying problem here is that he is an atheist first: as a one moral or philosophical truth, the existence of God reigns high on our personal agendas. Science, after all, is merely an observation. Dawkins, however, insists that because he has compiled research, earned multiple degrees and whatnot and sold many books, he has a fair enough reputation to merge his rational understanding of the world to answer a problem which is beyond science and up for subjectivity.
    This is not done with religion alone: the Selfish Gene is a prime example of where his previous scientific work warrants him the effort to explain something unscientific scientifically - that is, love and hate. He concludes in one of his videos (which we watched in a science class at school) that we are, primarily, slaves to our genes as animals, using the small examples of ants as good worth for altruism. And yet altruism as a reason for evolutionary advancement? Seems to contradict the Hobbs-esque view he has of the State of Nature and a brutal survival of the fittest.
    Funnily enough, he goes further to acknowledge this concept and contradict himself by giving our selfish genes and pointless worht to describe our emotions and altruism. To put it simply: Dawkins is putting science in a bad light, using faulty logic and contradictions to base a Universal, "rational" view of love to tie it in with genetics in order to satisfy his creepy needs for all and complete understanding.
    This is really the only Dawkins works I've been able to properly think about and discuss with teachers and friends: I'm sure all his other crap is just as faulty, too.

  80. I agree you're an idiot.November 25, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    I believe that you're the ignorant one here. The fact that you say it sprung out of nothing. It didnt, theres more to it. And thats what were exploring, and we've come so closer over the years with different theories which are revelant and could be true. It did not spring out of nothing. It took thousands and millions of years for animals to evolve, for the earth and universe to develop. You're to ignorant to comprehend this so you go straight to God, its an easier option for simple minded people and people who are afraid of the truth. You cant comprehend how big the universe is, and how evolution works and how long it takes for things to evolve. Do your research before coming to the conclusion that life sprung out of nothing. Were not lucky to be here. Its a coinsidence. We could of evolved differently if we were in a different enviroment or if the world had developed differently. It something that just happens.

  81. I don`t see a problem. Dawkins uses his knowledge of evolutionary biology to explain why he`s an atheist. From what I gathered, you don`t like the fact that people are atheists so I`m not surprised a publically adamant atheist would strike a nerve.
     Your dislike of his explanation of whatever is irrelevant to the question of "theism±natural selection", which is a privete matter of the individual questioned, regardless of his knowlage in the field, due to it`s belief portion.

    And your assertion that emotions can not be explained scientifically circles our discussion back once more and starts our "round three", as we`re back to the topic I thought I explained well enough earlier: Your resentment to an explanation doesn`t invalidate it in any way.

  82. AHAHAAHAH! I don't mind people being atheists: cue earlier points on relativity - the only way belief would exist would be if there was doubt, and I like faith, and belief, therefore I should really not complain with atheists.

  83. If you don't mind people are atheists (I disagreed with your perception of belief/unbelief relationship back then as well) and thinks their existence is somewhat inevitable (if not necessary), let's agree to disagree and leave the arbitration to reality whenever we have contradicting beliefs.

  84. Agree? Sure, why not.
    Hope you have a very merry Christmas :-P

  85. I'll have to return that greeting because christmas is not celebrated where I am.

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