Study: not all scientists are atheists

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From RICE UNIVERSITY and the “thank goodness we don’t have to ignore Newton’s laws of physics now” department:

First worldwide survey of religion and science: No, not all scientists are atheists

Are all scientists atheists? Do they believe religion and science can co-exist? These questions and others were addressed in the first worldwide survey of how scientists view religion, released today by researchers at Rice University.

“No one today can deny that there is a popular ‘warfare’ framing between science and religion,” said the study’s principal investigator, Elaine Howard Ecklund, founding director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences. “This is a war of words fueled by scientists, religious people and those in between.”

The study’s results challenge longstanding assumptions about the science-faith interface. While it is commonly assumed that most scientists are atheists, the global perspective resulting from the study shows that this is simply not the case.

“More than half of scientists in India, Italy, Taiwan and Turkey self-identify as religious,” Ecklund said. “And it’s striking that approximately twice as many ‘convinced atheists’ exist in the general population of Hong Kong, for example, (55 percent) compared with the scientific community in this region (26 percent).”

The researchers did find that scientists are generally less religious than a given general population. However, there were exceptions to this: 39 percent of scientists in Hong Kong identify as religious compared with 20 percent of the general population of Hong Kong, and 54 percent of scientists in Taiwan identify as religious compared with 44 percent of the general population of Taiwan. Ecklund noted that such patterns challenge longstanding assumptions about the irreligious character of scientists around the world.

When asked about terms of conflict between religion and science, Ecklund noted that only a minority of scientists in each regional context believe that science and religion are in conflict. In the U.K. – one of the most secular countries studied – only 32 percent of scientists characterized the science-faith interface as one of conflict. In the U.S., this number was only 29 percent. And 25 percent of Hong Kong scientists, 27 percent of Indian scientists and 23 percent of Taiwanese scientists believed science and religion can coexist and be used to help each other.

In addition to the survey’s quantitative findings, the researchers found nuanced views in scientists’ responses during interviews. For example, numerous scientists expressed how religion can provide a “check” in ethically gray areas.

“(Religion provides a) check on those occasions where you might be tempted to shortcut because you want to get something published and you think, ‘Oh, that experiment wasn’t really good enough, but if I portray it in this way, that will do,'” said a biology professor from the U.K.

Another scientist said that there are “multiple atheisms,” some of which include religious traditions.

“I have no problem going to church services because quite often, again that’s a cultural thing,” said a physics reader in the U.K. who said he sometimes attended services because his daughter sang in the church choir. “It’s like looking at another part of your culture, but I have no faith religiously. It doesn’t worry me that religion is still out there.”

Finally, many scientists mentioned ways that they would accommodate the religious views or practices of the public, whether those of students or colleagues.

“Religious issues (are) quite common here because everyone talks about which temple they go to, which church they go to. So it’s not really an issue we hide; we just talk about it. Because, in Taiwan, we have people [of] different religions,” said a Taiwanese professor of biology.

Ecklund and fellow Rice researchers Kirstin Matthews and Steven Lewis collected information from 9,422 respondents in eight regions around the world: France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. They also traveled to these regions to conduct in-depth interviews with 609 scientists, the largest worldwide survey and interview study ever conducted of the intersection between faith and science.

By surveying and interviewing scientists at various career stages, in elite and nonelite institutions and in biology and physics, the researchers hoped to gain a representative look at scientists’ views on religion, ethics and how both intersect with their scientific work.

Ecklund said that the study has many important implications that can be applied to university hiring processes, how classrooms and labs are structured and general public policy.

“Science is a global endeavor,” Ecklund said. “And as long as science is global, then we need to recognize that the borders between science and religion are more permeable than most people think.”

###

The Templeton World Charity Foundation funded the study. The study also received support from Rice University and the Faraday Institute, housed at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge.

For more information, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, atdavid@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/. An extensive report about the study can be found at http://rplp.rice.edu/.

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473 thoughts on “Study: not all scientists are atheists

  1. Well the fact that humans created religion from the study of the sun, moon, and stars means religion was originally science.

    • Wow, Mark, you nailed it, I never thought it that way: There really is no conflict between science and religion – originally. It has always been a question of knowing the answers to the unknown!!!

    • Perhaps in its impulse but not in its method. Religion has never admitted to ignorance, and TRUE science does that all the time.

      • Depends on the type/subtype of the religion. Fundamentalist types generally don’t admit to ignorance. Others hold to certain core truths and allow for uncertainty in anything beyond those. “Religion” is not a monolithic entity, and it is very difficult to say anything meaningful if you treat it as such.

      • PBVQ4
        You say

        Perhaps in its impulse but not in its method. Religion has never admitted to ignorance, and TRUE science does that all the time.

        Please don’t make comments which demonstrate you haven’t a clue.
        Every religion seeks to know the infinite but asserts that true and complete knowledge is unobtainable. In other words, every religion proclaims that the only certainty is that everybody will always be ignorant of some important things. Heisenberg provided science with the same insight in the twentieth century.
        Richard

      • Bring on the trolls. “Religion has never admitted to ignorance, and TRUE science does that all the time.”
        Science is knowledge of certain things, it is not ignorance. Religion is knowledge of other things, it is not ignorance.

      • richard –
        Perhaps because implicit in true and complete knowledge would be the answer to “is there a God?”.
        Also implying that the correct answer to that question can not be known without having “true and complete knowledge”.

      • Michael 2
        December 4, 2015 at 7:21 am
        What is it that you imagine religions know and how do they or their adherents know it?
        Thanks.

        • Gloateus Maximus asks: “What is it that you imagine religions know and how do they or their adherents know it?”
          The possible answers are many; but surprisingly difficult to get a specific answer. I can only speak for myself with authority on this question. I started out with no religion in my home although some form of it is inescapable (Christmas, Easter for instance). I was probably a teenager when I put “Christ Mass” together. Curiously, I never considered mortality to be the beginning or end of existence, not that I thought about it a lot, but more than others it would seem.
          I believe reason can be applied to religion; that is to say, those parts of a true religion that withstand rational inspection are probably true parts. Science can only work on atoms and energy; for the simple reason that the instruments of science use atoms and energy and thus can only detect atoms and energy, and that’s a fine thing for building bridges and airplanes and so on.
          It is the incredibly sensitive nature of a human brain that can detect something else. Not sure what exactly. I’m a radio engineer among other things (1st Class FCC ticket back in the day) and learned about spark gap transmitters and receivers. It is rather likely that one human brain can couple to another, but that would happen only in the extremely rare instance of identical or nearly so configuration, same with the spark gap transmitter and receiver must be tuned to the same wavelength.
          While detections of this sort are rather common, what is difficult is distinguishing between real intelligence and last night’s pizza (or psychotropic drugs, etc). In my life I have had a number of remarkable events, twice with very specific language whose immediacy and relevance was unquestionable. In one, I was told to change lanes on the highway (3 lanes each direction, near the Aloha stadium). I changed lanes, and in the lane I had just vacated, coming over the hill at a very high rate of speed a drunken driver.
          Was that our “invisible sky protector”? Indeed it was. Just not very high in the sky and not much of a protector, more of an over-the-horizon radar.
          All this arguing about whether there’s a “god” is just one facet of the jewel; of course there’s a god, and a whole plethora of similar things not-god and sometimes not-good.
          So that’s part of my story. Now as to choosing a religion, I am not the only person with a story; so as I find other people with similar stories we congregate, and the next thing we know, we are a congregation!
          At some point people that do NOT have a story, join the congregation simply for the pleasure of being in a crowd, and eventually the socialites outnumber those with a story, and pretty soon they create a story and call it a liturgy, and use it as a gatekeeper to decide who gets to join this congregation, and the people with actual stories might even feel a bit unwelcome. But that’s a different story.

      • Michael 2,
        I said thanks in advance, so thanks again for the experiential basis of your epistemological certainty.
        You’re lucky that God protects you rather than seeks to inflict a lifetime of hunger, misery, loss, pain and suffering upon you, as is the lot of so many humans.

        • Gloateus Maximus wrote “thanks again for the experiential basis of your epistemological certainty.”
          I do not understand the phrase but sure, you’re welcome!
          “You’re lucky that God protects you rather than seeks to inflict a lifetime of hunger, misery, loss, pain and suffering upon you, as is the lot of so many humans.”
          I doubt that “luck” is much involved but whatever the reason I am indeed glad for it.

      • You may be among the Elect. Clearly the Deity has a wonderful plan for your life.
        When religious people say that atheism is a religion, I feel the same as I do when creationists claim that “scientism” is a religion. It’s hard for the faithful to realize that others can be happy, fulfilled and successful without any faith-based belief system at all, let alone a formal religion.
        Atheism isn’t a religion, but the lack of any religion. Many feel no need for sacred texts, rites or worship ceremonies. If they want fellowship beyond family, friends or work, they join a team or a club.
        Many atheists think that humans are no different from any other organism, so that when we die, there are no souls to live on, let alone a deity judging us and rating our performance so as to determine eternal bliss or torment.
        There are more or less rabid anti-theistical atheists, like Dawkins and the deceased Dirac, but IMO most aren’t antithetical to any or all religions. It’s just not for them. I for one am glad there are at least some religions, which is one reason why my agnosticism hasn’t gotten into the atheistical zone. Not all the time, anyway.

    • From “The Origins of Man” which is one of the books in a 1958 Catholic Encyclopedia series:
      “Just as philosophy replaced poetry and mythology in explaining the origins of the world and of man, so has science for the last few centuries taken over the quest from philosophy.
      Science differs from philosophy in that it is concerned not with the “final causes of things”, but with their proximate and immediate causes. It refuses to go beyond the facts. A scientific fact is a fact of physical observation, a fact registered by the senses and by the innumerable instruments which man has called in to supplement his senses. The facts once observed and registered are subjected when possible to precise verification in the form of experiments. But science ventures beyond the facts in attempting to explain them. This she achieves by first framing hypotheses and then, after verification, giving them the force of laws if their validity as explanation is confirmed. From this it follows that a hypothesis leads on to fresh observations, and is thus a kind of working tool. But a hypothesis aspires to become a scientific law, and becomes one as soon as it has successfully passed the test of experiment which it has itself set in train.”
      Originally written in French but I think the translation holds up well. Maybe the AGW crowd could learn something from this definition. BTW, I have a B.S. in Physics/Math and actively work in aerospace as an engineer. I also am a Catechist teaching Confirmation to SoCal teens. I am never bored!

      • A scientific fact can be something that is inferred, not just “observed”. From observations, we can deduce the reality of many unseen and unseeable things. Those are taken to be facts by the use of the rational mind using logical proofs.
        It is irksome to hear it repeated that something unseen and religious in nature or origin cannot be real because it cannot be seen, all the while holding many things to be true that are also unseen.
        Similarly there are things which are unknowable because the information necessary exists outside our frame of reference. A painter creates a painting. The painting, the created, is incapable of comprehending the painter, the creator.
        What constitutes a proof for a religious person, proof of the existence of the Creator and Revelation, is different for different people. Some are convinced by prayer, some by inspiration, some by logic, some by miracles, some by prophecy fulfilled, others through other means. Some require multiple forms of proof.
        Humankind is utterly incapable of ‘creating religions’ and an advancing society from whole cloth (out of thin air). Humans are in need of a Divine Educator. This can be demonstrated by logical proofs. However not many people are able to follow a set of logical propositions and argument to its logical conclusion. Bertrand Russel, author of a logical proof of the existence of God (a Creator) famously said, “I can prove logically that God exists, but I still don’t believe in Him.” He is of course free to make such a choice, but it does not invalidate his proof nor does it make sense to reject it.

    • I not sure that religions were founded from the study of the celestial bodies. However, there was one that was. It was based upon the sun as the creator and giver of life.
      The first specifically and definitively known example of monotheism is accredited to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th dynasty (father of Tutankhaten who subsequently changed his name to Tutankhamen), who abandoned all the old gods of Egypt, and instead worshiped the sun. The sun god was known as Aten, and the religion Atenism.
      Wikipedia notes:

      He [Akhenaten] is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic.

      It does not appear that Atenism has much to do with the religion set out in the bible, and Judo-Christian religion appears to have developed independently, but there is some similarity between Psalm 104 (which is addressed to the Hebrew god) and the Hymn to Aten (which as its name suggests is addressed to Aten, the Sun God).
      See further: A. Knight and Amy Jill Levine’s excellent book, The Meaning of the Bible.

      On the wall of a 14th century BCE tomb in Egypt archaeologists found a beautiful hymn to the god Aten. The Aten’s claim to fame is that he is sole God of a monotheistic belief espoused by Pharaoh Akhenaten (1352-1336) in an era when most Egyptians believed in many gods.

      What’s curious about the Great Hymn to the Aten is that it closely mirrors Psalm 104 in our Bible as a song of praise to the creator, though written hundreds of years before any of the Bible. Psalm 104, of course, is addressed not to the Aten but to YHWH, the god of the Hebrews. Here are some parallels highlighted by Knight and Levine’s book:

      O Sole God beside whom there is none! – to Aten

      O YHWH my God you are very great. – to YHWH

      How many are your deeds … You made the earth as you wished, you alone, All peoples, herds, and flocks. – to Aten

      O YHWH, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. to YHWH

      When you set in western lightland, Earth is in darkness as if in death – to Aten

      You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. – to YHWH

      Every lion comes from its den – to Aten

      The young lions roar for their prey .. when the sun rises, they withdraw, and lie down in their dens. – to YHWH

      When you have dawned they live, When you set they die; – to Aten

      When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die – to YHWH

      You set every man in his place, You supply their needs; Everyone has his food. – to Aten

      These all look to you to give them their food in due season. – to YHWH

      The entire land sets out to work – to Aten

      People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening – to YHWH

      The fish in the river dart before you, Your rays are in the midst of the sea. – to Aten

      Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there – to YHWH

      Birds fly from their nests, Their wings greeting your ka – to Aten

      By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches – to YHWH

      He makes waves on the mountain like the sea, To drench their fields and their towns. – to Aten

      You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills … The trees of YHWH are watered abundantly – to YHWH

      Obviously it is not a word for word copy, but the theme is very similar not simply as a whole, but almost on a line by line basis.

      • richard verney,
        It looks to me like classic “cherry picking”, just placing in pairs lines that have some words that are similar. There’s no context or order given, and Psalm 104 has a whole lot more verses than mentioned in what you posted . . and even then, the pairs don’t even say similar things in several instances. I suggest a bit a skepticism is in order.

    • Mark
      December 4, 2015 at 5:01 am
      Well the fact that humans created religion from the study of the sun, moon, and stars means religion was originally science.

      Under my point of view, the creation of religion has more to do with death, as an evolution of ceremonial burial.

      • IMO religion grew out of belief in a spirit world, filled with good and evil spirits whose aid could be invoked or maliciousness warded off by shamanistic rituals and offerings. Among these spirits were those of ancestors, but they also inhabited plants, animals, rocks, rivers, mountains, what have you.

    • Well if wayback, science actually was thinking rationally about what was observed, then almost surely the origin of religion was more about the exploitation of fear of the unknown, by slick snake oil salesmen. Aka Witch doctors and shamans and the like, priests too.
      So no, I do not believe religion was originally science; quite anti science in fact.
      Even today we have the slicksters (Obama for example) who refuse to accept that the only book that their religious doctrine says is even necessary, directly dictates that NO other religious belief or practice can be tolerated at all, and must be exterminated or converted.
      Funny that this study, doesn’t seem to say much about the one world ” religion ” that is completely incompatible, and anathemic to democratic ideas, or even freedom of thought.
      g

    • Mark,
      Mark,
      “Well the fact that humans created religion from the study of the sun, moon, and stars means religion was originally science.”
      How could you possibly know as a “fact” that “humans created religion from the study of the sun, moon, and stars”?

  2. Did they count climastrologists as scientists? Would be great to know how it’s distributed among sciences, because not all of them are equal.

    • Somebody – I’d find that interesting as well. Many years ago I read an article which claimed that the proportion of atheists and believers varied according to the degree to which the field dealt with man, the man-centered sciences (anthropology, sociology, etc.) having more atheists while the non-man-centered (astronomy, physics, etc.) had more believers. But I don’t recall if it had any hard numbers; the article might have reflected the author’s biases more than reality.
      I do find it interesting to contrast the significant presence of atheists and agnostics on skeptical forums like this, with the charge I’ve heard from a few AGW “true believers” that the ranks of skeptics are primarily filled with religious believers and motivated by irrational faith. Heh. Smacks of projection to me.

    • Somebody, this doesn’t answer your excellent question, but, in case you are interested, here is one example of a world famous nanotech chemist (James Tour of Rice, University) who is also a believer in Jeshua being the Messiah (i.e., he is Jewish and also a believer in Jesus):
      “Nanotech and Jesus Christ — James Tour at Georgia Tech”

      (Veritas Forum on youtube)
      And PBVQ4, Dr. Tour, as you will see in the above video, is quite willing to say: “I — don’t — know.”

      • Janice, Thanks for this. I had not hear of Dr. Tour, but will now seek information. A person who is Jewish and embraces Joshua as Messiah has an interestingly flexible mind.

  3. As a long term fan and reader of WUWT, I have never enjoyed the (few) religious posts and comments. This is an example that doesn’t help or add to the (predominantly) AGW discussion. And the notion that “(Religion provides) a check on those times you might be tempted to shortcut…” is trying to claim that religion helps people behave in a moral way. As if those of us with no belief are less likely to do so.
    Looking around the world at current behaviour of many of the faithful does not support that idea.

    • I think it is an important aspect of the AGW discussion as many religious leaders are now weighing in on the discussion. Could Catholic scientists be influenced by what the pope has been saying lately?

    • “is trying to claim that religion helps people behave in a moral way.”
      To seriously contend that it doesn’t, on both the personal and societal levels, in the face of reason and experience, is nothing less than an intellectual dishonesty. That is made even clearer by the inconsistency of new atheists who blame religion for moral evils: if, as they contend, religion causes people to behave in an “immoral” way, it can likewise help them to behave in a “moral” way. I place “moral” between quotation marks because, as always, it’s terribly unclear atheists even mean by the word.
      “As if those of us with no belief are less likely to do so.”
      Not only is that suggestion not logically implied by the previous proposition, but your lack of “belief” does not alter the fact that you were raised within a culture whose values have beem inspired, shaped and entrenched by the Christian religion for the better part of 2000 years. And that culture has most certainly influenced your own moral beliefs.
      “Looking around the world at current behaviour of many of the faithful does not support that idea.”
      Given that they may hold to different values to you, I don’t see your point. Or will the atheist be telling us how he accounts for a moral truth that all men ought to obey? Maybe with some tired old appeal to evolution that new atheists are too dull to realise is – far from being a basis for an absolute and objective morality that provides us with statements which can be assigned truth values – just a concession to another kind of relative, subjective and situational ethics which, as the cherry on top of its stupidity, thinks itself to have stepped around the little problem of the is-ought fallacy by presuming, as English utilitarians did with “pleasure”, survival as an “ought”. It’s nothing essentially new: just the old-as-the-hills attempt to ground morality in the supposed nature of the very agents who are supposed to obey it but most inconveniently don’t want to.

      • Many atheists divide the world into two camps. The religious and the atheists. To them all religions are the same so talking about the theological differences between say, Christianity and Islam makes no sense.

      • @Luke Peto, who writes (somewhat sarcastically): “will the atheist be telling us how he accounts for a moral truth that all men ought to obey?”
        Luke, the words amoral and atheist are different for a reason; not all morality requires belief in an old man in a sky chair. There are several examples of non-theist philosophies that engage in discussing right and wrong (the essential part of morality). It’s more than a bit arrogant to present a claim that “Christian religion” is responsible for all moral behavior, or that without it a person us unable to interpret moral questions.
        The Christian bible is the source of one moral framework, it’s not the only one. In general the Abrahamic traditions all share the same one so I’m not trying to stand up for Judaism or Islam when I say that; their really are well established atheist philosophies that present moral principals. Buddhism for example is an atheist worldview, yet one of the more common goals of its practitioners is “right action”, implying there is also “wrong action”. People have argued Buddhists are discussing aesthetics rather than morality, personally I don’t find the difference in viewpoints compelling.

      • So would the golden rule not comprise a completely non religious basis for a code of moral and ethical behavior ??
        A case can be made, that Judeo Christianity includes a code of ethical behavior, that is completely unrelated to any of the religious tenets, of either Judaism or Christianity, except that they may have originated within that community.
        I would suggest that the essential axiom of religion; any religion, is belief in an omnipotent divine supreme power or “god ” if you will.
        What is moral and ethical is not actually bound by any such belief .
        g

        • george e. smith “the essential axiom of religion; any religion, is belief in an omnipotent divine supreme power or god if you will.”
          Buddhism lacks such a being, yet is conspicuously a religion. But, your mileage can vary; you have used quite a few adjectives.
          Would it be still a religion of god was not actually omnipotent? Can he say “Let the earth do something” but not actually wish it into existence completely constructed already, every atom exactly where he wants it, but merely anticipate its development?
          Does Supreme merely mean “most” or “best”, or does it mean something more that most?
          What is divine? How many mountains must he move, how many planets create, before you acknowledge a god?
          I do not require mountains to move; what I require is to move ME, reveal to me something that no human knows or can know, and to reveal that he knows me. And so it has been, and so it is.

      • Bartleby,
        “Luke, the words amoral and atheist are different for a reason; not all morality requires belief in an old man in a sky chair.”
        I see many people speak in this flippant way, and it makes no sense to me (nor did it when I was not a believer in God, which was most of life). . What exactly is illogical or preposterous about a God creating at least some entities that resembled It in some sense? Or such a Being presenting itself in a physical form that It’s creatures could relate to?
        It’s contra-logical to think a God would avoid such things, to my mind.

      • John Knight writes: “What exactly is illogical or preposterous about a God creating at least some entities that resembled It in some sense?”
        I don’t at all suggest that’s preposterous, at least I don’t think I do? “Old man in a sky chair” is an evocative image you recognized immediately. It wasn’t meant to reflect my humility before the described entity and it was intended to be humorous. If it offended you please accept my apologies.
        For my own part I’ve always imagined an infinite universe, which of necessity implies the existence of the “Old man in the sky chair”. Positing infinity, the rest is easy … (to liberally steal from one of my favorite theoretical physicists and poets, Roger Zelazny). Being a Buddhist myself (though not a very good one), I’m prone to take theology lightly in many social circumstances. When you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

      • Bartleby,
        “The Christian bible is the source of one moral framework, it’s not the only one.”
        When you write something like that, something so utterly obvious, it appears to me you are intentionally belittling/slandering Christians (in this case, could be anyone). Coyly speaking as though you are the knowledgeable parent, lecturing ignorant little kids.
        “Old man in a sky chair” is an evocative image you recognized immediately”.
        .Agent provocateur.
        Did you recognize that immediately. slick? ; )

    • Translation: I am insecure in my beliefs so I would appreciate it if the rest of you stopped talking about this subject.

    • “is trying to claim that religion helps people behave in a moral way.”
      Yes, absolutely. Religion does two things: Defines what is moral, and then helps people (usually by peer pressure) to conform to that morality.
      AGW advocacy, by defining a new morality and peer pressure, has created a new religion. It is entirely proper to consider religion and AGW advocacy on the same page.

      • Michael 2, you are on the right track with that line of thought. It is the lost who fancy that morality is the result of arbitrary volition, that it can be edited at will and have the same force and effect. It is the great defect of materialism, of which communism and capitalism are both aspects. Both aver that creating a comprehensive set of arbitrary moral behaviours will generate happy, productive and contented people. In fact individual enlightenment precedes the transformation of the individual who then, inspired, seeks to create an economy that is universally beneficial. Vision and morality precede material development.

      • Brent Bozell, writing in http://www.Townhall.com offered this summary today – But targeted the liberal’s “national press corpse” for their anti-religious bias (hatred actually) that is typical of, and a very large of the the CAGW community activists’ supporters and propagandists against the world’s economies and its innocent victims of their CAGW policies.

        Then they named the suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. Remote controls were surely tossed across America when CNN legal analyst Casey Jordan guessed that the Muslim shooter was “going into this conference room where there was a holiday party, which may have been offensive to him.”
        Ah, religion.
        The media have harbored anti-religious bigotry for years. But now it’s turned vicious. This tragedy drew out liberal animus against those offensive “prayer people” who won’t back gun control. Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten angrily announced on Twitter: “Dear ‘thoughts and prayers’ people: Please shut up and slink away. You are the problem, and everyone knows it.”
        Agile critics on Twitter soon sent back a flock of official White House tweets from President Obama himself expressing “thoughts and prayers” after the terrorist attacks and during the Ebola epidemic. On the morning after the San Bernardino attack, he again offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, proving one can be prayerful and agitate for gun control simultaneously.
        The New York Daily News really turned the volume up, with this ranting tabloid headline: “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” The subheadline below said “As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.”
        For a major city newspaper to use their front page to mock people who are praying after what happened in San Bernardino is unconscionable and unbefitting a publication that purports to be a serious media outlet. This newspaper should have apologized for comparing prayer to “meaningless platitudes” — both to Republican leaders and to people of faith — and then fired the person responsible for approving such a vile front page and cover story.
        The Lichter-Rothman “Media Elite” surveys back in 1981 revealed that 50 percent of the news media did not believe in God and 86 percent seldom or never went to church or synagogue. You can only surmise that it’s worsened since then. If you don’t want to believe in God, it’s sad but acceptable. But what the Daily News lunged far further, ridiculing people of faith for offering simple prayers after a massacre.
        No one in the liberal media seemed to think this might offend the audience at home, who were sending their prayers for the victims. CNN, the same people who air legal analysts who wonder about murder being caused by offensive “holiday parties,” couldn’t see why that nasty front page might be revolting, and promoted it every hour on the hour. Anchorman Don Lemon read most of the front page on the air, and asked a spokesman for the liberal Brady Campaign for a response. On cue, Dan Gross said, “Religion doesn’t need to be part of this conversation.”
        NBC’s Andrea Mitchell suggested it was a natural rebuke: “All the talk of prayer prompted an angry tabloid headline in today’s New York Daily News.” On CBS, morning anchor Gayle King offered praise for this junk: “I thought that headline was very powerful.” Later, co-anchor Charlie Rose added to the offense: “As the New York Daily News said, God is not going to fix it. We have to fix it.”
        Our largely secular press forget that radical Muslims see America as the Great Satan, as godless. Their promotion of this bigoted rant against God only deepens the terrorists’ hatred for our country.
        We offer our prayers. It’s what civilized people do.

    • Dave Lowery: you can choose to not read these posts. But the God issue is very relevant. Here, discussing the nature of knowledge, the universe, social process, and so on, our various views will often back up into our World View: our concept of the nature of the universe, our place in it, and what can be known about it.
      I was not a believer or follower of any religion until my 30s. I was taught science and epistemology, and have a good grasp on these. A series of events led me to review and consider Christianity, and I became a Christian.
      Since that point, my contemplation of God, knowledge, science, evidence and truth has become much sharper and much more complex and refine.
      Regarding your cheap attack on the behavior of the faithful: Christian charity is the greatest charitable/beneficient force in the history of mankind. I admit that I am not perfect – please don’t hold me to a standard of perfection – but you would be impressed if you compared the reborn me to the pre-Christian me. You might want to consider that for any real-world Christian you meet – you might be seeing them being twice as decent as they were before adopting a Christian life.
      As for other religions, I cannot say much. It is ridiculous if you are lumping in Christians – known across the planet to venture into humanitarian efforts under the worst of conditions – with some of the other religions out there.
      Does discussion of religion “add” to the discussion of AGW? That is the wrong question for some of us – for some of us, it is essential, like having to select a language – any language – to discuss something – it cannot be done without language. Is it superfluous? This is like asking whether scientific conferences are better now that we have powerpoint, versus overheads – I would see some advantage to adding powerpoint, but we could still carry on without it.
      Despite not adhering to a religious system, you may behave morally. I believe you are benefiting from a legacy of religiously based moral inculcation. Your children will be a bit less moral, and your grandchildren will be worse off- until everyone redefines what is “moral” – in the media right now, they are trying to describe this recent jihad attack in any terms other than describing the people as immoral – it is gun control, it is bigotry, it is hate speech, it is the Christmas party – anything but immorality.
      Since I have a clear view of the universe and everything in it, I can see this. The media cannot because they have redefined morality rather than admit to becoming less moral as they become more culturally removed from the God who got us all to this point.

      • I find the most zealous religion bigots are those who have spent little time getting to know a particular religion but somehow can pronounce on (i.e. judge) it. Like you, TheLastDemocrat, I have training in science and philosophy (in particular philosophies of science and political thought). Also, I am a practicing Catholic. Not only do I experience little conflict between my religious practice and my scientific practice, the former provides moral guidance when doing the latter. There is a coherent world view available to the critical thinking Christian that includes the immensely beneficial knowledge mankind has gained through science.

      • “… your children will be a bit less moral, and your grandchildren will be worse off…” I don’t know you and you certainly don’t know me, but you are demonstrating pretty perfectly what Christopher Hitchens meant when he said (as the sub-title to his excellent book “God Is Not Great”) How religion poisons everything.

  4. It depends on what one defines as ‘religion’. If, as most religions started out,it is essentially an ethical/decency code to be followed (as preached by whoever) then it can surely coexist with science. OTOH, if it is based on some blind faith, perhaps in a superbeing or some other proposed ‘protector’ or worse, some alleged nirvana ‘for the righteous’ – these are things that cannot really be squared with a scientific mind. In essence the scientist cannot (should not?) accept a blind faith based concept (i.e. without hard evidence) as it nulls all their real world science principles. Just my view…but I’m an atheist all the way up to level 11!

    • Do you have any evidence that religions started out as ethical codes? Or is this just blind faith on your part?

    • Kev, I’m not sure of the current definitions, but years ago, in a comparative religion class, I was taught that the difference between the atheist and the agnostic was that the atheist ‘believes’ in the non existence of a supreme being while the agnostic says “I don’t know.” Etymologically, the word ‘atheist’ means “not, or no God” where the word ‘agnostic’ means, “not, or no knowledge.”

      • Joe Crawford said: “Etymologically, the word ‘atheist’ means “not, or no God””
        I think “a-” as a prefix means “without” as in “agnostic” means “without knowledge (of God)” and atheist means “without God”
        In my opinion atheist does not mean belief in the non-existence of God but living without ever thinking about God.
        More people are atheists than admit it because in many cultures and countries including the US, atheists face various kinds of penalties.

      • (from Google)

        Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, “having knowledge”, from γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a modern term categorizing a collection of ancient religions whose adherents shunned the material world – which they viewed as created by the demiurge – and embraced the spiritual world.

        the·ism
        ˈTHēˌizəm
        noun
        belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures.

      • Frederick Colbourne:
        You say

        In my opinion atheist does not mean belief in the non-existence of God but living without ever thinking about God.

        You are entitled to your opinion but it does not alter reality.
        As I said in this thread at here.
        “Deists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s).
        Atheists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the non-existence of God(s).
        Agnostics have no religious belief.
        If atheism is not a religion then – using the same logic – Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are not a religions.”
        I here add that atheists often pretend to be agnostics when proselytising their religion.
        Richard

      • Richard, it seem to me that antitheism would have been a better word to describe the religion of atheism.
        In the same sense that amorality is not quite immorality.

      • Frederick Colbourne
        December 4, 2015 at 8:29 am
        I think “a-” as a prefix means “without” as in “agnostic” means “without knowledge (of God)” and atheist means “without God”
        ——————-
        And in case it helps what follows the prefix, the “a”, is the main part of the word, the base “-thei” which from Greek means god in plural, or gods.
        So from this prospect the word “atheist” should be ” one without gods” (many gods).
        Funny enough, one of the most related synonyms linguistically for the word “polytheism” is “theism”
        In Greek, God is Theo not “thei”.
        I don’t know, but if considering the Ten Commandments wouldn’t be possible that any one believing in God will be considered an atheist by default !
        Wondering who were the first ever atheists considered for the word to be borne!
        Even my spell-checker has no problem with “Theo”, but “seems a bit upset” as I keep ignoring the warning that the word “thei” is not proper…..:a bit of an atheist spell-checker I have. )
        Also atheism by default means a religion orientated around the concept of divinity, even when in mainstream it may be claimed as considering the rejection, the non acceptance or the contempt about divinity or worshipers of other religions.
        cheers

      • So Richard, in your view would the evidence free belief in the existence of strings and multiverses, constitute a religion, and also a religion in which the existence; or non existence of (a) ‘god’ is quite irrelevant ??
        I personally see NO intimate belief in some deity as having anything to do with ethics or morality, other than the fact that many persons do get their code of ethics and morality from such a source.
        And the often described or asserted Judeo-Christian origins of America (USA) don’t necessarily mean the religious aspects of that Judeo-Christian culture.
        I know not a jot about Hinduism, but I doubt that the code of ethics and morality of the millions of Hindus is identical to Judeo-Christian code, or for that matter is any less or any more “righteous” as a way to behave toward others.
        g

      • George,
        Hinduism has a caste system which Christianity lacks. But I grant that ethical behavior within one’s class probably isn’t too different between polytheistic Hinduism and at least some monotheistic belief systems.
        Some scholars think that Yeshua, the itinerant, 1st Century, rural Aramaic preacher of Essene bent, might have gotten the Golden Rule from Buddhists.

    • Kev-in-UK writes “if it is based on some blind faith … these are things that cannot really be squared with a scientific mind.”
      That is correct. You put your scientific mind on a shelf and you bring out your happy joyful mind and contemplate happiness now and forever.
      There’s no room in science for happiness, joy, faith, hope or charity.
      Then tomorrow you bring out your scientific mind and do whatever you do with it.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “I practice science with a happy, joyful, hopeful and charitable mind.”
          Then that is your religion, and I am glad you have found happiness.

      • Michael 2,
        No, it’s not my religion. I also play ball, hunt, fish, cook, swim, sail and fly the same way. I play with my kids, enjoy my wife’s company and friends in the same spirit. Co-workers, not always so much.
        I just mentioned science because you seemed to think it isn’t a source of joy and fulfillment.
        BTW, some theologians don’t consider Buddhism a religion. The mystic monk Thomas Merton thought that Christians could practice Buddhism.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “I just mentioned science because you seemed to think it isn’t a source of joy and fulfillment.”
          That is correct. Science is just a word representing an aggregation of knowledge. It is static. I suspect your enjoyment stems from “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” (Richard P. Feynman) as it is certainly so for me. I suspect humans, in particular those whose heritage includes the renaissance and industrial revolution, have a wired desire to “find things out”. Science is not joy; doing science can be joyful particularly if that science involves experiments, travel, adventure and OPM.
          “some theologians don’t consider Buddhism a religion. The mystic monk Thomas Merton thought that Christians could practice Buddhism.”
          Religion is one of those things easy to see but impossible to define. Christianity is somewhat poorly defined but I agree that most Christians could also be Buddhists and better for it, too.

      • Michael,
        Science is hardly static, despite the false assertion that “climate science” is settled.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “Science is hardly static, despite the false assertion that “climate science” is settled.”
          Indeed. I very much enjoy reading about new science. The venues for reading are shrinking as one by one the popular journals swing left.
          You’ll love this one:
          “Ogunseitan adds that while breaking open a single LED and breathing in its fumes wouldn’t likely cause cancer, our bodies hardly need more toxic substances floating around, as the combined effects could be a disease trigger. If any LEDs break at home, Ogunseitan recommends sweeping them up while wearing gloves and a mask, and disposing of the debris and even the broom as hazardous waste.”
          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/led-lightbulb-concerns/
          It isn’t revealed what it would take to “break” an LED or what kind of fumes emanate from a tiny chip of gallium nitride. Obviously they are discussing CFL’s. What kind of science magazine doesn’t know the difference between light emitting diode and compact flourescent lamp?

    • If you look at the earliest religions, you will find that they existed before civil law and were the guidance used to keep the social order. The Jewish religion did not mention in it’s writings a hereafter until the writings of Daniel which was several hundred years after the religion was formed. The promise was for good crops and victory in battle.

      • Retired Engineer John
        December 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm
        I may be wrong but, when it comes to the promise you are considering, the scriptures are clear, was a promise to a people, a promise to take the Izraelite people out of slavery and in to freedom, a promise to make these people become a nation and a nation fully consolidated in the promised land.
        cheers

    • Kev,
      “In essence the scientist cannot (should not?) accept a blind faith based concept (i.e. without hard evidence) as it nulls all their real world science principles.”
      Please consider this hypothetical situation;
      A man wonders about the existence of God, gods, etc . . He asks any such Entity that might exist to demonstrate that It does. A large rock suddenly appears in the middle of floor.
      That would be hard evidence, right? Not to some scientists who were not there, of course, but to the man, it would be nothing like having “blind faith” to believe what he observed with his own eyes, right?

      • It could also mean a random earthquake struck at that moment. Strange proof of existence. I could think of better ways. What you’re describing is confirmation bias.

      • Jeff,
        “It could also mean a random earthquake struck at that moment.”
        Sir, it’s a hypothetical . . not a creative writing exercise.
        Any relation to Jack Handdy, per chance ; )

  5. they should consider climastrologists as part of a subset of religion that we typically call “cults.”

    • True, but the original set is being assimilated by the papal endorsed subset, which has already done damage to the faith of people like myself, who have wrestled with the discrepancies of science christianity, but taken comfort and personal guidance in St. Paul’s letters and Christ’s words of forgiveness and promises of God’s presence to support his children until he decides it is time to end this world.

  6. Religion is based on a different suite of metaphysical assumptions than science. We have no way of determining which set of assumptions are ‘true’.
    Ergo people who are able to live with uncertainty can accommodate both points of view as simply limited views on a larger reality.
    Those who cannot accommodate different assumption sets but have a pathological need for certainty will become either passionate defenders of religion, or atheism (or climate science).
    All world-views that are extant today, project a suite of noumenous ’causes’ in some abstract realm to explain the phenomena of experience. Science has ‘natural laws’, Religion has personalities (at least the Semitic religions, and pagan European religions do).
    *shrug* take your pick. Science considers the world an impersonal mechanism, and gets some good predictive answers , but gives no (spiritual) comfort. Religion consoles and flatters us with self importance, and considers us individually important, but gives no real answers at all.

  7. Surveys which rate scientists by their achievements generally find the highest performing scientists today to be the least religious. There are of course exceptions, and before the mid-20th century faith was more common among even leading scientists, if often heretical.

    • Marcus : Sure, as a scientist, and acting scientifically, you would be agnostic. But as a human (I presume all scientists are human) you may choose to employ a religious framework as a means to rule your mind and thoughts – you choose your ethics, so to speak. That is an intellectual, an existential, choice. We humans are wonderfully equipped with the ability to imagine. That sets us apart from all other creation. We can run sort of “parallel universes” in our minds – and we don’t ever confuse those “universes” with the real universe, the one with all the real elements in it. (Some folks do confuse the two, though – they are considered ill with schizophrenia).

      • I think he really means that most scientists are agnostic. I would add that most people are also.
        The universe did not just pop into existence via some “random chance”. How it got here, and then life appeared, is an open question that we may never be able to answer. Agnostic means, “beats hell outta me”. And that my friend may be the best answer we have. (unless Mother Mary appeared to you personally and explained it all —> she has not done that in my case)
        To be atheist means you think you know that the universe just appeared from no cause and that that there is nothing beyond what we can see and measure. That is truly a ridiculous position.
        ~ Mark the agnostic 🙂

      • AndyE, you are very generous. I often read a news item and think that the characters have acted in a way that illustrates quite convincingly that they might confuse those “universes” with the real universe. When one of those universes includes immortal beings that reign over creation, I’d say there might be some potential for confusion between universes; it is not politically correct, and likely not correct at all, to say that such confusion, even when not the result of misguided teaching, or of personal misinterpretation, could actually be the result of a mental disorder.
        On the other hand, I haven’t met any believers who appear to believe, in any practical sense, that the physical and spiritual worlds are actually two parallel, non-interacting universes. For most, these worlds are aspects of a single reality, with characteristics that can be more active in one world than the other. Cognitive dissonance does not arise because conflicts are all resolved by definition.

      • So Mark, does a failure to devise a credible and rational explanation for some phenomenon justify the blind acceptance of some completely irrational, or in your view ridiculous explanation ??
        g

      • So Mark, does a failure to devise a credible and rational explanation for some phenomenon justify the blind acceptance of some completely irrational, or in your view ridiculous explanation ??
        g

        The failure to come up with a credible explanation for some phenomenon often means we should say, “beats hell out of me right now”. No need to go all irrational like those who claim some magical “singularity” (whatever that is) brought forth all that exists. That explanation is as stupid as “a white haired santa big daddy in the sky” did it all. Sometimes we just don’t know.
        Science does itself a large injury when it says that there is nothing outside of methodological materialism. Science can only deal with this universe and with what can be measured and observed. If there is more then it is outside science — but that does not mean it does not exist.

        The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
        The name that can be named is not the eternal name
        The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
        The named is the mother of myriad things

        The Tao (Dao) exists but we can not even name it. The the ordering principle that makes cosmic harmony possible exists (or I think it does), but that does not mean I know exactly what it is. I don’t think it is some “god” as western thought would have it. No “big daddy”. (but I could be wrong — I am agnostic after all)
        I hope that answered your question.

      • To be atheist means you think you know that the universe just appeared from no cause and that that there is nothing beyond what we can see and measure. That is truly a ridiculous position.

        No, it means there’s no evidence of anything beyond what we can see, measure, or infer. I can safely assume there are no gods, since no evidence exists, observationally or inferentially.

      • Jeff Alberts,
        This is a rational statement to my mind;
        *There’s no evidence I am aware of, of anything beyond what I can see, measure, or infer.*
        This is not;
        “… there’s no evidence of anything beyond what we can see, measure, or infer.”
        You are not a God yourself, sir. It is utterly unscientific to state as a matter of fact that no evidence exists. And it also is clearing ignoring the existence of many evidences, like the Book, a great many testimonies, etc. . That’s evidence, beyond any rational doubt, whether you consider it significant/persuasive or not, for you are not any sort of God, sir. (right?)

  8. ““And as long as science is global, then we need to recognize that the borders between science and religion are more permeable than most people think.””
    This is can of worms. Firstly, a survey cannot tell us what is and what is not. Surveys of climate scientists cannot tell us what science is right, only what most scientists think is right. Surveys of religious scientists cannot tell us where the borders are, only where these scientists think it is.
    The survey might tell us that many people think the border is pretty permeable, but that does not tell us if the border actually is permeable.
    Only if we define the permeability of the border as what people think it is does the conclusion follow from the survey.
    I say that the border between religion and science is not a matter to be decided by polls, but by philosophical enquiry for the truth.
    Also, “While it is commonly assumed that most scientists are atheists” I am not sure this is correct. We need a survey to find out.

    • I don’t think the authors of this study meant it to be a substitute for philosophical thought or a quest for the ultimate truth. As it says in the third paragraph from the bottom:

      …the researchers hoped to gain a representative look at scientists’ views on religion, ethics and how both intersect with their scientific work.

      • Yes, I think the authors recognise that, but in the statement I quoted I think Ecklund has gone too far.
        It was interesting to me given the discussion about what surveys can tell us in the context of climate change. It would be similar to saying that because the majority of scientists think AGW is real, that AGW is real.

      • Well in the realm of Philosophy, you have deviated from the realm of Science. Science doesn’t care how you think and feel; which is why science also excludes religion.
        g
        No I didn’t say science and religion are incompatible. It’s just that neither includes the tools for the other.

  9. Is it not true that science and religion concern themselves with totally different questions?
    They are not really different ways of looking at reality so much as they are looking at different parts of our reality, both seen and unseen.
    Science and religion only overlap when both are stretched right to their limits, and maybe a bit beyond.
    To me they do not seem to be in conflict, nor should they be.

    • From modern interpretations of Christianity, you might get this impression. However, the bible is quite specific about how the world and man were created etc. — it is just “convenient” for “modern” followers of religion to not harp on it, since it is so obviously out of touch with the scientific interpretation of the geological record. Those people who still take the bible literally are indeed at odds with modern science.

      • Michael Palmer:
        You mistakenly assert

        From modern interpretations of Christianity, you might get this impression. However, the bible is quite specific about how the world and man were created etc. — it is just “convenient” for “modern” followers of religion to not harp on it, since it is so obviously out of touch with the scientific interpretation of the geological record. Those people who still take the bible literally are indeed at odds with modern science.

        Yes, people who take the Bible literally are at odds with science. They are also at odds with the Bible.
        Similarly, people who assert “the bible is quite specific about how the world and man were created etc. — it is just “convenient” for “modern” followers of religion to not harp on it” are also at odds with the Bible.
        Both groups make their untrue assertions in support of their cults.
        In reality, the first two chapters of the Book titled Genesis in the Bible provide two creation stories which disagree with each other.
        Genesis 1 is most of the Creation Myth of the nomadic tribes: its NIV translation can be read here.
        Genesis 2 is the completion of the Creation Myth of the nomadic tribes and then the Creation Myth of the agrarian tribes: its NIV translation can be read here.
        Genesis 2 verses 5 and 6 say (NIV)

        Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
        Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

        So which is it?
        “no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up”
        or
        “the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden”?
        Actually, neither. One suggestion is from the nomadic myth and the other is from the agrarian myth.
        Both myths were collected and selected for recording as written text in what we call the Old Testament (OT). The collection, selection and writing of material included in the OT was conducted by a sect known as the Scribes who feared that the culture of the Israelites was being lost during their second exile in Babylon.
        Clearly, the Scribes did not intend their writings to be a physics text book: if they had intended that then they would have recorded one Creation Myth and not two.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        so, everything in the bible that is contradicted by something else in the bible is ruled invalid? Interesting concept. If we look for contradictions hard enough, there might no be much left in the end. For example:
        Is God vengeful, or is he clement? Apparently both, that is, neither, so He probably just doesn’t care about us. Considering the course of human history so far, that sounds about right to me.
        But if He doesn’t care about us, would He have bothered with us as the crowning achievement of His creation? Not likely (although the botched job that is us might suggest the existence of a Creator who did not care – so there is that argument in support of our creation by Him).
        If you do not agree with the conclusion of my 5 minute self-help bible study, I say unto you: Blessed are the cheesemakers.
        Regards, Michael

        • Michael Palmer writes “so, everything in the bible that is contradicted by something else in the bible is ruled invalid?”
          More properly ruled *uncertain*.
          “If we look for contradictions hard enough, there might no be much left in the end.”
          That is correct. It is a type of redundancy check code. Whatever is left either wasn’t important enough to create a contrary item, or is so agreed-upon that no one dares suggest otherwise. One can find instances of violating 9 or so of the 10 commandments in ways that seem approved or commanded, the exception appears to be (in the OT anway) no one was ever commanded to worship another god.
          That suggests when the non-religious history and politics is removed, and the conflicted parts removed, it boils down to:
          God exists.
          Fair enough!
          “Is God vengeful, or is he clement? Apparently both, that is, neither, so He probably just doesn’t care about us. Considering the course of human history so far, that sounds about right to me.”
          Precisely. You are flipping from the one to the many back to the one, confusing yourself mostly. It is clear he cares about “us” but whether he cares about “you” is less certain. With some people he has been clement, with others, vengeful — but how can that be? A clue emanates from Genesis — there’s more than one! One cares (Jehovah), one is vengeful (Elohim, itself a plural word). Mercy cannot rob Justice; but Mercy can *pay* Justice and extend clemency to you. There’s god (justice) and the son of god (mercy). Two principles cannot co-exist at the same time and same place. There’s a third principle, knowledge.

      • Dear Michael Palmer,
        I hope you will take the time to consider this thought:
        Would someone who did not care for you sacrifice their child to save your life?
        “For God so loved the world
        that He gave His only Son,
        that whoever believes in Him
        should not perish
        but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
        (and no serious scholar rejects the historicity of Jesus — that is just a fly-in-the-face-of-the-evidence way to avoid dealing with what He said and did)
        As to apparent contradictions in the character of God — do you think it might be possible that God is too deep for our minds to fully grasp? To create a being as WONDERFULLY MADE as you (have you studied DNA protein synthesis at all?) would take a great Mind. Perhaps, that Mind is too deep to explain itself to you, even to someone with your fine intellectual abilities.
        Sincerely,
        Janice

      • Hello Janice,
        thanks for your reply.
        Yes, I have studied some molecular biology (in fact, it so happens that my trade is biochemistry), and I wholeheartedly agree with your admiration for Nature’s wonders. I also admire the genuine charity and compassion displayed by many devout Christians like (I take it) yourself, as well as my parents and grandparents.
        I also fully admit that no near-complete explanation exists for how the world, or life on earth, came to be. That said, however, I can’t find it in me to be persuaded by the metaphysical or physical tenets of the bible or any other holy books, as far as they run counter to common sense and experience. While I guess that makes me an agnostic, I have no issue with other people coming to different conclusions.
        Best wishes, Michael

        • Michael Palmer wrote “I can’t find it in me to be persuaded by the metaphysical or physical tenets of the bible or any other holy books, as far as they run counter to common sense and experience.”
          How hard have you tried?
          “Let there be light” — yes, that does seem to be how it started (big bang).
          “Let the earth bring forth life” Genesis 1:11 “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”
          The magical, ex-nihilo creation frequently preached from Christian pulpits does not seem to originate in the bible.
          I can as easily say, “Let Michael Palmer do something” and maybe you’ll do it and maybe not, but if you do it won’t be because I said “let you do it”, but then again, maybe it is so.

      • Janice,
        Have you studied protein synthesis at all? If so, you must know that there is nothing magical or supernatural about it, so that it hardly constitutes a proof of God. Protein synthesis in humans is no more wonderfully made than in other living things.
        RNA self-assembles and also serves as both information storage and catalyst.
        The evolution of the DNA to RNA to polypeptide process is well understood in general. Some steps might have occurred in more than one way, so are the subject of continuing research, but the process is just biochemistry and microbiology. No creator need apply.

      • Michael 2 — I have nothing against those who will equate “light” with a “big bang” in order to reconcile ancient and modern beliefs, but that is simply not how my mind works. On my very first school report card, my teacher noted: “Michael is very critical.” That trait seems to have stuck with me 😉
        But thanks for your thoughtful replies, I enjoyed them.

        • Michael Palmer writes “in order to reconcile ancient and modern beliefs, but that is simply not how my mind works.”
          Well, it is hardly a reconciliation, more of an accident I suspect. My point in bringing it up is that a great many Christian religions are not even in conformity to the written word, quite apart from deciding how strictly one ought to apply that written word to physics and astronomy and so on.
          So in this battle I sometimes wade in on either side of the debate with a gentle suggestion to at least argue what the good book actually says. There’s plenty to debate right there without also going into the esoteric beliefs of this sect or that sect.

      • MP & M2,
        Light doesn’t appear until pretty late in the Big Bang, then disappears again for a while.
        The two creation myths in Genesis comport badly with both the Big Bang and earth history, although it is easier to ferret evolution out of them than it is astronomy, physics, chemistry, meteorology, geology or the rest of biology, although they get evolution wrong, too.

      • Richard,
        The Scribes, or whoever compiled the writings to include in Hebrew scripture, repeatedly did what they did in Genesis. Wherever there were two or more texts covering the same or similar material, they included both or all. Sometimes they simply slapped them together, as with the two creation myths, but other times they tried to interweave them, as in the Flood myth. This applies to whole books. Chronicles and Kings are in many places practically identical, but the editors included both.

      • Would someone who did not care for you sacrifice their child to save your life?
        “For God so loved the world
        that He gave His only Son,
        that whoever believes in Him
        should not perish
        but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

        Gratuitous assertion without proof.

      • Richardscourtney,
        “So which is it?
        “no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up”
        or
        “the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden”?”
        To me, the “problem” is partly the translation you’re using there. The KJV renders Genesis 5;
        ~And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.~
        To me, plants “of the field” implies the stuff Adam and his descendants would soon be cultivating. To me, He’s saying He had designed them, written the code so to speak, but had not initiated the actual organisms on the earth up to that point.
        To me it is a reassurance that the Book is Genuine, BECAUSE I know the scientific considerations (to some humble extent), not in spite of those insights into what life is, and what miraculous stuff would actually be needed to initiate living creatures. It’s the code, as we now know.

      • Michael 2
        December 4, 2015 at 1:22 pm
        Michael Palmer wrote “I can’t find it in me to be persuaded by the metaphysical or physical tenets of the bible or any other holy books, as far as they run counter to common sense and experience.”
        How hard have you tried?
        “Let there be light” — yes, that does seem to be how it started (big bang).
        ———————
        Just for the sake of accuracy.
        The very first paragraph in the Bible:
        (1) In the beginning God created the
        heavens and the earth. 2)Now the
        earth was formless and empty, dark-
        ness was over the surface of the
        deep, and the Spirit of God was
        hovering over the waters.
        And then it continues:
        3)And God said, “Let there be light,”………………….
        According to this the Bible and Big Bang do not seem to have anything in common when referring to the creation. Actually it seems like a contradiction…….
        According to this biblical account of the creation, Genesis, our own creation starts and can be referred only with the moment of the earth’s creation, the beginning, that is where our time starts to exist……
        And the Big Bang theory completely in contradiction with this, as it is also in contradiction with the concept of the time being relative, as put forward by Einstein.
        As for “Let there be light,” there could be another interpretation more in accordance with the biblical account of creation.
        The sun to be lights up and becomes a proper Sun as we know it today, after what we call “The Solar system”(the heavens) and the earth was created.
        I am not trying to claim that the biblical account of creation is the truth or not, I am simply trying to point out what is that it states……..
        cheers

        • whiten writes “The sun to be lights up and becomes a proper Sun as we know it today, after what we call “The Solar system”(the heavens) and the earth was created.”
          I have at times considered this possibility; ignition of the sun. Guessing at science in Genesis is a wresting match; interesting but uncertain. There’s more science, astronomy anyway, in ancient Sumeria from which some of this is probably derived.

      • John,
        Richard is right. The two creation myths in Genesis are irreconcilably incompatible.
        Here is the order of creation in the first story (Genesis 1 and first verses of 2), which dates back to Sumeria, via Babylon: 1) plants, 2) swimming and flying animals, 3) land animals and 4) humans of both sexes.
        Day Three: grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself;
        Day Five: great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind;
        Day Six: the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, (and)…man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
        Here is the order of creation in the second, Adam and Eve, myth (rest of Genesis 2), also ultimately of Sumerian origin: 1) a man, 2) plants, 3) animals and 4) a woman.
        7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
        8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
        9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil…
        18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
        19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
        20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
        21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
        22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
        23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
        These divergent orders also differ from the actual sequence of appearance of other animals, plants and people in observed earth history.

      • whiten
        December 5, 2015 at 6:55 am
        Genesis 1 is as far removed from real astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology as is possible.
        It starts with earth covered by waters in darkness, instead of a hot, dense singularity. Then there is light. Then there are day and night (Day One). Then, after more creation, to include the firmament, ie the solid vault of heaven, like a stadium dome, finally there are the sun, moon and stars (Day Four).
        Good luck finding science in this myth.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes: “Good luck finding science in this myth.”
          Curiously I also failed to find a recipe for baking bread in Genesis. Perhaps it is not a science textbook OR a cookbook. How many of your words will be around in a few thousand years?

      • Gloateus Maximus
        December 5, 2015 at 7:09 am
        Genesis 1 is as far removed from real astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology as is possible.
        It starts with earth covered by waters in darkness, instead of a hot, dense singularity. Then there is light. Then there are day and night (Day One). Then, after more creation, to include the firmament, ie the solid vault of heaven, like a stadium dome, finally there are the sun, moon and stars (Day Four).
        Good luck finding science in this myth.
        ———————————-
        Thank you for your reply.
        First, you as any one else are entitled to your opinions or conclusions or even certainties in any given subject. Is called free will….. We all fall and rise by it.
        Second as I clearly said in the last statement of my comment that you replied to; “I am not trying to claim that the biblical account of creation is the truth or not, I am simply trying to point out what is that it states…….. ”
        So in this context of the accuracy of what is stated in what you call the Genesis 1, I don’t see where you get the idea or the conclusion or the “information, evidence” to interpret that Genesis 1 takes account of the Moon, ESPECIALLY AT THE PARAGRAPH DESCRIBING THE 4th DAY!
        There is no information or any thing there that will imply or concern the Moon in any way…….but then you are free to consider it any way you like.
        If you read carefully, it does not start as you claim the creation starts;
        “It starts with earth covered by waters in darkness, instead of a hot, dense singularity.”
        It starts with the creation of heavens and earth……. it does not take in account the “time” prior to it or during that “moment”.
        The darkness you refer to is the darkness over the surface of the deep (AFTER THE CREATION OF HEAVENS AND EARTH), the surface between the heavens (the solar system) and the rest of the milky way the stars the other galaxies and the rest of the universe, no lights from there coming through to the heavens and the earth……..until the 4th day that is……… That is what it seems to be claimed there…..and I am not trying to convince you or any one else that this must be or is the truth about the creation of the earth and the solar system……..only trying to point out what is that it states…… and am arguing only where you or someone else may be misinterpreting or misquoting it……….
        But any way the main point in my comment you replied to was that it is clear that the Genesis,the creation, according to the Bible does not start as or with Big Bang. does not even consider something like B.B.
        And in relation to your reply…..for the best of me I can’t see where the Moon is some how referred or mentioned there, even indirectly…….
        It may be strange to you coming from me, that as a skeptic (or agnostic) in this subject, I keep looking and searching for the Moon there, but have not found it yet…:)
        cheers

        • whiten writes “Genesis 1 is as far removed from real astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology as is possible.”
          Your imagination is somewhat limited. Genesis mentions such things; a PADI dive instructor manual is much farther removed.

      • Gloateus Maximus
        “Richard is right.”
        I’m sure he’s been right about many things, but I don’t think he’s been right about the matter I commented on above.
        “The two creation myths in Genesis are irreconcilably incompatible.”
        (So declares a man, as though he were God . . What am I to do? Respond as though that flat statement of fact is rational? As though his really is the last word on such a complex matter? . . Or do I tell him how silly and arrogant he appears to me for speaking like that ; )
        “Here is the order of creation in the first story (Genesis 1 and first verses of 2), which dates back to Sumeria, via Babylon:”
        According to? Your imagination? Rumors? New Age “channelers”? What? Where are the quotes of Sumerian texts that would substantiate such a claim? I was a philosophy major, I had to study this stuff in school and I have no recollection of anything like what you’re claiming, nor do I see it in the Wiki . .
        “The earliest record of the Sumerian creation myth, called The Eridu Genesis by historian Thorkild Jacobsen,[1] is found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in Nippur. It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC. Other Sumerian creation myths from around this date are called the Barton Cylinder, the Debate between sheep and grain and the Debate between Winter and Summer, also found at Nippur.[2]…”.
        “Where the tablet picks up, the gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the black-headed people and create comfortable conditions for the animals to live and procreate. Then kingship descends from heaven and the first cities are founded: Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larak, Sippar, and Shuruppak.
        After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided not to save mankind from an impending flood….”
        It seems to me you have been duped, sir.

      • Gloateus Maximus on December 5, 2015 at 7:09 am

        whiten
        December 5, 2015 at 6:55 am
        Genesis 1 is as far removed from real astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology as is possible.
        It starts with earth covered by waters in darkness, instead of a hot, dense singularity. Then there is light. Then there are day and night (Day One). Then, after more creation, to include the firmament, ie the solid vault of heaven, like a stadium dome, finally there are the sun, moon and stars (Day Four).

        Good luck finding science in this myth.

        Gloateus Maximus,
        I concur.
        Myth, aka fictional stories, can serve some sometimes useful non-scientific purpose. But the Judeo-Christian Genesis myth (fictional story) has lived past it’s sell by date by greater than 500 years.
        John

        • John Whitman writes “has lived past it’s sell by date by greater than 500 years.”
          So ignore it already, duh.

      • Michael 2 on December 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm
        – – – – – – –
        The attempts to sell it will get critical responses. I will persist in that context.
        John

        • John Whitman “The attempts to sell it will get critical responses. I will persist in that context.”
          That’s what makes this so much fun!
          I don’t even know what you are selling; or what you think I am selling. I had to scroll back to see.
          What is interesting to me is WHY you are reactive instead of pro-active. It is not clear that anyone here has tried to “sell” anything, and yet here you are issuing critical responses. Interesting! Has anyone here, just one responder, insisted that the Earth was created in 144 hours?
          How many people do you suppose are going to be moved by your opinion that whatever is being sold is 500 years past its “sell date”? None?

      • It is somewhat amazing to me that people who claim to be scientific in their reasoning speak of something like the “Big Bang” as a fact, when of course it is just a guess. Nobody saw it, they just worked backward from the apparent spreading out of the cosmos they thought they could detect, and assumed everything must have once been closer together . . eventually deciding very close, and the rest is more guesswork, including fixes like increased or decreased rate of expansion (for no particular reason), dark matter that no one has ever observed, but is needed to make the math work something like what we can actually see of galaxies and such, and dark energy, likewise just needed to keep the math in the ballpark, etc, etc.
        People seem to think that because they have “seen” such a thing in their imaginations, it must have really happened . . but I cation against such use of the imagination, ’cause it’s not really a magic crystal ball that only shows us truth.
        I watched an interesting video the other day, wherein a scientist explains 2why he is convinced that the Sun is not a giant gaseous ball, but a form of liquid (metallic hydrogen, which has only recently been discovered). If he is right, the entire guesswork we now often speak of as fact, is revealed as fiction, according to what he described.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lg5eR7T61A&index=3&list=PLHSoxioQtwZeQaRnO5_9AJB2RmevUpuPT
        My point is not that he is right about the nature of the sun, but that a single new scientific revelation can shatter the entire intellectual cosmological construct many seem to believe is rock solid reality. No different to my mind than those who see impending catastrophic global warming as a rock solid fact . .

      • whiten
        December 5, 2015 at 11:10 am
        16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
        What do you suppose is “the lesser light to rule the night” if not the moon?

      • John,
        The literature on the Sumerian and Babylonian origin of the biblical creation and flood myths is gigantic. It got a big boost in the last century with the discovery of the Ugaritic texts. I didn’t post a link since I apparently wrongly assumed that most people with college degrees would have studied Mesopotamian mythology at some point.
        The creation myth in Genesis 1 is most obviously and directly derived from the Babylonian version of the originally Sumerian story. That the Eridu story is from a single fragment doesn’t matter, since its later Babylonian version is copiously documented, as is the Ugaritic derivation, closest to the biblical variant, with the chief Hebrew tribal god substituted for Marduk and Baal.
        Some scholars have suggested an Egyptian rather than Mesopotamian source the Adam and Eve story, but its Sumerian original remains persuasive:
        http://www.auss.info/auss_publication_file.php?pub_id=556&journal=1&type=pdf

      • Michael 2
        December 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm
        I’m not the one trying to pass ancient Near East creation myths as scientifically valid. I agree that there is no science in either the Old or New Testaments. In the Bible, animals talk, rabbits chew their cud, the earth doesn’t move and stars fall to earth.
        And, actually, the Bible does include at least one recipe for making bread, under siege conditions:
        http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/4-9.htm

      • Michael Palmer:
        I concluded my explanation by saying

        Clearly, the Scribes did not intend their writings to be a physics text book: if they had intended that then they would have recorded one Creation Myth and not two.

        You have responded to that with

        so, everything in the bible that is contradicted by something else in the bible is ruled invalid? Interesting concept.

        I fail to understand how anybody can interpret what I wrote as being remotely like my having said that anything in the bible “is ruled invalid”.
        Then you follow that non sequitur with this load of baloney

        If we look for contradictions hard enough, there might no be much left in the end. For example:
        Is God vengeful, or is he clement? Apparently both, that is, neither, so He probably just doesn’t care about us. Considering the course of human history so far, that sounds about right to me.
        But if He doesn’t care about us, would He have bothered with us as the crowning achievement of His creation? Not likely (although the botched job that is us might suggest the existence of a Creator who did not care – so there is that argument in support of our creation by Him).
        If you do not agree with the conclusion of my 5 minute self-help bible study, I say unto you: Blessed are the cheesemakers.

        Clearly, your comments demonstrate that you know – or are pretending to know – nothing of the Bible and understand less than nothing of its contents.
        It seems to me that you have no interest in rational statement, argument or debate: your posts are intended to be nonsense and are provided with deliberate intent to be offensive. Such behaviour is known as trolling.
        In hope that I am wrong about your intentions, I will provide you with 30 seconds of Bible study.
        The Scribes selected what to include in their collation which we call the Old Testament (OT) because they considered it to say something important about relationships between people, God and the natural world. They prayed and deliberated about what to record on the basis of those truths: factual reality was not important and, therefore, they often included “contradictions”. For example, they recorded the story of ‘David and Goliath’ knowing it was fabricated political spin because it says something important about how individuals need to maintain hope, self-belief and trust in God when facing seemingly impossible odds. But they demonstrated that they knew Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem really killed Goliath because they recorded that “contradiction” in 2 Samuel 21: 19. Similarly, Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ speaks of the human condition and people attend it because they want to hear those truths but everybody knows the play is historically untrue. The Old Testament is a very, very important part of the Bible which proclaims useful, helpful and important truths that make the OT much, much more important than any text book on cosmology.
        Richard

        • The clearest example of storytelling in the Old Testament, a thing seemingly impossible on the face of it, comes from the book of Job. Can you imagine this conversation actually taking place? Job 1:6 (KJV) “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.”
          Despite the impossibility of it, this story remains one of my favorites, a reminder that no matter how great I think I am, someone is considerably greater, and there is of necessity someone greatest of all.
          It also stood as a rebuke against people that believed illness or misfortune was proof of disfavor with God, a rebuke that is still sometimes needed.

      • Michael 2
        December 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm
        Unless libraries still preserve paper or e-books 1000 years from now, it’s unlikely that my words will survive. But duration doesn’t make the Bible special. Many much older texts have survived.
        I like Bible stories and some of the thought behind them as much as the next guy, and it beast hell out of the Koran, with its Cliff Notes-like summary and misrepresentation of the Bible, but IMO the pagan Greeks and Romans were more profound than the ancient Near Easterners.
        Not that I embrace pagan morality. Christian morality IMO is superior and not just because I was raised in Christendom, at the end of Western Civilization.

      • Richard,
        The discovery that RIII did in fact have a curved spine has shown WS’ play less untrue than discomfited Ricardians had long argued.
        It’s not just Tudor propaganda that RIII killed one brother (and might have poisoned his other brother the king), murdered his nephews (one the rightful king, making him at least once a regicide) and accused his mom of being an adulterous slut, among other crimes.

      • Gloateus Maximus
        December 6, 2015 at 7:11 am
        What do you suppose is “the lesser light to rule the night” if not the moon?
        ———————————————–
        I think I clearly explained to you in my previous reply to you what seems to be “the lesser light to rule the night”.
        Let me repeated again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,is the light from the deep (what today may be called the “deep space”, not quite correctly though), the light of many sources like the milky way, the nebulae and other galaxies, coming through when the darkness from the surface of the deep lifted or cleared out , and also the light from the stars too.
        And these lights cover the expanse of the sky and rule it at night.
        The way is described in that paragraph it also tells clearly that not all this lights covering the expanse of the Sky that are the source of the “lesser light” are stars (suns)…..and the light from the stars (suns) is secondary .in impact or affect for the “lesser light”,
        First the “lesser light” shows up from the more potent sources, and then later from the stars, when the darkness lifted from the surface of the deep.
        The “lesser light” appears first it appears before that of stars. (that what it seems Genesis 1(16) states)
        The first great light, the sun;
        Genesis 1.
        3) And God said, “Let there be light,” (“light”, source of the first great light singular)
        The second great light, the multitude sources from the deep;
        Genesis 1
        16) And God said, “Let there be lights in
        the expanse of the sky to separate
        the day from the night,………………. (“lights”, source of the second great light is plural, many)
        When the “lesser light” appears in the sky or when it disappears that’s the separation of the day from the night or vice versa.
        I do not know why anyone will assume that what described as the “lesser light” in Genesis1.16 should be the Moon…….!
        Hope you understand my point….
        cheers

      • Gloateus Maximus:
        Substitute ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for ‘Richard III’ if it makes you happy. The point of my illustration is clear using either of these Shakespeare plays.
        Richard

      • whiten
        December 6, 2015 at 11:07 am
        I understand the point you are making. It is simply wrong. The verse mentions three separate supposed light sources, ie the sun by day, the moon by night and the stars, the greater, lesser and least lights. It’s as clear in the Hebrew as in English translation.
        You’re welcome to your opinion, but you will be a long time looking to find a biblical scholar who would agree with it.

      • Gloteieus Maximus,
        Ytou said;
        “Here is the order of creation in the first story (Genesis 1 and first verses of 2), which dates back to Sumeria, via Babylon:..”
        And you said;
        “Here is the order of creation in the second, Adam and Eve, myth (rest of Genesis 2), also ultimately of Sumerian origin”
        I asked for quotes to back that up, and you have none, obviously. I really don’t care whose imagination you’ve taken up blindly trusting in, it’s not rational behavior to me.

      • John Knight,
        I gave you a link to a whole paper on the origin of Adam and Eve story in Mesopotamian myth. I guess you missed it.
        But look for yourself. See if you can find any reputable scholar who fails to find the origin of the two Genesis stories and the flood myth in much older Near Eastern texts.

      • A link, to a whole paper . . Sir, I do not treat things some guy imagines was in a text, as real text. Some guy is you, essentially. Have you got any quotes of Sumerian texts which can substantiate you claims, or are you just insisting that I worship this man’s freaking mind? I’m not into the occult, I don’t accept truthishness vibes as an actual viewing technology.
        You got the wrong religion it you think I’m going to trust in your blind faith, sir.

      • Michael 2 on December 6, 2015 at 8:41 am
        John Whitman “The attempts to sell it will get critical responses. I will persist in that context.”
        That’s what makes this so much fun!
        I don’t even know what you are selling; or what you think I am selling. I had to scroll back to see.
        What is interesting to me is WHY you are reactive instead of pro-active. It is not clear that anyone here has tried to “sell” anything, and yet here you are issuing critical responses. Interesting! Has anyone here, just one responder, insisted that the Earth was created in 144 hours?
        How many people do you suppose are going to be moved by your opinion that whatever is being sold is 500 years past its “sell date”? None?

        Michael 2,
        The idea that any religion of theism isn’t mythology is often supported on the thread; Genesis is a prime example of the type of mythology which was brought up here.
        I don’t know how many people will be moved. Does it matter? Why post the topic of religious faith versus science at all in this thread. Will anyone be moved? I don’t know. But, ideas are ideas, and if one is interested in engaging then that is sufficient to me.
        John

    • GM
      I’ve been down dozens of these rabbit holes, and I knew there were no texts to back your claims as I read them. But no one is preventing you from posting anything you wish, and please don’t let my objections to your “back to Sumeria” claim, distract you from posting more stuff I can help you with ; )

  10. The only time religion is a problem is when its beliefs contradict science. Thus, creationism and evolution. There is a correlation between creationism and not understanding GW, which is interesting.

    • The correlation between creationism and climate skepticism is that creationists, in their minds, have long faced a ‘scientific’ establishment that disallows their premise and uses a zombie-like chant of ‘evolution’ as a causitive explanation 1) to be acceptable in their profession and 2) to get/keep a job. (replace ‘evolution” with AGW or human-caused climate change, and creationism with climate skepticism) Creationists always recognized natural cycles of change/evolution, they were skeptical of evolution (AGW) as a paradigm to explain everything. They recognize that the ‘evolutionary paradigm’ (AGW)began as a politically profitable/correct expedient, not as a cause-effect scientific demand. They recognize it met a need in society at the time and became very popular – and eventually discriminatory towards those that remain ‘outside the fold’. There are many different kinds of creationists (Skeptics), some are whackos, the 97% are not; but all are vilified in media with the statements of the whackos. Now that the Main Stream Media has decided what is fact, it is nigh impossible to be heard in the modern commons. So creationists/skeptics form their own blogs and talk to each other.
      Perhaps the phrase ‘once burned – twice wary’ applies

      • Les, are you agreeing that the parallel between creationists and AGW skeptics is a good one? That the creationists are just as correct in their arguments as the AGW skeptics?

      • What I am saying is that the correlation between creationists and climate skeptics comes from shared experience; that creationists having been through the wringer once are much more skeptical of scientific claims that most climate-skeptics. So they and some others started skeptical and many scientists have since joined the crowd (usually after retirement). I was not equating the validity of their relative claims. The actual validity of the position of either the creationist (of which there are many types) and the climate-skeptic (of which there are also many types) comes down to what parts of their assertions stand on real verifiable evidence (for empirical issues) or logical reasoning (for non-empirical issues).

  11. Hmmm, they include countries like India and Turkey, that are heavily religious and hardly the centers of scientific research, and survey “scientists at various career stages, in elite and nonelite institutions and in biology and physics, the researchers hoped to gain a representative look at scientists’ views on religion, ethics and how both intersect with their scientific work .”
    Also, no link to the actual study (which usually gets poo pooed around these parts).
    Seems like they were trying desperately to scrounge up believers.
    What about if you limit the survery to leading researchers in the hard sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, in the USA?
    Here are the results of a 1998 study in Nature. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v394/n6691/full/394313a0.html
    Leading Scientists Still Reject God
    A 1998 survey, replicating a survey that was done in 1913 and in 1933, of 517 members of the [U.S.] National Academy of Sciences from the biological and physical sciences (the latter including mathematicians, physicists and astronomers). The return rate was slightly over 50%.
    The results were as follows (figures in %):
    BELIEF IN PERSONAL GOD 1914 1933 1998
    Personal belief 27.7 15 7.0
    Personal disbelief 52.7 68 72.2
    Doubt or agnosticism 20.9 17 20.8
    BELIEF IN IMMORTALITY 1914 1933 1998
    Personal belief 35.2 18 7.9
    Personal disbelief 25.4 53 76.7* (misprint from original, likely lower)
    Doubt or agnosticism 43.7 29 23.3
    Sorry religionists.

    • lancifer,
      I probably have no way of locating a 50 year old reference, but some time back in the ’60s four (or was it five?) nuclear physicist from Oak Ridge quit physics and became Episcopal ministers. Sort of makes you think don’t it?

    • Interesting. A 2009 Pew Research / AAAS survey found 29% of physicists and astronomers and 32% of biologists and medical scientists believed in God, with another 14% and 19%, respectively, believing in some kind of “higher power”. Wonder what’s behind the disparity between these numbers and the Nature survey?

      • Survey of NAS members included more top notch scientists, rather than including, for instance, non-researching teachers at Bible colleges.

      • Not a real good time (or place) to be bragging on your guys running the big science show, me thinks, fellas.

  12. Before you pass bye the claims about various people being religious, a thought. What ever do they mean by that? Probably quite a few scientists, particularly in the west, think of relgion as meaning they have some kind of affiliation. Jewish atheists for example. Probably quite a few have vague and hazy deist notions. Einstein for example. Probably quite a few have vague ideas about being moral and ethical, sort of “I think murder is wrong so I’m religious.”
    Also, before you pass bye, you should go to YouTube and watch a few videos by Bart Ehrman. He is one of the leading biblical scholars. His study of the bible moved him from xtian fundamentalist to agnostic. Reallly quite instructive. What is it that an xtian believes? And where did those ideas come from? Hmm…

    • Hallelujah! I may not be a believer but I sure am vague! The pope is a warmist though, and hey!, when has the catholic church ever been wrong about science? There must be some things god isn’t telling them!

    • “people being religious…What ever do they mean by that? ”
      I thought no one was going to ask. Your post is halfway down the thread, and (as near as I can find) nobody else asked that specific, vital question, or answered it. Almost everyone here is assuming “religious” means what THEY think it means. (The article referenced also is lacking in that area!)
      Many also seem to think their personal assumptions are the only ones possible and relevant to religion/religiosity–one such assumption being that “God” would leave tracks or other clear evidence of His existence, another being that God wants us all to believe in Him whether WE want to or not.
      I’ve read Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus, . He’s definitely a Bible scholar, and I recommend his book for those who are interested in biblical accuracy (but not for anyone whose faith is dependent on it).
      Our individual and collective ability to grasp “God” will always be vague.

      • I’m afraid I’m most ‘religious’ about hygiene, animal husbandry and medication in my daily.routines.

      • “Our individual and collective ability to grasp “God” will always be vague.”
        That’s because, like “climate change”, “god” is vaguely defined.

      • “Being religious” to me would mean adhering to the religious teachings which I was taught all through the first 12 years of my education, as best I could. The teachers explain that it is hard to follow all of the precepts exactly given the diverse influences that one would encounter in their walk through life. That some of us will fall away from the faith as we got older, and that many of us would question our faith as we went through life. Thus being religious means maintaining the belief in God despite all that comes your way, especially during weak moments which will arise. We strive to gain in understanding God in our lives with no guarantees that we will ever succeed in that endeavor. Some of us find what we were looking for in different ways.

    • Wow, a leading biblical scholar . . generally considered a meaningless qualification among the anti-theists, but if they spout the right stuff . . Presto, an expert worthy of respect and honor ; )

  13. Theologian Karen Armstrong, in her excellent book “The Battle for God”, describes the difference between two modes of thought: mythos and logos. Religion is essentially in the realm of mythos and science that of logos.
    I forget the exact examples she gives, I think one is that you wouldn’t fight a battle using mythos; you need logos. Other examples might be that you wouldn’t consider why you were in love, or why you liked a particular painting, using logos; you need mythos.
    She says that problems occur when the two are misapplied and that religious fundamentalism arises when people apply logos to religion when they ought to be using mythos. By extension, we might conclude that climate-alarmist scientists seem to base their work on mythos rather than logos.

  14. IMO, not all scientists are atheist but some of the consensus science of global warming seem to be members of a cult, IMO. They want us to believe in the magical number 97%. They want us to believe that arguing any point should be chargeable with criminal offense. They want us to believe that they can change the weather. (So far, their proposals – if we did the maximum – would result in like .02 degrees celcius difference. 2/100th of a degree is smaller than the error probability ratios. All bow to Al Gore now!

  15. In Australia there is a celebrity Waleed Ali.
    He has never convincingly condemned any hideous murders by Isis.
    I don’t believe he is a member of Isis for a
    nanosecond.
    I believe he is a propagandist for and a devout believer in Islamic supremacy.

    • That depends. Would you call someone who does not believe in Zeus religious? If so then you would probably call atheism a religion.
      When you stretch definitions of words too far, they become meaningless.

      • Mike:
        Deists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s).
        Atheists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the non-existence of God(s).
        Agnostics have no religious belief.
        If atheism is not a religion then – using the same logic – Judaism,Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are not a religions.
        Richard

        • richardscourtney writes “Deists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s). Atheists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the non-existence of God(s).”
          What word do you suggest for evidence-based belief in the existence of God? You seem not to have allowed for that possibility in your logic.

      • Richard
        I have not come across evidence to convince me that god/s exist. I therefore do not believe gods exist, making me call myself an atheist. If in your eyes that makes me religious, than your meaning of religion varies from mine. (Not that I’ve been able to satisfactorily define religion). If you just define atheists as having religious beliefs, than by your definition I’m religious. Now what? I guess the point is that you can now disregard anything I say because you have determined that I’m religious.
        I once talked to a guy who said that God is everywhere and everything. He pointed at an object and concluded that there since something exists, God must exist. His definition of God may not be the same as others’.

        • Mike writes: “I have not come across evidence to convince me that god/s exist. I therefore do not believe gods exist, making me call myself an atheist.”
          Yes, of the “non-theist” variant. Most atheists commenting here are “anti-theists” and assert a thing that cannot be known.
          To assert that god does not exist is meaningless without defining “god”. The instant you DO make that definition you have constrained the realm and I might well agree with you that the particular god you have in mind probably does not exist; leaving undiscovered a vast realm of other possibility.
          But to assert that no god of any kind exists anywhere, that takes magical thinking and huge arrogance!

      • Mike:
        You are playing silly word games: atheists often do.
        I replied to you having said

        Would you call someone who does not believe in Zeus religious? If so then you would probably call atheism a religion.
        When you stretch definitions of words too far, they become meaningless.

        I stated the definitions – and, therefore, the distinctions between – deists, atheists and agnostics.
        You have not disputed the definitions I provided but have tried to pretend you are an agnostic because – you say – you are an atheist. The essential difference between agnostics and atheists is that agnostics hold to a logical idea while atheists have a religious belief.
        Richard

      • Michael 2,
        To state that there is no evidence for any supernatural being of any kind is not arrogant, but properly scientific doubt. Unless you know of some evidence which has escaped the notice of science.
        But absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence. Some cosmologists argue that the rules which govern our particular universe are so improbable, that the God (Creator) hypothesis is scientifically defensible, without being truly scientific, since it doesn’t make testable predictions. Others explain the improbability by suggesting the multiverse hypothesis, which still remains largely in the metaphysical rather than physical realm. A scientist has however made a career out of presenting what she conceives of as evidence in support of the multiverse hypothesis.

      • Michael 2
        You make the reasonable request that I provide a clarification when you write

        richardscourtney writes “Deists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s). Atheists have a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the non-existence of God(s).”
        What word do you suggest for evidence-based belief in the existence of God? You seem not to have allowed for that possibility in your logic.

        I am not aware of need for a word that defines “evidence-based belief in the existence of God” and I see no need for one. I explain this as follows.
        I am not aware of a conclusive set of empirical evidence for a God or Gods. Also, I don’t know what that empirical evidence would be. Hence, I see no need for a word to describe empirical-evidence-based belief in the existence of God.
        Personal evidence can take many forms but it cannot be shared with others. Hence, in my opinion theism (or deism) being a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s) is sufficient to cover personal-evidence-based belief.
        Richard
        Declaration of possible bias:
        I am an Accredited Methodist Preacher on the List of Preachers of the Falmouth and Gwenap Circuit. I became a Christian when I experienced a ‘Damascus Road’ type conversion: that unpleasant experience was powerful personal evidence which convinces me of much about the Living God and changed my life.

        • richardscourtney writes “I am not aware of need for a word that defines ‘evidence-based belief in the existence of God’ and I see no need for one.”
          Your personal lack of awareness is no excuse for assuming others have the same lack. While you can certainly choose not to learn any such word, asserting that no need exists results in bad science if you allow what you believe to shut the door on what you might learn. How many people refused to study continental drift, being certain no such thing existed? How many people still study “ether” (invisible medium of transmission of light and radio waves) because they are certain it does not exist? (the answer appears to be “one” person still believes in ether).
          People study what they think they already know and ignore what they don’t know. How exciting is that?
          Consider Bob Altemeyer’s study that includes questionaires on religion reported in:
          http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf
          On his discussion of why people believe in God, he does not offer in his list of reasons anything remotely resembling revelation. they are all variations of “someone else said so” and so I believe it. File page 85, document page 79, list of reasons.
          Had I been given this survey, I would be stuck, since my belief emanates from knowledge and evidence. His survey is defective hence so are his conclusions — but then he probably started with his conclusions.
          So it is in science — the answer to a mystery may be a thing you not only do not consider, but may consider impossible. It’s not likely, but possible.
          Closed minds are bad for science AND religion.
          So let words exist for even those things you are certain cannot exist, and yet must still be described. Many such words exist — dragon, for instance. Almost everyone on earth has some concept of “dragon” while surely no such thing now exists, nor ever existed as currently defined.
          But while dragons do not exist, the concept most certainly does!
          So what word exists for a person that knows god exists, without putting too much emphasis on what exactly is meant by “god”?
          I am that person, I exist. So create a word for me. It’s not for you.

        • richardscourtney “I am not aware of a conclusive set of empirical evidence for a God or Gods.”
          We seem to be dancing around a nuance. Suppose you awaken early in the morning and see frost on the grass near your home. The sun quickly melts it before anyone else in your house notices it.
          You have evidence of cold. You know with absolute certainty that the grass was below freezing for there to be frost. You have no evidence that you can share with others, and they are free to choose for themselves to believe you or disbelieve you or simply not care.
          But you have knowledge and your decision to wear a jacket or sweater is governed by your sure knowledge.
          This Damascus moment was for Paul a certain knowledge, and yet, how can it be objectified? It can be in the case that during his Damascus moment he is told to go somewhere and meet someone, and upon going there discovers that he was expected.
          In my case, I have several such events of sufficient objectivity that I cannot violate reason itself by pretending god, or some such thing in that realm, does not exist. There’s plenty of room to argue about the nature of god, or how many, or how interested in what I do or wear or think, but to blandly assert that no such thing exists, or can exist, is to me illogical and unreasonable — but only for me. I know what I know, it is to me evidence, but my words to you are not evidence. But just because the evidence has evaporated does not deprive me of my evidence based knowledge and belief.
          I have written in my journal most of these events, at the time they happened. Some parts of these events are also public record, but of course lacking any religious influence. When I was told to change lanes, I was the sole occupant of my automobile, and I changed lanes and avoided a head-on collision. Back in those days cellphones did not exist, but I’m a ham radio operator and autopatched to the police and they apprehended the drunken driver a few miles westward. That call and apprehension will be a matter of public record. Why I was alive to make the call is not a matter of public record and there’s no way to prove it, nor for that matter, any need. It would unbalance “free will” for god to become too predictable, too conspicuous. He’s got his pets, his beasts. We aren’t pets. We are eternal; to become whatever each chooses to be. Influence cannot be removed but it can be balanced so that each person faces a meaningful choice. Not always, but I believe that’s the purpose and goal of life.

      • Richard,
        Deist and theist aren’t the same thing. All Deists are theists but far from all theists are Deists.
        Deism is a largely 18th century phenomenon, whose adherents included many of the American Founding Fathers. It was (or is) a form of Unitarianism, a sort of Christian heresy, in which Jesus is not seen as the literal Son of God, but perhaps in some sense divine, although usually not.
        A theist by contrast is anyone who believes in a “theos”, the Greek word for God.

      • Michael 2 and Gloateus Maximus:
        I think you are both nit-picking. And anybody who thinks such nit-picking is important needs to get a life. But it was addressed at me so I will answer it.
        Firstly, until there is empirical evidence for the existence of God I see no need for a word that defines empirical-evidence-based belief in existence of a God or Gods. If anybody thinks there is such a need then s/he can create a word to cover it.
        Secondly I agree with the definitions in the free dictionary

        deism (ˈdiːɪzəm; ˈdeɪ-)
        n
        1. (Theology) belief in the existence of God based solely on natural reason, without reference to revelation.
        theism (ˈθiːɪzəm)
        n
        1. (Theology) the form of the belief in one God as the transcendent creator and ruler of the universe that does not necessarily entail further belief in divine revelation. Compare deism
        2. (Theology) the belief in the existence of a God or gods. compare atheism

        Those definitions make a distinction between deism and theism in their primary definitions but their secondary definition of theism includes deism. So, I wrote
        “Personal evidence can take many forms but it cannot be shared with others. Hence, in my opinion theism (or deism) being a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s) is sufficient to cover personal-evidence-based belief.”
        Richard

        • richardscourtney writes “Firstly, until there is empirical evidence for the existence of God I see no need for a word that defines empirical-evidence-based…”
          Do you hear that screeching noise of goal posts being moved? Now it is not merely “evidence based” but “empirical evidence based”.
          While I’m not exactly sure what that means, I suspect it is carefully crafted so as to absolutely positively not be possible; and I finally am compelled to agree. God will never allow himself to be placed on a silver platter and passed around a room, with someone saying, “This is God!” and everyone else saying, “Oh, now I see, there is a God, and here it is!”
          The problem ought to be obvious. Absolutely NOTHING I can hand to you for test and measurement can be proven to be “God” because we would simply argue the definition.
          What test might you have for Godness? Move a mountain? If it were that easy you’d have counterfeit mountain-movers everywhere. You would have been born and raised with mountain-moving as a normal part of your daily experience and you would STILL deny any evidence for God because you are *immersed* in it.
          So to continue this entertaining conversation, suggest what empirical proof of God could exist, hypothetically of course, and how you would know that it proves the existence of God and absolutely nothing else.

      • Michael 2
        You begin your ridiculous attempt at justifying your nit-picking saying

        richardscourtney writes “Firstly, until there is empirical evidence for the existence of God I see no need for a word that defines empirical-evidence-based…”
        Do you hear that screeching noise of goal posts being moved? Now it is not merely “evidence based” but “empirical evidence based”.

        I do NOT move goal posts!
        My first answer that you nit-picked said

        I am not aware of need for a word that defines “evidence-based belief in the existence of God” and I see no need for one. I explain this as follows.
        I am not aware of a conclusive set of empirical evidence for a God or Gods. Also, I don’t know what that empirical evidence would be. Hence, I see no need for a word to describe empirical-evidence-based belief in the existence of God.
        Personal evidence can take many forms but it cannot be shared with others. Hence, in my opinion theism (or deism) being a religious (i.e. evidence-free) belief in the existence of God(s) is sufficient to cover personal-evidence-based belief.

        If you know of any form of evidence that is not empirical and not personal then please say what it is because I don’t know of it. And you did not state it when you made your nit-pick that I answered.
        Richard

        • richardscourtney writes “I do NOT move goal posts!”
          Well, okay sort of. I see that you used both constructions, one with just “evidence based” and one with “empirical evidence based”
          I have often (well, when circumstances permit) acknowledged that it is probably impossible to have universally agreed empirical evidence for God, because if such a thing existed everyone on earth would believe in God, and it would also be almost meaningless like believing in the moon.
          The problem is in the supernatural expectations that many people, usually atheists, have for “god”, that he can and will, on command, but for me only, move a mountain, raise the dead or whatever. That’s not a god, that’s a “genie” (djinn or whatever), at your command but not perhaps reliably so.
          Hypothetically, what would a god do if:
          1. He was himself a supreme but not supernatural being and
          2. Like all living things his actual purpose was to make more like himself, but better if possible and
          3. Might seek to continue in a direction of perfection where the actual nature is emergent and
          4. That which is “life” (purpose, will) is not a product but is self-existing, neither created nor destroyed, but only guided and shaped where it is willing to be guided and shaped.
          Or something like that.
          Many or most Christians imagine they are pets, created ex-nihilo; some say servants of god. But none of these imaginations makes much sense and from that come excuses of mysticism or mystery, things that you aren’t supposed to know. The problems are many and likely you have considered some of these problems — how can a perfect god create obvious imperfection? The answer is trivially simple; he didn’t create imperfection. Imperfection is eternal. The best anyone can do is separate that which is wanted from everything else. But how shall one choose? Persons must be given opportunity to grow, and to choose, and to grow some more, and choose some more, at each step more refined or perfected than the previous experience-and-choice cycle.
          The WORST possible thing to do is prove the existence of a god thus depriving every living soul the free-will choices that otherwise would be theirs to make and be responsible for.
          This is hinted at in scripture, you must first believe God before you’ll get your evidence, and while that is also a formula for hypnosis, it is also a means to avoid contaminating the test. Revealing himself to those already committed does not alter their choices. There’s not much to gain revealing himself to those that have chosen against him, although it appears to happen rarely.
          What God wants, the christian god anyway, is service to each other. The Boy Scout oath distills to that, so does all of Christianity. The two great commandments — love God and love your neighbor, but how exactly do you love god? By loving your neighbor. That is the essence of Christianity.
          God is not HERE. But you are, I am, and millions of other people. I make choices and discover and establish who I am thereby.

  16. My religious faith includes the specific doctrine that we believe all true things. There simply is no conflict, either in outlook or specifics, between that doctrine and science — there can’t be. It behooves all scientists to hold to the same doctrine — believe, accept all true things — then you can accept your religion and science with equanimity.

    • What you have described as religious faith, Kip, is neither faith nor religion.
      Precious parsing is not philosophy; it’s post normal ™ mysticism. It is spin.doctory. It is false narrative meant to fake a resolution of mutually contradictory concepts.
      These are word games of the sophomore and I think you are sufficiently self aware to know it.
      Do better.
      Start here: define ‘truth’.
      If you find you are able to do that, you are halfway to science, via epistemology (more science, yay!)
      If you find you can not, then you may find it useful to know the proper word for a ‘religious scientist’ is ‘savant’.

      • gnomish writes “What you have described as religious faith, Kip, is neither faith nor religion.”
        Correct, it is a fusion of all things and probably needs a new word, and that word is “Mormon”.
        “Start here: define ‘truth’.”
        Truth is a knowledge of things as they were, and as they are, and as they will be.
        It is comprehensive. No wiggle, no evasion, it includes everything that exists regardless of your ability to measure it with a voltmeter, calipers or scale. It includes and must include everything that ever existed since what came before influences what exists right now.
        Truth is existence, and existence is truth.
        “If you find you are able to do that, you are halfway to science”
        You are also halfway to religion.

      • This is what is sad about a lot of these discussions – the presumptiveness about what is and is not “science.”
        Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge. Science, a process for ascertaining truth/knowledge, would be examined as one of the various strategies for ascertaining truth/knowledge.
        If you are studying epistemology, or carrying out epistemology, you are doing something that is a philosophical activity; you are not being “scientific.”

      • Dear Kip,
        I don’t care who you may think you are. I don’t want or need your approval. (But i have read your essays)
        You have to define your terms if you want to convey rational meaning. Of course, if it’s demagoguery you’re at, precise terms lend themselves to critical analysis and you wouldn’t want that.
        As an epiphytic member of the activist industry ecosystem, you make that call.
        That’s who you are = what you do.
        Cutesy neologisms and phony dialectic are marketing tools especially wrought to evade critical thinking.
        Let me help out so that anybody can detect and register a hustler and his game:
        Here is a recipe for semantic analysis:
        1 – of all the possible topics a person could choose, he selects the one.
        there is a reason for that selection.
        2 – of all possible angles or views to take on the selected topic, one was chosen.
        there is a reason for that selection.
        3 – of all possible vocabulary words to use in addressing the selected view of the selected topic, only certain words are chosen.
        there is a reason for that choice.
        Whenever anybody says anything, you can make sense of what they say by stepping through this procedure. You may find that what is said be, prima facie, nonsense. But even when it may be pure bafflegab, there is a reason for that.
        You don’t want to get bogged down defending it because it will muck up your hustle.
        Michael2 – your ‘definition’ is deficient because it is self contradictory. That makes it not even a definition.
        The self contradiction is here:
        “Truth is a knowledge of things”
        which means that if nobody knows something it must not be true.
        So to falsify a proposition, one merely ensures that nobody knows it?
        Not to tease-
        Truth is a proposition which IN THE DEFINED CONTEXT is never contradicted.
        There is nothing without context – but you need to start with the basics:
        1 – a thing is itself (if you want to make a religion, you only need to start out with any statement in the form ‘a thing is not itself’, e.g. ‘death is life (everlasting or whatever)’
        2 – a thing is a kind of thing. (context – it’s everything…lol)
        That’ll be it for me. If anybody gets anything out of all this typing, guess who it won’t be.

        • gnomish “Michael2 – The self contradiction is here: Truth is a knowledge of things which means that if nobody knows something it must not be true.”
          Yes! “Truth” is a human construction that exists and can only exist in a human mind. It is a recognition of “what is” and since “what is” must be objectively real, it must also be judged the same way by all observers whose observations are “true”.
          “So to falsify a proposition, one merely ensures that nobody knows it?”
          In a binary world, that would be correct. However, the world is not binary; the correct consequence of everyone not knowing a thing, is that the truthfulness of the thing is not known (neither the thing itself). It is neither true nor false; it is unknown.
          This leads to religion in that the proper consequence of not knowing God, is to declare a lack of knowledge, rather than pretend to certainty about a thing that cannot be known, namely the nonexistence of God, which for lack of definition presumably means any and all supreme beings, not even Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      • Somebody studied way too much gobbledygook and really messed up their critical thinking skills — substituting magical rhetoric for real thinking and discovery.

    • GP: Is Eris true?
      M2: Everything is true.
      GP: Even false things?
      M2: Even false things are true.
      GP: How can that be?
      M2: I don’t know man, I didn’t do it.

  17. Religious mysticism is completely incompatible with science because the former denies reality by positing primacy of consciousness metaphysics; the latter, however, is based on the primacy of existence. There can be no compromise between the two positions; they’re mutually exclusive because the former is invalid while primacy of existence is self-evident and directly experienced by all.

    • Robert Bumbalough:
      You assert

      Religious mysticism is completely incompatible with science because the former denies reality by positing primacy of consciousness metaphysics; the latter, however, is based on the primacy of existence. There can be no compromise between the two positions; they’re mutually exclusive because the former is invalid while primacy of existence is self-evident and directly experienced by all.

      Religious mysticism and science are both methods for seeking truth.
      Their vary natures make them “compatible”. But there can be no compromise between them because they are each valid and neither should be devalued by the methods of either being contaminated with the methods of the other.
      If you know what is and what is not “existence” then please inform philosophers because they have been attempting to resolve that issue for thousands of years.
      Dreams are “directly experienced by all” but each person’s dreams are unique. That does not mean physical reality does not exist.
      Richard

      • “Religious mysticism and science are both methods for seeking truth.”
        The problem with the former is that you’ll never really have answers, just mysticism.

      • Jeff Alberts:
        You say

        “Religious mysticism and science are both methods for seeking truth.”
        The problem with the former is that you’ll never really have answers, just mysticism.

        I have obtained “answers” from both.
        Most useful “answers” are not factual: they are more important than that.
        Love, hope and comfort in distress are important truths that people need. Indeed, most people are religious because mere facts are not the most important “answers” they seek, and religion provides the “answers” they want.
        Richard

  18. Hard core atheists are some of the most spiritual people I have ever met, even though they dislike hearing me say that.

    • They dislike you saying it because you are wrong, that’s all. ‘Spiritual’ is related to the ‘soul’. ‘Soul’ is the immortal essence of a living thing. Atheists tend to believe that we are not immortal, and have no soul. So for you to say they are spiritual simply shows your ignorance of the English language, nothing more. And that’s what annoys them.

      • Baz:
        No, it points out their religion and that is what annoys them.
        Here in the UK the Church of England produced an advert for use during Advent and was intended for showing among other adverts in cinemas. But it included a choir singing the Lord’s Prayer so atheists objected to it being shown because hearing a prayer was claimed to be “offensive”. Their objections were accepted and the advert has been banned.
        There is nothing more offensive and annoying than proselytising atheists promoting their religion by opposing others.
        Richard

  19. From a scientific viewpoint, it is only fitting that a scientist would not adopt the dogma of atheism. The atheist BELIEVES with certainty that there is no spiritual being. There is no EVIDENCE for one. Logically and scientifically agnosticism would be as far as a scientist can rightly go since all he can say is “I don’t know”. It is unscientific to say that I DO know there is no deity without evidence to support it, the answer to “How do you know?” Athiests are stuck with at best a belief with no evidence to support their ‘certainty’. Atheism in logical terms is a posture of ignorance – essentially an agnostic position.
    The atheist comforts himself that his position makes him intellectually superior and very brave, when really it is underpinned with a mere belief, like the theist. The atheist is drawing a line in the sand that is more a challenge than a tenable secure idea.

    • Gary Pearse writes “when really it is underpinned with a mere belief, like the theist.”
      My belief is not “mere”. While it is impossible to know that there’s no god (*), it is possible to know there IS. The situation is not symmetrical.
      * Depending on how one defines god, it may be possible to prove that a particular god does not exist. My daughter, for instance, has decided there’s no god because she prayed for a boy to fall in love with her. He didn’t; ergo there’s no god. Since that’s all she wants from a god it works out the same whether there’s no god or just not the kind that forces boys to fall in love with her exclusively. I tried suggesting that god is listening to the same prayer from every girl in town and has probably decided not to intervene at all. Work it out for yourselves.

    • Gary,
      All atheists are agnostics but not all agnostics are atheists. Atheists don’t necessarily state with certainty that they are sure there is no God. Not even Dawkins claims that, as it would be unscientific to do so. What distinguishes an atheist from other agnostics is that he or she feels that, since there is no evidence either for or against the existence of God, the more valid position is to conclude, until evidence should emerge either way, that there is no sufficient reason to believe.
      Maybe you know some atheists who are 100% certain there is no God, but I don’t, and I know lots of them. A believer chooses to accept on faith the existence of God. If God were a sure thing, there would be no value in faith. An atheist sees no compelling reason to take this leap of faith.

      • See my note below. I think you have a semantic muddle. Atheist cannot be other than a believer, like the theist, in his position. It isn’t scientific to jump to a certain conclusion of their being no god or spiritual realm because you have no evidence yet. That is the agnostics scientific position.

      • I’m an atheist who states that there is no God. You would do well to Google Russel’s Teapot:
        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Russell's_Teapot
        I state that there is no teapot there in the same fashion that I state there is no God there. Given the absurdity of faith without evidence, we rightly infer that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. We (atheists like me) therefore state that there is no God there. It is not incumbent upon us to prove it.

        • Baz writes “We (atheists like me) therefore state that there is no God there. It is not incumbent upon us to prove it.”
          Quite right. It is your belief, your religion, protected by a ruling of the United States Supreme Court. You do not need to prove it; yet here you are asserting it.
          But your words are utterly meaningless until and unless you define “God” for you assert the non-existence of a thing not-defined. Well, what is that? It’s undefined; it is dividing by zero, it is !x (not x) when x is not known.
          So define it, and then assert its non-existence, and I’ll probably agree with you that your particular imagination of what the word means points to nothing that exists while reserving to myself my certain knowledge of what does exist.

      • Your understanding of atheism is muddled. It’s not a merely semantic distinction. There may well be atheists who for whatever personal reason are certain that there is no God. But the majority of atheists are like Dawkins, ie seeing no reason to believe that there is a God, but open to evidence, of which to date there isn’t any.
        Hawkings is an atheist because he feels that science offers a more convincing explanation for the existence of the universe than does creation by some supreme being. However, not all cosmologists are convinced by his and his colleagues’ explanation.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “But the majority of atheists are like Dawkins”
          I consider him to be an evangelist for his non-belief, one of the first of the new breed of actively proselyting atheists. It seems balance is needed so humans can make free-will choices.

      • Baz,
        Russell’s Teapot has to do with the burden of proof, and I agree that the extraordinary claim of the existence of a creator requires extraordinary evidence, which is totally lacking.
        However, that is logically different from being able to demonstrate with certainty that there is no God. Atheists can no more disprove the existence of God, so far, than theists can prove it. If proof be an applicable term, since it comes from math rather than science. Better to say that the God hypothesis can be neither confirmed nor falsified, hence is not a scientific proposition, but a metaphysical one.

        • Gloateus Maximus: “the extraordinary claim of the existence of a creator requires extraordinary evidence, which is totally lacking.”
          Without a doubt. The universe created itself. With an even bigger LHC we will have proof of it by creating our own Universe.

      • Michael 2,
        Why must the universe be created? What if it’s simply a property of space-time?
        Positing a supernatural creator for whom there is no physical evidence does nothing at all to explain nature. It’s just another way of saying, we don’t know. Better IMO to try to find out than punting in this unsatisfactory way.

        • Gloateus Maximus says “Why must the universe be created? What if it’s simply a property of space-time?”
          I have no idea. Maybe the LHC will answer it. But if so, it just moves the goal posts; did space-time create itself?
          Just say yes 🙂
          Or no.

      • Michael 2,
        Yes, Dawkins is a militant atheist and as close to being certain that there is nothing like a God as a scientist can be. But IMO most atheists are live and let live. Those who challenge crosses and Nativity scenes on public property are a minority, but color the perception of the majority.
        Even in the 19th century, Darwin’s militant atheist colleagues wanted him to support their views publicly, but he just wanted to practice science rather than proselytize. Plus, his wife was a Christian, if an heretical one, ie a unitarian, as secretly was Newton.

      • Michael 2
        December 4, 2015 at 10:15 am
        There is evidence that space-time exists. There is as yet no evidence of a creator. The same goes for space-time as the universe. Supposing a creator not in evidence is anti-scientific. It brings the scientific endeavor to a screeching halt. If you’re sure that space-time were created, why try to figure out what it is? The God hypothesis explains nothing and makes no testable predictions, so is unscientifc, at best.

        • Gloateus Maximus “There is evidence that space-time exists.”
          Certainly, it follows from Descartes. It takes time to realize that time exists, and it takes space for the realizer to occupy so he can realize time exists.
          “There is as yet no evidence of a creator.”
          Either that or everything is evidence of a creator. Flip a coin, choose!
          “Supposing a creator not in evidence is anti-scientific. It brings the scientific endeavor to a screeching halt.”
          Certainly with regard to using a gas chromatograph to find God, that would indeed be futile, or maybe not. It is a bit like trying to find matter not in evidence; “dark matter”, which by definition almost doesn’t interact with normal matter and thus is, again by definition, not considered to be detectable except by the most delicate of instruments but even then failure to detect is not proof of nonexistence.
          “If you’re sure that space-time were created, why try to figure out what it is?”
          Maybe a few billion dollars for making the effort, kinda like finding a Higgs Boson. An episode of Star Trek explores this concept, a “bubble” of space-time created by Wesley Crusher. He brought it into existence, was trapped inside and was nearly crushed (pun intended) by it.
          “The God hypothesis explains nothing and makes no testable predictions, so is unscientifc, at best.”
          Yes, I think that has been abundantly established by me and others. It is a way of moving along to the next thing, “why is there air?” which invokes the anthropic principle.

    • It is very telling that the zealot fringe of CAGW harps on the certainty of their position, the athiest type of certainty. A study of “the science is settled” “the debate is over” CAGW scientists would be most revealing. I predict they are all atheists (not even agnostics). It is a common ad hominem of the “certainty” crowd to ‘accuse’ a dissenter of being a Creationist or some such. Roy Spencer and Monckton often run into this kind of abuse. I think a more detailed study would be most revealing. For example, I suspect that Ehrlich and his fellows and a host of other misanthropist proponents are atheist (not more scientifically agnostic). They would never say “I don’t know”.

      • Roy is indeed a Creationist, not that fact should disqualify him from commenting on his area of expertise, which most certainly is not biology.

    • Gary,
      “The atheist BELIEVES with certainty that there is no spiritual being. ”
      I consider myself to be an atheist, as in, I have no belief in a higher being.
      However, I have no certainty about it at all. I sure hope I’m wrong, that when I die I will magically awake again somewhere else. No sarcasm, that is a serious hope. It is an epic tragedy that all I am disappears at my death. All I have learned is lost forever. My experiences forgotten by the universe. I really wish it were different. But wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true.
      Just wanted to make the point that I think your statement is incorrect. Perhaps some atheists believe with certainty, but not this one.

      • People that insist that atheism is a religion are attempting some serious, and delusional, sophistry. They are trying to define atheism as a belief system in which the believer professes a knowledge that there is no god.
        You can not prove a negative. And thus cannot have knowledge that there is no god. What you can do is use the power of deduction to eliminate it to a very high probability.
        That is hardly a religion.

        • Lancifer wrote “You can not prove a negative. And thus cannot have knowledge that there is no god. What you can do is use the power of deduction to eliminate it to a very high probability. That is hardly a religion.”
          Of course it is a religion. Your beliefs in this “space” are your religion. So says the Supreme Court on treating atheism as a religion. The United Kingdom also treats it as a religion and even as a religion code for it on official documents.
          Anyway, show me this power of deduction that you have used to eliminate god to a very high probability. Naturally you will have to start with what is “god”, then show it doesn’t exist. This could prove entertaining.

      • I think there is a broad mix ranging from certainty to doubt within those who identify as theists and those who identify as non-theistic. No good reason to characterize just atheist as certain. Some people identify as apolitical – that does not mean they are certain that politics does not exist, but rather that they choose not to be involved with it. One can be an atheist is the same way one can be asexual – by not becoming involved is something that on the whole does not seem worthwhile from an individual perspective. From our own perspectives we all have similarities and divergences that often make such sweeping statements about believers and non-believers misleading. Individuals can approach religious or non-religious endeavors both in alternative ways that may make their advocacy a religion or not.

  20. From my own experience I wouldn’t confront religion and science as relating to the same kind of existential experience or phenomena – they are geared towards different objectives and different questions, and although there may be overlap, historical or personal, and because of that “a conflict of paradigm” may arise – in the end they spring from fundamentally different sources and are focused around different needs.
    There is a thought experiment: an agnostic or atheist intellectual suddenly is in deep trouble and his very existence looks like being shattered – completely helpless it may very well happen to him he starts praying to a god or some higher power to help him, in his anxious moments this may just happen to him spontaneously without thinking.
    Does this make him a religious person?
    In the end I don’t think religion has to do with a free choice, religion is related to deep mechanism and intuitions that are just there, given and grown as a result of our personal history, the groups we are part of, the persons that are important to us.
    A simplistic distinction that comes to mind here is to say religion is maybe mainly linked to our “older” brain parts like the reptilian, mammal, primate – and science mainly to the neocortex – but I have to say I am not into this brain business so this is just a speculative theory to illustrate my line of thought.

  21. I don’t know why this authored-contribution exists. Religion is simply irrelevant…to anything. If we all died out tomorrow, religion would die with us…as would golf! It is man-made, purely, has no relevance on the world, it’s animals, its nature – absolutely none (don’t confuse effect with relevance). It’s abject nonsense. You could start a religion tomorrow – and that says everything about it.

    • Golf might be played on a rocky planet around a yellow star in the gigantic IC 1101 galaxy. But I can’t be sure, being agnostic.

    • Baz “You could start a religion tomorrow – and that says everything about it.”
      Your vision seems a bit limited. Your not-religion IS a religion. No one escapes religion even if you simply make your own. Whatever you consider right and wrong, whoever is your authority, the person you trust (if anyone, even if only yourself), that’s your religion. No one escapes!

  22. “The Templeton World Charity Foundation funded the study.”
    The study was funded by Templeton, a charity with a very clear religious bent. They are quite open about it. I am not claiming that the source of funding influenced the outcome, but as in all human endeavors one should always keep the “cui bono” aspect in mind. We all do it on this site when we look at studies in climate science, as well as in other fields. Would the “wrong” result affect future funding?
    Without seeing the structure of the study, the questions, the analysis, the raw data, what do we really know?

  23. Just as politics and religion need to be separated, so too does religion and science. Each is poison to the other. They only co-exist with strenuous mental gymnastics.
    I have little trust in ‘religious scientists.’ They are unable to falsify their own belief system. They are inherently blind and self-delusional.
    Also, I think that articles like this damage the credibility of a science blog.

    • Kozlowski:
      Yes, you are obviously right.
      Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Friar Mendel and their ilk obviously damaged the credibility of a science. sarc off/
      Richard

    • Kozlowski writes “I think that articles like this damage the credibility of a science blog.”
      It isn’t a science blog; it is a knowledge blog. More exists than just science. Science is confined to atoms and energy because the instruments of science are made of atoms and energy and can measure nothing else.
      I love science. But it is but one facet of the jewel of life.

  24. Failed divinity student, Rev Al Gore travels the world giving thunderous sermons, demanding we repent for our carbon sins. His hundreds of acolyte MiniGore’s spread the faith. Paris must be infested with them this week.

  25. To quote an indelibly famous individual, “What difference does it make?”
    51% of all scientists believe there’s a god. Ah, so there must be a god.
    51% of all scientists believe there’s not a god. Ah, so there isn’t a god.
    And, in the end, we know with absolutely certainty that there is indeed a god. It’s unmistakable. It’s right before us. It’s Barack Obama. And, despite our beliefs to the contrary, what he has shown us is that gods do, indeed, make mistakes. Big mistakes. Whopper mistakes. Big, fat whopper mistakes. Stupid, big, fat, whopper mistakes. Massively stupid, big, fat, whopper mistakes.
    So, if anybody ever asks how God could allow terrible things to happen; now you know.

  26. It seems to me the athiest must also reject the idea of art, that (say an abstract) painting means this or that or is an expression of this or that thought, idea or mood. What evidence on the canvas can be used to support this. How can a melody be sad or happy, or grand, or profound. How can a design be pleasing or otherwise, or color combination, what could ‘in the eyes of the beholder’ possibly mean. There is much in our makeup that exists that cannot be given a reason for. There is much we value that can’t be quantitatively weighed and does not have universal singularity. Atheism may be a form of despair, bleakness, colorlessness. Hey, I’m in the “don’t know” category. I don’t want to rule out something that would be transcendent.

    • ” Atheism may be a form of despair, bleakness, colorlessness.”
      I think you fundamentally misunderstand atheism. I love art, with it’s possibilities for interpretation. I enjoy taking photographs of nature to freeze that moment and marvel at its incredible beauty.
      There is no ‘despair, bleakness or colorlessness in atheism.’ Not in mine anyways :). Just a pragmatic admission that it is unlikely that the God of the bible exists. Ditto for all other beliefs and faiths. Very very unlikely. That doesn’t detract from the value of life, however. On the contrary, I think it increases the value of our lives, to be lived to the fullest as it is the only one we will ever get.
      We are dead a lot longer than we are alive. So live this one life to the fullest.

      • Ditto the last sentence. But surely yours is the definition of an agnostic. Even ‘very unlikely’ is a “don’t know” position. My point is that certainty on the issue of a spiritual realm is a dogmatic position (theist or atheist), like “the debate is over” or “the consensus is correct” when really it is in the way of a belief. Go with “don’t know” as the scientific assessment. Some argue that all over the world, independently, all peoples had this spiritual thing and there are remarkable similarities among them, ergo….. From a darwinistic perspective, why would we be the only creatures on the planet that did anything that wasn’t simply for survival. What use biologically would it have? Is being delusional a trait that would serve the biological imperatives? Is creating big buildings, music, art etc. replete with survival or selectable traits for evolution? We do an excessive amount of unnecessary stuff. Giraffe’s have long necks to reach high foliage in savanna country – it is a defining part of their anatomy and their being. They don’t draw things in the sand with their hooves, although they could. We do. A thinking atheist would soon transform himself to an Agnostic “don’t know” type.

    • Gary,
      I wonder how many atheists you have known. Your cartoonish picture of them is fundamentally wrong. Many great artists have been avowed atheists, and more still in prior centuries who couldn’t say so publicly.
      Maybe it would help if you had read atheist literature or even listened to what they actually say about their beliefs and attitudes. Here is one of the most famous atheists on the distinction between agnostic and atheist. Sorry for the poor video quality:

      • Gloateus Maximus writes: “Maybe it would help if you had read atheist literature”
        No such thing can exist. An atheist is not a thing to be, it is a thing to not-be. So what is an atheist? It is unpredictable! The word describes a single lack; not a thing itself.
        Perhaps you are suggesting that atheist literature is ALL literature save only god-advocating literature. But it might even be that; cannot an atheist write a story about god just as easily as she writes about a dragon or unicorn?
        For there to be an affirmative atheist literature, identifiable immediately as such, it cannot be merely atheist (not-theist) but anti-theist (rather a lot of Dawkins in other words).

      • Michael,
        It might be fair to consider Dawkins and some other militant atheists as anti-theistical, but there is also a large body of less militant atheistic literature. For instance, among recent writers, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris are often lumped together with Dawkins and Hitchens, but their less aggressive approach is a softer sell. IMO, they’re not angry, but analytical.

    • Not much too add to Feynman:
      ***
      “I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”
      ― Richard Feynman
      ***

  27. I became a Christian at university while reading physics. That was 40 years ago. Why would anyone think that “existence” can be completely defined just by what physics (science) investigates?

    • Physics is not trying to completely define “existence”. But science is a process by which ideas that pass certain empirical tests can be verified or disregarded. Christianity is a death cult based on an obviously false myth that can at best distort any inquiry into the questions that science can be used to answer.
      Islam and any of the other religions that are professed by the worlds “believers” are just as worthless in answering these questions. The only utility the have, IMHO, is to convince the credulous that they are somehow part of a universe that somehow cares about their dreary daily problems.
      The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you or me. If you need the revelations of ancient Neolithic goat herders to guide you through life’s choices and moral predicaments you are practicing a completely irrational, yet eminently popular, form of self-deception.
      Entire cultures have been built around these obviously contradictory religions, yet people cheerfully denigrate the foolish religious delusions of adherents of other religions while tenaciously and often violently clinging to their own idiotic fables and rituals.

      • “But science is a process by which ideas that pass certain empirical tests can be verified or disregarded.”
        Lancifer: so science can confirm truth?
        That’s a new one.

  28. Some may be interested in:
    http://www.reasons.org/about/our-mission
    They say:
    RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.
    As well, Stephen Hawking has this to say:
    “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” 
    ― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

    • Stephen Hawking> Now this guy DOES dig deeply into the question, whereas self appointed atheists adopt the position, probably starting as a naughty intellectual thing to do in university as I did briefly. Disclaimer, I am not a member of any formalized religious group. I am a scientist (and engineer) though, and can see no reason in being sure of something that is or isn’t without evidence – such certainty is a matter of belief or faith. Being sure one way or the other seems a failing in logic. Hey, I’m happy to be in the company of Stephen Hawking, for sure.
      Having eggheads discuss the differences between atheists and agnostics is of no help. They arrived at evolved forms of the original meaning of atheist (pretty starkly obvious in the word itself) precisely because of the kinds of criticisms I have elaborated on here. Celebrity atheists probably quickly effected the shift in position when debate showed them that they were really dogmatic believers. They of course couldn’t save face and abandon the ‘category’ so they clipped a few bits off agnosticism to emend a weak idea. It’s done all the time. The venerable historical idea of agnosticism needed some repositioning, too. It’s done all the time, too.

      • Gary,
        You are mistaken. Whatever connotation the term “agnostic” may have picked up since its first use in 1869, Dawkins applies correctly in its original meaning.
        It was coined by “Darwin’s Bulldog”, T. H. Huxley. Twenty years later, Huxley elaborated on what he meant by “agnosticism”. He used the word in order to frame the nature of claims in terms of what is knowable and what is not. Huxley wrote, “Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the (rigorous) application of a single principle…the fundamental axiom of modern science…In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration…In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable”.

      • Well Gloateus, you have just described by understanding of agnosticism it – it is really related to scientific principle whereas athiest is a stern religious-type belief. You show yourself to be actually an agnostic as Huxley would have understood it. Don’t be unhappy about this, it is a good thing.

      • Gary,
        You seem to be missing the point, which is that the relationship between agnosticism, properly understood, and atheism is as I described it. All atheists are agnostics. There are some, but not many 50/50 agnostics, or 4s on Dawkins’ seven point scale, who really aren’t sure either way or just don’t care enough about religion to come to a conclusion. But there are lots of people in the 6 to 7 range, for whom continuing to go “meh” is not a rational choice. Even some in the 5-6 range might consider themselves non-militant atheists.
        Atheism is not, as you and some other commenters here suppose, a religion requiring a faith-based belief. It is however a choice, based upon one’s being sufficiently convinced by the lack of evidence for a god and preponderance of evidence against the supposition that there is a god or gods, however defined, to conclude that he, she, it or they don’t exist.

        • Gloateus Maximus “Atheism is not, as you and some other commenters here suppose, a religion requiring a faith-based belief.”
          Indeed, it requires faith-based non-belief!
          There is no evidence (1) proving god, there is also no evidence proving the non-existence of god (2).
          1. Plenty of evidence exists which a person may conclude, or not, that it reveals the existence of god. But what you would accept as proof another might not and if a readily available proof existed then it would be readily available to all from the beginning of human history and thus not usually perceived as anything special.
          2. The only way to prove the non-existence of God is to define it in such a way that a proof is possible. Suppose you declare that “God” is a being that never allows children to die. If you observe children dying, then you have proven the non-existence of “God” — at least of that particular kind. But that’s a “straw-god”.

      • Gary,
        In an earlier comment you used the term “scientifically agnostic.” I like it. I would guess that most scientists and engineers are more scientifically agnostic than they are believers. I personally think that scientists and engineers that accepts anything with the probability of one are just kidding themselves and severely limiting the useful scope of their work. Just because something (i.e., a ‘fact’, ‘formula’, ‘theory’, or even a ‘first principle’) has been correct in the past does not mean it will remain so in the future. Expecting otherwise defines nothing more than a personal ‘belief’, which has no place in either science or engineering.

      • Michael 2,
        I like straw god.
        Again, atheism is not faith-based because, whatever your experience tells you, there is no objective evidence even of a creator, let alone a deity which intervenes in history and counts falling sparrows and hairs on heads. Besides which, as noted, positing a creator explains nothing. Why worship such a vapid concept? Especially when, if omnipotent, the supposed being is sadistic beyond measure.
        Your experiences convince you, but others might chalk them up to accident or some subconscious sense processing.
        As science advances, there is ever less space in which the hypothetical being can hide.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “atheism is not faith-based”
          True for “weak atheism” of the “I really don’t know and I don’t care” variety. But it becomes faith based in the case of “strong atheism” or evangelical atheism.
          I do not argue against an atheist arguing against a particular god that cannot exist and such arguments are fairly common between theists: My god exists, your god does not!
          “there is no objective evidence even of a creator”
          Of course there’s a creator; what is not obvious by inspection is that this creator is anthropomorphic and does not want you to eat meat on Fridays and took only 144 hours to create Life, the Universe, and Everything (see Douglas Adams for more on that theme).
          “let alone a deity which intervenes in history and counts falling sparrows and hairs on heads.”
          I don’t know that he doesn’t and how would anyone know? History only flows one way; whether an intervention has already altered the flow cannot be known. I have a suspicion that my history has been altered. It is also a bit of an assumption that the Supreme Being does all that. There may well be some flunky spirit that is counting my hairs as they slowly fall and another counting falling sparrows.
          I’ll admit to being slightly contaminated by the movie “Time Bandits”, a comedy but contains some remarkably sharp observations.
          “Besides which, as noted, positing a creator explains nothing. Why worship such a vapid concept?”
          Why indeed. I’m a bit fuzzy on the whole worship thing; while I know with certainty that a god exists, it is not clear to me that anything I do makes the slightest difference to him — but doing things makes a big difference to my neighbor. So, I worship nothing in particular but give service to my neighbor and respect to God. I don’t even know how to “worship”.
          “Your experiences convince you, but others might chalk them up to accident or some subconscious sense processing.”
          That they do. I am open to alternate explanations of why the voice told me to change lanes and avoid a deadly head-on collision, or at another time, told me to go render assistance to a person that I had no idea needed assistance, his daughter had just been in an automobile accident.
          Neither do I strictly attribute these things to a singular person “God” who is merely the supremest of a rather wide variety of things which by their sheer numbers is far more likely what you or anyone else actually encounters. Several dimensions exist such as intellect (will), power, goodness/badness. A good number of people can feel these things, and feel it objectively which is to say, I will feel something and my wife will feel it and shortly after we turn to each other and say, “did you feel that?” I didn’t imagine it (well sometimes I probably do); but two or more persons imagining the exact same thing at the same time and place is a bit unusual.
          For you to believe a single word I write would indeed be “blind faith” and there’s no reason for that. I am just telling stories; who does not like a good story? But someone reading these words has the same story, and maybe a doubt, and after reading my words their doubt will be resolved, “I too had that experience!” and their faith will not be blind, for I have not imparted my story, but validated, made objectively real, their own story.

  29. For everyone with an interest in the subject, I highly recommend you see the movie “Contact” (or read the book by Carl Sagan).
    Science is belief in what can be proven.
    Faith (religion) is belief in what can’t be proved (ie God).
    To quote U2 :
    “No one is blinder than he who will not see” based on John 9:40-41.
    There are people blinded by science and there people blinded by faith; neither can see that faith isn’t science and science isn’t faith. And these people , both coming from a faith and a science background, are the ones that see a conflict between the two.

    • Everybody has their opinion, but I do not go along with the idea that science involves “belief” of any kind. I have professionally involved myself in science and engineering for 40 years, and it is all an attempt to make the most reasonable sense out of what is observed. It is a world of hypotheses and theories, all of which are understood to be, in principle, temporary…until superseded by something more effective, or by a different way of looking at something.
      When I was in graduate school, I had the exhilarating experience in very small classes of joining with the professor in trying to understand the material and where it led. It was from this I obtained the idea of “the Frontier of Ignorance.” We knew things up to a certain point, and beyond that, it was all a vast sea of ignorance.
      It is a modern conceit to think that we must have an explanation for everything, and so we come up with flimsy explanations to paper over the gaps where we do not have robust explanations…when the more honest approach would be to admit “we just don’t know” and keep an open mind. A closed mind is like a closed butterfly net. I don’t need to explain the analogy.

      • Michael 2,
        The point of the scientific endeavor is to try to find out how nature works. Of course that requires admitting and recognizing what is not known or well explained, ie our ignorance. But that doesn’t mean that scientists shouldn’t try to understand.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes: “The point of the scientific endeavor is to try to find out how nature works.”
          Why?

      • Michael J. Dunn writes
        “I do not go along with the idea that science involves belief of any kind.”
        and
        “It is a modern conceit to think that we must have an explanation for everything,”
        So which is it? Things that are not explained (2) must necessarily then be believed (1) or not believed (1).
        I suspect you believe quite a lot that you have not personally proven to be true.

  30. What one labels their philosophy is their choice.
    Both in their cleanest form are human paths toward understanding the spaces we inhabit.
    Most religions leave lots of room for science.
    And from what we can currently measure and safely infer, science has an infinity of room for GOD/Gods.
    The sense of wonder, essential for good scientific speculation, is also essential for the humility to know, that we do not know.
    From my perspective religion and science are one.A tool for a self deluding, pattern seeking mind to attempt to see.
    It is not much, but the scientific method is the best we have come up with so far, to allow the exchange of ideas between men.
    When we argue philosophy, religion our communication breakdown is accelerated by the number of undefined terms at the start of the conversation.
    To attempt a scientific exchange, we must define our terms at the start.Thus limiting the conservation.
    The God problem, is the same as defining “everything”.

  31. If you are a scientist you can not be an atheist. They are mutually exclusive. Atheism is based on a logical fallacy and thus can not be science… nor can atheists be scientists as a result.

    • Temp,
      Your baseless belief will come as a surprise to the hundreds of atheist Nobel Prize winners in scientific categories. You must be confused as to both atheism and science.

      • even a blind old squirrel can find a nut sometimes… and lets not forget that nobel prizes are not exactly science… they have been popularity contests for awhile(80+ years).

      • Temp,
        Nobody is more skeptical of the Nobel process than I, but the vast majority of scientific Nobels have been warranted.

      • and I bet they weren’t atheist… plus another issue is that alot of nobel prizes more so recently are pure brutal force money stuff… not really true scientist. Once again science is about following the scientific method… just because you invent or find stuff doesn’t mean you did science to do it, random events do happen.

      • From this thread, I’ve come to see that self-styled atheists haven’t really given the meaning of their appellation much thought. Gloateus you are protesting much and not usefully criticizing some poster’s well thought out positions. You appeal to Nobel Prize winners, you inform us that the beautiful understanding of the questions by Stephen Hawking then degenerated into mundane atheism. Your atheism, and now I suspect this is a generalization, is more like a scouts badge sewed on your sleeve. Comon’ get into the subject. I thought it cool to be an atheist when a naughty university student but this melted away with a bit of thought.

      • Gary,
        I am showing you what atheists actually think rather than what you imagine they believe. Your atheist period may not be typical of the opinions of long-term atheists.

      • What atheist “think” is well known. They are a religion based on a host of logical fallacies as the core beliefs they follow. Many evil people made tech advancement doesn’t mean they are any less evil. Science is about following the scientific method… a 12 year old can be a scientist while a harvard grad with 2 PhDs 3 nobel prizes and a cow may not be a scientist.

      • temp
        December 4, 2015 at 11:43 am
        What atheists think is apparently not so well known as you imagine, since clearly you have no clue. Just your uninformed opinions.
        Obviously, you have never read even one book on what you call atheism by a real atheist, ie an agnostic who can find no compelling reason for assuming the existence of a supernatural being.
        Agnosticism is indeed the scientific method in action, contrary to your baseless assertions. For the most rigorous, the most probable conclusion is that there are no gods or spirits, lacking any evidence to that effect. But not all agnostics are persuaded to that extent.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes: “Obviously, you have never read even one book on what you call atheism by a real atheist”
          Now THAT was funny!
          Such a book would have two covers and a sheet of blank paper between. That’s if one insisted on having a book that contained nothing.
          What else would you like to write about? If anything, then it will be a book on that other thing.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “Agnosticism is indeed the scientific method in action”
          Also funny. The agnostics were a sect that believed knowledge cannot be known. Agnosticism is deciding that things cannot be known; hardly the scientific method, which exists solely to obtain knowledge, the very thing agnostics say is not possible.
          From the Great Oracle Wikipedia: “Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.”
          But I see you take your hint from Thomas Huxley (same source).
          “In recent years, scientific literature dealing with neuroscience and psychology has used the word to mean not knowable”
          However, it appears all of these authors use the word strictly in conjunction with its relationship to God, NOT as a relationship to science, with the singular exception of Huxley.
          The Large Hadron Collider is a better example of the scientific method in action.

      • Michael,
        That “single exception”, Huxley, coined the word. That others since him have misunderstood it and misused it isn’t his fault. It means what he said it means, period. People ignorantly apply terms they don’t understand all the time.

      • Michael 2
        December 6, 2015 at 4:17 pm
        If you imagine that books by real atheists don’t exist, then somehow you are ignoring a great many books.
        I guess willful ignorance goes part and parcel with religious belief after all.
        Really don’t know how you missed all the atheist literature published by literary and scientific greats over the past few centuries.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes: “Really don’t know how you missed all the atheist literature published by literary and scientific greats over the past few centuries.”
          I have instead been reading books by non-futbol players all these years. It is amazing what afutbolists can write!
          There is no such thing as atheist literature. On the other hand, it is entirely possible than an atheist has written a book on gardening; in which case it is a gardening book, not an atheist book.
          I cannot imagine why anyone would write a book about a thing that doesn’t exist; necessitating inventing the thing that does not exist so that you can write about how it doesn’t exist.
          As to writing about what *you* believe exists but by definition is impossible (atheist literature), we are doing that right now.

  32. Science and religion are not at odds. Religion is a system of belief, science is a system of trying to tell what is likely to be true or real, that is, not what to believe but rather what to work with for the moment. Science could be applied to various religious beliefs, but traditionally has avoided that forbidden territory.. Atheism is anti-scientific because it also is a system of belief. Science asks that you forgo belief and simply follow the evidence. That is much easier said than done and scientists typically believe in all sorts of things, even though the better scientist try not to- AGW being a case in point. It is pretty much as pointless to ask a scientist who has never studied AGW whether or not they believe in it as it is to ask a scientist who has never applied the scientific method to studying religion whether or not they believe in God. In the absence of concrete evidence, (and there are lots of topics other than religion which fall into this category), for the sake of functioning in society one simply has to take their best guess and run with it. But comments like “Science without religion is lame” are childish. There is nothing so thrilling at all as the contemplation that you might be just the culmination of a series of physical, chemical and biological processes and so are solely responsible for all the choices you make in your life, including your own morality. That thought is truly exhilarating and renders the need for God superfluous.

    • BCBill:
      I agree all of your post except its final word which I know should ‘joyous’ and not “superfluous”.
      Richard

      • Yes, I could go with that. On a starry night when you feel you could fall off the earth into the cosmos, you can feel the joy of God or something in creation. Still, one must not let the fear of being alone or of having only your allotted three score and ten, lead into mollifying delusions. What we can see with our own eyes should be quite enough for anybody.

      • BCBill
        As proselytising atheists always do, you proclaim what you want to impose on others when you write

        What we can see with our own eyes should be quite enough for anybody.

        What is “enough” for you is your business. But it is sad that anyone thinks what a person can see with his own eyes is “enough” for them.
        I think love, hope and awe make life worth living.
        Richard

    • “Science and religion are not at odds. Religion is a system of belief, science is a system of trying to tell what is likely to be true or real…”
      I don’t understand how science would be possible without belief, or why science would be rational to attempt if it did not at least promise to result in belief. It makes me think you haven; given much thought to these matters . .

  33. And what about us pagans? Animals can be gods, too, after all, even odd ‘animals’ like Pegasus. 😉

  34. Open to much contention. But I will interject an observation that I do not expect to be disputed: that what we today know of science has been predominantly the creation of Jews and Christians.
    For exemplary evidence, consult https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_physicists, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_chemists, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology#Before_the_eighteenth_century from our old pal, Wikipedia. Now, it may be hard to find some who have slipped through the list-making fingers (like Galileo and Isaac Newton), but specific research usually discloses their belief in God.
    And why this? Because it is taught that, along with Scripture, creation is God’s word. And if it is His word, it is intelligible and rational, and we are obliged to heed it.
    Moreover, the core principle of science, without which it cannot even begin (and which is totally relevant to the concerns of WUWT), is this: Thou shalt not bear false witness…

    • Yes, the single minded devotion to honesty is the hardest part of being a scientist and the failure to achieve that most fundamental requirement is rapidly undermining the value of science.

  35. “You can explain anything as the action of angels in heaven or demons in hell. However, you can forecast nothing. ”
    This is my belief of a key demarcation between what is science and what is not.

  36. The image of the Atheistic Scientist is a cultural icon created by religious fundamentalists whose belief systems rely on unquestioning acceptance of holy writ, and who therefore feel threatened by the rational inquiry of empirical science.

  37. Yup. Not all scientists are atheists.
    I like hiring non-atheists scientists because IMO they have imaginations that are more open and fertile, and they seem more easy to get along with in a group. They also are less judgmental. Modern atheists seem hostile and arrogant and are obstinate and intractable which really hurts the creative mix in development situations. Weirdly, the modern atheists tend to have a need to be priests of their atheism. Now, I have hired and worked with self-proclaimed atheists, but they are emotionally confined to their task at hand good technicians for narrow scope jobs. Not someone to bring to a party after work. They really bring down the mood.
    As evidence, I give you the above, hostile, intense, cruel advocates of atheism…not good for group dynamic.

    • Paul,
      My experience has been just the opposite. I agree that militant atheists can be annoying, but less so than the highly hostile, intense and cruel, indeed vicious and vindictive, self-professed Christians outside the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial.
      Would you really not hire Bohr, Pauling or Crick? Dirac, I grant you, might not have mingled well, as a militant.

    • Yeah, wouldn’t want an employees that can spot nonsense. Better to hire likeable morons that won’t be able to upset anyone as the ship goes down for lack of application of mathematical and scientific rigor.

      • Dear Lancifer, I can’t resist a reply. According to your sarcasm, you would clearly not hire Isaac Newton, a profound Christian mystic…who, by the way, spent the latter part of his life as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint, where he fought relentlessly (and successfully) against counterfeiters. Also, as Warden and Master, he basically invented industrial time and motion studies. Yes, a really worthless lunkhead.
        All it takes for a theory to be falsified is one contrary fact. Or so we tell ourselves…

      • Michael J. Dunn
        Hi Michael,
        As I said, “As evidence, I give you the above, hostile, intense, cruel advocates of atheism…not good for group dynamic.”
        My favorite lunkheads, as you put it, is Father Georges Henri LeMaitre, Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, Pascal, Decarte, Indeed Sir Isacc Newton, Kurt Godel, Einstein, Gregor Mendel, Stokes, Faraday, Maxwell, Volta, Euler, Ken Miller, Boyle, Babbage, …. I am getting tired…. but Michael, I know you know. 🙂
        God Bless you.

      • May I also add the Islamic scholar Ibn al-Haytham who is widely credited with an empirical method that looks suspiciously like the scientific method.
        I know I am feeding a troll but Popperian falsification is fun.

  38. My only comment is on the Einstein quote, and it is in the form of a question.
    Q: Isn’t science (like our laws & justice system too) supposed to be blind to preconceptions, biases, and desired outcomes? Isn’t being blind the only way forward? Isn’t the unbiased child more likely to declare the emperor is naked, than the adults worried about social ostracism?

    • I once saw a quote attributed to Lorenz to the effect that a theoretician must know the answer he is trying to prove before he can prove it, so he can puzzle out the way to get to it. I don’t recall the exact words, and I can’t find it quickly at the moment).
      If that doesn’t show the utility of preconceptions in science, I don’t know what would.
      The key to science is that the path one takes to the Truth must be one that anyone ELSE may in Principle travel, if they so desire, and they will inevitably arrive at the same location.
      Independently verifiable…

      • Einstein clearly wrote about his earliest thought experiments (gedanken experiment) of what the universe would look like if he were riding on a beam of light, as he tried to reconcile that with Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell’s equations. He realized the key idea of special relativity was embodied as time dilation and reference frames were always relative to the observer. He reasoned from his thought experiments that C had to be an absolute speedlimit (measured same value by all observers) that ensured causality.
        From those thought experiments, he knew the answer the theoretical mathematic transformations formulae must provide. That E = mC^2 though was not preconceived, it came out of the transformation math.
        But he was a maverick, with no intellectual stake in preserving classical notions of absolute time and space. His seniors were trapped intellectually in old paradigms.

      • tadchem “a theoretician must know the answer he is trying to prove before he can prove it, so he can puzzle out the way to get to it.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction
        In the case of religion and God the problem has no solution. You cannot prove the existence or nonexistence of God without a definition, but the moment you have created a definition you have also created a straw-god that may or may not have any resemblance to the real thing.
        Induction never arrives at truth with perfect certainty. However, revelation gets there instantly — but only for the person so instructed. From that moment on, logic is deductive and emanates from sure knowledge of perhaps one fact only, but becomes certification of many claims.

  39. I’ve not read all the submitted comments carefully, but it seems to me that an answer to the fundamental questions of How? and Why? concerning the “mystery of life” isn’t among them. Here are some of my own thoughts…
    The how and why of existence are factual unknowns.
    Science has no ability to determine the how and why of existence since its competence is limited to dealing with the universe of space, time, energy, matter and living things in which we find ourselves.
    The dilemma we face is there is no possible answer to the questions of how and why available to us unless we attribute creation to a supreme being, but, of course, that presents still another how and why.
    Attributing creation to a supreme being, however, does allow us to speculate that our inability to discover the answer to how and why is a deliberate and purposeful part of our creation, and that we are intentionally challenged to search for the how and why of existence, realizing than any hypothesis we come up with is neither provable nor falsifiable.
    From this, one can infer that the “mystery of life” is by design and for us to ponder and come to our own conclusions using reason and perception.
    The continuous motion and commotion occurring within the universe is propelled by 1) the physical laws of nature, 2) the struggle for survival, plus for humans, 3) free will. Although it would seem unimaginable that everything occurring around us is a reflection of god’s full-time, hands-on control of events, it would also seem unimaginable that god doesn’t intervene at times to influence the course of events, including responding to prayer.
    Leaving the question of divinity aside, the influence of Jesus’ brief ministry and consequent establishment of Christianity has been profound and immeasurably beneficial. The wide appeal and rapid expansion of Christianity can be attributed to three defining characteristics— 1) the comfort of spirituality, 2) the promise of forgiveness, and 3) the personal and collective well-being afforded by the practice of selfless compassion, nicely summarized in a biblical quote: “faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”

    • From a marketing perspective, to me atheism looks like an inferior product. It claims we came into existence by accident, for no purpose. During the brief time we’re here, bad things often happen to good people and good things sometimes happen to really bad ones. But we don’t have any control over any of that, because the laws of nature preclude free will. Then we inevitably die into oblivion. Wow!
      In contrast, even if there is no God or afterlife, I’m still a satisfied follower of Jesus. By any objective standards, things have gone a lot better for me than anyone would have expected from my trajectory when I was an atheist. And I have found many good reasons to believe in God and heaven, which by the way no one can prove don’t exist. So I’ll continue to live in hope of life after death and eventual justice to compensate for its absence now.
      Again from a marketing perspective, you’d like to have appealing people in your advertising and publicity. But the examples many people see of atheists are on the Internet, and much of the time many of them come across as very angry. This in contrast to Jesus, whom even some non-believers see as attractive. (Yeah, we undoubtedly have our share of jerks too, as Gandhi may have said in an oft-quoted favorable comment about Christ, but very few really hostile ones.)

  40. I believe ‘human spirituality’ played a huge roll in the development of our minds. Before the written word was invented, history and knowledge was passed on through fantastical song and dance. However after the written word was invented, did we see the rise of religion which I believe is a perversion of human spirituality.

    • Fyi, I’d like to think of myself as an agnostic theist since I neither believe nor disbelieve in beings greater than myself and I think human spirituality is fundamental to who we are as a species.

  41. Functionally you can divide people in two groups:
    Religious people, for whom religion is perceived as an important part of their lives.
    Non-religious people, for whom religion is either not an important part or plays no role in their lives.
    I would say that 97% of scientists belong to the second group.

    • It’s not that black and white.
      You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. Human spirituality is a product of the growing intelligence of our early ancestors. It was initially a method of passing on knowledge through fantastical story telling so that we could better document anything and everything vital too our survival. Look no further than Native Americans from both the north and the south.
      All in all, religion is a perversion of human spirituality as it attempts, most effectively, to control the masses and consolidate power via doctrine.

      • Oh and you can be a scientist and be spiritual at the same time. I mean, all that spirituality really means is that you believe you’re apart of something larger than yourself. For me, it’s something physical – The Earth. I believe all life is connected and that you never truly die (there is no scientific evidence that there is a difference between life and death), but become a million other things after you decompose. After all, we’re only 15% human and 85% bacteria all of which is composed of star dust billions of years old …
        That is human spirituality, the recognition that you are connected to everything on this little blue dot.

    • Correct. He made the comment in opposition to the Heisenberg UP.
      “God” is figurative, expressing his now outdated view of how the universe works.

  42. Well, maybe not all scientists are atheists (the headline) also begets the opposite too … not all atheists are scientists?
    I should think that there are relationships between the two: the principles of scientific discovery, mathematical/theoretic systemic classification, testable theory assessment, vigorous debate and rejection of unprovable “magic spirits” would at least statistically guide a larger-fraction-than-nominal number of people who are scientists to also be atheists.
    But the opposite is true? That people who for whatever reasons reject theism might be more inclined to take up life work as scientists? Yes, this might be the case: without theism or other pancreatism “meaning of life” belief system, I can imagine that scientific pursuit is a pretty good proxy religion.
    So both statements must then be true. Neither is an exclusive subset of the other. Just a likely relation.
    GoatGuy

  43. Science is, by design, and necessity, a frame-based philosophy. The perception of a finite consciousness (e.g. human) has accuracy that is inversely proportional to the product of time and space offsets from an established reference. The scientific logical domain intersects with the faith logical domain. Individuals who acknowledge their faith, and whose articles of faith recognize the soft separation of logical domains, will experience no conflict between logical domains including science and faith.
    Whether it’s theism or atheism, the problem is, historically, individuals who suffer from a god-complex (e.g. acute narcissism, material greed). Individuals who may or may not acknowledge their faith and intrinsic limitations. Typically the men and women who are morally insane and choose to denigrate individual dignity and/or debase human life.

  44. How about a link to the release and study instead of just links to the college and department? It really burns my butt when bloggers don’t bother to link their sources.

  45. To find some answers to all the questions relating to religion vs. science, I would start with the proposition that the basic belief of anyone practicing the scientific method is: “I believe practicing the scientific method is a good and useful thing to do”.
    If this proposition is right, science starts from a basic belief, and there is your connection to religion.

    • Not necessarily, since before the written word was invented ‘human spirituality’ was a means for survival for our early nomadic tribes 10s of thousands of years go. It wasn’t until the written word was invented that religion was born as it attempts to control the masses via doctrine. In other words, human spirituality started out as a survival mechanism and a means for passing on knowledge but then later became a tool from which modern civilization was forged from.

  46. A brief assessment by John Lennox for those of you with open minds. If you have already a closed minded opinion, skip this…

    • Appreciate that video, Paul, especially the last 2 minutes, science emerged from the cradle of Christianity, the conflict is non existent and constantly misunderstood.
      Good thread, timely topic, thanks Anthony.

      • You are welcome. I love the way he makes the case that the universe is rationally intelligible and was thought to have come from a rational mind (God’s) in the view of Christians. So if the universe was rational and intelligible, a rational and intelligible means could be devised to write the book of nature, and science was thus created by the Christian mind, in an attempt to understand God’s rational world.
        Science came from Christianity so to help us know God’s work. Science itself is a useful derived tool, of no use unto itself … unless you are a bore.

  47. I have learned from this thread that there are very likely 7.3 billion different veiws on god(s). Give or take.

    • I’m an agnostic theist, so I actively reject religion but am unable to doubt nor confirm the existence of deities but I still believe that all life is connected. (on our planet) Not imaginatively, but physically and that we all play a roll in each others survival.
      However, I reject the AGW hypothesis since it’s well documented that rising CO2 levels can in fact be linked with our rising population. Not definitively, but in part. And to forcibly reduce it would mean death at a mass scale.

  48. Preface To My Comment – It is getting near to some major religious holidays, so I guess it is once again to be expected to have a dialog involving the juxtaposition of science and religion.
    Scientists with religious faith should not be a surprise. Galileo was a religious man, and not so only out of obedience to the adherence to dogma that the Roman Catholic Church forcefully required of people within its domain. I think that, in our modern times, within all the professional fields there is only a very small minority of atheists. {NOTE: the word ‘atheist’ should be critically viewed because it is a term that is formed within theology’s context and has anti-secular biases built into it; other terms than atheist offer more clarity and unambiguity.}
    The fundamental issue, I think, is that faith is a negation of reason. Truth or the nature of reality accepted on faith in supernatural phenomena by its inherent nature requires no justification or any objective evidence.
    That some humans have mixed faith in ideology with some of science’s applied reasoning is something that should be fully discussed in a very critical manner.
    John

  49. On the matter of the juxtaposition of religion and science, Richard Feynman’s view of religion was refreshing. Here are three quotes,

    God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven’t figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don’t believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time — life and death — stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don’t think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out. – Richard Feynman

    &

    Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true. – Richard Feynman

    &

    When I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real, I wasn’t upset; rather, I was relieved that there was a much simpler phenomenon to explain how so many children all over the world got presents on the same night! The story had been getting pretty complicated — it was getting out of hand. – Richard Feynman

    John

    • John,
      In other words, religions are created by man to assuage his innate fear of the unknown. Given the above is true all religions work for their believers. If they didn’t they would be modified until they did. I would also propose that if/when a religion no long satisfies its adherents radical fundamentalism ensues.

      • No John,
        Religion is a perversion of human spirituality since initially it was a means of passing on knowledge before the written word was invented. It wasn’t until the written word was invented that religion came into being via doctrine.

    • {bold emphasis mine – John Whitman}
      Joe Crawford on December 5, 2015 at 8:52 am
      John,
      In other words, religions are created by man to assuage his innate fear of the unknown. Given the above is true all religions work for their believers. If they didn’t they would be modified until they did. I would also propose that if/when a religion no long satisfies its adherents radical fundamentalism ensues.

      Joe Crawford,
      I think that the subject matter (i.e. God(s)) and the specific spiritual content of religions are created by man based intentionally on posited faith. Why do some humans do that? That is an interesting subject that is within the study of mythology, history and anthropology.
      John

  50. The researchers did find that scientists are generally less religious than a given general population.

    It does not matter. It is much more important, that without religion we would not have science, as we understand the concept today, at all. And not just any religion, only Christianity could do the trick. I explain why.
    The dominant paradigm of science is
    1. Set up a small set of axioms
    2. Understand the resulting mathematical structure
    3. Calculate the consequences under specific circumstances
    4. Carry out an experimental procedure realizing those circumstances and compare the results to theoretical predictions
    5. If mismatch is found, the theory is falsified, otherwise it is not (yet)
    The Greeks had no issue with step 1-2, in fact they have invented &. developed the necessary methods, basically the very concept of mathematical proof along with a diverse set of tools.
    However, the rest was absolutely alien to them. The idea, that deeds can have logical consequences, stood unsubstantiated, the two realms being disconnected in their minds with a huge gap in between. Diogenes the Cynic was simply ridiculous when he stood up and walked around silently upon hearing Zeno’s paradox about the impossibility of motion.
    It was medieval Christianity, that did the groundwork to connect logic to reality, by referring to John 1:14 (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth). Now, the word translated as “Word” is Logos (λόγος) in the original Greek text, closely related to logic.
    From this specific tradition comes the idea that “Nature is a book wherein we should study the wondrous works of the Creator” and that results of experiments should be treated as revelations, given by the same Logos manifested in logic itself.
    Galileo only develops the same religious tradition further when connects this idea to Greek foundations: “Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book which ever is before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. The book is written in mathematical language”.
    At this point the concept of a book written in a specific language was hardly more than the expression of faith, which meant they believed the universe was comprehensible, after all. They did believe it with very little proof, on a few meager examples.
    But this faith was necessary to carry on to a point, when the slowly accumulating evidence started to become sufficient on its own to encourage further investigation into this unlikely direction.
    Even now we do not understand why the universe is understandable, and why is it understandable in a very specific way. However, it is.
    See The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences by Eugene Wigner.
    Therefore religion, specifically Christian faith played an indispensable role at the birth of modern science.
    And now we have quantum field theory, which predicts the magnetic moment of electrons to 12 decimal places or general relativity which does the same for orbital decay of nearby neutron stars to 16 decimal places, an unbelievable level of accuracy.
    Anyone starting a scientific career still needs a healthy dose of faith, otherwise it would be pointless to follow this vocation. It need not be religious faith, much less Christian faith, but faith nevertheless, clear and strong.
    The perceived antagonism of religion and science is just that, a mirage due to specific historical events, like the anti-Copernican stance of both Catholic and Protestant churches of 17th century or revolutionary urges of the 19th. But it has nothing to do with wider context and deep undercurrents.

    • When I truly doubt god I believe that an orderly universe is a figment of human imagination. Three cheers for the multiverse in which all things happen.

    • Berényi Péter writes “It was medieval Christianity, that did the groundwork to connect logic to reality, by referring to John 1:14”
      I think you’re confusing evolution of thought with something that is necessarily religious based.

      • Yes and no.
        The same way Max Weber did it while describing the origin of capitalism.
        See The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber, 1905.
        By the way, he also helped to formulate the ultra liberal German Constitution after WWI, mostly along the lines of his own ideas about a perfect system of government. Later on it enabled an Austrian guy with a funny mustache tho grab absolute power in a more or less constitutional way, bringing Europe to the brink of utter annihilation eventually. So he was not a person without significant influence on history. He died shortly thereafter in the post war Spanish flu epidemic.
        Today capitalism is able to stand on its own. However, it’s emergence &. development was the result of several unlikely traits, the most important of which was an environment with an unreasonably strong work ethics. That kick could only come from an external source. The net result was to increase economic productivity tenfold, which was enough to stabilize the system and put less demand on ethics later on, so it was able to penetrate all societies worldwide, irrespective of their religious background. Not with uniform success though.
        But it could have done little without science, another significant achievement with its roots deep in religion. That was the ingredient which gave a further ten thousandfold boost to economic production in the last couple of hundred years, with the capacity to increase it once more by that magnitude in the foreseeable future. That’s the true block buster around the corner, no wonder people are inclined to accept its rather crazy metaphysical foundations without questions. We do have nukes due to science after all and with it the power to meticulously obliterate everything, don’t we?
        However, those inconvenient questions don’t go away easily, only get dormant for a while.
        Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1

        Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

        That’s exactly the mindset one needs to venture into scientific discovery. Hope for the subject matter would turn out to be comprehensible with a solution not seen yet, but existent, albeit hidden.
        That’s the kind of faith most climate scientists lost along the way, so they are forced to work outside the scientific paradigm, by investing hope into genuinely incomprehensible computational models, with provably no solution to scientific questions, but wielding immense political power.
        See General Circulation Models of Climate

        The climate system is too complex for the human brain to grasp with simple insight.

        This, in spite of the fact there are tantalizing clues, such as the amazing inter-hemispheric symmetry of absorbed short wave radiation on annual scale, which may point to the right direction, but unpredicted by computational models and left unscrutinized by climate scientists. Just because they are preoccupied with political consequences instead of pursuing real scientific progress, regardless its echoes in a wider context.

      • Berényi Péter writes “But it could have done little without science, another significant achievement with its roots deep in religion.”
        Clearly we are a product of what has come before us but again, whilst religious influence has played a significant role in shaping the past and hence our present, IMO its not the religion per se that has caused the evolution in thought that we’ve experienced.
        For example although faith may be described in Hebrews 11.1, it is a fundamental property of the human condition that we seek answers to things. Its not a huge leap to go from faith based answers to answers that can be demonstrated to be true.
        Science was IMO a natural progression of humanity brought about by our ability to write and measure and not because a scripture told us we should use logic to find truth.
        I fully agree that climate science has lost its way through the use of models to find answers to questions about the future that cant be answered otherwise. Beyond a certain level of complexity, the assumptions and simplifications render them little better than casting bones or reading tea leaves except they spit out quantitative results that require little further interpretation so are believed to be useful.

      • TimTheToolMan December 5, 2015 at 8:56 pm
        Science was IMO a natural progression of humanity brought about by our ability to write and measure and not because a scripture told us we should use logic to find truth.

        It was anything but a natural progression, what is more, it still has a significant supernatural ingredient, even if it is fashionable to sweep it under the carpet.
        Something like science was attempted multiple times and places throughout human history, but both pillars of actual science were developed only once, with vast ramifications later on.
        It’s instructive to study the fate of first (partial) Chinese translation of Euclid’s Elements, for example. It was books I-VI of Elements, titled Jihe yuanben in Chinese, published in 1607. The work was done as a joint venture of Matteo Ricci, founder of the Jesuit mission to China and Xu Guangqi, an eminent Chinese scholar, recently converted to Christianity.
        The reception of the book was mixed among Chinese mathematicians. They saw some value in it, but its core message, that of rigorous mathematical proof, was dismissed completely, as unpractical. No wonder the rest of Elements (books VII-XV) was only translated two and a half century later, this time by Alexander Wylie, a Scotsman sent to China by the London Missionary Society after the first Opium War and Li Shanlan, a Chinese scholar. It was published in 1857.
        The funny thing is the original aim of father Matteo Ricci was to demonstrate how practical Western science was. This is why he has chosen to translate this particular work as the first book ever to be translated to Chinese from Western oeuvre, even before the Bible itself. In this respect he failed miserably, the message got lost in clash of cultures.
        In the 17th century China was a fairly advanced society, way ahead of Europe in every measurable respects, with higher population and standard of living, advanced agricultural and industrial production, even Chinese mathematics, with its procedural emphasis was ahead in some respects.
        However, in the long run it led to nowhere. The method of mathematical proof is indeed unpractical in a sense, no wonder few proofs are presented to students of Engineering, but they are assured the proofs are there, just in case. And at an advanced level the method becomes immensely practical. János Bolyai, while working on non-Euclidean geometry, came up with a proof, independent of the axiom of parallels, that Euclidean geometry was valid for paracycles on a parasphere. If the axiom of parallels is assumed to be true, it is not surprising at all, because in this case the parasphere is a plane, with paracycles as straight lines in it. However, if the negation of this axiom is assumed, the parasphere becomes a curved surface, very different from a plane. Using this key, with a single sweeping gesture he was able to get tens of thousands of valid propositions of Hyperbolic geometry by simply translating propositions previously proven in a Euclidean context. That’s how powerful the axiomatic method is.
        And, of course, one can’t construct advanced warships without deep knowledge of geometry, so the discipline is practical after all.
        The Chinese had issues with the very first steps of the scientific method, because the schism between the world of ideas and the world of practice, a necessary but unreasonable precondition to science, did not exist in their cultural context.
        But it is also possible to err on the other side of the equation. It is known for almost a century, that mathematical frameworks behind general relativity and quantum field theory are inconsistent with each other. In the last several decades string theory was developed to bridge this gap. It was necessary to introduce a number of unobservable extra dimensions to do that, but to this day not only experimental verification is lacking, but not even a single experimentum crucis was proposed. Until such time it happens, string theory does not belong to physics. Even in best case it is only a rather interesting branch of math, and it is premature to build extensive metaphysical speculations on it, like the existence of a Multiverse and pseudo-darwinian operation of the Anthropic Principle on such a swarm, assumed to be genuinely unobservable.
        This, in stark contrast with the case of General Relativity, which was indeed based on a few basic principles and derived in an abstract manner, but immediately came with experimental verification like the perihelion progression of Mercury and experimentally accessible predictions like deflection of starlight by the Sun.
        And then there are those, like climate scientists, who lost faith altogether and assume some chapters of the great Book of Nature only contain gibberish anyway, so it is pointless to attempt to decipher it. They try to implement a brute force effort instead, which is, of course, doomed to failure from the start.
        There are too many cases in the history of science, when mathematical tools, developed independently, proved to be indispensable for description of actual processes, revealing mathematical beauty and simplicity behind the intricate curtain of phenomena. We simply do not understand how is it possible, it seems to be a true mystery, an enigma, conundrum or teaser.
        That, in a world where not only things appear to be messy, but math also has its own Paradoxes of Randomness.

        Sometimes mathematical truth is completely random and has no structure or pattern that we will ever be able to understand.

      • Berényi Péter writes “The Chinese had issues with the very first steps of the scientific method, because the schism between the world of ideas and the world of practice, a necessary but unreasonable precondition to science, did not exist in their cultural context.”
        But this is evolution of thought. Not every path leads to a successful outcome and it took a number of ideas to come together to get us to where we are today. For example, today’s science relies on the Hindu-Arabic number system and that wasn’t yet invented until about 500AD.
        You write “There are too many cases in the history of science, when mathematical tools, developed independently, proved to be indispensable for description of actual processes, revealing mathematical beauty and simplicity behind the intricate curtain of phenomena.”
        Not just the tools but the concepts. Rate of change is a concept but the tool is calculus. Successful use of the concept relies on the tool and the wrong tool can make the concepts difficult to use in a practical sense.
        Perhaps its not the best example, but Newton’s understanding of gravity is insufficient to create a modern GPS even though it appears to do a reasonable job of describing a satellite’s motion. It took the concept of relativity to be able to make a GPS possible.
        The beauty of mathematics really has nothing fundamentally to do with religion, though, and instead is a fundamental property of the world around us. To suggest anything else requires faith.
        So IMO it was the culture in which science developed and the advances to that point that enabled its progression and not the religious influence. In fact I think its fair to say the culture produced the religious influence as well. They went hand in hand but there is nothing about religion that directly influenced the progression of science. Perhaps one could argue that people weren’t happy with the religious doctrine of say “earth at the centre of the universe” and so had a focus on looking for the real truth but its a stretch to say that somehow religion was responsible for the final understanding. If anything, religion stood in the way.

      • TimTheToolMan,
        “Perhaps one could argue that people weren’t happy with the religious doctrine of say “earth at the centre of the universe” and so had a focus on looking for the real truth . . ”
        Truth can be an illusive thing sometimes, and in this case here, there is peculiar twist to the scientific search for it. Three satellite missions (because the first and second just had ti be wrong, many felt) designed to map the large scale distribution of mass in the observable universe, have revealed what is literally referred to as “the axis of evil” by many cosmologists/astrophysicist, because there is a symmetrical distribution to the mass, and we are at the center of it . .

      • John writes “there is a symmetrical distribution to the mass, and we are at the center of it . .”
        Because that’s what we can see. If, however if we were a few light years away, we’d see the same thing so we cant both be living on planets at the centre of the universe, surely? The real truth is that *I* am at the centre of the universe. YMMV. 😉

    • BP,
      It is true that modern science began in Christian Europe in 1543, with the publication of works by Copernicus and Vesalius, based upon groundwork laid earlier in the Renaissance. But it owed to rediscovery in western Europe of original works of ancient Greek pagan natural philosophers, rather than in Latin or Arabic translation or summary, thanks to Greek scholars fleeing Constantinople after its capture by the Turks in 1453. The printing press with movable type, c. 1440, also helped nurture the development of science.

      • It started a bit earlier than that, in Medieval times. As for Copernicus, contemporary scientists did have a perfectly legitimate issue with his work. As he assumed circular orbits around the Sun, his calculations regarding the celestial positions of planets were way off the mark, lent much less accurate predictions than the Ptolemaic system unless he added epicycles &. eccentrics again. Therefore his ideas were as good as falsified by observation, and this situation was not remedied until much later, when Kepler discovered elliptical orbits along with the rest of his laws.

      • BP,
        Nope. The Ptolemaic system was also based circular orbits. The Copernican still required epicycles but otherwise simplified calculations, which were at least as good as those of the geocentrists.
        To what Medieval European contributions to science do you refer? Nicholas of Cusa? Those of his generation can IMO better be considered Renaissance figures than Medieval, although many historians consider the Middle Ages to have lasted almost clear through the 15th century.
        Specifically Roman Catholic contributions to modern science before 1500, apart from pagan Greek revival, may well exist, but few if any spring to mind. Please state what you think they were. Thanks.

    • All of this is a result of the written word. A fraction of our lifespan…long ago, before the written word was invented, we focused our spirituality on the movements of our species…it wasn’t until indoctrination…that we lost control.

      • Dog wrote, perhaps untruthfully: “A fraction of our lifespan…long ago, before the written word was invented, we focused our spirituality”
        You seem to have a rather long lifespan. It certainly wasn’t me. Written words came about in Sumeria around 3000 BC more or less, and that’s a fraction of your lifespan. Impressive lifespan, less impressive writing.

  51. If I may interject my thoughts on the subject, I’ve never thought “religion” is difficult to define. Religion is simply a set of rules that one lives by consistently. This is mostly associated with gods because it is through the words of different gods that people choose the rules that they will live by. The god gives the rules authority, and the church gives the religious adherents unity and power. The atheist may have his/her own rules that they follow “religiously”, but atheism alone is not a religion because it comes with no common set of rules to live by. Belief all by itself does not constitute religion, nor is a god required (Buddhism) as long as there is a set of rules, rational or otherwise. This is why the cult of CAGW qualifies as a religion, because it has a set of rules that one must adhere to, while “scientists” substitute for god to give the religion authority, and the media substitutes for the church to provide unity and power.
    This is also why the more liberal a person is, the less likely they are to be religious, because to be liberal, you need to be able to change the rules as you go, and living by a standard set of rules doesn’t work very well for them.

    • I agree with much of what you say there, Hoyt, but this distinction;
      “The atheist may have his/her own rules that they follow “religiously”, but atheism alone is not a religion because it comes with no common set of rules to live by..”
      … seems rather arbitrary to me, when compared to how you speak of another group;
      “This is why the cult of CAGW qualifies as a religion, because it has a set of rules that one must adhere to, while “scientists” substitute for god to give the religion authority, and the media substitutes for the church to provide unity and power.”
      I would say that if an atheist (if not already in the group you just declared a religion ; ) treats “scientists” in the same manner, as authorities on God, or the reasonableness of believing God exists and so on, then it’s religion too, indeed is the same basic religion in a sense . .
      Science worship (A branch of human authority worship) seems to me to be rampant among non-theists now, and in society as a whole, and the media substitutes for the church to provide unity and power, as you put it. (And deniers of science have been alleged to lurk around here ; )

    • mountainape5: I have a psychology book, not written by a religious group, on the human mind that looks at how we need religion; especially in difficult situations. When you look at the total of the human race and realize that all cultures seems to have invented a religion or a god, you begin to realize that most people want to believe in something bigger than themselves.

      • Retired Engineer John:
        That would be true for the people living 2000 years ago, they didn’t know any better. Believing in a religion with the knowledge we have now is a bit crazy. Hence I called it mental disorder.

        • mountainape5 writes “Believing in a religion with the knowledge we have now is a bit crazy.”
          Buddhism exists. I believe it exists. I am not crazy but you are dabbling at the edges of sanity.
          I believe religion exists. So do you. Hence this conversation.
          “Hence I called it mental disorder.”
          You did that because it empowers you to be rude to other people. It is likely your only excellence. It also reveals you lack a degree in psychology.
          There is no “we” in the “knowledge we have”. I have some knowledge, you seem to have a bit less; but that’s okay, plenty of room to add more!

  52. ========
    “The insensible and inactive disposition, which should be supposed alike destitute of both, would be rejected, by the common consent of mankind, as utterly incapable of procuring any happiness to the individual, or any public benefit to the world. But it was not in this world that the primitive Christians were desirous of making themselves either agreeable or useful.
    -Gibbon, Decline & Fall, (re: doctrine of the immortality of the soul among the philosophers)
    ========
    Early Christianity dealt a serious blow to civilization. It was not compatible with the search for truth.
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/winter.html
    That’s why we had a “dark age.”
    Christianity got started in Europe with Charlemagne beheading of 4500 Saxons at the Massacre of Verden.
    ==========
    “If any one of the race of the Saxons hereafter concealed among them shall have wished to hide himself unbaptized, and shall have scorned to come to baptism and shall have wished to remain a pagan, let him be punished by death.”
    –Charlemagne, Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae
    ==========

    • Actually, Christianity was already far advanced in Europe when Charlemagne forcibly converted the Saxons. Others in northern and eastern Europe converted peacefully, when their rulers did, with the possible exceptions of the indigenous Prussians and Lithuanians, the last converts.

  53. Wait, you mean there are bright, attentive people who don’t believe everything came from nothing for no reason whatsoever?

  54. Atheists are intellectually dishonest. It is a faith-based religion. Something cannot come from nothing…period.
    Even nothing being split into positive and negative needs an energy input of some sort.
    This leaves something beyond time and space and our comprehension giving birth to time and space. God is a valid label for such an entity, particularly if existence itself is a form of consciousness and our conscious experience a manifestation or reflection of that.
    In fact applying Occam’s razor leaves God the preferable explanation as the universe being sentient or existence itself being sentient has explanations for our conscious experience and the finely balanced nature of particles and forces necessary for life built into it already without the need for infinite dimensions and possibilities which would inherently include a God anyway.
    The Flying Spaghetti monster is debunked due to the fact that God creating time and space means he exists beyond time and space and thus one cannot ascribe time/space characteristics to him such as ‘Flying’ or ‘spaghetti’
    The ‘Who created God then? Argument is debunked for the same reason, everything in time and space needs a beginning, as God created time and space he exists beyond it and needs no beginning.
    Krauss’s ‘something from nothing’ theory is erroneously-based as he’s referencing quantum space fluctuations involving virtual photons that pop in and out of our dimension. This occurs in time/space and is not from ‘nothing’. Other time space dimensions are still time/space dimensions and merely because we’re not currently able to detect or measure them does not mean they’re ‘nothing’. The hidden dimension postulated that Gravity seeps to and from and thus presents itself as weak compared to the other forces is still a dimension and not ‘nothing’.
    Let’s get to the REAL reason for all the attack on religion shall we?….
    Religion is a barrier to the new world order as it promotes individual rights, morality and family, all antithetical to the globalist Darwinian divide and conquer collectivist ethos. The likely globalist plan for humanity is a Hunger games type Orwellian communist world government and they want complete devotion to the state hence they must remove any institution that promotes devotion to a God or something other than the state. The banker-owned governments of the world can control an environmental religion as they are already it’s stewards through legislation, emissions trading, ‘bioreserves’ etc. This is why the Christians were thrown to the lions, the Romans didn’t want a religion challenging their sway.
    This is why there has been a massive ‘New Atheist’ movement in the media. It has been promoted as hip and intellectual, part of the Liberal suite of memes comprising the complete guide to being a Statist sycophant.

    • The word ‘atheist’ is what the Christians use when they can not handle the ridicule they are in for when they shriek ‘HERETIC!’.
      The labeling of heretics is of great tribal significance to whom?
      And the purpose of identifying somebody not of your tribe as OTHER is?
      That’s right. Your hidden meaning is hanging out. It’s very small.

      • gnomish “The word ‘atheist’ is what the Christians use when they can not handle the ridicule they are in for when they shriek ‘HERETIC!’.”
        I am a libertarian. I am immune to ridicule; on the rare instance I realize it is taking place that is. It is the liberal left that is moved to action by fear of ridicule. Saul Alinsky Rule 5 I think.
        I use atheist to signify either of two broad categories: non-theists (don’t know, don’t care); and anti-theists such as “mountainape”.
        Ridicule me if you can.

      • Michael 2-
        “Ridicule me if you can.” ??
        While your desire to indulge yourself in a bit of masochism is very Christian, as a proper sadist, my response must be to just say ‘no’ (with a smirk and arched brow, naturally).
        You’re a smart guy, Hercules. Keep trying. There’s a cross out there with your name on it, somewhere.

        • gnomish “You’re a smart guy, Hercules.”
          Yes.
          “There’s a cross out there with your name on it, somewhere.”
          With a name like mine I suspect a great many exist as you describe.
          Your comment on “definitions” was interesting and very well written.

      • gnomish,
        “The word ‘atheist’ is what the Christians use when they can not handle the ridicule they are in for when they shriek ‘HERETIC!’.”
        This is not something I wish to discuss here, but having been in that camp for a while now, I can honestly say that atheists are seen as closer to variable, and there are far more menacing critters which stalk this body of Christ. There’s another side to this extra-materialistic realm, ya know . .

    • Yes! Elvis will save us – if we believe!
      Only evil worshipers of the Anti-Elvis deny the divinity of Elvis!
      Elvis can’t be effed – he’s ineffable!
      Elvis can’t be scruted!
      We’re all striving for perfect Elvisness!
      Elvis can’t be muted – he’s immutable!
      Elvis Eats Boats!
      It’s so sad if anyone has not been Chosen to ExPeRiEnCe the ReVeLaTiOn because they can’t know Elvis!

      • mountainape5 “Have you got any proof that your god exists and my god Hercules doesn’t?”
        No. It is entirely possible that Hercules exists.

    • sabretruthtiger writes “Something cannot come from nothing…period.”
      Applies to god’s existence too. It’s a failed argument to assert someone must have started it all.

    • sabretruthtiger,
      I suggest you place a word like ‘many’ in front of such a declaration as you’re being persecuted ; ) for making, if you don’t actually mean all atheists.
      Good comment overall though, I say.

    • Reply to Alex ==> Religion is based on knowledge of spiritual things. Science is based on knowledge of physical things. Mature understanding of the universe requires both kinds of knowledge.
      That’s what the survey of scientists was about….that’s why so few are avowed atheists.

      • alax,
        “Religion is faith that cannot be verified.”
        Only if one assumes God does not exist . . If such a Being exists It can, by definition, confirm anything It wishes to.

    • Kip Hansen on December 5, 2015 at 9:56 am
      Reply to Alex ==> Religion is based on knowledge of spiritual things. Science is based on knowledge of physical things. Mature understanding of the universe requires both kinds of knowledge.
      That’s what the survey of scientists was about….that’s why so few are avowed atheists.

      Kip Hansen,
      Religion is based on faith in (god(s)). Science is based on reason verified by corroborated observation of what exists (reality /nature). A human may have some mixture of both and if one is not excluded from the other on any given specific topic/ subject then it presents an inherently irrational situation.
      Your use of the terms ‘spirits / spiritual’ implies that you have a dual metaphysics à la Plato & Kant.
      John

      • Reply to John ==>
        Whoever defined religion as “Religion is based on faith in (god(s)).”? Using a strawman caricature of religion is not a good basis for a serious discussion on a site based on logic and critical thinking.
        I minored (then majored) in religion at university, UCSB, along with studying the long hard road aimed at medical school (alas, never got there) — so took all those hard math and science courses. I assure you, in the Department of Religious Studies, such a definition would be laughed out of the room as woefully incomplete and sophomoric.
        I acknowledge that people who have never experienced anything of a spiritual nature, who have never had personal experiences that inform them of its reality, are simply ignorant — in the sense that they have no knowledge of. These people often claim that such things do not exist — and for them, it is true, as they have never seen nor experienced any such thing. So be it for them.
        But for such persons to say: “Because I have never experienced anything spiritual, spiritual things do not and can not exist.” is not a rational statement.
        For a scientist to say “I have never experienced anything spiritual, and you can not make me experience it by experiment, and since I am not willing to accept your personal experiences, or the personal experiences of any of my many religious colleagues, as any kind of proof, then I am justified in saying that no such thing exists nor can it exist.” is equally not a rational statement.
        This study shows that there are an awful lot of religious scientists. How can that be? How is it that they can be scientists and spiritual at the same time? Aren’t you curious?
        The bishop of my church congregation is a PhD’d physicist — working on classified laser technologies. Many of the men and women in our congregation work at the Kennedy Space Center in the space program — all hard-core scientists.
        Don’t you wonder what it is that they know that you don’t?

        • Kip Hansen writes: “How is it that they can be scientists and spiritual at the same time? Aren’t you curious?”
          They are curious. That is why we are having this conversation. Some fear the possibility. Pascal’s Wager seems relevant.
          Some flavors of religion are considerably more amenable to science while purifying religion itself. Render unto Caesar, in other words:
          “The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_views_on_evolution
          “Leave Geology, Biology, Archaeology, and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research” (same source)

      • {bold emphasis mine – John Whitman}
        Kip Hansen on December 7, 2015 at 8:32 am
        Reply to John [John Whitman December 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm] ==>
        “. . .
        I acknowledge that people who have never experienced anything of a spiritual nature, who have never had personal experiences that inform them of its reality, are simply ignorant — in the sense that they have no knowledge of. These people often claim that such things do not exist — and for them, it is true, as they have never seen nor experienced any such thing. So be it for them.
        But for such persons to say: “Because I have never experienced anything spiritual, spiritual things do not and can not exist.” is not a rational statement.
        For a scientist to say “I have never experienced anything spiritual, and you can not make me experience it by experiment, and since I am not willing to accept your personal experiences, or the personal experiences of any of my many religious colleagues, as any kind of proof, then I am justified in saying that no such thing exists nor can it exist.” is equally not a rational statement.
        This study shows that there are an awful lot of religious scientists. How can that be? How is it that they can be scientists and spiritual at the same time? Aren’t you curious? . . .”

        Kip Hansen,
        Your premise above is that something you call ‘spirit’ or ‘spiritual’ is essentially belonging only to the religious. I do not think you have a correct premise when one considers a broader perspective than just the theist (religion) centric view.
        There is something, not predicated on being religious, called the human spirit whose presence makes us, in a sense, spiritual beings. It is not predicated on being religious, its occurrence is irrelevant to being religious. Humans quo humans all have a potential for experiences of certain kind that are associated with the human spirit. It is an transient experience where there are the following characteristics happening simultaneously: (1) occurrence of an abnormally high crystal-clear lucidity of perception of surroundings; (2) an abnormally intense emotional feeling that can be a sort glowing within with an uplifting sense; (3) an occurrence of subconsciously integrated experiences condensed into some previously un-thought of manifestly evident ideas or connections or thought organizations; (4) so strong are the simultaneous occurrence all of those three that they are burnt into our memory or consciousness for life.
        Humans have the experience described above, so humans have human spirit with human spirit caused human spirituality. It belongs to a much larger group of humans (humans as humans) than religious people.
        As to your discussion about there being a significant number (perhaps the vast majority) of very professional people pursuing science in a scientifically professional way who also have some part of their world view and actions based on profound religious faith, well . . . . of course. A vital focus is not on the existence of an epistemological mixed situation in a person. A vital focus is the essential fundamental concepts and premises at the base of the two epistemological positions that yields them being epistemological irrelevant to each other. {Note: when I used the terms ‘epistemology/ epistemological’ above I imply also the necessary associated fundamental metaphysic concepts}
        John

  55. “But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
    The full quote basically just means scientists believe that there are fundamental truths, laws, to be found. If they didn’t there would no need for the scientific method; science would be lame. But even if you hold that belief, without a scientific method you are blind to those truths.

  56. Xenophanes [ around 500BC] put it rather well…..
    “The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
    While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
    Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
    And could sculpt like men, then the horses would draw their gods
    Like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape
    Bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.”

  57. I’m religious, though feel less need than others for ceremony, etc. I’m pursuaded in part by philosophical arguments along the lines of the “first mover” arguments, i.e. Aristotelian and Thomistic arguments. I believe, once you arrive at a “first mover” in this manner, then logically see what general traits such a concept entails, it most closely resembles the Judeo-Christian god.
    I take the Bible, especially the Old Testament, not as a stick with which to beat people over the head, nor a tool used by snake oil salesmen to exploit or control people (though both have certainly occurred). Instead, it tells a story of a people who came to realize that cultural ethical norms certainly do have societal consequences, good and bad. This pattern certainly was objective to them, and one could argue continues today (single parenthood, some argue, is the largest contributor to poverty levels, dishonesty and corruption in government lead to ruin, etc.). In this sense, that there is a set of objective moral values seems to indicate to me also a “first mover” that is in some analogically way, a moral agent of sorts. The Old Testament and New Testsment, combined, show an evolution of moral and ethical standards through that community until roughly the end of its cannonical texts. Man discovers moral behavior, in my humble opinion, as opposed to inventing it out of whole cloth.
    Perhaps religion grew out of a desire to explain the world around man. Natural phenomenon, the cosmology, etc. However, it would be a form of the genetic fallacy to criticize the truth of religion based upon how it came to be.

  58. The lead post, and the quotes from research it referenced, used the terms ‘atheist’, ‘scientists’, ‘religious people’ and ‘those in between’.
    Let’s distinguish between the four terms.
    ‘Atheist’ is an intentionally biased term developed by theists. Refreshing the concept in non-theistic context, let’s use the term ‘profound skeptic of myhology’.
    ‘Scientist’ is a person whose focus is, for any given aspect of reality, on applying reason based on corroborated observations of the pertinent parts of reality.
    ‘Religious person’ is a theist. A theist holds the world view of profound faith in religious stories (aka mythology).
    ‘Those in between’, I guess, refers to eclectically pragmatic folk who pick and choose what parts of their live and world view they are religious about and which parts they are scientific about and which parts they are ‘‘profound skeptic of myhology’’ about.
    I am interested in refining those terms based on comments. I would appreciate it.
    John

    • John- what you really need to do is write a proper dictionary where the rule of logic and set theory are not violated. That will get the set of cognitive tools that will cleanly parse any proposition.
      Words are our tools of cognition. The definition of a ‘word’ is ‘a symbol with a definition’; the definition of ‘definition’ is ‘the set of distinguishing characteristics that classify the labeled entity’.
      Carry on that way thru ‘truth’, ‘morality’, ‘ethics’, ‘beauty’ – grab the ones alleged to be difficult first cuz once you’ve whipped those the rest is freakin simple.
      Then sit back and look at what a grammar nazi you become. Listen to the grunts, groans, hoots and screeches of the semiotic mob who are not even using words. Your cup of optimism will get to half.empty fast.
      e.g. YOU are able to understand that A-theism is a concept whose parents were theist. But not one monkey in a thousand is able to do that for lack of words. What they utter and what they type are incantations, coos of approval, growls of disapproval, mumbles in fluent gibberish.
      The fact is that flawless thinking absolutely requires flawless cognitive tools.
      I know you enjoy the interaction, but definitions will not be produced by a congregation. You might get some form of ululation. It will be a whole lot more work to get others who can’t to do what you don’t.
      So, if you really want it done- there’s just one way.

      • gnomish on December 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm
        – – – – – – – – – –
        gnomish,
        Oops, I responded to your comment outside of this thread. Please find my reply in a new thread below.
        John

      • Theist – one who believes in god or god(s).
        Atheist – not, or against, the belief in god or god(s)
        Agnostic – one who doesn’t know, in this context, one who doesn’t know if god or god(s) exist (“ignoramous” in the Latin)
        Scientist – one who applies the scientific method to acquire knowledge about the observable world
        Note that scientists can fall into one of the three former groups, and that science and (a)theism are not mutually exclusive. Science is a subset of the knowledge that can be known by humans, and presenting it as being in opposition to theism is fallacious.

        • Justin writes “Science is a subset of the knowledge that can be known by humans, and presenting it as being in opposition to theism is fallacious.”
          Except in the case that science is treated by some people as a religion, in which case it is rival with all others.

    • (Great, now e get to be pestered by the atheist wing of the social justice special word warriors ; )

    • John Whitman writes: “Let’s distinguish between the four terms.”
      That would be a good start but probably impossible to achieve.
      “Atheist is an intentionally biased term developed by theists. Refreshing the concept in non-theistic context, let’s use the term profound skeptic of myhology.”
      Bias is in the mind of the beholder. It has no more intrinsic bias than “theist”. It simply means “not theist” while implying absolutely nothing else. Theist, in turn, is not about myhology in the first place, therefore atheist is also not about myhology, an attempt which appears to be your own intentional bias.
      Atheist ought also to be split into ordinary atheism (not-theism) and anti-theism which goes out of its way to battle theism; and thus becomes just another religion; the dark side of one specific for each atheist. That is to say, I notice that strong atheists (anti-theists) tend to oppose a specific instance of theism and tend to ignore all other religions, lumping them all together as if only Catholics existed thus only anti-Catholics oppose them. It takes a few rounds of questions to discern what exactly you oppose; it is usually a moral code of conduct since otherwise, who cares if your grandmother worships a weeping statue?
      “Scientist is a person whose focus is, for any given aspect of reality, on applying reason based on corroborated observations of the pertinent parts of reality.”
      It’s simpler than that. A scientist is one that does science. To me, science is the art and results of measuring and calculating that which can be measured and calculated.
      “Religious person is a theist. A theist holds the world view of profound faith in religious stories (aka mythology).”
      Not necessarily. A theist probably believes in a god or gods; but may well not worship that god, might even oppose that god. A religious person is anyone whose opinions are very strong, who behaves in accordance with his strong beliefs, and believes others ought also to believe and act in the same way.
      Thus, you can have a religious theist and a religious atheist (both are here on display). You can also have non-religious theists (college social science departments), and religious theists (at church; if they’ve bothered to study much that is). Merely going to church doesn’t make one a theist but might be counted as religious (provided you chose to go because of belief and not because of the social consequences of NOT going).
      Thus, a person can be (and frequently is) religious about Apple computers or global warming.
      “I am interested in refining those terms based on comments. I would appreciate it.”
      To have a conversation with anyone about any topic, due respect must be given to the other person’s valuation of whatever is being discussed. While I have a doubt that statues of Mary actually shed tears, it would be disrespectful and accomplish absolutely nothing positive to make it my life’s work debunking such things (Michael Shermer comes to mind).
      Furthermore, when you are actually in the minority it helps to not provoke the majority, even though it may be entertaining to do so. I am simultaneously in a majority (those that at least loosely believe in God or a god of some sort, or at least angels); but a minority (my particular flavor of those beliefs which is in some places nearly as despised as an atheist). The only thing an anti-theist has going for him is equal opportunity shunning from everyone other than perhaps Buddhists.

      • Michael 2 on December 6, 2015 at 9:08 am
        . . .
        “Atheist is an intentionally biased term developed by theists. Refreshing the concept in non-theistic context, let’s use the term profound skeptic of myhology.”
        Bias is in the mind of the beholder. It has no more intrinsic bias than “theist”. It simply means “not theist” while implying absolutely nothing else. Theist, in turn, is not about myhology in the first place, therefore atheist is also not about myhology, an attempt which appears to be your own intentional bias.
        . . .

        Michael 2,
        Your comment was extensive and sincere, thanks.
        The reasoning for my assessment that the theist’s term ‘atheist’ is biased in favor of theist centric views follows. I think humans are born without concepts (ideas); they must develop them. If a human is not educated on theism and not burdened with cultural legacies involving theistic memes, then the human using applied reasoning and simple logic can easily (but not always) hold that theism is irrelevant to him. To call such a person something that has at root the word ‘theist’(such as atheist or non-theist or angnostic or etc) irrationally places theism at the center of the discussion when it is actually not at the center or even a significant topic outside of itself. Using the term ‘atheist’ is giving a false primacy to theism in discussion on world views, philosophy or basic principles or etc. To abandon the bias in theist centrism of aspects focused outside of itself (atheist for example) seem reasonable precaution to mitigate against theist bias.
        So, what term to use for such a human (as I outlined in preceeding paragraph) that can de-centralize theism where it isn’t rationally any reason to be the centric issue? I offered in my original post a term suggested to un-biased the discussion by instead of using ‘atheist’ to use ‘profound skeptic of mythology’ but even that term is lacking independence from a ‘theistic’ centric meme since mythology encapsulates theism.
        I think another term that might de-bias theist centeredness would be the following. I suggest to use ‘human’ for all humans and to differentiate epistemologically between between ‘supernatural focused humans’ and ‘natural focused humans’. I guess a third differentiation is ‘mixed supernatural and natural focused human’ of those who, ad hoc, eclectically choose when, how and what to epistemically to focus on.
        There is a need for the above discussion, I think, to show the limitations of theistic centric discussions on the broader issue in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics. There is a need to demonstrate theism isn’t centric but is irrelevant to a larger context but theism is relevant to itself only.
        As to your idea that there can be religions that have no gods but worship things, movements, people, or animals . . . you are correct. However, the focus is on the historically dominate mainstream major religions continuously active over the past ~~1,000 years or more. So, the focus is about theism, where God is explicitly the essence of the religion being discussed.
        I understand your concerns and cautions about emotionally upsetting religious folks by being very starkly critical in discussion of the metaphysical, epistemological and historic bases of theism, religions and their necessary mythologies. Virtually all of my friends, professional associates and family are religious. Civil discussion is possible between ‘supernatural focused humans’, ‘natural focused humans’ and ‘mixed supernatural and natural focused humans’ but of course such discussion is fraught with extremely high chance of offending those with profound faith in theism and its necessary mythologies. Faith they depend on for some needed shelter, stability and serenity. Sigh, it is difficult to have discussions in the matter. But, when there is a posting that has a juxtaposition of religion (theism/mythology), science and epistemology/metaphysics (philosophy), then I see no merit in silence just because someone might be emotionally distraught about the dialogue; however I strongly urge the dialogue be strictly civil.
        John

        • John Whitman wrote “To abandon the bias in theist centrism…”
          A simpler, hopefully still accurate representation of your argument is achieved by game metaphor. In chess or Futbol/soccer, a tactical advantage is held by holding the center of the field able to defend and to attack in all directions.
          Religious people have staked out the center. I doubt religious people call themselves “theists”. I certainly never have called myself such a thing. But it is likely that from this privileged position came the word “atheist” whose common meaning is usually anti-theist, in opposition to theism, not merely ignoring it.
          No need exists to abandon bias nor is it possible. I am pretty sure that nearly all westerners are culturally indoctrinated in rather a lot of religion, maybe even “thou shalt not kill” although not quite universally embraced.
          I imagine it unlikely that the privileged center will just walk back to their goal posts you SO can have the center; but stranger things happen in western nations frequently.

        • JW writes (in part): “So, what term to use for such a human that can de-centralize theism where it isn’t rationally any reason to be the centric issue?”
          I doubt a word exists; and if it did, it would immediately be coopted and poisoned and changed into something else. Context is extremely important; where theism IS the central issue, as for instance this article and its comments, theist and atheist are effective terms; each having nuances of course.
          Neither word captures a willingness to explore ideas but neither word denies the possibility. A person wishing to explore and challenge beliefs, his own and that of others, I’d probably bestow the title “scholar”.
          “I offered in my original post a term suggested to un-biased the discussion by instead of using ‘atheist’ to use ‘profound skeptic of mythology’ but even that term is lacking independence from a ‘theistic’ centric meme since mythology encapsulates theism.”
          It also encapsulates your own dismissive judgment from the very beginning IF, as is usually the case, mythology is synonymous with fiction. Where mythology is not assumed to be fiction your labeling is reasonable; but even there, “skeptic” has by now also become poisoned by global warming advocacy and has also changed meaning as often used.
          Consequently, since no single word captures accurately your intention, it becomes necessary to use redundancy and diversity; to encompass an idea with a variety of approaches, none of which are precisely accurate but the substance of all of them point to an attractor, an idea, that may not itself be visible or even properly labeled.
          Black holes cannot be seen, but their existence inferred from behavior of nearby objects. So it is with discussing “metaphysics” — objects that cannot be seen, nor even discussed directly for lack of words, but inferred by the aggregate of stories told and language used trying to convey an idea.
          I believe some of the apparent contradiction in the bible, for instance, is redundancy. Hidden knowledge is encompassed by the aggregate forces of all those stories; but the thing itself is invisible and lacks a word. Because of that it is also less vulnerable to deliberate alteration and corruption.
          Some of that hidden knowledge are the bounds of commandments; thou shalt not kill except for some situations that help paint the boundaries of the law and reveal that no law is cast in iron; they form a hierarchy in two dimensions — ones that supercede another in all circumstances, but also commandments that are lateral and depend on the situation which to apply.
          True religion will be a natural religion; it will be the one that corresponds perfectly with observation while at the same time still being a religion. Depending on your experience that might not seem possible, but what if such a thing could exist? What if such a religion does not call for elaborate ritual and liturgy, but encapsulates a preferred, effective, forward-looking vision for humanity and all living things? To a large extent I consider my own religion to be exactly that. If God is omnipotent, then he is choosing to not reveal himself to most people. If he is not omnipotent, but still the supremest instance of the species, he might not actually be able to force himself on everyone even if he wishes to, or he might still wish NOT to.
          It is thus SO much easier to just be an atheist. I consider that the lazy way out.

        • Last reply to John Whitmans post: “I understand your concerns and cautions about emotionally upsetting religious folks by being very starkly critical in discussion of the metaphysical, epistemological and historic bases of theism, religions and their necessary mythologies.”
          I am not easily offended by most things; such as offends me seems to be confined to someone else’s arrogance. I do not know why I should be offended by hubris or arrogance in another person.
          I think in order to be offended you would have to know me very well so that I valued your opinion, and then cast a stone. I think also that offense exists where you are attacking a foundation that is vulnerable; people fear the consequence. In my case, since I know there’s some sort of God, and rather a lot more in that realm, your attack would be like tossing water balloons at a bridge pylon. It barely notices the splashes. But in a different setting, such as at church, your challenge would require a response because of the social consequences of failing to respond.
          As to the historic basis of theism and religions; I might as well be non-theist to all that. Such things are interesting and important to the evolution of law, politics and culture but says very little about God. Science and religion were once pretty much the same thing; religion and politics also pretty much the same thing to this very day in many places — in a democracy, politics cannot be separated from religion: What you believe will influence or even dictate your vote and the only reason for the non-establishment clause in the United States is fear by one religion of dominance by another; an agreement that nobody’s religion will be dominant at least in government. But even then, Christian morality finds its way into law so long as it isn’t a “church” per se.
          I am stimulated to a thought — religion is more committed than atheism, especially non-theism. People will sacrifice their lives for their religion; how many non-theists will do likewise? None; because they have no religion. If they are willing to give their lives for a cause, any cause whatsoever, that cause *is* their religion. A religious person is a person whose “cause” and god-belief are aligned.

    • JohnKnight on December 6, 2015 at 3:10 am,
      (Great, now e get to be pestered by the atheist wing of the social justice special word warriors ; )

      JohnKnight,
      I am not sure if your comment was addressed to my comment above.
      If you are addressing me, it seems reasonable to me that you are saying you don’t need the words in your statement to have any meaning or context. N’est ce pas?
      John

      • Yes, John, it was a response to your comment.
        Again; “social justice” tomfoolery here, I warn.

      • JohnKnight on December 6, 2015 at 7:09 pm
        Yes, John, it was a response to your comment.
        Again; “social justice” tomfoolery here, I warn.

        JohnKnight,
        I understand. Thanks for the warning about all participants on the thread potentially devolving into some kind of ‘social’ nether region. It often does.
        John

  59. gnomish on December 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm @ John Whitman,
    I know you enjoy the interaction, but definitions will not be produced by a congregation. You might get some form of ululation. It will be a whole lot more work to get others who can’t to do what you don’t.
    So, if you really want it done- there’s just one way.

    gnomish,
    I think the dialogue on the juxtaposition of science (reasoning applied to reality) and theism (faith in mythological stories) is not a solipsist’s** wet dream. Humans can and do openly discuss all parts of reality, discuss reality as a whole, and discuss the nature of humans quo humans as part of reality. Some humans in the dialogue can actually have the motive of achieving objective understanding while others do not have that motive.
    I do “enjoy the interaction” in the sense that I enjoy ideas (aka concepts). I enjoy: how they occur; their basis (premises); their logical worth; their relationship (aka hierarchy of concepts); their effect on humans; their implications for opening up the knowledge of the world or their implications for descent into irrational absurdity. Actual, not enjoy . . . I love it.
    ** solipsism: philosophical theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified. The view that the self is the only reality.
    John

  60. I know someone that was an atheist raised by atheist.
    It was in studying the human eye that it dawned on her that such a thing couldn’t be an undirected act of the natural laws and random chance.
    There had to be “a god”.
    She took that next step that so often people don’t take. She wanted to know Him. Not what people said about God but God Himself. He proved Himself to her. She is, as I am, learning and believing more about what He’s done and growing closer to Him in the process.
    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    PS She now a Doctor of Optometry.

    • (Note: “Michael Darby” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Buster Brown’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. All the time and effort he spent on writing 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name, many of them quite long, are wasted because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

      • Michael Darby “…human eyes … are functionally equivalent to chimpanzees in color perception, binocular vision, field of view, etc.”
        I am amazed by the wealth of collective knowledge on display here today.

      • Don’t forget the eyes the of squid and octopus. While they aren’t closely related in Man’s theoretical family tree, I’m sure a few of the ladies out there would swear they’ve dated one.

      • I see no indication in the account above that anyone involved was of the opinion or impression that only human eyes are remarkable . . Had the story related been about a person who experienced such a “realization” as related here, was studying the eyes of octopi or chimpanzees, would anyone have made comments about them not being “special”, one wonders . . (very little, for one doubts it very much ; )

      • John,
        Of course I have evidence for the fact of evolution, all the evidence in the world and none against it. While in the 19th century, it was an insight and an inference, comparable to Copernicus’ hypothesis regarding the earth and the sun, later it was shown an objective reality. Today, the fact of evolution or extinction are known to be the unavoidable results of reproduction via increasingly well understood genetic mechanisms.
        Just because you claim never to have observed evolution doesn’t mean it’s not a fact. You should have looked harder or read more. Uneducated people imagine that evolution always takes many generations, via natural selection and stochastic processes, such as genetic drift and reproductive isolation. It often does, especially for the evolution of higher taxa, such as families, orders, classes and phyla. But for the origin of new species and even genera, it doesn’t. New species can and do evolve in a single generation, overnight, as it were.
        Among these quick and dirty evolutionary processes are polyploidy, hybridization, gross chromosomal translocations and simple, even point, mutations. Instances abound, so I can’t believe you have looked very deeply into the subject. It’s generally better to have studied a subject before presuming to declare pronouncements upon it out of ignorance.
        Human evolution included all of the rapid means mentioned above, as well as slower selective and stochastic processes.
        Some simple and well-known (to those who actually have studied evolution) instances of less than overnight speciation are the evolution of nylon-eating bacteria from their sugar-eating mother species, due to point mutations. These are also examples of a formerly lethal mutation becoming beneficial in a changed environment. The countless times that these mutations occurred previously led to dead daughter microbes, but after nylon entered their environment, the mutations became advantageous.
        The polyploid origin of new species is more common in plants than animals. Indeed, estimates of the number of polyploid species of plants range from 30 to 80%. Animals, including humans, do however show frequent gene duplications, to include whole genomes, making redundant genetic material available for innovation.

      • Gloteous,
        This is what I gather you’re argument comes down to (I have to state it, because youpre not, so correct me if I’m weong, please)
        Many living things exist
        There is no God
        Therefore;
        The living things must have developed bit by bit over time.

      • I suppose this could be developed into an argument; but as it stands here, it’s just as assertion.
        “Some simple and well-known (to those who actually have studied evolution) instances of less than overnight speciation are the evolution of nylon-eating bacteria from their sugar-eating mother species, due to point mutations.”
        No one is arguing change (evolution) does not occur. Children are not identical to their parents, so “evolution” is proven. Got that, don[t bother to argue for it any more, please. The question is about whether or not ALL living things developed gradually over time from non-living things; the theory of Evolution.
        Now in the case of bacteria mutating to be able to metabolize some byproducts of nylon manufacture (as I understand it), you have not made an actual case/argument, but merely made an assertion. Essentially an argument from authority (some scientist say). I can’t argue against that . . o lot of different people say a lot of different things. So what?

      • “she would have been better off studying the evolution of vertebrate vision”
        Says Doctor Maximus.

      • I’m not an optometrist so I don’t know what they study. It seems unlikely that the course work would not involve studying the eyes of other critters. But to look at the eye and realize there is something greater is somehow “anti-scientific”?
        Does such a person suddenly lose the ability to accurately observe and measure what they see in the natural realm? Are they “anti-scientific” because they might be more skeptical of some of the “settled science” or because they believe along the lines of “Science is thinking God’s thoughts after him”?

      • Michael and Gunga,
        Yes, I am a doctor, a PhD in molecular biology. Not that it matters, since ad hominem attacks mean you have already lost. What does matter is whether what I say be true or not.
        The observed fact is that there is nothing at all supernatural about the vertebrate eye, which is inferior to the separately evolved mollusk eye, for instance. Understanding the evolution of the human eye would certainly be preferable for an optometrist than not doing so, but not essential.
        Some of my students at the Baptist-affiliated college where I used to teach went on to become optometrists. However, despite most being evangelical Christians, they at least got to study the fact of evolution rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.
        There are lots of good reasons for embracing religion, but the structure of the eye isn’t among them. There is not only no need for an eye-designer, but if one existed, he, she or it would be an incredibly stupid, not intelligent designer.

        • Gloateus Maximus “Yes, I am a doctor, a PhD in molecular biology.”
          and that apparently makes you an expert on eyes. I had no idea.
          “Not that it matters”
          Why then did you bring it up?
          “since ad hominem attacks mean you have already lost.”
          Uh, what exactly did I lose? Whatever it was, you lost it first 🙂
          “What does matter is whether what I say be true or not.”
          You recommended an evolutionary study of eyes. This is not a true/false claim, it is your recommendation for a course of study.
          “The observed fact is that there is nothing at all supernatural about the vertebrate eye”
          Quite right. It is impossible for there to be something not natural in anything natural. It’s a tautology so not very impressive argumentation, but I’ll grant you half a point.
          “which is inferior to the separately evolved mollusk eye, for instance.”
          If you say so. I prefer owl and eagle eyes but I wonder what they give up to achieve incredible resolving power.
          “Understanding the evolution of the human eye would certainly be preferable for an optometrist than not doing so, but not essential.”
          That seems obvious. What an eye looked like 2 million years ago does not seem particularly necessary to my eye doctor. There may indeed be some use to it; perhaps our resident molecular biologist can make this non-obvious connection.
          “Some of my students at the Baptist-affiliated college where I used to teach went on to become optometrists.”
          Seemingly a non-sequitur but glad to hear it.
          “However, despite most being evangelical Christians, they at least got to study the fact of evolution rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.”
          In the United States (presumably) it would seem unlawful to forbid studying evolution in college. However, I wonder what difference it makes whether we were created yesterday or evolved over billions of years. For an eye doctor, what matters is what eyes are *right now*.
          “There are lots of good reasons for embracing religion, but the structure of the eye isn’t among them.”
          You seem to be rather exercised by it.
          “There is not only no need for an eye-designer, but if one existed, he, she or it would be an incredibly stupid, not intelligent designer.”
          As judged by you. I wonder what your perfect eye would be?

      • Gloteis Maxinus,
        “From a professional standpoint, she would have been better off studying the evolution of vertebrate vision, which has been well understood for some time now, whatever she may have gained in her personal life from her anti-scientific reaction to the anatomy of the human, ie great ape, eye.”
        Say what? Ant-scientific? Not seeing things as you do renders people anti-scientific? Amazing pomposity . . (you named yourself well ; )
        Here’s a clue; People making up little stories about how biological organisms of organs etc might have come to be what they are, is people making up stories, not people doing real science. That someone says they can imagine something coming into existence bit bit by bit, only demonstrates they can imagine it, not that it actually happened, or even could happened that way.
        I realize that his castes virtually all of Evolution theory into a non-scientific realm, and I mean it too. There is very little actual evidence I am aware of (and I’ve looked, because I believed in this theories validity for many years), and invite you to produce any scientific evidence of significance to substantiate it. (But no, I will not treat mer3e opinions of Evolutions as scientific fact, anymore than I will opinions of Astrologers in that way.
        Give me your best evidence, sir, if you have any worth mention.

      • (Oops, I posted this int the wrong sub-thread above (growing dark in this room, and I didn’t turn on a light before posting the last few times ; )
        I ought to have typed; “… the opinions of Evolutionists..” near the end.

      • Michael,
        Perfection is not the issue. Earth has an example of a superior eye “design” which evolved separately from the vertebrate eye. As I mentioned, the mollusk eye is objectively a better design. It’s not a matter of opinion, but of fact. I don’t have to be an expert on eyes to know that fact, just a biologist.
        Evolution is a scientific fact, ie direct observations and unavoidable inferences from other observations. It is also an ever-developing body of theory explaining that fact, just as the ever-developing theory of universal gravitation attempts to explain physical observations. Same goes for other well-established but still improving theories such as the atomic theory of matter, the germ theory of disease, quantum mechanics, the Big Bang and plate tectonics.

        • Gloateus Maximus “the mollusk eye is objectively a better design. It’s not a matter of opinion”
          I suspect it strongly IS a matter of opinion. What exactly makes it a better design, and who decides that it is better, and better for what purpose? Since you aren’t saying I suppose I’ll have to turn to the ultimate source of biased information, Wikipedia.

        • “Cephalopod eyes are superior in design to all vertebrate eyes because they don’t have a blind spot.”
          Well there’s where opinion creeps in; you value not having a blind spot vastly more than I value it.
          I’d still rather have eagle eyes, blind spot included, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got.

      • Gloteous,
        “Earth has an example of a superior eye “design” which evolved separately from the vertebrate eye. As I mentioned, the mollusk eye is objectively a better design. It’s not a matter of opinion, but of fact.”
        So, it’s your contention that if you suspended an octopus at five thousand feet in the air, it could see mice better than a hawk? Or are you claiming a hawk would bot see very well if you stuck it on the bottom of the sea?

      • John,
        I declared nothing for which I didn’t provide you evidence. Sorry, but all the evidence in “creation”, as it were, shows evolution to be a fact and no evidence shows it false. Predictions made on its basis are shown valid and those based upon creationism invariably are show false.
        Instead of just asserting falsely what I didn’t do, why not try to respond to the factual instances of evolution I gave you. Apparently no evidence will ever persuade you out of your cultish belief in creationism.
        Cephalopod eyes are superior in design to all vertebrate eyes because they don’t have a blind spot. In cephalopods, the optic nerve approaches the receptors from behind, so there is no break in the retina. You confuse functional environmental adaptations with fundamental design. Eagles’ eyes have evolved to permit resolution from altitude, but they still have the blind spot. Put an eagle underwater and it would be at a disadvantage compared to the least resolving cephalopod.
        Richard already mentioned why cephalopod eyes are better designed than vertebrates’, so I didn’t go into detail, assuming you had read his comment.

      • Gloateus,
        “I declared nothing for which I didn’t provide you evidence.”
        Sorry, I meant evidence other than “other believers in Evolution have declared”, not just you personally.
        “Cephalopod eyes are superior in design to all vertebrate eyes because they don’t have a blind spot.”
        First; They can’t be “superior in design”, unless they were designed, sir. You are limited to just functionality, as an Evolutionist. And functionality is dependent on the circumstances the creature must deal with. Cephalopods have arms, for instance, and while you might declare their “design is superior” because they are more flexible than ours, obviously (one hopes), there are other considerations than just flexibility involved in such a judgment.
        If the blind spot is not a problem to the hawk functionally, then it’s not relevant to any argument that it is inferior in any functional sense. When the hawks eyes move a tiny bit (in any sense) for instance, the brain quite easily fills in the blind spot with previously received information, and it does not exist in the hawks perceived world. Nothing is “missing” because it’s perception is not dependent on a single momentary “picture” taken from a single precise perspective, such that the tiny blind spot can amount to anything more a fart in a windstorm of optical information.
        So, even the slightest advantage the vertebrate eye design might convey, in any other way, can render the blind spot “problem” superfluous. Which is to say a non-issue in this discussion. The question then naturally follows, it seems to me;
        How do you know there is not some small advantage the vertebrate eye design conveys, that “out weighs” than the (easily compensated for) disadvantage the blind spot hypothetically conveys?
        For instance, in dealing with ultraviolet light, which the hawk is exposed to at much greater levels than cephalopods are, being under-water creatures. How do you know that the dangers ultraviolet light pose to delicate biological systems, haven’t been overcome by a “superior design”?
        (Regardless of whether there is a Designer. This question applies to evolution theory just as well, I feel.)

      • John,
        I put “design” in quotes and thereafter assumed you’d know I meant the term figuratively. In this context it simple means the way the eye has evolved.
        The fact is that the cephalopod eye is superior because it lacks the blind spot which is a feature of the vertebrate “design”. The difference is explained by their differing evolutionary histories, not because a Stupid Designer used a better system in invertebrates and inferior one in vertebrates.
        The blind spot is indeed a functional problem for all vertebrates, hawks included.
        http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/single-symptom?symptom=blind-spot-in-vision&symid=22
        Even more problematic “design” flaws exist in all creatures great and small because of stupid design, which shows that there is no Intelligent Designer. Consider the broken Vitamin C gene in the “higher” primates, ie tarsiers, monkeys and apes (as opposed to “lower” lemurs and lorises). The only other mammals with non-functional Vitamin C genes are guinea pigs and the Indian fruit-eating bat, but their genes are broken in different places from the primate mutation. Thus, all these creatures are at risk of scurvy, so need Vitamin C in their diets, being unable to make their own, unlike all other animals. Only a stupid designer would create animals with these breaks, and why would this moron inflict the same break on all simian primates? Doesn’t it make more sense that we share this flaw with our closest relatives because we all inherited it from a common ancestor?
        Other such instances of idiotic “design” abound.
        (Tarsiers used to be lumped in with the prosimian primates, until their DNA was sequenced and they were found to be simians, like monkeys and apes.)

        • Was it you or gnomish complaining about ad-hominem language? Let’s look at yours.
          “Stupid Designer.”
          “The blind spot is indeed a functional problem for all vertebrates, hawks included.”
          It does not seem to be a functional problem.
          “there is no Intelligent Designer.”
          Not as you suppose he exists for the purpose of saying he doesn’t exist.
          “Only a stupid designer would create animals with these breaks”
          Or very cleverly did so for non-obvious reasons.
          “why would this moron inflict the same break on all simian primates?”
          I have no idea but this moron may be judging you right now.
          “Doesn’t it make more sense that we share this flaw with our closest relatives because we all inherited it from a common ancestor?”
          No, it makes more sense that we inherited it from a common ancestor. (Remove “doesn’t” for a more straightforward answer)
          “Other such instances of idiotic design abound.”
          Obviously. Or not. You have yet to describe your perfect creation. Give it a shot while this thread is still active. Describe the perfect animal and its environment.

      • Michael,
        Had you ever studied evolution, you’d know that perfection doesn’t exist. Why would I offer my idea of a perfect creation when I know no such thing is possible? Evolution works on the material available. No environment lasts long enough for its denizens to become “perfectly” adapted to it. Even the longest-lived species, some of which appear to be tens of millions of years old, at least superficially, aren’t perfectly adapted to their little-changed environments.
        Evolution is not teleological. That is, it has no goal for which it’s aiming. It just happens, depending upon changes in the environment and reproductive isolation. Once you remove religious thought from attempts to apprehend how nature works, your understanding will instantly improve.

        • Gloateus Maximus “Michael, Had you ever studied evolution, you’d know that perfection doesn’t exist.”
          What a delightful non-sequitur! Of course perfection exists as otherwise the word would serve no purpose. A few years ago my Sunday School teacher asked for a show of hands of everyone in the room that was perfect. I raised my hand and looked around to see one other gentleman doing likewise. Needless to say it disrupted the lesson which was designed to excuse the bad behavior of the person giving the lesson because, after all, nobody is perfect. By claiming to be perfect it changed the trajectory of the discussion; making a worthy consideration how far removed from perfection is any person.
          All living things at any point of Earth’s history are of necessity perfect because those life forms that are not perfect at that moment in time are extinct. There will be some variation of course; life forms slightly less perfect and not yet extinct, or that are just coming into perfect match with a changing environment.
          “Why would I offer my idea of a perfect creation when I know no such thing is possible?”
          In order to justify your claims of imperfection or bad design. If you know what is bad, surely you know what is good. If you do not know what is good and perfect, how can you judge something to be bad or imperfect? Scientific American has explored these very ideas; and while I don’t give much credence to SciAm in the past 10 years or so, it used to be pretty solid. Their idea is that the human brain is probably as advanced as it is ever going to be because of physical constraints. Nerves cannot be any thinner because they fire spontaneously and irregularly. That imposes an absolute maximum number of connections (and hence, intelligence on some level). The brain could be made bigger, but then signals take longer to traverse; and the brain would then require a much larger animal to feed it. Larger animals once existed. It would be easy enough to imagine an Earth where the dinosaurs weren’t extinct. There’s even an interesting science fiction ethical dilemma movie about it.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_Like_a_Dinosaur_%28The_Outer_Limits%29
          In the end it boils down to an emotional thing; what I like is “good” and what I don’t like is “bad” and since I suspect nearly everyone (probably including me) does it that way; admit it.
          “No environment lasts long enough for its denizens to become perfectly adapted to it.”
          Well then we actually do see it pretty much the same way; but I suggest that it is a curve, maybe a bell curve of fitness to environment. A species evolves early in the curve because it is advantageous to do so, reaches a peak of perfect harmony with its environment, then as the environment changes, slides off the other side of the curve. But it is also possible for variation within the species to change it; creating a spread of subspecies some more attuned than others, with the peak remaining at the peak for maybe millions of years.
          “Even the longest-lived species, some of which appear to be tens of millions of years old, at least superficially, aren’t perfectly adapted to their little-changed environments.”
          I disagree but I see the point you are making.
          “Evolution is not teleological. That is, it has no goal for which it’s aiming. It just happens”
          Agreed. No cause and effect relationship. Each generation spreads variation. The number of possible human variations from a single pairing is enormous, one out of 2^46th power, and that’s just the combinations of chromosomes.
          Evolution requires and depends upon variance. Single cell asexual division doesn’t have enough variance. RNA varies too much. DNA is more stable. Thus, the only thing that could evolve is DNA based sexual reproduction to recombined and create variance but within the bounds of the stability of DNA.
          But that’s also an “anthropic” point of view; I think that because I exist to think it.
          “Once you remove religious thought from attempts to apprehend how nature works, your understanding will instantly improve.”
          On the contrary. Religion improves my understanding of nature and increases my interest in studying nature; not that there’s a lot of overlap, but more than none. But my religion is not like many others, and even within my religion I am somewhat of a maverick, for I do not accept that the “natural man is an enemy to God” (*).
          The way I see it is terribly simple. God said let the Earth bring forth life; and the Earth brought forth life, and here I am, ready or not! What exactly God did is not known, is not declared, is probably not knowable, doesn’t really matter anyway.
          What I do right now with my neighbors and my community is what matters. That is my ethic, that is my morality, that is my religion.
          * Natural man: I interpret this restated in modern language as “the natural man is a stranger to God”, neither friend nor enemy. But in the binary thinking of many people, if you are not for me you must be against me. Well there’s 7 billion people that don’t know I exist and I do not assume all 7 billion are against me. They are also not for me. Binary thinking is imperfect.

        • Gloateus Maximus “Perfection is not attainable”
          It is by me.
          “nor is there even any perfect goal toward which it strives.”
          That concept makes no sense. Achievement can be perfect; the goal itself is neither perfect nor imperfect.
          “Hardly a non sequitur. Simply a fact.”
          Perhaps your definition of “fact” is unique.
          I will post a simple example: 2 + 2 = 4
          The problem statement is simple, the answer is perfect and knowable to be perfect. Anything other than 4 is not perfect. Assumptions exist of course (decimal number system, base 10, for instance).
          A similar example of impossible to be perfect: Expressing “pi” in the decimal number system cannot be done with perfection. No matter how many digits one uses, it is still an approximation; or so it seems for all the decades and centuries of trying to prove it irrational.
          Thus I show that perfection is indeed attainable. I define perfection as “achieving the goal”. If the goal of adding two and two is to discover how many then exist, the perfect answer is four, because it has achieved the goal.
          If you are a high jumper and your goal is 5 feet bar, and you succeed, you are at that moment perfect, for you have achieved your goal.
          Only in the case of setting a goal impossible to achieve is perfection impossible to achieve.
          Perhaps your definition of “perfect” is unique. What a surprise that would be.
          Deciding when a thing is perfect requires a judge of perfection. Sometimes it is you; if you are a musician you might claim a work “perfect”, an artist, a photographer, a runner, a swimmer, a carpenter or craftsman of any kind.
          The bible writes, “Be ye therefore perfect”, and what purpose is served giving a commandment when it is unattainable? That would be meaningless. But it is not meaningless, it is meaningful, therefore perfection must be attainable, and if that requires to alter your definition of perfection, well then alter it.
          Perfection is attainable. In whatever you appoint to yourself to do, do it perfectly.

      • John,
        You confuse evolution with abiogenesis, the origin of living things from non-living complex organic chemical compounds. Evolution is the origin of new species from existing species, and over time of higher taxa. Hence, evolution operates once living things already exist. However chemical evolutionary processes also worked in the development of the first organisms.
        As new species and genera have been observed evolving in nature and created in the lab, there is no reason to suppose that existing genera can’t evolve into new families, families and orders, and so on. (Linnaean classification is no longer valid for taxa higher than species, having been replaced by cladistic phylogenetic taxonomy, but families, orders, classes, phyla, kingdoms and domains are still used for convenience.)
        How multicellular organisms arose from single-celled organisms can be directly observed in simple multicellular organisms today. How macroscopic organisms evolved from simple multicellular organisms can be reconstructed by various means, to include embryology, genetics and microbiology. The history of macroscopic life with hard body parts since the so-called Cambrian Explosion or shortly before it, also benefits from fossils and other lines of evidence. How every phylum evolved is not known in detail, but the genomes of extant organisms show their common descent from extinct ancestors.
        There is no governor on evolution that would keep a lobe-finned fish from becoming a tetrapod over time, as all lines of evidence show indeed happened in the Late Devonian, a therapsid from becoming a mammal in the Triassic or Jurassic (depending upon what traits you consider uniquely mammalian) or a terrestrial artiodactyl from becoming a whale in the early Cenozoic.

      • Gloateus,
        “The blind spot is indeed a functional problem for all vertebrates, hawks included.
        http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/single-symptom?symptom=blind-spot-in-vision&symid=22
        I don’t think you grasp how silly it is to my mind for you to make such a flat declaration of fact, with no explanation at all, and expect me to see that as anything but utter arrogance. The link is just some symbols to me, I don’t care what someone else said, I will not pretend they are speaking for you, or that they are any sort of authority over me (or you) whatsoever. If you don’t explain you declaration (or present some actual words of another you indicate represent your thoughts), to me you just made a flat declaration of fact, based on nothing at all.
        So, I conclude you have no response worth mentioning. I conclude you just rely on human authorities (when it suits you ; ) and that you think I ought to act like some guy at the end of a link is a god of some sort . .
        Seriously, it’s kid stuff to me, like saying; *I’m with the smart guys, and they don’t say what you do*.
        Be a smart guy, right here, out load so to speak, or I don’t believe you are one . . So why would I care in the slightest who you consider a smart guy? I realize there are a great many supposed “experts” who speak as though Evolution is a fact, and I think they are all wrong for doing so. Honest, so you could list every single one, with a link to something each wrote, and it would still see you as having no response worth mention.
        To me, you are identical in your approach, to someone who declares catastrophic global warming is an inevitability if we don’t do what the smart folks meeting in Paris tell us to, and if you don’t believe me, here’s a link to something Micheal Mann wrote . . He’s an expert, try learning some science for a change, instead of believing in myths.

    • Gunga Din:
      There are many paths to faith and I don’t dispute your saying

      It was in studying the human eye that it dawned on her that such a thing couldn’t be an undirected act of the natural laws and random chance.
      There had to be “a god”.

      OK. The outcome was good for her. But please don’t assume her finding faith was the result of a logical deduction: it was not. The human eye is a ‘botched design’. For example, the retina is back-to-front for efficient operation.
      There are clear explanations of how such an inefficient design could occur from evolutionary development, but an omniscient designer would used an efficient design unless evolutionary development was His development tool.
      God or no-God? The structure of the human eye indicates neither as more likely. Only faith suggests one or the other.
      There are an infinite number of possible ways to obtain faith and believers tend to rationalise how they obtained it. My faith was ‘imposed’ on me by God so it easy for me to admit that I played no part in obtaining my faith, but some others have more difficulty in admitting that.
      Richard

      • We’re getting into Romans 1 stuff here.
        Some will look at God has done and decide there is no God or choose to worship something He has done. For some it’s their own ability to think.
        Some will conclude that “God” isn’t worth considering at all.
        In the context of this post, “study-not-all-scientists-are-atheists”, I related what I know of her personal experience. Many have seemed to imply or believe that the a “real” scientist must be an atheist. That is not true.
        Her husband is also a Doctor. He works in medical research. Both of them are born again, have regained “the image of God”, spirit. They and their kids all manifest holy spirit. (I Corinthians 12:7-12, Mark 16:17, etc.) As do I.
        True, you can’t put that which makes a body alive or spirit in a test tube and analyze them. So, maybe neither are strictly in the realm of “science”. That doesn’t been neither aren’t real.

      • Typo.
        “That doesn’t been neither aren’t real.”
        Should be
        “That doesn’t mean either aren’t real.”
        (I do get tired of proving I’m not perfect.8-)

  61. “I thought you said no religion on this site?”
    I bet you know damn well that;s not what you were told, O forked tongue one ; )

  62. To be or not to be is the fundamental alternative of existence. It is binary.
    There is no supernatural world outside of existence. If it does not exist, to assert something does is a lie.
    Anything true can be proven. This is the underlying premise of science, which is ‘the systematic discovery of truth by means of experiment’.
    If something can not be proven – i.e. if it is unfalsifiable then it is false.
    Because all supernatural claims are unfalsifiable, they are all lies.
    Mysticism is the attempt to present nonexistent things as an alternative ‘truth’, which, of course, contradicts the meaning of the word ‘truth’. A simple self contradiction is the philosophical nucleus of any cult.
    The question a mind seeks to answer is ‘is this true or not’.
    Mysticism is an exploit that depends on passing off a simple self contradiction as a revelation.
    Mystics are not innocent; they are evil. Mysticism is their means of survival as a predator on human beings.

    • “Anything true can be proven.”
      That itself is a statement of fact. Can you provide the proof for this?
      It’s difficult, if not impossible, to prove many of the truths science is based upon as they are not “scientific” foundations.
      Some statements can be shown to be incoherent without following the scientific method.
      In other words, your post seems to contain the assumption “all truth is known by science”. Provide the proof for that assumption!
      If you truly believed the self-refuting beliefs you’ve posted, you owe it to yourself to re-examine your basic philosophical beliefs.

      • Justin, assumptions are your scarecrows, not mine.
        Vocabulary word for you: axiom.
        If you are able to unhinge your mind to swallow contradictions bigger than your head, you will be used as a landfill for lies. Worse, you’ll suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ridicule. Perhaps you may consider that nonexistence is a viable alternative metaphysical choice – a shortcut to an eternity of supernatural bliss.
        Such ethereal minds don’t really belong in this harsh, humorless, material world where a rock is a rock no matter how hard one wishes it were anything else. As Michael2 says- that’s too limited for such as thee.
        Hasten, then. I hear you get a T shirt with a big S (for supernatural) on it.

      • Gnomish, you’ve made certain factual claims that do not stand the basic test of logic. Your entire reply still does not address the proofs you need to make your case,
        What is an axiom? In math, it is a statement taken as true, but cannot be proven, as it is the basis of proofs. At some point, you’ll have to deal with this. Science, unfortunately for fans of scientism, rests upon non-scientific assumptions. If you believe science, you therefore must assume certain things that you take to be true. This is the realm of logic. Logic itself, ironically, cannot be disproven without assuming it’s truth.
        “Anything true can be proven.” This is your statement, although that statement itself cannot be proven scientifically. Science, is, I’m painted to inform you, limited, and dependent upon truths that are not scientific in nature.

      • an axiom is something which is self evident
        for YOU to discuss SOMETHING with ME
        logically requires the existence of YOU, SOMETHING, and ME.
        when you babble in fluent gibberish:
        ” Science, is, I’m painted (sic) to inform you, limited, and dependent upon truths that are not scientific in nature.”
        I know your proof of that is that you can not prove it. It’s like your proof of the invisible elephant.
        Indeed, since it was divinely revealed – to YOU and not me- you are sacred and I profane.
        You’ve found treasure in your diapers and rejoice.
        Grownups take a different view.

        • gnomish writes “since it was divinely revealed – to YOU and not me- you are sacred and I profane.”
          So it seems. Other interpretations are possible.

      • Gnomish,
        I’m not even arguing that something was divinely inspired. At this point, I’m talking about your philosophy, not religion. And while I’ll take the hit for not reviewing the auto-incorrect, lol, you’ve dodged the specific challenge raised to your assertions here.
        Again, my objection to your still unargued assertion has nothing to do with any particular religion, nor does it have anything to do with any sort of divine revelation.
        It has to do with a logically incoherent view that you’ve asserted, and still have yet to defend with anything other than red herrings, straw men, and appeals to ridicule. This tells me 1) you’ve probably haven’t really understood what’s wrong with your basic assertions, and 2) aren’t interested in any substantive discussion.
        So I’ll leave you to wallow in your diaper.

    • gnomish “To be or not to be is the fundamental alternative of existence. It is binary.”
      Your vision is limited. Not much anyone can do about that unfortunately. “Not be” is a singularity, “be” is everything else — vast, limitless. I think “binary” doesn’t quite capture this relationship.
      “There is no supernatural world outside of existence.”
      Naturally not. What does not exist, does not exist; and what exists, exists! That’s brilliant.
      “If it does not exist, to assert something does is a lie.”
      Or an error. Do I exist? Maybe. What am I? You have no way of knowing. But I exist. Or maybe not; you might be dreaming this conversation. Wake up!
      “Anything true can be proven.”
      Prove to me that you exist. It cannot be done, I assure you. Your vision is limited.
      Prove anything true but ephemeral. Last night I walked in snow. Can I prove it? No. Is it true? Yes.
      “This is the underlying premise of science, which is ‘the systematic discovery of truth by means of experiment’. If something can not be proven – i.e. if it is unfalsifiable then it is false.”
      No, it merely means a claim is not within the realm of science. Your vision is limited.
      “Because all supernatural claims are unfalsifiable, they are all lies.”
      No, they are simply not in the realm of science. Science is by its nature confined to the same electromagnetic realm of atoms and energy. That is all it can detect. It’s a subset of existence.
      “Mysticism is the attempt…”
      I have no interest in definitions of mysticism.
      “Mystics are not innocent; they are evil.”
      So you ARE religious! I knew it!
      Good and evil have no meaning without an ultimate authority on good and evil. Absent a god, you are just chemicals behaving a certain way; good and evil do not and cannot exist to an atheist. There’s only survival and reproduction. Your vision seems limited.

      • Michael2, I see how badly you wish that the imaginary might be real.
        As close as you can come to that is by art or by inventing – bring an idea into existence my making it so. Mind over matter beats prayer any time. It’s how the best people make life better. It’s the only positive sum game in town. It’s also fun – primal, even.
        FFS – stop reading Woody Allen while in your cups. Woody’s rabbi proved to him he existed by punching him in the nose and then asked ‘what hurt’?. But Woody was being funny, see? He was mocking the delirious mystics of his time. This comedy routine is hackneyed. Your rerun is a snorer.
        So now I guess I will define the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ for you – but, mind, when I do this, it will necessarily imply that you were unable to do so which means your typing had no meaning, you knew it had no meaning and you failed to restrain yourself from meaningless utterances but instead submitted them as if they had some value while aware they had none. This is termed ‘fraud’. It’s rude when you’re caught at it. It’s criminal when you aren’t. And don’t expect me always to be around to help your invisible friend with English. I’m not your dictionary.
        Existence exists. As stated, this is the fundamental axiom. From that can be deduced an objective morality and ethics – easily. (but this is the last of the free lectures today)
        The alternative of existence/nonexistence applies to one class of entities: living things.
        It is the life of a living thing (according to its nature) that is, for it, the fundamental value, i.e., the good.
        That which negates this fundamental value for the living thing is evil.
        Therefore, ‘the good’ is that which is consistent with furthering the life and wellbeing of an organism as that organism.
        (the condition is necessary to prevent idiots from arguing that a human living as a barnyard animal, for example, can be good)
        Each living thing has its nature. Each living thing has, by its nature, values which further its existence as the thing it is, and the means to obtain them.
        H. sapiens’ tool of survival is his reason. For a man’s survival, reason is good. That which cripples a man’s ability to reason cripples his ability to survive and is evil.
        The standard of value for a man is his life as a man. That is ‘good’ qua H. sapiens.
        Mystics, through the ages, have attacked man’s cognitive faculties in order to enslave them.
        Michael2 – if you were a good man, you would cease to do harm.

        • gnomish “Michael2, I see how badly you wish that the imaginary might be real.”
          Not even close. Anyway, it ought to be “goodly” not “badly”.
          “As close as you can come to that is by art or by inventing – bring an idea into existence my making it so.”
          Agreed. I have tried many arts and am not very skilled, but skilled enough to commit my ideas to paper or computer.
          “Mind over matter beats prayer any time.”
          Your mileage obviously varies.
          “It’s how the best people make life better.”
          Ah, the No Best People fallacy. Well so I’m not best. BFD.
          “FFS – stop reading Woody Allen while in your cups.”
          Was that for me? What’s an FFS? Anyway, I do not watch or read Woody Allen (whatever one does with him, I don’t).
          “So now I guess I will define the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ for you”
          No. Define them for you.
          “I’m not your dictionary.”
          Statement of the obvious.
          “Existence exists.”
          I knew I came here for enlightenment and there it is! Sounds cool, means nothing.
          “From that can be deduced an objective morality and ethics – easily.”
          Yep. Easy for you, easy for anyone. Just not the same morality and ethics.
          “The alternative of existence/nonexistence applies to one class of entities: living things. It is the life of a living thing (according to its nature) that is, for it, the fundamental value, i.e., the good. That which negates this fundamental value for the living thing is evil. Therefore, ‘the good’ is that which is consistent with furthering the life and wellbeing of an organism as that organism.”
          While that sounds distinctly religious, I almost get it and almost agree. Survival and reproduction is a biological imperative, neither good nor bad; it just — as you say — exists. This survival often requires the non-survival of another animal or thing that also has the same biological imperative.
          “Each living thing has its nature. Each living thing has, by its nature, values which further its existence as the thing it is, and the means to obtain them.”
          I’ve seen this line of argumentation somewhere. Nice sophistry, changes nothing. Good and evil are moral judgements made by a moral authority. Morality ceases without that moral authority.
          “H. sapiens’ tool of survival is his reason. For a man’s survival, reason is good.”
          No, reason is effective. It is neither good nor bad.
          “That which cripples a man’s ability to reason cripples his ability to survive and is evil.”
          No, it is ineffective and natural selection will eliminate that weakness. Good and evil are not involved; only competition for resources.
          “The standard of value for a man is his life as a man.”
          I appreciate that you have provided your unit of measure.
          “Mystics, through the ages, have attacked man’s cognitive faculties in order to enslave them.”
          Well there’s a definition of mystic, or a function of mystic, that I think I have never before encountered. Seems to me they usually just sit there smoking hash and saying “Ommm”.
          “Michael2 – if you were a good man, you would cease to do harm.”
          Indeed; with due regard to nuances of “harm”. The small pain of a vaccination protects from potentially devastating illness. AGW proponents are willing to impose very large harm on global societies out of their own expectation of avoiding disaster. Is it “good” to do “bad”? Maybe; depends on the situation.
          For a good many years my profession was to cause harm to enemies of the United States. Maybe that influences my thinking a bit. It certainly helps clarify my own sense of good and evil. I have encountered evil and I know it. I have encountered good and I know that, too; surprisingly your definition of good is pretty close to my own vision; although yours is somewhat limited in scope they are similar in purpose.
          I see “good” as that which encourages life; but not just animal life of eating and reproduction; but Maslow’s heirarchy of self-actualization in this life and the next.

      • Or an error. Do I exist? Maybe. What am I? You have no way of knowing. But I exist. Or maybe not; you might be dreaming this conversation. Wake up!

        “I think. I think I am. Therefore I am…..I think?” – The Moody Blues
        (Sorry for the interruption. Please continue if you so desire.8-)

  63. Michael2:
    My statement was: “For a man’s survival, reason is good.”
    The logical proposition is ‘reason is good for a man’s survival’ .
    Please observe the context is clear: ‘for man’s survival’ and that makes it possible to state a logical proposition. Truth exists in a context. If you drop the context, you don’t even have a logical propostion that can be evaluated. You have only a ‘bald assertion’.
    Your reply, on the other hand: “No, reason is effective. It is neither good nor bad.”
    You have deliberately voided context in order to render your statement unreasonable. It is not a logical proposition but an opinion. Further, it is an unsubstantiated opinion.
    I’m skeptical that a reasonable person can draw a valid distinction between ‘reason is good for man’s survival’ and ‘reason is effective for man’s survival’. In fact, it’s a rhetorical device called ‘semantic quibble’ that is only useful for trolling.
    I know you’re no dummy. Put your brain to good use. I can’t play any more. Nap time.

    • Let me try this simple approach;
      Male lions have been observed killing the offspring of other male lions. Is this immoral, wrong. bad, whatever one might call it?
      Male humans exist . . if some kill the offspring of other male humans, have they done something immoral, wrong, bad, whatever?

    • gnomish “I’m skeptical that a reasonable person can draw a valid distinction between ‘reason is good for man’s survival’ and ‘reason is effective for man’s survival’.”
      The difference is profound. Good and bad are moral judgments and serve as social clues as to who is to be admired and followed (good people), bad people are to be shunned and avoided (bad people).
      Effective simply describes the efficiency of cause to consequence.
      In my Navy career I was judged, and I judged others, on annual evaluations for correct use of English and separately, effective use of English. Effective is what gets the job done and in the Navy sometimes benefits from slang and vulgarity, things I was unaccustomed to and remain to this day unaccustomed.
      I believe that the left wing conflates these two things completely and inseparably in their minds; good is effective is good. Not effective is bad. But other wings recognize that sometimes a thing is simply effective or not, without also being good or bad.

    • Good can have a range of meaning. I prefer the Thomistic approach, which defines “good” as something like “succeeding at being”. Good does not have to refer to morality exclusivly. And effective would simply be a subset of good.
      A car which has a working motor and four wheels is good. It is effective at transporting a person. A car with a broken engine or a missing wheel is still a car, but isn’t as “good”.
      A human, given that what distinguishes man is the heightened ability to reason and use reason to govern action, is “good” to the extent it uses reason to arrive at proper behavior, or is this acting morally. Thus reason certainly is “good” for survival, because it is part of the essence of that which makes us human.
      Some reasoning is objectively better than other reasoning. You certainly must agree with that if you think your retorts here have any validity.

    • My statement was: “For a man’s survival, reason is good.”
      Change “good” to “useful”.
      Reason(ing) is useful for a man’s survival as it is an effective method at solving problems which if not solved leads to demise.
      “good” is sometimes a synonym for effective or useful or tasty or a great many other things but is somewhat imprecise unless the context is more clearly established.

  64. Michael2 said:
    “Good and bad are moral judgments and serve as social clues as to who is to be admired and followed ”
    Michael- if you were alone on a desert island, that is when you would learn that your life depends on moral judgements. The idea that values are social cues is so far off the mark I’m pretty well convinced you are not prepared to discuss morality because you don’t really know what it is.
    You might try to define your terms, if your wish is to discuss this topic. Although idiosyncratic, they may still make sense if you provide the definition. I really must insist on this because meaninglessness has no value for me.
    Good and Bad are value judgements. A value judgement presupposes answers to the questions ‘of value to whom’ and ‘of value for what purpose’
    This is what a standard of value is used for – to create a heirarchy of values. Please define what is the standard of values for a human being. Again, I must insist.
    Morality is the science of choice. Choices are based on evaluation. A standard of value is required for a morality to exist. Choice is required for something to fall within the domain of morality.
    Once again, I insist that you define what is morality. You persist in making no sense and that will not be tolerated. It’s the price you must pay for having a rational discussion. If you can not afford this, then you’ll have to go to sally ann.
    JohnKnight –
    see definition of ‘morality’ above.
    N.B. it does not apply to lions.
    Also, your sloppy and ill defined vocabulary has got morality conflated with ethics.
    Ethics is not morality. That’s why there are 2 different words – so you can tell them apart.
    Define ‘ethics’ and I’ll entertain further discussion. Refuse or fail and that’s it. Nobody owes you a first chance much less a second chance. That’s real life. Get some if you’re worth it.

    • gnomish “Michael- if you were alone on a desert island, that is when you would learn that your life depends on moral judgements.”
      That is probably more correct than you intended. That desert island is Diego Garcia and my aloneness largely a product of not knowing anyone else there. It was also the most amazing place to operate an amateur radio transmitter. I sent Morse code all the way around the planet and hit the antenna on the backside a moment later and I could hear my own transmission.
      But lets see if you wrote something profound in all that.
      “You might try to define your terms”
      I have defined my terms ad tedium. Morality is what is right, immorality is what is wrong, defined by the Authority of right and wrong.
      Where the authority is God, right and wrong becomes fixed for all people everywhere (more or less), and you can build a society on that foundation (Rosseau has somewhat to say on this topic).
      If the Authority is removed and it becomes democratic, “morality” becomes “ethics”.
      Ethics can change daily. Ethics is created by sociology departments where “wrong” doesn’t exist. Criminal behavior doesn’t exist in sociology; it isn’t even deviant. Just differently motivated. I very much enjoyed sociology in college; where else can one get a degree in absurdity? While there is some science in sociology (it’s an “ology” after all), that’s not its purpose. More on this in a moment.
      “The idea that values are social cues is so far off the mark I’m pretty well convinced you are not prepared to discuss morality because you don’t really know what it is.”
      I know perfectly well what it is. What I don’t know is what you think it is.
      “Morality is the science of choice.”
      You repeatedly surprise me with your commentary. That is what makes you interesting. Naturally it also makes it nearly impossible to know whether we are having a conversation or this is a failing Turing test. I wonder if anyone else on Earth defines it as you do? Let’s google it and see if you are having a true original thought or if, more likely, you have been indoctrinated in the New Religion of humanism:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_of_morality
      “Critics include physicist Sean M. Carroll, who argues that morality cannot be part of science.”
      “Stephen Jay Gould argued that science and religion occupy ‘non-overlapping magisteria’. To Gould, science is concerned with questions of fact and theory, but not with meaning and morality – the magisteria of religion.”
      So you are what you criticize! You are critical of intelligent designers dragging science into their domain; yet here you are dragging religion into your domain.
      Perhaps you take the view: “moral scientists defend the position that such a division between values and scientific facts is not only arbitrary and illusory, but impeding progress towards taking action against documented cases of human rights violations in different cultures.”
      So, you have this new religion, humanism, and you have created new rights and new wrongs and have no problem imposing your sense of rights and wrongs on other people.
      What exactly is a “human right”? It is whatever you want it to be.
      “You persist in making no sense and that will not be tolerated.”
      Nobody asked you to tolerate it in the first place. You are a guest here and so am I.

  65. JohnKnight – as an act of ‘good faith’…lol
    The first question was:
    “Male lions have been observed killing the offspring of other male lions. Is this immoral, wrong. bad, whatever one might call it?”
    Morality does not apply to lions. Value judgements are not something they do.
    Right or wrong are moral evaluations and for the same reason this is inapplicable. You may as well ask is a lion’s behavior reddish green or fragrant.
    Being killed is bad for the one whose life is extinguished – its standard of value (over which it has no ability to choose) is negated. That’s a really close fit to the definition of ‘bad’, isn’t it?
    One supposes it must be good for the killer, if it’s become a selected trait. I don’t know lions, though, so I won’t speculate further.
    Your second question was:
    “Male humans exist . . if some kill the offspring of other male humans, have they done something immoral, wrong, bad, whatever?”
    Now, except for one’s own sons, every single male human is the offspring of some other male human.
    Apart from the unnecessary tangle of verbiage, this lacks context.
    Without much effort I can conceive of a context in which killing the offspring of some other male H. sapiens may be the moral, right and good decision for somebody.
    It’s easy to think up a situation where it’s wrong.
    So killing somebody can be a moral issue. It can be an ethical issue.
    In war, choice has been constrained severely; killing or dying is the only issue. It is inappropriate to characterize a situation as a moral issue if it’s a matter of not getting annihilated..
    Ethics is what you are about to define, because now it’s your turn to demonstrate sincerity.

    • gnomish,
      Thanks for answering so patiently, that was kind of you. .
      “Now, except for one’s own sons, every single male human is the offspring of some other male human.
      Apart from the unnecessary tangle of verbiage, this lacks context.”
      Let’s put them in a similar context the lions are in, so to speak. . Hypothetically to some extent, perhaps an earlier time, away from “civilization”, low population density, in which survival of the men’s own children might depend on less “competition” for scarce resources. Would they be doing something immoral, wrong or whatever, in your eyes?

      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifeboat_ethics
        This ground has been well trodden.
        But they don’t show the sleight of mind involved in that trick, do they?
        So I guess I may as well.
        Note that the context is contrived such that the alternative is ‘kill or die’.
        Note the definition of ‘morality’.
        Use logic to deduce that where there is no choice, right and wrong do not apply.
        Then ask yourself what sort of person would try to confuse you about right and wrong?
        Ethics?

        • gnomish writes “where there is no choice, right and wrong do not apply.”
          Says you. Right and wrong always apply to things that are at any time right or wrong; it may be expedient to do a wrong thing.
          “Then ask yourself…”
          No need; you have asked it…
          “what sort of person would try to confuse you about right and wrong?”
          An atheist or a narcissist.

      • gnomish,
        “This ground has been well trodden.”
        This way of seeing things is alien to me . . I’m not “covering ground” here, not relating our words to any previous discussions by anyone at all. I am just me, trying to relate to you (in this instance), This “ground” is untrodden, unscripted, unanticipated to a great extent.
        “Note that the context is contrived such that the alternative is ‘kill or die’.”
        No, you misunderstand, that is not the situation I described. Lions do not kill the cubs of other lions because they face a “kill or die” situation. I meant just what I said, a similar context, not some moment of crisis wherein people are starving in the immediate sense. There is a “lifeboat” like quality to survival in the natural world, in an abstract sense, and it was just that abstract sense I meant to evoke.
        This is what I make of your responses overall, in trying to grasp how you view these matters; Humans can understand the concept of right and wrong, therefore they are “responsible” in some sense, which lions are not, if they do what you see as wrong. Not what they see as wrong (moral relativism), but what you see as wrong . As though you expect those men I conjured up to see such things as you do, as though their were “rules” of some sort that humans are responsible for following, or they do wrong.
        Seriously, I’m trying to explore your understanding. I would have answered; No, to human aspect of the question, if the non existence of God were a given (on atheism, in logic lingo). They cannot be doing wrong, by insuring the survival of their offspring, anymore than a lion can be. The difference in IQ or conceptual dexterity or whatever, has virtually nothing to do with it.
        Those men have no obligation to conform to any “ethical” anything that you or I might devise of imagine, based on a purely “materialistic” world-view, it seems to me . . anymore than you or I would have any obligation to conform to some other humans particular “ethical” standards . . To (some of) the Nazis’ minds it was apparently ethical to remove various people from the gene-pool so to speak, for the “common good” as they perceived it. If there is no “higher Authority”, I don’t see how one can rightly argue they were doing anything “wrong”.
        If you disagree, please explain. I want to understand how you deal with these complex matters, not to trap or belittle you. I am not your better or your judge or whatever, to my mind. I am just man like you.

        • JohKnight writes “I want to understand how you deal with these complex matters, not to trap or belittle you.”
          Well I certainly enjoy a good trap. That’s the essence of playing chess. Nothing beats the joy of forking the queen with your knight.
          http://www.chess.com/blog/sebastiancremor/queen-fork
          If you are from South Africa it might sound like something else 😉 but it isn’t that.
          Atheism has several traps inherent. The first is that it ought not to be an “ism”; by merely asserting the non-existence of an “ism” it ought not to become its own “ism” but as we see asserted “atheist literature” presumably exists, meaning it really is an “ism” of its own and not just an anti-ism.
          The second trap is that to deny the existence of God, one must define God — the very act of which converts the discussion to that of a “straw-god” easily agreed by all parties to not exist.
          It is extremely rare for a conversation to proceed beyond these two traps and have the atheist willing to discuss the possible existence of what he doesn’t consider to be “god” but maybe I do; and for me to be willing to consider his reasons for believing NOTHING exists that he cannot detect; not merely that he hasn’t detected it, but that nobody can for there’s nothing to detect. Normally that would take a great deal of faith but the realm of argumentation can be given “ground rules” making at least the argument proceed toward some goal.

      • Michael 2,
        “Atheism has several traps inherent.”
        In a sense I agree, but in another I do not. For though I believe God exists, I do not expect others to think or act as though He does, in reasoning/discussing, anyway. In reality-land I perceive that many if not most who claim they don’t believe He exists, still think and act as though He does, to a considerable extent.
        That’s how it seems to me glomish is thinking/acting here, but I am just a man and could be wrong (which I too prove quite often, tiresome as it may be ; ). I was not a Theist for most of my life, till I was in my early forties, I was what we used to refer to as a “strong agnostic”, which some now seek to redefine as atheist. I didn’t believe in God, didn’t (consciously) think or act as though one existed.
        But, I saw that gaping chasm of no real “moral ground” to stand upon. . and I did not want to go there, so to speak. I had to remain an agnostic, it seems to me, if for no other reason than to keep that dark abyss at bay. I felt much distress and frustration when I perceived or encountered “evil” in the world, and could tell I was not going to surrender that “moral ground” come what may. It wasn’t in me to . . it was impossible for me to, as far as I could tell.
        Now it makes sense to me, but then it was a lonely stand, and I hate to see people caught in such a state as I was. People who sense evil, recognizing it for what it is, hating it, but having no truly logical basis for hating it. That’s the trap of a-theism as I experienced it.

    • Gnomish says “So killing somebody can be a moral issue. It can be an ethical issue.”
      I appreciate your candor.

  66. Gnomish said: “Good and Bad are value judgements. A value judgement presupposes answers to the questions ‘of value to whom’ and ‘of value for what purpose’
    This is what a standard of value is used for – to create a heirarchy of values. Please define what is the standard of values for a human being. Again, I must insist.”
    That standard is God. Either it is God, or it is man. If it is man, then morals, laws, etc., have no objective weight. Morality and laws boil down to subjective choice akin to whether or not you prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
    I’d argue, there must be a god on these grounds, because the alternative is that there must be cases where man can choose just whatever moral codes he sees fit – as a true personal preference. We don’t see this. We see consistent basic moral laws around the world and throughout history which have the basics in common – don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t steal, etc. Much of the variation in the moral codes deals with differences of views about matters of fact. In the debate over abortion, as an example, you have one side saying that abortion is morally wrong because it is equivalent to murder, and the other side arguing that abortion is not murder because a fetus is not a human. What neither side will argue is “murder is morally acceptable”.
    We don’t criticize lions for eating their young because we don’t believe lions are moral agents. But if morality is subjective, I fail to see how the subjectivist makes the distinction between lions and humans here.

    • Justin,
      And yet we owe the word “ethics” and its first systematic philosophical exposition to a pagan, Aristotle, who did not invoke the gods in his analysis. Medieval Scholastic philosophers later tried to square Aristotle with Christian thought.
      So no God or gods required.
      Pagans of course were generally OK with slavery, child sex and other practices now considered morally abhorrent in the West (although still condoned elsewhere), but that fact doesn’t detract from the continuing intellectual power of Aristotle’s Ethics. For most of its history, Christianity was also OK with slavery, until in the late 18th century some Western European Christians took their cue on it from Enlightenment critics and mockers of religion.

      • Gloateus Maximus wrote “And yet we owe the word ethics and its first systematic philosophical exposition to a pagan, Aristotle, who did not invoke the gods in his analysis. … So no God or gods required.”
        That’s like saying no gods are required in atheism.
        Ethics is what you get when you remove god from morality. Ethics is for you whatever you want it to be because no authority on ethics exists or can exist.

      • Michael,
        Nope. Neither ethics nor morality requires a god.
        The distinction between ethics and morals might seem arbitrary, but there is a basic difference, and it has nothing to do with religion.
        Morals reflect personal character and behavior, while ethics reflect a social system in which those morals are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which individuals belong. These standards could include national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can depend on others’ standards.
        Consider the difference between the ethics and morals of a criminal defense lawyer. While the lawyer’s personal moral code probably finds murder immoral and reprehensible, his or her professional ethics require that the accused client be defended as vigorously as possible, even when the lawyer knows the party is guilty and that a freed defendant would potentially lead to more crime. Legal ethics must override personal morals for the greater good of upholding a justice system in which the accused are given a fair trial and the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
        Hope this helps.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes: “Neither ethics nor morality requires a god.”
          Nor have I argued for it. What I argue is that either requires an authority and god is the greatest possible authority; the more transcendent the god the more unchanging and thus reliable and well-known is the authority and its moral laws. This is a two-edge sword of course since you might actually want to change something (clergy celibacy for instance) but you cannot without damaging claims to authority.
          Whether you can build a society on it depends on how widespread is a mutually accepted ethics/morality. Narcissists are famously their own authority. Libertarians acknowledge other authorities but might not obey that authority. Sheep follow meekly whatever authority gets their attention first.
          “The distinction between ethics and morals might seem arbitrary, but there is a basic difference, and it has nothing to do with religion.”
          While I will concur with most of your argument I argue that religion is inseparable from morality specifically and at a small remove, also ethics.
          Religion creates morality; morality breeds ethics. But it is a circle of influence; people with ethics alter their morality, and Religion follows. Many American Christian denominations are now marrying same-sex partners that a generation ago would have been excommunicated. Clearly there is no unchanging god directing those particular affairs and those particular churches/denominations; religion has followed ethics in some/many instances, sometimes embraced, sometimes compelled.
          “Morals reflect personal character and behavior”
          Almost agree. I would say personal character reflects morality. Morality comes first, a person then adopts (or not) those morals; and having adopted them, exhibits or “reflects” them. For instance, I was introduced to many moral laws before I learned their value and started obeying them. Morality is not the product or consequence, it is the causative agent, at least for me. A person of “good character” obeys moral laws even when no witness or judge is present.
          “In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which individuals belong.”
          Agreed and well stated. Ethics will usually be manifest in law, morality usually not. Morality was until recently often found in law but with too much variance in morality what remains is ethics. I wonder how long that will last.
          Lawyers, as you explain, might be expected to have significant differences between their morality and their ethics. That is one reason I have chosen not to be a lawyer since I do not wish to have a schism between my ethics and my morality. My code of telling the truth doesn’t have a lawyer exception. I don’t have to tell ALL of it all the time; but I am very strongly opposed to lying. A society cannot exist on a foundation of people lying. It might also have some difficulty if everyone always told the whole truth but I doubt it has ever been tried.
          I am philosophically libertarian; and what that means to me is that I do not impose my morality on you. While I may consider your behavior wrong, it is not my duty to correct your behavior. If your behaviors and beliefs introduce some lack of tranquility in society well then I’ll do my civic duty and comment on such things as I am doing here and now in particular with gnomish.

      • Michael,
        No authority is needed, whether of god or man, unless laws, rules and extralegal censure for misbehavior in violating norms be considered authorities.
        Simple societies have norms which no authority handed down, but have become customary. More complex societies have laws and regulations, often based upon societal norms. But there is rarely (as eg in Hammurabi’s Code), and needn’t be at all, an authority dictating personal morality and group ethics. Bar and medical associations could I guess be considered such authorities in establishing professional ethics.

        • Gloateus Maximus writes “No authority is needed, whether of god or man, unless laws, rules and extralegal censure for misbehavior in violating norms be considered authorities.”
          Authority cannot be escaped.
          Laws — where do they come from? Whoever posits and enforces a law is authority, from the word author.
          Every thought, every word ever spoken, has an author. If that word tells you to do something, or not do something, it is claiming authority.
          If you obey any thing written or spoken by any other person, that person is your authority. You have them at work. You have them at home. Sometimes authorities conflict or are rival over a thing; and you must choose among them according to precedence and power and consequence to yourself.
          Pascal’s Wager relates.

      • Gloateus says, “And yet we owe the word “ethics” and its first systematic philosophical exposition to a pagan, Aristotle, who did not invoke the gods in his analysis. Medieval Scholastic philosophers later tried to square Aristotle with Christian thought.
        So no God or gods required.”
        This assumes Aristotle (of whom I’m fond) got it 100% correct instead of 95% correct. And yes, I’m a big fan of Aquinas, who did synthesize quite a bit of Aristotle and Christianity (he was among other contributing philosophers who did so).
        I don’t think making a distinction between ethics and morals changes the calculus of the argument here. Some practical (and complex) social constructs are a result of humans having imperfect knowledge of relevant facts as well as imperfect reasoning skills.

      • In other words, if Aristotle does not properly ground morals and ethics, then the whole house of cards collapses. Lots of theories of morality and ethics reach the same identical conclusions except in perhaps some fringe cases. However, those houses, too, collapse if the basic foundation they rest on is not sound. Often they ultimately will boil down to a hopeless subjectivity such as “might makes right”, which is to say, not a very good theory at all.
        So, perhaps some would criticize not Aristotle’s outworking of morals and ethics, but rather his starting point, which does seem lacking.

  67. Michael2 – are you ready to be dissected?
    Your fantasy of a supreme authority is the means by which you hope to evade morality.
    The fantasy of divinity is how you hope to ennoble this corruption.
    Your wish is that obedience (‘thy will, not mine’) to authority somehow absolve you of responsibility for your own decisions.
    And little wonder there be that you can not define morality – you don’t dare to.
    Submission to authority is the death of morality. It is not possible to be moral by negating morality.
    Obedience is immoral. It only adds to your sins.
    So this is not about making sense of our world, for you. This is a quest for absolution.
    You have found your cross in the mirror.

  68. gnomish: “Michael2 – are you ready to be dissected?”
    I have made no preparations for such an event.
    “Your fantasy of a supreme authority is the means by which you hope to evade morality.”
    As that made no sense whatsoever I’m not sure whether to agree, disagree or just wonder at it.
    Finding authorities over any particular realm is pretty easy. Finding the supreme authority over any particular field requires competitions; chess master for instance. An authority over everything does not exist in this world or in this life; so to a certain extent this supreme authority over Life, the Universe and Everything must be imagined — sometimes with a bit of help from others, sometimes with a bit of help from that Authority itself.
    “The fantasy of divinity is how you hope to ennoble this corruption.”
    That does not compute!
    “Your wish is that obedience to authority somehow absolve you of responsibility for your own decisions.”
    I have many wishes, right now I wish I had a DJI Inspire quadcopter.
    Obedience to authority IS my decision. But just as there are many authorities, each is limited in scope as to what it can authorize (allow) or command (require). Disobedience to authority is anarchy.
    “And little wonder there be that you can not define morality – you don’t dare to.”
    Morality is what is good and right. That’s not very helpful I suppose. In the absence of a specific goal, what is good and right might not have meaning. So I introduce my goal; eternal life and happiness in that life and this one. What achieves that goal is good, what prevents that goal is bad. Moral pertains to good behavior, behavior that leads to accomplishment of happiness in this life and the next. If I can lead not only myself but others to happiness, so much the better.
    “Submission to authority is the death of morality.”
    Submission to proper authority is the essence of morality; doing what is right is a mere accident if you do not know what is right. Right is defined by a moral authority.
    You on the other hand seem to favor anarchy. Why is that?
    “Obedience is immoral. It only adds to your sins.”
    So you believe in sin. Well, that’s a start. It is clear you are an anti-theist and not merely atheist. You have the essential concepts of religion, and the words of religion, but of opposite polarity in meaning.
    “You have found your cross in the mirror.”
    Well, actually, I found it in the jewelry box; several exist. Most or all came from my mother-in-law. I suspect there may be a meta-meaning to your comment but it eludes me.

    • Michael,
      I think you’re arguing with someone who 1) doesn’t understand what religious people actually believe, and as a result tosses out straw man after straw man in a self-contradictory, rambling style, and 2) cannot address logical contradictions in his own statements of belief.
      It’s almost some form of atheistic gnosticism with a sophistic flare.

      • Justin writes “tosses out straw man after straw man in a self-contradictory, rambling style”
        Indeed. One can be frustrated by it or see it as an opportunity; although I wrestle between my desire to play Religion Chess versus humbly laying out my beliefs so that readers can ignore the “straw gods”, with an emphasis on my respect for science because of the nature of this blog.
        I am scientific AND religious at the same time. It is rare for conflict to exist (admitting it does occasionally exist). My bigger conflict is with sociology and religion since sociology is, for many purposes, a rival religion.

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