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WHERE DOES EVOLUTION LEAVE GOD? - Comments

TheVirginian's Avatar Comment 1 by TheVirginian

Armstrong's argument is a lot of vaporous, historically false nonsense. Of course, sophisticated thinkers have recognized the obvious problem that myths often conflict with known facts about the world. It's not surprising that they reinterpret myths in ways that avoid embarassment. But if a myth is so malleable that it can be rewritten the moment it becomes inconvenient, then it's worthless for anything except literary amusement. Nothing wrong with that, per se.

Except ... throughout history people have killed or died for myths. Christians butchered millions precisely because they understood their god to demand specific actions, and punished anyone who disobeyed. Pagans in Europe were exterminated; Jews brutalized, repressed and murdered; Africans enslaved; and American Indians nearly exterminated because of specific Christian beliefs.

Yes, you can find secular causes for these actions, too. But if not for Christians' literal interpretations of what Armstrong now claims are merely myths, Christians would not have targeted non-Christians for annihilation or repression. Christians' literal beliefs determined who was a target, who deserved to be killed or enslaved. No amount of doubletalk or historical revisionism can change the role of beliefs in these myths.

I hope Armstrong is merely ignorant, but I suspect she actually is this dishonest.

BTW, this mind end up being the first comment. No other posts when I started writing it. Now, to find out if I'm first ...

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:05:00 UTC | #396165

TheVirginian's Avatar Comment 2 by TheVirginian

Second comment ... Yeeeee-eeessss!
Couldn't resist cheering for once. I usually don't get on a thread until it's been pretty well worked over, due to my work schedule.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:06:00 UTC | #396166

Bala's Avatar Comment 3 by Bala

This is just playing with semantics. If people thought of myths as only allegorical and symbolic before the 17th century they wudnt have burnt 'witches' at the stake.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:11:00 UTC | #396167

Thomas Byrne's Avatar Comment 4 by Thomas Byrne

Karen Armstrong always makes me lol.
Instead of just ditching the obviously false myths she'd rather say they were allegory. Of course, we all know here that once you start doing that the books of faith can mean anything you want them to.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:16:00 UTC | #396168

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 5 by Carl Sai Baba

Karen Armstrong sure does assume a lot about the minds of the common folk 500 years ago.

I would like to know how she is certain that people back then widely believed the kind of "sophisticated theology" (usually even more absurd than literalism) which is today only espoused by a handful of weirdos like McGrath or D'Souza. Everyone else, including many educated apologists, really do believe a lot of their legends.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:41:00 UTC | #396174

epeeist's Avatar Comment 6 by epeeist

One of the other professors at Oxford wrote some nice children's books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. The first of these contains this character - http://rudnaya.tripod.com/books/alice31a.gif

Karen Armstrong's god strikes me as much like the Cheshire Cat, gradually fading away. But, like the dragon in Carl Sagan's garage, how are we to tell whether her god has just faded away or whether he was never there in the first place?

And the last paragraph, and especially last sentence, of Richard's piece is a killer.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:44:00 UTC | #396175

robaylesbury's Avatar Comment 7 by robaylesbury

My oh my. Isn't Miss Armstrong's diety vapourous, superfluous, and unneccesary.

I attended Church for 12 years, and you can bet that its patrons believe in a personal, tangible, very real God. To posit otherwise is just dishonest.

I used to regard the church elders as wise. They appeared so poised and well mannered and, er, well, just middle classed. The last time I spoke to one it came to light that he didn't even know that the Gospel authors were anonymous. And this from a man whom had been a Christian for 30 years plus.

Its institutional ignorance.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:47:00 UTC | #396176

David A Robertson's Avatar Comment 8 by David A Robertson

The Virginian - interesting that you talk about 'vapourous historically false nonsense' and then go on to spout it. 'Christians butchered millions precisely because they understood their god to demand specific actions and punished anyone who disobeyed'. Perhaps you could provide the evidence for this completely mythical statement? (please note the use of the term 'evidence' - this does not mean what you believe or the various atheist myths that circulate).

As for the two pieces themselves - both are theologically and philosophically illiterate. Armstrong's reads as meaningless waffle. Dawkins just repeats his constant mantra - evolution does away with God because God would have to be complex. He also repeats his main article of faith - the laws of physics cannot be broken - a principle which is empirically unprovable. IN this latter respect I fid the following from Flew's 'There is a God' fascinating -

"When asked by the Edge Foundation.'what do you beleive is true even though you cannot prove it?' Dawkins replied: 'I beleive tht all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all design anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution, and therefore cannot underlie the universe'. At bottom,then, Dawkins's rejection of an ultimate Intelligence is a matter of belief without proof. And like many whose beliefs are based on blind faith, he cannot tolerate dissent or defection."

Now let the heresy hunt begin, as the true believers leap to the defence of the One True Faith....

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:52:00 UTC | #396177

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 9 by Jos Gibbons

“Karen Armstrong says we need God to grasp the wonder of our existence” – well, I don’t, but maybe some people do. Let’s see if she can at least justify that conclusion. Erm ... nope. I’ll just debunk some of her errors, or this will take forever.
“what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.” Stop using “transcendence” to mean “made up stuff I hope you won’t ask me to support with some real evidence”. If it “cannot be proved but is only intuited”, it is no better than a logical fallacy, such as affirming the consequent. And, “by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart”, I have yet to be led even to hypothesise anything transcendent or otherwise divine, let alone to actually know it’s there in a sense others should take seriously.
“Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life's struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a good myth showed you how to cope with mortality, discover an inner source of strength, and endure pain and sorrow with serenity.” This is simply lying. Logos is fine for assuaging concerns, provided the truth is comforting; if it is not, then any method of pleasing us involves self-deception, be it mythos or otherwise. And the idea that mythos never had pretensions to historical accuracy is absurd. It makes detailed historical claims, and claims those assertions as explanations for the state of the world. It’s doing everything in its power to look literal.
“There can never be a definitive version of a myth, because it refers to the more imponderable aspects of life. To remain effective, it must respond to contemporary circumstance.” No, the best way to keep the usage of myth up to date is to invent new myths amenable to modern people. Why stick to the old ones? It might be worth using myths today that don’t have slaves, for example.
“Religion was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason” – well, it has a jolly strange way of showing it!
“we cannot regard God simply as a divine personality, who single-handedly created the world.” You’re only saying that because a personal creator is now obviously wrong. But no-one can say that apriori, so stop acting as if your methods led there, Armstrong. What if it had turned out that the universe was made by an intelligence? Where would your ideas be then? If you are right, it is research, not tradition, that shows it.
“Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like music or painting, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is different from the purely rational and which cannot easily be put into words.” Rubbish. Art allows me to know things, but they are still known rationally. How does art allow me to know what effects art has on me? Because I experience those effects. I could even understand it neurologically if I used a brain scan. ALL knowledge is rational. You can make up any claim you like, on one condition: you either support it with evidence, or you don’t get taken seriously. Stop pretending otherwise.
“At its best, it holds us in an attitude of wonder, which is, perhaps, not unlike the awe that Mr. Dawkins experiences” – so its best is what can be achieved without it?

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 06:53:00 UTC | #396178

Cluebot's Avatar Comment 10 by Cluebot

So, Karen Armstrong needs God to grasp the wonder of the Universe? I'm sorry to hear she lives under such an impoverishing debilitation; I've found the concept to be highly corrosive to appreciation of the Universe - a belittling distraction.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:01:00 UTC | #396181

byrlink's Avatar Comment 11 by byrlink

The almost unbearable spectacle of the myriad species passing painfully into oblivion is not unlike some classic Buddhist meditations on the First Noble Truth ("Existence is suffering"), the indispensable prerequisite for the transcendent enlightenment that some call Nirvana—and others call God.


Christians argue for the significance and almost vital importance of suffering in our improvement as "spiritual beings", yet I still haven't heard their explanation in which they reconcile the notion of a loving god with his utter indifference towards the non-human creatures he kindly blew into existence.
What purpose or goal have the constant experimentation of pain, achieved with almost identical nervous systems as ours, without the prospect of the "strengthening and enrichment of the soul"?

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:10:00 UTC | #396183

epeeist's Avatar Comment 12 by epeeist

Comment #414213 by robaylesbury:

I attended Church for 12 years, and you can bet that its patrons believe in a personal, tangible, very real God. To posit otherwise is just dishonest.
The "Christians" in the UK (i.e. those who put themselves down as the default "Church of England" on things like hospital admission forms but don't actually attend church) would seem to be more deists than anything else. A weak belief in Jesus (but little knowledge of when he purportedly lived or what he supposedly did apart from the highlights, i.e the birth and death, possibly the sermon on the mount) and a vague and fuzzy belief in something acting as a creator.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:21:00 UTC | #396186

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 13 by Barry Pearson

I got fed up with religious people diverting discussions with such vacuous versions of God in order to retain the possibility during a debate that there was some kind of god. So when asked what I believe in, if I have time I get my retaliation in first. My statements are intended to keep the discussion focused on what religious people typically really believe:

- I believe that the universe operates solely via unintelligent forces and processes.

- I believe that religions are man-made, without divine input.

- I believe that when you pray, you are talking to yourself; that miracles don't happen; and that when our brains die, we will never experience anything again.

- In 20 years, I have not become aware of any reason to doubt these beliefs.

Then I say that I am an atheist, and don't believe gods exist!

http://www.barrypearson.co.uk/articles/gods/me.htm

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:33:00 UTC | #396187

David A Robertson's Avatar Comment 14 by David A Robertson

Once again Atheist fundamentalists prove that they are such sensitive souls that in the words of Corporal Fraser 'they don't liek it up 'em'. Could you please let me know what was so offensive about the following post that it had to be trolled? How pathetic that, rather than answer a perfectly serious point or two, you just have to ban it, so that sensitive atheists will not be upset or have their faith questioned. Grow up.

1. Comment #414214 by David A Robertson on September 12, 2009 at 7:52 am
The Virginian - interesting that you talk about 'vapourous historically false nonsense' and then go on to spout it. 'Christians butchered millions precisely because they understood their god to demand specific actions and punished anyone who disobeyed'. Perhaps you could provide the evidence for this completely mythical statement? (please note the use of the term 'evidence' - this does not mean what you believe or the various atheist myths that circulate).

As for the two pieces themselves - both are theologically and philosophically illiterate. Armstrong's reads as meaningless waffle. Dawkins just repeats his constant mantra - evolution does away with God because God would have to be complex. He also repeats his main article of faith - the laws of physics cannot be broken - a principle which is empirically unprovable. IN this latter respect I fid the following from Flew's 'There is a God' fascinating -

"When asked by the Edge Foundation.'what do you beleive is true even though you cannot prove it?' Dawkins replied: 'I beleive tht all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all design anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution, and therefore cannot underlie the universe'. At bottom,then, Dawkins's rejection of an ultimate Intelligence is a matter of belief without proof. And like many whose beliefs are based on blind faith, he cannot tolerate dissent or defection."

Now let the heresy hunt begin, as the true believers leap to the defence of the One True Faith....

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:37:00 UTC | #396188

ods15's Avatar Comment 15 by ods15

by epeeist:

The "Christians" in the UK (i.e. those who put themselves down as the default "Church of England" on things like hospital admission forms but don't actually attend church) would seem to be more deists than anything else. A weak belief in Jesus (but little knowledge of when he purportedly lived or what he supposedly did apart from the highlights, i.e the birth and death, possibly the sermon on the mount) and a vague and fuzzy belief in something acting as a creator.

I think religion in Israel is very similar, at least in the more liberal areas. However, tradition is still VERY strong regardless. Many Israelis would be reluctant to answer if they believe there actually is a god, even very religious ones (! what a contradiction in terms..), but they would not dare not read the "hagada" at passover, or celebrate bar mitsvas, or not hang mezuzahs at their doors, or circumcise their children... At least this is my experience.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:41:00 UTC | #396189

hfaber's Avatar Comment 16 by hfaber

Ohoh, small typo by Richard.

A divine designer is all but ruled out by the consideration that he must BE at least as complex as the entities he was wheeled out to explain.

Considering I am from Holland I must be some kind of god to notice it.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 07:46:00 UTC | #396191

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 18 by SaintStephen

It isn't all that good, but I tried to edit Karen's essay for improved comprehension:

Symbolism was essential to premodern Santa Claus theory, because it was only possible to speak about the religious reality—Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster—analogically, since it lay beyond the reach of honest people. Jews and Christians both developed audaciously innovative and figurative methods of reading Aesop’s Fables, and every statement of its ridiculous Islamic counterpart is more accurately called a fabrication ("baldfaced lie"). St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if Aesop’s text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically. This remained standard practice in the West until the 17th century, when in an effort to emulate the exact scientific method, Christians began to write Christmas cards with a literalness that is without parallel in the history of Christmas.

Most cultures believed that there were two recognized ways of arriving at truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was superior to the other; they were not in conflict but complementary, each with its own sphere of competence. Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not penetrate thick theist skulls or find answers to their lazy, ill-posed, and uneducated questions. For that people turned to complete fabrications, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of mental delusion; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a clever lie showed you how to deny your mortality, discover a false sense of security, and endure the weekly tithing and collection baskets with beatific grins.

In the ancient world, a cosmology was not regarded as factual but was primarily fictional; it was recited ad nauseam when people needed a kick in the ass from that mysterious power that had—somehow—brought the Vatican tidy profits out of primal nothingness: donations from people on their deathbeds, weddings, or during Republican primaries. Some cosmologies taught people how to start their own snake oil businesses, others made them aware of the punishments required to keep the cash flowing. Holy Holes of Holiness, written during a pedophilic coupling in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against out of fashion Babylonian style trysts. Its vision of a gullible congregation where every child had a pious, priestly predator was probably consoling to Vatican officials, though—as we’ve seen in more recent years—some of the bishops preferred a much more aggressive duck and cover drill.

There can never be any truth to myths, because they are… well, myths. To remain effective, myths must repeated as if they were true again, and again, and again. In the 19th century, when settlers were being expelled from one region of America after another, the mystic Joseph Smith constructed an entirely new set of lies that bore only passing resemblance to the story of Jebus. But instead of being reviled for the silly twaddle it was, it inspired a mass-movement called Mormonism, because it was such a telling description of the cynical, loopy world they thrived in; backed up with Holy Underpants and special rituals, it also helped polygamists face up to their multiple wives and discover hidden reserves of man goo.

Santa Claus theory was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason but to help religious wingnuts live profitably in motorhomes and mansions for which there are no easy payment plans and find interior decorators who weren’t gay; today, however, many have opted for unsustainable mortgages instead. But why can’t we respond with mental delusions to evolutionary theory? Why can’t we use Faith to recover the losses sustained during the Clinton years?

Darwin made it clear once again that—as Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and Harris have repeatedly pointed out—nobody sane could regard God as a divine personality who single-handedly created the world. This could direct our attention away from the idols of religion and totally destroy my own fatuous "God beyond God" bullshit. The best theology is a financial exercise, akin to Collateralized Debt Obligations. Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like terrible music or finger paintings, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is completely useless yet still costs money. At its best, it holds the thickheaded in attitudes of befuddlement, which is, certainly, unlike anything that Mr. Dawkins experiences—and has helped me to saddle up my fleshy white thighs around his literary horse —when he contemplates the marvels of natural selection.

But what of the truth and incredible beauty that Darwin unveiled? All the major traditions insist that the faithful donate weekly following long sermons that become an inescapable part of life; because, if we do not acknowledge this uncomfortable fact, the rape, murder, and pedophilia that lurk behind the façade of faith is impossible to promulgate. The amazing truth of our existence on Earth is completely unrelated to the sentimental religious tripe called the First Noble Truth ("Existence is suffering"), the indispensable prerequisite handjobs that some preachers call altar boy Nirvana—and to just about everything ($$$) I hold dear.

Sorry for that. It's bedtime.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:05:00 UTC | #396195

Barack's Avatar Comment 17 by Barack

Both interesting articles - though Armstrong's is harder to follow.

Just one question - why has David Robertson's response been sin-binned? I see that he has now posted it on the WJ website as a 'banned' post from the Dawkins website. Do we need to give this kind of ammunition? Why not just deal with his posts? As far as I can see there was nothing particularly offensive in what he said (apart from the wind up about 'faith'). The fact that he has been removed kind of proves his point. Can we not be a little more mature in dealing with those who disagree with us?

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:05:00 UTC | #396194

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 19 by Nunbeliever

"St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if a biblical text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically."


Well, I really like the tought she's presenting.... but unfortunately it is nonsense. First of all I hardly think we can talk about science in the fourth century. And even if we could, what evidence does she put forth? As far as I can see it is just wishful thinking of hers.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:14:00 UTC | #396196

dulcie's Avatar Comment 20 by dulcie

Am I alone in detecting a rather unpleasant note in Karen Armstrong's views - that those who believe in God are somehow more compassionate and fully rounded as caring human beings than those who have not cultivated these "new capacities of mind and heart"?

Trying to treat with Armstrong's thesis without the bad taste it leaves in the mouth, it has to be conceded that there do seem to be some aberrant human creatures that lack compassion or any ability to put themselves into the shoes of their unfortunate victims - there have been several cases in the news recently. There are such aberrations in all walks of life - Roman Catholic priests included - and so we, as humanists, require them to undergo prison rehabilitation as a means of getting them to meditate upon the suffering they have caused and with any luck, to acknowledge it and reform.
Armstrong, though, needs to tack "faith" onto this process: "All the major traditions insist that the faithful meditate on the ubiquitous suffering that is an inescapable part of life; because, if we do not acknowledge this uncomfortable fact, the compassion that lies at the heart of faith is impossible."

Why is it "impossible"? Those aforementioned exceptions to the human norm aside, no faith whatsoever is needed in order to have compassion in the face of suffering - whether that suffering is man-made or existential. But maybe Armstrong's tedious and bizarre insistence on the need for faith saves her from having to acknowledge what an awful lot of time she's wasted up to now.....

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:16:00 UTC | #396197

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 21 by Roger Stanyard

Time to shoot the messanger!

Nobody with any brains or imagination takes the Wall Street Journal entirely seriously. It lost its credibility years ago under the wingnut Robert Bartley. It's notoriously partisan and bigoted, if not dishonest. The newspaper is locked years in the past and is about as dreary a newspaper as one can get.

(Note, I've been reading the business press for years and have published a number of business titles.)

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:20:00 UTC | #396198

epeeist's Avatar Comment 22 by epeeist

Comment #414231 by Barack:

Just one question - why has David Robertson's response been sin-binned?
In this particular case I don't see any reason why it should have been sent to the Alternate Comments thread. I wonder if he is down on an "auto-troll" list.
I see that he has now posted it on the WJ website as a 'banned' post from the Dawkins website.
I am convinced the Alternate Comments thread and auto-trolling are counter productive, even though they get rid of pests like Xenon54 and deeply offensive people such as ASMarques. As you say they give the likes of DAR the ability to crow elsewhere.

I would much rather see the ranking buttons working and posts that fall below a certain approval level be hidden from view but not removed from the flow. Still available to the curious as to what people such as DAR are actually saying.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:22:00 UTC | #396199

epeeist's Avatar Comment 23 by epeeist

To answer some of DAR's points in Comment #414225 that is now in the Alternate Comment thread

Could you please let me know what was so offensive about the following post that it had to be trolled? How pathetic that, rather than answer a perfectly serious point or two, you just have to ban it, so that sensitive atheists will not be upset or have their faith questioned. Grow up.
So, you have never deleted or moderate a post on your blog at http://www.stpeters-dundee.org.uk/. Never banned a user there? I seem to recall something about "not casting the first stone". If you can seriously claim that you have never done this then perhaps your point might be taken somewhat more seriously.
The Virginian - interesting that you talk about 'vapourous historically false nonsense' and then go on to spout it. 'Christians butchered millions precisely because they understood their god to demand specific actions and punished anyone who disobeyed'. Perhaps you could provide the evidence for this completely mythical statement? (please note the use of the term 'evidence' - this does not mean what you believe or the various atheist myths that circulate).
You actually want to claim that the crusades were not in large part a religious undertaking? That the Cathars were not essentially exterminated because of their supposed "heresy". That the thirty years war did not have a significantly religious context. One could give many more examples.
As for the two pieces themselves - both are theologically and philosophically illiterate. Armstrong's reads as meaningless waffle. Dawkins just repeats his constant mantra - evolution does away with God because God would have to be complex. He also repeats his main article of faith - the laws of physics cannot be broken - a principle which is empirically unprovable.
Bare assertions without warrant, there is no element of argument here. In what way are both pieces "theologically and philosophically illiterate"? And are you actually going to tackle the undermining of the argument from design that Darwin's theory produces or just whine about it again.

As for "the laws of physics cannot be broken - a principle which is empirically unprovable.", yes of course it is unprovable, we can't actually show that the "laws of physics" are universal, necessary and certain. At best we have some kind of practical certainty, with vast amounts of evidence to corroborate our theories. If you want to claim exceptions to these theories then it is down to you to demonstrate them. Got it Davey - the strong burden of proof is on you to demonstrate the exceptions. Whining (again) about them does not advance your case one bit.
"When asked by the Edge Foundation.'what do you beleive is true even though you cannot prove it?' Dawkins replied: 'I beleive tht all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all design anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution, and therefore cannot underlie the universe'.
So this is conjecture on his part. Fine, I have no problem with that.
At bottom,then, Dawkins's rejection of an ultimate Intelligence is a matter of belief without proof. And like many whose beliefs are based on blind faith, he cannot tolerate dissent or defection."
And here you show one reason for your removal to the alternate comment thread. There is nothing in the conjecture made by RD that justifies your last sentence. You make no argument for it, you present no evidence for it. You make (yet another) emotional and loaded statement, whether to generate a flame war, to gather material you can use elsewhere or for some other reason I really wouldn't know.
Now let the heresy hunt begin, as the true believers leap to the defence of the One True Faith....
Ah, so its a flame war you want.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:50:00 UTC | #396207

godskesen's Avatar Comment 24 by godskesen

So Karen Armstrong's claim is that we need to believe metaphorically (whatever that means) that we are the center of the universe in order to literally feel like we are the center of the universe? Well then she may be right in the cases of many people. There probably are those who are raised to be so disappointed and disgusted with this world. But that's not really an existential problem, it's cultural (and cultures can be changed).

Dawkins's piece was good though.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 08:57:00 UTC | #396209

NFT's Avatar Comment 25 by NFT

Comment #414214 by David A Robertson
(on alternate comments thread)

He (RD) also repeats his main article of faith - the laws of physics cannot be broken - a principle which is empirically unprovable.


When you have any actual evidence (details please) that the laws of physics ever are broken by some supernatural entity, come back and tell us about it. Then you might have something worth saying.

I also agree, by the way, that auto-trolling David Robertson (if that is what is happening) is counter-productive, however vacuous and snide his comments may be. Why give him the satisfaction?

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:01:00 UTC | #396210

AllanW's Avatar Comment 26 by AllanW

DAR has spent the last two years proving himself to be a worthless troll on this site (the latest example of which epeeist demonstrates above) so the less we see of his vacuous, lying irrationality the better IMO.

The articles referred to in the WSJ are classics of their kind; waffle on one side, hard-edged science backed-up by reason and evidence on the other.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:18:00 UTC | #396211

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 27 by NewEnglandBob

David Robinson belongs in the alternative thread. He rarely has any real arguments and he is always irrational, emotional and malicious. He flings nonsense accusations with abandon. He is delusional in his beliefs and obfuscates facts because he has no rational stance. If it was my blog, he would be permanently banned.

As many have pointed out here, Armstrong's article is bordering on "New Age" woo. It is disgraceful.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:21:00 UTC | #396212

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 28 by zeerust2000

...what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence
That's not what I've heard.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:27:00 UTC | #396213

Barack's Avatar Comment 29 by Barack

I am not sure I understand how this works? If David Robertson replies to posts on this thread then are they left on this thread or automatically removed? If the latter then it is pointless either him replying - or others of us responding to posts that are not allowed to remain. It looks very bad and just provides him with the 'evidence' he needs. We are allowed to comment on him and his comments, but he is not allowed to reply or to answer our questions.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:28:00 UTC | #396214

AllanW's Avatar Comment 30 by AllanW

Barack, there is no censorship on this front page. Any comment found by sufficient members to be trolling, offensive or spamming is moved to the alternate comment thread. No deletion, no amendments, no censorship of any post (except by an author themselves if they so choose) just moved into the background so it doesn't detract from the flow of more honest, interesting and intelligent comments on the front.

edit; It seems a number of posters here still cannot understand the elegance and truth of this system; there is no censorship despite DAR continuing to repeat his falsehood about being banned, censored etc. Just because he keeps repeating the lie doesn't make it true, I'd have thought more people who browse here would have recognised that fact by now.

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 09:34:00 UTC | #396216