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← 3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People

3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People - Comments

ozturk's Avatar Comment 1 by ozturk

Excellent stuff. Those who claim to be modern believers, and not to believe in all that 'superstitious' old religion, should perhaps be called New Religionists. And perhaps the term should be spat out with the same cynical sneer in which New Atheists is used.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 19:45:00 UTC | #410091

DeusExNihilum's Avatar Comment 2 by DeusExNihilum

Damn good article, raising points I often raise myself.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:01:00 UTC | #410093

Mango's Avatar Comment 3 by Mango

Great piece, and deserves to be widely circulated.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:01:00 UTC | #410094

caraz84's Avatar Comment 4 by caraz84

yeah i don't get how religious folk can vote for someone to run the country when in their heads they know who rules the world

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:16:00 UTC | #410097

Blondin's Avatar Comment 5 by Blondin

It is so nice to come across articles like this that consolidate and articulate so many lucid ideas in such clear, concise form. Bravo!

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:36:00 UTC | #410102

carbonman's Avatar Comment 6 by carbonman

Clear thinking, clearly written.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:37:00 UTC | #410103

tieInterceptor's Avatar Comment 7 by tieInterceptor

great article,

I like the part about the ridiculous "conciousness" or "soul" separated from a brain, meme... something I thought about many times.

Brains are electrochemical computers, and if you brake a brain with some accident... the personality that resided inside that grey matter will either die, or permanently change... memories lost, having to learn to talk or walk again... etc, therefore your "soul" IS your physical brain, one doesn't exist without the other.

It's like asking "where does windows vista go after I smash a computer with a sledge hammer?"...

well, the electricity dissipates into heat... and it's gone... there isn't a heaven for windows vista to go... and there isn't a heaven for your own electrochemical impulses to go either.

make the most of this life... you don't get another.

ps; digg it up!


Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:42:00 UTC | #410105

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

Firstly, I've had a hell of a job getting my password to grant me access; however, this article is spot on; that's it.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 21:30:00 UTC | #410113

stephen.stallebrass's Avatar Comment 9 by stephen.stallebrass

You should check out this weeks Horizon. A Pretty good BBC show called 'The Secret You' about consciousness by Marcus Du Sautoy (Charles Simonyi professor of the public understanding of science, a post formerly held by Richard before his retirement)


Fri, 30 Oct 2009 21:41:00 UTC | #410114

Quine's Avatar Comment 10 by Quine

Understanding the continuity of life pulls the rug out from under the religious. It leaves them suspended in thin air, where the only untouched beliefs are those which make no difference.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 21:50:00 UTC | #410116

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 11 by Stafford Gordon

Further; regarding life after death, Russell wrote about this in 1925 in "What I Believe".

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 22:16:00 UTC | #410119

johnscarborough's Avatar Comment 12 by johnscarborough

tieInterceptor -
everyone knows from watching Red Dwarf that good computers and robots go to silicon heaven when they die.


Fri, 30 Oct 2009 23:41:00 UTC | #410130

mmurray's Avatar Comment 13 by mmurray

Thanks stephen.stallebrass but unfortunately iPlayer doesn't work for us non Brits!

Does anyone know who believes this:

or the doctrine that communion wafers literally and physically transform into the human flesh of Christ somewhere in the digestive tract,

it is not Catholic doctrine they believe it changes only in its essence but not in its appearance. Of course that is meaningless drivel but it stops people testing the bread and wine for DNA.


Fri, 30 Oct 2009 23:49:00 UTC | #410131

parrja's Avatar Comment 14 by parrja

A clear, logical article. Does it help though? I've never had any luck using logic in arguing with religious people.

I said a while ago to a few Christians at work that I was willing to convert to Christianity, as long as they can show me even the slightest bit of proof.

Suprisingly, they haven't been very forthcoming...

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 23:58:00 UTC | #410137

ergaster's Avatar Comment 15 by ergaster

#428406 by Stafford Gordon

Further; regarding life after death, Russell wrote about this in 1925 in "What I Believe".

Yes, and AFAIK he hasn't had anything to add, detract or rephrase to later editions of that book after 1971.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 00:23:00 UTC | #410142

Workingspace's Avatar Comment 16 by Workingspace

I am glad to see articles put out there like this, even if some feel they are pointless or preaching to the choir.

I have had a lot of discussions with friends, some of whom are believers only insofar as they have had no reason to question what mom, pop, and community have told them. Once they hear well-reasoned arguments, they generally backslide into something along the lines of: There still must be a higher power - or There must be souls and an afterlife.

It has been easier to convince people there is no higher power than it has been to make them let go of the soul foolishness. So item number two in the article is helpful. I'll see how well it is received.


Sat, 31 Oct 2009 00:58:00 UTC | #410147

mjwemdee's Avatar Comment 17 by mjwemdee

Comment #428425 by parrja on October 30, 2009 at 11:58 pm

A clear, logical article. Does it help though? I've never had any luck using logic in arguing with religious people.

I always think of an analogy that I found somewhere on the BCSE website: trying to argue logically with theists is like trying to play chess with a pigeon. They knock all the pieces down, crap all over the chessboard then fly back to their flock to proclaim victory.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 01:13:00 UTC | #410152

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 18 by chewedbarber

I don't think the idea of a soul is intuitive.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 01:47:00 UTC | #410154

Supreme Boeing's Avatar Comment 19 by Supreme Boeing

I would say that consciousness is a computational process, not necessarily a biological process. Neurons use chemical reactions to signal eachother, but in principle this is a computational process.

This should make it possible, in principle, though not yet in practice, to simulate an entire brain in a computer. The cool thing if this works is that the consciousness generated by this simulated brain would be every bit as real as the consciousness generated by a regular meat brain.

A particularly apt analogy would be that the brain is like a computer (hardware), while the consciousness is like the software running on it. You could, in principle, simulate a computer using paper and pen(cil). You could also simulate a brain that way, but you'd have to be God to do so: it is so incredibly unpractical as to require omnipotence to actually do it.

Windows Vista still definitely goes to hell, that's self-evident :-P

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 02:04:00 UTC | #410155

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 20 by Alovrin

Great read

Also known as "theistic evolution."

Its always good to start with a laugh.
But research is happening. The foundations for our understanding of consciousness are beginning to be laid. There are a few things that we do know about consciousness.

mmm yummy.

The universe does not have a physical structure capable of supporting consciousness. The universe does not have neurons, dendrites, ganglia. The universe has stars, and planets, and other astronomical bodies, separated by unimaginably vast regions of empty space.

And stars and planets and so on do not behave like neurons and dendrites and so on. They behave like stars and planets. They behave like objects that, as nifty as they are, are not alive, by any useful definition of the word "life."

But I'll still luv ya, ya great big lumbering lug of a universe even tho ya wont efa luff me back.

I'm aiming my sights at this New Age/ Neo-Pagan/ Wiccan belief in a World-Soul.

The kindest thought I have about those ideas nowadays is
'guess someone had to do it'

My answer: I live in Northern California. 'Nuff said.


Sat, 31 Oct 2009 02:09:00 UTC | #410157

j.mills's Avatar Comment 21 by j.mills

Great article.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 03:38:00 UTC | #410165

TuftedPuffin's Avatar Comment 22 by TuftedPuffin

It's a good list, but I'd put "prayer does stuff" before "the universe has a consciousness" in the list of major mainstream beliefs that are obviously wrong. We've studied prayer. There have been medical studies testing the efficacy of prayer. Not a one has returned anything. Why, then, do most believers find it perfectly reasonable to assert that prayer can make gods change the world?

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 03:41:00 UTC | #410166

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 23 by Carl Sai Baba

Comment #428455 by TuftedPuffin on October 31, 2009 at 3:41 am
It's a good list, but I'd put "prayer does stuff" before "the universe has a consciousness" in the list of major mainstream beliefs that are obviously wrong.

Maybe Christina ranked that just on the other side of the line dividing silly and non-silly people.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 09:01:00 UTC | #410194

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 24 by Carl Sai Baba

This all fits well into Penn Jillette's notation that the word "opinion" is used too liberally. A lot of things people label as opinions (both their own statements and those of other people) are actually [false] statements of fact.

Maybe the "god of the gaps" is not just a criticism, but a conscious rationalization in the heads of religious people. A lot of these religious people might consciously think they are making statements of opinion "in the gaps".

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 09:06:00 UTC | #410195

JackR's Avatar Comment 25 by JackR

Greta's a star. I highly recommend her blog (this piece is on there too). Atheism, politics and sex, all in the same place. Can't be bad. :-)

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 09:07:00 UTC | #410196

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 26 by Cartomancer

World Soul? Whaaaat? I must be out of touch. Since when did that make a comeback? Thomas Aquinas was still in short cassocks when it died out the first time!

The idea of the anima mundi comes largely from Plato, specifically the cosmological dialogue Timaeus, which, in the partial translation of Chalcidius, was the only Platonic dialogue the Latin West had until 1156. The World Soul was popular in European philosophy during the flowering of "Platonic" studies of the "Twelfth-Century Renaissance". It had virtually disappeared by 1220 thanks to the recovery of newer, Aristotelian, models of what a soul is, texts of Greek and Arabic astronomy providing a new perspective on cosmology, and the arrival of Neoplatonic works (Plotinus, Proclus) detailing a more sophisticated model of the microcosm/macrocosm than could be found in Plato's Timaeus. Many Twelfth-century cosmologists, such as William of Conches and Thierry of Chartres, whose primary aim was to reconcile the creation account in Genesis with that found in the Timaeus (considered the foremost "scientific" textbook of the day), equated the World Soul with the Holy Spirit of christian theology. As the Timaeus fell out of favour at the end of the century, it was no longer considered necessary to retain all the details of Plato's cosmology in a learned work of natural philosophy, and "Is there a World-soul?" became a common question for scholastic thinkers to ask. Most answered in the negative, usually thanks to their more Aristotelian notions of what constitutes a soul (specifically that its main responsibility is informing a physical body, not moving it and engaging with abstract idealised forms). A common criticism of the idea of the World Soul was that it would mean actual living things were permeated by two souls rather than one, which was a suspect idea both theologically and in Aristotelian science as then understood. Some thinkers retained the idea that the planets move thanks to their own souls, but mostly the movement of the heavens was attributed, in the thirteenth century, either to angels or the inherent natural properties of the planets themselves. There were vehement supporters and opponents of both theories, but the natural properties camp tended to be more popular.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 11:30:00 UTC | #410211

j.mills's Avatar Comment 27 by j.mills

Carto, have you read Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker?

It's a sort of philosophical SF quest for god, in which all cosmoses (plural?) ulimately become conscious of themselves/itself/himself. (Stapledon was a middleweight philosopher at Liverpool I think.) Chimes with your world soul erudition. Particularly liked the book's depiction of conscious stars, who acknowledge, when confronted with the evidence, that their movements do conform to this silly law of gravity thing; but they regard this as a trivial observation about the dances they perform of their own free will. It's a wunnerful wunnerful book.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 13:46:00 UTC | #410233

Logician's Avatar Comment 28 by Logician

@mjwemdee, #27 post:

That is absolutely the best analogy for discussing these topics with believers I've ever read. I laughed long and loudly.
It was a welcome spark after a depressing night of dealing with idiots like that in the ER.
"crap all over the chessboard"
I love it!

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 13:50:00 UTC | #410234

Logician's Avatar Comment 29 by Logician

Crap, it really was a long night of broken dreams and drunken bums...
That would be at #17...
Anyway, it's still the best thing I've read in a while about this.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 14:11:00 UTC | #410237

Sheol99's Avatar Comment 30 by Sheol99

It's a good list, but I'd put "prayer does stuff" before "the universe has a consciousness" in the list of major mainstream beliefs that are obviously wrong.

Yes. Prayers should be one.
The next is "Transcendence as proof of religious feeling" - the feeling of awe when you're on the top of mountain, on the seacliff during sunsets or storms. The same feeling that I think is being manipulated by the architects of St. Peters, or Kaabah, Taj Mahal, Colliseum.

I think humanity still need to wait for 30 - 40 years to sort these out.

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 14:11:00 UTC | #410239