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Our Changing Perceptions of God and Religion - Comments

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer

You mean god evolved ????

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 16:03:00 UTC | #419474

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 2 by Roger Stanyard

rod-the-farmer asks


You mean god evolved ????


Is this evolution of a kind or evolution within a kind?

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 16:16:00 UTC | #419478

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 3 by irate_atheist

Christopher Hitchens put it better than this:


"The mildest criticism of religion is also the most radical and the most devastating one. Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. Still less can they hope to tell us the "meaning" of later discoveries and developments which were, when they began, either obstructed by their religions or denounced by them. And yet—the believers still claim to know! Not just to know, but to know everything. Not just to know that god exists, and that he created and supervised the whole enterprise, but also to know what "he" demands of us—from our diet to our observances to our sexual morality. In other words, in a vast and complicated discussion where we know more and more about less and less, yet can still hope for some enlightenment as we proceed, one faction—itself composed of mutually warring factions—has the sheer arrogance to tell us that we already have all the essential information we need. Such stupidity, combined with such pride, should be enough on its own to exclude "belief" from the debate. The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted." - Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 16:35:00 UTC | #419486

black wolf's Avatar Comment 4 by black wolf

"Oh, that's certainly true, but of course we aren't religious, we have a relationship with the Lord we know on a personal level. It's just those Catholics and the other false converts who do that religion stuff." --representative unthinking fundie

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 16:43:00 UTC | #419496

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 5 by Stafford Gordon

God is immutably perfect; if not, not god, because that is what makes god god.

No need or indeed room for improvement.

All religious beliefs are predicated on the existence of god; which is fine with me. The only problem is that there is no evidence for god; or to be more precise, what was once thought to be evidence has now been proved to be false.

Some evidence may be found at any moment, in which case I would spin on a dime and accept that there is indeed God.

What if CERN discovered that the Higgs boson was evidence of the existance of god; would there be a single media outlet that would not stop all other business to tell the world as much. Of course not; there would not have been any news like it in the entire history of the planet

Would the matter then be settled? I doubt it. What I suspect would happen is that things would hot up. Conflict would arise over what kind of god it is; which sect or creed it belongs to; there would probably be absolute world wide slaughter!

In the mean time I just wish people would keep their pesky personal god precisely that, personal.

For my part, I've decided that except for those of a sexual nature, I am an AFANTASIST.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 17:06:00 UTC | #419510

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 6 by Jos Gibbons

Thanks Krauss. As for Morris:

The militantly atheistic view the faithful as dim
Who are these mythical atheists who not only classify believers as unintelligent, but also are militant? Of interpretations of this word at dictionary.com, either definitions which construe this as literally implying fighting or warfare nor alternatives which nonetheless refer to aggression render Morris's fears representative of real people.
There is no mutual respect
Beliefs don't deserve respect. They are not alive; they have no feelings. Theists claim they are being disrespected whenever their beliefs or practices are called into question. By contrast, what would actually constitute disrespect would be violations of their human rights, a charge that can only be leveled at them in this context.
A nuanced view is necessary
Nuanced is a fancy compliment for in-between, which misses the possibility that sometimes one side is plain wrong. This is in fact the case for situations where we're dealing with factual propositions on which the evidence can rule, since the evidence will either be unambiguous or will call for fence-sitting.
If Richard Dawkins would step back from taking the battle to the enemy
Everything RD has done that has caused alarm to the religious has been in response to theist activity; it is they who take battles to us. All RD does is thwart them.
humility is one value that is in short supply on both sides
Do both sides believe the universe was made for them, or that they know very detailed accounts of why this is so and what past, present and future consequences it has of a strictly invisible nature? That they do not reveals that, even if both sides could do with more humility, one side is far behind the other in this regard.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 17:31:00 UTC | #419517

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 7 by Sally Luxmoore

While it is surely true that faith itself may exist beyond the bounds of rationality
I'm really not sure what Krauss means by this sentence.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:19:00 UTC | #419537

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 8 by severalspeciesof

7. Comment #437996 by Sally Luxmoore

He might be mixing 'belief' with 'faith' in that statement.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:30:00 UTC | #419541

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 9 by severalspeciesof

Actually, the more I think of it, I think Krauss is spot on...

Faith is outside the bounds of rationality, therefore it cannot be used as a 'proof'...

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:38:00 UTC | #419543

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 10 by Sally Luxmoore

severalspeciesof
OK, then I think it's the word 'exist' that I find odd in that sentence. Maybe 'operate' would have been better.
Either way, I'm only nit-picking.

(Is that your cat? I hooted with laughter when I first saw that avatar!)

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:44:00 UTC | #419544

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 11 by severalspeciesof

Sally,

Yes, that is my demi-god Skylark, in all his glory, acting like a dog...

Damned cat... :-)

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:47:00 UTC | #419545

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 12 by rod-the-farmer

Ehh, Jos Gibbons, I am not sure that some of us don't literally disrespect believers. (Side point - where did the word disrespect as a noun come from ? It smacks of gangsta rap to me.)

While it is true many of us have little or no respect for their beliefs, I venture to say some of us (myself included) extend that to the individual holding such cockamamie ideas as well. Mea culpa, but I could just not see myself hiring a devout evangelical. My particular industry segment (software design/database design) requires a mind that is extremely focused on reality, precision of thought and logic. By definition, a person who believes the world will end soon (which end should be encouraged), that YEC is true and has a personal relationship with a god who speaks directly to them, is simply not suitable. Their mental processes are in my opinion, sub-standard.

Sorry. But I don't think I am alone.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 18:51:00 UTC | #419547

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 13 by SaintStephen

6. Comment #437975 by Jos Gibbons on December 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Beliefs don't deserve respect. They are not alive; they have no feelings. Theists claim they are being disrespected whenever their beliefs or practices are called into question. By contrast, what would actually constitute disrespect would be violations of their human rights, a charge that can only be leveled at them in this context.
Ahhhhh.... music to my ears, Jos. Well done. And VERY well said.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 19:04:00 UTC | #419552

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 14 by SaintStephen

12. Comment #438006 by rod-the-farmer on December 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Sorry. But I don't think I am alone.
Oops.. sorry Rod! I seriously didn't see your post until I hit the ignition button. Didn't mean to make it sound like I was trumping your view, or anything.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 19:07:00 UTC | #419553

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 15 by severalspeciesof

12. Comment #438006 by rod-the-farmer

While it is true many of us have little or no respect for their beliefs, I venture to say some of us (myself included) extend that to the individual holding such cockamamie ideas as well. Mea culpa, but I could just not see myself hiring a devout evangelical. My particular industry segment (software design/database design) requires a mind that is extremely focused on reality, precision of thought and logic. By definition, a person who believes the world will end soon (which end should be encouraged), that YEC is true and has a personal relationship with a god who speaks directly to them, is simply not suitable. Their mental processes are in my opinion, sub-standard.
I must quibble with this statement. It is not all that clear that holding all the views that have been listed above, would automatically mean that the said person would have inadequate resources to think logically in the world of software design/database design...

Though it would cause me to really look at results from the past regarding the development of software, etc., from this individual more so than with another prospective employee who didn't espouse such views...

and I would be looking over his/her shoulder a lot more than usual if hired...

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 19:18:00 UTC | #419555

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 16 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #438006 by rod-the-farmer

Whenever one attempts to identify what constitutes a given noun - such as the one you don't like - so as to prove something doesn't fit it, one might be wrong about what does, and vice versa; and so, in my case, the question is: is my definition too narrow (or broad)? I'll deal with the former option here, since no-one is accusing me of the second. I contend that the phenomenon you are thinking of, whether it takes a prejudicial form as in the case severalspeciesof considers, a discriminatory one or a bit of both, is not so much disrespect as suspicion, in the sense that its antithesis is not respect but trust. To my mind, respect is intimately related to specifically respecting rights, while how far you can trust a person is down to how much you can trust their behaviours or their claims, including the relation between them. How much of this is a merely linguistic debate I don't know, though I that is what it mostly is. But what Morris should understand is that there are real differences between what people like me do and what people like apologists, evangelicals, extremists, fundamentalists and proselytizers do, whether the correct word in the English language is the same or not. A unitarian friend of mine once said there are fundamentalists on all sides, at which point I pointed out to her that, insofar as she defined that word, it was unfair in its inconsistency, e.g. treating atheists who speak like Muslims who destroy. She acted like she was acknowledging my point, but immediately repeated hers in the same words.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 20:11:00 UTC | #419578

MMAtheist's Avatar Comment 17 by MMAtheist

Good to see some "bad cop" in Krauss as well. That was short and sweet.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 20:30:00 UTC | #419582

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 18 by rod-the-farmer

A small point of clarification. I would respect their rights to believe what they choose. But I might not respect either those beliefs, nor the person who chose those beliefs. Just as I respect the right to be stupid - as I have been on many occasions - but won't respect the stupid people themselves. After all, I don't expect people who see me do something stupid, to respect me at that moment. As was said earlier, respect is earned.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 20:41:00 UTC | #419587

SamKiddoGordon's Avatar Comment 19 by SamKiddoGordon

Rod-the-farmer

I actually think they are of a different mind (computer hardware). Thousands of years of inbreeding within their religions HAVE to have tweaked their minds. Add in the brainwashing(software/virus), and they are literally unable to contemplate anything rational(operating system). Would be an interesting ratio, apostacy/confirmation of children of devoutly religious vs apostacy/confirmation of children of "blended" or nonreligious. I know the results will be skewed a bit one way, but maybe thats the whole point.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 21:01:00 UTC | #419592

Duff's Avatar Comment 20 by Duff

It was a fabulous letter, especially for the Times. Kristoff is such a do-gooder accomodationist, it was a perfect little zinger at his piece on religion.

Krauss is becoming one of my heroes. Nice to have so many heroes.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 21:28:00 UTC | #419606

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

Yup, nice to see Krauss wading in to the fray. Another good brain on the bench. :)

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 21:41:00 UTC | #419611

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 22 by SaintStephen

From Bill Morris:

Ironically, both sides need to scale the same wall — smug superiority.
This was what I used to believe, about 3-4 years ago. I no longer have the same view, thanks to Matt Dillahunty and Richard Dawkins, in that order.

What we are seeing here in December 2009, expressed clearly in the written opinions of major media figures like Nicholas Kristof, is simple ignorance.

These people, for all their experience in writing about politics and current affairs, simply do not pass muster when it comes to their experience and knowledge of "the god debate." For one thing it's just too new for these paragons of pop culture, apparently. They haven't either read or fully digested what the books of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens clearly say, or any other good atheist author for that matter, and therefore they have no idea what atheism really is.

I know this for a fact because 3-4 years ago, I was all too eager myself to grab the "moral high ground" smack dab in the "middle" of a debate I knew virtually nothing about. I would see Matt Dillahunty online, gently disputing some total idiot's religious views (Matt writes very well), and I would immediately feel strongly compelled to intervene, and even did so repeatedly, essentially dubbing myself the "peacemaker". "You guys are BOTH wrong," I would naively write.

I think it is a fairly natural human inclination to attempt to "settle" disputes by trying to find the middle ground, even if there isn't any, and I would even be willing to bet this inclination has an evolutionary pedigree. Having been a Catholic for so many years, and also having a degree in engineering from a good school, I ignorantly thought I was well-prepared to voice an arbiter's opinion on the existence of God. I think Nicholas Kristof probably feels the same way.

We were both wrong, but Kristof can still do significant damage with his ignorance.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 22:19:00 UTC | #419617

larson80's Avatar Comment 23 by larson80

@7.

He's just saying that faith is irrational. In a deceiving rhetoric though... :)

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 22:57:00 UTC | #419627

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 24 by mordacious1

Oh c'mon...someone is telling you they believe in virgin birth, people ascending into heaven, jesus walking around as a zombie (just to name a few mainstream xian beliefs) and you're not thinking to yourself "I'm talking to a fookin' idiot"?

I must be be the only arrogant atheist around. I'm sorry, these people are one french fry short of a happy meal.

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 23:42:00 UTC | #419642

j.mills's Avatar Comment 25 by j.mills

It's not polite to point and stare, mordy. Even SaintStephen was a fookin' idiot once, but we don't bring it up because we are Well Bred. You must not say "fookin' idiot". You must say "genetically under-resourced". :)

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:47:00 UTC | #419664

secondsoprano's Avatar Comment 26 by secondsoprano

@rod, mord, jmills

Maybe I'm an arrogant ass, but religious beliefs, if genuinely held, just seem utterly ridiculous, and yes, I do think people who hold them are fooking idiots. (Of course I am too polite to say so).

Re the employment thing, if an essential criterion of the job is:

(a) ability to assess evidence, understanding of principles of legal and logical proof, difference between fact & conjecture etc (eg lawyer)

(b) understanding of scientific method, probability, causality, theory etc (eg scientist, doctor)

(c) strong ethical foundations, acceptance of human rights principles such as gender equality, understanding of range of normal human sexuality, rejection of all forms of child abuse & psychological torture (eg teacher, social worker, psychologist, politician)

then, yes, I do have concerns about the suitability of a person who genuinely believes in any religion.

The problem is I work with several people who do profess to be very religious, but are also excellent lawyers. This hurts my brain a bit, so I have to rationalise that they must either ignore, or have never read, most of the contents of their respective holy books, so they are able to function well in mainstream society despite their religiosity. Either that or they're pretending. I don't know.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 01:08:00 UTC | #419670

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 27 by SaintStephen

25. Comment #438124 by j.mills on December 3, 2009 at 12:47 am

Even SaintStephen was a fookin' idiot once, but we don't bring it up because we are Well Bred.
He said "once". I feel the love.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 04:16:00 UTC | #419701

russkid's Avatar Comment 28 by russkid

Beliefs don't deserve respect. They are not alive; they have no feelings.


Neither are falling rocks alive nor the gravity that begins their decsent upon you .. yet you still move if you should see it heading your direction. And what of truth, or the person who is capable of deciding to believe or not, might it be more of a problem for you that they believe
somthing you don't, and therefor you claim they do not deserve respect.

Everything RD has done that has caused alarm to the religious has been in response to theist activity; it is they who take battles to us. All RD does is thwart them.


And of course, the purpose of the atheist seems to be lately that they should oppose the theist. I dont think they would care much about your atheism if you kept it to yourself, and I wonder whether you would concede to that if it were reciprocal.

That they do not reveals that, even if both sides could do with more humility, one side is far behind the other in this regard.


You have hit the nail on the head, tribalist.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:53:00 UTC | #419729

russkid's Avatar Comment 29 by russkid

They haven't either read or fully digested what the books of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens clearly say, or any other good atheist author for that matter, and therefore they have no idea what atheism really is.


If they claim you haven't read or fully digested the Koran or the Old Testament and therefor have no idea what theism really is .. what then ? If you dont agree then you dont understand, you havent done the proper study, is that it ?

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:57:00 UTC | #419730

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 30 by Enlightenme..

Bill Morris:

"Ironically, both sides need to scale the same wall — smug superiority."

This point is well observed, it is actually very difficult to kerb this tendency, either in the face of JW's on your doorstep or watching Richard Harries, having known RD for years, attempting to make an argument refuted by a whole chapter of TGD.

"The simple truth is that the deeply religious have a basket full of clearly defined answers for everything from gay marriage and abortion rights to what is taught in our science curriculums. Each of these questions needs to be approached with a measure of humility, and humility is one value that is in short supply on both sides."

This though is absolute rubbish.
'Clearly defined answers' derived from sacred scriptures are by their very nature not entitled to any such 'measure of humility', on the contrary, their nature actively calls for disdain.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:59:00 UTC | #419732