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Biology, Faith, and Skepticism - Comments

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 1 by Peter Grant

Yay, I've been tweeting this! Really enjoyed this discussion. As Prof Dawkins points out, being an atheist is not enough, you should apply skepticism to everything. Additionally, if you want to call yourself a skeptic you should also apply your skepticism to religion, especially when it makes scientific claims.

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:44:47 UTC | #890497

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat

He also discusses exobiology, including the likelihood that life exists elsewhere in the universe and whether or not it has been shaped by evolution through natural selection.

The problem with a possible universe teeming with life is that it is not without inferences that people will draw. All the time that we are 'alone in the universe'.....one can argue that we are just some bizarre freak of nature, a one in a trillion 'accident'. But if life has popped up all over the place, the 'freak accident' hypothesis goes out the window. One ought not to conclude design from this......but people will do.

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 20:17:57 UTC | #890516

David-in-Toronto's Avatar Comment 3 by David-in-Toronto

TAM 8. So this is from the summer of 2010, yes?

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 22:21:07 UTC | #890563

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 4 by billzfantazy

Life pops up all over the place on Earth, in the most unlikely places. I see no reason why it wont " pop up all over the place" on other planets, even ones we wouldn't expect ( in our parochial way) to support life.

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 23:47:24 UTC | #890586

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 5 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

One ought not to conclude design from this......but people will do.

If you want to see design in the universe you will see it whatever the universe is like. In a perverse sort of way this makes sense; after all, if the universe is designed then presumably the designer could have designed it whatever way he/she/it wanted.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 03:55:44 UTC | #890639

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 6 by Functional Atheist

The interviewer struck me as rather stupid. Or perhaps he just has lousy listening skills.

So let's go over it one more time: Richard enjoys reading fiction.

But what about kids? Is it okay for kids to read fiction?

Yes, it is okay for kids to read fiction.

But what about fantasy?

And isn't magic a bad idea for credulous kids?

One more time....

By the end, I wanted to punch the interviewer in the face.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 07:36:29 UTC | #890663

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 7 by ZenDruid

I'm in favor of giving children free access to science fiction, fantasy, video games, and essentially anything which might give them a level of imaginative discrimination that the stereotypical "bible baby" totally lacks.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 08:16:52 UTC | #890670

PERSON's Avatar Comment 8 by PERSON

"There are no ghosts, holy or otherwise"

bumper sticker anyone? :)

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 08:32:23 UTC | #890672

Extreme-Madness's Avatar Comment 9 by Extreme-Madness

Why is Stephen Hawking does not commit suicide! Sick joke, but unfortunately some people think seriously. I just read an article in a Croatian weekly political magazine "Objektiv". Author of the article is obviously wonder why Stephen Hawking does not commit suicide because he does not believe in God, according to some kind of sick logic, a severely disabled person has no reason to live because he does not believe in God. For me, the author is immoral piece of shit. Not connected with the theme, but it's still sick. I really despise when theists so dirty defaming a person on the fact that this person is both an atheist and physically handicapped.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 16:40:08 UTC | #890759

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 10 by drumdaddy

It's a good interview with Professor Dawkins and it is packaged in a convenient player with other interviews on skepticism.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 18:05:47 UTC | #890782

epeeist's Avatar Comment 11 by epeeist

Comment 9 by Extreme-Madness :

Why is Stephen Hawking does not commit suicide! Sick joke, but unfortunately some people think seriously. I just read an article in a Croatian weekly political magazine "Objektiv". Author of the article is obviously wonder why Stephen Hawking does not commit suicide because he does not believe in God,

It was only after people started to commit suicide in order to get to heaven earlier that it was declared a sin.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 19:49:23 UTC | #890804

JLIVES25's Avatar Comment 12 by JLIVES25

Interesting...

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:41:56 UTC | #890822

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 13 by the great teapot

Extreme madness this is Richard Darwins website not stephen kings. An easy mistake to make.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 22:24:39 UTC | #890847

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 14 by the great teapot

Epeeist That i presume would imply the church knew there was no better afterlife and were more concerned about attendance figures, the odd inheritence aside. Surely not.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 22:37:04 UTC | #890855

tboulay's Avatar Comment 15 by tboulay

I honestly don't think it's possible to truly be a sceptic AND be a believer in any type of god.

If a person calls themselves a sceptic, Yet claims to be a theist of any kind, they are being intellectually dishonest. They are choosing to NOT apply their scepticism equally. What I mean is, If you say you're a sceptic yet, still a Christian, you're being dishonest. If you're a Christian, it's safe to say that you're not a Muslim. Essentially, you do not accept the truths of the Koran, so the only way that you could possibly accept the "truths" of the bible is by not applying your scepticism equally. If you accept the "evidence" for the new testament being true, and apply the same standards of evaluation then you have no choice but to accept the "truths" of the Koran. The evidence for both is of the same calibre. Since they contradict each other in many ways, it's impossible for them both to be true.

Now, sure you could claim that you both believe that Jesus is the son of god as the bible states as well as not the son of god as the koran states. But I really don't see how claiming that the color black is both the color red and the color yellow at the same time helps your cause in any way.

You cannot be a sceptic and a believer at the same time. You could potentially claim that you're a Deist, but I've never understood the use of creating a magic man who snapped his fingers 13.7billion years ago and hasn't done a thing since; as Richard said, he may as well not even exist.

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 03:04:21 UTC | #890917

mr_DNA's Avatar Comment 16 by mr_DNA

Comment 4 by billzfantazy Life pops up all over the place on Earth, in the most unlikely places. I see no reason why it wont " pop up all over the place" on other planets, even ones we wouldn't expect ( in our parochial way) to support life.

I'm afraid I don't agree. And this is a bit of a bug bear with me. Abiogenisis on this planet has probably only happened on this planet once ( if it even occurred on this planet). At least all life seems to have started from the same common ancestor anyway. Given that we don't know the likehood of this event and we can't repeat it; it is illogical to say that because the universe is incredibly vast life must be occurring all over the place. Because we only know about one event we can't predict the probability of it happening again just from the fact of its occurrence. The size of the universe doesn't change that because the probability will still be somewhere on a line that stretches from likely to almost infinitely unlikely. The most honest answer is to say we just don't know until we understand abiogenisis better.

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 10:04:50 UTC | #891000

mmurray's Avatar Comment 17 by mmurray

Comment 16 by mr_DNA :

Comment 4 by billzfantazy Life pops up all over the place on Earth, in the most unlikely places. I see no reason why it wont " pop up all over the place" on other planets, even ones we wouldn't expect ( in our parochial way) to support life.

I'm afraid I don't agree. And this is a bit of a bug bear with me. Abiogenisis on this planet has probably only happened on this planet once ( if it even occurred on this planet). At least all life seems to have started from the same common ancestor anyway. Given that we don't know the likehood of this event and we can't repeat it; it is illogical to say that because the universe is incredibly vast life must be occurring all over the place. Because we only know about one event we can't predict the probability of it happening again just from the fact of its occurrence. The size of the universe doesn't change that because the probability will still be somewhere on a line that stretches from likely to almost infinitely unlikely. The most honest answer is to say we just don't know until we understand abiogenisis better.

Well said.

Michael

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 10:37:02 UTC | #891007

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 18 by the great teapot

i think it highly likely life is on other planets. The very existence of life on this planet has produced an earth with a very different atmosphere etc than would have existed before the simplest self replicating molecules chemicaly bonded. most of the universe that does not have life is far more likely to have similar conditions to those that existed back on that glorious day than we do here on earth at present.

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 19:31:51 UTC | #891146

boecxyec's Avatar Comment 19 by boecxyec

To mr_DNA :

Have to disagree there. Whereas I understand the reason for your skepticism (and share in it to some extent) when it comes to extra-terrestrial life forms, the probability is definitely > 0. And when it comes to universal predictions, we can only talk in terms of probabilities. Considering the enormous number of exo-planets that could be out there, it is hard to imagine that there couldn't be even a single instance of a very primordial life form.

Fri, 18 Nov 2011 03:34:20 UTC | #891235

Benjamin Taylor's Avatar Comment 20 by Benjamin Taylor

One of the things I find very encouraging when considering the possibility/probability of life elsewhere in the universe, is the timing of the origin of life on this planet.

The Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, and the earliest evidence for life is dated to around 3.5 billion years ago.

When you consider that the processes that eventually led to life (self-replicating molecules etc.) probably started a good while before life as we know it appeared, and that for the earliest part of the Earth’s existence life just couldn’t exist due to the physical state of the planet. It seems like life originated relatively quickly after the conditions for it to exist arose.

It’s almost like life just couldn’t wait to get started!

Fri, 18 Nov 2011 20:49:30 UTC | #891435

PatW's Avatar Comment 21 by PatW

The Qur'an teaches the one called Jesus (actually Joshua in Anglo and Jesus in Latin)is a minor prophet not the "son of God". The New Testament claims the one called Jesus is the "son of god", when calling the one called Jesus the child "born of immaculate conception", meaning the natural biological process didn't take place for the one called Jesus and only the one called Jesus, because the one called Mary is claimed to be a virgin at conception, and no human male impregnated the one called Mary. Judaism doesn't accept the one called Jesus as a prophet or the "son of god".

All those different unsupported claims make it so easy to be legitimately skeptical of all theism claims, including those of popes and monarchs telling people “I was appointed by god to rule over you. I speak for god.” and “God told me to invade Iraq.” G.W. Bush.

Fri, 18 Nov 2011 22:25:29 UTC | #891459

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 22 by the great teapot

PatW Apparently Mary was born after an immaculate conception not jesus. It isn't the same thing as the virgin birth. Minor point I know but we atheists must get our theology right, you know how it goes, any ignoramous can defend religion but an atheist should have a phd in theology if he is fit to criticise it.

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 09:38:39 UTC | #891521

Quine's Avatar Comment 23 by Quine

Actually the Immaculate Conception is the dogma that Mary was without Original Sin. Yes, I know it is obscure, and most get it wrong, but at a point the RCC decided to grant her this special status for obscure theological "reasons." Why being saved from Original Sin by the death of Jesus was not good enough for her was never clear to me, but that is the way theology goes.

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 09:46:39 UTC | #891522

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 24 by Tyler Durden

Comment 23 by Quine :

Actually the Immaculate Conception is the dogma that Mary was without Original Sin. Yes, I know it is obscure, and most get it wrong, but at a point the RCC decided to grant her this special status for obscure theological "reasons." Why being saved from Original Sin by the death of Jesus was not good enough for her was never clear to me, but that is the way theology goes.

Due to technical details way too obscure to explain here, the absolvement of Original Sin and nepotism are actually mutually exclusive. No, srsly.

The way I heard it growing up in the green fields of Ireland, in order for Mary to give birth to Jesus who had yet to die thus absolving the world of Original Sin, she first had be born without Original Sin, hence the need for the addendum of a Hollywood-esque Immaculate Conception rewrite very late in the day.

Theology, eh?

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 11:22:34 UTC | #891533

Quine's Avatar Comment 25 by Quine

Yeah, well, YHWH gives Mary a pass on O.S. along the lines of what everyone keeps asking why He can't for everyone else? You know, if Theology could be instantiated as a person, and that person could be dragged into a police interrogation room and made to tell a consistent story, it could never keep it straight.

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 11:49:18 UTC | #891536

AfraidToDie's Avatar Comment 26 by AfraidToDie

It is very simple why atheists ( rational thinkers) can enjoy science fiction and fiction in general. The reason is because the ones we enjoy have at least some thread of plausibility, which invokes imagination no matter your age. The distinction between science fiction and religion is that remote thread of plausibility. Religion offers no thread of plausibility and therefore is a boring theme to any movie or book. Those science fiction movies I like best are those I can at least by some stretch of the imagination I can say “could happen” - Religion, no way does it invoke a thread of even imaginary truth!

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 12:48:26 UTC | #891542

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 27 by the great teapot

So if Mary was granted by god freedom from original sin at what stage did god think of the idea of giving birth to itself on earth. Did it think of the idea before granting the privelage because it didn't want to be born of a dirty sinner or did it think afterwards " who was that woman i freed from original sin, she would be the ideal host for kicking off my earth gig" Basically mary was either given some lottery win with no clear prize or she was randomly used as a tool by god eitherway, so what.

you couldn't make it up. pointless nonsense. To think people dedicate a life to this. Still, it beats working for a living.

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 13:49:03 UTC | #891553

maria melo's Avatar Comment 28 by maria melo

I bet Richard Dawkins doesn´t agree with what comes next: "Rev. Michael Dowd- The Marriage of Science and Religion".

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 16:39:02 UTC | #891598

PatW's Avatar Comment 29 by PatW

Comment 22 by the great teapot :

PatW Apparently Mary was born after an immaculate conception not jesus. It isn't the same thing as the virgin birth. Minor point I know but we atheists must get our theology right, you know how it goes, any ignoramous can defend religion but an atheist should have a phd in theology if he is fit to criticise it.

If that's the case, then according to what is cited above, atheists need to know the irrational dogmatic doctrine of the first Western religion - Catholicism - but then they already do know which is why they declare themselves to be atheists.

Theists particularly need to know how impossible the words written are according to what science has proved pertaining to pregnancy, which completely contradicts, with irrefutable proof, the irrational dogmatic doctrines of Western cultural theisms and theisms in general.

The immaculate conception refers to the one called Mary being "born without sin". The "conception", of the one called Jesus, happened before the one called Mary and the one called Joseph were married in religious ceremony as mandated by Judaism. That meant that both had engaged in the "sin" of fornication as unmarried persons - people engaging in sexual intercourse without benefit of religious marriage ceremony mandated by theisms.

Since the one called Mary is declared to have been pregnant before marriage, that meant she had "sinned", and, thus, according to Talmudic law must be stoned. The male didn't have to be stoned but female did according to Talmudic law. The one called Mary could not possibly have been "born without sin". "Born without sin" meaning "born without original sin" because she was a reproduction of a biological birth.

What was the "original sin"? Sex between two imaginary persons under the absurd guise of some mythological female tempting some mythological male to eat some mythological apple after "god said" don't eat some mythological apple from some mythological apple tree. After that, all females had to go through the pain of childbirth. Childbirth blatantly implies a sex act between a male and a female according to proved biological science.

I'm fairly certain that atheists, in general, don't really give a rat's behind about whether or not "virgin birth" equates to "immaculate conception". All they care about is that science has proved there ain't gonna be any "conception" without an egg fertilized by sperm. Thus, a fertilized egg is physically "conceived".

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 16:55:48 UTC | #891601

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 30 by the great teapot

Apple? Who ate an apple. No where in the bible is the forbidden fruit an apple.

Sun, 20 Nov 2011 09:19:22 UTC | #891726