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Stephan's Avatar Joined almost 7 years ago
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Go to: Hitchens Talks to Goldblog About Cancer and God

Stephan's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Stephan

I'm so sick and tired of those damn agnostics with their non-position and this old argument "to say I know there is no God is ignorant" bla bla bla. I have never actually heard ANY atheist say "I KNOW that there is no God". Of course they don't say it, cause it would technically be an unscientific faith-statement, which atheists (from my experience) readily leave to the religious side. Atheists are just not contend with dwelling on the "not knowing" aspect, because what they (unlike religious people and so called agnostics) understand is that this lack of knowledge or certainty in the scientific sense (what other knowledge could there be? Unless of course you accept philosophical reveries of "absolute knowledge") extends far beyond God or Gods to a sheer infinite number of entities, objects, phenomena that anyone could spontaneously make up. I feel bad even bringing this up, cause it's so obvious and has been clarified so many times (i.e. by Mr. Dawkins). Agnostics are usually only agnostic about God, not about this infinite number of other things. And whenever you point to the fact that God is equal to any other improbable, fantastical concept, you are accused of trivializing and belittling the God question. But that's just not true. It's logically consistent and absolutely sound. Why don't these people grasp the vacuousness of their "position"??? If Mr. Hitchens dies - how I hope that he can beat the odds - we will so madly miss a straight, voluble, and eloquent voice that so intellectually mercilessly drives these points home and wipes those smug grins off their religious/agnostic faces!

Sat, 07 Aug 2010 19:14:58 UTC | #497193

Go to: Freedom is my religion

Stephan's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by Stephan

Wow, I'm somewhat surprised. Last time I watched and criticized one of his videos here on the forum, I was the target of a tsunami of vitriol by the other users. And look how critical they are now... I would say this, I do think he has a point in ONE respect: Political correctness (although not NECESSARILY a bad thing) does indeed blind and censor many people, including some or even many atheists (I'm actually quite sceptical of the concept of a "community of atheists" - communities tend to develop group dynamics and currents that tend to distort members' views and lead away from what was the original motivation - they tend to, in a way, become "religions" with dogmas themselves). The same might be said about this modern "religion" of multiculturalism (although I would not want to generally dismiss multiculturalism in negative terms either - I think it can be quite a positive position). But I think there are mainly two reasons for this: 1. As Mr. Dawkins said many times, even among atheists belief in belief is far from being unheard of. 2. In my experience, the term atheism is used in quite a loose manner. There are SO many people who call themselves atheists, but are, at a closer look and with a proper understanding of what the word means, quite clearly NOT atheists! I'd even say that number of so called "atheists" is quite substantial. Those, I would suggest, are mainly the ones that he encountered (and I have encountered them as well). So yes, in that sense, and in all fairness and attempted objectivity, I believe he does have a point. Having said all this, I still don't like his style and most of the things he says. I cannot help but feel as if I were listening to some right-wing populist, and I don't like that feeling. There is a difference between being anti-religion (as I am, and I am sure most people here are) and being specifically anti-Islam (which I think misses the point, Islam not being the problem itself but only a manifestation of the problem). He doesn't sound like someone whose aversion to Islam (which I share wholeheartedly) is motivated by an aversion to religion and religious thinking (and its behavioral consequences), but like someone whose aversion to Islam is motivated by xenophobia and the like. There are many political parties and movements all over Europe that are quite anti-Islamic, but FAR from being anti-religious (on the contrary, they are usually quite pro-Christianity - and not seldom they also tend to be sympathetic towards Nazism and similar schools of thought). That's, quite unfortunately, how he seems to me.

Tue, 03 Aug 2010 16:06:23 UTC | #495441

Go to: Clarity - A very nice statement by Dawkins

Stephan's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Stephan

This is so true. I can think of so many instances in which I or someone else have said something that is absolutely scientifically correct (for instance that we are primates, or it was spoken of humans and NONHUMAN animals or countless other examples), and people either laughed or didn't take it seriously or called the speaker a provoker. In other instances, people who speak plain scientific truth are labelled "grim", "bleak", or "pessimistic" etc. To so many people truth is a threat or, at the very least, something they don't take seriously or that doesn't matter much to them. And it's not only uneducated people. Not even exclusively religious people. It really seems to be a rather wiedespread cultural thing. Many people desire certain worldviews and, as Richard said, "warm, fuzzy obscurantism" (sic). I'm also sure the reason many significant scientific truths have not made it far into the cultural mainstream (again, just as one example, that we are primates and that humans are animals like any other species on earth that is not a plant or a fungus or a bacterium etc.), is that these truths are not considered convenient or convenient enough. The wiedespread alternatives are "nicer", and so they persist and are not replaced properliy. It's so frustrating...

Thu, 20 May 2010 05:40:10 UTC | #471600

Go to: Theory of Mind

Stephan's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Stephan

I wish he hadn't said "It's something you must learn and not something you're born with" in the end. I mean, this may well be true, but I think it is confusing and plays right into ther hands of all these "blank slate", "tabula rasa" social consructivist folks against, at the end of the day, the whole of evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology are "fighting". We are clearly born with a theory of mind capacity and with brain modules dedicated to theory of mind and realted operations. So it's NOT something that is ONLY been learned or cultural. It is, like many other things, something that has a biological and psychological basis (and presumably a Darwinian background). It only needs to b "triggered" and "learned" in that sense.

Thu, 20 May 2010 05:20:44 UTC | #471596

Go to: Born believers: How your brain creates God

Stephan's Avatar Jump to comment 135 by Stephan

It seems to me that quite a few people here have either not understood the article or must be suffering form some mental block. It is a plausible, lucid article, the approach is valid and scientifically sound (and in fact backed up by piles of data from different fields, first and foremost evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive neuroscience), and the problems actually are on the other side, namely the hypothisis that religion is a direct result of natural selection. Right now this is the best theory we have, and so far I have not seen a single piece of evidence that would contradict it. And I've been studying religion from a scientific standpoint (this includes the fields mentioned above, as well as sociology, which is of course only an auxiliary discipline here, nothing more) for years.
But it's true, it makes our job a lot more difficult. Yet, unlike some of the people in this comment section, I prefer to leave wishful thinking to the other side and not engage in it. Truth is truth, whether I like it or not. And this byproduct explanation, so far, seems to be the truth. At least there is no serious competition at the moment.

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 15:06:00 UTC | #452112

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