This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comments by susanlatimer

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by susanlatimer

I did achromat. I appreciated your input.

Theists have a way of appealing to the hard work that humans do, hard work aimed at understanding reality better, hard work that can only come from humbling ourselve, and they attribute it to their particular god. They're not the least bit interested in what lies "beyond".

It's ironic.

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 05:38:17 UTC | #951236

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 71 by susanlatimer

Obviously the use of the term 'forces from beyond' is used in the sense most religious people will associate with it here.

I know. I wasn't clear. It was obvious what you meant. It's just that it got me thinking about one of the key things that frustrates me about these arguments about gods. It comes up again and again.

They hijack the whole idea that "there is more". Well, of course there's more. Science knows that and so do great artists and poets. (Entirely different disciplines, I know, but I'm talking about the "beyond" idea that they keep preaching about.)

There is no "beyond" for them. It's a cheap trick. Nothing shuts down progress in reaching beyond our limitations like believing we already have a direct channel to some kind of ultimate truth.

They have no business talking about "art" any more than "science".

Does that make sense? It's late. I haven't had much sleep.

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 07:01:58 UTC | #951233

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by susanlatimer

Sorry achromat. I meant to put your name in the last comment. Of course I was responding to what you said.

For me it's just another attempt at retreating to the god of the gaps, albeit with a creative twist.

There's nothing more creative about that twist than any of their other twists... unless you meant it literally. As in, albeit with a "creative" twist.

to simply assume it is some contact with forces from beyond is ludicrous.

Not necessarily. Beyond our knowledge and assumptions is just the regular, every day, bread and butter method of good science, good ethics and good art. Theists are not really appealing to "beyond". They are suggesting that we've had the answers for thousands of years. Nothing beyond about that.

"Beyond" what we know suggests that we can attain more. By that definition, "beyond" is a healthy word.

They use "beyond" in a magical, ultimate sense. They believe that no matter what humans accomplish, beliefs that date back to thousands of years before those accomplishments are better and magical. Unsurpassable.

The whole thing's a crock.

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 07:22:19 UTC | #951230

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 68 by susanlatimer

They do the same thing to art as they do to science and as they do to morality.

When good, curious, disciplined minds try to explore the edges, they use every method at their disposal to say, "No need. Don't bother. It's answered. Nothing to see here. Move along."

It makes me nearly as angry when they try to claim art proves Yahweh as it does when they try to claim that science proves Yahweh.

Yahweh shuts down science. Yahweh shuts down morality. Yahweh shuts down imagination.

Yahweh is not alone here, but this particular god has nothing to contribute to any of these endeavours.

There is no greater hindrance to any of these pursuits than unsupported claims about ultimate knowledge.

Science, art and philosophy know how little we know. That's why we need them all.

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 06:11:13 UTC | #951229

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by susanlatimer

Grasping at intangibles is not the same as god.

I really like that achromat.

I'll probably use it.

It's always fascinating the way religion makes ultimate claims about the origin and nature of the universe, about morality and about "meaning" and when pressed for evidence, it rolls its eyes at our "literal" fixation. One cannot prove the beauty of Beethoven. That sort of thing.

Requests for evidence are gauche.

This less than subtle implication that we have no aptitude for their god because we take things so literally is obviously intellectually flimsy, but it's also an insult to our artistic potential.

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 09:11:12 UTC | #951227

Go to: Can religion tell us more than science?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by susanlatimer

There is bad religion involving superstition just like there are quack doctors, bad musicians, and crappy artists.

Can you give me an example of "good" religion or not "bad" religion, religion that doesn't make superstitious claims?

There is valuable human expression and thought that has nothing to do with explanation of empirical facts about the world, (music, art, etc)

Yes. Well, music and art don't claim to make empirical facts about the world. They don't claim ultimate truth (unless they are overstepping their authority).

and religious thought and expression is exactly that sort of expression

Is it? Do people murder people in the name of art? Is art given free reign to explain the origin and "meaning" of reality? When it is, it cease to be art and becomes propaganda.

Saying "you can't prove that god exists" is confused, irrational,and pedantic at best.

Confused, maybe. There are so many claims about deities and so many of them shape-shift when examined.

Which "god" can't I prove exists? Pick one. Define it. Demonstrate that there is credible evidence for it.

The burden is always on the one who makes the claims.

Sun, 30 Sep 2012 08:10:19 UTC | #951223

Go to: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. were atheists, and they were terrible! Answer that!

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 254 by susanlatimer

Its a never ending cycle with the Atheist. They are quick to find out when an atrocity occures to hopes that the evil-doer is christian but then come up some cockamainy excuse if they werent...kinda pathetic really. Grow some balls people...please

Please provide some specific examples. I can't guarantee that it will inspire me to grow a set of balls but it might clarify your argument. :-)

And why are Atheists all scientists all of a sudden?

Well gosh, I'm not. I'm just a human who has learned to be wary of believing any of my assumptions or anyone else's assumptions are true if they are not supported by evidence. Humans have a terrible record without evidence. I guess you could call me an atheist because every theist claim I know seems to be an example of someone believing human claims about some god and those claims are not supported by evidence.

Science makes its living on evidence. It keeps us from fooling ourselves.

Got evidence?

Tue, 25 Sep 2012 07:19:10 UTC | #951211

Go to: What on Earth is a Possibilian?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by susanlatimer

Missed you too! :-)

Sat, 08 Sep 2012 20:29:25 UTC | #951196

Go to: Why Jehovah's Witnesses won't mourn the Aurora victims

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by susanlatimer

the herring gull analogy is pseudo science.

Interesting. Please elaborate.

Also, and this has never been clear to me... at what point in the continuum, if you accept the theory of evolution on any level, can microevolution be distinguished from macroevolution? This has never made any sense to me.

I'd appreciate it if you could clarify this idea.

Sat, 08 Sep 2012 06:33:36 UTC | #951194

Go to: What on Earth is a Possibilian?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by susanlatimer

Comment 55 by greginator

Wow, I came to this site hoping to be redeemed by scientific logic, instead some of the atheists seem to be just as bad as the religious zealots.

Which atheists? Which religious zealots? Please use evidence to explain what you mean by "just as bad" and how "bad". This is very important.

cannot begin to imagine how things like that work. I am skeptic.

Things like what work? Also, very important.

asking me to reject the god idea all together is the same as asking me to wear magic mormon underwear cause it will protect me from bear attacks.

Which "god idea?" (Yes. Important.)

education is the only way to save us from ignorance.

Agreed.

Ignorant Amos:

I never get tired of your contributions. When I spend time elsewhere, I wish I could sic you on them. :-)

Sat, 08 Sep 2012 06:26:36 UTC | #951193

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by susanlatimer

Comment 42 by ratanu

I will let you read Comment 31 by LJ of Spades, it is the best explanation to my comment.

I did read it. I agree with what LJ said. Context is everything. The article was vague and without more information, it's hard know what motivated the parents to take action.

Tue, 21 Aug 2012 04:42:54 UTC | #951099

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by susanlatimer

Comment 33 by Endurance Swimmer

I'm very much an atheist but at the same time I hate politically correct garbabe and this smells of it.

I wish I had the olfactory talent that you have.

What exactly does politically correct garbage smell like? I get reports from people with sniffing talent of all sorts of contradictory things. Whose sense of smell should I trust?

I lack the instinct through smell that so many claim to have.

Could you show me? What political correctness looks like even if you can't explain what it smells like to a smell-challenged schmuck like me?

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 07:38:03 UTC | #951033

Go to: Talking to people works!

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by susanlatimer

Oh, and the earth is not a sphere.

Gravity sucks.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 07:24:49 UTC | #951032

Go to: Talking to people works!

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by susanlatimer

Well how come we didnt figure out that the earth was round until 1492

"We" did. The bible never actually states that the earth is a sphere. The bible at best suggests it's a circle. The bible talks about the "four corners", even. At best, it claims a two-dimensional circle but even that's questionable. The bible makes all sorts of claims that contradict a "spherical" earth. Please provide all your biblical quotes that insist that the earth is round. I'm sure you're dying to.

or the fact that evelution is retarded because if we evelutionanized from apes than why are there still apes,

You are very likely a Poe and engaging with you might get me smitten by the Mods. That's OK. We're all slightly smitten with the Mods. If you knew the Mods like I knew the Mods, you'd be smitten too.

Heres how i see it i have a 100% chance of not having any pain after i die .

That's what the evidence indicates.

If christianity is right i go to heaven if its wrong well i go into the ground and stay ther.

Unless Islam, Christian Science, Judaism, the Moonies, Mormonism (just for starters) are right. Any of them. In which case, you're in serious trouble.

Just something to think about

Yeah. I've thought about it. But without evidence, I've learned that humans are prone to asserting bat-shit crazy things and more humans are prone to believing bat-shit crazy things because we have a natural tendency to believe things without evidence. That's why infomercials, preachers and psychics (just for starters)s make so much money without possessing skill or talent. Humans are natural shills

Got evidence?

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 07:23:33 UTC | #951031

Go to: Talking to people works!

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by susanlatimer

Comment 20 by The Next Billy Graham

2nd the tomb of jesus christ was found but there was no body "

Citations please. "The bible" of your choice doesn't count without corroborating evidence.

How do you separate all those other myths from reality but not this one?

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 05:29:02 UTC | #951027

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by susanlatimer

Comment 30 by ratanu

I just wonder how many people commenting on this post have taken music theory or even music appreciation. I think my point has been made.

Possibly. But it's gone straight over my head. I wonder if you could explain in more detail.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 05:11:47 UTC | #951025

Go to: Suffering

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by susanlatimer

Comment 4 by Red Dog

If you haven't already read it you should check out Christopher Hitchins book on Mother Theresa: The Missionary Position. He shows how contrary to her well crafted image Mother Theresa's clinics have resulted in many people suffering needlessly and that when patients with cancer or AIDS are denied pain medicine they are told that their suffering brings them closer to Jesus.

Here's a link to Hell's Angel: Mother Teresa by Christopher Hitchens.

Very important viewing. Beware of saints.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 04:34:06 UTC | #951023

Go to: Refuting supernatural

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 186 by susanlatimer

Comment 181 by Akaei

Supporting the positive claim that something doesn't exist is difficult. A positive claim that something undefined doesn't exist is completely independent of logic

Understood. But the word seems to be used in every case of which I'm aware to describe something that DOES exist. It's lack of definition is applied repeatedly to make claims about existence. If we ever manage to plumb every detail of the natural world, I'd be willing to take the idea of "supernatural" into consideration. Even in your 14 billion year boundary, there is a point past which we can't draw lines. The lines we draw don't reach there. I appreciate your rigorous thinking on the subject. It's more honest and much more useful than most of the conversations I've tried to have with people who use the world "supernatural" to hide their errors. I will continue to mull over what you've said. Thank you for that.

Cmment 183 by Phil Rimmer

In common parlance "supernatural" has the full explanatory intention of science. Its just a simple fail.

Yes.

Comment 184 by Steve Zara

The whole business of 'natural' and 'supernatural' is a distraction. It would be better if the terms were not used. What we have is a world in which we see things happen, and we use science to try and investigate. There is no other way to find out what is real and what is illusion and delusion.

So far, that's all we have and that's no small thing. As far as I can tell, it's everything.

Comment 185 by Schrodinger's Cat

'Canned dark' and the supernatural are metaphorically identical.

To date, every person who's invoked the idea of the "supernatural"in order to further their case is just opening up a big can of "dark".

I appreciate Akaei's efforts to examine what it might possibly mean. I'm fairly sure (based on his quality contributions to thought to date) that he knows that it's usually a steaming pile of special pleading. I agree that it's important to examine the idea and what it could possibly mean before we rule it out altogether.

The trouble I have with language is that a word that is undefined without any hope of definition on the horizon just seems like another language trick to me. Another example of unclear thinking.

I'm willing to consider "supernatural" if and when we ever get there.

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 03:35:03 UTC | #950984

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 199 by susanlatimer

Rob W,

I respect your concern that discussing your position in any detail might be wandering off topic.

You could probably get away with it. Respectful discussion still seems to hold a lot of weight around here.

But if, on this thread, you're not comfortable completely engaging in the subject in which you clearly want to engage, you can always submit a topic for discussion. It has to pass moderation. The mods here seem to still be committed to the principle of worthwhile discussion so if they don't pass it, it's usually because their job is to pick the best topics for the best discussion. Subjective as those choices might be, they've demonstrated that they're pretty well qualified and hold themselves to a high standard of conduct.

If your topic does get posted, you won't be treated with kid gloves, though you'll mostly be treated politely, from my experience. At any rate, you seem to be thinking hard about things and will probably manage to explain and explore your position. The whole idea is that at the least, somebody and at the most, everybody is given an arena in which to make legitimate progress.

"Just what on Earth do we mean when we use the word 'G-d'?"

That's a very important starting point and one which is too often overlooked, too rarely examined and makes its living through inference and implication. I find it interesting that you can probe the idea in such an honest way and that you still are unwilling to spell "god" or "God".

Is that out of habit or respect for tradition or do you really believe that "god" is too sacred a word to be spelled in full?

I appreciate your willingness to engage. Thank you for that.

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 07:03:46 UTC | #950732

Go to: Refuting supernatural

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 178 by susanlatimer

So, here are the problems I always run into when I try to imagine or contemplate the supernatural:

There probably is no mystical supernatural. Probably. There is no way for us to know everything, therefore no way for us to confirm an absolute absence of supernatural. The supernatural is conspicuous in its apparent absence. But the universe is finite

What are the boundaries of the "universe"? What do we mean by "finite" and "universe", particulary when it comes to venturing into ideas like "supernatural"? I still have no idea what any one individual means when then they talk about the "supernatural".

The origins of the universe need not resemble or be confined to natural laws, at least as we know them.

But if we discover new laws or even new facts, how would we recognize that they had escaped the boundaries of nature?

With our current knowledge, ability to gather information and understand what we will gather we cannot know if there is a supernatural or what it is to be supernatural

I agree. So, how useful a place marker is the word "supernatural"? How much progress can be made by discussing its potential validity?

Until we can stick pins in the boundary of nature, tracing it out for all to see, I can't help but think that supernatural is a meaningless word.

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 06:23:06 UTC | #950731

Go to: Refuting supernatural

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 177 by susanlatimer

Thanks Akaei. I'll mull that over for a while.

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 15:37:09 UTC | #950716

Go to: Refuting supernatural

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 175 by susanlatimer

And sorry for mistyping your name.

Akaei. I know how to spell it. Just don't know how to type right now.

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 03:22:24 UTC | #950658

Go to: Refuting supernatural

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 174 by susanlatimer

Akaie,

Comment 173 by Akaei

) And even that is assuming that there is a correct definition for supernatural and natural and that we are using the correct definitions. The definition you are using is prescriptive and arbitrary. As a descriptive and necessarily accurate definition is elusive, intangible, non-demonstrable and possibly impossible, we may have to accept an asserted definition rather than a discovered one

The dispute between you and SC goes to the heart of my confusion.

We're dealing with a word here. And you've come closer to addressing the possible meaning of the word than any theist ever has.

Forgive me if my question is naive. I've just got home and haven't read the earlier posts recently. (They're old posts. As I said, I've just got home.)

So, I'll just ask straight out. (I apologize if you've made efforts to answer it already.) How would we know when we've reached the limits of "natural" and can begin to take seriously the possibility of "supernatural"?

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 03:14:37 UTC | #950657

Go to: A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by susanlatimer

Comment 16 by rrh1306

I don't know about you Susan, but that kind of thinking still shocks every time I hear it. I've heard it enough that it shouldn't, but I'm still blown away that anyone believes that.

I'm blown away, too. I get so used to hearing it that I become numb to it for a while, but every now and then the implications broadside me.

I would be very, very careful that I had checked all my work before I argued that a person's position on a subject inevitably leads to advocating rape, murder and genocide. I've never accused anyone of that in any sort of discussion. It's a horrible accusation that better be well thought out and thorougly backed up.

It's true that what we believe can lead us to do unimaginably terrible things. . Humanity has demonstrated that.

Quine's correction of point #6 from comment 6 on this thread is one to always take seriously. We should all have learned that by now.

Dogma is the cause of innumerable evils and should be rejected on moral grounds.

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 00:44:00 UTC | #950650

Go to: A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by susanlatimer

It is a fortress of impenetrable dogma over there.

The same old canards. Over and over and over.

Here's the last comment:

I wonder what atheists would say about the state of nature where God was "nowhere" in society of the brutish? Granted that even if there is a social contract to keep the weak alive, what will the norms or framework of this contract be based on? Between the survival of the fittest and the protection of the weak there has to be an 'equalizer' that keeps the weak from being annihilated. In a state of nature, it is safe to assume that all who survive in that state are atheists.

Will it ever end? They need to villify atheists in order to protect themselves from the reality of their own poor reasoning and moral stuntedness. It's a stink pit.

Fri, 10 Aug 2012 04:08:49 UTC | #950578

Go to: Against All Gods

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 111 by susanlatimer

Comment 110 by Schrodinger's Cat

My point was that those who try to seperate how and why are in my view every bit as guilty of creating 'disembodied' entities. You are trying to negate a large part of causality that is not simply covered by any 'how'......and what actually comes through is not any scientific basis for doing so but purely personal beliefs

I'm curious as to the distinction between how and why that's being discussed.

I'm not sure I'm clear about the terms.

How does "why" frame the question in a way that "how" doesn't?

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 03:25:02 UTC | #950406

Go to: Against All Gods

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 100 by susanlatimer

Comment 98 by JHJEFFERY

But in the first place, who said there had to be a why? The religious seize upon this question like it was the be all and end all of all questions without ever stopping to try to prove that there must be a why.

The religious ply their trade by manipulating language; and avoid examing it at all costs. They like to rely on our intuition and press all the applicable buttons.

Our main question words, "Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?" are useful to a limited extent, until the evidence pours in. Language inevitably falters and needs to be tweaked to catch up with the math and the evidence.

What do we mean when we ask "why"? "Why" is a casual, often lazy word too often equivocated with "how". I'd hate to lose it entirely but it should be held accountable at every turn.

Another lovely post, JH. I agree.

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 06:09:34 UTC | #950382

Go to: Atheist wins "The American Bible Challenge"

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by susanlatimer

I vote for Ignorant Amos. I would love to see that.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 01:42:17 UTC | #950196

Go to: Scapegoat for Catholic evils?

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by susanlatimer

Comment 20 by RJ Moore

I must say I find this thread a little bit strange.

I don't. It's a perfectly useful thread for discussion.

What kind of judicial magic bullet do people think is out there?! This is how the law works.

I agree. This was a conviction in a court of law and this is one of the ways in which progress is made. A criminal conviction in a particular case is all the law can do, and the immediate and long-term implications are important. That is why we make laws. The law can do what the law can do and that is no small thing.

I'm not sure we're confined to legal discussion in this thread, but I think you're right that it's important to make the distinction.

How much further up the ladder can and should the law pursue the rape of children and the cover-up by the catholic church? That's a separate discussion.

But I understand what you mean about this specific legal case. I think you're right.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 05:18:00 UTC | #950092

Go to: Religious Olympics

susanlatimer's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by susanlatimer

Comment 54 by PERSON

I like the Creationist Marathon a lot (run by fleas over a 1 cm long track)

but I LOVE Prayer-boxing. :-)

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 21:57:59 UTC | #950077