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

Comments by korben

Go to: Loss within the truth

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by korben

beyond this reality I will never see them again

Unless proven wrong by some new knowledge and evidence of the afterlife that I'm not aware of, at the risk of sounding harsh (certainly not my intention) I'll say that there will be no "I" to see anybody. The "you" that would miss them if they were to vanish today, won't exist anymore to do any missing. So enjoy and love and cherish your family and give them your very best now, you only have one shot at it.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 21:40:31 UTC | #950319

Go to: Do we need objective morals?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by korben

Comment 5 by Jos Gibbons :

korben, do any of my three definitions of objectivity fit what you mean by the term? I suspect b does because "immutability" suggests lack of contingency on detail.

I meant immutable in the sense of "not subject or susceptible to change". As in, if they came from god, they must be as good today as they were 2,000 years ago, right?

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 21:45:50 UTC | #949924

Go to: Do we need objective morals?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by korben

As intelligent beings we know that rape, murder, theft and violence are wrong without the need to have these ideas handed down to us from a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent supernatural being. Blockquote

Yes, we know that now. Not so long ago, rape, murder, theft and violence were not only condoned but also ordered and encouraged by god along with some other atrocious things such as slavery or death by stoning. We as social animals, as an evolving species that developed empathy, love, trust and compassion, realized that those things were not good for our evolution as either a species or a society, so we've ordered them away (wherever possible) by putting laws into place that forbid doing them. And those places where such horrors are still commonplace, we consider barbaric. So I don't think there are objective, immutable morals, at least certainly not handed down by god. Morality is a human creation and as such it evolves alongside humans, and what works today may not work so well tomorrow and we'll need to revise it and change it to adapt it to our vision of society and the world at any given point in time. Not only that, since morals change often depending on the situation (is it moral to kill an assassin that would have taken the lives of 50 people or is killing immoral in every case?) I don't think we need objective moral; we need morals that work, period.

As a side note, I think that Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape is a good read on this topic.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 16:18:26 UTC | #949900

Go to: Cleric says polio vaccination 'un-islamic', warns of jihad against docs

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by korben

It's funny how on that page, the second tab on the menu takes you to the Astrology section, which is a link to GaneshaSpeaks.com. Their motto is "accuracy, reliability, trust" . I frankly don't know anymore what kind of criteria people use to determine what's true and what's not. I have very little hope that reason will ever win the battle against superstition and nonsense.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 11:56:24 UTC | #947382

Go to: Jury gives "faith healing" mother prison time in son's death

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by korben

She'll have to spend the rest of her life coming to terms with the knowledge that because of her misplaced faith and her own foolishness, she'll never get to see her son grow up; never get to hold the grandchildren he would have given her.

If that ever happened, that would be a true miracle. Most religious people will cling to their beliefs and explain this death by saying "God works in mysterious ways" or "God loved the child so much that he took him away to be with Him" or some other rubbish. Religion causes such brain atrophy that it becomes a useless organ, like the appendix.

Wed, 30 May 2012 11:45:49 UTC | #944461

Go to: One in seven thinks end of world is coming

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 56 by korben

Comment 11 by Chomolungma :

The Mayan 2012 prophecy provides an opportunity for rationalists. When the world fails to end in December, and in fact nothing at all noteworthy happens, there will be a lot of disillusioned New Agey types ripe for abandoning their woo-woo beliefs. Perhaps some kind of "don't you feel silly now?" media blitz can be prepared in advance for the weeks after it is supposed to happen.

I doubt they'll abandon their beliefs. If anything, as it has been the case with previous prophecies, they'll go "see, prayer works, God heard us and spared us" or "holding hands and chanting ohm works" and their beliefs will be even stronger than before. I've given up trying to reason with people who are being willfully stupid and proud of it.

Fri, 04 May 2012 13:28:05 UTC | #939646

Go to: Indonesian atheist faces long jail sentence for posting "God doesn't exist" on Facebook

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by korben

How can you impose a belief by law? It's not like saying "you must wear your seatbelt while driving". It's more like "you must be 6'4 tall" or, in this case, "you must believe in one of these 5 fictional stories". I don't get it. Can you will yourself to be something you're not or to believe in something that's false? What kind of mental gymnastics does that require?

Thu, 03 May 2012 21:45:34 UTC | #939445

Go to: The Consolation of Philosophy

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by korben

Why is it Saturday instead of Wednesday? Because of the evidence that yesterday was Friday and tomorrow is Sunday. "Why is there something rather than nothing?" makes as much (or as little) sense to me. Where's the evidence for "nothing"? There's none; everything points to "something" as the origin of everything.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 11:52:55 UTC | #937948

Go to: Are You a Believer? Take The Dawkins Test.

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 80 by korben

Comment 10 by GOD :

I was always puzzeled by Dawkins being less than 7, leaving the door open to an unlikely, but still possible scientific proof. Could someone enlighten me on how such proof might look like? What miracle should happen in front of us that we cannot blame on misfiring neurons or on all powerful aliens, that would shake a 7? Turning water into wine does not cut it.

If we assume the religious proposition that god is all-knowing and wants a relationship with me, I'd leave it up to him/her to figure out what would convince me that he/she exists. I could think of many things, such as growing back limbs, that would perhaps sway me in the direction of his existence but I would immediately think that there's perhaps some mechanism that I don't know anything about at work and I would set out to understand it. So yes, if god wants me (needs me) to believe in him, I'll let him use his superpowers to figure out what would convince me beyond the shadow of a doubt. It's in his own interest, anyway; I haven't needed a god for years.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 17:27:44 UTC | #933708

Go to: What do you say to your faith-based neighbors?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 130 by korben

Later, I "experienced" cognitively and emotionally a deep sense of coherence in the presence of what could be described by an outsider as "an imaginary friend", who, nevertheless, seemed more real than anything around me.

Have you read anything about the Third Man factor? I've heard stories of and from extreme athletes and people who were in circumstances where a "decoupling" of the mind leads to this phenomenon which is totally real for those experiencing it, even having conversations with this third (or fourth, etc) person. That may explain what you experienced, too.

link text

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:50:11 UTC | #926981

Go to: Melvyn Bragg attacks Richard Dawkins' 'atheist fundamentalism'

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by korben

“We start with emotions and passions and feelings, the roots of which we don’t know and perhaps will never know,” he said.

I beg to disagree. Many emotions and passions and feelings have their roots in an onrush of hormones, as found by science. Regardless, even if we didn't know the roots, that wouldn't mean that we shouldn't try to find them. Isn't that how progress is made? Should we have stayed in caves panic-struck by lightning, or continue to treat epileptics with exorcisms?

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 14:03:14 UTC | #926928

Go to: A Beautiful New Scientific American Archive (Which Is Free for a Short Time)

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by korben

Comment 5 by ANTIcarrot :

To read this article in full you will need to log in or gain access through a site license (see right). nature.com > Journal home > Table of Contents

Free? Has the time limit already expired?

I'm experiencing the same, is there any secret handshake or something we should know about?

Thanks

Fri, 04 Nov 2011 21:46:39 UTC | #887457

Go to: Tired of arguing with friends and family

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by korben

I read in the Oct-Nov 2011 issue of Free Inquiry that beliefs are actually physical; they're neural pathways built maybe after years of believing in the same thing and become stronger with use. So trying to get somebody to change their mind is very hard work, as it requires a rewiring of the brain. The article references a conversation with Chris Mooney for Mother Jones, where you can read the following:

Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney

It's an interesting conversation, and pertaining to the topic of this discussion. Unfortunately you need a subscription to read the full article online, still here's the link to the magazine:

Free Inquiry

Now, Chris Mooney is a controversial character with his Templeton Foundation award and whatnot, but I can attest to the veracity of the quote above nonetheless. Sometimes it takes so long to change somebody's mind that it may not even be worth trying, unless you have all the time in the world and the rewards are significant. With some family members and their crazy beliefs, homeopathy for example, I've just resorted to a "Whatever" attitude and changed the topic to food, little Johnny's birthday, etc.

K

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 21:47:25 UTC | #884377

Go to: Tired of arguing with friends and family

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by korben

The thing that gets me is when I point something out and they flat out reject it; then Oprah says the same thing and it's like she revealed the secrets of the universe to them and they take it as gospel. The problem is that when Oprah starts pushing woo, they also take it as gospel. Again, no critical thinking whatsoever. Also, it makes me think that fame trumps reason every time and that I can be right and argue until I'm blue in the face, I have no power against celebrity woo. We need a celebrity with a brain (and boobs, too, in case a brain doesn't sell enough) to push the truth out. Imagine if Jenny McCarthy were an evolutionary biologist!

Mon, 24 Oct 2011 22:12:10 UTC | #883791

Go to: Tired of arguing with friends and family

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by korben

I've come to the same point of frustration and tried the silent approach, that is, there are subjects that I just don't talk about anymore and that makes me very sad as it has created a gulf between my family (even very close family, such as my wife) that I can't find a way to close. It is said that it's very difficult to use logic to convince someone that arrived at a certain conclusion precisely by discarding all logic. What kind of evidence can you provide to somebody who discards all evidence? What kind of logic can prove your logic when logic is disregarded and even considered a reprehensible trait (you have to "feel", not "think")?

If somebody cares to look for the truth regarding for example claims about a new vacuum cleaner or a deodorant but doesn't care about (or even rejects) the truth when it comes to other more significant things such as religion, well being, health, economy, etc. then it's an uphill battle. I can only hope that at one point, clinging to false beliefs will come crashing upon their heads (take those homeopathy drops or pray to your god if your child gets cancer instead of seeking medical treatment and pretty soon you'll have to admit the foolishness of your beliefs) and that at least my approach to things will eventually lead them by example. I've tried everything and as you said, the discussions end up badly because we have different takes on life; I want to get to the truth of things, as tough as truth can sometimes be, while the other party just wants to feel good. I think that it would be intellectually and even morally dishonest on my part to accept anything else than the truth. If I can't be honest with myself about myself then why should I be honest with anybody or expect honesty from anybody else either. In my mind, the only way to grow as a human being is by being honest, brutally honest, starting with myself; it's a never ending process of examining myself, my beliefs, my attitudes, my knowledge, etc and replacing or refining them every day.

So in the end I think that, sadly, sometimes you just have to follow your own path and let everybody else figure out by themselves what they want from life and accept the consequences of their double standards and self-deceptions. I haven't found a way to chip away at the belief system of somebody who refuses to think critically. That's something that they have to decide by themselves. You're probably a mile ahead, you've probably been where they are now and can perfectly understand where they come from, but they won't understand you until they decide, on their own, to walk down the path of reason the same way you did. I think it's a pretty common feeling of frustration and impotence among freethinkers and there are probably very few that have succeeded at changing somebody else's ideas (or lack thereof).

Mon, 24 Oct 2011 18:17:28 UTC | #883741

Go to: Announcing The Clergy Project - Support for pastors and priests leaving the pulpit

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by korben

Comment 24 by Paley :

As a committed Christian, I applaud your efforts in finding an exit strategy for those who have lost their faith. The church is not helped with unbelievers in the pulpit. I believe this effort will actually strengthen the church.

I always find the term "lost their faith" as something with a negative connotation, something to be sad about. As in "I lost my house in a fire" or "I lost my family in a plane crash". How about using something more meaningful and truthful? How about something like "regained their sanity"? or, "stopped lying to themselves and others"? It would look so much better and accurate. Let me fix your statement, then:

As a committed Christian, I applaud your efforts in finding an exit strategy for those who have stopped lying to themselves and others.

or,

As a committed Christian, I applaud your efforts in finding an exit strategy for those who have regained their sanity.

There, much better now.

The "strengthen the church" bit is just wishful thinking, but that doesn't surprise me, it's what you're used to. There's strength in numbers, as some say. How strong will the church be if there's (almost) no one left, no one to fool anybody else?

Thu, 20 Oct 2011 11:50:53 UTC | #882373

Go to: Church HIV prayer cure claims 'cause three deaths'

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by korben

It goes something like this: if I place a sign on my front lawn saying "Bob, medical advice" then I'll probably be thrown in jail for a dozen different reasons. Now, if the sign said "Reverend Bob, medical advice", then not only that I won't end up in jail but I could also get some nice tax cuts and even a loan. Why does religion make it OK and even reward criminal behaviors? It's about time that the religious stopped being treated as exceptions to every rule that makes for a civilized society.

Tue, 18 Oct 2011 15:42:59 UTC | #881854

Go to: Anecdote vs. fact

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by korben

Comment 12 by jesusdiedLOL :

I think the willingness on behalf of the idiot to believe nonsense stems from the idiot's desire to obtain secret/special knowledge which will only be delivered by another idiot, as he/she will neglect to investigate anything beyond what is seen on tevevision.

Homeopathy, religion, ghosts, 2012 apocalypse, psychics etc are all memes which get passed around gullible minds like wildfire.

The idiot tribe LOVE to shamelessly advocate nonsense to annoy the smart tribe. In the process they fool themselves, and will never understand the plausible explanation anyway.

The dumb tribe don't understand that to be a good skeptic, you need to be a thorough skeptic, not just be skeptical of things in general without thoroughly investigating both sides.

I know exactly how the OP feels here. I get drinven nuts by my girlfriends Mother, who believes all of my nonsense list without any basis, other than "I heard of a lady who said..."

You have probably noticed as well that no matter how much evidence you present to show them that they're wrong in believing whatever nonsense they believe in, "I heard of a lady who said..." (no evidence required) still carries more weight in their minds. I think that's because what the lady said confirms what your gf's mother believes, a.k.a confirmation bias. Also, I think there's a certain degree of immaturity, and some people still like to live in a world of magic, fairies, unicorns etc. like when they were kids, refusing to grow up. So they'll reject anything you say that will force them out of the magic world and into the real world. Finally, there's the argument from authority. Some family members of mine will believe anything their guru says without even stopping to think about it but won't take anything I say dismissing, for example, energy healing, homeopathy, dousing, horoscopes, etc. Case in point, the guru said that they can mix human DNA with dragon DNA (I'm not making this up, I swear) to gain strength. I can't get them to see that this is 100% BS, that dragons don't exist and that people already have enough trouble accepting another human's DNA. It's my word against the authority's, so I lose. Makes me wonder what my place in the family is, but that's a different subject.

Wed, 21 Sep 2011 17:23:42 UTC | #873642

Go to: Anecdote vs. fact

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by korben

Comment 12 by jesusdiedLOL :

I think the willingness on behalf of the idiot to believe nonsense stems from the idiot's desire to obtain secret/special knowledge which will only be delivered by another idiot, as he/she will neglect to investigate anything beyond what is seen on tevevision.

Homeopathy, religion, ghosts, 2012 apocalypse, psychics etc are all memes which get passed around gullible minds like wildfire.

The idiot tribe LOVE to shamelessly advocate nonsense to annoy the smart tribe. In the process they fool themselves, and will never understand the plausible explanation anyway.

The dumb tribe don't understand that to be a good skeptic, you need to be a thorough skeptic, not just be skeptical of things in general without thoroughly investigating both sides.

I know exactly how the OP feels here. I get drinven nuts by my girlfriends Mother, who believes all of my nonsense list without any basis, other than "I heard of a lady who said..."

You have probably noticed as well that no matter how much evidence you present to show them that they're wrong in believing whatever nonsense they believe in, "I heard of a lady who said..." (no evidence required) still carries more weight in their minds. I think that's because what the lady said confirms what your gf's mother believes, a.k.a confirmation bias. Also, I think there's a certain degree of immaturity, and some people still like to live in a world of magic, fairies, unicorns etc. like when they were kids, refusing to grow up. So they'll reject anything you say that will force them out of the magic world and into the real world. Finally, there's the argument from authority. Some family members of mine will believe anything their guru says without even stopping to think about it but won't take anything I say dismissing, for example, energy healing, homeopathy, dousing, horoscopes, etc. Case in point, the guru said that they can mix human DNA with dragon DNA (I'm not making this up, I swear) to gain strength. I can't get them to see that this is 100% BS, that dragons don't exist and that people already have enough trouble accepting another human's DNA. It's my word against the authority's, so I lose. Makes me wonder what my place in the family is, but that's a different subject.

Wed, 21 Sep 2011 17:23:42 UTC | #873641

Go to: Evidence for homeopathy?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by korben

Comment 23 by raytoman :

Hey! we only found out about microbes recently and we still use leeches to bleed people (it works for specfic situations)

Maggots will help suppurating wounds and have saved lives until antibiotics are available. Paw Paw is used occasionally on wounds and many medicines have been developed from plants where efficacy led to study and isolation of a useful compound.

OK. Maybe much of homeopathy is at best placebo but some of it works and little of it is actually harmful. Contrast this with what Drug Companies are doing. Find a drug that postiively affects something. Get it approved and then get it prescribed for as many things as possible.

I know Thalomide is a great drug (unless taken by pregnant women) but many other drugs do no good for most people taking them (e.g. Statins for women) but they do of course make a fortune of the drug companies. Do you know anyone who isn't taking Asprin? It used to be the drug of choice form suicides.

If the production capacity exists, keep flogging it. If there is something new, use is as an addition, not a replacement. More drugs all the time. More side effects and deaths, much of it less effective that a placebo. Homeopathy at least is unlikely to kill you (mind you I do hate leeches and maggots).

Maggots and leaches are not homeopathy. Not unless you shake them until nothing is left, or, I imagine, you're treating someone who can be called a maggot (like cures like, according to homeopaths). You have to do some reading first to see what homeopathy is all about.

Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:04:41 UTC | #873516

Go to: Evangelicals question the existence of Adam and Eve

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by korben

"From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith," says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution.

It's like saying that the Easter bunny is absolutely central to the truth claims of children who believe the bunny brings them chocolate eggs. It would be terrifying to recognize that such a thing is utter nonsense. So instead of discarding the nonsense, they perpetuate it because accepting that they've based their lives on lies is unfathomably scary. So let's question evolution and the notion that rabbits don't lay chocolate eggs. That's far easier. Much less honest, but a lot easier and less scary.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 21:49:52 UTC | #865328

Go to: 'Drowned' boy reveals the psychology of miracles

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by korben

Comment 27 by DavidMcC :

Point taken, Michael, but you might think that the near death of a child in the care of an organised group would trigger a mass exodus from that group. I wonder what happened/will happen in this particular church group? Would the parents buy the line that everything is under control, because "God" was supposedly there for the lucky little one? If it had been a school group instead of a church group, the next PTA would have been a stormy one, I would think, even with the "miracle", because parents can't be that stupid, can they?

What will happen is that the members of this group will become even more entrenched in their beliefs ("see? god answered our prayers, we're on the right path") and may even attract more followers. Stupidity doesn't beget reason, it only begets more stupidity.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 16:00:24 UTC | #862757

Go to: Is Christian morality psychopathic?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by korben

This may be a bit off topic but I'll ask the question anyway. What is a Christian nowadays? It seems that all those who call themselves Christians pick and chose and redefine and reinterpret what they believe in constantly and not two people believe in the same thing. So if they can't even agree on what they are, they probably are anything but Christians, meaning, they're just people who adopt the label Christian as a fashion item, and to talk about a "Christian morality" may be meaningless; I mean, which Christian's morality is the right one? Is there such a thing as "a" Christian morality?

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:09:22 UTC | #630457

Go to: Did religion give us doubt? And a note on envy

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by korben

If there were no religions, nobody would need to die for or because of them. So many lives wasted.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:35:01 UTC | #615476

Go to: Faith group at work

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by korben

Nothing good can come out of it. If anything, it will foster even more division. You could start your own weekly atheist gathering with the same purpose of discussing faith (or the opting-out of it), offering support for those having trouble with religious families or friends, or just to have a beer and watch a game on TV among friends. Who's to say that you wouldn't be boosting company morale that way?

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 18:49:25 UTC | #593103

Go to: What do you do?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by korben

Comment 23 by ccw95005 :

Fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of there being no plan, fear of no one watching out for us, fear of it all being random - those fears can be eased by religion, and most people can't bear the idea of giving up the comforts that belief in God provides.

Funny thing is, those fears were put in there by religion. So instead of rejecting the fear along with its source, they go and ask for more and somehow find comfort in it. I can't understand the gymnastics involved in this process.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 16:22:57 UTC | #553096

Go to: Sam Harris Interviewed on MSNBC's 'The Last Word' with Lawrence O'Donnell

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by korben

They're saying that the entire podcast will be posted by Nov 22. In the meantime, I'm listening to the previous debate, The great God debate, between Dan Barker and Dinesh D'Souza, and I find it quite enjoyable so far.

http://www.pcawebcast.com/316/index.htm

Thu, 18 Nov 2010 21:11:44 UTC | #549503

Go to: Chilean miners: Rival churches claim credit for the miracle

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by korben

I propose the following experiment: once the miners are out, send the priests and other religious people down the pit. Then let them pray their heart out to see if God comes and rescues them. That would put an end to the controversy whether God or technology is responsible for the rescue.

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 17:52:22 UTC | #533045

Go to: How can anyone fall for such transparent dishonesty?

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by korben

There are some really really stupid, really really gullible people, out there.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." -Albert Einstein

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 02:51:28 UTC | #520358

Go to: Catholics, it's you this Pope has abused

korben's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by korben

Comment 5 by Steve Zara :

  • Would you (like quite a few catholics I have encountered) consider the Pope a heretic and ignore him?
  • I doubt it. I remember that a few years ago, the previous Pope said something along the lines of "hell doesn't exist, it's not a physical place" or something like that. Catholics went on ignoring what their own leader, the one that gets the messages straight from the invisible man in the sky (supposedly) said. As you see, they are so crazy, so delusional, that they only believe what they want to, even when their own Pope asks them to please stop believing that crazy stuff. So don't be surprised if they continue to support Rat Zinger even if they see images of him raping a kid on national television. They'll probably find a way to rationalize the irrational.

    K

    Updated: Thu, 09 Sep 2010 16:20:27 UTC | #514726