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Comments by Galactor

Go to: FFRF announces fund to aid nonbelieving clergy

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Galactor

"It is hard to think of any other profession which it is so near to impossible to leave," writes Richard Dawkins.

I can think of one.

The mafia.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:27:34 UTC | #940392

Go to: Update - Sanal Edamaruku under attack for exposing Catholic "miracle"

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by Galactor

Couldn't Jesus do better than let water drip off his toes in some Indian backwater?

Why not just return and end everyone's waiting around? Even sceptics would be more than happy.

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 14:41:28 UTC | #934613

Go to: Q&A: Pell vs Dawkins - April 9, Easter Monday night

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 106 by Galactor

I have never seen anyone make so much stuff up in such a short time.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 16:28:17 UTC | #933916

Go to: [Update - WCTV Video] Teresa MacBain - coming out - American Atheists Conference March 26, 2012

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Galactor

Comment 27 by Teresa Macbain :

Thanks to all of you for your kindness and support. The backlash has begun and it's tough for me right now. It helps to know that I have friends like you guys.

Forgive them, for they really don't know what they do. They are utterly in the grip of a mind virus - that you have shrugged off - that tells them that they are saved and that we are doomed. You would think that that should be good enough for them.

Best wishes Teresa.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 16:14:56 UTC | #932572

Go to: Bioethicist Richard Dawkins: Morality, Society Can Be "Intelligently Designed"

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Galactor

Comment 14 by alphonsus :

Not really. The ability to "work it out for themselves" is an expression of what Christianity understands as the Natural Law,

Christianity "understands" nothing when it comes to nature. It has nothing at all to say about that natural world whatsoever. Neither do other religions.

in other words people are endowed with the natural ability to arrive at the truth through their use of reason,

Indeed. They have been "endowed" just as other creatures have been endowed with a moral sense by the slow process of evolution. This is not only well understood and researched, it is by a country mile, the best explanation we have for morality. It fits.

as beings created in the image of God.

Unfortunately there is no evidence whatsoever for whatever is meant by god. None at all. It is an unnecessary, non-parsimonious, non-explanation to say that god poofed morality into us, even more so given that we have good evidence that morality is part of our evolutionary heritage. God explains nothing. He is superfluous and there is no reason to believe it exists.

Unaided reason can't always arrive at the full truth,

Unaided? What's that? Society and communities aid us in bringing about the Zeitgeist and we all have a sense of what is wrong and right based upon fairness which is probably derived from our evolutionary heritage.

but in principle

There is no principle to what you are writing. None at all.

the truth revealed by God (through the bible and the church) is the same as that arrived at by reason.

God (who doesn't even exist) has revealed ... nothing.

Faith and reason, as the church has been saying for a long time, are not contradictory but complementary pathways leading to the truth.

The church has been declaring by fiat that they are one and the same. You may have swallowed that but the merest scrutiny should disabuse anyone of this nonsense. The enlightenment which trashed the contents of the bible and resigned it to myth status has steadily been showing that the "truth" is what we can demonstrate with a degree of repeatability and independence. The only "truth" left over the church is found in perverted and corrupted (theological) philosophy.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 16:02:12 UTC | #932569

Go to: In Defense of Dawkins’s Reason Rally Speech

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Comment 6 by Zeuglodon :

This is a good bit:

And, in fact, if Catholics had the slightest confidence in their more absurd teachings, they wouldn’t be threatened at all by the prospect of atheists routinely asking them (or their brethren) if they actually believed what Catholicism teaches. The response in all the Catholic articles about Dawkins should have read, “Professor Dawkins, I’ll answer your question: Yes! I believe in the true transsubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, and here’s why it’s more rational than not believing in it.” And they should have followed that up with triumphalist exhortations to fellow believers to proudly affirm their belief in it. And the bemoaners of “Cafeteria Catholicism” should have joined Dawkins in raising the bar on their fellow Catholics and said, “Either start accepting Church teachings or admit you’re an atheist like Professor Dawkins calls you to!” I suspect though that they doubt, as much as Dawkins doubts, that many believers would find those appeals as inspiring as an appeal to their sense of persecution and grievance.

I second that. It exposes (a) the technique of deflection in which the religious are avoiding pointing at that large elephant in the room and (b) it highlights just how absurd the beliefs are. They are not rising to the simple challenge (how can they) of answering to the scrutiny and they are not demanding that the flock admit what it is they are supposed to stand for.

That final point is possibly quite telling. Do the sophisticates sub-consiously wish to avoid having to point at the elephant with their flock at their side?

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 09:46:06 UTC | #932091

Go to: Why Reason Rally?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by Galactor

Comment 46 by TrevorG :

If reason really IS the counter to religion then there should be no need to be anti-religious or counter religion, the better solution, if you truly trust reason is to counter irrationality and the opposites of reason itself - this is probably best done through the things mentioned above. Promoting education, facts, logic - in its true form:

Reason ISN'T the counter to religion. The prevention of the supposed inalienable right of parents to directly or indirectly indoctrinate their children into religion, is the counter to religion.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 18:33:19 UTC | #930397

Go to: Why Reason Rally?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Galactor

Comment 46 by TrevorG :

Here is the problem: If you want to promote reason, and reach even religious people, you can't stand on anti-religious sentiments.

If you truly believe reason will lead people to become non-religious then you do not need to oppose religion at all, and in fact, opposing anything is counter-productive.

If you truly believe reason will lead to your goals, then you can promote pure reason without the need for reproaching one particular group or sect of people, the religious.

Rational people have been pointing out to the religious just how daft their beliefs are in the nicest, kindest, most tolerant of ways for centuries. They have been treading on eggs and walking around the feelings of believers who have built up the invisible wall that makes questioning the religious a form of insult.

Science has been pushing god into the smallest of corners - he only exists these days in the murky waters of philosophy which bends over backwards to provide "arguments" for his existence.

It has changed nothing. Civility and evidence have done not one jot to change the religious.

When rational argument doesn't work, are you surprised that ridicule and derision come into play?

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 18:30:35 UTC | #930396

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

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 246 by Galactor

Comment 243 by merlinaeus :

The concept of original sin enters the story to explain why things go wrong in a world that, according to the poem (let's call it that) of genesis 1, was created good and perfect.

What is so "good and perfect" about a created world which pits organism against organism in a struggle for life, a sort of experiment that would have Josef Mengele clapping his hands in glee and delight, that had been going on billions of years before could look back and realise we couldn't even identify which was the first homo sapiens within hundreds of generations?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 09:02:57 UTC | #927740

Go to: Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by Galactor

I suppose if it's possible to prohibit Christians openly wearing religious paraphernalia at their places of work, it opens the way to prohibit the burka in public ...

Sun, 11 Mar 2012 14:23:09 UTC | #926161

Go to: The "So" meme

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by Galactor

Comment 73 by hitchens_jnr : Reported speech doesn't really have anything to do with the present tense. It's when you paraphrase what someone said without using their exact words. Thus "He said 'I'm very happy' " is direct speech (because you're quoting the other person's actual words), while "he said that he was very happy" is reported speech (because you're not using the exact words, but reporting what 'he' said). Another term for reported speech is "indirect statement."

Damn! I think on reflection you are right. I am going to find that book and work out why I am confused.

I still have this "feeling" that there is a valid form of reporting in the present tense, that which took place in the past. It rings true that indirect statement is indeed reported speech.

Thanks for your putting this right.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 20:38:48 UTC | #924396

Go to: Dress-wearing 73 year-old unmarried celibate man vehemently supports thing he has no experience of

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Comment 5 by Tyler Durden :

Comment 4 by Galactor :

Is there a descriptive noun for satire meeting truth?


Brilliant! Thank you for that.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 20:20:29 UTC | #924391

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 186 by Galactor

Comment 181 by Steve Zara : Then, what we are left with is usages of these terms that makes rational sense - life based on biology, and free will based on determinism.

That sound suspiciously like a religion to me. At best, a call to deny the facts to get through the day.

Why bother? Why not call a spade a spade?

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 20:18:17 UTC | #924389

Go to: Dress-wearing 73 year-old unmarried celibate man vehemently supports thing he has no experience of

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Galactor

Is there a descriptive noun for satire meeting truth?

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 19:44:23 UTC | #924377

Go to: The "So" meme

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by Galactor

Comment 54 by Richard Dawkins :

How do you make that out? It is absolutely straight-down-the-line present tense, not a whiff of past tense about it. If you think that grammatical construction is anything but present tense, please say what your present tense would look like and how it would differ.

In one of my grammar books, the practice of speaking (and I mean out loud) in the present tense about events in the past is called "reported speech". It is a perfectly sound grammar when spoken, but not written (unless, of course, it is written as reported speech).


Sun, 04 Mar 2012 19:08:26 UTC | #924366

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 174 by Galactor

Comment 173 by Steve Zara :

I really can't find much to agree with there. I don't understand what the motivation is for attempting to remove the use of "free will". As I have posted before, there are similar terms that we have discovered don't have the meaning we think they did, and yet they have survived because they do describe something real.

I hope you place some comments there - it would be interesting to see how Coyne reacts.

So, I'm at a loss as to understand what is supposed to be gained by getting rid of the term "free will". It seems no less absurd than to insist that because we don't believe in vitalism, nothing in our world should be considered "alive".

There may be semantic confusion involved in these discussions but let's remember that free will is a theological construction that is erected to resolve problems between theology and reality.

Is the internal subconscious free to decide what to do? Maybe. Is it controlled by genetic dispositions and learned experience? Very likely. Is the conscious experience connected to the subconscious? Of course it is. Is the conscious experience driving our activity and behaviour? Evidence suggests not. It seems that the conscious experience is a perception of the subconscious mind.

Does it matter? To theology it's pretty destructive. And like Coyne says (and I said earlier) philosophy has said all it can - now we need science to make any progress and to assist us in finding out the reality. To us as humans I don't think it makes a bean of difference.

Life is an illusion. So what?

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:00:58 UTC | #924328

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 172 by Galactor

I don't think the belief that someone drinks water because they are thirsty has been undermined utterly. That's absurd sophistry.

You've read Trivers' book? You've read V.S. Ramachandran? Have you read about the experimentation on decision making that these books report on? Have you understood, to any degree at all, what you are being told?

And since I am not a dualist, I think that if my brain decides that it's now time for me to have a drink of water, then it's really me who decides to have a drink of water. My brain controls everything I do, and it's a deterministic machine, a biological computer, than deterministically calculates all my actions and decision, including writing this. I think I'm composed of a brain and a body and nothing more, and the brain is the central control unit. So I am my brain and my brain is me.

Yeah, your brain determines what you do and how you act. So what? What has this got to do with what you are being told?

Saying that my brain determines my actions, is exactly the same as that I determining my actions.

No it isn't. For this to be true, you would have to engage in ... philosophical sophistry.

Many of the decisions I make are not determined just seconds before I make them, but years before. I have habits, beliefs, unconscious desires and preferences, that I'm not consciously aware of.

Groan. The acts that you carry out are determined unconsciously - erm, that means without you being aware of it - some time before you get to hear about it from various parts of your brain. You just think that these acts are consciously being carried out. That is what the ... EVIDENCE ... is telling us.

I don't think consciousness as such has any great part to play in what decisions I make. It's the brain that is the workhorse. And I am my brain. I am not this rather undefinable ghost called consciousness.

For someone who says that they are evidence-driven, it's a very interesting opinion. Thank for it. Now go and read up on those articles and books that use evidence and experiments, that suggest there is no free-will - only the perception of it.

It seems clear to me that consciousness is more like our output/input interface. Consciousness has more to do with communicating with other people and the outside world than it has with making decisions. But of course communication, and receiving sensory, or written information form the outside world is a vital part of what goes into making a decisions also. So in that way consciousness has an indirect part to play.

Lovely opinions. Absolutely lovely to hear what consciousnees seems clear to you to be.

So being able to listen to arguments from other people, asking for advice, looking it up in a book, do the calculations on paper, etc., are conscious activities. What goes on deeper inside the machinery of the brain is not. We don't have any eyes on the inside of our skulls, and if we did it wouldn't help us much, because it's pretty dark in there.

Except the expermentation that is taking place is making a mockery of this opinion.

But it's not necessary for us to know what's going on in there either. We can behave, talk, walk, play the piano, make decisions, etc. perfectly well without knowing all that low level information.

No, indeed, it isn't necessary. Nor should any lack of free will demean our existence. But your opinions - and this is another one - don't affect the extant research and the attempts being made to establish what that low-level activity is and relate it to decision making and behaviour. And that research is strongly suggesting that free will is a perception of control and not at all real in any sense.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 14:31:22 UTC | #924314

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 170 by Galactor

Jerry Coyne has just blogged this entry about free will.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 14:16:28 UTC | #924312

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by Galactor

Comment 77 by Tord M :

Comment 75 by Galactor :

Comment 73 by Tord M :

If you drink a glass of water because your [sic] thirsty, that's free will.

Is it?

Yes it is.

The first thing I must ask you to do is read my previous comment (72). You should conclude that I do not think (theological) philosophy has anything constructive to say about free will nor am I am fan of metaphysics.

You should also take a look at those books I mentioned. Especially the one by Trivers. They will show you that your belief that someone drinks water because they are thirsty and that it is their freely made decision to do so, is utterly undermined.

The acts that you perform in your daily life are determined seconds (sometimes as long as seven seconds) before you actually carry them out. They are influenced by things as subtle as whether you have something cold or warm in your hand.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:52:40 UTC | #923744

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 75 by Galactor

Comment 73 by Tord M :

If you drink a glass of water because your [sic] thirsty, that's free will.

Is it?

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 12:35:54 UTC | #923729

Go to: Free Will

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Galactor

Comment 2 by Zeuglodon :

Cue the endless debates on free will and determinism.

The opposite of free will is not determinism but coercion. Point to an act of free will (e.g. deciding to save that man rather than this one) and the opposite isn't "his decision was caused" but "I gave him no choice because I forced him to save this man rather than that one".

I wonder why there should be a debate on free will at all. It seems to be fairly clear from experimental evidence that there isn't such a thing at all - only a perception of it.

The notion of free will as a philosophical subject is being pushed out of consideration, slowly and inexorably, by ... empirical science. Should we be surprised?

Philosophy is dying on many fronts and this is the case as regards free will.

There are some excellent sources on behaviour that show that we are not in control of our will to the degree that we might feel we are; I highly recommend VS Ramachandran's "Phantom in the Brain" and Robert Trivers' "Deceit and Self-deception", the latter I am reading currently.

I expect that Sam Harris, in this book, doesn't lean too heavily on a philosophical treatment of free will; he doesn't need to.

In time, the free will argument will be resigned to the dustbin.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:48:33 UTC | #923722

Go to: Who has the right to prevent children learning to be tolerant of others' beliefs?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Galactor

Comment 4 by Helga Vierich :

What, do any of you really think that transmission of religious ideas to children is parental right or duty?

What do you mean by the transmission of religious ideas? Sounds a bit euphemistic but if it means an unbalanced indoctrination into a religion then I am utterly against it. It is certainly not the right of a parent to do what they like with the minds of their or anyone else's children any.

Also in the wording of the judge:

Writing for the majority, Justice Marie Deschamps said the parents failed to show that the ERC course interfered with their ability to transmit their faith to their children.

That seems like a tacit admission that parents are well within their rights to counter what their children have been taught in such ethics classes by steering them back towards the parents faith.

Of course it is only a small step from there, once a child learns to question if any one religion is the "right" one, for that child to question if ANY of them are.

Let's hope so. Questioning nonsense is a good thing. My hope is that religious education will become religious history and that ethics and philosophy classes will gradually be introduced to replace religion as our source of morality. A good dose of biological and psychological evolution would help too.

One question though: at what age do these ethics classes begin?

Sun, 26 Feb 2012 19:40:39 UTC | #922164

Go to: What's the Place of Faith in Schools?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Galactor

I was struck my how unstuck James Conroy became at around 1:19:50. "Children are not primarily the responsibility of the state" and then a few words that just lacked congruency. His argument at the beginning seemed to be "me and my wife have done the thinking and the donkey work so therefore we have the right to raise them how we feel".

Of course, it is the right of the parents - and their responsibility - to raise the children, but one would hope that it was done in view of the fact that a child's mind should be respected as being utterly open and indefensible.

No-one was saying that the children are the responsibility of the state but clearly, society and by extension the government, DOES have responsibilities toward children to ensure their safety and well-being and to act appropriately in their defence.

Conroy seemed to have misunderstood what the arguments actually were.

And he certainly didn't seem to feel that although in his mind, it was fine to promote one's own religion, it isn't necessary to raise children in a religion for them to be good members of our societies.

Sun, 26 Feb 2012 19:18:42 UTC | #922155

Go to: Is Britain a Christian country?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by Galactor

Comment 73 by Christopher Shell :

The very schools that are over-subscribed (Christian ones, and not for no reason, but because Christianity has on balance particuarly good effects and good morality associated with it, a pragmatic way of demonstrating precisely how true it is - just as the bad stats associated with secularism prove how untrue secularism is

I see.

To have a good school getting good results you need Jesus.

Otherwise the students can't learn or be taught very well.

Of course, there never has been any evidence whatsoever that faith schools are picking the best students - as is their non-secular right to do so on grounds of religion - in an attempt to show how good a physicist Jesus is.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 14:26:58 UTC | #920015

Go to: Richard Dawkins - The Census Research Explained

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Galactor

Comment 21 by QuestioningKat :

Interesting. If you've ever been in a debate (or read an internet debate) there usually comes a time when the Christian claims that the people used as an example by the atheist "are not true Christians." My guess is that they really do not care that the high statistics are a correct reflection of "true Christians", as long as it favors their views.

As I have said elsewhere, Christians will be falling over backwards to ensure that anyone who has a christian name is counted as a christian.

Or anyone who had christian forefathers that had slaves - in those days, christians were bound to have slaves weren't they?

Soon, the name Mohammed, after enough time as a popular name in a christian country like Britain, will truly be a christian name.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:42:12 UTC | #920000

Go to: Is Britain a Christian country?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 68 by Galactor

Imagine you wish to adopt a child.

The process of doing so is strenuous, taxing, demanding and exposing.

There are no guarantees that you will be successful, despite the number of children in need.

The authorities will not easily place a child in a new home. They want assurances that the foster parents are suitable to bring the child up.

I wonder how quickly they would close my dossier if I were to casually admit that I would rather my adopted child die than receive a donor transplant and live longer.

Quicker than you could say "allah akbar" no doubt.

Perhaps if I mentioned that I was a muslim, the authorities could overlook my position.

It would, after all, be in the child's interest ...

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:56:23 UTC | #919955

Go to: Is Britain a Christian country?

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by Galactor

Comment 50 by Richard Dawkins : She [Cristina Odone] is a rabid Roman Catholic and former Editor of the Catholic Herald, now on the Telegraph, which was why it was such a coup for us when she sheepishly admitted the Telegraph's real motivation for printing the article on my slave-owning ancestors. She's quite nice to meet personally.

Andrew and I were delighted, by the way, to give the idiot Muslims enough rope to hang themselves. Much better not to interrupt them, although it would have tempting, when they were going on about how the whole body has to be intact for Allah at the day of judgement, to say, "Why do you guys so love chopping off hands, then?"

I was aghast to hear the lady, as though it were quite normal, state that she would advise her children to accept death rather than life through an organ transplant. I was hoping that the presentor would have picked up on that and allow someone to point out how poisonous religion is.

I realise I am struggling to articulate just how much I despised her and Cristina Odone for her tacit support of what is nothing other than latent child abuse. I imagine that those on the atheist side could not stop their jaws from dropping in staggering disbelief at what this women said and the casual manner in which she did so.

But why was Cristina Odone not in uproar at this woman's admission? Why was she not expressing her utter disgust at the suggestion that a mother could advise her daughter to die rather than accept a transplant?

Oh that's right. She believes in the virgin birth. And when you believe in the supernatural, you have to allow others to do the same, however stupid, crazy and ignorant the beliefs are. And if their stupid beliefs direct them to advise and allow their children to die, who is Cristina Odone to object?

I have pure hatred running through my veins as I write this. If you are reading this Cristina Odone, I hope you can accept the part that your silly beliefs play in the destruction of young people who are unable to defend themselves.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:43:59 UTC | #919947

Go to: What is the proper place for religion in Britain's public life?- [Also in Polish]

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by Galactor

Comment 4 by Steve Zara :

Now this is what we need. A calm debate in which Richard's opponents don't get to try and close things down with accusations of stridency or cheap rhetorical tricks.

I am quite astonished at Hutton's deeply mistaken view of secularism and its association (or lack of) with atheism. It shows a worrying degree of ignorance of politics and history for someone in his position.

I'm glad Richard managed to clear up so many misconceptions. Good work, in my view.

I absolutely agree. I really like these reasoned exchanges and I would welcome more of them and perhaps perversely, from the less agreeable - should they dare to have their own prejudices and ignorance laid bare.

What struck me indeed was that Hutton didn't seem to know what he was arguing for or against in terms of what is secular and atheistic. Most of the exchanges I ever see or hear that have a modicum of respectful conversation, seem to highlight that those against what RDFRS stands for, just haven't understood one bean of the arguments or reasoning being put forward.

It doesn't help if there are sections of the media who should know better, are engaged in demonising and perpetuation falsehood never mind the odd journalist dunderhead.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 13:08:09 UTC | #919599

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by Galactor

Comment 65 by irate_atheist :

My grandfather was a guard on the railways, but I still hate having to travel on the bloody things every day.

You have a lot to answer for.

The railways are a disgrace.

You share a significant number of your grandfathers genes.

And we should demand that those genes are held accountable by the actions of your grandfather and his part in the railways degenerating into the shambles they now are.

You should seek out all those disadvantaged by the railway system and apologise for your part.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 17:39:59 UTC | #919301

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Galactor's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Galactor

Try securing a place on Andrew Marr's morning program on Sunday. You'll be able to rubbish them back whilst pointing out that we're not a Christian nation unless it's reasonable to point out that we can't count muslims as christians if they have a christian name.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 13:35:10 UTC | #919194