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Comments by Thor'Ungal

Go to: UPDATED 1/1/10: Last minute offer! A HUGE Thank You! The last day of our fundraising drive

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Thor'Ungal

well, while the offer to pick Richard's pocket is still on the table...

cost you another 50USD

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 01:46:00 UTC | #427009

Go to: Obama will move to veto Bush laws

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Thor'Ungal

Comment #281191 by dochmbi

False Dichotomy. Do neither, ween your country off oil altogether, pay market value to other sovereign nations for what oil you still need.

reminds me of a similar question:

"which is the lesser evil. Beating your wife or abusing your children."

Neither, get help.



Mon, 10 Nov 2008 00:40:00 UTC | #267475

Go to: Darwin's specimens go on display

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Thor'Ungal

Comment #280578 by Godfree Gordon

Can I just say to all y'all in the Northern Hemisphere that the whole of Australia is breathing a sigh of guys will want to get passports again I suspect :-)

Agreed. Say what you want about John Howard (and I have said many bad things about him). He could at least string two words together without embarrassing everyone and he didn't drive our economy into the ground. Having said this I for one prefer Kev as our PM.

Go Obama, finally the Bush Madness (and by extension McCain/Palin Madness) is over.

Sat, 08 Nov 2008 04:40:00 UTC | #266981

Go to: Does Religion Make You Nice?

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Thor'Ungal

Comment #280592 by Gordonmac

Homosexuality is a religion?

No just a hated minority (well by some xians and muslims). Just less hated than Atheists.

Edit Added a 'd', guess where

Sat, 08 Nov 2008 01:36:00 UTC | #266918

Go to: Children need to be sprinkled with fairy dust

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Thor'Ungal

Comment #272067 by Lumifish

I agree. I think the main thrust of the concern Dawkins might have is that magical thinking in escapism might leak into general society. Skepticism is probably key here but society in general doesn't seem to respond positively to this idea.

I personally find fantasy (and to some extent science fiction) to be of enormous value. Part of the reason for this is that it provides a toy universe with different rules to stew over. It allows ones lateral thinking to play with problems outside normal intuition. I have not heard personally of anyone that has taken these toy universes as real. If anything the fictional existence of such alien universes reminds us of how little of it is true.

The problem seems to stem more over with how we form real beliefs. Too often we take it on face value. We trust our gut feelings or circum to wishful thinking. If we like it and it sounds kind of plausible we accept it (and fail to critically investigate).

To make things worse none of us is immune to this kind of fuzzy thinking. Just think how many times you hear otherwise rational people railing against GM foods (regardless of the research). Or even us (myself included) reading an article critical of Dawkins or the new atheist movement and respond viscerally rather than absorbing criticisms and sorting the wheat from the chaff to improve our strategies.

I don't like the tone of this article but I must admit it make some valid points (many of which I'm sure Dawkins must already realise).

Edit: Bleeding typical, I finish typing and my post appears right after Richard's. I appear to have oversimplified the issue enormously; the above response seems fairly apt.

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 01:20:00 UTC | #258445

Go to: Ricky Gervais and The Archbishop Of Canterbury

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Thor'Ungal


Brilliant, hilarious. You are taking the piss, right?

It's sometimes hard to say but yes I too vote Poe's Law here.

Tue, 14 Oct 2008 23:23:00 UTC | #251061

Go to: Respect for religion now makes censorship the norm

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Thor'Ungal

There's no denying that this book should be available to purchase freely, by anyone, should they choose to but my point is that the book shouldn't be purchased just for the sole fact that you're standing up for free speech.

Agreed, write the publisher a letter of support, perhaps even look through his books for something you like but normal market forces need be allowed to determine if the book in question is any good or not.

This is somewhat reminisce of protest votes in elections, they just skew results usually in a very negative direction.

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 20:30:00 UTC | #244216

Go to: Artist Builds Temple of Science

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by Thor'Ungal

Hmmm I'm all for architecture celebrating the progress of science and understanding. But we call these things planetariums, museums and libraries. Actually I'd be all for recreating something like the library of Alexandria (although I think most of our current libraries would dwarf it by now anyhow). Hey you could put the Sistine Chapel ceiling (science edition) on top for effect. No need for a temple, it's architecture that's cool about them not the religion inside.

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 15:43:00 UTC | #244142

Go to: 'God as Science Fiction'. Richard Dawkins at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Thor'Ungal

There does seem to be a bottleneck here. Site's too popular =P

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 17:24:00 UTC | #243523

Go to: Hail, ceaseless complexity: Review of 'Reinventing the Sacred'

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Thor'Ungal

I have a feeling many people rail against reductionism because of the amalgamating effect the brain has on experience. Things feel distinct and unreducible, reducing it therefore feels unnatural. The feeling of red or falling in love or teenage angst at living in practical world with ideological notions just doesn't seem to break down to chemistry and physics. This is of course irrespective of whether it does or not but hey we're all human I guess.

Sun, 28 Sep 2008 23:31:00 UTC | #242882

Go to: Why There Almost Certainly Is a God, By Keith Ward

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Thor'Ungal

This is somewhat too obvious to bother mentioning but how is introducing a god into the mix making the problem simpler. We currently have a world that because of the way it is we can talk about it. We aren't sure of all it's rules but we've made and are making progress. The proposal is that we introduce an intelligent entity of the type we know took billions of years to evolve here (only this one's bigger, better and invisible) and place it at the beginning of the universe. Now we don't just have allot of fantastically difficult scientific problems to solve. We have a vastly more inexplicable entity with properties seemingly plucked from thin air and stated truth. And they whinge about us speculating.

By the way, what exactly is wrong with simply saying that yea, if the universe were different then we wouldn't be here to talk about it. Isn't it a bit egocentric to believe that life or even human beings were the purpose for the big bang???

To it I say Bah,


Edit: clarification

Sat, 27 Sep 2008 23:55:00 UTC | #242291

Go to: Hadron Collider halted for months

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Thor'Ungal

"Awww... I was really looking forward to hearing news about the Higgs boson soon. :(

Two months... that means I have to wait to at least until end of november."

I think it'll be a few years yet before they finish analysing the data on that experiment. I heard somewhere (unverified and possibly unreliable) that'll take at least a year before they have the results of even their most simple experiments.

Sun, 21 Sep 2008 00:43:00 UTC | #237903

Go to: Art teacher made student pray to Jesus for forgiveness

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Thor'Ungal

"She abused her authority, and should be punished, I agree with that. Though I don't think she should lose her job over a single case of this... if she is known to abuse her authority, or does it again, then she should lose her job over it. Other than that, lighten up."

I agree, this was wrong and should be grounds for repremand but hardly for sacking. It might also be noted that given the visceral reaction evident here the teacher herself probably needs help.

Less making Martyrs and more naming and shaming I think.

Edit: spelling, I miss my spellchecker

Sat, 20 Sep 2008 19:07:00 UTC | #237826

Go to: Sleek Probe To Map Earth's Gravity

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Thor'Ungal

This is almost certainly a stupid question but how do they compensate for the moon?

Thu, 11 Sep 2008 05:51:00 UTC | #232659

Go to: Gaming Evolves

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Thor'Ungal

The game is essentially theistic evolution, I guess it would have to be otherwise there would be nothing to play. I've got to see if I can score a copy (price and time dependent).

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 17:30:00 UTC | #228756

Go to: Atheism could be science's contribution to religion

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by Thor'Ungal

This somewhat reminds me of a sermon at the Unitarians group I attend on "spirituality". I always had a problem with the word (so does the minister I think, she just doesn't have a better word). What made it all a little surreal was the way the term was redefined. When finished the term made Richard and Dan look more spiritual than just about any priest or new ager I've ever seen.

I think NOMA is a twin edged sword for these people, it cuts both ways. Listening to Rowan Williams on "The Genius or Charles Darwin PT3" gives one pause to realize that the whole thing is imploding from the inside.

"the only contribution that science can make to the ideas of religion is atheism"

and most them don't even realize it's happening. Good riddance if you ask me.

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 10:06:00 UTC | #225818

Go to: On TV: The Genius of Charles Darwin: Presented by Richard Dawkins

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 519 by Thor'Ungal

This has probably been asked before but I was curious on what the unedited Rowan Williams interview was like. He sounded like a man drowning and I personally wondered how he dug himself back out.

Dear Richard and the community,

Disregarding the truly feeble-minded who claim the world is only a few thousand years old, the objection to science from the likes of Rabbi Boteach that there would have had to be too many variations in the geological time available has a veneer of plausibility, and actually I don't know about this issue in any detail, or how to answer it convincingly. I, in my almost complete lack of paleotonoligcal knowledge, admit to this same nagging doubt. Your example of the relationship between reptilian and mammalian jaws was fascinating, but I would like more, to get a full overview of this field. I have read Climbing Mount Improbable. What is another good text with which to further educate myself? I would like to suggest that Richard could address this issue in some form in writing, or in more direct media, from a more specialist perspective and lay out the evidence in some detail.

Yours with so little time and so much to learn,

try "your inner fish" a bit boring in places as he sort of gives us his life's story but it explains alot

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 06:12:00 UTC | #225065

Go to: Kamikaze bacteria illustrate evolution of co-operation

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Thor'Ungal

Joe, are you a parody or a troll by chance. It's a little hard to take you conspiracy theory ranting on face value and you don't seem to have much in the way of comment history.

I fear that if peered reviewed studies aren't enough for you then neither side will have anything to go on. Both sides will simply say that the evidence on the other side is lies and conspiracies. Either that or you side will degrade into saying evolution is the work of the devil and lies to promote atheism.

Ooh do we have a link for him to go to so he can express his ideas elsewhere to get torn apart by people in the know? There's got to be a Harun Yahya thread somewhere.

Isn't he still in jail??

edit: Man I'm too slow at this, several comments just in the time it took to write this.

Sat, 23 Aug 2008 06:44:00 UTC | #222907

Go to: Kamikaze bacteria illustrate evolution of co-operation

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Thor'Ungal

What was that...

what is with religious people and capitals. Joe, Richard has said no. How many Biologists are there out there that would take up said challenge. In this kind of debate wouldn't it be better dealt with by correspondence. Surely the sheer scope of the subject (especially when dealing with "irreducible complexity") requires some time in front of peer reviewed papers to answer properly. Why exactly do some people think that science is best discussed in a debate format anyway.

Try Ken Miller or someone, keep Atheism out of the argument (or is that really what you wanted to discuss).

Sat, 23 Aug 2008 05:23:00 UTC | #222871

Go to: Kamikaze bacteria illustrate evolution of co-operation

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Thor'Ungal

Kin selection, Like ants. It would be more interesting to find an article about mutually cooperative bacteria that were not related. It might shed some light on the Eukaryote revolution.
Ah sorry off topic.

Sat, 23 Aug 2008 05:03:00 UTC | #222862

Go to: Saudi Arabia Bans Dog Walking in Capital

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Thor'Ungal

I just read in Wiki that "Muslims are traditionally encouraged to regard cats as lovable and cherished creatures, and mistreating a cat (or any other animal) is seen as a severe sin in Islam." Given this, isn't it wrong to forbid walking dog who need the exercise as well as the chance to relieve themselves? The oafs who came up with this law must never had had the joys of a pet when growing up. How sad and pathetic all this is.

I think this is the point. Muhammed Liked cats, hated dogs. So to follow suit dogs are thought of as unclean by Islam. I don't totally understand to prohibition of cats though.

Of course this is entirely beside the point. Religious ideas with inadequate secular justification should not be imposed on people. Yet another reason the world needs to stand up and say what this is. Senseless and barbaric.

Mon, 11 Aug 2008 17:42:00 UTC | #216159

Go to: A cast-iron case for a secular society

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Thor'Ungal

What happens to a Gay-Muslim who says Islam is anti-gay?

Does he disappear up his own arsehole?

He/she'll either get ignored, killed, persecuted, deconverted, "turned straight", or join a liberal version of his/her religion (I'm sure it exists somewhere).

this isn't far off what has happened (and in some cases still is happening) to Christianity.

Keep the society secular, keep competing religions from killing us all and eventually the majority will drift to liberal faiths. Or am I just being naive?

Sun, 03 Aug 2008 18:29:00 UTC | #212331

Go to: Nine face stoning death in Iran

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 134 by Thor'Ungal

Comment #214685 by Cartomancer,

Not sure how relevant it is but I think some of this might be hardwired in a sense (by no means saying it's a good thing, in case that needed saying). I remember an hearing Steven Pinker talking about negotiating tactics that could be used with people that have some idea of your thoughts. It works out that in certain circumstances the less reasonable you are the better your outcome.

It may very well go a ways to explaining why people will brutally and descisively defend their honour. I imagine that this would provide an increadably strong impetis to take such peoples threats seriously and therefore provide an evolutionary advantage. Love's very nasty flip side I think might be murderous jealosy.

Mix this with an unhealthy dose of patriarchy and religious certainty, devalue women to just above cattle and it's not entirely unusual to see this sort of thing emerge.

I think our western values are harder won than some people think. People need the right environment to act well to one another, without it well...human nature has a nasty side.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:56:00 UTC | #203773

Go to: [UPDATED] Venomous Snakes, Slippery Eels and Harun Yahya

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 558 by Thor'Ungal

I give you:

a crocosquirrel

yea I know it's hard to tell, well that's evolution for you.

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 01:58:00 UTC | #196406

Go to: Conversation between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 93 by Thor'Ungal

Funny I got into a conversation with a Hindu once and got a fairly similar reply as to the nature of the Hindu gods as Christianity has about the trinity. I think they just don't want to be labeled polytheist.

I always marvel at the faith of the appostles line. This seems to miss the fact that alot of people die screaming for beliefs that he doesn't hold, many of them due to "experiences" they believe they had. People are just easily convinced (especially 2000 years ago).

I think the line was something like:

If a miracle is talked about then we should look at the force of contrary opinions. Only if the falsity of the testament to the miracle is an even greater miracle that the one being offered should we lend weight to it.

(badly paraphrased and I think it was from Hume, dunno but the argument still fits)

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 01:06:00 UTC | #196391

Go to: Non-voters: It's all in God's hands

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by Thor'Ungal

Voters or not, that Louisiana bill has been signed. Fairytales in science class is now OK.

Perfect, finally we can stop the lie of gravity from pervading our children's minds.

This might sound odd but here in Aus I don't think I was ever introduced to evolution in school, I had to look it up. Mind you I majored in Engineering so I supposed there was little drive to teach Biology.

Sat, 28 Jun 2008 06:54:00 UTC | #190665

Go to: World Youth Day condom protest against Pope

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by Thor'Ungal

Someone probably said the same thing about Christians a couple thousand years ago.

This just suggests we need to keep an eye on them. But until they develop plans for world domination they still seem harmless.

Tue, 24 Jun 2008 16:08:00 UTC | #188872

Go to: Should We Rid The Mind of God? A Debate

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Thor'Ungal

I find it hard to see why believers feel they have any more "meaning of life" than we do. We are unbelievably happy that we are alive. They are unbelievably happy that they will be saved from their wretched, sinful existence, go to heaven and live FOREVER worshiping God.

Don't know about you but doesn't this beg the question "why" should this be concidered a meaning of life. It's almost like saying that the meaning of life for a dairy cow is to provide the farmer with milk. Externalising your meanings to life do not go about solving them.

On another point (previously made) I have trouble reconing why the idea of existing forever doesn't give more people the creeps. How many billions of years would it take before you went insane just for a bit of variety.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 23:55:00 UTC | #188419

Go to: Pastors Challenge Law, Endorse Candidates From Pulpit

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Thor'Ungal

I agree with the pastor in a certain respect, some tax laws need revising.

Pay Caesar his due then you can spread all the "free speech" you like. Well, baring the usual hate speech limitation everyone else has to abide by.

oh wait...atheists...homosexuals...hmmm not sure how well the usual kind of free speech will serve you.

oh well it'll all get better once Jesus comes down and takes all that pesky libertarianism away from us. Should be any day now...right.

I wish them good luck in recovering from their illness,


Fri, 20 Jun 2008 20:23:00 UTC | #187053

Go to: Thinking ahead: Bacteria anticipate coming changes in their environment

Thor'Ungal's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Thor'Ungal

i for one welcome our new bacterial overlords.

Welcome? they've been dominating the food chain for a while now. Where do you think the idea of black magic came from. A guy you wish harm to is walking along and starts to get progressively ill, no one stabbed him and he ate the same meal you did so you review what you did the previous day while thinking how much you'd like to stick the fellow.

Bacteria, can't live without them. Likely to kill you in the end. Almost certain to get at your corpse when you're done with it.

Aka above us in the food chain.

Oh, I too welcome our old bacterial overlords.


Fri, 20 Jun 2008 20:08:00 UTC | #187050