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Comments by Sjoerd Westenborg

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Reminds me a bit of the discussion we had over this case, though that was much more severe than a few god-references in music class.

I think it depends on how the content of the song is handled. Does the teacher focus on the musical aspects and not give a 30 minute speech on the god related lyrics while glossing over the others? Then I see no problem.

Are the songs used as an excuse to give a sermon, is a majority of the songs religious in nature or are the only religious references Christian... mweh better call the FFRF.

Also good to see Donohue play the persecution card again. And saying we are 'going after the children'. The man is priceless.

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 13:34:29 UTC | #950879

Go to: How atheism helped me deal with cancer

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I am glad you are making a full recovery and that you found a way to stay strong and feel in control. With your permission I would like to give a copy of this story to non-believing patients in my local hospital.

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 13:43:34 UTC | #950788

Go to: Manila floods an expression of God's wrath?

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Daisy. It's all good to call out the insanity of attributing this to a god, but we have to couple it with humanitarian help as well. If these loons really believe it's a god's will, they won't move one inch to help the victims.

Comment 5 by scottishgeologist :

According to an article in The Times, Dow is a specialist in exorcism, explaining in a leaflet entitled Explaining Deliverance that “There is a view that both oral and anal sexual practice is liable to allow entry to spirits

If you just close your eyes and block your ears, To the accumulated knowledge of the last two thousand years. Then morally, guess what? You’re off the hook. -Tim Minchin

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 13:36:42 UTC | #950787

Go to: Tired of arguing

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Thanks for the input guys, I'll try not to wrestle with the pigs too much. I'm spending my summer holiday teaching children English in a favela of Rio de Janeiro (also where the whole gay-issue came to blows) and I try to sneak in science and secularism every now and then. Feels much more productive.

Oh, and Lapithes? Don't give up your day job to become a motivational speaker yet ;)

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 13:28:42 UTC | #950786

Go to: A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I am really afraid to click the link now. It sounds like intellectual hell.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 15:33:49 UTC | #950500

Go to: Guidance in turning my children to reason

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Sjoerd Westenborg

You may have to negotiate a little bit. Surely one Sunday for you, one for her sounds reasonable, as is the 'no religious responsibilities before 18' bit. But from her perspective she is giving up big things: 2 Sundays a month, the spiritual well-being of her children, and if she had pre-18 priesthood in mind for her children, that as well.

Perhaps you could start with no spiritual responsibilities before 18, and either one Sunday for you plus a Saturday with wife and kids together in the library, watch a movie etc. Who knows, you might be able to coax her out of Mormonism a little bit on those Saturdays.

Let her get used to it, see it's not the end of the world. The kids might even start asking for more 'daddy-days' themselves.

Hope that helps.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:36:35 UTC | #950427

Go to: Altruistic 'cure' for malaria

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Sjoerd Westenborg

All valid points, and I agree it is not a perfect solution. Alan4Discussion already explained the downsides of poisoning a water source, and offered a viable alternative.

The downsides of vaccinations and mosquito-nets are that they are individual and temporary solutions. The upside of this medicine is it could wipe out the parasite and it's carrier in fairly isolated ecosystems such as islands and far away regions. Yes, mosquitoes prey on other mammals too, but killing off the mosquitoes that target humans is of course the most effective way of prevent humans to get bitten.

My question was rather whether this medicine, if proven to be effective, would still fail due to our rather ego-centric nature and short-term thinking.

Wed, 16 May 2012 11:26:44 UTC | #941808

Go to: Dinosaur Burps May Have Warmed Prehistoric Earth

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Headlines like this don't increase our credibility you know.

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:57:23 UTC | #940348

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

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Hey Gordon, my first thought exactly. Buddhism and Hinduism were included based on the interpretation that their deities are simply different aspects of one and the same god. Not sure if they agree with this interpretation of their religion, but it sure beats decapitation. The other way around, the Jews are not invited to the party.

Speaking as a layman: In the end the whole Pancasila is meant to legitimise a theocracy, posing as a tolerant democracy. Religious minorities that could be excluded without leading to too much trouble, were excluded. Monotheistic or not.

Also, can't these people see how paradoxical their justifications sound? :

...Zainuddin Datuk Rajo Lenggang, whose view seems emblematic of this worrying trend: "If you are not a religious person, you might be dangerous to others, behaving without control and doing anything you like. Religion brings order. You cannot be an individualist."

If you are a religious person, you might be dangerous to others, behaving without control and doing anything you like. Religion justifies violence. You cannot honor all basic human rights.

Thu, 03 May 2012 18:59:18 UTC | #939419

Go to: Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 27 by Anonymous :

Comment Removed by Data Monkey

Is that the name the Mods are going by nowadays? :)

Wed, 02 May 2012 01:27:15 UTC | #938893

Go to: Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 3 by MsChelle :

One of my 4th great-grandfathers was a Quaker who became excommunicated after paying a military tax and marrying outside of the Society. Afterwards, he went on to establish a Free Christian Church in Philly. In the nine generations since him, we as parents have positively educated our children about all beliefs - not just Christian. So, it is not unlike me to vehemently defend anyone who is being bullied for their beliefs.

I'm sorry if I, or the commenters here in general, sometimes cross the line between critisizing and attacking (but bullying? no.) However, on this thread I've yet to see an unnescessarily negative comment.

And how about their scientific education?

In my lifetime, I have at times thought that God was real, and when visible, he looked like the image painted on the Sistine Chapel and I've also thought that God was real, but looked more like my brain processing self-conscious thought. Whenever someone questions God's existence, I very often ask if they have ever considered that he might just be their self-conscious. It has made them think.

But if a god is just a misunderstood word for sub/supra/unconsciousness (you pick), can it still be called god? Are we not just inviting miscommunication then? Also, if a god is simply an individual's mental processes, then I see no point at all for religion. It would basically be like saying: 'The God in my head is better, so people can forget what their's is saying and listen to mine. And mine is against the use of condoms.'

And what is your view on a god at the moment? I'm genuinely curious.

Anyway, I have seen many life-long church members, agnostics, and atheist display apathy and hatred toward those who are not like them. So, I don't think it is necessarily something based upon a person's level of religious belief. Compassion is something that I think we all feel should just come naturally, but may actually be more influenced by what others teach us, rather than how we should naturally react.

So, because there are un-compassionate believers and non-believers, I think that it's more a matter of being less compassionate because you've been taught to be that way, rather than being less compassionate because you are deeply devout in your religious beliefs.

I think you interpreted the results wrong. The studies don't show who is more compassionate, but rather what motivation lies behind charitable behaviour. The less religious you are, the more your altruism is motivated by compassion. The more religious you are, the more it is motivated by other factors such as a reward in heaven, social conventions etc.

No one is saying religious people are less compassionate, good and bad people can be found everywhere. However, the amount of donations by religious people no longer supports the claim religious people are more compassionate. (You atheists have no morality!)

Tue, 01 May 2012 15:09:41 UTC | #938697

Go to: Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Finally a counter to the 'religious people donate more to charity' argument when discussing morality.

Tue, 01 May 2012 14:20:12 UTC | #938677

Go to: Where's the Beef? Early Humans Took It

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Sjoerd Westenborg

"One of my favorite images is of an Au. afarensis being dragged down by a giant otter," says vertebrate paleontologist Lars Werdelin at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

Pictures or it didn't happen :)

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 14:48:11 UTC | #938158

Go to: U.K.'s Royal Society Finds No 'Silver Bullet' for Population Issues

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Sjoerd Westenborg

You never know what your genes manipulate you to do later, but I am planning to adopt. One drop in (or from?) the ocean but hey..

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 14:38:50 UTC | #938156

Go to: [Update - statement from CfI ]Secular Group Charges Michigan Country Club with Religious Discrimination

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Isn't the Centre for Inquiry a secular group? What's so hard to understand about the difference between atheists and secularists?

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:32:43 UTC | #937989

Go to: Richard Dawkins Has a Point, Your Eminence!

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 65 by Sjoerd Westenborg

The word 'Remnant' says it all folks.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 11:53:32 UTC | #937949

Go to: Richard Dawkins Has a Point, Your Eminence!

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Sjoerd Westenborg

It’s so simple even an atheist gets it.

Should I feel offended?

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 13:43:00 UTC | #937714

Go to: Vast Structure of Satellite Galaxies & Star Clusters Discovered Surrounding Milky Way --Nixes Existence of Dark Matter in Universe

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 19:08:47 UTC | #937531

Go to: Holy Redundant

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Ok, stupid question. But I just realised this now. Doesn't the UK have a separation of State & Church clause somewhere? I know bishops in the House of Lords have been there for ages but an argument from tradition is sooo 1661.

Not even in the USA members of the clergy have legislative power by virtue of their position within a church. Then again, they have their fair share of theocrats already.

Anyone care to share some light on as to why this mostly enlightened country is so backwards in this regard?

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 12:59:10 UTC | #937196

Go to: When and where to argue faith?

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 2 by QuestioningKat :

For instance, saying that someone is just wormfood at a funeral is disrespectful to the life that touched many other lives of people present. (I hope you didn't say that. If you did, you're an idiot.)

Sorry if my post was a little hazy, of course I didn't say that. I think a funeral is way too emotive/emotional (which one is it?) to confront anyone, for reasons you articulated so well. Let alone the fact that there are much more tactful ways of putting it.

Let me rephrase the last bit of my (exaggerated) example.

However, if the priest start raving about how the deceased was cured just in time from his homosexuality, how we all should donate money to enable this soul-saving practice etc. ... you can say something about that, even at a funeral.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:22:07 UTC | #936674

Go to: When and where to argue faith?

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I rarely pass up an opportunity to start a discussion, but I always keep the following formula in mind: R = E / A + C

The amount of Respectfulness I pratice is equal to the Emotivity of the situation, divided by the Absurdity and potential harm of claims being made. And no matter the debate, Common courtesy is never a wrong thing.

For example: A funeral is quite an emotive event, and those attending a religious one are rarely pleased with your speech that there's no soul and that poor William is just wormfood now. If the priest start raving about how the deceased was cured just in time from his homosexuality, how we all should donate money to enable this soul-saving practice.. it's time to speak up.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 11:05:48 UTC | #936644

Go to: Scott Walker's Attack on a Woman's Right to Choose

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Thanks Michael.

According to your source, more women than men went to the ballot-boxes, both in relative as in absolute numbers. Ruling out possibility nr. 1.

As always, education and raising awareness seem the best counter to possibility 2.

Possibility nr. 3 just isn't encouraging at all..

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:47:42 UTC | #936633

Go to: Scott Walker's Attack on a Woman's Right to Choose

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 2 by ColdThinker :

About 50 % of American voters must be women. And it can't be that all American men vote republican candidates. By this simple logic democrats should win every election hands down. So, how do these medieval patriarchs get themselves elected? Do so many American women oppose women's rights?

The three most probable answers I can come up with are:

  1. Female voters do not constitute around 50% of US voters.
  2. (Especially young) female voters are apathic, uninformed, or pressured by family or their community.
  3. Female voters feel that their religious afifliation or republican ideals outweigh their 'personal' interests.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 08:02:37 UTC | #936618

Go to: Group blasts Marine Corps for reviving 'Crusaders' name and symbols

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Weinstein says that members of the military who contacted his group — mostly moderate Protestants and Catholics — felt that the decision was blatantly religious.

I am going to chalk one up for the moderates.

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 22:52:15 UTC | #936548

Go to: Polar Bears Evolutionarily Five Times Older and Genetically More Distinct: Ancestry Traced Back 600,000 Years

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Sjoerd Westenborg

I remember a story about a hunter having a permit to shoot 1 polar beer for his trophy room. Despicable, but besides the point here. He was in the artic, surrounded by ice and he saw a white bear. Polar bear! So he shot. It turned out to be a hybrid. The legal nightmare that followed was a mess to say the least.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:17:02 UTC | #936260

Go to: Brain Controls Paralyzed Muscles

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Some say cyborg, I say equeal opportunities for all humans.

Comment 1 by Zeuglodon :

How did they disable the monkey's connections between muscle and brain? Isn't that dangerous?

From the original article: Next, the team temporarily paralysed the flexor muscles that close the monkeys’ hands, by injecting anaesthetic into nerves in their elbows. “That model was very important, because we can turn it on and off,” says Miller. “We had no interest in actually injuring their spinal cords.”

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 16:28:38 UTC | #936057

Go to: Synthetic XNA molecules can evolve and store genetic information, just like DNA

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 25 by R Schreibermann :

God, if he (...) exists, could neither have been created, nor have suddenly come into existence. (...) Such an entity would not deserve to be called God, for then he would stand in dependence on something else, hence it would be accidental that he exists, or at the whim of another entity or phenomenon — either way, could not be called God, since such an entity’s existence has a fragility, thus the being would not be perfect, thus not God.

So either no God exists, or God exists absolutely (and did not appear) and is uncreated. This should be clear. So one … needs to make sure, one isn't not-believing in a not-God.

Now that's sophisticated technology for you. Let me start by saying it is always brave to voice your opinion in an environment that is mostly convinced of the opposite. Please follow through now. There's gold at the end of the rainbow, I promise.

Let me point out the flaw here as I see it (and I'm not perfect, thus not a god, thus feel free to correct me if I'm wrong..). You agree that infinite regression is impossible. Therefore, your mental gymnastics lead you to the escape clause that a god has always existed ("God exists absolutely"). How do you reconcile this with our concept of time and the current consensus that time started during the Big Bang (<-- this is a name, these you can write with a capital letter :).

Also, would you also care to adress my point about a god being obsolete (physics, biology etc. work fine without a god) in my previous comment? Much appreciated.

PS: Also, since it seems slightly relevant, ask if anyone knows about a recent study by psychologists at the University of Kent (GB) that points out how conspiracy theorists are able to believe two completely contradictory theories? Along the linese of: Osama was dead before the Seals entered the house + Osama is still alive in a bunker somewhere.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 16:11:01 UTC | #936050

Go to: Synthetic XNA molecules can evolve and store genetic information, just like DNA

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by Sjoerd Westenborg

@ R Schreibermann

Good to have a theist with a more rational outlook on things visit this thread too. However, you avoid two fundamental flaws in your view of God.

a. You state that science explains the how, and that a god is the why. However, science explains the workings of the universe, the birth of mankind and almost even the origin of life in such a way, that god is obsolete! You see god as someone wielding the laws of physics/biology, while science actually explains how these work on their own.

b. If the universe/life/humanity couldn't be spontaneously created (in which you are a 100% right), then doesn't this apply to a god as well? Leading to an infinite chain of causation. And this conflicts with the theory that the unbiverse hasn't always been here.

I am sincerely intrerested in your views on this matter.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:54:05 UTC | #935997

Go to: My People! My People!! This Witch Hunting Must Stop

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 6 by Rawhard Dickins :

"Kill" appears in the KJ bible 208 times according to the biblegateway.com

Small wonder that this young and no doubt indoctrinated pastor takes such a stance.

Indoctrinated? My arse! Follow the money..

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 13:50:40 UTC | #935725

Go to: Billy Graham’s daughter: ‘I would not vote for an atheist’

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Am I the only one finding it creepy that a woman of her age refers to here father as 'daddy'?

That aside, why are atheists so distrusted in the US? Can a religious person really not conceive how we are able to have morality and lead a moral life? (Two different things in my view.) Even an atheist donating to charity, helping his neighbours and paying his taxes can be fair game in their eyes. Why?

Tue, 17 Apr 2012 15:06:28 UTC | #935225