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Comments by AULhall

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

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Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

" If Dawkins and Krauss want to understand what Catholics believe, there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves."

Read that far and no further. If I had a nickle.......

I rewatched the excellent "Putting faith in its place" video by YouTuber QualiaSoup the other day. It seems to address Mr. Carroll's fallacious reasoning on this topic quite nicely.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:22:50 UTC | #947319

Go to: Major Threat to Religion? Clergy People Coming Out as Atheists

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Simply learning that the Clergy Project exists could also have positive effects on the beliefs of non-clergy. Congregations are largely indoctrinated from a young age to view their pastors as authority figures. That so many of them rarely run into reasons to doubt the reliability of the clergy unfortunately allows them to continue existing within a bubble of irrationality.

As the Clergy Project gains more and more traction, it will hopefully begin to enter into the peripheral vision of regular church-goers. If nothing else, this could plant the initial seed of doubt required to dislodge the clergy from their pedestal of undisputed authority.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:08:58 UTC | #946886

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

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Comment 97 by strangebrew :

most folk feel happy enough that the church has an apparent answer...

This strikes me as very broadly true. It explains why, here in the bible belt of the US, bookstores devote multiple shelves to the religious section.

I mean you always hear fundamentalist Christians saying things like, "The bible is the only book I need." That may be what they say publicly, but it's certainly not true in practice.

They flock to books such as Lee Strobel's horrendously deceptive Case for Faith series which seek to bring their crazy beliefs into accordance with the modern world. It almost doesn't matter what the content of the book is for most of them; just the fact that someone on "their side" has apparent answers that sound half-reasonable as long as you don't bother to research the topics any further -- that's all they need to keep their cognitive dissonance in tact.

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 03:21:51 UTC | #946685

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

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Comment 55 by This Is Not A Meme :

"He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself." -Freddy Nietzsche

Is your suggestion merely that Dawkins stop asking people to cease calling themselves Catholic when their specific beliefs do not resemble the Church's official beliefs?

Do you have any prescriptions or ideas for limiting the political and cultural power of the Church without having people change what they call themselves, or is it a lost cause for the time being?

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 23:05:51 UTC | #946456

Go to: Why We Don't Believe in Science

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Comment 24 by Nordic11 :

The reason 46% of American adults believe in a young earth and instantaneous creation of humans has less to do with their lack of science education and more to do with their insufficient theological education. The majority of evangelical churches in America teach that Genesis 1 should be interpreted strictly literally even though the structure, format and literal inconsistencies of the passage have led Biblical scholars since Augustine to view the passage as poetry or allegory. When you are taught that the Word of God says the earth was created in 4000 BC (instead of being told that this view is only one interpretive choice) then the science does not matter. When I sit down with Christian friends who are committed to a young earth interpretation and explain the theological and scientific reasons for adhering to current scientific theories, many (but certainly not all) are more than ready to reevaluate their view.

You make a great point. I have witnessed the same levels of intellectual laziness among my peers. It always seems to come back to a lack in critical thinking ability, a skill that certainly is not being adequately cultivated by our educational system.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 22:38:36 UTC | #946451

Go to: Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?

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Comment 9 by God fearing Atheist :

Hans Rosling has an interesting TED talk on population growth. He reckons it will hit 10 billion as the world population ages and then reach steady state (births==deaths).

Speaking of TED, I believe they recently censored a talk given by Sarah Silverman, though I forget the stated reason.

I find that TED posts at least several genuine, high-quality talks per month, but I also often find their selection process mysterious at best, and, as of recently, bordering on autocratic.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 01:20:15 UTC | #946015

Go to: The Dangerous Fallacy of Ceremonial Deism

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Beautifully written article. I will be saving it for future citations as well as checking out the author's forthcoming book.

Tue, 05 Jun 2012 00:11:11 UTC | #945613

Go to: How Humans Became Moral Beings

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Comment 8 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee :

I'm always very puzzled when I hear estimates like this about major and universal human characteristics having evolved in that recent time frame. I believe that the Out of Africa theory that all modern non-African peoples of the world are descended from a very small band who left Africa about 75,000 years ago is still widely accepted. By about 50,000 years ago, some of their descendants had reached Australia. So how could such a major human characteristic as conscience have evolved after this widespread worldwide migration and possibly as recently as 25,000 years ago? To have done so it must either have evolved simultaneously all around the world, or it must have evolved in one tribe and then somehow spread by reproduction throughout the whole worldwide population in a relatively short period of time.

I'm no scientist or expert on these matters but it just doesn't seem to fit to me at all. Surely all major features such as modern human conscience must have been present well before the Out of Africa migration started to place human populations so far apart from each other and in such dramatically different environments. Surely we couldn't have remained completely linked reproductively during this period, certainly not to the extent that evolved characteristics from Australians could have spread all the way through Asia to South Africa, or vice versa, for example.

Any opinions or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

If you reread his previous answers I believe you will find that the 25,000-75,000 year range he is estimating is after the emergence of modern humans, which he estimates at 250,000 years ago. So his actual estimate seems to be that consciousness emerged somewhere between 225,000-175,000 years ago.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 23:52:02 UTC | #945605

Go to: Graphic: A demographic breakdown of the world of religion

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Comment 23 by Jonathan Dore :

The Anglican figure (73 million) is the one that includes everyone baptized into the Church of England, which accounts for over a third of that total (including me), most of whom would have been infants and the majority of whom are not believers in any meaningful sense.

Yes, and even more errant is the fact that the graph is designed to include the entirety of the world's population -- even though a significant percentage of the world's population is too young to have any religious views at all. This child mislabelling (mentioned by Cartomancer above) is a point that Richard Dawkins champions often, though few religious people seem to even consider it as controversial.

Sun, 01 Apr 2012 22:23:45 UTC | #931746

Go to: UP w/ Chris Hayes

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Comment 34 by Richard Dawkins :

What about Jack Kennedy, you say? Well, he claimed to be Catholic and that commits one to the ridiculous transubstantiationist belief. I don't think for a moment that Kennedy did believe in transubstantiation, but I think he should have been publicly challenged to deny it and therefore to deny his Catholicism. Actually, I doubt that somebody as intelligent as Kennedy believed in God at all. Again, I think politicians should have their religious beliefs publicly challenged: should not get away with hiding behind the convention that it is somehow not polite to ask about somebody's religion.

While I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment here, I somewhat question its practicality in all situations. If Kennedy had, for instance, been led to publicly deny having religious faith in the 1960's, I think it a foregone conclusion that he would never have come close to being elected president. This highlights the fact that sometimes a good idea can only be effective if it is broadly supported by the public. I think it is easily argued that if Kennedy was indeed lying about having religious faith, then the U.S. directly benefited from that lie. Without a public willing to rationally consider the question of religion, honesty by a politician on such an issue will end up doing more harm than good.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 01:58:52 UTC | #930676

Go to: Blessed are those with a persecution complex?

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Comment 33 by Paula Kirby :

Finally, I am indebted to Ophelia Benson for reminding me of what the excellent Judge Laws (yes, that really is his name) had to say on the subject in his judgement in the case of the Christian relationship counsellor:

Thank you very much for sharing this. If more judges were able to maintain such clarity of mind with regard to religion then the theocratic slope would be much less slippery.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 21:51:26 UTC | #930450

Go to: Blessed are those with a persecution complex?

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Expertly argued, Paula Kirby.

In fact this piece is so convincing that I am willing to go out on limb and say that it might even have the ability to change some minds! Here's hoping...

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 00:18:09 UTC | #930008

Go to: How whales and dolphins focus sound beams on prey

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Paul Nachtigall, who also took part in the study, explained that as well as adjusting their echolocating beam, Kina was able to alter the sensitivity of her hearing - making it super-sensitive when she was hunting, but "plugging her ears" to block out potentially damaging loud noise.

I find this remarkable. I wish humans had this ability.

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 19:44:00 UTC | #929698

Go to: Study reveals why our ancestors switched to bipedal power

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Comment 19 by gwolf :

I think we became obligate bipeds first because we were fishermen, and later to carry our tools.

Yes, the evidence for bipedalism in humans having emerged as an adaptation to water-based living, while mostly circumstantial, has always made the most sense to me. Thanks for the post; it was very intellectually stimulating.

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 04:44:12 UTC | #929518

Go to: More See "Too Much" Religious Talk by Politicians - Santorum Voters Disagree

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Comment 2 by aroundtown :

Obviously some of the new figures are encouraging. I guess if you are backed into a corner and poked in the chest a sufficient amount of times it can illicit a response. The most beneficial aspect to my mind would be the use of the conservative argument as expressed by GW that 54% is a majority and should dismiss the 46% who oppose. If they, the religious, have qualms with a separation of religion and politics they would then have to shelve those concerns for the majority view as measured by their own standards. Just saying it could be a useful tool since they are generally a hard necked people to reason with and the strategy might help. More than likely wishful thinking on my part and they would just say Jesus wouldn't want them to back down, it's hard to deal with them as most can attest.

As other posters on this site have elucidated in the past regarding the UK, as soon as religion goes from being a majority to a minority, they seem to immediately switch from "respect the opinions of the majority" to "don't persecute the minority for their opinions".

So while I agree that the results of this poll show an encouraging trend toward U.S. secularism, I cannot see the trend in and of itself having a positive effect on the attitudes of religious ideologues.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:34:19 UTC | #929424

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

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Comment 38 by Viveca :

I searched Jerry Coyne's site for some info on Haidt and came across this illuminating piece, which seems to answer many of the questions at issue.

Thank you for posting; very illuminating indeed.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:32:34 UTC | #929404

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

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Comment 15 by Jonathan Haidt :

I do not believe the case is proved either way, but I think multi-level selection is "back in the frame," at very least, and it is time for a broader discussion of it -- one conducted with curiosity, not anger.

Should not one find it intellectually dishonest to give a TED talk about a subject without mentioning these possible points of contention? You cite a lack of time and an appeal to a broader audience as reasons to condense your argument, which is understandable, but the end result seemed to me to convey a level of certainty that you are now not willing to get behind.

To a certain percentage of people, such self-assurance will be reason enough to accept your conclusions without doing further research. Do you not find that to be disconcerting?

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 17:20:11 UTC | #929021

Go to: Antimatter ‘measured’ for the first time, could reveal building blocks of the universe

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I, too, enjoyed this article. The explanatory video linked along with the article was also excellent.

Sat, 10 Mar 2012 16:23:31 UTC | #925892

Go to: One Jesus for liberals, another for conservatives

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Comment 4 by AtheistEgbert :

As wolfhoundGrowl points out in his comment #2 (no need for all caps surely?), liberal Christians are not really liberals at all. Anyone who worships a dictator/monarch--whether supernatural or natural--is not a liberal by default.

A better way to understand why religion is the poison that it is, is to understand religion as antithetical to liberalism. Many Christians make claims to being liberal, but only in the sense that they're following the accepted status quo in society, and not from a rational and theoretical basis.

To show you just how urgent it is that we return to reason in politics, if the status quo changes then a liberal society quickly changes into an authoritarian society, and the state can easily become a tyranny. This is happening right now in Britain.

Spot on analysis. Thanks for the reminder.

Tue, 06 Mar 2012 10:07:56 UTC | #924810

Go to: What Were the Consequences of Early Human & Neanderthal Interbreeding?

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Thank you to Helga Vierich -- and others -- for the enlightening information you have conveyed here.

Sat, 03 Mar 2012 09:14:11 UTC | #923996

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

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Comment 58 by Vorlund :

I am on side with Richard. Hutton seems to think liberalism is being tolerant of anything until it gets to intolerable levels. He thinks being liberal is being tolerant of systems that are themselves illiberal and intolerant providing they don't make too much of a stink, draw too much attention or take any time!! This takes a considerable volume of mental smoke and several dozen mirrors not to mention a force 9 irony meter.

Yes, I agree with aroundtown: very succinctly and eloquently put.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 17:34:50 UTC | #919686

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

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I was quite alarmed by Hutton's stance that secularism is not important in a nation where the risk of theocracy is not an immediate threat.

First, he fails to recognize that without an adherance to secularist ideals, religion is capable of doing harm to a society even when it does not possess the political might necessary to authoritatively control all aspects of government. Religious tax exemptions which effectively lower the amount of money the government has to spend on infrastructure or scientific research, as well as the allowance for miseducation of the youth through the granting of special status for certain faith-based "schools" are two such examples of this.

Secondly, he commits the same error as those who would forgo any right to privacy because they "have nothing to hide." To stand up for one's right to privacy is not an admission of guilt or an attempt to conceal. It is to recognize that without such rights, one has less protection from any malicious government entities of the future.

The laws of today must be written so as to prevent the fascist threats of tomorrow. By allowing religion to exist within a grey area of government influence, a nation undermines any future ability it might have had in preventing power grabs that are unforseeable at present.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 10:25:56 UTC | #919537

Go to: Atheism in America

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Comment 22 by Nunbeliever :

To Moderator:

Well, as stellier68 pointed out that is just not true. This is very much a political issue and I would dare to say very much about left/right wing politics, and I think it's important to point this out.


But, when you realize that Christianity in USA is to a great extent an extension of a national identity then it makes perfect sense.

Great comment, and as a resident of the bible belt I very much agree with you.

I also take issue with many of the comments on the FT website which attempt to argue that the U.S. was somehow errantly portrayed by the article. I throroughly enjoyed it and found it to be a generally accurate representation of many of the religious problems in this country.

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 18:31:34 UTC | #918088

Go to: Dawkins & Krauss Discussion from ASU 4 Feb

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Comment 30 by Cartomancer :

The idea that two contradictory things can both be true at once, the one in the scientific, the other in the theological sphere, is not a new phenomenon by any means.


Then a certainty that observed reality accords completely with your version of religion was a necessary thing to have, and encouraged, and there was little place for the much quainter and less adversarial solution that the two could both be right in their own way.

Provocative and very enlightening. Thanks for posting.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 04:52:30 UTC | #917509

Go to: The new anti-science assault on US schools

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Comment 3 by rrh1306 :

Were caught in a vicious cycle here in the states. Schools won't start teaching evolution more openly until the public at large starts to accept it more thus it will be less controversial. But the people here won't start accepting it more until their taught the facts. So were back to square one. Even as the younger generations here becomes less religious I think their just as likely to think aliens created people (Ancient Aliens) then that people evolved. I say until many prominent scientist start some kind of on going public protest were doomed.

Well put, and your last sentence was something Richard alluded to in his recent discussion with Lawrence Krauss (a link to which has just been posted on this site). More scientists need to join Dawkins, Krauss, and others in publicly disseminating their knowledge, or else constantly risk allowing themselves to be written off as part of the fringe by those who would, purposefully or not, misinform the otherwise ignorant masses.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:07:07 UTC | #917081

Go to: But you cannot shut us up

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Comment 13 by Starcrash :

I love this statement. Thank you, Maryam Namazie, for defending free speech. Speech provides education, and education leads us to the truth... yes, even wrong ideas lead us to the truth, if they are allowed to be exposed to criticism. When everyone's input is allowed, we all become a little less wrong.

I'm not a fundie, but the closest I'll ever come to fundamentalism is my belief that free speech is always a positive thing. If someone wants to convince me that I'm wrong, I don't even know how they'd go about it without taking advantage of their freedom of speech.

Outstanding comment! Thank you for sharing.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:50:37 UTC | #917079

Go to: Dawkins & Krauss Discussion from ASU 4 Feb

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A highly enjoyable two hours, though I expected nothing less.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:44:24 UTC | #917075

Go to: Rethinking "Out of Africa"

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I wasn't able to watch the video at present, but I did read the entire transcript of Stringer's lecture which is posted below the video, and I have to say that it was absolutely enthralling. I first became interested in the various evolution scenarios of modern humans by watching Alice Roberts' five-episode series entitled "The Incredible Human Journey" which aired on the BBC in 2009.

I will certainly be saving a link for this talk to be watched later.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 07:37:25 UTC | #910859

Go to: How Would Jesus Vote? Christian Politics in the State Of Lost Causes

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Stephen Colbert on the most recent episode of his show addressed the fact that write-ins will not be allowed in the South Carolina primary. He stated that voters who wished to write him in should instead place their vote for Herman Cain -- who, while no longer running, cannot be removed from the "locked" ballot.

Since South Carolina has an open primary, included in those urged to vote in this manner by Colbert were liberals, moderates, college students, and fans of the show. It would be pleasing to see a significant turnout of such voters simply to build some momentum against apathy among young voters in this country.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 08:23:36 UTC | #909083

Go to: Forced Merriment: The True Spirit of Christmas

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Thanks to jameshogg for Comment #9. Great read.

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 06:27:20 UTC | #902732