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Go to: Thinking Allowed

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by The author

The study does not use "personal insecurity" and "income inequality" interchangably. Instead, it shows that income inequality is one important factor that leads to personal insecurity which leads to religion (all in the sense of a strong correlation). Nothing is wrong with the study. The findings fit well to findings of Gregory S. Paul:

So stop making stuff up just because you don't like the results.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 19:23:00 UTC | #391225

Go to: Evolution's third replicator: Genes, memes, and now what?

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"Yet this shift to a new replicator may be a dangerous tipping point. Our ancestors could have killed themselves off with their large brains and dangerous memes, but they pulled through. This time the danger is to the whole planet."

Machines are taking over the world! We have to save us and especially John Connor!

Someone got quite entangled with tiny things controlling humans. Who even needs any evidence that they are "actually" controlling us.

Sat, 01 Aug 2009 13:59:00 UTC | #384015

Go to: Better Know a Lobby - Atheism

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South Park is most of the time indeed funny and clever (although very crude) â€" just think of the episode on scientology â€", yet sometimes it's just senseless and crude, like the episode with yourself in it. I also disagree with the ending of many episodes, in which Kyle explains to the viewers what they should have "learned".

Colbert is normally funny, especially his book. But his interviews could be much better if it wasn't him talking all the time but mainly his guests. This time it sucked. He is an atheist himself, so why is he so rude to the only atheist lobbyist of the country, instead of being just witty? As if we would be the big oil lobby or something like that.

But true: Sometimes things that are supposedly on our side don't really help, quite to the contrary.

Sun, 31 Aug 2008 13:51:00 UTC | #227751

Go to: No atheist burials in Co Donegal

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by The author

When I am dead I want to be burnt and my ashes shall be snuffed in by the ones responsible.

Fri, 29 Aug 2008 06:57:00 UTC | #226430

Go to: Inadequate, private and late apology with grotesquely inadequate excuse

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by The author

Oh, I can understand this. Every time I have a bad day I blame it on the christians.

Then again, it's normally really their fault. For example, having read the remarks of Monique Davis, my mood tuned down considerably.

Fri, 11 Apr 2008 17:03:00 UTC | #151330

Go to: Saudi Arabia Leader Calls for Interfaith Dialogue

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by The author

Oh my... Well, something. Merlin's Pants!

The world religions are uniting to kill us.

That's "religious tolerance", see, see...

Wed, 26 Mar 2008 11:37:00 UTC | #142400

Go to: Debate between Richard Dawkins and Madeline Bunting

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by The author

Oh my Zeus: Madeline Bunting doesn't have any idea of anything, yet she is earning her money as a journalist - someone who is expected to enlighten people.

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 14:40:00 UTC | #120667

Go to: 'Expelled' Movie: The Extended Trailer

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Now, there we got another evil propaganda movie. Seems a bit more expensive this time.

Thu, 15 Nov 2007 12:53:00 UTC | #84202

Go to: Can we at least demand 'Secular Communion'?

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@ pzmyers, comment above

"I think Nusmus and "the author" need to go sit in a corner with a dunce cap on their heads until they grow a sense of humor."

Well, if two otherwise reasonable persons misunderstand a point you make, perhaps you didn't make that point sufficiently clear? I think there are surely more people than just the two of us who didn't "get it". Although, after all these discussions I had with theologians, it became harder and harder to seperate what people really think and what they merely intend as a joke.

Yet beside from that we perfectly agree, I'm even thinking about translating that article into German, if you don't mind, it's pretty good.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 13:53:00 UTC | #82998

Go to: Can we at least demand 'Secular Communion'?

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@ Cartomancer, comment above:

"As a medievalist I am of course legally required to point out that the traditional view of the emergence of humanism in Renaissance Italy is a misleading and outdated piece of Burckhardtian Victoriana"

Surely, the sources lie in ancient greek philosophy, yet they were transmitted to Europe by the humanists. What's wrong with that?

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 12:14:00 UTC | #82961

Go to: Can we at least demand 'Secular Communion'?

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by The author

"I'm not a humanist. I'm just not that keen on defining myself by my species, and I'm not going to join a group that willfully excludes squid."

That's really a bad argument. You don't have to like the word "humanist" to be one. Modern humanists are normally not centered around humans, they very well acknowledge that humans are animals too. It very often are the humanists who call for animal rights.

Just the same with "brights". You don't have to like the word to be of the opinion that a naturalist movement that fights for the rights of naturalists on a democratic and voluntary basis is a good idea.

I would even say it is incredibly childish to come up again and again with such ridiculous semantic details, when it's really about something else and far more important.

Sat, 10 Nov 2007 11:14:00 UTC | #82937

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 102 by The author


"knowing that you can and are going to die has many logical functions." getting scared and becoming religious?

"It's ironic to doubt this on this website since fear of death is one of the main factors in religions."

Even more ironic to name religion as an example for a "logical function".

SilentMike: I think I made myself and my intentions very clear.

Sat, 20 Oct 2007 13:17:00 UTC | #76471

Go to: Debate between Christopher Hitchens and Alister McGrath

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I think McGrath is actually a pretty good christian apologist. He certainly has a talent for selling nonsense in a cheap way. And if the nonsense is cheap enough, many people feel motivated to try and buy it.

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 13:43:00 UTC | #75538

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 98 by The author

96. Comment #78975 by SilentMike on October 15, 2007 at 3:18 pm

I wasn't talking about you, more about shaunfletcher. Or look at the "Richard Dawkins receives the Deschner Prize" commentaries. "briancoughlanworldcitizen" is defending each and every syllable by Dawkins, no matter how wrong he is.

"you are like the religious" crap

I merely said that there is a certain danger for some people to turn Dawkins into a kind of prophet - Richard has said the exact same thing. Yet another example that it isn't really about the content but about who says something.

99% of the community here consists of the same freethinkers you find everywhere in comparable organziations. Yet perhaps 1% doesn't seem to have much of an idea and are merely repeating and defending everything Dawkins says. How can you not be skeptical about that?

As for the Gould stuff: I'm sorry, of course Dawkins is mainstream and Gould just wanted to hassle a bit. The interesting part is that the pro Gould comments were instantly associated with creationism. Yet another ingroup/outgroup phenomenon.

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 05:26:00 UTC | #75410

Go to: Richard Dawkins receives the Deschner Prize

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by The author

For the case I haven't mentioned it: There is no one in the world who has deserved this prize more than Richard! Without him, we would still be discussing religion as is it were of some value (no irony implied).

Mon, 15 Oct 2007 14:17:00 UTC | #75278

Go to: Richard Dawkins receives the Deschner Prize

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by The author

I think I will have to agree with Nick Good, although he is putting it a bit too hard. Concerning politics, I'm closer to Christopher Hitchens than to Richard. Hitchens very well refuted many points Richard is unfortunately making.

A prize that was awarded to Mother Teresa, Arafat and Henry Kissinger (!) isn't worth anything. Every idiot gets this prize, I'm very sorry to have to say it like that. Still, I think I would vote for Al Gore, altough for different reasons (everyone else is an even greater idiot).

According to this Political Quiz you linked, I am remarkably left and a bit liberal, quite close to their optimized Gandhi. But I'm not an ideologist, what seems to me the important part.

Mon, 15 Oct 2007 06:22:00 UTC | #75181

Go to: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticizes popular atheist writers

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These atheists just don't get it: Our god is a god you cannot grasp nor possibly critizise. He was there before the universe, this doesn't have anything to do with evidence. It's not about evidence. It's about just accepting we are right.

Man, this nonsense is hard to parodize. I could just repeat what the bishop said.

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 09:12:00 UTC | #74996

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 94 by The author

Well, of course ideas are storaged within our brians. In that sense, obviously, memetics has a connection to neurophysiology. But what does it EXPLAIN, and not only illustrate.

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 11:03:00 UTC | #74824

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 92 by The author

"Next memes are very real in that they represent the neural assemblies as put forth in the cell assembly theory of Donald Hebb and because they impact the anterior cingulate and fusiform-gyrus well studied by Damasio, any competent brain scanner can see them."

With sufficient fantasy you can see everything. Beside from that memes don't really have much to do with neuropsychology, no matter how many technical terms you stuff into your sentences.

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 06:33:00 UTC | #74796

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by The author

"he was previously teaching at New College"

From 1967 to 1969, Dawkins was an assistant professor of zoology in the University of California, Berkeley. In 1970 he was appointed a lecturer, and in 1990 a reader in zoology in the University of Oxford. In 1995, he was appointed Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, a position endowed by Charles Simonyi with an express intention that Dawkins be its first holder.[8] He has been a fellow of New College, Oxford since 1970

He was assistant professor, lecturer, reader, fellow - but never an actual, classical university professor (not that this would be all that important, but as for the facts...)

"Is that okay with you?"

It would be okay with me, but don't you see your own mistake and the ones of other contributors here? It was argued that I'm a creationist, a religious apologist and so on. But as it is, I'm an atheist and Mr. Waschke is an agnostic (with a certain deistic or pantheistic tendency, I admit). No fundamentalist was ever involved in what I said.

Sure, I also admire Mr. Dawkins work, especially when it's about religion. But I, for example, disagree with the idea of memes (doesn't really explain anything - how do the memes interact with the individual brain and why?). So I wouldn't just take over everything he says.

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 04:27:00 UTC | #74787

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 86 by The author

"Stop talking about this 'friend' of yours"

Thomas Waschke, AG Evolutionsbiologie, biology teacher, expert on the German Intelligent Design movement as well as on evolutionary biology itself, convinced agnostic (in a rather weird way, I would add)

"why he has been a tenured professor at Oxford University"

He is not teaching there. One of the Microsoft founders pays his professorship for the public understanding of science (not evolutionary biology). He is NOT an actual professor. Although he surely could have achieved that.

"A point we are all painfully familiar with because every religious apologist on here uses it."

You are talking to a concinced atheist who is actively engaged in spreading the naturalist worldview in varios freethinking and humanist organizations. Don't I fit into your ridiculous black/white worldview? I'm so sorry.

"You have to show your working or admit you have none."

No, I indeed reached what I wanted to reach: Some users here showed that Mr. Waschke is wrong and that's quite fine with me. They did so fastly because of my provocative style. Very well.

Apparently I also reached what I definitely did NOT want to reach: Some users showed a remarkable black/white, ingroup/outgroup thinking, otherwise only known to me from faitheads. I think there IS (and Dawkins thinks so too) a certain danger of people just repeating everything Dawkins says and defending him like he was a prophet, no matter what.

Of course "my" (Mr. Waschkes) critizism was exaggerated and mostly wrong. I just passed it on to you unfiltered and umcommended to see if you knew it better. Which you mostly did.

As for Dennett taking over positions or examples or whatever from Dawkins, the latter affirmed that in a speech himself yesterday in Frankfurt (for atheists only...) with concern to the parasite metaphor for religion, which originally was invented by Dawkins, altough Dennett is known for it.

All in all what I'm trying to say is: Beware of treating anyone like an omnicient, infallible being. This is an actual danger. Atheists are not infallible either.

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 17:10:00 UTC | #74724

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by The author

"Your friend sounds a bit like a creationist."

This is not only ad hominem, but in a way false, that I can only describe as ideology on your side. He is an evolutionary biologist, biology teacher, member of the "AG Evolutionary Biology" (a group DEFENDING evolution from creationist attacks) and pretty much an expert on the subject. Your reaction is exactly what I was afraid from happening: Dawkins turns into a prophet for some people, his atheism into a kind of religion that is to be defended in the same irrational way as real religion.

"That's not a real site."

How about using google and look it up yourself?

"I don't know how The Extended Phenotype ranks among professionals"


"to ignore his published papers"

Wait a second. I hope you are aware of the fact that I am talking about peer review puplications, not about popular books?

Thu, 11 Oct 2007 06:28:00 UTC | #74271

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by The author

"He is trying to pull you to the dark side"

Seems so. If Dawkins really puplished several articles in peer review magazines, then some of the things the Dark Lord told me are plain wrong. According to him "The Extended Phenotype" would be his only real scientific (not popular) book and it is supposed to have been badly recieved.

"The 'ultradarwinist' name you keep flinging around seems like something you hope will stick and will sound bad?"

That's not a new term, I didn't invent it. There even is a website of that name:

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 16:02:00 UTC | #73899

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 75 by The author

Maybe. You know, there is a biologist who is following me and he tells me all the time (in about 50 mails) that we do not know enough about the mechanisms of evolution to present them in a way Dawkins does, as if all would be pretty clear. It could be that the views of this biologist are influenced by his opinion of religion (he is a remarkably convinced agnostic). But he is pretty much an expert on the German ID-movement and on the theory of evolution. So either he is trying to pull me to the dark side or Dawkins is really defending an "ultradarwinist" position that hardly any evolutionary biologist shares. I am open to both possibilities.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 10:32:00 UTC | #73807

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by The author

"I really can't escape the feeling that your mounting a straw Dawkins here to be burned"

Nonsense. One could really get the idea from reading some of the comments here that some people actually think that Dawkins and Dennett never made a single mistake.

Well, I made a few points and either you take them into consideration or you don't. As for me, I will read a few more books and articles by Gould and Dawkins, so that I can specify my points more clearly. Perhaps it's only here in Germany that Dawkins doesn't have that many friends in evolutionary biology departments. Let's see if I get convinced.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 08:30:00 UTC | #73769

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by The author

I mean "purpose" in the sense of "having a function and being selected for that reason". Our grey matter would contradict that claim Dawkins made in a number of interviews. It's actually in the Gould review I linked.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 06:52:00 UTC | #73740

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by The author

Well, how slow is still slow?

Further: Dawkins says that everything in evolution has a purpose. If so, why are we able to know about our own death? That, among others, doesn't seem to have a purpose, but to be a by-product. Ironically, Dawkins uses the same argument when he says that religion could have been selected as a by-product.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 05:58:00 UTC | #73722

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 65 by The author

Reply to Comment #77069 by Janus:

Actually, it is rather the other way around: I read much more from Dawkins than I read from Gould. Of course it is about the details. Nobody here doubts evolution as such and I'm completely on Dawkins side when it is about religion.

To give you an example of what I mean: Dawkins often makes up stories like: There were more primitive forms of wings/eyes/whatever and they evolved into more complex forms SLOWLY AND BY GRADUAL DEGREES. That may very well have happened. Still, the fossil evidence is often not sufficient to present these stories as actual facts. So, he seems to be overdoing it a bit. We know less than he pretends we do and in pretending, he weakens his own position.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 04:21:00 UTC | #73687

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by The author

Dennett's reply to Gould's review hasn't really convinced me. After all, he lists up quite a few mistakes of his book himself, too many in my opinion:

As for offensive language, Gould wasn't any worse than his foes. It should tell us something that there are hardly any ultradarwinists among the evolutionary biologists except Dawkins and Dennett. Evolution does not always work in slow, gradual degrees, and as the alternative is a natural explanation as well (sometimes punctuated equilibrium and other mechanisms play a role) I really don't see the great problem. Gould may very well had been influenced by his religious and political views, but the insistance on "pure" natural selection as an explanation for practically everything also doesn't seem to be objective.

Mon, 08 Oct 2007 09:08:00 UTC | #73406

Go to: In honour of Dan Dennett

The author's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by The author

Let's see what happens if I write something critical about Daniel Dennett here.

"Darwins Dangerous Idea is a great book"

No, it's not. It is filled with mistakes and contains high amounts of unfair polemic against Gould, see his own review:

Further, one can't quite evade the impression that Dennett just about takes over everything Dawkins says. He has taken over memetics, his view on religion and even his ultradarwinism that hardly any evolutionary biologist except Dawkins shares. And he is not really that important as a philosopher, merely as a popularizer.

I'm especially anxious to hear your arguments against Gould's review.

Sun, 07 Oct 2007 12:28:00 UTC | #73211