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Comments by Macropus

Go to: Galapágos menaced by tourist invasion

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Macropus

This is profoundly depressing. 40,000 residents? I too had the vague idea that there were just a couple of small fishing villages there and a small tourist industry. Does anyone know what the government of Equador is doing about this? Do they know the intrinsic value of those islands? Are they afflicted with equatorial enervation?

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 04:35:37 UTC | #946805

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Macropus

The controversy has made evolution a hot-button topic that’s either lightly touched on or avoided altogether. Oftentimes, that means students don’t get the scientific education they need to become well-rounded citizens.

If it is true that 40-45% of Americans don't accept evolution, then it seems likely to me that the majority of Americans are simply not well-rounded citizens (assuming that angularity can have other causes). The concept of a well-rounded person is always going to be subjective.

A more convincing argument for including evolution in the compulsory part of the school curriculum is that without it, no rational person can make any sense of the modern world of living organisms. Unlike the physical sciences, the history of the things studied in biology is all-important to understanding their present nature.

A chemist doesn't need to know the history of a water molecule to understand its modern properties, but if anyone has no understanding of evolution, the living world around them may just as well be fairyland for all the sense it makes.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 05:15:49 UTC | #946047

Go to: Atheism IS Increasing at the Expense of Theism!

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Macropus

It seems from the list that this is a study only of those countries where Christianity is the dominant religion (except perhaps Japan).

It is a pity that Indonesia, the most populous Moslem country, and one of the world's most populous countries, is not included in the study. There, atheism is fairly brutally repressed so it would be interesting to see if it is making any progress, at least in the closet. The inclusion of more Moslem countries might also have produced an interesting comparison.

Thu, 31 May 2012 05:11:18 UTC | #944695

Go to: The Center of all Things

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Macropus

It's a simple argument. Most people would trust David Attenborough's authoritative voice over a total stranger's voice. I'll surmise this would be true even if they knew nothing about Sir David.

Not sure what you mean here, but if you're saying that people who know nothing about David Attenborough would trust his voice because if its quality, I couldn't agree more. It's vastly better than the voice on the video.

Are "thinking" people really the problem here? Most thinking people I know are already agnostic or atheist.

There are many intelligent, thoughtful people who are not atheist or agnostic. Of the 80% or so who retain religious beliefs, we should be aiming such videos at those most likely to be persuaded by reasoned argument and calm, thoughtful commentary. Hyped-up commercial voice-overs won't help.

Thu, 24 May 2012 08:32:44 UTC | #943240

Go to: The Center of all Things

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Macropus

The production and content are great, but the narrator's voice is just awful.

This is true. An awe-stricken, sensationalist tone with heroic music in the background make it sound religious - or at best, like a B-grade movie trailer. If you must use music, put it well into the background, and make the commentary thoughtful and matter-of-fact. This will make the message much more palatable to most thinking people.

Thu, 24 May 2012 06:03:49 UTC | #943222

Go to: A Year After the Non-Apocalypse: Where Are They Now?

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Macropus

This is an excellent article - full marks to Tom Bartlett on his energy in pursuing the project. I've tried googling Camping a few times since last October, just to see what excuse he's using now, but the news of his stroke might explain his silence (or perhaps he has finally given up trying to extract cryptic predictions from the rubbish contained in a book of 3rd century Chinese whispers?).

Perhaps the doomsayers should hold their next convention in Athens. At least they'd be at the heart of a real-life apocalypse.

Thu, 24 May 2012 05:34:21 UTC | #943219

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

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Comment 12 by MilitantNonStampCollector

I jumped to a hasty conclusion, as most mammals invariably do.

Well spotted!

Mon, 07 May 2012 05:30:34 UTC | #940247

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Macropus

@ MilitantNonStampCollector

Surely the states of "belief" and "suspension of belief" are subsets of "not knowing"? If you're waiting for further evidence, it can only be because you don't know the answer. To start talking about belief as a way of knowing something and suspension of belief as a half-way house between knowing and not knowing is getting a bit metaphysical for me.

Mon, 07 May 2012 05:17:45 UTC | #940244

Go to: Come Ye Out From Among Them, 3 former preachers talk about Coming Out.

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Macropus

I'm afraid I could only watch about 20 minutes of this. Unfortunately when God left these peoples' lives, he didn't take the preachiness with him.

Still, good luck to them.

Tue, 01 May 2012 05:21:14 UTC | #938574

Go to: Australia's blurred separation between church and state

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Macropus

Comment 17 by SonofHades. Macropus, Julia Gillard is the leader of the government, not the entirety of the government. We are not governed by autocrats. That the system doesn't tolerate politicians who want to run the government like a deranged one-man band is why Rudd thankfully got the boot and Gillard got the job in the first place.

Very true, and I'm not saying that if Gillard were to take a stand against tax relief for religions or chaplains in public schools, the problem would be solved. I am lamenting the fact that we have a spineless prime minister who I suspect privately is in agreement with us about these things but will actually support the status quo to appease the right wing of her party and powerful (and wealthy) religious interests. In doing so, she is missing the opportunity to put these issues squarely on the political agenda.

You don't need to be a deranged one-man band to take a stand, however unsuccessfully, on issues like these. As for the mad monk, at least he doesn't pretend to be anything but a slave of the religious right. Neither did Rudd for that matter...

Tue, 01 May 2012 01:32:32 UTC | #938521

Go to: Australia's blurred separation between church and state

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Macropus

In 2001, Australian politics took a rightward turn and in 2006 the conservative Howard government decided that the state should pay for religion in public schools. Thus was born the National School Chaplaincy Programme. There are almost 3,000 such chaplains in Australian public schools, and the programme is expanding under the Labor government.

Both the Conservative (ironically called "Liberal" here) and Labor parties in Australia are dominated by their Christian (largely Catholic) right wings and matters of church - state separation are going from bad to worse.

We actually have a Prime Minister who is open about her atheism but toes the conservative line at every opportunity. She has announced her intention to vote against gay marriage in parliament later this year. She is opposed to the introduction of voluntary euthanasia and the removal of tax exemptions for religions. She supports the public school chaplaincy programme introduced by her conservative opponents.

This is what it is to have an atheist head of government who is terrified of offending religion. Granted, she's on a political knife-edge with a tiny majority, but she knows she will lose the next election anyway, and should be supporting these long-overdue reforms. At least she would have something to show for six otherwise undistinguished years in government.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 04:58:41 UTC | #938286

Go to: Blessed are those with a persecution complex?

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Macropus

The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

This is a gem of wisdom, beautifully expressed. I shall keep it for future use!

Well spoken Paula.

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 05:51:48 UTC | #930508

Go to: Refute This, Hoax Lovers: More Proof Men Totally Walked on the Moon

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Macropus

I suppose this raises the question of just how conspiracy theories can ever be put to rest. When you have a group of people whose lives are so impoverished that they are desperate to believe in UFOs and secret government studios where the moon landings were filmed, nothing will convince them that the real world is far more interesting than their fantasy world.

The more effort we make to debunk their silly "theories" the more their adherents seem convinced that there is something to hide. These images are certainly fascinating, especially for someone who followed all the moon landings of the sixties with the devotion of a science-besotted teenager!

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 05:35:47 UTC | #925548

Go to: Why Are Religious Beliefs Off Limits?

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Macropus

The bible is full of dubious scientific impossibilities, from Jonah living inside a whale, to the Sun standing still in the sky for Joshua.

Correction: the bible is full of impossibilities. There's nothing dubious or even scientific about the proposition that the sun can stand still in the sky. Mars and Jupiter, perhaps, for a short time (they can even move backwards), but not the sun.

Krauss is right in thinking that religious beliefs should be as open to criticism as are views on any other matters, but let's not give these people wiggle room by allowing that the impossible things they believe are in any way dubious or arguable.

Wed, 07 Mar 2012 05:08:14 UTC | #925060

Go to: Is Britain a Christian country?

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by Macropus

Probably like most of us, my blood temperature started to rise whenever the bloke in black or the Telegraph journaist started to speak and was positively boiling by the time they stopped. Richard and Andrew, by their common sense and reason clearly showed where the militant views rested. The Ayatollah and slave owner tactics could only have come from desperate (and, perhaps, militant) theists.

Great to see Richard get the last word and to use it so effectively.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 06:17:04 UTC | #919899

Go to: Richard Dawkins - Proving evolution

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Macropus

Yes, this was a good interview. I listen to this programme every morning and I look forward to tomorrow's interview with RD, but I wish Fran Kelly (and others) would stop describing Intelligent Design as "the alternative theory". ID is religion, pure and simple, and cannot be considered an alternative to anything except, possibly, another religion.

It's frustrating to hear articulate and intelligent journalists elevate dogma to the status of theory.


Wed, 03 Mar 2010 05:27:00 UTC | #446161

Go to: Richard Dawkins takes on the creationists

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Macropus

Sydney time is UT plus 11 hours at this time of year (summer daylight saving).

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 05:03:00 UTC | #446159

Go to: 'Teach the Controversy'

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Macropus

Oh Dear.

now listen to this arrogant puffed up son of a bitch....

little scientist geek who would try to usurp God Himself!!!

The link is to an interview with PZ Myers in which he is gently and politely discussing his godlessness.

If belief in gods produces such stridency and aggressiveness, it's a very dangerous thing.

I wonder if this person's anger extends to all the followers of the gods he doesn't believe in, as well as to those of us who don't hold a brief for any of them.

Fri, 08 Jan 2010 05:18:00 UTC | #429921

Go to: A Tale of Two Atheists

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Macropus

In the Wall Street Journal Armstrong wrote:

"In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart."

Armstrong obviously embraces this view, whatever it means. She is the type specimen of the highly religiously successful species which uses totally impenetrable language to expound views which no-one can even understand, let alone disagree with.

Tue, 15 Sep 2009 02:58:00 UTC | #397087

Go to: Correspondence regarding the Templeton Foundation

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Macropus

Well, good for Grayling and Dennett. Paying the journalists and not the speakers is an astonishing tactic. I hope they reported fully on its implications.

I do worry about refusing to engage with such organisations. One has to balance the (correct) strategy of thereby refusing to give them credibility, with the perception, no doubt encouraged by their propagandists, that we aren't up to the task.

At some point, though, we just have to say that it's not worth the time and effort of otherwise useful and productive scientists.

Sun, 21 Jun 2009 21:22:00 UTC | #372528

Go to: Waking up in America

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by Macropus

"Ideas born within a free society are the closest we may ever get to sacred truth."

If as atheists we feel the need for truisms, if not absolute truths, this is something to hang onto.

Atheists should never feel the need for truisms - they are vacuous statements. A truism is a "self-evident or indisputable truth" (Concise Oxford). It states nothing that is not already implied in one of its terms.

Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for statements which are simply true to be described as truisms, as if that gives them extra status. In fact it often unfairly diminishes them.

A truism may not even be true: "That wicked Richard Dawkins is an evil man!"

Sun, 24 May 2009 22:27:00 UTC | #363914

Go to: Cassini

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Macropus

I regularly visit the Cassini site because it is well-maintained, updated regularly, and above all interesting. My lunch times are spent flitting round the solar system to visit the various planetary probes (and even beyond - the Voyagers are now leaving the solar system and still talking to us).

But I was a little disappointed in this video. It was an excellent compilation of images but with little or no information attached to them. It was probably made as an "Isn't science wonderful" exercise (which is fine as far as it goes) but if anyone is aware of a similar video with some meat on it (e.g. at least a mention of the geysers on Enceladus, the honeycomb structure of Phoebe, the lakes on Titan, the peculiar F ring etc), I'd be grateful for a link.

That would be more likely to impress my scientifically illiterate god-bothering friends.

Thu, 06 Nov 2008 20:48:00 UTC | #266363

Go to: Origin of the Novel Species Noodleous doubleous: Evidence for Intelligent Design

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Macropus

Gourmet who fly to London without Hong Kong stopover must be off his noodle!

If you can make sense of any of this you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Mon, 07 Jul 2008 21:13:00 UTC | #195484

Go to: The Expelled Evolutionist

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Macropus


What on earth is "relative unknowability"?

What is an "unconditional" god of the gaps?

Why "of course, the existence of god can't be proved"? If god exists, why can't it be demonstrated?

Why must theists always descend to mystical mumbo jumbo?

Is it totally unreasonable to expect a god who has created a universe and takes a personal interest in me to make his existence as obvious as my nose, or perhaps just say hello?

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 21:36:00 UTC | #179748

Go to: Louisiana's latest creationism bill moves to House floor

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Macropus

At the hearing in the House committee, Caroline Crocker, CEO of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center, "said Darwinian evolution is outdated and doesn't explain new findings in science. She also said she had been persecuted in the academic world because of her views," according to the AP.

Isn't it wonderful how religious people use the language of religion to elicit sympathy. Anybody else would have said they'd been criticised in the academic world, but if it's about religion it's persecution.

On the other hand, if she's been saying that Darwinian evolution doesn't explain new findings in science, and if she has not provided good evidence to support this proposition, long may her "persecution" last. Glib statements may satisfy her flock but they deserve all the contempt we can muster.

Tue, 27 May 2008 22:29:00 UTC | #176070

Go to: How to reconcile Richard Dawkins?

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 97 by Macropus

This is a pathetic article. The author seems to want to identify with the "I don't really understand Dawkins" brigade. It seems to be just too hard, and why bother anyway?

This bit was astonishing:

"He doesn't necessarily think religion is the root of all evil, but rather is perhaps only a branch.

The root, strangely enough, is that which first made Dawkins famous -- evolution."

Is he really suggesting that in his opinion evolution is the root of all evil? Shame on the natural world for engaging in it for 3.8 billion years!

Tue, 29 Apr 2008 21:11:00 UTC | #163972

Go to: Christopher Hitchens on Books & Ideas

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Macropus

A very interesting, relaxed and informative interview. At last an interviewer who asks interesting questions:

"Are you not scared of an entirely rational world?"

instead of the usual devil's advocate stuff.

Bring on the rational world I say, and bring on cameramen who can keep a camera still and focussed. A most annoying and distracting feature of the film.

Wed, 06 Feb 2008 17:22:00 UTC | #117210

Go to: Richard Dawkins on The Late Edition with Marcus Brigstocke

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Macropus

What a scream - I loved it. Nice to see RD smiling so much.

Wed, 09 Jan 2008 20:16:00 UTC | #104646

Go to: The Problem with Atheism

Macropus's Avatar Jump to comment 216 by Macropus

"Atheism" is quite an old word, various forms of which have probably been around as long as gods have. Although the Concise Oxford defines it as "disbelief in the existence of God", its literal meaning is closer to "without gods", rather than "disbelief". An amoral person, after all, is one who is simply unconcerned with or untroubled by morals rather than one who disbelieves in their existence.

I am an atheist in the literal sense (one without gods). It makes no more sense to me to pronounce a disbelief in gods than it would to pronounce a disbelief in fairies or the flying spaghetti monster. The notion of belief in such things is ridiculous, and an avowal of disbelief scarcely less so. I wish that atheism were as redundant as afairyism but I would happily describe myself as an afairyist the moment fairyists gained enough support to influence governments to replace high school Biology with Toadstool Ergonomics. It is only because the theists form such a large majority in so many countries that we need the term "atheist" at all.

Sam's argument is well made but it left me with the uneasy feeling that we are being bullied by the forces of darkness out of using a word which describes us perfectly, and with which we should be completely comfortable. The measure of our success (alas, probably all too distant) will be the word's natural extinction through lack of use when theism is relegated to the crackpot status it deserves.

Sun, 07 Oct 2007 18:49:00 UTC | #73283