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Comments by Munger

Go to: Response to the God Delusion

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Munger

An interesting rebuttal. While I didn't agree with many of his counter-arguments, I thought they were well presented. Then he goes off the deep end and says that the church doesn't ask for "blind faith."

Of course, it all adds up to a rather meek counter-attack. All the good Reverend does is redefine terms to fit his particular point of view. Suddenly, evolution is fine and not contrary to the bible (though ask a fundamentalist who reads the bible literally if that's true) and faith can be as reasonable and well-thought out as scientific observation.

The Reverend is clearly another person who doesn't really know what it is to believe in his own religion.

Sun, 22 Jul 2007 15:09:00 UTC | #54776

Go to: Debate between Sam Harris and Chris Hedges

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Munger

Another frustrating debate where the so-called "moderator" can't just sit back and shut up. Harris did an excellent job, especially considering that it was two against one. And one of those two was supposed to represent a neutral party.

Mon, 18 Jun 2007 13:39:00 UTC | #47512

Go to: We of little faith

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Munger

I think the debate here is a matter of semantics. Personally, I enjoy many aspects of buddhist philosophy and find there's much wisdom to be found in it. Do I consider it divinely inspired? No. Do I think the teachings of the Buddha were perfect? No. Am I even sure that the original Buddha even existed? No.

This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy many aspects of the philosophy and feel that it has enriched my life. I don't pray or chant to invisible gods. I don't believe in reincarnation. I don't think I should give away all my possessions and move into a temple and think about my consciousness all day. But I do think that many of the ideas presented are valid ways of looking at dealing with life, of thinking about the nature of compassion and our own minds. It works for me, but it's not religion. Not even close.

If buddhism was my religion, then I would assume that it was somehow flawless, that it's every argument was correct, and that it was the one and only way to deal with life. I don't and many other buddhists (notice I didn't capitalize) don't either. Any more than students of other philosophy's assume that their studies are divinely inspired.

Sure, some nuts abuse buddhism, making it a religion. They believe in all sorts of crazy ideas. But saying I'm a fan of buddhist thought is not the same as saying I believe in it irrationally, without question.

Of course, the argument could be made that, taken in this context, all religion has something worthwhile to offer. And I think that's true. It isn't the ideas of religion that make it damaging. It's the blind faith in it, the magical assumptions of it. As Dawkins has said many times, there are interesting ideas in the bible, if you can sort out the rubbish.

I believe in buddhism the same way I believe in science. Through experimentation and logical observation. I don't believe in reincarnation. It's unprovable. I don't believe in magical karma. It's a childish notion. But I do believe in striving for peace of mind, in taking time to try to understand my own rational and irrational thoughts, and questioning whether my motives and feelings are not always coming from somewhere other than my obvious conscious mind.

It's a ridiculous bone of contention on this site. Harris gets attacked for saying there's still so much to the universe and our own minds that we just don't understand, that consciousness is a grand riddle, and that things such as mind over matter are, in the broadest sense of the word, possible. He is not irrational. He will never spend money to go to a fortune teller, never read his horoscope eagerly, never believe that someone can make a spoon bend without proper proof. He's merely open-minded.

Dawkins's great quote: It is so possible to be so open minded that your brains fall out.

Well, it's also possible to be so closed-minded that you stop listening before the discussion begins.

Also: Harris's views on torture are far more nuanced and interesting than most people understand. The irony is that his arguments are lost once again because people shut down as soon as they hear the word. Harris is not pro-torture anymore than he's pro-war. He merely states, if you're willing to drop bombs on people, torture is hardly more reprehensible in the end. The only difference is the distance of the violence.

Ask yourself what would be harder? Pushing a button that killed ten people you never met or shooting someone right in the face? If you had to do it, which would be easier, less likely to traumatize you? That, in a nutshell, is why people hate torture but can live with bombs.

Of course, it's a completely imaginary argument. But that sort of hypothetical introspection is just the kind of thing we should all do once in a while. It's the kind of thing that merciless rationalists get accused of not doing enough. And when I see the attacks on buddhist philosophy (not Buddhist religion) I think sometimes, stereotypes are true.

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 14:46:00 UTC | #46854

Go to: Hitchens and Prager Debate

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 88 by Munger

It's funny, but whenever I hear a debate of this sort, I realize that atheists are ultimately optimists while religious folks are cynics in disguise. An atheist believes the universe is a product of chance and natural selection, that mankind is no more significant than any other bits of carbon in the universe, but that we can still lead rich fulfilling lives and that we don't need to be constantly monitored by a cosmic skyfather to keep us from turning on each other and eating each other's brains/children/SUVs/etc.

Religious folk on the other hand tend to think that everything is terrible, that without god, humanity would tear itself apart and indeed, without god, the universe itself wouldn't even tolerate us. Only through god's strongarm tactics, is it forced to allow us to live.

I used to consider it lack of imagination. But now, I think of it as pure cynicism, contempt, and fear. Cynicism that sometimes good things happen from randomness. Contempt that we are all horrible little creatures without a grand warden watching our every move, and fear that we are insignificant and unimportant.

As for the meat of the interview, prager pretty much cheats constantly by saying atheism scores no points for its many fine historical figures but religion does. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I find it even stranger that Prager advocates religion as the solution to all our problems. We've had religion for well over two thousand years and it hasn't solved much of anything. Certainly hasn't improved the quality of life like say the polio vaccine, antibiotics, or heck, even something as trivial as video games.

Prager believes that without god, the world would crumble. That sort of absolute security blanket is pretty much impossible to remove. Still, bravo to Hitchens for going on and trying to spread the word.

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 02:55:00 UTC | #46284

Go to: Religion & Culture Panel

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Munger

Once again, we see a pro-religious group that is, in themselves, not truly religious. They don't believe in the divinity and absolute truth of the bible. Instead, they just find it comforting (after they ignore the particularly unpleasant parts). Hitchens (and Dawkins and Harris) are dead on the money when they say that a huge percentage of "believers" don't believe at all. They just can't let go of their security blanket.

Harris makes the point, over and over again, that religious moderates who don't actually believe or follow the teachings of their chosen book don't understand what it means to truly surrender your mind to a magic book. Their defense of religion is laughable. Or it would be if it weren't so ill-informed and misdirected.

Tue, 01 May 2007 09:42:00 UTC | #33921

Go to: Two idiots get a forum

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Munger

It's truly amazing how "logical" so many creationists feel their arguments are. There's a lot of reasons for this, of course, but I think one that's rarely discussed is lack of imagination.

Creationists just can't seem to accept the idea of constant and regular change and that the world they were born into is not the world that always was. After watching the banana argument, it's hard not to wonder why there isn't a "Eye glasses, automobiles, cities, and hunting dogs couldn't have developed naturally so they must have been made by god" video. Pants have two legs and I have two legs! Food is designed to keep me alive, and I breath oxygen and look how much is here! Douglas Adams's puddle analogy is priceless and perfect.

Creations are so limited in their imagination, that they can't even imagine how limited their worldview is. It's a paradox only education and reason can eventually break, I hope.

As for a debate, the more I listen the more I realize that there is no debate to be had. And Dawkins is right that such "debates" are a waste of time for creationists and evolutionists.

CREATIONIST: Where did the universe come from?
EVOLUTIONIST: Several billion years ago there was a big bang.
CREATIONIST: What caused that?
EVOLUTIONIST: We don't know.
CREATIONIST: Aha! So you admit it must've been god who did it. And not just any god, either, but obviously the god I have chosen to worship.
EVOLUTIONIST: What?
CREATIONIST: Well, if science can't answer it, then it must've been god.
EVOLUTIONIST: What?
CREATIONIST: I did not come from slime. I am a very special snowflake made by a cosmic space daddy.
EVOLUTIONIST: Okay, I'm going now.
CREATIONIST: So you admit I've won and that there is a god!
EVOLUTIONIST: Good bye.

Sat, 28 Apr 2007 10:01:00 UTC | #33144

Go to: The God Debate

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 93 by Munger

Seriously, let's take a look at Pascal's Wager again and how absurd it is. You can always demonstrate this with simple substitutions.

I believe there is a tiger on my front porch. I have no proof for this, but it is a possibility, however unlikely. So when I leave my house, I always go out the back door. My cousin believes there is no tiger. He always goes out the front door. So far, there's been no tiger, but maybe the tiger is hiding. Maybe it's just sleeping. Maybe the tiger has mysterious reasons for not revealing himself just yet, but that doesn't mean he won't pounce on me because the reasoning of a tiger is simply beyond my understanding. So just to play it safe, I don't go out the front door.

Every time my cousin goes out the front door, he's risking getting eaten. If he doesn't, that doesn't mean there's no tiger. So if I always go out the back door, I am 100 percent safe from front door tigers. I may be wrong. But if I am, then so what? I just have to go out my back door, which is inconvenient but just playing it safe.

No one would think this was a rational argument for using the back door vs. the front door.

But let's take it up a notch:

There are invisible tigers all around my house. If I ever go outside, they'll eat me. My cousin goes in and out as he pleases, and so far, they haven't eaten him, but he could be just lucky. So I order my food delivered from the grocery store, and I never step off my porch. I have given up many aspects of my life to remain safe from invisible tigers, but it's worth it!

This is the real flaw in Pascal's Wager. You do lose if you waste precious years of your life believing something that simply isn't true. Every hour a Christian sits in church, every day he feels guilty over angering an invisible tiger, and every time he holds himself or humanity back because he believes the invisible tiger tells him it's the right thing to do, then he is losing if he's wrong.

If Sam Harris is right, and there is no god, no afterlife, nothing of the sort, then at least his life has been devoted to learning, to adding to mankind, to sharing the joys we only get in this lifetime instead of anticipating things that never come. He has won Pascal's Wager.

Meanwhile, 80 years of fervent and blind devotion to a lie is a waste of a life. It is a losing gamble. To believe otherwise, is to not place nearly enough value on the time we have.

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 15:35:00 UTC | #27021

Go to: The God Debate

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Munger

Ending the debate on Pascal's Wager shows how limited the faithful's argument is.

"If I'm wrong about Jesus, I lose nothing."

Uh, no. That's assuming that god (or gods) are either Jesus or non-existent. If you're wrong about the god you pick and there turns out to be another god in place, then you lose just as badly as the atheist. Maybe a little worse.

A lot of Christians relying on Pascal's Wager as a safety net are going to be really disappointed to find out Allah is not real happy with Christ worshipers.

Of course, it's always the same. Atheists are accused of being too "close-minded" when they realize that all possibilities are equal when you base them on faith and not evidence.

There's a Rowan Atkinson gag where he's giving the newly damned a tour of hell, and it has a great bit where he starts checking off sinners. At one point, he mentions the Christians.

"Oh, sorry about that. Turns out the Jews were right."

Pascal just lost.

Sun, 01 Apr 2007 17:48:00 UTC | #26795

Go to: Peanut Butter, The Atheist's Nightmare!

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 71 by Munger

I must have missed something somewhere when they said that peanut butter was the foundation of life on earth. I always thought it was Tobasco sauce. Who knew?

These sort of childish arguments are just further proof that creationists are ... well, childish.

Dawkins has pointed out several times that the initial spark that produced life on earth need not be a common event. Indeed, it could be a once in a universe chance. We simply don't know enough.

The more we learn about the universe, the more isolated and ignorant creationists must become as they cling to their god of the gaps. They must be pretty desperate to look for him in jars of peanut butter. Ironically, they haven't found him there either, which for a died-in-the-wool creationist seems to indicate that their god must exist somehow.

Hey, I found no evidence for evolution in my refrigerator! Nor a trace of Zeus! So obviously evolution is wrong and Zeus must've created the universe.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Tue, 27 Mar 2007 09:15:00 UTC | #25633

Go to: Why there are almost no genuine atheists

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by Munger

It's strange, but indisputable, the ethics of personal responsibility are simply beyond many religious folks' understanding. Most people are very child-like apparently, and assume that the only reason to do anything is fear of punishment or love of reward.

Why should I care about the environment? Well, I guess if it was all about me, then I suppose I shouldn't. I'll be dead long before the Earth is a lifeless husk. But don't I have a responsibility to the future generations, who have every right to a life as myself?

Definitely agree with everyone who said that Atheism and Nihlism are not the same thing. Not by a longshot. And it's frustrating to hear this argument thrown at us over and over again.

Wed, 07 Mar 2007 00:04:00 UTC | #22280

Go to: Books on Atheism Are Raising Hackles in Unlikely Places

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by Munger

This really isn't just about atheism vs. religion. It's conflicting viewpoints that just don't get along. So the one side says to the other:

"Well, if you understood enough, you'd agree with me."

What they really mean is:

"If you thought like me, you'd agree with me."

So really, when they accuse Dawkins of not knowing enough, they're really saying he doesn't hold their beliefs. Which he doesn't. The same could be said for we atheists when confronted with religious folks. I'd like to think there's a difference, but it's sometimes hard to tell.

Still, I don't think there are any solid reasons to believe in any particular god-like entity, and even if I did believe in such a powerful being, I'd have no way of knowing which one it would be. Christianity's view of Jehovah is certainly acceptable if you're willing to suspend your disbelief. But so is Thor and Anubis. And here is where the religious folks just don't get it.

Religious people don't believe in any and all gods. They believe in their god. Even if they aren't hardcore Christians, Hindus, or Olympians, they still accept that their god is somehow very much like the god they've been taught to believe in. You'd be hard pressed to find a Christian who believed his god will fight the Midgard Serpent at the end of time, though if the Apocalypse comes in some mystical form, this is as valid a possibility as magical teleportation into heaven.

Dawkins is called to task for not knowing enough theology. But I disagree. There is a lot of theology to know and when one starts studying them, one realizes they are all equally valid, thus equally useless. Most people get around this by calling discarded religions "mythology". They pretend there's a separate category.

I could say the universe was spat out by the Cosmic Space Goat, and you couldn't prove me wrong. Doesn't mean it's true. And if you disagreed with me, I could reply that you haven't done enough research. It's a dishonest tactic to deny your critics a voice just because you don't like what they say.

It's religion, in a nutshell.

Sat, 03 Mar 2007 23:20:00 UTC | #21773

Go to: Debate between Sam Harris and Reza Aslan

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Munger

An interesting debate, if only to show the struggles a reasonable atheist must face to express himself. Harris is clearly in a tough position when the moderator (whose job should be to remain neutral) is so obviously on Aslan's side.

Aslan demonstrates everything that Harris rails against when he speaks of the enabling power of religious moderates. These "religious" people who believe their chosen religious book is not magical, but symbolic.

Utter nonsense.

Aslan accuses Harris of lumping religious people into simplified categories, yet he is allowed, time and time again, to define religious views in a wishy washy, ill-defined manner that basically makes them "personal truths". It's ridiculous, and a cop out. Every Christian I've met has believed that Jesus is literally the son of god and that to not believe in him is to go to hell. I would like Aslan to take a nationwide tour across this country, visiting every church he sees, stopping to ask the people inside the church if they believe Jesus is a symbol or a real man with real supernatural powers. We all know what he'd find. People who are truly religious, who believe in their holy books as divinely inspired and their god as the only true god.

Aslan really loses the debate the moment he compares the Bible to Huck Finn. In Aslan's universe, both occupy the same place. But to a Christian, this would be laughable. Even for an atheist, it's a showcase in true self-deception.

As far as I know, no one has been killed because they liked or hated Huck Finn. And no one has claimed that Huck Finn was inspired by god, that its every word is precious, that if you interpret it right you get to go to heaven, and that it is such a perfect book that it must prove the existence of god.

Aslan is just an atheist who lacks either the imagination or honesty to just admit it. And he can never understand the true mind of a religious soul. But then again, he can't probably even understand himself because there is nothing to understand in what he said except that redefining religion for yourself doesn't redefine it for the world.

Sat, 24 Feb 2007 00:41:00 UTC | #20731

Go to: 'Friends of God' Documentary

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Munger

The first clip is nothing more than cult brainwashing at work. You need only watch it for a few minutes to see the method. Find impressionable minds. Repeat your message over and over again in catchphrase fashion. Use seemingly logical arguments ("Your grandfather didn't look like a monkey!"), and teach them early on to ignore any ideas which contradict this brainwashing.

It's worked for thousands years.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 22:52:00 UTC | #17925

Go to: Sam Harris's Faith in Eastern Spirituality and Muslim Torture

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Munger

Wow, my whole comment was pointless because just above it Harris answers his critics directly. Still, it's nice to know I understood what he meant.

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 23:13:00 UTC | #14547

Go to: Sam Harris's Faith in Eastern Spirituality and Muslim Torture

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Munger

Okay, folks, I read THE END OF FAITH, and I feel there are some thing worth noting.

Yes, he does discuss the use of torture in a very real and uncomfortable way. However, his argument about it comes from the fact that violence at a distance is still violence. Take into account the trauma of a bomber who drops warheads on villages VS. a soldier who actually is down in the trenches shooting folks. The soldier won't kill nearly as many, but he will be more likely to be traumatized because his actions confront him.

Harris is merely pointing out that this is human nature. That violence that is away from us is innately more acceptable than violence that is near us. This can hardly be argued.

Secondly, he points out that though torture is repellent to most of us, it is merely a matter of degrees. Here's an example: You have a prisoner. You know he has information and if you don't that that info, 100 children will die. You also know that the only way to get the info is to torture him. Would you do it?

If you answer no, then ask yourself this, what if a thousand children's lives were at stake? No? How about ten thousand? Surely, there must me a number for each of us where torture, though distasteful, becomes less distasteful than the result of squeamishness.

This is not to say that Harris endorses torture. He merely presents a simplified argument that should make all of us realize that life is not so black and white as we want to pretend. In THE END OF FAITH, Harris does not come out pro-torture. He merely proposes that violence is sometimes necessary and we create artificial limits based on the emotional distance of the violence.

Surely, we can all agree that it is not less reprehensible to torture one person for information than to drop bombs that kill hundreds of innocent civilians? Of course, war and violence is always reprehensible. But this does not mean they aren't sometimes necessary. Harris does not say "we should begin torturing prisoners". He merely discusses the rationales of violence that we are comfortable with. The very fact that so many people misinterpret this stand as "pro-torture" shows how quickly people stop listening (and stop thinking) as soon as any philosophical discussion begins.

As for Harris's views on ESP, Buddhism, etc., these are not wholly unusual. As far as I can tell, Harris doesn't believe there is proof for ESP, does not endorse its existence. Perhaps he is more "New Agey" than we would like. But his interest in human consciousness is one of exploration and interest. He doesn't dismiss meditation or reincarnation. Neither does he dismiss an afterlife. For that matter, neither does Richard Dawkins who says these things are just highly unlikely to exist.

So Harris is a little less convinced. That doesn't mean that his arguments aren't logical. And I've yet to hear of Harris actually going to a psychic or basing his explorations of human consciousness through anything other than study.

Regardless of his "Weird" ideas, Harris shares the most essential philosophy with Dawkins. Both are for open discussion of all ideas and philosophies. This includes torture, ESP, alien abductions, and so on. While I'm with most everyone here that there is no god, ESP is wishful thinking, and it's highly unlikely aliens are coming to earth just to screw with us in secret, I don't care if these ideas are discussed frankly.

This movement is not about censorship, but about tearing down the walls that divide us. Only when we are free to discuss all ideas can we begin to understand which ones are worth keeping. Regardless of Harris's (misrepresented) views on torture and (very un-skeptical) views on meditation, he is an outspoken advocate of open discussion.

After all, you can call Harris a kook, and he won't call you intolerant. How many in the religious right can say that?

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 23:11:00 UTC | #14546

Go to: CBC Segment on Evangelist Christians

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by Munger

Really a fascinating report. If it's to be taken at face value (and I don't see why it shouldn't since it is not a piece made for atheists or Christians) is shows what many of us already suspect. The Christian doctrine of avoiding questions and uncomfortable subjects means they must constantly retreat from society as science and culture shifts from them.

If this is the case, then inevitably, like any obsolete element of society, Christianity will eventually fade away. All atheists have to do is not hide their feelings anymore, and the faithful will eventually just disappear on their own.

Perhaps it won't be that easy, but it's an encouraging sign.

Thu, 21 Dec 2006 23:01:00 UTC | #12406

Go to: The Blasphemy Challenge

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Munger

The problem is that by "denying" the holy spirit, you are announcing that you believe there is something to deny. Either that, or you are simply trying to convert someone to your own "faith".

But science and skepticism isn't faith. It's quite the opposite, and by playing this game, they're playing on religion's terms. Religion cannot hold up against scientific honesty. And science cannot compete against religion's powers of denial.

The argument MUST remain rational. Atheists should not come across as intolerant and "against" religion in general (or one religion specifically) because that's not what this is about.

Dawkins gets unfairly labeled as intolerant, but in this case, the Rational Response Squad, if not technically intolerant, are certainly seeking a head-on conflict where none is needed. People don't need to deny the holy spirit. They need to deny blind faith and ridiculous superstitious reasoning. The atheism movement of Dawkins is not one of anti-Christianity (or anti-Judiasm or anti-Wiccan). It is against all these things. Placing too much emphasis on one form of magical, logic-defying worldview means ignoring all the others.

This is not a battle waged on one front, and it should never be treated like it. And this is not a contest of equals, and science need not lower itself to childish oaths and pledges to get the job done.

Fri, 15 Dec 2006 22:40:00 UTC | #11304

Go to: The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science (US)

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Munger

An informative and disturbing list. Whenever anyone argues that it's there right to believe anything they want and I should respect that as long as it doesn't hurt me, I think of this. Religion is rarely harmless, but I can overlook it generally. But when it starts affecting public policy, it's too much to expect me to look the other way. We can no longer tolerate this "live and let live" attitude in such cases.

When I think of the number of teen pregnancies that could've been avoided with honest education and the thousands of hours the US government has wasted on gay marriage, intelligent design, and countless other non-issues, I can only say that religion must be subjected to the same criticism all large scale social philosophies are subject to.

Lists like this only make it all the more evident.

Thu, 14 Dec 2006 01:37:00 UTC | #10999

Go to: Atheists' bleak alternative

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Munger

Whenever I hear the argument that without god, mankind would tear itself to pieces in a frenzy of murderous bloodlust, I can only shake my head sadly. This fallacy of "religion" with "morality" is perhaps the atheist's biggest obstacle.

As a long-standing atheist, I am amazed by the number of people who do not know what to make of me once they find out I don't believe in god. Usually they don't find out until they've known me a while and realize that I am a moral and ethical person. While they don't change their opinion of me, they also have a great deal of trouble understanding how this is possible.

I don't blame them but the society that so often and consistently trots out religion as synonymous with decency and goodness. The day we separate this morality and religion assumption is the day I think religion will finally and inevitably crumble.

And yeah, I'm pretty sick of hearing how we godless atheists are just waiting for the go ahead to eat babies and kick puppies.

Thu, 14 Dec 2006 01:27:00 UTC | #10996

Go to: [Updated YouTube embed code 04-Jun-2011] Ken Miller on Intelligent Design

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Munger

Miller may call himself a Roman Catholic, but the guy is smart as a whip and also logical. After all, if there is a god and he is all-powerful, why would he throw down thousands of bits of evidence to confuse us? Miller proves that just because you believe in a god, that doesn't require you to shut your eyes and ignore what you see around you.

I don't know how he manages the dichotomy, but he does. More importantly, he is a strong advocate of rationality and intelligence. I'd certainly find religion less offensive if all its followers were as well-educated and logical.

The key here is that Miller understands the big difference between religion and science, unlike most religious folks. He also understands enough about biology and evolution to see the evidence for it everywhere. Your average person just doesn't get that.

In the end, when we atheists rail against religion, we are railing against ignorance and unthinking acceptance of dogma. Obviously, Miller isn't in this camp. I gladly welcome "religious" folks who realize that it's okay to think and question and observe, and that the bible isn't the beginning and end of all human knowledge.

Well done, Mr. Miller. Informative and enlightening.

Wed, 13 Dec 2006 10:57:00 UTC | #10874

Go to: Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show with Pat Kenny

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 192 by Munger

The hardest thing for most people seems to be Richard Dawkins' certainty. For people who want to believe in magic, certainty can come across as pig-headed and condescending. There's really not much you can do to stop this idea other than keep encouraging people to think.

What I find interesting is that Dawkins is often attacked for being intolerant and narrow-minded for believing what he sees and not what he doesn't. It is assumed that only arrogance can eliminate the possibility of a god.

But it's possibility that we're talking about. Dawkins is not dismissing the idea of an external creative force (which remains undefined), but of the Christian god, the Muslim god, the Greek gods, and all gods since the history of time. These gods are defined and given form. They function in specific ways and those ways should be measurable. Christians should experience different probabilities if Jesus does indeed answer prayers. There should be a temple on Mount Olympus where Zeus and his ilk can be found. There are not. The notion of a god other than a clock maker who set everything in motion is just antiquated and not supported by observation.

The clock maker god isn't supported by logic. After all, the argument that the universe is too complex to exist out of nothing does not explain why the clock maker god (equally complex) is allowed to exist out of nothing. Why is the thing we can all see and experience without question less believable to theists than some external deity we cannot?

Creationist argument seems to boil down to this. Turkey sandwiches cannot exist out of the blue, but a turkey sandwich maker can.

I believe Richard Dawkins must become more aggressive and straight forward in his arguments. People generally lack enough background in science and critical thinking to understand what he says (as is evident by the silly arguments used to discredit him). I realize it must be disappointing to answer the same questions over and over again, but he must discover a different tactic because clearly, the answers he's giving just don't make sense to your average "believer". There's no doubt that's their flawed perception, not his, but it's time we destroyed religion on its most established and "logical" foundations.

Tue, 12 Dec 2006 09:30:00 UTC | #10685

Go to: Intelligent Design teaching materials sent to UK schools

Munger's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Munger

Notice how often the Intelligent Designer invokes the words "science" and "evidence". I'm glad that the other guy calls him on it though. And really, the question of "Who is this designer?" is the proof that Intelligent Design is not a theory, but poorly disguised Christianity.

After all, if a teacher started using the Intelligent Design packets to suggest that it's possible that Zeus and the gods of Olympus created the earth, or that aliens seeded our planet with DNA, how many Intelligent Design advocates would still be on board?

Intelligent Design only works because people have such a limited understanding of what the word "theory" means and how scientific research works. Dawkins is right when he says we can no longer allow ignorance and misunderstood definitions to dominate these debates.

Wed, 06 Dec 2006 22:56:00 UTC | #9962