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Comments by opposablethumbs

Go to: Pharyngula under attack

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 113 by opposablethumbs

Nope, still not accessible to all :(

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 07:43:58 UTC | #604278

Go to: Clergy told to take on 'new atheists'

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 102 by opposablethumbs

If only they would ditch the supernatural and stick with what really matters - morality, compassion, social conscience - they might realise they have more in common with RD and most of the the denizens of RDNet than they do with the vile misogyny, homophobia and dictatorial oppression of Palpatine and his RC-ers, the frothing-at-the-mouth fundagelicals (e.g. US and Ugandan varieties) and the bloody-handed wahhabists.

A lot of CoE folk are decent, civilised human beings who have no problem with science (apart from jumping though the hoop of cognitive dissonance as they studiously close their eyes to avoid noticing the contradiction). The uncivilised among them are already heading for the RC on one side and fundagelicalism on the other precisely because the CoE isn't nasty and intolerant enough for them.

They should get no tax-breaks, obviously, and no special treatment or special role in public life - goes without saying!

As others have pointed out (Comment 39 by AtheistEgbert, Comment 42 by Firef00t and Comment 83 by Peter Grant) they really should - and who knows, ultimately could (though I'm definitely not holding my breath) - come over to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 09:08:53 UTC | #588809

Go to: Evangelicals' free school would include creationism on science curriculum

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by opposablethumbs

Comment 71 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Thank you for posting the BHA campaign link, Ivan - one personalised email on its way to my MP now.

Sat, 05 Feb 2011 22:22:45 UTC | #588409

Go to: Law could bury ancient secrets for ever

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by opposablethumbs

Comment 29 by Marcus Small

I think that their intentions, insofar as they can be known or deduced, only matter to the extent that disregarding or respecting them has the power to help or harm the living. So I would of course agree that it's important that we "respect" those of the dead who have living descendants with feelings to be hurt (i.e. we're really respecting the living descendants here). But I don't see why any one group of distant descendants (which eventually gets to include all of us anyway) should have some special veto on studying ancient human remains. (I do realise you weren't arguing for this yourself, though).

So I think it really depends on whether a course of action helps or harms the living (though like most people, I think, I entangle motives and feelings when it comes to the recently dead) - and at what point does a genuine personal connection with the dead become woo. If a group of people have strong feelings about some ancient human remains, does that make those feelings sacrosanct? If we agree that they are, and that they override the importance of research, say, then perhaps we should agree that other strong feelings are equally sacrosanct and that they override the importance of not having to veil our faces in public or whatever else is upsetting someone. Sorry, I really haven't put that as clearly as I would like - in too much of a hurry! - but I hope it's not completely incoherent! :-)

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 16:35:18 UTC | #587920

Go to: Law could bury ancient secrets for ever

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by opposablethumbs

The ancient dead have no such means to tell us of their thoughts.

The dead don't have thoughts, they had thoughts. The living have thoughts and feelings, which matter; the dead are just dead.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 15:24:24 UTC | #587888

Go to: Law could bury ancient secrets for ever

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by opposablethumbs

What the dead, ancient or modern, would have wanted (to the extent that this could be known or reasonably conjectured) is irrelevant: they're dead. What does matter is the wellbeing of the living, who could be affected by the knowledge of what is being done with their ancestors' remains. I would suggest that this applies where the living actually have some genuine personal connection with the deceased - and this does not in fact extend back indefinitely across generations. One has such a connection with ones parents, grandparents, great-grandparents ... anything much further than that is probably willful self-delusion.

Trying to put myself in the descendants' shoes... say someone wanted to exhibit my very much loved and sorely missed mother's skeleton in a museum (necessarily hypothetical: I scattered the ashes myself) - that might be upsetting (it doesn't matter that this is irrational (and even though my mother probably wouldn't have minded as long as they got the science right)). My grandmother's? Play it safe; some of her children are still around. My great-grandmother's? Why the hell not? I agree with Stevehill; it would be an honour to play a part in advancing human knowledge in any way.

And when it comes to skeletons (or whatever remains) from many generations back, why should we pretend that these really belong to one group of living people more than to any other? (strictly speaking, it must surely be impossible except in a very few cases to prove any connection - a person alive today has only got 1/128th of their genes from an ancestor only a few generations back). So why shouldn't these remains belong to humanity, who can benefit from their possible value as a scientific resource?

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 14:30:15 UTC | #587859

Go to: Why Atheists Laugh at Religion

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by opposablethumbs

Comment 15 by rjohn19

Based on your screen name (I hate Bible bashers), I'm not certain on which side of the fence your nuts fall.

Biblebashing is ranting on and on and on about the bible. I think the image comes from the evangelical preacher style (e.g using it as an audiovisual aid to oratory - bashing it down on the table, or striking it dramatically with the other hand as you get to the climax of whatever rubbish you're spouting). So IH8BibleBashers is approximately = relentless religidiot windbags get on my wick :)

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 08:00:57 UTC | #587250

Go to: Ken Ham vs. Rev. Barry Lynn Over Tax Funded Bible Theme Park

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by opposablethumbs

There is info via Pharyngula:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/the_latest_ark_news_from_kentu.php

(see link a few lines down)

  • apparently they will be hiring selectively, based on religious belief. And somewhere else on the Pharyngula site
  • http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/ken_ham_still_doesnt_get_it.php

  • seems the feasibility study (on which basis the tax breaks are being justified) is highly questionable - numbers coughmade-upcough researched by a personal friend of Ham's. There are more links to the details (sorry I haven't got them all here!)
  • Tue, 01 Feb 2011 14:53:55 UTC | #586666

    Go to: Where Does Homosexuality Fit In The Evolutionary Process?? (PLEASE HELP!)

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 88 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 86 by ddeniska My own feeling is that it is primarily a psychological condition developed in early childhood.

    But what about the widely documented incidence of homosexuality in non-human animals? Do e.g. ducklings, baby chimps, elephant calves and penguin chicks develop a comparable psychological condition?

    Mon, 31 Jan 2011 14:19:01 UTC | #586289

    Go to: Astrologers angered by stars

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by opposablethumbs

    Carto, you're a bit harsh - the poor lad doesn't gurn, exactly, he just .... has certain habitual facial expressions! ;-)

    It was great to hear Brian Cox talking about the concept of "balance" in the media, and explaining exactly why this doesn't mean giving evidence-based science and fairytale tosh equal weight. Cracking stuff, and a pleasure to hear someone with real scientific credentials not mincing words when it comes to new age drivel.

    Mon, 24 Jan 2011 16:18:58 UTC | #583527

    Go to: Religion must be in key school exam, insist faith leaders

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by opposablethumbs

    If anything, religion/s ought to be a minor element in a wide-ranging discussion class - a chance for pupils to cut their teeth on arguing (hopefully with good refereeing!) about all sorts of philosophical/ethical ideas. Definitely no homework and no exams involved - they have GCSEs taking up all their time and energy for that, and sadly get more than enough teaching-to-the-exam anyway. With good teaching (well there are good teachers - they might enjoy it too!) this could be recuperated as a rare chance for some of that "old-style" education for education's sake, the kind there's no time for in the curriculum...

    Sun, 23 Jan 2011 12:33:14 UTC | #582879

    Go to: Religion must be in key school exam, insist faith leaders

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

    You're right, sadly "citizenship" lessons can go the same way as RE - they ought to be about encouraging people to think and to question prejudices, but are all too often about shepherding pupils into a particular convenient fold.

    Perhaps I should just refer to ethics and critical thinking, and leave it at that!

    Sun, 23 Jan 2011 11:35:16 UTC | #582849

    Go to: Religion must be in key school exam, insist faith leaders

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by opposablethumbs

    Religion as a phenomenon and religions as they manifest themselves in practice in human society should be studied in History and in lessons combining "Citizenship" with ethics and critical thinking. Having a whole subject stream devoted only to these myths and the behaviour people attribute to believing in them gives the wrong impression, as it could easily imply that the myths themselves are somehow worthy of respect. We don't need to believe in Asgard or Animism in order to find studying them interesting and informative, after all.

    Sun, 23 Jan 2011 11:13:34 UTC | #582841

    Go to: Islamophobia is the moral blind spot of modern Britain

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 63 by Cartomancer

    Well said. (Wish I were a tenth as well-informed, clear-sighted and articulate, dammit!)

    Sat, 22 Jan 2011 14:36:18 UTC | #582531

    Go to: "The Selfish Gene's" negative message

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by opposablethumbs

    Others have put it better up-thread, but I just thought I'd add another analogy that I quite like - though YMMV of course!

    In one sense, we are "really" just a colony of selfish replicators - just as in one sense, both we and the brick wall are "really" almost entirely made up of empty space. But we still can't walk through the wall; we simply don't conduct ourselves or experience our existence on a sub-atomic or a gene's-eye level. Just as the wall feels solid, so too our experiences make sense to us on the level at which we engage with them. Just as what we perceive as solidity emerges from the physical characteristics of the atom, what we perceive as altruism emerges from the evolution of our genes.

    And of course the wall is solid, and we are capable of genuine altruism. We make conscious decisions to behave altruistically (or not) - influenced just as much by natural (evolved) impulses towards altruism and social cohesion as by any other.

    Fri, 21 Jan 2011 14:50:43 UTC | #582045

    Go to: Renounce Catholicism

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by opposablethumbs

    Brethren, you are all very grievously mistaken.

    You all know that history is written by the winners ....

    I refer you to the true story of how the wolf was neither big nor bad but egregiously framed

    http://www.amazon.com/True-Story-Three-Little-Pigs/dp/0140544518#reader_0140544518

    and also to the tale of the three little wolves, their housing crisis and the unconscionably exploitative big bad pig

    http://www.amazon.com/Three-Little-Wolves-Big-Bad/dp/068981528X#reader_068981528X

    On a more serious note, good luck to KARENGOULD81 in shedding the burden of myth.

    Fri, 21 Jan 2011 14:06:18 UTC | #582036

    Go to: Bristol gay couple win Cornwall B&B bed ban case

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 230 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 228 by xmaseveeve

    Comment 216, No2rel

    *'You could have commented that what I wrote was tedius and not clever, but you didn't.'

    After what you said, I'd say Opposablethumbs was extremely polite to you.

    Thank you xmaseve!

    Perhaps I should have expressed myself a little more plainly:

    If the supernaturalists who run this b&b hadn't behaved indefensibly in the first place, by refusing accommodation to a couple just because they were the same sex (even though they were married - not that this ought to matter!) then none of this would have happened. The law quite rightly prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexuality; the b&b-bulls broke the law. The couple in question wanted to rent a room together for a weekend break, just like any other couple. Nothing to do with extortion or narcissism, except in your apparently unpleasant and deluded imagination (fertile imagination, though, I must say! Full marks for plucking non-sequiturs out of thin air).

    Thu, 20 Jan 2011 17:47:08 UTC | #581589

    Go to: Bristol gay couple win Cornwall B&B bed ban case

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 207 by opposablethumbs

    @ Comment 211 by no2rel

    You are just too, too tedious. Won't you at least try to be clever, beyond your abilities though that may be?

    Comment 209 by Ignorant Amos

    Comment 208 by danconquer

    Until such time as all such discrimination is eliminated, specifically gay oriented businesses are a legitimate response and trying to draw any sort of equivalence whatsoever with straight-only marketing or businesses is tantamount to blaming the victim, or at least saying that the victim is morally comparable to their oppressors.

    Well said Sir.

    Yes indeed. Complainants presumably also fail to notice the contextual difference between men-only clubs - as if the society we live in weren't a patriarchy - and the case for (some) women-only havens (the parallel being, that (whatever their individual merits or otherwise) they are not equivalent in the light of our historical context).

    Wed, 19 Jan 2011 21:52:55 UTC | #581179

    Go to: Bristol gay couple win Cornwall B&B bed ban case

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 103 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 98 by lackofgravitas

    How about a little thought experiment?

    How about if an atheist opened a nightclub/B&B/bar/entertainment establishment, that specifically stated that it's whole purpose was to foster intelligent debate, spread knowledge and basically ridicule religion in all its forms?

    How would that work out, do you think?

    I'd love to see a sign that read "No catholics, no protestants, no muslims, no buddhists, no spiritualists. (FSM and Jedi allowed) :)

    Illegal or not?

    A bit like this website perhaps... its whole purpose is to foster intelligent debate and spread knowledge, and people around here are free to take the mickey out of religion in all its forms (the most extreme ridiculing is generally that inadvertently done by the religiots themselves). And from what I've seen, those religious people who care to drop by and who are not themselves virulently anti-atheist or closed-minded tend to get a courteous reception. Admittedly there are not very many, as most of the religious who come here come specifically to express their disapproval and, not surprisingly, are received accordingly - but there are a few who genuinely come to talk, and they are as welcome as anybody else.

    Tue, 18 Jan 2011 21:19:12 UTC | #580645

    Go to: David Attenborough — not over, not out

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by opposablethumbs

    When my daughter was very young, she wanted to grow up to be David Attenborough (literally). A few years later, realising that it doesn't work like that, she wanted to be the next David Attenborough. Then she wanted to be a zoologist. Now she's about to go to university (if all goes well... ! ) to study biochemistry... so the interests and aspirations have shifted a bit, but we still definitely have him to thank for first inspiring wonder and enthusiasm for science. And above all, we thank him for never talking down to his audience, for always giving us the best, for demonstrating in every way that intelligence and knowledge are enthralling, attractive, exciting and unsurpassed fun.

    What a person with whom to have gone tadpole-hunting!

    Sat, 15 Jan 2011 12:24:07 UTC | #578766

    Go to: For the love of God – or good – support World Interfaith Harmony Week

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 18 by Art Vandelay and Comment 31 by mellifera - they got there first, but .... aaall together now - sing up, sing up! Who can resist that toe-tapping melody?!

    Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,

    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,

    And the Hindus hate the Muslims,

    And everybody hates the Jews.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,

    It's National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.

    Be nice to people who

    Are inferior to you.

    It's only for a week, so have no fear.

    Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

    Thu, 13 Jan 2011 21:22:37 UTC | #577961

    Go to: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Biology...

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by opposablethumbs

    I also call copy-and-paste :-D on the basis of stylistic comparison with earlier posts ....

    Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:22:21 UTC | #577900

    Go to: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Biology...

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by opposablethumbs

    Non-random. Look it up.

    Thu, 13 Jan 2011 14:51:02 UTC | #577747

    Go to: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Biology...

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by opposablethumbs

    Your watch is a chestnut so old it has practically fossilised, Carl_G85. Go away and read a basic, e.g. high-school level, introduction to natural selection (the non-random selection and accumulation of random variations. Did you notice the words "non-random" there? Just in case: non-random) or better still, why not have a read of "Climbing Mount Improbable". It's well-written, full of fascinating information and a really enjoyable book.

    Thu, 13 Jan 2011 14:40:41 UTC | #577735

    Go to: Atheist-fail

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by opposablethumbs

    Have done the singing and dancing one - living in a flat in Paris, got into a not-really-argument with flatmates and guests about who was going to do the washing up, cooking, cleaning etc. ... and we ended up conducting the entire discussion as a cod-opera across the inner courtyard, from window to window. When we finally dried up, we realised that everyone else in the block could hear the whole thing - amazingly enough, some people actually applauded :).

    My superpower/impossible wish would be for do-as-you-would-be-done-by to become a law of nature; anyone who deliberately harmed someone else would experience all the fear and pain they were causing, and anyone who made someone happy would experience the same joy themselves. Would make for lots of great music, great sex, and an abrupt halt to violent misogyny among (too many) other things.

    Doctors and dentists etc. aren't trying to harm you, so even if they cause pain they have a get-out clause ;)

    Sat, 08 Jan 2011 23:46:34 UTC | #575445

    Go to: The Islamification of Britain: record numbers embrace Muslim faith

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 90 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 84 by Ani Sharmin

    It's always bothered me when people refer to immigrants (and children of immigrants, like myself) as having become "Westernized" or "Americanized" as if ideas like freedom, equal rights, etc. are somehow the property of one country, instead of a good idea for everyone. I adopted those ideas because they're good ideas, not just to go along with what country I'm living in.

    Very good point.

    Comment 89 by AshFromHousewares. You fixed it correctly - still, new troll perhaps? Wouldn't do to go over-feeding them ;-D

    Of course, if the brand-new Edmustimes really did want to explain things... and after all, he did join the forum only a few hours ago just in order to say so... it's a pity he then couldn't be bothered to make the effort! Can't have been anything very important then.

    Thu, 06 Jan 2011 17:53:50 UTC | #574187

    Go to: A need for atheist fiction?

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by opposablethumbs

    Stephen Fry's The Hippopotamus is fun - a child's supernatural force or "gift" convinces all (well almost all) of the characters and is presented as (almost) plausible to the reader until ...

    Very enjoyable!

    And veering slightly OT from actual fiction to - well, entertaining material in general - three cheers again for Dara O'Brien (in the fecking sack), Brian Cox (astrology is bollocks - and of course, for that all-important even-handedness and BBC balance - astrology is utter bollocks) and not forgetting Father Ted.

    I want an islamic version of Father Ted.....

    Tue, 04 Jan 2011 23:23:45 UTC | #573482

    Go to: The Islamification of Britain: record numbers embrace Muslim faith

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by opposablethumbs

    "Before it was the jeans, the hoodies, loads of make-up," she says.

    Now Aisha [formerly Laura] wears a long black jilbab (a long flowing over-garment) and a cream-coloured hijab (headscarf).

    "For me now, obviously it's a dramatic change, but it's a change I'm happy I've made, because now I don't have to prove myself to anybody out there." (BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12075931)

    Pity it never seems to have occurred to her - or to anybody around her, perhaps, anybody whose opinion she might have valued - that you don't need anybody's permission, or a special label, in order to stop seeing yourself/conforming to expectations as a sex object (if that is what she's implying by "loads of make-up ... prove myself to anybody out there." Of course I may be misinterpreting her words, but that's what it looks like to me).

    This is heartbreaking - she doesn't like one set of social rules, one kind of conformity - so she feels she has to pick a different, even more rigid set of rules to conform to? She doesn't want to "have to prove herself" to a bunch of moronic half-wit boys (and girls) who expect her to dress/act "sexy" - now she has to prove herself to a bunch of misogynists who demand that she never ever step outside the front door without covering up completely.

    It's not clear and easy by any means for people to negotiate their own way between the Scylla and Charybdis of sex-role expectations in any society and even try to "be themselves" or live on their own terms, but this just makes me want to grind my teeth and ask her why on earth she felt that the only way to "free" herself from one form of commodification was to adopt some misogynistic religious rule-book which ultimately defines women as chattels.

    Tue, 04 Jan 2011 13:46:37 UTC | #573162

    Go to: Not being accepted by loved ones after being open about my atheism

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by opposablethumbs

    Some very good advice here, and I hope very much that it helps - I suspect this is not an easy row to hoe. The only thing I would add is that it might be a good idea to have a nice relaxed (I hope!) and leisurely chat with your girlfriend about not wanting her to find herself between a rock and a hard place either now(-ish) or at some time down the line (e.g. post-arrival of kids, should this go long-term and should you decide together to have any). It can of course put a lot of strain on any relationship if one or other of the parties is torn between conflicting loyalties, and it could be very hard for her (or anyone) to deal with being the person in the middle. So it would seem crucial for her to think about that, hopefully with your support, and perhaps you could discuss a few scenarios (what should we do when there's a christening/wedding/funeral/xmas etc.) and work out strategies together - e.g. how best for you to form a bond, or at least a modus vivendi, with her family without compromising your principles.

    I wish you the very best!

    Mon, 27 Dec 2010 01:43:02 UTC | #569103

    Go to: More teens becoming 'fake' Christians

    opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by opposablethumbs

    Comment 43 by Ivan The Not So Bad

    Self-serving Christianity? Spoing! .... Imposter faith? Spoing! There goes my spare.

    Jesus 'n Mo must be ordering them in by the truckload. We need so many... :-D

    Sat, 18 Dec 2010 00:07:53 UTC | #564898