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Comments by Zaphod

Go to: The Great Faith Debate at UCF in Orlando FL

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Zaphod

These guys are having the same debate they had last year, and the year before.

Mon, 21 Sep 2009 18:40:00 UTC | #399606

Go to: Professor Dawkins On Bestselling Book

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Zaphod

How boring must Dawkins find these interviews. He is always asked the same most basic questions.

Sun, 20 Sep 2009 23:51:00 UTC | #399367

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by Zaphod

Many times things ARE black and white...like the fact that Nature has no business givin any credibility to the Templeton Foundation. Some of their core themes are : Spiritual Development, Spiritual Transformation, & Spirituality & Health.


I to am highly sceptical and suspicious of the Templeton Foundation and its motives.

That said, if they funded a study into say "human genetic predisposition to supernatural beliefs" or "the neurological basis of different beliefs" and these studies were published in nature, would it bother you?

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 16:58:00 UTC | #374104

Go to: God and Science Don't Mix

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by Zaphod

I am with Lawrence up until he says

Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.


Simultaneously simplistic and overblown.

Didn't a certain superpower supposedly built on "reason" have a massive civil war?

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 16:54:00 UTC | #374103

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Zaphod

I'm sorry that the complexity of the world bores you.

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 16:01:00 UTC | #374089

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by Zaphod

In his postscript Sam cites a comment (18. Comment #391003 by Zaphod on June 25, 2009 at 12:35 am) I made.

For instance, I made an analogy about Hitler:

To use an admittedly crude example: if the only thing a person can think to say about the morality of Adolph Hitler is that he was a “committed vegetarian,” this would say rather more by way of omission. In your Nature column, and in this exchange, what you haven’t said matters more than you seem to realize.

And Ball responded in a way that conveniently misconstrued my analogy and claimed, thereby, that I had made a serious misstep. He devoted a closing paragraph to this silliness:

Incidentally, your ‘Hitler’ analogy sounds rather compelling until you consider that what you’re saying seems more like the following: rather than say ‘Hitler was German chancellor from 1933 to 1945’, one is always obliged to say ‘Hitler (in my opinion a vile and deranged antisemite) was chancellor from 1933 to 1945’. What is not said doesn’t always imply a particular point of view.

I could have responded by pointing out his distortion (notice that in my original analogy I made it clear that one would be discussing Hitler’s morality, not his place in history, his mustache, or anything else. From my point of view, Ball’s entire point was a waste of words. Rather than waste more words responding to such distractions, I rely on readers to notice when my opponent is being silly. As it turns out, some readers don’t. I find this painful, but not as painful as going back and forth in a way that is guaranteed to bore everyone and address nothing of substance.
The part that in bold is a link to my comment from his site.

Sam is right that it doesn't characterise his analogy 100% correctly but the point was as Ball states.

What is not said doesn’t always imply a particular point of view.



In day 4 of the debate Sam continues
In your Nature column, and in this exchange, what you haven’t said matters more than you seem to realize.


I think Ball's analogy humorously points out the folly of such a statement. Sam seems to read more into things than is actually there which is ironic considering his lack of reading into situations of geopolitics, society, anthropology and culture. Whenever religion is involved that appears to be all he sees.

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 15:39:00 UTC | #374084

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Zaphod

"My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world."

-- J.B.S. Haldane

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597314928257169.html

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 20:10:00 UTC | #373875

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Zaphod

I see this suggestion that atheism implies scientists acting like politics pretty often. It puzzles me.


I never said atheism implied anything other than not believing in god. That said, I get the impression that some atheists think if all religious people had a scientific world view instead, they would suddenly all agree on everything and the world would be awesome. If that was the case why don't all atheists have the same political beliefs.

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 01:41:00 UTC | #373724

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Zaphod

Ball agrees that the scientific method and religious supernatural beliefs are incompatible.

Ball is one of those "I'm an atheist but..." kind of people. I am not confortable with the I'm an atheist but crowd.


The "I'm an atheist, but…" canard is stupid, it is trotted out whenever any atheist disagrees. I am an atheist but everything. I am not defined by one thing I don't believe in.

How about I'm an atheist but I don't have faith that the scientists of the world will lead us to a secular utopia.

I would like all scientists who do science to have a scientific world view but this is not the case. Some as Sam states perform science competently as a trade and don't seem to think of the philosophical implications. To expect every scientist to have the same opinion as Sam is naive.

I honestly think religion should stay the hell away from science as far as it can


Where it encroaches on science and Ball thinks it is a problem (eg. intelligent design) he stated that he speaks up about it and will continue to.

Ball thinks Sam's analysis of religious belief is simplistic and he thinks Sam's approach is a poor strategy.

When Sam talks about the Middle East he is superficial and down right daft at times.


Let me just finish with this. I have a scientific and sceptical outlook on the world. I admire good scholarship over hyberbole and one liners. I think the scientific outlook is the dogs bollocks. There isn't a supernatural claim I have heard that I didn't think was idiotic on its face and with further examination I have been correct in thinking that.

I am not an accomodationist in that I think the scientific outlook coheres with religious beliefs but I realise that I live on the planet with 6.5 billion other people, who all don't think exactly like me.

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 01:09:00 UTC | #373714

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Zaphod

Ball does not talk about real life when he wants to let religion sit on the same seat as science.


Philip have you read the article or the exchange. I ask this because your interpretation of Ball's opinion seems to suggest you haven't or if you have you have seriously misread it. Ball is an atheist who has no religious convictions. He simply disagrees with Sam's approach and analysis. He sees Sam as leaving out a massive amount of socio-political and economic context from his views of religion. I re-watched Sam debate Reza Aslan and even though I agree with Sam that religions are all bullshit I was embarrassed by Sam's analysis. He is talking to a Middle East expert and he hits out with the "god as cosmic retailer" canard. No serious rational person with interest in Middle Eastern affairs could make such a statement.

Also as a wannabe neuroscientist I would suspect Sam to have a more nuanced analysis of the biology and psychology of belief in general.

Also note that my post seems to be the only contrary opinion to the obsequious mass of comments that came before.

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:22:00 UTC | #373708

Go to: [UPDATED] What should science do? Sam Harris v. Philip Ball

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Zaphod

Ball says

From what you say, I suspect that what you object to most is my suggestion that the contradictions between science and faith need not in themselves be a big deal. By this I mean that I see no need to be so desperately worried about them when religious leaders and believers are moderates rather than are not scriptural literalists. I see no great threat to science from the kind of Anglicanism advocated by its current leader, or from the liberal forms of Islam that are held by thinkers such as Ziauddin Sardar. There are plenty of people, including many scientists, who are quite able to live with (or open to exploring) the contradictions and feel no need to rewrite or deny the mainstream scientific consensus. And these people are, in my experience, not at all “living in a state of abject confusion, beset by absurd hopes and fears”. It hardly needs to be said that science can thrive in societies in which religion is present (perhaps even strong) – it has done so throughout all of history.

As shown by the Saudi girl(who I assume was Muslim) who was doing a PhD in the lab I was doing my honours project in.


Sam says
And as far as science itself is concerned, it has become all too obvious that many scientists practice their discipline like a trade, without ever attempting to form a truly consilient, or even consistent, view of the world.

That is true.


Ball says
Incidentally, your ‘Hitler’ analogy sounds rather compelling until you consider that what you’re saying seems more like the following: rather than say ‘Hitler was German chancellor from 1933 to 1945’, one is always obliged to say ‘Hitler (in my opinion a vile and deranged antisemite) was chancellor from 1933 to 1945’. What is not said doesn’t always imply a particular point of view.

Ball pwned Sam there.


Sam always offers hypotheticals and thought games and Ball is talking about real life. The actual world as it is. Sam Harris seems to have a faith that science can lead humanity to utopia. I don't share it, but I do think science is the best method for garnering accurate information about the physical world.

EDITED 28th June 2009

See "71. Comment #391399 by Zaphod on June 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm"

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 23:35:00 UTC | #373698

Go to: Atheists 'not fully human', says Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by Zaphod

Elderly VIRGINS in red velvet are getting the full human experience? Yea they aren't missing out on ANYTHING are they. lol

Thu, 14 May 2009 15:45:00 UTC | #360117

Go to: Atheists Sue to Get Prayer, God Out of Obama's Swearing-In

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 167 by Zaphod

If Obama changed "God" to "Allah" in the inauguration. That would be amusing. I somehow doubt the fundie loons would approve.

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 09:26:00 UTC | #296035

Go to: Irreligion & Scandinavian Society - An interview with Phil Zuckerman

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 229 by Zaphod

I bet the least religious places in the world are still totally irrational and infected with all sorts of new age beliefs and cults.

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 09:13:00 UTC | #296033

Go to: The New Atheism, a definition and a quiz

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by Zaphod

"New Atheism" is a term created by the media. Perhaps they can tell us what it is.

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 05:56:00 UTC | #293890

Go to: Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson Debate

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 176 by Zaphod

Wilson's opening statement is ridiculous. It sounds like he has no knowledge of cosmology, evolution or human psychology and perception.

Sun, 07 Dec 2008 11:50:00 UTC | #284310

Go to: President Obama: Bad News For the New Atheists and Other Fundamentalists

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by Zaphod

"...the Religious Right and the so-called New Atheists."

So called by tools like you in the media.

Mon, 10 Nov 2008 00:12:00 UTC | #267469

Go to: Hitchens Debates Rabbi Wolpe on God

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 93 by Zaphod

All of Wolpe's arguments are weak. Sometimes I would like to refine Hitchens' arguments when he talks about scientific concepts. Of the two I think Hitchens is a better speaker/debater.

Scientific research hasn't shown that there is a religious gene. Nonsense.

Free will is an illusion. Wolpe asks a dumb question "Where do you get your free will from?"

Seriously? Free will is two words made up of human language. It is something humans define. You may as well ask "Where did you get happiness from?" it is nonsensical. The brain creates the perception of "free will" but experiments have shown that the motor cortex fires before you are even aware of making the choice to move your arm. The only choice you seem to have is veto power.

Sun, 09 Nov 2008 23:31:00 UTC | #267463

Go to: Quentin Letts ranks Dawkins 30th on list of 'people who have wrecked Britain'

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 98 by Zaphod

Reading the title of this article I already know it is far too silly to waste my time.

Letts is a buffoon.

Sat, 08 Nov 2008 19:48:00 UTC | #267182

Go to: Bill Heine interviews Richard Dawkins

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 161 by Zaphod

With regards to the woman who called to say her mother changed into a believer even though she is scientifically literate I think human nature is inherently irrational and comes with many cognitive foibles. Combine this with emotions and its a cauldron or crazy waiting to bubble over lol.

Silly guy trying to link Darwin to Hitler. Gott Mit Uns on Nazi belt buckles might give that moron a clue. http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/hist/jpetropoulos/church/tamerpage/buckle.jpg

Also Richard I don't think that Muslim guy tried to get Sony to recall their game. I think they did it voluntarily. Perhaps I am wrong. Does anyone know?

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 02:32:00 UTC | #258480

Go to: Dawkins: a theologian's perspective

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 212 by Zaphod

Theologians make as much sense as post modernists. Perhaps even less.

Thu, 09 Oct 2008 13:24:00 UTC | #249330

Go to: Two new fleas are discovered!

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 84 by Zaphod

Wow

TGD has produced a massive ecological niche for fleas hasn't it.

Thu, 09 Oct 2008 13:14:00 UTC | #249322

Go to: Which science book should the next US president read?

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Zaphod

Idiot's guide to living in the real world version of Mad Max?

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 20:58:00 UTC | #244913

Go to: Debate: Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 178 by Zaphod

I often find these debates annoying because I think I have better answers myself. Logical fallacies are often not pointed out.

Is this one worth watching?

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 19:30:00 UTC | #244894

Go to: Why There Almost Certainly Is a God, By Keith Ward

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 135 by Zaphod

@ Diacanu

You are right.

*double facepalm*

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 19:30:00 UTC | #244895

Go to: 'God as Science Fiction'. Richard Dawkins at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by Zaphod

I like the crane and sky hook metaphors and think the suite what Dennett is trying to show very well. I don't think Richard did a great job explaining why they are good metaphors.

Cranes are built from the ground up. Sky hooks are just dangling from the sky with no explanation of how they got there.

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 19:22:00 UTC | #244891

Go to: Which science book should the next US president read?

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by Zaphod

Honestly I'd expect the future 'leader of the supposed free world' to have read many books on science.

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 18:43:00 UTC | #244873

Go to: Sherri Shepherd, Bill Maher Spar Over God: Bill Tells Sherri She Should Go To Psych Ward

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 108 by Zaphod

Ah the blonde woman is Elisabeth Hasselbeck. A bit of a right wing nut but still hot and lets face it, I would probably bang a hot racist nazi serial killer. Evolutionary imperative beats standards every day of the year.

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 18:30:00 UTC | #244869

Go to: Sherri Shepherd, Bill Maher Spar Over God: Bill Tells Sherri She Should Go To Psych Ward

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 107 by Zaphod

Sherri Shepherd is not an intelligent person.

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 18:16:00 UTC | #244865

Go to: Sherri Shepherd, Bill Maher Spar Over God: Bill Tells Sherri She Should Go To Psych Ward

Zaphod's Avatar Jump to comment 106 by Zaphod

I was too busy checking out the blonde chicks legs. What were these clips about?

In all seriousness the women on the view are mental.

Bill Maher is funny sometimes but when he talks about medicine he turns into a loony tunes nut bag.

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 18:05:00 UTC | #244863