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Comments by God fearing Atheist

Go to: A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by God fearing Atheist

Given most of this was Oakes, writing about Kenny, writing about Rosenberg, I'm confused about who made the straw men.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:52:54 UTC | #950428

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by God fearing Atheist

To be fair to the "Grundian", the landing was at 6:32 BST, almost certainly after today's paper went to press. I'd wait to see what they print tomorrow before condemning them.

I note the BBC news website have now relegated the news to a subheading. It was more prominent this morning.

Unfortunately the US population does vote for the politicians who set NASA's budget. Cup cakes anyone?

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:36:28 UTC | #950426

Go to: Scapegoat for Catholic evils?

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by God fearing Atheist

"the real evil, which is the entire culture of the Catholic church"

I think that is a category error. The only active agents in any organisation are the humans that make it up. They are the only who are culpable.

The paedophile priests should by punished. Those who covered it up should be punished. "I was only following orders" is not mitigation. The only possible "cultural" influence is "I thought the boss would tell me to cover it up, so I covered it up without even bothering to tell him". I'd like to see that one used as an excuse in court. But that is actually down to individual humans, not the collective. The only way an inferior could have picked up on his boss's intentions is if the boss had stated his opinion to others in the organisation that had got back via the rumour mill.

The police should investigate and pursue the chain of "orders" through the organisation. The links are from human to human. Where they get sufficient evidence, those individuals should be prosecuted. Given standards of evidence it is likely that those at the top of the RCC who merely give subtle hints / said nothing in front of multiple living witnesses / left no physical evidence, will get away scot-free.

Only the police can say if this guy was a pawn. Did they follow the trail until it went cold, or did they stop after getting one scape-goat? Did they suspect others in the RCC of perverting the course of justice by handing over evidence against the pawn, but withholding the rest of the trail? If so, then the police have more crimes to investigate.

This is really about the skill and determination of the police investigators, vrs. the cunning of criminals in covering their tracks.

Even with brilliant police work, I suspect that standards of evidence will mean only a few percent of the criminals are ever be prosecuted, but the investigation will make the rest more careful about leaving evidence. The RCC will still be full of bad apples, and hence, I suppose "culture of child abuse" is an appropriate shorthand.

The final piece is the police investigators. Did they do a thorough job? There may be rotten apples in the justice system who also "issued orders".

So, my belief that the monsignor is a fall-guy is inversely proportional to my belief that the police did their job properly. I'll guess there is a 15% chance he is just a fall-guy, and 85% chance this is where the evidence Petered out.

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 12:49:07 UTC | #950046

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 22 by Quine :

... but did not get there in time.

Bloody pZombies, just can't be relied on! ;-)

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 00:30:13 UTC | #949944

Go to: Religious Olympics

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by God fearing Atheist

It's got to be Mud Wrestling.

How many times has Shaw been quoted on this site - "Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it"

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:27:50 UTC | #949917

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 248 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 244 by Steve Zara :

It might save you time to find out that Quine and I have been through this particular argument many, many, many times, and nothing has been produced.

51,231st time lucky?

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 14:06:22 UTC | #949834

Go to: Why smart people are stupid

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 47 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 46 by holysmokes

But wouldn't the torque on the short side cause it to slip on oil, mud, ice, snow or any slidey surface. The short track would be going faster at the same RPM....or am I getting myself confused here?

holysmokes is correct when the tracks don't slip, you are right when the tracks slip and the long track slips less. But a fixed differential probably won't help, because the slipping will be constantly changing with the ground. The driver would have to have considerable skill to keep it straight. Only an insane engineer would design such a vehicle.

Fri, 15 Jun 2012 22:51:14 UTC | #947630

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by God fearing Atheist

According to the Church, the underlying substances of bread and wine are replaced by the body and blood of Christ while the external appearances of bread and wine remain.

According to the old lady down the road, when she sticks a pin in the doll made from the hair and nail clippings of her old enemy George, George feels pain.

When you put ointment on the sword that caused the wound, the wound heals.

These, and similar tricks, are called "sympathetic magic" (I think).

Isn't such old mumbo-jumbo jolly quaint?

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:43:59 UTC | #947298

Go to: Genetically-modified mosquito designed to avoid malaria spread

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by God fearing Atheist

The article says the engineered gene makes the mosquito more resistant to the Malaria parasite. I hope that gives the GM allele a natural selection advantage over the natural variant. Then the GM variant will spread through the mosquito population once a few thousand mutants have been released. If there is no selection advantage then I assume billions of GM mosquitoes will have to be released to swamp the native populations.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 14:16:25 UTC | #947204

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by God fearing Atheist


Will Richard or RDFRS get involved in writing evolution textbooks for primary schools?

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 22:00:58 UTC | #946941

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 200 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 190 by Marcus Small :

I used the polo/doughnut because the substance of the doughnut/polo is a metaphor for that which is manifest in the religious life in terms of community and practice and the believer’s experience of them. No one can deny their reality.

Hello Marcus. Long time no see ...

No one is denying the doughnut. I assume few will argue with "community, pageant, and music". They are all good things. The difference is some of us can't see anything in the hole, and repeated questions to those who claim to see something (or like you state "its a mystery") get convoluted bull as answers.

The problem is that certain politically motivated individuals make an assumption there is something in the hole, that the "doughnut dancers" agree, support them, and inflict their political agenda on the rest of us.

If the Catholic church stuck to "doughnut dancing", then even RD would probably leave them along. But they don't. They spread disinformation and AIDS across Africa, etc, etc.

Richard has pointed out that not all RCC "doughnut dancers" see the same thing in the hole. That may cause schismatic ripples to weaken the political clout of the church. You can just imagine next time Mrs Smith goes to mass. She will be thinking "that was a lovely hymn, but some of these people actually believe the wafer magically turns into Jesus. WTF".

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:15:20 UTC | #946876

Go to: Major Threat to Religion? Clergy People Coming Out as Atheists

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by God fearing Atheist

It may be the biggest threat to religion, but it has a long way to go.

USA population is about 300 million. Assuming one cleric per 10,000, then there are 30,000 clergy in the USA. So far about 270 are in the clergy project, which is slightly under 1%.

Assuming clergy have a 40 year career, then 2.5% are retiring each year, and replaced with 2.5%. If the Clergy project causes an extra 1% "retirement" rate, then the churches will have to recruit 3.5% per year, or 40% up.

The Clergy Project is international, and so the 270 members are spread over a bigger population. Current clergy "retirement" may already include clergy who have lost faith and made the journey out alone.

When the Clergy Project reports 5,000 members, with 2,000 leaving their jobs per year, I will open a bottle of champaign. Until then I consider it a worthwhile endeavour by, and for, those in a career trap, but not a silver bullet in the secular fight against religious influence.

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:51:08 UTC | #946870

Go to: Louisiana lunacy: tens of millions to be spent on faith-based education

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 1 by Mr DArcy :

The Chinese must be laughing.


Sat, 09 Jun 2012 23:35:49 UTC | #946669

Go to: Watch Sneak Preview of FFRF TV commercial starring Julia Sweeney

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by God fearing Atheist

I hope FFRF have a bottomless pit of money if they are going to tackle the xtian right head on. Isn't there a cleverer/cheaper/sneakier way of doing opposing them?

If they are going to fight on the other guys' turf they need Brad Pit to do the next advert.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 17:48:27 UTC | #946589

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by God fearing Atheist

Amazing that when Richard lobs one of his logic grenades right into the middle of the Irish Catholics so many Atheists get hit by shrapnel.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 21:58:34 UTC | #946436

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by God fearing Atheist

In the comments under the IT article is this:-

John Robinson

One problem with this question being viewed as a shibboleth is that most people misunderstand what the doctrine means. It is based on Aristotelian categories which distinguish the substance of something (its essence independent of all physical properties) from its accidents (all its physical properties). Transubstantiation means that the substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance (spiritual presence is probably the best way to put this in contemporary terms) of Christ but the accidents remain the same i.e the physical properties of bread and wine remain the same and the physical properties of the body and blood of Christ are not involved, but Christ's essence i.e spiritual presence is.

I was wondering how the Aristotelian hypothesis fitted into the atomic theory of matter? Perhaps the great Aristotle was talking complete bollocks on this subject, and the RCC are maintaining his hypothesis well past its sell-by date?

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 14:52:50 UTC | #946336

Go to: Spanish artist faces prison over 'how to cook Christ' film

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 31 by permafrost :

Breaking news: Mr. Krahe and the other co-defendants have just been acquited.

Good. Let's have a cracker and glass of wine to celebrate.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 11:04:26 UTC | #946305

Go to: Sarah Outen in a typhoon

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by God fearing Atheist

That nearly fooled me - Indian ocean to Japan in 3 years? - circumnavigation of globe? Oh, different trip! She has just cycled across Eurasia from UK to Japan and is now heading East across the Pacific, or rather, is now back in Japan.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 11:01:52 UTC | #946304

Go to: Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by God fearing Atheist

Hans Rosling has an interesting TED talk on population growth. He reckons it will hit 10 billion as the world population ages and then reach steady state (births==deaths).

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 00:08:25 UTC | #946003

Go to: Tree of Life Project Aims for Every Twig and Leaf

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 4 by God fearing Atheist :

Oops, that algorithm produces duplicate trees! The Catalan numbers don't go up as fast.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 22:49:38 UTC | #945592

Go to: Tree of Life Project Aims for Every Twig and Leaf

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by God fearing Atheist

Google:- link

Binary tree with n+1 leaves = n-th Catalan number = (2n!) /(n+1)!n!

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 22:32:08 UTC | #945590

Go to: Tree of Life Project Aims for Every Twig and Leaf

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 1 by Jos Gibbons :

Does anyone know an approximate formula for the number of possible trees for N species with N large?

My first stab is an algorithm (assuming a binary tree):-

1) Start with one species (LUCA), and N-1 unassigned species.

2) Assign a species as a branch of each existing branch, and decrement the unassigned species.

In this case, there is one branch which forks in two, and there are N-2 unassigned species.

3) In general goto 2. If there are 2 assigned species, there are two branches from which the third species can branch, making 2 trees of 3 species, and N-3 left to assign.

Each tree of 3 species can have a branch at 3 places, giving 6 trees of 4 species in total.

Each tree of 4 species can have a branch at 4 places, giving 24 trees of 5 species in total.

" " " 5 " " " " " " 5 " " 120 trees " 6 " " "

Thf. N species = 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * ... * N = N!

This is probably taught in Computer Science 101, so I'm about to Google it ...

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 22:18:51 UTC | #945588

Go to: How Humans Became Moral Beings

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by God fearing Atheist

What evidence is there for the kinship of human groups/bands/tribes 15,000 years ago? At a guess, I'll go for groups of about 128 people where everyone is at least a 6th cousin, 32 times over.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 17:38:50 UTC | #945517

Go to: Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by God fearing Atheist

I would have thought C14 dating was already calibrated against dendrochronology.

If not, I'll give it another 6 months (after the publication of this paper) before it is.

How do they know the AD 775 blip is 20 times the normal variation if they haven't been calibrating?

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 17:08:25 UTC | #945508

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 148 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 143 by ccw95005 :

Guys, I think we've beat my little theory to death.

It wasn't a theory, it was a hypothesis. When challenged by Jos to produce the maths, and me to produce a simulation, you wimped out.

For me, it's straightforward, almost trivial to grasp. I believe my logic is easy to understand, if you're a logical person with an open mind.

"The easiest person to fool is yourself"

I know that on a Richard Dawkins site (and I'm an admirer of him, myself) it's going to be difficult to find people willing to consider that group selection can work.

Terrible isn't it. Your pet hypothesis, which you can't be bothered to actually put any real work into developing, but will waffle about endlessly, has been pooh-poohed by a group of Dawkins sycophants.

I have read that group selection is becoming more widely accepted among the experts, although admittedly I don't know what their versions of group selection are exactly.

What? You have little idea what these people are talking about, but you know enough to think they are right (and Dawkins is wrong).

So I'll leave it at that.

That would probably be best.

Thu, 31 May 2012 22:42:43 UTC | #944863

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 139 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 135 by ccw95005 :

God fearing atheist, you criticize me because I didn't specify everything? Good Lord. It was complicated enough and time consuming to present my extremely simplified scenario.

Criticism it might have been, but it was intended as positive criticism. You have spent considerable time already posting here, but all I can see are broad strokes. I was attempting to encourage you to use your programming skills and write a simulation. As any programmer should know, you know you have really understood something when you can write it in (working) code. The arguments will then change from the vagaries of English descriptions, and assumptions of their consequences, to clear, concise descriptions, and scientific results.

Getting stuck into simulation and/or maths seems to be the obvious next step, but maybe I've spend too many years in the lab.

Thu, 31 May 2012 20:16:15 UTC | #944830

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 132 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 130 by ccw95005 :

Good. You have started to define a model of group selection from which a computer simulation could be written to demonstrate the phenomenon, or a mathematical model could be created to prove it.

But you haven't specified everything:-

1) How does each allele in each individual change the probability of survival of each member of the group? For instance, you could state that each group consists of 15 female-male pairs. They each have 4 children, 2 male, 2 female. The survival of each child is 50%, plus 1/2*1/280 for each "cooperative" allele in the 28 adults, at 10 loci, of the group members who are not its parents. I.e. if the whole group is hyper-cooperative the probability of survival of each child is 75%.

Secondly, and more importantly, how do you model the difference between selection of groups, and selection of kin? If the children stayed in the same group and randomly mated with other members of the group, co-operative alleles would soon meet copies of themselves in kin. In a model, one could pool the children from all groups, and then randomly assign them to new groups every generation. As far as I know that is the similar to the "haystack" model, but the wiki description implies that the random mixing only happens every n generations where n is not 1. You could vary the mixing so that each child had an enhanced probability of staying in its own group, or that females stayed, and males randomly found another group, etc.

Write the code, and see what happens!

Thu, 31 May 2012 17:20:38 UTC | #944782

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 122 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 121 by ccw95005 :

(I'm a programmer myself, by the way,

Good. Then you can write down the algorithm for the simplest possible simulation of group selection.

Wed, 30 May 2012 23:53:51 UTC | #944670

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 120 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 119 by ccw95005 :

Comment by Jos Gibbons

Group selection isn't a plausible mechanism; it literally can't work. Seriously. Just try writing down equations that allow it; you can't do it.

Equations? I don't believe that Darwin used equations. His theory was a matter of common sense, once someone came up with it. Group selection, as I explained it, is also is a matter of common sense. Your attempt to demand equations before you will accept something as true smacks of obfuscation, in my opinion.

It isn't obfuscation, its science.

If you can't write down the equations, at least write down a series of very simple steps - the algorithm - that will show group selection. Any half competent computer programmer should be able to produce a genetic algorithm to demonstrate evolution by natural selection in hours. It shouldn't be difficult to produce one to demonstrate group selection - if one knows the very basic steps.

Wed, 30 May 2012 23:34:44 UTC | #944663

Go to: Moody Bible Radio Discovers 'The Clergy Project' - interview with Teresa MacBain

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by God fearing Atheist

Thanks Moody Radio for advertising The Clergy Project.

Wed, 30 May 2012 12:27:42 UTC | #944474