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Comments by SaganTheCat

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by SaganTheCat


quite alright, i was joking too (slightly, i still think children should learn a few folk-satanist tunes)

in fact, a long time ago i was asked to give my 4 year old nephew something to do so lent him my walkman with a copy of "peace sells..." in it. the result was a look of shock followed by him grabbing an ornimental wind-up mandolin (excuse my parents taste) and charging round the house air guitaring with it.

clearly, one's never too young

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 11:46:54 UTC | #951072

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by SaganTheCat


Megadeath is hardly suitible for teaching elementry school children music. the benefit of songs like "he's got the whole world in his hands" etc is they are catchy and easy to learn

like this

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 12:13:21 UTC | #950940

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by SaganTheCat

i agree this is a lawsuit too far. there may well be some cynical motivation behind the choise but we should all accept that a large number of tunes we all know have words that suggest there's such a thing as god.

it should be considered unfortunate. unfortunate that these might get picked, unfortunate that outside of the narrow sub-genre of black metal there is a shocking deficit in songs written to praise satan (which might offer some balance), very few praising allah (they don't like music do they?) and not nearly enough songs about science.

the fact is though, songs about jebus make unsubstansiated claims about reality which must be considered. it should be pointed out that songs are catchy and easy to remember, and therefore very healthy memes but the information they hold should not be taught as fact, which i asusme wouldn't happen in a music lesson.

Wagner wrote some crackers about a guy called Siegfried, ok to get emotionally involved with the theme but don't make any life changing decisions based on it.

equally, any song, made in the first person, making confident predictions on the future must be treated as poetic license, so regardless of the words in any song i might sing, i may actually go off you one day, i may not have considered every event in my life when deciding you were the best thing that happened, and indeed people may not live underwater in the year 3000

that said, i accept if religious songe can be sung in school, so can advertising jingles

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 13:35:45 UTC | #950880

Go to: Simply ... should I read the bible?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by SaganTheCat

meh, full of plot holes

ending makes no sense whatsoever, like they were thinking about a sequel but decided not to

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 14:00:08 UTC | #950820

Go to: Translating the British

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by SaganTheCat

          [Comment 38](/discussions/646725-translating-the-british/comments?page=2#comment_950746) by  [Anvil](/profiles/38927)          :

                 Quite liked the closing ceremony, too.Especially the *Spice Women* and *What Direction*. Fab and down with the kids!Good to see Freddie looking so well.Anvil.

true, dispite having to use zimmer frames those old spice ladies couldn't half get round the track quick

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 11:52:05 UTC | #950816

Go to: Tired of arguing

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by SaganTheCat

[link text][1][link text][1]sorry to hear about your ordeal

the thing is, there are some who like to debate (test ideas while having their own tested) and some who seek to affirm their own beliefs and see a debate as nothing more than a word-game that they can't lose because they have prior knowledge that they are "right"

my advice, don't. nothing to be gained. enlightenment comes from within, if you see someone struggling out of their religion you can help but remember the old cliche; don't wrestle with a pig, you get dirty and the pig likes it.

saw this yesterday that might help you though...!/photo.php?fbid=10151091753403936&set=a.164656313935.120396.17920648935&type=1&theater

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 13:02:20 UTC | #950745

Go to: How atheism helped me deal with cancer

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by SaganTheCat

Thank you for writing this

it's important to point out that many humans, most likey younger ones too, find no comfort in a vague promise but can regain self-control with a bit of understanding of what's going on.

furthermore, you can thank human scientific endevour that you're better. the beauty of science is it improves the further forward you go. miracles seem to only improve the further back you go

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 12:45:50 UTC | #950744

Go to: Religious Olympics

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by SaganTheCat


Fri, 03 Aug 2012 15:24:36 UTC | #950386

Go to: Para-naturalistic theories cannot lead to practical engineering

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by SaganTheCat

@Ignorant Amos

by "real" i mean they were real things but assumed to be something we would now call supernatural.

ancient tribes around the world were visited by white demons from the sea (europeans), early settlers in modern britain really did see "little people" and evil spirits were assumed to be the cause of disease and as i mentioned, flatulence (easily exorcised). when germ theory was accepted, spirits were off the hook for human ailments but people continued to believe in them as something a bit less tangable

for science i meant "the scientific method" that has been developed in the last couple of hundred years.

I hope that will explain better

it's possible we can thank superstition for modern science. once curious individuals realised a mechanism can be found behind all phenomena they had to contend with the 'accepted' facts that certain things are caused by spirits or witches or god on his off days. one of the most notable results of science is that it's pushed superstition into the gaps. maybe religious or superstitious certainty has helped create the environment for science to flourish?

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 13:41:47 UTC | #950358

Go to: Para-naturalistic theories cannot lead to practical engineering

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by SaganTheCat

None of the other animals on earth have superstition or belief in magic

depends on definition. look up skinner box experiments with pigeons with regards to superstition and also how elephants apparently revere relics of their dead.

superstition is usually spread through memes such as walking under ladders or black cats crossing your path etc that people take to be true. this is very human as it relies on language but other human forms of superstition are not spread (e.g. lucky underpants). they are generated within the mind of someone who's made a personal assosiation (e.g. pants worn during consecutive wins of a favorite team become "lucky")

there's nothing to say animals don't have superstition, ringing bells don't mean food is being served unless you're one of Pavlov's dogs. most animals can make a connection through association. dogs can be trained by humans because they believe they will be rewarded, similarly humans can be trained by cats.

the thing about magic is that before science (very recent thing) magic was real. spirits were real (vapour, gasses even flatulence), demons were real (any animal/human threat that had no definition).

we've destroyed these old beliefs with reason but we havent't destroyed their causes, just identified them more accurately. the term "supernatural" is a lazy faux-intellectual tool to make a safe place for all the demons and spirits we've explained away though observation. it is self-defeating as a philosphy but continues to exist because it's used by the same people who look for quick answers so wouldn't spot the falacy.

I believe all animals have a capacity for superstitious or magical thinking, it's just humans that came up with a way of spotting what's real and what isn't (logic), then other humans came up with the idea of arguing against logic

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 10:30:27 UTC | #950351

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by SaganTheCat

i recently remembered something that must have seriously effected me.

when i was a child, my brother once threw a model plane out our bedroom window while i was outside. might seem like an unimportant detail but it shows how the tiniest thing can blow up into religious terror.

later that night our mother questioned us both on why a toy plane was lying in the front garden. we both denied responsibility, maybe a modern liberal parent would have left it at that, or said however it happened dont do it again or even, your own fault if your toys get lost or broken but our catholic mother would not accept this response.

bear in mind i "knew" i was right, i clearly remember looking up at him as he threw it but this was too big a situation for a mere parent to handle so jesus got involved. we were both made to swear on the bible, dispite the fact she allegedly knew one of us had to be lying but was still happy to put two small boys to trial by god rather than talk to us (as i write this i remember it really was a tiny little aeroplane, didn't mess up the garden that much and the garden was in no great condition anyway).

as a child i had somehow got it into my head that if you tell a lie with your hand on a bible, you go to hell before you reach 21 so for me it was going to be a sad outcome one way or another. as the years went on i was always troubled by this event and wondered why my brother had lied, then wondered if i had lied, then began to wonder if i'd remembered the whole event correctly. maybe i wanted a go so picked it up took it indoors and launched it out the window, in fact i even remembered doing it with me at the window and my brother in the front garden watching. i may have made that memory up or it might have been the truth, either way i became aware it was me that had lied, it was me going to hell and i was going to die before i hit 21.

i lost my faith in my teenage years but right up to my 21st birthday i had nightmares where i was reminded that the devil knew of my "sin" and the clock was ticking. sometimes it was in the form of a vivid dream where i would be in my bedroom but suddenly a lamp would switch on by itself and i'd remember (in the dream) being told that was the sign

so my advice to any catholic children is: clear up your toys.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 11:38:09 UTC | #950335

Go to: Atheist wins "The American Bible Challenge"

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by SaganTheCat

          [Comment 5](/discussions/646600-atheist-wins-the-american-bible-challenge/comments?page=1#comment_950192) by  [QuestioningKat](/profiles/174158)          :

                 lol, that is a perfect title. You had me cheering until I read the post.  As a former Catholic my knowledge of the Bible is lacking.  Yes, Matt would be good at this. Hey Matt if you are reading this, are you up to the challenge.Personally, I think an unknown atheist would be best. They wouldn't see it coming.

you could respond to each question with "sorry, could you read that again in latin?"

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 13:07:53 UTC | #950307

Go to: Para-naturalistic theories cannot lead to practical engineering

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by SaganTheCat

well i for one always pray through a megaphone and my prayers get ignored in half the time now

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 12:58:59 UTC | #950306

Go to: Why Jehovah's Witnesses won't mourn the Aurora victims

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by SaganTheCat

i'm sure it's not just JWs

as i understand all religious responses to world events, they go a bit like this:

if a member of the congreagation was killed, god has taken them to heaven (praise god) if a member of the congreagtion was hurt but not killed, god showed mercy (praise god) if a member of the congregation was present but unharmed, god was protecting them (praise god) if no member of the congregation was present, it is a reminder that such evils do not befal our religion (praise god) if the event was somehow avoided, god intervened (praise god)

so if anyone tells you god moves in mysterious ways you can respond that he doesn't. his ways are simple to explain as long as it's done retrospectively

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 12:50:27 UTC | #950305

Go to: Religious Olympics

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by SaganTheCat

well among the martial arts you'd have to have some gay bashing. to be honest though, there's no way religion is compatible with sport as sport implies the same rules apply to both sides.

besides they'd ruin the para olympics by claiming the contestants have to be disqualified on account of them all being 'healed' by one of the american evangelist squad.

thinking about it, i'd watch the snake handling match

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 17:48:10 UTC | #949906

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by SaganTheCat

long before i started to question catholicism i had a fear of going to hell, used to have nightmares that were really strange, nothing inherently scary other than the knowledge that the devil had my soul. years of horror movies and heavy metal records cured me though. soon realised hell's the cool place.

the thing is, when you think of hell as the place the worst sort of people go, you'd imagine a place where tyrants and the worst sort of criminals go to be tortured even though you know you're not like them. your crime is to question what you've been told. if god sends people like that to hell would you really want to end up in heaven?

it was people who told you about hell, the same people who were wrong about everything else and the same people who need you to not question your and by extension, their faith. these are the people who believe an eternity of bliss awaits the most hateful people who say the right things just before they die. if christianity is true heaven is a seething mass of murderers, child abusers, wife beaters, racists and everyone else who takes it upon themselves to judge other people against their own shortcomings. these people spend eternity singing, not rapping mind you but singing, like you had to learn in school, songs about how brilliant the leader of this realm is. for ever.

hell is full of questioners, the devil doesn't threaten, he tempts. you're on this earth for a short time and those who teach about heaven and hell tell you not to listen to temptation because you are not strong enough to decide for yourself if such temptation will lead to bad things or not so you spend your time on earth avoiding living your own life for the sake joining those pious people who tried to run your short life on earth. in hell, if you believe what they say, you'll spend time with those who rejected living the way their grandparents did, you'll find people cursed for failing to say what the were told to say, and along with every other curious type, lots of cat's (i'm guessing). in short it will be full of humans that god created, gave freewill to then had a tantrum because they used it

you already question your beliefs, when thoughts of hell bother you, think what it means. reasoned thought has got you where you are now, and it'll destroy any fear of some unknown horror that someone devised to make sure you behaved as they wanted

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 17:35:19 UTC | #949904

Go to: Anti-Dawkins legislation

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by SaganTheCat

what's the betting a meme pool arises from winglnuts who take this as true? i await the first case of a parent complaining that their child came home from science class where the teacher mentioned richard's work. i do hope it leads to a public demonstration with 5-71-226 placards being waved about.

i'm happy to bet on this, having seen some of the content on conservapedia that must have started life as a joke about red-necks

maybe there should be some sort of competition to see who can inject the most absurd memes into the world and see which ones spread through the population? no wait...

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 09:57:48 UTC | #949815

Go to: Why do we find mountains beautiful?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by SaganTheCat

I think one barrier to finding any evolutionary benefit for anything we find pleasurable, be it beauty or humour or whatever, is that the pleasure we feel is likely to be a by-product rather than a driving force. evolution, as we know, cares nothing for our pleasure, and fitness in an evolutionary sense does not assume happiness.

it may be the other way round however. just as what starts off as a resistance to something detremental to survival in an environment becomes a dependancy down the generations.

a very unlikely response to the mountains, for example (unlikely in that it's simplistic) is that a genetic tendancy to a specific form of pattern recognition (huge pointy things that seem to remain static in the background) or a particular neural response such patterns, could give one group of early humans a minor advantage in navigation. a neural reward response triggered by that pattern increases the chance of that gene's survival. the gene vehicle in the meantime simply registers pleasure.

humour is one of those things that on the face of it seems a bad idea for survival as finding another human's actions funny can leave us at a physical disadvantage. however laughter is contageous and I have a pet belief that social evolution has selected traits that put individuals at a disadvantage because they create signals that bypass our learned behavior of intentional communication (e.g. I can tell you I find you unattractive to protect myself from rejection but I'll still blush if i'm lying). Laughter is part of a non-verbal communication system that predates words

we laugh when we discover something new. maybe this is a signalling response so others in the group gather to find out what it is so knowledge is shared quickly? jokes are stories constructed to simulate this, we laugh at our own ignorance and preconceptions created in the build up that are superceded by the punchline. children and babies laugh more than adults because they're learning all the time (and experiencing the pleasure of learning). maybe laughter is contageous because it makes us child-like and appeals to parental instinct?

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:09:05 UTC | #949565

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by SaganTheCat

"Convince me that the belief that nothing outside the natural world exists is actually a scientific theory and not mere philosophy."

that's a bit off topic. we are able to experience some of nature with our senses. we experience more of nature with instruments that are sensetive beyond our evolved senses. sometimes these instruments or our senses surprise us and seem contrary to what we accept is natural. science is the investigation of such.

we teach science based on that. if anything non-natural is going on, by virtue of hte fact it's going on, it's natural.

if god exists, it's natural

if god doesn't exits, it's natural

the only time you ever need mention the supernatural in a science class is to answer questions on what poeple believed before science explained a phenomena.

the problem with regards to the thread is the fact that there will be children in class who's parents share beliefs with the unenlightened folk of antiquity who did not have the benefit of 21st century science teachers for guidence.

as for the nebulous nature of what you believe science can't tell us, it's the job of the science teacher to decide if a question is something best left until a student is at a more advanced level or to set them the challenge of thinking how a question that seems unanswerable should be reframed in a way that can be addressed using evidence alone.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 12:12:43 UTC | #949407

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by SaganTheCat

"Teach your students how effective science is when exploring how the universe works but realize the severe limitations science when trying to understand why the universe works"

sorry nordic, my 2penneth...

I eould like this cliche to be removed from all future arguments and put on the falacy list.

"Science can answer HOW but not WHY..." [everyone stroke chin thoughtfully and say "aaaahhh"]

how are the two different? or to put it another way, why is there a difference?

science will explain how a cake rises in the oven. it will also explain why a cake rises in the oven. it will be the same explaination.

(although i will concede science won't answer the question of why a cake decided one day it was going to rise in the oven)

Mon, 16 Jul 2012 16:28:04 UTC | #949323

Go to: Why do we find mountains beautiful?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by SaganTheCat

@sheepcat i'll have a look back at the Finlasyon book to get a refenence on this experiment but from memory it showed that preference for views of open landscapes seem to be innate rather than learned. I think it may have involved todlers who would not have ever seen views outside their own town


He probably doesn't have a sense of humour but he seems to enjoy doing things that make me laugh when i;'m watching. i am guilty of anthropomorphism

Tue, 10 Jul 2012 14:45:59 UTC | #948846

Go to: Why do we find mountains beautiful?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by SaganTheCat

I think finding beauty in nature and having a sense of humour are both linked to our natural drive to learn which in itself has given us an evolutionary advantage

laughing is a reaction to discovery (what comedians call "pull back and reveal") as for beauty in mountains I suspect that has more to do with a larger love of big views.

in The Humans That Went Extinct by Clive Finlayson, the author talks about the changes in environments that led to the swift divergence of homo sub-species. most notibly the early change in our development as woodlands gave way to grasslands leading to our ancestors walking upright. He mentions an experiment involving children from a young age but varying ethnic backgrounds being shown pictures of different landscapes and something that humans almost all agree on is a love of wide open land.

mountains help give a sense of perspective and when viewed from a distance act as a fixed point of reference (like the stars) so another evolutionary advantage I can see from being drawn to views of mountains is that it might help you find your way home.

Humour is a funny thing...

I notice that I can watch a comedian on my own and think they're hilarious while not actually laughing but if i see them with friends at a club I'm unable to stop myself so that suggests something social is going on, shared laughter is a sign of cohesion. If you haven't read Daniel Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" type this into google:

"Daniel Dennett: There is a species of primate in south america" (took me to the google book)

that said, my cat Sagan has a sense of humour so I don't think it's purely human (unless it's purely human to think cats have asense of humour of course)

Tue, 10 Jul 2012 13:07:47 UTC | #948837

Go to: Why is evolution more accepted in Mexico than in the USA?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by SaganTheCat

I think most christian countries did away with young earth beliefs many years ago.

even before Darwin, the idea of evolution was pretty much accepted even by the church. Darwin's work was not at first accepted because it took out the need for any mysticism

The US is a more protestant country on the whole. maybe the vatican had a point prior to the protestant movement about not letting ordinary people read the bible. they may well have realised it was so far from any sort of realitry there was a real danger that people were credulous enough to take it litterally. a few hundred years later and here we are with a rich, powerful country populated with so many idiots.

most people in the US have access to good education but I wonder if living in such a rich country, the benefits are taken for granted? when education is on tap do parents decide they know better and can home-school or just pick and choose which lessons their kids attend on the assumption it makes no difference in the long run?

take a poorer nation and education is considered importat and vital if you want to change your social standing, in the US it's not the poorest who subscribe to this type of religion, it's middle class right-wing types who not only don't need social mobility but would rather there was none. a young earth philosophy means not having to consider the warnings of science, bury ones head in the sand and use political muscle to avoid having to change their views to accomodate others.

in short, poorer nations want change, rich ones don't

Fri, 06 Jul 2012 15:17:05 UTC | #948687

Go to: We Are Viral From the Beginning

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by SaganTheCat


Fri, 15 Jun 2012 15:22:22 UTC | #947581

Go to: Cleric says polio vaccination 'un-islamic', warns of jihad against docs

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by SaganTheCat

would be a shocking story if it weren't for the fact that as much reasoning has gone into this ant-vax campaign as any other (e.g. MMR)

you only have to hint at a conspiracy and a huge segment of the planet's most intelligent species will fall in line like obediant cattle

maybe a counter-measure would be to suggest the drops protect against the effects of the mind controlling chemtrails. he who calls conspiracy first, wins the argument

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 12:25:38 UTC | #947393

Go to: Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by SaganTheCat

In a world where even specialist need to have some transferable skills, in case the area of specialization suddenly becomes obsolete, the theologian seems to be one of the least prepared for life outside his or her expertize (I use this word very loosely).

They do have some transferable skills. public speaking for one and an ability to councel in the cases of the better ones. these are exactly the skills religious groups are most scared of loosing as what was used for "good" (obedience) can suddenly work even more efficiently for "evil" (freedom).

Many people are consolded by religion thanks to the skills of their preacher. maybe there's no guaranteed career out there for them but that doesn't mean society has no use for them.

As Bill Hicks's mother once said to him "you should have been a preacher" to which he replied "I am"

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 12:00:55 UTC | #947385

Go to: A Religious Military? Spiritual Fitness Test or Rationality Fitness Test?

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by SaganTheCat

only in america do you have to convince someone you answer to the voice in your head before they'll let you loose with a firearm

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 11:15:40 UTC | #947180

Go to: School Challenge

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by SaganTheCat

The head of R.E. (strangely a self confessed atheist)

this is a sign he's done his research or he's picked a soft subject to get to the position of head.

personally i am of the opinion that RE should be taught at all schools to some level as it is still a very relevant humanities subject and useful to know. most of the people on htis planet have religion, it's good to understand their beliefs, nutty as they may be.

unfortunately, it has to be said my RE classes were bad. i remember a class where we were given some "symbols" to identify, i assumed they all had a religious connection but was told i was wrong about the swastika which was a symbol of nazi germany. end of.

sadly i had already learned its religious background from my evening catechism classes. it seamed in my catholic indoctranation i learned more about other religions than i did in RE class. naturally my RE teacher would not accept my protest that the nazis didn't actually invent the swastika

so while i say i think RE is a good subject to learn, i accept any subject taught by an incompetent teacher is potentially a waste of important education time

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:27:06 UTC | #947071

Go to: Church accused of 'scaremongering'

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by SaganTheCat

I think Cartomancer's logic has turned me

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:13:06 UTC | #947069

Go to: Church accused of 'scaremongering'

SaganTheCat's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by SaganTheCat

But explain to me again how "acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity" (the only part of this list that clearly applies to heterosexual marriage more than homosexual) benefits society...

I heard this argument used the other day on TV by a woman clearly briefed to avoid any reference to the religion she was covertly representing. as wordy-nonsense arguments go this is quite a doozy

there were references to "thousands of years" of this alleged definition but rarely does one hear of other aspects of marriage that have survived millennia, such as ownership of women, nuptial rights of men that have very recently been accepted as barbaric.

the "underlying biological..." wibble was backed up by the fact that the purpose of marriage is to raise children, which is fine if you're also demanding the banning of adoption and banning marriage for infertile couples.

i do love it when the thinly veiled religious argument continuously flip-flops between its idea of tradition and its idea of science hoping the observer is far to thick or forgetful to realise they're the same lame arguments used to enforce slavery, ant-gay laws, anti-mixed marriage laws, anti-female ordination or any other symbol of their growing irrelevance they cling to

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 14:29:55 UTC | #947059