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Comments by bitbutter

Go to: The Godless Delusion

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by bitbutter

Just re-posting logicel's ask the atheists link that didn't work out earlier:

This page lists answers that handily address Kreeft's arguments.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 11:48:27 UTC | #490224

Go to: Armed forces bishop says sorry for praising Taliban

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by bitbutter

Richard Dawkins has said

As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers.

Dr Stephen Venner seems to understand this. His critics seem not to. On what grounds are they deciding which varieties of faith are deserving of respect?

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 19:33:00 UTC | #423401

Go to: Climate Change editorial

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 303 by bitbutter

I agree with Steve Zara's comment that it's not the experts we should be placing our trust in, but the scientific method. At the moment I have doubts about whether the case for AGW is the r
result of proper application of this method.

@scot rafkin:

The details are available in peer reviewed literature. I'm fairly certain (but not positive) that you can download the raw data and process the data following the peer-reviewed procedure, or any other way you'd like.

Would it be possible, do you think, to find out from peer reviewed papers why the particular processing decisions shown in the link below were made?

(Maybe I will find out otherwise but its not clear to me at the moment that there's adequate accountability built into to the way this data is processed).

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 09:45:00 UTC | #422765

Go to: Climate Change editorial

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 281 by bitbutter

Much of the case for catastrophic AGW seems to depend on temperature readings that have been processed, ostensibly to remove inhomogeneities. Are the details of this processing available, per station, for scrutiny?

I understand that computer climate models are also used heavily in making the case for strong AGW. Does anyone know whether the source code for these models is available for scrutiny?

My current skepticism about AGW relates to questions about exactly how open the workings and data used by those advancing the AGW scenarios are.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 18:50:00 UTC | #422326

Go to: Hey, preacher – leave those kids alone

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by bitbutter


Is "Anarchist Child" a real issue in the UK?

I don't follow the question.

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 19:23:00 UTC | #414564

Go to: I'm an atheist, OK?

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by bitbutter

#378294 by Glacian

Lucas, I think your distinction between "thinking" and "believing" is confusing and unnecessary.


#378299 by Lucas
To believe something is to have faith in it, regardless of or in spite of facts.

Have you just make that up? Dictionaries include no shortage of much less restrictive definitions of 'believe', reflecting how people actually use the word.

Mon, 18 May 2009 10:36:00 UTC | #361366

Go to: The perfect riposte to childhood indoctrination

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by bitbutter

As a matter of simple fact, any 11 year old who doesn't have a positive belief in god(s), for whatever reason, is an atheist (though perhaps an implicit one). And any 11 year old who does believe in a god(s), for whatever reason, is a theist.

In the context of this article, I don't see how this is problematic.

Mon, 20 Apr 2009 07:36:00 UTC | #350395

Go to: Preacher says atheist ad campaign backfired

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 56 by bitbutter

"We should almost thank the people who promoted that advertising campaign."

'Almost'? If it has really backfired why the 'almost'?

When we see Raniero Cantalamessa pushing for more atheist ads we can believe that he's convinced that the campaign has backfired. Until then this sounds like sour grapes.

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 22:55:00 UTC | #346566

Go to: YouTube has banned the James Randi Educational Foundation!?!?

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by bitbutter

Although YouTube is well known for suspending accounts first and figuring out that there was no legitimate reason for suspending the account later, I agree with MikeStorm: let's hear the reason before the outpouring of outrage begins.

The JREF are looking into it themselves also. It's probably prudent to wait for more information from them at least.

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 13:44:00 UTC | #341655

Go to: Following atheist trend, Britons seek 'de-baptism'

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by bitbutter

@henry ford:

"My original thought was that this was a waste of time - I don't need a piece of paper to feel confident in who I am nor what I believe.

However, every day that presure is being applied to organised religion, whether it be through bus adverts, blasphemy challenges or deconversions, is another day that secularists and humanists are declearing very loudly and with pride that we exist and will not be ridden over again."

Exactly! that's why this initiatives like this, and the blasphemy challenge on youtube, are important. This is a protest, and a signal.

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 11:32:00 UTC | #341593

Go to: New wave for Islamic science

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by bitbutter

"here's one single lesson from the past we can all learn, it is this: new knowledge needs a willingness to question received ideas - not to be disrespectful, but to ask questions, to think and to debate. "

This sentence looks very cowardly. What has respect got to do with it? and why should anyone anyone be respectful to ideas that are wrong?

Tue, 17 Feb 2009 23:19:00 UTC | #326541

Go to: Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 275 by bitbutter

"So, essentially, it wasn't "religion" which caused the result, it was "false religion" which did."

While i agree with your conclusion about the slogan i think you're barking up the wrong tree here. How on earth do you begin to differentiate between 'true' and 'false' religion? Is it not obvious that it's all false?

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 10:35:00 UTC | #317284

Go to: Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 207 by bitbutter

I think it's clever, but weak. It makes a bad slogan because potential replies come so easily, and are no less true. This because it disingenuously compares the best fruit of science, with the worst of religion. Just as bad as:

a-la Stein: "Science leads to killing people, Religion leads to inner peace and meaning"

I think we can do better/smarter.

voss21: "If it's all God's plan, why do you pray?", that's the kind of thing. Thought provoking, attention grabbing, non-aggressive, but no easy answer.

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 23:15:00 UTC | #316651

Go to: Let's talk sense about our origins

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by bitbutter


Chapter 3 of The God Delusion lists, and criticizes, all the arguments for the existence of gods that -- as far as I am aware -- theologians have ever advanced. These are Thomas Aquinas's five 'Proofs', the Ontological Argument, the Argument from Beauty, the Argument from Personal Experience, the Argument from Admired Believers, Pascal's Wager, and Bayesian Arguments. If anybody learned in theology knows of any arguments that I have left out, please let's hear them.

Hi Richard, I'd like to see mention of the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God (TAG). Its an awful argument, but one that seems to be gaining in popularity among online evangelists. Its also one that can be quite baffling when one first comes across it, so I think it's worth examining. It looks as though Kant formulated the first version of TAG.

@rod-the-farmer: It's a good point. I try to use 'Evolution Theory' rather that 'The Theory of'. I think that conveys its solidity a little better.

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 01:04:00 UTC | #315213

Go to: Skeptic Contacted By Aliens

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by bitbutter

I'm guessing that Conway-Morris sees bipedal, big brained bodies as 'valleys' in evolutionary design space (A bunch of Dennett's 'good tricks', that work well together?).

I agree with other comments that the appearance of any space traveling alien species would be more a reflection of their technology than their biology.

I watched the 1951 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still last night. The story didn't even attempt to explain why the 'alien' (Klatoo) looked perfectly human. Infuriatingly, the script also had this wise space traveler saying something to the effect that 'only the almighty spirit has the power over life and death'.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 01:31:00 UTC | #305152

Go to: Teaching hate in UK schools

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by bitbutter

This seems a good place for a reminder about the BHA's fundraiser against faith schools, donate here:

Fri, 31 Oct 2008 06:32:00 UTC | #261735

Go to: Atheist Bus Campaign Comic

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by bitbutter

"This would be funnier if God was waiting at the bus stop on a Sunday. The caption would read "There's probably no bus..." "

Excellent, doesn't even need to be on a sunday. Wipes the floor with Private Eye's effort.

Thu, 30 Oct 2008 15:15:00 UTC | #261316

Go to: Countdown: Palin Wants To Help Special Needs Kids By Doing Away With Science

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by bitbutter


Sarah Palin's Drosophilistinism


I'm hoping that Palin's ignorance is overstepping some boundaries, that it's making it difficult even for some of those who want 'someone they can have a beer with' in power, to remain confident that she is qualified for the job.

Do we know how the opinion polls (or perhaps more importantly, the prediction markets) are being affected each time she speaks?

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:52:00 UTC | #257643

Go to: Why Evolution is True

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by bitbutter

This sounds to be perfectly targeted. I understand the reservations expressed here about the use of the word true in its name, but it makes for an attention grabbing title--and its tone clearly signals that this will be accessible for a broad audience, exactly the kind of book that's needed.

I agree that good primer books like this should be in classrooms, a huge improvement over school textbooks on the subject (at least the ones i've seen).

Fri, 17 Oct 2008 00:51:00 UTC | #251986

Go to: Dawkins: a theologian's perspective

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by bitbutter

If God answers prayer, performs miracles and the like, then we ought to be able tell that he is doing such a thing - there simply should be more obvious evidence for him. [..]

[Miracles] are instead actions that seem to obey a different set of laws, or operate in another dimension of reality that is not specifically accessible to scientific analysis or study, and which shows up in odd events in our own world.

Tomlin tells us that we should expect the evidence for miracles to be very poor. Fair enough, but so much the worse for justified God and miracle belief. A very weak answer from someone seeking to defend theism, practically an admission of defeat.

Tue, 07 Oct 2008 02:00:00 UTC | #248064

Go to: Catholic priests cane YouTube over blasphemous vids

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by bitbutter


No bones lie underneath holocaust memorials, and if they did they would just be bones. So the offending act is not an offence against real live humans but is an act of desecration, just as is the cracker-theft.


Fri, 03 Oct 2008 04:24:00 UTC | #245772

Go to: Robert Winston criticises dangerous 'science delusion'

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 74 by bitbutter

Winston must be counting on his readers not being familiar with what Dawkins actually says about science. The idea that Dawkins is saying that 'science is truth' is a strawman unworthy of youtube apologists.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 00:43:00 UTC | #234726

Go to: Why we evolved to be superstitious

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by bitbutter

Although this kind of 'playing safe' has something in common with pascals wager, this article is not describing pascals wager, which considers a very specific potential reward/cost.

This is the 'intentional stance' that Dennett describes in Breaking the Spell.

Scrappy article. Why are we told nothing about the study? (except for the conclusions drawn from it).

Fri, 12 Sep 2008 07:05:00 UTC | #233395

Go to: Do subatomic particles have free will?

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 105 by bitbutter


Random does not equal free will.
Determined does not equal free will.
Why would a mixture of the two equal free will?

This gets to the crux of the matter i think. And it seems clear to me that the answer is no.

Libertarian free will dissolves when you ask someone who believes in it what it actually is. In particular, when you ask what the basis is on which this free will makes its decision about whether to veto courses of action that flow from our desires, character and experience.

We don't, and couldn't have free will, because it's an incoherent concept.

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 01:10:00 UTC | #219930

Go to: The Trolls Among Us

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by bitbutter

That was an interesting article.

To anyone who is stumped by a particular internet abbreviation, usually has the answer.

Sat, 02 Aug 2008 05:28:00 UTC | #211787

Go to: Richard Dawkins on Al Jazeera English

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 91 by bitbutter

Good stuff.

I agree with the comments that the caller who believed that the theory of evolution could be blamed for WW2 was probably referring to 'the final solution'.

And in my view the best rejoiner is a version of PZ myer's (?) observation that Hitler's plan had nothing to do with Darwinian natural selection; instead he was using artificial selection which farmers have known about for thousands of years.

Tue, 22 Jul 2008 05:54:00 UTC | #204479

Go to: Atheism on the buses

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by bitbutter


The beauty of pledge bank is that you will only have to transfer the money once enough people have pledged too, so you can be reasonably sure it won't go to waste.

This is a discussion that needs to be had, and a sign on a london bus would help stimulate that.

Tue, 08 Jul 2008 12:24:00 UTC | #196086

Go to: Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 255 by bitbutter

My email to

It came as no surprise to learn that a Muslim (Mohammed Asif) invoked the magic word--offense, over the puppy image used in the recent campaign.

What was surprising, and very disappointing, was that the Tayside police force apologised for the image.

By capitulating to those who complaint the loudest, over something as innocuous as this advert, you have sent a clear message to the nastiest parts of Islam that they can continue to demand special treatment in the UK, safe in the knowledge that the UK authorities will spinelessly tiptoe around them for fear of causing offense, and perhaps triggering violence.

It's not difficult to see that this approach is the surest way to keep the claimed 'outrages' flowing. Your approach ensures that claiming outrage is incredibly effective. It works so well in fact, that if you want to censor media in the public domain because they don't conform to an arbitrary set of rules from your favourite ancient text, you don't even have to claim outrage yourself--a 'diversity advisor' will preemptively do it for you.

These kinds of small surrenders set precedents that cumulatively work to erode the UK's capacity to stand up to those Muslims who feel as though they are entitled to special treatment. And while this kind of policy continues, their number will grow.

If you continue to view claimed outrage as a legitimate reason to alter the way you deal with the public, then consider this note an expression of my outrage at the shortsightedness that prompted the apology over this image. I hope my outrage counts, but I fear that it might not because I'm not making a credible threat of violence, or speaking on behalf of those who are if they don't get their way.


Thu, 03 Jul 2008 04:39:00 UTC | #193277

Go to: It can be right to discriminate against the religious

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by bitbutter

You don't choose your race, sexuality, or gender, and they don't affect how well you do your job. But you do choose your religion - and there are instances in which it will make it impossible for you to do a job properly. If you are a burqua-wearing Muslim, you can't enter Miss Great Britain.

A bit sloppy. Gender can also be an important impediment to entering Miss Great Britain.

Tue, 01 Jul 2008 11:26:00 UTC | #192202

Go to: Charles Darwin was not the father of atheism

bitbutter's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by bitbutter

But I just want to suggest that Darwin wasn't the father of atheism;

No shit sherlock. Did you hear anyone saying otherwise, or is this the straw man it looks like?

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 07:16:00 UTC | #191595