Difficulties believers have with science

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Discussion by: Arvind

Hi 

I'm new to the site and would like to offer the following thought about why some people have difficulty accepting science over religion – davetiye although someone's bound to have already made this point:

I was questioning someone's beliefs recently and they quite rightly accused me of proselytising (because I was).

It made me realise that science is something that most people have not studied or at least not in any great depth. It's a subject most of us drop after school and only occasionally come into contact with again – maybe via the odd 'Horizon' documentary or a popular science book, or worse, a scare story in the Daily Mail…

To ask a "believer" to accept scientific "truth" is as much a leap of faith for them as accepting Jesus into their lives, or whichever God they happen to feel attracted to. Although we atheists might think them wrong, they have constructed a certain framework of belief and have come to understand their lives in relation to this framework. Why should they drop their comfy belief for what would essentially be a new, less familiar one?

I know Dawkins is trying to provoke discussion and argument and not trying to change everyone into a rational scientist so I'm glad that there's now a discussion about religion vs atheism, but unless a religious person studies science or already has doubts about their belief then I can't see many believers suddenly "seeing the light" and dropping their 'faith'. I suppose this is why it's so important to ensure that schools teach science and not "Intelligent design"!

Anyway, be interested to read what others think

Cheers!

A

148 COMMENTS

  1. The root cause of “belief” is childhood indoctrination – RD calls it child abuse, and I agree.  However, many see the childhood indoctrination of science and reason as equally bad.  We know it isn’t but it’s hard to disagree on logical grounds.  I’m paraphrasing RD when he has said, on many occasions, that if we could only break the cycle of childhood indoctrination for one generation, religion would be at an end.  I’m not so optimistic but it would be a start.  The current climate of UK government support for “faith” schools is going against the trend that we would like to see.  Fight these initiatives, fight the religious indoctrination of children.

  2. Religious people are usually very attached to their beliefs even if they don’t understand them nor practice them. hence any discussions on these grounds are doomed to hit the ‘ignore and reject’ wall … even if our arguments are solid. 
    If the same religious people change and are more open minded then a peaceful & elevated discussion may help.
    I don’t think we should call this proselytism or even engage in those practices, it has a weird ring in my mind.

    Any teaching to a child may be called indoctrination, but teaching to ask and inquire everything with an open mind set… in my opinion it doesn’t qualify as indoctrination, quite the opposite.

  3. Forget “proselytizing for science”.  The thing that is largely missing is LOGIC.I recently had an exchange with a devout believer who declared that Jesus is 100% man and 100% god.  I asked if I could be 100% italian and 100% irish?  Her response was. “He’s god, he can be anything.  He can do anything.”  How convenient!!!  When confronted with logic find fault with logic itself…..  I went on to ask if her god could create a rock that was so heavy he could not lift it.  This ended our discussion.

  4. you can actually read up on evolutionary psychology. there can be many different reasons to not accept a different point of view. we can actually have come to a seemingly correct conclusion with a flawed reasoning. the human brain and society has evolved to have the predisposition to belief in myths.

  5. The leap of faith is not accepting science as truth. That’s a leap of knowledge. You can read up on any part that you question, and you can be critical and expect people to answer your questions honestly and explain how things work.

    Not to mention that you can simply look around you and see complex machinery functioning perfectly, thereby proving (again) that science is in fact true.
    The real leap of faith is dropping everything you’ve believed since (generally) youth and rediscovering the world. Leaping away from your faith is hard. Once you’ve jumped, learning to accept science is easy. It’s all documented and explained in perfectly clear words. It just takes time, effort, and admitting you are wrong. The last one just happens to be REALLY hard for most people.

  6. That is an interesting issue to consider. It is true that most of us are not experts in Science and could never hope to be without years of study in a particular field. It’s also true that we can’t assume truth by consensus – “how can 1.6 billion Muslims be wrong?” etc. However it’s not impractical for most of us to have a solid grounding in logic if we choose to train ourselves to recognise contradictions. At its core, Science is the application of logic to observation and as such it’s a methodology that anyone can question and find fault with. This is its strength. The difference between religious belief and belief in science is that we can take tangible, observable phenomena and apply logic to verify or disprove conclusions. The best we can do to logically verify religious beliefs is to tie ourselves up in philosophical knots to the point were our confusion and desires grind us down into accepting fallacious arguments. Another argument for Science is that is demonstrably works, we have technology that now achieves what would be called magic many generations ago. Providing we consistently apply the Scientific method, knowledge is gained and progress is achieved. Religious belief just can’t compete with that track record.

  7. From the OP;

    To ask a “believer” to accept scientific “truth” is as much a leap of faith for them as accepting Jesus into their lives…..they have constructed a certain framework of belief and have come to understand their lives in relation to this framework. Why should they drop their comfy belief for what would essentially be a new, less familiar one?

    A simple experiment should sort them. Take a bowl of water heated to around 80degC; get believer to put a rubber glove on their left hand and to entrust the safety of their right to the deity of their choice. Now plunge their hands into the water. Left hand unharmed = science works; right hand blistered = faith fails.

  8. ” To ask a “believer” to accept scientific “truth” is as much a leap of faith for them as accepting Jesus into their lives “

    Really?

    I can access the science, evaluate the evidence which is often broken down for public consumption and become convinced by this evidence.

    Jebesus in my life? Now that is a leap of nothing but faith!

  9. crookedshoes
    ….  I went on to ask if her god could create a rock that was so heavy he could not lift it. 
    This ended our discussion.

    Ah! but conversely – a rock can create a god – a particular  orbiting rock anyway:-  even if it takes the addition of some water and sunlight &  nearly 4 billion years for the believers’ heads to evolve!
    That starts lots of discussions!  Even a few rational ones.

  10.  

    Arvind,

    Welcome to the site. The issue is not a belief in or
    understanding of science. Science can often be wrong. The issue is how you
    elect to lead your life and reach your conclusions. If your path to
    understanding is based on rationalism founded in empirical data, that’s one way,
    if your path takes you to faith and spirituality, well that’s another. Many
    people in fact attempt to bridge both and as rationalism and data begin to
    encroach on their religion, they adapt; usually by modifying their religion,
    rarely the rationalism. God can hide in the gaps, empirical evidence cannot.

    Please don’t assume that religious people do not understand
    science, in fact, many of them are science teachers and doctors and even a few
    scientist. Theists come in all sizes. I know some that will give you a run for
    your money using rationalism and ontological arguments in a “proof of god”.
    With those, argue and exchange point of view, respectfully.

    Now if what you are specifically talking about is a complete
    refusal to accept what is in front of you e.g. the world is 6,000 years old and
    the Flintstones cartoon is an accurate depiction of the world at that time; don’t
    waste your time, life is too short.

  11. Thanks for the comment.   I’m reminded of a preacher that used the argument of “Believing requires faith” and “Being an atheist requires faith” … therefore, you should believe.  I was stunned that he would argue in front of his ‘flock’ that atheism requires faith, when faith (traditionally defined) is the opposite of atheistic views.

  12. To ask a “believer” to accept scientific “truth” is as much a leap of faith for them as accepting Jesus into their lives, or whichever God they happen to feel attracted to.

    Dude, no. It’s far easier to accept an agreeable fantasy than to face reality. It requires no leap of faith, but a complete re-evaluation of your way of thinking. If someone needs a “leap of faith” to abandon religion in favour of scientific reasoning, he is going about it the wrong way and will most likely fall back to his comfort zone quite quickly. 

    Although we atheists might think them wrong, they have constructed a certain framework of belief and have come to understand their lives in relation to this framework. Why should they drop their comfy belief for what would essentially be a new, less familiar one?

    See above, really. I would argue a lot of it comes from not being exposed to a different modes of thinking (the rational discourse) at an earlier age. Some get stuck in this rut, some can think their way out. The Internet and easier access to information is slowly eroding the old ways. 

  13. I first lost my faith in Catholicism at 18 when facts that I learned in history and art history revealed much about the Bible’s origins and adaptations. I then lost my deist, New Thought views about four (maybe 5??) years ago when I rigorously questioned my beliefs and other spiritual views philosophically and rationally. One-by-one they fell away. A knowledge of science is not dependent or not necessarily synonymous with atheism. As I have mentioned before on this site; I am probably the least scientifically literate person here.

    Much of religion can be debunked with common sense. Honestly comparing claims for reincarnation while comparing population growth will lead the questioner to form more questions. Observing people who claim to be coming from their higher consciousness, when honestly and objectively observed, seem to lose a sense of magic and mystery looking more like simple human goodness or emotional anesthetization. Many religions tout Jesus saying “These things and greater you shall do.” (or some form of this) Yet, there is absolutely NO Legitimate evidence that anyone has walked on water, levitated, manifested change with their mind, etc. An impossible goal has been set, but few actually see that far into the distance because carrots of community, support, good feelings, etc. are dangling at a closer distance.

  14. Well, I have found that most believers do not want to argue their beliefs.  Why?  Maybe, privately, they know their belief system is fatally flawed.  Or, maybe because without a god, they believe they have nothing. This must be a crushing defeat for someone who may have invested much time and many resources over a lifetime for what is so obvioualy a foolish venture .  In particular, I  would not try to use science as a way to dissuade the believer unless they come up with the ridiculous rhetorical question: “Well, how did we get here then?”  Even though I have studied almost nothing but science for the last sixteen years, I find it difficult to bridge the gap between the literate and the believer in a short conversation.
    The non-believer is usually not scientifically literate at all, and is offended by the notion that ‘we came from monkeys”  (Although they will readily believe in talking serpents, voices from the sky, burning bushes,world-wide flood, young earth, etc…) Moreover, they do not want to argue science with you and likely will not see how science could have anything to say about their god anyway. 
    [Sadistically, I find it much more satisfying to dismantle their arguments on their own ground; from the inside-out.  I have taken the (wasted!) time to read the bible(in between science), and arguing with them becomes much more effective when you can reference verses and cite people/places.  At least then, they don't have the ol' fall back argument that- if you would read the bible, you would find god.  (DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend reading the bible unless you are interested in mythology for it's own sake)]
    Finally, OP, just wait it out. Religion will be entering it’s death throes soon enough.  Statistics are showing that REASON is slowly winning out.  Eventually, the word atheist won’t even need to exist.  There will only normal people and people who believe.

  15. Consider two statements…  (1) we evolved from apes, (2) Jesus could raise the dead.  Assume you have little background in biology, maybe a high school class 20 years ago, and you work in a non-technical field.  How can you determine which of these is more likely, without spending much time on it?

    You aren’t going to do a lot of research on your own or even read Dawkins’ books, or for that matter read any biblical historical scholarship.  Practically speaking, you’re probably going to take the word of people who know more about it and whom you trust.  It depends on your social and family setting.

    Maybe this means we need better science education and more people staying in school for longer…

  16. As an anti-theist secular humanitarian, I have an ever-expanding library of books covering the sciences, atheism & religion, from the usual suspects.

    I just finished my first read of Michael Shermer’s ‘The Believing Brain’, which is quite enlightening on the subject of this Post.  This is my first Shermer book, after seeing and reading his work online.  I’ll be looking into his other books to expand my grasp on this area, but I can recommend this one.

    In this book, after explaining patternicity & agenticity, to explain how & why we believe things, he then covers 25 different cognitive biases we have, and how we justify our beliefs ‘rationally’ and ‘logically’.  This applies to scientists too, so we all have issues with identifying ‘truth’, although religionists have very much more to explain about their unfalsifiable, generally unevidenced claims.  Peace….

  17. I’ve found that what most extended (and productive) arguments tend to do is reduce the initial disagreements into deeper comparisons of fundamental axioms.  If you can recognize this and cut right to the chase of meting out the opponent’s rationale for their beliefs it saves time and often eliminates the emotional aspect of a lot of otherwise emotional subjects.  Usually I find that people I disagree with simply have poorly defined axioms or inconsistent sets of axioms and when they can be brought to see this (best done in their own words). they often leave puzzled and sometimes come back conceding the point.  Otherwise, if fundamental axioms are simply incompatible, you save yourself having to worry about winning or losing the argument, since it is impossible.

    With theists, I like to cut right to the chase by explaining that I find it inconsistent to have a double standard for truth – being a scientist I require proportionally greater evidence for claims of greater importance or unlikelihood, whereas they seem to require evidence for some things but not others (this is me setting them up for later).  I might suggest “If I were to claim to you that I was telekinetic and could move objects with my mind, you would be right not to believe me unless I were able to demonstrate it. But you believe a carpenter two thousand years ago could walk on water only because you were told so by someone you implicitly trusted.”  As we batter about back and forth the idea of faith and how it should be used less and less the more important the issue is, I would eventually pull out the line “Is it a coincidence that Christians tend to have been raised Christian, and Muslims tend to have been raised Muslim and Hindus tend to have been raised Hindu?  Are all these people making informed decisions about the truth of those belief systems and it just so happens that it is the belief system of their parents?  Or is it more likely that the only reason they (and you) are that religion is that you were raised that way?  And if so, and the arguments for the validity of your religion are only sufficient to convince a child who is immersed in those arguments since birth and told it is true by parents and preachers who you implicitly trust, is it not in fact likely that given no such religious upbringing you would arrive instead at an atheistic viewpoint and demand equal measures of evidence for claims of telekinesis as for claims of resurrection?”

    With theists who have put more thought into their beliefs (usually very liberal and often scientifically trained theists) I often get right down to the axioms and find that they believe it is axiomatic that god exists, at which point if I’m tired the argument is over because they can’t be prodded to explain that axiom (it’s just a feeling), or else I work out with them how this axiom – if they can be goaded into defining what they mean by god – is either incompatible with other axioms they have (and we share) such as “human life has value” or “suffering is bad” or “freedom is good” or “humans are naturally evolving animals”, all of which should rule out (with basic reasoning skills) the idea, even given the existence of a god, of organized religion, especially one centering on servitude or worship or any human traditions.  Thus if I can’t convince them to give up the axiom of a god, I can at least make them wonder why they practice a religion which at its core contradicts their other axioms.

    Incidentally it was through just such a discussion that I realized I was an atheist, after years of assuming I was just a liberal christian! And so I highly recommend this method, which has the benefits of being calmly rational and not having to match their “I feel this way” with my own “I feel the opposite” futility.  I have yet to meet anyone, scientist or not, who does not recognize that their own conclusions as a world-view stem from deeper, simpler axioms which must be internally consistent.  I don’t think you can believe, for example, that a book which demands the subjugation of women is true at the same time as believing that women are human beings equal in all value as our society does without doing some incredible mental gymnastics which, when confronted on the level of those axioms, seem ridiculous even to the theist.

  18.  

    Vmar
      Now if what you are specifically talking about is a complete refusal to accept what is in front of you e.g. the world is 6,000 years old and the Flintstones cartoon is an accurate depiction of the world at that time; don’t waste your time, life is too short.

    That is true for one-to-one private conversations. 

    However, if you are making a point in front of a wider audience: -  exposing the closed mind, the unevidenced claims, and the denial of science:  -  evidenced reasoning followed by ridicule can be very effective, for convincing others.

  19. I think part of the problem is use of the word ‘science’ as a counter to religion. ‘Science’ as I interpret it in this context is ‘the best, most credible , most likely to be true , human knowledge available at this time’ It is not the stereotype of some mad scientists in a laboratory. We should be arguing that the best knowledge of humans today has to be better on average than knowledge recorded in the past. The fact that one personally is ignorant of the detail is no reason to reject it.

  20. I think a number of effects suggested by other commenters above are working in tandem:

    1. Religion is easier. It’s a nice, human-centred narrative, which appeals to the emotions and you can (think you) understand it quite young.

    2. Religion gets in early. Once inside someone’s mind, it has to be ousted by another explanation of the world which is perhaps harder to grasp and initially perhaps less emotionally fulfilling to most.

    Add to this the simple fact that most people on the planet, and indeed probably most people in the UK where I live, aren’t that fussed. Their main concern is their everyday lives – earning a crust, bringing up the kids, having fun.

    So you’re busy. But you want at some level to feel that life is understandable and that it has meaning – and that you’re OK.

    You’ve been gently bathed in religion from birth (vicars, maybe christening, bishops on TV, cultural references). So it’s there on the shelf. Goddidit and if I keep my nose clean, and maybe go to church to sing carols once a year I can put that stuff to bed and carry on.

    Maybe that’s the appeal of religion. Perhaps it acts for humans and their lives as what programmers call a “stub”.

    A stub is a kludge. You reach a point in a program you’re writing where eventually something complicated is going to happen which would take lots more coding to complete. To test what you’ve written and save time you pop in one or two lines of code that essentially say “a complicated thing happened and here’s the answer the program needs to carry on”. Job done. In the immensely complex program that you call your life you arrive at moments where you might start pondering deep questions, but instead the answer is plugged in in a couple of sentences (or perhaps the Nicene creed). Then you go shopping.

    Nearly all of us commenting have a different view. We want to get to grips with these questions and we’re prepared to invest a bit more time and effort. We have reached the point, perhaps, where our understanding of the magnificence and beauty of the universe, and our place in it, stirs our emotions.

    For my money the key is education. We must capitalise on childrens’ natural curiosity. We must avoid distancing something as simple and important as learning about REALITY by labelling it as complicated “science” and compartmentalising it.  Instil in the young, as part of their education, that it affects everything. The social sciences, medicine, law. You name it. And that the same thought processes humans used to explore the big and the small – rational evidence-based enquiry in dry terms – apply in different ways to understanding economics and history.

    The way we teach science now is perhaps too “heavy” and “siloed”. We need to recognise that most people are not going to end up as physicists or chemists, and provide a broader view of rationalism and its impact that informs peoples’ real lives and has the emotional appeal to be acceptable.

    Edited to correct incompetent typing…

  21. probably repeating much of what is already said here but understanding is a big problem. even realising what understanding is and seperating it from believing

    if you’ve been indoctrinated into religion, what often happens is you get lots of special schooling, often pushing the notion of “understanding” but not questioning. if you’ve been brought up as a xtian for example you may remember feeling you didn’t understand something but your priest telling you that you do understand (it’s a feeling or something) until accepting becomes more comfortable than questioning, especially when questoining is associated with disobediance.

    one big problem is what Daniel Dennett calls “belief in belief”. most people, religious or not have been conditioned by culture to accept that believing is some sort of knowledge. i’ve had many howling arguments with non-religious people with the same problem. they believe conspiracy theories and assume lack of evidence is proof of a cover up. the same with religion, only it’s satan or his minions doing the cover up, that a deluge of evidence is proof of false evidence.

    All this requires a belief in a higher authority, be it a man in a silly hat talking about invisible supermen or a man in a silly tracksuit talking about invisible aliens. once you have this mind-set you will assume all knowledge comes from an authority. science becomes an authority, you’ll be told you only believe something because a scientist told you to believe it. they will commit every debating falacy in the book, unaware that they are doing it. i’ve heard all sorts about Charles Darwin from people unable to actually quote from anything he ever wrote.

    Fear is what controls all this. not just fear of going to hell etc but fear of being wrong. being wrong is just wrong! so denial in the face of evidence is the only way to avoid being wrong, to avoid admitting ignorance. those of us who are free from religion are all shouting “come on in, the ignorance is lovely!” but it falls on deaf ears.

    science and reason are misrepresented. if religious people understood that not only do scientists accept they can be wrong, they tend to reval in the experience of proving it. only when you take the plunge start to think that way yourself do you learn the difference between accepting a belief and true understanding. the cold shock of facts followed by an invigorating feeling of being wide awake and able to learn unad understand anything if you can find the evidence.

    to those who tell me i’ve been “brainwashed” i often say “yes i have. now there’s no shit in it”

  22. should sort them but won’t. there’s a handy little passage in the bibble about jesus being questoined by a concerned observer in the wilderness. i think one of the most crucial bits to ensure logic is associated with the temptations of santa

  23. Richard01
    It is not the stereotype of some mad scientists in a laboratory.

    That is a caricature from the “superior” posturing socialite scientific illiterates!

    We should be arguing that the best knowledge of humans today has to be better on average than knowledge recorded in the past.

     

    Unfortunately this can be depended on to produce the deluded, “All knowing god(s) told them what to write”, argument.

    The fact that one personally is ignorant of the detail is no reason to reject it.

    The smug, lazy-brained, do not want to know that!

  24. Perhaps you may be able to answer your own question simply by inserting a different belief system into your question.  What if you were speaking to a family of Nazi’s?  Why should anyone who thinks them wrong ask them to change from their comfy beliefs?  They are comfy in knowing they are they are the best and they have a right to discriminate and kill others if it comes to it.  But the belief is comfy to them, so why should they change?

    I think it is quite obvious that simply believing something because it makes you feel good offers no good reason at all to accept it as true.  I oppose religion because it is dangerous.  It harms young minds and stifles learning in developing adults.  In the case of the catholic church, hardworking adults brainwash their kids from birth so they will not question why they are putting money into an offering plate that will ultimately be used to cover up a centuries long pedophile ring.   I don’t care if someone feels ‘comfy’ about financing pedophile preists and popes, it should be stopped.  The flock does not consider what it must be like for a young child to be repeatedly raped and ripped open, because that doesn’t make them feel ‘comfy’ so they choose to ignore it and not to do anything about it.  

  25. Interesting debate… I have just joined this site and this is the first thread I’ve looked at. I’m an atheist (with an inclination towards Buddhism) and I’ve just read things that have made me stop and think.
    However there is one question that I would ask here; How many ‘believers’ know enough about their religion to be able to call themselves ‘followers of the faith?’ So, going back to the original question I would ask; why not believe in science as they may well know more about science than they do about – for example – the Bible?
    Going a bit further it could be said that there are very few Christians, or Muslims or whatever as very little of them actually practice the faith… There may well be many, many more imposters?

  26. soapybubble

    However there is one question that I would ask here; How many ‘believers’ know enough about their religion to be able to call themselves ‘followers of
    the faith?’

    Followers don’t need knowledge – just leaders – and the leaders may well lack knowledge too and remain unchallenged , as the ignorant followers don’t bother to check information.

    Have a look at some of the other discussions and you will often see “believers” spouting ignorant, totally wrong, information about their own religions or about history, simply repeating nonsense they like to hear, or attributing negative features to opponents.

    http://richarddawkins.net/news

  27. Imposters is a strong word. There has been studies and surveys on those subjects, and I’m sure someone will have links to those. Most notably, Correct me if I’m wrong, in conjunction with this very foundation, that made a few waves, and quite recently. There are a varying degree of ‘faith’, and the percentage and progression throughout the decades is quite interesting, and encouraging.

  28. I think this is spot on.

    A point made by Neil De Grasse Tyson was that 8%(?)  of the world’s most respected and eminent scientists believe in a personal god.   Dr. Tyson suggested that we need to understand that before worrying about the rest.

    There is a huge amount of science and engineering that simply doesn’t propose a challenge to religious belief,  evolutionary biology just happens to be one that pushes lots of buttons.

    Does research into Graphene cause any religious conflict or debate?  DOn’t think so,  if that point is sound then those involved can continue without being disturbed in thier view of the world,  as per your opening paras.

    Most people simply aren’t bothered about religion.

  29. My logic professor in college is a frequent commentator in our local paper. Nice man. He must be in his mid-eighties now. Nevertheless, I have recently taken him to task on his accommodationist “belief in belief”approach when science and faith get discussed.

    I am not one of those who thinks an elderly person should be spared from being told their delusional, though comfortable, interpretation of reality is faulty (ageism if you will). I would tell a dying person (old or young) that there is no afterlife if they asked me.

    Anyway, you’re right. Logic is largely missing in my experience.

    Mike

  30.  “I am not one of those who thinks an elderly person should be spared from
    being told their delusional, though comfortable, interpretation of
    reality is faulty (ageism if you will)”

    I disagree Sample,

    You modulate the message based on the circumstances. I am an Atheist but I am also a compassionate person. If you show up at my front door on a Sunday morning, Book of Mormons in hand and want to have a discussion, a discussion you will have; no holds barred. If my 85 year old Mother who is a devoutly Catholic and loving person tells me she wishes that I come back to my senses and go to confession then I simply shrug and say; perhaps one day.

    Embarking in an ontological argument with your 85 year-old religious Mother will not change her mind, it will simply cause her to have a sleepless night “knowing” her son is going to hell. My mother deserves to have restful sleep.

  31. I don’t see it as a case of needing to study science in any greater depth. As you say it’s something I dropped after school (not that I even took much of an interest at school either!). But I’ve always been an atheist because I’ve always been convinced by evidence and logical reasoning. Simple as that.

    As jmomeara said, one person gaining personal comfort from these beliefs is no reason to justify what those beliefs mean for every other who suffers so terribly from them even though they’re not directly responsible. It’s pretty selfish reasoning but that is the problem with people who only chose a few bits here and there from a religion to follow. Of course some do suddenly drop their faith, but the majority will always continue believing. Most will even use it to strengthen theirs, as if they’re being tested.

    I can understand the idea behind breaking the cycle of indoctrination for one generation being important, but I can’t begin to understand why the seriousness of the matter doesn’t demand more immediate action. We are talking about mental health issues here. I know that when it is spoken about in those terms it is not taken as seriously as it is perceived as a form of mocking, but how else can you describe it? I certainly don’t mean it in a derogatory way, there is too much stigma attached to it… I know as I have my own personal battles with it. But no matter what end of the spectrum we are talking about – even those that do only use religion as some sort of ‘comfort’ in their life, what is it that stops them being defined medically as mentally unstable in some way? It needs to be treated as such and until it is ending childhood indoctrination will help but will not be the answer.

  32. I have run into that “framework” in talking with family.  It’s an expansive and rigid wall and when I tried to confront it I may have gotten some points across, but I also felt I bounced off and landed on my ass.  On the outside looking in I think we tend to simplify the issue.  Once you’ve spent enough time in a framework of reason and reality it seems simple and obvious.  However, you learn quickly that you can’t explain someone out of religion in a ten minute conversation.  I try to remember Dan Dennett’s analogy of religion being “a thicket in a swamp full of fog”.  Religion evolved to be a twisted maze of complexity.  I was indoctrinated by my parents into the Lutheran church and went along with the whole thing until I had a string of wonderful science teachers starting in jr. high school.  Science gave me the courage to (secretly) step outside of the faith framework all on my own at the age of 14.  Plate tectonics, evolution, and billions of years were far more fascinating, understandable, measurable and tangible. So there’s hope.  Scarier still, in this country (US), is the outright denial of science, truth and reality and the prospect of that indoctrination for children.

  33. I’ve given this some thought lately and I’m not persuaded by your approach. Perhaps someday I will be, but not yet.

    The way I see it, I can’t be expected to know what people want to hear, so I treat them as I would want to be treated as a default position. And that default position is wanting sober thinking. The elderly have unique reasons to be exposed to facts not least of which is the premium a freethinker would place upon their remaining years.
    Thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps we can flesh this out further.

    Mike

  34. i think even  RD has dropped the ‘child abuse’ nonsense now.   to label a child a xtian child or whatever isn’t abuse.  what would constitute abuse would be to, for example, forbid them to read books that opposed their belief. or forbid them from visiting a natural history museum, or something along those lines.  also, indoctrination (religious  or secular) is much less of a problem now with the advent of the internet.

  35. vincentfromyay
    i think even  RD has dropped the ‘child abuse’ nonsense now.   to label a child a xtian child or whatever isn’t abuse.  what would constitute
    abuse would be to, for example, forbid them to read books that opposed their belief. or forbid them from visiting a natural history museum, or something along those lines.

    Ah! you mean like theocracies where internet reference materials are banned! – Or creationist households where pseudo-science lies such as a young Earth are taught as part of the Xtian label?

    also, indoctrination (religious  or
    secular) is much less of a problem now with the advent of the internet.

     

    “Secular indoctrination” ?? I can quote some doctrines from various particular religions, but secular doctrines?
    (specifically secular? – not religious or political)

    Please quote examples.

  36. Sample
    My logic professor in college is a frequent commentator in our local paper. Nice man. He must be in his mid-eighties now. Nevertheless, I have recently taken him to task on his accommodationist “belief in belief” approach when science and faith get discussed.

    If he makes staements in public he must expect to be challenged in public.

  37. Well I agree and lately he uses the weasely tactic of ending his recent comments with, “…this is my opinion only…” Which is another way of saying, “I want everyone to hear what I have to say but I’m not interested in what others have to say.”

    Mike

  38. Many atheists and science fans don’t understand science either. Look at the prosecution of Italian geologists. People confuse colloquial and scientific theory,  don’t understand formal logic, different types of reasoning, or the relevance of conerstone concepts such as falsifiability.

    “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”-Nietzsche

    Many people side with science out of a respect for authority. Some marvel at it as one would a god. For them, their belief in science actually is faith, and it is rightly recognized by theists as such. When these people defend science, they do a disservice.

    I understand books written by Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, well enough that I am able to disagree. Grand scientific discoveries are not easily accessible to the untrained, and lay comprehension is a great achievement of science popularizers. I feel like I’m slouching on the shoulder’s of giants, but many are reclined, freeloading egos betting on the winning team. Without knowing a thing about science, one can see it is the superior means of doing anything. Much of our society and its institutions are parading around like a cargo cult, trying to earn science’s favor and blessings.

  39. “I am an Atheist but I am also a compassionate person”

    The way you phrase it makes it sound as if being an atheist and being compassionate are normally incompatible. Is that what you think?

    We don’t have quite such a problem in the U.K with visiting evangelists yet,  but anyway I refuse to have anything to do with them. When JW’s last called round and left a tract, I returned it t to HQ with a message saying; ” I learn my science from scientists, not from religious fundamentalists,-please do not call again”.

    So far they have not.

  40. It just makes me feel like most people went through education and didn’t learn how to think logically, just how to be told to do something and be able to come back with a product, not actually learn how to think. Its not that they’re not continuing in science, they just never approached education the way it should be. Sometimes i wonder if educators are aware of it.

  41.  No Reginald, it was just badly phrased. What I meant to say is that compassion is not a prerequisite of Atheism as it is a prerequisite of many religions (though few follow that). I certainly did not mean to imply Atheism and compassion to be mutually exclusive. quite the contrary, I believe Atheist, relieved of silly dogmatic constraint are in fact more understanding of the broader human condition.

  42. Hehe, I submitted a similar message in about the same time with you, but after a few days only your message was accepted. Perhaps because my message contains more ideas than just this one. I also believe that we shouldn’t try too much to put science and faith in God in the same balance. I mean, there are so many people/scientists much smarter than all of us put together and they still believe in God and the Bible. I have a friend who was never interested in science at school or in real life, but he thinks that “believe without researching” is a huge offense for his intelligence. I think the best source of disbelief  is the religion itself. When I was 10 years old or less I was told that God is omnipotent, he/she/it is everywhere but then I had to go to a small building and pray there (by force: it was child abuse), I mean, what the hell was that, why going to a church build by primitive humans (compared to God) if God is everywhere. Then I was told how bad the money are, how they represent the Devil, how Devil is nothing but something that tempts us all the time, especially with money, and few minutes later people are paying the priest to pray for them :)) The fact that Church institutions are so wealthy and tax free is more a proof that they are the Devil rather than proxies of God. And the last proof I present here (there are dozens more) that God doesn’t exist, for anyone who knows nothing about science: if God is so absolute perfect and powerful, if he/she/it/whatever cares so much about our way of life and our souls, why in the hell he needs others, like priests and popes who often prove themselves to be primitive corrupted humans, to control us. Is he so incompetent that he needs a bunch of primates to do his job? This is like a super-samurai is in desperate need from a newborn to defend him against a spider or something .. All I’m saying is of course to be skeptical, not necessarily think about science all the time because science is not for everybody. For example I don’t believe everything science throws at me, like M-theory for 11 dimensions, I need some sort of tactile proof for this. At least scientists label it as a theory and they don’t expect everybody else to pray to an icon that represents the 11th theory newly invented, so that math works :)

  43. As much as possible children should be taught how to think, rather than what to think. Of course for very young children who aren’t yet prepared to critically evaluate, some “indoctrination” is necessary. But, as soon as children are old enough to start questioning, they should be taught to do so.

  44. AlexDragon

    A long and thoughtful post, but I think some points need clarification.

     

    All I’m saying is of course to be skeptical, not necessarily think about science all the time because science is not for everybody.

    In modern life, science and its technological applications really are for everybody, – although some take them for granted and assume others will manage and provide the services for them; – often begrudging paying for the service. 
    There is a huge rage of dependable science on which we all depend -  structural utilities:-  bridges, buildings, transport, water supply, drains, electricity and gas.  Then there are the automated finance & communications systems.

    For example I don’t believe everything science throws at me, like M-theory
    for 11 dimensions, I need some sort of tactile proof for this. At least scientists label it as a theory and they don’t expect everybody else to pray to an icon that represents the 11th theory newly invented, so that math works :)

    Proven scientific laws and mathematical theorems, which work dependably in everyday life, should not be confused with hypotheses or theories at the frontiers of knowledge. 
    At frontiers, a vision of the likely possibilities  is useful in looking ahead, or identifying areas of study, but we should always be critical in this area, looking for confirmation or refutation.

  45. Hi Arvind,

    You touch, here, on a perennial problem: How to get the religious to see the difference between faith and truth.

    The first thing I would ask you to consider is language. Note that I have re-stated the problem. I have suggested the above text, in place of your own:

    ” … ask a ‘believer’ to accept scientific ‘truth’ “
    – While it is important to remember that all scientific discoveries are provisional, they are also:
    – Based on facts (e.g. repeatable observation)
    – The best explanations we have (e.g. only Science produces Technology)
    – The only reliable predictors of future discoveries.

    Thus, we do not ask people to simply ‘have faith’ in science.

    We ask people to believe in science based on the evidence of facts.

    On the above basis we may … only may … ask someone with a religious belief to review the evidence for their beliefs. Only ‘may’ because the religious may take offence at being asked to question – or, indeed, having to listen to you question the evidence they have for their beliefs.

    ” … [its] as much a leap of faith for them as accepting … whichever God they happen to feel attracted to”
    – Being attracted to anything, ideas included, does not make them true. By wording your statement the way you do, you demonstrate that you think there may be some value in thinking this way. This is to concede too much.

    I am in love with the actress Catherine Zeta Jones. We have never met. All the available evidence suggests that Catherine is happily married and that, therefore, it is highly improbable she has any reason to even acknowledge my existence. Yet I still love her, and believe that she will be mine … one day.

    Leaps of faith are romantic nonsense that are based on subjective and unsubstantiated feelings. That is as far from science as it is possible to get. A Scientist would never ask you to make a leap of faith – even in the rare case of an hypothesis that makes many scientific predictions, but lacks much evidence today. This was the case, originally, with quantum mechanics (in my imperfect understanding of the history). Following a short period when physicists could find no better explanation, subsequent observations of fact failed to falsify the hypothesis and it is now science consensus. While it was touch-and-go for a time, it was never a leap of faith.

    My brother, Amos, loves a God. But the facts are that only Amos claims to have knowledge of his God’s love for him. No-one else has been able to show evidence for the existence of the God of Amos, the God’s love, nor indeed the God’s love of Amos.

    There was an interesting moment when some people claimed that an old book had this evidence, but it turned out that it wasn’t that old, was inconsistent even within its own text, appears to have been heavily edited and re-written over centuries, is full of lots of other ideas that are pretty nasty … etc., etc. But, most damning of all, none of the book’s assertions can be repeated or tested – thus, the hypotheses that Amos promotes cannot be independently repeated … so they can’t stand as scientific evidence because the hypotheses cannot be falsified.

    The love that Amos has conceived exists between him and his God is, therefore, on a par with my love for Catherine. Or, in your words:

    ” … they have constructed a certain framework of belief … “

    When you say:
    ” … they quite rightly accused me of proselytising (because I was) … “
    it makes me feel queasy. First, why did you say “accused”?

    I assume you live in a democracy? What is wrong, in a democracy, with trying to change someone’s mind? If there is nothing wrong, why ‘accused’?

    Second, proselytising is a word I believe most people would associate with preaching. Science does not need to be preached. Science asks questions, records observable facts and hypothesises explanations. It invites more questions – it does not ask for subservient belief.

    If you meant that you were simply telling them Science is true, then perhaps you really were preaching?

    If, on the other hand, you were attempting to get religious people to understand science, to review the evidence for some theory or other, or to examine how scientists had come to accept an hypothesis, then I would say using the word persuade is both more helpful, and more accurate.

    It is important that, dear Arvind, you do not beat yourself up over this. As you quite rightly say:
    ” … science is something that most people have not studied or at least not in any great depth. It’s a subject most of us drop after school and only occasionally come into contact with again … “

    There is nothing more distressing than the fact that our education systems do not imbue us all with a thirst for knowledge and a deep and abiding desire for life-long education and enlightenment.

    I would ask you, however, to consider the following. Ignorance means, essentially, not knowing. If I know that I am ignorant, and that I have the means to overcome my ignorance – yet I refuse to exercise my rights, my ability to learn and my intellect, what am I?

    When you have answered that question, you will have answered your own, main, question:
    “Why should they drop their comfy belief for what would essentially be a new, less familiar one?”

    What should we do. Here we are walking along the river bank, and a Boy is in the middle of the fast-flowing stream. He is not panicking. We shout and ask him if he needs help. He says he feels comfortable, and therefore does not need our help – he is clinging to a small piece of flotsam. We ask why he doesn’t swim to the bank. He says he cannot swim. We try to tell him that he will soon come to a large weir where his little piece of floating debris will not save him. He says he doesn’t need our help, he has faith in his flotsam.

    Faith: belief in something without evidence

    Belief: conviction that something is true

    Truth: belief in accordance with reality, and as evidenced by verifiable facts

    Thus; belief does not equal faith, and faith does not equal truth.

    Peace.

  46. vincentfromyay
    some atheists, for example, aren’t honest when it comes to teaching their children.  some tell their children there is no god when they don’t know whether there is a god or not.

    It’s funny how theists tell their children that their pet god is the correct one and all the others are wrong – but then accuse atheists of dishonesty when the atheists simply recognise the lack of evidence, and disclaim one more god than the many disclaimed by the theists!

    “Some atheists and theists , for example, aren’t honest when it comes to teaching their children. 
    Some tell their children there are no fairies, dragons, or leprechauns, when they don’t absolutely know for 100% certainty whether there are  fairies, dragons or leprechauns,  or not. “

    …Or maybe they simply look at probabilities, and take a rational view based on evidence or the lack of it!

    BTW: – Did you have the requested example “secular indoctrination”?

  47. CHRISTOPHER
    God already has created a rock that He may not be able to lift.  It is your heart and faith. 

    Perhaps biologists know that hearts are biological pumps circulating blood which evolved over millions of years!  Thinking is done with brains.

    He gave you free will and you may do as you please. 

    Some of us use higher brain functions, evidence, and reasoning to make decisions,  others let their minds be dominated by the subconscious egocentric god patches in their brains.

    You are self directed.  You can do what pleases yourself or do what pleases God.  Choose wisely.

    We are all “self directed”.  It’s just that some of us are self-directed by different parts of our brains than others, and some can recognise primordial  egocentric anthropomorphism.

    For a reliable understanding of the world – choose scientific evidenced rationality! – All other systems consistently fail when tested.

  48. It just occurs me of the image of a film that serves as a metaphor: a coke bottle is thrown away from an airplane and the problem it caused to a distant culture, but comparing, we cannot be as unfamiliar with our own culture (including not familiar with science) as the Kalahari bushmen, can we ?

    http://youtu.be/gT3dJBeo_zA

  49.  

    maria melo
     … ..  and the problem it caused to a
    distant culture, but comparing, we cannot be as unfamiliar with our own
    culture (including not familiar with science) as the Kalahari bushmen,
    can we ?

    The bushmen are certainly unfamiliar with our culture and technology, where it has not impacted them, but they definitely have a much deeper and better knowledge of their local ecology, than most people in developed countries.

  50. Of course they do.

    The drama of the film goes on and shows maladaptation within a “civilised” world…
    I just thought of this film as a good metaphor (as it was recommended to me), and it should enable people to dismiss the claim that we don´t have a common basic education that allows us to understand science, even if someone is not a scientist (remember the judge of the Dover case ? what if people didn´t have that “basic education”, could he have decided that ID is not science ?

  51. “Some tell their children there are no fairies, dragons, or leprechauns, when they don’t absolutely know for 100% certainty whether there are fairies, dragons or leprechauns, or not. “

    maybe god exists, maybe he doesn’t, but for you to liken god to fairies is to show either a philosophical naivety or a complete lack of knowledge of the history of philosophy.  in RD’s case, when he used to do it, he wasn’t being either naive, or being ignorant, he was being dishonest (but, to be fair to him, he did so in a playful way; he was having fun at the expense of the theist).

  52. >maybe god exists,
     
    Which god?

    > maybe he doesn’t,

    That at least narrows it down to male gods.  Which male god? 

    >but for you to liken god to fairies is to show either a philosophical naivety or a complete lack of knowledge of the history of philosophy.

    Please explain in fuller detail why you think Alan is exhibiting philosophical naivete. 

    Maybe fairies exist.  Maybe they don’t. 

    It seems to work just as well.

  53.  “2. no condemnation of the USA’s military policy.”

    I hope this was meant as “Don’t waste time and bandwidth talking about it” or as a joke otherwise that policy is to blame for the whole Muslim mess. Muslims exists for so long, often ahead of all others in terms of science, philosophy and even secularism  but we started to have specific issues from them after US and others started to mingle the wrong way.

  54. This is exactly it. When arguing this point about what to teach children: scepticism. The ability to reason and always doubt something before accepting it. (This will lead people into scientific understandings and rationality without proselytising anyone)

  55. “…more open minded…”

    yes. but this applies to the dogmatic atheist as well as the dogmatic theist. it also applies to anyone not understanding the limits of the scientific method; they have to understand that ultimate questions are outwith the scope of science, that we need to turn to philosophy to tackle the big ‘why’ questions.

  56. vincentfromyay
    maybe god exists, maybe he doesn’t, but for you to liken god to fairies is to show either a philosophical naivety or a complete lack of knowledge of the history of philosophy. 

     The history of philosophy is about ancient human perceptions  of understanding and misunderstanding.  I would indeed consider it naive to assume a particular god when the ancient philosophers and story tellers discussed so many!  You seem to be confusing philosophy with the psychology of belief.

    Ancient speculation has nothing to do with (the lack of) evidence for the existence of mythical supernatural creatures,- harpies, fairies, leprechauns, or gods. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…  – Just as now, there was no evidence for the multitude of gods proclaimed by their followers, and you have produced nothing but vague unsupported assertions which do not even identify which god you are talking about.

    in RD’s case, when he used to
    do it, he wasn’t being either naive, or being ignorant, he was being
    dishonest

    Really???  Pointing to a lack of evidence is dishonesty??( I covered the issue of “honesty” in the example  here: http://richarddawkins.net/disc… )

    (but, to be fair to him, he did so in a playful way; he was
    having fun at the expense of the theist).

    Well – What else is there to do when people persist in magical unevidenced beliefs and produce no credible answers.

     BTW:  About those alleged “secular doctrines”, and susanlatimer’s questions?  Any answers? (Rather than diversions about supposed naivety?)

  57. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? 

    So far, Vincent has made statements about “secular doctrines” and “dogmatic atheism”, has claimed that philosophy can exceed the limits of science when it comes to the “ultimate questions”, which turn out to be “why questions”, has accused you of being philosophically naive and has patronizingly dismissed what I thought were perfectly legitimate questions. 

    I wonder why he’s being so vague. 

  58. vincentfromyay
    it also applies to anyone not understanding the limits of the scientific method;

    When science has no evidenced answers – neither does anyone else, – regardless of how much complicated conjecture they invent.

    they have to understand that ultimate questions are outwith the scope of science,

    Science can investigate any question, but without scientific evidence, anything else is just speculative conjecture.

    that we need to turn to philosophy to
    tackle the big ‘why’ questions.

    You can ask “WHY?” but in the real material universe you will only find out “HOW?”.
     
    “Why?” answers presented by people who claim to “know” without evidence, have consistently proved to be  made up speculative fiction, when they move beyond explanations of  “how?”
     They frequently resort to the, “no-idea -  therefore some god-did-it-by-magic” claim.

    This fallacy with a little added gapology, has been presented many times:

    “Science does not know everything,
    THEREFORE it knows nothing,
    THEREFORE its views are on a parity with other people who have no evidence and know nothing!
    THEREFORE these unevidenced  (insert religion) beliefs are just as acceptable as science.”

  59. This is an easy one. Religion can be proved as man made and man written. Look at the bible and the idea that the earth is a couple of a thousand years old. We can easily say that is not true so we can automatically say that a good few pages of the bible are not true. All the stories about Adam and Eve and all their children , all not true.  All written down by men guided by morals of the time. 

  60. Many believers have no problem with science, for the simple reason that they can distinguish between the limited empirical scientific method, on the one hand, and philosophical assumptions, by which empirical data are interpreted, on the other.  The world view that affirms that there is a causal connection between intelligence and complexity is not contrary to the scientific method; indeed the need for reason itself to possess objective validity and the intelligibility of the universe conform perfectly to this paradigm.  The idea that “science” itself demolishes the validity of the “God idea” is absurd, because there is nothing in the empirical scientific method per se that can perform this feat.  Often what is meant by “science” in this context is a kind of special pleading on behalf of the philosophy of naturalism.  It doesn’t really take a great deal of intelligence to work out that “science” and “philosophical naturalism” are not one and the same, and neither does the former depend on the latter.  

    This realisation has been explained numerous times, and many theists understand this perfectly.  The only way you will convince such people of your viewpoint is if you can show how the scientific method is dependent on philosophical naturalism.  Given that there is nothing unscientific about inferring an unobserved cause for an observed effect (e.g. the existence of dark matter is inferred in this way) or inferring the existence of dimensions of reality outside or above that which is governed by what we understand by natural laws (for example, M-theory), then such an argument is impossible.  Philosophical naturalists can’t expect to chop and change the rules in favour of their particular paradigm and expect to convince many discerning and intelligent people.

    Perhaps you need to think about your understanding of science, and ask whether it really is as logically coherent as you think.

  61. My mother language is not English, so gramatically I might be wrong at some points. I hope you can still understand the comment. :)

    I think Arvind asks a very interesting question. It is already scientifically proven that it is nearly impossible to win some one round when they have already got an opinion about a certain subject. So turning religous people to science is already quite a challenge to begin with. Also, science doesn’t offer the same things as religion does. Religion allows people to believe to have a purpose in their lives. They live for something. They have questions about certain concepts and their religion awnsers it with knowledge over 2000 years old. Science on the other hand doesn’t give you a purpose to live. The ‘why’ question is something that science hardly awnsers. Example: why do fish have gills? Not because it has to breath underwater. No, it developped gills during its life in water to take up oxygen. But that doesn’t awnser the ‘why’ question, but the ‘how’ question.
    Science is there for the truth, not to give people faith. And for people to give up that faith can be tough. Because they no longer have a reason they were put on this planet, they are just here. They are no longer a very intelligent designed creature.

    I am a biology teacher in the Netherlands. During my study I’ve been at Christian schools and ‘mixed’ schools (don’t know the correct English term for that). When I look at the kind of children I can really see a major difference. I would almost say that the children in Christian schools are better raised. They behave better. On the other hand, they are very tough to educate. Especially at a subject as Biology. They are indoctrinated with what is good and bad. What is right and wrong. And believing otherwise will get you a one way ticket to Hell. They are not as open to learning as the ‘mixed’ kids are. You can teach them about morals. You can teach them about evolution and science. They are much more open-minded.

    What I think would be wonderful is when the religious can believe in a God for their moral truth, but leave the natural truth to science. I think it is allright for people to believe there is a God who wants you to live your life in a good way. We all want people to be good. If they could just see that the Bible is NOT the truth, be open minded to other (contrary) information and look at the facts which are supported by evidence. :)

    All the above is based on what I witnessed myself. :)

  62. I have a feeling that, a long time ago, in prehistorical times, there were not so much difference between religion, philosophy and science. It was only general random knowledge. Some people had time on their hands appart from ploughing, hunting or fighting, and they began to watch stars, the moon, the weather, etc. They were looking for truth. They became learned, wise and knowing. And they made up stuff.

    Then the Greeks invented philosophy. They realised that, to find truth, observing was not enough. You also had to doubt about what you were observing. And that culminated with Plato. But, as Terry Pratchett once put it, to rule, to be a leader, being right might help, but what is realy important is being categorical. Philosophy became “doubtfull” truth (but progressing better, getting better results) as religion stayed “categorical truth” (bound to end up backward but more efficient to rule people at the moment). And religious still hold to this principle : “We don’t care if what we believe in is true ; we just want it to stay undiscussed. We won’t listen to any argument.”

    Philosophy had it great for a bit more than 2000 years. Lets say from Plato (-400) to Laplace (1800) It made great progress. Newton was not a “physicist” ; he was a “natural philosopher”, so he explained some of the solar system by divine intervention, which a modern scientist would never do.

    Then came scientific methods and they reunited doubt and categorical truth. You have to doubt about what you see or know (philosphical doubt) but then you have to proove and desmontrate what you claim, so you can be categorical. And that scared the shit out of religions.

    That’s why they don’t like science :  it is “categorical philosophy”. It’s both more true and more categorical than their backward static dogmas. It’s a main threat to their power.

    (sorry for not native english)

  63.  
    inoma_ilala
    This realisation has been explained numerous times, and many theists understand this perfectly.  The only way you will convince such people of your viewpoint is if you can show how the scientific method is dependent on philosophical naturalism.

    Science is philosophical naturalism!

    Natural philosophy –
      Naturalism commonly refers to the viewpoint that laws of nature (as opposed to supernatural
    ones) operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe.[1]
    Adherents of naturalism (naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the universe is a product of these laws http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N

    Historically it was called by this name.

    Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis) was the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.   -   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N… 

  64. Actually, most religious persons I have encountered do not even know well their own religion.  You are right to say that most people do not have education or enough eduction in science.

    The real argument is why should anyone accept anything as a fact without evidence.  Thus, the first step is to define to the religious what evidence is.  Evidence is not what they feel in their heads (“Jesus/Mohammed has been guiding me in my life”).  The evidence is what there is outside their heads.  This does not really require much scientific knowledge.

    The trouble is most of them want to believe in the nonsense, because the nonsense makes them feel good (there is an afterlife and so on).  No wonder they evade answers to many questions we ask. 

    I recently asked a believer questions about Bible and God’s commands to kill, if offspring curses his/her father he/she to be stoned etc etc etc.   I have a long list of this stuff with reference + a summary of evolution, which I made for the religious to make it easier for them to understand.  Again, they keep evading my questions, and claim that I should read the Bible in Hebrew not its translation,  or I should ask a priest for interpretation (interpretation of what is super-clear in the text).

    Yes, it is frustrating.   Very frustrating.

  65. Hi FrankH:  I understand & mainly agree with your comment, but may I respond to some parts.  Please don’t take this as general disagreement, and I wish I knew another language as well as you write in English:

    “Science doesn’t offer the same things as religion does.” 
    Science discovers natural truths, with evidence, for evaluation & acceptance  – Religion dictates supernatural myths, without evidence, enforced by fear & punishment, no questions allowed.

    “Religion allows people to believe they have a purpose in their lives. They live for something.”
    Religion indoctrinates people to have faith in god’s purpose, instead of finding their own purpose.  Since there is no real evidence for any god or afterlife, they actually live for nothing.

    “They have questions about certain concepts and their religion answers it with knowledge over 2000 years old.”
    Their questions (which may not be logical or valid questions) are answered by quoting unsupported old myths.

    “Science on the other hand doesn’t give you a purpose to live. The ‘why’ question is something that science hardly answers.”
    Science mostly answers ‘how’ questions, and many ‘why’ questions about nature aren’t valid questions.  We have to find or construct our own ‘purpose’ during our life, and not submit while a deity reveals an often unattainable purpose for our life.

    “I would almost say that the children in Christian schools are better raised. They behave better.”
    Fear of Hell & exclusion from Heaven can do that in children – with other side-effects that you mention next.

    “What I think would be wonderful is when the religious can believe in a God for their moral truth . . .”
    Religious morality was highjacked from existing primate morals, then modified to suit those in control.  Secular ethics & morals, which evolve as we learn more about ourselves & nature, are now far better than any found in Holy Books – you just have to read those books to see that.  It’s obvious who is being served by the 10 Commandments, while the hundreds of Hebrew & Islamic rules can hardly be called ethical or moral in the 21st century.

    From an old Scottish Canadian Atheist, who isn’t educated enough to be a teacher or biologist….  8-)

  66. >The idea that “science” itself demolishes the validity of the “God idea” is absurd, because there is nothing in the empirical scientific method per se that can perform this feat.

    I sppreciate the effort you put into your post to frame the issue.  But this is where things always get impossibly murky for me, so I default to rookie questions. I’m a rookie and they’re the only questions I  have. 

    What “God idea” is valid?  In all of my travels and in all of my earnest inquiries, I still can’t put a finger on “the” God idea.  If someone would spell out what “it” is, I might have a hope of developing an opinion on whether  or not its validity can be demolished.  So far, I have just heard allusions.  Or assertions followed by allusions when assertions are challenged by the data.  Am I being philosophically naive?

    I have a great respect in the back of my mind for the places toward which philosophy can guide humans, but I think it’s terribly important that we examine every bit of the language that it uses. 

    “The” “God idea”.  What does that mean?

    Do you mean a creator outside of our knowledge of the universe?  A moral genius who created the universe to ultimately select and reward primate moral geniuses on our little speck of a planet? 

    Even if that were true,  (and what methodology can we use  to know if it were?), what would make it a “god”?   

    Most “God” ideas have been thoroughly demolished because the claims that they rely on have been falsified. 

    Yahweh,  Zeus, Manitou, Athena, Jesus, Allah.  Is it absurd to suggest that they are not valid?  That nothing that begins to approach what reality tells us supports the claims that keep them alive?  And that reality demolished the claims they were based on a long time ago? 

    Even if any or all of them turned out to be true and had not been demolished, why call them “gods”? 

    What is “the god idea”?

  67. Hi Arvind, I’ve been wanting to start a discussion similar to this for a while.  I feel I’m typical of a lot of Humanists/atheists/agnostics that basically haven’t studied science since High School. Though I think childhood indoctrination and failings of the education system are 2 of the biggest factors, there are other things the rationalists should work on to get people to see things in a non-superstitious way.  One is the “touchy-feely” side of  life ie..charity, philanthropy, compassion etc..  If the leaders of logic and science can equal if not better the false claims of religions/gods as far as helping people then more ‘brainwashed folks who are battling bloody hard to survive the cost of  living will start to come on side. It’s very easy to be an intellectual elite but not actually understand the ‘battlers’ point of view and not help things on the ground. I would have thought economic survival (not just getting peoples head around ideas) is one of the greatest untapped weapons for increasing recruitment for atheism.

  68. Hi CdnMacAtheist: Ofcourse you may respond. You’re actually adding valid information to the first comment. I wanted to make a point like that myself, but couldn’t quite get it on paper so I decided to leave it out so that the comment would still make sense. Your reply kind off makes my comment complete. Thank you :)

    Especially the part about the indoctrination and the 10 commandments is exactly what I wanted to put down. Humans have formed morals and ethics since the beginning. I can’t believe that 2000 years ago, after thousands and thousands of years of human existence, humanity finally recieved a tablet with the first “good” morals written on it. They were there, but were suppressed during that time. So they took the old morals and ethics and made it seem as if God came up with it. And everybody believed it, because nobody knew any better. And then told them not to question it, because if you did you will end up in a place called “hell”.

    I wonder how people cursed prior to that time… there coulnd’t have been curses with reference to God or Hell :)

  69.  Actually, Frank, there are no mention of hell in the old testament. It’s a Jesus invention.

     But speaking of the 10 commandments, I really love the first one “Thou shall not worship any other god !” – So, there are other ones ?

  70. inoma_ilala

      The idea that “science” itself demolishes the validity of the “God idea” is absurd, because there is nothing in the empirical scientific method per se that can perform this feat. 

    That depends entirely on the specifics of the god claim made by particular religions.  Many are easily refuted by science.  Others are too vague and undefined or paradoxically defined, so as to make them unevidenced, but untestable.

    Often what is meant by “science” in this context is a kind of special pleading on behalf of the philosophy of naturalism. 

    Actually (as I stated earlier) they are the same:- http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    It doesn’t really take a great deal of intelligence to work out that “science” and “philosophical naturalism” are not one and the same, and neither does the former depend on the latter. 

      

    These sorts of contradictory  semantic contortions really cannot be claimed to be a sign of reasoned intelligence (used as a badge of false authority).

    Perhaps you need to think about your understanding of science, and ask whether it really is as logically coherent as you think.

    Interesting bit of projection! -  You could take your own advice!

    Given that there is nothing unscientific about inferring an unobserved cause for an observed effect

     

    “Inferring”, implies some sort of evidence based  calculation, which is absent in the case of gods.
    Speculation is not evidence to support a claim. 
    It is only a way of identifying areas for investigation, and without evidence, it does nothing to distinguish or support a selected particular speculative claim from a wider range of speculative possibilities. 

    I explained the common fallacy in a recent comment here: – http://richarddawkins.net/disc

  71. Indeed the aim of science (Quantum Mechanics, Evolution etc) is not to disprove the existence of God.  However, the existence of God is not logical as far as science is concerned, because science (Quantum Mechanics, Evolution..) points to spontaneous initiation of cosmos (Big Bang) without violation of laws of nature (S. Hawkins), and it also proves that  humans have been evolved not created.  I personally understand evolution because of my education.  However, I rely on our physicists and their peer reviewed and scrutinized publications as far as Quantum Mechanics is concerned.  As you know, the majority of scientists agree on evolution (97% according to: 
    http://ncse.com/news/2009/07/v

    So, when we are confronted with the claim that God created the Universe and humans, we immediately oppose to the claim based on evidence based knowledge.  And, we emphasize to the religious that they do not have any evidence for their claim, thus their claim is not valid.  Nor can they prove the existence of God in the first place.  When they counter-claim that we cannot prove the absence of God, we reply that no negative can be proved.  For instance, I usually reply: Prove the absence of flying donkey!

  72.   NoKiddingMan – When they counter-claim that we cannot prove the absence of God, we reply that no negative can be proved.  For instance, I usually reply:
    Prove the absence of flying donkey!

    It is possible to prove a negative by proving a conflicting positive.

    For example, I can prove I was not in New York during the hurricane, because I CAN prove I was in England at the time.

    We may be able to prove the absence of  (theist described) gods in the outer “gaps” of the universe by neuroscientists proving they are dominant parts of theists’ brains.

    http://neurosciencenews.com/di… –
    “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions.
    “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”

    In the most recent study, Johnstone studied 20 people with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear. He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.

  73. The OT calls it Sheol… allthough that was more a universal place for the dead. Later in the OT the Jews adopted Zoroastrianism from the old Persians. The idea to judge the dead people on how the lived their lives. It is what eventually created the Christian concept of Hell as we know it today. (Zoroastrianism is much more than just that idea, but it includes it.)

    Quote: “But speaking of the 10 commandments, I really love the first one “Thou
    shall not worship any other god !” – So, there are other ones ?”

    Hahaha, yeah that one is hilarious… I like the one “Honor thy father and thy mother”. Especially when you read Luke 14:26 “If
    anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and
    children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person
    cannot be my disciple.” Huh?!Or “Thou shalt not kill”…
    “Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man
    gathering wood on the sabbath day. And those who found him gathering
    wood brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation; and
    they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be
    done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put
    to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the
    camp.” So all the congregation brought him outside the camp, and
    stoned him to death with stones, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

    I recommend everybody to read the Bible… I think its hilarious :)

  74. Interesting.  Yes, I agree with the first paragraph.   Also, some discuss that the absence of proof is the evidence of absence.  I do not see any problem in this either until the proof is found (maybe never).

    As far far as brain imaging is concerned (also my area of involvement),  I have seen YouTube about the parietal lobes related to patient’s feelings of presence of entities etc.  Well, not surprising.  Because we are our brains anyway.

    Thanks for the link.  I am going to download and read it.

  75. As evolution pointed out, our brains are developed because it was a benefit in
    survival. Some individual of homo habilis was so smart to invent for the first
    time a spear or stone tool. It gave him a major advantage of control over the food
    resources and even brought him interest from the opposite sex or even
    leadership over his clan. The clue here is that some understanding of how
    things around work, gave the power of controlling them. So there is, I think,
    some intrinsic, “built-in” epistemological relationship between our thinking
    and reality around. But this relationship only cover things that really matter
    survival. The same applies to our senses: we don’t see infrared light because
    it apparently was not essential for our survival on the savannas. So brains are
    not PARTICULARLY developed to understand and learn reality AS SUCH. Only what
    is needed. In that sense our brains are utilitaristic. We have a strong urge to
    only think what is needed. “A man listens to what he wants to hear and
    disregards the rest”. The last part we recognize as “ignorance” in our
    everlasting debates with creationists.

    Second, knowledge is one but identity is something complete different. Everyone needs an
    identity. We observe this in psychology, e.g. people who suffer a low
    self-esteem. Many psychologists know how extremely difficult it is to fight
    such an inferiority complex. The negative self-image will be defended by the
    patient like a terrier. I think because in a strong sense IT IS a
    self-identity. Many Christians feel themselves as a Christian. It provides a
    very strong sense of identity. I think a sense of identity on the average has a
    stronger psychological appeal on individuals then knowledge does. In that sense
    I do not agree with qualifications like “the comfort zone” where believers are
    strongly sticking to. I think it much more stronger then comfort: it’s a feel
    of identity.

    Third there is a the strong tendency of people to belong to a kind. Men are social animals
    to a high degree. The feeling to belong to and welcomed by a group of people is
    a very strong human instinct.

    To break out of a group which provides an identity, self-esteem and a feeling of
    belonging somewhere is, I think, a terrible difficult task.

    Out of the set “belonging”, “identity”, “knowledge” I think “knowledge” occupies the
    weakest position if people experience a cognitive dissonance. It will be the
    first to skip.

    Everything of value is vulnerable!

  76. Indeed.   There is also a childhood indoctrination that makes it the accepted norm to proclaim ones ignorance of science (or anything that seems on the surface to have complexity) and delve no deeper.    Rather like people that say they are rubbish at reading instructions or cannot use a remote control when really we know they are too lazy to apply themselves.

    We need to make it socially uncomfortable for people to advertise their unwillingness to engage in this way.

  77. According to a claim in this article, RD’s brain is stimulated the same way Muslims or Christians’ brains are, when he experiences “his version of spirituality”.   However, RD’s brain (and that of other well known atheists) should be scanned and compared to the religious’s brains to provide the evidence for the claim.  The variable here is the type of feelings these two groups experience.  One is related to reality of life (RD), the other is related to delusional thoughts (God).  Until this does not happen, we cannot be sure about the it, and this claim cannot be taken as a highly likely fact.  So, my fellow atheists, as you know, we must make sure that all the evidence is present before we conclude anything about anything:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new

  78. Neuroanatomical
    Variability of Religiosity

    Dimitrios Kapogiannis1,2, Aron K. Barbey2,3, Michael Su2,Frank Krueger2, Jordan Grafman2*

    1 Clinical
    Research Branch, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of
    Health (NIH), Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America, 2Cognitive
    Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, United States
    of America, 3 Department of Psychology, Georgetown
    University, Washington, D. C., United States of America

    Source:
    http://www.plosone.org/article

     

     

    We hypothesized that religiosity, a set of traits variably
    expressed in the population, is modulated by neuroanatomical variability. We
    tested this idea by determining whether aspects of religiosity were predicted
    by variability in regional cortical volume. We performed structural magnetic
    resonance imaging of the brain in 40 healthy adult participants who reported
    different degrees and patterns of religiosity on a survey. We identified four Principal
    Components of religiosity by Factor Analysis of the survey items and
    associated them with regional cortical volumes measured by voxel-based
    morphometry. Experiencing
    an intimate relationship with God and
    engaging in religious behavior was associated with increased volume of R middle temporal cortex, BA 21. Experiencing fear of God was associated with decreased volume of L precuneus and L
    orbitofrontal cortex BA 11. A cluster of traits related with pragmatism and doubting God’s existence was associated with increased volume of the R precuneus. Variability in
    religiosity of upbringing was not associated with variability in cortical
    volume of any region. Therefore, key aspects of religiosity are associated with
    cortical volume differences. This conclusion complements our prior functional
    neuroimaging findings in elucidating the proximate
    causes of religion in the brain.

  79. Neuroanatomical
    Variability of Religiosity

    Dimitrios Kapogiannis1,2, Aron K. Barbey2,3, Michael Su2,Frank Krueger2, Jordan Grafman2*

    1 Clinical
    Research Branch, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of
    Health (NIH), Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America, 2Cognitive
    Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, United States
    of America, 3 Department of Psychology, Georgetown
    University, Washington, D. C., United States of America

    Source:
    http://www.plosone.org/article

     

     

    We hypothesized that religiosity, a set of traits variably
    expressed in the population, is modulated by neuroanatomical variability. We
    tested this idea by determining whether aspects of religiosity were predicted
    by variability in regional cortical volume. We performed structural magnetic
    resonance imaging of the brain in 40 healthy adult participants who reported
    different degrees and patterns of religiosity on a survey. We identified four Principal
    Components of religiosity by Factor Analysis of the survey items and
    associated them with regional cortical volumes measured by voxel-based
    morphometry. Experiencing
    an intimate relationship with God and
    engaging in religious behavior was associated with increased volume of R middle temporal cortex, BA 21. Experiencing fear of God was associated with decreased volume of L precuneus and L
    orbitofrontal cortex BA 11. A cluster of traits related with pragmatism and doubting God’s existence was associated with increased volume of the R precuneus. Variability in
    religiosity of upbringing was not associated with variability in cortical
    volume of any region. Therefore, key aspects of religiosity are associated with
    cortical volume differences. This conclusion complements our prior functional
    neuroimaging findings in elucidating the proximate
    causes of religion in the brain.

  80. some atheists, for example, aren’t honest when it comes to teaching
    their children.  some tell their children there is no god when they
    don’t know whether there is a god or not.

    If there is no evidence for something then I’m quite happy to say it doesn’t exist.

    There is no Zeus
    There is no Loki
    There is no teapot in the orbit of Saturn
    nymphs, gnomes, leprachorns, unicorns, dragons, wyverns, pixies
    and God

    none of them exist.

  81.  

    “Some
    tell their children there are no fairies, dragons, or leprechauns, when
    they don’t absolutely know for 100% certainty whether there are
    fairies, dragons or leprechauns, or not. “

       maybe god exists, maybe he doesn’t, but for you to liken god to
    fairies is to show either a philosophical naivety or a complete lack of
    knowledge of the history of philosophy. 

    sorry why? People used to believe in fairies and they feature heavily in folk tales. There is no evidence for them and they defy science and common sense. In what sense is this different from god? Do you believe in Thor?

    in RD’s case, when he used to
    do it, he wasn’t being either naive, or being ignorant, he was being
    dishonest (but, to be fair to him, he did so in a playful way; he was
    having fun at the expense of the theist).

    I don’t see any dishonesty or naivity.

  82. Thanks Alan for that example of fractured logic!
    I’ve read and reread in many different forms that buffoonist reasoning.
    There’s a particular word to describe nonsensical logic “syllogism” http://www.answers.com/library
    Syllogism is a factor common to most religions and the fractured thinking therefrom.

    syllogism is a perfectly respectable part of logic. It simply takes premises and applies logical inferences to produce a conclusion. A syllogism isn’t necessarily nonsensical logic. GIYF

  83.  

    Many
    believers have no problem with science, for the simple reason that they
    can distinguish between the limited empirical scientific method, on the
    one hand, and philosophical assumptions, by which empirical data are
    interpreted, on the other. 

    not sure i can see the difference.

       The world view that affirms that there is a
    causal connection between intelligence and complexity is not contrary to
    the scientific method; indeed the need for reason itself to possess
    objective validity and the intelligibility of the universe conform
    perfectly to this paradigm.  The idea that “science” itself demolishes
    the validity of the “God idea” is absurd, because there is nothing in
    the empirical scientific method per se that can perform this feat.

    science doesn’t pose a problem to god by existing but god does have a problem of evidencelessness. Personally I see no good reason to postulate the existence of something for which no evidence exists. If you want to label it Philosopical Naturalism then so be it. I normally term myself a Materialist or a Physicalist – though Logical Positivism seems appealing.

        Often what is meant by “science” in this context is a kind of special
    pleading on behalf of the philosophy of naturalism.  It doesn’t really
    take a great deal of intelligence to work out that “science” and
    “philosophical naturalism” are not one and the same, and neither does
    the former depend on the latter. 

    Agreed. Science is Methodological Naturalism. But all the other stuff outside naturalism seems thinner than smoke to me. By definition it can have no affect on the natural world. And the natural world is all we see so it seems not unreasonable to say the natural world is all there is.

       This realisation has been explained numerous times, and many theists
    understand this perfectly.  The only way you will convince such people
    of your viewpoint is if you can show how the scientific method is
    dependent on philosophical naturalism.  Given that there is nothing
    unscientific about inferring an unobserved cause for an observed effect
    (e.g. the existence of dark matter is inferred in this way)

    Yes dark matter is inferred. Neutrinos were inferred for many years before they were actually detected. And no one has seen a quark (apart from Muster Mark)

    But what observed affect are you talking about? The universe? Life? Souls?

       or inferring
    the existence of dimensions of reality outside or above that which is
    governed by what we understand by natural laws (for example, M-theory),
    then such an argument is impossible.  Philosophical naturalists can’t
    expect to chop and change the rules in favour of their particular
    paradigm and expect to convince many discerning and intelligent people.

    Perhaps you need to think about your understanding of science, and ask whether it really is as logically coherent as you think.

    oh I think it is. You are correct science cannot disprove god. But I submit philosophical naturalism is the only logically coherent philosophical position to take (apart from solipcism which is just boring). I see nothing that requires a unnatural explanation.

  84. Actually, Frank, there are no mention of hell in the old testament. It’s a Jesus invention.

    First hit on google got me this site http://www.biblestudying.net/c

     The word “hell” occurs 31 times in the Old Testament. All
    31 of those times, the word translated “hell” is the Hebrew
    word “sheol.” While the English word “hell” has connotations
    as a place of punishment for the condemned, sheol does not
    have such connotations. Sheol simply refers to the abode of
    the dead in general…

  85. I couldn’t agree more about followers only requiring leaders in order to ‘follow’ something and I have had time to have a good look about this site to see what others are saying. I have been blogging on a related subject for a while now and it always astounds me how diverse other people’s reason and logic actually is. Sadly, when it comes to religion it tends to bring out the worst in people. Often with the most extreme consequences…
    I believe Weslam is the most predominant way of life in the world today amongst believers. I’m about to open a new thread on this subject. If you care to have a look I would welcome your opinion…

  86. vincentfromyay
    i think even  RD has dropped the ‘child abuse’ nonsense now.  ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬  to label a child a xtian child or whatever isn’t abuse.  what would constitute abuse would be to, for example, forbid them to read books that opposed their belief. or forbid them from visiting a natural history museum, or something along those lines.  also, indoctrination (religious  or secular) is much less of a problem now with the advent of the internet.

    Really???????

    http://richarddawkins.net/news

  87. Faith is the hope of things not seen, the belief in things you do not know, or to put it another way, the belief in things of which you have no understanding. 

    Yes, to someone who does not understand that there are currently two competing views of knowledge, one based on observation of nature, the other based on revelation of super-nature, science is a leap of faith.  To someone that has little or no understanding of the basis of knowledge, everything is faith, and faith and knowledge become indistinguishable.

    Most religious people do not even understand that their faith is based on revelation.  They were told what is true. As children they questioned it.  Maybe it didn’t make sense, but after years of indoctrination and the fear of burning eternally they accepted it.  Doesn’t mean they understand the logic of their belief.

    They have faith in Jesus because someone told them that’s how things work.  They have faith in gravity because someone told them that’s how things work.  They are told, and it’s the only way to rationalize, that religious and natural truth are two different things and work differently.  They usually develop two standards of truth, but do not understand the difference in the criteria for either standard.

  88. I am not sure if you are misinformed about science or religion or both. I respect science and religion as well, but frankly I could not say the same about those who under the banner of science or religion bash each other…. to me they are great fools.

  89. Your intelligence may be the limiting factor long before God’s ability to lift a rock with infinite mass is a limiting factor. Confused? Just give me a stick long enough and a pivot and even I can lift the Earth.

  90.  Since God exists only in the religious’s mind, all sorts of answers to logical questions can be heard.  This is the frustrating part of trying to reason with a religious person.  The non-existing God in the religious’s mind can take any shape and answers can be generated immediately (usually accompanied with lies).  Obviously, the reason for this is that religion is man made and continues to be modified conveniently and while gives ground to reason as a result of its defeat.

    Since the religious cannot really find a logical and evidence based answer, s/he resorts to insults at times.  This is a sign that your logic is making him/her think.  The thinking process can go in two different directions: – trying to find any answers to your question however nonsensical the answers might be   -logical and evidence based answers may come to the religious’s mind later (as happened to me 38 years ago).

  91. You misjudge about religious beliefs and what it can do to humanity. Without religious belief there would not have been any progress, nor civilization, and therefore no need for scientific progress. If you don’t believe me, just study all the civilizations of humanity, you will find religious belief at its core of organization. Even modern western civilization had Christianity at its foundation. No civilization had ever come out of atheistic beliefs.  

  92.  Exodus 20:2-17
    6th Commmandment: You shall not murder.
    ————————–
    GENESIS 38: 8-10 – Onan was instructed by Judah to lay with his brother’s wife to produce offspring for his brother (who was put to death by God for wickedness). Onan slept with his brother’s wife but “spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother” (NIV). God found this wicked, so God killed him.

  93.  Albert Einstein’s Historic 1945 “God Letter” Handwritten Shortly Before His Death.  This letter was in response to  Gutkind’s book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt”.

    A passage:

    … The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.

    Note:

    The following was taken  from eBay on 15-Oct-2012.  The original letter was for sale for minimum
    of $3000,0000.

    The site was viewed on 15-Oct-2012:

    http://members.ebay.com/ws/eBa

    You can find about this also on this site.  This is meant for those who have not had a chance to visit the eBay’s auction site.

  94.  Albert Einstein’s Historic 1945 “God Letter” Handwritten Shortly Before His Death.  This letter was in response to response to Gutkind’s book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt”.

    … The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.

  95.  

    Matthew 10:35-37: For I have come to turn ’a man against his
    father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother in
    law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

  96.  

    Luke 12:51-53: Do you think I came
    to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there
    will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and
    two against three.
    They will be divided, father against son and son against father,
    mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against
    daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

  97.  

    GENESIS 19:6-
    In Sodom, Lot’s home was assaulted by a
    homosexual mob seeking to have relations with two angels. Lot volunteered
    his virgin daughters to the crowd, saying “you can do what you
    like with them” as long as the guests are left alone. After offering his
    children to be raped, Lot was then appointed by God as
    worthy of rescue from Sodom’s destruction.

  98.  

    MATTHEW 11:21-24 The cities of Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were not
    impressed with Jesus’ great works, so Jesus said “Woe to you” and cursed
    them to a fate more unbearable than that of Sodom.

  99.  

    GENESIS 38: 8-10 – Onan was instructed by Judah to lay with his
    brother’s wife to produce offspring for his brother (who was put to
    death by God for wickedness). Onan slept with his brother’s wife
    but “spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for
    his brother” (NIV). God found this wicked, so God killed him.

  100.  

    GENESIS 34:13
    Shechem had premarital sex with Jacob’s daughter Dinah, which angered Jacob’s
    sons. Shechem and his father, Hamor,
    agreed to circumcision for the men in
    the city in order for Shechem to marry Dinah and make Jacob’s other daughters
    eligible for the men of the city. Three days later, while the men
    were still enduring the pain of circumcision, Jacob’s sons attacked the unsuspecting city, killing Shechem
    and Hamor with swords, looting the city, seizing the
    flocks, herds, possessions and wealth, plundering the houses and carrying off
    their women and children.

  101.  NUMBERS 31:17-18 God commanded Moses to kill all
    of the male Midianite children and “kill every woman who has
    slept with a man, but save for yourselves every
    girl who has never slept with a man.” (

  102.  

    NUMBERS 31:31-40 God divided the plunder to the soldiers, the priest, the Israelites and
    for tribute to the Lord. 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 virgin women.

  103.  

    DEUTERONOMY 20:13-14 God laid down the
    rules for battle, instructing the slaughter of all of the men.
    Women, children, livestock and possessions could be taken as
    “plunder for yourselves.”

  104.  

    JOSHUA 6:21-27Under God’s direction, Joshua destroyed the
    entire city of Jericho…men, women, teenagers and infants…with the
    edge of the sword. The soldiers then pillaged the silver, gold,
    bronze and iron for God and burned the city.

  105.  

    JUDGES 19:22-29
    A traveler from Bethlehem, his concubine and servant stayed as guests of an old
    man in Gibeah. Wicked men of the city surrounded the
    house, demanding to have sex with the male guest. The old homeowner offered his virgin daughter and the concubine,
    imploring the mob to “do to them whatever you wish.” The concubine was raped and died.
    The traveler put her dead body on his donkey, went home, took a knife, and hacked her into twelve pieces. He then sent the pieces to each of the
    twelve tribes of Israel.

  106.  In scientific research, as you know, each single finding goes through rigorous scrutiny. 

    -Need a priory hypothesis or a new hypothesis based on known phenomenon
    -Hypothesis is generated.
    -Studies are designed
    -The design is thoroughly scrutinized.
    -Experiments initiated.
    -Results discussed in details skeptically.
    -First draft of a scientific paper is written
    -The draft is reviewed many many times
    -Peer reviews get started
    -Paper is revised to make sure the results are correct and the design is sound.
    -Paper is sent to scientific publisher
    -Paper is reviewed by the publisher’s reviewers.
    -The results are reviewed based on the reviewers recommendations
    -After all these, the paper may or may not be published.
    -If published, replications will take place by other scientists.
    -If replications corroborate the results, then we are looking at some new facts.

    All the above applies to all scientific discoveries including evolution.

  107.  
    rk
    You misjudge about religious beliefs and what it can do to humanity.
    Without religious belief there would not have been any progress, nor civilization, and therefore no need for scientific progress. If you don’t believe me, just study all the civilizations of humanity, you will find religious belief at its core of organization.
    Even modern western civilization had Christianity at its foundation. No civilization had ever come out of atheistic beliefs. 

     

    If you study history, you will find that western civilisation only started to make serious progress after “the enlightenment” cast off the brain deadening yolk of Roman Xtianity:-  REDUCING the religiosity to levels which no longer suppressed  scientific progress, by using authority based “faith” without evidence.
    Religious groupings may help tribal coherence, but they inhibit innovative scientific thinking
    They often adopt its practical benefits, while the ignorant leaders and masses leave its understanding to a minority of specialists.

  108. I
    don’t agree with stuhillman that the root cause of faith or religious
    belief is childhood indoctrination. The root cause is the structure
    of the human mind. The fear of the unknown doesn’t lead to the same
    result at everyone. Compare the reaction of Neil deGrasse Tyson to
    something unknown to the reaction someone who is not really educated.
    You will find enormous differences. What becomes a thrilling and
    motivating challenge for one person can be the declaration of total
    uncertainty for someone else. For sure the indoctrination of children who are not ready to think crittically about religion is a bad thing.

    There
    is no scientific indoctrination! You can only be indoctrinated with
    the truth, if something without any evidence is common sense. Like in
    religion or as well in some political doctrines there is always a lack
    of evidence, on the contrary to science – where besides it is
    allowed to say: “I don’t know!” In German we call this method a
    “Setzung” – defining a value without evidence. Someone creates a setting and claims it to be true
    just because he or she claims it. The normal way of theists to prove
    their faith.

    Therefore
    you won’t see “believers” dropping their faith just like this. This is not what
    science wants. Science don’t want someone to believe in science. It
    is a very hard business of eliminating false ideas and bad
    hypotheses. This takes time and the will and possibility to think
    freely and critical. Something strictly forbidden by any religion.

  109. I
    don’t agree with stuhillman that the root cause of faith or religious
    belief is childhood indoctrination. The root cause is the structure
    of the human mind. The fear of the unknown doesn’t lead to the same
    result at everyone. Compare the reaction of Neil deGrasse Tyson to
    something unknown to the reaction someone who is not really educated.
    You will find enormous differences. What becomes a thrilling and
    motivating challenge for one person can be the declaration of total
    uncertainty for someone else. For sure the indoctrination of children who are not ready to think crittically about religion is a bad thing.

    There
    is no scientific indoctrination! You can only be indoctrinated with
    the truth, if something without any evidence is common sense. Like in
    religion or as well in some political doctrines there is always a lack
    of evidence, on the contrary to science – where besides it is
    allowed to say: “I don’t know!” In German we call this method a
    “Setzung” – defining a value without evidence. Someone creates a setting and claims it to be true
    just because he or she claims it. The normal way of theists to prove
    their faith.

    Therefore
    you won’t see “believers” dropping their faith just like this. This is not what
    science wants. Science don’t want someone to believe in science. It
    is a very hard business of eliminating false ideas and bad
    hypotheses. This takes time and the will and possibility to think
    freely and critical. Something strictly forbidden by any religion.

  110. Joe Wolsing
    I don’t agree with stuhillman that the root cause of faith or religious belief is childhood indoctrination. The root cause is the structure of the human mind.

    There are probably structures in the human mind which have tendencies to lead to religions but the programming must play a part.

    It is a very hard business of eliminating false ideas and bad hypotheses. This takes time and the will and possibility to think freely and critical. Something strictly forbidden by any religion.

    I think what is missing from your initial claims about “the structure of the human mind”, is that often inculcating irrational thinking patterns is part of indoctrination.

    Your later paragraphs identify that not only are false or speculative doctrines taught as facts, but flawed thinking processes are taught in the mental contortions,  trying to justify or explain these so as to  gain uncritical acceptance of them.

  111. My way is that I do not make any claims unless I find or have the evidence for it.  We can speculate, but we just speculate and speculations cannot be taken as an existing phenomenon.  You should have noticed that I always present references to Bible or published data.

    At least most of us were indocrinated and became Christian, Muslim etc.  Later on, we got rid of the religion.  This is what we know as a fact.

    Also, I saw in a program (American one) a girl who was brought up in an atheist family.  She was atheist too.  I know some members of my family (multicultural family) who were born into non-religious environment and, as a result, do not have any religion.

    Evidence based thinking should prevent contamination of human’s mind by the religions.  This claim is based on what we atheists are now.  The only problem I have encountered is that some people do not understand what evidence means.  For instance, the nonsense in Bible/Quran/Torah is considered evidence by the repsective believers.  Interestingly, some of them are highly educated. 

  112. “Alan4discussions
    There are probably structures in the human mind which have tendencies to lead to religions but the programming must play a part.”

    The structures I meant are not leading automatically to religions. This is only one possible result of the fact, that the knowledge of the limitations of our possible knowledge leads to fear. On that basis religions are one answer to that fear. Extreme political ideologies may be another one. Even the decision for the use of violence can occur in ones mind. So the indoctrination itself is a symptom itself not the cause. The cause is lying much deeper. The man who gave this website its name always trys to come back to evolution by natural selction. So I try to find out where in our basical programming (remember the age of the brainstem and the fact that a lot of its functions are programmed and therefore not subjected to our control). So I think there must be a reason for indoctrination – it’s a tool not the central aim. Theists don’t want you to be religious for your benefit, even when they are telling that. They do it to ensure themselves of their unproven ideas. We all search for conformation if we have new ideas.

    What I meant with “the hard business of the elimination of false ideas or bad hypothesis” is sience itself. What is interesting is, that whatever you do as the non-believer, to understand that religion is a delusion is the task of the believer. It is like the one who tries this, is doing real sience for the first time in his or her life only to gain freedom (e. g. for sience). 

    Gaining uncritical acceptance is a fundamental act for religions. The moment you ask critical questions and insist on evidence, on proof you put them into thin air. So they’ll do anything and use any alledged explanation to convince you, that your critizism is the problem – not the lack of evidence in what they deliver. 

    But again I didn’t mean to attenuate the danger of religious indoctrination of children. I think it’s still a relict that there is something like religious teaching in public schools. But Imagine 90% of all Americans believe in a personal God. 60% of all scientists seem to believe in a personal God and are able to combine this with their professions (I have no idea how they manage this!)and even 7% of the scientiffic elite still believes in a personal God. So what do we expect of people with a much lower education?

    And what do we expect of those who found a way in religion to cement their power over others one of the central ways for our ancestors to reduce risks. At the same time there is a need for those who are willing to ignore their doubts, who are willing NOT to ask. I am sure this is also a strategy developed by the human brain (maybe a relict of our time as fish?). 
    Unfortunately the reasons for religion as a phenomena are very complex and so are the ways to get rid of it. 

  113. “Alan4discussions
    There are probably structures in the human mind which have tendencies to lead to religions but the programming must play a part.”

    The structures I meant are not leading automatically to religions. This is only one possible result of the fact, that the knowledge of the limitations of our possible knowledge leads to fear. On that basis religions are one answer to that fear. Extreme political ideologies may be another one. Even the decision for the use of violence can occur in ones mind. So the indoctrination itself is a symptom itself not the cause. The cause is lying much deeper. The man who gave this website its name always trys to come back to evolution by natural selction. So I try to find out where in our basical programming (remember the age of the brainstem and the fact that a lot of its functions are programmed and therefore not subjected to our control). So I think there must be a reason for indoctrination – it’s a tool not the central aim. Theists don’t want you to be religious for your benefit, even when they are telling that. They do it to ensure themselves of their unproven ideas. We all search for conformation if we have new ideas.

    What I meant with “the hard business of the elimination of false ideas or bad hypothesis” is sience itself. What is interesting is, that whatever you do as the non-believer, to understand that religion is a delusion is the task of the believer. It is like the one who tries this, is doing real sience for the first time in his or her life only to gain freedom (e. g. for sience). 

    Gaining uncritical acceptance is a fundamental act for religions. The moment you ask critical questions and insist on evidence, on proof you put them into thin air. So they’ll do anything and use any alledged explanation to convince you, that your critizism is the problem – not the lack of evidence in what they deliver. 

    But again I didn’t mean to attenuate the danger of religious indoctrination of children. I think it’s still a relict that there is something like religious teaching in public schools. But Imagine 90% of all Americans believe in a personal God. 60% of all scientists seem to believe in a personal God and are able to combine this with their professions (I have no idea how they manage this!)and even 7% of the scientiffic elite still believes in a personal God. So what do we expect of people with a much lower education?

    And what do we expect of those who found a way in religion to cement their power over others one of the central ways for our ancestors to reduce risks. At the same time there is a need for those who are willing to ignore their doubts, who are willing NOT to ask. I am sure this is also a strategy developed by the human brain (maybe a relict of our time as fish?). 
    Unfortunately the reasons for religion as a phenomena are very complex and so are the ways to get rid of it. 

  114. Oh yes they do! I studied educational science here in Germany and I had a lot of wonderful lecturers. One of them called a seminar: Perceiving reason as the aim of education The Prof., was an atheist what a coincidence!). Another was – as scientists should be – able to transform his original idea of radical constructivism into social constructivism (after they opened his car somewhere in Spain in the middle of nowhere and he was left, with nothing not even papers to proof who he was, in deep trouble). There is for more than twenty years now the tendency that understanding is more important than
    reproducing content you don’t understand. Unfortunately it takes a while before the public and the governments get this. I read an article about an elementary school in Germany where they had a lot of problems with the concentration of the students. Unlike in many other schools they did not search Ritalin as a cure but physical activity. They were really inventive in transporting e. g. maths into another environment such as the sports class. If they had there problems in the normal classroom the stopped the lesson and interrupted it by
    gymnastics. The results where amazing. Confronted with them the ministry of education mentioned: Oh nice but it is more important the the children learn how to read write and do maths. This is the problem. Tradition that makes systems extremely unable to learn as well as individuals. Besides: humans are not logical and reasonable. They are logic and illogic at the same time. Otherwise there would not be such a thing as religion or love or the sensation of beauty.

  115. Oh yes they do! I studied educational science here in Germany and I had a lot of wonderful lecturers. One of them called a seminar: Perceiving reason as the aim of education The Prof., was an atheist what a coincidence!). Another was – as scientists should be – able to transform his original idea of radical constructivism into social constructivism (after they opened his car somewhere in Spain in the middle of nowhere and he was left, with nothing not even papers to proof who he was, in deep trouble). There is for more than twenty years now the tendency that understanding is more important than
    reproducing content you don’t understand. Unfortunately it takes a while before the public and the governments get this. I read an article about an elementary school in Germany where they had a lot of problems with the concentration of the students. Unlike in many other schools they did not search Ritalin as a cure but physical activity. They were really inventive in transporting e. g. maths into another environment such as the sports class. If they had there problems in the normal classroom the stopped the lesson and interrupted it by
    gymnastics. The results where amazing. Confronted with them the ministry of education mentioned: Oh nice but it is more important the the children learn how to read write and do maths. This is the problem. Tradition that makes systems extremely unable to learn as well as individuals. Besides: humans are not logical and reasonable. They are logic and illogic at the same time. Otherwise there would not be such a thing as religion or love or the sensation of beauty.

  116. The root cause of many of the problems for believers, is that they have been taught this “infallible” crap!

    Pope Pius IX
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    “9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church;
    and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I)

    “10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other,

    for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things;

    on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

    On God the Creator, the Vatican Council was very clear.
    The definitions preceding the “anathema” (as a technical term of Catholic theology, let him be “cut off” or excommunicated, cf. Galatians 1:6–9; Titus 3:10–11; Matthew 18:15–17) signify an infallible doctrine of the Catholic Faith (De Fide):

    On God the creator of all things

     - 1. If anyone denies the one true God, creator and lord of things visible and invisible: let him be anathema.

     - 2. If anyone is so bold as to assert that there exists nothing besides matter: let him be anathema.

    So there you have it!  – If scientific evidence contradicts Vatican crapology,  “theistic reason”, (not to be confused with logical deduction),  is a mental process leading to the preconceived conclusions of Vatican crapology, while  Vatican crapology trumps scientific evidence as far as those with the trrroooo RCC brain virus are concerned!

  117. I get your point. But the problem is that this is not the privilege of religion to do so. I’m German and as someone with caribic ancestors I know exactly what batshit brains can produce. We still have these guys here. They are not even able to realize that the root of their ideas brought their own country close to total destruction. Whatever they have in mind is so far away from being rational that I wonder how they can find their own buts.
    I think there is something like a division between those who like to conrtol others and those who don’t want to act as controlers. Unfortunately this ends up with the most of the world under control of a few who have the tendency to use thir power. 
    No question that religion is a extremely perfidious way to control those who are afraid of uncertainty. But HItler did a very similar thing by using the frustration and the fear of the Germans after WW1. Imagine an Austrian who declares Germany as the nation that is determined to rule the world? A guy who made a type of man fashionable that looked totaly the opposite of himself. And the people? They followed him. And the evidence of his racial ideas was below zero! 
    So I don’t think its very special that we have a lot people believing in the modern form of fairytales. I’m not happy with it but I realize that this is the way it is.
    I’m still not sure how to handle this issue (to keep the thread in mind). Active work against religion is not so easy. And I think you cant convince someone that religion is b*****t everyone has to come to this conclusion by his or her own cognitive work! 
    Here in the south of Germany they are mostly catholic and in many social jobs your have no chance if you are not baptized. They are sponsored by the church. Even to discuss it with relatives can become a problemif they are believers.
    I worked together with a guy woh was a fundamental christian. It was horrible. But to make thge everyday life possible I refused oneday to talk with him about the belief in god. I wasn’t happy with that either but fundamentialists are really a mess to discuss with. So I youst keep my mouth shut very often. I am convinced that it is a good thing to havbe ethics in school but not religion as subjects. Not in public schools. But here they discuss is permanently although there is religion as subjects. They are afraid something might change.

  118. I get your point. But the problem is that this is not the privilege of religion to do so. I’m German and as someone with caribic ancestors I know exactly what batshit brains can produce. We still have these guys here. They are not even able to realize that the root of their ideas brought their own country close to total destruction. Whatever they have in mind is so far away from being rational that I wonder how they can find their own buts.
    I think there is something like a division between those who like to conrtol others and those who don’t want to act as controlers. Unfortunately this ends up with the most of the world under control of a few who have the tendency to use thir power. 
    No question that religion is a extremely perfidious way to control those who are afraid of uncertainty. But HItler did a very similar thing by using the frustration and the fear of the Germans after WW1. Imagine an Austrian who declares Germany as the nation that is determined to rule the world? A guy who made a type of man fashionable that looked totaly the opposite of himself. And the people? They followed him. And the evidence of his racial ideas was below zero! 
    So I don’t think its very special that we have a lot people believing in the modern form of fairytales. I’m not happy with it but I realize that this is the way it is.
    I’m still not sure how to handle this issue (to keep the thread in mind). Active work against religion is not so easy. And I think you cant convince someone that religion is b*****t everyone has to come to this conclusion by his or her own cognitive work! 
    Here in the south of Germany they are mostly catholic and in many social jobs your have no chance if you are not baptized. They are sponsored by the church. Even to discuss it with relatives can become a problemif they are believers.
    I worked together with a guy woh was a fundamental christian. It was horrible. But to make thge everyday life possible I refused oneday to talk with him about the belief in god. I wasn’t happy with that either but fundamentialists are really a mess to discuss with. So I youst keep my mouth shut very often. I am convinced that it is a good thing to havbe ethics in school but not religion as subjects. Not in public schools. But here they discuss is permanently although there is religion as subjects. They are afraid something might change.

  119. To refer to the original thread I have to say that there is no way to discuss with someone sitting there and telling you with a smile on his or her face that the earth is six thousand years old and evolution is a myth. 
    The problem lies within the smile!
    These people are happy to deny reality. They sat up something like little fairies or nice tree gods that know you personally and helps you out if you’re in trouble, as a virtuel new reality. There is no common ground for a discussion.
    After working together with an fundamental christian and having debates with him I have my doubts that there can be a conversation on the issue that leads to gaining of knowledge.
    So it’s trying to live in peace side by side – like always!

  120. To refer to the original thread I have to say that there is no way to discuss with someone sitting there and telling you with a smile on his or her face that the earth is six thousand years old and evolution is a myth. 
    The problem lies within the smile!
    These people are happy to deny reality. They sat up something like little fairies or nice tree gods that know you personally and helps you out if you’re in trouble, as a virtuel new reality. There is no common ground for a discussion.
    After working together with an fundamental christian and having debates with him I have my doubts that there can be a conversation on the issue that leads to gaining of knowledge.
    So it’s trying to live in peace side by side – like always!

  121.  @rdfrs-d6d7811d3265905616b0c386141e1d7b:disqus 
    Stick around Joe!  It is only a matter of time before some know-it-all ignoramus turns up here to give a group of expert scientists the “benefit” of their “superior knowledge” of how the universe works.

    It is interesting as the brighter ones gradually realise that they are way out out of their depth, and the “ignorant atheists”, know vastly more than than they do.

    The same usually applies to biblical history!

    It can also be entertaining, when some blinkered fundamentalist with tunnel vision, accuses “big-picture” science specialists of being narrow minded!

  122. As someone who comes from a fundamentalist Christian background I know first hand why some people at least aren’t easily convinced.  For me it was psychologically traumatic to lose my faith and come to rely on reason and clear thinking as my guide.  I think people who haven’t been through it might not really understand the fear and social rejection and the host of other things that go along with abandoning a faith community.  I whole heartedly agree that religion is damaging for society and pernicious in its indoctrination in young developing minds.  Once indocrinated, however, the mind balks at allowing itself to go through the process of giving up the “mind virus” as it were.  Much like getting over a physical virus, it can be a painful and drawn out experience.

  123. Science means facing the devil in you, or admitting that your are responsible for what you do. That means you can’t blame anyone but yourself for everything about yourself. That’s hard for many to accept, and when you bring evidence supported by facts, then you are eliminating the belief that someone else is responsible for your person and your actions. I think a lot of people just don’t like hard facts. Facts take away the illusions. It’s like knowing how a magician does his tricks, your disappointed when you know how it works. I’ve had this discussion with a lot of people, and it’s always amazing when you explain something with facts how disappointed they are when they hear them. The magic is gone …

  124.  This is why the religious plugs his/her ears and closes his/her eyes when facts are presented to him/her.  They just want to believe in the nonsense.

    I also have had many many such experiences.  It is frustrating.

  125. The difference between artificial life forms and organic life forms is that the first kind start creating themselves after they’ve been created, with occasional intervention by the manufacture, and the latter one, starts creating themselves after they came into existence by accident.

    So many believers in the intelligent design can only WISH they were Commander Data!

  126. I’d just like people to be able to evaluate stuff they’re told as likely true or not. A bit of seeking evidence. That’d do me. (As a bonus I’d like all religious people to study five other religions in some depth to get some insight into how religions arise. OK, double-bonus: If they’d actually read their own “holy book” and see the weird stuff and the contradictions. Hell, let’s go for broke: If they’d spend one day learning how science, its theories and its “proof”, falsifiability, etc works).

  127. Hi Arvind, I agree with you that however you construe truth, it rests upon an emotional sense of recognition.  You could even say that reliance on reason itself is an emotional rather than a rational choice.  However, the difference is that religious belief is full of contradiction (e.g.,  god is said to answer individual prayer but already has a “best” plan).  Religious experience is individualistic, therefor not provable.  In contrast, all of us sharing this discussion are floating on a whole raft of successful scientific discovery;  we have each-other’s validation of our experience, and scientific laws must work first-time-every-time. An honest religious person must be full of confusion–I can’t see them as “comfy” except to the extent they are willing to lie to themselves–which they apparently do with ease, so maybe I’m wrong about that.  An atheist can at least feel honest.

  128. I see where your arguments lies, however if you look into the history books all religious groups began not with childhood indoctrination, but with adults formulating their own ideas and “beliefs.” In reply to #1 by stuhillman:

    The root cause of “belief” is childhood indoctrination – RD calls it child abuse, and I agree.  However, many see the childhood indoctrination of science and reason as equally bad.  We know it isn’t but it’s hard to disagree on logical grounds.  I’m paraphrasing RD when he has said, on many occasions, that if we could only break the cycle of childhood indoctrination for one generation, religion would be at an end.  I’m not so optimistic but it would be a start.  The current climate of UK government support for “faith” schools is going against the trend that we would like to see.  Fight these initiatives, fight the religious indoctrination of children.

  129. As a believer I disagree with you not because I deny reality, but because no indisputable evidence has been shown to me to convince me. I would love to hear some evidence of your point. I have an advanced education of biology and nothing has led me to question intelligent design.

  130. I have started to realize that it is completely hopeless trying to explain the view of an atheist, evolution, natural selection and the mindtraps of religion. I can’t understand where Dawkins gets his energy from. He’s of course right in everything I’ve heard and read of him, but as I see it the religious people are hopelessly stuck in their disease. They just go on arguing and stating no-one can really know or find out about anything for certain and they rely everything in on their undetectable orbiting teapot. Its unbeatable and water tight, you can’t beat that even if explaining it in the most simple way so that even a five year old could understand it. With their “logics” everything and nothing is true so nothing about science matters because it can not be proven and never will. I know there is a lot of philosophy about whether there actually is something like an absolute truth, but at some point when you discuss with a religious person everything suddenly starts getting ridiculous since they question the most obvious and already scientifically proven things. They turn it around and state that we are the ones unable to think outside the box and are brainwashed by the scientists.
    They will keep denying every proven scientific fact if it comes in the way of their religious belief. They twist and turn every thought of reason to the point where everything finally becomes totally impossible to straight out. They accuse atheists themselves of reasoning like religious. That’s about when I give up: Nothing I ever say will stick to the believer. They are stuck in a hopeless mindloop and they do everything they can to defend their retarded view about existence.

    Its sad and hopeless, but thats how I feel. I give up.

  131. parents have a lot to do with how there kids grow up and what they learn if the parents are very religious its got to effect the kids and will not help them when it comes to doing science at school

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