May 16 2014

Preaching Against Skepticism

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423 responses so far

423 Responses to “Preaching Against Skepticism”

  1. mumadaddon 16 May 2014 at 8:52 am

    Sweet. I love it when Steve posts about religion or god. Cue 400 plus comment thread…

  2. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2014 at 9:59 am

    I suppose it depends on how much you’ve suffered at the hands of religion, but I find it difficult to respect anyone who has religious faith, and I find it difficult not to admire people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Jerry Coyne (even though I am semi-banned from his blog commentary) who spare nothing in their attack on religion. I don’t care to have a nuanced approach to religion, no more than I care to have a nuanced approach to bigfoot. And it’s totally and utterly embarrassing to hear otherwise intelligent people talk about their religious beliefs. When your sewerage system overflows, you don’t speak in platitudes about human excrement till it’s swilling around your neck and spilling over your lips, you unblock the sewerage and clean up your house.

  3. mumadaddon 16 May 2014 at 10:17 am

    BJ7,

    Me neither. I cannot see why it’s given some special exemption from honest incredulity. To me it all seems like a huge cop-out; I can’t be bothered to think about the origins of existence, morality, purpose etc. so I’m just going to believe this comforting fluff, despite the overwhelming internal contradictions of most (well, at least the Abrahamic) religious belief systems and the fact that scientific enquiry, the best tool we’ve ever come up with for understanding reality, directly undermines so much of it.

  4. Ori Vandewalleon 16 May 2014 at 10:40 am

    I’ve run into this before because I frequent a discussion forum with a fair number of religious followers. The view I see most often is that doubt is a tool for strengthening your faith. And when I look at it that way, it’s easy for me to see similarities between that worldview and the skeptical one.

    To a skeptic, doubt is a tool for arriving at the truth through science (or scientific processes).

    To a theist, doubt is a tool for arriving at the truth through faith.

    In both cases, doubt is generally not used to question the underlying assumptions of one’s worldview. A theist doubts not to disprove God, but to strengthen the belief in God. Similarly, a skeptic doubts not to find a method other than the scientific one, but to be empowered by the scientific method.

    I should caution that I think the similarities pretty much end there. I’m not making the argument that atheism is a religion, too, or anything like that. The only argument I’m making is that most of us apply our doubt selectively, which to me means that the religious perspective is not quite as diametrically opposed to the skeptical one as some believe it to be.

    You can make the argument that the True Scottish Skeptic doubts everything, even doubt itself, but I submit that that’s a rare breed.

  5. elmer mccurdyon 16 May 2014 at 11:20 am

    Hitchens quite deliberately fanned the flames both of war against the Muslim world and of hate for Muslims. The two are not unconnected. He was evil.

  6. Hosson 16 May 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I find that religion contains several mechanism to reenforce belief and to protect belief from honest inquiry. Unfortunately, faith is a very effective mechanism. I hate how religious ideologies frame faith as a virtue with the most faithful devotes being “justly” rewarded.

    Usually when faith is brought up by religious people in conversation, I will explain why faith is a logical fallacy, and I also give several examples of applying faith to different beliefs to demonstrate the error in reasoning. The results are usually quite poor(denial, anger, etc…), but after a while of talking to people like this, I’m at least able slightly alter how they think. Their language tends to change slightly(now containing fallacies, biases, etc..).

    I do find religious ideology and religious institutions to be major foes of reason and free inquiry, and I will always speak out to limit its influence.

    On a side note, earlier this week I finished listening to ‘god is not Great’ on audible. The book contain a lot of information about religion i was unaware of. And to listen to Hitchens reading his very eloquent book was simply….amazing.

  7. Ekkoon 16 May 2014 at 12:53 pm

    @Ori,
    “To a skeptic, doubt is a tool for arriving at the truth through science (or scientific processes).

    To a theist, doubt is a tool for arriving at the truth through faith.

    In both cases, doubt is generally not used to question the underlying assumptions of one’s worldview.”

    I disagree that doubt is used similarly in these cases – and that a skeptic uses doubt in a way that doesn’t question underlying assumptions, but only reinforces. The whole point to a genuine doubtful, skeptical approach is to question assumptions.

  8. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 1:41 pm

    StevenNovella: “In brief, I think that faith is a personal choice that needs to be kept outside the realm of science and is not a legitimate basis for public policy in a free and pluralistic society….I see no reason to gratuitously attack faith or religious belief itself, as long as it stays in its corner and doesn’t bother with science or other people’s freedom…Your duty to your faith trumps freedom of inquiry; it is the ‘greater obligation.’” “There is an undeniable clash here of world views – faith vs critical thinking and intellectual openness and inquiry.”

    But, of course religion teaches that: “Faith trumps science…You do not and cannot understand God or his miracles, but don’t let your lack of understanding bother you. Faith is comforting, so just stop doubting, stop thinking, relax and just believe.”

    We should “contain” faith? “Wall it off?” Are you nuts? Why not just avoid thinking about it if you don’t want to? Why not let people continue to have faith and belief in a God and leave them alone?

    Atheistic arrogance is so predictable. You know, if religion or faith is a PERSONAL choice outside the realm of science and if religion or faith “doesn’t bother with science,” then what the hell do you care if people have religious beliefs? Why does it offend you? Why do you consider it your obligation to enlist the choir in meaningless rah-rah torch-burning? Let religious people do what they want without your sniping and you do what you want and neither bothers the other.

  9. The Other John Mcon 16 May 2014 at 2:04 pm

    mumadadd: 400+ comments here we come!

  10. Ekkoon 16 May 2014 at 2:24 pm

    DrJoeinCA,
    Either you are trolling or you are somehow blissfully unaware of the myriad ways that religion does, unfortunately, interfere with the functioning of modern society.
    A few obvious ones:
    Birth control/reproductive rights
    School curricula
    Equal rights for women and LGBT

    So “avoiding thinking about it” isn’t a good choice if you care about the potential negative impact religion has on these things.

  11. Hosson 16 May 2014 at 2:25 pm

    DrJoeinCA
    Can you please point out any fallacies in Novella’s argument or is your disagreement value based?

    I don’t understand why you would ask why should bad reasoning be corrected. I’ll put it in terms you are less likely to disagree with. Within the context of a religious point of view, some people try help others attain salvation, while others just stand on the side line condemning people to hell. Freeing a mind and saving a soul are ethically equivalent in the sense of helping others.

    I find the reasoning in your questions supporting pragmatic apathy to be quite poor.

  12. elmer mccurdyon 16 May 2014 at 2:32 pm

    No doubt Hitchens was extraordinarily eloquent and effective at arguing for the cause of hating and slaughtering Muslims. That’s why he got paid the big bucks.

  13. The Other John Mcon 16 May 2014 at 2:35 pm

    McTurdy, if you could point out where Hitchens actually said he hates and advocates the murder of anyone, let alone Muslims, please do so.

  14. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Ekko: SN was talking about “faith,” not religion. It’s certainly valid to question some of the political stances of organized religion. My question to him was why this bothers him so much that people have faith and beliefs.

    Hoss: It’s faith, not reason or science. Which “bad reasoning” was SN trying to correct? And what’s his argument for “containing” and walling off faith? My objection is that he says faith is a personal choice, then goes on to rail about it. What’s the point?

  15. Ekkoon 16 May 2014 at 3:04 pm

    SN wasn’t “railing” against anything. He was just pointing out the vacuity of the way religions counsel people to employ doubt. He did say that as long as faith and religion stay in their corner and don’t bother people or science, then fine. The trouble is that they don’t do that.

  16. Steven Novellaon 16 May 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Joe – I don’t care what people believe.
    Further, I stated quite clearly what my problem with faith is. It seems pretty clear that faith is the enemy of doubt, and doubt is fairly central to science and critical thinking. I gave several example from different religions of attacks on doubt because it is perceived as the enemy of faith.

    But I also go out of my way to state that if you can maintain a personal faith, without having it infringe upon critical thinking or science, (and I gave the specific example of deism), then I don’t care.

    Perhaps you should read the article again.

  17. Hosson 16 May 2014 at 3:12 pm

    DrJoeinCA
    “It’s faith, not reason or science.”
    I agree. Faith is not rational nor is it based in science.

    “Which “bad reasoning” was SN trying to correct?”
    Did you not read what Novella wrote?

    “And what’s his argument for “containing” and walling off faith?”
    Reread that paragraph because its in plain sight.

    “My objection is that he says faith is a personal choice, then goes on to rail about it. What’s the point?”
    Again did you not fully read the article? The answer you seek is near the beginning of the article.

    You should expected to get bust for criticizing an article you just skimmed through.

  18. RickKon 16 May 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Ori – your two versions of doubt are different, I think.

    The scientific method, when applied correctly, is essentially a constant search for facts that don’t fit a model – thereby eliminating bad models or refining good ones. That’s “doubt” in the scientific or rationalist sense. Doubt triggers investigation, which often leads the doubter to change their starting assumptions or position or model.

    “Doubt” in a religious sense is a test that works like this: there is a fact or a feeling that makes me doubt some element of my faith. How can I rationalize it away so that I don’t have to change?

    Or, as is often the case, a believer when faced with a fact that contradicts a religious belief simply makes a mental decision to ignore the fact, thus strengthening their commitment to their belief. Young Earth Creationists are highly adept at this.

    Science doesn’t reward the refusal to face and deal with facts. Ignoring facts and suppressing doubt don’t make science grow stronger. But they do appear to make faith grow stronger.

  19. mumadaddon 16 May 2014 at 3:48 pm

    (not a) Dr Joe

    “Atheistic arrogance is so predictable.”

    Seriously? The arrogance of rejecting extraordinary claims due to lack of evidence? Or perhaps the arrogance of admitting that we don’t know the origin of existence, that we probably aren’t the ultimate purpose of the universe, that there is no supreme being that loves us and that when we die, we probably aren’t going to spend eternity in either eternal bliss or eternal agony and suffering.

    Those humble theists must have it right then. They KNOW how reality began, KNOW the mind of the Lord or all creation, KNOW what ritualistic behaviours will buy eternal salvation.

    Glad you set me straight then.

  20. RickKon 16 May 2014 at 4:02 pm

    DrJoeinCA,

    Please read the quote from the LDS literature Steve cited.

    Clearly it is promoting the idea that “doubt” – any sort of ideas that conflict with a previously-established belief – can and should just be suppressed. The suppression of doubts, of conflicting ideas or facts, is a virtuous act.

    Do you believe it is a virtuous act?

    Is it a virtuous act for a doctor or a parent or a political leader, when faced with some facts that make them doubt their decisions, to simply suppress those facts and stay the course?

    Is it virtuous for the member of a trial jury to stick to their initial impressions and to refuse to allow any of the evidence and testimony to raise doubt of their conclusions?

    When someone says they know something is true because their faith tells them so, do they actually know something? If I say I have unshakeable faith that the touch of my hands can cure cancer, that I can fly or that the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard answers my prayers, am I correct? Do you accept my faith in these statements as sufficient for you to believe they are true?

    Or do you not believe me? Am I just using “faith” as a way of claiming knowledge that I don’t actually have?

    Is faith in the face of contradictory evidence a virtue, or is it a character flaw?

    Finally, is it arrogant to ask questions like these?

  21. Paulzon 16 May 2014 at 4:47 pm

    So this is the process by which a person ossifies in their old age. If they live with faith and defeat all comers that challenge them with doubt, they get to the point where the cognitive dissonance of doubt no longer troubles them. Their armor of faith is so unassailable that original thought itself becomes nigh-impossible.

  22. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Novella: The article you cited spoke to what a person of faith should do when they have doubts about their faith or when they find something that makes them doubt their faith. It had nothing at all to do with science. So your “faith is the enemy of doubt” has no relevance here.

    Faith does not clash with intellectual openness or critical thinking. One can be intellectually open and think critically and still believe there is a God and be religious.

    I guess what bothers me is your superior attitude as expressed by: “At best faith can be contained, walled off in a tiny corner (such as deism).” It’s as if you have the high ground and anyone who has faith needs to be isolated. You’re the thinker and a person of faith is intellectually inferior. Grant them their little corner or put them on the little yellow bus, and let us scientific geniuses run things. That’s just annoyingly arrogant, and I wonder why you do that.

    People of faith are intellectuals and thinkers and scientists, and their faith does nothing to reduce their intellectual credentials except in the minds of think they have the answers.

  23. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 5:21 pm

    RickK: If you read the article to which SN referred, it was clearly speaking to people who might have doubts about their faith. It was not meant to address how people should act when they are members of juries or physicians treating patients or politicians.

    That’s what bothered me so much about SN’s opinion, that he thought that this article which was addressed to people of faith was somehow meant to imply that people of faith could not “doubt” things scientifically or intellectually. I don’t think the article said that at all.

  24. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Mumadadd: Yeah, you and BJ7 find it difficult to “respect anyone who has religious faith.” That, my friend, is arrogance.

    You and BJ7 can reject faith and God and all that, but disrespecting people who have chosen to live their lives in a faith-centered, God-fearing way is truly arrogant. Like YOU have the answer and these dolts don’t.

    They believe in A, and you don’t. Why are you so bothered by that? Why are atheists so condescending to people who believe other than they do? I dunno.

  25. RickKon 16 May 2014 at 5:55 pm

    DrJoeinCA,

    You said: “It was not meant to address how people should act when they are members of juries or physicians treating patients or politicians.”

    I see – so you believe the LDS believer should “contain” their faith and not let it bleed into other facets of their life – like in their jobs, or when serving on a jury. How is that different than what Steve said?

    As for your claim of arrogance – let’s explore that.

    If I claim with smiling confidence that your life is meaningless if you don’t cast out your body thetans, would you consider me arrogant? If I tell you that no matter how successful you may be, how generous, how studious or educated you may be, you simply have not achieved a meaningful life because you are still burdened with body thetans, would that be arrogant on my part? If you reject my conclusions and challenge the existence of body thetans, is that arrogant of you?

    Which is more arrogant – claiming knowledge for which there is no basis (purely on faith), or rejecting such knowledge as baseless?

  26. Hosson 16 May 2014 at 6:01 pm

    DrJoeinCA
    “I guess what bothers me is your superior attitude as expressed by: “At best faith can be contained, walled off in a tiny corner (such as deism).” It’s as if you have the high ground and anyone who has faith needs to be isolated. You’re the thinker and a person of faith is intellectually inferior. Grant them their little corner or put them on the little yellow bus, and let us scientific geniuses run things. That’s just annoyingly arrogant, and I wonder why you do that.”

    It wouldn’t seem arrogant if you didn’t straw man the argument. You appear to be projecting your bigotry against atheist.

    All you are doing is asserting the conclusion is wrong. Do you need a reminder how arguments work? I guess you do. If the conclusion is wrong then there is necessarily a false premise or a logical fallacy – attack the premise or the reasoning.

    Steven wrote a damn good article. The least you can do, if your going to criticize it, is to understand the arguments being made. You keep demonstrating that your bias keeps you from understanding.

  27. steve12on 16 May 2014 at 6:08 pm

    “Atheistic arrogance is so predictable. You know, if religion or faith is a PERSONAL choice outside the realm of science and if religion or faith “doesn’t bother with science,” then what the hell do you care if people have religious beliefs? ”

    Atheists are arrogant for questioning religion. Religious people aren’t arrogant for claiming to have solved all the mysteries of the universe. Go figure that one out.

    And why don’t you mind you OWN business. Did someone burst through the door of your place of worship to tell you this? No. You went on a private blog and read it.

    It’s so funny. I’ve been called every name in the book for being an atheist. Evil and immoral, on and on.
    But if you so much as say anything about faith, they get offended immediately. Even if your point is that faith is irrational. And it is! Faith is believeing something w/o evidence because you feel a certain way. That’s the definition of irrational!

  28. steve12on 16 May 2014 at 6:15 pm

    “I guess what bothers me is your superior attitude”

    WHAT??? Religious people (most in the US anyway) tell me that because I don’t believe in their God, I’m going to burn for eternity in Hell while they’re living it up in Heaven.

    But we have a superior attitude for questioning religion?

  29. Teaseron 16 May 2014 at 7:20 pm

    A person who believes in the literal truth of any religion needs a timeout in the reality box. A person who considers the Bible as a literal historical/factual document simply has not performed their due diligence. Religious leaders who willingly mislead their “flock” are little more than narcissistic cultists. Adherents to any doctrinal fundamentalism are flat out dangerous.

    Religion is the supreme example of organized confirmation bias. Maybe that’s why religion is so big on Confirmation ceremonies.

    That said, human beings are social-tribal creatures and it is easy to see religion as an outgrowth of that innate human characteristic. I think it is true that humans enjoy, maybe even require rituals.

    This discussion is similar to those regarding sports teams seeking public funds to build a new stadium. One side professes economic prosperity for all and the other is unwilling to pay their money to a business expecting to make a buck at taxpayer expense – “Privatize the profit, socialize the cost.”

  30. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 7:54 pm

    RickK: “Which is more arrogant – claiming knowledge for which there is no basis (purely on faith), or rejecting such knowledge as baseless?” The more arrogant stance is disrespecting the people who hold views contrary to yours.

    Hoss: Stop sucking up. Bigoted, straw man, biased. All the buzz words. It’s not an argument that I’m putting forward. What I’m trying to understand from Novella is why he is acting so superior and condescending to people of faith, so much so that he walls them off and puts them in a corner as if they are contagious. (Somewhat similar argument, as I remember, to not wanting people to attend chiropractic care lest they be exposed to erroneous beliefs. But that’s another story.)

    Steve12: I’m not saying that some religious people don’t act preachy and don’t pity you for your ignorance about the afterlife. I’m saying that it’s arrogant and condescending for Novella to want to isolate these people for their beliefs as if they are sort of in the way of true scientific bliss. And it’s the same for BJ7 and others who disrespect people of faith for having those beliefs. I’m not saying you cannot “question religion.” I’m saying that disrespecting the people who profess religion on the basis that they are unscientific and therefore imperfect and are therefore to be sat in the corner like wayward children is wrong — and arrogant.

  31. Bronze Dogon 16 May 2014 at 8:23 pm

    It sounds like Joe is trying to say arguing is inherently arrogant without saying arguing is inherently arrogant and that we should argue in a fashion that doesn’t make people like him infer arrogance.

  32. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Bronze: It’s not an argument. Novella said people of faith should be contained and walled off, and I wondered why he adopted that superior, arrogant attitude toward them.

  33. grabulaon 16 May 2014 at 9:50 pm

    @JoeinCa

    “It’s as if you have the high ground and anyone who has faith needs to be isolated. You’re the thinker and a person of faith is intellectually inferior”

    I can agree with this on the basis that for whatever reason, they’re intellect fell short when they came to face the magical thinking that is faith in religion or deities. while their actual intelligence may be no different, their ability to reason has some shortcomings.

    Take, oh just as an example, someone who has faith in say uh, acupuncture. Their faith prevents them from seeing there’s no evidence to support it, and their faith prevents them from seeing where the harm in refering patients to it is…just an example.

    “Like YOU have the answer and these dolts don’t. ”

    Not only will an honest skeptic tell you we don’t have the answer, we won’t insist we do as those with faith certainly will, in god, gods, of their faith.

    On arrogance…hmm, I’ve never insisted that if YOU don’t follow gods word you will burn for eternity. I’ve also never insisted that the entire universe was created soley as the playground for humanity.

    “(Somewhat similar argument, as I remember, to not wanting people to attend chiropractic care lest they be exposed to erroneous beliefs. But that’s another story.)”

    and the pin finally drops…

  34. grabulaon 16 May 2014 at 9:52 pm

    @Joe

    Here bud, no reason you should have to read the whole article right? I’ll past the pertinent section to answer you ongoing head hammering wall question:

    “There is an undeniable clash here of world views – faith vs critical thinking and intellectual openness and inquiry. Religious scholars often try to pretend that the two can be reconciled, but it is they who acknowledge the inherent irreconcilability. At best faith can be contained, walled off in a tiny corner (such as deism).

    It’s inherent incompatibility with critical thinking, however, seems unavoidable.”

  35. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Grabula: You do realize we are talking about religious faith, don’t you? Not acupuncture.

    “I’ve never insisted that if YOU don’t follow gods word you will burn for eternity. I’ve also never insisted that the entire universe was created soley as the playground for humanity.” But what SN did recommend was that we isolate and wall off those people of faith who don’t think with the profundity that we do in a tiny corner of the universe so we can get on with the business of critical thinking and intellectual openness and inquiry.

    Some think that faith and critical thinking “clash,” as if one cannot be a person of faith and still be a critical thinker. That’s pretty arrogant, don’t ya think?

  36. grabulaon 16 May 2014 at 10:14 pm

    @Joe

    “You do realize we are talking about religious faith, don’t you? Not acupuncture.”

    What’s the difference? Both irrationally defy the evidence, plug their ears and yell nanananana when shown things aren’t exactly as they thought.

    “Some think that faith and critical thinking “clash,” as if one cannot be a person of faith and still be a critical thinker. That’s pretty arrogant, don’t ya think?”

    I’ve already answered that question but I’ll try again. No, Faith is generally irrational. Reason is where it’s at.

  37. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Grabula: It’s RELIGIOUS faith. Jeez, really? Observation that acupuncture works is not “faith.”

    So then let’s isolate all the people of faith, ban them from the scientific professions, from holding political office, from voting, from juries, from breeding perhaps. Is that your point? That people of faith are so inherently irrational that they cannot be trusted to critically think and make rational decisions?

  38. grabulaon 16 May 2014 at 10:29 pm

    @Joe

    “Observation that acupuncture works is not “faith.””

    It certainly is when the evidence is stacked highly against you. Evidence shows it doesn’t so as the faithful are told to do, you ignore the evidence and press on anyway. That’s not hubris?

    “So then let’s isolate all the people of faith, ban them from the scientific professions, from holding political office, from voting, from juries….”

    There, fixed it. At least your suggestion would certainly fix some serious issues with this country.

  39. DrJoeinCAon 16 May 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Grabula: Sure, that fixes serious issues with the country. Just have the atheists/scientists run the country. Good plan.

  40. hardnoseon 16 May 2014 at 11:19 pm

    If you feel pretty certain that you understand life, the universe, etc., then you are a follower of one ideology or another.

    Every ideology is irrational, because it is not rational to feel certainty about these things. All ideologies contain fragments of truth, along with mountains of irrational mythology.

    Materialism/atheism is a modern ideology, complete with irrational mythology.

    Steve Novella claims to be an agnostic atheist, but I know from his posts that he is absolutely certain that all spiritual and experiences are illusions or hallucinations.

    A real agnostic believes that the human intellect is not capable of answering the big questions. Novella is the opposite of an agnostic.

  41. grabulaon 16 May 2014 at 11:37 pm

    @Joe

    “Just have the atheists/scientists run the country.”

    They’re as fallible as anyone but atleast you take one irrational aspect out of it right?

    @Hardnose

    “Materialism/atheism is a modern ideology, complete with irrational mythology.”

    And you were doing so well…

    “A real agnostic believes that the human intellect is not capable of answering the big questions.”

    Are you really so obtuse? What are the “big” questions hardnose? We’ve answered some pretty big ones already.

  42. ccbowerson 17 May 2014 at 12:29 am

    “Every ideology is irrational, because it is not rational to feel certainty about these things. All ideologies contain fragments of truth, along with mountains of irrational mythology.”

    I agree that ideological commitments are problematic, but you are attempting a false equivalence across ideologies. Clearly, they are not all equally problematic, irrational or harmful, and I think your use of the term is far too broad to the point that it loses its meaning. It is a worthy goal to expose ideological motivations, but you are not doing so here…

    “Materialism/atheism is a modern ideology, complete with irrational mythology.”

    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. This does not require ideology. Also, for some reason your use of “/” implies that you think atheism and materialism are the same thing, yet they have distinct meanings. People do not generally use materialism as an ideology. To frame it that way is absurd, but it appears that some people like to frame things that way in order to create a false equivalence, and to be able to create strawman arguments. Which brings me to your next strawman…

    “Steve Novella claims to be an agnostic atheist, but I know from his posts that he is absolutely certain that all spiritual and experiences are illusions or hallucinations.”

    So, you deny his description of himself, and offer as evidence your interpretation of his posts reagarding other people’s experiences. Pretty weak. It is more likely that it is not an ideology you are seeing, but a person having an appropriate skepticism to an extrordinary claim with weak evidence. I find your approach a common tactic (attributing characteristics to others to change the argument) for those interested in impugning others. I don’t get the motivation- is it for the attention or does your mind just work that way?

    “A real agnostic believes that the human intellect is not capable of answering the big questions.”

    I’m surprised you didn’t use the phrase ‘no true agnostic…’ but perhaps that is because that is too close to the name of your fallacious reasoning. The use of agnostic before atheist just inserts a clarification that his atheism is not with absolute certainty, but based upon a lack of evidence. So it is used to temper implications of certainty, but does not mean that he thinks it’s a 50/50 proposition.

    You are asserting that the human intellect is incapable of answering big question. Really? Why do you say that? Perhaps it allows you to maintain whatever beliefs you want while denying any threats against it.

  43. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2014 at 4:19 am

    DrJoe,

    “Why not let people continue to have faith and belief in a God and leave them alone?”

    Because they won’t leave us alone…
    This is some of what we have to put up with: “in god we trust” on US banknotes, prayers before parliament, presidents and prime ministers invoking god at every opportunity, restrictions on abortion, restrictions on stem cell research, relentless efforts to have creationism taught in public schools, religious monuments on public land, blasphemy laws, discrimination against women and homosexuals….

    And because they won’t leave their children alone…
    Their children are indoctrinated into accepting female genital mutilation, sexual repression, homophobia, misogyny, burkas, suicide bombing etc etc. It’s a form of child abuse that we can have no effect on except by tearing down the religious views of the parents, so that their children can see there is another view that can break the cycle of religious heritage from generation to generation.

    “Atheistic arrogance is so predictable”

    What? As opposed to religion? You have a lot to learn about arrogance my friend.

    “You know, if religion or faith is a PERSONAL choice outside the realm of science and if religion or faith “doesn’t bother with science,” then what the hell do you care if people have religious beliefs?”

    Because their religious belief is never just personal. It has to be proselytised. It has to be written into law. And because I don’t want my freedom restricted by someone else’s religious beliefs. And because they have children that suffer their indoctrination.

    “Why does it offend you?”

    Why does clitoridectomy offend me?
    Why does homophobia offend me?
    Why does misogyny offend me?
    Really?

    “Why do you consider it your obligation to enlist the choir in meaningless rah-rah torch-burning?”

    My friend, the push back by the non-religious against the abuse by religious of their own women, children, and homosexuals amongst their congregations is no meaningless rah rah torch burning.

    “Let religious people do what they want without your sniping and you do what you want and neither bothers the other”

    Let religious people do what they want?
    Let me tell you that if it wasn’t for the push back against religion back by the non-religious, this society would not be worth living in.

    “My objection is that he says faith is a personal choice, then goes on to rail about it. What’s the point?”

    The point is that Steven Novella wants to ensure that their faith does remain just personal.
    My point, on the other hand, is that it is impossible for a religious person to keep his faith personal. At the very least he’s going to be indoctrinating his children.

    “One can be intellectually open and think critically and still believe there is a God and be religious”

    Only if you don’t apply your intellectual openness and critical thinking to your god and your religion.

    “I guess what bothers me is your superior attitude”

    His superior attitude? What? As opposed to the superior attitude of religion? A religion that indoctrinates people from cradle to grave and seeks to restrict the freedom on those who do not believe. That’s what bothers me.

    “People of faith are intellectuals and thinkers and scientists, and their faith does nothing to reduce their intellectual credentials except….”

    Except where their faith is concerned. Then their critical thinking skills seem to desert them entirely.

    “That’s what bothered me so much about SN’s opinion, that he thought that this article which was addressed to people of faith was somehow meant to imply that people of faith could not “doubt” things scientifically or intellectually. I don’t think the article said that at all.”

    Not only that, but SN did not say that either.
    Read the article again please.
    What bothered you so much was an opinion that was not even stated!

    “Yeah, you and BJ7 find it difficult to “respect anyone who has religious faith.” That, my friend, is arrogance”

    I don’t respect anyone who has religious faith because they have either unquestioningly accepted everything they were told, or abandoned the hard task of following through their doubts with critical thinking. And I said I find it “difficult” to respect anyone who has religious faith. My own father was very religious and I know that he had doubts just like I did. He didn’t face up to the hard task of critically evaluating his doubts and simply fell back into un-critical belief. He once told me not to think too much, which is how he dealt with his doubts. I loved my father, but I find it difficult to respect him for his back pedalling on his religion.

    “You and BJ7 can reject faith and God and all that, but disrespecting people who have chosen to live their lives in a faith-centered, God-fearing way is truly arrogant. Like YOU have the answer and these dolts don’t”

    Well, I chose my words carefully. I didn’t say I disrespect people of faith, I said I find it difficult to respect them. I hope you can see the difference. But, yes, I know I’ve found the answer, and I know that have failed to find it. Possibly they were more effectively indoctrinated than I was. Perhaps their life circumstances were such that they found religion soothing. Perhaps death frightens them too much.

    “They believe in A, and you don’t. Why are you so bothered by that? Why are atheists so condescending to people who believe other than they do? I dunno”

    I truly hope you do know now.
    Except for the word “condescending”. I was one of those believers once, so I understand, at least to some extent, the chains that bind them.

    “Some think that faith and critical thinking “clash,” as if one cannot be a person of faith and still be a critical thinker. That’s pretty arrogant, don’t ya think?”

    It’s not arrogant. It’s true. You cannot be a person of faith AND be a critical thinker where matters of faith are concerned. That are mutually incompatible. Either you accept faith and ignoring the evidence or you think critically about the evidence.

    “So then let’s isolate all the people of faith, ban them from the scientific professions, from holding political office, from voting, from juries, from breeding perhaps”

    Why do you insist on arguing against positions no one holds. No one, including SN, has argued that religious people cannot have critical thinking skills as far as their professional or political activities are concerned. However, their critical thinking skills seem to desert them as far as their religion is concerned. Therefore they need to isolate their non- critical religious views from their professional and political activities. I hope you understand this now.

  44. grabulaon 17 May 2014 at 4:46 am

    @BJ7

    Excellent points all…

    “It has to be proselytised. It has to be written into law”

    In fact, quite a few religions REQUIRE this.

  45. mumadaddon 17 May 2014 at 6:05 am

    Joe,

    “But what SN did recommend was that we isolate and wall off those people of faith”

    No, he didn’t. He talked about walling off the faith itself, not the faithful. It’s not a good idea to let religious ideology inform social policy or science.

    It’s the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph; for some reason my phone won’t let me paste it here. Will you admit that you’ve been arguing against a strawman? Or will you accuse me of “sucking up” and blithely continue?

  46. Bruceon 17 May 2014 at 6:53 am

    DrJoe seems to be unable to actually read or comprehend what other people write. It is a very common theme of all his ramblings.

  47. RickKon 17 May 2014 at 7:09 am

    DrJoeinCA – you avoided answering pretty much all of my questions. Your one response was: “The more arrogant stance is disrespecting the people who hold views contrary to yours.”

    Did Steve say “religious people are stupid”, or did he criticize religious thinking? Did he Edwards, or did he contradict what Edwards was saying? Did Steve say PEOPLE of faith must be contained or walled off? Or did he say their ideas (“faith”) can be contained?

    And didn’t you yourself say that people must themselves prevent their “faith” from affecting other parts of their lives, like jury duty or science?

    Do you understand that this country is built on the right to freely and vigorously criticize ideas?

    Do you really think it is arrogant to speak out against ideas with which you disagree?

    A large portion of this country believes:
    (1) in deities and magic and superstition and zombies,
    (2) that these magical beliefs should directly influence public policy and be used as the basis to judge other people’s behavior;
    (3) that such matters of “faith” do not require any validation through testing or proof; and
    (4) that these magical beliefs should be “respected” to the point of being beyond challenge or question – that it is impolite to criticize them.

    DrJoeinCA – Can you see how that stance might be considered arrogant? Or do you feel some ideas should never be questioned or criticized?

    You are equating “criticism of faith” as “criticism of people of faith”, and trying to use that stance to limit criticism of “faith”. Since we see what you are doing, and since it is an invalid approach, may we humbly ask you to stop?

    Finally, often people who are on the wrong side of an argument, whose facts are weaker, whose position is weaker, will view the advocates of the winning side of the argument as “arrogant”. It’s human nature.

    Do you think it is just possible that this may be influencing your reaction?

  48. Steven Novellaon 17 May 2014 at 7:21 am

    DrJoe – I did not say that. You really need to read the article again (if you even read it the first time).

    I did not say people of faith need to be walled off – I said that faith, at best, can be walled off (faith itself, not people of faith). Meaning that people of faith keep their faith separate from their scientific and critical thinking. This is worth pointing out because this mostly does not happen. People use faith to inform their empirical beliefs about the world, and (as in the many examples I gave here) to limit their critical thinking.

    You said that faith is not the enemy of doubt, but I quoted an article saying exactly that – that faith and doubt cannot coexist, as one will banish the other. I am responding to that claim.

    You said faith has nothing to do with science, but I was addressing the quoted claim that faith should trump science.

    Really, you’re embarrassing yourself. Read the article.

  49. RickKon 17 May 2014 at 7:22 am

    hardnose said: “A real agnostic believes that the human intellect is not capable of answering the big questions. Novella is the opposite of an agnostic.”

    What are the stars?

    Why is drinking from a cold stream safer than drinking from a warm stagnant pool?

    Why are some babies born with deformities?

    Why can I only see in the daytime?

    Why does the earth shake and mountains erupt?

    What is stuff made of?

    These were all once big questions, hardnose. You wouldn’t be here enjoying the leisure to debate the limits of human intellect if it weren’t for human intellect’s ability to answer big questions. In fact, the current inventory of “big questions” has been completely shaped and defined by human intellect.

    I think it is arrogant for someone to claim knowledge they don’t have. Is it any less arrogant to claim ignorance they don’t have? Does the fact that human intellect might answer some of the current set of “big questions” bother you in some way? Do you think science ruins mystery?

    Suddenly I feel the need to quote Tim Minchin, so I’ll stop now.

  50. mumadaddon 17 May 2014 at 7:30 am

    Joe,

    “We should “contain” faith? “Wall it off?” ”

    Oh, so you did read it then? Two comments later:

    “I guess what bothers me is your superior attitude as expressed by: “At best faith can be contained, walled off in a tiny corner (such as deism).””

    Yes, obviously you did; you even quoted it. Two comments later:

    “is why he is acting so superior and condescending to people of faith, so much so that he walls them off and puts them in a corner as if they are contagious.”

    Ah, there you go, nice little sleight of hand and twisting of the meaning of what was actually said. Well done, sir.

    Did anyone notice? Did get away with it? I think so! Next comment:

    ” Novella said people of faith should be contained and walled off, and I wondered why he adopted that superior, arrogant attitude toward them.”

  51. sonicon 17 May 2014 at 10:54 am

    I think it’s called Tu quoque when one attempts to turn an attack against the attacker– as in “No, the religious people are arrogant…”
    Tu quoque– is that the correct usage?

    The OtherJohn Mc-
    In reply to question to elmer Re: Hitchens and muslim genocide-
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/10/14/ffrf-recap/
    (starts about paragraph 8) and includes-
    “Basically, what Hitchens was proposing is genocide. Or, at least, wholesale execution of the population of the Moslem world until they are sufficiently cowed and frightened and depleted that they are unable to resist us in any way, ever again.”

    I don’t know if PZ Myers is a credible source on this or not.

    I’m not sure about the designation ‘agnostic atheist’. Many English speakers would agree with this quote-
    “An agnostic position is one that leaves open the question whether there exists a god or gods, professing to find such a question unanswered or unanswerable. For the atheist, the question has been answered, and in the negative.”
    Jaroslav Pelikan

  52. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 11:37 am

    I think that all things should be open to questioning. Such as: Why does the word ‘doubt’ have the letter ‘b’ in it?
    Should I just accept that spelling on faith?

  53. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Novella: Lemme be clear on this. Faith is incompatible with critical thinking, right? And yet, people of faith can be critical thinkers, right? So someone whose faith is important to them, whose faith guides their day-to-day behavior and provides a moral foundation to their lives, this person can still be a critical thinker, right?

    But when this person has a doubt about his faith and his religious elders advise him how to deal with that doubt by non-critical thinking means, you have a problem with that, right? Why does this offend you? Why wouldn’t you think that the person of faith would continue to rely on their faith through moments of doubt?

    You criticize “faith” as irrational. Are you not making a judgment about people who have that faith?

    It’s one thing to say — in one sentence — that people of faith should keep their faith out of situations such as science that require critical thinking. I agree with that. Perhaps you were trying to say this when you said faith can be “contained” and “walled off.” Maybe I haven’t read enough of your writing to appreciate when you are less than exact.

  54. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 12:09 pm

    BJ7: So much personal stuff there. You’re equating faith with religion with all kinds of messed up behavior including child abuse, homophobia, misogyny. No way to respond to all that other than to say that’s messed up behavior.

  55. Bronze Dogon 17 May 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Context is extremely important, and people like Joe often do their best to downplay it.

    There was a time on an Armored Core forum when a troll came in to express his hatred of the game and how stupid we are for talking so much about mech parts. We asked him if he hated the game so much, why did he come to the forum? We could honestly ask that question because Armored Core is a video game. It was an innocent hobby we did in our own homes, and had a forum specifically made for talking about the game. We had no reason to believe the troll was significantly affected by our decision to play the game, and to our knowledge, no one was intrusively insisting that he had to like the game. Armored Core is very much a niche series, so it’s not like it was advertised excessively, either.

    If religion was merely a private hobby and people kept their faith largely to themselves, we wouldn’t feel such an urgent need to talk about it. The problem is that the faithful generally don’t keep it to themselves. It’s commonplace for people to insert religious thinking and blind faith into matters that concern other people. Business. Politics. Culture. Education. They’ve controlled the dialogue to make atheism a bad word and demonize atheists as soulless, heartless, or otherwise sub-human, and thus a target for bigotry. Faith is also used to justify many other forms of bigotry against women, other races, other religions, sexual orientations, and gender identity. I don’t see a corresponding benefit to keep faith around that can’t be obtained through secular means.

    Questioning faith’s value is one of the few ethical ways we can push back against religion’s excessive and unethical intrusions into our public lives. If they’re so uncomfortable with arguing about the topic, why is it not equally taboo for people to make declarations of faith as it is to question those declarations? It’s also commonplace for any disadvantaged group to have their concerns dismissed as inflated as well as dismissed for having a vulgar or militant tone no matter how politely they express their view or how moderate their position actually is.

    An important matter to bring up is that most atheists I know don’t consider people of faith to be inherently mentally deficient. I prefer to disassociate myself with those that do. If we seriously thought it was an inherent deficiency, we wouldn’t be advocating discussion as a useful undertaking. We think the problem comes from non-inherent features like fallacious modes of thought, false premises, and ignorance. In principle, these are all things that can be fixed by convincing arguments. If we’re wrong, they should try to understand what we actually think so they can correct our mistakes.

    Another important issue I want to elaborate on is the common inability to separate ideas from the people that hold them. I can respect a person even if they have some wrong ideas. The problem comes when people take criticism of their ideas too personally. The open-mindedness and rationality that allow you change your mind if you’re given good evidence should be things you take pride in. Critical thinking includes the ability to recognize what constitutes good evidence. Good evidence requires rigorous efforts to minimize the chance of self-deception and positing coherent hypotheses that make testable, falsifiable predictions instead of personally appealing hypotheses that can be ad hocked into uselessness. If you make a mistake because good but incomplete evidence pointed you the wrong way, it’s not an insult to your character if new evidence changes the direction. You don’t need to have been right, you need the ability to become right by correcting your position.

    Faith seems to be the opposite, working to create the illusion of having been right, presuming that new evidence will eventually vindicate the faith, rather than be willing to change as new evidence comes in. It defines good evidence as that which agrees with the faith and reinforces the arrogant assumption of correctness and bad evidence as that which brings doubt. Faith makes humility and open-mindedness into vices instead of virtues.

    One trope that annoys me is the assertion that a group is only interested in patting themselves on the back and feeling superior. Well, I think everyone is guilty of that to some degree. In principle, I think back-patting is only a problem if it causes a neglect for the real discussion. In practice, I’ve found that complaints about back-patting are usually an excuse to avoid that discussion by diverting time and effort onto irrelevancies. I’d rather go through the evidence and logic to see who’s got the more accurate explanation of reality.

  56. Steven Novellaon 17 May 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Joe – I was not less than exact. You simply misinterpreted what I wrote. Everyone else seemed to have no problem.

    What you are describing above – having faith and being a critical thinker in other areas – is called compartmentalization. That is another way of saying – walling off your faith so that it does not intrude into other intellectual areas.

    Faith is incompatible with critical thinking in that they cannot occupy the same intellectual sphere – and I quoted multiple advocates of faith who are advocating this position.

    This does not mean you cannot have faith in one domain, and be a critical thinker in another. I never said that. That is why people compartmentalize or “wall off” their faith.

    Many people, of course, don’t.

    And I am not “offended.” You are introducing emotional terminology here. Perhaps that is just how you understand such issues. What I am concerned about is the pernicious effects of advocating for turning off critical thinking in favor of faith in any sphere, because it is unlikely to be contained (and there are countless examples of this).

    Also, when I say faith is irrational, I am quoting my Catholic education. Advocates of faith acknowledge that faith is fundamentally irrational – it is belief without logic and evidence. By definition.

  57. Steven Novellaon 17 May 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Bronze also brings up a good point – this blog is about science and critical thinking. Discussing the relationship between faith and critical thinking is pretty much in the sweet spot of what I write about and what my readers come her to read about and discuss. It is absurd to criticize the fact that I am discussing aspects of critical thinking.

  58. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Novella: As a Catholic then, you would appreciate the teachings of some who do not agree that reason and faith are incompatible. That’s YOUR conclusion. But that’s beside the point.

    Again, in your critique of the article you cited, you seemed to me to be offended by the fact that people of faith resort to their faith when they have doubts about their faith. As if they should turn to scientific/critical thinking to address a crisis of faith. I don’t get why this bothers you that people of faith stay in the faith realm.

    You want people to compartmentalize/wall off their faith, keep it separate from science. This is what they are doing when they have doubts about their faith. You talk this down as if this shows “faith trumps science.” It doesn’t show that at all.

    They don’t try to bother you when they deal internally with their faith. They don’t intrude upon your scientific realm. I just think you went out of your way to make this a faith vs reason situation when it really isn’t.

  59. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 2:02 pm

    A good example of faith intruding on science,critical thinking and massively stepping on other people’s toes is the climate change issue. We have public figures in positions of power and influence telling us that AGW is not a problem,because only god controls what happens to us not man’s contribution of CO2 (which only we can control) ,and that if we have faith in god’s power,then that is all the action necessary.
    This is a case where it indeed would be useful for people of faith to keep that safely walled off from the critical thinking parts of their brain.

    http://youtu.be/_7h08RDYA5E

    http://youtu.be/lGR6ezl0-Dw

  60. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 2:30 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq4Bc2WCsdE

    tmac57: Oh, come on. There are scientists, real scientists, who believe that the emergency that is climate change is a farce. No God involvement. This is not a faith thing. That’s like attributing homophobia and misogyny to “faith.”

  61. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 2:39 pm

    tmac: And lest we forget Penn and Teller…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v4Q9Wv10Ho&noredirect=1

  62. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 2:56 pm

    “Novella: As a Catholic then, you would appreciate the teachings of some who do not agree that reason and faith are incompatible. That’s YOUR conclusion. But that’s beside the point.”

    Sorry Joe, this is just wrong. I’m also Catholic educated, and took an interest in science from a young age. Every priest told me the exact same thing whenI tried to break faith down logically, as a young kid does. Faith isn’t subject to rational examination – it’s an emotion that instills a belief without physical evidence. It’s definitional.

    Now I realize what they were saying is obvious. Not a put-down of faith but a clarification of what faith is: faith is an emotional reaction that God is real regardless of the physical evidence. Faith isn’t arrived at via logical processes, so the faithful have to compartmentalize.

    This is obvious to the faithful AND scientists. It might be why scientists end up rejecting faith (as I did), but that doesn’t change the nature of what faith is.

  63. hardnoseon 17 May 2014 at 2:58 pm

    “Faith is incompatible with critical thinking in that they cannot occupy the same intellectual sphere”

    If a person has experiences with things that are not part of our “physical” world, they may be convinced their experiences are real. If the majority of our species, in all times and places, have had similar experiences, then it is not irrational to think the experiences may have some basis in “reality.”

    The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions.

    That is an automatic argument against any kind of religious/mystical reality. That argument is applied in every debate on these topics, and of course it was used in the afterlife debate.

    The logic is:
    We know that sometimes people have hallucinations and delusions. We know that sometimes people have religious experiences. Therefore religious experiences are caused by hallucinations or delusions.

    Now, can we call that “critical thinking” when it disobeys the most fundamental rules of logic?

    I am not saying religious experiences, NDEs and so on, are real. I have no opinion. I am saying that this example of materialist “reasoning” is blatantly defective.

  64. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Cartoons and Penn & Teller don’t think AGW is real? Well, I’m convinced.

    Don’t you think it’s sort of funny that when you use political affiliation to predict views on global warming, you get responses that fall right in line with the politics. When you use scientific training (especially specific to the field) you get an overwhelming consensus that it’s real. Hmmmm, who to trust? A bunch of politicos, or scientists trained to answer the question?

    And I love the Libertarian propoganda from Penn. Libertarian models of the world can’t accommodate shared problems, so when you come up against one you just simply ignore all the evidence and go on with your Ideological Model Pretend World! Yay!

    I remembering probing Joe for what he knows about geophysics when he was first here because he was saying AGW wasn’t real. He knows nothing about it, BUT knows that all of the scientists who have been studying it are wrong because it’s unknowable. Catch that? He knows nothing about it except that it isn’t known. One would think you would need some knowledge or training to make that determination, especially considering the scientific consensus. Not so much I guess.

  65. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 3:25 pm

    “The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions.

    But if we can’t measure them in any way, how do you know that they are there?

    “That is an automatic argument against any kind of religious/mystical reality. That argument is applied in every debate on these topics, and of course it was used in the afterlife debate.”

    Well then the these non-material entities ARE being perceived by our senses. You’ve already contradicted yourself. And I want to know: what are they?

    You tell me, I guess: What is a supernatural event? Can it be studied? What would it mean to NOT assume materialism in our research? Be open to a non-ordered universe? How can science study a capricious universe that doesn’t follow rules? Or do you want to say that these phenomena DO in fact follow rules? But if they do, aren’t they back in the material world? If not, why not?

    We’ve measured the world with materialist assumptions (it is an assumption not a flawed logical conclusion as you say) with fantastic success. You want us to believe that there are also other-than-material processes, but you cannot specific what they are, where they are, or how they differ from the material world – nothing.

    Who has the flawed logic again? I don’t really think you or any of the people at the after-life thread have REALLY thought about these issues, and that’s the real problem. Becasue if you answer the questions I’ve posed above, you see that we have to make material assumptions to study the universe with science.

  66. Steven Novellaon 17 May 2014 at 3:37 pm

    hardnose is completely off base, and Steve12 already pointed out some contradictions.

    That is not materialist logic – that is a straw man. Science allows for inference. Things don’t have to be directly measured. But science does follow methodological naturalism, because it has to. It doesn’t work otherwise.

    hardnose also doesn’t seem to understand what faith is, which he falsely equated believing in the paranormal, and then tried to argue – but what if there is a good reason to believe in the paranormal. So many problems with this argument.

    Faith, by definition, is belief in excess of what can be argued from logic and evidence. I think this is an inherently flawed approach, as I argued above.

    Further, scientists following methodological naturalism don’t dismiss paranormal claims out of hand as he suggests. Rather, if they were genuine anomalies, that could be demonstrated reliably. The problem with paranormal beliefs is that the evidence for them are terrible.

    Finally, his cartoon of “materialist” logic exists only in the minds of believers falsely criticizing scientists and skeptics. A better way to state the actual logic is this – before you invent new physics or change the fundamental nature of reality, let’s rule out known phenomena that can explain the available evidence. See the difference?

  67. RickKon 17 May 2014 at 3:40 pm

    hardnose said: “The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions.”

    Natural phenomena have natural causes. If you do not believe that, hardnose, please provide examples that violate that simple rule.

    Materialists believe that:

    1) All evidence to date indicates that only material (natural) causes have any effect on the material (natural) world.

    2) A supernatural or immaterial being/force/cause that has no impact on the material/natural world is indistinguishable from a being/force/cause that doesn’t exist.

  68. ccbowerson 17 May 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Steve says:

    “And I am not “offended.” You are introducing emotional terminology here. Perhaps that is just how you understand such issues.”

    Then DrJoe responds

    “Again, in your critique of the article you cited, you seemed to me to be offended by the fact that people of faith resort to their faith when they have doubts about their faith.”

    Really? Either you didn’t read what Steve wrote or you can’t help yourself from projecting emotions and misunderstanding the arguments onto others. Many of your statements stem from your misunderstanding and arguments that you attribute to others.

  69. ccbowerson 17 May 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Bringing up Penn and Teller only demonstrates that there are other ideologies that can lead to motivated reasoning.

    No one is arguing that religious motivations are the only types of motivating ideologies, although they are particularly powerful and pervasive ones. In the Penn and Teller example, you have libertarianism as the driver of the motivated reasoning with regards to climate change.

    Different ideologies will have effects on the intellectual and emotional motivations with regards to each topic. For climate change, libertarianism and capitalism are probably most motivating, although some religious beliefs seem to play a role. For many social issues discussed above (sexual orientation, abortion, women’s rights, etc), religious ideologies are more relevant, at least in the U.S.

    Bringing up other ideologies doesn’t invalidate the role of religious ideologies on a given topic. These are not mutually exclusive effects.

  70. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 4:25 pm

    DrJoe- ccbowers answered the Penn and Teller aspect quite well,but regarding the ‘real scientists that don’t accept AGW’,that isn’t even the point that I was making,since they are making a (flawed and or spurious in my opinion) science case for their position,while the politicians,religious leaders,pundits et al that I am referring to,are making their case based on the faith that god alone controls weather and the universe,and can halt any calamity that besets us if we only just believe and worship him. If one has faith in such a proposition,then they would totally feel fine about continuing to pollute our atmosphere with ever growing amounts of greenhouse gasses without consequence,and vote against anyone who attempted to caution otherwise. That is real harm based on a faith position alone,not science based.

  71. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Steve12: Not to dispute your memory of what you were taught, but my experience was different. Just to look it up a bit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fides_et_Ratio

    I bring up Penn and Teller as skeptics. They are not sure we’re causing climate change, not sure if we can fix it, and not sure that we know how to fix it.

    Novella: See above. Some people don’t think that reason and faith are incompatible. Fancy that. It may be what you would call a difference of opinion.

    ccbowers: “Bringing up other ideologies doesn’t invalidate the role of religious ideologies on a given topic.” But hopefully what it disputes is the idea that “religious ideologies” “intrude” on such heavy issues as climate change. A couple of people preaching that God will make everything better is no worse that people thinking that AlGore is a prophet.

    Not really sure about religious ideologies and “women’s rights.” I do know that the Catholic Church intrudes on the issue of abortion because it teaches that it is the taking of a human life. When I read discussions from people who cannot even explain what life is and when it begins and yet think it’s ok for that “thing” to be snuffed out, and I compare that to the CC’s taking the side of the unborn, I guess I’m not that sorry that there is another side to the debate.

  72. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 4:46 pm

    tmac57: But my point is that there are other non-religious deniers or doubters of climate change. To hook it onto people who believe in God is inaccurate, other than that there is a fringe which believes that what happens is God’s punishment for our misdeeds. I’m sure there are many religious people who believe in climate change and think we have to do something about it.

  73. hardnoseon 17 May 2014 at 5:26 pm

    “before you invent new physics or change the fundamental nature of reality, let’s rule out known phenomena that can explain the available evidence.”

    You don’t have to invent new physics or change the fundamental nature of reality to accept that some “paranormal” experiences could have some validity. I am not saying they do, I am saying that it would not contradict anything that science already knows.

    If there were ESP, for example, that would mean information can be received from a remote source, with no “physical” contact. We already know that is possible, since we all get remote information on our cell phones. (And we used to get it on our TVs and radios as well).

    Let’s assume that not all types of fields have already been discovered, since we have no reason to think all have been discovered. Then it seems possible that information can be transmitted and received by living things with no “physical” contact.

    We already know that we can perceive distant objects by receiving electromagnetic information (visible light) that bounces off them.

    Just consider the possibility that this sort of thing occurs in ways we do not yet understand. ESP might be a quite ordinary phenomenon, which just happens to be beyond our current knowledge of nature.

    No laws of physics need to be changed or broken. New understandings would have to be added, but that is to be expected in science, as it evolves.

    Try not to be stuck in what is already known.

    As for the evidence for ESP being terrible — that is definitely open for debate. If you actually read the literature carefully you will see it can’t all be discounted.

  74. RickKon 17 May 2014 at 5:27 pm

    steve12 said: “We’ve measured the world with materialist assumptions (it is an assumption not a flawed logical conclusion as you say)”

    Correct. But it is also important to remember that the “materialist assumption” was not dreamed up, de novo, by some secret band of Atheists Templar and foisted upon a bunch of innocent theists.

    The “materialist assumption” that hardnose hates so much was developed almost entirely by devout theists who over centuries were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the unavoidable conclusion that natural phenomena have natural causes. In all their myriad attempts to find evidence of the direct hand of God pushing some element of the natural world they failed. So many of those divine and magical explanations have been discarded by history. Do we remember Newton for his alchemy or his explanation of God’s hand in setting the planets in motion? No, we remember only his God-free explanations of gravity and light and mathematics.

    Human knowledge was never advanced by those who refused to relinquish their faith in magical causation. It has only been advanced by those who were honest enough to follow the evidence wherever it led and brave enough to face the implications of what it told them.

    hardnose lacks (or refuses to admit) any historical perspective.

  75. RickKon 17 May 2014 at 5:43 pm

    hardnose, you want us to “accept that some “paranormal” experiences could have some validity. ”

    Have paranormal claims gone untested? Is there no forum for testing them? Is there no reward to the person who successfully proves such powers exist? No fame awaits? No television coverage? No movie deal? Is there insufficient incentive for all these people with superpowers to come forward?

    And you said: “ESP might be a quite ordinary phenomenon, which just happens to be beyond our current knowledge of nature.”

    Why do you start with the assumption that ESP is real? Do you assume alien UFO abductions are real? Do you assume reports of demons, fairies or the living Elvis are real? How do you brush away centuries of hoax-busters and failed experiments and just jump to the conclusion that ESP is a physical phenomenon that requires explanation?

    500 years ago, the vast majority of the population of Europe KNEW that witchcraft and dark magic influenced their lives and/or the lives of people around them. There were MILLIONS of claims. Except to a doubtful few, the idea that witchcraft was nothing more than popular delusion was unthinkable.

    And yet here you are, armed with MUCH less supporting evidence, jumping happily to the starting assumption that paranormal powers are real and need more investigation than the endless testing that they’ve already failed.

    And you do this while criticizing others for being ideologically driven. How do you block the cognitive dissonance? Perhaps you are just exercising impressive powers of faith?

  76. elmer mccurdyon 17 May 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I haven’t read the whole thread mainly because it’s such a trivial subject (and also because the best commenters here – the ones with bona fide scientific and medical expertise – seem to have been largely driven away by one thing or another, and also because I really don’t like you people); however, as one who had arrived at the commonsense conclusion that the notion of God was a bit silly by the time I entered elementary school, my response to the many otherwise intelligent and admirable people who persist in believing in the dude is with a shrug. As far as I know, there exists religion of one sort or another in pretty much every society in, even where there have been attempts to eradicate it , and I tend to take this as evidence that this sort of belief is probably instinctual. But who knows, there are a lot of things going on in our brains that I suspect will be a matter of speculation forever.

    In any case, I’ve seen enough debates about Hitler and Stalin vs. the Taiping Rebellion and the Inquisition (etc.) to say that the practical consequences of religion vs. atheism are probably a wash in the aggregate. I also think that, for individuals, religion can have psychological benefits – happiness, courage, kindness – as long as one keeps it intellectually compartmentalized, as many are able to do. And as I’ve said before, Hitchens is a really good example of the negative real-world consequences of atheist evangelism.

    Speaking of which, there used to be a very useful online analysis of that Lancet study of the human costs of the Iraq was, but it seems to have disappeared. Apparently the author has better things to do. Oh well.

  77. elmer mccurdyon 17 May 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I swear, I really thought I’d caught all the typos in that.

  78. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 6:32 pm

    # RickKon 17 May 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks for clarifying this point. I sort of left it hanging!

  79. The Street Epistomelogiston 17 May 2014 at 6:36 pm

    I hope anyone who currently accepts the claim that ESP is real has the time to thoughtfully consider the questions in Ricks post above.

  80. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 6:44 pm

    “Steve12: Not to dispute your memory of what you were taught, but my experience was different. Just to look it up a bit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fides_et_Ratio

    1998 came after my catholic education was over – I’m feeling old.

    This document seems interesting – if for no other reason than it also seems to take postmodernism to task, which I like. Ulitimately, though, I disagree with the thesis.

    You’d have to make the a rationale case for believing God exists. For example, I don’t believe because I have this emotional feeling of the presence of God (obviously irrational), but because I did an experiment and people who pray to God X got what they prayed for, while people who prayed to God Y did not (rational). Now, however, it wouldn’t be faith any more – you’d have evidence.

    Do you see the difference? The definition of faith is believing for no reason beyond a feeling.

  81. hardnoseon 17 May 2014 at 6:48 pm

    [“The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions.

    Steve12: But if we can’t measure them in any way, how do you know that they are there?]

    I don’t know if they are there or not. I can’t just take for granted that they are NOT there, simply because we don’t know how to perceive them.

  82. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 7:45 pm

    tmac57: But my point is that there are other non-religious deniers or doubters of climate change. To hook it onto people who believe in God is inaccurate, other than that there is a fringe which believes that what happens is God’s punishment for our misdeeds. I’m sure there are many religious people who believe in climate change and think we have to do something about it.

    Sigh! Reading for content does not seem to be your strong suit Joe. I did not “hook” climate change denial onto believers. In fact I know of one high profile devote Christian who is a climate scientist who absolutely accepts AGW and speaks out about it publicly and often. She does this because she understands that her ‘god’ will not intervene no matter how bad things get,and that we are the ones who need to take action. Contrast that with those high profile people who basically say “don’t worry,because god has our back” like James Inholfe,John Shimkus, Joe Barton,and Rick Santorum.
    Those people may be fringe elements in your mind,but they are elected officials with REAL power,not some random person on the internet or street corner. Their faith needs to be walled off from their decision making in order for them to make rational decisions on matters that require scientific data and facts,not for it to intrude and make them suspicious that AGW and evolution are “lies from the pit of hell”,and that they really don’t need to know more than “god will protect us” in order to do their civic duty for the benefit and safety of ALL of their constituents.

  83. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Steve12: Yeah, that whole God thing is sort of necessary.

    John Paul: “Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them.”

    “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    “When [the human being] claims that “God does not exist” (cf. Ps 14:1), he shows with absolute clarity just how deficient his knowledge is and just how far he is from the full truth of things, their origin and their destiny.”

    Sorry to break that to you.

  84. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 7:54 pm

    tmac57: “The politicians,religious leaders,pundits et al that I am referring to,are making their case based on the faith that god alone controls weather and the universe,and can halt any calamity that besets us if we only just believe and worship him.”

    I can’t specifically speak to which of the four you named actually thinks out loud (“makes the case”) that “God alone controls the weather.” But there are those who question the science behind climate change, not from a God perspective, but from a scientific one.

  85. steve12on 17 May 2014 at 8:02 pm

    “I don’t know if they are there or not. I can’t just take for granted that they are NOT there, simply because we don’t know how to perceive them.”

    Hardnose, I asked a series of Qs that I think you need to actually respond to if you really want to question one of the foundational assumptions of all of science:

    What would it mean to NOT assume materialism in our research? Be open to a non-ordered universe?

    How can science study a capricious universe that doesn’t follow rules? Or do you want to say that these phenomena DO in fact follow rules?

    But if they do follow rules, aren’t they back in the material world? If not, why not?

  86. ccbowerson 17 May 2014 at 8:31 pm

    “I don’t know if they are there or not. I can’t just take for granted that they are NOT there, simply because we don’t know how to perceive them.”

    That is the lesson of Russell’s teapot. It is an obvious lesson that appears lost on you. If someone says something exists with no evidence, the burden is not on me to prove that it is isn’t there, but the burden is on them to show otherwise.

    Yes, there could exist any number of things if our only limit is the human imagination, but why should we take any assertion seriously that has no evidence to support it?

    The answer is we shouldn’t, but you seem to think otherwise. You also seem to put supernatural explanations on par with natural ones, even though no supernatural events have ever been demonstrated to exist under close scrutiny. Somehow they tend to have occured in the past, or while very few people are looking. With cameras aplenty in our current world, we should be seeing a huge increase in documented supernatural events (to the extent that they interact with the natural world).

  87. grabulaon 17 May 2014 at 9:15 pm

    @Sonic

    “I don’t know if PZ Myers is a credible source on this or not.”

    As Myers has got older he’s got over the top crotchety. I can’t even handle reading his blog these days because his opinions have become more extreme and narrow minded. To be fair, I’m sure Hitchens would have liked to see the eradication of all religion, but not necessarily in the extreme way Myers implies. I don’t think Hitchens was completely against going to war to fight religion but it’s a big leap to genocide, especially when you consider we’re talking about a religion and not a race or people.

    @Joe

    “whose faith guides their day-to-day behavior and provides a moral foundation to their lives, this person can still be a critical thinker, right?”

    No, if faith is what guides your day to day life you live an irrational life. You make decisions based on irrational beliefs, requiring no evidence but whatever you can create to rationalize it.

    “You criticize “faith” as irrational. Are you not making a judgment about people who have that faith?”

    Yes, that judgement is that they choose to follow irrational belief over rational thought. It doesn’t mean they can’t make rational decisions, however they’re reasoning is always suspect.

    “No way to respond to all that other than to say that’s messed up behavior.”

    All irrational behaviour based around faith in religion.

    “you seemed to me to be offended”

    Seemed…it’s already been pointed out you’re perception was wrong, why can’t you let it go?

    “You talk this down as if this shows “faith trumps science.””

    Didn’t teach you reading comprehension at the woo school you attended? That’s exactly the point of the article, that some of faith advocate leaving behind rational thinking for faith. Seriously dude, read the frickin article.

    “They don’t intrude upon your scientific realm.”

    Nice strawman by the way Joe. We’re not just talking science here, though it’s an issue. We’re talking all aspects of life. I’m ok with you believeing what you want in your homes or in your churches and sunday schools. It’s when you insist that I should live by your faith that it becomes an issue, regardless of the domain, be it politics, science, etc..

    “That’s like attributing homophobia and misogyny to “faith.””

    And generally they are, or do you live under a rug. You’re being especially obtuse this time aroud Joe.

    “They are not sure we’re causing climate change, not sure if we can fix it, and not sure that we know how to fix it. ”

    That’s a healthy skeptical attitude. Most of us have accepted it’s happening, the evidence is overwhelming, the other two are still up in the air.

  88. grabulaon 17 May 2014 at 9:16 pm

    @hardnose

    “If a person has experiences with things that are not part of our “physical” world”

    Stop trying to build this false dichotomy between a natural world and a suprnatural world. You can’t support a rational argument with irrationality.

    “The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions. ”

    wrong, wrong and wrong. First, material mythology, really. The woo is strong in this one. If you can’t percieve it, it’s not dismissed by science (that’s probably the word you’re looking for instead of materialist mythos) out of hand. It’s plausibility is explored, a hypothesis is established and evidence is sought out. If the evidence fails to support, science, unlike woo, moves on. Refer to all the woo you want but if it has no foundation in science and no evidence to show us its plausible then you’re not doing yourself any favors by bringing it up here.

    “Therefore religious experiences are caused by hallucinations or delusions.”

    See, hardnose, now you’re starting to get it!

    “I am not saying religious experiences, NDEs and so on, are real.”

    That’s bull and you know it. You’ve argued for every form of woo, and against every rational thought since you started commenting on this blog.

    “Let’s assume that not all types of fields have already been discovered, since we have no reason to think all have been discovered.”

    We also don’t assume anything. If evidence for more fields presents itself then we can follow the evidence.

    “Try not to be stuck in what is already known.”

    Ah yes, the classic open your mind gambit, but hardnose’ mind has already left the building…

  89. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Grabula: So if someone’s faith “guides their day-to-day behavior and provides a moral foundation to their lives” that’s an “irrational” life? I wonder whether you consider this a bad thing that someone of faith acts according to the teaching of their faith. Or maybe you are just making a scientific observation that their life is “irrational,” whatever that means.

    The messed up behavior you mentioned is NOT a function of religion or of someone who leads a life based on faith.

    Whether Novella says he is not “offended” or not, his post made it seem as if he took offense at how someone addressed problems with their faith. It’s an observation.

    I read the frickin article and it talked about what people of faith should do if they have doubts about their faith. It did not have any bearing at all upon “science” or decisions made which require scientific thinking. It was purely advice to people about their faith. Which is why I wondered what part of this innocuous article which was addressed to people of faith and that had no bearing at all upon science set Novella off, offended him. And the fact that he morphed it into a faith versus science discussion — which it wasn’t — is also kind of interesting. Why did it bother him that the elders of a church would write to the members of that church and advise them on matters of faith?

    Oh, so it’s ok with you if I restrict my religious belief and faith to somewhere indoors and non-public? As long as I don’t take it outside and maybe let it affect my behavior or my decision making about important stuff like abortion, huh? That’s damn white of you. Where are you getting this garbage? You think you have a right to tell anyone how they should behave and how they should make decisions because you are a “scientist” and an atheist and your decision-making is somehow “better?” Get real. You can make decisions about abortion that affect people, and I can’t because I’m religious? There’s another example of arrogance.

    Homophobia and misogyny are products of “faith?” Where are you getting this babble?

  90. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Dr Joe- Here are the first two sentences of Steve’s post

    I strive to have a fairly nuanced approach to religion in this blog and my other skeptical outreach. In brief, I think that faith is a personal choice that needs to be kept outside the realm of science and is not a legitimate basis for public policy in a free and pluralistic society.

    How does that square with your “It did not have any bearing at all upon “science” or decisions made which require scientific thinking.”?

    Again, reading comprehension fail.

  91. tmac57on 17 May 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Oops,I left out the second cut and paste from the article to contrast what Steve posted:

    I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it’” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord,” New Era, Feb. 2001, 9).

    If science has no way to dispel,or cause someone to question a faith held belief that comes into conflict with science (evolution,genesis etc.) then how can that not have any bearing on scientific thinking? Once you put faith above science,then any scientific discovery that contradicts a teaching of that faith would have to be denied…no?

  92. DrJoeinCAon 17 May 2014 at 11:32 pm

    tmac57: The article to which he was referring was an intra-church article meant to address how a member should address questions of their faith. It had no bearing on science or decisions made which require scientific thinking. He made it into a science vs faith riff.

    Novella believes that faith and reason/science are incompatible. The Catholic Church, for one, does not believe that is so. In any event, having found that faith and science are incompatible, he discusses an article which relates ONLY to faith. In the article, the church elders did not say that a member with doubt about their faith should turn to science for resolution of those doubts. They gave ways for the member to reinforce that faith within the framework of the church.

    As an example not in the article, perhaps a church member would question why God would permit evil to exist, why God would permit innocent children to die of horrible diseases. Do you think that the church would ask the member to turn to science for answers to these questions of faith? The answer is no, of course not. The church would recommend that the member turn to the church for answers. That’s the point of the article that was cited.

    So, if that is the point of the article as I think it was, what, I ask again, got Novella’s panties in a bunch about it?

  93. grabulaon 18 May 2014 at 12:10 am

    @Joe

    You’re prone to repeating yourself ad nauseum and ignoring the answers we give you, for example:

    “So if someone’s faith “guides their day-to-day behavior and provides a moral foundation to their lives” that’s an “irrational” life?”

    Yes, I’ve said this already. There’s nothing rational about faith, what are you not getting about this? You’re problem is you’re trying to turn it into a moral judgement. I don’t care what they believe, as long as it does not affect me. The problem inevitably is that it does.

    “The messed up behavior you mentioned is NOT a function of religion or of someone who leads a life based on faith. ”

    It’s a function of the darker parts of the human psyche, religion provides the excuse. I’m ok with eliminating as many excuses as possible for terrible behaviour.

    “Whether Novella says he is not “offended” or not, his post made it seem as if he took offense at how someone addressed problems with their faith. It’s an observation.”

    No, it’s an assumption, one you continue to make no matter how many times he tells you you are wrong in that assumption. Spinning wheels much?

    “It was purely advice to people about their faith.”

    Novellas article was about how some of faith view thier approach to rational thinking – that when you can’t explain something outside of your faith it’s better to choose an irrational path and assume your faith will cover it. YOU turned it into a faith versus science discussion.

    “You can make decisions about abortion that affect people, and I can’t because I’m religious? There’s another example of arrogance”

    Here’s where your ignorance works against you Joe. I am firmly for an argument on such things as abortion from a secular point of view. My leaning is pro-life though I understand the rational arguments for abortion, and can in some cases agree. In a perfect world all babies would be born all the time, but that’s not the case and people of faith tend to view it such black and white terms, which is naive and ignorant. Mindless adherence to a system of beliefs base on magical thinking is the problem, don’t mistake that for rational discourse.

    “Homophobia and misogyny are products of “faith?” Where are you getting this babble?”

    Stop with the strawmen already. No one here is claiming they are products of faith, but they are indeed popular with those of faith, who have no issue forcing those views on the public. My homosexual uncle can’t marry another man because God says it’s evil, you’re even more obtuse than I know you are if you think there’s something else behind that movement.

    “So, if that is the point of the article as I think it was, what, I ask again, got Novella’s panties in a bunch about it?”

    You do realize Dr. Novella’s blog post is STILL providing you with that answer, though you’re missing it again, and probably forever.

  94. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 12:51 am

    Grabula: “Novellas article was about how some of faith view thier approach to rational thinking – that when you can’t explain something outside of your faith it’s better to choose an irrational path and assume your faith will cover it. YOU turned it into a faith versus science discussion.” Read the article he wrote about. It had nothing to do with inability to explain something outside of one’s faith. Nothing at all.

    Would you like to define “irrational life?” Tell me how someone who believes in God and is religious and who believes their faith gives them a moral grounding and guides their daily behavior is “irrational.”

    “[messed up behavior] is a function of the darker parts of the human psyche, religion provides the excuse.” “No one here is claiming they are products of faith, but they are indeed popular with those of faith, who have no issue forcing those views on the public.” Seriously, where are you getting this crap?

    Me: “That’s like attributing homophobia and misogyny to “faith.”” You: “And generally they are, or do you live under a rug.”

    Your heterosexual uncle can’t marry his own daughter either, and that’s not because God says it’s evil.

    You claim that people of faith “force” their views on the public. What about forcing people of faith to finance abortions when they consider it murder? Does that count? See anything wrong with that? See anything wrong with people of faith defending the fetus from abortion at 24+ weeks because the mom changes her mind? People of faith have a philosophical and religious definition of when life begins. Scientists — those who lead rational lives — can’t decide what life is or when it begins. See anything wrong with people of faith jumping into the void and taking a stand?

    Nope, sorry. Still no answer to why Novella picked up an intra-church document and went all preachy about a conflict of science and faith.

  95. grabulaon 18 May 2014 at 12:58 am

    @Joe,

    cripes Joe, I’m not going to continue to answer your questions over and over again, especially since they have been answered by multiple people on this thread.

    “Seriously, where are you getting this crap? ”

    Watch the news? Read the interwebs? open your eyes once in a while?

    “Your heterosexual uncle can’t marry his own daughter either, and that’s not because God says it’s evil.”

    Actually this is also true. Probably try again with another more apt comparison. I see you’re a Christian though, thanks for showing us that. You might as well have said can’t marry an animal or inanimate object – those are also popular arguments of your faith to hide your homophobia and misogyny.

    “See anything wrong with people of faith jumping into the void and taking a stand?”

    Yes, the hubris you people show in “knowing” what is right and wrong, delivered to you in a book you can’t settle on an interpretation for and can’t provide even solid evidence for the people who wrote it (never mind that it’s the direct word of God).

    You’re a religious wingnut Joe, I’m only curious how you rationalize you’re devil-originated woo practice with your fear of gay people and your hatred of women and children?

  96. Ekkoon 18 May 2014 at 1:01 am

    Abortion and incest non sequitur comments by #93.
    On track for 400+, check.

  97. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 1:21 am

    Grabula: Now I’m a religious wing nut who hates women and children and fears gay people. Wow! Amazing how a rational thinker can infer all that information from posts. You must be one of the really bright ones too if you can form those conclusions with so little information. And you probably vote, which is really the scary part.

    So now we have a rational thinker whose arguments are reduced to invective. When in doubt, play the sex/race card.

    “you people” is another expression I like to hear from “rational” thinkers. As in, you people of faith who think that fetuses shouldn’t be killed because a woman is having a bad hair day.

    I tell you, you don’t take your medication for yourself. You take it for other people. And it helps you stay focused. And makes the voices not as loud.

  98. Ekkoon 18 May 2014 at 1:36 am

    ” As in, you people of faith who think that fetuses shouldn’t be killed because a woman is having a bad hair day. ”
    Lol – that characterization sounds legit…
    Work it Joe work it!

  99. grabulaon 18 May 2014 at 1:36 am

    @Joe

    I’m ok making those assumptions Joe, you’ve shown nothing but ignorance and naiveté in every post you participate in. You fail to read the pertinent blog entry, then ask the same questions over and over and over again without bothering to actually listen to what’s being explained to you, in my opinion way too patiently. All of these accusations you fling at me are certainly committed by you in every thread you participate in and I’m not beneath a little turnabout.

    You’re arguments are full of breaks with logic and the rational and there’s no point in you even being here since you’re input is next to worthless. You literally add nothing to an argument, and you support yourself with spurious thinking. There’s nothing about your style of discussion that’s worth the effort we put in here, because you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

    Answer me this Joe, why are you too busy to read the above posts to get the answers you are supposedly looking for? Why do you bother coming here, when in every thread you know you irrationality and woo think is going to be torn to its very foundations. Keep in mind you ignoring that fact doesn’t make it any less true.

    You are definitely a religious wingnut. How you can bring together your obvious interest in woo with your Christian beliefs I can’t understand but then when you are one of the irrational faithful, I guess it doesn’t have to make sense yes?

  100. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 2:24 am

    Grabula: I was attracted to the site for the opportunity to engage in lively discussions with superior intellects such as yours. I mean where else can one find the level of intelligence on display here. It’s overwhelming even to a moderately educated Christian such as I.

    Where else can one ask questions of one person and have four other people answer them and raise questions of their own while the first questions go wafting into the ether unanswered? Where else can one anticipate with some accuracy that after about six posts the invective will appear?

    The most appealing thing is the absolute choir-like fawning towards the host. Hey, Novella is a bright guy, a very bright guy. You guys think he’s the cat’s ass. He often talks about stuff that is way way over my head, and I don’t comment on that. There are times when he talks about stuff that I just don’t care about, and I don’t comment on that. But there are times when he oversteps, when he gets on the acupuncture or CAM kick, or in the present case talks about a conflict between faith and reason and speaks about it as it the matter is settled. And none of the choir calls him on it. It’s like members of a pride hanging around the big guy and roaring with the big guy and just waiting until an antelope comes by so they can all pounce. Just let someone challenge him and see how the members of the pride spring to his defense. It’s quite National Geographic.

    I think a lot of the condescending geniuses here are so used to not being challenged that they actually assume they are right because they agree with the big guy. Look at the first 5 or 6 posts after every Novella post. There’s everything there but the pom-poms. They mistake agreement for accuracy. The only excitement the geniuses get is trying to pounce on a non-believer.

    Well, I personally think that a lot of things are not settled. I know acupuncture and chiropractic work. Novella thinks it doesn’t. So what? I would even suggest that the chances are that some of Novella’s migraine patients use acupuncture and find benefit from it. Maybe he doesn’t know about it. How about that?

    I think it’s ok to believe in God and be religious and not have to constantly defend the beliefs. How about that? How about just accepting that someone believes in God and uses that as foundation for their life and yet can still contribute intelligent insights into some discussions without being called irrational? Would that work for you?

    Notice how it’s only the rational geniuses who use name-calling?

    As far as your last post, the “answer” I’m looking for is: what made Novella pick this intra-church article to write a faith/reason/science blog when the article has nothing to do with reason or science or the choice between faith and reason and is not written as such? But I’m spending so much time responding to your idiotic comments about my beliefs, my misogyny, my hatred of children and gays that it’s distracting. If you hadn’t made those idiotic comments, I wouldn’t have had to respond to them.

  101. grabulaon 18 May 2014 at 2:36 am

    @Joe

    I’m having a hard time believing you. You’ve shown no inclination to engage in honest discussion. You commit just about every fallacy in the book, way too consistently. You ignore important details, you ignore when people answer you. You are evasive and disingenuous. You assume we all believe Dr. Novellas’ what was it, the cats ass? He’s certainly a great example of how to be an effective skeptic, you should take a lesson from that. You make absolute statements about what you think we believe or are saying, then turn around and make absolute statements about what you know.

    How do you propose to have a conversation of any import based on your attitude?

  102. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 3:01 am

    DrJoe,

    “You claim that people of faith “force” their views on the public”
    It’s not a claim. It’s a fact. In god we trust. Prayers before parliament. Restrictions on abortion. Laws prohibiting gay marriage.

    “What about forcing people of faith to finance abortions when they consider it murder?”
    You don’t. You just pay taxes. The people decide via their political representatives where it is spent.

    “Does that count?”
    No. Bad argument. Do I get not to pay taxes because I disagree with subsidies to faith based schools?

    “See anything wrong with that?”
    Yes. Imagine the mess if everyone decided where their tax dollars go.

    “See anything wrong with people of faith defending the fetus from abortion at 24+ weeks because the mom changes her mind?”
    Firstly, she is not a mother. She is a pregnant woman. And, to answer your loaded question with a question: what about the psychological need for an abortion for a woman 8 weeks pregnant after she was raped by a stranger. If you don’t want an abortion in those circumstances, then don’t have one! But don’t force your religious views on others. That is the point you are missing.

    “People of faith have a philosophical and religious definition of when life begins”
    Pull the middle one.

    “Scientists — those who lead rational lives — can’t decide what life is or when it begins”
    What a bull$#!+ argument. Can you tell me the exact date that you stopped being an adolescent and became an adult?
    Hey, wait…

    “See anything wrong with people of faith jumping into the void and taking a stand?”
    Into the void? Taking a stand?
    You call forcing people, with well thought out rational views of their own, to adhere to your religious commands predicated on a two thousand year old amoral book jumping into the void and taking a stand?

  103. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 3:10 am

    “The most appealing thing is the absolute choir-like fawning towards the host”

    What a load of crap.
    I, for one, have specifically disagreed with the host’s opinion on this thread.
    And on a number of occasions in other threads.
    Others have done likewise.

    (Go to Jerry Coyne’s blog if you want to see fawning – and see how long you last before your posts are deep sixed)

  104. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 3:55 am

    ” Look at the first 5 or 6 posts after every Novella post”

    He can’t help it that he is right most of the time! (:

    Actually he can. He’s being studying it for decades. He even has 24 half hour lectures on “medical myths: lies, and half truths ; and another 24 half hour lectures on “your deceptive mind: a scientific guide to critical thinking skills” in “The Great Courses” series. You should avail your self of the latter at the very least.

    But look at this post, the second and third comments both disagree with some of what he said. And not one of them could be characterised as fawning.

  105. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 4:01 am

    “I know acupuncture and chiropractic work”

    No you don’t.

    You THINK you know they work. Listen to “Your Deceptive Mind” (see above) for some instruction on how your mind works to convince you things work that demonstrably do not work. Or read again the relevant thread on this blog. And this time try to understand what is being said instead of reflexly defending your deceptive mind.

  106. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 4:06 am

    “I think it’s ok to believe in God and be religious and not have to constantly defend the beliefs”

    It’s not okay, if your religion requires you to indoctrinate your children, to proselytise to the wider community, and to force your views on others through the enactment of laws based on your religious beliefs.

    I don’t want MY freedom compromised by YOUR religious views.

  107. mumadaddon 18 May 2014 at 5:38 am

    Joe,

    Why do you think religion should be immune to criticism? Do you sincerely think that an ideology that seeks to inform how we live, who we can and cannot love, how and when we procreate, when we can work or not; declares that it has the answers to questions such as universal origins, the ultimate truth and purpose of existence, eternal reward or punishment and how they are attained, should be insulated from dissent and questioning? For real? We should accept this bronze age ideology without question?

  108. grabulaon 18 May 2014 at 6:02 am

    mumadadd, Joe seems to think all his sacred cows should be immune to criticism, it’s the pattern he’s shown here anyway. Faith? Don’t go there. Acupuncture, no thanks. Evidence? Never heard of it.

  109. Bruceon 18 May 2014 at 6:25 am

    Oh, Joe likes evidence, but only if it backs up his world view, the quality of it is neither here nor there.

  110. Lukas Xavieron 18 May 2014 at 7:07 am

    “If you find that a question isn’t that important, set it aside in your mental “To Be Answered Later” file.”

    I think this is a great idea. I would just add one small addition: Keep an actual file of these questions. Don’t just stick to it as a mental exercise, but actually write down your questions and place them in a real, physical folder. Every now and again, check if any of the questions have been answered.

    I you do, I think you’ll notice that the file keeps growing and growing. More and more questions go into the folder, but very few ever come out. The answers that are supposed to come later never seem to show up. Religion promises answers, but rarely delivers anything but platitudes or outright nonsense.

  111. RickKon 18 May 2014 at 7:07 am

    Joe said: “How about just accepting that someone believes in God and uses that as foundation for their life and yet can still contribute intelligent insights into some discussions without being called irrational? Would that work for you?”

    Replace “God” with “UFOs” or “body thetans” or “midichlorians” in that sentence and it still holds true.

    So.

    Exactly what intelligent insights are because of the faith, and which are in spite of it?

    Joe said: “what made Novella pick this intra-church article to write a faith/reason/science blog when the article has nothing to do with reason or science or the choice between faith and reason and is not written as such? ”

    The article in question included: ” I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.’”

    Joe – How can you say this as anything other than directing the reader to choose faith over science and reason?

    I think you and Steve actually agree on much more than you’ll admit. Steve says that such faith-based thinking should be walled off from other parts of life, and you agree with him. You don’t think an evolutionary biologist should hang a sign in their lab saying “I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it.” Nor should decisions made in a jury box be based on faith regardless of the evidence.

    I’m curious – in which parts of life do you think decisions SHOULD be made on faith and not on evidence and reason? And do you think that your answer would agree with the answers given by a Jehovah’s Witness, a Scientologist or an elder of the FLDS? How would you decide if their faith decisions are better or worse than your faith decisions?

    You never answered my earlier question – is faith a virtue? If you believe so, why?

  112. Steven Novellaon 18 May 2014 at 7:30 am

    Hardnose – you persist if a few incorrect premises.

    First – I never claimed that ESP does not exist or that I can prove it doesn’t exist. My position is that there is insufficient scientific evidence to warrant the conclusion that it does exist. The burden of proof is squarely on those who claim that it does, and they have not met that burden.

    I have read the literature carefully and thoroughly and find it unconvincing. In fact I think it is dramatically compatible with a phenomenon that is not real – no consistency, not replicable, results that are within the noise of research, very low signal to noise ratio, etc.

    You also contradicted yourself. I wrote “before you invent new physics” and then you said that all we have to do is discover a new fundamental energy, something that has escaped all of scientific research so far. That is inventing new physics.

    As an aside, I think you underestimate how profound it would be if the current model of physics were missing such a major piece that it would allow for human brains to transmit and/or receive information in a way that is otherwise completely undetectable and outside of our current models to explain.

    I am not saying that it is impossible or disproven, just that it would be a massive discovery. You can’t support a massive discovery with weak and inconsistent evidence. The evidence for ESP would have to be orders of magnitude more compelling in order to be convincing, given what is being proposed.

  113. mumadaddon 18 May 2014 at 7:59 am

    Joe,

    “I think it’s ok to believe in God and be religious and not have to constantly defend the beliefs”

    Is this really a fair assessment of the situation? You’ve actively sought out the argument after all. If you’re in the US, you’re also in the majority when it comes to adherence to faith, so most of the time you probably aren’t asked to defend that faith. In my experience it’s usually atheists who are challenged on their *lack* of faith, as though it’s an ideology in itself when in fact it’s simply and only the rejection of specific claims about a god or gods.

    People arrive at atheism through various routes; some question their faith and go through the difficult process of realigning their beliefs with the evidence; the lucky ones just aren’t raised religious and are able to evaluate religious claims dispassionately without being indoctrinated into them. The single biggest determinant of religiosity is whether or not your parents were religious. This should at at least give you pause.

    It’s entirely reasonable to ‘wall off’ faith from governance, social policy and science. How would you feel if Muslims were able to implement Sharia law in the US? Pretty aggrieved I would think. Just because your faith is the majority position where you live, does not exempt it from this principle.

  114. ccbowerson 18 May 2014 at 8:39 am

    “Whether Novella says he is not “offended” or not, his post made it seem as if he took offense at how someone addressed problems with their faith. It’s an observation…
    Which is why I wondered what part of this innocuous article which was addressed to people of faith and that had no bearing at all upon science set Novella off, offended him”

    When you insist on an ‘observation’ that is not apparent to other observers, and is is an emotion denied by that person, you are not even trying to be reasonable. You are acting like a jerk.

    “The most appealing thing is the absolute choir-like fawning towards the host. Hey, Novella is a bright guy, a very bright guy. You guys think he’s the cat’s ass.”

    This blatantly untrue. I assume that most of the regulars here look forward to disagreement. I certainly do enjoy in engaging in reasonable arguments with informed and intellegent people. I would never comment here if I didn’t – I hope to learn something. I try not to engage too much with the unreasonable, but I also don’t want nonsense to dominate, and I like to understand how others think, to the extent that it’s sincere. As an aside, I find it odd that you use cat’s ass with a positive connotation. I have the opposite reaction to that thought.

    “Just let someone challenge him and see how the members of the pride spring to his defense. It’s quite National Geographic. ”

    See previous quote and response. If someone has poor arguments, it is an opportunity to discuss an issue. You are projecting something that isn’t there. Nearly every time I have read a post I disagreed with, I have commented saying so. It just doesn’t happen often. I find it interesting how often this accusation is put forth by people who have poor arguments. I guess it is rationalizing and distracts from the real discussion. Perhaps that is the goal.

    “I would even suggest that the chances are that some of Novella’s migraine patients use acupuncture and find benefit from it. Maybe he doesn’t know about it. How about that?”

    You can suppose all sorts of things, but without evidence it is not worth anyone’s time here.

    “I think it’s ok to believe in God and be religious and not have to constantly defend the beliefs.”

    Oh, are you the persectuted majority? The poor guy who doesn’t always get his way, unquestioned? Please. To the entend that your beliefs affect what you do and how you do it, that matters in a pluralistic society.

    You are not necessarily just defending your beliefs but defending your actions, which stem from your beliefs. You don’t get a free pass just because you believe something. No one should. Everything should be open to discourse and discussions, at appropriate times and places of course.

  115. hardnoseon 18 May 2014 at 1:09 pm

    “You also contradicted yourself. I wrote “before you invent new physics” and then you said that all we have to do is discover a new fundamental energy, something that has escaped all of scientific research so far. That is inventing new physics.”

    Steve N,

    All right it might seem like I contradicted myself. But inventing new physics is not the same as discovering something you didn’t know about before.

    At every stage in the history of science, someone has declared that science has finished discovering new things. And then something new is discovered.

  116. Johnnyon 18 May 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I recall a Sunni Islamic forum from many years ago. Non-Muslims (mostly Christians and atheists) were allowed to ask questions, but not to question the answers given, no matter how asinine they were. Advocacy of Shia Islamic positions was explicitly forbidden and would result in banning.

    Interesting how we don’t see such moderation on skeptic forums…

  117. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 1:22 pm

    BJ7:“You claim that people of faith “force” their views on the public. It’s not a claim. It’s a fact. In god we trust. Prayers before parliament. Restrictions on abortion. Laws prohibiting gay marriage.” The fact is that people of faith happen to be the majority. What’s written on the currency or done before parliament or Congress is what the people want. Restrictions on abortion are meant not to restrict someone’s right to kill a living being, but to protect the living being. As to gay marriage, while there is of course religious opposition to this, the views of the majority are changing and gay marriage is becoming a fact of life.

    Forcing people to pay for abortions? Why would you think that people of faith who consider abortion the killing of a living being would roll over when this is done, when their tax money is going to fund abortions or when they are forced to pay health insurance premiums for policies which pay for abortions? The people of faith consider that life begins at a certain point. The pro-abortion group does not even address this — science doesn’t know what life is and when it begins — and falls back on the “right” of the woman to kill whatever she wants at any point in its life. Any point. See the problem there? If you want to engage people on the philosophical question about what life is and when it begins, then be honest about it. But disregarding the question and falling back on the “right” of the woman is BS. I ask you about 24+ weeks abortion and you come back with 8 week pregnancy as a result of rape.

    Yep, I know that acupuncture and chiropractic work.

    “I don’t want MY freedom compromised by YOUR religious views.” And I don’t want my religious views compromised by you. My religious views tell me that I should not contribute to or participate in the taking of a human life. You agree that I have this right not to participate or contribute to abortion? Do you agree that if this is my view that it would be hypocritical of me not to defend it or to oppose efforts to require me to pay for it? Is that ok with you? We are talking about life and death here, right?

    Mumadadd: I’m not saying that religion should be immune from criticism. I think religion is a personal thing that has an important role to play in society. I think reason and faith are in fact compatible, or at least their compatibility is philosophically arguable. But to sort of reach into the writings of the faith, the writings of faith between and among people of faith, and use those writings to say, see how faith is an enemy of doubt/science/reason, is a cheap shot.

    RickK: “How can you say this as anything other than directing the reader to choose faith over science and reason?” Again, I’ll restate my point. This article was written to people of faith advising them what to do what they have doubts about their faith. The example I gave is a common one, where a person of faith is presented with a situation — the death of a child, evil in the world — and the person questions his faith. He wonders how God would permit something like this to happen. His co-faithful then talk to him about his faith and how he can continue to have faith despite what he is seeing. Do you see that? Do you see that telling this person with a crisis of faith to consult science to get the answers is not helpful to that person? That’s my reading of the article.

    “In which parts of life do you think decisions SHOULD be made on faith and not on evidence and reason?” My opinion is that faith is a very personal thing that provides a moral foundation for behavior, how you treat other people, how you act in your daily life. It doesn’t provide answers to scientific questions or to questions requiring reasoning. But it is important as a foundation for behavior. Again, I think that reason and faith are not incompatible. One can be both a believer and be a scientist. Render unto Caesar and all that.

    Is faith a virtue? Yes, in general, as it provides the moral foundation that people seem to require. Having said that, there are certain religions that preach what I consider immoral actions such as killing the non-faithful or the blasphemer. That way of looking at the world is incompatible with my faith.

    Interestingly, my experience is that people of faith regard the non-faithful with a mixture of pity and generally little interest. On the other hand, atheists, in my experience, are quite dogmatic, dismissive, often arrogant and superior towards people of faith. There’s this whole “don’t intrude in my world” attitude which I think is not there from the other side. Just an observation.

    ccbowers: No one is asking for a free pass. It’s just that the attitude “oh, you’re a Christian! Well that explains a lot” gets old.

  118. Dr. Curmudgeonon 18 May 2014 at 1:44 pm

    The problem, of course is that faith and religion never have and never will, “stay in their corner.” The second problem is that once the children have been brainwashed to disregard and disparage logic, they are so much more susceptible to other non-evidenciary myths, like “who will build the roads?”

  119. hardnoseon 18 May 2014 at 2:03 pm

    ” I think you underestimate how profound it would be if the current model of physics were missing such a major piece that it would allow for human brains to transmit and/or receive information in a way that is otherwise completely undetectable and outside of our current models to explain.”

    Steve N,

    Well it seems that birds can, so why not us?
    http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/action/pia-entanglement.cfm

  120. hardnoseon 18 May 2014 at 2:18 pm

    http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/action/pia-entanglement.cfm

    So we know that at least some animals can detect invisible electromagnetic fields. And we know that our brains generate electromagnetic fields.

    Therefore, WHY do you think it would be extraordinary if our brains had some wireless capabilities?

    There are lots of new ideas around, which I really think you materialists should become aware of.

  121. hardnoseon 18 May 2014 at 2:24 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_theories_of_consciousness

  122. RickKon 18 May 2014 at 6:16 pm

    hardnose – before you put forward theories to explain extra sensory powers, first you must demonstrate that they actually exist.

    How is your behavior different than that of a guy promoting his perpetual motion machine by explaining an arcane theory about how it could work by harnessing the power of magnets?

    First you have to demonstrate it actually works.

    ESP has all the hallmarks of a non-existent effect – the more carefully it is measured, the more it retreats into the background noise if random events.

    At the moment you’re no better than a Star Wars fan speculating on the physics of midichlorians. First you have to show us somebody who can lift a table without touching it, THEN we can talk about midichlorians.

  123. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2014 at 6:35 pm

    DrJoe,

    You make statements. I provide refutations. Then you simply repeat your statements. This means you have no arguments to back up those statements and no valid reasons to hold them are being true. I hope you understand that.

    So it’s pretty much a waste of time, despite which….

    Acupuncture:°
    Acupuncture does not work and see previous thread for reasons already supplied.
    There are reasons why your mind has been fooled into thinking it does work and see previously referenced lecture series.

    Please do not simply repeat that acupuncture works because it displays your continuing ignorance.

    Abortion funding:
    How do you propose this should work. This was the point I made and you have completely failed to address it. Do you demand a tax refund? What about someone who doesn’t want his taxes going to fund faith based schools and charities? See how unworkable this is. Maybe the taxman could send you a letter stating that none of your particular tax dollars went into funding abortion. Would that satisfy you?

    Please do not simply repeat that you don’t want your taxes going to fund abortions.

    Religious beliefs written into law:
    You have just confirmed that you agree that people’s religious convictions have been written into law. So much for keeping religion private! In other words, you have just conceded our whole point in this thread! The minority have rights as well. And that includes the right not to have their freedom restrained by the religious beliefs of others. It might be a good exercise for you to consider your predicament if Islam became the dominant religion in your country and sharia law was forced on you. Death for apostasy. Death for blasphemy. Stoning to death for marrying and having sex with someone who is not a Muslim.

    Science and life:
    Of course science knows what life is and when it begins. But not all questions have answers. That was the point of me asking you on what date you stopped being an adolescent and became an adult. Science has a pretty good idea what life is. But is a virus life? Is a prion life? When and how in evolutionary history did life arise from non life? These questions do not have answers just like there is no answer to the question of when you stopped being an adolescent and became an adult.

  124. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 8:40 pm

    BJ: You know, you keep repeating acupuncture does not work and I keep repeating that it does. Tie game. I am free to use it successfully, and you are free to not use it and rely upon whatever you want.

    Abortion funding: The government should not fund abortion. How about that? That would preserve the religious rights of the faithful. And the government should not fund faith-based charities. That would preserve your rights. Case solved.

    Religious beliefs written into law: Putting “in God we trust” on a coin is not writing religion into law. It is acknowledging that the majority of people believe in God. That does not impact the non-religious one whit other than the lawyers who make money off lawsuits or the morons who cross the phrase off their dollar bills. Ditto with the prayer before Parliament or Congress. Those who chose not to take part do not need to. It costs them nothing and costs the taxpayers nothing.

    I already stated my distaste for religions that punish people for non-adherence.

    No, science does not know when human life (which is what we are dealing with) begins. Otherwise, the argument about abortion would not be about so-called “women’s rights” but instead taking the life of the fetus. You tell me what “science” says about when human life begins.

  125. DrJoeinCAon 18 May 2014 at 8:42 pm

    BJ7; Lest we get sidetracked unnecessarily, I mean when does science say that an INDIVIDUAL life begins? No reason to go into evolution when we’re dealing with killing an individual.

  126. Emilyon 18 May 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Steve-
    You rightly call out those with faith that believe doubt is a terrible thing and that critical thinking needs to be quelled. It is possible, at least in my opinion and my own experience, to have both faith and doubt. Paul Tillich, the existentialist Christian philosopher/theologian stated that “doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith”. That is the position that I and some other Christians take. I also believe that critical thinking and faith can co-exist. Critical thinking is partly what led to my belief in God. Others would say the same thing. If there was no logic behind my belief then I could not be a person of faith. I am not someone who can just accept whatever because it feels good or appears right; I need sound reasoning and evidence. Some people can do without this but I cannot. Now this does not mean that I think there is absolute evidence for God without any doubt. Obviously this is not the case whatsoever. It may have an upside, however, because if there was irrefutable proof of God, it might interfere with humanity’s free will.

    I also believe that God can be believed in without using Him as a cop-out. The many scientists who believe in a higher being may attest to this. I am sure that many compartmentalize faith and science but I know that not every one of them does this; I’ve seen this firsthand with people like my brother-in-law who is getting his PhD in physics and integrates faith and science. I have known other people as well, specifically some professors in college, who found science and religion compatible without having to compartmentalize the two. In my mind, as well, science and faith can be synthesized. My belief is that theology is an imperfect discipline that is distinct from absolute truth. If science finds something that is true, which conflicts with theology, then the theology needs to be reevaluated since truth cannot be self-contradictory. In this way, faith does not have to trump science if one understands that theology is an imperfect discipline subject to errors. Anyways, my experience has been one where I have not felt the need to do away with science/reason because of faith. Many other great thinkers of history have also come to this conclusion. This does not mean that my position is accurate, as that might be something like the fallacy of appealing to tradition. I think that it is worth noting, however, that I am not alone or unique in my position. Though, not every Christian sees these things the way I do. There are a number of us, however, that do. I also find that science is a way to probe how God created. I say, bring it all on science….I want to know everything it discovers. I fear nothing that science has to say about the origins of the universe/life. I believe in evolution and the big bang and all that crazy good stuff…and yet I am a Christian.

    In sum, (and in my opinion) science gives the answers about empirical reality while my religious beliefs deal with non-empirical reality. Additionally, while logic and reasoning have led to your conclusion and stance as an agnostic atheist, logic and reasoning have led me down a different path towards Christianity. Could I be all wrong? Absolutely. There is definitely some agnosticism in me. But, like the quote by Tillich stated above conveys, doubt is a part of my faith, not the enemy of it.

  127. ccbowerson 18 May 2014 at 10:24 pm

    “Therefore, WHY do you think it would be extraordinary if our brains had some wireless capabilities?”

    It’s not so much that it is extraordinary as much as they have not been shown to exist. When blinded, people who claim to suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity fail to be able to distinguish their presence. This combined with the vague nature of symptoms suggests that there are other causes of their symptoms and that confirmation bias being a contributor to their attribution of the symptoms to electromagnetic fields.

    Why are you trying to think of mechanisms of effects that you have not established? This seems to be a theme of some commenters on this blog lately, putting the cart before the horse, because you really like the cart.

    “There are lots of new ideas around, which I really think you materialists should become aware of.”

    Yeah, yeah. There are some pretty old ideas with which you should familiarize yourself. Your smugness doesn’t even make sense here. Where does materialism come into play on this topic…what are you suggesting with regards to electromagnetic that is outside of materialism? You’re are just trying to take a shot. At least make sense.

  128. BillyJoe7on 19 May 2014 at 7:31 am

    DrJoe,

    “You know, you keep repeating acupuncture does not work and I keep repeating that it does. Tie game.”

    Nope.
    Systematic reviews show no effect beyond placebo from acupuncture for any condition for which it is used. No effect beyond placebo means it doesn’t work.
    No chi. No meridians. Nothing special about acupuncture points.
    It doesn’t matter where you put the needles or how deep you penetrate the skin or if you don’t penetrate the skin or if you simply prick the skin with toothpicks.
    Nothing.
    And good reasons why people can be fooled about what they believe works.

    “The government should not fund abortion…That would preserve the religious rights of the faithful”

    What about the rights of the non-religious? How about we not restrict the freedom of the non-religious because of the beliefs of the religious. You don’t have to access abortion funding because of your beliefs and I don’t have to access faith based schools and charities because of my non belief.

    “Putting “in God we trust” on a coin is not writing religion into law”

    It pisses me of when posters start lying.
    Please point out where I said this.
    It is a separate issue – another example of where (so called) private religious beliefs impose themselves on the public sphere.

    “That does not impact the non-religious one whit”

    Thanks for telling me how I feel about coins stamped “In God we trust”
    Consider the effect if would have on you as a Christian if Islam became the majority religion and coins were stamped with “Allah (peace be upon him)”, or if atheist became the majority and coins were stamped “life you life. There is no other”.
    No impact? Pull the other one.

    “Ditto with the prayer before Parliament or Congress. Those who chose not to take part do not need to”

    It marginalises all those who do not subscribe to the Christian religion. That includes the non religious, atheists, Muslims, and Jews. Say your prayers at home and respect those who do not share your views. Parliament is for everyone, not just for the majority who just happens to be Christian at this point in time. And why the pre-eminence of religion. What would your reaction be if the Collingwood football club song was sung before parliament because more people support Collingwood than any other football club. It would be ridiculous. But somehow it’s okay to say Christian prayers!

    “I already stated my distaste for religions that punish people for non-adherence”

    You missed the point. Deliberately I think.
    The point is: what would your reaction be if Islam became the dominant religion and Islamic chants were sung before parliament and sharia law became the law of the land? So, how do think the non religious feel about prayers before parliament and Christian slogans on coins.

    “No, science does not know when human life begins”

    Yes it does. A new life begins at conception – at the fertilisation of the an ovum by a sperm. The moment the gametes combine to form a zygote a new life is produced.

    “Otherwise, the argument about abortion would not be about so-called “women’s rights” but instead taking the life of the fetus”

    The argument is about whether a non sentient form of life (the foetus) has any rights at all, especially when set against the rights of a sentient life on which it is completely dependent (the pregnant woman). The special status attributed to the foetus by the religious is based on the concept of a soul. There is no evidence for the existence of souls. It is a non-evidence based belief of the religious and that non-evidence based belief is being imposed on the non-religious who do not believe in a soul.
    Maybe you can tell me when a soul enters a zygote or foetus.

  129. Steven Novellaon 19 May 2014 at 9:54 am

    hardnose – you did not follow my argument, and you are mixing your own.

    If the claim is that human brains can wireless communicate through EM waves, that can be tested in multiple ways. First, there is no demonstrable ESP. Second, the brain produces electrical and magnetic fields that can be measured, but they are weak, they are vastly attenuated by the skull, and they would be a very poor candidate for wireless communication. (Even theoretically, this would have a very short range.) Third, we have not discovered any EM receivers in human brains.

    But – you were talking about new forms of remote communication, and that is what I was referring to in my most recent comment. That would entail new physics, and we don’t even have a theoreticaly construct for what that would entail.

    So – EM, essentially ruled out by what we already know about the brain. EM signals are also easily detectable by instruments, so we would not be missing any candidate signals.

    Signals based on something other than EM would require new physics which are inherently implausible.

  130. Mlemaon 19 May 2014 at 11:13 am

    “… I see no reason to gratuitously attack faith or religious belief itself…”

    …but people who believe in God are irrational and must use psychological defense mechanisms like compartmentalization in order to do good work as doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, and yes, even scientists. :)

    Hmm. So much for nuanced. What is the evidence that people who believe in God have mental irregularities? Faith is irrational. So is love, hope, charity, pets, picnics, The Three Stooges and Hershey chocolate bars.

    Thinking according to these lines, atheists would have to compartmentalize their denial in order to accomplish anything humanitarian at all, since self-sacrifice is irrational. It may not feel good to let others suffer when helping them would require sacrifice, but letting them suffer is the rational thing to do, and no self-respecting logical person would do otherwise.

    See how that feels? Deniers KNOW that they are as self-sacrificing as the next person, just like believers KNOW they aren’t irrational.

    Let’s stop making broad generalizations about “them”. It reads like bigotry.

    There’s no doubt that certain religious rules would violate individual human and civil rights if enforced in our society. Let reasonable people of faith and of skepticism fight against those injustices. Let’s respect each others rationality, and criticize each others muddled thinking. People of faith aren’t mentally different from people of doubt. There aren’t “intellectual spheres” in the brain. Doctor Novella is using that terminology inappropriately. Intellectual spheres exist in society.

  131. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 11:19 am

    Emily –

    Your religion is constrained by science — if science contradicts theology, theology loses. Even though you might call yourself a christian, you are a deist, as the interventionist, personal god of christianity is all but impossible in today’s scientific worldview.

    In addition, a god that by definition eludes irrefutable proof to ensure humanity’s free will has to be an interventionist, perverse god. In effect, it proposes a world that apparently runs on rules (as discovered by science), but where it intervenes to hide its existence. In other words, your god speaks to you, but through a channel humans can never detect. Your god intervenes in human affairs, but modifies our memories and recorded history to avoid being discovered. You could just as well be a last-thursdayist.

  132. Steven Novellaon 19 May 2014 at 11:33 am

    Mlema – I disagree with your premise that charity is irrational. It actually makes perfect sense to help others. Also, acknowledging the social nature of humans is not irrational. So your example does not work.

    I also never said that people of faith have “mental irregularities” or that intellectual spheres were “in the brain.” I don’t know where you got that.

    My discussion was entirely of intellectual process. Some advocates of faith argue that doubt is bad, and that doubt should be banished, and should only lead to stronger faith. In this way, faith is a closed belief system. I think that closed belief systems are inherently problematic, because they must place themselves beyond reason. If they could be justified with logic and reason, then faith would not be required.

    I also think that it is inappropriate to bring up bigotry. That is a cheap shot. I am discussing intellectual strategies, and went out of my way to acknowledge respect for individual freedom.

  133. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 11:36 am

    Mlema –

    People of faith aren’t mentally different from people of doubt. There aren’t “intellectual spheres” in the brain.

    It would appear there are people who believe what they cannot prove, and those who want to be able to verify what they accept as knowledge (even if they do accept information from trusted parties who use the same protocols without verifying it themselves).

    There are two categories of information — information that can be verified scientifically, and information that cannot, but is accepted (as the Romans noted: de gustibus coloribusque non disputandum). Anyone is free to believe in a god, but cannot prove its existence scientifically. You can prefer Verdi over Meatloaf, but you cannot prove Verdi is better. Absent an irrefutable proof of their god, humans cannot impose their god, and the rules they think it lays down, on other people. Others are free to join a belief system, but nothing that stems from that belief system should be imposed on non-believers, or believers in another system.

    What we’re arguing here is that the only objective information, information you cannot reject, is scientific information, because you can, if you wish, ascertain it is correct. It is not correct because someone (no matter how eminent) says so, but because anyone can verify it. Religious information, on the other hand, expects me to trust humans who claim to know the thoughts of their god. I am not that credulous.

  134. DrJoeinCAon 19 May 2014 at 11:41 am

    BJ7: “What about the rights of the non-religious? How about we not restrict the freedom of the non-religious because of the beliefs of the religious. You don’t have to access abortion funding because of your beliefs and I don’t have to access faith based schools and charities because of my non belief.” The non-religious have a right to get an abortion up to a certain time of pregnancy. They do not have the right to have an abortion paid for with the tax money of the religious for whom this procedure is murder. The religious should not have to pay for murder.

    “what would your reaction be if Islam became the dominant religion and Islamic chants were sung before parliament and sharia law became the law of the land? So, how do think the non religious feel about prayers before parliament and Christian slogans on coins.” My reaction would be that Islam and sharia law teach that “blasphemers” should be eliminated, women should be subject to their men, etc. This is antithetical to my belief system and to the system upon which the US was founded and survives. That’s why there is a difference between religions. Personally, it doesn’t mean anything to me what’s written on a coin or whether people pray before public events. If I don’t want to pray, I don’t pray. If I want to spend a dollar, I spend it regardless of what is written on the bill. Yes, religion is pre-eminent at this point in the history of the world. That’s reality.

    If life begins at the two cell stage, if this is now a living being, then when is it ok to terminate that life? When does the “life” have the right to not be killed?

  135. The Other John Mcon 19 May 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Sagan’s take on this, from a few decades ago, still worth a read:
    http://www.2think.org/abortion.shtml

  136. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 12:10 pm

    “So – EM, essentially ruled out by what we already know about the brain.”

    Steven Novella,

    You must have not read the article I linked about bird migration. They seem to be detecting EM signals using quantum entanglement.

  137. The Other John Mcon 19 May 2014 at 12:21 pm

    hardnose, humans detect EM signals all the time: visible light is an electro-magnetic wave, you know, science 101 stuff? What do you think bird migration proves about human telekinetic abilities, exactly?

  138. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 12:26 pm

    hardnose –

    They seem to be detecting EM signals using quantum entanglement.

    Indeed – it’s about birds detecting variations in the Earth’s magnetic field, using better detectors than we’ve been able to make using (standard) electronic components.

    But there have to be fields to be detected first, and the brain doesn’t produce them (hint — the variations the birds detect we also detect with our current generation detectors).

    You’re barking up the wrong tree because you’re grasping at straws :) .

  139. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 1:00 pm

    “hardnose, humans detect EM signals all the time: visible light is an electro-magnetic wave, you know, science 101 stuff? What do you think bird migration proves about human telekinetic abilities, exactly?”

    I already said that we can detect remote objects with ordinary vision.

    The bird migration article shows that quantum entanglement can be involved in sensing non-visible electromagnetism.

    There could be things like that going on in the brains of other animals, including ourselves.

  140. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 1:05 pm

    “But there have to be fields to be detected first, and the brain doesn’t produce them”

    Of course the brain produces electromagnetic fields.

  141. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Might be a big statement, but Hardnose is the WORST re: selective Q answering…

    “The bird migration article shows that quantum entanglement can be involved in sensing non-visible electromagnetism.”

    Maybe someone already pointed this out to you – but how would this undermine materialism?

  142. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 1:09 pm

    There is nothing extraordinary about the idea that our brains could have wireless capabilities. As I said previously, ordinary vision is wireless. And other animals seem to be able to sense non-visual EMFs using quantum entanglement.

    We have absolutely no idea what undiscovered capabilities brains of various animals might have.

    If you have to insist that everything of any importance has already been discovered, then you are coming from a materialist ideology, with no real understanding of science.

  143. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Exactly Hardnose, there is a lot of stuff we still do not understand.

  144. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Hardnose,

    “If you have to insist that everything of any importance has already been discovered,”

    Who said that? When?

    How does birds detecting EM undermine materialism?

    Try this: what is your best evidence of a non materialistic phenomenon?

    That there are things we currently lack a deep understanding of does not call into question foundational principles that fit all the evidence to date and all the branching scientific theories, tested and verified, that follow this assumption.

  145. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I say Hardnose only answers what he wants, then ask a siple Q:

    “how would this undermine materialism?”

    And HN won’t answer. Really HN? Really? But to switch gears…

    “If you have to insist that everything of any importance has already been discovered”

    What??? WHO SAID THIS HN???? NO ONE!!!! Do you know what s straw man is?

    Steve et al. have gone out of their way to say that we’re not saying it’s not real, but we’re not swayed by the evidence. Burden of proof and all. And you simply pretend no one said it! How do you do that?

    And think of the logic! Proposition X is true becasue, hey, we haven’t discovered everything yet.

    Again HN, really? I think the Grateful Dead bears are supernatural spirit bears. Haven’t discovered everything yet, so it must be true!

  146. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 1:28 pm

    No I await for HN to answer only those tiny snippets of my response that are easiest to address, while ignoring all of the important stuff.

  147. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Leo,

    Your ‘arguments’, if you can call them that, are completely devoid of logic or even coherence. You haven’t even come up with a sound premise, let along applied valid logic, and people here have painstakingly laid out the problems with what you are asserting, but to no avail.

    Try constructing a pared back, simple argument so we can tell what it is you’re actually trying to say. You can fill in the blanks or cite evidence later if necessary.

  148. Bronze Dogon 19 May 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Quantum mechanics is a part of “materialist” science, as is the electromagnetic force. Most people don’t understand QM or EM physics, so many use their weirdness as “justification” for believing whatever they want. It’s an ongoing trope in woo and science fiction, to speak of their pet hypotheses or plot devices as being based in the current hot topic of science to make it look more plausible.

    Yes, there’s a lot we still don’t understand, but rigorous science is our best method for learning about the unknown. The problem I usually see is that a lot of the “weird” stuff used as evidence for the supernatural or whatever is actually quite mundane if you know enough about current theories, the human capacity for self-deception, and the difference between good and bad experimental design.

  149. The Other John Mcon 19 May 2014 at 1:52 pm

    BD I think you nailed the trifecta of avoiding 99% of woo!

    (1) knowledge (and understanding) of current theories
    (2) understanding and accounting for the human capacity at self-deception
    (3) knowing and being able to spot the (most obvious) differences between good and bad experiments

  150. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 2:10 pm

    “How does birds detecting EM undermine materialism?”

    Materialism is not defined, and we don’t know what matter is. I never said anything about undermining it, just that the concept doesn’t make sense.

    When people claim to be materialists, it usually means they deny the existence of anything that can’t be perceived with the 5 physical senses, or with existing technological devices.

    I had said that I think it’s possible our brains have some kind of wireless capabilities (in addition to vision). And Steve N said no they don’t.

    Then I showed an article about birds being able to sense non-visible EMFs using quantum entanglement. This is a wireless capability, and does not use any of the 5 previously known physical senses.

    There could be many other ways of wireless sensing, used by other species, and maybe also by ourselves.

    What we call extra-sensory perception might not be extra-sensory at all. It might just use other senses that we still don’t know about.

  151. Steven Novellaon 19 May 2014 at 2:13 pm

    hardnose – others have already deconstructed your poor logic. But let me address a specific point, as we seem to have lost site of the conversation.

    My position is, that before we start hypothesizing about new physics, it is reasonable to rule out mundane explanations (like simple confirmation bias). I stated this as my position, in direct contrast to the straw man that I am denying the possibility of ESP.

    In response you seem to be saying – but there may be new physics we haven’t discovered yet, and you can’t rule that out.

    This, of course, is non-responsive to my actual point, restated above.

    No one has demonstrated a replicable and compelling ESP effect that requires explaining. Simple and established mechanisms of deception and sloppy research methods are sufficient to explain all available evidence. They certainly have not been sufficiently ruled out that we should start hypothesizing about new physics.

    Just to address your bird point – no one has detected any EM signals from human brains that would be a candidate for ESP, or receivers, nor has ESP research shown an affect that obeys the rules of EM. Again – I don’t think it has shown any effect, but those studies that have looked at this have found no change in study results with distance (disobeys the inverse square law or propagation) nor with shielding.

    It’s just not looking good for ESP.

  152. Steven Novellaon 19 May 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Your definition of materialism is a pointless straw man. Who adheres to that?

    What science follows is methodological naturalism. It does not require that there are no phenomena not currently detectable. It simply means that nature follows rules, one of them being cause and effect. Every natural effect needs a natural cause. That’s really it. You don’t get to invoke miracles.

    You are actually only arguing against a convenient figment of your imagination with your definition of materialism.

    I don’t know that anyone here is arguing that an unknown sensory organ in humans is impossible. We are simply saying it is currently unknown. There is no known mechanism for ESP, which lacks compelling evidence anyway – so… No reason to currently accept ESP as real. What are you missing?

  153. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Hardnose,

    “When people claim to be materialists, it usually means they deny the existence of anything that can’t be perceived with the 5 physical senses, or with existing technological devices.”

    What about dark matter and dark energy? We can’t detect it, but that, again, does not undermine materialism.

  154. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 2:24 pm

    And, I should add, I’ll bet pretty much all the posters here will accept that these things most probably exist, which does undermine your caricature definition of materialism.

  155. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 3:22 pm

    “When people claim to be materialists, it usually means they deny the existence of anything that can’t be perceived with the 5 physical senses, or with existing technological devices.”

    So you don’t know what materialism means. Might want to figure that out before arguing about it.

    The rest of your errors from the last post all stem from the same problem:

    You stubbornly refuse, after being told many times, to acknowledge the difference between

    a. Declaring that something (let’s say ESP) is NOT true

    and

    b. Declaring that there is not enough evidence to conclude at present time that ESP is real, but further evidence COULD show it to be true.

    We say B! B! B! Not A, B!!! You come back asking us how we could believe A. That’s not arguing in good faith, HN.

  156. Bronze Dogon 19 May 2014 at 3:23 pm

    hardnose:

    “When people claim to be materialists, it usually means they deny the existence of anything that can’t be perceived with the 5 physical senses, or with existing technological devices.”

    Bullhockey. You seriously misunderstand what science is. I suspect you don’t understand how technology is developed, either. Science isn’t some sci-fi tricorder that simply wasn’t designed to detect magic. It isn’t a toolbox dogmatically restricted to contain an exact set of tools. It’s a method of inquiry. Science is what we use to figure out there is a non-obvious force in the first place so that we can invent convenient sensors using our understanding of that force.

    1. We observe a strange effect we don’t understand occur under certain circumstances. We see it often enough to get curious what causes it.
    2. We look at the circumstances to hypothesize what’s causing it.
    3. We recreate the circumstances and prevent known causes for the effect so that we don’t get false positives. Without those controls, positive results could just as easily be from the known causes instead of the hypothetical cause. Because of the possibility of false positives, poorly controlled experiments only serve to confuse, not to enlighten.
    4. If we get consistent results, then we can use that knowledge to devise sensors to detect it by notifying us the effect has happened inside the instrument.

    The problem parapsychologists have is that their “strange” effects are readily explained by so many known causes, they have trouble convincing us that there’s something unusual going on that need a new explanation in the first place. Even if we humor them, they’re so sloppy in step 3 that we expect numerous false positives. When we do convince them to tighten controls, the effect vanishes into the noise as would be expected in a universe without ESP. And then they insist on telling us our expectations instead of listening.

    What’s with this woo fixation on the five senses, anyway? I guess they presume that we’re mindlessly bowing to some ancient Greek authority even though we acknowledge other human senses like prioperception, balance, and so on. It’s also missing the point, since simple detection isn’t the issue, it’s how robust your interpretation of results is.

  157. hardnoseon 19 May 2014 at 3:47 pm

    “What science follows is methodological naturalism. It does not require that there are no phenomena not currently detectable. It simply means that nature follows rules, one of them being cause and effect. Every natural effect needs a natural cause. That’s really it. You don’t get to invoke miracles. ”

    Where did you get the idea that I didn’t know that nature follows rules?

    There is no logic in your statement. Of course everything is natural, and when did I say anything about miracles?

    I said there could be very ordinary natural explanations for wireless perception in some animals (aside from vision).

  158. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 4:12 pm

    “Where did you get the idea that I didn’t know that nature follows rules?
    There is no logic in your statement. Of course everything is natural, and when did I say anything about miracles?”

    # hardnose on 17 May 2014 at 2:58 pm:

    The materialist mythology says that anything that can’t be perceived with our senses or technological devices must be hallucinations or delusions.
    That is an automatic argument against any kind of religious/mystical reality. That argument is applied in every debate on these topics, and of course it was used in the afterlife debate.

  159. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Joe,

    “If life begins at the two cell stage, if this is now a living being, then when is it ok to terminate that life? When does the “life” have the right to not be killed?”

    Obviously this is a thorny issue. Correct me if I’ve misunderstood your position, but if your faith tells you that terminating any human life, even a zygote, is murder then I don’t think it has anything useful to contribute. Weighed against the rights of an unborn child, as BJ7 already stated, are the rights of the sentient being upon whom it’s totally dependent for its survival. Under what circumstances would it be correct to give a dividing mass of cells with zero brain function, or even brain tissue, any rights at all?

    “The religious should not have to pay for murder.”

    What’s your view on capital punishment?

  160. Emilyon 19 May 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Bill Openthalt –
    I appreciate your input as it stretches my brain to think about these things in greater depth. And helps to cultivate my critical thinking beyond just my Philosophy 101 class in college. Anyways, there are basic premises concerning theology that do not budge for me. But things like the mode of creation, etc. can depending on what the truth found in science reveals; if something is absolutely true in science then the theology was misinterpreted and vice versa. I also disagree that a personal God of Christianity is all but impossible in today’s scientific worldview. As Francis Collins (geneticist and a leader of the Human Genome Project) states in his book The Language of God, ”If God exists, then He must be outside the natural world, and therefore the tools of science are not the right ones to learn about Him” (30). I would add to this, however, that there tools of logic and reason that can be utilized to explore the issue about God. Also C.S. Lewis states (as qtd. in Collins), “If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe-no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house…” (29). I also do not think that God changes our memories or actively tries to hide His existence; I just don’t think that He necessarily leaves things in a state of affairs where there is absolutely no doubt that He does exist. The whole thing about free will is just my own simple and personal conjecture really, based on things I have read such as Collins, and not necessarily a solid answer to the question of ‘if God exists then why doesn’t He make it 100% clear that He does’. Anyways, take care and thank you for your thoughts and helping to stretch my brain.

  161. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 4:46 pm

    @mumadadd

    I haven’t been asserting anything the best you skeptics can say is their isn’t no evidence for an afterlife. According to Richard Wiseman a skeptic himself of psi phenomena.

    He has admitted that ESP such as the Ganzfeld Experiments meet the usual standards for a normal claim. Now, what extraordinary evidence can ESP produce, well it can’t no phenomenon can. Its a cop out used by skeptics.

  162. mumadaddon 19 May 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Leo,

    “Now, what extraordinary evidence can ESP produce, well it can’t no phenomenon can. Its a cop out used by skeptics.”

    Real ones can.

  163. Bronze Dogon 19 May 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Leo, we don’t rely on arguments from authority, so don’t expect us to roll over just because someone is referred to as a skeptic.

    RationalWiki’s article on the Ganzfield Experiments

    I don’t see much reason to accept the conclusion of psi.

  164. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 5:02 pm

    “He has admitted that ESP such as the Ganzfeld Experiments meet the usual standards for a normal claim.”

    Uhhh…no:

    http://www.richardwiseman.com/research/parapsychology.html

    “Although Prof Richard Wiseman does not think that the results of laboratory-based studies into psychic ability provide convincing evidence of such abilities, he does believe that they do justify further work in this area.”

    ” In 1999, Dr Julie Milton (then Edinburgh University) and Prof Wiseman published a follow-up paper, presenting a meta-analysis of Ganzfeld studies conducted between 1987 & 1997, and arguing that this subsequent research had failed to replicate the initial effect.”

    Wiseman has pointed out that some of the standards in the field are poor – and could lead to rejecting the null when it should be retained (Type I error). He’s not accepting psi, he’ s rejecting the standards. Very different.

    You can’t google hunt your way to competence Leo. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  165. Mlemaon 19 May 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Dr. Novella,
    If charity is rational, then so is faith. Belief in something more important than one’s own life gives courage to die for what one believes in. No one can prove that right or wrong exists, and yet people die and kill to defend what they believe is right, and defend against what they believe is wrong. We can’t prove that all humans deserve equal rights, and yet we promote and enforce this belief in our society through laws which have brought about violence at various times. People died and killed for what they believed in, and because of faith in the rationality of what they believed in.
    It’s something humans do, just like charity – which you say is rational. So, how is faith irrational?

    The problem lies in equating religion with faith. Faith isn’t anymore irrational that any other human inclination: charity, hope, love, etc. That doesn’t mean that people who are religious don’t do irrational things. But there are plenty of atheists who do irrational things too. No ones got a corner on the market of irrationality based on their belief or disbelief in God. Faith people aren’t employing psychological defense mechanisms in order to go about their business of being logical in their work. You’ve insinuated that people who believe in God are continually engaging in splintered thinking which they must “wall off” within their minds. You have no proof that faith causes people to think in such irregular ways (which “compartmentalization” – a psychological term – implies) hence: mental irregularities. I’ve put what you’re saying into plain terms to point out the derogatory nature of your assertions. Derogatory labeling of groups = bigotry. At least be honest: you think anyone who believes in God is irrational. You said “faith is inherently irrational”. People who believe in God comprise a group of people. When you start making generalizations, especially derogatory ones like irrationality (not thinking clearly, not able to use reason or good judgment) without any proof, that’s bigotry. You said:

    “very few people can keep a personal choice of faith sufficiently walled off from science and reason that it does not erode the latter.”

    which implies all the things I just said, including generalizations, unproven psychological mechanisms, and insinuations about mental capabilities of people who believe in God.

    You may as well take it as a lesson instead of defending what you said. If you ever hope to convince anyone who believes in God that you’re promoting critical thinking, you’ll have to stop talking about them in bigoted ways. In other words, if your goal is to remove the belief in God from society (which you’ve equated with religion by using the terms religion and faith interchangeably), you’ll advance it more effectively by not insulting believers. Even the term “believers” is insulting, because it insinuates gullibility. i would agree that there’s gullibility in religious followers who don’t question the teachings of their leaders. But that doesn’t reflect on “faith” when you’re using faith to mean belief in God. And calling a person gullible, again, doesn’t do anything to turn them to your critical way of thinking. Have you ever changed your mind about something because someone insulted you?

    You want to slam religion. I don’t blame you. But you can’t shorthand it by saying people who have faith in God are irrational. You don’t have any evidence other than the fact that religions have irrational rules and practices. Again, it’s equating religion with faith, and then making the leap to mental processes in order to come back around to saying that religious people should stay out of science, unless they can “wall off” their faith (in other words, unless they’re intellectually fractured and have found a way to control it – and who would want a doctor working on them who’s mentally fractured and is continually using a psychological defense mechanism in order to treat them scientifically?)

    You have faith that there’s no God (yes, it’s faith, since any assertion regarding something supernatural is based on faith). If you doubted your faith that such a God doesn’t exist, you would make allowances for the possibility of that God existing, and you would refrain from making derogatory insinuations about the psychological defense mechanisms of believers. Since you don’t, you’re not doubting your own faith in God’s non-existence. I don’t have time to rewrite this, but as I’m wrting it I realize that maybe you don’t see that you’re being derogatory. You think you’re just stating facts. But there’s no evidence that people who believe in God are less rational than people who don’t, and no evidence that they must engage in mental exercises in order to act as rationally as atheists.

    As I continue to contend, agnosticism is the only logical response to the God question. There’s no such thing as an agnostic atheist. If you must assert your belief that there’s no God, at least refrain from insinuating that those who do believe in the existence of God find it more difficult to use logic. Neither belief is rational (logical) in that way. I seriously doubt you would in turn defend the bigotry of believers who say that atheists lack human compassion and care about science more than they care about people. Derogatory statements about groups of people based on their beliefs is bigotry. Just because the statement is something more subtle like compartmentalization in order to do logical work, doesn’t make it less derogatory. And since it’s unscientific, it makes it more egregious coming from someone who’s supposed to be a scientific skeptic.

    “Faith is incompatible with critical thinking in that they cannot occupy the same intellectual sphere – and I quoted multiple advocates of faith who are advocating this position.”

    I guess I misunderstood this? Because faith is something that happens in the brain, right? Likewise, critical thinking is a brain function. So when you say they can’t occupy the same intellectual sphere, it sounds like you think there are ‘spheres’ in the brain, and one can contain faith, and another can contain critical thinking – but they can’t co-exist in the same ‘sphere’ in the brain. When you further suggest that anyone who believes in God is “compartmentalizing” you further impugn that persons mental integrity.

    Also, if advocates of faith are irrational, then why are you agreeing with their reasoning? If they too separate faith and critical thinking, just like you, then how can you say they’re irrational? Perhaps they advocate a different choice in some areas, but that’s a different matter, right? Like I said, religion has irrational practices and tenets. And people who violate their critical thinking in order to do something like deny evolution need to be encouraged to look at evidence in scientific matters. But they don’t deserve to be called irrational, or maybe even needing psychological treatment. If they’re basing their research on creationism, instead of gathering and evaluating data for what it is, then they’re not doing science anyway, so you can’t say that they’re “compartmentalizing”. They’re just doing pseudoscience. We judge “irrational” based on behavior, not the common mental practices of all people. Address the science the person is doing. If it’s bad science, they’re probably not employing good critical thinking. We can’t deduce that they have “faith” if they’re doing bad science. Maybe they had unjustified faith in their own capability to employ critical thinking. And yet if we require that scientists check their faith in the human ability to understand the world at the door, nothing will be accomplished. People are motivated by many things. One of them is faith. Faith needs to be balanced by reason, not replaced by it. Of course now I’m talking about things irrelevant to the central question, so I should close.

    I know I’ve repeated myself a number of times here. But I need to explain why I used the word bigotry, and it actually takes more time to be succinct. Time which I don’t have unfortunately, so I’m sorry for that. I hope I’ve made myself understandable.

  166. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 5:45 pm

    hardnose –

    “But there have to be fields to be detected first, and the brain doesn’t produce them”
    Of course the brain produces electromagnetic fields.

    But they have been detected, can be measured, and do not enable ESP or suchlike. You try and argue there can be as yet undiscovered EM fields emanating from the brain through “quantum entanglement”, and that is utter nonsense.

    We can detect any and all EM fields — EM is known, translated into all kinds of technology, and simply cannot be a vector for your claimed phenomena.

  167. BillyJoe7on 19 May 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Regarding leo:

    Im not sure why anyone is responding to this little cheat.
    He has been caught flat out copying and pasting.
    He is not worth any more time or effort.

    leo,

    Please put that tail between your cowardly lion legs and leave the stage.
    You’re an embarrassment.

  168. DrJoeinCAon 19 May 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Mumadadd: “Weighed against the rights of an unborn child, as BJ7 already stated, are the rights of the sentient being upon whom it’s totally dependent for its survival. Under what circumstances would it be correct to give a dividing mass of cells with zero brain function, or even brain tissue, any rights at all?”

    I agree that it is a thorny issue, and I don’t think that science can answer that question. It becomes a philosophical question. To some people, their philosophy is rooted in religion, and this religion has teachings and the teachings guide their behavior. In America, “philosophy” is not protected by the Constitution, but religion is. And if your religion teaches you that life begins at conception or wherever and your religion forbids you to take human life, then why shouldn’t you have the right to not finance/make easy the taking of a human life?

    BJ7 thinks he knows when life begins. I personally am not sure. I know that there reaches a point during gestation when there is heart and brain activity, and perhaps this is the time when you could say human life begins and the fetus achieves some degree of personhood. Certainly, in the third trimester, when the fetus is capable of living independent of the mother pod, the fetus has the right to not be killed.

    I don’t think that one has to “weigh” the rights of the fetus against the rights of the woman unless there has to be a decision over which one survives. If it’s one or the other, the woman’s rights would take precedence in my opinion. However, if it isn’t a matter of survival, if the abortion is only contemplated as a convenience to the woman, then I think you’d be hard put to say that the living fetus loses its right to not be killed.

    Regarding capital punishment, I’m conflicted here. On the one hand, you can’t discount the sweetness of revenge for a particularly horrible act. On the other, I’ve seen the many mistakes that a jury system can be prone to. I don’t think that religion/faith are in conflict with capital punishment, if that’s what you’re asking.

  169. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Bronzedog

    Neither do I but at least he is honest about the status of parapsychology unlike others here.

    BillyJoe

    Yes I admit it I copied and pasted. But not all of my information was copied and pasted. I will reframe from doing that ever again. I will just cite the links if I have to do so.

  170. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 6:15 pm

    @Steve12

    Not so fast Richard Wiseman admits it hear in the media news

    http://barenormality.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/that-wiseman-quote/

  171. steve12on 19 May 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Leo – can you do me a huge favor? When you troll google for evidence, can you at least f#cking read it before you ask us to?

    I’m with BJ7: you are a little cut & paste troll liar who can’t EVEN be bothered to read what you cut and paste.

    I’m done with you, as we should all be.

  172. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Emily –

    If a god exists outside the universe, how would it interact with humans inside the universe? The christian god is personal, in the sense that a person interacts with god by offering prayers (which are heard by god), and some people believe god talks to them (or at least they perceive god’s will). By definition, if A is outside B, A cannot interact with the contents of B. Humans can say a lot of things that sound profound, but don’t make a great deal of sense.

    If god interacts with the human world (e.g. by acting on a prayer), it cannot be outside the universe, unless the universe is somehow “magic”. Magic in the sense that god makes things happen, but we cannot detect its actions even though they affect material objects on this planet. Magic in the sense of “copying” fish and bread, thus creating something out of nothing — like a gamemaster changing the parameters of the game, leaving the players none the wiser.

    That’s why I mentioned “last-thursdayism”, which holds that the universe, complete with a fake history including all the observations science has made, from cosmic background radiation to dinosaur fossils, metamorphic rocks, innumerable galaxies, to all our memories and artifacts was created last Thursday. There’s no way to prove this is false, but it is not a very productive way to look at the universe. I’m sorry to say, but unless one reduces god to something like the original cause (which in itself raises as many questions as it solves), there is not much difference between last-thursdayism and christianity apart from the fact we have assimilated the core beliefs of christianity through two thousand years of intimate intertwining with our culture — the stuff that is so evident we learn it without teaching or awareness, making it the bedrock of our worldview, and apparently for many impossible to abandon.

    Of course, the architect is not a part of the house, but if she is to do anything else than draw the plans, even something as simple as flick a light switch, she has to be made of the same stuff as the house, and leave a trace of her passing (if only a shadow). In his poetic image, C S Lewis mistook a set of architectural drawings for a real house. And in this real house we live in, there is no trace of his architect.

  173. Bill Openthalton 19 May 2014 at 7:04 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    When life starts, when it ends, how people relate to each other, who can do what (i.e. such hot topics as abortion, euthanasia, acceptable sexual behaviour, or roles being played by different -and always arbitrary- categories of people) are moral issues, and as such difficult subjects for scientific inquiry. Sam Harris tried, and got shot down in flames.

    Most of us here are on the progressive side of the moral spectrum, and hence will see issues like gender equality(*), abortion and LGBT rights(**) and marriage (***) in a progressive light. You approach it from a more conservative angle. Both are equally moral, just different. Jonathan Haidt’s work on the pillars of morality is very illuminating in this respect.

    (*) based on a couple of questionable assumptions, i.e. that the politics and professional life are the only important human endeavours, and that statistical measures of equivalence between males and females as categories determine equal treatment of individuals.

    (**) based on other equally questionable assumptions, e.g. that the fact of being attracted to people of one’s own as well as the other sex justifies having sexual relationships with multiple partners, but see also (***).

    (***) based on the arbitrary assumption that there should only be legal bonds between two people, which could make sense if they are of different sex and have the intention to procreate (but some moral systems don’t see anything wrong with polygamy), but makes no sense when one accepts that a bisexual person should be able to have relations with more than one partner, etc.

    As you can see, it’s a moral minefield out there.

  174. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 7:18 pm

    @Steve12

    I am sorry I made you so mad it seems you can’t handle the evidence that doesn’t fit your assumption in materialism. I am also sorry that you got it dead wrong I do read everything I copy and paste. I remember one skeptic saying that if a spirit materialize in front of him and he had a long conversation with him or her as well as touched him or her and saw this apparition with his own eyes he still would not believe it was true.

  175. The Other John Mcon 19 May 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Leo I am also giving up on you, right after I say this in response: If Jesus Herbert Christ himself materialized right in front of me, sat on my lap, and kissed me on the old smackeroo, i STILL wouldn’t believe it to be true. I’m a student of the mind, and I understand the many many ways it can go awry. It’s not to be trusted to answer such huge questions.

    And even though something like this wouldn’t convince me, I am still open to the *slim possibility* of being convinced with unfakeable, unknowable evidence. Really, really, really good convincing evidence. Maybe leave us a scientific or math insight 200 years in advance. Or portend the future with an undeniable prediction. Nothing less than a *true* miracle will do.

  176. DrJoeinCAon 19 May 2014 at 7:57 pm

    BillOpenthalt: I absolutely agree with you that it is a moral minefield. And it is something that science cannot deal with. All these issues are decided individually by personal value systems including faith and religion, and we protect a person’s right to determine their own values and act upon those values.

    The community is made up of persons who hold different value systems, and sometimes the majority prevails and makes laws based on those values. Sometimes the majority changes its collective mind and changes the laws. That’s the way it goes.

    My personal political tendency is towards the libertarian side of things. Let people do what the hell they want to do as long as they don’t ask me to give them my assets to finance what I don’t agree with morally or religiously.

  177. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 8:35 pm

    The Other John Mc

    So you don’t trust that love is real? you don’t trust that someone actually touched you?. You are kidding me right?.

  178. RickKon 19 May 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Leo,

    How many claims of paranormal events have been successfully replaced by perfectly normal explanations? How many gods are there that you don’t believe in? In Europe 500 years ago 90+% of the population thought witchcraft was an every-day event. Some parts of the world still do.

    Is there any part of human belief that has been wrong more often than claims of the paranormal?

    So, yes, it takes a high standard of evidence to overcome centuries of frauds, misperceptions, hearsay and failure. When someone makes a claim about the paranormal, I simply imagine that they are 1000 old, and that everything they’ve ever said in their 1000-year life up to now has been a lie. Then I judge their evidence based on that standard – is it enough to convince me that THIS time they’re telling me the truth.

    What is unreasonable in this approach? What is wrong with this standard of proof?

  179. leo100on 19 May 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Because we as proponents have no idea what higher standards of science you guys are talking about. But, there isn’t any in the first place because science itself reveals the truth about things. Its called raising the bar when we meet your standard of evidence you raise the bar more and more where their is no end.

  180. tmac57on 19 May 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Mlema- Two questions: 1. Have you ever done anything “irrational” in your life?

    2.If you have,should you then be labeled an “irrational person”?

    It does not follow that someone who hold on to one or more irrational beliefs should be labeled an irrational person. Just as someone who does something dumb such as not switching off an electrical breaker before working on an outlet can be labeled a dumb person. That is a strawman tactic to make Steve look like an intolerant person who slaps a pejorative term on the whole person,rather than a specific behavior.
    We all have ways of compartmentalizing aspects of our thoughts and behaviors that might not always be purely logical,optimal,or really thoughtful.It is not unfair to point those out ,and why they might be a problem,but it does not follow that pointing out any flaw in a person’s reasoning implies that you mean it to hold true for the person as a whole:

    Take a look at this piece about ‘Steel Man Arguments’ if you want to argue better,rather than just win points for what you might perceive as ‘gotcha’ flaws in another’s reasoning:

    http://themerelyreal.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/steelmanning/

  181. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 2:02 am

    @joe

    I see you’re still up to the same old tricks, this one is particularly hilarious. ..

    “My reaction would be that Islam and sharia law teach that “blasphemers” should be eliminated, women should be subject to their men, etc. This is antithetical to my belief system and to the system upon which the US was founded and survives. That’s why there is a difference between religions. ”

    Do I need to show you in the Bible where many very similar beliefs are espoused. For example it should be easy to find what God says should be done to a man who lays with another man. Way to be a bigot though.

  182. Bill Openthalton 20 May 2014 at 5:42 am

    DrJoeinCA –

    The community is made up of persons who hold different value systems, and sometimes the majority prevails and makes laws based on those values. Sometimes the majority changes its collective mind and changes the laws.

    Actually, that’s why we (should) have a secular society with a strict separation between church and state, with the state defining the basic moral framework, not any particular religion. Personal freedom of religion does imply no person, including parents, should be able to impose anything beyond the common morality on another person, including their children. This consideration lead to the ruling against circumcision in a German court. It goes without saying that such an approach is not really feasible, because religion is also a social institution, not merely a matter of personal conviction. Whether religions can change to remove all forced interventions on a child’s body from their practices remains to be seen (there are more problems banning circumcision than banning FGM).

    Secular societies are much younger than religion-based societies, and it remains to be seen if we can arrive at a reasonable compromise between a secular morality including such hot potatoes as abortion and euthanasia and universalist religious moralities (that start from the dogma that they are the only true morality). Any society worthy of that name includes solidarity around the common values — there is little sense in granting the right to abortion or euthanasia while not providing affordable services. This means that your libertarian idea (not paying for what you don’t agree with) is a non-starter as it would remove the substance of a secular society, leaving an empty hulk. One cannot have a society without a minimum of “living together”.

  183. The Other John Mcon 20 May 2014 at 8:03 am

    “One cannot have a society without a minimum of “living together”.”

    This is the tragedy of the commons. People want the benefits of living in groups, societies, and civilizations without paying the associated costs of doing so.

    Bill O is correct in that the Libertarian ideal of only paying what you “believe in” is a non-starter. As an extreme case, consider someone who is absolutely and unequivocally opposed to physical violence of any kind. They don’t have to support police, or national defense? We could all just skip out on paying what we disagreed with? How exactly would this work? Wouldn’t we all just suddenly turn “disagreeable” on most everything and keep our cold hard cash?

  184. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:58 am

    Grabula: Bigot? Bigot??? WTF are you getting that? My religion does NOT teach that infidels should be killed or that women should be subject to men. Other religions do. What’s your point? Gee, and you went so long without calling names.

    BillOpenthalt: The “state” defines the basic moral framework? No. The people define the moral framework and are free to elect people who agree with their moral framework. The elected ones then reflect the views of their constituency. That’s the way it goes in free countries.

    “There is little sense in granting the right to abortion or euthanasia while not providing affordable services.” That’s the left wing version, that a “right” is the same as an “entitlement.” Another way of looking at is that you have the right to an abortion (and to own property and to live where you want and to buy a house), but you don’t have the right to demand that someone else pay for it for you. Let the charitable people who believe that “living together” includes making abortion affordable and available finance it.

    TheOther: There are certain roles of government that even many libertarians believe in, such as national defense and police. The role of government is to protect the rights of the people, not to finance their abortions.

  185. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t feed the troll

  186. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 12:24 pm

    (Not you Joe)

  187. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 12:31 pm

    “Bill O is correct in that the Libertarian ideal of only paying what you “believe in” is a non-starter. ”

    absolutely

    Libertarianism is simply the childish refusal to acknowledge the difference between political theory and political practice. Libertarianism as an influence in policy making is good when one ways practical outcomes, etc. A primarily libertarianism system, however, is simply denying reality in slavish pursuit of one’s moral ideology.

    I think it’s funny that as we’ve gotten closer to the Libertarian side, our economy has worsened and the middle class has shrank drastically. They say we just haven’t gone far enough, so I guess they’re proposing some sort of U-shaped function? I think they’re just FOS.

  188. Bill Openthalton 20 May 2014 at 12:32 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    The “state” as shorthand for “the structures representative of the population within a legal framework”. Democracy is just as much (if not more) about guaranteeing the rights of minorities (which would include each person as an individual) as exercising the will of the majority. Any stable society needs a strong legal framework which limits what the majority, based on its size, can decide (a constitution).

    If this “state” is to ensure freedom of religion, it needs to guarantee the rights of the followers of minority religions by limiting the scope of the laws the representatives of the majority can enact. This is the essence of a separation of state and church. It thus follows that at least this one moral principle (freedom of religion) is defined by the state, often in open conflict with the moral principles of these religions (many of which hold they are the sole moral authority, and do not tolerate other religions).

    In a more diverse society, the state needs to define more moral rules. As an example, abortion and euthanasia are accepted by a some, and rejected by others, thus the state has to provide legislation to arbitrate between these opposing views (typically, neither of the groups will like the outcome of the negotiation).

    As far as entitlement is concerned, granting rights is meaningless unless these rights are enabled. If everyone is entitled to education, then education has to be available to everyone (how this is achieved is a matter for discussion and compromise). The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to abortion and euthanasia.

  189. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Steve12: “A primarily libertarianism system, however, is simply denying reality in slavish pursuit of one’s moral ideology.” Oh, as opposed to socialism?

    “I think it’s funny that as we’ve gotten closer to the Libertarian side, our economy has worsened and the middle class has shrank drastically.” Hmmm, I wonder how close we have gotten to the libertarian side when the size of government and the intrusion of government into our daily life has increased so dramatically over the last 100 years or so. Would anyone seriously opine that the government is less intrusive now than it was 100 years ago?

    BillOpenthalt: The people in the form of the state have guaranteed themselves in law freedom of religion. That means that people are allowed to practice whatever religion they want. It also means that if one’s religion is against abortion because it is the taking of an innocent life, that person is not forced to violate their religious beliefs. To quote you: “granting rights is meaningless unless these rights are enabled.”

    There is a difference between a right and an entitlement. You have a right to hold property. But you are not entitled to have property provided to you. You have a right to get an abortion, but you do not have the right to have the abortion given to you by someone whose religious beliefs oppose it. You have the right to go from place A to place B, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be provided with transportation.

    You have the right to practice your religion, and that means what it says.

  190. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 1:12 pm

    “Oh, as opposed to socialism?”

    Becasue those are the only alternatives!

    And “Socialism” means absolutely nothing the way it’s thrown around now, so it’s a good word to grab for. Everything other than Pinochet’s Chile is Stalin’s Russia now.

    ” Hmmm, I wonder how close we have gotten to the libertarian side when the size of government and the intrusion of government into our daily life has increased so dramatically over the last 100 years or so. Would anyone seriously opine that the government is less intrusive now than it was 100 years ago?”

    I agree that there are areas that the gov’t should get out of. OUr personal lives, drugs (though not completely), snooping on our communication, squelching dissent. Regulations and tax burden on small businesses should be re-thought.

    But the move toward a deregulated financial structure (i.e., The Libertarian Laissez Faire Dream) has been a complete and unmitigated disaster. A far bigger problem than the gov’t being more intrusive

  191. sonicon 20 May 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I think the word ‘faith’ is being used in a number of different ways here.

    “Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: Ye must have faith. It is the quality which the scientists cannot dispense with”.
    Max Planck

    I’m not sure Planck is using the term the same way Dr. N. is.

    I’m not sure it doesn’t make more sense to-

    1. Recognize all humans have faith
    2. Recognize faith can be a very powerful motivator
    3. Try to learn to use this power in appropriate ways

  192. Hosson 20 May 2014 at 1:25 pm

    So, libertarian bashers, what is the “right” political philosophy? As far as I can tell, there are good principles found in most political philosophies, especially since political philosophies are not isolated from one another and often overlap. Any ideology can lead to various levels irrational thinking. Any political philosophy that become static becomes outdated very quickly. Incorporating new ideas and values is important to political philosophy regardless of their origin.

    I try to incorporate what makes sense from different political philosophies to form my own political ideology. Reasoning based on ideology has its own inherent issues, which is why one should routinely question their assumptions and values.

    To clarify, I do not disagree with many of the specific political criticisms, but some of the characterizations and criticisms go too far.

  193. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Steve12: Socialism was just an example. It could also have been, as opposed to every other system of government.

    True, the finance guys ran off with the cheese. That contributed to the 2008 disaster no doubt. It’s not obvious to me that the response of government should be to increase its role in the economy.

  194. Hosson 20 May 2014 at 1:31 pm

    sonic
    How about this definition of faith?
    Faith is having a higher degree of confidence than what is justifiable through reason and/or evidence.

  195. sonicon 20 May 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Regarding libertarianism and the US government-
    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_chart_1900_2018USp_15s1li0181290_871cs_F0xF0sF0lF0f_Federal_State_And_Local_Spending_In_20th_Century

    This graph clearly demonstrates that government expenditures over time have grown as a proportion of GDP- exactly the opposite of what one would predict if libertarianism was driving the actions.

  196. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 2:10 pm

    “It’s not obvious to me that the response of government should be to increase its role in the economy.”

    What role though? In some capacities, I would agree with you.

    But we badly need the fed gov’t to regulate finance or 2008 is going to happen again. It is literally inevitable.

    But here’s the problem: to say gov’t regulation is good or bad is sufficiently vague as to be meaningnless. These easy binaries are popular because we are lazy, and don’t want to make determinations on a case by case basis (i.e., the only thing that makes any sense).

  197. sonicon 20 May 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hoss-
    Re: the definition of ‘faith’-
    I would think that an excellent place to start.

  198. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 2:14 pm

    “This graph clearly demonstrates that government expenditures over time have grown as a proportion of GDP- exactly the opposite of what one would predict if libertarianism was driving the actions.”

    Yes – but regulation of the economy, especially in the financial sector, has decreased. We’re not a libertarian state, I understand that.

    I’m using the financial industry because they have become the closest thing to Laissez Faire we have. And it completely shit the bed as regulation has been reduced.

  199. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 2:16 pm

    How’s this? How’s capitalism with common sense rules not dictated by ideology?

    I know that you can’t put an “ism” after it, or make yourself sound cool at dinner parties, but I think empirically speaking it’s the best course.

  200. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Steve12: Yeah, case by case, but no way “common sense” gets involved in gummint. Talk about a fantasy world.

  201. sonicon 20 May 2014 at 3:15 pm

    steve12-
    The banks in the US have tons of regulations- and have for years.
    So the regulators have done a very poor job– removing some regulations and not others and so forth.
    To say the banking (financial) industry in the US is an example of libertarianism is to misunderstand what libertarianism is, or to misunderstand the regulation of the banks or both, IMHO.

  202. steve12on 20 May 2014 at 3:36 pm

    “The banks in the US have tons of regulations- and have for years.”

    I’m going to treat the banking industry and the financial system as tantamount, per the deregltion that helped create this mess.

    Yeah, the regulators turned a blind eye – though often following orders from the top.

    But are you telling me that the derivatives market has been had “tons of regulations for years?”.

    Are you going to tell me that the relaxation of capital requirements – specifically that mortgage based derivatives could be used as such- had nothing to do with 2008? That banks could essentially insure themselves had nothing to do with it? That merger-mania over the past 30 years had nothing to do with 2008? That allowing no wall between investment and consumer activities had nothing with 2008?

    These are all relaxations of gov’t regulation, all called for by libertarians, and all completely disastrous

  203. Bill Openthalton 20 May 2014 at 6:00 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    That means that people are allowed to practice whatever religion they want. It also means that if one’s religion is against abortion because it is the taking of an innocent life, that person is not forced to violate their religious beliefs. To quote you: “granting rights is meaningless unless these rights are enabled.”

    Indeed – which is why a secular society that allows abortion does not force anyone to abort. A society that accepts euthanasia does not force anyone to swallow the purple pill. But a religion that has circumcision as a tradition forces mutilation on defenseless babies. And religion that does not allow abortion will force women to carry to term against their wish, and then sometimes cast out mother and child to live miserable lives (I am not saying you or your religion condones this, but remember the Irish Magdalene Laundries).

    If religion is a personal matter (which is has to be to make freedom of religion a meaningful concept), then religion cannot be used as a reason to force others accept the moral rules of any religion, and the secular state has to promulgate and guarantee a basic morality all are bound to. Such morality will include freedom of religion, but can also include the right to abortion before the foetus is considered to be a human being. Again, one cannot let one group, one religion, one ideology decide on moral rules the various components of society disagree on. But that does not mean that adults are not free not to avail themselves of secular rights if these conflict with their religion (that’s a lot of nots in one sentence :) ).

    Any individual should be free to choose their religion, so one could argue a truly secular society should postpone ritual mutilations if not the actual the teaching and practicing of religion until a child has sufficient discernment to make an informed choice. As I said, this is not practical, as parents usually do their utmost to “mold the breed” (to quote George Banks) and pass (force) their convictions and traditions onto their children. We will need a lot more experience with secular states before there is a consensus on the removal of basic morality from the realm of religions.

    By assuming the role of guarantor of fundamental rights, the secular state also has to provide the social services that match these rights. The state needs to be able to stop religions and other ideologies from forcing their viewpoints on others, and provide a mechanism for the evolution of these basic rights. It also has to protect the weak from the strong, the law abiding citizens from the criminals, and provide the basic level of solidarity needed for a society. (Groups living largely isolated existences do not a society make). This means determining what will be taxed, and what will be redistributed as basic services.

    We can (and are, vide supra) arguing about these rules, compromises and arrangements, but we cannot argue about the basic structure of a modern secular state.

  204. Bill Openthalton 20 May 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Steve12 –

    But are you telling me that the derivatives market has been had “tons of regulations for years?”.

    The problem with the derivatives market is that derivatives were, not so long ago, an innovation. We needed to gain experience with the impact of derivatives on the financial system to be able to regulate them. It would have been impossible to foretell the mess derivatives can lead to beforehand — like with many innovations, the problems only start to appear when their use explodes (think cars).

    I think we are now in a position to regulate the derivatives markets without throwing out the child with the bathwater.

  205. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 6:38 pm

    BillO: “Which is why a secular society that allows abortion does not force anyone to abort. A society that accepts euthanasia does not force anyone to swallow the purple pill.” All true.

    “But a religion that has circumcision as a tradition forces mutilation on defenseless babies.” When did this become “mutilation”? That seems like a personal value judgment to me. More than half the male population in the world is circumcised. So what? “Defenseless?”

    If a religion teaches that male circumcision is part of the obligation of a parent as part of a covenant with God, then the state should not intervene. Leave the state out of it entirely. Allow people to practice their religion as guaranteed by the Constitution. This is not up for dispute.

    http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/cycle/circumcision.htm

    “And religion that does not allow abortion will force women to carry to term against their wish, and then sometimes cast out mother and child to live miserable lives (I am not saying you or your religion condones this, but remember the Irish Magdalene Laundries).” Yikes! No religion “forces” women to carry to term. Women are free to make the decision for themselves. What about phrasing this as “a religion that does not allow an unborn child to be killed…?”

    No, I didn’t remember the Irish Magdalene Laundries, but I looked up one interpretation of what actually happened from the Catholic point of view.

    http://www.catholicleague.org/myths-of-the-magdalene-laundries/

    Yes, it is a personal matter even in a secular state, but the other way of looking at it is that people whose religion prevents them from taking part in abortion, such as by paying for it, should not be forced to violate those religious beliefs. I have not advocated for a ban on abortion. I have advocated for the rights of the religious not to finance it. There is no entitlement to abortion.

    “By assuming the role of guarantor of fundamental rights, the secular state also has to provide the social services that match these rights.” Again, I think you are confusing “rights” with “entitlements.” If the state (people) determined that there is something that everyone is entitled to, such as public education or medical care, then it would have to provide or finance those services. This doesn’t offend anyone’s religion or moral sensibilities.

    But if the state (people) decided that this is purely a personal matter and recognized that some people are religiously opposed to it as a matter of moral conviction (it’s a sin), then the state would not ban it even though a significant portion of the population might be morally opposed to it. But the state (people) would NOT pay for it because it would acknowledge that this is a matter of moral conviction that offends a significant portion of the population and violates their right to practice their religion.

    I disagree that what we are talking about is a “basic right.”

  206. Bill Openthalton 20 May 2014 at 7:06 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    “But a religion that has circumcision as a tradition forces mutilation on defenseless babies.” When did this become “mutilation”? That seems like a personal value judgment to me. More than half the male population in the world is circumcised. So what? “Defenseless?”
    If a religion teaches that male circumcision is part of the obligation of a parent as part of a covenant with God, then the state should not intervene. Leave the state out of it entirely. Allow people to practice their religion as guaranteed by the Constitution. This is not up for dispute.

    Chopping off a part of one’s anatomy is mutilation. It is only because some religions have been doing it for ages we don’t see it as such. Babies are typically defenseless, and rely on their parents to defend them.

    Why should your freedom of religion give you the right to decide about other people’s lives (including your children)? Children are not your possessions to do with as you please, but humans with the same rights as you. If the covenant with my god included chopping of the pinkies of the left hands of the likes of you, would that be covered by my freedom of religion? Would it matter that my religion’s definition of you as morally and mentally undeveloped and hence incapable of making your own decisions carry any weight in your vision of freedom of religion? Would my god’s idea of refusing education to girls be acceptable under your interpretation of freedom of religion? Of course not — so why is circumcising baby boys OK? Wait until they can decide for themselves if they want a covenant with your god.

    If the state (people) determined that there is something that everyone is entitled to, such as public education or medical care, then it would have to provide or finance those services. This doesn’t offend anyone’s religion or moral sensibilities.

    After all the hullabaloo about Obamacare, this sentence made me chuckle.

    But you see, our current secular states have decided that it is OK to have an abortion, that it is OK to marry same-sex couples, that (in some of them) euthanasia is a (severely circumscribed) right, etc. It is the religious folk who argue these rights (which they are not forced to exercise) should be withdrawn from people who do not share their religious convictions, because they claim universality for their morality. They “know” their god is real (but cannot prove it), and wants them to force their views on others. Like you want to force your perceived covenant with your god (who is not the god of other, equally lofty and established religions) onto your sons. But you do, no doubt, shudder in horror when being told about FGM in Africa. Because your religion and traditions are right, and theirs are wrong.

  207. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 8:05 pm

    BillO; “Chopping off a part of one’s anatomy is mutilation.” You can call it that but it is not the English definition. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mutilate Circumcision is neither injury nor disfigurement nor making imperfect nor depriving a person of an essential part.

    “It is only because some religions have been doing it for ages we don’t see it as such.” Exactly. We don’t see it as mutilation.

    “Why should your freedom of religion give you the right to decide about other people’s lives (including your children)?” Uh, I have no answer to that other than that parents do it all the time even without religion. If this were something that was going to “damage” a person like chopping off a limb, then this would be an interesting case for the Supreme Court to decide. But there is no damage or mutilation so no case.

    No, refusing education to your children would not be acceptable. There are many reasons for this, among which are that doing this will adversely affect your children in their adult lives, that the state (people) have determined that kids should be educated, that this would be discrimination based on sex, etc. Male circumcision does not adversely affect your child as a child or as an adult. There’s just no harm in it.

    I agree that some religious folk oppose same-sex marriage, but that is quickly becoming a non-issue as religious people realize that others don’t share their distaste for it. (And by the way, there are arguments against same-sex marriage which are not based on religion.)

    Regarding abortion, however, you have to realize how different this is. Religious people consider that this is murder, which is the most heinous of sins. They’re not taking the stand to be against the woman’s “right to choose,” wherever that came from. They are defending the life of the helpless unborn whom they consider to have the right to life. Do you see how profoundly different that is from snipping off a piece of redundant skin?

    The religious person would consider taking part in abortion murder, the taking of an innocent life, a mortal sin. So the Catholic woman would not do it (probably), the Catholic doctor would not perform the procedure, the Catholic hospital would not allow it to be done on its premises. If there is this intense and profound opposition to abortion on religious grounds, how could you demand that these Catholics violate their religious principles (the practice of which is protected by the Constitution) by having to pay for and thus be complicit in the procedure/murder?

  208. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 10:20 pm

    @Joe

    “Bigot? Bigot??? WTF are you getting that?”

    Oh the outrage Joe, you should be in hollywood. How about your disgust at another religions practice that in actuality parellels many very similar practices in the bible. As if the abrahamic systems were much different from each other in their fundamental hatred of women, and everyone else who does not toe the party line. Can’t have your cake and eat it too Joe.

  209. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 10:27 pm

    @Joe

    “If a religion teaches that male circumcision is part of the obligation of a parent as part of a covenant with God”

    Or Joe, coming full circle, why don’t we eradicate useless systems fo belief based on faith and nt rational thinking, instead of allowing parents to mutilate or deny medicine and apropriate tretaments to their children who have no concept of what the responible thing to do is? Wouldn’t that be sweet if that kind of irrational thinking didn’t have to be a part of the way we make decisions in this society? There’s no medical reasons for circumcision of any kind, male or female. It’s just a long line of barbaric and irrational behaviour committed by faith based think.

  210. Niche Geekon 20 May 2014 at 10:40 pm

    @Joe

    “If there is this intense and profound opposition to abortion on religious grounds, how could you demand that these Catholics violate their religious principles (the practice of which is protected by the Constitution) by having to pay for and thus be complicit in the procedure/murder?”

    Does your position extend to all religions? Should a Christian Scientist be permitted to withhold their share of the VA from their tax bill? Should a Buddhist withhold their share of the defence budget? Should a Scientologist withhold their share of NIMH?

    Is your argument that taxes should be piece-meal, or that the US government only offer services that offend no religions practiced within the US?

  211. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Grabula: Hallucinating again? The Catholic Church has “fundamental hatred of women?” Where are you getting all this? I notice that SN did not answer the bigot charge made at him, but I’m calling you on this.

    “Why don’t we eradicate useless systems fo belief based on faith and nt rational thinking?” Ah, there it is. Religious practices offend you so you want to ERADICATE them. Hmm, that sounds suspiciously like “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” I suppose that we could include members of religions there too, couldn’t we? Maybe have them wear a yellow star so we could recognize them, isolate them, and prevent them from doing their dastardly deeds to the poor defenseless newborns and to the rest of society?

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot

    Why does there have to be a “medical reason” for circumcision for it to be done? It’s a religious practice that obviously doesn’t impact you at all. Funny how you rail against circumcision, the snipping of a tiny piece of skin from the foreskin of a newborn, and yet you would be ok if that child’s life had been snuffed out a couple of months earlier because the woman was having a bad hair day and decided to exercise her “freedom to choose.” Yep, you’ve certainly staked out the moral high ground on this one.

  212. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 11:00 pm

    @Joe

    “Ah, there it is. Religious practices offend you so you want to ERADICATE them. Hmm, that sounds suspiciously like “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;”

    What was that pot? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your blackness…

    “Funny how you rail against circumcision, the snipping of a tiny piece of skin from the foreskin of a newborn, and yet you would be ok if that child’s life had been snuffed out a couple of months earlier because the woman was having a bad hair day and decided to exercise her “freedom to choose.” ”

    Your obtuseness has reached stubborn levels Joe. First, circumcision is mutilation on self aware human beings as tiny as they may be. If they want to grow up and choose to be circumcised, fine.

    Also you bad hair day strawman is the worst. I’ve already explained I’m not comfortable with the idea of abortion, in a perfect world all healthy babies would be born and live fantastic, healthy lives. But what about babies with abnormalities that would make their care complex, and their lives grueling and tortuous? How about situations where it’s the mother or the child? Your black and white faith based way of looking at life is the problem Joe. If you were capable of compartmentalizing we’d probably take you more seriously but it seems those with faith struggle with this.

  213. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:03 pm

    NicheGreek: My position is that the government should be involved with doing as little as possible and interfere with citizens’ lives as little as possible. National defense is one role, police protection is another. Protecting the country is a valid role of government and all citizens should be required to contribute to this role. If that involves getting into a war to defend the country — and only to defend the country — then citizens should be required to contribute to that.

    Regarding the VA (I’m assuming you mean Veterans Administration), I’m not sure why the government has the role of maintaining health facilities for veterans. If there are veterans who need health care for a service-connected problem, they should be able to go to non-government doctors and hospitals.

    Ditto with the NIMH. Why is the federal government involved in mental health research anyway?

    Should the government be involved in paying for abortions? No.

  214. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Grabula: You are the one who used the word “eradicate,” Adolf.

    No, male circumcision is not mutilation. We’ve already discussed this. Look back at your notes.

    Regarding abortion, you are not “comfortable” with it? So would you set limits on it? Like only for the life of the woman or for those infants whose care would be “complex” and their lives “grueling”? But what about the woman who just wants to be done with it. She made a mistake 7 months ago and now she wants to abort the perfectly health fetus. You ok with her making that choice? Or would you not allow it? Make up your mind. Man up and make a decision.

  215. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 11:20 pm

    @Joe

    “You are the one who used the word “eradicate,” Adolf. ”

    Haha, you’re just full of classics tonight aren’t yo Joe. Nothing like comparing those who disagree with you with hitler and/or the nazis! Of course as usual you miss my point.

    “No, male circumcision is not mutilation.”

    You may not believe it’s not mutilation but it most certainly is. Like acupuncture, just because you say it’s so doesn’t make you or it right. I don’t get why mutilating babies is ok with you but abortion is so abhorrent.

    “So would you set limits on it?”

    I’m more ok with our lives not being dictated by an ignorant interpretation of what is right or wrong. That’s exactly why people of faith shouldnt’ be making decisions on laws or the welfare of the people. Anyone who believes a cracker and some grape juice literally turns to flesh and blood doesn’t show a rational level of thinking I would trust to make the right decisions. Like you and mutilating babies, they can rationalize anything based on their faith and not what is right.

  216. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 11:23 pm

    The difference between you and I joe is that you are ok with saying god says it’s ok, or not ok and that’s good enough for me. I prefer a rational discussion in order to make laws and policy. Hence this whole discussion on why people of faith have a hard time setting aside their faith just long enough to consider the rational choices, and Dr. Novellas original blog showing how faith based leadership often encourages you and yours to bypass rational thought for an ignorant acceptance.

  217. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Grabula: Wow! You actually had absolutely nothing to say.

    No, it is not mutilation. English may not be your first language so

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mutilate

    “I don’t get why mutilating babies is ok with you but abortion is so abhorrent.” Seriously, you don’t see why someone would find there is a difference between the two? Here’s a hint. One is surgically removing a piece of skin about the size of your pinky nail and the other is taking a life. Does that make it clearer for you?

    And you still refuse to answer whether you would set limits on abortion. Is it that you don’t know or have no opinion or it doesn’t matter?

  218. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Grabula: No, the difference between you and me is that you will not make a decision at all — rational or otherwise — except to say that I shouldn’t be allowed to make a decision based on my faith.

    “People of faith shouldnt’ be making decisions on laws or the welfare of the people.” Let’s make sure that all the people who vote or hold office pass the litmus test of not being “people of faith.” You’re digging a very deep hole here.

    All you have left is to ridicule religious practices. That ain’t much.

  219. grabulaon 20 May 2014 at 11:43 pm

    @Joe

    “All you have left is to ridicule religious practices.”

    Still missing the point Joe? You haven’t been following this thread very well is all I’m ridiculing is religious practices – barbaric and disgusting as they are. You’ve so far unsuccessfully defended even those, much less the more subtle issues at large.

    “Let’s make sure that all the people who vote or hold office pass the litmus test of not being “people of faith.””

    Wouldn’t that be nice…

    “the difference between you and me is that you will not make a decision at all”

    As usual, so far off the mark as to be ridiculous. I’m certainly happy to make decisions based on rational thought and discourse. You’re wiling to make decisions based on magical thinking and the logic of make believe from 2000yrs ago. That’s your pattern though, if it was goo enough for the chinese 200 years ago it must be good enough for us. If it was good enough for the jews 2000yrs ago it must be good enough for us.

  220. DrJoeinCAon 20 May 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Grabula: Still haven’t seen what your “rational” abortion policy would be. You are against the taking of a foreskin in newborns. We get that. You are arrogant and bigoted enough to propose that you would like to limit the electorate and the elected to the non-religious few. We get that.

    What we don’t get is your suggestion as a member of the elite electorate as to what your abortion policy would be.

    Keep using all the skeptic buzzwords you have learned here if that helps you to feel like a rational person.

  221. Mlemaon 21 May 2014 at 12:17 am

    tmac57,
    Thanks for the link. If you would like to discuss what you think Dr. Novella is saying, so that we can compare it to what I’m responding to in Dr. Novella’s posts and subsequent comments – I’m willing to do that. You’re accusing me of a straw man argument. It seems to me that we may have a disagreement on exactly what Dr. Novella is saying. So we’ll have to figure that out before i can take your criticism to heart.
    and to make sure we’re using our words the same way:
    Compartmentalization is a psychological term which connotes at least some level of maladjustment
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_%28psychology%29
    Irrational also has negative connotations (reflects on a person’s cognitive ability and suggests: not endowed with reason or understanding, lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence, not governed by or according to reason)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrationality

  222. Niche Geekon 21 May 2014 at 1:53 am

    @Joe

    “If that involves getting into a war to defend the country — and only to defend the country — then citizens should be required to contribute to that”

    Even if a given citizen is, for religious reasons, a pacifist? Why shouldn’t their religious requirement take precedence over the dictates of the civil authority?

  223. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 2:22 am

    @Joe

    “Still haven’t seen what your “rational” abortion policy would be”

    Still haven’t seen your morale excuse for baby mutilation. How about evidence for efficacy in acupuncture? You make a habit of not providing answers here so what’s your point?

  224. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 3:21 am

    “Ditto with the NIMH. Why is the federal government involved in mental health research anyway?”

    Yeah, why is the government funding that science nonsense!

    Anyone shocked that Joe’s a winger?

  225. Bill Openthalton 21 May 2014 at 5:17 am

    DrJoeinCA –

    If there is this intense and profound opposition to abortion on religious grounds, how could you demand that these Catholics violate their religious principles (the practice of which is protected by the Constitution) by having to pay for and thus be complicit in the procedure/murder?

    We agree they do not have to perform abortions. They also do not pay for them — the state (i.e. the guarantor of their rights, and the rights of others) does. You will argue that the state’s money comes (in part) from taxes paid by Catholics, but once taxes have been paid, the money no longer belongs to the taxpayer. By demanding that taxes only be spent on what you deem morally acceptable, you deny the state the regulatory role it has to play to ensure the rights of those who do not share your moral convictions. The taxes of pacifists can be used on national defense, the taxes of smokers can be used to combat smoking, the taxes of healthy people can be used to care for the sick, the taxes paid by pro-lifers can be used to pay for abortions, etc.

    The freedom of others is just as much protected by the Constitution as your freedom to practice your religion. Thus, if the majority has decided, using the procedures laid down for such a decision (with the Supreme Court as guardian of that process), that a foetus only acquires human status at say, 12 weeks, and (hence) allows abortion until that moment, your moral convictions in that matter are only applicable to to you, whatever you claim your god says. That is the essence of a secular society.

    You want to have your cake and eat it — the state must guarantee your freedom of religion, and force your morals onto others. That’s not a recipe for a secular, democratic society.

  226. SteveAon 21 May 2014 at 5:50 am

    Bill O: “Chopping off a part of one’s anatomy is mutilation. It is only because some religions have been doing it for ages we don’t see it as such. Babies are typically defenseless, and rely on their parents to defend them.”

    JoeinCA

    Children are not the property of their parents.

    You hold up the rights of parents to mutilate with one hand, then slap down the right of their children to choose with the other.

    Your argument is both nonsensical and repugnant.

  227. sonicon 21 May 2014 at 6:21 am

    steve12-
    regarding US banking industry-

    None of the bank regulators is libertarian.
    None of the legislators is libertarian.
    Neither Clinton or Bush is libertarian.

    How is it that the policies that these people implemented are being blamed on libertarians?

  228. sonicon 21 May 2014 at 6:34 am

    What evidence is there that a society would be better off without religion?
    Or if no religious people were in office?
    It seems the 20th century is filled with counter examples.
    Where is it that religion has been eradicated or the religious have been disenfranchised to the extent they can’t be involved in government where things have worked well?

  229. mumadaddon 21 May 2014 at 6:55 am

    Joe,

    We have a long history of moral philosophy that has developed a comprehensive set of moral systems; deontology, virtue ethics, consequentialism etc. Then you have a set of bronze age religions popping up somewhere in the last 3000 years (I may be off on the time line, but you get the point) that seek to impose a set of specific moral standards that are set in stone, so to speak, and completely overrule all the other processes that moral philosophy has developed. These were reflective of the thinking in the time they came from, but allow no room for context or change along with society.

    One of my concerns with religion is it’s failure to move with the times and incorporate new knowledge. I do understand that this doesn’t mean that religious people don’t incorporate modern morality into their belief system – not all Christains are anti-abortion, or anti-gay for example, but the core text/doctrine remains static and the faithful follow it to varying degrees.

    I see the current ‘new atheism’ trend, and backlash against religion as much the same thing as the civil rights movement, gay rights movement, and women’s lib movement when they were in their early stages. Criticising religion has been, for whatever reason, off limits for the most part in the past. Now we’re seeing a vocal minority buck this trend, and people who were previously silent on the issue start to come out and rally round this movement. So at the moment, yes, there is some vitriol in the atheist movement but I think this is just part of the process of a minority staking out its equal rights.

    For society in general, it can only be a good thing, in my view, to continue to question all of our assumptions when it comes to morality, and no belief system should be immune from this. Yes, some religious people are very reasonable, some do good deeds in the name of their faith, but when it comes down to it, the core of the belief system is that this is right because god says so – but we can’t demonstrate the existence of this god.

    This is somewhat beside the point, but my own opinion on religion is pretty scathing. I’ve been more or less an atheist since I can remember – I was raised secular – but had a lot of sympathy for the deist position, driven largely by fear of death, so I spent a long time seeking out some logical argument for the existence of a god or some way in which we might survive physical death, so my starting point was, “I want to be convinced”, not, “faith is irrational and idiotic”. I never found anything remotely convincing, and I tried to find the best possible representation of faith and the best arguments, but all I’ve found is wishful thinking, motivated reasoning, arguments from ignorance, dodgy premises, blind assertion, and on and on….

  230. mumadaddon 21 May 2014 at 7:04 am

    I realise that I’ve just equated faith with religion, but they seem to me to be very much intertwined, although I do acknowledge you can have one without the other.

  231. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 8:38 am

    @sonic

    “What evidence is there that a society would be better off without religion?”

    you beg the question, where is the evidence that it wouldn’t be better off?

  232. mumadaddon 21 May 2014 at 8:56 am

    Sonic,

    “Where is it that religion has been eradicated or the religious have been disenfranchised to the extent they can’t be involved in government where things have worked well?”

    Actually, there’s a correlation between religiosity and ‘closed’ societies; that is, the more religious the society, the fewer rights and freedoms it’s citizens have. The US is the exception to this general rule.

    There’s also a reverse correlation between the religiosity of a society and the well-being of it’s citizens.

    I can’t dig out the references from here but should be able to find them at a later point if you’re interested.

  233. tmac57on 21 May 2014 at 10:18 am

    Mlema- The main thing that I was trying to get across ,is that saying that someone says or thinks something irrational (does not fit with evidence or does not logically follow for ex) ,is not equivalent to saying that that person is irrational. That suggests that that person is incapable more generally of rational thinking,rather than a one off glitch that may be due to being misinformed,or heavily culturally indoctrinated about a particular idea.
    I accept that everyone is susceptible to irrationality in some aspect of our thinking.That just goes with being human. I think you should have been more charitable about how Steve was characterizing people of faith. I have always found him to be more critical of faulty reasoning of people,rather than the people themselves.

  234. Mlemaon 21 May 2014 at 11:06 am

    tmac57 – you and I are reading the post and comments differently. I could have been more charitable in the way I wrote my criticism. If Dr. Novella’s post and comments are unwittingly derogatory, it’s still important for me to make my criticism. I respect Dr. Novella a lot. I wouldn’t bother to try to say anything contradictory if I didn’t think he might appreciate it on some level. But I definitely am not as cool-headed as he is.

  235. Mlemaon 21 May 2014 at 11:50 am

    tmac57 I feel compelled to say more to you and i regret that it harkens back to Steve. I’ve said everything I want to say about his post – more than enough. But I have to address your understanding of the post.

    “…you should have been more charitable about how Steve was characterizing people of faith.”

    It’s the “characterizing people of faith” that I don’t feel charitable towards. It’s a mistake to take a religious group and “characterize” them psychologically. If you want to characterize by saying “they believe in God” – well, that’s not a mistake. Then, if someone reading that has their own belief that belief in God is irrational, that’s their fallacy (if you think it’s a fallacy). But there’s no evidence that religious people compartmentalize in order to be rational. That’s all. Don’t make negative, or even positive generalizations about groups of people based on their race, religion, culture, gender, etc.
    I don’t think you’re aware that you’re making certain assumptions about “people of faith”.

  236. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 11:54 am

    >steve12-
    >regarding US banking industry-
    >None of the bank regulators is libertarian.
    >None of the legislators is libertarian.
    >Neither Clinton or Bush is libertarian.
    >How is it that the policies that these people implemented are being blamed on libertarians?

    An insufficient response to my post, or the most insufficient response ever? I can’t decide.

    You said:
    “The banks in the US have tons of regulations- and have for years.”

    I gave you specific instances that show that this is NOT the case and that specific regulations have been steadily rolled back over the past 30 years.

    Now, the people doing the rolling back have to be avowed libertarians?

    Nice try at the dodge and redirect, Sonic – but no dice.

  237. mumadaddon 21 May 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Mlema,

    “Then, if someone reading that has their own belief that belief in God is irrational, that’s their fallacy (if you think it’s a fallacy).”

    So do you think it is rational to believe in god? If so, can you explain why? I’ve really tried to find good arguments for god, and none of them hold up (although I’ve yet to get my head around TAG – the transcendental argument), so we have good reason to reject them; there isn’t any good evidence that I’ve been able to find; every time testable claims are made about god they turn out negative; and we have some good psychological/neurological/sociological explanations for the tendency to believe in god and the persistence of faith/religion, which are way more plausible because these disciplines are well developed and applied to other areas of human behaviour very successfully.

    So, if there’s no rational reason to believe, surely the belief is irrational? If you substitute bigfoot for god in your critique of Steve’s post, do you think it still holds up? Or is faith in god somehow different from other erroneous beliefs that are buttressed by human cognitive biases? I get the sense that maybe it is in some way but I’m struggling to work out why – maybe it’s the implications of the truth or otherwise of the claims in question.

  238. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Grabula: I guess you decided that you don’t have an answer as to what YOUR PERSONAL beliefs on abortion are, huh? Fine. Take it back to acupuncture.

    BillO: I’ll try again. Abortion is a right, not an entitlement. The Supreme Court decided that this right to abortion only extended to a certain fetal age. So if a woman wanted to have an abortion prior to this fetal age, she could do so. That makes it her right. A right is something you can do.

    There is no reason at all why abortion should be an entitlement, something that you should have provided for you. That’s the difference. By doing so, the government is using my tax money to fund what some religious people consider murder. So the government is complicit in murder and religious people are complicit in helping to fund the government.

    Smokers paying for non-smoking campaigns and healthy people paying for the sick is nowhere close to the same thing as abortion. This seems pretty obvious to me.

    Regarding pacifism and national defense, national defense is one of the few legitimate roles of government and by paying for national defense the pacifist ensures that the country where he lives will be protected. I agree that it is a problematic situation when the government embarks on wars or uses of the military that have little if any relationship to national defense. I can see where people whose faith is against the use of any kind of military would have trouble with this. This is why, by the way, people of faith can conscientiously object to fighting in a war but still be subject to a draft and fill a non-fighting role.

    Steve12: Yes, why is the government funding that mental health nonsense?

    Good to see you have adopted the buzz word “mutilation” to describe circumcision. Inaccurately though.

  239. tmac57on 21 May 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Mlema-

    I don’t think you’re aware that you’re making certain assumptions about “people of faith”.

    OK,I’ll bite…what assumptions am I making about “people of faith”,and how do you know that I am unaware of them?

  240. The Other John Mcon 21 May 2014 at 1:14 pm

    “why is the government funding that mental health nonsense?”

    Dear god, man. Really? Maybe because:
    (1) mental health is an important issue for a civilized society to understand, study, treat, etc.
    (2) this isn’t something private industry will ever fund
    (3) you sound like a crazy person saying $hit like this, are you sure you are really a Dr.?

  241. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 1:41 pm

    TheOther: So ONLY the government can fund mental health research? Why would that be?

    Is it because it’s too expensive? Nope, can’t be that. The budget for NIMH is little more than a billion dollars a year.

    Is it because private sources and universities cannot do the research? Nope, they are the ones that do the research using grant money.

    So why then is the government involved? What makes the government “qualified” to be involved with mental health research?

  242. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 1:41 pm

    “Steve12: Yes, why is the government funding that mental health nonsense?”

    Because understanding mental health problems is incredibly important to our country.

    Are you OK with NIH in general? How about NSF?

    Actually, you’ll like this Joe: my grant is through the NIMH. That’s right – when you pay your tax dollars, you pay them to me! Isn’t that exciting!

  243. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 1:50 pm

    “Is it because private sources and universities cannot do the research? Nope, they are the ones that do the research using grant money.
    So why then is the government involved? What makes the government “qualified” to be involved with mental health research?”

    Universities pay nothing for research. In fact, universities take grant money away from scientist for overhead (utilities, adminstrative staffing, etc.).

    The gov’t is involved because most basic science will not yield marketable products in the short term. Since the market doesn’t favor this kind of work, the gov’t must fill the gap.

    Basic science, however, is incredibly important to our society and economy. All of the marketable technological products and services we have today would be impossible w/o yesterday’s basic research. It is for the common good to fund basic science – and we should in much more.

  244. Mlemaon 21 May 2014 at 1:55 pm

    mumadadd,
    Surely I can’t support the rationality of believing in God. But I can’t either support that those who do are irrational. As far as proof of God – of course there is none. All we have are logical arguments which presuppose an understanding of what God might be. That discussion has filled libraries.

    Godel’s ontological proof is probably the most modern logical proof of God offered, but it does have problems. Personally, I see no proof of God. Although I admit it’s a lovely construction.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof
    Interestingly, it’s Catholic theologians who’ve pointedly criticized the theorem. Catholic theologians have been at this sort of thing for a long, long time. They readily separate logic, reason and faith (as Dr. Novella pointed out). Maybe a good question would be: why do people who have a deep understanding of logic and reason, and even science, still believe in God? I don’t know anyone personally who you could ask that question.

    tmac57,
    The assumption I see you making is the same one I’ve already criticized:
    faith is irrational and people who believe in God must use a psychological defense mechanism in order to do science

  245. rasmuron 21 May 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I am an exmo from Utah (not resigned but inactive). My atheist message is that if a person wants to believe, that’s okay with me; but religion has no claim on anyone who is not interested in it.

  246. Mlemaon 21 May 2014 at 2:39 pm

    haha! rasmur, we’re in danger of having you take the wind out of our wordy sails :)

    I don’t know why I feel like I have to defend theists. I value atheism. I don’t like to see it be a reactionary thing. But maybe that’s the only way it can be. Maybe the only true atheists are people who’ve never heard of “God”. But, since people tend to make up their own God, maybe not.

    Religion has hurt a lot of people. It’s tough not to be reactionary, especially if you’re one of the ones whose been hurt, or you truly empathize with those who’ve been hurt.

  247. mumadaddon 21 May 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Mlema,

    “Surely I can’t support the rationality of believing in God. But I can’t either support that those who do are irrational. As far as proof of God – of course there is none.”

    It’s not a 50/50 proposition though. Not accepting a belief until it’s supported by evidence is just the null hypothesis; accepting a belief that is either unfalsifiable or has had every testable prediction it’s made tested, with negative results, is irrational. You seem to be talking about the former, rather than the typical interventionist, personal god of religion, but absence of evidence still renders this position irrational.

    I read the Wiki page on Godel’s proof and I have to admit I just didn’t understand it. I’d probably have to spend a fair while trying to properly get my head around that one.

    “Maybe a good question would be: why do people who have a deep understanding of logic and reason, and even science, still believe in God? I don’t know anyone personally who you could ask that question.”

    Nobody is immune to indoctrination, confirmation bias, motivated reasoning etc. In my experience a lot of religious people eventually question the specific facts of their own faith and may reject them, or start to view them as metaphor, but keep the underlying belief in a personal god and an afterlife, as these things give them comfort. That’s when the motivated reasoning kicks in I think, and they might find some so called logical proofs or apologetics to hide behind, but that wasn’t what gave them their faith in the first place, nor would it now had they not been indoctrinated.

  248. Bill Openthalton 21 May 2014 at 4:44 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    You might be amazed to learn that my political leanings are to the libertarian side of the spectrum. I am simply trying to explain certain basic requirements of a modern, secular state guaranteeing certain rights and freedoms (such as freedom of religion) to its citizens. You don’t seem to understand that the unavoidable consequence of such an arrangement is that human laws have precedence over religious laws. As a result, if certain rights (and entitlements) are granted through due process of law (which would include appropriate majorities in the representative bodies), no citizen can invoke religious law or convictions as a reason not to respect these rights. In simple terms, if abortion is legal, you don’t have to avail yourself of that right, but you cannot deny it to others. The only thing you can do is to find the appropriate majority to modify the law.

    the government is using my tax money

    No. The government is using the state’s resources, which are in part derived from income taxes. It most emphatically is not your money. You have no say in how that money is spent (though elected officials do (or should) indeed ensure that the state spends its money in the best interests of their constituents). But it is not your money, and if it is spent according to the laws of the land, you should accept that, as you should accept and abide by laws you don’t like.

    There is no reason at all why abortion should be an entitlement, something that you should have provided for you.

    As I haven’t lived in the USA since 1982, my acquaintance with the current legal situation is not very good, so I will use an example of my country of residence. In Luxembourg, we have obligatory health insurance, funded by contributions from income earners (employees pay a direct contribution, employers pay a similar amount, self-employed people pay the whole hog). Everyone is covered, even the unemployed. The state has placed abortion on the list of interventions covered by health insurance (probably because doing so has been proved to be beneficial for the overall health of women — no need for backstreet abortions). The state has also decided health insurance covers hip replacements in elderly people, and appendectomies for all ages, and mental health care, and quite a number of medicines, etc. So yes, the people of Luxembourg through their elected representatives have decided that everyone is entitled to health care. There doesn’t need to be a “reason” for this decision, though considerations of solidarity, charity, equality and other moral and practical considerations did contribute to the decision. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t like the abortion bit, but even though this is still in name a Catholic country, the parliament passed abortion and euthanasia bills that reflected the will of the majority.

    The Grand Duke refused to sign the euthanasia bill, prompting a change to the Constitution (by a government lead by the Christian Democrats). The head of state now merely promulgates the laws, he can no longer refuse to sign them (which represented a significant loss of power).

    A right is something you can do.

    The fact that you can do something merely makes it possible. It does not mean you are allowed to do it. For example, I can spray paint graffiti on a wall, but odds are I may not do so. You are correct to say that when one may do something, society is not automatically obliged to ensure one can do it. However, language being what it is, words can and do have different scope depending on circumstance and usage, and the word “right” often includes an obligation on society to ensure its possibility. Hence the existence of a police force to ensure a number of rights are indeed realised (e.g. to protect you from thieves who do not respect your right to property, or murderers who do not respect your right to life, etc.). Your right to life entitles you to protection — reducing it to mean that you may defend yourself results in the law of the jungle (remember that even if you are strong, sooner or later there will be someone stronger — or cleverer). In effect, the protection afforded by society means strict limitations on how you may defend yourself (something not appreciated by libertarians either, but very necessary for a stable society).

    The organisation of society should not be a matter of ideology (and religions are nothing more than ideologies), but of science. It is possible to determine scientifically what the best strategies are to work towards stable and prosperous societies.

  249. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 5:36 pm

    BillO; “As a result, if certain rights (and entitlements) are granted through due process of law (which would include appropriate majorities in the representative bodies), no citizen can invoke religious law or convictions as a reason not to respect these rights. In simple terms, if abortion is legal, you don’t have to avail yourself of that right, but you cannot deny it to others. The only thing you can do is to find the appropriate majority to modify the law.”

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “not to respect these rights.” Of course, when a law is passed, the good citizen obeys. What I am suggesting is that people of faith do oppose the enactment of laws which have the effect of having the people’s tax money pay for it. And they oppose it because their faith and religion has taught them — and they believe — that abortion is murder. Wouldn’t you expect them to oppose it? Of course, there are those who would suggest that people of faith shouldn’t be able to participate in the decision-making process, but absent that aberrational opinion, the religious person does oppose laws which violate their moral code.

    I disagree that it is not my tax money. I have a say in how the money is spent through my elected representatives and my vote. I also have the right to oppose decisions that my elected representatives make if I don’t like them. I don’t violate the laws, but I do try to have them undone or modified to lessen the damage. See Obamacare as a primary example.

    “the word “right” often includes an obligation on society to ensure its possibility.” This is why we want our representatives to be very careful about what they legislate. To call something an entitlement means that the government is bound to pay for it. To call it a right means that the citizen is allowed to do it. Sometimes the legislature is careless or nefarious and muddies the distinction. In your country, you don’t have to worry about that because the gummint takes care of everything. Here, not so much.

    “The organisation of society should not be a matter of ideology (and religions are nothing more than ideologies), but of science. It is possible to determine scientifically what the best strategies are to work towards stable and prosperous societies.” I doubt that, and there is no evidence that is true. Can you tell me which societies determine strategies on the basis of science?

  250. sonicon 21 May 2014 at 5:43 pm

    grabula-
    The 20th century is my evidence for allowing religious freedom.
    USA vs. USSR, for example.

    mumadadd-
    If one religion takes over and wipes out all others and disenfranchises many– that is part of the problem I’m talking about.
    Yes, it would be nice if you would link to your evidence.

    steve12-
    Libertarians, in general, would argue for less regulation.
    That is not to say that every reduction in regulation is Libertarian.
    Your logic is flawed.
    I’m not an expert on what Libertarians think, but I’m quite sure that no Libertarian would argue that it is wise to back a bank with endless tax payer money while allowing said bank to take unrestricted risks.

    It would require democrats and republicans to do that apparently.

  251. sonicon 21 May 2014 at 5:48 pm

    A ‘stable and prosperous society’ informed by science is an ideological goal.

  252. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Steve12: “The gov’t is involved because most basic science will not yield marketable products in the short term. Since the market doesn’t favor this kind of work, the gov’t must fill the gap.” There are other ways for basic science research to be encouraged than to have the government pay for it.

    As for stuff being “incredibly important,” who decides that? Who decides how much money to spend on what projects and why? Certainly, universities which suck at the government teat in so many ways will lobby for research money for projects which pay their faculty and administration exorbitant salaries. And who is to say that these research projects have value at all, never mind being “incredibly important”?

  253. BillyJoe7on 21 May 2014 at 5:57 pm

    rasmur,

    “My atheist message is that if a person wants to believe, that’s okay with me; but religion has no claim on anyone who is not interested in it”

    What you seem to forget is that indoctrination and proselytisation are parts of almost every religion.
    So I’m afraid your message is falling on deaf ears.
    Nice try though.

    It’s actually not okay with me if a person wants to believe because, in almost every case, their belief includes a command to indoctrinate and proselytise and have their beliefs written in to law. It’s also not okay with me that a person wants to irrationally believe without evidence that something is true.

  254. tmac57on 21 May 2014 at 6:27 pm

    mlema-

    Surely I can’t support the rationality of believing in God.

    So we are in agreement: Faith (i.e. belief in god in the context of this blog post) is irrational. So why are you criticizing that position?

    Regarding the rest

    and people who believe in God must use a psychological defense mechanism in order to do science

    Strictly speaking,I do not think that they must (your word) use compartmentalization in order to do science ,but when the specific tenets of their faith come in to direct opposition to the established science that they are doing,then either they might wall that part of their faith off,or,in some cases,deny the science altogether in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.

  255. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 6:36 pm

    http://atlasleft.org/must-read-amazing-op-ed-one-nation-divisible-by-god/

  256. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 7:02 pm

    BJ7: You know, it’s possible to proselytize about other things than religion. You say it’s not “okay” with you if a fellow wants to believe. You want everyone to think the way you do and make decisions the way you do, is that right? You want everyone to interpret evidence the way you do, because you know there’s only one way to do that, right? Back to arrogance again.

  257. Bill Openthalton 21 May 2014 at 7:24 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    Glad to hear you’re a law-abiding citizen. As far as spending the state’s resources is concerned, I did mention that if it is spent based on a lawful decision of the executive or legislative powers (which includes all legal avenues of communication and influence between representatives and their constituents), it does not need to meet the moral concerns of all or a group of citizens. I am glad you no longer argue the moral convictions of a specific minority should determine how public funds are spent.

    Can you tell me which societies determine strategies on the basis of science?

    Unfortunately, none. Decisions in the economic and monetary spheres, are often presented as based on sound economic theories and data, but most of the time politicians make decisions in line with their ideologies (or the ideologies of the most vocal –and least rational– sections of their constituents).

    But it is possible to study human nature and interactions, societal dynamics and the effect of policies and strategies in a scientific fashion.

    What I am suggesting is that people of faith do oppose the enactment of laws which have the effect of having the people’s tax money pay for it. And they oppose it because their faith and religion has taught them — and they believe — that abortion is murder. Wouldn’t you expect them to oppose it?

    Of course, there are those who would suggest that people of faith shouldn’t be able to participate in the decision-making process, but absent that aberrational opinion, the religious person does oppose laws which violate their moral code.

    I did in effect stipulate that trying to get the appropriate majority to change the law is the correct and lawful approach. What they cannot do is impose their view on others, using bogus claims that because public funds include their tax money, it cannot be spent on things they don’t agree with (for whatever reason).

    Of course, there are those who would suggest that people of faith shouldn’t be able to participate in the decision-making process, but absent that aberrational opinion, the religious person does oppose laws which violate their moral code.

    I don’t think Steven Novella advocated excluding religious people from the decision-making process (which includes voting), but that “people of faith” should wholeheartedly accept the subordinate status of religion in a pluralistic, democratic society, and restrict their religious belief to the personal sphere.

    In other words, they should not try and make society more religion-based, because that would lead to forcing their unverifiable beliefs onto others. Example: you feel circumcision is fine, but (I gather) earliest-term abortion is murder. I do not doubt the sincerity of your feelings, but neither do I doubt the sincerity of the feelings of radical feminists who would like to have the right to abort until the moment of birth (because it’s their body). Or the sincerity of the feelings of people who feel violated because of the circumcision their parents foisted upon them.

    If you think a society based on religion (something we have ample experience with) would be better than a secular society, have a look at Saudi-Arabia or Iran. And if you believe a christian country would do better, spend some time on the history of the Inquisition.

  258. Bill Openthalton 21 May 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Apologies for the quote fail.

  259. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 7:59 pm

    “There are other ways for basic science research to be encouraged than to have the government pay for it.”

    More of the same pattern. You should to take pause before opining on things that you know nothing about. You do this too much

    “As for stuff being “incredibly important,” who decides that? Who decides how much money to spend on what projects and why? ”

    The public – we live in a democracy, imperfect as it is.

    “Certainly, universities which suck at the government teat in so many ways will lobby for research money for projects which pay their faculty and administration exorbitant salaries. ”

    Again, you have no idea what you’re talking about! Do you know what the training:pay ration is for vast majority of academic scientists? NO! Why so you pretend that you do? YOu don’t see me out there telling you how to pass yourself off as an MD on the internet, do you?

    “And who is to say that these research projects have value at all, never mind being “incredibly important”?”

    Maybe if you ask again you’ll get a difference answer.

  260. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 8:01 pm

    BillO: “It does not need to meet the moral concerns of all or a group of citizens. I am glad you no longer argue the moral convictions of a specific minority should determine how public funds are spent.” I don’t believe I ever argued that. What I argued is that the moral convictions of all citizens should be taken into account when legislation is passed. And I believe this is what usually happens. If there is legitimate concern that some legislation would violate the moral convictions of a religious people, then I would hope that the legislation would take this into account, as it usually does. One way to do that in the case of abortion is not to have tax money fund abortion.

    I don’t think it’s a bogus claim at all that spending tax money in a certain way would violate some people’s religious rights. It’s not that they would not “agree” with how the money is being spent; that’s minimizing it a bit. But it’s that their freedom to practice their religion according to their principles would be violated. They would be contributing to something that their God has told them is wrong and the worst kind of mortal sin.

    Regarding societies determining strategies on the basis of science, indeed there are none and there is no evidence that such a mechanism of strategy determination would be “better” for its populace.

    The term “sincerity of your feelings” is more minimization of a religious person’s beliefs. I think it definitely applies to radical feminists who claim the right to kill their almost-born child. “Feelings” are not protected by the Constitution, religious beliefs are.

    I don’t think a society should be “based on religion” or based on atheism or even based on science. All these viewpoints have equal input into how a society functions. If you bring up the Inquisition and the Middle East, I will bring up China, Russia, and North Korea.

  261. steve12on 21 May 2014 at 8:02 pm

    “Back to arrogance again.”

    What’s more arrogant than going on an on re: subjects you know nothing about?

  262. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Steve12: You think “the public” makes decisions on how much grant money to spend, where it goes, and what for? When was the last time that happened? Or when has it ever happened?

    Again, you didn’t answer the question. What makes these grants “incredibly important?”

    Arrogance is you disapproving of a person of faith. “It’s actually not okay with me if a person wants to believe.”

    Arrogance is you disapproving that “a person wants to irrationally believe without evidence that something is true.” Seriously, just who are you to think that you have a right of approval or disapproval over anyone? Yep, that’s arrogance, my government-teatsucking friend.

  263. Bill Openthalton 21 May 2014 at 8:14 pm

    DrJoeinCA –

    China, the USSR, North Korea are/were based on an ideology (communism), which is based on the same features of the human mind as religion. In fact, religions are old ideologies.

    As far as basing the organisation of society is concerned, surely it would be more effective to base it on the best possible information, rather than the gut feel of loudmouths?

    Science is no ideology.

  264. MatrimCauthonon 21 May 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Gentlemen, Ladies, I believe we are straying from the issue here. In reality, this argument should have ended some time ago, but for the stubbornness of the human mind.

    Scientists- The religious parties will not change their mind, no matter how you speak, how many logical fallacies you point out, or what compelling evidence you show. That is a quality of their faith, being a lack of doubt in their ideals.

    Religious believers- Respectfully, I must ask you, what is your purpose in arguing here? Quite clearly, you have seen an article you have disagreed with, and decided to voice your problems. That is fine. However, you have taken it too far, and are grasping at straws. It is embarrassing for you, and for those of your faith. Leave while you still have a shred of dignity, please.

    Personally, I agree with Dr. Novella’s thoughts about compartmentalizing the brain. This is how I have worked for many years now. I move to faith when family ritual requires it, and other than at that time, I follow my mind, and logic, to solve problems. There is no reason to move toward some spectral being, who may or may not exist, or may or may not have the answers. But, that is my opinion, which will not be reciprocated by the Religious, and will probably be shunned by the scientific.

    Dovie andi se tovya sagain.

  265. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 8:56 pm

    @Mlema

    “But there’s no evidence that religious people compartmentalize in order to be rational”
    They have to compartmentalize in order to think rationally. Imagine an individual who made all their decisions based on say, what the bible tells them, or these wackjobs who think they should just ignore rational discussion and put their faith and trust in a diety. Most of the religious people I know – primarily of christian faith – can barely have an intelligent conversation on thier own beliefs. I believe this is due to a combination of being ‘born’ into the faith and taking it for granted – assuming the role as it were, and the fact that most rational people can’t reconcile religious belief WITH being rational.

  266. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 8:59 pm

    BillO: OK, so we cannot have societies based on either religion or atheism. All societies are based on some kind of ideology.

    Base society on “best possible information?” I dunno. How does that work? What does that mean? You have to have some belief system. You cannot decide issues based on “science.” Where’s the humanity, the moral underpinning, the charity, the golden rule? Nah, that can’t work.

  267. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 9:21 pm

    @Joe

    “I guess you decided that you don’t have an answer as to what YOUR PERSONAL beliefs on abortion are, huh?”

    Maintaining your terrible reading comprehension as a defense? I already stated 1 – how I feel about abortion, and 2 – How I’d try to make the best decision possible, through rational discourse without trying to apply black and white, magical thinking in order to determine rights for everyone involved. How hard is that to understand? Again, that’s the point, you’re willing to irrationally apply your morality to everyone aeound you because of your faith. I’m willing to examine each issue and attempt to determine a best course of action.

    “Good to see you have adopted the buzz word “mutilation” to describe circumcision. Inaccurately though.”

    Still dodging the answer here Joe. Linking to some article about why Jews thinks it’s ok to mutilate doesn’t in anyway support mutilation.

    ““why is the government funding that mental health nonsense?”

    Governments successfuly socialize medicine all the time. This countries conservative kneejerk reaction to the idea is ridiculously irrational. It’s primarily driven by those of faith fighting exactly like you are now – they don’t want to pay for people to be covered on things their faith won’t allow them to view as anything but the devils work.

    “What makes the government “qualified” to be involved with mental health research?”

    This is ridiculous – the “government” is qualified to put money to use supporting an organization full of qualified individuals. Is this just a gut reaction to the fact that your woo isn’t government supported?

    “And I believe this is what usually happens. If there is legitimate concern that some legislation would violate the moral convictions of a religious people, then I would hope that the legislation would take this into account, as it usually does.”

    But shouldn’t. You choose to follow an irrational system of beliefs, why should that in anyway affect me? You’re right to practice your regligion is guarenteed, what tyou people forget however is that you don’t have the right to force me to practice it. Nothing that stems strictly from your faith is worthy of political consideration other than your own right to practice it. I don’t care that your faith says abortion is evil, or prostitution is the devils work. Don’t go to a prostitute, don’t have an abortion. Your tax dollars pay for all kinds of things, public healthcare should be one of those but one of the biggest door stops to that is the ignorant masses screaming the same old sorry BS you’ve been slinging here about abortion. It’s just a way for the faithful to get their toes in the door of our lives. It’s your imperative, according to your faith to try to convert me, and that attitude won’t go away anytime soon. Stop trying to slip your irrationality into schools – you have sundays schools to mislead children. Stop trying to hand wave mutilating children because your god says it’s ok, and who’s it really hurting.

    I fixed this for you:

    “Arrogance is you disapproving of a person of no faith. “It’s actually not okay with me if a person doesn’t want to believe.”

    “Arrogance is ignoring evidence to support your livelihood by fleecing people who don’t know any better then trying to vinidcate yourself through non evidence.”

    “Arrogance is thinking it’s ok to mutilate babies because your irrational belief says it’s ok”

  268. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 9:23 pm

    @sonic

    “The 20th century is my evidence for allowing religious freedom.
    USA vs. USSR, for example.”

    Care to finish that statement?

  269. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 9:25 pm

    @Sonic

    to remind you

    “What evidence is there that a society would be better off without religion?
    Or if no religious people were in office?
    It seems the 20th century is filled with counter examples.”

    I said you’re begging the question. Where’s the evidence we are better off WITH it. You can’t get elected as an Atheist in the US, in fact, if you’re not mainstream Christian in your beliefs you won’t get elected, that’s been shown multiple times so our culture fails to show your point. In fact, it might be working against you if you remember the years the Bushs’ were in office.

  270. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 9:31 pm

    @Joe

    “You have to have some belief system. You cannot decide issues based on “science.” Where’s the humanity, the moral underpinning, the charity, the golden rule? Nah, that can’t work.”

    Classic! no way to have morality without god. I believe Hitchens has handled this effectively:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaGqVbAzjng

    Have you read God is not Great, or his book on Mother Theresa, he compiles plenty of evidence that faith in no way assures moral behavior. I can’t even believe you made this most simplistic of cognitive mistakes, though I’m not surprised.

    Dawkins has some pretty good ideas on this as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm2Jrr0tRXk

  271. rasmuron 21 May 2014 at 10:18 pm

    @BillyJoe7 To a greater or lesser extent, proselytization seems to be a part of every religion and philosophy, including atheism, but I have no desire to proselytize or harangue people for their weird beliefs or for believing without evidence that something is true. People are indoctrinated into religion from earliest childhood. They are told that the Lord requires them to go on a mission, be chaste until marriage, and not engage in homosexual activity, even if they tend that way. They are also told that their duty to their faith trumps their freedom of inquiry. But sometimes, like in my case, the indoctrination doesn’t take, or for some reason it just doesn’t feel right for them. And since their is no credible evidence for the claims of religion, anyone who is not interested in religion or in giving into religionists’ demands has every right to just tell them to bug off.

  272. Niche Geekon 21 May 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Joe,

    It seems the only religion whose deeply held convictions the government must respect is your own. You repeatedly state that defence is something that even the religiously pacifist must fund. How is that, in any way, different from abortion?

  273. grabulaon 21 May 2014 at 10:55 pm

    @Rasmur

    “To a greater or lesser extent, proselytization seems to be a part of every religion and philosophy, including atheism,”

    It’s not mandated by atheism, though some may want to ‘spread the word’. Nice trick but not the same.

  274. DrJoeinCAon 21 May 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Grabula: I said you have to have a “belief” system. You have to believe that there is some moral code that requires you to act with humanity and charity and equanimity. You cannot get to this moral code by science. How does science define what a moral code is or that charity is good or that you should not lie?

    Re your link, Harris is a very smart guy, but as the questions in the last 20 minutes or so pointed out, he did not make the argument very well for science as a basis for morality.

    NicheGreek:
    “You repeatedly state that defence is something that even the religiously pacifist must fund. How is that, in any way, different from abortion?” Because defense is necessary for the existence of society, and citizens have an obligation to the society.

    Abortion is different in every way. It is not necessary for the existence of society, for one. It is the murder of an innocent being, for another. If anything, that would be what the pacifist would also be against, the aggressive killing of an innocent being. Every way different.

  275. Niche Geekon 22 May 2014 at 12:42 am

    @Joe

    “Abortion is different in every way.”

    Let’s break this out:

    “It is not necessary for the existence of society, for one.”
    I agree with you, but you’re no longer making a religious argument. I would counter that with or without government sanction, abortions will take place, they just won’t be safe. So this first point doesn’t explain why the civil authority must adhere to your religion’s restrictions and not those of the pacifist.

    “It is the murder of an innocent being, for another.”
    On this we disagree. In fact, different religions define the beginning of human life at different developmental milestones. Why must we kowtow to your beliefs and not those of all religions equally? I can’t bring pork or alcohol to Qatar, should your “religious freedom” argument extend to government bans on foodstuffs that aren’t halal and kosher?

    “If anything, that would be what the pacifist would also be against, the aggressive killing of an innocent being.”
    That is irrelevant to my argument. I’m asking you why your religious freedom argument doesn’t apply to all government spending and all religions equally.

  276. grabulaon 22 May 2014 at 12:46 am

    @Joe

    I like your selective way of answering only what you want…

  277. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 12:48 am

    grabula-
    During the 20th century a number of political systems were tried- some countries trying to eliminate religion and the religious from political office, other countries enforcing a ‘one religion’ type policy, while others allowed for more pluralism.
    I would suggest that the cases that reduced religious freedom fared poorly compared to those that expanded those same freedoms.

    In the case of the USSR, they became the first state to have the ideological objective of eliminating religion and replacing it with atheism.

    I believe the people were better off before that policy was implemented, and now they are better off again since that policy is less enforced.

    What question did I beg?

    Do you have any evidence contrary?

  278. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 12:48 am

    DrJoeinCA-
    I would prefer a government that did not demand its citizenry become complicit in murder.

  279. grabulaon 22 May 2014 at 1:27 am

    @Sonic

    “Do you have any evidence contrary?”

    Christian dominance in Western politics, more specifically the US.

    Any number of muslim countries in asia minor and Africa.

    Several socialist countries have mostly divorced their politics from religion with great success, take Sweden as an example.

  280. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 1:28 am

    “Steve12: You think “the public” makes decisions on how much grant money to spend, where it goes, and what for? When was the last time that happened? Or when has it ever happened?”

    it’s not1:1 for each person. can’t be. But I knew the Iraq war was horseshit from the get – still paid my taxes while protesting and voting accordingly. called democracy.

    “Again, you didn’t answer the question.”

    Well, you didn’t answer most of mine re: NSF, NIH, etc. Or how basic science will get funded by the public sector. Now I’ll try to answer yours anyway (I thought the import of dealing with mental illness to society was obvious).

    Mental illness is an important and common physical malady that is traditionally underserved by medicine (something you would have learned about had you attended medical school) if for no other reason that it is not understood. If you were an MD you’d know this. IF we can learn about it (like everything else) we might help address it.

    “What makes these grants “incredibly important?”

    See above.

    “Arrogance is you disapproving of a person of faith. “It’s actually not okay with me if a person wants to believe.”

    I never said this. You probably just mixed up some posts from others. I do it all the time, no worries.

    Arrogance is you disapproving that “a person wants to irrationally believe without evidence that something is true.” Seriously, just who are you to think that you have a right of approval or disapproval over anyone? Yep, that’s arrogance, my government-teatsucking friend.”

    I never said this either – again no worries. Seriously though: you’ve commented on everything from global warming (with no idea how any of it works) to the academic granting structure (And BELIEVE ME, as a guy thick in that, you have no idea what the F you’re talking about). Isn’t that arrogance? Be honest: what do you know about gov’t science granting? Nothing!!! And why would you? You’ve never had do deal with any of it. Regardless, you are an expert! Just like AGW, medicine, and science generally. Only problem is that you are an obvious fraud to those of us who DO know about these things, and you’re not fooling any of us.

    HOw is this not the ultimate in ignorance: Going on about everything with no knowledge? Think of the sloth alone! You could educate yourself a bit first, but like your fake MD, why bother?

    Seriously, Joe: it should give you some faith in science that we knew immediately how much horsesh$t your credentials are. Commenting on inside baseball stuff like how science grants work has only exposed you further, “Doctor”.

  281. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 1:35 am

    Sonic:

    Did I miss your reply re: banking regulation? Lots of posts, so I might have.

  282. Bill Openthalton 22 May 2014 at 3:36 am

    Sonic –

    Communism is an ideology, just as religions are ideologies. There is little if no difference in the mindset, just a huge difference in the cultural circumstances they originated in.

    Modern secular pluralistic societies work better because they impose less constraints on people, and do a better job of harnessing the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of a majority of individuals, leading to more contributions to society, and hence more resources for everyone. The challenge is to get the balance right between the individual and society, whilst taking into account human nature (none of us are angels, some of us are cheaters, some of us are lazy, some of us have criminal tendencies, some of us are psychopaths, etc.) To be stable, a society needs to be based on the most accurate information we have on human nature, social strategies, economic policies etc. All these fields are amenable to scientific study.

    A pluralistic society lays down a number of basic moral rules, and allows people to choose which historical moral system they wish to add to the basic morality mandated by society. This is possible because the basic rules are based on individual rights. Religions or political ideologies as groups have no rights (i.e. the churches cannot determine the basic rights), but individuals have the right to a conviction, to associate, to relocate and generally to do anything that does not go against the basic rights of other individuals. The result is that individuals can find (or if necessary create) the community they are most comfortable with.

    The problem is that some moral systems (such as christianity, islam, communism, and all extreme forms of convictions in general) have as part of their moral principles the conviction they are right, and the others are wrong (an effect of the social nature of the human animal), and that they should convince everyone (by force if necessary) to adopt their ideology. This makes these ideologies inherently antagonistic to the secular, pluralistic society that accepts and supports their existence.

  283. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 3:52 am

    NicheGreek: “I’m asking you why your religious freedom argument doesn’t apply to all government spending and all religions equally.” And I’m telling you that providing for the national defense is a legitimate role of government which all citizens are bound to contribute to. I don’t know whether or why “pacifists” would be against the idea of self-defense. I do know that Christians at least are against abortion because it is the murder of the innocent. Providing abortion is not a legitimate or necessary role of government, and being complicit in that violates the religious rights of Christians. I don’t know how to say it any other way.

    You don’t have to “kowtow” to my beliefs. If you want to pay for a woman’s abortion or have one yourself, you are free to do so. Just leave me out because it violates my freedom to practice my religion. I’m telling you that I recognize your right to have an abortion or pay for one. All I am asking is that you allow me to practice my religion and not take part in the murder of an innocent human being.

    Steve12: I can see that mental health funding is personally important to you. (Actually I could tell that months ago.) I don’t doubt that there are many unsolved medical and mental health problems in the world. What I’m against is the federal government’s role in the funding of that research. NIMH, for example, gives out a billion dollars in grants every year. That amount is budget dust, and my disagreement is not with the amount. It’s that the federal government has a role in the funding. The government has a very specific role to play in a free society in my opinion. That role does not include funding abortion or funding mental health research.

    You too have commented on all the topics I have from climate change to patient care to abortion to God. I have opinions about all same as you. I never claimed to be an “expert” in government science granting. Where did you get that idea? I don’t know beans about the government granting structure, but I do have an opinion about whether the government should be involved at all. Is that ok with you?

    Your knowledge about all these topics (other than government granting structure) is obviously limited, yet you feel free to opine about stuff like acupuncture and chiropractic and patient care about which you are obviously totally ignorant. That doesn’t stop you from making a fool out of yourself.

  284. grabulaon 22 May 2014 at 4:21 am

    @joe

    ” I don’t know whether or why “pacifists” would be against the idea of self-defense”

    But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

    come on joe, so rusty on your faith?

    “Your knowledge about all these topics (other than government granting structure) is obviously limited, yet you feel free to opine about stuff like acupuncture and chiropractic and patient care about which you are obviously totally ignorant. That doesn’t stop you from making a fool out of yourself.”

    That’s just pure irony at this point

  285. BillyJoe7on 22 May 2014 at 7:37 am

    It seems I wasn’t clear enough with the following:

    “It’s actually not okay with me if a person wants to believe because, in almost every case, their belief includes a command to indoctrinate and proselytise and have their beliefs written in to law. It’s also not okay with me that a person wants to irrationally believe without evidence that something is true”

    In the context of answering a post by rasmur who seemed to be happy to let the faithful go on their own merry way believing what their religion tells them to believe, what I meant to say is that I am NOT happy to just let faithful to go on their own merry way believing what their religion tells them to believe. I am not happy to leave them to wallow in their false belief, because there is a better way to live one’s life. Like thinking for yourself instead of just accepting what you’ve been told by your elders from cradle to grave. Like looking at the evidence instead of accepting the amoral teachings of an old book of doubtful authorship.

    I want to show them that evidence should be the basis of what to believe, not hand-me-down dogma from a bygone age. Also, I am not happy to leave them alone for the very reason that they won’t leave me alone. They won’t stop at just believing what their faith tells them to believe, they feel compelled by their religion to indoctrinate their children (bad for the children), to convert the public (bad for society), and have their beliefs written into law (bad for non believers). In fact, by leaving them alone to believe what their religion has told them to believe, they will end up restricting my freedom, the freedom of all non-religionists, and the freedom of reilgionists of other persuasions. I am not happy to let that happen.

    That’s not arrogant as some Joe Blow in this thread has characterised it. That’s just self protection, concern for fellow non-believers, concern for society, concern for the children of believers, and concern for the believers themselves. There’s a better way.

    “There’s a better way”

    Yeah, I know…what arrogance!

  286. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 8:43 am

    grabula-
    I can’t figure out what you mean.
    In the US, we have freedom of religion and all religious people are allowed to participate in politics.
    This is an improvement over what was going on before.

    In Sweden there is a ‘benign indifference’ to religion- exactly what I’m talking about- exactly the opposite of removing the rights of religious in the political arena.
    There have been some problems in Africa when one religious group wants to get rid of others– exactly the situation I’m suggesting is to be avoided.

    Your examples don’t support your point.

    steve12-
    In case you missed it–
    Libertarians, in general, would argue for less regulation.
That is not to say that every reduction in regulation is Libertarian.
Your logic is flawed.

    I’m not an expert on what Libertarians think, but I’m quite sure that no Libertarian would argue that it is wise to back a bank with endless tax payer money while allowing said bank to take unrestricted risks.
    It would require democrats and republicans to do that apparently. (In fact the congress and president were passing laws demanding the banks make loans the banks thought were too risky.)

    Is every regulation the work of a fascistic dictator? Certainly fascistic dictators advocate regulation, so any regulation must reflect the thinking of a fascistic dictator– right?

    Is that horse dead or shall I beat it some more?

    Bill Openthalt-
    First- a ‘stable society’ is an ideological construct that not everyone would agree is desirable.
    Can you acknowledge that what you are advocating is an ideologically based system?
    Where I live the police enforce the laws with guns and so forth– the churches tend to ‘pray for you’.
    Is that what you mean– the police use force to enforce the ideologically based morals while the regular people can’t?
    Is that the system you are trying to avoid?

  287. Niche Geekon 22 May 2014 at 10:53 am

    Joe,

    You say that self-defence is a legitimate role of government, but abortion is not. The Qatari believe that keeping pork and alcohol out of the country is a legitimate role of government, do you agree with them?

  288. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 11:55 am

    I said that deregulating the financial industry caused the 2008 economic meltdown and puts us at risk for another. You said the regulatory regime was fine. I gave specific examples to counter, and since then you’ve danced around.

    Reducing regulations isn’t necessarily libertarian? So your going the semantic route (shocker) – What IS libertarian anyway (scratches chin and looks at sky)?. Does this go with your other statement that the persons removing the regulations had to be avowed libertarians themselves for the cutting of the regulations to truly be libertarian?

    Back in reality, the idea that the mortgage meltdown was caused by government compelled subprimes (as you suggest) is the biggest crock ever. It is the hallmark statement that tells me that someone knows nothing about what happened in 2008.

    If these mortgages were such bad deals – why was the financial industry begging for more NINA mortgages to buy originators? And if they were bad deals that they were forced into, why on Earth would you turn them into all sorts of derivatives to sell to your customers? And why would you be so heavily reliant on those instruments? Did the gov’t make them do that as well? The answer is no, btw.

  289. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 12:07 pm

    “I never claimed to be an “expert” in government science granting. Where did you get that idea?”

    Because you make claims re: these issues! You’re telling me that we can find other funding for basic science, and that we have exorbitant salaries, etc. You know what your opinion should be? I DON’T KNOW. Because you don’t. When you start prattling on about these things with no clue what you’re talking about, you’re playing expert.

    Ask me about the military coup in Thailand – who’s right / who’s wrong? I’ll say that I have no opinion, because I don’t know shit about it. Tons of things Steve writes about here I don’t comment on, because I have nothing to add – they spur me on to do research and learn.

    “I don’t know beans about the government granting structure, ”

    There ya go!

    “…but I do have an opinion about whether the government should be involved at all. Is that ok with you?”

    Of course. I think you’re wrong – but this is more of a moral judgement about the role of gov’t.

    “Your knowledge about all these topics (other than government granting structure) is obviously limited, yet you feel free to opine about stuff like acupuncture and chiropractic and patient care about which you are obviously totally ignorant. That doesn’t stop you from making a fool out of yourself.”

    No. As a scientist I am an expert at adjudicating scientific questions in the biological sciences. And my opinions on these matters jibe with the consensus of the scientific community re: all of them.

    As a guy posing as an MD on the internet, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  290. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Grabula: Yeah, my Quaker training has deserted me, but I do know that pacifism runs the gamut from absolutely no violence at all to violence to defend one’s self.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacifism

    NicheGreek: I can’t say/don’t care what the Qatari want. I am concerned with freedom of religion as guaranteed by the US Constitution, and that extends to not being complicit in the murder of the innocent.

    Steve12: Of course, it’s a judgment about the proper role of government. The role of government is not something that can be determined by science. It is all about judgment, moral values, political leanings, etc. No science there.

    Obviously, I struck a note with my comment on the funding for your job which you “judge” to be important and the salaries of faculty and administration which you “judge” to be not exorbitant. See how that works? All value judgments without science involvement.

    Your opinions on “scientific questions in the biological sciences” do not jibe with the consensus of the medical community which considers the use of some therapeutic options which you have found worthless to be not worthless. Your facility in biology or any of the non-clinical sciences has minimal bearing on how medicine is practiced. This is why physicians and not biologists/”scientists” make decisions for patients.

    And look at you getting all huffy about the 2008 financial crisis. You an expert there too? I’m impressed.

    BJ7:” I am not happy to leave them to wallow in their false belief, because there is a better way to live one’s life. Like thinking for yourself instead of just accepting what you’ve been told by your elders from cradle to grave. Like looking at the evidence instead of accepting the amoral teachings of an old book of doubtful authorship.”

    Sure, that’s not arrogance telling people that YOU know how best they should live their lives.

    “By LEAVING THEM ALONE to believe what their religion has told them to believe, they will end up restricting my freedom, the freedom of all non-religionists, and the freedom of reilgionists of other persuasions. I am not happy to let that happen.”

    This is actually quite frightening. You are not going to leave them alone because (a) you know what is best for them, and (b) they are a threat to your world order. Hmm, let’s all think about the last time we heard something like this. Hint: there was a guy with a mustache. Time’s up.

  291. The Other John Mcon 22 May 2014 at 1:05 pm

    “Dr” Joe: that’s the 2nd time in this single thread you’ve invoked Godwin’s Law, that’s an automatic loss of argument, twice over

  292. mumadaddon 22 May 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Third, actually.

  293. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Joe
    “This is actually quite frightening. You are not going to leave them alone because (a) you know what is best for them, and (b) they are a threat to your world order. Hmm, let’s all think about the last time we heard something like this. Hint: there was a guy with a mustache. Time’s up.”

    You should read more if you think Hitler is the latest fascist.

    You should also practice reading. I don’t know how many people have tried explaining to you that criticizing and advocating anti-religion is not the same as using the government to get rid of religion. Stop equating the two, they are not the same. One is being against religion in a free society, you know the whole free exchange of ideas, and the other is not only being against religion but using government to get rid of religion, which would make society non-free or fascist.

    If you’d drop this fallacy the discussion can proceed.

  294. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Joe
    “Sure, that’s not arrogance telling people that YOU know how best they should live their lives.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re applying this reasoning arbitrarily in an attempt to take the moral high ground. An example easily destroys your reasoning. Doctors tell people to quit smoking because it is better for their lives. Doctors also tell people, based on the best evidence, the best way to live their lives.

    Just so you don’t call me a nazis or Hitler, I’m currently killing every nazis I can find, working my way up the chain of command till I find Hitler. I’m playing Wolfenstein: The New Order. Am I being fallacious? Yes, but seriously stop invoking Hitler.

  295. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Hoss: I read that someone says they are not happy to leave people alone to believe what they want. What do you read into that? What if this someone got a bunch of other people together who were not happy to leave people alone?

    I read that someone says they have found a “better way to live” other people’s lives, that he is not happy to “let faithful go on their merry way.” What do you read into that?

    I read that someone says that people of faith shouldn’t be allowed to act upon their faith and “People of faith shouldnt’ be making decisions on laws or the welfare of the people.” What do you read into that? How would you accomplish this if not by government action?

    Do you read that some here are “against religion in a free society?” How do you take religion out of a free society?

    Godwin’s Law is an accurate observation, not a fallacy.

  296. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 1:40 pm

    steve12-
    There is no question that the regulators did a very poor job and helped create the financial meltdown of 2008. I never said the regulatory regime was fine- you are mistaken on that.

    Blaming the failure of one group (the bank regulators and those in charge of the bank regulators) on another group (libertarians) who had zero influence on the regulations is bizarre.

    Perhaps you think the bankers are libertarians. Can you name one?

    Saying any reduction of regulation is libertarian is like saying any increase in regulation is fascistic dictatorship- an obvious error.

    You have made a logical error confusing any reduction of regulation to ‘libertarianism’.
    Now the error has been pointed out (an obvious one) and you refuse to acknowledge. It’s as simple as that.

  297. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Hoss: No moral high ground here, just quoting others who say they know what is best for people, a “better way to live.”

    Doctors “advise” people what to do to prolong their lives. They tell them that there is certain behavior that has been found to be unhealthful if done in excess. They do not ban smoking nationwide; they let people make their own choices. And, pertinent to this discussion, they do not tell people that there is a proper religious or non-religious way to approach the world.

    What does this have to do with intolerance to people of faith?

  298. ccbowerson 22 May 2014 at 1:48 pm

    “I can’t say/don’t care what the Qatari want. I am concerned with freedom of religion as guaranteed by the US Constitution, and that extends to not being complicit in the murder of the innocent.”

    Freedoms are not absolutely guaranteed; they are limited when they must be, particularly when one freedom diminishes another. An obvious example is that no matter how sincerely he/she believes it, a person’s religious justification for the murder of another person does not absolve them from the laws that say that is unlawful.

    To use a different version of your ‘murder of the innocent’ example, a person cannot lawfully refuse to pay taxes because they pay for a war, regardless of that person’s beliefs about that particular military action. You want to give your particular beliefs some special status, when there is no justification for that. How sincerely you hold those beliefs is not that important when they need to be able to stand on their own. Propping them up as religious beliefs is not a free pass.

  299. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Joe
    “I read that someone says they are not happy to leave people alone to believe what they want. What do you read into that? What if this someone got a bunch of other people together who were not happy to leave people alone?
    I read that someone says they have found a “better way to live” other people’s lives, that he is not happy to “let faithful go on their merry way.” What do you read into that?
    I read that someone says that people of faith shouldn’t be allowed to act upon their faith and “People of faith shouldnt’ be making decisions on laws or the welfare of the people.” What do you read into that? How would you accomplish this if not by government action?
    Do you read that some here are “against religion in a free society?” How do you take religion out of a free society?”

    You’re trying to build a circumstantial case and you’re still fallaciously equating advocating anti-religion in a free society with coercing people to be an atheist. I date you to quote a single person from this forum who is advocating coercion to change a persons beliefs. Oh that’s right, you can’t. If you could, then I would be beside you criticizing them for advocating using tactics that are destructive to a society.

    Saying ‘Godwin’s Law is an accurate observation, not a fallacy’, does not justify your invoking Hitler especially since the reasoning why you invoked Hitler was shown to be a fallacious.

  300. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I remember now why I don’t like talking to Joe. In my opinion, he’s unable to have an honest conversation.

  301. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Hoss-
    earlier you said-
    “How about this definition of faith?
    Faith is having a higher degree of confidence than what is justifiable through reason and/or evidence.”

    I’d suggest the idea the society would be better off if religious people were kept from political office and suppressed to the point they couldn’t discuss their faith publicly is an example of a faith based idea.

    I have given counter examples from recent history (USSR) and only grabula has even attempted to justify the statements.

    Faith needs no evidence.

    How far out to lunch am I on that?

  302. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 2:52 pm

    ccbowers: “You want to give your particular beliefs some special status, when there is no justification for that.” The beliefs of religious people, unlike the non-beliefs of atheists, do have a special status. It’s called the Constitution.

    “Freedoms are not absolutely guaranteed; they are limited when they must be, particularly when one freedom diminishes another.” Right. Women are free to have an abortion, but not when the fetus is viable. The rights of the unborn child, in this case, trump the rights of the woman. A woman has the right to get an abortion, but the only hospital in town in a Catholic hospital which, for religious reasons only, does not do abortions. Therefore, the woman may not get an abortion in the only hospital in town. The woman has the right to an abortion but is not “entitled” to it. The government does not have to provide it or pay for it, thus preserving the rights of the religious not to be complicit in it. The religious organization that provides health insurance to its employees does not include a provision for abortion or contraception in that insurance. Many examples of the unique position of religious rights in this society.

    Hoss: “I dare you to quote a single person from this forum who is advocating coercion to change a persons beliefs.” Not coercion to change a person’s belief, just advocating isolating and marginalizing people of faith to diminish their role in society and stopping them from practicing their religion. Here you go just off the top of my head: Grabula: “why don’t we eradicate useless systems fo belief based on faith and nt rational thinking, instead of allowing parents to mutilate or deny medicine and apropriate tretaments to their children who have no concept of what the responible thing to do is?” “People of faith shouldnt’ be making decisions on laws or the welfare of the people.”

    So we’re “eradicating useless systems of belief” — the word is “eradicating” — and disallowing people of faith from circumcising their male children and disallowing people of faith from taking part in the governance of their country. How’s that? Any outrage there from anyone else?

  303. The Other John Mcon 22 May 2014 at 3:02 pm

    there you go confusing “people” with “beliefs” again…sheesh you really are incapable of learning

  304. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Sonic
    “I’d suggest the idea the society would be better off if religious people were kept from political office and suppressed to the point they couldn’t discuss their faith publicly is an example of a faith based idea.”

    Overall, everyone would be better off if beliefs unique to religion did not effect decision making.

    Banning religion or censoring religion is an attack of the freedom of thought and ideas. In my opinion, a society that bans or censor ideas is an immoral and unstable society. Your example of the USSR demonstrates this, but you fail to give an example Grabula is asking for.

    Grabula is saying something different than what you think he is. You are arguing with a straw man because of this misunderstanding. You could ask Grabula to clarify his statements to correct this misunderstanding.

    Don’t talk about lunch right now. I’m hungry as hell because I skipped lunch to make a few comments on here.

  305. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 3:14 pm

    “Your opinions on “scientific questions in the biological sciences” do not jibe with the consensus of the medical community which considers the use of some therapeutic options which you have found worthless to be not worthless. ”

    Science gets the say. We’re the ones who prpperly determine these answers. YOu didn’t understand thi before, though, so you’re not going to understand it now.

    “Your facility in biology or any of the non-clinical sciences has minimal bearing on how medicine is practiced.”

    Science has little bearing on the practice of medicine????!!!!!?????

    Do you read this shit before you press “submit comment”? Then again, I suppose you’re just being consistent, sad as that is.

  306. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Sonic:

    Once again, you’ve sidetracked the discussion into meaningless semantic nonsense about what “Libertarian” means.

    “You have made a logical error confusing any reduction of regulation to ‘libertarianism’.
    Now the error has been pointed out (an obvious one) and you refuse to acknowledge. It’s as simple as that.”

    No – you’re just playing semantics to distract form your glaring lack of knowledge about financial regulation.

    ***Reducing regulation on the financial industry is in general libertarian policy***

    I don’t need to go through each policy and poll every self-identified libertarian to make this statement. It’s obtuse to say that I would have to do that.

    But here:
    http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/libertarians-call-for-more-finance-industry-freedom

    So ridiculous….

  307. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 3:26 pm

    The problem, Sonic, is that you said this:

    “The banks in the US have tons of regulations- and have for years.
    So the regulators have done a very poor job– removing some regulations and not others and so forth.
    To say the banking (financial) industry in the US is an example of libertarianism is to misunderstand what libertarianism is, or to misunderstand the regulation of the banks or both, IMHO.”

    And now YOU wanna back away. I don’t blame you.

  308. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 3:27 pm

    @Joe
    I’ll clear this up for you by asking a direct question to Grabula.

    @Grabula
    Do you think society should coerce a ban on religion. So you know, I’m ok with discussing the reasoning behind considering a ban, but I am not ok with a ban.

    You also made a few comments about circumcision, and I thought I would share an article I read on it a few months back.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/circumcision-what-does-science-say/

    @Joe
    I hope from my writing that I have made clear to you what I am for and against when it comes to religion and society.

    Although, I have yet to state my position on marginalizing religion. I’m very ok with marginalizing any ideology that promotes irrationality, not just religion.

  309. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 3:36 pm

    TheOtherJohn: Eradicating “systems of belief” and disallowing people from practicing their religion and taking part in their government. How is that confusing “people” with “beliefs?” Seems to me he nailed them both. And yet still no outrage. Go figure.

    Steve12: “We’re the ones who prpperly determine these answers.” Who is “we”? Physicians or biologists? Time’s up. The answer is that physicians determine the best treatment for their patients.

    Read it again: “Your facility in biology or any of the non-clinical sciences has minimal bearing on how medicine is practiced.” The subject of the sentence is “facility.” Sigh.

  310. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 4:00 pm

    YOu got me Joe! It took a while, but you got me. I read your sentence incorrectly. Sigh indeed.

    “We’re the ones who prpperly determine these answers.” Who is “we”? Physicians or biologists? Time’s up. The answer is that physicians determine the best treatment for their patients.

    This is where I stopped talking to you last time, so I won’t get back into it. Clinical observations do not trump scientific studies. That you don’t understand that blows my mind! And not because I think you’re an MD – but because it’s so simple. But I also remember your ‘take’ on experimental logic, and it was (ahem) interesting.

  311. BillyJoe7on 22 May 2014 at 4:14 pm

    DrJoe,

    I gave a short summary of my view and you misunderstood.
    I expanded on this view in a second comment, and you still misunderstood.
    I even quoted myself and demonstrated how you would respond if you still misunderstood and you demonstrated that you still misunderstood.
    Then other posters explained it to you and you still misunderstood.

    In your naïveté, you even invoked Godwin.

    My conclusion is that you are either wilfully misunderstanding or that you are incapable of understanding.
    In either case, Godwin has knocked you off your high horse and clean off the stage.

  312. DrJoeinCAon 22 May 2014 at 4:28 pm

    BJ7: Your posts stand.

    You want to give people “a better way” to live their lives. “Better” would, of course, be defined by you.

    You are “not happy” if people of faith go on their merry way. They may be happy, but you are not.

    And you are “not happy” to leave them alone. And “by leaving them alone to believe what their religion has told them to believe, they will end up restricting my freedom, the freedom of all non-religionists, and the freedom of reilgionists of other persuasions. I am not happy to let that happen.”

    You are just unhappy at how people of faith behave in so many ways, and you want to change their behavior to comport with your own. You’re pretty clear. I don’t think I misunderstand you at all.

  313. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 5:53 pm

    steve12-
    I have not ‘backed away’ from that statement– Your link is instructive–
    “The problem isn’t too little regulation, but too much…”
    So when you say the libertarians would want less regulation- you are correct- that’s what I said.

    To conclude they would want the specific actions taken by the regulators and congress up to 2008 is an illogical conclusion.

    From the article you linked to-
    The Libertarian Party’s Platform states: “We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”

    Do you think that describes the regulatory situation circa 2008?

  314. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Hoss-
    You claim- “Overall, everyone would be better off if beliefs unique to religion did not effect decision making.”

    I gave a specific counter-example to that (USSR).

    You assert without evidence something contrary to the evidence thus far presented.
    You don’t even know you are doing so.

    The power of faith is amazing. :-)

    grabula-
    Hoss thinks I’ve misunderstood you.
    Perhaps I have.
    Would you care to explain further?

  315. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 6:23 pm

    @sonic

    Hoss: “Overall, everyone would be better off if beliefs unique to religion did not effect decision making.”
    sonic: “I gave a specific counter-example to that (USSR).”

    You did not counter what I just said. Tell me exactly how the USSR example demonstrates how, overall, everyone would be better off if beliefs unique to religion effected decision making. Please don’t try to apply other peoples arguments to what I said. I did not say belief should be banned, so I really have no idea how your USSR example applies. Also, you should read what I wrote right after what you quoted me saying.

    I hoped I didn’t need to fully make the argument that people making decisions based on irrational thinking and false beliefs makes society worse off. This not only applies to beliefs unique to religion but also any ideology or belief.

    “You assert without evidence something contrary to the evidence thus far presented.”
    Again, you did not contradict what I said.

    “The power of faith is amazing.”
    So is equivocation.

  316. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Hoss-
    I gave the example of the USSR because they have a recent history of having religion play an important role in society (pre-1922), followed by attempts to remove religion from society (Lenin et. al. 1922- 1997) and then in 1997 religion was seen as more acceptable again and is now part of the society again.

    I believe the people of the USSR were better off during the times when religion was part of the society and they were worse off when there was a removal of religion from the society.

    The analysis of the situation is arguable, but I have supplied a real life example that can be seen to indicate society is better off when religions are part of it.

    Rather than discuss the evidence, you have made a blanket assertion that seems contrary to the evidence.

    Your confidence in your statement seems greater than the evidence would seem to support.

    Faith, by our earlier agreed to definition.

  317. Hosson 22 May 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Sonic
    I made a distinction of a free society would be better off without people making decisions based on beliefs unique to religion. I didn’t write “free society” because what I wrote right after addressed that in a more detailed way. I already acknowledged using coersion is immoral and destabilizes a society, which I already agreed is eximplified by your USSR example. I didn’t freaking contradict myself the first time I said it either. But why don’t you just keep ignoring the nuance of my arguments.

  318. grabulaon 22 May 2014 at 9:29 pm

    @hoss

    Honestly it would be ideal to just eradicate it through education. Banning it won’t accomplish anything useful. I would like to see it banned from government institutions, schools and other public forums.

  319. sonicon 22 May 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Hoss-
    What free society are you talking about?
    What beliefs unique to religion are you talking about?
    Which society is better off without the religious involvement?

    You assert without evidence.

    My example isn’t perfect (which one is?), but I must say it is a much more convincing as evidence than the assertions you have made.

    I get the feeling your confidence in your assertions is so strong you don’t think any evidence in support is necessary.

    I’m noting grabula’s last comment– he doesn’t offer any evidence to support his assertion– all though I have supplied a real world example that brings his assertion into serious question.

    Isn’t faith wonderful? :-)

  320. Niche Geekon 22 May 2014 at 9:58 pm

    @Joe,

    It seems clear that I’m getting nowhere in this discussion. So far as I can tell your reasoning shuts down when you read “abortion”. I understand that you have strong convictions and that you view abortion as a district, possibly unique, case. That said, if you are correct and the US constitution’s protection of religion precludes the government from using tax dollars to pay for programs that are not in keeping with religious dogma then you should agree that Quaker pacifism should preclude wars of aggression at minimum and defence spending in general under some interpretations of that faith. You should agree that Muslim and Jewish dogma preclude the 100M$ the US spends on pork subsidies. Yet you don’t. Why? You haven’t ever addressed that question on religious or constitutional grounds. You’ve only asserted that it is different because… Well you’ve simply asserted that it’s different.

  321. grabulaon 22 May 2014 at 10:05 pm

    “I remember now why I don’t like talking to Joe. In my opinion, he’s unable to have an honest conversation”

    True story

  322. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 10:21 pm

    steve12-
    “I have not ‘backed away’ from that statement– ”

    YOu absolutely have. You said that there were plenty of regulations present and the regulators just didn’t mind them. This is demonstrably false.

    “To conclude they would want the specific actions taken by the regulators and congress up to 2008 is an illogical conclusion.”

    I never said all of the specific actions of regulators and congress. I cited specific regulation that were rolled back that you refused to address.

    Libertarians are for gov’t mandated capital requirements, restrictions on what financial instruments can be created, and telling financial companies that if they are an investment bank they can’t be a consumer bank? Bullshit, bullshit and more bullshit.

    “The Libertarian Party’s Platform states: “We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”
    Do you think that describes the regulatory situation circa 2008?”

    Of course not, but, once again, I never said that. Weakening or removing those particular gov’t regulations took poicy in a LIBERTARIAN DIRECTION. I don’t need to show that the economic system was fully implement libertariansim or that those rolling back the regulations were avowed libertarians.

  323. steve12on 22 May 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Sonic – please defend this and let me know what you meant specifically:

    “The banks in the US have tons of regulations- and have for years.
    So the regulators have done a very poor job– removing some regulations and not others and so forth.
    To say the banking (financial) industry in the US is an example of libertarianism is to misunderstand what libertarianism is, or to misunderstand the regulation of the banks or both, IMHO.”

  324. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 12:57 am

    NicheGreek: “if you are correct and the US constitution’s protection of religion precludes the government from using tax dollars to pay for programs that are not in keeping with religious dogma…” I don’t think I said that the Constitution precludes the government from paying for programs that are not in keeping with religious dogma. What I am saying is that in my opinion the government SHOULD NOT pay for some programs (such as abortion) at all unless they are an entitlement and part of the legitimate role of government. In addition, the government SHOULD NOT pay for abortion in particular because, again in my opinion, it is the taking of an innocent human life, it is not the role of government, and it would violate my and other’s religious principles and Constitutional rights to have to pay for it.

    Also, the government SHOULD NOT in my opinion force religious people or religious organizations to buy health insurance for their employees that includes as a benefit abortion or birth control. In fact, I think this is the case now for religious organizations, and is being tested in the Supreme Court to see whether the court thinks it applies to religious individuals.

    I’m not saying that the Supreme Court would agree with me. Maybe yes, maybe no. But this is my position as a person of faith.

    As I said about Quaker pacifism, there are apparently several “levels” of pacifism from those who allow violence in self-defense to those who don’t. In any event, the requirement to contribute to the common defense to preserve the nation’s sovereignty is a civic duty which all citizens should take part in. I think the responsibilities of citizenship are important. Once a person assumes citizenship, those responsibilities go with it. I believe I already said that I did not believe that the government should take part in “wars of aggression.” I don’t think the government should do this anyway. When there are “wars of aggression,” however, then the issue of tax money from pacifists becomes problematic. I cannot defend the government using anyone’s tax money on a war of aggression, so an opinion on pacifists’ contribution is moot. But national defense? It’s part of the citizenship responsibility.

    Pork subsidies? Uh, I dunno. I guess my impression is that there are religions who don’t want their members to eat pork. I’m not sure whether they think that others who are not members of their religion should also not eat pork. Probably not. I’ve never heard Jewish people have agida about Catholics eating pork (or Catholics being uncircumcised for that matter). I doubt seriously whether they would have a problem with the government spending money on pork subsidies other than the political opinion that the government SHOULD NOT be involved in pork subsidies or any other subsidies.

    Do you see that there is stuff such as national defense that citizens do as a whole to preserve the nation? And there is stuff like abortion that involves a personal decision by an individual woman and does involve, in the minds of many, the taking of an innocent life? Those two concepts are different, you know.

  325. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 1:04 am

    Grabula: You’ve had a couple of people ask you to explain yourself regarding your “eradication” of useless systems comments and “disallowing” people of faith to circumcise their male children and “disallowing” people of faith to make decisions on laws or welfare. Care to elaborate?

  326. Niche Geekon 23 May 2014 at 2:59 am

    @Joe

    I can see someone making the same argument, that military action inevitably involves the taking of a life and that life is sacrosanct. I don’t personally believe this, but I don’t see a difference between that argument and yours.

    As for your argument about civic responsibility, in my country healthcare is generally viewed as a civic responsibility as well. On this we clearly disagree.

  327. grabulaon 23 May 2014 at 4:37 am

    @joe

    I’ve explained this a few times already, I’ll give you one more shot.

    Ideally, magical thinking could be educated out of our society. Since that’s not likely anytime soon I’d like to see religion seperated from government and not dictating the choices I make.

    You don’t like abortion, don’t have abortions. You’re argument about the government not paying for abortions is ridiculous because your faith makes you irrational. The government pays for alot of things some people don’t, you can’t deny people something just because your religion says it’s bad.

    Stop trying to infiltrate the public establishment with woo and magical thinking. Evolution happens, the earth is 4 something billion years old. Stop misleading your children, or mutilating them in the name of your God. Stop insisting on prayer during public forums. Stop having ideological wars based on who’s ridiculous fairy King is more right. Stop making politics about your beliefs. Stop rejecting anyone in politics who doesn’t follow one particular fairy tale. Stop denying children modern medicine based on illogical and irrational beliefs.

    Keep the other crap that doesn’t hath l harm anyone directly in your Sunday schools and your churches and you can practice whatever the hell you want.

    Otherwise reap what you sow.

    I’ve answered your question, I see you still can’t stomach trying to rationalize the mutilation of children.

  328. Bill Openthalton 23 May 2014 at 4:46 am

    Sonic –

    First- a ‘stable society’ is an ideological construct that not everyone would agree is desirable.
    Can you acknowledge that what you are advocating is an ideologically based system?

    What do you mean by “ideological construct”? For me, “stable” is purely descriptive and indicates a persistence in time, very much like a stable chemical compound. To stay with Godwin, it is obvious that one ideology has explicitly included perdurance in its vision. I am not aware of any ideology advocating instability (“with XYZ you’ll have no future, but you’ll have fun dying!”), but then, weirder things have happened.

    Staying alive is one of the basic aims of living organisms, so it seems fairly obvious to extend that aim to a collaborative collection of living organisms (after all, organisms cooperate because it makes them more successful in evolutionary terms, and cooperation that is unstable isn’t exactly cooperation).

    Where I live the police enforce the laws with guns and so forth– the churches tend to ‘pray for you’. Is that what you mean– the police use force to enforce the ideologically based morals while the regular people can’t? Is that the system you are trying to avoid?

    I am not trying to avoid anything. I am trying to explain my understanding of a pluralistic secular society, and why it requires certain accommodations from religions and other ideologies (mainly accepting that they are not better or worse than their colleagues, and that the rules of society trump their rules — I realise this is very difficult for those who have at their core that they right and the others are wrong).

    I am sorry to hear the society you live in has policing problems, and hope you aren’t discriminated against for your beliefs and convictions.

  329. grabulaon 23 May 2014 at 4:48 am

    @joe

    I’m tired of the religious in this country saying they just want to be left alone from one side of thier face and trying to cram their BS down or throats with the other. Your mutilating and killing children in the name of make believe. You spread lies and falsehoods in direct defiance of the evidence. Science for you people isn’t the tool is supposed to be to free is from the worst thinking, it’s the tool of some fantasy bad guy who’s trying to lead and decieve you.

    YOU Joe are guilty of all the worst thinking the people of this world exhibits. You’re disingenuous and you blatantly ignore the evidence put before you on anything you’ve bought into. You cherry pick the most mundane arguments because you can’t be bothered to understand the material being discussed. You avoid at all cost answering anything that you know will damn you for being Ok with horrible things like circumcision while alternately attacking abortion which your black and wrhite views won’t allow you to see as something more complex than a childlike view of Good vs evil.

    All of this and you dare to accuse others of arrogance. You dare to act surprised and offended when someone wants to just see your irrational behavior go away.

    When will you, and those who think like you begin offering something of value to this world?

  330. sonicon 23 May 2014 at 10:24 am

    steve12-
    What I meant-

    The banks have numerous regulations.
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/reglisting.htm

    These regulations change over time.
    The regulations in 2008 weren’t robust enough to keep the industry from collapse.

    To say this is an example of libertarianism at work is an error- (massive misguided regulation is not a libertarian goal).
    To say the banks are or were ‘unregulated’ is an error.

    That is what I meant by the statement.

    Bill Openthalt-
    Mao Zedong didn’t have the goal of a ‘stable society’.
    His ideology demanded constant revolution.

    Your ideology apparently doesn’t demand constant revolution– rather ‘stability’.

    That’s an ideological goal. It is not universally shared.

    I would want a pluralistic secular society as well. (I’m less certain about the ‘stability part’– seems like when things don’t change for too long things get pretty stagnant and stinky. Even now in the USA, I think the wealth has been accumulated into too small of pockets– maybe a little instability would be appropriate…)

    We share certain ideological agreements apparently.

    But let’s admit they are ideological agreements– otherwise we want what we want because it is unquestionably right and others are wrong– and now we might as well be standing behind a bible IMHO.

    Is that making more sense?

  331. Bill Openthalton 23 May 2014 at 10:44 am

    sonic –

    I am not advocating anything, nor am I passing judgement. I am not peddling an ideology. I am trying to be as descriptive as possible.

    Stable doesn’t mean static. A static society would not be stable, as it would not be able to adapt to changing circumstances. I do agree that too much inequality does not promote stability, so a better policy of resource-sharing would be welcome.

    Thanks for reminding me of Mao Zedong. He did indeed make people die in interesting ways, and promoted constant upheaval to stay in power. Poor Chinese.

  332. Steven Novellaon 23 May 2014 at 10:59 am

    It is not practical, nor demanded by the constitution, to give every citizen veto power over government spending if that spending supports actions that violate their religious beliefs.

    Being in the majority is not enough – that violates religious freedoms and separation of church and state, that specifically is meant to protect minority religious views (which includes atheism).

    If something is deemend a right, this must be considered in the context of whether or not they can practically access that right. If healthcare is a right, but someone cannot access it for whatever reason, then their rights are being violated. There is legal precedence for this.

    You can’t call something a right, then prevent people from accessing it and say that it is their problem because it is not an entitlement.

    Our society generally considers access to at least basic health care a right. Limiting someone’s access to health care becasue of someone else’s religious beliefs is a violation of their civil rights.

    If you play in the pubilc square (run a hospital, have employees) you have to play by the public rules, and that does not give you the right to change public policy to suit your religion.

  333. Hosson 23 May 2014 at 11:07 am

    @grabula
    I thought you cleared up things quite nicely with the first response of just a couple of sentences. I wasn’t surprised when Joe didn’t understand. He has more than a few preconceptions that are biasing his perception, and it makes him constantly argue against something that wasn’t said. When he is corrected, he forgets what was just said and goes back to arguing against a straw man.

    @sonic
    I’ve seen other commenters have extremely long discussions with you, most of which lead no where. I’m choosing to not have this discussion with you, mainly, because I think it will be fruitless, a waste of time, and I find you to be very frustrating to talk to.

  334. Bill Openthalton 23 May 2014 at 11:11 am

    Steven –

    Nicely put sir.

  335. Hosson 23 May 2014 at 12:19 pm

    It really blows my mind how narrow minded the religious conscience arguments are against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They only apply their (flawed) arguments to mainstream christianity and fail to take into account the consequences of applying such exemptions to all religions.

    I wonder what Christian Scientist business owners would drop, based on their religious derived conscience, in the healthcare insurance plans they provide to their employees. I’m guessing whatever is left, after purging their health insurance plans, couldn’t be called health insurance.

  336. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Grabula: They’re coming to take you away, haha.

    Novella: “It is not practical, nor demanded by the constitution, to give every citizen veto power over government spending if that spending supports actions that violate their religious beliefs.” Right, the Constitution does not mention “veto power.” But freedom of religion does mean that a person/organization is not forced to violate their religious principles, e.g., by paying for someone to have an abortion (my opinion of the role of government), by actually providing that abortion (see Catholic hospitals), by buying insurance which pays for abortion (before the Supreme Court now).

    “Being in the majority is not enough – that violates religious freedoms and separation of church and state, that specifically is meant to protect minority religious views (which includes atheism).” Right back at you. The religious minority’s rights are protected. That’s the point.

    “If something is deemend a right, this must be considered in the context of whether or not they can practically access that right. If healthcare is a right, but someone cannot access it for whatever reason, then their rights are being violated.” No one is saying they “cannot access it.” The discussion is whether a person of religion has to provide it or pay for it. They have a right to go find a site that provides the procedure they want. For example, if the only hospital in town is a Catholic hospital and that hospital doesn’t provide abortion services and the woman has to travel some distance and the distance to travel is somehow inconvenient or arduous for her, are her rights “violated”? The answer is no. Would the hospital provider have to provide the service in that case? The answer is no again.

    “You can’t call something a right, then prevent people from accessing it and say that it is their problem because it is not an entitlement.” No one is “preventing” people from accessing abortion services. This is a phony argument.

    “Our society generally considers access to at least basic health care a right. Limiting someone’s access to health care becasue of someone else’s religious beliefs is a violation of their civil rights.” The same phony argument about “limiting access” with the additional new unfounded assertion that abortion is part of “basic health care.” Do you see the difference between “limiting access” and “not having to provide?”

    “If you play in the pubilc square (run a hospital, have employees) you have to play by the public rules, and that does not give you the right to change public policy to suit your religion.” Again this is a phony argument. Who said anything about “changing public policy to suit your religion?” Your assertion is clearly not true that “public” whatevers do not have the right to special treatment based on religious beliefs. See Catholic hospitals, Catholic organizations which DO NOT have to provide abortion services or pay for insurance for their employees which includes abortion. So if organizations of Catholic people have rights not to partake in abortion by providing or funding, why wouldn’t their members have those same rights?

    In addition, it is clearly and Constitutionally “public policy” to allow people the right not to have to violate their religious beliefs. If you want to discuss which public policy should take precedence, the right to an abortion or the right of religious freedom, then we could have that discussion. I think it’s already been done and settled that women have a limited right to abortion, and religious people are not forced to facilitate the exercise of that right. Just don’t think that your judgment of which public policy should be preeminent is any more valid than mine.

  337. mumadaddon 23 May 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Joe,

    In an earlier post I recall you actually showed some nuance re abortion, stating that abortion was wrong when the foetus is viable. What is your actual opinion on the issue? Is it always wrong? Wrong after a certain point? Wrong after a certain point except in some circumstances?

    Regarding Catholic hospitals – in the UK we have such things–we even have homeopathic hospitals opened by Prince Charles–but they’re privately funded and tend to offer a limited set of treatments. If my nearest ‘hospital’ was a homeopathic one and I had a heart attack, the ambulance would most definitely not whisk me off to the homeopathic hospital. Our healthcare system guarantees us certain facilities, including state financed hospitals that are the default treatment centre in an emergency. If Catholic hospitals don’t want to offer abortion, and homeopathic hospitals don’t want to offer real treatment, that’s up to them and their investors, but the NHS will strive to ensure that everyone has access to emergency care that meets their standards.

    Are your Catholic hospitals state funded? That would seem pretty egregious to me. If they aren’t then they should be allowed to offer or withhold whatever treatments they like, but if they are then they are surely required to meet the standard of care set by the law, and if that includes something that violates religious doctrine, tough luck.

  338. Mlemaon 23 May 2014 at 4:53 pm

    tmac57-
    “So we are in agreement: Faith (i.e. belief in god in the context of this blog post) is irrational. So why are you criticizing that position?”

    Oh my gosh! Is this your “gotcha” moment? What happened to the man of steel? :)
    I think one could make an argument for faith being rational (standard word usage) – just as one can make an argument for charity as rational. We don’t consider motivational emotions to be irrational. But even though I can’t support that those who believe in God are irrational, I can’t support the rationale of believing in God either.

    “Strictly speaking,I do not think that they must (your word) use compartmentalization in order to do science…”

    OK, let’s remove the word “must”. Let’s even throw out the whole compartmentalization phrase. I think this is what you are saying reflects your thinking:

    “…when the specific tenets of their faith come in to direct opposition to the established science that they are doing,then either they might wall that part of their faith off,or,in some cases,deny the science altogether in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.”

    I think you’re expressing a personal belief about how the cognition of the “faithful” works. I’m more inclined to think that someone who has to struggle with cognitive dissonance from their basic beliefs in order to do whatever science they’re doing, wouldn’t be doing that science. My concern with the sort of personal belief I think you’re expressing is: cognitive dissonance and “walling off” aren’t flattering attributes. If an employer believed that a potential employee would be plagued by cognitive dissonance, or would need to do some mental gymnastics in order to perform their job well, she might very well avoid hiring him. Having such issues as “walling off” makes a person “less than” a person without them because it implies troubled thinking. I understand that an atheist is inclined to take it as a given that anyone who believes in God must not be thinking critically, but there’s no evidence that i know of which suggests that that is so. I think I would need an illustration of how the situation you describe could exist, because I can’t think of one. Can you name a tenet of a faith that would be in direct opposition to the established science (that a person of that faith would be doing), that would in turn cause him/her to wall off their faith or deny the science altogether? Or, you can even leave out “that a person of that faith would be doing”.

    To me, the assertion that a person who believes in God must do mental gymnastics, or wall off, or compartmentalize their faith in order to do science is a way to disparage the mentality of people who believe in God. I don’t see any basis for the assertion and I think it’s inflammatory due to the derogatory nature of impugning someone’s cognition.
    thanks

  339. steve12on 23 May 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Sonic:

    “What I meant-
    The banks have numerous regulations.
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/reglisting.htm

    OK

    “These regulations change over time.”

    OK

    “The regulations in 2008 weren’t robust enough to keep the industry from collapse.”

    OK

    “To say this is an example of libertarianism at work is an error- (massive misguided regulation is not a libertarian goal).”

    No. The lack of regulation is libertarian principals in action. Look at the specific change or absence in regulations that lead up to the crash. I don’t care to speak in these generalities. I’ll paste it again:

    “Libertarians are for gov’t mandated capital requirements, restrictions on what financial instruments can be created, and telling financial companies that if they are an investment bank they can’t be a consumer bank? Bullshit, bullshit and more bullshit.”

    Libertarians are NOT for gov’t capital requirements, are AGAINST regulating the derivatives market and DO NOT believe that the gov’t should tell commercial banks who they can and cannot trade with. They don’t, becasue that’s what libertarianism IS! YOu can play these “What is libertarianism anyway?” semantic games all you want. It’s horseshit. Can something only be libertarian is Libertarian God comes down from Heaven and declares it so? Or we have to be in a complete libertarian state before an action can be in keeping with libertarianism? Do all the self-avowed libertarians have to agree?

    By your standards, nothing can be called libertarian! The concept doesn’t exist, save for a rarefied pure and theoretical version that may only be invoked when describing actions as equally pure and theoretically unambiguous!

    “To say the banks are or were ‘unregulated’ is an error.”

    Very true. Never said it.

    “That is what I meant by the statement.”

    OK

  340. Mlemaon 23 May 2014 at 5:07 pm

    mumadadd,

    If we didn’t believe that it was possible to change a person’s mind through logic, reason, and science, then all our debate would be irrational.
    There’s also the element of experience to consider. If a person considers personal experience as valid evidence, whether or not it’s substantiated by the consensus of “reality”, they may have a different belief about things that can’t be falsified. We all agree that what goes on in the brain without any external verification can’t be used as proof of anything. But many people use it as evidence.
    Example: person A: “Pineapple tastes good” person B: “Pineapple tastes bad.” A and B are both right, but neither can prove it, or disprove the other’s statement. As long as they don’t confuse subjective reality with consensus (or objective) reality, we don’t say they’re irrational.
    Also, I’m trying to be careful about how I use the word irrational. I understand how you’re using it here, I think – it means illogical. But when talking about people, the word irrational has negative connotations. It reflects on a persons cognition in negative way.

  341. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Mumadadd: Actually, my personal opinion on abortion is indeed nuanced. Certainly, I don’t think it should be permissible after 24 weeks when the fetus is capable of independent life. And I don’t think I have much of a problem in the first 8 weeks when there is minimal development. It’s the 8-24 week period where the fetus is moving, has a heartbeat, and organs are beginning to develop that bothers me.

    Catholic hospitals are not “state funded,” though they do accept government insurance payments such as Medicare (elderly) and Medicaid (poor or disabled) for care of those patients. No one questions the right of Catholic hospitals to not do abortions.

  342. mumadaddon 23 May 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Mlema,

    Hi. What is it that I said that you’re responding to? Very long thread…

  343. Mlemaon 23 May 2014 at 6:04 pm

    mumadadd, :) this one:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/preaching-against-skepticism/comment-page-7/#comment-72989

  344. BillyJoe7on 23 May 2014 at 6:27 pm

    DrJoe,

    “I don’t think I have much of a problem in the first 8 weeks when there is minimal development. It’s the 8-24 week period where the fetus is moving, has a heartbeat, and organs are beginning to develop that bothers me”

    In other words, your base your opinions on your emotional reactions.
    Certainly not on the facts because, actually, the heart starts beating at six weeks gestation.
    That fact combined with your emotional reactions would preclude practically all abortions.

    I don’t want my freedom constrained by your religious beliefs let alone your emotional reactions.

  345. mumadaddon 23 May 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Joe,

    Then I think your position may not be based as much on your faith as you think. Does the bible have anything at all to say about abortion? My guess is that it doesn’t. Most (hopefully) Christians share most of the same values as the non-religious, because we’re part of the same society and share our wider environment and culture; it’s just that you have this extra layer which is generally either pointless or dangerous.

    My primary issue with religion is the truth or otherwise of the central belief in an all powerful creator who cares about our moral actions and will judge us, then either grant us eternal bliss or eternal suffering; who created the entire universe just to give us a quick test with eternal consequences, when we were (for the most part) blind to the rules; who may damn us for not believing in him but made us critical beings who seek evidence; who made the world in such a way that scientific inquiry would find huge contradictions in his divine word; who sent himself in flesh as his own son to die for the sins of the sinful race he created even though he knew that was exactly what would happen.

    I may be mischaracterising your position above, but I find the central premise of a personal god to be blatantly unsupported by any evidence. When people do actually start taking their moral cues from a 2000 year old book, as though it’s the word of god, society is affected for the worse.

  346. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 8:23 pm

    BJ7: And you base your opinion on when a human life has the right not to be killed on what? Seriously, at what point does the fetus have the right not to be killed? Let’s see where you stand and what you base your opinion on.

    You can have all the abortions you want. In fact, I encourage it.

    Mumadadd: I don’t have any problem at all with you being an atheist, and I will not try to convince you otherwise. I think belief in a God is rational, and you don’t. I think atheists who believe they have the rational explanation for the world as it is are incorrect. But life is too short to try to convince people who believe in nothing that there is actually something there.

    As to taking my moral cues from the Bible as interpreted by my religious teachers, I’m ok with that. I consider myself a moral person, in part or in whole based upon my religious education. I believe that people who live according to a moral code which is based on religion are good people whose rights to believe in the sanctity of life should be respected. And I think that you would be hard-pressed to show that “society is affected for the worse.”

    Look at what this whole discussion is about. Religious people think that fetuses at a certain stage of development have the right to live. The other side thinks they don’t have that right with, in my opinion, not a shred of scientific evidence to support their position. This is a philosophical question after all. You cannot PROVE scientifically when developing fetuses gain the right to not be killed. And the bottom line is, even if you don’t have an opinion either way, wouldn’t you say that erring on the side of NOT killing a live being is ultimately the less harmful and more human alternative? Wouldn’t you?

  347. tmac57on 23 May 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Mlema- Virtually every item that you continue to argue against is either a strawman that you yourself have erected,and has been previously addressed. That is very tiresome and pointless,so unless anyone else wants to pick up the baton and have at it,then I will cut my losses,with the exception of this:

    Can you name a tenet of a faith that would be in direct opposition to the established science (that a person of that faith would be doing), that would in turn cause him/her to wall off their faith or deny the science altogether?

    Young earth creationism

    Example From Wiki: “Kurt Patrick Wise is an American young earth creationist who serves as the Director of Creation Research Center at Truett-McConnell College. He has a PhD in geology from Harvard University. He’s known for his writings in support for creationism as well as his work for the Creation Museum.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Wise

    If you want more,it would be like shooting fish in a geo-centric barrel .

  348. grabulaon 23 May 2014 at 8:42 pm

    @hoss

    Thanks. Joes up to his clowning again. I’d already expressed my stance a couple of times to him, then to you so he had plenty of opportunity to figure it out. I’m not sure what he gets out of ignoring responses and insisting you answer over and over what’s already been answered. I think at this point he’s just not reading

  349. grabulaon 23 May 2014 at 8:44 pm

    @joe

    “They’re coming to take you away, haha”

    Still avoiding the hard stuff huh Joe? Can’t answer rationally so you just avoid it altogether. ..

  350. ccbowerson 23 May 2014 at 10:07 pm

    “The beliefs of religious people, unlike the non-beliefs of atheists, do have a special status. It’s called the Constitution.”

    This is a bit of a confused response (the special status is called the consitution?). I think you mean that the free exercise of religion has a special status in the constitution, and this is of course true, but this is different than saying that having religious beliefs deserve a special status with regards to following the law. This is what I was talking about, and of course they do not, unless that law is found to be unconstitutional from a free exercise or an establishment clause perspective.

  351. DrJoeinCAon 23 May 2014 at 10:36 pm

    ccbowers: Yeah, you’re right. I misspoke. The free exercise of religious does have a special status in the Constitution.

    However, I don’t think I ever said that those beliefs trump the law. What I am saying is that in the process of the enacting of a law, potential conflicts between the law and religious beliefs of some citizens are taken into account, for example, by not requiring Catholic organizations to pay for employee health insurance that funds abortion. It is certainly the case that often exceptions are written into laws to address and maintain the rights of the religious to freely practice their religion and not violate their religious principles. This is as it should be.

  352. Mlemaon 23 May 2014 at 10:45 pm

    tmac57 – ok. And I’ll just point out that since Kurt Wise isn’t doing science, you can’t show that he’s compartmentalizing. He’s obviously not a scientist. And he’s obviously not doing science. I’m sure plenty of people have called him irrational, in order to insult him. But I don’t think he’s irrational – I think he’s just wrong.

  353. the devils gummy bearon 23 May 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of smacks suddenly slapped out in frustration as faces were palmed, and were suddenly furrowed. I fear something libertarian has happened.

  354. BillyJoe7on 24 May 2014 at 12:50 am

    DrJoe,

    “And you base your opinion on when a human life has the right not to be killed on what? Seriously, at what point does the fetus have the right not to be killed? Let’s see where you stand and what you base your opinion on”

    How does that answer your difficulty…

    You don’t want foetuses with heart beats to be aborted. Combined with the fact that the foetus has a heart beat at six weeks gestation, that means you don’t like foetuses at six weeks and older to be aborted. So this effectively means that, with few exceptions, abortions could not be performed at all. Which seems to conflict with your previous so called “nuanced” opinion regarding abortions.
    So how do you overcome this difficulty?
    Or have the scientific facts spoiled your party?

    Then I will answer your questions.

  355. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 1:47 am

    BJ7: And I tell you again that I base my opinions on what I was taught religiously, the viability of the fetus, the stage of development towards personhood. Pretty much you are correct. Anything under 8 weeks, I’m sort of ok with. Over 8 weeks, not so much.

    “So this effectively means that, with few exceptions, abortions could not be performed at all.” You are once again incorrect — no surprise there — as “most abortions (88%) are obtained in the first trimester of pregnancy. In fact, over half of all abortions are obtained within the first 8 weeks. Fewer than 2% occur at 21 weeks or later.” This would mean that if I had my religious way, abortions would be cut in half. Not too shabby.

    http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/women_who.html

    Ball back to you. I told you what I base my opinion on. Admittedly this does not involved a lot of science because, as I have said, it’s mostly a philosophical and religious question. What do you base yours on? How do YOU determine when a human life has the right not be killed? I’m anxious to hear what the rational scientific atheistic viewpoint is on when a fetus has the right not to be killed.

  356. BillyJoe7on 24 May 2014 at 4:11 am

    DrJoe,

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    Seems I was a little out.
    The above reference says that 1 in 3 abortions are at or before six weeks gestation.
    But that’s still 2 in 3 who you would deny an abortion by presently accepted criteria.

    Fortunately, these women’s freedom are not being constrained by your emotional reactions.

  357. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 4:17 am

    Joe,

    ” I think atheists who believe they have the rational explanation for the world as it is are incorrect. But life is too short to try to convince people who believe in nothing that there is actually something there. ”

    This is i straw man – I only told one thing that I don’t believe in. I believe in lots of things – your god just isn’t one of them. This is one of the most common misrepresentations of atheists by the religious, and I just don’t get it. I do not need to believe in fairy tales to beliefs in general. I’m also okay with saying ‘we don’t know’ when we in fact don’t know. It’s total hypocrisy to suggest that atheist think they have the answers, when it’s theist who claim to understand the purpose and origins of existence.

    “As to taking my moral cues from the Bible as interpreted by my religious teachers, I’m ok with that. ”

    But you didn’t answer my question – what does the bible say about abortion? I genuinely don’t know the answer to that, but if it says nothing then clearly you got your opinion from somewhere else.

    ” I believe that people who live according to a moral code which is based on religion are good people whose rights to believe in the sanctity of life should be respected.”

    It is, just not over and above the rights of everyone else not to have your religion determine their rights.

    ” Religious people think that fetuses at a certain stage of development have the right to live. The other side thinks they don’t have that right with, in my opinion, not a shred of scientific evidence to support their position.”

    Another straw man. I have not stated my position regarding abortion, and faith or lack thereof is not the sole determinant of one’s view on this topic. I actually agree, more or less, with your position as stated – if the foetus is viable, the mother would be wrong to abort except under certain circumstances, such as the child being severely and profoundly disabled, or danger to her own health from carrying to term. If the child is unwanted at this stage it could be carried to term but given up for adoption.

    ” And the bottom line is, even if you don’t have an opinion either way, wouldn’t you say that erring on the side of NOT killing a live being is ultimately the less harmful and more human alternative? Wouldn’t you?”

    Yes, I would.

  358. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 4:20 am

    I want to slightly restate my position on abortion – if it could be demonstrated that the foetus has no sentience then I think abortion is okay. This is delineation, in my view.

  359. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 4:23 am

    And, when Joe said “viable”, I took it to mean that it could survive outside the womb. I get the feeling I may have just agreed with something I misunderstood.

  360. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 9:24 am

    Joe,

    “As to taking my moral cues from the Bible as interpreted by my religious teachers, I’m ok with that. I consider myself a moral person, in part or in whole based upon my religious education. I believe that people who live according to a moral code which is based on religion are good people whose rights to believe in the sanctity of life should be respected.”

    So you follow the moral code laid down in, say, Leviticus? Would you stone your wife to death if she cheated on you, kill your children for being disrespectful? Do you think you get your sense of empathy from your religion (hint: you don’t), your sense of fairness and reciprocity? How is it do you suppose that most atheists within a given (western, at least) society share most of the same values as the religious within that society (excluding the extremes, of course)? Do you then discount the evolutionary explanation for reciprocal altruism? What about the moral decision making exhibited by other primate species?

    ” I think belief in a God is rational, and you don’t.”

    How is it rational? If you want to place any particular belief at the centre of your morality, you should be able to demonstrate that that belief is valid, otherwise everything that stems from the core premise is fruit of the poisoned tree.

    If it were rational to be a Christian, for example, then we would not expect to find evidence of evolution, or of an ancient earth and even more ancient universe. Studies on intercessory prayer would yield consistently positive results. The effects of Christianity being factually correct would be obvious, I would argue.

  361. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 9:43 am

    Mlema,

    I would not characterise a person as wholly irrational for either being religions or believing in god, but I would characterise the belief itself as irrational. But depending on how central to a person’s behaviour their religious convictions are, then I’d characterise them as them as either more or less rational overall. For example, somebody who believes that the rapture is imminent, to the extent they give away all their money and possessions, is clearly not behaving rationally.

    I would say it’s rational to try to ensure that as many of your beliefs as possible or true, and the less you try to do this, the less rational you are.

    I can see how people, without being raised religious, will intuit their way to a deist position–it just seems incredibly far fetched that we’re the result of unguided natural processes, and the the universe popped into existence from nothing (I do understand that this is not the current scientific thinking on the issue, by the way), but religion seems to me to be so full of holes and obvious contradictions and factual inaccuracies that in order to believe it you would have to completely suspend any critical thinking on the issue.

    For clarity, I am not a deist, but I used to be somewhere close to one. Having spent quite a while (too long probably) trying to find some evidence to back up this position, I’m now a strong atheist.

  362. sonicon 24 May 2014 at 9:46 am

    steve12-
    You are ranting.
    I’m a bit concerned about your blood pressure.

    I will throw all caution to the wind and offer this as a different perspective-
    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory165.html
    (Teaser–turns out there is a libertarian in congress…)

    the devils gummy bear-
    suddenly the moon is under the cow.
    But did the cow jump over the moon?

    As he sipped his morning coffee the president wondered–
    Is that itch really hemoroids?

    All will be revealed on the night when the sixth moon spins in the opposite direction.

  363. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 11:54 am

    Mumadadd: I have a Catholic education. Catholic teaching is that abortion is murder. I don’t spend any time at all trying to interpret Leviticus.

    It’s not clear to me what “atheists” think about when a living fetus has the right not to be killed. I get my belief from my Catholic education. Where would atheists get their opinions about this issue? It’s not a scientific question after all.

    This is hard to phrase into a question so bear with me. I, as a religious person, believe that the fetus at some point has the right to not be killed. There are those who say that I should not “impose” my religious views on others by, for example, legislating when abortion is permissible. But what if non-religious people reached the same conclusion philosophically about when the fetus attained the right not to be killed? Would this non-religious person be entitled to take part in the writing of legislation to reflect this? Was that clear?

    Not gonna argue about the existence of God. Really.

  364. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 11:57 am

    BJ7: So where’s your answer to how YOU determine when a human life has the right not be killed? What criterion would you use to “constrain” the “right” of a woman to abort?

  365. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Joe,

    What if I, and a bunch of other people believe that life on earth was created by little green men from mars, and base our moral system on their teaching. We demand that the state not use our tax dollars to fund anything that contravenes these morals. Is it fair to question the existence of these little green men?

    That’s the central question for me here. Why should we give credence to the values of a belief system when the core premise of the belief system has not been demonstrated to be true?

    I advocate a secular morality because it does not need to be contingent on facts , true or false, external to the system. All it needs is a set of defined goals, like increase the well being of as many as possible while maintaining individual liberty as far as possible, and some way of quantifying how successful it is in attaining these goals.

    Regarding your question, like I said before, secular values align with those of the religious much of the time, largely due to the fact that we live in a pluralistic society, and the culture, I think, has more effect in determining moral values than faith. A person could reason philosophically to an incorrect conclusion – it depends on their values. But without a black and white ‘taking a human life is always wrong’, we can start to think about when a foetus becomes a human being – when does it have any consciousness, when does it feel pain, when does it feel emotions? All of this can be informed by science and inform how we apply our value judgments.

  366. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Mumadadd: “What if I, and a bunch of other people believe that life on earth was created by little green men from mars, and base our moral system on their teaching. We demand that the state not use our tax dollars to fund anything that contravenes these morals. Is it fair to question the existence of these little green men?”

    I don’t think that’s a reasonable question. What is the goal in questioning the premise of another’s belief system? Is it to assign value to the beliefs? Is what you’re saying in effect that if people believe in God — let’s keep it off the Mars thing — and determine their moral values as a result of this belief, it’s reasonable for you to question their premise and therefore question their values? I don’t get that.

    “Why should we give credence to the values of a belief system when the core premise of the belief system has not been demonstrated to be true?” It’s not up to you to “give credence” to another’s values. Why would you think that you have the right to judge another’s values? And why would you think that it is “not demonstrated to be true” that the core premise is correct? You are convinced there is no God and others are just as convinced there is a God. Do you think we should have a debate and a vote on which argument is more convincing, like that idiotic debate on the afterlife?

    The government system in the US acknowledges that people have the right to practice their religion. There is nothing at all in the system of government that says that if you can “prove” them wrong and “prove” that the foundation for their religion and beliefs is wrong, they lose those rights. It’s meant to allow people to believe what they want to believe and to practice according to those beliefs without government intrusion.

    “But without a black and white ‘taking a human life is always wrong’, we can start to think about when a foetus becomes a human being – when does it have any consciousness, when does it feel pain, when does it feel emotions? All of this can be informed by science and inform how we apply our value judgments.” I’m not sure what you are saying about what the harm is in saying “taking a human life is always wrong.”

    Once we establish philosophically what we mean by a “human life” then we are bound to make moral judgments in regards to how that human life is treated. Science has some role in determining certain facts about whether a fetus is conscious, or feels pain, or feels emotions. But then you still have take those facts and apply them morally and philosophically to conclude whether or not the fetus then has a right not to be killed, and whether or not that right supersedes the woman’s alleged right to kill it. And that is not at all a scientific decision.

    And the important aspect from a religious point of view is that even if you got scientific agreement on the timeline of consciousness or pain or emotion, would these parameters be what you use to define a human being and give it rights? Is that all there is to giving a fetus the right not to be killed, does it move consciously when you pinch it or does it react to loud music? A religious person would say there is more.

  367. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Joe,

    Will respond tomorrow. Few too many beers today…

  368. BillyJoe7on 24 May 2014 at 4:48 pm

    DrJoe,

    “BJ7: So where’s your answer to how YOU determine when a human life has the right not be killed? What criterion would you use to “constrain” the “right” of a woman to abort”

    Well, I’m still trying to nail you down.

    If the law followed your “gut feel” that a foetus with a beating heart should not be aborted, that would mean that two thirds of women who now legally have abortions, would not be able to have them.
    Do you agree?
    Should these women’s freedom be constrained by your “gut feel”?

    I will give my answer.

  369. BillyJoe7on 24 May 2014 at 5:08 pm

    “suddenly the moon is under the cow.
    But did the cow jump over the moon?”

    No, he’s straddling the bloody thing.

    “As he sipped his morning coffee the president wondered–
    Is that itch really hemoroids?”

    Or is it really his haemorrhoids?

    “All will be revealed on the night when the sixth moon spins in the opposite direction”

    And revolves around uranus.
    (Note: different pronunciation of that last word for speakers of real English)

  370. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 6:15 pm

    BJ7: If the law were following my philosophical and religious belief system — which it is not — then there would be no abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy when the embryo is now called a “fetus”. So half the abortions done now would not be done.

    http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

    I know that the law is what it is and allows abortions past 8 weeks. As long as I am not forced to be complicit in it, that’s all I can have right now. As I have said many times, I’m not trying to force my values on women who think otherwise. They have the right to an abortion.

    Your turn. On what basis do YOU decide when if ever a fetus has the right not to have its life terminated?

  371. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Joe,

    When you say complicit, what do you mean? No tax funded abortions? Tell me if I’m misrepresenting you.

  372. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Balls. Retracted. Pretty sure you already said as much. But you can’t isolate your tax dollars, Joe. Women have the right to abort, everyone has the right to freedom of religion, everyone has the right to freedom from religion.

  373. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Mumadadd: So what do you do then? Well, in the US, what was done was that Congress passed a law that said that Medicaid, the government-run health insurance for the poor and disabled, would not be used to pay for abortions. In addition, Catholic organizations which provide health insurance for their employees do not have to include abortion as one of the benefits. That isolates, in a way, the religious from having to be complicit in abortion.

    Again, I think there has to be a distinction between a “right” and an “entitlement.” Women have the right to get an abortion. (I wish they wouldn’t take advantage of that right.) They do not have the right to have it paid for by someone else or by the government. Obviously, employees of Catholic organizations have the right to an abortion, but their insurance as provided by their employer will not pay for it. There’s a Supreme Court case now where a private employer refused on religious grounds to buy his employees health insurance that contained a provision for abortion. Now the Court has to decide whether a religious individual has that right. Good question.

    It’s a tough battle to keep the government out of the abortion business when so many female politicians scream that a vote against abortion or a speech against abortion is a vote against “women’s rights.” Even some prominent Catholic women politicians are pro abortion. They chose their political position over their religion, but it seems to work for them other than not being permitted to partake in the sacraments of the Church.

  374. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 8:20 pm

    But if they repented they’d still get to spend eternity in heaven, right? So who cares? All beliefs are equal. It doesn’t matter if the central pole that holds up your tent is made of smoke, the tent still stands….

  375. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 8:24 pm

    That’s my issue with you, Joe. Not your values, but where you think they come from. They are society’s values, slightly corrupted by a house of cards.

  376. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Mumadadd: Why do you care where my values come from if I don’t care where yours come from?

  377. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 8:35 pm

    You don’t care where my values come from? By the way, many of our values come from exactly the same place – biology, society. What I meant was that you don’t correctly attribute your values if you think they come from religion. You don’t endorse slavery and I’m pretty sure you would not advocate the stoning to death of adulterers.

  378. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Joe, seriously, if my values come from a ufo, end of world cult, are they equal to yours?

  379. grabulaon 24 May 2014 at 8:46 pm

    “Well, in the US, what was done was that Congress passed a law that said that Medicaid, the government-run health insurance for the poor and disabled, would not be used to pay for abortions”

    So liberties denied thanks to religion, thanks.

    “Catholic organizations which provide health insurance for their employees do not have to include abortion as one of the benefits. ”

    great, than leave the rest of us alone?

  380. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 8:49 pm

    But I do admit it’s a complicated proposition to fairly represent a religious majority without bringing the religion into legislation.

  381. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Mumadadd: “What I meant was that you don’t correctly attribute your values if you think they come from religion.” I don’t get this. Are you saying that you think it actually makes a difference where our values come from? UFO or end of world cult or atheism? What difference does it make? What makes a difference is whether you are you a good person. What kind of Christian would I be if I said I didn’t respect your values because you are Jewish or an atheist or Australian?

    My religion does not advocate slavery or the stoning of adulterers.

    Grabula: No liberties denied. The women still have the right to an abortion and I have the right not to pay for it. Rights preserved. Everyone goes home happy except the dead fetus. Thanks for that.

  382. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 9:52 pm

    “My religion does not advocate slavery or the stoning of adulterers.”

    Joe, yes it does; the bible says so. If you don’t base your religion on the bible, then what is the significance of the bible?

    What you’re really talking about is a set of conservative beliefs, which you attribute to your religion, but are actually just values formed between common descent, being part of a social, intelligent species and social norms.

  383. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 9:53 pm

    “My religion does not advocate slavery or the stoning of adulterers.”

    Joe, yes it does; the bible says so. If you don’t base your religion on the bible, then what is the significance of the bible?

    What you’re really talking about is a set of conservative beliefs, which you attribute to your religion, but are actually just values formed between common descent, being part of a social, intelligent species and social norms.

  384. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 10:08 pm

    “Are you saying that you think it actually makes a difference where our values come from? UFO or end of world cult or atheism? What difference does it make?”

    Well, yes and no. You said your values are derived from your faith, I say they aren’t. But if they were, of course it would make a difference; your faith is based on a 2000 year old book, reflective of bronze age ideals; ufos are similarly stupid. Atheism is not a belief system, but simply and only the rejection of claims that a god/gods exist. No value judgements necessarily follow.

  385. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Mumadadd: My religion is Catholic. Really, Catholics don’t advocate slavery or stoning.

    My values are in the main derived from my Catholic education which is based on the Gospels in the Bible. The Jewish religion is even older and is not based on the Bible. The Romans were also religious as were the Greeks and Mesopotamians and in fact every major civilization the world has ever known, all without a Bible. Would you discount these religions also? Can you point out any major civilization which has ever existed which had as its moral basis the “rejection of claims that a god/gods exist”?

    I agree that atheism infers no value judgments. It is simply disbelief. Tough to hang your hat on that, isn’t it? The absence of something?

  386. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 10:39 pm

    “Tough to hang your hat on that, isn’t it? The absence of something?”

    No, Joe. I have everything else that is demonstrably true to hang my hat on. Your God is not in my outlook, probably because I wasn’t indoctrinated into your religion.

    Okay, you pick and choose which bits of the bible you incorporate into your moral system. Somehow they happen to be the parts that most closely align with the wider society’s values. Spooky coincidence….

  387. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 10:44 pm

    You could have said that atheist values align with Christian values because we live in a society built upon Christian values, but you didn’t. I was a bit worried about your potential counter when I took the conversation down this road, but I need not have been concerned.

    Logic? What logic?

  388. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 10:59 pm

    My values are in the main derived from my Catholic education which is based on the Gospels in the Bible. The Jewish religion is even older and is not based on the Bible. The Romans were also religious as “were the Greeks and Mesopotamians and in fact every major civilization the world has ever known, all without a Bible. Would you discount these religions also? Can you point out any major civilization which has ever existed which had as its moral basis the “rejection of claims that a god/gods exist”?”

    Name that logical fallacy…. This is in the order of the questions that you have to call a premium number to answer.

  389. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 11:01 pm

    “My values are in the main derived from my Catholic education which is based on the Gospels in the Bible. The Jewish religion is even older and is not based on the Bible. The Romans were also religious as “were the Greeks and Mesopotamians and in fact every major civilization the world has ever known, all without a Bible. Would you discount these religions also? Can you point out any major civilization which has ever existed which had as its moral basis the “rejection of claims that a god/gods exist”?”

    Name that logical fallacy…. This is in the order of the questions that you have to call a premium number to answer.

  390. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Mumadadd: “Okay, you pick and choose which bits of the bible you incorporate into your moral system. Somehow they happen to be the parts that most closely align with the wider society’s values. Spooky coincidence….”

    Uh, it’s the Catholic religion that is based on the Gospels. Now are you going to criticize the Catholic religion for “picking and choosing”?

    I think it happens that the “wider society’s values” are Christian. Any point there? Do you think you are not influenced by those values all around you?

    See, but it’s ok with me that you have everything else but religion to hang your hat on. You have the atom and physics and biology and all those sciences which have nothing at all to do with “values.” I have those things also plus religion which is the source of my values. Sort of the best of both worlds.

  391. mumadaddon 24 May 2014 at 11:09 pm

    No it isn’t, Joe. You just think it is. Anyway, it’s 4am here, time for bed.

  392. DrJoeinCAon 24 May 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Mumadadd: Do you think it’s coincidental that all the great civilizations in the history of the world, all the civilizations which were foundations of all the science and arts that we know today, were religious? Do you think that the fact that all the great civilizations were religious held them back from their contributions to mankind? Do you think that it has any meaning, this religiosity of all the great civilizations, or is it sort of an incidental thing that they had to overcome to become great civilizations?

    I’m not saying that religion necessarily contributed to their societies and civilizations. Though perhaps it did by giving them a common agreement on certain aspects of interaction with their fellow citizens. A worthy goal in itself I believe.

  393. grabulaon 24 May 2014 at 11:34 pm

    “Do you think that the fact that all the great civilizations were religious held them back from their contributions to mankind?”

    You mean like the dark ages in Europe? The Inquisition and how much it advanced civilization? How about the current state of Islam?

    It’s too easy Joe, even when you’re ignoring the hard questions.

  394. BillyJoe7on 24 May 2014 at 11:56 pm

    DrJoe,

    “Your turn. On what basis do YOU decide when if ever a fetus has the right not to have its life terminated?”

    I still haven’t nailed you down.

    You said 8 weeks
    One of the reasons you gave for going with 8 weeks was that the heart starts beating at 8 weeks.
    Wrong.
    The heart starts beating at 6 weeks.
    So why are you refusing to come down to 6 weeks?
    I need an answer to this question.
    I need a sensible reason for going with 8 weeks instead of 6 weeks.

    Bonus question:
    Your catholic religion says no abortions. Period. Under any circumstances.
    Are you not a good catholic, or has the catholic hierarchy changed its mind again?

    My answer is coming.

  395. DrJoeinCAon 25 May 2014 at 2:10 am

    BJ7: Because it is now a fetus instead of an embryo.

    “The use of the term “fetus” generally implies that a mammalian embryo has developed to the point of being recognizable as belonging to its own species, and this is usually taken to be the 9th week after fertilization. A fetus is also characterized by the presence of all the major body organs, though they will not yet be fully developed and functional, and may not all be situated in their final anatomical location.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetus

    “The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus, since it holds that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_abortion

    “Many, or in some countries most, Catholics disagree with the official position of the Catholic Church, which opposes abortion and its legality; with views ranging from allowing exceptions in a generally pro-life position to acceptance of complete legality of abortion and the morality of abortion.”

    Lemme know when you figure out what you think.

    Grabula: No, I mean like Rome and Greece and Mesopotamia and ALL the rest. You know, the great civilizations that contributed art, science, literature, philosophy to the world. All religious and despite that made significant contributions to the world. Go figure.

  396. grabulaon 25 May 2014 at 2:54 am

    @Joe

    You mean Rome who’s religious concepts were so fluid they could bring in new gods just to entice other cultures to join the empire? Or Maybe Greece – pick your city state – who’s religion led them to do irrational things based on what time of year it was.

    I got it, The Aztecs, or Mayans? I mean, what’s a little human sacrifice to get around if you’re going to be a great, religiously led culture.

    Contributions to the world? Like a round earth? Maybe a heliocentric solar system? Who fought against those ideas? Galileo, Bruno. Buckland, Sedgewick? Abdus Salam anyone?

    All men trying to do great things for their society and attacked by who/what?

    No Joe, I think human beings have continued to make great contributions to civilization despite existing religions. Imagine what a world we’d live in if they hadn’t had to fight for their lives against irrational thinkers.

  397. BillyJoe7on 25 May 2014 at 3:01 am

    DrJoe,

    Okay, I’m still trying to nail you to your cross. (:

    Is this your position:

    From the point of view of abortion…
    1) It does not matter when the heart beat commences.
    2) What does matter is that it looks externally and internally like it belongs to the species.

    Is that correct?

    But I see that you are actually a good catholic.
    We really do need to think for ourselves, don’t we.
    Even a religious person should not blindly follow the edicts of their religion.

    Nearly there.

  398. mumadaddon 25 May 2014 at 9:33 am

    Joe,

    What about monotheistic religions do you think catalyses scientific progress? Yes, I do think it’s a coincidence, or at the very least not causally related. The relative progress of the west compared to the rest of the world, I would imagine, is primarily down to natural resources and trade routes, not religion.

    Even if you could demonstrate that religion did somehow create an environment in which science could flourish, that would not mean that we need it now or that is gains any truth points.

    At one point it might have been rational be religious, but science has steadily eroded the central premises of religion.

    Society does not need religion to be moral. You do not need religion to be moral; at least I hope you aren’t one of those people that can’t keep your behaviour in check without an eternal reward or punishment in play.

  399. DrJoeinCAon 25 May 2014 at 11:27 am

    Mumadadd: What I’m saying is that a religious society or a society in which belief in God or gods is widespread or even a part of the state still flourishes. It is capable of advancement, scientific discoveries, curiosity, and all the other good things. There are those on this blog who think that religion or being religious is antithetical all those things, some who even think that people who hold those beliefs should not take part in decisions that the government makes and should be isolated in some way because they call on their religious beliefs to guide their behavior.

    I’m not saying that the religious component of a society is causally related to its success, but I am saying that it doesn’t restrict it. Which is what we started with long long ago. I’m also not saying that it’s necessary for an individual or a society to be religious in order to be moral.

    Religion is an important part of most societies past and present. We have many examples of non-religious societies that are pathological, and we have examples of theocratic societies which are the same. The West and the US are neither non-religious nor pathological nor theocratic.

    Live and let live, you know?

  400. DrJoeinCAon 25 May 2014 at 11:43 am

    Grabula: No, I mean societies in which the majority believed in God and practiced religion and which contributed mathematics, medicine, science, literature, art, philosophy to civilization. Come on, don’t be dense.

    You can continue to hang yourself on the Middle Ages and the Inquisition if you want. You could also move into the last century and consider anti-religious societies such as China, Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia which were notably uncivilized and contributed nothing to civilization. If religion is the bad thing and restricts the free exchange of ideas and the advancement of civilization, then look at societies that have removed religion and see how they have fared.

    BJ7: Your turn. I stated my position more than enough.

  401. BillyJoe7on 25 May 2014 at 6:10 pm

    DrJoe,

    “BJ7: Your turn. I stated my position more than enough”

    Not really.

    You are avoiding thinking about it in sufficient depth.
    You have proclaimed that 8 weeks is the cutoff point for you, but you have not explained why.
    You have quoted things you’ve found on the internet as to why 8 weeks should be the cutoff point but you are not even prepared to confirm that this is the reason YOU chose that cutoff point.
    You’ve neither chosen what the catholic hierachy tells you (no abortion under any circumstances – which would make you a BAD catholic in their eyes) nor the presently accepted legal cutoff point. You’ve chosen something in between with very little reason to do so.

    Why does FORM matter to you?
    At 8 weeks the foetus’ external and internal appearance LOOK like that of the species.
    Why is that important?
    Because it’s starting to LOOK human?
    That sounds like an emotional reaction to me.

    Why not function?
    The heart is functioning at 6 weeks.
    Isn’t a functioning heart at 6 weeks more important factor than a liver beginning to form at 8 weeks?
    But, in your view, a foetus/embryo with a beating heart can be aborted until it reaches 8 weeks.
    That sounds like a pretty cold hearted reaction to me.

    I think you will not answer the above questions because you cannot.
    Regardless I will give my answer in my next post.
    Then you can blast away at my answer and forget about the cognitive dissonance I have caused you with my irritating and unanswerable questions.

  402. DrJoeinCAon 25 May 2014 at 8:18 pm

    BJ7: If you have nothing to say, why not just be still?

    There is no “presently accepted legal cutoff point.” Why are you making stuff up?

    The fetus is the stage at which all or most of the organs are functioning. This stage is differentiated from the embryonic stage. I do not accept the “conception” point as defining when an embryo can be aborted because I don’t think that the embryo resembles a person. At 8 weeks, when most or all of the organs are developing and when what is now a fetus resembles a person, that’s where I draw the line.

    I don’t know when there is a soul present or when the being attains personhood, but 8 weeks is good starting point since this is when the being changes into another form medically. Could be 6, could be 10, but I’m calling 8. And you?

  403. grabulaon 26 May 2014 at 4:45 am

    @Joe

    ” Do you think it’s coincidental that all the great civilizations in the history of the world, all the civilizations which were foundations of all the science and arts that we know today, were religious?”

    ” No, I mean societies in which the majority believed in God and practiced religion and which contributed mathematics, medicine, science, literature, art, philosophy to civilization. Come on, don’t be dense.”

    That’s mighty white of you Joe

  404. Bruceon 26 May 2014 at 5:18 am

    ” Do you think it’s coincidental that all the great civilizations in the history of the world, all the civilizations which were foundations of all the science and arts that we know today, were religious?”

    ” No, I mean societies in which the majority believed in God and practiced religion and which contributed mathematics, medicine, science, literature, art, philosophy to civilization. Come on, don’t be dense.”

    “If religion is the bad thing and restricts the free exchange of ideas and the advancement of civilization, then look at societies that have removed religion and see how they have fared. ”

    I love reading comments like this from people who obviously have no working knowledge of how the world works outside of their own little first world bubble. I would suggest doing some research into where religion is currently strongest compared to your measures for “civilisation”. I think you might be surprised and will possibly stop making such stupid claims.

  405. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:06 am

    DrJoe,

    “There is no “presently accepted legal cutoff point.” Why are you making stuff up?”

    You’re probably quibbling about my use of the word “legal”.
    Perhaps I should have used the word “restrictions”.
    There certainly are goverment restrictions on late term abortions:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_PLTA.pdf

    “41 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. 21 states impose prohibitions at fetal viability. 3 states impose prohibitions in the third trimester.17 states impose prohibitions after a certain number of weeks; 9 of these states ban abortion at 20 weeks”

    In any case that was completely beside my point, which was…

  406. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:10 am

    There should be another post here, but it contained too many links and is held up in moderation.
    It should appear evntually.

  407. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:10 am

    continued….

    My criteria would not be form, but FUNCTION.
    Not the function of the heart, of course, but the function of the brain.
    The brain circuits and connections necessary for consciousness are in place by 24 to 28 weeks, which is about the same time survival outside the womb is possible.
    (Though capable of consciousness at 24 weeks, the foetus is not actually conscious until delivery)

    So lets put the cut off mark at 24 weeks at this point.

    But we have not yet considered the pregnant woman:

    Before 24 weeks, the pregnant woman’s rights should be the only concern, because the foetus is not conscious, is not capable of consciousness, cannot have experiences and memories, and is not capable of survival outside the womb. It has none of the attributes of personhood and therefore should can no rights.

    After 24 weeks, the rights of the pregnant woman should be balanced against that of the foetus.
    The decisions in these cases should be determined on an individual case by case basis between the pregnant woman and her treating medical practitioners, taking into account the woman’s medical, physical, psychological and social circumstances, and the fact that the foetus, although not conscious, is now at least capable of consciousness and survival outside the womb.

  408. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:23 am

    (DrJoe, here is the missing post split up to avoid being held up in moderation…)

    It seems your cut off point is when the foetus looks like a member of the species.

    At 6 weeks it does not look like a member of the species…
    http://3dpregnancy.parentsconnect.com/calendar/6-weeks-pregnant/

  409. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:26 am

    The next bit…

    And if you compare embryos of different species, many look remarkably alike.
    http://www.geology.ohio-state.edu/~vonfrese/gs100/lect32/

    But each to his own criteria.

  410. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 9:32 am

    WHAT A MESS!
    I give up.
    I will never post a link again!

  411. DrJoeinCAon 26 May 2014 at 11:59 am

    BJ7: That’s what we waited for? Your criterion is when “The brain circuits and connections necessary for consciousness are in place”? Now, why on earth would this anatomic situation be the criterion? It is purely anatomic after all, right? There’s no evidence that there is “thought” or consciousness, right?

    So then you have taken my arbitrary criterion and replaced it with your own arbitrary criterion. What a disappointment! Here I thought you had something profound and “scientific” that was going to blow my arbitrary criterion out of the water. But no.

    “Before 24 weeks, the pregnant woman’s rights should be the only concern, because the foetus is not conscious, is not capable of consciousness, cannot have experiences and memories, and is not capable of survival outside the womb. It has none of the attributes of personhood and therefore should can no rights.” But you never explained what the “attributes of personhood” are and why they matter. We know there is no consciousness at this point or, as you say, until actual birth, so eliminate that from your list. “Experiences and memories?” You mean the fetus can process what happens to it while in utero and make “experiences” out of this? Does it do that consciously?

    “Survival outside the womb” is interesting, but the problem with that is that this criterion does not depend on the fetus but instead on the state of medicine. We’re talking about the rights of the unborn here, and those rights should not depend on some outside scientific advancement. If medicine could ever get that down below 24 weeks, this criterion would be shot.

    Well, I’m off the grid for a week. Try to come up with something better.

  412. DrJoeinCAon 26 May 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Grabula, Bruce: Remember the premise long long ago that “faith” is the enemy of doubt, that it is “faith” vs inquiry and intellectual openness, that “faith is the enemy of doubt, and doubt is fairly central to science and critical thinking”?

    And yet there are productive civilizations throughout history which have contributed to science and critical thinking while still maintaining beliefs in God or gods through, in some people’s opinion, “faith.” By the same token, there are civilizations which have eliminated “faith” — the obstacle to doubt and inquiry and intellectual openness — and haven’t done so well civilization-wise.

    Perhaps the existence of “faith” is not that big a deal in society so much so that it actually threatens inquiry and intellectual openness and critical inquiry. Perhaps they can exist side by side and society can still advance. Perhaps people of faith can contribute to societal advancement without being told that they have to “compartmentalize.”

  413. Bruceon 26 May 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Dr Joe,

    Firstly, let’s play “Name that logical Fallacy!”

    Can you spot the one in your little attempt at logic above? It is called appeal to antiquity. Here is a link:

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/appeals/appeal-to-tradition/

    Secondly, as per usual you completely miss the point. We are not saying that faith cannot exist alongside science, we are saying that when faith blatantly contradicts science, especially in matters that cost lives, we need to follow the science.

  414. DrJoeinCAon 26 May 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Bruce: “We are not saying that faith cannot exist alongside science, we are saying that when faith blatantly contradicts science, especially in matters that cost lives, we need to follow the science.” No one arguing with that.

    Appeal to antiquity??? “Appeals to antiquity assume that older ideas are better, that the fact that an idea has been around for a while implies that it is true.” No one, certainly not I, is claiming truth or betterness. What I am claiming is that civilizations which are God-believing can be and frequently are innovative, creative, artistic, and literate, that there is no deal-breaking conflict between “faith” and any of the attributes of an advanced civilization. Historically, they have co-existed successfully. As I stated long ago, reason is not incompatible with faith.

  415. Bruceon 26 May 2014 at 4:00 pm

    “Historically, they have co-existed successfully”

    I think you are quite wrong there and that there has always been a tension and many would argue that religion held back science and advancement for a very long time… but as you seem to be an expert on history as well as everything else you ever talk about I am not going to pursue this point anymore.

    And I quote myself here:

    “Secondly, as per usual you completely miss the point. We are not saying that faith cannot exist alongside science, we are saying that when faith blatantly contradicts science, especially in matters that cost lives, we need to follow the science.”

  416. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 4:50 pm

    DrJoe,

    You’ve shown yourself to be a totally dishonest person.
    I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything different from a person of faith who needs to cling on to his faith (or his own version of it) no matter what.
    Here’s your dishonesty:

    “Your criterion is when “The brain circuits and connections necessary for consciousness are in place”? Now, why on earth would this anatomic situation be the criterion? It is purely anatomic after all, right? There’s no evidence that there is “thought” or consciousness, right?”

    But I explained that in the very same post:
    “After 24 weeks….the foetus, although not conscious, is now at least capable of consciousness and survival outside the womb”
    Please address my actual argument.

    “So then you have taken my arbitrary criterion and replaced it with your own arbitrary criterion.”

    I never said your criterion was arbitrary, but thanks for the admission.
    It seems you are capable of accidental honesty at least.

    BJ: “Before 24 weeks, the pregnant woman’s rights should be the only concern, because the foetus is not conscious, is not capable of consciousness, cannot have experiences and memories, and is not capable of survival outside the womb. It has none of the attributes of personhood and therefore should can no rights.”
    DJ: “But you never explained what the “attributes of personhood” are and why they matter”

    It’s in the very same paragraph you quoted: at 24 weeks, the foetus is capable of consciousness, experiences, and memories. Personhood has nothing to do with “looking like a member of the species” and everything to do with being capable of consciousness, experiences, and memories.

    “We know there is no consciousness at this point or, as you say, until actual birth, so eliminate that from your list”

    My criterion was not “consciousness” but “capable of consciousness” combined with “capable of survival outside the womb”. Please do not dishonestly attack your strawman version of my argument.

    ” “Experiences and memories?” You mean the fetus can process what happens to it while in utero and make “experiences” out of this? Does it do that consciously?”

    How dishonest can you get. Quote where exactly I said this. I said no such thing. I said “capable” of having experiences because the brain circuits and connections are in place and survival outside the womb is possible at this stage.

    ““Survival outside the womb” is interesting, but the problem with that is that this criterion does not depend on the fetus but instead on the state of medicine.”

    No, it depends on the state of medicine AND the state of the foetus.

    “We’re talking about the rights of the unborn here, and those rights should not depend on some outside scientific advancement”

    What?
    My criterion is “capable of consciousness” and “capable of survival outside the womb”.
    That necessarily depends on the state of scientific advancement.
    Explain why this is not important.

    “If medicine could ever get that down below 24 weeks, this criterion would be shot”

    This criterion would….CHANGE.
    Imagine that!
    My criterion would change.

    So thanks for misquoting me, misrepresenting what I said, failing to address my actual argument, and failing to address my criticisms of your argument.

  417. BillyJoe7on 26 May 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Forgot this bit…

    “Try to come up with something better”

    Function IS better than form.

    Ball in your court…
    Try to come up with something better than brain function as a criterion for personhood, and something better than the onset of personhood as a criterion for when the rights of the foetus begins.
    Good luck with that.

  418. DrJoeinCAon 26 May 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Bruce: And I agreed with your statement. Yeah, one could argue anything without proving it, huh?

    BJ7: Why on earth is “capability of consciousness”, which as you say is ONLY AT BIRTH, now a criterion for personhood? What does that even mean? That the fetus is closer to being able to be conscious than it was 10 weeks earlier? You’re reaching here.

    Let me define capability for you: “The quality of being capable; ability. 2. A talent or ability that has potential for development or use.” Does the fetus have the ability to be conscious? No. Does it have a talent or ability that has potential for development? Yes. As it had 16 weeks earlier.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/capability

    My criterion is arbitrary as is yours.

    Regarding experiences and memories: “Before 24 weeks, the pregnant woman’s rights should be the only concern, because the foetus is not conscious, is not capable of consciousness, cannot have experiences and memories.” Gee, I guess I thought that you were making a distinction between “before” 24 weeks and “after.”

    You say you are concerned with “function” rather than “form.” But then you say “My criteria would not be form, but FUNCTION. Not the function of the heart, of course, but the function of the brain. The brain circuits and connections necessary for consciousness are in place by 24 to 28 weeks, which is about the same time survival outside the womb is possible.”

    In other words, the “form” of brain circuits and connections are in place. Not the function of consciousness or experience or memories, but the form. So which is it that you are more concerned with, the form or the function? Which “functions” are there that you are hanging your hat on?

    Finally, we get to it. “My criterion is “capable of consciousness” and “capable of survival outside the womb”. That necessarily depends on the state of scientific advancement. Explain why this is not important.”

    We already disposed of the “capable of consciousness” criterion. The fetus is NOT capable of consciousness until birth. It is not possible for the circuits in place to be activated until birth so there is no capability at 24 weeks. There is a potential for consciousness as there was 10 weeks or more earlier.

    As to the importance of “survival outside the womb,” we are dealing with the question of what are the rights of the fetus vs the rights of the woman. If you are saying that these “rights” depend on what the state of neonatal medicine is, then these are not rights at all. Either the fetus has rights BECAUSE of what it is and the woman has rights BECAUSE it’s her body, or not. These rights do not in any way depend on neonatal medicine. Don’t you see that?

    If neonatal medicine got to the point where the fetus could be kept alive at 8 weeks, then are you saying that it would then have the right to life and the woman would not have the right to kill it?

  419. grabulaon 26 May 2014 at 11:58 pm

    @Joe

    “And yet there are productive civilizations throughout history which have contributed to science and critical thinking while still maintaining beliefs in God or gods through, in some people’s opinion, “faith.” By the same token, there are civilizations which have eliminated “faith” — the obstacle to doubt and inquiry and intellectual openness — and haven’t done so well civilization-wise. ”

    Which moment in time would you like to cherry pick Joe, go for it, and I’ll cherry pick a dozen more to refute this ridiculous stance. I’ve already pointed out how Christianity has fought against reason tooth and nail. Need more recent examples since historical examples are good enough for your points but not ours? How about the anti-science BS going on this country RIGHT NOW thanks to christian fundamentalism? How about YOUR faith in woo even when the evidence is stacked against you?

    Faith has done nothing but provide a brief security blanket for the unwashed masses provide excuses for war, reasons to mutilate women and children and overall, has had a pretty bad showing of itself throughout history.

    Juking and Dodging Joe and making a bigger fool of yourself with each post.

  420. BillyJoe7on 27 May 2014 at 1:01 am

    DrJoe,

    You sound like an empty vessel emitting sound.
    Nothing I say seems to get inside your skull and nothing but noise comes out.

    You are continually stating that I have said things that i have not said.

    This what you claim I said:
    “If neonatal medicine got to the point where the fetus could be kept alive at 8 weeks, then are you saying that it would then have the right to life and the woman would not have the right to kill it?”

    This is what I actually said:
    “…the rights of the pregnant woman should be balanced against that of the foetus”

    This what you claim I said:
    ““capability of consciousness”, which as you say is ONLY AT BIRTH”

    This is what I actually said:
    “Though capable of consciousness at 24 weeks, the foetus is not actually conscious until delivery”

    ——————————————-

    “Does the fetus have the ability to be conscious? No.”

    Yes, the foetus does have the ability to be conscious at 24-28 weeks, but it has to be born to actually be conscious, whether that be at 24 weeks, or at term, or anywhere inbetween.

    ” Gee, I guess I thought that you were making a distinction between “before” 24 weeks and “after.””

    I was. Please read that paragraph again. Properly this time so you actually understand.

    “In other words, the “form” of brain circuits and connections are in place. Not the function of consciousness or experience or memories, but the form. So which is it that you are more concerned with, the form or the function?”

    WTF?
    By “form” you were referring to the appearance of the foetus (the foetus looks like a member of the species at 8 weeks). Here you are using “form” to mean the circuits and connections in the brain. Do you know the name of that logical fallacy?
    And, no, the so-called “form” youi are referring to here correlates with the ability to be conscious, which is a…function!

    “The fetus is NOT capable of consciousness until birth.”

    Correct…but only if born after the 24-28th week.

    “It is not possible for the circuits in place to be activated until birth so there is no capability at 24 weeks”

    Correct…unless it is born at 24 weeks.

    “There is a potential for consciousness as there was 10 weeks or more earlier”

    False…a foetus “born” at 10 weeks will not be conscious.

    “These rights do not in any way depend on neonatal medicine. Don’t you see that? ”

    Rights are meaningless unless there is a means of having these rights realised. Don’t you see THAT?

  421. Bruceon 27 May 2014 at 2:46 am

    “Bruce: And I agreed with your statement. Yeah, one could argue anything without proving it, huh?”

    You are seriously not for real…

    Go away, and please, never speak to me again.

  422. the devils gummy bearon 01 Jun 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Back to Steve’s OP… Oh boy… I could talk for days on end on the very peculiar brand of Mormon institutional inoculation to doubt and critical thinking… I am from (and currently reside) in the Morridor (the vast geographic corridor of Mormon influence that spans the length of I-15 from Southern Idaho down all the way to Vegas. Also, play on Mordor, for cultural reasons, and also because SLC actually looks like Mordor in the winter).

    None of my background really matters, not that it’s relevant. My mum managed to smuggle us out of the state before the paternal family could indoctrinate us, and so I’ve always been something of an outside observer with my family and their culture. Never was baptised, never was a member, but grew up with one foot in it. I spent a good portion of my life beating my head against a wall as my dad browbeat the living crap out of the most confoundingly impossibly idiotic notions…

    Pretty much any input I have on the matter is already covered in the reddit steve mentioned:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/skeptic/comments/25nz2j/the_mormon_church_published_an_article/

    I am, however, still compelled to share a few thoughts, as my personal journey began in the Morridor, trying to understand “my” Mormons, which basically began a process that led me to the SGU in 2005, with a brief stop over at Phil Plait’s original Bad Astronomy site, and a rediscovery of Sagan’s Cosmos.

    I have been fascinated by the Mormon apparatuses and machineries for quelling doubt and gumming up the works of the inherent critical thinking present in most functioning people. It is essentially thoughtcrime… Doubt. Members are basically told that if they harbor even the slightest doubts about their “testimonies” or the Church’s teachings, then there is something extremely disordered and wrong with them as a person. Tainted, impure, unclean, wicked. Even a fleeting moment of doubt is enough soil not just oneself for all eternity, but also jeopardize the eternal standing of one’s entire family.

    An incorrect thought won’t just disappoint Heavenly Father, but it will, in the case of child for instance, forever shame/harm/diminish mommy and daddy and brothers and sisters forever and ever in the Celestial Kingdom, and it may actually put the whole family enterprise at risk for all eternity. This high stakes shit begins in Primary sunday school, with preschool aged children.

    If a member maintains niggling doubts, they are taught (this stuff is even distributed in their pamphlets) that they are intentionally betraying Heavenly Father, betraying their families, betraying their communities. There is a palpable amount of extreme anxiety felt by members that they may experience doubt about the teachings of the Church. It is essentially the most egregious crime. It is thoughtcrime, and committing it puts your entire family at risk of being rounded up in a celestial political camp (okay, the analogy isn’t perfect and only stretches so far).

    And of course they still practice disconnection.

    I’ve often heard, from ex-members (including those in my immediate family, three of which are my super-skepty atheist comrades and roommates), that the process of leaving the Church begins with a single crack in the foundation. And it grows. And then there’s a big breaking point, and they blow. It is no wonder why such enormous resources are committed to crushing skepticism and independent thought and inquiry.

    The only thing I find remotely interesting in this David Edwards article in Church Magazines is the bit Steve quoted:

    If you find that a question isn’t that important, set it aside in your mental “To Be Answered Later” file.

    That is, till I read past this and see it is the same old tried and true Mormon mental method of… Well, it’s not really the “To-do later” folder, but the old “Recycle Bin” folder instead… Edwards can call it whatever he wants, but the concept hasn’t changed. Put it down the memory hole and doublethink the fuck out of it till it goes away, or you and everyone you love will be called upon by Miniluv.

  423. the devils gummy bearon 02 Jun 2014 at 3:37 pm

    And when I say Miniluv, I’m not being that hyperbolic.

    Problem members, or “suspect” members, or members that have been reported to be having doubt or improper thoughts or attitudes are put on a watch list. The ward bishop then activates an elaborate network of neighbors and ward members who closely monitor the member’s household, and closely survael the comings and goings. Friends of the member are ordered to “drop by” for informal chats to gather information. Home Teachers step up their visits. The wife/husband of the member is called in for interrogation. The wife/husband of the trouble member is basically told it is their responsibility to correct their spouse’s incorrect thinking, and it is their failure, it is on them that this is happening. If it is a wife that is brought in, the stakes couldn’t be higher, for if she fails to get her husband in line, she will be unable to pass through the Veil without him (her only way to the Celestial Kingdom). The children of the member are likewise interviewed and monitored… Children are used against parents, spouses are used against each other.

    I’m not exaggerating when I say Miniluv will come knocking.

    Sound draconian? Sound Orwellian?

    So where are Mormons supposed to go when they are “struggling with their Testimonies” or have doubts about the teachings of the Church? Or have doubts about Church History? Their bishop.

    These days, Mormons can sneak away with a laptop or something, when no one is looking and read non-Church sanctioned/forbidden information, what we simply refer to as “reality”. And a lot of Mormons have been doing this… For anyone who saw the John Hurt/Radford Nineteen Eighty Four, you get the picture… The scene where Winston Smith holes up in a secret corner, out of sight… And for these curious wayward member, just like Winston Smith, your life and your family depend on keeping your curiosity absolutely, ABSOLUTELY hidden from everyone you know.

    A constant concern for members secretly considering leaving, it is… Well, for anyone who understands disconnection in cults, it’s… In Mormonism, it is uniquely catastrophic.

    Oh, yeah, the extreme anxieties members have about experiencing a doubt or an incorrect though about the Church… Members are drilled to be weary of non-members, and to pretty much not associated with them at all (unofficially). Officially, Mormons are all Stepford Wives Visitors Welcome Everybody’s Welcome Everybody is Happy. But most Church Standards and Practices, and policies, are not transparent to outsiders.

    For almost all in-state (Utah) members or Morridor members, it’s not really an issue (encountering a non member), because Mormons have no time left over in their lives to associate with non members. Minus 4, 6, 8 hours for sleep, every waking moment of every day is taken up by LDS business. Mormons do business almost entirely with other Mormons, or work with other Mormons (there are exceptions in-state, but they are not very common). And all non-work or non-job time is packed tight with Church activities. There is not a single waking moment where an in-state member is not participating in church activities. And with the exception of SLC where the Mormons are actually now the minority population, everywhere else in the Morridor is homogeneously LDS. Even if a member wanted to find a nonmember, it would take quite a bit of effort.

    Out-of-state Mormons live ordinary lives, approaching normality… Interfacing with the real world successfully. In fact, most out-of-state Mormons like it that way, and have chosen to be out of Utah because the culture is too suffocating. So, they’re a different deal. They tend to be pretty okay. All of my LDS friends are out of state.

    The Missionary system is a buddy system. “Elders” travel in pairs and are not allowed to be alone, they cannot let their Missionary companion out of site under (almost) any circumstance. It is a self-policing system to insulate them from the place where they are serving their mission. They monitor each other. They report problems. They actively enforce and coerce each-other’s actions and attitudes and thoughts etc.

    Blah blah blah. Sorry guys, I’m really on one. I’m ranting. The systematic institution(s), its enormity and effectiveness at crushing doubt, intellectual curiosity, the particular ways which critical thinking is subverted… Policing and monitoring, the systematic way they deal with problem members is something that keeps me up at night. It endlessly fascinates me.

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