17th February 2012

“The big difference between science and religion here is that science is a tool focused on assessing the validity of its propositions. Religion has absolutely no way to test any of its ideas, and its proponents seem to like it that way – it gives them free rein to promote imagination over evidence and revelation over experiment.”

P. Z. Myers

17 Responses to “17th February 2012”

  1. Capt'Z Says:

    Science is just another religion, dude. You ‘scientists’ with your ‘evolutionism’ think you know everything.

  2. Xhim Says:

    Religion does have a criteria: changed lives. That’s why you guys – rightly – spend a great deal of effort demonstrating that religionistas are at best no better than anyone else and at worst downright evil. JC himself said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13:35] So those of you who have been abused by people claiming to follow Jesus, he himself grants you the right to call them liars and fakes.

  3. Dan Says:

    “Religion does have a criteria: changed lives.”

    Nonsense. Religion completely ignores all or at least most of the lives damaged. Take history for instance, where religion has been a cause more for oppression than betterment for the majority of written history. One must have a very selective memory indeed to think that religion consistently changes lives for the better!

    And Xhim, you quote John 13:35 – I know a lot of self-professed Christians, but I know of very very few Christians who actually take the meaning of that passage to heart.

  4. Atheist MC Says:

    Religion does have a criteria: changed lives

    I would need to see some empirical data to support that proposition. Christians in particular are very fond of anecdotes to support the reformative power of religion but what may be true for some individuals is not necessarily true for societies as a whole. What data there is suggests that the less religious a society is the healthier it is by many measures.

  5. Xhim Says:

    Dan: That is precisely the problem. Far too few self-professed Christians Christians take that passage to heart. That’s why I am no longer totally comfortable with the term ‘Christian’. What JC did NOT say was “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, by your bumper stickers.’
    AMC: it might be possible to come up with more than anecdotal data, but if you personally have run into so few ‘anecdotes’ then we so-called Christians have already condemned ourselves. And then the data would have no force if you never saw it in action, even if I could find some.

  6. Toto Says:

    Why I am Atheist- Something is not fine with my/many life’s so,where is god to fix it,science has evidence that there is no god to fix yrs/other unfortunate troubled lives,take responsibility & try to fix it by own & other good loved one’s as a community of Atheist/humanist.Please do sign me as friend as I have some good motives if my comments give you a feeling of a large happy,like-minded people.Thankyou.

  7. Capt'Z Says:

    I thought at least one person would flame me for my little joke!

  8. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Dan I’m late to the parade but I liked your joke!

    Hey I’ll bet all the pagans, and witches that were ruthlessly and savegely executed by good Christians would agree with Xhim about their lives being changed.

    JC was a major fan of Deuteronomy so you know he was onbaord with changing lives in this fashion.

    Certainly Xhim is correct “Religion does have a criteria”, the difference is that the validation of science doesn’t require any life altering/ending changes like religion.

    The validation of religion is essentially “beleive this way or die”. Great point Xhim!

  9. Xhim Says:

    Gee, Sinjin, you mock me even when I am agreeing with you!

  10. Edmond Says:

    I’m not sure why “changed lives” is a criteria for the validity of religion. Plenty of people within religion never experience any significant changes. Plenty of people outside religion experience all kinds of change without it. “Changed lives” is neither unique to religion, nor guaranteed by it. All this tells us is that lives CAN change, for a variety of reasons. Some people’s lives are changed by Scientology, or astrology, or Harry Potter, or Star Wars. That doesn’t make those things real.

    And as Dan pointed out, sometimes religion changes lives for the worse. Like anything else, religion can have a wide range of effects on people’s lives, from good to bad to none at all. This does nothing to prove that the narrative of the bible is true.

  11. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Xhim I was doing my level best to agree. Granted it requires a contorted and absurd rationale, and perhaps that is what leads you to think I was mocking you, but at least you recognize my agreement?

    I suppose we can expect anyone to validate or agree with a proposition at the point of a blade or the wrong end of a whip or gun? Remember: A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

    Edmund I like your point.

  12. Dan Says:

    Why does it seem that you’re suggesting that those Christians who don’t take John 13:35 to heart are in fact not Christians? I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way though – I’m sure you agree that they are every bit as Christian as you are – and it just sounds that way. Or I hope so anyway.

  13. Jeff Says:

    Xhim, I’ll give you your criteria, but say that I don’t think very much of it.

    On 9/11/01, a bunch of religious zealots changed the lives of every person on the freakin’ planet, and I don’t think one of them changed for the better. In the west, every citizen lost some freedom, whether it was simply FDR’s Freedom from Fear, or the civil rights given up under the PATRIOT Act, or whatever equivalent was passed in each of the democracies. And now, each and every citizen of the world has to wonder just whom is monitoring their electronic communications, and just what the heck are the monitors going to do with it. How many Iraqis, Afghans, Indonesians, and nobody knows who else are dead because of what those maniacs did, AND our reactions to it?

    So, frankly, Xhim, if this is the measure of RELIGION, then I’ve got to call this a major failure, and strongly suggest that as a system of human thought, it needs replacement.

  14. Xhim Says:

    Dan and Jeff, I think I seriously miscommunicated here, because I forgot that religion to many is a system of thought. If instead of that, Christianity is an allegiance/relationship to a person, then the criteria are quite different. The essence of being a follower of JC is to, well, follow him. If someone calls himself a Christian but does not practice its tenets, then he is “using the Lord’s name in vain. So Dan, if “Christians” ignore John 13:35 – and most of JC’s other teachings – the term becomes meaningless. Sinjin pointed out to me quite emphatically this point in reference to another term, and the point is well taken.
    I can’t even claim to be a good Christian because nobody knows better than I how often I do what I know I should not, say things that hurt people, just generally fail to love like JC requires of me. I someone who takes the name of JC but is patently unloving then not I but the one I follow says he is not one of his disciples. You all are well aware of them.
    Jeff, when I said ‘changed lives’ I wasn’t thinking of my changing your life or of Osama changing billions of lives, but of Bert who used to get drunk and beat his kids, but overnight became a loving father. That multiplied by hundreds that I know personally. That’s why I really want to follow Jesus – not simply adhere to a system of thought that has been repeatedly abused and manipulated thru the centuries. It’s very relational with me.
    I know, all the supernatural stuff at this point throws up the red flags; how can you have a relationship with a dead person [answer: he’s not dead], and why should I be right and everybody else wrong? The odd thing is, I meet people with whom I have serious theological disagreements, but nevertheless find an immediate bond because I can tell they also are relational with Jesus. So I have friends who are catholic, orthodox, fundamentalist, you name it. I also know some in my own church, who superficially agree with me on everything but are definitely not following JC.
    I’m sorry, I still don’t think I am explaining this very well. There’s a lot of background that we don’t share that hinders easy communication.

  15. Steve Bowen Says:

    Hi Atheist MC hear…
    Posting under my own name because, xhim has made a valid point, while at the same time demonstrating the frustration with the idea of religion. You can find GOD and get sober, of course you can, but you cannot find god and find truth. Sometimes, for some people the delusion of god is better than reality, because reality can suck, big time. That is our fault…

  16. Steve Bowen Says:

    Here even

  17. Dan Says:

    You’re trying to treat Christianity as a phisosophy and not as a religion. In truth, both can be used appropriately at different times, as you acknowledge. But the philosophy you’re describing has been shared by many non-Christians and even non-theists throughout history, so you can’t claim that as something unique to Christianity. And as we agree, you can’t claim that as something universal to Christianity either, so it seems to me that claiming the purported philosophy of Jesus as a basis for being a “real”Christian is completely baseless.