1st May 2008

“While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human
being could possibly be certain about.”

Sam Harris

12 Responses to “1st May 2008”

  1. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    I do like Sam Harris. He tells it like it is; a good representative of those who understand that there are no gods. Many have listened and learned… May that continue…

    BAT

  2. Critic Says:

    I fear that stupidity or, perhaps more accurately, self-inflicted ignorance, is the more common explanation for the faithful. Which is too bad. I can understand insanity causing such behavior but I cannot understand the conscious decision to live an ignorant and superstitious life. What a waste of humanity.

  3. Tzuriel Says:

    “Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human
    being could possibly be certain about.”

    You might want to look at this and remind yourself that this applies to atheists as well as it does to believers. You all pretend to be certain about these things just as much as any believer does. You just go another direction.

  4. Terence Meaden Says:

    There is huge difference. Atheists accept proven facts as true, because they are true. There is no pretence herein. Every scientific fact can be tested and rechecked, and verified.

    Faith holders accept within their belief systems whatever stories have been passed down to them by their elders. Go back far enough—if history and prehistory will allow—and you’ll encounter the first of the storytellers, the one who made it up. This includes the millions of myths invented by the millions of tribes past and present, and include the biblical myths and superstitions along with the rest. None of them are verifiable. Gods are all in the mind.

  5. Terence Meaden Says:

    H. L. Mencken: “Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. . . . A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill.”

  6. Critic Says:

    You might want to look at this and remind yourself that this applies to atheists as well as it does to believers.

    No. You are wrong.

    All atheists I know, including me, will readily become theists when the irrefutable scientific evidence is presented and verified.

    How many god-bots do you know that would even admit that their silly superstitious beliefs could conceivably be wrong? Damn few I’d wager.

  7. Critic Says:

    He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill.

    True enough. I will try to be more tolerant of the sickly minds I encounter.

  8. Chris Says:

    Tzuriel – you’re right but I don’t think any have forgotten this. Conclusions in science are always provisional. In short, the jury is always out on all the things we think we know. That is the crucial difference between a naturalist position and a faith position. We are always ready to accept a new conclusion if the evidence presented demolishes the old one. The same cannot be said of faith. It is simply immune to this sort of growth and that is the reason folks like Sam Harris consider it harmful – it wraps the intellect in chains.

  9. Terence Meaden Says:

    –Daniel Dennett, Globe & Mail, South Africa–
    “You don’t have to be religious to be crazy, but it helps. Indeed, if you are religious, you don’t have to be crazy in the medically certifiable sense to do massively crazy things. And — this is the worst of it — religious faith can give people a sort of hyperbolic confidence, an utter unconcern about whether they might be making a mistake, that enables acts of inhumanity that would otherwise be unthinkable.”
    From NSS Newsline, 2 May 2008

  10. Tzuriel Says:

    TM:

    You love quotes. I think you love quotes more than I love quotes (and I like quotes a lot). Just thought I’d say that. How many quotes do you know? It’s insane!

    There is a big difference, but there are also striking similarities. Many of you have used religious phraseology and even viewpoints in your posts on this website. It’s just something I found striking. Any man who claims to have the One Truth is in danger of this, whether that “truth” be an affirmation or denail of God. Every scientific fact is based on the unprovable idea that any of this is actually real. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all we have and so we have to move forward and continue our scientific processes, but we really have no basis for empirical “fact.” Both science and religion need a basic assumption in order to operate. Religion needs the assumption of God; science the assumption of empirical reality. Both are equally dangerous assumptions, and, in some ways, both can be taken as non-exclusive, or at least problematic when in the same room. It’s more than possible that the existence of God (if there is such a thing) cannot be empirically verified, which rules out scientific “proof.” Both of you make an underlying assumption, and both think the other fools for the assumption they have made. Theists and atheists are more alike than either is comfortable with acknowledging.

    As for Mr. Dennet, there’s a lot of truth to that, but it doesn’t just take religion. People have done crazy things out of nationality, out of pride, out of a simple hatred of something, anything. Look at the Unabomber. He did evil things because he felt technology was evil. It didn’t take a belief in God to make him do that.

    Critic:

    You yourself have admitted that you would probably never admit God’s existence even if you saw a chorus of angels. You’d find a way to brush it off, as many religious people have found ways to brush off scientific evidence. Really, you and Godbots are in the same boat, Critic. As I talked about in my reply to TM, you’ve both made your basic assumption and you’re sticking to it. Both of you see the other as intractable fools.

    Chris:

    I’m glad you see my point, and I see yours. However, what science has is great for science, but wouldn’t work in religion. If religion has the “ultimate truth” (not saying it does) than it would be harmful to try and destroy that, not the other way around. You can see the position they’re placed in, one that science has studiosly avoided. If their right, then they’re doing what they must, and if they’re wrong, then they’re in a real pickle. In many ways, however, science suffers from many of the same problems.

  11. Critic Says:

    You yourself have admitted that you would probably never admit God’s existence even if you saw a chorus of angels. You’d find a way to brush it off, as many religious people have found ways to brush off scientific evidence.

    I said, and have always said, that I would accept verified scientific evidence for the existence of god. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable – especially when pertaining to a, “chorus of angels.”

    Really, you and Godbots are in the same boat, Critic. As I talked about in my reply to TM, you’ve both made your basic assumption and you’re sticking to it. Both of you see the other as intractable fools.

    My basic assumption is that the only thing that exists is the natural world/universe -a sane and logical position that is supported by ALL of the verifiable scientific evidence. So, yes, I am sticking to that. I don’t see why that upsets you unless you really are trying to convert some atheists for a Sunday school class project.

    As for the godbots and their silly supertitious beliefs, I have decided that they are diseased and need our sympathy and our charity for their minds are broken. They have my pity. But, I must admit I will not always be so understanding of their silly choices.

  12. Critic Says:

    Tzuriel said:

    In many ways, however, science suffers from many of the same problems.

    Back that remark up with some evidence. I mean real evidence, not some hypothetical you dream up.