The Open Scrutiny of the Internet Kills Religions

HT (Hat Tip) to Andrew Atkinson for the video below:


67 comments:

Al Moritz said...

Funny. My faith is now stronger and more informed than before, after I have studied all the arguments. Thanks to the internet. The internet also has brilliantly shown how outrageously bad and philosophically inept most arguments are for atheism. Thanks but No thanks.

shane said...

This you tube video alone shows the brainwashing effect religion has on children.

It reminded me alot of when i attended church myself.
I realize that in religious groups the belief of many strengthens the belief of one.

According to Al Moritz, the Atheist position is outrageously bad and philosophically inept?

I hardly understand how someone who believes in resurrections, angels, floating hands writting on walls, disease being caused by demon possession, woman being formed from man's rib, and the wholesale extermination of men- women- and children as a righteous act of God, can actually make that claim....phenomenal!

Al Moritz said...

disease being caused by demon possession, woman being formed from man's rib

Exactly my point. Shane thinks that believers live in a pre-scientific world. One of the typical atheist strawmen that make me and many other believers laugh.

Toby said...

Al,

I'm not sure that you and your brand of Christianity are at all who the author of this blog is targeting. However, there are millions of Christians that these types of statements do apply to. I was raised in this type of Christianity. As I became more educated I began to develop a cognitive dissonance about the knowledge I was acquiring versus what I was taught through religion. There is substantial research to show that my own experience was not unique. Richard Shoenig on Matt McCormick's blog summed it nicely:

Here is some additional information on the relationship between religious conviction and intelligence/education/accomplishment.

1. From “Leading Scientists Still Reject God,” Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham, Nature, 394:313, July 23, 1998:

Larson (a Methodist) and Witham (“reared as a Lutheran”) present the results of a replication of 1913 and 1933 surveys by (atheist) James H. Leuba. Larson and Witham used the same wording as in Leuba’s studies and sent the questionnaire to 517 members of the National Academy of Science (the latter including mathematicians, physicists and astronomers) Return rate was slightly over 50%.

The article shows that the percentage of the most accomplished US scientists who believe in the existence of a personal god (theists)has steadily declined from 27.7% in 1914 to 15% in 1933 to 7.0% in 1998. At the same time the percentage of those scientist who disbelieve in a personal god (atheists) has steadily increased from 52.7% in 1914 to 68% in 1933 to 72.2% in 1998. The percentage of these scientists who neither believe nor disbelieve in a personal God (agnostics) has stayed fairly constant: 1914 it was 20.9%, in 1933 it was 17%, and in 1998 it was 20.8%.

2. In The Psychology of Religious Behavior, Belief and Experience, by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Michael Argyle, the authors mention unpublished data collected by Beit-Hallahmi. He reports that among Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences as well as in literature, there was a remarkable degree of irreligiosity, as compared to the populations they came from. The reference is to Beit-Hallahmi, B. (1988) “The religiosity and religious affiliation of Nobel prize winners.” Unpublished data.

3. Burnham P. Beckwith, “The Effect of Intelligence on Religious Faith,” Free Inquiry, Spring 1986, pp. 46-53. Beckwith did extensive literature searchs of studies correlating intelligence and religious convictions. The results: in 39 of the 43 studies, other factors being equal, the more intelligent a person is, the less religious she/he is.

4. A survey of Royal Society fellows (UK) found that 3.3% believe in a God vs. 68.5% of general UK populace. (from article in the journal Intelligence by Prof. Richard Lynn, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Ulster U.)

5. In a recent meta study, "Average Intelligence Predicts Atheism rates Across 137 Nations" in Intelligence, Volume 37, Issue 1, January-February 2009, pp. 11-15, Richard Lynn, John Harvey, and Helmuth Nyborg identified the following:

i) Worldwide, there is a substantial negative correlation between intelligence and religious belief. That is, as intelligence goes up, religious belief goes down.

ii) There is a significant decline of religious belief with age among children.

iii) In the 20th century, as the intelligence of the population has gone up, religious belief has gone down.

Of course correlation is not causation. Nevertheless, when the correlations are relevant, accurate, and abundant, that provides compelling inductive support for asserting that something more than mere corellation is in play.

goprairie said...

Okay, Al, if your faith is so strong, lay it out for examination. If you don't beleive what he assumes you believe, st the record straight. What do you believe about God and Juseus and prayer and souls and afterlife. Summarize it in 10 or 15 statements or less if you want. We'll ask questions if we want more detail. Go ahead. If it is so strong, it can stand the scrutiny.

shane said...

Al Motitz.

Last time i checked, this blog was called Debunking Christianity.
I realize that John deals with religion in general, but im not well informed about most other religions, but i am well informed about christianity because i used to be a christian.

The reason i gave those examples is because the christianity i once belonged to believed that the bible is the inerrent, infallible, word of God as do most forms.

Therefore if you dont believe the bible as a whole, then you must be picking and choosing what scriptures are supposed to be inspired and which ones are false!

Al Moritz said...

Goprairie,

I am a Catholic and I believe all the tenets of the Catholic faith. I don't see why I should go more in detail at this point, entangling myself in another time-consuming and senseless discussion of which I know the outcome already.

I just wanted to make the point that atheism does not necessarily have to offer any compelling arguments for believers who are well-informed in both science and philosophy.

Atheists usually are woefully uninformed about the latter, which does not lead to no philosophy, but to bad philosophy.

As Toby said:
Al, I'm not sure that you and your brand of Christianity are at all who the author of this blog is targeting.

shane said...

Al.

lol...is that conservative catholic...or liberal catholic....sounds liberal to me...lol

Al Moritz said...

Conservative, if you mean by that adhering to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

Which also entails that there cannot be conflict between faith and reason, and between faith and established scientific findings.

Russ said...

One thing I particularly like about the video is that it emphasizes religion's inability to survive confrontation with reality. We see this is true from the example of the Roman Catholic church. When humankind was uncertain about the great many things we now know to a high degree of certainty through science, man, at least in the West, was ruled by the iron fist of Roman Catholicism. Over the course of the last five hundred years, real understanding has pried the Roman Catholic jackboot from mankind's throat as the Roman Catholic church has been reduced to a social club wherein it is observed that most of the members ignore the rules and the church's mucky mucks now play the roles of rapists, gang rapists, molesters, pedophiles, spreaders of plagues, and accesories to all of them.

Personally, I relish the fact that the internet exposes religion for the lie machine that it is. The religious lie to themselves; they lie to each other; they lie to their; children; they lie to potential converts; they lie to the public. The internet reveals the fraud, the deception, the charlatanism that is religion. Nowhere do religions live up to the claims they make, and the internet makes that known.

Most religious claims of old could not be reliably confirmed or disconfirmed. For those that could be decided in one direction or another, the churches stood as a violently oppressive impediment to promulgating such information. Today, without the power to crush out dissent, without the power to control people's access to information, we see that religions are of no benefit to anyone except those who are paid directly and the recipients of humanitarian aid, which, of course, is human, not religious.

shane said...

Al.

I was under the impression that the liberal view was more acceptable of science.

Eitherway, how can you have faith in the bible and accept scientific findings at the same time?
Evolution is a scientific finding. Evolution is accepted by most all scientific fields and has very strong evidence!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

The person I really felt so very sorry for was a little child named Jesus who was brain washed 2,000 years ago in the Jewish apocrylpyptic faith until he himself thought he was a real messiah (Just like a number of Second Temple Jewish men before him whose short lives ended in their tragic deaths and just like the Jewish messiahs after them (Simon Bar Kokhba)).

If was not for Paul’s Theology of the Cross, Jesus would not have had salvation himself from the darkness of past history.

Al Moritz said...

Well, Shane, obviously you don't know enough about Christianity after all, at least not about Catholicism.

Evolution is accepted by most all scientific fields and has very strong evidence!

Yes it does! And I am a die-hard evolutionist. What is more, I am a die-hard believer in natural causes for the origin of life, even though this is not scientifically established yet. However, there is strong evidence for it, as also outlined in my article on the leading evolution website talkorigins.org:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html

In the meantime the evidence has become stronger still.

Joe E. Holman said...

Al Moritz said...

"Funny. My faith is now stronger and more informed than before, after I have studied all the arguments. Thanks to the internet. The internet also has brilliantly shown how outrageously bad and philosophically inept most arguments are for atheism. Thanks but No thanks."

JH:

Yeah, I'm sure every Christian feels like you.

That explains why John has to deal with God-trolls who can't follow rules and must be banned. it's not like the internet is crawling with anonymous porn addicts, is it?

And I bet some of those addicts are in church on Sundays singing "Oh how I love Jesus."

(JH)

bob said...

Al Moritz - "Shane thinks that believers live in a pre-scientific world."

Many chose faith over science when the two collide.

Al Moritz - ..."there cannot be conflict between faith and reason, and between faith and established scientific findings."

Spoken like a good Baptist. For where there is an "apparent" conflict, science must be mistaken?

I am confused, but Al must be very, very confused.

shane said...

Al.

So i dont know enough about christianity because i dont know the exact stance of catholics on science?......
Im sure catholics very in personal belief.

Also you avoided my question. I asked-"how can you have faith in the bible and accept evolution at the same time?
Either you believe the Genesis account is true or you dont!

Al Moritz said...

Al Moritz - ..."there cannot be conflict between faith and reason, and between faith and established scientific findings."

Spoken like a good Baptist. For where there is an "apparent" conflict, science must be mistaken?

I am confused, but Al must be very, very confused.


Bob,

your confusion is understandable if you cannot even properly read what I have said. What part of "established scientific findings" do you not understand? Evolution for example is established. I am a scientist and I accept all established findings of mainstream science, e.g. Big Bang, evolution.

Al Moritz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Al Moritz said...

Also you avoided my question. I asked-"how can you have faith in the bible and accept evolution at the same time?

Either you believe the Genesis account is true or you dont!


The Genesis account of creation is a story, not a scientific treatise. The essence of the story is that God created the world, not how it was created. Already St. Augustine, one of the great Fathers of the Church, warned in the 4th century, i.e. more than a millenium before the scientific revolution, against a literal reading of Genesis.

As Pope John Paul II reminded the faithful, "the scriptures teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go."

Al Moritz said...

Aarrgh, double posting, sorry.

Tony Hoffman said...

Al,

I am curious -- is there any scientific finding that would make you question your faith? (If not, congratulations on subscribing to one of the least objectionable forms of theism I know.)

shane said...

Al.

Ok....lol...So you admit the bible contains untruths?.....or at least fabrications?

Then why should we believe any of it?
How can a believer distinguish fact from fiction?

Also, why would God teach people how to go to heaven by telling them mythological stories?

As a skeptic i feel that this position is highly unorthodox.....and i know alot of christians that would disagree with this aswell.

Glock21 said...

The internet seems to be generally a positive on the issue of religion due to the endless access to all of the information necessary to debunk and deprogram.

I don't, however, believe that it is the end of religion by any stretch of the imagination. Just as the internet has brought us gems like factcheck.org and endless resources to research political claims... it has also helped establish a competing "disinformation superhighway" for every conspiracy theorist and ideologue to find arguments and rhetorical shielding. Just as some theological scholars merely spend their efforts towards rationalizing the irrational and finding new and creative ways to justify that... the internet offers endless confirmation bias and an arsenal of evasion for those who want it.

Not much unlike an addiction, people often have to admit they have a problem with their ideology (religious or otherwise) for the internet to become a positive force as opposed to becoming a fallout shelter from conflicting facts and/or reason.

But the good outweighs the bad. The "other" information can become grounds for that "moment of clarity" towards making positive use of the plethora of information available... and it often does. The disinformation aspect is still powerful, however, so I think the "rumors of religion's death are greatly exaggerated." There's still a lot of work to do to help people to see past the myths, question whether that metaphysical fallout is really out there, and finally dare to peak outside of the bomb shelter and see that a fulfilling life is still out there to be had.

Much of the internet can be seen as people with short wave radios from other bunkers, reassuring the rest of them that the only thing out there is metaphysical fallout, suffering and death. And unfortunately they can be very effective in doing so.

Lee said...

So, Al, you're enlightened and scientific, but you also accept all the teachings of the Catholic church . . . great. That includes papal infallibility? The man whose brother ran a choir school as a cover for molesting little boys is empowered to speak infallibly for God? You reject birth control, family planning, and the use of condoms?

Yeah, there's no error or fantasy in official Catholic teaching.

x said...

Al how do you determine what in the bible is literal and what isn't?
What is the criteria you use?

Tony Hoffman said...

Glock21,

This is a great point:


Much of the internet can be seen as people with short wave radios from other bunkers, reassuring the rest of them that the only thing out there is metaphysical fallout, suffering and death. And unfortunately they can be very effective in doing so.


I've seen so many times these odd references and links provided by theists (oftentimes posting to the same link). I've even thought of collecting my favorite, bad ones. Very often these links all share the same, obvious deficiencies -- vague language, weasel words, etc. that wouldn't get a passing grade in a high school history essay.

One of my favorites is this one -- I've had this link provided to me as hard evidence of academic bias against Christians, especially prevalent around the time Expelled was released.

http://creation.com/censoring-intelligent-design-by-roger-paull

What's so odd is that so many of these links are obvious misinformation to anyone armed with basic critical reading skills.

bob said...

Finally someone has it all figured out - Al says the bible is true and it isn't...er...I mean church doctrine is right and wrong...er...

Russ said...


The internet also has brilliantly shown how outrageously bad and philosophically inept most arguments are for atheism.

Al, I'm a complete materialist atheist. I'm completely convinced by decades of study and observation that religions offer mankind nothing but the soothing personal comfort of sharing beliefs. Observably, religions do not make people more caring or loving or generous or moral. We need look no further than your preferred version of Christianity to know that. Empirically, the most generous people on the planet per capita are the Swedes, followed closely by the other Scandinavian countries, and, for them, religion is largely irrelevant. The highest murder rate in the developed world is right here in the good ol' US of A, where you can hardly fling a dead cat without hitting a Christian church. The religious crap you want to feed people is doing none of us any good.

Historically, the religion has been obscurantist, obstructionist, and violently oppressive. The self-assessments of these vile organizations are irrelevant. They have never been of value to man in general, and from observing your personal favorite, the Roman Catholic church, as well as others over the last few decades, religions just keep getting worse.

You call atheism "philosophically inept" yet you fail to see your own church for the ever ongoing clusterfuck that it is. Do you even realize that few Roman Catholics listen to the clergy or the scum bags residing in the Vatican. Your church is a club wherein most participants mouth words which they completely ignore. They don't believe what's being said. Hell, in the US, Roman Catholics have the highest rate of abortion of any Christian sect. Irony? No, they don't believe the stupid shit the church excretes.

I'd bet that you ignore almost all the church has to say as well. Your church as an institution has always been every bit as vulgar as it is today. Sure they've changed their marketing strategies a few times to avoid the clear stupidity of conflicting with science, but your church has always been simply a self-centered, self-interested organization hell-bent on exercising personal and social control over people from cradle to grave.

And you voluntarily pay their bills and teach your children to do the same. You were lied to as a child and you lie to your own children. It's not magic. It's not supernatural. It's mind control aimed at financing a business and supporting a bureaucracy that endorses and perpetuates too many crimes against humanity than we can enumerate. What percentage of your hard-earned dollar pays for your clergymen to rape?

Claim some imagined philosophical superiority over atheists all you like, it still will not change the fact that you pay money to support the Roman Catholic practice of raping children and other vulnerable people. Child rape is an employment perk in the Roman Catholic clergy. And, those who don't actually put their genitals in a child's mouth, anus or vagina, are morally incapable of helping the victims. Your church makes people morally corrupt.

So, don't come here brandishing some sense of superiority - moral, philosophical, intellectual or other. Your church has never had it and never will. They cannot impart to you or your children what they obviously do not possess. Somehow they've got you supporting the rape of children and the debasement, vilification, and denigration of them if they speak out. If you were morally whole, if you were capable of moral reasoning rather than slavishly following the dictates of the corrupt, you would do the right thing and walk away from the Roman Catholic church and take your money with you.

Realize that your church never even pretended to care about the children raped by your clergymen until it hit their pocket books. That should tell you exactly what your church values. It does not value children, or you, or anyone else. It values money and the power and influence that comes with it.

Al Moritz said...

Shane:

Ok....lol...So you admit the bible contains untruths?.....or at least fabrications?

Then why should we believe any of it?

How can a believer distinguish fact from fiction?


X:

Al how do you determine what in the bible is literal and what isn't?
What is the criteria you use?


Criteria:

1. Scholars distinguish between different literary categories. Allegory is one of them, and language analysis of the creation account strongly suggests that it is written as allegory. There is nothing wrong with allegory, Jesus spoke in parables as well. The Revelation of John is another example of allegory.

2. The accounts of Jesus' life in the New testament are generally viewed by scholars as meant to be historical.

3. For me, the Catholic Church is the final arbiter for what is to be taken literal and what not.

It is Bible *and* tradition. 'Sola Scriptura' (only the scriptures) is a logically self-contradictory concept. Who decides what is authentic scripture (canon vs. apocryphal) in the first place and what is not? Yep, without the tradition of the church you get nowhere.

Al Moritz said...

Nice tyrade, Russ, by the way. Are you done?

bob said...

Russ, Al can't win. If he agrees with your assessment of his church, he admits it is not good.

If he defends his churches practices, he look like a loon.

If he minimizes the pedophilia, he appears like he may have...you know.

So, the safe response is no response.

Tony Hoffman said...

Al,

I give you credit for sticking around and answering the questions despite the number of hecklers not being in your favor. (I've been on the other side, and it does suck some of the fun out of these exchanges.)

I am curious, still, if you think there is any point at which scientific understanding and the Bible could contradict one another? Clearly, you think that the special creation of man interpretation of the Bible (as it is understood by fundamentalists) is incorrect because of the science. Do you think there is scientific knowledge that you would not accept because of your interpretation of the Bible?

x said...

Al regarding your answer # 3. Why do you allow other people to think for you?

Al Moritz said...

Russ, Al can't win. If he agrees with your assessment of his church, he admits it is not good.

If he defends his churches practices, he look like a loon.

If he minimizes the pedophilia, he appears like he may have...you know.

So, the safe response is no response.


I don't see a fundamental problem here. I make a clear distinction between the teachings of the Church, which I believe are inspired by God, and the behaviour of its leaders, which often is exemplary, but sometimes is marred by human weakness, or even is grossly immoral, scandalous and despicable.

Russ said...

Al said,

Nice tyrade, Russ, by the way. Are you done?

Actually, no, Al, my tirade isn't over. My tirade will not end until children are safe from religion.

I'm sure you fancy yourself a fine upstanding moral person. Sure Al Moritz financially supports pedophiles and entire religious conglomerate that feeds and perpetuates pedophiles, but Al Moritz still envisions himself as a fine moral person. Al Moritz no doubt rejects pedophilia for himself and would certainly call on secular authorities if he got wind of it happening in his purview. But, think of it, Al. If your child had been gangraped by priests, as happened many times in the Boston area, your priest would have done nothing to help or protect your child; your bishop would have done nothing to help or protect your child; your cardinal would have done nothing to help or protect your child; and, Ratzinger come Pope would have done nothing to help or protect your child. Nothing. Is this the tradition you were talking about?

If you were a priest, you would either have raped or protected those who do, while you would also have sought vengeance against children and their families for the church. How do we know this? Almost no priests came forward to protect children. You would have been exactly like the mob you sycophantically follow.

As it is, you demonstrate that your capacity for moral decision making has gone the way of those clergy. You are proof of the adverse affects religion. You support a corrupt institution and if you had elected to become a cleric you would have been right in there raping and torturing children, aiding and abetting those who did or otherwise serving as an accomplice. Almost all clergy knew of abuses and essentially zero of them tried in the least to protect the victims.

If the Church cannot make those who tell you what to believe - remember, "3. For me, the Catholic Church is the final arbiter for what is to be taken literal and what not" - more moral, caring, kind, or compassionate, what are they doing for you?

It is those same child rapists and their defenders who dictate to you what is tradition, what is doctrine, and what is moral. Like it or not, child rape is tradition in the Roman Catholic church. And, like you said, "Yep, without the tradition of the church you get nowhere."

If you need something Jesusey or something that uses the words "virgin" or "god" religions are plenty, even Christianities, that can fulfill those needs for you. You do not have to give money to pay for four or five priests to have a gang bang weekend with an eight-year old boy as happened not far from Salem, MA.

In the words attributed to Jesus, "suffer the little children to come unto me," Roman Catholic rapists was not what he had in mind.

Al Moritz said...

Al,

I give you credit for sticking around and answering the questions despite the number of hecklers not being in your favor. (I've been on the other side, and it does suck some of the fun out of these exchanges.)



Thanks, Tony.

I am curious, still, if you think there is any point at which scientific understanding and the Bible could contradict one another? Clearly, you think that the special creation of man interpretation of the Bible (as it is understood by fundamentalists) is incorrect because of the science. Do you think there is scientific knowledge that you would not accept because of your interpretation of the Bible?

If science could indisputably show that the mind is indeed identical with the brain, and thus free will is impossible, it would pose a problem for my faith. If that were the case, I would probably have to go with science. However, science has not shown any such thing, even though some claim it has. Brain science is still in its infancy, and is in no position to make such claims, and I do not expect it ever will be, no matter how far it may progress. What brain science does show is that there is a correlation between brain activity and thinking, and between brain functioning and personality. This is no surprise, and even would be expected, also in the scenario where the brain is an instrument of the mind, rather than *being* the mind.

Al Moritz said...

Russ, I admire your energy. I suppose you had not yet read my 2:56 pm post when you wrote you last post.

Tony Hoffman said...

Al Moritz: "What brain science does show is that there is a correlation between brain activity and thinking, and between brain functioning and personality. This is no surprise, and even would be expected, also in the scenario where the brain is an instrument of the mind, rather than *being* the mind."

If the mind is not thinking nor personality, I am curious what you think the mind is.

Al Moritz said...

Al Moritz: "What brain science does show is that there is a correlation between brain activity and thinking, and between brain functioning and personality. This is no surprise, and even would be expected, also in the scenario where the brain is an instrument of the mind, rather than *being* the mind."

If the mind is not thinking nor personality, I am curious what you think the mind is.


Tony,

it is exactly that, and I think the brain is an instrument for those functions (see above).

Some have made the analogy between software and hardware, the mind being analogous to the software and the brain to the hardware on which the software runs. The analogy is severely limited of course (so don't pin me down on it), but it points in a certain direction when it comes to thinking about these issues.

goprairie said...

Al: I don't give a rat's ass about specific church doctine that prescribes what you are supposed to believe and interprets the Bible for you. How about some basic statements about your God? Is your god all powerful? Is your god all loving? Is your god able to answer specific prayers? How about some basic statements about what YOU believe about YOUR god instead of hiding behind catholicism?

Russ said...

Tony,
I'll gladly accept the moniker "heckler." But, I also think there are those about who could be called "enablers." I consider "enablers" to be those people who wilfully follow the religious down philosophical rabbit holes - often showing them the entrance themselves - when that religious person has already stated their position plainly on a specific issue. Al admits that science cannot change his mind. In his 1:29 comment, he sets out all the tools he will use to deflect any criticism of his religion and how it should be construed in his life.

Later, in his 3:11 comment, he says:

If science could indisputably show that the mind is indeed identical with the brain, and thus free will is impossible, it would pose a problem for my faith.

So, Al has clearly explained that he is both willing and unwilling to be lead by science and religion. When religion is being served up, contradictory drivel becomes the main course.

Notice that Al does what all good respecters of science do when they seek to defend their religious faith - they go to god of the gaps.

In Al's case he reaches for the consciousness gap which he's certain will serve him in good stead for the rest of his life: "If science could indisputably show that the mind is indeed identical with the brain, and thus free will is impossible, it would pose a problem for my faith." For Al, all the loose ends are tied up and he never need look anywhere but the church again since he considers consciousness to be an intractable problem in science. Realize that he's telling you that his faith is not actually based on the purported veracity of religious claims, to which he does lip service. No, his religious faith is based on what he considers to be a weakness in science.

There exists no reason to think that mind is anything but an emergent property of a sufficiently well interconnected pile of neurons.

Note that Al's a biochemist who says,

Conservative, if you mean by that adhering to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

Which also entails that there cannot be conflict between faith and reason, and between faith and established scientific findings.

Here, again, he's telling you that in all cases he will do what is necessary to adhere to faith. So, his statement that some finding from neurophysiology could alter his religious leanings is a lie. He will reconcile them in his own mind whatever it takes.

Russ said...

Tony,
When Al talks about catechism he is talking about information held in neurons. People forget all the time, and catechisms are easily forgotten since they are nonsense. Surely he will tell you that belief is dependent in the specific content of brain matter, neurons. What you know determines to a great extent what you believe. If the specific content is altered so that they no longer speak Roman Catholic catechism, but instead bark out Koranic verses.

Al is like Ken Miller. Ken Miller rejects the Discovery Institute's version of intelligent design, but he embraces his own. Miller's version of ID has a god meddling with humanity from the quantum world. Miller's book Finding Darwin's God was good, excellent really, for about 165 pages then his train left the tracks and cascaded into a ravine as he ventured away from his forte, cell biology, into the no-man's-land, for him anyway, of quantum mechanics to Find Darwin's God. He failed miserably.

The religious never want to engage on the discepancies between their claims and the observed consequences of their actions. Like Al, when asked to actually confront issues associated with their beliefs they skulk away saying things like,

I don't see a fundamental problem here. I make a clear distinction between the teachings of the Church, which I believe are inspired by God, and the behaviour of its leaders, which often is exemplary, but sometimes is marred by human weakness, or even is grossly immoral, scandalous and despicable.

Then, like Miller, they too go off the rails when you try to get them to explain how they know that the same church leaders who have committed abhorrent crimes against children, defended the criminals, and further victimized the children in defending the church, are actually speaking words from some god, they become stupifyingly incoherent or they turn tail and skedaddle. These "leaders" are observably making up "teachings" and "doctrine" and "ritual" as they go along. While he isn't allowed to admit it, his beliefs were every bit as concocted by humans as were the teachings of Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard.

Al Moritz said...

There exists no reason to think that mind is anything but an emergent property of a sufficiently well interconnected pile of neurons.

This, my friend, is your personal philosophy, not a scientific statement. You talk about the 'God of the Gaps', well, let me tell you, for atheists science (not the hard facts, but the hope for them) is their god of the gaps. Their holy mantra is "one day science will show", and their excuse is always to wait for that one elusive day. And we wait and wait and wait . . .

Sure, if science one day really shows, with hard data, what you say about the mind, I'm game. Until then I have little reason to believe that this will be shown.

shane said...

Al.

Is there any evidence that a mind is linked to a soul? or that a soul even exists?

Bing said...

All sorts of capacities can be and have been shown to be knocked out by brain damage. A sense of self, the capacity for joy, the capacity to feel interested, the sense of being "inside" one's own body, the awareness of "left" or "right". These are all clearly tied to neuronal activity. Why would you make an exception? I mean on what scientific basis do you make an exception for the soul?

Glock21 said...

At this point a metaphysical explanation for mental function correlated with the physical brain or metaphysical explanations on why matter that has an animated chemical behavior is "alive" as opposed to other chemistry of matter... is all redundant to the scientific explanations.

Yes it's true we can't disprove the unobservable, intangible, unmeasurable, and otherwise make believe metaphysical explanations for the mind or why amino acids are as useful as they are. We also can't disprove that there are similarly non-natural and entirely undetectable magical unicorns the size of gravitons not making it all work.

We can't prove that gravitons themselves aren't actually the physical signature of subatomic and otherwise undetectable Apollos.

And we don't need to. They're redundant to the scientific modeling needed to understand it. There's no lack of energy in living cells or amino acids to explain why it's alive. The chemistry works out perfectly to explain how it keeps chemically interacting with its neighboring molecules.

We don't need magic to explain why our brains allow memory, cognition, sensory inputs, personality, feelings, etc. We can show the parts of the brain that control them and how those things are effected or ceased by brain damage, or even cooler, when stimulated in the middle of brain surgery while the patient is awake and aware!

This is just more of the "god of the gaps" but it's hardly recognizable in this case as the gap has shrunk so much that they're only left with the gap of metaphysical mumbojumbo redundant to the actual systems and obscured in concept as to be entirely pointless and undetectable so not to accidentally trespass into physical reality.

This is how far they must stoop to rationalize the irrational. It's gotten this bad for them. If it wasn't for a lifetime of "witnesses" and self-appointed "saviors" antagonizing me for decades, I'd pity them. I say good luck with your every shrinking nano-gods. I hope they keep you warm at night.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al once again proves a scientist can be closed minde and self centered. The OP was about population trends but Al makes it about Al and exits his scientific training rooted in observation and statistical sampling for the self-centered, defensive emotionalism of superstition and religion. Well done Al, you've shown how religious adherence makes one compromise their intelligence for the sake of self-centered delusuions. The title of the post and the film example exist to show religion is suffering due to the transparency of info found on the Internet. It was not how Al Moritz can become arrogant and smug in his need to obey a 2000 year old superstition using 21st century technology. The really sad thing is that you exhibit enflamed narcissism as a means to argue and then say atheists are philosophically stunted. Sad.

bob said...

Al - "If science could indisputably show that the mind is indeed identical with the brain, and thus free will is impossible, it would pose a problem for my faith."

This makes a shat load of sense. Until science explains everything, Al will follow the dictates of his antique church. His church leaders committing horrendous crimes against even the most innocent among us, and that isn't enough to cause him to scratch his head. The only thing that will make him pause is a magnificent scientific discovery.

I stand amazed. What a testament to how deep the religious parasite can burrow.

milanst said...

Al,

Either you believe your bible and accept the story of genesis or you don't. If you don't accept the story of genesis then you also cannot accept the jesus story, after all there would be no need to sacrifice jesus if there were no original sin. Without jesus your particular religion is pretty much a waste, isn't it?

Gandolf said...

Al Moritz said ...."1. Scholars distinguish between different literary categories. Allegory is one of them, and language analysis of the creation account strongly suggests that it is written as allegory.There is nothing wrong with allegory, Jesus spoke in parables as well. The Revelation of John is another example of allegory."

Hi Al !

Nothings wrong?

Maybe except that sadly not everyones possesses the chance or ability to be a scholar ?

And so its caused much heartache and pain and even suicide and death etc!

Or does your loving god also feel this is really quite fine ?

Russ said...

Al,
You said,

This, my friend, is your personal philosophy, not a scientific statement.


Wow! And you're a biochemist! When I say, "There exists no reason to think that mind is anything but an emergent property of a sufficiently well interconnected pile of neurons," that is, in fact, a scientifically informed statement. There exists no reason to hypothesize a "mind" independent of the matter that constitutes the physical brain.

Bing nicely outlined why we needn't think of mind as separate from brain.

Glock21 gave a good explanation of why we need not consider metaphysical malarkey when dealing with the natural processes that explain perception, cognition, and other mental processes.

You said further,

well, let me tell you, for atheists science (not the hard facts, but the hope for them) is their god of the gaps. Their holy mantra is "one day science will show", and their excuse is always to wait for that one elusive day. And we wait and wait and wait ...

Seriously, Al, are you just some biochem technician? Have you never actually been involved in a project that contributed to our overall understanding of nature? Where did you do your biochemistry work? I've worked with some pretty great chemists and biochemists in my life, including Melvin Calvin and every one of them has made a contribution to our understanding of the world. I have yet to see religion make a positive contribution of any kind to our understanding of the world. The religious mimic the non-religious in performing humanitarian aid, and they often make the bizarre admission that they wouldn't do it if it weren't for their religion. Atheists perform humanitarian aid because people in need stir the compassion we all share. Only the religious could make the stupid and ridicule-worthy statement that they would not help others unless religiously motivated. That is morally wrong all by itself.

I think you are telling me that you are a biochemist, but you are not a scientist. When you pejoratively mock, "one day science will show," I know you must be a biochem hack. I know lots of atheists many of whom work in the sciences, and I know none who harbors the unrealistic expectations for science that you ascribe.

It's worth asking where the hell was your useless god for the twelve hundred years your similarly useless church had its stranglehold on the western world. With a society so heavily steeped in Jesus and god, one has to question why in all that time mankind made only modest technological advancements and essentially no moral advancement.

In the west both moral and technological advancement had to wait for science. Science's influence on technology is rather obvious. When we look at moral advancement all we have to do is consider science's role in eradicating the Roman Catholic church's demon possession theory of disease and the understanding that witches are not real. If not for the advent of the printing press and the scientific revolution it spawned in the fifteenth century, slavery would still be rampant, epileptics and diabetics would still be chained to walls or burned as witches, bloodletting would still be taking life after life, and plagues would still be commonplace. Once mankind realized that the world could be understood, spirit-world based explanations lost much of their psychological hold.

Real human moral progress is actually possible when you stop burning people as witches. Real human moral progress is actually possible when you stop holding slaves like the Bible clearly legitimizes. Real human moral progress is actually possible when you stop blaming the disease-afflicted and start searching for the true cause of their maladies. Science made these happen. The church, committed to the imaginary and the superstitious for bolstering its own interests proved itself incapable of nurturing the betterment of man during more than a thousand years of exclusive reign.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al

You owe Russ (and all of us philosophically challenged atheists) an explanation why your 2000 year old superstition is the best explanation for reality. Your arrogance commands it.

Tony Hoffman said...

Al,

Okay, at least I think I understand your dualist position – that the mind exists separately from the brain, and that thinking and personality occur (first) in the mind, and the brain is an instrument for effecting the thinking and personality. This would help the dualist explain the relation between brain damage and impaired thinking, personality change, etc.

Here’s why this position appears unscientific to me:

- It is unfalsifiable (not a deal breaker, but not a help either)
- It is not parsimonious (needlessly adds another entity)
- It is unproductive (what does it explain, what can it predict, what can learn from this explanation, etc.)

It is also a paradoxical position in that it posits a supernatural entity (the mind), but acknowledges that the mind can relate with the natural brain (use it as an instrument). The failure of dualists to identify the bridging structure (which must exist for dualism to be occur) is right up there with failure to turn lead to gold, I believe.

The dualist position does seem ultimately unscientific, I think, in that it entails no research. It appears that those who cleave to it do so for only philosophical consolation, not to spur scientific knowledge. Do you think this is mistaken, and if you do, do you know of any research that provides evidence for dualism?

Tony Hoffman said...

Russ,

I'll agree that I am an enabler to the extent that you're a heckler. I admit that hecklers are (way) cooler, and certainly have more fun.

Depends on time of day and mood, I think. Sometimes I'm right there with you.

Russ said...

Al,
You say that science has the capacity to influence your faith. If that's the case, I'd like to ask you a question: when speaking about the natural world, when has the church ever been right?

Isn't it at least a potentially fruitful thought experiment to consider why the church, your church, has been wrong every time it has tried to explain natural phenomena?

Geocentrism was wrong. Not just a little bit off. Dead wrong. It was a theologically informed idea. Those who formulated it were deeply pious. Geocentrism was a communication from God. But it wasn't even close in astronomical terms.

It was theologically justified that God must have put the planets in circular orbits and so it became the official teaching of the church, your church. Again, they were wrong, way off.

By church authority, comets were explained as objects thrown by God toward Earth to strike fear into transgressors. When Halley discerned the periodicity of the comet that bears his name, the church, your church, forbade that knowledge to be taught. However, when Halley's Comet returned right on time, following just the right path, the church, your church, could no longer control access to that truth. The God whisperers were again mistaken, even though it was the purported creator of the universe providing them the information.

God was their insight, yet your church was wrong on mental illness, and they certainly were not loving or compassionate with the mentally ill.

God was their source, still, your church was wrong on microbe-based disease and they often blamed the afflicted. God had told them that illness was a sign of His Almighty Wrath for sin. They were wrong.

God informed the church leaders that the developmentally disabled were to be chained, caged, eviscerated, burned or otherwise executed. We now understand your God was wrong, horribly, torturously wrong.

Floods, earthquakes, droughts all had explanations handed down from your God, the Creator of it all. But, all of them have been wrong. Not subtle, finely nuanced little slip-ups. No these were gross, not-even-in-the-ballpark errors.

Your God stuck by these same stupid mistakes for centuries and obstructed the search for the correct answers. These were part of the teachings and doctrine of the church, your church. This was factual information handed down by your God to those who tell you what to believe. This is data coming from The-One-Who-Makes-No-Mistakes. And, it was wrong?

My guess is that if you've read this far you're mind has shifted into hyperapologetics mode. You are all cranked to defend the church, your church, and its leaders. You will quite likely tell me and the others here that those were human errors made by fallible people, and I would agree with you. But, I would ask if your God and your Roman Catholic church leaders are jointly mistaken on the simple stuff, you know, the explanations of observable physical phenomena, then there is no reason at all to expect them to get the more complex and twisted theological stuff right. That's the stuff that constitutes your Roman Catholic Catechism, right? Your church leaders working in close conjunction with your God have arrived at what you are told to believe, in exactly the same way they arrived at bloodletting, witches, geocentrism, and chaining diabetics.

It is very sad that you denigrate science, and put your "faith" in something - the committee consisting of your God and your Roman Catholic leaders - that has never shown itself to be useful or reliable, and is incapable of getting the simple things right. Your faith is misplaced, Al.

It really is very sad that you can't see that your God is imaginary. It provides no answers, no insights. In your work, Al, you have undoubtedly made far greater contributions to mankind than all the thousands of gods that have ever been worshipped by man, including your current God.

Russ said...

Al,
According to your Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Trujillo, the official position of the Roman Catholic Church concerning condoms and HIV is that condoms are ineffective at reducing HIV transmission. That's on the Internet.

Also on the internet are the results of the Centers for Disease Controls studies showing that condom use reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission by a factor of nearly 10000. That is, condom use is highly effective at reducing HIV transmission.

Which one would you accept as more likely to be right? Would you accept the science or the theology? If you accept the science then you're telling me that your God-guided Cardinal is wrong. But, how could that be? God is, after all, well...God. If you accept the theological take, then you're allowing your church to steer you away from observed reality.

Also on the internet ... according to the Bishop of Nairobi, putting on a condom CAUSES AIDS. It's not having sex with an HIV-infected partner while using a condom that might lead to HIV infection and possibly AIDS. Nope. According to the God-guided bishop, putting on a condom causes AIDS. Do you believe that?

Your Cardinal and your Bishop are blatant liars. They are not useful to humanity and they are both wrong.

Your faith in your Roman Catholic Church and its leaders is misplaced and unwarranted, Al.

Al Moritz said...

Wow! And you're a biochemist! When I say, "There exists no reason to think that mind is anything but an emergent property of a sufficiently well interconnected pile of neurons," that is, in fact, a scientifically informed statement. There exists no reason to hypothesize a "mind" independent of the matter that constitutes the physical brain.

Bing nicely outlined why we needn't think of mind as separate from brain.

Glock21 gave a good explanation of why we need not consider metaphysical malarkey when dealing with the natural processes that explain perception, cognition, and other mental processes.

[...]

Seriously, Al, are you just some biochem technician? Have you never actually been involved in a project that contributed to our overall understanding of nature? Where did you do your biochemistry work? I've worked with some pretty great chemists and biochemists in my life, including Melvin Calvin and every one of them has made a contribution to our understanding of the world. [...]

I think you are telling me that you are a biochemist, but you are not a scientist.


Nice try, Russ. You can tell the same things to John Eccles who won the Nobel Prize for his work on the synapse, and who also believed that the brain is not the entire mind.


When you pejoratively mock, "one day science will show," I know you must be a biochem hack. I know lots of atheists many of whom work in the sciences, and I know none who harbors the unrealistic expectations for science that you ascribe.

Nonsense. Many atheists believe that one day science will prove their naturalism right in every aspect -- including a naturalistic origin of the universe.


***

With this I have said enough. I have outlined my basic positions sufficiently, and having done that, I feel no need to defend them any further against all objections, and I simply do not have time for further discussion. I do have actual professional work to do, and I cannot let the discussion get in the way of that.

There are sufficient philosophical reasons to assume that the brain is not the mind, but this would be yet another discussion as well.

It was a pleasure, folks.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al,

How is Eccles work in dealing with peripheral synapses a proof to an external non-material mind.

You citing Eccles Nobel in material brain science as a defense of your superstition (which he shared and which drove his unconfirmed and unawarded belief in non-material mind) is an appeal to authority.

Eccles Nobel has nothing to do with confirming the supernatural hypothesis you endorse.

Please cite some relevant research that he conducted on the mind-body problem wich is confirmatory of your "god of the gaps" conclusion. His understanding was sentimental and aesthetic and appealed to his theism and nominal Catholocism. It was not scientific and had nothing to do with the Nobel committee awarding him a prize for his science.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al,

You won't respond to this but you said, "Nonsense. Many atheists believe that one day science will prove their naturalism right in every aspect -- including a naturalistic origin of the universe."

This is a thin argument and one that this atheist would disagree with.

Tony Hoffman said...

Al Moritz: "With this I have said enough. I have outlined my basic positions sufficiently, and having done that, I feel no need to defend them any further against all objections, and I simply do not have time for further discussion."

You appear to only have outlined an indefensible position and attempted to certify it with the stamp of science. You have really done nothing here but proclaim your unfounded beliefs and listed a number of fallacious reasons for them.

If your content to let your visit here stand as a best case of your argument, then I don't see an impartial jury deliberating long on the rationality of your beliefs.

Cheers.

Al Moritz said...

Chuck:

Please cite some relevant research that he conducted on the mind-body problem wich is confirmatory of your "god of the gaps" conclusion. His understanding was sentimental and aesthetic and appealed to his theism and nominal Catholocism. It was not scientific and had nothing to do with the Nobel committee awarding him a prize for his science.

Tony:

Here’s why this position appears unscientific to me:

- It is unfalsifiable (not a deal breaker, but not a help either)
- It is not parsimonious (needlessly adds another entity)
- It is unproductive (what does it explain, what can it predict, what can learn from this explanation, etc.)



One last intervention of mine on this thread. Of course this position is non-scientific (as opposed to 'unscientific'). Science (the natural sciences) requires methodological naturalism, and this issue cannot be tackled by that approach (and I would never agree to a widening of the scientific approach beyond methodological naturalism, as ID proponents demand).

It is a philosophical position, and Eccles would agree on that. See, that is why it is so hard to argue with atheists. You guys don't know the difference between philosophy and science, and for you any philosophical position has to be scientific, be scientifically verifiable (scientism), or otherwise it is not 'rational'.

Notwithstanding that the idea that there is nothing out there but the natural world is a philosophical position (philosophical naturalism) that is not scientifically verifiable itself. Yes, you may call it an *extrapolation* from science, but it is not science itself and it can never be.

As the American National Academy of Sciences (NAS) said in a 1998 statement titled Teaching about Evolution and Science:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309063647&page=58

"At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world […]

No one way of knowing can provide all of the answers to the questions that humans ask. Consequently, many people, including many scientists, hold strong religious beliefs and simultaneously accept the occurrence of evolution. [...]

Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral."

(This is not ‘accomodationism’, an accusation leveled lately against the NAS, but correct philosophy of science.)


You appear to only have outlined an indefensible position and attempted to certify it with the stamp of science.

No, Tony, I did not put the stamp of science on it. It is a philosophical position, but you do not understand that, apparently.

This was my last post here. Back to work.

Tony Hoffman said...


Al: "No, Tony, I did not put the stamp of science on it. It is a philosophical position, but you do not understand that, apparently."


Okay, Al. I misunderstood that you meant to state only a philosophical position, and were not trying to lecture us about the scientific merits of your position when you had previously written all of these:


Al: “Shane thinks that believers live in a pre-scientific world.”



Al: “I just wanted to make the point that atheism does not necessarily have to offer any compelling arguments for believers who are well-informed in both science and philosophy.”



Al: “Which also entails that there cannot be conflict between faith and reason, and between faith and established scientific findings.”



Al: “What is more, I am a die-hard believer in natural causes for the origin of life, even though this is not scientifically established yet. However, there is strong evidence for it, as also outlined in my article on the leading evolution website talkorigins.org:”



Al: “What part of "established scientific findings" do you not understand? Evolution for example is established. I am a scientist and I accept all established findings of mainstream science, e.g. Big Bang, evolution.”



Al: “If science could indisputably show that the mind is indeed identical with the brain, and thus free will is impossible, it would pose a problem for my faith. If that were the case, I would probably have to go with science. However, science has not shown any such thing, even though some claim it has.”



Al: “This, my friend, is your personal philosophy, not a scientific statement.”



Al: “You talk about the 'God of the Gaps', well, let me tell you, for atheists science (not the hard facts, but the hope for them) is their god of the gaps.”



Al: “Sure, if science one day really shows, with hard data, what you say about the mind, I'm game.”


Heckle away, lads – the Al show is indeed running long.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al,

If you are going to get smug about atheists not knowing how to discuss philosophical issues then I suggest you not appeal to the SCIENTIFIC credentials of an authority (Eccles) when making a philosophical case. The Nobel was awarded to Eccles for Naturalistic Science, not Philosophy of Science.

Thanks.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al,

It seems Tony has turned you out for the hypocrite you are.

Not surprising given your religious affiliation.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Well at the very least, the open scrutiny of the Internet killed Al Moritz's self-centered indignation (and bad science, and enabling apologies for the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church).

Russ said...

Al,
You said,

There are sufficient philosophical reasons to assume that the brain is not the mind, but this would be yet another discussion as well.

While philosophy can be a wonderful tool for clarifying thought by separating the relevant from the irrelevant, it can also be a tool for obscuring and misrepresenting, misinforming, and other forms of deceiving as it has been in religion.

Realize that any philosophical justification for mind-distinct-from-brain depends entirely on ignorance. Recall that there were fine, subtle, complex and nuanced philosophical arguments for the "demon possessed" theory of disease. Apparently, the mere existence of a philosophical reason does not make an idea true - we know all those "demon possessed" ideas were flat-out wrong.

There exist wonderfully compelling arguments for the truth of Islam, at least to those predisposed to them. Also, you will surely agree with us atheists that Islam is not a correct reading of reality. Taken together these two things tell us that you need something besides "sufficient philosophical reasons" before you accept an idea. From what you've said here and elsewhere, I'm sure it's the case that you reject the "sufficient philosophical reasons" for naturalism, the kind of complete materialism that I accept.

The thousand or so gods currently worshiped by man and the mutually exclusive and contradictory characters of those gods, show us that ignorance is the fertilizer for the breeding grounds of the gods. Gods are created to fill a human psychological need. When we thoughtfully peruse the landscape of the gods, yours being one of the many, we see that each of them germinated as a means to address a problem.

Sometimes the problem has been the desire to explain the natural world. Sometimes the problem has been social control. Somtimes the problem has been a cleric's personal financial concern. Gods have provided the means to address all of these and more, since gods are whatever their creators want them to be. Among all of the human concerns where gods have been proposed to address them, the only common factor is the human mind. The only factor shared by all religions and other systems of superstition is the human mind's susceptibility to being manipulated to another's purpose, the leader's purpose.

You are not compelled by "sufficient philosophical reasons" related to any number of issues including other religions, even other Christianities. You prefer abandoning yourself to the contentment you find in allowing your mind to be manipulated to another's purpose.

Tony Hoffman said...

Well said, Russ. Sure puts to lie the arrogant and dismissive "You wouldn't understand because you're so philosophically inept" claim-and-run of Al.