Home » Religion, Science » NAS at 85% atheists — Let’s bump it up to 100%

NAS at 85% atheists — Let’s bump it up to 100%

The presentations of the Beyond Belief 2006 conference recently held in San Diego are available at http://beyondbelief2006.org/Watch. Here is an excerpt from Session 2, which begins with a presentation from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium. At the conclusion of his talk (beginning at the 40:47 mark in the clip) is the following exchange:

Tyson: I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don’t. That’s really what we’ve got to address here. Otherwise the public is secondary to this. [Moderator then turns to the panel for responses.]

Larry Krauss: It’s hard to know how to respond to Neil, ever. But the question you asked about “Why 15%” disturbs me a little bit because of this other presumption that scientists are somehow not people and that they don’t have the same delusions — I mean, how many of them are pedophiles in the National Academy of Sciences? How many of them are Republicans? [laughter] And so, it would be amazing, of course, if it were zero. That would be the news story. But the point is I don’t think you’d expect them in general to view their religion as a bulwark against science or to view the need to fly into buildings or whatever. So the delusions or predilections are important to recognize, that scientists are people and are as full of delusions about every aspect of their life as everyone else. We all make up inventions so that we can rationalize our existence and why we are who we are.

Tyson: But Lawrence, if you can’t convert our colleagues, why do you have any hope that you’re going to convert the public?

Krauss: I don’t think we have to convert those people. They’re fine. That’s the point. They’re doing science. I don’t understand why you need to do that.

It’s rare for Larry Krauss to come across as the voice of reason in these debates. But that’s only because Tyson is by comparison so scary. Not only does Tyson want to “convert” his fellow scientists to atheism but he won’t be content with anything less than 100% conversion. I seem to recall past leaders who demanded that 100% of their subjects conform to the religion of the land on pain of death. Is this any different? But of course it is: that was religion, this is science!

Question: You think there might be some self-selection going on at the National Academy of Sciences?

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70 Responses to NAS at 85% atheists — Let’s bump it up to 100%

  1. Tyson has made some very disturbing comments of late. He is the reason I refuse to watch PBS’ Nova Science Now series (he’s the new host for this year.) I would urge others to boycott the show as well. This is further proof that deep down, I think, most Darwinists believe what they constantly claim isn’t the case. That undirected, purposeless, goal-less Darwinism equals atheism. That is THEIR goal- more atheists.

    You will also note the liberal connection as well. They basically liken being religous to being an idiot, or being a pedophile…or being Republican. I’ve noticed that conservatives are usually not on the Darwinist side of the issue, but rather are more connected to a telic process- that the world DOES have meaning and you are NOT an accident.

    Very troubling that Tyson would openly say his goal is to convert people to atheism with science. I can tell you one thing- I will never visit the Hayden Planetarium as long as he’s around. It’s amazing that this is what “science” has come to in our lifetimes.

  2. I think Ruse is right. They have left science in the dust and treat atheism as the world religion….

    Scared yet????

  3. Wouldn’t all these admissions be grounds to get materialism thrown out of science classes as a religion ? Surely if it is good for the goose it is good for the gander.

  4. This is all shaping up to be a far more interesting debate than just ID/evolution.

  5. Wouldn’t all these admissions be grounds to get materialism thrown out of science classes as a religion ? Surely if it is good for the goose it is good for the gander.

    Why would you think an atheist would play fair?

    As far as I know, the Bible is the only book prohibited by the courts from being used in schools.

    OK, the Lives of the Saints would probably be prohibited.

    And someone is going to say the Bible is not prohibited because you can teach it “as literature” or such.

    IOW, you can read from the Bible if the official message is that the book is not true.

  6. It’s fine for Krauss if scientists are “doing science” and still have faith in god? Well not really. It depends on whether or not those scientists speak out against materialist dogma and it’s grand unifying theory; evolution. If those scientists with faith (I believe it’s more then 15%, it’s like taking a poll of people asking them if they take drugs i.e. many will lie for fear of repercussions) don’t rock the darwinian boat then they are fine. Otherwise we get stuff like this from Krauss:

    The Real Target

    What is Intelligent Design, anyway? Examined closely, it doesn’t amount to much more than simply being opposed to evolution. Why oppose evolution? Now, that’s a more fundamental question, and when we study it closely, we recognize that evolution is a straw man. What people are challenging is science itself and the methods by which it investigates the universe.

    If scientists challenge evolution then it is a straw man aimed at obfuscating their real goal of challenging science. Of course what he really means is challenging materialism, challenging atheistic dogma as the substratum of the so called “scientific method” of the commited atheist. The irony is of course that the so called “scientific method” which Krauss and others like to tout as rational and unbiased is in reality opposed to science if that science contradicts a materialistic ontology. They are the ones who are really openly challenging science in their opposition to ID. They use every trick they can think of to misrepresent or ignore the science presented by pro ID advocates. Not only that but they also want to make sure that science which is contradictory to atheism be hidden from the general public by hook or by crook.

    Krauss said:

    So the delusions or predilections are important to recognize, that scientists are people and are as full of delusions about every aspect of their life as everyone else. We all make up inventions so that we can rationalize our existence and why we are who we are.

    It’s funny how he equates faith in god as something people make up in order to rationalize their lives. I wonder how he thinks that occurs? Can you decide to believe in something if you don’t believe in it? It just shows how little these guys know when it comes to the humanities and philosophy. These guys want to be the spiritual and philosophical leaders of society when in fact they are woefully ignorant of most anything beyond their limited fields of research and usually are not well rounded even in that.

  7. It’s fine for Krauss if scientists are “doing science” and still have faith in god? Well not really. It depends on whether or not those scientists speak out against materialist dogma and it’s grand unifying theory; evolution. If those scientists with faith (I believe it’s more then 15%, it’s like taking a poll of people asking them if they take illegal substances i.e. many will lie for fear of repercussions) don’t rock the darwinian boat then they are fine. Otherwise we get stuff like this from Krauss:

    The Real Target

    What is Intelligent Design, anyway? Examined closely, it doesn’t amount to much more than simply being opposed to evolution. Why oppose evolution? Now, that’s a more fundamental question, and when we study it closely, we recognize that evolution is a straw man. What people are challenging is science itself and the methods by which it investigates the universe.

    If scientists challenge evolution then it is a straw man aimed at obfuscating their real goal of challenging science. Of course what he really means is challenging materialism, challenging atheistic dogma as the substratum of the so called “scientific method” of the commited atheist. The irony is of course that the so called “scientific method” which Krauss and others like to tout as rational and unbiased is in reality opposed to science if that science contradicts a materialistic ontology. They are the ones who are really openly challenging science in their opposition to ID. They use every trick they can think of to misrepresent or ignore the science presented by pro ID advocates. Not only that but they also want to make sure that science which is contradictory to atheism be hidden from the general public by hook or by crook.

    Krauss said:

    So the delusions or predilections are important to recognize, that scientists are people and are as full of delusions about every aspect of their life as everyone else. We all make up inventions so that we can rationalize our existence and why we are who we are.

    It’s funny how he equates faith in god as something people make up in order to rationalize their lives. I wonder how he thinks that occurs? Can you decide to believe in something if you don’t believe in it? It just shows how little these guys know when it comes to the humanities and philosophy. These guys want to be the spiritual and philosophical leaders of society when in fact they are woefully ignorant of most anything beyond their limited fields of research and usually are not well rounded even in that.

  8. This type of so-called “science” is going to put itself right out of a job. It’s like these guys all suffer from a disease that makes them incapable of learning from the mistakes of history. The arrogance and elitism displayed by types like Tyson is astounding and IMHO rather foolish. But what do I know? I usually vote Republican.

  9. A bit off topic, but sort of related to the mindset of some people. I was watching the tail end of a National Geographic Channel show on Darwin (‘Was Darwin Wrong?’ was the title in the cable guide.) Anyhow- check out the final voiceover during the credits, and tell me science isn’t in a hole and needs to be dug out.

    This isn’t science, it’s atheistic philosophy pretending to be science. Notice the words in bold:

    “Natural selection not only explains the rich variety of the natural world, it’s the only rational explanation for it. From the color of flowers, to the fins of a whale. From a distance, the variety and richness of life is dazzling. It can seem almost like a miracle, but the real miracle is that simple natural laws can create such an extraordinary and varied world. And that one of nature’s own creations- the human mind- is capable of understanding the simple scientific truth of how we came to be here.”

    What room is there for God in the above quote? The human mind was created by natural selection. This is “simple scientific TRUTH.” This is the “only rational explanation” for it! Notice how they mention the word “miracles” in a subtle but obvious attempt to show that there’s no such thing as a miracle and their constant mention of simple natural laws- another attempt…this time to attempt to say “the supernatural doesn’t exist.”

    I’d also like to know how on earth anyone could say that a theorized history of life that includes one celled organisms slowly changing into human beings is anywhere NEAR “simple.” It’s so stupefiyingly UNsimple that it’s absurd to think it’s all an accident of nature. A pinch of genetic mistake here, a bit of mistake there- wahlah- a human!

    This isn’t science. It’s philosophy. It’s religion, in fact!

    The post here works to further prove the point I’m making with the Natl Geo. Channel nonsense. Don’t dare question Darwin. There’s no other rational explanation. To question Darwin is to be a lunatic. It’s all nature and “simple” laws that made you and your brain. If this is true- the old argument stands…how on earth do we know ANYTHING is true/fact/correct/right if this is all our minds are?

    Darwin didn’t conceive some brilliant idea. He merely, via “simple” natural laws had some chemicals mixing in his meat-filled head, and they, by random chance, combined and the words, following natural law involuntarily flowed from his mouth and his pen. Sounds so romantic when you use materialistic, atheistic, purposeless, accidental-worldview prose!

  10. shaner said:
    “I usually vote Republican.”

    Wow. You’re so pedophile-like! At least that’s the message I got from Krauss’ quotes!

  11. Not only does Tyson want to “convert” his fellow scientists to atheism but he won’t be content with anything less than 100% conversion.

    I think Francis “I invented science” Bacon said it best when he argued that the need athiests have to convert others stems from the insecurity of not actually being convinced of it themselves.

    It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man, than by this; that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it, within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened, by the consent of others. Nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects.

  12. Atheists are trying to get a revival going. Only problem is there is nothing to revive.

    These guys [Tyson, Dawkins, Provine, etc.] have completely lost touch with reality. They’ve lost it big time and now insist that everyone else loses it too! Probably so they won’t feel so lonely.

    Incomparable rampallian quislings who have died – from the neck up.

    “It’s only 99.9% of atheists that give such a bad reputation to the rest.”

    In 40 years of debating with atheists, I’ve never met one who was honest and open, who did not smarten up and abandon atheism.

  13. JasonTheGreek wrote:
    “Wow. You’re so pedophile-like! At least that’s the message I got from Krauss’ quotes!”

    Can’t blame my behavior on me – it’s just evolution at work preserving my selfish genes!

  14. It is a good thing to see Tyson making the kinds of statements he does. The more the better. One day soon those words and other like them will be used in court showing the reality about the nature of Darwinism. If the courts can be used to oust ID, they can be used to oust the Darwin religion.

  15. “I seem to recall past leaders who demanded that 100% of their subjects conform to the religion of the land on pain of death. Is this any different? But of course it is: that was religion, this is science!”
    Well, another obvious difference is that deGrasse Tyson is obviously not advocating the death of the “unconverted”, nor, as far as we know, any other kind of forcible conversion.

  16. Since Tyson, et.al., see this as a purely scientific question, then by all means lets press the science. This entire question can be settled easily. All Tyson and the 85% of the NAS membership that side with atheism have to do is explain how they know scientifically (not metaphysically or philosophically) that the properties of the cosmos are such that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect and that no actions taken by any sort of diety whatsosever could ever have empirically detectable consequences in nature, even in principle. Tyson could save a lot of time in converting the remaining 15% if he could, perhaps, provide the citations for the scientific research studies that confirm this hypothesis. I’d especially like to know what might falsify these hypothesis.

    Of course, if Tyson can’t provide any such scientific research studies, nor provide a way for such studies to be done, he might have to face the possibility that the 15% might have cause to try and “convert” the 85% the other way!!! That thought probably keeps him up nights!!

  17. The irony is of course that the so called “scientific method” which Krauss and others like to tout as rational and unbiased is in reality opposed to science if that science contradicts a materialistic ontology.

    I don’t see how science can contradict a materialistic ontology since by definition and practice science is materialistic.

    The question is, if the scientific method cannot point to an intelligent designer are the religious required to reject science (ie, oppose scientific methodology as a valid way of viewing the world)? If the answer is yes, ID is not science but merely a critique of evolution and the scientific method. Now, it is valid to critique the atheists by pointing out that it is foolish to accept the scientific method as the only way of understanding the universe. God is not outside the realm of human knowledge but He may very well be outside the realm of science.

    There is an intense desire for human beings to give God a job other than being God. Quite frankly, God doesn’t need us to help him spruce up His resume. The problem is, when you set yourself up either explicitly or implicitly to say that God is evident via the scientific method, the only loser is God. And I believe that that is what ID theory indeed sets up. Because if tomorrow morning we wake up and find out that science has proven William Dembski wrong, the faithful are either going to have to reject science or God.

    And of course the reason that evolution and not quantum mechanics is at the forefront of this debate is because evolution is intertwined with our humanity. But I say, bah. Science can tell us how and why we became homo sapiens and nothing more; religion tells us how and why we became human.

  18. Andrea- I can’t speak for Bill, but from his quote, I don’t see him claiming that Tyson said as much. He merely said there have been socities that demanded 100% adherence to an idea, and added that this lead to the situation where some of them demanded this or death.

    I don’t think anyone would conclude that Bill was saying Tyson or the other yahoos at the conference were threatening death or any type of violence unless we all convert to their atheism. The point, I think, was that there’s no difference between demanding 100% conversion to a particular religion as what Tyson is saying. Afterall, the US Supreme Court has ruled atheism a religion, if I’m not mistaken- so there is really no difference as far as I can tell. Just a demand to adhere to atheist religion as opposed to, say, Islam.

  19. mjb- here’s how I see it. If God exists, he would surely be outside of nature. He would be supernatural. We run into our first problem here- what is supernatural? If nature encompasses the universe and everything in it, then wouldn’t God be natural (as he would surely be partly in nature, even if he’s also outside of nature at the same time.) ??

    Supernatural is a meaningless term in my view. It simply means ‘something we don’t fully understand yet via science.’ Science isn’t the only way to gain knowledge as Tyson and his cohorts seem to think.

    If God is outside of nature, then Dawkins, Tyson, and others in their camp would have 2 choices. Conclude that God CAN be studied by science, or conlude that he cannot and then admit that it’s impossible, via science, to become an atheist this way. If science cannot study God, then you can hardly use science to say there is no God (Dawkins and his intellectually fulfilled atheist comment comes to mind!)

    I’d say that most people want to keep things into nice neat boxes such as “natural” and “supernatural” when these terms mean very little. If a scientist studies a claim of ghosts- he’s already concluded a priori that he cannot EVER possibly come up with thhe conclusion ‘this is real, it is a ghost.’ He can’t possibly do that, because before he even starts he says that his method cannot even touch the “supernatural.” So, we already know his conclusion will be “this is a natural phenomenon that can be explained through natural laws.”

    Many problems arise from the a priori assumptions that come along with the terms and the claims of what science can and cannot study.

  20. Supernatural is a meaningless term in my view. It simply means ’something we don’t fully understand yet via science.’

    Jason, I have to disagree. It means something we can never fully understand, something we have to take on faith.

  21. “Science can tell us how and why we became homo sapiens and nothing more….”

    Really!? I fail to see where science can tell us either. All science is able to do is compare similarities between the human body(DNA) to other animals. It’s a far cry from proving man is nothing but a glorified ape.

  22. “Jason, I have to disagree. It means something we can never fully understand, something we have to take on faith.” Like origins/ universe? What about light or quantum physics? This would included a lot that’s call science

  23. JasonTheGreek: “Supernatural is a meaningless term in my view. It simply means ’something we don’t fully understand yet via science.’ Science isn’t the only way to gain knowledge as Tyson and his cohorts seem to think.”

    I don’t know. Supernatural seems more to me than merely thing unknown to science thus far. I seems to me that some things are eternally beyond science, ie, beyond human reason. Science has no explanation for the “hard problem” of consciousness, and it it impossible to see how it ever could because the gulf will always exist between what is detectable by instruments and the actual experience I’m having as an instance of consciousness. There may be a correlation, but certainly not an “explanation.” Consciousness is “wholy other” than any rational concept about spacetime.

    To me, the states of consciousness are direct evidence that something “wholly other” than spacetime exists. Or else spacetime itself it so utterly and preposterously different than anything we can rationally process that it qualifies as a “wholly other” nature compared to the concepts we grapple with so far.

  24. First off let me say that I think it hideous and immoral for anyone to call for the deaths of others because of what they think inside their heads (aren’t we all doing to die soon enough?). But what concerns me is that there are many ways of calling for people’s deaths, even unintentionally.

    “If the courts can be used to oust ID, they can be used to oust the Darwin religion.” But then what? Where do we go from there? What model do we have for, say, fighting a global retrovirus like AIDS if not via a standard molecular phylogeny? What do we replace what we already know about AIDS with—Jonathan Wells’ “alternative” view?

    I ask this in all respect, because I’m trying to understand what people are for, not just against—and I feel a sense of urgency about other subjects than this particular debate, though this debate touches upon them. How big can this “big tent” be without embracing ideas that negatively impact the lives of real people?

    mjb2001 has also raised some good points in my opinion.

  25. mjb2001 you wrote

    I don’t see how science can contradict a materialistic ontology since by definition and practice science is materialistic.

    Well you prove my point by your biased definition of science. Science comes from the latin scienta: having knowledge. The atheist dogmatists want to change the meaning of science into “having knowledge of physical phenomena”. But even if we take that definition at face value and as a valid definition then still the evolutionist want to take that definition and put furthur restraints on it to mean “having knowledge of physical phenomena while rejecting all non physical causation”. This is because by the study of physical phenomena it is easy to conlcude that there was some type of non physical causation. The famous examples are in the work of archeologists or in the work of SETI. They both look for non physical (i.e. intelligence, thought) causation in order to explain physical phenomena (i.e intelligently caused radio signals as opposed to naturally occuring ones, intelligently crafted things as opposed to naturally occuring things).

    Essentially the atheist dogmatists want to define what science is or isn’t in order to push forward a materialistic ontology. Therefore they claim that even though ID may seemingly utilize the scientific method that in truth it is not science because the end result is non physical causation. Ironically their definition of science is in fact in direct contradiction to the actual defintion of the word.

    Science is supposed to be about discovering information, gaining knowledge about something. It is not supposed to be about repression of information if that information does not reinforce a previously held belief, if it does then it becomes the opposite of science; nescience. The materialistic agenda is to redefine the nature of what is rationally knowable. They want to eliminate non physical causation as part of the “scientific method” because they have an agenda to convert people to their belief system and to also keep people who believe as they do as part of the fold. They have a purely religious agenda. Just like Galileo was charged with heresy for advocating a heliocentric cosmology because it went against the views of the leaders of the church at that time, so also today and for some years now, the “official powers that be” that rule over public and most private education and science research have deemed non physical causation as something which cannot be explained and is therefore to be banished as heresy from the “scientific method”. This is like pretending that a comet heading straight towards earth is not real because we cannot figure out where it came from. Is that really “science” of the “scientific method”? Or is it a materialistic agenda masquerading as the “scientifc method”?

  26. JTG said,

    “If God is outside of nature, then Dawkins, Tyson, and others in their camp would have 2 choices [sic]. Conclude that God CAN be studied by science, or conlude that he cannot and then admit that it’s impossible, via science, to become an atheist this way. If science cannot study God, then you can hardly use science to say there is no God”

    If something doesn’t exist, surely it cannot be studied. It sounds as though your belief in God is obfuscating your logic here! It’s a trite comparison, of course, but substitute God for unicorns there and see if it still makes sense. For myself, I “converted” to atheism partly because of science – it seemed to me there was no longer any need for a God concept once one understood the concepts behind “NDE” and the like.

  27. DI or somebody should define what Supernatural means in ID theory.

  28. kharley471, ““If the courts can be used to oust ID, they can be used to oust the Darwin religion.” But then what? Where do we go from there? What model do we have for, say, fighting a global retrovirus like AIDS if not via a standard molecular phylogeny?”

    Nothing empirical should be ousted. Only the just-so stories and interpretations that are the evidence + atheistic (or anti-ID) materialism masquerading as science.

  29. But mike1962, what “just-so stories” are those? (Poor Rudyard Kipling, by the way.) That HIV causes AIDS? That in the absense of natural selection, neutral drift can efficiently produce protein binding sites alone? That the earth is 4.3 billion years old? And what is “empirical”? Wells’ idea that “centrioles are turbans”?

    I have not read as much of Dr. Dembski’s works as I would like to (due to work and school), but I have seen his online appearances and interviews in which he states no opposition to the idea of an old earth and the recent appearance of human beings, or even to evolution itself. He has stated emphatically that he is “not a creationist. ” I can understand why he, a Christian (and I was raised in a Christian home), would be alarmed at Tyson’s words. Speaking as an atheist, I don’t think that the entire human race will ever be converted to any one creed or philosophy and perhaps that is a good thing.

    But then, I’m not sure what to make of Dr. Dembski’s apparent tolerance of young earth creationism and his silence on the position of Jonathan Wells, who asserts that HIV does not cause AIDS. This position by Wells (and by others both left and right), if popularly adopted, could result in a health care disaster. We are seeing that in South Africa right now.

  30. Methodological naturalism does not automatically rule out intelligence, but it does rule out the supernatural, which I define as something that is not natural as opposed to just something we do not know about yet. So for example if a supernatural entity created life we may be able to infer intelligence but we are not able to attribute it to the supernatural, so it would be some unknown intlligent cause.

  31. I think, for the purpose of argument, one probably shouldn’t use the term “supernatural” very much at all. For the rationalist the word simply means “that which doesn’t exist.”

    I like to point out that many scientists interpret current cosmology to require much more than our humble set of dimensions in which we experience physical existence. Now the only access we can ever have on a purely rational level to these new (to us) axes of movement is through abstract mathematics. There is no hope of detecting any thing more than (quantum, say) effects in the here-and-now of anything “going on” in the outer out-there.

    Of course, no one can imagine what “before and after” or the conditions expressing cause and effect might be out there. But if the BBT is correct, there is or was (?) a condition within this “super-nature” at which or in which the poly-dimensional restriction or condensation which is our universe Was in some way not yet.

    (by Universe I use the functional meaning of the word: all that we can potentially detect using physical means.)

    Thus what one might call the Omniverse is demonstrably “there” and at least as real as our limited experience of it, what we grandiosely call the universe.

    Here we see Agency at work, for some kind of Agency produced our realm of existence out of or within(?) a higher, more extended existential potientiality. That which is by definition super-to-nature.

    Now the rationalist tries to rescue me from my slippery slope: “Now you’ll have scientists investigating haunted houses and whatnot…”

    No, lets just see where poly-dimensinal reality impinges with scientifically detectable evidence upon our universe. the Big-Bang cosmology, Strong Anthropic Principle, IDin biological systems, and fine-tuning of physical laws are some potential fields of observation IMO.

  32. IMHO, science itself becomes utterly uncompelling from the atheist’s view. What is so fascinating in learning about something that is utterly meaningless and random? Humans study music, not the noise coming from a factory.

    Why study science at all if it really is nothing more than listening to the random noises of the universe? But science as glimpses into the mind of God… that’s where things get interesting! The only thing an atheist can claim after discovering something new is “it ultimately means nothing.”

  33. 26. trystero57 // Dec 8th 2006 at 3:39 pm

    For myself, I “converted” to atheism partly because of science – it seemed to me there was no longer any need for a God concept once one understood the concepts behind “NDE” and the like.

    I respond with restraint, I hope.

    If atheism means materialism (belief that the physical universe is all there is) then,

    I “converted” to atheism partly because of science.

    is the same as saying:

    I stopped believing in non-physical reality partly because of the apparent results of methods which cannot investigate non-physical reality.

    which, by analogy becomes “I stopped believing in bacteria partly because I never saw any through my telescope.”

    it seemed to me there was no longer any need for a God concept once one understood the concepts behind “NDE” and the like.

    Who does need a God concept any more than a single person needs a spouse concept. Many have been converted to Theism without previously having some sort of felt need (intellectual/explanatory or otherwise) to believe in God. According to the accounts of many it was quite the opposite.

    As far as “the concepts behind “NDE” and the like.” The question seems to be whether the observed and measured facts fall in with these concepts as accomplice or as antagonists.

    Partly because of these facts, I believe in pre-biotic, pre-physical intelligence. And I am much more of a rationalist than I should like to admit.

    “It’s all in Lewis, all in Lewis, Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!”

  34. Levi, neither I nor any atheists I know believe that life is “utterly meaningless and random,” that it “ultimately means nothing.” How everlastingly weary I am of refuting this stereotype, and arguing with people who would tell me my own feelings. It’s unfair and a cop-out to caricature someone else’s experience as something shallow and dehumanized just to impress upon them that they are “wrong.” “Purpose” is not the same thing to everyone, and my sense of purpose is not disturbed by mind arising from matter (which indicates how I view “matter” differently that you do). Please don’t attribute qualities to me that I don’t possess if you do not wish atheists to do the same to believers.

    I still await an answer to my original question.

  35. “It’s funny how he equates faith in god as something people make up in order to rationalize their lives. I wonder how he thinks that occurs? Can you decide to believe in something if you don’t believe in it?”

    This statement makes no sense from a materialistic view. Even if you espouse compatabilism the idea that you can physically decide something is not possible becuase your choice was determined from your brain neurology, chemistry and quantum stuff happening deep within your brain cells. But, don’t worry its still your fault if you believe in religion…….?

  36. neither I nor any atheists I know believe that life is “utterly meaningless and random,” that it “ultimately means nothing.”

    Why not?

  37. “neither I nor any atheists I know believe that life is “utterly meaningless and random,” that it “ultimately means nothing.” How everlastingly weary I am of refuting this stereotype, and arguing with people who would tell me my own feelings.”

    That’s great, but sadly this is a perfect example of an atheist who has not used logic and reason to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that logic and reason are meaningless in the atheist’s world.

  38. It’s important that one is able to distinguish the term “atheist” from the terms “philosophical naturalist” and “philosophical materialist”. I believe all PM’s would have to be atheists. PN’s are generally considered to be atheists, but, of course, this depends on whether or not one considers a god to be “natural”. Furthermore, I see not reason why an atheist could not embrace an ontology which includes both “natural” and “supernaural” categories and excludes any being classified as a “god”. Naturalism is notoriously difficult to define because the line that seperates “natural” from “supernatural” tends to be arbitrary. The only person who it seems must necessarily exclude meaning from his ontology is the PM. If an atheist must be a PM, I have yet to see why.

  39. Furthermore, why should an atheist give a (beep) about what someone else believes? Where does this fit in a random mutation + natural selection evolutionary scenerio? Surely beliefs have an influence on a person’s actions which can affect all of humanity. However, in the long run, humanity either changes into something else or becomes extinct or eventually dies with the universe. Big deal … whatever.

    Even when it comes to science that truly enriches peoples lives and helps them become more productive and reproductive in their environment, why should an atheist push that on other people? After all, life has been evolving perfectly fine for billions of years without science, and since science seems to cause an increase in technology that manipulates ourselves and our environment it would seem that science is halting natural evolution, where the environment plays the key role.

    Why get mad at religion? There’s so much religion around, it must have been selected by nature for some evolutionary reason. Maybe it’s best for humanity and evolution in the long run that religion stays and science goes. It could make us tougher by evolving pemanent immunities and natural “in-body” technologies so that we won’t have to wimp out and rely on science. But then who’s says that evolution itself or the survival of the human race is even a “good” thing. Maybe only the survival of scientists is a “good” thing. Maybe, once the human race becomes extinct, then cows can move into our niche and evolve into something greater than we ever could, because they wouldn’t get caught up in halting evolution through science. I tell ‘ya, we’re the only ones holding back them cows from evolving.

    Who’s to know … who’s to tell …

    Che sara sara

  40. tribune7:Why not?

    How can life have no meaning, especially for artists/writers/dancers, who participate in life’s meaning (as opposed to just having it handed to us)? Living creature are active members in life, just as humans are active participants in democracy. Maybe there’s an intrinsic sense of purpose in creative people that is divorced from the need for authority (although I would argue that all people are in some way creative).

    Life is its own meaning. Unless, of course, your kid is dying of AIDS, and your government tells you that anyone who says it’s because of HIV is a ghastly materialist and is lying. Unless you’re a parent in Libya and your government tells you that five altruistic European nurses and a doctor awaiting execution “deliberately” infected your child in order to cover up the government’s own abysmal health care system. (The victims are called the Tripoli Six and several of us have blogged about them.)

    With those nurses and doctor in mind I’m still waiting for an answer to my original question about Dembski’s true attitude toward Wells’ assertions about HIV and AIDS.

    sadly this is a perfect example of an atheist who has not used logic and reason to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that logic and reason are meaningless in the atheist’s world

    “Sadly?” I’m a dancer but I don’t dance to any dirges. Logic and reason are fine, but life is to be lived, ultimately. If you’re sad that I’m not sad then I think you should try some dance lessons.

  41. kharley

    Please confine your comments to the topic of the thread. It isn’t HIV or Dembski’s opinion on HIV. If you want a soapbox for that topic find it somewhere else.

  42. CJYman,

    “Why get mad at religion? There’s so much religion around, it must have been selected by nature for some evolutionary reason. Maybe it’s best for humanity and evolution in the long run that religion stays and science goes.”

    I don’t believe that the content system of any of the established religions of the world can be known to be true. Yet, in another thread Gil Dodgen relates the effect in his life of his transformation from atheism to Christianity. This transformation has to be taken at face value and noted, no matter what it’s ultimate source. It has value. As you say, it was selected for a reason.

    Maybe it’s best for humanity that both religion and science stay and each perform their respective good for the sake of all.

  43. kharley471 –Life is its own meaning.

    Prove it.

  44. tribune7,

    If there is no objective reference from which one establishes reality, you can believe whatever you wish and you don’t have to prove
    anything.

  45. Prove it.

    Whoa!
    You mean, mathematically? Because that’s the only realm in which one “proves” things.

  46. bj — If there is no objective reference from which one establishes reality, you can believe whatever you wish

    If there is an objective reference, you can’t. Is there an objective reference?

  47. kharley471 –Prove it. . . You mean, mathematically?

    Upon what do you base your claim that life is its own meaning?

  48. tribune7,

    bj — If there is no objective reference from which one establishes reality, you can believe whatever you wish

    “If there is an objective reference, you can’t. Is there an objective reference?”

    Well, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? From my perspective, evidence points in that direction, but it’s exact nature is unknowable, hence my agnosticism.

  49. Well, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? ,/i>

    Exactly

    but it’s exact nature is unknowable

    Why would that make sense? If there is an objective reference, we are accountable to it. If it is unknowable, how would we know what we must do?

  50. Hi tribune7,

    “Why would that make sense? If there is an objective reference, we are accountable to it. If it is unknowable, how would we know what we must do?”

    I am only speaking for myself in my quest in believing that there is something that orients us in reality. For instance, our experience that there is a real difference between that which is good and that which isn’t. Also, there is a general wisdom in most all cultures about what is a wise way to live-an agreement across all religious systems. But, I do not know the ultimate source of this experience and these truths, and I do not know whether we are accountable to he/she/it, etc.

  51. But, I do not know the ultimate source of this experience and these truths,
    The source is findable. I found it :-)

  52. tribune7,

    “The source is findable. I found it ”

    Congratulations. I wish you the best.

  53. Upon what do you base your claim that life is its own meaning?

    I’ll try to keep it relatively short but let’s face it, I’ve been trying all my life to explain this to people I’ve grown up with. I don’t know that I base my view on anything because it’s always been true for me, even as a child. Life is an adventure and adventures are by definition open-ended.

    We learn by doing, and I think that we truly find meaning by doing, too. Purpose is co-emergent with creativity.

    Life is to be lived. Naturally this conflicts with the idea of a “fallen” world in which we avoid temptation. I was always more curious about the world than religion. People didn’t like it (especially for a girl), but I don’t know what to do about that.

    Who decides that they don’t buy into Christianity at age nine? I did. Was I “designed” that way? I doubt anyone would say that. And yet, my religious relatives ask me for advice all the time, because I’m happy, because I do the things they hesitate to do. Shouldn’t the situation be reversed if my life is meaningless?

    As you see this is a personal answer, rather than a philosophical template for others.

  54. I don’t know that I base my view on anything because it’s always been true for me, even as a child.

    Would you still have that same outlook if you were raised in Somilia or Saudi Arabia or North Korea?

  55. Anyone notice a pattern here in these post? Hint, look at several post above and below.

    Who is not present commenting here in their admonishment of NAS and these scientist? Who attacks ID, YECS, but then is noticeably absent here to defend Christ, or their brothers in Christ? Or at the very least join in rebuttal agaist such vile trash talking?

    Should not all Christians(of any theory) be outraged when someone like Krause twist the truth and effectively establishes Guilt by Association between pedophiles, Republicans, and Christians while the audience of “scientist” laughs?

    Loser, loser, and now “ignorant loser Christians too”? There will always be a few?

    Is this the Bill Maher Christian Hate Club of Sarcastic Scienctist?

    in disclosure; I’m Independent Christian.

    Attack ID, but whatever you do, don’t attack Atheist.

  56. Would you still have that same outlook if you were raised in Somilia or Saudi Arabia or North Korea?

    I have wondered that! I can’t answer that, because I don’t know.

    But considering the stories that my family tells of me when I was minus one it seems that no matter where I would have been raised I would have still been a headstrong little bundle of joy.

    Some of the Somali women I know tell me they prefer the U.S., for obvious political reasons, but also that here they can practice Islam the way that they want without warlord micromanaging, so there you are. I also know former Muslims not born in the U.S. who became atheists. Nature v. nurture, beats me.

  57. kharley

    There are many examples of cultures where the majority were religious and prospered for hundreds or thousands of years.

    There are no examples of cultures where the majority were atheist and prospered for hundreds or thousands of years.

    We know that belief in a higher authority who sees everything we do, knows everything we think, and will judge us after we depart this plane of existence has an influence on how we choose between what we as individuals know is right and know is wrong. What will happen to a culture that wholly or largely adopts the belief that threat of manmade law & punishment is the only consequence of choosing wrong instead of right?

    That is the question we ask. We don’t know the answer to that and I for one don’t care to participate in making my culture a test bed for what happens when humanity is elevated to the highest authority in the universe. The principle that a higher authority exists is a cornerstone of the culture that established the United States of America and we are doing very well by it. Forty-five state constitutions attest to the fact America was founded upon this principle. Yet post-modernists would have us abandon it for some untested principle that a majority will do the right thing absent the belief in a higher authority.

    Note this has nothing to with the truth of falsity of religious belief. It is all about the practical consequences of presence or absence of that belief in any given culture.

  58. kharley

    There are countless churches in the United States ranging from neighborhood congregations with dozens of members to national organizations with millions of members. It is almost a rule that these churches engage in voluntary charitable activities.

    Given that 10% of the population are positive atheists and 80% are Judeo-Christian one might reasonably presume that if atheism is as inherently interested in helping those less fortunate then for every eight charity programs run by Judeo-Christian organizations there be one charity program run by atheist organizations.

    Where are all the voluntary atheist-run charitable programs? I’m not saying they don’t exist in proportionate number but I sure can’t point to them. Can help me out by listing those you know of?

  59. Okay, I swear I’ll shut up after this.

    You’re not going to like it but I think all law is manmade, because religions are manmade.

    I for one don’t care to participate in making my culture a test bed for what happens when humanity is elevated to the highest authority in the universe.

    But that will never happen. There is an objective reality and I believe in it. We’re subject to it. That’s why humans do science.

    The principle that a higher authority exists is a cornerstone of the culture that established the United States of America and we are doing very well by it.

    My whole point is the U.S. of A. is full of people who don’t do well by it, who must endure the multiple attempted makeovers of us by conventional minds who seem more horrified by artistic children than delinquent ones (because people love dead artists who were denounced in their time, but feel they must denounce living artists in our time).

    I got the message: I am “lost.” My soul is “in peril.” That’s not news to me. Believe me.

  60. I don’t think atheists are inclined to give away their money away. There is no reason to. It takes a more than just a good mood to get people in general to give away 10% of their income.

    Then again, evolution explains altruism. (more specifically it gives an explanation for, not necessarily a true one) Must have been good for society therefore religious societies persist and no atheistic societies survived.

    Maybe the war against religion is ultimately a self-defeating battle. Perhaps you can’t beat religion without creating a new one. How does one justify altruism scientifically?

  61. Oh, dang, I said I’d shut up, but here goes:

    The American Cancer Society and the Red Cross are non-religious charities. The Red Cross http://www.redcross.org was founded by deist-Unitarian, Clara Barton. There is also http://www.networkforgood.org which has both secular and religious charities listed.

    I have two sponsor children through Children International and I give to any organization that promises to help all people. I also belong to SPLC, Medecins sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. Minnesota Atheists is having a fundraiser for Katahdin, which works with at-risk youth. (It should be noted that some organizations refuse $$ from atheists.)

    These aren’t strictly “atheist” charities but atheists don’t object to partnering with others of a different persuasion. However, American Atheists, the Council for Secular Humanism, American Humanist Association and other similar organizations were very active in promoting charity toward the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    I work for a non-profit and there’s always a substantion overhead involved in forming one–plus admin. staff–ugh. If they’re not volunteers one has to pay them!

    I don’t think atheists are inclined to give away their money away.

    Oh yeah, because we’re not human beings! I forgot.

    Why do I even try?

  62. WinglesS–by the way, even if what you’ve said were true at all:

    “The truth that’s told with bad intent
    beats all the lies you can invent.”
    –William Blake

    I need no justification for altruism. “It is the action which shapes the thought.”
    –Antonin Artaud

    Take care, DaveScot. This is farewell.

  63. kharley, you are carefree and that’s how young people should be but keep in mind that the reason you can be carefree is that a lot of people aren’t.

    One of those days you will have cares, and life is not going to seem an adventure. You will likely find broken trust and heartache in love or business or law or politics.

    When that should happen, rather than give in to disillusion, remember that Jesus’ sacrifice was real and that He loves you.

  64. “Oh yeah, because we’re not human beings! I forgot.

    Why do I even try?” – kharley471

    For a single person to give money away without grounds is also not hard to find. Or for a person to give money away on a whim isn’t hard to find either. For the populace in general to give money away consistently is another. I didn’t say that altruism is impossible for an atheist. It’s not impossible, but it’s impossible to justify consistently.

  65. kharley471,

    Reality check. Red Cross was founded by Jean-Henry Dunant. I can only imagine why he came up with the symbol of the Cross.

    http://www.informatics.org/redcross/history.html

    “Few people realize that Jean Henri Dunant was also one of the founders of the World Alliance of YMCAs(young mens Christian association) in Paris in 1855. Dunant started very humbly by inviting a few friends to meet regularly at his house to study the Bible, to encourage each other in good works, and to bring about a spiritual awakening among young people.” () parens emphasis mine.

    Anyone ever hear of the Geneva Convention?

    What is a Deist? Curious how Kharley472 see’s it. Because there are various definitions.

    “Clara had, however, a favorite phrase she often quoted, “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).”

    Interesting she found inspiration in the Bible. Many people considered her anti-Christ from a Pharasee point of view(she did not attend church regularly).

    But what were her actions and words while not in church?

    “I suppose I am not what the world denominates a church woman. I lay no claims to it. I firmly believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Jesus of Nazareth, in his life and death, of suffering to save the world from sin, so far as in His power to do.”

    “Further proof of Clara’s reliance on God can be found in a favorite Bible passage she often quoted: “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). In reference to this verse Clara said, “I never in my life performed a day’s work in the field that was not grounded on that one little sentence, and that it did not come to me hourly till kindly sleep brought relief to both body and soul.”"

    “She often declared that her Lord’s approbation and good will were her final reward. “If acceptable to Him who gave us the courage, protection, and strength to perform it, we need care little more.” Clara never failed to give credit and the glory for her many accomplishments to God. It was usual for her, at the end of any relief project, to hold a service giving thanks to and praising God.”"
    Philip L. Jewett, 1998, Spirituality Today,
    http://www.spiritualitytoday.o.....ewett.html

    Whatever she was, deist, etc., she was obviously inspired and gave reverance to the Lord. The very words of Yeshua she went to sleep with at night.

  66. kharley471, “what just-so stories?”

    Oh, how about this one:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/...../1135013v1

  67. Anything is possible in fiction.

  68. DaveScot said, There are many examples of cultures where the majority were religious and prospered for hundreds or thousands of years.Quite so. Culture comes from “cult”, there is no culture without a foundational religion. Atheists are free riders on cultures. You need a working culture first before you can start indulging the intellectual luxury.

  69. The most recent study in Nature 1997 recorded only 7% of NAS fellows as believing in a personal God.

    http://grove.ufl.edu/~dmorgan/.....201997.pdf

  70. I don’t think Neil had the intention of forcing people to become atheist, he was just puzzled at how can someone be a scientist and believe in God. I think Lawrence was saying that people are never going to agree on everything. I think the term atheist is the most abused word. It can not be compared as a religious belief as they may have a belief in Buddhism or secularism, humanism or just nothing at all. Atheist may not follow any practices or rituals. If someone who doesn’t believe in Islam what does it make them?

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