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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the which-one-is-the-sidekick dept.

Science 674

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dennis Overbye reports in the NY Times that two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science. Their adventure is now the subject of The Unbelievers, a new documentary. 'If you think a road trip with a pair of intellectuals wielding laptops is likely to lack drama, you haven't been keeping up with the culture wars,' writes Overbye. The scientists are mobbed at glamorous sites like the Sydney Opera House. Inside, they sometimes encounter clueless moderators; outside, demonstrators condemning them to hellfire. At one event, a group of male Muslim protesters are confronted by counterprotesters chanting, 'Where are your women?' 'Travelogue shots, perky editing and some popular rock music, as well as interview bits with such supportive celebrities as Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman and Ricky Gervais, shrewdly enliven the brainy — but accessible — discourse,' writes Gary Goldstein in the LA Times, 'but mostly the movie is an enjoyably high-minded love fest between two deeply committed intellectuals and the scads of atheists, secularists, free-thinkers, skeptics and activists who make up their rock star-like fan base.' The movie ends at the Reason Rally in Washington, billed as the largest convention of atheists in history. Dawkins looks out at the crowd standing in a light rain and pronounces it 'the most incredible sight I can remember ever seeing' and declares that too many people have been cowed out of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics. 'We are far more numerous than anybody realizes.'"

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religious and secular not mutually exclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656381)

You can be religious and be a secularist, that was a position of the Baptist Church in the New World since the beginning.

If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion ... (0, Troll)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 9 months ago | (#45656451)

Why don't they take their tour into the Middle East, maybe to countries such as Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Egypt ?

I'll like to see how successful they are in convincing the Muslims.

Stop telling the non-Muslims how defective religion is - most Christians and Buddhists that I know understand the role of religion (and when to NOT use religion).

Not so for the Muslims.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (5, Insightful)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 9 months ago | (#45656497)

most Christians and Buddhists that I know understand the role of religion (and when to NOT use religion).

Not so for the Muslims.

And how many Muslims do you know? Most Muslims also know when NOT to use religion. There are more than a billion of them - if half a billion of them did not know when to use it, I think we might have a tad bigger problem that we currently do.

Remember, the kooks you see on TV are like the kooks you see for other religions as well - they are the minority. Hell, the way faith is involved in politics in the US and informs policy decision (veiled as some other excuse) has done far more harm to the LGBT community than most other religions.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#45656571)

And how many Muslims do you know? Most Muslims also know when NOT to use religion.

The statistics from Britain, where something like 30% Muslims want the UK to become a SA-like theocracy, speak a little different. Or are you suggesting that the majority of Muslims in other countries is less extreme than those living in the relatively liberal UK?

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (3, Insightful)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 9 months ago | (#45656975)

The statistics from Britain, where something like 30% Muslims want the UK to become a SA-like theocracy, speak a little different. Or are you suggesting that the majority of Muslims in other countries is less extreme than those living in the relatively liberal UK?

That sounds like crap to me. Is there a credible, robust, citation to that?

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657087)

Depends on who's asking and who's reading it. Polls are notoriously unreliable. Social science has a long way to go.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657137)

Hope this helps [cbsnews.com] . Here [pewresearch.org] is some more. Think we can find similar numbers for any other religion?

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656603)

Scenario one) You've only had five twenty-minute cigarette breaks this morning and feel that there's imminent danger of actually having to work for your wages. Religion to the rescue!!! It's prayer time again. Off for a long hour.

Scenario two) You need to enroll an army of willing halfwits to kill themselves to further your own personal political agenda; Religion the the rescue!!! Fire up the hell-and-brimstone speech to arouse hatred of The Unbelievers [imdb.com] and pack your new army off to the airport with exploding jackets beneath robes.

Scenario three) Anyone?...

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (5, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 9 months ago | (#45656667)

And how many Muslims do you know?

In the thousands ?

And I am not kidding.

Of the people that I know many of them are Muslims.

Many of them are very bright, except for one thing - you just can NOT discuss religion (or faith) thing with them.

Unlike the Buddhists or Christians or Jews where you can have civil discussion, or even debates on matter pertaining to whether if there is a "God" or matter such as "If the different religion worship the same God" or the very act of suicide bombing killing the innocent can be call "a service to God" ... you just can't have such discussion with the Muslims.

My background being from a Communist country (during the time I left China it was VERY ANTI-RELIGION) I can see the point from *both* the anti-religion standpoint and from the "God is my savior" standpoint.

I can have civil discussion with the Jews, with the Buddhists, with the Hindus, and with the Christians, in matters that I outlined above, but so far, the Muslims just can't discuss it civilly.

For them, anything that "threaten" and/or "weaken" their "belief in Allah" is "blasphemous" --- and in the discussion, I certainly never even have the thought of "weaken their faith" at all, but the Muslims just don't take it kindly if anyone DARE to question their religion.

That is why I say, if those two scientists are REALLY SO CONCERN of the negative effect religion might do to human civilization, they should stop proselytizing in the street of Los Angeles or Sydney.

They should go to Saudi Arabia, or Yemen or Egypt or Tunisia or Iran, and try to make their point across to the Muslims.

Anything short of that they are preaching to the choir.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657057)

Well, that and the fact that LGBT is gross.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (2)

znanue (2782675) | about 9 months ago | (#45656567)

Stop telling the non-Muslims how defective religion is - most Christians and Buddhists that I know understand the role of religion (and when to NOT use religion).

Not so for the Muslims.

I think Dawkins would say the role of religion is not to exist. That he would say that theism works against our interests more than it helps, so he would say no Christians understand the proper role of religion.

As for the spirit of your statements, there are so many extreme Christians in the United States, quiverful, southern baptists, LDS, etc. and so many middle-class average Christians who toy with theocratic ideas, that there seems to be a very real reason to proselytize atheism, if that would be your political desire, as it is for Dawkins. I can see an argument being made that its more important to advance the quality, culturally and intellectually, of the first world countries than to focus on improving other countries.

There may also be more people who are susceptible to ideological conversion and more people who could be affected by their message generally in the "Western" world.

There are language and cultural barriers that would make it less useful to tour the middle east.

Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (4, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 9 months ago | (#45656749)

If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion ... Why don't they take their tour into the Middle East, maybe to countries such as Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Egypt ?

Maybe because atheism doesn't require martyrs? How is this +1Insightful?

Can't argue with a person of faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656387)

They believe, but you want them to understand. It's not going to work.

Not in netflix amazon prime (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 9 months ago | (#45656397)

Where is it available? Or it has not been finalized yet?

Re:Not in netflix amazon prime (4, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 9 months ago | (#45656415)

It has been screened at many places. Only one venue remains:

December 13-19, 2013: Quad Cinemas 34 West 13th Street New York City, NY (212) 255-8800

News on Blu-ray/DVD/iTunes/Netflix/VOD coming soon.

Re:Not in netflix amazon prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656581)

I'd really like to see this! I'm not near any area where it has been screened. Common Richard! I'd rent it off amazon.

I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656405)

What's to fear? I cheerily inform folks that I do not believe in their particular sky faery. Should I expect violence? Condemnation? Whatever.

If you're afraid to publicly affirm what you believe, you probably don't deserve your beliefs.

Re:I'm an atheist. (5, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 9 months ago | (#45656463)

You may experience violence if you voice your views in some countries.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45656485)

You may experience violence if you voice your views in some countries.

Like the United States of America, sadly...

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656513)

In the United States of America, voicing your views is considered violence. Violence is unacceptable. Demonstrate contrition immediately, citizen.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656623)

For example? Or did you just make it up.

But please, be afraid to criticize other (majority Muslim) countries where this does actually happen.

Coward.

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

bricko (1052210) | about 9 months ago | (#45656659)

Bull shit on the US being dangerous for your views.....where is this great danger that you cant voice your belief or nonbelief. Perhaps it might be here: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ [thereligionofpeace.com] Note the number of Islamist terror strikes just since 9/11, over 20,000. About how many Christian attacks have you encountered in this dangerous place - US? Lots of dumbfuckery going on in this short conversation.

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657121)

I'm going to post AC for this, because I have no desire to relive it. I have personally been beaten, and bodily thrown out of a door onto concrete, by multiple attackers, in an educational institution, in the US, for being what most people think of as atheist (though I don't actually believe you can prove the absence of something unfalsifiable in the first place, so I'm properly agnostic). Granted, I lived in the Bible Belt at the time, and didn't advertise the fact, but all it took was one person making a comment.

Re:I'm an atheist. (5, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45656517)

If you're afraid to publicly affirm what you believe, you probably don't deserve your beliefs.

>by Anonymous Coward

I agree.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656565)

Thanks, Mythosaz. Feel free to post your name and address any time you'd like to stop pretending that posting with your username is somehow less anonymous than posting as an AC.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656633)

Uh, the fact that you could reference him by name means it's less anonymous than posting as an anonymous coward.

Re:I'm an atheist. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656647)

*sigh*

You're right. I should have gone to all the trouble to sign up for an account with a bullshit moniker just so I can claim I'm "leetcoder007" or something instead of "anonymous coward", an account I'll use perhaps once or twice in my life, just because the first moniker is so much more declarative of who I really am versus the second, right?

I expect better from the people who post on the 'net's supposedly premier tech and nerd website.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656545)

Says the anonymous coward.

Re:I'm an atheist. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656563)

This is why I don't tell people I am an atheist. Most people who proclaim it make insulting comments about others beliefs, like "sky faery". I classify this not as atheism, but religion hating. I think there is a difference. I don't really talk about religion, or unicorns, or any number of things I don't believe in. It really never comes up in my day to day life with people.

That being said, I don't believe I have a monopoly on the truth. I think I am right, but my views have changed time and again throughout my life. I don't know I am right, so how can I tell someone else with certainty they are wrong? I don't want people telling me I am wrong and arguing with me because they think they are right, why wouldn't I do the same for others. Mostly though, I don't care. Their lives are not mine to live.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656663)

Somebody mod up please. That was great.

Re: I'm an atheist. (5, Funny)

JWW (79176) | about 9 months ago | (#45656689)

Great sentiment, well stated.

God bless you.

Re:I'm an atheist. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656695)

Again, I apologize. I should never denigrate your belief in a magical, invisible, physically-impossible grant-wishing space-dwelling "god" by referring it to as a "sky faery".

My deepest, most sincere apologies.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656715)

"So... anything else you don't believe in?"

-- Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), The Soloist

capcha: reproof

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

phrostie (121428) | about 9 months ago | (#45656933)

well said

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657021)

That's fine for you, but I'm gay, and the overwhelming majority of arguments against my freedom and rights have religion at their base. That is why religion, or at least the concept that religion has a place in the formation of public policy, must be countered at every turn.

I applaud Dawkins and Krauss, and while I agree that they and others can sometimes be insulting in their references to believers, insults are nothing compared to what religion does to us.

Re:I'm an atheist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657147)

Don't sell yourself short. You do have a monopoly on YOUR truth.

Do you constantly reexamine the existence of Santa? Do you often believe you flew home by flapping your hands then have to check?

No. You can make decisions about these things without feeling bad or responsible to ANYONE else.

Re:I'm an atheist. (4, Insightful)

xous (1009057) | about 9 months ago | (#45657159)

I am an atheist. It's not an organization, it's not a belief, and it certainly is not a fucking religion.

If they start annoying me with it I'm gonna troll the shit out of them. I do this all the time and if they don't want to be screwed with they should keep their trap shut and leave me the fuck alone.

I'd have no problem with it if they managed to keep their 'beliefs' to themselves but it seems they have to drag it into school, government, and every-fucking-where else they seem to think they have a right.
My problem with them is large majority vote whatever way their pastor tells them and believe whatever crap they interpret out of their religious text. There is nothing more dangerous that stupid people in large numbers with a book that tells them whatever they do is right and the will of whatever deity they worship.

Religion is a disease and sooner or later it will be destroyed or mankind by it.

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 9 months ago | (#45657169)

I tell someone else with certainty they are wrong?

I might not have a monopoly on truth but I can definitely tell some people with certainty they are wrong. There's a whole scale of wrongness and a lot of people frankly aren't even trying to be right.

Re:I'm an atheist. (2, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | about 9 months ago | (#45656673)

Should I expect violence? Condemnation? Whatever.

If I understand the Quran correctly, if what it says was strictly enforced, you'd be "invited" to convert to Islam, and if you refused you could eventually be killed.

Re:I'm an atheist. (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45657013)

Says the brave little Anonymous Coward . . .

save us from *all* pseudo-science (-1, Flamebait)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45656427)

IMHO, Dawkins has become as bad as Rush Limbaugh.

He insults everyone who believes in any possible supernatural entity by pigeonholing them into one group and using the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church's dogma as if it represents anyone who is not a hard atheist.

Science hasn't "disproven" the existence of *any* supernatural being, just as it hasn't "proven" the existence either.

Science cannot prove or disprove something that by its definition is *beyond* science...be it Yahweh, God, Buddah, Flying Spagetti Monster, Cthulu, Allah, Xenu, etc...

Science tests hypothesis that can lead to theories that explain our observations of the universe.

Now, Dawkins has an infinitely replentishable resource: Religious extremists who do not understand science.

He's taking that group, stoking them with rhetoric, then commercializing on how we **all** can't stand their ignorance. He's also not a reliable commentator on human rights/philosophy...I don't want to get tawdry but he's made comments that indicate he has a *strongly* Social Darwinistic view of "consent" and human choice.

I see the 'barnstorming roadtrip' in TFA as simply an advert for Dawkin's speaking

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656457)

Science doesn't need to disprove anything since there is no reason to believe in a god in the first place. Even if there is a god, it doesn't mean that any of the junk in the bible, koran, bhagavad gita, or harry potter is true.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (5, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45656525)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot [wikipedia.org]

Hard to explain it much better than that...

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656967)

Arguments about proof or disproof, or the burden of proof, miss the point. To Christians, "proof" of God's existence is irrelevant. It's like asking a parent to prove that they love their child, or like asking J K Rowling to prove that Harry Potter is a good read. The proper response is a blank stare, with options on laughing out loud at the extent to which the questioner just doesn't get it.

I have no interest in proving whether God does or doesn't exist. But why does it matter?

If that sentiment still baffles you, try substituting "free will" for "God". It's still true, and for precisely the same reasons: the concept itself is so poorly defined that proof one way or another would require so many assumptions and caveats that anyone who didn't want to believe it, would immediately laugh it out of court.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 9 months ago | (#45656591)

Science doesn't need anything, its science. The last thing I'd hope anyone would try using it to do, would be to prove an un-provable statement. That would seem to be the atheist version of heresy.

save us *all* pseudo-science (-1, Flamebait)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45656507)

Science doesn't disprove anything.

Adults who believe in imaginary friends are stupid, or suffering from disease. In either case, they need help.

Re:save us *all* pseudo-science (4, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | about 9 months ago | (#45656561)

Science doesn't disprove anything.

Isn't the only thing you actually can do in science? Disprove or fail to disprove, but there is no prove.

Re: save us *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657083)

You can measure, then whack around with the data using statistical methods. It's called "Social Science. "

Re:save us *all* pseudo-science (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 9 months ago | (#45657101)

Actually, it's the other way around. Take the Loch Ness Monster, for example. It can be clearly and obviously proven to exist: catch one, point to it and say "See, there it is!" It's very obvious proof. However, I cannot similarly disprove its existence: I cannot point to the absence of the monster and say "See, there it is not!" Perhaps the monster is just somewhere else you haven't yet looked?

You can disprove things too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657153)

If someone says "all trees are hollow inside," you can disprove that by opening up a few trees and showing that they are solid through and through.

Or if someone says "sound travels faster than light," this can easily be disproven by experiment.

Re:save us *all* pseudo-science (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 9 months ago | (#45657131)

I suppose you are technically correct in some narrow philosophical sense, for for all intents and purposes, science has proven innumerable facts: that DNA is the primary means of heritable traits, that the earth is round and orbits the sun; that disease spreads by microscopic organisms; that dinosaurs once roamed the earth, which is 4.5 billion years old; that smashing atoms together can quickly release vast energy; and on and on and on...

Science has also disproven many claims about god. True, as a totally abstract concept with no specific definition, god cannot be disproven. But as soon as scripture is written, it cannot help but make specific claims about the nature of god and the universe. In general those claims have not weathered well under the ever further-reaching methods of science.

Re:save us *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656931)

Science mostly disproves things. Adults who believe in imaginary friends probably have imaginary friends. The problem is if they believe their imaginary friends not to be imaginary; in other words: If they think that their imaginary friends share the physical realm with the rest of us, then they are mistaken. Science can easily disprove my assertion that my imaginary friend is physically standing in the room with me. It is far more difficult for Science to disprove my assertion that I have an imaginary friend, though I do not.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (5, Insightful)

GreatDrok (684119) | about 9 months ago | (#45656521)

"Science hasn't "disproven" the existence of *any* supernatural being, just as it hasn't "proven" the existence either."

It isn't up to science to disprove the existence of god or whatever you want to call it. As Sagan so eloquently put it "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and religion doesn't like to produce evidence.

On other hand though, when you look at how many gods mankind has believed in over the millennia (approximately 3000) the odds that the one particular god currently favoured is the right one is pretty darn small so as far as disproving it, no you're right, the particular favourite god of the moment (and this will change as it always does) may not be disproven, but it in no way stands out any more than all these other gods ever did and as such the probability that this god is any more real than any of the others is very tiny indeed. I certainly wouldn't go betting my life on being right about which one to pick.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 9 months ago | (#45656617)

What you have is two different world views, that lack a single frame of reference to have an honest dialog. Doing anything other than trying to establish such a frame of reference ( which is what Dawkins et all do), is fruitless.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45656753)

An honest dialog with a theologian? Most of the time, I have difficulty explaining the concept of an axiom (an assumption) to them, let alone getting them to realize that all statements fundamentally rely on them. Math grappled with this and formalized it over a century ago, and we're left with two main assumptions upon which the entirety of mathematics (and all of science by extension) are built. The difference here is that scientists can explicitly list the assumptions in their models, don't claim them to be the One Truth, and accept only falsifiable propositions beyond those axioms, whereas religious people seem incapable of accepting that their claims fundamentally rely on making one or more assumptions.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656883)

I have difficulty explaining the concept of an axiom (an assumption)

Like the assumption that empirically derived knowledge is superior to other sources? That it's even useful beyond the short term? Who's to say the laws of reality are as stable as we think? The belief that "science doesn't have empirical evidence of miracle X, therefore it can't have happened" is a silly belief.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45656917)

I think you missed the part where I stated that science makes its assumptions explicit rather than implicit. I didn't say anything about the validity of derived arguments from various sources of assumptions. I simply said that scientists make their assumptions explicit and religions deign not to, in general.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656821)

Except that the blowhard is successfully trying to frame it as "people who don't agree with my pomposity are violent lunatics".

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657033)

Why do you think that the favorite god of the moment will change? When has any other god but God of capital G fame ever had over 50% of the faith-share worldwide (Abrahamic religion). I don't disagree that mankind has believed in countless gods and does so to this day, I just find it more likely that mankind will either favor atheism/agnosticism or the one God. I doubt there will ever be another favorite. The scientific method has allowed us to discover that the world works its magics according to physical principals. The planet doesn't need constant intervention by the god of rain, the god of sun, the god of goats' milk, the god of purple lillies with yellow spots. No good reason for more than one god, and some think, "Why have God at all?"

My sky bully could kick your sky bully's ass... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 9 months ago | (#45656535)

Science hasn't "disproven" the existence of *any* supernatural being, just as it hasn't "proven" the existence either.

Science doesn't have to disprove their existence. The basic idea behind science is pretty simple: prove it or it isn't real. As soon as your system of though allows any claim to be made with out verification, sanity goes out the window. In science, were I to claim that PI = 3, I would be laughed at as a quack and an idiot, and yet people can claim that there is an ancient jewish zombie and an invisible sky bully that rule the universe and nobody will call them out for being bald faced liars.

Re:My sky bully could kick your sky bully's ass... (2)

Morpf (2683099) | about 9 months ago | (#45657075)

I would agree with many of your points, but: Do not mix up a mathematical proof with a "proof" in general science. ;)
A mathematical proof says something is or is not. There is no doubt (if we accept some axioms). In general "proofs" (better: validation) of theories describing nature can only say, something seems likely or unlikely (and to what extend). To be more specific: One formulates a hypothesis and a null hypothesis (often saying the effect described in the hypothesis is non-existent) and then look at the data and say whether one can show the null hypothesis to be highly unlikely. Your are not saying your hypothesis is right, your just saying the null hypothesis is likely wrong and your hypothesis _could_ explain why.

To support your claim: As we can we only say what likely is wrong, any theory has to be falsifiable. Everything else is not science. I can't say: "My god is out of reach of man and their tools, he can't be perceived or measured, neither it's actions. And science hasn't proven me wrong about it's existence, so it must exist." and expect science to take me serious, as it is impossible to (in)validate this claim with tools of science.

To the general topic: I have no problem of people being religious in general (as long those don't rub it under my nose all the time, play missionary or try to use it for their advantage), but there is a big misunderstanding about science, what it can achieve and how it works. On both ends. How often have I read post saying science is just another kind of religion. No it's not. Maybe some pseudo sciences make non-invalidatable claims, but definitely not natural sciences and mathematics. On the other hand people trying science to disprove religious believe will not succeed, for reasons mentioned above. The only thing you could do imho is to argue, why you consider it not reasonable to have religious believe.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 9 months ago | (#45656559)

Science cannot prove or disprove something that by its definition is *beyond* science

by definition? you are just making that up. that's bullshit.

our current understanding does not explain many things. that does not mean they are all part of the set of unknowable or non-understandable things.

other than that, I'm not sure what else 'beyond' could mean, in this context. what exactly _do_ you mean by 'beyond'?

how the believers define it (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45656777)

yes "by definition"

Yes, if you're talking about some teaching that is in dispute (existence of a 'god') then you have to look first to **those who believe in the thing** to define what it is they believe.

This is one of Dawkin's *biggest* shills...he pigeonholes anyone who isnt a hard atheist as believing in what Roman Catholics say. He makes *one* religious sect's views representative.

Classic straw man/red herring combo

But to definitions...it's a fools game to try to disprove a definition that is personal to every unique system yet uses the same term...'god'...some Jews teach that Yahweh or Hashim is a conscious entity that interacts with the world. Ex: The Burning Bush.

Some believe that it was an actual shrub that was on fire but did not get consumed, as the literal reading states...that is against science...

which would lead one to think that the literal account of a 'burning bush' was not true!

however, the believer can just put the whole quesiton into a bag, so to speak, and put a "supernatural miracle" label on it

it was a supernatural miracle by a supernatural being that functions beyond the laws of the universe as they see it

they can always that level of abstraction one step up the chain and say, "It was a miracle"

So just don't bother with the whole mess and ignore religious people who believe in God.

Now politics, say teaching Young-Earth creationism...that's **definitely** something we should all speak out against...but not b/c of 'atheism' but instead rally around science & the scientific method. Science and religion are separate things & one should not determine text teaching of the other in any combination!

It's a better argument b/c it avoids the false dictomies used by the opposition.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656971)

Science cannot prove or disprove something that by its definition is *beyond* science

by definition? you are just making that up. that's bullshit.

Uhhh, if I'm not mistaken, modern science is perdicated on naturalism. The idea is that ALL natural phenomena can ultimately be explained as due to the four known forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force). The existence of a God that can operate outside those four forces of nature is (ahem) "by definition" beyond science. Or so it would seem to me. Of course, this does not mean that the modern scientist has nothing to say to the modern theist. For example, it would be good for the modern theist to consider the reasons why the modern scientist is pretty certain that the Universe is ~15 billion years old and not 6000 years old. Or (again) so it would seem to me.

other than that, I'm not sure what else 'beyond' could mean, in this context. what exactly _do_ you mean by 'beyond'?

In this case, it could mean an effect which has no cause grounded in this Universe. I am not sure if that is what globaljustin meant, but that is one possibility. What other possibilities do you see for what he could have meant by "beyond"?

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (4, Insightful)

znanue (2782675) | about 9 months ago | (#45656595)

Dawkins can be obnoxious.

Rush Limbaugh is simultaneously obnoxious, obviously devoid of integrity in his stated purpose, and doesn't listen to the people he is meant to interview or debate. Oh, and he's a demagogue, intentionally playing against the passions and prejudices of his audience for personal gain.

Rush is worse

Rush is worse (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45656845)

Rush may be worse...but IMHO it's closer than at first glance

Peel Rush's language away and he's a pure opportunist out to hustle for money/fame/power/recognition. Rush doesn't believe what he spouts.

Now, to Dawkins. He isn't a pure shill, he's an academic with a consistent approach. He's reasonable in conversation.

However, I'd argue that *both* are equally offensive in how they misrepresent **the other viewpoint** not just to make a rhetorical point, but it is foundational to their philosophical orientation.

If science can't prove *or* disprove a supernatural god then what point does Dawkins have? Why would anyone read his books?

He's not saying anything that hasn't been said for centuries...he's just doing it *now* and with University titles, degrees, positions, etc that make his opinion sell to the layman.

Re:Rush is worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657029)

If science can't prove *or* disprove a supernatural god then what point does Dawkins have?

Science can disprove supernatural entitites - the ONLY entities which are beyond scientific investigation are those which lack any empirical effects.
The god of all man made religion have empirical effects, and are therefore within the purview of scientific investigation and disproof (and, for many or them, this has occurred - just look at the deity of young earth creationists for an obvious example).

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656643)

I stopped reading when you compared Dawkins to Limbaugh. You are clearly unhinged. You also apparently need to learn how to format text into a coherent sentence and paragraph structure.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (2)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#45656723)

I certainly am more comfortable being a god fearing agnostics. The problem with religion and those are are religious with non-religion is that spend too might time standing in the rain saying how religious they are. Even Jesus says you should go into your closet to pray if you don't want to be a hypocrite. And yes, the people of Reason Magazine tend to be as fixed in their manners and any religious zealot.

I would say, however, if ones beliefs are based on proof or disproof, then one is a pretty scary person. The one thing that I have come to learn is that my beliefs are exactly that, mine, and are not respective of anything that might be proved or disproved. This does not mean that science is beyond me. I am perfectly aware that when I flip a light switch I complete a circuit that heat up a filament(or excites a gas) that causes photons to be emitted. I do not believe that when I flip a switch that I am performing some ritual that causes the almighty to create light.

And even though I have worked through kepler's law, have worked out the deviations in the orbits classical and modern theories, I still believe that if no one dance the sun would not come back after winter. And I believe this not because no one can keep everyone from dancing at the solstice, but because it is pretty to think so. It matters not that reality does not fit the believe, or if no one else believes it. I am not going to go around supporting my ego by trying to convince everyone else it is true. I am not going to go out, like so many Christians, and kill those who do not believe, or kill children who might be effected by beliefs of others. I was raised to be content with my beliefs, and let other be content with thiers

So I will be grateful that there is such a wonderful place for us to live, and dance to express my thanks. I will pray in private and endeavor to treat people better than I expect to be treated, and sometimes just give people money because I can afford to, without any thought of how they will spend it. I will try not be attached to my stuff, as that absolutely leads to misery. I will remember that the world is somewhat effected by our actions, so if we want a world that is more to our liking, then we better in a way that could bring about such a world. Not expect others to live in a way that I would wish, because I can only be responsible for my actions, not others.

And if the people at reason magazine or the catholic church or the whereever are so insecure that need to demonize me, then so be it. I cannot be responsible for them.

Re:save us from *all* pseudo-science (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45656981)

I do not believe that when I flip a switch that I am performing some ritual that causes the almighty to create light.

I still believe that if no one dance the sun would not come back after winter.

I'm failing to see how the two scenarios aren't similar. For both, you were given, and did not personally discover, the model which describes them. Yet, despite claiming to believe the generally accepted model, you immediately give an example of how you disbelieve the generally accepted model, because it's "pretty".

You are a case study in why it's difficult to have rational discussions with irrational people. They'll only accept something once the odds are so overwhelmingly stacked against them that they'd look like idiots to their fellows irrationals. Arguments from emotion do not a rational discussion make.

Dawkins OK with torrents, so please seed! (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 9 months ago | (#45656489)

Re:Dawkins OK with torrents, so please seed! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656541)

Comments say it's just an interview, not the actual film. Just a heads up.

Disregard, wrong torrent. (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 9 months ago | (#45656935)

My bad.

Atheist Evangelism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656515)

Sounds like an anti-religion religion. I assume the goal was to get a lot of converts to atheism. Do they encourage their followers to read about science every day and share with others?

It all sounds so eerily familiar. Apparently the techniques of mass persuasion are pretty much universal.

Re:Atheist Evangelism (1)

znanue (2782675) | about 9 months ago | (#45656657)

Mass persuasion is a charged term. As is "ideology". Let us assume, probably correctly, that you believe a certain kind of culture is better than other cultures, then how do you express to people that they should agree? Persuasion on a large scale is a large part of what the United States tried to do when they printed a million common sense pamphlets. "Mass persuasion" is not a bad thing, surely, when we run ads to tell people to use condoms, wash your hands, avoid scams, etc.?

The point I'm trying to make is that Dawkins, and some other atheists, believe that theism is so noxious as to harm society relative to atheistic thinking. You can call it evangelism, or proselytization, or whatever you like. As to the eerieness of it all. How is it eerie if the arguments put forth for the persuasion are not agitprop but rather well-intentioned appeals to self-interest?

Re:Atheist Evangelism (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 months ago | (#45657061)

That's kind of how I feel about it. I don't believe in anything supernatural, period. But I don't need to join a club, go to meetings, fanboy some heros, and all that jazz. It starts to be a cult, even if not a religious cult.

Of course, rational argument isn't going to lever anyone out of religious beliefs, so maybe this kind of jazz is what is needed to break religion's stranglehold on public policy.

I suppose I'm just not the club-joining type.

The proselytizing Atheist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657145)

Yep. I call the ones that need to convert others to their "non-belief" proselytizing Atheists. Capitalization intentional.

Wrong way of doing things (2, Interesting)

Daetrin (576516) | about 9 months ago | (#45656587)

"two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science."

That is exactly the wrong way to do things. I'm not going to argue whether it is reasonable or not to believe in both science or religion, because regardless of that if you frame an argument as A is wrong and B is right then everyone who already believes in A is going to get defensive and angry and be even _less_ likely to accept B.

If that's not actually a misrepresentation and he's actually approaching the perceived problem by trying to bludgeon the opposing side into adopting his beliefs then he's doomed to failure, and the whole things is really just a "feel good" tour for atheists to feel superior about their "enlightened" beliefs.

Re:Wrong way of doing things (4, Insightful)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45656809)

If someone presents me with a well-formed logical argument that proves B (within an axiomatic framework obviously), but I believe A, I change my belief. This is what a rational being does. I don't get emotional about it, I simply adjust my model of reality. If there is no well-fomed logical argument within an axiomatic framework, I either ignore or refute it with a well-formed logical argument based in an axiomatic framework. (Phew, someone should invent a shorter way to say that...)

The sad part of this is that you're absolutely right. The vast majority of the people in the world lack the ability to think critically when it directly confronts a long-held viewpoint.

Re:Wrong way of doing things (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45657115)

I don't think that the intent is to convert the religious 'true believers', they're lost causes. There are an awful lot of people in the world, in all cultures, who have lost their faith in religion and feel alone and perhaps frightened of a life without the familiar restrictions. I live in Seattle now and there are plenty of non-theists here, but I used to live in Michigan and Florida and Peru. It can be a scary thing to grow up in a place where children are taught that atheists worship Satan and commit atrocities because they have no morality. These are the people that I hope this movie reaches.

Reason (3, Insightful)

Empiric (675968) | about 9 months ago | (#45656635)

First thing one should focus on to learn reason is logical fallacies, and the False Dichotomy, for example, "Reason versus religion", is right up toward the top.

What Dawkins et al are selling isn't reason, it's Logical Positivism, which has rather thoroughly run aground as of about 30 years ago. Not all questions are resolvable by empiricism and scientific method. Epistemology is far wider than that. Is rock music good? Prove it.

I'll get into the Reification Fallacy, that "not-X" is not something, it is nothing, regardless of what "X" is--including theism--another day.

Re:Reason (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 months ago | (#45657113)

First thing one should focus on to learn reason is logical fallacies, and the False Dichotomy, for example, "Reason versus religion", is right up toward the top.

I disagree. Anyone who actually reasons about their religion will shuck it in a heartbeat. There's not the slightest evidence to support one religion's claims vs. another's, so the only rational choice is to set your standard for evidence low and believe all of them, or set it high and reject all of them. And since they are mutually contradictory, reason requires you to throw one of those options out.

Religion is a culturally transmitted phenomenon, almost like language. It's no accident that if you know when and where a randomly selected person lives or lived you can predict both their language and religion with fairly high accuracy. Reason indicates that religion all about tradition, not about some objective reality.

Re:Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657155)

For the love of your chosen deity, learn logic, then statistics.

Does a man live on top of the clouds who can do magic? No.

And I don't need to prove anything. You do.

Road Tripping Bastards Promoting Atheism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656639)

Don't these sociopaths realize that people cling to their guns and religion? What happens when you take away their religion? Hmm?

But I jest. From an atheist viewpoint, religion serves a valuable purpose: to keep the real sociopaths in line. The only reason they don't run rampant is because they believe in Heaven/Hell, and God's omniscience. Atheists like Marx believe that religion is the opiate of the masses, but they're fools to tell anyone that!

Re:Road Tripping Bastards Promoting Atheism (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45657039)

I doubt they'd be a sociopath if they actually feared consequences. More likely, religion is a tool of sociopaths to manipulate non-sociopaths. Personally, I regard superstitious belief as the evolutionary result of having an incomplete model about the world, and failure to make correlations might result in you being eaten by a puma. As time goes on, and our models improve, we should work to eliminate superstitious beliefs that no longer match the model, and in many cases, are in themselves detrimental.

Re:Road Tripping Bastards Promoting Atheism (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 months ago | (#45657171)

Don't these sociopaths realize that people cling to their guns and religion? What happens when you take away their religion? Hmm?

But I jest. From an atheist viewpoint, religion serves a valuable purpose: to keep the real sociopaths in line. The only reason they don't run rampant is because they believe in Heaven/Hell, and God's omniscience.

Except for those who think that means they *should* run rampant.

Atheists like Marx believe that religion is the opiate of the masses, but they're fools to tell anyone that!

Yeah, I found his observation really offensive when I was a church-going schoolboy. But now I don't think many religious people even know what he meant: it's not about religion-as-a-drug, but rather about religion as a way to keep the masses under control. Apparently *lots* of famous leaders throughout history said the same thing, in their own words.

I vividly recall GWB at a memorial for some people he sent off to die in Iraq stating confidently that they were in a better place now. As if he (or anyone else) would actually know.

Apparently the neocons behind "intelligent design" were following the script from Plato's Republic: religious beliefs are good for the masses, though the Guardian class knows better. And they humbly consented to bear the burdens of being the Guardians and dealing with reality so the masses won't have to.

He is the idiot we need to be saved from (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656661)

Back in the middle ages, governments used the church to justify their corrupt dealings. If they bribed the church enough the leaders of the church would tell the people that their king was doing the "right thing". The church also accepted donations for sin. You commit adultry, pay the church a set fee and you were instantly forgiven. Martin Luther translated the bible to English to end a lot of this corruption of the church.

Today, goverments use scientists to justify their corrupt dealings. They need to control the people and take more of their belongings via taxes, lets pay a scientist to make stuff up that says what the goverment wants to do is the "right thing". They are not promoting basic physical science, they are promoting AWG and other proven junk sciene as a way to massivly increase taxes on the middle class and keep them down. You do somehting evil, like drive an SUV or fly privately? Now you can pay for your sins with carbon offset cards. Just like before we don't remove the sin, we just sell a way to feel bad about it.

Many of the "modern sciences" have become political and not scientific. The joke is on them, they are providing the SAME service to goverments as religion did hundreds of years ago. If they wanted to help they would produce actual reproducable sciene, not deleting data for AWG in fear that sceptics "might" find fault in their findings. You want science to grow? Remove the politics, right now your are just a blatent biased wing for a political party helping them to justify policies to keep people poor and dependent on goverment.

Re:He is the idiot we need to be saved from (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 9 months ago | (#45656733)

Can Slashdot implement an alternate to the 'Anonymous Coward' sig?

  I suggest 'Anonymous Nitwit'.

Complain, complain, complain.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656807)

you need a hobby. Other than /.

Re:He is the idiot we need to be saved from (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 9 months ago | (#45656979)

Um... I imagine if Martin Luther translated the bible to any language it was German, not English. King James was one of those who translated it to English.

As far as your rant against AWG, I thought American wire gauge [wikipedia.org] was not controversial.

Oh, I get it, you're talking about anthropogenic global warming. You know the beauty of science is that it's self correcting because it's based on an underlying reality that is not something that can be manipulated by humans. If the climate scientists are promulgating politically motivated science then sooner or later they will be found out and disgraced. The fact that there has been active opposition to their position for over 20 years and extremely active opposition for over a decade and they still haven't seriously dented the existing theory is an indication to me that the basics of climate science are probably good science. Maybe someone will come up with something like what plate tectonics was to geology but I wouldn't bet on it at this point.

Here we go.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656685)

START THE FLAME WARS!!!

Atheism is a religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656711)

People seem to think that not believing in a christianity, judaism or islam means that they have no beliefs. The belief in nothing is a belief. Religion is a collection of beliefs. Therefore atheism and agnosticism is a religion.

It could be argued that religion of atheism and agnostism has done more damage than any other.

Re:Atheism is a religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656909)

By your own logic, this makes agnosticism very much not a religion.

Re:Atheism is a religion (1, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 9 months ago | (#45656957)

I disagree with the idea that religion is merely a collection of beliefs (I would suggest that your definition is a necessary but not sufficient component of religion), but I do agree that atheism is a religion. After all, how can one believe that a supernatural power does not exist except through faith? We have no proven means for detecting supernatural powers. At best, we can provide a lack of evidence of a supernatural power in order to support the idea that one does not exist, but if a supernatural power exists in such a way that is not measurable or quantifiable (and, by its very nature, it would make sense that a supernatural power could not be readily measured by our natural instruments), that lack of evidence means absolutely nothing.

So, at the end of the day, while I would classify atheism as a religion, in that it is founded on a faith-based belief in the lack of a supernatural power, I would not classify agnosticism as such, since agnosticism merely acknowledges that we do not know, rather than making a claim to the contrary. Put differently, both theism and atheism make active claims, though in opposing directions, whereas agnosticism, in its simplest form, makes no claim, other than that it lacks sufficient knowledge. Some forms of agnosticism make the additional claim that we not only lack the knowledge, but that we are incapable of attaining it, which would mean making a faith-based claim, since we have no way of proving that we are incapable of attaining that knowledge.

Re:Atheism is a religion (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 9 months ago | (#45657067)

+5 Insightful. I, myself, am dictionary (simple) agnostic. There are things we do not understand, things that the best models available to us do not cover. This does not mean we should attempt to fill in the gaps for the sake of having something, anything in there. They should be left as gaps. Anything else is making an assumption. All models are based on assumptions/axioms, but making them gratuitously, and without making them explicit, is more harmful than helpful in the long run.

This is doomed to failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656785)

Most people are lazy and when it comes to actually thinking about something as opposed to having psuedoscience wrapped in religiousd claptrap as being ordained from on high or some other equally bullshit reason, the average meatsack out there will take the second option.

I could watch a documentary with Dawkins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45656879)

Or I could shoot myself in the head.
Of the two, the shooting choice is the far less annoying and insufferable.

Slashdot Trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657009)

Atheist trolls are just as bad as religious trolls. Non-productive, proving nothing except pats on one's own back are awesome.

Road-tripping atheists promoting atheism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45657063)

If atheism is such a positive, why hide it? Why wasn't this article titled "Road-tripping atheists promoting atheism"?

Iran or SA - maybe not. (2)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | about 9 months ago | (#45657089)

So why don't they take their road show to Iran or Saudi Arabia?
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