Thursday, 26 March 2009

Our stupidity may kill us, warns Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned us that we may ruin our 'material world' through our own stupidity. He says:
In the doomsday scenarios we are so often invited to contemplate, the ultimate tragedy is that a material world capable of being a manifestation in human hands of divine love is left to itself, as humanity is gradually choked, drowned or starved by its own stupidity.

This raises a couple of issues:

Firstly, if we are made in god's image why are we so stupid? If this scenario is played out it seems that he hasn't equipped us with the necessary tools to ensure our survival. It's a bit like the argument for belief in god; he has given insufficient reason (when that reason is applied *properly*) for us to believe in him, and yet we are to be punished for eternity for this demonstrable application of the reason *he* supposedly gave us. Doesn't seem fair to me.

Secondly, surely this scenario *fits* the very thing that his belief predicts; the end of time, the rapture. He is presumably welcoming it, so that all humanity can ascend to, er, heaven, or whatever? I think we should be told.

He goes on...

The disappearance of humanity from a globe no longer able to support it would be a terrible negation of God's purpose for a world in which created intelligence draws out the most transformative and rich possibilities in its material home.

Er, but, again, I thought that's what you believe is going to happen? See the Last Judgment.

As is true in various ways throughout the whole created order, humanity and its material context are made so that they may find fulfilment in their relationship. Without each other they are not themselves. And the deliberate human refusal of this shared vocation with and within the material order of things is thus an act of rebellion against the creator.

I really don't see how this ties in with the concept of heaven. He clearly says that humanity and the material context are not themselves without each other. So we aren't 'ourselves' in heaven, presumably?

Technology, Yannaras argues, is toxic when it forgets this artistic and transformational dimension – that is (in the terms I've been using here) when it loses its proper human intelligence. But it is a particular image used by Yannaras that perhaps expresses most simply what a Christian account of responsibility in our environment comes down to. In his book of meditations, Variations on the Song of Songs, he speaks of how love compels you to see things differently – to love 'the landscapes we have looked at together.'

I've seen a sort of new-worldy, hippyish tendency creeping into some apologist arguments recently, and this seems to be along the same lines. It's tapping into the vague distrust many members of the public have for science, because of a number of well publicised failures in science. They would like to think that intuition and feelings are automatically as valid as reason and evidence, so they appeal to an 'artistic', 'transcendent' truth.

This is wrong *because* of this wrong-headed notion that the truth is available to us. We may gain valuable insights about the world around us in any number of ways (reason, evidence, and, yes, artistic) , but we will not find the truth, just a working model. Once *everyone* finally understands that we will surely be closer to wiping out such sloppy thinking.

Another baffling speech from the Anglican main man.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Stoppard, cricket and ideas

An article in The Times drew my attention to this quote from Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing. The playwright Henry holds up a cricket bat: “This thing here,” he says, “which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor.

“It's for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel 200 yards in four seconds and all you've done is give it a knock like taking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly. What we're trying to do is write cricket bats. So that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock it might travel.”

What a marvellous allusion. I've noticed that gifted writers have this ability to take an idea and, with a perfectly turned phrase, 'give it a little knock..." so " might travel'.

I have a feeling I occasionally hit an idea over the boundary and into the long grass, never to be recovered.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Road to Perdition?

Timothy, a pleasant, comparatively harmless theist currently posting on RD.NET has asked for comments from posters on how they arrived at atheism, so I thought I would take the opportunity to document it on this blog. It's not terribly exciting, and, I suspect, probably very similar to a large proportion of atheists, certainly in Britain, where it's not a particularly controversial worldview. No death for apostasy here, thank, er, goodness.

I discussed my progress to atheism with a fellow atheist the other day, and we had similar experiences at Primary School. At around the age of 8 the complete *incoherence* of the Christian religion was really bugging me, although it wasn't the done thing to vocalise this too much. I just kept asking questions which had, and have, no satisfactory answer, so I was left unsatisfied. I *really* couldn't understand why grown-ups wasted their time on this foolishness. We both headed to Grammar School and were amazed to find obviously intelligent fellow classmates who believed in this bunkum.

Later in my teens I had some bright well-adjusted friends who were very religious - they were planning Theology College and possible priesthood! - and they persuaded me to give it another go. Being a teenager, I was receptive and really gave it a good shot.

Their approach, incidentally, to my rational objections, was to point out that a leap of faith was needed. Reason needed to be put aside, and one had to *trust* in Jesus Christ - be open to him. Well, I could sort of see this; I trusted my parents and my teachers (mostly!), why not the putative son of god? (It seems to me more common these days for apologists to present *rational* approaches to belief, although I've not discovered any persuasive arguments yet.)

So I immersed myself in the Good News Bible and generally enjoyed myself in bible study with my godly friends. I honestly thought I would find something different. Instead, there was a gradual realisation that there was no need for the religious *baggage*. These people weren't leading good lives because they were religious; they were leading religious lives because they were good. I honestly couldn't see that they would behave any differently if they weren't Christians. They would have been Hindus in India, Muslims in Indonesia and John Frummists in Vanuatu.

Furthermore, the teachings specific to Christianity *defied* belief, so that, as a rationalist, one had to wake up each day and put aside one's brain cells for any religious activities - one needed to keep *renewing* one's stupidity. The sensible things, like *some* of the moral teachings, were clearly possible without Christianity.

It was unsustainable, so, regretfully, I bade farewell to the theist life. Reason had won out! Later, as my thinking matured, I came to realise that we really cannot give credence to faith over reason, and we must fight against the perversion of reason to support faith. Whilst any individual must be free to believe what they like, in the public sphere, issues need to be decided on reason, and preferred options will always be the more reasonable options. In fact, this approach is essential for the ultimate well-being of the theist as well as the atheist.

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Thursday, 12 March 2009

BBC clips embeddable

This is just a short post to test the new BBC embeddable clips technology; below you should see a story on football internet piracy:

Obviously I'd never indulge in such a heinous crime!

I had to adjust the size of the object a little from the script the BBC supplied, to make the video fit this blog (the script can be got at by hovering over the SHARE button and selecting EMBED).

Cool, nonetheless.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Cherie Blair - The History of Christianity

Finally caught up to watch Cherie Blair's contribution to Channel 4's interesting The History of Christianity series (see Telegraph analysis)

Not as bad as I feared! As a part of a general demonstration of the benefit of religious belief, she mentioned the rather splendid Dietrich Bonhoeffer (right), who died for his stand against the Nazis in the Second World War. Chatted to a Roman Catholic priest (whose name escapes me) who seemed disturbed by the RC's move back to the right with Benny the 16th; she didn't seem interested in developing that particularly.She talked about the Church's ambivalence (!) to women, and had a heart to heart with the Archbishop of Westminster. Then went Stateside to examine some of the more successful churches over there. In conclusion, she asked that the Church update their attitude to things modern, and women. Some chance!

Cardinal O'Connor said

You take God out of society totally, and this is what some of the secularists and atheists want to do. Then it seems to me you have a society that's in my view very dangerous.

It seems to me that this is not going to happen, and I don't think that many atheists quite want that either (I certainly don't), but even if it did happen, would it be very dangerous?

There is surely nothing peculiarly Catholic about the beliefs that Cherie Blair has and which motivate her to do the good things she does (she recounted her younger days with the Young Christians). Anyone can, and does, do those things without a god belief, or with other god beliefs. It's the things she rails against that seem to me to be curiously Catholic: treatment of women, abortion, treatment of women, contraception, treatment of women, stance against embryonic research and treatment of women.

Which leads me to ask, why does she persist with the RC Church? She should drop it (I don't think for one moment that she would suddenly become immoral) and then continue leading her life without wasting her breath trying to affect the attitudes of one of the most paternalistic organisations in the world. In fact, famously she confesses to not following Catholic teachings on contraception, so why does she maintain this charade?

Obviously, only she can answer that. But one notes that the power of childhood indoctrination runs deep, and the history and traditions of many churches are a powerful draw. I have no doubt that anyone not brought up Catholic, but moral, could apply even more of their time to good work, without the unnecessary distractions of RC dogma.

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Monday, 9 March 2009

Theism and Atheism

Response to Webfogey:
Far too many strawmen for me to really consider you a 'lover of wisdom'; I hope you're not teaching your students such bad habits?

The image in the minds of people who make such remarks appears to be of a universe in which there are areas of darkness that are progressively being illuminated by the searchlight of science; and soon all these areas of darkness will be brilliantly lit; so God will disappear.

No, not necessarily - the sceptic doesn't know how much of the darkness will be illuminated - do you? And would you deny that full illumination is a possibility?

‘In principle’ unknowability is not simply a matter of gaps in our knowledge...

This paragraph may all be true; doesn't help with your god hypothesis, of course. I could equally say, how do you *know* these things will remain unknowable when *you* are positing the existence of the unknowable? Not too helpful for anyone's ontology, is it?

For the religious, by contrast, the notion that some aspects of the universe are unknown and unknowable is quite in order.

This is the funny one, and to an extent I agree that *some* apologists adopt this position. What is odd is that they don't *act* as if they acknowledge these unknown aspects. They are *not* humble about what is not known; they pronounce how the universe is, and, what's more, *why* it is! Incredible, isn’t it?

The non-religious, by contrast, are determined to understand everything by means of their own efforts and to eliminate all areas of unknowability from their consciousness, precisely by the use of these methods [of science]

Interestingly you say the ‘non-religious’ do this, but what about the ‘religious’? What methods do *they* use when they want to understand phenomena and exploit them, and predict effects? What’s that? The *scientific* method, do you say? Not a holy book? Really? Who’d have thought it?

The atheists, by contrast, flatly deny that their life can in any way continue after the dissolution of the body. They deny it because there is no empirical evidence for it, even though they understand that there could not be such evidence.

Woah! Remember, you teach the love of wisdom, steady with those strawmen. As you (almost) say, the sceptic just hasn’t seen any good evidence for it, that’s all. You *must* know there is an area between flatly denying the existence of something and agreeing the existence of something, surely? Otherwise there are an infinite number of non-existent things that you must be agreeing to the existence of; how do the *religious* treat the existence of things with no empirical evidence? Like Zeus, say? What’s that? They don’t think he exists? Pourquoi pas?

They deny that there is any higher form of life than the human, though they have no reason to deny this except to say again that there is no empirical evidence for its existence.

See above.

Far from being known in a scientific sense and controlled in an egotistical way, the areas of unknowability are the areas of divine counsels and it is from them that ‘salvation’ comes, i.e. the ability to progress to higher levels of existence.

But you don’t *know* that, by your own admission, so stop making things up. Is it too much to ask theists to stop making things up?

The atheists by contrast have to concede that the religious could after all be right, since the existence of God is only made impossible by the methods of enquiry used by science – methods called ‘naturalistic...

This is not true in two senses; firstly a ‘god’ could be defined in a way that makes it susceptible to scientific enquiry, so first, define your god; secondly, theists make claims that are empirical, and could be empirically tested, so these *are* susceptible to ‘naturalistic’ enquiry, even if an incoherent, supernatural god is posited.

Who is right on this subject is impossible to prove; but the percentage of people who feel at home in the universe, created and supported by it, as compared to the percentage of people who feel supported by their rational ego alone, is a crucial ratio.

Your final paragraph just seems to be another appeal to requiring that the universe conforms to how we want it to be rather than how it actually may be. A pointless observation.

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A few questions about heaven:

Where is it?

What timezone is it?

How exactly do non-corporeal minds, er, exist and, er, interact and stuff?

Do we have to mix with other 'people' in heaven? A lot of people are (were? had?) arseholes and I don't want to talk to them. Bad memories and all that.

Do souls have memories?

What church do souls go to on a Sunday?

Is there a Sunday?

Is there anything to *do*?

Is there any pleasure? If so, how?

Is there any pain? If not, wouldn't the pleasure become a bit... boring? For ever? But I don't want neck ache for eternity either.

Wouldn't *anything* become boring, for ever?

What is the point, exactly? That thing that theists always like to ask about Earth; why are we here, what's the meaning of our existence? What's the point of heaven, what's the meaning of our existence there?

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Religious 'Evolution'

From the wonderful article Jerry Coyne's Seeing and Believing:

Karl Giberson said

Empirical science does indeed trump revealed truth about the world as Galileo and Darwin showed only too clearly. But empirical science also trumps other empirical science. Einstein's dethronement of Newton was not the wholesale undermining of the scientific enterprise, even though it showed that science was clearly in error. It was, rather, a glorious and appropriately celebrated advance for science, albeit one not understood by most people. Why is this different than modern theology's near universal rejection of the tyrannical anthropomorphic deity of the Old Testament, so eloquently skewered by Dawkins? How is it that "science" is allowed to toss its historical baggage overboard when its best informed leaders decide to do so, even though the ideas continue to circulate on main street, but religion must forever be defined by the ancient baggage carried by its least informed?

This, for me, is actually one of the biggest reasons for being atheist. Giberson correctly points out that both scientific beliefs and religious beliefs have evolved, but then asks the question - why is science allowed to evolve but religion not?

The answer murders religious belief. Science *sets out* to uncover the reality around us with a rigorous methodology (the *only* reliable methodology we have); our knowledge remains provisional. *Naturally* scientific knowledge evolves, as new evidence is uncovered, and reason is applied. Religion *establishes* the truth of the matter, and its knowledge remains absolute. *Unnaturally* religious belief evolves as science contradicts the *established* truth. Scientific knowledge evolves smoothly on a synchromesh and religious belief bounces along on crude cogs.

Some would say I’m making a category error here; I’m not allowed to compare theism to science. But the only ontology we *can* throw any light on comes from science and reason, so the distinction is only brought up as a red herring. As Coyne says:

In the end, then, there is a fundamental distinction between scientific truths and religious truths, however you construe them. The difference rests on how you answer one question: how would I know if I were wrong?

Theists cannot know, scientists (dare I say, naturalists) can, in principle.

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Carrier and morality

From Richard Carrier, regarding apologists' reactions to his dismissal of the historical resurrection:

The second lamest argument ever made is the wicked threat: "There will be a 'time'," one thoughtful would-be savior of mine wrote, "when we will all have all the 'evidence' we need to prove our beliefs correct or wrong. By then it may be too late." This was the kindest way it was put by dozens of Christians. "I will dance with glee in Heaven as you roast in Hell!" said another. It surprises me that for all this man's devotion and sincerity, he somehow missed the most important lesson any man can learn: threats are the hallmark of a wicked creed. A God who would create a hell, or allow any good person to fall there by mere error, would be a wicked god by definition, and anyone who admired such a god would be just as wicked, and therefore those Christians who admire such are truly frightening. They have taken evil and called it good, under the banner of self-righteousness, and by this they justify the most horrible ideas and wishes--and then have the gall to pretend they believe in love.

Well said.

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Hume and Probability

Response to edulike comment on RD.NET, re the historicity of the resurrection:

You are taking the stance that "if there is any doubt, because of the incredible nature of the events depicted, then I will not believe they occurred until I have examined every shred of evidence".

*Absolutely* not.

Quite the contrary, I am open to the possibility that the events occurred. Because of the timescales we necessarily don't have the sort of evidence that could *prove* matters either way. So what do we do? As is often the case, David Hume provides the answer:

A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. In such conclusions as are founded on an infallible experience, he expects the event with the last degree of assurance, and regards his past experience as a full proof of the future existence of that event. In other cases, he proceeds with more caution: he weighs the opposite experiments: he considers which side is supported by the greater number of experiments: to that side he inclines, with doubt and hesitation; and when at last he fixes his judgement, the evidence exceeds not what we properly call probability. All probability, then, supposes an opposition of experiments and observations, where the one side is found to overbalance the other, and to produce a degree of evidence, proportioned to the superiority. A hundred instances or experiments on one side, and fifty on another, afford a doubtful expectation of any event; though a hundred uniform experiments, with only one that is contradictory, reasonably beget a pretty strong degree of assurance. In all cases, we must balance the opposite experiments, where they are opposite, and deduct the smaller number from the greater, in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence. (Of Miracles)

We have no choice, if we are being scientific, but to base our determination of the historical events based on what is most likely; *probability* has to be used. This is how all good historians *must* operate. This is not to exclude other explanations as *possible*; there are any number of possible explanations for stories we hear. What we are trying to establish is which is the most *reasonable* explanation.

So what is the effect of this principle? It is often stated as 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence', and *must* be the way to proceed, to be scientific.

You say:

Hence there are no words like certainty and probability in my reasoning.

Well, exclude certainty, perhaps, but if you don't use probability you are simply not acting scientifically. Now that may be fine for you, since you don't think you can answer this scientifically; but it's clear we *can* evaluate the *evidence* scientifically, and I can demonstrate your position is *less reasonable* than mine. Not *unreasonable*, necessarily, but less reasonable. You are adopting the NOMA principle beloved of scientists who believe; cognitive dissonance by another name :-).

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Occam's Razor

Some people object to Occam's Razor on the grounds that it dismisses more complex correct solutions. I think this is a misreading of its purpose. Einstein's famous quote on simplicity is often cited as:
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
The 'but no simpler' highlights why I think this view of the Razor is wrong.

Another way to state the Razor is:
Plurality should not be posited without necessity.
...which perhaps makes the point of the Razor clearer.

I can see that in some disciplines there may be problems when presented with a number of competing theories, so there may be practical problems with its *application*.

However, pragmatism dictates that scientists would never get anything done if they didn't proceed on the basis of *some* theory or other, so unless we have a better mechanism for this pragmatic selection, we are stuck with Occam. And I think people get a bit hung up with the idea that more complex ideas are *wrong* because of this; well, perhaps they're not, but we know that *all* the more complex explanations *are* wrong, apart from *one*, if the simplest explanation is wrong, so nearly all of them are right to be dismissed (subject to the 'partly-right' scenario described above).

It's plainly the case that the simpler explanation has *not* been the (fully) correct explanation in the past, eg Newtonian gravity cf Einsteinian gravity. But for scientists to accept Newtonian gravity and work on with that assumption is surely achieving more than not applying Occam's; for example, by assuming the more complex 'explanation' that god is effecting the attraction between objects (and there are an infinite number of more complex explanations; which do you choose?). The simpler explanation allows Einstein to move incrementally to GR, which I think one would have to agree doesn't flow easily from the 'god' hypothesis.

Its value is plain to see for me.

EDITED for clarity

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Howard Jacobson - The History of Christianity

Howard Jacobson made the case for the Jewish view of Jesus Christ in this Channel 4 documentary. I thought it was quite interesting, although I was aware of much of it already; he talked about Jesus' very Jewish life, his Jewish views, his Jewish disciples; the fact they were never baptised as Christians (!), his failure to fulfil prophecy. He was reclaiming Jesus for the Jews, as, I guess, they always have. Fair enough. Also talked about anti-semitism and the (long) history of blood libel (the RC church finally conceded in 1965 that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Christ).

Anyway, he concluded that

...whilst the holocaust cannot be called a Christian crime, Christians connived in it, but suffered in it too; the holocaust was a crime against humanity. But centuries of Christian vilification of Jews enabled it, clearing a path for irrational loathing in the hearts of men, burdening Jews with a mythic guilt it was almost a duty to avenge; for some Christians the holocaust was payback time.

Undeniable, I would say.

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Response to Dianelos Georgoudis comment on RD.NET:
So you think naturalists can't possibly believe in even *more* absurd things than theists can. That there are physical universes out there where you and I exist and where the Statue of Liberty every morning swims around Manhattan and then climbs back to her pedestal and quotes from the Bible in a booming voice - would you say that's *less* absurd than theistic beliefs? That there are universes out there where you and I will bodily rise after being dead for three days - that's also *less* absurd than theistic beliefs you think? Should I go on?

No, you shouldn't, since you are only betraying the flaws in your arguments. Listing a lot of strange *possible* scenarios for reality isn't going to help your case when speaking to *most* people (they've seen Jason and the Argonauts, you know!). *Your* proposition is that the reality we've uncovered by science is being maintained (for some reason) by a god, who is a person who is as perfect in all attributes as we can imagine, which means he must be perfectly stupid, perfectly red, perfectly epicene, since anyone can imagine that, who (for some reason) has given us a *material* universe to inhabit, in his mind (how?), rather than create us in his supernatural reality (whatever that is). This material universe he started, in his mind, 14 billion years ago, although he's timeless, so that's not a problem for him (but why bother with the time thing anyway, if being is possible without it? But how is it? Buggered if I know. But if he's timeless how does he interact with the temporal? Answers on a postcard, please); 10 billion or so years later the Earth is formed in a tiny corner of this vast (why? Is his mind mostly empty?) universe he's created. After much faffing around he creates life (? Or is the material universe responsible for abiogenesis? I presume you know DG, you think you know it all) and millions of species come and go on this pale blue dot (Why? Testing? Perhaps *conscious* life creator is not one of his perfect abilities?) until 200000 or 100000 years ago he finally cracks it and homo sapiens appears and then homo sapiens sapiens. He kills off other homo sapiens in case the *special* one thinks he's not so special, with his much coveted consciousness after all, and remember it's the consciousness that proves, err, that consciousness is fundamental reality (how again??). Millions of these special ones live short, horrid lives, full of fear and disease and ignorant of the one true god (Why? Surely their consciousness proves his existence - how again???). After thousands of years of this, the special ones have finally figured out farming and myth-making; one small tribe has even gone and decided that there is one true god (at f'ing last, he must have thought, how many more clues do they want? They're in my mind after all) but they are still screwing up good and proper, so he thinks: 'Christ knows why they can't figure out my perfect goodness, they seem to be just doing what *they* think is good, the heathens, my absolute perfection is obvious, I even put it on a stone and all - didn't mention stem cell research though, wasn't enough room - aha! That's it, Christ knows!' So he sends his son (who's him) down to put the record straight (still doesn't mention stem cell research) and to die (not really) for our sins (why?) and then be resurrected (but god can't die, can he?). And for good measure he does this in a primitive, backward part of the world, well away from scholars who could record the events as they happened, from different viewpoints and cultures, so there could be no dispute about the facts of the matter; this event is *so* important for the future of mankind that it's important to make sure that it's pretty damn hard to believe. Duh! And all for some vague need your god has for having lots of consciousnesses around who agree with him that he's the bee's knees (Why is that again?); so he's perfectly vain, too! And when all is said and done, you still haven’t got an explanation, because you have just magicked an uncaused being out of thin air to supposedly provide your explanation. Err, should I go on?

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Derren Brown - The System

Derren Brown made a program called The System that illustrates a couple of things about reality very well.

He tossed a coin ten times and it landed the same side all ten times. No camera tricks, so it was magic! Well, no, he filmed himself for a day tossing a coin and finally managed to come up with a sequence of 10 the same.

He also did a similar thing where it *looked* like he was the world's best tipster, giving a girl the winner of a number of races in a row. She was so convinced of his powers she borrowed thousands of pounds to put on his next tip. I won't give the game away, in case someone wants to watch it, but if you think about it's quite easy to tip the winner of any number of races in a row.

I think it's a good illustration of two things:
1) The passage of time can give rise to some very unlikely *looking* arrangements, which might appear to be designed, but have actually arisen through the accumulation of very small changes, and from a different perspective are almost bound to happen, and not unlikely at all.
2) People can be very easily taken in by these unlikely events and ascribe a 'magical' quality to them; when in fact the explanation is very ordinary. From such prosaic events can myth and legend spring.

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Atheist Lobby

In response to a comment from David Robertson on RD.NET:

Maybe its my warped sense of humour but I do find it hilarious that there is a lobby based on a philosophy which has no beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, tenets, principles. And why or how can an atheist lobby on sex education? I thought that atheism was just simply the absence of belief in God. That there are no atheist doctrines or policies. So what does a lobby for atheism lobby for? The right not to believe? But that right already exists. If there are no atheist policies or beliefs then what is the point of an atheist lobby?

(A number of secularists are concerned about the term 'atheism' and the idea of an 'atheist' lobby - Sam Harris has voiced this concern on numerous occasions.)

Whilst the specific concept of atheism is non-belief, by definition, it is untrue to say that any one atheist has no principles, policies, beliefs, tenets etc. They are just unlikely to be the same as the next atheist. I don't think this lack of a common dogma means that an atheist lobby is absurd, as some seem to imply. There are a number of 'anti' issue lobby groups that act as a broad church (sorry, seems like the best word!) for a number of views. The anti-apartheid movement lobbied for many years and included many varied thinkers. CND has over the years drawn support from many different strands of thinking.

And there are many interreligious organisations that have been created to promote harmony between different faiths and to provide a lobbying effort on behalf of 'faith', although they believe in different gods and creeds. Is that 'hilarious'? Some might say. But isn't the supposed 'hilarity' behind this comment the thought that a non-belief can't have a voice in society? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against racism because I'd met a racist and didn't believe in his preachings? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against sexism because I'd met a sexist and didn't believe in his preachings? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against anti-semitism because I'd met an anti-semite and didn't believe in his preachings? I think any of those lobbies would be popular without having any 'beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, tenets, principles' that defined them per se. After all, I'm sure all (I hope) here wouldn't object to any of these lobby groups, including the good folk at FCOS. I wouldn't be surpised if some of them are already involved in such things. 'Anti' lobbies have abounded, and I don't see why an anti god lobby should strike anyone as 'hilarious'. But, by definition, it will be a broad church (rats, used that word again).

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Linus's Blog

I've set up this blog as a place to store posts I've made elsewhere on the blogosphere, in the hubristic notion that they are worth preserving. And in case I forget what I've said in the past!

To that end, I'll post a few entries that are copies of old comments.

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