Live-blogging: ‘The God Delusion”

Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” is on Midmorning this morning. I’m thinking people are going to need an outlet to react to what he has to say, so News Cut will step into the line of fire. Dawkins says atheists should be just as forthright in their views as those who believe God is real.

I’m not in the studio so please don’t use the blog to get questions to Dawkins. Use the comments section to discuss his assertions.

9:08 a.m. – Dawkins and Miller mix it up over her assertion that he’s recruiting people to become atheists. “In the preface I was stating my wildest dreams, but I hadn’t realized the extent to which atheists are in the closet waiting to be called out.” By the way, here’s his Web site.

9:11 a.m. – “Why is it so important?” Miller asks. “Truth matters,” Dawkins says, which brings up a constant struggle for me in matters of religion. Both sides of this equation say it’s “the truth.” But how we do know?

9:12 – Why does Dawkins choose to describe God as people’s “imaginary friend?” He says the claim of a universal power “who put things in motion” is an impingement on science.

Miller says the description of “imaginary friend” makes it sound “infantile.” Dawkins says it should.

9:17 a.m. “It’s not up to me to provide the evidence,” Dawkins says.

He says the idea that Jesus died for our sins is “obvious nonsense.” OK, where does this conversation go after that?

9:22 a.m. – Dawkins says believers mix doubt and belief inconsistently. “You have just suggested that somebody who begins by saying ‘I don’t know,’ then says ‘and I know Jesus was raised by the dead and born to a version…. It’s the Christians who say ‘beyond a doubt…'”

9:25 a.m. – “Why do you bother to call yourself a Christian instead of saying you believe in a higher power. He suggests it’s more intellectually honest to say one believes in a higher power but can’t be sure,” he says to a caller.

9:27 a.m. – A caller rejects the notion that beautiful things are a sign of God. “Why can’t they just be beautiful in and of themselves?” she says.

9:29 a.m. – There is growing evidence for a kind of universal morality which transcends different religious traditions.Things like The Golden Rule, are — if not universal — extremely widespread. There’s increasing evidence they’re part of our brain heritage.

9:30 a.m. – Caller: “We don’t all believe that there was a virgin birth etc., but those things aren’t required to believe in the message. You can’t lump all believers of God into the Christian fundamentalist camp.”

Dawkins, however, says mystery is something to be solved, not something to revel in.

9:33 a.m. – Says some mysteries will never be solved. Pressed on the question of what is “truth,” he says he’s criticizing the attitude that “I love mystery. You’re spoiling it for us.”

“Might it be an insolvable mystery?” Kerri asks.

9:35 a.m. -“I believe it’s worth working on,” he says. He says the answers may come from neuroscience and computers. “Computers are capable of feats of mimicry of mental process. We will have man-made computers that are conscious in the same way we are.”

9:41 a.m. Caller: “I’m sick of this nonsense called religion.” But says people who declare “God doesn’t exist” are as arrogant as those who say “God exists.”

“I am not certain there is no God,” Dawkins replies. “No scientist should say categorically, ‘there is no anything.’ You have to doubt everything and be open to evidence. There could be a supernatural being — I bet there is a superhuman being somewhere in the universe.”

9:46 a.m. Relays the story of the night P.Z. Myers got expelled from the Minneapolis screening of Expelled, a film about Creationism.

Here’s the NY Times version.

9:49 a.m. – Caller: What came before the Big Bang. Also relays a story about a near-death experience by a relative.

“I’m not a physicist so I can’t answer the question,” he said about the Big Bang. He says whatever came before is a big mystery and it’s not going to be helped “by postulating divine intelligence.”

9:51 a.m. – Kerri asks if Dawkins believes his convictions will be as strong on the day he dies?

I’m not convinced of anything. I can’t say categorically that there is no life after death. It seems implausible. Brains don’t survive death and they evolve over millions of years. He says it is implausible to say that when your brain dies, your spirit goes on.

Dawkins is speaking tonight at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.

Audio of today’s interview will be available shortly.

  • brian

    “Dawkins says atheists should be just as forthright in their views as those who believe God is real.”

    I don’t agree with a lot of what Dawkins says, but with this I heartily agree. Not believing in God isn’t something to be ashamed of.

    That said, I don’t think getting in arguments about it all the time helps anything either.

  • Bob- Your bias on this story is pretty clear. If you’ve read any Dawkins you know his argument in regards to “Both sides of this equation say it’s ‘the truth.’ But how we do know?”

    Well, one is rooted in facts, science and reality and the other is rooted in faith.

  • brian

    “Well, one is rooted in facts, science and reality and the other is rooted in faith.”

    Atheism isn’t rooted in science any more than Theism is. I think arguing that it is just makes religious people not want to listen to science.

    I think the truth we need to worry about is the fact that being Atheist is a perfectly reasonable thing to be. And there are a lot more out there then we think.

  • “Atheism isn’t rooted in science any more than Theism is. I think arguing that it is just makes religious people not want to listen to science.”

    I would agree to that. That said, Theism does require the ignoring of some science (and history) while Atheism doesn’t.

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob- Your bias on this story is pretty clear.

    I never put much stock in people who tell me my bias is clear without engaging in a conversation first. Sorry. I’m not taking the bait.

    That assertion is meant to stop a conversation, not start one.

    You’re far, far more qualified to discuss what you believe than what you think I do.

  • In a related online discussion, Richard B commented,

    This is a tough argument for any person that has a desire to change another to a different belief system. Atheism is in itself a belief system just as Hinduism. One doesn’t see any Hindu folk trying to convert another, so why would an Atheist even want to convert another is a mystery to me.

    I have to wonder about the inherent desire to persuade.

    -Julia Schrenkler

  • //He says the idea that Jesus died for our sins is “obvious nonsense.” OK, where does this conversation go after that?

    Well, maybe it is obvious nonsense. Why not have a conversation about it instead of asserting that there isn’t anywhere to go?

  • Rich

    Kerri seems to have some vendetta against this guy. Instead of helping listeners understand what his views/beliefs are, she comes across as offended and her questions seem to quite personal.

    I’m saddened that it’s so easy to determine Kerri’s positions on issues. She’s not a good interviewer.

  • Joe Moats

    I am going to see Mr. Dawkins this evening. I’m hoping the mpr staff is reading this because I have an awesome question.

    In the second chapter of The God Delusion, Mr. Dawkins makes quite a statement about the literary version of god. I cant think of another character in literature quite as nasty as the god of Abraham. I know Ms. Miller is quite a literary critic and likes to read, What does Kerri Miller think about that statement that Mr. Dawkins made. The Dawkins excerpt is below.

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

  • Karen

    Richard Dawkins opens up our eyes to consider the possibility that centuries of promoting our traditions have blinded us to the nature of our world and therefore divided us up into ethnicities and religions which plants the seeds of war.

    It has also clouded the reality that religion can get in the way of morality as in the example that some religious people refuse to hand out condoms in Aids infested regions of Africa… whereas non-religious people have no problem with doing what is right.

  • Joanna

    Independent of the actual arguments about truth and belief, which don’t interest me that much, I’m fascinated by the contrast in rhetorical styles. Dawkins argues like a Brit and a scientist: polite and ruthless. Here in MN we tend to spend a lot more time trying to make our listener feel comfortable by avoiding such terms as “infantile.”

  • Barbara Bulbulian

    Mr. Dawkins, Thank you for your book and for speaking out. As a fellow scientist and atheist I appreciate your honesty. You have given me the courage to admit to being an atheist. I am sick of being intimidated by religious people who can be very hostile and disrepectful to any beliefs that differ even slightly from their own. The election of Obama did not prove that anyone can be elected in this country, only the election of an atheist would prove that and I never expect that to happen.

  • Jeannie

    I agree with Rich on Kerri. She is not doing a good job at being neutral. She is coming off as being narrow-minded. Is she actually listening to the discussion?

  • Bob Collins

    She’s playing — if you’ll pardon the expression — devil’s advocate. It’s what you have to do when you only have a guest on one side of the issue. I have no doubt she’d do the same if she had an archbishop on.

  • Joanna

    Is it Kerri’s job to be neutral when having a conversation? or is it her job to pose the kinds of questions she thinks her listeners might ask if they were there? I think she’s doing a good job of drawing him out, getting him to explain himself.

  • Joel

    @Rich and Jeannie: Kerri (personal convictions aside) is practicing good journalism. She is prodding him to go further. This would be a pretty boring segment with no conflict of argument, wouldn’t it?

  • //I have no doubt she’d do the same if she had an archbishop on.

    Give me a break, Collins. Like Kerri would ever confront an archbishop on the validity of the Christian belief system.

  • Jeannie

    Yes – that must be true. I have this stereotype that religious people are narrow-minded – I need to work on that 😉

  • Julia

    Thanks for opening this for discussion today.

    Personally, I struggled for years with naming my higher power god, and could finally do so only after I was able to completely separate my beliefs from those of Christianity and other organized religions.

    I believe that each of us, if we have and understand faith, has an inner spiritual guide that we can tap into for strength, courage and inner peace. There is definitely a mystery about it because it cannot be seen.

    The Bible, in my view, is a book full of journals written by others who have had a spiritual experience and were so amazed they needed to share it with others. They described these as miracles that could only be explained as an “act of god”. These journals provided hope and answers to the mysteries and powers of nature. It is not a written rule of order for us to follow, although it provides good examples of the good that comes from humility and good deeds verses the bad that comes from greed and other more negative human characteristics. I do not understand why people worship god, putting god on some sort of pedestal.

  • Nate

    the thing wtih Mr. Dawkins is that he thinks he has all the answers… when one poses a ? hes unsure of he pawns it off on not beign a physicist…

  • Parker

    This blog is straying from the particulars of evolution versus creation and is debating more of a philosophical perspective. Get back to the evidence. Darwin himself stated that his theories would be ‘bunk’ if the fossil record or molecular biology did not support his theory. Indeed, they do not. We have 150 years of archaeological evidence and 150 years of biochemistry that point directly to Intelligent Design. Where is the transitional fossil record? How does one explain the irreducible complexity of the cell workings? Clearly, we are not seeing evolution here. None the less, accepting the premise of intelligent design FORCES one to gaze upon the face of God – and that is hard for many to do.

  • Lindsay

    I think science and religion can exist together. Example: Why does creation need to be literally understood as seven 24-hour periods (days)? And why does evolution need to be understood as something a higher being has no hand in? The way I see it, science and religion can overlap in many ways, and neither needs to be disputed.

  • Mika

    “the thing wtih Mr. Dawkins is that he thinks he has all the answers… when one poses a ? hes unsure of he pawns it off on not beign a physicist…”

    You mean, unlike preachers and t.v. pundits, he doesn’t pretend to have knowledge about things outside his field? The nerve of that guy, being all honest! Why doesn’t he follow the likes of O’Reilly and just make it up to please random strangers?

  • Mika

    Parker, go back to school. Your understanding of science needs a serious influx of real data.

  • Nate-

    Mr. Dawkins doesn’t think he has all the answers, he just has his head around what he can know, does not know, and won’t let faith cloud his judgement.

    Parker-

    To say that “we have 150 years of archaeological evidence and 150 years of biochemistry that point directly to intelligent design” is utter nonsense. Intelligent design was created in the late 80s and early 90s to try to solve the problem where science was debunking myth to the point where it was interfering too heavily with people that took faith-based writings too literally.

  • Daniel

    “Atheism isn’t rooted in science any more than Theism is. I think arguing that it is just makes

    religious people not want to listen to science.”

    This is completely misguided. The very nature of science is discovery, in that, you don’t make inferences without evidence to support it. Clearly these are the general views of an atheist.

    Why would it be that you have a higher concentration of atheists among scientists? Also, as Dawkins states in “The God Delusion”, there is a higher concentration of athiests among higher educated and higher intelligent. I would argue that they use reasoning and critical thinking to form opinions.

    To be an atheist (in a general sense), you need to conciously remove yourself from what you have been conditioned to believe. To claim yourself as an atheist has an inherent stigma to it, therefore, it’s not something most people blindly follow without putting some deep thought into. This is how I understand the atheist demographic.

  • Tyler Suter

    I will preface the following statements by saying that I do not enjoy criticizing somebody who purports to do his or her job. With that said, I was extremely disappointed with Keri Miller’s interview this morning; at least the first 20 minutes of the interview (at which point I turned the radio off). It may just be that I am mistaken as to what the responsibility of a reporter is, but I do not feel as though it is proper to chastise a guest. I will say that Miss Miller did a terrific job in proving the initial accusation made by her guest, Richard Dawkins, claiming that in America exists a stigma against atheists. Repeatedly, Miss Miller pushed her agenda in order to throw mud in the guest’s face, and with apparent disregard for his responses, she paraded around her soap box. This is not the first time I have been struck by the same sense of malice from Miss Miller, and frankly I am beginning to find it difficult to listen to Keri as she continues her quest to become the ultimate authority.

  • Eric

    I think Miller did a good job. Love her and love the show!

    Dawkins was… well Dawkins. If I’ve heard him once, I’ve heard him 1000 times. Of course I agree with just about everything he says, so it’s “preaching to the choir” and a bit boring.

    I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ll go see him talk tonight. How many times can I listen to the same talk over and over? It reminds me of my youth, sitting in church and hearing the pastor repeat the same liturgy over and over again.

    I would much prefer a scientific talk on evolution or neuroscience.

  • Dave

    Lindsay> creation certainly couldn’t have happened in 7 periods of 24 hours…

    My issue with theistic evolution, which is what you propose, is that it adds an unnecessary element to the process. Evolution works just as well without supposing the involvement of a god, so why assume that involvement if there is no evidence for it? It makes for poor logic.

  • David W.

    I like how writer Richard Ford put it about religion from an interview in Granta:

    Has faith or church-going ever had any appeal to you?

    Not church-going. But faith, well… There’s the famous line in Hebrews 11: ‘Faith is the evidence of things unseen’. I’ve always been attracted to that line. But for specifically ir-religious reasons. I deem that line to be a line about the imagination. I could almost say that, ‘the imagination is the evidence of things unseen’. But again specifically I’d say that my ‘faith’ lies in the imagination and in the imagination’s power to bring into existence essential experience that heretofore wasn’t known to exist.

    That reminds me of Frank Bascombe’s line: ‘The unseen exists and has properties.’ Do you have an ongoing sense of that ‘unseen’, or only at certain charged moments?

    I don’t much think about the unseen. For lack of great erudition, or a great education, I suppose I’ve stored a fair amount of trust in my instinct. But as soon as I see that written down I start to think that instinct may just be another word for luck and for trusting to luck — which I’ve done. A favourite line I repair to is by the philosopher Daniel Dennett, who said: ‘We have a built-in, very potent, hairtriggered tendency to find agency in things that are not agents.’ I’m not sure if Dennett approves of that tendency or not. But certainly that’s one of the things literature does — it ascribes agency where before no agency was noticed: it says this causes that, this is a consequence of that, etc. It may be that writing fiction, imagining agencies, is my most trusted way into the unseen.

  • Great show… and thanks for the live-blogging, Bob, esp. the links and the embeds.

    It’s tough to keep the discussion on this issue focused. About 6 weeks ago on our blog here in Northfield, I posted a blog titled: How atheist-friendly is Northfield? We’re 400+ comments into it and though there’s been significant ‘thread drift’, we’re still at it. Here’s hoping Professor Dawkins’ visit will focus us.

  • Mika

    ” If I’ve heard him once, I’ve heard him 1000 times. Of course I agree with just about everything he says, so it’s “preaching to the choir” and a bit boring.”

    For that I blame mediocre journalists and interviewers, like this one, who ask the same tired questions over and over.

    Imagine being him and having to answer the same things over and over.

  • Ian

    Parker- you’d better buy a new tux, for when you accept the Nobel Prize for Science. You appear to be able to do what no other IDer or creationist has ever been able to do- Prove design. Now if you would care to post some evidence, and posit a hypothesis that makes predictions, and can be tested in the field, you are about to become very rich.

    I look forward to your peer reviewed work coming up with any evidence what so ever. Unlike all those transitional fossils, DNA evidence and observations, which those damn scietist will keep providing.

  • DC

    Atheists don’t have to prove anything (its a non-beleif). We simply don’t see any evidence of a supernatural power of an type and feel no particular problem with that. I was nominally catholic by virture of being raised in the church, when i was about 10 I realized that my fellow church goers seemed to actually believe the myth, I was under the impression taht we were following Jexus (a man) who was extraordinary and who gave good advice. I just figured the super natural stuff was there to make it interesting. I soon stop going after that.

    Generally speaking is you are raised in a given culture you will pick up the myths of that culture. If you live for a while in a non-Christian nation you will eventaully figure out that the people you meet don’t really seem to know or care about some other socities God. How many christians here have actually read the Koran or know anything about Hinduism. You are all atheistic in regards to them and nothing bad happens to you.

  • Nick

    “the thing wtih Mr. Dawkins is that he thinks he has all the answers… when one poses a ? hes unsure of he pawns it off on not beign a physicist…”

    Nate, you disprove your first statement with your second statement. If he “pawns off” a question he’s unsure of instead of making something up to answer it, then how can you say he thinks he has all the answers?

  • Fred

    Parker’s superstitious, and thus absurd, assumptions that because there’s no transitional fossil record and that there’s only 150 years of information, that this somehow points to intelligent design?

    [Personal attack removed]

  • Steve_C

    [Comment deleted – Inappropriate content]

  • dogmaticatheist

    Parker –

    If you spent just 5 minutes doing some actual research you would find that both of your arguments against evolution are fantasy.

    The fossil record *does* support evolution. That is why we find simpler life forms the further back we go. Also, we’ve found many, many transitional fossils. Tiktaalik being the most famous. We’ve found many that show the transition from reptiles to birds, fish to reptiles, etc. Just because you don’t take the time to learn about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    Secondly, irreducible complexity has been thoroughly debunked by credible molecular biologists. You could easily find some presentations by Ken Miller and others online.

    In any case, you IDiots need to come up with some new lies to debunk. The old ones are getting boring.

  • Steve_C

    Also, it’s quite insulting to ask will you still be an atheist on your deathbed?

    Does she ask priest if they’ll still be a Catholic on their deathbed? What if god is the Brahman Hindu god?

    There are atheists in foxholes and on death beds, it just seems to be that people project their fears onto those that don’t share the superstitions.

  • conelrad

    Ii believe it has been pointed out that whenever

    paleontologists unearth what might be called a

    ‘transitional fossil’, that is, one which seems to

    fill a gap of some sort, creationists merely say

    that where there was one gap, there is now two.

  • austin

    @ Parker | March 4, 2009 9:54 AM:

    [Get back to the evidence. Darwin himself stated that his theories would be ‘bunk’ if the fossil record or molecular biology did not support his theory. Indeed, they do not….Clearly, we are not seeing evolution here.]

    There are a great many scientists who would disagree with you on this point.

    [We have 150 years of archaeological evidence and 150 years of biochemistry that point directly to Intelligent Design.]

    So why is it that no ID proponent has ever published anything in any independently peer-reviewed scientific journal?

    While you’re at it, please explain how ID accounts for nylon-eating bacteria.

    […accepting the premise of intelligent design FORCES one to gaze upon the face of God…]

    That’s because ID presupposes that God exists. That’s the whole point of ID–it’s designed to force the supernatural into the realm of science.

    [Where is the transitional fossil record?]

    ALL FOSSILS ARE TRANSITIONAL.

    [How does one explain the irreducible complexity of the cell workings?]

    I see you’re a fan of Michael Behe. I am, too. I thought he did some of his best standup in Kitzmiller vs. Dover. I laughed and laughed.

  • Paul Johnson

    assertion that there is no god is not remotely similar to an assertion that there is a god. denial of such gods is merely a disagreement with a previous assertion for which there has been no support for the necessary burden of proof. therefore believing in a god is illogical and believing that all such believers are wrong is not

  • Zeus

    Richard Dawkins is brilliant!

  • Jerome

    What an embarrassing interview. I just lost a ton of respect for Kerri Miller.

  • rmp

    (Comment deleted – We don’t call each other names here)

  • Cary

    I got the impression that Kerri Miller seemed a little bit offended or put off as well. It’s very possible she was just playing devil’s advocate very well, but she seemed very, very intrigued at the “Will you be an Atheist on your deathbed?” question which is intellectually worthless in my mind. Beyond that, it’s extremely cliche.

  • rmp

    I like Kerri and I’m telling myself that she was simply being devils advocate. I HOPE I’m right.

  • David W.

    Ah, the good old “Will you be an Atheist on your deathbed?” chestnut.

    To which I reply, “Do you really think you will have a Life Everlasting?”, which usually gets them a clue.

  • Ryan Melena

    I just finished reading “The God Delusion” as well as “The Selfish Gene” and believe Richard Dawkins is one of the most intelligent authors I have read. I applaud NPR for having him as a guest and can’t wait to listen to the interview (which I missed). I’d love to hear more of this type of programming perhaps as a counterpoint to “Speaking of Faith”.

  • Bob Collins

    This is one of those threads — and shows — in which I realize how far out of the mainstream I am.

    People are so certain. Things are black and white. Not for me and not on this issue.

    //Atheist on your deathbed?” question which is intellectually worthless in my mind. Beyond that, it’s extremely cliche.

    I’m not sure how old any of you are, but I don’t find it cliche at all. Things that seemed certain to me when I was young, are not so certain now.

    There are days in which I think there is a God. There are days in which I think there isn’t.

    Granted I think about what “truth” is the closer I get to my own death and as I’ve sat on my bench thinking about these things, I can’t say that whether or not I’m intellectually worthless has entered my mind.

    It does, however, seem inconsistent with what Dawkins was recommending — which was just saying “I think there’s a higher power but I’m not sure” and being intrigued enough to research it. I think turning the answer one comes up with around and examining it through several prisms — including whether it is colored at all by one’s nearnest to finding out the answer firsthand, is consistent with what he’s suggesting.

  • cary

    Bob, let me frame it a little different for you. For those of us who “identify” as atheist/agnostic, we hear the “deathbed” question (or, sometimes as an assertion, a la “you won’t be an atheist on your deathbed”) so often that it’s a tired and cliche rhetorical device that just seems entirely irrelevant, at least to us.

    The question’s implication is that somehow those of us who don’t believe in a higher power somehow will or should change our minds later. As if we’re children and we have yet to “grow up” and see the “real truth”. Do people make it a point to ask Christians in interviews if they will accept that Vishnu is the REAL creator on their deathbed? I can’t imagine that would go over really hot.

    Of course many “out” nonbelievers have thickened skin so we more or less just laugh these sorts of things off.

    I’m not saying that your personal search for your own beliefs is irrelevant, but rather asking someone who has a fundamentally solid belief if they will somehow change when they’re about to kick it seems to be off, and very out of character for an MPR/NPR interview.

  • While it might be a mistake to assert that atheism is “rooted in” science, the two are certainly connected, in that they mostly attract the same types of people, people who aren’t content to take things on faith without some proof.

    We’re basically saying “pics or it didn’t happen,” to put it into easily-understood internet terms.

    We’re (most of us) happy to question and reevaluate things we previously considered untrue or impossible, provided there’s enough evidence to support them. If God appeared before me right now and said “Look, I’m here, ok. Will you please just shut up now??” I’d be forced to reevaluate my belief that there probably is no God. Until that (or something like it) happens, though, there’s no evidence that says there is. So I am pretty sure there isn’t.

    And, regarding evolution and creationism (oops, I mean “Intelligent Design”), it’s silly to paint both sides with the same brush, insisting that it’s just as likely that either is true. One has evidence, the other has blind faith. One says “we are confident that this is true because the last 150 years of scientific study support it” while the other says “yeah but see, no, because jesus blah blah god etc so your evidence is wrong because my faith said so.”

    I’m not saying anything new here, of course. We all know this, or should.

  • Tim

    While I too was disappointed with Kerri’s evident bias, I was completely blown away by her statement towards the end of the interview, re: Mr. Dawkins’ upcoming book on evolution; implying that there was no point in writing another book on the subject. How could someone as tuned in to current events as Kerri even say such a thing? Obviously, this debate is far from settled and to imply that there is no reason to continue it is completely absurd.

  • Jim!!!

    The Life After Death question used to scare me. I am not afraid of it anymore. Hopefully I’ve got a lot of years left, but of course one never knows. The afterlife scenarios that are promoted by religions seem very boring and downright awful to think about (heaven or hell are equally hideous). And does whether I believe of an afterlife have any bearing on the outcome? So why fuss about it? The evidence points to no afterlife. There is no evidence of some force of life within us that exits our body at death. In fact the evidence strongly suggests our consciousness (what some might call our soul) exists in only our brain and when our brain dies our consciousness goes with it.

    My life is the here and now. The “afterlife” I leave behind is only carried on by what influence I had on the world and those within my circle of influence. I nothing else but to do my best in that regard.

    Truth is important. We could go on telling our kids that Santa Claus is real, extending that idea well into adulthood. There’s something wrong about that isn’t there?

    Like Julia Sweeney has suggested, put on your “no god goggles” and just take a look around. You’ll find it’s not scary but instead it’s just as beautiful if not more so when once you get your bearings.

  • Jim!!!

    correction: I want nothing else but to do my best in that regard.

    I’m excited to see Richard tonight, and I’m proudly bringing my kids too!

    BTW: I’ve heard Karri be tough on a Christian interviewee.

  • portia

    Tim- I AGREE!

    I grew up in Kansas.

    Between 2005 and 2007 ID was taught in SCIENCE classrooms as an alternative to evolution.

    It is upsetting to think that a person as informed as Kerri would brush off the need for further discussion.

  • Julia, you mentioned that you “have to wonder about the inherent desire to persuade.” Some people mentioned truth for its own sake. But, more practically, is the fact that religion influences quite a bit how people act, and further, the laws that get passed. Middle Eastern countries are an obvious example of the extreme case of following religion, but even here in the U.S. we have laws that only make sense from a religious perspective. Looking at it honestly, religion seems to be the main reason for the prejudice towards homosexuals, the push for abstinence only sex ed, the refusal to allow research into possible life saving treatments from embryonic stem cells, etc. I realize that more liberal religious people don’t have problems with these areas – live and let live. If more religious people were of the liberal variety, people like Dawkins probably wouldn’t have as much to talk about.

  • Anita

    I too was struck by Kerri’s interview style in this hour. It almost seemed as if she was trying **extra** hard to give Dawkins a tough time to prevent people from accusing her of letting him off easy. I felt she went above and beyond being Devil’s Advocate when she pushed just a little too hard on questions like the “deathbed” and the “do we really need another book about this” question. Thanks Bob for doing the liveblog!

  • Anonymous

    Having listened to this “discussion,” I would normally hesitate to characterize it as a contest, were it not for Ms. Miller’s repeated references to the “argumen” and her blatantly combative attitude. In this contest, therefore, I consider it obvious that Ms. Miller was clearly over-matched by Professor Dawkins in courtesy, generosity, logic and reason.

    I wonder what it might have been like had the interviewer invited a prominent religious person on and then challenged, with equal vigor, the tenets of the espoused faith and demanded quantifiable, definitive evidence to prop all assertions of divinity up. I won’t hold my breath until I hear such a show.

  • Eric: This isn’t the same talk you’ve heard from Richard Dawkins (unless you were at the Michigan lecture).

    He does talk science and explains “The Purpose of Purpose”. It was much more enjoyable than the “there is almost certainly no god and to claim otherwise is pretty absurd” (not that I disagree with that point).

    It is well worth seeing. Richard is one of the greatest thinkers of our time and has put together some compelling arguments for recognizing what “purpose” can/does mean and the possible problems with it. (Hardly any of the talk is about religion – it is used as an example at one point but so is patriotism, junk food marketing, etc.)

    Enjoy!

  • Jeannie

    Well put “Anonymous”. Thank you.

  • Jim!!!

    Bob, PZ Myers has linked back to you.

  • JohnnyZoom

    >>I realize how far out of the mainstream I am

    Doubt that. It is only that those like you (and there are a lot) don’t see anything here to kick and scream about.

    The Discovery Institute et al folk are threatened by scientific progress (um, revelation, anyone?). While Dawkins et al know (on a good day at least) that religion isn’t a threat to science, his own carrying on is mainly a combination of bigotry (or for the polite sake of contrapositive argument, arrogance) and an overarching desire to become a data point for a certail Andy Warholism.

    Most people are relevantly burdened by none of those issues. They recognize that using certain investigational techniques can facilitate our ability to predict the future in controlled ways. They recognize that this allows for developing an increasing number of ways in which we can affect change in the natural world. They also recognize that not all such changes are wise and that a good and consistent procedure for determining that is needed.

    So in the end, these types of things make for good news stories, blog threads, etc., but for most of us it’s a nonstarter.

    Albert Einstein had something to say about this…

  • boB from WA

    Not having heard the interview, I find the comments made here interesting. I have not heard many voices arguing on the behalf of those who profess their faith in Christianity, though. I am writing a sermon on belief right now, so I will throw out the definition of belief I found at Merriam-Webster:

    (1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing (2: something believed ; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group (3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.

    What I am getting out of these comments is that we all have our own set of beliefs based on the above definitions. For those in the atheist camp, they have their convictions based on the evidence of evolutionary science as well as the philosophical evidence of the enlightenment. For Christians (and for that matter, those of other FAITH tradition) they have their own body of works to rely upon. What gets me (and I have to agree with BC on this one), is that both camps seem to have a claim on the “truth” which precludes any sort of rational discussion of the topic.

    One final comment: please do not lump me with those who would be considered fundamentalist. I did not come to my faith beliefs until I was 40 years old. I have lived on both sides of this debate, and even now there are times when I still have my doubts. But that does not prevent me form continuing to affirm, confirm, and strengthen my faith through discussions like this as well as intellectual inquiry.

  • David W.

    On the Jamesian view, holding a belief as true is holding that it is good to live by it; and this allegiance to a particular belief makes one responsible for its practical consequences in one’s life and in the lives of others. In this way, as we shall see, James’s conception of truth underscores the epistemic and social responsibility of believers and their accountability to others. — José M. Medina

    Believing there is an unseen purpose underlying one’s life may or may not be a useful thing, but that does not make said purpose real.

  • Ryan Melena

    Yikes…

    Listening now and Keri Miller’s questions seem to show an amazing lack self-consistency. Richard Dawkins, in my opinion, is doing an admirable job of breaking the questions down and pointing out their incorrect assumptions and inherently flawed logic.

    The whole beginning of the discussion seemed to center around Keri complaining about the term “infantile” being applied to the beliefs of religious people because (as she sees it) “many” don’t actually believe those things. First, I think she’s vastly over-estimating the number of people who would call themselves religious but don’t believe in ANY of the mystical elements of some faith. Second, it completely disregards the fact that Richard Dawkins obviously isn’t arguing against this imaginary group of people.

    On one hand, these are the types of confused arguments I often hear when discussing religion with someone religious but on the other hand I would expect some better thought-out questions for an interview.

  • Dennis

    boB from WA:

    The only truth atheists claim is that of the natural world. If religious people want to find their “truth” in ancient, ambiguous texts, that’s fine.

    Who are any of us to say that Christianity is the “true” religion? Why not Islam? Hinduism? Judaism? Pastafarianism?

    When our “truths” are based in the natural world, there is no argument that “gravity” is the one “truth” holding us on the ground.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    He says the idea that Jesus died for our sins is “obvious nonsense.” OK, where does this conversation go after that?

    It could go a couple of different ways.

    1) Miller could acknowledge the point.

    2) Miller could provide a description of just how this alleged human sacrifice operates. What are the rules of the transaction? Who makes these rules? How does one man/God’s sacrificial death somehow relieve the sins of all persons, but only if they believe in Him? Why do all these people carry “original sin” in the first place because of something a distant ancestor did ages ago, after God lied to them (Genesis 2:17)?

    9:51 a.m. – Kerri asks if Dawkins believes his convictions will be as strong on the day he dies?

    That is not a rational argument, that is emotional blackmail. I would be ashamed of asking such a question in public. Since it was asked, I will direct you to accounts of David Hume’s death.

  • Karen S.

    Kerri Miller openly mocks Richard Dawkins by repeatedly misquoting him about wanting to convert people to atheism. She also takes a much more adversarial approach to this interview than to most other interviews in which she is sympathetic and interested. Then she has the gall to ask why atheists feel afraid to come out of the closet! She is a fairly reasonable person and even she clearly dislikes atheists. Surely she can see how hard it is for atheists to be confronted by even more hostile persons than herself. It is still acceptable in America to use ‘hate speech’ against atheists and I admire Dawkins’ bravery in coming here as an openly atheistic person.

  • Jim!!!

    Nah. I thought Kerri did a decent job. She even had a couple laughs with R.D. BIG kudos to MPR for having Richard in for an interview and taking calls. Yay!

  • tao

    I am a huge fan of Kerri Miller and consider her to be one of the most gifted interviewers of our time. I have never been disappointed by her skill… until today.

    Perhaps it was just an accidental miss of the thrust of Dawkins’ arguments, but she seemed out of sync, and pushed on topics that were not very relevant or illuminating- so unlike her usual style where she grasps immediately the guest’s orientation and can ask challenging questions that reveal what’s behind it. Today’s questions seemed to reveal more about Kerri than about her guest.

    Nice job on the blog- I’m always impressed at the near real time capabilities of writers like Bob Collins. And I will remain a big Kerri Miller fan.

  • DJ

    Years ago I worked in the newsroom at Mn Public Radio. I’m embarrassed to see what it has become. I would expect to see “Dawkins seeks more converts to atheism” on a commercial TV website, one that’s desperate to pull in more eyeballs – but not on a legitimate news organ. The headline is at best misleading and sensational.

    Oh, and Kerry Miller needs to get over her own religious insecurities. They were all to apparent in this interview. The truth will set you free. Try listening to an intelligent man’s answers rather than making your own talking points heard.

  • Mike

    JohnnyZoom, you couldn’t be MORE wrong. Science has been continually under attack from religion since at least the time of Copernicus, and is currently under attack via anti-science education legislation continually being introduced all over the US. Louisiana’s governor just signed anti-science legislation that will ultimately be overturned when the lawsuits reach their ultimate conclusion, a massive waste of taxpayer money on both sides.

  • Bob Collins

    //The headline is at best misleading and sensational.

    “The God Delusion”? That was the name of one of Dawkins’ books.

    When were you at MPR? Your name isn’t ringing a bell at the moment.

  • djohnston

    Professor Dawkins is *supposed* to be provocative. He’s trying to sell books. You are supposed to be reporters. You aren’t supposed to be selling anything. Your job is to reveal the truth.

    I worked there beginning in 1977 but I fail to see how that might be relevent to this discussion.

  • Bob Collins

    //1) Miller could acknowledge the point.

    In what fashion? My point was simply that there really isn’t much of a conversation to have once someone says what you believe is “obvious nonsense.” You can only disagree and move on to another topic or agree and move on to another topic.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with it or disagree with it. But it does mean that whatever follows will leave people in the same place they started.

  • Tom

    The question “Will you still believe this on your deathbed?” is curious for a number of reasons:

    1) It clearly plays on the old idea “There are no atheists in foxholes,” suggestive that an atheist lacks the courage of his convictions. This may be seen by a religious person as scoring a rhetorical point, as such courage-of-faith may be a point of pride to the religious person. On the other hand, it would be an odd thing indeed for an atheist and a scientist, for whom the idea “When the evidence warrants it, I’ll be happy to change my mind” is a distinct virtue.

    2) It probably is at least subliminally informed by the now thoroughly debunked myth that Darwin recanted on his deathbed.

    3) It presupposes an afterlife for one to fear not getting into, or be punished eternally once having gotten in; a position which does not logically arise from an atheist worldview.

    I found it interesting that Dawkins responded mainly in terms of saying “I can’t predict the future,” which sidesteps all of the above problems. Maybe it was his way of avoiding being seen as combative, to refrain from demolishing a proposition so obviously shaky?

  • DJ

    And Bob – speaking of bias – why is this discussion posted under “Religion” rather than “Science”? I believe Dawkins job title is scientist. This journalism stuff is tricky for some!

  • Johnnyzoom:

    Tell the people catching measles because anti-science whackjobs have successfully spread lies that science isn’t under attack. While the goofball homeopaths and new agers are more responsible for the anti-vax movement, the religionists aren’t far behind.

    and science doesn’t necessarily equal athiest, or vice versa. there’s plenty of people considered atheists who are decidedly anti-science.

  • Bob Collins

    //I worked there beginning in 1977 but I fail to see how that might be relevent to this discussion.

    I didn’t invoke the factoid, DJ.

    I’ll be happy to add a science tag.

  • He says the idea that Jesus died for our sins is “obvious nonsense.” OK, where does this conversation go after that?

    You respond to his statement with a rational explanation of why you think the idea that Jesus died for our sins makes sense. If you want your ideas to be taken seriously, then those ideas should stand up to scrutiny and criticism.

  • Bob Collins

    //You respond to his statement with a rational explanation of why you think the idea that Jesus died for our sins makes sense.

    Actually I did no such thing. I am referring exclusively to the human behavior in conversation, not to the merits of that conversation, and most certainly not to my religious beliefs or non-beliefs.

    On that score, I’ve already acknowledged I’m in the big grey area in the middle which is why I want conversations to take me somewhere.

    Once a point of view is described as “obvious nonsense” what results might be good theater but it doesn’t really result in an engaging conversation with the individual.

    Similarly, anyone who says the Dawkins is full of obvious nonsense is also not going to lead a productive conversation.

  • MP

    boB from WA:

    I consider myself an atheist, and I admire your intellectual curiosity. If your personal style of belief was held by the majority of religious people, then I don’t think Dawkins would feel the need to write books on this topic.

    I would STRONGLY encourage you to be more vocal, and encourage other people who are religious in the way you are to speak up. Otherwise the fundamentalists will claim you as being on their side whenever they pull out their “one million _____ fans can’t be wrong” argument. Please help prove that they are actually in the minority.

  • genesgalore

    got an email from jesus today. he says, dad is blushing from all the publicity.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I have now listened to the entire podcast. Miller was not as bad as I feared, but she did repeatedly focus on some small item of little significance (e.g. one line in the preface to Dawkins’ book in which he says, possibly sarcastically, that he expects believers to be atheist by the time they put the book down) and obtusely keep grinding away at it even after it had been fairly addressed.

    RE the deathbed question: Here is another example where Dawkins answered the question, only to find that Miller had not yet gotten enough mileage out of it, and would not put it away. What was she waiting for? Did she expect him to say, “If I end up like Antony Flew, I expect to be dismissed as a senile old goat.”?

    Before the Big Bang: science does not have an answer to this at present. Maybe it never will. That does not mean that the answers posited by religion have any validity. Philosophy takes over where the science leaves off, and most respectable philosophers consider the first cause “proof” for the existence of God to fail. Also, different religions say different things about such unprovable questions. They cannot possibly all be right. Therefore it remains for the proponent of any such solution to supply some reason why we should take her solution seriously.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    //1) Miller could acknowledge the point.

    In what fashion? My point was simply that there really isn’t much of a conversation to have once someone says what you believe is “obvious nonsense.” You can only disagree and move on to another topic or agree and move on to another topic.

    In what fashion? Did you really respond to my first possibility without noticing the second? By explaining why it is not obvious nonsense. If a debater cannot do that, she is fully worthy of being dismissed.

  • DJ

    Bob

    You say you are in the big gray area. OK. See if this helps.

    You are asking for a rational conversation in which you want Dawkins (or whoever) to convince you that your admittedly irrational beliefs are irrational! (I state that your beliefs are admittedly irrational because that is the definition of “belief” – i.e. “confidence in the truth or existence of something not susceptible to rigorous proof.”)

    So what could any rational person possibly say that would convince you to change your view? My point is that YOU have to remove yourself from the gray area and stop accepting the clearly and demonstrably false beliefs of the various contemporary religious sects. Dawkins and others are trying to free your minds at at times that may involve the use of the Socratic Method (the Ancients version of Tough Love!).

  • Reginald Selkirk

    An example of explaining human sacrifice:

    There is an entire district of a country which is under sea level. A levy has been built to keep out the sea so the land can be productively occupied and farmed. One day little Hans is walking near the levy and he notices a leak. He knows that leaks in earthen levies grow very quickly due to erosion, so he plugs the leak with his finger, and hopes for some adult to come buy and notice, so the leak can be repaired and Hans can resume his peaceful juvenile existence. No one comes. Little Hans loves his family and neighbors too much to give up, so he continues to stand there with his finger in the dike until he dies. There, I have explained why the sacrifice helps other people, and why little Hans would undertake that sacrifice.

    The debater could attempt the same for the human sacrifice story of Jesus’ death, but it would require all sorts of assumptions which would be very difficult to explain to someone who did not already accept them. What is “sin”? Why and how does sin committed by distant ancestors still fall on every newborn? How does Jesus death remove the weight of this sin; what rules apply, and who made up these rules? What is a soul? What evidence is there for it? If a debater does not feel they can make those arguments, they deserve the label of “obvious nonsense.”

    Another example might be quantum entanglement. It seems obviously nonsensical. It would be up to a physics instructor to establish why it is not nonsense because of the relevant evidence. I put forward this example because unlike the story of little Hans, which is entirely fictional, I believe this story to be true. I still understand that someone who cannot adequately explain their case deserves to be labeled.

  • I was intrigued by Dawkins’ response to the deathbed question. Perhaps it was cliche for some, but not for those of us who have never had the opportunity to hear Dawkins before.

    Dawkins closed by reminding listeners that his book is about evolution – not God. I found the on-air discussion particularly interesting as it related to the Darwinian process of selection, human consciousness and gaps in fossil records.

    I’ll be looking for Dawkins’ newest book, The Greatest Show on Earth, when it comes out in October. Today, I settled for an anniversary edition of Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle.

  • Kaderie

    “Dawkins et al know (on a good day at least) that religion isn’t a threat to science, his own carrying on is mainly a combination of bigotry (or for the polite sake of contrapositive argument, arrogance) and an overarching desire to become a data point for a certail Andy Warholism.”

    Ahhhhhh. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

    Are you kidding me? Of course religion threatens science. How about stunting an entire future generation of potential scientists by spreading lies and unscientific nonsense in public schools? What about the contempt for science and scientists alike that is spread by churches? Have you ever seen Jesus Camp? Direct quote of a mother homeschooling her child: “Science doesn’t prove anything”. Wasn’t the bulk of the opposition to stem cell research of a religious nature, leading to a BAN ON RESEARCH?

    Dawkins has good reason to speak up. In the history of humankind there was not one society that, when religious dogma was empowered, did not threaten science.

  • ndt

    Bob, you misunderstand me. You asked where the conversation could go after that. I suggested a possible direction for a conversation to go.

    Dawkins was being blunt. I realize that we Americans are not used to bluntness when discussing religion (and we Minnesotans aren’t used to it at all!). But think about it objectively. The claims that A) someone rose from the dead after execution and B) his execution and resurrection somehow absolved each individual human of their sins is pretty out there. If you want such an outlandish claim taken seriously, you have to be able to support it. Christians have had 1,900 years or so to come up with some support for that claim and so far haven’t come up with much. How much longer do we have to give them before we can call it obvious nonsense?

  • RickK

    Bob from WA,

    Thanks for your open-minded and literate comments.

    But it is important to note the difference between “faith” and science or rationalist world view.

    Faith, by definition, is an unwavering conviction, a positive belief which is not dependent on evidence, and will never change because of evidence. Apologetics exist only to rationalize away any criticisms, but never to change the nature of the underlying belief. And, the “stronger” your faith, the less likely you are to change it in spite of contradicting evidence.

    Science, by definition, is the exact opposite. Science is based on the idea that the path to the truth is to seek out errors in our current understanding, and to correct those errors. You can’t do that if you believe your initial assumptions are infallible. And science results in answers that can be used to predict future events.

    Scientists may be religious from many faiths, but their methodology is designed to be the antithesis of faith because it REQUIRES all assumptions to be questioned. But there is nothing wrong with adopting this rational approach as a world view, and setting aside “faith” in the supernatural.

    Through a rational, scientific approach, our understanding improves. Natural effects have natural causes. Throughout history, we’ve disproved supernatural causes and replaced them with understood natural mechanisms. We’ve NEVER done the opposite – replacing a natural cause with a supernatural one.

    And in that same time, our understanding of God has not improved one bit – we are still a bunch of warring factions arguing over our differing interpretations of the divine. Our understanding never improves because there’s simply nothing to understand.

    Look at the world’s problems today. How many of them do you think will ultimately be solved by stronger faith, or by improving our understanding of God?

    I’m sure Dr. Dawkins and other atheists are at times frustrated by how much of humanity’s precious mental energy is directed away from improving our understanding of what is real, and directed instead at at the demonstrably fruitless quest for divine understanding. I know I am.

  • Bob Collins

    DJ, rather than address what I said, you’re changing it to something I didn’t say and asking me to defend it. And, of course, I’m not interested in doing that.

    For the record, nowhere did I admit my beliefs are irrational (although I acknowledge that depending on what my beliefs are on a given day, someone will likely consider them so) and I’ve already mentioned numerous times that I’m not talking about the religious/scientific beliefs, but about the method of conversation and the inability of those partaking — on BOTH SIDES — to get anywhere with a DISCUSSION about them.

    That’s what I was referring to when I said “where are you supposed to go with that?”

    Now the only obvious answer is: “you can give up and accept the other person’s point of view.”

    That’s a lot different than acknowledging the other person’s point of view.

  • Karen S.

    It seemed so very odd to me that Kerri, an avid reader, would question Mr. Dawkins’ statement that he’ll be writing another book. It sounded like she didn’t want him to, which makes no sense given that she claims she loves books and reading. It also sounded like she hadn’t read his book in its entirety, which is also not like her. She came across as clearly threatened by Mr. Dawkins’ writings and opinions, and incapable of conducting a ‘fair and balanced’ interview.

    Is this MPR or Fox??

  • Bob Collins

    //I’m sure Dr. Dawkins and other atheists are at times frustrated by how much of humanity’s precious mental energy is directed away from improving our understanding of what is real, and directed instead at at the demonstrably fruitless quest for divine understanding. I know I am.

    Interesting point. I was particularly intrigued about the discussion of the role of neuroscience and computers in this. But I also think that not everyone who believes in God can be cast in the descriptions I’ve read about on this thread.

    A fair question, I think, isn’t so much whether belief in God is a waste of human energy so much as whether a belief in God can channel human energy for good — I’m thinking of the shelter for battered woman right next door here, or the soup kitchen for the homeless down the street — without also inspiring its own brand of evil — I’m thinking, of course, about war in the name of God.

    If I understood him correctly this morning, Dawkins suggests that this goodness that is often attributed to a spirituality, is part of a brain process instead. That is intriguing and also leads me down a pathway of many questions about the nature of good and evil.

  • Richard McCargar

    Regarding the question about where does the conversation go when discussing Jesus supposedly dying for our sins;

    One direction it may go is another question; How is it moral for anyone to be the scapegoat for the sins or crimes of another? Also, if Jesus died for our sins, then why are we supposedly born with original sin? That leads us to the question whether god is moral for saddling us with the sins of adam and eve.

    Scapegoating precedes Christianity by several thousand years. Jesus is only one of the more recent examples.

  • pwl

    At about 31 minutes 20 seconds into the interview Richard Dawkins answers a question about history and the validity of the “virgin birth”. Dawkins, in my view didn’t answer that very well.

    Yes, one time events in history can’t be repeated by using the scientific method, so how do you test the claims of the “resurrection” of “jesus”?

    Well, that’s easy with biology. When a human being dies their body decays. Upon heart dead, brain death and cell death, living bodies decay. Micro organisms immediately start eating your body from the insides out and outside in. Bugs and insects of all kinds begin their feasting on a pretty much set schedule. The body decays. If you’re unlucky enough to die away from a modern hospital emergency room there is no hope, and if you were lucky to be in an ER there is a very small chance they can being you back from some causes of death, like a heart attack, but the percentage is very low.

    Laws of science not just rule in possibilities but they rule out possibilities. So nope, no possibility of any resurrection for anyone named jesus in the first century! This is proven by the laws of biology that we know of today. Therefore the resurrection of jesus is simply a bad bed time story written by superstitious folks or by con men attempting to con the masses back in the day. Looks like many are still taken in by this obvious attempt to undermine people’s ability to reason critically with objective reality in mind.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl: I think you are missing the point with your logic. The fact that people decay in a set manner, in no way eliminates the possibility that someone arose from the dead because a god willed it to be so.

    As an atheist, I don’t think it happened, but I also think your logic was misdirected, and just plain wrong. If a god existed, it could certainly use its magic to raise someone from the dead, sans decay.

    Using modern scientific methods, what we could do now, that was not available to anyone two-thousand years ago would be to evaluate the dna of the person who supposedly arose from the dead, and compare it to any samples of blood left behind, or hair, etc. Now that could possibly eliminate fraud, or provide evidence supporting the claim.

  • pwl

    Richard McCargar,

    How was the logic misdirected? The caller asked about it and Richard never answered the question directly.

    Dead bodies don’t rise from the dead is a more succinct way of putting it. It’s a scientific fact.

    No magical mystical invisible friend is going to come along and magically poof someone back alive – it’s prevented by the laws of Nature!

    No, if god existed he could not use magical powers to violate the laws of Nature. That’s just silly mind pooism. It’s the stupidity that lets non-critical thinking continue along unabated. Any god would be bound by the laws of Nature.

    Science cuts through nonsense like the rising from the dead.

    Besides who wants to be in a Zombie Jesus cult anyway? Why worship a zombie? They just want to eat your brains destroying your rational critical thinking capability.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl:

    You state what a god could or could not do if it existed. Please enlighten me on how you came to have such knowledge.

    If a god existed, and created the laws of physics, it could certainly bend or shatter them in any way it chose. Your claim that it could not is not based on evidence, it is only your opinion.

    You making statements of fact of which you cannot have the knowledge makes it easy for religious people to see that you, yourself, are making claims that are specious.

    You’ve just created a problem where none existed. You’ve made it easier for them to dispense with rational arguments, because you yourself were not rational.

  • pwl

    Another example of a pure myth in the bible. After the claimed resurrection the man named jesus was supposed to have ascended into the heavens.

    As we know very well from Newton and Einstein, that’s not possible unless you can reach escape velocity somehow, such as with a space ship. Besides if jesus didn’t have a space ship with an atmosphere how could he have kept breathing in space? He was a human being after all!

    No, magical gods don’t save you against the laws of Nature either. You can wish for anything but Nature is a harsh mistress and we are all stuck on the ground here unless we jump off a cliff into magical delusional fantasy lands.

    Gravity sucks. Newton said it more accurately than that and Einstein said it more accurately than Newton, but Gravity Sucks sums it up quite nicely.

    Gravity Sucks for the religious since it proves that their main man, jesus, could not have magically risen up into the heavens after coming back to life. Oh, right it was Zombie Jesus who ascended which makes all the difference right?

    Gravity Sucks. Get used to it. Unless you one of the few lucky ones who’ve been off world and out of the main strength of the Earth’s gravity field or in the vomit comet that is. A select club which jesus wasn’t a member of – unless you subscribe to jesus being a space alien or to have been abducted by space aliens and probed… but then the myth is just as much a con game…

    I’m surprised Richard McCargar that you’d let yourself get caught up into mind poo thinking like “i If a god existed, it could certainly use its magic to raise someone from the dead, sans decay”; you might as well say that if god existed you’d be a woman instead of being a man or that a magical tea cup floats in lunar orbit and that if anyone touches it they can live forever; or if you pay me millions of dollars I’ll magically give you back billions of dollars; or if superman existed he could fly. These are all simply flights of whimsical nonsense that prove the point that are the magical powers of the human mind to conceive of anything as if it’s real, the mind then thinks it’s real. That is why science relies upon evidence and proofs that can be tested and repeated to uncover laws of Nature which govern what is possible and what is not possible (due to the limits imposed by the laws) in Nature.

    Any logic or philosophical thought system, or beliefs that are not tested against the harsh nature of objective reality are just silly flights of the whimsical pining for their wishes to be real.

    Objective Reality is a Harsh Nature. Gravity Sucks. The Dead Stay Dead after Brain Death, Organ Death and Heart Death. Get Real. Think Real. Being Real is Being Human Spiritual! Connect with Nature. Live your One Life.

  • pwl

    Richard the willing to think any mind poo wrote: “If a god existed, and created the laws of physics, it could certainly bend or shatter them in any way it chose. Your claim that it could not is not based on evidence, it is only your opinion.”

    Nope Richard. You are the one claiming that god has these magical powers of violating the laws of the universe.

    I’m simply stating that there is no evidence for that and tons of scientific laws that provide limits to what any agent in objective reality CAN do in Nature!

    Richard: “ou making statements of fact of which you cannot have the knowledge makes it easy for religious people to see that you, yourself, are making claims that are specious.”

    Nonsense. I’m simply using the known and well tested laws of Science and Nature to demonstrate that we have proof that no man named jesus (or Lazarus or …) could have risen from the dead once they were permanently dead (and not sleeping or in a comma). I also demonstrate that Gravity Sucks proves that no human being can fly without the aid of technology. Simple obvious facts of life.

    Your use of logic is childish in the sense of it’s lack of maturity since it doesn’t exhibit any tests against objective reality.

    There is no evidence that there are any ways around the laws of Nature. Life’s a b*t*h even for mythical gods.

    Of course this is a rational and critical argument.

    Prove that god can violate the laws of physics. If you can prove that in a way that is testable with actual experiments that I can independently conduct to get the same results then sure I’ll have to take it under serious consideration that there is a god or at least a super being of some kind; until then (and even after then) objective reality guides my thought processes in the determination of what is real. Nature is the final judge.

  • pwl

    Richard McCargar, what you are doing are “thought experiments” (if god then… anything) which are not much better than flights of fantasy unless you can connect them with objective reality.

    Prove it in Nature, or prove it’s not possible in Nature, as Newton did when he figured out how much Gravity Sucks here on Earth, then you’ll get my attention.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl: When you wrote “Richard the willing to think any mind poo wrote”, you lost any credibility you might have had. Are you an immature child? Who else would write that? If you felt somehow empowered writing that, it is an indication of your level of maturity. How sad and pathetic.

    You then went on a rant that provided nothing but your opinion.

    I’ve already explained it to you, but I cannot understand it for you. Now, I’m finished with you.

  • pwl

    Richard and other quasi atheists (like Richard Dawkins at 6.9),

    As for attempting to control what others think of what I say and it’s logic grounded in objective reality as opposed to flights of fantasy, I have zero control over that. I’ve tried many different approaches and have reached the point where the best and easiest approach is the direct approach to confront silly beliefs that can’t possibly be in the universe since they violate well known laws of that universe. I now simply point out these facts to all concerned whether or not they are believers in gods or not. It’s strange that I get violent opposition to being connected to objective reality which we all can test even from self reporting atheists. The quality of grounded logic is really very poor these days. Did any of you take any science classes? Or, maybe you’re holding out hope that you’re wrong and that you’ll be saved from the permanent death that awaits us all regardless of belief about mythical gods?

    I’m amazed that statements like what Richard said are considered valid philosophical statements in any philosophy of Nature grounded in objective reality. Very strange to allow such mind poo into your thinking that just because gods are claimed to have made the universe that they also can do as they wish. It seems that magical thinking even pervades atheists such as Richard.

    Shake it off Richard McCargar and learn some hard science. Shake it off Richard Dawkins and learn some hard science (not that softer biology stuff but learn some physics – you can do it, your belief about your brain being the wrong kind of brain is silly).

    Without proof to the contrary I’m a 7.0 on the Dawkins Scale, (as is Richard no matter what he says – just listen to all his works and interviews and you’ll get that he’s just being polite leaving a tiny hole of 0.1 open).

    Come back to objective reality and enjoy Nature for it’s what is real. Live a life connected with Nature. It’s all we will ever have. Get used to it.

    Gravity Sucks. Dead bodies Rot. Thus Zombie Jesus didn’t rise from the dead to fly off to the heavens. Not in reality only in fantasy did that happen. Unfortunately the human mind is perfectly find accepting fantasy as if it’s real. Thus people kill and die for superstitions every day. Very sad. Be kind, get real.

  • pwl

    I was making a point that you’re willing to allow the religious zealots any mind poo logic. Since you presented their logic and mind poo I was pointing that out directly. You can be finished with me if you wish to take offense, however none was intended, and I apologize if you felt offended. All that was intended was to make the point that you’ve got to upgrade your critical thinking to not let mind poo thoughts like “if gods then anything is possible” get past your lips. It seems that rather than seeing the validity of my arguments you’ve reacted which shows that you have a reactive mind just like the rest of us human beings. Have a break (with a duration of your choosing even if it’s zero or an infinite length) and come back with a rational and critical argument if you so choose.

    My points are valid rational critical thoughts aimed directly at those that believe in magical properties that the laws of Nature that guide the universe prevent. It’s not my fault if you happen to also exhibit some of the weak arguments that come out of the mouths of believers in invisible friends. Wake up, objective reality is all around you and you can’t ignore it in your philosophy for if you do then you are not connected with objective reality anymore but off into flights of fancy and you might as well have an invisible friend so you’ll have good company with the many others.

  • Erich

    I just finished listening to the podcast. After reading some of the comments here beforehand, I was expecting something very different from what I heard in respect to Kerri Miller’s questioning of Richard Dawkins. Overall, I didn’t feel that she was especially combative towards him, but I did get the impression that she wasn’t as well-prepared for the interview as she has been for other interviews in the past. I felt that she kept going back to the same points over and over again because she wasn’t able to build on his answers to her questions.

    That being said, I did bristle when she asked the deathbed question…I think that it’s very arrogant and patronizing for someone to listen to someone explain their well-thought-out views on a subject and then suggest that they might hedge their bets and change their mind at the very last second. I never hear anyone ask religious people if they think that they might turn their backs on their entire belief system before they die. It’s very condescending.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl: You’ve just made this worth re-entering, if only for a moment.

    You just wrote “Without proof to the contrary I’m a 7.0 on the Dawkins Scale, (as is Richard no matter what he says”.

    Now you can read the mind of Richard Dawkins, and know that he is lying when he calls himself a 6.9 on his scale of atheism.

    You have missed one of the significant, and cherished parts of Dawkins’ thought process. He tells you that in science, no one can say with 100% assurance that there is no god, and he is a life-long, respected scientist. Yet you know better what he really thinks.

    Had you read and understood any of his many books, you would have found this same logic throughout. Even though he believes evolution to be true, if they found evidence to the contrary, he would abandon evolution as a theory. I suppose you think he was being intellectually dishonest in every example he gives of that type.

    pwl, you can’t read minds, your logic is flawed. Good night.

  • pwl

    I don’t claim to read the mind of Richard Dawkins, but I do listen to what he’s said in public and on the intertubes. Yes, what he has said contradicts his position of being 6.9 on his scale rather than 7.0 as some of his earlier comments suggest. Be that as it may, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens really do need to get some hard science into their blood to be able to effectively argue against the mind poo of statements such as “if gods then anything is possible even if it violates the laws of nature”.

    Yes, science is a map and not the territory. If fact if you follow the link for my screen name “pwl” you’ll see that I fully support the scientific method and am fully aware of the possibilities if presented evidence and proofs.

    However, as I said “without proof to the contrary I’m a 7.0 on the Dawkins Scale”. That means that if you can provide me the proof the best map that science currently has prevents any laws of Nature from being broken by any agent human or god! Yes, that is a map that I suggest is part of science. Yes it’s an assumption of science. If you don’t like it that’s too bad. You can if you choose provide an experiment that proves it wrong. So far every scientific test and attempt to violate a law of Nature that has failed has succeeded in proving this principle. Any tests that succeeded have proven that a new or revised law was needed.

    I don’t think that Richard Dawkins or you are being intellectually dishonest. I simply think that you are deeply mistaken and that Richard Dawkins could explain it without prevaricating to the delusional masses with the 0.1 from the Dawkins Certainty scale.

    Yes, as I said before, if you take the time to read my posts, if there is proof that any of the laws of Nature can be cheated on or bypassed by magical mythical gods then by all means please provide the experiment so that I can test that for myself and determine the results scientifically. Otherwise you’re just doing a worthless “thought experiment”. Philosophies based upon “thought experiments” alone have been the bane and pain of human existence throughout history to the current day: Islam, Christianity, Communism, even Buddhism. Any philosophy worth anything must be grounded in objective reality to be connected to Nature. That is why the Roman Catholic Church panders to scientists and pretends that it supports science – it’s part of their conning of the masses who have some basic idea of the importance of science.

    So if you would, reread what I’ve said Richard and think it through.

    The fact is Brains are the circuitry of Minds and when the brains die our minds die too. That is 100% certain given what is known about biology and science. If you have any evidence or proof or experiments that can be safely conducted that provide evidence contrary to these established facts of life then please provide them. For Dawkins to hold out that 0.1 on his Certainty Scale is just bad logic on his part SINCE science has proven that brains+minds die; as a biologist he knows that better than most. There is just no way around it. Sorry to inform you of your impending permanent death Richard. Join the club. We all get just a few orbits around the Sun, then blotto. You’ve been non-existent before so you know what it’s like! No need to fear it. No need to want it either! Live in peace, be kind, get real.

  • Jim!!!

    Joanna – your post @9:40 was quoted by PZ Myers in his introduction of Richard Dawkins tonight. It appeared to be a full house at Northrup.

  • Scott

    Having been a listener of MPR for 20 years, I don’t think I have ever heard a poorer interview job than this. Why does she need to pick a fight in every single question? And no, there is no way that she would handle the interview the same way with a man of the cloth. How embarrassing for her.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl:

    ” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Carl Sagan

    US astronomer and writer (1934 – 1996)”

    I am an atheist. Knowing I will one day die, I am happy to think I will be as non-existent then, as I was before I was born.

    You have said in various ways that since there isn’t evidence for something, it is therefore proven incorrect until evidence is provided in support.

    We think the universe will continue to expand, and all evidence points towards that conclusion. But it is not a fact. We believe it, and will consider new evidence that may challenge that current theory.

    You think that the laws of physics cannot be overcome. Dawkins admits to having seen zero evidence for a creator, and plausible explanations for the universe and evolution, yet even he, a renowned scientist, admits that evidence in support of a conclusion are acceptable as long as new evidence doesn’t refute it. He leaves his mind open to the possibility, no matter how remote, that he could be wrong. You don’t do that.

    That is the mindset of a true scientist.

    Science moves ahead in fits and starts BECAUSE scientists leave their minds open to the possibility they and their cherished theories may be wrong.

    Theories prevail until replaced by better evidence, yet, as written above, and stated so succinctly by Sagan:

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

  • //Once a point of view is described as “obvious nonsense” what results might be good theater but it doesn’t really result in an engaging conversation with the individual.

    Similarly, anyone who says the Dawkins is full of obvious nonsense is also not going to lead a productive conversation.

    Although I was among those waving sticks this morning, I must agree with Mr. Collins assessment. Never the less, a guest’s lack of tact should not impede the reporter’s ability to conduct a quality interview.

    //science is a map and not the territory

    I like that, pwl.

  • pwl

    “You have said in various ways that since there isn’t evidence for something, it is therefore proven incorrect until evidence is provided in support.”

    No, I’m saying that the laws of Nature demonstrate how things work – to various degrees of accuracy depending upon the particular law – and that they ALSO limit possibilities that effectively PREVENT things from happening.

    Yes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, violations of the existing well tested laws of Nature is evidence of something not being possible and that is evidence of it not being present! Where every law of science or Nature proves how something works is exactly the proof of the limits of the possibilities that are imposed by that law – proof of the absence you so fondly wish to be there when it can’t possibly be.

    I might be able to prove that there is no Tea Pot orbiting Mars or our Moon but I can and did prove that no man named jesus ever ascended to the heavens (without the aid of a space ship of some kind). There is a big difference and you really need to comprehend more science to get this crucial disctinction it seems. Science DISPROVES as much if not more as it PROVES!!!

    Sure maybe for crude theories there may be lots of wiggle room, but we’ve come a long long way since that very special year, 1905.

    Leaving the door open to mind poo of delusional beliefs in magic, invisible friends is irresponsible and disconnected from objective reality. It’s also bad science education.

    Since Gravity Sucks as much as it does on Earth it simply is impossible for jesus to have ascended to the heavens unless he had the aid of technology – e.g. a helicopter or space ship – to pull off that con job. Nothing improper or unscientific about that. In fact just the opposite. It is a clear and simple statement that proves that jesus didn’t fly away magically.

    In response to your quotes I fire back with these that are on my blog, linked via my screen name “pwl” on my posts here.

    “Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” – Alfred Korzybski

    “Science is a search for basic truths about the Universe, a search which develops statements that appear to describe how the Universe works, but which are subject to correction, revision, adjustment, or even outright rejection, upon the presentation of better or conflicting evidence.” – James Randi

    “According to Peirce’s doctrine of fallibilism, the conclusions of science are always tentative. The rationality of the scientific method does not depend on the certainty of its conclusions, but on its self-corrective character: by continued application of the method science can detect and correct its own mistakes, and thus eventually lead to the discovery of truth”.

    A guiding principle for accepting claims of catastrophic global events, miracles, incredible healing, invisible friends, or fill in the blank is: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan

    “Another corollary of the Principle of Uniformity states that nothing that is now impossible in principle was ever the case in the past.”

    Science is a stepwise continual refinement of the map we call the laws of science. While our understanding isn’t the whole of the laws of Nature it doesn’t matter as far as what has been discussed in this thread. The fact is that our understanding of the laws of Nature embodied in the laws of Science as they currently stand are sufficient to eliminate a great many possibilities of mind poo thinking since they explicitely violate those well tested and well known laws of Science and Nature that we have so far been able to determine so well.

    Yes, our understandings of these laws might improve but it’s very unlikely that they will be overturned so much as to permit the kind of nonsenese that you and others are so willing to permit Richard.

    Jesus never rose from the dead in objective reality since that would violate the laws of biology. It could not have happened and we know that with 100% certainty given the existing laws of science that are well known and well tested.

    Sure he could have (or those around him could have) conned everyone, that is well within the realm of possibility and likely to have occurred.

    Jesus is simply a mythology and if he existed as a real man not more than a bad character in a bad bed time story book. I prefer Casper The Friendly Ghost as a bedtime fantasy story any day as it’s a much more fun story, and he is invisible by definition!!! ;–)

    “Science moves ahead in fits and starts BECAUSE scientists leave their minds open to the possibility they and their cherished theories may be wrong.”

    Obviously absence of evidence is evidence that you’re opened your mind too much Richard and let your brain fall out along with your critical thinking skills.

    Look, you can’t abandon the best map of existence (science theories) that we’ve ever had by allowing the possibility that “if gods then anything is possible by them”. There are so many things wrong with that statement of yours that it’s not funny. So many laws of Nature would be violated by “if gods then anything” that it’s very scary… and not possible… due to the limits those laws impose.

    Richard, you are living in a much different world than those of us connected to objective realtiy grounded in science.

    Islam is based upon the notion that we live in the mind of god thus anything is possible. This philosophy grounded in delusional beliefs and faith is the root of the magical thinking that permeates Islam and other religions (who might state it differently).

    While you claim to be an atheist you’ve not got a very good grounding in science and in objective reality were we actually exist. At least your logic is weak and flawed. Your willingness to engage in their silly logic, “if god then anything”, demonstrates this.

    Another test that jesus couldn’t do what was advertised. The next time you fill your bath tube and step in for a bath (without cheating now) you’ll prove that jesus could not walk on water unless he cheated (or it really was ice or stones or ground or plexiglas underneath the water).

    It’s funny that simple laws of Nature prove that jesus didn’t do what is advertised and yet people still think that he did.

    It’s shocking that an atheist such as Richard or Richard permit themselves to engage in conversations with people allowing them the delusionals to think that oh, ok, maybe there is a 0.1 unit of out 7.0 units that Dawkins thinks that life after death is possible. That’s completely irresponsible Richard Dawkins!!! You yourself said that brains die and that minds can’t exist without brains thus minds can’t survive after death yet you allowed for a 0.1 unit out of 7.0 that there might be life after death. Very irresponsible sir Richard Dawkins.

    So, all said and done, objective reality is a harsh mistress indeed with all kinds of limits imposed to prevent you from your wishful desires and lame weak thoughts. Nature if the final judge. There is no escape, seriously, there is no escape from the laws of Nature. No magical dreams will save you or anyone from permanent total destruction of ourselves upon our deaths.

    We are doomed which is why it’s important to be kind and get real. Time in existence is precious beyond anything else imaginable. Life is too precious to waste in a Death Cult worshiping a Zombie Jesus Overlord who is just a mythological invisible friend of no substance!

  • pwl

    /science is a map and not the territory

    “I like that, pwl.” – Tyler Suter

    Yup, it’s a fantastic model. It’s from one of my heroes, Alfred Korzybski, who had this to say:

    “Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” – Alfred Korzybski

    What do you like about it Tyler?

    Oh, maybe I should adjust it to say “science is a very accurate map but not the territory of Nature who is always the final judge in all things real”.

    Check out my site via the link “pwl” below. You might like it.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl:

    This is just redundant.

    Take your Jesus example. The best logic you can think of is that Jesus would have to violate the laws of physics to ascend into the heavens.

    Perhaps Jesus need not enter space to disappear from view. He doesn’t have to break free of the bonds of our atmosphere to appear to ascend into the heavens. Heaven doesn’t have to be in outer space.

    You insist on saying that our laws cannot be broken. Why is it that actual scientists disagree with you. The most they will say is that there has been no evidence that they have as of yet been broken. They leave their mind open to the possibility they may be wrong. Einstein himself was wrong regarding the conclusions drawn from some of his own work.

    You so desperately wish to be right, that you continue to make assertions that go against the open minded nature of actual scientists.

    If you take the time to read Bertrand Russell’s “Religion and Science” (Russell’s teapot), you will find that the teapot analogy goes against your way of thinking. Russell admits that he cannot disprove the existence of god any more than he can disprove the aforementioned teapot. He doesn’t say that it makes god likely, but that he cannot disprove it even though unlikely. You, on the other hand, seem to think you understand science better than scientists. You continue to show yourself to be incorrect.

    The example you used (Russell’s teapot)and Russell’s own words, is evidence in support of my position, and completely contradicts yours.

  • pwl

    Grammar corrections to the first part of the above posting. Sorry about the mistakes… Time for dinner and a nap, sigh.

    “You have said in various ways that since there isn’t evidence for something, it is therefore proven incorrect until evidence is provided in support.” – Richard

    No, I’m saying that the laws of Nature demonstrate how things work – to various degrees of accuracy depending upon the particular law – and that they ALSO limit possibilities that effectively PREVENT things from happening.

    Yes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, violations of the existing well tested laws of Nature is evidence of something not being possible and that is evidence of it not being present! Where every law of science or Nature proves how something works is exactly the proof of the limits of the possibilities that are imposed by that law – proof of the absence you so fondly wish to be there when it can’t possibly be due to the limits imposed by Nature.

    I might NOT be able to prove that there is no Tea Pot orbiting Mars or our Moon but I can and did prove that no man named jesus ever ascended to the heavens (without the aid of a space ship of some kind). There is a big difference and you really need to comprehend more science to get this crucial distinction: Science DISPROVES as much – if not more – as it PROVES!!!

    Sure maybe for crude theories there may be lots of wiggle room, but we’ve come a long long way since that very special year, 1905.

    Leaving the door open to mind poo of delusional beliefs in magic, invisible friends is irresponsible and disconnected from objective reality. It’s also bad science education.

  • pwl

    I don’t need to disprove the existence of god as the already proven laws of Nature prevent gods from existing in Nature.

    “Perhaps Jesus need not enter space to disappear from view. He doesn’t have to break free of the bonds of our atmosphere to appear to ascend into the heavens. Heaven doesn’t have to be in outer space.” – Richard

    Oh, unless you are suggesting that jesus was a con man you’re suggesting what? That he jumped up into the air and vanished through a worm hole? Ok… you’ve lost it… I’ll buy that he was a con man or that those that wrote about him were deluded. I can’t and won’t buy that he actually did what was claimed in the so called miracles.

    It’s possible for a tea pot to exist in Mars orbit. It might not be probable but it certainly is possible for a tea pot to exist in orbit of a planet or star.

    It’s not possible for gods to exist in Nature given the existing laws of Nature that we know so well and have tested so well. For one, no information can travel faster than the speed of light thus no gods can be omnipotent, omnipresent, nor omniscient. Oops, how about that, Einstein’s proven theories prevent gods from having their magical powers.

    Science is built upon the notions of stepwise refinement improved with EVIDENCE. Provide some evidence for the wild claims you use as examples and then we’re in agreement and on the same page. Failure to provide evidence or proof means that you’ve failed in your challenge to the already established understandings of the laws of Nature.

    Thinking that an open mind will be what enables the laws of science to change is a deep mistake. The laws of nature are what they are. Our map is accurate. Any new map won’t toss out any prior accurate map. Newton must be taken into account by Einstein just as Einstein must be taken into account by any new theories such as Quantum Gravity and even then Newton still applies!

    Thinking that having an open mind is a be all and end all is just an opening to mind poo entering your brain when your brain falls out of it’s brain casing. Keep your brain in your head where it belongs. Critical and rational thinking TESTED by the Laws of Nature provide the way forward to new knowledge. Fantasies that violate these Laws of Nature require EVIDENCE and Proof of an extraordinary nature!

    By all means have your completely open mind where you are constantly picking your brain off the floor if that’s what you want. All of those with invisible friends are used to that anyhow and they will happily embrace your empty open mind casing with glee as a new possible convert in the making.

  • pwl

    Russell Tea Pot PROVES my point just as Newton and Einstein do with Gravity Sucking as much as it does.

    What you are saying Richard is that it’s perfectly fine to say that oh by the way it’s possible that that Tea Pot that is out in Mars orbit can magically change size from a normally sized pot of tea to one that swallows up Mars in a second like a hungry beast! While a Tea Pot can orbit Mars it can’t eat a planet for the planet will eat it first! The laws of Science and Nature prevail…

  • JohnnyZoom

    @Mike, you misunderstood. That is not an attack on science but rather an entry into scientific debate, contrarian to be sure but an entry nonetheless, of an intellectual edifice of the particular faith tradition. Once anyone, religious, intellectual, or otherwise, does that, their positions are thus subject to scientific enquiry. Evidence can thus be gathered to support (or refute) their position. Religion answers “Why?”, not “How?”; that is what science tries to answer. What you are talking about is simple censorship/indoctrination; “while we’re figuring this out, you can only hear our side of the story”. Not a genuine threat to real science. Yes, empirical answers may take longer to divine (sorry), but that is a trait of censorship in any setting, not only this one, and certainly not of specifically religion.

    @ Garth, I am not sure what you want me to tell them, as I don’t really understand your point. I have a hard time equating Jenny McCarthy and ilk as any kind of serious theists, unless it is at the altar of the Cult of Celebrity. But that is a purely psychological/cultural phenomenon, not one of a real faith tradition. But you do raise an interesting point: how is it that in supposedly the world’s most enlightened civilization, a substantial number of people prefer medical advice from a former Playboy Bunny than from their own doctor?

    Sidenote: It has been a good day. Not one but two NewsCutters have responded to me. Many thanks.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl: all your statements that the laws of nature make a god impossible would be earth shattering news if anyone with a scientific background would believe you.

    Yours is not a new position, and it has been put aside.

    Please name a few reputable scientists who will side with you that a god cannot be possible because the laws of nature preclude it. The laws you speak of may make it unlikely, but they cannot be proven to preclude it. And that is why no reputable scientist will make the close-minded statements you are making.

    Deal with it. In your close-minded arrogance, you find yourself without a reputable ally.

    Please don’t bother answering if you are going to tell me that the scientists would say it but won’t for one reason or another. They are open minded, and that moves science forward. You are close-minded, and that is anathema to science.

  • pwl

    I don’t need scientists to say it. I can work it out myself and I explain how to work it out for yourself. No need for appeals to authority.

    Richard, that’s funny since when I talk to scientists of all sorts they get what I’m saying and generally agree that I comprehend science to a high degree and that I’m dead on target. Unless they have an invisible friend that is then they like to delve into the open mind poo field.

    Put aside? What are you going on about? Provide your references.

    Yes, Einstein’s work proves that information can’t move faster than the speed of “c”, light. You don’t need any one with authority to think for you now do you. So let’s work it out for ourselves. It’s quite simple really. If you’re a super being aka god sitting over in another galaxy far far away and you want to check in on your creations in the Sol star system in the Milky Way Galaxy it would take many light years to send or receive the information across that distance – thus you are not omnipotent, not omnipotent, nor omniscient – at least not on the time scales to answer the prayers of any of whom you created nor to punish those who don’t believe in you.

    Besides you’d not have the information processing capabilities to be omniscient and know everything everywhere every when.

    These simple statements backed up by the well known and well tested laws of physics and computer science preclude any gods from existing with those characteristics – which pretty much precludes any god from existing, certainly any god by human definitions.

    You don’t need to appeal to authority to figure this out.

    So you might think that I’m closed minded but in fact I’m very open minded just not as gullible as you to being conned by statements that can’t possibly be true. One has to be on guard all the time though for there are many con men in many guises attempting to spread their mind poo as “open minded science”. Why just recently I reported on a scam that took a friend for $26,000. See the article “Quantum Biofeeback: We have an immense capicity to heal ourselves?” on my linked “pwl” blog. It’s under the “scams?” category. (This blog blocks direct links for some reason). You’re likely the type that would fall for a scam like that. Unfortunately my friend didn’t like my opinion that she’d been conned and ripped off even though she asked me for my opinion. She got so pissed off that she’s not talking to me even though in reality I’m really a better friend than all those telling her that the quantum gizmo is a good deal and works. Scammed is scammed.

    So have your mind open to crap Richard as you wish. It is your life after all.

    Your appeals to authority reveal that you’re easily manipulated by those authorities. It must be like that with your blind worship of Richard Dawkins. I assume that you are the same Richard McCargar that posts over at Dawkins site and at other blogs. Develop your own thinking Richard McCargar, one that takes objective reality into account and not the rules of some abstract philosophy disconnected from the Laws of Nature.

    I don’t need scientists to say it. I can work it out myself and I explain how to work it out for yourself. No need for appeals to authority.

  • pwl

    What you philosophical and logical types keep forgetting is that the Laws of Nature trump logic and philosophy. Toss those out the window. Nature is always the final judge. Go to her, not some abstract philosophy or rules of logic or debate.

  • pwl

    I’ve enjoyed having this discussion with you Richard and I hope that it is useful in your further education towards embracing science, critical thinking and rationality over your obviously existing “open-mindism” flawed way of thinking.

    While science is just a map, it’s a damned accurate one and our best guide to objective reality and our existence in Nature. Yes we will improve it but that which is not possible tends to stay impossible for good reasons. Science rules out as much as it rules in. Leave the magic to Penn and Teller. Keep your brain in your skull critical of the all too often flung mind poo and outright scams. When ever you find yourself appealing to authority attempt to work it out yourself so that you and others don’t need to appeal to that authority. Test it yourself! Conduct the experiment yourself! Become a scientist and not just a bench warmer with an opinion. Get in the game!

    Time for a break.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl:

    If, as you say, you’ve proven that a god cannot exist due to the makeup of the laws of physics, why is it that you are not famous for being the first person to prove something that has been one of the main topics of conversation for several thousand years?

    You aren’t famous, because you are wrong. If you were right, and you could prove it, you would be the most famous person in the world having proved that god could not exist.

    You haven’t proved it, and you are not famous because what you consider proof, is not.

    I didn’t have to appeal to authority to show that you are arrogant and wrong.

  • pwl

    Actually Einstein proved it, I had nothing to do with it other than seeing his proof of it. You are correct, I’m not famous, just yet!

    Since it’s evidence that you are a person who appeals to and relies upon authorities rather than thinking for yourself you’ll of course find this reference of relevance to the approach of proving a negative with science: “GOD: The Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist” by Victor J. Stenger.

    It’s interesting that your argument said nothing but talk about “fame” and “being wrong”. You made no statements to actually address or refute the statements that I put forward clearly explaining the proof. Disappointing but not unexpected.

    Ok, if the proof is wrong them please demonstrate that by violating the speed of “c”, light, by transferring information faster. That would be sufficient evidence for me to rescind my earlier statements and adjust my map. This proves that I’m open minded in an appropriate manner that keeps my integrity intact and my brain in my skull.

    Richard, since your posting was devoid of actual arguments that under cut the proof you’re blowing hot air since you can’t argue this except with “argumentum-not-famous”. Is that really the best you can do? That’s disappointing.

    Richard McCargar, as you assert, I might be arrogant (thank you for the compliment) but it’s hard to refute Einstein which is what you have to accomplish to prove that he’s wrong about the speed of “c” limiting information transfer in the universe. So please refute Einstein as soon as you can for you will then be the one to enlighten me about objective reality.

  • pwl

    Just for you Richard I’ve posted the videos of Victor J. Stenger talking in Toronto a couple years back on PathsToKnowledge dot wordpress dot com (linked via the screen name “pwl” below) with the posting titled “GOD, The Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist”. Enjoy. Learn. Think for yourself.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl: Einstein never proved it, I’ve read 3 of his biographies. On top of that, there are no references to be found of anyone of repute stating that Einstein proved there was no god.

    No one bought Stenger’s theories. I read the book, it was just the same rehashed thoughts about why it is unlikely, reassembled. Hawking didn’t buy into it, neither did Dawkins, nor Denning. I’ve read comments from each of them stating that it was a decent, but ultimately failed effort.

    Funny how no one else thinks Einstein proved god doesn’t exist. Why do all the major philosophers and scientists of our time think it has not been solved, but you and your little blog think otherwise?

    [Personal attack removed]

    By the way, I’m a retired engineer. Owned a small semiconductor company, so nothing you’ve said was too complicated, nor original, nor even interesting.

    You are claiming that you, Einstein and Stenger have proved that god does not exist, and once again, your claim is false.

    Give it up. You failed. Over and over, etc.

  • Richard McCargar

    pwl:

    [ Personal attack removed] Put your money where your mouth is.

    Submit your evidence proving the lack of god to a scientific, peer reviewed journal. Let professionals review your evidence. I will accept the outcome.

    That is how science works. You utilize the scientific method, produced your results, have them reviewed by, I would say your peers, but you aren’t at that level, you aren’t their peer, but you get the idea.

    Win a Nobel Prize for proving god doesn’t exist. It will be the greatest finding in recorded history.

    I’ll wait to congratulate you.

  • pwl

    Richard McCargar, the best video to watch if you’re short on time is the one entitled, “Victor Stenger – The Future of Naturalism Interview”, at the end of the article I referred to in the posting “”GOD, The Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist”” on my web site linked via my screen name link “pwl” below. Stenger backs up what I’m saying pretty much dead on target, which is nice since you falsely asserted or hinted that there were no such scientists that back up what I’m saying. 😉 I still think that you need to be able to learn to think for yourself and work things out for yourself even though I’ve been able to provide you with a qualified expert “authority” in the field of physics. Cheers.

  • pwl

    Einstein’s theories prove that information can’t be transmitted faster than the speed of “c” which I suspect you won’t deny. Over a 100 years of attempts so far have backed this up.

    Read what I wrote very carefully.

    It’s easy to see that if information from the next nearest star system (Alpha Centauri) which is ~4.2421 light years distant and thus takes ~4.2421 light years to travel from Sol to there and another ~4.2421 years to get back. So if the mythical god was hanging out on that star for a vacation from the annoying prayers on Earth it would take ~8.4842 years for any prayers on Earth to be heard and responded to assuming no delays in gods thought processes upon receipt of the prayer by the magical telepathy. Maybe that’s nothing in god years but that’s a very long time in human years, for most humans a good chunk of their life!

    Now the universe is a very big place if you hadn’t noticed. Very big.

    The speed of “c”, light, is all that is needed to demonstrate that no god can be omniscient, nor omnipotent, nor omnipresent since it would take next to forever for god to communicate with parts of itself spread out all over the place across millions and millions of locations and light years.

    This doesn’t even mention the “future horizon” problem where parts of the universe are cut off from each other casually therefore making it impossible for even god to see into them or affect them in any manner whatsoever.

    Nor does it mention the required cpu and processing power any god would need to watch all these places at once even with the multi-million and multi-billion light year delays.

    Nor does it mention that god would only see the past and never know the present at all places at once. The standard model of physics and quantum physics rip the notion of gods to shreds.

    The laws of Nature are a harsh mistress for any gods.

    This proof depends upon Einstein’s work and was inspired by Stenger’s work. I’ve not heard nor seen this analysis anywhere else. I’ve been making these observations public for a few years now online.

    Your reactions are quite quaint and obviously you’re pissed off since I’ve taken you to task. Calm your reactive mind and let your rational and thoughtful mind to contemplate the consequences and implications of the above for a while, then raise rational criticisms.

    I’m sorry that you can’t appreciate original thinking. I was inspired by Stenger. For the record I never claimed that Einstein wrote the proof of what I wrote here in this post and the other posts, I simply stated that facts that Einstein’s work proves what I’m saying, his work backs up what I’m saying as does the work of many physicists such as Feynman. The list is quite huge actually. Too long to list here.

    I do assert that these ideas (no matter how simple they really are) were originated by me as far as I know – I never heard them anywhere. They are obvious to me given the well known and well tested laws of the universe that I’ve been exposed to since I was a young child. When I was in my early teen and pre-teen years (10 to 15) I’d sneak off to the local planetarium almost every day for their show. After a while they simply let me in since I’d seen and paid for the show so many times.

    I apologize if I offended you sir Richard McCargar, obviously you are a thoughtful man and a man of letters. I would hope that means that you seriously consider what I’ve said rather than brush it aside in a reactionary mood like most people would. Part of the challenge of science is rising above the reactionary mind and thinking critically and thoughtfully about your own prejudices when presented with new ideas that challenge your notions and beliefs.

    [Personal attack removed]

    May you go in peace and I do appreciate the humor of your cynicism sir Richard McCargar.

  • Michael

    Isn’t it “Dr.” Dawkins? Why wouldn’t that woman interviewer know that? I, for one, am pleased to have Richard Dawkins on tour in the USA. I hope the closet atheists will come out and let the religious nuts know that we are not some communist, underground and sinister band of kooks. We are a significant and constructive group within American culture.

  • James
  • You brought up some clever ideas. I appreciate the title you chose also, Live-blogging: ‘The God Delusion” | News Cut | Minnesota Public Radio