“Mandel was shocked to discover an alternate version of the world’s origins. He had been raised to believe that the world was less than 6,000 years old; he recalls his father telling him, on a rare family visit to the Museum of Natural History, that a dinosaur skeleton was “just rocks.””
— A hasidic Jew reads science blogs and discover curiosity about what’s outside his religious beliefs.
8:03 pm • 21 August 2012 • 82 notes
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition.”
— Albert Einstein, 1954. (via Letters of Note)
7:19 pm • 18 August 2012 • 687 notes
“A carpenter is a person who practices a highly skilled trade, carpentry, to create new and useful and lovely things out of wood. It is a non-trivial occupation, there’s both art and technology involved, and it’s a productive talent that contributes to people’s well-being. It makes the world a better place. And it involves wood.
A pyromaniac is a person with a destructive mental illness, in which they obsess over setting things on fire. Most pyromaniacs have no skill with carpentry, but some do; many of them have their own sets of skills outside of the focus of their illness. Pyromania is destructive and dangerous, contributes nothing to people’s well-being, and makes the world a worse place. And yes, it involves wood, which is a wonderful substance for burning.
Calling a creationist a scientist is as offensive as praising a pyromaniac for their skill at carpentry, when all they’ve shown is a talent for destroying things, and typically have a complete absence of any knowledge of wood-working. Producing charcoal and ash is not comparable to building a house or crafting furniture or, for that matter, creating anything.
You can’t call any creationist a scientist, because what they’re actively promoting is a destructive act of tearing down every beautiful scrap of knowledge the real scientists have acquired.”
— The carpenter and the pyromaniac
5:59 am • 14 July 2012 • 121 notes
“Setting aside questions that science ignores or rejects, like the colour of jealousy or the purpose of the sun, are there any deep and important questions that science cannot answer? Of course there are many that sci- ence cannot yet answer. But are there any that science in principle can never answer? Very possibly. We don’t know. An example might be: “Where did the laws and fundamental constants of physics come from?” But if science cannot answer such questions, that emphatically doesn’t mean that any other discipline—for example, religion—can. […]
There are some profoundly difficult questions about the origin of the universe, about the origin of physical law and fundamental constants, about the curvature of space-time, about the paradoxical behaviour of quanta, and about the nature of consciousness. It may be that humanity will never reach the quietus of complete understanding. But if we do, I venture the confident prediction that it will be science, not religion, that brings us there. And if that sounds like scientism, so much the better for scientism.
I am anxious not to be misunderstood, so let me stress again that I am not expressing confidence that humanity will succeed in answering the deep questions of existence. But in the (possibly unlikely) event that we do succeed, I am very confident that it is more likely to be through sci- entific than religious ways of thinking. However unlikely it may be that science will one day understand everything about the cosmos and the nature of life, it is even less likely that religion will.”
— Richard Dawkins, The Science of Religion and the Religion of Science, The Tanner Lectures on Human Value
5:00 pm • 10 July 2012 • 60 notes
“I have yet to see a successful prediction about the physical world that was inferred or extrapolated from the content of any religious document. Indeed, I can make an even stronger statement. Whenever people have tried to make accurate predictions about the physical world using religious documents they have been famously wrong.”
— Neil deGrasse Tyson - Death by Black Hole and other cosmic quandaries.
6:50 am • 31 March 2012 • 276 notes
There is no proof of an invisible pink unicorn ever existing. However, there is historical proof that Jesus walked the earth and that he was and is who he said he was.
Since the only proofs that Jesus walked on Earth and that “he was and is who he said he was” are the christian gospels, and since they are not the most unbiased and historically reliable sources, well, I’m allowed to doubt about the existence of Jesus just like I doubt the existence of dragons. And I’m sure I could find a lot of “historical proofs” of the existence of dragons in medieval manuscript, but that doesn’t mean dragons really existed.
10:23 pm • 13 January 2012 • 28 notes
Some notes about agnosticism, atheism, and militant atheism.
Why do I refer to myself as an atheist instead of an agnostic?
To answer, I need to point out what is it, in very simple terms, agnosticism. Agnosticism is the position in which you claim you can’t say if God exists or not, and so, you declare you neither believe nor disbelieve that God exists.
I think it’s a weak position that you can claim only if we confine our discourse to divinity.
So, let’s talk about the invisible pink unicorn.
I think it’s rather difficult that you could say you are agnostic about his existence, but you should, in fact, the evidence for the existence of the invisible pink unicorn are the same as for any other supernatural being (god included).
I think, the most reasonable position everyone could have about the invisible pink unicorn is that it doesn’t exists.
Since, in principle, I don’t see any difference between the concept of God or the concept of an invisible pink unicorn, I think agnosticism is not the most reasonable position to have.
If there are no evidence, I choose disbelief.
Why do I think militant atheism is needed?
You probably heard or read about some statement against militant atheism, there are at least two arguments against it:
- militant atheism is a form of fundamentalism just like religious fundamentalism;
- it is contradictory to actively negate the existence of something you claim doesn’t exists. Or more simply: To attack something, you need to believe in it.
The first argument is silly, I think it doesn’t deserve attention, at least because even if you consider me a fundamentalist atheist, I think you would prefer me as a neighbor instead of a real religious fundamentalist, like those who kill doctors or those who stone women to death.
The second argument is something like this:
"how can you be a militant atheist? How can you be militant non-stamp collector? This is really what it comes down to. You just don’t collect stamps. So how can you be a fundamentalist non-stamp collector? It’s like sleeping furiously. It’s just wrong."
So, in simple words, atheists are “right” only if they say “I don’t believe, I don’t care”.
This kind of arguments do not take into account that religious belief is not just a individual position that affect only the person who hold it. Religious belief manifest itself into society, religion influences society in many ways.
Jon Elster (Nègation active et nègation passive, 1979) wrote that “militant atheism can’t do without the believers it fights”.
When religious beliefs influence government policy, so that laws that matter for public health, or scientific research, or education, are based on religious position, it’s not just something you can say “I don’t believe, I don’t care”, because those laws, and those government choices, affect also you.
So, while atheism is a personal position of disbelief, militant atheism is saying “I don’t believe, but I do care if what you believe affects my life”.
If other’s religious beliefs will stop influencing society (and therefor my life too), I’ll stop being a militant atheist, and I will be simply an atheist.
8:54 pm • 13 January 2012 • 110 notes
I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence. It really is a very different matter. Books about evolution are believed not because they are holy. They are believed because they present overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence. In principle, any reader can go and check that evidence. When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn’t happen with holy books.
'The God Delusion', p.282, by Richard Dawkins.
1:26 pm • 7 January 2012 • 144 notes
Most of the relevant mental machinery is not consciously accessible. People’s explicitly held, con- sciously accessible beliefs, as in other domains of cognition, only represent a fragment of the relevant processes. Experimental tests show that people’s actual religious concepts often diverge from what they believe they believe […]
Religious believers and sceptics generally agree that religion is a dramatic phenomenon that requires a dramatic explanation, either as a spectacular revelation of truth or as a fundamental error of reasoning. Cognitive science and neuroscience suggests a less dramatic but perhaps more empirically grounded picture of religion as a probable, although by no means inevitable by-product of the normal operation of human cognition.
— Religious thought and behaviour as by-product of brain function (2003) by Pascal Boyer.
12:23 pm • 10 December 2011 • 52 notes
“Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, I’m sure we’ll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and that it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn’t withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn’t seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That’s an idea we’re so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that it’s kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? - because you’re not!’”
— Douglas Adams
8:11 pm • 23 November 2011 • 80 notes