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So, religion is (or at least, this is one possible explanation of its origin) just the post hoc fallacy writ large. I like it!
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Smashing Superstitions – Even Pigeons Can Do It
It's a shame this post didn't receive any comments, as it is certainly an extremely well-written introductory sketch of exactly why young-earth creationism is so potentially harmful, not just silly and ridiculous.
4 months ago on The Answers to the Future Lie in our Past
Also, see the short chapter, "Why Heaven Hates Ham" in Christopher Hitchens' book "God is Not Great."
8 months, 2 weeks ago on Transubstantiation, Halal and Kosher – How Food Becomes Magical
1) I understand and agree with the point you are making about the range of meanings of the word "irreligious." It seems to me, though, that the breadth of meaning is exactly what makes the word not particularly useful. After all, if it can refer to anyone from you and me, who do not believe in any god and who dislike religion in all its forms, to someone who claims to be "spiritual but not religious," then by itself the word doesn't seem to do much of anything useful, and is hardly any different from the old term "anti-clerical."
2) Yes, the term "atheist," at least in America, is a strong pejorative. So what? I use it proudly, an attempt to defang the use of the word by those who oppose what I stand for. As the old line goes, "The fool has said in his heart 'there is no god.' The wise man says it out loud." Words such as "protestant" and "queer" have undergone similar appropriations by those for whom it was, at the first, a pejorative label.
3) For the record, there is also a book by the mathematician John Allen Paulos (author of the famous book "Innumeracy") entitled "Irreligion." In it he refutes, in a breezy and informal manner, a number of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. It's a quick, useful read.
10 months, 2 weeks ago on Irreligion vs Atheism
Agreed. Anyone can (and all do) cherry-pick the bible or the koran and take only the good parts. And we who do not believe greatly prefer this type of believer to the "Left Behind" reading thug who picks out the violent parts, the misogynistic parts, and the parts that don't have any effect on his lifestyle.
Of course, none of this implies even a scintilla of evidence that the chosen religion is true, just that some people are better than others. It goes back yet again to Weinberg's dictum, "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion."
11 months ago on Don’t Read This Rant on Religion
Excellent post, as always. One thing to correct though--in the US, the separation of church and state is mandated in the First amendment, not in the Second.
"What do you think?" asks the honorable Mr. Pribble. I think that this is an excellent post, full of incisive analysis, and with a superb conclusion, "To me, “angel” is just shorthand for “I don’t know, but it’s nice to think I’m being looked after.”
But, you really should correct the flood reference to a "story of Noah" (instead of a "story of Moses").
1 year ago on Q: How Many Angels On The Head Of A Pin?
Facts and fancy. Objectivity and creativity. Truth and whimsy. All summed up in the (in my not so humble opinion) best book ever written, "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster, a magical children's tale about life being a quest for Rhyme and Reason (yes, both words with a capital "R").
1 year ago on Creative Pitfalls
Martin: Sorry, I forgot to snip off the http:// from my reference, so it embedded the video. Please feel free to edit it appropriately.
1 year, 1 month ago on Faith and the Non-Answer
1) While it is possible to find some occurrences of the word "faith" which use it in the sense of "confidence or trust in another," it is at least as easy to find occurrences in which it refers to blind faith; for example, the "not seeing" of Hebrews 11 ("By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" [Hebrews 11:3]; there is no evidence to support this statement, and much to refute it; at the very least, we can say with Laplace, "Sir, I had no need of that hypothesis"); the opposition of "faith" and "sight" in 2 Cor. 5:7; and especially Jesus' supposed pronouncement in John 20:29, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Not to mention the almost paranoid fear of doubt expressed, for example, in James 1:5-8.
2) In any case, what kind of evidence would you propose as sufficient for someone to trust some invisible spirit who for all practical purposes appears to be non-existent? The non-theological parts of the bible (and koran, and book of mormon) have been shown historically and scientifically to be mostly false (and the fact that the bible mentions a few historically attested cities no more proves its narrative to be historically true than the mention of London in the Harry Potter books shows Ms. Rowling's narrative to be historically true); externally, the theological parts are untestable assertions which can *only* be accepted by what you are calling blind faith (John 20:29 again), and do not appear to have any prima facie reason to be deemed more reliable than other, generically similar assertions in the koran or other religious texts. As the not-so-old joke goes, "You never see churches with free wifi because no church wants to compete with an invisible power that actually works." Internally, any "evidence" you might imagine for any specific religious concept is nothing more than voices in your head—voices which are suspiciously similar to the predominant religious concepts in the culture in which you grew up.
3) But, just so this response is not all negative, here's a brief video that offers practical help with one's prayer life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVUfLJVSdjg
"From the point of view of truth and evidence, faith is exactly the same as prejudice. Declaring an opinion to be a matter of faith provides it with no new evidential support, gives no new reason to think it true. It merely acknowledges that you have none." Jamie Whyte, Crimes Against Logic, page 36
Brilliant post. Thank you!
Very thoughtful piece. Thank you.
Greta Christina has another worthwhile take on atheists and anger: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html
1 year, 4 months ago on An Atheist Learns How to Be Angry – By Paul Fidalgo
There is also a post about this debate by Dr. Jerry Coyne on his "Why Evolution is True" blog at:
There are a lot of interesting comments, including one from me; I referred the people there to this post, and posted the last three paragraphs of Mr. Pribble's post, as I felt they were expressed particularly well.
1 year, 8 months ago on Dawkins vs Pell – QandA on ABC TV
“Reason” (A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event) is a starting point for anyone who wishes to be free from the shackles of the untestable and unproven claims from religion.
What a lovely statement. California is a bit too far for me to come, even if I didn't have to work, but I hope the conference is all you want it to be.
1 year, 8 months ago on Global Atheist Convention 2012 – Melbourne Australia
"I’d say he’s a few chromosomes short of a full picnic."
I'd say that you, Mr. Pribble, are now a *serious* contender for the "mixed metaphor of the year" award!
1 year, 8 months ago on A Prophet from God
@blamer I consider the term “miracle” to have no meaning. If an event occurs, then it is ipso facto natural, and can be studied with a view to explaining it. If it is in the so-called supernatural realm, then by definition it cannot interact with us (at least, not without thereby becoming natural!). "He couldn’t believe in ghosts or demons. He knew that supernatural happenings tended to break down, under detailed examination, into eminently natural events. The ones that didn’t break down—stopped. Ghosts just wouldn’t stand still and let a nonbeliever examine them. The phantom of the castle was invariably on vacation when a scientist showed up with cameras and tape recorders." (Robert Sheckley)
1 year, 8 months ago on 100% Absolute Certainty
I am 100% certain that this post is truly awesome, and a real takedown of religionists who are certain of things that they can't even define coherently.