Who will exorcise McCain’s choice for VP?

By Phil Plait | June 12, 2008 2:15 pm

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one potential VP pick for McCain is Bobby Jindal, current governor of Louisiana. He’s also a creationist. He also thinks it should be taught in the classroom. He also thinks abstinence-only education works.

So you can imagine my opinion of him.

But it’s now come to light that Jindal believes that an exorcism he performed with some college friends not only cast out a demon from a young woman, but also cured her skin cancer.

Let’s be especially clear on this: a potential VP candidate thinks that an exorcism cured cancer.

Cancer. Cured. By an exorcism.

At some level, I may be offending some of my readers. But I think this needs to be discussed. My stance on such things as angels is clear, and demons go in the same category. A widely quoted figure (though I can’t find the original source) say that more than 3/4 of Americans believe in literal angels.

Clearly, I’m bucking the trend.

So maybe this won’t be a big issue if Jindal gets picked by McCain to be his VP. But I think it should be. Maybe a lot of Americans believe in such things, but most foreign citizens don’t. I wonder what other countries’ dignitaries would think of us if Jindal were our VP?

And need I say it? Faith doesn’t cure cancer. Science does.

Hat tip to TotalFark, in a thread that didn’t get greenlit so I can’t link to it. But you can read a bit more on Majikthise.

Comments (101)

  1. Rand

    Wait, there’s a cure for cancer? I must be behind the times.

  2. Michelle

    I’ll tell you one thing

    I’m genuinely scared that McCain will win the next elections against Obama. Not that I think Obama is a great guy, but I think he’s the lesser of two evils.

    …You guys are gonna pull a Bush on me again, won’t you.

  3. GoGuy

    “Maybe a lot of Americans believe in such things, but most foreign citizens don’t.”

    Says who?

  4. Maakuz

    Here In Finland, our former foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, announced publicly that he´s an atheist (hooray!) about 6 months ago.

    A few days ago, one of Finlands 3 main parties, SDP (finnish democratic party) voted for a chairman, and he came in second. Drats.

    People like him though, and if he ever becomes prime minister or president, I´ll go nuts on sceptic forums:).

    HE would propably have some opinions about this person being VP of USA…

  5. Matt

    As a Christian, I’ve seen nearly stranger thing happen. But of course, you won’t want to hear about it, your mind is made up.

    Do you have any EVIDENCE that it didn’t? Or, are you closed minded to any act of faith saving someone?

    I already know that answer.

    ps – I wouldn’t vote for Jindal.

  6. Matt

    ps – to be clear, Science HASN’T cured cancer…yet. To say that it does is a stupid boast.

  7. Lledowyn

    Actually Phil, Jindal’s purported exorcism is not an anomaly in Louisiana it seems. I have a co-worker that is also from that state, that could easily be Jindal’s mini-me. He’s a creationist, doesn’t believe in science, and claims that god talks to him. He also claims that he took part in an exorcism of a demon from…. a closet. You can’t make this stuff up; he honestly believes that he forced a demon that was hiding in a closet, out of the house. Teh stooopid abounds…. perhaps there’s something in the water in Louisiana?

    As far as McCain and Obama are concerned, I’m leaving the country, since neither leader is appealing nor smart enough to be in control of this country.

  8. I’m genuinely scared that McCain will win the next elections against Obama. Not that I think Obama is a great guy, but I think he’s the lesser of two evils.

    Bah!

    http://www.squidzone.ca/UT/n623002203_675088_618.jpg

  9. Nicole

    I’m not surprised. The fundie-type Republicans don’t like McCain, plain and simple. If he choses one of their ranks for VP, that helps him unite the Repubs for the general. So yeah, I’m just not surprised.

    *sigh*

  10. David D

    I don’t like some of Jindal’s opinions (he’s supporting a creationism-in-the-classroom bill), but down here in Louisiana his reform ideas are what we absolutely need. So, I am willing to give him a pass on this kind of idiocy (while fighting him on the school bill) in the hopes that he can get this state going in the right direction. The exorcism many years ago is less troubling than the disgusting politicians in office right now.

  11. lolwut

    I don’t see why anyone should be offended by informed and intelligent views, Phil. They should be offended by people who believe in magical gods who created everything, exorcisms and demons.

    Such beliefs should have been abandoned long ago. We’re not supposed to be this primitive.

    We can land on the Moon, transplant organs, build skyscrapers hundreds of metres tall, but we still believe in fairy tales. That’s extremely depressing, and a clue as to what our future looks like – not good.

  12. Matt, try talking to cancer survivors. See how many prayed cancer away with no other help, compared to those who took medicine and survived.

    Or try actually reading that big link in +2 font that I made very clear.

    And you have everything backwards, as most antiscientists do. It’s not up to me to prove that demons exist, exorcism works, and that it doesn’t cure cancer. It’s up to you, the claimant, to show they do, it does, and it does.

    When you can do that, then by all means present that evidence here. We’ll be waiting.

  13. Josephine

    As the level of one’s religious beliefs is inversely proportional to one’s intelligence, it is rather clear which presidential candidate one should not support. Let’s face it, who wishes for one of the most influential nations in the world to be led by a person who tries to substitute his lack of intelligence with religious beliefs?

  14. tacitus

    Jindal makes Obama look like a veteran (he’s only 36 years old). For that reason alone, he will not be McCain’s VP pick.

  15. Ian

    “Do you have any EVIDENCE that it didn’t?”

    LOL. Cheeky.

  16. Lledowyn

    That’s a good point tacitus. I would imagine attacking Obama’s youth would ring rather hollow if your running mate is some kid by comparison. What irks me the most is that I had a lot of high hopes for McCain. He’s a former military man, and on more than one occasion he was willing to buck his party and reach across the aisle. Then the true picture of the man appeared, and we get to learn that he’s no different than the hundreds of politicians that are festering in Washington. It’s enough to drive a man insane I tells ye.

  17. Ian

    “As the level of one’s religious beliefs is inversely proportional to one’s intelligence”

    And that is complete B.S. and adds nothing to the discussion. In fact it makes you look like a total ‘tard. Some of the greatest minds of all time have also been deeply faithful, which garners even more respect as they are/were able to push the boundaries of human knowledge even as it contradicted their very faith.

    Not all great minds are snarky pompous atheists.

  18. @matt
    Or, are you closed minded to any act of faith saving someone?

    I’m not closed-minded to an act of faith saving someone. I’ve just never, ever seen evidence of that occurring. No faith healer has ever presented evidence of such an event, and numerous faith healers have been exposed as frauds.

    People who eschew science-based treatments do seem to die where people who take science-based treatments for the same conditions go on living.

    But I for one would welcome you to present your evidence that faith has healed anyone. Such evidence would have to demonstrate that the person being healed was not also being treated in some other way (praying to be cured of your syphillis while taking penicillin for example), and that they weren’t healed of something that naturally goes away (like a cold, or regrowing a severed limb). Of particular interest to me would be faith healing an amputee or a harlequin baby. God growing a man’s arm back, or sorting out a horribly deformed child… now that would be something special.

    I am certain I can speak for every skeptic here when I say that we’re easy to convince, you just have to produce evidence that can withstand inquiry.

    @matt
    Do you have any EVIDENCE that it didn’t?

    Nobody here is making the fantastical claim, Jindal is. Jindal made the claim that he exorcised a cancer. The burden of proof is on him to demonstrate that faith alone cured the cancer. The entire rest of the world is free to call “BOLLOCKS!” until he does.

    It is highly unlikely that magic cured a cancer. Magic, historically, has never done anything substantive. It is fair to say that the absence of evidence doesn’t mean his claim is untrue. However, the balance of probability and certainly the current weight of human knowledge suggests that faith did not cure that cancer and it is up to Jindal or his supporters to show that it did in a way that isn’t refutable.

  19. Richard Wolford

    Matt, you ignorant little person. My best friend of 15 years DIED of cancer at the age of 27; he was a church-going Christian. Are you telling me that he didn’t pray? Is your loving wonderful god fond of making good people suffer for TWO YEARS of constant pain, doped up on morphine, not even sure where he was? Faith is a joke; faith kills. And morons like you aren’t even bright enough to figure it out. You don’t even count the number of times that a cancer patient prays and dies anyway, you only jump on the (possible) stories of “miracles”. You are a complete, utter fool.

    And let’s talk close minded; scientists will change their mind when evidence exists to do so. When will the evidence that we actually have actually sink into your thick skull? When will you get it? Surviving cancer in the 6th century is a miracle Matt, surviving cancer now is the logical consequence of medical research which is hampered by your stupid ideology.

    I watched my friend die over two years, watched him waste away to absolutely nothing. He had lines running through his arms to his heart to deliver antibiotics. His bones hurt due to the medicine he took to increase his white cell count (at $4K per shot), he coughed up blood, bled from his mouth, could even go to the bathroom by himself. So the h@#% with your god. If he’s there, he’s nothing but trash.

    Phil, if I violated your board rules then I apologize. It’s been less than a year since I lost my friend and a believe a button has been pushed.

  20. Dan D

    @Rand

    There’s no general cure for Cancer obviously, but individual victims can can ‘cured’ of it by Science.

  21. “Most foreign citizens don’t.”

    I really doubt that. I think the majority of the world’s population believes in a supernatural super-hero.

    I don’t know if many cultures have the equivalent of an exorcism but I’d think they’d have something close.

    I mean if they depend on the supernatural to explain things then they don’t depend on mental health. And when somebody is or acts psychotic or has schizophrenia, then they must do something to cure the person.

    Anyway, my point is that even though you’re right about exorcism being a load of panda poop, the sentence quoted above shouldn’t be part of the argument.

    Quantity is the argument preferred by most Flintstones.

  22. David D

    @Josephine–

    As the level of one’s religious beliefs is inversely proportional to one’s intelligence

    Pretty big claim. Can you actually back that up?

    @Mr. Wolford–

    I am very sorry about your loss. You obviously have a lot of anger and frustration. I am curious–did your friend give up his faith before he died?

  23. Josephine

    Ian,

    I dare make a guess that you are not an atheist yourself.

    Some of the greatest minds of all time have also been deeply faithful, which garners even more respect as they are/were able to push the boundaries of human knowledge even as it contradicted their very faith.

    Several studies have proven that such an opinion as yours is false. To just quote the results of two such studies:

    “Of the American scientists elected to the National Academy of Science only 7 per cent believe in a personal God.”

    “Of the Fellows of the Royal Society [Britain] 78.8 per cent strongly disagree with the statement: ‘I believe in a personal God, that is the one who takes an interest in individuals, hears and answers prayers, is concerned with sin and transgressions, and passes judgement.'”

    These facts were taken from critically acclaimed book “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxfor University.

  24. KC

    Sigh.

    Faith is bandied about like a supernatural term. Faith is nothing more than trust. When you deposit money in a bank, you trust it will be there when you need it. When you consult a surgeon, you trust that it he or she is competent.

    Once it’s understood that faith is trust, then the question is not whether one has trust, but what one has trust in. Many a person has lost their savings because the trusted a con man; many a person has lost their lives to a quack. And this is just as important from a religious standpoint. Just having trust – faith – isn’t as important as *Who* that trust is in.

    Thus from a religious standpoint, the first part of BA’s statement is correct. Faith doesn’t cure cancer. A Christian would say that healing comes from God. The second part of that isn’t quite true in that science has found no magic bullet for cancer – and indeed, one may not exists.

  25. Guysmiley

    And that is complete B.S. and adds nothing to the discussion. In fact it makes you look like a total ‘tard. Some of the greatest minds of all time have also been deeply faithful, which garners even more respect as they are/were able to push the boundaries of human knowledge even as it contradicted their very faith.

    Not all great minds are snarky pompous atheists.

    Actually studies seem to indicate that it’s true.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-'less-likely-to-believe-in-God‘.html

  26. Hate to tell you this BA, but most foreign citizens probably do believe in angels/demons. Now, if you only consider foreign citizens those of Western nations, then o.k., I’ll give you that. Also, science does not cure cancer, at least not yet.

  27. Chapio

    I just don’t want the next President to away even more money from NASA. It seems that’s what Obama wants to do.

  28. Josephine

    And again,

    “Not all great minds are snarky pompous atheists.”

    Great minds are those who do not accept simple explainations, and as religion is one simple explaination, then those of great minds must also be proud atheists.

  29. Josephine
  30. GregV

    “Do you have any EVIDENCE that it didn’t?”

    In the linked article that Phil implored you to read, I take it that the 1960-era and prior trends were from a time when the science was immature, and faith played a bigger role. This stance doesn’t disprove your faith healing, but it shows that science is vastly more reliable and effective than faith. So, in scientific terms, if religion were a theory, it has produced no fruit; i.e. it has made no successful predictions. Time to move on.

  31. NathRuss

    USA – DOOMED!

  32. bigjohn756

    I heard just today that Jindal will not accept the VP nomination. I have not have time to confirm this yet.

  33. Sorry Josephine–but your “evidence” isn’t very conclusive. At the very least, quoting from a book by Dawkins, a rather vocal atheist, doesn’t exactly constitute an unbiased examination of the issue. While it is true that there is a general stereotype that “believers” are teh stoopid, living in trailers and clinging to their guns, that stereotype is just that, and no more valid than any other narrow-minded stereotypes, for example about blacks or Asians or Hispanics.

  34. JackC

    @Lledowyn: “… perhaps there’s something in the water in Louisiana?”

    When I lived down there for a short bit, we had a saying…

    “You really can’t blame these folks for being the way they are – they are downstream from the entire United States.”

    JC

  35. I sure hope you’re right bigjohn.

  36. Joe Meils

    Well, I wonder how this is going to “play” in the upcoming debates… I can see it now…

    Moderator: “Mr. McCain, I understand your choice for V.P. wants to force religion down the throats of every child in the United States, in the guise of scientific theory…”

    McCain: “Uh, er… can we talk about the Iraq war, instead? I hear things are going peachy over there, and our boys have that Hitler fella on the run.”

    Mod: “And what’s this about him pulling a “Linda Blair” on some girl? Was there pea soup involved?”

    McCain: “I’d really rather talk about making the tax cuts for the rich people permanent…”

    Mod: “Senator McCain, are you have a “good day” today? Can you tell us who the factions we’re fighting with are in Iraq?”

    McCain: “Look young fella, we just got through eight years of a President who can barely tie his own shoes, I think I have a right, as a vet, to have a free pass by the media, like he did…”

  37. Josephine

    David D,

    If it makes you feel less uncomfortable I can validate my claim by saying that the studies were not conducted by Dawkins. His book was nothing but the only source I had availiable to take the quotes from. Or, at least, that was before Guysmiley posted this link:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-less-likely-to-believe-in-God.html

  38. justcorbly

    I can never decide if politicians like Jindal really believe all the nonsense they spout, or are cyncial bastards playing to their constituency. Either way, Louisiana is screwed.

  39. tacitus

    It’s funny how the power of prayer, even if it’s as good and valid as believers say it is, is still far weaker than science.

    My sister has a friend whose daughter has just contracted a rare type of leukemia. A decade ago, that would have been a death sentence to be carried out within, at best, five years. Today, thanks to scientific research, she only has to take a couple of pills a day and her chances of surviving 5 years are over 95%, and patients are surviving far beyond that.

    It’s not a cure — she will have to take the pills the rest of her life (or until a cure is finally found) — but thousands of people are alive today purely because of the hard work of scientists and medical researchers. That’s from less than 10% to over 95% survival through science.

    Anyone care to estimate the very best the power of prayer has done in treating a disease? And if it’s less than 95%, why? Is science curing people God wanted to die?

  40. @KC
    Faith is bandied about like a supernatural term. Faith is nothing more than trust. When you deposit money in a bank, you trust it will be there when you need it. When you consult a surgeon, you trust that it he or she is competent.

    Not correct. Faith is a LOT more than trust. When I deposit money in a bank, I trust it will be there when I need it because there is evidence and assurance that it will be:

    – the bank has a history of being reliable
    – the government backs the deposit with guarantees (in canada, anyway)
    – I can research the past customer history of the bank

    There is, of course, no perfect guarantee that my money will be there, but there is considerable evidence that the bank is trustworthy. That’s why my deposit goes, say, to the Royal Bank of Canada and not Bob&Jane’s Savings est. June 2008, or Guido behind the Chinese restaurant around the corner.

    @KC
    When you consult a surgeon, you trust that it he or she is competent.

    Also incorrect. I can go research that surgeon’s qualifications, background, and past work and use the results of that inquiry to make predictions about his future work. Sure, I cannot prove that he is perfectly competent, but I can convince myself based on the preponderance of evidence that the surgeon is or is not adequately competent for my purposes.

    I don’t know about other people, but I actually do this one when I have to see a doctor about anything important, which has happened a few times.

    If I had faith in my bank or the doctor, I wouldn’t bother researching the quality of their services, I’d wing it because faith laughs in the face of evidence.

    Faith is trust beyond reason.

  41. tacitus

    Josephine, the author of that study is not a reputable person. It may not be Dawkins, but he is not the best source to be trusted on something like this:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/tainted_by_its_authorship.php

  42. Thanks, Josephine. I already read the article, and I didn’t (and I hope you didn’t either) find it very convincing or conclusive. You probably didn’t read this accompanying article, which discusses exactly who Prof. Lynn is. His not very intelligently held beliefs about racial IQ differences make his “study” even harder to value, don’t you think?

    If it is your OPINION that religious belief is inversely proportional to intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think you have the facts to make that anything other than a stereotypical opinion.

  43. whb03

    Gotta say, it is obvious that you believe in nothing which can be proved by science… But the fact that others do should be neither offensive nor put down. As long as one’s beliefs (or rather one’s actions based on said beliefs) neither hurt others nor force others to believe what they believe, they are entitled to those beliefs without judgement. It is not up to anyone to judge another’s beliefs. Like it or not, unless one is privy to something the rest of us are denied, NOBODY can say they know what the “truth” about our origins is, or about the existence (or lack thereof) of God. It’s when one’s “beliefs” start interfering with another’s rights or force someone to ignore reality – that’s where I draw the line. And that goes for extremists of any kind, whether Mustlim, Christian, Judaism, or Athiesm – it makes no difference. Don’t judge someone because their beliefs are not entirely based on science or because they are not yours. Yes, folks, believe it or not, plenty of intelligent people – including scientists – are extremely religious. Intelligent people are NOT by nature athiests. Religion and science are, by nature, mutually exclusive, and until we see evidence (PROVABLE evidence) otherwise, separate is where they need to stay. There is a valid reason for separation of Church and State. Science and logic often have nothing to do with one’s religious or spiritual beliefs, and being offended by them serves no purpose except to put them down in the name of “science”. That ain’t what the U.S. is supposed to be about.

    By this reasoning – I completely agree that forcing ID to be taught as science is completely wrong, for all of the reasons mentioned above. Yes, Creationists, etc. have a right to their beliefs without the judgement of athiests. Just as long as proponents of ID do not force said beliefs into the science classroom with no scientific basis. This guy is a potential VP? THAT is offensive. Not because of his beliefs, but because he is attempting to force them on us as an “alternative” to science – IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM!

  44. tacitus

    Intelligent people are NOT by nature athiests.

    I don’t think you can say that any more that you can say the opposite.

    And I don’t think too many people here have a problem with religious people who don’t use their religious beliefs to determine public policy and I am sure you will not object to the freedom of non-believers to ridicule if where it is warranted (yes, it’s not nice sometimes, but that’s freedom of speech for you).

    I have plenty of Christian friends and family who I love to death, and that is not conditional on what their religious beliefs are (though I guess if they tried a full-court press conversion, that could be a problem).

  45. @whb03
    Don’t judge someone because their beliefs are not entirely based on science or because they are not yours.

    Are you kidding? Everyone does this all the time. It’s a pillar on which we base laws. It’s the very foundation on which we organize into societies and cultures.

    I absolutely will judge you based on your beliefs, and if I think your beliefs are ludicrous and based on little more than fairy tales, I will treat you accordingly. If your beliefs stand up to logic and reason, then I’ll accept them even if I disagree with them.

    Nobody owes your beliefs respect. Respect for beliefs, like any respect, must be earned.

  46. @whb03
    Intelligent people are NOT by nature athiests.

    I disagree. All people are by nature atheist. They have to be taught (more usually, forced) to be religious. They still KILL people who aren’t the right religion in some parts of the world. Atheists are shouted down and marginalized all over the world… and yet, they still keep coming back.

    No child says “I love Jesus” as his first words. They have to be taught to love Jesus, and they’re taught it by pressure from family, and later from pressure added by associates. It’s often difficult to throw off the yoke of religion, because the religious folk won’t let you.

  47. whb03

    @Evolving Squid:

    “Nobody owes your beliefs respect. Respect for beliefs, like any respect, must be earned.”

    I thinks your missing the point. Nobody is “asking” anyone to “respect” anyone’s beliefs here. I AM saying that forcing others (or attempting to do so) into your beliefs is wrong. I am also saying that yes, people are entitled to their beliefs. And let me be clear – the tenants on which this society was based – inaliable rights – are NOT “beliefs”. They are not spiritual. They exist to keep humans free so long as they do not transgress on the rights and freedoms of others.

    And you’re missing the point about separating spiritualism from science (i.e., reality as we know it and prove it). We have a basic inherent right to the truth as presented by evidence. That would be called science. Forcing someone to abandon science in the name of spiritualism is not only unethical, it is just plain dangerous, not to mention a transgression against the rights of others. That is what the “ID” proponents are doing. And all while calling it “science” in the process. Yes, such people should most definately be treated accordingly.

    Yes, “beliefs” can influence society – including extremist Islamic states (or, as I see things now, more and more of an extremist Christian state). Most reasonable societies live on the notion that people believe many things outside the realm of science, and that judging others on their spiritual beliefs is ludicrous and accomplishes nothing – as long as they acknowledge and respect reality (science). Including the U.S.A., at least until the past decade. As I said earlier, it’s called Separation of Church and State, and it is the one inaliable right currently being trashed by this administration and “proponents” of ID. “Beliefs” do not belong in state administration, they belong in the church, philosphy classroom, one’s home – but NOT in the laws which govern others. Those laws need to “respect” everyone’s right to believe whatever they believe, as long as such beliefs are not translated into behaviors which cut down the rights of others. Inaliable rights – those are not beliefs, they are the basis of humanity. They are what separate us from the lower animals. They are necessary for civilization. This is not a belief. It is a proven fact.

    Human beings, for whatever reason, have a tendancy towards spiritualism, not necessarily to answer the questions which science cannot necessarily answer. People generally know where to draw the line. Most recognize that science must be acknowledged, respected, and expanded, based soley on evidence and evidence alone. But they also have a spiritual side which is completely separate from science, and most know that they dare not force this on others in place of science. Or in the place of inaliable rights as dictated in our constitution, currently under destruction by our current government.

    You are free to sneer at the spiritual beliefs of others. But disrespecting one who accepts that science is both real and necessary to survival of the human race (and acknowledging it as an inaliable right), while separating scientific reality from spiritualism – that is not exactly treating them “accordingly”, as far as I can tell. When they start forcing the denial of science – game over. That is my point.

    As for your complete disregard for anyone who believes anything spiritual, who separates his scienctific knowledge from his religios beliefs and believes in both – calling such people ludicrous is just going to piss them off and cause those extremists to pass ludicrous laws like forcing ID into the classroom. It’s your right, but it ain’t a very smart way to treat people.

  48. It’s your right, but it ain’t a very smart way to treat people.

    I disagree. it’s a great way to treat people. It forces them out into the open. It exposes them to scrutiny. It makes them justify themselves in the public forum. It literally shines light into the darkness.

    To just tolerate their beliefs and stay quiet as long as they aren’t immediately hurting anyone implice tacit acceptance. That prolongs the problem, and prevents the light of reason from shining into that darkness. It less painful in the short term, but hurts us all in the long term.

    It was people standing up and challenging religious beliefs that got science to where it is today. If we are to advance civilization past superstition, we must at all times challenge fairy tale beliefs at every opportunity. Sure, battles may be lost in the process, but the war will be won.

  49. implice = implies. sorry for the typo.

  50. Ian

    “I dare make a guess that you are not an atheist yourself.”

    And you would be wrong. I just don’t look down my nose at those who are not and pat myself on my back as I sit upon my ivory tower of rationality.

  51. Ian

    One more thing the term “Personal God” is loaded, and you and Mr Dawkins (hardly an non biased source) knows it.

    If the question had been not about a “personal God” that takes direct interest in the lives of mere mortals but rather a divine being of any kind, personal or detached and unknowable the results would have been a bit different.

    Even rationalists know how to lie via statistics and framing the question to fit their own biases.

  52. whb03

    I think we’re basically saying the same thing from two different angles – the main difference being that one’s spiritual beliefs – completely separate from their acceptance of science – need not be trashed.

    Challenging people to question their beliefs is healthy and necessary. Calling someone unintelligent strictly because of those beliefs is not advancing civilization. Or science. Refusing to acknowledge their right to those beliefs is criminal. As I see it, only the first and second seem to apply to our argument.

    Either way, arguing with fanatics of any kind is a waste of time.

  53. Refusing to acknowledge their right to those beliefs is criminal.

    I agree with everyone’s right to be as foolish or stupid as they see fit. However, everyone else has the right to treat the foolish and stupid for what they are. Failure to acknowledge that right is also criminal.

    Either way, arguing with fanatics of any kind is a waste of time.

    Not exactly. Arguing with a fanatic makes the fanatic scream and howl and exposes the fanatic for what he is. That allows other people to see the effect of fanaticism.

    Every howling religious fundamentalist creates atheists every time he opens his mouth. It’s therefore crucial to torque ‘em up whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

  54. Evolving Squid–

    I wonder how many of your friends and people who love you keep their beliefs hidden from you, simply because they love you and desire to remain your friend.

    “To just tolerate their beliefs and stay quiet as long as they aren’t immediately hurting anyone implice tacit acceptance. That prolongs the problem, and prevents the light of reason from shining into that darkness. It less painful in the short term, but hurts us all in the long term.”

    Are you really that intolerant? I mean, change just a few words around there, and you sound as if you could be launching a 12the century Crusade.

    I guess “arguing with a fanatic” really does expose them for what they are. You do recognize your own fanaticism, right?

  55. This point has largely been lost in the “religious-people-are-stupid-and all-atheists-are-bigots’ fray, but I would still like to toss my nickel in regarding the issue of what us foreigners would think if Jindal becomes VP.

    George Bush said that God wanted him to be president, and that God guided his decision to go to Iraq. Faith-based initiatives and the veto of embryonic stem-cell research, no doubt highly motivated by Bush’s ‘faith’.

    At least from the perspective of this foreigner, we’ve seen this before. So don’t worry, we couldn’t possibly think any less of you!

    (that was tongue-in-cheek….no one get mad at me please!)

  56. whb03

    OK, ES, here’s my last rebuke, you get the last word…

    “Not exactly. Arguing with a fanatic makes the fanatic scream and howl and exposes the fanatic for what he is.”

    Except that you’re not screaming and howling, you’re arguing rationally! I can’t believe I am actually taking the side of religion, it’s probably the first time. But I have a valid reason.

    My point, which I have not really made clear by my apparent defense of religion, is this: religious beliefs are not morally wrong until they can be proven otherwise. Science cannot yet even begin to explain or disprove the basis of many religious beliefs. Many athiests[not all!] believe, however, that it is wrong to believe anything outside of scientific explanation, just as Christian supremesists believe that questioning anything about God is morally wrong. It is, according to athiests, heresy to science.

    Yes, people try to debunk science by stating that the Pythagorean Theorem cannot technically prove that for every right traingle, a square + b sqared = c squared. That’s not what I am talking about. Reasonably, this theorem can be depended upon to send humans to space or make tall buildings which religious fanatics like to tear down because you don’t believe what they believe. There is, however, a lot that science cannot do or explain – at least not yet. We can’t make life from nonliving materials – yet. We can’t create a thinking, sentient machine – yet. We can’t break the speed of light, we can’t create wormholes or artificial gravity or force shields. We don’t know how the human brain is able to be self-aware (though we are getting closer). Heck, we can’t even send a man to Mars yet, but that’s not due to science, it’s due to political stupidity. Science will beat the current administration (I hope). But we can’t prove that a greater existence did not make us – yet. Some things are simply beyond the realm of science, at least for the moment. It was a set of beliefs, a belief in the imposible, which were later proven true – it is this which brought science to where it is today, not a prohibition against religious or spiritual beliefs outside the realm of science (as it existed at that time).

    The fact is, science explains a lot, science got to where it is by refusing to bow down to tradition and superstition. And it must continue. But the fact is, beyond the realm of science, until proven otherwise, anything is up for grabs. It is belief, not fact. Humans tend towards belief beyond science, that is not likely to change nor in my opinion should it be. That is not morally wrong, as long as they do not forbid the truth as proven by science, or forbid the advancement of science. And it does NOT make a man less intelligent. I know many religious extremists will try to use my arguments to try to discredit science. They are idiots, and I have no tolerance for them, just ask my idiot Lutheran ex-college roommate who calls me a heretic for questioning the existence of God. I have no more tolerance for his rhetoric than I do for any form of bullying. But to tell someone that a belief far beyond anything which science can currently explain is essentially morally wrong and living in the dark, to “shine light” on that which cannot yet be seen (or proven) by refusing to “tolerate” another person’s way of getting through this world – sorry, but that falls under the label of extremism, just of a different kind. Until such beliefs can reasonably be proven otherwise, you BELIEVE that those who don’t agree with your disbelief in anything spiritual are fools – and if you can’t back it up with science yet, you are stooping to the level of religious zelouts by calling anyone who believes otherwise a fool.

    So in short – Athiesm can’t be proven any more than Christianity, or vice versa. Not yet. Perhaps someday one will be indisputedly disproven. But for now, both are beyond the current realm of science and are beliefs until proven otherwise. That does not make either one immoral or unintelligent unless taken to the extreme.

    Chrisitian supremesists – don’t even THINK of using my arguments in attempt to debunk science. You may well be proven wrong someday, and if you are truely fanatic, you’ll be too stupid to adjust your beliefs accordingly. I will have no sympathy for you, now or then. My argument is NEVER against science or even necessarily against intolerance, it is against the notion that you’re right and anyone who does not agree is an idiot, when your viewpoint can’t [yet] be proven through scientific reason. I hope this makes it clear where I stand with fundamentalism, extremism, whatever you call it…

    Now – if Jindal becomes VP, I’m converting to Budhism and meditating in a desert for the rest of my days… OK, maybe not, but it’s far better than witnessing the trashing of science we are about to see taken to the next level.

  57. Posted this link in http://www.surfurls.com .Its a social bookmarking site.

  58. Blaidd Drwg

    @ Josephine:

    I noticed during the primaries, it seemed that every few days the talking heads were analyzing the demographics of who voted for whom. By a huge margin, those who had college degrees or better voted for Obama, while those with high school diplomas or less tended to vote for Clinton.

    @ Evolving Squid:

    Your theory about arguing with fanatics to get them to reveal their lunacy is spot on, but you need to remember, in such a debate it is VITAL to keep calm yourself, to show your audience a clear difference between howling nuttiness and cool logic and reason.

  59. You do recognize your own fanaticism, right?

    Oh yes.

    I am fanatic about ending the reliance of people on fairy tales. I am fanatic about seeing the end of people’s fear of unseen super-beings who arbitrarily hand out punishment for horrible crimes such as using a condom. I am fanatic about seeing the end of people’s love of unseen super-beings who hand out reward for loving acts such as killing a few thousand people because they don’t worship the super-being the same way as someone else. I am fanatic about bringing about the arrival of a day when people can think and speak without fear that a thought or a word will offend the followers of some unseen magic man who demands the death of those who offend, or maybe demands that they just not get promoted, or hired or any number of other little discriminatory shafts. I’m fanatic about the arrival of a day when we have no more gel-haired witch-doctors on TV soliciting money from the weak willed and vulnerable in the name of some unseen spirit.

    I’m not afraid to say it. I really, really, really want the end of religion. If humans can’t put a stop to religion it will destroy us. I’m fanatic about not being killed in some kind of war or purge brought about by the poison that is religion.

    But I am not prepared to kill people to get what I want and I recognize that it’s unlikely I’ll see what I want in my lifetime. I’m not prepared to require in law that people not believe. I’m not prepared to imprison people for their beliefs. I’m also not prepared to sit on my arse and let religious beliefs go unchallenged just because people have a right to believe. I treat religious beliefs as equivalent to belief in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, selkies, elves, wendigo, and any number of other childish, ludicrous beliefs.

    It’s the people with these beliefs that want me to shut up, to go away, to stop bothering them. They don’t like to see their untenable beliefs challenged because it makes them uncomfortable, so they say that they shouldn’t be challenged because they have a right to the beliefs… not realizing that just because you have a right to believe something doesn’t grant immunity from having that belief questioned. It’s not me being intolerant, it’s the believers. They’re so insecure in their beliefs that they have to squelch those who would challenge them – if they can’t do it in law, they do it by innuendo and social pressure, just like what we’re seeing in this thread.

    So yes, I’m a fanatic, and proud of it.

  60. ES–

    “It’s not me being intolerant, it’s the believers. They’re so insecure in their beliefs that they have to squelch those who would challenge them – if they can’t do it in law, they do it by innuendo and social pressure, just like what we’re seeing in this thread.”

    So–it’s okay for you to challenge the belief of others, but not okay for them to challenge yours?

    Yes–you are a fanatic, no doubt about it. So really–what makes your fanaticism different from the Crusaders, or the jihadists? Oh, that’s it–you’re RIGHT.

  61. religious beliefs are not morally wrong until they can be proven otherwise.

    Just so I’m clear on this one.

    I don’t think that someone believing in some unseen superman is morally wrong. I think it’s childish and silly. If it ended there, I’d be relatively happy in a world full of childish, silly people, even if I didn’t subscribe to their particular oddness.

    But when that belief in an unseen superman is used to to compel people, to steal from people, to lie to people, to repress people, to control people… then it becomes morally wrong.

    I know a bunch of Wiccans. I think that Wicca is silly and childish. However, I’ve never seen any of the Wiccans I know try to hurt someone because of a belief, never seen them try to compel someone to believe or behave a certain way, never seen them steal in the name of Wicca, and so forth. Maybe other Wiccans do these things, I don’t know. But I do know that their beliefs don’t really pop up on my radar… there are simply bigger religious fish to fry right now.

    I wonder how many of your friends and people who love you keep their beliefs hidden from you, simply because they love you and desire to remain your friend.

    None of which I am aware. I welcome my friends to disagree with me. We often have debates, sometimes quite heated. I can assure you they don’t all agree with me. I can think you have some silly beliefs that defy logic and reason, beliefs that I really would like you to change, and still not hate you. You are more than your religion, or at least should be. I don’t hate children who believe in santa claus, why would I hate an adult who believes in an invisible sky fairy unless that adult is using his belief in a sky fairy to harm me in some way? I just think both beliefs are silly. It’s mildly cute in a child, perhaps.

    If you’re a person who thinks that because someone disagrees with your religious beliefs that person hates you, I probably don’t want to be your friend, and you probably don’t want to be mine. It’s that very hatred that I want to eliminate from the world.

  62. So–it’s okay for you to challenge the belief of others, but not okay for them to challenge yours?

    They’re welcome to challenge mine. What’s being said up near the top is that I should keep quiet and not be confrontational. The religious are saying “Don’t challenge us, we’re entitled to our beliefs, nyah.” They’re saying it’s wrong to question religion because it makes them uncomfortable.

    But if we can never question religion, how can we move past it? Certainly the religious question science at every opportunity. Do as we say, not as we do?

    So really–what makes your fanaticism different from the Crusaders, or the jihadists? Oh, that’s it–you’re RIGHT.

    I’m not killing people who believe in magic. That’s the difference.
    I’m not passing laws to restrict people who believe in fairies. That’s the difference.

  63. whb03

    “You are more than your religion, or at least should be.”

    I don’t agree with your intolerance to religion, but I gotta agree with you there. I wish more self-proclaimed fanatics held the same view. Funny, I see this out of athiest fanatacism but never out of any form of religious fanaticism. If something did create us, you would think that those who believe would realize that he made us sentient beings with brains and only gave us the ability to reason in order to survive. You would think that they would realize that one’s beliefs do not save his soul, only his actions could possibly do something like that. Not that you have the same take, it’s just what I notice (or rather notice a lack thereof) about those so-called fanatic “believers”. And this doesn’t make me an athiest, but I wish the “other side” would wake up and realize that they cannot morally enslave or confuse or kill anyone who doesn’t see things their way. I think I like the athiest fanatics better, they are at least at the forefront of exposure to the truth.

    But I gotta admit, I do envy those who have faith in a higher power, maybe they know or see something I don’t. No, I don’t envy fundies. They don’t believe anything, they are, as you said, too insecure to acknolwedge that they could be wrong. I’m talking about those who believe in a higher power and use this belief to be better human beings and strive to higher goals (such as the advancement of science). [This is not an invitation for conversion attempts by those seeking to save my soul. Try it and watch the smackdown.]

    If anything, I suppose that I am also a fanatic about my belief that nobody knows unless, as I said earlier, someone is privy to something I just don’t get, or until it is proven. Beyond what anyone can see or prove, we simply don’t know, and until proven otherwise, any belief one way or the other is just that – a belief. That entitles nobody to the monopoly of the truth until proven otherwise. So I guess I am also a fanatic. But I won’t try to convert, and I won’t slam planes into buildings or push ID into the science classroom to prove it… And neither do athiests. Gotta admit, religious fanatics, they have one on you there… Using a tenant which is supposed to be one of your “faith”!

    Guess I had one more thing to say after all.

  64. SparksFly

    I believe in God or a higher consciousness, whatever you want to call it, but I know I am also highly intelligent. I know evolution is a fact, not a theory, & the theoretical part of evolution is simply whether or not we actually evolved from apes. The missing link that would prove that theory has not been found, but still, evolution occurs in life & nature, & is a fact.

    I am for abortion because, although I find it personally distasteful, I know it is not going away if made illegal & the lives of many women, in addition to the unborn, would be in jeopardy without safe, legal abortion being available.

    I am against the death penalty. I don’t see any reason, logic or humanity behind being anti-abortion, yet pro-death penalty.

    I believe pharmacists should not have the right to refuse contraceptives to customers. Don’t be a pharmacist if you have a problem dispensing ANY legal medications. I do not consider contraceptives to be abortion. I consider condoms to be a safe, mostly reliable contraceptive & I believe sex education should be taught in public schools.

    I don’t believe creationism should be taught in schools. Save that for home or Sunday school.

    I do not believe for one nano-second the Adam & Eve story is real & consider it symbolic of a patriarchal shift in society. I think the story itself was created for no other purpose than eradicating Goddess religions, which are the earliest religions for which artifacts have been found.

    I prayed my ass off every night for more than a month for a friend’s 19 year old nephew who had testicular cancer & a large, softball sized tumor in the area of his stomach. I never met the kid & I know there were many people who did know him also praying. The doctors successfully treated the testicular cancer, but when they brought him back in so they could take a stab at the tumor, it was completely gone. Call it what you want..a fluke, a miracle, a mistake that it was ever there, I don’t care, but I do believe the power of many prayers played a role in that. I do not believe, however, that one should avoid professional medical help because of one’s religious beliefs.

    Don’t call me stupid because I believe a higher intelligence plays some role in this world. You demonstrate only your own ignorance lumping all spiritual people into one category along with fundamentalist Christians. You are acting just like Christians act about Muslims. You are the one demonstrating a lack of intelligence, logic and reason.

    But hey…I’ll pray for you anyway.

  65. Quiet Desperation

    Eehhhh…. I can’t see McCain picking Bobby Jindal. Jindal is 36 years old. Too much potential for “McCain is twice as old as his VP!” attack ads. ;-)

  66. Quiet Desperation

    Hug time

    {{{{{{{{{{Richard Wolford}}}}}}}}}}

    I sort of know how you feel. My mum is going through a lot of pain and suffering now. Not cancer, just basic old age and a spine that has seen better decades. They took about 16 X-rays today from all different angles. She sounded more upbeat than she has in weeks, because, despite being a spiritualist, she believes in science, and it was at work today.

  67. Why can’t we all just get along?

  68. Ronn Blankenship

    Evolving Squid wrote:

    “I’m not afraid to say it. I really, really, really want the end of religion. If humans can’t put a stop to religion it will destroy us. I’m fanatic about not being killed in some kind of war or purge brought about by the poison that is religion.”

    Granted, some people use religion as an excuse to hate and even kill others who don’t see things the same way that they do.

    Millions of others are inspired by religion to genuinely love all mankind and to treat them in accordance with teachings like the Golden Rule.

    Granted, it is not necessary to believe in any particular religion or religion or God in general in order to show genuine love toward your fellow (wo)man and to treat him (her) the way you would want him (her) to treat you.

    The problem is that obviously many people choose not to love their fellow (wo)man and treat him (her) the way that they would want him (her) her to treat them. Such choices lead to much of what you read in your daily newspaper or hear on your daily newscast or from some other news source. (Including but not by any means limited to most of the issues in the current Presidential campaign and other political contests.)

    So . . . does anyone have any suggestions, religious- _or_ secular-based, about how to solve _that_ problem, the real problem, and convincing (not forcing) people to get along with each other instead of hating and fighting with and frequently killing each other?

  69. So . . . does anyone have any suggestions, religious- _or_ secular-based, about how to solve _that_ problem, the real problem, and convincing (not forcing) people to get along with each other instead of hating and fighting with and frequently killing each other?

    John Lennon did…

    http://tinyurl.com/m5xsc

  70. KC

    Evolving Squid:

    Where did you get the idea that faith is trust beyond reason? Faith *is* trust. Period. You have made an assessment that that banks are solvent for thus and thus reasons; you say you trust as surgeon based on thus and so. In simple terms, you have based your trust on extrapolation from data that you believe is accurate.

    Why do you assume faith is different?

    If you say because many religious people do not examine their faith, I remind you that many a person deposits money in a bank without giving one thought to the institution’s financial solvency; many a person goes to a surgeon on nothing more than a verbal recommendation. Here on the board, I notice BA has exhibited a great amount of trust – faith – that the Washington Post story describing McCain’s superstitions is completely accurate and isn’t a political “chop job.”

    There is no difference between and act of faith and and act of trust. None. The only difference between the two words is that some have equated faith has being religious and, having scorned religion, look at the term with disdain.

  71. Richard Eis

    Basically the people in power are those who represent you as a country. If your people in power worry about the boogie men in the closet or start wars because the nice voices in their head tell them to then that is how everybody will be seen. When you are big and powerful then you can get away with that…but…

    Also, a warning…we have seen this before. Many, many times. When this guy gets more power he will damage and corrupt everything in every way possible. That is his mission. It is from God and it will not stop even if you give him everything he demands. That will only make him want more.

  72. There is no difference between and act of faith and and act of trust.

    That is simply untrue. Faith lets you believe in the face of contrary evidence. Simple trust does not.

  73. JohnW

    I wonder what other countries’ dignitaries would think of us if Jindal were our VP?

    Couldn’t care less what other countries think of us. But I think it’s damned odd, to say the least…

  74. Ray

    “So maybe this won’t be a big issue if Jindal gets picked by McCain to be his VP. But I think it should be. Maybe a lot of Americans believe in such things, but most foreign citizens don’t. I wonder what other countries’ dignitaries would think of us if Jindal were our VP?”

    I would note that India worships literally hundreds of gods, most of AFrica believes in spirits and most of the rest of the world (except for N.A. and Europe) is quite comfortable believing in angels, spirits, etc.

  75. KC

    Evolving Squid:

    Ever talk with a victim of spouse abuse? How they trust, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it was just an isolated outburst, or that their spouse “didn’t really mean it,” or that their spouse “really loves” them.

    Or have you ever observed someone who has just lost money in a vending machine. Usually they first hit the coin return several times. Many with next thump or bump the machine. Then most people will put money into the machine and try it again. Why? Because people trust vending machines to work, and persist in that trust even when faced with evidence to the contrary.

    There’s many more examples. The classic is the story of Nicholas Chauvin.

    You may find it uncomfortable that trust is the same as faith. That doesn’t change the fact that it is.

  76. BMcP

    I wonder what other countries’ dignitaries would think of us if Jindal were our VP?

    If it’s India, they probably be pretty happy with the fact.

  77. I’m going to laugh my butt off if Louisiana gets hit by a major hurricane this summer.

  78. You may find it uncomfortable that trust is the same as faith. That doesn’t change the fact that it is.

    I would agree that for many people it is the same.

    For me, and many other people, faith is a leap far beyond basic trust.

  79. Ever talk with a victim of spouse abuse? How they trust, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it was just an isolated outburst, or that their spouse “didn’t really mean it,” or that their spouse “really loves” them.

    Yes, I have, and it’s faith, not trust. They don’t trust that their spouse won’t do it again. They *KNOW* it’s going to happen again. They *TRUST* that it will happen again. They have faith that it’s all over.

  80. Just my two off-topic cents:

    That religion breeds contempt and warfare is baloney. It’s just a convenient excuse for Tribe A of human animals to beat the everliving crap out of Tribe B of human animals. Any ideology, sacred or profane, religious or secular, fits the bill. If we’re going to destroy religion for being a cancer upon humanity, then say goodbye to any and all ideologies on the off chance they may inspire someone to violence.

    Perhaps John Lennon did have an idea of what a utopia would look like, but “Imagine” certainly isn’t much an effective action plan and it’s notable that it doesn’t take into account what the human animal actually is rather than what well-meaning Aunt Nellies want him to be.

    Scientific evidence is pretty clear on the fact that we are not as rational as we would like ourselves to believe, constantly making decisions without rational thought and, even when rational thought is attempted, it usually just ends up rationalizing what the actor was going to do anyway. Any discussion on human societies has to, at its core, accept this basic fact that humanity consists of stupid monkeys to actually get anywhere. Solutions (more like mitigating actions) for human problems are inevitably as complex as the animals we are trying to control.

  81. @KC
    The classic is the story of Nicholas Chauvin.

    I had never heard the story, and your prompting made me look it up. Interesting. Thanks for that.

  82. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Rand:

    Wait, there’s a cure for cancer? I must be behind the times.

    Obviously, which would have been easy to find out by following that link. 96 % survival rate compared to an initial ~ 10 % for one of the ugly kinds. That’s akin to the survival rate for many other deadly sicknesses where there is a cure.

    And I bet it is closing in on the survival rate of sicknesses that aren’t called “deadly” but for which there is no cure yet. Hmm. Isn’t alcoholism supposed to give ~ 4 – 5 % dead as seen over a whole population who comes in contact with alcohol?

    As Pharyngula said: “Evidence-based medicine. It works.”

  83. Ronn Blankenship

    Evolving Squid responded to the question . . .

    So . . . does anyone have any suggestions, religious- _or_ secular-based, about how to solve _that_ problem, the real problem, and convincing (not forcing) people to get along with each other instead of hating and fighting with and frequently killing each other?

    John Lennon did…

    John Lennon also married Yoko Ono. ‘Nuff said concerning his judgment . . .

  84. Robbie

    BA: “So maybe this won’t be a big issue if Jindal gets picked by McCain to be his VP. But I think it should be. Maybe a lot of Americans believe in such things, but most foreign citizens don’t. I wonder what other countries’ dignitaries would think of us if Jindal were our VP?”

    Are you serious here? This is freakin’ ridiculous. Despite all the problems foreigners seem to have with America and Bush, all of our allies are still allies. Europe has been electing very pro-American leaders. The other big countries are pro-America too. And Bush is known to be very religious! How would that change at all?

    Is Obama not a Christian?

    Is that going to negatively affect our image in the world?

    Are other world leaders not religious?

    And how do you measure our image? By opinion polls in foreign countries? Absurd. All that matters are our diplomatic, military, and economic relations and alliances, which are holding strong.

  85. John Lennon also married Yoko Ono. ‘Nuff said concerning his judgment . . .

    Touché

  86. Jim

    Oh, dear!

    So many experts on so many subjects… I am lost in the absolutism that seems to rule here.

    Let’s face it! No one has to prove anything to anyone and everyone can believe what makes them comfortable.

    Why would you waste your energy arguing about something no one listens to anyway? Live and let live.

    Besides, no matter who is voted in they’ll turn up doing someone’s bidding, like, those who spend all that money to get them elected like always.

  87. LaCreption

    Medieval times still continue.

  88. LaCreption

    @Matt 12 Jun 2008 at 2:38 pm

    So you believe in an all powerful invisible magical narcissistic psychopath who only shows himself if you believe in him in the first place and then address everything that is convenient for the continuity of the illusion to this mystical creature from bronze age myths. Great. Absolutely splendid. I bet this approach works even with imaginary spaghetti.

    I’d rather stick to statistics, facts and common sense. Diseases can be deadly but aren’t always. No need to invoke invisible wizards if somebody is cured ‘by itself’. It’s nothing special.

  89. Blizno

    “Faith” has two meanings. One meaning is simple trust. The second meaning, usually with the word capitalized, is belief in a god or gods. The two are profoundly different.

    Having faith that a certain bank will not fail is nothing like having Faith.

    Religious faith (Faith) is belief despite the lack of evidence and usually in spite of vast evidence to the contrary. Believing that praying for a sick friend will make a difference despite all other prayers made during one’s lifetime having no more effect than random chance is Faith.

  90. I know evolution is a fact, not a theory, & the theoretical part of evolution is simply whether or not we actually evolved from apes. The missing link that would prove that theory has not been found, but still, evolution occurs in life & nature, & is a fact.

    Ummm, no. Evolution is a theory in the scientific meaning of the word, which means it’s a consistent body of explanation that explains all available evidence and has made several accurate and non-trivial explanation. “Theory” is basically as high up the ladder as a scientific explanation get get and basically means that it’s very unlikely to be the wrong explanation. The problem is that certain anti-science types insist on pretending that the word “theory” is being used in its colloquial sense of “something I just made up while I was drunk”.

    By contrast, a “fact” is simply an observation; one piece of evidence that requires a theory to explain it. The observation that all mammals have the same limb structures is a fact that is explained by the theory of evolution.

    There is absolutely nothing in doubt about the descent of humans from other apes. There are two dozen intermediate species known from the fossil record that provide an excellent map of how humans evolved. Genetic analysis shows that we are 99.5% identical to chimpanzees and 97% identical to gorillas. Our inability to produce vitamin C is due to a mutation common to all primates, but unknown in other mammals; the fact that we can get scurvy is explained by us being descended from apes. No other theory has any explanation for this observation.

  91. accurate and non-trivial explanation

    Gah. That should be “predictions”.

    Sorry.

  92. Electro

    Robbie,

    “And how do you measure our image? By opinion polls in foreign countries? Absurd. All that matters are our diplomatic, military, and economic relations and alliances, which are holding strong.”

    Here is just one example of why you should care what foreign citizens think of your leaders.

    Bush is probably the most globally disliked US president in history, when the British people heard that he was proposing a rabidly interventionist policy which would inevitably lead to war, based in part because god told him to, the vast, VAST majority of western Europeans not only thought he was starkers but questioned the faculties of anyone who would vote for him.
    Just under 50% as I understand.

    Tony Blair backed him, Tony Blair lost his job and forever tarnished any legacy he may have had in the eyes of his countrymen.

    The current British government has been put on notice that any foreign or domestic policy that even appears to be serving American interests had better be worth a trip to dole office even if it’s a good deal for Britain.

    It will take at least a generation for this animosity to fade, and in the mean time the prospects of one of your closest allies backing you unconditionally are rather dim to say the least.

    Need British help convincing Brussels to adopt trade policies that are more favorable to the US? Sorry old chum.

    Need a friendly vote in the UN Security Council? We’re fresh out I’m afraid.

    Need more troops for Afghanistan or Iraq? Get bent.

    For the record I personally find the majority of the American populace to be quite admirable. But my experience on the British street tells me that the over riding opinion of their voting public is shaped by their view of your leaders. It’s not flattering, and British leaders answer to British voters.

  93. Gary Ansorge

    Matt: Ther have been some tests of the efficacy of prayer in assisting the healing preoces and so far they’ve been shown to do no better than chance.
    How could this persons cancer have been “cured”?
    Check the medical literature. Spontaneous remissions of cancer occur in about 1 in 1000 of cancer cases. Most of those had no more coordinated prayer than we would expect from the concern of family and friends but still,,,only 1 in 1000? Not good odds. I’ll take my chances with modern medicine.

    As an aside, I have a skin cancer on my left ear. Not malignant, just the usual thing that crops up as we white folk age. My internest chose to merely observe it for a while. Coincidentally, about the same time as that was diagnosed, I began taking testosterone supplements,since my own levels were in the bucket(quite common in older males). Within a month after starting the testosterone, the skin cancer had faded to a fraction of it’s former size. Right now it is nearly completely gone. Testosterone is a known stimulant of the immune system but if I had a serious cancer, I’d want the best and most potent drugs medical science could come up with. Even though I’m a mystic(and rational materialist) I believe we have big brains for a purpose and that purpose is to understand the universe. A real god would have to let its creation find its own way. Any other way would be just another dictator.

    ,,,and we have had enough of those,,,

    GAry 7

  94. tpeterson

    A suggestion for all those posters who promote the idea of a God’s influence in our lives.

    Since none of you cannot agree on what God actually is, isn’t, does, doesn’t do, says, speaks, etc, I have an idea, LET’S LET HIM SOLVE THESE SILLY DEBATES!

    Yes. If God really does exist, lets let HIM answer these questions – in an unambiguous, clear, everyone hears it at the same time, no room for questions or interpretations manner.

    Should be mere child’s play for the “creator” of the universe.. eh?

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for the answer…

  95. David Greenberg

    I responded to the Parker op ed piece via today’s Letters section of the Cincinnati Enquirer (below). As someone who lived in Louisiana for 14 years, the mind set of the natives there set them apart from most of the mid-south section of the country. Just ask them!

    Kathleen Parker in her column of 07/24/2008 in the Enquirer, comparing Romney and Jindal as McCain’s potential presidential running mates in November, made some very interesting points for both. In it she contrasted Romney’s experience and Jindal’s youth and high intellect. Unfortunately for Jindal, however, one must question the intelligence of his recent decision to sign into Louisiana law the bill to support the teaching of Intelligent Design, i.e. Creationism, as an alternative to Evolution in the State’s secular school system. This was a point however, that Ms. Parker failed to mention.

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