Post-Christian America

By Sean Carroll | April 5, 2009 11:04 am

We’re a long way from the day when the United States could reasonably be described as a non-religious nation. But we’re getting there. It’s sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees, but the longer-term trends are pretty unambiguous. (Which is not to say it’s impossible they will someday reverse course.) I suspect that, hand-wringing about arrogance and “fundamentalist atheists” notwithstanding, the exhortations of Richard Dawkins and his ilk have had something to do with it. If nothing else, they provide clear examples of people who think it’s perfectly okay to not believe in God, and be proud of it. That’s not an insignificant factor. It’s most likely a small perturbation on top of more significant long-term cultural trends, but it’s there.

Newsweek reports the facts: the number of self-identified Christians in the U.S. has fallen by 10 points over the last twenty years, from 86 to 76 percent. The number of people who are unaffiliated with any religion has jumped forward, from 5 percent in 1988 to 12 percent today. And the number who are willing to label themselves “atheists” has, it’s reasonable to say, skyrocketed — from 1 million in 1990 to 3.6 million today. That’s still less than two percent of the population, so let’s not get carried away. But it’s double the number of Episcopalians! (I was raised as an Episcopalian. Always been a shameless front-runner.)

Here’s how Jon Meacham sums it up in Newsweek:

There it was, an old term with new urgency: post-Christian. This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

I’ve said it before, but it’s time for us atheists to diversify our portfolio, as far as popular culture is concerned — skepticism and mocking of creationists are all well and good, but we need to put forward a positive agenda for living our lives without the comforting untruths handed down by religion. I’m doing my part by joining the Epicurus fan page on Facebook.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Religion
  • teece

    I’m with you in spirit.

    But — I work in a public position (in an elementary school). I worry that being open about my atheism could indirectly get me fired. We may be moving to a post-Christian America, but I’m still pretty hesitant about making it publicly and loudly known that I’m an atheist.

    This isn’t just the usual caution about the church-state separation that my job requires, either. Christians have no problem identifying themselves where I work. I don’t think that it as easy for atheists.

    And today, it’s essentially impossible to keep one’s private and public life separate on the internets, so I have to be rather less vociferous than I would like.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/mcnaughton-virtual-tour/ ollie

    I admit that being on the faculty of a university makes life easier; announcing that one is an atheist is usually greeted by a shrug and a “so what”.

    But yes, those who work in other professions and live in other areas (e. g., the Bible belt) are probably wise to be prudent.

    I got my Ph.D. at the University of Texas. Most of the faculty that I ran into were non religious. But for a time I lived in the country (30 miles away) and the difference in culture was stark, to say the least.

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  • http://-- Greg

    I agree it’s a positive trend that can strongly benefit mankind… dare I say even crucial to our survival as a species? I bet this shift in mindset was greatly helped by the internet.

    Being a non-believer and looking at existence in a scientific way is more important today than ever before. It’s important we are comfortable and strong in our understanding but not arrogant. It’s true that changing the way things are in the world involves changing ourselves… not in “the secret” sort of way…oh no- I’m not going in that road – :D – but I do recognize that we can occasionally start chain reactions.

    It’s important to not be shy about being an atheist or non-believer. Does this arise because saying we are atheists implies that we are immoral? That we are less compassionate? Feynman answers this well. We see more of the bigger and deeper picture, which should, in effect, make us more moral and compassionate. I strongly believe that one’s scientific and philosophical assumptions plays an immense role in shaping who we are and how we shape what’s around us. I’ve noticed a huge change in myself by being vegetarian for a little over a month, perspectives have radically change for the better, I hope.

  • nobody

    > We’re a long way from the day when the US could reasonably be described as a non-religious nation

    And why is this an accomplishment exactly? Should I really care if the US or any other country to that extend, is religious or not? Come on we have bigger problems than that.

    Nevertheless I have to admit that the less of these religious braindead Creationists are out there the better. I can see no other reason for this.

    > people who think it’s perfectly okay to not believe in God, and be proud of it
    And I’m proud of being a fan of Man United, lets celebrate everybody :D Come on grow up…

  • Not Buying It

    I’m an atheist, but I certainly don’t want to be a part of any kind of movement. To suggest that there is an atheist movement is to say that atheism is, in fact, its own religion, with its own rules and dogma.

    Furthermore, when an atheist takes a cheap shot at Christianity, they’re ‘enlightened intellectualism’ has unfortunately devolved into bigotry. Too many atheists are merely the antithesis of fundamentalists, equally annoying but without the concentrated power base. Suggesting we band together lends credence to a future American Inquisition.

    To put it another way, when someone tells me I can be ‘saved’, I tell them ‘no thanks’ and they typically don’t push the issue (tolerance). Conversely, atheists, many of them younger, beat that dead horse until they feel satisfied that they’ve given their best shot in shaking that person’s belief structure (intolerance).

    There are better ways to make sure your influence is felt. Don’t like the makeup of a school board? Work to get on it. Don’t like the way a textbook reads? Lobby for a change. And, in the end, teach your children to never stop asking questions and allow them to make their own choices. They’ll be better for it.

  • Matt

    The real difference, it seems to me, is not between the religious and the non-religious, but between people who are satisfied entirely by hedonistic, small-fry pleasures and those who require a more “cosmic” kind of happiness.

    What the religious fundamentalists argue, wrongly, is that nonbelievers are all mere hedonists and epicurians. Indeed, there are more than a few hedonists in their own ranks.

    What science has provided for many of us is an alternative path to that cosmic happiness, toward the sense of deep satisfaction that comes from learning about and finding our place in the universe, and from the growing knowledge that we sentient creatures are extremely special and rare, being the only pieces of matter that have the ability to wonder.

    There would be much to gain from emphasizing the hedonism-cosmic happiness dichotomy over the religious-nonbelieving dichotomy. There’s a bridge between peoples that is just waiting to be used.

    As for the increasing number of “unaffiliated,” pah. I saw a poll recently that the unaffiliated are actually more likely to believe in superstition, pseudoscience, and hocus pocus than Christians are. If all you do is remove the structure of a formal religion, you just get chaos.

    The real goal should be to teach people to exercise doubt, skepticism, and critical thinking skills, and to be terrified of falling into the comforting grip of any all-encompassing ideology, be it fundamentalist Christianity, communism, or libertarian free-market fundamentalism.

    If I had the choice between eliminating all the world’s religions, or eliminating this human instinct toward the comfort of doubtless rigid orthodoxy, I’d eliminate the latter in a heart-beat. Sure, then you’d still have hundreds of millions of moderate Christians, Jews, Muslims, and so forth all over the world. But who cares?

  • Ryan

    I really have trouble understanding why some self described atheists are so comfortable with conflating their atheism with science/rational thought. Pontificating that there is no god takes an equally large leap of faith as pontificating that there is a god. And really, why is there the need to share one’s faith; whether that faith is in nothing or in something? From where I am sitting, hearing about somebody’s personal beliefs about existence is lame. Very few people actually enjoy being preached at no matter what the sermon is about.

  • http://quichemoraine.com Mike Haubrich, FCD

    Quite likely, Ryan, it’s because atheism is a rational conclusion for many of us. When we examine critically the claims of religion and find them wanting, we decrease our acceptance of an interventionist God. And with the teachings of religions that we either need to obey or commune with an interventionist god we find little purpose in adding religion to our lives if we don’t see any sort of sign of such an entity.

    I don’t see how it takes such a huge leap of faith to believe that there is no God when that fact is consistent with the evidence. Faith is to believe despite contrary evidence, you know.

  • nobody

    > Faith is to believe despite contrary evidence
    No my friend, that’s stupidity or at best “blindness”.

    The thing is that there is no evidence for or against the existence of God and I really doubt if science will provide it in either direction. We are able to calculate some weird quantity like g-2 to 10 digits of accuracy, so what? Does it mean that there is a God? Does it mean there is NO God? My guess is neither of the two.

  • tacitus

    Not Buying It:. Too many atheists are merely the antithesis of fundamentalists, equally annoying but without the concentrated power base. Suggesting we band together lends credence to a future American Inquisition.

    Let’s not exaggerate here. It is not and will not be anything like it was during the Communist takeover in Eastern Europe when religious people were attacked or persecuted for their beliefs. There are already many countries in Europe that point the way to the future of America as a less religious nation, like the U.K. for instance (where I come from) where non-believers now make up around half the population.

    Even with such a large number of non-believers, the amount of militancy is vanishingly small — basically the same people who hit the headlines over here in the US, give or take a few. The rest either just ignore the religious community, or treat them with indifference, tolerance and ambivalence.

    I think the big difference with the US is a political one. The American political scene has a much larger and stronger conservative vein running through it, and the confluence of right wing politics and fundamentalism that resulted in the rise to power of the Religious Right has cast the conflict between belief and non-belief in a much starker light. More atheists are militant because they have more to be militant about — creationism, ID, stem-cell research, abstinence-only sex education, and so on. None of these things is a major issue in the UK — even the abortion debate is drive more by arguments when the fetus considered to be viable as opposed to religious arguments of personhood.

    If, as I hope, the demographic changes result in a weakening of the political sway of the Religious Right then, as in other countries, there will be less for atheists to be militant about. But we’re still a long way from that happening, given that I fully expect at least one more round of right-wing Christian fundamentalist candidates to run strong for the Republican nomination (Palin and/or Jindal).

  • P

    That is one of the lamest videos I have ever seen, at least in the context of this post. I do however agree that friends and “self-sufficiency” are the main ingredients of happiness. I am sure most religions do make the point about friends and “self-sufficiency”. And they package it much better too.

    As for reflection, the third ingredient mentioned in the video, I am not too sure it always leads to happiness. In fact reflection, if done properly, is probably a major source of unhappiness unless you count rationalization as reflection, in which case most religions do a brilliant job at it.

    So, with this lame video I do not see any reason for people to abandon one lame set of beliefs and adopt another set of lame beliefs.

  • P

    Not buying It: “Conversely, atheists, many of them younger, beat that dead horse until they feel satisfied that they’ve given their best shot in shaking that person’s belief structure (intolerance).” I think you are quite right and I myself have been guilty of the charge several times. But to be fair, the stakes involved for a religious person in converting a non-believer is much too less than the other way round. When When the stakes were higher a few centuries ago, a lot more than “beating a dead horse” was done.

  • ian

    There’s not a problem with religion or religious ideas in the world, there’s a problem with shitheads. It’s only continually ameliorated through hard work and reason. Things have gotten a bit better in some of the world.

    Dawkins helps teach us that even without religion, people are still assholes. Imagine if he were alive in the Spanish inquisition?

  • Alex R

    I suspect that the increase in self-identified atheists — and in the numbers of non-religious generally, have less to do with the likes of Richard Dawkins than with the likes of James Dobson, Albert Mohler, and Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope Benedict), who have had considerable success in tying the brand name of “Christianity” with a combination of religious fundamentalism and political conservatism — which came to the point where the professed, practicing Catholic Democratic nominee for the President of the United States, John Kerry, was denied communion (or threatened with such) by bishops in his own church because he did not take the “correct” conservative political positions.

    As the conservative ideology supported by the religious right shows more and more signs of collapse, many of those who in previous times would have identified themselves as religious or Christian may be more and more unwilling to tie themselves in this way to those who claim the only *true* Christians are those who think, vote, and act as the most conservative Republicans do.

  • ree ree

    Religion will never go away. You cannot prove that there is no God. Also, religion will at least be used as an answer to the question “What happens after I die?” Some people may be perturbed at the idea that after death there is nothing, pure nothingness for all eternity because our sensing, thinking, self-aware bodies are dead. They can’t (nor want to) imagine such a fate, so they believe in an afterlife, leading to a religion. So the correct position for non-believers is that of agnosticism, not atheism, for we simply do not know. Neither do we know what lies “beyond” death, so at least that will make some people want to believe in religion.

  • Kevin

    There is as much evidence for the existence of God as there is for the existence of unicorns. It is just as “irrational” not to believe in unicorns as it is not to believe in God. (Replace “unicorns” with whatever object of fantasy you wish until the point is made.) It’s more correct to say “there might as well not be a God” than “there is no God” from the empirical view of things, but the two are functionally identical, given the current extent of our knowledge of the universe. There’s a difference between believing in “no God” and not believing in God; the latter merely recognizes the unfulfilled burden of proof on the part of those asserting God, whereas the former is an assertion in itself.

    As far as atheism putting forward a positive agenda: it’s not atheism’s place to do that. Atheists are not one unified group; people have different reasons for not believing in God, and all that unites them is their minority status. There are many atheists who have similar reasons for not believing (rational and empirical concerns), which can be summed up under the philosophy of freethought. That subset of atheists _should_ put forward this view as an alternative to religious ones, because it is an actual philosophy and therefore has the ability to compete in that field.

  • anonyme

    Personal question to Sean, because I am insatiably curious… Why aren’t you a Bright?

    http://www.the-brights.net/

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    anonyme — I suppose I am a Bright, by the stated definition (naturalistic worldview, etc.). But I’m not sure what the benefit of joining groups like this might be, and I’m very sure that attaching the label “Brights” to people with naturalistic worldviews was one of the worst PR moves of all time.

  • ree ree

    I will say it again: you cannot prove God does not exist. Nor can you prove that unicorns do not exist. Perhaps they exist on some unseen planet. Or perhaps they exist on a planet in a universe which is part of the landscape predicted by string theory.

    Later,

    ree ree

  • ree ree

    Sean,

    What do you think will “happen” to “you” “after” death?

  • tacitus

    Religion will never go away. You cannot prove that there is no God. Also, religion will at least be used as an answer to the question “What happens after I die?” Some people may be perturbed at the idea that after death there is nothing, pure nothingness for all eternity because our sensing, thinking, self-aware bodies are dead. They can’t (nor want to) imagine such a fate, so they believe in an afterlife, leading to a religion.

    I tend to agree — there aren’t all that many people who don’t hope for some form of continued existence after death, even if they don’t think it’s very likely. Even if organized Christianity is reduced to a small rump of the population, it won’t be replaced by rational non-belief. There will likely be a hodge-podge of spiritual beliefs — a mix of New Age, pagan, Christian, and Eastern religions — and even those who don’t spend much time thinking about stuff like this will probably prefer to believe in some vaguely deistic supernatural as opposed to the stark prospect of annihilation upon death.

    However, this type of irrational belief is far preferable to the type of Christianity that is powerful enough to dominates the political landscape and enact laws and policy based on their irrational beliefs. Ans so I’m not really expecting religion to go away, just the power of the Religious Right to mess up everyone else’s lives.

    So the correct position for non-believers is that of agnosticism, not atheism, for we simply do not know. Neither do we know what lies “beyond” death, so at least that will make some people want to believe in religion.

    Atheists, or at least atheists who spend more than a few moments thinking about this, will agree that “we simply do not know”. Richard Dawkins himself has said this on more than one occasion. The difference between atheists and agnostics is that while agnostics will usually hedge and stop at “we just don’t know” or “the jury’s still out”, atheists will argue that since there is no scientific evidence pointing to the existence of the supernatural, it’s highly unlikely (but not impossible) that it does exist.

    So atheism is a perfectly ration position to take — you just have to use a definition that hasn’t been concocted by the religious right.

  • tacitus

    (Ugh! Sorry about the formatting — the second block and the last block are my comments)

  • tacitus


    anonyme — I suppose I am a Bright, by the stated definition (naturalistic worldview, etc.). But I’m not sure what the benefit of joining groups like this might be, and I’m very sure that attaching the label “Brights” to people with naturalistic worldviews was one of the worst PR moves of all time.

    Yup — I hated the term the first time I heard it being used. In my mind, there is nothing wrong with “atheist”, but if you think that may be too much to swallow for your audience, then “non-believer” will probably be a little more palatable for them. (I suspect because they will think they still have a chance at converting you). “Rationalist” and “secularist” are a couple of others, but sound a too clumsy to me and you would probably still have to explain your non-belief anyway.

  • Kevin

    Brights are just what Dawkins calls freethinkers. I prefer the latter term, personally.

    ree ree: Say it all you want; it has no relevance to the lack of belief of myself or any other rational, freethinking atheist. You seem to have either missed or chosen to ignore my explanation of the difference between “not believing in God” and “believing in no God.”

    Are you trying to say that those calling themselves atheists should also call themselves aunicornists, and so forth? That may be true, but it’s just not very important; being an atheist is a notable distinction from most of society, while being an aunicornist isn’t. Furthermore, I would think that we could sum up all such lacks of belief (they are infinite, since people can continuously invent objects of fantasy) under a term like “afantasist.” Of course, doing so puts us right back at the better-known synonym of this idea, “freethinker.” That’s my second point from the previous post: atheism is _not_ a philosophy in and of itself, just a distinction from those whose philosophies involve a certain conspicuous element (God).

  • blueshifter

    Ree Ree! Guess what, unicorns DO exist on a planet which is part of the landscape predicted by string theory! Here’s the proof:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQJD1ura7G4

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    Pontificating that there is no god takes an equally large leap of faith as pontificating that there is a god.

    Pontificating that there is no Santa Claus takes an equally large leap of faith as pontificating that there is a Santa Claus.

    Furthermore, when an atheist takes a cheap shot at Christianity, they’re ‘enlightened intellectualism’ has unfortunately devolved into bigotry.

    Rubbish. Cults deserve all the criticism they recieve and then some.
    Lies are not worthy of respect.
    Priests, witchdoctors, shamans and fortune tellers should go out and get a real job.
    Showing an undeserving respect to charlatans only perpetuates the cancer.

  • john doe

    Dear Sean,

    I understand that you want this blog to be about religion, politics, etc. in addition to physics, but
    to be honest I for one ,and I would guess many others, come here to read about physics and not
    these other topics. You and the other authors of this blog are trained professionals primarily in physics. You are, in my opinion, not qualified to write about these topics with the same authority that you can physics. Consider how odd and inappropriate it would seem to have a political scientist’s blog presenting their opinions about a particular inflationary model as serious analysis when they had no professional expertise in physics. You’re opinions about these other topics are not presented in a balanced way or clearly distinguished from physics discussion. You present genuine analysis of physics topics along side your individual feelings about complex controversial topics in which you have no substantial expertise. So although it is your blog and you can write about whatever you like I am pleading with you to stick to physics and leave the other stuff to the professionals, or at least separate the two. Perhaps consider starting a non-physics blog for those that have an interest in your personal views on other topics.

    Sincerely,
    John Doe

  • King Cynic

    Physics justifies atheism. Hence this topic is perfectly appropriate for this blog.

  • uncle sam

    The big story about religion in America is not quarrels over evolution and even mores per se. It is the attachment of fundamental Christianity to the political right. But it never made sense to yolk any genuine spirituality, non-selfish ethical views and suspicion of materialism to the creepy, Randian self-interested megacapitalism of the Republican party. The religious rank and file are finally getting that, I don’t know why it took them so long. (I say the R&F since of course manipulative, cynical hacks like Jerry Falwell never gave a crap about verity or compatibility anyway. I saw just how literally evil he almost certainly was in a documentary about the Bakkers.)

    But Christians etc. are not always tools of the manipulative type of conservatives. There is The Network of Spiritual Progressives, Swords into Plowshares etc. and don’t forget the way MLK expressed religious sentiments and movements. Andrew Sullivan did well to suggest use of a special subterm, “Christianism”, for the former sort and not the latter. BTW I don’t really appreciate someone saying that mocking anyone, is “all well and good.” And why not Stoicism instead of Epicurianism?

    Steve Benen has a very good discussion of all this in the following post, with many astute and acerbic comments: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_04/017609.php.

    Quick take: religious folks (even the more conservative in religious terms) are loosing “faith” in the Right. Good!

    Word up, Ryan! Also, John Doe has a point yet I do appreciate some eclectism in the blogosphere (IMHO Bee at Backreaction does it better.) Yet I do find the subject interesting … Comparing the question of “God” to that of e.g. Santa Claus as some do is silly. In philosophical practice, “God” means the necessary being that is responsible for the universe’s existence (if it needs such justification), so it is abstractly defined as a category fulfilling a certain logical role (exist or not, the logical principle is the same.) I don’t know why people think that clumsy conflation of all hypotheticals is an intelligent response. It is no more sensible than conflation of all entities we do know of. IOW, it’s a fallacy to imply that statements about the credibility of any give hypothetical X are inherently no better or worse than those about any other entity Y or Z. Well no, it all goes back to the pro and con arguments about X v. Y v. Z etc.

    Kin Cynic, WTF?

    As for this universe and WITSION, one important point: it is logically preposterous for any particular set of laws to be uniquely graced with a special status, “existence” (that cannot even be logically defined.) So either the brute fact of this world is an awkward logical loose end, or we have the mathematical universe hypothesis, AKA Ultimate Ensemble. That’s a mess though, as Davies explains in Cosmic Jackpot.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/mcnaughton-virtual-tour/ ollie

    Saying “X exists” is not symmetrical with saying “I don’t believe that X exists”.

    I am an atheist because I see no evidence for a deity. That doesn’t mean that I am 100 percent sure that no deity exists, though I am reasonably sure that the deity of the Bible doesn’t exist (just as I am sure that Zeus, Wotan, Thor, etc. don’t exist).

    That is why the “unicorn” analogy is proper: if one claims that a unicorn exists, one should provide evidence for it.

    Now if someone uses a deity as some sort of “metaphor for life” and uses their “relationship” to that deity to live a better life, ok. The problems arise when people think that some deity is going to perform some sort of magic trick (e. g., save the world from the consequences of its actions as Rep. Shimkus believes) and bases their world view and decisions on these anticipated actions.

  • Grant H

    “Ryan Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 2:22 pm
    I really have trouble understanding why some self described atheists are so comfortable with conflating their atheism with science/rational thought. Pontificating that there is no god takes an equally large leap of faith as pontificating that there is a god. And really, why is there the need to share one’s faith; whether that faith is in nothing or in something? From where I am sitting, hearing about somebody’s personal beliefs about existence is lame. Very few people actually enjoy being preached at no matter what the sermon is about”

    You’re missing the point. Religion is dangerous, damaging and is currently causing untold suffering. It is the enabler, the lame excuse to restrict education, limit human inquisitiveness and blow people up. It’s becoming increasingly clear that to remove religion from all state consideration and all schooling would be to bring about new growth in human understanding and compassion for the world and each other.

    I was told about fstdt.net by a colleague and spent a little time reading through what religious people have to say. The site is supposed to be funny, but I find it really frightening. I never really understood war, terrorism, suicide bombers, etc. but after the hate I saw there, I know a little bit about what drives those things.

  • Kevin

    The argument of “God as the first cause” is not really a valid one.

    First, the idea that the universe needs a cause stems from the idea that everything in the universe has a cause (which is a principle of what we think of as logic), but the pitfall is that it’s hard to tell if we can extend logical principles derived within the universe to the universe itself (and outside of it, if such a concept is meaningful). Causality is a logical principle because of time, and the jury’s still out on time (which has been the topic of more than one post in this blog, in fact).

    Second, postulating God to fill this hypothetical need for a cause for the universe only pushes the problem back one step: what, then, is the cause of God? If you say that God needs no cause, or is its own cause, you might as well ascribe that same property to the universe and avoid the whole thing.

    Third, the idea of God as a “being” is absurdly anthropomorphic. Beings, as far as we know, exist on this planet and nowhere else, and our entire effect on the rest of the universe consists of some satellites, rovers, and footprints. Beings comparable to ourselves certainly may exist elsewhere in the universe, but their effect would then be comparable to ours as well, even if possibly more widespread.

    Fourth, there’s absolutely no logical step you can take from the argument of God as the first cause that gets you anywhere but deism. As deism itself is functionally identical to atheism, since we currently see no evidence of the influence of any God, it’s a moot point as well as a flawed one.

    Empirically, God is a concept for which no evidence exists, just like any other object of fantasy, so the comparison to unicorns, Santa Claus, etc. is apt from the empirical perspective.

  • http://webpages.charter.net Thomas Lee Elifritz

    Religion will never go away. You cannot prove that there is no God.

    you cannot prove God does not exist.

    And since you decline to even define God in any preexisting mathematical or physical language the entire exercise would be one of a fool. Even your statement itself is foolish.

  • http://quichemoraine.com Mike Haubrich, FCD

    So although it is your blog and you can write about whatever you like I am pleading with you to stick to physics and leave the other stuff to the professionals, or at least separate the two.

    In some circles, this is called “topping from the bottom.” In other circles this is called “Concern trolling.” In still other circles, these sorts of pleas are best responded to with “Skip the posts you don’t like.”

  • tacitus

    Third, the idea of God as a “being” is absurdly anthropomorphic.

    Oh, I don’t know. The thought that we might all be the result of a young hyperdimensional being’s eighth-grade hyperdimensional physics experiment is rather compelling to me :-)

    Nicely succinct post, BTW.

    If Christians are wrong, and God does not exist, how is the God they worship any different from any child’s imaginary friend that was created to bring comfort and companionship in times of loneliness or difficulty?

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    Religion will never go away. You cannot prove that there is no God.
    you cannot prove God does not exist.

    Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor — but they have few followers now. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

  • Good Luck

    The really bad news is that human brains are wired for religion. The other really bad news is that if Christians understood science as a disipline they would be against it.

    If you are hoping for a new golden age, I regret to be the one to point this out to you all. But you are living in it. Now don’t tell anyone.

    They would rather not know anyway, and if you persist they will only create their own brand of “science” to confuse the unwary. Eventually they will muster the support to get you fired, (or burned at the stake.)

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    An interesting point:

    “Let’s be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated. Being less Christian does not necessarily mean that America is post-Christian. A third of Americans say they are born again; this figure, along with the decline of politically moderate-to liberal mainline Protestants, led the ARIS authors to note that ‘these trends … suggest a movement towards more conservative beliefs and particularly to a more ‘evangelical’ outlook among Christians.'”

    I.e., American Christianity is diminishing proportionally, but it’s also radicalizing. I’m not sure if a shrinking overall percentage that amounts to losing the moderates, while the conservatives get even more immoderate, is clearly a good thing. The U.S.A. has always been very different from Europe, so I think we have to be guarded in our optimism about the advent of a post-religious America. Europe’s Christians are being replaced by Muslims as the only deeply religious sect, and we hear about those cultural tensions ever more frequently. In fact, it has much to do with the reluctance of many in the EU to accept Turkey into the club. I rather think a much harder-line evangelical Christian base could become a very nasty problem if they’re what’s left of our spiritual class. We must be careful.

  • ree ree

    ollie said: “Now if someone uses a deity as some sort of “metaphor for life” and uses their “relationship” to that deity to live a better life, ok. The problems arise when people think that some deity is going to perform some sort of magic trick”

    Ah, but there have been MANY magic tricks, even ones performed in the past 50 years. They’re called miracles. Miracles have been reported by believers and non-believers alike, you know. Check it out yo. There are many which have, to this day, not been able to be accounted for in terms of mechanistic processes. There you go, Dude. When you verify this, I expect you to apologize and become a believer in God.

    Thomas said: “And since you decline to even define God in any preexisting mathematical or physical language the entire exercise would be one of a fool. Even your statement itself is foolish.”

    God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, immaterial being who created the universe 13.7 billion years ago. According to Christianity, God became incarnate in the person of Jesus, in order to redeem mankind. Booyaa!

    Later, and take care everybody.

  • ree ree

    (By the way, there’s no evidence that the universe was produced by a natural, mechanistic, or quantum gravitational process. We haven’t observed such pieces of evidence, just like how we haven’t observed evidence supporting the belief that God created the universe. So if string theorists say the universe was born because two branes collided, etc., then believers in God can say that God did it. Cheers yo.)

  • tacitus

    Miracles have been reported by believers and non-believers alike, you know. Check it out yo. There are many which have, to this day, not been able to be accounted for in terms of mechanistic processes.

    And yet not one of them has happened under scientifically controlled and observed circumstances. However the number of supposed miracles that have turned out to be frauds, hallucinations, or cases of misinterpreting naturally occurring events are legion.

    That should tell you everything you need to know about miracles.

    then believers in God can say that God did it

    To paraphrase a certain president — yes, they can. But that doesn’t give them the right to teach my child that the Universe is only 6,000 years old, or to tell people that they cannot have sex with someone of the same gender.

    If the only issue was how it all began, there would be little for anyone to argue over, since nobody would be trying to run the lives of others according to some neolithic hand-me-down religious texts.

  • Ryan

    “Grant H Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    You’re missing the point. Religion is dangerous, damaging and is currently causing untold suffering. It is the enabler, the lame excuse to restrict education, limit human inquisitiveness and blow people up. It’s becoming increasingly clear that to remove religion from all state consideration and all schooling would be to bring about new growth in human understanding and compassion for the world and each other.”

    That is great if it is becoming increasingly clear (read: Newsweek survey). I came to the same conclusions quite a while ago. What do you propose to do about it? Talk about your atheism until all the Christians are super mad and everybody else who stopped listening a while ago continues to not care? In the US the conflict between the secular and religious is largely a cultural one, where evidence has very little effect.

    “ollie Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I am an atheist because I see no evidence for a deity. That doesn’t mean that I am 100 percent sure that no deity exists, though I am reasonably sure that the deity of the Bible doesn’t exist (just as I am sure that Zeus, Wotan, Thor, etc. don’t exist).”

    That is where I’m at, but I would not call myself an atheist. I see a very strong distinction between belief in no god, and not believing in a god. Actively denying the possibility of a god is just as silly as actively affirming the existence of a god. Even if there is no god, those people who feel compelled to argue that there is no god are just going to be bogged down in a pointless culture war, who cares if they are right?

  • ree ree

    “And yet not one of them has happened under scientifically controlled and observed circumstances. ” Hmmm…there have been a few reported cases of advanced forms of cancer disappearing overnight after prayer. Doctors looked at them, and they were perfectly fine. Does that count? The patient said a prayer to a holy Catholic dude who had just passed away. Look it up.

    Also look up the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Cool stuff yo.

    “To paraphrase a certain president — yes, they can. But that doesn’t give them the right to teach my child that the Universe is only 6,000 years old, or to tell people that they cannot have sex with someone of the same gender.”

    I’m not saying these people should teach that God created the universe 13.7 billion years ago, just that people can privately believe in that if they want to because there’s no evidence as to the natural cause of the birth of the universe. Sure, we have the big bang model, but what started the big bang? Lots of theories out there about other universes, and branes colliding, all of which we cannot observe. All we can observe so far, is a bunch of photons at 2 Kelvin. Good luck.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    “That is where I’m at, but I would not call myself an atheist.”

    Then perhaps you need to check again what an atheist is.
    I don’t mean to be sarcastic so please don’t take offence.

    I honestly think you should check out what atheism is.
    Ollie’s description was right on the money.
    If that’s where you are then…don’t be spooked by the word “atheist”.
    http://www.atheist-experience.com/

    Actively denying the possibility of a god is just as silly as actively affirming the existence of a god.

    Actively denying the possibility of Bigfoot/Santa Clause/Zeus/ is just as silly as actively affirming the existence of a Bigfoot/Santa Claus/Zeus.
    Maybe there is a Bigfoot. Maybe. Yet there’s no reason to believe in one based on the evidence so far.
    If, at some time in the future, evidence actually comes in then I will be happy to change my mind.
    In the meantime, I’m not going to donate 10% of my taxes to the Bigfoot Protection Society,

  • Antti Rasinen

    I totally agree with you about the need for a more positive agenda. This is why I rarely describe myself as an atheist — it doesn’t really say anything about what I _am_.

    As a sidenote, I don’t have a driver’s licence or a car either. This affects my everyday life more than any belief in the supernatural. Yet I don’t call myself carless or licenceless. No one in the society really cares about my acarism. If I need to talk about my daily commute, I’ll use the positive terms like “I’ll walk” or “I’ll go by bike”.

    The concept of religion and its relation to human life is far too complex to be summed by one categorical term: “christian”, “muslim”, “hindu”, “None of the above”.

    I feel that the proper form for answering questions about your religiosity is at least a triple. Firstly, what is your preferred cultural environment? I’ve been born and raised in a Finnish (Lutheran) community. I hold many of those values. I enjoy the same holidays and festivities.

    Secondly, what is your ‘lifestance’? I am a humanist with a whiff of stoicism. Some people might have a more spiritual lifestance, based on surrendering to a deity and some might have a very materialistic one. Your relations to other people and to the world are only weakly correlated( with your cultural background or theism or non-theism.

    Thirdly — and this is what some people seem to really care about — what do you feel about the supernatural. The last bit is really inconsequential when compared to the other two. Yet it seems to cause the biggest noise.

    So the next time you speak with someone about your religion, consider the previous three dimensions of the word. It might be that you share two out of three and only differ in the last. In my view that makes you more similar than different.

    Hopefully with this approach it is possible to take some bite out of the us/them division. Politics + us/them = good for us + bad for them

  • snafu

    “which came to the point where the professed, practicing Catholic Democratic nominee for the President of the United States, John Kerry, was denied communion (or threatened with such) by bishops in his own church because he did not take the “correct” conservative political positions.”

    And this atheist thinks the church is consistent in doing so. Remember, the RCC claims an authoritative interpretation of Natural Law. The clear teaching of the church is infallible (as well as the more well-known case of the Pope speaking ex-cathedra). In their club, they’re entitled to insist that you play by their rules.

    This is all part of the point sometimes made that religion practised in a way that has no impact on everyday life is exceedingly rare (and pointless).

    Personally, I’d prefer to see more liberal Catholics realise that their beliefs really are incompatible with their Church’s and simply quit going. I know mine are.

  • Neal J. King

    I think the issue of supernaturalism hangs especially on one point: The question, “What will happen, and what will I experience, when I die?”

    I think it’s safe to say that none of us have any direct evidence on that question.

    Those of us who believe that science provides a complete description of all experience will believe that there will be some kind of fade-out.

    Those of us who are not so sure that what has been accomplished over the last 300 years is close enough to being complete can believe in some kind of post-death experience: hence, a form of supernaturalism.

    I don’t see much angle in someone from one side trying to convince someone else from the other side. And why bother? A proselytizer for atheism is no less annoying than a proselytizer for a religious sect.

  • Haqiqa

    Couple of Items:

    1) This very blog is discussing God. Atheism and all other sibling philosophies cannot cease mentioning God. Ergo, God exists!

    2) Non-belief, at its core, is sheer “ungratefulness”. So let’s all be thankful for the beauty within and the wonders without!

    Salam, Shalom, Peace!

  • http://tsm2.blogspot.com wolfgang

    >> Non-belief, at its core, is sheer “ungratefulness”.

    Then I take it that you believe in the invisible pink unicorn ?

  • Neal J. King

    Haquiq,

    1) The fact that this blog discusses atheism no more proves the existence of God than the fact that this blog is now discussing a-unicornism (as in, “I am convinced that unicorns do not exist.”) proves the existence of unicorns.

    2) If God does not exist, there is no one to be ungrateful to. Of course, if God does exist, then this would be ungrateful; however, to postulate this is to beg the question.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    So if Christianity disappears, what else will psychotic nutcases use to justify their horrible actions?
    Nationalism?
    Maoism?
    Racial purity?
    Liberation of the Symbionese?
    Animal rights?

    I see no evidence that the horrible things done ‘in the name of’ organized religion are in fact caused by religious affiliation. Nor do I think that the people who commit such actions would be better behaved under some other belief system.

  • RD

    Sean, no matter how much you aspire to achieve Dawkins’ recognition I doubt you will make it. Snide commentary is no substitute for scholarship.

  • Aleksandar Mikovic

    People on this blog have said the following:
    – Atheism is a perfectly rational position to take.
    – Physics justifies atheism.
    However, one can give a very strong argument that atheism is a highly irrational position and that physics does not justify atheism. The argument is the following:
    According to the atheist worldview, everything that exists is space, time, elementary constituents of matter and forces among them, and all the phenomena we see can be explained by these elementary constituents and their motions. One also needs fundamental laws of motion, and here one has to decide whether the natural laws are separate entities from the spacetime and elementary constituents/forces or they are not.
    If one opts for a position that natural laws are not separate entities, one arrives to the notion that natural laws are simply random periodical patterns in the motion of matter, which means that everything we know can desapear tomorrow. Another
    consequence is that the fundamental explanation for any phenomenon is that it is a random ocurrence. Although a logically consistent position, this is an extremelly singular phylosophycal view, like solipsism, and not to say that it is completely opposite to the attitude taken by scientist (i.e. that the world can be comprehended).
    The second option is to assume that the natural laws are separate entities from the basic set of spacetime and matter, and this leads directly to platonism, i.e. the view that abstract ideas have an independent existence outside spacetime. Then the ideas of God, unicorns, etc …, exist
    and the question is what is their relation to our world.

    An atheist
    could still try to deny the existence of the idea of God on the grounds that there
    are only finitely many natural laws, i.e. ideas, in the platonic world, but
    this can be refuted by using the Goedel theorem: A theory of everything should explain mathematics, and by Goedel´s theorem
    there is no closed mathematical system which contains the arithmetics. Hence one must have a platonic world with an infinite number of ideas.

  • Matt S.

    Lab Lemming: “I see no evidence that the horrible things done ‘in the name of’ organized religion are in fact caused by religious affiliation. Nor do I think that the people who commit such actions would be better behaved under some other belief system.”

    Do you honestly think that there would be so many suicide bombers if they didn’t believe in an afterlife? It takes a belief of that (or a similar) kind to overcome our survival instincts.

  • RD

    Matt you say “Do you honestly think that there would be so many suicide bombers if they didn’t believe in an afterlife? It takes a belief of that (or a similar) kind to overcome our survival instincts.”
    Wrong, it takes extreme despair to overcome our survival instincts. And this despair is characteristic of suicide everywhere.

  • Matt S.

    Aleksandar, you refer to the “atheist worldview” whereas such a thing doesn’t exist. The atheist position is simply one of unbelieve in a deity and does not necessarily extent to other philisophical areas. What you’re refering to here is a brand of naturalism, but there are different forms of naturalism and not every atheist accepts the ontological brand of naturalism. Methodological naturalism, for example, does not presuppose any limits on what exist. It is simply a requirement that we have to investigate nature as if it where all that there is, without commenting on whether anything else can exist.

    Aleksandar Mikovic: “If one opts for a position that natural laws are not separate entities, one arrives to the notion that natural laws are simply random periodical patterns in the motion of matter, which means that everything we know can desapear tomorrow.”

    The laws of physics have no existence in and of themselves, they’re merely a description of how nature behaves.

    I don’t see how you come to the conclusion that natural laws are random periodic patterns. This is a major premise of your argument, but you do not justify it at all.

  • ree ree

    Hey, so what’s the status yo? Did any of you look into the miracles I mentioned above as proof that the supernatural exists and can influence the world in which we live?

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    “miracles”? :) yeah right. In fact things like cancer sometimes do go away; it just happens very rarely.

    You might see the segment in the Richard Dawkins special “The Root of All Evil” where nonsense such as this is discussed.

    You might also take a good course in probability and statistics.

  • Michael

    I’m a rationalist non-believer, an atheist if you will. However, I spend no time trying to convince religious folks to give up their beliefs, as they don’t try to convert or ‘save’ me. What I do demand is that religious beliefs founded on faith don’t destroy or supress my fundamental human rights, or the rights of others. Sharia law, etc. represent abominations to anyone that supports freedom and human dignity. Believe what you will, but when your beliefs become oppressive actions you will hear from me.

  • ree ree

    ““miracles”? :) yeah right. In fact things like cancer sometimes do go away; it just happens very rarely.”

    Indeed, thinks like cancer do just go away. And when medicine cannot explain it, it’s because God did it. Booyaa! There you go, Ollie. Oh sure, our understanding of things like cancer and the human body is very limited, so perhaps such miraculous-looking healings can be explained biologically, but what about the Miracle of the Sun yo? At Fatima. And other such miracles. Now come on. Those miracles were done so that people will believe. Do YOU believe, Ollie? Don’t let the miracle go to waste, Dude.

  • Anon.

    I’m all for fighting the influence of fundamentalist idiots in domestic and foreign policy in the United States (and abroad, for that matter.) But if the general population perceives the main force against religious fundamentalism as a handful of atheists who hold themselves more highly than others because they’ve discovered some great truth about the universe, they won’t be too responsive. The truth is that religion, for better or worse, will almost definitely never be eliminated. It would be most effective to bolster the moderate elements of the politically active religious believers – the ones who advocate teaching actual science in public schools and work for diplomacy and peace over the raging war boner policies of the previous administration. They do in fact exist, and I’m sure they’ll have more of a voice in the current political climate.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    According to the atheist worldview…

    The wha…?
    (shrug)
    Doesn’t exist. Sorry.
    No manifesto. No manuscript. No blueprint for world domination. No mysterious set of clubhouse rules. No secret handshake.
    When you try and “read” into atheism something that isn’t there, you just end up sounding silly.

  • tacitus


    Wrong, it takes extreme despair to overcome our survival instincts. And this despair is characteristic of suicide everywhere.


    Not true. Suicide bombers are have to be coached intensely using extremist religious rhetoric before they agree to participate in such acts, and there are plenty of examples of suicide bombers who came from middle-class or wealthy families. Religious indoctrination is a vital part of the suicide bomber’s preparation.

    And also note that without that indoctrination, there are no suicide bombers.

  • tacitus

    ree ree: there is no point in playing your whack-a-mole with your so-called miracles. Even if we debunked your “sun miracle” (there is nothing there that an unusual atmospheric phenomenon, a lot of credulity, a desire to be special, and a dash of hysteria cannot explain) you would simply come back with a different so-called miracle (goodness knows the Catholic tradition is chock full of them). I read the Wikipedia entry for that event and had to laugh when I saw at the bottom that Pope Pius claims to have had his own Fatima experience decades later. I guess he didn’t want to feel left out.

    And now their trying to turn Pope John-Paul II into a saint because supposedly some guy with a brain tumor got better after fondling some rosary beads supposedly blessed by him. If that really happened, why aren’t those beads being used in every brain cancer ward in the country? Now, if all the cancer patients who touched those beads started were healed, there’s your irrefutable miracle. Yet, for some reason, no one is even willing to try.

  • http://www.whereisyvette.wordpress.com Yvette

    Just wondering- what would the definition of a post-Christian America be exactly anyway? Because I’m on a trip around the world right now and have yet to go anywhere that I would consider post-religion (well maybe New Zealand, but that was a previous trip).

    Before someone mentions Europe to me I ask this question because I’ve been in Europe the past month or so, working my way through Italy now, and while there are a lot of nonbelievers it doesn’t change the fact that the churches are the main tourist attraction and have priceless treasures in them. So there’s definitely still influence because of the sheer history and culture inspired by the church, even if people aren’t believers as such. Hopefully what I’m asking makes sense in that context.

  • ree ree

    “I read the Wikipedia entry for that event and had to laugh when I saw at the bottom that Pope Pius claims to have had his own Fatima experience decades later. I guess he didn’t want to feel left out.”

    Hmmm…maybe he DID have his own Fatima experience. You don’t know, so don’t talk.

    “And now their trying to turn Pope John-Paul II into a saint because supposedly some guy with a brain tumor got better after fondling some rosary beads supposedly blessed by him. If that really happened, why aren’t those beads being used in every brain cancer ward in the country? Now, if all the cancer patients who touched those beads started were healed, there’s your irrefutable miracle. Yet, for some reason, no one is even willing to try.”

    Well, I suppose if doctors diagnosed that patient as having a brain tumor, and then the brain tumor disappeared after he prayed the Rosary (not “fondled with the rosary”, but used it to PRAY the rosary), there you go. A recent example of a miracle.
    The beads didn’t do anything. Touching the beads doesn’t do anything. Rather, the prayers and faith of the patient involved. Also, the healing was probably meant to be a sign that, indeed, Pope John Paul II is in heaven so that it is OK to pray for his intercession. I can’t tell you why a healing like this doesn’t occur every time the rosary is prayed. Maybe this healing was only meant to be a sign that John Paul II is in heaven. Maybe God has a special plan for those people God heals. One cannot know.

    So you string theorists go on believing the standard model is in the theory, and that the universe resulted in two branes colliding (something for which there is no evidence for), and I will go on believing in miracles such as these (for which there is definitely MORE evidence in its favor).

    Good day.

  • Kevin

    ree ree, please watch this video concerning open-mindedness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

  • tacitus

    That’s a lot of “maybe”s, ree ree.

    Maybe the Face on Mars is really evidence for an extraterrestrial civilization, maybe NASA never went to the Moon, maybe Islam and not Christianity is the one true religion (you don’t know, you weren’t there), maybe the pagan gods and unicorns really do exists, maybe Santa Claus does deliver billions of Christmas presents in a blink of an eye, maybe you are a figment of my imagination and we’re all living in The Matrix… Maybe it’s all just a load of bunk…

  • John Phillips, FCD

    ree ree, yet when they actually researched the power of prayer with people who had undergone major heart surgery, those prayed for did statistically worse than those who weren’t prayed for. In fact, due to those results, which most xians are unaware of, when a religious troller now ends a post by saying that they will pray for me, I usually respond by asking them not to threaten me. All other research involving prayer, has had results, that at best (to those who consider it important anyway) been neutral, i.e. no effect.

    Another irony noted in Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. If you add up all the so called miracles at Lourdes, accepting for sake of argument that they are genuine religious miracles, fewer people have been cured visiting Lourdes than if they had simply stayed at home waiting on pure chance to cure them.

    So much for miracles.

  • mk

    @ree-ree…

    I fear the Epicurus videos would be a little too much for you. You might want to start with this one first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFO6ZhUW38w

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    ree ree: why don’t miracles get done by the truckload, out in the open so they aren’t the result of “random noise”?

    Dude, you should write a “poe” blog; you’d be good at it. ;)

  • Ryan

    Then perhaps you need to check again what an atheist is.
    I don’t mean to be sarcastic so please don’t take offence.

    I honestly think you should check out what atheism is.
    Ollie’s description was right on the money.
    “Cedric Katesby Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    If that’s where you are then…don’t be spooked by the word “atheist”.
    http://www.atheist-experience.com/

    Actively denying the possibility of a god is just as silly as actively affirming the existence of a god.

    Actively denying the possibility of Bigfoot/Santa Clause/Zeus/ is just as silly as actively affirming the existence of a Bigfoot/Santa Claus/Zeus.
    Maybe there is a Bigfoot. Maybe. Yet there’s no reason to believe in one based on the evidence so far.”

    Atheist is the definition I am going off of (compare to agnostic). It sounds to me like an atheist would have little uncertainty about his disbelief in god/s. Also, I’ve never liked bigfoot, unicorn, etc. analogies for a couple reasons. They always strike me as less of an argument and more a way of making fun of god by comparing god to a unicorn since they are usually more testable concepts. For example, my NW camping experience could be considered evidence against a bigfoot (sans bigfoot siting).

    I’m convinced that this terminology ends up being largely a function of culture. A few years back I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and evolution came up. He said he did not believe in it and I kind of probed, “which part?” He went on to explain that he subscribed to a sort of clockmaker, deist type god. He believed in and understood all the sorts of things people learn in a college biology 101 course yet he called himself a creationist. After hearing what he thought I would have never opted to use the term creationist to describe him.

  • ree ree

    Kevin,

    That was a great video. But I do have an explanation for the guy with the brain tumor going away after praying the rosary with a rosary blessed by John Paul II: the explanation is that God healed this man as a sign that John Paul II is in heaven. Boom.

    “Maybe the Face on Mars is really evidence for an extraterrestrial civilization, maybe NASA never went to the Moon, maybe Islam and not Christianity is the one true religion (you don’t know, you weren’t there), maybe the pagan gods and unicorns really do exists…”

    Maybe M-theory describes nature at its most fundamental level. But what is M-theory. Oooh…we don’t know.

    “ree ree, yet when they actually researched the power of prayer with people who had undergone major heart surgery, those prayed for did statistically worse than those who weren’t prayed for. All other research involving prayer, has had results, that at best (to those who consider it important anyway) been neutral, i.e. no effect.”

    But how many of those people prayed the rosary with a set of rosary beads which were blessed by Pope John Paul II? Virtually none, I’m willing to bet.

    Oh but you cannot just go through the motions, my dear friends, and expect God to submit himself to experimentation. You wouldn’t do evil things to your spouse in order to test if they really love you. Nor should you subject the power of God to statistical analysis and experiment. God will heal whom he chooses, when he chooses, according to his plan. My dear friends, we cannot know the mind of God, you know. (Notice how my responses are like those of string theorists? String theorists say things like this. “We do not know M-theory”…”we need new mathematics”…”But I believe M-theory is the correct description of quantum gravity.” “The multiverse must exist even though we don’t have any observation evidence in its favor.” I tell you, there’s more evidence that that guy who prayed the rosary was healed by God than there is that string theory is valid.)

    What’s a poe blog?

  • anonyme

    Sean: “…I’m very sure that attaching the label “Brights” to people with naturalistic worldviews was one of the worst PR moves of all time.”

    (lol) My thought as well. A lot of your peeps seem to hang there though…

  • mk

    OK… now I’m convinced. ree-ree is totally yanking our chain.

  • ree ree

    mk:

    I saw the video. Nice song. However, there IS empirical evidence supporting the existence of a higher power: the universe and the fact that it has a beginning in time. We know it has a beginning through cosmological observations. Thus, the universe was created by a higher power, or was generated from another universe. Since there is no evidence for a multiverse, or for two branes colliding, or for string theory itself, the idea that the universe was created by a higher power is at least as believable as string theory’s explanation.

    Also, that guy who prayed the rosary using beads which were blessed by John Paul II was instantly cured! In that case, the Catholic Church has taught that a case for sainthood must demonstrate that a miracle occur after praying for the subject’s intercession. In this case, the subject was John Paul II. Guy prayed…guy got cured. There you go. People always knew John Paul II was a saint, and they now have their proof.

    What more do you want yo?

    Peace.

  • ree ree

    I’m not yanking your chain. I do believe in God and in miracles, you know. Just like how many string theorists believe the theory HAS to be true. Yet atheists don’t chastise string theorists, so why should they chastise religious people?

  • Kevin

    ree ree: Yes, you have an explanation, but you can’t prove it. As far as string theory goes, to quote one of my professors, “it’s not even wrong.” There are so many possible solutions to the equations that it could mean anything, and there’s virtually no evidence to support any version of it. I’m as skeptical of strings as I am of God, but there’s a major difference between them: the concept of God has a lot more influence over society, culture, and policy than the concept of strings.

    Ryan: for me, being an atheist does mean that I don’t believe in God. If empirical evidence was found demonstrating God’s existence, I would accept that proof. However, I still would not “believe” in God as religious people do, i.e. having faith despite a lack of or contradictory evidence. I understand that there exists the possibility of God’s existence, but I don’t actively believe it to be true, and this is the same for unicorns, etc.

  • Rules For

    ree ree’s reasonable statement:
    “…we cannot know the mind of God…”

    ree ree:
    “And when medicine cannot explain it, it’s because God did it. ”
    “…miracles were done so that people will believe.”
    “…you cannot just go through the motions, my dear friends, and expect God to submit himself to experimentation.”
    “God will heal whom he chooses, when he chooses, according to his plan.”

  • mk

    @ree-ree…

    Totally good stuff man! You had most of us going for bit there. You’re like Stephen Colbert of the science/atheist blogs! I bow to your cleverness. Kudos!

  • anonymousone

    Hello, before offering an opinion may I ask if there’s been something wrong with posting here (on this thread at least) for the last several hours? Right now, in a library, and would be a shame if patrons couldn’t put up their opinions. Briefly though, forget the stale arguments and read Paul Davies and the like – or better yet, try “going inside.” Neither conventional religion or atheism is satisfactory IMHO.

  • anonymousone

    Well, apparently not. Let my try to enlarge a bit. Yes, one should try to make a case for X if one believes that X exists (not that “exists” is a clear concept, see what modal realists have said.) But thinking it’s all about “evidence” is a radical empiricist posture. There is also “argument” and interpretation from what we already know, if we can’t get “evidence.” An example would be saying (and ironically, including atheists like Victor Stenger, Max Tegmark) that all possible worlds should exist (for same argument I use below re numbers.) Multi-worlds in QM is a similar, less radical ides. Or maybe that time travel should be impossible because it would cause troubles, or those who say “time doesn’t really exist” because flowing time is weird or whatever. Then there’s claims like, if space had D large dimensions instead of three, things would be such and such a way, and so on.

    The case for a first cause/supreme being is based on argument from what we already know, as you would be taught in any good philosophy class. Second, the case does not depend on any silly oversight like thinking “everything needs a cause” which leads to a regress – yes, they knew that in the Middle Ages. “If you say that God needs no cause, or is its own cause, you might as well ascribe that same property to the universe and avoid the whole thing.” – Kevin. Well, saying “you might as well” doesn’t make it equally viable. That’s what the whole argument turns around: Whether this universe is the right logical sort of thing to be self-sufficient. As I have said here and there, it is too “particular” of a set of affairs to make sense as fundamental, as opposed to some ground of being like a Platonic mind having “all” within it etc. This universe being “it” is like 42 being the “it” number that needs no explanation of why it can be made a real thing and not just an abstraction.

  • anonymous one

    But in any case, I hope everyone here believes in freedom of belief and especially freedom of expresion. What we do is more important than these abstractions. I once had a sort of “message” from God, but you don’t have to believe that “God exists” to appreciate it in practice. The message was:

    I am your eyes and ears,
    you are my hands and feet.

    I was amazed to find that some great mystics like Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross had “heard” similar messages. So IMHO, our insight comes “of God” or is Godly (the best there is, whether “a being” is there to embody it.) But God cannot do things, we must be the doers of God’s will. And God’s will is the Good, the best we can do. You don’t have to worry about whether God exists or not to be Godly. The World certainly needs plenty of helping hands and feet, more than debaters now!

  • ree ree

    “Totally good stuff man! You had most of us going for bit there. You’re like Stephen Colbert of the science/atheist blogs! I bow to your cleverness. Kudos!”

    Although I love Colbert, I’m actually being 95% serious.

  • mk

    Seriously! Well done! Never breaks character!

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • Kevin

    anonymous one: The idea you’ve presented that the universe is too “particular” to be a self-sufficient, i.e. causeless, entity seems related to the anthropic principle. We can certainly imagine a universe with different properties where life (as we know it) couldn’t exist. However, without knowing how the universe came to have the properties it does have, we can’t say that these different properties are a real possibility, rather than just a fantasy. Also, our logic is based on causality and allows us to postulate the existence of causeless entities, but we don’t know that the former principle can be extended to the universe itself and “beyond” (as I said before), and we don’t know that the latter postulation has any physical relevance or meaning.

    God’s existence can be phrased in terms of evidence or argument, I agree. However, if there is no evidence for God’s existence, than God might as well not exist, because evidence is any effect God has on the universe. It’s true that creating the universe is an effect, if it can be proven, but there’s still no logical step to take from that information that gets to any existing form of religion or spiritual belief (again, besides deism).

    I don’t deny that you and other people have had religious experiences that are very similar in content and feeling; there’s clear evidence for it. However, I do deny the assumption that the cause of those experiences must be God. It’s much simpler to ascribe these experiences to similar conditions within the experiencers’ brains, all things considered, which is a perfect example of Occam’s razor. In fact, research into what exactly happens to the brain during a “religious experience” is being conducted right now. Even if an outside cause rather than an internal one ends up being a better fit for the information once more is known, demonstrating that that cause _must_ be God is quite a heavy burden of proof.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    It sounds to me like an atheist would have little uncertainty about his disbelief in god/s.

    Well, sure. Probably you are the same. Ask yourself this question.
    How uncertain are you that Zeus doesn’t really exist?

    Sure, perhaps he does really exist but…I doubt you’re going to honestly lose any sleep over it.

    They always strike me as less of an argument and more a way of making fun of god…

    No. It’s not about making fun of a god. It’s that there’s no evidence that the god exists in the first place.
    It’s about illustrating how empty is the claim that there is a god/gods.

    For example, my NW camping experience could be considered evidence against a bigfoot (sans bigfoot siting).

    Nope. You were clearly not in the right place in the right time. The Bigfoot was there. You just chose not to see it. Or perhaps you farted or something and you drove it away just as it was about to say “Hi”.
    (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

    “Evidence against…”
    If somebody wants to claim that Bigfoot exists then you don’t have to provide any “evidence against” Bigfoot. That’s not your job. That’s not your responsibility.
    They claim that there’s Bigfoot? Then THEY get to provide evidence FOR Bigfoot. You don’t have to do anything except check out their evidence.
    If you find their evidence compelling then there’s no problem with signing up to the Bigfoot Appreciation Society.

    Same goes for unicorns, Zeus, pixies, Ra, ghosts, Sky Woman, Wotan, bunyips, Krishna, etc.
    No exceptions allowed. No special pleading. No Get Out of Jail Free card.

    I’m convinced that this terminology ends up being largely a function of culture.
    Excellent point. So, with that point in mind, I would respectfully suggest that you don’t restrict yourself to the definitions provided by one solitary dictionary. There’s a big chance that those defintions were written by non-atheists.
    If we’re talking about culture then please check out how atheists define themselves, not how religious people with vested interests define them.
    Please have a look at the link I provided. There’s lots of intellectual discussions on atheism that might give you a better understanding on what atheists think about things. I personally found it to be very useful.

    Take Dawkins, for example. How does he sum it up?

    We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in.
    Some of us just go one god further.

    Professor Richard Dawkins

    If you can get behind that then…I’d call you an atheist.
    :)

  • Kevin

    And Dawkins is paraphrasing the historian Stephen Henry Roberts, who said:
    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    Tacticus says:
    “Religious indoctrination is a vital part of the suicide bomber’s preparation.

    And also note that without that indoctrination, there are no suicide bombers.”

    This hypothesis suggests that secular resistance groups such as the LTTE would make little or no use of suicide bombers. How do the data fit this prediction?

  • Aleksandar Mikovic

    This discussion about God and atheism has two aspects: the political and the philosophical. The political aspect is related to the question is religion usefull or harmfull for a society and what should be a role of religion in a society. These questions do not have a simple answer. As far as the philosophical aspect is concerned, I tried to argue that essentially there are only two posibilities: materialism or idealism. The problem with materialism is that you can not have natural laws, because a natural law by definition is not a part of spacetime nor of matter (it is a mathematical structure). Then what would be perceived as a law of motion would be simply a random regularity in the motion of matter. Then the problem for a materialistic philosophy is to explain why regularity in Nature is so widespread and persistent in time (“The unreasonable effectivnes of mathematics” – Weyl). The only explanation is that all regularity in Nature is a giant fluctuation, which is ridiculous. On the other hand, the idealism, or more precisely the platonism, can accomodate the natural laws, mathematics, as well as the idea of God.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    This discussion about God and atheism has two aspects….

    Hang on!
    You said something about an “atheist worldview” before.
    What happened?
    That silly and meaningless phrase now missing from your latest post.
    Is it because you now understand that…it’s silly and meaningless?

  • vel

    I find very little “post-Christian” about America. There are still more Christians than non-Christians or agnostics or atheists and to say that “woo-hoo, they’re declining” allows for decline in the activism that is definitely needed to keep them out of our lives.

    I suspect that this decline is mostly those Christians who have decided that every other form of Christianity is “wrong” except theirs and that they have tried to abandon the term because they don’t want the baggage that comes with it. How many of us see the usual claims of “a relationship, not a religion” or some such way to disassociate themselves from the horrors that their God evidently advocates? Instead of one massive religion, we now have millions of sects that all think that they have the only grasp of the “truth”. IMO, this makes them more dangerous than ever.

  • Otis

    So lets see, we have two data points. Lets draw a straight line connecting them. Ah-Ha!! That gives us a definite trend to Post-Christian America!!

    Is this the sort of thing that scientists do?

    “Betting against American religion has always proved to be a fool’s game. In 1880, Robert Ingersoll, the leading atheist of his day, claimed that “the churches are dying out all over the land.” In its Easter issue in 1966, Time asked “Is God Dead?” on its cover. East Coast intellectuals have repeatedly assumed that the European model of progress, where modernity equals secularization, would come to the U.S. They have always been wrong.”

    “Looked at from a celestial perspective, the American model of religion, far from retreating, is going global. Pastorpreneurs are taking their message around the world. In Latin America, Pentecostalism has disrupted the Catholic Church’s monopoly. Already five of the world’s 10 biggest churches are in South Korea: Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has 800,000 members, is a rival in terms of organization for anything Messrs. Warren and Hybels can offer. China is the latest great convert. There are probably close to 100 million Christians in China, most of them following a very individualistic American-style faith. Already more people attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party. China will soon be the world’s biggest Christian country and also possibly its biggest Muslim one.”

    That quoteed above is from the editors of the Economist in their Wall Street Journal article that cam be read at:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123906081768295037.html

    Sean, and most of this blog’s commenters, are far removed from reality.

  • Grant H

    “Ryan Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 10:13 pm
    That is great if it is becoming increasingly clear (read: Newsweek survey). I came to the same conclusions quite a while ago. What do you propose to do about it? Talk about your atheism until all the Christians are super mad and everybody else who stopped listening a while ago continues to not care? In the US the conflict between the secular and religious is largely a cultural one, where evidence has very little effect.”

    Yeah… your right (in my mind). It’s just that this doesn’t need to be about convincing the religious about the failings of faith. I think “Post-Christian America” would be the complete and strict separation of state and religion, not some attack on religion. If that was done, such an achievement would change the world.

  • Grant H

    “ree ree Says:
    April 6th, 2009 at 1:36 pm
    I’m not yanking your chain. I do believe in God and in miracles, you know. Just like how many string theorists believe the theory HAS to be true. Yet atheists don’t chastise string theorists, so why should they chastise religious people?”

  • Aatish

    I am constantly amazed at how much a bunch of readers who don’t pay any subscription feel that they are entitled to. The comment by John Doe above is a classic example – this dude would rather have Sean stop writing about non-science, instead of bothering to simply NOT READ the post. How charitable of him to allow Sean another non-science blog for his thoughts on matters beyond science. And how cruel of Sean to not ‘clearly distinguish from physics discussions’ a post that is called ‘Post-Christian America’ and tagged as religion. It must be hard to separate physics from non-physics when you don’t care to read a word.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    Sean (who maybe actually remembers me from conferences 10 years or so ago) says:

    “I suppose I am a Bright, by the stated definition (naturalistic worldview, etc.). But I’m not sure what the benefit of joining groups like this might be, and I’m very sure that attaching the label “Brights” to people with naturalistic worldviews was one of the worst PR moves of all time.”

    I couldn’t agree more. A PR disaster of very high magnitude. The only book I’ve read by
    Dawkins is “The God Delusion”, which I enjoyed, though of course in my case it was
    preaching to the choir. (I admit that I am hesitant about reading his books on evolution
    since I am strongly influenced by Stephen Jay Gould, who claims that Dawkins
    over-emphasises certain things, to put it mildly. Of course, Gould ties in to the post
    on randomness and the link to Peter Coles’s blog.)

    There is the analogy with “gay” (take a positive word and attach it to something you think
    is positive but most people don’t), but the difference is that most people don’t mind if they
    are deemed to be not gay (in the traditional sense), whereas most would probably take
    offense at being deemed not bright (or being deemed dim).

    Somewhere on the web, I ran across the term “secular pagan”. That says it all. It is SO
    much better than “bright”. Getting back to cosmology, all the world (especially people
    who write about cosmology, whether or not they are cosmologists) should realise how
    much better Sean’s coinage “smooth tension” is than the now ubiquitous “dark energy”.

  • Aleksandar Mikovic

    Dear blogger,
    I was referring to “atheistic worldview” as the materialistic philosophy where everything that exists can be explained as a pattern of motion of elementary constituents of matter.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    I was referring to “atheistic worldview” as the materialistic philosophy…

    (sigh)
    Ahah, now I understand your confusion!
    Atheism is NOT materialism.

    Talking about materialism is not the same as talking about atheism.
    Talking about atheism is not the same as talking about materialism.
    Don’t conflate the two.

    There is no “worldview” of atheism.

    “Atheist worldview” is meaningless gobbledy-gook.
    “A-pinkunicorninism worldview” is meaningless gobbledy-gook.
    “A-fairiesinmygardenism worldview” is meaningless gobbledy-gook.

    No set of rules. No handbook with easy-to-read instructions.
    No creed to recite before bedtime. No single ideology or set of behaviours.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=803X0iiiX0c&feature=related

  • ree ree

    Grant H

    Thank you for repeating what I said. :)

  • Jerry

    It’s both humorous and depressing to discover the vast number of people who have no conception of scientific thinking. Everything we know about the world suggests that there is no reason to continue invoking supernatural explanations. If you want to believe in some ancient fairy tale, that’s your prerogative; just accept the absurdity of your belief and stop trying to come up with fanciful justifications for it.

  • ree ree

    Happy Easter, Jerry!

  • Jeff

    I would find most of these posts from the clearly self enthused ‘intelligentsia’ to be humorous, if not for the fact that the secular / atheist movement is such a cancer on our society. I can describe it no other way.

    I would ask the so-called men of science to look in the mirror. Then to look outside at the starry night. Then to think about the thoughts you have had in your mind today. Look within yourself and around at the world. You must realize (i) man understands and is capable of understanding, but a grain of sand in the desert of all there is to know of himself, his inner workings and of the complexity of the natural world (ii) man can create nothing that does not already exist (iii) if not God who created all of this – then who? No-one? Laughable.

    I describe the mindset here as a cancer because the secular-humanist view, over all else, devalues the human being, while proclaiming the opposite! If man is not made in the image of a Creator, if there is not existence beyond the grave, then there is nothing and man is without soul and without value. He is but dust in the long run.

    I believe that learning only intensifies the belief in God, not the opposite which is so often described. The more I learn about Mathematics for example, the more I find I do not know and the more I marvel at the architect.

  • ree ree

    Happy Easter, Jeff!

  • Kevin

    Jeff,

    The “arguments” you make for such forms of creationism are pure anthropomorphism. When you ask “who created all of this,” you are _assuming_ that some kind of creator being exists. This assumption is not only baseless, but actually irrational. The only model our minds have for a “being” is humanity itself, so in conceiving of God as a being you are actually making God in our image (the exact reverse of what the Bible claims). Furthermore, there are two things to realize. First, we have no basis to believe that any being like ourselves could create any system even remotely close to the size and complexity of the universe. Second, on the level of our own existence, there are thousands of areas in which humanity and life in general should be more efficient if, in fact, we were “intelligently designed.”

    Secondly, it is actually religion which devalues man, by claiming that all of his value is a mere grant from some outside being (God). The ability to reason and reflect is man’s greatest strength, and from this ability we may and should give value to ourselves. The idea of having some value that will last for eternity may be a comfort to you, but unfortunately no such thing actually exists (as far as we know). All we can do is make as much of an impact we can in the areas important to us in the time we have, and our memory will last in the minds of our loved ones (and maybe, if we’re lucky, in some contribution to the general knowledge of humanity). _Everything_ is dust in the long run.

  • Jeff

    Kevin-

    Regarding the first point, I assume that man did not create “all of this”. Someone / thing / force (call it what you will) other than man must have – I attribute that to “God”. I also assume that man is incapable of understanding the why and how of creation. I think it is laughable arrogance to apply the scientific method to that which we are so incapable of understanding or testing. Also, how can we judge as inefficient that which do not understand?

    You misunderstand the phrase ‘in the image of God’. Certainly it does not argue that a being like ourselves created the universe. Far from it. Instead, it argues that we are, in all of creation, set aside. Mankind was not an accident and that we were created through the will of God.

    The atheist view is that no God / deity exists. It seems to me a backwards null hypothesis given that we perceive a reality. Say you are agnostic, but to claim the negative is untenable.

    The second point I could not disagree with more. Without the concept of a soul, there is no difference in value between you and an earthworm. Your value is then in my eyes. If I say you have none, how can it be challenged? We have witnessed the manifestation of this throughout history and we know well the fruits it bears.

  • Kevin

    I have already addressed the errors in the argument for God as the “first cause” (see http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/04/05/post-christian-america/#comment-70568 ). “Someone/thing/force… must have” is still an assumption.

    You may find it arrogant to believe we can apply the scientific method to the universe, but I find it incredibly insulting and baseless for you to assume we are incapable of understanding it. As far as inefficiency, in that category I was speaking specifically of human and other bodies, not the universe as a whole. A classic example is the appendix (why would an intelligent designer give us an organ we don’t need?), but there are many others.

    The statement “mankind was not an accident” is still anthropomorphism. When an action is performed by a being, it is either intentional or accidental. The thought that man’s existence must, then, either be intentional or accidental, is a false dilemma, because it assumes man’s existence was the result of the action of some being, rather than natural processes whose results can’t be described as accident or intention. Evolution does include random mutation, but the processes that compose it are “directed” by natural law.

    It is not correct to say the atheist believes in “no God”; the atheist _does not believe_ in God. There is a major difference there (and one that’s been heavily discussed in this comment thread already). Yet again, our perception of a reality does not necessarily imply a creator for that reality.

    There are many sources of value for a human that do not exist for an earthworm. The ability to reason, to imagine, to create… these all contribute to the human potential. As far as challenging a view that I have no value, it’s actually quite simple: “I disagree.”

  • Giotis

    There is no salvation. Man suffers. He suffers because he is not everything. He is not the whole cosmos that contains everything and itself. He is not the “whole” but he can dream the whole and even give it a name; its name is God. So why anybody would want to amputate man and deprive him of his dream? Why anybody would want to disconnect man from the “whole”?

  • Jeff

    We will have to agree to disagree. Not surprisingly…

    Because we are finite human beings we both make assumptions, do we not? Why, because we do not know the answers with any certainty. You assume a “natural” process (whatever that is) and I assume a Creator. Every scientific discipline (mine is Statistics) makes assumptions. You assume the appendix is not efficient and an element of a proof against intelligent design. I recoil from that and would say given what we know of biology we know the human can survive without it and there appears to be no function to the organ. I would say we do not know if and how the appendix is utilized during gestation. I would extend my conclusion no farther.

    Do you realize how far man is from any understanding of the cosmos? Do you realize how little we understand about how the mind functions? About the energy of life? About conception? This is where I base my assumption that man is unable to employ our tools to fully understand or master our reality.

    Value Potential. Value is intrinsic and shared equally amongst us all. Potential, in your view is subjective and uneven.

  • Aquaria

    But it never made sense to yolk any genuine spirituality, non-selfish ethical views and suspicion of materialism to the creepy, Randian self-interested megacapitalism of the Republican party.

    Why wouldn’t it be sensible to yoke the two together? Have you forgotten Seneca the Younger?

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful

    Look, the long and short of it is that the creepy Randians and the religious fundamentalists need the same thing to truly succeed. Both benefit from a society with large numbers of ignorant, desperate people. Both stand to gain everything if they can roll back time, preferably to 1890.

  • Aquaria

    #110

    But why assume something that is infinitely more complex than the parsimonious statement of “I don’t know, until I see evidence?”

    You’re adding to the problem, not solving it.

    I’m not a statistician, but something seems really weird about throwing in something that unnecessarily complicates a formula which, when applied in every other circumstance, but this one based on some flimsy evidence, and proofs that aren’t quite up to par, say, arbitrarily adding something that is essentially the equivalent of 1/0.

    Or another way to look at it: If you were conducting a survey, and you had 5 responses to it by X number of people, and you assigned a percentage to each of those, would you then add a sixth topic to the results you publish because it’s one that you think people wanted to say? Because that’s what asserting God does. You’re adding something that adds more questions than it answers: How do you know that they wanted to say that, but couldn’t? Can you read their minds? If so, how does that work? What was their reason for not saying what they thought? And etc.

  • WTF?

    Ha! I read your posts Aquarius a couple times and still have no idea what the hell you are saying except you think Republicans are ‘creepy’ and have a lot to gain if we can relive 1890. Have another sip of the kool-aid.

  • WTF?

    And how is it that conservatives, small government proponents, stand to gain with a mass of ignorants? On the contrary the liberal socialist finds power in being able to rule and to do so they need ignorant desperate masses to be reliant on them!

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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