Francis Collins pollutes science with religion

In today’s New York Times you’ll find Sam Harris’s op-ed piece on Francis Collins’s appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health, explaining why he thinks Collins is a bad choice.  When I read a preliminary draft of the piece, I was struck by the list of five slides taken from Collins’s lecture, and so I went to YouTube to watch it. (The link is below.)  The slides are taken from a Berkeley lecture in which Collins aims to break down the walls between science and spirituality, areas that he says should not be “walled off” from one another.

After watching this talk (it’s about an hour long, starting at 6:00 and ending at 1:13:00, with the beginning and end occupied by introductions and questions, respectively), I am more certain than ever that Collins really does pollute his science with his faith. By speaking with the authority of a scientist, by discussing science at length, and above all by describing in the same talk the evidence for evolution and the “evidence” for God, acting as if they are of similar epistemic significance, he is confusing his audiences about the nature of evidence and the nature of science. (See his comment at 51:30 that “My role here is to tell you what I as a scientist and a believer have learned about science and what I have learned about my belief in the context of that and vice versa.”) It’s a disquieting performance, even more distressing because Collins is an affable and genial speaker, conveying his snake oil is with a dose of sugar.  And it’s scary (but not incomprehensible) to see how a smart man has managed to convince himself of a set of superstitions that are completely unsupported by evidence.

Before I dissect his arguments, let me give Collins credit for one thing: he isn’t a straight-up wackaloon creationist.  He recognizes that intelligent design is not science, and gives some arguments against it. He doesn’t do nearly as good a job as Kenneth Miller, but at least he tries, and that’s good. But then he undercuts the whole business by proclaiming that the evidence points to the hand of God on the tiller.

If you want to avoid having to watch the whole megillah, scroll forward until about 27 minutes in, when Collins starts laying out the “questions” that science cannot answer, e.g., What happens after I die? Is there a god?. Of course the implication is that faith can answer them, but he’s wrong.  How can faith tell us what happens after we die?  Do our bodies get taken to heaven? If so, do we show up with our bodies at the age at which we died, or as an infant, or as something in between?  If we’re cremated, do we appear before St. Peter as a cinder?  How can we tell for sure that we’re not going to be boiled in molten sulfur for eternity?

The whole tenor of Collins’s argument is that his acceptance of God is based on empirical evidence. In this sense he puts it on the same plane as his science, and this is the pollution that has always troubled me.  (Look at Collins’s five slides, highlighted by Sam Harris, and see if they don’t look like flat assertions about reality.) Collins begins laying out the “evidence” for God at 28:39.  It is, briefly, this:

1.  There is something instead of nothing.

How does that prove there is a God? Physics tell us that something can indeed come from “nothing” (that is, the absence of matter).  The origin of the universe is of course a problem that physicists are still working on.

2.  Mathematics is “unreasonably effective”.

Well, how ineffective would it have to be before it didn’t point to God?  Didn’t Gödel show that it wasn’t perfect anyway?

3.  The Universe was put together by a mathematical mind.

How does he know this?  Why do regularities in the Universe testify to the existence of a celestial being? After all, isn’t the suspension of regularities — that is, miracles — also taken as evidence for God? You can’t have it both ways.

4.  The physical constants seem to have “precisely chosen values” that enable the existence and evolution of complexity.

Note the word “chosen”, which assumes what the argument is trying to prove. There are, of course, numerous scientific theories for why the values are as they are (and they don’t appear so “precise,” anyway).  This work is in its early stages, and so Colllins is advancing a God-of-the-gaps argument — a form of argument that he pretends to abjure (see below).  Since we don’t understand why the “constants” of physics are as they are, says Collins, their “precision” must constitute evidence for God.  Note Collins’s assertion that scientific hypotheses like multiverses require more faith than do religious explanations

Too, there are already good scientific explanations for “fine tuning,” including Lee Smolin’s hypothesis that new universes are constantly coming into being (the “multiverse” theory), and those whose physical constants allow them to last a long time will eventually, though a process analogous to natural selection, enrich the population of universes with those having “tuned” constants.  This is not a “desperation” or a “faith” move, as Collins implies; rather, as Sean Carroll has pointed out, multiverses are a natural prediction of some classes of physics theories.

5. The Big Bang shows that the Universe had a beginning.  Therefore it must have had a creator; that creator would have to have been supernatural, and “that sounds like God.”

So much for all the physicists who are trying to figure out how the universe could have arisen through natural causes.  Give up, folks — Collins says that he knows the answer!

6.  The existence of a “moral law” (which Collins defines as the universal observance by humans of codes of right and wrong) can be understood only by the existence of a creator.

This is the most bizarre of all his arguments, and the one which most strenuously evades both science and reason.  The existence of human morals can be understood as a result of either evolution, evolved rationality, or both.  One common explanation involves the evolution of reciprocal altruism in small communities of hunter-gatherers.  Another, advanced by Peter Singer and others, invokes rationality itself — recognizing that nobody has a moral claim to be special — and the extension of that in interdigitating societies.  There are perfectly good non-God reasons for individuals and societies to adopt and adhere to moral codes.  Collins pretends that these reasons don’t exist.  Indeed, he cites the existence of “extreme altruism,” as demonstrated by Oskar Schindler’s saving Jews at risk to his own life, as evidence that altruism isn’t evolved.  This shows no such thing.  Some people choose to adopt children, a manifestly nonadaptive act, but that doesn’t show that the drive to be parents didn’t evolve.

The most inane and disingenuous part of Collins’s argument is his claim that without religion, the concepts of good and evil are meaningless. (Collins’s slide 5 in Harris’s piece: “If the moral law is just a side effect of evolution,  then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?”)  That’s palpable nonsense.  Good and evil are defined with respect to their effects and the intents of their perpetrators, not by adherence to some religious code.  It is beyond my ken how a smart guy like Collins can make a claim like this, even going so far as to argue that “strong atheists”  like Richard Dawkins have to accept and live their lives within a world in which good and evil are meaningless ideas.

There are, of course, also statements made without evidence, including this one:  “God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the Moral Law), with free will, and with an immortal soul”  And this (slide 4): “We humans used our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God.” How does he know? What’s the evidence? Isn’t the distinction between the science slides and the faith slides being blurred here?

Look at it this way:  suppose Collins gave a talk sketching the evidence for evolution, and then went on to say how “evidence” points to the past existence of a space alien ruler named Xenu, who kidnapped some of his people, preserved them in antifreeze, and transported them to Earth, where they were stored in volcanoes. The souls later escaped and are now wandering around, clinging to humans, and this is what causes all the trouble of the world.  Only by detecting this soul-infestation with a fancy instrument, and subsequent deprogramming, Collins might say, can we root out these disembodied vestigial souls and find happiness.

If Collins said this, you might well think he’s a wack-job, too ridden with crazy ideas to hold down an important government job.  But of course the beliefs I described constitute the theology of Scientology, and are no different in kind from the beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or of any other faith.  The reason why it’s ok for Collins to profess evangelical Christianity is because Christianity is a superstition that is common and socially sanctioned.

The great irony of this talk is the contrast between Collins’s entirely reasonable dismissal of intelligent design as being based on God-of-the-gaps arguments, and his credulous acceptance of those same arguments when it comes to matters like morality, multiverses, and the so-called fine-tuning of physical constants. At one point he avers that scientists should not invoke supernatural causes if natural causes will do, but then abandons this stand when it comes to physics.  Shouldn’t we give physicists a few decades to figure out why the “constants” are as they are, just as we gave biochemists some time to figure out how the flagellum evolved? Apparently not.  Collins has decided that science will always be impotent before certain problems, whose continued existence must therefore prove God.

This kind of evasion and use of double standards is of course de rigueur for religious scientists who insist on publicly harmonizing their faith with science.

If Collins continues to go around giving talks like this as head of the NIH, I will no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.  He is polluting science with faith — and hurting public understanding of science — by pretending that empirical evidence points to the existence of God.

OTHERS WEIGH IN:  See P. Z. Myers’ take on Pharyngula (and a new one here) and Russell Blackford’s post on Metamagician and the Hellfire Club. Newsweek weighs in here.

215 Comments

  1. Posted August 1, 2009 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I live in Japan, and it bothers me when bad theologians and religious nuts espouse: The existence of a “moral law” (which Collins defines as the universal observance by humans of codes of right and wrong) can be understood only by the existence of a creator.

    I always like to teach the religious that what they talk about as “moral” laws are actually ethical standards. Standards which vary depending on culture, and the ebb and flow of trends within societies, separated and distinguished by the procession of time.

    In Japanese culture they have the custom of bathing publicly, nude, in relaxing spas called ‘onsen’. Men, women, and children can go to these places to bathe and get clean. It’s an ancient custom, a hygienic necessity, and a cultural norm for the Japanese.

    Whereas in Western and predominantly conservative cultures, most often religious, bathing naked with others would be a “moral” crime. It would tarnish the whole notion of bodily sanctity and chastity, of modesty, and of propriety. In Christian circles, I’ve positted this cultural juxtaposition only to find Christians shocked and snidely commenting about how the Japanese are hedonists, unsaved, and will likely burn in hell for such “culturally backwards” and “degrading” practices. But the point is lost on them.

    The cultures are different, so too the cultural norms of what is considered acceptable and contemptible, and all this directly effects what the standard of ethical thought will be.

    But for a person of faith to admit that there is no “universal” moral law would put into doubt their entire notion of morality. It would challenge their notion that they are the morally acceptable because they have God. And so to adapt to such a naturalistic blow they go about demonizing those who are different, instead of embracing the differences and taking a curious interest into why it is so.

    And this way of thinking, of holding your beliefs to be inviolable and above the rest, as the religious inevitably do, I find, breed intolerance, xenophobia, and prejudice… and is a direct consequence of believing God is a higher source of morality, and that people are not the progenitors of moral conduct. To the contrary, we humans have developed the concept, and moral standards and ethical concepts do vary from culture to culture. There is no universal.

    • Hameer
      Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Tristan,

      I am an agnostic and I agree with your line of reasoning (for the most part). However, if morality is ultimately “relative” in EVERY aspect, then why should an atheist value “ethics” and “morality”, or “fairness” and “justice”? If there is no inherent/archetypal aspect of morality in this universe, then one has no firm ground to stand on, no reason to call anything ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and thus no criteria to make any ethical/moral judgment.

      Even atheists view the world as “good” and “bad”, at a personal level. Why should they be ethical then if the whole notion of ethics is an evolutionary delusion? Are we ethical and moral just for mere FUNCTIONAL reasons? I find that an impoverished view of human life.

      • articulett
        Posted August 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        I find you an impoverished example of humanity.

        Morals are no more an “illusion” than “justice”. Even monkeys and dogs show a sense of justice and get angry when given a lesser reward for performing the same task as a peer. They risk their life for their offspring and refrain from killing others all without belief in a giant sky daddy. They never engage in warfare either.

        Atheists repeatedly come out on top morally no matter what measurement you use, so either belief in a sky daddy isn’t working as advertised(it sure doesn’t keep priest from molesting kids) or the atheists have superior morality because they don’t need promises of eternal rewards and threats of hell to behave civilly. Moreover, atheists never cause suffering under the illusion that they are following the will of god as the hijackers on 9-11 did. What wouldn’t a person do if they were truly convinced that their “happily ever after” depended on it?

        Atheists have all the depth, intelligence, ethics and morality as their theistic counterparts; they just don’t delude themselves into thinking it came from an invisible man. Moreover, they average a higher I.Q. than their more theistic peers which could explain why more secular populations are plagued with fewer social ills and greater functioning.

        And regarding “something from nothing”… Atheists don’t have to know or care where the universe came from to recognize that no guru does either. Gurus have been making up answers to such questions for eons to control people, but only science gives real answers which, so far, has never entailed anything supernatural–

        People like you are forced to dress your gods in straw men suits and jam them in the few gaps left and post your “faith in faith” blather on rational websites in an everlasting attempt to feel good about your invisible friend.

        Say, are you as “agnostic” about demons as you are about gods? Fairies?

      • Hameer
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        articulett: “Atheists repeatedly come out on top morally”

        But WHY should they be so, if there is no such thing as “good” or “bad”??? You have no reason to be ethical or moral. Are you atheists moral, just for mere FUNCTIONAL reasons?If so, that is indeed an impoverished life you all live.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:56 am | Permalink

        “Are you atheists moral, just for mere FUNCTIONAL reasons?”

        We all are observably moral, so reasons are ultimately irrelevant. (I don’t find ethics useful, so I won’t go into that.)

        Reasons that have been given in this thread is that morals is a result of evolution (animals show morals) and a result of rationality.

        Of course all of that entails exactly the same reasons for atheists as for religious persons, except for the dogma and authority figure part. I.e common things are empathy, sympathy et cetera.

        If you are arguing that your emotions are of purely functional relevance for you, regardless of social implications such as morals, that is fine. Or if you by extension would like to argue instead that society is of pure functional relevance for you, that is fine too.

        Don’t expect others to agree regarding themselves or the population in general though. For myself, I *like* society.

  2. Murray
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Physics tell us that something can indeed come from “nothing” (that is, the absence of matter).

    Can someone please expand on this for me? How does physics tell us that something can come from nothing?

    • Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Virtual particles. More generally, as someone noted, that there is something is generally assumed to be the state to be explained and the state where there is nothing the default. There’s no reason in physics or metaphysics that I know of to den the reverse: that something exists is the default state and that nothing exists (if that state occurs) is the state to be explained.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Here is an explanation from Physicist Victor Stenger: Go here.

  3. Cafeeine
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    @Hameer
    “that is indeed an impoverished life you all live”

    How is it impoverished? Considering the opposing view, that morality is just adhering to a standard based on the whim of a higher being, there is nothing impoverished about realizing that what we call a moral stance is better for functional purposes. Is it impoverished compared to that? I don’t see it.

    • Hameer
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Actually for me, being moral for fear of a God’s retribution is just as impoverished as being moral for functional reasons. Both are dead-ends for me. I am talking of the possibility that some aspects of morality are inherent and archetypal within the fabric the of the Cosmos (the Platonic view).

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hameer’s pronouncements about atheist’s morality are nonsense. Morality comes from kin selection and near-group altruism. It is the same for everyone. There is no morality from theism, it is usurped by religions.

      • Fr. Ted
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        Though NEB has not always appreciated Hameer’s comments, I do think he has presented very rational dialogue.

        NEB – I have a question, which is now far away from the original topic on FC or evolution, science and reason. It does have to do with atheism and ethics.

        I don’t want to get off on a discussion of a specific issue, but rather want to keep this a generic question about ethics. Religious folk have their tradition – whether the ideas came from God, or voodoo popes who wanted to control people. This tradition is now accepted as having authority in the lives of believers. Atheists see this as being irrational, but it does fit a human pattern of how societies are built and held together.

        Religious tradition does have a problem in dealing with new information that science can offer about an issue. It is hard to incorporate new scientific discoveries when they (appear to) oppose “revealed” truth. There has been a long history of religion retreating on issues as the scientific evidence came in – Copernicus and Galileo come to mind.

        My question to you: on what basis will atheists determine what behaviors are acceptable or not? Will it end up being a democratic vote? Will there be some standard determined – a certain amount of scientific evidence will mean all decisions must now follow this parttern, no exceptions?

        I am trying to think of an issue that won’t get tangled in current debates. Say in the future tests are developed for fetuses that can with 98% accuracy determine what diseases that fetus would have if they were allowed to live. Say with that information insurance companies, governments or employers decide that they really don’t want to have to pay for the birth of individuals with certain genetic diseases. Science says we can identify the fetuses with those diseases and so mandatory abortions are ordered for all such babies. (I am not questioning abortion here, the issue is purely the decision to end certain pregnancies because of the genetic information obtained). Also just for the sake of argument, let us say these are certain cancers that are detectable, not some anencephaly or terrible defect that would terminate life shortly after birth.

        But say some parents don’t want to terminate the lives of their babies since they know the babies would grown into at least young adulthood. How will such an issue be decided in a totally rational/scientific world? (I am asking, this is not a trick question nor a trap – I am trying to understand what you would say is envisioned).

        I ask because having read the the collected writings of founding American father James Madison, he is a constant advocate for the minority. He continually says the problem on moral issues is that the majority will try to force the minority to live by their values. He found that unacceptable and so argued for the protection of the minority opinion. It is why he concluded the separation of church and state was the only way to prevent the majority from forcing their religious/moral judgments on the minority.

        But I am wondering if in a totally rational world, the minority opinion would be totally disrespected because the powerful would argue they are being totally rational, totally objective and thus no one has the right or arguments or reason to resist them. Human “feelings” of the parents would count for nothing. It would be argued, “science says this is the most reasonable path…” It would then be a totalitarian state based on this supposedly totally objective and un-arguable science. There would be no room for and no toleration of any other ideas or opinions. Minority ideas would simply be stamped out as reason would demand. Do you think it would work differently?

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 3:30 am | Permalink

        Fr. Ted:

        But I am wondering if in a totally rational world, the minority opinion would be totally disrespected because…

        You completely get it wrong about atheism and about morality. Your premise is that atheists in “totally rational world” would discount minority views. Why do you come to that conclusion for atheism? It is wrong, by far and it is offensive to me.

        Morality is innate in our species, at least for those who are not mentally deficient or criminally inclined. Although atheism is defined as lack in belief in gods and no assumptions should be made on other stances, most philosophical naturalism atheists stand for personal freedoms. They would far more likely stand up for minority representation than would religious fundamentalists.

        You ask how to decide? It is acceptable to me when theist practice their beliefs in private and keep them out of the public arena so that secularism is allowed to govern and people have the freedoms to live their lives without constraint by arbitrary rules of woo and dogma as long as they do no harm to others.

        Fr. Ted, your attribution on how things would operate in that last paragraph is disgusting.

      • Fr. Ted
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        NEB,

        I actually agree with you that it would be disgusting, but that doesn’t answer the question.

        It seems to me – may be just speculation – that humans being what they are the issue of power or absolute power would corrupt just as readily in a world run by atheists. I am not saying it would be worse than the current world, but I expect it would all work out much the same. Kind of like the old adage that in Capitalism man oppresses man, but in Communism it is just the reverse. So too I suspect that in the world run by religious people, man oppresses man and in a world run by atheists, it would be just the reverse.

        My original question probably can be found in many science fiction stories – what would a world based totally in scientific rationalism be like? I would guess that if science, or all rational people, had to base all thinking purely on the facts, that the facts would become in some sense an Infallible Truth, that would then be required to be believed. Minority opinions would be seen as not being based in fact, and thus of no value in a totally rational world.

        The earth revolving around the sun – once was thought of as a heresy, then a scientific theory, now a fact. Anyone who would hold an alternative view would be considered a wacko, if not perverse or demented. What would a totally rational world do with people who insisted on this viewpoint? Marginalize? Institutionalize? Euthanize?

        Maybe too much science fiction, but I just wondered how you would envision the world dealing with alternative viewpoints on any issue if you believe that every thing you think is based in undisputed fact. I just wonder how that world would be different humanly speaking from say living as a Christian in Pakistan where the Muslim majority is totally certain its position is indisputably correct and the minority has no protected rights.

        I am not trying to be offensive to the atheist by saying they would be worse than anybody else. However, since we are all human, I am not sure they would be different than anybody else when they came to power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely will still be the rule.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        I think that the ultimate goal is to do the opposite of your speculation of “Marginalize, Institutionalize, Euthanize”. The goal is a society where everyone is free to live their lives where they do not harm themselves or others and do not force their views upon others. Any rational society has to make laws, and there has to be some discussion on such things like pharmaceutical control (which ones, what are the penalties, etc.) or traffic laws and many other issues. But a rational society would not penalize someone with an alternative view. It takes religious nonsense to proscribe that behavior. No one should care what someone else’s views are as long as they do not force them upon others. For instance, my personal view of gambling is that it is idiotic and time wasting and that it points out weak character but I don’t think people should be jailed for it. I just laugh it off as human behavior.

        Your contention that “every thing you think is based in undisputed fact” is also a poor premise. The world has nuances everywhere. a Christian living in Pakistan is not an equivalent model because that is the theist dogma totalitarian way, not a rational secularist society.
        Yes, absolute power does corrupt and that is why a rational, secular, humanistic democratic society would not be an absolute society.

      • Fr. Ted
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        NEB – thanks for the answer, that does help me to understand how you see the world. You may assume I am more hostile to your view than I am.

        I have noticed in some writings of atheistic rationalists a tendency to say the only way of knowing the world is based in sceintific fact and that is the only thing worth knowing. Yet fact and truth in this sense will become infallible truths to be enforced by those who accept them and imposed on those who dissent. This seems to be the human way. Just read Jerry Coyne’s comments on those questioning Obama’s birth – facts don’t seem to matter. Conspiracy theorists believe their conspiracies no matter what evidence is brought forth (and you would say religious believers do the same). People are frustratingly people, which means they don’t always act rationally nor are they always interested in the facts. That is why I am skeptical that a world governed totally by rationalism would be all that different form our current world.

        True skepticism is the saving grace in a purely rational world, or so it seems to me. I know you find it hard to imagine that rational people would follow the intolerant and reactionary mistakes of religious people in the past. But I think that is because you underestimate how rational and factual the claims seemed to those folks when they made them. They were not trying to be irrational or superstitious. They believed their truths and so did a large segment of society around them. Evidence can change many opinions, but not all. For example NEW SCIENTIST magazine reported how the Darwin’s “tree of life” model is not supported by the evidence and will eventually be replaced, but meanwhile some scientists doggedly hold to it. (BTW, if interested, you can read some comments I made about this at http://frted.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/the-tree-of-life-darwin-vs-genesis/). If people want to disprove evolution, the answer seems to me: do the science – digging deeped into the bible won’t help.

        My contention is only that people are people. There seems to be (genetic, evolutionary?) tendency for people to be intolerant of those who are different, which humans have to consciously overcome. I would offer that religion (among the many things it is has done good and bad) has tried to resist “the natural” tendencies in people and to consciously choose a better way of behavior. That is what I think you would find the argument for love, brotherhood, altruism in religion to be an overcoming self interest for the good of the larger social need and population, or perhaps expressed negatively suppressing self interest to the interst of the community. That gets twisted into religions trying to control people, but I would say that was not the original impulse.

        A final nudge – you wrote: “No one should care what someone else’s views are as long as they do not force them upon others.”

        Does this apply to FC as well? It seems some are not quite so willing to offer him that favor.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Once again Fr. Ted you make quite invalid assumptions and attribute motives to atheists and rational secularists that are not there.

        Example:

        Does this apply to FC as well? It seems some are not quite so willing to offer him that favor.

        People question FC’s irrational statements and ASK if he will use those positions to force his will upon science. If you can’t understand that difference, there is little hope for you.

        Example:

        atheistic rationalists a tendency to say the only way of knowing the world is based in sceintific (sic) fact and that is the only thing worth knowing.

        Yes, it is the only VALID way of knowing so far and NO, no one says it will forever be the only way of knowing.

        Example:

        …and imposed on those who dissent

        Yet another false attribution. I am tired of correcting every sentence of yours Fr. Ted and I do think you are maliciously trying to goad responses to your hostile statements, so I will no longer respond to your negative and wrong comments and premises and assumptions.

      • articulett
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Fr. Ted, I have to agree with NEB… you seem to be going out of your way to prove to yourself that atheists can’t be moral. You seem to need to believe that your faith is responsible for your morality. You’re engaging in dishonest digressions and purposely mishearing others.

        It doesn’t matter where you think your morality comes from… or where the atheist thinks it comes from… what matters is the result. And no matter what measurement you use, the atheist comes out on top. They are less likely to murder, go to prison, rape, divorce, have an abortion, etc. The more secular the societies are healthier by almost every measurement you look at.

        The biggest predictor of criminal activity in an individual is a Y chromosome… not faith or lack of faith. Males commit more crimes and are more violent on average than women regardless of which invisible beings they do and don’t believe in. But still it would be wrong to accuse Y-chromosomed people of being immoral just as it’s wrong to continually insinuate it about atheists.

        Atheism cannot be a moral guide any more than your lack of belief in Scientology or lack of belief in fairies can be a moral guide! In the same way, god can’t be responsible for your morality even if you believe he is… if he does not exist.

        If religion aided morality, I doubt you’d see such a strong strain of pedophilia in the clergy. After all, what good is a threat of hell, if it can’t control people from inflicting their sex drives on those whom it harms? Where is the evidence of this supposed morality that comes from theism? And can’t this be achieved without magical beliefs, promises of salvation, and threats of hell? Atheists seem to manage without such things, after all.

        I think the superior morality in atheists may have to do with the fact that, on average, atheists have higher IQs and a better education. Moreover, they tend to be more honest (they don’t spend their lives lying to themselves). But that’s just a guess. I’ve never had the desire to pillage, rape, murder, etc. so it seems like god/devil belief is irrelevant in regards to helping me refrain from such activities. Plus, I find life tends to work better when you follow the law and treat others the way you want them to treat you and your loved ones.

        I feel happy when I aid in another sentient being’s happiness (even a puppy), and I hurt when I witness others suffering. I understand that these feelings evolved in most humans and are regulated by hormones like oxytocin. We like others who we see as feeling the same way that we feel about things. I never saw the need to add an invisible guy into the equation, and I think it’s chilish (Santa-esque) to do so.

        You are trying to spin a delusion by negating the harms of faith and imagining harms in atheism that aren’t there. You do this because you’ve come to need the belief that your faith makes you a better person–but there is no evidence for such a claim.

        You are asking insincere questions, like every faitheist… not because you want an answer– but because you want to use your dissatisfaction with the answer to prove some point in your head… and so you can imagine that FC is being discriminated against because of his christianity, and not because he is very vocal about some very antiscientific beliefs that you, yourself, would fight against if made by someone of a conflicting faith.

        It may not seem dishonest to someone whose brain is seeped in faith, but it sure looks dishonest to someone like me who used to do the same thing, before I learned to think rationally.

        Let me paraphrase you to show you how insincere you sound: My question to you: on what basis will priests determine whether they can fondle young boys or not? Will it end up being a democratic vote? Will there be some standard determined – a certain amount of scientific evidence will mean all decisions must now follow this pattern, no exceptions? Why are threats of hell not enough to stop them? Are people who refrain from molesting kids exercising the same free will as those who don’t even if they have no desire to molest kids?

        How would you answer this?

        Why in the world should an atheist take your similar queries more seriously?

      • Fr. Ted
        Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        I was away for the day so only now am catching up to your comments. I will offer an apology – you think I’m intentionally trying to be offensive, but not so. I was purely engaging in the speculative “what if the world was free of religion.” Contrary to your claims, I am not trying to paint atheist as immoral. If you read my comments, rather than reading into them or just reacting to them I think you would see my contention was that a world in which rationalism ruled would be a lot like the world we already have because people are people. Tyrannies and abuses and misunderstandings would continue. Getting rid of religion is not going to change the fact that humans are still what they are and they would still believe in conspiracies and have minds that are hard to change. I mentioned the article from NEW SCIENTIST which seems to make that point.

        Articulett – I will say that some of your comments are ad hominem comments. I guess you want to insult me by bringing up RC priests molesting boys.

        Here’s a fact for you – I am not Roman Catholic. I am a father of 4 now grown children. So if you hoped to hurt my feelings and get me to respond to your attack, sorry, I have no sympathy with abusive priests. I agree with your questioning, “what good is a threat of hell, if it can’t control people from inflicting their sex drives on those whom it harms? Where is the evidence of this supposed morality that comes from theism?” But the answer may surprise you. Because on one hand those who oppose religion accuse it of being all about control, but then argue that it doesn’t control. So which way is it?

        You also mention that you believe atheists have higher IQ’s then believers. I don’t know what that proves. Here are some more facts for you. I started college with a scholarship in chemistry, though I really wanted to be a math major. I got my bachelor’s degree at age 20. I had a 3.95 GPA in college. I have 2 master’s degree (summa and magna cum laude) and am a Mensan. So instead of talking averages, let’s you and I compare on education and IQ. What say you?

        I said I don’t know what your comment about intelligence proves, except maybe to make you feel good. When I became a Mensan what startled me was that there are Mensans who are Creationists and ID adherents, pagans, UFO believers, and a host of other things. Intelligence does not change the fact that people are people – very intelligent people believe all kinds of things.

        I considered myself an atheist in college but for many different reasons didn’t find that to be personally satisfying. I had many questions about being human, meaning in the universe, etc, which eventually moved me into accepting a faith in God.

        I will say though that I sill find atheism logical and can understand why some embrace it.

        My questions on this forum were not insincere but apparently you think you can determine my motives which is not very rational.

        I can agree with many criticisms poised against religion. But the comments I’ve seen here do not make me think that religionless people would run the world all that differently than faithests because people are people. I see the same kind of intolerance I can find in religion. Too many faithests on this site I think you said. I guess you would eliminate them if you could.

        I can tell you a story against my own tradition, Christianity. Christians were outlawed in and persecuted by the Roman Empire for about 300 years. When the Christians came to power sometime after the Emperor Constantine granted a toleration of Christianity and then it became the empire’s official religion, were they tolerant of other religions? Did they remember what it was like to be persecuted, falsely accused, maligned? Apparently not, for they begin their own persecution of other faiths. I’ve read in history, I am not totally sure of the accuracy of the claim, in the late 4th/early 5th Centuries the Christians supposedly crucified some pagans who refused to cease and desist their practices. I don’t know what you know of Christianity, but that story defies all logic to me because of the method used for the punishment. I know very well stories of terrible cruelty done by religionists of all kinds. It is what leads me to conclude that people will be people. People believing themselves to be totally logical can do some very irrational things.

        Mixed in with some of your insults and assumptions, you made a few rational points, but truly the level of discourse was disappointing.

        My apologies though for having offended.

  4. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    I’m late to this party, so I will try to keep short. Just some notes about the physics though.

    I recommend Stenger’s “God – The Failed Hypothesis” on this, see NEB for a link that gives some taste of the answer to #1. I have already given Stenger’s testable and tested hypothesis that there _is no finetuning_ in the sense given in #4.

    Finetuning _in the science sense_ is why a need for balance to achieve parameter values and so sometimes why there are “unnatural” parameters, i.e. not close to 1 in natural units. ‘Nother story, but it shows that Collins perverts science.

    An urgent note:

    there are already good scientific explanations for “fine tuning,” including Lee Smolin’s hypothesis that new universes are constantly coming into being (the “multiverse” theory), and those whose physical constants allow them to last a long time will eventually, though a process analogous to natural selection, enrich the population of universes with those having “tuned” constants.

    I would try to stay away from Smolin, who has been commented by people who seems to be in the know that he is a laughing stock in the theoretical physics community. (Read: crackpot.) His general idea of a fecund universe (using black holes as “white holes” gates into other universes) is fairly disproved. Without a sensible mechanism it isn’t an “explanation” nor “good”.

    Finally, #2 and 3, here blueollie is perfectly correct. Gödel doesn’t apply to science in that way. It applies in the opposite sense, by adding axioms he shows you can use math for modeling anything physical. (Algorithmic Turing equivalent for “can be resolved” is “result in finite time”, which physical systems must obey, so we are fine there.)

    And that is all that math does. By picking specific formal models it is “effective”, never mind all the math that doesn’t find use. It is an observer selection effect.

    But more to the point, theoretical physics has been found to be algorithmic at heart. Whoopee dee woo, what else do you expect from Stenger’s observation that “nothing” by its very nature is the most symmetric, conserving, state there is? Physical laws and so algorithms are unavoidably tied to “nothing and something”, born out of symmetry, without superfluous supernatural assistance.

  5. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    The Big Bang shows that the Universe had a beginning.

    Uups, I also meant to say something specific on #5. (So much for “short”.)

    “Big Bang” shows no such thing. First, as evolution it is an ongoing process, of expansion. Then and if inflation theory is tested OK, we will know about the local end of inflation, out of which the observable universe was born.

    Second, any singularities before that remains to be tested. For example chaotic inflation embeds the observable universe in an infinite “pocket universe” multiverse process, so no singularity needed.

    [And yes, there is a simple theorem (as I, as a layman, can understand the gist of it :-o) that any semiclassical worldline going back must start from a singularity because of the expansion. But that can AFAIU be circumvented by simply pushing the upper boundary of such a set towards negative eternity.

    Or, if chaotic inflation fails to be consistent with Planck, one can substitute Stenger's observation. Universes of our type, standard cosmology, have been found to be null energy. (Thus explaining more basically why they are flat and potentially eternal.) This is prime country for quantum fluctuations from other, potentially non-expansive universes. _And_ it makes creation by "agents" impossible: no energy so no action is allowed by thermodynamics.]

    Again Stenger perverts science.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Duh! _Collins_ perverts science.

  7. Deborah
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I have kids who could easily deconstruct his arguments for a creator.

  8. Posted August 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Fr. Ted wrote

    Maybe too much science fiction, but I just wondered how you would envision the world dealing with alternative viewpoints on any issue if you believe that every thing you think is based in undisputed fact

    Father, you’re conflating “omniscient” and “rational” and that conflation is leading you into any number of strange assertions. We can be fully rational but still have incomplete data and therefore differences of opinion. We must make decisions then on the basis of the best partial evidence, recognizing that as we learn we may have to change our minds and that alternative viewpoints may better account for the current evidence. That’s a core difference between scientific/skeptical/rational thought and religious thought. The former recognizes circumstances under which it’s rational to change one’s mind. Further, those circumstances don’t depend on idiosyncratic subjective feelings, but on a shared conception of the way to resolve conflict: look for more relevant evidence. Reflect, Father, on why the main method of resolving theological conflicts is schism.

    • Fr. Ted
      Posted August 4, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      I appreciate the answer. That rational does not mean omniscient is a helpful insight. I am just trying to understand a world in which scientific rationalism rules. As I said, it might be science fiction, but in such a world do mercy, forgiveness, compassion, love really have a place? These are often irrational, though very human and sometimes very beneficial, ways of decision making and I would probably say of knowing/relating to the world. But in some of the comments I’ve read from atheists, they make it sound as if being a Vulcan or a automaton is pinnacle of human social evolution. Everything must be based in or on fact period. No other way of knowing or relating can ever be valuable. It that is the case, and facts are irrefutable, it seesm to me an easy jump into totalitarianism as fact trumps skepticisim every time.

      That is one issue for me, will skepticism remain part of the totally rational world? Will we become so confident in our scientific knowledge that skepticisim will be viewed as heresy? Atheists may think I am being unfairly critical of them, but I am not. I am simply making an observation about how humans behave.

      Genetics under political or social pressure becomes the “science” of eugenics applied with ruthless rationalism as observed in the 20th Century.

      Interesting that some of the theistic evolutionist I’ve read argue exactly that evolution is good science. However it is sometimes hijacked for philosophical ends (like atheism, for example or eugenics). They argue science and religion should both be concerned that evolution remain scientific rather than as a tool of or proof for philosophical assumption.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Genetics under political or social pressure becomes the “science” of eugenics applied with ruthless rationalism as observed in the 20th Century.

        That is just plain wrong. It was under totalitarianism modeled after theistic autocratism.

  9. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This comment thread is littered with far too many pseudo-scientific Anti-Theists.

    Who clearly don’t understand that Science and Religion are not even remotely incompatible, this reveals THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND RELIGION /OR/ SCIENCE.

    Clearly, if you poll these pseudo-scientific-comment-Nazis on whether or not God exists, you will (continue to) receive a resounding NO.

    Yet no REAL scientist will ever make this statement because the evidence, is currently insufficient to draw a scientific conclusion.

    /One way or the other/.

    If you want to proclaim yourself a science-tist, at least have the courtesy to display that you adhere to its basic principles.

    The quasi-scientist comments aside I would just like to point out that you lost me at Hello.

    The implication behind opening argument 1. in the column above is completely unsubstantiated and false.

    re:

    “1. There is something instead of nothing.

    How does that prove there is a God? Physics tell us that something can indeed come from ‘nothing’”

    [no it can't. Completely false -Ed]

    “(that is, the absence of matter).”

    [attempt to re-define "nothing" to a much narrower definition than is meant, notwithstanding - Ed]

    “The origin of the universe is of course a problem that physicists are still working on.”

    [agreed, which is why your counter-point 1 is invalid - Ed]

    This is a poor point made poorer by its disingenuous nature.

    We won’t waste time debating the qualifiers that the author snuck in to “re-define” the concept of “nothing”

    what matters is this:

    Despite the initial statement; the claim implied; and the back-out at the last moment., the REALITY IS THERE ARE NO SCIENTIFIC THEORIES that account for how something can come from nothing.

    None. Not a single one.

    There are a few unsubstantiated expostulates, but in REAL scientific-parlance at this point, they can only be seen as equivalent to SCIENCE FICTION and/or SCIENCE FANTASY Fiction.

    NONE, not a single expostulate, has the necessary SUPPORTING WEIGHT OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to render them “science”.

    To those that would assert -in the name of science- that they do, you clearly have become the very thing you claim to be railing against: Uninformed; Narrow-Minded; Dogmatic.

    All you need now is a cloak and a staff.

    • articulett
      Posted August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I think this comments section is polluted with too many faitheists like you, but I hope your little rant made you feel special and sciency.

      Science CAN say that there is no more evidence for gods than there are for demons and fairies. Science can say that there is no evidence that consciousness of any sort can exist outside of a material brain so all such entities are in the same “supernatural” magisteria–the one that doesn’t overlap with science.
      Science can say that Francis Collins delusions are no more scientifically acceptable than conflicting delusions or the notion that the emperor’s magical robes are pink and sparkly.

      All imaginary entities are cut from the same invisible cloth.

      Your need to protect some brands of faith is affecting your ability to reason, communicate, and follow the conversation. No one here seems to think you’ve made the valid points you’ve imagined you’ve made–you sound far more arrogant to me than those you seem to think are arrogant. The nice thing about opinions is that everyone gets to have one… and people tend to care about your opinions about as much as you care about theirs.

      Facts are a different thing, of course. Got any?

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      Wow, another one who makes up lies to support his bizarre beliefs.

      Michael Xavier produced a laughable comment devoid of any logig or reason or evidence, just dogmatic spews. One can feel the hate that goes along with his ignorance.

      Join me in a big laugh at Michael Xavier.

  10. articulett
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    How would Francis Collins belief in “souls” and “free will” impact on studies such as this:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804090946.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226141108.htm

    or http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/science/22brain.html?pagewanted=all

    And his belief in “ensoulment”– how does that affect his stance on stem cells?

    Will he ignore or disregard these issues and funding for them because they don’t support his heartfelt-waterfall-inspired beliefs? How can his beliefs NOT impact his scientific understanding in these areas. Francis Collins has demonstrated a steadfast ability to remain ignorant of any scientific knowledge that challenges his faith.

    This should concern everyone.

  11. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    I was THE LATEST to post, not as you obviously assumed, the first.

    Not that this would matter even if I had posted first and received no replies.

    My disdain for the anti-theist pseudo-scientist is so clearly outlined in my msg, I really don’t expect a reasoned response. At least not from anyone who sees themselves in the mirror of that description and naturally takes offense.

    Until the anti-Theists with a childish axe to grind..

    (who confuse members of organized religion / religious authority figures that they apparently have a personal problem with, with the concept of a creator)

    ..until that sort vacate intelligent-discourse blogs like this, there is little point in having any discussion with them.

    My post contains a very important fact:

    THERE ARE NO SCIENTIFIC THEORIES THAT _EXPLAIN_ HOW SOMETHING CAN COME FROM NOTHING.

    None. Not a single one.

    This is a very important fact.

    Why?

    Because it ought open up the REAL scientific/analytical mind out there.

    We need to ask the question, “how do you get something from nothing?” to understand what the question tells us/what the implications are of this question.

    The first thing it ought do (to the scientific mind) is bring about a realization that science understands NOTHING (as yet) about the ultimate origin of the universe.

    Zero.

    The Big Bang is a big blind spot in many amateur scientists who seem to stop thinking there.

    The real question that The Big Bang ought invoke is:

    1. where did the stuff that exploded come from?

    &

    2. what did it explode into?

    Both primary entities _pre-exist_ in The Big Bang theory.

    This is very important, as it reveals, that the big bang theory does not explain origin, that therefore, contrary to populist belief:

    _Ultimate origin_ remains WIDE OPEN for thought, speculation and scientific analysis.

    There are other important items the question raises concerning the nature of the universe and the nature of science itself.

    For example, science as we know at its core is an analysis of natural phenomenon.

    Essentially what science does is observe something to be true, accumulate evidence to support that it is true, and then provides a name for that truth.

    Gravity for example is an observable natural phenomenon, we then test it, define its parameters, and give it the name Gravity.

    Whether a scientist “Believes” in gravity should not be an issue.

    In the same way, we must consider that if the big bang theory is correct, and we take it back to its ultimate origin

    (read: even accounting for multiple universes that feed into eachother and that spawn new universes, at its origin point you come back to the same source, an original big bang that spawned a multiverse re-action, if you like the multiverse idea)

    The point here is that the NATURAL PHENOMENON that “something appears into nothing” is _ultimately_ postulated by the Big Bang Theory.

    Yet the axe-grinding pseudo-Scientists (where applicable, you know who you are) haven’t examined the implications of that, or simply don’t like the answer and so choose to ignore it.

    In effect they STOP THINKING.

    Why? perhaps because when you deconstruct The Big Bang theory, there are only two possible scientific answers concerning the ultimate origin of the universe, contained in it.

    1. The fundamental law of the universe (or multiverse) is that: Something IS born from nothing.

    2. The fundamental law of the universe is that: Something always existed.

    These are the only 2 ways to explain how anything exists in our universe, if you rely on the big bang theory and follow it back to its ultimate origin.

    Both answers sound too much like incomprehensible “magic” to many scientists who then pervert science, because they refuse to follow the rules of science at this point.

    The big bang theory implicitly carries with it the natural occurring phenomenon that: _something is born from nothing_

    or that _something always existed_

    and THAT is not commonly understood or mentioned.

    Yet it is an extremely revealing part of the big bang theory in relation to ultimate origin, and the nature of existence, because we ought begin to realize that the universe does NOT operate as seemingly logically as many pseudo-scientists would like to “believe”.

    WORSE The Big Bang theory ultimately opens the door up to the concept of a creator.

    Why? because if it is the nature of existence / a natural phenomena that a universe ultimately appears out of nothing and into nothing, to create everything we know..

    (as postulated by the big bang theory)

    then.. the same natural phenomena that created the universe via the big bang can JUST AS READILY create an intelligent life-form and launch it into existence at an earlier (or later) point.

    It doesn’t sound “logical” but that should be _irrelevant_ science at its purest SHOULD NOT BE concerned with pre-conceptions of what is logical and what isn’t, at its purest it should simply examine implied phenomenon, observe it, test it, define it and name it.

    This part is hard for the pseudo-scientist to accept, but pre-conceived notions of “Reason” have no place in science, it either happens or it doesn’t.

    Ultimately, what the big bang theory really implies about ultimate origin

    (that something appears out of nothing into nothing to form everything – or that something always exists)

    In either case: Ultimately, THE EXISTENCE OF GOD IS NO MORE (seemingly) “MAGICAL” THAN THE EXISTENCE OF THE UNIVERSE ITSELF.

    God is consistent with the big bang theory from a purely scientific analytical level.

    (when you take the time to examine what the BBT says about ultimate origin)

    When the pseudo-scientists understand that they have to throw away their preconceptions of “rational” (in a universe that BBT science itself ultimately states came about “irrationally”)

    THEN we can have a reasoned discussion, until then, there’s just too much anti-theistic axe grinding and narrow-minded bigotry masquerading as science, to have a meaningful discussion.

    imo.

    Michael Xavier.

    • articulett
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:42 am | Permalink

      It’s hard to have any kind of discussion with someone who sounds insane. You sound as insane as this theist to me:

      I can’t make sense of what you are saying, and I’m not sure anyone else can either… nor can we discern how it is relevant to the topic.

      Nobody has to know a thing about how the universe came to be or have any thoughts on it whatsoever to come to the conclusion that no guru, priest, or shaman knows either.

      All believers in “woo” are in the same magisteria… none of them have revealed information that science has later come to confirm. There is only one truth about how the universe came to be, and lots of wackaloon theories.

      I think I’ll get my information from the actual experts. Not the self-important nobody’s who think that scientists are claiming something I’ve never heard any scientist claim.

      I understand the big bang. I also understand that NO ONE can explain what happened before the big bang or even whether it makes sense to use the word “before” when time started with the big bang. “God” makes no more sense than “Xenu” as far as the evidence is concerned.

      • articulett
        Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:46 am | Permalink

        By the way, I’m no more of an anti-theist than I am an anti-scientologist, anti-rain dancer and anti-astrologist. I think magical thinking is childish and it makes people incredibly incoherent and arrogant as they imagine themselves “in on” higher truths and humble.

        But I can see why believers in woo would want to believe that those who don’t believe in their woo are persecuting them. It’s a lot easier to imagine that the doubter is a bad guy than to realize the doubter has good reasons to doubt.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      More pointless dogma from the mixed up mind of Michael Xavier.

      What a joke that comment is. It is not coherent.

  12. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Time as Douglas adams said is an illusion, Lunch time doubly so.

    At the end of this message, I will respond to the quiet answer you will inject into the lunch air (in response to the above text, 20 years from now)

    You know, when you have gone through your axe-grinding against religious nutjobs stage; have moved beyond your axe-grinding against scientist nut-jobs stage

    and finally decide to sit down and think about actual science.

    Instead of being so concerned with the personalities or the beliefs of the people on either side of them.

    …You’re Welcome.

    Michael Xavier.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      This comment by Michael Xavier is just a word salad. He has completely lost the ability to converse.

      So sad, so pathetic.

  13. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Two attacks at me Bob? ‘ell one was acceptable and sufficient.

    Bad Bob.

    OK, Will try to Explain another way.

    1: Science know Zero about ultimate origin of Universe.

    this mean scientists know zero about ultimate origin of Universe.

    this mean scientists that think they know more than zero about ultimate origin of universe NOT REAL SCIENTISTS.

    Real Scientists not pretend, not prejudge. That is traditional domain of religious zealots.

    That funny irony, considering many scientists start out not liking religious zealots, but have no problem becoming scientific zealots.

    2. Big Bang Theory leading scientific theory for origin of Universe.

    BBT deconstructed implicitly contain within it idea that “something is born from nothing” or that “something always exist”

    that the universe just appear out of thin air, no, not even air, that it appear out of thin nothing, into thin nothing, and create everything.

    This is point we must thunk.

    3. If SCIENCE leading theory on Universe origin carry with it idea that “something is born from nothing” then

    Question 1: that something can be what?

    hello, echo, is mic on? why scientists so quiet now.

    Question 2: Does UNIVERSE appearing out of thin nothing into thin nothing to expand and create big everything (Big Bang Theory) make ANY MORE SENSE than GOD (ALSO) appearing out of thin nothing into thin nothing..too?

    Rational pseudo-scientific answer: Yes, big difference.

    PROBLEM: Answer is WRONG. It seek to inject scientist personal definition of “rational” or “sane” into answer.

    REAL scientist answer: NO, no difference.

    BBT (and EVERY human “rational” scientific theory on origin) carry with it LARGELY UNEXAMINED inherent implication that the nature of ultimate origin, is: that something appear out of nothing.

    That this be way universe operates.

    This cause problem because some people think not sound “sane” / not sound “rational” and not sound like “science”. So they ignore or talk about evolution or baseball or porn.

    REAL scientist know it _irrelevant_ whether it seem sane or rational because REAL SCIENCE about what happen, not about what happening looking sane or rational.

    PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION: Science FALL APART when you take it back to the ultimate origin of the universe.

    Some scientists fall apart too.

    Flailing arms and shouting “noooo, this not sound good to me, plus me hate religion, let’s talk about that instead!”

    RESULT: Science has NO EXPLANATION for how something can come from nothing, or how something can always have existed.

    Yet THESE ARE THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

    Science think things change over time, like in evolution, it comfortable, it make sense, scientist scratch bum and head when have to look at things just appearing willy-nilly into existence, ..like Big Bang imply.

    (if you spend 10 minutes thinking a stage before BBT origin and thinking about ultimate origin)

    But things appearing willy-nilly into existence is precisely how Universe operate.

    This according to leading Science BBT theory.

    QUESTION: Why stop at Universe appearing willy-nilly into existence?

    Why draw line there?

    Why not God appear willy-nilly into existence?

    You think Universe appearing not as magical as God appearing?

    I think they equally magical-sounding in terms of appearance from out of nowhere.

    But what think is irrelevant, science not supposed to be concerned with politics or sanity sounding things, science just s’posed to say,

    “this is where ALL the current theories on origin ultimately point, so let’s name it and examine it without prejudice”

    Conclusion: Not only is there no inherent conflict between science and religion

    There is no conflict even WITHIN the Big Bang science, and God.

    If it be NATURAL PHENOMENON / the nature of existence, that a singularity can pop into existence, that the UNIVERSE can pop into existence, that /something is born from nothing/ (ultimately) and that be unfiltered unprejudiced examination of ORIGIN SCIENCE, then perhaps begin to realize Universe very interesting place, when talking about ultimate origin.

    ..of life, the universe, and everything.

    Michael Xavier.

    Post Script: If this still not make point in a manner that is acceptable, I can semaphore the next version if like.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Completely incoherent mush from Michael Xavier.

      Most sentences are incorrect English:

      “this mean…” instead of “this means…”.

      Michael Xavier has not given even ONE logical argument in all that swill.

      What a bunch of delusional crap. A five year old child can put together a more reasoned sentence that this nonsense.

      No one needs to rebut anything he says because he says absolutely nothing.

  14. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    you no like me cro-magnon speak Bob?

    Yes, I was being enunciationally facetious up there throughout the text.

    You’re not the only one who can be naughty, ya know Bob.

    Anyway, yer either 4chan Lulz’ing or you’re a bit off your game today.

    Either way, no worries, you’re not anywhere near as mean-spirited as typical 4chan Lulz’ers.

    Anyway, made my points *scribble* *scribble* *erase* carry the 42, uh twice now, if you still don’t recognize what they are, can’t help you further.

    Maybe you should start with “what happened _before_ the big bang?”

    then follow up EVERY answer you come up with, “and before that, and before that and before that”

    FINALLY you’ll get to the question of _ultimate origin_ and might have a better idea of what I’m on about up there.

    If not, well, as you were, and peace big luvable fellow.

    Michael Xavier.

  15. articulett
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Fr. Ted… I think you need to worry about how religion makes people immoral while imagining they are being moral before going off into a spin about what morality would be like if everyone were an atheist.

    There is no evidence that religious people are more moral and lots of evidence that many can be influenced to cause horrific suffering specifically because of their beliefs.

    And it’s not just Muslim terrorists…
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/another_mass_murder.php#comments
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/what_to_expect_when_you_hire_a.php#comments

    I think it’s fair for rational people to wonder how irrational beliefs affect the behavior of people in charge. Francis Collins has some very irrational beliefs… they may even be quite similar to the men in the above article.

    Shame on you, Fr. Ted for blinding yourself to the harms of faith while imagining harm coming from lacking such beliefs. Just because your religion tells you this is the case, it doesn’t make it so. Worry about your fellow religionists before tsk- tsking those of us who don’t believe that life is a pass/fail test where the objective is to BELIEVE in Jesus.

    • Fr. Ted
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Maybe you’ll see my comments above. I am not blind to the harms of faith and I did not imagine harm coming from the lack of faith. You read into rather than just read my questions. You have no idea about my thoughts about fellow religionists.

      But perhaps that is the problem with Internet discourse. We don’t know each other and so we have to fill in the gaps.

      Someone, maybe NEB, suggested I read YOUR INNER FISH. It happens I already own that book and will get around to reading it. Jerry’s WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE is on my list of books to buy but there are only so many dollars to spend on books.

      • articulett
        Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        Okay, maybe I over-reacted. It just seemed like you were doing that thing that so many faitheists do. They pretend to want information about something or other, but they don’t really want the information that they ask for–they want to skirt the topic at hand and imply something unsavory about nonbelievers.

        You seem to believe that religion makes people more moral, but there is no evidence that this is the case. You presume a sort of conclusion that atheists are less moral or have a different means of making choices, but you are very nonspecific about what choices you are talking about and how your religion influences your choices. But you infer that they make you or the faithful more moral or objective. We don’t buy that.

        The original post was about Francis Collins and it was pointed out that his faith makes him have a vested interest in not understanding how morality evolves. You and he both seem to need to believe that morality has something to do with religion, god, souls and “free will”. But you cannot support this claim with evidence, and scientific information suggests that these concepts are illusions that get in the way of actual understanding. So, instead, you spin a pretend discussion implying the stuff that you want to be true. Or at least that’s what it looks like to me.

        I don’t care what you believe or what your religion is any more than you care about my supernatural beliefs. I care about what is true. Your assumptions and questions about atheism are no more sincere than my pedophilia examples–so if you felt insulted, you might have a clue as to how atheists might feel with your similarly loaded queries.. These questions aren’t really directed at helping you discover answers… rather, they are questions designed to imply your own predetermined answer and make you feel good. It’s a common technique used by faitheists. Perhaps you don’t see it or won’t admit to it, but can you honestly claim that you wanted an answer to those questions?

        If you were really an atheist before as you claim, then you would know the answer, wouldn’t you? How did your decisions differ then than now? Did you go to an atheist committee and vote? Why would you ask such silly questions of us? However we were making our decisions, we seemed to be making as good as or better choices than the folks imagining that they were following god’s orders.

        Sometimes people do crazy things because they think it’s what god wants. We have no method of telling what Francis Collins is going to think god wants from him next.

  16. articulett
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Don’t confuse rationalism or atheism for nihilism, lack of emotion, lack of compassion, lack of humor, or dampening of feelings. Rationalists feel all the same feelings other humans feel, they just don’t attribute them to mystical forces. They have the same depth, feelings of love, attachments to other people and animals, etc. as you… we just haven’t been brainwashed to attribute all good mysteries to god and all “bad stuff” to evil forces of not following god’s will or a test from god the way religionists have.

    The feelings are the same… they evolved… they are the same no matter what your language or religion or what you don’t believe in. You don’t have to imagine that your kid is a miracle from god to feel overwhelmed with love for your child. It happens for us heathens too. I have been moved by waterfalls just like Francis Collins… but I didn’t imagine that it was a “sign” for me from an invisible guy in the sky about which religion was true!

    It is your own brainwashing that has lead you to believe that rationalists are vulcan-like in their feelings and emotional depth. It has no bearing in reality. You are confirming your own biases to proffer such a claim here.

  17. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Morality of Atheists vs Morality of Christians?

    Even if one were to leave aside that Christians have an embedded structured morality that is reinforced on a regular basis, some people talk a good talk against organized religion But the majority of these same people that narrow-focus and attack, in particular, Christians, for believing in something greater than themselves have NOT DONE 1/100th of what Christians have done to HELP people.

    That’s the real point of Jesus as a figure to look up to, have empathy with, and try to be like.

    When was the last time you saw a standard everyday Atheist donate money OR time to help people? COMPARED to Christians (who donate money EVERY SUNDAY and do volunteer work)

    + Christian Charities

    + Christian Aid Organizations (both local and global)

    that

    supply food

    and

    clothing

    and

    housing

    and

    medical aid

    to HELP people that desperately need it.,

    _comparatively_ Atheists are some of the most selfish/self centered people on the planet.

    Atheists have not earned the right to be respected for their belief in themselves above all else. No matter how many other self-centric people they get to scream at Organized Religion with them.

    There is simply no comparison.

    The majority of Christians do far more to help people than Atheists do, and that is the bottom line.

    If you want to see a comparison (and have a good laugh) look up “Atheist Charity” or “Atheist Aid Organization” on Google or Yahoo.

    Then look up Christian Charity/Aid.

    I’ll give one guess which group contains a list of numerous charities and aid organizations from around the planet,

    and which group starts with references to Science-and-Fantasy FICTION works and authors.

    There is simply no comparison between Christians and Atheists when it comes to morality.

    But it ought not be surprising, the very nature of self-first Atheism has thus far resulted in precisely what you’d expect: Atheists that pride themselves for thinking _for_ themselves yes,

    and that thinks largely _of_ themselves.

    Atheists/anyone can readily convince themselves they are morally equal to Christians, but there is no evidence to support this.

    Quite the contrary the evidence points the precise opposite way.

    To be morally equivalent to Christians (or any other equivalent group) to be moral _period_ requires that you put your time or money where your moral-mouth is.

    You can be morally well intentioned, but Morality is about ACTION not about words.

    Without action it is merely self-serving empty and meaningless lip-service.

    In Morality as in everything else, Money and Time Talks, Bull-excrement Walks.

    Michael Xavier.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      What a pile of malicious lies this comment of Michael Xavier is.

      …Christians have an embedded structured morality that is reinforced on a regular basis…

      Such as the assignment to hell to burn for eternity for non-belief.

      Atheists have not earned the right to be respected for their belief in themselves…

      This numb nut still does not understand the definition of atheist: the lack of belief in any gods. Period.

      The majority of Christians do far more to help people…

      Like the crusades. Like the predatory priests. like persecution and murder of non-believers, etc. etc.

      There is simply no comparison between Christians and Atheists when it comes to morality.

      This is true, since most devout fundamentalist Christians have no morality whatsoever.

      Actually, Jewish philanthropies have a much higher percentage of giving per person than Christian charities. Muslims give multi-billions to other Muslims, although their intentions are suspect.

      What a crock of bullshit Xavier’s comment is.

  18. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Still laughing too hard at the list of Atheist Charities and Aid organizations starting with SCIENCE FICTION references, to respond to you.

    Give me a moment Bob.

    I don’t think anything more really need to said to more clearly illustrate that despite the mistakes that have taken place in organized religion, when it comes to actionable morality, Athests claiming they are equal to or superior to Christians, simply cannot be taken seriously.

    Putting your money and time where your moral-mouth is, is the lit-myst test.

    When Atheists display they can think about people OTHER than themselves,

    Until Atheists display they can do 1/100th of what Christians do to help people

    (do try to understanding the difference between /a/ Christian and the organized religion’s NUMEROUS proxy-figureheads over the millennium(s), some very good, some very bad, as one might expect per the human norm – because when/if Atheists ever have an Atheist pope/figurehead, you will quickly learn the difference between Atheists and the Atheist figureheads)

    The Bottom Line remains: Until Atheists TAKE ACTION to help people with more than words, in the way that Christians do, they will never be morally equal to Christians or any other people that actually put their time and money where there mouth is, to HELP OTHER PEOPLE.

    That will always be the bottom line.

    Michael Xavier.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      The bottom line is that the most immoral people are those who do things in the name of religion. Period.

      Controlling, lying, deceitfulness, dishonesty, murder – that has always been the providence of the religious.

  19. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    P.S: The idea that you go to hell if you don’t believe, is completely false, though a common misunderstanding, bottom line is that is NOT part of Christianity.

    You might want to look that up.

    But it’s irrelevant anyway, we’re not talking about what Christians or Atheists believe, if you hadn’t noticed, we’ve moved on to talking about what people DO. Today. Now.

    Why?

    We know what a part of the world run by Christians looks like.

    It has made mistakes, as you would expect from anything nearly 2 millennia old, no doubt it will continue to make mistakes, though one would hope to lesser degree, but when you look at the pros vs cons, when you look at the larger picture, when you compare it to other systems, you can see that Christian morality has resulted in a world in which people try to help other people.

    For all its errors, this is not a bad legacy. A saving grace if you like.

    It’s certainly better on average than many other systems.

    And when it comes to helping other people, Christians get top marks.

    Now, If you want to posit a world run by Atheists, you have to look at Atheism’s track record.

    On the issue of free-thought they score top marks, on the issue of Actionable Morality? on the issue of helping others? they fail miserably (if providing a google search chuckle).

    If we could get to a world in which people thought freely AND helped others, it would be much better, but until then, the Atheists track record indicates a much more SELF-centered world, and a world in which people DO NOT HELP EACHOTHER.

    I’ll take Christianity or any other group that teaches ACTIONABLE morality in helping others, with its warts flaws and all, over an Atheism run society anyday.

    There’s simply no evidence that an Atheist run world would be morally better.

    Indications are we’d have all of the human flaws associated with any ism, and NONE of the moral benefit.

    So far, comparatively they’ve been all criticism of others and self-fladulating talk and NO MORAL ACTION.

    Particularly in the one key area that really matters: to help make peoples lives on this planet better, to put their time and money where their mouth is and HELP OTHER PEOPLE.

    When Atheists display they can do that, and they’ve had 2000 years or so in which they make no mistakes, I’ll applaud them.

    Right now, I’m concerned with THIS life, with the people on THIS planet.

    Atheists have not yet displayed through ACTION that they care much about anyone else on it but themselves.

    Start up atheist charities, donate time and money regularly, and you’ll get my respect and the respect of the world.

    Until then, I prefer a system that incorporates MORAL ACTION, that donates time and money towards helping other people.

    And Atheists are at the bottom of that pile.

    Michael Xavier.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      More lying by Michael Xavier – so typical. Sorry you are so blind to the murder and lies and deceit and treachery of religious people. The most horrific acts are perpetrated in the name of religion.

      The fundamentalist Christians and Muslims are the bottom of the pile. These are the people who show very little humanity. They gleefully murder for their fake gods.

      Of course Xavier, you didn’t answer when I called you out on rates of charity – You prefer to make shit up rather than face facts – how very Christian of you – for that is the meaning of the term.

      We are all rolling around the floor laughing at the fool Xavier who says going to hell is not part of religion – what a bald face lie. How do you live with yourself – oh yeah, you are religious, so you have no morals and no ethics.

  20. articulett
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Like all theists, MX, thinks that if you affirm a lie often enough it will become true.

    Some of the top philanthropists in this country–including Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are atheists. And atheists give freely without hoping to get heaven bonus points. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/religion/post/2009/07/68495858/1

    It must suck for religionists that their lies can be so easily dismantled.

    I will presume that FC is not the liar that MX is and I will try not to use MX as an example of theists in general since he is such a poor example of humanity.

    • articulett
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Fr. Ted and other theists/faitheists: please read MX and it will help you understand why a person would be concerned as to how how Collins religion might affect his thought process.

      Religion is clearly, at least partially, responsible for MX’s lies, hubris, impenetrability, unlikability, failure to reason, and inability to converse on this topic. I dare you to tell me how he sounds any more sane than Tom Cruise in his wacko Scientology clip. Does you think he has any less of a Messiah complex.

      Not all religionists are crazy, but there are some types of crazy that only religion is responsible for… and it’s the kind of crazy that people feel “special” for being afflicted with.

      Or is MX making sense to someone other than himself? Do any of his fellow religionists thinks he is making more sense than the average Scientologist going on about scientology? Does anyone want to sound more like him or think that his faith has made him a better person? I think if I were a believer, and I read someone like MX, I’d start to wonder whether my faith was making me sound as insane.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 6, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        MX is near the bottom of the barrel. I have to wash up after reading each of his comments so the stench of his lies doesn’t stick on me.

      • articulett
        Posted August 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        I think you are the only person reading him.

        (At least, while he’s composing his diatribes here, the real people in his world are free of his outbursts. You have contributed positively to their lives! :) )

    • articulett
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Fun with faith–

      Pharyngula posted this recent Edward Current satire:

  21. Michael Xavier
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    The truly disturbing part is that
    Neither of you realize that it’s You two that have consistently displayed the disregard for evidence and the traditional display of narrow-mindedness that you simultaneously attempt to ascribe to religionists.

    And all this, _while_ engaging in rampant blatant hate-speech against entire groups of peoples?

    If you two intend to defend and thus represent Atheism, you might want to either present some facts to back up your claims, or simply stop making ludicrous unsupported proclamations.

    (hint: going ballistic when someone asks for evidence to support your claims, instead of actually you know, countering it with evidence, is a clear sign to anyone ELSE watching, that you have none)

    1. God and Science aren’t compatible?

    why was that again? ah yes, I recall now, because religious people are nuts.

    That was a good reason, backed up by solid science.

    2. Atheist morality superior or equal to Christian? that was a good one. All of Google research laughed too.

    Ah yes, you two prefer another index than actually helping people yes? the “I meant to help others, but I uh had to return my movie” Morality index.

    3. “I have free thought! Christians don’t, I am therefore intellectually and morally superior”

    Yes, I’m sure those starving kids in Africa that Christians donate money to help, while other Christians travel half way around the world to put bread in their hands, and provide medical aid and shelter for, I’m sure they REALLY appreciate YOUR superior free thought.

    But you’re intellectually and morally superior of course. So you keep telling us.

    4. The hordes of altruistic charitable Atheists en moral par with Christians!

    They must be like God, invisible, sure as ‘ell aren’t to be found on Google or Yahoo. Except in Science Fiction.

    Great set of arguments you lads put forward.

    Now, I’m sure you think launching personal attacks against those you don’t agree with, and playing off eachother in this comment section will somehow obfuscate the incredible utter hollowness of your presented arguments,

    (or lack there-of of ANY presented argument supported by evidence, whatsoever in ANY of the issues discussed here)

    but I can assure you, your poor reasoning skills, your disregard for evidence to support your blanket statements, your attacks on individuals AND your attacks on ENTIRE peoples will not be lost on Everyone.

    I would suggest You recuse yourselves and let someone take over that doesn’t sully the name of Atheism any further than you two have already done.

    In any case, aside from the public display of lack of knowledge on matters science, and your lack of willingness to adhere to even the most basic of science requirements, ie. the need for evidence, and your displayed close-mindedness when it comes to analyzing science.

    Aside from that, I s’pose I ought thank you two for making the point concerning the dangers of self-centered Atheists and self-centered Atheism far better than I could have done.

    Thank You.

    Honestly, two uninformed narrow-minded bigoted hate-speech spewing self-proclaimed defenders of Atheism in the same place?

    Better hope too many others with a political agenda don’t head in here, You two are the gift that keeps on giving.

    Michael Xavier.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Of course, not a single bit of truth or facts there, Michael.

      You are so bad at your lies too. You mis-characterize and put disgusting filthy words in the mouths of others that they never said. You are one piece of filth, for sure.

      Michael Xavier, consummate Liar for Jesus™

      • articulett
        Posted August 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        The truly disturbing part is

        what faith can do to thinking.

        Could you ask for a better example than MX for an illustration as to how faith and fact don’t mix? It’s like we have our own Fred Phelps right here on WEIT.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Time for Michael Xavier, consummate Liar for Jesus™, to do as his religion commands him to do and go on to his next life of rewards in heaven. Do it today, time is wasting.

  22. Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    (Khimiya, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 305-310 (2006)

    This paper, “A Fourth Law of Thermodynamics,” rationalizes self-ordering in nature. It explains the genesis of dissipative self-ordering in all far from equilibrium systems and provides an explanation for the genesis of life from cells to civilizations on bio-friendly planets. Taking this a step further, the law says that virtue is embedded in the cosmos and subsequently in moral repertoires of intelligent beings. I call it the hand of a minimal god.

  23. Posted August 25, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I feel as if a lot of people are over-reacting to Collins’s “context of faith.” The issue is over how he treats evidence, right? Well most of his “evidence for God” statements are *reasonable* claims in my opinion, even if false. The only one of his “evidence” statements that seems bothersome to me and relevant to political issues is the “moral law” nonsense, implying that we can’t be good without God. As if moral reasoning and wisdom are somehow impossible for Buddhists and atheists who live very moral lives without either a God or a belief in one.

    As dumb as that last one is, it’s probably a common opinion even among scientists, so I’m not sure I’d single out Collins as an extremist for it.

    Relax, we have worse enemies than good scientists who happen to possess religious feelings as well. Be more concerned about the pseudo-scholars like Jon Wells who are obsessed with de-legitimizing textbook science and really do observable damage to culture.

    • newenglandbob
      Posted August 25, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      You have to understand that the problem is not that people have religious beliefs, because having them, in private, is just fine.

      The problems is two-fold.

      One problem is when someone like Collins goes out of his way to publish his thoughts and to create a foundation like Biologos that bases nearly everything on unfounded belief instead of reason and logic that tries to convince others that they should also think like they think, then we need to worry.

      The other problem, which is not the case here, is one where religious practitioners like evangelicals and other fanatic theists try to force their definition of morality upon others.

      • Posted August 25, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, I don’t mean to minimize people’s concern. I know it’s not harmless. I’m not thrilled with semi-theistic fluffy oddball science, but I don’t think it does all that much harm either. Yes it wastes resources but I think it serves a useful and real purpose for a lot of people even if it doesn’t specifically advance theory. I’m not at war with it, and I guess I simply don’t buy the “theism domino theory” that it will slide us into theocracy.

        I think the real problem is building scientific literacy and curiosity, which we are really bad at in many places. People thinking “maybe the universe is fine tuned for us” is trivial compared to “why doesn’t my textbook have dinosaurs with saddles?”

  24. Posted February 19, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    What if atheism fostered a complete rethink on our relationship with the environment… and did so in a way that encouraged people to use fact based reasoning instead of blind faith? Perhaps it would assist our “species” in our quest for survival instead of push us towards “judgement day”. I know which future I’d prefer. Videos on my blog talk about this issue

  25. Dave
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Collins is still trying to reconcile a horrible act of violence against his daughter and he needs to believe in a loving god that listens to him. His God arguments are non-scientific, they are based on personal need. The world is a challenging place and when the unimaginable happens we try to find reason for the unreasonable.


15 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Francis Collins pollutes science with religion By speaking with the authority of a scientist, by discussing science at length, and above all by describing in the same talk the evidence for evolution and the “evidence” for God, acting as if they are of similar epistemic significance, he is confusing his audiences about the nature of evidence and the nature of science. (See his comment at 51:30 that “My role here is to tell you what I as a scientist and a believer have learned about science and what I have learned about my belief in the context of that and vice versa.”) It’s a disquieting performance, even more distressing because Collins is an affable and genial speaker, conveying his snake oil is with a dose of sugar.  And it’s scary (but not incomprehensible) to see how a smart man has managed to convince himself of a set of superstitions that are completely unsupported by evidence. [...]

  2. [...] da comunidade científica naturalista nos Estados Unidos (podem ser vistas mais opiniões recentes aqui, aqui [...]

  3. [...] beyond scientific inquiry? These questions worry Harris and some others like evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, and they worry me. Some of Collins’s statements from a set of [...]

  4. [...] Francis Collins pollutes science with religion In today’s New York Times you’ll find Sam Harris’s op-ed piece on Francis Collins’s appointment [...] [...]

  5. [...] Jerry Coyne takes on the assertions by Francis Collins about science and [...]

  6. [...] as director of the National Institutes of Health because of his irrational religious belief. Then Jerry Coyne takes a shot at Collins. And of course this whole issue of whether science should actively discourage religious faith leads [...]

  7. [...] to PZ Myers for the links to this Jerry Coyne piece on Francis Collins (Obama’s choice for NIH Director) lecture at Berkeley. (And a review by Sam [...]

  8. [...] ORIGINAL STORY [...]

  9. [...] Posted on July 29, 2009 by Michael Hawkins Jerry Coyne has a post about why Francis Collins pollutes science with religion. It’s a succinct piece that basically nails Collins for all his silly, childish, [...]

  10. [...] Coyne’s blag on Francis Colloid: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/francis-collins-pollutes-science-with-religion/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Worth the WaitAngry at God?On being [...]

  11. [...] of Francis Collins new appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health as well as Jerry Coyne’s criticisms of Collins. Well now Ken Miller has written a response, where he essentially accuses those opposed to [...]

  12. [...] impulse—common among Christian newcomers to religious studies but also considered by some to be found in higher places—to be “je-changin’ the rules” in the workplaces of scientific and [...]

  13. [...] a comment » In thinking about biologist Jerry Coyne’s recent forays into the realms of PZ Myers-like religion bashing, I can’t help but [...]

  14. [...] est étonnant que la John Templeton Foundation, qui compte dans ses écuries aussi bien Collins, Conway-Morris, Miller et Staune, deux darwinistes et deux qui ne le sont pas donc, et qui a [...]

  15. [...] of the news means that prominent online Collins critics, such as University of Chicago’s Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers of the University of Minnesota, Morris, have yet to post a response as of press time, [...]

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