The Argument from Pandas

Sarah Silverman is apparently questioning her atheism on her Facebook page:

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 9.18.32 PM

Silverman, is, of course, an iconic figure for many atheists, and is followed on Twi**er by both Dan Dennett and Sam Harris! I don’t follow anyone, but my Facebook page gets updates from her public page.

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77 Comments

  1. Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Yes, but the Panda has a thumb, no? Checkmate!

    b&

  2. Daoud
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Well yeah. I can’t ignore the panda argument.

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I always have thought of her as a bit manic. I like some of her shtick but she often takes it too far. I guess having few limits is natural for a comedian/comedienne.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Irony?

  4. moleatthecounter
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    We shouldn’t panda to the religious at all.

    • Merilee
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      + 1

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Nice!

    • mordacious1
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I hope that no one is seriously bamboo-zled by the “Panda Argument”.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        :D

        • Alex
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 2:14 am | Permalink

          I remain unconvinced. This is at best an argument for puntheism.

  5. Tulse
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    God must be a real jerk to give pandas a single source of food. If they could eat stuff other than bamboo they probably wouldn’t be endangered.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      ‘Jim Jefferies On Religion Horrible Blasphemy Panda …’ [You Tube] explains much more about the panda than maybe you would ever want to know. (Definitely not safe for any work)

  6. moarscienceplz
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see, pandas are teetering on the brink of extinction, and humans are working tirelessly to prevent that, but it may well be inevitable.
    Yep, I’m convinced. God exists!

    • Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I was hoping someone would point out the humans trying to save the panda.

  7. Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you’re all demonstrating an amazingly dry wit and I’ve missed it completely, but you do all know that Sarah Silverman is a comedian?

    You don’t think she’s being serious, surely?

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I am aware that she is a comedian and is almost certainly being facetious. I just chose this as an opportunity to emphasize that similar arguments for the existence of god are equally ridiculous.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      You don’t think she’s being serious, surely?

      It’s Sarah.

      Surely doesn’t even enter the picture.

      • Dan McPeek
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        My free will made me do it!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Who’s Shirley?

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Shirley MacLaine

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          Which one?

  8. Sastra
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The weird thing here is that a sarcastic bit of humor is actually one of the most popular arguments for God. The usual reference is to a flower, or sunsets … or babies. You’re suddenly supposed to feel like a child who has been given such a pretty, pretty present. Someone must love me! Who did this? Who gave this to me? The believer is so touchingly grateful that one must assume or even invent someone to be grateful towards. The Argument from Gratitude. The Argument from Let’s Make Ourselves Grateful.

    I have long had the dark suspicion that many religious people wouldn’t be able to tell atheism apart from apologetics if the tone and vocabulary sounded as if was applauding the idea of faith.

    I mean, consider Life of Pi. As I understand it, the basic theme is that “Religion isn’t true, but the stories are better: believe the better story.” And the religious apparently love this. “Oh, you have to read this book! It’s so spiritual!” It supports faith.

    Wtf?

  9. Posted March 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I think she’s been bamboozled …

    /@

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      I think your assertion is Poa-ly justified.

  10. Latverian Diplomat
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    What animals humans find cute is often related to attributes like shape of face and proportion of head size to body size that we also find cute in young humans. Finding our own young adorable has obvious reproductive advantages over finding them repugnant.

    So, pandas demonstrate evolution in this way too, not just with their “thumbs”. :-)

  11. ToddP
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “God is not a panda; he is cuteness itself.”

    -David Bentley Hart

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      Cute beyond human comprehension.

  12. Marella
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Considering the panda’s thumb, which is derived from a wrist bone not one of its fingers, the panda is a superb example of evolutionary kludges and great evidence for how evolution finds crazy ways of doing things that no intelligent designer would ever consider. But they are cute.

  13. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    This is terrible. An atheist makes one joke, and the whole atheosphere is thrown into… wait for it… pandamonium!

    I’ll leave now…

    • Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      That clearly demonstrates that the pandatheistic god really does deserve to be taken seriously!

      b&

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      :D I can’t believe I didn’t see that one coming.

      • Jesper Both Pedersen
        Posted March 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        You mean you bearly noticed it?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:10 am | Permalink

          Damn, I didn’t see that one either!

  14. ZLN
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Actually pandas are a pretty good argument against evolution. Here we have a carnivore with a short, inefficient digestive tract that eats almost exclusively tough, nutrition & energy-poor bamboo. They are also terrible at have sex & procreating. Very hard to imagine how such an animal could have evolved from natural selection. It is almost more plausible such an animal was created by a designer, not particularly intelligent perhaps, but one with a weakness for OMG sooooo Cute!

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      Actually pandas are a pretty good argument for evolution.
      Bears are omnivores and this one found itself in a meat poor, bamboo rich environment so it evolved to exist on that.
      Also, they don’t eat just bamboo, they eat mostly bamboo but won’t say no to a bit of protein if they can get it.

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    If it’s a carnivore why does it eat bamboo?

    (Or d’you mean descended from carnivores…?)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      Oh drat. That was of course a reply to ZLN’s post. :(

    • DaveH
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:51 am | Permalink

      Well, it is a member of the Carnivora. As I recall, the only obligate carnivores in the order are the seals/sealions and cats.

      • microraptor
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        And polar bears.

        • Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          Yes, but a coordinate transformation can turn them back into a-la-cartesian bears….

          b&

          • microraptor
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

            What if they’re bipolar bears?

            • Kevin Alexander
              Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              Then they’d have a Cartesian duality.

            • Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

              A depressing thought Im happy to say!

              /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

                That sadly delights me!

  16. kelskye
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    That image is strangely persuasive. I, for one, wouldn’t want to deprive a panda of the joy it clearly is expressing at the proposition.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      We sure that’s a real panda? It doesn’t have a little tab on its back saying “Hand wash only in warm soapy water” ? ;)

      • kelskye
        Posted March 25, 2014 at 3:50 am | Permalink

        No-one thinks it’s a literal panda, simply that it is analogous to a panda. You do a disservice to atheism by failing to address the real panda argument. And by real I mean analogous.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:27 am | Permalink

          So it’s an analogous panda expressing simulated joy. I see clearly now.

          I’m just raising the possibility that the metaphorical panda might hypothetically be a replica. A construct, if you will, embodying the essence of panda-ness.

          • kelskye
            Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            You take that back!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 26, 2014 at 2:27 am | Permalink

              I might, if I could figure out what I meant ;)

  17. Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    the argument from cuteness, what a lovely new theist argument.

    then of course there are eye worms. Golly there must be a god.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Don’t for get the tardigrades. Cute AND durable!

      • Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        heh. :) I really need a stuffed animal version of one. Hmmm, that might be a new project.

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          I designed a robotic tardigrade. It’s just like the real one in that it’s just an inflated bag in tardigrade shape with strings inside to move it.
          I didn’t think to give it fuzzy skin though. An eight legged bear! How many legs would a panda have to have before it stopped being cute?

          • Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

            I think cuteness dependent on number of legs depends on the type of legs. Scrabbly thin pointy ones, not cute. Nubby fuzzy legs, cute.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

              Yeah – legs terminate in fluff – cute. Legs terminate in pointy pinchers – not so much. I did think a bee’s feet looked kind of cute. Insect parts are creepier when the leg parts are used around the mouth.

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

                I’m not so sure about the fluffy legs theory….certain types of spiders aren’t cute despite their hairy legs.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

                Yeah but those are hairy not fluffy and they terminate in weird “feet”.

              • microraptor
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

                Jumping spiders are cute.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

                I think big spiders with hairy legs are cute… :)

          • Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            If one waterbear walks in the opposite direction to all the others, is it a retrograde tardigrade?

            /@

            PS. I see they are also called moss piglets. How cut is that?

            • Jesper Both Pedersen
              Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

              Tardigrade: A time-travelling device of Russian origin.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                :D

              • Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

                и ренегат доктор?

                /@

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

                И машина застряла в обратном!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

                и ренегат доктор?

              • Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

                да!

                /@

              • Posted March 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

                If that’s another _Who_ reference, you’ve lost me.

                /@

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

                I think it’s lost in translation….something about retrograde and a machine stuck in reverse.

                T’was a bit silly, really!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

                Tardis + grad (like Stalingrad, etc.)

              • Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                Oh, that I got!!!

                My comment was directed at Jesper.

                Replying by email, it’s not always clear you’ve hit the limit and need to make it clear what you’re responding to!

                /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, I figured that out after. The email thing has confounded me twice today.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

              I think the tardigrade that goes the opposite way is a renegade tardigrade but a tardigrade that wears clothes from the 80s is a retrograde tardigrade (yeah, the 80s are retro now – this makes me sad).

              They are also called water bears which is cute too but not as cute as moss piglet. It sounds like a character from Winnie the Pooh.

  18. Karaktur
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    From Jethro Tull, “He who made kittens, put snakes in the grass.”

  19. misskittex
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The Church does not want you to grow up:

  20. misskittex
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t this be the time to explain DNA and selection?


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