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Censorship Science

Censored Religious Debate Video Released After Public Outrage 717

First time accepted submitter tkel writes "On October 12, 2011 Theologian John Haught publicly debated prominent evolutionary scientist and atheist Jerry Coyne at the University of Kentucky. Although both agreed to a videotaping of the event, Haught later prohibited its release because he felt he had been treated unfairly. Coyne released blog posts addressing the matter as an offense to free speech. Reviewing their new status in the blogosphere, Haught and his associates at the University of Kentucky have decided to release the video."

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Censored Religious Debate Video Released After Public Outrage

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  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:02AM (#37930728) Journal
    ..and one giant win for science.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:04AM (#37930736) Homepage
    ...but debating these people only give them credibility they do not deserve. The people who believe in creationism will never be swayed away from it, because their reasons for believing in it it are not the same as ours are for believing evolution. It is not out of an attempt to explain nature and the universe, but an egotistical need to be above it. Being descended from primates is offensive to them because they see the sum of humanity as being a jumble of biological components, rather than our arts and sciences. No wonder: religion has usually opposed arts and sciences until they gained enough traction to threaten the religion itself should it resist further.

    It's time for religion to be closed out from the scientific debate altogether. "Faith" has no place in a field based on empirical evidence and doubt. Creationism doesn't even deserve a title as a discredited theory, it belongs with mythology like Atlantis and elves, and should rightly be laughed at with impunity.
  • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:27AM (#37930852)

    Is always good to see occasions where the saying "have you ever noticed that the less someone knows, the louder they know it?" is shown to not always be true, that sometimes, the knowledgeable can be noisy too :-)

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:28AM (#37930860) Homepage
    Well, that's what I get for not RTFA'ing. However, had I, the same argument can be adapted to gems such as (quoting from Wikipedia because I am lazy at the moment):

    "He also testified that materialism, the philosophy that only matter exists, is "a belief system, no less a belief system than is intelligent design."

    A statement like that shows that you can take the creationism out of the creationist, but not the mindset that led to it. If anything, he is smart enough not to adopt the most easily disproved position, in favor of sneakier ones like "you can't prove religion is false so our positions as just as valid." Of course, again this is me going off Wikipedia having not watched the rather long video yet. He might be a fine and reasonable man... yet something tells me that isn't to be expected.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:29AM (#37930862) Homepage
    The only way to negotiate facts is to supply better facts.
  • Streisand Effect (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ebs16 ( 1069862 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:35AM (#37930904)
    "Censored Religious Debate Video Released After Public Outrage"..... to an audience 20x larger than would otherwise be present.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:35AM (#37930906) Homepage
    I agree, but there is a point where it becomes demeaning; I am not sure how much it is accomplishing. Everyone who watches debates only sees their pre-existing positions winning, which doesn't necessarily do anything productive. Maybe we need more comedians to take up the job. If there is one thing that can shake a belief system, it is feeling that others view it as absurd. Religion provides many excuses like "they're working for the devil," "they hate god," etc; but all of those are too serious to apply to simply being made an ass of in front of an audience. Too bad there is only one Stephen Fry.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:49AM (#37931000) Homepage
    Kind of in the same manner as vestigial organs, what always kind of made me wonder was why we need men and women if humans are designed in God's image. Strictly speaking, we should reproduce by agamogenesis. Unless there is something the bible isn't telling us... it does seem fairly insistent that God is a "he" in ever version I saw. oh well, I get fridge logic from religion. At least it has a better ending than lost.

    As far as agnostic, I think the term is kind of useless. I don't think anyone takes the position that there is definitely no god (even people like me who love to attack the idea of god existing). There is a very high probability, I would say, that something of some form exists outside of what we consider the universe; if only because the current definition is narrowed mostly to what we are sure exists. However, going by the concept of belief requiring proof, not knowing something exists is essentially the same as it not existing. It is always possible to be wrong if you say something doesn't exist and at some point it turns out to, but the two positions are for all practical purposes identical until that happens. But I digress into epistemology... .
  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:50AM (#37931006)
    Your position would look better if you at least tried to understand the scientific method before trying to wail on it. As you clearly don't, you just come off like an ignorant religious twat who can't stand to think of their chosen delusion as specious. Hubris at its finest. It must be upsetting for God to see the brain he gave you going to such ridiculous waste. Not that I believe in God. But you do.
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:56AM (#37931048) Journal


    Here's the difference:
    Questioning faith: Discouraged. Sometimes even punished.
    Questioning theories: Encouraged, by design.

    Now: which do you think is the better system?

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:09AM (#37931092) Homepage

    Careful, you sound like you may fit in well with the eminent scientists who back in the day dismissed a roman catholic priest's "hypothesis of the primeval atom". Dismissing it because (1) it came from a priest and (2) it "smelled of creationism". Today we know this theory by a phrase used by these scientists to mock the hypothesis, "the big bang theory". Men of science are not above letting their personal biases and social/group norms interfere with their objectivity.

    And yet, it is now a part of the canon of science, in spite of that. I'm still wondering when major religions will not just stop questioning, but actually declare a part of their religion, things like evolution and quantum mechanics. It seems the closest they can get is dragged by public outcry into making some sort of declaration not to talk about it anymore. Point being, science might have some bias, and doesn't everything, but it definitely overcomes it faster.

    In the end, it is what you say, not who you are, that matters. The problem I have is when people who have avowed beliefs not backed by any form of evidence begin to make claims involving them. Want to be a creationist christian and a chemist? Sure, why not. But don't act as if I am small-minded if I am more suspicious of him than of others when the same person goes into biology and begins making findings that he claims undermine evolution. Further, I am entirely within my right to laugh at every "theologian," preacher, or priest which declares he knows better than science, yet refuses to provide evidence, or says religion is on the same level as science.

    "Many religious people and some churches believe that belief in god may require faith but that understanding god's creation is done through science. That includes both the evolution the universe and the evolution of life."

    Which is all fine and good, but that doesn't give them the right to attempt to dictate what is science, should it offend them at some point. I am aware of churches that are quite admittedly progressive, but thank you, I'll still take the word of actual scientists on matters of science.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:14AM (#37931108)

    Clearly, since they made that mistake of believing in a god in the first place...

  • by toQDuj ( 806112 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:16AM (#37931126) Homepage Journal

    Ok, a quick analysis of your arguments and some counterarguments per paragraph.
    par. 1: You state that Christianity=love&peace, and that no-one should hate love and peace. But the one does not require the other, as there can be love and peace without Christianity.

    par. 2: You state that Christianity and science are not in conflict. There are two counterarguments: Christianity is inherently anti-scientific in its nature, as it is a belief in something without evidence. Thus, Christianity trains unscientific thought patterns. Second argument is that in politics, Christianity is used as an argument to hinder science. So Christianity and science are in conflict.

    par. 3: You state that you should believe in god without any evidence. That there is no way of showing god exists, certainly not in a statistically measurable way. So if god does not influence our lives in the slightest, why believe at all?

    par. 4: This paragraph is a bit of a jumble. You state here that love and peace are unattainable on earth, thus conflicting with par. 1. Besides that, it is stated that god died on the cross, but instead it was his son as you should be well aware, or you are considering your god as three gods, the real one, Jezus and the holy spirit. Lastly you state that god does not intervene where we would consider it possible or beneficial. This, again, raises the question of his existence, and my counterargument of: if he does not influence our lives, why believe at all.


  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:21AM (#37931154)

    No, you are pretty close. His basic idea is "I believe in all the science you can throw at me, but that still doesn't disprove God". And though he somehow thinks that makes him different, to a real scientist it's not much different from "do you believe in Odin or does Zeus sound more believable?"

  • I am uncertain if this is just a terrific trolling attempt or if you're really serious.

    I can tell you for a fact that God loves you :) God wants us all to live together in love and peace.

    I've never understood why is it so important for so many Christians that they feel there is 24/7 someone loving them. Is it insecurity? Would you be depressed if there wasn't? I am genuinely curious about this.

    There are a lot of people who spaz out at the mention of Christianity being good for society, but what is wrong with love and peace?

    Christianity is far from "love and peace", take for example the crusades: Christians killed MILLIONS of people just because they didn't share the same religion. And not only killed, but tortured, raped, pillaged, took all belongings of even those they let live and enslaved them. Now, where is "love and peace" about that? Or in modern times, how many times have you heard about Christians spewing hatred and bile about all the "non-conforming" people, like us non-heterosexuals for example? There are plenty of examples where homosexuals have been tortured and killed by the religious, even in modern-day society. Hell, _I_ have had people literally come up to my door and start chastising me about how my ways are horrible, vile and I only corrupt everyone and everything around me with them and how I will go to hell and whatnot; I sure as heck do not go to strangers' doors and start judging their views and tastes, so what the hell gives Christians the right to do that?!

    "Love and peace" my ass; it's all about CONTROL.

    People also get bent out of shape that they can't use science to prove God exists. Why should you be able to create a scientific experiment that could repetitively force the hand of God? That simply doesn't make sense. If God always did the same thing in the same situation, how is God any different than one of the cosmic laws he's made? You cannot reduce God into god-in-the-box, and you shouldn't be able to. Scripture even says you will not find God through worldly wisdom, but only through preaching.

    That is exactly the logic fallacy of it all: you can just claim absolutely ANYTHING as "God's will", and that's that.

    God is the only being in reality that can bring people to Heaven where there is peace, love, joy, and no suffering forever.

    That is another example of a fallacy: human beings evaluate their environment and themselves through conflict. We NEED negative things to happen to us so we can appreciate the positive things. Without negative things we would not be able to appreciate the positive ones. If you never experience anything even mildly displeasing in your life you will simply become inherently bored as whatever you have will feel like nothing. So, in Heaven if there are only positive things and never EVER any kind of conflict then it cannot be a Heaven, atleast not for human beings. It is an oxymoron.

    No other being can prevent infinite suffering besides God himself, so why would you want to judge his methods? He himself did not shy away from suffering himself, but died on the cross, proving how much he loves you.

    Bible actually teaches that God and Jesus are two totally separate entities and that it is blasphemy to call Jesus a God. Perhaps you need some soul searching to be done.

  • What happens to people who don't know about Jesus? For example, anyone born before Jesus or raised without knowledge of him? Do they still get into Heaven when they die? Or do they go elsewhere?

    I've also wondered about this and I've even asked some priests and theologists about it, and the most common answer is that they still don't get to Heaven. Now, when I then follow with the question "So basically God doesn't even give them people a chance to get into Heaven, they're doomed to go to Hell already way before they're even born into this world?" their answers usually just fall flat on their faces. Then the people who say those people will get to Heaven as they are innocent of the condition of not knowing about God don't know what to answer when I ask them the question: "Why do you people then even tell others about God? If you never went out to teach about God we'd all get to Heaven, whereas by telling them about God you're deliberately exposing them to Hell."

  • by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:57AM (#37931324) Homepage Journal

    If a creator independently designed each organism, then lots of stuff that shouldn't be there somehow made it into the finished product.

    So? Perhaps God did it for amusement, perhaps he's artistically inclined. Look at the average painter's paintings (and the stuff the doesn't even like himself and destroys/hides), does he produce useful or aesthetically perfect paintings? How can flaws in nature be an argument against creationism any more than they can be used against evolution theory, when evolution supposedly optimizes away flawed designs in the long run?
    (before you ask, I'm an atheist/agnostic, but I find it pointless to even debate particular ideas of people suffering from a popular form of mass psychosis)

  • by pentadecagon ( 1926186 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:09AM (#37931384)

    Coyne is unreasonable ...

    And here this is a good thing, because you cannot reason with religious believers. This is why those guys usually have a big advantage: They are not bound by logic or reason, they can say the most crazy things and their followers swallow it dutifully. The only way to argue against them is to make fun of them. Which is what Coyne did.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:28AM (#37931460) Homepage Journal

    What we have here is a false dichotomy. Many folks with religious beliefs merely believe that some things that aren't explained by science might be the hand of God, which is subtly but significantly different from the position you describe. Such an attitude does not mean that we should not use science to learn what we can, but rather shows a humble acceptance that some truths may be fundamentally impossible to grasp from within the confines of our universe. They would argue that we may never be able to explain why certain laws of the universe are true, but that does not mean that we should stop trying, as the more we learn about the universe, the more we inevitably learn about its creator.

    The lazy use God as an excuse to stop trying. The true believers use God as a reason to do so. That's why throughout history, a fair amount of scientific discovery has been done by the Church and the faithful, from Copernicus to Mendel. Heck, even Sir Francis Bacon—to many, the founder of modern science—was religious.

    While we're at it, let's add a few more to that list. Kepler, Galilei, Descartes, Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Kelvin, Planck, Einstein—you know, all those people who were so important to science that we named measurements, laws, or cages after most of them—all held some belief in a higher power, creator, or similar. Yet no sane person could claim that their impact on modern science was anything less than amazing and groundbreaking.

    The fundamentalist-atheist claim that religion and science are fundamentally at odds is no less a religious belief than traditional theistic religions, and more to the point, is an utterly arrogant belief that effectively spits on the countless contributions of the religious to the very foundations of science as we know it today. And although it is held with the same arrogant religious fervor as the beliefs of the most devout faithful, it is a comically naïve belief built on nothing more solid than smugness and the believer's own desire to feel superior to someone else, usually to make themselves feel less inferior. Frankly, whenever I see such rubbish, it almost makes me ashamed of the human race as a whole.

    As Einstein put it, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Claims to the contrary demand extraordinary proof.

  • by pentadecagon ( 1926186 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:36AM (#37931498)
    As I said, religion is arbitrary, you can claim whatever you want, so it is easy to come up with more arguments. But those arbitrary arguments are certainly not reasonable.
  • Wtf Slashdot... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xyourfacekillerx ( 939258 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:51AM (#37931562)
    Nothing Coyne said had anything to do with science, reason or argument. He just made a big rant online with zero intellectual content whatsoever. He even cites the fact Slashdot featured his retarded rant as evidence he "won" the argument. Won the debate? So being featured on slashdot proves God doesn't exist? Seriously editors, what is this stupidity you're posting?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:52AM (#37931566)

    I see that the situation in US is difficult, when you have to fight such fights. But the result as I see it, is not win, but loose for all. Faith is not a tool to study physics and geology and vice versa. If you managed to have a contradiction between the two very complementary objects, you have already lost the possibility to get the best from both at a time.

  • by xyourfacekillerx ( 939258 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @04:55AM (#37931580)

    ..and one giant win for science.

    Right. Because Coyne's "win for science" advanced it so much in so many valuable ways for mankind. What a hallmark in human civilization development this was! AND - AND the best part has to be the repeatable experiments he demonstrated for the audience to prove his points.

  • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:05AM (#37931610)

    No, that's not it at all. It's the fundamentalist Christians (and at times, Catholics) that are out of hand. Fundamentalist atheists are just a reaction against them.

    Tell a Hindu that the Earth doesn't sit on a turtle. They'll either laugh, or get offended that you stereotype them as a superstitious savage. Tell a Christian that the world is over a billion years old, and they will tell you that scientists only say that to get funding.

    The scientific method *did* benefit from the immense skepticism against new discoveries. Arguing with Jesuits did have some benefit. But only once science started to get the upper hand. Before that point, we had the Dark Ages.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:18AM (#37931670) Homepage Journal

    Creationists also have a hard time talking their way around the massive problems with Noah's flood: []

    Really? You need a page to explain it? I always thought it'd be a ton easier:

    Look: Noah took in all the animals. Let's just accept that point. But what about all the plants? Not many of the plants we have around today would survive 40 days submerged. So either they evolved after the flood (say hi to evolution) or the bible forgets to mention a second creation (the holy book incomplete?) or it's all a big pile of nonsense.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:21AM (#37931690) Journal

    Many modern atheists have bad theology. They think: How does an all powerful and good God let bad things happen?

    No, generally not. This isn't a question that we struggle with, or wonder about. It's like asking if Alice is going to go to the store tomorrow. If I don't believe that Alice exists, then I won't ask her to pick anything up for me, and so if Alice is presumed to be going to the store or not is completely irrelevant to me. However, the question is interesting to believers, and that's why we bring it up in debates with believers.

    It's not even like we invented the question, Christians came up with it themselves. "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" It's been asked longer than before the Book of Job was written. Except now there is an alternative answer to creation. Even if one of the people in the age of the Founding Fathers of the USA were to not believe in Christianity, there still wasn't any good explanation for the origin of life. They believed in a "Creator" because there just wasn't a better answer available to them.

    But now we have no need for the hypothesis of a god. So, really now the situation becomes one of pure personal opinion. God/Religion is the why, and Science is the how. The problem is that there are still people out there asserting that God/Religion is the how, and that their holy scriptures are the infallible word of a deity.

    So, in short, atheists don't have "bad theology", they don't have to deal with theology at all. Beyond simple, "there are in all likelihood no gods." We bring up these horribly difficult questions of theology, because you theists have been struggling with them for centuries, and the more we can get people to ponder them, and see the most rational explanation accounting for the apparent absence of any deity at all... the more converts we win.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:43AM (#37931784) Homepage Journal

    So, what I'm understanding you to say, is that your wild-ass GUESS about the origin of man is better than someone else's wild-ass GUESS, just because they may believe that the Flying Spagetti Monster or some other Deity is responsible for creating us?

    No, because the evidence we have available supports our "guess", and thoroughly debunks the religious one.

    It's a guess at first. You always start out with a guess. Say you and I don't know what the weather is like in Norway today. We both make a guess. Now we part ways. Religion starts to write a book about it, explaining why the weather is as it guessed it is, and burning everyone who says otherwise. Science, on the other hand, tries to find out whether or not the guess is right. Assume we can't get to Norway within a day, so we can never find out for sure what the weather was. But we can go there and see what the weather is tomorrow. And ask the people who live there. And check the ground for signs of recent rain or snow. We can gather all kinds of evidence that either supports or refutes our initial guess. Using that, we may modify our initial "guess". It now becomes what scientists call a "theory". The more our evidence converges, the stronger our theory gets. If the ground is dry, locals are saying it has been sunny all week, it is sunny today - it becomes very, very likely that it was indeed sunny on the day in question.

    Problem is, both sides have no PROOF of their position.

    See above. Your request of absolute proof borders on the psychotic. We regularily send people to prison for life based on evidence, not proof. A lot of conclusive evidence all pointing to the same result is very often as close to proof as we can get in the real world.

    Yes, both sides do not have 100% proof. But one side has a mountain of evidence on their side, and the other has a badly written book of folk-tales.

    someone will find a bone fragment (not even a whole bone), yet conceptually render what that person looked like.

    It's called inference. It's a perfectly normal process. In fact, you do it yourself every day. You see a small part of a human body, say a leg under a table, and you assume that there's a whole body attached to it. Scientists do the same, just a lot more complicated. But we have enough knowledge about anatomy to be able to make those "guesses". For example, if you have a leg, you can usually assume that there's at least a second leg and that it looks a lot alike, because almost all the animals we know work that way.

    Either way, there is no scientific PROOF as you are requiring, and in my opinion, all there will ever be are Wild-Ass Guesses. Then again, maybe the FSM will show itself tomorrow, and prove that we're all descended from bees.

    No, we know that it's not bees. The FSM didn't have a license for winged flight.

    Look, you have an extremist binary definition of proof. You ignore that the real world isn't binary, that proof is just the name we use for conclusive evidence, and that not every guess is a "wild-ass" guess. There are different qualities of guesses. If we both were to guess about where exactly Barack Obama is at this very moment, a guess of "in his bed" would be a likely guess at this time, while a guess of "on a small moon orbiting one of the planets of Betelgeuse" would be a very unlikely guess. The point being that not all guesses are equal.

    It's a stupid trick. "You have no proof, so your guess is as good as mine! Nanana". Sorry, no. Obama may not actually in bed right now, but the two guesses are not equally likely.

  • by JackDW ( 904211 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:48AM (#37931802) Homepage

    Well, yes. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this incident was the way that so many people automatically jumped to a wrong conclusion, without even considering that there might be another side to the story. In the last Slashdot discussion, nobody asked what Haught's opinion was. Nobody cared. They just assumed that the nasty creationist theologian had lost the debate and was trying to censor the result, which is a shameful conclusion to jump to.

  • by bentcd ( 690786 ) <> on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:51AM (#37931814) Homepage

    The one you want to be quoting in this debate would be Thomas Aquinas who, ~800 years ago, defined a set of rules that would allow Christianity and scientific inquiry to happily coexist. Which, apart from the odd extremist, they have been doing ever since.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @05:52AM (#37931818)

    I saw the video and I must recall my previous post. I see no science in Coyne's part, this is Michel Moore's 'science'. E.g. you never can draw conclusions on "A truth" from some poll difference between population and scientists in US (the picture can be completely opposite in some states in EU btw). E.g. he treats the article from Nature like religious truth --- science is great because it doesnt afraid of failure - ANY theory can be falsified by new findings and everybody must be happy of it, because it is a pure gain. Superluminous neutrino ? if yes, it is not a shame for articles in Nature, it is a big leap forward.... Very big loss for science, if somebody uses its name to backup his hates. As he said, he did, this was a destructive monologue and other scientists look like idiots now.

  • by Lexical_Scope ( 578133 ) <dave.one40db@com> on Thursday November 03, 2011 @06:19AM (#37931938)

    Although I'm sure many of the listed scientific luminaries were fully sincere in their faith, it's worth noting that it's only very recently that Atheism as a concept, let alone a life choice, came about. It would never have occurred to a number of these scientists that non-belief was even an option.

    It is through their work however that our knowledge of the universe has grown to a degree where belief in a deity IS strictly optional and the number of serious scientists who profess faith in a Creator has diminished accordingly.

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @07:17AM (#37932198)

    Tell a Christian that the world is over a billion years old, and they will tell you that scientists only say that to get funding.

    I know some Christians online who would react as you describe, but tell any of the Christians I know personally that the world is over a billion years old and they will say "Yes, I know".

  • Re:Wtf Slashdot... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tenchikaibyaku ( 1847212 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @07:42AM (#37932274)
    Eh, what the hell? You are complaining that his "rant" posted online isn't intellectual? Why would his rant need to be more intellectual than a simple statement of facts regarding the censorship (I use the term loosely here) of the video? And can you point me to where he ever makes the claim that being posted on slashdot proves that he won the debate?

    Based on your comment I don't think you've bothered to read more than a few random words of these stories and the associated blog posts.
  • by Evil Pete ( 73279 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:02AM (#37932396) Homepage

    I watched the video and I want my hour back. I thought I was going to get a Creationist being roasted but instead got a reasonable sounding theologian being attacked somewhat irrationally by Coyne. Coyne mentions stuff like the belief in angels etc ... what? Haught wasn't talking about any of that stuff. I think Coyne wrote his talk wanting to counter Creationism irregardless of its relevance to the actual talk. Lame. I thought Haught made reasonable (but sadly incorrect) arguments.

    I thought most of what Coyne said was obvious and he went on and on and overdid it. He was wrong about the necessity of having to talk fast etc. Gees.

    I was going to say more but have decided it is a waste of time.

  • by whoop ( 194 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:41AM (#37932762) Homepage

    Now, now, there's no need for facts on this site. All religions are creationists, all smart people that matter on the internet are evolutionists. You cannot debate unreasonable people because they are just wrong.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @09:03AM (#37933068)

    Does science answer the question, "what is the purpose of the universe?"

    Why does it even need one? Why does there have to be purpose at all? What is the purpose of a volcano? Not it's function, we all know what a volcano does and what it is a reaction to, but what is it's purpose? Purpose assumes some weird sort of sentience, an ambition or drive that exists beyond the physical: "A volcano's purpose is to prevent buildup of pressure in the Earth's crust." That's ridiculous, obviously, a volcano is caused by these things, it has no purpose, there is no 'meaning' in a volcano, it is what it is. We can study volcanoes, and we can predict how they will behave, but it is purely scientific...

    What is the 'purpose' of anything? What is the purpose of a rock? What is the purpose of oxygen? What is the purpose of the planet Mars? What is the purpose of heat rising? What is the purpose of snow? There's no purpose in any of these things, they are natural reactions based on the physical laws of the universe, laws which we are just barely beginning to understand, but laws nonetheless. The fact that ice floats doesn't have some grand cosmological 'purpose', but it sure is handy, and convenient to the development of life. However, that doesn't imbibe it with some sense of purpose, it's just a natural reaction to the fact that water ice is less dense than liquid water.

    There's nothing wrong with drawing a big question mark on the things we don't yet understand. I have no idea why so many people are so afraid of that question mark that they need to fill in the blanks with some magical, intangible cosmic being...

  • by inasity_rules ( 1110095 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @09:23AM (#37933350) Journal

    I'm also a Christian. (And not worried about karma... :) ) I came here for the tech news and got sucked into the wars... (Vi rules! Windows Sucks!)

    But I would disagree with you, while I am not a deist, I do believe that the workings of the universe can be completely explained by science, down to the spooky stuff in Quantum Physics. If God is God, he is God of that too, but I don't think we ever need to look for a gap for God to fill in science. That to me diminishes God to nothing more than a cop out.

  • by DG ( 989 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @09:28AM (#37933408) Homepage Journal

    Posts like these reveal the latest tactic in the religious fundamentalist PYSOPS campaign - the attempt to cast "science" (which is a process) as a "belief system" or "religion" and thus either elevating their religion to the same level as science or pulling science down to their level (whichever view you prefer)

    Sometimes, the reveal is the use of the new portmanteau "sciencism" but other times - like in this case - it is more baldly stated.

    The ironic thing is that I think this particular theme is meant as much in defence as it is offense; most religious fundies give each other a degree of professional courtesy and refrain from directly attacking each other's dogmas - you don't often see Bible Belters railing against Buddists. Perhaps they hope that if they can recast science as a belief system, science will extend that "professional courtesy" to them and leave them the hell alone.

    Sadly, they are tilting at windmills; "science" does not care one whit about religious dogma. It's not even on the radar. What science "cares" about is the propogation of knowlege teased out through experiment. If religion contradicts this, science - quite rightly - seeks to correct the error (the same way science seeks to eliminate error from science).

    If science winds up systemically dismembering religious dogmas, well, so much the worse for religion - but it isn't PURPOSEFUL.

    The problem with religion is that it has made claims about the workings of the universe which are demonstratively, testably, and predictively FALSE - and they are still, after centuries of Enlightenment, still not equipped to deal with it.

    So nice try - but we're on to this tactic too.


  • by Raenex ( 947668 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @10:38AM (#37934510)

    I'm a staunch atheist, but the letter reads to me like Haught had some valid criticisms. In particular, the list of "evils" associated religion. You could easily come up with such a list for science. It's not pertinent to a debate on the compatibility of religion and science.

    It'll be interesting to see the video. I'm glad Haught changed his mind, and I give him credit for that.

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:16AM (#37935084)

    I thought I was going to get a Creationist being roasted but instead got a reasonable sounding theologian being attacked somewhat irrationally by Coyne.

    If you read the exchange between Coyne on his blog and Haught in the comments (comment 122 i think), you get the same impression. Haught says that the attacks and irrationality are why he did not want to release the video.

    But Slashdot scores a win here, as it can drop the word "censorship" and "religion" and out come all the militant athiests to ridicule the idiot theologians. Its a win for them, because they KNOW people cant help starting a flamewar when theres an opportunity to attack religion. I mean, how many people in this very discussion actually READ Coyne's post, and Haught's response? Or watched the video? Or even asked themselves if there was any side of the story other than Coynes? No, 80% of the posters here have an axe to grind, rationality be damned.

  • by LateArthurDent ( 1403947 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:49AM (#37935678)

    I'm a Christian. There, I said it. I've been hanging out on Slashdot for over 10 years. And I'm a Christian.

    Heh. So what? The majority of slashdot readers are christians. There's a higher percentage of atheists here, but that's because there's a higher percentage of atheists among techies. That's still not a majority, you're just more likely to come across them on slashdot and get a reply.

    I am a degreed engineer from one of the top private engineering schools in the country. I watch sci-fi. A lot. I believe in Evolution.


    I don't think humans evolved from pond scum OR monkeys.

    What does that mean? You're commenting on how pond scum and monkeys are bad terms for the organic material in primordial earth and our primate ancestors? Or are you saying we don't come from those things? If you're saying we didn't evolve from these things, what did we evolve from? I mean, you believe in evolution, so you believe we evolved, right? Or did everything else evolve, and just not humans. Dude, that was confusing.

    I believe in God. I believe he is on our side and is in favor of us. I believe God made the universe.

    That's your prerogative, it's fine. I don't have a beef with that.

    I believe in the Bible.

    Literally? Because we have scientific evidence that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt the Bible is not literally true. If you want to believe they are allegories, you are free to believe that. If you want to believe in the literal creation story, the flood, and all that....well, you're being intellectually dishonest with yourself by ignoring evidence that goes against your beliefs.

    I know strict interpretation of the Bible says the earth is 6000 years old. I wasn't there then, I'm not going to argue about it.

    There are other dating methods, you don't need to be there. It's like watching one of the sci-fi movies you like and going, "they say they used cgi for the special effects, but I wasn't there for the filming. I'm not going to argue whether this is real or not."

    As a Christian, an Engineer and a Technologist I point to the spooky stuff in Quantum Physics as an olive branch between the two camps.

    "I don't understand Quantum Physics, so I think God has something to do with it." Pointing out things you don't understand doesn't prove it can't be understood. Same goes for things nobody understands. We understand a whole lot more about the universe now than we did 200 years ago, and we'll understand a whole lot more 200 years from now.

    There is a God, and we don't understand enough things yet to make science agree with that.

    If you want to take the existence of God as an axiom, you are completely free to do so. Just understand that you've done that. You've made a choice and said, "I believe God exists no matter what. I take it on faith that it's true." This prevents you from using stupid arguments trying to prove the existence of God, and it prevents others from trying to use stupid arguments to try to prove God doesn't exist. It's an unfalsifiable concept, it's not the realm of science. Always believe on evidence first. For everything else, you can have faith or not. Just don't try to force the rest of us to share your faith, and we'll get along fine. If anyone tries to force their lack of faith on you, I'll side with you on that. Even if I don't share your faith, I believe you have the right to lead the life you want according to the principles you hold dear.

  • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:51AM (#37935718) Homepage

    The important thing is that it is released. Now we can all watch and decide for ourselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:37PM (#37937516)

    Upon reading your post, I would classify you as agnostic, not atheist. At the risk of oversimplifying, I'd say agnosticism is usually a more principled stance; it inherently acknowledges that any intelligent actor can be mistaken or misled. Atheism, in its most strident form, is entirely faith-based; and in its more scientifically and philosophically defensible forms atheism tends to be difficult to distinguish from agnosticism or pantheism.

    There are several religions that accept agnostic congregants, but the only explicitly agnostic religion I know of is one of the smaller Hindu sects. There are several atheist religions - the most interesting one is probably Jainism, which holds that any being that we would perceive as God is merely an extremely advanced person. Jains believe that they can perfect themselves morally, psychologically and philosophically and become as gods themselves. Jainism is much older than Christianity and still a vibrant living religious tradition, incidentally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:46PM (#37937670)

    I honestly could use some help with understanding why "science" isn't a belief system.

    Because it's actually a knowledge system. There is a big difference.

    No, the knowledge attained scientifically is not perfect and it's not transmitted between people without error, but it is extremely solid nonetheless, especially when compared to myth, hearsay, fable, rhetoric and dogma - some of the alternative methods for distributing mental models of the world.

    Scientists, journal editors, and academic administrators may care about what you believe, but science itself doesn't care one whit. Which is as it should be. Beliefs may change but its hard-won body of knowledge accumulated over the last few hundred years stands on its own.

  • by jaqen ( 928157 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:06PM (#37937986)
    What you’re describing is belief that human reasoning is correct. But that’s not “belief” in the religious/spiritual sense. Not to me. Religious belief is faith that something that can't be proven is true. Science is a method of showing how something can be proven to be true. Just because you “believe” what someone else has proven, doesn’t make science belief-based—it makes you lazy at worst, or reliant on your fellow humans to do the hard work at best. You take Science’s word that evolution happens because you can't be bothered to test it out yourself. That doesn't mean you couldn't if you wanted to. That doesn't mean every person in the world couldn't do it if they wanted to. Religion is a belief because *no human* can prove that any tenet is true. *Everyone* has to take it on faith. There is not one human who has ever lived who could prove that God/gods exist, nor show how any other human could verify that existence for himself. That's what faith means. The only thing you have to “believe” is that your experience of life follows predictable patterns of cause & effect. If you “believe” in that, then Science is just an elaborate extension (and rigorous testing) of that.
  • by DG ( 989 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:14PM (#37938988) Homepage Journal

    All excellent points.

    But on top of that, for any given set of scientific "beliefs", you have the ability to personally replicate the experiment and see the results for yourself. While science says "trust me", it also expects (and, in fact, RELIES UPON) that some people will NOT trust, and insist on replicating and verifying the results.

    No dogmatic religion permits this. Nobody is expected or allowed to attempt a virgin birth, to change water into wine, raise the dead etc etc etc.

    Science encourages questions. Religion discourages it. That, to me, is THE key difference.


  • by DG ( 989 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:55PM (#37939628) Homepage Journal

    Before I start, allow me to express my deepest condolences on the passing of your wife. And I really, truly, mean that.

    My assumption is that, given that you have broached this subject, that you are recovered enough from that loss to discuss it.

    There are four possibilities:

    1. Through some biological mechansim not currently understood (but understandable, once discovered and studied) your wife was subconciously aware that something was profoundly wrong, and it manifested itself as fear;

    2. Your wife's fear was irrational, but, thorugh a mechanism not currently understood (but also potentially understandable) that fear directly caused the embolism. There are cases of demonstrated "mind over matter" (the Placebo Effect is very real, and currently not understood) so this is actually possible;

    3. Your wife's fear and her sudden passing are completely unrealated and utter coincidence; or

    4. Some invisible, "divine" presence was warning your wife of her impending demise (and yet - I'm trying not to be harsh here - did nothing to prevent it)

    Three of those explainations are plausible and require no supernatural influence. One requires both supernatural influence and, I would argue, inhuman cruelty.

    I clearly cannot say which, if any, of these scenarios are "the truth". But I hope for all of humanity that #4 isn't it.

    And again, you have my sympathies. I would not wish what you have gone through on my worst enemy.


"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb