Quotes & Random Thoughts

General


  • "All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do." ~Johann Hari
  • "Belief should be proportional to evidence"~paraphrased from several
  • The burden of proof always falls on those making a positive claim.
  • "There is no society in history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable." ~Sam Harris
  • "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."~Upton Sinclair. I would add social standing and comfort to "salary."
  • "A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be." ~Albert Einstein
  • Unanswered questions are no reason to accept unquestioned answers.
  • Ignorance + Indocrination = Delusion; Delusion + Socio/Economic Factors= Resistance to Reality
  • "Delusion has three characteristics: 1) Certainty; 2) Resistance to change; 3) Implausibility." ~Peter Boghossian
  • "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." ~Confucius, Abraham Lincoln and others 
  • "I don't know. And I think that's a great way to end an interview. 'I don't know.' There's more that I don't know, than there is that I do know. ~Robert Anton Wilson
  • Skepticism is how to think, not what to think.
  • When asked what would be the first question he would ask an alien, Neil deGrasse Tyson answered "Do you accept claims without evidence?"  He continued that the answer would be an indication of how advanced they were. 

Religion/Apologetics 


    • Most intelligent, thoughtful people are skeptical in many, if not most, areas, but religion seems to get a pass. Why? In order to be consistently skeptical, you must look at everything the same way. If not, why not? 
    • Atheism is the result of skepticism for most atheists.
    • "Atheists have won the intellectual war but are still fighting the emotional and political wars" ~August Berkshire
    • "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."~Seneca, Roman philosopher
    • Being an atheist: "It's a lot like being the only sober person in a car full of drunk people and they refuse to pull over and let you drive." ~Elliot C. Myrick
    • Why is god so hidden?  After all, as recorded in the New Testament,  the contemporaries of Jesus believed in him via evidence, not faith.  Why should the rest of us believe via faith without evidence? 
    • "No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony is of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish" - David Hume
    • "If God wants us to do a thing, he should make his wishes sufficiently clear. Sensible people will wait till he has done this before paying much attention to him." – Samuel Butler
    • Science doesn’t know everything … religion doesn’t know ANYTHING. 
    • Scientists agree on so much and theists disagree on so many issues.  Which of these levels of agreement is more likely to reveal truth about reality?
    • "Tell me exactly what "knowledge" religion has provided that is not derivable from secular reason." ~Jerry Coyne
    • “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.” ~ Delos McKown
    • “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1; “Now science is the assurance of things that exist, hoped for or not—the conviction of things that are seen.” ~J. Coyne, Hebrew
    •  "A common argument for why religion and science are compatible is that there are scientists who believe in religion and religious people who believe in science.  It's like saying that Catholicism and pedophilia are compatible because there are a lot of Catholic priests who are pedophiles." ~Jerry Coyne
    • God will always find gaps in which to hide for those who reject what is probable and accept what is possible. 
    • "Religious apologists who try to argue that god exists using logic alone without producing a preponderance of evidence in its favor are not being scientific and have entered the evidence-free realm of theology, in which one starts with whatever one wants to believe and then manufactures reasons for believing in it, even if that same reasoning is not applied to any other sphere of life." ~Mano Singham
    •  "Atheists are very much like theists, except they believe in one less god"~paraphrased from several
    • "Atheism is to religion as bald is to hair color"~from several
    • Most theists are certain without evidence. Most atheists are uncertain but form beliefs based on probabilities from facts.
    • Communistic and fascist governments have been evil, not because of atheism, but because of pseudoreligious dogmatic authoritarianism.
    • "Apologists try to hide the fact that there is no elephant in the room with learned discussions about what color he paints his toenails." ~paraphrased from PZ Myers
    • Magicians make their living through sleight of hand; apologists make their living through slight of words. 
    •  Most apologists will accept science at least to some degree. Science strongly shows that the probability of a deity (and especially the Christian god) is quite low. Why won't apologists accept ALL of what science says about ALL topics? Could it be they would be left defenseless?
    • Science shows that the mind is very probably only the function of the brain without an independent "soul." 
    • Science shows that the concept of "Free Will" is probably an illusion. 
    • No studies have supported the existence of miracles. 
    • There is no evidence that prayer has any effect on natural occurrences.
    • What would make me a believer in a god? How about evidence of an amputated limb growing back as the result of prayer? After all, salamanders can do it. Does god love them more?
    • Apologists ask "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Why should we believe there ever was, or could be, "nothing?"  What is an example of "nothing?"
    • What is the immaterial?  Has it ever been seen?  How is it different than the theist concept of nothing?
    • Apologists ask "How could something come from nothing?"  Causation is applicable to the point of the Big Bang.  What is "before" that instant is only speculation.  To posit a god as the "cause" of the Big Bang is just making stuff up.  Physics and mathematics present some interesting ideas suggesting a "multiverse" as the cause of our universe.  The "multiverse" concept is at least as reasonable as a god and makes a god unnecessary.
    • "If reality is designed and purposeful, what would a reality that is random and meaningless look like?" ~paraphrased from several 
    • "Living and non-living structures change from simple to complex in nature (self-organization) and can give the appearance of design." ~Victor Stenger
    • "It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer.  But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth.  Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings" ~Steven Pinker
    • "Nature --- provides the basis of comparison by which we distinguish between designed objects and natural objects. We are able to infer the presence of design only to the extent that the characteristics of an object differ from natural characteristics. Therefore, to claim that nature as a whole was designed is to destroy the basis by which we differentiate between artifacts and natural objects." ~George H. Smith 
    • Apologists state that the universe is "fine tuned" for humans because the probability is very low that it occurred randomly.  One cannot talk about probability of anything in our universe happening until we know what all of the possibilities are. If our universe is larger that we think now, if our universe is infinite, if there are many multiverses and/or there are an infinite number of universes, then the chances of our world and everything in it increase significantly. Thus, presently, this argument of probability should not be used.
    • Personal experience is real only to the person. It is not evidence to others. Science (especially neuroscience and psychology) has studied religious experiences and can explain them through natural mechanisms.
    • Evidence from multiple branches of science, including the social sciences, supports the probability that man created god.
    • There is no evidence that scripture is a revelation from a god.
    • I know the supposed purpose of god coming as a man (Jesus) was to point the way to everlasting life, with the quality of life on earth not a major concern.  However, if scripture is from an all-knowing, all-power and all-loving god, I would think there would be SOMETHING outside of culture norms and knowledge at the time (i.e. criticizing slavery and/or presenting scientific facts like germs or cosmological reality).  There is NOTHING.
    • What is more likely?  a) 2000 years ago, god sent his son to save us from the original sin of the first two humans, even though science shows that humanity did not begin from one couple but from a group and that human behavior is not unlike that of other social animals. This savior supposedly performed miracles, died and was resurrected. However, there is no independent contemporaneous verification from sources outside of the New Testament for any of this story and the New Testament itself was written several decades after the time that these events would have occurred by people who did not witness any of the events.  b) Christianity began like several other myths circulating before and at the same time in the middle east and had the subsequent fortune of benefiting from a variety of circumstances to evolve into a major presence in society.
    • A Fundamentalist believes ALL that his/her religion teaches.  Demographically, these people are a minority.  Most people of faith are "cafeteria (insert the faith of your choice)."  Why do most people do that?  If there truly is a god, wouldn't he/she communicate clearly on what to believe?  
    • It seems to me that it is more reasonable to be a Fundamentalist than a "cafeteria (insert the faith of your choice)."  To me, there are only two reasonable choices theologically:  believe EVERYTHING a faith teaches; believe NOTHING religion teaches.  I have rationally chosen the latter.
    • "If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn't be religious people." ~Dr. House MD

       Science/Philosophy
        • The difference between philosophy and science:  Science is 'provable' and philosophy is speculation.  In addition, the following statement summarizes the problem with philosophy:  "There is, in fact, a total lack of consensus on the nature and purpose of philosophy."
        • Philosophy and logic are important foundations for the methods of determining reality we call science. However, they do not substitute for evidence. If there is poor or no evidence for something, there is no reason to believe it is real, no matter what philosophy or logic say on the matter. The booster rockets of philosophy and logic have launched science for best determining reality. 
        • "Formal logic alone doesn’t prove anything. It often leads to false conclusions about the real universe. If we relied on formal logic we would not have science. We need to let the universe tell us how it behaves." ~Lawrence Krauss
        • The greatest "high" a scientist can get is showing that accepted science is wrong. So, how can proponents of religion, alternative medicine and pseudoscience say that scientists are closed-minded and dogmatic?
        • What is "knowledge?" In the pre-scientific period, it essentially meant subjective experience. In the scientific period, it means objective facts and evidence. I prefer to live in the scientific period.
        • Science shows that the human mind is very susceptible to bias and resistant to evidence that contradicts an opinion.  Science is the only method available to objectively look at facts to overcome this natural tendency of the mind to deceive itself and, thus, comes the closest to determining true reality.
        • Why are only 7% of members of elite scientific organizations like the Royal Society and the United States National Academy of Sciences religious?
        • "You have the choice of living in one of two worlds: a world like ours in which science had come into being but religion never appeared, or a world in which religion had appeared but science never did.  Which would you choose?" ~Jerry Coyne


            Alternative Medicine/Paranormal Activity/New Age Thought


        • Religion and Alternative Medicine have alot in common: opposition to science; dogmatic beliefs that are not supported by evidence and that are resistant to change; based on hope; reinforced by the placebo effect; effective promotion to the public; large amounts of money transferred; conspiracy theories.
        • There is no such thing as Alternative Medicine. There is medicine and there are non-scientific practices.
        • When a religious or an alternative medicine concept is shown to be wrong, why do their proponents continue to promote them as if they were never addressed?
        • "Placebos do not treat the underlying disease, they only alter the symptoms, and not by much."~Mark Crislip
        • Regarding "Integrative" (AKA Alternative) Medicine:  "If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse." ~Mark Crislip
        • The evidence for the paranormal, such as psychic and telepathic ability, is very weak and even the weak evidence is compromised by poor research methods and/or design.  In addition, since these concepts are not consistent with known science (thus, are implausible), they are extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.
        • There is no evidence of a "consciousness" outside of humans, and perhaps some higher animals.  Mystics, New Age gurus, etc. who claim there is a "universal" consciousness are speaking about such without good reason.
        • There is no evidence of life after death.


           Morality
            • Morality comes from evolution as humans began forming groups. Most people have a sense of morality from deeply ingrained empathy and a desire for cooperation. Specific differences of opinion regarding moral acts can be attenuated through reason and respect in order to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number. Those that do not have a sense of morality are psychopathic and society must protect itself from these people. Asserting a god as the foundation of morality adds nothing to these facts and their practical application. 
            • If we get our morality from a god, which of the many interpretations of god's word do we follow? Also, how is morality from a god "objective?" If god is a "person" and he/she determines morality, isn't it by definition "subjective?"

                Politics/Church and State

            • "By the end of the 18th century deism had become a dominant religious attitude among upper-class Americans, and the first three presidents of the United States held this conviction, as is amply evidenced in their correspondence." ~Encyclopedia Britannica, 7:183, 1971 (ninth edition)
            • "Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism." ~Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson (sermon in October 1831)
            • "As the Government of the USA is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion ---" ~John Adams (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)
            • We are attempting to "restore" the original U.S. Pledge and Motto.
            • The 1st Amendment states no establishment "OF religion", NOT "A religion", thus, it isn't just against the establishment of a state religion, it is against the state entangling with religion at all.
            • The deity mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is non-specific and can be interpreted as being a deist god and/or just nature itself at least as much as it can be interpreted as the Christian god. The US Constitution does not mention a deity at all.
            • Prayer is not illegal in school, only government-lead prayer is.
            • The war on Christmas: How can the majority be oppressed in a democracy? Ever hear of the tyranny of the majority?
            • Christians certainly can and should participate in the discussion of legal matters. However, their arguments must be based on evidence and be consistent with commonly-held moral principles, not theological dogma.
            • Think of the alternative uses (i.e. "promotion of the general welfare"?) of the government money lost due to tax-exemption of churches. Churches are even more tax-exempt than other non-profits. Why?
            • “When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”~Sinclair Lewis
            • "A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy." -James Madison
            • "Christianity today is only relatively benign because secularism and the enlightenment has pushed it into the private sphere and defanged it.  But give it half a chance and it would soon be enforcing itself on us all - for the love of Jesus of course." ~Hassan Radwan
            • "---public policy should be based on ideas and values that can be defended by impersonal reason, not personal religious beliefs derived from spiritual revelations only accepted by some." ~Austin Cline
            • Politics is not a "hard" science like physics, chemistry and biology. Why do most atheists hold to a political ideology of liberalism and/or the positions of the Democratic party? There is a reason why there is an ebb and flow within the USA political system between the Republicans and Democrats: Neither party has all the answers. I recommend caution in accepting the full ideology of either political party, as the evidence does not support such. 

            Miscellaneous
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