Bias at the BBC?

I write the following as a huge fan of the BBC and its work. The BBC literally saved my life when my wife and I were being evacuated from Albania in 1997. So I write these things as a friend of the Corporation.

The 2007 report produced by Richard Tait, the Chairman of the Impartiality Steering Group recommended that the BBC should move away from a model of impartiality based on a see-saw seeking to balance opposing views to a Wagon Wheel where a broad spectrum of different and dissonant voices would inform the BBC’s coverage. This was a laudable aim but sadly six years on the see-saw seems to be alive and well in television coverage of faith and belief. This is due in part to limited budget and in my experience a severe lack of faith literacy from the researchers and sometimes journalists involved.

Both I and a number of colleagues have had first-hand experience of this when asked to participate in television programmes and radio interviews. I have been told – “We are doing a special on the Bible” and they wanted someone who believed the Bible was true to put opposite someone that thought it wasn’t. I asked a basic question of the researcher relating to which parts of the Bible had she read and she told me she had never read the Bible. This is inadequate to say the least for a researcher on a religious television programme about the Bible.

The see-saw principle is still in operation in most of the national television and radio experience I have had. For example, on numerous occasions I have been asked to participate in a debate with people that take the polar opposite views to me on subjects including:

The Bible – isn’t it just full of immorality? (The Big Questions)
Homosexuality – aren’t Christians just judgemental bigots? (William Crawley)
Human Sterilisation – why shouldn’t people be sterilised after one child? (Big Questions)

Local radio takes a different line – which has focussed more on explanation and commentary.

I have been frustrated by the coverage of faith in science programmes. For example, Brian Cox’s series Wonders of Life. Faith is set in opposition to science as if no scientists could possibly hold a religious conviction. As a trained scientist I find this dismissive coverage offensive.

It struck me that there are still 13,000 households who still only have a black and white only television license – the black and white portrayal of faith verses science, fundamentalists versus liberals, evangelicals versus the world is unnecessary caricaturing and does not befit a public service broadcaster. There are so many ways the BBC sets the standard for impartiality and trustworthy reporting. It is a shame for its coverage to be let down in this area.

When I have raised this concern with both the news editors and the head of religion, I have been told that this does not make interesting television. But this polarising oppositional format feels less like news and education fitting for public service television and more like The Jerry Springer Show.

On numerous occasions I have suggested an alternative model for the coverage of faith and religion:

1) Enthusiast television
Top Gear (and to a lesser extent Dara O Briain’s Science Club) has a format based around friendship, banter and divergent opinions. Is there a way that religious broadcasting could borrow this informative and entertaining format?
2) Journey
Michael Palin’s journeys around the world discovering new cultures with a sense of humility and wonder is another format that would fit well with the discovery and exploration of religious experience.

3) Social and historical commentary
This approach was shared by Caspar Melville, Editor of New Humanist magazine, who suggested that the style of The Politics Show or some of the Newsnight election commentators who were retired politicians from different parties and were able to talk with insider knowledge about what was likely to be going on inside the machine of the parties for which they no longer worked. I have written a couple of pieces distributed by Ruth Gledhill at the Times which aimed to provide a beginners guide to a coronation service or the royal wedding liturgy.

Dr Krish Kandiah

The report came out today with the Trust’s recommendations.

53 thoughts on “Bias at the BBC?”

  1. Sounds like the Beeb is slavishly following all the criticisms the late Neil Postman made of television debate all those years ago in his book ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ when he said that TV only ever represented debates as two polar opposites. It’s a fundamental dis-service to people of all persuasions, not just Christians.

  2. “…she told me she had never read the Bible. This is inadequate to say the least for a researcher on a religious television programme about the Bible…”

    You do not have to read the Bible to have a working understanding of it, I haven’t read Darwin’s Origin of the Species but I have a very good working knowledge of it, I haven’t read Newton’s Principia Mathmatica but I understand what it is about and could explain the basics to a third party.

    You cannot expect a researcher for a TV programme to be an expert on every subject they are researching. The quality for which they are employed is their expertise in finding the important bits of information about the topic they have been given, not in being experts in that topic.

    “…I have been frustrated by the coverage of faith in science programmes…”

    I am frustrated by the lack of science in any Church, anywhere, ever.

    The Bible is a great example of how anti science religion is. What with a talking snake, then the incestuous family who populate the world, then an old man loading several of every animal on board a boat (no mention of kangaroo’s on that boat, to name just 1 missing species!) then so much water appearing to flood the whole world, killing every other man woman and child – not sure which is worse, the fact that it would be scientifically impossible to have those conditions or that you God commits mass genocide. Then that incestuous family repopulates the world… and so on.

    You know what, I am convinced. We should include faith in science programmes just so we can show how incredibly stupid the whole thing is.

    Theists have never been able to prove what they say is true and science really should take them to task for this at every possible opportunity, this could help improve our world by ridding it of the nonsense of religion – we would no longer have people murdering each other because they chose the wrong God, or ate fish on the wrong day of the week.

    1. thank you for commenting on the blog post.

      on your first point if you were doing a TV programme about Samuel Peeps Diary or Pride and Prejudice i think you would expect the researched to have read them; at least some of it. So I don’t think it is too much to ask someone to read it.

      secondly – love to know how you know that no church has ever had any ‘science in it”? Do you have any empirical evidence to support this claim? My first degree was in Chemistry and I will regularly talk about science in my sermons – perhaps you should come and visit?

      thirdly – historically the birth of science in the western world owes its existence to the church – so a bit of fact checking might be helpful.

      As for why you think it necessary to deride religion as being “incredibly stupid” or how you imagine that athiests such as Pol Pot or Mao aren’t capable of equally heinous crimes is beyond me.

      I do appreciate you commenting on my blog – but I ask you to demonstrate respect and graciousness to those you disagree with.

      1. 1. You have changed the parameters. In you blog post you said a researcher should have read the book then you ask if I were doing a programme on [a book] should I have read it. It is a different question, should a person ‘doing’ a programme have read a book or should a researcher have read it.

        As I attempted to explain: it is quite possible to have a working knowledge of a book without having read the book. That is most definitely the case for a researcher who is employed to research many projects for an organisation such as the BBC.

        2. Science and theology are opposites, the latter requires you to believe something that was written in books many years ago and never to change your opinion no matter what facts are provided, the former requires that you update your opinion depending on observation, experiments and evidence.

        It is quite possible for someone to hold both scientific views and religious views and maintain both are correct, most people will find it uncomfortable though and this will result it cognitive dissonance.

        Therefore it is quite possible for a church to have some discussion of science within it and for it to say that it whole heartedly agrees with science, but if it then preaches anything which goes against the scientific (proven) view of the world then it becomes at odds with science and in doing so must go against science.

        The flood story in the Bible is a terrific example of this. We can prove, scientifically, that there is no way there could ever be enough water rained down to cover the entire planet. For there to be enough water vapour in our atmosphere to support the amount of water needed to flood the planet would put us under so much pressure that it would kill us. Even if you ignore every other thing about that story, this single fact makes the whole story anti-science and by repeating it at any time as though it were true makes any religion anti-science.

        I have chosen a well known example to make this point, but I could equally have chosen from dozens of such examples, any one of which automatically negates any claim by religion to be scientific.

        3. It is arrogant to claim that “birth of science in the western world owes its existence to the church” it is also factually incorrect. If anything the church was responsible for the prevention of scientific discovery, I am more than willing to cite examples but I would be surprised if there were any your didn’t already know.

        Additionally, some of the earliest scientists we know of were practising in Mesopotamia around 3,000 BCE, and some of their work is still being used now:
        cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science#Science_in_the_Ancient_Near_East
        “…Even today, astronomical periods identified by Mesopotamian scientists are still widely used in Western calendars such as the solar year and the lunar month…”

        Lastly:
        “As for why you think it necessary to deride religion as being “incredibly stupid” or how you imagine that athiests such as Pol Pot or Mao aren’t capable of equally heinous crimes is beyond me.”

        Wow, jumping about a bit there. I made a very good case against any religion and as I said it should be included in all science programmes so people can see how incredibly stupid it is. I wasn’t deriding religion, I was saying science would do it.

        On your second point which you choose to lump Pol Pot or Mao in with ‘athiests’ (sic) – I have no idea why you have gone there, but it shows just how narrow minded and fixated religious people are.

        You will happily read stories about how your God has committed atrocious acts of genocide and rejoice over the victory of your religion over other religions, often through bloodshed, so when you hear that some genocidal maniac was also an atheist you claim that was the reason for their crimes.

        Please show me a single case of an atheist anywhere who has murdered people because they chose to believe something that the atheist didn’t. It is naive to suggest that atheism was the driving force for either Pol Pot or Mao, but it is the same nonsense that theists come up with day after day. I could equally argue that it was Pol Pots early education at a Catholic School which drove him on to his terrible acts, but that would make me equally naive.

        History is littered with instances of theists killing those who didn’t worship their god and just as many who were killed for believing a slightly different version of that god.

        You ask me to show respect, but I believe that all religion is fake, so I shall ask how something which is fake should be respected?

        1. Karl,

          1. You’re right it may be possible to have a ‘working’ knowledge of a particularly book but that is far from necessarily being a correct, fair and balanced view.

          2. You present somewhat of a false dichotomy, rather than science being competitors they can be viewed as complementary without needing to slip into cognitive dissonance. I would agree that some Christians do hold beliefs that appear to be in opposition to modern scientific knowledge, I.E. YEC and a global flood that occurred just 4000 years ago. However these views are not exegetically required and most Christians at-least here in the UK do not hold such views.

          By bringing these things up you aren’t attacking the strongest Christian perspectives and suggest you spend some time critiquing the views of scholars like John H Walton on Genesis rather than YEC ministries.

          3. Krish was bang on with an earlier point, it was the Christian world-view that presented the philosophical foundations for *modern* science to develop in the West. This is because the universe created by God was a rational and intelligible one where observations could be trusted and tested reliably. This is not to say that other civilizations had no part but our foundational beliefs about the nature of the universe have played a vital role.

          Examples from other cultures don’t make the role of the Christian world-view mute, because no-one has or is saying that scientific observations weren’t made in other cultures.

          I would suggest James Hannam’s book for a thorough argument rather than a summary article on the History of Science from Wikipaedia > The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle-ages launched the Scientific Revolution – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Genesis-Science-Christian-Scientific-Revolution/dp/1596981555/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373106578&sr=1-2

          4. The point is that human beings will commit evil for a variety of reasons, whether power, money, infamy, religion, politics or love. For the Christian and genuine follower of Jesus they can never use or justify evil or violence by him. It was Jesus after-all who taught his followers to ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’. A Christian but ignore Jesus and not obey him if they wish to harm others.

          In regards to many of the atheist dictators, are you saying that their disdain for religion (specifically Christianity) had nothing to do with their atheism? I’m sure this disdain had nothing to do with the 80,000 + Russian Orthodox Priests Stalin had shot, perhaps that was his way of strengthening it? Perhaps you could look at Stalin’s ‘five year plan of atheism’ where he spoke of eradicating belief in God ,murdering the clergy and closing churches > http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2012/05/stalins-five-year-plan-for-atheism/

          This is a clear example of someone killing people because they weren’t atheists. Of course this doesn’t mean atheism ifs false but its does mean that we both need to be objective when we look at history and the views we may disagree with.

          Thanks,

          Daniel

          1. 1. I’ll keep it simple: A researcher is there to research, not to be an expert. A researcher employed by an organisation such as the BBC will have many subjects to research, they find out the main facts and pass them on to the producer. We wouldn’t expect someone who was researching criminals to go out and commit crimes, would we?

            2. Again I’ll keep it short. Does your religion expect you to believe what was written in a book thousands of years ago? Does science do the same? Do you have any testable proof that what your religion teaches you is true?

            3. Please don’t try and palm me off with an evangelical website to back your claims which have already been widely refuted. Christianity was neither the birth of science in the western world, not did it help it. Some non dogmatic reading could be found here: http://nobeliefs.com/comments10.htm

            4. “The point is that human beings will commit evil for a variety of reasons”
            As Steven Weinberg said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

            With regard to Stalin it is just as likely that he hated the church after being expelled from his school (Georgian Orthodox Tiflis Spiritual Seminary) when he was 21. He was an amoral psychopath who killed people he believed was a threat to his power. Yes he killed tens of thousands of priests, but that almost pales into insignificance when you consider he killed around 20 million of his own people (with another 20 million dying in WW2) He considered the priests a threat and whether he was or wasn’t an atheist he would have killed them, he didn’t kill them because he was an atheist.

            You claim that Jesus said “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – where should I start with this one? The fact you are quoting something that has been transcribed so many times we don’t know if that was the original words? The fact it has been translated from one language to another and we don’t have the originals to compare the translation to? The fact that whilst the Gospel you quote from is called ‘Mathew’ we don’t actually know who wrote it?

            If you haven’t seen it this Youtube clip from Bart Ehrman explains the problems with quoting from the bible, it should be fascinating for believers and non-believers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0zWbL8Uqfw

            There are even some scholars who dispute whether Jesus even existed, I don’t know what percentage of serious scholars think this as I haven’t researched it, but there are reasonable arguments to support at least some of what they say and I will concede there are reasonable arguments that support his existence. For what its worth, Bart Ehrman (video link I posted above) does believe that Jesus existed.

  3. Hi Karl

    the tone of your post comes across as intolerant and bigotted something that atheists often accuse christians of being. If you would like to have a genuine conversation then I am willing but if you are not going to use rational and reasonable means to have a conversation then there seems little point in continuing.

    You ask me to show respect, but I believe that all religion is fake, so I shall ask how something which is fake should be respected?

    I believe your position is unscientific and unjustifiable yet I hold respect your freedom to hold this position and believe you to be a valuable person whatever your views. I believe all people deserve this respect and your views should not be ridiculed. It should be one of the benefits of living in a culture that has been shaped by christian values for centuries. If you are right and human beings are as Richard Dawkins puts it – “DNA replicating machines” perhaps I should only respect you if you have good DNA and have replicated enough times. But I do not hold to this kind of reductionism – so want to respect you even if I disagree with you.

    Do let me know if you have the temperament for genuine conversation or if you want to hurl unsubstantiated jibes.

    Yours Sincerely

    krish

    1. May I point out a principle I have used many times with people who refuse to accept the possibility of the existsnce of a creator God, to be a rational scientist and approach a theory from a purely logical perspective one must levy an equal portion of weight to all theories until one is either proven or disproven beyond reasonable doubt, and until then each theory must be accepted as equally valid, it is then completely illogical to say God did not create the earth and the heavens just based simply on the reality that you just don’t like the sound of it. The blind refusal to even consider the existence of a God is total nonesence, not to mention compleatly unscientific.

      1. John. This is a fallacy known as a ‘False Compromise’ – we know that all ideas are not equal, Russel’s Teapot is a perfect example of this:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

        “The blind refusal to even consider the existence of a God is total nonesence, not to mention compleatly unscientific.”

        I didn’t blindly refuse to consider anything, I have weighed the lack of evidence for a god and the likelihood of a god existing and have come to the conclusion that it is irrational to think there is a god. To assume that I came to this decision blindly is insulting.

        As for unscientific: believing in anything for which no evidence exist, such as: the Christian god, Thor, Vishnu, Russel’s Teapot, etc is unscientific, please don’t try to project the inadequacies of your own position onto my position. If you have any proof that your god exists you should present it.

    2. Intolerant, no I just firmly believe you are wrong and I am attempting to show you the light. Bigoted, again no, I don’t hate you for being wrong. I have been wrong about many things and have only learned by being shown my errors. If your faith is so weak that it cannot sustain harsh criticism then I am certainly not at fault for supplying that critique.

      As for being rational, you are free to show me where I have been anything but rational, I actually hate being irrational and strive to be as rational as I can, as well as being honest and forthright. I consider reasonable to be synonymous with being rational.

      Please expand on why you think I am being unscientific. I find this claim astonishing.

      You say that you believe all people should have their views respected, would this include the views of psychopaths or child molesters? I have to say that there are many views which I find downright distasteful and objectionable and I do not respect the people that hold them.

      “It should be one of the benefits of living in a culture that has been shaped by christian values for centuries.” – those self same Christian values which, a couple of hundred years ago would have seen me tortured for my views, it is well documented that Christians tortured Atheists. If you require proof please ask and I will provide it.

      I have already made clear what my temperament is, it seems you don’t like it because it is too factual. It should be clear I am not the one making unsubstantiated claims (or jibes) here.

      1. Dear Karl

        – “I am attempting to show you the light” is an interesting turn of phrase, you are aware that comes from the Bible I am sure. But it shows you do believe in something called truth.

        – you mention “psychopaths and child molestors” – which seems to indicate you have a moral sense as well

        I have yet to hear a convincing argument from an atheist how to account for either truth or morality.

        – I describe you as taking an irrational and unscientific stance as you are not engaging with anyone else’s opinion. If someone cites a website it is deemed “evangelical” and ruled out. If someone calls you out on your fact checking you say that people don’t like facts.

        I am not sure this is a constructive conversation . You have made your mind up and are not interested in evidence – another nonscientific approach. Science is an open ended conversation where we seek truth in community. We progress together not through dogmatically held views that are not open to dispute, instead as the philosopher Karl Popper describes it we move forward through conjectures and refutations. Your approach does not seem to fit the way that science proceeds.

        You have already told me that you don’t respect my opinion so I wonder if it is worth continuing this conversation.

        yours
        Krish

        1. Krish

          If you would like to hear of a convincing account for truth or morality (in other species as well as in man) then I would highly recommend that you read The Selfish Gene by Dawkins.

          Also I just did a quick Google for: Truth and Morality in Animals
          This was one of the results: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/02/20/animal-behavior-it-can-be-moral/

          There are plenty of other results out there, I am sure one will convince you that we are moral and truthful because it is to our advantage to be so. We are a social species and both science and mathematics can prove that for an individual to advance and procreate within a social structure it more likely to do so when the majority are truthful and moral.

          Krish, to say I am not engaging is untrue. I just have a higher sense of what is and isn’t acceptable evidence. I dismiss evangelical websites because they are trying to sell me their version of ‘the truth’.

          Additionally I rejected the evangelical website because the flood story has already been so widely dismissed that I did not need to read another load of special pleading from an evangelical trying to convince me it *could* be true under a special set of conditions. There is also the question of why any ‘loving and caring god’ would decide to commit genocide and why christians would be comfortable with it.

          You claim that when anyone calls me out on my fact checking I dismiss it by saying people don’t like facts. Again show me where I have done this. I have consistently backed my argument up with citations or with links to websites that are both scientific and credible.

          This could be a constructive conversation, but you would need to admit that you could be wrong, this seems to be something that believers have a hard time with. I fully accept that I could be wrong, I have been wrong in the past and I will be wrong again in the future. If am proved wrong about religion then I am sure any supreme all knowing deity would understand why I didn’t believe the arguments for his/her/its existence, for a more in depth understanding of what I mean here is a great video where an atheist discusses what would happen if they were wrong and a christian god did exist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iClejS8vWjo

          Krish, I don’t respect your opinion as there is no evidence to back it up, the burden of proof is upon the theist. Please prove to me that your religion is not only the right one but the only credible one.

          1. Is there any chance you could authorise the above comment Krish? I note it is still “awaiting moderation”

          2. I am refering to the comment which begins:

            “Krish

            If you would like to hear of a convincing account for truth or morality (in other species as well as in man) then I would highly recommend that you read The Selfish Gene by Dawkins. ”

            It still says “awaiting moderation”

          3. Krish

            If you would like to hear of a convincing account for truth or morality (in other species as well as in man) then I would highly recommend that you read The Selfish Gene by Dawkins.

            Also I just did a quick Google for: Truth and Morality in Animals

            This was one of the results: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/02/20/animal-behavior-it-can-be-moral/

            There are plenty of other results out there, I am sure one will convince you that we are moral and truthful because it is to our advantage to be so. We are a social species and both science and mathematics can prove that for an individual to advance and procreate within a social structure it more likely to do so when the majority are truthful and moral.

            Krish, to say I am not engaging is untrue. I just have a higher sense of what is and isn’t acceptable evidence. I dismiss evangelical websites because they are trying to sell me their version of ‘the truth’.

            Additionally I rejected the evangelical website because the flood story has already been so widely dismissed that I did not need to read another load of special pleading from an evangelical trying to convince me it *could* be true under a special set of conditions. There is also the question of why any ‘loving and caring god’ would decide to commit genocide and why christians would be comfortable with it.

            You claim that when anyone calls me out on my fact checking I dismiss it by saying people don’t like facts. Again show me where I have done this. I have consistently backed my argument up with citations or with links to websites that are both scientific and credible.

            This could be a constructive conversation, but you would need to admit that you could be wrong, this seems to be something that believers have a hard time with. I fully accept that I could be wrong, I have been wrong in the past and I will be wrong again in the future. If am proved wrong about religion then I am sure any supreme all knowing deity would understand why I didn’t believe the arguments for his/her/its existence, for a more in depth understanding of what I mean here is a great video where an atheist discusses what would happen if they were wrong and a christian god did exist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iClejS8vWjo

            Krish, I don’t respect your opinion as there is no evidence to back it up, the burden of proof is upon the theist. Please prove to me that your religion is not only the right one but the only credible one.

            Your comment is awaiting moderation.
            ^^ why does this still say ‘awaiting moderation’ ? I posted it 8 days ago.

          4. Karl thanks for posting again. Things have been busy my end so had limited access to computer.

            Interesting that you post that you font respect my opinion but you expect me to respect yours enough to publish it.

            You have not responded to your fellow atheist’s comment on humility and the genuine problem that morality and truth present to nonthiestic worldviews. The gact that the extent of your research is to look on youtube is telling as is your inconsistency in writing off websites that are hosted by Christians but you have no problem pointing us to atheist sites. Your athiesm is inconsistent. There is a challenge left to you by Neitzche that if God is dead why resist the will to power that ends up with Nazism’s survival of the fittest. Your morality is borrowed and your concept of truth pillaged from Christian foundations.

          5. Karl thanks for posting again. Things have been busy my end so had limited access to computer.

            Interesting that you post that you font respect my opinion but you expect me to respect yours enough to publish it.

            You have not responded to your fellow atheist’s comment on humility and the genuine problem that morality and truth present to nonthiestic worldviews. The gact that the extent of your research is to look on youtube is telling as is your inconsistency in writing off websites that are hosted by Christians but you have no problem pointing us to atheist sites. Your athiesm is inconsistent. There is a challenge left to you by Neitzche that if God is dead why resist the will to power that ends up with Nazism’s survival of the fittest. Your morality is borrowed and your concept of truth pillaged from Christian foundations.

          6. Krish, I hate to call anyone disingenuous, but the evidence of your own page suggests that: you had time enough to reply to my two other posts asking you why that post was still awaiting moderation, but not time enough to allow it.

            “…Interesting that you post that you font respect my opinion but you expect me to respect yours enough to publish it…”

            And therein appears to be the real reason it wasn’t published.

            You choose to publish a page that invites responses, if you only want people who respect your opinion to reply then you should put that in a disclaimer so we don’t bother.

            “…The gact that the extent of your research is to look on youtube is telling as is your inconsistency in writing off websites that are hosted by …”
            The fact you didn’t see the following link either confirms your lack of time recently or suggests you aren’t interested in anything that disproves what you have to say.

            http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/02/20/animal-behavior-it-can-be-moral/

            I will assume it was an oversight.

            “..You have not responded to your fellow atheist’s comment on humility and the genuine problem that morality and truth present to nonthiestic worldviews…”

            Actually I did respond, I called him a theist troll, you wouldn’t allow it as a comment though, (I have no problem with that) but once again it is disingenuous to claim that I didn’t reply.

        2. I forgot to ask: You said:
          …” “I am attempting to show you the light” is an interesting turn of phrase, you are aware that comes from the Bible I am sure. But it shows you do believe in something called truth.”…

          Can you prove that it originated from the bible and wasn’t in common usage before the time that the bible was written, or that this is a direct translation from the original Greek or Aramaic?

          Christians may use this phrase and it may appear in the bible, if as you assert ‘it originated in the bible’ can you please provide proof.

  4. It’s worth having a look at John Polkinghorne’s website. The idea that there is a clash between science and religion is something that secular, atheist materialists may like to promote, but it ain’t necessarily so.

    JP manages to bridge the two paradigms with equal integrity.

    Let’s try and do the same.

  5. I love a healthy but respectful dialogue . I have traveled extensively over many continents, the past 18 years and talked with people from many differing religions, including those professing no religion at all. I have just returned from another trip to Israel, which is full of archaeological and historical proof that the Bible is accurate and factually founded. Discoveries are taking place regularly where the Biblical account leads archaeologists to the exact location to discover over and over exactly what was written. I realize this is just one aspect of the Bible but for me it leads me to the facts of my faith. Sadly so much debate takes place without knowledge of the Bible, just as uninformed debate takes place about other religions. Thanks, Krish for opening this dialogue – like you I wish that a more creative, lively and informed approach could be adopted by the BBC about such a creative, lively and informed book!

  6. Throughout history, the Church has been responsible for a significant amount of good in the world – as well as a lot of harm, sadly. It is a mistake to identify the brokenness and wicked behaviour of people, with the philosophy they follow. People all over the world, and all through the ages, have committed acts of extreme violence, and acts of incredible grace and beauty, whatever creed they adhere to.

    Krish was trying to make the point, that wickedness is not confined to religion – and neither is goodness. So, I do not rejoice when my Church wrongs or harms people in the name of ‘victory’ over another religion. Nor do I conveniently look the other way when something good comes out of the world.

    The Church’s job in the world, I believe, is to encourage that good (which we believe comes from God and shown ultimately in the love, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), and fight that evil (which we believe comes from human sin and rebellion against God). It is our job to hold God’s light in the dark places – and when we step away from that, we almost invariably get ourselves into hot water.

    To say that science can ‘disprove’ religion is a misunderstanding of both science and faith. Science, by definition, cannot prove or disprove the existence of something which is beyond the physical world. If the Christian faith in the resurrection of Jesus is true, and I believe it is, there is a lot more to this world than we, or science, can see, hear or touch.

    Faith is placing our trust in that ‘something more’, and we Christians believe that is God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Such faith does not have to contradict science, but can quite happily sit alongside it, as Christian scientists seek to understand the world around them, while trusting their life to the God who they believe is before, behind and above it.

    1. Answering your points as you made them:
      As I said in a previous reply to krish:
      Steven Weinberg: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

      It is irrelevant for you to claim people who are religious have done good, they would have been good people anyway. Imagine for a moment that religion hadn’t entered your life, for whatever reason, would you have been any less good than you are now? I sincerely doubt you would, I bet you would be just as nice a person with or without religion.

      The Church’s job is clearly to make money and to give men power – they may in some cases encourage good too, but that is a by-product of the money making machine.

      I never said that “science can ‘disprove’ religion” – in fact science doesn’t need to disprove religion. The burden of proof is with the supporters of religion, it is not for anyone to disprove it. This is a common mistake made by theists.

      You gave your description of faith, here is mine:
      a. A belief, practice, or rite irrationally maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance.
      b. A fearful or abject state of mind resulting from such ignorance or irrationality.
      c. Idolatry.
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/superstition

      Ironically, superstition is considered sinful in the Catholic Church.

  7. Simply, the BBC produces some first class programmes BUT, there is always a but isn’t there, it falls down massively. Folk like me who do not accept the orthodox secular humanism of the day often feel let down and there is an alien and unintelligent bias taking place at the Beeb. This is so sad. For example. Israel. The BBC has been found guilty by it’s own internal review (which it didn’t make public) that it has an anti Israel bias. Now to be fair a few recent much more balanced reports have been coming though; but it still has a way to go to be truly impartial. No wonder some right of centre people are deserting the corporation in droves; it just seems to produces a liberal litany which upon examination is just not fair to the spectrum of views out there. I am a Christian and i celebrate that fact but the BBC seems to have a very one dimensional view of faith and belief. So come on BBC you are the British Broadcasting Corporation NOT the ”Bloody Biased Corporation’, let’s see some really good reporting and programming that accepts people of faith and the place of nations like Israel which are not the militaristic nations so often wrongly portrayed.

  8. Hi Karl

    It is very hard to take seriously anyone who believes people have been killed because they didn’t eat fish on a Friday. However you say ‘Theists have never been able to prove what they say is true’ but it is equally true that atheists have never been able to prove what they say is true.

    It is also hard to respond to someone so apparently ignorant of the issues he is attacking. For example, you say that ‘(Theology) requires you to believe something that was written in books many years ago and never to change your opinion no matter what facts are provided’. No one studying theology would recognise this as true. For a start, theology draws on much more than ancient writings. Second, for example, Jewish Rabies have as a basic premise of their interpretation of the Bible that where it appears to conflict with science, including new discoveries, science is to be believed.

    More than that, science is not the friend of atheists. For example, were anyone to suggest that Stonehenge ‘just happened’ due to natural events they would be laughed at. Yet the complexity of even the smallest microbe is vastly more complex than Stonehenge – meaning the most reasonable explanation is that a creator had to have been involved. To say anything other than this without evidence is simply not scientific. By the way, Prof Dawkins agrees – except his stance is either that ‘we’ll know one day’ or ‘Life must have come from outside our solar system’ – both unproven scientifically.

    Of course people are free to believe that things just happened – but this is the same kind of blind faith that atheists accuse religious people of having.

    As for the evils of religion – there are lots of them. But the evils of ‘non-religion’ are pretty spectacular too. Just ask those who lived and died under Mao, Pol Po, Stalin and others. The issue is not that religion or non-religion is evil – or that one is more evil than others – but that there is something wrong with humankind no matter what they believe. And, for this, at least Jesus came to show how it could be sorted.

    Regards

    Peter

    1. Peter,

      I didn’t actually say “people have been killed because they didn’t eat fish on a Friday” I said “the wrong day”, the fact you mentioned Friday suggests you got exactly what I meant, but I shall explain anyway. I was alluding to the fact that one of the differences between sects such as Protestants and Catholics is that Catholics (official doctrine) believe that meat shouldn’t be eaten on a Friday, and that they have killed each other because whilst they claim to believe in the same god they hate the differences between their sects.

      As I mentioned in a previous reply, the burden of proof is on theists, not on atheists. You too should have a read about Russel’s Teapot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

      You go on to say:
      “It is also hard to respond to someone so apparently ignorant of the issues he is attacking. For example, you say that ‘(Theology) requires you to believe something that was written in books many years ago and never to change your opinion no matter what facts are provided’. No one studying theology would recognise this as true. For a start, theology draws on much more than ancient writings”

      Well, now I am convinced that you are being deliberately obtuse. When I said ‘many years ago’ it would have been understood by most people to mean ‘ancient’ – I certainly didn’t mean recent. As for what “Jewish Rabies” (or as I prefer to call them: Rabbis) basic premise is: they may as well admit that the whole book is old and full of nonsense if they are going to say some of “the word of gods” is wrong.

      …”Yet the complexity of even the smallest microbe is vastly more complex than Stonehenge – meaning the most reasonable explanation is that a creator had to have been involved. “…

      How on earth do you jump from “this is complex” to “it must have a creator”? That is insane, you are basically saying: “I don’t know so god did it.”

      It is completely scientific to say “we don’t know”, if we do not have answers we say so, we don’t ascribe that which we don’t understand to the work of some cosmic magician. The fact you don’t understand this shows a distinct lack of education, please do some research outside of theology websites/books.

      …”Of course people are free to believe that things just happened – but this is the same kind of blind faith that atheists accuse religious people of having. “…

      I don’t know anyone who believes “things just happened” – this again shows a distinct lack of understanding of the subject matter.

      To deal with your final paragraph, I have to quote Steven Weinberg for a 3rd time: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

  9. Karl seems to think that the Bible requires us to take a literal interpretation of the account of Noah’s flood, in order to demonstrate that religion is false and disproved by science.

    A balanced Christian perspective on the Flood can be found on the Biologos website at: http://biologos.org/questions/genesis-flood , which argues that the interpretation of the flood as a global catastrophe is not required by the text. It also mentions many more scientific objections than Karl has pointed out to a literal interpretation.

    It is very easy for an atheist to shoot down Christianity as fake if one assumes that all Christians are fundamentalists who take every word of the Bible literally, but that just isn’t the case.

    1. Iain

      The Bible is supposed to be the word of God, if it wasn’t supposed to have been taken literally he should have provided footnotes on each page saying which parts were allegorical and which were literal.

      There are Christian apologist websites everywhere which each give their excuses as to how its possible for the flood to have occurred (I have read at least 5, possibly 6) but they all require special pleading – this is neither scientific nor logical if the Bible was written by your god.

      I do agree partially on your last point, it is easy to shoot down Christianity as fake. I disagree that one needs to assume that all Christians are fundamentalists to do so, I claim that Christianity is fake in the same way I claim Russel’s Teapot is fake – just because someone says it’s true doesn’t make it so and until evidence is provided to the contrary it is highly unlikely to be true.

      1. Karl: Please show me the chapter and verse in the Bible where it says the Bible is the word of God and that it has to be taken literally. There are many mentions of the “Word of God” in the Bible and none of them refer to the Bible itself. Insisting that it must be taken literally seems the preserve of modern fundamentalists or atheists. Early church fathers such as Augustine or Origen thought it ridiculous to take it literally.

        1. Really, the Bible is no longer considered the word of God? Yet it says within it, well over three thousand times a mixture of: “Thus says the lord” or “The Lord said” or “God said” or “[x] spoke the word of the Lord”

          If you do not take your Bible literally then why do you follow this particular religion?

          This is a major problem for people such as myself who try and have discussions with theists, there are so many different beliefs and sects within any religion it is hard to try and pin any of you down to a particular stance. You happily decry those who claim otherwise, even within your own religion, but don’t seem to understand when others decry you.

          It’s almost like you are saying “this book has a few good ideas which I like” (like being kind to other people and trying to help others) “but some other ideas I am not so fond of” (like the way it condones slavery, says you should kill those who wear mixed fabrics or has people like Job offering their daughters up for rape) – so one has to wonder why you would follow such a faith.

  10. Hi All,
    I don’t know all the clever stuff that people have explained above, I read my Bible in a group with friends and talk through how things – good times & bad- are as relevant today as they were then. My faith is my personal relationship with Christ who is my rock and my foundation. I was brought up in a family that attended Church and moved away at the age of 16 as I discovered other things in my life, but I have never lost my faith, and I now attend a Church that I feel is home. So whilst I cannot even start to compete with all the amazing bloggers prior & after me, faith to me is that …faith.

    1. I have a single question for you:

      If you had never discovered or been taught about your religion and had grown up not knowing about faith, do you think you would be as good a person as you are, a better person than you are, or a worse person than you are?

      I imagine this is a very difficult question to answer for anyone who has faith as most will not be able to accurately consider not having that faith.

      But let me say what I think the correct response should be: There should be no difference in the person you are with or without your faith. If there is a difference, then why is there a difference? Is it anything more than the fact that some cosmic deity is threatening to punish you if you aren’t good? That doesn’t sound like a loving and caring god.

  11. Karl, on the issue of ‘would I be a better or worse person’ I have no doubt that I’d be a far worse person if I had not come to have a friendship with God through his son Jesus and his strength to help me live a better and less self centred life.

    More than that, survey after survey show that those with faith in Jesus are more generous to those in need – with their time and money – than any other sector of the population. That is a fact but I’m not sure you like facts. And the motivation is not one of fear of punishment as you so wrongly imagine. But out of gratitude to a God of love and forgiveness.

    Do you really imagine that the work of Christians to end slavery and child labour, to establish hospitals and hospices, to set up schools for the poor and to seek to end poverty is out of fear?! Quite the opposite.

    Peter

    1. Please provide a citation for your extraordinary claims. I have researched whether religious people are more generous than others and have yet to find any study which shows this to be both true and without condition. I have found studies where it is true when conditions are applied such as this:
      http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-10-07-morality-giving_N.htm

      … “University of British Columbia psychology researchers Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff concluded that religious people act more kindly than atheists on condition they believe their acts will enhance their reputations among their peers. The second condition is being freshly reminded, in a subconscious way, of the existence of a morally tinged God or supernatural being, the researchers said.”…

      Which is what I said, through fear.

      You claim that you wouldn’t be such a good person without god. To me that suggests you have some deep rooted psychological problems.

      I’m an atheist. I live my life to be the best person I can be, I don’t do this to impress others, I just get a good feeling when I am good and a bad feeling if I am not as good as I could have been. I strive to improve the lives of others either through my actions or even inaction – I wouldn’t do something which I thought would harm others if I can help it. I am the sort of person who sees all life as precious, for example: I hate spiders but would much rather trap one and release it outside of my house than to kill it.

      I believe my mother is an even better example of a person who is good without god. She works several days a week at a charity shop (for free) she regularly visits people who are sick in our local community and spends time with them, she also helps run a couple of non profit organisations locally.

      Anyone can be good without god, if you need god to make you good then you are doing so under threat of punishment.

      With regard to your statement:
      …”Do you really imagine that the work of Christians to end slavery and child labour, to establish hospitals and hospices, to set up schools for the poor and to seek to end poverty is out of fear?!”…

      The bible condones slavery and child labour. Christians throughout history have been some of the most vocal about *not* ending slavery, the USA is a prime example.

      Additionally there have been many hospitals, hospices, and schools for the poor, set up by many secular people and many secularists that have attempted to help end poverty. To suggest that this is something only Christians do is arrogant as well as ignorant.

      If you as are claiming that Christians are only doing these works because of their faith then that must mean they fear something else happening if they don’t do them.

      As mentioned before, good people do good, bad people do bad. To make good people do bad takes religion.

  12. Karl, I’ll do my best to deal with your two posts – and I’d like you to at least trust me that I have no interest in being obtuse or to deliberately misunderstand you. I have much better things to do with my time than that. It would be good, also, if you showed your goodness by not hurling insults – including what you imagine my education, reading or psychological state to be. You know nothing of any of this and it is unkind and unhelpful to write in the way that you do.

    As a side note, I observe that you doing this is very consistent with the engagements I’ve had with other atheists. Their ability to turn on insults rather than charm is something I find nowhere else. Any thoughts as to why that might be?

    However . . .

    If you think the killing in Northern Ireland was based on objections to religious belief and not about politics I’d urge you to look much more closely at the issue.

    As for the burden of proof, Russell’s Teapot is an old red herring. Any such teapot would need a creator. So we are back to the fact that if something like a teapot, or Stonehenge, needed a creator then equally so does something like the first self-replicating molecule – that is vastly more complex. Why one and not the other?

    There is no jump in reason here and it has nothing to do with ‘I don’t know so God did it’ – actually it is the opposite. What atheists are saying is ‘We don’t know but it can’t have been God’’. If you believe Stonehenge required a designer and creator then it is up to you to provide evidence that something vastly more complex could come into being without outside help. That is where the burden of proof is.

    Agreed that it is completely scientific to say “we don’t know”. But it is not scientific to rule out all possibilities based on an unproven and dogmatic faith view that there could not be a God.

    Actually, though the phrase ‘just happened’ does not sound scientific it is a perfect description of events where there is no ‘guiding hand’. Indeed, it is pretty well what any self respecting atheist believes including Prof Dawkins – so you surprise me. If things didn’t ‘just happen’ out of random chance then what did happen?

    Of course it is possible to be good without God. As for me having ‘some deep rooted psychological problems’ I’ll ignore the unhelpful insult based on a total ignorance of any personal details about me and just say I know what the focus of my life was before God became real to me and I know how it changed afterwards – and this had nothing to do with fear. More than that I’ve seen the same happen for countless others.

    Does this prove anything? Of course not. But it was you who asked the questions.

    Are religious people more generous? For a start, you have answered your own question by quoting research that shows they are – you just don’t like the apparent motivation. More than that, while research is good at numbers it can be off the mark when it comes to trying to identify attitudes. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the research was that ‘After analysing three decades of research, scientists say religion encourages individuals to be more helpful, honest and generous’ – which is exactly what I said.

    However, you say that you have ‘yet to find any study which shows this to be both true and without condition’. So try these for example –

    http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/152825-evangelicals-are-the-most-generous-poll-shows.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/study-less-religious-stat_n_1810425.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/gods-truth-believers-are-nicer-20110908-1jzrl.html From which this is a quote, ‘On every measurable scale, religious Americans are more generous, more altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts.’

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/god-and-country/2009/05/05/religious-conservatives-are-more-generous-but-thats-only-half-the-story Note that what the researchers here fail to understand is those who take their faith the most seriously are going to be part of ‘communities of faith’. So it is not their involvement in these that governs their likelihood to give but the strength of their faith that takes them there. A frightening example of what happens when researchers don’t understand their subjects.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/gods-truth-believers-are-nicer-20110908-1jzrl.html#ixzz2YRhrABng

    The Bible does not condone slavery or child labour. Rather it reports life in a culture where this existed. This underlines your misunderstanding of the Bible which you regard in the same way as a few fringe fundamentalists regard it and not the way believers down the centuries who have engaged their brains do.

    And do you really not understand that it was Christians who fought long and hard to end slavery?

    If you had read what I wrote with care you’d see I never suggested it was ‘only Christians’ who have set up hospitals, hospices, etc. I simply asked if you imagined they did so out of fear. I find it very interesting that you should take such a simple and clear statement like this and so wrongly use it to attack me.

    This brings me to your greatest misunderstanding of all. You say, ‘If you are claiming that Christians are only doing these works because of their faith then that must mean they fear something else happening if they don’t do them.’ How sad that you imagine the only motivation could possibly be fear.

    These actions have taken place because these people – of whom I am one – love God because of all he is and all he has done and this has caused them to love others. I guess this is a little similar to the relationship I have with my wife. Do I do the chores out of fear that I’ll suffer at her hands if I don’t? No, but because I love her with all my heart and want and am motivated to please her.

    The motivation of those of us who want to make life better for others has nothing to do with fear and everything to do with the relationship we believe they have with a God who loves them. Of course, we are those that Prof Dawkins calls ‘deluded’. For me, the more deluded people like this the better for the sake of a hurting and needy world.

    Cheers

    Peter

    1. Hi Peter,

      As usual I’ll try and address your points in the order you posted them and quote you where I feel it is helpful to do so. I shall try to be brief as there is now much to cover.

      …”As a side note, I observe that you doing this is very consistent with the engagements I’ve had with other atheists. Their ability to turn on insults rather than charm is something I find nowhere else. Any thoughts as to why that might be?”…

      The best way I can explain this is:
      Imagine that you meat a group of people who claim that the works of Terry Pratchett are based on fact. They believe that the Earth is a flat disc which rides atop 4 great elephants which are themselves standing on the back of an even bigger turtle.
      A couple people from the group start chatting to you and try and convince you that the Earth is a disc. You engage them and gently explain that what was in the book was just a very clever and imaginative author telling a story. You argue scientifically with them, showing them all the ways in which their model is wrong. They choose not to believe you and they wander off muttering about what a fool you are.
      Another group starts chatting to you, the process is repeated and this time everyone wanders off muttering to themselves what fools the other is.
      The same thing happens again and again until you are approached for the 100th time by another group. The discussion follows the same tired path but this time the group is getting annoyed at you for your attitude. Why, they say, are you so annoyed with us, all we did was try and discuss this with you.
      Welcome to my world. I am well beyond the 100th conversation, I cannot treat you like the first group I met as I have heard most, if not all, the arguments. I have seen how many different fallacies are used to support the theological point of view and it is frustrating to hear the same thing repeated as though I should be impressed when in fact I am annoyed that the theist hasn’t bothered to check if their argument has already been refuted.

      …”If you think the killing in Northern Ireland was based on objections to religious belief and not about politics I’d urge you to look much more closely at the issue.”…

      To give the subject it’s proper assessment we would need to look back almost 4 centuries to the time of Cromwell. Cromwell was a Puritan, he imposed laws on Catholics, most Catholics in the UK at the time lived in Ireland (note: most, not all) Cromwell was also quite fond of nailing babies to church doors in order to make his point in Ireland. The problems in Ireland were clearly caused by a difference of opinion within the same religion even if politics since then has played a part.

      …”As for the burden of proof, Russell’s Teapot is an old red herring.”…

      Not true. Nobody has said the teapot cannot have had a creator, that is a different argument. What is being said is that such a teapot exists and this is used as a way of showing that the person claiming it exists is the one who has to prove it rather than anyone else having to disprove it.
      What you are doing is ignoring the main thrust of the analogy so as you can answer it in a way which pleases you by use of the watchmaker fallacy, ie anything that exists must have a creator. Even if we were to accept this we would then have the discussion of who created your God which would result in special pleading for your God.
      me: So if God exists who created him?
      you: God is eternal he has always been and will always be.
      me: in that case the teapot has always been and will always be.
      you: that’s silly.
      me: Well you started it.
      … and so on.

      Russell’s teapot analogy is used to show who has a burden of proof in a discussion, not to decide if there was or wasn’t a creator. It should be clear that if someone makes an extraordinary claim they are the ones who have to provide evidence for it. You have used the watchmaker fallacy to try and refute an argument that wasn’t made.

      If you believe a God exists it is down to you to prove it, it is not for me or anyone else to disprove it.

      …”What atheists are saying is ‘We don’t know but it can’t have been God’’.”…

      Not true. What atheists are saying is “There is no good reason to suspect there is a God” As science progresses there are fewer and fewer things that theists can claim is the work of a God or Gods. Atheists will often say that theists use the God of the Gaps argument, that is; if something cannot immediately be explained then it is attributed to God rather than looking for any other solution. God has been used to explain anything from the sun “coming up” each day (Ra) to thunder (Thor) to creation (Christian God) all of which we now have scientific explanations for, each time we explain a little more the theist has to move his goal posts in order to keep his belief working. The atheist never has to move his goal post unless some new information is found which proves there is a God/Gods, in all of human history no such evidence has been found.

      So, we don’t say “we don’t know but it can’t have been God” in the same way we don’t say “we don’t know but it can’t have been made by a unicorn” – we are not in the habit of saying all the things which we do not think have been responsible for something, experience has taught us that if we examine the evidence we will find the cause.

      …”Agreed that it is completely scientific to say “we don’t know”. But it is not scientific to rule out all possibilities based on an unproven and dogmatic faith view that there could not be a God. “…

      But it is perfectly scientific to say that the existence of God is just one of a myriad of possibilities for anything we don’t know and that your argument of “God did it” is meaningless in the course of trying to investigate anything which we don’t know.

      …”Actually, though the phrase ‘just happened’ does not sound scientific it is a perfect description of events where there is no ‘guiding hand’. Indeed, it is pretty well what any self respecting atheist believes including Prof Dawkins – so you surprise me. If things didn’t ‘just happen’ out of random chance then what did happen? “…

      As far as I know Dawkins hasn’t used the phrase ‘just happened’ in the way you describe. I believe he did use it as a term for coincidence in The Blind Watchmaker:
      “Nobody knows how it happened but, somehow, without violating the laws of physics and chemistry, a molecule arose that just happened to have the property of self-copying – a replicator”
      Clearly he says we don’t know why, but he isn’t saying “this just happened” in the way you suggest, he is saying “we don’t know how it happened but for some reason the conditions were right”
      Example: I went to a shop and bought some stuff and when I got to the checkout I just happened to have the right money.

      …”Are religious people more generous? For a start, you have answered your own question by quoting research that shows they are – you just don’t like the apparent motivation.”…

      There is no proof that religious people are more generous than others unless you ignore extra criteria, ignoring extra criteria is unscientific. Example: 9 out of 10 cats prefer this cat food. This sounds good until you hear that they were offered the choice between cat food and nettles, once you have that extra information you stop thinking that “the cat food must be wonderful for cats” and instead ask why a cat would choose nettles – you see? Details are clearly important.

      Your links:
      1. churchleaders.com – poll by the Barna Group – The Barna Group provides research and training for churches. I am sceptical about their motives and suspect that this is not a balanced survey. Additionally it says: “From ’00 to ’04, an average of 84¢ out of every $1 donated by born-again adults went to churches. Since ’05, that proportion has declined to just 76¢.” – So they aren’t giving to random charities they are helping those within their own communities.

      2. huffingtonpost.com – “Churches are among the organizations counted as charities by the study” – Religious people give money to their church, not really a shock.

      3. smh.com – “An atheist who comes to church to support her partner will rate as well as any believer on these scores.” So it isn’t being religious that is important, it is being involved in a community.

      4. usnews.com – “Faith is less important than communities of faith,” Again it appears that in friendly or close-knit communities people are more generous.

      5. is a repeat of 3, I suspect it was accidentally added.

      All these studies show is that communities are the key, not that having a belief in God is the key. You attempted to refute this in your comment regarding usanews.com, but it is clear that all these studies are showing this, not just one. I believe it is you that has failed to understand the evidence provided rather than, as you assert, the researchers.

      …”The Bible does not condone slavery or child labour. Rather it reports life in a culture where this existed.”…

      No point arguing this, I’ll just link you to the proof: http://Godisimaginary.com/i13.htm

      …”And do you really not understand that it was Christians who fought long and hard to end slavery? “…

      And do you not understand that there were other people, of all religions and none, who also wanted to end slavery? Are you saying there were no Christians who supported slavery and wanted to keep it? Claiming this as something which Christians were responsible for is either deluded or a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.

      Finally, on the subject of whether Christians do good out of fear or love. I came to my conclusion that Christians do good out of fear because their God threatens those who refuse to worship him and do as he says. This is a description of an abusive relationship and cannot be compared to doing good because you love something where there would be no consequences of not doing good.

  13. I come here for an intelligent conversation about the BBC an I find that another Dawkins Drone has diverted the thread completely (is there a factory where these things are produced?). For **** sake Karl, drop the ridiculous “we can be as good as you without a god” nonsense and the related “religion causes evil” canard. You embarrass me as an atheist.

    While you’re at it Karl, stop pointlessly quoting Steven Weinberg as if he were some enlightened guru. Simply put, “human dignity” does not actually exist. “Good” does not exist. “Evil” does not exist. There is only subjective goal setting (if even that). Nothing is actually wrong because there’s no objective standard.

    I would like to apologize to the posters here and assure you that we are not all (frankly) ignorant Secular Humanist fundamentalists. In fact, I for one find it amusing (and depressing) how religious some of my fellow irreligious are about their alleged irreligion.

    1. Robert,

      If you had actually looked properly you would have noted that I simply replied to the ridiculousness, I didn’t create it. I started by commenting about how the BBC researcher should not have needed to have read the Bible as she was a researcher and not an expert. I then commented about why the BBC probably chose not to include religion in their science programmes.

      I am sure you mean well and want to try and convince theists that atheists are nice fuzzy people, but not all of us are, some of us have put up with the sort of half truths and generalisations shown on this page for so long that we have given up trying to politely correct people and now just state the facts as they are without the pretence.

      wrt quoting Weinberg: When a quotation is right, its right. It doesn’t matter who said it.

      Now, what has happened is that rather than add to the topic you have derailed it entirely by talking about me and whilst I am as interested in self improvement as most people I feel it would be better if you returned to one of the topics being discussed.

      If you wish to continue discussing me, feel free, I wont respond to it as it isn’t furthering the conversation. It is merely an ad hominem attack.

  14. Oh yes, it’s all my fault really Karl. I derailed it with my one post calling you on your bullshit and it had nothing to do at all with the half-dozen increasingly arrogant and irrelevant posts you dropped before me. All of which could have been neutralized by some humility.

    I am not trying to “convince theists that atheists are nice fuzzy people”, I am trying to maintain some intellectual honesty here. I am trying to demonstrate that we actually critique our own positions, listen to their counter-arguments and treat them as I would like mine treated. They have some reasonable points and I am willing to entertain them so long as they entertain mine. That is the spirit of free-thinking. It is not free-thinking to put your fingers in your ears and respond to some bastardized version of the argument they have given.

    Perhaps the difference between us is that I do not see these people and their individual variations of theism as walking, talking stereotypes which need to conform to my frankly shallow expectations of how Religion should behave. You see, I and many other atheists actually *shock* read and reply to their (that is, the individual believer’s) position as they state it and don’t just sit on my ass eating nachos and playing the angry skeptic (carefully selecting the points I can respond to from my copy of ‘God is not Great’ ).

    Lets take a look at this mechanic in action shall we? For example, Kandiah posted the following above:

    “‘I am attempting to show you the light’ is an interesting turn of phrase, you are aware that comes from the Bible I am sure. But it shows you do believe in something called truth.

    – you mention “psychopaths and child molestors” – which seems to indicate you have a moral sense as well

    I have yet to hear a convincing argument from an atheist how to account for either truth or morality.”

    A fair point for a theist to make and a reasonable response. I’ll be honest and admit that ‘morality’ is not possible in that sense under naturalism. There is no objective right and wrong. Fair point. Your response Karl? To babble on about his throw away comment regarding the phrase “show you the light”. I tell you, I face-palmed so bloody hard I nearly left a dent in my forehead. I’m glad you like facts Karl, I only wish you could string them together into a cogent argument.

    1. dear troll,

      go back and read the bit where I explain how as a social species we procreate better because of morality and the link I provided.

      Now I am double face-palming because of your arrogance and unwillingness to read my replies.

      First you call me Dawkins Drone and then you suggest I am using a copy of a Hitchens book to for my replies. Whilst I admire both, the answer is neither, but I am quietly pleased that you think my replies are coming from such great men when they are in fact coming from within my own head.

      1. Karl, you have done absolutely nothing to address the ontological foundations of morality and have simply, it appears, provided a superficial humanist gloss.

        The problem is that morals are not OBJECTIVELY real. You make a huge assumption that there is some morality in the universe; but there isn’t. You can’t measure it, it doesn’t have substance, and there is no god in which to embed it. What you *can* have are subjective goals: primates for instance have goals, not morals. Sometimes conflicting goals, but in the end there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” moral behavior on their part (to assign “right” or “wrong” to such things is to make an absolute out of a relative). The same goes for us.

        As a result we cannot claim the high ground on this issue, but instead must act with a modicum of humility.

        If you agree with me on this, all is peachy, but I get the impression from your existing posts that you seriously believe that there is actually “good” and “bad” in the universe; something which Krish picked up on in the aforementioned quote.

        Regarding Dawkins and the late Hitchens (as well as Harris, who also attempts and fails to ground morality objectively), I sincerely hope you read more widely than that pool of thought. If you want a popular level book, I could recommend Alex Rosenberg’s “Atheist’s Guide to Reality” as a more reliable and philosophically sophisticated tome on which to base one’s thought.

  15. Hi Karl

    The frustrations you describe in debating with theists are no different to those we experience debating with atheists. Your world is our world too. Faced with the same set of circumstances there are two different sets of behaviour, which is why I am so intrigued that it tends to be the atheists who have the hissy fits.

    It also interests me as to why it is the atheists who are the most proactive. If you are so frustrated by the exchanges you have had why even bother – including to enter this debate and in such a strident way? After all, if you are as right as you believe you are – and life is just one big cosmic accident – then nothing really matters, as has been clearly stated by big-brained atheists time and again.

    However, this is just a side issue!

    Regarding ‘God and slavery’ and ‘Killing in Northern Ireland’, if you are right then this would mean nothing more than that God is not as nice as we would like him to be and that some of those who believe in him do very bad things.

    As for Russell’s Teapot, let me make my case more clearly and thank you for the help you have given me in this. As you say, ‘It should be clear that if someone makes an extraordinary claim they are the ones who have to provide evidence for it.’ Absolutely. And your word ‘evidence’ is important here because that is all anyone can offer on the ‘God or no God’ debate. To expect proof is beyond reason. Rather it is the weight of evidence on which we will make our judgment.

    So what is the ‘extraordinary claim’ that demands evidence? It is that something as complex as the first self-replicating molecule – vastly more complex than Stonehenge or a 747 airplane – could come into being as the result of no more than chance. You are claiming that it could and, by your own argument, you need to provide evidence that this could be possible.

    As for ‘who made God?’ Please!! If you have been debating this stuff as long as you say you have, you know it is no harder to believe ‘something’ outside time and space is required to bring ‘something out of nothing’ than to believe something can come out of nothing all by itself.

    I’m sticking with my ‘it just happened’ because that is exactly what Dawkins is saying – and atheists claim. Of course he’s saying he doesn’t know how it just happened. But that is the heart of it. If there was no outside help then a series of massive coincidences ‘just happened’ to create all that now is. By the way, I love it when he and others speak of ‘the laws of physics and chemistry’ as though such precision and consistency really could be the outcome of total randomness.

    Then we come to your ‘There is no proof that religious people are more generous than others unless you ignore extra criteria, ignoring extra criteria is unscientific.’

    For a start, it was you who first provided the proof of the value of religious people. The research you introduced said clearly ‘After analysing three decades of research, scientists say religion encourages individuals to be more helpful, honest and generous’. Moreover, I cited additional research that supported what you had provided. You know that any advertising based on your cat food claim would be exposed as would any falsified research. So no help there for you.

    Having established the fact we need to look at your argument to try to negate it. Though even if you were to be right it would still be true that the more people are genuinely religious the better society is.

    Your conclusion is ‘All these studies show is that communities are the key, not that having a belief in God is the key.’ Of course you would be right if those identified as being more generous with their time and talents were the only ones in society who were part of a community. But that is not the case. Vast numbers of those who don’t find their community in the context of a church are still part of closely linked communities – Rotary Club, sports club, the Masons, health and fitness club, Scouts and Guides, choirs and bands, bird watchers, fishing clubs, ramblers, British Legion, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    So it can’t simply be the membership of a community alone that is influencing greater levels of generosity and social service. Indeed, by your own argument you have pointed to the difference it makes to be part of a church community in respect of the way people behave. And please note that the research you introduced did not just cover ‘money’ but that if was about people being ‘more helpful, honest and generous’.

    Finally, can I say I do understand why you so wrongly assumed Christians did good things out of fear, if your only perspective on the God we believe in is that he ‘threatens those who refuse to worship him and do as he says’. It sounds to me as though you have not read much of what Jesus had to say about God and living life to the full.

    1. “..It also interests me as to why it is the atheists who are the most proactive…”
      Most of us are proactive in order to try and combat the nonsense put out by others and to try and further the knowledge of our fellow man. We know of the dark ages and don’t wish us to return to them by having people believe myths over science.

      “..So what is the ‘extraordinary claim’ that demands evidence? It is that something as complex as the first self-replicating molecule – vastly more complex than Stonehenge or a 747 aeroplane – could come into being as the result of no more than chance. You are claiming that it could and, by your own argument, you need to provide evidence that this could be possible. ..”
      Actually, I do not need to provide evidence and the reason why is simple: I do not know how it happened. I am not inventing a cause for it, like a god or aliens or magic, I simply do not know. We have theories as to why it occurred but we freely admit we have no evidence for them. The leading theory is that the right chemicals came together under the right conditions and enabled it to happen ‘by chance’.

      By Chance: This is a very interesting phrase which you seem to misunderstand. I saw your reference to a 747 and I am assuming you are using it from the “747 assembled in a scrap yard during a hurricane” argument? This is another watchmaker fallacy and I will attempt to explain why:

      When we are discussing the evolution of species and we use the term ‘chance’ it is misleading. Most people think of chance in terms of infinite monkeys typing on keyboards for and infinite amount of years could reproduce the works of Shakespeare (infinite monkey theorem) that would be complete blind chance and isn’t how nature works. Evolution uses a survival of the fittest model, that is; something which benefits is more likely to be carried to future generations than something which is detrimental. Examples: Trees in a forest, a tree that can grow taller and reach the canopy and therefore get more sunlight is more successful and it will pass that successful gene through its own seeds. It will survive longer and thus produce more seeds (future generations) Or, another tree may be more successful by being able to optimise its poorer sunlight exposure and not need to reach the canopy, it’s gene will be passed forward too. Or, a tree may produce a berry which is slightly tastier than others around it, it will get eaten by more birds which will spread its seed more than others around it. So the next generation is not relying on ‘blind chance’ as such, it is relying on blind chance along with selectiveness that allows those which do well to continue and those that do less well to perish. Evolution is extremely cruel, but it is known to be true and has been proven as fact. This cannot be compared to the infinite monkey theorem as that involves no selection at all. In the same way we cannot compare it to a hurricane blowing through a scrap yard and assembling an aircraft as that too never involves any selection.

      We do not know how the first self replicating molecules came into being, in the same way we didn’t even know about DNA just a few decades ago, but we do know how evolution works and we know that each successful generation can impact the next just as unsuccessful ones tend not to impact the next generation (as they don’t get to replicate/reproduce or they do so at an inferior rate to their competitors and eventually die out) Now, it is perfectly plausible that a simple chemical reaction or a series of such reactions can have caused a chemical chain to have been ‘built’, again this is not ‘blind chance’ – chemicals work in known ways and follow known paths. This would have led to tiny increments of improvement in some chemical chains until a very simple molecule was ‘created’ that was able to self replicate.

      You can see an interesting explanation of some of this here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

      “..As for ‘who made God?’ Please!! If you have been debating this stuff as long as you say you have, you know it is no harder to believe ‘something’ outside time and space is required to bring ‘something out of nothing’ than to believe something can come out of nothing all by itself…”

      None of what I posted the above requires any special pleading or circular reasoning. I didn’t have to invent any external cause for it, or make any assumptions which were not based on what we know and can prove in the world around us. There were no external forces at work. And whilst it may not be as simple as saying ‘god did it’ it is in fact far more elegant a solution as we don’t need to explain what created that god. I have never said ‘something out of nothing’ as you claim but you are saying that there is ‘something which is outside of time and space’. I have, very briefly, shown how the scientific model works, you are unable to show how the ‘something which is outside of time and space’ can possibly work as you believe that everything that is created requires a creator (except your special creator!?)

      “…I love it when he and others speak of ‘the laws of physics and chemistry’ as though such precision and consistency really could be the outcome of total randomness….”
      Another popular misconception by theists. No one said that the laws which the universe obeys are random. The reason we perceive the universe as it is, is due to the laws, not the other way around.

      “…You know that any advertising based on your cat food claim would be exposed as would any falsified research. So no help there for you. …”
      It was an example of what we should be looking at and was in reply to your wish to ignore the extra evidence that had been provided which stated that: religious people are more generous BUT only to others in their own religion and to their church. You wanted to ignore everything after the ‘BUT’.

      The rest of your argument on this matter is clearly biased towards supporting the one side of the evidence that bolsters your opinion but ignoring that side of it which doesn’t.

  16. Karl

    It has been a long time since I have encountered someone who so misrepresents or distorts what I have said. You are to be congratulated.

    Of course, from your other posts I can see you regard only atheists as having evidence to be trusted and the rest of us are just doing propaganda. Which means whatever I say is irrelevant anyway! However, for the record –

    You have ignored my question as to why atheists have hissy fits when theists, experiencing the same frustrations, tend not to. I’ll take it you accept this as fact and have no explanation for it.

    So the reason you don’t need to provide evidence as to how something as complex as the first self-replicating molecule come into being as the result of no more than chance, is that you do not know how it happened. LOL. You are saying something totally contrary to everything we scientifically know and with no more than your ‘I don’t know how’ as supporting evidence. Try that in a court of law sometime. Since when has ignorance been a reason for not providing evidence of something you state, with absolute certainly, happened?!

    In your post you have introduced the subject of evolution – though I note you only illustrate about evolution within species and not between species. However, neither have been part of anything I have posted and play no part in any argument of mine. This is because the issue of the first self-replicating molecule is quite separate from what happened from there on in. Indeed, the fact/theory of evolution is irrelevant. You will tell me it could have happened without the need for God and I’ll agree it ‘could have’. But that doesn’t mean it did and neither of us has much to offer by way of evidence that would impress the other.

    You say ‘None of what I posted above requires any special pleading or circular reasoning . . . . . . . or make(s) any assumptions which were not based on what we know and can prove in the world around us’. So you don’t think ‘I don’t know’ is special pleading? Or the fact that we can prove from the world around us that complex design always, always, always, involves a designer is not ‘what we know and can prove’?

    It is true you have never used the words ‘something out of nothing’ but this is exactly what atheists state as their belief based on science, which long ago ditched ‘continuous state’. Do you believe something different to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc? As for you showing how the scientific model worked, the only scientific model involved in my argument relates to where the first self-replicating molecule came from – and you have said you don’t know.

    You say that ‘No one said that the laws which the universe obeys are random’ – and totally miss my point. If you read me with care you should understand I did not say they did. Rather, I was pointing out that atheists are wanting us to believe that highly complex and consistent laws were birthed out of random chaos.

    You state that your cat food ‘was in reply to (my) wish to ignore the extra evidence that had been provided which stated that: religious people are more generous BUT only to others in their own religion and to their church’.

    This is the second time you have added your own assumptions into the research that is before us. The first time you wrongly claimed Christians only did good out of fear, when the research revealed no such thing. This time you are inventing that this goodness was ‘only to others in their own religion and to their church’ – yet the research said nothing of the sort. It seems to me it is always going to be hard for you to see objective truth if you keep colouring it with your own presuppositions in this way.

    As a result, you have deeply misrepresented the research findings as to the behavior of religious people. Let me quote, for at least the third time, what it actually said – ‘After analysing three decades of research, scientists say religion encourages individuals to be more helpful, honest and generous’. There is absolutory nothing here or elsewhere about ‘their own religion or church’. You may assume it to be true but there is nothing in the research to support you. And are you really wanting to claim the reference to being ‘helpful and honest’ is not about 24/7 and only happens when they are meeting together on Sundays?

    It is no surprise to me that the research makes no such claim. This is because I spend much of my time helping Christian charities raise money to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest people – help freely given to those of all faiths and none. I have seen millions of pounds raised from church people who want to do no more than help others, way beyond their church and without anyone knowing or them getting any publicity or reward.

    As for why this might be and my ignoring the ‘but’, I responded fully to this in my last post. You gave the justification that it was not religion but community that made the difference. I pointed out it is not just religious people who are part of communities, so this could not be the case. And you have ignored the argument. To quote your own words ‘on this matter (you are) clearly biased towards supporting the one side of the evidence that bolsters your opinion but ignoring that side of it which doesn’t.’

    So shall we leave it there? The reality is that we both work from a faith position. Mine is that science can be trusted and admired, that it points to a creator outside of time and space and that there is a mass of other evidence I and others have investigated at depth and for centuries that suggests a creator God as its best explanation.

    Meanwhile, your faith position is that although you don’t yet know how, everything inert and living came into being all by itself. This is a perfectly respectable position to hold as long as you realise it is based on faith (or wishful thinking) and not science – giving you no right to point fingers at others who you regard, wrongly, as being less scientific than you.

    Happy days.

    1. “…It has been a long time since I have encountered someone who so misrepresents or distorts what I have said. You are to be congratulated…”

      Nice try but I haven’t misrepresented you. It appears though that you don’t understand a lot of the arguments you make have already been refuted, so it’s possible that you think what you are saying makes sense.

      “…You have ignored my question as to why atheists have hissy fits when theists, experiencing the same frustrations, tend not to. I’ll take it you accept this as fact and have no explanation for it….”

      No, I explained it to you. You choose to ignore the thrust of my argument with a comeback that said “The frustrations you describe in debating with theists are no different to those we experience debating with atheists. ” which proves beyond any doubt whatsoever that my explanation went over your head.

      I used the explanation of a Terry Prattchet book in the hope you would see that people who claim and old book is a valid basis for a belief system are not being rational. This is what most theists do (especially Christians and the other major faiths) Trying to say you experience the same problem as the one I described is delusional. I didn’t read about atheism in any book and whilst I had decided that there was no god when in my late teens I wasn’t aware of other atheists until my late 20’s, so I wasn’t taught to be an atheist either.

      “…So the reason you don’t need to provide evidence as to how something as complex as the first self-replicating molecule come into being as the result of no more than chance, is that you do not know how it happened. LOL. You are saying something totally contrary to everything we scientifically know and with no more than your ‘I don’t know how’ as supporting evidence. Try that in a court of law sometime. Since when has ignorance been a reason for not providing evidence of something you state, with absolute certainly, happened?!…”

      Do you not understand that one of the most scientific and intellectual things anyone can say is “I don’t know”? Really?

      I did not state “with absolute certainly” anything which I had previously mentioned was unknown to me. Lets examine what I said shall we, it was: “We do not know how the first self replicating molecules came into being,…” – now where I come from that is a deliberate admission of not knowing something. I went on to say “Now, it is perfectly plausible that …” again, not a statement of fact, just that it is plausible, its possible, it could have happened. We do not know for certain but what I said is one of the leading, if not the leading theory.

      “…In your post you have introduced the subject of evolution – though I note you only illustrate about evolution within species and not between species. However, neither have been part of anything I have posted and play no part in any argument of mine. This is because the issue of the first self-replicating molecule is quite separate from what happened from there on in. Indeed, the fact/theory of evolution is irrelevant. You will tell me it could have happened without the need for God and I’ll agree it ‘could have’. But that doesn’t mean it did and neither of us has much to offer by way of evidence that would impress the other….”

      Actually, I referenced your 747 claim from a previous post. I started by refuting the “747 created in a hurricane” nonsense and went on to explain why it was a really stupid thing to compare with evolution, which is what you had hinted at (feel free to explain why else you would mention a 747 of all things – I deliberately ignored your reference to Stonehenge which is also another Intelligent Design favourite and also complete BS.)

      “…You say ‘None of what I posted above requires any special pleading or circular reasoning . . . . . . . or make(s) any assumptions which were not based on what we know and can prove in the world around us’. So you don’t think ‘I don’t know’ is special pleading? Or the fact that we can prove from the world around us that complex design always, always, always, involves a designer is not ‘what we know and can prove’?…”

      It appears you don’t know what special pleading is. Have a read of this: http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/164-special-pleading

      A good example of special pleading is “everything needs a creator except my god”. Saying “I don’t know” or even “I don’t know, but our theory is…” is not special pleading and it makes you look foolish to try and suggest it is.

      “…It is true you have never used the words ‘something out of nothing’ but this is exactly what atheists state as their belief based on science, which long ago ditched ‘continuous state’. Do you believe something different to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc?…”

      Another mistake that theists make is thinking that all atheists must believe something. Firstly, Atheism is a belief system in the same way that “Not collecting stamps” is a hobby. Please go back and reread that just to be sure you got it, it is crucial to understanding atheism.

      Asking if I believe something different to an evolutionary biologist, a journalist and a neuroscientist is a hell of a question. The answer is, quite simply, yes and no. My main difference from any of them is that I am more drawn to a lesser theory on the universe know as Multiverse or the Bubble Universe Theory, I wont go into detail as I don’t think it is necessarily relevant, but here is a youtube link regarding it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcXg3pRyucc

      “…As for you showing how the scientific model worked, the only scientific model involved in my argument relates to where the first self-replicating molecule came from – and you have said you don’t know…”

      I said I don’t know BUT and went on to explain the leading theory on why it happened. And I provided a link for you. I shall explain it again…

      As I said before: a simple chemical reaction or a series of such reactions can have caused a chemical chain to have been ‘built’, again this is not ‘blind chance’ – chemicals work in known ways and follow known paths. This would have led to tiny increments of improvement in some chemical chains until a very simple molecule was ‘created’ that was able to self replicate.

      See, you are the one who is misrepresenting me, not the other way around. You are only telling a small part that you are interested in (where I said “I don’t know”) and completely ignoring the explanation of what the leading theory is. You asked before why we get so frustrated/antagonistic towards theists, it is because you are ignorant, that is: you are shown something and you ignore it.

      “…You say that ‘No one said that the laws which the universe obeys are random’ – and totally miss my point. If you read me with care you should understand I did not say they did. Rather, I was pointing out that atheists are wanting us to believe that highly complex and consistent laws were birthed out of random chaos…”

      And you are missing my point where I explained why this is. It is the laws that govern the universe that have caused it to take the shape it has, it is not the chaos it came from that created those laws. You seem to think that the laws could somehow be different, that isn’t possible for the universe we are a part of. I am sorry that you aren’t able to understand this and I am sorry that I cannot explain it to you so you do understand it. Maybe researching Bubble Universe Theory would help you.

      “…You state that your cat food ‘was in reply to (my) wish to ignore the extra evidence that had been provided which stated that: religious people are more generous BUT only to others in their own religion and to their church’.

      This is the second time you have added your own assumptions into the research that is before us. The first time you wrongly claimed Christians only did good out of fear, when the research revealed no such thing. This time you are inventing that this goodness was ‘only to others in their own religion and to their church’ – yet the research said nothing of the sort. It seems to me it is always going to be hard for you to see objective truth if you keep colouring it with your own presuppositions in this way…”

      Well, here we go again. I looked at the links you provided, they all said the same thing regarding the community, I didn’t select those links, you did. I cannot help it if your links don’t show what you thought they did. Go back and read them again untel you understand that they are saying that its the community aspect that appears to be important. The research you showed neither confirms nor refutes my claim that Christians only do good out of fear, I explained why I think it is true and you have not been able to refute that either. Worshipping something so as you go to heaven when the alternative is hell is the same as an abusive relationship. It is worth noting that most people in abusive relationships deny they are in an abusive relationships until they manage to escape them, some never escape.

      I just googled for Abusive Relationship and picked the 3rd link I saw. Have a read of this and see how many you tick with your God: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/wendy-kay/avoid-abusive-relationship-15-signs-abuser-expert

      Those I think refer as much to Christians and their God as they do to a couple:
      – 1. He pushes for quick involvement. He comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this before by anyone.” You get pressured for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
      – 3. He is controlling. He interrogates you intensely about who you talked to and where you were; checks mileage on the car; keeps all the money or asks for receipts; insists you ask for permission to go anywhere or do anything.
      – 4. He has very unrealistic expectations. He expects you to be the perfect person and meet their every need.
      – 6. He blames others for his own mistakes. The boss, family, you – it’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.
      – 7. He makes everyone else responsibile for their feelings. The abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of “I’m angry.” “I wouldn’t get so pissed off if you wouldn’t…
      – 8. There is hypersensitivity. He Is easily insulted and will often rant and rave about injustices that are just part of life.
      – 9. He is cruel to animals and children. He kills or punishes animals brutally. He also may expect children to do things beyond their ability, or tease them until they cry.
      – 14. He has a past of battering. He admits to hitting women in the past, but states that they or the situation brought it on.
      – 15. There are threats of violence. He makes statements such as, “I’ll break your neck,” but then dismisses it with “I really didn’t mean it.”

      And that’s just the obvious ones. Before you berate me for my choice of website, I just picked one at random and it backs up what I say.

      “…As a result, you have deeply misrepresented the research findings…”

      I am not even responding to this nonsense. You clearly want to read something into ‘your research’ which wasn’t there. I used the sites YOU chose. I read them all, I quoted from them and now you call me a liar.

      “…Meanwhile, your faith position is that although you don’t yet know how, everything inert and living came into being all by itself. This is a perfectly respectable position to hold as long as you realise it is based on faith (or wishful thinking) and not science – giving you no right to point fingers at others who you regard, wrongly, as being less scientific than you…”

      As I said before: Atheism is a faith like “Not collecting stamps” is a hobby. You clearly do not understand this so you try and force your system of belief onto others. It is also extremely doubtful that you understand anything about science, as I tried to explain to you before “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid scientific answer as it leads you to look at where the evidence points you. This is the opposite of ‘faith’ where you must believe what you are told.

      1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Again.

        If you don’t want me replying then just say so, preventing me from replying to the nonsense of others just shows the weakness of their/your position.

        1. To quote Voltaire, who sits sort of in the middle of the different views here,
          “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
          We disagree with each other Karl, I respect your view although I don’t share it. Please do the same.

        2. Hi Karl, I read a little mor of your postings and find I have to wholeheartedly disagree that we as humans seek truth and follow a moral code because it is to our advantage, yes we live in a global society where social niceties and thoughtfulness of others helps us co exist and propagate the species but no! Loving witching a moral code inhibits us, if I had no truth or moral code I would simply kill my neighbour and steal his BMW, I would rape his beautiful wife and steal all his belongings making me richer, as I am 6′ 4” tall and weigh in at 18.5 stone and know how to handle myself, I doubt that my neighbour could do squat to stop me. Do no, it is not beneficial for us to live within a moral code at all, we do do because as Gods creation we are designed intrinsically to posess a spence of ethics unless we are psychopaths who simply are not born with a correctly wired brain. Highlight one example where it is beneficial to us as individuals to live within a code if morality.

  17. You have not answered my question Karl, many people who are successful at commerce and run multimillion pound companies are often said to be ‘ruthless ‘ they are more successful as a result of the bending if their morale code and ethics, the inventor of the Dyson for example, a brilliant inventor and successful business man, but despite his achievement decided in order to make even more money and increase his profit margins moved his manafacturing base abroad do he could use cheaper labour and showed no loyalty or concern for the hundred of brittish employees who lost their jobs….he allowed his morale compass to sway for the sake of money, I respect his decision but my point is, as a society we do not follow a morale code because as you suggest it is in our best interest to do so, clearly screwing over your fellow man without care or regard for ethics or moral boundaries is more to our advantage than sticking to our morals. So sorry you still fail to give me an example where morality and ethical boundries is ‘ an advantage’
    With respect to animal morality I find this just daft, an animal will always recovery back to its base instinct when pressed to do so, without restraint or reason or internal debate they don’t think of a none aggressive verbal resolution to conflict how many lions have you witnessed simply negotiatin over territory ??? They rip each other apart. Humanity is the only species that will forgo an action through fear of consequence, our whole society around the globe us held together by a faith based code of ethics, I think the question Krish was asking was, if you do not believe that any God exist where exactly does your morality originate?

    You are a bright man and you appear to some what respond to logic, have you ever read ‘Pascal’s wager’ ? What do you think to his logic?

    1. It’s interesting that you pick James Dyson as your example. He is, as far as I am aware, a Catholic – if I am correct then doesn’t that debase your argument that religion gives you a moral code?

      Aside from that, capitalism is in itself immoral, it encourages people to be greedy which leads people into buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have – and others to take advantage of their fellow man in the pursuit of collecting as many small pieces of (often green) paper as they can. I feel this is a political discussion though and outside the focus of our discussion.

      However, we could all pick out a list of people who have done things which could be considered immoral or against the greater good – and I am sure they would cross the lines between all religions and none, this suggests that morality isn’t connected with being religious but it something else instead.

      “…So sorry you still fail to give me an example where morality and ethical boundries is ‘ an advantage’…”

      I am not sure what you are asking for, but I shall attempt an answer anyway. Quite simply, we treat others as we would like to be treated. I wouldn’t want to be raped or murdered so I find the thought of such actions on my fellow man to be abhorrent and as such I wouldn’t commit such acts. This is an inbuilt morality which has served us well since before we were apes, much less ‘intelligent’ apes.

      Most of us can see evidence of this when we hear of terrible things done by others, our natural reaction is to flinch away or feel unsettled or even sick. This is the thing on which we base our morals and inevitably our law. That which we don’t want done to us we shouldn’t do to others – this is slightly different to the ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, but means roughly the same thing. This is the Golden Rule and documented evidence for it predates Christianity by at least 1500 years as it was something believed in by the Babylonians and ancient Egyptians, amongst others. cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule#Ancient_Babylon

      “…With respect to animal morality I find this just daft, an animal will always recovery back to its base instinct when pressed to do so…”

      Whether you find it daft or not is irrelevant, it is well documented and not just via the link I showed you. And as for ‘reverting to type’ the very same thing could be said for humans, the fight or flight instinct is also well documented and understood to be a base instinct.

      “…how many lions have you witnessed simply negotiatin over territory ??? They rip each other apart….”
      First of all, I didn’t say that all animals were moral all the time. I guess I should have been more specific so as you couldn’t cherry pick an animal and instance that showed where something could be considered immoral. I think most animals fight, especially humans (religious or otherwise) and especially over territory. In a pride of lions the main fighting that goes on is to choose who will lead that pride, this is considered to be for the benefit of the pride as the strongest leader will make the pride stronger. So their fighting, in that case, does the most good for the majority of the pride and could in many respects be considered moral given the surroundings in which they live.

      However, there are far better examples of when animals help others even when they don’t benefit themselves. Including many instances of where animals will raise offspring that aren’t related to them. This link may help you explore this: http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/cooperation-conflict-and-the-evolution-of-complex-13236526

      “… have you ever read ‘Pascal’s wager’ ? What do you think to his logic?…”

      I have and I think it’s daft, for the following reasons:
      1. It assumes there is one religion to follow, there isn’t. There are many major and minor religions, so even if you wished to follow what he said you would then have the conundrum of discovering the one true religion, as all religions claim they are the one true religion this would be an impossible task.
      2. It makes the assumption that if there were a God that he wouldn’t be all knowing, for if he were all knowing then he would know you only followed the religion based on that wager.
      3. You cannot believe in something which you are convinced doesn’t exist, so for me it would be an impossible task to undertake, kind of an extension of #2
      4. Imagine if you picked the wrong God and there was another God or something else that ruled the universe, it would be quite possible that you could upset that other entity by worshipping a false/wrong god, this could put you in a worse position in any afterlife than an atheist who worshipped nothing.
      5. Any loving and caring god wouldn’t be bothered about whether or not you believed in him, so to believe achieves nothing.
      6. Any intelligent god would expect people to question his existence and after weighing up the lack of evidence for their existence to reject it. It is also possible that such a god would prefer to have people who had rationally rejected him that to have blind followers.
      I am sure that given time I could think of more objections to it. I am equally sure that many theists would agree with one or more points that I have made above, especially point 2.

  18. Well friends thank you for these comments. We didn’t really stick to the theme of the post. But we did have an interesting discussion. Thanks to Karl for taking the time to express his opinions. I don’t think we are getting anywhere constructive. So I have decided to close the comments.

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