Friday, February 03, 2017

Ricky Gervais explains atheism

Watch Ricky Gervais explain atheism to Stephen Colbert. I like his explanation of the difference between science and religion. In fact, I like it so much I'm going to embellish it a bit and present it here ...

Imagine what would happen after a giant meteor strike that wipes out everyone except for a small native tribe in the Andes that had no contact with other people before the apocalypse. All books and all knowledge will be destroyed.

Ten thousand years later there will be science books and they'll be pretty much the same as the ones we have now because people will simply rediscover the basic truths of nature. There might be religious books but they won't be anything like the holy books we have now because the people will have invented entirely new gods. That's the difference between science and religion.



57 comments :

  1. Watch Ricky Gervais explain atheism to Stephen Colbert. I like his explanation of the difference between science and religion. In fact, I like it so much I'm going to embellish it a bit and present it here ...

    This is a great idea Larry!

    Actually, I have to admit I liked what both sides said there. I hope you can capture it...

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    1. You know that Colbert's religiosity is parody, don't you?
      (Great example of Poe's law.)

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    2. Actually, Colbert is legitimately religious. Catholic, I believe. There have been several occasions in the past when he's dropped his uber-conservative parody character and spoken about his faith.

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  2. Amen, Ricky...I, too, believe in only 1 god less than Christians/Muslims/Jews. Maybe there is hope for our younger generations?

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    1. Faith is an extremely high-risk investment. It will depend on what young people invest in.

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    2. I agree that it's high risk. If there are 3000 gods your chances of picking the wrong one are very high. Do you really want to piss off the correct god if you make a mistake?

      Better to side with none of them just to be sure.

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    3. I don't know where the 3000 number comes from.

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    4. It should be many millions if Hinduism is included. But after watching the video, I think Cervais is just using 3000 as a conversational number.

      Colbert's Catholicism failed him when Ricky said "You say there is a God. I say, can you prove that? You say no" Any decent dispensationalist would not have let that pass.

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    5. Any decent dispensationalist would not have let that pass.

      OK, I'll bite. Go for it.

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    6. Well, to keep it as short as you'd try to do in a tv conversation, a 7th century BC record* says that Israelites would be regathered from all over the world back to a small piece of real estate on the eastern Mediterranean sea. This began to happen in the late 1800's, and continues until right now, but the official national identity was reestablished on May 15, 1947.

      That is a very small tip of a giant, detailed prophetic iceberg that begins in Genesis and ends in the Revelation, but the point is that there is only one God who can legitimately claim to be in control of human history. Prophecy is an exclusive feature of Bible-based faiths.

      *Isaiah 11:11

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    7. "circulus in probando?"

      It looks linear to me. But you have a unique fact management technique. Call yourself a winner on this one, and move on.

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    8. Harris has good reason to be frightened.

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  3. Joe: "It's a safe bet they would never invent a theory of evolution by means of blind and mindless processes."

    Neither you nor anyone else knows how to test the claim that they would never invent a theory of evolution by means of blind and mindless processes.

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  4. I don't really see why theists think "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is such a difficult question. It presumes that the existence of "nothing" is more probable than of "something/anything." That is a premise that needs to be supported, not just asserted. I'm not sure it is even possible for "nothing" to exist. "Nothing" by definition possesses no properties, so if it possesses the property of existence, can it really be "nothing"?

    If "nothing" truly existed, then one could just as easily ask "Why is there nothing instead of something?" (Except there would be no one around to ask this ,of course.)

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    1. Either the cosmos
      (1) had no beginning, or
      (2) it had a beginning.
      (1) If the cosmos had no beginning, then there must be an infinite series of past events. However, it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite. Therefore, the universe cannot be infinitely old. Besides that, If the cosmos was infinitely old, it would have reached maximum entropy a long, long, time ago. Since it has not reached maximum entropy, it cannot be infinitely old without violating the second law of thermodynamics.
      (2) If the cosmos had a beginning, then it must have come from (A) nothing or (B) something.
      2.A. Although physicists such as Krauss and Hawking talk about "the universe creating itself from nothing," they are using the word "nothing" to mean the vacuum energy, which is not a true nothing. To be more precise, being cannot emerge from non-being. That would violate the first law of thermodynamics: energy can be neither created or destroyed; it can only change form. So the cosmos did not emerge from non-being.
      2.B. If the entire cosmos came from something, that thing must transcend our cosmos, that is, it must exist beyond the limits of our space/time continuum. It must also possess more energy (power) than the total energy within our cosmos. We may call it the First Cause.

      Still waiting for you to back up why you said: "Dunning-Kruger effect is strong in this one".....

      Are you unable to finish a case study till the end ?!!

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    2. And just for satisfying your demand : No, above syllogism is not mine. I copied it from someone that posted it at Facebook.

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    3. But in the realm of the First Cause there is a dimension in which the First Cause can not exist indefinitely. Thank God (hmm) there is beyond that realm a realm in which the 0th Cause exists. It indeed has more energy than the realm of the First Cause and our Cosmos combined.

      Now send me your money cause the 0th Cause is best served that way. Amen to you, brother!

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    4. Either the god(s) ...
      (1) had no beginning or
      (2) had a beginning

      (1) If they had no beginning then they must be infinite. But it's impossible for anything to be infinite therefore god(s) had a beginning.

      (2) But if they had a beginning then they must have come from (a) something, or (b) nothing. It's silly to think they came from nothing. Therefore, they must have come from something. That something "must transcend our cosmos, that is, it must exist beyond the limits of our space/time continuum. It must also possess more energy (power) than the total energy within our cosmos. We may call it the First Cause."

      It's gods all the way down, ad infinitum.

      Either that, or there are no god(s).

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    5. Looking back to and before the Big Bang, we very quickly arrive at a limit to empirical knowledge and much reason to defend our beliefs. We can say that we understand quite a lot about the Big Bang itself, and the moment by moment evolution of the universe thereafter. The evidence for a particular sequence of events comes from a large volume of known facts and invocation of physical laws, and so there is great justification defending what we believed happened at the BB and afterwards.

      How about going back further to ask what caused the Big Bang and what might have been there before the Big Bang? Cosmologists have made a somewhat (and only somewhat) justified speculation that it was vacuum energy that was the cause of the BB and that vacuum energy was there before it. As I understand it, cosmologists propose this scenario with a modicum of very interesting evidence. But given the limited amount of facts we have on this subject, I don’t think we should vigorously carve this model into stone as it were. That is, it seems unwise to defend it against counter-proposals that may come along should they do so with the force of evidence.

      Going back even further, we next ask: What was there before vacuum energy? Here, there is no justification for defending any conclusions. So saying that vacuum energy must be closer to an origin from something beyond space and time, or is somehow closer to a First Cause is really just making a conclusion when no conclusions are warranted. That is probably human nature. We were making all kinds of nonsensical conclusions about the causes of lightning and disease before we knew what they were.

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  5. Jerry Coyne's blog ran a piece on Gervaise's appearance and my response there was very close to Larry's here. Great minds . . .

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  6. 3000 gods?

    If not counted among the 3000;

    3001-nature
    3002-random processes

    What are the odds in favor of choosing random processes?

    Just one example out many:

    The probability of a single protein molecule being arranged by chance has been calculated to be 1 in 10^161, using all atoms on earth and all time available since the beginning of the earth. It only gets worst from here.

    But hey, nothing is impossible if you want to believe it; or choose your favorite god or gods.
    But

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    1. You clearly have expended some effort in not paying attention.

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    2. Has: "The probability of a single protein molecule being arranged by chance has been calculated to be 1 in 10^161, using all atoms on earth and all time available since the beginning of the earth."

      Since nobody has suggested that this is how proteins evolved, I fail to see your point. But, if you need more straw, there is a big farmer's field behind my house.

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  7. R. Gervais did very well here, although his clever statements are extracted from others. The 'one god less' thing is of course well known, and I think the bit about humanity rebuilding science as it is while inventing completely new religions came from Richard Dawkins. At least I am sure I read it from one of his books.
    Still, he was very quick to bring them up, under the pressure of a Colbert interview. No small feat there.

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  8. "GODS AND GODDESSES

    The deities that have been and still are worshiped by the nations are human creations, the products of imperfect, “empty-headed” men, who “turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things.” (Ro 1:21-23) It is, therefore, not surprising to note that these deities mirror the very characteristics and weaknesses of their imperfect worshipers. One Hebrew term used to refer to idols or false gods literally means “valueless thing” or “worthless thing.”—Le 19:4; Isa 2:20.

    The Bible refers to Satan the Devil as “the god of this system of things.” (2Co 4:4) That Satan is the “god” there referred to is clearly indicated later in verse 4 where it says that this god “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” At Revelation 12:9 he is said to be “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” Satan’s control over the present system of things, including its governments, was indicated when he offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” in exchange for “an act of worship.”—Mt 4:8, 9.

    The worshipful adoration that men direct toward their idol-gods actually goes “to demons, and not to God.” (1Co 10:20; Ps 106:36, 37) Jehovah God requires exclusive devotion. (Isa 42:8) The one who worships an idol-god denies the true God and thus serves the interests of Jehovah’s chief Adversary, Satan, and his demons."-

    GODS AND GODDESSES

    The prevalence of worship of many gods today could be partially explained by the fact that Satan is a god of this system of things or this world (2 Co 4:4) the adversary of the true God. He is behind the majority of propaganda and the spread of false worship of the many gods in this world today.

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    1. Newbie: "The deities that have been and still are worshiped by the nations are human creations, the products of imperfect, “empty-headed” men, who “turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things."

      I assume that you count the Judeo-Christian god as the "incorruptible" God. If so, how do you account for the vain, cruel, vindictive God that is presented in the Old Testament? Or are you suggesting that only the Christian god is the one incorruptible god? You have now created two gods where one once stood. And what about the Muslim god? We best not bring of the trinity.

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    2. Newbie,

      What compelling evidence requires any of us to accept the "truth" you cite in the bible?

      Based on the fact that the bible is riddled with inconsistencies (the contradictory heresay of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and scientific errors (bats described as birds, etc.), it's useless as an informative text.

      In fact, reads more like a soap-opera...nothing more than story-telling, by a bunch of ill-informed, ignorant humans. Definitely not something a God would write.

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    3. Ah yes, Satan.

      Of course since God is all-powerful and all-knowing, everything he does is allowed and thus implicitly condoned by God.

      Perhaps God let Satan wipe out the dinosaurs? Or since they didn't have immortal souls (just like puppies don't), wiping out millions or billions of them was just another barbecue as far as Christian morality is concerned, right?

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    4. An important part of what makes the scientific method the only way of knowing that we have is that it requires that one created hypotheses that can be disproven, and then actively attempt to disprove them.

      "Newbie's" post is a perfect example of how faith fails to do so, and why it is therefore not a way of knowing. How could one disprove his hypothesis that "The prevalence of worship of many gods today could be partially explained by the fact that Satan is a god of this system of things or this world (2 Co 4:4) the adversary of the true God." How hard has Newbie tried to disprove it?

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    5. How hard has Newbie tried to disprove it?

      Indeed, how hard has Newbie thought about the moral implications of the fact that the game is rigged against this "adversary," and only what the infinitely loving, all-merciful and all-powerful God permits can come to pass? (Since if anything he did not permit came to pass, he would not be all-powerful.) Such foundations of morality are supposedly all we have to fall back on, since, y'know, science can tell us nothing about morality. (A commonly repeated and believed but untrue statement. Lots of *very* interesting research about babies' moral "compasses" has been reported that is quite enlightening.)

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  9. I'm just curious if anybody here actually listened to Richard "Ricky" Dene Gervais- an English comedian, actor, writer, producer, director, singer, and musician."

    He says that '...he is technically atheist-agnostic, but all the opposed ones are actually agnostic.' Really? I wonder why. They must have found the missing link in the origins of life theory that makes them look like a bunch of idiots who have to support their team without anything to support them with.

    I don't think I have to emphasize the failure of both religion and science in this area. Celebrates are now leading the hordes as to not only what to wear, toothpaste to use, car to drive... and so on...

    Now, they tell us what to believe. Should this be surprising?

    Oprah is one of them... Educated people with PHDs listen to her propaganda and worship her...Why? Who failed? To me both science and religion no doubt about that...

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    1. I took it that his point about being agnostic (an agnostic atheist, I think he said) was that everyone really is agnostic. No one knows about the existence (or, I would add, non-existence) of god. I think that this position is pretty much undebatable.

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    2. Atheist vs Agnostic

      I haven't found any evidence to convince me that there is 1 god , 3 thousand, or 3 million. Therefore, I am an atheist - no evidence = no belief.

      It is also true that I don't know - with absolute certainty - if there is no god, 1 god, 3 thousand, or 3 million. Therefore, I am also an agnostic (science is never certain! and that is okay with me!).

      To put it in perspective...do you believe in Santa Claus? If you don't, then you are "asantaclaustic."

      If you also reserve the possibility that there is at least some (albeit extremely small) possibility that Santa could exist (provided, there was credible evidence), then you are also "agnostic" regarding his existence.

      To identify as both is not mutually exclusive. They simply imply the nuances of a skeptical - but scientifically open - mind.

      I appreciate the cognitive dissonance this creates for the religiously indoctrinated. It is the root of your ignorance.

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    3. Marcoli,

      I agree with you. Even Larry sometimes agrees that his is an agnostic. This however doesn't change his mind about the origins of life and evolution but it makes a difference when you contemplate atheism and the brilliant minds like Larry's being corrupted by nonsense.

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    4. I have friends who are agnostic but they believe in a god. One of them is a Jesuit priest. So, you can have agnostic atheists and agnostic theists.

      For the record. Larry (me) ALWAYS agrees that he is an agnostic atheist.

      Because I don't see any evidence of gods, I look for naturalistic explanations of the origin of life. (There's no other option.)

      I don't know how life began but I don't see any evidence that it could not have happened by purely natural means. I have no need of gods to explain the origin of life.

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    5. Thank you Larry.

      Just because YOU can't seem to see any evidence for gods one would hope that a scientist of your caliber would turn to evolution just because there were no other options available... Really?


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  10. I agree. That was a very compelling argument about why science is not 'just' another religion.

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  11. I don't really like the science-religion "war". I think they have their own space on different spheres of knowledge: science, reason, faith. When a person decides that anything that is not testable with the scientific method simply does not exists, he or she is just believing it. If he or she presents this belief to others as what Science says, then others will distrust science. Science is not above reason or faith, as reason or faith should not be contradicted by science.

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    1. Federico, can you give an example of knowledge that has been obtained by faith? I don't mean things that faith claims to be able answer, but something that it has actually answered in such a way that no reasonable person would be able to deny.

      For instance, it was once not known where the sun went at night. Now, the answer to that question is something even pre-school children know, and the reason we know this is because science revealed the answer.

      What comparable piece of knowledge has faith given us?

      Science is not above reason or faith, as reason or faith should not be contradicted by science.

      Actually what that statement means is that science is above reason and faith (Though I would consider reason to be part of the scientific method.)

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    2. lutesuite, don't act as if you aren't a faithful person. You didn't exactly come to the rescue when Termimus Est was asking where enzymes come from. And you might tag along with whatever Larry thinks about natural origins of live ideas, but they are all stupid. At best, you can only choose the least stupid. Your faith is much greater than people who notice that Bible prophecies are reliable. If you could actually think for yourself instead of drinking out of the puddles your heroes have pissed in, you might actually make some progress.

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    3. lutesuite, don't act as if you aren't a faithful person. You didn't exactly come to the rescue when Termimus Est was asking where enzymes come from.

      I don't know where enzymes come from. I also don't know where my socks disappear after I put them into the dryer. I suppose the answer to that is also "Goddidit". Only, I don't recall you providing the positive evidence for that claim. Obviously, a bright fellow like yourself won't use the God of the Gaps fallacy. So could you repost that evidence for my benefit, since I seem to have overlooked it? TIA.

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    4. Oh, and one other request, txpiper. You're quite free to answer the question I put to Federico, so why not share your response.

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    5. Every so often, tx, your Christian morality really comes to the fore.

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    6. Federico, reason certainly should not be contradicted by science, if indeed it is reason and not someone's intuitive idea of what reason should be. Because reality is not limited by our "common sense" or even our imaginations, science can be surprising (think of relativity or quantum physics).

      Regarding faith, I don't think it is a realistic expectation that it cannot be contradicted by science. Do you notice that we don't see seas parting, people feeding multitudes with a few loaves and fishes, people walking on water, today, even though we have more cameras in more places than ever, and thus more opportunity to observe? Thus does reality intrude on faith in the miraculous. One can certainly continue to have faith, but to expect reality and therefore science never to intrude on it is not reasonable, it seems to me.

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    7. Your faith is much greater than people who notice that Bible prophecies are reliable.

      Oh, yes. Very, very reliable:

      http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/proph/long.html

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    8. Lutesuite, we can pick examples from the personal sphere, but I guess it won't help much in the debate. May be we feel more comfortable if we compare the scientific and reason "spheres". For example, some scientists disregard questions asked by philosophers (or just people) just because those questions cannot be tested with the scientific method. Isn't it licit to try to answer why we exist? Is there a reason? I know the scientificism answer, no need to reply. I think science is best at sticking to what it can test and answer.

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    9. For example, some scientists disregard questions asked by philosophers (or just people) just because those questions cannot be tested with the scientific method.

      The question to ask is whether any of those questions can be tested by some other method. Can they? What method? How?

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    10. As I thought, Federico. You won't even try to answer my question.

      I repeat that reason is part of the scientific method, so it makes no sense to try and oppose them.

      If people want to spend their time questioning "why" they exist, that's their business. I have no skin in that game. It would seem to me, however, that the first order of business should be to establish that there must be a reason for our existence in the first place. I'm not sure how one does that.

      I think science is best at sticking to what it can test and answer.

      Which it does, by and large. Can you provide any examples where it has not?

      I'd say that faith is also "best at sticking to what it can test and answer." But it seems there is nothing it can test and answer.

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    11. Your faith is much greater than people who notice that Bible prophecies are reliable.

      Everyone knows that people were much better off when they relied more on the Bible than they have ever been when relying on stupid old science. Who needs flush toilets, the computer and Internet tx uses to post here - say, tx, why are you using the tools of Demon Science that are prophesied nowhere in the Bible?

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  12. Isn't it licit to try to answer why we exist? Is there a reason?

    Sure, if you are interested. I understand some people are dumbfounded that anyone could not be interested in this question, but if I see no evidence of a specific purpose or reason (your second sentence that I quoted), then the answer becomes no more or less interesting than the ending of a television series: You may have an emotional investment in the answer, but to me it is fiction and has nothing to do with reality.

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  13. Lutesuite: it seems like you are trying to put me against science, which I am absolutely not. To me scientific truth is great, I love it, but it's just part of the whole story. I meant to say that I do not like scientists trying to make a war to anything that is not within the scope of science. I respect that people has that opinion, but wanted to highlight that is just that, an opinion, or a belief if you want. That's my opinion. I am not going to try to demonstrate that there is something more than what can be demonstrated, that would not be very wise.

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    1. To me scientific truth is great, I love it, but it's just part of the whole story.

      What's the rest of the story?

      I meant to say that I do not like scientists trying to make a war to anything that is not within the scope of science.

      Who does that? Give some examples so I know what you're talking about.

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