The Raving Theist

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Daily Headline

January 23, 2009 | 57 Comments


London, England, January 23, 2009
Special toThe Raving Theist

Citing the impossibility of having direct, immediate experience of another person’s consciousness, a group of solipsists is running ads on buses declaring “There Are Probably No Other Minds . . . Now Stopping Worrying and Enjoy Your Hallucinations.”

The campaign is the brainchild of Richard Dawkins, author of the self-published “The You Delusion.”

Dawkins said he got the idea from his life-long study of atheism. “Once I realized there was no proof of a higher intelligence in the universe, it struck me as a colossal leap of faith to believe that there were any other minds out there besides my own,” he said. “All of my experience of ‘them,’ however real it may seem, occurs exclusively in my head, and the fact that ‘they’ appear to exhibit signs of self-awareness similar to my own is simply another part of the same personal, subjective phenomenon.”

Dawkins added that he had long suspected that the sinful, chattering idiots by whom he found himself surrounded were too stupid to be real. He nevertheless expressed a certain affection for the amusing, imaginary creatures, even when they were bad. “Having brought them into being by the force of my will, I feel a strong, fatherly, near-infinite love for those whom I have made in my image.”


57 Responses to “Daily Headline”

  1. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

    I finally feel understood.

  2. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

    What is science then?

  3. Skeptimal
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

    “What is science then?”

    “Science” is a philosophical extension of paganism. “Logic” is the particulary type of witchraft by which this arm of paganism seeks to subvert the real truth.

    The Real Truth, on the other hand, can only be understood by ignoring the “logic” and “science” and putting unquestioning confidence in a 2000-year-old book written by barbarians who knew that the world is flat, practiced slavery, and engaged in divinely inspired genocide.

  4. Jahrta
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

    Wow, TRT – not a day goes by since your conversion that you fail to amaze me with your stupidity and baffling lack of critical reasoning skills. I weep for the loss of your mind, and pray that your family recognizes your descent into madness for what it really is.

    I hope you get the help you so obviously need.

  5. Erin
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

    Well, that’s certainly a relief.

  6. Lily
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    “Dawkins added that he had long suspected that the sinful, chattering idiots by whom he found himself surrounded were too stupid to be real. He nevertheless expressed a certain affection for the amusing, imaginary creatures, even when they were bad. “Having brought them into being by the force of my will, I feel a strong, fatherly, near-infinite love for those whom I have made in my image.”

    I am sorry for those who are offended by this post and hope I am not piling on but it, and this paragraph in particular, are pure comedy gold. Wonderful stuff, RT!

  7. Warren
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:17 pm


    It is in fact not a very big conceptual leap from Athiesm to Solipsism. That one should fail to see it is a failure of critical-reasoning on your part.

    Let us begin to disassemble what remains of your unconjectured assumptions: You assume you have a mind. You assume you have the capacity for reason. You assume (like it or not) that mind, and reason are not merely cultural artifacts, but that you really do exist, and you really do have an opinion. You may in fact not exist, and not really have an opinion. You may only think you do.

    When one starts as a first premise by doubting (as you do with God), how do you switch gears to a kind of logical positivism, without a philosophical clutch?


  8. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    Jolly, Skeptimal, and Jahrta: I don’t understand what’s so anti-science about this post. Could you explain?

  9. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

    “merely cultural artifacts”

    Aren’t those arguably the only things that are real?

  10. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

    How does a solipsist regard science? Is it our creation as well? I guess the answer is ‘yes’ Then it means there is neither metaphysical nor physical truth. Then what is there?

  11. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

    A red pill and a blue pill.

  12. Skeptimal
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    “I don’t understand what’s so anti-science about this post. Could you explain?”

    Brian… My comment was just banter, having more to do with the Christian way of thinking than this particular post. Jane had me chuckling with her response, and so I tossed in a quick jesting answer to Jolly’s question.

    And yes, I know that Christians don’t officially think that Science = paganism, but the irrational suspicion of science is what I was joking about.

  13. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

    My interpretation of the parody was not that the fictional Dawkins became an all out solipsist, but because of the lack of empirical evidence for minds he could not believe that other minds besides his own exist. The fictional Dawkins is still an empiricist – trusting that what can be measured exists – but merely holding a solipsist opinion when it comes to the existence of other minds.

    I think the parody relies on the assumption that the mind is something separate from but related to the brain. If you’re someone who believes that “mind” is just a fancy word for all the chemical reactions that happen in our brain and we only have an illusion of free will because of our current lack of technology to observe the relations between all the molecules floating around our gray matter – I can see how this might come off as an anti-science parody.

    Then again, from what I’ve been able to pick up, I think Jane falls into the former camp yet seemed to get a laugh from the parody. My apologies if I’m wrong on either account.

  14. Skeptimal
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

    UVJ: I love Black Adder.

  15. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

    Ooops that was supposed to say: Then again, from what I’ve been able to pick up, I think Jane falls into the latter camp yet seemed to get a laugh from the parody. My apologies if I’m wrong on either account.

  16. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

    Skeptimal, I think you may be beating up straw Christians. Or at the very least using a small minority to represent the whole. What is “the Christian way of thinking” about science?

  17. Skeptimal
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    “What is “the Christian way of thinking” about science?”

    I don’t actually think there is one Christian way of looking at science. What is your view of science?

  18. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    No, I don’t, but you used the phrase first – I was quoting you. In all fairness, I realize that saying Christians do X, is like saying Protestants do X. There’s no one statement that includes everybody. I’m just wondering what you think the general perception is.

    You asked for my personal views:
    Science is a wonder tool for telling us about the questions it’s able to answer. The scientific method probably allows us to definitely answer more questions about our world than other single technique. Of course not every discipline of science lends itself to the scientific method as well as physics or chemistry do. The less a particular field is able to apply the scientific method, the less certain we can be in its answers.

  19. Jahrta
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    Warren – my lack of belief in god doesn’t lead me down the road to solipsism. That you think it must shows a lack of understanding over what atheism is, and demonstrates a remarkable ability to jump to unsubstantiated conclusions regarding people you don’t know.

  20. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

    All of you! Are your minds clear? I mean with all the claims of these solipsism and philosophy of science and the fact that science has started to falsify itself every other day, I really started to think that I don’t know what to believe in. Not that I can’t live without some truth, I can, but still when I question science as much as I question metaphysical truths, I kind of feel belief and unbelief converge at some point. Here’s an example: Evolution says I may be born crippled due to my genes, DNA so forth. It is not anybody’s fault, just a mutation that goes wrong. OK, what does religion say? It’s fate. Nobody’s fault again and can’t be helped. Another ex: Free will: Evolutionists say we have free will, but that is actually shaped by a multitude of causes which are not in our control. We just use free will at the very last moment – if we’re using it at all. On the other hand, what do the religious say? God gave us free will, but he knows what we’re going to do. This means we do not have free will at all. So in either case, we do not have free will, we just think we do. (Am I being irrelevant?)

  21. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

    I know free will was discussed at length, but this is just an example to look at it from another perspective.

  22. Skeptimal
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 5:03 pm


    I would agree with the view of science you expressed in your previous comment.

    My perception of many within Bible-believing Christianity is that they have little understanding of science. Because of that, and since science has provided convincing evidence that the world was not created in seven days (nor in either of the two orders of creation listed in Genesis), these particular Christians view science like they would view an opposing political party. Unfortunately, many of these have made it into government and are obstructing research and misreporting its results.

  23. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

    Do many Christians really believe the world was literally created in 7 days? I know the ones that do get a lot of attention. I did a quick google search, but it’s hard to get a consistent answer because creationism and intelligent design are often mixed together in the answers.

    To be fair to Christians, many scientists treat science as they would an opposing political party. Just look at global warming. The politics are leading to obstruction of research and misreporting results. I think it’s just human nature.

  24. Brian Walden
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    Jolly, I don’t think science is letting you down. We just use science to answer more questions than it’s capable of. Strictly speaking, science can only definitively answer question which we can prove by the scientific method. We often use these results to propose theories to answer other questions. And I think that’s where the uncertainty comes in. A prevailing scientific theory may be supported by many scientific facts, but until the theory itself can be tested it shouldn’t be taken as, well, dogma.

    I think you’re looking to answers for the meaning of things. Science in general can’t answer the question “Why?”. That’s a job for philosophy. For example some deeper questions behind your example of the person born crippled are: Why is there suffering in the world? And why is this particular person crippled? Unfortunately metaphysical truths are much harder to answer with certainty than physical ones.

    Free will, not being a physical thing in itself, may be outside the realm of science. But we can use the scientific study of the brain to form a more accurate theory about whether or not we have free will. I think the real question isn’t whether or not we have free will but what its purpose is if we do have it. Wouldn’t it be a kicker if we indeed have free will, but it all comes down to choosing between “a red pill and a blue pill” as Jane put it?

    In fact, I think that may be what free will is really describing. If we have this magical ability called free will but what we choose doesn’t matter – I might say that we don’t really have free will. If a scientist (through mapping the brain) and God (through omniscience) can know exactly what we’ll decide, but that choice has meaning maybe we do actually have free will. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know they go beyond the scope of science.

  25. lily
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 6:35 pm

    I’d like to jump in and ask a question, here. Why is it so important that all people understand the minutiae of evolution? Millions upon millions don’t and that includes believers and unbelievers of all sorts. Yet, somehow, science has brought us to the point that we can communicate with people instantaneously all over the world. I can take medicines and undergo surgeries that cure my illnesses and prolong my life. I can buy appliances that immeasurably ease my daily life. All of this happens to billions of people every day who couldn’t pass a 7th grade biology test.

    I ask this in all seriousness. I don’t understand how my computer works. That is, I could not build one from scratch. But I can use it so well to do so many things, that it is part of my job description to teach those skills to others. Likewise, I can’t fix my car or even explain the combustion engine. But I have driven across country several times and get myself where I need to go every single day.

    A literal interpretation of Genesis is, in many ways, a modern and peculiarly American way of interpreting scripture. As I have written in many venues (maybe this one, too?), the ancients knew better. St Augustine spoke of the days of creation being “God-divided, not sun divided”. Likewise St Jerome (also early 4th century) spoke of Genesis as having been written “after the manner of a poet”. Augustine devoted a whole treatise on the perils of translation, taking metaphors literally, etc.

    As far as science is concerned, it is no accident that modern science is the gift of the Church to the west. Only the belief that the universe obeyed laws and that understanding them could help men understand the will of God, His nature and the universe better, encouraged the medieval church (and scientists were, up til the Renaissance, virtually exclusively priests and other church men) to pursue science.

    What sorts of questions drove them and still drive us today? Well, I think we might all agree that we would like to know: 1. Why is there something rather than nothing? 2. Why does the universe behave as though it is governed by laws? 3. Why is it describable in terms of mathematics? 4. Why are we able to understand it (to the extent that we do?) Unless you postulate “God” or, at least, some sort of First Cause, and assume that these questions can be answered, why would you even bother to try? Would they even occur?

  26. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

    Thank you for the reply BW. What I wanted to stress was the fact that sometimes the explanation of science and the explanation of religion coincide although the intial start is from two different directions. That’s what I meant with a crippled person. Whatever we explain by science, at the end, comes to the same conclusion with religion. I will give a few other examples and leave it there because I don’t think I can make my point clear – may be because it’s not clear in my mind yet. Some other examples: Religion forbids us to eat certain foods by word of God. What does science do? It forbids certain kinds of food saying they are bad for health. Religion has churches and priests who wear gowns; science has its universities and academics with gowns. We know religion through prophets and we know science through scientists -when I talk about galaxies and Big Bang, I only depend upon the scientist’s knowledge and the method of scientific inquiry…so on and so forth..I had found some more similarities and I’m thinking on this. May be the subject comes up later.

  27. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    “..scientists were, up til the Renaissance, virtually exclusively priests and other church men”

    Oh Lily, you have skipped BC period again. All those Thales,Parmenides, Anaximandr etc. Renaissance started when philosophies adapted to monotheism in Middle Ages were stripped off their distortions and the humanity underlying Greek philosophers’ works were discovered.

  28. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    “Why is it so important that all people understand the minutiae of evolution? ”

    It is important because progress in medicine depends on knowledge of the human body.

  29. lily
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

    I haven’t skipped anything, JA. I stated what was true in the west (i.e. western Europe)in the early centuries A.D. It is far too hard to discuss the influence of Aristotle on western philosophy in a comments box. But you seem to have a grossly exaggerated idea of the influence of others. Aristotle is the biggie.

    Frankly, the doctrinal distortions that had to be dealt with in the Middle Ages crept in primarily via Plotinus, Porphyry, and the rest of the Neo-Platonists. That movement got its start in Egypt and is a mix of Hellenistic thought and oriental mysticism. It is far too complex to try to tease apart all the influences it brought with it that had to be sorted out and, often rejected, as it competed with Christianity, but suffice it to say that it died out in the 6th century, while Christianity flourished.

    You would be hard put to find any big doctrinal differences between Christianity in AD 1100 and AD 100. What the philosophers helped with was explaining those doctrines in philosophical and logical terms. What is the soul? How is it constituted? How can God be singular and triune? Believing that is one thing. Explaining it in philosophical ways is another. I don’t suppose any Christian would claim to fully understand the Trinity. But we all believe in it.

    Back to the question I asked about why every Tom, Dick, and Harry had to understand evolution– You wrote: “It is important because progress in medicine depends on knowledge of the human body.”

    This is completely true but it doesn’t answer my question. How does *my* not knowing, or Mr. Smith down the street not knowing, impede progress in medicine? Neither one of us does research in any field of science. Do we need to understand it in order to benefit from the knowledge derived from it? Does our not knowing prevent you from knowing?

    In other words, I am questioning this frantic atheist belief that evolution is some great god that everyone must recognize, acknowledge and, frankly, worship. Atheists don’t mount campaigns to spread literacy among the illiterate or numeracy among the innumerate (I hate those awful neologisms) but get hysterical about the need to spread the gospel of evolution. Why?

  30. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

    “..suffice it to say that it died out in the 6th century, while Christianity flourished.”

    This is exactly the point. They didn’t die out, but made to die out. Why was Plato’s Academia closed around 500? Because Greek philosophy contradicted Christian belief. Why do you think Middle Ages are called Dark Ages? Because only Christian belief prevailed. Church was a great power. Why do you think heliocentric theory took so long to be accepted? (It was known in Egypt since the the first few centuries AD) Because it contradicted the geocentric theory which, based on OT, the church also promoted.

    Why the ordinary man should know about evolution? Well, you don’t have to. But evolution, after the heliocentric theory, is the second biggest challenge to religion. Therefore, it is a very important subject of philosophy of religion. The theists of divinity faculties write many master’s and doctorate thesis to refute Darwin and countering it is left to us. Otherwise evolution is subject of science and as you say we don’t need to know the details.

  31. jolly atheist
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

    Lily: I’m sorry. When I wrote ‘you’ after ‘ordinary man’ it wasn’t a direct address to you. I meant man in the general sense.

  32. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 23rd, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    Skeptimal said: I love Black Adder

    Me too! I own them all now, but first season is my favorite. The very first episode is awkward, but after that it’s great. I love the one where he becomes the Bishop of Canterbury

    Brian said Then again, from what I’ve been able to pick up, I think Jane falls into the latter camp yet seemed to get a laugh from the parody.

    Yes – that is, I am in the latter camp, and I did think TRT was funny. Ever with the melodrama.

  33. Lily
    January 24th, 2009 @ 8:30 am

    Jolly Atheist: I wish we could sit down somewhere, some day over coffee and discuss Aristotle, Greek philosophy and its influences on the development of western philosophy at our leisure. Doing so in a comment box is pretty certain to be heart-breakingly frustrating!

    But I simply have to exclaim at your belief that anyone in any university school of theology is worried about Darwin or heliocentrism. They are no challenge to Christianity, at all. (Perhaps to other religions? I simply don’t know anything about them that allows me to say.) Where Christianity is concerned, no one has given a second thought to heliocentrism in 600 years and Darwin hasn’t concerned the academic world in 100 years (give or take a decade), although social darwinism and other areas in which his ideas have been used (misused really) still do.

    But the academic study of theology has an amazingly broad range of interests, history, philosophy, ancient literatures and languages (Akkadian, Ugaritc, Hebrew etc, not to mention Greek and Latin), doctrinal developments, and much more. Now, in fundamentalist Bible colleges, all bets are off. But they have no influence on the academic study of theology.

  34. jolly atheist
    January 24th, 2009 @ 9:21 am

    Lily: Philosophy of Religion is a course in the Faculty of Divinity/Philosophy and History of Religions section and I happen to be an elderly master’s student there. Here are some topics of the course: The Problem of Evil in religions; Religious Experience; Religious Pluralism, Miracles; Relatios between Faith and Reason etc..and what concerns us here is the topic Science and Religion. It’s the hottest topic of the course, not only here in Turkey but in Europe and US as well. Under this title we study the relationship of religion to science which includes Evolution versus Creation/Intelligent Design arguments, whether a dialog/integration is possible, How does Science Challenge religion, Does Science conflict with religion etc. We mostly study works of Christian philosophers of religion. Plantinga, Ian Barbour, Michael Behe, Swinburne, Whitehead, and many others. A doctorate thesis last year was for refuting Darwin. Christian creationists/intelligent designers are no different in their claims from muslims creationists. You see, this is not exactly study of theology, yet the section is under the umbrella of divinity and therefore, apart from myself, no other student on campus believes in evolution.
    As to history of religions, we study all of them – not only Abrahamic – phenomenologically.

  35. Metacrock
    January 24th, 2009 @ 9:23 am

    Hilarious. I’m linking you to my blog!

  36. Metacrock
    January 24th, 2009 @ 9:28 am

    hey Jolly you say: “apart from myself, no other student on campus believes in evolution.
    As to history of religions, we study all of them – not only Abrahamic – phenomenologically.”

    That is all very dependent upon where you go to school. The major view in philosophy of religion, most of them would find that absurd. Most people in philosophy of religion have no trouble with evolution, would think creationists are cranks, and are not inclined toward any particular religious tradition.

    There is a world of liberal theology out there as well that is also evolutionary in its outlook.

    I suggest you move to a UMC school. Perkins school of theology (Dallas), Illif in Denver or Emory in Atlanta. I bet you would be a lot happier and you would get a much more fair understanding of the thinking end of Christianity.

  37. jolly atheist
    January 24th, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

    Metacrock: I’m sure you are right and there is a world of liberal theology, but not among muslim theologs yet. In any case, the evolution Christians accept is not Darwinian either. The best of them think that God or some MIND ‘inflicted’ evolution in organisms with the purpose of creating human beings and that’s very different from what we are saying. Some say there is evolution but species were created on and so forth..I would love to see people who think creationists are cranks! Great! But there are many of them..Unfortunately it is not possible for me to move to any other school.

  38. jolly atheist
    January 24th, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

    Metacrock: I may have misunderstood. Do you mean to say there are atheist students who study philosophy of religion? That would be great. I would love to communicate with them.

  39. Lily
    January 24th, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    Jolly– One of the most famous New Testament scholars in the English speaking world is Bart Ehrman– an atheist. There are no religious tests for studing religion at any university in the US or anywhere else for that matter, that I know of. Atheists can and do study lots of topics related to the philosophy and history of religion. That is religion as distinct from training to be a clergyman of a particular denomination. I am sure there are a variety of requirements involved in that situation that I cannot begin to speak to.

    As far as evolution is concerned, I am really amazed to hear you say that we don’t accept darwinian evolution. Of course we do! Darwin, after, all explained *how* (or started to explain it), that is he explained the mechanics of it.

    Science cannot explain anything beyond that. It cannot explain how life began. Christians believe that God used evolution to accomplish his purposes. The idea that he “inflicted it” is just bizarre. If he had wanted to, he could have created man fully developed. He didn’t. If we get the chance, let’s ask Him why!

    I think I remember that you said once that English isn’t your first language but because it is so perfect, I thought you were US based. If you live abroad, it is no wonder that you have some odd views of Christians. Generally only the wackiest varieties make the news. It is no wonder that they seem to dominate.

  40. Bertie Wooster
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

    To lie is a sin… isn’t it?

  41. Bertie Wooster
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

    Photoshopping is a lie

  42. Bertie Wooster
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

    And what you write is a lie too.

  43. Bertie Wooster
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

    Are you going to hell?

  44. Bertie Wooster
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

    Of course not… it doesn’t exist!

  45. jolly atheist
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    But Lily, we are saying the same thing. You say “The idea that God ‘inflicted evolution’ is bizarre”. Then you say God used evolution to accomplish his purposes. It is either I cannot express myself well in this second language of mine or you are in conflict because the two sentences are almost synonymous! Inflicting evolution means exactly that God creates to accomplish his purpose. There is no such purpose in Darwin. Man is not Darwin’s purpose. For Darwin there is no difference of substance, nor any difference of degree of soul, say between a cat or a human being. That we are human beings and not dinosaurs is just a result of some mutation and selection possibilities, not pre-determined. That’s why religion and science conflict. It’s a long subject, as you say we cannot deal with it on this comments page.

    I live in Istanbul and I’m an ex-muslim. I was educated in an American High School here in Turkey and then studied English Language and Lİterature; so you think they taught me well. Thank you! I saw RT on atheistbus page which I support and contribute with small donations from time to time. When I saw the bus pictures here, I felt like saying a few things and there we are..

  46. DarwinCatholic
    January 24th, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

    jolly atheist,

    Just to be historically clear: I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Darwin himself rejected purpose and saw a cat and a human as being of equal substance. Progress was such a deeply rooted idea in the 19th century that it took nearly 100 years for evolution to successfully shake off directionality — which from a scientific point of view I would agree it lacks. (As in, one cannot via the scientific method make directional value predictions in regards to evolution.)

    The post generally,

    There are very few solipsists, even though solipsism is entirely logically consistent with itself and cannot be disproved from reality. I tend to think that’s a very good example of the extent to which we employ will as much as or more than logic in forming our beliefs about the world. Solipsism is entirely logical, but it’s deeply un-useful, and so people reject it even though they can’t disprove it.

  47. jolly atheist
    January 24th, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

    DarwinCatholic: Have you read Origin of Species? Indeed progress was a deeply rooted idea, and that’s what Darwin has shaken. He says there’s no such thing as species. Only variations. And when variations differed widely, people named them as species. And how did variatons increase? Over time, mutation, natural/domestic selections, some adaptation to environmental factors, etc..

  48. Lily
    January 24th, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

    Jolly: Your background is so interesting; I am quite impressed! Your English is so good that I don’t think I would have guessed in a million years that it is your second language. But I don’t think you wanted to use “inflict” in the context of evolution. Inflict=impose something burdensome or unpleasant. For example, a parent might inflict a punishment, or a tornado can be said to have inflicted massive destruction of property. Did you mean something like that? I have to say that I don’t find evolution a punishent or a burden; maybe someone else might.

  49. jolly atheist
    January 25th, 2009 @ 8:10 am

    Lily: Thank you for the correction; indeed I didn’t mean that; may be I could have used ‘injected’ for what I meant – that is pre-determined by some MIND.

  50. skeptimal
    January 25th, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

    Jolly said: “I live in Istanbul and I’m an ex-muslim.”

    Wow. Is it commonly known locally that you’re an ex-muslim? I salute your courage.

  51. jolly atheist
    January 25th, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

    Skeptimal: Yes, and it doesn’t need courage. People just accept you as you are. But of course my friend circle is highly westernized, and the people among the very religious who know that I’m an atheist are university students/academicians/writers. With others, the subject doesn’t come up and they may be thinking that I’m still a muslim. I don’t go out and shout!

  52. skeptimal
    January 25th, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

    I’m glad to hear your life isn’t in danger every day, but I’m still impressed. It takes a lot of courage to see through any religion, but Islam tries its damnedest to make you pay for independent thought. Good on ya.

  53. jolly atheist
    January 26th, 2009 @ 5:32 am

    Skeptimal: Turkey is a laic country; that most of the population are muslims – and many of them are so-called muslims; they drink, they don’t pray five times a day,they don’t go to mosque except for funerals, they dress just like westernes; instead of sacrifice, they donate to charity organizations – doesn’t mean Islam can have any voice on my independent thought. Those that try to make you pay are really the uneducated sort, which unfortunately are quite high in number. So, actually, it is not Islam, the religion that tries its damnedest to make us pay, but muslims of an underdeveloped world. I wrote before, if the word of the religion would be the cause of violance, then OT would be the champion; however we know that Jews are just as civilized as any other westerner.

  54. DarwinCatholic
    January 26th, 2009 @ 1:33 pm


    Yes, of course I’ve read the Origin of Species. :-)

    But what you’re coming through with is very much a modern (post 1930s) understanding of evolution. Darwin certainly had the initial insight and headed down the right path, but he did not bring the sense of species fluidity and non-directional development which we understand how.

    Seriously, re-read Darwin in both Origin and Descent of Man without the filter of a more modern understanding and you’ll see a very interesting blend of 19th century progressivism with the beginnings of modern evolutionary biology. It doesn’t diminish Darwin’s billiance to understand the limits of his thinking, and it does our understanding of science a disservice to imagine that theories spring fully grown from the minds of great men, like Athena from the brow of Zeus.

  55. jolly atheist
    January 26th, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

    “Darwin certainly had the initial insight and headed down the right path, but he did not bring the sense of species fluidity and non-directional development which we understand how”

    For species fluidity in Darwin, read: Origin of Species/Variaton Under Nature (Gramercy Books, NY, pp.101-113)

  56. jolly atheist
    January 26th, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

    It is better if I quote from The Origin of Species, p.108.

    “…From these remarks it will be seen that I look at the term species, as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, and for mere convenience sake” Charles Darwin.

  57. DarwinCatholic
    January 28th, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

    Good quote mining.

    I think I’m prepared to stand by my original point, however. Darwin didn’t have (in part because he simply didn’t have the data) an understanding of how fluid population boundaries during divergence could be. (As in of A, B, and C regionally separated populations, A and C can both produce fertile offspring with members of B, but A and C cannot produce fertile offspring.) He also lacked the modern idea of selectin for stasis, etc. Early conceptions of evolutionary theory tended to emphasize that species were always becoming more suited to their environment, though perhaps only slightly, when in fact they often simply selecting for equalibrium.

    Again, not to minimize Darwin’s achievement, but it’s important not to read the insights of the last 60 years into the 1860s.

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