“Not only has Dawkins ruined science. He’s ruined atheism too.”

Last week I skewered Richard Dawkins for saying life was a “happy chemical accident” on National Public Radio.

Richard Dawkins

A reader of my blog (a smart, well educated guy) rushed to Dawkins’ defense.

I demanded he explain how

“happy chemical accident” qualifies as science.

My reader retorts:

“Oh, I forgot NPR interviews are venues for rigid, technical discourse! How silly of me!”

I reply: “When the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science from Oxford University appears on National Public Radio, don’t you think we should expect answers that do in fact further the public understanding of science?

“Or… should we settle for glib dismissive attempts to dodge the question?

“YOU seem to be a reasonably intelligent and educated guy. So why are you of all people attempting to defend him or deflect blame when Dawkins puts his foot in his mouth?

“Surely you’re more than a mere minion of Richard Dawkins. Why not just be honest and hold the guy responsible for saying something so dodgy and unscientific?”

The fact that people like you rush to Dawkins’ defense – when you should be calling him out on his dishonesty – is a smoking gun.

Why can’t atheists hold Dawkins’ feet to the fire for being the anti-scientific crank that he is?

Not only has Dawkins ruined science, he’s ruined atheism too.

20 years ago, an atheist was an intellectual with whom one could have a reasonable dialogue.

Today, most people experience atheists as bellicose angry males who commonly suffer from depression, who post anonymous tirades all over the internet so they can share their misery with everyone else.

We have the New Atheists to thank for this. And their four horsemen. Dawkins – Dennett – Harris – Hitchens.

Wanna have an intelligent discussion about atheism? Read Voltaire, Nietzche or Bertrand Russell.

Agree or disagree, they will force you to think.

Wanna have a pointless shouting match with a bunch of mannerless name-callers who make up just-so stories about warm ponds and lucky lightning strikes and think they’re doing science? Sit down with guys who read Krauss, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris. Walk into a roomful of Dawkins fans. 

They will force you to emote.

So, dear atheist, why are you sitting here defending any of these proselytizers?

Why do you allow Dawkins to abuse his position and not even do his job as a scientist?

Atheists, I respect your right and desire to be atheists.

But I do not respect you when you defend anti-intellectual, anti-scientific dogmas that have no explanatory power, no service to humanity.

And I do not respect you when you defend a bully who relegates incredibly valuable scientific questions to mere accident.

386 Responses

  1. O.R. Pagan says:

    You have managed to express the feeling of most of my atheist/science enthusiasts friends. I am an “hopeful agnostic” and an unapologetic science lover by vocation and formal training and I stopped liking Dawkins as soon as he started talking out of his (rather limited) immediate area of expertise. Thanks for the post, and by the way, read the book. Makes a lot of sense, and re-reading it to understand it better.

    • Rob says:

      Wow, Mr. Pagan, that was a decent reply, and one I that I quite unexpected… congrats for thinking and NOT being like most of Dawkins’ fanboys. LOL

    • Varun Kurup says:

      i am an agnoist too i do feel that science and religion both has its fallacies.Science is like give us a miracle and we will prove rest and this basic nature of materialising everything .Religion tries to put in its own dogmatic explanations where science fails to explain

    • Rojo Herrera says:

      I’m a Christian who’s read Voltaire/Nietzche and Dawkins/Hitchens. The first two made me think hard; the second two not so much. My experience with atheists has been interesting. They are quick to raise their voices and repeat their talking points rather than engage in a discussion using rules of logic and reason. Intellectual cowardice personified…

      • And when they come here most want to be anonymous.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        I am an atheist (who was raised as a catholic). My experience with believers has been interesting… So, do you want to tell me that belief is based on logic and reason? You must be kidding.

        • Richard Kay says:

          Not all knowledge is science. Science deals with observations which are inherently repeatable. History, philosophy, legal process, our observations of those around us and maths all lead to knowledge of different kinds. Belief may engage reason and logic, but may reasonably engage all of these other areas of knowledge also.

  2. Eric says:

    Your description of the modern new atheist is exactly that of one of my most anti-religious aquantainces. Lol

  3. Felix Norcoc says:

    Thanks Perry
    Same opinion.
    Please listen to Jay Lakhani against Richard Dawkins on youtube.
    Jay is marvellous and very convincing in his 500videos.he is coming from quantum physics and leads Hindu Academy.
    Look for him, you will not regret it.

    Greetings
    Felix

    • Rob says:

      I think it would be useful for many of us to have a Hindu debate a Christian on worldviews. This would be a really unusual debate and could be really educational.

      • Paul Cotton says:

        Wouldn’t this be like two children comparing their invisible friends?

        • Mike Conway says:

          And comments like that are why people don’t take modern atheism seriously.

          • Paul Cotton says:

            Who doesn’t take Atheism seriously? Surely the whole point is that fewer and fewer people are taking religion seriously? Those of you who have abandoned reason in favour of belief cannot imagine that there is another point of view that may well be valid. My comment, though perhaps flippant, makes a valid point in a world where religious groups have always persecuted each other. There does not seem to be much change there, except that the new fundamental and sanctimonious Christians are even more sure that they are right.

            • SJTooke says:

              Your comment re two children and their invisible friends is dead on. Mr. Cotton is a standard issue Republican. When in doubt, demonize…or just ignore rational thought. Faith is generally belief without reason; and attacking Dawkins is again GOP SOP….don’t over here…they are wrong. Got no facts, but, but …they are wrong.

              • Paul Cotton says:

                I have never been accused of being a Republican before. Frankly, if I was easily offended, I would find that offensive. I am not sure I understand the rest of what you are saying.

            • Rob says:

              Um according to the madly religious group, the world bank, religiousity is actually increasing Paul. Sticking with facts in a discussion is generally easier

  4. john scott f. says:

    caught the panel discussion on God, Science and the Universe from U.of T. Would really like to know what you thought about it so, what do you think about it??

    • Been too busy to write a blog post about it. Briefly:

      -Krauss was a typical new atheist Jerk and did not deserve the honor of being there
      -Meyer did a pretty respectable job considering his head was in a vice
      -Lamoreaux gave a very interesting presentation, especially re: Darwin’s views.

      The Christian guys should have never let Krauss get away with saying that machine learning programs that beat the Go player were examples of non-design. Hello????

      Many people may not have noticed that by showing the Bilateral creature from 585MYA he undercut the whole thesis of Meyer’s book “Darwin’s Doubt.”

      • Rob says:

        Hey there Perry, what do you mean by the last line?

        • I mean – Can we drop inflammatory rhetoric and exercise Christian charity here?

          • Paul Cotton says:

            So it’s ok to refer to someone as a “New atheist jerk” is it? Christian charity? Ha.

            • That is the plain and simple truth. Jesus called pharisees whitewashed tombs full of dead man’s bones and Krauss is a Jerk. Watch his recent debate with Stephen Meyer and Denis Lamoreaux. I make no apologies for stating the obvious.

              • Paul Cotton says:

                Truth? When your only truth comes from a collection of middle eastern mythology, you are in a bad way. This is one reason why the likes of Trump is gathering supporters like fleas on a mangy dog.

                • Clearly you are not engaging with me on any sort of factual level, as I deal with truth in a way completely different than what you accuse me of. The others here can read my blog and judge for themselves.

                  • Martin Gately says:

                    Not just a jerk a ‘typical new atheist jerk.’ Perry, it’s a Bronze Age book of fables…stop basing your life around it. Seriously, for five minutes think about the likelihood that a group of wandering Bronze Age shepherds (and I mean that affectionately) were in direct and regular contact with the creator of the universe? And better yet, that the creator’s main preoccupations were things like cutting off a baby boy’s foreskin and whether or not you should eat shellfish. Fer Pete’s sake, it is not impossible even for YOU to break the conditioning. You were waiting for someone to blow a hole in your religion but you don’t seem to be able to see that the whole thing is made of Swiss Cheese. Your God is showing up in prayer services to improve people’s hearing…where was he on the day of the Aberfan disaster (google it) when countless children died in the worst peace tragedy in the history of my country – truly heartbreaking stuff – I would literally saw off my arm to go back in time and save those kids. I can come to your church and shake hands with people who had their hearing restored…BUT I cannot shake hands with the lost children of Aberfan. They are all dead. Your beneficent God was a no-show.

                    • Martin,

                      Acts 12:6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”

                      Matthew 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

                      According to your reasoning, John the Baptist was beheaded – so therefore Peter was never let out of prison by an angel. Because, according to atheist logic, if God heals SOME people, God is obligated to heal ALL people. God didn’t heal everyone, therefore God didn’t heal anyone.

                      This is a non-sequitur.

                      If you wish to raise the question of why some people are healed and not others, I will be happy to discuss this with you. But first I need you to acknowledge the verifiable truth that some people have been in fact healed.

                    • Martin Gately says:

                      Hi Perry,
                      C’mon, Perry. Attributing to me things I plainly never said and calling them a non-sequitur is poor arguing. I am highlighting your claim that people have had their hearing restored – note I haven’t questioned the claim, I don’t need to in order to prove my point – as compared to a terrible, terrible tragedy (the Aberfan disaster – which, wild guess, in your busy life you have not had time to google) in which a large number of innocent children lost their lives. I do draw a distinction between people being healed and saved. Since you don’t understand the argument I’ll briefly explain it, theists are very comfortable with special pleading – you accept it all the time – so I thought I’d try it. The Aberfan disaster is such a uniquely tragic event – affecting very young Christians in such a way that the community involved is still scarred by tragedy – that a benevolent God would have, if not prevented completely, found a way to mitigate it. Unfortunately, the disaster plays out in the worst way possible timed so that the maximum the number of children are killed. It is impossible to discern the hand of a beneficent and loving God in how this ‘scenario’ (and I have wrestled with my conscience as to whether or not to use it as an example when debating with you since I was concerned it might trivialize the deaths involved) plays out. If it is possible to see God’s loving hand then feel free to put me right…or you could just attack the argument by saying it’s special pleading, if you want to aim for maximum irony.

                      Elsewhere, you indicate a belief in modern witchcraft…this is not entirely surprising. I mean this kindly, just as people have an Intelligence Quotient, there is an unlinked quotient for being credulous. Some people, in the right situation, will believe literally anything…buy a bridge…invest in a wooden car. Name it, and somebody will believe it. Example: There was an enormous growth in mediumship following WW1 because people wanted to contact dead relatives…the people providing that service were opportunistic charlatans – yet a lot of people, a huge number, did believe it. The moment for it was right. Corollary of that, assuming such abilities existed – witchcraft, mediumship, precognition…anybody who had such powers would be running this planet. Yet, where are the people who claim such powers in the grand scheme of things? Making people’s ears bleed in remote African villages? Yeah, because that’s where I’d be…

                    • I am not minimizing or dismissing the suffering in the Aberfan tragedy. I am sorry for what these people went through.

                      You’re saying that if God did heal or could heal anyone, God would never let Aberfan happen. Aberfan, or… fill in the blank. Any tragedy you might name.

                      Saturday my friend’s sister got killed in a car accident. She left behind three young children.

                      I think it’s pretty clear that not everybody lives to 90 years old and dies peacefully in their sleep.

                      Atheists extrapolate this to: “Therefore God doesn’t exist.”

                      More generalized:

                      1. God is an all-knowing all-powerful all-loving being.

                      2. Such a being would never allow tragedies to occur.

                      3. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

                      Your problem is in #2. Both people and nature have freedoms of various kinds. Freedom exists, therefore tragedies are not only possible but inevitable. Unfortunately we have to live with them.

                      I do not allow this to prevent me from experiencing the miraculous, though, or deprive me of my appreciation and gratitude for the good things I do have.

                    • Martin Gately says:

                      Hi Perry, I am sorry to hear that tragedy has struck close to you…
                      In this instance, I am not entirely sure what freedoms (either in general, or specifically) you are referring to. Children are not free to choose what days they attend school. The children of Aberfan had to go to school that Friday. A mountainous coal spoil heap has no choice in when it collapses…it is constrained by immutable laws of physics/gravity etc. If God had chosen to, he could held the spoil heap together for an additional 24 hours and the school would’ve been empty…it would’ve been empty for the half term holiday for the whole of the next week. So what I’m saying is, practically anyone who sees a child stumble will try to catch them to minimize the injuries they’d get when hitting the ground. You don’t have to be the greatest parent in the world to do this…it’s a reflex. Save the kid! Grab ’em! Why is this instinct so widespread in the human population but absent in God? In fact, doesn’t he behave almost exactly as if he isn’t there?
                      And just to recap, don’t forget that there is no such thing as atheist logic there is just actual logic. Relying on the supernatural for explanations is not a part of logic. I mean, I don’t know if you have employees, but if someone said to you, “I’ve had a pretty big problem with Google ad-words today and I’ve tried everything in the book…the only thing I can think of is that the problem is a supernatural one.” Well, I honestly wonder how sympathetic you would be.
                      You have correctly observed that not everyone lives until 90 and dies in bed. But, saying that tragedies are inevitable, but they don’t prevent you personally from experiencing the miraculous or from appreciating the good things you have…is not an argument for the existence of God, nor any kind of logical counter-argument. You do see that don’t you?
                      I think what we are starting to get to, in essence, is that there would be seem to be a moral argument for not worshiping God, even if he does exist. If you are worshiping an all-powerful being who doesn’t have the reflex to save children, then what exactly are you worshiping? Might as well be Kali or Cthulhu.

                    • Martin,

                      Atheist logic proposes that if God does not swoop down like Superman to rescue people from disasters and each other and themselves, then He does not exist.

                      Tell me this:

                      Which evils should God swoop down to prevent… and which ones should He not?

                      Should God prevent a woman from having an abortion?

                      Should God prevent you from cheating on your taxes?

                      Should God prevent you from cheating on your wife?

                      Should God prevent prodigal sons from running away from home?

                      Should God warn everyone before there is an earthquake?

                      Should God strike people dead whenever they do {whatever despicable thing}?

                      Is God not permitted to give people complete freedom to act out whatever is in their hearts… then reward and punish with absolute and unrelenting justice LATER?

                      And if not… by what logic or authority would you make such an assertion, Martin?

                      There is no conflict between natural and supernatural explanations, any more than there is a conflict between natural and supernatural healing.

                      This conflict only exists in the mind of the atheist.

                      Most my stories at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles happened in the context of prayer or something similar. The two deaf people that I had DIRECT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH, who got their hearing back after 30+ years, weren’t brushing their teeth, they weren’t driving to work, they weren’t sawing logs, they weren’t heating stuff up in their microwave, they weren’t practicing guitar.

                      They were at a healing service.

                      None of this takes anything away from what modern naturalistic medicine can do.

                      Neither works 100% of the time.

                      The main difference is, you only get one. I get both.

                      In regards to Google Adwords and similar things, same principle applies. I have had supernatural experiences that helped me tremendously in business. The following incident is described in the last chapter of my book “80/20 Sales & Marketing” which has sold 50,000 copies. I have told this story at seminars, webinars, emails, to tens of thousands of people. The events of this story directly resulted in millions of dollars of revenue in my business which otherwise would not have happened. It’s in some sense traceable to hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions from my clients. It played a role in the success of FanDuel, which recently merged with DraftKings and is valued in the $1 billion vicinity. It had a major major role in InfusionSoft which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars:

                      https://www.perrymarshall.com/34766/the-story-behind-the-story/

                    • Martin Gately says:

                      Hi Perry, and Merry Christmas. Firstly, a word on ‘atheist logic’ – despite all of the evidence appearing in comic-books, movies and on TV, I still do not believe in Superman. The reason for this is not that I am an atheist or that I use anti-superman logic. It is because I have a rational real world framework of thought that allows me to differentiate between fantasy and reality, the real and unreal, if you will. What you happen to believe, what you were brought up to believe, and what makes sense to you are not the same as logic. Repeat: there is only one kind of logic, and belief in the supernatural does not form a part of it. Your conclusions are often spurious and your comparisons are ill thought out. I am not being paid to teach you how to think properly, but if I were you’d be seeing me after class…I wonder how long the people of Metropolis would carry on believing in Superman if he never showed up. And if he only showed up to deal with hearing impairment, I doubt if he’d retain the name Superman for long. They’d call him something else. Likewise, it seems to me you are worshipping some demiurge god of minor healing miracles.
                      Moving on, how might the Aberfan Disaster be reported on the news in a world in which God exists…indulge me:
                      “Dateline Aberfan 21 October 1966 – today children were prevented from attending school by mysterious glowing white figures who appeared to them and told them to stay home for their own safety. Fifteen minutes later the coal spoil heap overlooking the village school collapsed and destroyed all the school buildings. Mr. and Mrs. Ivor Jones who live next to the school were forced out of the kitchen and into their backyard by a strange energy just as their house was engulfed by the fast flowing debris. “It was great miracle,” said Mr. Jones. Local rescue authorities reported that no lives were lost.”
                      Incidentally, if this report dated from 2000 years ago, it might be included in the New Testament and doubtless you would believe it without question. Yes, it is the sort of thing I would expect to be happening if God were real, based on the moral responsibilities of an omnipotent being worthy of worship because of his goodness. You ask me a host of questions about what God should do in any given situation in terms of intervening. Some of these things God has provided clear guidance on – do not commit adultery, render unto Caesar (Actually, your whole country is founded on ignoring that one! You should have paid tax on tea, right?). You seem to now be mistaking magical Christian thinking for logic in your argument…Again, what free choice were the innocent children of Aberfan exercising when they went to school that day? What absolute and unrelenting justice could God possibly want to mete out on them as the penalty for exercising that choice…? You tell me. You’ve been pressing people to answer questions in the last 24 hours…can you answer that? I doubt it.
                      The deficit in your clarity of thought increases…is God not permitted to allow people freedom and then to reward or punish? Fine, in which case why do we bother with courts and a legal system to punish criminals…? Better yet, why is it a crime to kill people if you are likely to be sending them express delivery to eternal life in the hereafter? What authority do I have to question these arrangements – God giving freedom and then judging with eternal damnation/eternal life…well, one pretty big one. I never signed up and agreed to take part in this test. Neither did you. At the most basic level then, I have been born into something I want no part of. Where’s the escape clause for conscientious objectors to this nonsense? By which I mean, even if it is real it is morally repugnant and I want no part of it.
                      Meanwhile, you’ve found a way to serve both God and mammon (to be honest I haven’t had time to read your supernatural business story, but I will) – there are people (including Christians) starving to death in this world, but God is helping you with your business endeavors. Are you entirely serious?
                      Finally, some of this must be sinking in. This is a dangerous time for you. It is entirely possible that you will very shortly realize that there is no basis to at all for what you are saying, and that it literally is nonsense. It may come to you suddenly in the night. I certainly hope so because this is getting silly, there are no supernatural problems with Google Adwords.

                  • Paul Cotton says:

                    To refer to someone as a jerk and in the same post calling for Christian charity cannot be described as factual. It is like much of what is posted here simple opinion. Personal attacks, like yours on Professor Dawkins, do very little to encourage proper discussion.

                  • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                    Dear Perry, you say you’re dealing with the truth… Isn’t this statement a bit “overambitious”?

                • bruce says:

                  so pre 1930 or so you would have believed in a pre existent eternal universe and those middle eastern mythologists would have been a couple thousand years ahead of you in knowing that the universe had a beginning. but you think they should drop their wisdom for the atheist myths that have a half life measured in decades?

    • bill Walker says:

      I label myself as an atheist, & have done so for over 70 years, while still in the Navy. But – I actually worship Nature as my own god. It is awesome. But there’s no Heaven, Hell or Satan, except as they exist right here & now.

    • tom alex says:

      perry marshall. god can heal all the people. he has the power to do so. no one has to suffer. No has to sacrifice his life, none of that. that’s the whole point. why do people who have done nothing to nobody have to suffer. And y do we talk about how god is the most merciful while this happens.

  5. Scott says:

    All you’ve succeeded in doing was to put down young people that aren’t in the same mental place as you. Which may not have the same education or opportunites you did. I’m sure you had all your life views and insecurties worked out in your early twenties.

  6. Paul says:

    Wow, your tirade against Mr. Dawkins and his defender contains so many logical argument flaws (ad hominem, straw man, no true Scotsman, to name a few) that you sound exactly like the “New Atheists” that you purport to describe.

    Dawkins has done more for science, our understanding of evolution and teaching people about it than you would hope to do in three lifetimes. Atheists, like Dawkins and, frankly, the rest of us, are tired and frustrated with people who have stopped being able to listen to reason. Theists have adopted the position of “if it doesn’t fit into my preconceived notion, I’m going to ignore it.” Dawkins saying that life was a “happy chemical accident” is akin to a Christian explaining that “Christ died for our sins.” Both are overly simplified explanations that those who know nothing about the subject matter can understand and relate to. We don’t know what specific atomic interactions happened at the moment life first came to be. Did the right pieces just happen to come together? Were there many different chemical variations that failed to become “life” before and after the first carbon-based single cells? Yes. We have discovered Silicon-based life in volcanos. The right pieces eventually came together in the right environment and here we are. “God did it, ” is not a scientific option to explain that.

    • I see, so the other side does something that offends you so… Dawkins gets to do it too. Do I understand you correctly?

      So can you tell me again how “happy chemical accident” qualifies as science?

      Can you show us where in your comment we can find a scientifically verifiable fact?

      • Robert Jennings says:

        Dawkins ‘happy chemical accident’ is a metaphor for ‘was a random event’. It is as much a metaphor as was Einstein’s statement “God does not play dice with the Universe”. The latter is a scientific assertion based on a particular Deterministic view of the Universe – and a rejection of the obvious conclusions of Quantum mechanics.
        It is amusing that in the first chapter of ‘’The God Delusion” Dawkins asserts that he is not going to confine himself to attacking the metaphorical god – Guy with a long beard sitting on a cloud – and then proceeds to do only that. Also, for a guy who does not like metaphor it is amusing that his most famous book – The Selfish Gene – employs a metaphor to make his point!
        ‘’The God Delusion” goes downhill after the first Chapter. In particular, when it comes to his analysis of the reasons why people believe in God/Religion, which is based on a wholly rationalist approach. Dawkins should have read, or should read, ‘A History of God’, by Karen Anderson which is the best informed book I have read on this real social phenomenon. Ms Anderson, a former Roman Catholic Nun is a true scholar and is not promoting any agenda.

        • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

          Excellent book, which “gently” suggests that God is made by man.

        • SCOTT HARWELL says:

          Random event is a euphemistic term for chance. Chance is nothing and cannot creare anything. Faith in chance is not scientific but it is the only other game in town for atheists.

          • Paul Cotton says:

            For days now, I have been clearing piles of leaves from the car parking space at the front of my house. I think we can agree that the way that leaves fall from trees is a random process. The winds are such that quite often the leaves are piled up in the same place, which does make it easier to clear up. Am I to ascribe this to your incredible busy creator who has taken time out from creating sickness and misery around the world, simply to make my life a little easier? You creationists do talk a lot of rubbish, but then you base your arguments on what you have been told by other creationists who simply interpret one very confused and dangerously ridiculous book.

      • Robert DuChaine says:

        Dawkins did not describe “happy chemical accident” as science. He has clearly indicated in every place I have seen that it was speculation that could be rationally justified …much more rationally than could a god.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        Dear Perry, I did explain this “accident” theory to you many times (see above), but you are just not listening. I have also mentioned to you that this “accident” theory might be replaced by a “necessity” theory, which you also no not want to hear. Then, there is only one thing you would need to understand: leave this whole issue to science.

    • Right on Paul!

    • Lexy says:

      Exactly, I’m not wasting my breath nor limited time on this Earth trying to reason with the unreasonable.

    • Rob says:

      Paul, care to share a link confirming your silicon-based-life claim?

    • Daniel says:

      “Theists have adopted the position of “if it doesn’t fit into my preconceived notion, I’m going to ignore it.” Wow. Me thinks you need a long gaze into the mirror.

      • Siggy says:

        While we all can benefit from a regular long hard look at ourselves, most atheists have arrived at their current worldview after having cast aside the preconceived notions that we were burdened with as children. Whereas the notion of unquestioning faith and rejection of conflicting worldviews is central dogma to Christianity.

    • Dan says:

      Well your right about one thing “you don’t know”
      As far as a worldview it would be nessecary to a least have an idea for origens other then “Oops!” then we can begin to discuss beyond that.

    • Biz says:

      THANK YOU.

    • Jason Echevarria says:

      Citation for silicon based life found on earth? Only a theory, last I understood and couldn’t find anything online.

      And if it’s just a matter of “the right chemical combination”, why can’t we reproduce life from lifelessness? When that day happens, I’ll accept the atheist Genesis story as being “more” valid than the biblical one.
      Otherwise, they are both just theories that do not have direct observation by anyone.

      • Marilyn says:

        Before the big bang there was nothing , meaning no forms,, So everything came out of that formlessness. The essence of everything & everyone is formless, eternal, always was , always will be. As Man evolved he began to think & differentiate, (tree of the “knowledge” of good & evil—> the human ego) He became obsessed by his mind & loss touch with his spirituality. Now he doesn’t know who he is, so the mind created self creates a mind-created God, in his own image. But that’s not God & that’s not spirituality. The believer & the non-believer are always at odds when actually they are in the same boat because neither “knows” the presence of God. If God is always present & you don’t know it then it’s you who’s absent. Absent because you’re in your head. You’re in your head & there’s no such thing as a spiritual thought. An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in the “belief” in God. So that means there is no such thing as an atheist. To deny God is to deny your own existence. To deny your own existence is to deny your own presence. Which cannot be denied but just overlooked. The Bible & Jesus is actually talking about meditation—“Be still & know that I am God”. “Heaven is within you”.

    • Jim Wright says:

      It’s good to read someone with the sense to recognize the fallacy of those who are so blinded by their religious beliefs that they are unable or unwilling to accept realty.
      I cannot blame atheist for becoming more militant against religion. With all the harm caused by fundamentalist of various religious persuasions it’s about time they stopped ‘treading lightly’.

      • J.B. says:

        I hate to do this but: you continue to speak in myths and must be one of those “lack of the same educational opportunities” people that some around here talked about.

        Religious fundamentalists haven’t killed all that many people unless you’re counting Islam, maybe Hinduism at some time.

        Atheists, on the other hand, practically murdered a combined sum just last century that rivals much of human history in terms of total deaths through homicides–and largely innocents to boot.

        Traditional religions are largely about virtues, honor, social well-being, etc. Atheism was about efficiency and historical materialism (largely gotten form Marxism).

        Now you might be charitable to say that these were, in fact, fundamentalists of a different sort–but no question about it, they were atheists first and foremost. Most atheists remain identified with the same strains and origins of those murderous diktats’ and movements’ intellectual strain.

        So no: it is not about time that atheists get militant. It’s about time they shut-up and stop getting millions of people killed decade after decade, efficiently attempting to bring utopias upon the planet when their science is exhausted through extrapolation to domains which it hasn’t even gained any insight.

        • AMEN.

        • Paul Cotton says:

          I think that you are conveniently forgetting the activities of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Witch trials of the 17th century and so many more incidents of religious bigotry that resulted in torture and death for many people. Hitler was a Catholic too, and the ruling classes that took us into the first and second world wars were mostly believers. Did the churches oppose any wars? I suspect not.
          Islam preaches peace and yet nearly every conflict in the world today involves Muslims.

          • Peter says:

            Paul, I think it is you that who is conveniently forgetting the activities of the crusades:

            People often shout “Crusades” purely as a means to attack the Church but have they really sat down and had a look at them?

            http://i.imgur.com/AO5vNYl.jpg

            http://i.imgur.com/bJbVpHz.jpg

            As for the history of warfare itself, let’s take a look at it.

            http://i.imgur.com/XN5qZIy.jpg

            Never has humanity suffered more than under the brutal regimes of Stalin, Mau or Pol Pot. These oppressive dictators lived under the conditions of “no God” and “survival of the fittest”. How many millions upon millions of people were butchered or left to starve or left to freeze to death?

            I do accept the madness of the witch trials at a time of mass hysteria in Europe. There is no excuse for it and i’m not going to make one however if you want to use these examples simply to attach the Church then feel free to do so. However if you want to use these examples to pretend “religion = bad” and “no religion = good” then i’m afraid you are very badly mistaken.

            Did the Church oppose any wars? I almost certainly believe they did but I think it is recognised that there are ‘just wars’ insofar if you have to defend yourself then so be it.

            As for Hitler being Catholic – that is a desperate attempt to link religion and war because regardless of what Hitler was baptised into at one point, he certainly under no circumstances used his belief in God as a reason to do what he did. Stalin was a Christian too at one point – and then he read Darwin’s evolution book and he rejected God. The Church in Russia was oppressed not long after that.

            Islam preaches peace? Where did you hear that? Yes there are peaceful aspects to Islam and many peaceful Muslims but it is far from a religion that promotes peace. The Quran actually commands you to kill which is why many actually do it. This is no coincidence.

            And before you jump in “there are bad things in the Old Testament too” – yes there are, but these are descriptive of events and Christians are not commanded to kill others but Muslims most certainly are. Do some research on it. Muhammad was a brutal warrior and Islam is political.

            As for “nearly every conflict in the world involves Muslims” simply playing devils advocate here – what would ordinary muslims in Iraq or Syria say about America or Britain?

            How many years have we gone without USA or Britain being involved in some war somewhere? WMD’s – are you kidding? Wars built on a lie so the general public are fooled. And be under no illusion, USA created ISIS either directly or indirectly.

            What about Osama bin Laden? Why was he “captured, killed and body destroyed” instead of being publicly put on trial? My guess is that he knew too much and the Whitehouse knew that too.

            Let’s be honest about history instead of just cherry picking the bits we want to attach Church/religion, ok?

            • Paul Cotton says:

              Ok – let’s focus a moment on contemporary issues regarding the church. The world is overpopulated and millions are hungry, yet the biggest and richest organised religion opposes contraception and abortion, thereby exacerbating, if not creating the problem in the first place. You are right that religion cannot be held responsible for all troubles but it is time that they took some responsibility for what goes on in the real world. There is only the one after all as far as we know.

          • bruce says:

            hitler was a catholic? who was working out the prophesies of Darwin who stated that the higher evolved one day would wipe out the lower forms of humans.
            Islam preaches peace? try reading the koran

        • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

          Dear J.B., where did you learn history from? Did you hear about Giordano Bruno? Did you hear about the European “dark ages”or the religious wars in Europe and the Middle East, or the acts of the missionaries in South America?

        • Paul Cotton says:

          Again the fallacy that wars of a not religious basis are perpetrated by atheists. The first world war was fought largely by frightened men, sent there to defend what? Most wars are about making money for the rich and the churches never stand out against them. I notice that you ignore the atrocities perpetrated by Christian groups throughout history. Tell me of any conflict fought in the name of Atheism.

          • bruce says:

            WWII was based in the teachings of darwinian evolution. the whole master race thing remember that. You could argue that evolution had nothing to do with it, but you would be arguing with Darwin who saw extermination of the inferior races as the reasonable outcome of his beliefs.

            • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

              I hope you’re just joking…

            • Paul Cotton says:

              What a ridiculous assertion. You are saying that racism did not exist before Darwin? Racism is a product of fear and ignorance, generated in divided societies by charismatic leaders. Organised religions are very good at promoting hatred and fear and thus creating divisions within populations.
              Maybe this does lead to some form of natural selection but to claim that Hitler was using The Origin of Species as a guide book is a little silly to say the least.

    • nuf sed says:

      Neither is speculation no matter how grasping of molecular straws.
      “God did it,” works fine for me when it comes to first matter and the creation of life with two sexes yet.
      No matter what your religion, or mine, or none, there must always be a place in reasonable men’s minds for a first cause that is far beyond man’s puny intellect.

    • Louis Wong says:

      Dear Paul,

      Even as a Christian i must agree with your opening statement. This post sounds like an upset (possibly unjustified) response to Dawkins and friend as well as quite hypocritical. [Calling the person “intelligent” and then proceeding to treat the person with contempt perhaps goes to show the inability to communicate and reason properly].

      Martin Luther has be recalled somewhat to say ” If I were a Jew, I would suffer the rack ten times before I would go over to the pope.” In specific reference to his observations to the how Christianity is portrayed by his followers. For this i must apologise.

      However you seem to enjoy exploring the ideas of logic (and fallacies) and so i implore you not to commit the fallacy fallacy. Namely i reject your notion that saying “God did it” is not a scientific option. If i can use scientific to be based of logic principles let me propose this: Perhaps you are familiar with the fine-tuning argument, that many forces and scientific constants are so precise, that the spectrum of probability of life occurring by “chance” is “infinitesimally” small and basically inconceivable. Dawkins argues that we are a “happy chemical accident”. In the face of those two facts, it would seem only one view is seem logical. If it is virtually impossible for “life to exist” under the narrow bands that we experience, if there is nothing external to our system, then it would be logical to concede that the only observable universe is one where life exists to observe the universe.

      Here, i am saying i will concede to Dawkins argument of a ‘happy chemical accident’ here, but i argue all more strongly against only concluding this. Let us suppose we played poker, and for 10 games straight i pulled out pocket aces. At this point you are pulling me up for cheating. In this case i make this argument: Look, i know that the odds of me having pocket aces 10 times in a row is really small, but not zero. The fact that i’ve gotten 10 in a row is just a happy accident. I’m sure you would still pull me up for cheating, [that i had externally influenced the system i.e. shuffling] Here in this case, the argument is different but i believe somewhat valid. Even if the only observable universe is a universe where life exists to observe it, declaring the infinitesimally small chance irrelevant is a far cry when a more evident just still presumptuous case exists.

      In the case of the poker game, it is still a presumption that i cheated, circumstantially anyways, but the default is towards cheating [that i had externally influenced the system].

      In the case of fine-tuning of the universe, with the infinitesimally small chance for life, it would seem you have defaulted to chance (“you said the right pieces fell in place so we are here”). Rather to an external influence on the system.

      Some scientist have seen this problem and are theorizing about multi-verse theory. Some theists have ascribed this “external influence” as a deity of some sort. (It doesn;t have to be, it could be anything). But here to my point, it is in light of fine-tuning perhaps more logical (and hence scientific) to ascribe out existence not out of pure chance against the overwhelming odds (Cuz they are huge, just look a couple of them up), but rather to an external source. Many scientist accepting this turned to multi-verse theory. We simply put a mind behind that universe creating power. Saying “God did it” may as well be a better scientific explanation than “accepting [the really small] chance”.

      • Marilyn says:

        God did it yes , but God is a word (language created by humans) that describes that higher power that is in control (cause we’re not) . The word refers to that formless energy that is the essence of every form not just humans. If forms of matter never always existed then it came out of something, & that something had to be formless! Nobody & nothing can be separate from it. So that separation is an illusion. It’s an illusion of mind because the mind doesn’t know it’s source. Human thought evolved , as told in the parable when they ate from the tree of the “knowledge” of good & evil. That refers to when man began to differentiate between good & bad ( concepts of the mind) . It gained momentum & took him over totally. As he got taken over by his mind he at the same time loss his connection with life itself(God). So now he fears , he thinks he’s going to die. He creates a God in his head , Religion. But that doesn’t work because that’s not God. A perfect God cannot create imperfection, or else he wouldn’t be perfect. So if he lost God in thought then to find God he has to get out of there, & get back to the spiritual self. Jesus was talking about meditation so to speak, becoming centered in the present, where life is & not in the interpretation of it. When you wake up to that realization then God is waking up through you. It’s called awakening so what are you waking up from? You’re waking up from the dream of form.

      • Paul Cotton says:

        Why are soap bubbles always spherical? 🙂

        • Peter Smith says:

          Bubbles are round — spherical — because there is an attractive force called surface tension that pulls molecules of water into the tightest possible groupings. And the tightest possible grouping that any collection of particles can achieve is to pack together into a sphere.

  7. ken says:

    While not scientifally signifigant, “I don’t know” is an honest answer. If we believe that it took an outside energy source to spark some chemicals to life, but cannot say exactly what that energy was, it is perfectly honest to say that. If you’re struck by lightening, isn’t that an unlucky accident? so, why isn’t a lightening strike that possibly created life a “lucky accident”. Sure, it doesn’t explain much… but it hardly can be called a lie.

  8. Mike says:

    If he were giving a lecture to scientists, I could understand wanting to hold his feet to the fire. But on a radio broadcast, I doubt he had the time to go into all the details, and I doubt most of the audience really cared. If you want details, they’re readily available in many places.

    Plus, Neil Tyson explains why scientists do and say things that sound more like rhetoric than science when given a public platform…and that is to generate interest in science without boring people to death so they will become interested and either donate money or want to become scientists themselves.

    I agree with Paul here, and would like to add that we have given theists way too much leeway without confronting them, and now they are making more and more school districts either teach fantasy as science, or put a disclaimer on real proven science as if it were just an opinion. Theists are gaining a stronghold in our education system which, if not stopped, could very well lead to the same thing that happened to Islam in the year 1100.

    I can only post part of what I’d like to get across because this website is very poorly constructed and is causing issues with my phone. May want to pass that along to the webmaster, they can improve the website functionality and could also likely boost the number of followers on here by removing things such as the full screen pop up when first coming to the site, making it appear as though there is no way through to the content without clicking the link.

    • Rob says:

      Mike, you sound paranoid. Where are all these school districts that teach fantasy?

      I have PhD in physics and consider your (presumed) views to be fantasy, and nothing more than a secular creation myth. Maybe we should teach both sides and that would have made young atheists like me actually interested in science.

      • Mike says:
      • Mike says:

        When creationism can produce hard facts and evidence, then we can consider that a “side” to the debate. For now, there is zero evidence. All they’re doing is taking things that naturally occurred and attributing them to things in the bible. For example, a prominent member of the creationism museum thinks the grand canyon was created by the great flood in the bible.

        • Melinda Freer says:

          You are correct. As a Chrisian I realize that our faith cannot be explained by science. However our faith cannot be disproven by science either. One out of four people have had a spiritual encounter including myself. I almost drowned as a child and had an out of body experience. Unfortunately without taking a leap of faith, you will never have an experience with God and everything written by those who have, will be mocked.

        • Luke Cage says:

          Mike, your fears are well founded. Schools ARE teaching fantasy as science, except that the fantasy is your religion of evolution. How is creationists offering up the Grand Canyon as evidence of the Flood any different than evos holding up a single bone, fantasizing ancestry and calling it evidence?? Your brainwashing is showing. the truth is creationists and evos have the same evidence, we just interpret it differently. As for the Grand Canyon, we can clearly see folding of layers without fracturing in the GC, indicating that they were laid down while still wet, supporting the biblical view. That IS evidence, regardless if you choose to ignore it because it shatters your world view.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        Teaching means to inform, to pass out knowledge. There is no knowledge in beliefs. Thus, you cannot teach creationism, you can only “mention” it. (I suggest that this sums up this entire argument.)

    • Jon says:

      What “happened” to Islam in 1100? If you’ve not read or are unfamiliar with The History of Al-Tabari (d. 923) or Al-Sirah Al-Nabawiyyah (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed) by Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), do reply.

  9. Fred Baker says:

    As a believing Christian, I disagree with the article’s characterization of today’s atheists as “bellicose angry males who commonly suffer from depression, who post anonymous tirades all over the internet so they can share their misery with everyone else”. In actuality, I know two women in their thirties who are respectful and articulate, intelligent atheists.

    There’s a message here. It’s about with whom you decide to engage! So, instead of railing against someone you see as a fool, or attacking them generally or personally, instead engage NPR and the media and find respectful, articulate, intelligent opponents to debate.

    Do not look for someone to get a leg up on, but respectful individuals you can shake hands with, and mean it, afterwards, and love in the spirit of Christ.

    If you choose a bad opponent, one that just pushes your buttons rather than making you think, you only have yourself to blame.

    But theatrics on one side don’t deserve them on the other.

    Respectfully, theatrics also include trick headlines just designed to grab attention. And attacking the opposition personally.

    Consider that I wouldn’t have even known of his NPR appearance without this post. I went to NPR’s site to listen. This post only drew attention to him.

    Again, I’d like to see someone approach all this differently. With choosing a good opponent. Arguing with respect and intellect, not attacking generally or personally, and not by throwing out random facts, but by making structured quick arguments. Is that too much to ask?

    As a Christian who believes in full blown evolution, most probably preceded by the Big Bang, I can understand the arguments of both sides.

    I’ll be glad to explain in structured quick argument why I am a Christian, why I reject completely strict interpretation, why I fully embrace evolution, how Jesus did not endorse Genesis, why the Old Testament is old news and relatively unimportant, and how I found God through science and mathematics. But those are not the topic here. I’ll stick to the topic.

    Please do not let this important debate devolve into partisan name calling and button pushing. If its done right, and you start from a position near an atheist, and logically, respectfully debate in quick structured arguments, you can not only win, but convert. I’m a perfect example, and am now a long time follower of Christ.

    I think I’ve laid out the groundwork of how to engage constructively, but its starts with your choices, and respect is at its heart.

    Thanks for the consideration of my views. May you have a joyous and Happy Easter.

    • I am calling on atheists to employ more self respect than they express by defending Dawkins and the foolish statements he makes.

      YES there are intelligent friendly atheists out there. You will not for the most part find them on the “friendly atheist” website – just read the comments.

      Thanks for your positive contribution to this conversation.

      • Martin says:

        It seems pretty clear to me, and I would think clear to anyone else looking with a dispassionate and considered eye, that the reason Prof Richard Dawkins seems to be constantly and quite abusively attacked by the religious elements, the Pseudoscientists and the snake oil sellers, and the reason so much effort is being exerted to misrepresent and discredit him, is simply because the basic truth he talks, hurts these interested parties immensely. And this reaction is just a repeat of the historical reactions of the past when truth tries to replace superstition. Religion (and thats all religion by the way) has always hated and persecuted anything that shows it up for the stupidity that it is, Galileo Galilei, persecuted and silenced by the catholic church, Copernicus faced no persecution when he was alive but only because he died shortly after publishing his book, which was then banned, by the church. Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician in the 16th century who discovered pulmonary circulation, called a heretic, fled the Spanish Inquisition only to be arrested and burned alive by the Protestant Inquisition in Switzerland, Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariy Rz, also known as Rhazes, regarded in Europe as one of the 15 great sources of knowledge when rediscovered, persecuted by the Islamic religion for his open-mindedness and belief that religious fanaticism breeds war and hatred. The list is long, and shameful for religion, but it also hurst the snake oil sellers and the Pseudoscientists, because its all just a racket, its all just about fleecing the sheep. In years to come, the religious systems, snake oil pedlars and Pseudoscientists of these days will also only ever be remembered for their stupidity and ignorance, and downright dishonesty, whilst the above mentioned people and the thousands of other courageous bringers or reason wisdom and truth, are now and will always be thankfully remembered for that courage, long after this nonsense is forgotten, so will the great Charles Darwin and so will Prof Richard Dawkins.

      • FredD says:

        Proclaiming the origin of life “a lucky accident” is the foundational atheist/materialist faith claim… a different species, but of the same genus as “God did it”. Both are philosophical not scientific statements. Carl Sagan made the exact same origins assertion (speculation) in his 1980s PBS show “Cosmos”. My fave part of that show was when Sagan explained (I call the “pop” version) of Evolution in 90 seconds or so, without any explanation or even speculation of how the mechanics of such evolution occurred. Circle back to faith… the starting point of all. Oh the “rusty” irony is indeed rich!

  10. Laszlo G Meszaros says:

    Dawkins is wrong; it was not an accident, it was a necessity. Just thing of the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”.

  11. Laszlo G Meszaros says:

    Let me try one more time. Dawkins simly used bad wording, but what he was going to say is hard science. What he meant is that random events can generate patterns. So, complexity can emerge from chaos.

    • Complexity obviously emerges from chaos. Fractals, sand dunes, snowflakes, etc.

      There’s no empirical evidence that life comes from non life, or that information comes from anything other than intelligence. I have a $3 million prize for anyone who figures out how to get information from intelligence. Details at http://www.naturalcode.org.

      • Iain Leonard says:

        Hi there, got dragged in here from a sponsored link, then made the mistake of having a smoke, now I’ve read all of the comments. Although I’m pretty sure the three million dollars isn’t under an immediate threat, on this one point, it did make me think of the ” Miller-Urey” experiment, and some of the related thinking and research done around it, which focused on abiogenesis. I’m expecting you are indeed familiar with it, so I did what I could to find a fairly concise link just in case.
        http://science.jrank.org/pages/1387/Chemical-Evolution.html

        • My page at http://www.naturalcode.org addresses the Miller-Urey experiment.

          • Iain Leonard says:

            Ah, ok, thanks…..Interestingly laid out and important question, I can see why the discussion here has been a bit spicy at times. At least on a random drop in my brain did actually think of something relevant 🙂 Quite a few people seem to be specialised in different aspects of what you are proposing, and are arguing the question is covered by something we already know. But the very premise of the question automatically moves past what is already known.

    • BAK says:

      Patterns are not equal to information, random events do not generate encyclopedias, and life contains encyclopedic levels of complex information.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        You’re wrong. Please take a look at, for instance, the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”.

        • Laszlo,

          I suggest you yourself take a closer look at the Infinite Monkey Theorem https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem – It’s true given infinite numbers, but there are no infinite numbers in the universe and in practical application it’s a total fallacy.

          “However, for physically meaningful numbers of monkeys typing for physically meaningful lengths of time the results are reversed. If there were as many monkeys as there are atoms in the observable universe typing extremely fast for trillions of times the life of the universe, the probability of the monkeys replicating even a single page of Shakespeare is unfathomably minute.”

  12. Laszlo G Meszaros says:

    I looked at the prize page. How information is defined there is wrong. Define information the way, which utilizes the meaning of the verb “to inform”. Once you do that, you might find all kinds of examples. Of course, then you will argue that teaching only applies to human.
    This whole argument is senseless, since believing in some supernatural is always more convenient, than to think and learn…

    • I suggest you take a course in engineering information theory. Hubert Yockey’s book would be a good start.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        Dear Perry, it was a cheap reply; what I am talking about is kinda philosophy. That book is oversimplifying the whole issue (too pragmatic and technical). If you do not see the connection between information and emergence, it’s not my fault.

        • Laszlo,

          A philosophical definition of information doesn’t contribute anything to the question, because in absence of any intelligent / sentient creatures, the definition you provided is meaningless. How can you inform a rock or a polypeptide chain?

          As for emergence, if you can demonstrate an emergent process that produces coded information, my private investment group wants to buy the patent.

          • Arthur Noll says:

            A rock or polypeptide chain is an entity, (has boundaries) and it has information in its physical qualities. An entity has a certain mass, dimensions, forces binding it together, and forces of attraction and repulsion to other entities. It can be informed, with other entities moving close to it, changing it by breakage or adding to it, or changing its movement. Those things in turn mean this newly in-formed entity I put the hyphen in to hilight that the word informed, has the word “formed” in it) can go on to give different information to other entities.

            To have additions happen- two entities becoming one entity- requires specific energy information with the two combining entities. If they have too much energy, they are likely to break each other rather than combine, if too little energy, they will not come together with enough force to overcome boundary forces and become one entity. This holds at different scales and with different fundamental forces. With large entities like planets and stars, orbits will exist at the right energy level, or masses may merge into one with the right combination of energy. Too much energy and orbits will not form, and with too much energy two masses will break each other apart. With too little, they will not come together. Similar things happen with electromagnetic and nuclear forces.
            Replication can happen with forces of attraction forming an entity that is then split apart by another entity, making it possible for the two pieces to form up again. On very simple levels, this is meaningless as far as the existence of life- you have energy levels that have simple atoms becoming molecules, then these are torn apart and reformed again. Still, on a fundamental level, this is replication of molecules. And if you have energy conditions where more complex molecules build up and then get destroyed, (fluctuating energy conditions of a rotating planet, tides with a moon, would help this happen) you could get a molecule that short circuits getting torn down so much, but splits in half and then reforms two of itself. All of this with attraction, repulsion, and the right energy levels. From there, we can notice that anything added to this that makes the replication happen more reliably, will endure, because replication means a form endures. And things added that make a form endure better between replications, that will also replicate, also makes the whole thing endure better. And with that, you have selection of additions- and subtractions- that work better or worse to keep a form enduring in different environments. Energy level, atoms and molecules with the right amount of attraction and repulsion for each other, gives increasing complexity, replication, and selection for endurance.

            I see myself as a complex entity with boundaries, a fluctuating energy level, and various degrees of attraction to some things and repulsion to other things around me. I don’t see anyone whose behavior isn’t composed of the same things. Others may be attracted or repulsed to various degrees, by the observations here. They may be open or closed in their boundaries, with regards to them, as with other things. And they may be selected as enduring forms with their set of attractions and repulsions, or not.
            Can I give you a way to replicate this? I think it could require a star and planet of similar composition to this one, the right distance away.

            Science, I think, is based on a postulate about reality- that matter energy is real and what we detect of it, and its motions, with our senses of matter-energy, is statistically predictable. Scientists don’t (or shouldn’t do it and call it science) speculate about things beyond physical evidence of our senses, because that is limited only by the amount of time we have to spend on it, and it can be very contradictory. It isn’t seen as a good way to make decisions. But being based on a postulate about reality, it isn’t about absolute proof of anything. You can have other postulates about reality- and that doesn’t give proof, either. People often show signs of being highly attracted to postulates that are different from science. Again, from the point of view of science, -or my view of science- that will be an attraction that either endures or it doesn’t.
            I have one more observation to throw into this- I think scientists have made a serious mistake of confusing correlation with causation about a fundamental matter. There has been an assumption that we can find whatever we need, with regard to using up resources of all kinds. But this is counting on imaginary things being found. It is betting lives on a speculation about the future, assuming things exist to be found. This is really not much different from the postulate of religious people that mystical beings exist and can bail us out of trouble. I think this very unscientific assumption could have horrific consequences- that it already is, actually. And another curious observation about all this, is that the person who had a major religion built around him, reportedly said something to the effect of fools build towers without first counting the costs of finishing. Humanity has built a huge number of things, grown a huge population, without honestly counting the costs of keeping it going. Accounting with imaginary things… Foolish, I think.

          • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

            I prefer to look at information with a much broader meaning than Shannon’s. How to do it (in details) is the million dollar question in information science. But, if we really want to connect information to, for instance, physics, then we should be able to do it. Its connection to entropy is a good start.

    • BAK says:

      Would you include any non-material entity in your word “supernatural?” The thought process you used to conceive your post – i.e., your mind – is a non-material entity.

  13. Dennis says:

    Hi Perry.

    Enjoyed your book. I’m grateful for the work and time you put into it.

    You’ve got a lot on your plate now and I imagine you regularly feel incredibly exasperated, infuriatated even. Remember, knowledge puffs people up. Maintain a spirit of humility. When responding to someone, you only need respond with the truth. Remember Proverbs 26:4…& 5 🙂

    All the best.

  14. David says:

    Of course his statement wasn’t science. He was on a radio program and used a metaphor. What’s wrong with that? How does that make him “angry”?

  15. Ryszard Kaczmarczyk says:

    “Science will forever be catching up with relative reality, and in further reducing fractions”. Quotes, from a happy and accidental, temporarily condensed quantum cloud of free-willed humility.

  16. Jim Crocain says:

    there is a difference between anti-theism and atheism

  17. Agreed; many of my fellow atheists are boorish and spiteful. They are less philosophical disputants than rather embarassing studies in developmental psychology.

    You take exception to Dawkins saying that life is a happy chemical accident and call it dodgy and unscientific. The only scientific part of it is the word “chemical,” which I suppose would have universal agreement. To call it “happy” is philosophical, since science as science makes no such judgments. To call it an accident, by which I assume he means it was not planned by an already-living intelligence, is certainly something that science can’t prove, but then, even if such an intelligence were real and its existence believed, neither could science, as science, affirm.

    And as an atheist, Dawkins could hardly say anything else. What would we think of an atheist who said “I hold that there is no God, though I do affirm that there must be some sort of Supreme Mind who engineered life”?

    Really, it almost sounds as though you take exception to the fact that an atheist is, well, an atheist.

    As to taking him to task for not making fully-fleshed-out and precise statements, how is his comment any more to be criticized on that score than “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). That is hardly as precise as the Nicene Creed, but it doesn’t follow that it is “dodgy” and “untheological.”

    • “Accident” is a wholly anti-scientific explanation for the structure in biology. It presumes there are no further laws or principles to be discovered and encourages people to indulge in lazy thinking.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        Dear Perry, this is an “ex cathedra” statement; just replace the word with random, then it is “scientific”. On the other hand, as I pointed out above, although Dawkins’ statement is a bit sloppy, even misleading, but with good intentions. So, please, be forgiving.

        • Random is not scientific either. It is impossible to prove that any sequence of data is random (Chaitin 1991) and the job of a scientist is to find non-random patterns. The random mutation aspect of Darwinian theory is anti-scientific.

          • Sil says:

            So are the patterns snowflakes form
            random or non-random.How would you know?

          • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

            “Random” is a well-defined scientific term. What Chaitin says is the same thing I was saying a couple of days ago: even if you do something randomly, tossing coins, for instance, you still have patterns. This is exactly the point. Another point: the beauty of the Darwinian theory is that even random mutations can lead to evolution, if you do not forget about the other side of the story: SELECTION.
            Start tossing coins. The result, for instance: HTHHTTHHHTT… Let’s say you are only “interested” in the sequence “HHTT”, then you will find it. (Longer the sequence, more chance you have to find it. Longer the sequence, more and more you will find.) Then, let’s say that this subsequence has some wonderful property, it binds molecule A… Let me stop here, you get my point.

            • That is incorrect. When you toss coins randomly you do not get a pattern. The longer the pattern you wish to repeat the more rare it is. Chaitin does not say the same thing you said. Read his paper.

              No one has ever proven that a positive evolutionary mutation was produced by a random DNA mutation event.

              If you disagree, show me. You’ll have to start by finding a formula for proving randomness which does not exist.

              • Richard Morgan says:

                “A series of numbers is random if the smallest algorithm capable of specifying it to a computer has about the same number of bits of information as the series itself.”

                “Numbers having a non-random frequency distribution are exceptional. Of all the possible n-digit binary numbers there is only one, for example, that consists entirely of 0’s and only one that is all 1’s. All the rest are less orderly, and the great majority must, by any reasonable standard, be called random.”
                (Chaitin, 1975)

                • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                  It is almost correct. However, you might be better off with Kolmogorov’s definition on complexity and randomness. On the other hand, we have some definitions of randomness, which are based on statistics. Anyway, whichever way you define randomness, you will find (sub)patterns within any random series, if the series is long enough. (So, Perry is mistaken.) – Would be nice to be able to attach a figure.

              • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                You did not read my comment carefully. A pattern is within the sequence, which you might call a subsequence.
                Although there is no evidence for “positive evolutionary mutataion”, but:
                1. it is a simple and elegant theory and
                2. you keep forgetting about the selection part.
                What makes a mutation “positive” is its future.

                • It is a simple and elegant theory that disobeys the laws of information entropy. Therefore it is wrong.

                  • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                    That is what I am telling you: you just do not want to consider the selection part. The core idea is selection, not mutation. We know that mutations occur at a given rate, they can be advantageous or disadvantageous. (See the selection part?)

                    • Selection can only select something that exists. It’s only the elimination process.

                      “Natural Selection” all by itself is a non-explanation.

                      Thus the generation of novelty is the real issue and the nature of the mutations is the central questions.

                      To just revert back to “selection selection” as some sort of answer is like if someone asked by Starbucks is so successful, if we said “competition and bankruptcy.” It gives no credit to the extreme level of planning, strategy and execution and the myriad of choices that go into the building of a great business. Same with any technology or anything else. The exact nature of biological mutations is of paramount importance and Dawkins and friends completely sweep this under the rug.

                      This is why epigenetics, horizontal gene transfer, transposition and many other systems are such hot areas of biology research.

                      And since we know from information theory that random copying errors cannot be the source of evolutionary novelty, these mechanisms are the cutting edge of evolution research.

                  • Arthur Noll says:

                    I am not experienced with information entropy, but as an offshoot of general entropy, I think that it has to be looked at with some wariness, because I think the evidence is clear to me, that a common interpretation of Boltzmann’s equation for entropy, is flawed. That equation is that entropy is equal to a constant times the natural log of ways of being. I see no problem with this equation-*for the conditions it was derived*. Those conditions were considering a gas at a relatively constant energy level. In such conditions, two different gases released into each other, will of course have many more ways of being with regard to position, as they mix. From this, a general statement has been made, that disorder-relatively more ways of being- tends to increase. But the general condition is not of gases at a constant energy level. The general condition is the second law, of energy dispersing from relatively high energy conditions, to lower energy surroundings. And if you think of those mixed gases losing energy to space over time without more constantly fed in, they would condense into liquids, probably separate with this, and then solidify. Merely becoming liquid is a reduction in the ways of being, with regard to positioning- the atoms or molecules of gas might have been in a lot more places, but now they are condensed down. And in the two gases separating, you have a further reduction of the ways of being. You have increasing order with these things. And what brought about these things, was that with the dispersion of energy, the attraction forces between the atoms were greater than the forces of kinetic energy tearing them apart when they were gaseous.
                    Now, on earth, we have a constant pulsing of energy from the sun, and many elements and combinations, are able to be gas, liquid, and solid in this energy range. And when you look at atoms and molecules combining at the right energy range, you are looking at an increase in order. Two entities, each with their own set of ways of being, become one entity with one set of ways of being. Because “ways of being” can be looked at with many more measurements than positioning. Mass, dimensions, elemental composition, as well as snapshot measures of velocity, acceleration, spin, etc, whatever measurement you want to consider, can be considered for relative amounts in alignment, and give a way of being for a system. We do this as a common sense way of grading lumber, grading all kinds of things. We think of a pile of boards all the same size, piled with parallel orientation, with the same grading of knots, surface finish, to have a high degree of order, because all these measures are in alignment. There are fewer ways of being. So if one combines an entity with its set of measurements, its set of ways of being, with another, you have turned two sets of ways of being, into one, and dramatically increased the order. And conversely, if you rip them apart, you have equally increased the disorder.
                    Life is a dance of order and disorder, looking at this- but overall, the increasing complexity of going from something starting as more simple than a virus, up to single cells and then multicelled life, is an increase in order. And this is something you that fits perfectly with looking at how atoms and molecules are attracted and repulsed by each other, and how they generally come together at lower energy levels, and get ripped apart at higher ones.
                    We put large amounts of energy into ecosystems, and not surprisingly, we rip them apart, simplify them. If you want more order, it forms when energy dissipates. The energy of weapons used in wars, or the energy of a volcanic eruption, can create moonscapes, but when the energy dissipates, life moves back in and grows.
                    So, considering all of this, I think that to say that life is not following laws of entropy, is wrong- I’d say that common ideas about entropy, order and disorder, are flawed. Boltzmann’s equation should be seen as limited to the kind of conditions it was derived from, and not as a general equation.

                    • Life defies entropy. And not because there is some inherent problem with the concept of entropy, but because life is willful and has the ability to purposefully adapt. Your skin healing after you cut your arm is negative entropy.

                      You may or may not be right about Bolzmann equations but I don’t believe that changes this discussion one way or the other.

                      There is no reductionistic explanation for how this happens or why it is possible. We know your body is programmed to repair itself but we don’t know where codes come from besides designers and we don’t know where the original genetic code came from. Just feeding energy into a system will not cause it to repair itself.

                      Randomness can only destroy genomes and this is why the random mutation theory of evolution violates information theory. There is a very deep mystery at the heart of this and only by acknowledging the failures of neo-Darwinism can we get past its limitations and really understand what’s going on.

          • Richard Morgan says:

            So what is a “non-random pattern”? If randomness is impossible to prove, that implies that any sequence whatsoever must be assumed to be non-random. How would randomness be impossible to prove, but non-randomness provable and therefore scientific?
            (Unless, of course, the expression “non-random patterns” is an involuntary pleonasm.)

            • You can prove that the sequence 111111111111000000000000 is non-random to whatever number of decimal places. You can prove gravity. You can prove any pattern in science – OK, not formally prove, but infer with definite statistical significance. That is the very definition of science. The reverse is not true.

            • John Stevens says:

              Let me see if I can translate:

              “Random” implies that there is no cause . . . that things “just happen spontaneously.”

              However, cause and effect are one of the dogmas of the natural science. Things do not occur without a cause, and one cannot be natural scientist without believing in this (as well as a number of other dogmatic statements, but that is a different conversation).

              That is, in fact, the work of studying the natural: to attempt to find and understand the patterns of cause and effect that occur in nature.

              So “random” either has no ontological status, or one of the fundamental dogmas of science is wrong and some things just happen spontaneously, with no cause whatsoever.

      • Alan W says:

        In fact, it is perhaps the most common strategy throughout the Sciences to find and study “Accidents”, which is simply viewing Reality from the perspective of processes and probabilities with the assumption that there is no complex entity manipulating outcomes that can skew your results. Thus, “Happy chemical accident” gives a good description of how life arises from the simpler structures of info in the reality around us… unless you are advocating that Science include studying the behavior of a ghostly complex entity, that we have no good indication exists, let alone know how it behaves. If there are further laws or principles to be discovered, it’s on you to find and explain them.

        • ““Happy chemical accident” gives a good description of how life arises from the simpler structures of info in the reality around us”

          Empirical evidence please?

          • Alan Watts says:

            In this case, there is no need for Empirical Evidence, because the definition of “Accident” is inclusive. The way the chemicals came together will have always been a process, whether from a complex entity that “thinks” and copies its ideas by gluing together chemicals (the gods/God/Aliens/Whatever) or the simplistic entity of nature which “thinks” by doing and filtering “ideas” by their success of maintaining/defending/replicating themselves. Summarizing the behavior of any process is essentially looking at the probable “Accidents” which occur by no one’s manipulation, representing true top-level behavior of reality. Anything that is knowable is connected and within the scope of “Process” and “Accidents”, and anything outside Processes and Accidents are effectively disconnected, and thus useless, meaningless, unexplainable, and magical. Dawkins use of the phrase “Happy Chemical Accident” is a necessary explanation if you ignore these magical possibilities, which is the most sensible, most mainstream-science worthy view. However, it goes a step further with its obvious slant of simplicity, that there is no gods/God/Aliens interfering with the beginnings of life, because for him (and me) the simplest explanation as nature (without a complex entity) is already extremely compelling alone. So this tone and slant that a God is not center stage but extraneous and unnecessary must be what your real qualm is, not the content which technically could allow for a complex entity to exist. So again, its unfair for you to slam Dawkins for this and say he ruined Science and Atheism, when this is the most natural extension of the tools of Science. It’s not his duty or any of the Sciences to find and explain phenomena thru the magical, that’s on you.

            Honestly, I’ve been where you are at, and it is an uphill battle. If you consider proving the opposite of what you advocate, you might be surprised.

            • Accident is not process. And nobody has ever shown that accidents create life or information. If you disagree, come forward with your evidence. I’ve got a $3 million prize – http://www.naturalcode.org and my investors would love to fund the patent.

              • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                Nobody says that accident is a process, accident is an event. See what I was replying to you regarding “selection”, then you will understand where information comes in. (And this is why I was telling you that Chaitin’s definition of information is NOT “broad” enough. A suggestion: simply, try to treat information as entropy decrease in the system; system being biological entity + environment. Then we are getting somewhere.)

                • What if Isaac Newton when seeing the apple fall from the tree had said “Oh that was just a happy accident”?

                  He wouldn’t have discovered gravity.

                  • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

                    1. Your Newton comment is not an adequate reply. 2. You do not really understand the significance of selection as far as gaining information is concerned. 3. The “hot issues” you were mentioning just add to the variety of biological mechanism of genetic changes. So, comment is irrelevant. 4. You say: “we know from information theory that random copying errors cannot be the source of evolutionary novelty…”. Well, information theory would not want to and does not say anything like this. You are plain wrong.

                  • Paul Cotton says:

                    Feeble argument at best.

              • Alan Watts says:

                Process is a change from one configuration to another. Accident is a change from one configuration to another which assumes no manipulator and thus takes the stance that it is the highest level of knowledge. If you are not looking at an accident, then you are not looking at actual information, but rather what an entity intents for you to see, a distortion. Thus, Information is the highest level Process and must include any entity’s behavior and be above it, and thus must be a series of Accidents for it to be Information. This would include whatever process Life had originally formed together through from chemicals.

                • ” Thus, Information is the highest level Process and must include any entity’s behavior and be above it, and thus must be a series of Accidents for it to be Information. This would include whatever process Life had originally formed together through from chemicals.”

                  Empirical evidence please. Show me one instance in which this actually works.

  18. Terry says:

    Well atheism really isn’t a choice. Atheism is a neutral stance on the existence of an intelligent deity in religion. We simply have yet to be convinced that any God of any religion exists or is responsible for creation of life or the universe. Most atheists concede the possibility of a God but know that the gods that humanity has come up with so far aren’t convincing enough to be plausible.

    • Mike Futo says:

      There are probably many kinds of atheists. Some who are emphatic in their beliefs that no God exists and some who are functional agnostics. Atheism is not a problem if they can keep an open mind to the possibility of a Creator and not dismiss it as impossible.

      Christianity specifically requires God to adopt a person or accept the request for relationship. If God has not opened the eyes of someone then they may believe but don’t have assurance of their relational status with God. The feed back mechanism of a relationship with God requires some faith as well.

      All I’m trying to say is that we have here another case of circumstantial evidence for the existence of an intelligent Creator but………. really any evidence no matter how explicite even face to face communication can not prove anything. God is a relational being and thus unpredictable. We can only know as much about another being as that other being will reveal. Genetics reveals general revelation about God as an engineer. That’s about the extent of our ability to discern God from science.

      • Laszlo G Meszaros says:

        What you present here is a nicely worded “opinion”, which has nothing to do with a scientific argument. So, what is your point? “That’s about the extent of our ability to discern God from science.” What does this mean? As far as “discerning” means, science is a system of knowledge, religion is a system of beliefs (by definition). You do not know God, you believe him/her. (It is tempting to hypothesize that we have two races withing humans: the ones who want to know, and the other ones who want to believe.

        • Amy says:

          While I have not read all the articles, that is not my understanding of what is being communicated on this page. He is discussing the importance of scientific approaches to knowing even though he acknowledges that most people already have some biases and beliefs. You could say that belief is another kind of knowing, but when discussing science it helps to acknowledge the distinction between opinions (beliefs or interpretation of information) and facts that can be shown using evidence based methods of experimentation. In the English language the word “know” is used to describe what one does with facts and information as well as being acquainted with others. The word “know” can be used in more than one way with different meaning. To be honest I am not sure what you are asking, but hopefully this clarifies some of what is being said. This information is definitely not about race, it is about ideas and how they are discussed.

      • Joe from Ravenna says:

        “Christianity specifically requires God to adopt a person or accept the request for relationship.”
        Where is your scriptural reference?

  19. Peter Dressler says:

    the public market-place has chosen Mr. Dawkins as a spokes-person. and when u reach his status, i can imagine one wants to simply pontificate at times. it’s a privilege of the elite. so yes he’s vulnerable to criticism. but so be it. i don’t expect perfection from public figures, and neither should anyone else. the market-place chose him, and it can UN-choose him. celebrities come and go.

    • Amy says:

      “the marketplace chose him” seems like an oversimplified expression of how these dynamics really work… When one interviews an expert in a field, it is not expecting perfection to expect some information related to that expertise instead of a dodgy answer that your middle schooler could come up with.

  20. Mike Futo says:

    Ok now I read your article on the Incompleteness theorem. You summarized it beautifully. So much for my making a unique point. Thanks for these interesting articles………….

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