Penn on Theism, Atheism and Agnosticism.

This video is a prime example of what I consider a positive (or at least Neutral) attitude about Theism, Atheism and Agnosticism. Unlike many of the folks who feel the need to rant and rave about the evils of one or the other, Penn Jillette has managed to distill the issue into simple, practical, and more importantly, logical and unbiased/objective questions.

I do not always agree with his view points on things, since I find he sometimes does make flawed assumptions that weaken many of his otherwise strong arguments. But in this case, his attitude and reasoning is something that I wish we would see more often from supposedly rational, logical and unbiased people, as opposed to the hostile, prejudiced and irrational approach so many people often seem to take on both sides.

Penn Says: Agnostic vs. Atheist – [YouTube]

I am Infinitely Less Holier Than Thou…

You know, people have given me a lot to think about. It is becoming more and more obvious that for many of you, the debate about religion vs atheism has little to do with actual rights, intelligence, violence, or anything of any relevance whatsoever, and more to do with being right, people trying to feel better about themselves, and, of course getting their own way.

I’ve heard some really stupid religiously motivated garbage. Non-believers should perish. The believer is more important than the non-believer. God told me to kill those people. God’s wants me to persecute them. It is impossible for a non-believer to be good. Associate with sinners and you’ll go to hell.

Dancing is of the devil. (no, I kid you not – life is stranger than fiction.) I’ve read a lot of religious texts. And I’ve realized that what many people get out of them is what *they* want to take from them. They are all written in a metaphorical style, and as a result, they are all highly subject to interpretation. And this is where, in this humble bloggers opinion, people go wrong.

That’s not to say that the other side is blame free. I keep hearing Atheists talking about having their rights violated by religious zealots. For things that are ridiculously just trivial. And then gleefully sliding down that slippery slope to whatever conclusions gets their knickers all a-twist. Yet the same people turn around and say that *nobody* should not be allowed to pray in schools, as if it’s an infringement of their rights if someone should dare say a few “Hail Mary’s” in their presence, or say Grace before a meal. Meanwhile, a person can cuss up a storm, regardless of who may happen to find swearing offensive, then stick their nose in the air and say “Freedom of speech!” and everyones lips snap shut.

And then theres things like this: “Why are atheist mad? Because it’s religions people are pretentious! It’s as if they think they are better than us!” Yes, I’ve actually heard that said. Meanwhile, The very same atheist are calling religious people stupid for believing in what they believe to be the equivalent of the tooth fairy. As if belittling anothers belief system was not at all condescending in any way. Yeah. Right.

It’s one thing to say that everyone should be given the choice whether to pray or not, but I hear some of you saying that ALL RELIGION must be removed from schools, hospitals, etc, and that is just going to the opposite extreme. Might as well ban cussing, swearing, spitting, eating red meat, smoking, drinking, etc, etc, etc. Yes it sounds extreme, but this is exactly the same type of legislation many atheists would like to see with respect to religion. And if that happens, you can all just call me Plissken.

Who is really looking down on whom, I wonder? My personal take? Both camps are being selfish, pretentious, illogical and intolerant. Religious folks cannot blame “sinners/nonbelievers” for all that is wrong in the world. I know many nonreligious folks who are much better, higher quality people, than quite a few Christians I know.

Conversely, atheists cannot blame “Religion” for everything either. The acts of a few fanatics do not represent “religion” as a whole, and and even if they did, proposing complete religious prohibition would still be prejudice. “Because it could possibly offend someone.” is not a good rational to make something illegal. Why do people not get that? Everyone is offended by something these days. If we follow that train of thought, everything would be illegal.

It seems very few people these days seem to truly understand the meaning of balance and tolerance.

Creationist vs. Scientist…

I ran into a very interesting post about Billy Grahams stance on creationism and science. I won’t repeat the entire text because the salient parts are included the the blog at the link below, but I found it interesting that we both have a similar tack on creation, science and man. I am, as I have professed on a couple of occaisions, a theistic scientist. I don’t believe that science and faith must be mutually exclusive. I find that there are often interesting parallels between the two.

And while one has a supposedly more “methodical” approach, I still see a lot of what looks a whole lot like “faith” involved in the scientific process, and a lot of practical “science” in faith. So they may not be as anathema to each other as many people think. I’ll grant that I may not share Billy Grahams views and beliefs on everything, or even practice my “faith” like everyone else, but I thought it interesting that it was still possible to come to similar conclusions even from a purely religious standpoint…

Billy Graham on Young-Earth/Old-Earth – [Careful Thought]

The Fermi Paradox rears it’s ugly head…

The Fermi Paradox refers to the apparent lack of evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life, when all other probabilistic scientific determinations would indicate that the alternative should be true, and there should be intelligent life out there.

In other words, if we assume that the way life developed on earth is stereotypical of the development of life in general, and that given the same conditions, life should developed again in the same way, then given the high probability of similar conditions existing on other planets in the universe, having existed far longer than the earth has, why have we not seen any evidence this extraterrestrial life?

At first people thought that we simply lacked the technology to detect the signs of this life, but recent scientific advancements have suggested that this may not be the case. It is an interesting dilemma. What I find equally interesting is that in spite of this paradox, the possibility that we were created, as opposed to simply springing out of some prehistoric primordial soup does not seem to have been honestly considered.

I’ve always thought this argument an interesting one, and being that I consider myself both a theist (of sorts) as well as a firm believer in science, I would offer this thought. Maybe we are still not advanced enough to detect extra terrestrial life. Or maybe theists are right, and we were all created. The absence of evidence can never be the evidence of absence, so as a scientist, in my own humble opinion, all I can honestly say is that we simply do not have enough data to rule anything out. Nor should we assume that the two are mutually exclusive…

Just a thought…

The Fermi Paradox is Back – [Slashdot]

The Fermi Paradox: Back with a vengeance – [Sentient Developments]