Saturday, November 6, 2010

Science Saved my Soul

Hopefully I'm not the last person to have seen this, excellent stuff.


  1. Very moving, and I'm not easily, uh, moved.

  2. An atheist's manifesto, eh?

    People blind to what's in front of them...sad.

  3. Maybe it's me, but the first thought that comes to my mind when I am gobsmacked by pictoral expressions of the umfathomable wonders of the universe is most definitely not: "I hate religion!"

  4. No, I suppose it would be "My but we're lucky that the sky man spent so much time making all this so that we could look at pretty pictures."

  5. Just keep scorning and mocking the religious, Shiner, especially from your platform of superior understanding and knowledge, and watch what happens. Study history much?

  6. "My but we're lucky that the sky man spent so much time making all this so that we could look at pretty pictures."

    Remember this post when you actually meet the "sky man." You'll have no excuse.

  7. I apologize Peter, that was harsh.

    I did study history, it, as opposed to science, turned me away from the Catholic Church. It's difficult to believe in the sanctity of something when you can literally establish the step-by-step "evolution" of the tenets.

  8. No probs, Shiner. I must say that, much as I love arguing the religion/science question, I've learned that it can be tough to debate with lapsed Catholics. Whereas we Prots and Jews tend to drift and dribble away from the religion of our childhoods in a fit of absence of mind (and can therefore be emotionally distanced with these questions), there often seems to be a residual anger with ex-Catholics born of a sense of betrayal, and a tendency to conflate basline theological questions about purpose and meaning with the cruelties inflicted by Sister Mary Catherine or the nonsense Father Michael spewed after he'd had a few too many.

    But I really, really didn't get the point of the video.

  9. I'm not an angry atheist. I had a wonderful Catholic upbringing. To this day I support a separate Catholic school system. My parish priest was fantastic. I enjoyed serving as an altar boy. It would be foolish to suggest that my close knit large Irish-Catholic-Canadian family isn't the way it is partly because of the Catholic culture. I just can't reconcile historical facts about the development of the Church with its supposedly sacred beliefs. Post upcoming to flesh this out.

  10. Well done "Shiner" an excellent video. I was born a Canadian as no child is born practicing a religion, however their parents might. Never the less what I can say is that neither I nor other non believers need to use some manmade malarkey to explain what we do not understand. No religion including Catholicism past or present has any empirical evidence let alone fact to prove the existence of an invisible guy or guys creating anything.

    With the passage of time, science and scientists will continue to prove those religious folks delusional. Galileo Galilei was branded a heretic for favouring the Copernican position by the same religious group that your family is associated with and that is their prerogative. It was not until 1992 that the Galileo affair was addressed regretting the false heresy claim made by the Catholic Church.

    Rather than continue posting facts, rest assured your video has not gone unnoticed and has been appreciated, understood and enlightened people. Being an atheist does not require anger; on the other hand most non believers are open minded people who require real proof before believing.

    Thank you for the wonderful video, well done, well made and welcomed.

  11. To be clear, not my video, made by Phil Hellenes.

  12. Strange, my difficulty discussing with so called clear minded Protestants is that they claim a deeper understanding of the doctrinal tensions within the Catholic Church than anything that came out of the collective work of theologians during the Second Vatican Council. It is even a great challenge trying to explain to Evangelicals why it is theologically compatible for the Catholic Church to accept evolution. But, hey, why disrupt the almost continuing patronizing of Catholics and their internal grievances? We always need a good reminder of what 19th century Ottawa was like.

  13. Heh, OK, jkg, I probably deserved that. Let me make amends by admitting Catholic theology can be far richer and sophisticated than Protestant, although that can be a two-edged sword to those who object to dogmatic certitude. Would any 19th century Protestant be so ecumenical? My point was simply that many lapsed Catholics can see these debates as more visceral and personal.

    Assuming anyone here is up for a discussion rather than just throwing barbs, I'd like to comment on Fraser's remark that With the passage of time, science and scientists will continue to prove those religious folks delusional.. As has been noted many times, that is itself a statement of faith, and it's a biq question as to whether scientific discovery is bearing it out. It seems to me that scientific consensus offered a much better grounding for "intellectually fulfilled" atheist materialism in, say, the fifties than it does today. Back then, it was mainstream to believe the universe was stable with no beginning or end. Stuff happens. Life was a freak accident (remember the random chemical reaction in a warm pond of primal goop?), and Darwinism took everything from there. That we are alone seemed nearly impossible, but it was easy to dismiss the lack of alien contact as a function of distance and lack of technology. We'd find them someday as sure made the little green apples. And belief we would discover a grand unified theory of everything was widespread and orthodox.

    Today, we know the universe had a dramatic, measurable origin and that it is racing to ultimate oblivion for reasons no one can explain. The cosmological constant and other physical laws have been shown to be so astoundingly subtle and fine-tuned that the chance of life appearing randomly has now been calculated at less than one in the number of atoms in the universe, which has led scientific materialism to grasp onto nebulous, unprovable and not terribly satisfying theories like the multiverse or self-generating universes. Likewise, cell structure has proven to be so mind-blowingly complex that random accident as an explanation is right off the probability charts. For thirty years the best minds in physics have been addressing string theory in hopes of finding the grand unified theory and, according to Lee Smolin, all they have to show so far is an infinite number of string theories. Quantum mechanics and relativity are no more reconcilable than they were two generations ago. We can only make sense of the universe with reference to huge amounts of dark matter and dark energy no one has observed or can say is out there with any scientific authority. Darwinism can't account for subjective human experience or consciousness (i.e. from music to genocide) without relying on improbable just-so stories that offend experience and plausibility. As to alien life, despite huge advances in our ability to see and hear into the far reaches of the universe, nary a trace. Indeed, when I was a kid, scientists confidently looked for sentient aliens, but now they seem to become almost orgasmic at the hint of a few water molecules somewhere out there.

    None of this comes within light-years of organized religion, but I suggest it shows Fraser's faith in steady scientific progress debunking religion would impress a 17th century Jesuit.

  14. Au contraire Peter, I enjoy fact over fiction unless the book I am reading for enjoyment falls into that category. Trusting fact whether scientific, mathematic or anything that could cross one's path during their daily life is not a statement of faith. For example I had new state of the art braking equipment installed on my vehicle which would leave me to trust this improvement to the system will stop any movement when activated.

    Any attempt at digressing from the topic (Science Saved my Soul) could only be thought of as a feeble attempt to hang onto a canard. My interest in science has been one that I have followed through out my life to date. As a child of the 50's I am on presently on pension which affords more time to read and research scientific discoveries awaiting the human animals that inhabit this rock.

    Considering that 13.7 billion years which has elapsed since the universe began evolving it is highly possible that those folks ignorant of the facts were writing the records. Peter your desire to pedal your religion displays a purblindness that some folks including the present pope offer. There are numerous older religions which worship many spirits, but your special newer version must be the truth. The oldest known religion is shamanism, examples of this date back to when Neanderthal still accompanied us on the planet.

    Yes Peter "stuff happens" and until those people who are trying to solve and understand what is temporarily unknown those of us who are non believers are resolved to say "we honestly don't know, but someday we might". The bible is a lovely book of pose, but to believe it would be pure self-deception. The book has been written by man in the style of the people the best part of 2000 years ago and should not be taken literally. No dinosaurs, a man living inside a fish, the earth flooding, and too many other tales to cover here and now.

    Peter, you have been quite generous in your use of numbers that seem to have been tweaked in your favour. During my last look at the odds there are 10 billion planets in the universe which scientists believe will support life. The Drake Equation has the number of planets in our own galaxy which could support life at 10,000.

    Your feeble attempt at debunking science is almost humourous to say the least. It seems that your new younger god made Adam from "dust of the ground" which leaves no wiggle room for the formation of the species "Homo Sapiens" and the findings of anthropologists. In the 50's we did not know of exoplanets, and various forms of life that do not require the same human life support system. Advancements have been made to which the Catholic Church had to adopt or be out of date. The future will bring even more and I look forward to witnessing them.

    Back to the topic, I found Shiner's video and the effort put forward to make it commendable. It gives those of us no swayed by bunk enjoyment to see younger folks are open minded as well.

  15. Fraser, you may sleep better believing the epicentre of Christianity or even theism is a creationist theme park in rural Kentucky, but I think you will find that many, maybe most, believers do not think the Bible is an alternative natural history textbook. What in the name of evolution led you to believe I was debunking science? I am not a scientist myself, and therefore cannot substantiate the brain-bleedingly difficult theoretical math that underlies the discoveries I mentioned, but surely you don't believe I got them from scripture or a sermon by a televangelist from Mississippi? They all come from leading scientists who were grappling with where science is going and what it can and cannot say with scientific confidence. None of them are religious, but they can be pretty caustic about the scientific overreach of guys like Dawkins. My argument was hardly that science has in some way validated religion, it was that the shibboleth about how science is progressively "disproving" it is arguable. We didn't even get to what "it" is.

    And let's be fair, you didn't say "we honestly don't know, but someday we might", you said With the passage of time, science and scientists will continue to prove those religious folks delusional... Quite a difference. You know, if you don't like religion and are intellectually satisfied that science alone can give you the answers to the big questions, that's great, but the case for science triumphant doesn't become stronger because you really, really, really hate religion or see it as the province of intellectually-challenged types who rely on prayer to tell them which braking system to install on their cars.

  16. If Occam's Razor doesn't do for you "one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything". Then as a rational human animal I choose to believe in Orgel's Second Rule: "Evolution is cleverer than you are".

    Religion has no proof, just babble no matter how it is sliced and diced. Fact versus fiction no matter how long it takes.