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Freethinking Maties’ Darwin Day Celebrations

February 13th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 64 Comments

UPDATE: Johan Swarts owns his quote, on his blog. His post is in Afrikaans: Freethinking Maties: Ateïste Anoniem. Do any English people want me to translate?

Yesterday, Freethinking Maties aired a PBS documentary on Darwin and his life. Attendance was good (read: more than 20?). The evening ended with time pressure chasing us all out, so there wasn’t much time for any kind of discussion or interaction. As such, it was also hard to determine what perspectives were present, but a number of “my” friends also turned up (read: 4 specific people). The biologist (working on her PhD in behavioural ecology) writes:

The biological elements in the documentary were adequate and quite interesting (especially the research done on the evolution of HIV, on which I am trying to get more info actually…). Not so thrilled about the other elements though…;)

“The other elements” were re-enactments of Darwin’s life. Humorous… Another of my friends, with a good sense of humour, commented that it reminded him of “Faith Like Potatoes, for atheists”. (With reference to the acting, in particular. ;) )

Rehashing my tired old sentiments

The chairperson of Freethinking Maties echoed the young earth creationist perspective that evolution and “religion” is incompatible. *sigh*. One hypothesis: he is spewing anti-religion in order to chase any “Christians like me” away through frustration. Alternative hypothesis: his knowledge of “religion”, or lack thereof, has him defining “religion” as “belief in Intelligent Design creationism” (with a good pinch of homophobia). Either way, this kind of sentiment could turn Freethinking Maties into a group for anti-religion people, occasionally rearing its head for public battles that reinforce “religion versus science” stereotypes.

Of course, this is a perfectly valid choice. Many non-religious people do have a desire to find a place where they can “fit in”, where they can rant and rave and let out all their “anti-religion” frustration. Using this approach, they could increase their membership by preying on insecure people that “want to belong”, providing them with an identity and a support group. It won’t be the first group on campus that does this. For the quote lovers, a “Rob Carle” wrote this on Facebook:

A story worth considering: Mother Teresa was asked to join a protest against the war in Vietnam. She declined, saying that she was unable to protest against war, but if there was a protest for peace she would be pleased to attend.

I still choose to believe it will become more of a pro-science group, rather than an anti-religion one. This belief is based on input from other committee members. I’m sure the committee’s official focus and policy is good, just please realise that at a meeting where only the chairperson ever really speaks, his opinions can easily be assumed to be “official society position”, rather than his own personal sentiments.

Shalom, friends.

Categories: Religion and Science
Tags: ·

64 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Feb 13, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.

    — Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

    http://www.wagingpeace.org/menu/issues/peace-&-war/start/peace-quotes/index.htm

  • 2 Ben // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    “Faith Like Potatoes, for atheists”

    BAAAHAAA HA HA HA LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!

  • 3 Ben // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Schweet maturity man! :0)

    Too often Anti-theists are grouped under the Atheist banner. Great is the canyon that seperates these two parties.

  • 4 Ben // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    We have two Bens here?

    I had to google ‘faith like potatoes’ – never heard of it.

  • 5 Ben // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Great is the canyon that seperates these two parties.

    No, one is a subset of the other.

  • 6 Hugo // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Yup, two Bens, one an atheist, the other “saved”. I suggest you figure out how to distinguish one another on this blog. ;-)

    Faith Like Potatoes – good old South African film. Meh.

  • 7 Bennaluuks // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    How about “good Ben” and “bad Ben”? I’ll be “Bad Ben”

  • 8 Bennaluuks // Feb 13, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Ben

    No, one is a subset of the other.

    Unpack please?

    PS. How do you gooi that indentation?

  • 9 Hugo // Feb 13, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    The biggest umbrella “atheist” term, which I’m sure Ben (good Ben, hehe) would give, is “someone without a belief in God”. This umbrella definition would include certain strands of Buddhism.

    The typical “anti-theist”, in the way I use the term, also has no belief in God, hence, is also an atheist. Thus, “anti-theist” as a subset of “atheist”.

    Another potential kind of supposed “anti-theist” that I have not discussed, might have a belief in God, and be anti that God…

  • 10 Bad Ben // Feb 13, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Now we talking!

  • 11 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 13, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    You do the indentation by using blockquote tags. Pretend there is a “” (a less than symbol before and a greater than symbol after) around each ‘blockquote’ or ‘/blockquote':

    blockquote This would be quoted /blockquote

  • 12 Hugo // Feb 14, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Another potential kind of supposed “anti-theist” that I have not discussed, might have a belief in God, and be anti that God…

    …and that kind of anti-theist isn’t an atheist. And should not be confused with atheists. And is currently a completely hypothetical entity to me, I’ve not come across any of these. Just idle musings. Hypothetically, they’d possibly be angry rebellious teenagers that no-one takes seriously. ;)

  • 13 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 14, 2008 at 12:34 am

    …and that kind of anti-theist isn’t an atheist. And should not be confused with atheists. And is currently a completely hypothetical entity to me, I’ve not come across any of these.

    According to wikipedia a while ago (I think the articles have since been edited way down or deleted) these people would be dystheists (believes god is other than wholly good) or maltheists (believes god is evil). That’s one of my ‘proofs’ that even if there were a god, it is very clear he has not made his wishes known.

    In history, we can always find supremely powerful rulers with opinions. We can often find opponents who disagreed with those opinions even to the point of torture or death.

    If god had made his opinions known, there should be plenty of people who say things like ‘god believes abortion is wrong but he is wrong about that’ or ‘god believes abortion is OK but he is wrong about that.’ Instead you will only find theists who claim god holds certain opinions that the theist holds also.

    If god existed and had actually made his opinions known, there would be dystheists and maltheists. There aren’t; theists are just projecting.

  • 14 Bad Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 9:40 am

  • 15 Bad Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 9:43 am

    still not getting it. Is “block quote” the name of that kind of indentation?

  • 16 Bad Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 9:44 am

    please work

  • 17 Bad Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 9:45 am

    do you type a less than sign, then a space, then the text, then a forward slash, then a greater than sign?

    That doesn’t work for me.

  • 18 -M- // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I think you have to give them some time to adjust…this is what, the first event they organized? The 2 other ones were just basically admin stuff, if I remember correctly…Beside, time was running out, so it made sense that the chairperson was the only one to speak…
    I still do believe that a discussion/debate would have been nice afterwards… feeling shared by my botanist friend, who hopefully will be willing to come to other meetings…

    Be patient… ;)

  • 19 Rinus // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:42 am

    That doesn’t work for me.

    is done

    That doesn’t work for me.

    just use the forward slash instead of the backslash

  • 20 Rinus // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Haha… ok… both slashes work. Strange.

    Let’s try again

    meh lah

  • 21 Rinus // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Sorry for the spam… seems that even using ‘(slash)’ instead of ‘/’ or ‘\’ works….

    so much for convention

  • 22 Hugo // Feb 14, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    My free-translation of what Johan Swarts writes, read his post for the “authoritative” Afrikaans version, don’t trust me:

    ========

    Freethinking Maties: Atheists Anonymous

    Together with Bertus! and Hugo, I recently attended Freethinking Maties’ Darwin day, where a documentary about Charles Darwin’s life was shown. Apart from the sometimes below average acting (in the parts where anecdotes of Darwin’s life were dramatized), the one thing that bothered me was the way how the campus’ “freethinkers” sat and stared at a screen as if it was Jesus himself. [Missing a translation of the adjective "klakkeloos" here.] It was like “Faith Like Potatoes” for non-theists.

    The film was like a church service [erediens?]. Every joke, no matter how weak, was greeted with hearty laughter. The majority of the scientists that were interviewed between the sketches, had words like “we can be almost certain” and “we believe”. (This includes Stephen Jay Gould.) There were a large number of unlogical statements in the documentary, as well as a nearly irrelevant appearance, effectively an anomaly, by a Catholic, evolutionary biologist.

    In a nutshell, it was a mediocre film which, had I have been an anti-evolutionist with a critical approach (I’m sure there are some of those out there), would not have convinced me of the opposite in the slightest. Still, Freethinking Maties took the film as a kind of sermon. A [Gedenk] service. (Or that’s how it looked, in any case.) The atmosphere of the whole event was one of religious adherence to a particular fixed set of ideas. Of true freethinking, there was no sign.

    Needless to say, me and my fellow bloggers found it quite amusing.

    If there was ever a chance I’d join the Freethinking Maties, there isn’t any any more. They might as well change their name to Atheists Anonymous – at least it would be honest.

    Disclaimer: If you see this entry as an opinion for or against evolution / atheism, you’re reading me wrong. The issue here is hypocrisy.

    ========

    Strong words, I don’t agree with all of it. Maybe I should write a more formal response to his post?

  • 23 Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    do you type a less than sign, then a space, then the text, then a forward slash, then a greater than sign?

    If I do this right, it should show you exactly how to type it:

    <blockquote> This text will be quoted </blockquote>

  • 24 Bad Ben // Feb 14, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    He was learning fast…

  • 25 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    wow , i’m impressed :P christains bitching about anti-atheists expressing their beliefs at a freethought society meeting :) noone would have expected _that_…
    love that about you guys :) You illustrate why you don’t belong at a freethought society meeting..
    i wonder if you would have been happy if the poor guy said ‘god bless’ or said evolution is compatible with religion even tho _HE_ doesnt believe so?
    oh right , unless its _your_ belief then if anyone contradicts or trys to further their belief within their society then they are preying on ‘insecure people that “want to belong”, providing them with an identity and a support group.’

    oh wait , look , the super Pot calling the kettle black…

  • 26 A Response to Johan Swarts Re: Freethinking Maties // Feb 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    [...] is largely in response to Johan Swarts’ post, Freethinking Maties: Atheists Anonymous. I made a poor translation in a comment on my previous [...]

  • 27 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Gerhard: you’re a pot and a kettle.

    First of all, who are you calling a Christian? Or are you just assuming that anyone criticising a Freethinkers gathering must necessarily be Christian?

    And you’re clueless about the context. *sigh* You weren’t even there…

  • 28 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    And no, I couldn’t care less whether he believes evolution or religion is compatible or not, but jokes ridiculing anyone that thinks it is is absurd. Tell me what is wrong about me pointing that out?

    And you are taking my words out of context.

  • 29 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    hugo : yep i wasnt there, i am going by what you write :P apparently reading this blog means you remain clueless about what is written on this blog :) hehe

    yeah , i do make assumptions that in a city in christain biblebelt that the criticism put forward are by christains esp on a christain blog…. sorry … how presumptuous of me :P

    ok, now back to explaining my criticism :P
    i was responding to

    The chairperson of Freethinking Maties echoed the young earth creationist perspective that evolution and “religion” is incompatible.One hypothesis: he is spewing anti-religion in order to chase any “Christians like me” away through frustration. Alternative hypothesis: his knowledge of “religion”, or lack thereof, has him defining “religion” as “belief in Intelligent Design creationism” (with a good pinch of homophobia).

    a freethought society is supposed to be about debate formed on the basis of science and logic and not be influenced by emotion, authority, tradition, or any dogma.
    His remark was probably his opinion yes , but you would (if the ideal holds in that group) be welcome to state yours too. You shouldnt have a emotion reaction like this and abandon the idea of a open debate (freethought ) society just because people express their opinion esp when you dislike the opinion held :P
    the debate afterwards, had there been time, should have been around his comment , ie. are the two compatible :)

  • 30 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    btw, that boteach debate with hitchens raises a good question ‘ can ask: do you believe in god ? without asking which god?’
    personally i think hitchenses answer is awesome but get cut too short

  • 31 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Hmm…

    on a christain blog

    I don’t describe my blog that way, do I?

    But thanks, the details are good and useful, now we can have a discussion:

    but you would (if the ideal holds in that group) be welcome to state yours too.

    If only that were the case. I don’t feel I am welcome to state my opinion, and the comment by the chairperson was a non-negotiable ridiculing joke, just before the movie began. There was no opportunity for discussion or debate. In previous meetings it was also made clear to me that I came under the impression that some of my opinions are not to be discussed. And I do respect their desires, but it is frustrating.

    What Johan and I want, is open debate. Not biased, suppress-alternative-ideas-with-ridicule, I’m right because science is the only thing that is true and correct…

    can ask: do you believe in god ? without asking which god?

    Yes you can. The McLaren take on this, for example, which reflects mine (I’m just giving him credit), has all religious traditions having a particular view of God. We can all learn from one another. This take, this non-fundamentalistic take, is not the exclusive “my God is right and yours is wrong”, it is the “ok, we’re from different traditions, what can we learn from one another about God”?

    And this is why I must continue with more “What is God?” posts. I’d love it if the more vitriolic anti-theists could make a more valuable contribution to that conversation than “Your language sucks, morons! Nothing we can learn from one another. Just get naturally selected and be done with it.”

  • 32 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Re: Freethinking Maties meetings:

    Of course, those were admin meetings, and there was no time. But that’s always been the case so far, there’s never been time for open discussion, only time for ridicule and “we’re better”. But the society is in its infancy.

    This was the first meeting of the first year that it really existed. So I’ll give it time and opportunity. And my blog posts are about trying to counter some of the tendencies that I recognised in previous meetings. The effort I put into this, was much appreciated by some of my other non-Christian friends. I don’t know if it was really necessary, but at the time, it felt like I was the only one fighting that battle. And that’s quite a strain.

  • 33 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    yeah, but that is McLaren ‘s god :) which is different to the fundamentalistic bible literalist god.

    “my God is right and yours is wrong”, it is the “ok, we’re from different traditions, what can we learn from one another about God”?

    , this is the problem tho, there is no god :P there is not fundamentalist god and there is no mclaren’s god which redefines god to include deism ideas into it..
    seriously , this is where you loose the plot all together , you want atheists to accept ‘god’ so that you can tell them about _YOUR_ god ….

  • 34 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Ag, bullshit, gerhard. Please shut up and go away so that I can find more time to lay out my ideas in more detail.

    Clearly you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Congratulations. Go be self-righteous elsewhere.

  • 35 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    btw ‘do you believe in god ? without asking which god?’ is a theistic response to atheistic univeralism :) which is what ur problem is with hitchens and dawkins :) which again , from the point of view of ‘there is no god’ leads to having to explain why so many people are so crazy to start with , hence books like ‘god delussion’ and ‘god is not great ‘ answering that on non-theistic terms :P

  • 36 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    And gerhard, there is no such thing as “love”. It’s only hormones pumping through your brain. And there’s no such thing as intelligence, you’re just a bunch of neurons that fire in cool patterns. You’re just a bunch of matter. So don’t go around thinking you’re clever. You also have no friends, as there is no such thing as a “friend”, there exists only organisms that want to survive because their genes program them that way, so the people around you are only selfish in their interaction with you.

    Go be friendless elsewhere.

    Or learn to understand the difference between “meh” and “lah”.

  • 37 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Clearly you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Congratulations.

    ==

    Ag, bullshit, gerhard. Please shut up and go away so that I can find more time to lay out my ideas in more detail.

  • 38 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Are you saying I’m saying I’m right and you’re wrong? If so, well, there’s not much I can do for you.

    I can also apologise for my frustration and sweeping statement, but that’d also miss the point. You frustrate many people on this blog. Christian and atheist alike. Though, of course, I also have friends that value your input, because you represent another part of their psyche.

    I just wish we could waste less time. Or I could waste less time then. How do I do that? By not responding to you so often?

  • 39 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    And gerhard, there is no such thing as “love”.
    It’s only hormones pumping through your brain.

    thats a gross simplification , but pretty much covers it except i would add: that love is mostly chemical , aspects of love is taught by nature and nurture , why do you think love is such a subjective experiance ? that for some people love can also be raping people or torturing them?? i would recommend you fiddle with mdma sometime so you can understand just how chemically influenced your thoughts are :)

    And there’s no such thing as intelligence, you’re just a bunch of neurons that fire in cool patterns. You’re just a bunch of matter. So don’t go around thinking you’re clever.

    ehm, intelligence? yeah that is derived from generating understanding. hence the ability of the loyalty vote in southafrica to dominate politics dispite being worse off each year :)

    You also have no friends, as there is no such thing as a “friend”, there exists only organisms that want to survive because their genes program them that way, so the people around you are only selfish in their interaction with you.

    so you dont think one makes friends out of the need for community or reinforcement of world view?
    just because there is a technical or greater reason for you to be looking for friends doesnt mean that that fact cheapens the experiance!!!
    personally , i know , that if i loose a friend , irrespective of who , that they can be replaced by new friends who will be just as important if nt more , why do i know this ? because i have experianced it :) i also know the same to be true about lovers etc. but again , knowing this doesnt mean it cheapens the experiance like you seem to believe :) we’re all in the same boat :)

  • 40 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Are you saying I’m saying I’m right and you’re wrong? If so, well, there’s not much I can do for you.

    i am saying that you are doing exactly the same thing as me :P you just are unaware that you do this too :)

  • 41 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    It would seem you completely missed the point of that comment. And that demonstrates my point yet again.

    just because there is a technical or greater reason for you to be looking for friends doesnt mean that that fact cheapens the experiance!!!

    I’m sorry gerhard, that’s an extraordinary claim. I demand extraordinary evidence.

  • 42 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    sorry i’m not sure i understand what u mean now ?
    are you saying that because something has no extraodinary cause that it is cheapend and that it would require extraordinary evidence to prove that it isnt being cheapened by having an physical explination?

  • 43 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    OK, I cannot quite agree with that. Here’s how I see it:

    I’m saying I need some time to get around to explaining my perspectives. You rehash the same perspectives over and over and over again, and it drives me mad. What I’m basically asking is that you give me some more time to try to get my perspectives more clearly laid out defined, before you continue repeating the same thing over and over again.

    So what’s wrong here? Probably that I respond to it every time, eh?

  • 44 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    The very effort of trying to explain your bullshit to you is driving me mad. I’d prefer it you stop trying to lay words in my mouth and stop trying to tell me what I’m trying to do.

    You waste my time, gerhard, you waste my time. But yes, that’s my fault, not yours.

  • 45 Bad Ben // Feb 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    OKAY!

    I’d say the lack of consideration on the parts of both parties:

    in terms of spelling- Gerhard (get a dictionary dude!)

    and in terms of tactfull tolerance – Hugo (i have too muchrespect for you to allow you to throw your credibility away by engaging such antagonistic banter with such a gross lack of control.)

    You’re being childish guys.

    Stop it.

  • 46 Bad Ben // Feb 15, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    oops. I meant to say the lack of consideration in those two aspects calls for it’s imminent & permanent termination.

    In other words:

    Use those admin rights Hugo!!!

  • 47 Negate // Feb 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Gerhard what you are saying makes sense. Just because you know what causes the experiences does not cheapen the effects it has on you. Some people also understand that believing in god has positive effects on there lives.

    I think that is exactly the point hugo wanted to make. The Thing is, most atheists seem to have a problem that people believe in a god without any evidence, but this is were atheist are dogmatic in the approach, because god is a personal thing. Its about the effect god has on the psyche not about whether he exists or not.

    >Freethinking Maties meetings

    I also agree with gerhard on this matter. The last thing a atheist or a theist should debate is god. There is no point to it. U can twist the defenition of god as much as you like, the fact remains to an atheist god is not a logical possibility. A freethinking society as per definition should ride upon logic. By saying things like what was said in johan swarts blog(“klakkeloos na ‘n skerm gestaar het asof dit Jesus self was. Dit was soos Faith Like Potatoes vir nie-teïste.”)

    Sulke goed word gese not om kak te soek. Dit is duidelik dat van julle te emosioneel raak omdat ateiste nie in God glo nie. Julle mis die hele punt as julle geloof in ‘n vryedenke groep wil debateer. Geloof is nie gebaseer op logieka nie, dis iets persoonlik.

  • 48 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks Bad Ben. /me tips my hat at Bad Ben. Time for me to grow up. Um, as if that process is ever complete.

    On using admin rights: that’s hard. I don’t think censorship is an option. Disabling comments when a debate goes too far is an option.

    PienkZuit’s comment, on the other post, helped me a lot, and gave me some idea of how I should probably deal with this. I’m shocked at my own failure in recognising the similarity. (If you’ve been on the Afrikaans blogosphere long enough, you’ll know what I mean.)

  • 49 gerhard // Feb 15, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    bad ben : totally agree with you, he should use the admin rights if he truely feels that i am so unwelcome :) i will continue until my email addy is banned because i dont feel hugo is a waste of my time.. regarding that dictionary , notice how certan words keep being spelt in mutiple different ways in one reply? my fingers are too quick .. spell check prevents the intense 2min reply session hugo has :P

    negate: thank you very very much , i felt like i was talking to a black hole for a second there … you need to comment more!!!

    Sulke goed word gese not om kak te soek. Dit is duidelik dat van julle te emosioneel raak omdat ateiste nie in God glo nie. Julle mis die hele punt as julle geloof in ‘n vryedenke groep wil debateer. Geloof is nie gebaseer op logieka nie, dis iets persoonlik.

    Exactly what i was trying to say earlier :) while you are welcome to discuss god at the freethought society you cant do so when its based on faith :)

  • 50 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Good response, Negate, thanks. I wish gerhard_11 was more like you. ;)

    Note, we don’t want to debate religion, we just want a nice free thinking group that doesn’t spew vitriol and hypocrisy. That is all.

    And if the chairperson of the freethinking group wants to make statements as to the incompatibility of “religion” (nice umbrella term there) and “evolution”, then he’s inviting disagreement, isn’t he?

  • 51 Negate // Feb 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Yeah of course he is inviting a disagreement, but that does not say he is wrong. He is only expressing a opinion that most creationist hold. As an atheist I disagree with that statement. Religion and evolution can co exist. It is up the the people who believe in religion and evolution to express and communicate there side to the chair person.

    Please explain why you say they spew hypocrisy?

    from the way johan talked about it on his blog it seems that your far from constructive debating the subject.

  • 52 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Ridicule is not the same as expressing an opinion.

    “Spewing hypocrisy” is probably too strong a word choice. As I mentioned, I think it is mostly with reference to, and in response to, ridicule and intolerance from atheists towards religious people.

    Saying “you are stupid to have unexamined beliefs” is hypocritical when the person saying it also has unexamined beliefs. That is the kind of scenario that Johan dislikes. See my next post, where I respond to his post, and he left a nice comment.

    I am very keen for constructive discussions. This is why I wrote the next post as well, and Johan conceded that he was a bit harsh.

    Ridicule does that. It makes people harsh. Ridicule pre-empts constructive discussion.

  • 53 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    A short snippet of his comment on the next post:

    Its a very arrogant way of thinking, and that’s where (to me, anyway) the hypocrisy resides – in proclaiming the uncertainty of certain certainties with extreme certainty.

    Right, can we call this matter settled? I think so. We understand each other’s positions, now we can move on. Hopefully to constructive discussions in the future.

  • 54 Negate // Feb 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Just as a side not. As has been said before, god is not logical assumption for a atheist. Yes some of them are more vocal on this point, but the exact same opposite is true about the other side of the coin. Here you are calling it ridicule when its a logical assumption for an atheist. Are you not in a sense then also ridiculing the sense of logic an atheist holds?

    I think both sides are then hypercritical on this matter. The atheist for ridiculing belief and the theist,deists etc who ridicule the atheist for there sense of logic. The reason why atheist act so dogmatic is because they are always confronted with fundamentalism from theists. Everybody is missing a key concept in there opinions/ridicule or whatever you want to call it. Respect!.

  • 55 Hugo // Feb 15, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    My post was euphemistic. He made a comment/joke dripping with sarcasm. Ridicule. Ending with “Oops, was it that obivous?” I’m talking about a specific comment, specifically by Johan du Bois, at a specific gathering.

    Ridicule. He gives the impression of seething contempt that he just cannot hide. Not the best public front for any society, for PR purposes… unless, … *snip*. I’m not repeating myself yet again.

    Respect would go a long way. I just struggle to respect a lack of respect. I struggle to respect seething contempt.

  • 56 Bad Ben // Feb 16, 2008 at 10:47 am

    To all the protagonists of Freethinking Maties:

    Is it not implied that “freethinkers are atheists” if the above described stance is taken towards topics concerning God? Is freethinking a non-possibility when it comes to God? Even the concept of God? hmmm. The name starts to feel a bit pretentious to me. The whole idea of ignorance concerning certains controversial areas seems to subvert such a title and expectation.

    Anyways.

    Furthermore I want to know what makes the belief of Gravity so much more logical than belief in God? Gravity itself is in no way empirically perceivable. We conclude it’s existence from it’s effects. Truth has consistent effects. So if I conclude God’s existence out of (roughly, granted) a consistent effect in the lives of those who claim his existence and in my own…hmm.

    Might we also say that gravity is a culturally assumed and learned concept?

    I’m just musing. Humour me. Im no scientist. Pease no sentimental responses. I want a cold, hard, locigal refutation for this one.

  • 57 Hugo // Feb 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    And, to add two cents to this discussion, the “force” of gravity? That’s a myth. A simulation of an effect… a mathematical model.

    Einstein’s General Relativity is a much better model, and describes gravity as the bending of space-time. Mathematically, this reduces to the Newtonian “force” in cases of (I think) low velocity and low mass/density.

    A cultural understanding of the “force” of gravity…?

    (OK, sorry, that’s a lame, sentimental contribution. Hmm…)

  • 58 Hig // Jan 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Anyone got any ideas where we can buy t-shirts for darwin day? Lots of places overseas, but i dunno of any here in SA…

  • 59 Hugo // Jan 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Where are the entrepreneurs when you need them?

    If anyone finds a source, let us know, I’ll provide it some publicity. And pass it onto Freethinking Maties if they don’t know already. In fact, I’ll contact them tomorrow, maybe someone there can find a source or make a plan.

  • 60 Ben-Jammin' // Jan 25, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Einstein’s General Relativity is a much better model, and describes gravity as the bending of space-time.

    I wonder about that…if gravity is not a force, why are physicists trying to come up with a theory that unifies the four forces? Doesn’t the problem go away if you no longer consider gravity a force? Does the accelerating expansion of the universe imply that there must be a fifth (or fourth, if gravity doesn’t count) force?

    One of these days, I’ll write or call these in for some science show.

  • 61 Hugo // Jan 26, 2009 at 12:52 am

    I could reel in miller from Skeptic’s Play, he’s studying physics.

    And the other thing is: I’m talking pre-quantum physics, I think. When you look at it in the context of quantum physics, things get much stranger. I mean, take a look at the hypothetical Graviton… I’d wager quantum physics makes absolutely no sense, except for the fact that it matches up so perfectly with the empirical evidence… ;-)

  • 62 miller // Jan 26, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Did someone say my name?

    Geez, I’m not sure I can really answer your questions. They don’t really teach undergrads General Relativity, much less quantum gravity.

    But I can echo Hugo here. When I say that General Relativity treats gravity not as a force, but as a distortion in the space-time geometry, I’m talking pre-quantum physics. From a quantum field theory standpoint, I think you still need to explain where the space-time distortion comes from. Hypothetically, it comes from a massless particle called the graviton.

    Accelerating expansion may point towards a fifth force, but it may not. I have no idea.

  • 63 Hugo // Jan 26, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Thanks miller!

    I have another friend that did an M in theoretical physics. I could also dig him up and see if he has something to contribute, if there’s enough “urgent” interest?

    Or we could “write or call these in for some science show” some day. ;-)

  • 64 Kenneth Oberlander // Jan 26, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hmmm…don’t they call them the four fundamental interactions these days…to get round this problem?

    That about exhausts my higher physics knowledge…

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