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Author Topic: Religulous
Juxtapose
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quote:
1. Looking at the numbers on table 2, the number of people who think human beings developed from earlier species is much when they are not forced to choose between God and science, like what it does in Table 5-6. If given only these choices:

Human beings evolved from earlier species.
Human beings were created directly by God.
Human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.
Not sure/Decline to answer

The question is *the same* as Table 2, the only difference are the references to God or a Designer. I happen to think 1 and 2 are both correct, and not mutually exclusive, so after stewwing over the question I'd probably be an outlier with "decline to answer". How many believers would choose God over science, if forced into making the choice in the first place?

But those tables make for too nice of a headline to worry about inherent bias in the questioning, I guess.

I don't see how those answers force the dichotomy you're talking about. Answer one doesn't rule out God.
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Juxtapose
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Mucus,
I'm not so much referring to anyone famous. Take this sort of metaphorically, but I'm talking about the people whose minds were changed by The God Delusion, rather than Richard Dawkins himself.

I think Dawkins et al. are representative of this group in their zeal, but not necessarily the manner in which they came to atheism.

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sarcasticmuppet
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
I don't see how those answers force the dichotomy you're talking about. Answer one doesn't rule out God.

And answer two doesn't rule out evolution, making the poll even more useless.

[ August 22, 2008, 10:20 AM: Message edited by: sarcasticmuppet ]

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MattP
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Sure it does. Evolution, even if assisted by God, would be an indirect method of creating a species.
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Dagonee
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That's a reasonable way of looking at it. But so is sarcasticmuppet's. An ambiguous poll question is a bad poll question.
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Threads
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Muppit, the question I was referring to was clear. While I agree that some of the other questions were poorly worded I don't see how they would bias the answer to the one I was referring too. Do you have anything but anecdotal evidence to support your initial claim?
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sarcasticmuppet
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TABLE 1

DID HUMANS DEVELOP FROM EARLIER SPECIES?

"Do you think human beings developed from earlier species or not?"

Base: All Adults

June 2005
Yes, I think human beings developed from earlier species. 38%

No, I do not think human beings developed from earlier species. 54%

Not sure/Decline to answer 8%

TABLE 5

WHERE HUMANS COME FROM

"Which of the following do you believe about how human beings came to be?"

Base: All Adults

June 2005

Human beings evolved from earlier species. 22%

Human beings were created directly by God. 64%

Human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them. 10%

Not sure/Decline to answer 4%

-----

It's the same answer. Yet the first one received quite a few more hits. It seems to indicate to me that more people actually ascribe to the theory of Evolution than say they don't. Only when the question forces them to choose option A "science" or Option B "God" does the answer skew. Table Six seems to me to indicate this as well. It also seems unclear: what If I thought the basic principles of Creation Science and ID (and how they differ from evolution) should be taught in a Civics class in context of teaching about the debate, the monkey trials of the 20s, and court decisions and legal processes in general? Would that not qualify as "all three"? Again, bad question.

Even though the poll questions directly asked about God, they didn't even get parameters of how many people were religious. So "A significant chunk of that 12% is atheists" is also anecdotal (well, a really bad extrapolation). The big indicators seem to be education level (well, duh) and political leanings. Religion was alternately left out of it and forced into it (via the questions). The more I look at it, the worse of a poll it seems.

[ August 22, 2008, 11:39 AM: Message edited by: sarcasticmuppet ]

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Dagonee
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quote:
Muppit, the question I was referring to was clear. While I agree that some of the other questions were poorly worded I don't see how they would bias the answer to the one I was referring too. Do you have anything but anecdotal evidence to support your initial claim?
Actually, that question has a major weakness for the point you're trying to use it for: it doesn't use the word "science" at all. We have no idea what percentage of those people who want creationism taught in school want it taught as science or in some type of humanities class.
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sarcasticmuppet
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Yay, I made a good point!!! (I also did it in an edit, sorry Dags)
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by sarcasticmuppet:
Even though the poll questions directly asked about God, they didn't even get parameters of how many people were religious. So "A significant chunk of that 12% is atheists" is also anecdotal (well, a really bad extrapolation).

It's not anecdotal. I was assuming the company polled a representative population of the country. That may not have been the case.

quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
Actually, that question has a major weakness for the point you're trying to use it for: it doesn't use the word "science" at all. We have no idea what percentage of those people who want creationism taught in school want it taught as science or in some type of humanities class.

That's a good point.
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sarcasticmuppet
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Threads, it seems like the did (or want everyone to think they did, I don't know why but 1000 seems kinda small for a nationwide survey, but I hated my statistics class so I'm willing to defer on that one), but my point was they didn't survey for religious belief the way that they surveyed for education level, political leanings, or location (Which were shown to be the *actual* indicators in this study). If they *had* surveyed for religious beliefs, and found that it was mostly atheists who ascribe to the theory of Evolution, you'd have a point, but they *didn't*. You are extrapolating (one statistical term I actually remember) information that the survey doesn't actually show. Coincidence != Causality. You can't just assume that the 12% are all atheists unless the survey actually polled for religious beliefs.

Sorry it took so long to get back to this, I was at a wedding this weekend.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
I am afraid that today's Atheist Evangelicals are slowly paving a way for Mao and Stalinist justifications.

Godwin's Constant?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
It can be the first step in such a program. It doesn't have to be, nor is it even likely.
I don't think it's likely either, nor is it always. What I do think, however, is that that sort of sneering ridicule, steps which hint at or suggest one group of people is just ridiculously stupid and thus should be dismissed, as so-called 'Evangelical Atheists' do (whatever that means), is a very ugly thing. And that sort of dismissiveness is a part of lots of very ugly things.

But then, so are lots of things. Strengthening the executive branch, well, concentrating more power in one man was also a part of Hitler's Nazi Germany. That hardly means moving to strengthen the executive branch, for example, will lead to Nazism.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:

I think Dawkins et al. are representative of this group in their zeal, but not necessarily the manner in which they came to atheism.

Dawkins doesn't strike me as much of a zealot. I read the God Delusion a long long time after I started identifying myself as an Athiest (though I have always been one), and at least to me, all the book did was broaden and clarify my understanding of the subject. There's nothing in it that screams "follow me, I will save you," quite the opposite. A basic point of the book is that cult of personality and the evolution of ideas in groups lead to collective delusions like, say God, and the book takes pains to demonstrate how and why this effect is negative.

Really, as a piece of purely scientific writing it's admirable and ambitious, whether you believe in God or not.

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Threads
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I suspect that most people who categorize Dawkins as a zealot have not actually read his works.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
I am afraid that today's Atheist Evangelicals are slowly paving a way for Mao and Stalinist justifications.

Godwin's Constant?
So now contemporaries of Hitler must also invoke the spirit of Godwin, which for some reason invalidates any point being made?

Would it make you feel better if he said that Athiest Evangelicals were paving the way for a modern, diaspora? Or how about setting up a violent reaction akin to the Qing response in the Tai Ping rebellion?

Fascism is well documented, still relevant to our time, and easily understood. Pick any other event in history as a comparison to a contemporary event, and the odds you'll have to give a history lesson instead of making a point increase.

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MattP
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The making fun of the vast majority of people by a small minority which has no political clout is not paving the way, slowly or otherwise, for anything. This movie sounds mean-spirited to me and I have no intention of seeing it, but the connection to fascism is just silly.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
The making fun of the vast majority of people by a small minority which has no political clout is not paving the way, slowly or otherwise, for anything.
I agree it's not 'paving the way'. That implies a certain long-term intention. However, that small minority won't remain small forever, will it? 'Evangelical Atheists' (again, whatever that is-I understand what is meant by the term, though) shouldn't be permitted to hide behind the 'we're just a tiny minority' excuse. Nor even the 'but what about the things they say!' excuse.

That minority is certainly growing in political clout, BTW. I'm not sure how anyone could seriously argue otherwise, in fact. Just consider: where would Dawkins and Maher have gotten thirty years ago?

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MattP
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I'm not excusing behavior, just stating that the "paving the way" stuff is fantasy.
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Rakeesh
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Granted. However, as time passes using words like vast majority, small minority, and no political clout becomes less and less accurate.

There will come a time when Occasional's objection might not appear so crazy, even to you, should the same sorts of things still be said when atheists aren't such a tiny minority, or even become a majority.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Would it make you feel better if he said that Athiest Evangelicals were paving the way for a modern diaspora? Or how about setting up a violent reaction akin to the Qing response in the Tai Ping rebellion?
It would not have made me feel better. It would have still made me recall that he's an odious, smarmy, self-righteous prig who thinks he can get away with implying atheists are, deep down, murdering scumbags because he can get away with saying that as long as religion stays trendy.
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steven
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I see many atheists making an unfounded leap. Just because all the mainstream religions have gotten many things wrong doesn't mean there isn't a soul aspect to existence, or that consciousness cannot, in at least some cases, continue after physical death. There has been some pretty good research done on the effect of intetion on random number generators, by P.E.A.R.S., and I've experienced a few things that absolutely cannot be explained by the average atheistic worldview. I guess what I'm saying is, on many isssues, the extremists are the idiots, and the moderates are the ones with the most sense. I don't think the "religion versus atheism" debate deviates significantly from this principle.


I sort of dooubt that America will ever be an atheist dictatorship, or anything like it. It's too easy to point to Stalin and Mao. Their behavior was well-recorded.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
It would have still made me recall that he's an odious, smarmy, self-righteous prig who thinks he can get away with implying atheists are, deep down, murdering scumbags because he can get away with saying that as long as religion stays trendy.
Some atheists routinely make the same sorts of implications, Tom, and are just as odious, smarmy, and self-righteous in doing so. And he hasn't 'gotten away with it', or did you miss the many objections?

Sometimes I think it would be nice if y'all atheists would 'police your own' as you so often demand we theists do. But we don't always get what we want.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Sometimes I think it would be nice if y'all atheists would 'police your own' as you so often demand we theists do.
We do. Feel free to slap Occasional the next time KoM ticks you off. [Wink]

But, y'know, this is the other reason there will never be an atheist dictatorship (i.e. a dictatorship grounded in and motivated by atheism): atheism isn't a unifying philosophy. It's the lack of belief in one specific type of unifying philosophy. Saying that atheists should police themselves is like saying that people who don't like to eat fish should police themselves. How would that work? What do people who don't like fish have in common, besides their dislike of fish? Who in the non-fish-eating community has the authority to say to other non-fish-eaters: "Hey, shape up. We don't want Rakeesh to think you're annoying?"

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Rakeesh
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That's a matter of opinion. Which is of course what we can both say of each other on this matter. But anyway, I wasn't just speaking on Hatrack.
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TomDavidson
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Neither was I. Tell me who, precisely, in the world at large, is entitled to tell atheists how they should behave.

You Mormons have to listen to your prophet. I don't have to listen to Dawkins. I can roll my eyes at Rand. I don't even have to stand anywhere in the same room as someone who thinks that Mao was a moral philosopher. And I can't tell KoM, "Hey, stop making us atheists look bad by, um, occasionally being rude while disbelieving in God."

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:
Just because all the mainstream religions have gotten many things wrong doesn't mean there isn't a soul aspect to existence, or that consciousness cannot, in at least some cases, continue after physical death.

Literally that's a true statement however I don't see anybody arguing that a soul doesn't exist "because" mainstream religions have gotten many things wrong. There are very strong arguments against the existence of the soul and consciousness after death.

quote:
Originally posted by steven:
There has been some pretty good research done on the effect of intetion on random number generators, by P.E.A.R.S.

A summary article on 380 studies related to RNG output and human intention found that the results could have conceivably been a result of publication bias (Link). At best this topic is ambiguous.

quote:
Originally posted by steven:
and I've experienced a few things that absolutely cannot be explained by the average atheistic worldview.

I hear claims like this all the time and for some reason they are never accompanied by physical evidence.
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
'Evangelical Atheists' (again, whatever that is-I understand what is meant by the term, though)

How would you define the term?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:

Fascism is well documented, still relevant to our time, and easily understood. Pick any other event in history as a comparison to a contemporary event, and the odds you'll have to give a history lesson instead of making a point increase.

My point, if I am allowed to make points, was that merely attempting to establish guilt by association with fascists is intellectually lazy, and dishonest. The comment I quoted also carried zero support for itself, and characterized people like me, Athiests, as having motivations and beliefs that we do not have.

Now, I could have taken the easy route and said: look and Thomas Jefferson, a man who spent his life mocking Christian beliefs in his private letters, today he would be called an Athiest, and that somehow validates my opinion, and my liberty and freedom inclinations. But of course it doesn't, just as the fact that communism promotes atheism doesn't have anything to do with me either. I'm not a communist. I'm not a fascist. I'll never be one of those two things.

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Rakeesh
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Tom,

quote:

You Mormons have to listen to your prophet. I don't have to listen to Dawkins. I can roll my eyes at Rand. I don't even have to stand anywhere in the same room as someone who thinks that Mao was a moral philosopher. And I can't tell KoM, "Hey, stop making us atheists look bad by, um, occasionally being rude while disbelieving in God."

Why can't you tell him that? No one said anything about people being compelled to listen. Phelps (not the cool Mike) isn't going to listen to anyone, yet theists are expected (rightly) to condemn his hate-spewing rhetoric. 'Policing your own' isn't always about being directly effective with one person, but sending a message to others. And if there isn't any unity among atheists, why does Dawkins have so many fans?

Also, *rolleyes* at your downplaying there too, of course.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
And if there isn't any unity among atheists, why does Dawkins have so many fans?


Because we have one (count it, one) unifying feature: our atheism. Dawkins talks about atheism. He makes a lot of sense when he does so.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Because we have one (count it, one) unifying feature: our atheism. Dawkins talks about atheism. He makes a lot of sense when he does so.
That is one feature all atheists have in common, Javert. However, atheists are certainly just like other people: splitting into groups.

I can just as easily say that, by their own lights, some theists have just one (count it, one) unifying feature: their belief in God.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Because we have one (count it, one) unifying feature: our atheism. Dawkins talks about atheism. He makes a lot of sense when he does so.
That is one feature all atheists have in common, Javert. However, atheists are certainly just like other people: splitting into groups.

I can just as easily say that, by their own lights, some theists have just one (count it, one) unifying feature: their belief in God.

Sure. I can see that. Even understand it.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Sure. I can see that. Even understand it.
Which brings me back to the question I asked of Tom.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
And if there isn't any unity among atheists, why does Dawkins have so many fans?
You may as well ask why people universally respect Stephen Hawking. Is there unity among physicists? Dawkins has fans because he's eloquent, perceptive, and almost always correct.

quote:
I can just as easily say that, by their own lights, some theists have just one (count it, one) unifying feature: their belief in God.
Sure. Do you find yourself policing Hindus when they're rude? Do you say, "courtesy of our shared belief in some sort of deity, please stop making us believers look bad?"

Of course not. There is a small subset of "believers" into which any believer falls, and sometimes those subsets deign to police themselves.

Atheists, by and large, don't even have those subsets. Sure, you can join a couple clubs if you're so inclined, but atheists by their very nature aren't generally predisposed to be joiners.

So when you say to an atheist, "Hey, don't you feel responsible for the behavior of everyone else who doesn't believe in God," he's just going to look at you funny. Because, believe it or not, the vast majority of atheists do not define themselves by their lack of belief in something; they generally have other things they care about more. They're busy self-policing those other groups, like maybe forum posters or international chess players or pastry chefs.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
You may as well ask why people universally respect Stephen Hawking. Is there unity among physicists? Dawkins has fans because he's eloquent, perceptive, and almost always correct.
I'm afraid it goes a bit deeper than just liking his ideas, at least anecdotally in my experience. Not that it's like a like-minded club or anything, but it's also more than just 'hey, we like pepperoni pizza!'

quote:
Sure, you can join a couple clubs if you're so inclined, but atheists by their very nature aren't generally predisposed to be joiners.
Boy, do I disagree with that! I'm sure it's a flattering notion to you, but it's just not true. Or don't atheists join plenty of organizations?

quote:

So when you say to an atheist, "Hey, don't you feel responsible for the behavior of everyone else who doesn't believe in God," he's just going to look at you funny.

Well, OK. I never said anything about feeling responsibility for those other people. *shrug* Given that we're so clearly talking past one another, there isn't much point in continuing that discussion.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Well, OK. I never said anything about feeling responsibility for those other people.
What other motivations are there for self-policing?

quote:
I'm afraid it goes a bit deeper than just liking his ideas, at least anecdotally in my experience.
What experience do you have with being a fan of Richard Dawkins?

quote:
I'm sure it's a flattering notion to you, but it's just not true.
Why do you think this? There are more than a number of studies indicating that atheists are more likely to be iconoclasts, introverts, etc. Now, I don't think these things are necessarily inherent in atheism, but I think it's much easier in the current climate to be an atheist if you aren't as interested in belonging to a club as most people. It's very isolating, especially in suburban or rural communities; the social benefits of churchgoing are obvious and well-documented.
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Mucus
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Everyone should just sit back and relax with a good old fashioned nun beauty contest
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7581039.stm

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MrSquicky
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quote:
TABLE 1

DID HUMANS DEVELOP FROM EARLIER SPECIES?

"Do you think human beings developed from earlier species or not?"

Base: All Adults

June 2005
Yes, I think human beings developed from earlier species. 38%

No, I do not think human beings developed from earlier species. 54%

Not sure/Decline to answer 8%

TABLE 5

WHERE HUMANS COME FROM

"Which of the following do you believe about how human beings came to be?"

Base: All Adults

June 2005

Human beings evolved from earlier species. 22%

Human beings were created directly by God. 64%

Human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them. 10%

Not sure/Decline to answer 4%

I've got to tell you, I find either number (54% or 64%) pretty scary. I really thought it was better than this.
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sarcasticmuppet
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Look at table 7, though. The numbers go up based on education level. Nearly half the people have a high school diploma or less worth of education. This makes complete sense to me -- most of my nitty-gritty Evolution knowledge came from my Bio 100 class at BYU, not high school. The more you learn, the more chances you have for Evolution to explained in a classroom setting, and the more likely you are to realize that it makes sense.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Everyone should just sit back and relax with a good old fashioned nun beauty contest
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7581039.stm

Italy seems to come up with some hilariously weird combinations of Catholicism and liberal attitudes.
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Dan_raven
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I don't believe that atheism can degenerate into a "dictatorship" by itself. For that to happen the same passions and righteousness that the faithful focus into their faith must have something to focus onto. In the case of Nazi-ism, it was "the State". In the case of Mao it was, well, Mao. In Godless Soviet Union it was "Communism" and the cause.

Could there be generated a state of Anti-Faith? Could there exist a movement of fanatical anti-fanaticism? It is then that fanatical state that must be destroyed, not the atheism it uses to justify its existence.

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scifibum
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Makes me think of the Vulcans.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I'm afraid it goes a bit deeper than just liking his ideas, at least anecdotally in my experience. Not that it's like a like-minded club or anything, but it's also more than just 'hey, we like pepperoni pizza!'

To the extant that I like Dawkins, it's primarily because he expresses good ideas in a clear manner. I don't much care for his news pundit appearances, or his TV showdowns with religious figures, some of which are on youtube.

Neither am I much of a joiner. I started shedding organized activities in high school. I didn't join any clubs in college.

Not that this proves anything, just that you can add me to the other side of your anecdote list. [Wave]

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