Keynote: Neil DeGrasse Tyson at The Amazing Meeting 6 (TAM6)

Astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson is the host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

His keynote address from TAM6 is regarded as one of the most entertaining presentations from any Amaz!ng Meeting.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vfOpZD4Sm8

16:36 Prayer and Cancer…..
19:50 Swami Levitation…..
24:11 MARS Virus…..
27:00 Fear Of Numbers…..
29:08 Naming Rights…..
38:15 Jury Duty 1…..
41:01 Jury Duty 2 (Cocaine)…..
52:34 Islam’s Fall…..
57:10 Religion and Science
1:02:50 Intelligent Design
1:03:30 Stupid Design (classic)
1:05:10 Birth of Atheism
1:07:30 Religion among scientist
1:12:26 Bible in the Classroom
1:15:49 Einstein and God put to rest!

QualiaSoup: The Lack of Belief in Gods

A while back I came across QualiaSoup, a UK artist and secular humanist discussing critical thinking, science, philosophy & the natural world. Their YouTube channel has a number of well-produced videos and after having a friend recently share with me a video from QualiaSoup, I thought I would share one each week as a way to promote the videos.

This weeks’ video from QualiaSoup is about the Lack of Belief in Gods, explaining the concept, refuting common objections and giving a number of reasons that atheists are sometimes ‘fervent’.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

I strongly recommend looking at the rest of the videos on the channel, or you watch the select few that I Post here. Check them out at QUALIASOUP.

The reasons we don’t “believe”

20110826-060226.jpg

Over at New Statesman is a collection of reasons some prominent people do not believe in God or Gods; contributors include human rights activists, authors, psychologists, broadcasters, philosophers, journalists, and scientists in various fields such as biology, neurology, and physics.

Here’s one from Maryam Namazie
Human rights activist
:

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped believing in God. Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family in Iran, I had no encounter with Islam that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time.

I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into (out of no choice of their own), especially if it doesn’t have much of a say in their lives. If you live in France or Britain, there may never be a need to renounce God actively or come out as an atheist.

But when the state sends a “Hezbollah” (the generic term for Islamist) to your school to ensure that you don’t mix with your friends who are boys, stops you from swimming, forces you to be veiled, deems males and females separate and unequal, prescribes different books for you and your girlfriends from those read by boys, denies certain fields of study to you because you are female, and starts killing in­discriminately, then you have no choice but to question, discredit and confront it – all of it. And that is what I did.

Read the rest here.

Apologist Box-stuffing

After reading a tweet containing Hamza Andreas Tzorzis‘s name and what he was up to at the International Atheist Convention in Dublin, I thought check out his website.

According to his website, Hamza Andreas Tzorzis is an international public speaker on Islam; He is a writer with articles, essays and commentaries on political philosophy, the philosophy of religion and society; an intellectual activist actively engaging on issues pertaining to religion, social cohesion and politics; is also a researcher with a recent publication on non-Muslim perceptions on Islam and Muslims; and if you want – you can read more here.

However, to me he is a religious apologist – and an amateur one at that.

What’s a religious apologist? A religious apologist defends faith through intellectual avenues, generally trying to demonstrate that science is compatible with religion (by demonstration a personal lack of knowledge about science). The attempt is usually a genuine advancement towards logic and reason rather than emotional appeals; however – common threads between religious apologists include a misunderstanding of various scientific concepts (or the abhorrent contortion of scientific knowledge to “fit in” to a doctrine) and an overall ignorance of (or ignoring of ) fallacies in logic.

For instance, I spoke to a Sikh who was adamant (despite the evidence) that the Heliocentric model was first advocated by the Sikh Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He derived his belief from a quote by the Guru which was written in the 15th century; and used Galileo Galilei as his benchmark; particularly the point that at the time it was not accepted in Europe for Heliocentricism to be true. He was also of the (incorrect) belief that Galileo was the first person to devise a heliocentric solar system.

The Reality

In February 1616, the Catholic Church condemned heliocentrism as “false and contrary to Scripture”.  Subsequently in 1632 Galileo was tried by the Roman Inquisition for publishing his work “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” which was in support of Nicolaus Copernicus‘ heliocentric hypothesis.  Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” and forced to recant; despite this he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

Nicolaus Copernicus’ work on a heliocentric system (titled: “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)) began around 1510, quite some time before Galileo. Even then, the hypothesis that the Earth rotated the Sun was not new. The earlist record of this was from least 3rd century BCE, which was presented by Aristarchus.

What I really object about Hamza Andreas Tzorzis was the poor use of science in a phamphlet that was recently released called: Do We Have Good Reasons To Believe

This pamphlet makes a number of remarkable assertions, despite it’s reference to Occam’s Razor; often from cherry-picked scripture and a far-reaching use of “science” to support it. The pamphlets would only appeal to those without a grounding in science, or those who are already religious but struggle to reconcile the differences between reality and the wishful-thinking that comes with religion.

Unless of course that is the idea – no rational discourse was intended.

He is unfortunately doing a disservice to the people he hands these pamphlets to;  as what he’s talking about is not science – but pseudo-science. For instance, lets’ take Isostasy, which was one of the examples used in the pamphlet.

The Pamphlet mentions the Qur’an stating:

“Have We not made the earth as a bed and the mountains its pegs?”

The phamplet then uses a section from Earth, by Dr. Frank Press, where it states that mountains are like stakes, and are buried deep under the surface of Earth. Firstly, the analogy-comparison is erroneous, as mountains are not like pegs, nor can they be called “mountain roots”. They have misinterpreted the text, or at the very least tried to make the statement support the Qur’an.

You can read more about Isostasy at Wikipedia – it’s clear he didn’t even do that.

Essentially, Isostasy is a gravitational equilibrium; it is the working model that explains the buoyancy of tectonic plates on the mantle.

Since the initial tweet, Rebecca Watson at SkepChick filled us in more on what had happened; and it amused me because this description of Isostasy was an answer Hamza Andreas Tzorzis could have given in the video where he, and another confront PZ Myers outside the Global Atheist Convention in Dublin. Instead, he admitted he had no idea what he was talking about.

There are two videos. Of the same thing, but in the spirit of transparency, I am showing it from as many angles as possible. The below video was what was captured by YouTuber AronRa, who also chimes in later in the discussion.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4trHH6AuZ0

During the video the two try to take PZ Myers to task about the Qur’an and embryology, and yes – he and his colleague demonstrate their lack of knowledge of cell biology too. It’s clear that they are amateur religious apologists who have sought out nothing else but to cherry-pick literature in an effort to twist science around to fit in to what the Qur’an states -rejecting, or possibly even not even looking for conflicting information.

The fallacies are abound, so try to have patience.

AND

The below video is the complete interview as produced by iERA
and is available at Hamza Andreas Tzorzis‘s website.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T5Pm7qLH50

A Christian, A Muslim, and an apparently Immoral Atheist…

This morning featured a very unproductive “discussion” with both a Christian and Muslim this morning regarding the evidence of a Yahweh-based God, in which it ultimately ended in a stonewall against logic and reason, a denial of science-based evidence only when it comes to “God”,  and the staunch view that focused two main statements – And I quote:

“We’re better than you because you’re an Atheist”

and

“You should read more of the Bible, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Both sentiments were specifically from the mouth of the “Atheists don’t have Morals” Christian, where as the Muslim was – until interrupted by the Christian, open to discussing the topic civilly, albeit with liberal use of erroneous logic and reasoning.

I reasonably suggested and advised said Christian that the Bible was written by Men, open to corruption by Men, and contained a number of passages that, if he wanted to pursue the “The bible is infallible” argument, are contradicting and was of questionable content. Pointing out, that if The Holy Bible were divinely inspired by God, there would be no mistakes. As there are clearly contradictions, it must be acknowledged that his would be attributed to Man’s “tinkering”, But then — on what basis can one investigate the legitimacy of each claim? How does one know what is “divinely inspired” and what isn’t?

No answer.

I brought to his attention that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 stated along the lines of:

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

I suggest that he surely he didn’t believe that was appropriate! But what could he believe? Was this God saying he must cut off a womans’ hand? Or was it Man? How did he know the difference? To no surprise, he ignored the question and said “Atheists are why we have wars in the world today. The Bible Predicted it! It’s all happening as it says in The Bible! It’s a Fact!”

Hey, who was I to argue with such strident and unsupported remarks about confirmation bias and the horrendously poor method of “The Bible Code”. Oh wait! A Skeptic! However, a True Believer is not interested in stupid things like “Reason” or “Logic”, rather they are only interested in information that supports their worldview.

I moved on and asked what about raped virgins? Does he believe that the Bible should be followed in accordance with Deuteronomy 22:28-29?

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Not surprisingly he no answer to the question and simply offered more rhetoric that atheists have no moral compass and “you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

I then asked how, if the Bible is infallible, that three separate accounts of the same event – the birth of Jesus Christ, could be so horribly misaligned.

Again, no answer.

Instead, he went on a tangent and insisted that Democracy was the work of the Christians; he was very adamant that this was a “fact”. I’d be interested to know what sources he wants to cite to support this claim, given that the notion is factually incorrect – Alas, none were offered. It should be noted that democracy was suggested to have existed in non-literate tribal societies – long before Christianity.

Why politics was brought up, I’m not quite sure, but it seemed like he felt he was making a logical point about something – though it did not make any sense as to what exactly that point was.

This actually reminds me of an excellent 2-hour video featuring Harris and Craig:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqaHXKLRKzg

So, rather than take a page out of the close-minded Christian who denies evidence and refuses to use logic and reason as a means to argue his case effectively, I will look more at the Bible, and just what things are advocated in this “Holy” book of violence, slavery, sexism, and historical inaccuracies.

First of, in Deuteronomy 2:7, 8:2, 29:5 –  It took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, yet such a journey, even at that time, would have taken no more than a few weeks.

Secondly, in Deuteronomy 18:10-12, it is quite clear on occult practices. Yet, this doesn’t stop MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY people claiming to have seen OMENS from “God”, or who render the services of a someone who “consults the dead”!

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,  or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.

A couple of run-through quotes.

Stone Rapists – Oh, and the victim, even she was too scared to scream:

If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,  you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24

Sexism in the bible:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
1 Timothy 2:12

 

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22

Yahweh Instructed Genocide:

This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
1 Samuel 15:3

Witchhunting – yet many Christians choose not to follow this apart of the Bible. Selective much?

Do not allow a sorceress to live.
Exodus 22:18

Revenge:

Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
Psalm 137:9

The Ill-treatment of women:

So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.”
Judges 19:25-28

Human Sacrifice:

Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.
Genesis 22:2

Slavery

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.
1 Peter 2:18

And, finally we have an interesting act of rape and violence, and of justice being sought in Genesis:34

  1. A girl gets raped. (Not good.)
  2. But, the rapist loves her. (He’s still a rapist.)
  3. The Rapists’ father tries to smooth things over with a mass wedding to merge the two tribes. (Not the logical thing to do)
  4. The girl’s father lies to get all the males in the rapists’ tribe to cut off their foreskin. (To set them up)
  5. While the males are sore, the girl’s brothers slaughter every male and raid their stuff and their daughters. (There’s the revenge)
  6. And the brothers’ sum it up basically telling their father “Ain’t no body gonna treat our sister like a ho!”