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claymisher
03-14-2009, 01:38 AM
Let's have a thread for Bob's new book, The Evolution of God (http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-God-Robert-Wright/dp/0316734918)! A great big 576 page book! A bargain at $17.15! That's less than $0.03/page!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ErUWKwmlL._SS350_.jpg

Here's an excerpt or something from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200904/globalization-religion

Nate
03-15-2009, 12:40 AM
Looks terrific; I can't wait to read it.

I hope Bob does a diavlog about it, although I don't know who they would get to interview him.

bjkeefe
03-15-2009, 01:19 AM
Looks terrific; I can't wait to read it.

I hope Bob does a diavlog about it, although I don't know who they would get to interview him.

Achenbach for laughs, or, if a more serious tone is desired, I nominate Michael Shermer or Massimo Pigliucci or maybe Bart Ehrman. Will Wilkinson or Kerry Howley could probably do a good job, too.

AemJeff
03-15-2009, 10:18 AM
Looks terrific; I can't wait to read it.

I hope Bob does a diavlog about it, although I don't know who they would get to interview him.

Two interviews: one by somebody like David Chalmers (it would be the perfect time to bring Pinker onto the site, in fact), and another by a smart, philosophically sophisticated theist who's capable of arguing this sort of topic on a rational playing field. (In other words not Ross (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=102796#poststop), or Dreher.) Ramesh, maybe?

claymisher
03-15-2009, 02:14 PM
Since it sounds like it is as much about evolution as it is about God maybe somebody from the evolutionary side of things would be good. Or both. How about a whole week with Bob?

Lemon Sorbet
03-15-2009, 06:11 PM
Ramesh, maybe?

Brilliant AemJeff! I wouldn't have thought of Ramesh but I love the idea now that you've suggested it. Those two will have a very lively diavlog on this topic.

uncle ebeneezer
03-15-2009, 08:39 PM
Or if we want to follow tit-for-tat game theory logic, perhaps David Plotz can have a turn at interviewing Bob!

I agree that Will Wilkinson would probably be the best choice for this sortof topic.

I'm totally stoked for this book. Thanks for the heads-up.

Nate
03-16-2009, 01:31 AM
How about a whole week with Bob?

I wouldn't mind that. His wife and kids might, though.

claymisher
03-16-2009, 10:56 AM
I wouldn't mind that. His wife and kids might, though.

I'm sure they won't watch, and I'm sure they hardly care what he does during the day. :)

nikkibong
03-16-2009, 11:38 AM
The Bob book monovlog!

bjkeefe
03-16-2009, 02:26 PM
The Bob book monovlog!

ROFL!

Bobby G
03-16-2009, 06:52 PM
Two interviews: one by somebody like David Chalmers (it would be the perfect time to bring Pinker onto the site, in fact), and another by a smart, philosophically sophisticated theist who's capable of arguing this sort of topic on a rational playing field. (In other words not Ross (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=102796#poststop), or Dreher.) Ramesh, maybe?

I grant that Ross, Dreher, Ramesh, and even Sullivan are philosophically sophisticated theists, at least for non-philosopher theists, but why not get a living, breathing theistic philosopher, like: Michael Rea (Notre Dame), Alex Pruss (Baylor), Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame), Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame), Robert Adams (UNC Chapel Hill), Mike Almeida (UT San Antonio), Tom Flint (Notre Dame), Roger White (MIT), Tim McGrew (Western Michigan U), Keith DeRose (Yale), Bas van Fraassen (Princeton), Hans Halvorsen (Princeton), Stephen T. Davis (Claremont McKenna), and on and on and on?

Bobby G
03-16-2009, 06:54 PM
reminds me of that headline from Arrested Development:

Bob Loblaw Law Blog Lobs Law Bomb

AemJeff
03-16-2009, 07:47 PM
I grant that Ross, Dreher, Ramesh, and even Sullivan are philosophically sophisticated theists, at least for non-philosopher theists, but why not get a living, breathing theistic philosopher, like: Michael Rea (Notre Dame), Alex Pruss (Baylor), Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame), Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame), Robert Adams (UNC Chapel Hill), Mike Almeida (UT San Antonio), Tom Flint (Notre Dame), Roger White (MIT), Tim McGrew (Western Michigan U), Keith DeRose (Yale), Bas van Fraassen (Princeton), Hans Halvorsen (Princeton), Stephen T. Davis (Claremont McKenna), and on and on and on?

Sure - I was being inconsistent, picking only from people who had appeared here on the one side, and floating Pinker's name on the other. But, I'd be perfectly happy if you get to name an interviewer.

uncle ebeneezer
04-27-2009, 02:52 PM
Some criticism of Bob's Atlantic article:

http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/Tags/bob-wright/

Me&theboys
05-29-2009, 04:07 PM
After reading the Atlantic article I think we definitely need several diavlogs about Bob's new book. Bob was starting to sound rather relativish toward the middle and end there. I'm interested to hear how Bob squares his relativist impulses with his moral positions. Perhaps he uses a utilitarian formula......

I'm looking forward to reading the book because I don't necessarily buy the premise. I'm skeptical of the idea that the nature of organized religion is consonant with non zero sumness vis a vis other religions. Many of them have dogmas that make them mutually exclusive, and when salvation is at stake, being excluded pisses people off. Any drive toward proselytizing would also tend to work against non zero sumness. For established religions to compromise on core matters of dogma and faith would seem undermine their value proposition, which would be tantamount to closing shop. After all, to be an "us" requires a "them", so if everyone can be considered "us" then there is no "us". If everyone is saved or every religion is as good as another, what is Christianity's value proposition? Maybe the book answers these and other questions. Can't wait to find out.

graz
05-31-2009, 01:21 PM
Bob gets squishy about religion:
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/05/weeds-are-beautiful.html

uncle ebeneezer
06-01-2009, 03:40 AM
Good find. Can't wait to read the book. My only question/concern is why wasn't Bob wearing a Bloggingheads.tv tee-shirt!!

graz
06-01-2009, 09:50 AM
My only question/concern is why wasn't Bob wearing a Bloggingheads.tv tee-shirt!!

Demerits for sure... but credit for calling himself an asshole. He does self-deprecation right. And his reverence for weeds could easily apply to weed.
Weed... putting the heads in bloggingheads!

bjkeefe
06-01-2009, 12:01 PM
... And his reverence for weeds ...

I've long felt the same way about weeds, but I did not think I had achieved some deep insight. Rather, I thought I was just rationalizing my avoidance of a less than favorite chore.

Bob's description of that meditation week sounds like me, two decades ago, talking about my first few trips on acid.

I don't mean to be completely snarky here, but I find it irritating when I am asked to get all Oh, Wow over someone else's description of his meditation experiences. I'm sure they meant a lot to him. Some of my dreams and trips have meant a lot to me. The human mind is an amazing thing. But let's not sell ourselves short, and immediately insist that because something a little out of the ordinary happened, particularly after an unusual set of circumstances, it must be Some Kind Of Religious Experience.

uncle ebeneezer
06-01-2009, 05:48 PM
I have had similar experiences to Bob's weed experience, both sober and with some chemical assistance. It doesn't make me believe in any higher anything (this is where I disagree with Bob) but I think there is definitely something to be said for seeing something from that sortof everything-is-beautiful perspective, that changed the way I viewed the world and life for the better, and caused me to be a bit kinder to my fellow man/animals/plants etc., and as a result a much happier person. It's a viewpoint that de-emphasizes the self, and to me that is the part that I think Buddhism really nails on the head, as far as making for a happier existence (or more accurately, a "less tortured" one.) Once it gets into Karma, and Reincarnation, it becomes just as silly as any other religion and I walk away from it. But the benefits of meditation and reaching some sort of community with nature, seems to be a pretty good way to get ourselves away from the unhealthy self-centeredness that comes so naturally (literally) to us through our evolutionary wiring.

If you haven't read it yet, John Horgan's "Rational Mysticism" covers alot of this "what is mystical" ground rather well. At the end of the day I tend to side with his point of view that mystical experiences whether through drugs or religion, can definitely alter your life for the better, but I don't see any correlation to the existence of anything "greater." It just shows how powerful, imaginitive and perceptive our brains are, despite their limitations.

bjkeefe
06-01-2009, 05:54 PM
Once it gets into Karma, and Reincarnation, it becomes just as silly as any other religion and I walk away from it.

That makes at least two of you (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/31/dalai-lama-osel-hita-torres).

(h/t: Daniel Davies (http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-if-god-was-one-of-us-frankly-only.html))

bjkeefe
06-01-2009, 06:00 PM
But in all seriousness ...

I have had similar experiences to Bob's weed experience, both sober and with some chemical assistance. It doesn't make me believe in any higher anything (this is where I disagree with Bob) but I think there is definitely something to be said for seeing something from that sortof everything-is-beautiful perspective, that changed the way I viewed the world and life for the better, and caused me to be a bit kinder to my fellow man/animals/plants etc., and as a result a much happier person.

I quite agree with that much.

It's a viewpoint that de-emphasizes the self, and to me that is the part that I think Buddhism really nails on the head, as far as making for a happier existence (or more accurately, a "less tortured" one.)

Less sure about that. I would like to distinguish between being selfish and taking care of oneself, and I think there are just as many problems caused when one doesn't start by taking care of business closest to home. (I may be extrapolating from personal experience a little excessively here.)

If you haven't read it yet, John Horgan's "Rational Mysticism" covers alot of this "what is mystical" ground rather well. At the end of the day I tend to side with his point of view that mystical experiences whether through drugs or religion, can definitely alter your life for the better, but I don't see any correlation to the existence of anything "greater." It just shows how powerful, imaginitive and perceptive our brains are, despite their limitations.

Yep. Although I continue to grow ever more uncomfortable with the word mystical. Except as a convenient shorthand, I dislike it. Seems to me about every "mystical" experience I've ever heard about just involved people finding a way, by design or by accident, to allow their minds to work in an environment different from their usual patterns of living. As I said elsewhere, I think a lot of our brains and their potential, and I wish there was less urgency to attribute a pleasingly startling new thought that occurs in connection with getting oneself out of one's usual rut to some sort of outside agency.

[Added] I should say that I haven't read JH's RM yet.

uncle ebeneezer
06-01-2009, 07:50 PM
To clarify, to me it's not about de-emphasizing the importance of taking care of myself and my needs etc. (that's unavoidable and completely healthy), but about reminding myself that sometimes it's better to remember that the world doesn't revolve around me. I think it's very easy to fall into the trap where we mistakenly start blaming ourselves for things that aren't our fault, or taking credit for stuff that we didn't really cause, etc. and that these misconceptions cause a great deal of our misery and confusion. Stepping away from the self-centered point of view once in awhile, helps minimize that damage for me. It's done for selfish reasons (to increase MY happiness.) It's just a slightly counter-intuitive path to getting there.

I highly recommend Rational Mysticism. I know what you mean about the grating nature of the M-word (I agree), but Horgan takes very much the same view. He essentially tries to answer "what the hell IS a mystical experience?" And he explores the question very thoroughly, and his tales of his own experiences/experiments are told with his usual story-telling flair and rational skepticism.

bjkeefe
06-01-2009, 07:56 PM
To clarify ...

Thanks for so doing.

uncle ebeneezer
06-01-2009, 10:55 PM
Yeah right, it's all about you isn't it ;-)

So has anyone out there ordered Bob's book yet??

Me&theboys
06-02-2009, 09:15 AM
Mine is arriving today from Amazon!

claymisher
06-02-2009, 12:20 PM
Good god, is it June already?! I thought the book wasn't coming out for ages yet.

Nate
06-03-2009, 01:48 AM
Bob discusses the themes of the book:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_Wok8rMg_w

graz
06-03-2009, 09:18 AM
Bob discusses the themes of the book:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_Wok8rMg_w

Talk about teasers. O.K. I'm willing to shell out the dough to subsidize his daughters piano lessons; but what about the big question?: Leading to his conclusion at 4 minutes and 25 Bob states that he is alright with Atheists not believing in a higher purpose, since he is not sure either - as long as we are good and moral and behaving in a non zero sum way.

But this is followed by the segment that asks: Do you think there is a higher purpose? He states: "Oh I believe there is some larger purpose that we don't understand." He further states that natural selection was conceived or the mind was designed, which to me, negates the concept of randomness in evolution. Substituting larger for higher doesn't change his lack of "like" rigorous explanation for the claim... hence the tease. I hope the book contains those rigorous diagrams he laid out for Singer in the lunchroom.

Nate
06-04-2009, 05:23 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Evolution_of_God

For anyone interested.

bjkeefe
06-05-2009, 02:28 PM
Or did Matt Yglesias just put up a post subtly commiserating with Bob (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/06/book-launch-20.php)?

uncle ebeneezer
06-05-2009, 04:13 PM
Oh that's brilliant. i saw that this morning on MY but didn't watch it. I'm forwarding to all my writer friends.

bjkeefe
06-08-2009, 04:35 PM
Two new related pieces of writing from Bob related to The Evolution of God are available:

-- "The Bible's Vindication of Obama's Middle East Strategy," on the HuffPo (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/the-bibles-vindication-of_b_212599.html) (via nikkibong (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=115710#post115710))

-- "Why We Think They Hate Us: Moral Imagination and the Possibility of Peace," on Cato Unbound (http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/06/08/robert-wright/why-we-think-they-hate-us-moral-imagination-and-the-possibility-of-peace/) (via Will Wilkinson (http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2009/06/08/new-at-cato-unbound-robert-wright-on-the-clash-of-civilizations-as-a-malfunctions-of-moral-imagination/)).

The latter is an adaptation of one of the chapters from TEOG.

claymisher
06-08-2009, 08:25 PM
I got my copy in the mail today. Based on what other folks have said I almost dread reading it now. Oh well! I'm sure I'll like Bob's next book!

bjkeefe
06-23-2009, 09:28 AM
... on the LiberalOasis (http://www.liberaloasis.com/2009/06/the_liberaloasis_radio_show_ev.php) radio show.

(Haven't listened to it yet.)

Update: Just listened. It's okay, although not very long (~15 min) or in-depth.

Me&theboys
06-23-2009, 12:20 PM
His interview by David Plotz at the New American Foundation is accessible via a link from http://www.evolutionofgod.net. Was pretty good. He again dodged a direct answer to a question from Plotz (posed previously by Drezner) about how the non-zero-sumness that was active in biblical times can be played out today, after millenia in which the belief content of the Abrahamic faiths has become more solidified/dogmatic and less amendable to reinterpretation/rewriting.

bjkeefe
06-24-2009, 03:56 PM
His interview by David Plotz at the New American Foundation is accessible via a link from http://www.evolutionofgod.net. Was pretty good. He again dodged a direct answer to a question from Plotz (posed previously by Drezner) about how the non-zero-sumness that was active in biblical times can be played out today, after millenia in which the belief content of the Abrahamic faiths has become more solidified/dogmatic and less amendable to reinterpretation/rewriting.

Thanks for the link.

Not having checked out the interview yet, let me just throw a little something in the hopper regarding the question you say Bob ducked.

It seems to me that there are plenty of examples of change from previous dogma that one could hold up that have occurred/been occurring quite recently. I only know (a bit) about the Christian sects, so I'll list some that occur to me from those and not try to hand-wave about Islam or Judaism:

- The decision by the Vatican to do away with the concept of limbo for babies that die without being baptized. This one took place within the past couple of years, IIRC.

- The Catholic Church allowing so-called Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (i.e., laity, not priests) to dispense communion, even during mass when priests are available, and even (gasp) allowing women to do so.

- Vatican II, including especially the notions that the priest should much more face the congregation during mass and that the mass should be celebrated in the vernacular of the congregation, instead of Latin.

- Allowing women ministers, priests(?), and bishops in some Protestant sects.

- Allowing openly gay clergy to serve in some Protestant sects

- Much more widespread acceptance of the notion of interpreting the Bible other than literally, including, but not limited to, acceptance of current astronomical and biological theories.

- Widely increased acceptance of interfaith marriages, and a growing acceptance of same-sex marriages

- Increased acceptance of divorce and remarriage

Granted, a lot of more fundamentalist Christians will have nothing to do with some or all of these changes, but that attitude has probably been true since they started squabbling about which gospels belonged in the Bible. The question will be, as far as Bob's vision panning out goes, whether the moderates/reformers carry the day or not.

thprop
06-27-2009, 08:49 AM
The NYTimes review of Bob's book (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/books/review/Bloom-t.html) will be in tomorrow's paper - on the cover of the Book Review section. It is by Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale and four time blogginghead. I think you would call it a positive review - the first line of the second paragraph:
In his brilliant new book, “The Evolution of God,” Robert Wright tells the story of how God grew up.

Bloom's BHtv appearances:
Tamar Szabo Gendler, May 29, 2009, Percontations: Beliefs, Aliefs, and Daydreams (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/20086)
Michael Murray, May 15, 2009, Science Saturday: God, Religion, and Weeping Statues (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/19786)
Will Wilkinson, December 7, 2008, Free Will: Praying for Atheists (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/16381)
Joshua Knobe, March 20, 2008, Science Saturday: Morality and Religion

(http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/9785)

bjkeefe
06-27-2009, 08:56 AM
The NYTimes review of Bob's book (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/books/review/Bloom-t.html) will be in tomorrow's paper - on the cover of the Book Review section. It is by Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale and four time blogginghead. I think you would call it a positive review ...

Thanks for the heads-up.

Oh, and how well does Bloom know our Bob?

Wright’s tone is reasoned and careful, even hesitant, throughout, and it is nice to read about issues like the morality of Christ and the meaning of jihad without getting the feeling that you are being shouted at. His views, though, are provocative and controversial. There is something here to annoy almost everyone.

Exactly right.

I'd count it as a successful life if anyone ever said something like that about me.

bjkeefe
06-27-2009, 09:11 AM
BTW, Bob's book is at the moment of this posting #57 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-God-Robert-Wright/dp/0316734918)'s "Sales Rank." It'll be interesting to see how that number moves once the NYTBR hits the streets. Fingers crossed.

(I am sure Bob's finely honed sense of self-control has kept him from obsessively monitoring this.)

claymisher
06-27-2009, 11:45 AM
BTW, Bob's book is at the moment of this posting #57 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-God-Robert-Wright/dp/0316734918)'s "Sales Rank." It'll be interesting to see how that number moves once the NYTBR hits the streets. Fingers crossed.

(I am sure Bob's finely honed sense of self-control has kept him from obsessively monitoring this.)

Up to #50. BTW, sales rank uses hits in addition to sales, so it'll shoot up a lot after a NYTBR review.

bjkeefe
06-27-2009, 12:36 PM
BTW, sales rank uses hits in addition to sales, so it'll shoot up a lot after a NYTBR review.

How sure are you about that? It seems counter-intuitive.

claymisher
06-27-2009, 01:56 PM
How sure are you about that? It seems counter-intuitive.

Pretty sure.

bjkeefe
06-27-2009, 02:10 PM
Pretty sure.

Okay. I am aware, from hearing authors talk about it, that the "sales rank" number fluctuates rather wildly, so maybe there is something involved besides just actual sales. Still, I'd like to see some sort of evidence if you ever come (back) across it.

[Added] Now at #34.

Nate
06-28-2009, 02:10 AM
Up to #27 now....

Nate
06-28-2009, 02:29 AM
His interview by David Plotz at the New American Foundation is accessible via a link from http://www.evolutionofgod.net.

Direct link for anyone interested:
http://www.newamerica.net/events/2009/the_evolution_god

Definitely worth watching.

bjkeefe
06-28-2009, 06:30 AM
Direct link for anyone interested:
http://www.newamerica.net/events/2009/the_evolution_god

Definitely worth watching.

Agreed. Just finished. Thanks to you and Me& for calling it to my attention.

Here are two questions I wish David Plotz had asked in the flow of their conversation:

1. Given that one of Bob's theses is that religion A has, historically, been more tolerant of other religions B, C, D, ... when the adherents of A were operating from a position of political weakness, how would he make this jibe with the growth in rather extreme and violent interpretations of Islam -- today -- among many of those Muslims who feel most threatened by the West and/or by Christianity and/or by Israel/the Jews? For example, it seems to me that there isn't a whole lot of ecumenical outreach going on among Palestinians, the Iranian government, or those with the most power in Afghanistan. I am not saying anything about whether they should; I am only asking how Bob would square what we see today with his observations about increasing tolerance (from those holding fewer cards) in the past.

1a. I might also ask this about Christians, especially in the US -- if you accept that many Christians feel "under attack" from the growth in secular attitudes, an increasingly pluralistic society, etc., how does this jibe with the growth in more fundamentalist Christian sects, compared to, say, Roman Catholicism? I point out that many of these more fundamentalist types, in addition to opposing atheist views, also tend to have a pronounced us-against-them attitude regarding Islam, and have very little patience for the view, say, that "we all worship the same God."

2. I've heard Bob discuss his book about half a dozen times now, and in every case, he has not failed to bash Dawkins, et al, for their views. He seems to me to be (a) over-simplifying what they have said, (b) lumping them together as having a unified philosophy (when, e.g., it is easy to see Harris as more extreme than Dawkins), and (c) missing their larger point -- that it is not so much that they actually see every religious person in the way that they argue against religion, but that they are primarily concerned with the most prominent, dumb, and dangerous forms of religious beliefs and how those manifest. So the question is: what might Bob say differently if he required himself to spend as much effort into finding charitable interpretations of The God Delusion, etc., as he has put into the various religious texts?

Ocean
06-28-2009, 09:54 AM
1. Given that one of Bob's theses is that religion A has, historically, been more tolerant of other religions B, C, D, ... when the adherents of A were operating from a position of political weakness, how would he make this jibe with the growth in rather extreme and violent interpretations of Islam -- today -- among many of those Muslims who feel most threatened by the West and/or by Christianity and/or by Israel/the Jews? For example, it seems to me that there isn't a whole lot of ecumenical outreach going on among Palestinians, the Iranian government, or those with the most power in Afghanistan. I am not saying anything about whether they should; I am only asking how Bob would square what we see today with his observations about increasing tolerance (from those holding fewer cards) in the past.


If you extrapolate the possible attitudes that an individual could have to those of a large group/ culture, in order to explain the above you need to somehow quantify the balance of power between the different parties involved. I would think that when the balance of power is such that the weaker party considers itself as having some negotiating power, it will be more likely to be tolerant of the other. It would improve the relationship and enhance the chances of successful compromise/negotiations. This is what Bob seems to be saying in his book.

However, if the weaker party sees itself under overwhelming attack, unable to negotiate, it will use more extreme responses. One of them would be to enhance its own internal strength by opposition to the external threat. Under these circumstances enhancing the differences, and decreasing tolerance would be beneficial. This seems to be what we are seeing today.

It would be nice to have Bob answer these questions though.

bjkeefe
06-28-2009, 10:12 AM
If you extrapolate the possible attitudes that an individual could have to those of a large group/ culture, in order to explain the above you need to somehow quantify the balance of power between the different parties involved. I would think that when the balance of power is such that the weaker party considers itself as having some negotiating power, it will be more likely to be tolerant of the other. It would improve the relationship and enhance the chances of successful compromise/negotiations. This is what Bob seems to be saying in his book.

However, if the weaker party sees itself under overwhelming attack, unable to negotiate, it will use more extreme responses. One of them would be to enhance its own internal strength by opposition to the external threat. Under these circumstances enhancing the differences, and decreasing tolerance would be beneficial. This seems to be what we are seeing today.

It would be nice to have Bob answer these questions though.

Very good answer. I'd bet that Bob's wouldn't be much different.

thprop
06-28-2009, 10:33 AM
Up to #27 now....
A short eight hours later, it has moved up two spots to #25. Although do you really want to be on a list where Glen Beck is #1?

bjkeefe
06-28-2009, 10:37 AM
A short eight hours later, it has moved up two spots to #25. Although do you really want to be on a list where Glen Beck is #1?

Oh, yeah, particularly if it means pushing him off that spot!

claymisher
06-28-2009, 02:20 PM
Oh, yeah, particularly if it means pushing him off that spot!

#19

bjkeefe
06-29-2009, 05:45 AM
#19

Still right there.

kezboard
06-29-2009, 04:02 PM
The picture of him in that review is really odd. He's trying to smile, but he looks as if he smells something gross and is trying to figure out what it is.

uncle ebeneezer
06-29-2009, 04:35 PM
The Odor of God!!

stephanie
07-01-2009, 02:11 PM
Oh, I have to watch this soon. Sounds like a good match up, at least hypothetically.

claymisher
07-01-2009, 04:52 PM
Can you explain religion without acknowledging the importance of actual religious experience?

... I did a one-week silent meditation retreat and had very profound experiences.

What kinds of experiences?

As the week wore on, the walls between me and other people and the rest of reality broke down a little. I became much less judgmental. I remember at one point looking at a weed and thinking, I can't believe I've been killing weeds because they're as pretty as anything else. Who put this label on weeds? And that's just a metaphor for what was changing in my consciousness. It was completely profound by the end of the week. Of course, a week later it wore off and I was a jerk again.

http://www.salon.com/env/atoms_eden/2009/06/24/evolution_of_god/print.html

I can't be the only person who thinks Bob is hilarious. Let's hope he reads the audiobook edition himself!

uncle ebeneezer
07-01-2009, 05:08 PM
.. I did a one-week silent meditation retreat and had very profound experiences.

Doesn't that pretty much fly in the face of the original question?

claymisher
07-01-2009, 05:39 PM
Not read by Bob. Oh well.

bjkeefe
07-01-2009, 07:15 PM
PZ Myers just recorded a discussion on the topic "Is Christian faith at odds with science?" Also appearing: Denis Alexander, who among other things is the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (sounds like Templeton, doesn't it?), and has written a book called Creation and Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?. The discussion had a moderator of sorts -- the host of the radio show Unbelievable, a British Christian talk show.

PZ's posts about it are here (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/christian_faith_is_at_odds_wit.php) and here (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/unbelievable_1.php); direct link to the MP3 is here (http://media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/ac1ae59a-f113-467c-8e51-7f0848271283.mp3).

You could see Alexander as an "accomodationist," a step or two beyond where Bob is. It's also of interest, in the context of this thread, that he talks about evolution as having a direction.

I'm a little more than halfway through it now (it's 65* minutes long) and I have to say, I wouldn't care to have this discussion with Alexander. He's maddening in his habit of answering orthogonally and PZ frequently has to bring the discussion back into focus. Still, it's not bad overall, and it's always worth hearing PZ and admiring how he keeps his cool in these discussions.

==========
* [Added] Originally said 80, but the last 15 minutes are another part of the show, separate from the main discussion described above.

uncle ebeneezer
07-01-2009, 07:36 PM
Thanks for finding that. Oh man, can we PLEASE get PZ on Bhtv to interview Bob?!! Come on Bob. Softball season is over. Bring on someone who will really challenge you.

Me&theboys
07-01-2009, 09:05 PM
I can't remember how I got to this link (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-tarico)(sorry for not giving credit where credit is due), but in case it was not from bhtv, I wanted to pass it on to the interested. Valerie Tarico is writing a 6 part blog in Huffington Post titled as above. She has posted 5 of the 6 parts to date. The last will probably come in a week or two. She provides a very interesting counter perspective to Bob's. Particularly interesting is her most recent Part 5 post, where she discusses the recent and probable future evolution of the Abrahamic faiths. She makes a number of points throughout the series that it would be great to get Bob's response to. Maybe he'll invite her on. She'd make a much better sparring partner than Ann Althouse or the others who have "interviewed" Bob about his book (although of all of them, I think Ann was the least deferential).

Me&theboys
07-01-2009, 09:11 PM
PZ's posts about it are here (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/christian_faith_is_at_odds_wit.php) and here (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/unbelievable_1.php); direct link to the MP3 is here (http://media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/ac1ae59a-f113-467c-8e51-7f0848271283.mp3).

Thanks for the links!

bjkeefe
07-01-2009, 09:35 PM
Thanks for the links!

You're welcome. And thanks for yours (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=118567#post118567). I've bookmarked it until I'm in a more receptive mood for it -- temporarily burned out on this topic.

Me&theboys
07-01-2009, 09:49 PM
You're welcome. And thanks for yours (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=118567#post118567). I've bookmarked it until I'm in a more receptive mood for it -- temporarily burned out on this topic.

me too. I can't deal with 80 minutes. have saved for later......

bjkeefe
07-01-2009, 10:11 PM
me too. I can't deal with 80 minutes. have saved for later......

Actually, just came back to update my last post. Turns out the whole program is 80 minutes long, but the PZ part is only about 65. (I doubt this will change your mind immediately, of course, but now you have 15 more minutes of life to look forward to! (Sort of.))

Me&theboys
07-02-2009, 12:05 PM
Actually, just came back to update my last post. Turns out the whole program is 80 minutes long, but the PZ part is only about 65. (I doubt this will change your mind immediately, of course, but now you have 15 more minutes of life to look forward to! (Sort of.))

well, that made all the difference. I caved and listened while shoe shopping online. I was not impressed with PZ's performance, but the other guy did most of the talking and made so many ridiculous points that I'm sure it was not possible to respond to all of them.

bjkeefe
07-02-2009, 12:10 PM
well, that made all the difference. I caved and listened while shoe shopping online. I was not impressed with PZ's performance, but the other guy did most of the talking and made so many ridiculous points that I'm sure it was not possible to respond to all of them.

Sorry PZ didn't give you kicks. Hope you found some good ones on your own, while multitasking.

Peace, love, and sole.

I'm SO awesome!
07-02-2009, 08:05 PM
ouch! did anyone post this NYT review yet?
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/02/the-non-evolution-of-god/?em

here's a crappier copy of a my other post that got removed if anyone cares. it's a pretty good reason to kill yourself if anyone needs one:
http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/06/goldman-sachs-engineering-every-major.html

"With a subtitle like "From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again" run, don't walk, to your nearest kiosk and buy Matt Taibbi's latest piece in Rolling Stone magazine. One of the best comprehensive profiles of Government Sachs done to date. Speaking of GS, they sure must be busy today, now that Bernanke is about to be impeached and take the fall for all their machinations."

bjkeefe
07-02-2009, 08:28 PM
ouch! did anyone post this NYT review yet?
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/02/the-non-evolution-of-god/?em

From the URL, I was surprised. But it turns out Tierney isn't the author of that review; it's Nicholas Wade, guest-blogging.

In case anyone cares.

I'm SO awesome!
07-02-2009, 08:42 PM
wade?! wow, i love wade. he's a great writer. that's an even bigger ouch then cuz he's really damn smart.
bj, i know it's long and crappily uploaded but you may want to read that rolling stone article on Goldman Sachs. it's getting huge buzz and i'd be interested to hear a rebuttal or an agreement from you or anyone on here. pretty riveting stuff!

bjkeefe
07-02-2009, 08:46 PM
wade?! wow, i love wade. he's a great writer. that's an even bigger ouch then cuz he's really damn smart.
bj, i know it's long and crappily uploaded but you may want to read that rolling stone article on Goldman Sachs. it's getting huge buzz and i'd be interested to hear a rebuttal or an agreement from you or anyone on here. pretty riveting stuff!

Yes, I do plan to read that Taibbi piece. Sorry I haven't said anything about it yet. I'm putting off reading it in those document viewer thingies, under the assumption that it will soon be made available in clean HTML, the way Al Gore intended, when he invented the Internet.

It's also one of those things that I know is going to depress the hell out of me, which gives me more reason to procrastinate.

I'm SO awesome!
07-02-2009, 08:58 PM
no rush at all and don't feel like you have to read it or respond but i just felt it was so damning and...."epic" that i thought somebody with some pull around here should know about it. i guess maybe most people already know investment banks are full of shit but i thought this piece was pretty shocking.

bjkeefe
07-03-2009, 10:59 AM
From the URL, I was surprised. But it turns out Tierney isn't the author of that review; it's Nicholas Wade, guest-blogging.

In case anyone cares.

For the record, Bob takes note (exception) (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/20873?in=60:49&out=61:10).

bjkeefe
07-03-2009, 06:53 PM
Yes, I do plan to read that Taibbi piece. Sorry I haven't said anything about it yet. I'm putting off reading it in those document viewer thingies, under the assumption that it will soon be made available in clean HTML, the way Al Gore intended, when he invented the Internet.

It's also one of those things that I know is going to depress the hell out of me, which gives me more reason to procrastinate.

HTML version now available (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/28816321/the_great_american_bubble_machine). Plus bonus video with MT.

Which leaves only my second excuse now.

I'm SO awesome!
07-03-2009, 06:57 PM
nice, thanks a lot. i looked for it there yesterday and couldn't find it. ooooh, it has a video too!

thprop
07-04-2009, 01:54 PM
Bob did an interview - hour long - for the American Freethought podcast (http://www.americanfreethought.com/wordpress/2009/07/03/podcast-58-robert-wright/). I think it is better than some of the other book promos that he has done.

bjkeefe
07-04-2009, 09:29 PM
From the latest Massimo's Picks (http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2009/07/massimos-picks.html) post:

Robert Wright has written a book on the evolution of god that is likely to upset a lot of people. So you really need to read it.

I wouldn't at all mind having Massimo Pigliucci on Bh.tv, whether to talk with Bob about his book or to hear from him on any of a number of other topics.

bjkeefe
07-05-2009, 09:22 AM
Bob did an interview - hour long - for the American Freethought podcast (http://www.americanfreethought.com/wordpress/2009/07/03/podcast-58-robert-wright/). I think it is better than some of the other book promos that he has done.

Just listened to this. I agree -- it's a good interview. Thanks for the link.

bjkeefe
07-10-2009, 03:06 AM
PZ Myers has been reviewing Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's new book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, and he's got a long post up responding to Chapter 8, where they give their views on the so-called "New Atheists."

It sounds like Mooney and Kirshenbaum have about the same attitude I've been hearing Bob Wright express, so it seemed relevant to post this link here. A good read, and I especially encourage those who think Myers, Dawkins, et al, go "too far" to give it a look (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_and_those.php).

uncle ebeneezer
07-10-2009, 03:43 AM
Wow, that was great. Can we PLEASE get a Bob/PZ diavlog?!!!

graz
07-11-2009, 10:08 PM
More Bob on Bob:
http://www.alternet.org/rights/141225/what_makes_religion_a_force_for_good_or_evil/?page=entire

Bob on us:
TM: And bloggingheads.tv?

RW: Greg Gingle, now at Facebook, helped me create what is, so far as I know, the first split-screen video Web site. Any two people anywhere -- as long as they have a phone connection and could eventually find a place to upload a file -- can have a video dialog. The New York Times online excerpts a clip three times a week.

TM: Who will visitors find there?



RW: People on both the left and right. I discovered that unless there's some degree of disagreement, it's not interesting to people. And if you're not forcing fireworks, it can be illuminating to see both sides of an issue. We have a fairly ideologically diverse comment section, which is rare. The Web naturally creates "preaching to the choir" sites.

TM: And the choir replies, just as they do in church.

RW: It's call and response. Mobilizing the base can be good, but if you want to convince some uncommitted people that maybe your views have some merit, there's value in having an ideologically diverse community.

Right after the Iraq war, I made a point of featuring conservatives who had opposed the war, so folks could see that you could be a conservative without being a hawk.


Mr. Robert Wright seems not to see the value in presenting any of the "New Atheists" or defenders to counter the recent belittling... misrepresenting... and general disdain expressed by a number of DV participants.

I'm SO awesome!
07-11-2009, 11:19 PM
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/10/non-evolution-of-god-part-2/?em

anyone post this yet? is it bad that i'm cheering for wade?

bjkeefe
07-12-2009, 02:00 AM
Or not (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/us/11gay.html) (via (http://instaputz.blogspot.com/2009/07/embarrassing.html)).

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 50-year-old civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter in response to his support of same-sex marriage in California.

bjkeefe
07-13-2009, 02:03 AM
PZ Myers has been reviewing Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's new book ...

Battle heating up (http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/Mbol5LoNKh8/an_annoyed_query.php).

[Added] The ultimate slap from PZ: Mooney is blockquoted with the dreaded CSS style: <blockquote class="creationist">. (Which causes an icon to appear next to the text, and the font chosen to be MS Comic Sans.)

graz
07-13-2009, 09:57 AM
Wherein Bob continues to ply his case against new atheists, yet still fails to allow them rebuttal on bhtv:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/why-the-new-atheists-are_b_230448.html
It must strike progressive atheists as a stroke of bad luck that Christopher Hitchens, leading atheist spokesperson, happens to have hawkish views on foreign policy. After all, with atheists an overwhelmingly left-wing group, what were the chances that the loudest infidel in the western world would happen to be on the right?

Actually, the chances were pretty good. When it comes to foreign policy, a right-wing bias afflicts not just Hitchens's world view, but the whole ideology of "new atheism," especially as seen in the work of Hitchens allies Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

Atheism has little intrinsic ideological bent. (Karl Marx. Ayn Rand. I rest my case.) But things change when you add the key ingredient of the new atheism: the idea that religion is not just mistaken, but evil -- that it "poisons everything," as Hitchens has put it with characteristic nuance.

Consider Dawkins's assertion, in his book The God Delusion, that if there were no religion then there would be "no Israeli-Palestinian wars."

For starters, this is just wrong. The initial resistance to the settlements, and to the establishment of Israel, wasn't essentially religious, and neither was the original establishment of the settlements, or even of Israel.

The problem here is that two ethnic groups disagree about who deserves what land. That there was so much killing before the dispute acquired a deeply religious cast suggests that taking religion out of the equation wouldn't be the magic recipe for peace that Dawkins imagines. (As I show in my new book The Evolution of God, zero-sum disputes over land and other things have long been the root cause of the ugliest manifestations of religion, ranging from Christian anti-semitism in ancient Rome to bloodthirsty xenophobia in the Hebrew Bible to the Koran's gleeful anticipation of infidel suffering in the afterlife.)

The Israeli and American right join Dawkins in stressing religious motivation in the Middle East, and there's a reason for that. The people there whose political grievances are most conspicuously caught up with religion are Muslims. If the problem is that Muslims are possessed by this irrational, quasi-autonomous force known as religion, then there's no point in trying to reason with them, or to look at any facts on the ground that might drive their discontent. And there are facts on the ground in the West Bank that the Israeli and American right don't want to talk about. They're called settlements.

And so too with discontent throughout the Muslim world: If religion is the wellspring of radicalism, why bother paying attention to any issues in the actual material world? Why, for example, would you do what President Obama has done, and address a longstanding Iranian grievance by admitting that the US played a role in a 1953 coups that replaced Iran's democratically elected leader with a dictator?

Sam Harris has been explicit in rejecting material explanations of Islamic radicalism. In The End of Faith, while discussing terrorism, he pondered such roots causes as "the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza...the collusion of Western powers with corrupt dictatorships...the endemic poverty and lack of economic opportunity that now plague the Arab world." He concluded: "We can ignore all of these things, or treat them only to place them safely on the shelf, because the world is filled with poor, uneducated, and exploited peoples who do not commit acts of terrorism."

Yes, and the world is full of people who smoke and never get lung cancer. So, by Harris's logic, there's no chance that smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer -- and we never should have investigated that possibility!

People are survival machines built by natural selection. (This Dawkins gets.) When they sense threats to their interests, they can not only get violent, but wrap themselves in a larger cause that justifies the violence. Here they're as flexible as you'd expect well-built survival machines to be: that larger cause can be religion, yes, but it can also be nationalism or racialism. Hitler whipped up more fervor with the latter two than the first. Whatever's handy.

Of course, when religion is handy, special problems can arise. If there were no belief in paradise, there would be few suicide bombers. Then again, there might be less charity. Whether belief in posthumous rewards has on balance done more harm than good is an empirical question whose subtlety Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens don't exactly emphasize.

Anyway, the question is how to reduce the number of suicide bombers. And I have to wonder: If some Jihadists are motivated partly by fear that the west threatens their religious culture, is the optimal counter-terrorism strategy to have know-it-all westerners tell them their God doesn't exist?

The history of the Abrahamic faiths suggests not. Making Jews, Christians, and Muslims feel threatened by other cultures has often brought out the worst in their religions, whereas doing the the opposite -- putting them in "non-zero-sum" situations, where win-win outcomes are possible -- has brought out the best.

Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris should of course write what they want, even if it's likely to increase the amount of religious radicalism in the world. But if they're going to style themselves as soldiers in the war on terror, that will just go to show that the "God delusion" isn't the only kind of delusion.

Afterthought: It's logically possible for "new atheists" to highlight the Israeli settlement problem on grounds of justice or international law, notwithstanding their implied belief that addressing the problem won't do much good until religion vanishes. And here Hitchens, commendably, has been on the right side of the issue, even if he hasn't invested much energy in it since his turn to the right.

nikkibong
07-13-2009, 10:04 AM
nvm - found a way to get it.

graz
07-13-2009, 10:20 AM
Have you just become a dissident by circumventing the Great Firewall of China?

bjkeefe
07-13-2009, 12:48 PM
Wherein Bob continues to ply his case against new atheists, yet still fails to allow them rebuttal on bhtv:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/why-the-new-atheists-are_b_230448.html

Thanks for the link and excerpt.

Among other things, I am rather surprised at Bob for this reason: He ordinarily strikes me as a nuanced thinker and someone who is completely comfortable with the notion that a smart person can hold contradictory ideas in his or her head at the same time. Why, then, does he think it is such a crippling blow to atheists like me that Christopher Hitchens holds hawkish views with which I disagree, but I can also admire him for his stance on religion?

I applaud you, graz, for continuing to call for Bob to bring on one of these people who he has spent so much time bashing over the past few weeks. Once again, I second that call. For Bob not to allow proper rebuttal (and no, John Horgan doesn't count) goes against the core philosophy of this site, it seems to me.

claymisher
07-13-2009, 01:28 PM
Thanks for the link and excerpt.

Among other things, I am rather surprised at Bob for this reason: He ordinarily strikes me as a nuanced thinker and someone who is completely comfortable with the notion that a smart person can hold contradictory ideas in his or her head at the same time. Why, then, does he think it is such a crippling blow to atheists like me that Christopher Hitchens holds hawkish views with which I disagree, but I can also admire him for his stance on religion?

I applaud you, graz, for continuing to call for Bob to bring on one of these people who he has spent so much time bashing over the past few weeks. Once again, I second that call. For Bob not to allow proper rebuttal (and no, John Horgan doesn't count) goes against the core philosophy of this site, it seems to me.

I'd like to see Bob vs a New Atheist too. Knowing bhtv he's already done two already but on one of them camera had the lens cap on the whole time and the other was eaten by Frazier.

uncle ebeneezer
07-13-2009, 02:13 PM
I don't think any attempt to write-off the religious element of the I/P situation, is very useful. It's a complex situation with many factors but religion is definitely one of the big ones. I mean Jerusalem is more than just a property value issue to both sides. Do you really think that the fight over that city would be just as heated if it were not considered to be "holy?"

I'm disappointed as well, that we have not seen any representatives of the New Atheists on here to take on Bob. Hitchens has been on bhTv and Dennett was on meaningoflife.tv, so you would think one of them would be available (as well as PZ Myers.) I'm also nonplussed at Bob's choice to even focus on them. I hardly see them as major players in the grand scheme of things. I think Bob name drops them (and included them in his book) mainly for generating buzz.

bjkeefe
07-13-2009, 02:33 PM
I'm also nonplussed at Bob's choice to even focus on them. I hardly see them as major players in the grand scheme of things. I think Bob name drops them (and included them in his book) mainly for generating buzz.

An interesting suspicion. It did not occur to me to think of Bob as this nefarious, although he has made it clear he likes controversy in the diavlogs.

If I had to bet, though, I'd bet that Bob is sincere in what he says about the Four Horseman, although I concede he may be over-emphasizing this consciously. Maybe he also does this because he doesn't want religious people to think that his book is just another attack on their faith.

Whatever the case, though, it is beyond time to let them respond to him, on this site.

uncle ebeneezer
07-13-2009, 02:51 PM
Agreed. I wasn't suggesting that he is insincere, just that he probably considered the buzz-aspect of anything that mentions Dawkins' et al, when he decided whether or not to include that as a part of his book. I think we need a couple cage matches: Wright/Dawkins, and Mooney/PZ Myers, to start.

bjkeefe
07-13-2009, 03:07 PM
Agreed. I wasn't suggesting that he is insincere, just that he probably considered the buzz-aspect of anything that mentions Dawkins' et al, when he decided whether or not to include that as a part of his book. I think we need a couple cage matches: Wright/Dawkins, and Mooney/PZ Myers, to start.

We should have a whole series. And here is the cartoon (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2009/07/car-toon.html) that could be the iconic image for it.

bjkeefe
07-13-2009, 07:22 PM
PZ Myers ... give it a look (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_and_those.php).

Battle heating up (http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/Mbol5LoNKh8/an_annoyed_query.php).

The battle continues (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_the_gift.php).

nikkibong
07-13-2009, 08:55 PM
Have you just become a dissident by circumventing the Great Firewall of China?

Just back from reeducation. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Xinjiang is part of China.

nikkibong
07-13-2009, 09:00 PM
Disappointing post from Bob, with the exception of one witty line: " . . .it "poisons everything," as Hitchens has put it with characteristic nuance."

I second (or third, or fourth) the call for the appearance of a "new atheist" here at bhtv to duke it out with Bob. Sam Harris would be my top choice. Please no Hitchens: he has enough platforms on which to bloviate . . .

uncle ebeneezer
07-13-2009, 10:50 PM
Man, PZ has a way with words:

To useless, I must also add the adjective lightweight.

Ouch!!

bjkeefe
07-14-2009, 12:02 AM
Man, PZ has a way with words:

[...]

Ouch!!

Yeah, he can zing with the best of them, can't he? But the lines right before that one are substantive criticism and to the extent that I can tell from the Mooney/Zimmer diavlog and reading reviews, but without having read the book, they sound spot-on.

Ultimately, this whole exchange illustrates the failure of Mooney/Kirshenbaum's arguments. The demotion of Pluto, the rise of the "New Atheism", PZ Myers, and blogging are all recent phenomena — they do not deal with the causes of the disconnect between society and science, and treating them is a distraction from dealing with the real problems. This book is more like a collection of poor rationalizations for complaining about stuff they don't like than a serious and scholarly attempt to address a significant social problem. To useless, I must also add the adjective lightweight.

This sort of resonates with what bothers me about Bob's complaints about the "New Atheists." I keep hearing him repeat that one line about Dawkins and Israel/Palestine, or, "Hitchens is a right-winger!!!", as though that's all these guys ever said.

uncle ebeneezer
07-14-2009, 12:37 AM
Yeah that was probably the best point of the whole post. So the "new atheist" movement isn't helping to forge the way for peace and understanding between the many faiths of the world...okay, so what about the previous several hundred years before Dawkins et al, came about? You know, when it was just the faithful, and the OTHER faithful??

bjkeefe
07-14-2009, 02:43 AM
... So the "new atheist" movement isn't helping ...?

Didja see this Tweet (http://twitter.com/bloggingheads/status/2619845768)?

Hash-tag baiting that would make Erick Erickson proud.

(Okay, I sometimes do it (http://twitter.com/bjkeefe/status/2628473690), too.)

DisturbingClown
07-14-2009, 04:25 AM
This commenter from the Wade piece sums up my frustration with Bob's thesis:

At least as presented in this article, Wright’s argument is idiotic. What he seems to be saying is that:

1. Moral norms have changed since ancient times. (You mean, when everything else about a society changes, its moral norms change too? I’m shocked.)

2. Today’s moral norms are “better” than those of ancient times… *when judged by today’s moral norms*. (Well, yeah. What would you expect?)

3. Therefore, God. Maybe. (Huh?)

1 is obvious. 2 is a tautology. 3 is a complete non sequitur.

link (http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/02/the-non-evolution-of-god/?em#comment-154211)

Bob is obviously a nuanced thinker so I'm baffled why he harps on this particularly bad idea. There's a positives moral arc to history? According to what metric?

Francoamerican
07-14-2009, 08:26 AM
"At least as presented in this article, Wright’s argument is idiotic. What he seems to be saying is that:

1. Moral norms have changed since ancient times. (You mean, when everything else about a society changes, its moral norms change too? I’m shocked.)

2. Today’s moral norms are “better” than those of ancient times… *when judged by today’s moral norms*. (Well, yeah. What would you expect?)

3. Therefore, God. Maybe. (Huh?)

1 is obvious. 2 is a tautology. 3 is a complete non sequitur."

If you find proposition 1 obvious why do you find proposition 2 a tautology? Unless you think change is just a matter of "plus ça change plus c'est la même chose," it seems to me that history provides a certain amount of evidence of change for the better, and among those changes are moral norms, e.g. we no longer consider slavery to be just, we think that unnnecessary cruelty in war is wrong, we think that ethnic hatred (racism) is wrong. So how did we come to know these things? Or perhaps you believe that these changes are just meaningless, haphazard changes in our whimsical customs which tell us nothing about the course of history?

As for proposition 3 being a non-sequitur, that may be so. But I don't think Bob Wright has ever said that the course of history proves there is a God. He has merely said that moral progress cannot be understood on the purely Darwinian grounds of natural selection.

claymisher
07-14-2009, 12:37 PM
Didn't the whole Darwin/Popper blowout teach us that tautologies aren't always so bad? You know, survival of the fittest because the fittest survive? 1+1=2 because 2-1=1?

Anyway, let me second MY's response to Bob vs Hitchens et al:

Wright’s ensuring discussion of this bores into the details of Western ideas about Muslim grievances and makes good points. I think another way of thinking about it is that Dawkins has basically tried to reformulate atheism in the evangelizing and illiberal mode of illiberal evangelizing religion. Thus, much as right-wing Christians and right-wing Muslims can simultaneously loathe each other and have structurally similar views, so, too, can “new atheists” join the party. Elsewhere you have a liberal ethic adhered to by people who identify with different spiritual traditions and also by what I think are “normal” atheists, just people who don’t identify with a religious tradition, rather than people who want to construct a self-conscious atheist identity and go to battle over it.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/07/hawkishness-and-the-new-atheists.php

uncle ebeneezer
07-14-2009, 01:50 PM
And an interesting link from the MY piece:

http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2009/07/robert_wright_bashes_the_new_a.php

claymisher
07-14-2009, 02:26 PM
The thing that bums me out about Wright's nonzero moral progress arrow of time is that it depends on increasing energy consumption. I wonder if without fossil fuels we'd still have slavery.

bjkeefe
07-14-2009, 03:09 PM
And an interesting link from the MY piece:

http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2009/07/robert_wright_bashes_the_new_a.php

Wow. That was really well-argued. Rosenhouse said so many things that I think but haven't been able to articulate as cleanly.

Thanks for the link.

DisturbingClown
07-14-2009, 04:50 PM
Franco, it's a tautology in the sense that no matter what point you pick in history, morality in eras closer to you chronologicaly will seem "better" to you, while the ethics of eras further in the past or future would seem "worse". If ethics are fluid, it is a mistake to use the current standard of ethics as a metric to judge ethics in other areas. Someone in the Roman Republic 2000 years ago would judge current Western Liberal ethics to be as "bad" and alien as we might theirs.

bjkeefe
07-15-2009, 03:38 AM
The battle continues (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_the_gift.php).

PZ has another (!) post on the M&K (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_still_use.php) book, or, more precisely, on Mooney's responses to his criticisms.

PZ also (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/coyne_on_unscientific_america.php) points to Jerry Coyne, who has posted Part 1 of his review (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/unscientific-unscientific-america-part-1/), and adds some comments.

In still another post, PZ asks, "Burned out on the bickering among the pro-science forces? (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/burned_out_on_the_bickering_am.php)" Whereupon he describes battles among the New Agers:

... astrology, fairies, life-force energy, and spiritual quests are OK. Channeling and paganism are out. This has annoyed the so-open-minded-their-brains-have-fallen-out crowd.

=============

[Added] Also good by Coyne: a post on the incompatibility of science and religion (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/eugenie-scott-dissembles-about-accommodationism/) (directed at Mooney and Eugenie Scott). Here's an excerpt:

I guess I’ll have to tell Chris (and Eugenie) once again why it is controversial, since he’s been told before (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/rosenhouse-vs-mooney-redux-jason-is-doing-my-job-for-me/) but it doesn’t seem to have registered.

First of all, nobody doubts that science and religion are compatible in the trivial sense that someone can be a scientist and be religious at the same time. That only shows one’s ability to hold two dissimilar approaches to the world simultaneously in one’s own mind. As I’ve said umpteen times before, you could say that being a Christian is compatible with being a murderer because a lot of murderers are Christians. Yet Mooney, and Scott, make this argument, and Mooney touts it as “powerful.”

It isn’t. This is not what we mean when we say science and faith are incompatible. Got it, folks?? Let’s not hear the “there-are-religious-scientists” argument any more. It’s trivial, and insulting to anyone who can think. (See here (http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_16.html#shirky) for Clay Shirkey’s refutation of what he calls “The Doctrine of Joint Belief.”)

Scott says, “I don’t have to address this as a philosophical question; I can address it as an empirical question.” Well, it is both an empirical and philosophical question.

Here is the philosophical part: is a way of finding out things based on reason and evidence compatible with a way of finding out things based on revelation and dogma?

Here is the empirical part: are the assertions of faith in conflict, or potential conflict, with the assertions of science?

If the answer to the empirical part was “no, no conflict” then the philosophical part would show compatibility: faith and science would be equally good — and reliable– ways to find out stuff.

But in fact the answer to the empirical part is “yes” — virtually every faith, with the possible exception of Buddhism and deism, makes fact claims about the universe. And there is no evidence for any of these assertions. Indeed, many of them have proven to be false.

bjkeefe
07-15-2009, 04:05 AM
Wherein Bob continues to ply his case against new atheists, yet still fails to allow them rebuttal on bhtv:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/why-the-new-atheists-are_b_230448.html

PZ Myers (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/wrong_from_the_title_on.php):

Wrong from the title on

Robert Wright has an article that you can stop reading as soon as you've seen the title: Why the "New Atheists" are Right-Wing on Foreign Policy (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/why-the-new-atheists-are_b_230448.html).

Uh, we aren't.







Well, that one was easy.

Francoamerican
07-15-2009, 01:03 PM
Franco, it's a tautology in the sense that no matter what point you pick in history, morality in eras closer to you chronologicaly will seem "better" to you, while the ethics of eras further in the past or future would seem "worse". If ethics are fluid, it is a mistake to use the current standard of ethics as a metric to judge ethics in other areas. Someone in the Roman Republic 2000 years ago would judge current Western Liberal ethics to be as "bad" and alien as we might theirs.

That is a novel use of the word tautology.

DisturbingClown
07-15-2009, 02:43 PM
His word, not mine. Putting nomenclature aside, do you see the underlying problem? Any culture will judge itself good by the metric of its own ethics, its a vacuous statement. The problem is Bob wants to put forward some sort of theory of history based on it.

Francoamerican
07-15-2009, 03:00 PM
His word, not mine. Putting nomenclature aside, do you see the underlying problem? Any culture will judge itself good by the metric of its own ethics, its a vacuous statement. The problem is Bob wants to put forward some sort of theory of history based on it.

I am sympathetic to what Bob is trying to do, even though I have my doubts about the Darwinian side of the argument. I know that a lot of commenters here think he is trying to smuggle religion in through the back door of history, but I believe they are mistaken (he has never said that history proves the existence of God). All he has said is that history shows moral progress. If this is so, and I think it is (though with many qualifications), you cannot fall back on cultural relativism ("every culture judges itself good by its own metric") because there is a sense in which, objectively, what comes later IS better.

DisturbingClown
07-15-2009, 04:08 PM
Could you expand a little on the objective sense in which ethics are(is?) improving?

Francoamerican
07-16-2009, 05:16 AM
Could you expand a little on the objective sense in which ethics are(is?) improving?

As I said earlier:

We no longer consider slavery to be just, we think that unnecessary cruelty in war is wrong, many people even think that war itself is wrong, we think that ethnic hatred (racism) is wrong, we consider women equal in rights to men.

So how did we come to know these things if not through history? The development of the modern state since the 18th century, which put an end to high levels of interpersonal violence (in Europe but also in North American) surely has to be regarded as progress, doesn't it?

uncle ebeneezer
07-16-2009, 05:31 PM
I will say that I think some of the push-back against Bob (especially in regards to Bob's discussion with Dennett) casts Bob in a light that I think is quite exaggerated. Reading the comments about it would lead you to believe that it was far more contentious than it seemed to be when you actually watched it.

graz
07-18-2009, 12:39 AM
Bob interviewed by Moyers:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07172009/watch2.html
He acquits himself very well... except for the Dawkins dig. I realize that he returns to that example to highlight the material consequences of conflict that shouldn't necessarily be attributed to religion. Enough with the free shots though. Time for a new atheist challenge.

I'm SO awesome!
07-18-2009, 01:35 AM
ok, i'm back to not being in this debate again. i found the wiki pages on evo. origins of religion and evo. of morality much more clear and concise than bob's take. whatever, nothing to see here.....(starts whistling).......

http://www.customersarealways.com/uploads/mr%20rogers.gif

i did finally realize who bob reminds me of, though;)

thprop
07-19-2009, 01:07 PM
Bob will be guest blogging (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/god-and-the-gold-standard.html) over at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/). Bob has turned into the complete media whore.

kezboard
07-19-2009, 09:08 PM
You're completely right.
He was a minister, you know...

I'm SO awesome!
07-19-2009, 09:34 PM
bob was a minister?? i had no idea.

kezboard
07-20-2009, 02:47 AM
Minister of the Church of Moral Progress.
I think Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian priest, or maybe Methodist.

graz
07-20-2009, 10:18 AM
Bob interviewed by Moyers:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07172009/watch2.html
He acquits himself very well... except for the Dawkins dig. I realize that he returns to that example to highlight the material consequences of conflict that shouldn't necessarily be attributed to religion. Enough with the free shots though. Time for a new atheist challenge.

A half-measure but better than none. Not quite a diavlog, but in keeping with the theme of answering the challenge of the new atheists:
Dawkins on his critics. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2040224787207865440)

I'm SO awesome!
07-20-2009, 01:19 PM
wow, ok, if i knew that i would've just forgot the whole god deal. clearly, he's not on truly board with the science crowd.

popcorn_karate
07-21-2009, 03:27 PM
well - how about:

Stephen j gould
carl sagan
thomas edison
nichola tesla
marie curie

gore vidal
isaac asimaov
mark twain

etc. etc. etc.

graz
07-21-2009, 03:36 PM
A half-measure but better than none. Not quite a diavlog, but in keeping with the theme of answering the challenge of the new atheists:
Dawkins on his critics. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2040224787207865440)
And an indirect reply from Bob to anyone at all:
Had I written a more careful article, with a different title... I might not have been criticized (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/the-trouble-with-the-new_b_241217.html)

popcorn_karate
07-21-2009, 04:45 PM
Why, then, does he think it is such a crippling blow to atheists like me that Christopher Hitchens holds hawkish views with which I disagree, but I can also admire him for his stance on religion?

i think his point was that the "new atheist" worldview as expressed even by a lefty like dawkins (i.e. israel/palestine is solely a religious conflict) still implicitly supports the right-wing position (its just them crazy violent muslims - no root causes to be dealt with here - move along folks) whether or not the people espousing the belief are rightwing or not.

popcorn_karate
07-21-2009, 04:48 PM
do we know that any of them actually want to?

does the Taint of Templeton not scare them away from BHTV?

but yeah - if their willing, Bob should definitely do it.

bjkeefe
07-21-2009, 07:03 PM
PZ has another (!) post on the M&K (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_still_use.php) book, or, more precisely, on Mooney's responses to his criticisms.

Finally winding down? The latest from PZ (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_its_perso.php) on this topic feels like a last word, anyway.

I'll second PZ's recommendation to Brian Carnell's post (http://brian.carnell.com/articles/2009/does-chris-mooney-even-know-what-is-in-unscientific-america), too.

bjkeefe
07-21-2009, 07:05 PM
do we know that any of them actually want to?

does the Taint of Templeton not scare them away from BHTV?

but yeah - if their willing, Bob should definitely do it.

I know Jerry Coyne has said he won't have anything to do with this site as long as it keeps doing business with the TF, although I would say it is incorrect to characterize this as his being "scared."

I don't know where anybody else stands on this, although I'd be surprised if at least some of them weren't willing to do a diavlog with Bob.

popcorn_karate
07-22-2009, 01:27 PM
although I would say it is incorrect to characterize this as his being "scared."

yeah - disgusted by the Taint of Templeton is probably more accurate. I just really liked the ring of "the taint of Templeton" and got a bit sloppy.

I don't know where anybody else stands on this, although I'd be surprised if at least some of them weren't willing to do a diavlog with Bob.

it would be nice to know, because if bob is the hold-up, we should hold his feet to the fire! (not that we can necessarily provide that much heat... but maybe a little)

thprop
07-27-2009, 02:54 PM
Jerry Coyne reviews Bob's book for The New Republic. The title of the article gives away his opinion, Creationism For Liberals. (http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=8874be1e-16db-43db-bda5-17ac7af196d0)

From Jerry's blog, Why Evolution is True (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/review-of-robert-wrights-the-evolution-of-god/),
Short review: save your money unless you’re religious but insecure in your faith, and desperate to find some sign of divinity in the world.

bjkeefe
07-27-2009, 05:22 PM
Jerry Coyne reviews Bob's book for The New Republic. The title of the article gives away his opinion, Creationism For Liberals. (http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=8874be1e-16db-43db-bda5-17ac7af196d0)

From Jerry's blog, Why Evolution is True (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/review-of-robert-wrights-the-evolution-of-god/),

Thanks for the links. A good read.

I have some quibbles with what Jerry says. (Disclaimer: I haven't read EOG; I'm basing this on what I know of Bob and from what I've heard him say about his book.)

Here's one. Jerry says (p.3) as part of the build-up to dismissing Bob's fondness for the non-zero thing:

Indeed, natural selection actually requires zero-sumness, since it involves direct competition between genes and individuals, with the winners displacing the losers.

This is generally true, but not universally so. For example, there are many symbiotic relationships between different species, in which their respective evolutionary changes have worked both to their own and the other's benefit. Think of plants developing flowers with distinctive markings and odors, not to mention nectar, that give bees and other insects an added advantage ("treats over here, and only you can easily detect them!") in return for getting their pollen more widely spread. This seems like a nonzero-sum instance of natural selection to me.

This absolutist claim is particularly surprising in light of remarks just above, in which Jerry dismisses the notion that evolution always leads to increased complexity. He's quite right about this, as anyone who's read Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex will agree, but it strikes me as odd that he's eager to point out exceptions to general trends in evolution in one place while ignoring them in another.

Oh, and speaking of parasites, I am reminded of how many times this works out for the best, for both species. Where would humans be without our huge collection of beneficial bacteria (http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/microbes-r-us/) that have evolved to inhabit our bodies, to our mutual benefit?

Here's another (p.4):

"The possibility persists": this type of hedging is characteristic of Wright's intellectual style. Possibility, for Wright, is certainty enough ...

There's something to that, but it seems excessive and unfair. Talking about things in terms of possibilities -- i.e., being uncertain about something and admitting it -- is generally an admirable characteristic, indicating honesty, particularly scientific honesty, most often. I grant that there are people who frequently hedge out loud when you know they're convinced inside, but I do not think of Bob in this way.

In fairness to Jerry, he goes on to argue in support of the above claim fairly extensively, and he may be restricting his assessment to what appears in the book only.

Okay, I guess those are the only two quibbles.

I liked the way Jerry argued about Bob's history of Christianity, since every other review I've seen has given this part a pass (and usually glowing praise). I particularly liked the debunking of Bob's view that Paul was such a great and inclusive founder. Even when I was still a practicing Catholic, I never liked that guy.

I don't know enough about Islam to say, but Jerry's argument against Bob on this matter sounds pretty persuasive.

Overall, a very good critique of Bob's book, it appears. Pity they'll never be able to continue it by diavlog.

uncle ebeneezer
07-27-2009, 06:11 PM
Pity they'll never be able to continue it by diavlog.

Totally. I would love to hear Bob's response. Then again, I'm still waiting for someone who represents the New Atheist movement to show up on bhTv, so I'm not holding my breath.

Me&theboys
07-27-2009, 06:20 PM
Jerry Coyne reviews Bob's book for The New Republic. The title of the article gives away his opinion, Creationism For Liberals. (http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=8874be1e-16db-43db-bda5-17ac7af196d0)

Wow. That was quite a review. Bob will never invite Jerry on now - that would be way too zero-sum.

thprop
07-28-2009, 12:08 AM
This is generally true, but not universally so. For example, there are many symbiotic relationships between different species, in which their respective evolutionary changes have worked both to their own and the other's benefit.

You got some brass ones there, Brendan. I think Jerry Coyne (http://pondside.uchicago.edu/ecol-evol/people/coyne.html) has forgotten more about biology than I ever knew about biology. And you want to quibble with him???? Coyne says natural selection is zero sum - not life itself. If you read WEIT (http://jerrycoyne.uchicago.edu/index.html), he defines natural selection narrowly as one of the processes that drive evolution (which to him is simply changes in allele frequencies).

I am beginning to dislike Coyne. He is such a good writer. Makes me jealous. I am a Chicago alumnus. On one side, we have Paul Nelson and William Dembski who got their Ph.D.s from Chicago. Worse, Demski's is in math - my undergrad major. On the other hand, we have Coyne and Neil Shubin (http://pondside.uchicago.edu/oba/faculty/shubin_n.html) (of Tiktaalik (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/) fame and also a great writer - Your Inner Fish (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/book.html))

Should I hang my head in shame or high with pride - or somewhere in between?

thprop
07-28-2009, 12:21 AM
Where would humans be without our huge collection of beneficial bacteria that have evolved to inhabit our bodies, to our mutual benefit?

A while back, I decided I could no longer be an atheist - but I should believe in the personal god of bacteria - the bacto-god!!! I was talking with a xian who said he could prove to me that there is a god. He immediately launched into a standard circular argument. I stopped him and said that he should just prove the more general case - that there was a personal god (just getting him to define god was hard enough). I said it should be easy because after all it would be easier to prove that the object in the driveway was an automobile then to prove it was a black 2003 Toyota Corolla automobile.

That did not go well. He just kept saying there had to be a cause and I asked him then what caused god? So I finally said let us assume there is a god - how do we know that people are the creatures created in god's image? Why not bacteria? Each of us has something like a trillion of our own cells plus about 10 trillion bacteria. It is obvious that god is a bacto-god and we are here merely as transporters for god's chosen creatures. He asked why did the bacto-god allow humans to discover anti-biotics. I said this was simply more proof of the existence of the bacto-god. They had their very own issue with theodicy!! The bacteria themselves were asking their religious leaders about this great problem to which the religious leaders replied that no one could know the mind of bacto-god - except for matters regarding sex, diet, etc.

He walked away and I have not heard from him since then.

thprop
07-28-2009, 12:28 AM
Totally. I would love to hear Bob's response. Then again, I'm still waiting for someone who represents the New Atheist movement to show up on bhTv, so I'm not holding my breath.

PZ Myers has been on BHtv three times:

Jul 12, 2008
PZ Myers & Abigail Smith
Science Saturday: The Young and the Restless (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/12740)

May 24, 2008
PZ Myers & John Wilkins
Science Saturday: The Queensland-Minnesota Connection
(http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/11305)
Jul 20, 2007
PZ Myers & John Horgan
Science Saturday: Cephalopod-Lovin' Edition (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/311)

I think Bob would invite Jerry Coyne - Coyne will not come on BHtv. (http://brainwaveweb.com/forum/showthread.php?p=115604)

claymisher
07-28-2009, 12:47 AM
Thanks for the links. A good read.

I have some quibbles with what Jerry says. (Disclaimer: I haven't read EOG; I'm basing this on what I know of Bob and from what I've heard him say about his book.)

Here's one. Jerry says (p.3) as part of the build-up to dismissing Bob's fondness for the non-zero thing:



This is generally true, but not universally so. For example, there are many symbiotic relationships between different species, in which their respective evolutionary changes have worked both to their own and the other's benefit. Think of plants developing flowers with distinctive markings and odors, not to mention nectar, that give bees and other insects an added advantage ("treats over here, and only you can easily detect them!") in return for getting their pollen more widely spread. This seems like a nonzero-sum instance of natural selection to me.

This absolutist claim is particularly surprising in light of remarks just above, in which Jerry dismisses the notion that evolution always leads to increased complexity. He's quite right about this, as anyone who's read Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex will agree, but it strikes me as odd that he's eager to point out exceptions to general trends in evolution in one place while ignoring them in another.

Oh, and speaking of parasites, I am reminded of how many times this works out for the best, for both species. Where would humans be without our huge collection of beneficial bacteria (http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/microbes-r-us/) that have evolved to inhabit our bodies, to our mutual benefit?

Here's another (p.4):



There's something to that, but it seems excessive and unfair. Talking about things in terms of possibilities -- i.e., being uncertain about something and admitting it -- is generally an admirable characteristic, indicating honesty, particularly scientific honesty, most often. I grant that there are people who frequently hedge out loud when you know they're convinced inside, but I do not think of Bob in this way.

In fairness to Jerry, he goes on to argue in support of the above claim fairly extensively, and he may be restricting his assessment to what appears in the book only.

Okay, I guess those are the only two quibbles.

I liked the way Jerry argued about Bob's history of Christianity, since every other review I've seen has given this part a pass (and usually glowing praise). I particularly liked the debunking of Bob's view that Paul was such a great and inclusive founder. Even when I was still a practicing Catholic, I never liked that guy.

I don't know enough about Islam to say, but Jerry's argument against Bob on this matter sounds pretty persuasive.

Overall, a very good critique of Bob's book, it appears. Pity they'll never be able to continue it by diavlog.

Nice post. Of course while you were writing that the barricades in the battle against Wingnuttia went unmanned :P

I don't know what to think about the trend toward greater complexity. Obviously ecosystems start out system and get more and more complicated over time -- until some idiot introduces kudzu or the climate changes or some dumb ape paves over everything. Is that punctuated increasing complexity? I'm sure this has been sorted out already.

Another point on the arrow of nature: there are a lot of folks who assume group selection has to exist in order to explain the amount of altruism that's readily evident in nature. They can't make the math work unless there's group selection. But I figure that the instinct to care for your close relatives wasn't formed too precisely -- that because people were mostly around their relatives the algorithm "care about humans and cute things" was close enough to "care about your close relatives." Evolution doesn't guarantee optimality after all. If altruism is more or less a happy error then the inevitable path might not be Bob's happy nonzero world but a highly unaltruistic world, where future humans only care about maximizing the number of offspring. There was a guy in Plotz's book about sperm banks who donated as much as he could in order to win the evolutionary game. That is one grim future.

bjkeefe
07-28-2009, 03:10 AM
You got some brass ones there, Brendan. I think Jerry Coyne (http://pondside.uchicago.edu/ecol-evol/people/coyne.html) has forgotten more about biology than I ever knew about biology. And you want to quibble with him????

Heh. I was aware of that when typing out that bit -- I kept thinking, "Phrase this in the form of a question, you moron, phrase this in the form of a question." But then I forgot.

Coyne says natural selection is zero sum - not life itself. If you read WEIT (http://jerrycoyne.uchicago.edu/index.html), he defines natural selection narrowly as one of the processes that drive evolution (which to him is simply changes in allele frequencies).

Okay, thanks. I'll have to look at that tomorrow (later today) when I have more gas in the tank. I did think it might be a matter of terminology -- another ass-coverer I thought about but forgot to include. No, really!

I am beginning to dislike Coyne. He is such a good writer. Makes me jealous. I am a Chicago alumnus. On one side, we have Paul Nelson and William Dembski who got their Ph.D.s from Chicago. Worse, Demski's is in math - my undergrad major. On the other hand, we have Coyne and Neil Shubin (http://pondside.uchicago.edu/oba/faculty/shubin_n.html) (of Tiktaalik (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/) fame and also a great writer - Your Inner Fish (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/book.html))

Should I hang my head in shame or high with pride - or somewhere in between?

I know what you mean about "dislike." There are probably at least twenty people I want to beat up on a daily basis for the same reason.

I think you should hang your head in pride. Does that help?

So, math undergrad? Nice. Moi aussi. Did you do a grad degree, and was it in biology?

Thanks again for the links.

bjkeefe
07-28-2009, 03:28 AM
[...]

Nice.

bjkeefe
07-28-2009, 03:54 AM
Nice post. Of course while you were writing that the barricades in the battle against Wingnuttia went unmanned :P

Thx! Sry!

I don't know what to think about the trend toward greater complexity. Obviously ecosystems start out system and get more and more complicated over time -- until some idiot introduces kudzu or the climate changes or some dumb ape paves over everything. Is that punctuated increasing complexity? I'm sure this has been sorted out already.

I haven't thought about it deeply. My sense is: "Usually. If things in general aren't too harsh or suddenly different." So, your proposed terminology sounds good to me. (Nelson will probably write a monograph against it, in about 2059 (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=122367#post122367) (planned).)

Another point on the arrow of nature: there are a lot of folks who assume group selection has to exist in order to explain the amount of altruism that's readily evident in nature. They can't make the math work unless there's group selection.

Wow. I know nothing about that, but I'd like to. How do you quantify the amount of altruism, for example? (Beyond a Conway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life)-type level, I mean.)

But I figure that the instinct to care for your close relatives wasn't formed too precisely -- that because people were mostly around their relatives the algorithm "care about humans and cute things" was close enough to "care about your close relatives."

Seems plausible. Maybe you'd just care about "the bunch of people around you most days," against anything strange and new, which might explain why abandoned cubs can usually get adopted by some unrelated female in a group, and then generally accepted by the group after a short while.

Evolution doesn't guarantee optimality after all. If altruism is more or less a happy error then the inevitable path might not be Bob's happy nonzero world but a highly unaltruistic world, where future humans only care about maximizing the number of offspring.

Agree that evolution doesn't optimize and has all sorts of "good enough" and "well, no problem" outcomes. It does seem to me that altruism would have to develop for a species that formed groups to last, though. (Either the species, or the drive -- to form and hang out in groups -- itself.) Otherwise, it seems like humans (or whatever) would really all be like lone wolves. Or like some of the big cats, to be more accurate (I think).

There was a guy in Plotz's book about sperm banks who donated as much as he could in order to win the evolutionary game. That is one grim future.

The new poster boy for some (http://speaklolspeak.com/page/Ur+doin+it+wrong) Internet phrase or another. I mean, I know we're only vessels for our genes, but being that conscious (conscientious?) about it? What a dork.

I'd never have his baby.*

==========
* ('f.b.)

claymisher
07-28-2009, 02:25 PM
[QUOTE=bjkeefe;122403]
Wow. I know nothing about that, but I'd like to. How do you quantify the amount of altruism, for example? (Beyond a Conway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life)-type level, I mean.)

Ok, I just checked, and I'm wrong. The altruism + group selection thing is super complicated. (Some models can explain strong reciprocity without group selection, generally with repeated iteration type game theory.) Based on what I just read it's an active area of inquiry. The people in the thick of it aren't taking sides yet so I won't either.

bjkeefe
07-28-2009, 04:03 PM
Ok, I just checked, and I'm wrong. The altruism + group selection thing is super complicated. (Some models can explain strong reciprocity without group selection, generally with repeated iteration type game theory.) Based on what I just read it's an active area of inquiry. The people in the thick of it aren't taking sides yet so I won't either.

Thanks for checking and the follow-up.

bjkeefe
07-29-2009, 01:53 AM
... this is further proof that Sam Harris is responsible for all of mankind's woes: "Pakistan rescues boys trained as suicide bombers (http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSISL90520)." (via (http://wonkette.com/410132/all-hell-breaks-loose))

ISLAMABAD, July 28 (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces fighting Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley have rescued nearly a dozen boys brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers, according to officials.

A senior security officer in North West Frontier Province said nine boys were found during raids, while two more had voluntarily surrendered, and a army commander in Swat spoke of more being handed over by their families.

"They have been brainwashed in such a way that they even call their parents infidels," Bashir Bilour, senior minister in the provincial government, told Reuters.

Bilour said the boys were shown films about oppression of Muslims in the Palestinian Territories and Indian-held Kashmir, and were given purported religious instructions to convince them that they would go to heaven if they killed enemies of Islam.

Brigadier Tahir Hameed, an officer leading military operations in Mingora, Swat's main town, said the Taliban had forced many families to let them take their boys.

He said some had since returned to their parents, who in turn handed them over to the authorities because of their brainwashed state. The government was working out how to rehabilitate the boys, aged between nine and 18.

The Taliban has regularly claimed responsibility for suicide attacks carried out by boys both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistani security forces have shown Western journalists locations where children were said to have been trained, although there was no independent corroboration available.

thprop
07-31-2009, 09:28 AM
Bob has a weird piece (http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/take-me-to-the-river-or-somewhere-nearby/?ref=opinion)in the New York Times. Jerry Coyne takes him apart.
(http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/robert-wrights-faitheist-manifesto/)

Robert Wright’s faitheist manifesto

A couple of days ago I published a review in The New Republic of Robert Wright’s new book, The Evolution of God. Although Wright claims that he doesn’t believe in God, the book was a very strange attempt to give people “evidence” for divinity in the world, with that divinity manifested as a “transcendent” force that pulls humanity towards every-greater morality. (The increasing morality, which constituted the “evolution of God,” was, says Wright, a byproduct of increasing interaction between peoples, which required them to change their theologies in a more inclusive direction.)

Wright’s effort was intended, I think, to give solace to people longing for assurance of the existence of God (or its euphemism, what he calls “a transcendent source of meaning”); a way to let them know that there was still some divine purpose guiding the world, even if those vociferous and pesky atheists have dispelled the idea of God as a bearded old man who answers prayers. I called the book “chicken soup for the brain” — a way to let people who believe in God still feel smart.

One of my friends, who saw Wright on television talking with Bill Moyers, allowed that Wright may have been affected by his Southern Baptist upbringing, so that, although he says he’s “not qualified” to pass judgment on God’s existence, the scent of faith still clings to him. Many faitheists have had a devoutly religious upbringing, and cannot bear to admit that religion is bunko.

Today Wright has a bizarre essay in The New York Times online confirming that his upbringing produced his faitheistic belief that, whether or not God exists, religion is good for you.

Wright notes that despite rejecting his Baptist upbringing, he still is plagued by guilt and the longing for a sky-father to expiate it.

Which raises the question: If I no longer believe in a personal God, looking down and judging me, why do I still feel guilt over my wrongdoings and shortcomings? Why do I still want some father figure (a God, ideally, though a resurrected version of my dad would do) to pat me on the shoulder and tell me I’ve done O.K. and can now go play golf for a millennium or so? Is godlessness not, in fact, as some born-again atheists seem to promise, a path to happiness? And, anyway, where did this need for forgiveness and affirmation come from?

He suggest natural selection as one explanation, since it may have built the sense of conscience into the human psyche as a way of ensuring harmonious societies. Religion then came along to codify that conscience as an awareness of sin, but also as a way of allowing absolution for that sin. But this isn’t enough for Wright — he wants to think, even if the traditional God doesn’t exist — that the sin-and-absolution cycle is good:

But why, now that El Paso and Christianity are both in the rear view mirror, do I still feel that I could use a born-again experience? Why, if I don’t believe in heaven, do I still want something you could call salvation? . . The sense I got back in El Paso was that salvation wasn’t just about taking the bath and believing in Christ. Sure, that was the technical pre-requisite for getting to heaven. But a thoroughgoing sense of salvation — a sense of being a truly good Christian — depended on, for example, pursuing a “calling,” finding the career path that allows you to do the most good for the world. . .Besides, it’s the sense of sin, the sense of human frailty, the deep Calvinist suspicion of yourself, that can keep the self-dramatization in check. Salvation, at the most abstract level, is the sense that you’re on the right side of the moral law, and the sense of sin is what keeps you not-quite-sure that you are.

There you have it. Yes, you may be ridden with guilt about masturbating, or having sex outside of marriage, or not having gone to Mass, but it’s all good. Religious belief helps us find meaningful jobs! And religion keeps you moral! What better statement of faitheism could there be?

Of course, there’s not the slightest evidence that the religious guilt/absolution cycle keeps us in line or makes us good. (Atheists also seem to have no trouble finding their “calling.”) In fact, as I argue in my essay, there’s plenty of reasons to think the opposite — that those who reject God are just as moral as the faithful. I’ve never seen any of the religion-defenders respond to this statement, though they continue to harp wearyingly on the need for faith as a wellspring of morality.

And, in the end, Wright can’t help claiming once again that religiously based morality is evidence for that “transcendent source of meaning,” his code language for “God.” (If you don’t think they’re equivalent, read the reviewers.)

You can be an atheist and feel that there’s such a thing as right and wrong, and that you’ll try to align your life with this moral axis. In fact, I think you can make a sheerly intellectual, non-faith-based case that there is some such transcendent source of meaning, and even something you could call a moral order “out there.” I even think it’s fair to suspect that there’s a purpose unfolding on this planet, leaving aside the much tougher question of what’s behind the purpose.

But, for my money, there’s nothing quite like the idea that what’s behind that purpose is something that can approve or disapprove of you. It keeps you on your toes, and it keeps your life mattering, even when it’s only a feeling, and no longer a belief.

I ask Wright: if there’s nothing to justify “faith,” but if there’s “transcendent meaning” out there, where does that “meaning” come from? Who’s running the show?

After I read Wright’s book, I was puzzled at the attention he got from intellectuals like Bill Moyers, Andrew Sullivan, and now The New York Times. His book is deeply confused, you don’t have to know much theology to see that his description of religion is tendentious at best, and his argument that the moral advance of society is evidence for God is simply wrong (there are plenty of alternative explanations for that advance). But I am slowly realizing that faitheism runs deep, very deep. Even atheists intellectuals want to pat the faithful on the head: there’s a lot of mileage to be gained by attacking the “new atheists,” even if you share their feelings about God. Indeed, some of the positive reviews of The Evolution of God have come from those who say that it gives believers “relief and intellectual ballast” against athiests.

I’m sorry, but if you are an atheist, it is simply condescending to tell people that their mistaken beliefs — beliefs with which you don’t agree — are just fine because, after all, even if you’re not going to heaven and your prayers aren’t being answered, it’s good for you and the world that you continue to have these mistaken beliefs. It is even more condescending — and cynical — for someone like Wright, who doesn’t accept God, to tell people that there’s “scientific evidence” for a “transcendent source of meaning” out there. If that’s not God, what is it?

Finally, I’d like just one of these faitheists to grapple honestly with the observation that, as the atheist bus slogan says,”You can be good without God.” Entire countries like Sweden and Denmark are atheistic and yet moral — indeed, more moral than the religion-ridden U.S. Doesn’t that tell us that we don’t need religion?

popcorn_karate
07-31-2009, 02:04 PM
A couple observations on Coyne's piece.

Coyne - "And, in the end, Wright can’t help claiming once again that religiously based morality is evidence for that “transcendent source of meaning,” his code language for “God.” (If you don’t think they’re equivalent, read how some reviewers interpreted the book.)"

since he can't actually use what Bob has written to support his case, he has to go find someone's misunderstanding of Bob to use against him. that is truly pathetic and dishonest.





Coyne - "I’m sorry, but if you are an atheist it is simply condescending to tell people that their mistaken beliefs — beliefs with which you don’t agree — are just fine"

yes, it is much better to be a fundamentalist on issues that nobody can know for certain, and persecute those that have different opinions. Certainly, for example, the idea that i could just look the other way and tacitly condone someone that chooses to put olives (the most vile, disgusting fruit on the planet) on a pizza, is just abhorrent.

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 04:32 PM
A couple observations on Coyne's piece.

Coyne - "And, in the end, Wright can’t help claiming once again that religiously based morality is evidence for that “transcendent source of meaning,” his code language for “God.” (If you don’t think they’re equivalent, read how some reviewers interpreted the book.)"

since he can't actually use what Bob has written to support his case, he has to go find someone's misunderstanding of Bob to use against him. that is truly pathetic and dishonest.

Your criticism seems unfair, especially if you read Coyne's preceding paragraphs. He may not be correct to be certain that Bob is speaking in code, but he is bolstering the legitimacy of his guess by indicating how others have heard those words.

I'd also say that Bob seems to have forgotten a fairly fundamental fact about human nature when he says things like this:

If I no longer believe in a personal God, looking down and judging me, why do I still feel guilt over my wrongdoings and shortcomings?

That fact is, of course, that we learn very well, and store very deeply, what we are taught by figures of authority when we are too young to think critically. (This is why we sometimes think of religious indoctrination as child abuse, by the way.) I mean, come on, Bob. You don't need to play the G-card to explain that one. Stop trying to jam every last phenomenon into your book's core thesis.

Coyne - "I’m sorry, but if you are an atheist it is simply condescending to tell people that their mistaken beliefs — beliefs with which you don’t agree — are just fine"

yes, it is much better to be a fundamentalist on issues that nobody can know for certain, and persecute those that have different opinions.

This seems like you're misreading Coyne, somewhat. His complaint (if you read what's around what you've quoted) is with the sort of people who have had the intellectual flexibility to realize for themselves that there is no good evidence to support a belief in God, but nonetheless, think it's a Good Thing for all those other (read: dumber and less in control of their animal natures) people to continue to believe in the very thing which he himself does not. It's basically "do as I say, not as I do" warmed over.

And I really do find it annoying when people glibly toss around the word "fundamentalist" about someone who is only being scrupulous about insisting on a desire for evidence to support a belief. "Persecute" also seems entirely uncalled for here -- Coyne is criticizing Bob's argument, so what? That's what public intellectuals do to each other, every damned day.

Certainly, for example, the idea that i could just look the other way and tacitly condone someone that chooses to put olives (the most vile, disgusting fruit on the planet) on a pizza, is just abhorrent.

First, olives rule. That's just a fact.

Second, pineapple is a much more disgusting fruit, especially when it comes to considering pizza toppings.

Third, after initial revulsion at the very idea, I have ended up liking pineapple on pizza.

Fourth, though not as much as olives.

thprop
07-31-2009, 05:33 PM
First, olives rule. That's just a fact.

Second, pineapple is a much more disgusting fruit, especially when it comes to considering pizza toppings.

Third, after initial revulsion at the very idea, I have ended up liking pineapple on pizza.

Fourth, though not as much as olives.

Olives and/or pineapple on pizza? You are disgusting. You probably even put ketchup on hot dogs.

popcorn_karate
07-31-2009, 06:03 PM
Your criticism seems unfair, especially if you read Coyne's preceding paragraphs. He may not be correct to be certain that Bob is speaking in code, but he is bolstering the legitimacy of his guess by indicating how others have heard those words.

no this is a well justified criticism. If he can't find any evidence in Bob's writing for his charge, and has to go find someone's misunderstanding to make his case, then he probably does not need to make that case.

i think that is how intellectuals are supposed to judge each other's work right? - by actually using their critical faculties on the work in question, not on how someone else has perceived the work in question?

*****

RE: "Coyne - "I’m sorry, but if you are an atheist it is simply condescending to tell people that their mistaken beliefs — beliefs with which you don’t agree — are just fine"

considering that atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, is an unsupported belief - this set me off a little.

And I really do find it annoying when people glibly toss around the word "fundamentalist" about someone who is only being scrupulous about insisting on a desire for evidence to support a belief. "Persecute" also seems entirely uncalled for here -- Coyne is criticizing Bob's argument, so what? That's what public intellectuals do to each other, every damned day.

and being annoyed, I did overstep in the language department. thank you for not responding in kind.


This seems like you're misreading Coyne, somewhat. His complaint (if you read what's around what you've quoted) is with the sort of people who have had the intellectual flexibility to realize for themselves that there is no good evidence to support a belief in God, but nonetheless, think it's a Good Thing for all those other (read: dumber and less in control of their animal natures) people to continue to believe in the very thing which he himself does not. It's basically "do as I say, not as I do" warmed over.

i don't think bob says what you and Coyne ascribe to him.

but i guess i need to go read the damn book before digging in any deeper and possibly needing to retract it later.




First, olives rule. That's just a fact.

Second, pineapple is a much more disgusting fruit, especially when it comes to considering pizza toppings.

Third, after initial revulsion at the very idea, I have ended up liking pineapple on pizza.

Fourth, though not as much as olives.

i really wish i didn't hate olives - freaks put them in every damn thing under the sun.

--oh and i did agree completely about that psychobabble part from bob - enough already!

Ocean
07-31-2009, 06:16 PM
First, olives rule. That's just a fact.

Yes, it is, and well established.

Pizza with olives and pineapple for dessert.

Who is ordering?

Ocean
07-31-2009, 06:18 PM
You probably even put ketchup on hot dogs.

Everybody knows that mayonnaise is the best topping for hot dogs...

uncle ebeneezer
07-31-2009, 06:39 PM
I agree with you on this one PK. Olives are nasty, on anything, in anything, around anything.

I like pineapple on pizza, but I can totally understand why alot of people don't.

AemJeff
07-31-2009, 06:45 PM
I agree with you on this one PK. Olives are nasty, on anything, in anything, around anything.

I like pineapple on pizza, but I can totally understand why alot of people don't.

Count me in the virulently anti-olive camp. Also, except for flour and tomatoes, I want nothing in or on my pizza that didn't come from something that didn't have legs.

uncle ebeneezer
07-31-2009, 07:09 PM
Also, except for flour and tomatoes, I want nothing in or on my pizza that didn't come from something that didn't have legs.

Wow that's like a quadruple negative! except for...nothing...didn't ...didn't. I agree, (I think.)

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 07:09 PM
Olives and/or pineapple on pizza? You are disgusting. You probably even put ketchup on hot dogs.

Blasphemy!

I do put mustard on burgers, though, now more than ever.

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 07:10 PM
Everybody knows that mayonnaise is the best topping for hot dogs...

I'm hard-pressed to think of anything grosser-sounding than that, that doesn't involve cottage cheese.

uncle ebeneezer
07-31-2009, 07:12 PM
The worst is when a place puts mustard on a chili-dog. I mean, it already has chili!!

I like ketchup because I hated mustard as a kid (and part of my family was from Pittsburgh and had lots of love for anything Heinz.) Now I love mustard and put it on lots of stuff.

Ocean
07-31-2009, 07:14 PM
I'm hard-pressed to think of anything grosser-sounding than that, that doesn't involve cottage cheese.

No. It's delicious. And with olives it's even better...

Alternatively, you can have the hot dog wrapped with bacon or ham, covered with mozzarela cheese, melt it in the oven, and then add a couple of olives. Yum!

Not a vegetarian dish though.

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 07:17 PM
no this is a well justified criticism. If he can't find any evidence in Bob's writing for his charge, and has to go find someone's misunderstanding to make his case, then he probably does not need to make that case.

i think that is how intellectuals are supposed to judge each other's work right? - by actually using their critical faculties on the work in question, not on how someone else has perceived the work in question?

Okay, I guess we'll just have to ATD on this one. I think Coyne's reading of Bob's column is at least reasonable, if maybe not as iron-clad certain as he makes it sound.

RE: "Coyne - "I’m sorry, but if you are an atheist it is simply condescending to tell people that their mistaken beliefs — beliefs with which you don’t agree — are just fine"

considering that atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, is an unsupported belief - this set me off a little.

I don't agree that "atheism is a belief." I think it's an absence of belief in a particular thing, for which the atheist has not seen evidence. I will grant that someone who says something like "I am absolutely positive beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God" is expressing a belief, but I'm not sure that's what Coyne thinks. I know that many people, like me, do not say anything about being "absolutely positive;" though we do refer to ourselves as atheists and not agnostics.

but i guess i need to go read the damn book before digging in any deeper and possibly needing to retract it later.

Actually, I thought we were just talking about Bob's NYT piece (although I grant Coyne is drawing on his reading of the book in responding to the article).

i really wish i didn't hate olives - freaks put them in every damn thing under the sun.

FREAK POWER, BABY!

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 07:19 PM
Count me in the virulently anti-olive camp. Also, except for flour and tomatoes, I want nothing in or on my pizza that didn't come from something that didn't have legs.

Why does Jeff hate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic) the Italian people?

AemJeff
07-31-2009, 08:09 PM
Why does Jeff hate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic) the Italian people?

Direct hit! How could I have been such a fool!?

thprop
07-31-2009, 08:31 PM
Everybody knows that mayonnaise is the best topping for hot dogs...

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

And to think I was beginning to have a crush on you.

thprop
07-31-2009, 08:32 PM
No. It's delicious. And with olives it's even better...

Alternatively, you can have the hot dog wrapped with bacon or ham, covered with mozzarela cheese, melt it in the oven, and then add a couple of olives. Yum!

Not a vegetarian dish though.

A congealed mess in which a hot dog has been involved (most likely against its will). But not a hot dog.

thprop
07-31-2009, 08:37 PM
The worst is when a place puts mustard on a chili-dog. I mean, it already has chili!!

I like ketchup because I hated mustard as a kid (and part of my family was from Pittsburgh and had lots of love for anything Heinz.) Now I love mustard and put it on lots of stuff.

You have hot dogs and you have chili. Two very good things. But combining them ruins both.

There is only one way to properly make a hot dog - Chicago style (http://www.viennabeef.com/culture/chicagostyle.asp).


http://www.georgehernandez.com/h/aaBlog/2005/media/12-13_ChicagoViennaHotDog.jpg

Me&theboys
07-31-2009, 08:42 PM
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

And to think I was beginning to have a crush on you.

That looks like one of those subliminal photos where if you look hard enough you can find the word sex written in the veggies.

Oops. Posted in reply to the wrong post. It should have gone after that other one which for some reason I cannot link to.

Ocean
07-31-2009, 08:48 PM
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

And to think I was beginning to have a crush on you.

Can I complete the disappointment by suggesting french fries with mayo? No olives there though. :)

Ocean
07-31-2009, 08:51 PM
A congealed mess in which a hot dog has been involved (most likely against its will). But not a hot dog.

Yes, you're probably right. That's why it's so good.

thprop
07-31-2009, 08:52 PM
Can I complete the disappointment by suggesting french fries with mayo? No olives there though. :)

Time to go sit in my car in a locked garage with the engine running.

claymisher
07-31-2009, 08:56 PM
Even though I have completely conventional taste in hot dogs (only mustard and onions), I absolutely encourage others to experiment in alternative ways of topping hot dogs. A diversity of toppings encourages individual happiness and leads to beneficial innovations (Who knows, maybe mayonnaise and curry hot dogs are delicious?). This diversity is emancipatory, and its recognition and celebration furthers solidarity.

Ocean
07-31-2009, 09:00 PM
Time to go sit in my car in a locked garage with the engine running.


LOL!


But is your reaction somewhat extreme perhaps? Just saying...

thprop
07-31-2009, 09:04 PM
Even though I have completely conventional taste in hot dogs (only mustard and onions), I absolutely encourage others to experiment in alternative ways of topping hot dogs. A diversity of toppings encourages individual happiness and leads to beneficial innovations (Who knows, maybe mayonnaise and curry hot dogs are delicious?). This diversity is emancipatory, and its recognition and celebration furthers solidarity.

While it may be worthwhile to experiment in many areas, there is no need to experiment in hot dogs. Once perfection has been achieved (http://www.viennabeef.com/culture/chicagostyle.asp), just sit back and enjoy it.

Mayonnaise and curry hot dogs????? Seriously. I mean seriously.

thprop
07-31-2009, 09:04 PM
Yes, it is, and well established.

Pizza with olives and pineapple for dessert.

Who is ordering?

Who is contacting the local authorities about a hazard waste incident?

thprop
07-31-2009, 09:16 PM
LOL!


But is your reaction somewhat extreme perhaps? Just saying...

I am very serious about my fast food. Among the best are a Chicago hot dog (aka a garden on a bun), Italian beef (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_beef), stuffed pizza. Well stuffed pizza is not fast food - takes 45 minutes to cook. And note that a stuffed pizza is not the same as a deep dish pizza. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuffed_pizza) I do not like deep dish pizza. Most people in Chicago do not like deep dish pizza. Tourists eat that crap. I also like thin crust pizza - but a lot of the good places have closed.

The best stuffed pizza - the stuffed spinach (http://www.giordanos.com/stuffed.php) at Giordanos.

Ocean
07-31-2009, 09:25 PM
I am very serious about my fast food. Among the best are a Chicago hot dog (aka a garden on a bun), Italian beef (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_beef), stuffed pizza. Well stuffed pizza is not fast food - takes 45 minutes to cook. And note that a stuffed pizza is not the same as a deep dish pizza. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuffed_pizza) I do not like deep dish pizza. Most people in Chicago do not like deep dish pizza. Tourists eat that crap. I also like thin crust pizza - but a lot of the good places have closed.

The best stuffed pizza - the stuffed spinach (http://www.giordanos.com/stuffed.php) at Giordanos.

This thread prompted an urgent snack of broccoli and heart of palms with an "exotic" sauce made with a mix of mayo and ketchup. I must admit it wasn't as delicious as some of the pizzas you are suggesting, but with far fewer calories...

My favorite pizza: thin crust and olives. Sorry I had to mention the terrible ingredient.

Isn't it wonderful that we all like different dishes? It's all about looking at it from the bright side.

uncle ebeneezer
07-31-2009, 10:07 PM
Anyone who doesn't love a chili dog doesn't love America...nay, is actually a member of Al Qaeda. Shame on you!

bjkeefe
07-31-2009, 10:32 PM
A congealed mess in which a hot dog has been involved (most likely against its will). But not a hot dog.

LOL!

claymisher
07-31-2009, 11:32 PM
While it may be worthwhile to experiment in many areas, there is no need to experiment in hot dogs. Once perfection has been achieved (http://www.viennabeef.com/culture/chicagostyle.asp), just sit back and enjoy it.

Mayonnaise and curry hot dogs????? Seriously. I mean seriously.

You and your platonism! Give me the open society!

thprop
07-31-2009, 11:53 PM
Isn't it wonderful that we all like different dishes? It's all about looking at it from the bright side.

It's not wonderful that we like different dishes. I am right, you are wrong. I have good taste, you do not. I was born in this country, Obama was not.

OK - now I am going off the deep end. Time to move to the "bright side." Jerry Garcia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Garcia) would have been 67 tomorrow (August 1). It is Jerry Day (http://jerryday.org/). Here is his version of Van Morrison's "Bright Side of the Road (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKzWsreOcfM)."

Shakira's version (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8463m_shakira-bright-side-of-the-road-oba_music) at an Inaugural Ball.

And Van Morrison (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6106337077691231996&ei=6rxzSq-5O5yyqQKBtcCYCQ&q=%22bright+side+of+the+road%22+garcia&emb=1) himself.

thprop
07-31-2009, 11:55 PM
You and your platonism! Give me the open society!
Somehow all this got started with BJ saying he liked olives on pizza. Can you draw a schematic diagram of how we got to Platonism?

claymisher
08-01-2009, 12:07 AM
Somehow all this got started with BJ saying he liked olives on pizza. Can you draw a schematic diagram of how we got to Platonism?

Simple! When you wrote "perfection has been achieved" you were defining the ideal hot dog. I'm unwilling to close off avenues to future, better hot dogs, so I resist your assessment of perfection.

bjkeefe
08-01-2009, 12:19 AM
Somehow all this got started with BJ saying he liked olives on pizza. Can you draw a schematic diagram of how we got to Platonism?

Simple! When you wrote "perfection has been achieved" you were defining the ideal hot dog. I'm unwilling to close off avenues to future, better hot dogs, so I resist your assessment of perfection.

All we need now is for Francoamerican to jump in to tell us what Rousseau's favorite way to eat sausages was, and by the way, how liking hot dogs proves that Americans are inherently inferior.

thprop
08-01-2009, 12:25 AM
Simple! When you wrote "perfection has been achieved" you were defining the ideal hot dog. I'm unwilling to close off avenues to future, better hot dogs, so I resist your assessment of perfection.

You only went from Platonism to hot dogs! Keep going and get us all the way back to pizza with olives - or even earlier - to Bob's book. And maybe even all the weird side trips - like mayo on french fries.

Maybe Conan will have William Shatner on the Tonight Show to recite some of the posts. Although I don't think any of them were as weird as Sarah Palin's speech (http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/video/clips/shatner-does-palin-072709/1139665/) or tweets (http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/video/clips/shatner-reads-palins-tweets-072909/1140351/).

claymisher
08-01-2009, 12:50 AM
All we need now is for Francoamerican to jump in to tell us what Rousseau's favorite way to eat sausages was, and by the way, how liking hot dogs proves that Americans are inherently inferior.

Let's go to the source! What does Rousseau say about the quality of the French palate? The answer may surprise you:

Moreover the grown man has already a settled profession, occupation, and home, but who can tell what fortune holds in store for the child? In everything let us not give him such a determined form that it will cost him too much to change it if needed. Do not bring him up so that he would die of hunger in a foreign land if he doesn't bring a French cook along with him, nor that he someday says that only in France do people know how to eat (http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/pedagogies/rousseau/em_eng_bk2.html#508). By the way, that is a strange way of praising one's country. For myself, I would say on the contrary that the French are the only people who do not know what good food is, since they require such a special art to make their dishes edible.

In other words, don't get used to the perfect hot dog, or you'll starve without it!

Oh yeah, and like me, he'd go for the veggie dog (http://www.animalrightshistory.org/timeline-enlightenment/rou-jean-jacques-rousseau.htm).

claymisher
08-01-2009, 12:52 AM
You only went from Platonism to hot dogs! Keep going and get us all the way back to pizza with olives - or even earlier - to Bob's book. And maybe even all the weird side trips - like mayo on french fries.

Maybe Conan will have William Shatner on the Tonight Show to recite some of the posts. Although I don't think any of them were as weird as Sarah Palin's speech (http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/video/clips/shatner-does-palin-072709/1139665/) or tweets (http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/video/clips/shatner-reads-palins-tweets-072909/1140351/).

I'm not going to do your homework for you! I just jumped into the middle of the hot dog discussion. I thought Bob and Joel's discussion was worth about half of one of Ezra Klein's posts.

bjkeefe
08-01-2009, 03:33 AM
Let's go to the source! What does Rousseau say about the quality of the French palate? The answer may surprise you: [...]

Outstanding!

SherrieN
08-03-2009, 03:18 PM
Hi everyone. New member here. Jerry, are you a scientist or medical? Your questions come to neurology, thinking pathways that are familiar, well established, release chemicals and create feelings. Does anyone here follow the results from the newer brain scanning capabilities?

The good news is that we continually can develop new brain pathways. Sharing human experience helps including finding new ways to build community to reinforce those experiences. Has anyone considered the importance of holidays, celebrations, school schedules?

The fact that in the Bible after creation was completed the character with the lead role at the beginning of the book put his creation to work, with an order. Has anyone thought about the work of assigning names to every living thing? All but enldlessly tedious. There is more yet with no evidence to support this story beyond our own existence it becomes ludicrous to keep teaching it without critical analysis and reinforcing it throughout our country. Believing because of human need is insufficient, certainly not scientific as it is impossible to have independent repetition of the original events.

Life is about sharing and human relationship once basic survival is managed. teaching this would be a decent approach. Since it is in our own individual self-interest to increase our relationships in numbers and quality more often than not perhaps we are the ones who have evolved, not someone created in the pages of a book. Our origin may forever remain unknown. Yet we may have responsibilities, enemies and beings beyond ourselves all in need of our attention. Honesty is actually kind so while this discussion continues spreading the dialog is my reason for entering the conversation here. Hot dogs aside(and maybe included!) the ideas here are very interesting.

stephanie
08-03-2009, 03:51 PM
Olives and/or pineapple on pizza? You are disgusting. You probably even put ketchup on hot dogs.

Jumping in late, but my favorite local thin-crust pizza delivery place has a pizza with olives and pineapple. (Also canadian bacon.) It's good. Not as good as the greek-style one, with olives, feta, and red onions, but a nice alternative.

Stuffed pizza is best with just spinach, though. Maybe mushrooms and olives (I adore olives). No meat.

French fries with mayonnaise is just wrong, and the only positive thing I'll say about mayonnaise is that at least it's not Miracle Whip. French fries with aioli, though, yum.

Ocean
08-03-2009, 09:02 PM
Jumping in late, but my favorite local thin-crust pizza delivery place has a pizza with olives and pineapple. (Also canadian bacon.) It's good. Not as good as the greek-style one, with olives, feta, and red onions, but a nice alternative.

Stuffed pizza is best with just spinach, though. Maybe mushrooms and olives (I adore olives). No meat.

French fries with mayonnaise is just wrong, and the only positive thing I'll say about mayonnaise is that at least it's not Miracle Whip. French fries with aioli, though, yum.

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for joining the Great Olive Club!

As to French fries with mayonnaise, perhaps we should go to the origins:


Culinary origin
Belgium
Belgian historian Jo Gerard recounts that potatoes were already fried in 1680 in the Spanish Netherlands, in the area of "the Meuse valley between Dinant and Liège, Belgium. The poor inhabitants of this region allegedly had the custom of accompanying their meals with small fried fish, but when the river was frozen and they were unable to fish, they cut potatoes lengthwise and fried them in oil to accompany their meals."[12][13][14][15]
………………………………………………………………………………………………………

A notorious Belgian tradition is putting mayonnaise on fries, although a typical frietkot will offer dozens of other sauces. Some claim the typical American ketchup/fries pairing is a variation of mayo/fries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_fries

Not that anyone would necessarily care about culinary history, but it's always worth trying. :)

AemJeff
08-03-2009, 09:15 PM
Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for joining the Great Olive Club!

As to French fries with mayonnaise, perhaps we should go to the origins:




Not that anyone would necessarily care about culinary history, but it's always worth trying. :)

The first time I saw someone eating fries with mayo, it was a friend who had just returned from Amsterdam and learned ti do it there. (I was disgusted by the thought until I tried it, btw - Delicious!) Finding out it was originally a Belgian innovation seems to make sense to me.

Ocean
08-03-2009, 09:27 PM
The first time I saw someone eating fries with mayo, it was a friend who had just returned from Amsterdam and learned ti do it there. (I was disgusted by the thought until I tried it, btw - Delicious!) Finding out it was originally a Belgian innovation seems to make sense to me.

Great! I had no idea about the origin of this particular combination until a colleague from Germany saw me eating french fries with mayo and mentioned that it was common in certain parts of Europe.

The most delicious combination is fries with home made mayonnnaise, with the deepest flavored olive oil!

claymisher
08-03-2009, 10:55 PM
Great! I had no idea about the origin of this particular combination until a colleague from Germany saw me eating french fries with mayo and mentioned that it was common in certain parts of Europe.

The most delicious combination is fries with home made mayonnnaise, with the deepest flavored olive oil!

Oh yeah, in Flanders you can get frites with a dozen different kinds of mayo. You can't beat it.

stephanie
08-04-2009, 12:27 PM
Oh yeah, in Flanders you can get frites with a dozen different kinds of mayo. You can't beat it.

The place I've had fries with aioli was a Belgian place, where they are paired with mussels. I'm not questioning the authenticity, I just dislike mayonnaise.

thprop
08-04-2009, 01:20 PM
(Also canadian bacon.)
I remember hearing this somewhere -
Q: What do Canadians called Canadian bacon?
A: Ham.

In Poland, or at Polish delis everywhere, that cut of the pig is called polędwica.


Stuffed pizza is best with just spinach, though. Maybe mushrooms and olives (I adore olives). No meat.

You can get a stuffed spinach pizza by FedEx from Giordanos. (http://www.giordanos.com/main.php) I am not sure if the will put any other ingredients in the stuffed spinach pizza. It is perfect and should not be harmed in any way. (I hear Claymisher objecting to Platonism (http://brainwaveweb.com/forum/showthread.php?p=123064#post123064) and clamoring for the open society.)

French fries with mayonnaise is just wrong, and the only positive thing I'll say about mayonnaise is that at least it's not Miracle Whip. French fries with aioli, though, yum.

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

Ocean had almost caused me to lose all hope (http://brainwaveweb.com/forum/showthread.php?p=123018#post123018)for the women of the BHtv forum. Stephanie has restored it!!!!!

Garlic and olive oil are good with anything - or just by themselves.

graz
08-04-2009, 01:36 PM
Ocean had almost caused me to lose all hope (http://brainwaveweb.com/forum/showthread.php?p=123018#post123018)for the women of the BHtv forum. Stephanie has restored it!!!!!


Originally Posted by stephanie:
French fries with mayonnaise is just wrong, and the only positive thing I'll say about mayonnaise is that at least it's not Miracle Whip. French fries with aioli, though, yum.

Garlic and olive oil are good with anything - or just by themselves.
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

What all is the difference between mayo and aioli, other than garlic?
Fat(olive oil), eggs, acid and flavorings.

bjkeefe
08-04-2009, 01:58 PM
What all is the difference between mayo and aioli, other than garlic?
Fat(olive oil), eggs, acid and flavorings.

Same thing as makes people willing to pay $20 for an entrée of nouille et fromage en casserole right after telling you, "I haven't had macaroni and cheese since I was a starving student. I hate that stuff."

(h/t: E. L. Konigsburg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_the_Mixed-Up_Files_of_Mrs._Basil_E._Frankweiler))

stephanie
08-04-2009, 02:12 PM
What all is the difference between mayo and aioli, other than garlic?
Fat(olive oil), eggs, acid and flavorings.

You've answered your own question (garlic).

Well, that and the fact that home-made mayo generally is better than the nasty jarred stuff and the aioli I've had tends to thus be more like that (plus garlic!) than akin to Hellman's.

And I like mac & cheese just fine with the American name, but that doesn't mean that my homemade mac & cheese isn't preferable to Kraft's orange stuff.

bjkeefe
08-04-2009, 03:04 PM
And I like mac & cheese just fine with the American name, but that doesn't mean that my homemade mac & cheese isn't preferable to Kraft's orange stuff.

You deserve a wedgie for excessive literalism.

;^)

Ocean
08-04-2009, 08:12 PM
Ocean had almost caused me to lose all hope for the women of the BHtv forum.

First, don't lose hope so easily.

Second, if you do lose hope, don't blame me.

Third, one of these days we'll have to have a word or two...


Stephanie has restored it!!!!!

Congratulations! :)

Ocean
08-04-2009, 08:15 PM
What all is the difference between mayo and aioli, other than garlic?
Fat(olive oil), eggs, acid and flavorings.

Thank you, graz. I'll interpret your comment as your loyal support.

graz
08-04-2009, 08:49 PM
Indubitably.

thprop
08-05-2009, 12:20 PM
First, don't lose hope so easily.

Second, if you do lose hope, don't blame me.

Third, one of these days we'll have to have a word or two...



I think I am in trouble. I should not have gotten involved in this food fight.

Maybe I will try some fries with mayo as a peace offering. :o

Ocean
08-05-2009, 06:18 PM
I think I am in trouble. I should not have gotten involved in this food fight.

Maybe I will try some fries with mayo as a peace offering. :o

LOL!

You don't have to.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 04:19 PM
here is the bob wright/john mark reynolds interview (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?RadioShowID=5&ContentGuid=2db58523-c9f7-4e63-8bd9-68c0107f3222) on the hugh hewitt web site. Have not listened yet. Is three separate podcasts, each about 35 mins or so long.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 07:02 PM
That was painful to listen to. I don't know what on earth possessed Bob to bother with it. Bob should have known what was in store for him when he agreed to a debate with the kind of person who concludes with the statement, "I'd change my mind if you were right, but Christianity is just true." Bob would have been much better off spending 3 hours debating Jerry Coyne. Lesson learned: don't debate with christian philosophers who are more interested in fencing with words and scoring points than in having a real conversation.

And what is up with Biola University? Some credential for someone who wishes to denigrate Daniel Dennet, as Reynolds seems bent upon doing. Here's a description of the philosophy program at Biola:

"What will I study?
The Undergraduate Philosophy Department seeks to promote a community of Christian scholars dedicated to progress in the love of wisdom in both its theoretical and its practical aspects."

And here's Social Science:
"The mission of the department of History, Government, and Social Science is to foster a community of learners who, as lovers of truth, study history, political science, and geography. In recognition of both the dignity and depravity of humankind, our aim is to develop insight into past and present civilizations based upon our acknowledgement of God's providence, the dependability of his promises, and his redemptive purpose on earth. Through the rigors of our disciplines, we prepare our students to influence and transform the world for Jesus Christ through their lives and vocations in obedience to the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission."

Here's Anthrolopogy:
"The Anthropology major seeks to provide a holistic understanding of the diversity of human behavior across time, geography and culture through a distinctly Christian worldview. There are two primary objectives of the program at Biola.
First, the program provides students with a solid foundation of the central theoretical concepts in the discipline while providing opportunities to concentrate in one of the sub-disciplines—socio-cultural, linguistic and physical anthropology and archaeology.
Second, the program provides students with the practical tools, through an emphasis on field research, to actively bridge cultural differences in order to effectively share the good news of the Gospel and holistically address human problems such as injustice and the effects of globalization on populations around the world."

As to Reynolds' claim that Plantinga is someone whom Bob should have consulted when writing his book, PZ Myers is clear on what he thinks about Plantinga (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/alvin_plantinga_gives_philosop.php).

bjkeefe
08-12-2009, 07:12 PM
That was painful to listen to.

I gave up right away, when Bob started by (and no one could have predicted this) bashing the "New Atheists."

Thanks for the report, though.

bjkeefe
08-12-2009, 07:16 PM
As to Reynolds' claim that Plantinga is someone whom Bob should have consulted when writing his book, PZ Myers is clear on what he thinks about Plantinga (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/alvin_plantinga_gives_philosop.php).

Oh, and speaking of creationists, did you hear the latest out of Oklahoma (http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=25368) (Motto: "Inhofe is not our craziest politician, not by a long shot!")?

graz
08-12-2009, 07:26 PM
Bob would have been much better off spending 3 hours debating Jerry Coyne. Lesson learned: don't debate with christian philosophers who are more interested in fencing with words and scoring points than in having a real conversation.


The lesson is apparently lost on Bob.

Dear Bob,
You read the comments on this site, right?
What is the hold-up?

Your site supporters await a genuine reply to the likes of Coyne.
I believe that your conscience must be at odds with your determined effort to kiss-up to the kindly christian crowd.

It must really have sucked that they barely gave you credit for dissing the new atheists?

Good luck with the sales though. At least Mickey has the decency to not call you on your selective shilling.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 07:45 PM
Oh, and speaking of creationists, did you hear the latest out of Oklahoma (http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=25368) (Motto: "Inhofe is not our craziest politician, not by a long shot!")?

Great. Not sure why the zoo animals themselves are not considered by creationists to be adequate displays of creationism. Not to mention the zoo patrons themselves. Asking for more than that is just downright greedy.

claymisher
08-12-2009, 07:48 PM
here is the bob wright/john mark reynolds interview (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?RadioShowID=5&ContentGuid=2db58523-c9f7-4e63-8bd9-68c0107f3222) on the hugh hewitt web site. Have not listened yet. Is three separate podcasts, each about 35 mins or so long.

Did I read that correctly? Hugh Hewitt?

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 07:51 PM
Did I read that correctly? Hugh Hewitt?
yep. i've never listened to the guy before, nor will I again.

claymisher
08-12-2009, 07:53 PM
yep. i've never listened to the guy before, nor will I again.

Shit, does Ann Coulter have a show Bob can go on too?

bjkeefe
08-12-2009, 08:03 PM
yep. i've never listened to the guy before, nor will I again.

You missed HH when he was on Bh.tv (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/13962)?

[Added] Thread here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=2078), to save you a trip.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 08:16 PM
Shit, does Ann Coulter have a show Bob can go on too?
This was no Andrew Sullivan non-zero-sum love fest. Bob was up against the Orthodox Christians, whatever they are, and he got pretty beaten up in this debate (more like a haranguing than a debate) so maybe he'll reconsider the "be nice to people with irrational beliefs" approach. He may even reconsider the viability of his non-zero-sum dream for a global theism. Reynolds explicitly stated that he believes Buddhists are going to hell (apparently because it is better for them since being with God would be too painful for them????. Eternal punishment in the name of loving kindness - how sick is that?). It was definitely an encounter with the zero sumness of organized religion. They are right and Bob is wrong and its them or him. Poor Bob. There's nowhere to hide.

claymisher
08-12-2009, 08:19 PM
This was no Andrew Sullivan non-zero-sum love fest. Bob was up against the Orthodox Christians, whatever they are, and he got pretty beaten up in this debate (more like a haranguing than a debate) so maybe he'll reconsider the "be nice to people with irrational beliefs" approach. He may even reconsider the viability of his non-zero-sum dream for a global theism. Reynolds explicitly stated that he believes Buddhists are going to hell (apparently because it is better for them since being with God would be too painful for them????. Eternal punishment in the name of loving kindness - how sick is that?). It was definitely an encounter with the zero sumness of organized religion. They are right and Bob is wrong and its them or him. Poor Bob. There's nowhere to hide.

You make it sound entertaining. Now I have to give it a go!

btw, I'm still slogging my way through "The Evolution of God." I blame the big print for my slow progress.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 08:19 PM
You missed HH when he was on Bh.tv (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/13962)?

[Added] Thread here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=2078), to save you a trip.

I did miss that. Thanks for the link. I've had enough of orthodox christianity for one day - will watch tomorrow. My guess is that Bob was kinder to Hugh in this diavlog than Hugh was to Bob in his radio interview.

bjkeefe
08-12-2009, 08:23 PM
You make it sound entertaining. Now I have to give it a go!

LOL! I was just thinking that. Excellent reverse pyschology, Me&!

claymisher
08-12-2009, 08:27 PM
LOL! I was just thinking that. Excellent reverse pyschology, Me&!

Yikes, three 35 minute segments. Hrm.

Me&theboys
08-12-2009, 08:32 PM
LOL! I was just thinking that. Excellent reverse pyschology, Me&!

Well, I didn't want y'all to get the impression that this was Bob among the friendlies. Definitely not the case. He's taking hits from all sides. I will say that entertaining is not the word I'd use, other than maybe in the gladiatorial sense.

Simon Willard
08-13-2009, 11:22 AM
Your site supporters await a genuine reply to the likes of Coyne.
Graz, Bob has a formal reply to Coyne here: http://evolutionofgod.net/coyne

I believe that your conscience must be at odds with your determined effort to kiss-up to the kindly christian crowd.

Kindly? Graz, I don't understand you.

I believe Bob's conscience requires him to test himself against a variety of audiences, both sympathetic and hostile, and I admire that behavior. Bob won't sway Hugh Hewitt, but it's a broadcast. I'm sure you'll agree that the Christian crowd needs to be exposed to these ideas as much as the Hitchens/Dawkins crowd.

I can't speak for Bob, but I'm guessing he has faith that there are individuals out there, just a few, who are willing to think outside the crowd.

popcorn_karate
08-13-2009, 11:45 AM
oooohhh!

ok, i was going to skip it, but you got me hooked now.
; )

graz
08-13-2009, 01:00 PM
I'm sorry to allow my snark to overwhelm my underlying point.
I don't think Bob's reply to Coyne goes far enough. Perhaps when time allows, he will provide full and considered responses to Coyne as well as his most thorough critics here, such as bloggin, me and the boys, etc...
It is less a matter of delivering a message to diverse audiences than acknowlegement of the glaring inconsistencies brought to light here on his own site.
Although I would imagine that his publisher might consider us as a tapped out market.
IMHO Bob is valuable resource, a public intellectual, who would better serve his worth by defending his ideas, rather than shilling at the expense of concision and accountability.
Call me selfish... It's in my genes.

uncle ebeneezer
08-13-2009, 02:55 PM
Call me selfish... It's in my genes.

Nice.

I really wish Bob would have one of his critics on bhTv for a showdown. Not so much for the gladatorial aspect, but because I still am confused with what his point about God is. Granted, I haven't read the book yet (as soon as I get a job that's gonna be first on my to-do list).

What I gather from the reviews, excerpts, comments by Me&, THeProp etc. and Bob's responses to critics is this: non-zero sumness causes all inter-relational processes to work within a basic guideline that leads to a certain directional progress. As religion is ultimately something that affects our neighbors, as well as ourselves, religion will operate under these guidelines and one can expect a certain "evolution" of principles and behavior over time. A form of conceptual (and political) natural selection for faith. Bob argues that the Abrahamic faiths show evidence of this. In addition to that, Bob believes that while the world is materialistic, this directional element could make a person believe in some sort of purpose behind it all, ie- a deistic God.

I would also love Bob to have a critic on because, as his response to Coyne shows, he's pretty good at defending his point and/or clarifying them. I gotta say that the rebuttal to Coyne reminded me of how much I love Bob's writing style and has lit a fire under me to read the book as soon as it's feasible.

Me&theboys
08-13-2009, 05:42 PM
Nice.

I really wish Bob would have one of his critics on bhTv for a showdown. Not so much for the gladatorial aspect, but because I still am confused with what his point about God is. Granted, I haven't read the book yet (as soon as I get a job that's gonna be first on my to-do list).

I would also love Bob to have a critic on because, as his response to Coyne shows, he's pretty good at defending his point and/or clarifying them. I gotta say that the rebuttal to Coyne reminded me of how much I love Bob's writing style and has lit a fire under me to read the book as soon as it's feasible.

Surely Bob has an extra author copy sitting around that he could send to one of his longtime loyal bhtv followers. Bob, you there? I checked the Los Angeles Public Library (http://catalog1.lapl.org/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+7043+-1+3+0) for you, but it appears all copies are checked out. If you send me your address (or a POBox or a friend's work address or whatever), I'll have Amazon send you a copy on me. In appreciation for all your excellent posts over the years. Really. I'd send you my copy, but all the pages are covered with %&*$@&#^!*# marks. And I've already burnt it. (just kidding)

Simon Willard
08-13-2009, 06:29 PM
I really wish Bob would have one of his critics on bhTv for a showdown. Not so much for the gladatorial aspect, but because I still am confused with what his point about God is. ... What I gather from the reviews, excerpts, comments by Me&, THeProp etc. and Bob's responses to critics is this: non-zero sumness causes all inter-relational processes to work within a basic guideline that leads to a certain directional progress. ... I gotta say that the rebuttal to Coyne reminded me of how much I love Bob's writing style ...

This thread would be a fine place to discuss this. When I read the posts above, I don't get much insight about the criticism of EOG, just a lot of snarks. I felt Bob poked enough holes in Coyne that I can't really take his review very seriously. I'm not sure I can answer your question about Bob's point, but maybe we can get some Bob-critics to say more than 'religion is just irrational'.

Me&theboys
08-13-2009, 06:47 PM
This thread would be a fine place to discuss this. When I read the posts above, I don't get much insight about the criticism of EOG, just a lot of snarks. I felt Bob poked enough holes in Coyne that I can't really take his review very seriously. I'm not sure I can answer your question about Bob's point, but maybe we can get some Bob-critics to say more than 'religion is just irrational'.

Simon - most of the comments about the book are not in this thread. Most of mine are here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=3199), which is Bob monovlog (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/20188) related to his book and also titled Evolution of God. My comments are not of the "religion is just irrational' type. Others are in the Godapalooza diavlog between Ann Althouse and Bob, others are in the diavlog between Bob and Tyler Cowen. Still others are in the diavlog between Bob and John Horgan. Not sure where the ones from Bloggin Noggin are, but you could find them pretty easily by looking at the list of his posts. He commented on the book maybe a month or two ago.

Simon Willard
08-13-2009, 07:41 PM
Simon - most of the comments about the book are not in this thread. Most of mine are here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=3199), which is Bob monovlog (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/20188) related to his book and also titled Evolution of God. My comments are not of the "religion is just irrational' type. Others are in the Godapalooza diavlog between Ann Althouse and Bob, others are in the diavlog between Bob and Tyler Cowen. Still others are in the diavlog between Bob and John Horgan. Not sure where the ones from Bloggin Noggin are, but you could find them pretty easily by looking at the list of his posts. He commented on the book maybe a month or two ago.

Hey thanks Me&! I missed seeing that monovlog.

claymisher
08-13-2009, 09:10 PM
Must credit claymisher!!!!111!!!##!!!1

The Jamestown Foundation reports that Algeria is promoting Sufism as a counterweight to Salafism:

"This turnaround in the official approach to Islam in Algeria was highly visible in a week-long Alawi Sufi festival held in Mostaganem in July (Mostaganem is 250 km west of Algiers, well distant from the strongholds of the Salafist militants in eastern Algeria). Organizers said the event was dedicated to “encouraging people to return to traditional Islam, the Islam of tolerance and open-mindedness” (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, July 28). One speaker noted that there are more than 170 verses in the Quran that describe the strategic value of tolerance and reconciliation for Muslims. Some 5,000 Alawi adherents from Europe, North Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East assembled at the gathering, which enjoyed the personal sponsorship of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika."

http://bjulrich.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html#2987096834407214176

uncle ebeneezer
08-13-2009, 10:35 PM
I would probably have trouble reading between all of your red-pen marks ;-)!!

No worries, I'll get it soon. I don't mind supporting my favorite authors.

claymisher
08-13-2009, 10:57 PM
I would probably have trouble reading between all of your red-pen marks ;-)!!

No worries, I'll get it soon. I don't mind supporting my favorite authors.

There's a typographic rule that you should never use italicizing, underlining, or bolding in combination -- only one at a time. It drives me crazy when people violate that. I thought it was funnier to combine them. :)

Seriously though, doesn't that sound exactly like Bob? What's Arabic for "nonzero?"

bjkeefe
08-19-2009, 04:14 PM
Did anyone else watch this last night?

I don't see a link to the individual segment, but here is one to the whole show (http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/full-episodes/index.jhtml?episodeId=240771). The interview starts at about 15:55, if you don't want to watch the opening segments.

graz
08-19-2009, 04:16 PM
I saw it and wasn't particularly impressed. Bob seemed tired, although as an "insider" I guessed it was due to back pain.

bjkeefe
08-19-2009, 04:21 PM
I saw it and wasn't particularly impressed. Bob seemed tired, although as an "insider" I guessed it was due to back pain.

I did have some of that same reaction. I do know that guests on the CR are instructed "don't try to be funny, just play it straight," and I wonder if Bob took that advice too much to heart. Given how good he is at bantering with, say, Mickey and Joel Achenbach, I thought it was too bad that he seemed to stick so determinedly to his elevator pitch for the book.

However, it was probably worth doing just for the exposure. I would guess the way Stephen ('s character) reacted will cause the book to appeal to some in his audience who probably hadn't heard of it before.

AemJeff
08-19-2009, 04:23 PM
I did have some of that same reaction. I do know that guests on the CR are instructed "don't try to be funny, just play it straight," and I wonder if Bob took that advice too much to heart. Given how good he is at bantering with, say, Mickey and Joel Achenbach, I thought it was too bad that he seemed to stick so determinedly to his elevator pitch for the book.

There's more at stake and he's out of his comfort zone, I think.

graz
08-19-2009, 04:27 PM
Yes. Credit to Bob for writing a book good enough to make the cut.
And his chemistry with Colbert didn't rise to comedy, but it was professional and likely to spark further sales.

Simon Willard
08-19-2009, 05:00 PM
I would guess the way Stephen ('s character) reacted will cause the book to appeal to some in his audience who probably hadn't heard of it before.

Colbert's summary: "I'll pray for you".

Me&theboys
08-19-2009, 06:07 PM
Did anyone else watch this last night?

I don't see a link to the individual segment, but here is one to the whole show (http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/full-episodes/index.jhtml?episodeId=240771). The interview starts at about 15:55, if you don't want to watch the opening segments.

Thanks for the link. I'm going to have to remember to use this: "We're getting off track by you being wrong."

bjkeefe
08-19-2009, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the link. I'm going to have to remember to use this: "We're getting off track by you being wrong."

LOL! Yeah, that was a good one.

bjkeefe
08-23-2009, 06:21 PM
Bob has a longish op-ed in this weekend's NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23wright.html?pagewanted=all), which begins as follows:

A Grand Bargain Over Evolution

The “war” between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides. Most scientists and most religious believers refuse to be drafted into the fight. Whether out of a live-and-let-live philosophy, or a belief that religion and science are actually compatible, or a heartfelt indifference to the question, they’re choosing to sit this one out.

Still, the war continues, and it’s not just a sideshow. There are intensely motivated and vocal people on both sides making serious and conflicting claims.

There are atheists who go beyond declaring personal disbelief in God and insist that any form of god-talk, any notion of higher purpose, is incompatible with a scientific worldview. And there are religious believers who insist that evolution can’t fully account for the creation of human beings.

I bring good news! These two warring groups have more in common than they realize. And, no, it isn’t just that they’re both wrong. It’s that they’re wrong for the same reason.

[Added] Minor language note: At one point, he writes engrained instead of ingrained:

... talk of “higher purpose” is not just compatible with science, but engrained in it.

I wonder if this was a conscious decision, and if so, if there's a difference in his mind.

claymisher
08-23-2009, 06:34 PM
The “war” between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides.

Do you think he meant "conscientious objectors?

bjkeefe
08-23-2009, 06:40 PM
The “war” between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides.
Do you think he meant "conscientious objectors?

Heh. And also, I'm sure he was really thinking "uncivil," especially on his own site.

claymisher
08-23-2009, 06:54 PM
Heh. And also, I'm sure he was really thinking "uncivil," especially on his own site.

"Conscientious objectors" makes sense. I don't understand how "civil disobedience" works in the metaphor.

bjkeefe
08-23-2009, 07:08 PM
"Conscientious objectors" makes sense. I don't understand how "civil disobedience" works in the metaphor.

Perhaps Bob was thinking of things like Jerry Coyne's boycott of this site, due to its affiliation with the Templeton Foundation. Or the way people choose to homeschool their kids, to keep them away from "Darwinism" at the public school. Or the way some people won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, due to the "under God" part.

Me&theboys
08-24-2009, 10:07 AM
Bob has a longish op-ed in this weekend's NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23wright.html?pagewanted=all), which begins as follows:
[Added] Minor language note: At one point, he writes engrained instead of ingrained:
I wonder if this was a conscious decision, and if so, if there's a difference in his mind.
Have not read this yet - makes me too irrirated. Listening to/reading Bob is starting to bring back bad memories of idiotic Sunday sermons where the same syrupy pablum gets doled out each week, leavened with a healthy dose of hypocrisy and myopia. Whatever gets you thru the night.

Bob's off on a meditation retreat (http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/self-meditating/?scp=1&sq=robert%20wright%20meditation&st=cse)this week to redevelop his affinity for weeds and lizards and strangers. This piece reminds me of that awful book, Eat, Pray, Love. Personally, I've always liked quite a few weeds and have tried to cultivate them from time to time - after all, weeds are just plants growing where you don't want them. Most southerner gardners have made peace with weeds. In some parts of Texas, the choice is between growing weeds and growing nothing. And lizards are quite cute - we have chameleons all over our yard and they seem almost pet like - in the sense that a turtle or a fish seems almost pet like. And talking to strangers is something we southerners go out of our way to do. Bob sounds as if he has been living in a Bob-world bubble. If he wants to be a kinder, gentler person more in touch with the divine, maybe he should move to the South. There are certainly more people ready to appreciate a good sermon and some atheist bashing down here.

uncle ebeneezer
08-24-2009, 03:00 PM
I haven't read the op-ed yet, but I did come across a thought last night while tossing and turning in a ball of sleep-deprived stress. So, to paraphrase, Bob's argument (as I have posited before) seems to be that evidence of moral progress that includes religion means that believing in a creator is not totally crazy. Right? He hedges on it but basically says "well it's not completely out of the question" and asserts that he bases his opinion on direction/purpose/moral progress etc. I finally figured out why this doesn't wash for me. This line of reasoning operates that there is some sort of observable relation between purpose/progress etc. and the existence of a supernatural entity. But we have no data set to look at except for the one that we are applying this conclusion to (the observable Universe.) It's not like we can go back over several examples and say:

First Example: purpose? check, god? check,
Next Example: purpose? no, god? no, etc. etc.
(then looking at our universe): purpose, check (for the sake of argument) and then make an assessment of the craziness of believing in God.

There is no proven relationship between the two to say that: as purpose increases, the craziness of faith decreases.

Anyways, somebody else has probably already said it better than me, but there it is.

popcorn_karate
08-24-2009, 03:15 PM
I haven't read the op-ed yet,

maybe you and Me& should consider reading it.

here's a quote:

Oddly, an underestimation of natural selection’s creative power clouds the vision not just of the intensely religious but also of the militantly atheistic.

If both groups were to truly accept that power, the landscape might look different. Believers could scale back their conception of God’s role in creation, and atheists could accept that some notions of “higher purpose” are compatible with scientific materialism. And the two might learn to get along.

I do admit that last part ("the two might learn to get along") is obviously faith-based religious craziness and undermines bob as a credible intellectual ; )

AemJeff
08-24-2009, 03:24 PM
I thought you said it pretty well. Penn Jillette had a take on this (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557) that's worth noting.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

As a bonus, when this was originally broadcast, I remember Jonah Goldberg having a fit (http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZGJjMGNmYzJkNWUwYWYxYWUyNGI1YzQ4ZDE5YjNlYTY=).

Me&theboys
08-24-2009, 06:17 PM
maybe you and Me& should consider reading it.
I don't need to read Bob's op-ed because I've already read his book, and unless he's backtracking on what he said in the book, I can tell from the opening paragraph that his op-ed will irritate me for the same reasons his book irritates me: I reject as a pathological sadist any god who conjured up evolution on purpose as the best (or even preferable, or even acceptable) means of achieving a desired end called good (non-zero-sumness, whatever). Bob has somehow convinced himself that the truly awful process by which non-zero-sumness is birthed (he himself declares it arises only out of an initial condition of zero-sumness) is worth it. Aside from the fact that I consider that a very questionable judgment to draw, I think it's a bit premature to run around patting ourselves on the back about how fabulously moral we've all become and to imply that religious intolerance is the last bastion of zero-sumness to be destroyed. The white western male myopia such a worldview belies is breath-taking.

popcorn_karate
08-24-2009, 06:30 PM
nice screed.

I won't address any further comments your way on this subject.