Monday, December 1, 2008

Why People Believe Weird Things

A lighthearted (and enlightening) little talk Michael Shermer gave at the TED conference this year:

good stuff.


Lodo Grdzak said...

Interesting guy. Good post.

Sic Semper Tyrannus said...

His bigotry against intelligent design is obvious. Evolution does not explain creation. By his own standard he is saying a miracle happened, then life evolved to all the wonderful species. Life, even the most simple form evolving from an inanimate object is the Holy Grail of science and impossible to recreate on this planet because life is everywhere. You cannot guarantee "no contamination". I am a Christian and I believe that evolution has happened and will continue to happen. I also believe in creation. Other than that he is very entertaining and I wish he would turn his group towards climate change and take a look around there. He may find more ghosts and false idols than in any other known religion. Thanks and Good Day.

John Brown said...

Mr. Tyrranus,

Michael Shermer is on the forefront of global warming skepticism. You'd probably be happy with how solidly he's resisted the trend in that area.

Always looking for data!

I agree that science cannot prove or disprove creation. God (if there is such a thing) is above and beyond our tools and our reason. This must be absolutely infuriating to atheists and literalists believers alike. Thanks for stopping by!

Sic Semper Tyrannus said...

You missed the point again, Faith requires no proof. A true believers doesn't need the certified letter from God. He can look into the most beautiful sunrise or the most hideous act and know that God is there. I now give you one of my favorite stories.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

Spencer Troxell said...

I agree with you that faith requires no proof. God is above and outside our reason. If we were able to comprehend him, he would not be God.

It may be interesting to look for hints of God in creation, but I think worrying so much about proving our individual religious suspicions can be a distraction.

as an aside, I think the reason Michael Shermer may have taken that jab at ID is that it is not science. 'irreducible complexity' basically boils down to the little cartoon that he showed the audience. Also, the irriducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum (a commonly used ID trope) is often modified by presenters to make it look more like a little machine than it actually looks like. Real bacterial flagellum are less homogeneous.

Evolution is science, and it doesn't rely on any kind of miracle or leap of faith to talk about it. There's nothing wrong with challenging evolution. In fact, that is the scientific thing to do. ID could be reasonably taught in some kind of philosophy or current events class. Or a religion class. But biology is the study of observable phenomena. It may be interesting to speculate about what was going on in the mechanic that put in the radiator's relationship when you're looking under the hood of a car, but it won't teach you anything about installing a radiator.

I believe in God. I just don't feel confident I know anything about God. I have my suspicions, I like certain ideas about God, but I can't claim any kind of special revelation. I communicate with the God I believe in regularly, and I am working out my faith with fear and trembling.

I thank you for engaging in this conversation with me.