Reader Comments for Sir David Attenborough - "Why I Don't Mention God"

These are reader comments for the article 'Sir David Attenborough - "Why I Don't Mention God"'

Reader Comments

Posted by Marc in Switzerland @ 14:11 on Jan 27 2008

Atheists have been around since the dawn of time and whether science shows us life is incredibly complex and fine-tuned or really very simple and robust (as was thought in Darwin's time) will always be irrelevant to people who focus on evidence which supports their world-view and ignore the rest.

Irreducible complexity is yet another lesson for Christian apologists in the risks of playing God-of-the-Gaps game. ID is however, strong when it argues that the world looks designed and that to argue otherwise is to fly in the face of self-evident tuning and purpose and postulate "natural miracles" at every major development. To deny obvious yet design and assert "blind nature did it" will fail Occam's test as do complex conspiracy of mass delusion theories in a desperate attempt to explain the ressurection.

A naturalist's explanation is part of the picture (and evolution may well be largely correct) but that naturalist should not assert it is all of the picture without stepping into the realm of meta-physics and having his views tested by philosophies which acknowledge no imposed naturalist bounds.

Posted by Strappado in Norway @ 06:55 on Jan 26 2008

"However, it is worth noting that atheism offers us no explanation for the presence of evil in the world or any hope for the eventual redemption and restoration of the natural order - both of which Christianity does."

This is not within Atheism's scope. Atheism just removes some rather bad explanations from the equation.

Evolution, on the other hand, explains a lot of the evil that humans do. Greed and killing is a result from that humans and animals always have had to fight for resources. Altruism has also been a product, in that it has been useful to help people and then they'd get help back. Evolution as a process hasn't been even, though, so some are worse ore more "evil" than others.
This is an explanation of sorts. Original sin, or whatever, is no explanation. Atheism just takes away that non-explanation allowing us to focus on the real issues.

Posted by Isaac in Bradford @ 03:01 on Jan 26 2008

Guys, y'know what? i've had enough! i want to do something about this, i love media, i love what it can do... i know that the bbc have to pay attention to every single person who gives them feedback, or makes a suggestion to them... SO with that said, guys let's suggest a YOUTHFUL, fun christian TV show, suggesting they look at the current scene (including cross rhythms, soul survivor, rocknations, frenzy...) guys... lets do this! lets all make a POSITIVE comment / suggestion to do more up-to-date programmes! i'm sick of God not being repped relevantly on TV! ok, so here's a link to the bbc to make a comment:

ONE COMMENT COUNTS AS ONE HUNDRED PEOPLE'S VIEWS TO THE BBC, THIS IS OFFICIAL! it takes ten people for the BBC to actually have to do something... five of us have commented!! WE CAN DO THIS!!

Posted by Isaac in Bradford @ 06:11 on Jan 25 2008

Thanks Mal! great topic and something that was brought up ALL THE TIME whilst i was at school! So what can we do to change the schools? we're taught the evolution vibe all the way, so I'm not surprised when I'm hit with a volley of questions that i simply drown in. Can we take action? can we write somewhere? where do you suggest we make our voice heard? Thanks!! Isaac

Posted by Scot in Leeds @ 18:43 on Jan 24 2008

I Like Einstein's quote:
"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we . must feel humble."

Posted by neil in walsall @ 17:50 on Jan 24 2008

Well thought and presented article. Would like to add to the comment about the increasingly lack of opposing argument to atheistic views. Not that it dosent exist; but is regularly suppressed by the media, particularly the BBC which prides itself on presenting fair and balanced viewpoints, (never seems to have trouble with religions outside Christianity, i.e, Sihkism, Judaism etc). The media presents many programs that have a basis that God is merely an object of the minority and has no influence in our world, therefore program content consistently reflects this view. Additionally, when opportunities are scheduled for debate, they are in cheap looking studios with incredibly boring looking people at 2am in the morning.

Until media outlets like the beeb provide a genuine slot and budget, Christianity is unlikely to get the viewpoint it deserves.

Posted by Ray Ingles in Detroit, MI @ 16:04 on Jan 24 2008

The essential difference between the 'supernatural' and the 'natural' is that the 'supernatural' is defined to be 'unknowable' - something forever beyond human ken. Once something is explained, nobody considers it supernatural anymore - look up the history of lightning rods.

But there's a problem with the idea of the 'unknowable'. How can we, in practice, distinguish between something 'currently unknown but comprehensible' and something 'forever unknowable'? From a practical perspective, the only way to tell which category something falls into is to try to understand it; if you succeed, then it was knowable. The problem is, if you fail, you can't conclude that it's unknowable. It might be... but it also might be the case that you just didn't happen to figure out something knowable, and you or someone else might have better luck on a subsequent attempt.

Science doesn't accept the 'unknowable' in principle (hardly surprising - the word itself is based on 'scientia', Latin for 'knowledge'). It hasn't proved to be a useful concept in the past. Neil Tyson points out the difference between Newton and Laplace ( and we might add J. S. Haldane, who asserted that no 'mechanistic' theory could ever account for cellular division and reproduction, just a few decades before the structure of DNA was discovered. Scientists are human, and do indeed have a long history of invoking the divine when reaching the current limits of understanding... until someone comes along and figures out another 'unknowable' feature of the universe.

Posted by Ray Ingles in Detroit, MI @ 15:53 on Jan 24 2008

I'm not actually familiar with any examples of 'irreducible complexity' that have held up under scrutiny. The clotting cascade, the bacterial flagellum - all turn out to be evolvable, and some precursors and details can even be found about the process. Here's an example you can partially test on your own body:
Lay your fingers on the side of your jaw. Now, trace along the edge up to the very top of the jawbone. Notice how close your fingers are to your ear canal. Inside the inner ear are three bones, the ossicles: malleus, incus, and stapes. They are carefully arranged to transfer sound energy from the eardrum to the cochlea as efficiently as possible. How could such an amazing mechanism arise? (One that's been cited, even, as 'irreducibly complex' - just Google around a bit.)

It turns out that a classification of dinosaur called the therapsids had two jaw joints. The therapsids are known (by several independent lines of evidence) to be ancestral to modern mammals... and we have a basically complete fossil record of the gradual transition of one of those jaw joints into the modern bones of the inner ear. Fossils representing over 11 separate stages have been found. Note that intermediate steps were all advantageous, though not as efficient or optimized. Some transitional forms did help amplify sound energy but didn't work while the animal was chewing. We still have problems with that under some circumstances (try to listen to someone while eating celery) but the separation is far more developed now.

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