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This should be required reading - especially for anyone about to debate evolution.

We are lucky to live at a time when so many fascinating things are happening in science. Yet when I partake in any discussion, I'm often amazed at how many people carry misconceptions about what science is and how it works. 

This is tolerable given that we all have varied backgrounds and have studied different things - but I feel compelled to offer clarity in five areas that seem to endlessly provide confusion.

NUMBER  1: Science does NOT deal with Certainty

The purpose of science is to get a better grasp of reality. It is a process that attempts to produce the best explanations for what we observe. 

It is akin to charting new territory. You begin with a lot of guess work, mix in some trial and error, and ultimately you can produce a fairly reliable map of your surroundings. 

The only real difference is that science is a never-ending cycle of observation and refinement - and this is a very important distinction.

If you're in the city, you can be extremely certain the next thing you see coming down the road won't be a wagon pulled by a pack of wild dogs - even though its possible. You don't have to be absolutely certain for it to be a reliable statement.

Scientific knowledge works on the same basis. The aim of science is only to produce statements of varying degrees of certainty.

NUMBER 2: Possible and Probable are NOT the Same

Failure to recognize the disparity between what is possible and what is probable is one of the most fallacious slants against science.

Science by nature is very opened minded. The scientific method has discovered the structure of atoms and the essence of black holes - things that would otherwise seem completely implausible.

But thinking scientifically is not about weighing every idea equally.

Discussing the likelihood of a wagon pulled by dogs passing through city streets is so improbable it shouldn't even merit moment of your time. That's not because you're closed minded, it's because there isn't a single credible reason to consider the idea.

For the same reason, the application of science is not focused on what is possible. Anything is possible.

Science is concerned only with ideas that offer demonstrable reasons to be considered probable.

NUMBER 3: "Observe" does NOT mean "See"

It takes Neptune 165 years to orbit the sun.  No one alive has witnessed a full completion of its orbit. Yet we know with a very high degree of certainty the path that Neptune will take. Why?

You don't need to witness events to know with extreme levels of certainty that they occurred or that they will likely occur.

If actually "seeing" an event was the only reason to believe something, then blind people would have no reason to believe anything.

What is important here is to not mix up what is literally observable with what we can surmise

If you should find a small hole near the bottom of your kitchen wall, some mouse droppings in your cupboards, and tiny mouse footprints spread across your floor, you don't need to ever see a mouse to infer that you likely have one.

Like any crime scene investigation, you "observe" the evidence, interpret the facts, and if enough evidence exists, you arrive at an explanation of events. Your level of certainty varies directly with the amount of confirming evidence.

This is the essence of science.

NUMBER 4: Not all Science is "Accepted" Science

There are a lot of "scientific" ideas (those open to scientific study). The good ones are called hypotheses.

With enough confirming evidence and successful testing by the scientific community, a good hypothesis can transition to scientific theory.

As Einstein demonstrated when he overhauled Newtonian Physics, even the best scientific theories are not immune from revision or improvement.

A scientific theory is merely the best current explanation for the phenomena we observe that is accepted by the scientific community - in this sense, it is "accepted" science. 

But ideas have to begin somewhere, and a lot of them will often turn out to be bad ideas. This isn't a detriment, its merely part of the process of ultimately arriving at good ideas. As long as there are good reasons to consider a new idea, its worthy of some discussion. 

Many ideas currently being considered in the scientific community will prove to be wrong, but this in no way discredits science.
There is a huge difference between an idea that has some potential and one that is considered a scientific theory - they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum of certainty.

NUMBER 5: Trust and Faith are NOT Required in Science

When you arrive at an airport, it is not necessary for you to inspect the plane or speak with the pilot. You don't even need to understand aerodynamics. You trust that your plane will arrive at its destination because the airline has a history of reliable flight. 

In this sense, many people "trust" the scientific community, but it is unnecessary. The beauty of scientific knowledge is that it is demonstrable.

Every bit of scientific knowledge contains an explanation of how each conclusion was reached. If it did not, it would not be scientific. 

Pretending to have answers gets you nowhere in the scientific community. Claims to superior knowledge are inconsequential. Personal charisma and good looks play no part. What is relevant a willingness to have your ideas be scrutinized, thrashed, and proven false

The result is that no other process is as efficient at rooting out nonsense as the scientific method.

That isn't to say that science is infallible (no credible scientist would ever suggest that), nor that its void of corruption, motives,  or bias. But any accepted idea has stood up to the scrutiny and rigorous testing of scientists from all over the world.

That's worth something, but you don't have to trust any of it.

There is nothing about the scientific method that is based on any aspect of trust or faith - it is only concerned with what is demonstrable.


"What makes a belief scientific isn't whether it turns out to be true or not, but the process by which it is arrived at." 
~ James Hogan

"There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance has always been premature, and it remains premature today."
 ~ Isaac Asimov

"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers which can't be questioned." 
~ Richard Feynman

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” 
~ Galileo Galilei

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense." 
~ Carl Sagan

‘In searching for the truth and often questioning it, scholars, thinkers, philosophers, and scientists have immeasurably influenced our world.  Their medical breakthroughs, scientific discoveries, physical laws, and mathematical principles have imposed order, coherence, and clarity on what once seemed a random, indiscriminate, and lawless world.” 
~ Dennis Kimbro

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A good video to look and to think about.

بی‌خدایی یا خداناباوری (به انگلیسی: Atheism)‏، در معنای عام، رد اعتقاد به وجود خدایان است. در معنایی محدودتر، بیخدایی این موضع است که هیچ خدایی وجود ندارد. در جامع‌ترین معنا، بی‌خدایی به سادگی، عدم وجود اعتقاد به وجود هر نوع خداست. بی‌خدایی نقطهٔ مقابل خداباوری است که در کلی‌ترین شکل، اعتقاد به وجود حداقل یک خدا می‌باشد.
واژه آتئیسم در زبان انگلیسی از واژه یونانی atheos (به یونانی: ἄθεος)‏ گرفته شده‌است که به معنای بدون خدایان است. این واژه در گذشته با دلالت ضمنی منفی، در اطلاق به کسانی به کار رفته که منکر خدایانی می‌شدند که در جامعه در سطح وسیع مورد پرستش قرار می‌گرفته‌اند. با گسترش آزادی اندیشه و پرسش‌گری شک‌گرایانه و متعاقباً انتقادات رو به فزونی از دین، کاربرد این اصطلاح محدودتر و هدفمند شد. نخستین افرادی که به طور رسمی خود را با واژه "بی‌خدا" تعریف می‌کردند در قرن ۱۸ام بودند.
براهین بی‌خدایی گسترده‌اند و طیف وسیعی از استدلال‌های فلسفی، اجتماعی و تاریخی را در بر می‌گیرند. استدلال‌ها برای عدم اعتقاد به خدای ماوراطبیعه شامل نبود شواهد تجربی، مسئله شر، برهان وحی‌های متناقض و اختفای الهی است. با وجود اینکه بسیاری بی‌خدایان فلسفه‌های سکولار را برگزیده‌اند، برای بی‌خدایی هیچ ایدئولوژی یا مسلک فکری و رفتاری واحدی وجود ندارد. بسیاری بی‌خدایان بر این باورند که بی‌خدایی، نسبت به خداباوری، یک جهان‌بینی بهینه‌تر است، در نتیجه بار اثبات بر دوش بی‌خدایان نیست که ثابت کنند خدا وجود ندارد، بلکه بر دوش خداباوران است که برای باور خود دلیل بیاورند.
در فرهنگ غربی، غالباً بی‌خدایان را منحصراً بی‌دین یا ماده‌باور می‌پندارند[۸]؛ در حالی که در برخی نظام‌های ایمانی نیز بی‌خدایی وجود داشته‌است؛ از جمله در ادیان ناخداباوری چون آیین جین، برخی اشکال آیین بودا که از باور به خدایان حمایت نمی‌کنند، و شاخه‌هایی از آیین هندو که بی‌خدایی را موضعی صادق اما نامناسب برای رشد معنوی انسان می‌دانند.
به این دلیل بی‌خدایی مفاهیم متفاوتی دارد، تعیین شمار دقیق بی‌خدایان کار دشواری است.بر اساس یکی از برآوردها، در حدود ۲٫۳٪ جمعیت جهان بی‌خدا هستند، در حالی که ۱۱٫۹٪ از توصیف بی دین برای خود استفاده می‌کنند. طبق آماری دیگر، بیشترین میزان کسانی که خود را بی‌خدا معرفی می‌کنند در کشورهای غربی وجود، و آن هم به میزان‌های مختلف، که از درصدهای تک‌رقمی کشورهایی چون لهستان، رومانی و قبرس آغاز شده؛ و به ۸۵٪ در سوئد (۱۷٪ بی‌خدا)، ۸۰٪ در دانمارک، ۷۲٪ در نروژ و ۶۰٪ در فنلاند می‌رسد. تا ۶۵٪ ژاپنی‌ها خودشان را بی‌خدا، ندانم‌گرا یا بی‌اعتقاد می‌دانند. طبق گزارش مرکز تحقیقات پیو، از میان کسانی که وابستگی به دینی ندارند و خود را "بدون دین" می‌دانند، ۲٪ جمعیت آمریکا خود را "بی‌خدا" می‌دانند. طبق یک آمارگیری جهانی در سال ۲۰۱۲، ۱۳٪ شرکت‌کنندگان خود را بی‌خدا دانسته‌اند

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Informative and well thought out, this is an easy to remember link to point anyone who questions their faith to. Or even the die hard fanatics, they probably won't accept the information, but it can't hurt them to expose them to some obvious and undeniable facts.

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some of you may be interested in a couple of the songs posted on this page. i know its got a couple of vulgar points to it that a few of you may not agree with, but the anti-religion songs are some of my favorite things to do. this seems like the kind of place that may just appreciate the music and not hate it because of a couple vulgar or gory parts. if anyone does check it out, i would love feedback, be it good or bad. ALL FEEDBACK, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, IS GOOD FEEDBACK! IT IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED!

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How to classify aspects of religion in terms of the danger they pose ;)
Excerpt from the list "Most wanted for crimes against humanity":
Subject name: "God the Lord" aka Allah, Jahve, Jehovah, Yahweh, El, Ellil, Enlil...
Deity type: Creation usurper, Daemonpact-giver
Danger class: 7 : A danger to all, whether they believe themselves in a daemonpact with him or not.
Crimes: Rape, murder, genocide.
Ways to kill it: Crucifixion is alleged to be of limited value, hard facts seem more effective, but must be applied to the pact-takers directly.

Case study: 
Beware: Most of what the various scriptures say about God the Lord is lies. I'm not talking about the assertions that there are supernatural phenomena that nobody can see or hear, no the lies go deeper:
The God they talk about is not the God you think they're talking about.
You see, Abraham got his religion somewhere, and that place was in Mesopotamia. And we know God the Lord figures in Mesopotamian mythology, under the name Enlil. But Enlil did not create the world. Enlil was only Lord of the air, not of the sky and not of the earth and most especially not of the waters. The oldest myths have it like this: Nammu, the Mother Ocean, gave birth to heaven and earth, personified in the sky-god An and the earth-godess Ki. Enlil, the Abrahamic God the Lord, was the air-god who carried off the Earth, whereas An carried off the heavens, thus separating the two and making the earth habitable. Ok? So all of Genesis is a lie, because Abraham certainly would have known better... but then, Genesis hadn't been written at his time.
Did God the Lord create the humans? No, of course not. Nammu the mother went to Enki of the deeps, god of sweet waters and Wisdom, and asked him how to create servants for the gods. Enki gave her the info, and presto, people.

So, is no truth left in what we know of the Abrahamic God the Lord?
Have no fear, there is.
You see, obviously His most important properties were too holy to obfuscate - namely that God the Lord is patron of Rape (of children) and of Genocide.
Does this sound strange or offensive? It is still the truth. After the creation of the world, the gods have made cities, and reside in their temples in those cities. Ninlil, a young goddess, goes down to the canal Nunbirdu to bathe. Enlil sees her and asks for a kiss, but Ninlil refuses, saying she is too young to make love, so Enlil gets a boat, floats over to where Ninlil is bathing, and rapes her. After word of this gets around, Enlil is cast out and goes to the underworld with Ninlil as his wife... which, as you will recall from your scriptures, is exactly how the Abrahamic scriptures say to deal with rapists. They have to marry their victims. Ain't that grand? And ain't God the Lord a great guy?

So what of genocide? Well, you see, the humans made a lot of noise, and the Lord God grew to hate them. So, because he couldn't sleep, he decides to drown all the humans with a flood. Simple, huh? After all, he didn't create the humans, and he hated their guts.
Enki, the developer who wrote the algorithms for humans wasn't too happy about this though, and sneaks up to the house of a human Ziusudra (in the Epic of Gilgamesh he is called Utnapishtim), and whispers through the wall to the human how to save humanity from the flood. He says to build a huge wooden cube, with a roof over it, and fill it with his family, livestock, provisions and craftsmen ... everything you need for surviving the apocalypse (not two of every animal - they weren't stupid).
Notice how the Abrahamic flood myth makes so much more sense with this conflict between the genocidal destroyer and the sneaky savior? That's because it was how Abraham himself knew it.
So there you have it; the reason why God the Lord of the Abrahamic faiths, be he named God, YHWH, Jehovah or Allah, is so keen on raping children and on genocide, and why his religious officials are so keen on raping children and on genocide, is because God the Lord created that.

adapted from my #blasphemyday entry
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