February 27, 2007
A couple of good reads

Biology and Bullshit by David P. Barash

In his 2003 book, The End of Faith, Sam Harris pointed out that alone of all human assertions, those qualifying as "religious," almost by definition, automatically demand and typically receive immense respect, even veneration. Claim that the Earth is flat, or that the Tooth Fairy exists, and you will be deservedly laughed at. But maintain that according to your religion, a 6th century desert tribal leader ascended to heaven on a winged horse, and you are immediately entitled to deference. (By the way, is the similar claim that a predecessor ascended to heaven, roughly 600 years earlier, without aid of a winged horse less ridiculous or more?) It has long been, let us say, an article of faith that at least in polite company, religious faith belief without evidence should go unchallenged. Much of the recent uproar comes from just such challenging, among which biologists have been prominent.
GuardianUnlimited: Faith: (via R Dawkins)
Britain's new cultural divide is not between Christian and Muslim, Hindu and Jew. It is between those who have faith and those who do not.
UK blogger Dave adds his comments on the Guardian's article:
Religious people have certain beliefs. They have no evidence for these beliefs but they are sure that they are true. If you present them with evidence that contradicts these beliefs then they will ignore or ridicule that evidence. The one thing that they won't do is to change their beliefs to incorporate this new evidence.

Atheists also have beliefs. But they have evidence for their beliefs. The amount of confidence that they have in their beliefs is directly proportional to the strength of the evidence. If you present them with evidence that contradicts their beliefs then they will incorporate the new evidence into their view of the world and change their beliefs accordingly.

Atheists are "anti-fundamentalists". They have no beliefs that can't be changed if they are given the right evidence. Theists will do everything they can to avoid changing theif beliefs. And when the level of evidence gets too great then they'll often resort to the equivalent of sticking their fingers in theirs ears and chanting "la-la-la, I can't hear you".

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