Atheist Alliance International 2009 Videos

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 27, 2009 in General Atheism,Science,Video

Here are the lecture videos from Atheist Alliance International 2009 conference, in descending order of awesomeness:

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Haukur December 27, 2009 at 6:11 am

What did you think was awesome about the Krauss lecture? I was rather disappointed with it – it had surprisingly little I didn’t learn in college ten years ago apart from some rather churlish and unfunny digs at the Christians. And I never really got where he was going with his “this is an awful universe” theme. Still, I did watch it till the end.

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RedKing December 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

@Haukur

Personally, as I majored in English, I knew nothing about dark matter/energy before watching this video, and Krauss explained not only what it was, but how we know it should be there, and did so in a way that was understandable to a non-scientist. I do wish he had spent a bit more time on the supposed topic of the talk — how a universe could come from nothing — as that is of particular importance to theological questions. Nevertheless, I found it entertaining and informative.

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lukeprog December 27, 2009 at 7:45 am

Haukur,

For one thing, scientists didn’t know the universe was flat 10 years ago…

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Haukur December 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

My comment was churlish too. Cosmology is always fun.

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Mark December 27, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Nothing new here. Same old stuff.

I wonder though: Why does it seem like all the leading atheist thinkers are middle-aged Caucasian (not to mention British) men? Is it just coincidence? I mean, I know the occasional female pops in to a conference now and then, but for the most part…

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Lorkas December 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Only one of the people above is a British man, but I can see where you’re coming from. I don’t think the picture is too different for religious thinkers though.

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Mark December 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm

No, religious figureheads are of all sorts of backgrounds. Deepak Choprah? Martin Luther King Jr? Desmond Tutu? Nelson Mandela? Mother Teresa? Gandhi? Shall I continue?

Also, per Dawkins, if only the “happy” survive, how is it that he is still around?

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Mark December 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I should add: Dawkins’ (and Darwin’s) use of the words “suffering” and “indifference” and “slavery” to describe insect life is revealing. Sounds like anthropomorphism to me. It’s not just deceptive, it’s WEIRD. And I think most people know it’s weird, whether they will admit it or not.

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Lorkas December 28, 2009 at 8:24 am

Mark: No, religious figureheads are of all sorts of backgrounds. Deepak Choprah? Martin Luther King Jr? Desmond Tutu? Nelson Mandela? Mother Teresa? Gandhi? Shall I continue?  

It’s easy to name examples who don’t fit the picture, Mark. Take a poll of the 100 most popular religious philosophy books and then tell me how many of them are by “middle-aged Caucasian (not to mention British) men”.

Just to demonstrate that the same can be done for atheists, I’ll list a few atheists who don’t fit your category:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
A. Philip Randolph (to go with MLK Jr, of course)
Salman Rushdie
Marie Curie
Ariane Sherine
Alice Walker

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SteveK December 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

PZ’s talk surprised me given his reputation. It surprised me because he clearly doesn’t understand the basics of ID – if he does, it’s not being demonstrated in this talk.

Over and over again he says the IDist’s entire argument is ‘complexity, complexity, complexity’. It’s not. He goes on to give examples that no IDist would agree with, thus arguing a strawman. It gets the crowd giggling. Maybe this is what PZ wanted to accomplish, I don’t know.

He unwittingly showed man made objects (brick wall) and said these designed objects exhibit certain characteristics: efficient or elegant arrangement (he said ‘simple’, but he didn’t mean simplistic) and specificity. Hey, PZ, THAT more closely represents the ID argument. I hope nobody had to pay to hear him speak. If his goal was to entertain, then he did. If his goal was to inform, then he did not.

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lukeprog December 28, 2009 at 9:24 pm

No, PZ didn’t really talk about ID at all.

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Briang December 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I just started watching the PZ talk. I realized I’ve already heard the talk. Luke, I think you could explain intelligent design better and more fairly.

I’m personally not sure what to think of ID. A while back, I was very interested in this topic, so I bought a college level evolutionary biology textbook. I realize I need to learn a whole lot more before coming to a reasonable conclusion on the topic, let alone criticizing evolution.

It blows me away that critics of ID can misrepresent ID as PZ has done. Is it ignorance or deliberate deception? Neither option looks very good.

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Beelzebub December 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm

There’s something about Lawrence Krauss that reminds me of Elden Tyrell.

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Hansen December 29, 2009 at 3:58 am

Briang:
I’m personally not sure what to think of ID.A while back, I was very interested in this topic, so I bought a college level evolutionary biology textbook.I realize I need to learn a whole lot more before coming to a reasonable conclusion on the topic, let alone criticizing evolution.  

Ahh, the usual personal anecdote from a random person. I guess some people find them impressive. I don’t know why. So let me counter with another anecdote from another random person.

Having been born and raised in a country where religion really doesn’t matter, I learned a little bit about evolution in school. I found it fun and curious but it didn’t affect me anymore than any other scientific fact we learned about. Only about a year ago and now in my late thirties I started to gain an interest in the whole atheism vs religion debate (it was pretty shocking for me to learn that people were still seriously discussing this in the 21st century).

It also happened to be Darwin’s 200th birthday so there was a lot of information about evolution. I read several books and watched many lectures about the subject and was amazed to find how interesting it is and how much scientists actually know about how life has evolved. It almost made me regret not choosing the path of biology in my education. (Actually, I get that feeling about most scientific subjects when I take a closer look at them.)

In the process I could not avoid hearing about ID. It did not take long to realize that it had nothing to do with science and everything to do with religious opposition to science. Not only was it absolutely not interesting or enlightening in any way, its proponents also seemed like complete crackpots with a negative attitude towards knowledge and learning. The main thing I learned was that some ideologically motivated people will stop at nothing to further their opinionated certainties.

It blows me away that people can even begin to take ID serious when its proponents have done nothing to further the advance of science in any way shape or form. Is it ignorance or deliberate deception? Neither option looks very good.

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Briang December 29, 2009 at 9:02 am

I don’t know why I’m a “random” person — I’ve been following this blog for a couple of months now. I also don’t know why my admission of ignorance on the subject of evolution would impress anyone.

All I can say is in trying to inform myself about these topics, I’ve heard so many strange and contradictory reasons why ID is wrong that it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. Examples:

1) “Creationism” refers to the religious belief in a supernatural deity or force that intervenes, or has intervened, directly in the physical world. (NCSE)

(This puts just about every religious believer in the category of Creationist and probably a number of evolutionary biologists).

2) ID, while not science is perfectly legitimate in the fields of philosophy and theology.

3) ID is bad science and bad theology.

4) It’s unfalsifiable.

5) It’s been falsified.

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SteveK December 29, 2009 at 9:02 am

Ahh, the usual personal anecdote from a random person. I guess some people find them impressive. I don’t know why. So let me counter with another anecdote from another random person.

Not the best way to start a comment. I was so unimpressed that I didn’t bother to read any further. ;)

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Briang December 29, 2009 at 9:19 am

I watched the talk from Andy Thomson last night. I thought it was informative. I’m just not sure what it proves about the relationship between morality and God. He grants that we have a natural sense of right and wrong with some variation. Yet I think this is entirely consistent with the Catholic view called the natural moral law. That we can know right and wrong naturally without divine revelation, but not that we always get it right.

He talked briefly about how evolution can explain altruism. But he didn’t get into the details enough to be satisfying.

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Hansen December 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Briang: I don’t know why I’m a “random” person— I’ve been following this blog for a couple of months now.I also don’t know why my admission of ignorance on the subject of evolution would impress anyone.  

Sorry if I snapped a bit. You are right that ignorance of a subject is no crime. I’m definitely not an expert on biology either. But I don’t see how you can reach the conclusion that there is room for doubt when scientists all over the world pretty much unanimously accept evolution and reject creationism (whether in the classical form or in the Intelligent Design form). ID proponents show clear signs of being purely religiously motivated and they make all sorts of attempts at avoiding the normal scientific approach to get their ideas accepted. They don’t publish articles in peer-reviewed journals. They try to subvert the educational system by legal means (and lose in the courts when it gets that far). Why do you feel there is even the slightest room for doubting here? Or do you buy into the “it’s all a big evil atheist conspiracy” canard?

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Lee A. P. December 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Briang: I don’t know why I’m a “random” person — I’ve been following this blog for a couple of months now. I also don’t know why my admission of ignorance on the subject of evolution would impress anyone.All I can say is in trying to inform myself about these topics, I’ve heard so many strange and contradictory reasons why ID is wrong that it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. Examples:1) “Creationism” refers to the religious belief in a supernatural deity or force that intervenes, or has intervened, directly in the physical world. (NCSE)(This puts just about every religious believer in the category of Creationist and probably a number of evolutionary biologists).2) ID, while not science is perfectly legitimate in the fields of philosophy and theology.3) ID is bad science and bad theology.4) It’s unfalsifiable.5) It’s been falsified.  (Quote)

Why is that strange? “Magical God did it” is not science. Never has been science and REAL science has taken a shit all over this notion. Thats the facts.

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BathTub December 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm

ID is Creationism. It’s that simple. Dover vs Kitzmiller was the Disco Institutes best chance to prove otherwise instead most of them decided to not show up. We did get the wonderful Creationism/ID transitional fossil “cdesign proponentsists” which was a result of sloppy cut and pasting when converting the Creationist textbook ‘Of Pandas & People’ from Creationism to Intelligent Design’

Ray Comfort a YEC now argues “Intelligent Design” in his latest book. That should be shameful for any group!

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RedKing December 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Briang:4) It’s unfalsifiable.5) It’s been falsified.  

It’s both. It makes claims that are both falsifiable (irreducible complexity) and unfalsifiable (the “designer” most ID proponents have in mind is God, though for good rhetorical reasons they leave this out of their initial arguments). The claims that can be falsified have been. What you have left is religious faith.

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