My cousin has a computer science PhD from an Ivy League university. His wife has a computer science PhD from MIT. Last I checked, they are both Christians. So much for learning to think at the idea factory.

If in my old age I actually go on to get a computer science PhD, I could never have a believer as my adviser. In fact, I would strongly prefer an atheist over even an agnostic. I have nothing to learn from a doofus believer, and I suspect that agnostics are largely god-fearing people who don't want to piss off a possible god by not believing in him. Many probably plan to repent on their death beds.

The repetitive failure to perform a simple judgement call in the face of overwhelming evidence shows that all intellects of the lower echelons (i.e., all beliefs other than atheism) lack the credibility required by a scientist of the modern day intelligentsia. Only somebody bold enough to be an atheist is able to carry out significant, ground-breaking research.

One must always be suspect of the findings of somebody who goes home and prays to Jesus or whatever. If somebody is both stupid and psychotic enough to fail to be an atheist, they are capable many other intellectual failures. The feat of logic required to be an atheist isn't very difficult. The character of intellect required to be an atheist isn't a very high bar to jump, either. And somebody has to be downright delusional psychotic in order to believe in god, or even just to not be sure (agnostic).

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Sorry but science is meant to have objective value, the personal characteristics of the researcher are irrelevant.  And "nutty" is a judgement call.  Just like you think religious people are nuts, someone else might think vegetarians are nuts. 

Someone I used to know spake thusly about a woman mathematician (a very good one):

"She's very weird, she's a vegetarian lesbian". 

For the record, I think vegetarians and religious people are all nuts.

And I challenge what you said, that the "personal characteristics of the researcher are irrelevant." An argument or piece of research may be correct all by itself, but I question the testimony of any believer. We are increasingly living in a world where one must be correct about more of their beliefs to take the next great step. If somebody is mistaken, or prone to be mistaken, their ability to research is compromised. Anybody other than an atheist is both mistaken and prone to mistake.

Straw men are easy to put up. If a believer is taught that a certain straw man ("do you believe love exists?") is acceptable when questioning divine foreknowledge ("why is it my fault I sin if god knew I would sin when he created me?"), and they execute the straw man ("is your love real?"), while refusing to admit they just committed the straw man fallacy, then that's as far as they are able to go. And in the future, straw men are in the realm of possibility, because if identified straw men were not valid arguments to them (and sometimes okay to commit), they would have to realize that it's god's fault that they sin, therefore jesus died for no reason and they don't owe jesus anything, yadda yadda yadda.

Or whatever it takes for a believer to accept their false beliefs.

I'm not saying that research is incorrect because of who is credited with the authorship. My point is that the credibility of a believer is intrinsically called into question, and their testimony immediately must be scrutinized for transcending repetitions of their stupidity translating into trivial steps of logic in their research, or inaccurate findings and conclusions altogether.

If somebody is stupid enough to believe, then it's fair to expect stupidity from them.

I'm vegan not just vegetarian so you just called me a nut.  So probably I can't say anything that means anything to you - no point in bothering to write!

You're funny, Luara. :)

Brian, I completed all my doctoral course work at Gonzaga University, a Roman Catholic institutions and I had the highest grade in the class. I learned early on to vomit back the priests' lectures and reading assignment, all male philosophers. I requested to be able to write about female philosophers. The Ethics and History departments rejected my written requests because, "There are no women writers worthy of reading". I submitted my dissertation to my committee for approval, the priests rejected it saying I was "biased". "How can you call me biased when you wear dresses and deny your sexuality" I responded. It did no good and I did not receive my doctoral degree. If they had stated the dissertation was poorly written I would have had to agree because in retrospect, I agree, it was poorly written. But to not recognize their bias, after all their training and meditation and praying, surely if there were a god, he/she/it would have revealed their bias to them. 

Jeez! I don't trust research completed by people who believe the Earth is 6,000-10,000 years old, or that some creature created all this diversity in six days. Francis Collins claims to believe a superman exists, but how and why is beyond my understanding. Christopher Hitchens developed a great friendship with him, probably because of his gnome research. That doesn't make any difference to me. Hitch also had a great friendship with Supreme Court judge Scalia. Go figure. 

It's refreshing to get your contributions in here, Joan.

I'd be careful about that.  Francis Collins, one of the leaders in the Human Genome Project, is as competent a scientist as anyone could ask for.  As it happens, he is also a committed christian.  He clearly had the respect of Christopher Hitchens, who praised Collins' work frequently, and if da Hitch isn't atheist enough for you, then I can't help!

The fact is that some people compartmentalize better than others as it comes to their faith vs their profession, scientific or otherwise.  The problem is with those who either can't or won't put up a personal barrier between their beliefs and their work.  The Discovery Institute is probably one of the worst examples of a badly warped view of "science."  They have earned their lumps, and they have a lot to show off for their stupidity.

At the risk of quoting the bible: "By their fruits shall you know them."  If someone is generating good work, which survives a peer review and is well regarded for its quality, the belief or non-belief of those doing the work should not color our attitude toward it.  Conversely, if their results are skewed by their belief, both the product and the producer deserve our disdain.

Generally, I'm not known for cutting believers any slack ... but Collins has more than earned it, and I have no doubt but that there are others out there like him.

I disagree with you on the existence of people's supposed ability to compartmentalize. I've heard it suggested before that people make an exception for their ridiculous religious beliefs. I don't think the human brain does this because I've never seen evidence that people can pocket their beliefs. Instead, I think beliefs transcend the mind and support similar patterns of thought in the future. Without having read Collin's work, just knowing that he's a committed Christian turns me off, and leads me to believe that the original research he came up with was rather straightforward. Some research tasks are easier than others.

Why It's So Hard for Scientists to Believe in God

Francis Collins gives this explanation on Big Think and he defines his dilemma about as clearly as it can be stated. He claims science is a "how" question and religion is "why" question. I disagree with him on that. 

Why was I born? is a definition that comes from inside one. 

Why am I here, now" also comes from internal sources. 

Why am I moral? again, from inner roots. 

Why do people behave badly? That is not a religious questions. It can only be understood using scientific methods. Anything else is pure guess work or imagination. 

Why do bad things happen to good people? There is no answer to that, scientific or philosophical ... again, it is pure speculation. Just luck, perhaps, or random chance. 

Many many religious people aren't literalists.  On some level they are pretending to believe - they view the religious claims as metaphors or interesting stories.  The intelligent religious people including scientists are more likely to be of this kind.  They do apply rationality to their religion - but still call themselves believers because they like how it feels.  It "makes sense" to them on a feeling level. 

This is an important concept to consider. People can perhaps be dishonest in self-reporting their religious alignment. The problem is the immense ambiguity involved in picking and choosing what they want to believe, but still declaring themselves as part of a defined group. Saying "I'm a Christian" has a specific meaning, which is very different from "I believe whatever I feel like believing."

Kim Kardashian claims she is a Catholic, but she and almost all other young Catholic women have had premarital sex on a regular basis. At what point does she go from "I'm willing to accept the consequences for my sinful behavior" to "I really don't believe it's a sin to fornicate, despite what the Catholic Bible tells me?"

A good question is do people really, truly believe this garbage, or do they simply attend church, pray, sing along, and claim they accept it without actually agreeing with the logic? My position is that actual believers- those that truly believe in God (or "don't know")- have no credibility. Those that pretend to believe are just dishonest.

It's quite possible to see a lot of those stories as metaphors, and they work as metaphors. 

Christopher Hitchens said he preferred fundamentalists because he knew what they believed. But when he would talk with liberal Christians he couldn't quite get a straight answer.  There are Detour signs set up in their minds.


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