The Entitlement of Opinion.

Right, here I am stating my opinion.  In a post about opinions, and how they are really not all that great a thing after all.  More than a little hypocritical, I will agree.

I do want to make a general point here about the validity of opinions, but before I do I think I should set out my stall a little more neatly than usual.  We are all entitled to our opinions.  There, I’ve said it.  We are all not only permitted, but within the context of education and society we are actively encouraged to hold opinions on everything from which football team is better to the inherent dangers of vaccination.

Unfortunately I think we go too far in pursuit of freedom of speech however.  We seem to have reached the very strange situation where not only is an opinion permissible, but the validity of each and every opinion is perceived to hold equal weight.  It has led, among other things, to the BBC offering “Half an hour of news and comment” instead of a proper news programme.  The Vox-Pop has suddenly the same impact as the professional opinions of the learned and qualified.  And I think that is dangerous.

While your freedom to speak your mind – whether banal and uncomplicated or offensive – is important to me, what you are actually saying (in many cases) is not.  If I want to hear opinions on the evolution of mankind, I will search out the missives of those who have studied it in depth, those who can quote not only the sound-bite and infamous generalities, but truly understand the impact they have.  Which is why, when I wanted to know more about genetics, I started reading Richard Dawkins.

OK, here’s where some readers will undoubtedly leave me, or at least cease to stand alongside me.  This man – largely but not universally upheld as a great scientist – causes a rift in opinion largely because his name is also synonymous with the great debate concerning religion.  As an advocate – sometimes very outspoken – of secular life in general and atheism in particular, he naturally is seen as the enemy of Christianity and organised religion.  And I couldn’t be more happy about that.  He was largely responsible for my own personal enlightenment, but I’ll gloss over that for the moment.

His works, in particular The Ancestor’s Tale and The Selfish Gene are not, specifically, a gospel for godlessness, but they do lead the reader to the natural conclusion that there need not be a god in order for life to exist.  In fact, in contrast to his assumed personality on Twitter and in situations where he is actively debating organised religion, he is positively welcoming the churchgoer.

So, here we have a credible vision of how the human race could have evolved.  An on the other hand, we have a performing monkey.  Sorry, that’s ridiculous.  Instead, we’ll have dictated creationism – the belief that the world came about EXACTLY as described in the bible.  Not much better than the monkey, possibly.  Now, I have studied the bible.  Well, I have read it and thought about the stories it contained, which is possibly more than most.  And from the earliest age I can remember, reading a children’s bible, complete with brilliant illustrations, I was unable to take it at face value.

Please bear in mind I was probably around seven or eight at the time.  At an age where distinguishing between allegory and truth – certainly that truth delivered by my parents or other notables who may have passed such a book on to me – was probably a tricky issue.  To me, it was a good story, presented in the same manner as Grimms Fairy Tales, or the works of Robert Louis Stevenson – bound and bedecked with beautiful pictures of animals, men (usually with beards) and women (usually without) frolicking in wild gardens and being unequivocally caucasian.

OK, so the issue of the first couple’s race didn’t bother me then, and nor does it now.  It’s a story.  That’s all it ever was to me, a great tale of people being thrown out of a garden, almost drowning, floating down river in a basket and parting seas which were actually red, rather than only being named as such.  As a child, I tried to assimilate the teachings it contained, and I don’t think my religious education did me any harm.

Right, on to the problem.  There are people out there, who call themselves Christians, who seem to take these writings as a literal truth.  What is written actually happened, just over six thousand years ago.  Now, we could look at their evidence in favour of this proclamation.  It’s written in a book, which indeed is based on some very old texts, some of which still actually exist.  We can choose to ignore the evidence presented which refute it – usually very effectively.  Any such written evidence is drawn from other, just as ancient texts, or from accounts of the meetings of the Councils of Nicaea etc, which ‘prove’ just as eloquently as the bible itself that the text we have now is in effect an “approved” text.  Some would think that were enough.

But no, they want more.  So we use something much newer to the majority of us than these parchments.  We use a combination of logic, reasoning, testing and review which lead the best thinkers of the ages to create ideas of how the world works.  They call these ideas Theories.  Which is probably where the scientists go wrong.

To the layman, including of course creationists, a theory is an idea.  The science community have a different word for this type of idea – they call it a hypothesis.  Once they have designed (all right, thought up) a hypothesis, they test it.  And the way they test it is not only to attempt to show it is correct, but also try (a lot harder in many cases) to show it is wrong.  Once they have tried it, and shown it is as right as they can make it, they give it to their mates.  Now, sometimes their mates are friendly, and other times they are more like the “frenemies” of modern parlance.  Either way, they try to mangle this hypothesis too.  Genuinely, they try as hard as possible to destroy the (often times life’s-) work of their muckers.  And if they fail, then the hypothesis becomes gradually more and more accepted.

Sometimes, indeed you could say often – it takes years for a hypothesis to become accepted.  Once it is, it is generally given the title of a Theory.  It’s still open for debate, and as methods of testing become more and more accurate, they can be shown to be wrong.  When they are, a new theory may arise to take its place.  It is, and always will be, the best possible answer.

Which leads me back to my main point.  Opinions.  When we want to attempt to see within a problem, or discuss a topic which may be controversial, it seems fairly reasonable to call on the most educated (and sometimes eloquent) among the multitude of opinions available to present the case for a particular theory.  And we listen in amazement as our world is – suddenly – more beautiful.

Then we go wrong.  It seems fair, in any debate, to call for a voice of dissent – an opposing view to counter the argument.  This happens even when the argument is as simple as “the sea is wet” but never mind.  My main problem is, the majority of opinions which are counter to the well thought out, and extremely well tested theories of evolutionary biology, and certainly the most vocal ones, are from the creationist church.  People with no genuine scientific interest in testing their ideas, or even discussing them at all.  And yet, because opinions are all believed to be valid, we have to accept every counter-point as a valid one, and even give credence and (tellingly) air-time to these people.

So, I feel slightly sorry for Dawkins and his troupe of well meaning and enlightened colleagues.  While he may have studied for decades to reach the peak of his field, and be considered a renowned expert by those whose opinion I’m sure he values, the general public’s opinion of him reflect what he is possibly best known for:  Arguing against god.

And because their opinions matter just as much, that will be the truth for years to come.

Now, he may be happy with that, and I would agree with many others that religion is the cause of so much suffering and pain worldwide, and that there is no evidence for the existence of anything supernatural (note that I did not say this is evidence against god…) but I do think his work on gene-based evolution is one of the most beautiful works in modern scientific history.  And it has been overshadowed.

I don’t know Prof Dawkins, although I would like to meet him one day, I do have a couple of questions regarding speciation he may be able to answer.  I do however hope this man, who introduced us to the word meme and laid out probably the most credible explanation of our own origins, can eventually come to mean more than that to us all.  He is just one example of the way in which, because even uninformed, biassed and divisive opinion is now considered the most important trinket out there, our minds become clouded by disinformation and rhetoric rather than true learning.

I am, though, hopeful.  Science is enjoying yet another renaissance.  The age of the geek is upon us, and with modern society ever more reliant on those technologies which would not be possible without the science I love, I think the future may be one where opinions are weighted, more credible when they come from a reputable source.  Perhaps this is our opportunity to demand so.

So turn off the vox-pops.  Disregard the ‘balanced view’.  Listen to those who have shown they are trustworthy, and – above all – give yourselves and your children the tools to combat propaganda, hate, and fear of the unknown:  Education, patience and understanding.

Viva la Evolution.

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82 thoughts on “The Entitlement of Opinion.

  1. You have some good points here, I have not read Richard Dawkins but I may look him up. I think and I hope that the world is kind of shedding its skin at the moment in the sense that I think people are beginning to understand that you can have faith in things without believing that everything written in a testament is the objective truth and that believing that certain scientific theories does not have to mean that you do not believe in any kind of god or divine presence. For any intellectual to have peace of mind, I think you have to accept that there is no reasonable theory that you can 100% disprove or will ever be able to. I do see your point about the givers of opinions, but also all individuals should be aware of their own ability and responsibility to recognise truth. Very thought provoking discursive writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. we are not entitled to our opinions. we are entitled to voice our opinions….what does it even mean to be entitled to an opinion? are people so afraid of someone depriving them of their opinion that they must assert that they are entitled to it?how would someone even go about depriving them of their opinion? the statement is vacuous and used in the frequent occasion when someone can no longer defend their opinion…it’s an out in order to avoid listening to the other person and perhaps changing your opinion..it’s purely illogical…for more on why you’re not entitled to your opinion…..https://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978

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      • I don’t think people are really confusing anything in their minds…like they know what they mean when they say the phrase. I just think that the phrase has become so commonplace that no one really thinks about what the phrase actually literally means. It sounds less insulting and also less, I guess, close-minded, then saying “I’m not gonna change my opinion, even though I see that your point is better then mine.” I’m not 100% sure but I bet you that this phrase didn’t come into use by people demanding their freedom of speech. I bet it came into use exactly how it is used today…in order to avoid having to change one’s opinion in the face of better arguments….also there’s no point in saying “I’m entitled to voice my opinion” to a person who’s letting you voice your opinion but not agreeing with you and posing a dissenting opinion. people realize that would be absurd…but that just tells you that what people are confused about is just the literal meaning of the phrase.

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  3. The problem is who is the expert and who is not. I note that some experts use their friends who are in their corner as proof of their positions. Then in turn they are positively viewed by others of the same ilk. They are cluster acknowledgements.

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    • If my post led you to believe that I think science IS always objective, I apologise. I certainly didn’t mean that. It can only possibly be my own fault. I am still learning this communication lark.

      Very interesting link, which I also enjoyed. The humour was intentionally hilarious, and in all it was much less onanistic. Thanks.

      C

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      • Nicely backpedaled, copious points awarded.

        My patience is on a short leash for scientists and Jesus freaks alike these days. Zealots are zealots and I bristle before a hard sell lecture on any topic. I retract my zealous delivery.

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  4. So I’m not a scientist, was never really dedicated to the field, but this is a really interesting article. I think that the example you used to further your point is very specific and while you make a persuasive case for it, I don’t believe your argument would hold if you widened the scope. For example, if we took a completely different issue, maybe one that isn’t so black-and-white,like a controversial social issues (gay rights, foreign policy, whatever) I really begin to wonder…what is the “right” opinion? When it comes to issues whose answers are not so apparently clear, who should lose their right to express their opinion? Basically, I’m asking, who gets to decide what should be said allowed, what should be heard and by whom? And what would be the solution? Censorship (because that’s what you seemed to be implying) of “bad” opinions? (Re)Indoctrination of people with “wrong” opinions? Please don’t mistake me, I think this is a really fascinating point – and I’ll admit that I enjoy playing devil’s advocate – but I’d really love to here what others would think of this. Thanks for the article!

    -Valentine
    Flux: Encountering Adulthood
    http://www.fluxforum.com

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    • Hi, and thanks for the comment.

      One thing I wanted to do was step away from the issues per se, and try to concentrate on the dangers inherent in equality of opinions. Another example would have been to ask a random assortment of people in the 17th century whether we live in a geocentric or solar-centric ‘world’ – the vast majority believed and would opine that the sun goes around the earth, but the most learned at the time were questioning that ‘truth’. So on the basis of opinion, the truth would have been wrong. I’m glad I didn’t use this example. It’s not a great one.

      Personally, when it comes to who should lose their right not to express their opinion but to have it bequeathed with credibility by the media, it would be those people unwilling to accept new evidence and thereby change their stance. If you will continue to hold forth that something is true even when shown – demonstrably so – that it is not, in my opinion your credibility is blown. I am all for lively debate, and censorship is FAR from my intention.

      A problem arises when we discuss many subjects – the producers look for alternative opinions (seems fair) but in order to maintain a ‘balance’ they opt for the most diametrically opposed point of view. So rather than having two academic types offering their contrasting opinions on a subject, we end up with one of them and a raving lunatic. Not only are we wasting a lot of time, but the academic we are listening to may be just as wrong as Bozo the clown. It’s like speaking to the minister for education, and to get a balanced/opposing view on the subject speaking to the Monster Raving Loony party (Note for readers outside the UK – this is a REAL political party…) instead of the shadow education minister.

      I don’t have a solution, but I am hopeful for one. Hence the title of my little blog.

      Thanks again,

      C

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  5. A well-written post and I believe, or hope, that your intentions mean well. Unfortunately, I feel you do your cause an injustice in being so close-minded as to not want to hear the other side. In the name of science, you are choosing the socially acceptable side in a progressive society. What I don’t understand is why evolution is just a theory and not a law. Don’t you think if it was an indisputable fact that it would be a law by now? Shouldn’t you as a scientist question the validity of this theory and closely look at the possibility that another answer exists?
    Whether right or wrong, those that believe in a higher power have something an evolved animal could never have: Hope that there is life after death. Why take away the hope of the billions of religious people around the world? Is it just to support your argument, your opinion, that you are a superior intellectual being?
    You condemn yourself in your opening statement as a hypocrite. By voicing your opinion and not willing to listen to those that differ, I would have to agree.

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    • Hi Randolph,

      Thanks for your reply. I’m glad you picked up on my intentions. I have already touched on the ‘selective deafness’ issue – or being close-minded – in another reply, which I have only just posted, so don’t want to sound defensive. If this post gave you the impression that I am only wanting to hear one point of view, I wrote it badly. My point was intended to be about the validity of opinion, not whether we should hear both sides of an argument.

      To try and provide a lay-person’s response to your questions as to why evolution is a theory rather than a law, I think we can use the terms interchangeably for the purpose of this discussion. Laws change over time, as do theories – and in my understanding science is based on a willingness to change opinions based on new evidence, or more accurate data. Unlike a mathematical Theorem, it will never be set in stone because the ability to measure further or in finer detail will always exist. I am no scientist myself, but I respect the scientific process, and I hope I have done it some little justice.

      To answer your last point, I don’t wish to take people’s beliefs away from them – certainly not in order to bolster my own (weak) viewpoint. I don’t challenge them to prove their god exists but when it comes to scientific debate on the origin of life or our own humble beginnings, I don’t think people who base their entire belief system on their own interpretation of a chosen ancient text are reliable witnesses.

      Thanks again,

      C

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      • C, thanks for your timely response. Your reply reads completely different than what I perceived in your original post. Like you, I am no scientist and respect the process as well. However, I think a lot of science is conducted to prove a point rather than to discover truth.
        Enjoy your New Scientist and I will go back to my ancient text and maybe along the way others can find a middle ground where Creationist are respected intellectuals and Evolutionist are not subjected to the Inquisition.

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  6. I enjoyed that. And I agree. I grew up with the notion that you can have opinions about subjective issues. But facts are facts, science is science. So yes, of course people can be of the opinion that the world was created in six days, but then I’d have to say that their opinion is wrong.

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  7. Well, the worst part is that only a few people really have opinions. I’ve noticed that people trust experts whether that “expert” has a clue or not. I’d say we should more often doubt all these theories and look for proofs either for, or against them. Thanks to the internet, everything gets re-chewed in so many variations, and what shines through most often is just trivial stupidity and dumbness. People often assign some decision rights to very incapable and profoundly not-at all scientists or experts, and later wonder how did it all go so wrong.
    There exist lots of theories, not only that one of evolution from the ape and that one implemented in Christianity. There are theories and reasonable and informed guesses about the alien-related origin, as well. In fact, we shouldn’t be sure about anything which cannot be proven with high grade of certainty. Whether you like it or not, the bible still has provided us with the shortest and most explicit moral code: it was valid 1000 years ago, and it is still today. The problem is that people make laws, but forget to observe them. They make regulations and look for all possible excuses not to comply with them.
    In fact, every opinion should be welcomed if it is based on some original assumptions and educated viewpoints. Too bad, most of this stuff gets interpreted in an unacceptable way, leading lots of people to false and delusive understanding of reality.
    It is hilarious how much trusted are experts, but some other people with simply valid and reasonable opinions: are not. Just because they don’t scream that out loud and on every street corner and on every internet advertising site.
    I read your post with interest, but I cannot agree that some of us should be allowed to think on our own and some not. Entitled. We are closer than ever to distinction with all the mutations getting permanently encoded in our DNA, our society is getting sicker and sicker, both mentally and physically thanks to great theories which had no base whatsoever, but became popular since those were EXPERTS who announced them. Well, it’s time to rethink everything and maybe make our own conclusions based on REALITY.

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  8. Thank you for allowing us, laymen, to understand you’re most abundant and amazing of thoughts. I know feel I am allowed to express my own words freely, without the use of someone having to back them up. It’s so liberating to know that the thoughts in my head are not voices, but my own self having an opinion. How grateful to have run across this blog post. I am truly blessed and Enlightened.

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  9. Hear. Hear. Eloquently put. Something that need to be said. Some call today the ‘Years of Entitlement’ where everyone feel ENTITLED to everything – their so-called ‘rights’, their precious sensitivities, their over-inflated self-importance and of course their opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Far too often, here on the Internet, I am reminded how little I actually care for hearing the opinion of most. It seems so many folks are simply coming from a corner of contrariness that it’s almost pathetic. It would seem opposition is the vector of the day.

    Right, or not right, I am glad the internet allows folks to have the opportunity for their soapbox moment, or their fifteen minutes, as it were.

    But, having an opinion, and being able to freely express that opinion without fear of reprimand, is something we should all cherish. No matter how annoying it may be 🙂

    http://www.zerobelief.com

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  11. I think being entitled to your own opinion is what people say when they know deep down there is something not quite right about their opinion. Because if I know I’m right, I don’t go out of my way to let anyone know that I am entitled to think so, I just know so. I.e if someone is making a racist comment I don’t think “oh well they are entitled to voice their opinion” no, I think racism is wrong and if they don’t consider being open minded on the matter then their argument is invalid and so is their opinion.

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    • Unfortunately, we are plagued today with Politically Correct thought patterns. Or what I like to term as “Group Thought”. Where you automatically disclaim someone’s “racist opinion” as being “wrong”…well…they are entitled to think or believe any stupid, silly, or downright ignorant thought they care to harbor. For any of us to expect to have the freedom to maintain our own, we must stand up for the knuckledraggers of the world as well.

      Also, Right vs Wrong. Evil vs Good. These are all things based on perception. Perception, must like the times, change. And varies from person to person. Society, pressure, atmosphere, etc, all come into play.

      Please, reconsider whether or not you automatically invalidate someone’s opinion simply because you don’t like the tone or sound of it. Look deeper. Talk to them. Question without accusation, simply to come to a greater understanding about why they feel the way they do. You still may not care for their opinion, but, you’ll understand them better in the long run. And your sense of what the real world is will have been enlarged.

      I’ve said it once already, and it bears repeating….the moment you invalidate someone elses opinion merely in the sake of being “PC”, or Good, or Right rather than Evil or Wrong…well, you are doing just as much harm to your own rights to have and voice an opinion as you are to theirs.

      Please, put some thought to this. Put idealism aside. And think about what I’ve said from a mature and world perspective.

      You may still disagree with me, but at least you will have put your brain through the paces, and that is all that matters.

      http://www.zerobelief.com

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      • she’s right…no one’s entitled to their opinion…their entitled to voice their opinion because freedom of speech is a human right…I’ve already commented on this in this post.it doesn’t mean anything to say you’re entitled to your opinion…what people really mean when they use this phrase is “I am entitled to stop the conversation right now because I don’t want to listen to your views on the subject because they disagree with mine….this is the only context in which you ever see this phrase used and if you take the literal meaning of the phrase that meaning doesn’t correspond to the meaning that people intend to get across when they say this phrase..if people were being honest ,they would just say “I don’t want to hear your opinion.” but instead they say “I’m entitled to my opinion” which if you consider that no one is actually trying to take their opinion away from them…..how would you even do such a thing?….the statement is vacuous inso far as its literal meaning….in short you are entitled to what you can argue for…your wrong …yes in order to stand up for our freedom of speech we invariably have to stand up for the knuckledraggers and their freedom of speech as well…but that’s different from saying they are entitled to their opinion…like I said they are entitled to voice their opinion in a free society…I don’t consider racism invalid because of itts tone or its intonation whatever that means….I consider it invalid because 1) it harms the people its directed against which if you care about people is kinda important and 2) it’s illogical and irrational….there’s a difference between creating an environment in which racist opinions are free to be voiced and creating an environment in which they are either ignored or embraced and allowed to perpetuate and grow…you have not grasped that difference..I can understand where racism comes from and still denounce it…there are entire academic disciplines dedicated to doing just that…you tell me how does the world change if people …actual people…don’t challenge forms of discrimination and oppression…it doesn’t..plain and simple…I hope my response has put your brain through the paces as you say.

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      • What I suggested was making an effort to better understand the source of the opinion that comes across so repugnantly.

        What I said was that people are allowed to have their opinions, and to voice them. And that both are equally important. There *are* societies today (as well as in the history of this wonderful little bauble we call the planet earth) where having an opinion and voicing it would result in anything from imprisonment to torture to death. This is what we need to prevent. This is why we need to embrace those that have and voice different ideas. To understand them. And to preserve our own rights merely by the act of doing so. This does not mean supporting their ideas. Not in the slightest.

        Of course, racism is bad. But, there is a natural propensity in all of us to have some degree of xenophobic thoughts or concepts in life. This is something that has to be accepted. Words, thoughts, can all change over time. Opinions can as well.

        If you want to actively discourage something, actively discourage ACTING on those thoughts and behaviors, as well as attempting to get to know the source of those who harbor different opinions than your own…by doing these acts alone and promoting it, there’s a good chance you’ll get the ones who have the racist thoughts to eventually see the light and change their ways.

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      • oh wait…now that I re-read her comment I see she said she doesn’t believe racists are entitled to voice their opinion..,..which I disagree with..my bad…of course they are entitled to voice their opinion in a free society…but that’s different from saying that they are entitled to their opinions…which is a vacuous statement

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  12. A brilliant article. That said, I think opinions have their place. I completely agree that they shouldn’t be prioritised ahead of the news itself, or the opinions of experts, but it’s enlightening to see how other people think.
    I myself know that varying opinions can be a good thing, especially if they’re voiced. Whenever I’ve written my opinion about mental health issues, for example, I’ve received mixed responses. It’s a healthy way of knowing the current state of where an issue stands.
    Just look at the Sochi Olympics. Opinion pieces on boycotting/ homosexuality went viral. Very few were written by experts on Russian current affairs, but they showed that the cause of normalising homosexuality still has a long way to go in certain parts of the world.
    http://morwennajones.wordpress.com

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  13. Beautifully written. I believe in God , of my understanding. I also believe in science. Some people may say im not really a Christian bc I dont believe everything written in the bible at face value. I believe in something greater than myself bc ut saves me from falling into a deep dark depression when evil things happen , especially to young innocent children. In order for me to survive,I dont want to have or know all the answers, I want to be able to turn the dark crap over. But I have zero tolerance for people who persecute others’ beliefs in name of Jesus bc from the very little I know of J~dawg, he wasnt judgemental and his bff was a prostitute. I dont judge others beliefs. I suck at science but I absolutely believe in evolution and I dont give a rats patootie if people judge me for that or say thats anti God. Bc the God I believe in? Accepts me for who I am.

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    • Hi Laurie – and thanks for your post.

      If I can offer anything – and it’s certainly not advice – it would be that belief in the literal truth of the bible cannot be a measure of how “Christian” a person is. In fact, anyone claiming that this is the case is surely judging you, and by doing so they fall foul of a central tenet of Christianity – “Judge not lest thee be judged” – truly marking THEM out as unchristian in their action and therefore incapable of holding such an opinion.

      I personally think that Christian actions are those of compassion and understanding, and a true follower and believer will revel in their own investigations of and wonder at their god’s creation. They will welcome thinkers with open arms and share both bread and thoughts with them.

      You are right – you don’t have to know all the answers. Neither do I, but perhaps as a non-believer myself, I am encouraged to try to find reason in the vast nothingness which I believe surrounds me. And in this void, I find great beauty. The vastness of the universe, the intrinsic complexity of the tiniest of creatures and the purity of mathematics all hold a wonder for me which reminds me of my now defunct wonder at the creation of a god. Just because I no longer believe does not mean I have forgotten what it feels like to have faith.

      I believe that each of us seeks meaning in the world. Some find it – and I sometimes envy them – in faith. Others seek a meaning in nature or the cosmos. I search for it in art and writing, but have a deep love of science, and more importantly in my opinion, the scientific principles of honesty, integrity and willingness to adapt one’s opinion to fit with new information. I find this capacity for learning truly beautiful.

      C

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      • Wow you definitely have the gift of prose too!! And in Science!! I 100 perecent agree with you in what you said here all of it! And love the phrase ..”I search for it in art in writing, but have a deep love of science..scientific principles of honesty, integrity and willingness to apapt ones opinion to fit with new information. I think this capability for learning is truly beautiful.” BRILLIANT!
        Im sure ill see you on the Colbert show one day, you have a way with words, have you written any books?.if you do lmk!
        I do too think that spirituality and faith is of ones own understanding or not choosing to have faith or whatever the case may be. I try my darndest to not judge bc of what you just said (less ye be.) And it makes me feel like crap when im hypercritical. The good news is that if I start to get critical and “judgy”, its bc im highly restless and discontent with myself so it makes me take a look at what im doing and how I can surrender to more peacefulness. Like right now, right as I got this notification, I was beating myself up for not managing my time better and having a messy house and sassy kids who dont want to listen etc etc. Anyways, thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment, I really appreciate that a lot, and for giving me a mental break from myself!

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      • No problem – it’s great to have your feedback. And, as a final point, not being a Christian means I can be as judgemental as I like without the guilt. The choice not to is a personal one, but sometimes I go the other way…

        Good luck with the kids, and remember – a messy house is otherwise known as a Home!

        C

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  14. There’s an exhibition of maps at Australia’s National Library. The room of “uncharted” charts grabbed my attention. Here were our forebears drawing maps of places they had never been, never seen, and couldn’t even measure. It reminded me of many conversations where speculation is opinion and opinion is fact.

    Thankfully, these old maps wheren’t the end of the story. Rather than just assume that’s how the world was organised, they got in boats and sailed out to check, to see for them selves, to explore. As time went on, those charts increased in accuracy until we now have the likes of The Times Atlas of the World and Google Maps.

    As I get older, I am determined to see more question marks and hold less opinions. I like the colour grey. It’s full of possibilities.

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  15. Agreed that there is a difference between having the freedom to speak and having a valid opinion, that being said, As a follower of Christ I still found this blog post to be interesting. I cannot deny that you as well as my atheistic friends and family members make valid points. Yet at the end of either arguement there is irrifutably no way to prove either argument. So I say, we shall see when our time ends what the outcome will be, eternal life or nothingness.

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    • Indeed, both our perhaps neither of us shall. I would refer you to an earlier reply though, I am not anti faith, but against the use of faith based opinions in opposition to scientific points.

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  16. Some people base their opinions on belief, and others on observation. The two approaches lead to very different results. If opinion is based on belief, then whomsoever argues best (has the best command of logic) wins. If opinion is based on observation, then whomsoever has the surest facts wins. But mixing belief based opinions and observation-based opinions is just a muddle, usually a confused one.

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  17. Interesting argument here. I have a few thoughts. One, what about those of us who believe God created the world via evolution? I personally believe God is a master scientist so I don’t see why He couldn’t have done it that way. What about the Bible story? It could be, in some ways, literal, if one remembers that ‘seven days’ does not have to mean seven earth days and actually, in all likelihood, does not. I know of many who believe that Adam and Eve could have been evolved-enough creatures to bear the spirits of God’s children to be the first Man and Woman.
    The second is that I’m not certain I agree with your basic idea of opinions and giving them all equal weight. An intelligent person should have the skill of sorting out dross from value when it comes to opinions. Opinions are meant not to be given equal weight and anyone who does indiscriminately give equal consideration to all opinions is either a troll or other type of conflict-seeker or else a fool. I have understood this to be common knowledge – is it not? Am I wrong? If I am wrong, then I suppose I do agree with you in this respect.
    Another thought – religion and science are neither at odds, nor should religion be proven through the scientific method. That is not the purpose of religion. I understand the physics of the world to work as I was taught in school thanks to science; I know God to exist by faith and the experiences that have built my testimony that are hardly scientific. I’m not certain if this is also what you might think since it was not fully addressed but I feel it should be stated nonetheless.
    Finally, consider someone who has had quite a few spiritual experiences and has a deep personal relationship with God. Is their opinion now totally invalid only because they have no experience in a field of science? Part of why it is hard to weigh opinions, it is a skill to do so, is because of what could constitute a worthy or worthwhile opinion.

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    • I see your point – I think – and agree with the vast majority of your statement. Unfortunately I cannot agree with the assertion that: [the bible story] “…could be, in some ways, literal, if one remembers that ‘seven days’ does not have to mean seven earth days and actually, in all likelihood, does not.” – indeed if it is literal, it MUST mean that seven days means seven days. And this is exactly what those who take the bible to be literally true mean.

      This is where I disagree with them. Once again, I am not trying to separate people from their faith, and everything else you are saying makes sense in terms of application of personal belief to the theories of modern science, but this bit is where the creationist ideal falls down. The bible is, and can be shown to be, the work of men sitting in a room deciding what to include and what to reject. They did this with solemn prayer, and hence – in their own conscience – with the guidance of god, but nothing they chose can be shown to be a literal truth. The vast majority of the clergy agree that the story of the creation is a myth, written not to tell a literal truth but an ideological one, and I have no problem with people believing whatever they choose in terms of how the world began, but I have a problem when these beliefs are presented as an equally valid counterpoint to a serious debate on how life came to exist on earth.

      I apologise if this sounds argumentative. I wrote this piece with no followers and an expected readership of 2, as an outlet for personal ires and a break from what I consider to be more serious writing, and suddenly I have been rather thrust in to the floodlights of a theological debate. Hence I’m taking things a bit too seriously.

      Thanks for your reply, and I hope you enjoyed thinking about my meandering semi-logic.

      C

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      • Honestly you did not seem overly argumentative to me. I speak up because I despise the dichotomy of science and religion, but it doesn’t seem that you too much want to put them at odds.

        I also do appreciate that you are not knocking religion – just that you’d like to not have a creationist opinion held against a scientifically backed evolutionist position, even if I very mildly disagree. And I did enjoy your meandering semi-logic, as I always like to be reminded that some people have vastly different views from myself, that they have good reasons for their views, and that there’s still always common ground that can be found. So thank you for your time, speaking with me 🙂

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  18. You say, within the context of education and society we are actively encouraged to hold opinions. That’s not the same as free speech.

    Put two experts together in the one room and you will have two expert opinions. Eloquent or not, even experts have their biases. Even writers of articles have their biases. Even I have my bias, but at least I try to learn as much as I can about both sides of an issue before deciding what I think. Whether the majority is with me or not I am happy to own the opinion. Today we are far too ready to align ourselves with the majority and allow ourselves to be persuaded by eloquent individuals rather than examining the issues for ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I was brought up as Catholic Christian, though I do oppose some statements I was taught to believe. I choose to believe what I feel is right and wrong yet still hold the values of manners, respect, caring and kindness.
    On another note; I have a newly started blog in which may relate to this in hopes of sharing opinions. Not meaning to spam, but hopeful you’ll check it out.

    alexandriaasks.wordpress.com
    Thanks

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  20. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed and for such a thoughtful post. I guess what I most wrestle with is the perpetuation of this idea that it must be either/or–God or science, creation or evolution. I am a Christian and I believe both in a God who created and evolutionary processes that describe that activity. Most of the early scientists saw their work as seeking to understand in physical cause-effect relationships the activity and handiwork of God. What is interesting is that most scientists in the university where I work regard Richard Dawkins as much of a dogmatist as Ken Ham. What I find far more attractive is a scientist like Francis Collins, the current director of the National Institutes of Health and the director of the Human Genome Project. He is dedicated to the idea that faith and science need not be at war. He helped created the Biologos Foundation with his Nobel money toward that end.

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    • I agree with some of what you say, but there is a sticking point for me. Possibly for yourself as well. Creationism and Evolution are FUNDAMENTALLY incompatible. Either one is true, OR the other, but there is NO room for both to be correct. I do not see the same dichotomy in the God/Science debate – indeed many scientists remain Christian, and good luck to them. It is when Christianity is used as an alternative to science (in the creationist or ID debate) that things fall down.

      Yes, Prof Dawkins is a dogmatic and vehemently anti-religious statesman for the Atheist ‘movement’. I happen to agree with most of what he says, in terms of the logic and science he uses in his approach. He is unapologetic in his dismissal of superstition, something which takes passion and a certain amount of raw nerve. I do like to think that as we approach an understanding of the natural world, those who want or need it will leave religion to fill the void within ourselves and the spaces in philosophy which logic and observation are unable to address. In other words, leave science out of religion, and religion out of science. They are not incompatible because they come from different viewpoints, but because they only apply to two dissolute concepts. Religion cannot teach us about the physical world, and science cannot teach us about god. That does not mean they are incompatible, but that we need to re-draw the boundaries of competence.

      I hope this reply makes sense, and thank you very much for taking the time to comment!

      C

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  21. Wider western consumer society has the depth of a puddle, which aptly reflects the depth of which many people’s opinions are based. Sadly, validity of opinion seems Hypothesis… I like the concept of hypothesis

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    • In my opinion never try to use WordPress on a mobile unless your fingers are as thin as matchsticks… Yeah so I didn’t quite finish my thought there before pressing the send arrow, back spacing, looking for a way to edit, then losing the posting, then finding it again… Anyway, restarting from ‘Sadly…’ I think I was gonna say that unless you’re a celebrity, a lot of Sheeple aren’t really interested in your opinion. Although how being a movie star/singer/sports person or TV personality – Who tend to spend most of their time concentrating on honing their own craft or publicising themselves in a way that makes them popular to as many people as possible – makes them qualified on debating the wider implications of neo-liberal fiscal economic policy, or anything else that takes more than a cursory glance at the pop news. But hey, TV land likes them…. Anyway I’m digressing here; good posting, by the way.

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      • Yeah, I made the mistake of writing my latest post on my phone. Congrats on making it through, and thanks for your thoughts.

        FYI, your post disappeared because I have to moderate comments, but showed up again because I approved it (on the phone). I have had to moderate comments for the last few days because of excessive trolling. I do post everything apart from comments which are purely personal, but still lose about 3 per day due to pure bile and hate. I’m glad you took the time to read the post before replying. Many don’t. Considering the title and content, you would be amazed how many people don’t.

        The idea of celebrities being spokespeople is nothing new, dating back to the use of W G Grace in mustard advertising (“Like Grace, Colman’s mustard leadsthe field!”) and even earlier. I think people confuse their pecuniary interest in products and causes with knowledge.

        Having a celebrity figurehead for a charity increases their income, so it makes sense for partisan communities to rally behind a celebrity voice. Where I think we agree this goes wrong is when the media seeks out a celebrity opinion purely to make a good headline.

        Thanks again, and sorry for the late reply.

        C

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      • Bile and hate! Jeez, you should read some of my stuff, I should be beating trolls of my bridge like the Billy Goats Gruff. I thought you were eloquent and intelligent in your observations ma’am. I will stop by again sometime, promise.
        Just one thing; the thing about a ‘meme’. I first read that word in a book called Unknown Man: The Mysterious Birth of a New Species by Yatri. It was an off-key, hippy-ish book, but if you stuck with it there was some really interesting (if not a bit out there) bits and pieces that further non-related reading has since confirmed to be quite accurate. I always remember a meme being describe as a like a gene, but rather than a trait that’s passed on physically, it’s a mental idea that is passed on through it just being brought out there and discussed. It’s since become synonymous with something to do with social media, but was what I’m talking about what your man Dawkins described?
        Thanks

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      • D’you know, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think RD invented the term, but popularised it with the idea of memetics – passing of information (genetic or otherwise) from one host to another and the speed of proliferation increasing with time based on the genetic benefit (importance?) of the information contained. This was then applied to proliferation on the internet, which fits the same paradigm as far as I can see!

        I recall it being a point in ‘The selfish Gene’ – one of my favourite science books.

        Please someone, correct me if this is wrong.

        The feedback I have had so far leads me to believe that I painted myself as far more of a scientist than I actually am. I am passionate about the method of scientific enquiry, and long to know more about the discoveries which are constantly happening. I am too much of a generalist to be knowledgable on specific subjects, but hope that I am able to lend discourse to the spirit of scientific enquiry, especially as it relates to arguments between professionals and laypeople (like me).

        I’m off now to look at your blog. May see you there…

        C

        (BTW, I appreciate the use of the honorific ‘ma’am’, but ‘sir’ would be more approriate and both are too genteel for a curmudgeon like me!)

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      • Oh, you’re still here… Just been reading your 50 Q’s post. I’m about to go and change my underwear. In fact, it was such a laugh I may have to change my outerwear too. It’s damn good fortune I’m not wearing wellies.

        A pleasant surprise to meet a rounded and cultured individual after all the blinkered morons whose comments I have chosen not to publish.

        *chink of home-brewed ale against Stella Artois can*

        Anyone else reading this, please sub to the Beasley Green blog. Don’t take my recommendation – it’s right there. Go on, this internet click think is helluva quick.

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  22. Very nicely put but you have to be careful on one or two points. If we take the word of the expert as gospel then the layman is silenced on all scientific matters. For example I believe that the money needed to build another Hadron Collider would be far better spent on flood defences. I believe we need to look after our world which is in a mess before we look to others. Those who combat propaganda often try to silence one side.

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  23. Ok. Here it is, something you don’t want and didn’t ask for. My opinion. Excellent article here. I agree with your underlining theme here, and you summed it up beautifully in your last paragraph. Educate, have a reason behind the opinion. Not just an empty and manufactured spewing of the mass majority. Kudos to you!

    Like

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