About 10 years ago, a religious person that knows me decided that I needed to come back to religion and to that end provided me with a book. I won’t give that worthless piece of shit author any publicity here, and it isn’t important to understand the point I’m trying to get across. But bottom line, the author related this story:
As I came home late one evening, I turned on the TV and saw the David Letterman show was on. His guest was an 80-year-old scientist from England who had just won the Nobel Prize. I love the British accent, so I was drawn to listen to the conversation.
The scientist made the statement, “David, we have reached the point in science where we know for a fact that there was a beginning to this universe.” Letterman suddenly straightened up in his chair and looked with surprise at his guest. He said, “Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. If we know that there is a beginning to this universe, doesn’t that imply…. that there must be a Beginner to this universe?”….
….The scientist’s response was amazing. He stared at the floor for a moment, then looked at Letterman and replied “That is a place we don’t like to go in science.”
Bam! In your face, atheists! A TOP SCIENTIST admitted that these atheist scientists are just ignoring this uncomfortable problem of how everything MUST have been designed, because they know that only God could have done it. Drop mike!
Only no. And let me jump to the end real quick. Religious people, if you find this an intriguing story, and it helps you confirm your belief in a god, then you are just being stupid. You are being stupid, and you have no idea how shit works. Read a different fucking book sometime.
And back to the present, just why is this story so NOT intriguing? Because everything about it is bullshit, that’s why. Let’s break it down.
The characterization of what scientists do is childish.
Scientists do not spend their day, sitting around, thinking about things, contemplating the meaning of life and philosophizing about the possibility of magic. Scientists look for evidence. And once they have a lot of evidence, they check that evidence against a hypothesis. A hypothesis is not a generalization, it is a really specific statement that can be used to make predictions. Using these predictions, the scientists can strengthen the hypothesis when they turn out correct. Then they use the evidence and testing and results of predictions to confirm or deny the hypothesis. Then they check each other’s work. Only the hypotheses that survive the specification, evidence, prediction, testing, and checking process get to stay around, while the others are discarded. That’s what scientists do. They don’t imply, they don’t guess, they don’t jump to conclusions. They demonstrate.
If your proposition is general and wishy-washy, then it doesn’t matter to science because there is nothing to confirm or deny, and nothing to predict. If you aren’t looking for evidence, you aren’t doing science. And if you aren’t checking each other’s work, you aren’t doing science. And if your work gets checked, and found lacking, but you keep saying that same thing anyway, then you definitely are not doing science.
Religious people characterize science in these childish ways because they don’t understand critical thinking. Religion doesn’t look for evidence, it looks for excuses. Religion doesn’t get specific. And religion does not hold itself accountable to the predictions made by it’s practitioners, nor even the criticisms of other believing practitioners. Watching the religious discuss science is like watching a 3 year old pretend to drive a car. They just do it wrong on every level.
So no, a scientist is not going to admit to being afraid of considering an unclear proposition. A real scientist, in that same situation, would say something to the tune of “A person can imply all sorts of random conclusions. But we scientists don’t do that because we don’t have the luxury. If you want to demonstrate a god, make a specific proposition, tell me what would be evidence for or against that proposition, make a prediction, and let’s check it out.”
Nobel Laureate who?
After reading the story about this Nobel Laureate, I was already skeptical that it was real, based on just how stupid the story was. But I was also curious who this fellow may actually be. I started doing some checking, and I’ll explain my methodology.
- I looked up the name of every Nobel prize winner ever. Since the book was published in 2005, I trimmed the list to Laureates from 2005 and before. I did not even trim it by nationality or gender, despite the author being very clear that it was an English guy. No, I wanted to check every one of them. I didn’t even limit myself to Laureates in the other fields.
- I pulled up the listing of every guest on the David Letterman show ever, and cross referenced the list with Nobel Laureates.
- I searched both google and YouTube with David Letterman and the name of every Nobel Laureate in science that was male and alive during the run of the show.
- I emailed the author and asked if he could provide the name of the Nobel Laureate.
- I emailed the David Letterman show and asked if they could help me remember the name of a Nobel Laureate in science that had been on the show.
- I googled various other combinations including dropping the Nobel Laureate thing to just include scientists and David Letterman, scientists on TV, and sections of the specific wording from the book.
Now, it will come as no surprise to any of my regular readers that the entire story was made up. The only Nobel Laureates to appear as guests on the David Letterman show were Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger, neither of which are forgettable names, neither of which are scientists, and neither of which are English. One other Laureate made cameo appearances. Robert Mundell appeared 6 times on the show, never as a guest on the couch. The first he did the infamous top 10 list, three times he read jokes, once he read song lyrics, and one time he read from Paris Hilton’s book. Mundell got his Nobel in economics, and is Canadian.
Letterman did have “kid scientists” on every now and then, where young teenagers would do science experiments for the audience. None of them were in their 80s, English, or Nobel Laureates, and none of them discussed philosophy or theology on the couch.
The book author’s staff emailed me back that they didn’t have any idea who the person could be, didn’t seem interested in helping me figure out who it was, and stated that it didn’t matter because the idea was the important bit. In other words, they don’t care if the lynch-pin in their argument (that the author spent considerable time talking about) is actually true. They care that the propaganda gets through. And the propaganda was clear: Scientists are trying to prove their god doesn’t exist, but they just can’t do it.
It is a glaring example of the straw-man fallacy. Make scientists seem stupid, and put words into fake scientists mouths, and then blow it away with your weak-ass bullshit. Oh, I forgot to mention earlier, avoiding doing science and avoiding scientific criticisms by making up fake shit and pretending that it’s what scientists say so you can win an argument….. is also not science.
Same old story, or lying for Jesus.
These fucking apologists and their books. It’s like a bad record player that keeps skipping on the worst lyrics of the worst song on the worst record from the worst artist. “Some scientist admitted”, “some scientist said”, “some scientists revealed”, “some scientist told me”.
Right next to the story about how they met “some college student”, resulting in the student having an epiphany and turning to god, the “some scientist” story has to be the oldest bunch of crap in the book. It’s a strawman, but more importantly, it is an outright lie. This worthless apologist, therefore, either did one of two things. He either made up the story entirely, or he heard the story once and just adopted it as his own without bothering to check the details. I don’t know which is true, but in the one he is a charlatan and the other an incompetent, dishonest asshole. Neither are good choices, and neither are the kinds of people we should be listening to.
The problem isn’t that SOME people lie for Jesus, it’s that literally all of them lie for Jesus. Either they are making up the lie themselves, or they are repeating a lie uncritically. The entire religion is founded on lies. Entirely. Completely. Scientists aren’t afraid of answering questions, you are being fooled, and the bible is propaganda not history. One more lie doesn’t make it better.
And if that doesn’t convince you, “Some God” told me that your god is fake.
The Spartan Atheist