I can't decide if I prefer the candidate for President who says we should consider all the facts before deciding when to withdraw troops from Iraq or the one who says we should consider all the facts before deciding when to withdraw troops from Iraq.

On a marginally related note, I can't help wondering whether McCain and Obama are both closet atheists. My hunch is that they are.

McCain is famously quiet about his faith, which is strange for a Republican candidate. And you have to wonder what five years in a prison camp does to your belief, assuming his buddies who didn't make it out were praying too. My hunch is that he's not a believer.

Obama came to Christianity about the same time he realized it was useful to his future ambitions. He seems like a pragmatist to me. The majority of people at his education level aren't believers. My hunch is that he isn't a believer either.

I won't quibble if you disagree. It's just a feeling I get by watching how they operate and how they present themselves. The truth will never be known. What's your hunch?
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Aug 10, 2008
I know putting such things out here on the Internet make me unelectable for any kind of office, but I can't help but hope that both are closet atheists. I hate to think that policy may be influenced by fairy tales and hallucinations.
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Aug 8, 2008
Missed you this week, Scott. Hope you're okay. Saw the following today and thought of you. Admittedly, it's biased in the sense that it's written by a conservative politician. But it'd be interesting to see if your economists come up with similar thoughts:
Aug 5, 2008
As a person who has no investment in this particular election other than the amusement factor, Mc Cain has to be at least 3/10ths alien and Obama is rather cute in side view, therefore, why isn't Dogbert competing??

is being a closet atheist punishable :( ?? In which case I want to be a scientologist :((
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Aug 4, 2008
Asking anyone if they believe in god while implicitly telling them that you won't trust them if they don't is really asking to be lied to. Much as the republican candidate in the last season of the west wing says....

I giver a 50/50 for obama and a proper lip service work for Macain

And to anyone who claims that there are plenty of well educated religious people- well yes- on the general basis that there are plenty of people, and you are more likely to meet people who have app. the same views as you do because of the work you have and the company you keep- from my perspective working at a biology department at a major European university it seems that everyone I meet is an atheist- except of course the muslims. Of course this is not generally true- even in Europe.

However statistically the higher education people have the less likely they are to be religious- and yes a number of us do pay proper lip service- that does not mean you actually believe. It can however be useful if you don't want to upset your mom
Now this is in Europe where no-one is going to bother you for denying god- in the US midwest atheists were were voted the least trusted- with I believe with exception of homosexuals- possibly because it's assumed that the homosexuals are also atheists.
In the US I anyone with political ambitions should lie about their religion. It's not malicious, because it doesn't affect their work, but it can ruin their carers.
Aug 2, 2008
rwiedeman: well put. Not sure I agree with the "Obama is more calculating" than McCain, but I can see how he could come off that way. My problem with that statement is that I saw Clinton as the most calculating president we've seen in a while - and I think Obama "feels it" more than Clinton ever could. That is, Clinton could fake it with the best of them, but I get the sense that Obama really believes in what he is saying. Or he is much better at faking it.

As to your last point - a monkey making decisions by throwing a dart and playing in his poo would make better decisions than Bush, eh?
Aug 1, 2008
My hunch is that McCain actually worships America, like a goddess. He speaks of her that way, and I do see the real twinkle in his eye when he speaks of serving her, not Jesus. I think Obama worships inspiration -- regardless of what kind. He just wants to get that swell-chested feeling into whomever is listening, so he can lead them.

I find McCain more authentic, and Obama more calculating, but think both are essentially good men. And either one will do a better job than Bush.
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Aug 1, 2008
bbarber3: "if evolution is so grounded in fact and there is such undisputable evidence of it's truth, why are the people who espouse it so afraid to have anyone question it?"

We're not afraid, we're annoyed.

1. Lay people don't feel compelled to question the theory of relativity or quantum theory. Why do they think they can contribute anything meaningful to evolution, something that takes people years of advanced study to understand.

2. The "arguments" commonly thrown at evolution are all sophomoric and easily discredited by anyone who even has a cursory understanding of the subject.

3. Scientific theories are CONSTANTLY questioned and challenged. Go look at the proceedings of any major scientific conference. Scientists disagree with each other all the time and challenge each others findings with gusto. That's why the system works. That's why engines are designed by scientists/engineers and not by random people grabbed off the street.
Aug 1, 2008

I'm curious, if evolution is so grounded in fact and there is such undisputable evidence of it's truth, why are the people who espouse it so afraid to have anyone question it???? Isn't that the essense of the scientific method?? Question everything.

Let it stand the test of doubt, if it is true it will stand, if not then a better theory will replace it. I hope I have taught my children to question everything they read, hear or see in books, on tv, etc., regardless of whether there is a sticker to tell them to.
Jul 31, 2008
As usual, the arrogance of the skeptic community shines through. I'd suggest reading this: http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2008/07/chiming-in-on-atheists-have-higher-iqs.html
Jul 31, 2008
I've gotten that feeling before too Scott, lets hope you're right.
Jul 31, 2008
Kinda makes you wonder how many people out there claim to believe in a religion, but don't actually, because they feel have to for whatever reason (be it they live in a country where their lives would be in danger, or because of family - ie unwilling or unable to dissappoint parents).

Jul 31, 2008
I am an atheist, yet for practical purpose I tend to say I am a catholic, because it's easier to explain and my family is, so probably they have a better understanding of my values, although I do consider myself an agnostic/atheist (don't know which).
Plus here in Mexico (specially in the north), people tend to be biased against non believers.
Regarding Obama/McCain, does it really matters? Probably people on their position would be above those kind of beliefs anyway. If they say they believe in God, the following of religion guidelines will/should be on a lower priority than on doing what is best for their countries.
How can you deal with the "You shall not kill", when you are waging war on several fronts?

Jul 31, 2008
It's hard to trust what any politician says or does because the American people support obvious yet soothing lies over honesty. Both McCain and Obama have suffered defeats from telling the truth, and have learned to manipulate the system over the years.

If McCain were to go to the trouble of attending church every week for purely political purposes, why not go to the trouble of making a point to speak out about his 'beliefs' the way Bush and Obama have.

Jul 31, 2008
I've long suspected Obama to be a closet atheist simply due to his upbringing, apparent intelligence, and the philosophical standings of his parents.

Rick in China:

You might update your definitions of "atheism" and "agnosticism" to, well, define them properly. Atheism deals with belief, and agnosticism deals with knowledge. Neither term implies any degree or state of certainty. As an atheist, I find that a critical distinction.

Jul 31, 2008
I was never a POW, but I did serve (in the Marines). However he may feel now, I doubt that Senator McCain was an atheist while a POW.

Also, I don't know if it has anything to do with faith, but McCain is one of the few congressmen who hasn't taken earmarks (pork) back to his home state. That does not seem to be the "norm" in DC. I nay not agree with him on a number of issues, but balancing the budget needs to be about lowering expenditures, not about raising taxes.
Jul 31, 2008
Delius1967. wow, what arrogance. You alone know how people are supposed to act to show YOU that they believe in God, or a higher power. This is really such a relief; if we wish to know if someone is a believer we'll just ask you.
Jul 31, 2008
I think I offended some people last night:

I live in a moderately affluent subdivision in eastern Cobb County, GA, which you may remember as being (in)famous for putting "evolution is just a theory" stickers in biology textbooks (try telling that to someone w/MRSA). anyway, my son was in a swing on our playground when another parent told her daughter not to run behind Jake because the swing always comes back to which I sort of spontaneously replied:

"yeah, but this is Cobb County - Newtonian laws are just a theory and I'm pretty sure F=MA isn't in the bible..."

needless to say there were a couple of other parents standing around who didn't see the humor in my comment... the irony is that despite the influence of these folks the schools our neighborhood's in are definitely top tier and our high school (Walton) is a respected name in any college's admission office.

and yes, I do realize that F=G*M1*M2/D^2 and/or A=V^2/r would have been more appropriate but it just doesn't flow off the toungue as nicely... ;-)
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Jul 31, 2008
A lot of politicians are closet atheist, but it is good for their career to be Christians. People vote for candidates who are similar to themselves, or what they want people to see in themselves. We are irrational beings. Frankly, the Obama fever is similar to the iPhone hype. Owning an iPhone gives you an illusion that other people think you are cool.
Jul 31, 2008
Shadowrider: are you really suprised that in a BIBLE STUDY GROUP you find a higher percentage of highly educated people who believe in God?

MyNDIrish: I think you have to make a distinction between people who say "yes" when asked in a poll if they believe in God, and people who actually do. The average person's capacity to lie (even to themselves) to boost their own self-image is almost unlimited. My opinion, if you don't act as if your belief in God is real, then it isn't. If you don't act as if you believe God matters, then you don't.

I am a highly educated person. I work in a field of highly educated (and more importantly, intelligent) people, computer science. I do not believe in God, and I do not believe for even one second that 3/4ths of the people I work with do, either. They may say they do; they may even tell themselves they do. But their everyday actions show that they simply don't consider God to be important to them.
Jul 31, 2008
Wow, Scott is like the atheist Pope, and his flock gathers, up in arms to his call. I find it mildly (but only mildly mind you) amusing that the folk who are complaining about the supposedly stupid and hostile behavior of believers are so prepared to behave in precisely the manner they condemn so strongly. How many more 'If you're a believer, you're stupid and responsible for all that is evil' type comments can Scott evoke in a single post? Allow me to address some of these issues and suggest other possible explanations.

1) "College level and higher educated people tend to be less religious". I went to university in the US. It is *not* an environment that is conducive to religion. Here you have thousands of kids, separated from their parents for the first time and taking courses in higher education among other things. Universities and rebellion go hand in hand. Here we will question all our parents taught us, by listening to strangers. Is it intelligence? Or is it mob mentality? Consider that other things that the university life thinks are good ideas: Drinking to excess, Not cleaning our dorms, Democracy sucks, Every Possible Conspiracy Theory You Can Shake A Hat At, We Should Sleep With As Many People As We Can and so forth. Our morality itself shifts, as our previous understanding of right and wrong is assaulted. And since most religions are basically collections of moral axioms, these are assaulted and made hazy as well. It is not surprising that not many folks' religion survives this. Those who retain it usually pick it back up sometime later in life, when the need to prove the world wrong fades a bit.

2) Mother Theresa Had Doubts About Her Faith. Um. Duh. Faith is all about doubt. Without doubt, there is no faith. If someone tells you they 100% believe without a shadow of a doubt then feel free to run from the crazy person.

3) 'Bush (Or insert your religious leader here) is a believer, look where that got us'. Eh? What? Look, if you're a Christian who really thinks that if he does anything immoral he'll ultimately answer for it in ways no man is prepared to face then there's no way in God's green Earth that he'd do anything considered wrong by his faith. If I recall, the Pope is pretty against the whole war thing, and the Big Guy frowns on killing and dishonesty. One of his primary rules as a matter of fact. What you SHOULD be complaining about is that he isn't religious enough.

4) 'An atheist would automatically make a better leader'. Why? Atheists are just as vulnerable to corruption as any other person. They are just as likely to act in their own self interest as anyone else. I think they'd make as good a President as a believer.

5) Who cares? What does it even matter? Let folk believe what they want to believe. If you don't believe in God/s, bully for you. If you do, bully for you too. The only time this becomes a problem is when one side points fingers at the other and jeers. both sides have individuals who are guilty of this. Can't we all just grow up?
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