commenter

A fellow reader, Berkley, sent in this photo recently along with the following note: “My nine year old sister wrote this down and forgot about it. I found it this morning and I think it pretty well sums us monsters up.” Ve-ry cu-ute! Guys don’t ever forget where you came from. As far as we’re concerned, you’re still just monsters from the block. Hot monsters sweating to death. Good grief with this heat. CHILL OUT, SUMMER, AM I RIGHT?

After the jump, the five Highest Rated comments, as voted on by you, the Lowest Rated comment, the winner of the Shaq On The Set Of Grown Ups 2 Caption Contest, and the Editor’s and Associate Editor’s Choice.

This Week’s Highest Rated Comments

#4 whoa! | Jul 2nd Score:37

hey, what’s up with Topher Grace?

Posted in: The Amazing Spider-Man Is As Fun As It Is Unnecessary
#3 lawblog | Jul 2nd Score:39

I think she finally saw this:

And once it is seen, it cannot be unseen.

Posted in: Duh Aficionado Magazine: Katie Holmes Something Something Scientology
#2 lilbobbytables | Jul 2nd Score:45

Guys, I have a confession. About a month and a half ago I had a dream that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise split up. And now they did. I am not saying that I am either prophetic or have the power to control the world through sleep, but I definitely think we should all maybe be careful because there is like a 75% chance that Dinosaurs are coming back, and boy are they pissed. On the other hand, there is a 25% chance that all my teeth will fall out which will suck for me but not really affect anyone else.

Posted in: Duh Aficionado Magazine: Katie Holmes Something Something Scientology
#1 facetaco | Jul 2nd Score:90

“Yo Holmes, smell ya later!”

-Tom Cruise

Posted in: Duh Aficionado Magazine: Katie Holmes Something Something Scientology

[Assoc. Ed. Note: I'm honestly a little surprised that facetaco's comment is the number one comment this week, NO OFFENSE TO FACETACO. I'm just a little surprised. Congratulations, facetaco! You really did it somehow. Also congrats to that picture of Tom Cruise that I will never be able to forget.]

This Week’s Lowest Rated Comment

#1 canadiantuxedo | Jul 2nd Score:-10
As an atheist, I don’t see Scientology as more ridiculous than any other religion. I have noticed that many of their followers are wildly successful, so much so that I’d probably join if I worked in the entertainment industry.
Posted in: Duh Aficionado Magazine: Katie Holmes Something Something Scientology

[Ed. Note: I think you meant to say "as an atheist and a liar." I understand your sentiment here, but the idea that somehow religions are completely indiscernible from each other once you've had the wool lifted from your eyes and become truly enlightened is complete nonsense. I'm sure there are ASPECTS of Scientology that seem completely in line with all other religions, but you are certainly able to tell it apart from say, a real religion since it's not actually a religion. Incidentally, as an AGNOSTIC, I find atheists just as ridiculous as any other religion because they hold a firm conviction in something they are equally unable to truly know.]

This Week’s Caption Contest Winner

badideajeans | Jul 5th Score:17

This is what happens when you let Aaron Carter beat you at basketball.

Posted in: The Videogum Why Don’t YOU Caption It? Contest: Shaq On The Set Of Grown Ups 2

[Ed. Note: Congratulations, badideajeans! You earned it.]

This Week’s Associate Editor’s Choice

Slick shoes! | Jul 3rd Score:21

Just so we’re clear here, you’re saying that we should all go see Safety Not Guaranteed? If only they had advertisements for it…

Posted in: You Should Probably Go See Safety Not Guaranteed ASAP

[Assoc. Ed. Note: Hahaha. OOPS! But for real you should go see this movie and also you should definitely quit smoking.]

This Week’s Editor’s Choice

djfreshié | 9:52am Score:21

I know of a few blookheads who would love wwtching this video.

Posted in: Albert’s Hit Single “Booty Pop” Rings The Alarm

[Ed. Note: I will never not love anything with the word "blookheads" in it. It doesn't even have to be a comment. It could be the subtitles of a movie. Or a government document. ]

Comments (58)
  1. I won? I WON??? OMG I wasn’t expecting this… YOU GUYS!!!!! I WON!!!

    I think I have an EGOT. Oh boy, now what do I do? Write a novel? Clean my house? Wait for the tech people to tell me why my Java plug-in is failing and my page isn’t loading properly? Get a coffee?

  2. So this weird holiday week is over, let’s dance

  3. Great wwekend everyone!

    Scoooooootch

  4. “I find atheists just as ridiculous as any other religion.”

    Sorry to be nitpicky, but it always irks me when people call atheism a religion. I don’t identify as atheist, but the only thing that the word indicates is a lack of belief in gods. Calling atheism a religion is like calling someone who doesn’t play sports an athlete. Not trying to be dickish, but would you honestly call someone who doesn’t believe in a higher power “religious”?

    Sure, some people are very outspoken about their lack of belief, but let me use the sports analogy again. Gabe, you talk a lot about not caring about sports. You make fun of sports. It would be ridiculous if I called you a sports nut.

    • I don’t know, I think I agree with Gabe on this one. I would say that agnosticism is more the lack of belief in gods, whereas atheism is a solid belief that there are no gods.

      • I see agnostics as being more explicitly undecided, i.e. and agnostic would say “I really don’t know whether there are gods or not.”

        Either way, that doesn’t mean that atheism is a religion, which is all That One was getting at.

        • Well I don’t think Gabe was saying that atheism is a religion, but it is definitely a belief system. Agnosticism = lack of belief and Atheism = belief in no god. I don’t think his criticism applies to all atheists, but I agree that there is a certain arrogance to thinking that you know absolutely for sure that there is no god. Because there really is no way to know one way or the other, if you ask me. And I think comparing it to a belief in Bigfoot is a little facetious. It’s not the same.

          • Because there is no clear evidence in bigfoot, I believe that there is no bigfoot. Because there is no clear evidence of a god, I believe that there is no god. Just because the idea of god is more important than the idea of bigfoot, that doesn’t mean that the line of reasoning no longer applies.

            I only use bigfoot as an example because it’s one everyone is familiar with.

          • Also, I agree that it’s silly to claim that you know for sure either way. But I don’t think that it’s silly to firmly believe that there isn’t a god.

          • Okay other people have sort of already said it here, but no, atheism is NOT a belief system. That’s the point. As an atheist I never have to use the phrase “I believe in”… it’s not a way of describing my surroundings that I understand or am too sure that many people understand. But, hey, we all have our own. Gabe, you risked opening a whole can of worms here. Fortunately the monsters are too nice to pick you up on just how nasty your assumptions are. Agnosticism is basically closet atheism. Don’t bully.

          • Downvotes? Okay, I guess maybe Gabe didn’t start the name-calling. But Scientology was being mocked first. Which is fine, I guess. Still, comparing atheism with a belief system is still I would maintain, is to fundamentally misunderstand what “belief” means. I love you monsters all the same.

      • I understand the concept and I’m not bothered by it on its own, but since it’s been used by theists as some kind of attack (i.e. “it takes more faith to not believe”), it gets under my skin. I understand that there are plenty of brash, annoying atheists and you could compare science to their “god” and Richard Dawkins their “messiah” but those are just comparisons. But that’s not a religion – it’s a reaction to religion. Call people like this reactionaries, not religious.

        Most people who identify as atheist simply don’t think that belief in a higher power is logical. End of story. Atheism and agnosticism are still very interchangeable in modern vernacular precisely because most ‘atheists’ who are probably agnostic don’t mull it over too much. You could say they’re not ‘religious’ about it They look at modern religions and say, “Well, I don’t think that checks out” call themselves atheist and move on.

        • Right. If absolute knowledge of whether there is or isn’t a god is the standard, then there is no logical choice but to be an agnostic. But absolute knowledge is not a useful standard for being right or wrong about anything in life, because nobody really has absolute knowledge about anything. So people label themselves with what they believe.

        • There are atheists who want to convert believers, to free them, to save them, and when that fails, condemn them for their lack of lack of faith. Sounds like a religious mission…

          • There are “evangelical” atheists. However, having SOME aspects of a religion does not make them a religion. There are no rituals, no dogma, no core document, no place of worship. It begins and ends with “there is no god”. Everything else is just other stuff. Science, ethics, charity, philosophy, etc, etc, etc … those things may be touched by the atheism in that they are OFTEN framed in a religious context by religious people, but they are there own things. An agnostic, or even a religious person, can still use the same philosophy, science, etc as an atheist. The concept of secularism, or that the existence (or non-existence) of god is often irrelevant to science, as it’s mostly just an explanation without much predictive benefit.

            Of course, most atheists would probably gladly ‘accept’ the religion label if they were given tax exempt status.

            As an aside, atheism/agnosticism is often tied into a rejection of organized religion. I’m a atheist leaning agnostic. Basically, “if” there is a god, its nothing like organized religions believe it to be, and the difference between a non-existent god and a non-interventionist god that we seem to have isn’t really relevant in the grand scheme of things.

          • Only in the loosest sense of the word “religion.” Vegetarianism is also a religion, if we take your criteria seriously. I also know a lot of devotees of Radiohead.

      • Remove the posturing of the “New Atheists” from your mind, and this begins to look like a distinction without a difference.

    • I’d also like to add that we hold firm convictions in things we can’t truly know all the time. I can’t truly know that bigfoot doesn’t exist, but do I firmly believe it? Yes. What’s ridiculous about that?

    • Well, I never thought I’d take the time to defend a Gabe “Ed. Note” put-down, but I guess you never know, or whatever. Anyway, just to stick to the basic facts, I’ve got to point out that saying “atheists [are] just as ridiculous as any other religion” is in no way calling atheism a religion, but isn’t that obvious? To stick with the super loose sports metaphor, this would be much more akin to saying “I find golfers just as ridiculous as republicans”- this type of comparison doesn’t need like things at all (I’m sorry, coz I already realize how patronizing, patriarchal, and every other evil “p” this sounds, but I feel like it’s sort of turned into a mini emperor’s new clothes type of thing, so I felt the need to point out the obvious).
      Since I’m already writing stuff, I think that bigfoot thing isn’t mainly facetious or insensitive, but actually deceptive and inaccurate. If there were any established scientific field that studied (or even could study) deities (in bigfoot’s case biology or zoology) or any type of physical evidence that dealt with God, etc. (and most believers would take the universe at large to be this evidence, but that clearly isn’t acceptable to you) that was accepted by the scientific community, then that comparison could accurately be made, but it be should obvious that these arenas or areas of study are extremely different and can’t be compared.

      • Good points, and I’m sorry I don’t have much time to respond to them. I just thought the words “any other religion and the remainder of the sentence implied the connection.

        Anyway, sorry if anyone was annoyed by this thread. It’s just something I wanted to point out.

        dancing.gif

      • There is no legitimate field of science that studies bigfoot (sorry, cryptozoologists), just like there is no legitimate field of science that studies god. In both cases, we have no reproducible evidence in favor of existence, but there is also no way to disprove existence. In the case of bigfoot, we all choose to use the lack of positive evidence as reason to believe that bigfoot doesn’t exist. I’m arguing that it’s reasonable to do the same with god.

        Creationism is a perfectly valid hypothesis for explaining the existence and state of the universe, but I don’t think it makes sense to accept that hypothesis when there are hypotheses with much more evidence to support them.

        • Waitasecond, if belief in a creator = creationism, I need to get refunds for all the biology/evolution courses I’ve taken. Anyway, my whole point was that legitimate fields of science study animals and/or life on earth and create a framework for what is and isn’t acceptable data. There isn’t such a thing for god, and as far as I can tell there can’t be. One can prove that narwhals exist using the tools and the framework of biology, and one can say that there isn’t sufficient data to say that bigfoot exists. A precedent exists for proving animals’ existence. There isn’t any precedent for proving God’s existence. Really what is the amount of proof (I’m not saying there is or isn’t proof)? Is there any way to determine what is the acceptable amount of proof? There’s plenty of logical proofs, but the simplest one is the un-moved mover. So Bertrand Russell wants to call God “the universe” that’s fine, but he shouldn’t pretend that he’s not just switching labels for what could be the same thing. I think Bill Callahan has the best statement on the question with, “God is a word and the argument ends there.”

          • First of all, I meant creationism in a general sense, not just Christian creationism.

            I’m not asking for proof of anything. I’ve already said a couple of times that absolute knowledge is not a reasonable expectation when trying to answer this or any other question. You can use your “there might be evidence, but we don’t know how to find it” argument in support of voodoo, or ghosts, or whatever other idea without clear supporting evidence. Does that mean we should all claim to be undecided about the existence of voodoo or of ghosts?

          • Excellent deployment of “I Feel Like the Mother of the World”!

          • W/r/t to “creationism”, fine whatever, it is a loaded term, but I guess you’re technically right. I am still trying to figure out where I started talking about “absolute knowledge”, though. I totally understand that you know with certainty that apodictic certainty is unattainable (alright I’m being kind of a jerk here, but it is a pretty loopy/paradoxical concept). I was and still am talking about reasonable scientific evidence.You first said that belief without “reproducible evidence” is “ridiculous”. Now you’re saying that you’re “not asking for proof of anything”. If that’s just concerning this conversation and you don’t want proof from an anonymous commenter, that’s understandable albeit a little close-minded. If you mean it in general because you’re already resolved to the lack of proof and believe that it can never be surmounted, that’s a fairly unscientific stance to take, in fact it may be the most unscientific stance. If you were making a distinction between “proof” and “evidence” I think that’s silly, but I can still work with it.

            It seems that you really like the reductio ad absurdum technique but I think you jump to generalizations far too quickly, and don’t really seem to want to deal in specifics. So you switched from bigfoot to voodoo and ghosts, because they apparently don’t fall into a discrete realm of science as easily? I beg to differ. Voodoo could probably be taken up in biological terms if you’re talking about bringing the dead back to life or most of the other stuff like dolls, etc. Ghosts would be found wanting in proof in probably every field of science, because they are necessarily supposed to have discernible characteristics which could be measured/observed. God, on the other hand, has so many different and broad definitions and meanings that he/she/it doesn’t seem to have many if any generally accepted aspects that could be measured/observed, besides creating the world/universe/what-have-you, of course.

            Off the top of my head I can think of at least one widely accepted scientific idea that actually seems to have no “reproducible evidence”, namely man-caused climate change. Now I do believe in that, but I’ve never heard of any hard evidence. Of course there is evidence of climate change, but not the cause. I know it’s quite tricky to pinpoint causes, just like the cause of the universe (which I’ve noticed you keenly didn’t address). In any case if you believe in man-made climate change, I think you’re pretty much a hypocrite. Of course there are things that are accepted within the scientific community without as much scrutiny as others and most people don’t follow every tenet of the skeptical scientific method in every aspect of their lives (they would probably go crazy if they did). But I think this wavering scrutiny should be recognized.

            @catweazle, thanks (taking more words from the kinda similar “truth serum”) “it’s a good song”.

          • Generally, god falls into the realm of metaphysics. By definition, any god or godlike being has to predate the universe (therefore both time and space), and thus exists (or existed) outside of the universe. Having no knowledge of what is outside the universe, or any of the laws that would apply (we only know the laws that govern this universe because we live in it and can thus experiment to figure them out), it’s pretty much impossible to make any substantial guess as to what is outside our own universe.

            The best we can do is what we do with things that are impossible to see normally. Many of the smallest particles we only know about because we are able to predict that if these things existed or didn’t existed, we’d get different outcomes in experiments, and thus things like the Higgs Boson are discovered. So, the existence of god would have to be predicated on what kind of effect they have on our universe. While it would be nearly impossible to cover something as vague as “any possible god” in terms of existence, it could be possible to do specific instances, since something like the Judeo-Christian God has a book that points out specific types of divine intervention. In general though, it would seem that divine intervention would be a case of some kind of superceding of normal laws of physics and the like. Now, due to scientific rigor, it’s quite possible that ‘miracles’ would be chalked up to experimental error, or otherwise would be rare enough to not skew results enough to be statistically significant, or could possibly be offset the otherway to fix the stats, and thus qualify for the ‘mysterious ways’ label. Ultimately, most of it comes down to a case of “there is no way to test, and no way to predict”. It’s hypothetically possible for there to be proof of divine intervention just by having the basic laws of physics breaking down, but for the most part, if there ‘is’ a god, they are subtle enough that any evidence is indistinguishable from things operating as normal, both in terms of followng cause-effect, the laws of physics, and statistically within the predicted probabilities.

            Aliens may be a better analogy than Big Foot. It’s quite possible, especially base on our own science and knowledge of the universe (speed of light, etc) that, were there aliens more advanced than us, we probably would never meet or know about them, since there needs to be a lot more advancement needed before long distance travel or communication would be practical. So, it’s possible to believe in aliens, and a complete lack of evidence or way to test for that evidence wouldn’t shake it. There are some differences though. It’s easier for there to be ‘proof’ (it’s just unlikely we’d find proof, even if aliens exist). Also, the existence of aliens is based on a logical inference … life exists on earth, and evolved into an intelligent species. If there are a number of Earth-like planets (which seems to be the case based on current evidence), some would probably also have life, and some could evolve intelligent life at some point. The logical jump of “similar conditions might have similar results” is smaller than guessing there is something that exists outside of time and space.

          • To WillYumm:

            Yes, I was making a distinction between proof and evidence. I’m not sure why that’s silly. I don’t think it’s scientific at all to talk about “proof.” Scientists talk about evidence and confidence.

            I think you’re really stretching if you’re saying that the reason we’re not all undecided about the existence of voodoo and ghosts is because those subjects are covered by science. There are endless metaphysical ideas that I could have used as examples here.

            Also, I’m a hypocrite if I believe in man-made climate change? I’m no expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure that the greenhouse effect and the correlation between industrialization and temperature increase are pretty well documented.

            Anyway, I feel we’re getting off track here. The whole point that I was originally trying to make is that it’s not ridiculous (as Gabe claimed) to believe that something doesn’t exist based on a lack of evidence for that thing’s existence. Just because a definitive case can’t be made either way for the existence of god, or bigfoot, or voodoo, or ghosts, doesn’t mean that we should be forced into remaining undecided in our beliefs about these subjects. I don’t think it makes sense to firmly believe in the existence of any of them, because such a belief would be unfounded. Remaining undecided or believing in non-existence are both reasonable options, because neither is contradicted by the lack of evidence. The idea of a god just doesn’t make sense to me personally, based on what I see in the world around me, so I choose to believe in nonexistence.

            You seem to disagree with the whole notion that there is a lack of evidence for the existence of god. You’ve argued that either the evidence is there but we are incapable of detecting it, or that the evidence is right in front of our faces, and I just don’t recognize it. Well, evidence that is not detectable just isn’t evidence, and the supposedly apparent footprints of god (the existence of the universe and the existence of life, for example) have alternate explanations that are more verifiable.

  5. GABE, choose a side, either there is a god or there isn’t (i believe there is), agnostics are like the independents of religions, CHOOSE A SIDE

    • Agnostics are like people who say they’re from ‘Central Jersey’. THERE IS NO CENTRAL JERSEY. PICK A SIDE. GAWD (no pun intended.)

  6. I hate to pull out my PhD card (NERD ALERT) but, I have to disagree with Gabe on his description of atheists, and put in a shot at agnostics as well.

    Philosophical theology (or a-theology) tends to break atheism down into two categories: strong and weak. Strong atheism is like saying “I know there is no god/gods” while weak atheism is simply saying “There is no evidence/not enough evidence to warrant belief in god/gods.” While I may agree with Gabe to an extent that strong atheism about god/gods *in general* is not warranted, one can very easily be a strong atheist about particular religions, like Christianity or Scientology, i.e. their particular god/gods stories are impossible to believe. Weak atheism is more warranted for god/gods in general, i.e. there’s not enough evidence to believe in their existence, so we are warranted in our non-belief. This does not make atheism a religion (i.e. something with tenets of faith), but if someone was a strong atheist about everything you might consider it close to an ideology rather than a religion.

    As for agnostics – well, it’s a cop-out position. The only way one could truly be an agnostic is if they believed there was ample enough evidence on all sides, enough to hedge your bets and say you don’t know. Yet, most agnostics are more likely *weak atheists* as per the above description, but unwilling to admit it for cultural or social reasons. If you asked an agnostic whether they thought miracles professed by the Catholic Church were true, or that there was enough of a balance of evidence to make them as possibly true as they are false, I doubt very many would agree with that balance (in fact I’d bet 99/100 agnostics would agree with the atheist that it was not a miracle or a sign from god).

    • Weak atheists is a way for strong atheists to redefine agnostics as atheists. To my mind it’s an idiotic “nuh-uh” invented by a philosophical school that wanted to be more inured to criticism. Saying to someone “I get to use the words I want to use to define your beliefs,” is fucked up! It’s privilege! You don’t get to define what I call myself in an attempt to muddle jargon!

      • Atheism is not a philosophic school. Both terms are being deployed in ways very specific to our historical and cultural moment. Atheism is a very old word with a varied history (Christians were accused of atheism for not believing in the Roman gods), while agnosticism is a word made up in the 19th century. You make a fair point about people being free to define their own beliefs, but let’s also be fair to atheism too: this comments board is overstuffed with people defining it in a pretty shallow, limiting way. Gabe’s original distinction is sophomoric.

    • Your definition of atheists and agnostics seems really specific to how a person feels about Christianity. I consider myself an agnostic. I was raised Catholic and at a certain point decided the whole thing was ridic, and that’s how I feel in a general sense about organized religions. But the question of “Is there a higher power of any kind” doesn’t need to be viewed through the lens of organized religion. I believe that there could well be something out there that could fall under the definition of “god.” Personally I highly doubt that it would be anything like the gods of the major religions if it did exist, but I accept that there’s a possibility. Ultimately it’s not something that’s important to the way I live my life, so I don’t feel the need to declare a faith in anything or to categorically dismiss all religion and spirituality.

      I always find it really insulting when people refer to agnosticism as a cop-out, when to me it’s just open mindedness.

      • I used Christianity as an example because I am guessing most people on the blog will be familiar with it, but the dichotomy between strong & weak atheism holds regardless of what religions one chooses.

        I stand by my criticism of agnosticism. It is completely compatible with the position of atheists who hold that since there is no proof of supernatural forces or deities, non-belief is justified. Someone who is agnostic has accepted the basic idea that we do not have proof of god(s) therefore they are reserving judgment, which is the same as current/temporary non-belief in god(s). So in that case, agnostic reservation of judgment on god(s) functions the same as atheistic non-belief due to lack of evidence (I agree it is not the same as the strong atheists who believe they know a deity does not exist).

        The question I pose for agnostics, though, is twofold:

        1. Do you really believe the possibility of god(s) is 50/50 with its/their non-existence? Or, do you lean more in one direction or another?

        2. What proof would be required to prove to you that god(s) exist? For instance, a creature claiming to be a god could show up and produce items by a seemingly magical process that our technology cannot understand, to the point where we could declare it magic. However, it might be possible that in the future we would acquire the knowledge or technology to understand that this creature was not a god, but rather an advanced alien species. At what point what you reserve judgment? Or, would there be a level of proof for you early on that would convince you of its existence as a deity?

        This is why I have trouble with agnostics, because I do not see how in an answer to the first question most people (including myself) would respond that the possibilities were balanced (I lean more to 99.9% that deities do not exist) and in the second question, I’m not sure one could devise a test to prove something was a god rather than a highly advanced alien, and thus not a god (unless one redefines what a god is, of course). So therefore it seems to me that the weak form of atheism encompasses the majority of what people would call agnosticism.

        • You’re presupposing that agnostics are waiting for proof and intend to “make a decision” at some point. Again, religion and spirituality is not important to me in my life. I just accept that I don’t understand where the world came from or how it works. If you asked me to name a percentage chance between no god and a god who resembles the Christian God, I would be a 99.9%-er like you, but I have a much broader definition of what could be considered god than that. So yeah, I would say there’s as much chance that there’s some kind of force tying things together as not. But I honestly don’t think about it that much. Because I know I’m never going to know in my lifetime, and I don’t really care.

  7. I am an atheist who agrees with everyone that Gabe is a dumdum, but I’m still making fun of everyone who spent more than three sentences arguing about the existence of God on a pop culture/ web junk site.

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