Dan Dennett: Responding to Pastor Rick Warren

Dan Dennett: Responding to Pastor Rick Warren

It’s wonderful to be back. I love this wonderful gathering. And you must be wondering, “What on earth? Have they put up the wrong slide?” No, no. Look at this magnificent beast, and ask the question: Who designed it? This is TED; this is
Technology, Entertainment, Design, and there’s a dairy cow. It’s a quite wonderfully designed animal. And I was thinking,
how do I introduce this? And I thought, well, maybe
that old doggerel by Joyce Kilmer, you know: “Poems are made by fools
like me, but only God can make a tree.” And you might say,
“Well, God designed the cow.” But, of course, God got a lot of help. This is the ancestor of cattle. This is the aurochs. And it was designed by natural selection, the process of natural selection,
over many millions of years. And then it became domesticated,
thousands of years ago. And human beings became its stewards, and, without even knowing
what they were doing, they gradually redesigned it
and redesigned it and redesigned it. And then more recently, they really began
to do reverse engineering on this beast and figure out just what
the parts were, how they worked and how they might be optimized —
how they might be made better. Now, why am I talking about cows? Because I want to say that
much the same thing is true of religions. Religions are natural phenomena —
they’re just as natural as cows. They have evolved over millennia. They have a biological base,
just like the aurochs. They have become domesticated, and human beings have been redesigning
their religions for thousands of years. This is TED, and I want
to talk about design. Because what I’ve been doing
for the last four years — really since the first time you saw me — some of you saw me at TED
when I was talking about religion — and in the last four years, I’ve been working
just about non-stop on this topic. And you might say it’s about
the reverse engineering of religions. Now that very idea, I think,
strikes terror in many people, or anger, or anxiety
of one sort or another. And that is the spell
that I want to break. I want to say, no, religions
are an important natural phenomenon. We should study them
with the same intensity that we study all the other
important natural phenomena, like global warming, as we heard
so eloquently last night from Al Gore. Today’s religions are brilliantly
designed — brilliantly designed. They are immensely powerful
social institutions and many of their features
can be traced back to earlier features that we can really make sense of
by reverse engineering. And, as with the cow, there’s a mixture
of evolutionary design — designed by natural selection itself — and intelligent design — more or less intelligent design — and redesigned by human beings who are trying
to redesign their religions. You don’t do book talks at TED, but I’m going to have
just one slide about my book, because there is one message in it which I think this group
really needs to hear. And I would be very interested
to get your responses to this. It’s the one policy proposal
that I make in the book, at this time, when I claim
not to know enough about religion to know what other
policy proposals to make. And it’s one that echoes remarks
that you’ve heard already today. Here’s my proposal, I’m going to just take a couple
of minutes to explain it: Education on world religions
for all of our children — in primary school, in high school, in public schools, in private schools
and in home schooling. So what I’m proposing is, just as we require reading, writing,
arithmetic, American history, so we should have a curriculum on facts
about all the religions of the world — about their history,
about their creeds, about their texts, their music, their symbolisms,
their prohibitions, their requirements. And this should be presented
factually, straightforwardly, with no particular spin,
to all of the children in the country. And as long as you teach them that, you can teach them anything else you like. That, I think, is maximal tolerance
for religious freedom. As long as you inform your children
about other religions, then you may — and as early as you like
and whatever you like — teach them whatever creed
you want them to learn. But also let them know
about other religions. Now, why do I say that? Because democracy depends
on an informed citizenship. Informed consent is the very bedrock
of our understanding of democracy. Misinformed consent is not worth it. It’s like a coin flip;
it doesn’t count, really. Democracy depends on informed consent. This is the way we treat people
as responsible adults. Now, children below the age of consent
are a special case. Parents — I’m going to use a word
that Pastor Rick just used — parents are stewards of their children. They don’t own them. You can’t own your children. You have a responsibility to the world, to the state, to them,
to take care of them right. You may teach them whatever creed
you think is most important, but I say you have a responsibility
to let them be informed about all the other creeds
in the world, too. The reason I’ve taken this time
is I’ve been fascinated to hear some of the reactions to this. One reviewer for a Roman Catholic
newspaper called it “totalitarian.” It strikes me as practically libertarian. Is it totalitarian to require
reading, writing and arithmetic? I don’t think so. All I’m saying is — and facts, facts only;
no values, just facts — about all the world’s religions. Another reviewer called it “hilarious.” Well, I’m really bothered by the fact that anybody would think
that was hilarious. It seems to me to be such a plausible, natural extension of the democratic
principles we already have that I’m shocked to think anybody
would find that just ridiculous. I know many religions are so anxious about preserving the purity
of their faith among their children that they are intent on keeping
their children ignorant of other faiths. I don’t think that’s defensible. But I’d really be pleased
to get your answers on that — any reactions to that — later. But now I’m going to move on. Back to the cow. This picture, which I pulled
off the web — the fellow on the left is really
an important part of this picture. That’s the steward. Cows couldn’t live without human
stewards — they’re domesticated. They’re a sort of ectosymbiont. They depend on us for their survival. And Pastor Rick
was just talking about sheep. I’m going to talk about sheep, too. There’s a lot of serendipitous
convergence here. How clever it was of sheep
to acquire shepherds! (Laughter) Think of what this got them. They could outsource all their problems: protection from predators,
food-finding … (Laughter) … health maintenance. (Laughter) The only cost in most flocks —
not even this — a loss of free mating. What a deal! “How clever of sheep!” you might say. Except, of course,
it wasn’t the sheep’s cleverness. We all know sheep are not exactly rocket
scientists — they’re not very smart. It wasn’t the cleverness
of the sheep at all. They were clueless. But it was a very clever move. Whose clever move was it? It was the clever move
of natural selection itself. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer
of the structure of DNA with Jim Watson, once joked about what he called
Orgel’s Second Rule. Leslie Orgel is a molecular
biologist, brilliant guy, and Orgel’s Second Rule is: Evolution is cleverer than you are. Now, that is not Intelligent Design —
not from Francis Crick. Evolution is cleverer than you are. If you understand Orgel’s Second Rule,
then you understand why the Intelligent Design movement
is basically a hoax. The designs discovered
by the process of natural selection are brilliant, unbelievably brilliant. Again and again biologists are fascinated
with the brilliance of what’s discovered. But the process itself is without purpose, without foresight, without design. When I was here four years ago, I told the story about an ant
climbing a blade of grass. And why the ant was doing it
was because its brain had been infected with a lancet fluke that was needed
to get into the belly of a sheep or a cow in order to reproduce. So it was sort of a spooky story. And I think some people
may have misunderstood. Lancet flukes aren’t smart. I submit that the intelligence
of a lancet fluke is down there, somewhere between petunia and carrot. They’re not really bright.
They don’t have to be. The lesson we learn from this is: you don’t have to have a mind
to be a beneficiary. The design is there in nature,
but it’s not in anybody’s head. It doesn’t have to be. That’s the way evolution works. Question: Was domestication
good for sheep? It was great for their genetic fitness. And here I want to remind you
of a wonderful point that Paul MacCready made
at TED three years ago. Here’s what he said: “Ten thousand years ago,
at the dawn of agriculture, human population, plus livestock and pets, was approximately a tenth of one percent
of the terrestrial vertebrate landmass.” That was just 10,000 years ago. Yesterday, in biological terms. What is it today? Does anybody
remember what he told us? 98 percent. That is what we have done on this planet. Now, I talked to Paul afterwards —
I wanted to check to find out how he’d calculated this, and get
the sources and so forth — and he also gave me a paper
that he had written on this. And there was a passage in it
which he did not present here and I think it is so good,
I’m going to read it to you: “Over billions of years
on a unique sphere, chance has painted
a thin covering of life: complex, improbable,
wonderful and fragile. Suddenly, we humans —
a recently arrived species no longer subject to the checks
and balances inherent in nature — have grown in population,
technology and intelligence to a position of terrible power. We now wield the paintbrush.” We heard about the atmosphere
as a thin layer of varnish. Life itself is just a thin coat
of paint on this planet. And we’re the ones
that hold the paintbrush. And how can we do that? The key to our domination
of the planet is culture. And the key to culture is religion. Suppose Martian scientists came to Earth. They would be puzzled by many things. Anybody know what this is?
I’ll tell you what it is. This is a million people gathering
on the banks of the Ganges in 2001, perhaps the largest single gathering
of human beings ever, as seen from satellite photograph. Here’s a big crowd. Here’s another crowd in Mecca. Martians would be amazed by this. They’d want to know how it originated, what it was for
and how it perpetuates itself. Actually, I’m going to pass over this. The ant isn’t alone. There’s all sorts of wonderful cases
of species which — in that case — A parasite gets into a mouse
and needs to get into the belly of a cat. And it turns the mouse
into Mighty Mouse, makes it fearless, so it runs out in the open,
where it’ll be eaten by a cat. True story. In other words, we have these hijackers — you’ve seen this slide before,
from four years ago — a parasite that infects the brain
and induces even suicidal behavior, on behalf of a cause
other than one’s own genetic fitness. Does that ever happen to us? Yes, it does — quite wonderfully. The Arabic word “Islam”
means “submission.” It means “surrender of self-interest
to the will of Allah.” But I’m not just talking about Islam. I’m talking also about Christianity. This is a parchment music page
that I found in a Paris bookstall 50 years ago. And on it, it says, in Latin: “Semen est verbum Dei.
Sator autem Christus.” The word of God is the seed
and the sower of the seed is Christ. Same idea. Well, not quite. But in fact, Christians, too … glory in the fact
that they have surrendered to God. I’ll give you a few quotes. “The heart of worship is surrender. Surrendered people obey God’s words,
even if it doesn’t make sense.” Those words are by Rick Warren. Those are from “The Purpose Driven Life.” And I want to turn now, briefly,
to talk about that book, which I’ve read. You’ve all got a copy, and you’ve just heard the man. And what I want to do now
is say a bit about this book from the design standpoint, because I think it’s actually
a brilliant book. First of all, the goal — and you
heard just now what the goal is — it’s to bring purpose to the lives
of millions, and he has succeeded. Is it a good goal? In itself, I’m sure
we all agree, it is a wonderful goal. He’s absolutely right. There are lots of people out there
who don’t have purpose in their life, and bringing purpose to their life
is a wonderful goal. I give him an A+ on this. (Laughter) Is the goal achieved? Yes. Thirty million copies of this book. Al Gore, eat your heart out. (Laughter) Just exactly what Al is trying
to do, Rick is doing. This is a fantastic achievement. And the means — how does he do it? It’s a brilliant redesign
of traditional religious themes — updating them, quietly dropping
obsolete features, putting new interpretations
on other features. This is the evolution of religion that’s
been going on for thousands of years, and he’s just the latest
brilliant practitioner of it. I don’t have to tell you this;
you just heard the man. Excellent insights into human psychology,
wise advice on every page. Moreover, he invites us
to look under the hood. I really appreciated that. For instance, he has an appendix
where he explains his choice of translations
of different Bible verses. The book is clear, vivid, accessible,
beautifully formatted. Just enough repetition. That’s really important. Every time you read it or say it,
you make another copy in your brain. Every time you read it or say it,
you make another copy in your brain. (Laughter) With me, everybody — (Audience and Dan Dennett)
Every time you read it or say it, you make another copy in your brain. Thank you. And now we come to my problem. Because I’m absolutely sincere
in my appreciation of all that I said about this book. But I wish it were better. I have some problems with the book. And it would just be insincere of me
not to address those problems. I wish he could do this with a revision, a Mark 2 version of his book. “The truth will set you free.” That’s what it says in the Bible, and it’s something
that I want to live by, too. My problem is, some of the bits in it
I don’t think are true. Now some of this
is a difference of opinion. And that’s not my main complaint,
that’s worth mentioning. Here’s a passage — it’s very much
what he said, anyway: “If there was no God
we would all be accidents, the result of astronomical
random chance in the Universe. You could stop reading this book
because life would have no purpose or meaning or significance. There would be no right or wrong and no hope beyond
your brief years on Earth.” Now, I just do not believe that. By the way, I find — Homer Groening’s
film presented a beautiful alternative to that very claim. Yes, there is meaning and a reason
for right or wrong. We don’t need a belief in God
to be good or to have meaning in us. But that, as I said,
is just a difference of opinion. That’s not what I’m really worried about. How about this: “God designed
this planet’s environment just so we could live in it.” I’m afraid that a lot of people
take that sentiment to mean that we don’t have to do
the sorts of things that Al Gore is trying so hard
to get us to do. I am not happy with that sentiment at all. And then I find this: “All the evidence
available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition that
the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind
as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets
of reality have their meaning and explanation in this central fact.” Well, that’s Michael Denton.
He’s a creationist. And here, I think, “Wait a minute.”
I read this again. I read it three or four times and I think, “Is he really endorsing
Intelligent Design? Is he endorsing creationism here?” And you can’t tell. So I’m sort of thinking,
“Well, I don’t know, I don’t know if I want
to get upset with this yet.” But then I read on, and I read this:
“First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the Flood, God irrigated
the earth from the ground up.” I wish that sentence weren’t in there,
because I think it is false. And I think that thinking this way
about the history of the planet, after we’ve just been hearing
about the history of the planet over millions of years, discourages people
from scientific understanding. Now, Rick Warren uses scientific terms and scientific factoids and information
in a very interesting way. Here’s one: “God deliberately shaped
and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail
that created you.” I think that’s false. Now, maybe we want to treat it
as metaphorical. Here’s another one: “For instance,
your brain can store 100 trillion facts. Your mind can handle
15,000 decisions a second.” Well, it would be interesting
to find the interpretation where I would accept that. There might be some way
of treating that as true. “Anthropologists have noted
that worship is a universal urge, hardwired by God into
the very fiber of our being — an inbuilt need to connect with God.” Well, the sense of which I agree with him, except I think it has
an evolutionary explanation. And what I find
deeply troubling in this book is that he seems to be arguing
that if you want to be moral, if you want to have meaning in your life, you have to be an Intelligent Designer, you have to deny the theory of evolution
by natural selection. And I think, on the contrary, that it is very important
to solving the world’s problems that we take evolutionary
biology seriously. Whose truth are we going to listen to? Well, this is from
“The Purpose Driven Life”: “The Bible must become
the authoritative standard for my life: the compass I rely on for direction, the counsel I listen to
for making wise decisions, and the benchmark I use
for evaluating everything.” Well maybe, OK, but what’s going
to follow from this? And here’s one that does concern me. Remember I quoted him
before with this line: “Surrendered people obey God’s word,
even if it doesn’t make sense.” And that’s a problem. (Sighs) “Don’t ever argue with the Devil. He’s better at arguing than you are, having had thousands
of years to practice.” Now, Rick Warren
didn’t invent this clever move. It’s an old move. It’s a very clever
adaptation of religions. It’s a wild card for disarming
any reasonable criticism. “You don’t like my interpretation? You’ve got a reasonable objection to it? Don’t listen, don’t listen! That’s the Devil speaking.” This discourages the sort
of reasoning citizenship it seems to me that we want to have. I’ve got one more problem,
then I’m through. And I’d really like to get
a response if Rick is able to do it. “In the Great Commission, Jesus said, ‘Go to all people of all nations
and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do
everything I’ve told you.'” The Bible says Jesus is the only one
who can save the world. We’ve seen many wonderful maps
of the world in the last day or so. Here’s one, not as beautiful
as the others; it simply shows
the religions of the world. Here’s one that shows the sort of current
breakdown of the different religions. Do we really want to commit ourselves to engulfing all the other religions, when their holy books are telling them, “Don’t listen to the other side,
that’s just Satan talking!”? It seems to me that
that’s a very problematic ship to get on for the future. I found this sign as I was driving
to Maine recently, in front of a church:
“Good without God becomes zero.” Sort of cute. A very clever little meme. I don’t believe it and I think this idea,
popular as it is — not in this guise, but in general — is itself one of the main
problems that we face. If you are like me, you know
many wonderful, committed, engaged atheists, agnostics, who are being
very good without God. And you also know many religious people
who hide behind their sanctity instead of doing good works. So, I wish we could drop this meme. I wish this meme would go extinct. Thanks very much for your attention. (Applause)

100 Replies to “Dan Dennett: Responding to Pastor Rick Warren”

  1. Dear Dan Dennet running down another human being is NOT a good idea. Even trying to discredit another fellow "writer" is not good. Who asked you for your critique? After a lapse of 12 years now what are your views now of Evolution with respect to God's Creation ? It would be interesting to hear your views now in 2019 if at all you have evolved these last dozen of years.

  2. Design and redesign….hmmm where was the FIRST design came from….
    World religions….World religion is made by humans
    Inform your children….Inform and consent..hmmm teach people as responsible adult…Responsibility to the world, ghee…What is the world…
    Facts but no values…If you teach values..It is subjective…
    I think you are full of craps….

  3. Here's the thing. Dan here is talking religion/ politics. He's saying in so many words, that there really is no God and that the political ramifications of most religions are toxic in society. I have a pretty good handle on Christianity. While it's true that my faith has been co-opted by the Republican party here in the U.S. mainly to give the impression that God is on board with their platform. Their platform and frankly the gospel preached in most churches have no resemblance to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Naturally, we Christians are all going to be tarred with the same brush. True Christians have never been guilty of doing the evil things that people that claim Christ but don't know or love Him have done and will do. True Christians do not vote. We know that the problems in this world are spiritual and not political. We know that the battle to be fought is within us and that it is our success or failure in that battle will determine our judgment. You need not fear a true Christian.

  4. Regardless of what the mainstream consensus is, or how strongly they enforce it on our children and in the public square, only a fool can look out at the universe around them and think it all came into being on its own. You literally have to indoctrinate someone into that thinking. The natural condition is to recognize a design and appreciate a designer. Our kids must be told of evolution and have it beatem into them many times (as fact) to reject the design.

    Mark 9:42 (NET)
    “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea."

    That God you don't believe in… is not happy with you misleading his children.

  5. Dan, you are a beautiful person, who I wish I had met thirty years ago, both of us single, and you gay. I am learning from you now, like another father. Take that as the compliment I intend. I am a gay Wiccan Elder Priest, vegan, quite Progressive, as a Green Socialist. My late sister was Agnostic, and my brother is an Atheist. Blessed Be.

  6. Making it up as he goes. Knows what Martians would think. Off to Hollywood with you. They deal with occult and magic.

  7. Oh yeah, a proper indoctrination with "no particular" spin is most certainly the answer to producing children who believe exactly what you WANT them to believe.

  8. Didn't he do that whole Atheism + thing where they tried to cajole everyone who is atheist into a list of explicit beliefs?

  9. I also thought the proposition to be hilarious. Not ridiculous, just the oposite: I think the proposition is great. I find it hilarious to think about the likely outcome, if it could be installed: So many parents would be so disappointed that their children turn out to be atheists after having heard of all the different fantasy tales.

  10. The ad at the end goes on to predicate one of the great inaccuracies of our time. That BMWs are for smart/better people. In reality they are for insecure people who feel the need to own a status symbol that says to the world, 'I own a BMW. Their marketing says that makes me great, and therefore since you don't have one I am greater than you.'
    Please understand these are not the musings of a jealous fool. I'm blessed with an income that makes BMW ownership well within reach.

  11. That was about the most useless talk I have ever heard. You have no argument other than you simply don’t believe in God, which is no argument at all. All of the evidence in the world points to God.


  13. God has endowed man with intelligence and reason whereby he is required to determine the verity of questions and propositions. If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible…

    – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 239.

  14. Evolution? Really? That's adaptation. And humans are intelligently engineering the cows. So who designed the original? Is there any evidence from a kind evolving to another? How do you explain the origin of life? This man is a fraud with a pre-seted Marxist thinking. And finally, atheism is the reason for 100 million dead in less than 100 years. How about that for a fact? In their book, "The Encyclopedia of Wars", Alex Axelrod and Charles Philips listed the 1763 documented wars of the human history, classifying only 123 as releigion based – only 7% of the total wars – causing less than 2% of the total victims.

    By contrast, in just under one hundred years, during the twentieth century, it is estimated that atheism, adopted by the most horrible doctrine invented by the human mind, a doctrine that still haunts mankind today, socialism, has produced over 100 million dead. And this did not necessarily happen in times of war, but in times of peace, the enemy being individual or entire communities that were identified as enemies by the state. Sounds or seems unbelievable? Only for those who do not know that Hitler, Stalin, Pol-Pot, etc., were all socialists. And they had another thing in commkn: atheism and the naturalist, darwinist world view.

  15. A lot of what was presented about religion is correct, but it also apply to the religion of climate change. I also agree with the teaching of worlds religion to children is great. I just don’t trust government to do it.

  16. That COW is HUGE if this is not photoshopped. Dairy cows are just not normally that big! (Dairy State). “Noah had never seen RAIN”??? Ridiculous. I’m 100% an evolutionist. READ “Origin of Species”.

  17. We are homeschoolers taught this religious tollerance course at home. It was incredibly interesting. We share so many common beliefs with other religions. It helps when rhe kids become teens, ours now 15 is so much wiser than his peers.

  18. I haven't met one minister that learned anything about comparitive theology after numerous conversations. That in itself is a key indicator that those who study the area the knowledge given is cut down and carefully purged to induct a person into only a very small p0rtion of a vast body of study. They will only ever know how to practice their brand without question, and that is a major indictment of religion as a whole.

  19. God saved me from being born before there was an atmosphere. Praise be God for saving me so I could spread the word of this miracle. The devil will keep you from believing this truth.

  20. I like Dan Dennett, but I often disagree on his conclusions. Religion is 100 percent man-made. The cow wasn't. So, that's one area of disagreement, but it is a major disagreement. As to belief in imaginary things, I personally think that's a part of a person that never grew out of believing in Tinkerbell, The Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, etc.

  21. To be God is the easiest job around: you get credit for all the good things that happen to people and your 'enemy', the Devil gets blame for all the bad things. Wow, that is so simple.

  22. the practice of inbreeding has become an art from known as empire .here [royal blue blood line] it has nothing to do with jebus,

  23. it comes down to one thing and one thing only. what love got you this far? if the bible was all about love ,why are named empires attached to it?

  24. look at the pie-chart at 23:31, consider each of the religions and think, which are the ones which are trying to force themselves on other people? which ones are doing it in a more militant way than others? from islami terrorists to mother teresa's sisters secretly baptising the sick and dying; there is a pattern with judeo-christian religions vs others

  25. A lot of bulshit.

    This guy don't know what he's talking about.

    The cognitive faculties didn't arise from chance.

  26. Christians in the threads below can go on and on about what is meant by this or that, but the real question is, is religion true or not. I don’t believe it is. Saying there is an invisible immortal being with superpowers is an extraordinary claim, and I can’t understand why anyone finds it even remotely plausible.

  27. this mam is being condemned by those with many sanctuary s across America ,and he knows it. one safe word of theocons used against truth is blasfamie . know what is in their book burners book.

  28. The other problem with atheism is that it doesn't define what a god is. The dictionary says that a god is a greater being. People who don't acknowledge the existence of a god or God should be called agnostic because they don't know.

  29. As we, humans are constituted of MICRO-ORGANISMS ( bacteria, virus, fungus…) up to 80 %, THEY are still & always will be the dominant form of life on this planete, far before us.

  30. It's such a sh… policy and its totalitarian. In an ex-communist country like mine this policy was enforced from grade1 through high school and they told only "facts". In fact they ruined 40 generations of students. It left the country in a bad shape even 30 years in democracy, its still so much corruption that requires a great flood to start over. Western Civilization seems to be in trouble with these kind of intellectuals.

  31. From where I stand I imagine seeing a priest of one religion (reason, philosophy/science) telling another priest of a different religion that his religion is false for the sole purpose of defending his societal stature. I know, that is not doing Denet's position justice, but one might look at it that way.

    Certainly, religion has mislead many and to some degree so has science from time to time (providing 'evidence' for the 'racial superiority' of the German race). Look at all human activity and see where politics (power) and primal emotions (fear) come into play and delusion is a natural byproduct, used to uphold certain power positions.

    Mankind – even the modern, western type – is not invulnerable to that. Somehow it seems the real meme is just that: politics. And it does away with decency as soon as there's power to be gained by the use of fear. Humans may have the ability to reason, but very few have the ability to reason flawlessly (if at all). Why not then look at people for what they are: beings just like ourselves with the same basic needs and flaws, the same drivers like love, hope and faith to keep them going.

    We're not a sorry bunch. We are all aspiring to some level of prosperity in the face of adversity. That is the huiman condition. The rest are memes, some of which are dangerous to ourselves.

  32. I just wasted 14 minutes of my valuable time watching this, I'm going to stick with Alan Watts and George Carlin.

  33. As it turns out Dennett is a goof ball, he doesn't hold up to the other three horsemen. However his answer to the conundrum of determinism is the best I've ever heard.

  34. If you want to believe in a self creating, auto detonating rock – the size of a golf ball – spontaneously organizing itself into the Universe and creating the dimension of time, space energy and matter, based on "laws of gravity, thermodynamics, physics and a lot of happenstance..later self animating and ultimately evolving into you and me so we could create God…go for it.

    While you believe in eternally existing matter and self creating "natural laws" smothered with buckets of "trick of chance" and fairy dust – I'll stick with "purpose" outside of time and our limited understanding of a single dimension/universe – where, in fact, there may be billions.

  35. I think a lot of people have got it wrong about religion. Religion came long after morality. Moral systems work well in localized groups, small groups that would max out at about 120 people. It's the group size of nomadic hunter-gatherers, a form of society that was the only form of society for at least a million years. But one may have noticed that that is not the kind of society most of us live in. Our societies are much larger and diverse. But also note, that these phenomena have only been present for the last ten thousand years, whereas our hunting and gathering lifestyle was dominant for more than a million years. This is where religion comes in. Religion is essentially a package deal that adds education, philosophy, and recurring ritual and celebration in order to bind together diverse groups of people into a moral system. The thing is that we need the extra package to deal with the increasing size and diversity of human society, otherwise society breaks down under these centrifugal forces. Reason and philosophy are nice, but they are not up to this job. (the philosopher justice)

  36. I would prefer to see people studying the techniques for convincing people of fanciful events and why they work so well. Hopefully we'd end the abuse of both political and religious dictators. It would also be interesting to distill the underlying principles of religious belief, both sociological and biochemical/neurological, which do have positive influence on people when understood and applied honestly. After that, if you have any time left, you can teach children the details of various religions and who stole which myth from whom first.

  37. Like his buddy (name invoked with fulsome praise) Al Gore….Dan is an insufferable, hubristic, political hack trying to disguise himself as a philosopher / scientist. Listen at your own risk.

  38. Have faith in yourself, and if its not your own experience, stop tying to convince others its not theirs, as this is true ignorance.

  39. It's important to acknowledge the distinction between religion based on man's contrivances of who the Creator is and thus all man's selfish proclivities therein and the real God of the Bible who says I am the standard, which is outside of humanity. Man has tried to pervert and recreate God's word in cults but anyone who acknowledges the True God of the Bible, repents of sin and lives accordingly will find a Peace that passes all understanding.

  40. Interesting article by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter in the Claremont Review of Books.

    "Giving Up Darwin"

    Based on new evidence and knowledge functioning proteins are extremely rare.


    "Darwinism is no longer just a scientific theory but the basis of a worldview, and an emergency replacement religion for the many troubled souls who need one."

    "But those predecessors of the Cambrian creatures are missing."

    "The obvious fact is that genes, in storing blueprints for the proteins that form the basis of cellular life, encode an awe-inspiring amount of information. You don’t turn up a useful protein merely by doodling on the back of an envelope, any more than you write a Mozart aria by assembling three sheets of staff paper and scattering notes around. Profound biochemical knowledge is somehow, in some sense, captured in every description of a working protein. Where on earth did it all come from?

    Neo-Darwinianism says that nature simply rolls the dice, and if something useful emerges, great. Otherwise, try again. But useful sequences are so gigantically rare that this answer simply won’t work."

    "If you tinker with a valid gene, you will almost certainly make it worse—to the point where its protein misfires and endangers (or kills) its organism—long before you start making it better."

  41. Primera charla TED q escucho en la q denostan a otro expositor…no leí ninguna frase de Warren en la q denostara de la misma forma al charlista o a la ciencia….solo expresaba el pastor su pensamiento…?

  42. You're right, a cow was a cow and will always be a cow. It was never a fish and will never become an elephant. He shot himself in the foot.

  43. I wonder if he would agree to teach children the alternative theories in science also? How about teaching them that:
    – Man may not be responsible for 'climate-change'
    – The Theory of Evolution in its current form is highly contested
    – Consciousness may not be 'created' by the brain
    – Special Relativity may not be correct
    – etc.

    MR Dennett is a very dangerous man. Don't be fooled by his deceptive demeanour – he isn't as honest and reasonable as he may seem…
    He revealed his true intentions when he said, 'only the facts about the religions will be taught', knowing very well that facts are not the currency of spirituality and faith The only reason he would like children to be taught about all religions in class is because he knows it will cause confusion and disbelief.

    BTW, according to MR Dennett, I did not write this comment by my own free-will…

    ..so, ?!

  44. Informing children of all religions as they grow sounds like a great idea, but there are pros and cons. On the one hand, children are not yet mature enough to discern the accuracy or validity of one religion over another, so it can lead to a lot of confusion on their part as they grow up without a religious anchor. On the other hand, though, that presumes that one religion is the "correct one" or at least the "most" right. It's a slippery slope, because you either raise your child with a focus on one single religion and increase the likelihood that the child will never stray from whatever they were taught, regardless of its accuracy, or you raise an agnostic child who is rudderless in the moral ambiguity of the world. Both approaches can potentially lead to an extreme outcome.

  45. "Democracy depends on informed citizens" fast forward to 2019: America has a retarded man-baby for president ?. Dang, maybe we should have listened to this guy.

  46. "Religions are natural phenomena." I don't know about that. It feels like we made that crap up out of thin air. Not so natural. Nevertheless, this dude is one smart cat.

  47. Anyone who thinks Rick Warren is just in it for the money has never done any research on Rick Warren. You may think he's an idiot for believing what he believes, but there is no evidence that he is a lying schemer out to amass a fortune for himself.

  48. So, as per DanThe Man's Plan, a Satanic cult can teach their devil spawn(kids) how to slay a kitten in offering to Lucifer, as long as said spawn have previously taken a few courses in world religions-got it.

  49. if you can not prove your point, by the fossil record, by demonstrative biology, this is all a cow turd.
    i suppose you believe what you are saying, but either you are ignorant or you williing lie. science is at that point where darwin is dead, there was no evolution

  50. I find it hilarious when church pukes ask for their religion to be taught by the tax payers, until the tax payers demand that all religions be taught, with a deep dive into the histories of each. Transparent douchebags!

  51. Yes that is authoritarian. I have no idea why you would think that libertarian. For the record, I am the Secretary of the Libertarian National Committee and have somewhat of an idea of what is libertarian. And saying anyone has a "responsibility to the state" is about as anti-libertarian as a statement that can be made. We have zero responsibility to the state. Many libertarians hold that the state itself is illegitimate, and those that don't, only assign a negative function to the state – it must not violate rights.

  52. Hey Dan, did you win? … Taking on "The Purpose-Driven Life" did you win?

    Dan, I think you have so many great points. Everyone should learn about as many religions as possible. Find out why, or what, makes them beneficial to humanity. … Taking on the Purpose-Driven Life.. well, that sort of defeats the whole point. Kinda makes it all just about being anti something… And, that really is too bad.

    Since this is my first time hearing of you, and since this is 12 years old, it's pretty clear to me that you did not succeed in hating on Mr. Warren's version of Christian philosophy. What's the point in learning about all these different religions if you aren't going to have an ear to gain anything from them, or did you have a different agenda all together? …

    Seriously, what a truly disappointing TED talk.

  53. 建立一个让宗教成为研究的对象的学科,而不是让其经书教义的研究(认为经书100%正确的前提下)成为一种学科。

  54. Democracy is a fallacy, it's really mob rules. MT bennett knows this. That's why he proposes his policy. Informed consent is also a fallacy in today's world. Example, there are 56 genders. Everything is social political and in many ways, society tries to impose its own religion, it's just not called that.

  55. God had no help.

    As a biologist, I know that macro evolution could be proven in the span of a year…introduce numerous environmental stressors to induce change in your choice of bacterial species.

    We know this, and it's been attempted, but never has a genus change been observed.

    The new religion of science is doing what numerous old religions have done…paint other religions as false, to garner support for their own religion. No different.

  56. A member of the Secular Coalition for America giving me advice? No thanks. Influenced by Richard Dawkins? No thanks. He wants me to look into his beliefs when he won’t do the same with mine. Interesting.

  57. Atheist here. Using money that was extorted from peaceful people (taxation) to fund a school is totalitarian, and is the opposite of libertarian ideals. Requiring those schools to teach anything; including reading, writing, and arithmetic – and world religions – would simply be an extension of that totalitarian system. Please, for the love of liberty and critical thinking, read some Mises and Rothbard…and google Voluntaryism!

  58. Man, you are astray as the cow with no one to guild it, when the truth comes to you , hope that you are still walking on this created earth, and those who follow you are in trouble if they believe in you. Allah is your Lord, and Muhammad is His messenger, you'd love to replace that fact with your way of life and culture, you poeple have not done well ruling the world and now you deny your Lord, ok, we'll see… Mockery will beset you on all sides, wake up before it's too late for you.

  59. at 24:37 – to say …."they are being very good without God" …Well the truth is that if they are in fact being very good then they are following God without realising it. Fact is they probably just 'think' they are being good but are in fact being evil without knowing it.

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