Richard C. Johnson - Religion: The Failed Narrative

October 17, 2011

Host: Robert M. Price

Richard C. Johnson Ph.D. is a retired chemist and serves as Treasurer for Freethought Arizona.

For some 25 years, the company he founded worked with scientists and researchers in chemical analysis. Through family ties, Richard had long been a kind of participant observer of religion and learned well its social bonding functions, though always remaining suspicious of its metaphysical claims. He observed just too many contradictions in theory and practice to take the beliefs seriously. Here he saw the roots of the terrible present-day conflicts between religions as well as between particular faiths and the rest of the world.

Dr. Johnson is the author of Religion: The Failed Narrative, in which he urges readers to scrutinize religious claims with the simple rational methods of science. Listen to his interview with host Robert M. Price who trivializes the issues with gratuitous references to Uncle Fester and other absurdities.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

At 11 minutes into the podcast, I don’t know where Robert Price got the idea that “Occupy Wallstreet” has to do with kicking out capitalism and installing communism.  But, then, Bob Price seems rather conservative, so maybe that’s his way of dealing with Occupy Wallstreet - i.e. if you don’t like a person’s beliefs, then exaggerate them into a strawman so you can easily dismiss it.  It seemed like a flippant dismissal.

Posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 6:00pm by tinyfrog Comment #1

Nothing new at all in this interview.  Some of these podcasts are just drilling the same hole over and over again. POI needs to improve.

Posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 6:27pm by mid atlantic Comment #2

I am glad that I am not the only one taken aback by Price’s completely misleading and flawed interpretation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and for that matter, Marxism in general.  Where is the evidence that the movement is grounded in anti-capitalist sentiment and spurred by a Stalinistic authoritarian/totalitarian state oriented communism? There are many variations of capitalism and communism, so as to confine and cast economic systems in such a binary and simplistic fashion unfairly suppresses all philisophical nuance.  Does anyone else see the irony in his critique of Marxism as a failed narrative? The impetus of OWS is a direct response to the “failed narrative” of neoliberal/laissez faire capitalism.  How strange that this fact seems to evade his realm of thought. This warped libertarian ideology, founded on the notion of market self regulation when left to its whims, has proven a demonstrable failure of economics, and as narrative; and their is myriad incontrovertible evidence to support this conclusion.  Oddly, the truth is that Marx remains somewhat more relevant today than ever before, as capitalism culminates in the catabolism of weath; destroying the health of people, communities, and the environment in the process. 

Dogma and superstition manifests in alternate forms outside of spirits and ghosts.  Price may have shed religion, but he remains bound to the same thought process inherent in his economic ideology.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:02am by nickscott79 Comment #3

This is a classic case of the fallacy of the false dichotomy.  The protestor oppose “capitalism” therefore they are on the side of soviet style marxism.  Shame on Robert Price, not for being conservative, but for failing to be a critical thinker.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:25am by Owen Hammer 8743 Comment #4

I cannot express my feelings about Dr. Price’s straw man attack on the Occupy Wall Street movement much better than those who have commented before me. However, to those of us who are regular listeners to Dr. Price’s “Bible Geek” podcasts, this comes as no surprise, although it is hard not to cringe each time one encounters him making gross mischaracterizations of the views and motives of those who disagree with him on political matters. The interesting thing (or the most maddening thing, to some of us) is that on matters of Higher Biblical Criticism Dr. Price seems to employ the most rigorous examination, dissection,  and willingness to fully explore and understand the positions of those with differing views on the bible, yet when it comes to matters of politics he seems to take as “gospel truth” any nonsense that a certain partisan media outlet puts out there without ever stopping to question its veracity. It would seem to me that Dr. Price has rejected fundamentalist religious dogma only to embrace a type of political dogma.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:38pm by Flick Comment #5

Not a fan of when you guys allow your guests to pass off metaphysics as science.  It devalues the critical thinking perspective you are trying to cultivate. In this case I’m talking about consciousness.

I know it is a nice and warm and fuzzy feeling to feel like science basically has this topic figured out and it is just a matter off dotting the I(s) and crossing the T(s).  This is not the case.

-The subjective experience of consciousnesses has not been explained using the scientific method.  It is thought to be associated with our neural networks since it seems related to memory and thought which have been scientifically connected to our brains.  This association however is purely conjecture. 

-There is no proof that infants or animals are not conscious.  Certainly there is evidence that they are not ‘self aware’ in the same way that adults are, but there is no current way to know that they do not have some form of subjective conscious experience.  Also using the argument that people don’t remember being conscious when they were infants (which was done implicitly in the podcast) is not valid because that assumes that memory is perfect, which is demonstrably not true.  E.G. When we dream at night we often rapidly forget those dreams when we awake: Does that mean that we did not experience those dreams? No it just means we have no memory of experiencing them.

-There is no evidence that the conscious subjective experience continues after a individual dies.  It must be said though, that there is no direct evidence than it does not.  There is evidence that thought and memory stop due to their proven connection with our physical brain, but since the subjective experience of consciousnesses is not currently understood, our reasoning should stop there about its temporal boundaries unless we are intending to move into metaphysics. Again, not being able to remember being conscious before you were born cannot be used as conclusive evidence as memory is demonstrably imperfect.

When ‘free thinkers’ move past the above points into how they they happen to think the conscious subjective experience is explained by science, they are expressing what they believe or in some cases have faith in and should be called on it.  It doesn’t matter that the roots of their beliefs are based of science instead of a holy book, it is still metaphysics.

In summary, when it comes to the conscious subjective experience we have as we live our lives, science does not currently explain this phenomena.  I will be the first to get excited when and if it does.

BTW I consider myself an atheist critical thinker.

Posted on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:31am by JackOCat Comment #6

Not a fan of when you guys allow your guests to pass off metaphysics as science.  It devalues the critical thinking perspective you are trying to cultivate. In this case I’m talking about consciousness.

I know it is a nice and warm and fuzzy feeling to feel like science basically has this topic figured out and it is just a matter off dotting the I(s) and crossing the T(s).  This is not the case.

-The subjective experience of consciousnesses has not been explained using the scientific method.  It is thought to be associated with our neural networks since it seems related to memory and thought which have been scientifically connected to our brains.  This association however is purely conjecture. 

-There is no proof that infants or animals are not conscious.  Certainly there is evidence that they are not ‘self aware’ in the same way that adults are, but there is no current way to know that they do not have some form of subjective conscious experience.  Also using the argument that people don’t remember being conscious when they were infants (which was done implicitly in the podcast) is not valid because that assumes that memory is perfect, which is demonstrably not true.  E.G. When we dream at night we often rapidly forget those dreams when we awake: Does that mean that we did not experience those dreams? No it just means we have no memory of experiencing them.

-There is no evidence that the conscious subjective experience continues after a individual dies.  It must be said though, that there is no direct evidence than it does not.  There is evidence that thought and memory stop due to their proven connection with our physical brain, but since the subjective experience of consciousnesses is not currently understood, our reasoning should stop there about its temporal boundaries unless we are intending to move into metaphysics. Again, not being able to remember being conscious before you were born cannot be used as conclusive evidence as memory is demonstrably imperfect.

When ‘free thinkers’ move past the above points into how they they happen to think the conscious subjective experience is explained by science, they are expressing what they believe or in some cases have faith in and should be called on it.  It doesn’t matter that the roots of their beliefs are based of science instead of a holy book, it is still metaphysics.

In summary, when it comes to the conscious subjective experience we have as we live our lives, science does not currently explain this phenomena.  I will be the first to get excited when and if it does.

BTW I consider myself an atheist critical thinker.

  That’s a little bit off topic, but the majority of recent scientific studies on consciousness admit that they are not quite sure what consciousness is. All evidence points to the brain “doing what it does”  as the basis of consciousness however, so your criticism is not valid.

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:03am by mid atlantic Comment #7

As with several other commenters, I too was appalled to here Mr. Price’s latest strawman attack against the “Occupy” protests.

I’m astounded that the Center of Inquiry continues to invite Mr Price to host this podcast. He displays an enthusiastic and willful ignorance of political ideologies, public policies, current events, and logical discourse. *All* of which are central to the Center of Inquiry’s stated missions.  In my opinion it’s damaging to Center of Inquiry to have Mr. Price making these these wild mischaracterizations and display a lack of awareness or understanding of these sorts of issues while he is hosting this podcast. 

Sure regular listeners to his “Bible Geek” podcast are familiar with these sorts of ugly and misguided outbursts.  However, the Bible Geek does not really have a mission surrounding the promotion of evidenced based public policy and factually robust public discorse.  If the Center of Inquiry is going to continue to invite him to host these podcasts they would do well to request that he live up to the ideals of the Center of Inquiry and either express himself in a manner consistent with their mission or at least keep his various dogmatic bigotries to his own podcast.

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:20am by Denrotho Comment #8

I’m astounded that the Center of Inquiry continues to invite Mr Price to host this podcast. He displays an enthusiastic and willful ignorance of political ideologies, public policies, current events, and logical discourse. *All* of which are central to the Center of Inquiry’s stated missions.

I don’t see why. One of the hallmarks of the skeptical movement is to give a fair hearing to competing ideas and points of view on matters of opinion and inquiry. It doesn’t mean that anybody has to agree with them, and giving this man a podium to speak from doesn’t make him immune to rebuttal and refutation.

The important point in giving this man or anybody else a hearing is that you know what he’s actually saying. When you have that information, at least you know exactly what it is you’re rebutting.

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 at 10:11am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #9

One of the hallmarks of the skeptical movement is to give a fair hearing to competing ideas and points of view on matters of opinion and inquiry. It doesn’t mean that anybody has to agree with them, and giving this man a podium to speak from doesn’t make him immune to rebuttal and refutation.

The important point in giving this man or anybody else a hearing is that you know what he’s actually saying. When you have that information, at least you know exactly what it is you’re rebutting.

That does not mean the host of PoI should be spreading nonsense. It is the host’s responsibility to let the guests air their views and challenge them to defend those views. The host should not be the one proffering ideological views.

Dr. Johnson is the author of Religion: The Failed Narrative, in which he urges readers to scrutinize religious claims with the simple rational methods of science. Listen to his interview with host Robert M. Price who trivializes the issues with gratuitous references to Uncle Fester and other absurdities.

Which is precisely the reason I delete Price’s PoI interviews without listening to them. I listened to this interview to see what had people upset, and made it into the aforementioned 11-minute mark then could not take any more of Price’s blather.

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 at 7:40pm by DarronS Comment #10

That does not mean the host of PoI should be spreading nonsense. It is the host’s responsibility to let the guests air their views and challenge them to defend those views. The host should not be the one proffering ideological views.

I agree, however, you also have the option of rebuttal with full knowladge of what you’re rebutting.

And he has to deal with it since having the soapbox at his disposal is not the same thing as a free pass.

He gets to speak his piece, but he does not get to go unchallanged!

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:53am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #11

I wanted to point out that many of the comments so far have to do with a reflexive reaction to something that the host (Dr. Robert Price) said about “Occupy Wall Street.”  But the interview about the book “Religion: The Failed Narrative” has nothing to do with this protest movement.  I would appreciate comments about the book and the interview, rather than about comments that are off topic.

Posted on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:20pm by rictungsten Comment #12

I couldn’t make it through this interview.  Price’s straw-man argument against Occupy, followed by a guest that had very little or no real expertise in his field other than ‘went to church’, led me to abandon this show very early.

Nothing against the interviewee, but POI needs better guests than this, and Robert Price (even though I consider myself a fan of his writing), needs to be better informed when he decides to riff off-topic, to avoid falling into silly caricature of positions with which he disagrees.

Posted on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:23pm by tamoore Comment #13

“went to church” is a considerable credential.  How would anybody who had never been to church have any idea what religion is about?  I wrote most of this book while I was listening to sermons.

Posted on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:33pm by rictungsten Comment #14

“doing what it does”


I guess I have to defer to your exhaustive scientific justification that links the subjective conscious experience to normal brain function.  And apparently metaphysical arguments are off topic of the podcast because according to you he did not make any.  It must be nice to have it all figured out!  I commend you.

Posted on Oct 25, 2011 at 8:10am by JackOCat Comment #15

How many logical fallacies and factual errors did Price make when he characterized the Occupy Wall Street protestors as Marxists who want to destroy capitalism? Let’s see: (1) Straw man; (2) False dichotomy; (3) Slippery slope ... I’m sure there are more. The point is not whether Price agrees or disagrees with the protesters - it’s that he has absurdly caricatured the movement’s goals. I defy Pat Robertson to make a more dishonest and intellectually lazy statement.

Truly a pathetic moment in what is supposed to be a skeptical podcast. Perhaps Price can compare the protesters to Hitler next week.

As far as the Johnson interview goes, it was a low point for this podcast. The author is just rehashing the same topics without any new insights. Much of it was a folksy exposition along the lines of, “Well, it seems to me that ...” without supporting scientific or other factual rigor. Price did nothing to direct the interview in a useful direction, letting Johnson ramble for many minutes at a time. I usually enjoy the show but it was painful this week.

Posted on Oct 26, 2011 at 12:59pm by eyeconoclast Comment #16

To eyeconoclast:

Do you have any comments about the interview?

Posted on Oct 26, 2011 at 2:49pm by rictungsten Comment #17

I understand how frustrating this has to be for you Richard, but try looking at it from the PoI listeners’ reference frame. Robert Price has alienated many PoI fans. At least one long-time forum member quit subscribing to PoI because she was so fed up with Price. There are several threads here filled with people who signed up for the forums for the sole purpose of venting about Price. I considered canceling my PoI subscription, but Karen Stollznow and Chris Mooney are delivering excellent interviews, so I listen to their podcasts and delete the Price interviews without listening to them.

Adam Isaak seems unconcerned that many people dislike Price as an interviewer and is driving people away from PoI. My advice to potential interviewees: if want to be on PoI request that Stollznow or Mooney interview you. Refuse to let Price conduct the interview.

And please, Richard, let Adam Isaak know people are not listening to your views because they are so frustrated with Price.

Posted on Oct 27, 2011 at 8:50am by DarronS Comment #18

To DarrenS:

Thank you for your considerate words and advice.  I note that you may be one of if not the most posted members (2856 posts!).  I was unaware of the feelings some of the members have toward the interviewers and I certainly didn’t foresee the strong reaction I’ve read in some of the comments to my interview.  I am personally very sympathetic to the “Occupy” movement and identify with its participants.

But if I might redirect attention for a moment, I do welcome comments about the interview itself.  I know that some members apparently do not take me seriously, making it seem that I am an “armchair critic” of religion.  I have spent considerable time studying the subject for the better part of my professional life actually.  I am not an anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, philosopher, or theologian - the folks who usually write the religious criticism stuff.  But as a scientist, I believe I have valid credentials to write on this subject.

I still welcome constructive comments on my interview if commentors can focus away for a moment on any animosity they might have on the interviewer.

Posted on Oct 27, 2011 at 11:06am by rictungsten Comment #19

Richard, I downloaded the episode again and listened to it all the way through. Although I wish you had called out Price on his comments about the Occupy Wall Street movement I enjoyed your hypothesis that religion is a failed narrative. I especially liked your hypothetical $500,000 bet on someone proving anything religions claim. Your comments on Mormonism were on the mark too. After listening to the interview I ordered the Kindle edition of your book so I can read it on my iPad2.

I encourage everyone who gave up at the 11-minute mark to try again. This one is worth your time.

Posted on Oct 27, 2011 at 2:52pm by DarronS Comment #20

DarronS:

Thank you so much for your kind words.  And thank you for ordering the book.

Posted on Oct 27, 2011 at 3:35pm by rictungsten Comment #21

I was also surprised by Robert Price’ strange conclusion that the “Wallstreet Protestors” want the fall of capitalism and the rise of communism.  Strange for the host of a podcast series that advocates reason and critical thinking to have reached such a jarring conclusion regarding the meaning of the protests.  I make no claim regarding their meaning other than I don’t comprehend how Price allowed himself to voice such monochromatic interpretations himself.

Posted on Oct 28, 2011 at 6:13pm by d19jordan57 Comment #22

I’m a big fan of this show and I always get excited when I hear The Ol’ Bible Geek is going to host the show, but this was probably the worst episode I have ever heard. A rambling folksy talk on the part of the guest a kind of grab bag of reflections and opinions. I was about to turn it off but it was too late. I’d already listened to it. Hope not to hear any more of these kinds of interviews. I didn’t even have a log-in for this forum but on account of this episode I got one. I kept asking over and over, is this guy ever going to present some data or some solid reason for his beliefs, lack of beliefs, perspectives etc. etc.

Posted on Oct 30, 2011 at 5:12am by Dave Gann Comment #23

To Dave Gann:

I was wondering what kind of “data” you were expecting?  My arguments do not rely on statistics.  I believe the major problem facing folks who invest in interfaith dialogue is failure to examine what I call immiscibile doctrines (Jesus is the one true Savior of Mankind for Christians and Allah is the one true God for Muslims).  Until these irrational propositions are brought to the table and discussed honestly, conflict will continue.  My argument that we have a fundamental identity problem imbedded in the fact that we are self-aware animals is admittedly conceptual.  But I invite you to read my book “Religion: The Failed Narrative” where I discuss this in greater detail.  It’s hard to do a concept such as the ramifications of consciousness justice in a half hour interview.

Posted on Oct 31, 2011 at 12:52pm by rictungsten Comment #24

To tinyfrog, nickscott79, Owen Hammer, Flick, Denrotho, Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon, tamoore, eyeconoclast, and d19jordan57

I can’t speak for host Dr. Robert Price.  In the style of the standard disclaimer, his views do not reflect my views.  For the record, I am completely sympathetic to the “Occupy” movement.  I identify with the general tenor of the movement. Having said that, I would encourage all addressees to listen to the interview itself factoring out any distraction from the direction of Dr. Price.

I am interested in feedback both from the interview and from my book “Religion: The Failed Narrative.”  I want to bring every aspect of religion - its alleged benefits and its documented warts - to the table for the same kind of discussion one would have about a city planning project.  I welcome this from all of you.

Thanks,

Posted on Oct 31, 2011 at 2:25pm by rictungsten Comment #25

I’m just now getting around to reading the book, and have a couple comments. In location 146 of the Kindle edition there is a wod missing. Near the bottom of the page, “Social interaction results, says Carley, because the to see ourselves as a monolithic spirit…”

In the first paragraph of chapter two you state our ability to reason did not appear until two thousand years ago. The Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Greek philosophers might disagree with that statement.

Posted on Nov 01, 2011 at 3:52pm by DarronS Comment #26

DarronS:

Thank you for your comments.  With regard to the missing word, the text should read Social interaction results, says Carley, because the “ability to see ourselves as monolithic spirits different from the material world would naturally lead to seeing others the same way.”  I don’t know how the transcription process works to generate Kindle, but obviously a word was dropped.

With regard to “our ability to reason,” I was really thinking of the Greek philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates) who lived a little less than some 2500 years ago.  It’s not to say that reason absolutely began at that point (because I’m sure that it was a gradual process with many beginnings, interruptions, and beginnings).  But I believe there is a popular identification with this period (2500 years ago) as the beginning of reason in the same sense that the voyage of Columbus is popularly associated with dispelling the notion that the world is flat.  Some Greek thinkers perceived that Earth is a globe but as a popular notion, the idea didn’t gain much traction until the time of Columbus.

I appreciate your comments and look forward to more if you care to make them.

Posted on Nov 01, 2011 at 6:17pm by rictungsten Comment #27

I’ll make more comments. I finished chapter two, and like the ideas you discussed. I’ll probably make more editing comments also. It’s one of my habits. I should really take a notebook with me so I can jot down some thoughts as I read the book. Kindle isn’t the easiest app for making notes in books.

Posted on Nov 01, 2011 at 7:06pm by DarronS Comment #28

DarronS:

Thanks so much.  I really appreciate it.

Posted on Nov 01, 2011 at 7:40pm by rictungsten Comment #29

CFI is one of the regular things I listen to while walking the dog through Wiltshire, England. Half listening to start with, I slowly warmed to Richard’s approach. In the end, after all the scientific evidence has been presented, something still has to feel right for it to hold sway for most people. At the evidential level the battle is won. At the social narrative level, hearts can be won, rather than brains, and it is at this level that I sense Richard is urging us forward. I don’t think of myself as an academic, though I taught mathematics up to university level for 20 years, but I will need to look up the meaning of metaphysics online now, and then I think I’ll buy Richard’s book.

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 at 3:42am by Harvey Comment #30

Thank you Harvey.  Those were very kind and thoughtful words.  I remain available through this forum if you have comments on my book either as you read, or, in summary.

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 at 8:14pm by rictungsten Comment #31

I have been to busy with school and other priorities to read much further in this book, but I also have been unmotivated to read more of this book. This passage early in Chapter Four brought my reading to a halt:

Newton’s equations yielded contradictory results when applied to fast moving objects, such as subatomic particles in particle accelerators. Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such as bullets and baseballs.

There are several problems with this passage. There are at least two factual errors here. No. 1: there were no particle accelerators before Einstein. No. 2: Newton’s equations describe the movement of bullets and baseballs perfectly well. While I appreciate what Johnson has to say in his book, it reads like a draft copy. One more editing pass and it might have been ready for publication, but I canot recommend the book in its published form.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 2:32pm by DarronS Comment #32

Sorry you have given up so easily in reading my book.  Your objections are unfounded.  I did not mean that Einstein knew in 1905 that particle accelerators would exist sometime in the future.  Einstein’s equations were more broad in scope than Newton’s especially dealing with fast moving objects very close to the speed of light.  And finally when such speeds were realized by particles in accelerators, Einstein’s equations described them almost perfectly.  This is no different than the verification of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity when it was possible to observe the effects of gravity near massive bodies such as stars.  The point I make is that Newton’s equations applied “perfectly well” to everyday objects such as bullets and baseballs.  But they do not predict the increase in mass of an object moving at near the speed of light.  Einstein’s equation, more general, describe both.

And for your information, my final draft was draft number twelve.  My initial draft was edited ten times prior to publication and two more times during.  My editor always reminded me that the editing process is in principle never finished.  But finally she said that it would not make any sense to go any further.  During publication, a second editor mostly found minor punctuation errors.

Thank you for your comments.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:18pm by rictungsten Comment #33

I did not give up too easily. The passage I quoted is quite clear. You stated that Einstein’s equations solved the problems of bullets and baseballs. If I can catch mistakes like this on first reading then your editors failed you. You have some good things to say, but the writing mistakes keep me from recommending your book. You need an editor who knows a something about science.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:42pm by DarronS Comment #34

I did not give up too easily. The passage I quoted is quite clear. You stated that Einstein’s equations solved the problems of bullets and baseballs. If I can catch mistakes like this on first reading then your editors failed you. You have some good things to say, but the writing mistakes keep me from recommending your book. You need an editor who knows a something about science.

original statement:

Newton’s equations yielded contradictory results when applied to fast moving objects, such as subatomic particles in particle accelerators. Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such as bullets and baseballs.

Actually, in the quote you referred to you edited out two key words, “as well as”, which might be interpreted as covered by Newton, but also applicable in the later theories of Einstein, i.e. not in conflict with Newton’s theory.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:53pm by Write4U Comment #35

Newton’s equations solved the problem of bullets and baseballs.  But it didn’t solve the problem of objects at speeds very near that of light.  Einstein’s equations are the most general description of objects in motion - slow and very fast.  Are you familiar with Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem?  Together they describe what happens when human knowledge broadens to include areas beyond ordinary perception.  Newton’s equations would be eternally safe (and correct) had we not explored the structure of the atom.  They will always be correct for objects at a speed reasonably below that of light.  There is some evidence that neutrinos may be capable of traveling at speeds exceeding light.  If so as Kuhn ands Godel would predict, there may be a need to revise (read extend) Einstein’s (and by default, Newton’s) equations.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 8:05pm by rictungsten Comment #36

I believe you indicated that you are reading a “Kindle” version of the book.  The hard copy (actually the soft-cover copy) does not have the words mentioned (as well as) edited out.  I quote from the print copy: “Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast-moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such a bullets and baseballs.”  I did not approve of any editing steps going from the digital text to Kindle.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 8:19pm by rictungsten Comment #37

I believe you indicated that you are reading a “Kindle” version of the book.  The hard copy (actually the soft-cover copy) does not have the words mentioned (as well as) edited out.  I quote from the print copy: “Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast-moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such a bullets and baseballs.”  I did not approve of any editing steps going from the digital text to Kindle.

My post was addressed to my dear friend Darron…. :)

But the Kindle version has apparently “dropped” a few words, it is entirely possible they may have also edited your original statement on that subject.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 8:32pm by Write4U Comment #38

The phrase “as well as” is in the Kindle edition. Einstein’s equations did not solve any problems with bullets and baseballs, and no one knew of subatomic particles before Einstein. If this were my only problem with the book I would have mentioned it but moved on. There are other poorly written/edited passages, as well as contradictions in other parts of the book.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 8:51pm by DarronS Comment #39

The phrase “as well as” is in the Kindle edition. Einstein’s equations did not solve any problems with bullets and baseballs, and no one knew of subatomic particles before Einstein. If this were my only problem with the book I would have mentioned it but moved on. There are other poorly written/edited passages, as well as contradictions in other parts of the book.

Ok, now I understand the point you were making… :-)

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 10:26pm by Write4U Comment #40

Thank you.  Actually there was some confusion: I thought I was corresponding with DarronS but then you (Write4U) appeared.  I’m glad someone understands the point I was trying to make.  I appreciate your joining the discussion and for your comments.

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:53am by rictungsten Comment #41

Hi Richard,
Have finished my Kindle version and enjoyed it. Probably the first time I’ve read something of this nature through to the end. Russel, Dawkins and Hitchins I soak up in audiobook form. I find it difficult to comment briefly but do feel that the level at which you are pitching your arguments are the right ones for changing views on a mass scale. In the UK, the likes of Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Uncaged Monkeys and Tim Minchin are doing great things for the cause. What we really need is a Royal to “come out”! Anyway, thank you. Your book has helped to clarify my thinking and encouraged me to start organising my own ideas on paper.

Posted on Dec 04, 2011 at 3:11am by Harvey Comment #42

Harvey,

Thank you for your kind words. I do appreciate your feedback.

Posted on Dec 09, 2011 at 3:47pm by rictungsten Comment #43

I found this podcast a disappointment. The straw-man about the Occupy movement was a distraction, not that it was off topic or contained bias, but because it was inaccurate and contained harmful rhetoric. Too bad the guest missed the opportunity to check the interview, but he was probably as blind-sided as I was. I have never posted here before, but I wanted to express my great disappointment with this podcast when compared to the past traditions of PoI.

Posted on Dec 11, 2011 at 2:45pm by Ken K Comment #44

Ken K

Thank you for your comment.  Once again, I will say that I have an unqualified sympathy and support for the Occupy movement.  Perhaps it is lame of me to counter that I was “blind-sided” by the comment.  An interview is somewhat stressful - different from a normal one-on-one conversation.  I frankly heard Price’s reference as: communism is a failed narrative.  And historically, I would have to agree although communism strictly has not been practiced.  The Soviet Union had some aspects of communism but it was more largely a totalitarian dictatorship.  I actually have nothing against communism per se.  But I would agree that the Soviet state was in the end a failed state (and a failed narrative).  I was totally surprised that the larger part of the comments on the interview targeted Price’s connection of the Occupy movement with a failed narrative (through a perceived association with communism).  I’m sorry, I missed it at the time.  I was too focused on the questions he was asking me.

But I think it is unfortunate too that most people (at least from the comments) were distracted by something totally unrelated to the content of my book.  So, I gather, most would not be interested in reading “Religion: The Failed Narrative.”  I think they will miss an opportunity to consider religion from a different perspective.  In a recent presentation on Greek civilization, the voice-over (Liam Neeson) reminds us that travelling minstrels and bards in preliterate Greece travelled from village to village enchanting village folk with mythical stories of heroism and courage.  This is likely the way that holy books such as the bible materialized finally - the narrative of religion.  This in itself is not a new idea to write a book on.  But if you will read thoughtfully, I try to make the connection between an emerging consciousness (a sharp human trait) and the creation (by us) of the supernatural which is clearly the vehicle that mythic characters ride into our experience.

Too bad this was sidetracked by an off-hand comment by an interview host.

Posted on Dec 12, 2011 at 1:33pm by rictungsten Comment #45