back to article Microsoft's Bill Gates defrag is finally virtually complete: Billionaire quits board to double down on philanthropy

Nearly 45 years to the day after founding Microsoft, Bill Gates today finally stepped down from the board to devote his time to dealing with global health issues and climate change. “I have made the decision to step down from both of the public boards on which I serve – Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway – to dedicate more time …

  1. Aqua Marina

    Would you like to be fried with that?

    Sounds more like he's trying to buy his way into heaven. Bill you are as rich as you are, by your own admission because of deceitful and lying practices, whilst not illegal, they certainly were immoral.

    I for one will happily be waiting for you to join me down below, where I'll get comfort from watching you burn for eternity because of your DR DOS, Lotus 123 and general Embrace, Extend, Extinguish activities.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

      Bill is smart enough to not believe in superstitions.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Sam Adams the Dog

          As in all else, Orwell is correct.

          How do you know he's not a prick instead?

          1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

            Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

            I too think the same. For me it's simple. When I buy a laptop for which I want to put Linux on (and that's every single laptop I'll ever buy) I still have to get one with his virus on, and then I can format the disk and remove it, but I won't get a refund. So I agree he's a cunt, and not a prick.

            1. tcmonkey
              FAIL

              Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

              So buy a machine from a manufacturer that will sell you one with Linux on it? System76 and Metabox are just two examples to come to mind without having to search around. You could also get a Mac, and those have been around a very long time. Jesus, this isn't difficult.

              There are plenty of valid reasons to dislike Microsoft, but this stopped being one a *long* time ago.

            2. veti Silver badge

              Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

              If it weren't for Windows, there would be no mass market for laptops, and you'd be paying at least twice as much for the hardware. So be thankful for what you get.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

                Nonsense. We'll never know what might have been.

        2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          Shit the bed!!

        3. Luke 11

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          You're a real piece of work. I wonder what you've ever done for the betterment of mankind.

          1. jgarbo
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            Gates stole/invented Microsoft to benefit mankind? When you graduate kindergarten I'll find you an asylum.

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

        Well, he does believe humans are going to burn in hell. Just on earth.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

        @The Man Who Fell To Earth

        Well, since you called the original poster's religious allusions "superstitions", on a comment about morality, then it's time for a reality check.

        Without these "superstitions", you would have a hard time justifying why should Bill have behaved otherwise, also known as "why should one act morally".

        Richard Dawkins maintains that it's hard to argue for objective morality outside of religion, while Michael Ruse believes that objective morality is a lie. And you have positions like consequentialism (which fails to account for intentions and for acts without material consequences) and utilitarianism (killing one innocent individual is still immoral, even if it ended poverty and global warming).

        So, regardless of your position on rationality or truth of religious faith, you have to concede that a pure atheistic, materialistic view of life is a cold, harsh reality that nobody would like to live under (or as per Dawkins, who says he's a "passionate anti-Darwinian" when it comes to politics).

        If there's no God, no afterlife and we are basically evolved earthworms out of a cesspool of amino acids out of a universe that shouldn't have happened in the first place, yet it did by some sheer luck, then who's stopping somebody who's very powerful as to be above the law (therefore a favorite of natural selection), who also happens to believe that "anything goes", from acting on this belief?

        (Your first ten tries are bound to have some religious or emotional sentiment.)

        Society would descend into something like The Purge mixed with 1984, I'd imagine.

        Yet it doesn't. And surprise, it's because of an innate morality in people, not because of the eyes of the law.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          “Society would descend into something like The Purge mixed with 1984, I'd imagine."

          But it that exactly the scenario we're currently heading into with all the far left nonsense mixed with the decline in religion.

          Jordan Peterson appears to have hit the nail on the head... Politician don't like what he is saying and the resolutely keep their heads in the sand thereby furthering the nightmare.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            Isn't Peterson the one who thinks that people are like lobsters?

        2. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          OK, I'll bite. If we are all made in God's image as moral creatures, answer me one question.

          Why does He have nipples? What is their Divine Purpose?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            You totally dodged the question being asked with an irrelevant one, but okay, I'll answer.

            God doesn't have form or shape, which is quite logical for the entity that created both.

            Forget Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" for an instant. That's an artist's own interpretation, which is false. "Made in God's image", as you explained yourself, doesn't have to be literal.

            Their "Divine Purpose"? They are "there" for some El Reg commenter to display his profound knowledge (or lack thereof).

            1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

              I do not think the word "logical" means what you think it does.

              We all know Michelangelo got it wrong. What possible use would Adam have for a belly button?

              Or nipples?

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                I do not think the word "logical" means what you think it does.

                Fancy enlightening us then?

                What possible use would Adam have for a belly button? Or nipples?

                You probably jest, but ... absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

                Not knowing the use != there isn't a use.

                1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
                  Trollface

                  Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                  Here's the thing, putting the word "logical" into a sentence doesn't necessarily make it true.

                  God created everything, logically He is therefore nothing. See? Sounds profound, but means nothing.

                  You still haven't explained why he stuck nipples on most male mammals.

                  The Guy is obsessed with the things.

                  Also, why did He make so many types of beetle?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                    You still haven't explained why he stuck nipples on most male mammals.

                    Ah, the "vestigial organs" issue again. Cool.

                    In 1983 a German anatomist by the name of Robert Wiedersheim published a list of vestigial organs in one of his books. His list included the thymus gland, the pituitary gland and the pineal gland. The function of all three has since materialised, and a whole organ system known as the endocrine system was subsequently discovered, much to the chagrin of medical students who now have a whole lot of hormones to memorise. The morale of the story is that not knowing the functionality of an organ doesn't mean that there isn't one.

                    And such a declaration in haste impedes the progress of scientific discovery of such functions. Until recently, the appendix had been considered a vestigial organ. Recently, it has been discovered to have an immunological function.

                    Also, why did He make so many types of beetle?

                    There's a whole scientific concept dedicated to answering this question.

                    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
                      Trollface

                      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                      So you can't answer two simple questions.

                      Why is God obsessed with nipples?

                      Why is God obsessed with beetles?

                      I'm sure scientific endeavour will eventually explain these things.

                      Not sure what that has to do with your imaginary, invisible friend.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                        Are you sure you did read my answer above?

                        Okay, let's try again, assuming that you genuinely don't know and are not trolling.

                        Why is God obsessed with nipples?

                        Don't know. Sure there's an answer, God didn't tell us that answer in revelation, perhaps He might do it through science.

                        At least, I'm definitely not closing off the question with "useless evolutionary by-product".

                        Why is God obsessed with beetles?

                        - to keep local biological systems of predator and prey in balance.

                        - possibly as signs of His power and creativity to us. As an engineering-minded person in biology, I can't help but admire some of the machinery in beetles, on the level of both organs and cells. This is one classic example.

                        1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
                          Trollface

                          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                          I'm glad He understands predator/prey cycles. If His solution is the same as that produced by millions of years of evolution it just comes down to deciding which is the most likely explanation. Then we just have to decide which of the thousands of gods is the correct one.

                          They all seem pretty unconvincing to me, what is special about yours?

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                            If His solution is the same as that produced by millions of years of evolution

                            Evolution left alone produces a self-destructive system.

                            Yet that point of self-destruction was "magically" avoided. Over and over and again. In a system supposedly ruled strictly by survival of the fittest.

                            Then we just have to decide which of the thousands of gods is the correct one.

                            Not an issue. Note how you jump from one argument to another, simply to avoid one question:

                            There are no gods. We have arisen out of nothing, we are doomed to oblivion. What's to prevent The Purge (yes, the movie series) from becoming reality?

                            But to answer your question: an interesting theory I hold is that the gazillion deities there are in fact one. A typical revelation from God would be like: worship the one God*. Then, priests/kings/people in charge/whoever would add in additional "subordinates" to "revere", these including dead kings/priests/good folk/whatever (insert typical evolution-of-religion-as-power-grab blurb here). Over time, these subordinates would become deities, and a whole host of myths would be spun to explain. Then, God would be forgotten, and we have our current version of that polytheistic religion.

                            This explains the fact that religion was not founded once, but a lot of times, all over Earth and almost simultaneously. Keep in mind that most religions started out unwritten for tens to hundreds of years ... count how many generations is that.

                            Monotheists do not create imagery representing an immaterial God, so don't go looking for a statue or a drawing of an immaterial God.

                            * God with a capital G in this context: the immaterial, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent being who created existence, of these attributes only.

                            1. jgard

                              Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                              There are no gods. We have arisen out of nothing, we are doomed to oblivion.

                              Well that's true at least, well done for realising!

                              What's to prevent The Purge (yes, the movie series) from becoming reality?

                              Lot's - I have answered that one at some length elsewhere in this thread, but your next one is even easier:

                              * God with a capital G in this context: the immaterial, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent being who created existence, of these attributes only.

                              The omnipresent, omnipotent benevolent being that threatens to cast people who don't lick his arse into never-ending fire and agony? Who through an accident of birth one might, or might not have heard of? Who groups of humans use as justification for kiling and torturing others, even though he is benevolent and omnipotent? Who's Holy books variously demand and describe indiscriminate genocide of whole groups of people who he doesn't like? Who describes women as chattel and supports the keeping of slaves? The stoning of non-virgins on their wedding night, or of kids who disobey their parents. The cutting off of hands? Or feet? The rape of captives?

                              The omnipotent fella that allows kids to die of luekemia, or bone cancer, or eye cancer, or typhus, cholera, or umpteen dreadful, hideous maladies because their parents are poor. Who allows people to die at random through murder, accidents, AIDS, starvation, leprosy. He whol allows the first and second world wars, the Einszattsgrupen and the murder of the Jews. The omnipotent and benevolent fella that is comfortable with all that, and if you still don't believe in him will torture you forever.

                              And before you say that you don't believe in that version of God, your's is nice and peaceful and lovely. Well many, if not most people's God is like that tyrant described above. Your's is massaged with your twentieth century morals and views of equality and pacifism. And to top it all off how do we know your's is right and the God of 15th Century Spain, or ISIS, or the Genocidal God of the Old Testament doesn't apply any more? We take your word for it I suppose? Seems legit.

                              Epicurus is again pertinent here: Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?'

                              1. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                First, this is going to be absolutely long that it's bound to cause a buffer overflow in The Register's servers. This is because you addressed so many points (in three comments!) and I couldn't leave them unanswered. Sincere apologies to The Register.

                                In two very, very long comments, you've managed to eloquently sidestep my original question: Prove that Hitler/Stalin/Pol Pot/al-Baghdadi/$tyrant has done wrong, if we're going to oblivion anyhow.

                                Well that's true at least, well done for realising!

                                Then why do we ((have to)) act morally instead of going for a psychopathic murder spree?

                                Lot's - I have answered that one at some length elsewhere in this thread, but your next one is even easier:

                                No, I won't comment on your grammar the way you have commented on my posts.

                                But I'll find that one and answer it.

                                The omnipresent, omnipotent benevolent being that threatens to cast people who don't lick his arse into never-ending fire and agony?

                                So you'd go around driving under the influence simply because you don't want to lick the arse of a traffic cop?

                                Who through an accident of birth one might, or might not have heard of?

                                Believe me, God is fair. He gives them a fair test again on the Day of Resurrection. (Muslim here).

                                Who groups of humans use as justification for kiling and torturing others, even though he is benevolent and omnipotent?

                                God or no God, humans are going to kill each other. More people have been killed in the two world wars (and under Pol Pot and Mao Zedong and, heck, North Korea's regime) than in all "religious" wars combined. And last I checked, Mao Zedong was a strict Social Darwinist and atheist who did all his "cleansing" in the name of survival of the fittest.

                                As for "God is evil", see below. Or even better - what makes "evil" evil?

                                Who's Holy books variously demand and describe indiscriminate genocide of whole groups of people who he doesn't like?

                                See my detailed answer in the reply to your third comment.

                                Who describes women as chattel and supports the keeping of slaves? The stoning of non-virgins on their wedding night, or of kids who disobey their parents. The cutting off of hands? Or feet? The rape of captives?

                                We don't do that women-is-chattel stuff here and slaves in the Islamic world have become kings ... while still slaves (see al-Mamalik).

                                As for stoning of non-virgins, etc, I'd leave that to people who believe that God actually commanded that to explain. But technically, the historical landscape back then was very different. There might have been grounds to make this practice fair back then. You could never know unless you're omnipresent.

                                The omnipotent fella that allows kids to die of luekemia (sic), or bone cancer, or eye cancer, or typhus, cholera, or umpteen dreadful, hideous maladies because their parents are poor ... The omnipotent and benevolent fella that is comfortable with all that, and if you still don't believe in him will torture you forever.

                                Short version: the non-religious wants to only acknowledge God (to make Him accountable for all that evil), but not God's afterlife. Either acknowledge both or deny both.

                                Long version:

                                This is only a "problem" for the non-religious. Surely if God and the afterlife didn't exist, these kids have died in vain. And horridly.

                                But in religion, the answer is quite simple. It's because only the present life was considered when looking at the problem. If we take the afterlife into consideration, then the picture of perfect justice is completed.

                                Nobody dies early ... If a child dies with cancer, we believe that it's for the better, it must have been for that child's best, and that the child couldn't have possibly lived a day longer. It's a test for her family, and the child would go to heaven. There's no injustice here. Of course, for somebody who doesn't believe in the afterlife, that is indeed injustice. But it simply isn't the case. We tend to feel that "the story isn't finished" with the child dying early. The answers to this "incompleteness" are different, but what matters is the innate feeling that there's definitely something missing.

                                In the afterlife, the victims have justice served. God avenges for the murdered, the raped, the unfairly treated by man.

                                If somebody has been murdered by another who claims he's doing it in God's name, then God Himself is going to avenge for the murdered from the murderer. And not necessarily in the present life.

                                That's not to say that the name of God should be used indiscriminately for murder. That's why we have laws as well.

                                But when God is taken out of the picture, all the above turns into all sorts of injustice.

                                And before you say that you don't believe in that version of God, your's is nice and peaceful and lovely. Well many, if not most people's God is like that tyrant described above. Your's is massaged with your twentieth century morals and views of equality and pacifism

                                No, I believe in the same benevolent God that Christians and Jews believe in. My deductions are simply a matter of a different, holistic perspective of "fair" that accounts for the existence of an afterlife.

                                Your description of the tyrant above is simply because of a misunderstanding (that frankly, I have had too) that omits the afterlife ... ever since Epicurus, and Epicurus isn't exactly famous for being mindful of the afterlife.

                                And to top it all off how do we know your's is right and the God of 15th Century Spain, or ISIS, or the Genocidal God of the Old Testament doesn't apply any more? We take your word for it I suppose? Seems legit.

                                No, get rid of God entirely, as in North Korea, and see how will the world turn into a blissful wonderland.

                                1. jgard

                                  Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                  I can’t prove they did wrong, no one can, but I can explain why the general consensus is that they were twats of the highest order.

                                  In common with many religious people you appear to prefer ill thought through, broad brush and simplistic solutions to complicated issues; you’re views on morality are the perfect example. I almost feel embarrassed for you, but I can’t leave such retrograde ideas unanswered.

                                  You see, hominids (yes it started before humans you know, more than 6,000 years ago!) didn’t just wake up one day and say to the other half:

                                  “Ere Barry, I’m feeling dead moral today. You know all that fun stuff we do to that tribe over the river? Like murdering their kids, raping the wives and then killing all the rest who couldn’t escape? It’s wrong. Dead Wrong! You are not to do it anymore, OK? It stops NOW. We should collaborate from now on, help them out so they will help us out, help feed their hungry when we’ve had a great harvest and they struggled. Back them up when they get invaded by that scary, funny-looking tribe from far away. You know, treat them like family, and look after them where we can, protect them.”

                                  “Why’s that love?”

                                  “I don’t know Barry, I’m tempted to say that it makes sense from a game-theoretic perspective, but as game theory is yet to be invented, that’s an explanation I will have to leave to future generations. It just seems common sense love; if we look after them, they will look after us, if we protect them like we would our own group and family, they will reciprocate. If we share food and resources, they will do the same with us and we will all prosper. We will be safer, less anxious, happier, healthier, and stronger as a group. You know, over time we will probably learn to accept other people in our larger group as almost an extension of our family. Hurting, being mean and not caring for them will make them feel bad and being nice to them will make them feel good. As we are a social species that has developed a strong theory of mind, we will have insight into their experiences. We will know instinctively that if they feel bad because of us, they will be less likely to help and protect us, and that makes us feel sad and scared. Mind you, we will still be wary of tribes from far away and those that look different, but that will reduce with time – as we become more educated. Some of our less intelligent members may continue to be horrible to outsiders for countless generations to come.”

                                  “Fair enough Margaret, you were always more of a people-hominid than me. That’s why I married you.”

                                  Of course that is certainly more likely than Barry and Margaret waking up one morning and saying: “Blimey, God wants us to be good to others!”

                                  Although the process described by Margaret didn’t come to her overnight, it did happen albeit very slowly, almost unimaginably slowly to us humans who think in terms of one or two lifetimes. But that process this has not occurred in isolation, our views of morality have developed in tandem with culture, philosophy and ethics. Crucially we have also been able to communicate between distant generations using the written word.

                                  In fact, probably the fastest ever rate of change to our ideas around morality has occurred since we had wide access to the written word, i.e. since the late middle ages. Up until that point our morality was based entirely on religion – you will recall that the slaughtering of other tribes e.g. in the crusades was perfectly fine, and actively encouraged. The Divine Right of Kings meant that theology could be used to exterminate whole populations, on a whim if need be. Women were property, there was no such thing as rape. Hanging children for theft? Not a problem. Brutal and barbaric retribution was the very basis of morality.

                                  Then there is all the state sanctioned killing, torture and genocide. You don’t like our version of Christianity? We will crush your skull till your eyes are forced out, stretch you on a rack until your ligaments snap and joints dislocate. Alternatively, you can choose between being burned at the stake or have your skin peeled off while you watch. It was also jolly bad luck being a witch or supporting a heliocentric solar system, both could (and did) get you burned alive, all due to religious morality.

                                  So what happened then? The enlightenment. Brave philosophers shook off their shackles to religion. Moral philosophy started being earnestly discussed and debated for its own sake and for the benefit of humanity. Our agreed moral standards no longer had to pay homage to the ancient rules of murderous and genocidal Gods. The result? We arrived at a consensus allowing human rights, and freedoms to flourish, freeing many from lives of abject misery, servitude and pain. Over time, these changes have led to our species experiencing far less suffering, far more joy and equality.

                                  For your claim of an objective morality based on religion to be taken seriously, you would have to explain the enormous difference in widely accepted views on morality between the middle ages and now. Most (nearly all) people would view those changes as representing vast improvements in our moral code. The recognition and deep respect of the humanity of each individual is probably one of the most profound changes, both in its magnitude and the reduction in suffering it has led to. It’s also apparently one of the fundamental tenets of all Abrahamic religions. However, along with declining influence of religion, our respect for humanity and the dignity of human beings has sky rocketed in recent centuries. Confusing isn’t it?

                                  The central conundrum here is that in developed societies religion has almost no impact on the moral consensus of a society when it comes to freedom, justice, views on violence, killing, human dignity, equality. Each of these markers has improved beyond measure since we started debating philosophy on a secular basis. Why is that?

                                  1. Anonymous Coward
                                    Anonymous Coward

                                    Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                    This is my last reply, as this is getting tedious. The same points are being repeated over and over again, which means that either I can't get my point across (therefore there's no more point in argument) or that you're not understanding what I'm saying.

                                    I can’t prove they did wrong, no one can, but I can explain why the general consensus is that they were twats of the highest order.

                                    Pray tell how. That's the whole point of this discussion.

                                    Is it, as I understood this snippet, because people said so (the consensus)?

                                    In common with many religious people you appear to prefer ill thought through, broad brush and simplistic solutions to complicated issues; you’re views on morality are the perfect example.

                                    I'll say nothing. I'll simply quote you, striking out one word:

                                    Your comment reeks of contempt for those with a less religious world view. If I were religious, I might even be tempted to warn you about the deadly sin of pride ...

                                    Still unsure as to why you're steaming in what's supposed to be civil dialogue.

                                    You see, hominids (yes it started before humans you know, more than 6,000 years ago!) ...

                                    Young-earth creationism. I don't buy that stuff.

                                    “Ere Barry, I’m feeling dead moral today. You know all that fun stuff we do to that tribe over the river? ... (cue long evolution-of-morality blurb) ... “Fair enough Margaret, you were always more of a people-hominid than me. That’s why I married you.”

                                    Congratulations, you've missed the point ... again.

                                    See all that? That's why morality is there. Not why one should be moral.

                                    If morality is an evolutionary by-product, then somebody could "revert" to a "pre-morality" life ... and as you now realise, they couldn't be proven to have done something wrong. Actually, strictly materialistically speaking, Hitler/Stalin/$tyrant/$nutjob are all right; they are acting on the fact that the fittest survive. They are "better", as far as raw evolution is concerned.

                                    Of course that is certainly more likely than Barry and Margaret waking up one morning and saying: “Blimey, God wants us to be good to others!”

                                    And I'm the one simplifying issues? :-)

                                    In fact, probably the fastest ever rate of change to our ideas around morality has occurred since we had wide access to the written word, i.e. since the late middle ages. Up until that point our morality was based entirely on religion –

                                    On interpretations of religion and people too lazy/ignorant to check the facts for themselves, correct.

                                    Add to that the fact that priests can supposedly "speak for God" ...

                                    You will recall that the slaughtering of other tribes e.g. in the crusades was perfectly fine, and actively encouraged. The Divine Right of Kings meant that theology could be used to exterminate whole populations, on a whim if need be. Women were property, there was no such thing as rape. Hanging children for theft? Not a problem. Brutal and barbaric retribution was the very basis of morality.

                                    I've tackled the problem of evil above, so I won't do that again, for the sake of brevity. You can re-read it above.

                                    As a materialistic atheist, you cannot criticise these acts as being immoral.

                                    The murderers are a better natural fit, aren't they?

                                    Tough luck for the murdered. They failed to survive.

                                    Until materialism can establish a basis for future morality (why should one be moral from now on), it cannot use the problem of evil as an argument.

                                    Then there is all the state sanctioned killing, torture and genocide. You don’t like our version of Christianity? We will crush your skull till your eyes are forced out, stretch you on a rack until your ligaments snap and joints dislocate. Alternatively, you can choose between being burned at the stake or have your skin peeled off while you watch.

                                    The war still goes on today. In the distant past, people were killed "in the name of God". In the recent past, people were killed in the name of colonialism, imperialism, national pride, Aryan racial purity. Today, people are being killed in the name of democracy, free market, national alliances. The labels differ, the killing is a constant. Please go and watch the news. Any news channel works.

                                    Yes, that exact situation you're describing happened in the recent past at the hands of Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Bashar al-Assad and other nonreligious regimes.

                                    Just quickly replace "Christianity" with "communism/regime/ideology/...".

                                    And it still happens today, only using heavy guns instead of medieval instruments.

                                    It was also jolly bad luck being a witch or supporting a heliocentric solar system, both could (and did) get you burned alive, all due to religious morality.

                                    Also known as being a dissentant in a totalitarian political system. It's totalitarianism that you're criticising. It can be based on any ideology. A rose by any other name.

                                    We arrived at a consensus allowing human rights, and freedoms to flourish, freeing many from lives of abject misery, servitude and pain.

                                    Ah, the gag reflex.

                                    For couch experts commenting from the warmth of their homes in Europe, human rights charters might have worked, but here in the real world, we've seen how these brilliant charters saved Iraqis, Syrians, Bosnians, the Uyghur, the Rohingya, from their tyrant states. And no, not one of these wars was instigated by religion.

                                    The tyrants would look at them, stare in awe, drop their weapons of torture and go give their people big hugs. Yes sir.

                                    Over time, these changes have led to our species experiencing far less suffering, far more joy and equality.

                                    Yes. Really.

                                    For your claim of an objective morality based on religion to be taken seriously, you would have to explain the enormous difference in widely accepted views on morality between the middle ages and now.

                                    Nil. There's absolutely no difference in the general outline of morality.

                                    It's basically taking a right away, and it's universally frowned upon, whether in the seventh century BC or the twenty-first century AD.

                                    The father in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner brilliantly summarises this:

                                    [T]here is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life... you steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness ... there is no act more wretched than stealing.

                                    The details, the "variations", are what might vary from one time to another. But certain "pillars" of morality are there, not even across religions, but also across time and cultures. This supports the unity of the source of morality.

                                    The recognition and deep respect of the humanity of each individual is probably one of the most profound changes, both in its magnitude and the reduction in suffering it has led to.

                                    The animals in the ruling class in Orwell's Animal Farm are well known for having issued one last declaration:

                                    All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

                                    It’s also apparently one of the fundamental tenets of all Abrahamic religions. However, along with declining influence of religion, our respect for humanity and the dignity of human beings has sky rocketed in recent centuries. Confusing isn’t it?

                                    What does humanity and dignity mean anyhow? Aren't we animals after all?

                                    Why don't bacteria have the same dignity? Is it because of evolutionary "class"?

                                    I reiterate: The death toll in the two world wars plus the deaths at the hands of actively atheist totalitarian regimes from the Soviet Union to Syria exceeds all the deaths in all "holy" wars combined.

                                    The central conundrum here is that in developed societies religion has almost no impact on the moral consensus of a society when it comes to freedom, justice, views on violence, killing, human dignity, equality. Each of these markers has improved beyond measure since we started debating philosophy on a secular basis. Why is that?

                                    Europe has ditched religion, but not morals. It only stripped God from the moral equation. But the basis of religious morality is still there. This is why we respect human dignity. Human dignity has no material existence. It's through special creation of man that man had had his dignity. Strip that away, and all material basis for dignity is lost.

                                2. jgard

                                  Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                  I should be getting on with other things but this is like shooting fish in a barrel. That said I don’t have time to address all your other ‘points’, but here are a few thoughts:

                                  “No, get rid of God entirely, as in North Korea, and see how will the world turn into a blissful wonderland.”

                                  Within America’s famously violent and amoral prison population just 0.2% of inmates are atheists. This compares to about 10% in the general population.

                                  Also, did you read my post? Look at the studies. The most religious 10 countries on earth have more than 5 x the murder rate than the 10 least religious countries. Poverty, child mortality, violence in a country all increase with religiosity.

                                  The HAPPIEST countries in the world are the LEAST RELIGIOUS, and have LOWER CRIME.

                                  Then to North Korea. A perfect counter example is ISIS, they were barbaric beyond belief, and their capacity for cruelty and brutality was epic. The big difference however, is that ISIS was BASED on religion, its raison detre was religion, its curriculum of savagery and cruelty WAS RELIGION. It was done in the name of religion.

                                  The cruelty of North Korea is there because of the desperate attempts of a crooked regime to hold on to power. It is most certainly not there in the name of atheism, it isn’t there to force atheism on the populace. It’s there to force the regime on the populace. It IS similar to a religion in that they want to rid the people of critical faculties so they accept their leader on faith, unquestioningly believing in his omnipotence and omniscience. And to do that they follow the religionists - feed them unsubstantiated propaganda, deny them education, punish for non-compliance.

                                  ….On you following the benevolent God you have chosen for yourself. It’s a shame those people tortured in his name in the middle ages, or stoned because of his decrees in Leviticus, or murdered because he ordered a genocide, didn’t get to choose that God too. Those people didn’t get the chance to say “I’m sorry old chap, but the God I believe in is benevolent. So before you peel the skin from my other leg, might we discuss the theological basis for my torture? No? OK, fair enough – peel away”. Trouble is, he is the same God. Nothing has changed, other than your contemporary interpretation based on the modern and secular moral standards of today’s society. You just hide from the nasty stuff because it would make your brain explode from the cognitive dissonance.

                                  ….On kids dying – it’s because of the bigger picture is it? What sort of mental gymnastics do you have to perform in your head to come up with that tortured nonsense? Seriously, that is simply absurd. Why it then, that deeply religious people is will do everything they can to save their child? Research shows that deeply religious people suffer from grief and heartache just as much as atheists. Why? If they truly believe it is part of a plan, and they will see them again and live together forever.

                                  You're tortured cogitations on dead and dying children would be funny if the subject wasn't so sad. However, I will give you credit for the complex mental machinations that must have taken place for you to draw those conclusions. Indeed this may be the very first use, in public, of the principle known as Occam's Lump Hammer!

                                  You are flogging a dead horse mate, none of what you are saying either makes sense or is backed by reality. You are sat there in a bubble of comfortable confirmation biases, but unable to even remotely support them through argument or evidence. Make sure you hold on to that lump hammer.

                                  1. Anonymous Coward
                                    Anonymous Coward

                                    Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                    Within America’s famously violent and amoral prison population just 0.2% of inmates are atheists. This compares to about 10% in the general population.

                                    Not all religious people are moral. Not all atheists are amoral.

                                    Atheist-materialistic beliefs, when strictly held and adhered to, lead to nihilism/amorality (as you have declared yourself, it can't be otherwise). From this, it does not follow that atheists are immoral. (Nor it does follow that from a moral religion, all religious people are moral).

                                    There are some really nice atheists (I know some and I'm proud of having made their acquaintance), and some really shitty religious people of whom I'm really ashamed. I'm not judging people as you have done here, I'm judging beliefs.

                                    It's a matter of the actual beliefs that are there. If one's moral/religious convictions don't restrain him/her from resorting to crime, then are those beliefs really there?

                                    Also, did you read my post? Look at the studies. The most religious 10 countries on earth have more than 5 x the murder rate than the 10 least religious countries. Poverty, child mortality, violence in a country all increase with religiosity.

                                    I did read it and I reciprocated. You look like you haven't read the statistics I replied with, or the explanation behind why's that.

                                    So, if we want to continue cherry-picking stats, have this:

                                    Sweden tops the EU charts and is sixth in world charts for rape. South Africa is the world's first, and Australia sits at #11. South Korea is world's #10th country in suicides. Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are among the world's lowest, even though the political situation is in turnmoil, providing an adequate environment for suicide.

                                    The HAPPIEST countries in the world are the LEAST RELIGIOUS, and have LOWER CRIME.

                                    Why the shouty-shouty caps? If you're perfectly content that your point makes sense, then state it calmly. :-)

                                    Of course, increasing religiosity in France is why rape rates are increasing.

                                    Yes, religion is why 220K women were harassed onboard French public transport in a year. It's bound to be religion.

                                    Then to North Korea. A perfect counter example is ISIS, they were barbaric beyond belief, and their capacity for cruelty and brutality was epic. The big difference however, is that ISIS was BASED on religion, its raison detre was religion, its curriculum of savagery and cruelty WAS RELIGION. It was done in the name of religion.

                                    See? You can have tyranny in the name of religion, tyranny in the name of democracy, tyranny in the name of anything really.

                                    Don't judge people. Judge ideology instead. If you argue that ISIS is the definite consequence of Islamic ideology, then I'm equally justified in arguing that North Korea, the USSR, whatever are the definite consequence of applied atheistic discourse.

                                    The cruelty of North Korea is ... deny them education, punish for non-compliance.

                                    Does atheism have any arguments to prevent NK from doing what it did? (You said it doesn't.)

                                    (Spoiler alert, Islam has arguments that went exactly smack against what ISIS did. Not that it mattered for a power-hungry, demented thug regime. Atheism doesn't have such arguments. Nobody can argue that NK abused atheism. To the contrary, NK is merely another example of survival of the fittest, of the one with the guns.)

                                    I can argue that ISIS was precisely the same as NK in your example. Just look:

                                    The cruelty of ISIS is there because of the desperate attempts of a crooked regime to hold on to power. It is most certainly not there in the name of Islam (see above), it isn’t there to force Islam on the populace (Non-ISIS Muslims are just more "infidels" to them). It’s there to force the regime on the populace. It IS similar to irreligion in that they want to rid the people of critical faculties so they accept their leader on faith, unquestioningly believing in his omnipotence and omniscience. And to do that they follow the atheists - feed them unsubstantiated propaganda, deny them education, punish for non-compliance.

                                    After all, the USSR League of Militant Atheists was just that last point.

                                    ….On you following the benevolent God you have chosen for yourself. It’s a shame those people tortured in his name in the middle ages, or stoned because of his decrees in Leviticus, or murdered because he ordered a genocide, didn’t get to choose that God too.

                                    For the millionth time, see my answer to the problem of evil.

                                    In the problem of evil, the atheist declares/supposes the existence of God but not the afterlife. You can't have your cake and eat it.

                                    Those people didn’t get the chance to say “I’m sorry old chap, but the God I believe in is benevolent. So before you peel the skin from my other leg, might we discuss the theological basis for my torture? No? OK, fair enough – peel away”.

                                    If the afterlife exists, then these folks are martyrs that God shall reward accordingly, and He shall punish those who had treated them unjustly.

                                    If they (the murderers) were indeed justified, then no moral laws were broken, exactly like how executing a serial killer isn't immoral.

                                    Why it then, that deeply religious people is will do everything they can to save their child?

                                    Because it would be immoral to do otherwise.

                                    Why do atheists do everything in their might to save their children? Because it's immoral to do otherwise.

                                    But in doing so, atheists selectively "forget" that their children are (materialistically) of no more value than any other collection of atoms. It is indeed sad, and no human thinks this way. Because our children are not piles of atoms, we hold that there's a higher meaning to life.

                                    Research shows that deeply religious people suffer from grief and heartache just as much as atheists. Why?

                                    That's human nature for you.

                                    But there's a difference when it comes to getting over it.

                                    I have experienced such trauma which coincided with my former agnosticism, and believe me, thinking that there's drives one to the cliff of suicide. Reflecting on that event after the fact, I found out that religion would have been of much help.

                                    If they truly believe it is part of a plan, and they will see them again and live together forever.

                                    This is how people with religion get over it.

                                    You are flogging a dead horse mate, none of what you are saying either makes sense or is backed by reality. You are sat there in a bubble of comfortable confirmation biases, but unable to even remotely support them through argument or evidence. Make sure you hold on to that lump hammer.

                                    I can't go any further with you.

                                    Basically, you're accusing me of having confirmatory biases while it's you who's dodging questions (see the end) and repeating points that I have answered. My answers might not have been in sufficient detail or catchy eloquence, for which I apologise, but the essence is definitely there.

                                    The only thing that I'm confirming there is how some people are still marred by the Inquisition to the point of not even being open to argument, not realising how they're holding on to an essentially self-contradictory position (namely, God being terrible and immoral ... while embracing a philosophy that, in the end, states that we are doomed to being forgotten yet for some unfathomable reason, we have to be nice.)

                                    Below are three questions that I've posed. Answer them sincerely and reflect on your own answers. Especially that last one:

                                    Supposing no God, creation from nothing by evolution only, and only the fittest survive or else face a death followed by oblivion:

                                    1. Why should a psychopathic cannibal not have fun with innocent people's insides, and what's special about Homo sapiens compared to other products of evolution, like earthworms?

                                    2. Why was Hitler objectively wrong? (I think you answered that)

                                    3. What *is* "wrong" in a material sense?

                                    Peace.

                                    1. jgard

                                      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                      Atheist-materialistic beliefs, when strictly held and adhered to, lead to nihilism/amorality (as you have declared yourself, it can't be otherwise). What, like ISIS? Or the Spanish Inquisition? No I didn't, and no 'they certainly do not'. Don't lie, it makes you look amoral - "thou shalt not lie", after all. So remember, no need to fib, you'll embarrass yourself.

                                      "Why should a psychopathic cannibal not have fun with innocent people's insides"?

                                      No reason, they probably will - and there is no objective moral reason to prevent them. Reason and morality is a product of the mind, and the very fact he is a psychopath means it won't bother him. Again why didn't your benevolent, omnipotent, heavenly father stop him? In most situations people who are mentally well will realise that such acts would cause the other person and their family untold harm, their own family grief, and will get them locked up forever. Still some people are ill, or just fucking nasty and will do anything they feel like. Again, God doesn't stop them. Your point was?

                                      Why was Hitler objectively wrong? Because he caused pain and misery on millions who may have been your mother, brother, child, spouse, he was a monster. If you cannot see why causing sentient human beings to despair at life's agonies is sick beyond belief, then you're worse than I though.

                                      Yes we are evolved animals, but unlike eartworms we are unique in our abilities to suffer, and fear, feel heartbreak, horror and despair.

                                      So, I hold a "self-contradictory position namely, God being terrible and immoral". Tell that to the people who have suffered in his name, the thousands killed in the bible on his order, or murdered through his declarions in leviticus. You must have one massive bloody cherry picker, at least big enough to carry Occam's lump hammer with you.

                                      One last question - if God complately dissapeared tomorrow, what would you do? Treat the disabled, needy and poor in a kind, caring and considerate manner, because you're a nice huiman being who respects other's dignity and right to a peacful life.

                                      Or would you just think, fuck 'em! What ever have they done for me - I was only being nice to them because God told me to and threatened me with hellfire and eternal beatings - that scared me senseless to be honest. But now he has dissappeared I couldn't give a fuck and I really can't be arsed to help them. Fucking losers.

                                      Faith is dwindling fast fast mate, you are on the wrong side of history, and by some large bloody margin. I know ithat given the anount of time you've wasted pursuing it, it's hard to let go of that part of your life, but please do get rid. It's utter bull crap.

                                      1. Anonymous Coward
                                        Anonymous Coward

                                        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                        I replied because I'm seeing some hope in reaching a happy conclusion.

                                        Atheist-materialistic beliefs, when strictly held and adhered to, lead to nihilism/amorality ... and no 'they certainly do not'. Don't lie, it makes you look amoral ... you'll embarrass yourself.
                                        So is it not you who said this:

                                        I can’t prove they did wrong, no one can, but I can explain why the general consensus is that they were twats of the highest order.
                                        No reason, they probably will - and there is no objective moral reason to prevent them ...

                                        Thanks for accusing me of something I hadn't done. By the way, that last quote is exactly what I was looking for in this whole discussion.

                                        ... Reason and morality is a product of the mind, and the very fact he is a psychopath means it won't bother him.

                                        Your mind tells people to be moral, my mind doesn't/tells me to not act morally, says the psychopath. I'll return to this shortly.

                                        Again why didn't your benevolent, omnipotent, heavenly father stop him?

                                        I'll say it again:

                                        1. Since you assumed for the sake of argument that God exists, you also have to assume that the afterlife exists too.

                                        2. God did not create us in heaven. Life itself is an ongoing test for people.

                                        3. It's a vindication for the individual who is suffering, a test for "surrounders" and a reason for Divine punishment for those who inflict the suffering.

                                        Where's the injustice if sooner or later, everybody is going to get their share of justice?

                                        (If you believe that they aren't getting their share of justice, then that's where the problem of evil comes from. In people believing that this is the end of the story.)

                                        In most situations people who are mentally well will realise that such acts would cause the other person and their family untold harm, their own family grief, and will get them locked up forever.

                                        Why do you arbitrarily assume that "survival" = "good"? Why not the other way, in which sending people en masse to an eternal rest from this world is better, as in some odd cults?

                                        And if the other person causes you harm, then why and how is not harming them back deemed more ethical? (Turning the other cheek, as Christians say)

                                        I'm smelling proto-utilitarianism in here. Hitler equally used utilitarianism to justify eugenics (killing of the lesser races = happiness to the more evolved ones, according to him)

                                        Aside: ever considered the trolley problem?

                                        Then there's empathy. Foreign to the environment where only the fittest survive.

                                        The idea that people choose empathy because that will improve their chances at survival is frankly naïve, mostly because it depends on other people reciprocating that empathy for sure. Not a given. Also see: tragedy of the commons.

                                        Still some people are ill

                                        Psychopaths only differ from normal people in their lack of empathy. Their reasoning and mental powers are just fine.

                                        Yet they don't accept the supposedly "mental" product of morality. You can't "convince" a psychopath of morality with logic or trains of thought. Yet "survival of the fittest" provides the equivalent train of thought for "justifying" immorality.

                                        or just fucking nasty and will do anything they feel like.

                                        If morality is a product of mind, then they are not even wrong. Just disagreeing with you. They also have their reasons, don't they? Why don't we give them a fair, unbiased hearing of their logic instead of locking them up like the sick people they are? Perhaps their logic wins out? Yet we don't.

                                        Again, God doesn't stop them. Your point was?

                                        My point is the exact point I made in the very first comment. Without religion it's impossible to objectively justify why should anybody act morally or be morally superior for not reciprocating evil with evil. (Explained below)

                                        Why was Hitler objectively wrong? Because he caused pain and misery on millions who may have been your mother, brother, child, spouse, he was a monster.

                                        Entirely true. But that's not something you arrived at using logical processes. You used your innate morality to arrive at such a conclusion. Expected of every sane person, yet it's to be applauded in a time where lots of people don't.

                                        Of course, materialism rejects metaphysics like "innate" and ... "soul". There's no chemical reaction in the brain or a logical track that leads us straight to morality. Yet everybody, even preverbal toddlers according to experiments, finds morality.

                                        Feelings are only states of neurones, materially. "Monster" is a feeling, an emotion. Though true, it means nothing in a universe which "has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."

                                        Apart from religion, which gives two things to life: meaning (there's something to live for and a reason to appreciate others' lives) and value (a soul has worth far bigger than a pile of atoms), it cannot be proven using only rational processes that not harming others is a Bad Thing. You are bound to refer to something transcending this material world. You have just done that.

                                        Hitler argued that harming others was a necessary evil, perhaps even a good thing. The world disagreed, not using rational arguments, but using something above and beyond this material world.

                                        If you cannot see why causing ... then you're worse than I though.

                                        Of course it's demented, sick and despisable. Thanks for accusing me of being a psychopath (and for missing the point).

                                        And why did you add that extra who may have been your [kin], like people are only supposed to feel moral for their kin? Hitler's soldiers might have been my family ... doesn't make them right.

                                        Yes we are evolved animals, ... we are unique in our abilities to suffer ... despair

                                        And that matters how? That renders morality into some "super-selfishness": I feel pain, I hate pain, therefore I don't want others to feel pain. Is that morality? Dying a fiery death while saving somebody from a fiery death is considered heroic martyrdom, not stupidity. Arguing that this is an evolutionary means to increase survival of the tribe is plain stupid because that hero died after all, game over for him and his genes, and natural selection isn't a sentient "deity" to calculate and "choose" survival of that tribe. The selfish person who doesn't jump in the fire is evolutionarily superior.

                                        Supposing it does matter, some argue that we don't even know for sure whether earthworms don't feel such emotions.

                                        And cats, dogs, elephants, Australian camels all feel emotions, yet some people don't see mass culls of them an issue.

                                        Tell that to the people who have suffered in his name ... in [L]eviticus.

                                        I tackled that above. You "reason" that God is immoral through your innate morality, yet you claim that you're reasoning through mind. I've been arguing all day long that it's not even possible to argue that anything is evil without invoking something above and beyond atoms, what religious people call a sense of morality.

                                        As for "tell that to the people": if it's God who made them suffer, then they will soon enough be given justice. If God doesn't exist, then their tormentors can argue using only Darwinistic logic that they are justified and we can't prove otherwise using just logic.

                                        One last question - if God complately dissapeared tomorrow, what would you do? ...

                                        As shown above, "nice" has no material meaning, but definitely has a meaning beyond sacks of atoms.

                                        If God disappears tomorrow, the fact that human beings are His creation doesn't. Therefore, even though God disappears, the special status of mankind doesn't and people will still have much more value than if they are the product of nothing that's bound to return to nothing.

                                        (But more seriously, if God disappears, so will the universe. The "game engine" (to borrow a computing metaphor) that provides what we call the laws of physics will too.)

                                        Or would you just think, fuck 'em! ... Fucking losers.

                                        A very common misconception. We treat our fellow humans well because they are the creation of God and a manifestation of His order and will, so it follows respecting God to respect His creation. Not because of divine carrots and sticks. Even if God suddenly removes the concept of heaven and hell, respecting people because they are God's creation is still the moral obligation. Even if God Himself disappears.

                                        Faith is dwindling fast ... by some large bloody margin.

                                        I know it's dwindling - so are values. Doesn't mean that it becomes correct to be a prick because values are diminishing and everybody else is a prick.

                                        We Muslims hold that by the End of Time, the only trace of theism that will remain is the words "there's no god but God". Nothing more than that. And adherents to that trace will not understand what it means, they just know that people had been saying that before. And that suffices to give them heaven.

                                        An open question reciprocate yours of "God disappears", which I answered: If suddenly everybody drops morality at once and there's no God, would you?

                            2. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
                              Trollface

                              Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                              I don't have to answer your "one question". I don't live in a theocracy, you don't get to frame compulsory questions, or burn to death anyone who refuses to answer or who gives the wrong answer.

                              Your time is over. Take your absurd death cult with you. You are not forgiven.

                              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                              2. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                                I don't have to answer your "one question".

                                Why? Because the answer is unpopular?

                                I don't live in a theocracy, you don't get to frame compulsory questions, or burn to death anyone who refuses to answer or who gives the wrong answer.

                                No, you live in a society of humans, in which it is expected of adherents of a position with potentially dangerous, practical extrapolations to explain to others why this isn't the case.

                                Your time is over. Take your absurd death cult with you. You are not forgiven.

                                I won't reciprocate. On the contrary, peace, and I hope you eventually see things for what they are.

                    2. jgard

                      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                      What about the multitude of olfactory genes deactivated in dolphin DNA, but still present in land dwelling mammals? That's nothing to do with dolphins evolving slowly from land mammals? Explained by the fact that as smelling is not possible underwater, genetic drift and other mechanisms caused those genes to slowly become non-expressed? What is the purpose of those genes I wonder? And why is the same pattern of gene deactivation seen in animals all over the world when they have evolved from another species which needed those genes to survive in a different environment? The fact that it is so universally consistent is remarkable don't you think?

                      Or the tiny leg bones of the whale, disconnected from the rest of the skeleton. Or the general evolution of the cetaceans? What's the reason for the gradually changing fossil specimens, which started off with hind legs and then gradually lost them as geological time passed?

                      Here is a list in order, I encourage those with an open mind to check them out at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cetaceans.

                      Indohyus,

                      Pakicetus,

                      (the impossibly cute) Ambulocetus,

                      Kutchicetus,

                      Remingtonocetus,

                      Rodhocetus,

                      Protocetus,

                      Dorudon,

                      Squalodon,

                      Kentriodon,

                      Aulophyseter,

                      Brygmophyseter,

                      Aetiocetus,

                      Cetotherium,

                      Cetotherium

                      Why is it that the legs got progressively smaller with time if they aren't simply vestigal? Surely they would stay the same size? Or wouldn't be there at all? After all why would a dolphin or a whale need tiny leg bones inside their body, which used to be bigger, and further back, used to be actual legs?

                      There is a similarly clear and interesting record of evolution for the horse too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse .

                      These examples show exactly the 'transitional forms' or 'missing links' of which the religionists and creationists deny existence.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                        Though I'm in the medical field, I'm not yet well-versed in evolutionary theory (in fact, I'm not even sure if it's false or true, and that's because I'm freeing myself from the biases of both traditional creationist and materialistic ends.)

                        But for the legs of the dolphin, I have read that they do have "modern" uses.

                        Humans are too proud. They declare organs to be "vestigial" when they simply don't know the use of such organ ... it's frankly both embarassing and impedes scientific inquiry.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                          "I'm not yet well-versed in evolutionary theory"

                          And you stop there. Because we have lots of experts who are well versed.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                1) somewhere to store fluff

                2) if you've not worked out what male nipples are for yet, then I pity you.

          2. stiine Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            I want to know why we only have two nipples when the shrewish short-tailed opossum has 27. On second thought, as expensive as bra's are to support only a pair of breasts, I dread what they'd cost if they had to support a more fun 3 or 4 of them.

        3. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          @AC

          Although I fundamentally agree with you, there are a couple little thing called Buddhism and Humanism to check out: both have morality but no God.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            Sadly, both Humanism and Buddhism are two "human" constructs. And as human constructs, why should they have any more "truth" than other human moral constructs like Social Darwinism or Nazi ideology?

            For a morality source to be binding to all humans (objective), it has to be from a source above and beyond humans, also known as God.

            1. steelpillow Silver badge

              Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

              But then the God as you imagine Him is also a construct of your mind. Ultimately you have only faith in your arguments to place Him on an objective footing, just as atheists have only faith to deny His objective footing.

              Evolutionary biologists have suggested that our genes are the objective source of any universal morality which we may have. I am not sure that I wholly agree with that, but it is certainly a part of the story. The missing part may be as conveniently called "God" as anything else.

              I just love the old joke about Bill Gates turning up at the Pearly Gates, whereupon St. Peter whips out his laptop.

              "H'mm ... Mr Gates. Darn! Not these gates! Damn thing has crashed now. Can't let you in unless it's fixed."

              "Here, let me try, I used to make these things."

              "Okay, see what you can do."

              "Oh, darn again! It's a Chromebook...

              ... AAAAaaaaaahhhhhh........."

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

                But then the God as you imagine Him is also a construct of your mind.

                The argument from morality is not a silver bullet. There are other lines of argument, and collectively, they aim to establish the fact that God is not a construct of mind.

                Ultimately you have only faith in your arguments to place Him on an objective footing, just as atheists have only faith to deny His objective footing.

                Or in other terms, theist's word vs. atheist's word? That brings us back to the previous question: can anybody who genuinely believes in Social Darwinism (and is too powerful as to be the law himself) be prevented from acting on such belief using only materialistic arguments?

                If it's word vs. word, then why should that person take the theist's version over the atheist's (or the Buddhist's)? If we're all doomed to die then perish, then why not derive the most pleasure out of life without consideration of anything or anybody? I'm really looking forward to a purely materialistic answer (i.e. not loaded with any emotional/religious/quasi-religious sentiment) ... so far, none had been given.

                The question is whether the argument for God as moral arbiter is equal in "power" to a human construct. This requires proof that the argument for God is not a human construct. That's why there are other lines of argument too. If that is established, then it's obvious. Human constructs diminish when compared to God as moral arbiter.

                Evolutionary biologists have suggested that our genes are the objective source of any universal morality which we may have.

                They did, and they mixed up "is" with "ought". The question wasn't "why do we act morally", to which any number of possible explanations exists ... it was "why ought we act morally". Why should we "oblige" to our genes, when we can "revolt" against them?

                If we're born out of nothing and are doomed to oblivion, then why should we act morally? After all, morality almost always loses materialistically.

                I am not sure that I wholly agree with that, but it is certainly a part of the story.

                This feeling is exactly what defines humans. We are moral beings. This morality goes smack against "survival of the fittest".

                The missing part may be as conveniently called "God" as anything else.

                Barring the existence of any other lines of argument for the presence of God, this is true.

                But there are indeed other arguments for God. And they paint a different picture.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            Buddhism, humanism, utilitarianism, objectivism, deontology - these are all perfectly fine ethical systems.

            But none of them comes anywhere near answering the question "what does 'should' actually mean?"

            The theological answer to that is - deeply unsatisfying in many ways, but at least it's coherent. That's more than any other system can manage.

        4. jgard

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          Oh dear. Where did you get these arguments? Christian Apologetics for Dummies?

          Your comment reeks of contempt for those with a less religious world view. If I were religious, I might even be tempted to warn you about the deadly sin of pride, but I'm not, so I won't. You also demonstrate a level of confidence which is both remarkable and ill advised in someone so ignorant of their basic argument. So, as you have been so disdainful of those with a rational world view, I won't make too much effort to be polite.

          Before I get on to my main point, let me say that it's not the fault of others that you lack the imagination and intellect to understand how a sense of morality might evolve. There are many mathematical models demonstrating just that, but I don't expect you to aquaint yourself with them as it might make you confront reality. The fact that we see cooperation and collaboration in other species, especially primates (even in Wolves) might also cause you distress, after realising we are just another species! Watch yourself - that's your sin of pride showing again! But interestingly, that 'inbuilt morality' you incorrectly ascribe to God, breaks down in many situations. Situations that threaten our safety or awaken our tribal or territorial instincts. We also have FAR less empathy and feel FAR less protective of humans that aren't in our social group and/or don't look like us. This is exactly what one would expect from evolved behaviours.

          Also, your conflation of biology with politics is a nonsense, as is your assertion that an atheistic materialistic worldview is a harsh reality. It's fine for me thanks, cause I'm a grown up. That said, you should realise that the extent to which you would like to believe in a certain fluffy, smiley and happy worldview has absolutely no bearing on whether it is actually true. Wishfull thinking, it's a bugger isn't it?

          Anyway, on to my main counterpoint to your teenage theology, you said:

          'Society would descend into something like The Purge mixed with 1984, I'd imagine. Yet it doesn't. And surprise, it's because of an innate morality in people, not because of the eyes of the law.'

          Surpise! Empirical reality provides us with copious amounts of evidence to the contrary. Are you not familiar with the 1969 riots in Murray-Hill, Montreal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray-Hill_riot. Police and firefighters went on strike and within hours, social order disintegrated. To quote Steven Pinker:

          "As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin's anarchism. I laughed off my parents' argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 a.m. on October 7, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 am, the first bank was robbed. By noon, most of the downtown stores were closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist)."

          Then there's the folks in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Peace and order only returned when 6500 National Guard troops arrived to remind people of their "innate morality".

          Dreadful things occur when law and order truly breaks down - the Srebrenica Massacre, the Rwandan Genocide and the like occurred in such circumstances. This also happens when leadership is morally corrupt and allows or encourages such acts. Clearly neither 'inherent morality' or any 'God' that could enforce it, was effective in preventing twisted leaders being above the law. Tellingly many of the worst attrocities of recent times were committed by one religious group on another e.g. the Armenian and Greek genocides, or the religious massacres in the Punjab around the time of Indian partition. Was God on holiday?

          To answer your main rhetorical question: 'who's stopping somebody who's very powerful as to be above the law (therefore a favorite of natural selection), who also happens to believe that "anything goes", from acting on this belief?'

          No-one, that's why monsters like Hitler, Stalin, Al-Bagdhadi (ISIS), Attaturk, Idi Amin were able to act so inhumanely to their fellow human beings. Some were religious, some not, but that ain't the point - no one was there to control them and 'God' Certainly didn't show up to fix things before they went out of control.

          To quote David Hulme: 'Epicurus’s old questions are yet unanswered. Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?'

          On top of all that is the copious evidenence that the religiosity of a nation is correlated with many negative measures of societal health. Religious countries are more violent, poorer, less altruistic, less educated and less happy on average than non-religious countries. The homicide rate of the 10 least religious countries is 1.01 per 100,000, that same stat for the most religious countries is 5.1! Even within the US, the most religious states have higher rates of homicide, child mortality and violent crime.

          All you need to do is look at the most religious regimes. There have been and remain many, and ISIS is an excellent recent example. The abject brutality, cruelty and inhumanity of that regime are almost beyond description. Thankfully they have all but dissapeared now. But the truth remains that those scumbags ran their fiefdom in a way that was much closer to the letter and the spirit of the holy scriptures than any other Abrahamic religious regime of recent times. So WHO IS stopping them from being above the law? Again, no one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

            Again, apologies to The Register for the very long posts.

            Oh dear. Where did you get these arguments? Christian Apologetics for Dummies?

            Is that a poor attempt at an ad hominem?

            Your comment reeks of contempt for those with a less religious world view.

            Again, no. I just posed a question. Is that question so distressing as to make less-religious people angry? If so, then I apologise.

            You also demonstrate a level of confidence which is both remarkable and ill advised in someone so ignorant of their basic argument.

            The great thing about this argument, the argument from morality, is that it's such a simple argument to explain. Therefore, you're quite mistaken I'm afraid.

            So, as you have been so disdainful of those with a rational world view, I won't make too much effort to be polite.

            I won't reciprocate that impoliteness, thanks.

            Before I get on to my main point, let me say that it's not the fault of others that you lack the imagination and intellect to understand how a sense of morality might evolve ...

            Straw man. This goes to show that you misunderstood the question being asked.

            It's not "why do we act morally", it's "why should we act morally?". As I said above, why should we "oblige" to our genes when we can "revolt" against them, and why should we cooperate nowadays?

            The "do" can be explained in terms of evolution. The "should" can never be.

            Situations that threaten our safety ... less protective of humans that aren't in our social group and/or don't look like us.

            You're mixing up morality with people who have that morality.

            People might eschew morality for whatever reason, but morality itself is unaffected, unchanged. There are pricks, but morality itself isn't affected by what pricks do.

            Many Americans, as well as people around the world, felt angry, and vocally protested when watching leaked footage of American soldiers torturing detained Iraqis in prisons 5000 miles away.

            Even though Iraqis are (a) of the stigmatised out-group and (b) the tormentor is of the in-group, it moved their sense of right and wrong.

            Murder of an innocent is wrong, even if I absolutely abhor the murdered.

            Also, your conflation of biology with politics is a nonsense ... Wishfull thinking, it's a bugger isn't it?

            You might believe it's nonsense, but many totalitarian regimes didn't, and happily employed biology (and trash like craniometry as an "evolution meter").

            Surpise! Empirical reality provides us with copious amounts of evidence to the contrary. Are you not familiar with the 1969 riots in Murray-Hill, Montreal

            Thanks for the evidence backing me up ... that was nice! :-)

            No religion (no accountability), no moral sense (so much for morality-not-based-on-religion) and no law and order ... evolution took its course. It was bound to happen. And what's more, materialistically, it can never be proven that what they did was "wrong" (not harmful, mind you, but wrong.)

            Then there's the folks in New Orleans ... arrived to remind people of their "innate morality".

            Thanks for the example. Again, we're from nothing, doomed to oblivion and the law is absent. Then on what grounds should they eschew their own survival (and pleasure)?

            (Innate morality alone doesn't work. This is why you need religion to go with that innate morality. This is also why morality without religion is bound to fail.)

            Clearly neither 'inherent morality' or any 'God' that could enforce it, was effective in preventing twisted leaders being above the law.

            Because both innate morality and religious morality broke down at that point in time.

            (And I've tackled the problem of evil in the other reply).

            Tellingly many of the worst attrocities of recent times were committed by one religious group on another e.g. the Armenian and Greek genocides, or the religious massacres in the Punjab around the time of Indian partition. Was God on holiday?

            I'm copying and pasting my reply from above: God or no God, humans are going to kill each other. More people have been killed in the two world wars (and under Pol Pot and Mao Zedong and, heck, North Korea's regime) than in all "religious" wars combined. And last time I checked, Mao Zedong was a strict Social Darwinist and atheist who did all his "cleansing" in the name of Darwinism.

            To answer your main rhetorical question ... No-one.

            That's the point I was driving at all day long. Not only they are unstoppable, they cannot even be proven to have done something objectively wrong! if we're born out of nothing, doomed to nothingness, then there's absolutely no reason why one shouldn't indulge in "pleasures" people deem to be demented.

            Nobody can "prove" a psychopathic cannibal wrong. All we can do is try to stop him. But we can never "prove" that he had done anything wrong ... if religion isn't considered.

            Some were religious, some not, but that ain't the point

            No, it's a very important point. Actually, none of them were religious. Yes, even al-Baghdadi, whose acts definitely go against every single Islamic tenet. If I tell you I'm not a thief while I'm going through your pantry, would my words carry any weight?

            If any of them were religious, they wouldn't have acted that way, and people who have been unjustly killed "in the name of God" are going to be avenged by all-fair God in the end.

            no one was there to control them and 'God' Certainly didn't show up to fix things before they went out of control.

            That assumes that they have done objective materialistic wrong.

            On top of all that is the copious evidenence that the religiosity of a nation is correlated with many negative measures of societal health. Religious countries are more violent, poorer, less altruistic, less educated and less happy on average than non-religious countries.

            Therefore, one would expect that every country that ditches religion would top the charts in all measures.

            Liberia. Very liberal country, yet among the world's poorest.

            North Korea. The people are very poor, despite the government's nukes.

            I could go on. It's not religion, it's how the country is ruled and managed and how much per capita is spent on research.

            Israel for example spends more on research than all the Arab countried combined ... while in Jordan, their next-door neighbors, the maximum amount for a scientific grant is $7000. That's why Israel is much more developed.

            Speaking of topping the charts, "developed" countries top the charts for suicide and rape rates per country, while religious countries are at the bottom of these chart. So much for happiness.

            And less altruistic? In Islam, every single adult has to pay 2.5% of their net worth per year to the poor. Even if that amount was forced to be taken.

            2.5% of a $100000 = $2500 per year. And that's only the obligatory amount. Per adult. The bare minimum that makes you a Muslim.

            Yet we still see poverty rates soaring in Muslim countries. This is because people don't bother with paying their obligatory alms.

            It's said that in one early caliphate (that of Omar bin Abdulaziz), poverty was eradicated and alms were literally stacked with no takers, because everybody basically had enough. The extra money was used to procure birdseed which was sprinkled in the fields, so that "it wouldn't be said that a bird had gone hungry under Omar bin Abdulaziz."

            The homicide rate of the 10 least religious countries is 1.01 per 100,000, that same stat for the most religious countries is 5.1

            Do they also happen to be among the poorest of countries?

            Did anybody bother to go and see what makes people do that? It might just be poverty (and being cross with God for not making them rich). You never know.

            All you need to do is look at the most religious regimes. There have been and remain many, and ISIS is an excellent recent example. The abject brutality, cruelty and inhumanity of that regime are almost beyond description.

            ISIS, or a bunch of thugs who just happened to call themselves religious.

            Back to the example on the thief who rummages through the pantry while maintaining that he isn't a thief. Do his words carry any weight?

            Similarly, when a bunch of thugs from God knows where shows up in 4K cinematography cameras, brand-spanking-new Toyota HiLuxes (as opposed to rusty old jobs used by all the other militias including the Syrian army) and lots upon lots of guns, then indiscriminately uses those guns upon everybody ... how's that different from any other "secular" criminal gang doing the same? Their acts speak louder than their words. In the very Islam which they claim to represent, there's a very special class of (present-life) punishment for these kinds of people.

            But the truth remains that those scumbags ran their fiefdom in a way that was much closer to the letter and the spirit of the holy scriptures than any other Abrahamic religious regime of recent times.

            Are you sure we follow the same man?

            So WHO IS stopping them from being above the law? Again, no one.

            Who's proving they've done any objective harm either? (Materialistically.)

            If we're all products of evolution, then why should human life have any special status compared to that of bacteria?

            And we commit genocide of unspeakable levels when we wash our hands.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

              "Is that a poor attempt at an ad hominem?"

              No. It's an objective expression of the quality of the apologetics you're putting forth.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          Richard Dawkins is the neighbour of one of my wife's acquaintences.

          The other year, during one of the storms, a tree in the garden blew over causing some damage,

          The insurance company told him it was an 'Act Of God'.

    2. itzumee

      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

      Lotus 123's decline and demise was the result of their lawsuit against Borland and it's Quatrro Pro spreadsheet that had a Lotus 123 menu structure option, allowing QP to run Lotus 123 macros - the uncertainty gave MS the opportunity to promote Excel as the alternative to Lotus 123 and the rest is history.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

        Quattro was eroding Lotus market share, when it was still a character based application. Just like Lotus supplanted the previous spreadsheet applications.

        There was no way a character-based spreadsheet could compete with a GUI one, and the easiness you can share data across applications in "multitasking" Windows compared to DOS, while breacking the "640KB" barrier without kludges like EMS.

        Remember that with 1-2-3 you had to buy add-ons to generate graphs and print decent reports on laser printers. Like WordPerfect, Lotus believed the world would never have changed, and was caught off-guard without the required investments and skills in GUI development. Symphony went nowhere. Too many companies failed to understand Windows with its multitasking GUI environment was a game changer, regardless of Microsoft playing hardball. Too many companies relied on their DOS golden geese, just to find users wanted Windows applications.

        Lotus was a single-product company, a very dangerous position. It survived buying Notes, but eventually Outlook/Exchange as a workgroup application, and cheaper relational databases plus RAD tools like VB and Delphi to build DB applications, wiped it out from the market too.

        I tried to use Lotus SmartSuite - it was so full of bugs it was unusable, as it kept on crashing while editing a document. While trying to enforce the ugly Notes UI on its office suite was a very, very bad idea. I never found a user happy of how the Notes client worked.

        1. PTW

          Re: I miss WordPerfect

          See title. Yes, I know it's still available, but I'm not paying $330 for something I use twice a year when Libre Office is available. TBH if it was $100 I'd probably pay it, it was so, so, much better than Word. Surely the patent must have expired on showing the single piece of formatting code that's actually screwing up your whole document?

      2. Black Betty

        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

        DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run.

        And Windows 3.1 (or 11) refusing to install on any machine with anything but M$'s EMM386.SYS memory manager. It would run perfectly happily under DR-DOS but would refuse to install,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run."

          An old quote but no basis in reality, I'm afraid. 1-2-3 was THE productivity software of the DOS era and breaking compatibility would have made MS customers not upgrade DOS to a later version. 1-2-3 was actually used as a compatibility test - if it didn't work, there was a problem with your PC (or DOS), not with 1-2-3 itself.

          MS went pretty far to ensure bug compatibility: DOS, Windows of the era included lots of hacks to enable specific legacy programs to work.

          "And Windows 3.1 (or 11) refusing to install on any machine with anything but M$'s EMM386.SYS memory manager. It would run perfectly happily under DR-DOS but would refuse to install"

          (The refusal to install on DRDOS was in Win3.1 betas, not the final product.) Dick move in any case and they later on settled with Novell.

          Would DRDOS have made a meaningful change in computing? DOS was a few years later demoted to a very meaningless role anyway when Win95 booted straight to the GUI and apart from legacy programs you could actually use Windows without booting to DOS or using the terminal window. DR couldn't have answered with anything but GEM and that would have been like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

          I remember trying our DR-DOS for a while but settled back to MS-DOS/4DOS/QEMM.

    3. EVP Bronze badge
      Flame

      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

      Count me in. I’ll bring the popcorn.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

      @Aqua Marina

      Sounds more like he's trying to buy his way into heaven.

      That claim needs some heavy proof. What makes you think he's totally guilty?

      Apart from God Himself, probably no one knows what the man's intentions are. Intentions are what determines the morality of the act (helping somebody cross the street by pushing him when that push had been intended to throw him in front of a bus is not at all a moral act - and vice versa, pushing him in front of a bus while intending to help him cross the street is not immoral)

      Bill you are as rich as you are, by your own admission because of deceitful and lying practices, whilst not illegal, they certainly were immoral.

      So? You simply deny him heaven because of that? He was a dick, he isn't a dick anymore. Unlike a certain Andrew Carnegie who was noted for being abusive to his family while giving his generous charitable grants.

      I for one will happily be waiting for you to join me down below, where I'll get comfort from watching you <u>burn for eternity</u> because of your DR DOS, Lotus 123 and general Embrace, Extend, Extinguish activities.

      Again, unless you really have indisputable proof of the man's intention, you can't and shouldn't really go around condemning people to hell. Unless you have the keys to hell.

      And no, wishing people a place in hell isn't exactly being moral either (or religious, for the matter).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

        What makes you think he's totally guilty?

        Well let's look at the evidence. Don't want windows? What are your options? You know windows is a turd[1] nut you still can't get yourself to stop using it, right?

        Still think he's innocent?

        [1] Those runny, smelly ones, not even the firm sort that you can at least try to polish.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Would you like to be fried with that?

          Still think he's innocent?

          The question was that whether he's guilty of the original comment's charge of "buying his way into heaven", or whether he's a hypocrite.

          That he's guilty of past corporate immorality? That's not even in question anymore.

  2. all ears

    Didn't have a reality distortion field as powerful as Jobs. Arguably did more damage to society. Definitely held back the development of computing for the widest benefit to all.

    Still egotistical and delusional, but so much richer than me that I think I'll just shut up.

    1. PhilipN

      Browser Wars

      Killing Netscape put society back 10 years. Worst thing is they did just for the hell of it, because they could. Then eventually accepted many, many years later - when they could make money out of it at the same time as protecting their monopoly - that we ought to be doing everything in the browser, by backing the browser into Office, and then backing Office into the Cloud.

      None of it was Gates' vision. He was only ever a poker player.

      1. dharmOS

        Netscape is dead, long live Chrome

        Well Google Chrome showed them

        And the humiliation that was the original Edge

        (posted from Chromium Edge)

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Netscape is dead, long live Chrome

          Chrome came along 3 years after Firefox's competition forced Microsoft to start developing IE again, having declared that IE6 was the pinnacle of browser development.

          While I may have moved to a different browser these days, i'm only able to do so because Firefox won the second browser wars and introduced competition and choice for web browsers.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Browser Wars

        Microsoft didn't kill Netscape. Mozilla did that.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Browser Wars

          Microsoft did kill Netscape. Originally, web browsers were a boxed product that you bought separately to the OS.

          Netscape was the big web browser of the time, and basically owned the market. Microsoft saw the writing on the wall about how big the internet was going to be and realised they'd fucked up. They then licensed a web browser (Internet Explorer v1) from another company on the basis that they'd pay per copy sold, and then released it for free and built it into Windows. People then weren't so inclined to buy Netscape, and it started going downhill. Netscape released the source code to a little usergroup that called itself Mozilla in the hope that after killing Netscape Mozilla would give Microsoft a migrane.

          Which to be fair it appears to have done.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      "Definitely held back the development of computing for the widest benefit to all."

      Bullshit.

      Before 95, you had office computers and home computers. There was massive incompatibly between device to device. Want to run a Atari program or even a file on Amiga or PC? TOUGH! You'd be lucky if you could even get the disk to read.

      Then came along 95. Here was software that the average person could use at home AND at work. This mean't people could use a pc at home and then get a job in an office and know the basics.

      Then you had Plug and Play, granted it was far from good, but compared to the nightmare of setting up the drivers prior to this, it was heaven.

      So Windows, despite all its flaws, took computing from hobbing or utter computer geek, to the mainstream.

      So cut this crap about how wonderful it was before MS.

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
        Happy

        Well I liked CP/M.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Amiga compatibility

        Amazingly, if you create a doc or a spreadsheet in The Works : Platinum Edition (Amiga, late 1980's); and transfer the file over to a modern PC, It will read it in perfectly.

        Perhaps more worrying is that I took the time out to try this. UAE is an incredible piece of software.

    3. sad_loser

      Nobel Peace Prize

      is clearly what he is after.

      Should go to Berners-Lee if anyone.

      I would give it Trump ahead of Gates.

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Charitably guiding the world into his preferred image.

  4. alexmcm

    He is to be applauded for his philanthropic work since stepping in to the background at Microsoft. But having worked at Lotus in the early 90's and watching Microsoft slowly crush Lotus 1-2-3 and Lotus Smartsuite by stealing features and preferring to argue it out in court for years rather than remove the stolen IP from his products, everything he does now is tainted.

    I wish him well in his retirement, but can't help wondering how much better the world would have been if the companies like Lotus, Borland, Novell, Digital Research, Netscape and many others had been given a fair go.

    1. itzumee

      That's a bit rich considering you forgot to mention the "cashectomy" that Lotus decided to inflict on Borland over the Quattro Pro court case that dragged on and on, until Borland caved when they realised they had less cash than Lotus to spend on never-ending court appeals.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      1-2-3

      "But having worked at Lotus in the early 90's and watching Microsoft slowly crush Lotus 1-2-3 and Lotus Smartsuite by stealing features and preferring to argue it out in court for years rather than remove the stolen IP from his products, everything he does now is tainted."

      Let's start with the fact that 1-2-3 was 100% based completely on Visicalc. Lotus produced a much better product and killed Visicalc. And it was Lotus who with their famous "look and feel" lawsuits killed competition. Except against Borland - the outcome (Lotus lost) benefited the industry and users tremendously and to me is akin to the current Oracle v. Google lawsuit.

      Lotus had its own well documented development problems which allowed Excel to slowly erode 1-2-3's market share. 32-bit Windows version came out more than year later than Office 95 which was fully 32-bit.

      1. sprograms

        Re: 1-2-3

        Excel was a product for the Mac before it was a product for Windows.

        There's also the historical curiosity that Gates offered to sell Excel and GUI Word to Apple, but Jobs turned down the offer.

        FUD was absolutely the brilliant strategy to solidify MS DOS, then Windows, in the corporate world, all possible only after MS managed to snooker (OK, beFUDdle) IBM in the OS game.

        Nothing changes: Utter ruthlessness grasps the huge fortunes, then philanthropy provides a serious pastime. It's neither good nor evil. It just is.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: 1-2-3

        Points for remembering Visicalc, came on Apple II first and I was impressed indeed.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "by stealing features"

      Just like Linux was developed to be a feature-by-feature copy of Unix? Just like Android copied Java?

      But yes, Linux brought IT thirty years back in the past because someone in the 1990s couldn't develop an OS for the 2000s and just though it was a good idea to copy one from the 1970s - with all its design limitations of the hardware of the era.

      Windows 3.1 GUI and applications are still better and more powerful than any Linux GUI and software. Maybe around 2070 we will have a decent Linux OS - as soon as they understand it's time to change.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't agree more.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software"

    After which he promptly forgot all of that to go closed-source and do his damnedest to counter all possible rivals by inserting control code into his various OS versions to make sure everyone else's products would be as slow and unstable as possible.

    Sorry, but even though I appreciate what he is doing philanthropically, the guy was an asshole and a machiavelic behind-the-scenes manipulator. The angel dust does not impress me.

    1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

      Re: "Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software"

      That quote caught my eye as well.

      He wanted to achieve that by introducing the world to gw-basic? Ok. The kid had ambitions back then, gotta give him that!

      More likely he just wanted to code and get paid for it. Just like the rest of us.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: "Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software"

        GW-Basic, and later QBasic and VBA, are languages that basically anyone can learn to use within the scope of a couple of days self-guided learning on the web. (Or, back in the day when they were invented, a single book, or maybe a two-day training course.) No degree, no background in computer science principles required, no knowledge of things like "the stack" or even "memory".

        That's - pretty democratic.

  6. Pseu Donyme

    Bill epitomizes what is wrong about 'capitalism' as currently implemented*: he got financially rewarded beyond belief for substantially holding back progress in a critical field of technology (thereby screwing up the humankind in general).

    * a hint for a fix: thou shalt not suffer a monopoly

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IE6. Step up the pace Bill - you've got a shitload of philanthropising to go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes IE6. Oooh the practices that Microsoft got away with over the years and so far to crush and stifle competition! I remember the days before the monopoly, technology development was incrediblly fast, so many new ideas filling voids, evolution, year by year has been RELATIVELY stagnation since then. It is sickening how much of our worlds resources have been wasted by the Microsoft monopoly, i.e. the Microsoft/Office desktop.

      1) IE6 yes, 2) lets not forget: 2) ongoing DOC/DOCX lock-in 3) Office365 that effectively* dictates you must access Office 365 from a PC running Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office installed and that everyone you communicate with must use DOC/DOCX, *effectively: the functionality shortcomings inhibit you periodiclally.

      So put something back Bill, you started marketting this wonderful philanthropy thing 25 years ago or more and yet you have squirrelled so much money away. evil chuckle.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to kick back on his island while the population control takes effect.

  10. Persona Silver badge

    If only

    If only people hadn't bought his products perhaps Linux on the desktop would have arrived in force by now...…… ok that's a little far fetched, but it's good to dream.

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
      Linux

      He's not The Messiah......

      Yeah but, some folks say that without all that Wintel upgrade obsolescence nonsense there wouldn't have been so many discarded PCs for us to put Linux on!

      In 1995 he wrote a book called "The Road Ahead". I read it. IIRC he didn't mention The Web at all, although there was some mention of the "information superhighway". It was hastily re-issued with extra sections on the information superhighway.

      I saw Tim's first webpage in about 1992. I'm not saying I realised how big The Web was going to get (I had been working mostly in comms and was aware of LAN and WAN technologies and point-to-point protocols - it just looked like another damn' thing to learn about.)

      By 1995, however, it was pretty clear that NetBEUI wasn't going to last.

      Visionary, no!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's not The Messiah......

        Ha Ha Ha, I remember this! At that time I was one of many staff dealing with customers all over the world using the Internet from our company head office, Microsoft were nowhere. What on earth were they doing? What were they thinking? Then Bills book about the future came out, nothing, OMG. This is one of numerous things, talk about the Microsoft monopoly stifling computing progress for 30 years, slooo motion. The digital dark age continues.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: If only

      If only people hadn't bought his products perhaps Linux on the desktop would have arrived in force by now...……

      As I recall none of us ever bought their stuff, just ripped it off left right and centre. MS turned a blind eye because they knew that this was establishing them as de facto.

  11. Dacarlo
    Pint

    Business is war...

    And he fought a (good/bad) fight. Delete as appropriate. Anyone remember the Doublespace and drivespace fiasco? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stac_Electronics#Microsoft_lawsuit Just one of many examples of dodgy practices.

    Still. I'm typing this on a very stable Windows10 box that brings me hours of fun and productivity, so its not all bad from my perspective.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Linux

    Lets see

    What has W. Gates given me.

    2 virus (one of which walked straight through my PC by IE blithly running a system level call via javascript... arrgh , the other via outlooks 'preview' pane running whatever was sent there... gawd )

    Trashed my system twice resulting in several days lost to re-installing everything

    .Dll hell remember that good old one? especially when it would replace the .cab compression dll with another one resulting in not being able to even open the .cab files on the CD to get a decent copy out.... format C:/ time

    Format change on MS office.... hey wow.... MS office cant open my old university files, open office sorted that one.. thanks for nothing billige

    And the crowning turd in the toilet .. Win 10

    Boss: Need the job out, valued customer, deadline deadline deadline

    Me: sure thing, no problem, just fire up the win 10 machine with the CAD/CAM on it

    THREE!!!!!! hours later

    Updating updating updating........ and I cant even access the drawing files to program by hand

    Boss: Written warning ... being lazy and idle and not doing anything all morning

    And we'll not even go into the unethical and possibly illegal things such as spyglass software selling m$ the rights to internet explorer 1 for a % of each copy sold

    Then m$ gives it away for free to avoid giving spyglass any cash......

    So I dont thank bill for his contribution to the world of computering, because he didnt.

    and now I use linux for nearly everything as a result

  13. Jon Smit

    There's nice

    He's gone from taking with both hands to giving with one.

  14. DoctorNine

    Same as it ever was...

    Bill Gates is neither demon nor deity. He's just a sack of flesh like the rest of us. Because of his choices in the business world he DID rake in a huge stash of cash. But he DID decide that he would use this stash to try to help the rest of his fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth out. He didn't have to do that. He WANTED to do that. So by definition, this is a social good. If he actually succeeds in his stated goal of ridding the world of malaria, no other thing he has done, as important as his computer work has been historically, will have had the same impact on our species.

    Give the man some space, and let's see if he can. He may actually be able to do it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same as it ever was...

      No. Keep an eye on him, and have a leash ready. Like any other egotistical philanthropist.

    2. luis river

      Re: Same as it ever was...

      ...ridding the world of malaria, no other thing he has done...Sure pal and companies? W .G . and Melinda, there are the principal philanthropy organization of the total humanity history, it has done many...many billions $ on last 30 years.

  15. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    "Like many robber barons of the past, Gates has devoted at least some of his mind-boggling wealth to philanthropy."

    True but I would recommend Anand Giridharadas: "Winners Take All", for additional thoughtful views on that topic.

    Like here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FauQpni67go

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_zt3kGW1NM

    Also the book "Inside Intel" is interesting regarding both Gates, Windows and Intel.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He'll have fo be a lot more philanthropic than that to be forgiven for all that his Microsoft has done

  17. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Devil

    Eradicating Polio from the population

    You can hide, but you cant run...

    ..yes, yes, infernal flames await me..

  18. Brett Weaver

    I'm sorry

    I'm sorry

    But I like the fact that Bill spends the majority of his money on things a a fairly bright committee thinks are good for this word.

    As someone who has had success and failure in business I think its great if the lucky ones share the love.

    Everyone gets frustrated by Windows. Especially us folk who have programmed against proper enterprise class OS's..

    But I get frustrated by a lot of products and their bosses don't do good in the world.

    If you hate Bill, go out and prove him wrong by the quality of your software and market it intelligently so that the market knows...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm sorry

      "If you hate Bill, go out and prove him wrong by the quality of your software and market it intelligently so that the market knows..."

      I CAN'T: Don't bend it and try and label it as hate, in my case it is not. You see Microsoft are a monopoly, a convicted felon, yet they are still a monopoly. They use unethical business practices to block competition. If I was Microsoft I would probably do the same, as power corrupts and I would have to keep shareholders happy. The monopoly will remain,as I see no solution. Surely you can see this too?

      I wish he would spend more of his money to compensate for the damage he has done.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I'm sorry

      "If you hate Bill, go out and prove him wrong by the quality of your software and market it intelligently so that the market knows..."

      Why not just ask him why he is not doing that right now?

      But hey, don't let that stop you/me/world/dog upstaging the cnut.

  19. steelpillow Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Damn the tagline

    See icon

  20. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    A few kind words about Windows

    There is no way to deny that Gates wasn't extremely efficient in building his relationship with OMS and Intel, but not a visionaire in anything IT related.

    And when we look at the world today Windows is still mainly on the desktop while the rest of the world runs an a *nix* type of OS from embedded to supercomputers. And the reason to this is that Unix was hugely more sound from the very beginning.

    In Finnish there is a "beautifully" visual way of explaining why and how something failed,

    "kuin juosten kustu", and as Google translate won't help you much, kuin is as or like, juosten is running and kustu is pissing. A very visual kind explanation of Windows programming.

    Sadly Gates did not go for Xenix although he was thinking about it.

    Jobs on the other hand understood to go for BSD a *nix* based OS.

  21. SVV Silver badge

    Heal the World and Save the Planet

    I cannot help but be reminded by all this of the time Michael Jackson did his messianic "Earth Song" performance at the Brit awards, complete with hordes of adoring children and videos of him bringing dead elephants back to life, and Jarvis Cocker jumped on stage and waggled his arse in his direction to show what everybody was really thinking of it, and I salute all those doing the same to such praise-hungry professors of public philanthropy.

  22. luis river

    great Bill

    B Gates their contribution to society it is with great things, their venial sins are pardonable, instead MSFT their contribution is very little, at least is me opinion.

  23. T. F. M. Reader

    What happened to my El Reg?

    No puns on Gates finally applying himself to rid the world of viruses?

  24. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    Not forgiven.

    No amount of philanthropy will absolve the lives and companies destroyed by Microsoft under his watch. Bill Gates singlehandedly held the entire IT industry back by a decade or more by keeping the world locked into the Windows hegemony. Look at how much more progress was made once the Internet and mobile computing unshackled IT from the Windows-only world.

    Bill Gates will not be forgiven. We will remember his reign of terror.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Giving a small fraction of money gained by illegal behaviour

    I'm constantly amazed by the praise he receives for distributing a small amount of the money he made by breaking the law and screwing people over.

    If I rob a bank and give some of it to charity, am I a hero?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, this has been an interesting comment section

    As usual, El Reg's article is just the jumping-off point for a great comment section. I get that most people here do not think Bill Gates is a nice man, regardless of philanthropic ventures. OK.

    Now, as a person who is NOT a programmer, I use computers only by using programs other people have made so I can look at the internet, do some basic spreadsheets and writing, If SOMEBODY had not made a way for me, a complete non-tech, to do some useful and entertaining stuff with this thing I'm typing on, I would not have ever bothered with the thing. I was quite happily writing letters, and keeping ledger and accounts on paper. The Internet is nice, but if it were a hassle to access, the public library is just down the street, and there are newspapers, the radio and television.

    I liken this to a place to live. Most of us find one quite handy, if expensive. It has flaws or inconveniences which may irk us. The construction company may have been overcompensated, or cut corners by bribing the building inspector or hiding the flawed stuff until they left. But, few of us have the desire or knowledge to built our living space and really maintain it, me included. So, I live within the space I got hold of, just modifying a bit here or there, because I can't build it myself, nor do I want to. For those architects who like building and have the competence to do so, great. I'm just happy I didn't have to.

  27. Timo Dactyl

    I'm glad Bill's doing so much good for the world ...

    ... but I still have to collect on the compensation he owes me for the

    hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours

    of my life I spent trying to get stuff to render correctly in IE6 until surprisingly recently. Of that $100bn, I reckon about 5 million are mine. Just for the aggro.

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