A Fire-side Reading of Dawkins' Hate Mail

I’m happy to see that the R&S forum is still frequented by people with widely differing belief systems. So here is something a little light-hearted for atheists, although it might get a chuckle from others as well.

Here’s what Richard Dawkins likes to do with friends on a cold night: read his hate mail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZuowNcuGsc

[quote][color=#BF0040]Three[/color] words from God to you … “You are a fool.”

… right now your destiny is all fucked up, you fucking atheist …[/quote]

I suppose it shouldn’t be funny when mail wishes for one’s death but at least the posters aren’t threatening to kill Dawkins, they are just wishing that God would do something about him. :smiley:

Of course the vitriol is only from a small proportion of believers, but I do wonder how much hate mail fringe scientists send to famous evangelicals when they feel science is threatened by religion?

Sounds like they were having a raring time over there

Nice. That reminds me of what Abbie Hoffman said was his favorite bit of hate mail: “Just wait till Jesus gets his hands on you, you little bastard.”

I wish Dawkins would stick to doing evolutionary science. That is interesting. His views on religion are not.

THAT was a GOOD one! :roflmao:

Actually, religious leaders get much the same kind of hate mail. There are idiots everywhere.

I don’t happen to agree with Dawkins, but he seems like an exceptionally likeable guy. The fact that he thinks that what I believe is ridiculous, makes no difference whatsoever.

I disagree. I find his views on religion and atheism captivating and well thought out.

In any case, I just love hearing him read the letters from profanity-spewing disciples of Christ in his oh-so-proper English accent!

Yes, he is very interesting, he makes a lot of good points.

How can so many Christians justify being so utterly revolting? How on earth do they justify swearing like that, for a start?

That would change if you were exposed to quality commentary on the subjects. Dawkins is a biologist, and a very enlightening and entertaining one. But he’s less than an amateur religious commentator, and amazingly uninformed on the subject. I wouldn’t get him to do my plumbing either.

I disagree. I find his views on religion and atheism captivating and well thought out.[/quote]
I agree they are thought out. I’d just prefer to read about his science and not hear about his religious views. For example, I wouldn’t want to read Darwin for views on atheism but for views on evolution. Equally, I won’t listen to Chomsky about politics. Well, to be fair I don’t really read or listen to Chomsky all that much anymore. Not since they busted Marc Hauser. :doh: I read Hitchens for some atheism. I like to keep things separate. But thats just me.

He has a lot to say on the subject of atheism, and he says it well. It doesn’t matter who he is. Maybe Jesus should have stuck to building houses!

My objection is that he doesn’t say it well, and he doesn’t say it well because he’s insufficiently educated on the subject. With over 2,000 years of learned critical commentary from religious people and atheists on the subject to choose from, I have no reason to read the ‘Little Golden Book’ version of atheism. What he is good at, as Carl Sagan was, is convincing people that if you’re an expert in one field you can say what you like about fields in which you’ve never received any education and expect to be taken seriously. Ironically this is precisely the argument made by Fundmentalists such as Ken Ham and Kent Hovind.

It does matter who he is if you’re interested in the job being done properly. Would you get him in to do your plumbing? And while we’re being pedantic, Jesus had a three year stint as an itinerant preacher, for which no particular qualification was necessary. As a theologically educated Jewish male who read in the synagogue, he had about as much training as anyone needed for the job.

My objection is that he doesn’t say it well, and he doesn’t say it well because he’s insufficiently educated on the subject.[/quote]

I feel he does, and is more than well educated enough to do so. His fame as a biologist gives him a platform for sure, but that’s besides the point.

[quote]
It does matter who he is if you’re interested in the job being done properly. Would you get him in to do your plumbing? [/quote]

No I’ll get a plumber for that thanks :slight_smile: That’s a horrible analogy. All that’s needed here is a mind to think about these questions, and the ability to communicate them. I disagree that it takes any form of specialized knowledge to do so. You’re seeking to restrict the field unnecessarily there in my opinion. This is not rocket science or even plumbing.

[quote]
And while we’re being pedantic, Jesus had a three year stint as an itinerant preacher, for which no particular qualification was necessary. As a theologically educated Jewish male who read in the synagogue, he had about as much training as anyone needed for the job.[/quote]

Dawkins has been talking about this stuff for years now, and has given a good deal of thought and done significant research about it. That makes him just as qualified. And since we are being pedantic, I will grant that he’s not the son of God.

I agree. He’s an amateur at best. From what I have read, much of his criticism is tossed at complete straw men arguments that no serious theologian would hold.

Could you describe which education in particular he has which enables him to comment intelligently on the relevant peer reviewed scholarly literature?

Intelligent commentary on any professional specialized body of knowledge requires a certain minimum of knowledge, training, and education on the field. I’m not talking about speculating at home about ‘Does God exist?’ over a late night bottle of red, I’m talking about actually publicizing your views authoritatively without engaging the relevant body of scholarly literature on the subject. Why is it ok for a biologist to pontificate authoritatively about a subject in which they have no training, and concerning which they fail to demonstrate even a minimum of essential knowledge? Dawkins on theology is (at best), like Hovind and Ham on Darwin. Like Sagan, Dawkins can’t even get rudimentary historical facts straight. How can I take him seriously on the subject when he hasn’t even done enough homework to get basic facts straight?

Could you describe in detail the research he has undertaken, and the which authoritative body has recognized his qualifications in the field?

I didn’t say anything about “relevant peer reviewed scholarly literature.” I’m saying he has a point to make, and he’s well within his rights to do so. You are free to discount it, but I don’t accept the validity of your criticism of his viewpoints on the basis that he doesn’t meet some qualification that you hold to be necessary.

Discussing whether God exists or not is all he’s doing. It’s not meant to be a work for theologians. You’ll have no argument from me there. It was meant to communicate quite simple ideas to a mass audience. He makes some good points.

When you describe in detail the work that Jesus did in the synagogue.

Quite. That’s part of the problem, as I’m pointing out.

I hear the creaking sound of shifting goalposts. His right to express his opinion is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the extent to which he is informed on the subject, and the extent to which his views should be regarded as well informed and taken seriously. You believe he is sufficiently informed, I do not. I’m asking why you think he’s sufficiently informed. So far we have ‘he’s a very good biologist’, and ‘he has done a lot of [unspecified] research’. It’s a start I suppose.

Quite apart from the fact that this is very clearly not all he is doing, even if this was all he was doing it wouldn’t hurt him to educate himself on the subject before speaking authoritatively on it.

In science it matters if you are factually accurate, and if you demonstrate an awareness of and engagement with the relevant facts and commentary which opposes your claims. Does this not apply when Dawkins speaks on other subjects?

When it was his turn, he read and expounded. Your turn.

[quote=“Fortigurn”]

I hear the creaking sound of shifting goalposts. His right to express his opinion is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the extent to which he is informed on the subject, and the extent to which his views should be regarded as well informed and taken seriously. You believe he is sufficiently informed, I do not. I’m asking why you think he’s sufficiently informed. So far we have ‘he’s a very good biologist’, and ‘he has done a lot of [unspecified] research’. It’s a start I suppose.[/quote]

What? You’re the one shifting goalposts, or rather setting goalposts that I never mentioned. All I said is he makes some good points, has a lot to say and is interesting. If you don’t want to take him seriously don’t. That’s your prerogative. You’re welcome to the myriad of arguments about his lack of qualifications you’re making in response to my simple statements as well. And I only mentioned the research as part of our aside about his qualifications compared to Jesus, this may have escaped you but it was a joke. Give me a break!

[quote]Discussing whether God exists or not is all he’s doing.[quote]

Quite apart from the fact that this is very clearly not all he is doing, even if this was all he was doing it wouldn’t hurt him to educate himself on the subject before speaking authoritatively on it. [/quote][/quote]

I agree there are faults to his book; we’ve discussed this before. But he still has a right to speak up without anyone trying to shout him down on the basis of a posited lack of qualifications.

[quote]It’s not meant to be a work for theologians. You’ll have no argument from me there. It was meant to communicate quite simple ideas to a mass audience. He makes some good points.

I’m just interested in the simple question of whether God exists, I don’t really care who’s talking about it, I’ll give a listen. Again, I think Dawson makes some good points, I don’t think he needs to be a theologian to do so. You think differently, and that’s fine.

He was a rebel, for all you know he was sitting in the back shooting spitballs at the kid in front of him :slight_smile: And Dawson has done that anyway.

Dawkins began attacking religion because religion began attacking science.
He is not trying to be cute and he is not trying to be passive. In our modern world it is a bit embarrassing for an mature adult to embrace old fairly tales as some kind of relevant magical power that controls our lives and our world.
It was when science really started to get attacked by the [strike]‘Artificial Intelegence’[/strike] *[Intelligent Design] folks that he sprung into action.
His argument is that there is no argument. Magic doesn’t exist, supernatural powers don’t exist, and allowing these old superstitions to propagate hurts our development as a species and causes unnecessary pain and suffering for billions of people both now, in the past and in the future.
I’m not glad your ‘convictions’ make you feel good because those same uncertainties that you have satisfied with your ‘beliefs’ are often perverted by less-than-righteous souls with evil agendas.
Science has made our world a better place to live, religion has not. This is because one is real and based while the other is make believe and baseless.

T

*EDIT

I think you mean so-called “Intelligent Design”, which I’ve heard aptly described as “creationism in a lab coat”.

I also find Dawkins’s views of religion intriguing, except that he always tries to tie everything to the basics of science. I enjoy Hitchens a bit more as a debater and in some of his arguments. It’s true that there are idiots of both sides. Much of Reza Aslan’s hate mail comes from atheists.