A Fire-side Reading of Dawkins' Hate Mail

All religions or just a tiny subset of Christianity? In modern times, when did the Catholic Church, for example, or the various Buddhist societies, begin attacking science?

I think that the point about ‘inteligent design’ is to get away from religious controversy and come to grips with the idea that the Universe has a designer.

Science is all about critique and asking hard questions.

Surely, ‘science’ can handle that.

You said a little more than that. Here are your claims.

  • He has a lot to say on the subject of atheism, and he says it well
    *I disagree that it takes any form of specialized knowledge to do so
  • 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
  • It doesn’t matter who he is
  • I feel he does, [say it well] and is more than well educated enough to do so

These are testable claims, and I am testing them. That’s what the scientific method is about. I am exploring the basis on which you believe these claims to be true. I have already explained why I consider them false, and provided a rational basis for doing so.

Again, no one is saying he has no right to say what he likes just because of a perceived lack of qualifications. His right to say whatever he likes is not in dispute, and never has been. This statement of yours is an obvious goalpost-shift.

I agree that he doesn’t need to be a theologian to make some good points, but that is not the subject under discussion. If you’re interested in the simple question of whether God exists, you would do yourself a real favour by reading superior literature on the subject.

He may well have been, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was qualified to do what he did.

Spitballs? :slight_smile:

Let me help.

No it wasn’t. I think you mean ‘intelligent design’ for a start, and that movement was around long before he started writing.

That’s not an argument, that’s simply an unsubstantiated statement. Fortunately Dawkins’ own arguments are more substantial than this.

Evidence please, from the relevant scholarly literature.

Could you suggest some readable atheism stuff then, please? Not devil’s advocate stuff that ends up being pro-religion, but something that really dismantles religion well. Without too much jargon, if possible.

You said a little more than that. Here are your claims.

  • He has a lot to say on the subject of atheism, and he says it well
    *I disagree that it takes any form of specialized knowledge to do so
  • 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
  • It doesn’t matter who he is
  • I feel he does, [say it well] and is more than well educated enough to do so

These are testable claims, and I am testing them. That’s what the scientific method is about. I am exploring the basis on which you believe these claims to be true. I have already explained why I consider them false, and provided a rational basis for doing so.

Again, no one is saying he has no right to say what he likes just because of a perceived lack of qualifications. His right to say whatever he likes is not in dispute, and never has been. This statement of yours is an obvious goalpost-shift.[/quote]

I disagree. He makes some good points, is all I’m saying. You have come up with a raft of arguments as to why that is impossible; I’m saying he is as capable of making a point as anyone else and that no special qualifications are needed for him to do so.

I agree that he doesn’t need to be a theologian to make some good points, but that is not the subject under discussion.[/quote]

I’m simply discussing that I think he makes some good points in his book; you must be talking with someone else.

I have asked you this question before and not gotten an answer I’m sure, but as Urodacus says, what literature? Something a simple layman like myself could understand of course.

[quote=“Fortigurn”]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.[/quote]

Well I doubt anyone wants an evolutionary scientist to do their plumbing, but the beautiful thing about having a grain of common sense is that you can refute almost every religious retort with zeal and professionalism. Dawkins just does it better than some others because he has a nice accent to punctuate his points. I have yet to find a point about religion that I don’t immediately find some hole in logic in, or some flaw. I’ve watched lots of debates, participated in quite a few as well, and finally, I’ve been referred to what were supposed to be the top dogs on the subject, and I left unimpressed.

It’s always a bit hilarious to hear theists arguing so very hard, for example, that a creator exists, when, of course they cannot prove it… and if they could, they’d still have to prove it was the creator they subscribe to, and not one of a hundred thousand different gods existing today.

Charles Templeton would be a famous one that comes to mind. He wrote Farewell to God.

He was considered at one time to be an even more dynamic evangelist than Billy Graham, but apparently suffered a crisis of faith and never recovered.

He died in 2001, an agnostic.

I have asked you this question before and not gotten an answer I’m sure, but as Urodacus says, what literature?[/quote]
If he says the bible, I’ll poop.

All religions or just a tiny subset of Christianity? In modern times, when did the Catholic Church, for example, or the various Buddhist societies, begin attacking science?[/quote]
A powerful subset of religionists that, for example, controls 30% of the government in the US (and 26%* is all that’s needed to set policy), and 50% or more in some states. This subset is called “fundamentalists”, and they include evangelical Christians, Islamic extremists, Mormons, and many orthodox Jews.

*Why 26%? If the Republicans have 50% + 1 vote of Congress, their way goes (as they vote in lockstep). And if 50% + 1 out of the Republicans are fundies, then the fundies set the GOP agenda.

All religions or just a tiny subset of Christianity? In modern times, when did the Catholic Church, for example, or the various Buddhist societies, begin attacking science?[/quote]
A powerful subset of religionists that, for example, controls 30% of the government in the US (and 26%* is all that’s needed to set policy), and 50% or more in some states. This subset is called “fundamentalists”, and they include evangelical Christians, Islamic extremists, Mormons, and many orthodox Jews.

*Why 26%? If the Republicans have 50% + 1 vote of Congress, their way goes (as they vote in lockstep). And if 50% + 1 out of the Republicans are fundies, then the fundies set the GOP agenda.[/quote]

No offense my friend, but the world is a big place and the fatuous beliefs of a portion of your countrymen does not support the claim that religion was attacking science (were that religion were capable of volition and movement, that is, a proposition I find rather incredible).

2 questions:

I find him to just be impassioned about the subject. He certainly gets us all talking about religion. What are your [color=#0040BF]specific[/color] objections to his take on religion?

Surely, scientists are allowed to try to enter the world of religion and believers the world of science? I see science and faith as being distinctly distinct spheres, but surely that shouldn’t prevent a scientist from discussing religion or a believer from trying to prove his faith via science if he wanted?

Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, and he sure is passionate about his field and anything that goes against it. It must be frustrating for him to see how few people believe in evolution these days, and religion is one of the main reasons so few people do. It’s not always religion attacking. Sometimes it’s just getting in the way.
“a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don’t have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity.”

gallup.com/poll/114544/darwi … ution.aspx

I know it’s just a poll of Americans, but it is still shocking.

How far does he need to read into the Bible before he reads things that go against evolution (and him)?

For an atheist who knows his Bible, I quite like Matt Dillahunty (bald guy). Someone just posted one of his videos yesterday, so I know I’m not the only one who likes him. I also quite like Tracie Harris from the same show. There are two parts to her video, but just watch a little if you just want to get an idea of what she’s like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLOXytYQ13I


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dk0nAzYqYU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrSwn4-fitA&feature=related

Previously I have suggested starting with Hecht’s ‘Doubt: A History’, which not only surveys some 5,000 years of skepticism and doubt by religious and non-religious people, but also identifies the most influential and widely recognized great atheist minds and their works. The most informed, well educated, and perceptive atheists are ex-Christians who have actually spent a great deal of time becoming familiar with the history of Christian theology, the history of doubt, and the interaction between the two. Such people do tend to be thin on the ground, however. Some modern Christian thinkers who are confirmed believers, can still present some of the best arguments against Christianity.

In my opinion, historical atheists worth reading (or closet atheists, or at least determined skeptics/agnostics), include Critias, Cicero, Lucretius, John Stuart Mill, David Hume, and Spinoza. Among modern atheists/strong agnostics/skeptics I’ve been impressed with Lawrence Moran, Stephen Asma, and Daniel Dennett, Massimo Pigliucci, H. Allen Orr, and John Wilkins, within their respective fields; Dennett is very good on the sociology, psychology, and evolutionary origin of religious belief, Orr against ‘Intelligent Design’, Wilkins and Pigliucci on the philosophy of religion.

Templeton deconverted from Fundamentalism, so his commentary is of limited use; he’s ok as one antidote to Fundamentalism I suppose.

Firstly that is not all you’re saying. I’ve listed your other claims. Secondly I have never said that it’s impossible for him to come up with some good points. Thirdly your claim that he is as capable of making ‘a point’ as anyone else and that no special qualifications are needed for him to do so, has never been in dispute.

I’m talking to whoever wrote this:

  • He has a lot to say on the subject of atheism, and he says it well
    *I disagree that it takes any form of specialized knowledge to do so
  • 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
  • It doesn’t matter who he is
  • I feel he does, [say it well] and is more than well educated enough to do so

Let me know when he returns.

hereI have actually answered this before. We’ve had this entire conversation before; see for example.

I would like to see the evidence for this. It’s not particularly convincing when people who undoubtedly have plenty of common sense, repeatedly make very basic factual errors.

He seems to do it better, because he popularizes his arguments and aims at the low hanging fruit of Fundamentalism, instead of addressing serious theological and philosophical argumentation. He deliberately targets the Christian minority, because it’s a lot easier than thinking deeply.

What do you do with theists who accept that the existence of God cannot be proven?

[quote]
Firstly that is not all you’re saying. I’ve listed your other claims. Secondly I have never said that it’s impossible for him to come up with some good points. Thirdly your claim that he is as capable of making ‘a point’ as anyone else and that no special qualifications are needed for him to do so, has never been in dispute.[/quote]

That’s all I’m saying. It looks like there’s nothing else to discuss then.

[quote]I’m talking to whoever wrote this:

  • He has a lot to say on the subject of atheism, and he says it well
    *I disagree that it takes any form of specialized knowledge to do so
  • 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
  • It doesn’t matter who he is
  • I feel he does, [say it well] and is more than well educated enough to do so[/quote]

None of that is incompatible with what I say above, except the third point, which as I said wansn’t meant seriously, which I though was obvious.

He’s gone I think.

hereI have actually answered this before. We’ve had this entire conversation before; see for example.[/quote]

I don’t see where in those links, but I’ve probably forgotten. I’ll take a look at that list above though.

arrhhh stretching. I’m felling a little rusty. I haven’t gotten into it with the God folk for quite some time. Here we go.

  [i] Then...[/i]

Yes, of course. Simple brain lapse.

    [i] Then...[/i]

I don’t think i need to produce a list of all the wonderful advancements science and technology has brought our world. Actually, just look at your computer screen; that, in itself, is comprised of a few thousand people’s life work, a few dozen Nobel Prizes and a couple posts by achdizzy1099. An amazing, and tangible, human achievement; a scientific achievement. And no, God was not on that list.
As for scholarly literature? I typically forgo reading and simply flip to the explosions, gunfire and dead bodies broadcast so well on CNN. When it comes to the enless debate and anlysis of religion I have to be honest, I am not in the Atheism business and I do not make money pushing Atheism. These debates are mind numbingly trite and I always feel stupid getting involved in rationalizing the irrational (as I continue to type…). My only ‘conviction’ is knowing that as information becomes free and available around the world more and more people are starting to realize that old time belief systems are foolish, repressing, violent and a waste of time. Some will turn to Atheism, others will join newer, more modern religions like Mormonism or even Scientology. Granted, given enough time and membership, these two will be fighting each other in the next millennia!


Science, something I know a great deal about, it the only true knowledge human beings have ever uncovered. Religion, by definition, is antipodal to science as one uses a process of hypothesis, observation, analysis and conclusion, while the other starts with conclusion and then scrambles to fill the absence of observation with magical powers and tall tales, creating a dogma that gets analyzed to death by otherwise cognizant and reasonable adults.

Religion’s roots always lie with smart and ambitious men who, by recognizing fundamental human insecurities, gained power through fear mongering. The older the religion the more staying power it has because it’s relics and origins are long gone. A lot like memories, they gain a bit of a value-added patina with each passing year. Most of us laugh at Scientology or Mormonism, but these new dogma’s have been created by the same confused and scared human beings seeking answers to the unanswerable. The problem is, like all the older (more common) religions, they were made up by men who made money/gained power from them and thus suffer from the same subcutaneous imperfections, ripe for perversion.

   [u] Then...[/u]

I’m tired of the endless quote game, just revert back to dashgalaxy86’s post.

I’d like to say “I don’t care what others think, whatever makes you happy!”, but I do care, because it is those that subscriber to these old dogmas that allow them to exist and thus proliferate unneccesary conflict and suffering throughout my world. This is why I support Dawkins and why I adore Bill Maher. Often humor, and not analysis, cuts cleaner to the root of these issues.

T

Chalk them up to “I don’t care, no one knows, I don’t know and I don’t want into this conversation”.

I love the quote from the non-bald guy in your first video when responding to the caller paraphrasing “Yeah, there are a lot of really good, well intentioned people in this world who happen to call themselves Christians”

When did the Christians get the monopoly on just ‘being a good person’?

looks like this forum has morphed into another over [url=Theism vs. Atheism: Civil Discussion

T

[quote=“ThreadKiller”]2 questions:

I find him to just be impassioned about the subject. He certainly gets us all talking about religion. What are your [color=#0040BF]specific[/color] objections to his take on religion?

Surely, scientists are allowed to try to enter the world of religion and believers the world of science? I see science and faith as being distinctly distinct spheres, but surely that shouldn’t prevent a scientist from discussing religion or a believer from trying to prove his faith via science if he wanted?[/quote]

My specific objection is that I want to hear him talk about evolutionary biology and nothing more. I don’t like the way he sets about trying to mock faith. It is beneath him and not worthy of his time or mine. His documentary about religious schools in Great Britain was bad at best. When he is dissecting a whale or talking about bone structure or eye viscosity he is on to something. When he is spewing figures about government policy about faith schools he is not. Attacking mumsnet. :hand:
He equally attacks areas of science which he finds discreditable like homeopathy and tries to force his view of how science should be done onto those who disagree. There is something smug about him when he does this which I don’t think is doing him any favors. Even the youtube video stinks of smugness as he attacks the grammar of his haters. I reckon he should stick to what he knows best, evolutionary biology, rather than trying to shove his views on religion and politics down the reader/viewers throat. He seems to treat his audience as if they were dumb. Not a good thing to do. If he wants to be remembered in the future, which he should as he is a genius at evolutionary science then he should stick to that.

Just like Chomsky, I fear he will grow to be ridiculed rather than revered. History might just remember another timewaster trying to prove that there is no God. Rather than a brilliant scientific mind. Give it up. Specify don’t diversify.

He is free to do what he pleases, but in terms of making a reputable career he should publicly stick to what he does best. In my opinion that is science and nothing more.

GOOD!
:loco: Homeopathy :loco: is not science. It is non-science and nonsense. :loco: Homeopathists :loco: give people water and tell them it’s medicine.

From wiki:

"He (Dawkins) has sat on judging panels for awards as diverse as the Royal Society’s Faraday Award and the British Academy Television Awards,[7] and has been president of the Biological Sciences section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. "

Sounds like someone who really wants to promote science, and knows what good science is.

Oh NO! You just invoked Chomsky! The linguist who thinks he knows something about political philosophy.

He always seemed to me like one of those nice, gentle, pathetic guys that you had to help cut their grass, 'cuz they didn’t know how to start there lawn mower.

But, he’s good for quotes, if you’re desperate for a dissenting opinion.

I haven’t actually read the book so I am hesitant to comment but I will give it a go anyway. Dawkin’s is trying to convert people to atheism. He’s not going to do this by writing a scholarly work that few people will read. He needs to write a book that is relatively simple to get through and easy to understand. He’s writing for the masses, not for the scholars. He wants to get people talking about atheism and religion. He wants people to begin questioning their religious ideas and exploring the issues. His book seems to have done that to some extent.