20 April 2012

Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss in conversation at ANU

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ANU has published to YouTube an hour and a half of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Kraus in conversation here in Canberra with this lengthy note:

Critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other topics at this event entitled ‘Something for Nothing’. This video was recorded at The Australian National University on 10 April 2012.

Richard Dawkins FRS is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. Born in British colonial Africa, he was educated in England, where he now lives. He did his doctorate at Oxford under the Nobel Prize winning zoologist Niko Tinbergen, then was briefly an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1967 to 1969, after which he returned to Oxford, first as a Lecturer in Zoology, then Reader, before being elected to his present professorship.

He is the author of nine books: The Selfish Gene (1976, 2nd Ed 1989), The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The Ancestor’s Tale (2004) and The God Delusion (2006). The God Delusion has sold more than two million copies in English, and is being published in 30 other languages. Dawkins is now editing an anthology of scientific writing for Oxford University Press, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. In 2006, to promote the values of education, science, and critical thinking skills, he established The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) which is now a registered charity in both the UK and USA.

Richard Dawkins has Honorary Doctorates of Literature as well as Science, and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the Nakayama Prize, the Cosmos International Prize, the Kistler Prize, the Shakespeare Prize and the Lewis Thomas Prize.

Lawrence M. Krauss is a renowned cosmologist and science populariser, and is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. Hailed by Scientific American as a rare public intellectual, he is also the author of more than three hundred scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek, and his most recent bestseller entitled A Universe from Nothing.

He received his PhD from MIT in 1982 and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard, and was a professor at Yale University and Chair of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University before taking his present position. Internationally known for his work in theoretical physics, he is the winner of numerous international awards, and is the only physicist to have received major awards from all three US physics societies, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Krauss is also a commentator and essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, and the Wall St. Journal, and has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American and appears regularly on radio and television. He is one of the few scientists to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, and is also active in issues of science and society. He serves as co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

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poetix said :

Yes, female genital mutilation is big in the Anglican church. Almost as big as lemon butter.

So you’ve kind of got the point: the beliefs that have backed-off somewhat from contradicting reality (eg, the major Christian sects). have the least outrageous irrational practices.

poetix said :

I find it amusing that you give these aggressive diatribes and then criticise people for being defensive.

Which is exactly the approach being taken against Dawkins: they don’t like what he says, they can’t deny the truth in his statements, so they complain about the *way* it has been said.

I believe that approach is now called “tone-trolling” – diverting a debate by offering inconsequential comment about the tone being used by some participants.

poetix said :

I seem to remember birder offering to explain his (or her, sorry, that’s a fault I must overcome) point of view on how science and religion can co-exist, and how science can not explain everything, and basically being ignored, except for pre-emptive aggression. It’s important to yell about evidence, while not hearing any alternative point of view.

I see you are confused. Birder wasn’t talking about irrational belief being able to co-exist with reason (which would be a nonsense, obviously), it was Birder who decided to bring up evidence, in this way:

There is both logical and scientific evidence that points toward something outside of the natural world – powerful evidence in my opinion.

So Birder apparently has some supernatural “evidence” up his sleeve. “Evidence” so powerful nobody else can see it.

A bit like *your* evidence of Dawkins’ being an arsehole: you admit it doesn’t exist in this video we are discussing. So he wasn’t an arsehole?

Bramina said :

As I have written before in this thread, I think what he says is correct. I just don’t think that warrants being an asshole.

And again, it’s worth pointing out that people whose wrongness has just been publicly identified are not the most objective when it comes to deciding who is being an arsehole.

Basically, Dawkins argues fact, and the deluded believers of fairy stories engage in ad-hominems in response – a classic error in logic on their part.

It is spelled “arsehole”, BTW, please try to learn the correct spelling.

Bramina said :

I do not see why being an asshole is necessary to prevent society from slipping into a dark age. Why is it being an asshole the only way?

Good to see you employing the full panoply of illogic here.

Bramina said :

Are there not other ways of influencing and persuading people? Are these ways not better.

Like, maybe, accomodationism, where truth is muddied and the people who are wrong are encouraged to cling to their wrongness, thus solving nothing?

Or were you thinking more of appeasement, a technique whereby the deluded imagine that bad things, bad faith and dishonesty will just magically go away all by themselves if everybody just pretends they’re not really there?

Bramina said :

As for people’s beliefs harming society, I think you assume that society would not function properly if people did not understand things, and then you conclude that because society has functions well, people must understand things.

But this is poor logic. There is no reason to think that the assumption that society needs people who understand most things if it is to function.

Right, because places with high levels of education (like, say Western Europe) are not vastly more successful societies than places where there is no education (like, say, Bangladesh).

Knowledge isn’t just power, it is also a key to economic success.
The Taliban are a perfect example of the direction that anti-knowledge would like to take us. And George Pell and anybody who makes excuses for him are taking steps down the same path.

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

As I have written before in this thread, I think what he says is correct. I just don’t think that warrants being an asshole.

I do not see why being an asshole is necessary to prevent society from slipping into a dark age. Why is it being an asshole the only way? Are there not other ways of influencing and persuading people? Are these ways not better.

As for people’s beliefs harming society, I think you assume that society would not function properly if people did not understand things, and then you conclude that because society has functions well, people must understand things.

But this is poor logic. There is no reason to think that the assumption that society needs people who understand most things if it is to function.

This flies in the face of evidence that people don’t understand most things. If you tested people on university exam questions in science, law, economics, medicine, etc. almost every single person alive would fail miserably.

It is more logical to say that society works even though people are ignorant of most things, therefore high levels of ignorance are not harmful to society.

There is plenty of evidence to corroborate this. Economics teaches us that people are specialists who only need to be good at their speciality. Historically, there is little correlation between the religiousness of society and how it functions. I could go on…

But I won’t.

Gungahlin Al9:17 pm 28 Apr 12

LSWCHP said :

There seems to be a lot of hatin’ on Professor Dawkins here, and I just don’t get it. I watched the entire vid last night, and he seems like an intelligent, pleasant and witty bloke who spoke in a civil manner throughout. Based on what I saw I’d categorise him as a nice man, and I’d be happy to have him over for dinner.

What are the particular bits where he behaves like an “asshole” or is not “nice”?

You are right – he was perfectly OK on that night. Unless you’re a fan of Cardinal Pell perhaps.
At other times though…

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

Yes, female genital mutilation is big in the Anglican church. Almost as big as lemon butter.

I find it amusing that you give these aggressive diatribes and then criticise people for being defensive. I seem to remember birder offering to explain his (or her, sorry, that’s a fault I must overcome) point of view on how science and religion can co-exist, and how science can not explain everything, and basically being ignored, except for pre-emptive aggression. It’s important to yell about evidence, while not hearing any alternative point of view.

People who do not relish aggression will simply withdraw. That doesn’t mean you are right, just that you use the tactics of a playground bully. My husband, for example, tells me I am mad to attempt to engage in any debate with you at all, that it’s worthless. But the issues you yell about are nonetheless interesting.

As to #86, LSWCHP, I base my views on Dawkins on a lot of his work, not just this talk.

There seems to be a lot of hatin’ on Professor Dawkins here, and I just don’t get it. I watched the entire vid last night, and he seems like an intelligent, pleasant and witty bloke who spoke in a civil manner throughout. Based on what I saw I’d categorise him as a nice man, and I’d be happy to have him over for dinner.

What are the particular bits where he behaves like an “asshole” or is not “nice”?

Bramina said :

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

Correction…Not much at all…

HenryBG said :

birder said :

There is both logical and scientific evidence that points toward something outside of the natural world – powerful evidence in my opinion. .

You see, if there *were* any such supernatural evidence, then it wouldn’t just be your opinion, it would be a fact.

Since the year Dot, people have assumed that anything that lies beyond their understanding is supernatural. Lightning, earthquakes, the moon and the stars, the diversity of species, you name it, if it was mysterious, people came up with a supernatural explanation for it.

Until the scientific revolution.

300 years ago, people came up with the intellectual tools to enable us to use reason to explain the world around us.

And today, 300 years after humanity developed these skills, we *still* have people who seek irrational, supernatural explanations for the stuff that confuses them.

I can understand Dawkins’ frustration…I mean, what are these people thinking?

Not much at really. 🙂

birder said :

There is both logical and scientific evidence that points toward something outside of the natural world – powerful evidence in my opinion. .

You see, if there *were* any such supernatural evidence, then it wouldn’t just be your opinion, it would be a fact.

Since the year Dot, people have assumed that anything that lies beyond their understanding is supernatural. Lightning, earthquakes, the moon and the stars, the diversity of species, you name it, if it was mysterious, people came up with a supernatural explanation for it.

Until the scientific revolution.

300 years ago, people came up with the intellectual tools to enable us to use reason to explain the world around us.

And today, 300 years after humanity developed these skills, we *still* have people who seek irrational, supernatural explanations for the stuff that confuses them.

I can understand Dawkins’ frustration…I mean, what are these people thinking?

Damn, that girl at 1:07ish was annoyingly stupid…

poetix said :

Jim Jones said :

….

And why ‘a’ deity? For most of human history, polytheism was the accepted norm. Polytheism also seems to me to be a lot more flexible and tolerant on the whole.

People classed as untouchables in India might argue with you about that!

I did say ‘on the whole’.

Jim Jones said :

….

And why ‘a’ deity? For most of human history, polytheism was the accepted norm. Polytheism also seems to me to be a lot more flexible and tolerant on the whole.

People classed as untouchables in India might argue with you about that!

birder said :

I’m not interested in a nasty debate.

You’re probably in the wrong place then.

I dunno if I agree with you that “the notion of a deity (whether Christian or otherwise) is essential to the way most people live today”. Have a close look at the Australian census results, and a lot of people ticked the ‘Christian’ box because they have a cultural (rather than spiritual/religious/etc.) affiliation. An utter feckload of people I talk to regularly describe themselves as ‘Christian’, but when questioned, haven’t really given much consideration to whether God exists or not. Most people seem to live daily lives with nary a consideration for metaphysics – and it’s impossible to tell whether someone is a ‘believer’ from the way that they live their life; it’s just not part of pragmatic existence.

And why ‘a’ deity? For most of human history, polytheism was the accepted norm. Polytheism also seems to me to be a lot more flexible and tolerant on the whole.

There is both logical and scientific evidence that points toward something outside of the natural world – powerful evidence in my opinion. I am not on a conversion mission here – I am simply saying that if you are interested, you could read folks such as Francis Collins (again, head of the Human Genome Project – smart guy who became a Christian as an adult because he felt the weight of the evidence was in that direction). John Lennox’s God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? is a good discussion of why positing God as merely the filler of gaps in scientific knowledge is an immature, straw-man argument. Rather, the notion of a deity (whether Christian or otherwise) is essential to the way most people live today. I’m happy to give short explanations of the arguments if people want, but I’m not interested in a nasty debate.

You do realise most Australians still have some religious belief? And yet we don’t have the Spanish Inquisition. Even this article from an atheist perspective, based on the census, has to show how few nominate themselves as having no religious belief compared with some belief, although, of course, it maximizes the numbers in the former category by including those who did not state a religion or did so ‘inadequately’:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_Australia

The surveys done elsewhere show that of those who are unsure, the vast majority are just that, not full-on atheists. This discussion hasn’t really reflected that, as it was led off by an atheist and there seem to be a few very confident atheists contributing, God bless their cute little certainties.

But to get to an important matter, will it be Dawkins, Ajay or Owen for the Mully?

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yeah, and that’s all fine and well for normal daily interaction. But if he’s turning up at a conference/seminar/whatever to discuss religion, then there’s an obligation to strive for truthiness rather than being ‘nice’. And lets face it, telling people that their god isn’t real (and is silly into the bargain) isn’t nice, whatever way you put it.

So what did Dawkins think of Canberra?

Something like this? “It’s not that Canberra is a soulless city; rather, Canberra is the city that god forgot about.”

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

HenryBG said :

Gungahlin Al said :

I prefer to believe that on almost every divisive issue, there is a continuum of positions from one extreme to the other. And people are somewhere along that continuum, but seldom at either pole. That’s why the world is really about shades of grey, although many media types would have us believe everything is either black or white.

Madamcholet put it very elegantly. Dawkins positions himself at the very pole of this particular issue. I may agree with him, but I don’t like the way he goes about it. You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it. It’s touch and go whether he does atheism more harm than good. In my personal opinion.

People pushing bulls*** just love this idea of “shades of grey”, which implies that, OK, people disagree, and maybe there’s *something* to this whole fairy in the sky business.

A couple of years ago I went down to the library and borrowed every single Dawkins book they had. (They couldn’t find “The God Delusion” for me. All 6 copies had apparently been nicked. Good old theists showing their intellectual ability to engage with their critics, eh?)

ANyway, I read all Dawkins books. He is very annoying. His books repeat themselves, he makes assertions which are not entirely logical, and he is abrasive.

On the other hand he is about 1,000,000 x more logical than any theologer can ever be, and he is about 1,000,000 x more clear than any philosopher has ever been.

So, I rate him highly – for adults who cannnot figure out for themselves the self-evident falseness of all the religious fantasies he criticises.

+1 for your eloquent response good sir.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back4:04 pm 26 Apr 12

Jim Jones said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

HenryBG said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

So you believe there *is* evidence out there to support the idea that (a mythical and invisible all-powerful being (who has done nothing to stop thousands of Ethiopians from starving to death)) is out there somewhere?

Where is your evidence that such evidence exists?

But isn’t this the point? We’re talking about something that may be outside the scope of science to explain.

FWIW, I vote we continue the discussion over some nice single malt scotch.

‘Outside the scope of science’? You mean outside the bounds of reason and logic? That’s the sort of argument that people make when they simply want to abandon logic and reason. Which is fine, just so long as as anyone who makes that argument also acknowledges that the entity that they’re attempting to talk about is beyond the realm of human understanding or discussion. In which case the entire escapade is futile. To bastardise Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.

Being beyond the realm of human understanding is exactly how god describes himself, if the bible is to be believed!

Ok, birder, “I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist.”

Why is it then that the most religious/Christian country in the first world, the United States, has the most incarcerated number of persons in the world (almost the world combined). If the stats are correct, there are just 7% officially who profess no religion. Using standard sampling techniques and probability, only 7% of the prison population are atheist, hence 93% are religious in some way. Even if there is a suggestion that atheists are less moral/good than theists (which of course I would strongly argue against) it would be near impossible to skew the stats of the US prison population that much to suggest 100% of them are atheist. In any case, even if there was just 1 theist in prision doesn’t that void the notion that religion makes people good and moral? So let’s assume the high probability there is more than 1 theist in US prisons, so then, how can religion/Christianity claim to be the guiding path to being good and morale? Some of the lowest prison populations are (I think) found in Russia and Europe where religion takes a back foot.

“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.” Steven Weinberg.

I also suggest go and read Sam Harris’ new book The Moral Landscape and you might find some answers through science and reason. You might even become an atheist!

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

HenryBG said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

So you believe there *is* evidence out there to support the idea that (a mythical and invisible all-powerful being (who has done nothing to stop thousands of Ethiopians from starving to death)) is out there somewhere?

Where is your evidence that such evidence exists?

But isn’t this the point? We’re talking about something that may be outside the scope of science to explain.

FWIW, I vote we continue the discussion over some nice single malt scotch.

‘Outside the scope of science’? You mean outside the bounds of reason and logic? That’s the sort of argument that people make when they simply want to abandon logic and reason. Which is fine, just so long as as anyone who makes that argument also acknowledges that the entity that they’re attempting to talk about is beyond the realm of human understanding or discussion. In which case the entire escapade is futile. To bastardise Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.

To clarify my comment: doesn’t require proof “because they just know”

HenryBG said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

So you believe there *is* evidence out there to support the idea that (a mythical and invisible all-powerful being (who has done nothing to stop thousands of Ethiopians from starving to death)) is out there somewhere?

Where is your evidence that such evidence exists?

Dawkins himself says that he is not 100% convinced that god doesn’t exist, only about 99.9999% convinced. I think anyone who is convinced 100% one way or the other is not being realistic nor logical. For those who have read The God Delusion you will know that Dawkins considers to be a 6.9 on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is a theist that doesn’t require proof and 7 an atheist that doesn’t require proof. I consider myself a 6.9 too. And for those who were lucky enough to attend the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne recently will know that Krauss was there too (albeit flogging his new book) but raised topics that touched on gaps in science as well as explaining how science can indeed explain philosophical questions such as morality and behaviour. You don’t need religion to be morale, in fact I find the two concepts diamietrically opposed.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back1:49 pm 26 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

So you believe there *is* evidence out there to support the idea that (a mythical and invisible all-powerful being (who has done nothing to stop thousands of Ethiopians from starving to death)) is out there somewhere?

Where is your evidence that such evidence exists?

But isn’t this the point? We’re talking about something that may be outside the scope of science to explain.

FWIW, I vote we continue the discussion over some nice single malt scotch.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

Until there is any evidence to believe in such a being, it’s only logical to withhold belief.

Waiting for “all the evidence to be in” is essentially waiting until there is evidence of existence, which will never happen if such a being doesn’t exist.

Regardless, humans are rarely logical anyway and will continue to squabble and bicker over who’s god is most awesome.

I’m a big fan of Thor myself – he’s had heaps of adventures and has a magic hammer. Much cooler than the lamo Christian God who hasn’t done anything for about 2000 years or something and was really boring even then.

milkman said :

HenryBG said :

birder said :

I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist.

So…you’re saying if we’re unsure about stuff, we make up something called “god” and decide to be certain about it?

That’s not what I took from that post.

It’s exactly what he’s saying.

Being confused is not a logical justification to believe something for which there is no evidence.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

So you believe there *is* evidence out there to support the idea that (a mythical and invisible all-powerful being (who has done nothing to stop thousands of Ethiopians from starving to death)) is out there somewhere?

Where is your evidence that such evidence exists?

VYBerlinaV8_is_back11:30 am 26 Apr 12

Jim Jones said :

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

But is all the evidence in? I don’t think we have any way of knowing.

birder said :

HenryBG said :

So…you’re saying if we’re unsure about stuff, we make up something called “god” and decide to be certain about it?

Not at all. I’m saying that you should not make declarative statements about something when you don’t have proof. My problem with Dawkins is that he stridently concludes from science that there is no God, when in fact science can’t tell us if there is a God or not. I am certainly sympathetic to the frustration with religion; as an American, I am horrified by what goes on in the name of Christianity in that country. I think Dawkins is emotionally committed to the premise that there is no God, and I can certainly understand why an intellectual might feel that way. But let’s be upfront that it’s not a scientific conclusion.

The ‘scientific’ (logical) conclusion is absolute clear: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the thesis that there is a god.

birder said :

Dawkins cannot make the conclusions he does from science. I read his God Delusion and felt embarrassed by the stridency. You can be an intellectual and a Christian – for example, Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. John Lennox does a good job of deconstructing Dawkins. For me, I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist. Reppert discusses Cs Lewis’ critique of naturalism: If we explain reason by naturalism, we are in danger of explaining it away. The problem with Dawkins is he is not a philosopher yet cannot recognize science cannot answer the questions of philosophy.

Um, birder, do you have any philosophical objections to polyandry? (I’m not so sure of the proper word if you’re female. It’s probably French, though.) And as, from a later post, I see you’re American, I’ll even forgive the ‘z’ in recognise… Well, almost. Christianity only stretches so far.

HenryBG said :

So…you’re saying if we’re unsure about stuff, we make up something called “god” and decide to be certain about it?

Not at all. I’m saying that you should not make declarative statements about something when you don’t have proof. My problem with Dawkins is that he stridently concludes from science that there is no God, when in fact science can’t tell us if there is a God or not. I am certainly sympathetic to the frustration with religion; as an American, I am horrified by what goes on in the name of Christianity in that country. I think Dawkins is emotionally committed to the premise that there is no God, and I can certainly understand why an intellectual might feel that way. But let’s be upfront that it’s not a scientific conclusion.

HenryBG said :

birder said :

Dawkins cannot make the conclusions he does from science. I read his God Delusion and felt embarrassed by the stridency. You can be an intellectual and a Christian – for example, Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. John Lennox does a good job of deconstructing Dawkins. For me, I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist. Reppert discusses Cs Lewis’ critique of naturalism: If we explain reason by naturalism, we are in danger of explaining it away. The problem with Dawkins is he is not a philosopher yet cannot recognize science cannot answer the questions of philosophy.

So…you’re saying if we’re unsure about stuff, we make up something called “god” and decide to be certain about it?

That’s not what I took from that post.

In science they use “x” rather than “god”, or in more extreme cases “higgs boson” rather than “god”.

😉

birder said :

Dawkins cannot make the conclusions he does from science. I read his God Delusion and felt embarrassed by the stridency. You can be an intellectual and a Christian – for example, Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. John Lennox does a good job of deconstructing Dawkins. For me, I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist. Reppert discusses Cs Lewis’ critique of naturalism: If we explain reason by naturalism, we are in danger of explaining it away. The problem with Dawkins is he is not a philosopher yet cannot recognize science cannot answer the questions of philosophy.

So…you’re saying if we’re unsure about stuff, we make up something called “god” and decide to be certain about it?

Dawkins cannot make the conclusions he does from science. I read his God Delusion and felt embarrassed by the stridency. You can be an intellectual and a Christian – for example, Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. John Lennox does a good job of deconstructing Dawkins. For me, I find too many questions about the nature of morality and the reliability of human intellect to be an atheist. Reppert discusses Cs Lewis’ critique of naturalism: If we explain reason by naturalism, we are in danger of explaining it away. The problem with Dawkins is he is not a philosopher yet cannot recognize science cannot answer the questions of philosophy.

Jim Jones said :

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Well let’s look at it this way. Within the church, there have been many people regarded as “nice” by their colleagues for helping keep their secrets hush from those outside the Church. Real good ol boys for keeping quiet (to steal a phrase from Don McLean.)

astrojax said :

well, strictly speaking, ‘lying’ implies that the speaker knows the ‘truth’ in the matter but makes a statement counter to this, usually in some attempt to gain some advantage or to corrupt the discussion. genuine adherents to their faith don’t meet the first criteria of this so it is rather disingenuous to use the prejorative ‘lying’ in this sense. if i genuinely believe something, be it false or not, i can’t be ‘lying’ by asserting it. and the atheists need to conclusively prove there is no god and have the faith holders acquiesce to this proof to then be able to assert ‘lying’ of their declarations.

I don’t think so.

If I assert, “I *know* high doses of Vitamin C can cure cancer”, then, unless I have some sort of evidence to back up my assertion, then I am lying: I do not “know” it, because I have no evidence.

And the one thing you do not get from the religious is uncertainty.
You will never hear George Pell saying, “Well, there is no evidence, so maybe there is no god, but I’m thinking that perhaps there might be, although I am uncertain”.
He pretends the lack of evidence is not relevant, he discards any scepticism or uncertainty, and states his quaint superstitious beliefs as though they were fact. This is what makes him a liar. (Bear in mind there is such a thing as the “white” lie, so lying isn’t necessarily a pejorative).

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

HenryBG said :

poetix said :

I’m very happy to be stupid with my beliefs rather than arrogant enough to suggest that people who have different beliefs are ‘lying’.

You don’t seem to get it.

Neither I, nor Dawkins, is expressing any sort of personal belief to you.

All that is going on here is that we are pointing out that the whole sky-fairy thing is non-factual.
We are saying that people who present it as if it were fact are lying.

I realise that the faithful are ideologically handicapped from recognising the non-factualness of their beliefs. (In fact, I find this lack of realisation to be amazingly breathtaking, because plenty of the faithful are far from stupid). So try this idea out for size:

You are in a room.
In that room are 999 other people – they are each a representative from a diffferent religion or belief system.
You realise that in that room of 1,000 people, by definition, 999 of them are wrong.
You then realise that everybody else in that room has realised the same thing.
Are you *really* so arrogant as to believe that your belief – which is entirely non-factual, like all the others – is definitely the right one? Are you really so *arrogant* as to believe that the other 999 people in that room are all completely wrong about their belief, even though their beliefs benefit from the exact same amount of factualness as yours does?

Seriously – wrap your head around that one, and then tell me that it is *I* (or Dawkins) who is the arrogant one.

well, strictly speaking, ‘lying’ implies that the speaker knows the ‘truth’ in the matter but makes a statement counter to this, usually in some attempt to gain some advantage or to corrupt the discussion. genuine adherents to their faith don’t meet the first criteria of this so it is rather disingenuous to use the prejorative ‘lying’ in this sense. if i genuinely believe something, be it false or not, i can’t be ‘lying’ by asserting it. and the atheists need to conclusively prove there is no god and have the faith holders acquiesce to this proof to then be able to assert ‘lying’ of their declarations.

this is why dawkins is a dork, though a persuasive and vastly intellectual one with many good, valid perspectives to offer this debate.

[disclaimer: i consider myself to be an atheist; or at least a highly cynical agnostic]

c_c said :

HenryBG said :

c_c said :

HenryBG said :

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning….

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

That awkward moment when someone points out “affirm” is a synonym for “assert.”

The meaning is not the same.

The former carries an implication of prior validation, which is why theists and deists would gravitate to it when all they are really doing is “asserting” something.

affirm / verb. 1 assert strongly, state as fact.

2

a Law make an affirmation, b make a formal declaration

assert / verb. 1 declare; state clearly.

assertion / noun. 1 a declaration; a forthright statement.

2

the act or an instance of asserting

(Australian Oxford Dictionary 5th edition)

Now you’re just being silly:


[with object] declare one’s support for; uphold; defend:
the referendum affirmed the republic’s right to secede
[with object] Law accept or confirm the validity of (a judgement or agreement); ratify:
the Court of Appeal affirmed a decision of the High Court
[no object] Law make a formal declaration rather than taking an oath:
he refused to take the oath but chose simply to affirm on being admitted to the Privy Council

“affirm” has extra connotations of prior validation.

It’s hardly an accident that somebody making a dishonest assertion would choose appropriate language.

HenryBG said :

c_c said :

HenryBG said :

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning….

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

That awkward moment when someone points out “affirm” is a synonym for “assert.”

The meaning is not the same.

The former carries an implication of prior validation, which is why theists and deists would gravitate to it when all they are really doing is “asserting” something.

affirm / verb. 1 assert strongly, state as fact. 2 a Law make an affirmation, b make a formal declaration

assert / verb. 1 declare; state clearly.

assertion / noun. 1 a declaration; a forthright statement. 2 the act or an instance of asserting

(Australian Oxford Dictionary 5th edition)

poetix said :

I’m very happy to be stupid with my beliefs rather than arrogant enough to suggest that people who have different beliefs are ‘lying’.

You don’t seem to get it.

Neither I, nor Dawkins, is expressing any sort of personal belief to you.

All that is going on here is that we are pointing out that the whole sky-fairy thing is non-factual.
We are saying that people who present it as if it were fact are lying.

I realise that the faithful are ideologically handicapped from recognising the non-factualness of their beliefs. (In fact, I find this lack of realisation to be amazingly breathtaking, because plenty of the faithful are far from stupid). So try this idea out for size:

You are in a room.
In that room are 999 other people – they are each a representative from a diffferent religion or belief system.
You realise that in that room of 1,000 people, by definition, 999 of them are wrong.
You then realise that everybody else in that room has realised the same thing.
Are you *really* so arrogant as to believe that your belief – which is entirely non-factual, like all the others – is definitely the right one? Are you really so *arrogant* as to believe that the other 999 people in that room are all completely wrong about their belief, even though their beliefs benefit from the exact same amount of factualness as yours does?

Seriously – wrap your head around that one, and then tell me that it is *I* (or Dawkins) who is the arrogant one.

c_c said :

HenryBG said :

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning….

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

That awkward moment when someone points out “affirm” is a synonym for “assert.”

The meaning is not the same.

The former carries an implication of prior validation, which is why theists and deists would gravitate to it when all they are really doing is “asserting” something.

There is something completely broken in the intellects of the faithful which prevents them from admitting that their faith has no prior, factual, validation, and is an entirely acquired “knowledge”.

HenryBG said :

poetix said :

It%u2019s interesting to read about Charles Darwin%u2019s views on religion; his reticence to use a %u2018negatively positive%u2019 word like atheist, as opposed to agnostic, and his continuing practical involvement in his local church. Also significant was his life-long respect for his wife%u2019s religious stance, which was not patronising, or based on a notion of the superiority of his own areas of expertise. In many ways his continual self-examination and acceptance of doubt is more like the notion of faith many Christians (not fundamentalists or hard-liners) have today than the certainty of big A atheists like Dawkins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin%u2018s_religious_views
(Para 3.1 of that article, for some reason I can%u2019t paste the right link.)

Dawkins strikes me as a mirror image of George Pell. ?That is not a good thing.

Charles Darwin was a citizen in a Theocracy. There wasn’t a whole lot of room for him to express his views, but it’s pretty clear that he is right up there in the short list of people whose intellects have forced religion to retreat from some of its dogmatic statements of non-fact.

And to equate Dawkins, who promotes truth, fact and rationalism, with Georg Pell, a leader in an organisation that promotes myth, lies and irrationalism is completely stupid.
Of course it’s a good thing to question purveyors of falsehood.

c_c said :

There is so much humanity does not understand, and so much we thought we understood and then realised we didn’t, that it’s arrogance to deny the possibility, and childish to affirm the existence.

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning. You are implying an assertion of truth. This is typical of the sort of confusion, illogic and wordplay that theists get involved in to support their logically and factually indefensible positions.

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

If nobody “childishly” asserts the existence of god, then there is nothing for anybody else to “deny”, arrogantly, or otherwise.

It’s a bit lame to ignore the non-factual assertion and pile on criticism for Dawkins’ response to it: if nobody was lying about religion, none of us would have ever heard about Richard Dawkins.

I’m very happy to be stupid with my beliefs rather than arrogant enough to suggest that people who have different beliefs are ‘lying’. You make what seems to me a very crude distinction between belief and how that belief is expressed. I find it hard to think of anyone further removed from the crude, self-absorbed and loud arrogance that I detect in some atheists’ thought and expresion than Jesus Christ. And that’s a good thing. It is certainly telling to someone like me who was raised as an atheist and has tendencies towards a little arrogance herself.

The point obviously needs to be made again that not all Christians are George Pell, whose certainty I also find disturbing, just as most atheists don’t engage in the sort of behaviour described in #42. But you probably think a bit of public idea-casting is fine, if it’s for the ‘truth’ as you define it. What a lovely truth that is.

Dawkins is a dick.

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Thumper said :

Dawkins is an arrogant prick who is completely and utterly dismissive, to the point of ridicule, of anyone that doesn’t have his view.

Allow me to repeat the point that he ridicules bad ideas, not people. When people like George Pell decide that they are an embodiment of those bad ideas, well they’ve brought it on themselves haven’t they?

As for dismissive, a good scientist dismisses ideas that are at odds with the evidence. That is how it works.

The reactions to him in this thread seem at odds with his conduct in the linked video too.

But ridiculing a person’s ideas IS criticising the person.

Factually, logically, on the matter of the science, Dawkins is right.

Empathetically, on a human level, he is an arrogant schmuck.

There was a young woman who asked a question after the talk. Dawkins and Kraus demolished her. Factually and logically. But she was really upset and ran out of the theatre. Even when it was obvious that she was upset by his cold hard truths, Dawkins kept up at her.

All Dawkins achieved was to hurt her. Ultimately, that makes him wrong.

Pretty much every person on this planet has bad ideas, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be ridiculed.

Incidentally, try to tell a scientist that something they believe is at odds with the evidence. They hate it just as much as anyone else. Even better – try Dawkins’ manner while you do it.

c_c said :

HenryBG said :

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning….

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

That awkward moment when someone points out “affirm” is a synonym for “asset.”

*assert

!%$&& auto-correct

Thoroughly Smashed11:08 am 23 Apr 12

Thumper said :

Dawkins is an arrogant prick who is completely and utterly dismissive, to the point of ridicule, of anyone that doesn’t have his view.

Allow me to repeat the point that he ridicules bad ideas, not people. When people like George Pell decide that they are an embodiment of those bad ideas, well they’ve brought it on themselves haven’t they?

As for dismissive, a good scientist dismisses ideas that are at odds with the evidence. That is how it works.

The reactions to him in this thread seem at odds with his conduct in the linked video too.

HenryBG said :

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning….

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

That awkward moment when someone points out “affirm” is a synonym for “asset.”

poetix said :

It’s interesting to read about Charles Darwin’s views on religion; his reticence to use a ‘negatively positive’ word like atheist, as opposed to agnostic, and his continuing practical involvement in his local church. Also significant was his life-long respect for his wife’s religious stance, which was not patronising, or based on a notion of the superiority of his own areas of expertise. In many ways his continual self-examination and acceptance of doubt is more like the notion of faith many Christians (not fundamentalists or hard-liners) have today than the certainty of big A atheists like Dawkins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin‘s_religious_views
(Para 3.1 of that article, for some reason I can’t paste the right link.)

Dawkins strikes me as a mirror image of George Pell.  That is not a good thing.

Charles Darwin was a citizen in a Theocracy. There wasn’t a whole lot of room for him to express his views, but it’s pretty clear that he is right up there in the short list of people whose intellects have forced religion to retreat from some of its dogmatic statements of non-fact.

And to equate Dawkins, who promotes truth, fact and rationalism, with Georg Pell, a leader in an organisation that promotes myth, lies and irrationalism is completely stupid.
Of course it’s a good thing to question purveyors of falsehood.

c_c said :

There is so much humanity does not understand, and so much we thought we understood and then realised we didn’t, that it’s arrogance to deny the possibility, and childish to affirm the existence.

a. You use the word “affirm”. This is a very loaded word to use in this context due to its range of meaning. You are implying an assertion of truth. This is typical of the sort of confusion, illogic and wordplay that theists get involved in to support their logically and factually indefensible positions.

Let’s pretend you used the word “assert”.

If nobody “childishly” asserts the existence of god, then there is nothing for anybody else to “deny”, arrogantly, or otherwise.

It’s a bit lame to ignore the non-factual assertion and pile on criticism for Dawkins’ response to it: if nobody was lying about religion, none of us would have ever heard about Richard Dawkins.

Holy crap! linked to by the lord dawk hisself!

http://richarddawkins.net/videos/645683-richard-dawkins-and-lawrence-krauss-something-from-nothing-at-anu

That’s going on the dating profile!

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Gungahlin Al said :

It bothers me that Dawkins is so hard-line in his opinions and dismissive of other people (not just their opinions). But every field has to have their extremists I guess, and they serve a useful function in making other more moderate people stand out as more pragmatic and reasonable.

Extremist?

Extremism is murdering people who don’t agree with you.

I have to agree with Al on this point.

Dawkins is an arrogant prick who is completely and utterly dismissive, to the point of ridicule, of anyone that doesn’t have his view.

Tolerance is obviously a word that does not exist in his world.

This is not a good thing.

However, having said that, I generally agree with him, to a point.

It’s interesting to read about Charles Darwin’s views on religion; his reticence to use a ‘negatively positive’ word like atheist, as opposed to agnostic, and his continuing practical involvement in his local church. Also significant was his life-long respect for his wife’s religious stance, which was not patronising, or based on a notion of the superiority of his own areas of expertise. In many ways his continual self-examination and acceptance of doubt is more like the notion of faith many Christians (not fundamentalists or hard-liners) have today than the certainty of big A atheists like Dawkins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin‘s_religious_views
(Para 3.1 of that article, for some reason I can’t paste the right link.)

Dawkins strikes me as a mirror image of George Pell.  That is not a good thing.

Gungahlin Al3:05 pm 22 Apr 12

Interesting…The Dawkins Foundation (his own organisation) has featured this RA article on their own website and spread it via Twitter:

@rdfrs: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss: Something from Nothing, at ANU – Riotact (Canberra Australia) http://richarddawkins.net/videos/645683-richard-dawkins-and-lawrence-krauss-something-from-nothing-at-anu

HenryBG said :

The bit where Dawkins goes a little wrong is in failing to explore the idea that an untrue belief *may* offer benefits to individuals, communities and societies as a whole. He seems to have decided they don’t, and I’m not sure this is very much better than a mere opinion.

I have very little interest in philosophers, so I may have missed the debate you allude to. It just so happens that I personally have not come across any criticism of Dawkins that wasn’t obvious apologism for religion.

I don’t think Dawkins denies that religion, even if a falsehood, can still provide practical and psychological benefits, only that the concept of religion stems from early human characteristics that we should now have evolved beyond. Religion therefore while offering some benefits, are not the only, and should not continue to be the source of such benefits.

Personally though I think it would be better to focus more on the politics of religion and less on the supernatural, the question of whether or not there’s a god and whether or not we should believe or disbelieve that possibility?

There is so much humanity does not understand, and so much we thought we understood and then realised we didn’t, that it’s arrogance to deny the possibility, and childish to affirm the existence.

We can though interrogate questions regarding the church. How evidence points to the church over the centuries rearranging biblical texts so that it would fit cannon law and enable them to make more saints. Changing the order of events and when people were said to exist for example so it would fit more neatly and in essence, make a better story!

Ultimately whether or not there really is a god is a moot point, because if there is one, he (or she) is silent, and it’s humanity’s expression and interpretation of religion that is the bigger issue. It was humanity’s interpretation that has largely given rise to many of the International Relations and financial woes of the past 10 years.

Gungahlin Al said :

You are bundling everyone who criticises Dawkins together here. Not valid. Many criticise him from their own religious perspective. For them you are right. Others (inc myself) do not have any issue with his science, but with his manner.

Similarly in the second quote you seem to bundle everyone together who disagrees with Dawkins’ approach as accommodating religion in their own beliefs in some manner? Like agnostics. Some may. But again: I think a lot of people are simply prepared to let other people believe whatever they want to believe as long as it isn’t of detriment to others. There’s a big difference between accommodating someone else’s right to believe as they choose, and accommodating their beliefs into your own.

For me, it’s all about his people skills (or lack thereof), and nothing to do with his science, which I have no issue with at all.

Well, the drunken uncle who gets up at Christmas Dinner and tells all the children Santa Claus is a fantasy is most definitely a bore.

However, we are talking here about an adult conversation between adults, some of whom get very upset when their childish beliefs are called out for the fantasy they are.

There is no middle ground between the truth and lies. It is unreasonable to criticise Dawkins for refusing to give ground on where the truth lies, because there is zero truth in myth and fantasy.

The bit where Dawkins goes a little wrong is in failing to explore the idea that an untrue belief *may* offer benefits to individuals, communities and societies as a whole. He seems to have decided they don’t, and I’m not sure this is very much better than a mere opinion.

I have very little interest in philosophers, so I may have missed the debate you allude to. It just so happens that I personally have not come across any criticism of Dawkins that wasn’t obvious apologism for religion.

Gungahlin Al12:33 pm 22 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

…And that’s kind of the point: Dawkins’ critics can’t manage even a fraction of his logic and clarity, so it is the height of hypocrisy when they pick up on whatever faults they can find in Dawkins’ writings.

The accomodationists who try to placate the deists and theists have to abandon logic and reason to do so. Their target audience then lauds their nonsense by agreeing among themselves that this is more “reasonable” than Dawkins. It’s not. It’s far less reasonable.

You are bundling everyone who criticises Dawkins together here. Not valid. Many criticise him from their own religious perspective. For them you are right. Others (inc myself) do not have any issue with his science, but with his manner.

Similarly in the second quote you seem to bundle everyone together who disagrees with Dawkins’ approach as accommodating religion in their own beliefs in some manner? Like agnostics. Some may. But again: I think a lot of people are simply prepared to let other people believe whatever they want to believe as long as it isn’t of detriment to others. There’s a big difference between accommodating someone else’s right to believe as they choose, and accommodating their beliefs into your own.

For me, it’s all about his people skills (or lack thereof), and nothing to do with his science, which I have no issue with at all.

Gungahlin Al said :

Putting aside some statements above I find self-conflicting, your description of his books is precisely why the copy of The Greatest Show of Earth remains in my drawer with no more than 100 pages read.

I think you will find if you read it carefully that there is no contradiction in what I wrote.
Being 1,000,000 more logical than a theologer doesn’t mean you are 100% logical.
Being 1,000,000 more clear than a philosopher doesn’t mean you are 100% clear.

And that’s kind of the point: Dawkins’ critics can’t manage even a fraction of his logic and clarity, so it is the height of hypocrisy when they pick up on whatever faults they can find in Dawkins’ writings.

Bramina said :

Yeah. Dawkins is an extremist. There are far more logical, reasoned and less abrasive people writing on this matter than him.

I thought it was funny when he said that QandA stacked the audience towards George Pell, and the Tony Jones was being blatantly biased.

You can’t get more logical or reasoned than saying, as Dawkins does, that religion is myth, people pushing religion are pushing lies, and pushing lies to children is absolutely reprehensible. This is not extremism, just simple statement of facts.

The accomodationists who try to placate the deists and theists have to abandon logic and reason to do so. Their target audience then lauds their nonsense by agreeing among themselves that this is more “reasonable” than Dawkins. It’s not. It’s far less reasonable.

Gungahlin Al8:11 am 22 Apr 12

LSWCHP said :

HenryBG said :

Gungahlin Al said :

I prefer to believe that on almost every divisive issue, there is a continuum of positions from one extreme to the other. And people are somewhere along that continuum, but seldom at either pole. That’s why the world is really about shades of grey, although many media types would have us believe everything is either black or white.

Madamcholet put it very elegantly. Dawkins positions himself at the very pole of this particular issue. I may agree with him, but I don’t like the way he goes about it. You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it. It’s touch and go whether he does atheism more harm than good. In my personal opinion.

People pushing bulls*** just love this idea of “shades of grey”, which implies that, OK, people disagree, and maybe there’s *something* to this whole fairy in the sky business.

Spot on Henry. I’m with Dawkins all the way on the whole sky fairy thing. All of the soi-disant great religions are simply a bunch of nonsense made up a long time ago by uneducated people who didn’t know how things worked.

Eventually, Christianity et al will go the way of the Norse Gods, the Greek Gods and all the other silly gods who have been number one on the hit parade at some time. The sooner the better, too.

Ah I have just clicked. My shades of grey thing wasn’t about degrees of religious belief as it seems you are saying but about required behaviour to others and their beliefs. But I can see how what I wrote could be interpreted that way. Perils of composing a longish comment on a tiny screen that just won’t scroll in the comment box…

HenryBG said :

Gungahlin Al said :

I prefer to believe that on almost every divisive issue, there is a continuum of positions from one extreme to the other. And people are somewhere along that continuum, but seldom at either pole. That’s why the world is really about shades of grey, although many media types would have us believe everything is either black or white.

Madamcholet put it very elegantly. Dawkins positions himself at the very pole of this particular issue. I may agree with him, but I don’t like the way he goes about it. You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it. It’s touch and go whether he does atheism more harm than good. In my personal opinion.

People pushing bulls*** just love this idea of “shades of grey”, which implies that, OK, people disagree, and maybe there’s *something* to this whole fairy in the sky business.

Spot on Henry. I’m with Dawkins all the way on the whole sky fairy thing. All of the soi-disant great religions are simply a bunch of nonsense made up a long time ago by uneducated people who didn’t know how things worked.

Eventually, Christianity et al will go the way of the Norse Gods, the Greek Gods and all the other silly gods who have been number one on the hit parade at some time. The sooner the better, too.

Gungahlin Al said :

Putting aside some statements above I find self-conflicting, your description of his books is precisely why the copy of The Greatest Show of Earth remains in my drawer with no more than 100 pages read.

Yeah. Dawkins is an extremist. There are far more logical, reasoned and less abrasive people writing on this matter than him.

I thought it was funny when he said that QandA stacked the audience towards George Pell, and the Tony Jones was being blatantly biased.

Born in “British Colonial Africa” – not sure whether that’s PC or a Sarah Palinism!

Gungahlin Al5:09 pm 21 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

People pushing bulls*** just love this idea of “shades of grey”, which implies that, OK, people disagree, and maybe there’s *something* to this whole fairy in the sky business.

A couple of years ago I went down to the library and borrowed every single Dawkins book they had. (They couldn’t find “The God Delusion” for me. All 6 copies had apparently been nicked. Good old theists showing their intellectual ability to engage with their critics, eh?)

ANyway, I read all Dawkins books. He is very annoying. His books repeat themselves, he makes assertions which are not entirely logical, and he is abrasive.

On the other hand he is about 1,000,000 x more logical than any theologer can ever be, and he is about 1,000,000 x more clear than any philosopher has ever been.

So, I rate him highly – for adults who cannnot figure out for themselves the self-evident falseness of all the religious fantasies he criticises.

Putting aside some statements above I find self-conflicting, your description of his books is precisely why the copy of The Greatest Show of Earth remains in my drawer with no more than 100 pages read.

Gungahlin Al said :

I prefer to believe that on almost every divisive issue, there is a continuum of positions from one extreme to the other. And people are somewhere along that continuum, but seldom at either pole. That’s why the world is really about shades of grey, although many media types would have us believe everything is either black or white.

Madamcholet put it very elegantly. Dawkins positions himself at the very pole of this particular issue. I may agree with him, but I don’t like the way he goes about it. You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it. It’s touch and go whether he does atheism more harm than good. In my personal opinion.

People pushing bulls*** just love this idea of “shades of grey”, which implies that, OK, people disagree, and maybe there’s *something* to this whole fairy in the sky business.

A couple of years ago I went down to the library and borrowed every single Dawkins book they had. (They couldn’t find “The God Delusion” for me. All 6 copies had apparently been nicked. Good old theists showing their intellectual ability to engage with their critics, eh?)

ANyway, I read all Dawkins books. He is very annoying. His books repeat themselves, he makes assertions which are not entirely logical, and he is abrasive.

On the other hand he is about 1,000,000 x more logical than any theologer can ever be, and he is about 1,000,000 x more clear than any philosopher has ever been.

So, I rate him highly – for adults who cannnot figure out for themselves the self-evident falseness of all the religious fantasies he criticises.

Gungahlin Al6:43 am 21 Apr 12

Thoroughly Smashed said :

poetix said :

You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it.

Excuse me, I did NOT make the comment at the beginning of this and would not express myself in that way. If this was an accident could you please fix it up? The comment was, I believe, Gungahlin Al’s.

Yep my words. I see what you are saying. I don’t find him scary – just all too often offensive. Unnecessarily so.

Mysteryman said :

You’re right. He acts like a tool quite often. That isn’t evidence of vast intelligence, in my opinion, but rather vast arrogance and borderline intolerance.

+1

Dawkins is the Kyle Sandilands of atheists.

Thoroughly Smashed10:20 pm 20 Apr 12

You are quite right, I evidently edited out the wrong quote tag.

justin heywood9:59 pm 20 Apr 12

What does Dawkins hope to achieve? If religion is the great evil of the modern world, does he speed its decline by his extreme anti-religion stance?

No. The True Believers have their faith strengthened by the adversity of attack. Non-thinking athiests find more fodder for their fantasies about the evils of any faith. The divide bertween them will grow wider; a middle ground more difficult to find.

In my opinion, Dawkin’s stance achieves nothing. Religion is not the root of all evil. Lack of tolerance and understanding is the problem. In this regard Dawkins is no better than the most rabid Ayatollah.

Thoroughly Smashed said :

poetix said :

You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it.

This is one of the charges against him that I find puzzling. Can you give an example of this?

I would call Christian scripture classes in NSW schools “ramming your beliefs down people’s throats”. I wouldn’t say the same for someone merely appearing on TV to set out their position, or writing books to the same effect.

As for the complaints people have about his so-called arrogance, I don’t see any arrogance at all in pointing out that religious beliefs are at odds with the scientific consensus and human wellbeing on a broad range of issues.

Excuse me, I did NOT make the comment at the beginning of this and would not express myself in that way. If this was an accident could you please fix it up? The comment was, I believe, Gungahlin Al’s.

Thoroughly Smashed6:08 pm 20 Apr 12

poetix said :

You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it.

This is one of the charges against him that I find puzzling. Can you give an example of this?

I would call Christian scripture classes in NSW schools “ramming your beliefs down people’s throats”. I wouldn’t say the same for someone merely appearing on TV to set out their position, or writing books to the same effect.

As for the complaints people have about his so-called arrogance, I don’t see any arrogance at all in pointing out that religious beliefs are at odds with the scientific consensus and human wellbeing on a broad range of issues.

Gungahlin Al5:28 pm 20 Apr 12

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Gungahlin Al said :

It bothers me that Dawkins is so hard-line in his opinions and dismissive of other people (not just their opinions). But every field has to have their extremists I guess, and they serve a useful function in making other more moderate people stand out as more pragmatic and reasonable.

Extremist?

Extremism is murdering people who don’t agree with you.

Seriously? If your only understanding of the words is that adopted by journalists and political spinners perhaps.

I prefer to believe that on almost every divisive issue, there is a continuum of positions from one extreme to the other. And people are somewhere along that continuum, but seldom at either pole. That’s why the world is really about shades of grey, although many media types would have us believe everything is either black or white.

Madamcholet put it very elegantly. Dawkins positions himself at the very pole of this particular issue. I may agree with him, but I don’t like the way he goes about it. You don’t have to ram your beliefs down people’s throats and get pissed off if they object to it. It’s touch and go whether he does atheism more harm than good. In my personal opinion.

johnboy said :

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Extremism is murdering people who don’t agree with you.

Or sneering. Sneering is much like murder.

And irony immolates and sarcasm strangles.

However, Dawkins is complacent in his atheism in a way that no scientist should be in any area of thought. His certainty is frightening, even fundamentalist.

madamcholet said :

I appreciate what Richard Dawkins has to say, but personally I don’t like the way he says it. I don’t believe in any religion or any kind of deity, but happy to be proven wrong. All the same, I just hate the way he ridicules people and the way that it’s excused by way of his apparent “vast intellect”. He comes across as a spoilt child.

You’re right. He acts like a tool quite often. That isn’t evidence of vast intelligence, in my opinion, but rather vast arrogance and borderline intolerance.

Thoroughly Smashed3:54 pm 20 Apr 12

Richard Dawkins is not the strawman you’re looking for.

Richard Dawkins quite rightly ridicules senior members of religious institutions for the ridiculous things that they say, their hypocrisy, and the long and glorious history of human rights abuses at the hands of institutionalised religion.

He does not ridicule believers wholesale. He merely points out that religious belief is based on faulty premises and suggests to believers that they may have been mislead by the religious authority figures they thought they could trust.

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Extremism is murdering people who don’t agree with you.

Or sneering. Sneering is much like murder.

madamcholet said :

I appreciate what Richard Dawkins has to say, but personally I don’t like the way he says it. I don’t believe in any religion or any kind of deity, but happy to be proven wrong. All the same, I just hate the way he ridicules people and the way that it’s excused by way of his apparent “vast intellect”. He comes across as a spoilt child.

Agreed.

Thoroughly Smashed3:37 pm 20 Apr 12

Gungahlin Al said :

It bothers me that Dawkins is so hard-line in his opinions and dismissive of other people (not just their opinions). But every field has to have their extremists I guess, and they serve a useful function in making other more moderate people stand out as more pragmatic and reasonable.

Extremist?

Extremism is murdering people who don’t agree with you.

Thoroughly Smashed3:33 pm 20 Apr 12

Dammit. I knew about them doing the same thing in Sydney this Monday, but I didn’t know about this one. Thanks for putting the video up ANU.

I appreciate what Richard Dawkins has to say, but personally I don’t like the way he says it. I don’t believe in any religion or any kind of deity, but happy to be proven wrong. All the same, I just hate the way he ridicules people and the way that it’s excused by way of his apparent “vast intellect”. He comes across as a spoilt child.

Gungahlin Al3:09 pm 20 Apr 12

Mattenagger said :

CrocodileGandhi said :

Mattenagger said :

Was this an open to the public event? I absolutely would have gone.

It was. I believe it was only advertised on the ANU Events page. It was also thoroughly excellent.

Surprised that it wasn’t more widely advertised. Not that I’ve heard of Lawrence Krauss before but Richard Dawkins is a nerdy rockstar.

Subscribe to the ANU Events through your RSS reader, or checkout Twitter. Then you’l be less likely to miss this sort of thing. Likewise get on Eventbrite and CSIRO’s list.

It was a big week or so of events – NASA boss Charlie Bolden, Brian Schmidt, and this one – all free.

Love this town…

OT, this was an interesting show, with plenty of laughs – usually at Cardinal Pell’s expense.

One questioner evoked much cringing with her inability to couch a coherent question that they could actually answer.

Krauss tended to dominate a bit, maybe trying to cover for the still jet-lagged Dawkins…

It bothers me that Dawkins is so hard-line in his opinions and dismissive of other people (not just their opinions). But every field has to have their extremists I guess, and they serve a useful function in making other more moderate people stand out as more pragmatic and reasonable.

They didn’t need to advertise it more widely – tickets were all gone within 12 hours of the event going online, and the wait list was supposedly 700 people long. (It was a free event but you still needed to reserve a ticket.) I don’t think they were originally planning on letting people up to the top tier of seats, all those people up there in the video are the extras who just turned up on the night without a ticket hoping to get in anyway.

Yeah fair enough. I guess what I really meant was why didn’t they contact me directly and offer me a seat.

Mattenagger said :

CrocodileGandhi said :

Mattenagger said :

Was this an open to the public event? I absolutely would have gone.

It was. I believe it was only advertised on the ANU Events page. It was also thoroughly excellent.

Surprised that it wasn’t more widely advertised. Not that I’ve heard of Lawrence Krauss before but Richard Dawkins is a nerdy rockstar.

They didn’t need to advertise it more widely – tickets were all gone within 12 hours of the event going online, and the wait list was supposedly 700 people long. (It was a free event but you still needed to reserve a ticket.) I don’t think they were originally planning on letting people up to the top tier of seats, all those people up there in the video are the extras who just turned up on the night without a ticket hoping to get in anyway.

CrocodileGandhi said :

Mattenagger said :

Was this an open to the public event? I absolutely would have gone.

It was. I believe it was only advertised on the ANU Events page. It was also thoroughly excellent.

Surprised that it wasn’t more widely advertised. Not that I’ve heard of Lawrence Krauss before but Richard Dawkins is a nerdy rockstar.

Let us not forget the great Dawkins who freed the world of religion long ago

Praise Science!

CrocodileGandhi12:27 pm 20 Apr 12

Mattenagger said :

Was this an open to the public event? I absolutely would have gone.

It was. I believe it was only advertised on the ANU Events page. It was also thoroughly excellent.

Was this an open to the public event? I absolutely would have gone.

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