Richard Dawkins

jefflovestone

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Rrose_Selavy said:
rjmrjmrjm said:
II just thought that this scene summed up the Athiest Fundamentalist/Militant Athiest argument perfectly.
..and says nothing about Evangelical Christians? Anyway, I suspect it was done partly for fun, partly for drama.

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Ponders on growing a beard and dragging a 10ft cross to the next Dawkins seminar.
 

rjmrjmrjm

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Rrose_Selavy said:
rjmrjmrjm said:
II just thought that this scene summed up the Athiest Fundamentalist/Militant Athiest argument perfectly.
..and says nothing about Evangelical Christians? Anyway, I suspect it was done partly for fun, partly for drama.

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I doubt it was done for drama. It looked completely unrehearsed and very spontanious. He didn't prance around the group he simply marched in front of it once holding the book at arms length before striding off accross the square.

I must say I find it slightly amusing that there have been two posts trying to imply that this book waving loony was not a 'proper athiest' and merely some performance artist or dramatist.

Just like 9/11, performance art at it's greatest.*

*I know it's not the same but I couldn't resist. Take it tongue firmly in cheek.
 
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Well, a good performance always looks unrehearsed! I wasnt being serious when I suggested that it was performance art. Yer man could have been taking the piss. Or he might be as puzzled as the xtian fundies, thinking hes making a point by waving a book.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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rjmrjmrjm said:
Rrose_Selavy said:
rjmrjmrjm said:
II just thought that this scene summed up the Athiest Fundamentalist/Militant Athiest argument perfectly.
..and says nothing about Evangelical Christians? Anyway, I suspect it was done partly for fun, partly for drama.

-

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I doubt it was done for drama. It looked completely unrehearsed and very spontanious. He didn't prance around the group he simply marched in front of it once holding the book at arms length before striding off accross the square.

I must say I find it slightly amusing that there have been two posts trying to imply that this book waving loony was not a 'proper athiest' and merely some performance artist or dramatist.

.[/size]
Never implied he wasn't a "proper atheist" - whatever that is - same as a "true scotsman" I suppose. Can an atheist not do something "unrehearsed and spontaneous" or remotely amusing ? Do you really have no sense of irony?
 

rjmrjmrjm

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I suppose that is the problem with message boards, humerous intent does not translate very well.

I do get the irony of it as I hope you get mine.

I think, dispite our different beliefs we can probably agree that in this case, if the guy was serious (as I think he was) he is just as loony as the evanglicals and open to exactly the same criticism.
 
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ghostdog19 said:
Rrose_Selavy said:
Never implied he wasn't a "proper atheist"
"Proper atheist"? Maybe (too few and hard to come by these days). "Proper idiot"? Definitely.
The very idea of a Proper Atheist sounds a bit too formal for me. I foresee problems: 2 Proper Atheists are marooned on a desert island for 5 years but they dont speak to eachother as they have never been properly introduced.

Its possible that this guy was taking the piss. In that case I would say: Jolly Good Show!
 
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Now heres a Dawkins fan. Rachel Cooke reviews The Enemies of Reason for The New Statesman.


A reasonable man
Rachel Cooke

Published 16 August 2007

New Agers are a soft target, but it's a joy to watch Dawkins take them to task
The Enemies of Reason Channel 4


How much am I enjoying Richard Dawkins's new series (13 and 20 August, 8pm)? Quite a lot. No, scratch that. It's heaven. The first programme left me in such ecstasy that, were I the kind of irrationalist lunatic it attacked, I would undoubtedly have convinced myself that the moon rose in Mercury (or whatever: there's no such thing as accuracy in astrology, so don't write in) at precisely the same moment as it began.

Truly, no scented candle or massage has ever made me feel this great. All that stood between it and perfection was an encounter with Gillian McKeith; I would love to have seen the look on Dawkins's face as, like some hunched medieval herbalist, she talked mucus to him. Of course, this would have been a touch tricky. It is Channel 4, after all, that we must blame for making McKeith the most famous turd examiner in Britain. Is it offering up Dawkins by way of compensation? If so, I won't be bought; Dawkins is good, but he's not that good.

Having had a go at rabbis, bishops and mullahs in The Root of All Evil?, Dawkins has now turned his attention to astrologers, alternative healers, dowsers and psychics. His critics will argue that this hessian bag of beardy-weirdies is too easy a target and, to a degree, they'd be right (though when TV's this much fun, who cares if he occasionally takes candy from a baby?). Dawkins, however, looks at the New Age and sees only the return of a diminishing "primitive darkness".

For every crystal that is bought, as for every horoscope that is read, our already shaky understanding of science retreats yet further. The result is terrifying: increasingly, we put instinct before facts, feelings before evidence. For the vulnerable - the desperate cancer patient who believes that green tea and reiki will cure him - the results can be catastrophic. But the rest of us are not acting any smarter. When parents abandoned the MMR vaccine in the face of the best medical advice, a young boy became the first child in Britain to die of measles in 14 years.

Although I agree with Dawkins about all this, what I really love about the series is its inherent high comedy. The opening scene showed him sitting, rosy of cheek and downy of hair, in a circle of people who were listening to some hardcore chanting. Their eyes were closed, but the professor's were open, the expression on his face hovering somewhere between alarm, disdain and hysteria. His technique when communing with the likes of those who see angels is to listen to them attentively, and then come at them with an obvious question. He told the spiritualist Craig Hamilton-Parker that were he able to talk to a dead person, he wouldn't bother discussing their dislike of the vase their relative had stuck on the hall table; he'd ask them what it was like being dead, and if they could see the whole universe. At a New Age fair, he spoke to a medium called Simon Goodfellow, who kept on about the great change that was soon to take place in Dawkins's life. "The word Simon seems to be fishing for is retirement," he murmured, in a voice-over.

Having played a bamboo pipe - Dawkins could make a decent living as a womb music artist - and said "hello" to a crystal ball called George, he set about demolishing astrology. This isn't difficult, obviously, though his point that it involves the kind of facile discrimination most of us abhor in any other realm was very neat. Imagine if someone published the following in a newspaper: "Germans, it is in your nature to be hard-working and methodical, but you need to curb your natural tendency to obey orders."

Dawkins asked Neil Spencer, the Observer's astrologist, to take part in an experiment to test the accuracy of his predictions. Spencer refused. "Your intention would be mischief," he said, "and what you'd get back would be mischief." So, astrology is a precise science until it is tested, at which point it turns into something altogether more mysterious. Dawkins's reply - he expressed surprise that Spencer was not more eager to prove his authority - was designed to suggest that, deep down, not even astrologists believe in their work.

And if they don't, why should anyone else? Like Dawkins, I'm damned if I know.

http://www.newstatesman.com/200708160033
 

rjmrjmrjm

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Hmm... I didn't see the program in question but I must take issue with the mention of the MMR vaccine debate.

Just how was new-age-thinking responsible for the mass media induced panic that caused the fall in MMR uptake. It's a sort of false comparison really.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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rjmrjmrjm said:
Hmm... I didn't see the program in question but I must take issue with the mention of the MMR vaccine debate.

Just how was new-age-thinking responsible for the mass media induced panic that caused the fall in MMR uptake. It's a sort of false comparison really.
Not really, It's more behaviour based on irrationality and lack of actual evidence. Though the reporting certainly played a part but then the media are not necessarily immune from it...(no pun intended)
 

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Surely the panic surfaced as a result of a (now known to be poor) scientific study. While the media whipped up the hysteria it would never have happened if the science was right in the first place, folks may have been assuming that the evidence was there - primarily because a scientist said it was.
 

rjmrjmrjm

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It shows you what happens when people take science with blind faith.

Muddying the waters with terminology speaking about 'faith' in science but I believe that is the best way to put it.
 

lupinwick

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Not strictly about Dawkins but more on the current division between Dakwins viewpoint:

Religion advances despite science (and thanks to Dawkins)
Today's arguments between science and religion are not constructive. Worse, they could result in some unforseen consequences for both sides
September 13, 2007 5:30 PM

The title may be backhanded flattery to Richard Dawkins but the shrill tones with which he pitches his anti-religious campaign may have implications he couldn't have foreseen.

The debate that pits science against religion seems to fascinate more than ever. One of the best-attended lecture series on Tuesday at the BA Festival of Science in York dissected the link between secularisation and science.

Speaking to more than two hundred people, John Brooke of Oxford University said that, contrary to popular intuition, the world is becoming anything but more secular despite advancing science and technology.

Prof Brooke, who held the Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Religion at Oxford until last year, has a background in chemistry, history and theology.

In Western Europe formal religious worship may be flagging but other expressions of faith are taking root. Among scientists themselves, Prof Brooke quoted a survey from Nature which found that around 40% of scientists hold some kind of faith. That number has been the same for more than 20 years.

In Eastern Europe Catholism and Orthodoxy is more vibrant than it has been for the last 60 years, boosted at the end of the Cold War but developing nevertheless against a backdrop of advancing science.

And throughout the world religious fanaticism is on the rise. In the United States, Christian fundamentalism continues to thrive in one of the most affluent and technologically advanced societies.

But instead of building bridges and a dialogue, a wedge is being driven between the faith and non-faith camps by tarring moderate believers with the same brush as fundamentalists.

Dawkins et al lay down a spiritual version of the gauntlet from DC Comics: "Are you with us or against us". That mentality should be consigned to the comic books where it belongs.

"Richard [Dawkins] does seem at times to conflate two very different understandings of creation. One is that of American creationists who like to see God conjuring up new species as if by magic. And [Dawkins] represents that as a doctrine of creation. That is actually an aberration if one if looking at the history of creation doctrine. The classical doctrine within Christian theology [...] is ultimately the dependence of everything that exists, including evolutionary processes, on some transcendent power (God). And we shouldn't confuse those two ideas", said Brooke. One might not like either of those ideas, and Richard [Dawkins] clearly doesn't, but they are not the same", he said.

"It is the reductionism of the argument that creates the confrontation."

So we arrive at the absurd situation where both camps batton down the hatches and lob grenades across their spiritual Magineaux line.

Speaking on misconceptions about Darwin's Origins of the Species, Brooke said: "the book is not an atheistic book. Darwin makes several references to the Creator and indeed adds more for subsequent editions where he argues that the Universe is not self-explanatory and that it is not unreasonable to refer to a creator."

Worryingly, one real fear is starting to emerge, hitherto whispered only in academic and extremist circles. If Dawkins et al insist with their zeal to promote evolutionary theory as an inherently atheistic doctrine - which could be construed as a matter of faith - he may well be handing a rope to the creationist brigades. The US Second Amendment forbids the teaching of faith in schools and it would be at least ironical if the creationists could use that to evict Darwin from the classroom.


Source

Bold mine, funnily highlighting a point my teenage son made.

To be honest, I think Dawkins et al should stop the blathering, agree to diasagree and concentrate on fixing the fuckups we've made to this planet. When thats all done, then we can argue to heats content about a god or lack of.
 

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Dawkins rails at 'creationist front' for duping him into film role
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Friday September 28, 2007
The Guardian

Among the films being shown tonight at the Atheist Alliance convention taking place near Washington is, unsurprisingly, Monty Python's Life of Brian. What will not be showing are trailers for a new movie, Expelled.
Some of the world's best-known atheists, including British scientist Richard Dawkins, appear in the documentary, but they are unhappy with it. They say they agreed to appear in a documentary called Crossroads, but have ended up instead in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

They had expected Crossroads to be a debate about creationism versus Darwinism, but Expelled supports intelligent design (ID), a variation on creationism. The premise of Expelled is that scientists sympathetic to intelligent design are penalised by being denied academic posts.
The film, to have its premiere on February 12 in cinemas across the US, is fronted by Ben Stein, an actor and New York Times columnist. The timing may be linked to the 2008 presidential election, where creationism versus Darwinism often features in candidates' debates.

Professor Dawkins, who is speaking at the Atheist Alliance convention in Crystal City, Virginia, said in an email that had he known the film's premise he would not have agreed to take part. "At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front," he said. Other atheists said they were uneasy about the way they felt they had been duped.

Paul Zachary "PZ" Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota and a leading critic of creationism, reproduced on Prof Dawkins' website a letter from Mark Mathis, a producer for Rampant Films. It says: "We are in production of the documentary film Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion ... we are interested in asking you questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between evolution, creationism and the intelligent design movement."

Professor Myers agreed to do the interview, but was surprised to see his name appear instead in what he described as "this new ID creationist movie" - Expelled.

Stein denied in the New York Times that he had misled anyone. "I don't remember a single person asking me what the movie was about," he said. The film company said the movie's title was changed on the advice of marketing experts.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international ... 58,00.html
 

ted_bloody_maul

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Richard Dawkins debates in the Bible Belt

Vehement Atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins, ventured into enemy territory to take on religious fundamentalism last night.

Speaking in Birmingham Alabama, an established notch in the Bible Belt, Dawkins took on Christian apologist John Lennox in a 90 minute debate based on the claims in the best seller The God Delusion.

Professor Dawkins, whose Out campaign urges closet Atheists to profess their unbelief and combat religious fundamentalism, acknowledged that not all religious people are bad or dangerous. But he warned that once unstable or violent people are granted a platform of faith, terrible things follow. Dr Lennox, author of Gods Undertaker: Has Science Buried God, accused Dawkins of airbrushing out the atrocities committed by Atheist regimes but said he was ashamed as a Christian of travesties committed in the name of Christianity such as the Crusades.

In an effort to silence his opponent, Professor Dawkins, who was he said intensely frustrated by the format of the evening, said Atheism did not motivate people to carry out terror. The men who flew planes into various targets across America on 9/11 were not psychopaths but educated people who thought they were doing good for their faith, he said.

The debate was sponsored by the Fixed Point Foundation, a Christian think-tank based in Birmingham Alabama.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 588509.ece
 

lupinwick

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This may be better fitted for the atheism thread, however seeing as Dawkins is the main target it can easily go here..

Critics of religion were criticised last night by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who said the way in which Christians viewed God had been misinterpreted.

Speaking at a lecture at Swansea University's Taliesin Arts Centre, Williams described religious belief as 'naturally self-critical' which was a point that contemporary critics such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, often missed. 'There are specific areas of mismatch between what Dawkins may write about and what religious people think they are doing,' he said.

Williams was referring to Dawkins's book, The God Delusion, in which the atheist scientist attacks God 'in all his forms' arguing that belief in a supernatural entity is irrational. Williams said that God is real for believers and existed before the universe did. He said Dawkins had 'picked up on' the fact that theologians talk about God as a simple explanation but if God was around before the Big Bang, 'he must be complex'.

'Don't distract us from the real arguments by assuming that religion is an eccentric survival strategy or irrational form of explanation,' Williams said. 'Our culture is one that deeply praises science, so we assume because someone is a good scientist, they must be a good philosopher. My inner jury is out on that.'
Source

And a bit more from the Beeb

Dr Rowan Williams said many worshippers would not recognise their religion as described by some authors.

Dr Williams said: "When believers pick up Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, we may feel as we turn the pages 'this is not it'."

The archbishop gave his lecture to more than 1,000 people at the Taliesin Arts Centre, in Swansea.
BBC
 
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lupinwick said:
This may be better fitted for the atheism thread, however seeing as Dawkins is the main target it can easily go here..

... Speaking at a lecture at Swansea University's Taliesin Arts Centre, Williams described religious belief as 'naturally self-critical' which was a point that contemporary critics such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, often missed. ...
Source

...
The brand of religion espoused by the CofE, is "naturally self-critical," perhaps, but the whole point of the likes of Creationism, for its adherents, is to promote the blind and uncritical acceptance of the written word of the Bible as the direct Word of God and accurate, historical, Holy Truth. Which is probably one of the reasons Dawkins appears to have a bee in his bonnet about the whole thing.

The rest of Williams' argument is just plain sophistry and gibberish. An example of circular reasoning. "God must exist, because we believe he does. We also believe that God is older than the Universe and was there before your Big Bang (because the Bible says he made the Universe, so he must have been there first), so God must be ever so much more complicated... So there!" :confused:
 

Rrose_Selavy

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
The rest of Williams' argument is just plain sophistry and gibberish. An example of circular reasoning. "God must exist, because we believe he does. We also believe that God is older than the Universe and was there before your Big Bang (because the Bible says he made the Universe, so he must have been there first), so God must be ever so much more complicated... So there!" :confused:
yeah - self critical? my arse! Self justifying or self deluision more like,it's all too easy to philosophise on a false premise, on which there appear no evidence. other than secondary events that appear "significant" hence the Greek, Roman. Norse gods and legends, Also on the question of complexity - Dawkins in a TED.com talk, I think, refers to this point, the theories of the big bang etc however flawed are attempting to go back to a fundamental basic event - the singularity etc, the drive is to go back to less and less complexity in the universe, but creationism/theism introduces a more complex event and intelligence ie "GOD" - BEFORE the known universe was created - before any complexity would be able to happen. SO how would this greatest of all complexities ("God" ) have come about?

or something like that. :spinning
:spinning --
 

stu neville

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One of this year's Private Eye Christmas cards features the "Richard Dawkins Grotto", with our hero grumpily sat on a stool in a bare room holding a placard reading "It's all a load of rubbish." :D.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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stuneville said:
One of this year's Private Eye Christmas cards features the "Richard Dawkins Grotto", with our hero grumpily sat on a stool in a bare room holding a placard reading "It's all a load of rubbish." :D.
Somewhere once I came across some "anti-christmas" cards - one with a traditional nativity scene accompanied with the announcement :

"It's a girl "

-
 

ted_bloody_maul

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It's worth pointing out that Dawkins actually makes reference to the Anglican church as one of the more tolerable and reasonable examples of religion in The God Delusion. I think of the CofE as much of a political organisation as a religious one so I suppose they probably don't want to erode their power too much by clinging to beliefs that are contrary to the prevailing climate of belief in the demonstrable virtues of science popular with the public. The Church of Scotland seems to have moved in that direction in recent times too, I've noticed, and even the Vatican is reticent about making too many claims against science these days even though it might contradict previously 'infallible' pronouncements or beliefs if they would prove undigestible for much of the modern world. It's probably something to do with the comfortable and powerful positions which established or national churches institutionalised within a society come to see as neccessary as sustaining that position.
 
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stuneville said:
One of this year's Private Eye Christmas cards features the "Richard Dawkins Grotto", with our hero grumpily sat on a stool in a bare room holding a placard reading "It's all a load of rubbish." :D.
Excellent!

How about one featuring a DNA test proving Joseph was the father?

I remember a card - Cancel Christmas: Joseph Confessed.


Or maybe a card with Dawkins , cloned sheep, shepards seeking EU Payments, 3 Wise Men from the IMF demanding repayments and Milliband in the cradle?
 

lupinwick

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Interesting. Not a surprise either.

Dawkins: I'm a cultural Christian

Richard Dawkins

Prof Dawkins said atheists were not a threat to Christian traditions
Scientist Richard Dawkins, an atheist known worldwide for arguing against the existence of God, has described himself as a "cultural Christian".

He told the BBC's Have Your Say that he did not want to "purge" the UK of its Christian heritage.

The comments came after Tory MP Mark Pritchard accused "politically correct" people of undermining Christmas.

Professor Dawkins, author of the God Delusion, added that he liked "singing Carols along with everybody else".

'Christianophobia' warning

On Have Your Say, Mr Pritchard told Prof Dawkins there was an "increasing feeling" that "many of the main Christian festivals are being sidelined and marginalised, sometimes by stealth, sometimes openly".

This, he argued, would allow groups such as the British National Party, to utilise Christian imagery for their own ends.

'Singing carols'

Prof Dawkins, who has frequently spoken out against creationism and religious fundamentalism, replied: "I'm not one of those who wants to stop Christian traditions.

"This is historically a Christian country. I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.

"So, yes, I like singing carols along with everybody else. I'm not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history.

"If there's any threat these sorts of things, I think you will find it comes from rival religions and not from atheists."

'Historical signifiance'

Last week, Mr Pritchard called a parliamentary debate on "Christianophobia".

The MP for The Wrekin, Shropshire, complained that Christian heritage was being undermined by secular officials and public figures.

During that debate, community cohesion minister Parmjit Dhanda told MPs that Christianity had had a "significant impact" in securing people's rights and freedoms.

He added: "I fully recognise the full historical and cultural significance [of Christianity] in our country.

"We should all be aware of that and celebrate that."

And the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, said schools were wrong if they thought celebrating Christmas excluded children who were not Christian.

He said: "Christmas and the celebration of Christmas in this country, though it is a religious festival, is one in which people who are of no religion - or other religions - can share."
Source
 
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