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Is religion a threat to rationality and science? - Comments

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 1 by Diacanu

*Skims ahead to the Lord Winston reply*


Blaise Pascal, whose famous wager...


Well, fuck him.

*Goes back to read the Dennet bit*

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 20:12:00 UTC | #157926

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 2 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Viktor Frankl, in the midst of the extreme deprivation, dehumanisation and despair of Auschwitz observes how, in his assessment, only those with some spirituality - not necessarily a belief in God - survived the depravity of the camp.


With all due respect (which, intellectually, doesn't seem very much due at all), my grandfather survived a Nazi camp without any spirituality whatsoever.

In fact, the experience solidified his lack of faith.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 20:50:00 UTC | #157929

Mbee's Avatar Comment 3 by Mbee

"You cannot lose by professing belief in God - if He does not exist you lose nothing, and if He does exist, you will be rewarded in the afterlife."

Can't lose? You live your life as a lie, then when you die you don't even know that you were wrong!

If you don't believe in god then you live your life based on the evidence available and when you die, if by some remote chance you were wrong, at least you would know it!

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 21:16:00 UTC | #157931

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

I don't know why this made me laugh. I think it was "Lord Winston, professor of fertility studies". The Lord of fertility? I thought that was god's job!

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 21:33:00 UTC | #157934

MatthewL's Avatar Comment 5 by MatthewL

It's funny that Winston id a leading expert on embryo reaserch, if anyone's an atheist, I would of thought it'd be him.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:00:00 UTC | #157937

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 6 by 82abhilash

2. Comment #166154 by Spinoza on April 22, 2008 at 9:50 pm


With all due respect (which, intellectually, doesn't seem very much due at all), my grandfather survived a Nazi camp without any spirituality whatsoever.

In fact, the experience solidified his lack of faith.


That is an interesting story Spinoza. Perhaps you can urge your grand father to write it up and perhaps RD website can put it up. Another dent in the 'Hitler and Stalin' argument and 'we need god for hope' argument as well.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:02:00 UTC | #157938

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 7 by Roland_F

Still no proof of God from the religious speaker Robert Winston.
I read Winston's book "The story of God" where he actually lists lot's of atrocities and bloody scarifies for religious purpose (Spanish invaders in South America could not see the pyramids in the jungle but could smell the pungent stench of rotten flesh and blood of human and animal sacrifice etc.) .
Priests are cutting themselves as respect for their God, offer virgins and animals they could better use to feed their starving people. The name Cannibal is coming from the priest of Baal, etc means they had human sacrifice and eat the victims to please their God.
Very interesting Robert Winston and now compare your own quote:

Religion is built into human consciousness and there is plentiful evidence of it being a cohesive force


Another highlight: Moses come down with the 10 commandments from Mt Sinai and the people of Israel were dancing around a golden calf in defiance of Yahweh but God Yahweh is so nice and loving and forgives them. That's the wrap up of Robert Winston of the Biblical events, reading the story in the Bible or Torah it reads that Yahweh via Moses ordered the slaughter of 3000 fellow humans and as additional punishment for the survivors of the massacre God send the plague = very caring and loving indeed.

The other interesting highlight in Winston's book "The story of God" is that he (as a Jew) wipes away the entire New Testament and Christianity with a few lines : there were many self proclaimed messiahs during this time, so this Jesus is totally irrelevant. Winston even agrees that most parts of the Old Testament is spin doctored, later adjusted etc. as historical studies show, and he is very proud that Jews are questioning every sentence of Bible interpretation, compare old language translation etc. BUT DO NOT question the Torah (Pentateuch, 5 books Moses) no this is the direct spoken word of Yahweh a sacred taboo to question anything there every single word is God dictated. And every scholar who try to bring the Torah into relation when it was written (Babylon exile) what different authors wrote the parts 'P version 'J' version etc. this is ridiculous and sound like algebra and all the scholars have no idea of the old Aramaic language to judge.
So much for an balanced and open minded view - as long it's not agaist the Torah dogma.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:10:00 UTC | #157940

born-again-atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by born-again-atheist

"Perhaps he might care to re-read the book of Job"

Perhaps this meat sack might care to shove that book up his....

I can't believe they can even attempt to justify the book of job, never mind that god was TAUNTED in to doing all that stuff.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:23:00 UTC | #157941

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 9 by Roland_F

Yes the book of Job: a sadistic God is betting with Satan and plays bad games with poor Job cause havoc to his live, and the moral of this story : faith in God gives you power to survive any hardship.

As Robert Winston is a specials for IVF (In vitro fertilization) of couples who remain childless how does he explain their infertility to them ? Scientifically or based on the Bible as based on Leviticus God inerrant word explains us that a woman remain childless when her nephew encounter her nakedness.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:55:00 UTC | #157944

MartinSGill's Avatar Comment 10 by MartinSGill

Having recently read Viktor Frankl's book (Man's Search for Meaning) I drew the conclusion that he was either agnostic/atheist or possibly a deist, despite his Jewish heritage.

The message he made about survival in the camp though was one more about needing something to cling to, something to keep one going. In Victor Frankl's case he says it wasn't spirituality, but his desire to see his wife again and his burning ambition to rewrite the book whose pages the Nazi's destroyed.

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 23:08:00 UTC | #157945

GordonYKWong's Avatar Comment 11 by GordonYKWong

I must be honest and say:

I didn't think Prof. Dennett did that great of a job arguing his case in print. For example, while he focus on how religion is a threat to rationality he did not touch on how that would impact scienctific progress. I hope he would address that in the actual debate.

Having said that, Lord Winston didn't even try to argue ANY point at all. His piece read like a pile of non-sequitur. In fact, I thought he was arguing for the affirmative in this paragraph:

If, as a Jew, I decide to adhere to totally irrational dietary laws or bizarrely not travel on a bus on Saturday, does that make me an extremist? If I go further and wear a kippa on my head and build an eruv around the part of London in which I live, is that an unacceptable excess?
There... you've said it, all that shit is irrational. Affirmative wins by the negative rolling over and playing dead.

I hope the moderator have the sense to invoke the Mercy rule when Prof. Dennett is slaughtering Winston.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:07:00 UTC | #157951

passutoba's Avatar Comment 12 by passutoba

I think that Lord Winston is unconvinced by his own arguments...he is still a Jewish mummy's boy, permanently in thrall to the wishes of his probably overbearing Jewish momma. Whether she is dead or alive is irrelevant....she simply won't allow him to give up his belief in god.

Peter Hitchens and Alister McGrath are equally unconvinced I believe..in the case of these two, probably not in thrall to their mother, but it's financially convenient to maintain a veneer of their delusions.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:28:00 UTC | #157956

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 13 by Szymanowski

Lord Winston IS God. QED

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:34:00 UTC | #157959

epeeist's Avatar Comment 14 by epeeist

Comment #166172 by MartinSGill

Having recently read Viktor Frankl's book (Man's Search for Meaning) I drew the conclusion that he was either agnostic/atheist or possibly a deist, despite his Jewish heritage.
I can't find the quotation. But wasn't it Frankl who said the biggest lift in the morale of camp inmates was being moved to a new camp where there were no chimneys?

EDIT: Just waiting for A S Marques to come along and tell me none of the camps had chimneys.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:35:00 UTC | #157960

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 15 by Steve Zara

There has been a recent debate about this on Brian English's blog.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:36:00 UTC | #157963

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 16 by BicycleRepairMan

..he seems unable to treat the beliefs and feelings of believers seriously.


And do you have anything particular in mind..?

...the book of Job.


This is why Hitchens rule about simply underlining statements of your opponent may be the best thing I've ever heard anyone say.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:37:00 UTC | #157964

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 17 by Enlightenme..

"only those with some spirituality - ... - survived the depravity of the camp"

I really like Winston, but anyone who can quote that without throwing up in their mouth a little bit, has a screw loose.

Were they 'spiritual' before this?

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:39:00 UTC | #157965

Vaal's Avatar Comment 18 by Vaal

One decisive knock-out hook from Bennett, and a feeble empty parry from Winston. Like Muhammed Ali versus Adrian Mole. I am sure Epeeist can better describe it in fencing parlance.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:39:00 UTC | #157966

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 19 by Styrer-

I know Dennett only from 'Breaking the Spell', which I found a long-winded and unengaging read, and the same qualities of writing are more or less evident here. Glad to see that he's at least stopped sucking up to Muslims with talk of their 'great faith', but he's no match for a Dawk or a Hitch, in person or in print.

Gobshite Winston might as well be McGrath for all his metaphorical reliance on dubious textual readings to pose as the reality of his chosen cult.

Hands-down winner is, of course, Dennett, not for reasons of felicity of language or of idea, but because...well, against Gobshite, he couldn't really lose, could he?

Unimpressive.

Best,
Styrer

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:55:00 UTC | #157972

HunterZolomon's Avatar Comment 20 by HunterZolomon

To some extent, he falls into a similar trap to Dawkins. He feels he knows about religions but seems to have done too little research; a number of his points - for example, about Jewish attitudes or Muslim practices - seem to show a lack of serious scholarship.


The "lack of serious scholarship" rubbish again is it? And then he goes on to suggest that Dennett re-reads the "deeply mysterious and spiritual book" of Job. Lord Winstons response is worthy of nothing but ridicule.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:56:00 UTC | #157973

Adam Morrison's Avatar Comment 21 by Adam Morrison

Might not God disapprove of this much more?


Might I give a flying f$%&?

If Dennett is wrong and even if there was a god and you were judged not by your actions, but by wether or not you believe, I'd sooner spend an eternity in tartaros then one minute living in a celestial dictatorship. So, in short, if the theists are right, god can piss off and leave me in hell. For a Canadian, eternal fire doesn't sound so bad, plus I can hang with Socrates, Plato, Juilius Caesar, Spinoza, etc.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:59:00 UTC | #157974

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 22 by irate_atheist

In my humble opinion, it is reasonable to conclude that - at the very least - religion has damaged Lord Winston's rationality and ability to apply critical thinking.

That the very least of us here could demolish, in one paragraph, the best argument for theism proposed by one of the worlds pre-eminents clinicists, ilustrates how empty their claims are.

Why do intelligent people believe such tripe? Are they that indoctrinated as children? Is there a part of the brain associated with critical thinking that just doesn't work as well for them? I know I'm pisspoor at most ball games - not my fault - so perhaps some people are natually less able to think rationally. Or am I overcomplicating things and they're not as intelligent as they seem. Are they just bloody stupid?

And as for:

If, as a Jew, I decide to adhere to totally irrational dietary laws or bizarrely not travel on a bus on Saturday, does that make me an extremist? If I go further and wear a kippa on my head and build an eruv around the part of London in which I live, is that an unacceptable excess?
The first would make you an idiot, the latter, a ghettoising idiot.

There's more to make me irate:
Perhaps he might care to re-read the book of Job.
I've read it already, thank you. I've no need to pollute my mind with such filth again, thank you very much.

A question for Lord Winston: Did Stalin model himself on this god as described in Job? It would have been a good starting point for him.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:00:00 UTC | #157976

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 23 by Quetzalcoatl

Perhaps he might care to re-read the book of Job. Throughout most of this deeply mysterious and spiritual book


Where's the mystery? Job gets crapped on by God as part of a bet with Satan, then gets yelled at for daring to ask why God's behaving like a bastard.

In reality, both religion and science are expressions of man's uncertainty.


Except that science actually discovers new things and enhances our understanding, whereas religion is mired in the past and attempts to constrain humanity's attempts to better itself.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:04:00 UTC | #157978

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 24 by irate_atheist

23. Comment #166205 by Quetzalcoatl -

The man's achieved a lot in his life, but, a 'tard's still a 'tard - right? Especially those that can, and do, know better.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:08:00 UTC | #157980

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 25 by Quetzalcoatl

Irate-

I quite like the guy, especially for his stance on stem cell research, plus he does some good TV programmes. But he's a classic example of compartmentalisation in action. Perhaps not quite a 'tard, just confused.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:12:00 UTC | #157981

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 26 by rod-the-farmer

I agree with Styrer....unimpressive on both sides. And then this


Blaise Pascal, whose famous wager runs: "You cannot lose by professing belief in God - if He does not exist you lose nothing, and if He does exist, you will be rewarded in the afterlife."

Was Pascal an authority on the afterlife ? News to me. What I have read is that if you didn't believe DURING your life, no amount of good deeds will get you into heaven. Otherwise, we could all just do good things, and avoid the houses of worship, and the five times a day stuff. That's how the priests keep you in thrall. You HAVE to attend, and believe. Sorry. Not this bunny. Keep your creepy, grasping little hands off me and my child. If he decides as an adult to join your club, so be it. But until then, I will encourage rationality. Somewhere around the house I think I have a can of "Priest Off".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEHUzNWnh5M

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:22:00 UTC | #157984

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 27 by irate_atheist

25. Comment #166208 by Quetzalcoatl -

Top bloke - but - an 'enabler' of the most pernicious kind.

David Robertson et al point to him and say, 'See! Scientists do believe in god! There must be a god!'.

We are sat on the sidelines, shaking our heads at the inanity of it. Depressing.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:22:00 UTC | #157985

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara


The "lack of serious scholarship" rubbish again is it? And then he goes on to suggest that Dennett re-reads the "deeply mysterious and spiritual book" of Job. Lord Winstons response is worthy of nothing but ridicule.


Indeed. The matter of "lack of scholarship" is an often-used argument. Some may be tempted to see it is reasonable, but it isn't. The reason has been touched on by epeeist. When religion wants to be discussed in terms of rationality and science, it is on that "piste", and has to be subject to the rules of rationality and science. It is breaking the rules to ask anyone to assume that religions contain truth and should be discussed in terms of theology.

It may be relevant to study the history of religious thought, but even a brief look reveals examples of how theism can seriously damage your scientific health. I like to use the example of Kepler, who struggled for years to make his data fit models of the cosmos derived from the idea of God the Geometer, and in the end (being at heart an honest scientist) gave up and found that orbits were ellipses. Kepler was a great scientist, but part of that greatness was that he managed to struggle against the constraints of religion.

To see how religion can scramble a scientific mind, one need look no further than the physicist Frank Tipler, who has attempted to explain the resurrection of Jesus in terms of antimatter.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:24:00 UTC | #157986

AdrianB's Avatar Comment 29 by AdrianB

3. Comment #166156 by Mbee on April 22, 2008 at 10:16 pm

"You cannot lose by professing belief in God - if He does not exist you lose nothing, and if He does exist, you will be rewarded in the afterlife."

Can't lose? You live your life as a lie, then when you die you don't even know that you were wrong!

If you don't believe in god then you live your life based on the evidence available and when you die, if by some remote chance you were wrong, at least you would know it!


It puzzles me that people actually believe they can't lose.

Gosh these people must be easy meat to all sorts of scams. "Care to buy this perpetual energy machine sir? Free energy for life sir." "Double glazing madam, 90% reduction in your energy costs." I mean, what have these people to lose by taking up such wonderful offers?

Of course most people are not so gullible not to realise that there is an upfront cost in these wonderful offers, but many do fail to recognise that religions do come with costs.

Wasting time on prayer instead of action, and worship instead of fun, are all costs. Being told who to vote for, what you can put in your mouth, what you can wear, what you can do with your body etc etc bloody etc are all costs.

Yes you can certainly lose, and many people are.

:(

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:31:00 UTC | #157989

CJ22's Avatar Comment 30 by CJ22

Winston: "Well maybe so, but science isn't perfect either and Dennett doesn't know everything about religion so there!"

Epic fail. To be honest, I actually expected better from Winston than this feeble wounded apology for unreason. If Winston (who is undeniably a very clever clogs) can't summon up a decent excuse for the ills committed by religion other than the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, the God of the gaps, a dash of post hoc ergo propter hoc, and Pascal's Dumbass Wager (which has at least 20 solid refutations that I'm aware of), then religion is well and truly embuggered.

I died a little reading this nonsense from an intelligent, thinking man.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 01:31:00 UTC | #157990