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An atheist plays God's advocate - Comments

Lemniscate's Avatar Comment 1 by Lemniscate

Why does everyone find it so bizarre that Dawkins mentions God or religion when explaining evolution? It is the reason so many people don't accept evolution.

I also think it's justified to say that it is not God at work in the "squalor and suffering of nature," as this was the part of Darwin's message that made it so revolutionary, that nature is not the way it is because of direct interference by a central authority.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 12:33:00 UTC | #215236

b0ltzm0n's Avatar Comment 2 by b0ltzm0n

Evolution "is one reason I don't believe in God", announced Dawkins at the start. Darwin "made it possible no longer to feel the necessity to believe in anything supernatural",

I believe Richard stated that the lawyer for the show made him add this little "disclaimer" to the introduction.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 12:35:00 UTC | #215237

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 3 by Lisa Bauer

I find it rather sad that so many of these reviews are really about the reviewers' mental image of Dawkins ("militant atheist", "shrill and strident", etc.) rather than about the programme itself!

More than half of that review was spent denouncing the reviewer's conception of Dawkins as an anti-religious "crusader", and then almost as an aside he writes, "Otherwise it was a good documentary." Um, yes. Perhaps you could have spent more time filling in HOW it was a good documentary instead of "debunking" the anti-religious bit that wasn't even that prominent, except in your head.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:04:00 UTC | #215245

beeline's Avatar Comment 4 by beeline

...evolution in itself isn't proof that God doesn't exist.

Nobody said it was, foolish Telegraph person. We all know - but somehow you don't - that you can't prove that something doesn't exist - that's what a lot of this trouble is about.


Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:08:00 UTC | #215246

Sargeist's Avatar Comment 5 by Sargeist

I am not convinced when anyone says "you cannot prove a negative." At this moment, I can prove that my plate does not have food on it; that the dining table does not have monsters under it; etc etc.

I think I know what people "mean" though, and I think it is that when there is no current way of verifying or refuting something, then we should not assume that that "something" is true.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:23:00 UTC | #215253

TyKonderoga's Avatar Comment 6 by TyKonderoga

Hi all, as a slightly off topic comment/request, I'm hosting a survey on my blog to collect data about people's use of religious labels -- and I'd really sure appreciate your input! Thanks in advance.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:24:00 UTC | #215255

PaulJ's Avatar Comment 7 by PaulJ

At this moment, I can prove that my plate does not have food on it; that the dining table does not have monsters under it; etc etc.
But how closely have you looked? Might there not be microscopic, invisible-to-the-naked-eye scraps of food on your plate? Might not the dining table be sheltering a rare form of invisible monsters? Just because you can't see them....

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:30:00 UTC | #215258

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 8 by Dhamma

Leave Britney alone!!

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:46:00 UTC | #215267

Sargeist's Avatar Comment 9 by Sargeist

Hmmm, but if you say "there are microscopic scraps of food on the plate", and then end up unable to demonstrate this (for whatever reason), you might just say "well, you can't prove a positive." Which doesn't get us very far! As a get out clause, you could say that I am asking you to to prove that there is not an empty plate, which could be viewed as another "proving the negative" case.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:47:00 UTC | #215268

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 10 by thewhitepearl

Leave Britney alone!!


yes. But it doesn't rule out the possibility that billions of years ago, God â€" or a god, or gods â€" created the world and populated it with bacteria capable of evolving

No, but it does take away the beauty from it.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:54:00 UTC | #215273

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 11 by Apathy personified

you couldn't put Dawkins in a Narnia book or he'd be forever lecturing the Pevensie children about the non-existence of Aslan.
RD would probably advise the kids that if they did see a fully grown male lion on the prowl they should run for their lifes (literally) - but that's besides the point.

This whole incident has really shown up a lot of british journalism for what it is - cheap gags about famous people without any real analysis or substance and certainly no room for accurate facts.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 13:56:00 UTC | #215274

PaulJ's Avatar Comment 12 by PaulJ

If I say "there are microscopic scraps of food on the plate", it's up to me to prove there are, not up to you to prove there aren't. I think this takes us back to the you can't prove a negative rule.

In the case of gods, there's a larger space than just a plate involved. But can you really prove that, say, a consecrated communion wafer is not the body of Christ? (Not that I'd expect you to try - the onus of proof remains on the believer to prove the positive.)

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:02:00 UTC | #215278

kkelly's Avatar Comment 14 by kkelly

Of course he was slightly ill at ease around the children, those kids were idiots. Well the two girls were.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:13:00 UTC | #215287

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 13 by Matt H.

When he did get around to addressing them, he was either stiffly earnest or unconvincingly pally, like some brilliant but remote uncle you might find in a Narnia book. Although, of course, you couldn't put Dawkins in a Narnia book or he'd be forever lecturing the Pevensie children about the non-existence of Aslan.

While the thought of Richard in Narnia made me laugh, I don't think he would be 'forever lecturing' the children. Instead, I think he'd be suggesting to them that they believe things based on the evidence.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:13:00 UTC | #215286

AoClay's Avatar Comment 15 by AoClay

Yes, yes, god...but what about Yahweh? I think there's an issue in Christians always addressing their god as God, so that they can really absorb all deist claims as on their side.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:18:00 UTC | #215289

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 16 by Dhamma


Sitting alone, drunk, on a saturday night not heading out... I've got every right in this world to be random.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:21:00 UTC | #215291

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 17 by thewhitepearl


Noted. Why are you at home alone, drunk, and not heading out?

He he I love it when people are drinking and posting.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:25:00 UTC | #215293

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 18 by thewhitepearl



Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:30:00 UTC | #215294

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 19 by Dhamma


Well, I didn't get in contact with my friends... which really just means I need to avoid a specific someone at the bar.

Mordy: I'm a retarded foreigner, so I really don't get what you mean. But I imagine it's all good!

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:35:00 UTC | #215295

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 20 by thewhitepearl


Girl troubles then?



Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:42:00 UTC | #215296

~manic-depressive's Avatar Comment 21 by ~manic-depressive

@Layla Nasreddin

Perhaps [this journalist] could have spent more time filling in HOW it was a good documentary instead of "debunking" the anti-religious bit that wasn't even that prominent, except in [his] head.

First of all, thanks for supplying the link to this article in the first place! And I agree with you; while one can imagine a believer being unable to get beyond the anti-religious part, I am so sick of all this "I'm an atheist buttery".


I can't believe it's not theist buttery.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:52:00 UTC | #215300

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 22 by Dhamma

Mordy: Haha.. I'm terribly sorry, but I'm not really capable of any genome research in this condition.. Not tomorrow either I'm afraid.

Pearl: Just try to ease the problem, if you will.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:54:00 UTC | #215301

kkelly's Avatar Comment 23 by kkelly

33, What be botherin' you, child? Let Mama kkelly hear your troubles.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 14:57:00 UTC | #215302

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 24 by Dhamma

No mama kelly, you ain't hearin shit :)

Really, it's nothing... we all make mistakes once in a while.

It's more fun getting drunk on your own than I'd ever imagine! I'm really weak on alcohol, so we'll see how long I can stay here.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:07:00 UTC | #215306

ukvillafan's Avatar Comment 25 by ukvillafan


Given your love of golf perhaps you should exchange the cricket bat for a Nike SUMO driver or something similar - the cricket bat is so quaintly English. Greater club head speed and a satisfying swish, plus more use to you in the wilds of Texas I would think.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:08:00 UTC | #215307

PristinePanda's Avatar Comment 26 by PristinePanda

On another note (a bit OT) hopefully Richard will publish his next book on evolution in time to make it a nice antithesis to that stupid piece of tripe Rick Warren is releasing this winter, The Purpose Driven Christmas.

Purpose Driven Christmas? Give me a break. I wish I was joking

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:25:00 UTC | #215310

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 27 by thewhitepearl


I like the fact it's quaintly english. (It's bigger, harder, and does more damage) Plus it was a gift from Apathy, I'll cherish it forever.

But the swish sound does satisfy me....

Really, it's nothing... we all make mistakes once in a while

Oh yes we do. [sigh]



Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:28:00 UTC | #215312

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 29 by Dhamma

Mordy: Thanks for your "comforting" words! I'm not very drunk yet, but I've already decided I'll get loaded tonight. Strangely enough I made the decision after my ~fifth beer.

Don't mention the hang-over already.. I'll be more than aware of it when I wake up. Being weak on alcohol isn't enough, I get MAJOR hang-overs as well.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:44:00 UTC | #215320

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 28 by Apathy personified

Would this link here explain?

I'm touched :)

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:44:00 UTC | #215319

kkelly's Avatar Comment 30 by kkelly

41, I read somewhere that if you bang your head against a wall before you go to bed it desensitizes the nociceptors in your skull so that you don't wake up with a headache. Also, sleep on your back.

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 15:48:00 UTC | #215321