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Why Dawkins is right and his critics are wrong - Comments

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 1 by mordacious1

Hear, hear.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 08:56:00 UTC | #222371

Quine's Avatar Comment 2 by Quine

<!-- Be sure tags are closed -->Well stated.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 08:59:00 UTC | #222375

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 3 by RichardofYork

I concur

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:00:00 UTC | #222376

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 4 by Dhamma

I sure agree with him, but I don't really see how he convincingly showed Dawkins right and his critics wrong.

The more of these shows we have the better. Dawkins is a great 'leader' for atheism and I think he paves the way for others to make programs promoting atheism too, e.g. Religulous.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:04:00 UTC | #222379

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 5 by PrimeNumbers

I'd really like to see Richard doing a "proof of evolution" programme.

As a computer programmer, I've proven to myself the power of evolutionary algorithms, producing useful results by means of:

a population,
an environment that defines my goal,
a test to see how well the population fits the environment,
breading of those that fit the environment the best,
and most important, a level of mutation

The results are superb, and prove that the precepts of evolution work.

I know Richard has done this kind of work on both TV and books, but I'd really like to see it done again, with modern production values.

I'd like to see more discussion and showing of how the human body is badly "designed", the "design" links between humans and animals both in form and in DNA.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:05:00 UTC | #222380

Vaal's Avatar Comment 6 by Vaal

I wonder why the newspaper hacks love to pick on Richard, even the ones that agree with what he has to say.

If it had been David Attenborough presenting "The genius of Charles Darwin", I am convinced there would have been zero criticism and a storm of accolades.

As the article points out, I wonder if some of these people have actually seen the series, as in the case of Libby Purves, she actually made up what RD had actually said, to Richards chagrin, and naturally elicited a strong response.

Still, as Mordacious says, good article. I endorse his "hear hear".

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:11:00 UTC | #222382

Riley's Avatar Comment 8 by Riley

Quine wrote: " ... edit pending ..."

???

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:12:00 UTC | #222384

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 7 by Dhamma

PrimeNumbers: I wouldn't be in the least surprised if he will, as he's about to write a book about proofs of the evolution.

I have a feeling it will be a very convincing book. I don't think the criticism he gets are too bad, as heaps will read his books and make up their own mind.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:12:00 UTC | #222383

Elles's Avatar Comment 9 by Elles

Somebody actually seems to have watched it...

Just give me a moment... I want to remember this day... Deep breath in....

Yep. It really happened.

Wow.

Oh my Flying Spaghetti Monster it's wonderful!

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:16:00 UTC | #222387

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 10 by Diacanu


He's ( The archbishop) often advertised as an intellectual giant.


Y'know who thinks he's an intellectual giant?

Mental midgets.

*Pats self on back for that line*
:)

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:17:00 UTC | #222389

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

I am really glad that Paula Kirby mentioned this on another thread and it was put up here. It is a delight to read.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:19:00 UTC | #222390

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 12 by Diacanu

Oh, and I heard some right-wing dildo proclaim William F. Buckley Jr. as "an intellectual giant".

I eyeroll at that phrase now.

It's officially become meaningless.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:20:00 UTC | #222392

Corona Dave's Avatar Comment 13 by Corona Dave

I've noticed this behaviour a lot.

my suspicion is that it is the symptom of a mediocre mind.

when these "mediocre atheists" are arguing with theists, they can feel good about not being as foolish/uneducated as the theists and not believing in religion.

however, when faced with an "exceptional atheist" like Dawkins, they see someone roughly like themselves but more successful in pretty much every way.

this undoubtedly injures their ego. the only way they can make themselves feel better is to attack Dawkins et al. in some way - find some metric by which they can consider themselves better. the easiest way to do this is an appeal to political correctness or moderation. moderation or "equal time" is a false virtue that is unfortunately prevalent in modern society, and I think these "mediocre atheists" think that if they claim Dawkins (et al.) is no better than a fundamentalist theist - he is a "fundamentalist atheist" - then they can conveniently put themselves in a moderate middle ground and perhaps even consider themselves in some way "more rational" by not being "fundamentalist", even though the thing they are refusing to be "fundamentalist" about is indeed the truth/evidence/logic, which in reality is neither democratically accountable nor subject to the policy of "equal time with falsehoods".

or, in a word, jealousy.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:28:00 UTC | #222399

Meadon's Avatar Comment 14 by Meadon

I hate to be contrarian, but I think Dawkins was guilty of just horrendously bad pedagogy in the first episode of the series. I have a sustained argument on my blog, here: http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/2008/08/dawkins-and-bad-pedagogy.html

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:29:00 UTC | #222400

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 15 by Diacanu

Meadon-

Tch, shameless blog plugger.

http://dickynoo.blogspot.com/

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:31:00 UTC | #222401

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #234987 by Diacanu

I will also shamelessly blog-plug:
Diacanu's blog is awesome.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:32:00 UTC | #222403

designsoda's Avatar Comment 17 by designsoda

Oh, and I heard some right-wing dildo proclaim William F. Buckley Jr. as "an intellectual giant".


Smart man for sure, but an intellectual giant is a bit much I agree.

Although I've gotta ask, would Diacanu consider any conservative/right-wing intellectual an "intellectual giant?" How about a libertarian intellectual?

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:33:00 UTC | #222404

Meadon's Avatar Comment 18 by Meadon

Diacanu:

I *could* rewrite my criticism of Dawkins for commenting here, but I'm far too lazy... shameless blog plugging it'll have to be.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:46:00 UTC | #222408

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 19 by Diacanu

designsoda-


Although I've gotta ask, would Diacanu consider any conservative/right-wing intellectual an "intellectual giant?"


Probably not.


How about a libertarian intellectual?


Hmm, maybe.

Libertarianism has some good core ideas, but it almost always seems to mutate into extreme Randian wacko stuff, and the more Randian and wacko, the "smarter", the libertarian intellectuals are deemed.

Camille Paglia is alright.
Her personality (sometimes), and infatuation with the lamest of pop culture makes me roll my eyes, but on other topics she seems to be bright and on the ball.
A bit too much in love with religion's impact on art for my tastes, but, meh.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:47:00 UTC | #222409

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 20 by Diacanu

Steve-
Aww, shucks. :)

Yours ain't half bad either. ;)

http://zarbi.livejournal.com/

Meadon-

S'okay, I was teasing. ;)

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:50:00 UTC | #222410

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 21 by Cartomancer

Actually, I am quite impressed with the intellectual capacities of Rowan Williams. I read some of his DPhil thesis a few months back, and he is very learned indeed. The problem with him is not that he isn't a clever man, it's that he has invested far too much of himself in the Church of England to be in a position to engage with debates about it rationally. I suspect there is an element of political manouvreing and intellectual dishonesty about him - after all, if you were Archbishop of Canterbury your hands would be fairly well tied when interrogated on matters of church doctrine. More than that however, he is what Daniel Dennett likes to call a "murky", in that he seems to actually believe there are aspects of intellectual endeavour where clarity and rigour are not desirable and poetic vagueness is a much better approach.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:57:00 UTC | #222414

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 22 by Richard Dawkins

14. Comment #234986 by Meadon on August 22, 2008 at 10:29 am
I hate to be contrarian, but I think Dawkins was guilty of just horrendously bad pedagogy in the first episode of the series. I have a sustained argument on my blog, here: http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/2008/08/dawkins-and-bad-pedagogy.html
Dawkins, I think, falls egregiously afoul of the last principle in this documentary. In one sequence, he goes to a school to teach a group 16 year-olds about evolution. Unsurprisingly, religion soon rears it head; several of the students, it turns out, are religious and they reject evolution for that reason. And what does Dawkins do? He tries to persuade them to become atheists!

That is a bloody lie. I tried to persuade those children to abandon their belief in CREATIONISM. That is NOT the same as persuading them to become atheists. I was scrupulously careful to do no such thing.

I suspect that you didn't watch the documentary at all, but read one of the critics, such as Libby Purves, and believed her.

Please apologise NOW. As an educator, I feel extremely strongly about this.
Richard

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:58:00 UTC | #222416

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 23 by Diacanu

designsoda-

Continuing my thoughts, I'll come right out and say what passes for Republicans in Washington are a joke to me.
Libertarians most closely represent what conservatives are supposed to be about.

Washington Republicans are this weird soup of socialism, warped utopianism, corpratism (not true capitalism) cow-towing to bible-thumpery, just a mess of contradictions.

How real conservatives keep voting these creatures in baffles me.

They've bought a big fat okey-doke.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:58:00 UTC | #222417

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 24 by Diacanu

Richard Dawkins-

Ah....you actually click open people's blogs...

*Eyes dart,...feels exposed...runs to my blog to vaccuum and dust, and change the rubbish bag*

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:06:00 UTC | #222422

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 25 by Styrer-

Comment #234986 by Meadon on August 22, 2008 at 10:29 am

I hate to be contrarian, but I think Dawkins was guilty of just horrendously bad pedagogy in the first episode of the series. I have a sustained argument on my blog, here: http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/2008/08/dawkins-and-bad-pedagogy.html


This is spectacularly unfair.

I've just re-watched the part of the first episode in the classroom to confirm that it is one of the children who first raises the issue of religion and that it is on the basis of his particular unspecified 'holy text' that he will actively reject any evidence of evolution. Dawkins - pedagogically correctly - tries to correct this ridiculous approach.

Styrer

[Edit: I see Richard has already responded in suitably robust terms. My points nonetheless remain.]

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:08:00 UTC | #222424

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 26 by Cartomancer

To be honest, I suspect that the misunderstanding perpetrated by Meadon, Libby Purves and all those who think that Richard tried to insist on atheism in his encounter with the children of Park High could have been predicted. In today's climate it is a misunderstanding waiting to happen - something a lot of people would go out of their way to misunderstand. Having watched that section of the programme again I can see that someone who wanted to believe that Richard was shoving atheism down the children's throats might be able, on a cursory and unconsidered viewing, to come to this conclusion. The clearly edited nature of the encounter opens up the imagination to speculate on what was going on between the bits we do see, and no doubt the minds of Richard's critics would have filled those gaps with their own imagined forcing of atheism on the children.

With reflection, perhaps a short twenty-second explanation from Richard at some stage in this scene would have cut off the misunderstanding in the bud. Something along the lines of "some of the children have brought up religious objections. It would be wrong of me as an educator to simply rubbish their claims and insist on an atheistic perspective, so I shall present them with the evidence - this is a lesson about Evolution, not about atheism". Since the programme's lawyers insisted on all the many clear expressions of Richard's atheism, it might have been a good idea to spell out just as clearly the fallacies they might have tempted unscrupulous viewers into. I wish television audiences did not need such pointers and could work out what was really going on on the screen for themselves, but clearly from the reactions of so many reviewers they do.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:12:00 UTC | #222427

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 29 by Dr Doctor

Prof. Dawkins,

Any chance of persuading Channel 4 (or the BBC) to produce a solid, brand new, lavish and compelling documentary on evolution with you as presenter?

Something as thorough as Climbing Mount Improbable with the production values of The Blue Planet should suffice to end the sympathy amongst the British for creationism/ID once and for all.

[ on topic - Rowan Williams gave the impression of someone who knows what he is saying is unsupportable and unconvincing. A man going through the motions, I feel. ]

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:13:00 UTC | #222430

planeswalker321's Avatar Comment 28 by planeswalker321

[[[[That is a bloody lie. I tried to persuade those children to abandon their belief in CREATIONISM. That is NOT the same as persuading them to become atheists. I was scrupulously careful to do no such thing.

I suspect that you didn't watch the documentary at all, but read one of the critics, such as Libby Purves, and believed her.

Please apologise NOW. As an educator, I feel extremely strongly about this.
Richard ]]]]

///////////////////////////////////////////

I may have seen the documentary, or I may be thinking of a different lesson, but yes, I can confirm that you were merely teaching evolution, and encouraged them to think objectively (without actually trying to "convert" the children into anything more than children.)
I think I can also see where your critics are coming from; they see it as a slippery slope. After all, if you tell them that one part of the bible could be wrong, it logically casts into doubt the rest of it. I certainly agree with this, slippery slope though it may be; if a part of the bible is wrong, it does indeed cast doubts upon the rest. Even so, the goal of science is to seek objective truth, so a scientist must follow the evidence, no matter what the implications. Teaching this to children is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, it is, after all, SCIENCE CLASS.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:13:00 UTC | #222429

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 27 by Paula Kirby

Meadon: Unsurprisingly, religion soon rears it head; several of the students, it turns out, are religious and they reject evolution for that reason. And what does Dawkins do? He tries to persuade them to become atheists!
Meadon, that is a scandalous lie, and you should withdraw it at once. If you are in any doubt, watch the programme again.

Not ONCE does Richard Dawkins advocate atheism in front of those schoolchildren. It is the CHILDREN who bring up the subject of religion as their reason for not believing in evolution - Richard does nothing more than ask them to look at the EVIDENCE. Throughout he is talking about EVOLUTION, not religion.

You are perpetuating an outrageous lie, and you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm quite serious - watch the programme again and you will see that you are absolutely, utterly wrong.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:13:00 UTC | #222428

Meadon's Avatar Comment 30 by Meadon

Richard,

(I'm assuming it's the Richard Dawkins, not some random person who registered with the username "Richard Dawkins". I stand to be corrected on this point).

I have indeed watched the documentary - well, the first two episodes so far. And I do honestly think you were guilty of promoting atheism in that classroom - I watched the classroom section a number of times to make sure. I'm going to watch the relevant bit of the episode again right now to be absolutely sure.

I will, of course, be more than happy to withdraw my criticism and apologize if I'm wrong.

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:14:00 UTC | #222432