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'People say I'm strident' - Comments

kram50's Avatar Comment 1 by kram50

I'm losing my patience too Richard...I want to fast forward things and see how it all turns out!

We need bus adds in Canada as well!

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:04:00 UTC | #257519

rapidflex's Avatar Comment 2 by rapidflex

Mr. Dawkins should start a worldwide campaign against ignorance. Judging from the overwhleming response "Atheist Bus Campaign" have received, I am sure Mr. Dawkins will receive more than enough funds for any campaign he embarks on.
And he should not avoid his policy to "Take the bull by the horns".
Mr. Dawkins worldwide campaign hopefully would lay emphasis on
" Child indoctrination = Child abuse".

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:13:00 UTC | #257528

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 3 by Dr Doctor

Dawkins critics are sounding shrill and strident. The way I look at it after reading thousands of comments most of which leapt to Richards' defense is that this is a short term set back.

He gets in the first punch, they reel, they build a strategy of trying to discredit him and "dead agent" him in the minds of his target audience.

Thing is, that strategy only works for a short period of time, a "yeah whatever" effect starts to take whenever that criticism is made. Eventually.

But how to shorten this lead time to balance?

Two ways I can think of:

1. Provoke the religious apologists to become even more shrill.

2. Don't provoke, just mock them and predict their response before they make it.

One of the highest ranking comments on one of the threads over on the Guardian was a send up of the shrill militant atheist argument.

Religion has a choleric temper, irritate it.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:19:00 UTC | #257535

RichardNevin's Avatar Comment 4 by RichardNevin

Maybe the only way to get faith heads to convert is to suggest to them that they will only truly understand atheism after they have experienced some form of atheistic revelation. Well it works for faith.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:20:00 UTC | #257538

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 5 by Quetzalcoatl

Dr Doctor-

2. Don't provoke, just mock them and predict their response before they make it.

Easy enough. All their responses seem to be simply variations on common themes. It's been a long time since I heard anything new from those who are attempting to counter what Dawkins has to say.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:25:00 UTC | #257541

notsobad's Avatar Comment 6 by notsobad

"We've all been brought up with the view that religion has some kind of special privileged status. You're not allowed to criticise it. And therefore, if you offer even a fairly mild criticism, it really does sound strident, because it violates this expectation that religion is out of bounds."

This is an observable fact.
It's the same with other topics people are brainwashed to consider untouchable, such as patriotism.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:25:00 UTC | #257543

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 7 by Dr Doctor

Also Richard sounds slightly despondent in this article, but I can't help thinking that the situation would be much worse without the work that he has put in since he graduated.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:36:00 UTC | #257551

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 8 by Enlightenme..


Heaven? I never found that to be the remotest bit convincing, even as a child, when told my grandad had 'gone to heaven', and I would see him again someday, I could smell BS.

Hell? John Lennox's kind of comforting?
That six million Jews are avenged with Hitler roasting on a spit?

Again, I smelt BS from the off.

"record numbers of new maths and science undergraduates were reported"
Perhaps there's hope for us after all!

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:37:00 UTC | #257552

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 9 by HourglassMemory

I sure do understand his frustration.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:45:00 UTC | #257561

Wosret's Avatar Comment 10 by Wosret

Yeah, sometimes I think it might be cool to not be constantly worried about something bad happening to me, but then I fear that my being cognizant of this helps in the prevention of bad things from happening to me.

So the bliss of ignorance (or delusion) may carry a heavy prize.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:55:00 UTC | #257577

D'Arcy's Avatar Comment 11 by D'Arcy

In a way Richard is in a no win situation, a bit like Darwin was. If he is accused of being "shrill" and "strident", it is because of the message he conveys. Cleopatra ( as per Shakespeare) may have punished the messenger about Mark Antony's mis-doings, (i.e. getting married, but not to her), but it is hardly a fitting way to further human knowledge.

Where is the so-called middle ground between faith and non-belief? Richard should stick to his line: (my paraphrase) " I respect that you hold those views, but I have no reason to believe they are true".

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:03:00 UTC | #257589

root2squared's Avatar Comment 12 by root2squared

Damnit, he's just being honest. If all atheists were strident instead of "respectful" and "considerate", we would make a lot more progress.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:04:00 UTC | #257591

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 13 by scottishgeologist

I'd like to pick up on something RD says in this piece:

If you were to actually travel around schools and universities and listen in on lectures about evolution you might find a fairly substantial fraction of young people, without knowing what it is they disapprove of, think they disapprove of it, because they've been brought up to

(I am assuming that RD is talking about the UK here, correct me if I am wrong)

I'd like to know WHO these young people are. Which "faith community / communities" are we talking about

Are they UK born and bred or immigrant'

We are always being told, and the figures bear it out, that christianity is on the wane in the UK. So if these young people are christian, one would expect their influence to wane also

I am just wondering if this is another example of the "polarisation" that is happening. Where, if you "go to church" you are more likely to be evangie and/or conservative.

Or is it simply a case that the evangies are getting more shrill and strident'


Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #257606

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 14 by Matt H.

Peter Kay has nothing on Ricky Gervais.

Good interview, though.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:31:00 UTC | #257618

a non e-moose's Avatar Comment 15 by a non e-moose

I wasn't sure the bus campaign was a good idea, but it seems to be generating a lot of good discussion.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:45:00 UTC | #257636

alan baylis's Avatar Comment 16 by alan baylis

7. Comment #271179 by Dr Doctor

but I can't help thinking that the situation would be much worse without the work that he has put in since he graduated.

We can take that as an absolute fact. :)

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:48:00 UTC | #257637

Quine's Avatar Comment 17 by Quine

On the next bus, I would like to see:

"Raising children to believe what is not true is child abuse."

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:55:00 UTC | #257648

TurkishAtheist's Avatar Comment 18 by TurkishAtheist

Besides some handful people I think human race becoming dumber by the day, we have more stupid people right now than 20 years ago, more religious nut jobs taking over governments, they are spreading like disease.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:57:00 UTC | #257649

Ochiudo's Avatar Comment 19 by Ochiudo

[quote] [quote]"We've all been brought up with the view that religion has some kind of special privileged status. You're not allowed to criticise it. And therefore, if you offer even a fairly mild criticism, it really does sound strident, because it violates this expectation that religion is out of bounds." [/quote]

This is an observable fact.
It's the same with other topics people are brainwashed to consider untouchable, such as patriotism. [/quote]

Interestingly, that is a local problem. Try being a patriot in germany, for example, and you'll most likely wake up in a hospital. But
what you're saying is quite generally true for democracy; even though it is a system far from being perfect we are not encouraged nor allowed to even try of thinking something new...

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:02:00 UTC | #257654

javb222's Avatar Comment 20 by javb222

EDIT: In my experience (as someone who abandoned faith), moderates are unconvincing and open to the (correct) accusation that they are hypocrites. What worked for me were the clear and well delivered rhetorical lines of Sam Harris and the cognitive dissonance caused by the Selfish Gene vs Harun Yahya. So I think it's good to be blunt.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:03:00 UTC | #257655

asyouwere's Avatar Comment 21 by asyouwere

In a recent interview, Richard was touted as "… possibly the world’s most famous atheist." From some in the audience we would hear "Gasp! Not an atheist

I know the subject has been broached before, but to the religious of the world the word "atheist" is pejorative at the very mention. Like the comedienne who didn’t believe in god, and it was okay with her mother as long as she wasn’t an atheist.

The faithful are inured from childhood to throw up a wall of deaf ears to anyone defining themselves with that term. There are a great many folks that simply are unable to even begin to engage in any rational discussion on any subject with anyone they understand to be atheist. Richard himself has bemoaned the allusion of vileness and evil many cultures attach the word. But for those cultures, any insinuation of godlessness has that consequence.

Realizing that it is almost impossible to spontaneously bring a word into the lingua franca, how might we define ourselves in a way that has less historical association with the iniquity of your everyday, run-of-the-mill heretics and blasphemers?

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:23:00 UTC | #257677

Andrew Mackay's Avatar Comment 22 by Andrew Mackay

We should be more strident and not mealy-mouthed - particularly with regard to the bus advert.
It would have more impact if it said

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:37:00 UTC | #257692

D'Arcy's Avatar Comment 23 by D'Arcy

As a Godless heretic myself, what kind of pussyfoot "middlegroud" description of me would be preferred? "99% agnostic?", "militant atheist?", "atheist fundamentalist?". My own preferred description of my viewpoint is evolutionary materialist.

God has no place in my world.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:39:00 UTC | #257694

David A Robertson's Avatar Comment 24 by David A Robertson

Just wondering - how did the debate with Lennox in Oxford go? Disappointed that there has been no mention of this repeat Huxley/Wilberforce clash here.

As regards Scottish Geologists comment - there is no doubt that there is an increased interest in the young (18-30). I find it very difficult to get older people to come to church or debate but the 18-30 age group are much more open minded. At the Hitchens/Lennox debate I sat in front of an older couple who before the debate opined that of course the older people would be religious and the younger ones atheist. In fact - when it came to voting it looked to me as though the vast majority of those supporting Lennox were younger.

Richards thoughts on why this is happening are interesting. I think he has either actually helped us (unwittingly) or does not understand what causes people to turn to God.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:48:00 UTC | #257700

dochmbi's Avatar Comment 25 by dochmbi

Child indoctrination is the most important issue in my opinion. There should be a campaign against it and it should say something like "freedom of the mind is a human right, say no to indoctrination".

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:49:00 UTC | #257701

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

Comment #271329 by David A Robertson

turn to God.

Sorry, what God? You only think he "might" exist. I admire you for admitting your apparently new-found agnosticism. Perhaps you are one of the older doubters of which you write?

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:52:00 UTC | #257704

asyouwere's Avatar Comment 27 by asyouwere

23. Comment #271323 by D'Arcy on October 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm

"My own preferred description of my viewpoint is evolutionary materialist".

Hmmm... not too shabby.

Edit: Doesn't bring any god-ness into it at all.

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:54:00 UTC | #257707

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 28 by Lisa Bauer

From the article:

Does he worry that the calibre of undergraduates is falling, as access to university is extended? "I've got to be terribly careful not to sound like an old fogey here. When I first started tutoring in the 1960s it was a great joy to me, to get enthusiastic pupils who were really keen and interested and a tutorial would be a real meeting of minds and a real conversation. That good feeling about it seemed to gradually disappear. But I would hesitate to blame the students for that, it could be that I was just growing jaded."

THIS is the part of the article I want to know more about. How, specifically, have things changed in this regard? Are students less curious, less argumentative, less impressive intellectually, what? Or is it more that, having taught so long, he's "seen it all before" or something of that nature?

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:56:00 UTC | #257709

gazzaofbath's Avatar Comment 29 by gazzaofbath

I don't know about anyone else but I was just a little disappointed with this interview in The Guardian. I read through it first thing and thought "is that all"?

I was hoping the interviewer would cover more ground. Something on his track record of science education, including the well known books (though she may be a Guardian 'arty' type who hasn't read them!); his broader views on science, life, state of country; his plans for the future (and not just his last words - some way off I hope!).

Maybe its scope was meant to be a little limited but I would have hoped that a good interviewer could have probed a bit more - just for my interest!

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 13:03:00 UTC | #257713

Billy Sands's Avatar Comment 30 by Billy Sands

what causes people to turn to God

Vulnerability, indoctrination and the need to feel special.

You want debate? Why do you never debate here? Lets do the virgin birth "prophecy" or the "fall" right here, right now! (Pause for anticipated silence).

Would you let an atheist come to your sunday school every week and present an alternative to your mythology? (How many people attend your crutch on a sunday any way?)

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 13:09:00 UTC | #257718