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Darwin shouldn't be hijacked by New Atheists - he is an ethical inspiration - Comments

Ohnhai's Avatar Comment 1 by Ohnhai

What Richard Said.

I would like to say more but what more is there.

here is to 2009 and the year of Darwin. (raises a glass)

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:56:00 UTC | #293551

Librarian's Avatar Comment 2 by Librarian

Here, Here! Ohnhai

I'm looking forward to all the new books. I hope some will be written on a young adult level. I plan on stocking my personal and professional library shelves.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:08:00 UTC | #293559

melsdr's Avatar Comment 3 by melsdr

I remember listening to an interview involving Bunting and Dawkins. When Dawkins asked why she called herself a Catholic, when the God she described didn’t bear any relation to the Biblical one, her answer was, "Well, why not'"
If that is the level of thinking she puts into her faith, then why should anyone take her seriously'
Every time I see her write, I am reminded of why I no longer read the Guardian. Everyone there seems to have head in anus syndrome.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:13:00 UTC | #293561

SK1988's Avatar Comment 4 by SK1988

Totally agree with Richard. Had an idea what to expect upon seeing the name Madeleine Bunting before even reading the article. As melsdr says, that interview was embarrassing for the poor woman.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:26:00 UTC | #293568

Gordy's Avatar Comment 5 by Gordy

I can't speak for all atheists, obviously, but personally I'd be quite happy if people just accepted the truth of evolution by natural selection, regardless of their religious views. As far as I can see, it is religious people who have made this an issue, not scientists.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:28:00 UTC | #293569

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 6 by mordacious1

What Darwin did, IMHO, is to show that there was no need for a supernatural "creator", no need whatsoever.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:30:00 UTC | #293570

Fuller's Avatar Comment 7 by Fuller

Bunting's long, lame ramble was no match for Dawkins concise reply. Nice work.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:35:00 UTC | #293574

JonLynnHarvey's Avatar Comment 8 by JonLynnHarvey

Just for the record, the full original title is
"On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" but in the 6th edition the title was shortened to "The Origin of Species."

Also worth noting, when Christie's auctioned off an 1860 edition, they billed it in their catalogue with the incorrect title "On the origin of THE species".
See "http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5119958"
Similarly, Nature magazine in reviewing a recent book "On the Origin of Phyla" also calls Darwin's book by the incorrect title. At least one online bookshop (Abbey's) uses the incorrect title in their catalogue. The online Literary Encyclopedia about great works of literature uses the wrong title (with the extra 'the') as well.

So "On the origin of THE species" seems to be one of those iconic phrases like "Elementary my dear Watson" (first introduced in a non-Doyle Holmesian radio play) or "Beam me up Scotty" or "Play it again, Sam" (the real dialogue is Rick: "You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!". Ilsa: "Play it, Sam.) that was never actually uttered (or written in this case) but has become famous nonetheless. A sort of low-grade meme perhaps.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:39:00 UTC | #293579

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 9 by NewEnglandBob

1. Madeleine Bunting was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (full name: The College of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary).

2. Bunting is noted for her advocacy of religious belief from a liberal position and her antipathy to atheism, claiming that atheists' antipathy to religion makes it impossible for them to criticise religion effectively.

3. Every article she has written is negative. I guess she hates everyone.


This is a journalist?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:04:00 UTC | #293587

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 10 by mordacious1

JonLynnHarvey

Interesting, especially since "On the Origin of THE Species" makes no sense, given the content of the work.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:05:00 UTC | #293589

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 11 by mordacious1

NEB

She's also known for being a nitwit.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:07:00 UTC | #293590

chuckg's Avatar Comment 12 by chuckg

A significant thing about Darwin was how Origin(building on Lyell, et al), by removing the need for a creator, freed scientists in other fields to imagine an uncreated universe, one that developed under only natural laws. To me this is what really kicked off the age of modern science starting in the 1870's when the nature of chemistry, matter and the cosmos was first cracked.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:23:00 UTC | #293596

imaginenoreligion's Avatar Comment 13 by imaginenoreligion

Ms. Bunting cannot help but being he usual nonsensical self. It is beyond any stretch of the imagination to understand why she still manages to be paid for writing utter cack. In any case, yet another waste of perfectly good paper. Even a chimp, given half an hour and a banana would come up with more logical and informative material.

I raise my glass to one of the most influential, clear and enlightened minds of the 19th century. To Charles Darwin, the terminator of gods, amongst other honourary titles.
Happy 2009 everyone.

EDIT: he* should have been her......

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:26:00 UTC | #293597

MagnusFaustus's Avatar Comment 14 by MagnusFaustus

Just what we need, a closet apologist trying to suggest our admiration of Darwin comes from some purely militant standpoint.

And Darwin as an ethical role model' Yeah, right.. The moment she mentions her other role models are the -delightful- characters in the bible, that little statement gets thrown right in the rubbish bin. It's obvious she doesn't mean it, and exposes another attempt to post-humously change the sides of a respected scientist.

First they have to go passing around deathbed conversion stories, now this. On the bright side they're getting more pathetic in their methods, so she's good for a laugh before you use her article for lining in a bird cage. Perhaps a mockingbird would be appropriate for Bunting.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:55:00 UTC | #293606

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 15 by Styrer-

It is no surprise to most educated readers that Bunting is still peddling her ill-conceived wares, successfully, in papers like the Grauniad. Such, they know, is simply required in hard financial times to make ends meet. The readers, the owners of such formidable reporting know, read the other bits, knowing she's venting. Again.

Bunting has as much standing in the intellectual community as had my last one-week old Brussel sprout, which I could not stomach. And it was a real beauty.

But her type of ill-conceived, ignorant, spouting vitriol is attractive still, so some papers think, and it is now up to the readers of such formerly decent papers as the above to draw their own conclusions.

Bunting has become a standing joke.

Richard has delivered here a withering attack on a woman with absolutely nothing new to say. I do wonder if it might have not been appropriate for Richard to simply say in print that he too has something new and exciting to present for reading - a la Bunting - but which on final read-through he thought old and ill-thought out. And then finish his sentence there.

Mark Pallen should certainly be on Richard's list of NOMA advocates with whom to talk. But apart from all of the above, I reluctantly must thank Bunting for doing more through her inanity for the non-theistic view of this godless universe than a host of intelligent atheists can probably manage in one short piece of garbage such as the above.

Do read it again, and admire its verbosity in the complete absence of substance. It's a doozy.

Best,
Styrer

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:59:00 UTC | #293608

tybowen's Avatar Comment 16 by tybowen

our relationship with the natural world is not one of dominion but intimate interdependence.

Which book is it that says man has dominion over the natural world? Oh right, the bible. Darwin so throughly blasted religious thinking its incredible.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:04:00 UTC | #293610

Bob Johnson's Avatar Comment 17 by Bob Johnson

Well, I guess I'm one of these New Atheists, although I've been a regular old-time atheist for round about 40 years. Why am I vocal now? Because, the theists are stepping up their level of insisting upon Bronze Age myths in a world that cannot afford to live in the past.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:27:00 UTC | #293614

Indian Joe's Avatar Comment 18 by Indian Joe

On these twin anniversaries, of Darwin's birth and book, it is inevitable that the common affliction of 'on-the-other-hand' will grip the press. Another recent manifestation of OTOH is Jack Grimston's "Charles Darwin and the theory of copycats" (The Sunday Times, 28 Dec - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article5404130.ece)

According to the story, "a group of critics has commissioned computer experts with specialised antiplagiarism software to scour Darwin’s book, published in 1859, for similarities to a paper released the year before by Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist who worked for eight years in modern Indonesia. Initial indications are that the analysis will show that some of the most important ideas in On the Origin of Species were taken from Wallace..."

The article goes on to say that "most mainstream scientists have taken Darwin’s side, with Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, calling the accusations “misplaced”.

“Darwin got it first, but foolishly he did not publish,” said Dawkins. “Wallace deserves credit but he was not the one who gathered the evidence into a book that actually changed people’s minds.”

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:43:00 UTC | #293615

cyberguy's Avatar Comment 19 by cyberguy

The fear is that the anniversary will be hijacked by the New Atheism as the perfect battleground for another round of jousting over the absurdity of belief It's a position that infuriates many scientists, not to mention philosophers and theologians.

"A defence of evolution doesn't have to get entangled in atheism," says Mark Pallen, professor of microbial genomics at Birmingham and author of The Rough Guide to Evolution. Bob Bloomfield, of the Natural History Museum, says: "We want to move the agenda on to the relevance of his ideas today and put aside this squabbling over faith and dogma."

Seems like the perfect time to showcase atheism.

If some people (scientists, philosophers or theologians) get infuriated over it, then tough.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:53:00 UTC | #293617

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 20 by Styrer-

Comment #308337 by Bob Johnson on December 29, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Well, I guess I'm one of these New Atheists, although I've been a regular old-time atheist for round about 40 years. Why am I vocal now? Because, the theists are stepping up their level of insisting upon Bronze Age myths in a world that cannot afford to live in the past.


But how on earth can we possibly say that we're getting through?

In the last two weeks, I've drunk beers with Sri Lankans in Colombo, cocktails with Muslims and Indians in the Maldives (how flash am I?) and over-chilled and poorly poured Guinness currently in Dubai. They will all call themselves Muslim, save for one chap from the Maldives who said he could not decide if he is Muslim or Christian because he's 'not sure about the confession thing'. What has become hugely clear to me in my chats with these people is that I know FAR more about their professed religions than they know. Their religion seems a culturally-hewn garment, whose metaphorical and real-world implications remain of no interest to them, which garment can be cast off in favour of Christian, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist robe at the switch of a simple trigger of a mention from me or my wife of disapprobation.

But they need a garment of one sort or another.

It is sad and desperate to note that it is at the level of such ridiculously under-privileged and weepingly educationally-deprived people that the propagation of religion - as a simple identifier, which cannot be dismissed but which must be embraced at all cost - is really at its most powerful.

Of course they had never heard of Dawkins, evolution was not hated but utterly misunderstood and hence presented no problem to their belief, and they were the loveliest smiliest people I've ever met.

The grip of religion is such, I think, that Dawkins and the others can only hope that their works will find their way to such people long after you and I, and Dawkins, have gone.

Best,
Styrer

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:00:00 UTC | #293618

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 21 by Roland_F

NOMA cannot work when one site is permanently breaking the boundary and is infringing on scientific turf with creationist/ID crap forced into Biology teaching. So theist are permanently violating the NOMA with their science sabotage acts and when atheist hitting back, then theist crying foul and asking for atheist to pull back behind the NOMA line.
Atheist are permanently attacked and blackmailed and character assassinated as immoral, godless, sinners who deserve their fate of grilling eternal in hell - when they defend themselves this is considered as “strident” fundamental, militant etc.
Darwin’s theory natural selection is purposely obscured and labeled ‘just a theory’, I still have to find the theist who walks towards an abyss and claims ‘gravitation is only a theory’ to walk on . . .
Then the term Social-Darwinism is created and used to discredit Darwin’s work from theist, a wrong terms which should better be termed “Social-Mendellism” for the selective breeding of special attributes (white skin, blond hair, blue eyes).

So and now coming back to the article here: Atheist will highjack Darwin’s anniversary to attack the “poor defenseless” faithheads, well the article is written from a faithhead so what can one expect ?!?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:06:00 UTC | #293620

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 22 by Roland_F

Styrer: drunk beers with Sri Lankans in Colombo, cocktails with Muslims and Indians in the Maldives, and over-chilled and poorly poured Guinness currently in Dubai.

Is this long and scarce energy (Peakoil !!) wasting travel approved von Teratonis ??

Beside drinking alcohol in Dubai is against the local (Shariah) law and punishable according to the prophet’s (be peace upon him !) teaching with 200 strokes with the cane. So if you are British and your religious leader R.W. the A.B. of C. succeeds in implementing Shariah Law in the UK you can already get used to it.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:19:00 UTC | #293622

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 23 by Styrer-

Comment #308345 by Roland_F on December 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Styrer: drunk beers with Sri Lankans in Colombo, cocktails with Muslims and Indians in the Maldives, and over-chilled and poorly poured Guinness currently in Dubai.

Is this long and scarce energy (Peakoil !!) wasting travel approved von Teratonis ??

Beside drinking alcohol in Dubai is against the local (Shariah) law and punishable according to the prophet’s (be peace upon him !) teaching with 200 strokes with the cane. So if you are British and your religious leader R.W. the A.B. of C. succeeds in implementing Shariah Law in the UK you can already get used to it.


Technically to drink alcohol every individual needs a licence to do so. But this is bollocks if you're staying in a major hotel, and if you move to another hotel bar, you're rarely asked any questions. Of course I arrived in the afternoon of 28th, whereupon I was told that a 24 hour prohibition on alcohol was in force till Monday 6.30pm because of Islamic New Year. I recommend the San Pellegrino in such times.

Best,
Styrer

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:32:00 UTC | #293625

Daniella's Avatar Comment 24 by Daniella

Next year they will be releasing a film about the life of Charles Darwin starring Paul Bettany as Darwin and Jennifer Connelly as Emma. Not many details available as yet in regards to release date etc... but...

The film is called 'Creation'!???

Here is the plot from Wikipedia

English naturalist Charles Darwin finds himself torn between his love for his deeply religious wife and his own growing belief in a world where God has no place.


I fear that this film is going to be hikacked by the religious.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:00:00 UTC | #293634

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 25 by mordacious1

Daniella

Sounds like a chick flick.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:05:00 UTC | #293636

Kimpatsu's Avatar Comment 26 by Kimpatsu

And let's not forget that, in her radio debate with Richard, Bunting kept saying "what is true?" as if truth cannot be accurately defined. Her thinking is so muddy, it's turgid.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:21:00 UTC | #293641

Quine's Avatar Comment 27 by Quine

It is the two hundredth year. They may cry and moan all they want, but we have waited long enough. Now we are going to say what we can show by evidence to be true, and will say it with a vast number of voices.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:37:00 UTC | #293645

Patrick McArdle's Avatar Comment 28 by Patrick McArdle

"As far as I can see, it is religious people who have made this an issue, not scientists."

This is especially true here in the States, where Bible-bangers love to shout about how they are "not descended from monkeys." (Since evolution shows that all extant primates, ourselves and monkeys included, evolved from now-extinct species, these Bible-thumpers merely reveal, yet again, their own ignorance.)

'What Darwin did, IMHO, is to show that there was no need for a supernatural "creator", no need whatsoever.'

Exactly. Darwin's science helped to push any concept of a supernatural power further back in time and space, toward the clockmaker god of deism. To this day, creationists claim their god can explain the gaps in human knowledge; as Darwin, Dawkins, and others close those gaps, this god gets left without a home.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:49:00 UTC | #293648

AfraidToDie's Avatar Comment 29 by AfraidToDie

Darwin has not been hijacked by the New Atheists; Darwin is detested by the religulous simply because they do not believe humans evolved from apes (or anything). Darwin’s theories can coexist with Deism, just not with Christianity or any of the other major religions which claim supernatural creationism. These religions drew the line in the sand that Darwin obliterated. If you are intelligent enough to accept the theory of evolution, you cannot believe in a supernatural creation of our species. This article is trying to hijack the relevance of Darwin’s work by implying there is room for the belief in supernatural creationism where that work has proven those beliefs false.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:56:00 UTC | #293649

Jesus86's Avatar Comment 30 by Jesus86

I don't understand the nit-picking about the title of Darwin's book. A book about plate techtonics called "On the Origin of the Continents" would make perfect sense.

(Originally, there was just one large continent, which broke apart into the many continents we have now. Originally, there was just one species, which separated into the many species we have now...)

Of course it is best to get the title right -- i.e. as the author wrote it -- but how does inserting a word that does not change the meaning matter?

Am I missing something?

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 00:14:00 UTC | #293665