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Dawkins speaks to overflow Fairbanks audience about humans, religion - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

The following comment follows the article in the News Miner.

PaDutchGirlwrote on Saturday, Jul 17 at 02:20 PM » My husband, Kurt Pfitzer, and I are UAF graduates and I am a former employee of KUAC-FM.

We jointly oppose Dawkins having set foot on our beloved alma mater, and from now on we will NOT renew our alumni association membership; nor will we donate ONE-CENT to any of the KUAC fundraisers.

We encourage other UAF grads to do likewise.

Joyce T. Mann

Quakertown, PA.

What does this bigoted woman think a university is FOR, if she thinks that holding different views from hers are grounds for stopping somebody even SETTING FOOT in it. Indeed, what does she even KNOW of my views? Truly, religion poisons everything.

Richard

Sun, 18 Jul 2010 23:55:19 UTC | #490069

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 2 by Gunga Lagunga

Religion. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again. Religion. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Apologies to Edwin Starr

Updated: Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:08:03 UTC | #490073

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 3 by God fearing Atheist

Is the video available online, or was it only streamed live?

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:42:16 UTC | #490083

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 4 by Michael Gray

Yes Richard, I too was bowled over by that stunningly bigoted and ignorant comment. Alaskans actually vote for such willful dolts.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:46:54 UTC | #490084

UndergradScientist's Avatar Comment 5 by UndergradScientist

Mr. Dawkins, Thanks so much for taking the chance to tour and speak at UAF. Not all of its students are as close-minded as "PaDutchGirl"! We very rarely have the opportunity to host groundbreaking intellectual speakers such as yourself, so that makes it even more important that you were here to inform our (sometimes crazy) community about issues we should think more critically about. I didn't get to see the lecture because I was on a 9-hour drive back to Fairbanks from Toolik Lake Field Station on the North Slope, but I still appreciate your willingness to speak at a small, distant community that most overlook. Thank you!

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:50:32 UTC | #490086

UndergradScientist's Avatar Comment 6 by UndergradScientist

Comment 4 by Michael Gray :

Yes Richard, I too was bowled over by that stunningly bigoted and ignorant comment.

Alaskans actually vote for such willful dolts.

Not all of us do!

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:53:58 UTC | #490087

Nerevarine's Avatar Comment 7 by Nerevarine

I completely forgot about the live web feed. I, too, hope that the video will be posted someday soon. It sounds like it was a fascinating lecture.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 02:15:02 UTC | #490110

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 8 by HappyPrimate

So excited to hear RD had such a wonderful turn out. Made me smile today knowing that there is intelligence in our Alaska. I'm sure those who were fortunate enough to attend thoroughly enjoyed RD's talk. I do hope we get a video posted of it here. I read the full article and some of the comments. There are many very supportive comments posted along with the usual blah blah blah stuff. Just wonderful that RD made the trip. I do hope he got to see some of the state as well.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 03:00:15 UTC | #490118

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 9 by Andrew B.

I tried listening to the streaming video, but the sound was very, very quiet. Has anyone done a quick scan of the youtube or the google to see if a video of the presentation is available?

Oh, and Richard come visit me in Colorado Springs, CO (I know, I know, what an original request)! You could have another awkward encounter with Ted Haggard and be kicked off his property again. Wouldn't that be swell!

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 03:27:48 UTC | #490126

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 10 by mirandaceleste

Outside, men attempted to hand religious pamphlets titled “God’s Bridge to Eternal Life” to people hurrying to get in the door.

I think that I've seen the "God's Bridge to Eternal Life" pamphlets before. I believe they're from the "free Bible lessons by mail!" people. Here's their slideshow about that good ole' bridge to eternal life. It looks like a horrible Powerpoint presentation made in 1995 or something. It's worth checking out just for the highly amusing graphics.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 05:37:50 UTC | #490143

Volde-Mart's Avatar Comment 11 by Volde-Mart

I too am eager to see the video posted online--although my wife and I were dismayed by the often rambling, inchoate questions during the Q&A session.

Mine was brief, but I'm not sure I asked it effectively and would like to try again:

Richard, you've said that a creator or designer explains "precisely nothing", because it leaves open the questions, "Who created the creator?" and "Who designed the designer?"

Fair enough, but that leaves you open to the question, "By what natural process did matter and natural law come to be?"

We obviously don't know the answer, yet few here would doubt that matter(/energy) and natural law explain precisely everything. Therefore, your typical response--essentially, the one you gave--cannot be uniformly applied and seems wrong to me. What do you say?

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 06:32:21 UTC | #490150

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 12 by Anaximander

Therefore, your typical response--essentially, the one you gave--cannot be uniformly applied and seems wrong to me.

General Relativity cannot be applied to, say, playing chess. But that does not make it wrong.

(Well, actually I calculate the movements of the pieces using General Relativity; but somehow I've never managed to make even the first move.)

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 07:42:31 UTC | #490170

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 13 by Stafford Gordon

I have no qualifications apropos of Biology, although I have read The Extended Phenotype and The Selfish Gene among other works, but I've long had a feeling, no more than a feeling, that something in our evolution occurred that predisposes certain people to become religious.

If that is the case perhaps it will become apparant as the human genenome reveals its secrets. A cure for religion, how about that.

S G

Updated: Mon, 19 Jul 2010 07:50:54 UTC | #490171

hfaber's Avatar Comment 14 by hfaber

Where can I watch it?

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 09:15:07 UTC | #490183

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 15 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #490150 by Volde-Mart

a creator or designer explains "precisely nothing", because it leaves open the questions, "Who created the creator?" and "Who designed the designer?" ... that leaves you open to the question, "By what natural process did matter and natural law come to be?" We obviously don't know the answer, yet few here would doubt that matter(/energy) and natural law explain precisely everything. Therefore, your typical response--essentially, the one you gave--cannot be uniformly applied and seems wrong to me.

Since only contingent propositions can imply contingent propositions, and since contingent propositions cry out for explanation, one can keep asking "why" indefinitely. But the aim of explanation is not to break this cycle so much as stop it getting out of hand. You need to explain those things in need of much explanation in terms of things in need of less explanation. A design explanation always explains something in terms of a more complex designer, for which even more explanation is needed. Human designers are, fortunately, quite well-explained by evolutionary biology, but deities are very different. When we explain things in terms of designerless natural processes, we have explanation at its best. As Dennett observes, a skyhook is insufficient; one needs a crane. Why do we have natural laws and matter and energy? This question is not as unanswerable as you think (Victor Stenger has written some especially accessible explanations of this); but, even if it was, far less needs to be explained there than when we first began. And above all, we know those things exist, because that assumption makes so many (otherwise surprisingly) accurate predictions. Gods lack this, and so the God hypothesis has absolutely no redeeming feature.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 09:37:07 UTC | #490188

deftmasterofdisguise's Avatar Comment 16 by deftmasterofdisguise

A bit off topic...but Dawkins can you please come to Melbourne (Aust) to speak? Please!

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 13:21:34 UTC | #490270

Rich Wilson's Avatar Comment 17 by Rich Wilson

I'm about to make up a little of Joyce T. Mann's lost donation. With a comment of course.

https://ssl.uaf.edu/ua/uafound/forms/securegift_UAF.html

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 13:41:24 UTC | #490280

Dover Beach's Avatar Comment 18 by Dover Beach

Is it not possible that the origins of religion were ritualistic behaviour which did confer a benefit on those practising it? Any pattern of behaviour which had a successful outcome would be repeated whilst those which were unsuccessful would be avoided. Later, those successful stratagems would be elevated into ritual and might contain elements which had no part in the outcome but which were observable as being present at the time, such as food eaten, clothes worn or the position of the moon and stars. These rituals would eventually become compulsory with 'wise men', or priests, to do the enforcing.

There is, surely, a very strong primitive human need for ritual, manifest in religion, superstition and compulsive behaviour. As an angst-ridden teenager I felt compelled to make certain small, unobservable (I hoped) movements otherwise a tragedy might occur. We know that certain sportsmen insist on wearing strips or garments worn on previous winning occasions. At the recent World Cup Diego Maradona, the manager of Argentina, crossed himself an extraordinary number of times before the match with Germany. (God wasn't watching as Germany won 4-0.) Everywhere the religious faithful are genuflecting, counting beads, making pilgrimages, praying five times a day to Mecca, turning prayer wheels, kissing crosses, insisting on one type of food whilst proscribing another etc. If only they could be persuaded to try stopping all this for a while and see that none of it makes any difference whatsoever; that the world will still go on rotating round the sun as usual. But no the atavistic fears must be kept at bay and the futile rituals followed.

The obsessive need, however, to repeat those sophisticated but pointless patterns of behaviour (or religions), I feel, might have come from a period in human development when the ability to distinguish successful behaviour from unsuccessful and to repeat the former was of paramount importance.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 14:25:50 UTC | #490303

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 19 by Follow Peter Egan

Hope to see this soon.

We still need Richard in the UK. Would love to see him lecture again.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 15:15:18 UTC | #490336

Randy Ping's Avatar Comment 20 by Randy Ping

Richard, please come to New Orleans.... this place needs ONE sane person.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 17:41:48 UTC | #490414

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 21 by chawinwords

Congratulations Richard, you bravely entered Palin Land and were welcomed by the university and the people of Fairbanks -- well, most of them. I wonder, did any Palinites point out Russia to you?

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 21:26:13 UTC | #490527

Indygrl76's Avatar Comment 22 by Indygrl76

Actually, this is what we deal with on college campuses all the time. As a college professor, students and their parents often complain if they come into contact with any ideas or thinking that doesn't comport to their personal views most of which conflict with their conservative religious indoctrination. Today, for many, going to college is about getting a job not getting an education. In fact, many students struggle when confronted with unfamiliar ideas and the critical thinking it requires. We (faculty) just try to do the best we can...

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 22:43:04 UTC | #490552

bembol's Avatar Comment 23 by bembol

I have nothing against Melbourne or New Orleans; they are terrific places. But the Philippines, with a population of 98,000,000, 98% of which are deluded, is far and away more deserving of a visit/lecture by the Four Horsemen. We need mind-cleansing here, urgently.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 02:14:16 UTC | #490621

Volde-Mart's Avatar Comment 24 by Volde-Mart

Truly, religion poisons everything.

versus the much blander,

"[Religion is] not good for nothing, but that doesn't mean you would recognize it as good." -Dawkins, 15 July

The first quote is unscientific, unhelpful, and verging on the extravagant. Though Dawkins is no friend of religion, I doubt he would be so careless with his words.

The second quote is more measured, thoughtful, skeptical--the qualities I admire in Dawkins, and the qualities he displayed last Thursday night.

I could be wrong, but I doubt he wrote the first one.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 05:35:49 UTC | #490646

Volde-Mart's Avatar Comment 25 by Volde-Mart

[Comment 12]

General Relativity cannot be applied to, say, playing chess.

Your humor is noted and appreciated, but I would say that your statement cannot be applied to my point.

Dawkins disqualifies design and creation on the premise that neither a designer's nor a creator's origins are explained.

Fine. But it's only fair to point out that evolution's origins--matter/energy and natural law--are equally ineffable. He doesn't apply his own logic equally. That's why I think he's wrong.

Updated: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 05:51:21 UTC | #490650

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 26 by Anaximander

is evolution good for anything? It is good for; proving that reason exists

Do you mean that there is a reason for everything or that we are rational?

proving that adamant and stubborn approaches fail

My reason in not high enough to understand that. But maybe there is a reason for that. (I mean for the fact that my IQ is not that high.)

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:44:09 UTC | #490662

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 27 by Anaximander

In fact, many students struggle when confronted with unfamiliar ideas and the critical thinking it requires.

Of course. If learning and invention was easy, we would all get a Nobel Prize. At least in logic.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:56:36 UTC | #490664

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 28 by hungarianelephant

Oh look, wooter has bought a Shift key. Now for another 100 posts of the argument from personal incredulity before the admins ban him again. Will I just put the kettle on while we wait?

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 07:34:25 UTC | #490684

k_docks's Avatar Comment 29 by k_docks

If evolution were true then religion is a product of evolution and it seems natural selection is powerless to do anything about it!

However, mistakes happen in nature and are sometimes passed on endlessly.

I also seems that natural selection is powerless in this instance too!

So much for the golden egg of evolution!

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 07:56:34 UTC | #490695

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 30 by hungarianelephant

If "the Reason" means the same baseless nonsensical assertions, impervious to rational analysis and posted over and over again, then yes.

However, I'm not going to flag you. While you're doing your stuff here, at least you are not poisoning kids' minds.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 07:57:20 UTC | #490696