This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← The problem with secularism - Opinion - International Herald Tribune

The problem with secularism - Opinion - International Herald Tribune - Comments

mrjohnno's Avatar Comment 1 by mrjohnno

**one's own personal beliefs**

If that was all it was then I wouldn't give a monkeys, but we all know it's not. Why can't these people see that 'beliefs' are not personal and it is very well shown by the chances of one's children having the same flavour of belief?

Imagine a time where humanity was on the brink of self destruction. The whole world took a vote on the question of belief, we all should or we all shouldn't. I don't need to tell you the story of what would happen if we voted against 'belief' but it's somewhat reasonable to postulate that if we chose 'belief' then millions of years into the future aliens will come to visit.

Imagine the surprise when their archaeologists and anthropologists find out that we died out as a species because we decided to self stupefy ourselves.

How embarrassing!

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:22:00 UTC | #444523

gordon's Avatar Comment 2 by gordon

Oh Dear! 'Barely Literate' Stopped reading there.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:22:00 UTC | #444525

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 3 by Mr Blue Sky

What a pair of tossers. This is just about complete and utter bollocks from apologists trying to mobilise the weak minded. I just wish I had the words to rebut it properly in suitable prose. Perhaps one of them got a thesaurus for christmas or something. I await the comments from people of higher education and philosophy...

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:23:00 UTC | #444526

leighwoosey's Avatar Comment 4 by leighwoosey

That they keep quoting theory as fact speaks of their own fundamentalist tendencies and thirst for a single, all defining truth.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:43:00 UTC | #444531

cafeeine's Avatar Comment 5 by cafeeine

Is there a particular reason 4 year old refuse is being posted? Even if ( I assume) it wasn't orignally on, why drag out an old carcass for viewing?

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:43:00 UTC | #444532

Pete.K's Avatar Comment 6 by Pete.K

Oh Dear! 'Barely Literate' Stopped reading there.

Great minds think alike (Fools seldom differ!). That sentence drew me to a halt too, obviously the guy has a) Never read the book. or b) Is following the oldage "Attack is the best form of defence" either way it comes across as sad and pathetic.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:47:00 UTC | #444534

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 7 by Nunbeliever

Well, these morons clearly do not even understand the concept they are so desperately criticising.

Secularity has NOTHING to do with secular humanism or atheism. Secularity is the distinction between chruch and state. People are free to believe in and practice any religion they want to, but the state has to remain ignorant to all of them. Hence, a statesman or a politician are free to personally believe whatever he/she wants, but professionally he/she can't base his/her decisions on religious dogma or religious convictions.

That is all there is to it. Ironically the principle of secularism is a prerequisite to religious freedom.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:55:00 UTC | #444535

Michael P.'s Avatar Comment 8 by Michael P.

They're losers, obviously, but "caffeine" is right: the article has been posted before:

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:59:00 UTC | #444536

Ygern's Avatar Comment 9 by Ygern

The flecks of spittle are a dead giveaway.

Why is it relevant - perhaps because this is the same Phillip Blond who is a rising star in the Tory party and some people think might be the next Prime Minister of England, is it not?

If there's even a smidgem of a chance of that, suddenly the article becomes sinister rather than looney.

Have a look at this article on Political :

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:06:00 UTC | #444537

johnhummel's Avatar Comment 10 by johnhummel

If this is the level of quality for the New York Times opinion section, it may explain why newspaper readership is down.

Or, they were hoping for some sensationalism to drive traffic, like John C. Dvorak.

Either way, it only takes a few minutes to see how they have major failings in their argument.

"This was a profoundly secular move: It simply denied natural knowledge of God and thereby eliminated theology from the sciences. Religion, stripped of rationality, became associated with a blind unmediated faith — precisely the mark of fanaticism. Thus religious fundamentalism constitutes an absence of religion that only true religion can correct."

I would say that secularism argues that there is no supernatural or divine beings *in the absence of evidence*. Even Richard Dawkins, in a recent podcast, mentioned that you can't say "there absolutely is no god", the best you can say is "there is no *evidence* of a god."

That's all secularism asks for. Rather than assuming that X exists, it first starts with "what is the evidence for X", and if the evidence does not hold up, then secularists are free to assume X does not exist. Provide evidence for unicorns and leprechauns and I'll believe. Until then, I'm not running after every rainbow to get a pot of gold.

"Richard Dawkins's barely literate polemic "The God Delusion" declares that religion is irrational without ever explaining the foundations of reason itself."

This, to be blunt, is simply asinine. I don't need to go into a history of the background of reason and logic to explain why there's no Santa Claus.

"Sam Harris's diatribe "The End of Faith" has to falsify history by claiming that Hitler and Stalin were religious in order to make its case for the malign influence of faith."

I'd say the job of falsifying history by claiming that Hitler was an atheist when he spoke of Christianity often, had his soldiers wearing [](Gott mit uns] during World War II. Or ignoring Stalin's educational training at Greek Orthodox schools. Either way, trying to deny these facts and put them into the "atheism" box is disingenuous. Nobody knows what these two monsters really felt about religion, but it's clear - as Sam Harris has said - that what they lacked was not overfill of reason and opinion opinions, but a more - if I may say so - "faith based approach" that went out of its way to assert the dogma of Communism and Nazism was correct against all evidence.

One more, and then I don't know if I can keep up my gag reflex in the face of this much stupidity.

"Darwinism is close to being completely rewritten. Hitherto, it had been assumed that forms of life are the product of essentially arbitrary processes, such that (as Stephen Jay Gould put it) if we ran evolution again life would look very different. However, evolution shows biological convergence. As Simon Conway Morris, a professor of biology at Cambridge University, has argued, evolution is not arbitrary: If it ran again, the world would look much as it already does."

How often does it have to be said: evolution by natural selection is not random, it is not arbitrary. It follows rules that were first discovered 150 years ago by Darwin and refined since then. Saying "evolution is random" is no more true than saying "plate tectonics are random" or "germ theory is random." If the clock was run back and run again, things would look the same *because the same environmental pressures upon the species would be there to make them adapt in exactly the same way*.

This doesn't mean that some power sat from above to push things that way. If I set up a series of dikes and channels, then ran water through it, the results would be the 99.9999% the time each time I ran the clock back and did it again.

This is only getting halfway through the article. I don't know who Blond and Pabst are, but they're clearly people that can be ignored as either ignorant of science and reason, or lacking the brain power to tie their shoes, let alone make statements regarding Secularism or, well, anything.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:15:00 UTC | #444540

Unselfish Jean's Avatar Comment 11 by Unselfish Jean

Yes, the article was posted over four years ago. Extraordinarily inarticulate, why post again I wonder?


Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:20:00 UTC | #444541

RevJimBob's Avatar Comment 12 by RevJimBob

Oh deary me. This is the biggest load of toss I have read for quite some time. Impossible to criticise, as you wouldn't know where to start. Bollocks of the highest order from start to finish.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:21:00 UTC | #444543

Unselfish Jean's Avatar Comment 13 by Unselfish Jean

Ygern, hell's teeth, we're all doomed. J

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:25:00 UTC | #444544

SilentMike's Avatar Comment 14 by SilentMike

Thus religious fundamentalism constitutes an absence of religion that only true religion can correct.

Sure it is. And pneumonia is the result of a lack of parasitic bacteria in the body.

EDIT: This article is too stupid to read to the end. I got past where they called TGD barely literate without difficulty. I'm used to that nonsense. It was when they started trying to talk about science when the stupid really began to burn.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:38:00 UTC | #444548

moniz's Avatar Comment 15 by moniz

"Sam Harris's diatribe "The End of Faith" has to falsify history by claiming that Hitler and Stalin were religious in order to make its case for the malign influence of faith.

Really? Who's falsifying history here? This idiot doesn't even know his history, let alone put forward a rational opinion/argument.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:46:00 UTC | #444552

Carole's Avatar Comment 16 by Carole

Oh Dear! 'Barely Literate' Stopped reading there.

Also agree. I got no further than the headline box under 'latest news' on the home page before shouting "barely literate!? What???" at my monitor.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:47:00 UTC | #444553

Plasma Engineer's Avatar Comment 17 by Plasma Engineer

10. Comment #464400 by johnhummel

"How often does it have to be said: evolution by natural selection is not random, it is not arbitrary. "

Hmm - are you REALLY sure about this? I don't think you have read your Dawkins very carefully. (Or else I have misunderstood it completely when I read it.) Surely evolution is about the "non-random survival of randomly mutating organisms". Therefore if evolution ever could be re-run (not that we would know anything about it) we would expect the outcome to be totally different. The same mutations would be incredibly unlikely to happen in the same order. Then different genes would be the ones most fit to survive. This is just the same as the point that evolution can never run backwards. Any tendency to go back is just as increbibly unlikely and instead evolution marches inexorably forwards even if it appears that some traits have re-emerged.

I suggest you try out your experiment with water and channels. I guarantee that you will never get the same results. Oh - and while you are at it you should read a bit about chaos theory.

Anyway - what is the relevance of the argument about how evolution would turn out or what would have happened if the gravitational constant was different? The universe that we have and the life in our world are the product of the way things started off and this doesn't imply that there had to be a creator. It only implies that our kind of universe happened because the conditions were like that. Different starting conditions might have led to a different but equally successful universe and there is no need to speculate about parallel universes unless you are a mathematician who likes to play games with numbers.

Finally - to everyone - I would love to know where this suggestion that "Darwinism is close to being completely rewritten" has come from. I keep seeing it and keep doubting it. Is this the result of the 'new Lamarkism' and 'epigenetics' hypotheses? Or is there anything approaching a theory on this topic?

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:03:00 UTC | #444558

isaone's Avatar Comment 18 by isaone

Do we regularly post things from over 4 years ago? To me unless there is a link to something more current I do not see the usefulness.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:11:00 UTC | #444562

Harps's Avatar Comment 19 by Harps

Each sentence burns my eyes with the fuel of stupidity!

I'm sure someone more competent and eloquent than I will pick this apart.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:12:00 UTC | #444563

SilentMike's Avatar Comment 20 by SilentMike

19. Comment #464423 by Harps

There's nothing to pick apart. It's just vacuous nonsense.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:35:00 UTC | #444572

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 21 by severalspeciesof

Thus religious fundamentalism constitutes an absence of religion that only true religion can correct.
I actually chuckled when I read that...

Pot meet Kettle, Kettle meet Pot...

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:47:00 UTC | #444576

epicure's Avatar Comment 22 by epicure

I should be so 'barely literate'...

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 15:55:00 UTC | #444582

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 23 by NewEnglandBob

What an incredible mix of penultimate ignorance combined with malicious lying to produce people named Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst!

Every sentence is wrong - congratulation guys on defining a new low.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 16:14:00 UTC | #444588

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 24 by aquilacane

Evidence please. What a bunch of mouth gas.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 16:29:00 UTC | #444592

peanutsplatters's Avatar Comment 25 by peanutsplatters

"Long before religious fundamentalism, secular humanists reduced all objective codes to subjective assertion by making man the measure of all things and erasing God from nature. "

Notice how we erase God from nature...
How can we erase what wasn't there in the beginning?

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 16:40:00 UTC | #444596

sara g's Avatar Comment 26 by sara g

Did that even make enough sense to be wrong? It looked like someone threw a bunch of words against a canvas and left them where they hit.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 17:14:00 UTC | #444599

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 27 by DamnDirtyApe

"Long before religious fundamentalism, secular humanists reduced all objective codes to subjective assertion by making man the measure of all things and erasing God from nature. "

Actually isn't reducing things to subjective assertions the basis of every advancement humanity has ever made? From engineering to art?

If that's the problem with secularism then everything every human being has done is wrong.

Although not to say we human beings aren't flawed. recent events on the forum are a reminder of that. :(

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 17:18:00 UTC | #444602

Unselfish Jean's Avatar Comment 28 by Unselfish Jean

Isaone, take a look at Ygern's post above, no9, and the link. I think it justifies the article being posted again. J

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 17:56:00 UTC | #444614

sonnygll's Avatar Comment 29 by sonnygll

Wow these people are writers? I've seen better from your average fundie on youtube. That's pretty sad. Especially considering even the most sophisticated apologists are easy to defeat.

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 18:32:00 UTC | #444625

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 30 by Richard Dawkins

Sorry, I didn't notice this was old when I asked Mike to post it. The reason it was brought to my attention is that a leader-writer for one of Britain's main newspapers yesterday told me that David Cameron is being influenced by Philip Blond, the senior author of this dopey article, and the leader-writer asked for my comments on Blond's view of evolution. I was pretty scathing, as you can imagine, partly over the idea that there is anything new in Conway Morris's emphasis on convergence, partly over the idea that it has any theological significance. But mostly I was scathing over this:

Nor is natural selection now thought to be the main driver of biological change. Rather, life displays certain inherency, such that the beings that come about are a product of their own integral insistence.
What on earth is that supposed to mean? Do Blond and Pabst seriously think it means ANYTHING? "Certain inherency?" "Integral insistence"? There, in a nutshell, you have the theological mind, in all its glory.


Sat, 27 Feb 2010 21:09:00 UTC | #444671