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Richard Dawkins, the Protestant atheist - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

What piffle!! Protestant atheism?!?!

How do these people get their cognitive processes so convoluted? What difference ignorance of any theology? The emperor has no clothes, so why make a fashion statement on those clothes?

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:23:35 UTC | #589455

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 2 by Richard Dawkins

It is not for me to say whether I succeed, but when I write it is my earnest, burning intention to be understood. I really really want my meaning to be clear so that, even if I am wrong, it will be clear where I am wrong. With the best will in the world, I cannot see any way to read Mr Jackson's words as signifying anything remotely close to a sincere desire to be understood. This is obscurantism personified: wilful, pernicious, active desire to obscure and cloud meaning. I now wonder whether, perhaps, that is what Catholic theology is all about. In which case, I cannot but despise it even more than I did before. Jackson says that my understanding of Catholic theology is nil. I would be more worried about that but for my suspicion that Catholic theology's desire to be understood is nil.

Richard

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:28:58 UTC | #589458

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Comment 3 by SourTomatoSand

I do so love how contributors such as this one claim to know exactly how historical figures who are dead (and therefore cannot provide a rebuttal) thought, apparently feeling no need to provide reference.

And then there's this:

The intelligibility of God is so bright, according to the great Catholic mystics, it overwhelms our minds with darkness, and can only be penetrated by the will. Science is beginning to suggest that reality might perhaps be like that. Quantum physics is bewilderingly irrationally rational.

What? This could possibly be a somewhat valid argument if not for the fact that the Bible, and Catholic theology in general, is full of factual claims about the nature of God and the universe. Then again, if they weren't, his argument would essentially be "everything that science finds is God," which rather defeats the point of religion in general.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:29:30 UTC | #589459

theOperative's Avatar Comment 4 by theOperative

Yet another ad hominem dressed up as philosophizing ...

"My problem with Richard Dawkins is .. that he's a Protestant atheist .. Dawkins's understanding of Catholic theology seems to be nil .. Dark matter? Non-locality? An infinity of universes? In my experience contemplative prayer delivers" ..

Delivers what, please don't bother answering ..

"I love Dawkins .. But he's wrong about religion"

And what exactly are you right about?

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:29:37 UTC | #589460

fossil-fish's Avatar Comment 5 by fossil-fish

I think that was bullshit, but I have to be clear that I only think that it was bullshit. I really did not understand one single word of it even though I am born, raised and lived half a century in Northern Ireland where we might have a bit of an insight into the differences between the catholic and protestant faiths. Goobledegook to me.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:30:33 UTC | #589461

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 6 by rrh1306

I guess the Guardian should just go ahead and make a permanent "Richard Dawkins is wrong" section for their paper.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:30:39 UTC | #589462

Reginald's Avatar Comment 7 by Reginald

The article patronises Dawkins, ("poor old Richard"); a common theist tactic. For all its pseudo-erudition it cannot get around the fact that thanks to Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas, superstition has delayed scientific understanding for the past two millennia, thanks to the Catholic and Protestant slavish worship of these three characters.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:33:02 UTC | #589464

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 8 by rrh1306

Thats a great point.

Comment 7 by Reginald :

The article patronises Dawkins, ("poor old Richard"); a common theist tactic. For all its pseudo-erudition it cannot get around the fact that thanks to Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas, superstition has delayed scientific understanding for the past two millennia, thanks to the Catholic and Protestant slavish worship of these three characters.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:39:51 UTC | #589472

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 9 by rrh1306

I hate to break it this guy but every Atheist has heard the "god is the whole of the universe" philosophy before. And the first cause argument. And the "god is so amazing we can't explain him either" idea. All that stuff is old hat.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:49:32 UTC | #589477

ajs261's Avatar Comment 10 by ajs261

This is obscurantism personified

I think that's how religions work in general. I think a lot of people learn that when someone dresses their writing up with sophistry or ambiguous waffle, they really have not got anything to say. Theology in a nut-shell.

It is telling that you can explain the basics of a scientific theory (such as evolution) in a sentence or two. You can get the point across very quickly. To get any sort of religious point across it seems to take a mountain of obscure and rambling arguments. After the first paragraph I simply couldn't be bothered to read any more.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:50:51 UTC | #589478

danconquer's Avatar Comment 11 by danconquer

The digested, simplified version:

"Ah, those great scientists of the middle ages! And none of them a declared atheist! So it's obvious really! Nothing to do with the fact that to have openly said so at the time would probably have meant torture and execution. Science is, therefore, a jolly religious pursuit! Because I'm a Christian I'm going to talk only in ridiculously narrow Catholic/Protestant terms, thus ignoring the great Greek, Roman, Indian and Chinese scientific histories from which we can obviously learn nothing. Oh but those philosphers and theologians, yes, now we're talking! Aristotle! Plato! Buridan!... err... Aquinas!... err... Bacon!... err... Obfuscation! And seeing as this is The Guardian, some gratuitous Italiano! Si! Diologo! Discorsi! Double Espresso! Need I say more? You don't see Professor Dawkins talk like this. It must be because - I've got it! - he's a protestant. Obvious really."

Sorry, but I really thought it was trying too hard. Needlessly overblown and pretentious. Sometimes when people know their argument is weak they will try to hide behind a self-aggrandising pseudy prose and that's what it felt like to me.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:56:36 UTC | #589485

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 12 by Paula Kirby

Aha! That Dawkins! He insists the moon is made of rock, but he's basing his acheesist arguments on the claims of the Cheddarites. No wonder he's not convinced! If only he'd take us Stiltonists seriously, he'd be forced to admit the error of his ways.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:57:49 UTC | #589486

kraut's Avatar Comment 13 by kraut

"The intelligibility of God is so bright, according to the great Catholic mystics, it overwhelms our minds with darkness, and can only be penetrated by the will"

The name utter piffle comes to mind. But definitely not to that of some catholic ideological infested one like the writer of such.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:09:49 UTC | #589494

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 14 by Stafford Gordon

Time for "Doctor" Ian Paisley to chip in perhaps?

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:15:53 UTC | #589502

CarlaTrumper's Avatar Comment 15 by CarlaTrumper

Hmm. I don't know who this Mr. Jackson is, but he has no merit in this article. Maybe I am slow,(from the US) but what exactly is a "Protestant Atheist"? An Anti theist with Protestant tendencies? So many labels.

Professor Dawkins, I think you succeed in bringing your point to an understandable level. I would take your "understanding of Catholic theology is nil" as a compliment because "nil" is the amount of information I received from reading it.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:23:18 UTC | #589508

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 16 by mirandaceleste

Such willfully obscurant and dishonest nonsense. And boring, too. Very, very boring.

And good lord, I wish that my understanding of Catholic theology was "nil". But, alas, it's not. So, when I read this sentence:

The intelligibility of God is so bright, according to the great Catholic mystics, it overwhelms our minds with darkness, and can only be penetrated by the will.

I literally laughed out loud, because:

1) What?

2) Seriously, what??

3) Although I don't know exactly what he's getting at here, I can discern enough to assert that this is nothing like what I was taught during twelve years of Catholic schooling (including many doctrine, scripture, and theology classes) and eighteen years of mass, etc. In my experience, an "average" Catholic (i.e. not a Jesuit theologian) either has never heard of "the great Catholic mystics" or knows of them and thinks they are crazy.

Thus, Jackson is being both intentionally confusing and purposely dishonest. He certainly knows, for example, that, when looking for guidance, Catholics turn to the Pope, the Bible, and official Church doctrine, not the "great Catholic mystics". This misrepresentation is his attempt to wiggle his way out of taking responsibility for the actual damage caused by the actual Catholic Church. It's one thing for him to live in the mystical magical unknowable ineffable bright-sparkly-God version of Catholicism that he's invented, but it's quite another to pretend that his magical ineffable sparkly Catholicism has anything to do with Catholicism as it is actually taught and practiced.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:24:45 UTC | #589512

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 17 by DamnDirtyApe

Ah, the (presumably) Catholic Thomas Jackson has found something worse than an atheist - a protestant atheist!

I suppose only a jewish or muslim atheist would be worst still? What a deeply unpleasant man.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:29:20 UTC | #589516

Richie P's Avatar Comment 18 by Richie P

No. Didn't really understand a word of that.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:29:37 UTC | #589517

deek999's Avatar Comment 19 by deek999

Comment 2 by Richard Dawkins :

This is obscurantism personified: wilful, pernicious, active desire to obscure and cloud meaning. I now wonder whether, perhaps, that is what Catholic theology is all about...

No need to wonder Richard, you are absolutely right. The whole purpose of theology (of any flavour) is to camouflage banality and truism with fancy patterns. At heart it is just some version of the Golden Rule but the clergy make it shinier and more complicated just to make sheep feel they are getting their money's worth and so willing to leave power in the hands of those that covet it most.

This article? tish and fipsy of the highest order.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:30:09 UTC | #589518

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 20 by xmaseveeve

'The intelligibility of God is so bright, according to the great Catholic mystics, it overwhelms our minds with darkness, and can only be penetrated by the will.'

Is that the get-out clause for priests raping children?

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:30:49 UTC | #589519

RationalistOne's Avatar Comment 21 by RationalistOne

Wow. Does reading that ever make me glad I'm an ex-Catholic.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:32:35 UTC | #589520

Stella's Avatar Comment 22 by Stella

What Miranda Celeste said.

Also: tosh. Utter tosh.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:34:25 UTC | #589522

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

Stop that science at once! It's not the right kind of science. Science has to be understood in the correct way, otherwise it leads humankind into true darkness, and that will never do.

You foolishly think that science is about reality, but it never was. It's a sacrament, a ritual, a formal dance that celebrates the organic nature of god. We reject any artificial god, with the E-numbers of Luther. Our god is organic, not genetically modified by Dawkins.

Science isn't about light, it looks into the dark, a darkness filled with Platonic balls and imaginary pendulums. The world is quantum-weird, stranger than we can imagine. You know God? Well he's weird too, and a bit dark as well, I think. So isn't it a hoot that science is weird? Gotta be more than just chance, I say.

Dawkins is wrong about prayer. It doesn't work, you see. It's only about contemplation; it's personal. All that saint-making is just a big joke. Who said that God doesn't enjoy a laugh? In the dark we see science reveal the true Platonic joke.

This may seem confusing to some, but the message is clear: Dawkins is a good bloke, we didn't mean to bugger the choirboys, so keep filling the collection plates, and stay away from queers.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:35:58 UTC | #589526

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 24 by Nunbeliever

I have to say I find it quite amusing that he pretends to know what people living centuries ago was thinking in exact detail... but, nevermind. That is all quite trivial in the end. What Thomas Jackson tries to say is the following:

He thinks that religion teaches that God constructed the world like a watch, science has shown it is able to construct itself, therefore there is no God.

I am a bit confused here. Does Thomas Jackson admit that we do not need a god in order to explain the universe??? If that is so, then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to add a god into the equation in first place! But, ah! He goes on about quantum physics.

Poor old Richard thinks that prayer means asking God to suspend the laws of the universe to stop it raining on the day of the church fete. I love Dawkins.

Ok, since he seems to know what people living centuries ago was thinking I guess reading the mind of a person alive is piece of cake for Thomas Jackson! But, I would be far more impressed if he actually could explain how prayers work within the realms of the physical universe. Come on Jackson! Give it a shot! You see, you can't have it both ways. Either god is supernatural or not! He can't be kind of a part of the universe but still able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants without breaking the laws of nature... because he IS a part of nature. Please Jackson! Just because you can form a sentence with the necessary grammatical parts in order to make it a full sentence does not mean it is sensible or even remotely coherent...

To sum up what Thomas Jackson is saying! God is the universe although he also created it, hence he created himself while being the universe which is not entirely himself but the universe is entirely made up of god. Whatever observations you make, whatever experiments you make you will find god. Because god is everything and everything is god. Hahaha, those stupid atheist! How naive they are demanding a coherent and even remotely sensible definition of god! Haha! They actually demand evidence instead of old myths! Who the heck do they think they are! They are great! (although I labelled them idiots earlier. I guess they are great idiots then).

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:39:14 UTC | #589531

Matt B's Avatar Comment 25 by Matt B

Are these people writing to express their true feelings and concerns? Perhaps, but it is more likely that it's their job to write stuff. And the more attention it gets, the better their "job performance."

These leeches are sucking off the fame and success of Professor Dawkins. Whether the Professor is right or wrong (and I doubt he's wrong about most things), at least he is trying to contribute something to humanity. These bottom-dwellers should at least be putting their energy into encouraging this magnanimous behavior, but hey, I guess that's no fun for these cretins.

Most of the people who post here could easily do the same kind of thing - turn off the moral compass and write empty-worded articles attacking someone famous who speaks out against something popular (i.e. religion), but most of us are better than that.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:40:39 UTC | #589532

Basees's Avatar Comment 26 by Basees

"Richard Dawkins, the Protestant atheist"

By that token, I'm a Muslim atheist. Yet I share Richard's opinion, sentiment, attitude and disgust towards catholism and religions generally. So I guess the centre point of Mr Jackson's article, in fact his whole article, is totally irrelevant.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:43:01 UTC | #589535

Sample's Avatar Comment 27 by Sample

Comment 13 by kraut

"The intelligibility of God is so bright, according to the great Catholic mystics, it overwhelms our minds with darkness, and can only be penetrated by the will"

Yes, I too read that exact sentence quite a few times trying to discern something meaningful. Most of the article is foggy and impenetrable. So much so, I halfway enjoyed the anticipation of the challenge of trying to re-read it because surely, the payoff (understanding) would be worth my time. Well, I was fooled. Grrrr.

I'm curious if Thomas Jackson's peers are all "high-fiving" themselves after reading this or like most of here, think the writer didn't take enough time and effort to communicate better.

Mike

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:45:48 UTC | #589538

lackofgravitas's Avatar Comment 28 by lackofgravitas

I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned how insulting his position is. To assert that we understand nothing of god because we haven't studies ancient theological discourses hard enough smacks to me of the rantings of insipid priests trying to hold on to power.

Let's face it, you can have a PhD in Theology, but all you actually have is a collection of other (usually dead) people's opinions. Opinions, not facts.

And yet, a four year old grasping the concept of Newton's Laws of Motion by watching a bouncing ball has surpassed them in a moment. That's science that is. It's observable everywhere.

Actually, I'm surprised the rcc hasn't tried to go back to a latin mass, just to obscure the idiocy further.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:45:51 UTC | #589539

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 29 by DamnDirtyApe

Comment 26 by Basees

... Plus it probably means he holds you in as much disdain as a protestant atheist, if not more so.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:47:21 UTC | #589540

mjwemdee's Avatar Comment 30 by mjwemdee

From Paragraph 2 onwards, I was lost.

I did try, really I did.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 19:48:29 UTC | #589542