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Bulletins from the Dublin Atheist Conference - Comments

Ranting Socrates's Avatar Comment 1 by Ranting Socrates

PZ was right, you did rip him a new one. Maybe now he will learn; but I doubt it.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 05:44:57 UTC | #633867

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 2 by Michael Austin

I think that Richard should stick to the word 'Designoid' which he coined. Saying 'illusion of design' and 'looks for all the world as though it were designed' is just going to get you quote-mind, and you'll face more and more people who haven't actually read the books, but base their arguments on out-of-context quotes. Like those people who still think that Einstein was a Christian, because he used metaphorical language that was easily quote-mined.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 05:54:04 UTC | #633870

Achamian's Avatar Comment 3 by Achamian

I love how Richard hammered home the point that scientists aren't authority figures to be blindly trusted and that it's the scientific method which allows us to reach truth. This is a very important distinction from religion. While scientists' opinions carry some weight, it's the evidence, predictive capacity, and self-correction of science that distinguishes it from arguments from authority. I think this is such an important point: scientists are shown to be wrong all the time, but instead of damaging science, this actually strengthens it. The same cannot be said for dogma.

Oh, how wonderful clear thinking is...

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 06:31:49 UTC | #633875

Mr. Superfluous's Avatar Comment 4 by Mr. Superfluous

How can he even have a problem with chance? This is the witch's cauldron calling the kettle black. There's nothing more left to chance than the possibility of eternal salvation or damnation itself in the biblical or koranic world view. God plays favorites and tells secrets, revealing his existence and his will to some while leaving the rest of the world to ignorance and confusion which he then condemns them for. In the bible, god kills countless people for ultimately nothing more than having the cosmic misfortune of being born outside his favorite desert tribe. For simply not being born a descendant of ancestor he favored. Islam and Christianity condemn billions of non-muslims or non-christians for basically the same reason today. Being born into the wrong family that prefers the wrong holy book or who attend the wrong church/mosque with the wrong interpretation of it. It's ridiculous. Don't like chance? Then ditch theism.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 07:11:30 UTC | #633885

alevel18's Avatar Comment 5 by alevel18

I must say, in all honesty, the question was poorly worded.

For those of you interested, the documentary Richard was referring to was part of the a Channel4 Documentaries called Faith Schools Menace? You can find it online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzJv-5yWx2g jump to around 19:30 for the Muslim part.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 07:38:04 UTC | #633892

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

The obstinate refusal by some to accept the evidence for evolution or listen to those who's lifes work it's been to study it, is putting their own childen at a terrible and avoidable disadvantage.

That audience member said he was a student and wanted to learn, but he wasn't taking notice of what was being said, and was deliberately distorting it to suit his own religious beliefs.

A very clear example of the way religious faith disables and distorts the power of reasoning.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 08:06:11 UTC | #633894

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 7 by Vicktor

Why is Richard always on the receiving end of "difficult" questions from Muslims? Why doesn't he ever get the chance to ask them difficult questions about their religion? To get them thinking? Here's one I wish Richard would ask in public (preferably an authority-like figure like that Muslim council chairman he was talking about): "Can you explain to me why the daily prayers in Islam are compulsory rather than optional for believers? I'm asking because I would really like to learn more about your religion." Another one is: "Are Muslim parents encouraged to beat their children if they don't pray? If so, why?".

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 08:30:23 UTC | #633900

Tony d's Avatar Comment 8 by Tony d

There is a 5th column of fundamentalist fanatical Muslims in the UK.They have been invited in to Briton at a time when our nation was well on the way to outgrowing religion.The working class know it .The middle class are in denial of it.The upper class don't seem to care. I don't know if it's to late now to stop the rot.The media brook no decent anyone who doesn't run to grovel at the feet of mad Islamic thought is a racist. I say let the Muslims come let them worship but lets give them the benefit of what we learnt during the Enlightenment. Why should we, by not pointing out to them when they are being stupid or misguided about things like womens rights and intolerance of other points of view.Condemn them to live in a Europe that may well sink to the level of those Islamic country's around the world who, lets be honest are shit places to live when compared to more secular country's.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 08:35:25 UTC | #633902

Am I Evil?'s Avatar Comment 9 by Am I Evil?

[troll-feeding removed by moderator]

I also agree with #10 as well, if they're queueing up to ask these so-called 'difficult' questions, let's fire a few back at them.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:11:27 UTC | #633917

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention? That's pretty suspicious and intimidating.

The question is a standard question asked by Muslims, I've had it asked many times before, and I bet the questioner has asked this more than once, but since they believe, atheist answers simply do not sink in.

It really is not the atheist's job to educate them. In fact we often place ourselves psychologically into a serving role by seeking to 'help' them by doing so. I know it's Professor Dawkin's life work to educate, but atheist conventions should be about atheism.

I didn't think the Professor's reaction was a good one. If you are going to be an educator, then hostile shouting is probably not the way to do it. However, if it's about confronting Muslims on a moral and social level, then fine, say the question is stupid one, and laugh and move on. Although I find the presence of believers at an atheist convention highly rude in the first place, and asking questions even more so. But if they're there, then at least treat them as guests.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:14:52 UTC | #633918

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 11 by Vicktor

Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert

Scientists, especially today, are themselves partly to blame. They are so desperate to show that there is a sense of wonder to science that they use words like "perfectly", "designed" and "creation" more often than is necessary (some even use the word "god" - but they tell us it means something else). When Muslims like in the clip above hear, watch and read things like that, how do you expect them to respond? If only scientists would be a little more prosaic in their explanations, a little less desperate for approval and funding, and a little more daring in the mentioning of flaws (especially concerning nature), I think there would be fewer people like this for us to deal with.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:21:57 UTC | #633919

ajs261's Avatar Comment 12 by ajs261

Congratulations to the Irish politician! About time someone criticised the role of the Catholic Church in schools.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:24:58 UTC | #633921

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 13 by the great teapot

What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention?

My guess is enjoying themselves. What's wrong with that.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:27:01 UTC | #633923

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 14 by Vicktor

Comment 19 by the great teapot

What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention?

These are people who easily make the direct leap from "great Western scientists are unable to explain what caused the Big Bang" to "praying 5 times a day to Allah is compulsory"... and you're wondering what they are doing at an atheist convention?

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:29:59 UTC | #633925

Net's Avatar Comment 15 by Net

Comment 9 by Stafford Gordon :

That audience member said he was a student and wanted to learn, but he wasn't taking notice of what was being said, and was deliberately distorting it to suit his own religious beliefs.

Yes, I heard his claim to just being a student wanting to learn but I think he was just being disingenuous. And what his asking Dawkins to be honest was all about, I have no idea. Was he implying that Dawkins is a liar?

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:49:43 UTC | #633931

Net's Avatar Comment 16 by Net

Oh, yes, what is " #wac11", and why would muslims be hitting it hard?

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:52:45 UTC | #633932

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 17 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 17 by Vicktor :

Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert

Scientists, especially today, are themselves partly to blame. They are so desperate to show that there is a sense of wonder to science that they use words like "perfectly", "designed" and "creation" more often than is necessary (some even use the word "god" - but they tell us it means something else). When Muslims like in the clip above hear, watch and read things like that, how do you expect them to respond? If only scientists would be a little more prosaic in their explanations, a little less desperate for approval and funding, and a little more daring in the mentioning of flaws (especially concerning nature), I think there would be fewer people like this for us to deal with.

You make a good point about the over enthusiasm and sense of awe among scientists and scientific educators, but since it's their life, it's not surprising. While it might be their job to educate, it's not the job of atheists to educate. In fact, it conflicts with our new social and political goals for change and equality, to simply serve as educators for the whim of believers who ask questions. We are equals not servants.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 10:54:30 UTC | #633934

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 18 by Vicktor

Comment 24 by AtheistEgbert

You make a good point about the over enthusiasm and sense of awe among scientists and scientific educators, but since it's their life, it's not surprising.

If they are aware that what they say may be misleading to some (or many), I think it's also their job as science educators to make the effort to further clarify, so what they really mean comes across as correctly and as truthfully as possible.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 11:06:03 UTC | #633938

mmurray's Avatar Comment 19 by mmurray

Comment 23 by Net :

Oh, yes, what is " #wac11", and why would muslims be hitting it hard?

It's a hashtag used in twitter to sort tweets. If you tweet something about easter bunny and want it to be seen by others tweeting about easter bunny you put #easterbunny in the tweet. See twitter support. I assume wac = world athiest convention ?

Michael

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 11:06:57 UTC | #633939

Sucram's Avatar Comment 20 by Sucram

He got Rich-slapped.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 12:01:18 UTC | #633950

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 21 by Peter Grant

Nice one Prof! :D

How dare he indeed!

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 12:38:32 UTC | #633956

wcapehart's Avatar Comment 22 by wcapehart

Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert :

What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention?

Or from my church going days from my past life...

"Of all people, what's he/she doing here in church?"

"He's/She's exactly where he/she needs to be."

Hey, we might get a convert or two.

That's pretty suspicious and intimidating.

Given how he served that one guy on british tv over the apostasy question, yeah, that is pretty intimidating, for them.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 12:48:45 UTC | #633960

Bystander's Avatar Comment 23 by Bystander

Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert :

What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention? That's pretty suspicious and intimidating.

The question is a standard question asked by Muslims, I've had it asked many times before, and I bet the questioner has asked this more than once, but since they believe, atheist answers simply do not sink in.

It really is not the atheist's job to educate them. In fact we often place ourselves psychologically into a serving role by seeking to 'help' them by doing so. I know it's Professor Dawkin's life work to educate, but atheist conventions should be about atheism.

I didn't think the Professor's reaction was a good one. If you are going to be an educator, then hostile shouting is probably not the way to do it. However, if it's about confronting Muslims on a moral and social level, then fine, say the question is stupid one, and laugh and move on. Although I find the presence of believers at an atheist convention highly rude in the first place, and asking questions even more so. But if they're there, then at least treat them as guests.

"What are Muslims doing at an atheist convention? That's pretty suspicious and intimidating." It's open to the public? You're easily intimidated.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 13:13:45 UTC | #633967

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 24 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 31 by Bystander :

You're easily intimidated.

Try proclaiming your atheism in a Muslim country. Under Islam, you would be dead (unless you're not apostate or an infidel). The point of my post is that they're there for political reasons not to be educated or out of kindness.

(See also Muslims Proselytisers Plan To Attend Atheist Day in Ireland.)

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 13:39:22 UTC | #633975

Sara12's Avatar Comment 25 by Sara12

I don't know if I'd have yelled like that. Yelling tends to turn people off. I think I might have said something more like, 'well I don't know where you've gotten your erroneous information, but I've never described evolution as pure chance, but I'd like to know where you think I have so I can show you why that is wrong.' Then I would have gone on to answer the "honesty and evidence" question, as well as point out how many other times that had already been stated. I think I would also have added a bit about what it means for there to be evidence of something. That issue of evidence, what it means to have it and what it means to have standards for gathering it, is a point I think we need to be hammering home more. Theists like to use the word evidence without realizing that what they mean by "evidence" is so vague and wishy washy that it really doesn't mean anything; and that what science means by evidence, and statistical levels of certainty of evidence, is extremely rigorous and actually has substantive meaning.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 13:44:52 UTC | #633977

josephor's Avatar Comment 26 by josephor

Muslims are not there to learn or discuss anything, they are just asking the same old questions that the panel have answered countless times previously. A exercise in pure Islamic propaganda and distortions.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 13:57:43 UTC | #633980

JackR's Avatar Comment 27 by JackR

What is wrong with these people? Did this guy honestly think he was going to embarrass or stump Richard by suggesting he (RD) believed life evolves by chance? How many times has Richard corrected this error, both in print and in person? Did it not occur to this guy that it might be a good idea to do a bit of research about what Richard has actually said before challenging him? I mean, if I were going to question William Lane Craig at an event, I would go look at his precise words on the topic I planned to question him about. I wouldn't just read versions of it from an atheist board or whatever. I'd make sure I was tackling the source.

I suppose the answer is contained in the video clip, isn't it? The guy didn't even notice that - more than once - Richard mentioned the illusion of design. These people clearly just program certain ideas into their low-capacity heads and don't bother paying attention when those ideas are refuted or shown to be mistaken. They just keep spouting their preconceived ideas regardless of any corrections that come their way. They have learning difficulties, in a very literal sense.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 14:39:40 UTC | #633986

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 28 by quarecuss

Good to see atheism conference in Dublin and to have at least one senator coming out like this. The senate in Ireland is going through some major changes. Maybe it will abolish itself or go down the way the church seems to be doing there too!

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 15:36:20 UTC | #634000

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 29 by Carl Sai Baba

Comment 36 by JackR :

What is wrong with these people? Did this guy honestly think he was going to embarrass or stump Richard by suggesting he (RD) believed life evolves by chance?

Probably. These people are pretty far gone.

He doesn't understand that appearance of "design" as a form of evidence was fabricated by creationists. That's typical nut logic. Skip past a huge logical jump, and then argue fiercely for a position based on it. False dichotomy, straw man, etc. All ingredients for designing the perfect fool, and they seem to think that their arguments are solid.

Also, maybe you didn't mean to make Jerry Seinfeld's voice pop into my head when I read that first sentence, but I blame you for it anyway.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 15:39:52 UTC | #634003

Ranting Socrates's Avatar Comment 30 by Ranting Socrates

Comment 28 by Sucram :

He got Rich-slapped.

Sorry, It doesnt work-, stick to Hitchslap, and Hitchslap only. Thank you.

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 17:11:38 UTC | #634021