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← Leading bishop hits out at Dawkins for reducing ‘faith into ignorance’

Leading bishop hits out at Dawkins for reducing ‘faith into ignorance’ - Comments

epeeist's Avatar Comment 1 by epeeist

Two words - special pleading.

I am sure the bishop is fine dismissing the god Tull or the sneezing giant (unless he is the type that claims equal validity for all views), but as soon as it comes to Abrahamic myths then one must treat them with respect as true accounts (even if they are only true in a metaphorical way).

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:26:23 UTC | #866842

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 2 by aquilacane

But his dismissal of some of the miracles held as sacrosanct by many believers as no better than fairy tales will nevertheless anger many religious leaders.

It will not bring them out into the streets waving bags of evidence or make them stop and reconsider what they think they know as true but it will make them angry.

This would be anger from arrogance

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:38:31 UTC | #866846

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 3 by aquilacane

with his [Dawkins'] dismissal of any who do not regard evolution as a complete explanation of existence.

I don't think Richard proclaims evolution as a complete explanation of our existence.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:40:25 UTC | #866847

AlexP's Avatar Comment 4 by AlexP

“It is such a shame that the sense of awe, wonder, and indeed mystery, that he opens up so jars with his dismissal of any who do not regard evolution as a complete explanation of existence. Professor Dawkins invariably collapses myth into falsehood and faith into ignorance. For many of us, including large numbers of scientists, the magic of reality not only inspires wonder but worship.”

It was never my impression that Professor Dawkins considers the theory of evolution as the "complete explanation of existence".

As the best answer we have to the question of how complex life can evolve from simple beginnings, yes, but certainly not as a "complete explanation".

"Complete explanations" are for the lazy, who aren't interested in answers but rather in an excuse to stop having to question and think.

And, frankly, spotting and dismissing nonsense is a vital part about truth, learning and even the "sense of awe, wonder and indeed mystery". After all, how can you appreciate the stunning beauty and awe-inspiring complexity of our universe, when you see every fairy-tale and ghost story on an equal level with it?

It's like a competition without anyone bothering to spot and disqualify cheaters and frauds. How can you appreciate ( and reward ) the true talents when their achievements are buried in a huge pile of rubbish?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:45:34 UTC | #866849

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 5 by Ignorant Amos

In his new book, The Magic of Reality, Richard Dawkins avoids the ranting tone that did so much to offend faith communities in his atheist polemic The God Delusion.

WTF is this all about?.....What ranting tone? Have nay of these so called journalists that make the "shrill and strident", now it's feckin' "ranting", ever even read TGD?

Comment 1 by epeeist

Two words - special pleading.

It is getting beyond a joke. I live in a town in N.I. called Carrickfergus, on any given Sunday the road trafic laws are suspended to allow the fucking religious cretins to park cars on double yellow lines, on the footpath or any piece of private real estate closest to the church doors....there are huge carparks not 200m away and the police response to a complaint? It's an unwritten understanding that has carried on since cars were on the roads. Now I hear that the same dispensation is happening at a South Belfast mosque during Friday prayers..one law for one, another law for others, it grips my shit, honestly, it really does.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:48:13 UTC | #866850

mmurray's Avatar Comment 6 by mmurray

I'm a little confused. Is it the Bishop of Swindon complaining or Ruth Gledhill ? Do either of them actually believe in Mohammed ascending to heaven on a horse or are they just defending the rights of others to believe in miracles ?

Michael

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:48:53 UTC | #866851

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 7 by Cartomancer

Professor Dawkins invariably collapses myth into falsehood and faith into ignorance.

I would expect no better from a CofE bishop - substanceless, weak-tea apologetics is pretty much a part of the job description - but what Richard is actually doing, it seems to me, is not "collapsing" myth into falsehood, but rather pointing out that there is an irreducible element of falsehood in almost every myth going. I have not read The Magic of Reality, but going by Richard's earlier work (I note the "ranting tone" bit the editor felt compelled to slip in, but I'll ignore that for now) he seems fully cognizant of what else it takes to make a myth into a myth rather than a simple lie or untrue statement. The problem is not myth, it's treating myth as something other than myth. Myth is fine as metaphor or entertainment or cultural semiotics, and can be very interesting to anthropologists, psychologists and historians in a way that simple lying isn't. What myth is not is a short-cut to the truth of a matter.

Faith, on the other hand, has no such redeeming qualities. It is nothing more or less than believing without evidence, which is always a terrible thing to do as far as approaching the truth goes. In purely personal matters there is perhaps little harm in a bit of wishful thinking, but in the sphere of public understanding it has no place at all.

For many of us, including large numbers of scientists, the magic of reality not only inspires wonder but worship.”

Perhaps so, but that too is easily explicable in terms of the misfiring of evolved psychological mechanisms. Just because you feel compelled to worship doesn't mean that it is a sensible or productive thing to do. I wonder whether Mr. Rayfield, in his medical work, followed up uncritically on every urge and conviction his patients had about their own condition, just because it was an authentic emotional response? For their sake I sincerely hope not.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:51:52 UTC | #866854

Armydude's Avatar Comment 8 by Armydude

Spot the very potential oxymoron ...The Magic of Reality....:

I found this part particularly funny: “It is such a shame that the sense of awe, wonder, and indeed mystery, that he opens up so jars with his dismissal of any who do not regard evolution as a complete explanation of existence."

"Spinoza does not believe that worshipful awe or reverence is an appropriate attitude to take before God or Nature. There is nothing holy or sacred about Nature, and it is certainly not the object of a religious experience. Instead, one should strive to understand God or Nature, with the kind of adequate or clear and distinct intellectual knowledge that reveals Nature's most important truths and shows how everything depends essentially and existentially on higher natural causes. The key to discovering and experiencing God, for Spinoza, is philosophy and science, not religious awe and worshipful submission. The latter give rise only to superstitious behavior and subservience to ecclesiastic authorities; the former leads to enlightenment, freedom and true blessedness (i.e., peace of mind)."(http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/#Oth)

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:54:15 UTC | #866856

Danish's Avatar Comment 9 by Danish

This article is an excellent recommendation of Dawkins' new book. Now I have to buy it even though I'm not a child. :)

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:55:38 UTC | #866857

mmurray's Avatar Comment 10 by mmurray

Comment 5 by Ignorant Amos :

It is getting beyond a joke. I live in a town in N.I. called Carrickfergus, on any given Sunday the road trafic laws are suspended to allow the fucking religious cretins to park cars on double yellow lines, on the footpath or any piece of private real estate closest to the church doors....there are huge carparks not 200m away and the police response to a complaint? It's an unwritten understanding that has carried on since cars were on the roads. Now I hear that the same dispensation is happening at a South Belfast mosque during Friday prayers..one law for one, another law for others, it grips my shit, honestly, it really does.

Don't you remember your Genesis ?

"And on the seventh day the Lord rested his chariot on a double yellow line".

Seriously you could park your car on a double yellow line and protest the fine in court saying that you were worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster. When you lose you appeal to the European Court on the grounds of that guy getting his passport photo with FSM headgear being a recognition of FSM as a religion.

You might want a bit of spare cash for this caper!

Michael

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:56:29 UTC | #866858

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 11 by hemidemisemigod

The Bish: "For many of us, including large numbers of scientists, the magic of reality not only inspires wonder but worship.”

I find mankind's unmanned exploration of the solar system magical and wondrous but I don't feel moved to worship NASA, ESA or ROSCOSMOS.

(Ps. Rowan Atkinson did a good routine about the miracle of water into wine.)

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:57:56 UTC | #866860

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

In his comments in the book, particularly in the last chapter on miracles, Professor Dawkins makes his contempt clear. Referring to Christianity as merely one among hundreds of religions around the world, he says: “To take just one example, there is a legend that, about 2,000 years ago, a wandering Jewish preacher called Jesus was at a wedding where they ran out of wine. So he called for some water and used miraculous powers to turn it into wine - very good wine, as the story goes on to tell us.”

Hey! the landlord at the local pub works miracles! He has water from the tap and it goes through the mixer tap on the bar, where measures of concentrate are added to make delicious drinks. Sometimes he adds some spirits to the glass! Another miracle! Perhaps some hick goat-herders could take the story away and tell it to their grandchildren!

He metes out similar treatment towards biblical stories such as the creation, Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah and the Tower of Babel. The story of the walls of Jericho is dismissed as one of countless “earthquake myths”, such as the belief by some Siberian tribes that the earth sits on a sledge, pulled by a god called Tull, who causes an earthquake whenever he scratches his fleas, or by some West African tribes that they live on a giant’s head who causes an earthquake whenever he sneezes.

I wonder why facts would be stated and myths questioned? - or why anyone should find factual statements unusual or questionable?!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:59:39 UTC | #866861

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 13 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 10 by mmurray

You might want a bit of spare cash for this caper!

Michael, that's the only thing keeping me from making a nuisance of myself. I could stretch to a printed Tee Shirt mind you.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:04:41 UTC | #866865

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 14 by Paula Kirby

Having read the bishop's objections, I can't see that they amount to more than 'But lots of us still believe this stuff! And we don't like it when people like Richard Dawkins go round telling us that the moon isn't really made of cheese! We like cheese!'

My response is a great big 'So what?' Just why should Richard (or anyone else) be obliged to write books that reflect believers' views, rather than his own?

It seems to me that if the well known 'new atheist' writers had adopted nothing more than the equivalent approach - 'But lots of us don't believe this religious stuff and it makes us unhappy when we hear it' - then the movement would have fizzled out before it had begun, and certainly would never have reached the point where the Archbishop of Canterbury had to commission reports on how to deal with it.

Perhaps the CofE leadership should take a leaf out of the new atheist book, and start actually making real arguments in support of the truth of their beliefs, rather than just wailing and saying 'But it's not fair'. Just a thought.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:31:15 UTC | #866876

BigPhut's Avatar Comment 15 by BigPhut

Professor Dawkins invariably collapses myth into falsehood and faith into ignorance.

The bishop doesn't offer any explanation for why this is a bad thing. Those words are practically synonyms

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:34:07 UTC | #866877

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 16 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 14 by Paula Kirby

Having read the bishop's objections, I can't see that they amount to more than 'But lots of us still believe this stuff! And we don't like it when people like Richard Dawkins go round telling us that the moon isn't really made of cheese! We like cheese!'

I was just saying the same thing to my other half. So what, it's hard cheese

Boo Hoo...why are ya picking on my talking snake, flying horse, magic undergarments, Muspelheim and Niflheim, Ramayana and the Mahabharata, et al ad infinitum woo woo balderdash? I'll tell ya why, because it needs somebody to do it ya cretins and the best place to begin is with the child's brain before the mind rot sets in and it's too late.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:50:50 UTC | #866881

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 17 by strangebrew

They get extremely hissy, flouncy, and pouty when their cockamamie insanity is held up to the light of reality...almost as if they were ashamed of it, but to egotistical to admit a gross error of judgment.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:54:47 UTC | #866884

some asshole's Avatar Comment 18 by some asshole

And yet this same type of tiresome imbecile will happily cite personal experiences that have "proved" the Christian god's existence to them, leading them headlong into a ridiculous belief that all us silly, unlucky nonbelievers will be punished forever for holding a different opinion. They never seem to get around to explaining why we haven't had the benefit of such an experience, do they? Some of these scumbags claim to have become Christian because of a personal proof that appeared to them, yet most of us are never exposed to such an experience. Imagine--if you can--the phenomenal stupidity and arrogance this entails. I cannot get my head around it.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:08:30 UTC | #866889

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

Comment 14 by Paula Kirby

Perhaps the CofE leadership should take a leaf out of the new atheist book, and start actually making real arguments in support of the truth of their beliefs, rather than just wailing and saying 'But it's not fair'. Just a thought.

As supporters of truth, I really think we should help them. May I suggest that if anyone has any experiences of resurrection, wine production from water, spontaneous bread and fish multiplication, water-walking and ascension, that they post here? Perhaps we should start a national campaign to assist the CofE with their search for truth.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:08:31 UTC | #866890

achromat666's Avatar Comment 20 by achromat666

I'm confused, is the position that Dawkins is not allowed to express his view, which is based on the working of the natural world, or is that religions are hurt by the implication that people feel their position is silly? Or a combination of both?

It wouldn't matter if it were Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, or any of the other noted atheists that write on this subject, if the point of view is that religion has some questionable and in many cases ridiculous claims, why wouldn't they posit that as their viewpoint? All of this is now going back to just being about people taking their position seriously. And unless we have reason to do that, what we see is going to continue to be the outcome.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:11:50 UTC | #866892

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 21 by quarecuss

Comment 9 by Danish

This article is an excellent recommendation of Dawkins' new book. Now I have to buy it even though I'm not a child. :)

The Bishop's Blurb. I'm sure RD will be happy with it.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:16:30 UTC | #866896

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 22 by Barry Pearson

"And on the seventh day the Lord rested his chariot on a double yellow line".

Cue the old jokes:

What do God and Jesus drive?

(Remember: Jesus was a car painter).

God drove a Plymouth: "And He drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in His Fury."

Moses liked British cars (or bikes?): "The roar of Moses' Triumph was heard throughout the hills." Joshua did likewise: "Joshua's Triumph was heard throughout the land."

Jesus drove a Honda but didn't brag about it, because in his own words: "I did not speak of my own Accord."

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:32:02 UTC | #866904

achromat666's Avatar Comment 23 by achromat666

Comment 22:

cue rimshot

ZING!!!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:34:36 UTC | #866905

Bloom's Avatar Comment 24 by Bloom

I was thinking the same thing :)

Comment 9 by Danish :

This article is an excellent recommendation of Dawkins' new book. Now I have to buy it even though I'm not a child. :)

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:42:28 UTC | #866909

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 25 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 22 by Barry Pearson

God is a jock....if ya go by the football team he supports......"The Queen of the South will stand up at the time of judgment with you."

It's okay, I'm getting my coat.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:44:16 UTC | #866910

labman's Avatar Comment 26 by labman

It may be time to take the gloves off with the "faithful". Most of us recognise the inherent mythology of the Abrahamic religions. The ideas of Earl Doherty,and the DVD "The God that Wasn t There" have brought the myths to light more recently, however the writings of Acharya S (pen name of D.M. Murdoch), especially in her book "Suns of God" are extremely convincing. A highly detailed and well researched treatise on the origins of Christianity, arising from the extensions of earlier religious myths based on the worship of the Sun gods for at least thirty thousand years. The contiuum travels back through the gods of the Hebrews, Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians (particularly Horus and Ra), Persians (Mithras), to the gods of India (Vishnu and Krishna) and Bhudda. The parallels are extremely convincing - from virgin births, annual religious dates from the solar equinoxes, to crucifixions. The outcome is a feeling that the modern church is a house of cards. I think we should publicise these ideas more.

-Jesus Christ: the last of the Sun gods.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:51:26 UTC | #866912

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 27 by Jos Gibbons

The criticism is significant because the bishop is a leading scientist

Why are any man's scientific qualifications relevant to the significance of the view he takes on the nature of religion? You can't discover ways religion isn't ignorant by working in medicine, as it isn't medically informative.

Dawkins avoids the ranting tone that did so much to offend faith communities in his atheist polemic The God Delusion.

I won't debate a subjective view on “tone” or whether a book was a “rant”. But who are these “faith communities” TGD offended? I only ever heard criticisms of it from individual religious people, and they do not speak for any “faith community” of which they may be a member, however much they think they do (and many don't anyway). They're not elected and the communities were never polled.

his dismissal of some of the miracles held as sacrosanct by many believers as no better than fairy tales will nevertheless anger many religious leaders.

So?

Rayfield told The Times: “It is such a shame that the sense of awe, wonder, and indeed mystery, that he opens up so jars with his dismissal of any who do not regard evolution as a complete explanation of existence. Professor Dawkins invariably collapses myth into falsehood and faith into ignorance. For many of us, including large numbers of scientists, the magic of reality not only inspires wonder but worship.”

Translation: although myths being false and faith being ignorant follow from dictionary definitions, it mustn't be said, and scientific knowledge ought to lead you to be sycophantic towards an invisible universe-maker.

Dawkins makes his contempt clear.

“Book on truth has contempt for claims about truth no-one can prove true.” No; the claims show a contempt for the truth.

the 1917 miracle of Fatima, recognised as legitimate by the Vatican

That doesn't MAKE it legitimate.

a 10-year-old girl in Portugal and her two cousins claimed to have seen a vision on a hill

THAT'S the basis for a claimed violation of physical laws?

If subsequent events involving the sun had occurred as claimed

Has a bit of the article been cut out where the subject changes to a different claimed miracle?

The story of the walls of Jericho is dismissed as one of countless “earthquake myths”, such as

Am I the only one who thinks to NOT take that view would amount to racism regarding who is good at getting theology right?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:07:21 UTC | #866916

GPWC's Avatar Comment 28 by GPWC

It's hard work for the science community - they have to come up with bullet proof "theories" just to have them critiqued by non-scientists, the clergy and other religoons with their simply answer - "God done it".

The other day, my religious brother in law said this about evolution, in so many words:

"I know what you are saying seems right, but I also know God exists and therefore everything in the Bible is true, so some day, God will explain all this disconnect and everything will work out".

There's little we can do about my brother in law or the Bish here except make them feel uncomfotable. But we must be making a difference on the generation coming through ... aren't we?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:11:59 UTC | #866920

mmsood99's Avatar Comment 29 by mmsood99

“It is such a shame that the sense of awe, wonder, and indeed mystery, that he opens up so jars with his dismissal of any who do not regard evolution as a complete explanation of existence.

This drives me crazy! Evolution does not purport to explain the origin of life. It explains the origin of species. There are theories as to how it all started, but "evolution" explains the progression of species. This is typical misreresentation of the theory to discredit it.

We must keep up the pressure to discredit these myth-pushers.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 16:31:02 UTC | #866937

Adam Sedgwick's Avatar Comment 30 by Adam Sedgwick

This is like reading the mirror image of a creationist discussion group - equally irrational

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 19:02:00 UTC | #866960