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‘Children are indoctrinated. I want to open their minds' - Comments

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 1 by QuestioningKat

70 and still going strong! Thanks for the inspiration. Great photo too!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:31:24 UTC | #866844

flyingwarm's Avatar Comment 2 by flyingwarm

i think so and you must know it dawkins we love and we support you im turkish :)

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:38:02 UTC | #866845

mjs31's Avatar Comment 3 by mjs31

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:24:08 UTC | #866874

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 4 by Ignorant Amos

....most stridently in his atheist bestseller The God Delusion (2006).

On this article too...WTF?

The Magic of Reality is chiefly of the explanatory type. But he isn’t only aiming to teach children about truths, he is also warning about lies.

I've a striking suspicion that a lot of adults would get much from reading this book that is aimed solely at the youth.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:29:18 UTC | #866875

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 5 by Barry Pearson

Comment 3 by mjs31 :

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

What is wrong with it? I wrote a letter to my MP about removing religious bias.

The reply included the statement "It is also interesting that in the United States, where there is a strict separation of the secular state system from religious education, church attendance and levels of faith and Christian commitment are actual [sic] higher. You should perhaps be careful what you wish for!"

Perhaps this view is wrong, but it isn't only Richard that holds it. So what is wrong with it?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:25:26 UTC | #866901

skiles1's Avatar Comment 6 by skiles1

Comment 3 by mjs31 :

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

I would've blamed American economic policies for creating a system in which big business can have such an influence on our every waking moments - I wouldn't have blamed secularism. I also suggest that the monarchy's position as head of CoE (by no mere coincidence) could be responsible for a UK Islamic population which is more violent than that of the US (which is otherwise a more violent country). So, I essentially would've made the opposite argument Professor Dawkins made.

It seems to me that although separation of church and state could frustrate some religious groups to the point of acting like businesses, even without a separation of church and state religious groups may still choose to act like businesses (and I dare say that in order to continue to compete for influence with actual businesses, a church may feel inclined to do so).

That is a nice photo of Richard, by the way.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:28:04 UTC | #866902

fuzzylogic's Avatar Comment 7 by fuzzylogic

Comment 3 by mjs31 :

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

This is a very common theory as to why America has become so religious, not something Richard made up. It seems to make a great deal of sense to me. What is your objection to it?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:31:12 UTC | #866903

Chris Boccia's Avatar Comment 8 by Chris Boccia

“Darwin was wrong when he said his mind had become a machine for grinding out theories from facts. That’s not how it works. You have the theories and then you test them. He had a brilliant idea — suggested by reading Malthus on how population leads to competition — and then he went and looked at the facts.”

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that you were supposed to look at the evidence and then make a theory that supports the evidence. If you do it backwards and just look for evidence that supports your theory, how are you preventing yourself from bias and from ignoring contradicting evidence? You should be looking at all the evidence first, and then you make a good theory that explains all of it.

Am I missing something, or did Richard make a mistake?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:35:34 UTC | #866906

danconquer's Avatar Comment 9 by danconquer

Comment 7 by fuzzylogic :

This is a very common theory as to why America has become so religious, not something Richard made up. It seems to make a great deal of sense to me. What is your objection to it?

I think it's because there are other equally - if not more - compelling reasons that help to explain the prowess of supernaturalist groups in the US.

Take for example welfare: There was a depressing article in Thursday's Financial Times which said that some 20% of the population of Las Vegas are now dependent on food handouts to survive. What was even more shocking though was that this essential lifeline was not being dispensed as would be in almost any other civilised European democracy (i.e through the state) but rather through some Bible-thumping evangelists.

It is not enough simply to have formal seperation in church and state to create such vacuums in which the religious can quickly expand in. It also requires a certain political/ideological fixation that revolves around excessive individualism, anti-government dogma, and highly skewed concepts of 'freedom' (this being a country that largely prohibits gay marriage and, as I discovered just last week, in the style of communist China requires one to scurry back and forth to their hotel in order to present a passport simply to purchase a train ticket).

It is perfectly possible to fully seperate church from state... And yet at the same time to embed the principle of a universal and secular curriculum. It is not the seperation of church and state that leaves education, healthcare and welfare in the US so vulnerable to monopolisation by supernaturalists. Indeed, Victorian Britain endured a similar situation. No, rather it is the result of allowing and encouraging a rampant free market approach that deems provision in every such critical arena in human life as matters of mere private 'charity'.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:00:58 UTC | #866913

danconquer's Avatar Comment 10 by danconquer

All of that said, in his interview, Richard said that seperation was only one explanation. He didn't say it was the main or sole one.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:03:13 UTC | #866914

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 11 by Peter Grant

Dawkins’ most evident personality trait — his certainty — derives from a belief that there is such a thing as “real truth” and that it may be discovered only through a scientific attitude.

Oh please, he simply recognises that scientific truths are way better than any of the so-called revealed "truths" we have encountered thus far. This tendency to exaggerate the supposed certainty of scientists, thereby comparing them to religious fundamentalists, is getting a bit tiresome.

[Moderators' note: This is the complete article. The original can be found here (paywall)]

Way to go Moderators! :D

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:06:08 UTC | #866915

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 12 by Jos Gibbons

Chris, the trick is to develop a theory somehow, try to find evidence that could disprove it but might not, and if it doesn't great, whereas if it does your theory needs refining, preferably in a way that doesn't reduce the scope for future falsification.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:12:51 UTC | #866921

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 13 by Stafford Gordon

Apropos of Kissinger, when his brother was aked why Henry still had a German accent and he didn't, he said it was because his brother never listened to anyone.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:29:56 UTC | #866924

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 14 by Red Dog

Comment 3 by mjs31 :

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

I agree. There have always been two different influences in US culture going back to the beginning. The humanist, secularist influence from people like Jefferson and Paine and the theocratic influence from the various religious extremists (Calvinists, Quakers,...) who made up a huge percentage of our initial population. IMO if it weren't for the separation of church and state this country would be in really sad shape by now, we would be a true theocracy. The separation of church and state keeps the extremists in check it doesn't enable them.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 16:10:49 UTC | #866934

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 15 by Red Dog

Comment 8 by Chris Boccia :

“Darwin was wrong when he said his mind had become a machine for grinding out theories from facts. That’s not how it works. You have the theories and then you test them. He had a brilliant idea — suggested by reading Malthus on how population leads to competition — and then he went and looked at the facts.”

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that you were supposed to look at the evidence and then make a theory that supports the evidence. If you do it backwards and just look for evidence that supports your theory, how are you preventing yourself from bias and from ignoring contradicting evidence? You should be looking at all the evidence first, and then you make a good theory that explains all of it.

Am I missing something, or did Richard make a mistake?

I don't think he made a mistake. In reality there is a constant interplay between theories and facts. It doesn't just go 1) look at facts 2) create theory stop. There is also 3) test theory -- i.e. use the theory to generate experiments (collect more facts) and test and revise the theory. Its a continuous loop really.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 16:29:02 UTC | #866936

mjs31's Avatar Comment 16 by mjs31

Comment 5 by Barry Pearson/Comment 7 by fuzzylogic

What is wrong with it?/What is your objection to it?

My objection is that Professor Dawkins has said that he opposes religious influence in government in all forms except apparently in the recognition of the Church of England as the official religion, which is completely contradictory. After all, to what end does he think his campaign for a secular Europe is directed if not for seperation of church and state? Isn't he wasting his time if that is not his goal? You can't have it both ways.

Comment 6 by skiles1

I'd agree to some extent that the United States has enabled religion to become a billion dollar industry here by giving them far too many tax loopholes and government funding for their pet charity projects which are nothing more than centers for proselytizing non-believers. They should start paying property taxes and they should start putting limits on exactly what people are allowed to call a "church". A fucking mega-complex with a stadium and a helipad on the roof is not a church. Pay your goddamn taxes churches.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 17:26:36 UTC | #866943

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 17 by Steve Zara

Dawkins remains uncertain about whether he would prefer a purely secular educational system. “My only hesitation in supporting that would be what happens in America. One reason it’s such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising. Mega-churches arise, luring people in with advertising cons. It has ushered me towards thinking laicisation is not such a good idea. But France is a very non-religious culture.”

I'm also against laicisation, but for other reasons. The enforced absence of government involvement in religious affairs can lead to the protection of religious faith when it should no more be beyond the ability of governments to deal with religious issues than it should for government to deal with medical issues in matters such as alternative therapies.

Laicisation is an enforced stalemate between governments and religions. I don't believe that is sustainable or desirable in the long term.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 17:37:42 UTC | #866946

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 18 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by mjs31

My objection is that Professor Dawkins has said that he opposes religious influence in government in all forms except apparently in the recognition of the Church of England as the official religion, which is completely contradictory. After all, to what end does he think his campaign for a secular Europe is directed if not for seperation of church and state? Isn't he wasting his time if that is not his goal? You can't have it both ways.

I think you have interpreted his position incorrectly. I think his position is that if religion is to be taught in schools by law, as is the case, then a broad scope be taught, all flavour of religions and the atheist position of no belief, not the cherry picking that is what appears to be the case, especially in Catholic run schools. His remarks about the C of E are that it is a toothless wishy washy ha-its-day religion and hasn't very long to go. I don't think he advocates it as a state religion, which it is by the way, any more than he wishes any religion to be of any state anywhere.

I could be wrong, it's just my take, perhaps others see it differently.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 17:48:08 UTC | #866950

mjs31's Avatar Comment 19 by mjs31

Comment 18 by Ignorant Amos

I don't think he was very firm on that point either. He did point out that France was mostly secular even though they had seperation of Church and State, but it was a shock to see:

It has ushered me towards thinking laicisation [of education] is not such a good idea.

America's education system has only contributed to religion in the U.S. in that it is abysmally underfunded, and probably too democratic in nature and thus fails to deliver, but putting it in the hands of some national church would most certainly not improve the situation. Secular education now and forever, ramen.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 18:15:17 UTC | #866954

mjs31's Avatar Comment 20 by mjs31

Comment 5 by Barry Pearson/Comment 7 by fuzzylogic

What is wrong with it?/What is your objection to it?

The other problem I have with this argument is this: Separation of Church and state may have allowed religion to flourish in America but it did not cause it. America could have just as easily gone another way if large waves of secular immigrants had come here instead. Causality cannot be proven, therefore it is a very poor argument.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 20:26:41 UTC | #866989

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 21 by Mr DArcy

Don't forget all those Pilgrim Fathers and other groups fleeing religious persecution and appalling economic conditions in Europe. They brought their own brands of mysticism with them. There was probably no hope of the USA adopting one official religion, like the CoE, because there were already so many different ones. People like Jefferson took the practical route of church state separation.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 15:24:36 UTC | #867185

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 22 by Red Dog

Comment 21 by Mr DArcy :

Don't forget all those Pilgrim Fathers and other groups fleeing religious persecution and appalling economic conditions in Europe. They brought their own brands of mysticism with them. There was probably no hope of the USA adopting one official religion, like the CoE, because there were already so many different ones. People like Jefferson took the practical route of church state separation.

I agree with everything except your last sentence which I've highlighted. That sounds as if you are saying that Jefferson and other US founding fathers would have been just as happy with a state church but they just didn't think it was practical. I don't agree. Jefferson, Paine, Madison, Franklin, and many other of the founders were as close as you could be to being atheists in the 18th century and still be accepted in polite society. They also were appalled at the never ending religious wars of Europe. Jefferson wasn't just being practical he had deep convictions on the separation of church and state.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 16:06:20 UTC | #867194

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 23 by Mr DArcy

Yes I'm sure Red Dog is right about Jefferson & Co, but there were surely devout Christians among the founders? IMO, adopting, say, Christianity (which version?), would just not have been expedient. After all, they had far more pressing problems in chasing out the British!

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 16:55:05 UTC | #867211

Dave H's Avatar Comment 24 by Dave H

Comment 3 by mjs31 :

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

Speaking as a British-American, I think Richard is at least partially right. I would add:

One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion is not discussed in mainstream schools. It is only discussed in the Sunday school that your parents send you to - a place where the dogma is imposed, and opposing viewpoints and second opinions are never discussed.

I agree with Dan Dennett. Bring on comparitive religious studies in mainstream American Schools.

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 14:03:57 UTC | #867469

mjs31's Avatar Comment 25 by mjs31

Comment 24 by Dave H

While I don't think comparative religious studies in public schools is a bad idea, it's a bit impractical, plus it would only be an elective avoided by most students, it costs more money, and it's not really a necessary educational topic. Another reason is that public schools in the U.S. don't have enough teachers as is, so retasking one of those teachers to a class like this is not the best use of resources. I also doubt this would make that much of an impact on the religious culture in America.

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 16:40:03 UTC | #867524

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 26 by Alan4discussion

Comment 16 by mjs31

My objection is that Professor Dawkins has said that he opposes religious influence in government in all forms except apparently in the recognition of the Church of England as the official religion, which is completely contradictory. After all, to what end does he think his campaign for a secular Europe is directed if not for seperation of church and state? Isn't he wasting his time if that is not his goal? You can't have it both ways.

I think the point is that The C of E has for centuries acted as a buffer which has kept the domination of Catholicism at bay, where more separate governments now have much more extensive RC influence. The latest survey in England shows one of the highest "no religion" sections of the population in the world! (51% now say they have no religion.) so it seems to be working!

Tue, 06 Sep 2011 12:56:58 UTC | #867870

ChocolateJesus's Avatar Comment 27 by ChocolateJesus

I never really looked at the cause of high religiosity in America from what Dawkins is suggesting, though it does have some merit when I think about it, but the emphasis should be made towards American Capitalism and not the Constitutional separation of church and state. The real underpinnings of why America is so religious, I believe, is due to their lack of a labour movement. Both main parties are pro-capitalist, one just more right-wing then the other, thus power is more concentrated to the elites leaving a wider gap between classes. Generally speaking, living in a more oppressive society with harder/no access to education, health services, employment and all-round opportunity opens the flood gates so to speak for religiosity to flourish.

Sat, 10 Sep 2011 02:48:22 UTC | #869083