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← UPDATED: Richard on Radio 4 Start the Week - Monday 17 October 2011

UPDATED: Richard on Radio 4 Start the Week - Monday 17 October 2011 - Comments

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 1 by SheerReason

I'm looking forward to the broadcast. I am a little curious why a Rabbi was invited? Why not a Mohel and a cab driver? I know... we have to provide the alternative, spiritual explanations to the wonder of the Universe.

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 20:13:46 UTC | #881312

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 2 by Stevehill

Please ask Jonathan Sacks how he had the chutzpah to accept a seat in the unelected House of Lords.

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 20:26:11 UTC | #881315

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 3 by SomersetJohn

Comment 2 by Stevehill :

Please ask Jonathan Sacks how he had the chutzpah to accept a seat in the unelected House of Lords.

He's a priest, what do you expect?

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:07:43 UTC | #881318

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

Comment 1 by SheerReason

I'm looking forward to the broadcast. I am a little curious why a Rabbi was invited? Why not a Mohel and a cab driver? I know... we have to provide the alternative, spiritual explanations to the wonder of the Universe.

If someone other than scientists had to be invited, I would have asked a plumber. After all, there are more of us around to wonder at the universe because of good plumbing (fresh drinking water and removal of sewage) than anything ever achieved by a preacher.

And one of the true wonders of the universe is the invention of the u-bend.

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:16:27 UTC | #881320

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 5 by SheerReason

I've been reading up on him. I suppose this isn't unexpected, but below is from the Wikipedia article on Jonathan Sacks.

Secularism and Europe's changing demographics

Sacks has expressed concern at what he regards as the negative effects of materialism and secularism in European society, arguing that they undermine the basic values of family life and lead to selfishness. In 2009 Sacks gave an address claiming that Europeans have chosen consumerism over the self-sacrifice of parenting children, and that "the major assault on religion today comes from the neo-Darwinians." He argued that Europe is in population decline "because non-believers lack shared values of family and community that religion has.

I'm not sure how these topical discussions devolve into a Creationism vs. Secularism argument, but they always seem to.

He also has at least one PhD to his credit, but I haven't been able to establish what his education included. Any chance someone could fill in the gaps?

Below is all I could find on his education which seemed to be focused on Philosophy

Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in >Philosophy, Jonathan Sacks pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College >London, gaining his PH. D in 1981 and rabbinic ordination from Jews’ College and Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

The above is from www.chiefrabbi.org

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:17:28 UTC | #881321

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 6 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Or you can get the podcast, yours to treasure forever, an hour or two after broadcast on this link: BBC Radio 4 Start the Week

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:20:38 UTC | #881322

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 7 by Tyler Durden

Comment 1 by SheerReason :

I'm looking forward to the broadcast. I am a little curious why a Rabbi was invited? Why not a Mohel and a cab driver? I know... we have to provide the alternative, spiritual explanations to the wonder of the Universe.

"There's kind of a notion that everyone's opinon is equally valid - my arse!!" - Dara O'Brian

Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:31:11 UTC | #881328

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by Functional Atheist

I'm looking forward to this--thanks for the heads-up. I confess to being a little intrigued by all three participants--I've never heard Randall and Dawkins together on a panel or in conversation, and as I'm a fan of both it will be interesting to hear how they interact. As to the Rabbi, I've heard of him several times but know little about him--if there had to a religious figure involved, at least they chose one that mildly intrigues me.

We have no "Chief Rabbi" here in the US, so I find the notion novel, if not downright strange. It is interesting to note that he represents only the "mainstream Orthodox synagogues", so his grand title is not literally true. I presume this custom in Britain is an offshoot of having an official church, the C of E? In the sense that since the state has an officially sanctioned church and hierarchy, then the Jews should have an officially sanctioned leader of their own?

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 00:50:17 UTC | #881354

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 9 by Premiseless

Comment 2 by Stevehill :

Please ask Jonathan Sacks how he had the chutzpah to accept a seat in the unelected House of Lords.

One of the unspoken precursors, in the lower ranks of our society especially, to passing out through courses sanctioned on masonic merit, rather than individual ability, which of course will guarantee your failure.

It's a strange society, then, once you realise it even stranger!

Those with power find this aspect highly amusing, almost without reserve. We who have eyes....put your books away and do as you're told by the 3 monkeys we put on your shoulder.

Was it worth the number of decades it took to find this out? Or the aweless arrangements of neurons? The nostalgias of shadows of a childhood spent in suspended animation? All the answers lie here! We have you surrounded - us, the born not to think told to do types that feels so right so must be true. Even Darwin was gagged, in his own time of course!

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 02:50:14 UTC | #881368

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 10 by Michael Fisher

Comment 5 by SheerReason :

He also has at least one PhD to his credit, but I haven't been able to establish what his education included. Any chance someone could fill in the gaps?

It's philosophy all the way down... The footnote on THIS PAGE reads:

Jonathan Sacks was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, following which he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College London, gaining his Ph.D in philosophy in 1981

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 05:26:51 UTC | #881384

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 11 by Michael Fisher

THIS PAGE lists his academic career since:

Rabbi Sacks: Visiting professor at the University of Essex, where he taught Philosophy, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel; in addition to being a lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell lecturer at Newcastle University, cook lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews. Presently, Sacks is a visiting professor at King's College in London, where he teaches theology. To add to his repertoire of achievements, he has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Cambridge, Haifa, Middlesex, Glasgow, Liverpool, Yeshiva University in New York, and St. Andrews University. Furthermore he is an honorary fellow at Gonville and Caius College, King's College and Cambridge College, both of which are in London. Most recently, as of 2001, Sacks, received the honorary doctorate of Divinity from the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was in acknowledgement of his service as the Chief Rabbinate
He's also written a dozen books (see link), but the titles are such that I know they should have remained as trees

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 05:36:13 UTC | #881385

Mike Kemp's Avatar Comment 12 by Mike Kemp

Jonathan Sacks is one of those (literally) "holier than thou" people who grate on me when they appear on the BBC Today programme's own god slot (a short talk presented daily at a peak time as a safe capsule open to theists only who get to preach to us and remain protected from complaint by some BBC rule I can't fathom). My recollection is that my negative opinion of him was formed by a homophobic speech he made a year or so ago. However my apologies if that wasn't him, as the flow of bizarre opinion from diverse faiths tends to merge into a generally objectionable stream.

I shall look forward to his great intellect flowing over us in this programme.

In case it is relevant to those who don't know, Andrew Marr has confessed he once obtained a high court injunction preventing other journalists from reporting his activities. He later abandoned the injunction (which was one of those that prevented even any report that it existed) and, as far as I understand it, has apologised for this lapse in belief in freedom of the press. I for one am inclined to accept the apology, but it has tarnished my view of him as an otherwise honest reporter. Maybe time will show if he is truly reformed.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 07:05:49 UTC | #881389

Quine's Avatar Comment 13 by Quine

Listening now.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:03:41 UTC | #881392

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 14 by Michael Fisher

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ~ quote:

blah blah blah god blah blah intervention blah blah we believe god is hidden in the universe blah blah blah left brain alphabet xxxx testable entities xxx xxx christianity was a right brain religion xxx
How much does this idiot get paid for this nonsense?

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:28:05 UTC | #881400

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 15 by Mark Jones

Rabbi Sacks is outnumbered here, and makes an argument from the length of time Judaism has survived versus the materialism of Epicurus! He thinks science shows what is, but meaning and purpose point to a divine purpose; Randall and Dawkins suggest that this doesn't do the work he thinks it does. (I would say that science does include human values, so isn't the cold, logical process some like to characterise it as. The fact that human interest is involved in the process is one of the reasons for the method.) I would also have pointed out that meaning and purpose may be beyond a scientific, raw analysis of what is, but this is not to say that theists or theologians are any better equipped than the rest of us to explore meaning and purpose.

To simply make up an ultimate purpose and meaning, or adopt one that was made up in the past, because you think you need an ultimate purpose and meaning, is the crime of religion. Because it stifles dialogue, and delays us from developing a more humane and civilised meaning and purpose contingent on our circumstances. And note that our circumstances are most reliably established by science, not theology.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:42:29 UTC | #881407

sbooder's Avatar Comment 16 by sbooder

I wish they would quote Feynman, "I do not understand how knowing more about a flower can detract form its beauty"

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:43:12 UTC | #881408

Quine's Avatar Comment 17 by Quine

Oh well.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:43:34 UTC | #881409

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 18 by Premiseless

Sacks agenda: to get science to accede to religious intelligence. A religio-centric absorption of science. This is the agenda of all religio-centred societies: to persecute the irreligious academics as much as is possible by fair means or 'satanic accusation'.

Theirs is not a love of science, or of people at all, but of power over reason!

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:52:04 UTC | #881412

plasma-engineer's Avatar Comment 19 by plasma-engineer

Sometimes I'm glad of late shifts as I can listen to things like this live. I'm even more glad that I didn't notice a single thought-provoking comment from the rabbi. Both Lisa and Richard were a pleasure to listen to, as always, although I felt that the programme was a little bit flat thanks to the uninteresting presenter. (I think I'm agreeing with Quine in comment 17, but I'm not sure what he meant.)

Perhaps the best laugh was from the rabbi accusing Richard of being tone-deaf when it came to religion, and Richard replying that has wasn't sure that there was anything to listen to.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:59:42 UTC | #881415

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 20 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 14 by Michael Fisher :

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ~ quote:

blah blah blah god blah blah intervention blah blah we believe god is hidden in the universe blah blah blah left brain alphabet xxxx testable entities xxx xxx christianity was a right brain religion xxx

How much does this idiot get paid for this nonsense?


Isn't it strange how postmodernism and religious nonsense share the same kind of obfuscating quality? At bottom, it's the same drivel, just packaged differently.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 10:06:41 UTC | #881428

louis14's Avatar Comment 21 by louis14

I was only able to listen in between interruptions, but I have to say, I didn't hear Sacks say anything interesting. He mostly seemed to be trying to absorb science into religion whilst maintaining that they were two entirely different quests.

I did hear him finish on the risible assertion that without faith there is no hope. Did I just imagine the Randall/Dawkins double face-palm in the pause before Andrew Marr wound up the show?

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 10:24:38 UTC | #881432

louis14's Avatar Comment 22 by louis14

And again, why, in a program about the wonders of the universe do we have someone promoting the supernatural? Why weren't the guests a biologist, a cosmologist and a chemist? It's just bizarre.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 10:27:38 UTC | #881434

plasma-engineer's Avatar Comment 23 by plasma-engineer

Sacks was right in one way though. Without hope there is no hope for supernatural.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 11:08:29 UTC | #881443

StephenH's Avatar Comment 24 by StephenH

You see, you invite people like Sacks to share a seat on these subjects. They love being invited to the debate, as it gives them the platform to speak (from their perspective, of believing in total drivel, not based on reality at all)

If this was a boxing match, the Sacks of this world wouldn't even get in the ring

It's like pitching a world class boxer against a flower arranger (who's got no boxing experience)

Anyway, off to listen to the audio

Oh yes, i forgot

Darwin has kicked God out of Biology Hawking has kicked God out of Cosmology

God is running out of hiding places.

Soon there won't be anywhere left... i guess Chemistry will be next, to kick him out of hiding behind the test tubes

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 11:33:52 UTC | #881448

Alex_Redsky's Avatar Comment 25 by Alex_Redsky

Why the Beeb insists on inviting priests and other theologians to every program remotely discussing either evolution or cosmology, is beyond me. Probably for the sake of "balance", as if those religionists had anything remotely valid to add to those subjects. Instead, they get a platform to repeat over and over the same inanities about "meaning", conceding that science is very important today – which is undeniable now to almost everyone, of course – BUT (and it's a big 'but') keep arguing instead that religion have a unique, unsurpassed role to the moral and ethic values of our time, blah, blah... Sorry to break it to you this, Chief Rabbi, but it doesn't. Just look around you where people upholding those strong religious beliefs and morals have led us before.

When a 'concerned' Mr. Sacks said he "wouldn't like to live in a world ruled by scientific thought", Richard missed an excellent opportunity to make a point-blank remark of where a pious, religion-dominated world has done to mankind in the past (and are still doing in certain places today). 'Moral values'? I bet the good-mannered, Rabbi wouldn't like very much to live in one of those theocentric places if his chosen faith wasn't the dominant (and sole) force.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:13:29 UTC | #881458

GPWC's Avatar Comment 26 by GPWC

People who haven't heard this yet are going to love it. RD and Lisa Randall 10, Sacks nil points.

Comment 20 by Derek M :

Comment 14 by Michael Fisher :

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ~ quote:

blah blah blah god blah blah intervention blah blah we believe god is hidden in the universe blah blah blah left brain alphabet xxxx testable entities xxx xxx christianity was a right brain religion xxx

How much does this idiot get paid for this nonsense?

Isn't it strange how postmodernism and religious nonsense share the same kind of obfuscating quality? At bottom, it's the same drivel, just packaged differently.

Exactly so, I'm pleased to report Sacks took religion to a new level of obfuscation. We know we are winning when he has to resort to this tosh.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:19:20 UTC | #881459

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 27 by peter mayhew

I love this. Every time a faith head appears head to head with an atheist, they end up making themselves look stupid. All Sachs had was scaremongering. I say, more of this please.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:25:18 UTC | #881463

StephenH's Avatar Comment 28 by StephenH

"without God, there is no hope" says Mr Sacks

A sentence that says absolutely nothing

For practically minded people, hope is an indulgence that i have no time for.

Hopes & Prayers v Doing something real, useful and practical

When a terrible Tsunami strikes, what does it really offer when a person sends their prayers, compared with people who send money, or aid, or practical help in a useful and constructive way?

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:53:22 UTC | #881470

Graxan's Avatar Comment 29 by Graxan

What bothered me about the discussion was that Sacks accused scientists like Richard of being some sort of autisic or someone who doesn't possess the required senses for religious experience. Kind of insulting to say the least. Is this the next defence they have constructed? 'Oh it's ok, you don't need to understand, but trust us it's real'... Yeah...right.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 13:25:25 UTC | #881485

blitz442's Avatar Comment 30 by blitz442

Comment 29 by Graxan

Unfortunately, I think that a new meme might be developing; a person that shows scientific knowledge and aptitude (and therefore can potentially embarrass the rest of us dolts) will be referred to as "autistic". There was a similar allusion to this in an recent article about the Magic of Reality.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:08:41 UTC | #881496