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← Do you get it now, Prime Minister? [Also in Polish]

Do you get it now, Prime Minister? [Also in Polish] - Comments

hauntedchippy's Avatar Comment 1 by hauntedchippy

Excellent piece. The problem with faith schools is so simply put that it's difficult to imagine people "not getting it", yet a cursory glance at some of the (mostly) dreadful comments on this article shows that it is possible. Hopefully someone in parliament will give this a read.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:53:53 UTC | #898864

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 2 by Stafford Gordon

I'll be surprised if there's a response; but then, I like surprises.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:57:45 UTC | #898866

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 3 by sunbeamforjeebus

Splendidly focused piece.Richard, you have as much hope of receiving a considered reply from Cameron, or even 'his office' as you have of sharing a glass of sherry with Santa Claus.Kind Regards and yes, why not ' Happy Christmas'.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:22:08 UTC | #898872

Layla's Avatar Comment 4 by Layla

I think it's a mistake to argue for getting rid of faith schools altogether.

Instead what we should be doing is arguing that all schools, whether faith schools or not, and whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, should be held to the same standards of education.

I don't believe that we need to take an all or nothing approach to faith schools. Let's instead envisage faith schools in which the faith element consists of the teachers being allowed to teach the children all of the harmless traditions of their religion and all of the positive aspects of the moral code of the religion, encourage the children to be good to one another, are allowed to say prayers, etc.

But merely insist that the objectionable parts of the religion be kept out of the education. That means no teaching them things that are demonstrably false, no teaching them myths and presenting them as though they were facts. No encouraging prejudices and outgroup hatred. No sexism, no homophobia.

And insist that the science teachers know their subject properly and are giving the children a proper education.

If the schools meet these standards I think our real objectives will have been met while still preserving people's freedom to send their children to a school where more than just the academic side of life is encouraged but where equal importance is placed on morality and living a good life.

I feel that C of E schools have been for the most part functioning in exactly that kind of way already, retaining the salvagable parts of religion and foregoing the nasty side. But because of the new danger posed by more fundamentalist religions and creationists people now feel they must oppose all faith schools or run the risk of appearing to single out only particular religions. This misses the point that we can demand that all schools be kept to the same single, completely reasonable, minimum standard without singling any religion out.

I also feel this approach would gain much more popular support given that moderate religious people would likely agree with it. I think politicians are very unlikely to come out in favour of a ban on faith schools. We've got a greater chance of persuading them to monitor them more closely and get rid of creationism.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:13:22 UTC | #898887

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 5 by Premiseless

"but I'm happy to sing real carols, and in the unlikely event that anyone wants me to read a lesson I'll gladly oblige - only from the King James Version, of course."

Would you care to expand upon this for my benefit? A lesson from a Bible? Theistic lyrics, via carols?

I have trouble seeing the exact parameters.

1) Are you making the point, which I think to be your main one, religious culture or belief should be personal choice ONLY and not government supported due it claiming rights from every tax payers contributions? Therefore no; financial privilege, House of Lords privilege or educational privilege?

2) At what point does religious culture pass as non god acknowledging? How do you define nostalgic theism absent god belief? How do you corroborate your own place in this continuum? I ask this because I think a random reader might find it tricky to see how this puzzle fits together i.e. atheism to cultural Anglican.

3) As far as religious texts go, how do you evaluate the credibility of literature that simultaneously causes us so much trouble whilst at the same time expecting we keep it at the centre of historic ritual, rather than simply a reference piece tucked away in the relevant section of local libraries? Personally, I wonder if I might be better off never having set eyes on it! I know Christopher Hitchens values the King James version too. I see its value in standing against dogmatic traditions but haven't we moved on further still? Where does it fit into the atheists domain? And more succinctly how can one juggle this apparent contradiction? It says to me respect god if he argues against god. Is this suggesting we acknowledge our position on the spectrum of liberation from delusional belief? And need this be a continues ritual for the sake of communal solidarity and whilst society plays catch up?

Apologies for the length of my questioning. Lots of issues seem 'in the air' when theism rears its head.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:15:48 UTC | #898891

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 6 by aquilacane

Dear Prime Minister,

Merry Christmas! I mean it. All that "Happy Holiday Season" stuff, with "holiday" cards and "holiday" presents, is a tiresome import from the US, where it has long been fostered more by rival religions than by atheists.

this opinion competes with my personal attempts to make "Merry Christmas" a thing of the past. I didn't make the jump to happy holidays, either. That would support the idea that these days are holy. They are not holy. They are just days. So, for 30 years, when cultural programming doesn't force me to accidentally say the occasional Happy Holis and Merry what's it, I have been saying Happy Statutory Time Off. It's not a north American thing, it's not beneath the great Briton, it is what it is. I'm the only person with enough sense to see that's the only thing anyone has in common on these days.

I will quit saying Statutory Time Off, though. I'll quit saying anything. Next Happy Holidays I get, I'll just say and a sweet 23.5 degrees to you.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:18:49 UTC | #898893

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 7 by Starcrash

Comment 4 by Layla :

I think it's a mistake to argue for getting rid of faith schools altogether.

But merely insist that the objectionable parts of the religion be kept out of the education. That means no teaching them things that are demonstrably false, no teaching them myths and presenting them as though they were facts. No encouraging prejudices and outgroup hatred. No sexism, no homophobia.

In what way, then, would they still be faith schools? You may argue that we have to remove the myths, and I imagine Mr. Cameron would agree, but he has a different view of what constitutes "myths" than we do.

                                                         -------------------------

It's a pretty good piece, Richard. It's not possibly for me to be totally unbiased, but I tried to think of a good way to refute your argument and decided my objections would be very weak. The analogy you gave with kids in different-colored shirts does suitably demonstrate that separating these kids by any means (even well-intentioned means) leads to "dangerous prejudices."

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:26:06 UTC | #898895

Layla's Avatar Comment 8 by Layla

Comment 7 by Starcrash

In what way, then, would they still be faith schools? You may argue that we have to remove the myths, and I imagine Mr. Cameron would agree, but he has a different view of what constitutes "myths" than we do.

-They'd still get to call themselves a faithy name.

-They'd be able to actually favour traditions and rituals from a single religion as part of the school day instead of confining it to the R.E. lesson. (Religious events, celebrations, services, prayers, etc)

-They'd still be able to pass on a great deal of the religion's teachings, but they'd have to choose from the palatable selection.

-They'd still be able to teach the myths of the religion but they'd have to qualify it as the beliefs that people in that religion have held, instead of presenting them as no different from the facts they learn in geography and science. (As an example, I was taught about Noah's Ark at my C of E school and I don't believe any of the pupils or teachers were really in any danger of taking it too seriously.)

If you get rid of faith schools altogether then that means none of the above is allowed. No single school could have any affiliation or focus on any specific religion. You might be in favour or that but even if you are I think you'd be better off compromising and focusing on what our most pressing concerns are.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:44:55 UTC | #898901

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

I satirised the faith-labelling of children, in the Guardian last month (26 November), using an analogy that almost everybody gets as soon as he hears it - we wouldn't dream of labelling a child a "Keynesian child" simply because her parents were Keynesian economists. Mr Cameron, you replied to that serious and sincere point with what could distinctly be heard on the audio version as a contemptuous snigger: "Comparing John Maynard Keynes to Jesus Christ shows, in my view, why Richard Dawkins just doesn't really get it."

If you'd like to hear Mr Cameron's contemptuous snigger, listen here.

Richard

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 16:46:30 UTC | #898902

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 10 by Premiseless

Richard,

I think of lots of people as subconsciously subservient to roles they are in. You really cannot get to their inner core and anticipate an honest chat. In fact some lose their core values as a result - become signed up to the macrocosm so to speak. As long as this works for them social evolution is good in their behalf so don't, bite the hand... They pick their fights with caution.

I think the PM here is exhibiting role model consciousness. What person in role can admit this be their restriction? By default an out of role response! "I have few years at the top. I will choose what least seeks my demise."

My guess is:

1) His mind sees any group organising the complex diversities inherited prior to his position be better left alone for the term of his parliament. His agenda is things that make him look good to majority votes. Note that this automatically excludes vast numbers of the population. It's politics. He identifies his essential basis of maintaining power. This is motive. This is the elite Mandelbrot!

2) His personal approach to 'the good life' is unavailable to the general population. He knows this and is not about to sacrifice what he has access to by rattling the cages of those positioned to inflict serious wounds. Keep feeding the tiger.

3) His 'religion' becomes not theistic, but task related. One term in parliament to gather speed for a potential next term. Juggling monsters and hoping most perform for you. That's his job and it gets him a good share of the good life. Mandelbrot says so, from Eton to no 10!

4) Reason has mutations. It is the iron in the forge. Bend it at your quarry. Put your chips on the bigger numbers. Bankers get bonuses, lesson learned. If we have to cut to the chase, ethics is the side show.

Enough, for now.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 17:30:27 UTC | #898916

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 11 by Richard Dawkins

Premiseless, Comment 10. I am grateful for your interventions, but forgive me for wondering whether you write them in your native language and then put them through a computer translation program such as Google translate. These software translators are getting better, but they still don't really work. If you could possibly find a speaker of English to translate your comments for you, it probably would greatly help you to get your meaning across.

Richard

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 17:53:19 UTC | #898924

YHWH's Avatar Comment 12 by YHWH

Interesting idea comparing John Maynard Keynes to Jesus Christ.

I wonder who has more followers in the UK these days?

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 17:58:21 UTC | #898929

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 13 by Premiseless

Comment 11 by Richard Dawkins :

Premiseless, Comment 10. I am grateful for your interventions, but forgive me for wondering whether you write them in your native language and then put them through a computer translation program such as Google translate. These software translators are getting better, but they still don't really work. If you could possibly find a speaker of English to translate your comments for you, it probably would greatly help you to get your meaning across.

Richard

The penny has dropped Mr Dawkins. I afford you far too high a respect that has just irrevocably diminished.

Go with your ego. Science is your sideshow! Of that you leave me no doubt!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:02:14 UTC | #898932

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 14 by Richard Dawkins

Premiseless. I am sorry if I have given offence. I am ashamed of my own (and most of my fellow anglophones') lamentably poor ability at other languages. You certainly speak my language far better than I speak yours, whichever yours is. I genuinely wanted to help you to get your points across, because they might be good points. I had no wish to insult.

Richard

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:11:44 UTC | #898935

blitz442's Avatar Comment 15 by blitz442

Comment 13 by Premiseless

Go with your ego. Science is your sideshow! Of that you leave me no doubt!

See, even when you attempt to ridicule someone, it still doesn't quite make sense.

Several different people on this site have more or less politely told you that your posts are often incoherent.

Instead of lashing out, perhaps it's time to step back and analyze some of the feedback. Consider for a moment that people are not just being mean to you, but rather are offering some constructive criticism to help you out.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:33:02 UTC | #898939

JeremyW's Avatar Comment 16 by JeremyW

Comment 6 by aquilacane :

this opinion competes with my personal attempts to make "Merry Christmas" a thing of the past. I didn't make the jump to happy holidays, either. That would support the idea that these days are holy. They are not holy. They are just days. So, for 30 years, when cultural programming doesn't force me to accidentally say the occasional Happy Holis and Merry what's it, I have been saying Happy Statutory Time Off.

If you're serious, I feel like this simply allows people to dismiss you as a pedantic asshole (no offense). When deciding how best to pick your battles with religion, it seems like there should be some sort of cost/benefit analysis performed wherein you evaluate the amount of cultural programming embedded in a word like 'holiday' (nonzero but only barely) and the value of raising awareness of it against the cost of simply annoying the people around you who are only trying to wish you well.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:40:02 UTC | #898941

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 17 by Premiseless

Comment 14 by Richard Dawkins :

Premiseless............ I had no wish to insult.

Richard

Me neither. It seems all I'm helping, is to confuse. On that note I'll let others replace me. Since English is my ONLY language, the comment was taken as a direct hit. However, far be it from me to be easily offended...

"but I'm happy to sing real carols, and in the unlikely event that anyone wants me to read a lesson I'll gladly oblige - only from the King James Version, of course."

Comment 5 had become rather conspicuous, by absence of reply, despite my request for said lesson.

I was brought up on "Ert oreight an ert gooin' on pet?" so I do have some sympathy that my literacy skills aren't public school. If I can do better I will and if I can't then que sera, is my philosophy. Also I'm inclined to blurt out ideas whilst they are ripe rather than focus on edit, which often takes the edge of my thoughts, so that maybe another point you spot, i.e. not editing also takes the edge off how they come across.

Merry Xmas, whatever the understanding!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:42:52 UTC | #898942

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 18 by Premiseless

Comment 15 by blitz442 :

Comment 13 by Premiseless

Instead of lashing out, perhaps it's time to step back and analyze some of the feedback. Consider for a moment that people are not just being mean to you, but rather are offering some constructive criticism to help you out.

Well OK, if I know what to do about it I will. Scratches head for 'lost count' amount of times.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:44:42 UTC | #898943

m5 unit's Avatar Comment 19 by m5 unit

[Comment 6] this opinion competes with my personal attempts to make "Merry Christmas" a thing of the past. I didn't make the jump to happy holidays, either. That would support the idea that these days are holy. They are not holy. They are just days. So, for 30 years, when cultural programming doesn't force me to accidentally say the occasional Happy Holis and Merry what's it, I have been saying Happy Statutory Time Off. It's not a north American thing, it's not beneath the great Briton, it is what it is. I'm the only person with enough sense to see that's the only thing anyone has in common on these days.

I will quit saying Statutory Time Off, though. I'll quit saying anything. Next Happy Holidays I get, I'll just say and a sweet 23.5 degrees to you.

Do you have a problem with birthday celebrations, too? I'm asking seriously.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 18:55:33 UTC | #898948

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 20 by Premiseless

Comment 6 by aquilacane :

this opinion competes with my personal attempts to make "Merry Christmas" a thing of the past.

I feel your confusion. How rational is it to slate theism for its wild assertions then celebrate alongside it when its good to party?

Also, despite your positive energies, you still get judged on your failings. The old adage, "He who never made a mistake never accomplished anything." is superseded by, "Keep your cards close to your chest, everyones after your chips!" Something to do with top down class infrastructures. Never the twain shall meet. Giving of your best gets you the knock back.

There is something about the psychology of everyones role in life that is void of access by another! Remember this! It's a truism others will attempt to brow beat you with! Don't let go of it. Theists, god or no god!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:20:49 UTC | #898954

Virtual Katie's Avatar Comment 21 by Virtual Katie

That's a good picture of Richard!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:23:26 UTC | #898955

JeremyW's Avatar Comment 22 by JeremyW

Comment 20 by Premiseless :

I feel your confusion. How rational is it to slate theism for its wild assertions then celebrate alongside it when its good to party?

A large number of people were celebrating this time of year far before Christianity came along!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:36:28 UTC | #898959

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 23 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:39:26 UTC | #898960

blitz442's Avatar Comment 24 by blitz442

Premiseless

Here's a tip. When multiple people, over multiple threads, keep asking you what your point is, then perhaps you have a problem making your point.

For instance, here is a selection from your earlier post:

I think of lots of people as subconsciously subservient to roles they are in. You really cannot get to their inner core and anticipate an honest chat. In fact some lose their core values as a result - become signed up to the macrocosm so to speak.

Broken down bit by bit:

I think of lots of people as subconsciously subservient to roles they are in.

Ok, looks interesting...

You really cannot get to their inner core and anticipate an honest chat. In fact some lose their core values as a result

Sure, people may put up barriers if they feel that their core values are under attack.

become signed up to the macrocosm so to speak.

Uh, what? What is being "signed up to the macrocosm"? Not only that, the addition of "so to speak" implies that this is a common term that we should all be familiar with.

And then you follow with this:

As long as this works for them social evolution is good in their behalf so don't, bite the hand... They pick their fights with caution.

Ok, so you appear to be saying that being "signed up to the macrocosm", which I guess is going along with societal values or what society says, can work very well for some people provided they do not undermine or question those values.

Continuing on:

I think the PM here is exhibiting role model consciousness. What person in role can admit this be their restriction? By default an out of role response! "I have few years at the top. I will choose what least seeks my demise."

I have no idea what "role model consciousness" is, although that of course means nothing (it may be a very valid and accepted pyschological term for all I know). From your second sentence, perhaps the point is that the PM is playing some sort of role or conforming his behavior to some flawed model, but is unaware that he is doing this, and is therefore unable to perceive or admit to himself what is restricting his thinking and behavior?

The third sentence, I think (I really am guessing at this point), means to convey that only cynical, self-serving behavior is the only viable "out of role" response?

So the thread of cognition running through this is that we are dealing with a PM that is subservient to his role in society, but this has benefited him providing that he does not overstep the bounds and restrictions of societal values. Apparently, he is unaware of this, which I guess is evidenced by the fact that he is exhibiting "role model consciousness". But then we learn that he can realize that he is restricted by his role by engaging in an "out of role" response, which is being a cynical politician.

I still have no idea what the PM's role is in this scenario, since it was never defined. All you appear to be saying is that the PM is just manipulating people for his own selfish ends by sucking up to religious values.

My guess is:

1) His mind sees any group organising the complex diversities inherited prior to his position be better left alone for the term of his parliament

No idea what this sentence means - maybe that the PM will just steer clear of divisive issues like faith while he is in office?

And at this point, since I have already expended about 20X more effort trying to discern your points than I normally would for anyone else, I have stopped caring about whatever it is you are trying to say.

Oh wait, you saved the best for last:

Reason has mutations. It is the iron in the forge. Bend it at your quarry. Put your chips on the bigger numbers. Bankers get bonuses, lesson learned. If we have to cut to the chase, ethics is the side show

Well why didn't you say that in first place? The path is clear now.

Scratches head for 'lost count' amount of times.

Which is exactly the same experience as trying to decipher your comments.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:48:30 UTC | #898964

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 25 by ZenDruid

Premiseless, just to put my oar in briefly, I would suggest that you ease up on the metaphors. Use them sparingly.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:57:26 UTC | #898968

Layla's Avatar Comment 26 by Layla

You don't have to accept the religious reasons behind the traditions (which in any case are nothing more than post-hoc rationalisations half the time) in order to enjoy the festivities. The true meaning of Christmas isn't Jesus or the Soltace, in my view. The true meaning is enjoying each other's company, wishing people well, being generous, eating good food, music, enjoying the decorations or the lights, and, if you're a parent, making the kids happy.

I'm about as likely to take offense at Christian symbols as I am at the sight of some mistletoe because it represents some "Pagan nonsense!!". I'll leave that to the religious.They're both equally just myths carried on out of tradition from my perspective.

I know that in America there are certain types of Christians with a persecution complex who like to continuously act as though they have some kind of special ownership of Christmas but they are just speaking out of ignorance. I can't help wondering if some atheists' rather over-zealous rejection of all things associated with religion is a reaction to the fact they've been successfully hoodwinked by these types into believing Christmas really is all about Christ.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 20:00:15 UTC | #898970

Virtual Katie's Avatar Comment 27 by Virtual Katie

Ok Premiseless. What it looks like to me is that you aren't "showing your work." It's like when you were in grade school and you had a math problem that was easy for you but challenging for the rest of the class and (probably your teacher). Most kids are writing out the problem in a linear way showing all the work following a step by step process. You might have jotted down a number or two while you were solving your problem, and I'm sure you got the right answer you just didn't get there the same way. When you look at your own work you can follow what you did, skipping steps in your head, and jotting down just the critical parts, but it's difficult for most other people to do that we aren't used to communicating that way. You seem pretty clever to me. I'd guess IQ around 170, and maybe ADHD. Read it out loud before you post, or pretend you're explaining your ideas to a kid. Even though most folks seem pretty smart here, it's hard to understand non linear thoughts in a linear medium. I had to re-read what you wrote a couple times, not because it didn't make sense, because it does, but because the format is unlike what I'm used to reading.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 20:06:21 UTC | #898972

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 28 by Premiseless

Cheers everyone. Now, partly due my unintended misunderstandings, I feel less responsible for representing opposition to wild assertion per se. Funnily enough, this has provoked negative responses to what I thought my most energy sapping and insightful posts. Also, the questions I posed were aimed at delving deeper into teasing out of the ambiguities atheism faces amidst a theistic entropy. In fact, maybe I'm unconsciously contributing confusion. That acknowledged, I feel relieved to take a back seat, which feels a pleasant and unexpected outcome. Dry dock so to speak. Mandelbrot prevails for me too!

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 20:12:19 UTC | #898974

Layla's Avatar Comment 29 by Layla

Comment 28 by Premiseless

Cheers everyone. Now, partly due my unintended misunderstandings, I feel less responsible for representing opposition to wild assertion per se. Funnily enough, this has provoked negative responses to what I thought my most energy sapping and insightful posts. Also, the questions I posed were aimed at delving deeper into teasing out of the ambiguities atheism faces amidst a theistic entropy. In fact, maybe I'm unconsciously contributing confusion. That acknowledged, I feel relieved to take a back seat, which feels a pleasant and unexpected outcome. Dry dock so to speak. Mandelbrot prevails for me too!

Come again?

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 20:17:23 UTC | #898975

blitz442's Avatar Comment 30 by blitz442

Comment 27 by Virtual Katie

I disagree that writing in the way that Premiseless writes is an indication of a superior intellect; bright people don't drown their prose in cliches, platitudes, and complete non-sequitors. His style is indistinguishable from someone who has no idea what they mean, or someone who has a very mundane and pedestrian point that they are wishing to pass off as profound.

Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Fenyman, Mayr, Marx, Sagan, etc. were all able to convey complex ideas in clear language. The association of "linear" with "simple" or "dumbed-down" is a false one; premises and themes should be clearly stated and ideas should follow logically from one to the next.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 20:21:53 UTC | #898978