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In praise of Richard Dawkins - Comments

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 1 by Premiseless

Carlo Fonseka, your writing style is particularly excellent.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 18:40:46 UTC | #910565

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 2 by Mr DArcy

I'm not one for hero worship, but I must admit to this great admiration for Richard and all he has done publicly in promoting science and attacking anti-science, (include religion here). I can well understand Darwin's reluctance to publish the results of his research, with thanks to pressure from Wallace, knowing full well the likely results. Especially being a "respectable" Victorian gentleman with a devoutly Christian wife. His views were of course not regarded as "respectable" after the Origin was first published. It took some years for his views to be scientifically accepted. Karl Marx was among the first to admire what Darwin had shown!

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 18:46:53 UTC | #910566

GregGorey's Avatar Comment 3 by GregGorey

The Blind Watchmaker is one of my all time favorite books. Hopefully, I can get it autographed by the good professor one day.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 18:50:14 UTC | #910567

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 4 by prettygoodformonkeys

Praises all the right things. No mention of his stridency, though.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 20:03:18 UTC | #910580

Capt. Bloodeye's Avatar Comment 5 by Capt. Bloodeye

Well said Sir!

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 20:09:19 UTC | #910581

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

It's not in my nature to be an uncritical admirer of anyone, but I agree with every word of this article.

Having been directed towards "The Extended Phenotype" by Jonathan Miller in a video on this site, I have learnt so much that I can but profess my unqualified admiration of the Prof', despite his short fuse, which as Neil de Grasse Tyson pointed out - again on this invaluable site - is a draw back in his quest to disseminate the facts of evolution .

This article will be forwarded to all my all and sundry.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 20:11:20 UTC | #910582

davidpercival's Avatar Comment 7 by davidpercival

This article has got to be a wind up. It sounds like something from North Korea

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 21:28:56 UTC | #910590

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 8 by Alan4discussion

The only ever uncaused event in the history of the universe – the BIG BANG – some 15 billion years ago, decreed that Charles Darwin would be born at Shrewsbury in England on the 12th of February 1809 and Richard Dawkins in Nairobi, Kenya on the 26th of March 1941.

I am not a fan of predestination, so this intro looks very dubious!
I don't think physics works like that. (Where's Steve Z?)

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 21:41:37 UTC | #910591

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 9 by Steve Zara

Comment 8 by Alan4discussion

I am not a fan of predestination, so this intro looks very dubious! I don't think physics works like that. (Where's Steve Z?)

Hello!

Causality doesn't work as well as the article suggests, because over such a long time even quantum events can have large-scale impacts. In fact, the distribution of galaxies in our universe are the result of quantum fluctuations enlarged by inflation, so were utterly unpredictable at the time of the start of everything.

Also, quantum events can influence evolution, as radiation and radioactivity are a significant source of mutation and they are quantum in origin.

So, I'm afraid that Richard Dawkins was not inevitable, which makes us even more lucky!

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 21:52:10 UTC | #910593

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 10 by quarecuss

Comment 7 by davidpercival

This article has got to be a wind up. It sounds like something from North Korea.

Wind up? No, just flowery prose. Like Ondaatje, he Sri Lankan gushes a bit.
Breathtaking, exulting, world shattering ... like his lush land of ...
spicy breezes where every prospect pleases !!!

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 22:03:02 UTC | #910596

Billions and Billions's Avatar Comment 11 by Billions and Billions

Comment 9 by Steve Zara :

So, I'm afraid that Richard Dawkins was not inevitable, which makes us even more lucky!

If, however, our universe is but one of an infinite number -- a multiverse -- then we were all inevitable. I am currently reading Briane Greene's book, "The Hidden Reality", and find the possibility of a multiverse intriguing.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 23:34:57 UTC | #910610

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 12 by Steve Zara

comment 11 by Billions and Billions

If, however, our universe is but one of an infinite number -- a multiverse -- then we were all inevitable. I am currently reading Briane Greene's book, "The Hidden Reality", and find the possibility of a multiverse intriguing.

I find many multiverse ideas very strange. The idea that our visible universe is a very tiny part of a much larger space seems not just reasonable, but very likely indeed. But when we come to other universes that don't share space or time with us, then, in my view, we have a problem if we try and consider those other universes as having any kind of reality, because our understanding of what 'real' means is that something exists either at some other place or some other time in our universe. Those other universes aren't at any any such place or time. Because they don't share our time, we can't say that such universes either have existed, do exist, or will exist. If we can't say that, then what does it mean to say that such universes exist?

Because of this, talk of an 'ensemble' (statistical group) of multiverses doesn't make any sense. It also means that those other universes can't have any causal connection with ours.

So, no matter how many Dawkinses could have arisen in other universes, that makes no difference to whether or not our universe happened to end up with one. We can't say that Richard was inevitable because each universe is sealed off in space and time, and so there is no way we could sample universes and find one where he and we exist together.

I call other universes that don't share our space or time SWUs or (So-What Universes). They might as well not exist, and according to any reasonable use of the word 'exist', they don't.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 23:50:55 UTC | #910612

Quine's Avatar Comment 13 by Quine

Comment 12 by Steve Zara:
... Because they don't share our time, we can't say that such universes either have existed, do exist, or will exist. If we can't say that, then what does it mean to say that such universes exist?

Speculation is valuable when it leads to looking for evidence we can test. It is harder to justify speculation when it has the nature of ruling out any possibility of evidence (self-shielding from testing). Perhaps that will not always be the case, and in the future our descendants will find a way to do what intrinsically makes no sense to us, now. Unfortunately, that can be said about almost any untestable speculation, so I leave these on the shelf with all the other unknowables, until I hear otherwise.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 00:08:10 UTC | #910618

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 14 by Starcrash

Get a room already, guys!

I'm kidding. That's a lovely article, and a nice tribute to Richard.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 03:33:04 UTC | #910646

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 15 by drumdaddy

We owe deep thanks to Richard Dawkins for his rigorous pursuit of knowledge and his sharing of the same.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 04:55:23 UTC | #910652

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 16 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 12 by Steve Zara :

I call other universes that don't share our space or time SWUs or (So-What Universes). They might as well not exist, and according to any reasonable use of the word 'exist', they don't.


Yea! Just like the alleged petty prime-mover figment.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 06:04:46 UTC | #910658

mjwemdee's Avatar Comment 17 by mjwemdee

re: Comment 7 by davidpercival

Yeah, I had the same problem with the article. Although Richard certainly deserves great credit for his work and enormous influence in current thinking, I can't help wondering if he doesn't get a bit embarrassed by this sort of sycophantic gush. Maybe it's a cultural thing - British are slightly more measured in the way they express praise.

It put me more in mind of the Malaysian press - everything I have read there seems to be univocally positive about the country.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 13:43:59 UTC | #910703

flyfisher's Avatar Comment 18 by flyfisher

Arise Sir Richard ! Knighted by the Defender of the FFFFFF........no, can't say it.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 14:51:26 UTC | #910712

Beethoven's Avatar Comment 19 by Beethoven

"It proclaimed the greatest discovery in the history of humanity: Organic Evolution."

This is going over the top. First, Darwin did not discover it. Many people suspected evolution, but did not have the evidence. Darwin provided the evidence . He was the first to "prove it".

Second, there are other great theories and discoveries in cosmology and physics , so I do not like these marketing gimmicks about the "greatest theory". Let us try to be more respectful of what other people have done.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 17:31:16 UTC | #910742

PrayForMe's Avatar Comment 20 by PrayForMe

I don't think a little 'gushing' praise of Richard does any harm. Richard has achieved many wonderful things. He has mastered that most noble, anti-postmodernist of approaches to understanding: to explain complicated ideas in the simplest ways. Everything he writes is so beautiful, powerful and reasoned.

Richard is my hero because of something else. He managed to articulate wonderfully that which I never could until reading The God Delusion: that it is good to criticise religion; that religion does not deserve the disproportionate respect it has somehow managed to secure. After reading that book, I cried with relief; I could finally voice eloquently the ideas I had always thought.

In addition to those, and many other, accomplishments, he also comes across as a really decent, affable bloke. Yet, despite all this, Richard is subjected to so many lies, misrepresentations and verbal attacks, that I'm sure he appreciates a little bit of positive affirmation every now and again. He is, after all, only human.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 09:18:27 UTC | #910864

Chomolungma's Avatar Comment 21 by Chomolungma

I was already convinced of the truth of evolution and also separately an atheist before I read any of Richard Dawkins' books, but one thing that he inculcated in me when I read his books was the attitude of "this is the truth, so deal with it". Even though he is often gracious enough to point out the errors in many arguments against evolution and atheism, he is also careful to point out when they are superfluous, for example when refuting the claim that Hitler was inspired by Darwin, since even if he was, that wouldn't alter the truth of Darwinism one iota. To see someone make this argument unashamedly has been very inspiring to me. However, I disagree with his endorsement of Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape, which as a moral nihilist (in theory but not in practise, I promise!) I thought was a terrible book riddled with numerous logical errors.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:27:12 UTC | #910881

mjwemdee's Avatar Comment 22 by mjwemdee

re: Comment 20 by PrayForMe

I agree absolutely with you on everything here. I too had exactly the same response to reading The God Delusion. I have no quibble with the spirit or content of the article - only its style: anything that sounds vaguely like deification sits uncomfortably with me, that's all. And I daresay Richard might say the same.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 15:50:44 UTC | #912224