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In Defense of Richard Dawkins - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Even in death Hitchens is worth listening to. Much more so than any theocratic moron like William Lane Craig, the " Soapy Sam " of the 21st century.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 17:51:49 UTC | #914232

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 2 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:00:54 UTC | #914234

Inexplicable Quantum's Avatar Comment 3 by Inexplicable Quantum

In my experience, I've always been able to rely on Christopher Hitchens to provide insight that I wouldn't find anywhere else. He had so much knowledge and wisdom which he made such significant and articulate use of in his writing and speaking.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:08:03 UTC | #914236

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 4 by chawinwords

Ah yes, Numbers 31, describing a nation being created on the back of horrible crimes against humanity -- nothing terribly unusual about that -- heck, human slavery is a crime against humanity, and even in the U.S., slavery had its own religion. Never forget that in the U.S. the first secessions over slavery occurred in the 1840s within national religious sect conventions, long before South Carolina seceded and was the first state to fire on the national flag. Small wonder the Texas State School Board and the southern fundamentalist evangelical Christians are trying so hard to wipe such a stain off of their claimed "exceptional-ism." Actually, historically, they aren't all that exceptional -- rather, rather common religious folk.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:11:26 UTC | #914239

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 5 by drumdaddy

Peace, and three full-throated cheers to Hitch.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:22:43 UTC | #914241

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 6 by crookedshoes

I love it. Now, let's all get on with the important work of demolishing creationism's ludicrous assertions.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:25:49 UTC | #914243

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 7 by MilitantNonStampCollector

stri.dent - adjective:

  1. Loud and harsh; grating.
  2. Presenting a point of view, esp. a controversial one, in an excessively and unpleasantly forceful way.

Could anything else encapsulate the religious world-view more perfectly than point 2?

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:35:48 UTC | #914246

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 8 by Mr DArcy

Of course the YECs aren't too keen on cosmology, physics, geology, and chemistry either, to name a few, as well as biology. In the interests of "balance", I think it fair to say that the YECs (and OECs) are anti-science. At least some Christians who were also scientists, like Darwin, modified their views in the light of the evidence. The early geologists (Christians) went looking for the evidence of Noah's flood, instead they found an Earth much older than that described in the Bible!

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:44:08 UTC | #914250

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 9 by JHJEFFERY

Jump to comment 8 by Mr DArcy

Of course the YECs aren't too keen on cosmology, physics, geology, and chemistry either, to name a few, as well as biology. In the interests of "balance", I think it fair to say that the YECs (and OECs) are anti-science. At least some Christians who were also scientists, like Darwin, modified their views in the light of the evidence. The early geologists (Christians) went looking for the evidence of Noah's flood, instead they found an Earth much older than that described in the Bible.

I agree of course, but Darwin pointed to theodicy as his reason for becoming agnostic. The long excruciating death of his dear daughter is usually pointed to as the bellweather moment, although he also had a lot of sympathy for the ichneumode wasp.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:16:13 UTC | #914254

zengardener's Avatar Comment 10 by zengardener

At least two cheers!

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:16:32 UTC | #914255

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

One wonders, if Darwin and Huxley were alive today, what would they make of all this resistance to evolution; especially in light of the mountain of new evidence coming from multiple scientific disciplines.

An insightful article on the good professor.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:25:50 UTC | #914259

Quine's Avatar Comment 12 by Quine

I want to take a moment to echo Hitch's point about the lack of any point to answering the silly noises from William Lane Craig. Of course, we have had more than one long thread, here, discussing WLC and his attempts to inflate his status among believers, and to gain publicity generally, by taunting Richard Dawkins. Soon after the publication of The God Delusion there were many books published by religious authors who saw quick sales to the believing market for anything that would "say it ain't so." Paula Kriby did us a great service by reviewing these "fleas" for the venerable "fleabytes" thread, and that should have been the end of it, but WLC decided to go beyond book writing by trying to make hay out of public performance of his flea circus.

Following the example set by Paula, I recently read WLC's latest two books. I found myself having the same kind of reaction that Paula described, in that, I would be reading along and there would come some statement that was just so wrong and repulsive that the urge to throw the book against the nearest wall was almost overwhelming. Unfortunately, I was reading the book on an electronic reader, so I could not afford the expense of availing myself of that form of emotional release. I remember, at one point, reading that WLC believed the reason his all loving deity could justify sending someone to Hell for an infinite amount of torture for some finite amount of "sin" was because, finding oneself in Hell one would naturally hate the deity, and that would be an ongoing sin that needed ongoing punishment. Really? Perfect love, you say?

WLC, pay him no mind; it is the proper payment for noises that come from no mind.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:38:25 UTC | #914265

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 13 by Stonyground

There seems to be a tendency for religious people to ignore facts. That Richard Dawkins is always calm and polite in his discussions, often in the face of intense provokation, is just one more fact that they ignore.

The mention of the 'Four Horsemen' in the article prompted the thought that there are now only three. Should we be inviting nominations for a replacement? How about PZ Myers? Also could we have Four Horsewomen too? I nominate Greta Christina. Sorry if I am OT, should I maybe start a new discussion?

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:46:38 UTC | #914270

blitz442's Avatar Comment 14 by blitz442

Comment 12 by Quine

I remember, at one point, reading that WLC believed the reason his all loving deity could justify sending someone to Hell for an infinite amount of torture for some finite amount of "sin" was because, finding oneself in Hell one would naturally hate the deity, and that would be an ongoing sin that needed ongoing punishment. Really? Perfect love, you say?

So in his mind, it's not a sin to torture someone but it's a sin to dislike the torturer. So the only way out is for the tortured to unnaturally start loving the torturer.

Tortured logic does not begin to describe this.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:52:51 UTC | #914273

nickthelight's Avatar Comment 15 by nickthelight

Damn I miss his writing.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:55:30 UTC | #914274

Kurt75's Avatar Comment 16 by Kurt75

Ok, I was inspired to ask a physics PhD student here who thinks "evolution is bullshit" a few questions. She thinks acceptance of evolution in Serbia is down since people are free to practice orthodox christianity again. Pressed on the age of the earth, she said it couldn't be 14 billion years old, and the idea of that much time just didn't fit into her head. This from a person writing a PhD thesis in theoretical quantum mechanics mind you -- a fact that I am having trouble fitting into my head!

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:55:31 UTC | #914275

blitz442's Avatar Comment 17 by blitz442

Comment 16 by Kurt75

Pressed on the age of the earth, she said it couldn't be 14 billion years old, and the idea of that much time just didn't fit into her head.

It isn't 14 billion years old, although at 4.5 billion years it ain't no spring chicken.

Also, how could an infinite God fit into her head but not any amount of finite time?

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:00:30 UTC | #914277

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment 12 by Quine

The moral situation of WLC and his apologetics for Biblical atrocities illustrates a danger of religious faith that reminds me of a troubling scientific finding: the Milgram experiment. People can be convinced to do dreadful things by an authority figure. Religious faith allows someone to 'Milgram' themselves: they are their own authority figure, as they project their own views on to holy books and insist it is God.

Religious faith can bypass the same ethical parts of the self as are can be out of the loop in authority situations.

There may be no limit to what atrocities religion can justify as acceptable because of the delusion that one's own imagination is a real external authority figure.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:13:51 UTC | #914279

blitz442's Avatar Comment 19 by blitz442

Comment 18 by Steve Zara

There is one sense in which WLC provides some illumination and might even be useful to our cause, and that is given his faith-based premises which most Xtians share with him, some of his conclusions are perfectly logical.

Start with the belief that a perfect God wrote an unambiguous book to tell you what to do. The book clearly states that God is ok with genocide sometimes. Unlike moderate Christians, he does not ignore these aspects of the book or try to implausibly and hypocritically argue that they mean something other that what they plainly say.

Thus, he cannot be dismissed as a crank by other Christians. He can be used to demonstrate to other Christians that their Christian premises are fatally flawed, because they ineluctably lead to moral beliefs that we all agree are crazy.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:33:47 UTC | #914282

Angelrosas999's Avatar Comment 20 by Angelrosas999

None should retrieve against the idiocy of religion supporters. What a shame is to apologize for revealing and telling the truth?! Prof. Dawkins, please continue fighting against the real threat against peace and happiness in this world.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:39:38 UTC | #914283

Quine's Avatar Comment 21 by Quine

Re Comment 18 by Steve Zara, yes Steve, that became very clear to me when reading the writings of Church officials who were charged with carrying out the Spanish Inquisition. No matter how horrible their actions, they were sure that they were the instruments of a deity who was doing the ultimate good. As you note, is a property of the human mind to be able to wall off the responsibility for heinous actions and assign that to some duly authorized "other."

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:40:31 UTC | #914284

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara

Comment 21 by Quine

The connection with the Milgram situation has only just occurred to me! It's frightening, as it provides a possible psychological mechanism for religious support for atrocity.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:45:48 UTC | #914286

Quine's Avatar Comment 23 by Quine

Well, there has to be some mechanism for how religion gets good people to do bad things.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:51:32 UTC | #914288

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 24 by rrh1306

That's a good point. If one starts with the premise that god is an infinitely loving being who only does good then one doesn't really have to concern ones self with atrocities in the Bible because there can't be any. God is a perfectly good being so even if some actions of his seem an awful lot like an atrocity, you can rest easy knowing that god's ways are higher than ours and that everything he did was done to propagate love and create a better world.

Comment 19 by blitz442 :

Comment 18 by Steve Zara

There is one sense in which WLC provides some illumination and might even be useful to our cause, and that is given his faith-based premises which most Xtians share with him, some of his conclusions are perfectly logical.

Start with the belief that a perfect God wrote an unambiguous book to tell you what to do. The book clearly states that God is ok with genocide sometimes. Unlike moderate Christians, he does not ignore these aspects of the book or try to implausibly and hypocritically argue that they mean something other that what they plainly say.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 21:32:07 UTC | #914299

PERSON's Avatar Comment 25 by PERSON

Comment 2 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Thanks for that link, Stephen. I noticed someone posted a graph showing some stats about the word from Google, and was reminded of their ngram viewer based on Google Books data. The curve, which goes up to 2008, has some interesting features. Notice the decrease between 1936 and1942 (around the time of WW II), for instance, the rises near 1962 and 1973, and the drop-off at the end of the 1990s. The more recent data based on news content is harder to interpret.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 22:03:59 UTC | #914323

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 26 by phil rimmer

Comment 23 by Quine

Well, there has to be some mechanism for how religion gets good people to do bad things.

Some recent fMRI research sheds a little light on the possible mechanism. We are not simply wired for reciprocal altrusism by means of affective empathy, but we are also wired for cognitive neural processes to particularly favour ingroup members.

This cognitive overlay goes some way to mitigate the cost of reciprocal altruism and its exploitation by others.

It has been mooted that the primary human socialising force has been that of allegiances, rather than reciprocity. It consequently defines manageable social group sizes, by means more akin to an insurance policy crossed with a protection racket, requiring premiums paid into a group, rather than a network of reciprocal one to one trades.

So. We are nice reciprocal creatures. A few aren't and we get ripped off. We develop a kluged lame brain mechanism to spot the dangerous few. Is he like me or not like me? But, equally, to be included in the reciprocity to come I must not be mistaken for not being like my peers.

Like all our kluges it has big unintended consequences. This time, sadly, not sonnets.

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 22:37:29 UTC | #914352

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 27 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - off topic

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 23:14:55 UTC | #914372

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 28 by Alan4discussion

Comment 12 by Quine

WLC, pay him no mind; it is the proper payment for noises that come from no mind.

There are view-points on science, for which the appropriate response is -"Fail! - at pre-school level". - Next question? - Are you all watching the awe-stuck monkey admiring his well designed banana?

...Or as Prof. Brian Cox put it (while referring viewers questions to Gene Cernan) on the the BBC2 astronomy/cosmology "Stargazing Live" phone-in, - when called by a Moon landing conspiracy theorist, - He replied - "Switch over channels and watch "Big-Brother"! - Next question!

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 23:29:47 UTC | #914376

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 29 by aroundtown

Past or present, reason prevails and the message remains valid. I applaud Mr. Dawkins now as I have in the past for his perseverance and vigorous objection to the insanity of religion.

Sat, 04 Feb 2012 00:35:40 UTC | #914384

JTMcDaniel's Avatar Comment 30 by JTMcDaniel

I think perhaps Prof. Dawkins may "read" a bit more strident than what you get if you can hear and see him speaking. Not really a fault of the writer so much as the perceptions or expectations of the reader. I remember hearing van den Haag on the radio about 1971 relating his "Jews are smarter because the smartest Christians all became priests and had no children, and the smartest Jews became rabbis and had a lot of children" idea and it just sounded like he was playing around with something silly, but it sounded far more serious (and raised a lot of ire) when people read it in his book. You tend to perceive things to be as you expect, and if you're mad at someone's ideas (or feel threatened by them), you're much more likely to perceive them as angry, confrontational, or, well, strident.

Sat, 04 Feb 2012 02:43:27 UTC | #914401