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← Q&A: Pell vs Dawkins - April 9, Easter Monday night

Q&A: Pell vs Dawkins - April 9, Easter Monday night - Comments

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 1 by Stafford Gordon

Two stridentists head to head; sounds promising.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 20:02:20 UTC | #932612

SmartLX's Avatar Comment 2 by SmartLX

Don't just wait for Pell to hang himself like you did in the last round with John Lennox, Richard, it would be redundant. He's been around for ages, we Aussies already have a pretty good idea how conservative and backward he is. He's the Catholic Church personified on most every issue.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 21:31:54 UTC | #932630

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 3 by Reckless Monkey

Here's the download page/ Podcast-Vodcast link for those interested link text

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 22:07:55 UTC | #932635

archway's Avatar Comment 4 by archway

So Richard Dawkins is to debate the Guru of the Catholic Church, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney. Dawkins will love Australia, the land where the most outspoken and authoritative on any subject are those who know least about it. We've venerated such brash self-confidence since the landing at Botany Bay. The original inhabitants were too bright to go in for that sort of thing. Had we (white Australians) adopted their psychic culture instead of crushing it, we wouldn't need a debate between a redundant Medievalist and a redundant militant know-all, both certain of things they can know nothing about. When Richard denies the existence of a higher realm of existence, he's like an ant banging away on a street corner denying the existence of the differential calculus, and would be amusing if it were not so pathetic.

At the threshold of the 21st century, the debate should fly a lot higher than this. Erich Fromm got it right in describing our psychically blighted state and the need for "the emergence of new (and higher) forms of psychospiritual orientation and devotion, which are equivalents of the religious systems of the past." If there's one thing I can't abide more than a pre-historic God-squadder like Generaloberst Pell, it's a rank materialist sounding off on matters psychic or spiritual, especially denying the existence of such things. A Pom has adopted the Aussie approach where not knowing something makes one an expert in it. It's pure tedium. When can we have a debate between people who are up to the questions that need asking and answering? I feel sorry for people like Chris Hitchens whose Earthly existences have provided no insights into the invisible world the biologist J. B. S. Haldane spoke of, saying he had little time for those who remained ignorant of its existence. It's a pity Einstein isn't here to update his maxim:

"Thought is the highest form of matter; Matter is the lowest form of thought. The material is what is produced; Spirit is what does the producing."

We live in an age where that insight needs to be expanded and made general knowledge. That's something the bright ones amongst can relate to in a debate. As Professor H. S. D. Garven said: 'We have the strange situation that the man in the street has begun to believe thoroughly in science, while the man in the laboratory has begun to lose his faith in his science.' Neither Richard nor the Cardinal are up to the mark. It's not good enough. We can do much better than this. We have to. The status quo is going to make us extinct.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 02:33:58 UTC | #932670

G*O*D's Avatar Comment 5 by G*O*D

Comment 4 by archway

That was sensible and beautiful! Unlike me and the great Albert, all the cardinals, professors and Hitches are just a pile of BS! I will have another beer.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 03:13:11 UTC | #932676

G*O*D's Avatar Comment 6 by G*O*D

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Fri, 06 Apr 2012 03:13:48 UTC | #932677

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 7 by Anonymous

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Fri, 06 Apr 2012 03:14:36 UTC | #932678

mmurray's Avatar Comment 8 by mmurray

Comment 4 by archway :

I feel sorry for people like Chris Hitchens whose Earthly existences have provided no insights into the invisible world the biologist J. B. S. Haldane spoke of, saying he had little time for those who remained ignorant of its existence.

Maybe you would like to explain what you think Haldane had in mind. A subsequent quote in his correspondence says

On the other hand, when I talk about the invisible world I do not, as you assume, mean a supernatural world. The timeless facts which are symbolized by the multiplication table are invisible, but hardly supernatural.

Michael

PS: Christopher Hitchens disliked being called Chris.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 03:37:07 UTC | #932681

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 9 by Anonymous

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Fri, 06 Apr 2012 04:00:43 UTC | #932684

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 10 by mordacious1

"Dawkins describes himself as an evolutionary biologist, author and militant atheist".

He does?

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 07:43:52 UTC | #932697

mmurray's Avatar Comment 11 by mmurray

You can see Pell's Easter message here

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-06/catholic-and-anglican-easter-messages/3936648

Also a nice comment at the bottom from Father Bob Macquire

Father Bob Maguire admits Easter has lost its meaning for Catholics in Australia, but he says the meaning of Easter is everywhere.

"I know that the clerics get nervous about what I say about secularism, but I think secularism, which is the Aussie way, is in fact as sacred as a religious expression as goodness," he said.

Secularism the message of Easter. I love it.

Michael

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 08:19:07 UTC | #932705

RichardC's Avatar Comment 12 by RichardC

Comment 10 by mordacious1 :

"Dawkins describes himself as an evolutionary biologist, author and militant atheist". He does?

Actually, perhaps surprisingly, Richard Dawkins has described himself as a "militant athesist" on a recent BBC programme; 2min 40s into the video link text

I think he means 'militant' in the sense of being a combative activist in support of reason and science. However, we all know that the word 'militant' usually has negative connotations of being aggressive and frequently violent, e.g. militant islamists. In this sense the word is not at all applicable to Dawkins or the 'New Atheists'. It's a shame Richard described himself in this way as his opponents will inevitably twist his words into 'Dawkins admits to being an extremist', or some such nonsense.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 10:10:03 UTC | #932728

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 13 by mordacious1

Comment 12 by RichardC

Thanks for that link, I had actually viewed that previously and had not noticed at the time that Richard described himself as militant. I agree with your points about how the use of this term is usually viewed and the possible outcome. Richard is a bit of a wordsmith and can use terms that have different meanings than the common definitions that are popular among the general population. I would describe him as more intellectually assertive than militant.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 12:43:45 UTC | #932740

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 14 by aquilacane

On Easter Monday night Q & A will host a two-man debate between Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and outspoken, British atheist Richard Dawkins.

Why did they get all of Pell's titles but just dump atheist on Richard. Should have read:

On Easter Monday night Q & A will host a two-man debate between evolutionary biologist, author and retired Oxford Professor, Richard Dawkins and outspoken Australian theist, George Pell.

The person who actually has some authority in the matter should go first and be properly addressed. Loonies in dresses really shouldn't be allowed to speak.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 14:16:12 UTC | #932756

Sample's Avatar Comment 15 by Sample

[April 10, 2012] Sydney: And then there was one...

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God

Mike

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 14:51:23 UTC | #932761

Linda Ward's Avatar Comment 16 by Linda Ward

@ Richard, Given the nature of this weekend and that our Western nations continue to insist on a theocratic enforced public holiday it would be good to raise a couple of issues with the RC cardinal.

Currently in the UK themed passion plays based on the crucifixion tale are being acted out as public spectacle. I love theatre but do wonder if parents are allowing children to attend what is essentially snuff porn entertainment, are kids are free to watch violent films too. Should age appropriate concerns factor into religion presentations?

Why are people in the Philippines, an over populated and tremendously poor nation thanks to the interference in women being free to use reproductive technologies, allowing real torture to take place on stage? Is it right for children to watch this, they do have developing emotions that can be harmed by such trauma as the spilling of real blood.

Is it right to use this terrible imagery to tamper with the minds and emotions of children, telling them that it is a true story when there is not a shred of evidence in history of any absolutely dead thing ever resurrecting?

Why is the RC church continuing to practice magic, waving a wand while speaking special words over a snack food and presto turning it into a god for consumption?

I realize that if you ask my questions that you'll be accused of being strident, militant and insulting beliefs but should it matter when such ideologies are just plain antiquated?

The priest chatter against freedom from religion is truly aggressive and mean.

Best, Linda

p.s. Of course we all like holidays from work and surely they can be determined in an inclusive way without forcing religion. Here in Canada we have Family Day in February. A nice long weekend that all of us can enjoy.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 15:54:02 UTC | #932766

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 17 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by Linda Ward

Given the nature of this weekend and that our Western nations continue to insist on a theocratic enforced public holiday it would be good to raise a couple of issues with the RC cardinal.

It drives me batshit crazy Linda.....this is how the religiously backward operate in the 21st century, from the FB page of a local hostelry.....

Bar Opens at 12noon today Friday, for FOOD ONLY until 5pm then FULL BAR until 11pm. Someday soon these insane and outdated Easter licensing laws will have change, and so much for responsible drinking, when off licences could open from 8am today! Madness!!! So apologies to all our wonderful visitors from all over the world, here for the TITANIC Commemorations, we are Deeply sorry for any Inconvenience.

The Titanic centre just opened this week to commemorate the centenary of the big boat....this is feckin' 2012, not 1912....I wish the feckers would let the rest of us live ffs.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 17:01:21 UTC | #932774

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 18 by God fearing Atheist

Thanks in advance to the kind person who will provide the link for viewing in the UK at a sensible time.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 17:30:01 UTC | #932781

Tony d's Avatar Comment 19 by Tony d

It might be nice if RD asked the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.

According to Catholic dogma .The Virgin Mary was born without original sin.It is because of this that she was worthy to be the mother of Jesus.

Now if God could do this for Mary why not for everyone? Doing away with the need for the crucifixion.

Or he could ask the Catholic Archbishop if he believes a Zombie Jesus is still roaming the Earth.

Or he could ask him how it feels to be a bullshit merchant sitting down with a Professor.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 18:50:01 UTC | #932791

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 20 by xmaseveeve

Comment 14 aquilicane,

On Easter Monday night Q & A will host a two-man debate between evolutionary biologist, author and retired Oxford Professor, Richard Dawkins and outspoken Australian theist, George Pell.

Absoulutely. It sounds like 'this big-shot, eminent man, who is this, and that, will be talking to some silly old atheist fart'. You are so right. Shocking bias, apart from anything else. How do we complain to Australia's 'Offcom'?

Loonies in dresses really shouldn't be allowed to speak.

I do adore Dame Edna though. At least she is more herself, rather than being like a guy in a heritage village, such as New Lanark, dressed to the tens, and paid to stay in character, and programmed to answer visitors' questions, or field them, in a particular way. That's clergy - characters from history, interfering with now.

Maybe RD meant 'militant atheist' in the same way as Pat Condell embraces the word 'islamophobe'. Shouldn't we each be militant against child abuse - in Bertrand Russell's words, 'a fanatic against fanaticism'? It's right to fight against something which mis-shapes children's pliable minds and blights the lives of millions. I think the word 'atheist' is the problem, rather than the word 'militant'.

Okay, 'Agnostic' sounds wishy-washy, as if you have nothing to say - a fence-straddler, chewing a piece of straw which fell out of your own brain. Ooh, no. 'Agnostic' sounds as though you're abstaining from voting. How about 'militant secularist'? Nah, that sounds as if you want more state power. Freedomer? Too much suggestion of anarchy. 'Militant thinker?' No! Okay, it's actually both words which are the problem. How about 'Freethinker'? Thought can be militant without requiring bombs. I'd wear a teeshirt saying, 'Freethinker'. Preferably with a Siamese cat on it.

I do feel sorry for Rowan Williams though, because he at least often has the decency to seem deeply embarrassed. I'd love him to come over to our cause (secularism for all) and explain that people have the right to believe their own thing, without imposing it on others, who have that same right. Wouldn't that be great? He doesn't need any more money.

I think he knows it makes sense. Maybe once he steps out of character, peeling off the eyebrows like Dustin Hoffman's eyelashes in 'Tootsie', he'll do a Mike Yarwood (UK impressionist) and say, at the end of the show, 'This is me.' It's hard to want Rowan Williams's guts for garters. I want his hat for a handbag (fumigated for holy dandruff). Now that would hold everything, like Mary Poppins's.

Aye, hope dies hard. As they say in Glasgow, 'This is me since yisterday'. The yesterdays all join together, but, even if you've no food, there's something of comfort in the thought that we can change our minds, and still be us. Religious people - let's all be ourselves and let others do the same.

Just wakened, reading through the posts in the ethical ether, on this barometer of world thought. I'll be back... ps Crookedshoes - where are you? I've missed you recently.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 20:14:37 UTC | #932803

Sample's Avatar Comment 21 by Sample

Tony D,

That delusional woman, almost certainly incapable of giving an informed consent, in Catholic theology, is said to be the first saved by the future merits of her kid. She required a savior like everyone but was pre-saved, like pre-boarding an aircraft I suppose. Pretzel logic required a clean vessel like the spotless ark of Olden Days which housed the Almighty in a box. A box! Today the imagery has been usurped from the Jews and is called a Tabernacle in church where all the little breads are stored that don't get chomped down.

Mary also slipped into a wormhole ending up in heaven when the course of earthly life was over.

Of course it's the same thing as what you're saying, though it isn't. It's also mysterious. Cue Eddie Izzard's "wooooo...wooooo" Holy Ghost routine right about now.

Mike

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 22:24:10 UTC | #932817

archway's Avatar Comment 22 by archway

Comment 14: "The person who actually has some authority in the matter should go first and be properly addressed."

What about when neither of the chosen debaters has any authority? Bishop John Shelby Spong has authority in his Christliness, unlike Pell. Spong says we can't know what God is. Carl Jung backs him on this, another man whom I regard as having a natural authority in these matters. Yet another is Paul Tillich of Harvard. He says that to argue for the existence of God is just as blasphemous as arguing against (the charade we'll be watching Monday night). The error we make, Tillich says, is in personalizing what can't be so reduced to suit the human intellect; God isn't a person but Being itself. That sounds like authority to my inbuilt, shockproof crap detector. The only authority we can look to is in ourselves. Punch and Judy shows like this next Q&A have no relevance to the search for truth as long as they're rooted firrmly in outer direction. If George Pell were a genuine follower of Christ, he'd know what the Master meant when he assured us the Kingdom is within, not on sale down at the local church congregation. Pell would read Christ's comments on how to pray, and never be seen in a congregation ever again. But he won't. He'd rather turn up to this debate and continue the pretence that he's the man who knows. I pity poor Dawkins. Didn't any of his friends warn him about Pell?

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 23:25:53 UTC | #932825

archway's Avatar Comment 23 by archway

emphasized textBy Comment 8: ' ...when I talk about the invisible world I do not, as you assume, mean a supernatural world. The timeless facts which are symbolized by the multiplication table are invisible, but hardly supernatural.' J.B.S.Haldane.

Haldane, like most scientists, had to measure his words - as Christ did - so that dogs (uninitiated) don't make breakfast out of them. So he had difficulty talking about what his intuition makes fairly clear to any intelligent person and many not so cerebrally inclined. In the quote you submit (above), the word supernatural is used as though we all know what it means and can order another round of drinks. To me (and I'm sure it meant something similar to Haldane), it simply means the part of the natural world we don't yet understand, so we put the 'super' (meaning 'above') tag on it for tidiness (but not accuracy). We once regarded electricity as supernatural, and in many respects it still is, and will be till sicence understands it. The feel for this sort of intuitive reality comes out of this remark by Christian Morgenstern: "All secrets lie before us in perfect openness, only we gradate ourselves against them, from stone to seer. There are no mysteries as such, only uninitiated of all degrees."

If we could just get off our show ponies for a while and accept that we're all in varying states of ignorance and blind certainty, the ABC could cancel the coming Q&A debate and put on something of substance. Cartoons would be nice. As it is, we're going to be served up two black-and-whiters who can't stand truth and will bang their kerosine tins about it till the cows leave home again. There are no opposites except in this world of illusory dualism. In space there's no up or down lest we make it by a bit of sleight of hand, using our capsule designer's old notion of up and down, which is irrelevant in its new location. Grey is the mix of black and white; where both are not only tolerated but authentic contributors to the unified reality created. On Monday night we won't get closer to any truth, as promised, because the grey is intolerable to both participants. But as I said, reality is grey to our eyes, to diffuse the false polarity, but gorgeously colourful to those who sought out proper initiation.

The sad thing is that a genuine seer wouldn't get a look in at the ABC or any of the other more openly commercial anaesthetics put over our airwaves. We know what we want, and the lads will churn it out every time. We live in times when our ignorance of Nature is on the brink of deleting us and our home, and this is the best we can organize for a metaphysical discussion. God help us.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 09:23:37 UTC | #932868

CEVA34's Avatar Comment 24 by CEVA34

Archway, you have missed your vocation. You are ideally qualified for a job on a film set - operating a fog machine. How is it you cannot see the sheer silliness of the phrase "what his intuition makes clear to any intelligent person". Haldane made it quite clear what he meant by the invisible world; why do you pretend he didn't? "The part of the natural world we don't yet understand" indeed! Hasn't it filtered through to your - er - intuition, that the God of the Gaps is a clapped out concept, a steadily disintegrating substitute for thought? A genuine seer wouldn't get a look in at the ABC? What "genuine seer"? Can you give us the name and address of one?

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 18:17:54 UTC | #932919

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 25 by Mrkimbo

Don't get fancy with this fellow, Richard - he's a simple dinosaur though with the usual smooth, fingertips-judiciously-joined Catholic slipperiness. He'll probably try to make you angry, and score points that way, not having much to defend himself. Keep it simple - contraception, AIDS, women as inferior beings, gay marriage, child abuse, the supposed 'holiness' of suffering - all at the supposed behest of a non-existent being. Aussies are bored by theological debate but they are proud of their egalitarianism, have largely abandoned the church on these issues and, to put it crudely, you will score big on them.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 21:23:14 UTC | #932946

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 26 by Mrkimbo

And if it gets to the church's nasty views on sexuality, PLEASE say something in your nice, quiet, dry voice, like :

"I don't think I want to be told what is and isn't normal by a celibate man in a dress."

Please? Just for me? I've wanted to say it to this particular idiot for years. And its a comment that will cause much joy and mirth over here, as it's exactly what the average Aussie thinks about the matter.

Archway - step out the door. Smell the flowers. Breathe the air. Delight in the the sweet flight of the birds. Stop being such a sophomore.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 21:34:50 UTC | #932951

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 27 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 26 by Mrkimbo :

And if it gets to the church's nasty views on sexuality, PLEASE say something in your nice, quiet, dry voice, like :

"I don't think I want to be told what is and isn't normal by a celibate man in a dress."

Please? Just for me? I've wanted to say it to this particular idiot for years. And its a comment that will cause much joy and mirth over here, as it's exactly what the average Aussie thinks about the matter.

Richard could do a lot worse than reiterating the late American politician George Butz's famous quip in 1974 about the then Pope's attitude to birth control: "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules".

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 22:14:26 UTC | #932955

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 28 by rationalmind

Comment 27 by katy Cordeth :

Richard could do a lot worse than reiterating the late American politician George Butz's famous quip in 1974 about the then Pope's attitude to birth control: "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules".

It was Earl Butz. It is really funny but Butz's racism led to him resigning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Butz

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 23:15:25 UTC | #932963

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 29 by Katy Cordeth

@Comment 28

Thanks for that. I think I might have been mixing him up with George Lutz. The Amityville curse strikes again.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 23:49:34 UTC | #932974

Dixiedog's Avatar Comment 30 by Dixiedog

To Archway

Yes, the original inhabitants of Australia might have lived in peace and harmony (of a sort) but they also loved in a stone age society bereft of any insight into the world at large. But, of course they had knowledge far beyond modern science, of course they did. I bet that if you ever ( and I use this only as an example as I wish you no ill-will) got a serious illness, you'd be straight off to your local aboriginal healer rather than a western medical practitioner.

To claim that Richard Dawkins is some kind of no-nothing, and in effect claim that western empirical science is empty, belies an emptiness of your own. Clearly, anyone who has ever read and studied science, let alone Dawkins, would understand the foundation on which it is based. (Have a quick read of Ben Goldacre's excellent 'Bad Science' to understand how science actually works.) I can only presume you've never opened a science book.

Anyway, from an ex-catholic, nail him Richard. I'm sure that you will. You've got evidence on your side after all!!

Sun, 08 Apr 2012 00:24:10 UTC | #932984