This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← The Dawkins Challenge

The Dawkins Challenge - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

" If Dawkins and Krauss want to understand what Catholics believe, there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves."

Read that far and no further. If I had a nickle.......

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:06:28 UTC | #947279

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 2 by The Truth, the light

The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.

Excellent word salad.

Translated:

The wafer really is the flesh of a Jewish zombie. Just because there's absolutely no change, we've invoked magic, so therefore it exists. Really! We also believe homoeopathy is real too.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:10:51 UTC | #947282

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 3 by Andrew B.

The rationale behind the doctrine, which is known as transubstantiation, employs categories of substance and accident, which have their origin in the philosophy of Aristotle. According to the Church, the underlying substances of bread and wine are replaced by the body and blood of Christ while the external appearances of bread and wine remain. A scientific analysis of the consecrated host and wine would only detect these external appearances.

So, is he a proponent of substance dualism, then? I suppose we need a preliminary discourse as to why spiritual substances isn't just something somebody made up, which I'm sure would require legions of sophisticated theologians.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:14:13 UTC | #947285

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

This guy writes for "The Catholic Thing"?

That's one of the problems. Too many altar boys have seen "The Catholic Thing".

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:16:49 UTC | #947287

prietenul's Avatar Comment 5 by prietenul

Hey, there is some guy at that webpage who claims Pope Paul VI saw a human heart pumping away in a holy wafer under a microscope. This could be the evidence we've been waiting for!

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:25:59 UTC | #947291

OHooligan's Avatar Comment 6 by OHooligan

"To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth".

Er, OK, I think I (sort of) get the point. More things in Heaven and Earth etc. (re)define Truth to mean what we say it means. Well, natural science does that too, doesn't it? Or does it?

And what's wrong with homoeoeoeopathy (love those o-e-o-e-o bits) anyway? It's great. It's the only medicine that has absolutely no side effects. Nearly as good as placebos, and a lot easier to get hold of. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a pharmacy that stocks placebos? Or a doctor willing to prescribe them?). I suppose I could buy my placebos online, but how can I be sure I won't get scammed with some rubbish that doesn't work?

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:30:20 UTC | #947292

TomGoodfellow's Avatar Comment 7 by TomGoodfellow

"Truth" - I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:43:49 UTC | #947297

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by God fearing Atheist

According to the Church, the underlying substances of bread and wine are replaced by the body and blood of Christ while the external appearances of bread and wine remain.

According to the old lady down the road, when she sticks a pin in the doll made from the hair and nail clippings of her old enemy George, George feels pain.

When you put ointment on the sword that caused the wound, the wound heals.

These, and similar tricks, are called "sympathetic magic" (I think).

Isn't such old mumbo-jumbo jolly quaint?

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:43:59 UTC | #947298

GeeBee's Avatar Comment 9 by GeeBee

How embarrassment.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 00:51:55 UTC | #947303

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 10 by Philoctetes

"If Dawkins and Krauss want to understand what Catholics believe, there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves."

And the "Faith" answer is?

Anything we choose to imagine. er.... that's it, just because it is an indefensible worldview from an ancient world of superstition, magic and ignorance, doesn't mean that it still can't trump the demonstrably derived factual data. The trump is "well our science does not actually give the answer to every nuance of the universe, therefore our imagination does. QED."

Or to put it another way we will continue to to deny evidence not because we can't face the truth, but because we can't admit that we might be wrong.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 01:20:01 UTC | #947305

Net's Avatar Comment 11 by Net

Dawkins and Krauss would first have to see that there is more to what we know about the world than what the natural sciences tell us.

This seems to imply that Dawkins and Krauss do not see that there is more to what we know about the world than what the natural sciences tell us. However, I am sure that these two gentlemen would be the first to admit that science does not have all the answers. Science does, however, provide us with more and better answers about reality than religion ever has or ever could. Furthermore, science is not beyond "changing its mind" in the face of new evidence. This attitude is integral to science but it is not at all integral to religion; least of all catholicism.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 01:28:47 UTC | #947306

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 12 by QuestioningKat

comment 2

is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis.

So they are saying transfiguration literally turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ -----metaphysically?...................?........................? That's like saying I have a giant rabbit sitting next to me...it is of real bones, blood, and fur, but it's invisible....revealing itself only to the True believer???? Here is that invisible hole in our head channeling the invisible "divine wisdom" from the ethers.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 01:57:12 UTC | #947309

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 13 by Laurie Fraser

The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.

Word salad indeed. Reading this, one can see from where the language of PoMo is derived.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 02:02:15 UTC | #947310

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 14 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Catholics need to be ready to take up this challenge. The arguments in theology and philosophy may not seem compelling – or even worthy of rational attention – to Dawkins and his followers. But informed Catholics ought to be far better prepared to use reason itself to defend what they believe on faith.

But they don't use reason, that's the whole point. If they did they wouldn't be so quick to believe ridiculous things.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 02:10:16 UTC | #947312

Hamilton Jacobi's Avatar Comment 15 by Hamilton Jacobi

The vocabulary of faith, like that of physics, needs to be understood in technical terms. But Dawkins does not allow for the kind of specialized vocabulary in theology and philosophy that he is so willing to grant to physics.

I think Dawkins would be quite happy if theologians would use the same "specialized vocabulary" -- i.e., mathematics -- that is used in physics. Go for it, Mr Carroll. Show us your equations for the basic laws of theology. Derive from them an unambiguous set of predictions, and explain precisely what tests we can perform to determine whether these predictions are true or false. We're all waiting.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 02:14:21 UTC | #947313

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

" If Dawkins and Krauss want to understand what Catholics believe, there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves."

Read that far and no further. If I had a nickle.......

It's a painfully common response, and it really is utter tripe. Nevertheless, I think it's helpful to be able to respond to it.

Of course, it's wrong to say only the natural sciences reach truth. There are other ways to get truth. Mathematics and logic get us to truth without the need for any observations of the physical world.

What science uniquely does is to help us determine what is true about what is real. The only way we can have confidence about what is real is through science, because science is a system of bypassing the fallible perceptions of human senses and minds.

Much is said about the nature of science by theologians, and it's invariably nonsense. Science doesn't assume that the world is natural (whatever that is supposed to mean). Science doesn't assume anything at all. Science's power is science's simplicity. Science asks simple questions, such as "show me that again", and "do you see that too?" Science would be the only way to know what is real even if we lived in a reality full of angels and demons, because we could no more trust our perceptions in that reality than in the one we live in. That we live in a reality of physical laws as against supernatural minds is not an assumption of science, but the conclusion of science.

There is no need for a specialised vocabulary of faith. Everyday words will do, such as delusion, deception, evasion, and confusion. In articles like this we see the desperation of those who support crackpot beliefs as they try and put up a smokescreen of theology to defend the ridiculous.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 02:41:01 UTC | #947316

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 17 by Cartomancer

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This guy calls himself an academic? Academia should be ashamed...

Dawkins and Krauss would first have to see that there is more to what we know about the world than what the natural sciences tell us.

Is there? Like what for instance? What the social sciences tell us? Sure. What the humanities tell us? Yes, that too. But those are still rational, evidence-based disciplines. Everything we truly KNOW about the world comes from reason and evidence. Theology does not contribute anything to our knowledge of the world because it doesn't have a valid epistemological basis. It has no evidence and its reasoning is deeply flawed

there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves.

Yes, and? That's very much a philosophical claim we'd like to make thank you. If you haven't got reason and evidence then you haven't got a valid epistemology, you haven't got a way of approaching truth. There is no "richer sense of rationality" because the evidence-based world view of science is already maximally rich in rationality. How can you get more rational than completely rational? What additional element could you incorporate into the pure rationality of science to improve its rationality? That's like trying to saturate an already saturated solution, kill someone who is already dead or teach someone a language they already know.

The vocabulary of faith, like that of physics, needs to be understood in technical terms. But Dawkins does not allow for the kind of specialized vocabulary in theology and philosophy that he is so willing to grant to physics.

Oh, Richard is more than willing to grant that theology has its own specialised vocabulary. Of course it does. What he is not willing to grant is that said specialised vocabulary is in any way consonant with the way the world actually works as revealed by methods which do have a valid, empirical, epistemological basis. Merely having a specialised vocabulary does not mean your vocabulary is of any use. Star Trek fans have their own specialised vocabulary, but that doesn't mean Romulan cloaking devices are real.

The specialised vocabulary of physics is constantly, minutely, incessantly and unforgivingly subjected to tests against reality to see if it is useful. Theological vocabulary is made up on the spot and left to fester, or else borrowed from other disciplines (Aristotelian natural philosophy for instance) and then left to fester just the same. The Aristotelian categories of substance and accident were cutting-edge science once, about 800 years ago. They really were. To a Europe working mostly on neoplatonic ideas they were a very promising and seemingly much more apt description of reality than what could be cobbled together from half of Plato's Timaeus and bits of Augustine, Macrobius and Martianus Capella. But science has moved on since the Twelfth Century.. Science has realised that there are much better, much more relevant, much more accurate ways to talk about reality - not by simple fiat but by examining that very reality in ever greater detail.

The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.

The fundamental question here is still not answered though - how do you know that this is true? How do you know that the wafer on the altar cannot be fully understood by usual means? Theology makes it intelligible, apparently. But how does theology separate what is true from what is not? What valid method does a theologian bring in to settle this question? Many theologians don't believe there is anything more than symbolism to the Eucharist, so who is right and how do we tell? The answer is that they're all just making stuff up based on wish-fulfilment and make-believe. There is no compelling reason to believe that there is anything more to the Eucharist than ordinary matter behaving as ordinary matter does. All theology does is tell fantastical, unevidenced stories about what's happening. One might as well say that Danish history cannot be properly understood without Shakespeare's Hamlet, or the true nature of King's Cross Railway Station without Harry Potter.

The arguments in theology and philosophy may not seem compelling – or even worthy of rational attention – to Dawkins and his followers. But informed Catholics ought to be far better prepared to use reason itself to defend what they believe on faith.

And there's the rub you see - if there's a rational reason to believe something then you don't need and indeed can't have faith in it - you just believe it because it is rationally apparent. By definition, if you believe it on faith then you don't have a rational justification for it. Faith and reason are polar opposites. Reason precludes faith, faith is incompatible with reason. And until you realise this and stop trying to pollute the well of rational inquiry into the world with the poison of unevidenced fable there is no reason why we or anyone else should take your arguments seriously.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:15:20 UTC | #947318

AULhall's Avatar Comment 18 by AULhall

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

" If Dawkins and Krauss want to understand what Catholics believe, there would have to be preliminary discourse about a richer sense of rationality, one not limited to the natural sciences. To say that only the natural sciences reach truth is to make a philosophical claim about truth, which goes beyond the sciences themselves."

Read that far and no further. If I had a nickle.......

I rewatched the excellent "Putting faith in its place" video by YouTuber QualiaSoup the other day. It seems to address Mr. Carroll's fallacious reasoning on this topic quite nicely.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:22:50 UTC | #947319

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 19 by susanlatimer

Comment 17 by Cartomancer

Cartomancer, that was beautiful.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:31:45 UTC | #947321

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 20 by Katy Cordeth

In Australia, Dawkins observed that to take seriously the views of contemporary science, especially the cosmology that argues about getting something from “absolutely nothing,” we need to be willing to move well beyond our “common sense” understandings of the world. In this particular case, we will otherwise misunderstand what physicists like Krauss mean by “nothing.” According to Dawkins, the “whole point of modern physics is that you cannot do it by ‘common sense.’”

This from a man who ridiculed the use of the word “body” in Catholic teaching about the Eucharist because it went against common sense. The vocabulary of faith, like that of physics, needs to be understood in technical terms. But Dawkins does not allow for the kind of specialized vocabulary in theology and philosophy that he is so willing to grant to physics.

I take this (the part I've highlighted) to mean that in order to understand modern physics one has to stop thinking along linear, intuitive lines and embrace thinking processes which may at first seem illogical.

What William Carroll (interesting surname by the way; a spiritual descendant of the Rev. Dodgson?) seems to be saying is that because Richard and others are forced to dispense with the common sense approach in order to get to grips with one particularly esoteric discipline, they should be expected to reject rationality when dealing with everything, including religion. But it's a false equivalence; and some things can be approached from a purely logical, common sense position. Religion is patently silly, and just doesn't require any deeper, logic-subverting change in the thinking process in order to understand its inherent silliness.

Only those who are viewing religion from the inside out are blind to this, because most of them have been brought up to take this stuff seriously. And I don't think they can necessarily be blamed for getting umpty when others see what they believe - no, not believe, know - to be true as unscientific, nonsensical balls. To them it is scientific and logical, because their minds have been conditioned to accept it as such.

Edit: I should try and schedule the posting of my comments on a thread to a time when both Steve Zara and Cartomancer are not commenting. I might as well be confessing to a murder. Or is it may as well? Ah, I feel stupid again.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:47:09 UTC | #947324

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 21 by Tyler Durden

The noted atheist Richard Dawkins has been very active recently in his campaign to discredit religious belief, in particular Christianity, and Roman Catholicism has been a special target.

The RCC is doing a fine job all by itself discrediting religious belief, Dawkins is simply penning the eulogy.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 05:46:42 UTC | #947331

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 22 by Tyler Durden

Comment 13 by Laurie Fraser :

The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.

Word salad indeed. Reading this, one can see from where the language of PoMo is derived.

In other news, the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin has been confirmed, or not.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 06:08:51 UTC | #947335

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 23 by sunbeamforjeebus

Oh it's a SACRAMENTAL presence,why didn't you say so! All these beautiful women that keep coming to my bedroom in the middle of the night, now I know I'm not just imagining it, they're SACRAMENTAL!!

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 06:49:37 UTC | #947337

YHWH's Avatar Comment 24 by YHWH

I think you've all missed a very obvious explanation.

Jesus is made of bread.

(and wine).

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 06:59:42 UTC | #947338

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 25 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 24 by YHWH :

I think you've all missed a very obvious explanation.

Jesus is made of bread.

(and wine).

White bread, presumably. None of that nasty unleavened brown-people bread. And the big J is considered a prophet in Islam so it must be non-alcoholic wine that makes up the rest of him. Ah, 'tis a theological minefield to be sure.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 07:11:06 UTC | #947339

YHWH's Avatar Comment 26 by YHWH

The real miracle is not transubstantiation.

The real miracle is that he hasn't gone soggy.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 07:12:39 UTC | #947340

jel's Avatar Comment 27 by jel

The word to describe this is "deepity".

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 07:27:41 UTC | #947341

capetownian's Avatar Comment 28 by capetownian

I think you are all missing the point here! What they claim with reference to Jebus etc., has to be said in order to validate their business, which as we know ,is a very lucrative "business". They will keep on with their illogical bullshit to protect their financial interests - regardless of what we say here or in any other forum. Listening to what some priests have said, after publicly admitting to losing their "faith", it is fairly obvious that there are many more out there who would to, but are unable to do anything about it - financial and/or fear of retribution and exclusion from their families and communities... We all know that this can only start to change if children are not indoctrinated by parents and religious authorities - and this process is unlikely to succeed as long as the tight control exercised by these same authorities keeps the real truth at bay. That's my rant for the day - this whole frustrating issue gets a bit too much at times!

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 07:44:39 UTC | #947342

YHWH's Avatar Comment 29 by YHWH

Comment 25 by katy Cordeth :

Comment 24 by YHWH :

I think you've all missed a very obvious explanation.

Jesus is made of bread.

(and wine).

White bread, presumably. None of that nasty unleavened brown-people bread. And the big J is considered a prophet in Islam so it must be non-alcoholic wine that makes up the rest of him. Ah, 'tis a theological minefield to be sure.

Thinking this through some more, suddenly it's all becoming clear. When He said "This is my body" he wasn't being figurative at all.

My spirit leaps with new found joy and hope. Could there now be a genuine rapprochement between the Pope and Pastafarianism? FSM being of one substance with the Father (nearly).

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 08:06:17 UTC | #947344

JackR's Avatar Comment 30 by JackR

What always amazes me about these self-deluding pseuds is that they seem smart enough to write articulately but not smart enough to be embarrassed about the utter guff they write.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 09:09:07 UTC | #947348