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Dawkins says religion is 'like sucking a dummy' - Comments

RascoHeldall's Avatar Comment 1 by RascoHeldall

It is a harsh analogy, but as far as I can see, an entirely fair one. What other possible explanation can there be for the phenomenon of educated, intelligent adults clinging to such puerile mythologies, when all sense and reason would surely lead them to conclude such fantasies are obviously false?

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 01:49:00 UTC | #26067

Homo economicus's Avatar Comment 2 by Homo economicus

True, the comfort blanket of faith is a dulling of the senses to human life. We have to face up to what needs doing now, not keep our eyes on a prize that no body has any real proof will be.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:00:00 UTC | #26068

Myryama's Avatar Comment 3 by Myryama

Are those voting figures correct? Looks like there were a couple of hundred extra votes the second time round...

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:05:00 UTC | #26069

Bill Lees's Avatar Comment 4 by Bill Lees

Julia Neuberger and Roger Scruton, eh? I can well understand if those two got RD's back up. The religious "gene" is in all of us, indeed. What utter cobblers.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:10:00 UTC | #26070

Roy_H's Avatar Comment 5 by Roy_H

I have often thought that myself actually, a dummy or a comfort blanket.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:20:00 UTC | #26072

MartinSGill's Avatar Comment 6 by MartinSGill

Those figures are just wrong. There's a difference of 212 votes between the two sets of values.

Has someone been cooking the books? (and were they tasty?)

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:28:00 UTC | #26074

MouthAlmighty's Avatar Comment 8 by MouthAlmighty

More sloppy journalism; Dawkins did indeed say these things, but as I read it the dummy analogy was merely a means of succinctly summarising the arguments presented by his opponents. There are times when perhaps he'd do well to moderate his tone without weakening his argument but this wasn't one of them.

Anyway to be fair - the speakers against the motion did do a fairly good job of presenting all the best attributes of mankind; compassion, empathy, yearning, creativity, courage, etc.. failing only to acknowledge that upon all these things organised religion is parasitic.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:39:00 UTC | #26076

beeline's Avatar Comment 7 by beeline

Perhaps more people were inclined to vote (rather than voting 'don't know') after having heard the debate...

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:39:00 UTC | #26075

TheRationalist's Avatar Comment 9 by TheRationalist

The votes don't add up (I would guess) because of late arrivals.

The figures are most encouraging, nevertheless, because they demonstrate that an open minded audience is more likely to respond to clear sighted arguments against superstition than the deliberate confusions manufactured by superstition in its defence.

Those atheists prepared to speak out against religious doctrine take note. You are being accused of shrillness, repetition, rudeness, blandness and a propensity to suicidal nihilism. This is merely an indication of your success. People are beginning to listen and you are winning the argument. The superstitious are rattled.

Keep up the good work. There is still much to be done, however, as the following comment made by an indignant mother in my son's school playground this morning will demonstrate.

"I'm not having a four year old saying "fuck": it's blasphemous!"

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:02:00 UTC | #26078

BaronOchs's Avatar Comment 10 by BaronOchs

Allright I'm listening to the podcast now . . .

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:05:00 UTC | #26080

rationalteacher's Avatar Comment 11 by rationalteacher

I read Ruth Gledhill's blog. She makes some pleasant, conciliatory noises and compliments Richard on his attitude and humour, but, as with so many dim-witted religious types, she scuppers all this by her categorical assertion, with no evidence or argument whatsoever, that actually God certainly exists.

Oh, okay then, that's that sorted out then. Cheers.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:11:00 UTC | #26083

humanist's Avatar Comment 12 by humanist

I was at the debate - the 2 votes were taken in different manners. The first was taken by people with clipboards on the way in; so I guess a lot of people would have been missed. The second vote was made by placing a yes/no card (the entrance ticket was perforated into 2 sections) into a ballot box passed around the auditorium.

I suggested that it was unfair on the 'against' side of the debate, as when a box with a hole in it got passed to the believers, they'd unthinkingly put £5 in it....

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:25:00 UTC | #26085

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 13 by Cook@Tahiti

What would be really be interesting is a breakdown of religious conviction per:

Age group.
Political affiliation.
Income.
Education.
IQ.
Levels of oxytocin, cortisol, and other neurotransmitters and hormones.
Parents' religion.
Scientific literacy.

The correlations (if any, but I would assume there are many) would be fascinating.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:35:00 UTC | #26087

Skeptic Jim's Avatar Comment 14 by Skeptic Jim

>What other possible explanation can there be for the phenomenon of educated, intelligent adults clinging to such puerile mythologies, when all sense and reason would surely lead them to conclude such fantasies are obviously false?

I have one...

Not only is the emperor naked but he's also playing with himself.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:40:00 UTC | #26090

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 15 by ksskidude

"I suggested that it was unfair on the 'against' side of the debate, as when a box with a hole in it got passed to the believers, they'd unthinkingly put £5 in it...." humanist LMOA

I guess Dawkins could compare having belief to the Peanuts character Linus and his blanket. Would that have been better?
Or I know what about The Great Pumpkin. Linus in all in splendor, goes to a pumpkin patch every Hallowen and waits patiently for the great pumpkin to appear, but alas every year he is disappointed. But he never wavers despite all the ridicule from his peers.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:41:00 UTC | #26091

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 16 by Cook@Tahiti

I was at this debate and the three opponents of the motion (the defenders of religion) redefined religion as "transcendence". The Supreme Being was expendable. The Church was Expendable. And the Afterlife was expendable.

All that was defended was a vague notion to do good, a warm fuzzy feeling when two eyes look back at you, and a sense of something more.

That's not really Religion. So it's a victory of sorts, as Steven Weinberg suggested in the TLS's review of The God Delusion...

http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25349-2552017,00.html

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:42:00 UTC | #26092

BaronOchs's Avatar Comment 17 by BaronOchs

Damn it I'm already irritated. Nigel Spivey says we need religion and is citing Van Gogh as an example of what he means.

Frankly I'd say fine have religion just throw out all the supernatural stuff. Dawkins says in TGD that he's no problem with non-supernatural Einsteinian religion. As for the "religion" in Van Gogh's work I'd say it expresses a great love of life and the world. Which is fine, what's that got to do with virgin births and afterlifes and petitionary prayer?

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:45:00 UTC | #26093

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 18 by Cook@Tahiti

17. BaronOchs - someone should have pointed to all the great secular art, architecture, music, etc.

In any case, you can appreciate Wagner operas or Lord of the Rings without actually believing any of the mythology as being true. No one is saying all art has to be based on objective reality and literal truth.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:53:00 UTC | #26094

mmurray's Avatar Comment 19 by mmurray

I was at this debate and the three opponents of the motion (the defenders of religion) redefined religion as "transcendence". The Supreme Being was expendable. The Church was Expendable. And the Afterlife was expendable.

All that was defended was a vague notion to do good, a warm fuzzy feeling when two eyes look back at you, and a sense of something more.

That's not really Religion. So it's a victory of sorts,



With some of these people it's also just a tactical retreat. When they are arguing with Dawkins or someone intelligent they go all mushy and god gets all vague and woolly so there is nothing left to argue about. When they are back amongst the true believers it's organised religion, new testament, virgin birth and lots of rules.

Slippery buggers.

Michael

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:59:00 UTC | #26096

BaronOchs's Avatar Comment 20 by BaronOchs

"Plato found ordinary humanity to be a profound disappointment, as do most of the speakers of the other side"

Manifestly false.

It's religions that have said this life is unsatisfactory and only a heavenly afterlife can provide true happiness (for the few blessed souls who attain it).

Of course that great religious thinker Augustine completely agreed with Plato.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 04:15:00 UTC | #26098

AdrianB's Avatar Comment 21 by AdrianB

Yes, we are definitely seeing a pattern emerge now in debates between believers and atheists/agnostics. "Well that's not the God that I know" is the usual retort.

Now that we have 30,000 different denominations of Christianity, and the leader of one of them can't decide if hell is real or not, we can now see that the theists are on the back foot.

In reality every believer has their own personal religion. How many religions are there? About 4 billion I would suggest.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 04:19:00 UTC | #26099

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 22 by Oromasdes1978

I really hate this propounding of Professor Dawkins as a "fundamentalist atheist" in every single article I read about him, you want a fundie, go look at the Ugly section of Good, Bad & Ugly!

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 04:29:00 UTC | #26102

mikeshin's Avatar Comment 23 by mikeshin

Even if there is a 'religious gene' and it is in all of us, god is still imaginary. Of course I am sure I don't have this particular genetic defect.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 04:35:00 UTC | #26103

anotherclinton's Avatar Comment 24 by anotherclinton

Pardon my American origins here, but to me, a "dummy" is a mute (in old-timey politically incorrect speach), a stupid person (in playground speach) or a kind of mannequin meant to simulate human movement for the purposes of film (say you don't want to throw Judi Dench down the stairs, you dress up a dummy like her instead). I can't imagine Richard was talking about sucking anyone of these, so enlighten me as to the nature of a "dummy".

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 05:01:00 UTC | #26105

don malvado's Avatar Comment 25 by don malvado

@ AnotherClinton, You'd say pacifier.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 05:12:00 UTC | #26107

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 26 by Cook@Tahiti

Compare Hitchen's closing remarks in his first speech (about atheism not being responsible for Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc, etc) with Scruton's closing remarks at the end... he completely ignored what Hitchens said and trotted out the same old lines. It's like they weren't even in the same room.

In any case, even if Scruton's comments were true, this is like saying we shouldn't get rid of HIV, because people would suffer from TB, Malaria, Typhoid, Dysentery, etc.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 05:23:00 UTC | #26109

Mark R's Avatar Comment 27 by Mark R

As far as having a Religion Gene, Could it be that the gene is all about really believing in something in general rather than a religion. Our 4 children have not been brought up on religion and do not have a desire to follow religion as belief. I could have a the so called Religion gene but its not religion i believe. My wifes parents are Catholic and my parents anglican so if a gene is what makes you believe in reliogn one or all of us must have it within the family.
So maybe the naming of the gene religion is incorrect.Maybe the Belief Gene is more appropriate.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 05:29:00 UTC | #26111

Fishpeddler's Avatar Comment 28 by Fishpeddler

Our genes may well predispose us to religious belief. Fortunately, we all share a trait which helps counteract this effect -- the gag reflex.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 05:47:00 UTC | #26112

Fishpeddler's Avatar Comment 29 by Fishpeddler

Comment #28405 by Rtambree raises an important point about the 'God' that is being debated. My limited experience has shown that the god being defended by theists in just about any debate of this type could be defined as "something other than whatever the atheist just persuasively argued against". I'm sick of them taking advantage of the vagueness of the concept. They remind me of my brother in the old days:

"You can borrow my bike if you can do 50 push-ups right now without stopping."

50 push-ups later...

"I meant with one arm. Anyone can do 50 REGULAR push-ups."

I don't know why an atheist would still participate in these debates without insisting that the theists' god be defined in advance.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 06:07:00 UTC | #26117

sane1's Avatar Comment 30 by sane1

Religious gene? How about "gullible gene"?

Or maybe the gene to think we are of above average intelligence. That seems to lead hordes of people astray too.

I think I have a gene for thinking religoius people are basing their life on hooey. Or maybe I just have genes for actually liking and understanding logic.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 06:12:00 UTC | #26119