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Richard Dawkins and John Lennox at the Oxford University Museum - Comments

Oskar_Kennedy's Avatar Comment 1 by Oskar_Kennedy

Theologians are baffled!

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 10:47:00 UTC | #366550

alabasterocean's Avatar Comment 2 by alabasterocean

This guy is just terribly entertaining. Envy you Richard, you always get the chance to debate the most fun loving people.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 10:48:00 UTC | #366551

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 3 by DamnDirtyApe

You've a world more patience than I do for putting up with these loons, Richard.

Let the wild theological spin commence!

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:07:00 UTC | #366557

Sigmund's Avatar Comment 4 by Sigmund

First Antony Flew and now Richard!
Damn you, deistic Gods, damn you all to...errrmm
Never mind.
As you were.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:08:00 UTC | #366558

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 5 by Steve Zara

The problem is that deism is a very broad term. It covers everything from a lazy theistic god, who simply hasn't bothered to fiddle with the universe (I am sure Richard does not support that idea) to something close to pantheism, which treats god as an abstract concept identified with the laws of the universe. Pantheism is homeopathic theism - diluted to the point of non-existence.

Some forms of deism are indistinguishable from theism, as they suggest that a supreme supernatural intelligence set the universe going, having designed it so that people appeared.

My feeling is that Einstein was more of a pantheist than a deist.

I think 'deism' is a problematic idea. It still potentially implies a sky hook origin for the universe.

But I am still downloading the discussion, so I'll find out the context of the use of the term soon.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:19:00 UTC | #366560

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 6 by Follow Peter Egan

Lennox did not pick up on this at the time but, astonishingly, he made it one of his central points in a speech that he made in Inverness a few days later


...with a little help from a certain awful woman who shall remain nameless.

Richard's always interesting to listen to, but Lennox's sanctimonious tone is just irritating. His stuff on Genesis being right because the universe had a definite start is cringeworthy.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:19:00 UTC | #366561

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 7 by Rosbif

I have trouble every time I listen to this sort of debate.
Lennox believes a whole bunch of incredible rubbish about turning water in to wine and a god that sees every move we make. Even worse, he claims to know what the god wants, what god wants us to do and his religion has the mandate from god to tell us what to do.
BUT the debate is centered around whether an unknown "force" could have had an influence in the origins of the universe and if science can not identify all the origins of everything in the universe then the miracles of the bible are true and therefore religion has the right to tell us how we should live.
Lennox wants us to believe that there may be something that has had an influence in the origins of the universe and if this is so, then we are supposed to make the leap to believe that christianity knows about this force, calls it god and has details of what the god wants from all humans.
I can't make the leap. Even if there is something that influenced the constants of the universe, how does that lead to the bible being any more credible?
To me, the two are unconnected. Even if there is a god, that doesn't mean that christianity has any connection to it. Surely debating Lennox should revolve around him justifying why he believes that the miracles of the bible and even the stories of the bible come from the same being he believes adjusted physical constants in the universe.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:23:00 UTC | #366562

banksmc's Avatar Comment 8 by banksmc

Ahh I was at this debate, I will listen again with interest.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:25:00 UTC | #366566

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 9 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Steve, that's pretty good.

As far as "pantheism" goes... Well, look, Einstein famously said that it was Spinoza's "God" that he believed in, and Spinoza is generally, these days, considered (that is, labeled) a "pantheist".

But what does that even mean?

Spinoza is notoriously difficult to understand, and has been notoriously historically misinterpreted in many different ways.

Einstein, so far as I can tell from his writings (and his surprisingly adept poem about the man), had a pretty good grasp on the significance of Spinoza's "Deus".

One mistake people often make regarding Spinoza's God, given the label 'pantheist', is that Spinoza argued for a (supernatural sort of) consciousness that pervades the natural universe. This view is actually quite typical of pantheists like Ralph Waldo Emerson (a transcendentalist sort of pantheism).

Spinoza's claims about the parallelism between the mental and physical realms are probably the source of the 'pantheist' attribution, and the confusions that arise therein.

To clear this up in an abrupt and cursory way, think about Spinoza as having de-mystified and de-supernaturalized (that is, naturalizing) the referent of the term 'God', rather than the other way around as is sometimes claimed (that is, mystifying or supernaturalizing/deifying nature).

Spinoza's "Deus" is actually quite clearly and brilliantly a reductive notion, one that any scientist would have no trouble at all assenting to. One simply has to look to Spinoza's oft-repeated phrase "Deus sive Natura" (God, or rather, Nature) to see that he means by 'God' nothing more that that which is amenable to science, and knowledge in general.

It is not without good reason that "Spinozist!" was an epithet used to accuse people in the public sphere of atheism for several hundred years after the death of the man who Novalis once called a "God intoxicated man" (yes, if by "God" you mean Nature, to paraphrase Stephen Hawking and commit a justifiable anachronism!) :)

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:40:00 UTC | #366569

Pluvialis's Avatar Comment 10 by Pluvialis

Ugh, Lennox is such an unprintable buffoon. I'm only twenty or so minutes in, but it sounds like he hasn't got even the most basic grasp of evolution. What the heck have watches got to do with it?

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:41:00 UTC | #366570

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 11 by Mark Jones

Comment #383720 by Spinoza

Thanks for the Spinoza analysis, er, Spinoza :-).

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:57:00 UTC | #366572

mig...'s Avatar Comment 12 by mig...

9. Comment #383720 by Spinoza

@Spinoza "Deus" is actually quite clearly and brilliantly a reductive notion, one that any scientist would have no trouble at all assenting to. One simply has to look to Spinoza's oft-repeated phrase "Deus sive Natura" (God, or rather, Nature) to see that he means by 'God' nothing more that that which is amenable to science, and knowledge in general.@


Spinoza God

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:58:00 UTC | #366573

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 13 by Chrysippus_Maximus

@mig... Yes, exactly. Well, sort of... that's one of God's modes. :P

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:59:00 UTC | #366574

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 14 by scottishgeologist

Lennoxite "wee flea" AKA clearthinker has got some stomach churning comments on Lennox. Like this one:

Andrew Wilson’s Deluded by Dawkins majors on the Resurrection amongst other proofs; and The Dawkins Letters is an attempt to deal
systematically at a popular level with the major issues raised in The God Delusion. All are useful, but Lennox makes the set complete: now Dawkins has not got a leg to stand on. This
book should be essential reading for anyone studying science and for anyone who ever wonders about the vital question of the relationship between science and religion.

from: http://www.freechurch.org/pdf/monthlyrecord/april08.pdf

And how about this for a prayer request:

"This morning in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, as part of the Festival, Christian Dr John Lennox and “new atheist” Christopher Hitchens will debate “The New Europe should prefer the New Atheism”. Please pray that God would control this so that any who are truly looking for Him would find Him.

from:
http://www.freechurch.org/pdf/monthlyrecord/august08.pdf


(My emphases)

To which the only comment can come from Pete n Dud:

"Laugh, I nearly shat!"

:-)))))))))))
SG

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:01:00 UTC | #366575

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 15 by Steve Zara

Comment #383720 by Spinoza

Thank you for this post. Are there any good books on Spinoza's ideas that you can recommend?

Personally, I even have a problem identifying as a 'Spinozist', as I believe that much of what we think of as Nature is an illusion.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:05:00 UTC | #366576

Luis Dias's Avatar Comment 17 by Luis Dias

Pantheism is homeopathic theism - diluted to the point of non-existence.


Is this original, Steve? It's quite a good one liner!

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:09:00 UTC | #366579

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 16 by Chrysippus_Maximus

A relevant note for this conversation between Dawkins and Lennox: Spinoza's 'God' is NOT an agent.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:09:00 UTC | #366578

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment #383730 by Luis Dias

It's all mine.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:12:00 UTC | #366580

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 19 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Steve, I highly recommend a couple of books for non-philosophers on Spinoza:

Steven Nadler has an introduction to The Ethics that's very good (and his interpretation of Spinoza's work is quite similar to mine, which is good! lol).

I also really highly recommend "The Courtier and The Heretic" by Matthew Stewart.

And finally, I recommend just reading the Theological Political Treatise and Spinoza's letters yourself.

The Ethics is pretty much impenetrable without an expert guiding you (and a solid background in that era of philosophy to begin with), but the TTP is easy, and I'm sure that any member of RD.net would enjoy it and get a lot out of it.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:13:00 UTC | #366581

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 20 by scottishgeologist

Steve

Its a very good quote - I like it! Actually, I think a lot of good original quotes come out on this site - should really note them (and their authors) at the time

Cos they are really hard to find later...

Good one!

:-)
SG

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:14:00 UTC | #366582

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 21 by Diacanu

Steve Zara-


much of what we think of as Nature is an illusion.


By what reckoning?

We're part of the illusion, so finding a perch from which to call it an illusion is as hopeless as Super Mario trying to crawl off the screen by hopping really, really hard.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:16:00 UTC | #366584

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 22 by Diacanu

Oh, and seconded what Luis said.
Great line.
:)

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:19:00 UTC | #366586

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 23 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Diacanu, I was under the impression that Steve meant that scientific paradigms are necessarily filtered through our cognitive apparatus, and therefore in a literal sense "illusory", not in a pejorative sense, but simply as a matter of fact.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:20:00 UTC | #366587

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 25 by Steve Zara

Comment #383735 by Diacanu

Newton considered Nature to be some kind of celestial clockwork mechanism, that had to be maintained somehow. It turns out that most of his laws are simply what happens when there is nothing going on. This is why I am cautious even about pantheism: there is little enough even to provide the basis for an abstract god of the laws of the universe.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:22:00 UTC | #366590

mig...'s Avatar Comment 24 by mig...

22. Comment #383737 by Diacanu


Ah... he just said Atheism with Style...

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:22:00 UTC | #366589

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 26 by Diacanu

Spinoza-


Diacanu, I was under the impression that Steve meant that scientific paradigms are necessarily filtered through our cognitive apparatus, and therefore in a literal sense "illusory", not in a pejorative sense, but simply as a matter of fact.


Yeah, but,....ah, forget it, I'm a dumbass, and I'm tired.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:23:00 UTC | #366591

alabasterocean's Avatar Comment 27 by alabasterocean

Steve Zara
Were did you get that T-shirt? I love it!

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:28:00 UTC | #366593

LittleFluffyClouds's Avatar Comment 28 by LittleFluffyClouds

You're all just being willfully ignorant.

Romans one clearly states that the divine nature and vast power of God is perfectly obvious from the form of the universe, and that you're all just being pricks, despite knowing full well that God exists and he wants you to submit to him.

You best stop that atheism before god gives you over to homosexuality and a depraved mind like he did with folks back then.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:29:00 UTC | #366594

mig...'s Avatar Comment 29 by mig...

28. Comment #383745 by LittleFluffyClouds


Religious Republicans like sex with other men in bathrooms

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:32:00 UTC | #366596

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 30 by Steve Zara

Comment #383744 by alabasterocean

http://store.xkcd.com/

My husband bought it for me (I refuse to use the term 'civil partner').

xkcd.com is a great site. It has some wonderful and witty science-based cartoons.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 12:33:00 UTC | #366597