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Go to: Richard Dawkins, the Protestant atheist

LetsHaveAnAdventure's Avatar Jump to comment 251 by LetsHaveAnAdventure

There's an old idea from the physicist Paul Dirac that disciplines which have something to say strive to make difficult ideas more comprehensible, while those with nothing to say strive for the reverse.

I think we can all reliably sort subjects like quantum physics, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, postmodern literary criticism, theology, and (most) academic philosophy into the two bins mentioned above, and it's no mystery where this article belongs.

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 23:40:35 UTC | #594708

Go to: Pat Robertson: Snow Is God's Way of Punishing Americans Planning To Drive To Do Something Gay

LetsHaveAnAdventure's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by LetsHaveAnAdventure

@Comment 1: Maybe Pat Robertson is Andy Kaufman. Has anyone ever seen them together? No? Interesting...

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 03:03:48 UTC | #578079

Go to: Richard Dawkins' Missing Link - A Book on the Evolution of Sex

LetsHaveAnAdventure's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by LetsHaveAnAdventure

John Tooby's website at UCSB says that he is currently working on such a book. For those who have either already read the contributions by Williams and Maynard Smith, or would like to start with a more recent book, hopefully this one will be out reasonably soon.

Even so, given that I could read Dawkins talking about socks for 300 pages, I'll happily add my vote to pool; a book on the evolution of sex would be wonderful. But really, another book by Dawkins about anything would be more than welcome.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 17:49:22 UTC | #577272

Go to: Richard Dawkins Answers Reddit Questions

LetsHaveAnAdventure's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by LetsHaveAnAdventure

I loved Dawkins' examples of the three big questions.

1) "How did consciousness evolve and what is consciousness?" Dan Dennett famously thinks there is no problem, but I'm not sure I agree. At least for consciousness in the sense of sentience (rather than the comparatively easy problems of the neural correlates of consciousness or the difference between conscious and unconscious processing), I think this may be the last remaining mystery. I'm referring to the often cited distinction between "problems" and "mysteries" (I believe the distinction came from Gabriel Marcel, though I don't quite like his definitions). By "problem," I mean a question whose answer is unknown, but about which enough is known that work can be done on it. The origin of the universe is (at least mostly) a problem now, in that work on quantum cosmology has suggested that a universe with zero total energy (like ours, probably) can "create itself" (see Lawrence Krauss' nice talk "A Universe from Nothing"). A mystery, however, is a question about which so little is known that we don't even know how to approach it. This doesn't mean that the answer will be forever unknown, but simply that, at this point in history, we're stumped.

2) "How did life itself begin from non-life. What was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule?" The origin of life is now a problem rather than a mystery, as the Miller-Urey experiment, as well as the work & writing of Graham Cairns-Smith and others so nicely demonstrates. Of course that doesn't mean it's not important (!) and I'm glad Dawkins included it.

3) "Why do we have sex?" I loved this answer, because it seems to suggest that he was running out of big important questions, which is a testament to how far biology has come. That's not to say that the evolution of sexual reproduction isn't a big, important problem (forgive me, ghost of George Williams!), but rather that it is most certainly a problem rather than a mystery, and it's one that some would argue has been solved.

I'd be very interested to hear Dawkins' opinions on the work by John Tooby and others on the evolution of sex (this is from the late 70s and early 80s, before his work on Evolutionary Psychology) Pathogens, Polymorphism, and the Evolution of Sex

Dawkins! If you happen to be reading this deep in a thread for some inexplicable reason, are you familiar with this work? What's your opinion of the idea (that sexual reproduction is a solution to the problem that parasites adapt to biochemically similar individuals very quickly, and so organisms need to find alleles that make changes to proteins that matter to parasites, and thus retards contagion, since the level they "care" about is low-level biochemistry, but which don't matter too much to the functional operation of the host - certain genetic variation, such as proportions of the ABO blood group, is more evenly distributed than can be reasonably accounted for by chance, which meshes quite nicely with this theory).

Sun, 12 Dec 2010 20:41:02 UTC | #562188

Go to: Pope Benedict condones condom use in some cases - book

LetsHaveAnAdventure's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by LetsHaveAnAdventure

So do all those folks serving time in hell or wherever for condom use get an upgrade? If yes, do they have their memories wiped like in "Men in Black", or do they remember that they were tortured for something that's kinda ok now? If they remember, is heaven filled with a bunch of newcomers who are pissed at the pope's contradictory infallibility? Do all the catholics who firmly believed that condom use was sinful until Joe had his book ghostwritten now agree with him? If so, is there some way we can keep these people from voting?

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 02:07:10 UTC | #550749

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