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Iain Mott's Profile

Iain Mott's Avatar Joined over 5 years ago
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Go to: Religious conversation and the Socratic method

Iain Mott's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Iain Mott

One excellent way to brush up on your debating skills, particularly with people of religion, is to find people out on the street making claims of some kind and 'show an interest'. You may find that these people want only to tell you what they think rather than engaging in a conversation. But you can always point that out to them.

Should you indulge in such activities, I have found it best to first resign myself to the idea that whilst they are unlikely to change their mind it may be beneficial for them to be on the receiving end of a graceful and firm repudiation of their claims. Furthermore, most of these people are really nice people who are, in many cases, pedalling the most appalling trash and have never really had their views repeated back to them by someone who is sceptical. If they claim to be followers of Jesus, it is often curious to note the sense of confusion they have with dealing with the passages in Matthew 5:17-20 which instructs believers in no uncertain terms to adhere with Mosaic Law, and the totalitarian nature of that law. It's funny (in a way) that if a political party produced anything so foul in their manifesto, they would be called out on it in no small measure.

For me, such arguments have challenged me to refine my thinking whilst honing my skills and manners. It's all good.

All the best.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 17:06:45 UTC | #947423

Go to: Three Developments in British Education

Iain Mott's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Iain Mott

Especially welcome news about primary schools. Looking back to my education, the extremely moderate form of Christianity into which we were hermetically sealed simply made no room for anything other than supernatural answers to such questions of existence. Almost none of my teachers were scientifically (or mathematically) literate, but now they will have to face the issue of evolution head on. If implemented thoughtfully, many of our primary teachers may be in for a very pleasant shock when they find out just how interesting a subject it is.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 16:11:19 UTC | #947417

Go to: [UPDATE 28-Oct - video added] Interview: Speaking of Memory

Iain Mott's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Iain Mott

Should people be interested, I have read Kandel's book and found it a delightful read. Much of the book is a personal history of the discoveries he made but it is told in a way that Kandel's generous and humane personality shines through.

Sat, 29 Oct 2011 01:18:19 UTC | #885134

Go to: Globalisation, Development and the Role of Religion

Iain Mott's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Iain Mott

One overflowing bookshelf in my home is dedicated to books on religion. None of it helps me understand how any given individual is going to relate to these books, but all of them help to understand history, if only the history of mythology. I have often come across a problem with discussing things with people of religion that one cannot assume much, if anything in advance about their particular beliefs, which often seem to stem from the catchphrases of whichever denomination/congregation/sect/culture they belong to. I think that Blair has a point about understanding others and not stereotyping, but this goes across the board regarding culture, education and science. (What, after all, does it mean to accept evolution whilst not having any understanding of evolution?)

But there's a reason why Blair used to known as 'Teflon Tony' and one can get a glimpse of this in the period on the video starting at 56 mins. and finishing at 1:06. Blair repeatedly pronounces elsewhere the importance of religion, but when asked specific questions about the availability of religious education (Abigail Frymann - The Tablet), the potential incompatibility of formal hierarchy (orthodoxy) and a liberal approach to religious ideology (Alistair Redfern - CofE bishop) and the importance of intra-faith dialogue (Maajid Nawaz - Quilliam Foundation), his reply seems somewhat less than inspiring. I will have to review the last 10 mins of this video tomorrow.

I re-read G.H.Hardy's Mathematicians Apology the other day and I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy plain speaking. I can take the gormless creationist fool who took on P.Z.Myers in a recently posted video, but only because it was interspersed with the good biologist himself. This first part of this video is interesting, and then we hear from Blair. Sorry.

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 21:14:01 UTC | #847078

Go to: The 100 greatest non-fiction books

Iain Mott's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Iain Mott

Comment 27 by Stefan Udrea

First Three Minutes? That'll be Steven Weinberg - top choice!!

'Twas good to see Hofstadter on the list, not so good to see Hegel. One of my favourite moments in Jacob Bronowski's television progamme (this bit isn't in the book as far as I remember) is when he's recounting Hegel's proposition regarding the number of planets there are in the solar system ('It's obvious that there are six and only six because that's the perfect number!'). Bronowski says 'Hegel,' turns to face the camera and interjects 'whose philosophy I particularly despise...' A great moment of plain speaking on television.

What about 'A Mathematician's Apology' by G H Hardy. I was thinking about this the other day when writing about 'Critical Theory' in the thread on 'Fashionable Nonsense'.

Thu, 16 Jun 2011 16:31:53 UTC | #639313

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