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Dialogue of Reason: Science and Faith in the Black Community - Comments

Logicel's Avatar Comment 1 by Logicel

"Give me Richard Wright over Paul any day." Bravo, Pinn!

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 21:14:02 UTC | #536467

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 2 by Daisy Skipper

Is Pinn wearing an 'A' on his lapel? I thought he was some kind of christian?

Anyway, it's an important topic and one to which, I'm embarrassed to admit, given little thought. I thought it was nice seeing christians there who were actually interested in the dialogue. Surely that's a first step to abandoning faith altogether.

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 23:25:45 UTC | #536541

green and dying's Avatar Comment 3 by green and dying

This was really really interesting, thank you.

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 23:35:46 UTC | #536545

helena!'s Avatar Comment 4 by helena!

I'm so thrilled - a new video! Watching now so far fantastic. Excellent quality and sound. Thank you very much for posting and making these Richard!

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 00:05:06 UTC | #536557

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 5 by Cartomancer

It strikes me as interesting to compare the situation regarding religiosity in black and other ethnic minority communities with that in non-ethnic minority communities. It has been my experience of the gay community, for instance, both in the real world and on the internet, that religiosity is very much the exception, and often regarded with some hostility. I would be intrigued to find out about levels of religiosity among the disabled community also, especially given the attention disability receives in religious texts and thinking, from the prohibitions against disabled people entering the temples in the old testament to phenomena such as Lourdes.

Of course, one could say that religiously inspired racism is no longer a ubiquitous phenomenon in today's Britain, America or Europe, while religiously inspired homophobia very much is. But that still leaves the question of why ethnic minority communities ended up cleaving to religion as their source of cultural identity during the years when there WAS religious racism all over the place, while gay people and others do not now.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 01:12:42 UTC | #536591

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 6 by Alternative Carpark

My, word! I really feel spoilt with all these videos today.

The day is flying by.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 05:45:44 UTC | #536642

i_am_user's Avatar Comment 7 by i_am_user

Not a fan of the moderator. What area is he in grad school for?

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 05:57:46 UTC | #536644

twotonkatrucks's Avatar Comment 8 by twotonkatrucks

Anthony Pinn describes himself as a humanist and many of his scholarly work is focused on the history of African American humanism.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 06:25:33 UTC | #536646

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan Canon

The woman in the middle...it seems like she was speaking mostly in buzzwords. I don't think she was necessarily being obscurantist, but her speech was obfuscatory, or non-plain-spoken to my ears, as if only a subject-matter expert could understand what she was saying. I often get this feeling when I hear workers in the "social sciences" speak. It leaves me with the nagging suspicion that even they don't know what they're saying, or that what they're saying could be expressed far more clearly in far fewer words. The opposite seems to be the case with physical scientists, where a fancy word, if used, is immediately followed by at least a summary definition in as close to lay terms as may be.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 07:43:00 UTC | #536657

sbooder's Avatar Comment 10 by sbooder

What an enjoyable video.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 08:21:52 UTC | #536669

Logicel's Avatar Comment 11 by Logicel

Per Pinn's wiki article, he regards humanism as a religion. Despite his almost contagious enthusiasm, I can't see that approach as being very productive in the long run. But it may be very useful at present. The human species needs to grow up, but perhaps in the transition period, they can get away with applying the occasional dodgy method.

He made some very astute points, especially that atheism is not some white perspective being forced on Blacks, but rather, historically, it was always there, but not known or appreciated (esp the roles of some prominent minds behind the Civil Rights Movement which is a point that Hitchens often makes). Another lucid point is the very prevalent anti-gay sentiment in the black community comes from their wanting to be accepted as normal, as respectable, etc.

I thought the moderator was doing more than moderating. He was a cheer leader in the sense that he wants the present discussion to continue in some lasting way. However, he did ask some very good questions. The guy off on the left however, I have no idea what he was about! Very pleasant, though. And style-wise he was at the extreme opposite of Hutchinson and their polarity resulted in his honestly saying, no that does not answer the question which made me chuckle.

Hutchinson's style I am letting sink in. She is not a total turn off, but I did need to translate her jargon from time to time. Her constant, circular, hand-moving, deep, no-nonsense voice, and her somewhat stilted vocabulary gives off a very singular impression of authenticity. She tries to pull her audience in as deeply as she is immersed in the topic, which can backfire I suppose.

Richard and Todd were very capable and I adored Richard's emphasizing that truth is what matters to him and that he is sure that he would on that basis win arguments with Christians.

Very thought provoking comment, Carto. I hope others will run with some of the points you have made.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 09:41:01 UTC | #536697

RDfan's Avatar Comment 12 by RDfan

Hey, I thought Howard was a "black" college? I would never have guessed judging from the random glimpses we had of the audience! They could also do with a better moderator next time.

The trouble with some social sciences, as exhibited by Hutchinson's post-modern, post-colonial/gender/racial theory NEWSPEAK, is that you get the feeling that they are just whistling in the dark especially because they don't do any actual experiments, hardly rely on statistical data, mathematical analysis or any of the other tools that modern science uses to prevent us from making up stuff.

As RD said shortly before the "discussion" began: Science 100 Theology 0. Game over.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 12:38:50 UTC | #536744

skunque's Avatar Comment 13 by skunque

I was in the audience for this (no, I'm neither black nor a Howard student) because I thought it was a great topic to explore. I am very glad that cracks are starting to show in what Pinn calls the "PR Machine" of the black church. Hutchinson is someone I first discovered through the Richard Dawkins site, and I've enjoyed her articles. In person yes, there was a lot of newspeak, and it made it a bit harder to parse than the other panelists.

In all, I'm glad I stayed for the second event (Dawkins' and Neil Tyson's "Poetry of Science" was earlier in the day), even though my friends and I had to kill a few hours in between. Although this talk certainly wasn't a "debate", each of the panelists kind of complemented one another by way of background and experience. The Q&A from this talk was a lot more thoughtful and on topic than at the noon event. Way too many people at "Poetry of science" thought it was acceptable to hijack the microphone to ask piddling questions about what to do about obnoxious theist relatives, or (in one case) a religious troll who entirely failed to "stump" Neil Tyson with fear tactics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afGkv0IT4dU

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 13:17:31 UTC | #536757

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 14 by Rob Schneider

It is possible to speak clearly, even if one is not presenting "hard" scientific positions. Ms. Hutchison, for all her many positives, does lapse in to academy-speak, which is antithetical to clarity. I've noted this in her writing, too. [edit... ironically, for brevity/clarity]

She makes a decent argument at 19:45, and I'd be interested if others have thought this. Basically, retreat into religion does offer an oppositional position against Capitalism, Racism, Misogyny... you can argue against these things very forcefully from a religious position.
(Unfortunately, doing so also confers some unwarranted "power" to the religious position.)

But we should ask ourselves: If you want to advocate against an abuse by a corporation or government or group, from what stance do we propose attacking? The only one I see (and it's a damn good one, in my mind) is the position of advocating Universal Human Rights, ahead of rights for corporations, associations or states.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 13:53:59 UTC | #536775

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 15 by cheesedoff17

I found it fascinating and was delighted to see everyone wearing Atheist A's. I thought showing the book signing at the end was a great idea. All those lucky students!

I am very grateful for being able to watch all these excellent videos. Thank you.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 14:43:44 UTC | #536800

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert

Glad to see Professor Dawkins is an advocate for clear thinking and clear language (the other panelists could use a few lessons in that).

The idea of natural law (and therefore human rights) comes from Plato and Aristotle and even further back, and therefore has nothing to do with Christianity or Islam. Of course Christians just love to poison everything and so Aquinas Christianized natural law among everything else.

As for the homophobia among the black community, contradicting the idea of struggling for human rights, this reminds me of the accommodationists who contradict the rights of confrontationists (gnu atheists) to criticise religion and promote their worldview. Contradictions seem to appear in every community, including communities that supposedly promote reason and science.

Are science and faith compatible? Tod Stiefel (and Richard Dawkins agrees): no, they're diametrically opposed. I love how Tod Stiefel and Professor Dawkins remark about how religion enslaves the mind long after the physical slavery of the body is freed.

Another missed opportunity was some kind of dialogue or comparison between atheists and their cause, and the civil rights movement.

As for the religiosity of America and Europe, this is because of two views of secularism: America's idealistic principle of separation of domains, and Europes neutrality of domains.

"How welcoming is the atheist community to black thought?"

Religion should be understood as poisoning the mind. Therefore, black and white communities have had their minds poisoned by religion (both Christian and Muslim). Atheism is the pre-poisoned state. Therefore there is no white or black thought but free thought and a completely common dialogue (We're only interested in truth and not the colour of skins). Everyone is welcome.

BTW, the editing and camera work were excellent. Well done.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 15:20:15 UTC | #536814

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 17 by William T. Dawkins

Great group and discussion! Using scripture and myth as examples to clarify and justify morals and values is no longer necessary and never was. I believe these potential values are in fact innate to human physiology. The exceptions of course can be seen in cases such as serial killers who physically lack this empathic ability.

Some what off topic: As a Dawkins myself, I was wondering if Richard has ever gone to Jamaica and is familiar with the history of Henry Dawkins (1698–1744), of Clarendon. Also Queen Nanny of the Maroons and the rich history there?

William

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 16:00:03 UTC | #536831

mctoucan's Avatar Comment 18 by mctoucan

RD seemed fairly bored on this panel, and indeed confirmed this in the remaining minutes by stating that he isn't that interested in the role of religion in society. The woman in the middle was verbose to the point of being unintelligible; she seems to be striving to articulate such infinitesimal subtleties that her whole point disappears in a barrage of multi-syllable babble. A shame as she is no doubt quite bright. It is an interesting discussion of how religion has impacted the black civil rights movement, but a little off topic for me, and as such, I don't recommend watching it here.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 21:25:41 UTC | #536951

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 19 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 9 by Alan Canon

I agree. I moved the progress slide along when this woman spoke. I also didn't care for the buzz-wordy content of whatever it was she was saying. I didn't understand what she was talking about most of the time.

I thought there was a lot of waffle over social issues. I think a couple of the speakers just liked to talk. Dawkins manages to put across his succinct points in just one or two punchy sentences. So much so that he hardly said anything. Actually Dawkins has rather spoiled the watching of this genre. I now want to hear everything in just one or two punchy sentences. I can't be doing with all this talkie-talk.

As to theology. What on earth is theology? There are doctorate holders in theology. What in theology could possibly demand this level of intellect? I can imagine it is like becoming a specialist in the Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia. But why does this require intellect?

Dawkins put the point well about just wanting to know the truth. Is there a god or isn't there? No one ever seems to rise to this and offer a clear explanation of why they think there is. When they do it's invariably streaming waffle. So tired of hearing this.

And what a brilliant question from the last questioner; ".....and are you ready to accept Jesus as your personal savior?" I nearly fell of my chair.

Anyhow, I don't think I heard how the discussion concluded, if there was a conclusion.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:17:52 UTC | #536967

Jon McGill's Avatar Comment 20 by Jon McGill

stating that he isn't that interested in the role of religion in society

On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to Richard for being in a discussion where if he would stray into the subject of politics and racial politics, in particular, he could easily get himself into trouble, but on the other hand, we have a great example in Christopher Hitchens who has no trouble whatsoever in wading through these topics with absolute crystal clear thinking. I wish Richard would take a stab once in a while to be more Hitchens-like. He has done this now and then on random BBC political panel shows. It would be interesting to see him wade in on American political discussions, too, if he would muster the strength.

The kind of bullshit talking that Ms. Hutchinson displayed here, as well as Mr. Pinn (to a lesser extent) sounds a lot to me like the kind of rambling nonsense that priests are trained to use to befuddle their audiences into thinking that they know what they are talking about, when in fact, they are just bullshit artists.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:19:21 UTC | #536968

Zelig's Avatar Comment 21 by Zelig

Am I alone in being struck by the relatively low number of black people among the audience? Something is seriously amiss somewhere. . .

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:30:06 UTC | #536969

Frank Sense Myrth's Avatar Comment 22 by Frank Sense Myrth

@alan canon @lets be reasonable

I came on to look at the comments to see if anyone felt the same as did about this lady. It was just a series of buzzwords that have long lost their meaning through overuse and meaninglessness. There were times she started saying things that I felt were teniously on-topic , it seemed as if she had a list of longwinded soundbites she wanted to rattle off.

The begining made me cringe a bit when all the questions were being directed to Dicky Dawkins , even he got a bit uncomfortable. Agree also about the guy chairing it , a bit fluffy, all he needed were a pair of pom-poms to complete the picture. Still a worthwhile subject to be dealing with , shame there were no real hard-hitters though,maybe next time

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:32:45 UTC | #536971

Stella's Avatar Comment 23 by Stella

Why is Richard wearing white socks?

(I ask this as an American who learned while living in the UK that white socks - unless one is wearing a white suit, or one is a German on holiday in sunny climes - are ridiculous and a sign of one being an uncouth American.)

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 00:16:28 UTC | #536999

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 24 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 23 by Stella :

Why is Richard wearing white socks? (I ask this as an American who learned while living in the UK that white socks - unless one is wearing a white suit, or one is a German on holiday in sunny climes - are ridiculous and a sign of one being an uncouth American.)

He was also wearing a T-shirt. I think it's a science thing.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 00:36:14 UTC | #537005

Red Foot Okie's Avatar Comment 25 by Red Foot Okie

Stella:

If you can't wear white socks once you retire, what good is retirement?

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 02:03:40 UTC | #537022

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 26 by justinesaracen

Re socks: I think when you get to be Richard Dawkins, or Niels deGrasse Tyson, or any other really famous person, you get to wear whatever you want and it's cool.

As for the woman in the discussion group, I know her type. It's the use of pompous and sometimes obscurantist language either to conceal a weakness in the argument or in the self-confidence of the speaker. I listened to her first argument and she DID have something to say, but her manner was so annoying, I skipped past her later in the panel discussion. I've noticed that this sort of heavy use of multi-syllabic words rather often among black intellectuals, though I would not venture to say why. The pity is that it actually degrades an argument rather than enhancing it.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 09:33:10 UTC | #537107

dgr812's Avatar Comment 27 by dgr812

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thought the lady in the group talked funny.

I would have loved to see Christopher Hitchens in this discussion.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 13:45:20 UTC | #537238

sLUCIDITy's Avatar Comment 28 by sLUCIDITy

Wow, it seems I am alone in finding Sikivu Hutchinson both lucid and compelling. I enjoyed her use of language and thought she contributed many interesting perspectives.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 15:41:18 UTC | #537314

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 29 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Yes, and in a talk he gave on cruise ship, he was wearing a T shirt, shorts, and was walking around barefoot. :) If I were a celebrity I would go on such a power trip if I could get away with that. Of course if a woman celebrity were to do the same thing, no matter how popular she was, people would go, "What the hell is wrong with her?" Yeah, because if Albert Einstein forgets to comb his hair, it's cute. If a woman forgets to comb her hair, people gossip with sentences that start with "Why...?"

Sorry for grinding my axe.

Anyway... I confess I haven't watched the video yet, but I defintely plan to watch it and the other one tonight when I get home from work. They look really exciting! Then I'll leave more appropriate comments. :)

Julie

Comment 26 by esuther :

Re socks: I think when you get to be Richard Dawkins, or Niels deGrasse Tyson, or any other really famous person, you get to wear whatever you want and it's cool. As for the woman in the discussion group, I know her type. It's the use of pompous and sometimes obscurantist language either to conceal a weakness in the argument or in the self-confidence of the speaker. I listened to her first argument and she DID have something to say, but her manner was so annoying, I skipped past her later in the panel discussion. I've noticed that this sort of heavy use of multi-syllabic words rather often among black intellectuals, though I would not venture to say why. The pity is that it actually degrades an argument rather than enhancing it.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 17:29:02 UTC | #537381

green and dying's Avatar Comment 30 by green and dying

Comment 23 by Stella :

Why is Richard wearing white socks?

(I ask this as an American who learned while living in the UK that white socks - unless one is wearing a white suit, or one is a German on holiday in sunny climes - are ridiculous and a sign of one being an uncouth American.)

Really? I'm British and I've never heard this. I'm wearing white socks right now. Are you sure they weren't winding you up?

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 17:32:22 UTC | #537384