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← Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012

Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012 - Comments

nurnord's Avatar Comment 1 by nurnord

Exceelent ! (I meant that spelling, keep your seats !). I was just checking in to see if there were any new articles to read and was presented with this gem. A bit late now to watch, will hoover it up tomorrow, nite nite good folk.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 01:37:37 UTC | #945126

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 2 by rjohn19

I think (fear is a better word) Dennett is as delusional predicting the end of faith as are the faithful who predict the end of the world. Col. Robert Green Ingersoll predicted the death of religion in his lifetime and that was 150 years ago.

Religious ideas go far beyond mere memes- they are wombs that protect delicate, fearful psyches protected by impervious cacoons. The best and only hope in my opinion is control and restriction- eradication is not possible. Think of religions as cockroaches.

And Richard- the world would recognize you as a contrarian even if you wore a tie that went less "stridently" with your suit and shirt.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 03:55:15 UTC | #945141

RDFFAN100's Avatar Comment 3 by RDFFAN100

Incredibly enjoyable to listen to these great men!

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 04:54:19 UTC | #945146

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 4 by All About Meme

Wonderful talk.

I love and greatly respect Daniel Dennett, in fact he’s one of my true heroes, but his public admonishment to fellow atheists to “just relax” was a bit unfortunate, and somewhat contradictory to his own suggestion that the abundance of readily available information on the Internet is slowly, and inexorably turning the tide in our favor. This abundance of Internet information didn't get there by itself.

Thankfully there are many atheists -- bloggers, videographers, humorists, performers, and writers in particular, who certainly aren’t relaxing, and who aren’t adopting Professor Dennett’s “wait and see” attitude, but instead are devoting their precious time on this planet to aggressively sow the seeds of religious discontent, by posting fresh and original material on the Internet. Without the efforts of these people, who essentially constitute the true grass roots of New Atheism, the Internet might not contain any good atheist content, because wealthy corporations couldn’t care less – they just want to stick dumbed-down pop-up ads in your face, and entities like the Discovery Institute and the Templeton Foundation – not to mention Fox News and every single church in the land, are actively working against us.

Dennett himself isn’t even “relaxing”… with all his many atheist irons in the fire, he could never be accurately characterized as a passive observer. He’s one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, for heaven’s sake!

And I simply cannot, as a scientist, agree with his soft (nearly accommodationist-sounding) stance on ridicule. Somebody please show me some conversion data, and/or the peer-reviewed studies which falsify the claim that ridicule is an extremely effective way of spreading anti-religious memes. Besides, it's a lot of fun in a world dominated by dour-faced religious "respect".

In my opinion the truth is the truth: I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if it hurts somebody to hear it, because learning something worthwhile is often painful, and it's mostly temporary pain anyway. If you’re struggling with math, for instance, it probably means you’re thinking hard and learning as fast as your brain will allow. Keep trying, I say, because it’s worth it.

Must I end my rant with that tired cliché No pain no gain ?

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 05:12:23 UTC | #945147

cloverfield8's Avatar Comment 5 by cloverfield8

I can't tell you how reassuring it has been to find intellegent people who recognise clearly simple realities such as what is being called memes. As an autodidact and existensialist, authentically self evolved my expirence has been validated by both Dennett & Dawkins. Yes, un-schooled but intellegent I drew the same conclusions as these phylosophers. What exactly will it take for us all to stop pretending. I don't have time to get my dictionary out for you spellers, nor do I think it's important to.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 06:40:06 UTC | #945152

LongDarkHair's Avatar Comment 6 by LongDarkHair

All i can see and hear are 2 hippies from the 1960s. I really enjoy RD but i now realise i prefer RD when he is on stage with a colleague more like Lawrence Krauss for instance. This debate came across as really crusty-ish.

I enjoy a lively, funny and fast-paced debate with youthful vibrancy really. But to be fair to Daniel Dennett i have never heard him talking up until now.

RD needs to sew the hemline on the right side of his trouser leg.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 06:43:39 UTC | #945153

mmurray's Avatar Comment 7 by mmurray

Comment 5 by cloverfield8 :

I can't tell you how reassuring it has been to find intellegent people who recognise clearly simple realities such as what is being called memes. As an autodidact and existensialist, authentically self evolved my expirence has been validated by both Dennett & Dawkins. Yes, un-schooled but intellegent I drew the same conclusions as these phylosophers. What exactly will it take for us all to stop pretending. I don't have time to get my dictionary out for you spellers, nor do I think it's important to.

Welcome cloverfield8. You have given another example of the ability of language to self-correct that Dennett was talking about!

Michael

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 06:43:58 UTC | #945154

mmurray's Avatar Comment 8 by mmurray

Comment 6 by LongDarkHair :

All i can see and hear are 2 hippies from the 1960s. I really enjoy RD but i now realise i prefer RD when he is on stage with a colleague more like Lawrence Krauss for instance. This debate came across as really crusty-ish.

I enjoy a lively, funny and fast-paced debate with youthful vibrancy really. But to be fair to Daniel Dennett i have never heard him talking up until now.

Well he's old and has some serious heart problems needing emergency cardiac surgery a few years back so probably you are not going to see him full of youthful vigour. Personally I'd rather quality ideas slowly delivered than rubbish delivered with enthusiasm. You can try any politician for the latter.

If that was your first Dennett there are heaps of other good ones out there. For example the recent:

http://richarddawkins.net/videos/646003-full-length-talk-how-to-tell-you-re-an-atheist

His books are great as well.

RD needs to sew the hemline on the right side of his trouser leg.

Yes Lalla is slipping up on her home duties it seems.

Michael

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 06:49:51 UTC | #945155

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by William T. Dawkins

39:30

To Me! This skeptical reconciliation by theologians somewhat resembles how a downfall in life may become ones occupation. They are by nature skeptics, the effort to overcome this abstract obstacle of the elusive nugget of primitive wisdom may eventually dash their hopes. Being ritualistically bound, they must reconcile this new conclusion by metaphoric analogy in order to save face.

Ironically, they may have found the truth they were seeking.

Great discussion,

William

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 07:03:58 UTC | #945157

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 10 by Stafford Gordon

Apropos of dance, there are any number of dances - Waltz, Quick Step, Tango, etc etc, which carry on in one form for centuries.

There is also a code/notation for ballet productions, so that they can be replicated.

Great discussion though.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 09:47:35 UTC | #945169

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 11 by rod-the-farmer

A rather obscure trivia point about labanotation........the IBM Selectric typewriter had a variety of optional typing elements ("golf balls) in different fonts. One of them was for labanotation. The normal keyboard characters were replaced by different symbols describing dance movements. Quite rare. I could not find any on eBay.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 11:23:41 UTC | #945181

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 12 by Premiseless

The early points about the fidelity of language/ DNA are interesting benchmarks to interrogate why it is that unbelief has virtually zero fidelity to a believer and how it was that a believer got groomed into this position seemingly absent their being conscious of this.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 14:00:38 UTC | #945195

No Kidding Man's Avatar Comment 13 by No Kidding Man

It is good to implement more than one way of spreading reason among the delusional population. This is because we will see which way is more effective by observing the results (success).

It is good that we have RD, Harris, DD etc all in the front line.

I salute them all!!!

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 14:39:44 UTC | #945197

Peter_E_Jones's Avatar Comment 14 by Peter_E_Jones

Prof Dawkins, early on in this deightful conversation, mentioned that celibate priests were not contributing to evolution. (I cannot recall the exact phrase)

But, is it not possible that they may well be supporting the genes in any kin?

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 15:13:34 UTC | #945199

Sara's Avatar Comment 15 by Sara

to all about meme:

I didn't take Dennett's comments about relaxing to mean that we should stop trying to influence others away from religion.

Instead, he's saying -- Don't worry -- it's happening, and will continue to happen because of the speed such influence has now thanks to the internet (which Ingersoll did not have).

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 16:15:30 UTC | #945200

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 16 by All About Meme

Comment 15 by Sara

Instead, he's saying -- Don't worry -- it's happening...

Wasn't it Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine who said: "What, me worry?"

Rewording Thomas Jefferson (?) a bit: "Eternal ridicule is the price of freedom from religion."

Seriously though, Professor Dennett is just a big, lovable teddy bear. I'm happy to do the dirty work for him.

;)

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 16:29:21 UTC | #945202

landon9720's Avatar Comment 17 by landon9720

The interview discussed at ~1:00 is here: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/3410-richard-dawkins-interviews-father-george-coyne

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 16:33:52 UTC | #945203

Wokkie's Avatar Comment 18 by Wokkie

Comment 2 by rjohn19 :

I think (fear is a better word) Dennett is as delusional predicting the end of faith as are the faithful who predict the end of the world. Col. Robert Green Ingersoll predicted the death of religion in his lifetime and that was 150 years ago.

He didn't predict the end of faith.

  1. Faith != religion.
  2. Dennet said in the talk that either religions will go extinct or become very radical. His point is I think that the only remaining options are at the extreme sides of the spectrum.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 16:39:30 UTC | #945204

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

Comment 8 by mmurray

Well he's old and has some serious heart problems needing emergency cardiac surgery a few years back so probably you are not going to see him full of youthful vigour.

I don't recall ever seeing Dennett with youthful vigour. It doesn't seem to be his style. But I also see no sign of him slipping into decrepitude. This is Dennett as he usually is. His writing can be pretty slow-paced as well, but the content is worth it.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 17:44:55 UTC | #945208

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 20 by Peter Grant

Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012 http://youtube.com/watch?v=WdU-UtEJEIA

That was excellent, of course memes are real replicators! Hopefully Dan's new book will clear up some of the confusion surrounding them.

I especially enjoyed this personal anecdote of Richard's illustrating the importance of ridicule:

I myself was influenced. When I was an undergraduate I was rather taken, I'm ashamed now to admit, with Teilhard de Chardin and The Phenomenon of Man. And I was taken in by what Peter Medawar called that "tipsy, euphoristic prose-poetry which is one of the more tiresome manifestations of the French spirit". Um, so I was taken in by that and then I read Medawar's review of The Phenomenon of Man and was completely won over, I mean this witty take-down of this pretentious theologian and I realized gosh I'd been fooled, I'd been conned. So one of the things that I try to do when I do occasionally indulge in ridicule, is that I'm not actually trying to change the mind of a real died in the wool deeply religious person. I'm trying to change the mind of someone who's sitting on the fence and who hasn't really given it very much thought.

I'm now tweeting all the latest richarddawkinsdotnet videos @AtheistTube. Could rdfrs please suggest some more channels to add?

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 18:17:25 UTC | #945212

sycorax's Avatar Comment 21 by sycorax

What an absolute delight !

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 19:55:15 UTC | #945222

Sample's Avatar Comment 22 by Sample

Prof. Dennett remarks that he likes the approach of slow working ideas rather than, as he says, pressing believers for a conversion "right now." How stark a dissimilarity that is compared to Evangelical tent-revivals with their altar-calls hoping and calling for immediate conversions to Yahweh's Youngin.

This was a nice conversation.

I too recommend the interview Prof. Dawkins had with Fr. George Coyne, former Vatican astronomer, that was referenced to in this talk. I can't count how many times I've met other Catholics who remind me exactly of Fr. Coyne.

Mike

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 04:40:38 UTC | #945254

zengardener's Avatar Comment 23 by zengardener

"Don't worry.", but don't let up.

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 05:42:16 UTC | #945264

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 24 by Functional Atheist

Very enjoyable video, but the goofs were a little distracting.

Thanks to earlier comments, for directing me to Laban Movement Analysis, and related notations as used by dancers, choreographers and others. I was nearly certain such a system existed, but did not know what it was called.

And I will also agree with previous comments regarding profound skepticism toward Dennett's confidence that religions are doomed to die, or to change radically, in response to the information technology and communications revolutions. To name but one example, the resurgence of Islam in recent decades should have banished such pipe-dreams to the dustbin of history.

We may not like it--I certainly do not--but I wager that several religions will still be powerful and malevolent forces for not mere decades to come, but for centuries to come.

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 06:55:38 UTC | #945279

Ornicar's Avatar Comment 25 by Ornicar

Well yes, religions are doomed. Because they are, have always been and will always be founded on ignorance. And we have efficient ways to fight ignorance. Atheism is the fastest growing group. Islam grows only through demography, making more babies, but is forced to punish apostasy by death to prevent loosing believers. It cannot last unless it prevents education about other religions and about itself.

I'm more embarassed by mister Dawkins comment at 17.19 about the "darwinian function" of reproduction. Celibate priest are "denying their darwinian function". In my opinion, there is no such thing as a darwinian function. We are not here "to" reproduce ; we are here "because" we reproduced. But we have no duty toward our genes ; they are selfish.

I was equally embarassed when I read in The God Delusion that reproduction was the "purpose" of sexuality (a very christian thing to say). For reproduction, mitosis was more efficient. Sexuality has no pupose, and its function is more genes shuffling than reproduction. And human sexuality's function is more pleasure than gene shuffling. And still, it has no purpose. It only has effects.

As human beings, we are free to decide not to reproduce. It doesn't mean we are loosers in the game of life. As individuals, we have no duty toward evolution. Genes don't even try to reproduce. They don"t want to. They don"t "dream of becoming two" genes. They just happen to reproduce, otherwise we would not be here to talk about it.

(And sorry about my spelling ; I'm not native english speaker)

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 10:47:34 UTC | #945304

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 26 by Premiseless

Comment 25 by Ornicar :

Well yes, religions are doomed. Because they are, have always been and will always be founded on ignorance. And we have efficient ways to fight ignorance. Atheism is the fastest growing group. Islam grows only through demography, making more babies, but is forced to punish apostasy by death to prevent loosing believers. It cannot last unless it prevents education about other religions and about itself.

I'm less convinced the meme of reason and free thought will become a dominant one when it seems there is mileage for out groups to combat this via dogma and mass reproduction. It's a principle I'd prefer to win-out due my own pain at my life experience having been largely an abuse by dogma and its bedfellows! Even as reason arises, inevitably, there are memes for mutation being manufactured to sustain power infrastructures, present and future, so that inequalities can increase, to the benefits of the perpetrators of maximal life experiential.

I'm more embarassed by mister Dawkins comment at 17.19 about the "darwinian function" of reproduction. Celibate priest are "denying their darwinian function". In my opinion, there is no such thing as a darwinian function. We are not here "to" reproduce ; we are here "because" we reproduced. But we have no duty toward our genes ; they are selfish.

It's been stated elsewhere that "selfish" is hardly the word to express meaning as to what is being conveyed exactly. It is a strange irony to me that we might expect, selfishly, others to educate themselves about this, rather than for each of us to patiently and simply create a common language, understandable to the lowest classes, that might help them out of the vices of all dogma. Kinda yet another "fitness trial" in some respects; another trial by inequality.

I was equally embarassed when I read in The God Delusion that reproduction was the "purpose" of sexuality (a very christian thing to say). For reproduction, mitosis was more efficient. Sexuality has no purpose, and its function is more genes shuffling than reproduction. And human sexuality's function is more pleasure than gene shuffling. And still, it has no purpose. It only has effects.

Where do you ever hear it said that most peoples lives are a long shot, or an odds-on shot, at overturning or preserving the inequalities they are born to, dependent on disadvantage or advantage respectively? This is mainly what preoccupies most people by intention or default. Sexuality inclusive; life itself!

As human beings, we are free to decide not to reproduce. It doesn't mean we are loosers in the game of life. As individuals, we have no duty toward evolution. Genes don't even try to reproduce. They don"t want to. They don"t "dream of becoming two" genes. They just happen to reproduce, otherwise we would not be here to talk about it.

Most people are preoccupied with emotional net gain. Those who have this wallow in it and usually will deceive at all costs to maintain it, unto the highest rank = more especially there! Naturally there is a long spectrum of natural wastage to such enterprise, inclusive of in-fighting and jockeying for position behind the lead example. We today are at the end of a time spectrum, of millennia, in which the osmosis is presently greatly reduced as to who has likelihoods of leapfrogging into advantage as compared to whose gene pool positions are cemented at whatever place on the scale of advantage they are already at.

Revolutions are more likely, thus dogma more useful than ever. The real battle is for emotional net gain.

This helps one get a perspective on why rational is not a market leader.

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 13:10:29 UTC | #945312

shape's Avatar Comment 27 by shape

Where can I watch the discussion between Father George Coyne and Christopher Hitchens that Daniel Dennett mentioned? I couldn't find it at Youtube. Could anyone please post the link here?

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 23:16:26 UTC | #945368

frax71's Avatar Comment 28 by frax71

Comment 27 by shape :

Where can I watch the discussion between Father George Coyne and Christopher Hitchens that Daniel Dennett mentioned? I couldn't find it at Youtube. Could anyone please post the link here?

You won't find it, as the debate referred to was between RD and Father George Coyne which you can watch here

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 23:50:47 UTC | #945371

danarel's Avatar Comment 29 by danarel

Comment 14 by Peter_E_Jones :

Prof Dawkins, early on in this deightful conversation, mentioned that celibate priests were not contributing to evolution. (I cannot recall the exact phrase)

But, is it not possible that they may well be supporting the genes in any kin?

not at all. if you are not reproducing, you are not passing on genes, therefor you are not contributing to evolution at all. no matter what genes you may host, you are not passing them on.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 01:59:33 UTC | #945381

zengardener's Avatar Comment 30 by zengardener

Comment 29 by danarel if you are not reproducing, you are not passing on genes, therefor you are not contributing to evolution at all. no matter what genes you may host, you are not passing them on.

There are many ants in the world that demonstrate the strength of kin selection.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 04:58:07 UTC | #945401