Richard Dawkins' "The Root of all Evil"
Posted: 31 March 2006 10:45 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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More good stuff on the tv in the U.K. :

http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/rootofevil.html

Hope this gets aired on PBS in the U.S.

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Posted: 02 April 2006 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I like Richard Dawkins as a writer, as an evolutionist, as a biologist, and zoologist. I even find his idea of “memes” very interesting. 

However, as an atheist Richard Dawkins is not so hot.  He is like the Jerry Falwell of atheists or the Pat Robertson of atheists. Okay that was really rude of me.  BUT I hope I got your attention.

To me Richard Dawkins does not articulate a solid atheism, and he does especially does not have good arguments against faith.  They are shallow and positivistic.

Bad arguments against theism will not help us change bad theistic ideas—and there are plenty that need changing.  Both Dawkins and Harris need to refine their aim.  They shoot down many bad ideas, but they also shoot at good ideas too—because they misunderstand them. 

This cannot be good, and won’t help their (and our cause), which is to rid this world of bad thinking that hurts us.

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Posted: 02 April 2006 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“bluejway”]
To me Richard Dawkins does not articulate a solid atheism, and he does especially does not have good arguments against faith.  They are shallow and positivistic.

Would you please be more specific?  You claim these are “bad” arguments but fail to specify which arguments and what specifically is bad about them.  It will do no good to simply say an argument fails, you must also say why it fails.  Otherwise you are simply asking us to take your word on faith!

PS. Calling something “positivistic” does not count as specifying.

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Posted: 02 April 2006 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Thanks for posting the article, pjs. I liked Dawkins points on why people still follow ancient doctrines. One reason he touches on is the sense of belonging to a group and a community. People who feel disenfranchised and unspoken for are more apt to follow such beliefs and join fundamentalist churches.

The other reason is the indoctronation of children, whether by the parents or institutions such as schools. They are impressionable and are still at the age of believing the unbelieable.

I remember when I was a kid, I, in the back of my mind, questioned how Santa Claus could go around the world in one night and still have time to have milk and cookies that we left out for him. I didn’t express such thoughts openly because I liked getting the goods on Christmas.

I’m sure a lot of people brought up in fundamentalist homes, either Muslim or Christian, question their church and parents beliefs but don’t dare express them openly.

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Posted: 17 April 2006 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Hello. I saw the shows and I heard Dawkins discuss this on the BBC.  Dawkins does a great job of making religious people look stupid, and I appreciated what he said about the miracle seekers at Lourdes (spellling?) in France.  There is still a lot of lame thinking among religious people.

But be sure of this.  Dawkins carefully selects the stupid easy targets.  He then tries to defend himself by saying that he is not biased in his selection.  He explains this on the BBC talk.  (I have the mp3 of that talk, if anyone wants it).  On this point, it is clear that he is very selective in his reading of “the data.”  He chooses who he wants to criticize, and he is really biased and tendentious when he replies to objections.

The BBC interviewer was very friendly to Dawkins, but also asked him many good questions.  In my view Dawkins was just winging it.  It was really pathetic.  His answers were sometimes pure BS.  As a scholar, (PhD in linguistics) I thought to myself.  I never want to be like that!

If you are going to be an atheist, be a good one!  Think carefully, and use fair and good arguments.  Otherwise, people will just see through your BS.

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Posted: 17 April 2006 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I would like the mp3! I am reading a fairly new book by Allister McGrath called Dawkins’ God. I recommend it. It is the first book length refutation (or attempt) of Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1405125381/sr=8-1/qid=1145328706/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-7007983-1859816?_encoding=UTF8

As an atheist, I also do not find him to be extremely convincing rhetorically or polemically, but he is a scientist, and science is what scientists do. The evidence refuting bronze age myths is overwhelming and I think his veins of thinking derive mainly from that.

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Posted: 17 April 2006 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Hi jon

I have read “Dawkins God.”  It’s good.  And the scholar who writes it is good.  He will be fair.  You might like his book “The Twilight of Atheism” too.  It is very helpful to get an historical perspective, and the author is sympathetic to some atheist ideas.  I don’t think Twilight of Atheism will convert atheists to belief in God, but I think if they are honest, it should make them a lot more humble about it.  Problem is that many of the arguments that atheists use can be turn around on atheism. 

All the best,

bluej

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Posted: 18 April 2006 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“bluejway”]and he does especially does not have good arguments against faith. 

There are no arguments against faith. 


That’s why they call it “faith.”

The AG

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Posted: 18 April 2006 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Hey AG,

What up, dude?  It always amazes me that how atheist arguements are often caracatures of faith.  If you want to believe blindly on faith that faith is belief without reason or evidence, then you can do that.  But it ignores what serious people have said about what faith is. 

Does it scare atheists to think that some people who have faith actually have reasonable beliefs.  Please enjoy your life and I encourage you to have sound convictions, but you cannot hold the sound conviction that faith in God is always irrational.  There are plenty of rational theists who have reasonable beliefs. 

We agree that those who do not believe reasonably need to get with it. But until you come around to realizing and understanding that some people have good reasons to have faith in God, you will never be a real atheist.  You will be blindly believe falst things about theists. 

I like your quote.  Let’s put it this way, does AG hear only what he wants to hear and simply disgregard the rest?

Respectfully,

bluej
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still a man hears what he wants to hear
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Posted: 18 April 2006 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“bluejway”]Does it scare atheists to think that some people who have faith actually have reasonable beliefs.

No. No more so than other unreal things like ghosts or boogymen.
[quote author=“bluejway”]There are plenty of rational theists who have reasonable beliefs.

Provide one example of a belief held by faith that is reasonable, in the sense that it is rational. Provide evidence for the reasonableness. Evidence is all that counts here. No empty claims.
[quote author=“bluejway”]We agree that those who do not believe reasonably need to get with it.

Please explain how you have the authority to decide what is reasonable belief and what isn’t.  Let me guess - you have the one true faith that allows you to discriminate.

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Posted: 18 April 2006 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“veracitatus”]
Please explain how you have the authority to decide what is reasonable belief and what isn’t.  Let me guess - you have the one true faith that allows you to discriminate.

Your comment here is out of line.  I have made no bald appeals to authority.  I have tried to reason with people.  Is your atheism the one true conviction that allows you to discriminate?  Is your science the arbiter? 

Science tells us much, but does it tell us everything.  If you think so then, let’s remove all partial-sciences from the realms of knowledge.  Sociology, linguistics, economics, and law. 

Back to the rational basis of faith.  See my other posts.  The arguement for fine tuning qualifies as rational.  You may disagree.  You may have alternative explanations.  I grant that your alternative explanations are rational.  I accept cosmological anthropic principles as one set of pointers to God’s existence.  If you say that I am being irrational, you can only do so on a priori grounds.  In other words, you must say so pre-emptively.  I will call that unscientific of you.

The ideal is this.  I theorize God exists. You theorize he does not.  We come to our conclusions based on a posteriori grounds, after looking at the data.  Disagree with me!  Fine.  But calling me irrational or unresonable is just a power play in the end. 

Is is so hard for the atheist to admit that a theist is being rational?  In other words is it impossible for both of us to be rational?  I think we both can be rational.  And I think you should grant me at least that.

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Posted: 18 April 2006 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“bluejway”]
What up, dude?  It always amazes me that how atheist arguements are often caracatures of faith.  If you want to believe blindly on faith that faith is belief without reason or evidence, then you can do that.  But it ignores what serious people have said about what faith is.

Actually, that’s pretty consistent with what serious people say faith is.  Kierkegaard, for example.

[quote author=“bluejway”]Does it scare atheists to think that some people who have faith actually have reasonable beliefs.

Not at all.  Know any? 

[quote author=“bluejway”]We agree that those who do not believe reasonably need to get with it. But until you come around to realizing and understanding that some people have good reasons to have faith in God, you will never be a real atheist.

I’m sure there are plenty of “good reasons to believe in God.”  That’s not necessarily the same as there being reasonable beliefs in God.

[quote author=“bluejway”]You will be blindly believe falst things about theists.

Au contraire.  I was an Evangelical Christian for 15 years and was raised Catholic for the 15 years before that.  I am quite aware of “things about theists.”

[quote author=“bluejway”]I like your quote.  Let’s put it this way, does AG hear only what he wants to hear and simply disgregard the rest?

Of course.  Everybody does.  That’s the point.

The AG

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Posted: 18 April 2006 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“bluejway”]The ideal is this. I theorize God exists. You theorize he does not. We come to our conclusions based on a posteriori grounds, after looking at the data. Disagree with me! Fine. But calling me irrational or unresonable is just a power play in the end.

Is is so hard for the atheist to admit that a theist is being rational? In other words is it impossible for both of us to be rational? I think we both can be rational. And I think you should grant me at least that.

I do not.  I arrive a a-theism on the grounds that no theistic diety is need to explain natural phenomena.  It has nothing to do with theorizing anything.

Yes. Earlier in your post you mention the anthropic principle (strong, I suppose) as a basis for your belief.  But then you describe yourself as a theist.  I have no problem with the idea of a diestic entity, but I also don’t have any idea about its veracity either.  Hence on diesm I’m agnostic.  But if you are a theist then this argument will fail you since beliefs in a theistic god require interaction between a posited supernatural realm and the natural world.  If you hold to that claim, then yes, I find your position irrational.

If you want to discount what you call “weak” sciences, do as you please.  I have no idea what that has to do with anything.  All one needs is physics.  Biology (evolution) helps bolster the claim that no theistic intervening intelligence is needed to produce the universe the way we find it.  Now, which is it? Theism or deism?

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Posted: 18 April 2006 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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BTW, BJW, just to clarify and as I’ve said before: I’m an “apatheist.”

I think taking mythology literally is like deciding one day that Spider-Man 2 actually happened and miss it’s metaphorical lessons as a result (hint: they’re a lot like the gospel stories).

Deciding not only that Spider Man 2 is real, but then deciding to kill those who prefer Superman and burning all their comic books . . .

. . . now that’s a religion.

For shites and giggles, take a look at this.  Watch the whole thing if you haven’t seen it before.  There’s a real peach at the end.

http://supermanreturns.warnerbros.com/trailer.html

The comic book people get it. . . why don’t you?


The AG

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