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Whats your opinion of Richard Dawkins?

 
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:35 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
God is not anything - not a thing, being, object, entity, and so on.

Says you. Not because anyone anyone researched the matter and found it out, mind you. This statement reflects nothing but your usage of the word "god"---which differs from the usage of the Bible, of the Apostolic creed, and the Christians who believe in both.

jeeprs wrote:
So in this interpretation, all religious language is metaphorical. The whole problem starts with 'literalism' which is mistaking the symbolic for the actual.

Based on what evidence---other than wishful thinking---are you calling it a mistake to assume that texts mean what their words say by the rules of standard language usage? The Bible's problem isn't that it doesn't mean what it says. It's that much of what it says is contradictory, or mistaken, or both.

jeeprs wrote:
And I think Dawkins is mostly concerned with rejecting those who mistake the symbolic for the actual. The real actual has got nothing to do with this debate.

You obviously haven't read The God Delusion. Dawkins expresses no concern for anything of that kind. To the contrary: he frequently expresses impatience for it. For example, see pages 279-280 of the paperback edition, where he talks about Joshua's ethnical cleansing campaign against Jericho, conducted with the explicit blessing of God. In using this example to refute that God is good, he sarcastically derides "that favorite trick of interpreting selected scriptures as 'symbolic'." Throughout the book, Dawkins assumes that the Bible means what its words say. He just doesn't assume that what it means is true.

If you're going to refer to sources, you need to refer to them. Don't just make stuff up!
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:37 am
@farmerman,
Farmerman wrote:
His most recent book "The Greatest SHow on Earth" Tries to be an argument based upon scientific examples rather than a screaming session about religions and delusions.

Which of his other books are you calling "screaming sessions"? Can you cite specific passages exemplifying what you mean by "screaming"? Irony, yes. Sarcasm, definitely. Mischievous humor, too. But I can't think of any passage---let alone book-length "sessions"---where he appears to be raising his voice.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 11:58 am
@Thomas,
Its all a matter of whose light are you reading by. I choose to state that his arguments about "the God delusion" or his discontent with Evangelicals was merely a pattern in his career where he found that he could get more bookings on the BBC with being a stentorian douche bag about his contempt for religion in general and Evangelicalism in particular, than if he were strictly talking a a historian of science. His first books and lectures re: the "Blind watchmaker" were really good arguments in favor of evolution than they were aginst Paleyism and ID He got pigeonholed (IMHO) and decided to take his position up a notch. His snotty presentations did not make him a favorite among biological scientists who were in the middle of the US "culture wars". Every time I was ever invited to take part in a round table , the crowd was well armed with Dawkins quotes and Gould misquotes. I am gl;ad that his latest 2 works have been concentrating on positive EVIDENCE and not bridge burning .

But thats just me.

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 12:25 pm
@farmerman,
Latest two works? His latest two works were The God Delusion and The Greatest Show on Earth.

I guess snottiness is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not finding The God Delusion snotty. Just clear, to the point, and correct---which I can't always say about Gould. I'm not as big a fan of Gould as you are. But maybe that's a topic for a different thread.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 12:27 pm
I kind of feel sorry for the Beeb. The English are basically hostile and superciliously arrogant, but they've had centuries of "good breeding" to make them behave so that you can take them out in public. So someone like Dawkins gets on the Beeb, and they feel duty-bound to respond as though they take him seriously, and to give him air time.

Somebody like Ted Turner would just have told him "**** off, clown, not on my network you don't."
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 12:36 pm
@farmerman,
not to mention his continued defense of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war.(invasion of Iraq)
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 12:53 pm
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

not to mention his continued defense of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war.(invasion of Iraq)

Richard Dawkins defended nothing of this kind. I think you're mistaking Richard Dawkins for Christopher Hitchens.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 12:55 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

dyslexia wrote:

not to mention his continued defense of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war.(invasion of Iraq)

Richard Dawkins defended nothing of this kind. I think you're mistaking Richard Dawkins for Christopher Hitchens.
ah yes quite right my bad.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 02:07 pm
Since it has become so common in this thread to judge Dawkins's God Delusion by second-hand accounts, I thought I'd offer a direct quote for us to discuss. It aptly illustrates why I like Dawkins and this book---and presumably, why Farmerman doesn't like him so much. It starts on page 280 of the paperback edition.

Richard Dawkins wrote:
The ethnic cleansing begun in the time of Moses is brought to bloody fruition in the book of Joshua, a text remarkable for the bloodthirsty massacres it records and the xenophobic relish with which it does so. As the charming old song exultantly has it, "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a-tumbling down ... There's none like good old Joshuay, at the battle of Jericho." Good old Joshua didn't rest until "they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword" (Joshua 6:21).

Yet again, theologians will protest, it didn't happen. Well, no---the story has it that the walls came tumbling down at the mere sound of men shouting and blowing horns, so indeed it didnt' happen---but that's not the point. The point is that, whether true or not, the Bible is held up to us as the source of our morality. And the Bible story of Joshua's destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler's invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein's massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals.[...]

Do not think, by the way, that the God character in the story nursed any doubts or scruples about the massacres and genocides that accompanied the seizing of the Promised Land. On the contrary, his orders, for example in Deueronomy 20, were ruthlessly explicit. He made a clear distinction between the people who lived in the land that was needed, and those who lived a long way away. The latter should be invited to surrender peacefully. If they refused, all the men were to be killed and the women carried off for breeding. In contrast to this relatively humane treatment, see what was in store for those tribes unfortunate enough to be already in residence in the promised Lebensraum: "But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Ivites and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee."

Do those people who hold up the Bible as an inspiration to moral rectitude have the slightest notion of what is actually written in it? The following offences merit the death penalty, according to Leviticus 20: cursing your parents; committing adultery; making love to your stepmother or your daughter-in-law; homosexuality; marrying a woman and her daughter; bestiality (and, to add injury to insult, the unfortunate beast is to be killed, too). You also get executed, of course, for working on the Sabbath; the point is made, again and again, throughout the Old Testament. In Numbers 15, the children of Israel found a man in the wilderness gathering sticks on the forbidden day. They arrested him and then asked God what to do with him.

As it turned out, God was in no mood for half-measures that day. "And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died." Did this harmless gatherer of firewood have a wife and children to grieve for him? Did he whimper with fear as the first stones flew, and scream with pain as the fusillade crashed into his head? What shocks me today about such stories is not that they really happened. They probably didn't. What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh---and, even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.

As I said, I consider this a fairly typical excerpt from the book. Condemning? Sure. Acid? You bet. But a screaming session? Absolutely not. I'm sorry, but I can't see anything inappropriate in Dawkins's treatment of the subject he chose. Does any of y'all disagree? Then please speak up and tell me what's wrong with this passage. Alternatively, cite another passage to criticize. But, please please please with sugar on top, no more hearsay from book reviews!
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:13 pm
The white-trousered serial adulterer is having you all on. He spotted a niche and snuggled himself up in it. He knows as well as I do that God is an invention for controlling the masses. Nobody knows a thing about God. Not one scintilla.

Dawkins' supporters feel, by getting on board, that they are not part of the masses and not under control. Both being abhorrent to their snobbish nature.

It's just a cheapskate bid for a semblence of intellectual excellence and that's what Dawkins panders to. He's a flatterer. He flatters the mediocre mind.

Has he ever offered a scenario for controlling the masses without God. Or for creating unconscious states which have proved useful in a number of ways without religious ceremonials. "You're all a bunch of deluded, superstitious idiots" doesn't take us very far as a way of proceeding into the future. He looks back. A he looks a bit like a pillar of salt too.

He's playing a blinder considering the unpromising nature of the material. Bradlaugh started from a higher baseline.

And there's all the fans who have an issue with the Christian definition of sexual irregularities and one might be so bold as to say evolutionary principles as well.

The actual subject is the SELF. What else for materialists? As a famous rock star said about 10 minutes ago on national TV, the most popular channel too, "If it's all random and chaotic why don't we all take our clothes off and start pee-peeing on each other?"

It can't be about God for the reason I gave up above. The choice is that Dawkins is deluded or he exploits deluded people cynically. As Robespierre advised. Foolishly as it turned out.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:17 pm
@Thomas,
Dawkins, when called upon to discuss his penultimate books, has engaged in fairly rude critical remarks about most EVangelical religions(especially some of his terms like "Hill williams" in one radio series back in the 1990's). I dont have much use for their doctrine as my posts on evolution have held up. HOWEVER, I dont like cheap shots for the camera and the typical Brit smarminess as if hed discovered something of which noone else was aware.

I have said throughout, that his two recent books are a RETURN to some kind of dispassionate scientific reportorial skill. His entire mid career was one of irrelevance to the science of evolutionary biology and he became a cartoon of himself. He spent about 20 years thinking he was on somekind of self proclaimed mission that slowly took its eye off the main fosus of evolution and rather, turned on Christianity.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:23 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Dawkins, when called upon to discuss his penultimate books, has engaged in fairly rude critical remarks about most EVangelical religions(especially some of his terms like "Hill williams" in one radio series back in the 1990's). I dont have much use for their doctrine as my posts on evolution have held up. HOWEVER, I dont like cheap shots for the camera and the typical Brit smarminess as if hed discovered something of which noone else was aware.

So in other words, you have a problem with his conduct in talk shows and press conferences. You don't have a problem with his books. Is this a fair way to summarize it?

farmerman wrote:
I have said throughout, that his two recent books are a RETURN to some kind of dispassionate scientific reportorial skill.

Dawkins's two most recent books are The God Delusion (2006) and The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) May I conclude that I misunderstood you about The God Delusion, and that you do, in fact, like the book?
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:29 pm
@Thomas,
How can any intelligent person "like" TGD when you have to wade through page after page of stuff of the stamp Thomas quoted above. It's trite, boring, pointless and obvious and styleless. It plays on telling people what they want to hear.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:34 pm
BTW--how big was Jericho compared the the aboriginal nations of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand &Co. And we know the story of that is true. And Dawkins' cloistered chambers, ivy and all, grew from that sort of thing.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:38 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Dawkins, when called upon to discuss his penultimate books, has engaged in fairly rude critical remarks about most EVangelical religions

Like what? You keep condemning Dawkins on the basis of abstractions like "fairly rude critical remarks", but somehow you never cite the remarks and explain to me why you find them rude. How am I supposed to have a reasoned conversation with you when there's such a dearth of primary data?
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 04:37 pm
@Thomas,
I hold no brief for the Bible, but comparing the accounts of the Old Testament to the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia is absurd in the extreme. Those records refer to events that happened several thousand years ago when society was completely different to what it is today. It is completely fatuous to directly compare the two situations. Of course the Old Testament is barbarous, primitive, and blood thirsty in many passages. So what? Society was like that then.

The plain fact is that Dawkins simply hates religion and naturally attracts others who feel the same way. Why? Thomas Nagel, a distinctly secular philosopher, says of the atheist bandwagon:

Quote:
I believe that this is one manifestation of a fear of religion which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life.

In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning, and design as fundamental features of the world.


Thomas Nagel in Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion, in The Last Word.

And I reckon this nails it very accurately.
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 04:43 pm
Richard Dawkins always reminds me why I like the Brits.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 05:23 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Like what? You keep condemning Dawkins on the basis of abstractions like "fairly rude critical remarks", but somehow you never cite the remarks and explain to me why you find them rude. How am I supposed to have a reasoned conversation with you when there's such a dearth of primary data?


At the recent atheist conference in Australia, which was attended by 0.oo1% of the population, he referred to an opponent as "lower than an earthworm".

Will that do?
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 05:39 pm
@Thomas,
As Ive said many times before, DAWKINS IS A HACK. My discomfort with him is primarily format , not substance (Ive also been clear on that point in these many "Dawkins" threads.

Robert WRight said it much better and with an attempt to shine some light on a point that divides Evangelical Christians and Muslims and ultra Orthodox Jews from science. Dawkins is just hawking books for fun and profit. If that floats yer boat Thomas, go for it. Im a little ashamed as a natural scientist of his hackneyed , bleedin obvious points which not only didnt add anything to the discussions but I really think that DAwkins labors under the delusion that his rapier "wit" and his logic will suddnlt convert all these Evangelicals. Trouble is, hes just full of himself.

Heres a paragraph from God Delusion


Quote:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character if all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously, malevolent bully”
Hell, in our discussions herein, setanta and our departed friedn Timberlandko, did the same paragraph much more succinctly and cleverly. Tell me that this kind of **** is worth a space in some book that attempts to be a convincing argument.?
I dsilike that kind of sophism masquerading as forensics.
NOW, having said that , I WILL REPEAT MYSELF just so you didnt miss the poiint. DAwkkins latest two books "The ANcestors Tale" and "The GBreatest Show on Earth" are actually quite good. Hes gotten back to the arena for which he actually has training and experience. He is a historian of science and biology. His recent BBC program series"The Genius of Charles Darwin" was quite good and was so well done that I almost forget that he spent two decades trashing all religion in a hope that the religious would realize a sudden conversion to the scientific method. For that I think him a fool, and Im glad that DAwkins has had a mini-conversion.
Dont be angry because I dont agree with you Thomas. Im afraid, like Dawkins you will realize that Im firm on this one.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 07:06 pm
I agree. Dawkins in "Attenborough Mode" is a superb naturalist. If he wanted to campaign to keep religion out of science classes or launch a positive secular ethic, I would applaud him. There are many positive things he could be doing. But religion-bashing is not one of them.
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