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Whats your opinion of Richard Dawkins?

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 09:36 am
Let me make my argument clearly (after the tangents).

Religion is part of the human experience. Religion is neither good nor bad in itself. People have used religious ideas for good (however you and I define "good"). People have used religious ideas for bad (as judged from our shared cultural values).

Religion is clearly a human trait-- it is seen in the vast majority of human cultures and has developed independently in cultures without contact. As a human trait (for those of us who believe in evolution) it is clearly based on evolved behaviors. As such it shouldn't be thought of in any different terms than any other evolved trait.

This is the problem with Dawkins (and his disciples). They argue that religion is bad-- but the only way they can do this is to reach for an absolute truth on which to base their attacks on religion. They want to attack as "unnatural" or "destructive" although the success of the human species disproves both of these.

This type of Atheism unquestionably crosses the line and becomes a religion.





fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 01:43 pm
@ebrown p,
Well put, but it fails to deal with that recent problem of massively destructive technology in the hands of religious fanatics to which we all bear witness. As Harris has pointed out, the game has changed... the stakes have been raised. He and Dawkins head the atheistic fire brigade whose self proclaimed task is to raise the alert level.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 01:46 pm
@fresco,
So then... having destructive technology in the hands of non-religious fanatics would be OK with you?

You are making a circular argument-- first saying that dictators are, by you definition, "religious". Now I assume that you will say that fanatics (also by your definition) are all religious?

This is a silly argument you are making. Let's keep nukes away from crazy people-- whether they are religious or not seems irrelevant.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 01:56 pm
@ebrown p,
For fresco it would be OK viewed abstractly. I very much doubt it would be OK in practice to him. The Marquis de Sade dealt adequately enough with destructive technology in the hands of the irreligious.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 02:08 pm
@spendius,
If I had to choose between Ghandi and Marquis de Sade to have nuclear weapons--- I think I would go with the religious guy.

((For that matter-- the idea of Richard Dawkins with nuclear weapons is really scary.)).
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 02:30 pm
@ebrown p,
Fanatics with "an after-life agenda" are usually thought to be "religious" and these are the guys we can't bargain with. "Craziness" doesn't apply !
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 02:39 pm
@fresco,
Fresco, Your prejudice is not based on logic.

You can be a fanatic without being religious. You can be religious without being a fanatic.

I don't care if the people, like Barack Obama, who are in control of nuclear weapons are religious or not. I don't care if Obama believes in the after-life.

I don't think fanatics should be in control of nuclear weapons. Period.


spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 02:57 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
Fanatics with "an after-life agenda" are usually thought to be "religious" and these are the guys we can't bargain with. "Craziness" doesn't apply !


Who can you bargain with if power is not a factor apart from those who share a similar set of religiously derived values. There are no values in evclution theory.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 02:59 pm
@ebrown p,
Prejudice is never "logical". It is axiomatic and probably evolutionary in origin.

Yes, you can be "religious" without being fanatical, but as Haris points out, religious moderates have no jurisdiction over their extremists who see moderates as lacking in moral fibre. He argues that moderates reify normally benign myths such as " the afterlife" and "transmit the virus" which then mutates into a dangerous version. In extremis he is arguing that all believers are accessories to 9/11 !
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 04:22 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
. In extremis he is arguing that all believers are accessories to 9/11 !


It's been obvious for a long time fresco that you would end up milking the "I'm a saver of lives" udder.

I presume you were in favour of "Security" searching Andy Murray's kit bag when he was entering the Wimbledon complex.

When do we get to the catatonia?
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 08:49 am
Annoyed I found this thread late.

I find Dawkins a necessary and natural voice in today's society, but I find his mission to convert people from one set of given fundamental truths to a different set misses the point somewhat, as people have mentioned.

However, a book which merely encourages the general public to think philosophically about their belief systems and cultivate epistemological skepticism wouldn't sell nearly as well.

I would be interested to hear from a believer who has read the book what difference it made to their faith.

Religion offers a more comfortable, well rounded life view than the 'dry facts' of science. I don't think Dawkins takes into account the strong emotional attachment between a person and their truths-
I can think of a number of Christians who would remain unconverted after reading The God Delusion, due to its manner of attack.


farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 09:11 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Good point. DAwkins just needed to "get all that off his chest" and his previous book THE ANCESTORS TALE tried to sum up the process of evolution in various species by a "pop" approach. It was unsatisfying and he was severely critiqued by others (excluding all the kudos on his book cover). Religion was always his bugaboo and I think that he actually snapped with the God Delusion
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 09:15 am

I like the way that Deepak Chopra, M.D. put it -- something like:
we think of ourselves as human beings with occasional spiritual experiences,
but we are actually spiritual beings with occasional human experiences.





David
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 10:57 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
we think of ourselves as human beings with occasional spiritual experiences,
but we are actually spiritual beings with occasional human experiences.


I have absolutely no idea what that means... but if it sells books, I guess it is OK.

I have no more respect for Deepak Chopra than I do for Richard Dawkins.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 11:07 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:
we think of ourselves as human beings with occasional spiritual experiences,
but we are actually spiritual beings with occasional human experiences.


I have absolutely no idea what that means... but if it sells books, I guess it is OK.

I have no more respect for Deepak Chopra than I do for Richard Dawkins.


Is your non-respectful opinion of him
based upon what u have read or what u heard Dr. Chopra say ?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 11:34 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Religion is clearly a human trait-- it is seen in the vast majority of human cultures and has developed independently in cultures without contact. As a human trait (for those of us who believe in evolution) it is clearly based on evolved behaviors. As such it shouldn't be thought of in any different terms than any other evolved trait.

This is the problem with Dawkins (and his disciples). They argue that religion is bad-- but the only way they can do this is to reach for an absolute truth on which to base their attacks on religion.

1) Although Dawkins thinks belief in god is bad, too, his main thrust is that the belief is false. It is possible to debunk beliefs without being in possession of any ultimate truth. The belief in astrology, in alchemy, or in homeopathy are cases in point.

2) I don't see the connection you are making between religion being a human trait, and your allegation that it shouldn't be thought of in terms of good and bad. Cancer is a human trait too. It is present in even more human culture than faith in god is. And yet, you have no problem calling cancer a bad thing -- do you?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 11:43 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
"Evidence in this 2005 article".

That's not evidence, that's just more hearsay. There's a reason the two are not considered the same.

But at least, I'm now getting a sense where your misunderstanding comes from. Your article sounds as if it referred to a talking point Dawkins often makes about religion, but paraphrased it in a way that used "religion" and spirituality interchangeably.

In countering the frequently-made claims that "scientist X is or was religious", a popular "X" being Einstein, Dawkins likes to point out that on closer examination, "religious" doesn't necessarily mean belief in any of the truth-claims that religion make. Often -- not always, Kenneth Miller being a counterexample -- the scientist in question merely stands in awe of the universe and the way it is ordered.

Dawkins acknowledges that the term religion is sometimes used that way, states that in this sense, even he himself is religious, and criticizes this usage because he thinks words should be used in the way people generally use them. For details, see chapter one of his God Delusion.

It appears that your source paraphrased this talking point using "religion" and "spirituality" interchangeably, and made a hash out of it as a consequence.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 12:04 pm
@Thomas,
Equating Religion with disease is silly. What is a "disease" is purely subjective-- if someone wants a trait (even cancer) then, by any sane definition, it wouldn't be a disease, would it?

Our own culture until recently considered homosexuality a disease. It was just 30 years ago it was removed from the DSM (the American Psychiatric Association's official definition of what constitutions a mental disease).

Cultures have different ways of dealing with death. I don't know any culture that reveres cancer, but there are certainly cultures that revere psychosis (which we consider a disease).

In modern American culture, we treat aging (a purely natural process in many cultures) as a disease.


Quote:
our allegation that it shouldn't be thought of in terms of good and bad.


The point is that any opinion you have on whether anything is good or bad is, at its core, based on subjective values.

There is no way to base values on reason (you can use reason to expand values, but the core values are purely subjective), and there is no way to base values on universal truth (i.e. truth that is applicable outside of your culture).

... unless of course you would accept a religion. And accepting a religion is exactly what Dawkins, et. al, have done.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 12:08 pm
@farmerman,
Farmerman wrote:
If you notice the title of the thread , it asks MY opinion.

Fair enough, let me rephrase my question then: Do you think there is value in a dialogue between alchemists and chemists? Or a dialogue between astrologers and astronomers? Or between doctors and chiropracters? If not -- and I'm pretty sure that you don't -- then why do you consider a dialogue between scientists and theologians valuable? What's so valuable about it, beyond the general pleasure that polite conversation inherently brings?

farmerman wrote:
ANYWAY, Dawkins actual credentials as a researcher are limited."

Noone is omniscient, and noone has unlimited scientific credentials. That would be a ridiculous standard to hold a scientist to. That said, let's look at his CV, (available as a PDF here), under "articles and small books". At first glance, I see three Science papers and four Nature papers. Dawkins's credentials as a biologist are top notch even if they aren't unlimited, and even if they don't put him in Nobel Prize winning territory.

farmerman wrote:
I am not impressed with his arguments because they are attacks rather than arguments, thats pretty much my own feeling in summation.

But you don't need fancy arguments if the claims of your opposition are so weak. "Look at the emperor! He's bloody naked!" also isn't much of an argument, and can easily be construed as an attack on His Majesty. But who cares? It's the right point to make!
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2009 12:17 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown wrote:
Equating Religion with disease is silly.

As it happens I disagree with that, but that's not my argument here. Rather, I was responding to your claim that since religion is part of the human condition and present in all human cultures, it follows that it makes no sense to call it good or bad. This logic is erroneous, and I'm using cancer as an illustration of the error.

ebrown p wrote:
There is no way to base values on reason (you can use reason to expand values, but the core values are purely subjective), and there is no way to base values on universal truth (i.e. truth that is applicable outside of your culture).

... unless of course you would accept a religion. And accepting a religion is exactly what Dawkins, et. al, have done.

I prefer to approach these things as a matter of degree. Values like "be nice to people, and don't talk with your mouth full" require much less religion than reciting the Apostle's creed and believing it. Although I dmit that technically, the former kind of values cannot be completely be stated without beliefs, and cannot completely underpinned by reason alone.
 

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