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Dawkins banned due to atheism

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Falvlun, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    You're welcome.

    I think you are, and allow me to tell you why i think so. From my point, the notion of 'accept things only based on evidence' isn't very impressive to put it lightly. That is, i think its a wrong approach to take, to only accept things based on evidence. Since some things can't be judged by that because they're simply untestable to begin with. Or unfalsifiable, at least for the time being. Thus, dismissing it on the grounds of lack of evidence is something i disagree with.

    If i wanted to be blunt about it, i would also say that this notion is silly and talk about it in a disrespecting manner. However, i do the opposite, i try to understand why some people view things this way. If someone called Atheists deluded in general or things of the like, i also loose the respect i might have had for them. I will expand on why i think this topic should be approached this way in a later part.

    Well he did at one point tell him "don't laugh, you're demeaning it" or something like that. What i'm saying is even if he was bothered by the fact that the interviewer was assumably dismissing it while in fact its entirely possible, he was also bothered by the way he was doing that.

    Sorry, i forgot to address that question. Couple of points:

    1) I do think we should be respectful in those other topics as well. The only exceptions where i think it would be totally understandable to talk like that to someone is if their views are actually harming anybody.

    2) The topic of religion, beliefs, life, its purpose etc.. is different than politics or sports in two parts:

    a) That its usually held very dear, more than say sports or politics (although i realize there are people who hold those other things just as dear).

    b) Because in my view its a topic that we know very little about. Most of the claims or concepts are addressing things that are untestable like i said, so whatever view you decide to choose, you shouldn't be too confident and dismissing of other people's views regarding the subject.

    In other words, for the same reason i think we should be respectful in general, and in addition due to the nature of the topic to begin with which makes it even less understandable to me when someone acts that way.
     
  2. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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    I'm tempted to write a lengthy argument for why I think your approach is incorrect, but that would detract from the topic of the tread.
    Suffice to say that the number of things that are unfalsifiable can be found in infinite numbers and I see no reason to treat any one of them different than any of the others.
    I appreciate that you do and I think you are wrong, but that is a discussion for another tread. :)

    The definition of the word 'delusion' being: "an idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument" means that until any evidence for a god or gods is found atheism is the rational position, whereas many of the beliefs held by many theists are, by the textbook definition, delusional.
    Whether it is polite to point this out or not is a matter of opinion, but I personally hold , and I suspect that Dawkins agrees, that truth supersedes politeness.

    Having read almost all of Dawkins' books and seen many debates and interviews in which he partakes, I feel reasonably sure that your assessment of the situation is incorrect. Rather, I think he was actually pulling a punch and trying to soften the impact of what he was saying.

    I'll reply to your points collectively.
    First of all, I am used to what one might call robust debates in which punches are rarely pulled. This, I acknowledge, is somewhat down to personal taste. However, when determining what is true or not, I don't think that punches -should- be pulled. The subject is much too important for that.
    Secondly, I think it is important to separate between having an innate respect for people and for respecting ideas.
    While people should be respected and cared for, ideas should be attacked rigorously and shown no mercy whatsoever. If they are unable to stand on their own merits and foundations, then they should be ripped to shreds and exposed for the fallacious concepts they are.
    This is how the scientific method ideally works and it has, without question, brought us further than humanity has ever reached before, enabling us on a level unprecedented in the history of this planet.
    And that is why I think some people might find Dawkins to be disrespectful, because he sees religion as just another idea, widespread as it might be, that one should dissect, examine, and when faults are found, attack them mercilessly. The fact that the idea is common is not an argument in favour of respecting the idea but rather an argument for criticising it more often and with more vigour.
     
  3. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    So sorry you had to wait - your post was at 3:48 am and I was getting my beauty sleep.


    Your question was addressed to Mr Emu and you were both referencing Dawkins comparing religion to a mental illness. I posted an essay in which Dawkins compares religion to a mental virus.

    Mr Emu has provided the quote I believe you are demanding:

    Now - I am not going to waste my time splitting hairs. Dawkins' tone is - IS - condescending and abrasive at times. I believe he knows this. I believe he intends to be so - he's certainly intelligent and intuitive enough to rein those sides of his personality in if he chooses to. But this sort of attitude and approach this sells books and gets him speaking engagements.

    This is so obvious that I am not going to waste time posting "proof" of it, because frankly I am getting tired of going through his videos and writings in order to "work this thread."

    Maybe it's just a personal thing - but personally I don't care for his style, and I would say that if he was discussing organic gardening or pet grooming.

    That being said, my position remains this, regarding the OP - He may have a legal case against the country club for breach of contract and if so, I wish him luck. The country club owner sounds like a goober and probably deserves to be sued.

    It's just a ironic shame that his actions ended up giving Dawkins exactly what he was trying to circumvent - that beloved publicity.
     
  4. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    I agree. :)

    I brought that up only to point out that despite this being my position i don't dismiss the other position which i don't ascribe to that way.

    I'm afraid almost none of what you said is true in anyway, at least in my view. First, let me offer an easier definition of 'delusion' from Wikipedia:

    A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence.

    If you agree with this definition (and according to the one you posted i think you will), that does not apply. Its only a mere opinion that you hold, there is no such evidence in this case. At the very least not in general. Which is why i think (and hope) Dawkins qualified his statement in this regard with saying "i think".

    You may want to think that you know the "truth" in this regard, but that doesn't make your position even a little special i'm afraid, you're not the first and you won't be the last (not you personally, i'm talking about anyone who holds this position).

    And here's the definition of 'Rationality':

    In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action. However, the term "rationality" tends to be used in the specialized discussions of economics, sociology, psychology and political science. A rational decision is one that is not just reasoned, but is also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem. The term "rationality" is used differently in different disciplines.

    In other words, all of this is debatable to put it lightly. You don't have the authority to say what is and what is not rational, or what is and what is not true. Such claims of "truth" are not anything but pure and simple bigotry in my opinion.

    He looked bothered, asked the interviewer not to laugh so as to not demean what he's saying, looks pretty straight forward to me. Reading all his work is unnecessary to determine what i determined here. You may however of course interpret what he said as you see fit, or according to whatever you feel is more likely.

    I think i mostly addressed what you're saying here in the previous part, but to add a little bit, like i said, there is no "determining" what is true or not here. We don't have the tools to do that. Perhaps regarding some parts, or some specific claims, but not in general.

    The reasons you shared might be why some people don't like Dawkins, but they do not negate the criticism made about him in this thread, neither does it negate the fact that those criticisms are in fact the reasons why many people dislike him or don't care for him, uninterested in listening to him etc...
     
  5. waitasec

    waitasec Veteran Member

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    no kathryn i wasn't meaning i was waiting for you :facepalm:
    its about having emu show me any footage that shows dawkins being hostile..

    you will never find footage of dawkins acting out in any hostile manner...
    and that is where this all ends. you can't and you won't.
     
  6. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    Well, here is Dawkins saying quite clearly that he is hostile toward religion. As for "acting out in any hostile manner" - I would say that simply admitting that you are hostile toward something is quite enough. Of course he's not likely to start screaming and throwing tomatoes at the camera.

    [youtube]WtC65lm4MGE[/youtube]
    Richard Dawkins - Hostile to Religion - YouTube
     
  7. waitasec

    waitasec Veteran Member

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    exactly...
    that is my point. his ammunition consists of words and words alone.
     
  8. Falvlun

    Falvlun Earthbending Lemur
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    I haven't heard that Dawkin's concept of memes has been abandoned-- if anything, it seems to be gaining ground, particularly among the general populace. This is because the concept makes great sense: It explains how concepts are passed from generation to generation, and why some tend to persist while others disappear, using the analogy of genes and survival of the fittest.

    Religious beliefs are certainly very powerful, very robust, and very successful memes, as demonstrated by their ability to persist through generations. Dawkin's likening of religious memes to viruses certainly shows his bias, but the analogy is apt, if only to display the potency of these beliefs. And yes, I do believe an argument can be made that religious beliefs often hijak the believer's ability to view their claims rationally and objectively. Not only have I experienced this personally, but I see it in real life and RF conversations, with a great example being the subject of evolution.

    Are you denying that certain religious beliefs are harmful? Children are particularly at risk for these beliefs since they are conditioned to accept what adults are telling them as true. Even such beliefs as "You need to accept Jesus or you are going to hell" are unfair and traumatizing.

    The transmission of memes may very well be the reason Dawkins opposes indoctrination of children with religious beliefs-- after all, that would break the cycle of transmission of beliefs that Dawkins believes should be eliminated from the meme pool.

    While I too feel no need to go on a crusade to stamp out religion, it is mostly because I think religion is self-combusting just fine by itself.

    Humans are wired to see agency in things, but that is due to evolutionary pressures: eg, if we believe that rustling in a bush is a lion, and it is, then we will run away and live. If we don't believe that rustling in a bush is a lion, and it is, then we won't run away and be eaten. But there's no reason why we shouldn't use our reason to overcome those tendencies. Just because it might "work" better for some people to believe that lightning is hurled by Zeus, doesn't make it a good working hypothesis for humanity. Understanding of electricity is.
     
  9. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    All of this argument over Dawkins' personality and demeanor needs to be put in perspective. Jarofthoughts made a very good point in his discussions with Badran. If Dawkins were arguing in the same manner about anything else but religion, nobody would be calling attention to his arrogance, his 'militancy', his extremism, or his insulting manners. He has put himself out there as a critic of religion, and it is really difficult to see how he could behave in a more polite way without coming off as obsequious.

    Richard Dawkins is a human being with human flaws. He is an intellectual who debates like an intellectual. More importantly, he is participating in a public debate in which many religious and non-religious figures are a lot less polite and thoughtful than he is. This is particularly easy to see when he debates public blowhards like Bill O'Reilly, where he can hardly get a word in edgewise.
     
    #169 Copernicus, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  10. linwood

    linwood Well-Known Member

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    This is hysterical.

    They booked Dawkins sponsored by Center for Inquiry and had no clue he was an atheist!!.

    LMAO, can they be more ignorant?
     
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  11. Falvlun

    Falvlun Earthbending Lemur
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    If that is not the picture of forebearance and civility, I don't know what is. I don't think I could have been as calm and civil in the face of O'Reilly's arguments as Dawkins was, and I tend to think of myself as a pretty cool cucumber.
     
  12. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    To be fair i'm posing just to say that i agree, in that last video he handled himself pretty much perfectly, unlike the other guy.
     
  13. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    I just went back and edited the link, because the original one wasn't his most recent interview with O'Reilly, which was even more outrageous. I swapped in the newer link, which I found on Huffingtonpost.com last week. I think that O'Reilly does a very good job of riding roughshod over Dawkins, who comes off as the bumbling elitist intellectual. It doesn't matter that O'Reilly's arguments are absurd and hackneyed. Most of his audience probably see them as quite reasonable. This interview was over Dawkins' most recent book, which is not an anti-religion polemic, although O'Reilly framed it that way and never gave Dawkins a chance to correct the record.
     
  14. waitasec

    waitasec Veteran Member

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    this is how he is...
    i've never seen him loose his cool. his demeanor confirms his confidence...
    his demeanor speaks volumes... go dawkins!!!
     
  15. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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    I agree with that definition, and I would like to point out that various religions certainly have many things that we can evidentially show to be not true.
    An example might be the Adam and Eve myth in the Abrahamic religions, a story that we know, as far as we can know anything, to be false.
    Other religions have concepts that are completely unfounded and unsupported by any evidence at all, for instance the notion of a soul, and if allowed to be considered true, then what stops the infinite number of other things for which we have no evidence to be considered true?

    While I agree that 'truth' is a tentative concept, through the scientific method we have been able to discern a lot more about how reality works than we have ever been able to before.
    Hence, those things that we have evidence for must logically be considered to be more 'true' than those for which we have none.

    The Oxford Dictionary defines rationalism as "based on or in accordance with reason or logic", which means that concepts that defy logic cannot justifiably be considered rational.
    There are plenty of such concepts to be found in various religions.

    Well, given that none of us are, in fact, Dawkins, nor have any easily available way to determine his intentions, I'll be happy to agree to disagree on this particular point. :)

    If we consider nothing to be true, where does that leave us?
    And if we are to consider some things to be true, what should be our criteria?

    Which for many, it seems, is an emotional response, and therefore not rational.
    Arguments, like ideas, stand or fall on their own merit, and the messenger should not matter.
     
  16. work in progress

    work in progress Well-Known Member

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    There may be some patterns of thought that make a concept of idea replicators fit with an analogy of gene replication, but the goals of memetics aren't where they were 10 years ago. For one thing, meme theorists still haven't proposed an agency for propagation and transmission of ideas similar to the role genes play in propagating biological information. And, from what I've read over the last two years on research into our intuitive ways of understanding the world, we come into the world with some hard-wired presuppositions about the way things should work, long before we come across any "memes" presented to us that could shape our attitudes. So, even if memes are able to explain some aspects of cultural transmission of ideas, they are not going to explain everything about how systems of belief - like religions - are able to develop.

    Religious beliefs are often very complex, and seem to have developed from a base of teleology and essentialism or vitalism. If children as young as three years old are creating their own reasons for "Why Are Rocks Pointy?" that shows us that our brains are not "sponges" as Dawkins used in one of his analogies about how children learn about the world. He seemed to be taking on the discredited "blank slate" explanation of the mind. One thing I haven't seen mentioned much about new atheist writers, is that they are relying on outdated and antiquated science to form their ideas about how to deal with religion and religious adherents.

    But, that analogy with viruses that Dawkins made in that essay was what I had a hard time trying to digest when I came across this work in the Devil's Chaplain collection. Viruses, especially infectious viruses are things that we feel a natural aversion to. If atheists and freethinkers adopt the attitude that the believers are infected with mind viruses, that closes off any possibility of respecting the believers or taking their ideas seriously. But, did you notice that Dawkins tampers with the mind virus hypothesis at the end of Viruses Of The Mind, where he has to present a case that scientific concepts are not mind viruses? It comes off as a poorly thought out explanation based on previous prejudices, and something that his learned friends in philosophy and psychology shouldn't have taken so seriously.

    No! And I thought I made that clear. I certainly don't believe that religious tradition should be an excuse for practices that cause harm, but I do not believe that parents teaching their children that there is a God is something harmful to them. Later in life, they may decide that there is no evidence for a creator, or an afterlife, or that we live in a universe that cares about our existence, and a lot of people find that approach to be disturbing and unsettling.

    The quest for immortality causes a lot of chaos and harm in the world, so it can lead to all sorts of problems; but on the other hand, there are many people who do not seem to be willing or able to deal with death without some sort of hope in an afterlife. My rule of thumb, is to ignore talk of souls and NDE's except where some are really trying to press the point, and claiming scientific evidence....so there are no ultimate answers for leading us into a golden age of rational enlightenment --- some are going to want to believe in God and an afterlife, while some of us will not. But, many times I find myself preferring the company of the believers and agreeing with their attitudes on other topics more than I find within the community of freethinkers.

    As mentioned previously, it is a fools quest that itself could lead to very harmful consequences if it led to the forced indoctrination of children. The problem with having both intuitive and reason-based systems of thinking and understanding is that we all have each...even the rational atheists like Dawkins....and there is nothing more dangerous than someone who doesn't realize that he is not as rational as he thinks he is. Freethinkers may not have religion influencing our decisions, but that does not mean that freethinkers are completely rational either, and will make decisions based on reason and evidence.

    I doubt it, because as mentioned previously, naturalism will not satisfy everyone. In Europe, where I am told that religion is dying, it seems that organized religion has declined for reasons other than belief and dogma -- the decline correlates with the rise of the welfare state and government institutions filling the roles that had been the exclusive domain of the churches. When it comes to supernatural beliefs, a lot of people seem to still have them, but have followed a path towards alternative religions and paranormal beliefs. I don't see it as an abandonment of supernatural beliefs until there is a little more evidence presented to make that case.

    If I recall, Dan Dennett presented something like this in "Breaking The Spell" as an explanation for our presumptions of cause and effect, and teleological thinking. I'm sure there are evolutionary reasons for our intuitive presumptions, but there is evidence that essentialism is also hard-wired into our intuitive system, and the lion-in-the-bushes example wouldn't explain that: Would You Wear A Killer's Cardigan?
     
  17. Falvlun

    Falvlun Earthbending Lemur
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    Isn't the agency for meme propogation simply other humans, groups of humans, or entire cultures via various forms of communication? I don't think anyone was expecting to find little meme-cells inside our brain. The analogy with genes is simply that-- an analogy.

    Ascribing to the meme concept doesn't mean that you deny that we have built in tendencies for other things as well. The meme concept is meant simply to explain how ideas propogate themselves within a population.

    In all likelihood, it is probably both biological and cultural predispositions that contribute to the popularity of religious beliefs. I don't think Dawkins denies that.

    Our brains are indeed sponges, and to deny that is to deny how children learn. Just because you are a sponge doesn't mean that you didn't have any substance to begin with-- in other words, you don't need to be a blank slate in order to be a sponge.

    I don't argue that teleological explanations come naturally to us. Afterall, before we knew any better, it would make sesne to ascribe unknown phenomenon to unknown gods/spirits/etc, since we knew that people and animals can cause things to happen, but we didn't know that things like gravity or electromagnetism could cause things to happen. Humans are naturally curious, and we like answers, so we make 'em up to the best of our ability in order to get 'em.

    But how does any of that refute the power of memes, or that religious beliefs are passed on in that manner? We may be predisposed to believe in beliefs that give us answers about life, the universe, and everything, but surely you can't argue that we are predisposed to believe specific answers that result from religions. The rise of specific answers is the question that memology answers.

    The point is to make us feel an aversion towards those beliefs. :shrug: If you believe that a belief system is wrong, why would you pretend that it is something good?

    And no, it doesn't make people not respect believers; if anything, it aids in understanding of how so many otherwise intelligent, rational people can believe something that is so nonsensical.

    First off, he did note right in the beginning that there are good and bad viruses. So even if you did want to label science as a virus, perhaps it is a good one. Secondly, he makes a list of those things that describe a "mind virus". If science doesn't fit those things in the list, then it's not a mind virus. Does it? You may argue for a couple of them, but the vast majority, no, science doesn't fit the bill. And as Dawkins points out "not all computer programs are viruses."

    It seems like you are saying "We believe things irrationally, oh well." Why should our response be "Oh, well"? Why shouldn't we advocate rational, substantiated thought-processes over those that, well, aren't?

    What do you mean by "essentialism"? And if it is hardwired into our intuitive system, then wouldn't there be an evolutionary basis to that too?

    Also, I don't think you have to be superstitious to not want to live in a house where murders take place. It's just a matter of aesthetics. You don't have to believe that ghosts or some bad mojo is going to latch onto you; it's just a natural revulsion towards heinous crimes-- which I do think we have evolutionary predispositions towards.

    Heck, even carrying around lucky charms isn't necessarily superstitious, but simply comforting to have something known, that reminds you of good times, around you. I used to bring a little stone elephant with me to exams, just because it was comforting to hold and would relax me, not because I believed it would impart some magical luck on me.
     
  18. atanu

    atanu Member
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    But there is a notion of virus like spreading. We can see the viruses or not?

    If Meme is not anything graspable then how it is different from any religion?

    It is, IMO, easy for someone to first declare with a wide brush and with a contempt that all religious people are absolutely close minded that good arguments will be of no use -- in short first insult the ego of the opponent. Then reel off theories that are of the realm of science fiction or imagination as facts.


    Dawkins says: An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
    -- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (1986),


    I am inclined to say that he is speading his own virus, fooling people with glib writing and good looks backed by money from Microsoft.

    Dawkins and few others calim that TOE proves against God. How does TOE disprove a God or a necessary cause?
     
    #178 atanu, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  19. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Regarding Meme however he has been more modest than his followers:

    I became a little alarmed at the number of my readers who took the meme more positively as a theory of human culture in its own right -- either to criticize it (unfairly, given my original modest intention) or to carry it far beyond the limits of what I then thought justified. This was why I may have seemed to backtrack.
    -- Richard Dawkins, The Devil's Chaplain (2004)


    When he gets older, and when he loses the financial backing, he likely will backtrack 180 degree.
     
  20. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility.
    Richard Dawkins


    Comments such as above suggest to me that Dawkins is perhaps shallow.

    Human history is replete with examples how humans have extended the natural powers given to them: to increase mobility, to increase computation power and to increase killing power through weapons. Humility is to acknowledge the natural given powers and not to deny them. Opposite of humility, IMO, is to consider that the powers are all causally determininstic products and yet claim that one is better endowed with intelligence and one is more open compared to the opponents who are all closed, infected with bad kind of virus.
     
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