I admire Richard Dawkins but…

157


Discussion by: flopster123

I want to join this site because I'm a sincere admirer of Richard Dawkins.  His bravery and honesty and his dedication to his beliefs, let alone his scientific distinction and his wonderful writing, make him one of the truly great men of the age.  I especially loved Climbing Mount Improbable which has had a huge influence on me.  But it took me in a different direction from that of its author.  I'd better come out as a Catholic but I have to say a rebellious one.  I love the Church but I'm appalled and disgusted by its authorities,  and  I cheer on Richard's relentless attacks on them.  Has anybody attacked religious authorities quite so passionately since Voltaire, perhaps even Jesus himself?  Richard won't like this but I regard him as a prophet sent by God.  Nevertheless,  I'm not at all impressed by The God Delusion although publishing it was such a brave thing to do.   Dawkins' treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare because Gloucester is blinded on stage and Clarence drowned in a butt of malmsey.   He has completely misunderstood Aquinas's 5 ways, especially the argument from design.  How can anybody think that the moral zeitgeist has improved because we don't kill dodos when half the species that exist are facing extinction, largely through our actions, by 2050?  I was rather hoping that although I'm a Catholic – even fervent I like to think – I'd be allowed on your site and a few atheists would come out raging with whom I could discuss The God Delusion.

157 COMMENTS

  1. He has completely misunderstood Aquinas’s 5 ways, especially the argument from design

    I don’t accept this just because it’s on the Internet. Please clarify what Aquinas had in mind and Dawkins misunderstood (completely!).

    • sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. Obviously this is quite a complex issue but briefly Aquinas wasn’t trying to prove the existence of God at all. He was responding to critics in the University of Paris who, ironically, were accusing himn of atheism. He was saying that Aristotle’s first mover, i.e. a cause within being, was a very good way to think about God. No Gog out there according to Aquinas. God does not exist, s(h)e is existence. The universe in its deepest place you could say. [Link to own publication removed by moderator] In reply to #1 by GOD:

      He has completely misunderstood Aquinas’s 5 ways, especially the argument from design

      I don’t accept this just because it’s on the Internet. Please clarify what Aquinas had in mind and Dawkins misunderstood (completely!).

  2. You’re absolutely welcome to the site. But if you want to start a discussion, I suggest you offer more than, “Dawkins has misunderstood x.” Tell us what specifically you think he misunderstood and how. Then we will proceed to tear your reasoning apart. ;-P

    Or you could start by offering a reason to believe in God. I’m an atheist because I haven’t heard a good one yet, but hey I’m always ready to be convinced. So go ahead. blow us away.

    • Difficult in a nutshell because I think Dawkins is what I’d call a Protestant atheist and misunderstands just about everything about Catholic belief. There is no God out there but only a cosmos that has an intelligent source. The problem starts with the trial of Galileo. Science began in a Catholic milieu but fear of the Inquisition (golly how I love and hate the Catholic Church) drove it north where it became a Protestant phenomenon. [Link to own website removed by moderator] For Protestants the Catholic Wisdom dwelling in the universe was a blasphemy. Atheists are in full reaction to the Paleyan idea of a constructor of the universe, which is incompatible with Darwin 9as Catholicism ids not) and totally unCatholic as well. We think the universe is not a construction of God but an expression of God. Which is more rational? ‘The intelligible universe we know is just unintelligibly there’ or ‘It’s intelligible because it’s an expression of an intelligence?’ There’s certainly nothing in science that denies the latter. In reply to #2 by BanJoIvie:

      You’re absolutely welcome to the site. But if you want to start a discussion, I suggest you offer more than, “Dawkins has misunderstood x.” Tell us what specifically you think he misunderstood and how. Then we will proceed to tear your reasoning apart. ;-P

      Or you could start by offering a reason to…

      • In reply to #103 by flopster123:

        We think the universe is not a construction of God but an expression of God.

        You are a pantheist, that is. This may not be wrong in the way that religions are, but it is completely pointless. It is also philosophically incoherent.

        If the universe is everything that is, you are an expression of God and so is everything that composes you. How does it add anything to your urine to say that it is an expression of God? Or an expression of an expression of God.? What contribution are you making to human knowledge by asserting that each and every one of your trillions of gut flora is touched by divinity? That’s the pointless part.

        The philosophical difficulties start with your use of the word ‘God’. ‘God’ is only one of a vast number of gods and goddesses. The god with a capital ‘G’ just happens to be the English translation of the god of the Hebrew myth. Why choose this conceited artisan as the representative god? There are plenty of other candidates. In his subsequent career as a cosmic Hitler, he is a distinctly unattractive choice.

        The abstract god of pantheism is never so abstract that he has no human characteristics at all. Intelligence is a favourite since it is the virtue which those who concoct this god see as a reflection of themselves.

  3. [CMI] took me in a different direction from that of its author. I’d better come out as a Catholic but I have to say a rebellious one.

    Did CMI convert you to Catholicism? Did it make you angry with the RCC? I can’t see it doing either, but presumably it did at least one of them. Please explain the influence CMI had on you.

    Has anybody attacked religious authorities quite so passionately since Voltaire, perhaps even Jesus himself?

    Diderot, Nietzsche, Twain, Russell, Hitchens, …

    I regard him as a prophet sent by God.

    We all know there’s literally no case at all you can make for that. This is what annoys me about religious people; no matter how many indefensible beliefs they already have, they’re always prepared to concoct extra ones on top. It doesn’t even make any sense. Given the “that’s all, folks” tone of Revelation, why would there be any post-NT prophets? Oh, right; you Catholics don’t believe in the Bible so much as the clergy (except for the rebellious people like you, I suppose). Which is like a Red Dwarf fan trusting what the actors say at sci-fi conventions over what happened in the actual episodes. Or at least it would be if people believed in Red Dwarf,

    Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare because Gloucester is blinded on stage and Clarence drowned in a butt of malmsey.

    No, it isn’t. He doesn’t say the Bible’s evils make it a bad work of literature; he thinks the KJV should be studied as literature in schools. He says the Bible’s evils don’t comport with its alleged origins in omnibenevolence.

    He has completely misunderstood Aquinas’s 5 ways, especially the argument from design.

    Prove it with details or admit you made that up. In fact, let’s go one further. Either provide an argument for the existence of a god (and, since you’re a Catholic, for all of your other religious beliefs), or admit there isn’t one and therefore Professor Dawkins was right, at least one the “is it reasonable” question. Because guess what? Whatever argument you have, we’ve each debunked it so many times we don’t even need to look anything up for it. As for whether his specific refutations are valid, the onus is on you to explicitly state what their flaws are, not simply to claim they exist. I once saw an interviewed critic claim there were errors on practically every page; but, when the interviewer asked for one example, the interviewee was struck dumb. Please be better than that.

    How can anybody think that the moral zeitgeist has improved because we don’t kill dodos when half the species that exist are facing extinction, largely through our actions, by 2050?

    Because plenty of anti-GHG efforts are being made all over the world at the level of both individuals and governments (contrary to popular belief, both Africa and China are trying to use more eco-friendly energy sources), because the policies that are objectionable on this issue are the product of a very tiny number of people, because we’re lucky to even get this much due to the problem being invisible without the kind of statistical analysis that doesn’t come naturally with human nature (pollution isn’t that similar to personally killing dodos), and because there are plenty of other issues on which to judge us and Steven Pinker’s book on the decline of violence is essential reading on that.

    • In reply to #3 by Jos Gibbons:

      [CMI] took me in a different direction from that of its author. I’d better come out as a Catholic but I have to say a rebellious one.

      Did CMI convert you to Catholicism? Did it make you angry with the RCC? I can’t see it doing either, but presumably it did at least one of them. Please explain the…
      What I admire about CMI was it’s rapture at nature. But in RD it’s always a fascination with the mechanical ingenuity of nature. I was turned off by ‘beauty is of no importance’ (p 257) I don’t think atheists have any explanation for why the world is so beautiful.

      Yes Nietsche etc of course. But RD right up there with them.

      All I said was that I regard him as a prophet sent by God not that you do. There were many widows in Israel but Elisha was sent to one in Sidon.

      God Doesn’t Exist God Is Existence (Aquinas) See my ‘Richard Dawkins Is /wrong About God Because S(h)e Doesn’t Exist.’

      Yes many attempts are being made to save species. But most of us are complacently continuing in the industrial way of life that is causing the extinction. You can’t say the moral zeitgeist has improved because that’s a thermometer tht measures all of us not just wild life specialists. Why doesn’t RD stop banging on about religion and turn to saving the earth?

      • In reply to #104 by flopster123:

        In reply to #3 by Jos Gibbons:

        Why doesn’t RD stop banging on about religion and turn to saving the earth?

        Hello Flopster,

        You finally return after 5 weeks – must be nice to have that much holidays allowing you to ignore all the Responses you initiated.

        RD ‘bangs on about religion’ because ‘saving the earth’ is so difficult in the face of religious dogma and indoctrination, which prevent rational thinking, dictate belief without evidence, undermine science and reason, and encourage folk to think that there is a better place ahead once The Rapture arrives – which true believers are positively working towards according to their personal interpretations of Scripture. The other self-serving wish-thinking is that the Faithful’s personal version of their god wouldn’t allow his Ultimate Creation to go down the shitter without some supernatural intervention, to their specific benefit….

        ‘Sophisticated’ theologians work miracles by their interpretations of the Revealed Truths written in their Holy Books, which allow them to make any kind of assertions suitable for their agendas, while ‘unsophisticated’ believers just follow the orders of their local Faith Managers, mainly without even reading the confused main texts, never mind all the contradictory fine print….

        The primary issue facing humanity is overpopulation, which drives our other problems by degrading all our supply chains and polluting all our resources. Population increase is driven and supported by most religions, for the explicit purpose of increasing their in-group size – and damn the consequences for all life forms….

        Our specie is being herded over the cliff by delusions, pseudoscience, irrational thinking and dogmas that can’t even see the truths of the past, never mind the looming realities of the present or future. The Scientific Method may not be perfect – especially in the face of denials and intrusions by faith-heads – but it’s the best way to uncover truth humanity has ever devised….

        So, why don’t YOU turn to saving the earth, by abandoning your sky-fairy mythtakes, immoral ethics, philosophical word salad distortions, and mental abuses of innocent children…. Mac.

  4. I agree with the spirit of comment 1 by “GOD”

    The significant part of your post is the Quinque viæ & yet you slip THAT in between a bunch of fluff about this, that & the other. If you genuinely want a discussion here about Aquinas’ five ways [Summa Theologica], then you have to put forward your own interpretation of Aquinas first & then go on to explain where Dawkins has misunderstood the argument.

    I detect arrogance & certainty in your post & I don’t entirely trust you. You make the case beyond your [so far] mere assertions & let us see your weapons sir!

    • In reply to #4 by Michael Fisher:

      I agree with the spirit of comment 1 by “GOD”

      The significant part of your post is the Quinque viæ & yet you slip THAT in between a bunch of fluff about this, that & the other. If you genuinely want a discussion here about Aquinas’ five ways [Summa Theologica], then you have to put forward your own…

      Dawkins has misunderstood the 5 ways in three senses (i) Aquinas wasn’t trying to prove existence of God at all but that there’s no God out there, rather a source of the universe within being. Dawkins is arguing against Paley, not Aquinas. (2) Dawkins lumps together the first three ways and thinks they are all arguments about a first cause. They aren’t. By a mover Aquinas does not mean’ whatever got it started’ RD rightly says that might as well be the Big Bang. Aquinas means the underlying meaning of everything, See later Wittgenstein. Earlier would have said a brush is really a handle plus bristles. To think it’s a whole is an illusion. Later would say ‘it’s nonsense to say ‘bring me that handle plus bristles’. It’s a brush. We make things meaningful by knowing them because things don’t create meanings but minds. Unless we are to say the world has no meaning until we evolved there must be a cosmic mind. This is what Aquinas means by a mover and I don’t think RD has at all understood that. (3) By design Aquinas does not ask ‘How can we explain the complexity of things?’ As RD says evolution does a much better job. He means ‘how do we explain that unintelligent things behave as if they were intelligent?’ RD attempts to solve the problem of agency in genes by re-writing purpose as ‘purpose’. I think that’s just a semantic evasion and to say ‘when I say purposeful please understand I mean purposeless’ literal nonsense. A cosmic intelligence giving meaning to things makes far more sense.

  5. No, you can’t join this site if you’re not an atheist. Only those who accept everything Richard has ever written or said are eligible for membership.

    Is that what you want to hear? Your opening sally does sound a little passive-aggressive.

    Anyone is allowed at the Oasis, irrespective of their views on religion, or indeed anything. Stick to the terms and conditions as laid out in the link found at the bottom right-hand corner of every page and the most fervent anti-theist here can do nothing to invalidate your enrollment. You certainly won’t be kicked off for your views, which is not a claim every institution can make.

    Speaking of which:

    I love the Church but I’m appalled and disgusted by its authorities, and I cheer on Richard’s relentless attacks on them.

    How can one claim to love a regime which is characterized by its authoritarianism but be appalled and disgusted by its authorities? Is this that cognitive dissonance thing I’m always hearing about? If you mean you love the laypeople who make up the ranks of the Church, then you’ll get no argument from me; ordinary churchgoers, of any religion you care to name, are overwhelmingly decent and no different to any other demographic. Most Catholics I know are good eggs: approving of gay marriage and birth control, and as appalled by the child abuse cover ups as the rest of us. The worst that can usually be said about them is they’re enablers of all this evil. Which is bad enough, but not a capital offense. Most priests are probably decent enough, too. They can’t all be perverts.

    Richard won’t like this but I regard him as a prophet sent by God.

    I’m sure Richard would get a kick out of being regarded as one of God’s prophets. I’m not sure why God would send him to us though. Is He testing our faith like when He planted the dinosaur bones? If Richard is one of God’s prophets then that means he’s either ignorant of his status as such and God is treating him like a dupe, tricking not only him but everyone else – again; or Richard is cognizant of his divine role and lying whenever he speaks about God’s non-existence. So he’s either a patsy or a massive fibber. And this is someone about whom you say:

    His bravery and honesty and his dedication to his beliefs, let alone his scientific distinction and his wonderful writing, make him one of the truly great men of the age.

    To be perfectly honest, flopster123, and I very much hope I’m wrong, I doubt we’re going to hear much else from you, on this thread or any other. I think you want a few of us to “come out raging” so you can confirm any prejudices you have about atheists being shrill and rude and unchristian.

    As I say, I hope I’m wrong, and even that you become a fixture here. If you get chased away by some of the more hostile members though, it’s all on you. You need to stand up to these folks or they’ll eat you alive. If you’re sincere then I’ve got your back.

    • In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:

      No, you can’t join this site if you’re not an atheist. Only those who accept everything Richard has ever written or said are eligible for membership.

      Is that what you want to hear? Your opening sally does sound a little passive-aggressive.

      Anyone is allowed at the Oasis, irrespective of their view…
      Hi Katy. I think there’s an awful lot wrong with religion and we should be grateful to atheists for pointing it out. But that doesn’t mean the whole thing’s wrong. I’m not going to stop believing in democracy because Blair and Bush took us to war in Iraq. Anything with good in it will be got hold of by evil people and that;s as true of science as religion. There would have been no atom bombs or zyklon B without science but I don’t stop believing in science because the Nazis misused Darwin. In the Catholic faith conscience is always the supreme judge. What the Church asks us to do is to listen to what it says carefully, hence why so many Catholics use birth control but still think of themselves as Catholics. But admittedly we’ve got a big authority problem. The Vatican’s idea that they tell us all what to do and we jump to it is not at all right. According to brain science the head articulates what has been decided deep in the body and we need new structures to allow ideas to come up more easily from below. But then I’d say democracy has been ruined by tabloid newspapers that only ever give one side of controversial questions. But I still read newspapers. There’s a lot more to the Church than the Vatican and it’s that that we love.

      • “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”

        “What we have to fight for is the necessary security for the existence and increase of our race and people, the subsistence of its children and the maintenance of our racial stock unmixed, the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator. “

        “Thus inwardly armed with confidence in God and the unshakable stupidity of the voting citizenry, the politicians can begin the fight for the ‘remaking’ of the Reich as they call it.”

        Adolf Hitler

        In reply to #106 by flopster123:

        In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:

        No, you can’t join this site if you’re not an atheist. Only those who accept everything Richard has ever written or said are eligible for membership.

        Is that what you want to hear? Your opening sally does sound a little passive-aggressive.

        Anyone is allowed at the…

    • In reply to #6 by adiroth:

      Hello flopster, you’re free to stay here and disagree as much as you like. This is not a church, you’re entitled to have your own opinion.

      don’t want to seem sucking up but the Catholic Church is dreadful on this and compares very badly with atheists.

  6. Welcome to the table Flopster. But if you are here to argue anything, be sure to have your evidence in hand. And please try to avoid the usual childish assertions and logical flaws that have been debunked a thousand times before. We get so tired of hearing them again and again.

    If you call yourself a Catholic, then presumably you believe in Virgin Birth, the Trinity, the necessity of the sacraments for salvation, the literal resurrection of the flesh, the presence of the holy spirit in the communion host, eternal reward or punishment, and the infallibility of canon law.
    Now, instead of arguing about your list of objections to (your understanding of) Richard Dawkins’ views, why don’t we address any one of those Catholic doctrines and see how well they stand up. After all, it is NOT atheists who are presenting an absurd story and demanding that it be believed. It is YOU who are presenting the absurd claims (see list above) and you who need to provide the proof.

    If you do NOT hold the doctrines listed above, perhaps you might describe YOUR understanding of god and his/her expectations so that we might address those assertions.

    • In reply to #7 by justinesaracen:

      Welcome to the table Flopster. But if you are here to argue anything, be sure to have your evidence in hand. And please try to avoid the usual childish assertions and logical flaws that have been debunked a thousand times before. We get so tired of hearing them again and again.

      If you call yourself…
      Hello Justine. Sorry to be so late in replying. Too much here to tackle all at once. I’d go along with Aquinas and say theology is analogical i.e. as much untrue as it is true since we can no almost nothing of God. But I believe there is another dimension of existence beyond this present one and I think physics is now beginning to uncover it and it also finds its discoveries are beyond rational comprehension. I’ve no idea whether the Trinity is true. But gives me a way of personally dwelling as it were in this other dimension whereas atheism gives me nothing at all. Do wish you’d all come off this ‘science hasn’t found God’ stance. Science is never going to prove or disprove God.

    • Hello Justine. Sorry to be so late in replying. Too much here to tackle all at once. I’d go along with Aquinas and say theology is analogical i.e. as much untrue as it is true since we can no almost nothing of God. But I believe there is another dimension of existence beyond this present one and I think physics is now beginning to uncover it and it also finds its discoveries are beyond rational comprehension. I’ve no idea whether the Trinity is true. But gives me a way of personally dwelling as it were in this other dimension whereas atheism gives me nothing at all. Do wish you’d all come off this ‘science hasn’t found God’ stance. Science is never going to prove or disprove God.In reply to #7 by justinesaracen:

      Welcome to the table Flopster. But if you are here to argue anything, be sure to have your evidence in hand. And please try to avoid the usual childish assertions and logical flaws that have been debunked a thousand times before. We get so tired of hearing them again and again.

      If you call yourself…

  7. @ flopster123 – Nevertheless, I’m not at all impressed by The God Delusion although publishing it was such a brave thing to do. Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare because Gloucester is blinded on stage and Clarence drowned in a butt of malmsey.

    Hi flopster123.

    One problem for those who have been indoctrinated from childhood, by the RCC, is the things they take for granted as assumptions, so even when they rebel, the deep-rooted confusions remain.

    One of the worst features of the RCC is “faith-thinking”, in which dogmas are claimed ( by various forms of verbosity) to trump reasoning and evidence. This dates to Pope PiusXI and Vatican 1.

    On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, during the papacy of Pope Pius IX, who defined dogmatically papal infallibility during the First Vatican Council in 1869–70. The council has a section on “Faith and Reason” that includes the following on science and faith:

    “9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I)

    “10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I)

    The Modern RCC claims to now accept the science, of the big-bang and evolution, but is very vague on how the science and dogmas are supposed to be compatible (They are not). The explanations vary from argument to argument and theologian to theologian.

    The other feature for most Christians is that they have been told many FOLK STORIES ABOUT “The Bible”but little or none of its history.

    If you are to discuss the “GOD of the God Delusion” first you need to define its supposed properties and interaction with the material universe. (Vague references to magic are unimpressive.)

    Perhaps a little history of the Old testament God will help:-
    **The Early History of God **

    The history of the emergence of Judaism and monotheism has been the subject of study since at least the 19th century and Julius Wellhausen’s Prolegomena to the History of Israel; in the 20th century a work was William F. Albright’s Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), which insisted on the essential otherness of Yahweh from the Canaanite gods from the very beginning of Israel’s history. Smith and others believe that Israel and its religion emerged gradually from a West Semitic and Canaanite background.

    Smith begins from the understanding that Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in origin, and that deities such as El, Baal and Asherah, far from being alien to the Israelites, formed part of their heritage. He therefore sees Israelite monolatry (the insistence that Israel should worship one god, Yahweh, but without denying the reality of other gods) as a break with Israel’s own past.

    Yahweh, he argues, originated in Edom/Midian/Teman as a warrior-god and was subsequently assimilated into the highland pantheon headed by El and his consort, Asherah and populated by Baal and other deities.[2]

    Smith sees this process as marked by two major phases, which he describes as “convergence” and “differentiation.” In the period of the Judges and the early monarchy, convergence saw the coalescence of the qualities of other deities, and even the deities themselves, into Yahweh. Thus El became identified as a name of Yaweh, Asherah ceased to be a distinct goddess, and qualities of El, Asherah and Baal (notably, for Baal, his identification as a storm-god) were assimilated into Yahweh. In the period from the 9th century BC through to the Exile certain features of the Israelite religion were differentiated from the Yahweh cult, identified as Canaanite, and rejected: examples include Baal, child sacrifice, the asherah, worship of the sun and moon, and the cults of the “high places”

    • Hi alan 4 sorry to be so late in replying. Yes I sympathize with the way many children are indoctrinated (doesn’t happen so much nowadays) but I have to say I’ve never met a Catholic who was terrified into line by hell as RD claims tohave done so often. there’s always Berluscono to redress the balance. I’m as horrifed as you by the totalitariamism of teh C hurch but I regard it as like living in a country taken over by a military regime. You still love your country even though you hate the government. No modern Biblical theologian would have any problem with your Smith passage. We realize the Bible has fictionalized the account. But then so do our brains. I’m writing a book on very topic of how God can interact with material universe. Too complex to discuss here but God is not the constructorr but the meaning of the universe. I don’t find any quarrel with science in that. n reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:*

      @ flopster123 – Nevertheless, I’m not at all impressed by The God Delusion although publishing it was such a brave thing to do. Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare because Gloucester is blinded on stage and Clarence drowned in a butt of malmsey….

  8. I admire Richard Dawkins but…

    Yay, another one of those ‘But’.

    You don’t have to agree with everything he says. That’s called having an opinion.

    Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare …

    Is it really!

    • Yay reallyIn reply to #9 by papa lazaru:

      I admire Richard Dawkins but…

      Yay, another one of those ‘But’.

      You don’t have to agree with everything he says. That’s called having an opinion.

      Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare …

      Is it really!

  9. Welcome to the site. I wish we had a more diverse group here actually. But IMO there is a fundmental flaw in your understanding of Dawkins’ ideas. You seem to think he has something personal against the church. That he doesn’t like Christianity the way say I don’t like most popular music that’s classified as hip hop. That’s not it at all. His work shows the logical flaws in Christianity and other religions and shows that from a rational standpoint there are much better explanations for why people believe in Gods than that Christianity or any religion are true. The fundamental argument isn’t about liking or disliking some ideas its about trying to find the truth.

    Also, you are wrong when you say he totally dismisses the bible. Some of his followers who comment here do but he doesn’t. Like me he recognizes the bible as a great work of western literature that has inspired countless other great works of fiction and philosophy. You can admire a good story and poetic language without thinking there is literal truth in it or that its a guide for how a modern person should live.

    • Hello Red Dog. sorry to be so late in replying. Yes I have to agree RD has a great veneration for the Bible which is one of the lovely things about him. I was only talking about his treatment of the Bible in The God Delusion. No I don’t think RD has anything personal against the Church I think his logical arguments against it are logically wrong. I hope they’ll let me do another post so I can develop this. .In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

      Welcome to the site. I wish we had a more diverse group here actually. But IMO there is a fundmental flaw in your understanding of Dawkins’ ideas. You seem to think he has something personal against the church. That he doesn’t like Christianity the way say I don’t like most popular music that’s cla…

  10. Welcome, Flopster123. I trust your initial article is only an appetizer and you will soon be presenting your arguments concerning Richard Dawkins’s misunderstanding of Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways. In the past I did quite a bit of work on Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae by Aquinas and still have a deep affection for that earnest mediaeval thinker whose greatest contribution to civilization was to reinstate reason as the guiding principle of human life, some eight hundred years after Greek rationalism had been stifled by Constantine’s new state religion. One of the things that impresses anyone who has read Aquinas’s work is the thoroughness of his method of treating questions and the detail in which he deals with objections and counterobjections until he arrives at his conclusions, which in many cases are accompanied by several corollaries, animadversions and afterthoughts. By contrast, his treatment of the Five Ways is shockingly scant – they cover less than two pages. They are only the barest sketches of arguments, as though Aquinas was too busy with questions that mattered in the real lives of Christians to see fit to spend time on developing these sketches with his usual thoroughness, for the existence of God was then “obvious” to all, taken for granted, a basic assumption about reality that would have been merely silly to deny. Hence, as they stand in the Summa Theologiae, the Five Ways are not at all satisfactory, especially because they are all found to beg the question. What Aquinas might have done with these five deictic sketches, if he had seen fit to develop them in his usual manner, is anybody’s guess. My guess is that he might well have concluded that they prove nothing either for or against God’s existence. These Five Ways, inadequate though they be, have been made much of by later generations of Christians faced with the growing challenge of naturalism, materialism and atheism, whereas Aquinas himself scarcely gave them a thought.

    • Hello Cairsley Sorry to be so late in replying. Lovely to have somebody who’s actually read and appreciated Aquinas. How right you are that he didn’t think them that important. Yes I really hope they will let me do another post. He wasn’t trying to prove the existence of God at all but to reply to people who, ironically, were accusing him of atheism. what he was saying was that there is no God somewhere beyond the sky but a source of being within the universe. I don’t think this is in any way incompatible with science. Most atheists are saying no to Paley and if they knew more Aquinas might think again.

      In reply to #11 by Cairsley:

      Welcome, Flopster123. I trust your initial article is only an appetizer and you will soon be presenting your arguments concerning Richard Dawkins’s misunderstanding of Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways. In the past I did quite a bit of work on Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae by Aquinas and still…

  11. Welcome. Back when I was a deist, I used to think that atheists were some sort of spiritually unaware house cleaners. They would burn away any spiritual untruths so that we as a society would eventually be left with what was actually true. When I started to realize the problems within my church, I decided to go to the atheists to help me clarify certain inconsistencies in the church’s teachings – little did I know that every bit of belief would eventually be burned away. I get your idea of prophet. Instead of preaching “love and light” they move through life with a mighty sword cutting down any untruths and injustices along the way.

    You are welcome here, but know that in general atheists stick to the facts even if they are painful to accept. At times, visiting theists think atheists are being mean when we are actually “saying it like it is.” Just remember to not take anything personal. Step away from the computer for a day, reread the comments and recognize the comment was most likely not a personal attack. At times, it might be personal, don’t get defensive – ignore the comment – knowing the truth is more important than getting offended.

    You say that you love the church, but you are appalled by its authorities. Know that a church is established by its authorities. You can separate the religion from the authorities and try say Lutheranism, but you will still encounter problems with the religion when you start to examine some of the belief that might be at the heart with some of the authorities’ motivation.

    • Hi Kat. Sorry to be so late in replying. I think there’s a distinction in science between facts and meanings. If you look at the history of science you find that scientists in every age have always misunderstood what they have discovered. The stick to the facts stance is quite misleading. What it’s saying is that there is no meaning beyond the facts but by definition the facts themselves can’t tell you whether that is true or not. The argument thar=t science hasn’t found God therefore there is no God is false. The Church is not established by its authorities. I see it like living in a country that’s been taken over by a military dictatorship. You’d still love your country. In reply to #12 by QuestioningKat:

      Welcome. Back when I was a deist, I used to think that atheists were some sort of spiritually unaware house cleaners. They would burn away any spiritual untruths so that we as a society would eventually be left with what was actually true. When I started to realize the problems within my church, I d…

  12. Let me be one of the first to say Welcome! and please do join the site. You’ve already joined the conversation.

    I was rather hoping that although I’m a Catholic – even fervent I like to think – I’d be allowed on your site and a few atheists would come out raging with whom I could discuss The God Delusion.

    I think that what appears as rage may just be excitement misinterpreted. People here seem to live for the scientific method. I’d also be surprised to find out that someone would not be allowed to join. The only way to know if you can discuss The GOD Delusion would be to submit the topic for discussion and see if it makes it by the unholy moderators.

    So Join. Do it. Do it. Bring your friends too.

    • Hello DHW. Thanks for this. I do have to say your sie is a lot more tolerant and broadminded than a Catholic one would be. There’s all be discussing whether Mass should be in Latin or priests wear lace. In reply to #13 by DWH:

      Let me be one of the first to say Welcome! and please do join the site. You’ve already joined the conversation.

      I was rather hoping that although I’m a Catholic – even fervent I like to think – I’d be allowed on your site and a few atheists would come out raging with whom I could discuss The God D…

  13. The Christian contention in that every last word in the bible is the word of the creator of the universe, unaltered and perfectly true.

    All a mathematician has to do to demolish that silly contention is find one counter example. Dawkins gave you dozens.
    He does not have to show all of it is nonsense.

    How can anybody think that the moral zeitgeist has improved

    Where did Dawkins make a claim that we now take better care of endangered species? That is just a straw man argument.

    With the withdrawal of religion we have dropped the Spanish Inquistion and witch burning. At least in Canada we have stopped beating gay people to death with 2x4s as Christians believed was a holy rite. We have dropped slavery which is thoroughly endorsed by the Bible.

    Aquinas was a pompous windbag in my opinion who just played word games using poorly defined abstract words. If you think his argument makes sense I invite you to explain it in modern language.

    • Dear Roedy. sorry to be so late in replying. Your ideas about the Bible are those of ignorant fundamentalists. Catholics think it’s largely fiction. But so is Hamlet. RD does claim the moral zeitgeist has moved on to caring more for animals which seems to me manifestly untrue. Yes the history of the Church is horrific but so is the history of the British Empire but I’m not handing back my passport. Can’t agree with y about Aquinas. I hope they’ll let me do another post. In reply to #14 by Roedy:

      The Christian contention in that every last word in the bible is the word of the creator of the universe, unaltered and perfectly true.

      All a mathematician has to do to demolish that silly contention is find one counter example. Dawkins gave you dozens.
      He does not have to show all of it is nonsen…

  14. Good sir/madam “his dedication to his beliefs” is where my heart sunk, as I like to read each post on this site as a potentially merit-holding one. Scientists do not base their lives on ‘beliefs’. If this needs to be extrapolated upon, you perhaps clicked ‘sign up’ too soon.

    Please read or YT-watch Dawkins and Hitchens’ debates against people like your parents who think it’s ok to lie to infants.

    • All scientists base their lives on beliefs especially atheist ones as science does not tell us whether God exists or not. You just interpret it that way. In reply to #15 by Timothy McNamara:

      Good sir/madam “his dedication to his beliefs” is where my heart sunk, as I like to read each post on this site as a potentially merit-holding one. Scientists do not base their lives on ‘beliefs’. If this needs to be extrapolated upon, you perhaps clicked ‘sign up’ too soon.

      Please read or YT-watch…

  15. Let’s start off with the basics:

    1. As has been demonstrated by most of the responses, making claims of someone with no evidence to back it up is huge no-no on the RD site. And in this case, more information is required to actually understand some of your more confusing assertions. How has he misunderstood Aqunias? Which way is the proper understanding in your view? In what way has he misunderstood the bible? Your Shakespeare example lack quite a bit of clarity.

    2. Please explain your apparent position that Dawkins is the authority on the moral zeitgeist. To my knowledge he has never made such a claim.

    3. Hitchens and others have mentioned on numerous occasions that the vast majority of species that have lived on this planet are already extinct, and arguing that half of of the current species face extinction by human means as a measure of morality hardly holds up as humans being worse off morally. How much of what is being asserted here is actually verifiable? What specific actions are responsible for said calamity, and how does it demonstrate moral decline?

    4. If this is discussion posted and people are responding to it, you don’t need permission to join the site or the discussion. Anyone following the basic guidelines of the site is welcome. So discuss away, just know that you have to present credible evidence for any claims made.

    It might also help to better understand your issues with the God Delusion if you simply mention what those issues are. I’m inclined to agree with some of the people that have posted this whole discussion is little more about fanning the flames than addressing the issues. Though of course I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

    • Hi achromat666 sorry to be so late in replying. I’m hoping they’ll let me do another post on Aquinas. RD does say that teh moral zeitgeist has improved and I think I’m free to doubt that. In reply to #16 by achromat666:

      Let’s start off with the basics:

      As has been demonstrated by most of the responses, making claims of someone with no evidence to back it up is huge no-no on the RD site. And in this case, more information is required to actually understand some of your more confusing assertions. How has he misunde…

      • In reply to #126 by flopster123:

        Hi achromat666 sorry to be so late in replying. I’m hoping they’ll let me do another post on Aquinas. RD does say that teh moral zeitgeist has improved and I think I’m free to doubt that. In reply to #16 by achromat666:

        Let’s start off with the basics:

        As has been demonstrated by most of the res…

        I believe you’re referring to this statement I made:

        Please explain your apparent position that Dawkins is the authority on the moral zeitgeist. To my knowledge he has never made such a claim.

        How does that infer that I don’t think you can doubt that? I was asking you to explain your position and posing my lack of knowledge to such a claim.

        And another Aquinas post is not necessary in my case, I simply need clarity on what you think he misunderstands.

  16. If you find the Catholic church so repulsive and you disagree with them, why don’t you repudiate Catholicism altogether? Why brand yourself a “catholic” and therefore associate yourself with them? I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but the impression that you give me is that you are, deep down, truly a deist. I do not have very much information to base this judgement on, but it is where my intuition leads me. I could be wrong. At the least, you could refer to yourself with the umbrella term “Christian” or use the label, in a general way, “theist.” You vaguely remind me of openly, proudly gay people that I have met who claim to be fervent Christians. I point out to them that the book that their religion is based upon, evidently authored by their god, explicitly forbids homosexuality. They usually respond by saying something like “Well, but Jesus loves everyone!” or asserting that I am misconstruing the bible’s verses, even though they appear quite straightforward to me. (I passionately believe in the rights of gay people. I think it is atrocious that they are denied basic liberties. I am an atheist, and I do not believe that the bible is a good source of morality. I just thought that I should clarify those things before continuing.) The point of this example is to elucidate the inconsistencies and contradictions that arise when you mix sense and nonsense together. This leads me to my conclusion: why do you believe in god and what reasons do you have to think that he exists?

    • Hello Petermead. so sorry I’m late in replying I’ve been on holiday. The atrocitites committed by the Church have mostly been at the instigation of its authorities and there’s more to it than its authorities. I think the way we treat the third world is atrocious but I don’t want to stop being a western liberal, just to reform my country. The whole history of the Church is very twisted about sex. In the end Catholics have to use their conscience and some think homosexuality is right just as some think contraception is right. I usually think that the church is right in principle but has distorted its own teaching in practice. As I’m not a homosexual I don’t think I’m in a position to judge on that. On God I’ve written a new post on Aquinas’s 5 ways which I hope the administrators will publish. really have a passionate viChIn reply to #17 by petermead1:

      If you find the Catholic church so repulsive and you disagree with them, why don’t you repudiate Catholicism altogether? Why brand yourself a “catholic” and therefore associate yourself with them? I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but the impression that you give me is that you are, deep down, truly…

  17. This is amazing. An excellent example of cognitive dissonance and motivated reasoning. Of what value is your rebellious catholicism? Do you actually think you are going to effect any change in Catholic dogma? Your analogy of Dawkins’s dismissal of the bible to someone dismissing the whole of Shakespeare simply fails. First of all, we can, should, and do dismiss Shakespeare’s works as representing actual history, just as we do the bible. Secondly, unlike Shakespeare’s works, millions of people take the bible as containing truth claims about nature, about history, and about morals, ethics, and values. And they act on these beliefs in ways that are deleterious to many individuals and to society at large. No one, to my knowledge, does this in the case of the works of Shakespeare.

    Please explain how Dawkins has misunderstood Aquinas. You asserting that he does is not a sufficiently convincing argument that he actually does. Since you apparently understand Aquinas so well, please enlighten us as to where Dawkins goes wrong in his treatment of Aquinas’s 5 ways and his argument from design.

    • Hello RandyP sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I dont think my analogy with Shakespeare does fail. It’s true RD loves the Bible and shows great respect for it. But in The God Delusion he only refers to the punitive Jehovah of Genesis and since this is part of his argument against religion does need to refer to other things in the Bible if he’s to make his point. Fundamentalists might take the Bible literally but Catholics don’t. What matters for me is the charisma of Christ in the New Testament not the detailed moral precepts of Deuteronomy. I’m inspired by it as I’m inspired by Shakespeare I’ve written a new piece on Aquinas 5 Ways which I hope the editors will publish. In reply to #18 by RandyP:

      This is amazing. An excellent example of cognitive dissonance and motivated reasoning. Of what value is your rebellious catholicism? Do you actually think you are going to effect any change in Catholic dogma? Your analogy of Dawkins’s dismissal of the bible to someone dismissing the whole of Shakesp…

  18. Ditto what adiroth said about being free to have your own opinion. But just thought it should be made clear at the outset flopster that you are not entitled to your own facts in defense of those opinions. The facts is the facts and you should be aware that you don’t get to make up your own, nor distort or misrepresent the existing ones in defending whatever opinions you to choose to express here. Now I am not accusing you of such behavior. But I’ve seen enough believers do this that I just felt compelled to warn you against doing so here, should you feel or be tempted by any compulsion to do so.

  19. I can’t help but wonder WHY you are such a fervent supporter of the RCC! Is it the theatre of the service? The colour and beauty of the garments and trappings? Is it the appeal to the senses that the RCC in particular employs to enthrall the congregation? These are all material accoutrements deliberately designed to attract the faithful. The fact that you’re appalled by the bad behaviour of the clergy and yet still maintain your allegiance, speaks volumes to me.

    • Dear Nitya. I’m sorry to be sp late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I have a strong sense of a mystery behind the appearances of nature which I think most people have had before modern times. Indeed I think science itswelf is now beginning to uncover this dimension of a rationality that is beyond our reason (wave/particle, nonlolality,backwards causation etc.) I find the church a kind of forum in which ~I can make contact as a whole person with thos other dimension in a way that this present forum, for example is no.t fIn reply to #20 by Nitya:

      I can’t help but wonder WHY you are such a fervent supporter of the RCC! Is it the theatre of the service? The colour and beauty of the garments and trappings? Is it the appeal to the senses that the RCC in particular employs to enthrall the congregation? These are all material accoutrements deliber…

      • In reply to #137 by flopster123:

        Dear Nitya. I’m sorry to be sp late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I have a strong sense of a mystery behind the appearances of nature which I think most people have had before modern times. Indeed I think science itswelf is now beginning to uncover this dimension of a rationality that is…

        I’ve noticed that most of the catholic commenters who post on this site describe a love of nature and an appreciation of the universe as their interpretation of the their religion that seems completely at odds with the way the majority of Catholics view the world. I know more about this than you think, as I know many, though they follow varying degrees of observance. By and large, they’re a deeply superstitious bunch.

        Their god isn’t a silent force in the heavens, but demands ritualistic behaviour that must be followed to the letter. They’d probably expect to be struck down dead, if they ate a morsel of meat over Easter and plaster their walls with kitch images of a collection of saints looking prayerfully to the heavens.

        I have heard at least one follower say that the service is very beautiful in a physical sense and I appreciate the fact that the churches look lovely by and large. So, I think that the aesthetic appeal, coupled with extreme ritual used to ward of bad luck, are probably the motivating forces for most. I think those of you with deeper explanations are possibly religious scholars and have branched out to more ‘science friendly’ areas.

  20. Hi. I was passing by and your post caught my interest.

    I am watching with much interest in this opening salvo. Let’s see where this leads.

    My advice is to continue reading the thread and answering the different folks that comment. This way, the thread will live a while; otherwise, it may die out.

    I am reserving my “raging” for a challenge that is worthy of my rage. You haven’t provided me with anything to get worked up about.

  21. Richard won’t like this but I regard him as a prophet sent by God.

    I don’t know how you could believe this. Do you equate every perceived justice in the world as God’s work. If you were to fall on hard times or had a perceived injustice done to you , your logic presumes that either God is angry , God is testing you or it’s all part of God’s plan for you. All these options are presupposed on something that their is absolutely no evidence for. Wouldn’t it be easier to say ‘stuff happens’.

    Dawkins’ treatment of the Bible is like somebody dismissing the whole of Shakespeare

    Shakespeare wrote fiction , if you are equating the bible to fiction , why should I take any of it on board , or indeed as with the case with popular fiction , I’m not compelled to listen to any of it , not to talk of live my life as it directs me to. I wouldn’t even afford that , to a piece of non fiction.

    • dear Pauly01. sorry to be so late but I’ve been on holiday. Fiction is a different kind of truth. Facts need fiction to attribute meanings to them. I refer you to Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times. Thee whole history of science shows us that in every age scientists have always misunderstood the facts they have discovered because facts may be certain but meanings are mythological and never are. It’s because the Bible is a wonderful work of fiction that I think it is helpful to us. I agree that stuff happens. I don’t think that there’s a divine eye overseeing everything. I’ve written another post on Aquinas’s 5 ways which I hope the editors will publish which says more about this. In reply to #22 by Pauly01:

      Richard won’t like this but I regard him as a prophet sent by God.

      I don’t know how you could believe this. Do you equate every perceived justice in the world as God’s work. If you were to fall on hard times or had a perceived injustice done to you , your logic presumes that either God is angry , G…

  22. Comparing the misogyny of the bible with the brilliance of Shakespeare is laughable at best and ignorantly inaccurate at worst. You’re happy that Mr. Dawkins attacks the church but not that he attacks the bible, yet the bible was transcribed from hearsay, then re-written, re-transcribed, re-translated, re-re-written, re-re-re-written, re-re-translated, all to fit the will of some king or religious leader living at the time and you say that it’s a work of art? It’s more like the ugliest, most racist and bigoted collage of mind control ever constructed, with a few hints of kindness sprinkled here and there to give it that “loving” feel. Absurd.

  23. Floppy are you still here?

    First, welcome. Enjoy the site.

    Second, Richard, I’m quite sure, doesn’t give a rat’s furry butt about you having a different opinion than him. That’s what makes him Richard and not a Jesus follower — now they get offended really easily. I’ve seen Richard read some really nasty emails telling him to die, rot in hell, etc and then laugh when they sign their letter, “god loves you.”

    Third, I can’t speak for Richard of course, but I think he’d be saddened by all the logical inconsistencies in your OP.

    Good luck to you in your rebelliousness. Hopefully we can help you see more clearly. We’ll sure as hell try.

    • Dear MajorPain. sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve bee on holiday. I do have to say the courtesy with which I’ve been treated on this site compares well with some of the stuff I know Richard gets. Still a Catholic though in spite of the tide of (polite on the whole) opposition I’m meeting In reply to #24 by MAJORPAIN:

      Floppy are you still here?

      First, welcome. Enjoy the site.

      Second, Richard, I’m quite sure, doesn’t give a rat’s furry butt about you having a different opinion than him. That’s what makes him Richard and not a Jesus follower — now they get offended really easily. I’ve seen Richard read some rea…

  24. Flopster, you’re flopping all over the place! Not sure what you really are trying to say. I do think that you somehow missed Mr. Hitchens as he surely was more robust in his analysis and dismantling of god(s), religions, holy books than the intellectual and often eloquent and more softly-spoken Mr. Dawkins. I have always found Mr. Dawkins quite the gentleman, though I suppose when he hits a nerve, or should I say shines a light exposing the ridiculousness of supernatural beliefs, then he might indeed seem ferocious!

    • Hello PetesSake. Sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday without my computer. I do agree mr Dawkins is a gent and that’s one of the things I really like about him. Have to admit I haven’t read Hitches (to do) but generally I find atheists are condeming what Catholics anyway don’t beleive. See my new post on Aquinas’s 5 Ways which i hope the editors will print In reply to #26 by PetesSake:

      Flopster, you’re flopping all over the place! Not sure what you really are trying to say. I do think that you somehow missed Mr. Hitchens as he surely was more robust in his analysis and dismantling of god(s), religions, holy books than the intellectual and often eloquent and more softly-spoken Mr…

  25. Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

    Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Dawkins that Christians engage in to make themselves feel important (and look important to their Christian friends)? I hope you are above this and actually engage us. You will find out that we are extremely fair and almost never ‘enraged’ as you fear. And many of us are ex-Catholics and can speak directly to your own experience. If you continue to be silent, we will assume you have simply thrown a rock through our window and scurried away.

    • His silence hasn’t gone unnoticed. I had a feeling when I first read it that it might be a ‘drive-by shooting’. :)
      In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

      Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

      Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Dawkins that Christians engage in to m…

    • In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

      Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

      Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Dawkins that Christians engage in to m…

      My goodness does anyone have any social skills here? I remember when I joined here, I was looking for the “Hi, I’m new” section to introduce myself. That doesn’t exist here; you’re expected to jump right in with guns ready. I think this post was actually his “Hi, I’m new” introduction. Yes, he has 26 responses and he is one person. Cut the guy some slack. Hopefully, he will pick just one topic and expand on this. When and if he scurries away…let’s give him the benefit of the doubt

      • In reply to #30 by QuestioningKat:

        In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

        Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

        Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Da…

        Slack is cut. Flopster, you out there? Halloooo? See, you’ve even got friends who think I’m being mean to you. Come on back and tell us why you are a Catholic. We’re all eyes.

        • In reply to #31 by justinesaracen:

          In reply to #30 by QuestioningKat:

          In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

          Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

          Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just ano…

          It’s Sunday; give him another day.

          Perhaps start with “He has completely misunderstood Aquinas’s 5 ways, especially the argument from design.” or explain why you love the Church but not the authorities.

          • sorry I’ve been on holiday without computer. Not very impressive after asking for ragibg athesits to come out and rage I know. I’ve written a piece re Aquinas’s 5 ways so hope it will get publishedIn reply to #41 by QuestioningKat:

            In reply to #31 by justinesaracen:

            In reply to #30 by QuestioningKat:

            In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

            Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

            Are you a troll? I don’t…

    • In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

      Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

      Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Dawkins that Christians engage in to m…

      I think you might be right, Justin. This thread seems to be one of several in recent months where a question about evolution has been posed, or some other questions, which seem to hint at theism or at least design, where the originator of the thread doesn’t reply. I wonder if, in a random (ie not coordinated way), this site is being visited by theists who disagree with the RDF project and are seeking to put their oar in – but have no real intention of engaging in debate, more to lob in what they think to be a grenade (which invariably turns out to be a damp squib).

      Or maybe threads such as this are started with an genuine intent to debate, but the thread starter shies off when their (sadly not always very coherent or well evidenced) OP is torn to shreds – maybe even they fear losing their faith?

      Either way, in as much as this thread ever did start a worthwhile debate, it seems to be fizzling out.

  26. I agree he should have the opportunity to speak. But his own OP was in Jest and playful and so it follows with the replies.

    So if you are out there engage in the discussion if you want to challenge people on their points of view.

    Incidentally does RDFRS send an email when a persons discussion goes live?

    In reply to #30 by QuestioningKat:

    In reply to #27 by justinesaracen:

    Flopster: You have fallen silent. There are, as of this moment, 26 basically polite and reasoned responses to your little essay and you have replied to none of them.

    Are you a troll? I don’t think so. Or was your essay just another ‘drive-by’ attack on Richard Da…

  27. I am wondering if Flopster is lurking. I will offer my advice again, in my experience here on Dawkins, when you are the author of the OP (opening post), you facilitate the conversation to keep it alive.

    The hit and run OP’d rarely have legs.

    Pity, I was just getting revved up…

    • sorry Crooked Shoes/ I went on holiday. Back now and up for the revIn reply to #35 by crookedshoes:

      I am wondering if Flopster is lurking. I will offer my advice again, in my experience here on Dawkins, when you are the author of the OP (opening post), you facilitate the conversation to keep it alive.

      The hit and run OP’d rarely have legs.

      Pity, I was just getting revved up…

  28. I love the Church but I’m appalled and disgusted by its authorities.

    Then start your own church, and be your own authority!

    By associating yourself with the Catholic Church you are endorsing and supporting the authorities you claim to despise. You, and every other Catholic, could get rid of the authorities tomorrow. Why don’t you?

  29. Seriously? Dawkins has completely misunderstood Thomas Aquinas Quinque viae? The latter strikes me as little more than word play with special pleading the kind of games Myson of Canae warned us against when he said (and I paraphrase) arguments should be judged in the light of facts not facts in the light of arguments. So many ‘this is impossible’ from Aquinas… it always irritates me when those people of faith least qualified to pronounce on absolute truths (how many absolute certainties does faith have on offer?) presume to pronounce on absolute truths.

    I would be grateful if Flopster could be precise about where Dawkins apparently falls down as it seems to be Aquinas is saying inter alia there must be a first cause or prime mover designating this first cause “God” and terminating the regress with him by fiat while ignoring the huge elephant in the room i.e. that we are expected to believe that God, this being of infinite capacities and complexity has somehow always existed or somehow distilled from the ether… The argument that life is too complex to have arisen spontaneously and required design is common currency from many theists but their God is apparantly exempt from this line of reasoning.

    Please explain why this is so.

    • Dear Typhon. sorry to be so late in replying but I’v been on holiday. Obviously the 5 ways are too complex to discuss in a short reply. So as so many have complained about his I’ve written a new post on this topic that I hope the editors will publish In reply to #37 by Typhon:

      Seriously? Dawkins has completely misunderstood Thomas Aquinas Quinque viae? The latter strikes me as little more than word play with special pleading the kind of games Myson of Canae warned us against when he said (and I paraphrase) arguments should be judged in the light of facts not facts in th…

  30. Since Flopster is into Shakespeare, his/ her own behaviour is like that of King Lear’s Fool.

    He disappears after the storm scene !

    Woe betide any “rebellious” Catholic who stayed here to be met with Leontes’ fate in the Winter’s Tale, i.e. exit chased by a bear !

    • sorry Mr Darcy I went on holiday without computer. No bears In reply to #38 by Mr DArcy:

      Since Flopster is into Shakespeare, his/ her own behaviour is like that of King Lear’s Fool.

      He disappears after the storm scene !

      Woe betide any “rebellious” Catholic who stayed here to be met with Leontes’ fate in the Winter’s Tale, i.e. exit chased by a bear !

  31. My dad was a rebellious Catholic, and the priest pushed his bullying behaviour too far. He told my dad he couldn’t read The Three Muskateers, (banned author), and my dad rebelled against that and left the church when the priest threw his book across the room. “No bloody priest is going to tell me what I can read!”

    Maybe you should have the balls of my dad, Flopster, and leave that truly corrupt and awful organisation ? Or does the mysticism still have too strong a hold on your mind ?

    • Yes the mysticism still has too strong a hold on my mind. Prayer means a great deal to me. Awful about your father I know. But you often hate what you also loveIn reply to #39 by Mr DArcy:

      My dad was a rebellious Catholic, and the priest pushed his bullying behaviour too far. He told my dad he couldn’t read The Three Muskateers, (banned author), and my dad rebelled against that and left the church when the priest threw his book across the room. “No bloody priest is going to tell me wh…

    • Hello vodkaholic Sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I’ved sent in a new post expanding my ideas about Aquinas’s 5 ways so hope it will get publishedIn reply to #40 by vodkaholic:

      I’d like to hear more from flopster123. A fervent yet rebellious Catholic is a rare species (using the word loosely) of Catholic.

  32. TO RDF & membership – F123,

    Recently while reading an article by a reknowned author, there was a sentence, something like – “what scares me, are all the cowards” it seemed sort of “flippant”, but maybe that’s just me…

    recently ran into a very talented programmer/sys-admin….he told me he was making really good money, doing customer service over the phone, “because there ain’t no shortage of stupid” his words…

    If anything scares me, it is “stupid people”, not because they’re actually stupid, but because they believe the same horse&^% they keep stammering about…and they refuse to do the science – and this keeps us all “stupid” and headed for extinction, something i’d like to “put on hold”…

    BELIEVE IT OR NOT – http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2000/07/06/einstein/index.html

    I have had my doubts about this website, it ain’t perfect though in the end, it’s our house – and though there is some stupid everywhere one goes, there’s a whole lot of good here, what I mean is “common sense” and science

    If you’re actually for real “F123″ you’re very confused, you might want to start with with philosophy in general and work your way through to propositional logic, or cash in your “get out of jail free card” and start right there..

    here is an excerpt that benchmarks an atheist position with logic, the only academic reference, (there are many other, W.H.Y.?other than RD, and I don’t want to be accused of building a tautology…hehehe)

    “Certainly, many people believe that when they do something they themselves are the only ones involved, and when someone says to them,”What if everyone acted that way?” they shrug their shoulders and answer, “Everyone doesn’t act that way.” But really, one should always ask themselves, “What would happen if everybody looked at things that way?” There is no escaping this disturbing thought except by a kind of double-dealing. A man(person) who lies and makes excuses for themselves by saying, “Not everybody does that,” is someone with an uneasy conscience, because the act of lying implies that a universal value is conferred upon the lie.” Jean Paul Sartre -Citadel Press -1965, “The Philosophy of Existentialism”

    one thing that i point out to my religious friends is that the difference between an atheist and a believer (faith) is not “lack” ” – ” of faith, it is “pro” “+ ” a substantiative foundation of knowledge & clear and rational thinking (my view – also -empathic and compassionate analysis)

    spraguelle

    • dear Spragelle sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. You’re quite right of course (or Sartre is) because one must act as it were ‘universally’, as Kant says. To you it’s obvious that a rebellious Catholic is doing a kind of double think. But not to me. All the institutions we belong to compromise us. I’ve written a new piece on Aquinas’s 5 ways which I hope will get published. In reply to #42 by Spraguelle:

      TO RDF & membership – F123,

      Recently while reading an article by a reknowned author, there was a sentence, something like – “what scares me, are all the cowards” it seemed sort of “flippant”, but maybe that’s just me…

      recently ran into a very talented programmer/sys-admin….he told me he was ma…

  33. Does Flopster really exist? This ‘poster’ is typical of so many alleged authors of provocative comments who pop up, say something childishly naïve and then disappear not to be seen again, while informed and serious posters of long standing tie themselves in knots in sincere but futile efforts to enlighten somebody who isn’t there.

  34. Discussion of The God Delusion isn’t nearly as interesting to me as ‘the Catholic delusion’. My introductory framework through which perception of the World and the purpose for our existence was also the ‘Holy’ Roman Catholic Church. It took many years to overcome. Some superstitions still haunt everyday actions.

    Indoctrination via Catechism is extremely damaging to independent thought faculties. For some, it is permanent critical reasoning damage on a scale with amputation or genital mutilation. For others like myself, other kinds of institutionalized abuses caused life-long damage on one hand, but the ability to understand and instantly identify sadistic practices in all walks of life.

    When an abused woman says things like ‘I’m disgusted and appalled by my husbands abuse’ of my children and I thank you for your concern and see you as a hero for trying to intercede on our behalf; but I love him, it says a lot about her own personal damage and self esteem.

    I once felt as you did about those who pointed out and criticized the church. Escape for me was rather early. Superstitious admonitions imposed on children must be seen for what they are.

    Some are terrified by the specter of completely independent use of our “God given” reasoning faculties. Fear not. The truth will set you free. Ask the question: If I’m expected to depend on others to examine and pass on what is and isn’t truth, am I not abdicating the very gifts with which I’ve been endowed as a human? Is there really anybody in the corrupt church who is in possession of gifts superior to mine or do they only represent themselves as such?

    Identifying with and supporting those who hold you captive is know as Stockholm Syndrome. You have nothing to lose but a corrupt institution that does many good deeds and many more atrocious ones that cannot be washed away. If ever there was a Potempkin Village of a religion it is the Catholic Church.

    As far as discussion of the God delusion goes, my opinion is that one must first escape delusion to have a rational discussion about it.

  35. so there it is, I think we’ve given, “flopster123″ a chance to “engage”, please…the social skills comment, really – my first post (draft) was a real flamer, but in the end – diplomacy and engagment was my option, there are lot’s of social skills here, all these posts are reasonable, especially given the TOTAL ilogical, bordering on “insipid” discussion in the first place – my sense is that we are better to focus on those moderate agnostics, who can be convinced to park their “superfluous” beliefs in exchange for a community-based inter-dependent rational discourse & logical-based interactie framework (the scientific method -my hope….)

    Do we really believe we can ever convince or suggest to someone who is a true believer, though “deigns” to visit with us in the hopes of rescuing our eternal souls….please

    what does we don’t kill dodos mean? dodos are alive and well, and even fervent, fervent, ummmmm you mean the part about “humans” being superior to other species thus fulfilling the tautology of killing anything including our own speices and probably the other hominids -maybe original sin has an existential precendent like a ” framework for genocide”, nothing lie barbecue cromagnon and neanderthal burgies…mmmmm and they aren’t pork or cows?….mmmm good cromagnon burgies

    trolls need a bridge, and this discussion doesn’t qualify, it doesn’t warrant my time…

    here is a nice bridge, and a good old goodbye, and far thee well flopster123(almost got set theory???)

    (The Mighty Mighty Bob)

    It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe (flopster123)
    That light I never knowed
    An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe (flopster123)
    I’m on the dark side of the road
    Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
    To try and make me change my mind and stay
    We never did too much talkin’ anyway
    So don’t think twice, it’s all right

    Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/ca/node/26063#ixzz2ZqMtqApS

    • You are exactly right! Someone told me that GRAViL finds Richard Dawkins to be too fanatical and I rushed right out to find one of his books. It seems many others must have done the same; I mean for non-fanatics and such.In reply to #46 by GRAViL:

      I find Dawkins too fanatical… this is probably what helps him to sell his books.

    • In reply to #46 by GRAViL:

      I find Dawkins too fanatical… this is probably what helps him to sell his books.

      Hi Gravil.

      That’s a provocative statement – can you tell us how many of Professor Dawkin’s 17 books you have actually read? Can you expand on which areas of which books you think he is ‘fanatical’? Do you understand the definition of ‘fanatical’? Mac.

    • I find crookedshoes too fanatical as well, maybe his book (when he gets around to writing it) will take off and sell lots of copies….

      In reply to #46 by GRAViL:

      I find Dawkins too fanatical… this is probably what helps him to sell his books.

  36. You show great “hutzpah” in presenting views here, flopster123.

    I did watch “The God Delusion” with great interest. Richard Dawkins is an accomplished artist on many levels. The movie is well done. I would be reluctant to label him as “prophet”, but I would say he is a “charismatic”.

    The movie left me groping for some defense (hopefully an intellectual defense) of my life-long beliefs. I think I may have one, although it may be found quite pedestrian. It is a “Why” question.

    Of the all species existing, or formerly existing, on Earth, why was home erectus the only one to evolve, intellectually, emotionally and socially into the homo sapiens of the present day? BTW, the Theory of Evolution in no way stands in opposition to my religious beliefs. I accept it as an intellectual truism.

  37. user:

    BTW, the Theory of Evolution in no way stands in opposition to my religious beliefs. I accept it as an intellectual truism.

    I can only assume user is something of a deist. The God who ran away and din’t care what He had created ?

    The very cruelty of nature was one of the reasons that Darwin was forced to abandon his Christianity.

    • In reply to #53 by Mr DArcy:

      user:

      BTW, the Theory of Evolution in no way stands in opposition to my religious beliefs. I accept it as an intellectual truism.

      I can only assume user is something of a deist. The God who ran away and din’t care what He had created ?
      You do not answer my question. You posed a question to which I answer “No!”
      How does “the cruelty of nature ” become the answer? I would not have guessed that it is.
      The very cruelty of nature was one of the reasons that Darwi…

      • This seems like an intriguing club, albeit not for timid souls. I’m just getting acclimated to how the mechanics work.
        I mean you no harm, my fellow members.

        Just wondering how you all determined that flopster123 is a male? She didn’t read like a man to me. (not that it matters)

        • In reply to #55 by user:

          This seems like an intriguing club, albeit not for timid souls. I’m just getting acclimated to how the mechanics work.
          I mean you no harm, my fellow members.

          Just wondering how you all determined that flopster123 is a male? She didn’t read like a man to me. (not that it matters)

          Flopster123 is apparently a man because the little square to the left of his name is the symbol for male. If you click on the square to the left of my name a female icon will appear.

          When a contributor joins the conversation from the other “side” as it were, they’re generally welcomed as a source of counter argument. Be warned, the debate can be quite robust. The site is peopled with those of very strong views. Ha ha.

        • In reply to #55 by user:

          This seems like an intriguing club, albeit not for timid souls. I’m just getting acclimated to how the mechanics work.
          I mean you no harm, my fellow members.

          Just wondering how you all determined that flopster123 is a male? She didn’t read like a man to me. (not that it matters)

          Because the addition of “ster” to a name is one of those fraternity boys jokes that we are all familiar with. Yes, it could be a woman, but the adoption of Flopster as a name, suggests maleness. Most of our replies have been in the “I” and “you” mode, and so sex would be irrelevant in any case.

  38. Of the all species existing, or formerly existing, on Earth, why was home erectus the only one to evolve, intellectually, emotionally and socially into the homo sapiens of the present day?

    A question tailor made to move in the direction of some manner of intelligent design argument, whether that was your actual intention or not. But it is in fact the wrong question in my estimation. There are other primates after all, and while not as overtly sophisticated as we are most of the other primates (and many animals in general) are capable of social interaction, emotional rapport, communication and obviously exhibit intelligence.

    Additionally, the fact that humans build societies and possess complex brains certainly doesn’t put us above destroying our very ecosystem in the process, which other animals by and large do not do.

    Perhaps a better question might be “why does man seem entirely out of sync with his own environment?” or “why does man so desperately seek to dominate its own species and apparently everything else?”

    I would very easily argue that the hubris and solipsism of mankind literally cripples much of its growth despite any inherent intelligence.

    But I suspect the simple answer to the question is: Homo erectus evolved as it did because that’s how it best survived in this environment. Like any other animal that lives.

    To infer anything else seems a bit egotistical, honestly.

    • In reply to #56 by achromat666:

      Of the all species existing, or formerly existing, on Earth, why was home erectus the only one to evolve, intellectually, emotionally and socially into the homo sapiens of the present day A question tailor made to move in the direction of some manner of intelligent design argument, whether that was your actual intention or not.

      I don’t consider how ignorant people might distort some argument to be relevant to the truth of that argument. Ignorant people do all sorts of irrational and unpredictable things and its a mistake to start deciding what rational people should talk about based on how ignorant people might misunderstand it.

      But it is in fact the wrong question in my estimation. There are other primates after all, and while not as overtly sophisticated as we are most of the other primates (and many animals in general) are capable of social interaction, emotional rapport, communication and obviously exhibit intelligence.

      There is a very important difference. None of the other primates have language, history, art, or science. It seems to me an extremely interesting question to want to understand more about the adaptation(s) that made these things possible

      Additionally, the fact that humans build societies and possess complex brains certainly doesn’t put us above destroying our very ecosystem in the process, which other animals by and large do not do.

      You don’t have to think humans are morally above other species to recognize there is something special about our language and cognitive abilities and the artifacts we create with them. Its no different than researching why and how falcons fly really fast or spiders make webs.

      But I suspect the simple answer to the question is: Homo erectus evolved as it did because that’s how it best survived in this environment. Like any other animal that lives. To infer anything else seems a bit egotistical, honestly.

      Of course that’s true for any adaptation but there is often a lot more to understand. Biologists spend a lot of time understanding all sorts of behaviors nest building for example. It doesn’t seem any more egotistical to want to better understand why and how humans do all the things they do then why birds build nests.

  39. Red Dog,

    While it may be true that all of the attributes given man may not be completely shared by any other species, my impression as I indicated was that user was leaning some variation of the ID direction for his initial question. The oft ignored commonalities between man and all other species were in mentioned to dissuade that line of thinking.

    And obviously the answers are more layered and complex. I simply don’t find it the most interesting or pertinent question regarding our origins. And most often when religion gets in bed with this line of thinking, bad things happen.

    • In reply to #58 by achromat666:

      Red Dog,

      While it may be true that all of the attributes given man may not be completely shared by any other species,

      There is no “may” about this at all. Humans are the only animal that use language in the way we do and the only animal that has history, science, etc.

      my impression as I indicated was that user was leaning some variation of the ID direction for his initial question. The oft ignored commonalities between man and all other species were in mentioned to dissuade that line of thinking.

      I don’t see how you can know know where they are going to take the argument before they do. Actually, I think this is one more example of how New Atheists let their hatred of religion blind them to reality. You are so nervous that there might be an ID argument hidden somewhere that you are ready to just dismiss what — to many scientists such as Steven Pinker and I’m sure Dawkins himself — are some of the most interesting open scientific questions that currently exist.

      I simply don’t find it the most interesting or pertinent question regarding our origins. And most often when religion gets in bed with this line of thinking, bad things happen.

      So questions like “what makes the human brain special and able to process language, plan, reason” to you that’s just “meh” eh? To me those are fascinating questions and how some religious person might misuse the questions or a possible answer is totally irrelevant.

  40. Q1) Leave church(Christianity), tell me why you believe in a God??
    Q2) Can you tell me why Mr Aquinas is now not known as a renowned philosopher( like Bertrand Russel, Kant etc) if all what he wrote ( 20,000 pages etc) were true..If so why does he impress you and why truth doesn’t??
    Q3) Have you learnt Evolution and tried to appreciate it beauty?? The answer to your design question and Dodo question will come naturally…

    • dear Bejoyed. Sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. Why I believe in God is of course a rather large question. It’s probably not God as you know h(i)r. I’ve written a new post explaining my ideas about Aquinas’s 5 ways more clearly so hope they’ll publish it. I think Mr Aquinas is quite a renowned philosopher. It depends what circles you move inqyIn reply to #60 by bejoyed:

      Q1) Leave church(Christianity), tell me why you believe in a God??
      Q2) Can you tell me why Mr Aquinas is now not known as a renowned philosopher( like Bertrand Russel, Kant etc) if all what he wrote ( 20,000 pages etc) were true..If so why does he impress you and why truth doesn’t??
      Q3) Have you lea…

  41. I don’t see how you can know know where they are going to take the argument before they do. Actually, I think this is one more example of how New Atheists let their hatred of religion blind them to reality. You are so nervous that there might be an ID argument hidden somewhere that you are ready to just dismiss what — to many scientists such as Steven Pinker and I’m sure Dawkins himself — are some of the most interesting open scientific questions that currently exist.

    So you’ve never read a post that implied something that it never overtly stated, and responded based on what you thought? This is the section of the post that got my attention and caused the subsequent response:

    “Of the all species existing, or formerly existing, on Earth, why was home erectus the only one to evolve, intellectually, emotionally and socially into the homo sapiens of the present day? BTW, the Theory of Evolution in no way stands in opposition to my religious beliefs. I accept it as an intellectual truism.”

    Often when one speaks of their religious beliefs and marries it to scientific data, pseudoscience generally follows. You didn’t get that impression? Fine, but my seeing it differently doesn’t infer blind hatred or fear on my part.

    The fact that I don’t find those questions the most pertinent does not mean I don’t find them at all interesting or relevant. So my response would certainly not be indifference as we discover more about it.

    But I guess we will wait for a response to see soon enough if user was simply curious enough to post or trying to be subtle about his ideas. But automatically jumping to fear and hatred for being skeptical of someone’s interests seems to be jumping the gun a bit.

    • In reply to #63 by achromat666:

      So you’ve never read a post that implied something that it never overtly stated, and responded based on what you thought?

      I won’t claim I’ve never done it. But I’m saying as a general rule I definitely try not to do it. For the simple reason that its so easy to misinterpret and miscommunicate in these comments. Without visual and verbal cues its often hard to understand what someone means by the things they actually say. I think its a terrible idea to try and also infer their deeper motives. If I do that I always try (not saying I succeed I’m sure you can find plenty of times when I didn’t) to first ask “so do you mean X?” before assuming they do mean X and then continuing the discussion as if they did mean X. I can remember at least one time recently when that happened. Someone made a comment on distributed computing I thought was obviously wrong but the first thing I did was to ask him “are you saying distributed computing can increase performance this way?” and he replied back that I misunderstood.

      this the section of the post that got my attention and caused the subsequent response:

      I didn’t read nearly the same into that post. To me the commenter was just saying “yes I’m a Christian but I still believe in evolution and in fact here is a very interesting question that evolution hasn’t solved yet…” And I agree with the Christian it is an interesting scientific question and perhaps if you could stop seeing every thing only in terms of whether someone is an atheist or a Christian you might see that as well.

      • A few quick thoughts.

        1) ‘Flopster123′ appears to be a hit-and-run artist. This is disappointing since the OP seemed to exhibit a real desire for honest discussion.

        2) I’m tempted to suspect that ‘Flopster123′ and ‘user’ are either the same person or somehow in cahoots. But because ‘user’ at least offered a single response to comment, I should withhold judgement.

        3) In reply to #64 by Red Dog:

        I didn’t read nearly the same into that post. To me the commenter was just saying “yes I’m a Christian but I still believe in evolution and in fact here is a very interesting question that evolution hasn’t solved yet…”

        Sorry to interject myself into a conversation between yourself and achromat666, but I think you are being overgenerous with your interpretation here.

        In #51, ‘user’ specifically says that his question about homo sapiens development is offered as “an intellectual defense[...] of my life-long beliefs “. While this may not amount to a fully explicit ID claim, it more than justifies suspicion that one is strongly implied. I (or achromat666) needn’t be “blinded to reality” by “hatred of religion” to make the reasonable inferrence that ‘user’s question reflects more than scientific curiosity.

        4) In reply to #51 by user:

        I did watch “The God Delusion” with great interest.

        I’m a bit confused by this. I have read the book twice, but I am not aware of any movie or TV version of The God Delusion. Did I miss something, or are you perhaps referring to another one of Professor Dawkins’ documentaries. If so, I highy recommend you DO read TGD.

        The movie left me groping for some defense (hopefully an intellectual defense) of my life-long beliefs. I think I may have one, although it may be found quite pedestrian. It is a “Why” question.

        Let me first point out, that a question is not really much of a defense. If you mean to defend your beliefs (whatever those may be, you don’t specify) you need to demonstrate them through actual affirmative evidence. Even if you could show that human intelligence definitely could not have evolved through Darwinian processes, that would in no way count as evidence for any other “beliefs” you may have about the origins of that intelligence. A cherished theory doesn’t win by defalt just because you believe it. Disproving a rival theory is never the same as actually proving your own. You must offer actual evidence in favor of your “life-long beliefs” if you wish to defend them.

        It is a “Why” question.

        “Why” questions are very seldom a good way to approach a scientific subject like evolution. Asking “why” usually contains a hidden assumption that the phenomenon you are investigating has an underlying purpose. Purpose arises from minds. You can’t assume that a mind is responsible for something without evidence. A better question would be “How did the unique cultural and intellectual traits of homo sapiens evolve.

        Of the all species existing, or formerly existing, on Earth, why was home erectus the only one to evolve, intellectually, emotionally and socially into the homo sapiens of the present day?

        The way you phrase this is awkward. It’s like asking “Why out of all the people who have ever lived am I the only one to ever be born as myself?” By definition, every species is unique, and only evolves once, from a single ancestral line. It would have been literally impossible for any species not in our direct lineage to evolve into “the homo sapiens of the present day.”

        Asking your question in this way could also mean that you are assuming that all the other existing and former species were somehow “trying” to evolve into homo sapiens but only homo erectus succeeded. Even if you do not intend to make such an implication, it is still worth mentioning that evolution has no goals and no preferred forms which is “trying” to produce.

        Human intelligence/culture may be unique in evolutionary history but the false assumption that we are somehow the pinnacle of an evolutionary “ladder” is a common misconception. We are not the only species to evolve ANY remarkable and unique traits, we merely have our own fascinating set of them.

        As far as your question itself goes, it is a fascinating one. I hope you are genuinely curious and not merely using the question to provide a “gap” where you can store your existing beliefs.

        One partial answer to the question you pose seems to be that, at some point in the biological (genetic) evolution of human brains, we crossed a sort of intelligence threshhold of which permitted a second, more rapid, type of evolution to occur. Sometimes referred to as “cultural evolution” the modern study of “memetics” is one attempt to formulate a comprehensive theory to account for it. I recommend Richard’s book The Selfish Gene in which he introduced the concept of a “meme” and explores some of it’s implications.

        There is A LOT of scientific information about human evolution, and I suggest you seek some out. Perhaps others here can offer reading suggestions?

        BTW, the Theory of Evolution in no way stands in opposition to my religious beliefs. I accept it as an intellectual truism.

        That’s good. If more religious believers were willing to accept ojectively demonstrable scientific knowledge, I suspect most of us “active atheists” would have very little to say about religious belief.

        however, as Mr DArcy pointed out in comment 53, only a non-interventionist (Deist) concept of God would truly pose no opposition to the Theory of Evolution. If your “religious beliefs” include any sort of supernatural “tinkering” with the evolutionary process, any “guiding hand” taking a role, then ultimately those beliefs do run counter to evolutionary theory in at least some way.

  42. I won’t claim I’ve never done it. But I’m saying as a general rule I definitely try not to do it. For the simple reason that its so easy to misinterpret and miscommunicate in these comments. Without visual and verbal cues its often hard to understand what someone means by the things they actually say. I think its a terrible idea to try and also infer their deeper motives. If I do that I always try (not saying I succeed I’m sure you can find plenty of times when I didn’t) to first ask “so do you mean X?” before assuming they do mean X and then continuing the discussion as if they did mean X. I can remember at least one time recently when that happened. Someone made a comment on distributed computing I thought was obviously wrong but the first thing I did was to ask him “are you saying distributed computing can increase performance this way?” and he replied back that I misunderstood.

    It is easy to do and if it’s a misinterpretation I’ll be happy to apologize for the misunderstanding. But as I said, I await a response from user.

    I didn’t read nearly the same into that post. To me the commenter was just saying “yes I’m a Christian but I still believe in evolution and in fact here is a very interesting question that evolution hasn’t solved yet…” And I agree with the Christian it is an interesting scientific question and perhaps if you could stop seeing every thing only in terms of whether someone is an atheist or a Christian you might see that as well.

    And considering the tone set by the OP I was skeptical of a theist (or deist, he hasn’t identified himself as Christian specifically) making the remark he did. Simple as that. And for the last time, whether or not I consider it to be the most important question or the most interesting does not mean that I don’t find it remotely interesting or important. You are reading far too much into that.

    This is skepticism, not a witch hunt. I was more skeptical of what he said than you were. That’s the way this works, sometimes. Interpret that as you wish, but I’m interested in what he has to say agree or not.

    Was I jumping the gun? Maybe, but I won’t know until he responds and sheds some light on the matter.

  43. Here I am reminded by the video in which Richard Dawkins is having a chat with Wendy Wright. Richard brought up several good cases in which Wendy should consider the evidence against her claims of life by design. Amazingly she refused to believe that the fossil record was adequate proof. She went as far as saying that she has been to museums like: The Smithsonian, but she didn’t believe what was contained within. You could see the look on Mr. Dawkins’ face when she persisted in ignoring a long line of fossils found across the planet. Confusion and sincere astonishment.

    BUT!!! Let us be serious; Evolution is a difficult study for most people, and I suspect that most of the individuals who are on the fence about its merits have not spent enough time on the subject. If one goes deep into how natural selection works and keeps the timeline of our planet in mind, the story fits together very well. There is a massive amount of data that several scientific branches have collected to our present date. What is amazing? How all of the current scientific fields out there fit together like one big giant puzzle piece. None of the fields planned it that way, it just happened. I will not take that as mere coincidence; this seem to be more TRUTH than anything. From Psychology to physics the data coincides. Pick many branches and view their closeness. Yes there are communities within respective fields that have disputes; however, this is merely so that we put together our history the right way. It is a passionate endeavor and things can get a little hairy; yet, stones and bombs are never used in their debates.

    In regards to The God Delusion: Richard gives several references and citations in the book for the individual to take it upon his/herself to go and research further. I am bothered by the mistake many readers of these kinds of books make. The book somehow becomes the ‘Holy Grail’ (pun intended). Each book I have ever read from Richard and his colleagues gives you a list of readings to further your understanding; the books the authors write themselves are somewhat of a precursor, but still contain key points to consider. The end of the books have a list for you to take into account; try it out.

    I personally think Neuroscience & Psychology can explain the Delusion, and I have read several articles and books that give data and references about this ‘God’ that causes so much commotion.

    I do not think Richard ignores aspects of the Bible, he most likely read a significant portion of the book to be able to find ridiculous verses about owning slaves and Sol giving up his daughters for rape. Lets not forget, the daughters later get him drunk and he impregnates one of them in a cave somewhere. A city he fled from is destroyed, but he and his remaining family behaved just as ‘strange’ as those destroyed. It seems more like: those of faith ignore disturbing aspects of their good books. The rest of the magic and moral value can be read in many children’s books today.

    If the only miracles we get today are Jesus toast and Virgin Mary cloud images, Christ will have to do better than that. I will stick with my fossil record…

  44. the last 15 posts, really??

    does this really need that level of analysis? on an obviously, flawed “discussion” -
    why try to make sense out of a schizo’s ramblings/?

    my view, flopstooge has successfully wasted a whole bunch of our time

    floptroll win, we lose.

    the post designating this as a waste, uhuh

    discussion resembling this “tripe”, i hope will be
    avoided in the future, perhaps focusing on the mission…

    This discussion subject is tantamount to stating,

    “I admire Mussolini’s political stylings, but I am a fervent anti-fascist”

    or like posting “i love to red and right, expechilli because it
    has improofed my grammer skillets”

    spraguelle

    • why try to make sense out of a schizo’s ramblings/?

      Your making one assumption too many with this statement. Cool it.

      In reply to #68 by Spraguelle:

      the last 15 posts, really??

      does this really need that level of analysis? on an obviously, flawed “discussion” -
      why try to make sense out of a schizo’s ramblings/?

      my view, flopstooge has successfully wasted a whole bunch of our time

      floptroll win, we lose.

      the post designating this as a waste…

  45. “The God Delusion”, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. Each aspect of religion systemically, and clearly torn apart. I live in Arkansas, humorously mentioned in this book, and I’m constantly bombarded by religious crap all the time. I’ve been able to hold my own in a discussion on religion, but thanks to Richard Dawkins, I have enough ammo win the war. Well, as much as you can win such an war. Stupidity is quite resistant to reason.

    • In reply to #70 by Jeff1966:

      “The God Delusion”, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. Each aspect of religion systemically, and clearly torn apart. I live in Arkansas, humorously mentioned in this book, and I’m constantly bombarded by religious crap all the time. I’ve been able to hold my own in a discussion on religion, but tha…

      Interesting…The book is widely regarded as trash by serious atheist philosophers, many of whom were embarrassed by the book. Would you mind pointing to two or three examples of the systematic dismemberment you referred to in your posting. Dawkins is a brilliant scientist and a skillfully writer. His knowledge of history, philosophy, and general rules of logic is abysmal. I eagerly await the aforementioned arguments/refutations.

      • In reply to #71 by Oldschoolsaint:

        The God Delusion.

        The book is widely regarded as trash by serious atheist philosophers,

        Widely….trash….serious atheist philosophers?

        Interesting. I’m in for an education..So…

        Evidence here, please-

      • Interesting… I thought most of the critical reviews of The God Delusion were by upset religious
        philosophers, many of whom were embarrassed to be confronted with their own delusions. Would you
        mind pointing to two or three examples of the serious atheist philosophers who regard the book as trash,
        so we might learn more.

        In reply to #71 by Oldschoolsaint:

        In reply to #70 by Jeff1966:

        “The God Delusion”, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. Each aspect of religion systemically, and clearly torn apart. I live in Arkansas, humorously mentioned in this book, and I’m constantly bombarded by religious crap all the time. I’ve been able to hold my own in a d…

  46. Voltaire and Dawkins in the same sentence. My good man have you gone mad? You need not apologize for being Catholic. Catholicism is largely responsible for much of what we cherish in western society….including science.

  47. Well, after 8 days of patiently waiting for responses to any of the 76 replies posed here, there isn’t anything from Flopster123, User or Oldschoolsaint.

    These 3 are all very recent Members – and Oldschoolsaint has apparently already cancelled his Membership. I guess they hadn’t been here long enough to realize that vague assertions need to be backed up, that RDF Users actually have some knowledge and intellectual abilities, and can come up with the occasional valid question…. 8-)

    It’s a shame, though historically not unexpected, that these theists are so under-educated in and unsure of their own beliefs, that they can’t stand a bit of rational criticism, or requests for clarification, or actual evidence for their claims.

    Another waste of time although, as usual, the Users who responded brought up a bunch of interesting questions that others – including me, since I’ve never been religious and don’t know that much about the subject – can learn from.

    NEXT…. 8-)

  48. In reply to #78 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #1 by GOD:

    He has completely misunderstood Aquinas’s 5 ways, especially the argument from design

    I don’t accept this just because it’s on the Internet. Please clarify what Aquinas had in mind and Dawkins misunderstood (completely!).

    Have you opened the Summa Theologica? It’s a massive…

    Hello Donald,

    First, are you aware that Aquinas’ 5 ways are a minute part of Summa Theologica?

    Second, GOD has more than likely, from previous experience here, good knowledge about the Aquinas items in question.

    Third, GOD is asking for specifics in reference to Flopster123′s assertions about Dawkins’ alleged misunderstandings, so they could be addressed, which is what Discussions are about….

    Fourth, you’ll have noticed that Flopster hasn’t responded to any of the 76 Replies he go to his OP, so maybe he was just spouting off without evidence? When folk submit a Discussion, or Comment here, they are expected to respond to requests for clarification, or answer rebuttals, with rational responses and evidence….

    I await your response…. Mac.

  49. In reply to #79 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #2 by BanJoIvie: I’m afraid it isn’t just the religious folks who are overly confident in their beliefs. Science is in its infancy. A Reason to believe in God? Evolution is a good reason for why we have the urge. And isn’t it the same urge that makes us want to form clicks? We’re social creatures, right?

    Hello again Donald,

    Can you explain what you implied about BanJolvie in your first sentence above? You jumped to a conclusion about his ‘beliefs’ (actually his knowledge) without knowing him. If BanJolvie responds to you, I assure you that he’s rationally knowledgeable enough to take on anything you can come up with, on any subject . . . so be ready.

    Science may be in its infancy, but it has uncovered vastly more verifiable knowledge in all areas than in the rest of human history.

    Evolution doesn’t give us the urge to believe in gods, but some humans have used our evolved tendency to impute agency, and our natural urge to obey parents and elders, for faith-driven agendas. Religion is therefore a misuse of our evolutionary instincts, which are driven by our selected selfish genes.

    We are social creatures, but in nature that meant a small group of close kin, where we rarely ever met out-groups, so our cliques and large societies are enabled by cultural evolution – which has been pretty messy and in many ways unsuccessful, with reality-denying religions a prime example of how wrong it can become….

    I don’t know if you are a theist, but you appear to ‘believe in belief’, so maybe you can clarify that impression?

    In anticipation…. Mac.

  50. In reply to #82 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #81 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #79 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #2 by BanJoIvie: I’m afraid it isn’t just the religious folks who are overly confident in their beliefs.

    Hello Donald,

    If it sounded like I scolded you, maybe that’s because I was replying to your Posts 78 and 79, where it read like you were scolding those Users when they asked for specifics about Flopster’s OP assertions.

    Your comment also conflates different meanings of ‘belief’, since to non-theists belief something means more like acceptance based on evidence, whereas to theists belief means more to have faith without evidence. That is one of a few sensitive words that can get us irritated, just like the different concepts of ‘truth’, ‘evidence’ and ‘theory’ that cause so much misunderstanding depending on ones worldview….

    You also said that evolution was a good reason for us to have the urge to believe in God, which I unpacked based on my extensive science-based reading around that subject – any comment on that?

    You didn’t answer if you have a ‘belief in belief’, despite being an atheist? Can you say what country you live in, if you were raised in a religion, and do you think faith deserves respect in rational society, as you seem to say when you defend ‘Western Tradition’ versus ‘Islamic Tradition’ in your Comment? This will give me an idea of your worldview, as you can clearly find mine in my Comment History.

    You mention Joseph Campbell, the renowned Mythologist who was brought up Catholic, and definitely had a ‘belief in belief’ according to his life work, from what I just read on his Foundation website.

    Maybe I was too critical to you as a new RDF Member, but I ask you to be careful in your Comments, since they can easily be taken the wrong way in a Science and Reason Forum with readers world-wide, many of whom use English as a 2nd or 3rd language…. Mac.

  51. In reply to #85 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #84 by CdnMacAtheist:

    Hello again Donald,

    “Dogma: an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church.”

    I don’t think my questions, explanations or advice fit this description, nor does my apology for being a bit harsh when you dissed 2 of our Users in your first 2 Comments.

    I already responded to Flopster, in my Comment 77, and if he has fallen off his perch there’s nothing I can say to help him, since he’s now an ex-Flopster, to paraphrase Monte Python.

    DM: “Will there be a test or an extensive exam on this?”

    This is the test, I was just trying to pass you some cheat-sheets so you can do better at it…. 8-)

    Are you going to answer any of my earlier 7 reasonable, civil questions to you? Actually, 6 questions, since I figured out that you’re from the USA.

    DM: “Look at the changing demographics, along with the projected ratio of Christian Fundamentalists with that of Islamic ones and see if you don’t find it alarming.”

    I find ALL religions and religious folk alarming, and looking at North America, Christian moderates and fundamentalists do much more mental and physical damage than Islamists have or are likely to, although world-wide, Islam and its Muslim slaves are the most dangerous.

    Also, the religious mentality in the USA has done as much to foster the American exceptionalism and oil imperialism that stirred up Islamic hatred as any other driving force, so who is really the problem?

    DM: “You won’t find much science and reason among the Taliban.”

    I don’t see much science and reason among the ~200 million American Christians who don’t accept nature, evolution, gays, women’s rights, non-theists, secular government, global warming, etc….

    Anyway, you can answer my questions if you like, it won’t bother me…. Mac.

  52. In reply to #79 by DonaldMiller:

    I’m afraid it isn’t just the religious folks who are overly confident in their beliefs.

    Hmmm. Where to begin?

    Don’t be afraid! It’ll be alright. (Don’t you just hate overly literal interpretations of the things you write?)

    Taking your point generally, I agree that overconfidence in belief is not the exclusive domain of theism. Whether or not “religious folks” have a monopoly would depend on the definition of “religion.” It might be argued that holding dogmatic beliefs (by which I mean believing at a confidence level that is disproportionate to evidence, i.e. believing things on faith) is a “religious” act.

    However, you don’t appear to be speaking generally. You seem to be aiming that “overly confident” barb at me. Honestly, I’m not sure how you could base such an accusation on what I said in comment #2. Granted, I did promise to tear Flopster’s reasoning apart, but perhaps you missed the cute little emoticon following that remark?

    ;-P

    See? He’s winking and sticking out his tongue. That’s the universal symbol for “just kidding.” Or is that “JK” now? I can’t keep up with these damn kids.

    Man, I am terrible at trash talk.

    Back to my sentiments in comment #2.

    To begin with, I expressed no beliefs, so how could I have done so in an overly confident manner?

    Wait, do you want to argue over whether calling myself an atheist is expressing a belief? Ugh, that could take a while. I’m not really in the mood so why don’t I just concede you the point. For the sake of argument, my atheism is “a belief.”

    Far from overconfidence, I specifically said that my atheism is based on what I know so far. I expressed my openness to new reasoning and my willingness to be convinced. You call that overconfidence?

    Allow me to (humbly… ;-P ?) suggest that overconfidence is not the only danger to avoid in reasoned discussion. It can be just as problematic to underrate the level of confidence we can have in a given proposition. Not all confidence is “overly”.

    I note that you are enamored of a certain Noam Chomsky quote. (You posted it in two separate discussions within a few hours. It’s in #82 in this thread if anyone wants to review.) I wonder, how would Mr. Chomsky (and you?) propose that we pursue this “cooperative” “unending” “search for truth”? If everyone is so “uneasy about the concept of “speaking truth,”” that nobody is willing to say what we actually do know, how will we progress? Does “unending” have to mean “fruitless?” I admire Mr. Chomsky, but sometimes he seems to flirt with Po Mo, truth-is-all-relative, feel-goodery. (You give us a fairly good example with that quote.) I prefer a bit of spine when it is warranted.

    Science is in its infancy.

    No. Not really. Observation, problem solving through trial and error, reasoning inductively – these have been going on since before recorded history. At best I might be convinced that science has recently experienced puberty.

    But the age of science is not really relevant to our level of confidence in its findings. We do not gain confidence in a proposition from the passage of time alone. Rather, we assess the number and quality of supporting observations, the strength of any opposing arguments, and the rigor with which an idea has been challenged and tested. In some circumstances, a surprising amount of confidence can be “generated” in a relatively short time through collective effort.

    A Reason to believe in God? Evolution is a good reason for why we have the urge. And isn’t it the same urge that makes us want to form clicks? We’re social creatures, right?

    Well, I don’t really agree that we have an evolved urge to believe in God. By and large, I endorse the breakdown of this point by CdnMacAtheist in post #81

    But I asked for a reason “to” believe in God, not a reason “that people do” believe in God. Understanding our evolved tendencies is very important, partially because understanding them allows us to reject them when they are irrational to follow. Take the forming of cliques which you mention. I agree that we have evolutionarily programmed tendencies to tribalism. These go a long way toward explaining phenomena such as racism. What they do not provide is a good reason “to” be racist.

    This is a month old thread which I only stumbled back into by mere chance. I probably won’t engage in a long conversation here, especially if it continues to stray from the (admittedly vague) topic of the OP, but I’ll check back for a while in case you want to follow-up.

    • In reply to #87 by BanJoIvie:

      In reply to #79 by DonaldMiller:

      I’m afraid it isn’t just the religious folks who are overly confident in their beliefs.

      Hmmm. Where to begin?

      Hi BanJolvie,

      Good to see that you noticed this exchange in passing, and have responded to Donald. As I warned him in my first response, you are very capable of addressing his Comments. I wonder if he will return to answer both of us, since I see him Commenting elsewhere, where I and others have pointed out some philosophical issues.

      He is welcome to put out his point of view, but needs to take some care in his wording. Let’s hope he stays around long enough to realize that we’re not hostile, but respond better to clarity of thought and word, especially when responding with assumptions and a bit of (unintentional?) disrespect to someone he doesn’t know.

      Talk again soon…. 8-) Mac.

  53. In reply to #90 by DonaldMiller:

    I am a newcomer here, so I did make the assumption that because the comments have to be approved before they’re posted that the comment’s contents were acceptable as written.

    Hi Donald,

    Your Comments go on-line right away, so they can’t be pre-approved. You can be Flagged, the Moderators can issue Warnings, or remove Comments (and any Replies) if they think they aren’t appropriate, or are going Off Topic.

    I appreciate you coming back here and seeing that we are trying to be helpful, since opposing views are ok, but clarity and responding to questions is expected, while anything you say will be openly criticized if it isn’t very rational, respectful, or backed with decent evidence.

    Hopefully we’ll see more from you, and over time you’ll see how good this Forum is, and how enlightening the exchanges can be – even if they can be rough, tough, and challenging to any preconceptions, biases, ‘belief in belief’ or ‘faith-thinking’.

    You’ll also find that the amount of knowledge and competence here is awesome – I’m a long way down that list, but am well read and have learned a lot in 3 years here, to the point where I can be protective of Members, as you’ve noticed…. 8-) Mac.

  54. In reply to #91 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #90 by DonaldMiller:
    I think that if my ideas were predictable, I’d have little to offer–and even less to learn. It’s not that I consciously intend to be contrary, but if something strikes me as wrong-headed, I feel as if I ought to be able to express that opinion. Or to even be in some instances, “devil’s Advocate” or perhaps “God’s Advocate”, however you want to look at it. :)

    Hi Donald,

    Hey, nobody is asking you to be predictable, or to withhold views, just to be clear and ready to defend what you write, since we can’t see each other or know much about each other, so what we write is all there is.

    Did you see Comment 185 I made to you yesterday on “Does science equal truth?”, which is a very enlightening thread. If you want to be an atheistic ‘God Advocate’ here (for whatever reason?) you’ll face some challenging questions from smart people. Compare the Comments from the 2 Christian Apologists, Joehev and WMcEnaney, and see the differences in style, content and accuracy.

    The responses from BanJolvie, Achromat, A4D, Quine, Ignorant Amos, Zeuglodon, etc. demonstrate what depth and breadth of intellect is brought to bear on illogical, fuzzy and sloppy thinking. I’m glad I’m not in their situation – although I’ve been rightly challenged at times – since it must be difficult to deal with psychological dissection and threats to one’s ego.

    Some great exchanges revolving around single words like ‘truth’, and the way different folk see, use and misuse them to fit an evidence-free worldview. Joe has a narrow and stubborn outlook, devoid of much logic or evidence, but doesn’t see how much he squirms and twists to keep his assertions safe from questioning. It’s quite revealing to see these delusions being dissected, and to see the extent to which he avoids rational thinking or logical questions to prevent changing his presuppositions or unchangeable ‘truths’ about reality….

    So, onward, and I hope you keep enjoying your visits here since, whatever else, ya gotta have some fun, eh…. 8-) Mac.

  55. In reply to #94 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #90 by DonaldMiller:
    Then Joseph Campbell, who really was an atheist to his core–but someone who could tell you what people believed and why they believed it and the human psychological experience behind it.

    Hello Donald,

    Thanks for your reply, and your insights into your worldview, which explains quite a lot.

    I apologize about my earlier comment about Joseph Campbell’s ‘belief in belief’, since I don’t know his work and when I checked out his Foundation site, the only hints I got were that he was raised Catholic and was a life-long Mythologist. My own bias showed, since many ex-religious folk have residual ‘belief in belief’ inevitably left over from their indoctrination. I’ll have to read some Campbell, although Mythology isn’t my bag at all – neither are the facts or history of religion really, just the overall and specific ill-effects.

    Since I’m a life-long non-theist (thanks parents) I have no real concept or interest in ‘Faith’, although my reading on and off-line have greatly enlightened me over the past 50 years, so I have pretty strong opinions about religion, just because of its historical mind-slave effects, which I grew up with in the heavily sectarian ‘Micks and Prods’ Glasgow area. That’s a significant reason why I moved to Canada at 24, which I don’t regret since although I love Scotland the place, I’m no ‘ex-patriot’….

    When I first came here, I lurked for a year before my first Comment, then watched as RDF went through very big changes in management and function. If you want a great insight into diverse atheists, read the Converts Corner Letters, or go to the Old Site and follow some of the very long Threads….

    I also liked Hitch, but like RD he loved the church as an important historical social institution, but hated what it did and stood for, per his love of the Parthenon.

    Anyway, thanks for the interaction, and ‘keep charging up the hill’…. Mac.

  56. In reply to #96 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #90 by DonaldMiller:

    Hello Donald,

    I hadn’t listened to that particular Hitch Slap, and as usual I’m jealous of him. I wish I had 10% of his verbal and written abilities, 15% of his memory, 20% of his bravery, 25% of his world knowledge and 30% of his library – although I’ve equaled his lifespan, but maybe 5% of his drinking and 40% of his smoking intake….

    I think Hitch would have much preferred that his youthful memories were less religious and were more moral, rational and scientific, and that his love of the church had been replaced by other more positive historical and ethical traditions….

    In the same vein, just think if all the religious monuments and buildings you mention had been built to promote Reason & Science, then the resulting Schools, Libraries, Laboratories, Universities, Hospitals & Observatories would be our places of wonder, hope and admiration that those useless Cathedrals turned out to be, and the secular music would be just as sublime. I think our species could have advanced much more under those circumstances, and maybe we wouldn’t be on the path to extinction we’re heading down now.

    The creative accomplishments of humans were diverted and financed by mythology and religion, not invented by them, as seen by the pre-christian thinking, philosophy and discoveries of ancient times that were on the way to enlightenment before Augustine decided to invent Christianity to put a stop to multiple existing ‘natural’ gods.

    The impoverished peasants who paid for and toiled man-centuries on those palaces of worship were mind-slaves, and didn’t have much choice anyway, so I don’t have much admiration for the results, even when I’ve seen some of them.

    Talk again later…. Mac.

  57. .#98 Donald Millar

    Voluntary labour involved in building the great cathedrals of Europe ? I’m not sure about that. Do you have any verification ? I know a good many fell down during construction. In fact, some fell and were reconstructed several times,

  58. In reply to #98 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #97 by CdnMacAtheist:
    Am I chatting with Richard Dawkins, going by the name CdnMacAtheist?

    No Donald, I am very far from being RD, although reading all his books and seeing his appearances has had a big effect on my knowledge, thinking and rationality. I was never religious, or well educated, and don’t have RD’s or CH’s ‘fond’ memories of their Anglican schools and societies in the UK. I don’t find much to enjoy about religion, and find my fulfillment in reality-based activities and thinking. I am much more an anti-theist, and would be very aggressive against religion if I was somehow World Dictator – at least until the faith-heads killed me.

    I’m mostly concerned about overpopulation – enabled by most religions – and would take pretty strong actions to curtail that, since so many symptoms of that central problem are accumulating quickly. See my Jan 2013 Discussion on that subject. The Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth’ predictions in 1972 had a big effect on me, after I had expanded my Secular Humanism into Atheism with Bertrand Russell’s books in my teens.

    I have the Four Horsemen dvd and all 4 have influenced me in their different ways. I’m struggling through Dennett’s ‘Consciousness Explained’ for the 3rd time – now that’s difficult stuff even when unpacked by DD, but the human brain is hard to comprehend….

    If you read Dawkins’ books, you would see that your description of him as being ‘fanatically’ rational is actually him just being clear about science and what we actually know and how we know it. Without that Darwinian background, or just reading The God Delusion, or seeing debates vs faith-heads, or blogs and media appearances, gives you a rather distorted view of him.

    On Cathedral building, I don’t think there was much ‘volunteering’ going on, when you think about the indoctrinated punishments from God and his Gang if you didn’t give as much as possible, while any wages were extorted from the peasants in the first place. Have you read Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’? As for the Pyramids, it seems that many of the skilled workers were paid, although most laborers were slaves, as was typical in Egyptian society.

    Another good exchange of views, some of them on topic (sorry for the tangents, Mods)…. Mac.

  59. Hello Flopster,

    I visited your website and see you have an interesting background. I’m not particularly hostile to your efforts to salvage some sense from your monkish past.

    I don’t think you realize how powerful an argument Dawkins makes against an intelligent god in The God Delusion.

    Since human intelligence evolved very recently in the history of the universe, it is quite impossible that there existed any such intelligence, far less a super intelligence, which could create (or, as you put it, ‘express’) the universe 13.5 billion years ago.

    I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God, to the sense defined, is a delusion; and, as later chapters will show, a pernicious delusion. The God Delusion

  60. In reply to #128 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #127 by achromat666:

    In reply to #126 by flopster123:

    Hi achromat666 sorry to be so late in replying. I’m hoping they’ll let me do another post on Aquinas. RD does say that teh moral zeitgeist has improved and I think I’m free to doubt that. In reply to #16 by achromat666:

    Let’s sta…

    The 666 is a method of both playing with people’s heads, and a reflection of the pattern of my full name which has 6 letters in each one. The idea is simple: People are given names with that pattern all the time, the only reason why anyone cares at all is the superstition of the mark of the beast in revelations. So I use it to observe point out that absurdity.

    And I’m familiar enough with Aquinas to know that he has such positions I was asking flopster to be specific about he thinks Dawkins misunderstands.

    And can you offer examples of what your issues are with theoretical physics?

    As for this:

    Scientists do the same thing — with mixed, and if I may so so, with ridiculous results. Where did everything come from? Why it came from nothing. Hogwash and balderdash.

    I assume this is a stab at Krauss? Are you aware that nothing in the instance is not in fact a complete void?

    Is this the only ‘ridiculous’ result you have an issue with?

  61. Okay, gotcha about the number thing–still, how would I know that?

    You wouldn’t, I put the handle together to invite questions but you’re the first to actually ask about it. Which is fine either way, I’ve had it for so long that most likely don’t even notice.

    Aquinas was never my thing, specifically. I’m simply trying to get at flopster’s assertion about Dawkins’ ideas about him.

    And I disagree with the conclusions about modern physics, though yes there are still ‘bugs’ to be figured out as there are still questions to be answered. I don’t know everything about predictive models and theoretical physics, but I would need to see evidence of it being dishonest or disingenuous about any ‘fantastical claims’. I’m reading Krauss’s book now.

    Still, a lot of what we currently understand about reality was deemed fantastical when it was first discovered. Now many of those ideas seems mundane by comparison.

  62. In reply to #133 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #132 by achromat666:

    Okay, gotcha about the number thing–still, how would I know that?

    You wouldn’t, I put the handle together to invite questions but you’re the first to actually ask about it. Which is fine either way, I’ve had it for so long that most likely don’t even notice.

    Aqui…

    Fair enough on all accounts. One could argue that scientists could certainly have such conceits but the scientific process itself is to me about as humble as it gets: establish a position, experiment and research to verify or disprove said position, move forward. Additionally with as much as we know through science it’s not hard to see people stating things about it with confidence, though it can certainly be inferred to be overconfidence.

    But it is overall a work in progress. Much of what we know now can be turned on its ear with some discovery that forces us to rethink how we see things. Certainly the scientists from just a hundred years ago would not have seen the advances we have now coming, or certainly so quickly. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

    A pleasure meeting you as well.

  63. Dear Nitya. I’m sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I have a strong sense of a mystery behind the appearances of nature which I think…

    Hello RandyP sorry to be so late in replying but I’ve been on holiday. I dont think my analogy with Shakespeare does fail…

    Hello Petermead. so sorry I’m late in replying I’ve been on holiday. The atrocitites committed by the Church have…

    Hi achromat666 sorry to be so late in replying. I’m hoping they’ll let me do another post on Aquinas…

    Hi Kat. Sorry to be so late in replying. I think there’s a distinction in science between facts and meanings. If you look at the histo…

    Hello Cairsley Sorry to be so late in replying. Lovely to have somebody who’s actually read and appreciated…

    Hello Red Dog. sorry to be so late in replying. Yes I have to agree RD has a great veneration for the Bible which is one of the lovely…

    Hello Justine. Sorry to be so late in replying. Too much here to tackle all at once. I’d go along with Aquinas and say theology is…

    Is anybody else sick of religious apologists?

  64. Mods’ message

    Flopster, please stop! There’s no need to repeat the same thing over and over again in replies to individual users. This is a forum: everyone sees every comment posted! So by now everyone has been informed several times over why you weren’t able to reply before, and that you are hoping your new discussion topic on Aquinas will be posted. No need to keep repeating it.

    It’s good to see you replying to people’s comments, but a single post listing all the remaining comments you want to respond to/points you want to make will be quite enough to be going on with!

    Thanks.

    The mods

    • It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

      In reply to #143 by Moderator:

      Mods’ message

      Flopster, please stop! There’s no need to repeat the same thing over and over again in replies to individual users. This is a forum: everyone sees every comment posted! So by now everyone has been informed several times over why you weren’t able to reply before, and that you are hopin…

    • In reply to #143 by Moderator:

      Mods’ message

      Flopster, please stop! There’s no need to repeat the same thing over and over again in replies to individual users. This is a forum: everyone sees every comment posted! So by now everyone has been informed several times over why you weren’t able to reply before, and that you are hopin…

      “This is a forum: everyone sees every comment posted!”

      I don’t, although I have made many comments to people. I believe that most people, as I usually do, simply read a reply made to them, rather than the entire list of postings. Seems more like a Stalinist dictatorship with grumpy North Koreans moderating the site.

  65. ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the foundation–or perhaps just compacting the earth upon which the foundation will be laid. Yet, we talk so confidently. “

    You seem to have a bee in you bonnet re modern physics. Are you worried that physicists might believe they have answered most of the important questions and therefore put in less effort?

    Don’t worry, history shows that every generation of scientists is laying the foundations for the next generation. There are plenty of questions unanswered, eg. dark matter/energy, quantum gravity, unified field theory and the one many theists find most interesting, what started the big bang. And of course there are the unknown unanswered questions …?

    What are your favourite big questions?

    In reply to #133 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #132 by achromat666:

    Okay, gotcha about the number thing–still, how would I know that?

    You wouldn’t, I put the handle together to invite questions but you’re the first to actually ask about it. Which is fine either way, I’ve had it for so long that most likely don’t even notice.

    Aqui…

  66. In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #145 by Marktony:

    ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the foundation–or perhaps just compacting the earth upon which the foun…

    Are scientists only permitted to speculate about one thing at a time ? I would have thought that asking the questions would be almost as important as finding the answers.

  67. In reply to #113 by DonaldMiller:

    Flopster . . . Your long absence was cause for concern. Obviously, our prayers have been answered, thank God.

    Donald, that’s an odd comment from a self-proclaimed atheist. Do you actually have faith in God and prayers, despite not believing in any gods? Can you explain that contradiction? Mac.

  68. In reply to #154 by DonaldMiller:

    Questions are essential to philosophy. With regard to physics, if you’ll read my comment closely, you’ll see that I was referring to modern physicists as having dug themselves deeper and deeper into a slew of irrational ideas to make their initial speculations work. Even Newton wasn’t above fudging the numbers–but he only did it once in “The Principia.” Today it seems commonplace. At least it does to me.

    Donald, can you be specific about and expand upon the “slew of irrational ideas” and “initial speculations” that modern physicists have made in their hypotheses and theories, which you declared earlier are “hogwash and balderdash”? Can you discuss the “fudging of numbers” you claim they have committed, based on which Scientific Papers you’ve studied, and the relevant qualifications in Physics you have?

    I’m sure those scientists and the Peer-Review community would be interested to hear about your reservations and detailed accusations regarding their work…. Mac.

  69. In reply to #159 by DonaldMiller:

    It’s simply an absurd non sequitur, due to the strange reappearance of the previously dearly departed flopster. He’s alive and well, after all. So, I placed a bit of levity into the mix. Anyway, I thought it was a funny thing to say (I mean funny as in humourous–not as in peculiar, although it is that.) You didn’t crack a smile?

    Donald, considering the variety of worldviews that show up here, some of whom wouldn’t see your comment as a non-sequitur, you might make yourself more clear. I wonder how many of our readers, including the user you were responding to, realized you were ‘just kidding’? Mac, who didn’t crack a smile, was just puzzled at your ambiguity.

    • In reply to #162 by CdnMacAtheist:

      In reply to #159 by DonaldMiller:

      I’m sorry that I had read neither your comments nor those by Marktony before responding to DonaldMiller. I had only just got up….one of the problems encountered when replying in different time zones….and hadn’t scrolled down to read any other comments. I see that I’ve covered much the same ground. In that case, I really don’t have much to add, except to say that any big breakthrough is likely to come from left field.

  70. So you think effort is being wasted on hypotheses like Dark Matter? How do you know a breakthrough is not just around the corner? I see from post 131 that you are not a fan of the LHC and particle physics and you think that we could learn more by dropping plates! Did you (like Hawking) lose a bet on the Higgs particle?

    If you were in charge, how would you decide which areas of research to drop?

    Or perhaps you could just abolish cosmology and particle physics? Dark matter is assumed to be made from some as yet unknown sub-atomic particle, so I can see why it’s at the top of your list.

    In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #145 by Marktony:

    ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the foundation–or perhaps just compacting the earth upon which the foun…

  71. In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #145 by Marktony:

    ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the foundation–or perhaps just compacting the earth upon which the foun…

    The prospect of a multiverse is looking increasingly likely everyday. Lawrence Krauss certainly doesn’t dismiss the idea out of hand. There are signs pointing in that direction and I’m glad they’re working on it. String theory may never amount to anything ( or maybe it will) but I’m really glad that there are those out there, willing to put effort into following it up.

    I suspect all the great leaps were considered bizarre and irrational until they gained traction. I know there are many ideas being researched at this moment and most of them won’t bear fruit, but that’s where our advances are going to come from, think ‘black holes’, ‘dark matter’,and even the ‘Big Bang ‘ itself. All these ideas were met with some derision initially…..in my lifetime!

    Maybe you were not being serious when making that comment. It certainly pushed my buttons. You also hinted at some sort of fraud? I don’t know exactly in what area you mean. I’m not aware of fraudulent behaviour, but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the possibility because people are people after all.

    • “…. people are people after all”

      Exactly. Scientists make mistakes, they exaggerate, and even make fraudulent claims. But the process of peer review and the opportunities for other scientists to make their reputations by pointing out the mistakes means that serious error/fraud tends to get exposed pretty quick.

      For an idea of what Donald may be thinking of, see the Huffington Post article “Scientists Behaving Badly”. I would have provided the link but I don’t know how to get the underscore character.

      For many of the religious, the fact that scientists are merely human and make mistakes is more evidence for their view that certain controversial (to them) scientific theories are no doubt wrong – science is not infallible because it’s done by ordinary humans but our book is the perfect word of God. Not to imply that Donald thinks this way, he is an atheist.

      In reply to #164 by Nitya:

      In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

      In reply to #145 by Marktony:

      ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the foundation–or perhaps just compa…

      • In reply to #165 by Marktony:

        “…. people are people after all”

        Exactly. Scientists make mistakes, they exaggerate, and even make fraudulent claims. But the process of peer review and the opportunities for other scientists to make their reputations by pointing out the mistakes means that serious error/fraud tends to get expose…

        It’s a shame that I hadn’t scrolled down before replying to DonaldMiller as you and CdnMacAtheist had already covered that ground. I see that we’re all on the same page and that’s good. I’m sure any big breakthrough will come from an idea that was thought to be on the lunatic fringe initially. It’s the checks and balances of peer review that keep it all working as it should.

  72. In reply to #169 by DonaldMiller:

    People have talked about a Manhattan Project for energy production for years, and it’s been met with no interest.

    Donald, the Manhattan Project was driven by political and military agendas, using neutral scientific knowledge for terrible purposes. A Manhattan Energy Project cannot be driven by scientists since the huge funding is politically motivated, and politicians are ‘owned’ by the present energy suppliers, while being voted in by scientifically ignorant, self-centered and selfish voters.

    There are incredible real-life challenges. The Fukushima nuclear reactor will be a thorn in Japan’s side for the next forty years.

    The problems at Fukushima were enabled by geographic, political and financial agendas, not by the nuclear science being wrong. Japan sits on one of the most tectonically active areas in the world, and the risk-assessments were approved by politicians.

    Finding new, better and safer ways to generate energy will not be possible without a deep understanding of what energy is and does, which is what particle physics and the theories on the emergence of our universe are working on. Who would have predicted what the strange speculations about Quantum Mechanics would give us within 75 years, even if few folk actually understand it…. Mac.

  73. In reply to #170 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #164 by Nitya:

    In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #145 by Marktony:

    ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” questions. Right now, it seems to me, we are just laying the found…

    Possibly the main objection you have to exploring scientific questions is one of cost? When these costs are compared to huge amounts squandered in other areas, they pale in comparison. Consider the huge payments received when vintage wines are auctioned. A sum of $1.5 m was paid for ONE bottle of French red! The wine may never be consumed! Examples of this sort of extravagance are abundant. Money is squandered on items with prices inflated simply in pursuit of vanity and status.

    Compare these costs with those aimed at shedding light on our origins. These things are of genuine value to everyone on the planet. The quest for knowledge is very human. Once we humans reach one level of understanding we can build on to further levels. A most worthy endeavour, in my opinion.

  74. In reply to #174 by Nitya:

    Possibly the main objection you have to exploring scientific questions is one of cost? When these costs are compared to huge amounts squandered in other areas, they pale in comparison. Consider the huge payments received when vintage wines are auctioned. A sum of $1.5 m was paid for ONE bottle of French red! Money is squandered on items with prices inflated simply in pursuit of vanity and status.

    Hi Nitya. There are many examples of this, from $250 million paintings, or cars ‘worth’ $35 million, 1 attack helicopter costing a year of SETI funding, 1 aircraft carrier costing $26 billion, $80 billion to ‘subsidize’ the US oil industry, or $1750 billion spent annually on global military budgets.

    Basic Research is cheap – the LHC (biggest machine in history) cost ~$10 billion, and it’s getting tuned-up for further work on sub-atomic physics after confirming the predicted Higgs Boson, which from a layman’s viewpoint may have seemed like irrational speculation. Pondering the unknown is far more fruitful than the lives and fortunes wasted supporting and enforcing dogmatic religious pre-suppositions.

    If only sense was more common, and far more rationality was being put into Reason and Science…. Mac.

    • In reply to #177 by CdnMacAtheist:

      In reply to #174 by Nitya:

      Possibly the main objection you have to exploring scientific questions is one of cost? When these costs are compared to huge amounts squandered in other areas, they pale in comparison. Consider the huge payments received when vintage wines are auctioned. A sum of $1.5 m w…

      Hi Mac. Items such as the painting are the things I had in mind. They possess no intrinsic worth and are valuable simply to give the owner “bragging rights”. If I were to rail against money being wasted it would be in cases such as these. Other examples that spring to mind are waterfront properties, extravagant gems, luxury sports cars, designer clothes. All the trappings of wealth and status that exist simply in order to tell the world that the owner was richer and more powerful than everyone else.

      Money spent searching for answers to the really big questions, is paltry in comparison. So what, if some funds end up following a path that leads nowhere. It’s worth the risk. The LHC is a shining example of what can be accomplished when working together on a project.

      Returning to the obscene amount paid for the bottle of wine; the purchaser spoke to the camera directly saying how she was caught up in the spirit of the auction, a price of $1m was reached and before she knew what had happened she found herself bidding $1.5m! To add insult to injury, she said that she may not even drink it, but she just ‘had to have it’!

      I’m excited by the prospect of confirming a multiverse. It makes no difference to the day to day life of anyone, but it fills a gap in our understanding and I think it would be magnificent.

      • And a Spanish football (soccer) club just paid an £85 million transfer fee for a player from England. The player will be paid £300,000 per week (yes that’s per week).

        Back to dark matter, there is an article (Portraits of Darkness) in the 31 August issue of New Scientist. The article summarises the latest results from the various detectors and goes on to discuss the hypotheses being made by theorists which might be
        (as you put it) thought to be on the lunatic fringe, at least by some. Here is an extract:

        ” To solve the dark matter mystery, we have to think as broadly as possible about what dark matter could be, so we don’t miss what it is, says Kathryn Zurek, a high-energy theorist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
        Zurek and others are exploring a much richer dark sector, with multiple dark particles and interactions and even dark atoms, dark chemistry, and ultimately a mirror universe matching ours particle for particle and force for force “.

        Perhaps Donald should not read the article – may not be good for his blood pressure.

        The theorists came up with some interesting names when they developed the standard model of particle physics,
        eg. there are the up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom quarks. I suppose it’s possible that models like this, although they work, are in fact hugely over-complicated and future discoveries will provide a more simple and tidy explanation of the universe. Anyway, the current scientific explanation is preferable and far more interesting than “God did it”.

        In reply to #178 by Nitya:

        In reply to #177 by CdnMacAtheist:

        In reply to #174 by Nitya:

        Possibly the main objection you have to exploring scientific questions is one of cost? When these costs are compared to huge amounts squandered in other areas, they pale in comparison. Consider the huge payments received when vintage wi…

        • In reply to #179 by Marktony:

          And a Spanish football (soccer) club just paid an £85 million transfer fee for a player from England. The player will be paid £300,000 per week (yes that’s per week).

          Back to dark matter, there is an article (Portraits of Darkness) in the 31 August issue of New Scientist. The article summarises the…

          An article in the New Scientist a couple of years ago, contained a list of 8 to 10 ‘out-there’ ideas being researched. String theory was amongst the group as I recall, and they had featured lengthy articles in previous editions.

          Possible discoveries are mind boggling! I’d rather surplus dollars were spent unravelling these mysteries than paying the inflated salaries of some football star. I suppose an argument could be made for the fact that his income did not come from tax dollars, but that’s what governments are for….. Funding less popular but more worthy causes.

          I love the element of whimsy that characterises the names of quarks, as well!

  75. In reply to #175 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #174 by Nitya:

    In reply to #170 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #164 by Nitya:

    In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

    In reply to #145 by Marktony:

    ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or so, we’ll be cracking the “big” que…

    Well, I like the thought of major engineering projects also. Can’t we have both? I think there’s room for advanced research and major works that can benefit lives in the here and now.

    • Isn’t the LHC one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever built?

      In reply to #181 by Nitya:

      In reply to #175 by DonaldMiller:

      In reply to #174 by Nitya:

      In reply to #170 by DonaldMiller:

      In reply to #164 by Nitya:

      In reply to #147 by DonaldMiller:

      In reply to #145 by Marktony:

      ” Which brings me to “modern physics”. I think a lot more humility is required. Maybe in a hundred years or…

  76. Flopster,

    Dawkins is generally pretty good. Occasionally he’s not so good, sometimes he’s crap. Not entirely dissimilar to Jesus, if you look at the Bilbe. All sources of ideas and information are worth considering. If I may be so bold as to suggest an idea to you… Ideas stand on their own merits. Many, many great scholars have, at times talked absolute rubbish, while a drug-addled waster in the gutter could present you with the most profound piece of wisdom you will ever hear. It is the idea that is (or is not) of value, not the author.

  77. In The God Delusion, Dawkins writes that he loves Hindus, but…what about the dancing Shiva (Nataraja)? This common figure of hinduism dances right on Asmara, the crippled dwarf; this is how Hindus treat the impaired.

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