We Need Richard Dawkins And You

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Despite having written “The God Delusion” which inspired me and others to be involved in the secular movement an argument goes that Richard Dawkins has had his day, a bit like a star footballer approaching retirement. His style of play is seen as ineffective and embarrassing as we are urged to move to civil engagement and reconciliation with believers. Turning keyboards into ploughshares will apparently herald a new age of reasonable reason.

Dawkins for me is the star defender of the team – he tackles hard. You do not want angels playing in that position; there will be times when the other side will shout for a booking let alone a sending off. But the game would be lost without that talent and determination regularly being employed on the pitch.

Watching Dawkins debate Deepak Chopra reminded me why I traveled thousands of miles to support the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Dawkins’ passion for not just calling out pseudo science but explaining what the science actually is, expressing real poetry in how things are without needing to imagine what we cannot know. Quite simply it is enthralling to hear complex subjects so beautifully explained by Dawkins.

I remember listening to a radio interview when a recovering drug addict phoned to say his new found Christian faith helped him and who was Dawkins to knock that? Richard replied that he had no desire to do so and wished him well. So much for the uncaring atheist bashing professor “The Guardian” article tried to paint to besmirch him recently.

Twitter does not do full justice to Dawkins, but his intellectual capacity to aid public understanding of science together with the resources he makes available to secular and atheist organisations makes a huge difference. Accusations of aloofness at someone who engages with the public on a social media platform, is the least of his worries in the hullabaloo.

For me this goes further than a culture war, or enjoying the argument on social media. People are suffering and dying because of attitudes which are defended as religious – or claimed simultaneously to be cultural yet still to be respected. For Dawkins this is no intellectual exercise but a moral imperative to speak out. How someone feels about a t-shirt really is not in the same league…continue reading

Written By: John Sargeant
continue to source article at homoeconomicusnet.wordpress.com

126 COMMENTS

  1. I did not understand this article at all, so please forgive me if this comment is not related to the post. ‘God is a Delusion’ indicates to me that people that believe in God are delusional. Delusional means to me that it is a psych. condition: Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. In my opinion nothing short of psychological testing of these people and the application of therapy to overcome this psychosis is in order. I would recommend that each subject should be made to read the bible with a therapist and if that is not enough to overcome the psychosis that they should be hospitalized and have their rights limited as to not allow them to have any contact with the general population so as not to spread this disease of thought for the rest of their natural born life.

    • In reply to #1 by MalcomMigacz:

      I did not understand this article at all, so please forgive me if this comment is not related to the post. ‘God is a Delusion’ indicates to me that people that believe in God are delusional. Delusional means to me that it is a psych. condition: Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. In my…

      There are many aspects of religious belief that are delusional, not just the belief in gods! Anyone who seriously and truthfully says that they believe any of the founding stories for the Abrahamic religions is suffering from a psychosis.

      Anyone who seriously believes that there is a personal god who cares for them and if worshipped will give them an eternal place in heaven or condemn them to an eternal place in hell if not worshipped is suffering from a psychosis.

      Just try and convince them. That’s the challenge!

      • In reply to #11 by abraham:

        In reply to #1 by MalcomMigacz:
        Delusion is not necesseraily a psychological condition, so there is no need to hospitalize believers. A delusion is simply an erroneous belief.

        I think this clarifies the definitions:-

        de·lu·sion – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/delusion
        >

        • 1.
          a. The act or process of deluding.
          b. The state of being deluded.
          1. A false belief or opinion: (labored under the delusion that success was at hand).
          1. Psychiatry A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: (delusions of persecution).
    • In reply to #1 by MalcomMigacz:

      I did not understand this article at all, so please forgive me if this comment is not related to the post. ‘God is a Delusion’ indicates to me that people that believe in God are delusional. Delusional means to me that it is a psych. condition: Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. In my…

      People, can we please stop with this nonsense? Historically, one of the most disturbing and grim sides of totalitarian regimes was to classify opposing views as “mental illnesses” and locking your opponents to a mental asylum. Thinking something is true, when it is not, is NOT a mental illness! It’s just called “being wrong”! What’s next? Calling “insane” the people that believe in socialist ideals? Or don’t believe in them? Or those that don’t accept the existence of climate change? Or time dilation? Or string theory? Or reality show contestants that are sure they have a great singing voice, when they don’t? Maybe the ones that think Transformers 3 was a great movie? Please!

      I’ve talked about this matter with my own therapist, who is a University professor of Psychiatry, (and an atheist, like me). At least according to the prevailing modern scientific views, the mechanisms that lead someone to adopt a religious faith are not part of a mental disorder, in the medical sense, that needs to be treated. You can’t put your trust in science and scientists only when it suits you, and when it’s not arbitrarily claim the “lunatics have taken over the asylum” and attack the scientific consencus with the odd article and book here and there that kinda supports your view. So stop with the overzealous attempts against the religious. We have enough ammunition already. They’re not insane, they just employ a worldview that is heavily outdated, and can be replaced by a much better one, which will help mankind improve itself even more. That’s all we need to say.

    • That’s only the title of his book. Which is typically a bit sensational in order to sell the book.
      That being said : it is a delusion, just like believing in santa claus is a delusion .
      To delude yourself just means that you don’t accept reality, and choose to believe something that doesn’t conform to reality.

      In that sense belief in God is a delusion : it doesn’t conform to reality, it is believed without evidence.

      However, if you read the book, you will notice that it’s actually quite mild towards believers.

      In reply to #1 by MalcomMigacz:

      I did not understand this article at all, so please forgive me if this comment is not related to the post. ‘God is a Delusion’ indicates to me that people that believe in God are delusional. Delusional means to me that it is a psych. condition: Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. In my…

  2. I am by my own admission not much of a team player or back slapper but I do like to give credit where credit is due. I like to form my own opinions for the most part but I appreciate this opportunity to agree with the OP as regards Mr. Dawkins. He’s been, and continues to be, an invaluable resource in bringing people together in the name of reason and I will always be grateful for his part in my delivery to sanity. It is never lost on me that I have RDFRS and Mr. Dawkins to thank for the assist in my escape from religion. Thank you Richard for your help.

    • In reply to #2 by aroundtown:

      I am by my own admission not much of a team player or back slapper but I do like to give credit where credit is due. I like to form my own opinions for the most part but I appreciate this opportunity to agree with the OP as regards Mr. Dawkins. He’s been, and continues to be, an invaluable resourc…

      I’m the same as you, and frown with disdain on the current celebrity culture, and I think it’s regrettable that Richard Dawkins has become associated with said sorry crowd, but I think he’s probably the finest expositor of science we have today, and it was almost inevitable that this unfortunate side product would result; he is also of course fearless in his exposure of religions as fallacious, and I’m grateful for it.

      Further, I think this forum is arguably the best educational resource on line, in that it’s informative as well as accessible.

      S G

    • In reply to #2 by aroundtown:

      I am by my own admission…….

      Glad that this and Richards work has helped you, I myself have been a life long A.
      I forget sometimes that i was fortunate and was not brainwashed from an early age into those religions.
      Alot of people really have no choice in the matter due to their parents views and their countries laws etc.
      Its our job i think to try and bring reason to the lost sheep if we are able.
      But we need to do this tactfully and with care.

  3. I think Christopher Hitchens was a much more potent adversary to theists if only because he didn’t care about offending people, whereas RD is rather too polite and posh to have the ‘Hitchslap’ effect. That is perhaps to his credit, however, depending on your tastes. To say that RD has had his day is ridiculous, though, as rational argument overrides fashion.

  4. Regarding Yvonne Ridley’s ridiculous comparison in this article between that stupid quenelle gesture and a t-shirt of jesus & mo, it seems to me that this quenelle gesture, despite claims it is anti-establishment or anti-Zionist only, is targeted by many at important sites of holocaust victims and deaths like Auschwitz, or cemeteries where victims are buried.

    A better analogy would be her wearing a t-shirt of Alexander The Great saying hi? (offensive to Greeks? Nah! Get over it!) compared to people taking photos of themselves grinning with their thumbs up outside the site of the Srebrenica Massacre where 1,000s of Bosnian muslim young men and boys were executed. (extremely offensive)

    Or perhaps a t-shirt of George W Bush with a red nose (offensive to neo-cons?), vs gloating photos of racists standing proudly next to a burning cross (extremely offensive).

    If she cannot tell the difference between (well deserved) criticism of a historical power hungry figure (Mohamed) and the gloating of the deliberate killing of 6million innocent people, then she really needs to get a reality check. Mind you, if she believes in a god, reality is not one of her strong points.

    So which is more worrying Yvonne, justified criticism of powerful historical figures or celebration of mass genocide? Are they really equal?

    • In reply to #4 by adey5:

      Regarding Yvonne Ridley’s ridiculous comparison in this article between that stupid quenelle gesture and a t-shirt of jesus & mo, it seems to me that this quenelle gesture, despite claims it is anti-establishment or anti-Zionist only, is targeted by many at important sites of holocaust victims and d…

      Yvonne Ridley is to Islam what Vidkun Quisling was to the Nazis(he was justifiably executed!)

      • In reply to #85 by Blasphemyman:

        In reply to #4 by adey5:

        Regarding Yvonne Ridley’s ridiculous comparison in this article between that stupid quenelle gesture and a t-shirt of jesus & mo, it seems to me that this quenelle gesture, despite claims it is anti-establishment or anti-Zionist only, is targeted by many at important sites of holocaust victims and d…

        Yvonne Ridley is to Islam what Vidkun Quisling was to the Nazis (he was justifiably executed!)

        Does Yvonne Ridley deserve to be executed, Blasphemyman?

    • In reply to #6 by MilitantNonStampCollector:

      If it wasn’t for the works of Richard Dawkins, my mind would still be warped by Jesus-psychosis. I’ll always feel kind of indebted to him for that.

      That sounds horrible. Seriously, it doesn’t sound liek a very pleasant experience and you have my genuine sympathy but I would find it interesting if you could explain that whether it was a psychosis and if so how can Dawkins (let’s face it a 4/10 philosopher) wrench you from it? Do you use rigourous philosophical introspection/ evaluation? the thing is rigourous philsophical examination and Dawkins dont really go together so there must be another factor. Speaking as student of philosophy for 7 years.

      • In reply to #75 by v.interesting:

        it was a psychosis and if so how can Dawkins (let’s face it a 4/10 philosopher) wrench you from it?

        You seem to have missed out on the updated version of Natural Philosophy referred to as “science” these days, and regularly used by 10/10 scientists like Professor Dawkins.

        Do you use rigourous philosophical introspection/ evaluation?

        Science uses objective rigorous methodology, reasoning, and multiple testing, leaving the ” rigourous” whimisical navel-gazing, to the theosophers who inherited the immaterial 4/10 rump-end of philosophy when the more useful parts were reclassified as science.

        the thing is rigourous philsophical examination and Dawkins dont really go together so there must be another factor.

        Rigorous scientific examination and Prof. Dawkins are very closely associated. The “other factor” is scientific evidence for scientific claims and the absence of it in religious claims.

        Speaking as student of philosophy for 7 years.

        Are you sure it was not theosophy?

        You sound confused about the philosophy of using reasoned evidence based, scientific methodology, which provides the most reliable information available on the world, the universe and living organisms!

        • In reply to #77 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #75 by v.interesting:

          it was a psychosis and if so how can Dawkins (let’s face it a 4/10 philosopher) wrench you from it?

          You seem to have missed out on the updated version of Natural Philosophy referred to as “science” these days, and regularly used by 10/10 scientists like Professor…

          hehe! when you say objective rigourous methodology I believe you’re referring to a material study of the material world right? hmmm what I do strongly disagree with is that somehow you’ve equated scientifically validated obervations of the world (and from the world) with ‘truth’ that my friend is the crux of the matter. I mean if you think that’s navel gazing I reckon people like Kant would’ve had a field day.

          • In reply to #79 by v.interesting:

            In reply to #77 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #75 by v.interesting:

            it was a psychosis and if so how can Dawkins (let’s face it a 4/10 philosopher) wrench you from it?

            You seem to have missed out on the updated version of Natural Philosophy referred to as “science” these days, and regularly use…

            Sorry I should have also added that you can’t use science introspectively.. that’s well mental

          • In reply to #79 by v.interesting:

            In reply to #77 by Alan4discussion:

            You seem to have missed out on the updated version of Natural Philosophy referred to as “science” these days, and regularly use…

            hehe! when you say objective rigourous methodology I believe you’re referring to a material study of the material world right?

            That is how science matches perceptions of truth to material reality, using objective observations, repeat testing and evidenced reasoning and a review process to identify errors and cognitive biases.
            .

            hmmm what I do strongly disagree with is that somehow you’ve equated scientifically validated obervations of the world (and from the world) with ‘truth’

            There are true statements about the world, and there are whimsicalities pronounced to be “truth” by introspective navel gazers, whose “truths” are at best self consistent castles in the air detached from material reality, and often fallacious nonsense. Claims which contradict “scientifically validated observations of the world”, are proved false. I don’t see any reasoned basis for disagreement on that.

            that my friend is the crux of the matter. I mean if you think that’s navel gazing I reckon people like Kant would’ve had a field day.

            Without an objective evidenced basis, it is navel gazing, no matter who has a whimsical field day.

            Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) stated:

            It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof.

            Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but … let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.

            Objects do not conform to our introspective cognition. As science points out, our cognition must try to be matched as closely as possible to material reality!
            People stupid enough to believe that gravity must conform to their whimsical cognition, fall off high buildings just like anyone else.
            The laws of nature do not care about personal cognitive misconceptions.

            Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. These included the Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, 1788),

            Revealed introspective TRRRrroofs, are just personal fantasy, unless they are reflections on earlier objective observations.

            @80 – Sorry I should have also added that you can’t use science introspectively.. that’s well mental

            The human brain cannot do self diagnosis, so any introspective claims are just whimsy. Any analysis of brain functions needs to be carried out independently by the external neuroscientists or neuro-psychologists who have made much progress in this field recently, and have definitely moved on since the 1700s.

            Neuroscience For Kids – http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html

  5. I said it on the other thread so I might as well say it here, following the sporting metaphor somewhat ! (For those not into sport, Ronaldo of Real Madrid, has just won the Golden Globe award for best footballer playing in Europe)

    I would say Richard is a very good team player. Very good in defence, always willing to pass the ball and get the team out of trouble. But he has also scored some pretty bloody tremendous goals ! That’s why the opposition fans hate him so much !

    (To the tune of My Guy)

    “Nothing you can do as he waltzes past you,

    Richardo” !

  6. Talking to a white British audience, I’ve heard at least one non-white person here in the UK say the Dawk gave them the ability to criticise white people without hate and without feeling that they were getting into a war of some sort.

    .

    This may be difficult for white British people to understand but here goes.

    .

    There’s a unifying nature to what Richard Dawkins has said and written. So if he’s really outmoded now, he has, maybe without realising it, done a great deal to legitimise people of any colour, race or supposed creed criticising any relgion, whether theirs or not.

    .

    Here’s my point: In the seventies, eighties and nineties, if you were a non-white British non-believer, you couldn’t point out to white Christians of whatever flavour the bizarre nature of their faith because they would say, “Well, look at your idiotic beliefs – you think there’s an elephant-headed god out there somewhere [or something]! Ours is the religion of Britain, and because we’re white Brits, our Christian beliefs are valid whereas your foul faiths of foreign origin are mad.” Never mind that Christianity is more than kinda foriegn!

    .

    What Richard Dawkins has done is given legitimacy to anyone at all in the UK criticising anyone else’s religion and their own without fear. That’s a big thing. He has prevented people from being called hypocrites, which in the past in Britian was a way of keeping non-white people in their place.

    .

    Because in The God Delusion the Dawk has focused on Christianity, non-white people who don’t believe religious nonsense have found it easier to come out of the closet and express how they not only do NOT believe in Christ and his bullshit but also how they can have no faith whatsoever in the crap their own religions put forward either, whether that faith is Islam, Hindusim or whatever.

    .

    I’d say white Brits will find this difficult to understand but I’m sure that the Dawk gave all UK citizens (“citizen” sounds so horribly left wing or communist, socialist or something!) a reason to decry religious irrationality of any kind. His books brought all of us non-believers of any skin colour together. Talking of which, evolution shows what a steaming heap of poo any person is who discriminates in that way.

  7. Like Richard, I cant believe we are even having these conversations, I seriously find it totally ridiculous that in the 21st century the majority of apparently stable minded people in society and in authority still believe in fairy tales, is it an agenda thing maybe??? the sooner we wake up to religion and state collusion, the better.

    Good luck Richard, we are right behind you!

    • In reply to #14 by zula:

      .. seriously find it totally ridiculous that in the 21st century the majority of apparently stable minded people in society and in authority still believe in fairy tales, is it an agenda thing maybe???

      So believing in an ‘agenda’ is not a fairy tale type thing?

  8. Every team needs a Nobby Stiles. That’s what we sometimes say about football teams. But the truth is, when you face a goliath godzilla, as it were, you need a whole team of Nobby Stiles. Well Dawkins has empowered us mere mortals of Atheists to stand up and voice our views and tackle the pomposity of religion in the style of our own Nobby Stiles.
    The biggest compliment Dawkins can ever receive is the animosity with which he is held by theists. They have been accustomed to centuries of invisible Atheists. Atheists who knew their place. Atheists who were seen but not heard – well actually not seen either.
    For centuries they have been strutting their stuff every Sunday, and every other day actually, in their churches preaching their fantasy tales and condemning every other religion as well as the most evil heathens of all … the Atheists … of being damned for ever damned! They have had open access to the media and to politics.
    And now .. they find that us mere Atheists have the temerity, the bloody cheek to actually SPEAK ! and the outrageous gall to criticise them!! and .. lest they lose their breath completely … it seems we are not just one in a thousand but we are MANY !! Hold moly they have no choice but to reach for a bottle hyperbole.
    We are now ‘militant’ Atheists ! We are now ‘extreme’ atheists ! We are now so so so rude ! OMG. To actually stand up and stand for what we (don’t) believe in ! Something they have been exercising their right to do, ad nauseam, for all of these centuries ? WTF ??
    We need Dawkins. Yes we do. But what we need even more is ordinary Atheists to follow his lead and not just sit back and wait for him to lead every charge. We need to stand up and say “I am Spartacus!” in our everyday lives. Not to the point of being rude or offensive, but to the point of being clear and honest and open and frank .. that no, we do not actually believe in any of this nonsense about imaginary gods. No. We don’t. And we actually think people who do believe in them are silly and irrational and wrong. And if that makes us militant, extremist and offensive … Then So Be IT !

    • In reply to #15 by Howard Brittain:

      Every team needs a Nobby Stiles. That’s what we sometimes say about football teams. But the truth is, when you face a goliath godzilla, as it were, you need a whole team of Nobby Stiles. Well Dawkins has empowered us mere mortals of Atheists to stand up and voice our views and tackle the pomposity o…

      Hear, hear!

    • In reply to #15 by Howard Brittain:

      Every team needs a Nobby Stiles.

      Of course when I say that I mistakenly inferred that Dawkins is, let’s say ‘not the brightest star in the firmament’ … LOL … which of course is totally NOT the case … Dawkins is actually a magical combo of Stiles and Franz Beckenbauer !

  9. Religion is a fraud. The scam consists on taking advantage of people’s fear of death to sell them an afterlife that does not exist. Is there anything more unmoral than this?
    Actually yes. The scam is started during childhood before critical thinking has been developed. And the perpetrators of such massive fraud claim themselves champions of morality. …. Things like these only happen during your worse nightmares. Time to wake up!

    • In reply to #16 by Eduair:

      Religion is a fraud. The scam consists on taking advantage of people’s fear of death to sell them an afterlife that does not exist. Is there anything more unmoral than this?
      Actually yes. The scam is started during childhood before critical thinking has been developed. And the perpetrators of such m…

      I find again and again the lack of any philosophical consideration of these posts amazing! It can be debunked as : did you find you way to religion from fear of death? no. These aren’t factual statements youre making here. It’s just popularist coffee table banter . Lets take the juxtaposed position. The sca is there is no objctive world/ truth. this is ingrained in children at school or in their formative years.. So are we any closer to truth or just transplanting one set of basic beliefs with anotehr.

      • In reply to #74 by v.interesting: (original spelling left intact)

        In reply to #16 by Eduair:

        Religion is a fraud. The scam is started during childhood before critical thinking has been developed.

        These aren’t factual statements youre making here. It’s just popularist coffee table banter .

        We are all dependent on our parents, community, and schooling for the vast majority of what we believe. I have often said that taking at face value the word of any scientist at face value just because he is an atheist is no better than the delusion that every word spoken by a priest must be gospel.

        The fraud or scam that Eduair talks of may not be deliberate, we cannot know what is in the mind of a religious leader. Probably he genuinely believes the drivel he spouts but we are not supposed to question that. One cannot help but wonder how anyone can genuinely believe in the bible and yet perpetrate the kinds of horrific acts that some of the paedophile priests are accused of. How they plan to square that one with their god on judgement day I’m not sure.

        Religion being a fraud is not simply banter, we have a great deal of evidence that a lot of what is (or was) taught as fact from the bible is now deliberately downgraded to metaphorical stories. Christians are constantly diluting their belief (not flogging people who work on the Sabbath, positively welcoming female priests, tolerating homosexuals) despite it being clearly laid out in the bible that these things are not to be tolerated. Did their god write a supplement that we all missed? No, it is simply that the bible is more and more provably wrong and religions that do not adapt (in a kind of Darwinian fashion) will die. I for one will not be attending the funeral.

  10. RD has now become an institution. It is normal, as this article says, that there should be debates on tactics and strategy, and occasional free-kicks against him. However, we should concentrate on the main thrust and leadership he has provided- and continues to. Would it not be helpful, in order for his views to obtain wider audience and recognition, that he should nominated for a Nobel prize, or a knighthood in his own country ( unless, like Alan Bennett, he would refuse one?) Is there any initiative afoot in these directions? and how to support it?

    • In reply to #18 by catphil:

      RD has now become an institution. It is normal, as this article says, that there should be debates on tactics and strategy, and occasional free-kicks against him. However, we should concentrate on the main thrust and leadership he has provided- and continues to.

      In the world of hurried and lazy journalism, it is very common for those looking for media stories with some sort of “authority”, to contact the chairs, managers, or secretaries, of committees, companies, charitable foundations, sports clubs, or dog, cat, agricultural or horticultural shows. Richard is an “easy find”, when they want an “atheist viewpoint”, or are looking to “balance” a contrived controversy.

  11. The big difference between a knee of a football star and a mind of a scientist is the fact that the mind is sharpened by use whereas the knee gets destroyed by overuse. So a scientist is at the end of his career when his mind stops working. I can’t see anything like this at what I percieve from Dr. Dawkins. To all those woh think he is too strident: He is not. He keeps his politeness even in situations where most of us would freak out or leave the sceene. And he denies discussing YEC-people (other than Bill Nye sadly). And he is not a warhead for atheism but for the fight against superstition, pseudo science and everything that is just a blind belief without evidence. At the same time he is an advocate for the beauty of the universe and the beauty of the scientific approach to understand as much as possible of it. As long as he works like this his time is definitely not over – no matter what the press writes!

  12. The big difference between a knee of a football star and a mind of a scientist is the fact that the mind is sharpened by use whereas the knee gets destroyed by overuse. So a scientist is at the end of his career when his mind stops working. I can’t see anything like this at what I percieve from Dr. Dawkins. To all those woh think he is too strident: He is not. He keeps his politeness even in situations where most of us would freak out or leave the sceene. And he denies discussing YEC-people (other than Bill Nye sadly). And he is not a warhead for atheism but for the fight against superstition, pseudo science and everything that is just a blind belief without evidence. At the same time he is an advocate for the beauty of the universe and the beauty of the scientific approach to understand as much as possible of it. As long as he works like this his time is definitely not over – no matter what the press writes!

  13. Just a comment, I am glancing around my room right now and I see scores of objects which somebody or other has made. I get in my car and go to the mall and see thousands more objects that somebody or other constructed. I come home and I leave my pen next to an empty sheet of paper, but in the morning, nothing intelligible is on the empty sheet of paper. I wait 1 year waiting for writing to appear, but nothing. Odd how I could leave my pen and paper on the desk, but never get anything on it. And unless someone adds effort, thought, and also picks up the pen, no writing. If it constantly takes human effort from a human mind and hands to make all the stuff we use every day, just how is it that biological living things just come into being ( which are much more delicate and complex) than manmade stuff. In short, no creator, no nothing, whether inanimate—man as fashioner, or biological, God as creator. Simple logic.
    John

    • In reply to #25 by johnmburke:

      In short, no creator, no nothing, whether inanimate—man as fashioner, or biological, God as creator. Simple logic. John

      I don’t like your analogy John. I find it simplistic in the extreme. I’m sure you don’t take active steps to show the signs of ageing either and yet in the morning you wake up with another grey hair or an extra wrinkle.

      Using the ‘simple logic’ that you propose, we eventually come to the part that says ‘ well who created the creator?’ Not a very satisfying end to the argument, to be sure.

  14. I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional. I’ve lived 52 years on this planet in peace with my neighbors and spent 28 years teaching students about the wonders of science. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or deny climate change and evolution. I have no criminal record, no secret life of debauchery; I’ve never physically harmed another soul. I’ve been married to one woman, an amazing wife of 24 years who I would be lost without. I’m raising two sons who people describe as polite, respectful, “good boys,” I’ve enjoyed two successful careers, paid my taxes for decades and taken care of my family (and others) financially. I give to the poor in Eastern Europe and Africa. No one who knows me would describe me as anything other than “stable,” psychologically sound,” and “grounded in reality.” For the past nine years I’ve battle a terminal disease, and I’m repeatedly told I’m an inspiration of courage and hope to many. Where does the “delusional” appear in my life? How can I be mentally unstable in my core beliefs and not have it show up in any other area of my life for five decades? Any rational, unbiased person would never label me delusional just because of my faith, and I know dozens of other Christians just like me. What right do you have, Malcom and others, to decree that I be institutionalized? You claim people of faith are blind, but it’s time to remove that log out of your own eye. Living life with tunnel vision will not end well.

    • In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

      I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional. I’ve lived 52 years on this planet in peace with my neighbors and spent 28 years teaching students about the wonders of science. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or deny climate change and evolution. I have no criminal r…

      Have you actually read the book? I would encourage you to give it a try. Dawkins chose a deliberately provocative title. Actually I’m not sure if he ever said that but that was always my impression. I can see why you would find the title offensive but Dawkins is a good scientist and chooses his words carefully. He said “delusion” I think to make the point that our society has a two tiered standard for evaluating beliefs. Ideas such as virgin births, wafers turning into people, wine turning into blood, that would be the stuff of horror movies or mental disorders in any other domain are considered normal when they are part of a religion.

      In the actual book though (and just as in every public appearance I’ve ever seen him in) Dawkins is never rude to theists. He is simply pointing out an interesting fact that most of “polite society” currently ignores. IMO that is the essence of what a good intellectual does.

      I do agree with you that there is a difference between holding a belief that technically is a delusion and actually being mentally ill. I think you have a delusion I don’t think you are mentally ill. And I think in reality just about all of us have some beliefs that qualify as delusions in one way or another.

      Besides the God delusion another common delusion in the US is the free market delusion. The idea that there is something almost holy about the free market and that the answer to any social problem is to always make less government regulation and more free market. Even though there is overwhelming evidence that in many areas (healthcare, gun control, education, infrastructure) the free market is not the best or only solution many in the US continue to cling to what are delusional beliefs about it.

      • Hi Red Dog,
        I’ve read most of Dawkins’ books, but it’s been a while since I read the God Delusion. My issue is that the term delusional is a psychological term denoting a mental break from reality or some other mental illness. This term clearly does apply to me or most other believers in the world. Members of this site routinely suggest theists need to be subjected to psychological reconditioning or other forms of coerced psychological treatment. This is the “rational thinking” of Hitler and his ideology of the master race, not of intelligent, unbiased people trying to make the world a better place. I’m certain Hitler believed everyone outside of Germany was delusional.

        As for Dawkins himself, he encouraged his followers to openly ridicule their theist neighbors in a rally here in the US a year or two ago. Where I live, this would be considered harassment, and I could call the police to come and have a talk with that person. If it persisted, I could lodge a formal complaint with the police and pursue a civil lawsuit. Dawkins was not only encouraging his followers to pursue rude and uncivil behavior, but the same behavior used persistently against a believer is against the law.

        These tactics reinforce the atheist stereotype of an angry intellectual who is out of touch with his own emotions and empathy, which leads to brutish behavior towards others. I have several loving and encouraging atheist friends who have supported me as I have battled cancer, and they would certainly reject the basic premises of Dawkins’ book and the manifestations of its philosophy espoused by members here.
        In reply to #30 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

        I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional. I’ve lived 52 years on this planet in peace with my neighbors and spent 28 years teaching students about the wonders of science. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or deny climate change and ev…

        • In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

          Hi Red Dog,
          I’ve read most of Dawkins’ books, but it’s been a while since I read the God Delusion. My issue is that the term delusional is a psychological term denoting a mental break from reality or some other mental illness. This term clearly does apply to me or most other believers in the world…

          I think this is starting to become an argument about semantics. I do not consider you to be “Justifying at length” but rather pointing out that that you do not suffer from the delusions common to the “Young Earth Creationists.” These are delusions if for no other reason that there are mountains of evidence to the contrary, and persistence in these beliefs is delusional or serves, in the case of corporate evangelism, another agenda, typically one that is profit based.

          Is belief in a creative deity delusional, provided the belief does not come with the absurd, ridiculous, and downright dangerous trappings of the “Answers from Genesis” mob? Not really, since I cannot really produce an equivalent mountain of evidence to the contrary. Do I have a large ammount of reason to consider such a thing so wildly unlikely in the extreme as to be tantamount to impossible? Yes, I do, but hard, concrete, evidence, not really, so hardly a full blown diagnosable delusion, by either definition. I honestly doubt that anybody here wants to lock anyone up, not even for delusions. Sometimes, sadly, the freedoms that this implies means that dangerously delusional people, like the murderous mother in another thread, get the opportunity to commit a real crime, for which they should be locked up.

          I have no argument with you, or the exemplary manner in which you appear to have conducted your life, or for that matter even your faith. I take an opposing view with respect to it’s basis, but unlike the evangelists, I make no demand that you think the way I do. My fury is reserved for those who reject reason and fact, which you do not, and fill the minds of impressionable children with terrifying rubbish.

          Finally, having just lost a good friend to cancer, you and your family, have my sympathy.

          • Hi Sheepdog,

            Thanks much for your sympathy. Good wishes are always welcomed.

            There have been several occasions on this site when members have advocated extreme psychological measures be meted out on believers, but I know this does not represent the majority of this site’s membership. Still, it serves no good purpose.

            You pointed out another issue with this site. All Christians tend to be lumped together with the very worst representatives of our faith. Young earthers and hellfire preachers and gay haters are the loudest and get the most attention, but all the evangelicals and Catholics I know simple live their lives in peace and try to raise their families the best they can. We’re not on crusades, and I try my best to follow Jesus’ command to judge no one. We desire to live in peace and expect the same courtesy.

            Enjoy your day!

            In reply to #34 by Sheepdog:

            In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

            Hi Red Dog,
            I’ve read most of Dawkins’ books, but it’s been a while since I read the God Delusion. My issue is that the term delusional is a psychological term denoting a mental break from reality or some other mental illness. This term clearly does apply to me or mos…

        • In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

          My issue is that the term delusional is a psychological term denoting a mental break from reality or some other mental illness. This term clearly does apply to me or most other believers in the world.

          I agree with you (I’ve actually debated people on this site on this topic) that it’s wrong to call people mentally ill just because they are religious. However, I think Dawkins’ use of the word “delusional” was reasonable. It’s an accepted common usage of the term. Also, it was meant to be a provocative title because Dawkins was going to a place that was (at least at the time he wrote the book) somewhat outside the norm of “polite” debate. It seems to me similar to Chomsky calling people in the US delusional for accepting things as obviously true that are not only not true but fairly clearly not true. E.g., that the US has “the greatest healthcare system in the world”.

          Members of this site routinely suggest theists need to be subjected to psychological reconditioning or other forms of coerced psychological treatment. This is the “rational thinking” of Hitler and his ideology of the master race, not of intelligent, unbiased people trying to make the world a better place. I’m certain Hitler believed everyone outside of Germany was delusional.

          I agree although I think an even better analogy is the Soviet Union. First because (even though atheists play sophist like games to deny it) the Soviet Union is one of the few examples of an atheist state and a pretty evil totalitarian state at that. They are a good example that just abolishing religion doesn’t cure all of society’s ills. Second, because it actually was a very standard practice in the Soviet Union to declare people who had politically incorrect ideas to be mentally ill and to use the mental health system as a surrogate prison system — essentially for political crimes. And I think the people who advocate forcing theists to take Thorazine or whatever are essentially advocating the same thing. To be honest it amazes me sometimes that people who follow people like Dawkins and Pinker can turn around and support totalitarian concepts so easily.

          • First because (even though atheists play sophist like games to deny it) the Soviet Union is one of the few examples of an atheist state and a pretty evil totalitarian state at that.

            What were the other examples. If they are all that evil then don’t you feel ashamed to call yourself an atheist?

            In reply to #35 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

            My issue is that the term delusional is a psychological term denoting a mental break from reality or some other mental illness. This term clearly does apply to me or most other believers in the world.

            I agree with you (I’ve actually debated people on this site on this…

          • In reply to #37 by Marktony:

            First because (even though atheists play sophist like games to deny it) the Soviet Union is one of the few examples of an atheist state and a pretty evil totalitarian state at that.

            What were the other examples.

            Cuba, Communist China were two. Then there was the whole Soviet bloc of nations: East Germany, Poland, etc. None of them were models of democracy or places I would want to live.

            If they are all that evil then don’t you feel ashamed to call yourself an atheist?

            No of course it doesn’t make me ashamed to be an atheist because I realize that the reasons that the Soviet Union was such a terrible place had little to do with atheism. I realize that political dynamics are complex and that there is rarely such a simple and direct relation as saying “X is an atheist which was the only reason X did terrible things”

            I just don’t understand why so many atheists can’t do the same thing. So just as atheism didn’t have that much to do with the crimes of the Soviets Christianity wasn’t the only reason for the crimes of the US and Islam is not the only reason for the crimes of Al Queda.

            I agree BTW, that in those last two cases religion was probably more responsible for the US crimes and definitely for the Al Queda crimes but in both cases there were other factors as well. In the case of Al Queda there are plenty of examples of Muslims and Islamic states that are perfectly peaceful. Besides Islam another relevant factor for Al Queda were the countless US crimes against Islamic states and peoples during the cold war. Only someone with a completely ignorant view of history and politics wouldn’t realize that US imperialism played a role in why Al Queda did what they did. If you look at the manifestos of Al Queda they are very clear about why they do what they do and it has nothing to do with schtuping virgins in heaven and everything to do with US troops occupying their lands and killing their friends and relatives.

          • No of course it doesn’t make me ashamed to be an atheist because I realize that the reasons that the Soviet Union was such a terrible place had little to do with atheism.

            That’s why I was so surprised to hear you call it an atheist state.

            In reply to #38 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #37 by Marktony:

            First because (even though atheists play sophist like games to deny it) the Soviet Union is one of the few examples of an atheist state and a pretty evil totalitarian state at that.

            What were the other examples.

            Cuba, Communist China were two. Then there was the whol…

          • In reply to #39 by Marktony:

            No of course it doesn’t make me ashamed to be an atheist because I realize that the reasons that the Soviet Union was such a terrible place had little to do with atheism.

            That’s why I was so surprised to hear you call it an atheist state.

            In reply to #38 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #37 by Marktony:…

            It was an atheist state. I can’t possibly see how anyone can say otherwise. What RedDog said was that whatever “evils” happened there wasn’t because it was an atheist state. It just proves that getting rid of religion isn’t some kind of magical solution that automatically makes society better, or even more reasoned. Herein lies the issue, I think: “Atheist” or “anti-theist” or “anti-religious” doesn’t automatically mean “reasoned individual”. An unreasoned atheist isn’t unreasoned because he’s an atheist, it’s just that being an atheist doesn’t guarantee he’s a man of reason either, neither does it gives them a “free pass” to flaunt their support for “Reason!” like it’s a football club. There can be anti-religious states that are also pretty bad places to live. Isn’t North Korea another example(and don’t start with the “they’re religious too” argument because no, they’re not theists, equivocation and all).

            And it’s time we atheists acknowledge the fact that, yes, anti-religiousness can become just as evil. Lots of religious people and priests were persecuted during the chinese Cultural Revolution as “anti-revolutionary”. which, btw, is a prime example of why it doesn’t always take religion “in order for good people to do bad things”(unless you define “religion” as fanaticism and blind adherence to any dogma, in which case it isn’t about theism and deities at all).

          • There can be anti-religious states that are also pretty bad places to live. Isn’t North Korea another example(and don’t start with the “they’re religious too” argument because no, they’re not theists, equivocation and all).

            North Korea is a totalitarian state with a leadership dependent on a cult of personality and with the post of president eternally assigned to a dead man, but you can call it an atheist state if you like.

            In reply to #40 by JoxerTheMighty:

            In reply to #39 by Marktony:

            No of course it doesn’t make me ashamed to be an atheist because I realize that the reasons that the Soviet Union was such a terrible place had little to do with atheism.

            That’s why I was so surprised to hear you call it an atheist state.

            In reply to #38 by Red Dog:…

          • In reply to #38 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #40 by JoxerTheMighty:

            While I do wonder if you exaggerate how bad some atheists can get, and while I’m not convinced that atheism per se could motivate someone as a religious, political, or moral ideology could – I’d still insist it’s anti-religious thinking that would do that – I’m otherwise increasingly of the opinion that you’re on the right track. It should be made more explicit: not only are most religious people no more harmful than anyone else, but their beliefs – while not exactly well thought-out – aren’t as dangerous as “All religions are harmful/cons/problems” would suggest. It is a bit like a mantra for the home team, at times.

            Too much focus on religions distracts from the fact that the worst of them get their fuel from broader features of human psychology, like a tendency to moralize and demonize, a propensity for self-serving biases and self-serving narratives, and a hunger for status and dominance. It could be argued that a tendency to distort things in one’s favour constitutes the more relevant social problem than the ideologies that such a tendency produces.

            Perhaps it’s time the “atheist movement” was dropped in favour of a “movement” that delved a bit deeper and broadened its horizons a bit, or at least expanded into such a “movement”? Perhaps the separate issues that are the intellectual disagreement (say, the issue between faith and reason) and the ethics-based one (the behaviour of certain groups or individuals towards others in society) should be identified, kept separate, and made more focal? What’s bad for one (say, a belief in pacifism that isn’t well-argued) is not necessarily bad for the other (such a belief encouraging people to be less violent, say).

          • Would you refer to the Soviet Union as an atheist state as others clearly do? I don’t see how the term makes sense for any country. The Soviet Union was a communist state. Like most totalitarian regimes they wanted total control and they were not going to share it with the church. Perhaps if the atheist movement had the influence in the previous Russian Empire instead of the Orthodox church then the communists would have banned atheism, in addition to getting rid of the emperor of course.

            In reply to #41 by Zeuglodon:

            In reply to #38 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #40 by JoxerTheMighty:

            While I do wonder if you exaggerate how bad some atheists can get, and while I’m not convinced that atheism per se could motivate someone as a religious, political, or moral ideology could – I’d still insist it’s anti-religious thinkin…

          • In reply to #42 by Marktony:

            Would you refer to the Soviet Union as an atheist state as others clearly do? I don’t see how the term makes sense for any country. The Soviet Union was a communist state. Like most totalitarian regimes they wanted total control and they were not going to share it with the church. Perhaps if the at…

            There is such a thing as state atheism, and furthermore, communism is not by any means “neutral” when it comes to religion; marxism-leninism is explicitly anti-religious. The rejection of any kind of supernatural faith and hostile attitude against organized religion exists in the works of all the great three of marxism: Marx, Engels and Lenin. There can’t possibly be a state that calls itself marxist-leninist in which atheism would be “banned”.

            http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm#god

            “”””
            Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.
            The philanthropy of atheism is therefore at first only philosophical, abstract philanthropy, and that of communism is at once real and directly bent on action.
            “””””

            Which, as an idea, I agree with: As I mentioned, I consider religion as mostly an outdated concept that holds us back as a species. I just don’t think it ought to be done by persecuting or outcasting those that freely chose religion as “poisonous” individuals; scientific, reasoned thinking in all facets of life that is advantageous (obviously, a sort of “magical thinking” in situations like falling in love, or art, poetry isn’t what we wish, I hope, to do away with) will ideally proggresively overcome superstition naturally.

          • There is such a thing as state atheism, and furthermore, communism is not by any means “neutral” when it comes to religion;

            I didn’t say communism was neutral when it comes to religion. I suggested that communism in the Soviet Union attempted to force atheism onto the people (and unsurprisingly failed by the way) and abolish religion because they didn’t want to share power with the church. They saw the church as as a counter-revolutionary organisation with huge influence in Russian society – not so surprising since the Tzar was head of the Church and gave the Church numerous privileges. Also, the Church supported the White Army against the Bolsheviks in the civil war. If the ‘Atheist Movement’ had had similar privileges and was actively backing the opposition, I think the Marxist-Leninist ideology with regard to religion may have been modified.

            marxism-leninism is explicitly anti-religious. The rejection of any kind of supernatural faith and hostile attitude against organized religion exists in the works of all the great three of marxism: Marx, Engels and Lenin.

            It would be pretty fair to say that Christopher Hitchens was explicitly anti-religious and rejected any kind of supernatural faith and had a hostile attitude against organized religion, but (like most atheists) he didn’t want religion banned. He is on record saying he hoped religion didn’t go extinct because he so much enjoyed the debate.

            There can’t possibly be a state that calls itself marxist-leninist in which atheism would be “banned”.

            Difficult to imagine.

            Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism.

            How do you explain Christian Communism.

            obviously, a sort of “magical thinking” in situations like falling in love, or art, poetry isn’t what we wish, I hope, to do away with.

            Certainly not.

            In reply to #43 by JoxerTheMighty:

            In reply to #42 by Marktony:

            Would you refer to the Soviet Union as an atheist state as others clearly do? I don’t see how the term makes sense for any country. The Soviet Union was a communist state. Like most totalitarian regimes they wanted total control and they were not going to share it with…

          • In reply to #51 by Marktony:

            Also, the Church supported the White Army against the Bolsheviks in the civil war. If the ‘Atheist Movement’ had had similar privileges and was actively backing the opposition, I think the Marxist-Leninist ideology with regard to religion may have been modified.

            That is incorrect. Atheism was an essential aspect of Marxist Lenninism. From the Wikipedia page (I don’t think this is a direct quote from Lenin but it’s sourced)

            “A society organised through a vanguard party on Marxist-Leninist principles seeks to purge anything considered bourgeois, or idealist from it;[7] in addition, it seeks to achieve universal atheism through the abolition of religious institutions and the deterioration of religion through the advancement of science.”

            That last sentence would make Lenin fit right in here.

            I agree with you that Lenin and even more so Trotsky who IMO was more of a pragmatist could easily have made alliances with the church if it would have met their goals. That was one of the defining features of the Bolsheviks as opposed to some of the other strains of Marxism, the Bolsheviks were up to a point pragmatic and would make alliances even with those they saw as the enemy if they thought it was justified. That was how they got into power, they made alliances with the liberal democrats and then when they had the chance they screwed them, although, and it’s been a while I may be remembering this wrongly but I think the “screwing” almost came more from the rank and file bolsheviks who just started seizing power in factories and cities and the leadership went along when they saw they could win.

            Of course Stalin was just a power mad sociopath and he did make deals with the church when he needed them. BTW, that is one of the problems with ideologies such as Marxism, you start with principled (albeit ruthless) idealists like Lenin and Trotsky and you soon end up with people who just want power like Stalin.

            How do you explain Christian Communism.

            Aka Liberation Theology. That requires a long answer and at best it would be speculation anyway but the short answer is I explain it the same way I explain why people like me, someone who has been an atheist since childhood, have worked very closely with Christians from the Liberation Theology movement: for some people the goal of increasing justice and peace in the world is more important than the underlying ideology.

            It’s more complicated than that of course, the Liberation theology people somehow don’t see a contradiction between marxism and Christianity and to be honest I’ve never really understood how they manage that cognitive dissonance.

          • In reply to #52 by Red Dog:

            In the world of the idealistic communist ( one at uni perhaps), religion is a big part of the problem and the church is always hand in glove with those who wield power. The sad reality of that there are those out there who are just in it for their own personal gain takes a while to seep in. We find this with politicians all the time. We think they have a genuine commitment to the cause, only to find them taking advantage of the perks of office.

          • That is incorrect. Atheism was an essential aspect of Marxist Lenninism.

            I didn’t say it wasn’t. I was speculating that the ideology may well have been different had the role of religion in society been different. More towards the Christian Communism variant perhaps.

            In reply to #52 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #51 by Marktony:

            Also, the Church supported the White Army against the Bolsheviks in the civil war. If the ‘Atheist Movement’ had had similar privileges and was actively backing the opposition, I think the Marxist-Leninist ideology with regard to religion may have been modified.

            That…

          • In reply to #41 by Zeuglodon:

            While I do wonder if you exaggerate how bad some atheists can get,

            I’m not saying all atheists have the flaws I was ranting about earlier. In my experience most of them don’t actually. In fact to the best of my knowledge I’ve never actually met an atheist I would describe as a Dawkiban in the real world. I’ve only communicated with them online, mostly at this site and on a few others. I think a big part of it is just the Internet tends to attract people who tend to be rude and to make many people be ruder than they would be in real life. I know it was true for me as well, even when I first started commenting here I could be a real dick and even now I constantly have to edit myself to take out things I think are clever but when I re-read them are just me being a jerk.

            and while I’m not convinced that atheism per se could motivate someone as a religious, political, or moral ideology could – I’d still insist it’s anti-religious thinking that would do that – I’m otherwise increasingly of the opinion that you’re on the right track.

            Thanks. As usual, I think we mostly agree. I should be clear there is no question in my mind that the average atheist is far more polite and rational than the average theist. By a lot. I just think it’s a disturbing trend that that gap seems to be narrowing and I think it’s a trend we should be a bit concerned with. Both for ethical reasons and tactical reasons. It’s bad enough that being rude all the time isn’t consistent with a devotion to reason but even putting that aside I think it’s just bad tactics, it encourages the rest of the world, the people who are on the fence, to see atheism as just the flip side of fundamentalist religion.

            Regarding movements, first I tend not to think all that much about abstract questions “should the movement do this or that” (OK I just was doing that but…) There are already so many groups and movements out there and I never spend nearly as much time contributing to them as I should. To me the most important thing is that all of us commit to doing more than just talking on the Internet, to get involved and it’s more important to be involved than which specific cause, there are so many good ones that need help.

            But to the extent I think about movements I think if atheism is to play a meaningful role we need to move beyond just being against theism. Dawkins spends almost all of his time on issues specific to atheism and very little on issues that are still related to it but that also reach a broader community. The rights of women in the US for example are just getting trampled in the “red states”. Abortion is being made almost impossible in many states and almost completely for religious reasons. I think Dawkins should be more involved with those kinds of issues.

            Also, I think the left in America could really benefit from an infusion of reason and critical thinking. As I look back on the left in the US over the last few decades the contempt for reason and science is appalling. And it wasn’t always like that. Chomsky has a talk where he gives some historic background on the many radical newspapers and publications that were in place around the 1900′s or so. Things published by working people and with very sophisticated analysis of scientific and political issues. When I look at the left in the US now its just pathetic. So much Marxist bullshit from Academics who in reality know little about actual working people. As well as anti-science nonsense about GMOs, Vaccines, etc.

            One of the things I thought was so cool about Pinker’s last book was to me it was an affirmation of a lot of basic left wing ideas but with actual science behind it not pseudoscience and PC jargon. I think we need more of that in the US left and I think that is a role people like Dawkins and his followers could play.

        • In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

          As for Dawkins himself, he encouraged his followers to openly ridicule their theist neighbors in a rally here in the US a year or two ago. Where I live, this would be considered harassment, and I could call the police to come and have a talk with that person. If it persisted, I could lodge a formal complaint with the police and pursue a civil lawsuit. Dawkins was not only encouraging his followers to pursue rude and uncivil behavior, but the same behavior used persistently against a believer is against the law.

          I’ve never heard Dawkins encourage people to be actively rude much less illegal. Do you have a news story or a quote that describes the situation you reference because I follow Dawkins pretty closely and I don’t recall anything like that.

          However, I’ve changed my mind about Dawkins a bit in the last two years. When I first read The God Delusion it was one of those books where I said “Right On!”, “Yes!”, etc. more or less as I read every page. It was so rare to have someone not just say that atheists should be “tolerated” but that we were right and we should be less shy about saying so. I still agree with that.

          But I think his tactics are not all that great. Note this is only about the tactics and as much about the followers. I seldom disagree with anything he says of substance, it’s more about what I perceive as the lack of any serious thought to political strategy and tactics. It almost seems, and this applies more to his followers but even somewhat to Richard lately, that we are adopting some of the worst behaviors of the very people we are trying to fight. (Actually Nietzsche has a great quote about that) As if we are saying “well they are rude and intolerant so we should be rude right back”. That is wrong for so many reasons. First because it assume that all theists are fundamentalists which is totally wrong. Most theists are polite and don’t hold it against you if you are an atheist at least in my experience. Second because it’s just bad tactics. I know many people where I live who are sort of on the fence about atheism. They describe themselves with words like “spiritual not religious”. Those people are almost all very much turned off by the perceived militance of the new atheist movement. Even my daughter who is actually more of a militant atheist than I am has no use for this site or for the new atheist movement for that reason.

          • Hey RedDog,

            Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I think the title “militant” atheist is a big problem. Imagine if Christians started a militant Christian movement designed to abolish atheism. I don’t think that would go over well. So many of us Christians just want peace among those of us who differ in beliefs. Our family has two great atheist friends (a retired, gay couple from Washington) that we met in the Adirondacks. They and I are early risers, which is how we came to know each other. We chatting the lodge waiting for breakfast. They knew I was Christian and were wary at first, but we had so much in common, and they simply loved our boys that we continued to see them over the years. This spring we will visit them in DC. We rarely talk about faith or unbelief, and we have a deep respect and love for each other that transcends our differences. This is the picture I would like to see be painted between believers and atheists.

            I’m sorry, but I have no references about Dawkins speech. I believe the rally was in DC a year or two ago, and it caused quite a stir among Christians. I’m certain you could google it. Dawkins did not encourage anyone to do anything illegal, but I was making the point that if an atheist consistently harassed me about my faith, the police could get involved, and it would become a legal matter.

            Great talking with you! Enjoy a great day and I hope we catch up with each other on a future thread!

            Nordic
            In reply to #36 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #33 by Nordic11:

            As for Dawkins himself, he encouraged his followers to openly ridicule their theist neighbors in a rally here in the US a year or two ago. Where I live, this would be considered harassment, and I could call the police to come and have a talk with that person. If it pers…

          • In reply to #47 by Nordic11:

            I’m sorry, but I have no references about Dawkins speech. I believe the rally was in DC a year or two ago, and it caused quite a stir among Christians. I’m certain you could google it. Dawkins did not encourage anyone to do anything illegal, but I was making the point that if an atheist consistently harassed me about my faith, the police could get involved, and it would become a legal matter.

            I think I know which speech you meant. Is it this one: Richard Dawkins – Reason Rally 2012?

          • Hey Zeuglodon,

            That’s the one. Thanks for finding it. Starting at minute 15:00, Dawkins encourages his followers to “mock her, ridicule her” “Ridicule her with contempt.”

            I think there also need to be a distinction between faith and religion. Religion is an organized, orthodox set of beliefs based upon a particular faith. The RCC is an example. Our evangelical faith is more based on independent churches although our dogma can also sound much like religion.

            People of faith often disagree with the dogmas of religion. I For example, I know many RCs that believe in the use of contraceptives and do not believe in transubstantiation (which is not in the Bible by the way).

            Thanks again and enjoy your day!

            In reply to #50 by Zeuglodon:

            In reply to #47 by Nordic11:

            I’m sorry, but I have no references about Dawkins speech. I believe the rally was in DC a year or two ago, and it caused quite a stir among Christians. I’m certain you could google it. Dawkins did not encourage anyone to do anything illegal, but I was making the point t…

          • In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            At the Reason Rally in 2012, in his speech to attendees, Dawkins, among other things, said that they should mock and ridicule such religious beliefs as transubstantiation and those who affirm their belief in it. Perfectly justified, don’t you think?

          • In reply to #57 by aldous:

            In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            At the Reason Rally in 2012, in his speech to attendees, Dawkins, among other things, said that they should mock and ridicule such religious beliefs as transubstantiation and those who affirm their belief in it. Perfectly justified, don’t you think?

            I tend not to share this opinion. Mocking and ridiculing seem to me like childish behavior. What’s more, in religous texts this treatment is what is expected from the non believer or the believer of some unaccepted religion. I wonder what positive affect it would have..

          • In reply to #58 by YesUCan:

            Mocking and ridiculing seem to me like childish behavior.

            Catholics talking infantile nonsense about their magic rituals doesn’t offend you in the least, I suppose. The point is that there is really no rational response to supernatural balderdash and, if you find it hard to suffer the insult to the intelligence, it’s only fair that you should be able to enjoy a good laugh. Let me emphasize that the ordinary social sensitivities should come into play. There are many circumstances where it would be inappropriate to express your honest opinion of other people’s ideology. In fact, it’s only on few occasions that such discussions would arise.

          • When do Catholics or other people of faith talk to you about their faith? We have a dozen catholic friends, and the topics never come up.

            In reply to #61 by aldous:

            In reply to #58 by YesUCan:

            Mocking and ridiculing seem to me like childish behavior.

            Catholics talking infantile nonsense about their magic rituals doesn’t offend you in the least, I suppose. The point is that there is really no rational response to supernatural balderdash and, if you find it ha…

          • In reply to #65 by Nordic11:

            When do Catholics or other people of faith talk to you about their faith? We have a dozen catholic friends, and the topics never come up.

            It all depends on the people (obvious I guess). I’ve had many great discussions with people of faith and people on the fence. A long time ago my girl friend was a born again Christian with a Masters degree in Divinity Studies from one of the best universities for studying that kinds of stuff. We used to have great debates all the time about philosophy, religion, etc. Where I live (San Francisco bay area) there are lots of open minded people with all sorts of diverse views on atheism, religion, etc.

          • In reply to #61 by aldous:

            Catholics talking infantile nonsense about their magic rituals doesn’t offend you in the least, I suppose.

            Catholics are attempting some philosophical discussions over on Strange Notions, a site created for the constructive discourse between Roman Catholics and Atheists in an endeavour to understand and discuss each others arguments. The site was populated with some very sharp Atheists, many from here. Unfortunately the experiment is floundering badly because the site webmaster calls “rude, ridicule and snark” when an Atheist gets the upper hand in a debate, which as you can imagine, is every OP. The upshot is, the Atheist gets chastised, comments get memoryholed, and the member ends up being banned or leaving. Subsequently, the rationalist members protest by walking.

            The problem in discourse with theists, is the demand for undeserved respect. They conflate the person with the faith and it’s ridiculous beliefs. That’s the meaning of ridiculous to those that wish to know,..”deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd”. I’m almost sure in thinking that the Christians that come here, to engage in debate or preach, have no problems in thinking that the whole edifice that is Scientology or Mormonism or The Creativity Movement or The Nation of Yahweh or Cosmic People of Light Powers or The Prince Philip Cargo Cult Movement of the Yaohnanen tribe or Nuwaubianism or, or, or,…well ya get the idea, are ridiculous, that is, absurd.

            So what is different about any of those on that list and what Nordic11 believes?

            Nordic11 seems to be an all round good egg, even if we have locked horns over the years, that is not in question. As a teacher of science that holds the beliefs he does, I can only posit compartmentalisation at work.

            The thing is, if I was to meet Nordic11, or a Yaohnanen cargo cultist for that matter, out in the big bad world, we would all get along like a house on fire. It’s when Yaohnanen insists that Prince Phillip is god, or when Nordic11 makes some asinine assertion or other, then it will be called out by me…and many others that used to frequent these pages. I’m reminded of what susanlatimar said in reply to Nordic11 when he was tone trolling…

            “If someone repeatedly fails to make a clear argument, to support that argument and to provide evidence for it and hits reset every time they get cornered on it, eventually all that remains is ridicule and mockery. Of the ideas the person holds, of the methods the person uses, not of the person. Some people feel they are being personally ridiculed when they spout nonsense and are called on it. That’s a problem they create for themselves.”

            It should always be remembered that the theists come here. There are certain things that will always offend the theists. Rubbishing central beliefs is one. Take as an example the epithet, “Jesus of Nazareth”. It is one of the things claimed about Jesus than can be empirically proven false. Nazareth didn’t exit when the holy family is alleged to have lived there. Luke’s city (polis) located on a hillside in Galilee never was. That rubs believers up the wrong way. “Jesus of Some-place-unknown” is mockery.

            At Strange Notions the top poster, a Catholic, was offended by Susan’s use of the name Yahweh, for no rational reason. His inference of Susan’s ridiculing of his beliefs by referring to god as Yahweh was through his own ignorance.

            The point is that there is really no rational response to supernatural balderdash and, if you find it hard to suffer the insult to the intelligence, it’s only fair that you should be able to enjoy a good laugh.

            Thicker skins all round I would suggest. We don’t hold back on such things as homoeopathy, ear candles, UFO abduction, or lots of other nonsense. Why should religion get a by ball?

            This place is not about attacking people per se, it’s about attacking their arguments, that’s when one is presented. If Nordic11 believes that an attack on his beliefs is an attack on his person, then perhaps this is not the right place for him to espouse those beliefs.

            Yes, I intended the use of the word “attack” for those that think it’s a tad militant, in this context…“Criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly”

            Thank you RD.net members! – Comments

            Let me emphasize that the ordinary social sensitivities should come into play. There are many circumstances where it would be inappropriate to express your honest opinion of other people’s ideology.

            Not here though.

            In fact, it’s only on few occasions that such discussions would arise.

            On a website where Atheists pitch up to discuss topics of interest, including religious beliefs, theit origins, background and history, and the reasons why some have those beliefs. When a believer that comes to challenge, or be challenged by, the rationalist views on such issues…things begin to get bent out of shape.

          • In reply to #70 by Ignorant Amos:

            Catholics are attempting some philosophical discussions over on Strange Notions, a site created for the constructive discourse between Roman Catholics and Atheists.

            I had a look at Strange Notions and see that it’s an evangelizing site set up to convert atheists (or anyone one else passing by). It’s operated by Brandon Vogt , a protégé of the well-known (in the United States) Catholic televangelist, Father Barron. The idea is that the power of rational argument, heavily reliant on medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas, will convince sceptics of the truth of Catholicism.

          • In reply to #71 by aldous:

            I had a look at Strange Notions and see that it’s an evangelizing site set up to convert atheists (or anyone one else passing by).

            It wasn’t advertised as such at its inception , but I think you are right, that was the underlying purpose. I think the idiot that set the “experiment” up was not giving any likely converts the credence for being smarter then himself and he has blown up at least twice.

            It’s operated by Brandon Vogt , a protégé of the well-known (in the United States) Catholic televangelist, Father Barron. The idea is that the power of rational argument, heavily reliant on medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas, will convince sceptics of the truth of Catholicism.

            I wasn’t aware of that. He really is reliant on Aquinas and gets bent out of shape when his “idol” gets thoroughly castigated. Vogt has posted a number of articles by his mentor, Fr. Barron, he gets bent out of shape when he doesn’t like the things said in the combox on those threads also.

            Unfortunately, the power of rational argument is coming from the other side, so he uses the T & C’s as a baseball bat, invents snark, disrespect, ridicule, mockery and so forth, when there really isn’t any, then he hits the phantom offender out of the park. To-date only one amongst his number has been hit for a home run. A kook Catholic that was a complete embarrassment to Vogt’s cause. A geocentric who called Pope Francis a heretic.

            FYI, a mirror blog has been set up as a rendezvous point for those that fell foul of the strict religiously biased moderation…and those that left SN in protest…and those that are interested in what those lot have to say. Rick DeLano, the ostracised fundie Catholic is even there, you will be seeing more of that name. He has hooked up with that other geocentric nutter Sungenis to misrepresent “experts” they interviewed for a piece of crap they put together. Similar to how RD et al got hoodwinked for “Expelled”.

            Anyway, here’s the link if you are interested in having a peek.

            “Outshine The Sun”

            Estranged Notions

            “In Jan 2014 the Catholic blog/debate site “Strange Notions”, which had expressly invited debate from atheists, banned many of its most prominent atheist commenters (including Andrew G., the owner of this blog) and deleted over a thousand of their comments. They also deleted all discussion of the incident.”

            “For now, the posts labelled “Estranged Notions” are being offered as an alternative venue for discussion.”

          • Hi aldous,

            I completely disagree. We identify with our beliefs. They are part of us whether they be religious, political, environmental etc. in nature. To mock and ridicule my beliefs is to mock and ridicule me. I’m happy to discuss and argue, but if you start denigrating me, the discussion is over. Dawkins even said to ridicule “with contempt.” No respect, no meeting of the minds, no middle ground, no agreeing to disagree, no civilized discourse. I don’t think atheist want to pursue this course of action.

            And I got to tell you, that many Christians are not innocent of this either. Atheists are routinely mocked for their “ridiculous” beliefs. I stand against the same sins in my own camp.

            Thanks for your input and even enjoy your day!

            In reply to #57 by aldous:

            In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            At the Reason Rally in 2012, in his speech to attendees, Dawkins, among other things, said that they should mock and ridicule such religious beliefs as transubstantiation and those who affirm their belief in it. Perfectly justified, don’t you think?

          • In reply to #62 by Nordic11:

            To mock and ridicule my beliefs is to mock and ridicule me

            What, for example? In the 21st century context, the supernatural is hilarious. What are the supposed events that you identify with? The Virgin birth, the resurrection, raising of the dead, the creation of the world by an intelligent being, billions of years before the emergence of intelligence? What about Bumba of the Boshongo who vomited up the world? Or Hanuman, the monkey god, who built a bridge, allegedly, between India and Sri Lanka.

            Obviously, as I said, normal social sensitivities are to be respected. Such issues simply don’t arise for most of us in everyday life to any great extent. However, in conversation between consenting adults or in public forums (such as this one), it’s important to respect freedom of speech.

          • In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            Hey Zeuglodon,

            That’s the one. Thanks for finding it. Starting at minute 15:00, Dawkins encourages his followers to “mock her, ridicule her” “Ridicule her with contempt.”

            I think there also need to be a distinction between faith and religion. Religion is an organized, orthodox set of beliefs b…

            Thanks to Zeuglodon for posting the link. I wanted to listen to the whole speech to get the context rather than just listen to the very end. So I agree with you Nordic11 on the small stylistic point, at the very end Dawkins adds “with contempt” which I wouldn’t have said and which I think undermines his case.

            But I absolutely agree with what he was saying and I think it’s a very minor critique that he added two words which IMO were a bit over the top. I think he was making a very important point actually. In the US there is among many people — both religious and atheists — a feeling that religious or philosophical beliefs don’t really matter and aren’t appropriate for “polite discussion”. That is what Dawkins was arguing against and I agree with him absolutely. I think that religious and philosophical questions are some of the most important issues we have and we need to encourage people to have more honest discussions about them, rather than to take the sort of cultural relativistic liberal approach of just assuming everyone has an opinion and all are equally valid. Everyone may have an opinion but they aren’t all equally valid and it’s important that we start applying the same rigor to analysis of questions on morality and ethics (which overlap greatly with religion — which is part of the problem that Dawkins and I both see).

            Also, if you look at the incredible amount of bile that is spewed Richard’s way on a daily basis, via hate mail, youtube comments, and from people in the media such as BillO the clown, I still hold to my original position: that Dawkins shows great restraint and civility in the face of such irrational hatred. And just using two slightly provocative words doesn’t change the overall balance in any significant way.

            That talk was a rally, he was trying to fire people up and get them excited and clapping and cheering. It’s inevitable that people in such situations will be a bit looser with their language and a bit less polite than when debating someone face to face or writing an Op Ed or essay.

          • Also, if you look at the incredible amount of bile that is spewed Richard’s way on a daily basis, via hate mail, youtube comments, and from people in the media such as BillO the clown, I still hold to my original position: that Dawkins shows great restraint and civility in the face of such irrational hatred.

            That reminds me of this video of RD reading his hate mail.
            Looking forward to the next installment.

            In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            Hey Zeuglodon,

            That’s the one. Thanks for finding it. Starting at minute 15:00, Dawkins encourages his followers to “mock her, ridicule her” “Ridicule her with contempt.”

            I think there also need to be a distinction between faith and religion. Religion is an organi…

          • I agree, Red Dog. Richard is often gracious to believers, and I do not want to judge him based on just this event (I actually don’t want to judge him at all). I find the typical Christian response to him (and other prominent atheists) repugnant, and not at all in line with what our Scriptures teach about loving EVERYONE, praying for everyone, and judging no one.

            The irony is that several years ago I just felt compelled to pray for Richard (I’m not certain why), and he has been in my morning prayers everyday since. That habit of praying for him actually led me to this website, and I have several members here who I’ve come to know over the years that I pray for regularly. When I pray for a person to experience blessings in his life and enjoy goodness throughout his days it certainly changes my perspective about who that person is. I wish more Christians would do the same.

            Also, I don’t know what is is like elsewhere, but in the northeastern US, religion and politics are not generally discussed during “polite” conversation to avoid tension. It’s not so much that they are off limits, but people generally do not want to spark an argument during a social situation.

            Enjoy a great night!

            In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            Hey Zeuglodon,

            That’s the one. Thanks for finding it. Starting at minute 15:00, Dawkins encourages his followers to “mock her, ridicule her” “Ridicule her with contempt.”

            I think there also need to be a distinction between faith and religion. Religion is an organi…

          • In reply to #64 by Nordic11:

            I agree, Red Dog. Richard is often gracious to believers, and I do not want to judge him based on just this event (I actually don’t want to judge him at all). I find the typical Christian response to him (and other prominent atheists) repugnant, and not at all in line with what our Scriptures teac…

            Cool. People are always telling me they will pray for my mom (she isn’t well and it is also effecting her mentally) and I always thank them and I mean it.

            Also, I don’t know what is is like elsewhere, but in the northeastern US, religion and politics are not generally discussed during “polite” conversation to avoid tension. It’s not so much that they are off limits, but people generally do not want to spark an argument during a social situation.

            I think it’s like that most places but I really don’t agree. To me those kinds of discussions are the really interesting ones to have. I get so F*ing bored by people who talk about their latest car or how much they sold their house for or sports. Of course it may be why I’m not invited to many social events!

          • In reply to #68 by Red Dog:

            People are always telling me they will pray for my mom (she isn’t well and it is also effecting her mentally) and I always thank them and I mean it.

            Your mother is ill and wishing her well is welcome. Richard Dawkins isn’t ill and asking God to get to work on him isn’t entirely benign.

          • In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #56 by Nordic11:

            Thanks to Zeuglodon for posting the link. I wanted to listen to the whole speech to get the context rather than just listen to the very end. So I agree with you Nordic11 on the small stylistic point, at the very end Dawkins adds “with contempt” which I wouldn’t have said and which I think undermines his case.

            He also, I now see, prefaced the comment with “If necessary”. I don’t understand this. It seems a mitigation in some sense, don’t say these things unless necessary? What could such mitigation be?

          • In reply to #112 by phil rimmer:

            So I agree with you Nordic11 on the small stylistic point, at the very end Dawkins adds “with contempt…

            Contempt where contempt is due. This superstitious horror at being disrespectful of religion and the religious should be abandoned. When representatives of religion make ridiculous statements in public, it’s perfectly reasonable to question them and, if they hide behind the Great Wall of Faith, to express disbelief and derision. By ‘representatives of religion’, I mean any defenders of the faith, official or unofficial. The right to free speech is not a right to deference.

            So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!
            Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits.
            Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.
            Part of transcript of Richard Dawkins’s Speech at the Reason Rally, held Saturday, March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

          • In reply to #47 by Nordic11:

            Hey RedDog,

            Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I think the title “militant” atheist is a big problem. Imagine if Christians started a militant Christian movement designed to abolish atheism. I don’t think that would go over well. So many of us Christians just want peace among those of us who d…

            The irony of your statement is that sociological shits support the limitation of free speech.
            Free speech and belief(unless belief is violently dangerous) is the backbone of civilised society!

    • In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

      I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional. I’ve lived 52 years on this planet in peace with my neighbors and spent 28 years teaching students about the wonders of science. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or deny climate change and evolution.

      Red Dog in his response at # 30 put it very well ( as usual) . I would add that no one reasonable would challenge believers on faith (i.e. without evidence) to justify ( as Nordic 11 feels obliged to do at length ) that they are good and ethical citizens who are mentally un-deranged. Obviously, a large number of them are. However 1. Under many religions or systems of belief based on “revelations” , rather than evidence, they ( and those influenced by them: e.g. children ) are in danger of also accepting all manner of superstitions, with possibly disastrous effect on their well being and that of others. and 2. No particular belief without evidence (e.g. Christ bodily ascension to “heaven” , Mohamed riding a winged horse, Shiva having six arms, there is a “chosen people”, etc…) should be particularly “sacred” or privileged as compared to others of a secular nature ( Santa, Friday 13 brings back luck. etc..)

    • In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

      I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional.

      On this particular subject. That’s all. It’s very simple. We are human and very likely to fool ourselves and/or be fooled by others on any number of subjects. That’s why it’s important to discuss deeply held beliefs where appropriate in a reasonable manner.

      What right do you have, Malcom and others, to decree that I be institutionalized?

      I can’t find that link right now. It’s been a while since I’ve participated here and I am a bit rusty navigating so I will leave Malcolm and others out of it as I can’t find the source. (Sorry. Fifteen hour day. I’m sure the source is there but I’m too tired to reacquaint myself with site navigation. It might be on the page before this but I’m afraid I might have to start my typing all over again if I try it. It’s probably not the case. I’ll get better acquainted tomorrow. Right now, I’m very tired. :-) )

      I will say this. There are people who suggest that being deluded about a subject should get you institutionalized. There are atheists who say that about the religious, for instance. The people who say that are overreaching (depending on the subject and the extent and the consequencest of the delusion). It’s a bit much. Otherwise, we would be institutionalizing smokers, people who play the lottery, people who believe in ghosts, people who read their horoscopes every morning and take them to heart even slightly, people who can’t leave the room because their team is down one run in the seventh, there are runners on the corners and their favourite player is up to bat, people who feel they MUST leave the room under the same circumstances…. the list goes on. We are all prone to delusion.

      The problem arises when someone insists that their perfectly normal delusions are actually true. (I’m one of those who MUST leave the room in the seventh inning even though it makes no sense but I know it makes no sense. I find it absurd that I act on these things even though they make no sense. But I’m human. We all are. )

      So, yes. You’re delusional. You believe something without evidence and despite the evidence against it. We all are. We all do. That’s what we have to watch out for. It’s important.

      I would not submit my runners-on-the-corners-in-the-seventh scenario here as “truth” at rd.net and expect my opinion to be respected. If I brought it up at all, it would be so we could all have a good laugh about it.

  15. Even my daughter who is actually more of a militant atheist than I am has no use for this site or for the new atheist >>movement for that reason.

    One example of the things that irritate me the most about this site is this:

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/1/21/the-bone-that-started-a-tech-revolution

    And the thing is, I’m perfectly sure that, if Prof. Dawkins were to comment there, he would be so delighted in the science that he wouldn’t even think of commenting on anything else. But obviously this is not true of all posters, thanks to whom I now know who Ken Ham is. I mean, for goodness sake, if you are, like me, just a layman and not have anything substantial to contribute, just read the article and maybe refrain from posting, allowing the posters here that do have scientific background to add something that actually has to do with the topic, and from which we can all learn, and ask questions about. But no, from the get go, it’s just another opportunity to go “take that, random creationist idiot person!”.

    Now, such types of posters have the option here to get defensive and tell me to eff off, or maybe they can think about how ridiculous and unproductive it is to litter such topics with random theist-bashing. I too have no use of this site if the comment sections becomes like the ones in YouTube videos.

  16. We rarely talk about faith or unbelief, and we have a deep respect and love for each other that transcends our >>differences. This is the picture I would like to see be painted between believers and atheists.

    You know though, there is a line between “random theist bashing” when it comes to interpersonal relationships, and taking a stance on matters where religion does cause significant harm. Because right now,the reality is religious leaders do have very real, and very, very earthly power and authority over people and societies. I’m going to go with an easy example here, which is the Catholic’s Church stance on condoms and contraception in general. This causes actual harm to many people that take those teachings to heart, and there’s no way around that. The new Pope, with all his niceties, hasn’t actually came out to say “you know what, we were totally wrong about this, please use contraception and protection in order to save your lives”. There’s no other way to put this than saying it’s a constant crime. I simply do not care if, due to traditions and customs and whatnot changes in the church are “slow”, when people are given, by their spiritual leaders, completely bogus advice in important health matters.

    This is where holding hands together and singing koombaya stops. Doesn’t mean I’m gonna go harass any catholic I find in my way about it, or treat them with disrespect, or consider them guilty by association, but this is a real issue that must be dealt with. I suspect frustration about such matters is what fuels the anger in some atheists that cause them to go in such disturbing extremes as suggesting religious persons should be considered mentally deranged – but the anger here is justified, just not the conclusions some people reach.

    • In reply to #48 by JoxerTheMighty:

      We rarely talk about faith or unbelief, and we have a deep respect and love for each other that transcends our >>differences. This is the picture I would like to see be painted between believers and atheists.

      You know though, there is a line between “random theist bashing” when it comes to interper…

      I think there are two different questions here.

      1) Is it understandable and justifiable for atheists to be angry?

      2) Is anger and the things that go with it (rudeness, irrationality, pettyness, violence) something atheists should encourage in each other and in the movement?

      I think the answer to 1 is clearly yes. I think the answer to 2 is pretty much no. Anger is just not a very productive emotion. At times it can energize people but often in ways that end up hurting more than helping. As I’ve said most — actually all — the people that I know in person who are “on the fence” over atheism are turned off by what they perceive as the militancy of the New Atheist movement.

      I think there is an analogy in left wing politics actually. If you take part in any organizing meetings before a demonstration where police involvement is a possibility the leader of the group will always talk about the dangers of hothead and provacateurs. It sounds like conspiracy theory but there are many, many documented cases of undercover authorities infiltrating groups and inciting violence. They do this because they know that violence for people on the left is counter productive. Someone throws a rock and the police respond with billy clubs and mace and eventually troops and tanks. And the movement is damaged because the press reports it as crazy people and ignores any actual message that was attempted to be communicated by the protest.

      I saw this myself at the last protest I went to in San Francisco. There were a few “black block” guys (they are always guys) who thought they were Che Gueverra and were trying to encourage people to trash buildings and cars. The group as a mass worked to counter them, to stop them from doing violence and to encourage others not to join them.

      So getting back to atheism one of the ways the Theists try to slander atheists is by portraying us as all hotheads and militants. I don’t think we are like that at all but I think it’s good to remember that if the other side wants to portray you that way it’s probably not in your political interest to go along with it.

    • Hey Joxer,

      I agree that religious institutions can be either forces for good or for ill. To be fair, most RCs believe in using contraceptives, but it is perfectly fair to call the RCC on the carpet about issues affecting human health around the world (especially those NOT found in the Bible), but I believe you want to argue persuasively, not mock or ridicule.

      Just a thought!

      Cheers!

      In reply to #48 by JoxerTheMighty:

      We rarely talk about faith or unbelief, and we have a deep respect and love for each other that transcends our >>differences. This is the picture I would like to see be painted between believers and atheists.

      You know though, there is a line between “random theist bashing” when it comes to interper…

  17. < Anyone who seriously and truthfully says that they believe any of the founding stories for the Abrahamic religions is suffering from a psychosis. >

    I think that there was a man named Paul who travelled around advocating religion and wrote quite a few letters to various Christian groups around the ancient world. I also think that you have not the foggiest notion what a psychosis is if you think I am psychotic. Calling people names that sound rude to you is not sensible. Just because I am an atheist does not mean that I am blinkered.

  18. It wasn’t advertised as such at its inception , but I think you are right, that was the underlying purpose. I think the idiot that set the “experiment” up was not giving any likely converts the credence for being smarter then himself and he has blown up at least twice.

    It certainly was the underlying purpose. I was grateful for some of the catlick participants who were trying to honour the mission statement but “the idiot” has parlayed a lot of other people’s hard and honest work into status for himself. The atheists who were summarily banned and whose full months of comments were deleted without explanation have contributed to the site founder’s career. There are HUGE perks involved in lying for Jesus.

    Vogt has posted a number of articles by his mentor, Fr. Barron, he gets bent out of shape when he doesn’t like the things said in the combox on those threads also.

    Yes. He doesn’t like to be challenged. Even though he created a site for which he gets credit that is ostensibly about “Reasoning Together”.

    He really is reliant on Aquinas and gets bent out of shape when his “idol” gets thoroughly castigated.

    He’s given no indication that he has read Summa Theologicae completely (I certainly haven’t) but it seems to be the catlick answer to everything, that there’s a great big book that explains it all if you just read it from cover to cover. I certainly haven’t either. I have made efforts at chapters and thought to myself (Pardon my Southern Ontario Engish) “What the fuck century are we in? :-)

    Unfortunately, the power of rational argument is coming from the other side, so he uses the T & C’s as a baseball bat, invents snark, disrespect, ridicule, mockery and so forth, when there really isn’t any, then he hits the phantom offender out of the park.

    Just to clear things up, on the first purge, he invented that. He claimed that he gave many previous warnings until he was forced to ban people. Commenters we know and love like epeeist and ZenDruid say they were never given banning warnings. I have no reason to believe that either of these guys (or others less familiar, here who said the same) were warned either. They were just banned. Many other great commenters left in disgust.

    It was crickets for a week or so. Just weird conversations from from inside the compound from catlicks who didn’t question their fundamental assumptions with a scattered response from the few remaining atheists who were mostly ignored.

    Gradually, a new wave of atheists showed up who took the mission statement at face value. They made every effort to “reason together” (the site’s mission statement).

    In the second purge, he banned 10 commenters without warning and deleted a month (snarky and non-snarky, often EXTREMELY patient and more than respectful exchanges,) of their well-thought out comments without explanation. Any reference to it from participants on that site, catlick, deists, atheist or any combination of the above :-) were also deleted. Now, he is editing posts without including explanations for the edits (as is done here, “edited for preaching” e.g;) .

    To-date only one amongst his number has been hit for a home run.

    That’s not true. Two or three were hit out of the ballpark by Brandon in the first purge. The others were as uncomfortable and as dispensible for his purposes as the one you’re talking about. He didn’t ban for “snark”. He banned on the basis of strengthening his position. In this new wave of bannings combined with the deletion of all commentary, he seems to have banned exactly one catlick but that appears to have been done to create the impression of “balance”. There was no particular reason to ban that guy. He was no more or less offensive than many of the catlicks there by all objective standards. But he wasn’t part of Brandon’s group so a good strategic choice.

    I hate to go off-topic but Richard’s had an effect on the wolrd in the sense that he’s not only called many people to refer to reason and evidence in their efforts to find out what’s “true” but that he’s given them questions to ask and resources to check and in every way he can and has attracted an army of experts through his web site who are happy to respectfully educate the rest of us.

    He cares about what’s true and has invested a lot in supporting us getting closer to that. Liars for Jesus (or Liars for Anything) should be called out when they pretend (or believe) that they care about what’s true. Not “Truth” with a capital “T”. That’s just a fetish. But what’s true.

    Thank you Paul for bringing it into the sunlight. Thank you Professor Dawkins. Never underestimate how important your call for “Reason and Evidence” is. You have really changed the world. I don’t know how you do it. It must be painful. You don’t seem like the type who doesn’t feel the sting of unjust criticism. But you do seem the sort of person who marches on, nonetheless.

    To show how this is on-topic (I truly believe it is)… Nordic. I agree with Amos. If I met you in any capacity, it’s very likely that I would get on with you. I am sorry for your illness and glad for your health. But all of the claims require special pleading. And special pleading is just wrong.

    The fact that you’re a nice guy who has it together in many aspects of life doesn’t mean that your specific beliefs on this particular subject are not “delusional”. We can’t just make stuff up or accept what others have made up and expect others to respect it.

    As Paul said, “Not here.”

    • In reply to #82 by susanlatimer:

      To-date only one amongst his number has been hit for a home run.

      That’s not true. Two or three were hit out of the ballpark by Brandon in the first purge.

      I stand corrected Susan, thanks.

  19. the thing is rigourous philsophical examination and Dawkins dont really go together so there must be another factor. Speaking as student of philosophy for 7 years.

    I’m not sure what that means. Richard Dawkins is a scientist and he wrote a very thoughtful book addressing the general public on the arguments USED by theists to convince the general public.

    If he has made mistakes, then given your credentials, you should be able to start from scratch and tell us why your choice of deity exists.

    (speaking as a recipient of several Nobel prizes… OK…. I lied about that bit but you can see how easy it is do that on the internet… and even if your and my claims were true, they aren’t arguments. As a student of philosophy, you should recognize the problem right away. ;-)

    hmmm confirming a claim by appealing to evidence. Which I believe are previous claims confirmed by evidence ad absurdum…

    Please go on.

    • In reply to #83 by susanlatimer:

      the thing is rigourous philsophical examination and Dawkins dont really go together so there must be another factor. Speaking as student of philosophy for 7 years.

      I’m not sure what that means. Richard Dawkins is a scientist and he wrote a very thoughtful book addressing the general public on the…

      “hmmm confirming a claim by appealing to evidence. Which I believe are previous claims confirmed by evidence ad absurdum…”

      “Please go on”

      I’m not sure here if you mean ‘go on’ down the infinite regress this position implies or you mean ‘go on I agree, what does this imply’? For if you agree with the former you must admit that there is no basis for a suppsoed factual claim.

      The God Delusion- Apologies for the brevity.

      A) It’s tempting to attribute this appearance of design to a designer
      B) But then who designed the designer
      C) The best explanation is evolution- natural selection
      D) We don’t have the same explanatory discourse in physics BUT
      E)Hopefully this will emerge in the world of physics
      F) Therefore God does not exist

      I mean please correct me if I’v left out anything. But this is so philosophically unsound it hurts my brain!

      I find it interesting that you would draw (even a comedic) a parrallel between studying philosophy for 7 years and having a nobel prize. This highlights the need for philosophical study. Anyone can study philosophy and I constantly push for young people to do this. It allows us to get rid of loads of the basic stumblin gblocks I really didn’t expect to find on a forum in an arena promoting reason! Everyone needs eudaimonia!

      Your statemtn “If he has made mistakes, then given your credentials, you should be able to start from scratch and tell us why your choice of deity exists” highlights this lack of analysis. From teh body of text I had written I can’t find any proposiiton that one does exist or from that my motives are to prove one exists? this is exactly what I’m talking about.

      The last point F) is not a conclusion derived from the earlier points in teh argument- it is not a synthesis of teh precluding points (they’re not even premises so it doesnt relly matter). So in your perspective regardless of how wek an argument is i must not only show it to be invalid I must assert another position in it’s place?

      • The God Delusion- Apologies for the brevity.

        A) It’s tempting to attribute this appearance of design to a designer B) But then who designed the designer C) The best explanation is evolution- natural selection D) We don’t have the same explanatory discourse in physics BUT E)Hopefully this will emerge in the world of physics F) Therefore God does not exist

        You will have to elaborate on items D) and E), but your summary of the book as purporting to prove that God does not exist is incorrect.
        You give a good impression of someone who has not read the book. Maybe you missed the chapter named “Why there almost certainly is no God”. The book presents the argument that the persistent belief in a supernatural God held despite no supporting evidence and much contradictory evidence is deluded.

        I’m not sure here if you mean ‘go on’ down the infinite regress this position implies or you mean ‘go on I agree, what does this imply’?

        Or maybe “Go on, because it’s quite entertaining”? At the risk of embarrassing your fellow philosophers (even those with less than 7 years study), please continue.

        In reply to #87 by v.interesting:

        In reply to #83 by susanlatimer:

        the thing is rigourous philsophical examination and Dawkins dont really go together so there must be another factor. Speaking as student of philosophy for 7 years.

        I’m not sure what that means. Richard Dawkins is a scientist and he wrote a very thoughtful book add…

        • In reply to #91 by Marktony:

          The God Delusion- Apologies for the brevity.

          A) It’s tempting to attribute this appearance of design to a designer B) But then who designed the designer C) The best explanation is evolution- natural selection D) We don’t have the same explanatory discourse in physics BUT E)Hopefully this will emerg…

          Thank you for your respnse but I don’t think you’ve responded to the allegation that not one of the premises even if eased into teh form of a premise follows? If you would like to assert that I just don’t understand the rest of the book are you diosputing that this ‘argument’ in isolation is correct- as it is in the book I beleive pg158. as a summaryt of what is the central argument.. I fyou’ve read the page i think you can look at where D and E are present rather than reiterate them here. I think i want to claify my tone: let’s look at the argument rather than personalities. Of which I am obviously guilty!

          i’m curious how you would reconcile the problem I mentioned of infinite regress of statemnt sconfirmed by truths to be true… You asked me to go on but i think I was perfectly clear in my question. It’s circular reasoning right? Unless i’ve fully jumped the gun and we are not interested in how facts are generated? I would sleep really soundly if you could verify this.

          At the risk of sounding demanding please don’t dodge around the question with another go-on (unless this is prety cool joke in the theme of infinite regress implied- that would be awesome)

          • i’m curious how you would reconcile the problem I mentioned of infinite regress of statemnt sconfirmed by truths to be true…

            I didn’t see any infinite regress problem to reconcile. It’s a bit like a Christian telling an atheist that they need to prove God doesn’t exist.

            hmmm confirming a claim by appealing to evidence. Which I believe are previous claims confirmed by evidence ad absurdum…

            You don’t accept the scientific method as a valid epistemology, I get that. But I’m afraid it’s your problem to reconcile.

            In reply to #92 by v.interesting:

            In reply to #91 by Marktony:

            The God Delusion- Apologies for the brevity.

            A) It’s tempting to attribute this appearance of design to a designer B) But then who designed the designer C) The best explanation is evolution- natural selection D) We don’t have the same explanatory discourse in physics B…

          • No. The proposition that the truth of a statement is affirmed by other truths leads to a circular proof. please accept that where as you don’t see that there is a problem to reconciliate nonetheless there is a problem. Please show me that I’m wrong in this regard

          • please accept that where as you don’t see that there is a problem to reconciliate nonetheless there is a problem.

            What was that about circular arguments?

            In reply to #96 by v.interesting:

            No. The proposition that the truth of a statement is affirmed by other truths leads to a circular proof. please accept that where as you don’t see that there is a problem to reconciliate nonetheless there is a problem. Please show me that I’m wrong in this regard

          • In reply to #98 by Marktony:

            please accept that where as you don’t see that there is a problem to reconciliate nonetheless there is a problem.

            What was that about circular arguments?

            In reply to #96 by v.interesting:

            Ok i think i understand what to expect here. i hope you have a open and fulfilling journey in pursuit of knowledge. In the words of tigger tata for now
            >

            No. The proposition that the truth of a statement is affirmed by other truths leads to a circular proof. plea…

          • In reply to #100 by v.interesting:

            In the words of tigger tata for now

            Tata.

            I hope your next 7 years of study bring you further than – “I know I know nothing, and therefore I think you know nothing”

          • In reply to #101 by God fearing Atheist:

            In reply to #100 by v.interesting:

            In the words of tigger tata for now

            Tata.

            AH! this is more addictive than crack! Just like whitney and bobby brown I tried to leave but I just can’t!

            Thank you for your best wishes but i didn’t assert that I knew nothing! Your proposition is empty as your ability to tackle the meat of my objections. I don’t look forward to more side swiping but I will definately use you as a reminder not to tar all atheists with the same brush! For I believe you are not representative of the members of this forum.

            I accept that this has been the sum contribution to the discussion and as such is indicitive of your capabilities. I also realise that I have fallen into childish almost bullying by illustrating this so please I encourage you to try and 1) speak for yourself and defend the position by your own argumentation and 2) don’t see these arguments as nothing more than a reason to go and pursue the subject matter if you find it challenging. As will I when presented with an argument I am unfamiliar with. There is no game or win just a need to braoden the mind (me included)

          • Additionally if you had correctly interpreted the post it does not value that material epistomology is invalid. Nothing I’ve said from my posts implies that. i honestly do wonder about these kinds of forums, naturally i’m fighting the urge to get frustrated as you seem to be cherry picking inconsequential pieces of the discussion. How can we know of a material world? by material investigation. Done. i havent opposed that. Now how do you compose truth statements.. err science.. thats what Im getting from this discussion. oh man

  20. In reply to #87 by v.interesting:

    The basic argument of The God Delusion is short enough to quote verbatim. You can try out the expertise gained, from the study of what you call philosophy, on it.

    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.(Richard Dawkins)

    • In reply to #90 by aldous:

      In reply to #87 by v.interesting:

      The basic argument of The God Delusion is short enough to quote verbatim. You can try out the expertise gained, from the study of what you call philosophy, on it.

      I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligen…

      ye… well it depends what he means by evolution I guess is the mechanism? the observation of fossil records or the presence of diversity? 2 of these aren’t scientifically confirmed.. can you guess which? ALso it equates the entity of God to be similar to the nature of a material organism for there to be comparison between what is neccessary for a complex mind. I’d start there and see what happens next. to be honest youhavent put any creativity into this you’ve just copied and pasted… this is getting less fun and more repititive curse my eyes and wandering fingers on the keyboard! I love the fact that if someone has taken the time to study Socrates trhough to nietzsche they are chastised for mentioning it BRAVO REASON!!! SCORE!

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  22. Hi Naskew I very much agree that as children we are like sponges who are inevitably dependent on ‘law givers’ whether they be religious or secular. Now what I would disagree with is that religion in it’s purest form is being confused with the way religion is used.
    I would not hold Christianity accountable for the crusades as i would not hold democracy accountable for the invasion of Iraq.
    The point about peodophile priests is entirely that they are not vindicated by God. To truely be with God would not result in such an action. There’sa difference (as with all beliefs) as to what you claim and what you are. The benefit from having God is that there is a reckoning. However this is not an argument for it’s just a ‘consequence of’. I’m part of a fundamentalist church in the UK. I have gay friends and family. If I follow the faith i can not say that God accepts homosexuals ok but in all honesty God does not accept me either. We’re both viewed under the same eye. I don’t want you to think for a second that I’m promoting slome kind of moral pluralism where anything goes I’m stating exactly what I’ve been learning in theology and pastoral experiences in church. There is an incompatability with a Christian hating a homosexual. To take on the surface apartial reasoning of the doctrine would be doing yourself a disservice as it’s misrepresentative.
    If it were true that as we evolve religions have to evolve to it would have to be a perpective post the event as it’s an evidential claim. In fact there are more Christians now more than ever! Might it also be the case that if the human race is evolving and evidently prefers Christianity then you will have to become Christian as part of some evolutionary determinism? No. i think this will have no bearing on the truth of teh matter.
    Again the female priest thing is odd as it follows from my experience that women can teach women. Men can teach men and women during a service. This may seem sexist at first glance but can we make an assertion as an evolutionsit that there are not pre determined traits or roles determined by evolution that imbue different classifications with different characheristics.
    I simply to not agree that the bible is being more and more disproved. Evidence for this claim is anecdotal at best. I put it to you that to affirm this would be to study it as would be the case with every text that one may assert their opinion but if you feel you need to I would be happy to discuss this with you.
    Please do not think that it is allowed within the Christian faith to be both consistent and self-serving. I believe there is a thorough misrepresentation of Christian theology in the press whether it appears that a spokesperson for the Church of England is speaking for the faith is irrelevant as the same could be said for politicians and political theory.
    Please accept that when I say banter I sincerely apologise as i can see it appears dismissive but i find it diffuclt when the objections are ill through as they can be applied to every belief system not just religion.
    With Respect.

    • In reply to #103 by last word:
      >

      Now what I would disagree with is that religion in it’s purest form is being confused with the way religion is used. I would not hold Christianity accountable for the crusades as i would not hold democracy accountable for the invasion of Iraq. The point about peodophile priests is entirely that they are not vindicated by God. To truely be with God would not result in such an action.

      Ah! TRUE Christians!

      Could I introduce you to the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    • In reply to #103 by last word:

      What I would disagree with is that religion in it’s purest form is being confused with the way religion is used. I would not hold Christianity accountable for the crusades as i would not hold democracy accountable for the invasion of Iraq.

      Well then you would be guilty of copping out. Take a look at this description of the crusades.

      The Crusades were religious conflicts during the High Middle Ages through to the end of the Late Middle Ages, conducted under the sanction of the Latin Catholic Church – Wikipedia

      Did you read the bit about sanctioned by the catholic church? What higher authority would you expect? And as for democracy not being responsible for the invasion of Iraq, well firstly let’s look at the how those invasions started:

      “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.” Nabil Shaath

      But actually that is not fair, Bush was elected by a bunch of deluded voters who clearly believed that his Christianity would lead them along the right path. They are equally to blame for voting him is as he is.

      And now on to paedophile priests

      The point about peodophile priests is entirely that they are not vindicated by God. To truely be with God would not result in such an action.

      Ah so now I see, these could not have truly been Christians otherwise they would not have perpetrated the actions. In other words they must have been atheists otherwise they would have feared their god. Well firstly let’s also point out that the way the Catholic church handled these paedophiles suggests that the church was complicit in hiding their actions at nearly all levels. So that does not really justify your argument. Secondly you are actually proving my point that the church is more or less a fraud perpetrated on the public by (mostly) men who are at best agnostic, or worse atheist and just want to use their position of power to keep the scam going.

      There is an incompatability with a Christian hating a homosexual.

      Actually let’s look at how your god takes revenge, he floods entire cities. Hating homosexuals is the least of your duties. You should be excising them from this earth if you truly fear your god.

  23. I stand corrected Susan, thanks.

    I corrected it for the record. I’m impressed that you got everything else right considering what a mess it is.

    I DID enjoy you dropping in and chatting with them about their holy book, though. :-)

    I’ll miss that.

    Hope to see you over on Estranged Notions. I haven’t been commenting much but there’s been some great reading. A stellar lineup as I mentioned to you when I saw you there. Your brief presence made it shine even brighter. At least I know you know where to find it. There’s a thread up there now about the historicity of Jesus. ;-)

    Enough about that. I worry that it might seem off-topic so I’ll leave it at that. I do see a connection between the situation we’ve discussed and the battle Professor Dawkins has fought for reason. I’m glad you mentioned it here. It’s important.

    How’s Spain? :-)

  24. In reply to #103 by last word:

    “I would not hold Christianity accountable for the crusades as I would not hold democracy accountable for the invasion of Iraq.

    I have difficulty to follow you here. Surely the Crusade idea was 99.9% justified ,promoted and implemented by Christians-in the name of Christianity. Who else is accountable? I would be ( genuinely) interested to hear from you- or others- of any dissenting voices among Christians-including of Greek or Armenian confession – against the First Crusade at the time ( I am aware that, subsequently, even the Pope tried to discourage some crazy initiatives such as the Children’s Crusade).

    This is very different from Iraq invasion, where- as far as I know- ( a) the defense (or promotion) of democracy hardly figured among the justifications provided from time to time by the promoters of this invasion, and (b) many democracies ( India, Canada, France, Mexico, etc……) were in fact explicitly in disagreement with it. So, of course you are right not to hold “democracy”-of all things-responsible for this invasion.

  25. Richard Dawkins’ style of play is seen as ineffective and embarrassing as we are urged to move to civil engagement and reconciliation with believers.

    Two thousand years of politely being treated as a doormat has not yielded significant results in weakening the grip religion has over political leadership the world over. When I started working I had to endure colleagues that insisted on smoking at the next desk as they perceived was their right. Luckily for me society has generally come full circle and now smokers are generally only welcome as far as the doorstep. It was only due to hard hitting campaigns against smokers that caused us to be where we are today. Likewise those of use that are atheist need people like Richard who are quite prepared to take on the establishment and fight for the rights of those whose beliefs do not include the supernatural.

    Dare I say that having a head of state that is also head of the church is not exactly the right route and that until the UK permanently separates the two roles then any criticism we may have of Muslim lead states is not exactly going to be more than hypocrisy.

  26. As a result of the advances in science and technology in recent times, the time has come when religious superstition needs to be called out and religious institutions need to be challenged to rid themselves of groundless beliefs that lead to harm in people’s lives or to disband. Such harm includes ignorance, injurious and even fatal practices (e.g. excessive punishments, exorcisms, refusal of medical treatments), oppression and persecution of certain categories of people (e.g. women, children, heretics, apostates, gays, infidels), suppression of natural rights to free thought and expression, and so forth.

    Science has progressed to the point where it is clear that the emergence of life on this planet required no supernatural agency; that consciousness, which has hitherto seemed to be something pretercorporeal and therefore to be explained in preternatural or supernatural terms, is in fact generated by immensely complex networks of neural processes in the brain; and that the origin of the cosmos itself is better understood in terms of physics (which is at present only speculative) than through a story of some unknown and unknowable entity (which by definition explains nothing). People, from the very beginning of their learning careers in early childhood, are entitled to learn what is true of the world they inhabit; to teach them falsehoods is fraud and, where children are involved, child-abuse. This is precisely what religions do, and it needs to be stopped.

    The knowledge available to us nowadays has made our responsibilities in such matters much clearer. Religion can no longer be accorded the respect it has traditionally enjoyed in society. What Richard Dawkins has been doing through his books (not just The God Delusion) is all in this cause of halting and reversing the ill effects of religion and other forms of superstition in society, by making more available to the public the fruits of scientific enquiries and by calling out the groundlessness of religious claims, especially where they obstruct the dissemination of scientifically established information. Prof. Dawkins, like everyone else, is a particular kind of person and will not appeal as such to everyone, but the vast ongoing reach of his works throughout the world leave no room for doubt that we still need him. There are plenty of other public intellectuals in this cause who may be more to some people’s liking, in terms of how they speak and what clothes they wear.

    • In reply to #113 by Cairsley:

      As a result of the advances in science and technology in recent times, the time has come when religious superstition needs to be called out and religious institutions need to be challenged to rid themselves of groundless beliefs that lead to harm in people’s lives or to disband.

      You make some great points. I am curious about an aspect of certain beliefs that seem to be tolerated quite beyond what would normally be considered acceptable in a modern society. Namely genital mutilation of children. While (certainly in the UK) the practices of FGM have been outlawed it seems that the male equivalent somehow has gained a special status such that it is not discussed.

      How is it that society appears to turn a blind eye to this groundless barbaric act when performed on infant males and yet if the perpetrator did the same (or similar) to a girl they would face prison? Is it not time for laws to be passed that equally protect male and female infants?

      • In reply to #115 by naskew:

        How is it that society appears to turn a blind eye to this groundless barbaric act when performed on infant males and yet if the perpetrator did the same (or similar) to a girl they would face prison? Is it not time for laws to be passed that equally protect male and female infants?

        In principle I agree with you that the complete integrity of both female and male babies’ bodies should be protected from any such cuttings as happen in circumcision; they are all forms of mutilation. There has been a change of medical policy in some countries (New Zealand, for example, where I live) in favor of leaving boys’ appendages intact (girls’ genitals are protected by law), except where some rare medical reason obtains or where circumcision is requested by parents. So the problem of baby boys’ physical integrity not being safeguarded continues.

        The practice of genital mutilation of babies is quite possibly of prehistoric origin. According to Wikipedia, the practice originated in Africa and the earliest evidence of it is a reference to it on a sarcophagus that dates back to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1991-1786 BCE). The scriptures of none of the Abrahamic religions require female genital mutilation, though Islam permits it. Judaism requires the circumcision of all Jewish males, so baby boys are ritually circumcised on their eighth day. Neither Christianity nor Islam requires males to be circumcised, but both religions have, I know not why, adopted the practice, perhaps because of its presence in the Old Testament. Here is a good summary of male and female circumcision in Islam and Muslim arguments for stopping the practice. The important point, however, is that the practice of female and male genital mutilation long predates the Abrahamic religions, and the original reasons why it was practised are lost in the mists of time.

        Christians and Muslims can abandon this barbaric practice without in any way altering their religious teachings. Jews, however, have it in their scriptures that circumcision is the mark of their covenant with YHWH. To an unbeliever there is no reason not to discontinue the practice and to symbolize their participation in the covenant some other, more civilized way, but devout Jews may not be so adaptable. It is in any case a human rights issue: children are entitled to their bodily integrity being respected and safeguarded. If a religious practice contravenes this right, the religious practice, based as it is on superstition, is what needs to be changed or discontinued.

        Regardless of the religion of the people who still practise the genital mutilation of children, it is clear that the stated reasons for it are not justified by facts but based on superstition. It is one of the issues that bring to mind how serious is the need for the work that Professor Dawkins and others have been doing in public to spread a scientific understanding of life and the world, to undo the harmful effects of superstitious thinking, and in the particular case you mention to grant male infants the same legal protection granted to females.

        • In reply to #118 by Cairsley:

          Sorry, I redid post #117 which now #118, and the links I had included in that post were not copied to the new one. Here are those links:

          Wikipedia – in the sentence in #118 beginning: “According to Wikipedia, the practice originated in Africa …”

          Here – in the sentence in #118 beginning: “Here is a good summary of male and female circumcision in Islam …”

  27. I think Christopher Hitchens was a much more potent adversary to theists if only because he didn’t care about offending people, whereas RD is rather too polite and posh to have the ‘Hitchslap’ effect. That is perhaps to his credit, however, depending on your tastes. To say that RD has had his day is ridiculous, though, as rational argument overrides fashion.


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  28. Moderator, how and why is this discussion allowed to divert into circumcision issues? . These are by all means valid subjects of discussion, but I suggest those interested initiate a separate discussion on this- an issue very peripheral to the ” Dawkins and you” topic. This site risks to loose many valuable contributors who will direct their attention elsewhere .

  29. No one will ever be able to disprove atheism. It is the most profound, innate and fulfilling way to love. Loved by any free thinker, common or extraordinary, doesn’t matter. You can be a nobody, but still be free. That’s what matters. Then you become somebody. It’s not about money or a job or anything like that. It’s about you, yourself, as a person.

  30. Hey Nordic, why cant god help you with your terminal illness or does he/she/it only give out miracles (to one person) when the whole world is watching i.e. the recent pope miracle. And, on the issue of miracles, why does the pope only provide miracles to one person when there is surely more than one ill religious person in the world?

    In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

    I am a Christian, one who is, by Richard Dawkin’s opinion, delusional. I’ve lived 52 years on this planet in peace with my neighbors and spent 28 years teaching students about the wonders of science. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or deny climate change and evolution. I have no criminal r…

  31. In reply to #124 by zula:

    Hey Nordic, why cant god help you with your terminal illness or does he/she/it only give out miracles (to one person) when the whole world is watching i.e. the recent pope miracle.

    What a dickish thing to say to someone with a terminal illness.

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