Richard Dawkins: Anti-spiritual or Anti-superstitious?
Not that those are the only two choices, of course--feel free to give your take on Dawkins!
We've been having a lively side discussion on another thread about the popular scientist and writer, Richard Dawkins, and I was thinking since there is so much interest in Dawkins, the man, that he deserves his own thread.
He is a complex figure, drawing both admiration and ire from his readers and fellow scientists.
'Darwin's Rottweiler' probably needs no introduction, but....
And here is Dawkins' web site:
RichardDawkins.net - The Official Richard Dawkins Website
Is a voice like Dawkins' needed to counter extreme religious positions?
Or, has Dawkins simply gone over the top in reacting to what he perceives to be valueless superstitious religion?
Are his positions measured, or are they calculated to bait religious people and gain notoriety, or...?
Is there a need for religion, or is Dawkins right that a world without religion would be a better world?
Can the world get along without religion? Should it? Who decides?
Has science "unwoven the rainbow," or can science be a door to spirituality, wonder and awe?
I think he is anti religious to the point of irrationality.
Certainly one's values color one's views of the world...but its been clearly demonstrated his ideology over-rides reality. Anyone who would label the indo-pakisthan wars are religiously based and claiming they would vanish if there was no religioun is clearly not operating in reality. I won't go into the complexities of it here - but as a short cut...its as foolish as saying that british colonization of india were 'christian-hindu' wars and if both sides had no religion there would be no problem.
Many scientists have complained that he brings nothing but anomosity to the table. I agree.
Others have complained that evolution is the hammer which every scientific problem is a nail - he is an evolutionary fundementalist:
Dawkins's version of evolution also attracts critics, for it is dazzlingly digital. It features "robots" and "vehicles" and DNA, not flesh and fur; some evolutionary biologists regard him as a kind of reductionist fanatic -- an "ultra-Darwinist" who overplays the smooth mathematical progress of natural selection and its relevance to an animal's every characteristic, every nook and cranny.,
RICHARD DAWKINS'S EVOLUTION
I think he has gone 'over the top' as you say and resorted to cheap "Cops" style confrontations.
Anti-religious to the point of irrationality
Irrationality. A strong term. I could go 'questionable judgment' perhaps, irrational...well...I dunno.
Questionable judgment, as in, "Why, Mr. Atheist, venture on an extremely religious person's turf if you're not looking for a pie fight?"
YouTube - Ted Haggard in "Root of All Evil?"
OTOH, we have pie fights around here all the time, and wouldn't we just love it if we were famous and people bought our books because of it? Hey--maybe we're all irrational too! :)
From the Wiki on him I linked above, it sounds like 911 scared the p-waddin' outta him...like a lot of the rest of us, and he's reacting to that...like a lot of the rest of us.
Yeah, I guess fear makes us do and say irrational things. After I heard the cougar in the back yard, I wouldn't even burn the trash for weeks. I guess that was irrational. I dunno, was it?
I couldn't tell you about the history part, but I'll take your word for it.
Yeah, I think he's going to have to eat his reductionist words one of these days, for true.
And I totally agree, there are lots tastier things to bring to the table than animosity.
I hate regurgitating 9/11 stuff but....
I saw the second plane hit.
I lost friends in tower 1
I still cry when i walk by the 10th street firehouse - and I won't walk by it.
even with all that.... when bush got on the air and said 'they hate our freedoms' i knew something was very very very wrong. But that lie now means people 1000 miles away from ground zero are seeing their friends, their sons, their neigbors come home in body bags.
In short, if Dawkins is freaked out he should take hard, honest looks at the whys...and perhaps he's finding comfort in his religion of reason and evolution (reason will save us from 9-11s) but I can't respect someone who is parading around as some champion of truth and avoiding some unpleasant ones.
As I mentioned about these mega churches like haggards, or where haggard used to work :) ..... it seems like the people are looking for a lot more than stories about creation - family and community structure - and just about everything else the secular humanists tried to destroy in the sixties. (as if to emphasize this just see how popular john lennon's 'imagine' song is with dawkins and secular humanists - despite the fact its well, a crappy song)
I think it is sad that in america christianity seems to have been polarized between fundemenalists and 'anything goes' ....maybe Polkinghorne can start a denomination :)
On cougars and humanists
Amazon.com: The Beast in the Garden: The True Story of a Predator's Deadly Return to Suburban America: Books: David Baron
I bumped my cougar thread for you--it's in the 'spirituality' section also.
I am so sorry about your 911 experience. It sounds just terrible. I'm sorry for the whole mess. I have a son in the Army (not deployed yet), so it's pretty personal for me also.
Yeah, I think people are coming to the megachurches a lot because the social fabric came unraveled in the 1960's. I felt it happening. It was palpable, and very disorienting. The social markers for kids are just dismaying now.
And it is sad that American religion is so polarized. I appreciate Polkinghorne, but he can't give people the sense of stability that Fundamentalism can. It's kind of an exoskeleton, in a way.
I speak from personal experience, and so I definitely don't mean that in a derogatory or condescending way. I was a Fundamentalist because I needed to be one. People do what they have to do to get by. It just simply works for a lot of people, and some of them I know, love and respect very much.
I think those of us who see faith from a more liberal perspective can do much to moderate the tone of the dialogue, if we make that our aim.
But we all champion our own version of truth and turn a blind eye to our shadows. It's the human condition. Dawkins just has the spotlight on him.
Secular humanists--well, it's late, so that's a topic for another day.
As Pogo said, "We have seen the enemy, and he is us."
I'd take Dawkins over the floppy-haired evangelist who tells people to 'give till it hurts'. I mean have you even heard of Liberty University - a place of education where dinosaur fossils are labelled as being 3000 years old and homosexuals are ostracised and sometimes expelled. Dawkins described it as 'debauching the whole idea of a university' and I can't help but agree with him.
He might be arrogant but if you want to make a dent in religions political armour you have to have that element to you. Fight fire with fire as the old saying goes.
Another Dawkins supporter
Just so that you can make allowances for my bias let me state up front that I am an atheist.
I have read Dawkins "The God Delusion" and I understand why people (like dor) regard him as over the top. Although I agree with his conclusions in general, I think that he is a bit naive in that he regards his standpoint as so self-evident that he cannot understand why lesser mortals fail to see the truths that are so obvious to him. That video clip of him discussing evolution with the gay pastor (Haggard) showed how he was totally unable to deal with the gross stupidity and arrogance of that dreadful hypocrite. He just could not get onto Haggard's wavelength. I think he then becomes "over the top" in sheer frustration in not being able to get others to understand the obvious.
With regard to the original question - anti-spiritual or anti-superstitious - I believe it is to misunderstand Dawkins completely to even ask this question. Dawkins sees these two behaviors (spiritual and superstition) as one and the same thing. And I agree with him on this. If you believe in evolution and accept spirituality as being real, then you have to decide between the position where every living and non-living thing has a spirit associated with it or the position where you decide that at some point god decided to infuse man with a spirit. There is no middle ground.
Yev makes a lot of sense
I don't have to call it "Fundamentalism" if that offends anyone, but there does seem to be a similar psychological dynamic being exchanged between the two of them in that video, it seems to me. They're kind of made for each other, if you know what I mean.
IOW, Dawkins really was on Haggard's "wavelength," but just using a different set of material to argue from. Same dynamic, different material. But that's not to say I find nothing to appreciate about Dawkins, I hasten to add.
I suppose it might just as well be compared to Kohlberg's Conventional Morality (Law and Order) Stage:
KOHLBERG'S THEORY OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT
So Haggard says, in effect, "God said it, I believe it (for better reasons than you), and that settles it."
And Dawkins, in turn, says, "Science says it, I believe it (for better reasons than you), and that settles it.
There's always a stalemate when one possesses the self-evident truth, and argues with someone else who does also.
But let me ask you this, what does science, per se, (or the philosophy of atheism) have to say about either of those positions?
And how soon must one "decide," and once we decide, can we later change our minds, like science gets to?
IOW, how long do we get to play with the material before we "have to decide?" Can there be spiritual hypotheses & theories as well as scientific ones?
There's a two part South Park episode that parodies Richard Dawkins and atheism. It makes some good points.
The gist of is that one of the characters travels to a future without religion where Dawkins and his wife are seen as great figures. The joke is that different atheist factions are at war over which group's science is the best and leads to the correct conclusions about the world.
The late, great, Nobel-prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman, who is considered by some to be one of the most intelligent men to have lived, said this:
Megan, you have caught me with my own argument! When you said that Haggard and Dawkins were using identical arguments I was going to reply "but Haggard says this is the only answer - it always was and will be forever, while Dawkins says this is the best answer we have right now but we may have to update it later on". And then you catch me making a categorical statement. Oh well, I suppose I get carried away with my enthusiasm sometimes.
What I was trying to say was that if someone believes in both evolution and spirituality they are faced with two mutually exclusive options, both of which are ridiculous. I do not believe stones have spirits, and how do we work out at what stage in the evolution of man god decided "OK, they are making progress now, let's give them souls". In a round about way I was saying that logically it is not possible to believe in both evolution and spirituality.
As an atheist I have not spent much time in this forum, but I see that there is a very long thread about creation, evolution and spirituality which I must read through. I suppose the argument I have made here might well have been made in that thread already. If so, I aplogise for rehashing it here.
I accept 100% that you don't believe that stones have spirits, find the thought ridiculous, but what does science (as opposed to the non-scientific opinions of scientists on metaphysical matters) actually have to say about that, or about the existence of God, for that matter?
Well, if you are going to wade through that other thread, you'll see what I said about the problem of infinite regress, and the impossibility of proving or disproving God's existence through science.
The existence of God is not falsifiable, and therefore evolution does not require one to be an atheist.
What's "logically not possible" is to state categorically that God does not (or does) exist.
But that's OK, you'll probably catch me in an enthusiasm every now and then.
Apart from being a very intelligent witty and gifted writer Richard Dawkins is also a brave man in my opinion.
Here are some of the claims Dawkins brings to the table:
1. Science deals with facts and religion with fantasy and subjective feelings. Science will hit bedrock from time to time, religion will just dabble on forever. It is sloppy and plain wrong to label science as a new religion with prophets. You have no understanding of the term religion.
2. The burden of proof for the existence of God or a particular God rests on the believers. I could challenge you to disprove the existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and you would label me as silly or deranged. You challenge me to disprove Allah or the Judeo-Christian God and suddenly it seems very sensible to you. It's not; TFSM and Allah is on the same plane. It's just that Allah has had a couple of billions of followers. That doesn't make the claim that he exists right or relevant. I can claim a million things that are true... so what? Why should you care.
3. Religion is a parasite on a much older Moral sense endowed in humans. The Old Testament for example is a horror house of evil behaviour, especially on God's behalf. Live on that basis and you will live immorally. Then you go and find the bits in the old and the new Testament which ARE morally sound. But how did you do that? You already knew that, you made the judgment, the Bible is not the basis for morality, although it contains some valid moral principles. Morality is best of without religion, it's doing fine on it's own.
4. The monotheistic religions are highly in-out group centered. They are exclusive in the extreme and can therefore easily be used as justifications for segregation, persecutions, murder and territorial expansions. So, there is religion at the root of a great deal of conflict in the world which many people are afraid to adress openly. Dawkins is accused of contributing every evil in the world to religion but he obviously does not do that. When speaking about the conflict of Northern Ireland, for example, in his new book, he mentions and acknowledges all the historical reasons as well.
Why does Dawkins piss so many wellmeaning people off?
Well, he is logically consistent; we don't want or aren't able to believe in God but still like that warm fuzzy feeling that "belief in belief" (Daniel Dennett's term) gives us and have a sort of loophole open to blurry concepts from the New Age department - for instance the I-M model (a kind of Santa Claus worldview).
We are also afraid to actually take a stand on these issues because what the community might say and the fundamentalists do. I live in Denmark, I work at the newspaper which you all know so well, so I have first hand experience with the rage and irrationality parts of the Muslim world is able to express.
Dawkins is also very polemical, partly because of the reason above, it IS time to take off the gloves or a lot of the things we value could go down the drain, and partly because he is a coldblooded British intellectual who has probably lost his patience with the dogma and the ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ (in Harry G. Frankfurt's use of the term.)
Well, THAT oughta bring dor outta the woodwork....
Ducking for incoming, dor....
I have a flight to catch but "mr punch" no, dawkins is not logically consisitent- his own irrational hatred of religion makes him as out of touch with reality as a creationist:
i am pointed those things out here and I will repeat again - atheistic goverments have killed far more people than religious ones _ 120 million an counting, and frankly mr. punch - you live in denmark - if you danes dont get off their apaethic extesitional rear ends you're going to lose you country - and in a protracted war , a religious people will always beat a decadent people (and that's what the west has become) it happend in Spain, it happened in India, it happened to the Entrucans, it happened to late Rome, and Europe will be next. You can go on and on how it 'isn't fair' or it's irratioonal - but unless you change, they are going to win. So who's the irrational ones now - people like you and dawkins who don't understand human nature, or the 'islamo facists' who do?
nara yes it was meant to be a joke. No I don't think you or Dawkins are naizis..
also notice how he completely ignores the fact atheistic communists killled hundreds of millions and when confronted with the hitler example, simply references himself and calls hitlers fascism a religion....He claims hitler's anti semitism came from roman catholicism...how does he explain the fact that the pope hid 7000 jews in the vatician during WWII...can he back this claim up? Highly doubtful
CNN.com - Suicide bombings as military strategy - Jun 30, 2005
Expert: Attacks motivated by logic, not religion
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005; ISBN 1-4000-6317-5) is Robert A. Pape's analysis of suicide terrorism from a strategic, social, and psychological point of view. It is based on a database he has compiled at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. The book's conclusions are based on data from 315 suicide terrorism campaigns around the world from 1980 through 2003 and 462 individual suicide terrorists. Published in May 2005, Pape's volume has been widely noticed by press, public, and policymakers alike, and has earned praise from Peter Bergen and Michael Scheuer.
But Pape, author of the provocative new book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," contends those reports fuel significant misperceptions about the bombers, their motivations and specifically the role religion plays in their actions.
"There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions," he says.
So can we expect a Dawkins crusade against logic now?
no label to distinquish between prods and catholics - so war like tough border clans from scotland moved there to clear up the english/scottish border would have just blended in? comical.
He also claims jews would have just intermarried...how does he explain other 'wandering peoples' who don't - like gypsies - who don't practice any particular religion?
Here are my ramblings - because I just can't stop thinking about this...
What would our world be without religion and war ?
What would our world be without science ?
Did Dawkins read Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian"? Why I Am Not A Christian, by Bertrand Russell
I did not read Dawkins, or Haggard.
What they think may not be accurate, their books will not resolve the destructive beliefs created during religious-ideological conflicts (war) and neither will the church.
What would our world be like without belief ?
Criticisms expressed by the authors of this thread and the infamous creation-evolution-debate nag at my sense of cognitive epistemology : Cognitive Constructivism: Free Will and Knowledge as Perception
"[I]t is evident that there is no way to prove that any particular aspect of our knowledge is absolutely correct."
Thankfully, quantum physics provides platitudes which give me peace of mind :
quantum field theory doesn't respect 'cause' happening before 'effect' Epistemology | Google Groups
I have no conclusions, enjoy the suspense, and await the next discovery.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Eric--thanks for *your* thoughts...
...I printed & am reading your fascinating links--thanks! But, I confess, I'm not getting very far because the ideas take me a zillion directions. It's kind of the 'embarrassment of riches' problem.
OK, I just have to insert some beginning thoughts here, even though there's so much more to go through.
First of all, the word constructivism is just numinous to me. More on that later. I think it's a key idea.
This is from the first post on your epistemology link (you have to click a link on the post to get there):
Hip Forums - So...What Exactly IS; Zhabotinsky Soup? Archives
What I'm saying is that I see Religion and Science as evolutionary oscillators, which create a "pulse of propagating excitation" back and forth, and this accounts for the emergence of science in the West.
I don't mean religion reduced to absurdity, e.g. snake-handling, burning-witches-at-stake, or giving-till-it-hurts religion, but religion [awe, wonder, aesthetic sense, imagination, intuition, human propensity to "see-things-whole," reach-exceeds-grasp, contemplative religion] as an emergent co-equal evolutionary force with science. In that sense, it's hard to really separate religion from science, it seems to me.
That's my hypothesis and I'm stickin' to it...until someone beats it outta me anyways. :)
Megan, I thought Zhabotinsky Soup was the band I saw at Burning Man!
Did they oscillate colors between red and blue?
Burning Man! You went to Burning Man? Cool! er...hot, I guess?
Megan, your comment
How Bucky succinctly describes his faith in humanity, the universe, in terms of "precessional side-effects" is refreshing, original and optimistic.
Ooooh man...this gets richer by the minute, Eric....
OK, I've got my printer all fired up, but could you please tell me the name of the article that Bucky quote came from, else I probably won't come up for air 'til the middle of next week.
Having a ball with Bucky. :)
Note to self: learn to write like Richard Dawkins & Bertrand Russell
Further note to self: get higher IQ.
It has been argued (by smarter people than I, not that that should convince anyone, of course) that religion is what has actually developed our intellects in the West to the point where science became possible:
The quote is from Critical Path - the chapter "Self Disciplines of Buckminster Fuller" page 158 for the quote, but I think you will find the entire chapter to your liking.
I hoped to send a different response. In 2004, I explored the similarites of sacred geometry to Fuller's concept of right-angle regenerative intercyclings - but presently cannot find my notes.
Ok, I found it...
Maybe Bucky was thinking of this when he wrote "Critical path elements are not overlapping linear modules in a plane: they are systematically interspiralling complexes of omni-interrelevant regenerative feedback circuits."
I love this subject, this forum, all of the groups in Personal Development for Smart People Forums, the intellectual stimulation, the exchanges, the learning.
I came here to get some focus, discipline about my personal project (an artificial intelligence patent). So, I must switch my attention to my priorities (and it will be hard).
I understand about needing to focus on your own path--this kind of stuff can expand to consume all one's thoughts!
I've often thought that Sacred Geometry has a lot to do with epistemology, and that phi, the Golden Ratio, served to relate the parts to the whole, which is the epistemological function of a transcendent God, it seems to me. Hence the importance of monotheism to the development of science.
In other words, we need to postulate some sort of Ultimate, even if we can't prove it, in order to think well.
Best wishes on your AI patent, and please know your input is always welcome here!
The Marriage of Science and Spirit
Regarding science and religion being evolutionary drivers of each other; thinking of the world in terms of dynamic axes, rather than conflicting polarities; the oscillations of Zhabotinsky soup, etc....
Also reminds me of the double-triangle Star of David (Mogan David), which is dynamic in a similar way to the yin-yang symbol above. There's a perfect animation somewhere on the Net--for now, here's the plain symbol:
Also reminds me of colliding galaxies:
Bucky's words also remind me of the cerebral nasal cycle:
Just the first minute of this video alone makes me sick... He starts the video with Christian rap music and portrays churches like gangs...
This guy cares more about his self-image then humanity.
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