Dawkness Over Fields of May

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Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 11:53 pm
I'd like to examine Richard Dawkins' campaign against religion, in regard to truthfulness, logic used, error, due care, utility, efficacity.
Please bear with me, pc is acting up.

First I would like to examine "truthfulness".
My premise is that a truthful respondent will admit error if he knows about it, and do so quickly and easily - after careful consideration.
Further, a respondent may act truthfully at one time, yet untruthfully at another time, or in another aspect.

If it is seen that a pattern of untruthfulness follows the respondent, I believe "sometimes untruthful, when it counts", to be a fitting appellation.

I also think it desirable to pursue a purely "ad him" approach so as to relate this to "efficacity", as the campaign has one goal (of several). being to convince - on matters that cannot be known ( or at least are thought to be unknowable, by one or both parties) - a person who is a believer, one who operates on faith in an authority.
So it is intrinsically better that the authority be seen as "truthful", under those conditions, for reason of efficacy of his approach.

Is this permitted ?

Also, I think it's reasonable to assume that a highly communicative person who has his own well staffed website, with lots of traffic, will become aware of criticism - of his writings' premises - from other scientists, especially from those at the very top of their field.
Dave Allen
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 03:10 am
I think the 'campaign' has a few different aims and objectives, and I'm not sure if Richard Dawkins is open about them all himself.

* It's obviously profitable for him as well as another set of atheist writers. Nothing wrong with this - supply meets demand.
* I think the case I find most sympathetic is the irritation biologists have with the attempts of creationists to disprove evolution, which almost always stem from fundamental misunderstandings of evolution, the belief that accepting evolution leads to atheism, and the belief that evolution is an immoral model (though it is an amoral one).
* Almost as sympathetic I think is the apparent fact that in US politics purporting to have religious beliefs seems to be an advantage whilst admitting to atheism a positive disadvantage.

I think the campaign has had a few benefits. I think that there are now decent pat answers that atheists can use to counter pat questions/criticisms put to them by theists. Another benefit has been to underline atheistic alternatives to theistic rituals, traditions and philosophies. I also think it's more clear to people that atheists aren't satanists, communists or nihilists and that certain atheists are erudite and have contributed a lot to society.

I think his books on science are a lot better than his writing on religion - and a negative result of the popularity of his writing on religion is that now all his books might be tarred with a brush of mediocrity. I don't think scientists, as a gestalt, require a view of his religious books, because they aren't scientific books, they aren't even popular science.

In the end I think it's a decent job he does. I think he provides pat answers and cheap moral support for atheism - however, given that the writing seeks a wide audience he probably wouldn't be as successful if he were writing on the subject like Shopenhauer or Russell.
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 08:21 am
@Dave Allen,
Thank you, Dave Allen.
There is reason to argue that the campaign is pro-Atheist. I don't think one excludes the other. We can, as well, look at it from that angle if we need to.
Noted, your correct observation that his "religion" books are not scientific books and that crtiticism by scientists, of his religion books, is not to be unduly elevated in importance to us.
However, I would like to assume, granted permission, that criticism and relevant information coming from "scientists at the top of their field", directed at his kind of - or item of - work, would duly assume elevated importance to Dawkins himself.

"Pat answers" might logically be taken at face value, considering the audience breadth. Agreed that many readers would be lost. in the "number of readers" sense, and technically or logically lost - if he went into depth.

You got some important points there that I had not considered, Dave !

Edited as pc allowed and as thoughts came.
Dave Allen
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 10:28 am
I don't think there's anything wrong with pat answers - particularly seeing as so many creationist "challenges" to evolution are pat criticisms and have long since been debunked. Common theistic challenges such as Pascal's Wager are also highly pat, and it's good to know of erudite ripostes. I mean, Pascal's wager is still seen as a highly relevent argument for theism by many people - yet it is pretty easy to knock holes in it.
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 10:30 am
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;70353 wrote:
I don't think there's anything wrong with pat answers - particularly seeing as so many creationist "challenges" to evolution are pat criticisms and have long since been debunked. Common theistic challenges such as Pascal's Wager are also highly pat, and it's good to know of erudite ripostes. I mean, Pascal's wager is still seen as a highly relevent argument for theism by many people - yet it is pretty easy to knock holes in it.
Absolutely. they're even preferable in some circumstances.
Thanks !
I'll "stand pat" on my "pat answers".
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 09:16 pm

First quotation
Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place. ...
1/ Accusations ? Not confessions and convictions ? Shouldn't we be dealing in facts already known, when we have them ?

2/ Is it only that a little sexual abuse is better than being raised in a religious home, or is even a lot of sexual abuse, still better than a little religion ?

Second quotation
...but I suspect that most of the sexual abuse priests are accused of is comparatively mild - a little bit of fondling perhaps, and a young child might scarcely notice that
1/ Preists and "Brothers" have been concentrating mainly on babies ?
Wouldn't the average age of first assault be higher than that ? Older than 2 or 3 ? Don't they depend on the child knowing enough to feel guilty and keep quiet ?

2/ When would the contact be stopping ? Wouldn't it be often only when the child was released from juvenile detention, custody, boarding school, Choir or Altar Boy duties ?

3/ Why is it better, a this point, to use a minimalizing "story" instead of the actual facts and numbers available ?

David Berreby: Richard Dawkins' Jewish Question
When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told -- religious Jews anyway -- than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolize American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.
1/ Jewish Lobby ? pro-Israel Lobby ? Is is a lobby for the Jewish religion, or for political action and funding in the Middle East ?

Religious Jews are less numerous than Atheists

The pro-Israel lobby might also be composed of other kinds of people who happen to have financial interests, or anti-Arab sentiments, and readers of Bible picture-books, Christians, or non-religious Jews, even arrrgggghhhh!!!! *ATHEIST* Jews.

3/Are religion, nationality, culture, ethnicity, race, financial interest, and political view, all to be equivocated ? Then conflated ?

From "The Selfish Gene" pg. 5
Perhaps we can sympathize more directly with the reported cowardly behavior of emporer penguins in the Antarctic. They have been seen standing on the brink of the water, hesitating before diving in, because of the danger of being eaten by seals. If only one of them would dive in, the rest would know whether there was a seal there or not. Naturally nobody wants to be the guinea pig, so they wait, and sometimes even try to push each other in.
Author or source of the report ? "Reported cowardly behaviour".

Dr. Polly Penhale comments.
QUESTION: Do penguins find out about danger by pushing one of
their own into the water?

ANSWER: On January 14, 1995, Polly Penhale answered:
It is hard to find an objective answer for this question because
scientists cannot set up experiments to find out the answer. The idea of
penguins "testing the water" by pushing in others was based on
observations. When penguins are near the ice edge and in a position to
go into the water, they are often in a large groups of 100 to 1000 birds.
The birds are very active and are always milling around, and the birds
in the back can't see what's going on in the front. So, I believe that this
situation of crowding and moving and pushing causes the front birds
on occasion to be accidentally pushed into the water.
and who is Polly Penhale ?

:: NASA Quest > Archives ::
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 07:19 pm
Here's a video of an interview on TVOntario
It's mostly warm-up till 6:15

Part of Steve's premise for a question was denied by this argument.
The question, "Where do Atheists get their morals", of course, is "resolved" by Dawkins pointing to "Zeitgeist".
First let's see how he argues against the possibility that people can get their moral values from Religion.
Then let's look at his "Zeitgeist" argument.

YouTube - Richard Dawkins on "The Agenda" (Part 1of7)

The argument Dawkins uses to deny that people can "get their (good) moral values" from Religion seems to be this:

If they do get them from Religion, they aren't the kind of people we want to know.
If they were getting their morals from Religion, they'd be stoning people to death for showing an inch of skin.
and if they weren't doing that stoning, then they must be "picking and choosing" - and that kind of picking and choosing, if it did occur, would be based on their own modern appreciation of what good morals are, and are therefore picking ones that mirror, suit, or complement their already existent moral values.

It's clear that he says that he hopes they don't, and that they would be nasty, necessarily, if they did, the kind we wouldn't like...and yet he vehemently denies that they do.. and later adds...get any good ones !

We all get them from the same place, he argues, because our moral values are similar, as a society..and he points to moral values he supposes we share, in an enlightened society: anti-slavery stance, respecting women's rights or emancipation, and so on. All modern concepts, which were not ushered in by, or in any way part of, religion's influence.
Part Two

Here Richard explains Zeitgeist and that we get any morals we have, from it. Then a boring bit about Atheist Power.
YouTube - Richard Dawkins on "The Agenda" (Part 2of7)

He's talking about Christians quite a lot in the first segment.
Christian-Religion related Questions: since he's pointing to "Stoning", as if he were pointing to lynch-mob murder.
1/ In Jesus' era, or earlier, did Law demand of citizens that they perform duties relating to Stoning as part of the justice system of the day ?
Now as to if Christians "must engage in stonings if they are truly attempting to follow instrutions";
2/ Is it "picking and choosing which commands to obey" if one has a current command, that demands cessation of performance of one's previous commanded duty ?
3/ Are Christians not following their religion by iiving under the New Covenant, whereby Old Law has been fulfilled, by the price paid; the ransom being paid in full, for all Sin ? And now "Love One Another " is the Law; it being illegal under either system to attempt to extort more payment than payment in full ?
4/ Was it not illegal under the Jewish Law, to demand payment again, or pursue the matter in any way, once the settled-on price had been paid in full, and received by the complainant?

Those are my understandings, relating to questions I thought of about the matter, anyway !

For the discussion on TVO, Professor Peterson offers an unusual insight at 4:44, showing that Dawkins' "ideal God/Human relationship" is a mirror of The Sermon on the Mount !

YouTube - Would we better off without religion? - (Part 6of7)

Noted that in the interview, Dawkins cites "dinner party conversations, newspaper headlines, judicial decisions", as factors influencing Zeitgiest.

He strongly denies that religion had ANY influence. Not hymns sung, not prayers made or recited, not the meetings, not the art, not the ideals in oaths made for marriage - none had a smidgeon the influence that a single dinner party conversation had; they had no influence, influence considered either "positive" or "negative" !
They are simply removed from the equation, because Mr. Dawkins decided they should be.

But what if that dinner party conversation was between two religious people upholding their views ?
What if the judicial decision was made with a Bible on the bench and religious assumption as a guide ?
What if the newspaper headline was written expressly to be in line, and find favour with, religious majority of the readership ?

Is it the case that The Zeitgeist would then automatically exclude such as an influence ?

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