Richard Dawkins - man on a misssion

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Richard Dawkins - man on a misssion

Post by Scraplet » Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:05 am

Anyone seen the trailers on Channel 4 for "Root of all evil"

http://www.channel4sales.com/programming-and-schedules/channel4/january-2006/

Root of all Evil
Professor Richard Dawkins, the world-renowned evolutionary biologist, whose atheism has earned him the nickname of 'Darwin’s Rottweiler', takes a personal journey through the world’s three great monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Dawkins thinks it is time for science to stop sitting on the fence. In the light of overwhelming scientific evidence that, he believes, shows a supreme being cannot exist, and in a world in which religious conflict and bigotry are increasingly centre stage, Dawkins argues that for the good of humanity, religion needs to be challenged and disproved. Never one to shy away from a debate, Dawkins meets leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions to find out how their beliefs fit with modern science's extraordinary knowledge of our world and the wider universe.

In The Root of All Evil Dawkins accuses the religious establishment of preying on people’s desire to believe in a greater being; abusing reason and humanity in the process. Ultimately he asks how they can defend what religion has done, and is doing to us.


Watching Professor Dawkins prod this particular hornet's nest with a sharp stick will be fun! I'll be watching.

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Post by Metal Vendetta » Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:20 am

**** yeah. Currently reading The Ancestor's Tale and loving it. Dawkins is one of the sanest voices I think I've heard.

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Post by Denyer » Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:23 am

in a world in which religious conflict and bigotry are increasingly centre stage


Yup.

Any idea when the first part / the programme is on?

I really should get around to tracking down a copy of The Blind Watchmaker...

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Post by Scraplet » Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:34 am

Metal Vendetta wrote:**** yeah. Currently reading The Ancestor's Tale and loving it. Dawkins is one of the sanest voices I think I've heard.


Got "Ancestor's Tale" for xmas. Next on my reading list!

Denyer wrote:Any idea when the first part / the programme is on?

First part is Monday (9th Jan) at 20.00, I think. Second part is the following Monday.

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Post by Metal Vendetta » Sat Jan 07, 2006 2:05 am

Scraplet wrote:Got "Ancestor's Tale" for xmas. Next on my reading list!

It's really good. I'm thoroughly loving every minute of it., though I did take a couple of days off to read Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything ****?, which I also recommend :)

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Post by Professor Smooth » Sat Jan 07, 2006 5:00 am

I must find a way to see this.
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Post by Bouncelot » Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:41 am

Oh dear. I think I shall avoid it if it's anything like his normal ill-informed attempts to comment on religion. The guy's the atheist equivalent of Ian Paisley. I mean what sort of man objects to atheists being excluded from Radio 4's "thought for the day" (a short religious comment on something in recent news stories that happens in Radio 4's Today programme) by arranging an alternative atheistic thought for the day and then uses that slot to condemn religion as infantile. :roll:

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Post by Metal Vendetta » Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:23 am

Bouncelot wrote:...I mean what sort of man objects to atheists being excluded from Radio 4's "thought for the day" (a short religious comment on something in recent news stories that happens in Radio 4's Today programme) by arranging an alternative atheistic thought for the day and then uses that slot to condemn religion as infantile. :roll:

The sort of man I could listen to all day?

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Post by Denyer » Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:24 pm

Bouncelot wrote:Owhat sort of man objects to atheists being excluded from Radio 4's "thought for the day"


The kind of rational person who'd expect the show to be called "religious thought for the day" if that's all it was?

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Post by Best First » Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:53 pm

Bouncelot wrote:I mean what sort of man objects to atheists being excluded from Radio 4's "thought for the day"


a rational one?
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Post by Professor Smooth » Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:35 pm

Bouncelot wrote:Oh dear. I think I shall avoid it if it's anything like his normal ill-informed attempts to comment on religion.


Ill informed? The man is a professor at Oxford University who has spent years studying this. If he's ill informed, what does that make you?
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Post by Bouncelot » Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:43 pm

Professor Smooth wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:Oh dear. I think I shall avoid it if it's anything like his normal ill-informed attempts to comment on religion.


Ill informed? The man is a professor at Oxford University who has spent years studying this. If he's ill informed, what does that make you?


He's spent years studying biology, not years studying religion. Big difference. And nice that two people decided to make smart comments on the introductory half of one of my comments. The point I was making about the thought for today thing was that he thinks it's a good idea to lobby for an atheistic point of view by insulting the 80% plus of the world's population who believe in some kind of god. I wouldn't trust him to make a well informed or tactful comment on religion if my life depended on it.

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Post by Jetfire » Sat Jan 07, 2006 5:03 pm

Professor Smooth wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:Oh dear. I think I shall avoid it if it's anything like his normal ill-informed attempts to comment on religion.


Ill informed? The man is a professor at Oxford University who has spent years studying this. If he's ill informed, what does that make you?


To be fair he has spent most of that time not really making a significant contrabution to science. He's generally been a media whore for evolution and anti-religious statements for 20 years and has been consistently shown fundanmental and unaccepting of other ideas even though his as any right wing religious nutter.

On the other hand his "The selfish gene" is a fab read on how we preceve organisms.



On another note, surley there are more Hindu ot Buddist countries in the world than Jewish?

How does it always get termed as one of the main 3?
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Post by Best First » Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:50 pm

Bouncelot wrote:
Professor Smooth wrote:
Bouncelot wrote:Oh dear. I think I shall avoid it if it's anything like his normal ill-informed attempts to comment on religion.


Ill informed? The man is a professor at Oxford University who has spent years studying this. If he's ill informed, what does that make you?


He's spent years studying biology, not years studying religion. Big difference. And nice that two people decided to make smart comments on the introductory half of one of my comments. The point I was making about the thought for today thing was that he thinks it's a good idea to lobby for an atheistic point of view by insulting the 80% plus of the world's population who believe in some kind of god. I wouldn't trust him to make a well informed or tactful comment on religion if my life depended on it.


i fail to see how having critical opinions of religion should preclude him from contributing to thougt for the day.

Your point on this seems to be he shouldn't be allowed to contribue becacuse you don't like what he says.

the fact that 80% of people plus (plucked) believe in something doesn't mean that a point of view that insults them isn't well informed either.
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Post by Bouncelot » Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:43 pm

Best First wrote:i fail to see how having critical opinions of religion should preclude him from contributing to thougt for the day.

Your point on this seems to be he shouldn't be allowed to contribue becacuse you don't like what he says.


I wouldn't mind him contributing if he had even the tinest bit of tact in his opinions. Thought for the Day isn't the sort of slot you use for insulting people. By the content of his broadcast he shot himself in the foot with regards to getting an atheist into the slot. And it's not like that comment was particularly ill-thought-out as his comments on religion go.

the fact that 80% of people plus (plucked) believe in something doesn't mean that a point of view that insults them isn't well informed either.


You really think that calling the vast majority of humans infantile is a well-informed comment? :???:

[quote=Jetfire]On another note, surley there are more Hindu ot Buddist countries in the world than Jewish?

How does it always get termed as one of the main 3?[/quote]

The quote said "great three montheistic religions". Judaism is the third biggest of those religions which teach that there is only one God. Obviously Dawkins doesn't consider polytheistic religions like Hinduism worth including in his program.

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Post by Denyer » Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:52 pm

Bouncelot wrote:He's spent years studying biology, not years studying religion. Big difference.


He picked a subject likely to benefit people?

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Post by Best First » Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:34 pm

Bouncelot wrote:
Best First wrote:i fail to see how having critical opinions of religion should preclude him from contributing to thougt for the day.

Your point on this seems to be he shouldn't be allowed to contribue becacuse you don't like what he says.


I wouldn't mind him contributing if he had even the tinest bit of tact in his opinions. Thought for the Day isn't the sort of slot you use for insulting people.


that's about the most self serving arguement i have ever read. What's insulting to one can be inspirational to another.

prioritising tact over his actual point seems an odd call as well.

the fact that 80% of people plus (plucked) believe in something doesn't mean that a point of view that insults them isn't well informed either.


You really think that calling the vast majority of humans infantile is a well-informed comment? :???:


Have you seen what the majority of people watch and read?
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Post by Scraplet » Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:54 am

Bouncelot wrote:Obviously Dawkins doesn't consider polytheistic religions like Hinduism worth including in his program.


He's obvously concentrating on the religions that are direct enemies of his science. I'm know that Hinduism has it's creation myths, but I've never heard a Hindu trying to argue for their myths to be taught in preference to all the real emperical evidence for biological origins.

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Post by BB Shockwave » Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:56 am

As biologist myself I read quite many of Dawnkin's work (Blind Watchmaker among others). Never knew he was such a big advocate of atheism.

Sadly, face the truth - if you do a poll (and they did many) about what people believe in, only a tiny fragment says they are atheists. The most say they don't care. It takes a good intelligence to actually come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist through theoretical means. Most people simply don't give a damn whether God exists or not.

Thus, atheists are more fun to have intelligent debates with then simple non-religious people. My grandfather was a devout atheist (he was a communist at heart) and me being a catholic we had some heated debates. I miss him - he died 5 years ago. :(

I'm looking forward to this series - especially the Islamic part, I don't know many islamic spokesmen.

Scraplet wrote: He's obvously concentrating on the religions that are direct enemies of his science. I'm know that Hinduism has it's creation myths, but I've never heard a Hindu trying to argue for their myths to be taught in preference to all the real emperical evidence for biological origins.


For that record, although the media would like you to think otherwise, the Catholic church accepted the Darwinian theory many years ago. Heck, I went to a catholic 'high school' (gimnasium, actually, as they call it in Hungary) and our biology teacher was a priest, who taught us the evolution as the (currently best) theory about the creation and evolution of life.

Get a cue, people... we don't live in the middle ages anymore. The catholic church has completely left science to the scientist since decades. There might be sects like the mormons or the 'Witnesses of Jehova' who still believe God snapped his fingers and the world was created, but the major religions accepted the current scientific opionions long ago.

On a side note, I once got a book from a witness of Jehova describing how the world and life was created and why Darwin is wrong. As a biologist, I took side-notes how many times they lied or cited authors as if they were against evolution - when in truth the citations were grabbed from the middle of the sentence.

Like, "Evolution is a shoddy theory..." (citation in book) - continued in original: "...Darwin didn't take enough time to fully develop it". :D Same way I can cite the Bible saying "God doesn't exist". ;)
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Post by Best First » Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:14 pm

BB Shockwave wrote:Thus, atheists are more fun to have intelligent debates with then simple non-religious people.


Depends whether you define athiesm as rejection of established religions and a rejection of the notion that humanity is centreal to some kind of creator's plan or athiesm as catagorically stating that there is no possibility of some kind of 'higher' power or creation force, regardless of whether we will ever know anything emprirical about it..

The latter seems as arrogant and baseless as stating there definitely is IMO.
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Post by Denyer » Sun Jan 08, 2006 1:41 pm

BB Shockwave wrote:if you do a poll (and they did many) about what people believe in, only a tiny fragment says they are atheists. The most say they don't care.


Atheism is an absence of theism, that's literally what the word means.

In modern life, it encompasses two definitions: people who don't have a religion, and people who believe there isn't a deity.

Theists tend not to be able to wrap their heads around the notion of people not having beliefs, and to construct non-believers as believing in something else instead.

A fairly small minority of atheists believe (and preach) that there isn't a deity.

Mine own stance is rather similar to that of Stephen Roberts:

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other religions' possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

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Post by Bouncelot » Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:39 pm

Denyer wrote:
BB Shockwave wrote:if you do a poll (and they did many) about what people believe in, only a tiny fragment says they are atheists. The most say they don't care.


Atheism is an absence of theism, that's literally what the word means.

In modern life, it encompasses two definitions: people who don't have a religion, and people who believe there isn't a deity.

Theists tend not to be able to wrap their heads around the notion of people not having beliefs, and to construct non-believers as believing in something else instead.

A fairly small minority of atheists believe (and preach) that there isn't a deity.

Mine own stance is rather similar to that of Stephen Roberts:

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other religions' possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."


So how does agnosticism fit into your scheme? It seems to make most sense to me to use atheism for "belief that there is no god" and agnosticism for "no real belief either way".

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Post by Scraplet » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:17 pm

I thought agnostic was more like having an open mind to the possibility of a god but not following or practicing any religon.

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Post by Best First » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:58 pm

Scraplet wrote:I thought agnostic was more like having an open mind to the possibility of a god but not following or practicing any religon.


or the possibility of something, why define it as 'god' as such?

The suggestion that agnosticism is 'not having made your mind up either way' implies agnostics still see some glimer of credibility in existing religions - i'm fairly sure that isn't the true in a lot of people's cases.
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Post by Scraplet » Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:47 pm

Yeah, fair enough. I just used the word 'god' for lack of anything better.

In terms of having an open mind that there may be 'something', but not believing-in or seeing value in any religion, I'd probably describe myself as agnostic.

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Post by Denyer » Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:08 pm

Bouncelot wrote:how does agnosticism fit into your scheme?


Doubting -- as in actively considering the question -- and holding that you can neither prove nor disprove a supreme being. It's also defined as disbelief in any claim to ultimate knowledge.

Went to a baptism this evening. The pastor was doing quite well until the end section... fairly simple technique: present stuff you can get people to agree with, then slip in the "we're the only ones that get it right" bit.

Do I think there's a supreme being? Haven't got a clue. Likely end results, IMO, are wormfood, or a god that turns out to be far less judgemental than its self-appointed marketing department. People I expect to be incapable of forgiveness, beyond a certain point, attached to hierarchy and conditional love. A being that knows and understands everything? The other one has bells on it...

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Post by Best First » Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:32 am

The thing is - even if there is a being that understands and knows everything, looking round the world, 'he' is a malicious cock...
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Post by Metal Vendetta » Mon Jan 09, 2006 3:42 pm

I'm actually really looking forward to this tonight - the missus is cooking dinner but she's agreed that we can have the telly on while we eat :) :) :)

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Post by Best First » Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:00 pm

i'm out but i'm hoping it will be repated.

Faith is an indulgence of irrationality that is nourishing extremism, division and terror


i can't really find a flaw in that sentance to be honest.
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Post by Metal Vendetta » Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:30 pm

Dammit, did I mention I got doorstepped by the Jehovah's Witnesses on Saturday?

You see traditionally I would just tell them to go and **** themselves and slam the door in their faces, but nearly 5 years on Transfans has taught me that Christians are people too and instead of just insulting them and their beliefs (and their mothers) I should try and communicate with these people as if they were sensible and rational and not the worst kind of ****s who should be avoided like the plague.

Bottom line is, they've left me with the most laughable leaflet I've ever read called Why You Can Trust The Bible and they're going to call round again presumably next weekend) to see what I thought of it. I've been picking it apart for fun in my spare time but if anyone else wants a go, it's reproduced online here:

http://www.watchtower.org/library/t13/why_trust.htm

I'm particularly convinced by the first paragraph which more or less reads "The Bible is true because it says it is (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)". Also Moshe Pearlman (quoted as a historian here) is a former Press Information Officer for the Israeli Army, so obviously his word can be trusted. Also, I love the way in which the Bible fortells the future with respect to things that happened thousands of years ago, such as the fall of Babylon. Well, I'm convinced :eyebrow:

If this is the stuff that's supposed to sway me to saying "Holy ****! I was wrong all along! I wanna join your crazy cult!" then I fear they have a long way to go yet.

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