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blondgecko
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Nov 19, 2006, 1:55 PM
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Dawkins on tour
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Link.

Richard Dawkins recently gave a reading from his new book "The God Delusion" at Randolph Macon Womens' College, after which he fielded questions from the students there as well as a number of bus-ins from Liberty University, the local Christian diploma-mill. The link above has videos of both the main presentation and the Q&A session. It's well worth a watch - he's quite a presenter.

ETA a couple of my favourite bits:

When, near the end of the Q&A session, he was asked to comment on the "3000 year old" dinosaur fossil on display at Liberty University, he replied by giving a quick run-down on dating methods, then said that if they really were claiming this then he strongly urged all the students from Liberty present to leave immediately and go to a real university.

His borrowed analogy for the scale of geological time. Hold out an arm sideways from your body. Now, let's say that your midline is the beginning of life on earth, and your fingertip is now. On that scale, the age of the dinosaurs would occur somewhere on your palm; from your midline to you wrist is all single-celled critters. The genesis of humanity, from a. afarensis until now, would take place on your fingernail. All of recorded human history - from the ancient sumerians, babylonians, greeks, the middle ages forward, would disappear in a single stroke of a nail file.

Another analogy, that believing that the earth is just 6,000 year old is an error similar in scale to believing that the distance from New York to San Francisco is 28 feet.

Good stuff.


(This post was edited by blondgecko on Nov 19, 2006, 4:10 PM)


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Nov 20, 2006, 7:54 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Good stuff.

Nice to see the atheists getting their own extremists out there holding outrech sessions and evangelising.


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Nov 20, 2006, 8:05 AM
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Re: [tradman] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Hey Dave,
Been a long time. I've missed our conversations.
Now, "extremists?" Really? How is his such an "extreme" worldview?

I know you are an intelligent man. Really. Is there a 3000 year old dino fossil? Is there? If you tell me that you believe that it is more likely than not that there is, I will concur that "extremist" then fits. Not that "more likely than not" is the test for extremism, but I think it fits here.
And evangelising? Call it what you will. All sides of this "debate" will always try to convince others that they are right. Some just have (in my humblest of opnions of course) better basis to do so.

Hope all is well.


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Nov 20, 2006, 8:21 AM
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Re: [taualum23] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Now, "extremists?" Really? How is his such an "extreme" worldview?

Hmmm.

Well, his views that religious education is "child abuse", that all religious people are mentally ill, and that Moses was like Hitler are fairly extreme, as is his view that religion should be abolished or better yet made illegal.

In reply to:
Is there a 3000 year old dino fossil?

I have no idea. Maybe you should ask a paleontologist.

In reply to:
And evangelising? Call it what you will.

Oh, I'd say most people would easily identify going to a place where you know you'll find people who don't hold your view with the specific intention of exposing them to your view so they can adopt it as evangelism.


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Nov 20, 2006, 8:52 AM
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Re: [tradman] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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1) I have not seen those views specifically expressed by him. I would agree, that taken without any context, those would indeed seem rather extreme.

2) I don't need (nor do you) to ask a paleontologist. Dinsoaurs were not on Earth 3000 years ago. I am really, really comfortable making this statement. I would dare say that you would agree.

3) His host institution brought him in. As far as I can tell from my (admittedly cursory) reading of the piece, it was the students from Liberty (another local institution) that disagreed with him most strongly.


pinktricam


Nov 20, 2006, 9:39 AM
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Re: [taualum23] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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As I read through Arthur Phillips last book, The Egyptologist, I came across this little gem I'd like to share:

"Atheism too, I suppose is an act of faith which demands of its practitioners a sort of devotion. For they slouch through this world gray as a wraith and traipse off to hell with so little commotion.


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Nov 20, 2006, 9:43 AM
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Re: [pinktricam] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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In reply to:
As I read through Arthur Phillips last book, The Egyptologist, I came across this little gem I'd like to share:

"Atheism too, I suppose is an act of faith which demands of its practitioners a sort of devotion. For they slouch through this world gray as a wraith and traipse off to hell with so little commotion.

Wow. That gave us absolutely no more information or insight. We already knew where you stand.


pinktricam


Nov 20, 2006, 9:46 AM
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Re: [taualum23] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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In reply to:
In reply to:
As I read through Arthur Phillips last book, The Egyptologist, I came across this little gem I'd like to share:

"Atheism too, I suppose is an act of faith which demands of its practitioners a sort of devotion. For they slouch through this world gray as a wraith and traipse off to hell with so little commotion.

Wow. That gave us absolutely no more information or insight. We already knew where you stand.

Firmly on The Rock, buddy, firmly on The Rock ;-)


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Nov 20, 2006, 9:49 AM
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Re: [pinktricam] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Awesome. Then you'll enjoy this.
Edit: Crap. Can't post that image. That was some funny shit, too. Too bad. I'll be humorously disrespectful later.


(This post was edited by taualum23 on Nov 20, 2006, 9:51 AM)


blondgecko
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Nov 20, 2006, 1:40 PM
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Re: [tradman] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Now, "extremists?" Really? How is his such an "extreme" worldview?

Hmmm.

Well, his views that religious education is "child abuse",

No, his view is that it is a form of abuse to call a young child a "christian child" or "muslim child" etc. when they're far to young to understand the worldview that they supposedly follow.

In reply to:
that all religious people are mentally ill,

Really? Can you quote where he says that?

In reply to:
and that Moses was like Hitler

I'm sure the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and the Jebusites would agree with him.

In reply to:
are fairly extreme, as is his view that religion should be abolished or better yet made illegal.

Uh-oh, you're building strawmen again. Making religion illegal? Bullshit.

In reply to:
In reply to:
Is there a 3000 year old dino fossil?

I have no idea. Maybe you should ask a paleontologist.

If there was, you can be sure it wouldn't be hiding away in a display case in some third-rate diploma mill. The person that showed that they had a testably, by multiple methods, 3000-year-old dinosaur fossil would be a shoe-in for the Nobel prize.

In reply to:
In reply to:
And evangelising? Call it what you will.

Oh, I'd say most people would easily identify going to a place where you know you'll find people who don't hold your view with the specific intention of exposing them to your view so they can adopt it as evangelism.

Well, obviously somebody didn't follow the link. Wink


petsfed


Nov 20, 2006, 3:57 PM
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Re: [blondgecko] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Reminds me of when this evangelist whose major claim to fame was promising half a million US dollars to anyone who could produce irrefutable proof that evolution occurred, then pointed to the utter lack of successful takers as proof that Creation (or at least Intelligent Design) is correct. He debated my philosophy of science professor.

My professor (lets call him FPG, for short) basically attacked the evangelist (lets call him Preacher, for convenience's sake) on semantic grounds, judging (accurately, I'd say) that evidence in one direction or the other meant next to nothing to the man. A paraphrased excerpt follows:

FPG: ID/Creation is as unprovable as Evolution, since it was arrived at inductively. More over, your primary evidence for its factuality is circular. You believe in Creation because you believe in the Bible. You believe in the Bible because you believe in God. You believe in God because you believe in the literal truth of the Bible. Etc.

Preacher: But look at our eyes! How could that evolve? Its so complex. Like a 747 being produced in the aftermath of a tornado. I don't need more proof than that!

FPG: So your concrete evidence is based around an appeal to common sense? And yet you need much stronger proof to believe evolution?

..ad nauseum.

In this instance, Preacher was there to evangelize, while FPG was part of the presenting institution's faculty. Similar circumstance though.


(This post was edited by petsfed on Nov 20, 2006, 4:04 PM)


petsfed


Nov 20, 2006, 4:03 PM
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Re: [pinktricam] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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"Atheism too, I suppose is an act of faith which demands of its practitioners a sort of devotion. For they slouch through this world gray as a wraith and traipse off to hell with so little commotion.

Which is to say that what? Atheists are sad people for certain doomed to hell? My preferred interpretation of the bible STRONGLY implies that the only afterlife is paradise, and so if you fail to follow the path as God wants, you simply die. All of the garbage about punishment for sinners is not in there for the warning of infidels, but rather to encourage the believers that they are on the right path. Nothing in the old testament, or the teachings of Jesus himself suggest the existence of a realm of eternal punishment. This particular interpretation is interesting because it implies a much more fair and just God than most fire-and-brimstone evangelists would have you believe. That is to say, there are no apparent contradictions introduced by the concept of hell.


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Nov 21, 2006, 2:16 AM
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Re: [petsfed] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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You're right, petsfed. The bible doesn't say that if you don't believe, you'll be punished forever.

Jesus hardly ever spoke about life after death. Almost all of his teaching is about how we should live here and now.

If there's anywhere that he would disagree with guys like dawkins and phillips, it's only in that he believed we should tolerate and care for one another instead of attacking and trying to hurt people.


(This post was edited by tradman on Nov 21, 2006, 2:17 AM)


blondgecko
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Nov 21, 2006, 4:11 AM
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Re: [tradman] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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In reply to:
If there's anywhere that he would disagree with guys like dawkins and phillips, it's only in that he believed we should tolerate and care for one another instead of attacking and trying to hurt people.

Y'know, repeating yourself doesn't make what you say any more true.

Just thought you should know. Wink


blondgecko
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Nov 21, 2006, 4:16 AM
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You're right, petsfed. The bible doesn't say that if you don't believe, you'll be punished forever.

Well, apart from here, of course:

Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Rev 21:8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."


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Nov 21, 2006, 4:19 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Richard Dawkins, and many religious writers, are making a living out of attacking people's beliefs and how they live their lives.

I think that's a sad, mean little way to make a living, which benefits no-one.

I know you support and endorse those attacks, and I'm sure you have your reasons. The best I can do is support your right to say and believe what you like, no matter whether you do the same for me.


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Nov 21, 2006, 4:26 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Sigh.

"Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever".

Are you the devil? Are you a false prophet? No? Then you won't be punished for eternity, exactly as this passage says.

"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Exactly as petsfed said: "if you fail to follow the path as God wants, you simply die".

Nothing at all contentious in there.


petsfed


Nov 21, 2006, 8:32 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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In reply to:
In reply to:
You're right, petsfed. The bible doesn't say that if you don't believe, you'll be punished forever.

Well, apart from here, of course:

Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Rev 21:8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Those are the words of John of Patmos, not Jesus. I'm no Christian, and I don't readily buy into any Biblical account of anything, but the scrupulous reader will note that at no point do the Ten Commandments, the Rabbinical Code, or the teachings of Jesus mention a hell for sinners. Bear also in mind that this is a response to Evangelicals who tell me that agreeing with you dooms me to an eternity of punishment. This is not to somehow show that you're wrong. Just that the standard counterargument for atheism ("if you're wrong, you'll go to hell") isn't based on any doctrinal grounds, but instead an appeal to one's emotions. The god that punishes sinners with hell can not be trusted as a just god, and you can start to expect random, punitive, and unevenly distributed punishments, which is not what we're led to believe the big guy upstairs is like.


(This post was edited by petsfed on Nov 21, 2006, 8:44 AM)


blondgecko
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Nov 21, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Re: [tradman] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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Sigh.

"Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever".

Are you the devil? Are you a false prophet? No? Then you won't be punished for eternity, exactly as this passage says.

So a lake of fire exists, in which it is possible to be tortured "forever and ever".

In reply to:
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Exactly as petsfed said: "if you fail to follow the path as God wants, you simply die".

Nothing at all contentious in there.

Following almost immediately after the first, people are thrown into this lake. You say, "you simply die" - but what it says is "the second death". Obviously the first death wasn't permanent - what makes you think the second one would be?

Really, it's very easy to see how the doctrine of hell could arise from the Bible, and how people could feel they have full justification for it.


blondgecko
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Nov 21, 2006, 12:56 PM
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I know you support and endorse those attacks, and I'm sure you have your reasons. The best I can do is support your right to say and believe what you like, no matter whether you do the same for me.

Y'know, it would be great if once, just once, you could participate honestly in a debate. Seriously, I'm starting to think you're incapable of it.


petsfed


Nov 21, 2006, 1:02 PM
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Richard Dawkins, and many religious writers, are making a living out of attacking people's beliefs and how they live their lives.

I think that's a sad, mean little way to make a living, which benefits no-one.

I know you support and endorse those attacks, and I'm sure you have your reasons. The best I can do is support your right to say and believe what you like, no matter whether you do the same for me.

Conversely, they fight the good fight against the forces that would have us stop exploring when continued inquiries would be ideologically inconvenient. Its a big universe, far bigger than any of us can really fathom, so when a theory is left incomplete and has a "GODDIDIT" appended to the end of it, that's sloppy, and not terribly useful. Newton suggested that the reason the seemingly unstable orbits of the planets in the solar system did not collapse at the rate one would expect, he chalked it up to some divine force propping up the planets. A century later, Laplace actually explained how the orbits weren't actually unstable, they just looked that way, in a way that did not require an extra supernatural entity.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Steven Weinberg are all fighting so that we don't stop looking for the explanation. There will always be new mysteries in this universe, so stifling research for fear of "ruining" the wonder of it all is cowardice. More appropriately, appending "GODDIDIT" to the end of an unfinished theory is to find certainty where there is none. And in the end, saying with certainty that God is the explanation for some phenomenon is to rob us all of the wonder of not knowing why.

So I say let the science evangelists fight with the religion evangelists. Let them battle for our minds. So long as our teachers never say "its God's doing, you're wasting your time looking further", then the human race will be the better for it.


blondgecko
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Nov 21, 2006, 1:31 PM
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Re: [petsfed] Dawkins on tour [In reply to]
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^^^ Yeah, what he said.

As a budding engineer, there was one rule that was hammered into my head from the moment I first stepped foot into a lecture theatre. Given the acronym GIGO, it stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out.

No matter how well-constructed your model, no matter how perfectly designed your software system, if what you put in makes no sense, you can be certain that what comes out will also make no sense.

The more I see, the more convinced I become that this same principle applies to the human mind. Put in a few unsubstantiated core beliefs, and what do you get? A perfectly rational mind making perfectly rational decisions based on garbage inputs, leading to garbage (and sometimes downright dangerous and insane) effects.

Garbage in, garbage out.


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Nov 22, 2006, 1:58 AM
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Conversely, they fight the good fight against the forces that would have us stop exploring when continued inquiries would be ideologically inconvenient.

Oh, so they're heroes, valiantly battling an enemy who is trying to stop scientific research?

That's the biggest load of rubbish I've heard in a long time.

Nobody is trying to stop or ban science. Some people want the right to have and teach their own beliefs. But are they trying to stop scientists having or teaching theirs?

No.

We do, on the other hand, see scientists trying to stop others from having or teaching their own beliefs.

This entire thread is about a scientist whose whole career, what he's paid for, is attacking religion.

There's a group here which is going after another group, but you've got it the wrong way around.


jt512


Nov 22, 2006, 9:19 AM
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This entire thread is about a scientist whose whole career, what he's paid for, is attacking religion.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Jay


petsfed


Nov 22, 2006, 9:20 AM
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Conversely, they fight the good fight against the forces that would have us stop exploring when continued inquiries would be ideologically inconvenient.

Oh, so they're heroes, valiantly battling an enemy who is trying to stop scientific research?

That's the biggest load of rubbish I've heard in a long time.

Nobody is trying to stop or ban science. Some people want the right to have and teach their own beliefs. But are they trying to stop scientists having or teaching theirs?

No.

We do, on the other hand, see scientists trying to stop others from having or teaching their own beliefs.

This entire thread is about a scientist whose whole career, what he's paid for, is attacking religion.

There's a group here which is going after another group, but you've got it the wrong way around.

When the vox populi says that certain fields of research are not worth public funding, that relegates it to the private sector. But very simply put, the private sector does not have the means to create the laboratories that are necessary to test some controversial hypotheses. Best way to get the layman to not support funding that research? Show him that we already have the answer, and not only is further research pointless, its heresy. Am I exaggerating a bit? Perhaps. However, if we can convince our kids that certain field aren't worth investigating, there will not be any scientists to investigate it.

I gotta ask though, in Scotland, is it real problem if a public school teaches something contrary to the prevailing religious group? I mean, I heard about any such problems. So is it an issue? Or is this just a uniquely American problem? I mean, that would stand to reason, since all the "warriors" in this particular battle are American. Hell, the ICR is an American institution. Not to turn this into a nationalist thing, but I'm not certain you see the underlying jingoism that comes with fearing that my country my fall into the dark ages while the rest of the world thrives.

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