Sunday, May 15, 2011

Richard Dawkins refuses to debate the existence of God (or comment on his ‘professorship’)


There is a report in The Daily Telegraph that Dr Richard Dawkins has refused to debate the existence of God with one of the world’s leading Christian apologists and philosophers, Professor William Lane Craig.

Amidst allegations of ‘cowardice’, Dr Dawkins maintains that Professor Craig ‘is not a figure worthy of his attention and has reportedly said that such a contest would “look good” on his opponent’s CV but not on his own’. He said: “I have no intention of assisting Craig in his relentless drive for self-promotion.”

It speaks volumes for Richard Dawkins’ character (and academic priorities) that he only appears to debate with those who will somehow enhance his own career: if that does not constitute a ‘relentless drive for self-promotion’, His Grace is not sure what does. One of Dr Dawkins’ fellow academics at Oxford, Dr Daniel Came (a fellow atheist), has the measure of the man. He has written to Dr Dawkins, observing: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.” And he adds: “I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

His Grace’s readers and communicants may recall that His Grace engaged with Dr Dawkins a few years ago, in the context of Labour’s introduction of legislation prohibiting ‘hate speech’. His Grace asked the rhetorical question: ‘Should Richard Dawkins be arrested for inciting hatred?’

He is, after all, an eminent religiophobe and obsessive, every bit as fundamentalist as those religious adherents he seeks to disparage; propagating a creed which is very bit as intolerant as those theologies he seeks to debunk. Dr Dawkins responded, and then proceeded to goad His Grace for taking a few hours to make a further response (as though His Grace had nothing better to do). However, without any consideration at all of how the author of The God Delusion and relentless self-publicist might benefit from having debated with His Grace, a full response was made.

Clearly, Dr Dawkins couldn’t have been impressed, because all that followed was an onslaught of vitriolic invective and personal abuse from hordes of descending Dawkins disciples, one of whom (speaking of his master) enlightened us with: “He's got more knowledge in his left testicle than you lot have in your combined brains.” It has to be observed that Dr Dawkins tends to debate with similar impeccable and unanswerable logic (he simply said that an article His Grace had written was 'nasty'), and so one might understand why his towering sense of self has no desire to debate with the lowly Professor Craig.

But on the matter of CVs and the question of self-promotion, His Grace would like to probe a little...

The Telegraph article refers throughout to ‘Professor’ Richard Dawkins: this academic title is also invariably used by television and radio presenters, and Dr Dawkins has never sought to convey otherwise: that he is indeed a professor at Oxford University...

In 1970, a promising young scientist returned to Oxford to become a lecturer in the Department of Zoology. He had worked under a Nobel Laureate, Nikolaas Tinbergen, and had published a handful of low-impact papers, mostly about the pecking order of baby chicks. Over the next few years his scientific publications remained modest (and included an absurd speculation that neurone death might be a memory mechanism, published in Nature). But in 1976 he published a popular science book with a catchy title and his public profile went stratospheric.

The Selfish Gene took a scientific idea with an important grain of truth in it (‘Inclusive Fitness’) and elevated it to dogma. Supposedly, we are nothing but lumbering, dribbling bio-cyberbots controlled by our genes: we exist solely because of these, and selfishly reproduce ourselves through sex in order to populate the world with hordes of mini-mes. The book coincided with the rise of materialism and individualism, and became sacred writ to a generation of selfish go-getters.

Richard Dawkins had discovered his métier: a writer of populist science books with a certain socio-political agenda. Having contributed one-and-a-half moderately interesting ideas to evolutionary theory (the ‘Evolutionary Arms Race’ and the ‘Extended Phenotype’), he published very little primary science, becoming a scientific commentator and populariser. His scientific career rather stalled – he was only appointed Reader in 1990. However, in 1995 an admirer (who had made some serious money from Microsoft) made Oxford University and offer they couldn’t refuse, and handsomely endowed a professorship for (not 'of') Public Understanding of Science with the express intention that the first holder should be Richard Dawkins.

As an Oxford professor, free to preach and publish without being a drain on University funds, Richard Dawkins strutted the international stage. He collected sundry honorary doctorates and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society at the relatively late age of 61. In 2006 he launched his broadside The God Delusion. This grossly overstated diatribe attracted very mixed reviews even from his admirers, and scathing reviews from his opponents (Terry Eagleton famously compared it to ‘a book on biology written by someone whose sole knowledge of the subject was acquired from reading The Book of British Birds’). By 2009, John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale could write that ‘a number of serious scientists have come to the view that, by taking shrill positions that go well beyond his area of expertise, Dawkins is bringing science into disrepute’ (Questions of Truth p30, unchallenged in any academic review).

Richard Dawkins retired from his professorship in 2008, but his fame spreads and he continues to be referred to, wrongly, as Professor Dawkins. However, his basic scientific dogma is now fraying badly at the edges.

Firstly, it is now clear, contrary to what was supposed in the 1970s, that genes, although important, are not nearly as important as people then imagined. The human genome is much smaller than was surmised, and much smaller than the genomes of far simpler organisms (maize, for example). The idea that there is ‘a gene for X’ which underlies most of Dr Dawkins’ thinking is ludicrously over-simplistic: genes always act through extremely complex biological networks involving hundreds or even thousands of other genes, and every gene appears to be involved in a myriad of such networks. It is now quite clear that much of inheritance is ‘epigenetic’, ie not done through the genes at all (epigenetics is a rapidly-developing field of research). Nor are these non-genetic effects matters of minor significance: it is known from twin studies that 80 per cent of variation in stature is inherited, but only about 16 per cent of this can be traced to genetic causes.

Secondly, first-rate scientists are making it increasingly clear that Dr Dawkins’ simplistic views don’t hold water at a biological level. Denis Noble (elected FRS at 43, and currently President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences) has persuasively rebutted Dr Dawkins' proposals, most notably in his book The Music of Life, along with subsequent scientific articles. John Polkinghorne (elected FRS at 44) and Simon Conway-Morris (FRS at 39) have also been effective critics. And recently two world renowned Harvard biologists, EO Wilson and Martin Nowak, demonstrated that the whole idea of ‘Inclusive Fitness’ is, at best, an approximation that is almost never accurate, and can be quite wrong in significant cases.

So, when we hear the shrill voice of Dr Richard Dawkins bleating about Professor Craig’s ‘relentless drive for self-promotion’, and rejecting the debasement of his eminent CV by debating with the distinguished Christian apologist, we should remember this: Richard Dawkins never contributed much to science; his Oxford chair was bought for him by a rich admirer; and the scientific ideas upon which he built his reputation are increasingly discredited. Those beguiled by his diatribes are listening neither to the voice of reason nor science.

Dr Richard Dawkins ought to feel honoured that such a distinguished professor of theology as William Lane Craig should seek to debate with him; and be grateful that his CV might thereby be enhanced. The doctor’s relentless drive for self-promotion needs no further encouragement.

236 Comments:

Blogger Richard Gadsden said...

Former professors, unless stripped of their title, are professor emeritus and retain the right to the style of professor.

I disagree with little else of your Grace's commentary, aside from the common mischaracterisation of the Selfish Gene - the whole point of the book is to demonstrate that the gene can be advanced without the particular organism being selfish, and thus that selfish genes do not mean selfish people.

Dawkins' skills in biology are as a populariser, a dissemnator and as a synthesiser, not as a cutting-edge researcher.

In atheism, he provides the useful extreme voice that creates the space in which more moderate sensible voices can operate without being misunderstood as extreme. Having an atheist who attacks religion without understanding it makes you appreciate the ones who do bother to understand it!

15 May 2011 at 11:27  
Blogger mongoose said...

All of science, YG, "is, at best, an approximation that is almost never accurate, and can be quite wrong in significant cases." That is what science is. It is our best approximation that has yet to be disproved. Look, if you care to, at Newton's beautiful theory of gravitation. It is quite wrong but is so very nearly right that it was accurate enough to last just the four hundred years and it will get you anywhere you want to go this side of Alpha Centauri.

15 May 2011 at 11:31  
Anonymous LDS said...

Fighting talk! I am surprised you have not been descended on by the disciples but maybe they are not up yet. After all they don't have morning service to go to. Perhaps I should pop across to Clear Thinking Oasis and post a link.....remembering the last time perhaps not.

15 May 2011 at 11:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Wasn't it Einstein who said scientists make bad philosophers? Certainly, Dawkins is evidence of that. Serious philosophers - including atheists - have shown again and again how bad Dawkins' work is on the question of God. It's an indication of the intellectual poverty of contemporary popular atheism, that Dawkins has been so lauded by them.

I was wondering if a debate with Craig would result in the end of the Dawkins brand. But I think not - his disciples seem so blind that ironically, no evidence would convince them that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

15 May 2011 at 11:47  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

The problem many Christian theologist have, is this confusion between Jesus and God.

Jesus may be all of the things Christians believe, however he may not. Debating this particular issue with someone as profoundly blinkered as Dawkins, is therefore falling directly into his trap.

When theologians debate the existence or otherwise of God, they should concentrate their argument on the evidence for a spiritual higher intelligence, or Divine governance rather then the finer details contained in Biblical texts.

As the mind of an atheist is closed enough already, there is little point in putting it completely asleep, by quoting various pieces of scripture.

This however relevant and enlightening they may be, because people like Dawkins can not be enlightened, because they have deluded themselves into genuinely believing that they are gods themselves.

The rather worse then crazy theory that goes by the name of Evolution by natural selection, is an excellent place to start. As debating same quickly puts people like Dawkins on the back foot, defending their own indefensible dogma.

Evolution by natural selection alone has so many giant sized holes in it, that it becomes more air-space then substance, the more one looks into it properly.

This is why people like Dawkins are still having to go on lecture tours defending a theory that is well in excess of 100 years old, and has been taught as fact in all of our state schools for at least 50 years.

If Evolution by Natural Selection was such a cast iron theory, it would not have to be defended by anyone by now. It does because it is not a cast iron theory anymore then Newtons laws of physics were once believed to have been. Which have now been shown to be nothing of the kind, but just an over simplification of a vastly bigger picture.

Modern science, as in quantum physics, now makes absolutely everything and anything scientifically possible. Indeed the stranger the theory the more it seems likely it is to be closer to the truth of the matter.

Modern science, not the 19th century type Richard Dawkins seems to have his peanut sized mind fixated on, has potentially turned absolutely everything up-side down, very much including evolution by natural selection being the entire explanation of mans existence on this or any other planet.

15 May 2011 at 11:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Craig accidentally debated Dawkins in Mexico last year. Craig came across as a rationalist while Dawkins could only appeal to emotion. Now wonder Dawkins has been ducking this guy. Craig has taken on Hitchens, Harris, Atkins and made them look like fools.

15 May 2011 at 11:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point of information:

Maize has such a complex genome because of its highly complex origins with both wild maize and human-selected cultivated varieties that subsequently hybridised with one another. Plants generally can hybridise much more freely than animals, and thus produce more complex genomes. The matter of 'simplicity' is also very debatable when comparing plants and animals. So maize v. human doesn't make a good example if for some reason you want to show that simple organisms do or do not have simpler geonomes (why is that relevant anyway?)

15 May 2011 at 12:01  
Blogger Simon Harley said...

Your Grace, you may wish to correct the soundbite from Dr. Dawkins at the side of your page which reads:

""Cranmer...is very nasty indeed."
Professor Richard Dawkins, Oxford University, Clear-Thinking Oasis (2010)"

15 May 2011 at 12:06  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Simon Harley,

His Grace had corrected. Bless you. He did wonder for a moment whether you were referring to 'Clear-Thinking Oasis'.

15 May 2011 at 12:14  
Anonymous len said...

Prof Dawkin`s stands as a sort of figurehead for Atheists, a point to rally around.
Your Grace has exposed their leader ,prepare for the onslaught!.
It says a lot about the'theology'of the Prof that he doesn`t appear to think it will stand scrutiny (unlike Christianity.)

Atheism seems to stem from a lack of knowledge/and/or a denial of the truth.To expose this fact seems to be more than Atheists can bear!.

15 May 2011 at 12:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

There are a number of debates by Craig available on youtube if anyone is interested. I suppose to some extent people hear what they want to hear and I wasn't that impressed with his arguments, but hey.

But anyway, I quite like His Grace's interpretation of what the Selfish Gene says about us. Again, I think one tends to interpret according to one's pre-existing views to some extent. I didn't get that out of it at all.

15 May 2011 at 13:03  
Anonymous Yakoub said...

A thorough deconstruction of Dawkins, although I agree with the comment that he is indeed an Emeritus Professor, although in my view he has served the public face of science not one jot.

15 May 2011 at 13:10  
Blogger Eddy Anderson said...

A fine character assassination. But, isn't there something ironic about a blogger who calls himself 'His Grace' criticizing a former professor at Oxford for continuing to use his academic title?

Still, I agree with you on the matter of self-promotion--although, again, some bloggers are not much better (see page right) . . .

15 May 2011 at 13:21  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

It seems to me the likes of Dawkin's are 'necessary' in developing our understanding of the wonders of God's creation.

The more science reveals about the complexity of the universe the more we face a stark choice - random chance or predetermined design?

The same applies on the social level - has history a teleological direction or is it random acts?

Interestingly, the likes of Dawkin's shallow thinking helps to reaffirm and not undermine, my faith in a God. The question then becomes has God revealed Himself and by what means?

Science, as a search for material truth, should understand and accept its limits. It will invariably hit a wall of unknowing. It can seek to push the boundaries of human knowledge but ultimately it will confront a dead-end.

Then it faces either a non-materialist'search' for God or an acceptance we and our history are simply the results of random events since the 'big bang'.

Materialism, secularism and individualism are consequences of the 'reformation' and the 'enlightenment'. They give us all free will and a freedom of choice between God or man.

Isn't that "The Way God Planned It"?

15 May 2011 at 13:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "Atheism seems to stem from a lack of knowledge/and/or a denial of the truth."

Well, you're sort of correct in a way with the first part but that's a positive not a negative.

One of Craig's arguments in favour of God (note the detail implied there) is that time-space requires a timeless, immaterial thing to deliberately start it off.

I don't know what that thing is, or how far the chain of cause and effect goes back to the first cause. So I don't claim any knowledge of it.

But theists do! It's a matter of tRuTh to them and they're all certain of it and of the subsequent detail whether the timeless thing is Allah, or Krishna, or Jehovah, or whatever.

Essentially, I withhold certainty until I do actually know, and I accept it may be impossible to know. Truth (the normal meaning of it rather than the borrowed meaning by theists to bestow some sort of legitimacy) is contingent.

"It says a lot about the'theology'of the Prof that he doesn`t appear to think it will stand scrutiny (unlike Christianity.)"

The trouble with a debate like that, as Dawkins knows, is that they won't even be able to agree the starting terms so finding holes in the subsequent arguments is ultimately pointless and exasperating.

15 May 2011 at 13:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Materialism, secularism and individualism are consequences of the 'reformation' and the 'enlightenment'. They give us all free will and a freedom of choice between God or man."

Assuming we can actually have free will in the first place ...

15 May 2011 at 13:23  
Anonymous graham wood said...

It is interesting to reflect for a moment on the experience of one time atheist Professor Anthony Flew, a very active advocate.
That is until his conversion to Christianity not long before his death at an advanced age in 2010 so overturning his own lifelong held beliefs.
One of the leading arguments he then directed against his erstwhile atheist colleagues centered on their evolutionary determinism as an explanation of human life and origins generally.
What finally struck him as irrefutable was the observable fact of human rationality, self consciousness, and the capacity to reason, and an aesthetic sense.
He argued that these simply could not emerge from non-rational genes.
As for Dawkins, it is also interesting that the Bible does not waste time or effort debating the subject of atheism. It simply declares tersely that it is "the fool" (that is the naive, or stupid person) who says in his heart that there is no God.

I strongly suspect, but do not know, if Dawkins has an explanation for Flew's conclusion either!

15 May 2011 at 13:34  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Einstein, I am told, said that energy and mass are equivalent; the universe is an ocean of energy.

However in so far as science believes, there are no nerve cells in the depths of matter so a god or innumerable hosts of gods are not ‘mindful’ in a literal sense, they are I believe (until demonstrably proven to be otherwise), simply manifestions constructed by humans to fill a gap in our understanding of the phenomena of all life and its place or relevance in the world and universe.

I agree with the proposition that
there is nothing in the energy beyond the Planck Length that can judge or be judged. The world is made of particles and fields of energy rather than angels or demons and saints. The particles or filaments of energy do not possess mind or character so there is nothing that can hear or understand prayers. The idea that miracles sometimes occur following prayer and the intervention of saints cannot be sustained. In some ways the existence of a god depends on the language used to define Him/Her.
If we say that God is ‘the forces of nature as a whole’,- ok , if that’s the side on which you dress, I would agree ‘God’ exists*; to me, it’s just an easy word for a complex conundrum, for the forces of nature form everything that is in the universe. If we say that God is a human-like figure curled up inside an atom or floating around in outer space, it is harder to say that God exists. ‘God* ‘is a physical system like a river or ocean rather than a mindful supernatural deity. There is a celestial river but the water that flows downstream does not know what is floating within it. I agree with what Richard Dawkins has to say about evolution. There is a wealth of evidence that supports the theory of evolution, including anatomical, behavioural, and genetic similarities between different species in the animal kingdom.

But Dear Len, please don’t offend my atheist sensitivities by saying that as being atheist I am closed minded,far from it: its just that nothing I hear from any religion has convinced me to abandon scientific research results in favour of blind faith.

15 May 2011 at 14:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Dreadnought

However in so far as science believes, there are no nerve cells in the depths of matter so a god or innumerable hosts of gods are not ‘mindful’ in a literal sense etc.

God in classical theism isn't an object in the physical universe. Rather he is the cause of the physical universe. You cannot therefore infer from the fact that the universe has no nerve cells to the conclusion that God or gods are not mindful.

Hence the following is probably just reflecting a category mistake:

its just that nothing I hear from any religion has convinced me to abandon scientific research results in favour of blind faith.

15 May 2011 at 14:26  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

The Oxford University website seems to think that Dawkins is still entitled to be called "professor":

http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/previous-holders-simonyi-professorship/professor-richard-dawkins

I suppose they must know.

As for Professor Craig, having now read some of his articles I don't think the Dawk has much to be scared of. If he really is "the foremost apologist for Christian theism", then it's not looking good for Christian theism.

15 May 2011 at 14:26  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Dreadnaught said:
"nothing I hear from any religion has convinced me to abandon scientific research results in favour of blind faith."

Perhaps you can enlighten this Blog as to what you mean by "blind" faith please?

15 May 2011 at 14:31  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Danjo said ...

"Assuming we can actually have free will in the first place."

We can always choose to act or not act on our drives and desires.

15 May 2011 at 14:37  
Blogger William said...

What Professor Craig is extremely good at demonstrating is that theism is entirely rational. Given that one of the main tenets of aggressive atheism is the irrationality of religion, I am not surprised that Dawkins has declined.

15 May 2011 at 14:41  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

I'll try Mr W

First select your hypothesis; believe in it as absolute truth, then condemn all detractors to death.

15 May 2011 at 14:46  
Blogger Albert said...

As was said of the Craig vs Hitchens debate on the Common Sense Atheism

Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.

Could Dawkins survive such a thrashing?

15 May 2011 at 14:52  
Anonymous graham wood said...

graham wood said...

Dreadnaught said:
"nothing I hear from any religion has convinced me to abandon scientific research results in favour of blind faith."

Perhaps you can enlighten this Blog as to what you mean by "blind" faith please?

To which Dreadnaught replied:

I'll try Mr W......
First select your hypothesis; believe in it as absolute truth, then condemn all detractors to death.

GW
And an example of your hypothesis would be......?

15 May 2011 at 14:56  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

God is mind.
Mind creates ideas.
Ideas create materialism.
Materialism does not exist per se.
Our perceptions are the language and tools of ideas.
The world is created out of regularly occurring ideas.
The teapot in front of me is a collection of ideas.
Dr Dawkins in no more than an idea.
Dr Dawkins is a teapot.

15 May 2011 at 15:00  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

William said...
"What Professor Craig is extremely good at demonstrating is that theism is entirely rational."

Rational yes, but believing in a particular revealed God requires Faith. Otherwise all 'religions' are somehow equal and rational.

Christian Faith is a freely given gift from God which we can choose to accept or reject. Then we have to attempt to understand the revelation; something Christians have disagreed about for 2000 years!

15 May 2011 at 15:01  
Blogger Jack said...

I imagine Dawkins doesn't debate with people who believe in fairies either.

Dawkins is demonstrably correct in his casual dismissal of Craig. Craig has a thoroughly undeserved reputation as some sort of great Christian thinker, but even a cursory look at the man's desperate, hand-waving, fallacious and unoriginal jabberings (not least his recent thoroughly shameful and frankly wicked justifications of God's biblical mass homicides and infanticides) reveals that he's just another screamingly irrational religious nutcase with just enough of a gift for rhetorical flourishes to impress those who already want to be impressed. Such people are either fools or wilfully blinkered to the pitiful impoverishment of Craig's thinking.

15 May 2011 at 15:08  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Mr W

If God didn't exist 'man would invent one - discuss (with yourself).

15 May 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Danjo said ...

"Assuming we can actually have free will in the first place."

We can always choose to act or not act on our drives and desires."

Just 14 words to completely dismiss an age-old philosophical question.

15 May 2011 at 15:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Jack,

fallacious and unoriginal jabberings

For example?

15 May 2011 at 15:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dreadnaught: "The idea that miracles sometimes occur following prayer and the intervention of saints cannot be sustained."

That is such a heinous and horrible idea on it's own when you think about it that I couldn't stomach a belief in a 'something' that includes it whether the 'something' turns out to be true or not.

15 May 2011 at 15:27  
Anonymous tesco said...

"I don't know what that thing is, or how far the chain of cause and effect goes back to the first cause. So I don't claim any knowledge of it.

But theists do! It's a matter of tRuTh to them and they're all certain of it and of the subsequent detail whether the timeless thing is Allah, or Krishna, or Jehovah, or whatever."

....some do, but that doesn't (or at least needn't) tar all religion with the same brush. I think religion always looks foolish when it tries to address science on its own 'turf' - cause/effect etc. These are scientific terms with a beautiful and particular history.

The terms of religion are different. Religion might be charachterised as a 'speech-act' (Bruno Latour): a practice of unique patterns and 'sayings' that seek to transform people in the present (locally). Truth becomes this 'transformation'.

Religion is therefore invented (shock horror!!!), but nevertheless it can testify to a greater truth.

Science too might be regarded as an invention - its written norms and lab equiptment are clearly our invention. And yet in scientific 'discovery' we can (rightly) attest to something greater: to truth.

We needn't tread upon each others toes and pit one 'truth' against another, but appreciate two very distinct practices that were never intended to meet!!

Religion needn't speak of the far-reaching cosmos in order to function. And science needn't try to 'debunk' the local transformation of a person's life.

I can speak of God and still know nothing! But it may also be that Dawkins should speak of science and also (should he have the humility) admit to the limits of his knowledge too.

15 May 2011 at 15:34  
Blogger mongoose said...

To paraphrase - for scientists there are no answers, for believers there are no questions. The bit which irritates scientists - and Dawkins apparently more than most - is the attempt some make to form a rational case for religion. "Rational" here used in the scientific sense as meaning something based on hypothesis, experiment and measurement. To say that our understanding of the universe is a jigsaw with a piece or two missing is just a truism. It doesn't mean - to a scientist - that God makes up the missing bits. It always ends up at the point beyond which we can currently understand and therefore God must have done it. (That is a crude one line precis for which I apologise but it is where the argument rests - and will always rest.)

A man might say that God created the universe. A scientist will ask "What evidence is there to support your assertions a) that there is a God and b) that He created the universe?" He or she will not mean this unkindly. He is merely asking. He does not dispute your belief in God - which is based on faith not the rational execution of the scientific method. He just says that you have no experimentally repeatable evidence and that therefore your hypothesis currently falls.

Science is just a systematic attempt to describe nature. It knows not nor cares in which direction it goes. It has nothing to do with God and this is where Dawkins is in error. Scientists should though resist as strongly as they have the wit to do so the encroachment of cant and nonsense into science. And religion for its part can and should stand on its own feet and needs not to pretend to be a (scientifically) rational argument. Usher is long dead, my friends, leave it alone and get ye to Evensong, and fear not for He may be with ye.

15 May 2011 at 15:38  
Anonymous Paul said...

A pox on Dawkins ! He is an atheistic fascist and self promoter !

15 May 2011 at 15:53  
Blogger English Viking said...

Dawkins is a tit of the first order. I once saw him make a total mess of trying to explain the improbability of RNA and DNA coming into existence as the same time, in the same place, without a Creator. He eventually admitted that he couldn't explain it, but 'it just did'.

If this is the best the Atheists have got, there's nothing to worry about.

What a nob.

15 May 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

mongoose: "Science is just a systematic attempt to describe nature. It knows not nor cares in which direction it goes. It has nothing to do with God and this is where Dawkins is in error."

Is that what Dawkins actually does? Perhaps I ought to go and read around his works a bit more but it seems to me that he's doing two main things.

1. He's using science to push back into areas where religion has encroached. For instance, he's using the theory of evolution through natural selection to present a viable and likely explanation of the complexity of organisms. This is his Blind Watchmaker retort to Paley's watch analogy. Is that a reasonable thing to do? I think so.

2. He tries to undermine the basis of various god hypotheses as an attack on the founding premises of any religious argument about morality. That is, he tries to stop what might be an internally valid argument being treated as a sound one.

The religious sometimes make strident statements about what ought or ought not to be done. Science is about 'is' or 'is not' rather than 'ought' or 'ought not'. So, strictly speak the two things ought to be separate.

If a Christian says that something is morally wrong then somewhere along the line he is saying "this is wrong because my god says so, and my god is the highest authority".

What a 'negative' atheist says is that whatever the basis for 'ought' or 'ought not', it is not the Christian one unless there is good, solid reasons to believe in the existence of the Christian god and by extension the argument for its morality.

Therefore, arguing against the various attempts to prop up a belief in the Christian god seems like a reasonable thing to do to me as long as it is in terms of our shared understanding of the world.

Afterall, one must ground moral arguments at some point and it is a common technique to appeal to a shared understanding of what is a Good Thing and then argue from that to show for instance that people have inconsistent approaches to similar things.

15 May 2011 at 16:09  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mongoose,

...for believers there are no questions.

Actually belief tends to raise plenty of questions. Most modern science comes out of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity because they were the ones that cared to ask how and why God's creation works.

..."Rational" here used in the scientific sense as meaning something based on hypothesis, experiment and measurement.

Except rationalism has nothing to do with the scientific method (something invented by a Muslim and developed by the Christians btw). Rationalism is about logic. If something is logically nonsensical or fallacious then it is irrational. The hypothesis for God is rational because there are many logically sound arguments for his existence (e.g. teleological argument). Claiming that the Universe has always existed is scientifically incorrect, therefore claiming that nothing brought it into existence (being as nothing can cause its own existence) is irrational. Whatever form of creator you believe in is rational, but it is irrational to believe in none whatsoever. DanJ0, for example believes in some sort of creator but rejects the notion that he has revealed himself. This isn't irrational, even though he classifies himself as an atheist.

DanJ0,

"this is wrong because my god says so, and my god is the highest authority"

We've been over why this is wrong so many times, yet you still believe it. That is an example of irrationality; refusing to listen to the beliefs of the people you criticise. I won't tell you again because you won't listen.

15 May 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous len said...

God has ordained a way for people to know Him, and to approach Him.

But for someone( for whatever reason)to decide on their own way of deciding on the 'validity 'of God (or not),and then deciding in a fit of petulance that God 'cannot exist' is foolishness, or is it just 'plain old pride'?

Science may go a long way to explaining the material World but it is completely in the dark regarding spiritual matters.
Regarding the matter of'blind faith,'well, I find it quite insulting to stereotype Christians in this way!.
Faith is certainly not blind but is the SUBSTANCE of things not seen.(Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.)

Now the scientific mind(some would say the carnal mind)cannot grasp this concept, and because it cannot understand it, rejects it.But rejecting Truth(capital T Danjo :)doesn`t make it disappear or invalidate it!.

15 May 2011 at 16:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lakester: "I won't tell you again because you won't listen."

Phew. Some might say that that alone is evidence of an intervening god.

15 May 2011 at 16:34  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

DanJ0 said...

"Danjo said ...
"Assuming we can actually have free will in the first place."

Dodo said ...
"We can always choose to act or not act on our drives and desires."

Danjo said ...
"Just 14 words to completely dismiss an age-old philosophical question."

There's nothing 'philosophical' about it. Social or biological determinism is a fanciful excuse. One may be pre-disposed towards something but choosing to act on the impulse or not is surely what makes us human.

I am heterosexual and choose to stay faithful to my wife. Biologically I may be driven to spred my 'seed' more widely and from time to time feel the impulse to do so.

We live in a society that actually encourages and condones such behaviour. However, acting on the social and biological pressures is something I choose not to do.

The same applies to those with 'objective disorders' i.e nyphomania, paedophilia or homosexuality. Having a tendency does not make acting on it moral.

15 May 2011 at 16:37  
Anonymous Gerard Tibercross said...

Einstein famously attacked Le Maitre, who first came up with Big Bang theory, and the maths to support it, for proposing an astrophysical theory because it was in line with his religious belief. In the end the highly regarded scientist Hubble proved the Right Reverend Monsignor Georges Le Maitre SJ to be right, just as another noted scientist, Gallileo, proved the Reverend Canon Nicolai Copernic right.

Sorry, can't stay to enjoy the bunfight - I'm off to Evensong (for which thank you Your Grace).

15 May 2011 at 16:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lakester: "DanJ0, for example believes in some sort of creator but rejects the notion that he has revealed himself. This isn't irrational, even though he classifies himself as an atheist."

I do?

Listen up, accepting that there may possibly be some sort of creating entity or process is not the same as believing in a creator. I simply don't know and I suspect we will never know. What I do know is that I'm not going to make up or buy into a very detailed, human-oriented interventionist, benevolent deity idea to fill in the gap.

15 May 2011 at 16:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "There's nothing 'philosophical' about it. Social or biological determinism is a fanciful excuse. One may be pre-disposed towards something but choosing to act on the impulse or not is surely what makes us human.2

We're not even talking the same language here. That's not what the free will thing is about. It's much more fundamental than that.

15 May 2011 at 16:42  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

YG,

Please publish the e-mail address of 'Professor' Dawkins's left testicle. If it's as clever as its proponent suggests then perhaps we should be corresponding with it rather than you.

15 May 2011 at 16:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "The same applies to those with 'objective disorders' i.e nyphomania, paedophilia or homosexuality. Having a tendency does not make acting on it moral."

The idea of an 'objective disorder' is a statement of faith. That is, it's ultimately meaningless to an atheist except solely in the context of Catholic thinking. To me, it's an indication of the corrupting and unpleasant influence of the Church to encourage that sort of worldview.

15 May 2011 at 16:53  
Blogger prziloczek said...

Darwin lived at the tail end of Newtonian Science. What he reluctantly said fitted in well at the time.
Today, post Einstein, post the Black Holes, post the definition of DNA and in the world of the mysterious atoms and their inner workings, he is years out of date.
Darwin is as much history as is the British Empire.

15 May 2011 at 16:58  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The Dawkins delusion results from churchianities desire to make God in its own image.

A battle of Words would prove no more and no less than what the bible claims to be true.

In the begining was the Word

Dawkins makes a living out of the Word and so does the Church.

15 May 2011 at 17:00  
Blogger mongoose said...

Darwin was about as right as Newton, Mr Przlioczek, and that should be good enough for any scientist.

My previous was very narrow. I did not stray anywhere near the spiritual or the moral. Science doesn't do that. Just as there are scientists who believe in religions, so there are moral and immoral scientists, spiritually embracing and not. The science stands apart from the person. I even took great pains to explain what I was meaning when I used the word rational - the opposite not meant to be an insult.

I shall just take Mr English Viking's point (because it seemed not to be aimed at me). That was the notion that RNA and DNA might have developed at the same time. I know nothing abut the truth or otherwise of his assertion but I'll take temporary issue with its apparent improbability. Two fantastically complex and scientifically wonderful things turn up this afternoon - RNA and DNA. That is vanishingly improbable. Here on earth this afternoon. It ain't gonna happen.

But there are maybe a few hundred billion galaxies in the universe, and maybe each has a few hundred billion stars, and the universe has existed for 14 billion years. Given that there are 365 afternoons in a year, that makes something like fifty-million-billion-billion-billion star-afternoons for something improbable to happen. (Somebody check the arithmetic.) And we only need it to happen just the once, here in our solar system. The scale and enormity of nature belittles our attempts to wrestle with the numbers. These are too big for us to grasp. Scientists understand this and resist the temptation to say "Wow, God must have done that." Billion-year-old carbon is what we are, and if that ain't spiritual enough for you, y'all ought to get out more.

I'll now go away and leave you alone.

15 May 2011 at 17:28  
Blogger Gnostic said...

It seems to me that discussing the peevish and arrogantly authoritarian squeakings of Dickie Dawkins is merely giving oxygen to his overactive publicity whore gene. His entire media career appears to be an excercise in critical thought failure. He is on a par with the ranting, evangelical bigots he so publicly sneers at. Now there's irony for you.

15 May 2011 at 18:01  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Words are crucial to capturing peoples imaginations, religion is not here to debate the exitence of God but to demonstrate how it can offer us a better social structure than Dawkins can give.

Poetic Justice and Legal Fiction by Jonathan Kertzer

Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation by Bernard M. Levinson

The Articles of Configuration by Carl D. Armstrong

The Time of the Christ by S. Scott Jones

These are the kind of fields Judeo-Christianity should involve itself in, if it wishes to capture the imagininations of a new generation.

Not wasting their breath exchanging something as sacred as the Word on Dawkins.

15 May 2011 at 18:07  
Anonymous Jabez Bunting said...

Ah, carbon. Now the odds that when the weak, electromagnetic, gravitational and strong forces were set in Planck time (the first microseconds after the Big Bang), they were fixed at precisely those values (and only those will do) that permitted three helium atoms to "fuse" billions of years later in the immense heat and pressure of dying stars to from carbon - without which no rna/dna, no life - are astronomical. These values were finely calibrated (as one might say). "Just happened?" I think not.

15 May 2011 at 18:12  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

I have to smile at the arrogance of people like Mr Dawkins, in apparently thinking that they are the only ones to have proposed that there is no God. That attitude tends to assume that all who have gone before were too stupid to have had those thoughts. And, yet, after whatver thousands of years of mankind's existence, there is God, still with us and still looking down on the believers and the unbelievers; the wise and the stupid. I don't think in the scheme of things, Mr Dawkins and people like him, matter that much. Except to God, of course.

15 May 2011 at 18:20  
Anonymous Simon said...

Is You Grace a little ungracious about the use of the title professor? You seem to have taken definition so narrow that an owner of Punch and Judy show could no longer be a professor.

15 May 2011 at 18:25  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Lakester thinks it a legitimate claim that religions can take credit for science? Hogwash!

What price Copernicus for instance or for the products of the Chinese, Greek or Roman technology. These cultures did not exist in some kind of vaccuum of ignorance.

Humans make for science - not religions.
Look at the expansion of Islam for instance - how much 'science' did Mohamad take with him to the' ignorant' kuffars of Persia, Babylon, Samaria, Phoenecia, Asia and beyond?

Zippo - Zilch, that's how much.

The fact that conquered countries surrendered their knowledge to the invaders does not in any way legitimise Islam's misapropriation of their scientific canon either then or now. The following text illustrates what happens if so called cultural development is formed not from standing on the shoulders of giants but by standing on the toes of pygmies.

'Dr. Usama Hasan, an imam who also happens to be a physicist at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was forced to cancel a lecture on “Islam and the theory of evolution” because of death threats ... expressing regret over his comments. “I seek Allah’s forgiveness for my mistakes and apologise for any offence caused,” the statement read'

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/islam-and-evolution-cowed-muslim-scientist-cancels-lecture-on-evolution/.

Strange bed fellows religions and science - if they ever were. BTW, Just what for instance does he think Islam/Christianity/Judaeism etc, scientifically gifted to mankind?

The Assyrians - Agriculture for sure; the Egyptians,Greeks,Phonecians, Romans, Chinese?... - how about - Medicine, Chemistry, Mathmatics, Geometery, Trigonometry; Astronomy, Philosophy, Navigation, Civil Engineering. These were the products of cultures - not religions.

The Muslim tyrannies merely appropriated knowledge, rather than by contributing to it, apart from ... how to pitch a tent or milk a camel in a sand-storm perhaps?

15 May 2011 at 19:01  
Blogger Albert said...

Dreadnaught,

There's a good deal of discussion of the origins of science and religion. You might like to consult Stark's For the Glory of God.

The question naturally arises as to why it is from deeply Christian Europe that a developed science emerges - on a scale not found elsewhere. Why is it that so many early scientists were Christians? Why do they assume the universe will operate according to "law"? Why do they use the language of "laws"? The answer is that they assumed, as Christian believers, that the universe would behave according to will of a creative mind, who imposed his "law" on the universe. The mindless reality of atheism, or the competing minds of polytheism would seem to suggest chaos - monotheism assumes order, and that is what the Bible teaches.

This is not to say the relationship between religion and science has always been a happy one (though the relationship between atheism and science has not always been happy either).

The fact that conquered countries surrendered their knowledge to the invaders does not in any way legitimise Islam's misapropriation of their scientific canon either then or now.

I'm just wondering which countries you have in mind.

15 May 2011 at 19:20  
Anonymous non mouse said...

I cannot imagine where, how, or why the atheistic horde has developed its inordinate faith in:
"human" sensory perception
"human" 'intellect'
"human" 'accomplishment'
"human" words.
Their thoroughly modern logic escapes me; it bears no relation to my empirical evidence.

I am also gobsmacked at the self-congratulation that 'underpins' perception of themselves as the glory of a glorious universe.

I could be insulted at their suggestion that anyone should want to live forever in their supposed 'creation'! By the Mercy and Grace of God, however, we get to die and leave them to it. Or at least so I hope and pray, because more of the same would be unimaginable Hell.

If I have time, before I go, I might read Paradise Lost, once more :).

... And so to Evensong. Thank you, Your Grace.

15 May 2011 at 19:28  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I think I know what it is like when your local sunday league teams wins the FA cup due to man utd staying in the changing rooms as its the wrong sort of weather . I feel like having a post goal celebration around my room!.

Your grace does a nice job. The selfish gene was a book that took Darwin into genetics , just as Darwin noted differences in Galapogos finchs bills to utilise different food sources , the Dawkins put in place a scientifically derived driver for the genetics (I would add that he was not the first though to consider the implications of genetics).The selfish gene is an antithiest idea ,genes are selfish prof Dawkins expects us all to see it is so obvious , as a great deal of Biological workings seem preditary/territorial. He even proposed the first glance takeup of christian giving is mere altruism for enhanced group genetic protection.
This pointed out that genes in intelligent animals relied on problem solving abilities which allowed man to rise and conquer his enviroment.
Perhaps his most offensive observation was how by placing strong localised electrical fields near certain parts of the cranium we could lose motorneurone controls in a sort of reverse miracle.
The sheer scale of time/lifeforms involved in Darwin always does exspounge human belief in god.
For me Darwin was a man with question , he studied and observed and arrived at a process of life and enviroment, he assumed this was somthing THAT COULD be independent and have no god ,hence the shock of it in its day.
The christian sciencetist have been struggling for some time with this obersvational proof vs internal light of God.Even neuroscience has attempted to prove it is brain mere trickery.
There is the further argument of what Dawkins appears to see, as escape from stition , seeing god believers as anchored to some old belief and ubliberated enough, to not see his perspective ergo perhaps he does think we are beneath his mighty theory.
But that is just the problem for him now , for he has propsed one theory but is not able to rubbish a theory which disagrees , which is really what intilligent people and professors of theorys are supposed and perhaps paid to do. He has bottled in his profession that his theory is the truth. This phobia to debate (somthing I have noted for some years ) ,perhaps tells us prof Dawkins is not able to tidy his theory enough to conquer the stitions of men , perhaps that is because it it may be a similar process to the one that built his theory and he is begining to feel the point of his own sword.

Jesus was not what one could call a great intellectual "he came to save sinners" ,somthing I note prof Dawkins or his selfish gene ,does not do ! .I rest my case .

15 May 2011 at 19:30  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Oh - and as intimated by Lakester and Albert - why they pre-suppose that Science and Christianity are incompatible is another mystery. And another lie.

15 May 2011 at 19:33  
Blogger Albert said...

why they pre-suppose that Science and Christianity are incompatible is another mystery

The usual answer is that it is the mistake of those who remain trapped in a late Medieval nominalist philosophy, which places the agency of God and agency of the universe on the same logical level. Therefore, if it is God who is active, it isn't the universe (science) if it is the universe (science) it can't be God.

The problem with this is that Classical theism does not see God as being on that level. In fact, it is probably the burden of the Old Testament (not to mention philsophers like Aquinas) to refute such a conception of God.

In this regard, philosopher Anthony Kenny is useful:

"Many different definitions may be offered of the word 'God'. Given this fact, atheism makes a much stronger claim than theism does. The atheist says that no matter what definition you choose, 'God exists' is always false. The theist only claims that there is some definition which will make 'God exists' true. In my view, neither the stronger nor the weaker claim has been convincingly established".

Most atheists are not in fact atheists because they are insufficiently familiar with the classical doctrine of theism as to be able to offer an opinion either way.

15 May 2011 at 19:42  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Is not the very notion of the universe founded on belief in the one who created it? Once having reached this knowledge we can kick the ladder away, but should we ever have got here without it?

15 May 2011 at 19:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

For all the things people attribute to Dawkins so they can knock them down, he seems to have an astonishing ability to really wind Christians up as though what he says is somehow threatening. :)

I saw this in the Torygraph the other day and stored the URL in the expectation of Dawkins getting a religious going over.

Belief is part of human nature

I haven't looked into it at all, I just post it for interested really.

15 May 2011 at 19:48  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Golly, so much levity !

Seriously, if the Sheldonian Theatre of the emeritus professor Dr Dawkins's own University of Oxford will not do, perhaps with that inimitable sense of his for the comic (not far from Jacques Tati) he is hoping for an invitation to entertain at the Madison Theater in the town of the challenger's birthplace: the proverbial Peoria, Illinois.

After all, he is an honest enough self-critic to use the title "The Selfish Gene". But he was a spent force before he started: New ("Manners Makyth Man") College is one of the places where they sing, and could quietly enjoy the joke.

btw: For the great majority of people, including those in practise as "scientists", the evidence and reasoning of much of what is proposed in the name of science is hearsay. Consider the apparent flatness of the earth to everyday observation: level playing fields and all that.

15 May 2011 at 19:49  
Blogger Albert said...

he seems to have an astonishing ability to really wind Christians up as though what he says is somehow threatening

On the contrary, I rejoice in Dawkins. He's the best gift to Christian apologetics since William Lane Craig.

15 May 2011 at 19:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert, your Anthony Kenny is using a particular definition of atheism which some people call 'positive atheism'.

"The atheist says that no matter what definition you choose, 'God exists' is always false."

That isn't a true statement for many of us if the important atheism websites are anything to go by. That statement makes it rather easy to dismiss atheists ... which is presumably why it appeals to some.

15 May 2011 at 19:56  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"On the contrary, I rejoice in Dawkins. He's the best gift to Christian apologetics since William Lane Craig."

I'm sure.

He's sold millions of his books you know, and the terms 'militant atheists' and 'aggressive seculatists' are used by people on the blogs and newspaper comments areas who are clearly perturbed by the political impact of such stuff.

15 May 2011 at 19:59  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Dreadnaught said..."The Assyrians - Agriculture for sure; the Egyptians,Greeks,Phonecians, Romans, Chinese?... - how about - Medicine, Chemistry, Mathmatics, Geometery, Trigonometry; Astronomy, Philosophy, Navigation, Civil Engineering. These were the products of cultures - not religions"

Yes Dreadnaught, but we cannot ignore the fact these earliest cultures were animist, therefore progress, invention and discovery were interlinked with a passion to know the divine sacred in everything.

That is why the Church choir and bell ringers should rediscover the links between their forte and the sacred geometry of accoustics.

Religion should be embracing its high cultural roots, with radical traditionalist fervour and railing against the backwardness of its present fallen condition.

15 May 2011 at 20:07  
Blogger Albert said...

I'm sure.

You doubt it? Are you unaware of how bad his books are from a philosophical point of view?

He's sold millions of his books you know, and the terms 'militant atheists' and 'aggressive seculatists' are used by people on the blogs and newspaper comments areas who are clearly perturbed by the political impact of such stuff.

Certainly, the political impact is serious. It's the question of truth that matters though. Many secular tomes have been published and read in great numbers. Their political effect is great for time (e.g. Marxism), but eventually error undoes itself.

The fact that Dawkins is so widely believed to be a great prophet of reason means any political gains made by atheism in his name are built on sand.

15 May 2011 at 20:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"You doubt it? Are you unaware of how bad his books are from a philosophical point of view?"

Yes. Luckily, they're not philosophical books or, I expect, intended to be.

15 May 2011 at 20:33  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

The Heresiarch said 15 May 2011 14:26

"As for Professor Craig, having now read some of his articles I don't think the Dawk has much to be scared of. If he really is "the foremost apologist for Christian theism", then it's not looking good for Christian theism." LOL. Another Genius! BYGADS, we are infested with them.

Comments like this remind Ernst of those challengers stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson during his prime. Things like 'Go on son, he's takeable' seemed to be the well meaning comments but as I am sure the challenger was thinking as he stepped up to the ringside..
..why don't you get in that ring.

Well then my Demon, throw down your challenge to the halfwit Professor Craig. Imagine the plaudits, linked with potentially winning the Orwell blog prize.

Ernst, my mask wearing beast from the abyss.

15 May 2011 at 20:42  
Blogger Albert said...

Luckily, they're not philosophical books or, I expect, intended to be.

You're conceding the point are you?

Certainly, they are not philosophical books - that's clear. But they are intended to be philosophical books (or at least the God Delusion is): they engage in philosophical discussions and look at philosophical arguments. The existence of God is not a directly scientific question, but a philosophical one.

As atheist philosopher, Michael Ruse puts it:

The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing...If we criticized gene theory with as little knowledge as Dawkins has of religion and philosophy, he would be rightly indignant...Conversely, I am indignant at the poor quality of the argumentation in Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and all of the others in that group.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/scienceandthesacred/2009/08/why-i-think-the-new-atheists-are-a-bloody-disaster.html#ixzz1MS58Z1ED

What kind of genre do you think the God Delusion is supposed to be, if not philosophical?

15 May 2011 at 20:45  
Anonymous Yakoub said...

Perhaps worth mentioning that Dawkins mentor, Tinbergen, was also responsible for the development and proliferation of a repugnant and utterly ineffective method for treating children with autism, called Holding Therapy. It was also founded on theoretical speculation, and became popular solely on the basis of Tinbergen's status. Holding therapy is now utterly discredited, but not before thousands of autistic children were subjected to this cruel practice.

15 May 2011 at 20:46  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "You're conceding the point are you?"

Conceding? Doesn't one have to fight for the point first in order to concede it?

"What kind of genre do you think the God Delusion is supposed to be, if not philosophical?"

?? It's a polemic, surely?

15 May 2011 at 20:50  
Anonymous len said...

I actually have seen Prof Dawkin`s interviewed and have been surprised at his lack of knowledge of Christianity, the Bible,and Christian theology.He seems to 'cherry pick'parts of the Bible(OT)and draw assumptions from that.The Bible is constructed much as a 'jigsaw puzzle' all the pieces interlocking ,in their own particular places, just to pick one piece up and say"I don`t like the look of that!"is meaningless.


I am beginning to wonder if Prof Dawkin`s has entered the'no man`s land'of uncertainty about his Atheistic convictions.

Prof Dawkin`s is a
'Godsend'to Christianity because these issues get debated in public which can only do Christianity good.
Truth has a habit of rising up and biting one in ones rear end.

As I said before science is a tool for examining the material World but when it comes to the Spiritual(God is after all Spirit)Science is at a total loss.

15 May 2011 at 20:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Conceding? Doesn't one have to fight for the point first in order to concede it?

True, you haven't fought for a point.

It's a polemic, surely?#

And which cateogry of polemic if not philosophical?

15 May 2011 at 21:25  
Blogger The Dotterel said...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...

15 May 2011 at 21:40  
Anonymous greg tingey said...

Like Professor-emeritus Dawkins, I am an atheist.
Because there is NO EVIDENCE AT ALL (that would stand up in a laboratory or a court) to show the existence of any Big Invisible Sky Fairy (usually known as a "god").
Lije Prof Dawkins, IF someone produces credible evidence, I am prepared to change my mind.
Religious believers, however, are NOT INTERESTED IN EVIDENCE.
And that is the problem.

It is UP TO THE BLEIEVERS to produce some evidene - they (you) are the ones making the claim of existence.
It is their (your) job to provide proof.

15 May 2011 at 21:42  
Anonymous Plain Speaking of London said...

ESB + Tiddles aka Blofeld 15 May 2011 20:42

I agree with your comment and have a similar narrative.

During the 70's I was invited to a football match between Man u and Middlesbrough FC.

George Best was having a fine game as was Dennis the menace Law, when Georgie shot from inside the penalty area, for it to just go past the post. I heard a 'FFS, even I could have knocked that in'. Turning, I saw a fat man u fan, who looked like warming up could have coronary implications.

Just because someone says something, does not mean they are able to do it themselves.

Good old Heresiarch, where fallen angels fear to tread and all that.

London Calling

15 May 2011 at 21:50  
Anonymous bluedog said...

A magnificent demolition, Your Grace. One wonders if Dr Dawkins is incubating another book. Something relating to the King James Bible perhaps, given his own association with its 400th anniversary. Would it noy be out of character for him to miss a marketing opportunity like that?

15 May 2011 at 21:51  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Plain Speaking of London wisely stated 15 May 2011 21:50

Thanks, my boy.

The books of Dawkin's ooze emotive philosophy whenever he gets stuck for an empirical answer, when stuck in the cul de sac he has taken his readers down.

It reminds Ernst of those religious charlatans who appeal by pure emotional rant or intimate to their listeners or readers that you must be a moron to disagree with their conclusions.

Ernst will admire a well structured, reasoned argument, even from an atheist IF he/she sticks to the question in hand and looks at all possible conclusions that this argument can lead to, which Dawkins, forever the one trick pony, refuses to do.

Ernst my boy.

15 May 2011 at 22:05  
Anonymous Rob said...

When God speaks, human discussion is over.

The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God.”
Psalm 53:1

If a wise man contends with a foolish man, Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace. Proverbs 29:9

The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God

Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22

The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Romans 1:20-23

The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God

15 May 2011 at 22:09  
Blogger Simon Harley said...

Your Grace,

We aim to please. You could, of course, have amended it to '"Professor" Richard Dawkins' :). I do hope that your post brings this matter to the attention of those who can rectify it.

15 May 2011 at 22:37  
Anonymous Derek said...

Only read the first three comments. But that was enough.

"Having an atheist who attacks religion without understanding it makes you appreciate the ones who do bother to understand it!"

How wonderful! Admitting Dawkins is a rabid pseudo-intellectual is the first step away from the selfish, petty existence that is atheism. It's refreshing to know that atheists "have a useful place" for folks they openly admit know nothing about Christianity. Besides, I've yet to encounter any atheists who "bother to understand religion." But that's what happens if you give people like Dawkins a position of influence.

15 May 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Plain Speaking of London said...

"During the 70's I was invited to a football match between Man u and Middlesbrough FC...
"I heard a 'FFS, even I could have knocked that in'. Turning, I saw a fat man u fan, who looked like warming up could have coronary implications."

Hey, think that was me at the match. Don't be so rude!

15 May 2011 at 23:06  
Anonymous Plain Speaking of London said...

TLD 15 May 2011 23:06

TLD

Surely you would not have said FFS (Horrid expression) at the greatest footballer ever.

Hope to goodness that you have stopped eating those pork pie and chips the said character was woofing down most of the match.

If not, are you still able to wear the club shirt as a bikini top. ugh!

London Calling

15 May 2011 at 23:29  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Rob @ 22:47 --- my train of thought; but you put it better --- thank you.

16 May 2011 at 00:00  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

When the Pope gave the 'Thought for the Day' on radio 4 over Christmas the BBC, desperate for dissenting opinion, got Dwakins to rant against him. His arguments were pretty much standard point avoiding character assassination, but the final point he made quoted Hebrews

"there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood".

Surely you have to be some kind of massive tool to use that as a quote. There are a few reasons why he might have used it.

1. He never read the whole passage and certainly lacks the rationality to think what a phrase like that might mean in the New Testament (given the entire point of that portion of the Bible).
2. He lacks the brainpower to interpret it
3. He read and understood it, but, being a complete dick, he used it as a fallacious example of Christian support of violence.

Any of these three show that Dwakins isn't a true academic, just a smug, self serving mask of a scientist. He's popular because the average mentally challenged atheist likes the fact that he puts a smart face on their mentalist ramblings. He legitimises irrational atheism. He will be forgotten by history because he is a dissipating smoke: in your face now, but without anything to grasp at. He hasn't made a single contribution toward scientific discovery that lasted longer than other scientists could contain their laughter. History will look back and compare him to Fred Phelps, not Thomas Aquinas.

Interesting how his acolytes rush to his defence when he's called out on his philosophical backwardness. Almost religiously defending him... Hmm...

I also find it interesting how they rush to support Darwinism, even when no one is claiming to be a creationist. It's an outdated version of a valid theory. Why cling to something that contains so many problems, when there are better explored theories out there?

I'm beginning to become convinced that nu-atheism is just another religion, with Dwakins, Darwin and Hitchens as their gods.

16 May 2011 at 00:27  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Great post, Lakester. Though, I'm sad to see Darwin included in the above company. He was brilliant; he blazed a scientific trail, and the modernists/atheists lack absolute proof that he was one of them. For the mind that seeks Truth, Natural Selection need not preclude the hand of the Creator.

So, even though Darwin clearly had doubts, what thinking Christian never had them? I say only God knows the answer to Darwin's true understanding --- and that neither we nor the atheists have the right to judge his belief!

16 May 2011 at 01:00  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Yakoub: That may reveal more than you know.

However greytingey 21:42 Evidence appears not to be available for both sides of the argument , is it not possible an athiest is deluded ? same chemicals same biological structures ,one experiences god in a way that gives them faith , another doesnt ,but either one can change ones mind ,so it becomes philoshophical.

I will try another route for you , given the universe is thought to be 15bn years old and our planet a mere 5bn emitting radio communications only for 100yrs ,given the sheer number of stars in the universe you would expect many other planets with the same intelligence to have or be transmitting radio waves ,yet it all appears silent the whole 15bn years apart from us. Now if science says there must be plenty of planets with intelligent radio sources ,could science in this respect be wrong?
Does the SETI search for evidence ,even though it has not shown evidence make you believe that theoretically it doesnt exist .

16 May 2011 at 01:28  
Anonymous not a machine said...

OH er being as Dawkins has scuttled ,sent in Hawkins (guardian).This should be fun .

16 May 2011 at 01:51  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

My Mate NAM said 16 May 2011 01:28

Brilliant reasoning, my lass.

Also if the lack of noise from outer space is true, the silence must mean we are the highest form of intelligence in the cosmos to have evolved to this pathetic level!

Supposed 15 billion years of supposed evolutionary development and we are at the very pinnacle of everything and all alone (as the Bible tells us we are).LOL BIGTIME.

Yet we are on the cusp of destroying ourself and the planet we inhabit due to mankinds illogical denial of his basic wickedness to his fellow man/woman and the animal kingdom and environment he/she is the steward of.

It is beyond madness..Ernst always chuckles at atheist requests that God should give them an explanation that He does indeed exist.

Imagine Him having to consider empirical arguments that He, as a Spirit and outside our M-Theory based Cosmos, should be an Apologist for Himself (some complex mathematical formula perhaps rather than words confirming His Nature and Purpose as laid out in the Holy Bible).

It appears that this magnificent Creation around us is not sufficient nor that His Son and Holy Spirit came to confirm that ALL that was stated in the Old and New Testaments was correct and He showed mighty miracles to those He had dealings with, both For and Against Him, that He was truly God and truly man.

I think God's position could be simply stated 'My Gaff, My Rules'!

Ernsty, my fine lass.

16 May 2011 at 02:58  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Cheers to Cameron and Huhne for shafting the British public with the brilliant idea of our nation being the only bunch of nutters to sign up to economic suicide, by enforcing a legally-binding “carbon budget” beyond 2020.

Definition of a Traitor.

"“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” - Cicero "

Scumbags the lot of em. Sorry Cranny, you won't convince me otherwise!


Ernst

16 May 2011 at 03:16  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Or

It is a true saying that "One falsehood leads easily to another".

Or
in the case of this coalition government

As the old proverb says "Like readily consorts with like."

Cicero

Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)


As Peter Hitchens so rightly says, The conservatives now in government are not really conservatives, are they.

Ernst

16 May 2011 at 03:47  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Ernst as you know ,I rather like the green debate in that it says a lot about how we comprehend our very existence air we breath ,food we eat etc etc.

I did have the misfortune to fall for the hollywood version of the fear ,however I hope I have remedied that belief that the great and the good were posing deliberate untruths for unusual gains.

Going for drastic cuts in CO2 is very shortsighted approach to the problem ,but alas we are being scared with stone age existence hyposthesis as well.
Unfortunately money has been put aside for carbon capture ,which thus far needs an extra power station (or 25% more CO2 or energy) to make it work which does not help the fuel utilisation problem.
I still havent figured out why a complex market for carbon trading is still viable ,but it looks like some sort of fiddle for big EU companies.
The arguments aside on wether global warming is due to human activity whilst a question , does not answer the far more troubling question of pollution. The thought that a company could be recieveing CO2 credits whilst dumping stuff into rivers or landfills (that actually does kill biological life bigger than bacteria) is madness.
The home effciency money has some doubt also and is at best a stop gap.

It is pretty obvious to me that we have to clean up our economy ,rather than clean up running any scams hatched in politics.

He is energy secretary and Fukushima has rightly questioned one easy route , we now have gas fracking which must be done safely (quite a toxic mix of chemicals to free the gas) and he has plumbed for more wind/tidal. But it all begins to read of a man that is unable to cut through the guff and really speak green. It is very unfortunate that at the very time when we need a proper engineered strategy that we should have someone promoting a labour scheme that has many unswered questions , needs a report on wether nuclear is not quite a clear as the general outputs and expensive , and has not yet laid into some of the expensive schemes run by the previous goverment , despite them being glaringly obvious eg wave power which was exhustively tested in the 70s without anything viable comming out , and the laws of physics have not changed much in the last 40yrs.

I have a feeling Mr Huhne is trying to conceal a very big rat, the question is ,is it his, the previous goverments or someone elses .I have not heard one reasoned debate from him (or for that matter the opposition) which shows any great understanding of how the future may look in terms of what is possible or options.The arrival at a city traders solution rather than and ecnomic/engineering necessity due to the underground stuff being of finite supply , shows a lack for me of correct thinking ,or even a degree of railroading of selected but unconsidered options.

my guess is there is a large bill for cleaning up ,never mind the new stuff ,which perhaps is another Labour story of porn whilst they blew the money .If this is blow the money MK2 whilst not delivering the right future engineering , he can rest assured that any hoped for 2015 lib dem victory will turn into a political cleansing excercise with individual reparations.

At about £100mn or so to clean up an existing nuclear reactor site ,wind doesnt seem that expensive ,but why subsides it in an unessecary and already fraudulent EU CO2 trades market.

16 May 2011 at 04:39  
Anonymous tele said...

One is reminded of the Downfall parody produced regarding his plans to arrest the Pope in which he bewails the fact that other members of his college SCR mock him as "Dr Bonkers". Unlike the Humes and Nietzsches of the world - whose criticisms of Christianity warrant serious engagement - the best response to Dawkins is laughter.

16 May 2011 at 05:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "And which cateogry of polemic if not philosophical?"

Some of it rails at theology (as a non-subject), some of it makes political points, some of it pokes other people, some of it makes points about various philosophical positions, some of it rails at the consequences of religious positions, and so on. It's an anti-religion polemic aimed at the popular book market. If anything, it's more of a political tract.

His science-oriented books, like the Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, and The Greatest Show on Earth, are essentially explanatory books also aimed I expect at the popular book market. He does that sort of thing very well. He's disseminating and championing existing ideas, although the Selfish Gene was a seminal book in many ways.

16 May 2011 at 06:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"OH er being as Dawkins has scuttled ,sent in Hawkins (guardian).This should be fun ."

In the style of the blog article: Professor Hawking (FRS aged 32), author of the surprising bestseller A Brief History of Time aimed at the popular market, who has travelled around collecting honorary degrees, etc.

:)

16 May 2011 at 07:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lakester: "He's popular because the average mentally challenged atheist likes the fact that he puts a smart face on their mentalist ramblings."

God bless you. :)

Well, I suppose even Jesus in the story got a little exasperated with other people not getting his schtick at times.

16 May 2011 at 07:19  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Blofeld-Ernst
1) 16 May 02:58

There is hearsay as in btw above (15 May 19:49) and hearsay as in Samuel 3.

2) 03:16 "The traitor is the plague", and the plague is pandemic including activists of the UNO, Manhattan, New York, NY.
3) Does one who quotes Cicero need to use dysphemism?. But admittedly with Mr Huhne and his like in view restraint can be difficult.

16 May 2011 at 08:43  
Anonymous Caedmon's Cat said...

Napoleon said something like, "Do not interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake."
Mr Dawkins and those in his hysterical and irrational camp should be left well alone; they already have sufficient rope with which to hang themselves. The exercise of opening their mouths is sufficient proof of this...

16 May 2011 at 09:11  
Blogger tangentreality said...

I commented on this article to precisely this effect, Your Grace - pointing out that Dawkins is despicable not for his atheist convictions, but rather for his pathological hatred of Christianity.

And, quelle surprise, I also was descended upon by hoardes of militant atheists, who engaged in completely unfounded personal attacks, thus proving my original point.

I am getting sick and tired of the rising tide of prejudice and discrimination, not just against Christians, but against members of any religion, by this fanatical, overzealous tribe of aggressive atheism.

I have no problem with their beliefs, but I fail to see why they have a problem with mine.

16 May 2011 at 09:30  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Professor of Theology! What on earth is that?

Professor of childish fairy tales more like. Of course there is no point in a debate as one side uses reasoned argument whilst the other resorts to myth and magic. There is no god and the origin of life and indeed that of the universe is explained by rational scientific argument. This is not TRUTH, it is simply the current state of knowledge. In time these explanations may become firmer; we no longer believe that the earth is at the centre of the universe despite claims by believers that it was.

The argument is over; it has been for 150 years. It is foolish to try and elevate the existence of god to a subject of academic study but if you must then don’t expect people with serious academic credentials to debate it with you.

16 May 2011 at 10:15  
Anonymous ExChristian said...

Firstly, I'd like to point out that Cramer is wrong - Dawkins and Craig have already debated the existence of God - check out YouTube.

Secondly, Derek said "Admitting Dawkins is a rabid pseudo-intellectual is the first step away from the selfish, petty existence that is atheism. It's refreshing to know that atheists "have a useful place" for folks they openly admit know nothing about Christianity. Besides, I've yet to encounter any atheists who "bother to understand religion." But that's what happens if you give people like Dawkins a position of influence."

I'm an atheist. Used to be a Christian. Aetheism was not an easy option - it would have been much easier for me just to carry on with my 40-year old faith instead. So, I have thought and read a great deal about all this before forming my current views and thus I'll thank you and people like you not to patronise me and others like me.

Lots of Christians complain about Dawkins' arrogance. I don't like it myself (give me Chris Hitchins any day). That said, some of the comments above are equally arrogant.

I agree with Mongoose 100%. To believe that a God created the earth (and trillions of other planets) just so we could live our lives here on this one little planet in praise of him seems more than a little unlikely.

Blind faith indeed. My money's on Dawkins' orbiting teapot!

16 May 2011 at 10:33  
Anonymous Preacher said...

I don't know about the old example from C.S. Lewis of the Three blind men trying to describe an Elephant. But it seems to me that 'Prof' Dawkins is more like a blind amoeba trying to disprove the existence of the Sun.
When you are on a lose/lose situation, stop playing.

16 May 2011 at 11:13  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan, sorry I missed this comment:

your Anthony Kenny is using a particular definition of atheism which some people call 'positive atheism'.

Perhaps, but I wonder if there is a real difference between (non positive) atheism and agnosticism in that case.

Some of it rails at theology (as a non-subject), some of it makes political points, some of it pokes other people, some of it makes points about various philosophical positions, some of it rails at the consequences of religious positions, and so on. It's an anti-religion polemic aimed at the popular book market. If anything, it's more of a political tract.

In fairness to Dawkins it is a popular book, rather than a work of academic philosophy. But it’s not that the philosophy it contains doesn’t go very deep that is the problem, it is that the philosophy is at times just plain wrong. And since that wrongness touches the heart of his argument that’s quite a failing. Of course, no one can be faulted for having dodgy bits of philosophy in his mind – we all do if for no better reason than lack of time to consider every question. But if you are going to set yourself up as a rational person, a judge of others’ rationality and complain that your opponents are stupid in a book which you call The God Delusion, you do need to ensure that you do not make elementary philosophical errors, and fundamentally misrepresent your opponents’ arguments - so that their real arguments are left unanswered.

Dawkins gets so much wrong, it’s not surprising he’s open to ridicule (and not surprising he doesn’t want to take on proper philosophers like Craig). The fact that so many atheists seem to lap up his errors rather than complaining about them (or even noticing them) has meant that Dawkins has contributed to showing popular atheism is intellectually inadequate.

16 May 2011 at 11:36  
Blogger Albert said...

ExChristian,

To believe that a God created the earth (and trillions of other planets) just so we could live our lives here on this one little planet in praise of him seems more than a little unlikely.

Why think Christianity entails that claim?

16 May 2011 at 11:37  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

EXChristian said 16 May 2011 10:33

Not quite true my lad.
True debating is head to head, not sulking on a stage within a group of three.

They shared the same platform in 2 groups of 3. Atheist vs Theist.

Dawkins refused to debate Craig's or the other 2 theists comments and stuck to his own script.

Format was four minute opening statements, two minute rebuttals, and one minute closing statements!

Hardly debating?

A classic quote from Dawkins at the event in Mexico was when he said that these “why” questions are “silly questions.”

Goodness me, thought this is the exact question that got brilliant scientist's juices flowing and led to great discoveries.

"My money's on Dawkins' orbiting teapot!" One lump or two? Will you be Mammy?

Ernst

16 May 2011 at 11:43  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Too many words by far...Dawkins is a self-satisfied toss-pot; end of it.

16 May 2011 at 12:11  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Oswin said

Dawkins is a self-satisfied toss-pot; end of it.

But correct in his analysis.

16 May 2011 at 12:16  
Anonymous tory boys nver grow up said...

"Having contributed one-and-a-half moderately interesting ideas to evolutionary theory"

As opposed to the one proposterous idea on which many fundamentalist Christians tend to rely.

Perhaps for us agnostics trying to make head or tail of the debate Cranmer might wish to set out the basis of his own qualifications so that we can assess how seriously we should take his rubbishing of Dawkin's. If we are still playing my dad's bigger than yours perhaps I could play the Stephen Dawkins card.

Personally, I think there is a lot to be said for Hitchens's "that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" when it comes to scientific debate on this matter, but rationally that wouldn't rule an almighty being from being able to disguise the evidence and leaving the matter to "faith". But wouldn't that mean that this is really a matter for mystics rather than scientists.

16 May 2011 at 12:40  
Blogger Albert said...

"that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence"

Atheism tends to entail that the physical universe can exist without a creator continuously causing it to exist. What evidence is there for that?

this is really a matter for mystics rather than scientists.

It's not really a question for science because science looks at what exists in the universe, it can't deal with metaphysics. But the question of God is one for philosophers as well as mystics.

16 May 2011 at 13:43  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Albert said

It's not really a question for science because science looks at what exists in the universe, it can't deal with metaphysics

Metaphysics is no more than conjecture as is all philosophy unless grounded in cognitive science. Interesting as ideas (like science fiction) but of no practical use for understanding how we humans have come to be what we are.

If you continue to search under an imaginary stone all you will find are imaginary things.

16 May 2011 at 14:36  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

It's good to have the facts and information on something I'd always suspected: that former-professor ['emeritus' is unfairly grand-sounding] Dawkins was in no way the "very eminent scientist" the MSM are so very fond of telling us (I've never been a scientist of any kind, but I somehow knew in my water that the man was a hack - "mountebank" is my preferred description).

16 May 2011 at 14:49  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer

I should stick to talking about your imaginary friend since your knowledge of science and Dawkins contribution to it is pitiful and full of inaccuracies.

16 May 2011 at 15:09  
Blogger English Viking said...

GD,

Does it make you feel big to be so smug?

16 May 2011 at 15:20  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

English Viking said...

Does it make you feel big to be so smug?

No

16 May 2011 at 15:26  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

@Albert

"Atheism tends to entail that the physical universe can exist without a creator continuously causing it to exist. What evidence is there for that?"

That is why I am an agnostic rather than an atheist.

"It's not really a question for science because science looks at what exists in the universe, it can't deal with metaphysics. "

I agree - that I why Cranmer talking about scientific qualifications is really an irrelvance. That said when I look at what has made the greatest contribution to the advancement of mankind - I would place science and scientific method rather higher in the pecking order than mystisism, metaphysics, religion or nationalism.

16 May 2011 at 15:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Graham,

Metaphysics is no more than conjecture as is all philosophy unless grounded in cognitive science

Oh dear. I thought science relied on a range of metaphyscial assumptions. It seems we are left with solipsism.

16 May 2011 at 15:33  
Blogger Albert said...

tory boy,

I would place science and scientific method rather higher in the pecking order than mystisism, metaphysics, religion or nationalism

I would refer you then to my previous comment.

16 May 2011 at 15:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asked about the existence of Richard Dawkins, God said: "Who says I don't have a good sense of humor?"

16 May 2011 at 15:48  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Albert said

It seems we are left with solipsism

That is not a logical assumption.

16 May 2011 at 16:11  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

I thought science relied on a range of metaphyscial assumptions

That it may - but they then have to be tested using scientific method don't they?

16 May 2011 at 16:12  
Blogger William said...

"I thought science relied on a range of metaphyscial assumptions. That it may - but they then have to be tested using scientific method don't they?"

Isn't the scientific method one of the metaphysical assumptions? How do you test the scientific method using the scientific method?

Perhaps Graham Davis can help as apparently he can assert that there is no God using rational, scientific argument. This should be a walk in the park for him.

16 May 2011 at 16:49  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

Isn't the scientific method one of the metaphysical assumptions? How do you test the scientific method using the scientific method?

Quite!

Graham:

That is not a logical assumption

If you can't have metaphysics without science and you can't have science without metaphysics, it seems we can have neither.

16 May 2011 at 17:01  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

Isn't the scientific method one of the metaphysical assumptions?

No - otherwise everything becomes rather circular as you wish. Being a practical man I think I will stick with what appears to work best.

I'm quite happy to tolerate those who have mystical friends whose faith leads them to believe that they are not imaginary - and they may even be right but that is a matter of faith rather than empirical evidence isn't it? Just as long as they don't try and enforce their rather bizarre beliefs on me and the world - although they might have developed some values that are of use to the orderly running of this world.

16 May 2011 at 17:05  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Graham Wood,

Flew did NOT convert to Christianity.

16 May 2011 at 17:13  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Not that it matter greatly but it was Bert Russell who coined the teapot 'theory' Straight lift from Wki:-

Russell's teapot, sometimes called the Celestial teapot, Cosmic teapot or Bertrand's teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), to illustrate the idea that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion. Russell wrote that if he claimed that a teapot were orbiting the sun, it would be nonsense for him to expect others not to doubt him just because they could not prove him wrong. Russell's teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God. The analogy has also been used by sociologists to denote correlations with religion and social conformit

16 May 2011 at 17:18  
Anonymous Tony B said...

I'm not sure why it matters so greatly, YG, at what age one is elected fellow of the royal society? Perhaps you could explain?

16 May 2011 at 17:19  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Dawkins is indeed wrong about much; but then so was CS Lewis. And Keith Ward does an admirable job of following in Lewis's footsteps.

16 May 2011 at 17:29  
Anonymous len said...

It is interesting that Jesus never bothered with people that weren`t interested in the Gospel.In fact from some of his remarks you might actually think he was trying to put some people off!.But I think He was probably just exposing peoples true motives,and their sincerity.
Unless God is drawing people to Himself it would seem to be a waste of time preaching the Gospel,and one could get dispirited by the stubborn refusal of some to accept the truth of the Gospel.I always thought that telling people the Truth(the Gospel)a light would come on and they would get saved.Not so!.The enemy seems to hold many securely in his grasp.
I suppose the analogy of the sower sums it up,some seed will fall on 'good ground'and we( Christians ) must continue sowing knowing that all the 'seed' will not come to fruition.
I think for those who consistently refuse to acknowledge the Gospel God would say "leave them alone and move on".
I only hope and pray that many people who view this blog will be more receptive to the Gospel than the 'regular Atheists' who not only refuse the Gospel but would encourage others to do so to.

16 May 2011 at 17:30  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

"It is interesting that Jesus never bothered with people that weren`t interested in the Gospel"

However, he did seem to be quite happy to try and provide physical evidence to one particular sceptic if my memory of RE lessons doesn't fail me.

16 May 2011 at 18:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "I only hope and pray that many people who view this blog will be more receptive to the Gospel than the 'regular Atheists' who not only refuse the Gospel but would encourage others to do so to."

To be fair, we not only refuse the Gospel but, like you, we also refuse the NIV (JW version) and the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an and the Bhagavad Gita and, well, all other scriptures so you shouldn't feel hard done by. No doubt some Muslims think that Shaitan has you securely in his grasp too. I'm sure you cope with that just like we do by, well, simply not bothering with it and thinking those people have got it wrong. Can't really beat a pragmatic approach to those sort of distractions, I reckon.

16 May 2011 at 19:40  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Non Mouse,

I may have misunderstood how you've interpreted my post, so forgive me if I'm wrong...

Natural Selection need not preclude the hand of the Creator.

Absolutely, don't get me wrong; evolution is definitely my chosen theory for how we got here. It's just that natural selection does not explain enough. Whilst great leaps forward are caused by genetic mutation and natural selection, minor changes are more acutely required, otherwise animals could quickly die out if the climate changes or if there is a reduced amount of food, or there is a new unknown predator. There is increasing evidence for the large role of gene expression. The body controls gene expression in many ways, from the use of promoters and inhibitors (proteins that attach to the DNA to enable or disable reading by RNA polymerase) to methylation of the target gene (to prevent expression) to several factors which affect the RNA after transcription and others that affect translation.

In my genetics course we were taught that what one's parents or grandparents did can affect our own gene expression. Their diet and lifestyle can affect our health and immune responses. Thus animals have the ability to adapt in a non-random way through the changing of gene expression. A friend of mine noted that he could always tell another (white) Zimbabwean by the look of him. This, despite the majority of white people settling there in the last century or so. His reasoning was the face structure, citing the wide nostrils amongst other things. This was second and third generation adaptations to the climate of Zimbabwe, not random mutations over millions of years.

Darwin was a great scientist, but his theory was too simple and is increasingly being left behind as a 'where we've come from' rather than a 'where we are now'. Thus the defence of Darwinism seems as strange as defending Galileo's idea that the Sun is the centre of the Universe. Perhaps he is being used as a rally point for atheists rather than the father of modern evolutionary research.

Ex-Christian and Dreadnaught,

The teapot argument

A dreadfully cliche argument that only works if God is

a. Verifiable by science
b. Posited to exist in the physical Universe

Considering that Christians deny both these claims about God. The Teapot analogy is a false argument.

16 May 2011 at 19:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "Dan, sorry I missed this comment:

your Anthony Kenny is using a particular definition of atheism which some people call 'positive atheism'.

Perhaps, but I wonder if there is a real difference between (non positive) atheism and agnosticism in that case."

The difference is described on most of the atheism-oriented websites so you don't need to wonder. I know that lots of online religious people seem to misunderstand what atheism is all about and go for the simplistic, most reductionist version.

16 May 2011 at 19:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "Atheism tends to entail that the physical universe can exist without a creator continuously causing it to exist. What evidence is there for that?"

Well, as an atheist I'm reserving judgement on stuff like that. We don't actually need to know in order to have a fulfilling life. Atheism is essentially a-theism for many of us i.e. we're not theists. It's a matter of not believing in any god hypotheses rather than believing there is definitely no god or gods.

Conversely, people who believe in a particular god hypothesis have adopted that belief as a positive act. Instead of just accepting that a creator thing may exist as an explanation for our reality, those people take on board a huge amount more.

Now, if I am to limit my life choices, adopt special practices, form communities, spend most of my time sustaining the belief, and so on, then I expect there to be something pretty solid to convince me of its truth. I don't find it with Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, etc and I can find lots of reasons why those beliefs might have come about which have very little to do with a god.

16 May 2011 at 19:58  
Blogger mongoose said...

The circularity of all these arguments is matched only by my query - if a Creator created the universe, who or what created the Creator? But let's not go there, eh?

For those of you who are interested in how science, culture, and religion overlap and inform one another, and how these things can happily sit on the samw pew, I recommend "The Ascent of Man" by Jacob Bronowski. It's an old TV series - available on DVD - and a book which is just a transcript really. The DVDs are widely available and are all on youtube anyway. It is an as yet unmatched tour de force ruined only by the appalling 1970s kipper ties.

16 May 2011 at 21:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

The difference is described on most of the atheism-oriented websites so you don't need to wonder.

My comment was really an invitation to you to elucidate your own opinion rather than me try to discuss what I take it to be. This is important, because at the level we are discussing (whether the universe needs a sustaining cause) there doesn't seem to be much difference between a non-positive atheist and an agnostic. As you put it:

I'm reserving judgement on stuff like that.

I'm not doubting whether your life is fulfilling BTW, but I note that while being unsure of whether the universe just is or is caused, you live as if it is not caused. So for all practical purposes there is little difference between you an a positive atheist.

16 May 2011 at 22:30  
Blogger Albert said...

Mongoose

if a Creator created the universe, who or what created the Creator?

Arguments for the existence of God do not in fact work from the premise that everything needs a cause. Such an premise would exclude the possibility of God, since it would exclude any possibility of ultimate being.

Instead, the arguments seek to show that the universe is contingent in some way, and that therefore a being is necessary outside of the universe which does not share that contingency. Asking what causes God therefore would reflect a confusion on the part of the non-theist, rather than a problem for the theist.

16 May 2011 at 22:33  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

if a Creator created the universe, who or what created the Creator? But let's not go there, eh?

Another logical fallacy. Either something needs to be created or it has always existed. The Universe hasn't always existed therefore it must have been created. God is begotten, therefore it is not logically necessary for Him to have a creator.

16 May 2011 at 22:33  
Blogger mongoose said...

Well, Mr lakester91, it isn't a logical fallacy at all, is it? You're just preparing the ground for a pseudo-scientific refutation. But, OK, I'll bite. It's Monday night and I have been freezing my wotsits off at a cricket match. Cool! So what evidence do you have to support your hypothesis that God is begotten and therefore in no need of a Creator? Evidence, now, not a bunch of ten-dollar words amounting to "I believe". Not an argument. Not scripture. Evidence. I'll be here. Take your time.

It is alas this sort of pseudo-logical flummery which undermines those who support religion. There can never be a scientifically rational basis for religion because it is a matter of faith. You have faith in God. Good for you. That is fine.

The logical fallacy is that because you perceive there to be order in the universe, you take a mis-step and jsut know that a watchmaker just had to have made the watch. (Or any one of a number of similar arguments.) The startling and horrible truth is that nature is so large and so diverse, that it exists on so many scales, that it is beyond your comprehension that it could all just be random physics. That it could be true that with however many squillions of stars we identified yesterday, that one "little blue dot" might have experienced one lightning bolt or meteor strike too many in the primordial soup and that we are the consequence. It means, of course, that across the mind-bending enormity of the universe, there might be other lifeforms and civilsations. Maybe they aren't carbon-based. Maybe they don't send TV signals out into the eternal aether. Maybe the music of the spheres occurs at a frequency to which our eyes are blind and our ears deaf. And why is the universe so big and the speed of light so slow that we will never be able even to get to the next train station? And add to that why is it all headed to an entropic heat death? But I digress.

It is true also that our current notions of the creation of the universe - the momentary, Big Bang and exponential expansion lah-di-lah - include a horizon in time back beyond which we cannot see. Maybe some universe-creating mechanism existed beyond our ability now to discern it. Maybe it was God! This is spooky, I know, but we cannot "see" all the way back.

So, scientists object not to religion. I know many, many devout scientists. But we know that science stands apart from faith and feeling and spirituality. Scientists set out to describe nature. It is to be hoped in an orderly and understandable way but sometimes it just ain't so, Joe. Quantum physics, for example, makes everyone's ears bleed. We ask only that if you wish to have a scientific opinion, please, can you express it in a scientific way. We aren't being mean to you; we are just saying that otherwise what you say doesn't make any scientific sense and so it is best not to waste everyone's time.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That's fine. Stick with it.

17 May 2011 at 00:18  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Mr. Lakester - Appreciate your explication of the modern approach to Darwinism! Indeed, I wasn't challenging developments of the theory, because I cannot view theory as fact. As I see it, scientists posit theories specifically for testing and development, and so did Darwin. Rates of change for adaptation to habitat thus remain open to investigation, and their causes are as variable as you indicate.

My objections are to assertions (of others, not you) that scientific inquiry and Christianity cannot develop in the same mind. Clearly they can, so long as the end of the investigation is to understand some part of Truth.

In the course of investigative thought though, some people don't perceive anything unless they stub their toes on it, and yet they incline to believe that mankind is capable of explaining everthing. Others of us accept that our apparatus for apprehending the non-visible is necessarily limited----modern toolkits notwithstanding. I think we tend to have learnt that 'the more we know, the more we know we don't know.'
**************
And yes, you and I seem to agree that Darwin's historical place is at the trailhead of the investigations. I just maintain that the wilfully blind do him a disservice by claiming him as their own. When dealing with them, I think the old Monty Python clip tackles the problem rather well in hoping "there's intelligent life, somewhere out in space, 'cos there's ***all down here on earth!" (It's on U-tube).

********
So since all the mongooses I ever met were snake-fighters by nature, I'm happy to agree there (@00:18). "In the Beginning was the Word..."

17 May 2011 at 06:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I'm not doubting whether your life is fulfilling BTW, but I note that while being unsure of whether the universe just is or is caused, you live as if it is not caused. So for all practical purposes there is little difference between you an a positive atheist."

You've said it yourself there: "for all practical purposes". I have to carry on in life and that means making a choice. Dodo touched on the idea of free will earlier, though we never really got started, and there are aspects of that issue which apply to the issue of how our reality came about and what it actually is.

I have doubts that we actually have free will at all. Of course, it's crucially important to the notion of culpability, morals, punishment (local and eternal), and so on. Yet we don't really know whether we have it, and perhaps will never know. But we have to go on one way or another and so out of the two choices we assume that we have free will. It's the most obvious and sensible choice given what we think we know. In fact, one might say that the two choices are not of equal weight.

I suppose our reality could simply be the by-product of another creative process. Perhaps our universe has been collapsing and coming back into being time and again until a stable one occurred. Perhaps we're living in the creation of malevolent being rather than a benign one. Perhaps we are living in the creation of a being which doesn't care about our species. I have no idea.

Mono-theists like Christians and Muslims want the relationship in place between a purposeful creator being and its creation because it is a necessary condition of their belief systems. They can then go on from that to fill in all the many startling details on which their respective religions depend.

But can we really put that relationship in place at this point? I don't mind if it is there as just a argumental stepping stone in order to consider various god hypotheses but I'm not willing to take it as an absolute. Too much depends on it later down the line.

17 May 2011 at 06:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "My comment was really an invitation to you to elucidate your own opinion rather than me try to discuss what I take it to be. This is important, because at the level we are discussing (whether the universe needs a sustaining cause) there doesn't seem to be much difference between a non-positive atheist and an agnostic."

There isn't much difference in practice, but the two terms mean different things. One could even say that I'm an agnostic negative-atheist.

In an ideal world, it wouldn't matter which term or combination one adopts since neither positively asserts a claim. But it seems to. Saying I am an atheist seems to present a challenge to many theists. Conversely, saying I am an agnostic seems to present an opportunity to leap forward into theism to many theists.

The point is, I don't know how our reality came about and I don't know how our reality is constructed. However, that is not a weakness simply because theists of various competing types claim they do. I am quite prepared and happy to carry on living without the knowledge. Being comfortable with that in oneself is a strength.

17 May 2011 at 07:13  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Mongoose,

I'm not trying to proove God with science (I have explained already the difference between science and logic), only to give the case that faith is rational. No one great has used the watch-maker argument for at least 100 years so I don't know why that got brought up again. The teleological argument and heat death argument are both fantastic arguments for the rationality of faith. We can't prove God because He is not a scientific concept (wow deja vu), but we can show that he is logically possible. The chance of the Universe existing in a way that could generate any intelligent life whatsoever is 1x10^10^14 which is far beyond the number of atoms in the universe. Take that to mean what you will, but logically it implies that the Universe was either designed or is one of an infinite number of Universes. Both propositions are matters of faith, and one cannot be called irrational or unscientific for supporting one or the other.

17 May 2011 at 07:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Thank you for your reply. This is proving to be more diverting than usual!

I suppose I am feeling there is a paradox here. On the one hand, you reject religion because:

if I am to limit my life choices, adopt special practices, form communities, spend most of my time sustaining the belief, and so on, then I expect there to be something pretty solid to convince me of its truth.

Yet, on the other hand, you are adopting a way of life for which you acknowledge there is no solid evidence. As you put it:

I'm reserving judgement on stuff like that.

In other words, your position isn't based on reason and evidence as such, as on choice. But then you say:

I have doubts that we actually have free will at all.

I have sympathy with this doubt, because it seems to me that on materialism, it is very unlikely that we have free-will, and certainly impossible to get it passed the kind of evidentialist critique that is normally directed at God. Which is ironic, because it seems to me modernity wants to reject God because he (mis)perceived as limiting freedom.

17 May 2011 at 08:54  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Since this whole diatribe hinges on your mistaken belief that Dawkins is not entitled to call himself Professor, I take it you'll be withdrawing this post?

17 May 2011 at 09:31  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Tony B (17 May 09:31) "... hinges on ...mistaken belief that Dawkins is not entitled to call himself Professor".

A more scrupulous critic would see, on re-reading if not at first or merely careless glance, that the article gives every sign that the author well knew that Dr Dawkins was "entitled" to let himself be called emeritus professor, according to the usual custom and practice.

17 May 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

Wow..Your post has set the comments section ablaze here.

148 comments and Srizals is not in sight. A record perhaps.LOL.

E S Blofeld

17 May 2011 at 12:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to take issue where you write, "Richard Dawkins never contributed much to science ... and the scientific ideas upon which he built his reputation are increasingly discredited."

I don't know if you're dishonest or just ignorant, but this is incredibly wrong. The ideas in The Selfish Gene alone have been incredibly influential. But then there are other biological issues he's worked on, such as the evolution of evolvability, which continue to be important.

I understand you don't like Dawkins, but at least be fair to the guy.

17 May 2011 at 15:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I suppose I am feeling there is a paradox here. On the one hand, you reject religion because: [...] Yet, on the other hand, you are adopting a way of life for which you acknowledge there is no solid evidence. As you put it: [...] In other words, your position isn't based on reason and evidence as such, as on choice."

No, not a paradox. You're trying to firm it up unnecessarily to be a contradiction and going on from there by the look of it to something that might not fit.

There's something of Wittgenstein in the issue of our thinking about the not-universe. One ends up with trivial-sounding infinite regressions about creators and creations, or one ends up trying to frame the question to be about just the universe (that is, our universe) for the purposes of arguing about its relationship to our alleged creator, and there's something a bit odd in that.

But anyway, I face one or more choices: some sort of creating something, which might or might not be purposeful as far as our universe is concerned, or something else which I might or might not be able to frame as a concept in words. Is that a 50-50 choice? We have no way of determining that as far as I know.

If I choose either one as a working hypothesis then where does that take me? The first one takes me one step closer to there perhaps being a god of some sort. The second pretty much by definition could take me anywhere or nowhere. At this point, I don't really care either way. Does reason and evidence apply much here? I don't think so. It's all highly, highly speculative.

Is that a problem for me? No, why should it be? By saying that I require something pretty solid to be willing to adopt a crossed Ts dotted Is, all singing, all dancing (possibly all clapping if it's Len's version) religious paradigm involving spirit realms, powerful spiritual enemies, divine intervention, divine purpose, and so on, I'm not saying that my perception of the reality of the universe must be entirely grounded in evidence and reasoning from that evidence. There's a huge, huge leap there I think.

17 May 2011 at 18:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DanJO @17 May 2011 18:26

Your commenting is hilarious.
You never make any sense.

WV:drirectum

17 May 2011 at 19:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Anonymous: "Your commenting is hilarious. You never make any sense."

Well, probably not to you anyway. And at least I use a moniker rather than hide behind a generic one.

wv:hideyretard

17 May 2011 at 19:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@17 May 2011 19:19

handbags at dawn?

wv:peekabooicu

17 May 2011 at 20:32  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

You're trying to firm it up unnecessarily to be a contradiction

If I was confident that it was a contradiction, I would have called it a contradiction. I called it a paradox because I was unclear of whether there was a contradiction in your thinking. You have shown that there is no contradiction because you have made it clear that you are not an evidentialist (as it had appeared earlier - my mistake). Evidentialist atheists tend to fall foul of their own principles.

I think you may be right that a revealed religion is making a stronger claim than you kind of non-postive atheism. I remain unclear that theism is making a stronger claim than atheism for the reasons I have indicated.

I didn't quite get this bit:

One ends up with trivial-sounding infinite regressions about creators and creations, or one ends up trying to frame the question to be about just the universe (that is, our universe) for the purposes of arguing about its relationship to our alleged creator, and there's something a bit odd in that.

Certainly, I think theism avoids the infinite regress trap, and I think it avoids reducing the universe to just this universe. Aquinas devotes literally hundreds of pages to showing that a necessary being is not physical. Consequently, it does not matter whether this universe is caused by another physical universe and that by another and so on (even in a non-temporal way): you still end up needing God provided you think the kinds of contingencies Aquinas discusses need causing to be actualised and you don't think an infinite regress will do.

17 May 2011 at 21:58  
Anonymous Plain Speaking of London said...

Psuedoscience.

Phrenology or Evolution..What's the difference.

One was especially popular with advocates including a number of extremely influential social reformers and intellectuals as a science, but was rejected as a true science circa 19th Century. The other continues to date, despite the lack of real empirical evidence and solely as a belief system for atheists...well, they must have their opium too!

In his book The Beginner's Guide to Scientific Method Stephen S. Carey explains that pseudoscience can be defined as "fallacious applications of the scientific method" EXACTLY!

Sophistry of the very highest order - 'a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning'.

"A standard, scientific definition of evolution is: "In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next." Biology - Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, W H Freeman"

'Allele' from 'allelomorph', any of two or more variants of a gene that have the same relative position on homologous chromosomes and are responsible for alternative characteristics, such as smooth or wrinkled seeds in peas. However, despite all the mutations generated using Fruit Flies (Drosophila melanogaster) in laboratories, they still remained Fruit Flies and no mutations generated could be called beneficial and would have actually put them at risk of extinction if occurring outside the laboratories. It appears they were marvellously made to be Fruit Flies.FACT!

The term Speciation (The evolutionary formation of new biological species, usually by the division of a single species into two or more genetically distinct ones) supposedly stretches back over 3.5 billion(? add your own number) years during which life has existed on earth.It is thought to occur in multiple ways such as slowly, steadily and gradually over time or rapidly from one long static state to another (bit like CC/GW, too hot, its CC/GW, too cold, its CC/GW, etc). Flip a coin, you know the result!
Obviously no evidence to show the speciation believed in occurred (missing links, anyone?).

I know who I believe have got bumps on their head that need feeling and display their own 'Blind Faith' here.

London Calling.

17 May 2011 at 23:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I think you may be right that a revealed religion is making a stronger claim than you kind of non-postive atheism. I remain unclear that theism is making a stronger claim than atheism for the reasons I have indicated."

I think the first bit is unarguably true. There's a huge difference in the strength of the claims. For the second bit, I think there's extra steps hidden in view there.

First, we go from a creator-something to a creator-god. I think we're in the realms of deism at that point and we could perhaps stop. To get to theism, one has to jump forward again to go from a creator-god remote by definition to a creator-god which intervenes and has potentially knowable attributes. At this point, we can start talking about some sort of evidence, though not really the sort which is useful for the scientific method.

It's staple fayre to talk about pixies, leprechauns, ghosts, floating teapots, and the like here. I understand they're a completely different order of thing and therefore not analogous but they do illustrate a point about claims and their required support.

18 May 2011 at 04:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "Certainly, I think theism avoids the infinite regress trap, and I think it avoids reducing the universe to just this universe. Aquinas devotes literally hundreds of pages to showing that a necessary being is not physical. Consequently, it does not matter whether this universe is caused by another physical universe and that by another and so on (even in a non-temporal way): you still end up needing God provided you think the kinds of contingencies Aquinas discusses need causing to be actualised and you don't think an infinite regress will do."

I haven't studied Aquinas but I know some of the form and I realise that his works have had a huge influence on the beliefs of the Catholic Church. I ought to work through at least the start of his ideas properly, I expect. The stuff I have read strikes me more as theology and, whilst I don't have such a scathing view of theology as Dawkins, it does seem to be a very contingent subject.

As for the 'evidentialist atheists' you mentioned earlier, I have seen people go too far in their demands for evidence so that their detractors end up making what seems to me to be quite odd claims about their actual position. I suppose it's all just 'forum stuff', casting each other as extreme versions of themselves. The underlying point of it, I think, is that unless things have pretty solid foundations, all sorts of things become possible.

I think we have a natural propensity as a species to seek and see patterns even where they don't actually exist outside of coincidence. If we're not careful then we end up with claims about the healing or money-generating properties of coloured crystals when placed around the home and retorts about (say) observer effects when challenged. I'm not saying religion as a whole is like that but I think we have to have some approach to try to test and limit the extent of various claims to go forward in life.

18 May 2011 at 05:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

18 May 2011 at 05:19  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

I think the first bit is unarguably true.

The reason I am unsure is that I think it possible that atheism (postive atheism at any rate) requires claims which are not only unknowable but possibly absurd. For example, unless the physical reality can be shown to be necessary, the atheist will be caught up in saying it neither receives its existence from another nor has existence in itself (i.e. it is not necessary), and yet it exists. Questions can be raised about the intellectual cogency of that. For surely, to say something doesn't have existence in itself and doesn't receive existence is the same thing as saying it doesn't exist. But physical reality does exist. Certainly Garrigou-Lagrange seems to have had a debate in France about that with some atheist philosophers, and the atheists ended up denying the principle of non contradiction.

Secondly, if physical reality has no existence in itself then it exists ex nihilo. But as Aquinas points out the difference between being and non being is infinite, therefore only an infinite being can create ex nihilo. A non being certainly cannot create itself and cross this infinite gap in order to be.

The trouble is, we don't know whether atheism entails such absurdities, but if it does, it is a stronger (!) claim than revealed religion.

think we're in the realms of deism at that point and we could perhaps stop. To get to theism, one has to jump forward again to go from a creator-god remote by definition to a creator-god which intervenes and has potentially knowable attributes. At this point, we can start talking about some sort of evidence, though not really the sort which is useful for the scientific method.

I'm unhappy about the word "deism" because it seems to mean different things to different people. As to God's attributes, this is one of Dawkins' most obvious errors. He tells us that Aquinas gives us "absolutely no reason to endow [God] with any of the properties normally ascribed to God." In fact, Aquinas devotes literally hundreds of tightly argued philosophical pages to demonstrating just those attributes. It's just that, if you're Dawkins, you don't need to understand your opponent before you attack him, because your fans won't know any more about what you are talking about than you do.

I haven't studied Aquinas

May I recommend Edward Feser's book Aquinas? It's entirely philosophical.

If we're not careful then we end up with claims about the healing or money-generating properties of coloured crystals when placed around the home

Quite! Of course, the Catholic Church is at least as opposed to such bogus stuff (if not more so) than any atheist.

18 May 2011 at 09:06  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Mr J:

"Richard Dawkins retired from his professorship in 2008.. he continues to be referred to, wrongly, as Professor Dawkins."

IRMC

18 May 2011 at 09:21  
Anonymous The People said A-Men said...

PSOL 17 May 2011 23:43

"and display their own 'Blind Faith' here."

Read the comments and see the Revolving Teapotists out in force. Evo-warriors.

Wonder what their 'hymns' sound like?
Monkey See Monkey Do - Sonic Boom Six, Monkey to Man - Elvis Costello, Monkey Gone To Heaven - Pixies or Part Man, Part Monkey - Bruce Springsteen.
What about Bad Monkey - The Richard Thompson Band, for all the atheists out there.

Bonjourno doodle doo and gutenmorgenmongous, mate.

music: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive

A-Men

18 May 2011 at 10:12  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Tony B 09:21_Thank you for responding, and I see what you wish to maintain. May I retract words of mine about inattentive reading?

But (without attempting to change your mind, only to explain mine), my reading (at 17 May 11:11) remains (unless the author, Cranmer, declares otherwise): that the article, as a whole and including the words you have quoted, conveys that the author well knew that Dr Dawkins was "entitled" to let himself be called emeritus professor, according to the usual custom and practice.

18 May 2011 at 12:44  
Blogger mongoose said...

Mr Lakester91 "We can't prove God because He is not a scientific concept (wow deja vu), but we can show that he is logically possible."

Apologies about the slowness of response but, virtuous pagan that I am, I seem to spend most of my waking hours these days circling cricket fields or swimming pools. Anyway...

Excellent. So we agree. God is not a scientific concept. End. That is what Mr Dawkins so loudly thinks too. He would have believers therefore remain silent as to how this non-scientific concept impinges upon science. Watches and watchmakers, intelligent design, Usher and his nonsense, teleology, the mad exercise of (im)probability - It MUST be, it HAS to be - to somehow show the evidence of, to see in the fury of the moment, the Master's hand. Science is science; religion is religion. One can do both quite happily but not at the same time.

If there is a gap or difference BTW between logic and science - beyond the trivially pedantic - I am afraid that I cannot get a fag-paper in it. Science surely is the structured exercise of logic, often using its own troublesome mathematical language, to describe nature. I think X. Let's test that. Was X right or not? It's just a collection of wee logical yes/no gates.

18 May 2011 at 13:25  
Blogger Albert said...

Mongoose,

God is not a scientific concept. End. That is what Mr Dawkins so loudly thinks too. He would have believers therefore remain silent as to how this non-scientific concept impinges upon science.

I agree with this - but what it means is that science cannot resolve the question of God either way -and this is perhaps Dawkins' error.

teleology, the mad exercise of (im)probability

The question of teleology goes beyond science. Science raises this question but cannot answer it as such.

If there is a gap or difference BTW between logic and science - beyond the trivially pedantic - I am afraid that I cannot get a fag-paper in it. Science surely is the structured exercise of logic, often using its own troublesome mathematical language, to describe nature. I think X. Let's test that. Was X right or not? It's just a collection of wee logical yes/no gates.

Logic is deductive, while science is inductive, as such, science stands some way away from strict logic - hence scientists revise their conclusions and interpretations.

18 May 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger mongoose said...

Albert "I agree with this - but what it means is that science cannot resolve the question of God either way -and this is perhaps Dawkins' error."

Exactly so, Sir. Our near 200-post conversation shows the peril of mixing these separate concepts. We should have perhaps submitted our different dictionaries at the outset.

As for logic and science, yes, of course, science is the inductive process of seeking to describe nature. The logic comes at the end rather than the start; the hammer rather than the nail, perhaps.

It is interesting to note that we started - or I did - by mentioning Newton's Theory of Gravitation. It was found, centuries later, not to describe the motion of Mercury with sufficient precision. Incidentally, a level of precision unavailable to poor old Isaac. And so scientists, if not happily, tore down one of the major building blocks of science. Oddly enough, F=G.m1.m2/r^2 is more than accurate enough for space travel. It's not right, Newton never knew how gravity works, and yet he will get you to the next galaxy with quite adequate accuracy. Isaac did his inductive science nearly 300-odd years ago and he had no idea how it worked. Brilliantly, he knew that he didn't know. We still don't - although theories abound - and perhaps we never will know. And that is something perhaps for Dawkins to consider.

18 May 2011 at 16:30  
Blogger Albert said...

Thanks Mongoose for your comments on gravitation. It is fascinating how that happens! I think something similar happened around Ptolemy's and Copernicus' models of the universe too.

18 May 2011 at 17:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "The reason I am unsure is that I think it possible that atheism (postive atheism at any rate) requires claims which are not only unknowable but possibly absurd."

I have never met a positive-atheist, though I'm sure there are people who might fall into that camp by accident or by lack of sufficent thinking. All the atheists I know are really quite careful about what they claim. Even Dawkins deliberately stops just shy of certainty and I rather suspect that he goes that far for political reasons.

"Secondly, if physical reality has no existence in itself then it exists ex nihilo. But as Aquinas points out the difference between being and non being is infinite, therefore only an infinite being can create ex nihilo. A non being certainly cannot create itself and cross this infinite gap in order to be."

On the face of it, that sounds like parlour tricks rather than philosophy but I suppose I need to look at the whole thing.

"May I recommend Edward Feser's book Aquinas? It's entirely philosophical."

You may. I may even buy it. When I ordered a copy of the God Delusion I ordered Alistair McGrath's book at the same time to see how the/an other side might view it. I think philosophy is best approached that way too, rather than reinventing the wheel so to speak.

18 May 2011 at 17:26  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

I have never met a positive-atheist...Even Dawkins deliberately stops just shy of certainty

Dawkins says, when it comes to God, he is where he is with fairies. I suspect that's pretty certain. But the real issue is what is entailed by there being no God. I suspect many people who think of themselves as atheists (of one form or another) do so because they think there is no (or little) evidence for God. My interest is in showing that once classical theism is understood atheism entails unseen claims too. If evidence is important (or the atheist ridicules the believer for lack of evidence) that is important.

On the face of it, that sounds like parlour tricks rather than philosophy but I suppose I need to look at the whole thing.

The key thing is grasping the underlying metaphysics.

to see how the/an other side might view it

Quite, I've just read Philosophers without gods edited by Louise Antony. The 20 philsophers represented generally looked like positive atheists to me (in the sense that they deny God exists). But it also seemed quite obvious that the god they were denying is not the God of classical theism. So, on my terms, they probably weren't atheists (or I would be on theirs!).

18 May 2011 at 18:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "Dawkins says, when it comes to God, he is where he is with fairies. I suspect that's pretty certain."

Does he mean the Christian God, or the Muslim God, or just a generic creator god? I have read that, like me, he is pretty nonchalent about deism when that simply means a remote creator. Why wouldn't he be, really, as it has no ramifications for our lives.

It matters because whenever I talk about god, rather than Christianity, I'm usually slotting in a generic theist one on the basis that one is as good or bad as another to me. When Christians talk about God, they're talking about their Trinitarian one with all its manifold detail. When Muslims talk about God, they're talking about their unitarian one and all its detail.

Negative-atheists look at specific god hypotheses and then decide to continue being atheist on the basis of it. There's not much to be said about an undefined place-holder god thing so it's not really in the realm of theism/a-theism.

18 May 2011 at 18:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert, as an Aquinas expert, how do you think he might resolve a one-step regression back to the Being whose existence is not contingent on anything? That is, our universe is the product of a contingent Being who is the product of the non-contingent Being.

What if the non-contingent Being is the kind of necessarily good Being Christians like to imagine.

What if the contingent Being has free will as a gift from the non-contingent Being and creates our universe as an act of free will and some of the species in the universe are designed differently to the way Christians like to think?

Is that possible in Aquinas-like thinking?

18 May 2011 at 19:27  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

When Christians talk about God, they're talking about their Trinitarian one with all its manifold detail

In a philosophical context that's not always true. As a Catholic, I believe God can be known with certainty by the light of natural reason, but reason cannot show that God is Trinitarian - he might as well be Islamic for all reason knows. Responding to revelation is always about faith (though reason may come into the equation of course).

What do you mean by a deistic God? I can think of at least two meanings. But there is something interesting here, that Dawkins is content for such a God to exist because such a God is remote. I wonder if atheists (of whatever sort) are really more worried about being free of (what Hitchens calls) a cosmic dictator. In other words, atheism is (in part) a psychological response to a perceived threat. If so, then a more adequate notion of God, who is the cause and guarantor of our freedom (contra mechanistic determinism which worries about freedom) would be more attractive. Certainly, I see God as the source and guarantor of my freedom and that is what the Bible speaks of and classical theism defends.

Albert, as an Aquinas expert

I don't think I can plead guilty to that!

our universe is the product of a contingent Being who is the product of the non-contingent Being.

I am not completely sure I get this question so here goes: Aquinas reaches God by looking at contingent features of the universe, and saying something must cause those contingent features of the universe to be (or they would remain mere possibilities). Now you can have a very long regress of beings doing the causing, but for Aquinas you have to end up with a being without that contingency. There may be many contingent beings in the meantime, but he thinks you must come back to a non-contingent being or all you would have is a series of possibilities rather than actualities: nothing would exist.

What if the non-contingent Being is the kind of necessarily good Being Christians like to imagine.

And this everyone calls God.

What if the contingent Being has free will as a gift from the non-contingent Being and creates our universe as an act of free will and some of the species in the universe are designed differently to the way Christians like to think?

You'd still come back to a non-contingent being who is the first cause of the operation and indeed freedom of the contingent being. God wouldn't be surprised by the exercise of freedom of the contingent creator and would have created the being knowing how it would exercise its freedom. He might have chosen that being rather than another because of how it would behave.

18 May 2011 at 22:08  
Blogger mongoose said...

And, Albert, I have been trying to work out for a day and a half if "everything needs a cause". Where should I look to understand that? (If you have the time.)

19 May 2011 at 01:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "Now you can have a very long regress of beings doing the causing, but for Aquinas you have to end up with a being without that contingency."

Well, yes. I'm not disputing that in the argument here. I've assumed it is true for the time being and reasoned from it. What I'm saying is that even if a non-contingent Being exists in some way that we don't and perhaps can't understand, can we say that what directly created our universe is 'God' in the way that religionists want? Or is it simply an assertion?

"In other words, atheism is (in part) a psychological response to a perceived threat."

Technically, no. But at the personal level then perhaps it is for some. For me, at its most simple, I don't see why people should dedicate their whole lives to worshipping this thing, worry about and judge what goes on in the bedrooms of other people, try to limit some medical research, argue against birth control, intrude into the agonising decision to end one's own life in certain situations, and so on. It's not 'cosmic dictatorship' for atheists but 'suburban dictatorship' for want of a better phrase because we haven't accepted that an involved god exists. That sounds a bit stroppy there, I know, but it goes back to the core point: are the very detailed theistic paradigms people have adopted and and go on to promote actually reasonably justifiable over the alternative of living as best we can within our current knowledge of reality?

19 May 2011 at 06:41  
Anonymous len said...

Wow those who intellectualise Christianity certainly tie themselves in knots.
No wonder God chose the 'foolishness of the Cross 'to reveal Himself to mankind.

Thomas Aquinas`s mission in life was to reconcile the Christian faith with human reason.
It was during the writing of his 'Summa Theoligica', third part, "On Christ" that Aquinas had an emotionally shattering ,spiritual experience that led him to say"I have seen that which makes all I have written and taught look small to me, my writing days are over.
Many believe that whilst writing and studying "On Christ" Aquinas had a vision and met the risen Lord face to face.
............................

I can vouch that this can happen because it happened to me!
What God does for one he will do for others, for He said " those who seek me with all their heart WILL find Me."
.................................
I spent the greater part of my life as a confirmed Atheist until I genuinely asked for answers regarding the existence of God.

19 May 2011 at 08:14  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Well said Len. I have had the same experience, although I was closer to agnostic than atheist, but at the time felt that proof of God's existence was an impossibility.

19 May 2011 at 10:00  
Blogger Albert said...

Mongoose

if "everything needs a cause". Where should I look to understand that?

I cannot see what reasons could be brought forward to support that proposition, but I can see reasons to reject it. If there was a being who essence was existence, it would be impossible for that being to be caused. Such a being could however be entirely responsible for the existence of all other things. As to where you might explore this, I would again recommend Feser's book Aquinas.

19 May 2011 at 10:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

those who intellectualise Christianity certainly tie themselves in knots.

Where are the knots?

Certainly, faith is about faith not reason and Aquinas said that, compared with the vision of Christ, all he had written was so much straw. However, in our culture, many people think there is no reason to believe there is a God, and so it is much harder for them to hear the message of Christ.

What I am interested in here is responding to St Peter's teaching: "Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you", basing myself on the worldview of St Paul that: "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made."

19 May 2011 at 10:17  
Blogger mongoose said...

ALbert " cannot see what reasons could be brought forward to support that proposition,"

No, nor could I. Just checking. Thanks.

19 May 2011 at 12:38  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Sorry, I missed your post.

What I'm saying is that even if a non-contingent Being exists in some way that we don't and perhaps can't understand, can we say that what directly created our universe is 'God' in the way that religionists want?

No, I think that if the rest of the argument is sound, God is a "direct" creator, insofar as, if anything else exists, it is because he is joining essence and existence in that thing - he is therefore directly providing the existence and capacity to act. Secondly, as I've said, I don't think a finite being can create ex nihilo.

are the very detailed theistic paradigms people have adopted and and go on to promote actually reasonably justifiable over the alternative of living as best we can within our current knowledge of reality?

As I've indicated, the bar of reason may not exist at quite the same level as it appears - i.e with the burden of proof entirely on one side. The paradigm of faith rests on an entirely reasonably assumption: believing an authority.

As for the moral examples you give, I think the worries the Catholic Church has about them come from philosophy in addition to theology. Finally, I am never really sure whether an adequate metaphysical grounding of moral truth is possible on atheism, and therefore, there would be no way by which an atheist may judge which is a better way of living. Indeed, I think as a result of this void, atheists have ended up interferring in the private lives of others rather a great deal. That they don't worry so much about killing the innocent human beings is a further indication that there is something wrong here.

19 May 2011 at 16:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "No, I think that if the rest of the argument is sound, God is a "direct" creator, insofar as, if anything else exists, it is because he is joining essence and existence in that thing - he is therefore directly providing the existence and capacity to act. Secondly, as I've said, I don't think a finite being can create ex nihilo."

I have now ordered one of Feser's books on Aquinas. The essence thing sounds, on the face of it, a bit convenient but I'll have a read and see what I think.

"Finally, I am never really sure whether an adequate metaphysical grounding of moral truth is possible on atheism, and therefore, there would be no way by which an atheist may judge which is a better way of living."

I hear that a lot from the religious many of whom are flummoxed by the idea of a morality that is not absolute, thinking that the alternative must be some sort of relative one where everyone just does what they like. This is not the medium to explain the alternatives, though I set out one form here some time ago.

"Indeed, I think as a result of this void, atheists have ended up interferring in the private lives of others rather a great deal. That they don't worry so much about killing the innocent human beings is a further indication that there is something wrong here."

We're not a defined group, like Christians are by definition. We're individuals who share a lack of theism. If the interfering bit involves totalitarian meglomanics then I have no patience with that fallacy ... but perhaps you don't mean that. I also don't accept the characterisation if you are talking about abortion at the end there.

19 May 2011 at 18:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "I can vouch that this can happen because it happened to me!
What God does for one he will do for others, for He said " those who seek me with all their heart WILL find Me.""

I'm always interested in hearing the detail of an encounter like that. It intrigues me like the awakening thing from Buddhists or spiritual planes from shamans. I'm sure there's something in all this, although perhaps not what it might first appear to be.

Have you wondered why one actually has to make a leap of faith (or whatever one might call it) in order to seek it with all one's heart? I know people cite free will and stuff but, really, why must it be so apparently hard?

For something that is the very essence of reality (in one way of thinking) and is powerful enough to create the enormity of the universe, it seems rather over the top not to intervene a little more obviously.

19 May 2011 at 18:18  
Anonymous len said...

Danjo,
I am a person who wants to know the 'bottom line'.
My mother was a Christian and I always used to question her and say"how can you believe that with no proof.?"
She remained unshakable so we agreed to differ on this subject.
I came to a point in my life when I was searching for spiritual truth.I wanted to know what was true and what was fake.
I examined everything to do with different religions and nothing convinced me as to their authenticity.
I met a Christian Pastor and spent ages asking him questions(must have driven the poor guy to distraction)and it was during this period(several months) of searching and questioning that I had a supernatural experience ( a vision of the risen Lord.)

This happened ten yrs ago and I have been coming to terms with this since then.Still don`t understand everything ,but KNOW that Jesus is a reality and lives today.
Jesus wants to be known by everyone but it seems that WE put up so many barriers and defences that this becomes difficult. Jesus will not interfere with our free will.
We must make the first move, then He will respond.The one thing which was overwhelming was His Love.

20 May 2011 at 08:54  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

The essence thing sounds, on the face of it, a bit convenient but I'll have a read and see what I think.

The "essence thing" really reflects the way philosophers saw the world before William of Ockham thought it meant reason would limit God's freedom, ditched essence and created the idea of a divine dictatorship. So it's not convenient, it's just the way the world looked before odd theological opinions messed it up and created the modern world-view.

I hear that a lot from the religious many of whom are flummoxed by the idea of a morality that is not absolute, thinking that the alternative must be some sort of relative one

Relative morality requires there to be some moral absolute, against which things can be judged to be relative. I think a morality without any absolutes is not a morality at all, for it means any moral claim can be trumped by a non moral claim. But I'm happy to listen to an alternative way of seeing things.

If the interfering bit involves totalitarian meglomanics then I have no patience with that fallacy

I'm not sure if it a fallacy, but I hardly need to appeal to totalitarian meglomanics to prove the point.

I also don't accept the characterisation if you are talking about abortion at the end there

I wasn't particularly, but I take it you don't think a human foetus is an innocent human being. What is it then?

You said to Len:

For something that is the very essence of reality (in one way of thinking) and is powerful enough to create the enormity of the universe, it seems rather over the top not to intervene a little more obviously.

What evidence would convince you then Dan?

20 May 2011 at 10:48  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

We must make the first move, then He will respond.

I'm very sympathetic with what you say, but as a Catholic, I must stress the priority of grace over works ("we must make the first move").

20 May 2011 at 10:49  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Rebel Saint said

Dear Chap

Ernst has read your comments on The New Statement post by Nelson Jones (The Heresiarch) regarding Dawkins.

Ernst goes down on one knee, bows his head low whilst he doffs his flat cap in a grand arching gesture, that your response is excellently concise/succinct and old Ernsty feels unworthy, my lad.

E S Blofeld

20 May 2011 at 16:03  
Anonymous len said...

Albert, 'Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.'(Revelation 3:20)
...........
Jesus awaits our response.He will not move until we do so.

James 8:8a “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.

Jesus is drawing people to Himself through the Spirit but he awaits our response, our seeking Him.This is not an entirely passive thing.

'And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.'(Hebrews 11:16

20 May 2011 at 16:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I wasn't particularly, but I take it you don't think a human foetus is an innocent human being. What is it then?"

It's a human foetus.

You've introduced "innocent" into there too. Is that for emotive reasons or does it have another purpose?

"What evidence would convince you then Dan?"

Oh I'm sure a Road to Damascus thing would convince me personally. I'm just bothered there about why it's universally so much effort when one can still have free will to choose god's side or not, like Lucifer, even when one 'knows' that god exists.

As a sort of experiment some time ago, I spent about a year talking to "Mr God" (as in Mr God, This is Anna) in a familiar way every day. It wasn't a case of "oh, I suppose it's time to pretend to talk to god now", it was a little like talking to one's dog. I didn't expect and answer, like one wouldn't from a dog, but I talked sensibly and naturally.

I suppose some people use a diary to do the same thing. But anyway, I realised that I was beginning to attribute stuff to Mr God and seeing patterns in things. I stopped at that point because i could see what was actually happening. Now, if Mr God wanted to make contact then it had the ideal opportunity back then. I was 'all ears'. But no.

By the way, I've ditched the meglomanic stuff and the vague implications of other stuff as I don't think there's value in talking about it if it is not already obviously about Stalin et al.

20 May 2011 at 17:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

albert: "Secondly, as I've said, I don't think a finite being can create ex nihilo."

Just going back to that, why would the contingent being have to create stuff out of nothing? It's in its own different universe and who knows what that is like in there? It may have created our universe out of something, such as a very tiny but very, very, very dense piece of Stuff which breaks up into quarks when prodded.

20 May 2011 at 17:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

Forgive me, I was slightly teasing in my last comment to you. Of course we must respond to Christ. I was being picky about your choice of words "We must make the first move" - surely grace must act on us before we are even capable of making a move. Therefore, the first move must be God's grace towards us: "We love because he first loved us" as St John says. So grace has priority over works - do you agree?

20 May 2011 at 17:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

It's a human foetus.

I think the word foetus just means "little one." So you think it is a little human being, don't you? You agree it is human, it is a little one and (therefore) it is a being.

As for innocent, I didn't put that in for any other reason than that "innocent" is morally significant. I'm not a pacifist, so I think there can be occasions when human life may be directly and deliberately taken - but not when it is innocent.

As for what would convince you to believe, it's rather hard to unpack across the internet. But one thing seems clear - if we are truly to accept God, we cannot do that by measuring him by any created standard. This is because such a being would have to be the first truth - every other truth is measured by him.

I realised that I was beginning to attribute stuff to Mr God and seeing patterns in things. I stopped at that point because i could see what was actually happening. Now, if Mr God wanted to make contact then it had the ideal opportunity back then.

But perhaps God was in those patterns - after all, if he is who Christians say he is, he is in everything. I think the key thing though is our response to Christ - as the great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar put it - because love alone is credible. A vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus can be later dismissed as a hallucination etc. if we have not love for the love that is shown.

why would the contingent being have to create stuff out of nothing? It's in its own different universe and who knows what that is like in there? It may have created our universe out of something, such as a very tiny but very, very, very dense piece of Stuff which breaks up into quarks when prodded

I'm afraid we are back to the essence/existence thing you have already expressed concerns about. If a subdeity were to make our world using his own powers, out of matter God had already created, then the continued existence of the matter (together with the subdeity) would rely directly on God. Creation is for us in esse not just in fieri.

20 May 2011 at 17:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I think the word foetus just means "little one." So you think it is a little human being, don't you? You agree it is human, it is a little one and (therefore) it is a being."

It's a foetus. A foetus is a human being in development. It is 'human life', but not 'a human life' until a certain stage of development. A human life is essentially about being a subject of one's own life. Anencephalics are human life but, I'd argue, not a human life. One needs a functioning cerebrum, I think.

20 May 2011 at 18:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

not a human life. One needs a functioning cerebrum

Such confidence over such eternal philosophical questions! So what is "a human life" and why is a functioning cerebrum a necessary qualification?

20 May 2011 at 19:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Such confidence over such eternal philosophical questions! So what is "a human life" and why is a functioning cerebrum a necessary qualification"

You cut off the "I think" at the end to make it sound more so. I'll go with all my words in that sentence, not just the ones you choose, so that it's still an opinion.

Why (say) a zygote? I have already said what makes a human life in my previous comment. Feel free to reread it, and to look up what 'anencephalic' means if you are unfamiliar with it.

For me, a mind is what makes us properly alive as a being. Someone in a permanent vegetative state i.e. brain dead is not the same fundamental sort of thing as (say) you are now. It's still human life though while the body is alive.

20 May 2011 at 21:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"I'm not a pacifist, so I think there can be occasions when human life may be directly and deliberately taken - but not when it is innocent."

Yes, for self-defense and the like. I don't advocate the death penalty though, in fact I'm very much against it. Nor do I advocate killing the inhabitants of an entire city, down to the last man, woman and child, no matter how godless they are or how inconveniently their city is placed.

20 May 2011 at 21:30  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

You cut off the "I think"

Yes, sorry, re-reading my comment, it sounded rather patronising - which I didn't intend. I was just slightly startled by the confidence with which you are able to decide who can live and who can die.

Why (say) a zygote?

Because I think that substantially it remains the same thing until death as an old person. Nothing has to be added to it - except that it must draw its nutrition from its mother. In contrast, something does need adding to an egg. But the zygote already has in potential all the things that will develop - they are not added from outside. I think that makes it just as astonishing as an organism that has developed all those things.

A human life is essentially about being a subject of one's own life.

What do you mean by "subject"?

a mind is what makes us properly alive as a being. Someone in a permanent vegetative state i.e. brain dead is not the same fundamental sort of thing as (say) you are now.

I don't think the mind and the brain are the same thing, so even if I accept your definition of the need for a mind, then the immaturity of the brain would not prevent me from regarding an organism as not a human life.

I don't advocate the death penalty though, in fact I'm very much against it. Nor do I advocate killing the inhabitants of an entire city, down to the last man, woman and child, no matter how godless they are or how inconveniently their city is placed.

Agreed.

20 May 2011 at 22:04  
Anonymous len said...

Albert,
Agreed.(17:34)

21 May 2011 at 08:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Albert: "I was just slightly startled by the confidence with which you are able to decide who can live and who can die."

Well, that's one way of describing my opinion I suppose. I feel I ought to deconstruct that but it drains me just looking at it I'm afraid.

"What do you mean by "subject"?"

Being a subject of one's own life? It means one experiences it. It is wrapped up in the notion of consciousness.

"I don't think the mind and the brain are the same thing, so even if I accept your definition of the need for a mind, then the immaturity of the brain would not prevent me from regarding an organism as not a human life."

The mind and the brain are very clearly not the same thing. The brain is the biological platform for the mind which, by observation of the consequences, arises from it in my way of thinking. I think the cerebrum is the key to that happening.

I don't mind at all if you don't accept my opinion. I'm not in charge of a medical ethics board so I'm not in charge of whether or at what point a developing foetus can be stopped from developing into a human life.

Treating a zygote as a human being is quite tidy in some ways since the point of fusing is definitive, but rather messy in others because there are times when the wellbeing of the mother and the foetus may be in conflict.

You're informed by your religious beliefs, I expect, which has many things to say about the Sanctity of [human] Life. I am not. We can say each other is evil but, really, I expect we're both just reasoning from different values with the best of intentions. You have your church institution on your side, which does have political power in this regard, and I appear so far to have medical ethics boards on mine.

21 May 2011 at 08:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

By the way, if I am picked up and put on the top of a slippery slope leading to the beliefs and actions of Adolf Hitler because of that then I won't bother responding. I've seen enough of that particular fallacy to last a lifetime.

21 May 2011 at 08:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Being a subject of one's own life? It means one experiences it. It is wrapped up in the notion of consciousness.

Even if I accept that, then given that you believe mind and brain are different, couldn't a foetus have consciousness of itself, even of not of the outside world (or womb!). And when in gestation (or after) does that wider consciousness arise anyway?

Treating a zygote as a human being is quite tidy in some ways since the point of fusing is definitive, but rather messy in others because there are times when the wellbeing of the mother and the foetus may be in conflict.

But that messiness exists any way, the wellbeing of one may be compromised by the existence of another. That's why we have rights, so that the vulnerable can be protected against "wellbeing" claims of others. The issue then is simply whether or not the zygote is a human being, the truth of this should not be compromised by pragmatic issues (unless one doesn't really believe in the right of the innocent to life, in whihc case). Of course, even if I accept the point about the mother's wellbeing, the amount of abortions that would be accepted on this position (especially after those which are really covered by double-effect are removed) would be few.

which has many things to say about the Sanctity of [human] Life. I am not.

For practical purposes sanctity of life really covers the same grounds as a secular right to life. Of course, I am unconvinced that on the secular view it is possible to maintain a proper right to life (i.e. one that is absolute). But my position is entirely defensible on philosophical grounds. So this is a good example of how a neutral non-theist or deist position doesn't help. How you see the foetus is shaped by your metaphysics.

I appear so far to have medical ethics boards on mine

Which medical ethics board? Pro-lifers are often excluded from such boards, so the conclusions are foreclosed. On the other hand, medical ethics boards could include people like Peter Singer, who argues that if one allows abortion at all, there is no coherent cut off point in preganancy, and so one could allow infanticide up to a certain age. For him allowing abortion but not allowing infanticide is just special pleading.

P.S. I'm not about to accuse you of being on Hitlerite slippery slope. You're clearly not in that category.

21 May 2011 at 11:29  

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