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Dawkins in Lynchburg

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William Crawley | 14:40 UK time, Sunday, 3 December 2006

What happened when Richard Dawkins was questioned by students and lecturers from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, a fundamentalist Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia? Dawkins has been keeping a (sometimes hilarious) diary of his God Delusion book tour. He gave a reading in the town of Lynchburg last month, on 24 October, and the event was attended by quite a few Liberty students and staff. Here's how Dawkin's describes the evening:

Last night in Lynchburg, Virginia, home of the infamous Jerry Falwell, was memorable. The large hall at Randolph Macon Woman’s College was packed. I gave a fairly short program of readings from The God Delusion, and then the bulk of the evening was given over to much more than an hour of Q & A. The first questioner announced himself as coming from Liberty (Falwell’s 'University'), and he began by saying he had never been so insulted, yet simultaneously so amused, by any lecture. Many of the questioners announced themselves as either students or faculty from Liberty, rather than from Randolph Macon which was my host institution. One by one they tried to trip me up, and one by one their failure to do so was applauded by the audience. Finally, I said that my advice to all Liberty students was to resign immediately and apply to a proper university instead. That received thunderous applause, so that I almost began to feel slightly sorry for the Liberty people. Only almost and only slightly, however.

You can watch that Q&A here:

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 09:02 PM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

I wonder if Robert Godwin’s book “One Cosmos Under God” is not a significant advance beyond the standard Neo-Darwinist thinking of Dawkins et al. (evolution and biological complexity are the products of random mutation and natural selection at the level of genes.)

Godwin seems to fall into the Esoteric Evolutionist category (evolution is both a physical and metaphysical process that proceeds according to hidden esoteric blueprints working themselves out in consciousness and matter.)

Dawkins would agree that fixed physical laws have controlled the universe’s evolution from the Big Bang to the present day. Dawkins does not claim to be a physicist but does claim that these same laws control biological evolution. The question that Dawkins, nor anyone else for that matter, can not answer is why these physical laws exist in the first place.

It is the presence of these laws that give direction to everything happening in the universe.

In a March 16, 2003 interview on Sunday Sequence discussing the book “A Devil’s Chaplain" Dawkins said the following: “There are possible good reasons for believing in some sort of grand supernatural intelligence..... there are modern physicists who believe that the universe, if you actually look at the laws of the universe, they are to some physicists too good to be true. And this suggests a very interesting case for a possible very very deep reason why we might believe in some sort of grand fundamental intelligence underlying the universe ..... what I am talking about which is a highly sophisticated physicists' theory.”

The universe has expanded from a state in which all the matter and energy in the universe was at an immense temperature and density. (Physicists do not agree on what happened before this.) After the big bang the universe expanded and cooled. Atoms came into being followed later by molecules. All of this ‘creation’ took place under the direction of fixed physical laws which dictated what way the universe would evolve with the passage of time.

One such law is that delineated by Einstein which tells us how energy and mass are singularly related i.e. E=MC2 where C is the velocity of light.

Godwin’s model of evolution has an interesting extension beyond Dawkins. Godwin would say that although for most of its existence the universe appeared to have been only ‘material’ it was, because of those same physical laws, moving ever so slowly to the point where some matter began to be converted into life. DNA came into being and organisms appeared.

This was life still in a ‘material’ form – it was life that could not ‘think’. These life forms still exist - a tree for example.

Material ‘life' can not ‘think’.

Later life evolved to the point where it began to become ‘spiritual’ - life became able to ‘think’. The spiritual ‘matter’ that “I AM” in life can now do what the material ‘matter’ than I am at the instant of my death can not – it ‘thinks’.

We now stand at a point in the evolution of the universe (of which we are an integral part) where we can say that the mass and energy of the original universe has now evolved to the extent that part of the original 'mass and energy' of the universe is now capable of ‘thinking’ about how ‘it’ has ‘evolved’. This trend to a higher level thinking (a spiritual universe) is the direction being taken by the universe as determined by its physical laws.

Now here is an interesting thought. Given that energy exchanges with mass in the material universe according to Einstein’s equation, might one not speculate that matter might also be undergoing a parallel conversion into ‘spiritual energy’.

Could we postulate that ‘spiritual energy’ is being created in a manner that is a function, for example, of mass and time?

In the material realm the relationship between mass and energy is, as mentioned above, mE=MC2 where mE stands for material energy. Might there in the spiritual realm exist a similar equation of the form sE=MTx where sE stands for spiritual energy related to mass by some power of T, the time that the universe has existed since it was created?

Which brings us back to the original statement:

If you look at the laws of the universe, they are to some physicists too good to be true. And this suggests a very interesting case for a reason why we might believe in some sort of grand fundamental intelligence underlying the universe.

Comments anyone?

Regards,
Michael N. Hull

There is increasing evidence that life did emerge from a primordial soup perhaps even from elsewhere in the universe before the birth of our solar system. See BBC Science website
But just becuuse we don't know the exact source as yet doesn't mean you have to invoke a supernatural designer or 'spiritual energy' - whatever that is? Life by it's very nature - evolves - and eventually it will have self-knowledge - it's just a matter of time and the probability is that there is more advanced life than human elsewhere in the universe. But there is no subsatntial difference between 'non thinking' life and us - just a matter of TIME, one of the most difficult concepts for us to appreciate.

  • 3.
  • At 11:57 PM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • Billy wrote:

Where did the space for the universe evolve from,Do Darwinians honestly believe that everything came from nothing.

  • 4.
  • At 12:20 AM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Cheryl O'Shea wrote:

Billy you ask Darwinians how they can believe everything cae form nothing. That's exactly what christianity teaches in the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (the creation of the world from nothing). Same problem for Christians.

Billy- There are some questions that the theory of evolution does not attempt to answer. One of them is your first question about the origins of 'space' for the universe; ie. where did the physical constats of our dimensional universe come from? There are several working theories, but none look likely to answer this question.

In short Billy, a claim that evolution occurred is not a claim that we know how it got started or that we fully understand it.

  • 6.
  • At 01:47 AM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Alan wrote in Post 2:

"But just because we don't know the exact source as yet doesn't mean you have to invoke a supernatural designer or 'spiritual energy' - whatever that is?"

Alan: I'm not sure you understood my post. This may be my fault - I tend to think freely as I write and go with the first draft. Anyway I'm sure as others comment on my post I will learn if what I said was comprehensible or not and then you and I can take the discussion further.

However, with relation to the comment of yours that I quoted above, I guess my point is that since we don't know why the universe has physical laws, only that it does, and we don't know whether these laws had to be 'created' or not, then we can't 'a priori' rule out, as a matter of science or religious belief, that some entitity created the laws.

Dawkins should admit this much if he doesn't back track from his remarks that I quoted him making in the earlier Sunday Sequence interview.

Dawkins is confusing on this point. What was he talking about when he said (and I quote) that if there is some sort of "grand fundamental intelligence underlying the universe" it is not "God" as Christianity would desribe 'him' but is "a highly sophisticated physicists' theory".

Whatever does this mean?

IMHO a "grand fundamental intelligence" is some form of 'spirit' or 'being' that 'thinks'.

"Highly sophisticated physicists' theories" don't 'think' as I would understand them.

Maybe William will get to the bottom of this next Sunday?

Regards,
Michael


  • 7.
  • At 11:56 AM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Billy wrote:

Christianity belives that "INFINITE and ETERNAL" God who pre-existed time, created from nothing as opposed to Darwinian belief that chance created everthing out of the organic broth mud ball from nothing, from what was this soup created and how did it boil to explode.Meaning that Christianty teaches creation as opposed to Darwinian teaching of chance.Within the Darwinian time scale of history this chance happening of evolution is so unimaginable, it is a mathematical impossiblity, in the Darwinian mind set, the earth is not old enough (8 billion years growing older) for this chance happening of evolution to evolve out of nothing, which brings us back to "YOUNG EARTH"

  • 8.
  • At 01:31 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • PB wrote:

Alan

Very interesting comments in post 2 perhaps more thoughtfully rounded off by JW in post 5.

Alan, I am surprised that you have so often defended evolution as absolute fact and yet here you are acknowledging there is no exact answer as to where life actually came from.

I couldnt begin to argue creationism as fact but you appear to be facing two directions at the same time here.

sincreley
PB

  • 9.
  • At 01:52 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Well William

Could you offer a similar entry for a creationists talk sometime? just in the interests of balance.

PB

  • 10.
  • At 01:54 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


also Alan

You poured such scorn on Christianity all through Creationism 101 so I answered you in post 115 there, which reflected on the credibility of your humanism and your website.

But there is no response from you, will you take the challenge?

PB

Richard Dawkins's Q & A session is pretty comprehensive in refuting all of the religious arguments raised in these threads. I presume the creationists and other evolution sceptics have watched and listened to it?
Perhaps I have - carelessly - spoke of origins and evolution in the same terms but scientists ARE gradually developing theories of origins and there is no reason to think they will be any less comprehensive and compelling than evolution theory.
Time yet again is the crucial factor.

  • 12.
  • At 02:26 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Billy wrote:

Good to see the God haters and their Pope getting a bashing from 'A.N.Wilson' in Saturdays Daily Mail 2/12/06

I would doubt if many here would have a hard copy of that. Prob a lot of big words and much too intelluctual! If you want us to read it you'll have to be a bit more specific - perhaps a link?

  • 14.
  • At 07:42 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Chaps,

Dawkins actually says in the Q&A that science will never disprove the existence of a god.

I'm surprised noone else has trotted it out.

Of course what he means is exactly the sort of thing that caused me to get ratty with PB and Billy. Creationists and those opposed have a different take on proof.

  • 15.
  • At 10:20 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


I stand to be corrected GW

But I thought the reason you got ratty with me is because I kept poking holes in evolution and you couldnt block them up again.

;-)
PB

  • 16.
  • At 10:42 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Alan

I would say that displays quite an presupposition in your "scientific" beliefs.

So you have decided evolution is an absolute fact, you keep saying, although you have admitted the theory has not yet been proven.
How un/biased would that make you? Surely it would be more rational viewpoint to take a less certain position in the meantime. But of course your religious convictions depend on your scientific convictions; if you discovered evidence for creationism you would be obliged to dismiss it because you are a convinced atheist. I dont need creationism to believe in God though.

I had a look through your website on humanism and exposed a fair bit of it as rubbish on creation 101, post 115, but you are doing a good job of trying to ignore this.

I dont presume anyone will ever be able to "prove" creationism to a sceptic nor vice versa for evolution.

But as you have repeatedly poured scorn on Christianity I just want to make the point that we hear of many people all the time who have been saved from terminal illness, alcholoism, drug addicition and paramilitarism through faith; I have never once heard of atheism inspiring or empowering anyone for the better in their lives.

If you compare the societies based on Christian foundations in Europe or North American with any number of societies that have pledged their loyality to athieism, which appears more credible and which would you prefer to live in?

I would just like to add that I respect you, your views and your right to hold and express them.

PB

  • 17.
  • At 12:55 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Alan Watson wrote in Post 11:

"Richard Dawkins's Q & A session is pretty comprehensive in refuting all of the religious arguments raised in these threads.'

This is from memory so someone needs to check me on this, but I recall Dawkins saying that on a scale of 1-7 (one being most likely) he would place the possibility for the existence of "God" at a 6.

As I pointed out in Post 1 (btw I'm still awaiting a response to further that of Alan's in Post 2) Dawson said in a March 16, 2003 interview on Sunday Sequence discussing the book “A Devil’s Chaplain" Dawkins said the following: “There are possible good reasons for believing in some sort of grand supernatural intelligence..... there are modern physicists who believe that the universe, if you actually look at the laws of the universe, they are to some physicists too good to be true. And this suggests a very interesting case for a possible very very deep reason why we might believe in some sort of grand fundamental intelligence underlying the universe ..... what I am talking about which is a highly sophisticated physicists' theory.”

If we were talking about biological theories in Dawkins own field rather than in the field of theology and he believed there was an approximately 15% chance that one particularly theory could be correct, would he spend as much ink, travel, TV and radio airtime trying to debunk it?

I'm sure his answer would be: "Of course not but God is not a scientific theory!"

Regards,
Michael

  • 18.
  • At 04:36 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB,

No, I got ratty with you because of your squirmy debating style, and I got ratty with Billy because he dressed up an insult as a Psalms quote and because he is shockingly absoloute.

I think Dawkins says God will never be disproving because the whole omnipotence thing is a ready made explanation of anything (I think this is referred to as God of the Gaps). And I can see what he means.

I am sure Liberty's students are all bright people - but do we not agree that their take on subjects like Dawkins' is fairly dictated by their faith?

I went to a church school in NI (if you can believe AW permitted it!!!) and a great many kids from atheist families and from other faiths/denominations joined me because of the standard of education.
What I'd like to know how many non-christians attend Liberty because of the quality of the teaching?

I loved Charlie Brooker in the Guardian on Monday - linking creationists with psychics is very appropo

https://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1963333,00.html

When I quote something I try to give a link or quote verbatim!

Gee - MCB was never a 'church' school?
I'm a failed parent!! - but then again as quoted earlier perhaps an overload of supernaturalism in the early years is the best deterrent to irrationality in later life - evolution rules! - OK!

  • 21.
  • At 07:49 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Methodist College Belfast.

The clue is in the name...

It is a pretty secular outfit really - but my point was about Liberty's Academic merits?

Assuming we have all watched Dwakins' Q&A - which of the Liberty lights roasted richard in our opinion?

Errr, not sure there was one was there?

  • 22.
  • At 08:11 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB

the type of evidence you would like to see for any non-creationist theory is exactly the type of evidence you cannot produce for your theories.

The default position for you is to take recourse to the supernatural. Whereas those of us who are more pragmatic accept we don't understand everything today, but that we will understand more as time goes on.

Interestingly - we also understand more than when the bible was written (when was that again??) - is it unreasonable to suggest an account of those events might read differently today? No it is not unreasonable.

No - in their view there has not been any advance in human knowledge since whenever - 4004 bce? - of course they would bend their disbelief if they had a seroius illness and neeeded the help of modern science - and as I have constantly repeated - it is the same science that consistently day by day is reinforcing evolution theory - and debate is useless - facts can not be debated !

  • 24.
  • At 12:10 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 06:44 PM on 04 Dec 2006, Gee Dubyah wrote in the Creationism 101 blog:

"I have trouble with the Bible on authenticity grounds"

Gee: I'm curious about your definition of 'authenticity'.

Would you define it please? I'm not trying to lay a trap for you but are you referring to the bible's 'truth' or its 'authorship'?

I might like to pick up with you on these points. For example, if you answer 'truth' then perhaps you would elaborate on your definition of 'truth' and if on 'authorship' ....etc.

I'm sure you have the thrust of my question.

Scan my comments in the two Creation blogs and you will see where I am coming from with this question.

Thanks,
Michael

  • 25.
  • At 06:40 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Michael,

I mean both I think.

I don't accept that the Bible is what it's said to be.

I think there is a lack of clarity about who wrote what, when, and why.

I have trouble with the events it describes - with the caveat I added in post 22.

I think that the manuscripts included were arbtirarily (some say) selected by the Early Roman church many years after events in the NT and that many similar manuscripts were left out - what were the selection criteria one wonders.

What are your thoughts?

etc

  • 26.
  • At 09:44 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

CLARIFICATION RE POST 25

a couple of hours have passed and you boys have let "I mean both I THINK" to go uncommented on.

PB - is it your day off?!!! ;)

On re-reading this it sounds like I'm unsure - I didnt intend that - it was meant as a conversational type sentence. Opportunity for low hanging fruit closed - sorry boys...

Your servant

G W

  • 27.
  • At 11:44 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


GW

genuinely nice that you missed me :-)

real life with its ebbs and flows, you understand.


I dont think we have anything more contructive to debate really.

I was quite happy where we both got to the point that there was not enough scientific evidence to prove either position to the other,(my personal position) though I am sure creation scientists may disagree with me there.

And getting back to the point about Dawkings, isnt it a bit self congratulatory for William to slap him on the back based on a one sided account of a talk from Dawkins' own diary???

I know nothing about Liberty University but my instinct would be that if it classes itself as fundamentalist then its scholarship may not be top class. Too much incestous thinking can pervade such atmospheres, I think.

I wonder how Dawkins might have fared against some of these chaps though;-

https://www.answersingenesis.org/devotions/devotions.asp

rhetorical question I suppose.

PB


  • 28.
  • At 11:47 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

William

I hope this is not too personal, but I am quite confused as to why you are persistantly fascinated with Christianity, yet I understand you are not a member of a church...?

PB

  • 29.
  • At 01:18 AM on 07 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 24 I asked:

“Gee: I'm curious about your definition of 'authenticity'. Would you define it please? I'm not trying to lay a trap for you but are you referring to the bible's 'truth' or its 'authorship'?”

In post 25 At 06:40 PM on 06 Dec 2006, Gee Dubyah wrote:

“I don't accept that the Bible is what it's said to be.”

Gee: I can’t comment on this without understanding ‘what it’s said to be’.

You wrote: “I think there is a lack of clarity about who wrote what, when, and why.”

Gee: I would agree that the authorship of most of the bible is ‘anonymous’. The four canonical gospels were written anonymously and ascribed to the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Of the 13 Pauline epistles, 7 are accepted as having been written by Paul, 3 are disputed, and the other 3 are believed not to be his writings.

I would disagree that there is a lack of clarity about why they were written. The bible is Man's attempt to search for and explain 'God' and his search for the meaning and purpose of life.

Looking at the NT for example, the author of the Gospel of Matthew was fitting the story of Jesus to a Jewish audience while the author of the Gospel of Luke was writing to a gentile audience. Paul was trying to sort out problems in the church so his reasons are clear.

You wrote: “I think that the manuscripts included were arbtirarily (some say) selected by the Early Roman church many years after events in the NT and that many similar manuscripts were left out - what were the selection criteria one wonders.”

Gee: Up until the 4th Century there were many ‘Christianities’, Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics, etc. The form that eventually became ‘orthodox’ was the form at the heart of the Roman Empire and so that ‘Christianity’ eventually chose from the various literatures extant at the time what would be considered ‘orthodox’ and of course the rest was considered ‘heretical’, though a better term would be ‘heterodox’. Many of the manuscripts left out were known from the historians of the time who wrote critiques of why they were ‘heretical’ and many were discovered at Nag Hammadi in the 1940s. They have been the subject of a lot of intensive research which has now been published.

You wrote: “I have trouble with the events it describes - with the caveat I added in post 22.”

Gee: If you look back at my earlier posts I said that everything about which humans think intellectually they do with the use of ‘models’ in their ‘outer reality’ and with the use of ‘myths’ in their ‘inner’ reality. These are the only two ways we, as symbol making animals, can depict our concepts and share them with each other.

Outer reality is ‘objective and scientific’ while Inner reality is ‘subjective and spiritual’.

Outer reality seeks ‘factual’ truths while Inner reality seeks ‘intrinsic’ truths.

Examples of Outer reality are physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, pain, reason, linear time, gravity, history etc.

Examples of Inner reality are suffering, intuition, eternal time, love, art, poetry, bible, music.

Thus if you try to analyze a myth using the tools of science or try to analyze a model using the tools of myth you will get nowhere. We can write an equation for ‘gravity’ or draw space-time models to depict it, but we can not write an equation for ‘love’. Instead we mythologize it and discuss Keats, or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or maybe we listen to Chopin.

So I think you are correct to ‘have trouble with the events it describes’ if you believe those events to be ‘models’ of a factual reality. But you need not have trouble with the events if you believe them to be ‘myths’ of a spiritual reality in the same way as you need not have trouble with any of the ‘events’ in Shakespeare’s plays.

The problem we have today with the bible is that Roman Christianity historicized its mythologies and therein lies the reason why the debate on creationism will continue ad nauseum.

Those of us who have dehistoricized these mythologies will see the inner reality truth of the bible while those who continue to live with the historicized myths will feel perhaps that we are no longer 'Christian'.

Any thoughts?

Ps. Please excuse the American spelling.

Pps: Just to avoid any argument over terms if others join this particular discussion, here are the definitions that I am using in the post above. I believe we must agree on what we mean when we use these terms or we will debate past one another.

Regards,
Michael

Heresy - Literally ‘choice’. A heretic is one who chooses not to accept that which is considered to be ‘orthodox’.

Heterodox - An opinion or doctrine at variance with an official or orthodox position. As an adjective, heterodox is used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards" e.g. the status quo. (In the inner reality the term ‘heresy’ is generally favored).

Model – The use of symbols or imagery in the outer world to understand physical phenomenon such as the nature of gravity or the nature of evolution. (Use of the word ‘model’ by scientists does not imply that the concept is either true or false.)

Myth – The use of symbols or imagery in the inner world to understand metaphysical phenomenon such as the nature of love or the joy of laughter. (‘Myth’ in the common vernacular is unfortunately wrongly understood as something that ‘can’t happen’ or isn’t ‘true’ in contrast to the word ‘ model’ which in the common vernacular is often understood as something that ‘can happen’ or is ‘true’. ‘Myth’ does not imply that a story is either objectively false or true, it rather refers to a spiritual, psychological or symbolical notion of truth unrelated to materialist or objectivist notions.

Orthodox – Literally ‘right belief’. From the Greek ortho ('right', 'correct') and doxa ('thought', 'teaching'). That skin cancer is caused by sunlight is an orthodox model while models for a bacterial cause of skin cancer are considered heterodox. In the outer reality models considered ‘orthodox’ can be subjected to tests of proof. In the inner reality myths can not be subjected to such tests yet beliefs are always held to be orthodox by ‘the believers’ and those who hold other beliefs are considered ‘heretical’ by them.

Truth – Something that is the same for everyone, everywhere, and for eternity. That water can exist in three forms, solid, liquid and gaseous is an outer truth. That misleading others will cause them to mistrust you is an inner truth.


  • 30.
  • At 10:39 AM on 07 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Michael,

OK i see where you are coming from.

For me the Bible is set of myths used to describe/represent a set of spiritual beliefs. A set of spiritual beliefs I cannot subscribe to.

In addition I question why it was written as I feel there where so many internecine disputes over "orthodoxy" - that the surviving manuscripts must represent the bias of the victors in church power struggles.

This second point is academic to me given I dont accept that the Bible is literal, or that it describes a spiritual truth.

  • 31.
  • At 12:58 AM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. wrote:

At 10:39 AM on 07 Dec 2006, Gee Dubyah wrote:

"I don't accept that the Bible is literal, or that it describes a spiritual truth."

Gee: You would seem to be completely in the Dawkins mold with respect to the bible. I have three questions for you.

1) In post 29 I posited that models and myths are the only two ways we, as symbol making animals, can depict our concepts and share them with each other. Could you share with me one myth in which you believe there exists a 'spiritual truth'? Is there something from Shakespeare, or Keats, or Bertrand Russell? (Note: I am defining 'spiritual' in its broadest sense i.e. matters associated with the inner person, e.g. love, happiness, suffering etc. I am not using the common vernacular definition of 'spiritual' meaning ‘religious’)

2) What would your answer be to the question I posed in post 6 to be asked of Dawkins which is ...

What was he talking about when he said (and I quote) that if there is some sort of "grand fundamental intelligence underlying the universe" it is not "God" as Christianity would desribe 'him' but is "a highly sophisticated physicists' theory". Whatever does this mean?

3) My next question concerns Dawkins' admission that on a scale of 1-7 (with 1 being 'certain') he would place the existence of God at 6. As I calculate it each point on his seven point scale is worth just under 15%. In your view should Dawkins oppose anything that has a 15% probability of being correct? Would you and if so why? Or to pose the question another way, if I offered you a one in seven free choice of choosing a box which might contain a fortune in cash would you rail against everyone who decided to take the offer?

Thanks,
Michael

If there are still any local viewers of this topic
Richard Dawkins seems to be on an Ireland tour this weekend - as well as Sunday Sequence on Radio Ulster he will also be in the Late Late this evening on RTE1

  • 33.
  • At 12:15 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Michael,

It seems to me you and I think in completely different ways.

1.
It would never occur to me to describe spiritual truths such as love/happiness in terms of a literary representation. They are states of being - a setting in the machine if you like - like setting your 'fridge to defrost for example. Much more complex admittedly, but ultimately physical/chemical/biological phenomenon. Not that I dont enjoy romance!! :)

2.
I have no idea what dawkins means either - I'd like to hear more from him on this. It may be he means an "overarching theory of everything" often talked about by Physicists. I don't know.

3.
We'd have to ask a Chrsitian adherent what their take was on someone buying a "celestial lottery ticket".
On the surface of it - it would be sensible to "go along with it as a form of insurance". However I imagine "going along" with Christianity requires belief, and without that you are stuck, not a Christian, and just some kind of carpetbagger.
I suspect Dawkins 6 out of 7 comment was an uncharacteristically careless metaphor - again we'd have to ask him about that. I agree he wouldnt be so opposed to something non-religious that was 15% possible.

  • 34.
  • At 05:21 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Stephen G wrote:

Dawkins comments are quite typical: incredibly self-congratulatory, arrogant, patronising, disrespectful, spiteful, and an exercise in intellectual masturbation. The man's intolerable. His job should be to educate - not humiliate.

SG

  • 35.
  • At 07:40 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Do you think the Liberty students sounded like they were prepared to learn anything from dawklins stephen?

  • 36.
  • At 07:47 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 12:15 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Gee Dubyah wrote:

"Michael, It seems to me you and I think in completely different ways. It would never occur to me to describe spiritual truths such as love/happiness in terms of a literary representation. They are states of being - a setting in the machine if you like - like setting your 'fridge to defrost for example. Much more complex admittedly, but ultimately physical/chemical/biological phenomenon. Not that I don't enjoy romance!! :)

Gee:

If one can't describe love/happiness in terms of a literary representation, then what is one's conclusion about all of the poetry, literature, art, and music that attempt to portray love/happiness through the means of such myths and metaphors?

Somehow if I took a young lady out on a date in my misspent youth in Belfast and she compared romance to the defrosting of a fridge I would get slightly more concerned than maybe even Dawkins would in a similar situation had a young lady on a date with him compared romance to her relationship with Jesus.

I get the impression you are a well educated and highly intelligent person. So let me ask the following. In a discussion of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" would you not go beyond the frostless refrigerator statement in a critical analysis of the play?

You wrote "I suspect Dawkins 6 out of 7 comment was an uncharacteristically careless metaphor"

Ah, yes! You may be right and that is where Dawkins will take refuge if pressed on this issue. Will he now say that he was speaking 'metaphorically' and he would place the existence of God not at 6 out of 7 but as infinitesimally small'. (William: Please ask him on my behalf).

How could I trust him as a scientist if he throws out statements about probabilities that he then slides away from? If Dawkins wishes to use metaphorical statements why would he deny that similar privilege to the writers of the bible?

Awaiting further thoughts.
Michael

G D - I would bet the're all of to a proper College!

SG - kettle and black spring to mind!

  • 38.
  • At 08:23 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Stephen G wrote:

Gee: Then why speak to them at all? And, wouldn't it still have been better to educate than humiliate, if only for the benefit of others watching.

Alan: What's your point? Do you have one? Are you trying to say that my analysis of Dawkins applies also to me? Just how?

SG

I thought Richard was very measured in his answers to questions that, from students of any decent educational establishment, would be laughed out of court.
But in the face of science it's inevitable that purveyors of myth and superstition will appear to be humilated because they have no evidence to back up their faith - 'belief without proof' - I did look up my dictionary!
BTW - does anyone have a reference for 'existance of god - 6/7'?

Dunno know who many of you saw the show this evening ( RTE Late Late )but what a measured response to some quite aggressive questions from the audience. Of course some people think that disagreeing with their views means intolerance. That is the attitude of those who have had their way for much too long. Check out - https://www.the-brights.net/ -

  • 41.
  • At 12:56 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Alan

I saw Dawkins on RTE.

Okay so we have yet another atheist doing a tour to promote his new book (yawn)...

I thought the funniest bit of the programme was, after having repeatedly protested that there was no evidence for God, Dawkins nearly fell off his chair when someone read out a quote from his book about his belief in aliens.

The person reading out the quote was a reformed athiest and a guest on the show, by the way.

Dawkins nearly choked, but he couldnt deny that he had said he believed in alien civilisations on other worlds.

The audience had twigged on immediately regarding his double standards; repeated protests that there was no evidence for God, yet here he was spouting on about aliens existing.

In his defence he then said aliens "probably" existed but when pressed conceeded it was "speculation".

Why would a reputable scientist deny the existence of God but champion the existence of aliens? Alan? anyone?

So William, I remind you of my mirth in your rehashing Dawkins' own report of his "victory" against the fundamentalists; I wonder were there any other X-Files moments from that ocasion that he neglected to mention in his hilarious diary.


Is this really the Goliath you guys have been spouting on about for weeks?
I will put my money on David anytime.

Another flash in the pan, though admittedly he will be much richer by the time he has finished this tour. I wonder if all those humanists buying his books are really happy to be funding a religious system which promotes a non-evidential faith in aliens.

Alan?

PB

  • 42.
  • At 12:58 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 09:25 PM on 08 Dec 2006, alan watson wrote:

"In the face of science it's inevitable that purveyors of myth and superstition will appear to be humilated because they have no evidence to back up their faith -'belief without proof' - I did look up my dictionary!"

Alan: Here is a myth .....

A boy was asked to guard sheep against the wolves and to call ‘wolf’ to the villagers if the sheep were threatened. As a joke on the villagers he called ‘wolf’, they came and found no wolf, same thing the second time. The third time the wolf actually came and the boy cried ‘wolf’ but the villagers didn’t come. Why? They no longer had ‘trust’ in what he said.

We don’t know the historical ‘truth’ of this story i.e. did it physically happen at some place and at some time? But the myth contains an intrinsic truth in how ‘trust’ can be lost by 'acting dishonestly'.

I have 'faith' that what this myth tells me is something I can act upon with confidence.

Should I take if from your comment that if one tells this story to a rational person to explain the concept of trust and honest behavior one becomes then a "purveyor of superstition who will be humilated" because there is no evidence to back up one's faith in this metaphor?

You might say that science could 'prove' that dishonest behavior leads to a lack of trust. What model do you propose to test this since science does not deal with metaphor and myth? (I have discussed this in detail in earlier postings in this and the two creation blogs.)

In science one needs to find only one instance which is false and by definition the proposition has been disproved. I would bet that in the inner or spiritual reality that I have talked about before, one will be able to come up with dozens of examples where someone has acted dishonestly and still been trusted. Does that make the intrinsic truth of metaphor 'untrue'?

I have 'faith' in the metaphor of the boy, the sheep and the wolf and so I 'believe' that if I act dishonestly people will distrust me.

One needs to look in the dictionary for the complete meaning of our language - that is why I constantly define how I am using certain words - it is not to show how 'smart' I am but rather to help people to understand my ideas and then reason rationally about them with me.

So let's take the word 'faith' a little further and add the following from which I quote:

"Although faith has generated many roots in religion, it is not necessarily a religious word and is not exercised solely in God and god alone, but can apply to any situation where judgments are made irrespective of evidence.

Faith in something means 'to have experience with that something' and then, due to this experience, judging and concluding so that you can predict an action of this something in a positive way. For example a sister may leave the house for university, she returns in three years time to find her sister has not opened her diary which she explicitly asked her not too, even though her sister had every opportunity to open it without her knowledge or consent. The older sister would now have faith in the younger sister, judging by that experience she concludes that she can predict that anything else she trusts with her sister is safe."

This is faith.

You also wrote: "BTW - does anyone have a reference for 'existence of God - 6/7'?"

Read my previous posts in this and the two creation blogs that preceded it - you will find it there.

Regards,
Michael

  • 43.
  • At 01:13 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Billy wrote:

As I listened to the deluded Richard Dawkins on the Late Late Show(RTE), I was amazed that this man, a man without a mission, who being inconsistent in his thought when put on the spot started his semantical jig maybe he descended from the fairies, which looks like the case, he was moving the semantical goal posts to falsify his arguments, is this man really a Professor at Oxford, Dr. Doolittle maybe the Nutty professor, surely he must have some more substantive argument to back up his delusion other than semantical dancing, he didn’t produce any shred of evidence whatsoever to support his cause, if he was in a court of law the judge would have thrown him out and charged him with contempt of court, no case to answer, were was his scientific evidence, he has more searching to do to fill the big black holes in his thought process, which leaves a lot to be desired, pie in the sky.

Mr Dawkins “ALMAH” means VIRGIN Isa 7:14 it is not a misprint, don’t play the pseudo Hebrew academic it is not your field stick to Zoology, you are no more than a atheistic speculator, a chancer in Ulster terms, faith will always outweigh semantical speculation.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they (YOU) are without excuse:
Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

The Universe has a pre-existent beginning in the order of the Holy Trinity, it was already there before the creation of the world, and Personal God existed prior to creation, Gen 1:26 And God said, let us, make man in our image, all things were made by God and the Word of God is our witness, Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
God willed and it was, He brought forth creation the external world, man’s existence out of nothing “EX NIHLO” no matter, no energy, or organic broth, He spoke and it was, the salvation of man is meaningless without a personal creation, I am afraid that you have eaten the forbidden fruit and poison of Satan you have become as God you know better, Gen 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

I just hope William does a better interview than Pat Kenny and keeps the pressure on rather than moving the questions when Dawkins was under rational pressure to make sense of his argument, he became irrational.

B.C.

“POST TENEBRAS LUX”

  • 44.
  • At 01:31 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 12:56 AM on 09 Dec 2006, pb wrote:

"I saw Dawkins on RTE. Someone read out a quote from his book about his belief in aliens. Dawkins couldn't deny that he had said he believed in alien civilisations on other worlds ..... there was no evidence for God, yet here he was spouting on about aliens existing .... he then said aliens "probably" existed but when pressed conceeded it was 'speculation'. Why would a reputable scientist deny the existence of God but champion the existence of aliens? Alan? anyone?"

PB: Maybe for Dawkins scientific proof to him is, like beauty to me, 'in the eye of the beholder'?

Regards,
Michael

  • 45.
  • At 02:23 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Well Alan

Have you any comment on the high priest of the church of ET?

I would like to point out that although I am ridiculing his faith in aliens, my serious point is that he is obviously using one high standard of evidence when he wants to disprove God and then throwing it away when he wants to believe in aliens.

So how can anyone take his integrity and objectivity seriously?

well Alan? hello...Alan???...helllooooo? anybody there????....

PB

  • 46.
  • At 02:31 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Now continuing with Dawkins' 'belief' in 'aliens' as discussed in posts 41 and 44 let me quote what he said on another RTE program - "The God Delusion: David Quinn debates Richard Dawkins." The Ryan Tubridy Show (October 9, 2006).

Dawkins: Well the word delusion means a falsehood which is widely believed, and I think that is true of religion. It is remarkably widely believed, it’s as though almost all of the population or a substantial proportion of the population believed that they had been abducted by aliens in flying saucers. You’d call that a delusion. I think God is a similar delusion."

Now why if Dawkins 'believes' that 'aliens' probably exist does he declare it to be 'delusion' if some people say they have been abducted by these same aliens in flying saucers?

Maybe Dawkins should reread "Through the Looking Glass". On the subject of 'aliens' he sounds a lot like the Queen to me ......

`I can't believe THAT!' said Alice.

`Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. `Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said: `one CAN'T believe impossible things.'

`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast ....

I'm off to bed now but I promise all of you that before I have breakfast in the morning I will draw a long breath, shut my eyes and try to 'believe' in Dawkins' aliens.

Regards,
Michael

  • 47.
  • At 10:30 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • jill wrote:

Belief in aliens is hardly unscientific - if, by aliens, all you mean is the existence of non-human beings with intelligence somewhere else in the vast universe. It's hardly a silly proposition ... it's no sillier than the proposition that any intelligent life forms exist in the universe. What makes people think that human beings are the only beings to exist in the universe.

It's a silly mistake to conclude from any speculation about other intelligent beings that God exists. If other beings exist, says Dawkins, we would be able eventually to discover them. They would be PHYSICAL beings.

Not so for belief in God. You can never locate God through scientific research.

  • 48.
  • At 11:28 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Jill

I cant see any logic in what you are saying.

The debate here is whether or not there is scientific evidence to prove God exists; you have not shown any evidence to suggest why it is more scientific to believe in aliens than God I'm afraid.

PB

PS I wonder will we ever hear from Alan again in this section... it might be hard to stomach that your scientist hero is a staunch believer in ET.

  • 49.
  • At 12:34 PM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. wrote:

At 10:30 AM on 09 Dec 2006, jill wrote:

"It's a silly mistake to conclude from any speculation about other intelligent beings that God exists. If other beings exist, says Dawkins, we would be able eventually to discover them. They would be PHYSICAL beings."

Jill: As a ‘Scientist’ I could set up the following biological model that might lead one to conceptualize there could be a “grand supernatural intelligence” (to use Dawkin’ s terminology) as follows:

Human beings are entities with about 20 - 80 thousands genes (don’t argue the exact number I could be wrong on the exact figure). This number of genes gives humans a certain intellectual capacity, understanding, and control over their environment.

Humans are both spiritual and material, i.e. they can think intelligently and they have a physical body.

Bacteria have fewer genes than humans, viruses even less, and prions (which cause mad cow disease) have even less if any. As we approach zero for the number of genes that an entity possesses one approaches the idea of ‘non’ life. For example, is a virus ‘living’ , is it ‘ spiritual’ or is it simply a material ‘ thing’?

When there are zero genes one might argue that one has entered the non-spiritual, completely material world and one can postulate from this particular model that such a world does indeed exist.

Thus as a scientist I can say that I have an ‘agnostic belief’ from this model in the existence of a material world. I am agnostic because I am open to my model later being proved ‘false’. (Remember scientists can never prove anything to be true, but if they find one instance that it is false, then it can never be true).

Now if we conceptualize going to the other end of the gene spectrum I remain an agnostic scientist as to whether there exists an entity with 8 million genes (an ‘alien’ with more intelligence than humans which is certainly capable of visiting this planet), or 8 billion genes or, to take the concept to its extreme, an entity with an infinite number of genes (what must mean by the use of the word ‘infinite’ that it is the supreme intelligent being).

If there is such a ‘being’ then ‘ it’ may be completely spiritual and non material for all that I know and it may have a greater intellectual capacity, understanding, and control over my environment than I have – in other words it is Dawkins’ ‘ Grand Supernatural Intelligence’.

All of this I have argued from my science background, and not my philosophical, religious beliefs. Something that has 1000 times fewer genes than humans (a bacterium) can not even envisage that ‘I’ exist. Now go the other way what can we envisage about something that has 1000 times more genes than humans? Can we envisage that ‘It’ exists?

Thus as an agnostic Christian (for which a definition I am comfortable with can be found on wikipedia.org) and as an agnostic scientist I can say that I have an agnostic belief in the existence of Grand Supernatural Intelligence, GSI, as described by Dawkins but I see no reason, like Dawkins, to separate this GSI from the One which humans have wrestled to understand in their mythical and metaphorical writings that we call religious canon.

What say you?
Silly me?
Michael

Because life, including intelligent versions, have evolved here on a pretty nondescript planet going around an average star in an average galaxy in a universe whose size is beyond human comprehension, there are good reasons to suspect that 'life' has also evolved on some other planets. ie 'aliens' probably are out there. The chances are that some of these lifeforms are more advanced than us and a few may even have made contact with each other.
We have evidence for life but absolutely none for gods! I don't see any contradiction on this for Dawkins - or me!

Michael - so you are an agnostic Christian?
I presume then you are 'atheistic' in terms of Islam, Hinduism etc etc?
Take that one logical step further and reject them all - until there's some evidence - is there any GOOD reason why gods seem to make it so very hard to believe in them - I (and you )know my reason - give me yours!
And BTW an agnostic scientist is a meaningless term.

  • 52.
  • At 08:52 PM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Alan

ref little green men.

I have to say you have made my day :-)

I am not so sure that earth is such an average planet in an average galaxy.

Have you any idea how many other planets we know of -anywhere- that could support the life that exists on this planet? I have never heard of one, though amittedly it is not my field.

And you say that you "suspect" there is life on other planets...?

I can see the logic in your argument, but I once again see Dawkins' double standards of evidence.

Absolute evidence is require before the existence of God can be accepted.
But all the evidence required to believe in aliens is a couple of episodes of X-files (which I think was an excellent show by the way).

Alan, I have to say I find your absolute certainty about the non-existence of God wholly uncredible stacked up against your belief in aliens. sorry.

You appear to be setting specific parameters in order to reject what you have decided in advance you do not want to believe and then relaxing them again when you fancy a close encounter.

PB

  • 53.
  • At 09:14 PM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Alan

I think the best reason to believe in God is our existence.

Dawkins struggled with this one on RTE too. Where does life really come from?

You also struggled with this before. Can you explain in layman's terms how life formed itself out of mud?

Or in fact where matter and the universe came from? The bible says that men are without excuse regarding the existence of God because of the reflection of his glory in creation all around.

I'll never convince you, nor will anyone else because you do not appear to have an open mind. I understand that many people (not saying you) can have very logical emotional reasons for this, very often because people taking the name Christian have seriously hurt them before. Or sometimes it is pure pride.

But why are you here? There are really only two choices, I think. God created us and we are here to learn to love him and honour him to spend eternity with him as friends.

Or, you are here by chance, your existence is a total fluke.
Nobody sees any of your most private pain or emotions, nor cares about them with unconditional love.
You are totally alone in the universe and when you die you think your personality ceases to exist.
You have no meaning and apart from your immediate circle of family and friends, when viewed from a distance, you dont matter a jot in the grand scheme of things.

Or, God made you unique, loves you unconditionally and sacrificed his son to make you a permenant member of his family. And he has a unique purpose for your thread individually in the tapestry of life.

I believe God is real for you but that a life without God would be ultimately witout any real meaning.

I dont expect you to give me a serious hearing on this and I have no right to it. And I fully respect your fight to shoot me down in flames.

PB

  • 54.
  • At 02:39 AM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 07:24 PM on 09 Dec 2006, alan watson wrote:

“Michael - so you are an agnostic Christian? I presume then you are 'atheistic' in terms of Islam, Hinduism etc etc? Take that one logical step further and reject them all - until there's some evidence - is there any GOOD reason why gods seem to make it so very hard to believe in them - I (and you)know my reason - give me yours!”

Alan: we need to correct some erroneous suppositions and your logical next steps. How in the name of whatever did you make the leap from agnostic christianity to atheistic hinduism?

As an Agnostic Christian I hold the following positions:

1) A focus on Jesus’ humanity coupled with a desire to reconnect with Jesus’ known teachings about compassion and love.

2) A belief that the Christian tradition has value and benefit, but that a critical look at, and understanding of, the history of Christianity is needed to move Christianity forward. (The business of the model versus the metaphor/myth that I have discussed before.)

3) A reaction against claims by religious fundamentalists regarding knowledge of a final ‘Truth’.

4) A respect for, and tolerance of, a variety of faith traditions and philosophical positions (which should take care of your erroneous supposition about my ‘atheistic’ positions).

5) A respect for the power of doubt and its proper place in one’s personal faith journey.

Alan: You also wrote:

“And BTW an agnostic scientist is a meaningless term.”

Alan: Why throw out terms such as "meaningless" and then just leave them hanging without giving a reason for your belief. It's like Jill's use of the word 'silly'.

Writing comments that way is both 'meaningless' and 'silly' :-)

Let me define my terms as I am using them. You don't have to agree with my definitions but you should use them to read what I write and then you will be able to correctly interpret into your own vocabulary what ideas I am trying to posit for discussion:

Agnosticism – This applies to all things on which Man has not yet been able to run a final experiment to prove or disprove for eternity.

Thus I am agnostic about the existence of God and I am agnostic about the theory of evolution.

Belief – Something about which one is agnostic. For example, I believe that God exists. I also, which may surprise you, believe that ‘Aliens’ exist. Dawkins accepts the latter but not the former. I have argued many of these points earlier. I also believe that the theory of evolution will eventually be found 'true'.

I believe that my son has gone out to see a play tonight but he may have changed his mind and gone to a movie instead. I don't have faith that he is at the play but I can act on my belief by telling his girlfriend who has just called that she should be able to meet him there when it is over. She now shares my belief where he is, it is a very strong belief admittedly, but I can not at this moment refer to this belief as a 'faith'.

Doubt – Challenging some notion of reality in effect, and maybe hesitating to take a relevant action due to a concern that one might be mistaken or at fault. Dawkins apparently has no doubt about his beliefs concerning God.

Faith – A belief about which one claims not to be agnostic and that one ‘knows’ is ‘true’. For example, in the discipline of mathematics I have faith that 2+2 equals 4 i.e. one claims to ‘know’ that this is ‘true’. Many people have faith that God exists or alternatively God does not exist i.e. they claim to ‘know’ that their belief is ‘true’.

As a ‘Christian’ I have faith in Jesus as stated above but am agnostic about all of my beliefs concerning the existence and the actions of God, or what Dawkins calls the Grand Supernatural Intelligence, or what the Hindus call the One Supreme Cosmic Spirit.

(Now there's an interesting leap - might Dawkins be a closet Hindu?)

Knowledge – What exists when the phrase ‘I know’ is consistent with what is ‘true’.

Truth – Something that is the same for everyone, everywhere, and for eternity.

Please, Alan, no more discussion on these points except in how they pertain to the matter at hand – Dawkins and his Faith that:

God does not exist but Aliens do and people are Delusional if they think that God exists and that Aliens can come to earth in Flying Saucers and capture them.

This is all from his interviews – Dawkins is the topic of this discusssion – Not me.

Back to the matter at hand!

Regards,
Michael

  • 55.
  • At 03:02 AM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Jill and Alan:

To restate the 'matter at hand':

Why in your view is Dawkins (and also your stated) 'belief' in the possible existence of 'aliens' not 'delusional' (his word) yet if some people say they were abducted by these same 'aliens' they are clearly 'delusional'?

Then in part 2 of your reply take that "one logical step further" (your words, Alan from post 51) and explain the logic behind the statement that people who 'believe' in God suffer from a 'similar delusion' (Dawkins words!).

Cordially,
Michael

  • 56.
  • At 05:37 PM on 28 Dec 2006,
  • John wrote:

Just a comment on Dawkin's admitted belief in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. I don't see a double-standard at all. Dawkin's is a firm proponent of natural selection, a mechanism which might readily tend to introduce the elements of life into all sorts of places. The biology of our own planet continues to teach us that life can take hold in amazing places - from undersea volcanic vents, to polar ice and even deep underground within solid rock. It may turn out (as Dawkins himself has observed) that the trigger for life to begin evolving in a given environment is a rare occurrence. No matter. Our scientific studies of the universe have revealed that it is so vast and so full of stars and potential planetary systems that we can safely posit the idea that there will be a large number of other environments that might be capable of supporting life. The more powerful our telescopes become, the more we see this is so. More and more extra-solar planets are being found all around us. When we talk about alien life possibly existing, we are using established science to make a prediction. This is a core tenet of the scientific method.

Flipping back to ideas of alien abduction, the idea that it's victims are probably delusional is not rooted in the improbability of the existence of such aliens - it is rooted in the complete lack of physical evidence for the events. Over and over investigators of self-described "abductees" have looked for any sort of physical evidence to support the event. Victims display no disturbed tissue, no surgical scars..indeed no marks of any kind. The abduction phenomenon more closely resembles a "sleep paralysis" episode than a real event - at least at this point. In years past the phenomena were labeled "night terrors". It is known that some people are more susceptible than others to having nightmares and/or frightening episodes of sleep paralysis. At any rate, I am not an expert in psychology or sleep disorders, but I have read quite a lot written by those who are. Here again, the entire point I am trying to make, is that opining that an alien abductee is delusional (due to complete lack of evidence) casts no aspersions on a belief in a scientifically predicted probability that life has evolved in locations elsewhere in the cosmos.

  • 57.
  • At 06:19 PM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Karl Priest wrote:


31 December 2006

AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. RICHARD DAWKINS

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

After viewing your Q/A at https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2006/12/dawkins_in_lynchburg.html I have to announce to the world that you have unwittingly proven me correct.*

Your only hope of successfully evangelizing for your fervent faith is to have a venue of gullible kids looking for an excuse to indulge themselves. Most (if not all) of your audience of admirers are products of American government schools and have difficulty distinguishing between facts and fairy tales. The kids who applauded your Sorcerer's Show would be stumped if they had to distinguish between Kipling's "Just so Stories" and Lewis' logic of Christianity.

You should have been ethical and told the kids, "I implore you to join me in rejecting God because I want to make my own rules, not because I have an intelligent argument." I would respect you had you done that.

But, you do not deserve respect because you unashamedly took advantage of the opportunity to spew your spiel without interruption and then mock the questioners who had no way to rebut your silly answers.

The video is a prime example of why you have proven, beyond all doubt, that I was correct.* In 2002 on behalf of a scientist, Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo, I issued a challenge for you to defend Darwinism in a venue where you had to stand on science alone. You dodged the debate challenge and became #14 on the list of hallucinators at https://www.lifescienceprize.org/ .

Despite your article in (Un)Free Inquiry ("Why I Won't Debate Creationists", vol. 23, no.1 Winter 2002/2003: p. 12-14) everyone, except credulous college students, know that you are only a quack story teller who has not published scientific research in over 25 years (if ever). Anyone in touch with reality also knows what a coward is. Which brings us to why you have proven me correct.* Dr. Mastropaolo, and I, slapped you with an intellectual glove in 2002. Turning your other cheek is obviously not due to your belief in the teachings of Jesus. So, with this open letter, we hereby slap you across the other cheek.

You have the time, you have the money, BUT you do not have the intellectual guts because you know a fair debate would expose your bubble gum gun. That would be a real problem when you are facing a man with the equivalent of a scientific bazooka. Devolution, not evolution is the weapon that destroys Darwinism and Dawkinism.

So, Dr. Dawkins I conclude where I began. You have proven me correct.*

Happy New Year.

Yours truly,

Karl Priest

*9-5-02 "You, Dr. Dawkins are an intellectual coward. You are scared to defend your faith in evolutionism on a level playing field."

  • 58.
  • At 09:59 PM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Gelman H wrote:

OPEN LETTER TO KARL PRIEST

Um ... Karl? Dawkins just debated a creationist on live radio. Sunday Sequence. It's what everyone's still arguing about on Will's blog! The creationist was Professor Andy McIntosh. Dawkins wiped the floor with him.


Confused Evolutionist

  • 59.
  • At 07:02 AM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Pastafarian #5 wrote:

Would have been interesting watching the creationists trying to use pre-Darwin science against what science has unearthed since then.
hahaha

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