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View Full Version : Richard Dawkins on Compass Sundays 20th and 27th 9:30pm



Kevin Bonham
19-05-2007, 12:42 PM
As Dawkins is sometimes discussed here (especially since the return of Jono to active posting) I thought I would draw people's attention to this:

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200705/programs/RN0611H021D20052007T213000.htm

Tomorrow and next Sunday 9:30 pm. If I remember, I intend to watch and post some comments. Although I am notionally on the same side of the fence as Dawkins I have not always found him the most effective advocate so I will be interested to see whether he lands solid hits in this presentation or whether it is tryhard stuff.

Week two should be fun for all the family:


In part two, The Virus Of Faith on Sunday, May 27th at 9.30pm Professor Dawkins takes strong exception to what he calls "religious brainwashing of children". He expresses his deep concern about faith attacking the young and infecting generation after generation.

"Faith acts like a virus that strikes the young, and the good book that people follow for moral instruction actually reveals a god that is the most vindictive character in all fiction," he says.

Rincewind
20-05-2007, 07:07 PM
Ttt

Axiom
20-05-2007, 07:55 PM
I will definately be watching .
My interest is , religion as the original mass brainwashing device.

The title reminds me of my quote of some years ago, "Religion is the crucible of evil"

I agree with KB, that Dawkins doesnt quite nail his position.

Rincewind
20-05-2007, 08:10 PM
My interest is , religion as the original mass brainwashing device.

According to Neitzsche: one of the two great European narcotics. ;)

Axiom
20-05-2007, 09:51 PM
According to Neitzsche: one of the two great European narcotics. ;)
yes rw ,Nietzsche was indeed a very wise man

Axiom
20-05-2007, 10:27 PM
[20-05-2007 09:47 PM] Axiom: "The root of all evil"
[20-05-2007 09:47 PM] Axiom: or as i once said "the crucible of evil"
[20-05-2007 09:48 PM] Axiom: where's jono!
[20-05-2007 09:49 PM] Axiom: "who made the designer" lol
[20-05-2007 09:55 PM] Axiom: "nuremburg-rock concert" lol
[20-05-2007 09:59 PM] Axiom: this doco looking like a grand psy op
[20-05-2007 10:02 PM] Axiom: ..damn fundies
[20-05-2007 10:02 PM] Axiom: dare i say "god damn fundies" ?
[20-05-2007 10:04 PM] Axiom: "war between 2 evils" !!!
[20-05-2007 10:08 PM] Axiom: passion of reason
[20-05-2007 10:09 PM] Axiom: ..mind controlled automatons....
[20-05-2007 10:18 PM] Axiom: "going one god further" ! lol
[20-05-2007 10:21 PM] Axiom: life on mars......indeed.

Kevin Bonham
20-05-2007, 10:50 PM
Very patchy. Not all that impressed on the whole.

I thought he did a nice job of socking it to the Catholics over their miracle healing quackery, but was short on evidence in trying to extend the same to other faiths (Catholicism is in my view an especially easy target in this regard.)

The fundie preacher he confronted was a pretty silly individual (especially his clearly arrogant denunciation of so-called arrogance) but I don't think Dawkins did himself any favours with a completely unnecessary reductio ad Hitlerum concerning the Nuremberg rallies.

I also think that the point that the eye did not develop by "accident" according to evolution is a critical one that deserved explanation in detail to show exactly why the preacher was clueless on the subject. After all evolution is the result of a series of tiny "accidents", but many opponents fail to grasp that because some kinds of "accident" outcomes are more likely to persist than others, over time the cumulative result of these "accidents" can roughly resemble the likely outcome of a deliberative process as opposed to the likely outcome of a single "accident". Dawkins is quite strong on this in his books so I was surprised he did not press it harder in a few quick sentences.

Generally I didn't think Dawkins was all that effective in making his case that moderate religion fosters extreme religion - he just didn't provide a lot of evidence. Also he talked about how most people realise there are not sharp blacks and whites, life is complex (etc) while at the same time pushing a simplistic assessment of religion. That's not to say that the case that religion is utterly useless can't be made - just that by not even addressing the arguments that might be made in favour of religion, Dawkins failed to make that case. I also didn't think he supported the claim that fundies are an American Taliban very well (which was surprising, as it shouldn't be hard!)

The Jew-turned-Muslim guy at the end was pretty full-on and was an effective example of how the kind of (non-)thinking that motivated S11 etc operates. The teapot bit was good too.

Maybe I'm a bit harsh on him because he was trying to cover a lot of ground in not much time; but perhaps that was exactly where his problem lay.

Five and a half out of ten.

Aaron Guthrie
20-05-2007, 10:56 PM
I thought an answer to the guy at the end claiming that atheism implies lack of any morality would have been good.

Basil
20-05-2007, 11:02 PM
reductio ad Hitlerum
30 HCDs

Axiom
20-05-2007, 11:03 PM
Very patchy. Not all that impressed on the whole.

I thought he did a nice job of socking it to the Catholics over their miracle healing quackery, but was short on evidence in trying to extend the same to other faiths (Catholicism is in my view an especially easy target in this regard.)

The fundie preacher he confronted was a pretty silly individual (especially his clearly arrogant denunciation of so-called arrogance) but I don't think Dawkins did himself any favours with a completely unnecessary reductio ad Hitlerum concerning the Nuremberg rallies.

I also think that the point that the eye did not develop by "accident" according to evolution is a critical one that deserved explanation in detail to show exactly why the preacher was clueless on the subject. After all evolution is the result of a series of tiny "accidents", but many opponents fail to grasp that because some kinds of "accident" outcomes are more likely to persist than others, over time the cumulative result of these "accidents" can roughly resemble the likely outcome of a deliberative process as opposed to the likely outcome of a single "accident". Dawkins is quite strong on this in his books so I was surprised he did not press it harder in a few quick sentences.

Generally I didn't think Dawkins was all that effective in making his case that moderate religion fosters extreme religion - he just didn't provide a lot of evidence. Also he talked about how most people realise there are not sharp blacks and whites, life is complex (etc) while at the same time pushing a simplistic assessment of religion. That's not to say that the case that religion is utterly useless can't be made - just that by not even addressing the arguments that might be made in favour of religion, Dawkins failed to make that case. I also didn't think he supported the claim that fundies are an American Taliban very well (which was surprising, as it shouldn't be hard!)

The Jew-turned-Muslim guy at the end was pretty full-on and was an effective example of how the kind of (non-)thinking that motivated S11 etc operates. The teapot bit was good too.

Maybe I'm a bit harsh on him because he was trying to cover a lot of ground in not much time; but perhaps that was exactly where his problem lay.

Five and a half out of ten.KB - perhaps dawkins not sufficiently making his case , was the very reason the program was aired ! (see my 9:59 comment alluding to this)........perhaps just another gloss over ,to make us think, the whole issue is still 'open to question'!

Aaron Guthrie
20-05-2007, 11:05 PM
KB - perhaps dawkins not sufficiently making his case , was the very reason the program was aired ! (see my 9:59 comment alluding to this)........perhaps just another gloss over ,to make us think, the whole issue is still 'open to question'!I offer you some tea.

Axiom
20-05-2007, 11:06 PM
I offer you some tea.
as long as it is heated by the sun's rays! :)

Axiom
20-05-2007, 11:20 PM
To all atheists out there, i ask you to consider this:-

Does not the mass following of religion by humans alert you to the predisposition or condition of humans to be mass brainwashed?

This phenomenon may well apply to other areas in which humans attempt to discern reality(especially that which is derived from information!)

Kevin Bonham
21-05-2007, 01:35 AM
This phenomenon may well apply to other areas in which humans attempt to discern reality(especially that which is derived from information!)

I can guess what you're getting at (and that it's off topic!) but if what Dawkins will argue next week is correct, then the major agent of "brainwashing" is childhood indoctrination. I'm unsure if what you have in mind functions the same way - indeed, how do you brainwash an adult who doesn't want to be brainwashed?

Axiom
21-05-2007, 01:42 AM
I can guess what you're getting at (and that it's off topic!) but if what Dawkins will argue next week is correct, then the major agent of "brainwashing" is childhood indoctrination. I'm unsure if what you have in mind functions the same way - indeed, how do you brainwash an adult who doesn't want to be brainwashed?
indeed ,what im alluding to,has its roots deep in childhood indoctrination also.
adult brainwashing is normally an extension to that which occurs in childhood.
the real question is, how can we de-program the brainwashed?

to not want to be brainwashed implies knowing whats coming ,or knowing ,that is the process at work.

Aaron Guthrie
21-05-2007, 02:29 AM
"brainwashed" is a very strong term. Presumably if Dawkins is presenting a show that is trying to present rational arguments against religious belief, then this is how he is trying to counter the "brainwashing."

Axiom
21-05-2007, 04:04 AM
"brainwashed" is a very strong term. Presumably if Dawkins is presenting a show that is trying to present rational arguments against religious belief, then this is how he is trying to counter the "brainwashing."
unfortunately manga it appears that more than rational arguments are required.

pax
21-05-2007, 07:44 AM
He's married to Romana, so he's got something going for him ;)

Rincewind
25-05-2007, 07:45 PM
Part two of this is airing this weekend...


In the second episode Professor Dawkins argues that religion can lead to a warped and inflexible morality, and the indoctrination of children. How is it, he asks, that despite science having exposed old religious myths, militant faith is back on the march? Dawkins believes that imposing religion on children who are too inexperienced to judge it for themselves is a mechanism for perpetuating beliefs that lead to murderous intolerance.

Spiny Norman
26-05-2007, 10:22 AM
For those who find Dawkins' pomposity and shallow philosophical ramblings mildly amusing, have a listen to this for a good chuckle:

DOES DAWKINS EXIST?

www.youtube.com/?v=QERyh9YYEis

Capablanca-Fan
26-05-2007, 12:08 PM
Very patchy. Not all that impressed on the whole.

Not a bad commentary on your part.


I thought he did a nice job of socking it to the Catholics over their miracle healing quackery, but was short on evidence in trying to extend the same to other faiths (Catholicism is in my view an especially easy target in this regard.)

I reject a lot of the current miracle claims of most televangelists as well.


The fundie preacher he confronted was a pretty silly individual (especially his clearly arrogant denunciation of so-called arrogance)

Haggard (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4753/)you mean? I wonder if Dawko had an idea about him before it became public.


I also think that the point that the eye did not develop by "accident" according to evolution is a critical one that deserved explanation in detail to show exactly why the preacher was clueless on the subject. After all evolution is the result of a series of tiny "accidents", but many opponents fail to grasp that because some kinds of "accident" outcomes are more likely to persist than others, over time the cumulative result of these "accidents" can roughly resemble the likely outcome of a deliberative process as opposed to the likely outcome of a single "accident". Dawkins is quite strong on this in his books so I was surprised he did not press it harder in a few quick sentences.

Indeed, he even undermined his usual case of cumulative selection (with which informed creationists are perfectly well aware (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1615)) by simply contradicting that it was accidental.

I wouldn't have minded if Dawko had led with his chin with the "backwardly wired retina is lousy design" canard because it's so easy to demolish.


Generally I didn't think Dawkins was all that effective in making his case that moderate religion fosters extreme religion - he just didn't provide a lot of evidence.

Nor did he address the fact that officially atheistic regimes have not exactly been heaven on earth.


I also didn't think he supported the claim that fundies are an American Taliban very well (which was surprising, as it shouldn't be hard!)

I must have missed them flying planes into towers, blowing up buses with Israeli schoolkids, stoning rape victims or mutilating girls' genitals.

Capablanca-Fan
26-05-2007, 12:12 PM
I can guess what you're getting at (and that it's off topic!) but if what Dawkins will argue next week is correct, then the major agent of "brainwashing" is childhood indoctrination.

Dawkins probably will argue that, but it's nonsense. There are plenty of adult conversions (both ways). It's also something of a genetic fallacy. He also doesn't seem to mind that the atheistic indoctrination of kids in Communist lands didn't produce a paradise.

Kevin Bonham
26-05-2007, 01:50 PM
Dawkins probably will argue that, but it's nonsense. There are plenty of adult conversions (both ways).

I'd be interested to see some stats on this. I suspect that within mainstream Christianity, belief most often starts in early childhood, but that for both atheism and radical Christianity there is more of a mix of "always believed this" and adult conversion types.


It's also something of a genetic fallacy. He also doesn't seem to mind that the atheistic indoctrination of kids in Communist lands didn't produce a paradise.

I think Dawkins left himself wide open on this point actually. It is a predictable and common rebuff that is easily disposed of simply by pointing out that the reason that indoctrination in Communist lands did not produce anything resembling paradise is that that indoctrination was communist rather than that it was atheist.


Indeed, he even undermined his usual case of cumulative selection (with which informed creationists are perfectly well aware) by simply contradicting that it was accidental.

I don't think he undermined it as such, rather that he simply didn't explain himself very well.


I must have missed them flying planes into towers, blowing up buses with Israeli schoolkids, stoning rape victims or mutilating girls' genitals.

Some of these comparisons (the first at least) confuse the Taliban with "al-Qaeda". They may be allied but in terms of what they have actually done they are not the same.

Capablanca-Fan
26-05-2007, 02:12 PM
I'd be interested to see some stats on this. I suspect that within mainstream Christianity, belief most often starts in early childhood, but that for both atheism and radical Christianity there is more of a mix of "always believed this" and adult conversion types.

I am an adult convert, FWIW.


I think Dawkins left himself wide open on this point actually. It is a predictable and common rebuff that is easily disposed of simply by pointing out that the reason that indoctrination in Communist lands did not produce anything resembling paradise is that that indoctrination was communist rather than that it was atheist.

Communism is necessarily atheistic, but not vice versa, so you have a point. All the same, Dawkins can't point to a society where atheistic indoctrination of kids has produced a paradise. Rodney Stark has argued that the prosperity due to capitalism stems from Christian teachings ojn the value of reason (http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1809).

But if you allow that argument re atheistic indoctrination, then the same should be allowed for all his examples of supposed Christian atrocities. E.g. the IRA was far more modelled on secular Marxism than Catholicism (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20460114-601,00.html).

Kevin Bonham
26-05-2007, 02:41 PM
I am an adult convert, FWIW.

An early adult convert according to your bio. What were you before that and how much exposure to Christian teachings did you have in early life? Did any life events contribute to your conversion? (Please feel free not to answer - I'm just curious about what makes people change, especially since I've seen a few do it, but never felt the slightest temptation in that direction myself.)


Communism is necessarily atheistic, but not vice versa, so you have a point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_communism#Christian_communists :lol:

(I know you love the Wikipedia deeply, but I suspect that in this case it is correct. There is no reason Christians cannot be communist.)


All the same, Dawkins can't point to a society where atheistic indoctrination of kids has produced a paradise.

Indeed he can't, because all societies that have indoctrinated children in atheism have also indoctrinated them in defective illiberal political philosophies such as authoritarian pseudo-communism.

An obvious reason for this is that a hypothetical atheist-leaning society not coupled to an illiberal political philosophy would have no need to indoctrinate children in anything. Perhaps some Western European nations may be heading in that direction, albeit slowly.

And finally, human societies are not meant to be paradises anyway. Some are better and some are worse than others, and that is all.


Rodney Stark has argued that the prosperity due to capitalism stems from Christian teachings (http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1809).

It's hardly a new argument; much the same was Weber's thesis about the influence of specifically Calvinist teachings on the rise of capitalism in the West. However, such arguments applied to Christianity as a whole do not explain why the acceleration of prosperity took over 1000 years of the religion to occur. If Weber is correct, some strands of Christianity foster wealth creation while many others do not.

Capablanca-Fan
26-05-2007, 02:55 PM
An early adult convert according to your bio.

Already at Uni.


What were you before that and how much exposure to Christian teachings did you have in early life? Did any life events contribute to your conversion? (Please feel free not to answer - I'm just curious about what makes people change, especially since I've seen a few do it, but never felt the slightest temptation in that direction myself.)

I refuse requests to give my testimony even at churches, since what matters is whether Christianity is true, not my own life. It wouldn't be dramatic or interesting anyway. Personal testimonies are absent in apostolic preaching too; they also concentrated on reasons for their faith.


(I know you love the Wikipedia deeply, but I suspect that in this case it is correct. There is no reason Christians cannot be communist.)

They might be socialist (although I think they are contrary to Scripture), but not really communist, since Marxism and all Communist regimes have been atheistic.


It's hardly a new argument; much the same was Weber's thesis about the influence of specifically Calvinist teachings on the rise of capitalism in the West. However, such arguments applied to Christianity as a whole do not explain why the acceleration of prosperity took over 1000 years of the religion to occur. If Weber is correct, some strands of Christianity foster wealth creation while many others do not.

The article I linked to (http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1809) directly addresses Weber's thesis, showing that all the elements of capitalism predate the Reformation:


According to the immensely influential St. Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), the just price is simply what “goods are worth according to the estimate of the market at the time of sale.” That is, a just price is not a function of the amount of profit, but is whatever uncoerced buyers are willing to pay. Adam Smith would have agreed—St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) did.

And the capitalist principles in turn came from the application of reason:


All of this stemmed from the fact that from earliest days, the major theologians taught that faith in reason was intrinsic to faith in God. As Quintus Tertullian instructed in the second century, “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” Consequently it was assumed that reason held the key to progress in understanding scripture, and that knowledge of God and the secrets of his creation would increase over time.

Aaron Guthrie
26-05-2007, 05:39 PM
They might be socialist (although I think they are contrary to Scripture), but not really communist, since Marxism and all Communist regimes have been atheistic.Religious freedom is mentioned in the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Kevin Bonham
26-05-2007, 06:32 PM
Already at Uni.

That's not so unusual; many people go direct from high school to uni in early adulthood. One bio suggests you were 19-20.


I refuse requests to give my testimony even at churches, since what matters is whether Christianity is true, not my own life. It wouldn't be dramatic or interesting anyway. Personal testimonies are absent in apostolic preaching too; they also concentrated on reasons for their faith.

That's fair enough (and in a way commendable since many "how I found/lost God" stories are incredibly phony and tedious), but personal testimonies have nothing to do with my view of whether Christianity is true either.


They might be socialist (although I think they are contrary to Scripture), but not really communist, since Marxism and all Communist regimes have been atheistic.

This doesn't follow in the slightest. Just because all governments promoting philosophy X have pushed religious belief Y doesn't mean all supporters of philosophy X must hold religious belief Y. Both socialism and communism are movements in political economy, the main difference (if it is a difference in kind but not degree) being that socialism seeks to control private wealth while communism seeks to abolish it. Either of these are compatible with "Christianity" considered very broadly, and both could be considered incompatible with it by advocates defining it narrowly from their interpretation of scripture.


The article I linked to (http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1809) directly addresses Weber's thesis, showing that all the elements of capitalism predate the Reformation:

Showing that they predate it intellectually doesn't explain why it took so long to happen.


And the capitalist principles in turn came from the application of reason:

Ayn Rand (an atheist) would agree with that totally!

Capablanca-Fan
27-05-2007, 03:47 AM
Religious freedom is mentioned in the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
As if that means anything. How many "Democratic Republics" are really communist despotisms?

Capablanca-Fan
27-05-2007, 03:56 AM
This doesn't follow in the slightest. Just because all governments promoting philosophy X have pushed religious belief Y doesn't mean all supporters of philosophy X must hold religious belief Y.

OK, the founders of Communism were materialists, all Communist governments were atheistic.


Both socialism and communism are movements in political economy,

I was using Communism in a common meaning of the entire political and philosophical system. President Reagan, while a staunch capitalist, also resented the Evil Empire most for its restrictions on Christian freedom.


the main difference (if it is a difference in kind but not degree) being that socialism seeks to control private wealth while communism seeks to abolish it.

That's a helpful distinction.


Either of these are compatible with "Christianity" considered very broadly, and both could be considered incompatible with it by advocates defining it narrowly from their interpretation of scripture.

I doubt it. The Bible clearly affirms the right to private property, and doesn't provide a role for the government in regulating voluntary economic exchanges.


Showing that they predate it intellectually doesn't explain why it took so long to happen.

Stark attempts to explain this: there need to be rulers that respect freedom and personal property, and he attributes such laws to Christian principles. He is not a Christian himself AFAIK.


Ayn Rand (an atheist) would agree with that totally!

I know. On another blog, I have a fairly friendly interaction with someone I correctly picked as a Randian. I agree with him on the virtues of capitalism, but disagree on atheism (obviously) and the virtue of selfishness.

Aaron Guthrie
27-05-2007, 04:06 AM
Note, this is an edit. I originally confused myself a bit so now I am redoing the post in a simpler way.


As if that means anything. How many "Democratic Republics" are really communist despotisms?Its just a fact I thought interesting. That it is mentioned at all I think is interesting, regardless of the motivation or genuine nature of the mention. Maybe I should have mentioned that when I posted it, on re-looking at it it does look like I am trying to counter you.
I am not sure what you are talking about by brining in the name of (a different) country.

Kevin Bonham
27-05-2007, 12:35 PM
I was using Communism in a common meaning of the entire political and philosophical system. President Reagan, while a staunch capitalist, also resented the Evil Empire most for its restrictions on Christian freedom.

I think of that political side of the system you refer to as being "authoritarian communism". Not all individual communists are authoritarian, but it's very unlikely that a regime can be communist without seeking to crush all possible sources of dissent - simply because communism is such an unnatural economic arrangement and people will typically seek to compete, trade and own property unless you stop them by force.


I doubt it. The Bible clearly affirms the right to private property, and doesn't provide a role for the government in regulating voluntary economic exchanges.

This is not incompatible with what I said. A person doesn't need to follow the Bible in every aspect to be meaningfully classifiable as "Christian" in a broader sense ... although more devout/literal "Christians" will frequently claim the non-literalists are not true Christians.

Capablanca-Fan
27-05-2007, 02:46 PM
I think of that political side of the system you refer to as being "authoritarian communism". Not all individual communists are authoritarian,

How do they hope to achieve communism for their society without being authoritarian, for the reason you state below.


but it's very unlikely that a regime can be communist without seeking to crush all possible sources of dissent - simply because communism is such an unnatural economic arrangement and people will typically seek to compete, trade and own property unless you stop them by force.

It's thus no accident that economically free countries are often the most politically free ones.


This is not incompatible with what I said. A person doesn't need to follow the Bible in every aspect to be meaningfully classifiable as "Christian" in a broader sense ... although more devout/literal "Christians" will frequently claim the non-literalists are not true Christians.

I won't go that far, but will claim that they are inconsistent with the teachings of Christ, who explicitly affirmed private property.

Kevin Bonham
27-05-2007, 03:05 PM
How do they hope to achieve communism for their society without being authoritarian, for the reason you state below.

You and I know the answer to that is that they are silly impractical dreamers and they have no hope to acheive it. They don't. :D


It's thus no accident that economically free countries are often the most politically free ones.

Developments in SE Asia over the last 15 years or so have cast a fair amount of doubt on how strong that nexus is. It is looking like, in some cultures, private wealth and authoritarianism can co-exist to a fair degree. What is clear is that a very repressive country (one which seeks to regulate just about everything) will never be a rich one.

Kevin Bonham
27-05-2007, 11:05 PM
I thought this episode was much stronger in places, but also went off a bit into sillyland towards the end.

Most of the interviews picked on easy targets. The rabbi was reasonable up to a point (I would have liked to see what he said after being told the 6000 years stuff was just nonsense) but the Christian teacher, the friend of Paul Hill and the hellhouse guy were all idiots. However the very weak arguments put forward by the Christian teacher themselves supported Dawkins' case strongly - why should a man who essentially thinks that people should obey God primarily out of fear and against their natural instincts be teaching anybody - hopefully even religious people would agree that if religious education leads to people with such poor motivations in charge of schools (and there are bound to be plenty of them out there) then there is a need for some serious quality control.

The denunciation of Old Testament morality was powerfully expressed and presented and hard-hitting, to the point that even the kind of Hitler comparison that I normally strongly object to came across as a pretty fair call. It also covered the most obvious objection (when it went into the NT), which is something Dawkins has not consistently done in this series. I would be interested to see any apologist attempt at a reply to Dawkins' line of attack both on the OT morality and on Paul's "sadomasochistic" (just plain masochistic if you ask me) interpretation of the meaning of Jesus' death.

Once again a number of attacks were not nailed down at all, which is disappointing, eg inconsistency in the Bible was mentioned but no examples at all were given. Similarly no evidence was given that science disproves the Bible story, although this was stated.

The stuff on the mechanism by which religion "infects" children was good but I would have liked more detail on why some people "shake off" the infection, but others do not. After all, many of us are told all kinds of nonsense by our parents, and are likely to believe it on the basis of authority at the time, but can reassess it as adults and discard it if it is no longer credible. Why do some discard religion while others do not? I think the answer is more a social thing than an immune-system type analogy (ie the circles people move in, and not the mental equipment they acquire, plays a big part in whether they "recover" from indoctrination or not). He also did not explain the serious medical problem of adult infection!

The point about it needing religion for "good" people to do "evil" things was also strongly expressed but I don't find it convincing for one moment. Perhaps because I've come across too many marxists and green activists who have much the same inclination - well-meaning but stupid and too moral to care how much harm they cause to those who don't agree with them. Perhaps Dawkins is himself too leftist to be aware of this.

To a degree Dawkins did well with explaining how moralistic tendencies can exist without religion (and how religion far from furthering them often retards progress that ends up being taken for granted). However his view did end up being just a tad naive and fluffy - for instance he didn't counter the obvious point that if this is the only life we have, why worry about all this moral programming when it gets in the way of something we decide we *want* to do? Perhaps his answer would be that we just won't want to go against that programming, but the reality is that to some degree many of us will, and evolution leads to a more complex pattern of actions that are self-interested, altruistic, both, and neither than Dawkins was willing to admit.

I also thought the line about being fortunate to be here compared to all the possible human beings that could have been was a risky one, as it could have been picked up by anti-abortionists and/or advocates of runaway population growth to argue their excuses for cases and I really don't think either of those mobs should be given the slightest foot in the door. Furthermore, his sense-of-wonder argument presented things as an either-or decision (either derive inspiration from this world or the next) whereas a compatablist would claim to derive wonder from both (and as much wonder as the atheist scientist from this life) - perhaps he should have stuck to demonstrating that sufficient wonder can be found in atheism without needing to make simplistic attacks on the "wonder" claimed by other doctrines. He also should have said that whether or not a belief is true is far more important than what you get out of it inspirationally.

Overall I think there were enough points not nailed down in both episodes that three episodes rather than two would have covered his material better. I did think that the core parts of tonight's program powerfully imparted a message that needs to be heard (that on a moralistic level literalist Christianity is simply too ridiculous and twisted for words) so my score for tonight's episode is 7/10.

Capablanca-Fan
29-05-2007, 11:27 AM
You and I know the answer to that is that they are silly impractical dreamers and they have no hope to acheive it. They don't. :D

Heh :) It's notable that a number of leading leftists in Australia admire the Venezuelan communist leader Hugo Chavez, despite his recent takeover of a TV station that didn't toe his party line (http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/chavez_gives_his_leftist_heroes_here_more_inspirat ion/).


Developments in SE Asia over the last 15 years or so have cast a fair amount of doubt on how strong that nexus is. It is looking like, in some cultures, private wealth and authoritarianism can co-exist to a fair degree.

Good point. Singapore is quite authoritarian politically, but is prosperous economically.


What is clear is that a very repressive country (one which seeks to regulate just about everything) will never be a rich one.

True.