Showing posts with label Dawkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dawkins. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Saving Atheists from the New Atheism
Why are the New Atheists such jerks? Case in point: Richard Dawkins’ continuing pursuit of Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas 14-year-old humiliated in school after authorities mistook his homemade clock for a bomb.
Jeff Sparrow
The new atheists are jerks because being a jerk sells better than rational argument. P.Z. Meyers had a good science blog that was lost in blog space until he started bashing Creationism and atheist women.  At that point views and ad revenues went up to the point that he left science blogging entirely to create "Freethought Blogs" which was anything but free thinking space.  Not that bashing Creationism and Ken Ham is a bad idea, but being a jerk about it accomplishes nothing except creating an us vs them religious point of view that should be anathema to atheism, or at least humanism which should be the basis for atheism.  

As most here know J'Carlin under various usernames on beliefnet© was a host of the Atheism Debate board and moderator of several Science and Religion boards including "Origins of Life" the forum for discussions of Creationism.  Origins was my first experience having to deal with belief based thinking directly.  It was with great dismay that I found that the culture of belief based thinking and misogyny had permeated Western culture to the extent that even atheists were falling into the cultural miasma.  One would have hoped for better thinking from the freethinkers.

There always was a rift in the atheist community between the Skeptics (note Cap) and the atheists.  But the New Atheists created a new rift between dogmatic atheists (There is no God. Period.) and more flexible atheists who could discuss God beliefs without rancor although the satire was frequently confused with rancor by the believers.  An amusing example of the rift can be found in the following 200+ post thread.  I have quoted my OP as a hook.

I did indeed READ Dawkins' trashy tract

in its entirety ...teilhard

I too have read Dawkins’ trashy tract.  Although not yet in its entirety.  It is sitting beside the loo where I can try to get through the last few pages while I am in an appropriate place not to notice the stink.    

Dawkins makes the same mistake of all fundies in seeing the world in black and white.  He for instance insists that indoctrinating children in anything that he doesn’t believe in is child abuse.  He has a whole chapter (9) in which he suggests that some of the worst cases of abuse, the lead one dating from 1858 stand for all indoctrination of children in religious doctrine.  Dawkins seems to believe that indoctrinating children in the beliefs of the child’s parents, and the society in which hesh will live is somehow abuse if they are not beliefs that Dawkins shares.    

I think Dawkins like PZ Meyers has completely discredited a lot of valuable evolutionary education material with their virulent anti-God tracts.  I greatly enjoyed and used Dawkins early books, particularly the Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable to help people understand how evolution “gets there” although of course there is no there there for evolution.  I can no longer do so, since Dawkins with his self-immolation as fundie has been thoroughly discredited as a reasonable scientist.  

(12.26.15)Until very recently there were no atheists. Or at least those who lived through admitting it. Deists, those "Endowed by their Creator." and those who "believed" in a personal God which may or may not have had any resemblance to any existing supreme being including the freemasons' one. An out atheist is probably a later development than an out homosexual. If you liked having friends and associates in fraternal organizations you went along with the rituals whatever they might have been.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Group Selectionism

To many if not most biologists, the selfish gene approach is the best idea anyone ever came up with for explaining altruism in the animal kingdom. The only significant rival explanation, group selectionism, is extremely controversial by comparison. The issue is not yet settled.  Faust

For biologists the gene is the only hammer they have to bang on things with.  Dawkins was a biologist who established his credibility by showing how a gene for distinguishing brighter from darker areas in the environment as an example could have survival value and drive the evolution of complex visual structures collectively known as eyes. He was necessarily working on individual members of the phyla he was studying.  As it became necessary to study more complex traits like altruism the gene hammer became the wrong tool and group selection became an alternative for social animals which are a relatively recent evolutionary development.  I suspect the two theories are not rivals, but are different tools for investigating different evolutionary structures.

The meme theory, still in its scientific infancy (it's developer isn't even dead yet) may well be the tool needed for studying group selection, as social animals must have a non-genetic behavioral modification adaptation for survival as a group.  Group selection works in relatively few generations which make biologists very uncomfortable.  Predatory pack wolves evolved extremely quickly into a larger social structure of follower wolves and eventually dogs (and a smaller individual social organization coyotes etc.) with essentially no genetic adaptation.  Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can crossbreed with viable offspring, although the strong social differences make crossbreeding unlikely in normal environmental conditions.

The God meme has been extremely powerful in group selection at least for predatory human groups.  While it may not prove the existence of God as a real thing, it certainly proves the existence of the collective consciousness of the idea of God.  Whether there is a significant difference is not really a scientific question.  

Whether the God meme can survive above the tribal social level is an open question that is evolving even as we speak, but that is a different topic entirely.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is Religion Useful?


I find fundamentalism to be a victimless crime as long as it stays in the community of fundamentalists.  I am not convinced that bringing a child up to fit into herm community is child abuse if the community is large enough to provide for the needs of all in the community.  In the well connected cosmopolitan society in which they are embedded I suspect that they are non-competitive, but that is their problem not the larger society.  Political proselytizing can and should be discouraged politically, but most societies are able to do so long term.  

Other than political activity I have no issues at all with believers in some supernatural focus for their lives.  It provides a prepackaged social and ethical structure that can be at the very least comforting and satisfying, and relieves them from the difficult activity of making sense of being alive and having to die.  If the great mother Goddess or the misanthropic God takes care of all the spiritual needs one can devote ones attention to the social and material needs of living with greater focus.  

I find deconversion activity is useful for the community, but I suspect that SBNR is the reasonable expectation rather than atheism. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Atheists for Jesus

Atheists for Jesus

Of course Jesus was a theist, but that is the least interesting thing about him. He was a theist because, in his time, everybody was. Atheism was not an option, even for so radical a thinker as Jesus. What was interesting and remarkable about Jesus was not the obvious fact that he believed in the God of his Jewish religion, but that he rebelled against many aspects of Yahweh's vengeful nastiness. At least in the teachings that are attributed to him, he publicly advocated niceness and was one of the first to do so.
Richard Dawkins

He also rebelled against the Priestly tradition of God and gave God directly to the individual. "Love the Lord thy God..." Paul soon fixed that and gave God back to the church leaders, mainly himself, and Christianity was formed using Jesus as the intermediary between "thy" and God.

I can get along fine with "Progressive Christians" who have returned to the Gospels and the humanistic message of Jesus, leaving the hate filled Lord Jesus Christ of Paul to the dust of Abrahamic myth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Christian's Problem

Richard Dawkins Thread v2.0 - Beliefnet:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. --Edmund Burke

As long as people apologize for the Pope, and moderate Christians apologize for Paul, simply because God appointed them, Dawkins has a valid point that moderates enable fanaticism. If when the average citizen hears 'Christian' the first thing that pops into mind is Fred Phelps, or people protesting mosques, Christians have a problem.

If on a religious site a statement of the form 'Christians are assholes of a particular kind' is censored, because only some Christians are assholes of that kind. Christians have a problem: Christians need to deal with assholes of that kind. Judging people by the labels they accept, is a natural and necessary evolutionary adaptation of humans. Labels cause wars. It is best that the label one accepts is kept clean."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dawkins - Literary prize winner or bigot or both.

Dawkins' Trashy Tract - Beliefnet
You've done a mostly decent job of trashing the man's book, but what of the author, himself?

J'C: "I have 5 books by Dr. Dawkins on my shelf which I think are excellent interpretations of evolutionary science for the reader of average or higher intelligence. I bought The God Delusion without reading reviews based on the rest of his books. As an evolutionary scientist and popularizer of his field I think he is exemplary. As an atheist I think he is a bigot. As a responsible person I feel a necessity to combat bigotry from whatever corner it comes from. As a responsible atheist I resent the fact that his bigotry is giving ordinarily responsible theists a hobby horse to ride roughshod over atheism and atheists.

Just as I hold responsible Christians accountable for speaking out against the bigotry of the Pat Robertsons and Fred Phelps of the Christian world. I think that responsible atheists are on the front line for combating atheist fundamentalism and bigotry. We are a small and politically marginal minority, and have to work intelligently under the radar to achieve the changes that are necessary. Strident hate, bigotry, and mindless fundamentalism does great damage to the cause of rationality and humanistic values in todays polarized world. Someone must pay attention."

As I noted on the eSKEPTIC blog promoting Dawkins for the Noble Prize
Polemics are not literature. If Dawkins could somehow get the brain fart of “The God Delusion” out of his bibliography he might have a chance. Unfortunately it is stinking up his name if not the excellent work he has done in explaining a difficult science to a skeptical world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blind, Pitiless Indifferent Universe.

The Gradual Illumination of the Mind: Scientific American: "In one of the most existentially penetrating statements ever made by a scientist, Richard Dawkins concluded that 'the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.'"

Which in its blind indifference produced a species that could invent a God which shares that blind pitiless indifference. Why anyone would worship either is a mystery to me. We should celebrate the fact that we miraculously resulted from the ability to survive of countless ancestors, and can do our part to make sure that countless descendants, direct and collateral, live in a more loving and intelligently managed world than we do. We should not be blind, pitiless, and indifferent to our responsibilities to them. In other words we should not let that blind, pitiless, indifferent God manage their lives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Teach your children well

Teach your children well - Beliefnet Forums: "Responsible parenting is teaching your children your dreams, your fears, and yes, your Gods, and perhaps if you are really wise where your Gods have failed you."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Evolutionary analysis of Romeo and Juliet

Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion pp 221-222 brilliantly uses the entire play as an extended metaphor for the "misapplication" of genetic drives of lust, in group altruism, xenophobia, and charity. He explains both the play and evolutionary drives succinctly, and understandably. Incredibly well done!!!