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This is a link post Dear Richard Dawkins
Dickie reads out some fan mail from the religious nutnuts
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:25, Reply)
This is a normal post The man really is a twat.
Of course this is quite funny. Just as I laugh at his bumbling shite.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:34, Reply)
This is a normal post ^ Really? I thought he seemed a decent sort of fellow.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:35, Reply)
This is a normal post Dawkins is a God.
work that one out.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:30, Reply)
This is a normal post One of those is actually quite touching.
Dawkins is a real twat, he makes me very angry.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:35, Reply)
This is a normal post Which one?
A lot of them seemed hateful at worst, ignorant at best
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:41, Reply)
This is a normal post This one:

Of course, for an atheist it may seem amusing, but the writer believes and made a valid point, from his own perspective. Laughing at that one is just a bit 'Haha! You believe in God and care about me!' schoolboy stuff.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:16, Reply)
This is a normal post All they really say
is 'what is the point of living if you don't believe as I do? What is the point of living if when you die you are gone forever? Living life and not thinking about it the way I do is pointless'.

Well, what can I say? I disagree. No point in getting mad about it. And I find nothing amusing about somebody telling me my life is pointless just because I don't think the way that I do.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:38, Reply)
This is a normal post It's like my gran getting upset because she thinks that her grandaughter's life is not complete
because she has no children.

That's wrong, but it's not really bad or 'laugh-at-able' because she means well and genuinely believes that the granddaughter will be happier that way.

If that makes sense?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:42, Reply)
This is a normal post For what?
He's always struck me as doing a pretty good job of pointing out intellectual flabbiness and nonsense - at least in respect of science. (I'll grant that he's a bit iffier when he talks about politics and ethics, but that's not his specialist subject; and he's still better than most.)
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:42, Reply)
This is a normal post He's posh and intelligent!
Get him my pretties!!

And his little Stephen Fry too!
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:45, Reply)
This is a normal post To be honest
they're both slightly over-rated. That doesn't mean they aren't good, though.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:47, Reply)
This is a normal post I've never really understood the fawning over Stephen Fry.
I mean - he seems like a reasonably nice chap, and reasonably clever and witty. But I've met plenty of cleverer and wittier people who don't appear on Radio 4 every 17 minutes.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:48, Reply)
This is a normal post Who
is clevererer and wittier than The Fry!?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:49, Reply)
This is a normal post The chuckle brothers for a start!

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:50, Reply)
This is a normal post Where to start?
In varying proportions of cleverness and wittiness, Clement Freud, Will Self, Matthew Parris, Jeremy Hardy, Marcus du Sautoy, Michael Bywater, AC Grayling, Susan Greenfield, Mary Warnock, John Sulston...

Fry was once described as a stupid person's idea of a clever person; and I think that that's not wholly unjust.

The thing about Fry is that he's perfectly good at what he does - maybe the best at what he does - but he doesn't do much. He's not a great expert on anything in particular; he's not all that original a wit. He's an OK writer, an OK actor, an OK raconteur.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:56, Reply)
This is a normal post I can only imagine that comment 'a stupid pea stupid person's idea of a clever person' was made by a bunch
of the sort of bitter and smug intellectuals (who are jealous that people haven't heard of their contributions to the deconstruction of Kantian Philosophy in 21st century socio-economics') that give real intelligent people a bad name.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:01, Reply)
This is a normal post It was Willie Donaldson and Hermione Eyre.

So no, then.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:07, Reply)
This is a normal post Who're they then?
Celebrity spotters? Wow, I can see how they're in a position to judge. I stand corrected.

EDIT: haha, just looked at their back catalogue, they're exactly what I'd imagined, without the plus of having done anything of note themselves.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:11, Reply)
This is a normal post She was/ is a journalist
who had used to be on the staff of The Independent, and is now (I think) with the Evening Standard.
He was a writer, satirist and crack addict.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:14, Reply)
This is a normal post I think, based solely on this post,
that it is fair to say that you fit into the 'stupid people' category, at least in as far as thinking that Fry is intelligent goes?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:12, Reply)
This is a normal post Are you having a "wrong about everything" day?

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:14, Reply)
This is a normal post Yup, I'm a fan
and thus stupid, apparently.

I'm also not a fan of the sort of person who thinks smug comments like that quote are of any intellectual worth. Even if I weren't a fan...

If someone said 'That Simon Cowell is a chancer's idea of a successful music producer'. I'd suggest that they were talking out of their arse (though I might argue the definition of the word 'music')
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:20, Reply)
This is a normal post The quotation isn't that ONLY stupid people think that Fry is clever.
Only a stupid person would infer tha... Oh.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:25, Reply)
This is a normal post To be fair
I rather fancy that it was more than just his inference, you rather implied it, no?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:35, Reply)
This is a normal post Heh.
I'm just rehearsing a line that I've always found witty.

Note, too, that it's an attack on Fry, not his fanclub - although he is overrated.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:40, Reply)
This is a normal post Just out of curiousity
what is he being rated upon?

Presumably not popularity...
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:44, Reply)
This is a normal post Good question.
And I don't really know. But I don't understand why so many people think that he's such a genius when, plainly, he isn't.

He's not without talent, but nevertheless an above-par generalist at best.

OK - so maybe that's it. He knows (or appears to know) a little bit more about most things than do most people. But anyone who's tolerably well-read could do what he does. He's therefore unexceptional.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:58, Reply)
This is a normal post How is that his fault though?
He's said many times that he's not a very clever person, he just has a brain which absorbs pointless information more than other people.

I think he's great, he has a passion for education (in the loose sense of the word, not organised education), for doing whatever it is that makes you happy. He finds the English language magical and takes pleasure in using it to the extent of his capability.

Of course he's not alone in this, and nor does he claim to be. He's just a normal friendly non-judgmental bloke who has some real quality values and rarely feels the need to impose himself on others. Compare that to 95% of people on television. I'm completely with you that he's unexceptional in terms of the wider world, but in the television world he seems to be a rare thing - just an all round nice and honest bloke.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 17:40, Reply)
This is a normal post Only Jeremy Hardy have I much knowledge of or liking of from that list
Clement Freud, Will Self and Matthew Parris I do know of but they just don't tickle me like Fry does, most folks in a similar intellectual bracket seem to have that Brian Sewell problem of finding it beneath them to be amusing for the proles.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:13, Reply)
This is a normal post Brian Sewell
I treasure a memory of Brian Sewell being brought onto some show as a talking head, and being captioned with his name.

My daughter, whose mastery of reading was recent and uncertain at the time, piped up: "Is his name really Brain Swell?"

And Brain Swell he will always remain, in our house at least.
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 21:39, Reply)
This is a normal post Well, you've conceded that he's maybe the best at what he does
Now figure out what that is, and there's your answer as to why people fawn over him.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:18, Reply)
This is a normal post "Now figure out what that is"
Does "Being Stephen Fry" count as an answer?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:28, Reply)
This is a normal post Bingo!

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:36, Reply)
This is a normal post He's interesting, a damn good raconteur with the knowledge of Google, except less mistakes and porn, and a rather lovely chap,
end of, really.

He doesn't need to collect accolades or achieve anything intellectually approved for me, he doesn't need to prove himself at anything at all, I don't like him 'cos he's 'better' or 'cleverest' I like him 'cos he's likeable and I learn stuff.

And he's a bit lovely.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:33, Reply)
This is a normal post Stephen Fry.
He's a quite amusing chap of no actual consequence. Not a bad presenter, a decent quiz-show host, a fair light-comic writer, comic actor etc.
a bit of a luvvie, prone to occasional flouncing and the odd foot-in-mouth moment (such as his recent pronunciations about women not really liking sex- a subject he's *plainly* underqualified to speak on, with perhaps only the Pope being less suitable).

If you slice off his head, it will say "dilettante" all the way through like rock.

But he's harmless enough and I suspect would be good dinner company.
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 21:37, Reply)
This is a normal post What I find interesting is how people always describe him as strident and aggressive
When mostly he's rather mild-mannered, it's just that he dares to question people's faith. The more I see him, the more I like him. Long live the Dawk!

I imagine him dying and arriving at the pearly gates and being welcomed with open arms - "Good man", they'd say "You used your brain and followed the evidence, not like those other losers". It's no more or less likely than him going to Hell...
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:14, Reply)
This is a normal post You see, I think he is terribly unscientific.
He ignores everything in an attempt to show his own case.

Personally I find extremists of all types unpalatable, but those extremists who bang on about how extremism is evil add hypocrisy to their ignorance and make Manley angry.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:15, Reply)
This is a normal post Sorry, mate, but that's such crap
And I know we've had this out before, but seriously, what does he 'ignore'? There *is* no evidence that opposes his case. There are loads of interesting unsolved problems in biology, but none of them seriously challenge evolution or give any evidence of intelligent design.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:20, Reply)
This is a normal post ^This^
There's nothing there for him to ignore.

He basically points out that, and explains why, there's no reason to take the god-hypothesis seriously, and several reasons why not to.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:26, Reply)
This is a normal post There is no evidence that supports his case either.
His position (that there is no deity) is precisely as undefended as the positions he claims to be exposing.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:36, Reply)
This is a normal post No no no....
You see, the existence of an omnipresent all-powerful being and the particular actions attributed to him in scripture....are ruled out by the laws of science.

There is firm empirical evidence to support Dawkin's view - there is no such evidence to support god.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:41, Reply)
This is a normal post No there is not.
There is zero empirical evidence to support a deity, but also zero empirical evidence to support Dawkins's belief that there is no deity.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:45, Reply)
This is a normal post So with zero empirical evidence to support something....
Isn't it more rational to not believe in it rather than state its existence is definite?

*edit* Also - if you're talking about the scripture-defined form of god (which I think the people who write him hate mail probably are), there's LOTS of empirical evidence to support his non-existence (if you partly define his existence by stated actions and causal effect).
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:51, Reply)
This is a normal post No.
Absolutely not.

Of course, you are looking at this from our perspective, not a logical one.

An atheist maintains, with zero empirical evidence to support his position, that there is no Deity. By your argument, it would be more rational not to believe in Atheism than to state that it is definitely true.

I am not arguing with Dawkins's beliefs, merely ranting about his hypocrisy in applying logic to theists which he does not, in turn, apply to atheism.

If you are an empiricalist and not an agnostic then you are shit at empiricalism.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:56, Reply)
This is a normal post Try looking at it from a different perspective.
If you ask simply 'does God exist?' you can answer in whatever way you want. There's no logical basis to start from and so as you say, the only logical answer is an indecisive one.

The question should instead be 'why do people believe in God?' One answer is that we evolved that way. Consider it's just a biological mechanism within our brains to help us to bond and grow communities with moral uniformity. Or there's the religious view that there is a real, all powerful being we experience through our thoughts and emotions. Either could be true... but which one of those answers sounds more likely? I would certainly say God has been a useful evolutionary trait, so that alone convinces me he's imaginary.

Can't it be both? Can we argue that there's a second, REAL God besides the evolved imaginary God? Sure, but if we can explain the experience of God without God being present, then the real God is clearly doing absolutely nothing. If a God does nothing, why worship him?

tl;dr - I'm an Atheist, argue with me.
(, Tue 23 Nov 2010, 18:46, Reply)
This is a normal post I think that's possibly a step too far
They're ruled out by the laws of science as we currently know them, but that's not quite the same thing. I lean more towards Enzyme's way of putting it: God is an unnecessary hypothesis to account for the world we see around us.

Of course, there are also logical flaws in the God concept, but that leads to word games and doesn't really help anyone.

My personal favourite argument against creationism is this: given the staggering amount of evidence for evolution, the only possible conclusion is that God was deliberately lying to us (cf Terry Pratchett's 'Strata'). Once you accept that (you can call it 'testing your faith', then it becomes difficult to see why God mightn't just as easily have been lying to us in the Biblical account. Surely once you accept a mendacious God, all bets are off?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:51, Reply)
This is a normal post I like all of that.
The thing is, I have no problem with saying that there are logical issues with religion, but then I don't support any faith nuts, be they Muslim Extremists, Creationalists or Dawkins.

I also find that many, many Dawkins supporters seem to equate any religion with a strict following and utter belief in the bible, as though faith had rules. Not many Christians are creationists.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:00, Reply)
This is a normal post And our survey says - wah wahhh
(, Tue 23 Nov 2010, 13:15, Reply)
This is a normal post That's utter nonsense, and a misreading of his case.
He has never - to my knowledge - said that there is positively no deity. What he has done is to argue - reasonably - that there's no need to invoke a deity to explain observed phenomena.

He then takes this one step further, to argue that tacking a deity onto the world does not help us understand anything: it just muddies the water. After all, it doesn't really tell us how a phenomenon occurs, but it does give us a whole other set of mysteries about the nature and agency of an entity for which we have no independent evidence.

Therefore, if you want to understand the world, don't invoke deities. They'll leave you worse off.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:44, Reply)
This is a normal post I personally believe that recognising that some things surpass our understanding is a very
valuable position and deities are a nice way to get people to do so, but that aside, he is an out atheist and has stated that those who believe in a deity are suffering from a mental illness.

That is a fairly clear standpoint, one might say.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:50, Reply)
This is a normal post "[R]ecognising that some things surpass our understanding is a very valuable position..."
I don't see that as being coherent.

I don't think anyone really denies that there may be things that we, as humans, will never understand. The reconciliation of quantum and relativistic physics may be one of those things: they plainly do coexist, but noone has got them to fit together yet. Maybe noone will.

But to recognise that there're perhaps things that are beyond us is not a licence to introduce any old crap into a field. There is a reason to believe that the models of physics do fit together - after all, the universe is here - but there's no reason to believe in a deity. As I said before, such a belief adds nothing to any debate about the nature, workings, or content of the universe except mystery.

Why should we ascribe value to beliefs that add nothing except mystery?

People who continually beleive in stuff for which there is no evidence, and that is inaccessible to others who do not hold those beliefs, are frequently mentally ill; so the comparison - though a bit cheeky - may not be entirely specious.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:04, Reply)
This is a normal post So you contest that Stephen Hawkin is mentally ill
since he clings to a belief that there are black holes?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:06, Reply)
This is a normal post

I'm going outside.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:17, Reply)
This is a normal post So they are only mentally ill if their beliefs do not coincide with yours?

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:23, Reply)
This is a normal post No, only if their beliefs don't coincide with the observable and testable laws of the universe.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:32, Reply)
This is a normal post And you suggest that this is true of all beliefs involving a deity?

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 17:48, Reply)
This is a normal post Not in the slightest.
Black holes are predicted by a theory that is testable. That theory has been tested in other ways, and been found to be sound. So we have a reason to, and the ability to, go ahead and make predictions about the nature of these predicted black holes, and test for their existence.

And - what do we find? Well, that the universe seems to behave as we predicted it would. Thus the evidence strongly suggests that there are supermassive black holes at the centre of most galaxies, and that there're smaller ones elsewhere. Score one of Einstein and Hawking.

Had the universe differed radically from the predictions, then the theory would be ditched. That's why noone believes in phlogiston any more.

What we have is a picture in which a theory explains some phenomena in an efficient manner, and makes testable predictions about others. The god hypothesis does neither of these things.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:21, Reply)
This is a normal post On the contrary,
a deity explains some otherwise inexplicable phenomena in an efficient manner.

There is no evidence for it and we may have to readdress, but for the moment it fits - it is VERY similar to black holes.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:25, Reply)
This is a normal post What phenomena are you referring to, specifically?
With which phenomena does the input of a god make the most sense?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:29, Reply)
This is a normal post Pretty much EVERYTHING for which we have no answer.
See also 'magic'.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:32, Reply)
This is a normal post That's not an explanation.
That's just a way of saying "Dunno, mate".
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:35, Reply)
This is a normal post Oh, right...magic - yes.
I'd forgotten about that.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:36, Reply)
This is a normal post Not at all.
Imagine a hitherto explained phenomenon. Now invoke a deity to "explain" it. Do we really have a better grip on that phenomenon? No. We're just saying "God did it". That's not an explanation.

What we do have, though, is a whole range of other things to explain, such as the nature and existence of that deity - what kind of thing it is, how it interacts with the world, and so on - a deity that we've invoked merely to explain the phenomenon, and without any supporting or independently-testable reason.

That's not an efficient answer. It's a refusal to answer.

It's not the same as with black holes, which - as I explained - are predicted by a theory that is independently testable, and the existence of which is in itself independently testable in principle.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:34, Reply)
This is a normal post "God did it" IS an explanation.
I accept that you reject that hypothesis - I do myself, but just because it is not our belief that does not negate its innate value.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 17:50, Reply)
This is a normal post Innate value?
What currency are you using to value God?

It's an untestable position, just one of an infinite number of possible explanations for shit we don't understand yet.

If you ascribe value to something that by definition can never be tested (it's faith, you're not meant to prove it) and for which an infinite number of alternative variations exist, infinite dilution of your value system to worthlessness is the only logical conclusion.
(, Sun 28 Nov 2010, 15:30, Reply)
This is a normal post He doesn't say there is no God
He says there 'almost certainly' is no God, and defends that thesis with a large number of strong arguments and evidence.
People who say absence of evidence is not evidence of absence are just plain wrong. It is impossible to prove that there are no mauve swans in Dorset, but every year you spend observing the swan population without seeing one is evidence in favour of that hypothesis - and there are all kinds of Bayesian methods to quantify exactly how strong that evidence is.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:45, Reply)
This is a normal post There are, but the lack of a deity is not observable.
It is more like saying that there is no life off the Earth. For now unmeasurable.

Aside from this, the man is an atheist. He absolutely has stated this as categorical fact and, as such, his beliefs are not in keeping with his stated doctrine.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:48, Reply)
This is a normal post Yes, but we can analyse the probability of life...taking into account all of the variables it needs to exist
...compare that to the size of the universe...and reasonably surmise that it probably does exist elsewhere.

It's not the same as the god / no god question at all.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:55, Reply)
This is a normal post Strawman.
I was writing off the swan analogy, not providing my own.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:01, Reply)
This is a normal post Atheism is a broad church :)
There is a logical distinction between the following statements:

'There is no God'
'I believe there is no God'
'There is almost certainly no God'

You can truthfully state 2 and 3. To state 2 is logically equivalent to saying 'I am an atheist'. Meanwhile, 1 is a factual statement that may be either true or false.

I am an atheist ("I believe there is no God"), but that is not inconsistent with saying "The nonexistence of God is not proven". If God were to manifest tomorrow on the roof of St Paul's Cathedral, I would change my belief.

As for your first point, there is a huge difference between the question of extraterrestrial life, about which surely everyone must be agnostic, and the question of God. God is supposed to have an active presence here on Earth. That is a question about which we have empirical evidence. Obviously there is no evidence for or against a passive, non-material God who exists in some sense but doesn't affect the physical world in any way, but who *cares* whether a God like that 'exists'?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:00, Reply)
This is a normal post I agree that one can truthfully state 2 and 3.
I have absolutely no issue at all with people who state 2. I have a problem with those who state 2, but then go on to say that those who have alternate beliefs are wrong.

I have no time for anyone saying that the beliefs of others is wrong, be those beliefs Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, Christianity or any other belief based on non-empirical evidence.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:05, Reply)
This is a normal post I just disagree
Surely if I believe something different from you I am perfectly entitled (even obliged) to try to persuade you to my point of view. 'I believe there is no God' is the same as 'I believe you are wrong to believe in God'. I *love* being told I'm wrong about things and getting a chance to argue my case or be persuaded to a new belief.

In fact, I'd say this has already happened with me in the case of Dawkins, who certainly pushed me further down the path from vague agnosticism to outright (even evangelical!) atheism.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:10, Reply)
This is a normal post That's wrong, which is a shame, because up until now I thought it was all going very well.
'I believe there is no God' is not the same as 'I believe you are wrong to believe in God'.

I don't really know what more to say about that, it clearly is the case.

I do not like Marmite, but I do not believe that you are wrong to like Marmite.

The existence of any deity is unproven (unprovable even) and therefore people can happily have different beliefs without disregarding the possibility of the beliefs of others.

If you wish to convince others then the onus of proof is on you, not on them (in either direction, of course) and it is precisely the fact that Dawkins tries to convert others to his faith without providing proof, whilst at the same time attacking them for not providing proof, which is so very distasteful.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:15, Reply)
This is a normal post What is the difference?
'I believe that there is life on other planets'
'I don't believe that there is life on other planets'
Doesn't that mean that each believes the other is wrong? 'I believe A' and 'I disbelieve not-A' are the same thing.

'I like marmite' isn't the same thing at all. 'Liking' and 'Believing' are totally different mental processes. To believe in something is to have an opinion about a putative fact, which has to be either true or false (or a shade of grey in between). It's perfectly possible for one person to say 'I like marmite' and another to say 'I dislike marmite' and for them both to be correct. Isn't that blindingly obvious?

Meanwhile it is perfectly coherent to say 'I believe there is no God. I believe you are wrong to believe in God. But your belief may turn out to be correct'. That's what 'believe' *means*!
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:24, Reply)
This is a normal post Okay, scrap Marmite (although i hold that it is sound)
Let's have a race. I believe that the red horse will win. You believe that the blue horse will win.

Neither of us is 'right' so to say that the other is wrong is logically flawed.

Dawkins's faith is not wrong, nor is that of an extremist Muslim. The actions of those individuals can be wrong and, in this instance, it is Dawkins's insistence that those who believe differently to him are 'wrong' which is inconsistent with his arguments.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:29, Reply)
This is a normal post What?
'Neither of us is "right"'? Of course we are - either the red horse or the blue horse will win, and then one of us will have been right (and will have been right all along) and the other will have been wrong. Just because an event is in the future doesn't make it any less factual (cf 'grue'). And of course, this still isn't relevant to the God question because that's talking about a supposed entity that exists now, or in the past. I'm obviously agnostic about the existence of a *future* God (although I still tend towards the 'there is not now and will never be a God' belief, I recognise that it is a marginally weaker position)

Dawkins doesn't have 'faith'. He has a rationally argued belief based on evidence and laws of probability. Faith is a belief *in opposition* to evidence: "I believe in God and will continue to hold that belief whatever you say". That's emphatically *not* the same as a scientific position.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:40, Reply)
This is a normal post I agree with your last statement strongly.
"I believe in God and will continue to hold that belief whatever you say". That's emphatically *not* the same as a scientific position.

As is "I do not believe in God and, indeed, state that he does not exist, regardless of any lack of evidence.

That would be faith. He believes in something without being able to know it.

You started here well, but fell logically at this rather small hurdle and are now arguing for atheism, rather than accepting logical inconsistencies in Dawkins's argument.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 18:07, Reply)
This is a normal post One of you is right...
But unfortunately, in a fair race, the truth value of neither proposition is knowable until after the race.

"It will rain tomorrow" has a truth value; we just do not know with perfect confidence what that value is.
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 21:31, Reply)
This is a normal post God vs, Marmite
Not the same thing at all.

Saying "I don't like Marmite" is (unless it's an outright lie), a statement about my personal mental state. No-one else has any valid opinions on the subject. Saying "I don't *believe* in Marmite" would be a closer analogy. If someone can buy me a jar of God from Tesco, I'll change my opinion.
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 21:29, Reply)
This is a normal post "It is more like saying that there is no life off the Earth."
Not quite.

Looking for extraterrestrial life would involve looking for things that are basically like us: medium-sized solid objects. We know that we came from somewhere, and so it's not a wild leap to suppose that something similar may have happened elsewhere.

A deity, by contrast, is by definition utterly unlike anything we've experienced, and it's unclear how you'd go about looking for one; a deity is not a medium-sized solid object, and possibly not an object at all. So your analogy doesn't quite fit.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:08, Reply)
This is a normal post I accept this.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:10, Reply)
This is a normal post He works from a purely scientific basis.
What does he "ignore"?

I don't think that you could call someone who bases their world view on empirical evidence an "extremist".
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:26, Reply)
This is a normal post Evangelist =/= Extremist
Dawkins is an evangelist for atheism and rational thinking, but that doesn't make him an extremist. He's just passionate about the beauty and wonder of science.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:34, Reply)
This is a normal post and the 'Dawkins is an extremist' tag seems to be only really applied by the Creationists who dislike him
and intentionally misconstrue his views on religion.

Saying that, he has a smug-sounding voice and can get confrontational on occasion. But nobody's perfect.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:29, Reply)
This is a normal post It's hard to see how you could not get confrontational with some of the fundies out there.
I don't see why being confrontational has to be a vice...
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:33, Reply)
This is a normal post ^ I agree with this.
He does sometimes come across as being quite aggressive and patronising. His logic is always sound, though...and I can understand why he gets frustrated.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:35, Reply)
This is a normal post I am not,
not that it should matter, a creationalist or, indeed, a fundamentalist of any kind (except perhaps about gin).

He is a smug twat, but that aside, Dawkins states that there is no deity and defends that position aggressively.

To defend an undefended and logically weak position that strongly and in the face of a lack of any evidence whatsoever is not scientific.

I must admit that it is tempting to follow him for those who do not believe that there is a deity (which is not an issue, obviously) but to fail to recognise that this is a belief is not in keeping with his position.

Essentially, his faith is driving him in the face of his own logic, which makes me question him more than other fundies, since he is so fucking hypocritical about it all.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:40, Reply)
This is a normal post I'd say it's logically weaker to say there IS a god than to say there ISN'T one.
It's not the same thing.

If you view the universe from a scientific, evidence-based standpoint, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that god exists.

There is plenty to suggest that he doesn't.

Science shouldn't be about stating definites, I agree. Though whilst you can't be entirely certain whether or not there's an invisible intangible pixie living on your head, the evidence against it is so great whilst the evidence supporting it is so flimsy that it's non-existence is as close to a certainty as you can possibly get.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:49, Reply)
This is a normal post Your post is your opinion, not logic.
In fact there is considerably more evidence that there is a deity than that there is not one, but I think that we can discredit a metric fuckload of that.

To say that there is a deity is logically precisely as flawed as to say that there is not one for anyone who claims to be an imiricalist.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:52, Reply)
This is a normal post *What* evidence??
What evidence are you talking about that supports the existence of a deity? I genuinely can't think of a single example.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:05, Reply)
This is a normal post Evidence being observable events,
there is a shitload of recorded evidence of there being a God.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:18, Reply)
This is a normal post ORLY?

EDIT: Actually, I'm about to go home. But I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that there's nothing in the cupboard.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:23, Reply)
This is a normal post The fucking Bible?

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:30, Reply)
This is a normal post The Bible is evidence for the existence of god?
Only in the same way that The Complete Works of Shakespeare is evidence of the existence of Prospero.

The Bible provides ample evidence that people can talk meaningfully about a deity; but it doesn't give us a reason to beleive that that deity exists. People can talk meaningfully about Prospero as well.

Nor does the fact that people take the Bible to be true reliable evidence that it is; again, we could imagine someone who thinks that Shakespeare provides accurate historical commentaries, though that person would be wrong, and the accuracy or otherwise of Shakespeare has nothing to do with whether or not he's believed.

Seriously: if you think that the Bible is a reliable guide to actual events or existing entities, you...

Gah. I can't even think of a suitable way to finish that sentence.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:42, Reply)
This is a normal post Well I do not. not even a little bit
but if you feel that documented accounts are not evidence then you are a mong.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 18:08, Reply)
This is a normal post Documented accounts
need to be judged for reliability, not all evidence is equally valuable.

How reliable is a 2,000 year old document that has been translated, edited, redacted etc?

I'm going to go with "not very". Even if it was hot off the fucking press though, I'd still probably want more than a boring collection of anecdotes to convince me of the one true story of creation. I'm terribly cynical like that.
(, Sun 28 Nov 2010, 15:43, Reply)
This is a normal post Are you referring to biblical miracles?
That's not evidence. Humans are notoriously poor at recalling even fairly ordinary events, and can easily be fooled by conjuring tricks, not to mention the game of Chinese Whispers that goes on after the events are first reported. What evidence is there of God's existence *now*? Jesus' face in a peanut butter jar?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:31, Reply)
This is a normal post What evidence is there of Australia *now*
for me, in my living room at home?
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:33, Reply)
This is a normal post Blimey.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:37, Reply)
This is a normal post That's a great analogy
There is evidence for Australia now because you know people who have gone there, and you have seen pictures from there, you may even have visited there yourself. All the evidence points towards its existence. To believe that Australia *doesn't* exist, you'd have to state that all the evidence you have seen was made up. The TV broadcasts were faked, your trip was an elaborate simulation, the people were abducted. Sure it's *possible*, but it's ridiculously unlikely, and I would be quite within my rights to say 'I think you're wrong' and explain the reason. And if you wrote a book stating your belief, I would be entitled to say *that* was wrong too!
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:51, Reply)
This is a normal post Indeed.
Yet I have seen more evidence of a God than of Australia (And again, let me stress that I am not a religious nutter and add that I do believe in Australia).

Many more people I know have witnessed the existence of God, spoken with him and met him than have been to Australia.

I would question that to believe that Australia does not exist I would have to state the evidence. Indeed, the only situation where I would have to do so is if I were to be trying to convince others.

As Dawkins is.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 18:16, Reply)
This is a normal post Okay, I have to finish up here
Someone that wanted to deny the existence of Australia could be refuted by taking them to Australia and pointing to it. There is no such option for God. The fact that you cite the miracles of the Bible as evidence demonstrates this: you're right, only a miracle - that is to say, a verifiable violation of the laws of physics - could constitute evidence for God. But all such miracles seem to occur hundreds or thousands of years in the past, leaving only hearsay evidence - as I said before, notoriously unreliable.

What examples of modern-day miracles have been attested? People surviving accidents, and blatantly made-up morality tales.

Even if God existed, what evidence do we have that he wants our worship, or will punish gay people, or answers prayers, or in any way cares about our existence? It seems to me that he might just as easily punish us for refusing to accept the evidence in front of us. People can keep their faith, of course, maybe it is even a good thing (that's a separate question, independent of the existence question - and an interesting one, I think), but if it's such a weak thing that they feel offended by someone challenging it or asking them why they believe it, then they can fuck right off.

And with that, see you next time Dawkins pops up - we seem to do this a lot.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 19:16, Reply)
This is a normal post Evidence for Australia
Earlier today I finished a call to a friend in Australia. I am 99.999%confident that I could call him tomorrow for example. But I can not prove 100% that anything exists beyond what I can see or hear. You could take me to Australia, you could show me it, make me smell, hear, see and touch and taste it. I am 99.999% confident I could return to England, but not 100%.

But I could stay there, or here and maybe feel 100% certain that Australia does exist, and try to convince everyone that it does, but not be able to do it until they too come and stay in Australia and touch, see, hear, smell and taste it.

But what is the quality of 100%? Is my trust, (do I have trust?) 'Yes', or 'No', more important? Is that '100%'? Effectively, am I either 'in' or 'out'?

Could I prove that writing this isn't part of some big Truman Show type game? That Like in The Others one day I'm going to realise I am a ghost, or living some weird existence where people are robots and interact with me, the sole human being? Am I effectively the sole human being, or sole soul? Is time a circular or spherical concept? What if I have no senses? What then of my world? What if I can't think and can't sense? What is my reality?

All I can do, now, is react or be inert to my senses and react or be inert to my thoughts. I can't speak for anyone else.

However, in my world, I believe that the people I interact with have recounted so many common things, and the people that have preceeded us have recounted so many common things, that I agree with the concept, definition and etymology of the word 'trust', and trust these commonalities. I agree with many (most? all?) scientific concepts that I can see or understand and trust. I even agree and trust many of our flawed application of scientific concepts - I believe that the theory behind the flight I am going to take works, and I believe in the human beings that also believe in it and am willing to accept that they built the aircraft to a certain standard and I'm happy with that standard, and that is my reality.

Is what we are talking about a question of how we think? I believe in God. I have evidence enough to satisfy myself that God exists, in what I feel and think and what I have seen. But I'm certain that I could not put this into words, certain that I couldn't satisfy and present evidence to other people who demand something (that I believe they would describe as) more 'tangible'. I understand that demand. I can see that my beliefs are maybe 'unsound' in that respect. And I'm not talking about differing standards of proof either, or 'values' versus 'beliefs'. And I can see how I would fail a test to say: 'there's God, he feels like X, he smells like Y, he looks like Z. If you throw him in the air, he comes down to earth'. And I can see how someone would say, 'well, if you can see the science and logic, and agree with testing and evidence (because I take testing of aircraft over belief, and I don't subscribe to excusing flight 'well, after all the testing is done, you are in God's hands') then how can you believe something we can't all sense, or 'prove'? I would say this:

I feel, and think that God exists. I don't use God to excuse the hitherto inexplicable, but believe that God explains both the inexplicable and the explicable. I don't believe in fairies, or horoscopes or anything like that. But I have felt God, think God and therefore believe in God. But I don't expect you to.

I doubt God will ever reveal himself as we expect.
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 18:56, Reply)
This is a normal post It's back to the old invisible pink unicorn arguement,
it's a perfectly valid scientific viewpoint to seriously doubt the existence of something for which there is no reliable evidence, it's a foundation of scientific thinking. Of course, if evidence does come to light, that doubt must then be re-examined.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:06, Reply)
This is a normal post Indeed.
As I state, I have no problem at all with believing that most or all deity based beliefs are entirely wrong.

I do have a problem with those who go out of their way to state that this is logically the case when the logic they are applying also dismisses their own stated belief that there is no deity.

Essentially, there almost certainly is no deity, but that is not enough for me to be able to empirically state that there is no deity to the extreme of making it my entire career to go out of my way to publish that fact.

The man is a smug little stirrer and nothing more.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:09, Reply)
This is a normal post There's no doubt that Dawkins enjoys baiting his opponents
And he seems to get a kick out of arguing his case. Why on earth would he keep going if he didn't? - it must be pretty horrible to get mail like that every day! Is that 'smug'? Maybe. 'Stirrer', no doubt. Good. There are enough stirrers on the god-bothering side that I think the world needed Dawkins and the others (Hitchens, now, *there's* a genuine smug wanker).

Seriously, read him again, objectively. Is he really that offensive? Or does he just break our taboo against questioning religious faith?

And I'm going to push you again about your statement that there is lots of evidence for a deity. Seriously - I want to hear about it.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:17, Reply)
This is a normal post I answered it above.
The thing is that I don't mind him baiting the religious nuts, I have a massive problem with him saying that they are wrong (which I personally believe) for trying to convert others without evidence, before immediately doing the same.

It is not his opinion, but his hypocrisy which ires.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:20, Reply)
This is a normal post Dawkins is not a hypocrite
nor is he making assertions in defiance of any logical code.

In order to know your position, you must first have an absolute baseline relative to it. To a scientist, knowing your position is crucial to following the scientific method. It's called the Null Hypothesis.

The theist's baseline is a rich history of religion that reinforces belief through faith. This neatly avoids the need for evidence/scrutiny of any kind and is, by definition, impossible to measure or disprove. A scientist's baseline is an absence of effect that can be easily disproved by (repeatedly) observing and measuring the effect. If the effects of a deity ever occur repeatedly under laboratory conditions, scientists will modify their Null Hypotheses accordingly.

Scientific theories require a Null Hypothesis to be falsifiable and therefore credible. I think you are asking Dawkins to describe a scientific theory without invoking it (in this case, the Null Hypothesis states that a creator god does not exist), which is impossible. It's a bit like asking a theist to state his beliefs without invoking dogma, scripture or any religious references.

Long story short: Dawkins is a scientist, make sure you consider that when you analyse what he says. He ultimately just wants to understand life in a testable way.
(, Sun 28 Nov 2010, 16:03, Reply)
This is a normal post But it IS logic.
All we have as a basis for evidence is the observable laws of the universe.

We can't say for certain that there isn't a gigantic ant in the depths of the ocean twice the size of the blue whale...but based on observable and measurable evidence elsewhere - our understanding of species, the structure of organisms, we can be certain beyond all reasonable doubt that there isn't.

We can't prove that there is no god, but based on our understanding of the universe, an omnipresent and omnipotent being doesn't make sense.
There is a great deal of evidence to support the notion that the idea of a deity is a human construct. It makes far more rational sense.

That's not an opinion - it's a fact.

Pretty much every organised culture has come up with the idea of a deity. They have common elements, but pretty much all clash in details.

So why doesn't this mean that it's equally likely that a deity DOES exist?

Because the notion that it's an inate human need to create a god figure fits perfectly with our understanding of the universe.

The notion that this deity actually exists requires a massive leap of logic that counters the laws of the universe and has to invent new ones that can't be observed elsewhere.

So it's a conclusion based on logic and whilst no conclusion can be absolute, it can be said to be beyond all reasonable doubt.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:12, Reply)
This is a normal post Your post is a nonsense.
You have stated opinion as fact.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:18, Reply)
This is a normal post Let's agree to disagree on that one.
And there I was starting to think that we were finally going to sort out the whole god thing once and for all.

Ah well.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:22, Reply)
This is a normal post Agreeing to disagree is fine.
If Dawkins would do that then he'd be less of a hypocrite ;)
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 16:31, Reply)
This is a normal post was posted here last week

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:36, Reply)
This is a normal post with a similar reaction.
although, no Stephen Fry tangent.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 15:45, Reply)
This is a normal post They'd be hilarious if they weren't so...
Oh, sod it. They're hilarious.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:39, Reply)
This is a normal post Russell Brand compared him to Professor Yaffles.
Best. Comparison. Ever.
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:41, Reply)
This is a normal post I think Goldacre made that comparison first
(, Sat 27 Nov 2010, 22:22, Reply)
This is a normal post Now imagine him reading out erotic fiction.

(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:41, Reply)
This is a normal post *shudder*
From pleasure or disgust? You decide!
(, Mon 22 Nov 2010, 14:43, Reply)
This is a normal post Rur rur rur. I don't understand do I'm going to say he's smug.
My limited intelligence only allows me to judge his personality, but not his scientific acumen. =/
(, Tue 23 Nov 2010, 7:17, Reply)
This is a normal post made me laugh
but really wish that it didn't have the smug groupies laughing in the background - added nothing. I can't quite believe quite how nasty some of those writers were, having professed to believe in a religion of love and reconciliation. Yes; he asks for it but also he knows exactly what kind of idiot response he is likely to get - you could argue that he is almost trolling for trollings' sake.
(, Tue 23 Nov 2010, 22:24, Reply)
This is a normal post
GuffAH! GuffAH! Chuckle! Snigger! Pffthhh! Laughing twats in the background, always a winner.
(, Fri 26 Nov 2010, 21:21, Reply)
This is a normal post I'd be more inclined to believe in god..
If the church two doors from where I live hadn't fitted a lightning conductor.

Is their great creator a critique of temple construction?
(, Sun 28 Nov 2010, 5:18, Reply)
This is a normal post hmmm
what a self-important prick
(, Tue 30 Nov 2010, 14:23, Reply)
This is a normal post bottom get

(, Mon 20 Jun 2016, 13:26, Reply)
This is a normal post nicely done

(, Mon 20 Jun 2016, 13:36, Reply)