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May 10, 2007


Jeffrey Mushens

Mary Midgley did a much better job of dealing with Dawkins' philosophical inadequacies. But Eagleton's review was pretty funny as well. And Andrew Brown was pretty scathing as well. Maybe Dawkins would be better advised to promote the public understanding of science as something other than inconsistent metaphysical speculation. His actions damage science's reputation in the public mind.


"Fundamentalist" is an epithet almost invariably used by Dawkins's critics, but I'm not sure what they mean by it. If they mean he fundamentally refuses to accept religious explanations, well, yes, that's the point, isn't it? He sees no compelling evidence for them. If they mean that he wants to forcibly impose atheism on other people, as religious fundamentalists do, then they can't have read him very carefully (or at all). His sci-fi speculations in this article are odd, but I think he's trying to say that if even if it turns out we are the product of design, the designer would have to be a physical, non-supernatural intelligence.


Christians are nearly-atheists; they don't believe in Jove or Thor or the Hindu cast of thousands. I add Jehovah to that list. What do Christians find so hard about that last step of non-faith? And why do they find it so hard to see that whatever I might think of other aspects of their character, I despise their intellectual folly on the Jehovah business? Since it upsets them so, I am happy to discuss other things. Nice to see Trescothick back, isn't it?

Richard Dell

Much of the criticism of Dawkins is ill-informed, and few have seriously tackled his arguments, preferring to scoff, much as Sam Wilberforce did of Darwin. There is a long and deeply considered debate here (timeline bottom to top) between Daniel Dennett (with whom my sympathies lie) and others about the issue:

Freeman Dyson has added a necessary addition to Weinberg's remark that Dawkins often quotes. I have more sympathy with Dyson, who takes the only sensible view of God - not only do we not know, but we cannot know.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson (section on Science and Religion)


*Sigh*.... Man, this topic consumes so much of Human activity; can you imagine what we could accomplish if we redirected this energy?!

Take an aquarium (YOU take it, I already have a couple...), its denizens, if born there, have no knowledge of anything other than what they sense through the glass. Food, generally speaking comes from above (heaven?) and corpses return there... an apparition appears out of the 'sky' and scoops up the dead blighters, said blighters never to return. Giant creatures seem to appear regularly and attempt to communicate with the creatures through the barrier that defines their world/universe (that tapping on the glass thing is REALLY painful!...and annoying).

Point being that it really doesn't matter whether there is or isn't a 'creator'. You, as an individual, have more chance of winning big on the lottery than you do on ever having perfect insight into the purpose of the Universe...assuming that there actually IS a reason for its existence.
Enjoy your three score and ten (if you beat the odds) and don't lose sleep over something that you and I have absolutely no grasp of.
.....it is kinda fun thinking about it though, eh?


"What do Christians find so hard about that last step of non-faith?"

I think what is being suggested is the other way round, why does Dawkins find it so hard over that last step of "faith".

I'm not suggesting Dawkins becomes "born again", I just despair why he gets in such a bother over what is essentially a meaningless concept in a modern western society.

After all, atheists are mainly liberal thinking people living in free-thinking western liberal democracies. I doubt very much they'd survive in any other environment, and I imagine they are quite grateful that such societies exist.

And it just so happens that a vast majority of free-thinking western liberal democracies were also Christian ones during their history and went through a process of enlightenment but still have a strong cultural tradition of Christian faith.

And it also just so happens that a vast majority of Christians living in free-thinking western liberal democracies are quite unconcerned that atheists and non-Christians live as equals amongst them, or that government is based on human ideologies rather than God inspired ones, in fact you could say they agree with Dawkins on this point.

Check out basic liberal principles, and apart from the "faith" ones and the belief in the "God delusion", they are identical with Christian principles, you know, stuff like "don't kill anyone" and such.

In short, it makes squat all difference if you have "faith" or not, the principles of a liberal/Christian society are the same.

Perhaps it is not a question that Dawkins might be a raving fundementalist underneath, but more of an acute embarrassment that his entire existance as an atheist depends on the actions of Christians past and present.

I doubt Dawkins will be engaging in a book signing tour to promote The God Delusion in countries like Saudi Arabia, presumably because he prefers his head to remain attached to his body. In the meantime he'll sit on his comfortable atheist arse in his smug Oxford house listening to distant church bells toll in the quaint English country air and ne'er a though will dwell about how this came to be so, he'll just continue to fume over how an unelected Archbishop can put on a silly hat and gain more right to sit in government than he can.

Maybe one day he will discover the connection between the God Botherer in Chief sitting in the House of Lords and his arse and the head that stubbornly remains attached to the same body despite his unholy infidel views.

I admire Dawkins greatly, his book The Selfish Gene was a definining moment in my life, and as a scientist he is unsurpassed in his expertise and his devotion to bring science to the masses.

But he is sadly mistaken that religion is preventing this in the western world, in fact, right now, the Christian faith is probably the only thing standing up to defend the right of atheists like Dawkins to freely air their views, against a bunch of religious control freaks who believe God told them which hand to wipe their bottoms with.



"I despise their intellectual folly on the Jehovah business"

Now you usually talk sound good sense on most of your comments, but here - you've really lost it. It makes you sound like Dave Spart: not a comparison you should enjoy.

To despise must mean in the first place that they make you angry. Why? When we are talking about Christianity, they are only proposing, not imposing. Do you despise the Vegan Society for proposing a Vegan diet? Or the Fabian Society; the Adam Smith Institute; the Rosacrucians; Derby and Joan Clubs, etc., etc......?

Pull yourself together man and stop sounding so ideologically left-wing. Or are you Matthew Parris?


Agence France- Presse
WASHINGTON — NASA unveiled Thursday a model of the massive space telescope that will replace the aging Hubble in 2013 and allow scientists to observe the formation of the first galaxies at the dawning of the universe.

The U. S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency displayed in Washington a full- scale model of the James Webb space telescope, which scientists hope will peer back to the first stars after the “ Big Bang” and the formation of solar systems capable of hosting life.

JWST, a joint project of the U. S., European and Canadian space agencies, will be three times bigger than Hubble, with a hexagonal mirror 6.5 metres in diameter and five- layer sunshield the size of a tennis court"


Yes, yes, many Christians are perfectly nice people. But they manage to mix together "What's it all about then, Lord Russell?" wonderment at the mysteries of the Universe, with belief in a risible collection of Bronze Age Semitic folktales, and then object that others laugh at them. And some aren't nice, like the Catholic schoolteachers who tried to teach a cousin of mine to hate Protestants.

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