Richard Dawkins’ Amateur Philosopher Syndrome

Richard Dawkins is a scientist who is apparently either extraordinarily bored with his discipline, or hopelessly oblivious to its limits.

From his tireless defenses of atheism to his recent tweet on abortion, Dawkins, you see, spends very little time, it seems, sticking to what he knows.  Instead, he is busy away treating his background in science as the supreme credential for making pronouncements on all matters religious and moral.

Dawkins’ is a textbook case of Amateur Philosopher Syndrome (APS)—the delusion that because one is an expert on the physical, one is an expert on the metaphysical—the stuff that scientists have traditionally left to the philosophers and theologians to study.

Just this past weekend, he got people talking about him after he fired off a tweet regarding abortion in which he said that “any fetus is less human than an adult pig.”

When a biologist, as a biologist, uses the term “human,” we expect for it to refer to that which is, well, biologically human.  A human fetus, then, is obviously more human than a pig, for the latter isn’t human at all.  Dawkins, however, uses “human” here in a moral sense, for he is interested in showing that abortion is permissible. “‘Human’ features relevant to the morality of abortion,” he tweets, “include [the] ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others.”

To be clear, there is nothing in the least bit scientific or descriptive about Dawkins’ comments on this score.  His training in science no more qualifies him to speak to the moral standing of abortion than does a person’s experience as a janitor or a dishwasher endow him with any special authority to do the same.

And his handling of the abortion issue shows this in spades.

Dawkins reasons here as if what he’s said hasn’t been said thousands of times over by abortion apologists.  Worse, he proceeds as if he was utterly ignorant of the fact that even those philosophers who have used his argument have conceded that it is fraught with pitfalls.  This ignorance, though, is a common symptom of APS.

If Dawkins is correct and an entity is human only if it is sentient (able “to feel pain, fear etc.) and “be mourned by others,” then our duties to pigs, rats, bats, and all sorts of other animals are no different than those that we owe to one another, for all of these are sentient and, in the right contexts, capable of being enjoyed and mourned by others. Furthermore, those members of the human race who are less sensitive to pain than others must thereby be deemed less human than others, and those humans whose sufferings or death fail to elicit the sympathies of their fellows must then be relegated to the ranks of the non-human.

This is where Dawkins’ logic leads.  But afflicted as he is with APS, Dawkins apparently hasn’t thought it through.

Dawkins’ position on abortion is just as amateurish as his stance on the question of theism, belief in God’s existence.  Not unlike most people, Dawkins thinks that science has it within itself the ability to undermine belief in God’s existence. This is probably the one big blunder of which both theist and atheist alike are guilty. The reality is that science can no more disprove or prove God’s existence than can a painting of the ocean establish the number of gallons that the ocean contains.

In short, in theory science has no bearing on religion, for each speaks to a world separate from the other.

The world of the scientist is an abstraction.  It consists of causes and effects, bodies, structures, processes, material forces, objects and categories of various sorts—e.g. genera and species, etc.  By definition, this is a “natural”—a purely natural—world, a universe that doesn’t allow for any intelligence or mind that isn’t ultimately reducible to matter in motion.  The methods of science ensure this.

In contrast, the world of religion (and morality) is comprised of, not causes, but reasons; not matter, but mind; not objects, but subjects; not forces and processes, but intentions and purposes.  It is a world of believers and unbelievers, moral agents and moral patients, virtues, vices, duties, rights, good and evil.

In conflating these two worlds into one, Dawkins destroys them both.  In bringing morality and religion before the tribunal of science, Dawkins betrays an astonishing ignorance of the characters of morality, religion, and science.

This, though, is exactly what we should expect from one ravaged by Amateur Philosopher Syndrome.

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  • Roy Dzigli

    Very well delineated. Of course science is in a constant state of discorey and revision. Scientists can reproduce results but the ultimate reasons for those results are never exact.
    My sense is that the material world is a reflection of the Mental. Idea made manifest.
    But what do I know? I'm just an old retired ditch digger.

    • Loyal Achates

      Unlike religion, which has never changed.

      • defcon 4

        In what sense do you mean "religion has never changed"? Christianity never experienced a reformation? Judaism never stopped stoning adulterers to death? Are you brain dead?

    • Historian

      Read the Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg's landmark book

  • Chezwick

    I watched a program narrated by Steven Hawkins….in which he insisted that nature had it within itself to produce the Big-Bang spontaneously….without the need for "God". I was expecting his extrapolation to be based on empirical science. Instead, it was all a bunch of theoretical guess-work. There is an underlying arrogance that accompanies such expressed certainties.

    Mr Kerwick is right, the atheist and the theist do indeed share a common delusion: They both profess the wherewithal to "know". I strongly SUSPECT there is a God, that there is a moral component to the universe, and that the gift of life isn't just happenstance….and so I live my life accordingly. But that's the best I can do. I refuse to get specific about the nature of God….and I reject all religion as man-made.

    • D-Boy

      Wow Chezwick, had us going there for a while… Personally I believe in God because I know him. Screwed up my life so bad I had no choice but to look for his "fabled" help. In that looking I found a voice calling to me. I realized if I was wrong about God speaking then I might be blind too, so I sought to see and to my big surprise I saw a hand guiding me and the ability to see it in hindsight keeping me safe a hand reaching to save me from myself. My life had really changed at this point. But when it changed I believe forever is when I had so much to be grateful for yet facing amputation of my leg. I sought this voice and this invisible hand through planned manipulation I had learned from a book. I sought healing by thanking God for everything good and bad in my life and was told that if I could praise him for it all, my useless leg of 4 years could be healed. I was trying to power a windmill of God's power by following some trick of buttering him up. Well I didn't get what I was looking for that night, but what I did get I never in my wildest dreams expected. God came to me and said "low behold it is I" and I was blown away standing before the living invisible creator. I was gushing joy and praise and full of fear at the same time. He is real. I have had the privilege of experiencing a long term fellowship with this person, invisible, so wonderful, so powerful. And I sought him for all the wrong reasons, Big grace with this guy.

      • Chezwick

        All the power to you, D-Boy. I'm truly happy for you that you've made your peace with God and with your circumstances. I hope you receive joy and sustenance from your beliefs the rest of your days.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Guess what? When one spends their lifetime in academia one risks becoming infected with its dementia. The embrace of leftist dogma is more than a series of political choices. It is a way of life. It is ones religion, even if one claims to be an atheist! No kidding. And there is little room for morality and religion, so much so that they must be destroyed.
    These are the poisonous fruits of leftist academia – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/01/22/the-moral-dec

    America's (the west's) moral decline.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • crackerjack

      If academia is demented, we can assume that you reject the products of this demented group like telephones, automobiles, aircraft, electric appliances, computers etc? We may also assume that you, in case of serious illness, will put your faith in religion and refuse treatment based on scientific research?

      • Western Candian

        In light of the huge percentage of the products you listed that were developed by scientists who are very often also men and women of religious conviction, your comment is typical of you: Stupid.

        • Historian

          Rubbish. 94% of the members of the US academy of science, in a recent poll, describe themselves as secularists. Only 3% describe themselves as religious believers. The effect of science is to make you think independently, less inclined to believe ancIent myths and scriptures. Without empirical scientists, you will not have modern civilization with computers, surgical procedures, space travel, cars, housing, sanitation, and fertilizers that banished famines on this planet.

          • SB2013

            There are many aspects of your post that are either wrong or deceiving. 1) the Academy of Science is a relatively small group that isn't receptive to positions (or members) of faith. Change your statistic to scientists and there is a significantly different answer. If the Academy were to consider that their observations of the natural world do not qualify them to critique the supernatural, we'd all be better off. They're actually corrupting their own scientific process. Oh, by the way, many of the great scientists of history were devote Christians inspired to study God's handiwork. Newton wrote Bible commentaries for example. All of the great universities were established to study the great UNIfying force that could explain of this diVERSITY we observe. They all had departments of religion.

          • Historian

            The academy is an elite group of scientists. Do not be dismissive of them. If you look at the history of thought, there is this great divide – before Darwin, I.e. mid 19th century, and post Darwin. Before Darwin, religion ruled human thought, with brilliant exceptions like Spinoza and Hume. After Darwin, and well into the 20th century, the domination of religion became weaker and weaker, as evidence from diverse scientific disciplines, piled up in support of Evolution. Finally, we are freed of the horrors of religious domination, with its loathsome tortures approved by the Vatican, and the burning of live human beings at the stake, accused of being witches. This topic is well documented by scholars. Read modern scholars like Carl Sagan or Sam Harris. Science today explains a great deal more, than did Bronze Age myths, about our planet, our species, our galaxy, and the universe.

          • SB2013

            Their credentials don't make them right. Darwinism is embraced as an absolute, when in reality there is another lens through which all of the evidence equally makes sense. In fact makes better sense. Darwinists dismiss Christianity because it is outside of their presuppositions. They have yet to prove origins in any real way. Where did the matter of the Big Bang come from? Where did the energy that preceeded that come from? All Darwinists that I know and have read ultimately end up saying that it is what they believe. It is through a belief in God that we would even expect to find order around us. Why do scientists fit equations to their data? They expect order.

          • Chezwick

            HISTORIAN: "94% of the members of the US academy of science, in a recent poll, describe themselves as secularists."

            A secularist should not be conflated with an atheist. A secularist merely believes that religion be kept out of the public sphere. Many secularists are believers in God.

          • Historian

            Of course credentials do not make anyone's theory right. They do not prove an opinion, sure, but they do tend to lend some weight.

          • Historian

            Of course secularists want a wall between church and state. Wisely so. Ben Franklin and Adams and Jefferson were among them. But today, scratch a secularist and you find an agnostic underneath. Scratch further, and you find a 99% convinced atheist.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "But today, scratch a secularist and you find an agnostic underneath. Scratch further, and you find a 99% convinced atheist."

            I think a lot depends on context. Professionally many scientists who believe in God will describe themselves as secularists. This testifies to their belief that science and religion should not mix as much as it speaks to questions about government and religion.

            In a social setting, I'd agree your impressions are more or less accurate.

          • Mary Sue

            What did they invent lately?

            Carl Sagan repeatedly spoke on things that were outside his expertise.

            You know, it IS possible to be religious while believing in science :/

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Before Darwin, religion ruled human thought, with brilliant exceptions like Spinoza and Hume. After Darwin, and well into the 20th century, the domination of religion became weaker and weaker, as evidence from diverse scientific disciplines, piled up in support of Evolution. Finally, we are freed of the horrors of religious domination, with its loathsome tortures approved by the Vatican, "

            Am I reading correctly from a historian that believes Darwin freed society from the totalitarian control of the Vatican? Check that timeline again, OK? I think you missed a few major events.

            "Finally, we are freed of the horrors of religious domination, with its loathsome tortures approved by the Vatican, and the burning of live human beings at the stake, accused of being witches."

            Thank the Christians for that. Luther himself may not have been an ideal hero, but the fundamental ideas that took root led to the freedoms we won before Darwin was ever born. And those ideas came from the Bible. The Vatican's justifications did not come from the Bible.

          • F. Swemson

            In Newton's day virtually EVERYONE believed in God… That's no longer the case, and that argument is specious at best.

            fs

          • reader

            In Newton's day virtually EVERYONE knew nothing of Newton's physics, except for Newton that is. In other words, your attempt to make fate into some kind of IQ type criterion is fallacious.

          • Mary Sue

            ….

            You're talking about the CURRENT makeup of the US Academy of Science. Automobiles were not invented last Thursday. Housing was not invented by Marx. Fertilizers were not invented by some Ivory Tower Identity Politics Fanatic.

            We had empirical scientists long before the secularists gained a large foothold in the scientific disciplines. Faraday, Lavoisier, Kepler…the list goes on.

      • PhillipGaley

        Our dear "crackerjack" 's attempt in exercise of critique against tenable position appears as just too closely becoming of a literal definition of "crackerjack", . . . a toy out of a small box: for, risk of any thing is hardly to be entertained as apprehension of the thing, itself.

        And without attempting completeness, but in example of one aspect only, in that way, I feel sure in saying that, even our dear "crackerjack" would be able to correctly negotiate the pitfalls of inquiry into how many there might be who would forego admittance to a hospital, simply upon consideration of increased risk of biological infection.

        From the screwed-up and otherwise incomplete and weak beginning: "If academia is demented, we can assume that you reject . . . .", inevitably, the remainder falls as useless. Further, to put extreme words in the mouth of the other party to discussion is not cogent argument, but is rather, destructive of argument and unity of mankind in pursuit of knowledge, but more, manifests evil in the perpetrator.

        But what of any connection between academia and demented? Well, HUMAN EVENTS (12/1/2012 08:00 PM) published the article: "GEORGE WILL: CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND".

        Although much more could be said, in all, I would say that, our dear "crackerjack" bird here, . . . appears to be just a w-w-a-a-ay short on book-larnin', . . .

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Our dear "crackerjack" 's attempt in exercise of critique against tenable position appears as just too closely becoming of a literal definition of "crackerjack", . . . a toy out of a small box: for, risk of any thing is hardly to be entertained as apprehension of the thing, itself. "

          Well said. It happens a lot with him and a few other crackpots.

      • defcon 4

        LOL, academia isn't demented? The leftards who regularly whitewash islamofascism while demonizing Christianity in US universities aren't academics? Academia is a circle jerk of the all knowing; endlessly and superciliously congratulating each other on their own banal accomplishments. The transistor wasn't invented in any university.

      • Mary Sue

        The people that invented all those things did not go to some fancy shcmancy university that teaches women's studies, ethnic studies, marxism, and other claptrap. Back then it was honest good old fashioned book-learning.

        Academia is demented because it is leftist.

    • Questions

      Questioning God's existence isn't a "Leftist" view. Half of the libertarian movement is atheist. So are a number of prominent conservatives such as Heather Mac Donald and John Derbyshire. You have the mind of a fool.

    • F. Swemson

      The assumption that atheists are all leftists is one of the most common misconceptions about atheists.

      fs

      • reader

        You're wrong, perhaps even disingenuous. Dennis Prager actually examined this link quite thoroughly.

    • AnOrdinaryMan

      Good essay by Eidelman on the cancer of moral relativism. I believe, however, that moral relativism has been facilitated by the rot of political correctness/multi-culturalism. As you say, Churchill and FDR weren't moral relativists; but the fire-bombing of Dresden and Tokyo occurred on their watches; and neither one did very much about rescuing Europe's Jews, who were being swallowed by the Holocaust. Also, Hitler declared war on the USA, on December 11, 1941; only then did the USA declare war on Germany.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Correct regarding 12/11/41.

        The anti-war, isolationist elements in the US worked to keep the US out of the war.

        That ended on 12/7/41with the Pearl Harbor attack.

        Four days later national Socialist Germany declared war on the US on 12/11/41 and the US responded by declaring war on Germany.

        The anti-war, isolationist elements benefited Germany and Japan.

        Today the anti-war, isolationist elements benefit Islamofascists.

      • Mike Giles

        The duty of Churchill and of Roosevelt was to defeat the enemies of the UK and the US while suffering as few casualties as possible. It was not their duty to see to the well being of Germans or Japanese. At any point the German government or the Japanese government could have surrendered and savedtheir citizens. They did not start the war with either the Germans or the Japanese, and this commonly held misapprehension that they were somehow responsible for the lives of their enemies is simply stupid. As for rescuing the European Jews, that also wasn't their duty. It gets on my last nerve to hear people blithely talk about bombing the rail lines leading into the camps. Bombing missions were dangerous. I fail to see why European Jews had some special claim on the lives of the American or British citizens who would have had to fly those missions.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Good essay by Eidelman on the cancer of moral relativism. I believe, however, that moral relativism has been facilitated by the rot of political correctness/multi-culturalism. As you say, Churchill and FDR weren't moral relativists; but the fire-bombing of Dresden and Tokyo occurred on their watches; and neither one did very much about rescuing Europe's Jews, who were being swallowed by the Holocaust. Also, Hitler declared war on the USA, on December 11, 1941; only then did the USA declare war on Germany."

        Making moral choices is not necessarily moral relativism. These days it seems like it might be true but it's not.

  • Mr. Polly

    Mr. Kerwick asserts that the world of religion is a world not of matter, but of mind. But if science can demonstrate that mind is ultimately a product of matter, then the supposed wall of separation between science and religion collapses.

    • Western Candian

      An unoriginal thought, porrly expressed.

      • Mr. Polly

        Apparently it's necessary to keep repeating these unoriginal thoughts until they finally sink in. Believing a mind can exist without a brain is like believing a grasp can exist without a hand or a smile without lips. Mind is not a thing in itself.

        • guest

          prove it.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Mind is not a thing in itself."

          We prove that all the time when we create life from purely physical substances. We can raise up a mind on a silicon chip. I saw it in a movie. It's true.

        • Drakken

          So what is your exuse muzzy?

    • PhillipGaley

      Unfortunately for his intentions at conceptualization, our learned "Mr. Polly" here mistakes and confounds mood in construction: the conditional "if science can demonstrate" positing a conditional, to then think to conclude with present tense or present future continuing is fully illogical, . . . plainly, "Mr. Polly" also, might do well with some good book-larnin', . . . but, . . . probably not, . . .

      • Mr. Polly

        Do you object to what I said or only to the way I said it?

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Do you object to what I said or only to the way I said it?"

          The salient point is that science CAN NOT demonstrate "that mind is ultimately a product of matter."

          • Mr. Polly

            Science has ALREADY demonstrated that mind is ultimately a product of matter. All minds ever observed have been features of evolved organisms and evolution is a purely materialistic process operating on purely material entities. So there.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Science has ALREADY demonstrated that mind is ultimately a product of matter. "

            Really? Please show us. Science has already demonstrated the limits of our ability to produce relevant evidence.

            But wait, perhaps you're able to clone minds now and I just hadn't noticed.

            "All minds ever observed have been features of evolved organisms and evolution is a purely materialistic process operating on purely material entities. So there."

            Your conclusion is not compelling for a number of reasons. Please reread the comments if you're not clear why. All you did was state a theory bootstrapped from Darwin's theory. Still too many ifs. K?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "But if science can demonstrate that mind is ultimately a product of matter, then the supposed wall of separation between science and religion collapses."

      You keep working on that then. Let us know how it goes.

    • ltcdmward

      Do you mean "demonstrate" or do you mean prove? If proved, then there really is no higher or transcendent purpose for any living being and human existence is no more significant that, say, the nothingness in a vacuum — the existence of nothing in the state of Nature. Therefore, for humans ultimately I see death, lots of death as the restraints of some "religions" are cast to the wind. Maybe I'm just ignorant (i.e. lacking knowledge), but I don't recall science providing any kind of guidance for "What's next?" as far as individual human existence is concerned, other than eventual cosmic physical destruction as the Earth's orbit deteriorates or collision with a large enough body. "Religion" however, especially in the Judeo-Christian context, does answer "What's next?" You know, eternal hope as opposed to just existing, dying, and disintegration of "being".

    • F. Swemson

      The issue isn't mind vs matter… It's reason vs faith.

      fs

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "The issue isn't mind vs matter… It's reason vs faith. "

        Faith should follow reason. These pure-materialists are simply too limited in their acceptance of what evidence may consist of. They put a lot of faith in those limits.

    • Mary Sue

      OK bird

      "What is mind? Doesn't matter. What is matter? Never mind." – Homer Simpson, on a Simpsons short from The Tracy Ullman Show

      • Mr. Polly

        Yes, Homer slightly bungled a classic clever statement of mind-body dualism: "What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind." But, to my satisfaction at least, science has demonstrated that mind and body are not separate, independent substances.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "But, to my satisfaction at least…"

          That we can see.

        • Mary Sue

          of course he bungled it, he's Homer Simpson :P

  • crackerjack

    If Dawkins training in science no more qualifies him to speak to the moral standing of abortion than does a person’s experience as a janitor or a dishwasher, why should anyones personal religious beliefs qualify to a moral standing concerning abortion?

    Why should a religious janitor or dishwasher be more capable of a moral judgement than an atheist janitor or dishwasher?

    • Western Candian

      That you are fool enough to ask the question, proves that you are too much the fool to understand the answer.

    • PhillipGaley

      When our dear "crackerjack" gets into that book-larnin' which I suggested, above, hopefully, his exposure will be broad enough to find the larger answer to his question, . . . it would just take a whole lotta reasoning in composition, . . . which I think, is not now appropriate, . . .

      • wsk

        and "crakerjack" try to read something other than "cosmo" magazine or "Fifty Shades of Gray"…

        • wsk

          or Earth in the Balance..

          • crackerjack

            Thanx forall the contributions folks, but nobody seems to be capable of explaining the difference between the moral judgement of a religious janitor and an atheist janitor.

            Or put in simple English………….is the moral integrity of an individual dependent on his religious views?

          • reader

            Among many other things that you never read, try John Locke on Natural Rights.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Thanx forall the contributions folks, but nobody seems to be capable of explaining the difference between the moral judgement of a religious janitor and an atheist janitor. "

            The point of the article is that there is no difference.

            "Or put in simple English………….is the moral integrity of an individual dependent on his religious views?"

            That depends on your definition of moral integrity. Obviously yes, but it is dependent on how you define "moral integrity."

            Allah akbar to you if you want an example. Is lying immoral?

          • Mary Sue

            the atheist Janitor has no comprehension of absolute morality in and of itself without borrowing from religion.

          • crackerjack

            Dear mary Sue, this is exactly what the Islamists teach, the moral superiority of religion.

          • Indus Valley

            Again Islam is not a religion as such….

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Dear mary Sue, this is exactly what the Islamists teach, the moral superiority of religion."

            Nope. They teach the moral superiority of Islam.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "If Dawkins training in science no more qualifies him to speak to the moral standing of abortion than does a person’s experience as a janitor or a dishwasher, why should anyones personal religious beliefs qualify to a moral standing concerning abortion? "

      He's entitled to his opinions just as everyone else is. The question is whether he deserves more credibility than your theoretical janitor and he doesn't.

      "Why should a religious janitor or dishwasher be more capable of a moral judgement than an atheist janitor or dishwasher?"

      That's your idea. You answer the question.

  • Hamzah

    If there is a Supreme Divine who created the universe, the galaxies, the planets, and life on this planet, would he not create just one religion for all of us? Not a diverse conflicting beliefs, constantly at war, in His name, against one another? Are philosophers and theologians better informed than the scientists or economists, or historians, to comment on this issue? Aren't we all just speculating? Except, of course, for the few who see visions and hear voices.

    • Western Candian

      You really should study an issue before trying to comment on it. You would look much less the fool.

      • Hamzah

        This is a non sequitur. Do you need me to explain the term to you? Your huffing and puffing suggests that you are more emotional than thoughtful.

        • Mary Sue

          You obviously don't understand. Read the Bible, starting with Genesis, to get an idea of why things are the way they are. Including "other religions being there".

          • Historian

            Yes, Mary Sue. Your name sounds like you are from the Bible Belt. Not surprising. So the bible has all the answers, right? Now, why didn't I think of it! The book that suggests humans have been here a mere six thousand years, and the earth is circa ten thousand years old. Those idiot scientists have come up with reduculous ideas like our species, Homo Sapiens, have been on on this planet between 180,000 and 200,000 years, and the planet is a whopping 4.6 billion years old! Those idiot scientists have wasted their lives with painstaking research in fields like paleontology and cosmology; Einstein and Neils Bohr with their silly ideas of relativity and quantum physics. Leading to what? Trivial things like computers, space travel, life-saving surgery and medicine, and stuff like that. What a bloody waste of time and money! Just read the good Book! Right, Marry Sue? I have learned so much from you that I am closing this portal down. Many thanks.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Those idiot scientists have come up with reduculous ideas like our species, Homo Sapiens, have been on on this planet between 180,000 and 200,000 years, and the planet is a whopping 4.6 billion years old! Those idiot scientists have wasted their lives with painstaking research in fields like paleontology and cosmology; Einstein and Neils Bohr with their silly ideas of relativity and quantum physics."

            Oh please. Are you serious? Don't you know all of evolutionary theory is built on data that that only leads back to the theory? You can't actually prove that the Bible is wrong in anything it says. You're just highly motivated to do so because your subculture has as much invested in Darwin as Muslims have invested in Mohammed. Maybe more.

            I'll admit that the technologies and sciences are real in most senses but when you challenge the entire set of evidence for evolutionary theories it is revealed as a complex mess of circular reasoning. The earth has to be old because we needed a long time to evolve. These layers must represent a bajillion years each.

            That's how it works as an example.

            And by the way, we only can observe the physical world today. We don't know what existed before the earth came to its present form. Even the speed of light may vary according to circumstance we can't replicate and if any big bang occurred (no matter when) that alone would most likely change the physical behaviors of every atomic particle.

            You just don't realize how many assumptions you made that you thought were somehow just as fact-based as say, watching water turn in to steam. Remember that Darwin's theories were developed before Pasteur published the law of bio-genesis. What happened? People just kept pushing to come up with some thing, anything to keep Darwinism alive. That's how it's been since then. It continues today and you have won the culture war. Congratulations on that.

    • reader

      This is a logic of a 5 year old. If a man – a superior creature – created a pencil, why pencils break so often?

      • Hamzah

        Another infantile non sequitur! Oh my God. Why the hell do l bother with them?

        • reader

          You did not bother to answer, yes. But you did bother to throw a fit. What's the word I am looking for? Oh, yes, infantile – that's it. Thank you very much.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Another infantile non sequitur! Oh my God. Why the hell do l bother with them?"

          1) I already answered you very specifically.
          2) It was related because the point is that (even though I gave you a rational answer elsewhere) we can't understand anything that exceeds our capabilities. Therefore your lack of comprehension is not evidence of much at all in the realm of theology.

        • Mary Sue

          Try dealing with the question of the Problem of Evil and then get back to us, kthx.

          • Hamzah

            Dear Mary, I can explain it, but not in this short conversation. I would recommend you Sam Harris' book, 'The Moral Landscape'. Or Dan Dennett's 'Breaking the Spell'. No metaphysical hocus pocus. Just straight modern science.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Dear Mary, I can explain it, but not in this short conversation."

            Are you even sure what she's talking about?

          • Historian

            Of course, l do. In Metaphysics, Evil was the opposite of Good. In Theology, it is going against God's will. In Ethics it is Absolutism vs Relativism. But in the floodlit field of a modern understanding of psychology, psychiatry, and neuro science, it is recognized as being far more complicated in its nature, causes and treatment response. Of course Evil exists, but not because Someone created it, but there are complicated circumstances around it that need to be examined, analyzed, and dealt with accordingly.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Those are some but not all of the avenues of discussion. It will take more than "straight modern science" to handle the topics comprehensively.

            What if we need "apparent evil" as an engine for "evolution?" The question in the end is not fully resolvable unless you acknowledge an objective source for morality or a moral code. That's very difficult to do without knowing what our mission here is on earth. Are we here simply to evolve? If yes, are we to resolve as a unified race or selfishly? Is there some other higher purpose?

            To keep it simple you have to be a pure materialist and then you can argue that IF you are correct about that, all of these questions are resolvable with science because you will say nothing exists beyond that.

          • Mary Sue

            Sam Harris is an idiot.

          • Historian

            A snippy remark when you haven't even read him. You are full of vacuous, snippy remarks.

    • PhillipGaley

      "speculating?"?

      "speculate" is from the latin, "speculare", meaning, "to view from afar, as through a telescope". Yes, we all speculate, often, and to good purpose. The beginning clause: "If there is a Supreme Divine" is a challenge in reasoning which calls not for a conjugation of "speculate", but as true to what follows in meaning, possibly the noun "conjecture", . . . "Hamzah" here, appears to be way short on book-larnin', . . .

      • Hamzah

        Ha ha ha, Philip. Nice digression. I meant, by the word speculating, exactly that, to view a concept in the absence of empirical evidence. By the way, I read Latin in school.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "I read Latin in school."

          Therefore you among all humans ought to be able to understand everything about God if he were to exist. Since you don't, he doesn't.

          That seems to be your logic.

        • Mary Sue

          well whatever you read in Latin you either forgot, or didn't comprehend.

          • Hamzah

            Hi Mary. Or, should l say hail, Mary! yes,I have read the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran, and a few others. They all make extraordinary claims, without the extraordinary evidence required to support them. You are, of course free to believe them. Many, however, are less willing to suspend disbelief. They prefer to go where the empirical evidence takes them. This is how human beings make progress. Observe, measure, test, and test again. In history, this endeavour had been consistently opposed by the church. Scholars are tortured or burnt alive at the state, with the divine sanction of the Church since 1213, its position reiterated by the pope in 1484. Burning witches was big business in Europe and the British Isles, beginning with poor women in the hundreds of thousands of villages, slowly rising up the class ladder. The motive force? The properties of those condemned were shared by the accusers and the judges, most of whom were local priests, and the judges the local bishops. Please don't believe me. Go read the history books. Why did it take the Church five centuries to apologize for what it did to the medieval scientist Galileo? But the Vatican is learning fast. It took the learned priests there only one century to understand and accept Darwin's theory of evolution through random mutation and non-random natural selection. My class of 18-year olds understood it in one morning's lecture.

          • reader

            Cherry picking, and primitive one at that. Many scholars far better equipped than you are have been going over, say, the Old Testament, and wrote volumes of commentaries to it. According to Hamzah, they were all dumb enough to see what he did in one scoop, even though he or she can't muster enough wits to distinguish established religious institutions as political entities from foundational Judeo-Christian values. And, of course, atheist regimes claiming to adhere to pure "reason," "science" and even defined by them exclusive "morality" caused so much mayhem, destruction, death and mystery that an attempt to counterweight this with "scholars burnt at the stake" reeks of juvenile shallowness of a high school slacker.

          • reader

            "they were all dumb enough to see what he did in one scoop"

            missed "not" here, should read, ""they were all dumb enough not to see…"

          • Hamzah

            Hey Reader, let us not call each other names. And don't take my word for it. Go read the history books. You are not a student in my tutorial class, so l feel no obligation to give you a book list.

          • reader

            I suspect that I read more history books worth reading that you ever hope to. And I certainly don't need your tutorial class, sorry. I mean, I'm sorry for the parents subjecting their kids and themselves to your rip-off.

          • Hamzah

            Please don't feel sorry for them. Those who have graduated are doing very well indeed in their businesses and professions. Some rip off, eh?

          • Mary Sue

            which history books? Please don't say by Howard Zinn or I will lose all respect for you.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "I have read the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran, and a few others. They all make extraordinary claims, without the extraordinary evidence required to support them. "

            Let me get this straight. You read the Hebrew prophets, and the Koran, and you think they're each more or less equally compelling in terms of evidence? That means you didn't look for evidence. Or worse.

            "Observe, measure, test, and test again. In history, this endeavour had been consistently opposed by the church."

            Really? When? Which church? Didn't Christ himself oppose science?

            "Scholars are tortured or burnt alive at the state, with the divine sanction of the Church since 1213, its position reiterated by the pope in 1484. Burning witches was big business in Europe and the British Isles, beginning with poor women in the hundreds of thousands of villages, slowly rising up the class ladder. "

            Oh THAT church. And this is evidence of what in your mind?

            "But the Vatican is learning fast."

            So you use history very selectively by finding people who used faith as a pretext to rule abusively and this to you is evidence that there is no validity at all to the subject of this faith? I know that's a popular position but come on, I thought you progressives were all about…progress. Can't you think a little more since these childish critiques were propagated?

          • Mary Sue

            Oh man, you're going this route? Gallileo, really?

            Lemme point you in the right direction, mkay: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/galileo.ht

            Yeah some of them Popes were rat finks. Same with some church leaders who became corrupt because some idiot thought it would be great to read the Bible in a language the common people couldn't understand.

            As for extraordinary claims, go browse these: http://www.youtube.com/user/tektontv

            Natural selection wasn't even Darwin's idea! A person who believed in Biblical Creation, Edward Blythe, invented it!

          • Historian

            Hahahaha.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "If there is a Supreme Divine who created the universe, the galaxies, the planets, and life on this planet, would he not create just one religion for all of us? "

      And would he make it coercive?

      "Not a diverse conflicting beliefs, constantly at war, in His name, against one another? Are philosophers and theologians better informed than the scientists or economists, or historians, to comment on this issue?"

      According to Hebrew prophets, your vision is called Heaven. Earth is where souls are born to create something else that will eventually make Heaven even better than your vision: A place where people choose freely to find, love and worship God without having been pre-destined to do so.

      Some say love can't exist without free will.

      "Aren't we all just speculating? Except, of course, for the few who see visions and hear voices."

      Some of us care about evidence quite a bit. It takes more than just sitting around passing drugs to each other or reading books by the likes of Dawkins.

      • Hamzah

        Dear "Objective". I have never taken illicit drugs in any form in my life. My small, private library has nine books by Richard Dawkins, but hundreds of non-fiction books by scores of other serious authors, classical and modern. I teach and, in the Classical definition of education, I make the 'contact of two minds' with many curious, intelligent young minds. This makes my life fulfilling. Criticize me by all means, if you like, but please keep it conversational, and not ad hominem.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Criticize me by all means, if you like, but please keep it conversational, and not ad hominem."

          Give me an example for your ad hominem accusation. I don't think you understand the accusation you use.

          I'm glad you're fulfilled but the scope of your investigation is probably too limited. That's not an "ad hominem" statement.

          • Hamzah

            Being personal, that's what it means. Okay, thats enough, no more Latin tutorial for you.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Being personal, that's what it means."

            Close enough.

            "Okay, thats enough, no more Latin tutorial for you."

            Because you realize you can't answer my challenge which was not really about Latin translations or paraphrases.

        • Mary Sue

          Oh, you're a teacher?

          That explains everything, you're NDP.

          • Historian

            Dear Mary Sue (if that's your real name), Is being an educator something to be ashamed of? NDP, what is that? I don't need your approval, I am proud of what l do. Not much money, but l am happy with my life's achievements. I hope you can say that of yourself.

    • spartacus !!!!!!!

      if !!!!!! just another fool ! exposing his stupidity ! "HE" did not create any religion , we as foolish humans did ! , man chose to go his own way and so this "cesspool' is what we get ! , don't blame the "CREATOR" when the" created "is the problem !!!!!! , speculating is the best that we fools as human's can come up with ! but for some reason "HE" still loves "HIS" creation and will someday ( soon I pray ) come back and straighten out this mess that "we" created ! , humbling isn't it !!!!!!!

    • warren raymond

      Hamzah must be a Muslim.

      He's spiritual search is over. Everything he needs is in Koran & sunnah.

      • Hamzah

        Hi Warren. That is like someone saying "Warren is a Christian. His spiritual (and temporal) search is over. Everything he needs is in the bible." That would be untrue and unfair. l would not say it. You might similarly appreciate that 1.2 billion Muslims are a huge and very diverse group, with different educational backgrounds (l attended an ancient university in the West) and intellectual leanings.

        • Mary Sue

          they're such a diverse group that they're all trying to kill each other for being "apostates" (except for a few branches that still have their minds intact).

      • Mary Sue

        nah, secular humanist is my diagnosis.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “‘Human’ features relevant to the morality of abortion,” he tweets, “include [the] ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others.”

    What a crackpot.

    • Toni_Pereira

      …so if a grown up don't feel pain, don't mourn he is not human. Thomas Sowell got it right…

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "…so if a grown up don't feel pain, don't mourn he is not human. Thomas Sowell got it right…"

        And if a fetus can feel pain and be mourned, then what does that mean?

        It's unreal the poor logic he uses. He's the dumbest scientist I know. No wonder atheists love him.

  • TruthJew

    After studying the works of the great medieval Jewish rabbi/philosophers like Maimonides and others, its clear to me that these contemporary atheist scientists like Dawkins and Hawking are really mental midgets and Lilliputians compared to the great thinkers of the past. These so-called scientists have been brainwashed by the same false Enlightenment doctrines that are destroying Western civilization. This Universe is fine tuned to an incredible degree to allow for life on Earth. To argue that the Universe could have somehow created itself is absurd, and reflects the intellectual shallowness of these so-called scientists.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Dawkins and Hawking are really mental midgets and Lilliputians compared to the great thinkers of the past."

      You only have to read Dawkins to know that. I've read less of Hawking. I'd expect even less if I did. I call it the "Being There" effect, after the movie. Anything he comes up with seems more profound to numbskulls.

    • Tony

      Absolutely, TruthJew! There is little new under the sun. What the new atheists say was already said by Greek philosophers. It was said by 19th century philosophers. In fact also Ecclesiastes veered towards it, before veering back. Even philosophically, this materialistic philosophy is incomplete, since the human (or even animal) experience, most notably qualia (color vision, smell, taste, etc.) cannot be explained. Sure they take place within a "material brain" but that does not explain them at all.

    • Mike Giles

      "After studying the works of the great medieval Jewish rabbi/philosophers like Maimonides and others, its clear to me that these contemporary atheist scientists like Dawkins and Hawking are really mental midgets and Lilliputians compared to the great thinkers of the past".

      Not really. They're brilliant scientists in their field. Unfortunately, they believe they are equally as brilliant in every other field of endeavor. Intellectuals are odd that way. Most plumbers would never assume they are equally as brilliant electricians. But you constantly see intellectuals who believe their skills in one field are transferable to all other intellectual fields. And you they always make the logical fallacy of arguing from authority. I'm well known and respected in my field, therefore I should receive the same respect in regards to any subject, i choose to speak on.

  • Loyal Achates

    "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul.".

    Thomas Jefferson

    Scientists like Richard Dawkins and Steven Hawking have dedicated their lives to studying the world as it really is – and that's why conservatives, who believe only in symbols and abstractions, hate them (and science in general) so much.

    • TruthJew

      The role of true scientists should ONLY be studying how the world operates in its present form. What caused the Universe to exist, what is its purpose, and what is man's purpose are religious and philosophical issues, not scientific issues. The arrogant scientists like Dawkins are in fact promoting their own faith based religion in their bogus attempts to explain issues like why the Universe exists. The atheist "Multiverse" theory promoted by Hawking and others is in fact a faith based religion as its completely beyond science to detect and analyze the allegedly existing multitudes of Universes.

      • Loyal Achates

        No. All those questions must be based on reality – science, history, economics, etc. or they are simply building castles in the sky. Though I do find it amusing that you use 'religion' as an insult while trying to defend it.

        • TruthJew

          The atheism of Dawkins and his fellow travelers is a form of faith based religion in its attempt to explain our origin, its just not a monotheistic religion.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "No. All those questions must be based on reality – science, history, economics, etc. "

          But then they dismiss historical evidence that doesn't fit their biases. And they think this is AOK because they studied quantum physics.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Though I do find it amusing that you use 'religion' as an insult while trying to defend it."

          Nobody is defending religion per se.

    • JoJoJams

      Hey Loyal, Here's another quote by Jefferson: "He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be;" It's taken from his letter to John Adams, which you can read in its entirety here. Pretty interesting – and shows what Jefferson believed. http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/jefferson_ada

      • Loyal Achates

        My understanding is that he was Deist, which was as close as a respectable person could get to atheism in those days.

        • reader

          Respectable person can't get close to atheism. Marxist can. And did.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "My understanding is that he was Deist, which was as close as a respectable person could get to atheism in those days."

          So he was a phony liar. OK then. If that's your position.

        • Mary Sue

          no, a Deist believes in *a* god, without being completely specific to believing in the Christian God. It's one step up from Agnosticism.

          • Historian

            Marx was no agnostic. He was an atheist. An anti theist. No doubt about it. I wrote, as a undergraduate in 1958, a Term paper on him.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "He was an atheist. An anti theist. No doubt about it."

            It was fundamental to virtually every idea of his we hear about.

          • Historian

            A Deity is a supernatural entity, but a step below the omnipotent, omniscient, Monotheistic God who knows what you do, what you think, keeps an accounts book on your good and bad deeds, answers to your prayers, and grants you, if you believe in Him, a joyous and everlasting life in the Hereafter. Right, Mary Sue?

    • defcon 4

      Conservatives hate science and scientists? That's news to me.

      BTW, I've noticed higher math seems to use a lot of symbols (Pi, infinity, integration symbol, summation notation) and abstractions.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Scientists like Richard Dawkins and Steven Hawking have dedicated their lives to studying the world as it really is – and that's why conservatives, who believe only in symbols and abstractions, hate them (and science in general) so much."

      You can't be more wrong. I love science. I don't conflate as they do. That's why I hate when they say stupid things that abuse science. Scientists that don't understand the limited scope of their work are destroying the reputation of scientists and the body of published works. It's like some of these people think they can find all of the answers because they've become experts within the scope of their training and education. Or they imagine because they know more about A, they must know more than the average person about everything else too. Smart people hate when other people pontificate beyond their expertise.

      Get it?

      • Historian

        Let me get it right. You say that you are smarter than Richard Dawkins, an Oxford professor, and an internationally acclaimed bestselling author of books on evolutionary science.

        Hmm. Ok, I get it.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Let me get it right. You say that you are smarter than Richard Dawkins, an Oxford professor, and an internationally acclaimed bestselling author of books on evolutionary science."

          He certainly says things that I can identify as false. If that's all we have to go by then I guess I am a lot smarter.

          • Historian

            Yes, of course. I understand completely. A hack evangelical cyber trooper is just a disguise. You are really Napoleon Bonaparte. Don't worry. The British redcoats won't get you. Dawkins is British, remember? Your secret is safe with me. I am closing this portal down. For your safety.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "I am closing this portal down. For your safety."

            Try acting your age more frequently.

    • spartacus !!!!!!!

      "CREATION" is an abstraction ? , human reasoning is the stupidity of well reasoned fools ! , " creation is the emperical evidence of the "CREATOR " , mr. dawkins and mr. hawking and for that matter all humans are but blips on the map of the universe but "GOD" the "CREATOR" found it to be so important to recreate "HIMSELF" thru us that no amount of "stupidity " on our part will subvert "HIS" surpreme plan of giving "HIS" created the keys to the universe one day ! , and what a day that will be !

  • Toni_Pereira

    Dawkins and his ilk are nothing more than smugish misanthropes, one don't have to be a staunch theist to realize that. However, to be fair to him, if i were to choose between people like him being born and a piece of ham, i would go for the latter.

  • antisharia

    Dawkins is a nazi pig, it's revolting that he has so many legions of loyal fans.

  • popseal

    The driving force behind any atheist's anger about religion is certainly not academic excellence. Fear of appearing before the God they spend so much time denying motivates the Dawkins of the world. Otherwise, they'd simply ignore us who are so silly to believe in Him Who loves mankind. "Eernity is written deeply in every heart by our Creator".

    • An Average Joe

      While I understand that you are merely saying what you believe to be true, I doubt you really understand why some atheists are angry. Rather than having that anger come from a desire to deny what you seem to believe is an obvious reality, I speculate that many "angry atheists" are angry about what they see as very real damage religions, including Christianity, have inflicted upon the world. This includes, but is not limited to; denial of equal rights to gays and others, the killing of homosexuals in Uganda, the terror instilled in children and adults through the concept of hell, the scripture-based railing against science (especially evolution), the delay in scientific progress caused by the dark ages, etc. At least, that's what angers me.
      Rather than giving the standard church answer for why some atheists are angry, why don't you ask them?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "While I understand that you are merely saying what you believe to be true, I doubt you really understand why some atheists are angry. Rather than having that anger come from a desire to deny what you seem to believe is an obvious reality, I speculate that many "angry atheists" are angry about what they see as very real damage religions, including Christianity, have inflicted upon the world. "

        Because you believe what you just wrote. What "damage" has Christianity inflicted on the world? What made the West so much more advanced than other civilizations? Where do your freedoms come from that you enjoy today? The true answers would apparently shock you.

        It's very easy for tyrants to rule over people. It's not very easy to organize the masses to run a benign government. It takes a coherent philosophy to do that. The Hebrew prophets wrote the ideas that led to the freedoms you enjoy today and you insult them every time you discuss it due to your ignorance.

        "This includes, but is not limited to; denial of equal rights to gays and others, the killing of homosexuals in Uganda, the terror instilled in children and adults through the concept of hell, the scripture-based railing against science (especially evolution), the delay in scientific progress caused by the dark ages, etc. At least, that's what angers me."

        You've been indoctrinated with lies. In 2000 years of history since Christ you have to cull the worst behavior from exceptionally abusive people who used the dominant ideas of the day to achieve personal power. The question is whether they were doing this because of the ideology, or were those ideas twisted in to pretext?

        Why don't you blame the Latin language for every problem that occurred since that time? You'd be able to make a stronger case. Every problem in the West can be traced back to use of Latin.

        Creating propaganda is so easy. Waking up to reject it takes work when you've been indoctrinated. I wish you the best.

        • An Average Joe

          "What made the West so much more advanced than other civilizations? Where do your freedoms come from that you enjoy today?"
          "The Hebrew prophets wrote the ideas that led to the freedoms you enjoy today and you insult them every time you discuss it due to your ignorance. "
          I take it you think Christianity and Judaism is responsible for this, eh? I don't. Have they had some influence on Western culture? Sure, definitely. Is it possible that Christians lead the charge alone to create a nation where people could believe what they want? Sure, but I don't think that's the case. if you think it is, please provide some evidence rather than emotionally manipulative garbage about "insulting the prophets."

          "You've been indoctrinated with lies. In 2000 years of history since Christ you have to cull the worst behavior from exceptionally abusive people who used the dominant ideas of the day to achieve personal power. The question is whether they were doing this because of the ideology, or were those ideas twisted in to pretext? "
          First off, what lies have I supposedly been "indoctrinated with?"
          As for the question you asked, it is an excellent question. I wish people would ask a similar one: Did people who didn't believe in a god kill because of that non-belief, or was something else driving their crimes? I am well aware that many people, regardless of belief or non-belief in a god, follow moral systems that do not require a belief in a god. This leads me to believe that the claim that the idea that belief in a god is necessary for one to be moral is false. Furthermore, I am well aware that there are and have been many kind, good people who are/were Christians over the past 2,000 years. Still, this does not nullify the fact that people cause harm out of religious motivations, such as the religiously motivated discrimination against gays.

          "Why don't you blame the Latin language for every problem that occurred since that time? You'd be able to make a stronger case. Every problem in the West can be traced back to use of Latin. "
          You think I'm simply laying all the blame at the feet of religions? Hah! For one who calls me indoctrinated and implies that I simply spread propaganda, you certainly don't seem to be much of a thinker yourself.
          No, I don't blame everything on religion, nor do I think everything should be blamed on religion. Rather, I note that some religions motivate otherwise good, fair people to do things that harm others. From this I derive the conclusion that at least some parts of religion are bad and we would be better off without them.

          "Creating propaganda is so easy. Waking up to reject it takes work when you've been indoctrinated. I wish you the best."
          I could say the same to you. Anyhow, have a good one.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Sure, definitely. Is it possible that Christians lead the charge alone to create a nation where people could believe what they want? Sure…"

            Great. You admit that much.

            "but I don't think that's the case"

            Because?

            "if you think it is, please provide some evidence"

            Start with the reformation and enough background about the Roman Catholic Church. Then study history in England, the UK and the USA at least through say, the end of the 18th century.

            "rather than emotionally manipulative garbage about "insulting the prophets."

            How is that emotionally manipulative? I'm not calling you a blasphemer. Fear of Islam really has distorted how people hear things. If you insult those who first wrote about the ideas of liberty for each human, and those authors are prophets, it's just convenient to write my opinion that way.

            "You think I'm simply laying all the blame at the feet of religions? Hah! For one who calls me indoctrinated and implies that I simply spread propaganda, you certainly don't seem to be much of a thinker yourself."

            "No, I don't blame everything on religion, nor do I think everything should be blamed on religion. Rather, I note that some religions motivate otherwise good, fair people to do things that harm others."

            Your're just really foggy on the details. The details that matter are not clear enough to make distinctions.

            "From this I derive the conclusion that at least some parts of religion are bad…"

            I don't know anyone that would disagree with that statement but it's not what you said above.
            I'm only responding to what you wrote.

            "…and we would be better off without them."

            Some religions lead to bad behavior therefore we are better off without any. That's quite a leap especially once you read enough salient history.

            "I could say the same to you."

            Yes you could. You can say it to anyone. But when eventually we get around to examining the salient historical facts, I think my arguments will win.

            "Anyhow, have a good one."

            And you as well.

      • Western Spirit

        Dear Average homosexual Joe your rant is obviously connected to desires that run counter to Biblical teaching so don't paint all atheists with your tainted brush.

        Most atheists are angry because they feel threatened in some way. Homosexuality is only one of the many reasons they feel threatened.

        We're told that God has put eternity into the heart of man and this is at the heart of the threat felt by atheists. Deny Him and the threat goes away—or does it ?

        • An Average Joe

          "Dear Average homosexual Joe your rant is obviously connected to desires that run counter to Biblical teaching so don't paint all atheists with your tainted brush. "

          So, because my rant runs counter to biblical teaching, it is therefore wrong? Is it not at least possible that the "biblical teaching" is wrong? I am being honest here, explaining why I feel angry and trying to communicate that just because the bible/your pastor/the church/etc. says something is true about a group of people (or any subject for that matter) doesn't make it true. If the foundational assumptions in which you are basing your criticism of my arguments are wrong, then your criticisms are built upon shaky grounds. Also, I'm actually straight, but thanks for showing the depth of your character with your factually incorrect attack on my character which ignores any points I might have made. Might I suggest you look up what the "Ad Hominem Fallacy" is?

          "Most atheists are angry because they feel threatened in some way. Homosexuality is only one of the many reasons they feel threatened. "
          On what do you base this claim of knowledge? Furthermore, how do you believe atheists are "threatened" by homosexuality? I remain skeptical of the truth value of this claim.
          If you, or anyone reading this, is truly interested in why at least one atheist is angry, feel free to read this article by atheist blogger Greta Christina: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christina

          "We're told that God has put eternity into the heart of man and this is at the heart of the threat felt by atheists. Deny Him and the threat goes away—or does it ?"
          If this claim is true, then no amount of denying it makes it untrue. Conversely, if it is false, no amount of belief will make it false. My question to you is: why should I believe that it is true, especially when I can examine my own feelings and find that I neither feel threatened by the possibility of eternity or a god, nor am I angry because of such a threat, but because of other reasons I have already stated? In short, why should I believe your claim, when my own experience tells me that the claim is false?

  • Paul Von G.

    We are all people of Faith.

  • Loyal Achates

    I'm telling you, the Earth revolves around the Sun!

    • defcon 4

      Prove it.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "I'm telling you, the Earth revolves around the Sun!"

      And?

  • James Boag

    Right and theologians and the mighty Christian right wing are qualified to make generalized statements on morality along with cosmology by what basis exactly–honk if you love Jesus–lol!!

    • Toni_Pereira

      By the same basis that grown-up losers who live in their mother's house and have a homosexual fettish for some british smug…

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    What if religion never did exist would there be an everlasting peace? to take its place?
    ( I wonder how many tumb downs this gets ).

    • guest

      you mean like the peaceful countries that ban all religion like russia, and china, and north korea, no, wait, those non-religious countries committed mass genocide to "pacify" their countries.

    • Mary Sue

      nope, humans would just find something else to fight over.

    • Kevin Stroup

      What if frogs had wings? Then they would not bump their posteriors when they landed after a jump. But that is not the world we live in, now is it?

  • Viktor Suvorov

    Dawkins is a joke and a philosophical charlatan. Using his "reason" and "science", Dawkins would rather eat an aborted fetus for dinner than a pig. This is the logical consequence of hist godhating rant that “any fetus is less human than an adult pig.”

    Thus, unless Dawkins and his atheist drones promotes cannibalism, they should argue that aborted fetus should be sold as meat in supermarkets.

    This is why atheists have killed, tortured and raped more than anyone else in the recorded history of mankind. More than 100 million innocent people within less than 100 years.

    Their godhating morality based on "reason and science" is evil to the core. God save us from these fools.

  • TruthJew

    In the 12th century , our greatest rabbi/philosopher, the Rambam (Maimonides), taught that all the matter of the Universe was created simultaneously by God, but was gradually differentiated during the six periods of time (Guide of the Perplexed, II:30). The Rambam also taught that science cannot make inferences about the initial stages of the Universe before it reached stability, by observing its present state.

    "No inference can be drawn in any respect from the nature of a thing after it has been generated…Nor can an inference be drawn from the state of the thing when it moves toward being generated to its state before it begins to move thus….after it (the Universe) has achieved stability and perfection, does not resemble in anything the state it was in while in the state of being generated, and it was brought into existence from absolute nonexistence…we maintain that God has brought it into existence from nothing." (Guide of the Perplexed, II:17)

    • The Hammer

      Belief systems are personal. The source of your post is no more reliable for understanding the universe than Dawkins, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Your religious views are your religious views. Maimonides was a smart guy, but he lived in a time of almost total ignorance of the natural world. It is very easy to just see his writings as no more than a personal philosophy, in competition with many others.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "…or the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

        Wrong. There is no FSM. Don't be so ridiculous if you want to be taken seriously.

        "Maimonides was a smart guy, but he lived in a time of almost total ignorance of the natural world."

        He was subhuman so you therefore don't have to refute what he said? You'd have to be a hypocrite to talk about empirical evidence being everything but then say you can prove something happened before but can't actually show it with empirical evidence today. See the conflict now?

        "It is very easy to just see his writings as no more than a personal philosophy, in competition with many others."

        That's actually the point of the article. We're critical of those who elevate his ramblings as more significant than they are.

        • Historian

          I agree, Maimonides was a landmark philosopher. Let us go a bit further back, to the Ancient Greek colony of Miletus in 7th century BC, just off modern Anatolia. A man by the name of Thales lived and taught there, predating Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, etc. as the father of rational thought, of modern science. In an age of ignorance, fear (of earthquakes, storms, disease, etc.) and widespread superstition, he taught, "For every natural event, there is a natural explanation." One of the most powerful sentences in the history of human thought and knowledge.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "…he taught, "For every natural event, there is a natural explanation." One of the most powerful sentences in the history of human thought and knowledge."

            I agree with him.

          • jem

            It would also be correct to say "For every supernatural event, the is a supernatual explanation." Would it not?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "It would also be correct to say "For every supernatural event, the is a supernatual explanation." Would it not?"

            That is logically correct.

    • winston

      And 'god' came from from where how ?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "And 'god' came from from where how ?"

        Where did time come from?

        • Historian

          The theory is that time, and space, starts from the Bag Bang. Science does not have all the answers. With humility we admit that, and say that we are working on it. People of faith has that certainty, the certitude, they already have all the answers – God. God made everything. This is a lazy man's answer. The scientist slogs until he gets the real answers. That has been the most of the stoory of history of knowledge, right?

          • reader

            I suppose, the renown physicist – such as Dr. Gerald Schroeder is your lazy man. Speaking about how Big Bang theory actually damaged the atheists here:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sicqKbFhcq8

          • Historian

            Schroeder seems to be a Reconcilist, struggling desperately, and not very lucidly, to bridge NOMA. Lots of them at the fringe, egged on by funds and fundamentalists. Some even use, a bit pathetically, their academic credentials and reputable schools (in this case MIT) to lend weight to their arguments. Science does not recognize 'authority' – only evidence and logic.

          • reader

            You seem to be a flip-flopper. In none of your posts do you present any evidence or logic – it's all about "authority." You don't see any logic in Schroeder's presentation for a simple reason: you are a drone. You're suck. Logic means nothing to you, actually. Some "science".

          • reader

            I meant "stuck", not "suck".

          • Historian

            Schroeder is floundering trying to bridge NOMA. He showed no logic. He tried to MIT cloak of authority bit. Failed miserably. Whose fault is it?
            It is sad that you are reduced to calling me me names, "a drone".

          • reader

            Your entire body of work here is name calling, deflecting, projecting and whining. No substance whatsoever. Note for Dawkins: when you get charged with domestic violence, don't hire historian to represent you in court.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "The theory is that time, and space, starts from the Bag Bang. "

            Right. OK…so time began then, but what came before that? Physical changes caused "the beginning of time?" What about all of the time needed for that energy to coalesce in preparation for driving that big bang? Or did that appear literally from nowhere?

            As I understand most renditions of the big bang, it was energy (comparable to what we now call "black holes") and then something happened to lead us forward. Many questions remain (to fill so many holes) but now you say this was also the beginning of time for all eternity?

            I think not. It was the beginning of time from that point. Where did eternity come from?

          • Historian

            A good question, 'Objective'. What is north of north pole? Physicists the world over are working on it, testing models and theories. We are at that point in the early medieval age when men thought that if we sail very far beyond the horizon, we would be swallowed up in a massive primordial storm, or fall over the edge into an endless void. So we have to be patient and let the physicists and cosmologists come up with a plausible explanation. It is way beyond my area of expertise. But to posit God as the answer is not the answer. Cheers

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "But to posit God as the answer is not the answer."

            The point is that we don't necessarily have to answer where God came from. If eternity is…eternal, certainly God can also be. It's not definitive proof of anything but it shuts down the silly challenge of "where did God come from?"

            Context is everything. The north pole of this planet is dynamic. It's position changes constantly so you need to set context for that question too. There's plenty north of any given pole. Space is apparently eternal too.

          • Historian

            "…where does God come from?" Why create a problem when there is none? Ockham's razor, my dear friend, Ockham's razor.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "…where does God come from?" Why create a problem when there is none? "

            I didn't ask the question in the first place. I agree there is no problem.

            "Ockham's razor, my dear friend, Ockham's razor."

            Now you're back to creation vs. the overly complex and ridiculously thin theories built on Darwin's ideas. They're quite clever and the best choice if you insist that the Bible is not possibly correct.

            The simplest answer is that the Bible is accurate.

          • Historian

            Darwin offers the most simple, complete, convincing and parsimonious answer. It starts with the simplest and very, very gradually develops into the most complex. Go to any decent university (except the laughable Liberty University in the USA) and speak to any biologist. You have your answer.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Darwin offers the most simple, complete, convincing and parsimonious answer. It starts with the simplest and very, very gradually develops into the most complex."

            I have to be very flexible with subjectivity here to not laugh. The simplest explanation is that it all just existed this way for eternity and there are no other real questions. Darwin's theory is only simple to people who grew up hearing no other explanations.

            I didn't hear any alternative explanations for most of my life. It's simple in a sense before you start to identify all of the problems the simple view doesn't address. For example, the law of bio-genesis suggests or even proves that the "simple view" of Darwin is a failure.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Go to any decent university (except the laughable Liberty University in the USA) and speak to any biologist. You have your answer."

            I have the scientific answers and understand the positions at least as well as many and maybe even most Darwin faith believers.Calling Darwinism simple is just delusional. If you use the simple view, it fails. In order to believe, you have to construct a complex set of evidence so vast that people often then fail to identity the fact that it's still circular reasoning.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            " We are at that point in the early medieval age when men thought that if we sail very far beyond the horizon, we would be swallowed up in a massive primordial storm, or fall over the edge into an endless void. "

            It wasn't science per se that cleared up these matters. It was technology and exploration. There are also indications that earlier civilizations knew more about earth's topology than we give them credit for. But really that's not salient to our discussion.

            Time is eternal. It seems like space must be too. There is no physical way to challenge either statement. The only time people think they can answer that is when they confuse the distinctions between the limit of the speed of electrons (or measuring time) with time passage. The theory being that if we can manipulate the speed of light we can manipulate time passage. What BS. Unwinding a clock is not unwinding time.

            Interesting, but drifting from the point.

          • Historian

            Science begets technology and exploration…

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Science begets technology and exploration…"

            That's what the scientists say when looking for funding. It's not always false.

            What science was required for the advances you referred to? We may build science later to explain certain devices but those devices and inventions did not come from research but from unscientific trial and error. At a certain point the scientists certainly added value to our search in the West for better technologies, no question about that but by no means were the ancients dependent on science in order to explore and create advanced transportation and war technologies not to mention architecture.

            Don't exaggerate. That's the bottom line request from the article. We love science. We hate bullies.

          • Historian

            "We love science. We hate bullies." I buy that!

          • Historian

            It is no exaggeration. Columbus' ships were based on science in its design – Archimedes Principle, water displacement, the compass and navigational principles, etc. all are based on basic science, used in technology. Technology consumes scientific discoveries. Without fresh discoveries and insights, technology will dry up and remain static. This is a fact acknowledged by most economic planners. I was one in my younger days.

          • Historian

            If you read books on the building of medieval cathedrals, say Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth", you will note how many times the roofs collapsed, with tragic results. Architects and builders had to bring in 'calculators' to measure the stress and strains in the structure. The science of materials and design developed as an essential 'father' to the builders. Never underestimate the pivotal role of science in nourishing technology. I say this as a fact l learned from experience. I don't need any budget appropriation from you.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "The science of materials and design developed as an essential 'father' to the builders."

            Only if you use a very loose definition of science. I thought you were talking about the modern scientific method.

            "Never underestimate the pivotal role of science in nourishing technology."

            I'm sure that I don't. That's a recent development though. Most advances in technology are driven by discovery, trial and error and genius intuition. I never under-estimate the technology gains that we derived from the Manhattan Project and all the subsequent research in quantum mechanics. It's amazing and one can say easily that none of that would have happened without science. But science was and is the tool-set, not the sole driving factor.

            "I say this as a fact l learned from experience."

            I don't know how old you are, but we were jumping around discussing various periods of history, Nobody has enough experience alone to answer the questions we've raised here.

            "I don't need any budget appropriation from you."

            I don't think it's about you.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "If you read books on the building of medieval cathedrals, say Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth", you will note how many times the roofs collapsed, with tragic results. Architects and builders had to bring in 'calculators' to measure the stress and strains in the structure."

            Calculators of that period came from invention, not scientific research. Electronic calculators were derived from research in uses or advanced applications for circuits of the light bulb. You can count modern electronic calculators if you want.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "…Architects and builders had to bring in 'calculators' to measure the stress and strains in the structure."

            Addendum: Not only were calculators the result of invention, trial and error but so was the data they were calculating. They didn't use finite element analysis to calculate building loads. They used trial and error to judge what certain materials could do. Their calculations were about doing things consistently. Trial, error and measurement I guess could be considered a crude form of science if that's the direction you want to take it. Just remember you're trying to discredit the ancient's ability to judge what was happening in the world. So if you make them all in to "scientists" you're creating problems for yourself in other arguments you've made.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "It is no exaggeration. Columbus' ships were based on science in its design – Archimedes Principle, water displacement, the compass and navigational principles, etc. all are based on basic science, used in technology."

            If you want to use that argument we can stretch the definition of science, but then you won't be happy if I apply that definition consistently. So I hear what you're saying but you're not being consistent.

            "Technology consumes scientific discoveries…"

            What does that mean? Scientific discoveries drive a lot of technology. That's for sure. But as a historian you should know just how few genuine discoveries have resulted in the vast technologies we see today. It's not really like we have a steady production of new ideas from scientists. The scientists generally validate discoveries made accidentally. Only massive military projects and some medical projects really meet the vision you present.

            I love science and once held views closer to those you profess, but I have a lot more respect for genius, trial and error and the intuition of brave men as I continue to learn more from historical records. Not only that but as Western governments get bigger and more politicized they are corrupting a lot of the scientific research. The fact that the scientists are losing political battles made me question the reverence I once held. I'm more realistic now about how scientists actually interact with the real world. I love science but I don't worship scientists or their production. I need to authenticate things for myself before I believe anyone, especially if there is any reason for controversy.

          • jem

            Science does not have all the answers, but with great humility they are quite certain there is no creator God. At the root of things they do not poses greater logic than the rest of us mortals and they really are not of any greater humility.

  • tagalog

    An adult Dawkins is less human than a fetal pig.

  • wsk

    He reminds me of the most annoying type person- the ponticus philosophicus alchoholis: aka the Philosohical drunk.

  • http://twitter.com/ScottWallaceMD @ScottWallaceMD

    This essay, and the ensuing comments have been edifying. As a scientist (not a member of the Academy with which our Mr. Jack is so enamored) with at least as much education as Dawkins, I have long been amused by Dawkins' petulant attempts at philosophy. He dismisses any religious doctrine as silly and irrational statements of faith, but, when faced with the holes in secular science (e.g., if the "Big Bang" was not spontaneous combustion–an anti-scientific concept–then where did the energy come from in what was essentially "nothingness"?) he calmly states that future research will reveal the answer. His writings are replete with such ironies and hypocrisies. Further, Dawkins is not secure in his own arguments enough to let them stand on their merits. No, he must belittle those who think and believe otherwise as "deluded." I learned long ago that when an individual brings ad hominem into the debate, that individual has lost that debate.

    • TruthJew

      Dr. Wallace, I'm curious if the Big Bang scientists have ever explained this question – Would it not require infinite energy for the Big Bang singularity or any other singularity to expand? IE the expansion of the Big Bang singularity would by definition have to be a supernatural event not explainable by any known laws of physics?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "I'm curious if the Big Bang scientists have ever explained this question – Would it not require infinite energy for the Big Bang singularity or any other singularity to expand?"

        In theory all of this can be explained by inertia and the laws of thermodynamics. But the miracle quality comes in to play when you look at the odds of undirected energy somehow following this path. The odds might as well be infinite against the possibility.

      • Historian

        Read the Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg's landmark book, The First Three Minutes. The physicist you what happens at the time of the Big Bang and the moments that follow. Fascinating.

        • tagalog

          Personally, I'd like to know more about that point about 380,000 years after the Big Bang that the cosmologists talk about; how did the heavier elements form? And what's with inflation? How could it be faster than light?

      • Historian

        Read the Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg's landmark book, The First Three Minutes. The physicist you what happens at the time of the Big Bang and the moments that follow. Fascinating.

      • Historian

        Read the Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg's landmark book, The First Three Minutes. The physicist you what happens at the time of the Big Bang and the moments that follow. Fascinating.

    • defcon 4

      Bravo!

    • F. Swemson

      Claiming that not all scientific questions have been answered (yet) or that not all of the answers already offered are certain fact, isn't justification for the total suspension of reason & logic & the adoption of alternative perspectives based on ideas for which no empirical evidence exists.

      As to your claim that Dawkins engages in ad hominem attacks against his intellectual opponents, I suggest that you examine all of the comments on this piece, and tell me which side of the debate makes more use of ad hominem attacks and hatred for anyone who thinks differently than they do. The insults leveled at Dawkins here quite frankly are pretty pathetic, and prove once again that when it comes to tolerance for the ideas of others, religious people are rather deficient.

      fs

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "As to your claim that Dawkins engages in ad hominem attacks against his intellectual opponents, I suggest that you examine all of the comments on this piece, and tell me which side of the debate makes more use of ad hominem attacks and hatred for anyone who thinks differently than they do. The insults leveled at Dawkins here quite frankly are pretty pathetic, and prove once again that when it comes to tolerance for the ideas of others, religious people are rather deficient."

        Based on your feelings.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "…he calmly states that future research will reveal the answer. His writings are replete with such ironies and hypocrisies."

      Thank you.

    • Historian

      Read Lawrence Krauss' book, A Universe from Nothing, doc. I did. It made me think a bit more about the cosmos.

  • tagalog

    Talking about the gap between science and philosophy, have you noticed the tendency of the MSM to refer to the Higgs boson as the "God Particle," as if the existence of the Higgs boson, which (theoretically) made it possible for the various atoms of the elements to form after the Big Bang, is somehow a refutation of the existence of God?

    If there's a Higgs boson that does what theorists say it does (and it appears that there might be), there's no reason not to believe that God created the laws of the universe in such a way as to allow for the Higgs boson to come into existence. Some scientists seem to have sizeable difficulty making a distinction between science (which, I might add, came into existence in the West for the purpose of allowing us to understand our world so that we could live virtuous lives) and philosophy, which is more directly concerned with virtue itself.

    Scientists have a very clear view of the trees, but they tend to guess about the forest just like all of the rest of us.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Talking about the gap between science and philosophy, have you noticed the tendency of the MSM to refer to the Higgs boson as the "God Particle," as if the existence of the Higgs boson, which (theoretically) made it possible for the various atoms of the elements to form after the Big Bang, is somehow a refutation of the existence of God?"

      It's a matter of POV again. If you run in to a car, you will believe someone put it there but an atheist will believe it's proof there is no need for car manufacturers.

    • Mary Sue

      it's actually "That god d*mned particle" and censoring by the media turned it into the "God Particle" XD

  • http://twitter.com/DanAllosso @DanAllosso

    Clever, but not clever enough. The author uses irony (Amateur Philosopher Syndrome) appropriately, and suggests that Dawkins may be stepping a bit beyond his sphere of authority. But then the argument goes off the rails in paragraph 11, when he tries to sneak in the "nonoverlapping magisteria" argument.

    Dawkins's point in much of what he does, is that there ARE NO independent magisteria, where scientists can live in their world of physicality and leave the moral theorizing to philosophers, mystics, and religious leaders. Simply saying that Dawkins is obnoxious and wrong some of the time DOES NOT prove the opposite.

    • tagalog

      I doubt that any knowledgeable Western philosopher would say that there are independent magisteria, especially given that science has evolved from natural philosophy, a branch of philosophy whose role is to give us a method by which we might know our world, so that our knowledge of the world could be employed in developing the Good Life.

      Many scientists probably are quite strong on the distinction between science and philosophy except where they can conflate knowledge of the material world with knowledge of the spiritual world, though, I don't doubt that.

    • kevinh

      "…in theory science has no bearing on religion…" I think the author has left himself a door with "theory" there, but your point is quite valid. Obviously the two areas of study, religion and science, have disturbed each other from time to time in the past, and the outcome of that struggle can be beneficial. However, science won't prove the existance of G-d anymore than religion could validate the assertion that all "life" is inanimate matter simply arranged a cerain way, for a very very brief moment in time.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Simply saying that Dawkins is obnoxious and wrong some of the time DOES NOT prove the opposite."

      That's not the point of the article. The point is he should be viewed as someone trying to bootstrap his fame or credibility as a scientist beyond the scope of his expertise when he should be speaking merely as just another amateur.

      • http://twitter.com/DanAllosso @DanAllosso

        Actually, I think that is the point of the article. You take something everyone can sympathize with, if not agree on (that Dr. Dawkins sometimes goes a bit too far), and then in the final half dozen paragraphs, argue that this proves he doesn't understand a putative "larger" world of theology and morality. You say, "because Dawkins is overstepping his expertise, that means the expertise of others (theologians in particular) is somehow REAL. That's the trick, and based on many of the comments, the author pulled it off.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "You say, "because Dawkins is overstepping his expertise, that means the expertise of others (theologians in particular) is somehow REAL."

          Why can't people quote accurately? Is this some kind of disease?

          "You take something everyone can sympathize with, if not agree on (that Dr. Dawkins sometimes goes a bit too far)"

          With examples.

          "…and then in the final half dozen paragraphs, argue that this proves he doesn't understand a putative "larger" world of theology and morality."

          You have to read the whole article: "And his handling of the abortion issue shows this in spades."

          "You say, "because Dawkins is overstepping his expertise, that means the expertise of others (theologians in particular) is somehow REAL. That's the trick, and based on many of the comments, the author pulled it off."

          Learn to quote correctly and then if you're confused at least I won't have to assume you're also a liar.

          • http://twitter.com/DanAllosso @DanAllosso

            Step back, dude. I wasn't quoting the article at all. I was giving an example. Missed the close quotes and couldn't go back and edit.

            And, I didn't mean YOU particularly. I meant "people say." (Again, not quoting. Giving an example).

            Confused? A liar? What, because I disagreed with you? Lighten up.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Step back, dude. I wasn't quoting the article at all. I was giving an example. Missed the close quotes and couldn't go back and edit. "

            So you still paraphrased me incorrectly, whether or not you tried to pass it off as a direct quote.

            "And, I didn't mean YOU particularly. I meant "people say." (Again, not quoting. Giving an example)."

            OK. You meant to write something else.

            "Confused?"

            If that's your paraphrase for what you think I said, I think confusion is a good description.

            "A liar?"

            If you're using that statement to represent something I said (note your use of "you") then you are either confused or a liar.

            A liar? What, because I disagreed with you? Lighten up.

            "What, because I disagreed with you?"

            Because of what I explained.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Lighten up."

            That;s your roundabout way of saying you'll try to quote and write more accurately in accordance with what you intend to say?

  • http://twitter.com/SallyJMorem @SallyJMorem

    Actually, Dawkins got this example of the adult pig being "more human" than a human fetus from his good friend, professional philosopher Peter Singer. i don't believe being an amateur is Dawkins' problem. I believe he has the same problem many experts have, assuming they KNOW what they can't possibly know. I don't believe there are ANY experts worth reading on metaphysical subjects, experts including scientists, philosophers, or theologians.

    • Deanr

      Father Rutler says: The rabbis talking with the twelve-year-old Jesus about the Torah must have thought that he was a child prodigy. There have been such, and as a proud pastor I delight in the extraordinary skills of so many of the children in our parish, so adept at piano and violin and so forth. “Prodigy” means a sign or a gift. Betraying a prejudice, I’d propose that in addition to the five ways St. Thomas Aquinas proved the existence of God from natural evidence, prodigious Mozart would be a sixth. You cannot compose a symphony at the age of eight and ascribe it just to chemistry or biology.

      • http://twitter.com/SallyJMorem @SallyJMorem

        You could attribute Mozart's genius to three things: 1. Biology, an extraordinarily densely interconnected physical brain. 2. Nurture, he had parents who were intensely interested in fostering his musical ability. 3. Personal desire, by all accounts, he lived and breathed music. So he consciously sopped up all the music and learning about music he could. Combined, these factors led to extraordinary musical creativity.

        There have been a number of child prodigies and I'd explain them all in this manner. Here's another example of one who is still with us: Ray Kurzweil: He knew he would be an inventor when he was very very young. He invented a computer program that would create music. When 15 years old, he demonstrated his computer's invention by playing it on national TV on one of those old panel game shows. I believe it was I've Got a Secret.

        • Deanr

          So science advances with truth in proof, so does morality advance. Can you agree that the human condition has advanced to a point where we can say the dignity of man can come up for a breath of air from the sea of oppression now and again and maybe even tread water a little. When Jesus spoke of a return of his being at a time we would call a future date he was presupposing a science yet to be defined. But he was defiantly speaking of a morality that was far superior to the moralities of his day
          for us to practice, and over a span of two thousand years he and many peoples after him have been murdered for speaking of a compassion and a justice which treats life of humans and the intelligent animals with a dignity, his dignity. Science has advanced to a point where Mr. Dawkins is allowed to play because he knows the rules, but superior intellect advancing the human condition through proof can be very ugly. The great minds of science knew and know that God exists before they could explain the discoveries that entered their minds. Does science prove that that we can be callous and ugly, like Mr. Dawkins? Love is the proof that God gives us as proof of existence. But the exact opposite that we can cultivate, the rejection of love as proof, we can enter hand in bloody hand with Mr. Dawkins into a new dark ages of murder and a rejection of the dignity of the human experience. God is Love, you see, Mr. Dawkins should prove that for you.

  • Stan

    "Dawkins’ is a textbook case of Amateur Philosopher Syndrome (APS)—the delusion that because one is an expert on the physical, one is an expert on the metaphysical—the stuff that scientists have traditionally left to the philosophers and theologians to study."

    This is crap. The idea that philosophy is a "job," like nursing or accounting, practiced by trained specialists, is a sad symptom of the times. The spirit of philosophy is inherently inimical to specialism, and science and philosophy were not separated before the 20th century. By the way, "amateur" means lover, and "philosopher" means a lover of knowledge. So "amateur philosopher"is redundant.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "So "amateur philosopher"is redundant."

      In a literal sense you're right but in Western civilization we do have professional philosophers and Dawkins seems to pose as one.

      • Stan

        The concept of a "professional philosopher" antithetical to civilization as such. Anyone who thinks of philosophy as a "job" that requires "certification," which one must obtain by passing through specialized "training" at some university, is little better than an ape.

        • Stan

          IS antithetical

  • The Hammer

    All of this is nothing more than squabbling about what is and what isn't. I admire Dawkins because he has taken a difficult public position in promoting science and refuting the volumes of nonsense that is Religion (capital 'R" intended). I agree that he gets far afield sometimes as regards his atheism, but we are all surrounded by, or actually drowning in, religious culture – it is all around us, in buildings, writings, references to God, holidays and on and on. I am amazed by the vehement and churlish attacks on atheists – an atheist has to take a strong position to get over the roar of Religion. It takes a lot of courage to take an unpopular public position. What an overreaction to his tweet about abortion. Nature ('God") is incredibly harsh – low and high order organisms suffer and die in the millions daily – why are we so special? I imagine a fully developed pig is more complex and sentient than a human fetus.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "All of this is nothing more than squabbling about what is and what isn't. I admire Dawkins because he has taken a difficult public position in promoting science and refuting the volumes of nonsense that is Religion (capital 'R" intended). I agree that he gets far afield sometimes as regards his atheism, but we are all surrounded by, or actually drowning in, religious culture – it is all around us, in buildings, writings, references to God, holidays and on and on. I am amazed by the vehement and churlish attacks on atheists "

      As soon as you admit that you too are acting on faith, the tension will go down.

      "…an atheist has to take a strong position to get over the roar of Religion."

      Poor you. Where do you live? It might feel true for you but generally the opposite is true.

      "It takes a lot of courage to take an unpopular public position."

      The theists are not ganging up on you. Trust me.

      "I imagine a fully developed pig is more complex and sentient than a human fetus."

      So humanity is purely about sentience now? Wow. Nice try. You're not at all driven by emotions are you? Not to mention the fact that there is no evidence of this sentience position.

      But hey, keep up your religious beliefs. It's your right to do so.

      • Historian

        Ok, keep you myths to yourself. But don't have your organized religions enjoy special tax exempt status and be "offended" when criticized. Tell me, what is the difference between a religion and a cult?

    • Mary Sue

      Pigs can't be sheepdogs!

  • http://twitter.com/SallyJMorem @SallyJMorem

    Scientists making those comparisons between pigs and fetuses are neglecting one crucial factor: Time. The pig will be a pig until it dies. The fetus will grow into a viable baby, a child, an adult human being with all that that means. If a philosopher and a scientist can overlook so obvious a fact, what else are they overlooking?

    (I speak as a philosophical agnostic, someone somewhat similar to that of a militant agnostic as noted in the following bumper sticker: "I don't know and you don't either.")

  • winston

    Say what you will about Dawkins. Evolution makes a lot more sense and is in line with what we know about the universe than notion of a genie who just 'poofed' everything into existence. Science talks about actual processes that we see at work in the world around us and in their productions.

    • TruthJew

      "Science talks about actual processes that we see at work in the world around us" – So I take it you have actually observed an evolutionary process where one species evolved through purely natural causes into a more advanced species with a more complex DNA (in violation of the laws of entropy)?

      Can you please explain how the human ability of intellectual cognition of abstract concepts, and the human ability of speech, evolved through natural causes within primates or apes? Why would an ape require intellectual cognition and speech to survive under Darwinist principles?

      • Historian

        Winston has a point. No, no one has seen Evolution in progress, as it is glacially slow. It would be absurd to expect anyone to witness the process. (But scientists daily observe under a microscope a similar process when bacteria mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics.) Scientists, like a detective arriving on a murder scene, look for clues and evidence, and construct theories based on them. They (scientists) then test the theories with more and more new evidence. They go where the evidence takes them. If new evidence contradicts the theory, they dump the theory. Evolution has survived the scrutiny, and is reinforced by massive amounts of new evidence from different angles of research, from fossil remains to genetics to geographical distribution of species. Science does not have "authorities". Anyone can challenge any theory, based on evidence and logic. That is the beauty of science. Can an orthodoxy or religion match that?

        • Mary Sue

          I've got bad news for you.

          Antibiotic resistance is not evolution. It's not even evidence of evolution. Scientists recently found a batch of bacteria somewhere that had been isolated for a gazillion years that had the genes for antibiotic resistance!

          It *is* a form of "natural selection" but in fact in all practical terms the bacteria in question are actually LESS FIT than their normal relatives! That's why faecal transplant is used (with normal non-mutant non resistant bacteria) is used to treat antibiotic resistant bacterial overgrowth in the body! The reason is the mutation causes nutrients to be less well absorbed by the bacteria, which is also what makes it antibiotic resistant (the antibiotic doesn't easily get through).

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Say what you will about Dawkins. Evolution makes a lot more sense and is in line with what we know about the universe than notion of a genie who just 'poofed' everything into existence."

      It makes more sense to people who've been indoctrinated to understand the world that way. Of course.

      Allah makes more sense to Saudi Muslims too. What's your point then?

      "Science talks about actual processes that we see at work in the world around us and in their productions."

      Failure to recognize the limits of science is to fail science.

      • Historian

        This is vacuous medieval sophistry. The difference is that science WORKS! Rockets do reach Mars, Boeing 747s do fly, computers do wonderful calculations, surgical procedures and antibiotics so save lives, electricity does make our lives more convenient. The rewards of science in making our lives better, safer, and more fulfilling keep increasing by the day.

        • Mary Sue

          it is true that if you get the wrong kind of religion, you get the wrong kind of science.

          Unfortunately Atheism is one of the "wrong" religions…

  • Fred

    Science deals with the natural world. Observation of what is and how it works.  Religion deals with belief. Belief which goes beyond the physical natural world thus beyond what science can deal with.  If mind is nothing but matter then religious belief, moral values, right and wrong must have some physical manifestation. Their must exist a " right and wrong" particle or molecule. Hawkins and his fellow travelers should spend their time looking for that. Then they should measure how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. But since religion, moral values, right and wrong do exist in the natural world how do those come to exist if there is no "right and wrong" particle? Or is the spiritual, the world of religion and belief a part of the natural world? If so, then science should be able to observe it and measure it. But then what can science say about what may exist beyond or outside the natural world? Nothing! So we are back to belief about the unknowable and since belief exists in this physical natural world what does that say about belief and religion? Since belief exists it is real, as real as any other part of nature. 

    As to Hawkin's pig, he's entirely wrong (which indicates how dysfunctional his brain is, casting more than reasonable doubt on any of his "work") . Being human requires two things. First having Human DNA, which is formed at conception. Second, knowing right from wrong. Pigs and other animals don't have any knowledge of right and wrong. The lion has no conception of murder when he kills a sheep. Only humans know some killing is wrong while other killing is justified.  

    When do humans get a right to life? If not at conception then perhaps never, and any human can simply be disposed of when they become inconvenient for society. The 20th century was replete with examples of such thinking. 

    • Loyal Achates

      "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

      Shakespeare

      • Loyal Achates

        A thumbs down for Shakespeare? How low can you go?

        • Viktor Suvorov

          Learn to quote, atheist fool. See the difference

          "I will do such things—. What they are yet I know not, but they shall be. The terrors of the earth."

          Shakespeare

          and;

          "I will do such things—. What they are yet I know not, but they shall be. The terrors of the earth."

          King Lear in act 2, Scene 4.

          Shakespeare

          Your fake quotation make Shakespeare sound like Nietzsche in Jenseits von Gut und Böse, an utterly misrepresentation of Shakespeare. No wonder you are an atheist fanatic.

          • F. Swemson

            @ Victor Suvorov;

            The constant insults that you hurl at all who differ with you and the intense anger which is obvious in most of your comments speaks ill of your position on the issues. Being rude and bombastic doesn't advance the discussion, it just makes you look like a bully.

            fs

          • Viktor Suvorov

            Atheists are by far the most aggressive, foul-mouthed and obnoxious group in the public discourse. As a typical atheist with no real moral standard I believe you are a hypocrite. I believe you don't criticize your fellow atheists. Prove me wrong.

            Your comment is a textbook case of passive-aggressive behaviour. Your comment is void of any facts and logic, but filled with hate-filled characterizations like; constant insults, intense anger, rude, bombastic, bully. All this within only two sentences.

            Thank you for your mudslinging. You sound like a real passive-aggressive bully.

          • Historian

            Hellooo. What circles do you move on, Victor? I know many agnostics and atheists who are well educated, decent, charitable, generous, sensitive, and perfectly charming people.

          • Historian

            Typo error. Should read "move in".

          • reader

            You mean, in your echo chamber? You're not fooling anybody – especially about being charitable. This has been already thoroughly refuted by science. You know, like statistics.

          • Viktor Suvorov

            Sorry, I can't give you statistical data regarding the vile and barbaric behavior of the atheist drones and their foul language. The automated administrator system will delete my comment.

            So instead of using hits on Google etc, just go to any video of Carrie Prejean on youtube and look at the comment. I challenge you to find any prominent Atheist treated the same way by Christians.

            Use and swear word you want and combine with Christianity vs Atheism and use a search engine. The result is pretty clear. Go to any fora where religion is discussed and search for derogatory terms/swear words etc and look at who made the comments.

            Listen to any Professor ranting about "delusional", "stupid" Christians, Christianity is a virus etc, and see if you can find any Christian professor making the same statements regarding atheists.

            You are a liar and you know it. And the very fact that you try to debunk a GENERAL statement with your own subjective opinion of your a handful of your own personal friends only displays your lack of logic and scientific training/understanding.

            Explain to me why atheists have NEVER been able to produce a civilization based on atheism and compare that to Christendom, the greatest civilization the world has ever seen.

          • Viktor Suvorov

            Empirical data show that Christians are by far more charitable than atheists. Conservatives more than liberals.

            Read Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks

            There are many science paper dealing with this and similar aspects, I have NEVER ever seen that atheists have been better than devout Christians in ANY aspect or any form of human goodness.

            All you fanatic atheists have given us is the word terror. Christianity gave the concept of charity, giving without necessarily expecting it to be given back. That was contrary to the Roman and Greek thinking.

          • Historian

            Victor, read all your postings. Then read mine. Which is more vitriolic? QED

          • Viktor Suvorov

            Is this a joke or are you really this illogical and scientific illiterate? Do you represent all atheists and I all believers? Are you such a narcissist that you seriously believe we can extrapolate from your behavior and make a general conclusion? Sadly, your way of "thinking" is pretty common among you fanatic atheists.

          • Viktor Suvorov

            Furthermore, if I misbehave, that is a violation of the teaching of Jesus Christ and I must and will correct my behavior.

            If you however want to steal, slaughter, rape and torture innocent people, you can do it all you want. Nothing stops you, and surely no God shall tell you otherwise. You atheists believe you are just animals and consequently too often behave like animals. This is why you never were able to produce any kind of civilization, this in sharp contrast to Christianity, the greatest civilization the world has ever seen.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "A thumbs down for Shakespeare? How low can you go?"

          You want to abuse Shakespeare and get applause?

        • Mary Sue

          because the quote is meaningless.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "If mind is nothing but matter…"

      There is no evidence that statement is true.

    • Historian

      "Science deals with the natural world." Absolutely right, Fred. "Religion deals with belief." Right, again. "Belief which goes beyond the physical natural world thus beyond what science can deal with." That is an exact quote from you. If you seriously accept that, belief without supporting evidence, Fred, hang on tight to your wallet. You are vulnerable to every scam and huckster (of the cloth or otherwise) out to prey on your pious innocence.

      • Viktor Suvorov

        You believe life came from dead matter without any divine intervention whatsoever. Where is your supporting evidence for that.

        You believe that a language and enormous amount of information were not created by an intelligent being but by randomness. Where is your supporting evidence for that? EVERY professional dealing with military cryptology will tell you that the hypothesis that DNA is created by chance is a joke. How many poems have you found in the sand created by the wind. Has it EVER been observed in the simplest form that language and information have been created by randomness? Sorry, but you have blind belief that is not supported by science. Read Prof.Dr. Werner Gitt, I believe he is on youtube as well,

    • LINO

      Psychology deals with belief. Not theology.

  • http://twitter.com/Urbane_Gorilla @Urbane_Gorilla

    Nice try…The author takes a comment from Dawkins, then defines every aspect of the argument around the subject and uses that to whip him. The author would have been right at home on the Bush/Cheney team leading up to the Iraq invasion. This is not logic..it's High School debate club maneuvers. It may work on emotional teens, but doesn't meet adult discussion standards.

    • Viktor Suvorov

      Sorry, the High School debate club loser is clearly you. Try to formulate your own rant into logically true and sound arguments and see what happens. Good luck with that, atheist.

  • winston

    Religion is the desire to make chronos from chaos. It is man way of adding to the universe all that he feels it is sorely lacking. Like, like immortality and a rightwous judge who punishes the evil and rewards the just. Ideas of such an omnipotent creator come quickly apart when we ask some simple logical questions. Like, if the world is manufactured and maintained by such a being why include evil in it? Such a being would be complex indeed, much more so than the incomprehensibly massive universe it, perpetually or otherwise, gives rise to at will. By what agents would such a being have come into existence? We don;t know. And can;t know. And for this reason alone it is not just unlikely, but unnecessary (lest you fear childish tales of eternal damnation), because it adds nothing to our knowledge of the universe. Worse, it makes us think that not knowing something is a form of knowledge (faith) and believe that we can know god's will (it's in the bible, koran, etc etc) and can act in his stead. This leads to endless conflict between these different tribes. At a time when science has conclusively shown that man is primate and none of his fellows, anywhere on earth, is more than a 50th cousin. If am etero hit the earth tomorrow and killed every human but a small tribe living in the jungles of New Guinea, that small group would still preserve 80% of all human genetic variability.

  • geoplaten

    Perhaps Dawkins could inform the ignorant masses how many adult pigs have turned into humans 9 months later.

  • Spider

    I think Richard Dawkins is less human than an adult pig for his support for the slaughter of 53 million Americans in abortion clinics.

  • guest

    Clearly written by a moron, for morons. good day.

    • Toni_Pereira

      Ah! that's why i didn't fully understood the article and you did…

    • Mary Sue

      if you think a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy and that a pig is more human than a human at ANY stage, you are the moron.

  • john

    Mengel was a doctor / Doctor Evil , without the laughs .

    • Toni_Pereira

      Nope. He is a kind of white Professor Klump, without the sense of humor.

    • tagalog

      It's "Mengele," and he was called "The White Angel" by his Jewish victims.

  • Clay

    I don't think the author has read The God Delusion. Dawkins does not claim to undermine God, but rather make it really, really, really hard to believe in it. Religion is his target, and scientific literacy is his weapon. The concept of God is unfalsifiable, as are all other metaphysical claims. His 7 point spectrum of belief speaks to this, where he places himself as a 6.9, or hard agnostic. The atheist label is merely a position you get to by viewing the question in probabilistic terms. No atheist / non-believer worth his grain in salt speaks with certainty. Dawkins is no exception; read the man's words.

    I crack up at the points the article tries to make about non overlapping magesteria. Yes, the views of religion speak to an alternative sphere than science, the metaphsyical sphere, there's just never been an individual in the history of history that's been able to demonstrate the existence of a such a sphere. At least, not to our modern standards of evidence. Both subjectivity and groupthink reign in religion, and that's why other than the thousands of extant religions, history remains a graveyard of even more dead religions. Dawkins is well within his right to criticize. What can be advanced without evidence can just as easily be dismissed without evidence.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "I don't think the author has read The God Delusion. Dawkins does not claim to undermine God, but rather make it really, really, really hard to believe in it. Religion is his target, and scientific literacy is his weapon."

      Right. Scientific literacy in place of balanced evidence.

    • Toni_Pereira

      Clay, the point is not if the author read or not, "The God Delusion". The point his that outside his field our dear misanthrope only talks nonsense.In this case, he has a tin ear for Ethics. Has someone pointed out, a fettus is expected to grow and become a person, not a pig(I'm talking in the literal sense,of course)

      For someone who claims to be a secular humanist, Dawkins has some bizarre views about life…

  • Ghostwriter

    I think it'll be best if I stayed out of this argument. I really couldn't add anything to it.

  • Kevin Stroup

    Science is about physics. Philosophy is about metaphysics. Science measures and describes the physical world. Philosophy explores the universe of values that are beyond the physical. Neither one has anything to say about the other. This argument is so stupid it is scary that a PhD. is making it.

    • LINO

      If you don't think that science and metaphysics have anything to say about one another, than you clearly haven't read much science or metaphysics.

    • Mr. Polly

      This supposed absolute separation between the subject matters of science and philosophy is contrived and artificial.

  • venuji2005

    “any fetus is less human than an adult pig.”

    What if his mother had thought so about him when he was still a fetus?

    • Tony

      Good point. The ultimate barrenness of atheism…

  • RJohn

    How can you have an Apostle Paul on the one hand and a Festus ("You have lost your mind.") on the other hand? You cannot prove God, but He can and does prove Himself. And, He proves Himself to those who have the same type of faith as Abram (Abraham). According to King David, God can also prove Himself deceptive, or false, to those who are perverse. He hides Himself from the Festus' of the world. If God did prove Himself to Abraham and Paul, do you think they could be swayed by the arguments or threats of men?

    Can Science save you out of the same "System" it is subject to? Everybody in this "System" is destined to decay and die. Perhaps this explains why Abraham was looking for a city whose architect and builder is God.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Long way to the bottom of the page on this one, but………….It is said "Pride comes before
    a fall." Dawkins seems to have fallen hard and landed on his head, splattering any
    credibility, he needs to go away as much as attention needs to bypass his ramblings.
    William

  • AZIL

    cancer is boring…

  • billie_cody

    This is the sort of article I wished teen-atheist-fanboys would read. Even as an atheist myself, it bothers me completely the other kind of fundamentalism they incorporate. And worse – hiding behind reason as if religion and reason have always been antagonist, while for most of antiquity and middle ages they co-existed just fine within philosophical debates. Reason should never be dogmatic, but a tool. There's a lot in the world that is metaphysical and not physical, and I wished scientists could work with philosophers displaying the same respect each deserve.

  • 7n43nd

    I see you are trying hard to make the term ‘Amateur Philosopher Syndrome’ take off. Doesn’t look like it is working though.

  • Mark

    While I agree with your stance on Dawkins as an amateur I would argue that its not true that science and God have no part in the other. If God is, in fact, the creator of all our reality, it makes sense that one could evidence or traces of that fact. One cannot move outside the universe and prove such things but one can certainly look for the hallmarks of design and evidence that points to such a cause. Having a more accurate approach to the cause allows one to ask more accurate questions about the effect and all that follows. I think its important to keep design in mind when considering all of science and how such a concept effects the universe, how we interact with it, etc…Materialists want no part in this, and I think its detrimental to science rather than helpful.

  • DaveR

    I think many would agree that Richard Dawkins went outside his domain of expertise in writing The God Delusion. He could fairly be accused of suffering from APS. However Alex Rosenberg (RJ Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University) is a professional philosopher and his book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, sets the bar at explaining why a firm understanding of science makes atheism the only game in town.