Thursday, December 03, 2009

Breaking free of the indoctrinated paradigm

The forum at Richard Dawkins.net is proving a great resource for turning up new myths in the history of science and religion. For one user at this ‘oasis of clear thinkingIsaac Newton was tragically restrained in his scientific endeavours by the ‘parasitic God meme’ which prevented his from realising the true extent of his genius. He writes:

Sometimes religion can inhibit a scientist from advancing beyond a certain point. An example of this is with Isaac Newton where he could have easily made certain advances in calculus but he reached an unnecessary endpoint because of his religious beliefs

Certainly Newton appears to have written more on religion than he did on natural science, including his calculations of the date of the end of the world (using the Book of Daniel) and the dimensions of the temple at Jerusalem. Newton’s date for the apocalypse (in case you were wondering whether or not to finish that extension to your property) will occur no earlier than 2060. He wrote:

"It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner…This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."

Could Newton have made more contributions to Calculus if he had not been ‘wasting his time’ in this fashion? This seems a bit unfair. Newton was the first to apply calculus to general physics. It would be asking a lot for him to have done even more. Additionally, after some research I discovered an article by Dr. Stephen Snobelen, professor of the history of science and technology at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It states that:

Other possible examples of the strong influence of Newton’s theology include Newton’s view of salvation history as an undulatory cycling between reformation and apostasy and the development of his calculus. Newton’s calculus depended on a conception of absolute time and, as explained above, absolute time for Newton rested on a belief in God’s eternal duration. It is also plausible that Newton’s antitrinitarian view of a unipersonal God supported his understanding of the unity of nature. That even the heretical elements of Newton’s theology permeated his natural philosophy is made plain by his General Scholium, which, although an appendix to an ostensively purely natural philosophical work, is embedded with antitrinitarian biblical hermeneutics. For Newton, the feigned natural philosophical hypotheses of Descartes are no different than the doctrinal hypotheses of Trinitarianism. Corrupt interpretative practices in natural philosophy and theology are linked, just as the correct methods arriving at Truth are unified.

Similarly Snobelen writes in ‘Science and dissent in England, 1688-1945’ that:

‘Dobbs (professor of history at Northwestern University) has written at length on Newton’s conceptions of divine activity in matter – a nexus in his thought where theology and natural philosophy converged. It is likely that Newton’s God or dominion even impinged on his mathematics, because his method of fluxions (calculus) depended on the continuous flow of absolute time, which Newton associated with God, whose eternity and omnipresence is said in the General Scholium to be coextensive with time (duration) and space. In this case Newton’s theology helped shape the cognitive content of his mathematics’.

Another great scientific figure who came up was the great Johannes Kepler. If you were going to compile a list of great religious scientists then he would surely be on the list, after all in Kepler's mind his science and his Christianity were harmoniously interwoven and he formulated his laws in the belief that God had ordered his works according to mathematical principles which were co-eternal with him. Yet for one user, Kepler had only made his discoveries because he had ditched his ‘faith based methodology’ in favour of the ‘critical thinking paradigm’

Yes Kepler was influenced by religion to begin his search into the paths of the planets. And it was that religious teaching that led him down the path of trying to fit the paths into the ‘perfect solids’ for so long (long after he should have given up on that), due to his religious notions of a perfect harmony of the spheres. It was only when his work led him to finally drop that, seek out real data of the planets’ motions and take the more scientific route of trying all avenues to see what actually fit the data (as opposed to desperately trying to fit the data to the model) that he finally hit on the correct conclusions. Conclusions quite different than his religious ideas ever foresaw. It was a triumph IN SPITE of his religious ideas, not as a result of them, it was his honesty and passion to be willing to break free of the indoctrinated paradigm to seek the truth no matter where it lay that did it.

Well not quite. His motivation was the development of a Christian Empiricism against a Platonic Rationalism. At the time there was considerable scepticism abroad that it was impossible to accurately map the planets, yet Kepler rejected this because of his conviction that the heavens must reflect their maker.

His original model was heliocentric with the planets arranged in orbits determined by the five basic solids. The appeal was that this was a neat arrangement, however it was not precisely correct, and for Kepler even small errors were unworthy of the creator. Instead he collated the data and prepared the Rudolphine Planetary Tables with Tycho Brahe. His best model fit for the data was out by only a small degree (eight minutes of arc); but Kepler again felt that there was no imprecision about God and that he does not make eight minute mistakes (James Hannam tell us in God’s Philosophers that he later called this small difference ‘a good deed of God’s' and thought it critical for his later success). What Kepler did was then ditch the idea that the planet had to move in circles because it was a Greek addition to the basic principle that if the paths were ordained by God then they should be simple and elegant (a basic assumption of Greek astronomy was that the stars moved with a single regular circular motion, while the sun, moon and planets moved with combinations of regular circular motion). He then discovered the planet’s orbits are ellipses, that the axis of the orbit sweeps through a uniform area and that there is a mathematical relationship between the length of time it takes for the planets to orbit the sun and their distance from it, the famous three laws of planetary motion.

As for breaking free of the ‘indoctrinated paradigm’ this was the chap who wrote ‘for a long time I wanted to be a theologian’, ‘now behold how through my effort God is being celebrated through astronomy’, ‘the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork’. His notebooks are mostly covered in mystical speculation and prayers. If Kepler were alive and on the Richard Dawkins forum today he would be no doubt be derided as a 'faith headed' purveyor of 'woo', 'hand-waving' and 'sky fairy worship'.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stop splashing in the oasis humphrey, you're making waves!

James said...

Here's a post from Comment Central at the London Times (about a totally different topic) which seems relevant to what Newton got up to:

"It reminded me very much of a favourite riposte from the lengendary boxer John Conteh.

Conteh was asked to 'imagine how great a boxer he would have been if it hadn't been for the women and the booze'.

He replied:

You don't understand. If it hadn't been for the women and the booze I wouldn't have bothered in the first place."

http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2009/12/the-story-about-tiger-woods-has-excited-much-commentary-about-his-life-going-off-the-rails-it-reminded-me-very-much-of-a-fav.html

Mike Flynn said...

Newton’s calculus depended on a conception of absolute time

Which, ironically, Einstein dispensed with.

Karl said...

So Dawkins is saying that people shouldn't pursue topics that interest them and they enjoy working on? And that their success is only determined by how much they contribute to science? Well, what else is new?

Tim O'Neill said...

So Dawkins is saying ...

The comments were made by a poster on on board of a forum on Dawkins' website. Unless he uses mind control rays to manipulate his helpless minions into posting silly things, I don't think we can attribute every silly thing posted on that forum to the Wicked Dawkins Bogeyman Monster that theists worry about so much.

Noons said...

^^

That is correct. Most message boards will state at the bottom that posts reflect the views of the individual posters and not the staff or founder of the board. I doubt that Dawkins himself pays much attention to his message board anymore. Could a semi-retired Oxford professor with beachfront property really have no better use of his time than to read the rants of teenage know-it-alls?

Knowing Thomas said...

Tim, theists worry about Dawkins?

Hehehe

Karl said...

Well, my mistake Tim (I sped read the article during a break at work). So how about:

So what this enlightened internet atheist is saying that people shouldn't pursue topics that interest them and they enjoy working on? And that their success is only determined by how much they contribute to science? Well, what else is new?

And theists scared of Dawkins? Please, the guy is the Charlie Brown of theological arguments.

Tim O'Neill said...

And theists scared of Dawkins?

I didn't say that. I said many theists seem scared of "the Wicked Dawkins Bogeyman Monster". This is a mythical creature who bears a resemblance to the actual Richard Dawkins, and so is often mistaken for him, but to which theists attribute all kinds of strange assertions, flawed arguments and disagreeable behaviours.

I regularly get told "Dawkins once said X!", but when pressed the theist in question can't actually find the quote in question. Or it turns out the real Dawkins said something, but it wasn't actually what the theist thought.

Or I get told "Dawkins is setting up atheist summer camps!" But on examination it turns out he's doing nothing of the sort.

Or I'm told "He's rude! He's aggressive!". But after sifting through videos of the real Dawkins being unfailingly courteous to all kinds of morons and and fundie clowns, I find no evidence of this.

Or I get told Dawkins is as bad as the fundamentalists he condemns!", but on searching for evidence of this, I find the real Dawkins has never thrown acid in a woman's face, blown up a bus, gunned down a doctor or flown an airliner into a large building.

Since I keep hearing about this other Dawkins who says and does these terrible things but can only find evidence of the polite, intelligent and urbane emeritus professor, I can only conclude that there must be a counterfeit "Dawkins" out there who is doing all these dreadful things. I've dubbed him "the Wicked Dawkins Bogeyman Monster", because he sounds dreadful and it seems many theists are, justifiably, rather frightened of him.

Anonymous said...

Well, reading the "The God Delusion" was not unlike having acid thrown on my eyes... oh but I kid! You are right, Dawkins doesn't blow up buses, he did put a bomb on one once though... it said something silly like "religion PROBABLY isn't true", and it bombed.

I don't quite blame people for attributing the wrong quotes to Dawkins... when you're used to someone saying something stupid, you'd expect them to say all sorts of other stupid things. But perhaps I should give this kindly old scholar more respect, he is QUITE courteous, even when he's calling religion a form of child abuse.

But then again, as a skeptic who's at least open to the possibility of theism I'm a dissenter to atheism so I don't even deserve to speak on D's enlightened secular views.

Karl said...

I said many theists seem scared of "the Wicked Dawkins Bogeyman Monster".

So how is that different from saying theists are sacred of Dawkins?

This is a mythical creature who bears a resemblance to the actual Richard Dawkins, and so is often mistaken for him, but to which theists attribute all kinds of strange assertions, flawed arguments and disagreeable behaviours.

Well, as Anonymous said when you got somebody who regularly says and does stupid things it isn't hard to attribute additional stupid quotes to them. After all, Dawkins does do things like comparing a rabbi to Hitler on the sole ground that both men had a tendency to raise their voices. http://news.aol.com/newsbloggers/2008/07/07/richard-dawkins-compares-me-to-hitler/

Or I'm told "He's rude! He's aggressive!". But after sifting through videos of the real Dawkins being unfailingly courteous to all kinds of morons and and fundie clowns, I find no evidence of this.

This is a joke right? Not only do I have the above rabbi quote (and if you don't know why comparing a rabbi to Hitler might be considered just a little bit rude I am going to ask you what rock you have been living under your entire life) but have you forgotten this little gem:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. http://quotationsbook.com/quote/45808/

Now don't you think that might just be a little bit rude and insulting? I mean what if somebody said the same thing about somebody you love?

Tim's wife is arguably the most unpleasant character in the entire world: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

I would consider that to be just a little bit rude, wouldn't you?

Or I get told Dawkins is as bad as the fundamentalists he condemns!", but on searching for evidence of this, I find the real Dawkins has never thrown acid in a woman's face, blown up a bus, gunned down a doctor or flown an airliner into a large building.

Most fundamentalists don't either; has Fred Phelps done anything like that? Has Mahmoud Ahmadinejad done anything like that? The answer to both questions is no. And we have had atheists who did do stuff like that; good old Mao Zedong waged war to destroy Tibet's religion and culture under the slogan 'Religion is Poison.' So would I be justified in saying the good Chairman's actions are representative of all atheists like you just said the actions of a extremists are representative of fundamentalists as a whole? You can fundamentalist and at the same time not inflict bodily harm on another person.

Since I keep hearing about this other Dawkins who says and does these terrible things but can only find evidence of the polite, intelligent and urbane emeritus professor,

Really, I must of missed the memo about when it became polite, intelligent and urbane to say that parents teaching their children their values and beliefs were a form of child abuse; something Anonymous also said. Don't take my word Dawkins said that though, here is it straight from the horse's mouth: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/118

And don't take the fact that we talk about Dawkins a lot or attribute stupid things to him as a sign we are scared of him. People like to watch and talk about the village idiot and it is very easy to assign additional acts of stupidity towards him.

Matko said...

This is a joke right? Not only do I have the above rabbi quote (and if you don't know why comparing a rabbi to Hitler might be considered just a little bit rude I am going to ask you what rock you have been living under your entire life) but have you forgotten this little gem (...)

You forgot he likes to call religious believers "faith-heads" and dub religion as "Gerin oil".

If you don't agree with someone's position, at least learn how to communicate with him in a civil, adult manner. That is the basis of all human discourse if it wants to be called constructive. Don't hide your fallacious arguments with pseudo-intellectual neologisms and rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Of course, if Richard Dawkins didn't spend so much time promoting atheism his scientific carer may have been greater :p

Tim O'Neill said...

Deary me - right on cue we get the usual snarling and snapping at Dawkins for having the temerity to criticise religon.

he is QUITE courteous, even when he's calling religion a form of child abuse

Sorry, but simply believing that indoctrinating children is a form of child abuse is not "rude". You can disagree with it, but just because you don't agree with him doesn't mean his expressing this opinion is somehow "rude".

Dawkins doesn't blow up buses, he did put a bomb on one once though... it said something silly like "religion PROBABLY isn't true", and it bombed.

What the slogan that other people came up with (the Dawkins Bogeyman strikes again!) said was "There's Probably No God". Which isn't "silly", it's entirely sensible. A slogan that said categorically "There's No God" would be silly. A silly slogan would also be one that says something like "There Definitely Is a God" - like, ummm, this one: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/2/5/1233834282783/Christian-bus-ads-001.jpg

And I have no idea how you can tell the campaign "bombed". Given that it was copied all over the planet and gave the idea that atheists have every right to state their position as publically as believers huge publicity and legitimacy, it strikes me as a roaring success.

So how is that different from saying theists are sacred of Dawkins?

It's different because (i) the Bogeyman Dawkins says and does things that Dawkins doesn't do and say and (ii) the Bogeyman Dawkins doesn't exist.

After all, Dawkins does do things like comparing a rabbi to Hitler on the sole ground that both men had a tendency to raise their voices.

Which was a pretty valid point. Why do these people have a need to shout and wave their arms around to make their point? And no, he wasn't saying that therefore the shouters were as evil as Hitler or that they were likely to gas millions etc. But he was saying that, like Hitler, perhaps their performances were more rhetoric, theatrics and bluster than substance.

Now don't you think that might just be a little bit rude and insulting? I mean what if somebody said the same thing about somebody you love?

If they said that about someone I loved while at the same time pointing to documents that showed what they were saying was TRUE I'd be questioning why I loved such a monstrous person.

Of course, if Richard Dawkins didn't spend so much time promoting atheism his scientific carer may have been greater :p

*sigh* Yes, because he was such a lightweight in that department.

Watch out kids - the Dawkins Bogeyman might come and eat your faith!!!.

Matko said...

Deary me - right on cue we get the usual snarling and snapping at Dawkins for having the temerity to criticise religon.

It's not criticism of religion that we don't want or scoff at, but bad criticism of religion. What Dawkins does aplenty.

Sorry, but simply believing that indoctrinating children is a form of child abuse is not "rude". You can disagree with it, but just because you don't agree with him doesn't mean his expressing this opinion is somehow "rude".

He isn't rude. He's stupid.

*sigh* Yes, because he was such a lightweight in that department.

Writing pop-science books is never a substitute for genuine scientific work.

Tim O'Neill said...

It's not criticism of religion that we don't want or scoff at, but bad criticism of religion.

The Dawkins Fearers were actually whining about his "rudeness". Apparently saying things they don't agree with is, ipso facto, "rude". This is a very strange attitude, but one that seems common amongst religious types who need to hedge their beliefs about with a force field called "respect". To breach this in any way is therefore "rude".

He isn't rude. He's stupid.

Yes because Oxford University and the Royal Society are both renowned for their embrace of "stupid" people.

Writing pop-science books is never a substitute for genuine scientific work.

Yes, because you get to be Reader in Zoology at Oxford without doing any original research. That happens all the time.

Come on - this is just pathetic.

Karl said...

Deary me - right on cue we get the usual snarling and snapping at Dawkins for having the temerity to criticise religon.

No, we are getting snarling and snapping at you for putting out some blatant falsehoods and specious reasoning in defense of Dawkins.

Sorry, but simply believing that indoctrinating children...is somehow "rude".

It's not rude, it's stupid. Insultingly so. All parents want to pass their values and beliefs onto their children. You want to, I want to and I am pretty sure Dawkins wants to. That is part of life, that is normal. Yet, when the parents have opinions that Dawkins disagrees with he immediately calls teaching their children those opinions child abuse and demands the government step in. Despite admitting that he can't prove his own beliefs to be true (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/jan/07/g2) and the fact that anybody with half-a-brain should be afraid of a government powerful enough to dictate what you can tell your own child.

It's different because (i) the Bogeyman Dawkins says and does things that Dawkins doesn't do and say and (ii) the Bogeyman Dawkins doesn't exist.

I just provided links to prove he does.

Which was a pretty valid point. Why do these people have a need to shout and wave their arms around to make their point?

Could it be that it gets people's attention and ensures that nobody falls asleep during said speech (which a clam, monotone delivery does tend to cause)? Nah.

And no, he wasn't saying that therefore...theatrics and bluster than substance.

Funny, evil and gassing millions are the first things. that come to mind when someone mentions good old Uncle Adolf. Not exactly a compliment to compare someone to him is it? No matter how you look at it, it is still an incredibly stupid, tactless and rude thing to say; especially to a person who is Jewish and especially to a rabbi. In fact, I want you to conduct an experiment. Go to a meeting of Jewish vegetarians and say, "So you are all vegetarians? Just Like Hitler?" Or go to a meeting of PETA and say, "So you people are all animal lovers? Just like Hitler?" Please be sure to document how people treat and react to you before and after you make those remarks.

If they said that about someone...questioning why I loved such a monstrous person.

You're side-stepping the question. Besides, if you loved someone like that (and I don't agree with Dawkins characterization of God) I got this distinct impression you would simply rationalize the documents away. Kind of like you are doing with hard evidence of Dawkins' character right now.

Yes, because he was such a lightweight in that department.

Well, the two things he is best known for are memes-a concept that has absolutely no empirical evidence to back it up and is universally rejected by sociology and psychology-and being delivering sermons on atheism. Hardly qualifies as sterling science.

The Dawkins Fearers were actually whining about his "rudeness"...To breach this in any way is therefore "rude".

Tim, would you prefer if somebody addressed you in an argument as Mister O'Neill or as that stupid dumbass? I know which one I would prefer. I don't mind it when someone criticizes my beliefs, I do mind it when they insult me in the process. Not to mention its counter-productive to Dawkins' goal of wining converts to atheism. How many people do you know listen to the advice and opinions of someone who insults them and belittles them constantly?

Yes because Oxford University and the Royal Society are both renowned for their embrace of "stupid" people.

Tim, there is a difference between naturally stupid and willfully stupid. After all, having a high IQ and being accepted at a prestigious university does not automatically make you intelligent. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427321.000-clever-fools-why-a-high-iq-doesnt-mean-youre-smart.html?full=true

Tim O'Neill said...

*Sigh*

It's not rude, it's stupid.

Well, that's nice but irrelevant. It was being put forward as evidence Dawkins is rude. So we'll strike that one then.

Funny, evil and gassing millions are the first things. that come to mind when someone mentions good old Uncle Adolf.

Luckily for us Dawkins knows how an analogy works (even if you don't) and was good enough to draw attention to the aspect of good old Uncle Adolf he was using in his analogy - his rhetorical style over substance.

You're side-stepping the question.

No, I'm not. To simply call my loved one a monster is an insult. To point to evidence that can easily be read as indicating my loved one is a monster and arguing they are is not. I may not like it and I may disagree, but that's not actually an insult.

Well, the two things he is best known for ...

Again, irrelevant. We're talking about his academic record, not what he's best known for.

would you prefer if somebody addressed you in an argument as Mister O'Neill or as that stupid dumbass

Bogeyman Dawkins strikes again! Where had he called anyone the equivalent of "stupid dumbass"? The worst I've seen him say about anyone is that they are a "faith head". And if you think that's a terrible insult you need to get out more.

Karl said...

Well, that's nice but irrelevant. It was being put forward as evidence Dawkins is rude. So we'll strike that one then.

Funny, the sentence I brought the link in was: Well, as Anonymous said when you got somebody who regularly says and does stupid things it isn't hard to attribute additional stupid quotes to them. After all, Dawkins does do things like comparing a rabbi to Hitler on the sole ground that both men had a tendency to raise their voices. I don't see rude in that sentence, do you? Stupid yes, rude no.

Luckily for us Dawkins knows how an analogy works (even if you don't) and was good enough to draw attention to the aspect of good old Uncle Adolf he was using in his analogy - his rhetorical style over substance.

That still doesn't change the fact it is an insulting analogy or the fact Dawkins knows (or should know) full well what the first things that are going to pop into a person's mind when they hear Hitler's name and to use said analogy in conjunction with a Jew is about the ultimate insult to a Jewish person. Or have you and Dawkins forgotten what exactly the Jewish people ended up going through because of Adolf Hitler?

No, I'm not. To simply call my loved one a monster is an insult. To point to evidence that can easily be read as indicating my loved one is a monster and arguing they are is not. I may not like it and I may disagree, but that's not actually an insult.

But Dawkins doesn't back up that assertion nor is he interested in reading theological and philosophical tracks discussing why it might have been necessary for God to take some of those actions. And when people called Dawkins on it his response is the PZ Meyer's dubbed Courtier's Reply (http://richarddawkins.net/articles/463) which is about one of the biggest anti-intellectual statements I have ever heard come out of the mouth of a scientist.

And that brings up another lovely question, how can somebody be intelligent and urbane when they are speaking about subjects they have no knowledge about? Since when is publicly stating your ignorance on a subject and being proud of it the mark of an intelligent person? And considering the rest of the world took that statement as an insult and only Dawkins and Dawkins apologists say it isn't, I would have to say that I consider it an insult.

Again, irrelevant. We're talking about his academic record, not what he's best known for.

Tim, his academic record isn't all that notable and some of things that he has produced in that academic career-like memes and selfish gene-have been called into question. The only reason the general public knows him at all is because he is an outspoken atheist fundamentalist preacher.

Bogeyman Dawkins strikes again! Where had he called anyone the equivalent of "stupid dumbass"? The worst I've seen him say about anyone is that they are a "faith head". And if you think that's a terrible insult you need to get out more.

Dawkins has already said he equates "faith-heads" as meaning too stupid to see reality which makes it about equal to dumbass in my books (and if you think dumbass is a terrible insult you need to get out more). Plus, the point is he is still insulting people, something you said he wasn't doing But after sifting through videos of the real Dawkins being unfailingly courteous to all kinds of morons and and fundie clowns, I find no evidence of this Ring any bells? Now you are saying his insults aren't too terrible?

Tim O'Neill said...

I don't see rude in that sentence, do you?

No, but the claim in question was the one about him saying indoctrination was "child abuse". So you're focusing on the wrong claim. Seriously, if you going to keep replying to my posts on this off-topic issue then please try to pay attention.

That still doesn't change the fact it is an insulting analogy

If he's making the point that they are all rhetoric and no substance then who the hell is supposed to compare them to? Churchill? Martin Luther King? To make the point he's making he has to compare them to a loud, theatrical blowhard.

But Dawkins doesn't back up that assertion

Garbage. He points to the God described in the OT and the horrible things he says and does. If you happen to have some reading of the OT that gets your God off the hook or you can somehow separate your God from the monster described in the OT then good for you. But making the argument that the OT God is a monster is just that - a valid argument. It's not simply an insult.

how can somebody be intelligent and urbane when they are speaking about subjects they have no knowledge about?

And when exactly will you stop beating your wife? This is getting truly asinine.

Tim, his academic record isn't all that notable

Yeah, because I'm sure you could get a publishing history like this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_publications_by_Richard_Dawkins#Academic_papers and become Reader in Zoology at Oxford without even getting out of bed.

If you're trying to demonstrate that "faith heads" aren't irrational and poor debaters you're not exactly doing a great job.

CO4E said...

From 1967 to 1969, Dawkins was an assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. During this period, the students and faculty at UC Berkeley were largely opposed to the ongoing Vietnam War, and he became heavily involved in the anti-war demonstrations and activities. He returned to the University of Oxford in 1970 as a lecturer in zoology, and in 1990 was appointed a Reader.[6][7]

In 1995, Dawkins was appointed Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in the University of Oxford, a position that had been endowed by Charles Simonyi with the express intention that the holder "be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field". Since 1970, he has been a fellow of New College, Oxford. In September 2008, he retired from Oxford.[8]

Dawkins has been referred to in the media as "Darwin's Rottweiler", by analogy with English biologist T. H. Huxley, who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's evolutionary ideas.[9][10][11] During a mid-2008 BBC video on the science advice he might give to a U.S. President, Dawkins suggested

“ In order not to believe in evolution you must either be ignorant, stupid or insane.[12] ”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins#Career_in_academia
------
He makes his money being offensive. He is not a scientist. He is an ideologist. He is a skilled academic using the argument as his weapon. He has no serious legal expertise which is why he resorts to offence as his rather blunt and fumbling back up when his weaknesses get the better of him.
His passive aggressive behavior indicates to me that he is in over his head.
He is very good at smiling while he puts the knife in.
Having the best argument has nothing to do with truth.
A real scientist would know this.
Without an applied degree like medicine or engineering he can't see the "soft machine" for what it is. His arguments against the watch maker assertions are rather pedestrian as he clearly doesn't understand them. One may take umbrage with the insistence of an anthropomorphic God. however, the bible makes no such assertion. It is an easy mistake for muddled thinkers like him to make.
We are the image, and God is endlessly more complex than his image belies.
This man has no imagination, and he is proud of it.
You believe him at your own risk.

Did he ever challenge the anthropogenic cause of alleged Global warming? You know as an example of bad science? Did he ever warn us about the criminal (fraudulent) use of statistics by charlatans and snake oil salesmen like Darwin. Without probability theory, Darwin is just another academic.

Karl said...

No, but the claim in question was the one about him saying indoctrination was "child abuse". So you're focusing on the wrong claim. Seriously, if you going to keep replying to my posts on this off-topic issue then please try to pay attention.

I got distracted while creating the reply, sue me. Anyway the sentence for that link was , I must of missed the memo about when it became polite, intelligent and urbane to say that parents teaching their children their values and beliefs were a form of child abuse; something Anonymous also said. I don't see rude in that sentence either.

If he's making the point that they are all rhetoric and no substance then who the hell is supposed to compare them to? Churchill? Martin Luther King? To make the point he's making he has to compare them to a loud, theatrical blowhard.

Which is still an insult. I think calling somebody loud, theatrical blowhard is an insult and most people would agree. And the point you seem to be ignoring is that he did it to a Jewish rabbi and comparing any Jew to Hitler is like the ultimate insult to a Jewish person (something Dawkins should know). The fact that Dawkins did it shows that either A) he is a lot more insulting then you make him out to be or B) he didn't think before opening his mouth.

Garbage. He points to the God described in the OT and the horrible things he says and does. If you happen to have some reading of the OT that gets your God off the hook or you can somehow separate your God from the monster described in the OT then good for you. But making the argument that the OT God is a monster is just that - a valid argument. It's not simply an insult.

Tim, when that book came out just about every major theologian in the world-from Alvin Plantiga and Aliaster McGrath on down-came up with responses showing that his characterization is in error and tried to open discussion about why his interpretation was in error. Dawkins response was the Courtier's Reply link I provided. The reply was stupid and insulting and the original statement was definitely intended to provoke outrage (which it did). Which still makes it an insult in lure of a real argument.

And when exactly will you stop beating your wife? This is getting truly asinine.

No, what's getting asinine are your replies that consist of you simply repeating your original claims in the face of logic and hard evidence to the contrary. The point still remains that being proud of your ignorance on a subject is not the mark of an intelligent person or an honest seeker of knowledge.

Yeah, because I'm sure you could get a publishing history like this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_publications_by_Richard_Dawkins#Academic_papers and become Reader in Zoology at Oxford without even getting out of bed.

I believe I said he hasn't had a very memorable career or notable academic record; there are hundreds of scientists who have published papers just good as any Dawkins has and there are hundreds that have published more papers then he has that don't have his publicity. Nor has Dawkins had much in the way of notable discoveries. There are plenty of professors at Oxford just as good as he is but don't have his fame. In short, his career as a scientist doesn't really stand out in anyway (he hasn't exactly won any Nobel Prizes has he?). In fact, it pales beside the careers of contemporary scientists like Francis Collins. The only reason anybody cares about Dawkins is because he is an atheist loud mouth.

If you're trying to demonstrate that "faith heads" aren't irrational and poor debaters you're not exactly doing a great job.

Wow, ad hominem. Never seen that before. And as many people have pointed out to you, simply repeating your claims and calling other people's responses pathetic and asinine doesn't grant you victory.

Tim O'Neill said...

This has gone beyond ridiculous. Saying things you don't agree with isn't "rude" or "insulting". Making responses you don't happen to find convincing isn't either.

As for "he hasn't had a very memorable career or notable academic record" - you're talking about a guy who was a Reader at Oxford for fuck's sake! Scientific careers don't get much more "notable" than that. That comment alone convinces me I'm wasting my time trying to talk sense to you.

Have a nice delusional day.

Karl said...

Saying things you don't agree with isn't "rude" or "insulting". Making responses you don't happen to find convincing isn't either.

No, disagreeing with someone isn't rude or insulting. Calling them derogatory names like 'faith-head,' comparing them to genocidal dictators on account of them raising their voice or saying they are guilty of child abuse on account of the fact they hold a different opinion then you and teach said opinion to their children (like any parent does) is insulting and rude. So is referring to other people's responses as asinine, pathetic and delusional in lure of a proper rebuttal.

As for "he hasn't had a very memorable career or notable academic record" - you're talking about a guy who was a Reader at Oxford for fuck's sake!

So were a lot of other people that nobody really knows or cares about. And in case you don't know anything about universities, being appointed a position like Reader doesn't automatically make a guy smart. A lot of people have gotten those appointments because of who they know, who they are friends with and because they toe the party line with the people who run the university or supply it with money.

Scientific careers don't get much more "notable" than that.

Has Dawkins cured cancer? Aids? Maybe proved the existence of other universes? Created a faster-than-light drive? Holding a do-nothing position at Oxford,a position which he only held because of patronage from a certain Microsoft VIP, something that is an open secret among the Oxford faculty, is not a notable science career especially when Dawkins never seemed to actually do what his job description specified. http://www.arn.org/docs/pjweekly/pj_weekly_010709.htm

Have a nice delusional day.

This coming from a guy who says Dawkins isn't insulting and when confronted with multiple examples that Dawkins is tries to weasel out of it and fails? From a guy who has provided not one shred of evidence to back up any claim he made during this discussion? And seems to blindly lap up and defend Dawkins says? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Matko said...

Has Dawkins cured cancer? Aids? Maybe proved the existence of other universes? Created a faster-than-light drive? Holding a do-nothing position at Oxford,a position which he only held because of patronage from a certain Microsoft VIP, something that is an open secret among the Oxford faculty, is not a notable science career especially when Dawkins never seemed to actually do what his job description specified.

As a biologist, Dawkins had a minor, non-notable career. Before becoming a professional atheist, he was in some people's mind as author of The Selfish Gene, a book written 33 years ago. If there wasn't for all this conundrum he started, in a couple of years, he'd fade into obscurity. I just love his parading as a serious scientist; his followers swallow it all like he was the greatest biologist since, I don't know, Darwin.

CO4E said...

The title of Reader in the United Kingdom and for universities in the Commonwealth nations like some in Australia and New Zealand, denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship.

It is an academic rank above senior lecturer (or principal lecturer in the New Universities) and below Professor. However, an incompatibility of ranking systems between different (English speaking) countries, make the position of reader difficult to place outside the context of the United Kingdom. As a Professor normally holds a Chair in a particular field, a Reader could be seen as professor without chair, similar to the distinction between Professor ordinarius and Professor extraordinarius at some European Universities. In the United Kingdom, the promotion criteria applied to a Readership are similar to those applied to a Professorship.[1][2][3][4]

In Australia, academic ranks are now labelled "Level A" (Associate Lecturer) through to "Level E" (Professor). "Level D" is Associate Professor, but in some universities the term "Reader" is used for some people promoted to this level if the promotion is essentially only on the basis of eminence in research[citation needed]. This practice appears to be declining[citation needed].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reader_(academic_rank)


I find it noteworthy that the hubbub around him is about him, not his work.

Humphrey said...

Well, now I know what I have to do to get comments (mention the ‘D’ word). I mean, in one sense Matko and CO4E are right. Dawkins only made professor at Oxford because a rich benefactor paid the university a large sum of money. However he has indisputably acted as a world class populariser for the greats; for example the ideas of W. D. Hamilton in ‘The Selfish Gene’. Popularisers and communicators are often as important as the researchers themselves in the History of Science, and here one thinks of T H Huxley and Francis Bacon, because they provide the ideology of scientific culture. That’s why he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society when the decision was taken to broaden it’s membership.

Karl said...

Well, now I know what I have to do to get comments (mention the ‘D’ word).

Guaranteed ten thousand comments or your money back.

CO4E said...

Statistics or empiricism, these disciplines are as different as calculating and seeing are different.
Statistics and empiricism -

"And a lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0751108/quotes.

:)