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Richard Dawkins: Person of the Year 2006 - as per BBC 
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Post Richard Dawkins: Person of the Year 2006 - as per BBC
Richard Dawkins: Person of the Year 2006

Here is an interesting article about how the BBC awarded Dawkins with the title of "Person of the Year" for 2006. It is amazing how much publicity he has achieved lately. Run a search for his name and "Person of the Year" to see how many Bloggers are posting about him.




Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:40 am
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Not to take anything away from Richard but the BBC didn't give him any award. William Cawley, a presenter on BBC Northen Ireland's Will and Testament radio show voted him Person of the Year.

Certainly no slight, but if the BBC had an award for Person of the year, it'd certainly be a little more high profile than getting an award from a Sunday Morning Religion & Ethics show on BBC Northern Ireland.




Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:18 am
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Here's the conclusion of Terry Eagleton's review of The God Delusion, described by William Crawley as the most negative review ever written.

Quote:
Apart from the occasional perfunctory gesture to 'sophisticated' religious believers, Dawkins tends to see religion and fundamentalist religion as one and the same. This is not only grotesquely false; it is also a device to outflank any more reflective kind of faith by implying that it belongs to the coterie and not to the mass. The huge numbers of believers who hold something like the theology I outlined above can thus be conveniently lumped with rednecks who murder abortionists and malign homosexuals. As far as such outrages go, however, The God Delusion does a very fine job indeed. The two most deadly texts on the planet, apart perhaps from Donald Rumsfeld's emails, are the Bible and the Koran; and Dawkins, as one the best of liberals as well as one of the worst, has done a magnificent job over the years of speaking out against that particular strain of psychopathology known as fundamentalism, whether Texan or Taliban. He is right to repudiate the brand of mealy-mouthed liberalism which believes that one has to respect other people's silly or obnoxious ideas just because they are other people's. In its admirably angry way, The God Delusion argues that the status of atheists in the US is nowadays about the same as that of gays fifty years ago. The book is full of vivid vignettes of the sheer horrors of religion, fundamentalist or otherwise. Nearly 50 per cent of Americans believe that a glorious Second Coming is imminent, and some of them are doing their damnedest to bring it about. But Dawkins could have told us all this without being so appallingly bitchy about those of his scientific colleagues who disagree with him, and without being so theologically illiterate. He might also have avoided being the second most frequently mentioned individual in his book



Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:04 am


Post Re: --
Here are a couple of quotes from Prospect magazine, which apparently voted GD the most overrated book of 2006:


Quote:
David Cox (broadcaster):

Dreary rant by anti-religious fanatic lacking any grasp of all but a minor aspect of the subject he purports to address.


Quote:
Alan Wolfe (academic):

Written with so little tolerance and so much fervour that fundamentalists will recognise Dawkins as one of their own.


All too accurate, I'm afraid... :)

And here is another quote, this one from the William Crawley diary entry naming Dawkins person of the year:

Quote:
For defending the delusion that science and religious faith are incompatible.


I wonder who said THAT?

Fiske




Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:41 am
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I don't know Fiske. I've talked about what I think the books problems are at great length, but I wouldn't really call the book 'dreary'. Sometimes, it's actually accurate and entertaining.

And yes, it has certainly been over-rated by the mainstream press, but it has been totally panned by the more sophisticated reviewers. While I probably agree with most of what Eaglton says, I think he, like many of the more professional reviewers, exaggerates a little as well.

To be honest, I could forgive Dawkins for some of the mistakes he made in the book, but I can't forgive him for not making the book what it could have been.




Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:53 pm
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Terry Eagleton's review is a joke, and I think his arguments are silly. Here's what Steven Weinburg has to say about it:

Quote:
I find it disturbing that Thomas Nagel in the New Republic dismisses Dawkins as an "amateur philosopher", while Terry Eagleton in the London Review of Books sneers at Dawkins for his lack of theological training. Are we to conclude that opinions on matters of philosophy or religion are only to be expressed by experts, not mere scientists or other common folk? It is like saying that only political scientists are justified in expressing views on politics. Eagleton's judgement is particularly inappropriate; it is like saying that no one is entitled to judge the validity of astrology who cannot cast a horoscope.


And he hits the nail on the head. To say that Dawkins needs more theological knowledge is like arguing that we can't critique creationists if we don't have enough Biblical-science knowledge.

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Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:27 pm


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Dear Gas:

Quote:
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don't believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be.

(The intro to Terry Eagleton's review.)


Has your card been issued yet? ;)

Fiske

PS: I take it you haven't pre-ordered Eagleton's forthcoming book (April 2007)
The Meaning of Life ...

Edited by: FiskeMiles at: 1/18/07 1:43 pm



Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:34 pm
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Post Re: --
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since they don't believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding.


Uh...DUH! This is why when we are accused of being insenstitive, it does not really carry much weight. We are being accused of being insensitive to something we feel is made up crap! Think of how ludicrous that seems to people like Dawkins and myself. We are expected to go out of our way not only to not offend, but to show respect for an idea that is JUST that...an idea, not real.

When I say the god of the OT is a mysogenistic, genocidal maniac, it is the same thing in my mind as saying that the tooth fairy is a pervert and feeling up kids while they sleep. I just wish that people of faith could make the stretch and see it THAT way for just once.

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Edited by: misterpessimistic  at: 1/18/07 2:56 pm



Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:54 pm
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This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince.


Or maybe it's because Dawkins is writing a book for the mass market and is also primarily attacking "mass-religion", which looks nothing at all like theology or even the God of the theologians, which is often little more than "pure being" or just "necessity".

Perhaps that explains why Dawkins does not delve into the inconsistencies of philosophers and theologians like Plantinga or Tillich? Possibly it is because those two are the only ones who hold their views, and they have little influence on popular religion? And possibly it is because Dawkins is addressing this type of religion for a lay audience that probably doesn't want to hear all this theological tripe about religious foundationalism that make beliefs in God basic (along with beliefs about pretty much anything else) or about how God is actually not a being, but being itself.

I'm actually quite relieved that Dawkins' book didn't get bogged down in that sort of thing! That sort of stuff can be saved for professional philosophers and those who are interested in squibbling over the details.

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Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:26 pm


Post Re: --
Dear Gas:

Oh, I agree absolutely. There's nothing more tedious than getting bogged down with careful research, well-conceived arguments, and balanced treatment of alternative points of view. Thank goodness RD didn't bother with any of that!

Fiske




Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:53 pm
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I'm afraid that excuse won't work for Dawkins Gas.

First of all, he is very clear about the fact that the arguments he presents are supposed to apply to all religions that involve the God hypothesis. He sets it up as a rebuttal to ALL philosophical and theological arguments.

Now if you're going to do that, then you have a duty to do some research.

Second, just because you're writing for a lay audience doesn't mean that you bend the facts. I mean, it's wrong to say that evolution claims men evolved from monkeys regardless of whether you're addressing a lay audience or a gathering of biologists. Talking about a complicated and difficult subject doesn't excuse you from doing your research and presenting the facts correctly.




Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:02 pm
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Post Re: --
I am saying that there is no need for god or religion for morality/ethics to be. Period. I would prefer we all base our system on something that is not total myth though...like the realization that we are all beings and in this together.

Thats all. I am happy with your first statement...that morality is made up. If more theists would just admit that their god is also just made up, and stop killing in the name of and expecting people to accept, respect and fall in line with their faith and its requisite make-believe god, I would be less vocal...and so would people like Dawkins and Harris and Dennett.

Quote:
I'm an atheist when it comes to the vast majority of religions


I love Dawkins' extension of this...I just chose to go one god more!

Mr. P.

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:56 am
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I'm an atheist when it comes to the vast majority of religions, but I can recognise the difference between sophisticated religions and conceptions of God and simple versions. It's just plain lazy and greedy to suggest that there's no difference between believing in some sort of superman and traditional conceptions of God within the western tradition.


The thing is, Niall, that the "sophisticated" versions are just as problematic. You try to argue that the God of Eagleton and Catholicism is not the God addressed by Dawkins, but I think you are quite wrong. Eagleton, for instance, tries to criticize Dawkins by saying he conceives of God as a "chap". Now, God certainly does conceive of God as a "person" in the sense that he can think and feel and love (Eagleton and Catholics attribute these characteristics to God). But Dawkins doesn't argue that God is literally a physical man of some sort.

As I've shown earlier, Eagleton's only argument for the EXISTENCE of God is the contingency argument, which basically asserts that because everything in the universe is contingent, there must exist something necessary, and that is what we call God.

The problem, of course, is that if this argument WERE true, all it would establish about this "thing" in question is that it necessarily exists. We couldn't also attribute characteristics to it like personhood, the abilities to think, feel, and love, and so on. And THIS is why the sophisticated versions are just as silly. They use sophisticated proofs to "prove" the existence of things that are not capable of thought, feeling, love, or whatever (in short, things that we wouldn't normally call "gods"). And then they apply these characteristics to these concepts without any warranted reason.

As an atheist, I do not necessarily disbelieve in a logical foundation for existence, this wouldn't be something I'd feel comfortable calling a "god" unless it were also sentient in some way, or "supernatural", or an object of worship in a religion. Of course, this is not something supernatural, nor is it sentient, nor is it something that people worship. People worship gods that are like "chaps"--even Eagleton's god is a "chap"...an immaterial chap to be sure, but a chap all the same.

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Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:08 pm
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Post Re: --
Are we to call you "Gas" or "Saint" for short?

I'm in bed typing on my laptop making all sorts of noise while my fiance tries to sleep, so this post will have to be brief. I just read every post in this thread and have a few quick comments. Besides, I am tired to the point where I'm not sure this post will make a whole lot of sense.

1. Fiske, I got your email about stepping down as discussion leader. I'll delete your name and try to find someone to take the lead. I have to say that I am really struggling to believe you're an atheist after reading plenty of your comments in this thread and many of the others. If you're truly an atheist you'll be a new kind I'm not familiar with...which is not necessarily a bad thing. As I start posting in the other God Delusion threads I'll get more into this observation of mine. I'm perplexed how you can have so many negative things to say about Richard Dawkins and virtually nothing positive. What would you say is the nature of your atheism? What led you to become an atheist? It must be something very different than what led Dawkins or even myself down that path.

2. Saint, your posts are very much in line with how I feel about Dawkins. I'm going to start posting in the other threads when I'm not making so much noise in be, so bare with the lack of real content here. I just want it known that I personally am impressed with your reasoning and communication skills. Remind me to add a link to your site some time soon too.

3. Niall, you always impress me. Rarely are you so one-sided as to not give credit where credit is due. Granted, you disagree with Dawkins on many different levels, but you at least are giving him some level of respect it seems. And I sometimes find myself laughing at your posts as you make some good points.

4. Nick, I agree with every damn word you say. We have a lot in common it seems.

5. Dissident, I find myself having to skim over your posts or else fall asleep. Liberation Theology might be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but this doesn't change the fact that billions of people are believing in non-existent magical beings, and a great many of these people are ready, willing and able to fight you or I because we don't adhere to the same fucked up beliefs. And this is the core of Dawkins book. He is disgusted by the evils and dangers of believing in anything without evidence. No need to dissect each sophisticated belief down to know that the foundation of the belief is a big fat delusion. Nick said is better in one of his above posts. And Dawkins said it best in response to a lady in the audience of a talk he gave who asked something about God being a female instead of a male. Dawkins replied that he doesn't much care if we are talking about a non-existent male God or a non-existent female God. Who really cares?




Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:56 am
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Chris, I believe that Fiske is truly an atheist, and I think that the differences between us are more matters of mannerisms than our respective beliefs concerning the nonexistence of God. Fiske is what I'd like to call an "elitist" atheist. He thinks that "mainstream", "simplified" atheism in the form that Dawkins brings to the masses is a bad thing, because it can reflect badly upon atheists, and I think this is partly why he criticizes the book so vehemently. The other reason seems to be a personal one. He has remarked to me that he has theistic friends whom he deeply values, so he is more prone to see mockery of religion as offensive for this reason.

I don't doubt his sincerity in claiming to be an atheist, but the tension arises because most of us have entirely different views concerning Dawkins' portrayal of atheism as well as his tone towards religious believers. I happen to think his simplification of atheism and his presentation of it to a mass audience is a very good thing, not necessarily because it is an air-tight case for atheism, but because it gets the view out there in the public realm, making it a viable viewpoint. And in a world where atheists are among the least respected people on Earth, I think this is a vitally important task.

What Fiske dislikes is the potential that Dawkins has provided for making atheists appear superficial, simplistic, and rude. Of course, I do not understand his love for Eagleton's review, considering the fact that it was just as superficial and rude as The God Delusion, but that's another story altogether.

I think that important thing is that most of us do not disagree on the facts of the matter. We can all agree that The God Delusion is rather simplistic, and at times poorly-researched. We part ways in our explanation and reaction to these facts. They don't bother me because I see the Dawkins' value as a consciousness-raiser, and not necessarily a master-arguer for atheism. It also doesn't bother me because this book isn't written for those who have studied theology and the philosophy of religion. (There's always Michael Martin, Hume, and Mackie for that.)

And for anyone who doubts Dawkins' ability to make atheism a subject of debate and discussion, just look at the uproar it has caused--not only in this community, but out there in the real world, too. We were discussing this book before it even came out, for crying out loud! And that, my friends, is a good thing for atheism. Fiske is right that Dawkins' portrayal can be simplistic--but that just makes a great segue for deeper discussions of these issues, from closer examinations of the arguments for God's existence to an analysis of morality and religion. The value of Dawkins' book is in the discussion it can provoke on the topic, and the exposure it can make for viewpoints that express freethinking.

Oh, and Chris, call me SG for short. I will not respond to "saint" because I am the furthest thing from one, and while I most certainly do have a digestive problem that would make the name "gas" fitting, I don't really want to make that fact known public. So SG it is!

Visit my website at http://www.saintgasoline.com if you like fart jokes, poop jokes, or jokes about other hilarious substances.




Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:24 am
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