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PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discussion 
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Post PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discussion
Please use this thread for discussing the Preface to "Unweaving the Rainbow." Thank you and enjoy! :)

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:53 pm



Mon May 05, 2003 8:03 pm
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Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Reading this book was a milestone in my life. To finally have affirmation that others, many others, had the same perspective about science as I was an eye opener in many ways.

Oh, I read science but I had not found anyone expressing the thoughts behind the why and the utter joy in the chase that I feel when doing so. Dawkins changed that for me, and I'll be forever grateful.

As an atheist I have gotten the - But why do you even get up in the morning? - type of questions. This just floors me. I honestly find it hard to understand how someone could even ask the question. To me, the total coolness in explorating the world around us makes it quite easy to get up in the morning. And to do so with a smile on my face, anticipating the day.

Dawkins addresses this in the preface; how he feels about the wonder of exploring science. The first time I read it I gave a huge sigh, and thought...

There. That's how I feel.

It was affirmation for a most important aspect of my life.


Lynne




Tue May 06, 2003 10:07 am


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
I used to feel the same way. Growing up Newton was my hero - he symbolized human achievement to me. I idolized him and cultivated a profound admiration for scientific endeavor. I remember nights when I'd stare into the sky and think about the cosmos as tears welled up in my eyes. Since the third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist.

Then that part of me died. I can't explain why. I feel like I should miss it, but I don't. It's as if that part of me has been closed off. I still like science and think its fascinating, but I've lost my personal drive to scientifically understand nature. I don't know why I changed.




Thu May 08, 2003 1:43 am


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
arcAngle
Quote:
As an atheist I have gotten the - But why do you even get up in the morning? - type of questions. This just floors me. I honestly find it hard to understand how someone could even ask the question
.

I get that question a lot from Christians. Most of the time I won't even discuss it with them, because after twenty years of trying, they don't listen they just wait for you to finish before starting in on their attempt at fulfilling the "Great Commission". But when I am not in a tolerant mood, or the person has crossed the line from being polite to rude. I ask them, "How do you get up in the morning?" You believe that all men are sinners, that nothing any man can do is worthy of your God, that only a blood, human sacrifice makes your life worth living. Quite frankly, if I held such depressing, self-loathing beliefs, I would have to consider suicide. But the question has no effect, they have convinced themselves that these are things to be proud of and are so deluded that they can't how bizarre these beliefs are.

Which segues nicely to my favorite part of the preface, where Dr. Dawkins talks about the delusion section of the book and tells the story about Michael Shermer and a crowd turning on him when he debunked a spiritualist. I put a lot of margin notes there including one about what someone called the "rationalist's fallacy" somewhere else in these forums. My base margin question, "Why? Why would anyone believe/behave this way?" Is it that they "revel in mystery" like Dr. Dawkins suggests? I don't think so, because science has so many more wonderful mysteries than cheap magic.

I am rambling, and I am not certain that asking why questions between rationalists and mystics has any purpose at all. They don't see how we reason and we don't see how they believe. They only use reason when it will further their beliefs.

Timothy Schoonover says,
Quote:
"Growing up Newton was my hero - he symbolized human achievement to me" and "Since the third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist...Then that part of me died"


Who do you think symbolizes human achievement now?

At first blush I would pick Richard Feynman, also a basic science researcher. But the more I thought about it I realized I admired the technologists who apply science to solve humanity's problems just as much. People like Edison, Tesla, Gates, and Jonas Salk (my list is a lot bigger than this, I am sure your is too). And it didn't bother me at all that many of them did this for profit, in fact it added to my admiration of them. Do you think that maybe your focus shifted as you became older and became more practically oriented?

Currently, I have read about three quarters of "Unweaving the Rainbow". The main premise, that science should instill a sense of wonder and awe capable of inspiring poetry is one of the things that I took away from Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" almost twenty years ago. Though I had flirted with the idea as a teenager I really count the learning experience of "Cosmos" as my beginning in humanistic, rationalistic thought.

"Rainbow" is a very good, thought provoking book. I am glad I decided to join this group because it is also a book I would have never picked to read on my own.




Fri May 09, 2003 9:18 am


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Quote:
Who do you think symbolizes human achievement now?


This question caught me off guard. Honestly, it's a hole in my life that has never been replaced. I don't feel that way about anybody.




Fri May 09, 2003 3:10 pm


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Quote:
This question caught me off guard. Honestly, it's a hole in my life that has never been replaced. I don't feel that way about anybody.


Interesting. Now that I have had time to think, if I were to pick one person to fit my "symbol of human achievement" pedestal, it would be Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin was a successful businessman, did basic science research into electricity, was an inventor, a diplomat, a writer, and a politician. He has accomplishments in nearly all of the areas that I consider important. And he was an aetheist.




Sat May 10, 2003 6:54 am


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Quote:
JeffBailey:
Which segues nicely to my favorite part of the preface, where Dr. Dawkins talks about the delusion section of the book and tells the story about Michael Shermer and a crowd turning on him when he debunked a spiritualist. I put a lot of margin notes there including one about what someone called the "rationalist's fallacy" somewhere else in these forums. My base margin question, "Why? Why would anyone believe/behave this way?" Is it that they "revel in mystery" like Dr. Dawkins suggests? I don't think so, because science has so many more wonderful mysteries than cheap magic.



That scenerio struck me as well. I think because I see so much truth in it. Many people don't WANT to know. Don't even want to run the risk of finding out. As evidenced by the outcry against teaching evolution in US schools.

So there you have some of the why of not understanding the joy found in exploring science. I think many are afraid they'll have to change their worldview. Even their views of themselves. I think they're scared. Scared that new knowledge would lessen the perceived value of previous thoughts and experiences.

Some put it on a par with telling children about Santa Claus. Why take away that "wonder"? Thing is, people base their lives on that "wonder". And they would base this on the illusionary wonder of of type with Santa Claus? Their entire life's purpose and meaning?

I'm honestly horrified at the thought.

And yes, discovery of this illusion would mean re-evaluation of many aspects of self. But wouldn't you rather find you've been heading north instead of your intended east after you've traveled only a mile, rather than days down the road?


Lynne




Sat May 10, 2003 11:23 am


Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
I think fear has a lot to do with it, but I think that we should be aware that our motives are regrettably often not commendable. Not to imply anything about Michael Shermer, but sometimes rational criticism of the supernatural can take a self-righteous tone and become openly arrogant. It doesn't really matter what you happen to be defending, if your opponent is full of hostility and contempt, you are going to react negatively and probably with bias. Nobody likes to be made a fool, but that is exactly how many atheists view the situation and make little effort to disguise their perspective. Sometimes, a particularly stubborn individual needs a good dose of reality to slap some sense into him or her, but as a rule I think compassion and clear-headedness will win the day.

Edited by: Timothy Schoonover at: 5/10/03 1:03:10 pm



Sat May 10, 2003 1:02 pm
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Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Quote:
Who do you think symbolizes human achievement now?
Charles Darwin. Richard Dawkins.
Speaking of Richard Dawkins, when he wrote The Blind Watchmaker, the son of a bitch used his own word processor that he wrote in machine language.




Sun May 11, 2003 12:11 am
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Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Lynne

Quote:
Dawkins addresses this in the preface; how he feels about the wonder of exploring science. The first time I read it I gave a huge sigh, and thought...

There. That's how I feel.

I'm so in agreement with you Lynne. I wish I had the skill to communicate my passion for science/reality the way Dawkins does, but I'm happy to at least be able to read and enjoy and reflect on his words.

At times I feel embarrassed about my incredible love of science. Passion is an understatement. Watching the movie "Contact" was one such time where I was fighting back tears on many occasions as I realized I was connecting with the mind of Carl Sagan at that instant. I was literally on the edge of my seat wondering if all the other people in the theater had any idea how powerful the concepts presented in the movie were.

Reading Unweaving the Rainbow has been stirring me emotionally again. Here I sit typing at 5am in the morning...having just read a few more chapters and my mind racing about so much. I wish we all could sit around and have an in-person conversation right now. Message boards are wonderful tools for bringing people together, and chat rooms incorporate "real time" into the dialogue, but nothing compares to face-to-face communication. I'm happy to have met all of you through BookTalk though, and will have to let this online relationship suffice for now. ;)

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:53 pm



Mon May 12, 2003 3:53 am
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Post Re: PREFACE to "Unweaving the Rainbow" - a discuss
Jeff

Quote:
...what someone called the "rationalist's fallacy" somewhere else in these forums.

It might have been me that mentioned that term on these forums. Massimo Pigliucci wrote a Rationally Speaking article called The rationalistic fallacy worth checking out.

Quote:
They only use reason when it will further their beliefs.

This is an example of a quite different fallacy, which has been termed the confirmation bias. Here is how The Skeptic's Dictionary defines this normal human tendency:

Quote:
Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one's beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs.
We all are guilty of committing this error in reasoning from time to time, so the rational person must strive to become aware of when it is happening and do everything possible to not allow it to control their critical thinking faculties.

Quote:
To thine ownself be true...
You said...

Quote:
Currently, I have read about three quarters of "Unweaving the Rainbow". The main premise, that science should instill a sense of wonder and awe capable of inspiring poetry is one of the things that I took away from Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" almost twenty years ago. Though I had flirted with the idea as a teenager I really count the learning experience of "Cosmos" as my beginning in humanistic, rationalistic thought.
Me too! Carl Sagan's Cosmos was by far the most influential book/show I've ever read or watched. I place Dawkins in the very same category as Sagan, in that they both have an incredible knack for making very complex sciences understandable to laymen. Both inspire a sense of awe and wonder for their fields of study, but neither was limited to their field. They share a passion for science, reason and humanism...and neither were/are willing to sit back passively when science was/is being abused by pseudo-scientists such as creationsists.

Quote:
I am glad I decided to join this group because it is also a book I would have never picked to read on my own.
This means a lot to me. I too have found myself reading books and thinking about subjects I probably never would have had it not been for BookTalk and our members. I'm really happy to see you and other members getting as much out of this community as I do. :)

Quote:
...if I were to pick one person to fit my "symbol of human achievement" pedestal, it would be Benjamin Franklin.
Excellent choice! Ben Franklin would top my list too, with Leonardo da Vinci, Darwin, Plato, Einstein, Jefferson, Brunelleschi and Copernicus near the top.

As for modern symbols? Dawkins and Sagan sit high atop my personal list. Gould was brilliant, but his stance on religion pissed me off. Besides, I never got the feeling that Gould was in love with science as much as himself. It is abundantly clear that Sagan and Dawkins were and are good people with a desire to share their personal passion with the world.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:54 pm



Mon May 12, 2003 4:29 am
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Post Re: Advance Questions
On the contrary. A good scientist with a strong theory welcomes questions about his theory. It is hardly a question of "stumping" him.

'I think it would be inappropriate to introduce 'debating points' in an educational seminar.' Yes, quite. Debating points are totally inappropriate for educational seminars and much more relevant to cross country skiing.

lol.

Edited by: sqwark at: 6/14/03 4:15 am



Sat Jun 14, 2003 12:24 am
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Post Re: Advance Questions
OMG you are cracking me up! :lol Look, all we're saying is please be polite and don't monopolize the 1-hr. chat session. Nothing you have said so far has been out of line or a problem, so don't get me wrong. I need to always make sure that we have a mature group of people in our author chats and I'm really not worried at this point.

I still suggest you create a thread in this forum for asking questions to Professor Dawkins. He may respond or he may not. Who knows. But one hour is over in a flash and the purpose is not to debate him and/or bombard him with questions that require extensive answers. This is supposed to be fun.

Chris




Sat Jun 14, 2003 1:52 am
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Post Non-debating educational seminars ..
As I have made clear in my posts and emails, I have no intention of being rude or monopolizing anything. I am a newbie, after all. I wouldn't be so presumptuous. Moreover, I don't believe Dawkins will answer any such questions. He is a skilled rhetorician with major flaws in his theory. I don't believe he has the integrity (or geniune scientific interest) to answer a simple but highly pertinent question arising from current genetic research. He will ignore it. He is after all, here to promote the book under his self-created auspicous of "Professor for the Public Understanding of Science". But it should be asked, nevertheless. Just for the record.




Sat Jun 14, 2003 3:13 am


Post Finally weighing in...
Although watching this back and forth is probably a lot more fun than participating in it, I feel I just can't resist anymore. You managed to pique my interest by narrowing your barrage of attacks against "neo-" or "ultra-" Darwinian evolutionary theory by saying you could single out a single question pertaining to recent genetic research. In such, I'd really like to hear it. Since I am myself a biochemistry student with an emphasis on evolutionary biology, focusing on a specific genetic aspect of your arguments might help me to better understand them. Although I'm maybe not as qualified as Prof. Dawkins to answer it, I'd like to give it a try. After all, I do have access (through my university) to just about every major publication and journal in the fields of biology, biochemistry and genetics, stretching back at least 40 years. I believe that though I probably don't possess the answer to your question, a little bit of research would put me in as good a position to at least consider it as anyone. I look forward to hearing it.

Also, as the board moderators have pointed out, this kind of discussion definitely belongs in a new thread, in which I would be more than happy to discuss these topics with you, as they are directly related to my field.

Louis

Edited by: Louis42 at: 6/17/03 5:50 am



Mon Jun 16, 2003 7:58 pm
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