Author Topic: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion  (Read 45199 times)

Offline raven

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #45 on: January 17, 2013, 06:33:21 AM »
Religion is not alone in these features. Look at fandom for sports and media for example.

Or look at the crude caricature of science which substitutes for real science among a large portion of the CQ membership.

One of the top posters there told a story about how he used to be some sort of religious fundamentalist, until he read a book by some angry atheist, and now he believes in science.  Although he's changed teams, he's still playing the same sport - I don't see much evidence of scientific thought processes in his posts.
CQ? I do not believe I am familiar with that acronym.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 06:44:53 AM by raven »

Offline Tanalia

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #46 on: January 17, 2013, 07:05:00 AM »
CQ (Collegiate Quarterly) is a devotional Bible-study guide for young adults, ages 18–35, published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Offline raven

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #47 on: January 17, 2013, 07:14:12 AM »
Ah. I am unfamiliar with that publication, though I do agree that some people treat Science! more like a religion as opposed to the process that actual science is.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 07:22:12 AM by raven »

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #48 on: January 17, 2013, 08:54:31 AM »

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  E.g. eugenics.
This belongs in a different category.

No.  It is an example of the category I am discussing, albeit extreme.  The overstepping of scientist into social policy without a sound scientific grounding for his beliefs.  Eugenics was promoted by scientist and politicians, such as Woodrow Wilson, to justify prejudiced.  In using the imperature of science, it gave people in power justification for all sorts of horrible acts.  Histories have tied eugenics and how it was applied to the South during the early part of the century into today's evolution debate.  The thought is that people in the poorer and more rural South were essentially told that science had deemed them less fit, and the anti evolutionary trend we see today is,in part, a descendant reaction to that. 

I do not mean to tie Dawkins intentions into this or question his motives.  But the  following is among the reasons I get concerned about his, or anyone's, overstepping science in an effort to affect social policy.  People, as a whole, are no different  a century after the eugenics movement and can and do use external "justifications" for our prejudices.  The title of Dawkins books claims the idea of God is a "delusion", it is not a far stretch for someone else to refine this into the idea that religious people are delusional. And not far from there for some authority to claim religious people, or more likely some troublesome religious minority, are mentally ill or naturally defective and should be treated as such.  Justified under the false, but nevertheless socially compelling, imperature of science. We did it a hundred years ago with eugenics and Nazism based on a false reading of Darwin. We can do it again. 
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Not Myself

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #49 on: January 17, 2013, 10:51:23 AM »
Ah. I am unfamiliar with that publication,

As am I.  I meant this place.
The internet - where bigfoot is real and the moon landings aren't.

Offline ka9q

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #50 on: January 17, 2013, 06:31:49 PM »
CQ (Collegiate Quarterly) is a devotional Bible-study guide for young adults, ages 18–35, published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
CQ is also an amateur radio magazine; "CQ" is the traditional Morse Code symbol for "calling any station". I had trouble figuring out how it fit into this discussion. :-)

Offline raven

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #51 on: January 17, 2013, 07:14:23 PM »
Ah. I am unfamiliar with that publication,

As am I.  I meant this place.
I had a feeling that was what you were referring to.

Offline Tanalia

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #52 on: January 17, 2013, 07:40:19 PM »
Ah. I am unfamiliar with that publication,

As am I.  I meant this place.
Ah, I had assumed the religious connection from the overall discussion.  I did know about the radio reference (CQ = seek you) and the Congressional Quarterly, but didn't see any way they fit the topic.

Offline George Tirebiter

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #53 on: January 17, 2013, 11:14:54 PM »

Offline ka9q

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #54 on: January 18, 2013, 02:39:29 AM »
But the  following is among the reasons I get concerned about his, or anyone's, overstepping science in an effort to affect social policy.
I understand, but I think Dawkins and other biologists are still best known for reacting to those who overstep social fields into science, specifically those who deny evolutionary biology and other firmly established scientific principles on religious grounds. He's entirely right to emphasize that evolution isn't any less true just because some misguided people misused it to rationalize all sorts of odious behavior. Science is descriptive, not proscriptive.

As a biologist, Dawkins is ideally situated to refute creationism. But why should he limit himself to that when he sees religion causing many other kinds of nonconsensual harm? There are all sorts of false but firmly unshakeable beliefs that prompt people to do horrible things to each other and we don't seem to have a problem labeling them as "delusional" unless they involve religion. Why should it be exempt?

Dawkins and other outspoken atheists continually cite the harm they perceive religion causes to others, and I don't think they need to apologize for this. Governments and laws exist (or are supposed to exist) precisely to protect people from harming each other, and as citizens in liberal democracies we're supposed to continually participate in improving those laws.

But if Dawkins were to advocate action against people solely for their personal religious beliefs that harm no one else, he would cross the line just as the bluenoses do when they tell consenting adults what they can't do within the privacy of their own bedrooms. Now I might have missed something, but I've never seen him do this.

Many people falsely portray Dawkins and other atheists as out to deny their freedom of religion because they're simply in denial that their religiously-motivated actions do in fact harm others. Worse, some feel that their religions entitle them to cause such harm. They just don't seem to understand that while religious freedom is a basic principle of our country, it does not include the freedom to harm others or to use the machinery of the state to coerce others to follow their personal views.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 02:42:54 AM by ka9q »

Offline raven

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #55 on: January 18, 2013, 05:04:21 AM »
That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater though. Yes, said bathwater is so scummy the baby certainly could use a change. My God, it is among the most toxic and horrifying bathwater possible, to continue the metaphor. But religion and faith though have also inspired great acts of good and beauty. Many men and woman of faith have also been scientists. Michael Faraday in particular is well known for treating his research almost as an act of worship.
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork." to quote one old book.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #56 on: January 18, 2013, 08:31:53 AM »
That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater though. Yes, said bathwater is so scummy the baby certainly could use a change. My God, it is among the most toxic and horrifying bathwater possible, to continue the metaphor. But religion and faith though have also inspired great acts of good and beauty. Many men and woman of faith have also been scientists. Michael Faraday in particular is well known for treating his research almost as an act of worship.
In a time where religion was much more pervasive and prevalent, it's not wonder that most scientists were religious. They were also times of much lesser scientific knowledge, so a lot of natural things that needed explaining were not explained, hence allowing more room for a god hypothesis. Nowadays, the religious scientists are a small minority.

Nobody's forcing others to abandon their faith here. However, as I've tried to point out,  a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position, requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith. And one should keep the faith to himself, it should not affect others, especially in a negative way.
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"The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork." to quote one old book.
And see how it got science stuck when people tried to fit those firmaments to match observations.

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #57 on: January 18, 2013, 08:45:56 AM »
But the  following is among the reasons I get concerned about his, or anyone's, overstepping science in an effort to affect social policy.
I understand

I am glad we are communicating on this topic. 

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As a biologist, Dawkins is ideally situated to refute creationism.
Yes he is, and he tears them a new on with regularity.

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he sees religion causing many other kinds of nonconsensual harm?

This begs the question that "religion" is causing the harm. Rather than lets say, an underlying human trait that manifests in many ways.


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There are all sorts of false but firmly unshakeable beliefs that prompt people to do horrible things to each other and we don't seem to have a problem labeling them as "delusional" unless they involve religion. Why should it be exempt?

There are also all sorts of false unshakable beliefs that we don't recognize as delusional.  Look at what socialism did in the Soviet Union.  We don't scientifically label modern Marxist or Hegelian believers delusional.  My thought on the mater is that humans have a vast array of behaviors and modes of mind within the overall continuum of "normal."  Dawkins selects one subset of one portion of that continuum (religion) and plants a label on it.  In labeling them "delusional," instead of addressing the practical modes and behaviors, he stops the debate.  It is an unscientific practice.  His gene centered evolutionary view is not proven in any empirical way to support his work on this topic, so say his scientific critics.  It may be a good contribution to explain what we have observed about evolution, but it has not been show to be a complete or exclusive mechanism for evolution with predictive powers that stretch to all human behavior, in my understanding. 

I think we should be investigating the undying human traits and root social causes that lead people to hold fundamentalist  beliefs and acknowledging that it is a human behavior that occurs both in and out of religion, rather than focusing on religion.  It is a far more interesting, scientific and less divisive way to address the problem.  The problems of fundamentalist thinking can fall on the religious and the secular.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 09:15:36 AM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Andromeda

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #58 on: January 18, 2013, 08:47:12 AM »
However, as I've tried to point out,  a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position, requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith.

I disagree with this.  There is a big difference between a scientist's intellectual life and his/her internal, personal life.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov.

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #59 on: January 18, 2013, 08:59:46 AM »
a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position
There is nothing intellectually dishonest about acknowledging holding non-scientific beliefs.  Dishonesty comes only in portraying beliefs s other than what they are and it cuts both ways. 

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requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith.


You beg the question that one can, does and should require evidence for everything in life.


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And one should keep the faith to himself, it should not affect others, especially in a negative way.


People should not share their unscientific thoughts and experiences?  Who is to decide what is "negative?"
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett