Author Topic: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion  (Read 48122 times)

Offline ka9q

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #90 on: January 19, 2013, 04:07:14 AM »
Indeed, I think the statements of several people have been indicative that they spend considerable time in self-reflection.
There's a lot to be said for going through that on your own instead of just adopting your parents' belief system without question. It wasn't easy but I had no choice.

Dawkins makes the "modest proposal" of insulating children from religion until they're old enough to understand and choose (or not) one on their own. The usual response is "but if we don't indoctrinate our kids from a young age, they won't adopt our religion when they're older!"

Precisely.

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #91 on: January 19, 2013, 04:30:55 AM »
Indeed, I think the statements of several people have been indicative that they spend considerable time in self-reflection.
There's a lot to be said for going through that on your own instead of just adopting your parents' belief system without question. It wasn't easy but I had no choice.

Dawkins makes the "modest proposal" of insulating children from religion until they're old enough to understand and choose (or not) one on their own. The usual response is "but if we don't indoctrinate our kids from a young age, they won't adopt our religion when they're older!"

Precisely.

My reply to such a modest proposal is that is is nonsensical rhetorical BS.  Does Dawkins really want the government  to censor parents to such a degree that they cannot include their children in a substantial portion of family life?  What does he expect parents to do, take children to government daycare centers every Sunday morning for governmental indoctrination  programs?     I doubt that is what he really means, and such satirical proposals sound like stupid anti-religiosity because they take no account of the practical result. 
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #92 on: January 19, 2013, 04:36:12 AM »
Well it might have something to do with the fact that you are implicitly accusing several people here, intentionally or otherwise, of intellectual dishonesty. You don't think people might get a little upset about that?
Perhaps people shouldn't get upset for being called out on such a position, then?

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There is no intellectual dishonesty involved in admitting to oneself the irrationality of some of one's own beliefs.
That's true. However, the intellectual dishonesty comes from the burden of proof part, which should be very clear to scientist. We are not talking about why I think that Repo Man is so bad that it's sort of good; I'm not basing my world on such a trivial irrationality, and it doesn't affect others.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #93 on: January 19, 2013, 04:40:09 AM »
The problem here is your massive overgeneralisation in your initial statements. Earlier on you said religious scientists were intellectually dishonest, then rejected disagreements such as a belief in a non-interventionist god as if we were supposed to know you were not covering all religious beliefs. Similarly, what about Buddhism? Doesn't believe in a god or a divine creator at all, but is definitely a recognised religion.

Here you made a blanket statement, then suggest we misunderstood because you were specifically referring to things such as religious anti-homesexual activities. I think we're all pretty much agreed that things like that are bad, but you didn't specify that to start with.
I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, but Tyson and Dawkins explicitly cover theistic beliefs, so as they are the topic of the thread, I thought it'd be clear to others, too.

Buddhism is quite similar than other main religions in inventing rules and regulations without evidence.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #94 on: January 19, 2013, 04:50:05 AM »
You're missing my point, perhaps deliberately.  I can't remember the exact quote, but in Hogfather, Death talks to Susan about how humanity is all about the things that don't exist.  She argues, but he suggests she mill the universe down to its smallest particles and find her an atom of "justice" or "love."  Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez certainly exist, as does your family.  Your love for them, and their beauty, do not have tangible existence.  They are names we have assigned to something that, from an objective perspective, can be said not to exist.  "Compatibility"?  Find me a particle of that.  The object of desire exists, but "desire"?
Emotions, while seemingly immaterial, are the result of chemical and electrical interactions in our brains. We have at least some sort of understanding on how they happen, and a plausible physical basis for the phenomena (I don't mean to say that science actually tries to explain love, for example). For a god or gods, there is no such basis.

Offline Andromeda

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #95 on: January 19, 2013, 04:50:56 AM »
Well it might have something to do with the fact that you are implicitly accusing several people here, intentionally or otherwise, of intellectual dishonesty. You don't think people might get a little upset about that?
Perhaps people shouldn't get upset for being called out on such a position, then?

So in arguing against religions which you believe affect others badly, you are dictating how others should think and feel?


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There is no intellectual dishonesty involved in admitting to oneself the irrationality of some of one's own beliefs.
That's true. However, the intellectual dishonesty comes from the burden of proof part, which should be very clear to scientist. We are not talking about why I think that Repo Man is so bad that it's sort of good; I'm not basing my world on such a trivial irrationality, and it doesn't affect others.

Again with the personal insults.

As I have said repeatedly any personal, private beliefs I may or may not hold don't affect anyone else, either.  Therefore there is no burden of proof because I make no claims one way or the other.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov.

Offline ka9q

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #96 on: January 19, 2013, 05:00:45 AM »
ka9q, from your earlier comments, it seems you think that the beliefs a scientist should have are those that can be empirically proven, and anything else is either hypocritical or delusional.
That's not what I said. I explicitly said I strongly support freedom of religion. Consenting adults have the right to believe whatever they want just as they can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own bedrooms. They don't have to justify either to anyone else.

But I draw the line when these beliefs are used to justify harming third parties. There are many examples, but one of the worst is forcibly indoctrinating children in a religion that systematically engages in psychological child abuse (and now, we discover, physical abuse as well).

Everyone in a liberal democracy has the right to say what they think the law should be. But this can't work unless we demand a rational basis for any proposed law. I am sick and tired of people saying that gay marriage (or sex), fornication, birth control and all manner of so-called "immoral" behavior should be outlawed simply "because God said so". And I resent being told that I'm out of line (not necessarily by you!) to point out that hiding personal prejudices behind religion is a cowardly way to short-circuit the debate over public policy. This is a secular liberal democracy, not a theocracy.



« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 05:27:53 AM by ka9q »

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #97 on: January 19, 2013, 05:09:07 AM »
An intellectually honest answer would be, "That is my faith. I believe it without proof." An answer much like the one Gillianren gave earlier.  (Not intending to put words in her mouth.)
I think we'll just have to disagree on this one. You and several others don't seem to agree with me on the burden of proof part, so I don't see how this part of the conversation would lead to anything fruitful.

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I interpreted "evidence for everything in life" as well, everything in life, material and non-material.    I see your  statement of "believe to exist" as perhaps meaning only material existence.  If you meant only material existence, then we are in agreement. One needs to have proof for a claim of something having materiel existence or an ability act on the material.  One need not have proof to say that one's spiritual impulse exists and influences decisions in one's life.
I have seen no evidence of a separate spiritual part of human beings. Why is it exempt from burden of proof?

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This does occur with beliefs religious and not.
Of course.
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Although religious hatred may be the most prevalent, I just don't see much ultimate difference between religious and secular hatred.
To me, the main difference is that the former is totally unnecessary, sometimes being bred to people from childhood (see for example Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi's antisemitic statements). There can be justified hatred, when for example you have been grievously wronged, but "God says so" is not a justification.

Offline ka9q

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #98 on: January 19, 2013, 05:17:26 AM »
Does Dawkins really want the government  to censor parents to such a degree that they cannot include their children in a substantial portion of family life?
What about parents who deny medical care to their children on religious grounds, or forcibly marry them off at age 12 to their cult leader, or what have you?

You probably agree that parents' rights aren't that absolute. But what about a much more widespread and worrying practice: denying their children a proper education because established scientific topics like evolution, comprehensive sex education, and even global warming conflict with their backward religious beliefs? I'm sure there are some excellent homeschoolers. But there's no quality control, and most parents who homeschool sure aren't doing their kids any favors.

I used the phrase "modest proposal" for a reason. Yes, it's satirical but like all satire it has a serious point: to make people think about what they're doing.

« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 05:31:08 AM by ka9q »

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #99 on: January 19, 2013, 05:21:37 AM »
So in arguing against religions which you believe affect others badly, you are dictating how others should think and feel?
To begin with, the word is not "believe" in the sentence above. It's "observe".

Many countries have, and in my opinion all should have, freedom of religion, including freedom from religion. Unfortunately, those things are still more an ideal and not the practice.
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Again with the personal insults.
What would those be?

Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #100 on: January 19, 2013, 05:23:39 AM »
Perhaps people shouldn't get upset for being called out on such a position, then?

Excuse me? I will certainly get upset when someone accuses me of dishonesty where there is none.

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That's true. However, the intellectual dishonesty comes from the burden of proof part, which should be very clear to scientist.

There is no burden of proof. Many beliefs cannot be explained rationally, and cannot be proven. By definition you cannot prove the existence of an omnipotent entity that can do whatever the hell it wants because there is no way to test it. A test requires a frmaework of rules and patterns that must be followed. If the god I am trying to prove exists operates that framework anyway, how can I judge the results of any test? He could have just messed with my test to make himself appear to be non-existent. (According to some, he does that anyway by making the world appear to be billions of years old when it's only 6000. I don't think he is, and i wouldn't want to worship any such intentionally deceitful entity anyway, but I have no way to prove that he isn't doing that, have I?) But equally you cannot disprove it either. That only leaves belief. Whenever it comes to questions of religion and gods, belief is all we have and all we can have. Every single person, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or atheist is operating on a belief system because there is no other way to work in such an area. The only intellectual dishonesty comes from claiming that one's beliefs in the matter are rational. I have not done so, Andromeda has not done so, and gillianren has openly stated her beliefs are irrational. Where is this dishonesty you crow about?

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We are not talking about why I think that Repo Man is so bad that it's sort of good; I'm not basing my world on such a trivial irrationality, and it doesn't affect others.

Many people's belief in their god or gods does not affect others significantly either. You are taking the worst excesses of religious oppression and tarring all religions and religious people with the same brush.
"There's this idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid. My arse! Bloke who was a professor of dentistry for forty years does NOT have a debate with some eejit who removes his teeth with string and a door!"  - Dara O'Briain

Offline Andromeda

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #101 on: January 19, 2013, 05:35:39 AM »
So in arguing against religions which you believe affect others badly, you are dictating how others should think and feel?
To begin with, the word is not "believe" in the sentence above. It's "observe".

Many countries have, and in my opinion all should have, freedom of religion, including freedom from religion. Unfortunately, those things are still more an ideal and not the practice.
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Again with the personal insults.
What would those be?

"Intellectual dishonesty"
"Trivial irrationality"
Your constant assertion of your absolute opinion that religious beliefs always cause harm.  Beliefs cause no harm to anyone except the person who has them, if at all.  Actions and behaviour can cause harm, but that's not what you are saying.

Some people cause harm to others in the name of religion.  Most people don't.  Some people cause harm to others in the name of a sports team, a video game, a movie etc etc.  Most don't.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #102 on: January 19, 2013, 05:49:27 AM »
Excuse me? I will certainly get upset when someone accuses me of dishonesty where there is none.
As the word "dishonesty" seems to antagonize you, perhaps you can come up with a better one for a person who follows certain rules for everything except for one thing, which is for reasons not given exempt from those rules.

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Many people's belief in their god or gods does not affect others significantly either. You are taking the worst excesses of religious oppression and tarring all religions and religious people with the same brush.
I'm not sure where I have done that, but for the main religions, one part of the situation are the moderate believers, who either silently approve or at least don't vocally object the actions of the more fundamental believers. How often do you see Muslims decrying for example the recent US embassy attack? Or Buddhists denouncing the Buddhist-led acts of violence in Asia?

Of course there are different kinds of believers, and it hasn't been my intention to put them all into the same basket.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #103 on: January 19, 2013, 05:52:46 AM »
"Intellectual dishonesty"
As I've already said above, perhaps you can find a better term for it, then.
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"Trivial irrationality"
How can something I used to describe myself be a personal insult?
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Your constant assertion of your absolute opinion that religious beliefs always cause harm.
Where have I said that?
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Beliefs cause no harm to anyone except the person who has them, if at all.  Actions and behaviour can cause harm, but that's not what you are saying.
I don't see it in so simple terms. Beliefs can be the basis of those actions.

Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #104 on: January 19, 2013, 05:58:15 AM »
As the word "dishonesty" seems to antagonize you, perhaps you can come up with a better one for a person who follows certain rules for everything except for one thing, which is for reasons not given exempt from those rules.

The reasons are given: the rules cannot be applied. There is no dishonesty in simultaneously being a rational scientist and holding irrational beliefs that have no way to be rational in the first place. That's just being human. It's not just one thing either. You have already conceded that things like which movie or music you like best are irrational. Is that being dishonest? Must a scientist refuse to acknowledge his preferences for a certain music because he cannot justify it to himself and others? If not, why is holding a religious belief dishonest?

As I said, the dishonestly lies in pretending irrational beliefs are rational, not in holding the irrational beliefs in the first place.

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How often do you see Muslims decrying for example the recent US embassy attack? Or Buddhists denouncing the Buddhist-led acts of violence in Asia?

Actually quite a few. It just doesn't get as much front page media attention as the atrocities themselves. Nonetheless I have seen numerous news reports, blog entries, and personal conversations where muslims, for example, have denounced the extremists and terrorists who claim to be acting in the name of their religion.

http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

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Of course there are different kinds of believers, and it hasn't been my intention to put them all into the same basket.

It certainly does come across that way when you make blanket statements.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 06:01:41 AM by Jason Thompson »
"There's this idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid. My arse! Bloke who was a professor of dentistry for forty years does NOT have a debate with some eejit who removes his teeth with string and a door!"  - Dara O'Briain