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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Dawkins’

Pat Robertson’s recent remarks (see video) on the Haiti earthquake have raised eyebrows and extreme reactions from many fronts, from the religious to the atheists.

Chicago Breaking News reports a Reverend Al Sharpton criticizing Robertson’s comments while calling for relief efforts for Haiti:

Sharpton, at Christ Universal Temple in the South Side on Sunday, said the statements were “repulsive” and “un-Christian.”

But Sharpton had no calls for apologies.

“I wouldn’t call on Pat Robertson to do anything. I think that the best way to deal with a glass that appears muddy is to put a clean glass next to it,” he said. “I hope the clean glass of those fair and humane-thinking religious leaders can be compared” to them.

Meanwhile on the Washington Post controversial atheist and author Richard Dawkins blasted not Robertson but religious sentiments such as those of Sharpton’s, arguing against the “hypocrisy” of Christians:

You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson’s suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who – as you tell your congregations even if you don’t believe it yourself – ‘cast out devils’. You even believe (or you don’t disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the ‘devils’ in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?

I find the extreme exchanges triggered by Robertson interesting not because of the clash of religious and non-religious sentiments (although that is also incidentally fun to read and watch). However what intrigues me is that the polarization of opinion is not between pro- and anti-Robertson, but on whether Robertson should qualify as representative of religious or non-religious sentiments.

Simply put: both the Christians and atheists seem to agree that Robertson was being an ass–but are divided on whether he (being an ass) represents Christians.

The “no true scotsman” fallacy comes to mind. Funny thing is, if Dawkins and Sharpton are to be our benchmarks, both sides of the Robertson issue are guilty of it, which is ironic.

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The Atheist Bus Ad Campaign

I finally got a video of the bus campaign. In this video we even see Richard Dawkins, the author of  “The God Delusion”.

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First they had the Christian ads. Now the atheists respond.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090106/lf_afp/britainreligionroadoffbeat_newsmlmmd

LONDON (AFP) – About 800 buses bearing the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” set off on Britain’s roads Tuesday in an atheist campaign responding to a set of Christian ads.

The campaign, which will also see slogans plastered across London’s subway system, was paid for by more than 140,000 pounds (200,000 dollars, 150,000 euros) in public donations, the British Humanist Association said.

It was the brainchild of comedy writer Ariane Sherine, 28, who objected to the Christian adverts on some London buses that carried an Internet address warning that people who rejected God would spend eternity in “torment in hell”.

She sought five-pound donations towards a “reassuring” counter-advertisement and won support from the BHA and atheist campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins.

And guess what, it seems that atheist campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins is indeed pushing through with what he calls ‘militant atheism’. See these videos where he talked on the topic earlier.

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British anthropologist Desmond Morris recently paid an essay tribute to Charles Darwin, who coined the theory of evolution by natural selection. An excerpt from his essay on the DailyMail which I recommend you read for greater appreciation of Darwin:

What kind of a man was Charles Darwin? To the naive mind he is sometimes pictured as a giant intellect of Victorian England, with his long, flowing white beard and his solemn expression, the product of a brilliantly studious education and intense academic application.

Well, no. In reality he was a mess, both physically and mentally, which makes his gigantic contribution to human understanding even more extraordinary.

An interesting part of Morris’ essay is his description of the on-going debate between evolutionists inspired by Darwin’s work and the Creationist camp largely composed of religious fundamentalists:

The point is, Charles Darwin was one of those rare individuals who devoted themselves entirely to the pursuit of knowledge, to the detriment of everything else in their lives. He was, and remains, one of our greatest ever thinkers  –  a man whose discovery changed the way we see the world.

As a lifelong naturalist myself, he is not only a personal hero but the root from which all my own professional studies stemmed. Which is why I feel it so important to celebrate the anniversary of his birth  –  if only because I fear many of his core discoveries are in danger of becoming muddled through the prism of modern spiritualism.

For there are plenty of people today  –  not all of them religious fundamentalists  –  who seem to think Darwinian evolution cannot explain why, for the most part, humans are a uniquely civilised species.

After all, they posit, how can Darwinism explain empathy, charity or self-sacrifice? How can it explain the ‘good deeds’ of humans, whether religious or not?

With its emphasis on ‘the survival of the fittest’, isn’t Darwinism simply an excuse for rampant capitalism and personal greed?

To answer this attack, we need to take a closer look at the biology of our species. In our ancient past, when we were evolving as a tribal species, the competition between individuals had to be tempered by a greatly increased urge to cooperate with our companions if our tribe was to flourish.

By a division of labour and by assisting one another, we also helped ourselves to succeed. And one of our great survival weapons was our ability to communicate with one another in much greater detail than other species.

We are not helpful to one another because of some sophisticated moralising, but because we have evolved that way. It is as much a part of our animal nature as is our urge to compete with one another.

That is the way we are, and there is no need to introduce the pious teachings of the Church to make us good  –  it is already in our genes.

Creationists will have none of this, and insist that all of nature is the work of what they now call an ‘intelligent designer’.

If such a being existed, this monstrous designer would have to accept the responsibility for having created all the wonderful life forms we see around us, and then of cruelly inventing countless unspeakable agonies for them in the shape of leprosy, cholera, cancer, syphilis, plague, malaria, AIDS, fevers, parasitic worms and the rest.

What a charmer this designer must be; creationists are welcome to their hideous creation.

Do check out the rest of Morris’ critique in his essay. Meanwhile, I join him in his salute to Darwin and as a perfect companion to his essay, here is a video clip on Darwin by biologist Richard Dawkins which is just as entertaining and thought-provoking:

Meanwhile, the above clip as well as parts 2 and 3 can be viewed in my personal blog here.

Cheers to Charles Darwin for his extraordinary contribution to science and critical thinking.

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At a public address in UC Berkeley, Richard Dawkins explains why offense shouldn’t matter to critical minds, however there are several things which should truly offend the critical thinker.

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Addressing an audience at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Richard Dawkins answers questions relating to Critical Thinking and evolution as well as the mind and the notion of existence and the soul.

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Evolutionist Richard Dawkins goes against Historical Theologian (and former atheist) Alister McGrath at the Oxford Literary Festival. Their talk raises and probes into a lot of key insights and questions regarding religion, science, philosophy, the psychology of belief, and the nature of the universe.

It’s also refreshing to listen to two distinguished speakers speaking concisely and formally about a topic they are both passionate about but without losing their magnanimity.

This is critical thinking.

Check out the debate below (in 7 parts):

(more…)

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