The Thread Formerly Known As Knocking Dawkins
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23-08-2012, 03:19 PM (This post was last modified: 29-08-2012 10:05 AM by Erxomai.)
The Thread Formerly Known As Knocking Dawkins
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23-08-2012, 03:27 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
I have read the Blind Watchmaker but not the Selfish Gene (it is on my list). I like Dawkins, I think we need a wide variety of styles from our side of the argument. While he can be quite sharp, there is a time and place for that and he always hits the mark.

I really liked Watchmaker and enjoyed Delusion.

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
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23-08-2012, 03:47 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
(23-08-2012 03:19 PM)Red Celt Wrote:  During the Christmas break of 1991, some channel-hopping left me watching something called the Royal Institution Lectures. It is an annual event, where selected lecturers give a series of talks on a subject that interests them. On this occasion, it was someone I'd never heard of: Richard Dawkins.

The lectures are aimed at giving an awareness to the layman and the audience includes a large number of children. I watched this Dawkins guy explain about evolution and I was gripped from beginning to end.

Now... I don't know about anyone else, but evolution was always something that I accepted without fully understanding how it worked. Much as, in a post-apocalyptic world, I would be completely unable to create a television, even though the basic concept is something that I understand. The depth of my knowledge just isn't there.

When the lectures ended, I took a trip to a local bookshop (remember the days before Amazon?) and bought The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. I didn't get The Extended Phenotype (and I never have gotten around to getting that).

Reading The Selfish Gene was a moment of awakening for me. Never has a single book changed the way that I looked at the world. That simple fact has remained true ever since. I went from accepting evolution to actually understanding how it worked. I mean, there are still some uncertainties, but what is understood is understood robustly.

Over the years (especially when encountering an American audience), Dawkins took repeated criticism from Creationists. It was that, above everything else, that made him push towards what would eventually become The God Delusion. I didn't like that book, so much. Not because I didn't agree with it, but because it didn't contain anything new (to me) which hadn't already been exhausted (at length) in places like alt.atheism.

More recently, I've encountered people who happily bash Dawkins. Including atheists who somehow feel as if Dawkins' increasing-antagonism is unrepresentative about how they feel about religion. Dawkins, after all, just goes too far.

With my long-standing respect for him as an evolutionary-biologist, I resent the disdain that is felt towards Dawkins by those who (loosely) hold the same view and are fighting the same fight.

Similarly, at a social anthropology lecture last year, the lecturer mentioned memes a couple of times. Each time, he added (rather unnecessarily) that he hated Dawkins. He asked if anyone in the lecture hall knew what a meme was. I looked around, waiting for someone to respond (because, as a mature student, I do my best not to impinge too much on the youngsters) and nobody replied. I stuck my hand up and told him that a meme was an idea/thought that survived and was replicated, much as a gene. I then felt like telling him that he could refer to memes without dissing Dawkins, much as he could refer to Communism without dissing Marx.

But hey ho.

Basically, I wanted to defend the guy. I mean, I'm not convinced that he'd be amongst my first choices as a dinner-party guest, but there's really no need to dislike a scientist who has done so much when it comes to presenting evolution to those who didn't (previously) have the information easily to hand.

As a non hard line atheist my position regarding Dawkins has become more positive.
In the main, after one reading, I tend to agree with much of what you say, though, as for The Selfish Gene, I think he may have changed his position somewhat in some views expressed therein.

Like Hume, Popper, and a few other philosophers, he does not claim science to be the ultimate panacea and his views,to me, seem to simply reflect the power of science as opposed to speculation, while not claiming that phenomena outside this method is absolutely impossible. Rather, he seems to be saying......go for high probability, rather than highly abstract meanderings.
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23-08-2012, 03:51 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
Dunno. I gone off him a bit. I really like him but... these videos he makes of him talking to dumb people... it's OK but I don't really wanna watch it.
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23-08-2012, 04:03 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
(23-08-2012 03:51 PM)morondog Wrote:  Dunno. I gone off him a bit. I really like him but... these videos he makes of him talking to dumb people... it's OK but I don't really wanna watch it.

Some of those vids have him opposing such gross dumbos, it is off putting......I get your drift; it makes him look misplaced or condescending.
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23-08-2012, 04:07 PM (This post was last modified: 23-08-2012 04:14 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Knocking Dawkins
I'm really glad he has never stooped to debating Craig. It drives Craig crazy. I do understand his militancy. It may not be my approach, but I certainly understand it. I really like his debate with Cardinal Pell in Australia last Fall. I wish he would stop, and take a course or two, in either Religion and/or Physics. He is so smart, he could absorb it an a few weeks. He always sticks to his own field. His debates would be vastly improved if he could meet the debators on their own ground.

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23-08-2012, 04:10 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
I give him shit for theology cause he sucks at it, but he's an excellent biologist and a wonderful activist. Thumbsup

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23-08-2012, 04:10 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
Really, I watch some of those videos, like the one that had an epic thread here with some lady named Wendy something... and it was infuriating how passive in the argument he was being. He kept referring to the same ideas and the woman was obviously not going to take that as existing.

I think watching plenty of Hitchens debates has made me see Dawkins in a light that isn't as strongly aggressive verbally. That's not a knock against him at all though; in those videos it can be annoying but in general he has a great deal of factual information.

What I fear is that with the internet culture ongoing, in the future decades when he dies, they'll refer to him as the man who brought forth Meme theory.. and sorta wrote these books yadda yadda

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23-08-2012, 04:21 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
(23-08-2012 04:10 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  like the one that had an epic thread here with some lady named Wendy something... and it was infuriating how passive in the argument he was being. He kept referring to the same ideas and the woman was obviously not going to take that as existing.

Ah yes. Wendy what's-her-twCensored
That was infuriating. There needs to be a cultural "name" or title, or "something" for that infuriating bullshit, where people "do" that condescending bullshit, and smile sweetly, and show their teeth, like she does. It needs a "behavioral" name, or formal descriptor. She kept making serious mistakes with her words, like she didn't even know the meanings of what she was saying. It's almost worth going and watching. I kept thinking "WTF. She didn't really just say what I think she said, did she". Dawkins let her get by with a lot.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein (That's a JOKE, ya idiot)
"And you quit footing the bill for these nations that are oil rich - we're paying for some of their *squirmishes* that have been going on for centuries" - Sarah Palin
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23-08-2012, 04:33 PM
RE: Knocking Dawkins
(23-08-2012 04:21 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(23-08-2012 04:10 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  like the one that had an epic thread here with some lady named Wendy something... and it was infuriating how passive in the argument he was being. He kept referring to the same ideas and the woman was obviously not going to take that as existing.

Ah yes. Wendy what's-her-twCensored
That was infuriating. There needs to be a cultural "name" or title, or "something" for that infuriating bullshit, where people "do" that condescending bullshit, and smile sweetly, and show their teeth, like she does. It needs a "behavioral" name, or formal descriptor. She kept making serious mistakes with her words, like she didn't even know the meanings of what she was saying. It's almost worth going and watching. I kept thinking "WTF. She didn't really just say what I think she said, did she". Dawkins let her get by with a lot.

What happens when you spare the rod. children get spoiled. Wendy could use some rod... Angel

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